Thursday 26 December 2013

Words of Old Tcheng

The Words of Old Tcheng first appeared in the French journal, Etre, in 1974. 

Where this text first originated and at what time are unknown. It was given by a Buddhist monk in the form of a written document to a Frenchman who was visiting Indochina.
Indications of style suggest that it may belong to the school of Zen founded by Hui Neng, the 6th Zen patriarch.

The Text contains very direct teachings on 'Non Duality,' and because they are eternally relevant, whether they appeared several centuries ago or just yesterday, they are imbued with that special timeless power that propels 'truth' towards opening the minds and hearts of sincere seekers, whoever they may be, where ever they may live, whatever they may do.

For this reason, I decided to include a selection of passages from this text in a post that would be easily available to all who are sincerely interested. The passages below contain points that encompass pith instructions and which, if taken into the heart and meditated upon without thought or contrivance, can lead directly to the recognition of one's own true nature.


Old Tcheng said:

"To see the primordial spirit is to see it whether there are thoughts or not, 
whether one is immobile or active, 
whether one is speaking like I am before you, 
or whether one is silent, 
whether one is an emperor, a monk, 
or someone with neither hearth nor home. 
What does it really matter?

Continue reading in Return to Forever

Tuesday 24 December 2013

A Remarkable Man, Maurice Frydman

According to Nisargadatta Maharaj, Maurice Frydman was a 'jnani', (a liberated being).

It takes one to know one. This unpretentious Pole, who was born in 1894 in a Jewish ghetto in Krakow, had an uncanny knack fir himself discovering 'jnanis' and in the most unlikely places. But quite aside from this, Frydman's activities helped, enriched and changed forever, the lives of an amazing number of people and yet, to this day, he is so little known and he wanted it that way.

He stumbled across Nisargadatta Maharaj discoursing outside his biddi shop in the streets of Bombay and in due course, translated transcripts of his discussions and teachings into a book that has become a spiritual classic. I Am That, drew and continues to draw, many western seekers to India.

If anyone was 'anonymous' in the truest sense of the word, it was Maurice Frydman. Five foot nothing, Maurice moved with some of the great Indian figures of his time including Gandhi, Nehru, and Jai Krishnamurti. Sometimes, truly great people, who have shaped and helped to transform the lives of countless beings, remain unknown and unheralded until long after their passing.

Nisargadatta Maharaj and Maurice Frydman (far right)
Kindly donated by an anonymous friend.

Maurice Frydman was a modest and humble human being and yet his is not a life to be taken 'lightly.' This diminutive man was a giant in his own right and his 'story' should be told, not for the sake of the 'story,' but because it so aptly portrays how pervasive and powerful compassionate and ego-less goodwill is able to have a profound effect which continues to influence lives for decades and beyond.

Very often these days, when we hear about the philanthropic activities of various wealthy or influential people, there is a strong colouring of 'egoism' and 'doer-ship' involved. As helpful and wonderful as many of these activities often are, they are almost always bound to a 'doer', a 'somebody,' who in some subtle way or other is gratified, satisfied, pleased, feels important, feels worthwhile, etc. This is all well and good and infinitely better than the self-centered, narrow lives that most of us lead. However, much of the philanthropic activity that we see today is but the ‘child,’ or the ‘seed cause’ of future great and selfless compassion. Rare indeed, is it, to stumble upon unconditional compassion in full flower.

Maurice Frydman was a devoted disciple of the peerless sage of Arunachala, 
Sri Ramana Maharshi. Soon after their meeting, the Maharshi gave him a book on Milarepa's life story and asked him to study it carefully. We must assume that this tome left a profound and indelible impression on Frydman and which was to to give rise to many significant and insightful deeds of compassion on behalf of the refugees.

Maurice Frydman was one of those rare beings in whom the spirit of compassion flowed spontaneously without any attachment to 'doer-ship' or ‘outcome.’ Although he was a philanthropist in every sense of the word, it was of a very different kind from what we usually see. Yet it is because he was so unassuming and genuinely 'ego-less' that his activities were and continue to be so powerful in their effects. Great compassion flows spontaneously and reaches far, wide and deep. It has no boundaries and is by nature non-sectarian.

This man accomplished many, many things in his life but here we will focus upon just one as it is little known even to those who have most benefited by it. This pertains to the tireless and extraordinarily compassionate work that Frydman did on behalf of Tibetans fleeing their homeland during the later part of the 1950,s and early 1960,s when the Chinese invaded Tibet.

Although it is not well known, it was Maurice Frydman, who set up and executed a plan that was put in place in order to secure the escape of the Dalai Lama from Tibet. It was also due to Frydman that a vast library of written works were able to be successfully smuggled out of Tibet. These precious writing would have been lost to future generations had it not been for his foresight and careful planning. Most of these texts are now stored for posterity in a modern and well-appointed library in Sarnath, India.

Frydman organised for the Dalai Lama to be secretly carried on a private train to Delhi where he was able to meet with Jarwhal Nehru shortly after his escape from Tibet. If it were not for this carefully thought out plan, it is very likely the Dalai Lama would not be alive and well today.

Understanding the problems faced by these displaced people, who had suffered so cruelly, not only in the manner in which many of them were forced to leave their homeland but then in having to adjust to the climate of India with its heat and rigours for which the Tibetan constitution is so poorly adapted. Here also, it was Frydman, who at his own expense and after much negotiation with Nehru, travelled the length and breadth of India looking for suitable, higher altitude locations where the refugees could safely and with dignity, be relocated. Despite this, many perished during those first years but many also survived and thrived.

All the settlements where Tibetans are now living in India; namely Dharamsala, Bir, Beylacoupe and Tashi Jong to name a few, were discovered, negotiated and established through the skilful efforts of Maurice Frydman.

He was a remarkable man, humble, devout, compassionate to the core of his being and generous to a fault.

You may like to know where I got my information? Sri Ganesan, the great-grandnephew of Sri Ramana Maharshi knew Maurice Frydman well. They were close friends for many years as Maurice often came to visit Ramana Ashram at Tiruvannamalai, even after the Maharshi passed away.

However, Ganesan ji, did not hear the above story from Maurice himself, despite having moved closely with him for many years. He came to hear of it only after Frydman had passed away. Yet another testament to the humility of this man. The story came out via an impeccable person who was working in close unison, at one time, with Mahatma Gandhi and Jarwal Nehru, his name was Apa Pant.

Before concluding this article I would like to include a passage by one of Maurice's most staunch devotees, the man called Apa Pant, who at one time, held an important official post in the tiny Buddhist state of Sikkim. It recounts very poignantly, the final days of Frydman’s life and leaves us with an indelible impression.

In the words of Apa Pant himself;

Maurice Frydman died in Bombay on March 9th of 1976 with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj by his side. A beautiful event ended this incredible life. During his last days, Frydman got a visit by a professional nurse he did not know. The nurse had been visited in a dream by an old man in a loin cloth who told her to go and take care of Frydman. Frydman refused to accept the nurse’s offer. But, as she was leaving the house she walked past a picture in the hallway and recognised the old man whom she had seen in her dream. Upon telling Frydman this, he accepted her offer and allowed her to take care of him.

The picture: was Sri Ramana Maharshi who had left his body over three decades prior.

(This story and many others can be found in; Masters, Mice and Men
The 3rd book of the four-part series; Shades of Awareness

Thursday 12 December 2013

Modern Day Psychosis?

Spiral Credit, Twisting Spirals
Gianne Sarcone Digital

We live in times that seem geared to confuse and even overwhelm the mind. With so much information darting around in cyberspace, there are many choices to make, many interests and distractions all competing for our attention...

If we walk into a supermarket to buy a toothbrush we have to choose between some fifty competing brands. Even something simple like buying a toothbrush has now become potentially problematic.

Continue reading in Return to Forever

Sunday 24 November 2013

No Rocky Mountain Way

Many people are familiar with the truism which states that it is the obstacles and difficulties which we encounter in everyday life that enable us to tread the path successfully. Dealing with all kinds of different problems and challenges provides us with the 'traction' that enables us to move forward.

If we want to build our muscles we must put in the work of muscle building, only then will strength come. But in the realm of 'profound truth,' our mind is continually challenged by seeming contradiction.

On the one hand it can be said that we must 'tread the path' to truth, but on the other hand, there is no path and 'truth' is always with us, inextricably so. 
So where is the need for effort?

If one tries to unravel this mystery of seemingly diametrically opposing views, using only the mind, we will never succeed. We cannot reconcile the irreconcilable and if we try to do so, while also clinging to rigid concepts of what is and what is not, we end up confused and disillusioned.

Yet, despite the existence of seeming contradictions, when it comes to relative and absolute truths, we can find a way to live harmoniously even while recognising the truth of both these views. Moreover, this can happen simultaneously.  A certain way of understanding can dissolve much that may, in an ordinary sense, appear to be quite confusing.

In our relative world of doings and happenings in which mind is king, things appear to be real and so we need 'real' analogies, or at least analogies that bring clarity. In our relative world, there is a 'path' and it is to be 'trodden' by facing and overcoming numerous obstacles and challenges.

The optimist would call these unwanted happenings, challenges while the pessimist would refer to them as obstacles. Whatever the case may be they appear to be holding us back from 'realisation.' From the point of view of absolute reality, these obstacles or challenges simply do not exist in and of themselves.

All realised Masters had to learn how to live in this world while also remaining free from its entanglements and little by little we must do the same. The trick is to not give everything that arises in our mind, total validity.

Learning to see through our thoughts is a process that we can come to understand very effectively by developing an awareness of how the mind functions. If we become familiar with the way in which thoughts arise we can soon begin to see quite clearly how the whole mechanism of mind plays itself out in all that we do, think and say.

This is the first level of regaining control, as opposed to being the plaything of the mind and its unceasing stream of thoughts. As we learn to understand 'ourselves' in due course we may stumble upon the realisation of who and what we really are.

The rocky mountain way is never anything but a mind made creation and sooner or later each us must find this out through our own direct experience. When we learn to reclaim our awareness through becoming aware of awareness, seeming obstacles and just plain 'life' itself, become the fuel that propels us towards seeing and knowing what is always present yet unnoticed.

The greatest mystery of life and of 'being' itself is always right there in the palm of our hands, yet we go on from day to day like the 'beggar with a golden begging bowl.'

One version of the story runs like this...

Once upon a time, there was a beggar who used to sit on the side of the road near the old gate that was the entrance to the town that he had been born in. One day the King of the province came along and noticed the fellow sitting there and a sudden pang of remorse and pity came over him.

Had he not ever known only ease and wealth in his life and yet he had never done much to relieve the burdens of simple folk like these? He reached into his pockets and took out a large lump of gold and handed it over to the fellow.

Read on in Pieces of a Dream

Friday 18 October 2013

Seeing Through the One Who Sees

I would like to share an article written by the sister of a friend of mine, Sharon Rockey. She sent this to me a few weeks ago after she read an account of a similar 'happening' that i wrote about in my book Pieces of a Dream. I found her description evocative and wondered if any of you, 'out there,' may also have stories to share?

If you do, i would love to hear them and i am sure others would too...

Seeing Through the One Who Sees

Even for a New Age publication, it seemed like a silly request—"Send us a description of your earliest childhood concepts of God."
I could already picture the scene in the editor's office, the countless letters all describing the same mythic image—the Great White-Bearded Patriarchal Scorekeeper watching everything from somewhere in the sky. As I was pondering the dubious value of such an exercise, my mind flashed on a vivid childhood experience—one that transcended all my own concepts.
It was during one of our cold clear Midwestern winter nights. The backyard was heaped with snow drifts glistening in the light of a full moon. I rubbed my hands together to stay warm and watched as my father removed his binoculars from the case, adjusting them for the narrow face of a seven year-old.
He helped me focus the eyepiece on the round cratered surface rising above us. All my childish searching for the face on the moon hadn't prepared me for the shock of this brilliant white image that came blazing through the lenses.
There for the very first time, was something which had been there all along—an enormous and wondrous sight with dimension, shadows and light, and details of unbelievable beauty. A flood of thoughts and feelings swept through me too quickly to identify. I felt as if I had just been initiated into an inner circle whose secrets could never be revealed in second grade science books. At the same time, there was a fleeting uneasy stirring like some vague connection to dark and ancient occult mysteries. The sensations swirling around me were almost too much to bear.
My father was taking great pleasure in having led me to this discovery and for a few moments he quietly withdrew to another corner of the yard leaving me all alone with the moon. I stood there in helpless silence until my awe and wonder could no longer be contained. It was then that something unexplainable broke through.
First, a rush of warmth and stillness, then as if being lovingly plunged into liquid space while some vast unseen lens was brought into focus, all sense of separation between the moon and me dissolved. No more "a moon and a me," but rather a timeless witnessing in which all my thoughts effortlessly ceased to exist.
After what must have been only a moment or two, I became aware of a longing for more and instantly I was back, binoculars in hand, a child looking at the moon. I didn't understand what had just happened or why it had seemed so organic and intimately familiar. I only knew that it had somehow left me feeling naked. Maybe that's why I never mentioned to my father or to anyone else what had really happened that night. What exactly does one say about an experience for which there are no words?
It would be many years before the mystery would gradually begin to unravel. The answer was waiting in the writings and teachings of poets and masters like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Krishnamurti, Goldsmith, Hafiz, Rumi, and others. Each imparts the message in their own way, but all have realized that there is no observer, that there is nothing to observe, that there is only Observing.
Or, in the words of the poet Wu-Men, "One instant is Eternity. Eternity is the Now. When you see through this Instant you see through the One Who Sees."

Sharon Rockey is a freelance writer who writes for the financial and business community. Occasionally she veers off course and pulls up something from her past -- something downright sentimental, syrupy, juicy, bizarre, or twisted -- whatever bubbles to the surface. These are tucked safely into the private reserve files so as to not scare off paying clients who would otherwise take her seriously.
Web spin Studios

Thursday 10 October 2013

Happiness is an Inside Job

 If we finally come to realize that our happiness is not dependent upon other people; not dependent upon what they say or do or think, this is a very liberating moment.

Normally we move through our lives caught up somewhere between the hope of being liked and accepted or the fear of being disliked or rejected.

The grey scale of our moods and reactions between these two emotions is as vast as an ocean and we could easily spend our entire lives swimming around in this cauldron of uncertainty, swinging precariously from one mood to another, measuring our 'self-worth' by the ever shifting gauge of fleeting emotions, thoughts and expectations. Those of our own and those of 'others.'

Tapping into our inner resources, which are vast and unchanging, is the only way we can ever become free.

On the most fundamental level, we can say that 'we are one another,' just as we are also essentially part and parcel of everything, but these are just words until we 'empower' them with our inner experience and understanding.

It is one thing to know a truth and quite another to own it.

Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Sunday 8 September 2013

What do you Really Want?

Breaking Away

If you knew that you had seven more days to live, what would you do? How would you spend those precious seven days?

There is an urgency to change our perspectives on life now!

Why put off until tomorrow what can be done today?
None of us know how long we are for this world.
None of us can be certain that we have the luxury to put things off till a later time and deep down we know very well what is really important to us.

Yet we bump along from day to day, month to month and year to year doing things that we don't really want to do and that we don't really care about!

We push aside our deep inner longings with the thought that we should build a career, make money, have a family, build a home and so on and so forth. In most cases we follow this course simply because this is what everybody else is doing in some form or other.

The way that we are educated ensures that we conform to norms and most people accept these norms and stumble blindly along like lambs to the slaughter...

If we don't take the time to look around us, if we don't question, if we don't stop long enough to know what it actually is that we really care about, then it is almost a ‘given’ that our lives will pass in the fulfillment of tasks that have nothing to do with 'who and what we really are.'

Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Sunday 11 August 2013

Not Who You Think You Are

I can never forget the first time I read a short sentence, in a book of transcriptions, from the talks of Nisargadatta Maharaj.

The sentence in question read;
"Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person."

At the time when I first stumbled across this, it just knocked all the wind out of my sails.

At one moment I had been riding the high seas, all sails aloft and bloated, full of the winds of living and full of 'myself,' doing the living. The next moment 'I' was adrift on a sea of glass, no wind, and no sails, no 'I'...

"Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person."

This is not a new idea by any means, I had already delved quite deeply, or so I thought, into the writings of Zen, Dzogchen and Advaita Masters and in such writings, one often comes across this teaching. But for me, this was one of those; 'when the penny drops' moments.

When I read this passage I was in the loft of my little 'tin palace;' a retreat house in a patch of forest about an hour from the hill station of Darjeeling in the north-east of India.

I have no idea how long I sat gazing out into space. It was not that the words began a whole stream of thoughts that lead to a moment of 'reckoning.' It was rather that those few words cut the mind off completely at the root; at least for a while. They hold that kind of potential, they have that kind of power.

In truth, these are words of power. They were uttered by a Master who had gone completely beyond the 'little self' and was unshakably immersed in the 'absolute self,' despite living in the midst of a huge city.

These kinds of utterances are in fact, windows into the 'self.' They are not intended for consideration so much as for freeing us from all our usual preoccupations and distractions.

Yes, we all know that we exist, it is the one and the only thing that we can ever really be sure of, even if we never realized this before.

This is something that each of us should take the time to verify for ourselves.
But can we venture into what it is that knows, loaded with all our usual preconceptions?

No Way!

In order to do this, we must unburden our selves, free ourselves, forget ourselves completely. Even if it is only for a few brief moments...

Venture into the realm of who it is that knows...weighty words.

This is the power, the beauty and the value of such writings. They are not meant to provide sustenance to our minds, they are intended to dissolve them and in so doing, open doors into the simplicity of what we always are.

It is so utterly within the reach of each and every one of us to know that we are not the 'person' that we think we are, but in fact, every person and everything and so very much more besides...

"Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person."


Wednesday 17 July 2013

Unwelcome Reminders of Impermanence

  • The Unblinking Gaze
I suppose we always need reminders of the impermanence of everything.

But whether we think we need them or not, such reminders tend to visit us uninvited rather more frequently than we may care for.

After surviving two monkey invasions into my small forest dwelling in the past, I would not have felt a third visit to be necessary. They had certainly left their mark in my life and a point had been made.

However, recently a friend came to visit me at my little tin palace at a retreat center not far from Darjeeling. We had not seen each other for a long while so there was much to catch up on and share. Prior to my friend's departure the next day we decided to take a walk through the forest to a flat and open area near some tea gardens. From this place there was a lovely view of the surrounding valleys and mountains. From habit I advised my friend to check her hut and be sure that all the windows were shut and I made a thorough check of my own. I even double checked that everything was secure, closed the door, locked it and off we went.

It was a delightfully warm and sunny morning, the sort of morning that brings a good deal of optimism and spontaneous joy to the heart. The air was slightly hazy but even so, the majestic, white forms of the eastern Himalayan giants rose up before our view, breathtakingly beautiful.

A couple of hours slipped by but we hardly noticed until the familiar rumble of empty stomachs warned us that it was nearing the lunch hour.

Making our way back through the forest we could only marvel at the natural beauty of the area as we picked our way over the cobbled road canopied by old walnut, pine and Utish trees.

However, after crossing a small bubbling stream, just before the gentle rise to the monastery staircase, we noticed a young man on the road looking up very intently at my little cottage nestled among the trees and bamboo groves on the ridge.

I saw him but did not immediately understand why he was standing there and gazing up with such rapt attention. Just then a monkey, struggling to run with a jar of something tucked under its arm, suddenly shot out from behind a bush and darted across the road just in front of us. It looked very comical but then the implications of this little display suddenly ignited the light bulbs in my mind!

Holy sh......! It all became clear, horrifyingly clear. I started to run. Poor Katya who was not far behind had no idea of what we were in for, but I knew only too well.

Read more in Masters, Mice and Men
Volume Three in the series Shades of Awareness

Wednesday 10 July 2013

An Open Secret

If you think that you need to turn yourself inside out and upside down in order to be able to understand ‘truth,’ you are definitely on the wrong tack.

Who and what we really are is nearer to us even than our own eyelashes..!

But how many of us notice our eyelashes?

The truth of our Being is not something that even requires understanding.

How could it be, when we actually are the understanding.

A truly spiritual path is not about 'freedom for the ego,' it is about 'freedom from the ego.'

It is not about 'fulfilling expectations,' but about freeing ourselves from them.

Yes, truth is an 'open secret,' it is always available to everyone and absolutely all of the time.

This is the reality behind the great 'cosmic joke' of our non-recognition.

We are so much more than we can ever imagine, why wait for another life time, another day or even another moment to realize what we already are...

Read on in Never Not Ever Here Now
Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Sunday 30 June 2013

Keeping Things Real

If there is one thing that we can all be absolutely sure about it would have to be the fact of our 'existence'.

Don't we wake up each morning and know that we are alive? Whether that feels good or not is another matter but we all know that we 'are'.

This is something we are so familiar with that we simply take it as a given.
We seldom if ever give the fact of our existence a second thought.

But stop right here!

There is a wonder and a mystery in this overlooked and all too evident fact.

Are we not always Ever Here Now?

Read on in Never Not Ever Here Now
Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Sunday 16 June 2013


Tree on a Cliff

I am afraid of heights. I have been this way since I can remember. It’s a visceral thing; if I come near the edge of something which is very elevated, every cell in my body begins to scream and the familiar sensations of numbness and horror quickly flood every part of my mind and body and overwhelm me with a profound and irrational feeling of un-ease.

I suppose this affliction, if one can call it that, has accompanied me like a silent shadow since my earliest memories and yet that shadow has been more noticeable at certain times and almost unnoticed at others.

Fears are like this; they are the silent companions that walk with us through our lives. If we were to put all our fears together we would find we are not alone! We are not accompanied merely by one or two nameless fears, but by a host, a whole tribe of silent, unyielding, determined 'adherents'.

I have never overcome my fear of heights, it remains with me till this day, but I have learned how to cope with it and on a number of occasions, when it was necessary, I found one could look directly into the face of a fear and then continue on one's way.

We all feel fear at some time or other; we all know the taste of it. There are many, many different kinds. Fear of the unknown is such an integral part of our day to day lives that many of us don't even notice it consciously and yet its effects upon the way we live and the choices that we make are far reaching and pervasive.

We live with fear to some degree or other. It may be subliminal and unnoticed for most part and yet it is there. We could not survive without the instinctive emotion of fear being an integral part of our body, mind complex. Fear is natural and it is a necessary component of our ability to survive.

Read More in Masters, Mice and Men
Volume Three from the series Shades of Awareness

Sunday 9 June 2013

Never Not Ever Here Now

Buddha Face

If there is one thing that we can all be absolutely sure about it would have to be the fact of our 'existence'.

Don't we wake up each morning and know that we are alive? Whether that feels good or not is another matter but we all know that we 'are'.

This is something we are so familiar with that we simply take it as a given.

We seldom if ever give the fact of our existence a second thought.

But stop right here!

There is a wonder and a mystery in this overlooked and all too evident fact.

Are we not always Ever Here Now?

Read on in Never Not Ever Here Now
Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Finding Our Inner Freedom

Egret in Flight

My teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said that if death should happen to strike us down today, now, right at this moment we should be ready to leave, and furthermore, leave without any sadness or regrets or clinging to what we have or have had or expect to have...

Can any of us say that we are ready? Can we say that we have this kind of inner alertness which is always present and always free? Can we live in this moment looking outwardly but remaining ever focussed and unattached inwardly?

There is such freedom in being able to live this moment without hope or fear, without expectation or desire.

Continue reading in Return to Forever

Friday 24 May 2013

The Way The Moments Pass

If we think of the way that we spend our days.

If we think of the way in which those days are made up of moments, so many moments...

Of the way in which those many moments turn into weeks, months and years. If we look back on our lives and all the things that we have ever thought of or done, what does all of that really add up to?

Some of us might feel fulfilled and satisfied, but many might question the whole purpose of their lives.

In looking back they might wonder, 'what was that all about'?

They would be right to do so, especially while still in the very midst of life.
Life offers us with such a unique opportunity to find out 'who and what we really are'.

Often it may take a crisis or some event which has involved us in a painful personal loss to shake us from our distractions, our routines and our fascination with the distractions of day to day living.

Read on in Never Not Ever Here Now
Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Monday 6 May 2013

The Power of Simplicity

King Cobra
King Cobra

When Sri Ramana Maharshi was sitting on the Hill of Arunachala in the South of India one day, a cobra passed by, and, because the Maharshi was sitting right in its path, it slithered up onto His legs and over before passing on its way. The Maharshi sitting quietly and without showing the least concern or reaction observed its passage. 

People who were present at that time were shocked and afraid, but the Maharshi showed no fear or even surprise. When they asked Him how it felt He replied with the utmost simplicity, 'cool and soft.'

It is generally known that cobras are among the most dangerous of snakes in the world and the people of India are only too acutely aware this. If such a thing would have happened to one of us, well, you can imagine our reaction, our fear, our dismay...

Such reactions seem natural and normal, yet in actuality, they are nothing more than instinctual and borne out of habit.

We routinely invest so much emotional energy into the way that we react to 'life' and don't even know that this kind of living drains such a huge amount of our energy and time. It's little wonder that the world is in such a confused state.

Things happen, so what?

In our world, things never cease to happen. Motion and change are an integral part of our reality.
But stop for a moment.
What would it be like to let the world 'happen' around us and yet remain quietly centred in our awareness of being? Not in a zombie-like way but as an intensely aware point of focus. How would that change our perspective on the things that happen in and around and to us every day of our lives?

How much energy would we free up within ourselves by this simple change of perspective? If we are not perpetually caught up in the goings on of our lives we might begin to notice everything with much greater clarity and in a far more vital way.

People often had the impression that the Maharshi was not aware of what was going on around Him, they thought that He was in samadhi and their ideas and projections about what that state might be like led them to believe that He was in some way separate from the world, no longer a part of it and yet exactly the opposite was true, no one was more observant, aware and dynamically present than the Maharshi. He missed nothing.

From the tremendous power of His inner stillness and outer simplicity, He was far more present and vitally alive than most could ever imagine.

It is 'natural' for us to want to right wrongs, to change things, to feel that we are in charge, that we have some control over what happens to us. This is human nature, the great illusion of self-identity,' of 'ownership' of 'doer-ship.'

And yet there is another reality and even if one does not understand it, one should at least know that it exists.  Within the utter simplicity of who and what we really are, the inmost central core from which our world actually arises, there exists, not just the promise, but the fact of peace and happiness. This is not something which is outside us, it is not something which is far away. It is near, so very near that it is usually completely overlooked.

The incident of the snake gives us an example of a very different way to react to our world.  Whether we are aware of it or not there is an innate fullness in every moment, and if we do not project onto that moment our supposed thoughts and emotional reactions, then we allow ourselves the possibility of the unfolding of simplicity.

There could well have been a very different outcome to the 'incident' of the cobra and the Maharshi. However, because the Maharshi moved from an inner core of complete awareness, instead of reacting from instincts of panic and fear which in turn would most likely have ended in a fatality, it so happened that a cobra received the blessing of direct contact with a Jnani and went peacefully on its way and the Jnani came to know the cool and soft feel of a cobra on a hot summers day... 

Volume Four in the series Shades of Awareness

Friday 12 April 2013

When All That Glitters Is Not Gold

There are happenings, events, incidents, call them what we will, that can arise very suddenly and unexpectedly in our day-to-day lives, but which prove to be defining moments that have the potential to change the way we view life and the world in which we live, forever...

These events can be subtle or startling but they have one thing in common, they give us such a jolt that they momentarily stop the mind and therefore subsequently, our world. Those moments in which mind is not, are very special. They hold the potential for recognizing what always is. Normally we move through life without any awareness of what or who we really are. But then awareness comes knocking or in some cases, crashing in on our cozy little preconceived world, turning it upside down and inside out.  Forcing us to re-evaluate what is and what is not.

No matter where we are on this planet and no matter how well educated or how little educated we may be, we are all, nevertheless, conditioned by our minds. Most of what we do throughout our lives, is preconditioned in some way by the habitual tendencies of mind and yet we are given opportunities to take stock. Some crumble under the challenge, others rise to it and are enriched thereby.

The incident that follows happened in the village where a friend of mine grew up in Andhra Pradesh.
When he was young, Akash was living in a small rural hamlet in which some forty other families were staying nearby. Every one knew everyone else and their business too. In such a close knit community, it was difficult to keep anything a secret.

One day,  one of the village men was on his way home from his fields and following the dusty path on an embankment above the river canal that passed through and watered all the farmlands of this region. It was almost sunset and the huge orange ball of the sun cast a fiery long shadow over the green and verdant fields. White egrets flew in flocks above his head, eager to find their roosts for the night and small groups of cattle and goats could be heard making their way back to the safety of their stalls, the calls of their owners echoing in the fading light. For the farmer, it was an ordinary evening in every respect. The village sounds, the golden hues of sunset, the scenes; all were deeply familiar to him.

There was a certain spot just before entering the village where he was accustomed to go down to the canal and wash before heading to his house which was nearby amid a grove of coconut trees. Following his usual habit he climbed down the steep embankment and began his daily ablutions, standing on the shallow step at the edge of the canal and while this was going on he suddenly looked up. Something had caught his attention.  It was the form of something floating down the river.

The waters in this canal were fast-flowing and anything that was caught in the current tended to move along with considerable speed.  It was not uncommon to see a corpse every now and then, as in these village areas, accidents and suicides were rather frequent. Most of the peasants could not swim. Those who slipped or who were pushed or who themselves jumped into the fast flowing waters, seldom ever survived to tell their tales, and, unless snagged along the way by someone or something, their bodies were swiftly carried out and lost to the open sea.

This particular evening, the man in question could just make out, in the fading light, that the corpse heading towards him, was that of a woman.  He caught the flash of golden ornaments amidst the folds of her sari and the strands of her long black hair.
He could see that she would pass quite near him. Just near enough that he could snag her sari with his long bamboo pole with its hooked knife attached to the end. He used this knife during the day to clip branches high up in the trees and these shavings would feed his goats. But now he put it to a very different kind of use and managed to snag the fabric of her sari at the precise moment that she was passing.  Quickly scanning the banks left and right, he saw that no one was in sight, so he drew her in. He recognized the victim, a middle-aged woman from a wealthy family that lived further upstream in the next village.

Suppressing his surprise, he remained as focused as he could determined not to miss this 'golden' opportunity, but nevertheless his hands were trembling. Quickly he began to remove all her golden ornaments. Firstly the earrings, then the bangles, then the nose ring.  She was wearing a lot of gold. Finally he tugged at the chain around her neck at which precise moment a loud and peculiar guttural sound issued from the pallid, lifeless corpse. 'How dare you take my gold', it seemed to utter in strange muffled, gasping tones. The farmer froze and almost passed out with terror. He nearly lost his balance and could have fallen into the turbid waters, but in the next instant he let go of the body and with it all of her gold which fell and tumbled into the torrid brown waters. He scrambled like a mad man crazed with fear, up the side of the embankment and ran, screaming and howling to his house.

Read more in Tibetan Tales and other True Stories
Books by the Writer

Thursday 4 April 2013


There is a saying; 'the world in a grain of sand.'

Yet the profound and simple truth of those words is understood by few.

If only we knew how near and how unspeakably simple the greatest truths of life really are. How much more joyful our lives would be. How quickly we would un complicate things to give ourselves and others ease.

Meditation is a tool which we can use to connect with who and what we really are. In its purest form meditation is effortless, formless and completely un-contrived.

However, in this day and age where form is greatly emphasized, meditation is often turned into something which is entrenched in ideas and expectations, something marketable and branded. There are so many different kinds of meditation in the marketplace now, that it has become more difficult and tiresome than ever before just to get started.

In our times of super, super markets, where one can enter a department store and find fifty varieties of one item and feel quite overwhelmed by the number of choices, so too can it be with the beginnings of our spiritual journey into meditation.

Volume Four in the series; Shades of Awareness

Monday 11 March 2013

Small Things with Unexpected Consequences

I recently read a quote of H.H. Dalai Lama that made me smile.

'If you think small things don't matter, try spending the night with a mosquito in your room...'

Well I have spent lots of nights with mosquitoes in my rooms so i am very much moved by this simple truth.
However recently i had a different sort of small 'visitor'.

About two years ago, an Indian friend of mine gave me a Christmas gift.
He had obviously taken considerable trouble to choose something that was extra special and when he delivered it i could see how excited and thrilled he was.
He turned the little gift giving ceremony into quite an occasion, turning up at my door at six in the morning! Fortunately i am usually an early riser, so i could take his unannounced arrival in my stride.

He placed a box on the counter with exaggerated care and turned to me with an expression not unlike that of an eager little puppy, all excited and fairly wriggling with anticipation, anxiously watching my every move and expression.

Getting into the mood of things i turned my attention to the brightly wrapped box
and with great care began to unwrap it. Inside i found a, well how to describe it?

A plastic lotus...

The sort of house ornament that one could perhaps only find the likes of in India!
It had two large silver outer petals and inside these were carefully arranged psychedelic pink and green petals in the centre of which were a series of tiny bulbs. In and around the petals were small plastic frogs, birds, bees and butterflies...

He urged me to press a switch on the bottom. Expecting something extra ordinary i was not unprepared for the sudden flashing of lights, however the sound that that little box produced was loud enough to wake the entire three story building. It was an electronic version of some little ditty and there was no volume button. It belted out it's tune while the light bulbs flashed and the insect life bobbed up and down in unison.

Astonishing stuff. I was quite taken aback.

My friend leapt into the air giving it a bit of a punch at the same time, as if to say,
YES and then dissolved into a fit of giggles.

That unforgettable gift had pride of place on my kitchen shelf for some years and then one day recently while i was spring cleaning, i decided it might be time for the 'gift' to grace some one else's home or shrine. My friend happened to be present and was helping me with my clean up, so i suggested he might take it to his Ashram where it could be prominently displayed and enjoyed by many. He agreed readily enough...

Read more in Masters, Mice and Men
Books by the Writer

Monday 18 February 2013

At the End of Searching

Pearls of Searching

"Truth is not a reward for good behaviour,
nor a prize for passing some test.
It cannot be bought about. 

It is the primary, the unborn, the ancient
source of all that is.
You are eligible because you are,
You need not merit truth.
It is your own.
Just stop running away by running after.
Stand still.
Be quiet."
Nisargadatta Maharaj
We can circle the entire globe ten times over, yet in the end we must acknowledge that 'truth' is right here with us, in this very moment. 
There is no where to go in search of it. 
Not even anything to search for.
Everything that is ever needed, is already present.
There is nothing to be gained and there is nothing to loose.  
Truth is always with us, awaiting our recognition.
It is the simplest, the nearest and the most accessible of all. 

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer

Sunday 10 February 2013

Being Prepared for the Inevitable

Looking Death in the Face. Not with fear but with clarity, readiness, acceptance and joy.
Its not like any of us are going to get out of this alive! There fore we must be ready for the inevitable, whenever it may come...

"Even if death were to fall upon you today like lightning,
  you must be ready to die without sadness and regret,
   without any residue of clinging for what is left behind.
Remaining in the recognition of the absolute view, you
should leave this life like an eagle soaring up into the blue sky."

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Living each day as if it were out last, gives this moment a freshness, an intensity and a special awareness of what is here and now...

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer

Saturday 2 February 2013


"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about."

Where the mind may hesitate and tremble to venture, the heart can stride towards fearlessly...

We like to think that we make all of our own choices in life, that we are in control and that we are in command.
Our life circumstances may vary greatly from one person to another, but human emotions; the whole gamut of them, can be clearly defined in all their multifarious shades and these, we have all tasted at different times throughout our lives.

Don't we all feel, at some point or another, love or hatred, hope and fear, jealousy, generosity, lust or disgust, anger or approval? Don't we all know the taste of emotions? Whether we were born in Japan or in Timbuktu, America or the North Pole, we all share the commonality of experiencing different moods and feelings.

The outer and inner circumstances of our mental environment govern most of our actions and reactions in life. Every single one of these is based upon the sense, "I am", "I exist". We take this as a given and seldom ever question the source of this inherent belief.
Instead we think of ourselves as 'such and such' from 'so and so' and we make our way through the days of our lives caught up in the dramas associated with our assumed 'identity'.

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer

Wednesday 16 January 2013

The Wisdom of Pooh

 Winnie the Pooh
What is it that is always with us?  In this day, this hour, this moment...
The most overlooked and sadly neglected aspect of our existence.

If we did not 'exist' in this moment we could not know any of the moments of our lives.

Such a simple, constant and obvious truth and yet almost always taken completely for granted.

It is only in this moment, right now, that we can come near to 'knowing' who and what we are...

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer