Sunday, 14 December 2014

Don't Forget to Look Up

Being distracted and preoccupied seems to be the norm in modern, high-tech societies and what a high price we have to pay for it!

Gone, our peace of mind, gone, our sense of ease, our health our happiness and in return for what? All the things that make life worth living fly out the window the more we fill ourselves with the values and business of a life that bases itself around the value of dollars and cents.

Yet, right above our heads is this incredible window into infinity. Many times i have looked up into the sky and felt an immediate shift. The sky is like a window which can convey the mind into a space where unimaginable mysteries exist. If anything can bring us into a state of instant perspective it is the 'sky view.'

However, despite this amazing 'view' which is free and readily available, it is easily and often overlooked and forgotten.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Natural Mind

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, with a friend. Photo by Matthieu Ricard
Late one afternoon, as the evening sun was sending its final shafts of golden light into the silent, incense filled air of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's room, i found myself alone with the great Master.

Even though I was some distance away, nearer to the farthest end of his long carpet filled shrine, Khyentse Rinpoche had such an enormous presence that it felt as though he filled the entire room.

I was quietly fingering some beads and basking in the tremendous silence and sanctity that permeated this blessed space. The atmosphere felt utterly charged and in it i felt complete and whole.

This particular evening there were very few visitors around, something which was rather unusual. However before long there was a rustle of activity in the outer guest waiting hall and i looked over just in time to see a well known Lama enter with a handful of his western students.

Soon they appeared before Khyentse Rinpoche, bowing and offering scarves of welcome as He greeted each one. They seated themselves before Him and all fell into an expectant silence.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

What can we Expect from an Authentic Guru?

Some years ago my Master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, wrote down a verse in which he describes the qualities of a true Guru. I have not come across another writing that does this as well or with such poetic eloquence.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Re Claiming Our Inner Space

We are as wide as the sky...

Without limits, borders or endings...

All that we need to 're claim' the inner space that we
often feel we have lost, is to remember who and what we
really are.

We might think; 'how do we do this'?

But there is no how, no process, no distance between
who and what we really are and the actual 'being' of that...

People can hear and read these words and then think,
'how is it possible,' what do they mean, how is it done?

This is the great paradox of our existence.

We are every moment only 'that,' but the simplicity and
proximity of this confound us. Mind jumps in and stirs up
the still waters of our silent inner space and deludes us into
believing that we have to achieve, through some long and
drawn out process, what is already ours and inseparable from us.

May we swiftly re claim the inheritance of our un-contrived and natural awareness...

Polished Stainless Steel
David Harber

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Ahead of the Game

Does this remind you of someone...?

The mind creates all sorts of thoughts and often the
body has a tough time keeping up.
If we hang tenaciously onto every thought, allowing it to
proliferate into a multitude of new thoughts we soon find ourselves in the never-ending chambers of the mind.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Original Mind

I want to share with my readers a wonderful verse by the Poet
Gary Rosenthal. It is so lucidly written and so evocative of the simple awareness which is the true, but too often overlooked, source of glory, peace and happiness within each and every one of us...
Sunrise in Cairns
How many evenings have you turned away?
As if the life you really want
could only begin
once something else had happened, 
something else that was not yet here…

Thursday, 4 September 2014

What Dreams May Come

There is an old and well aired fable that is often told by Tibetan Lamas on various occasions. I always enjoy hearing it as it brings up rather clear visual associations and instantly helps to shift the perspective on things. Here I offer my own slightly embellished version.

One evening, a farmer looked out over his fields as they shimmered in the golden sunshine. The gentle ripple of a breeze ruffled the laden bushels and cast a hazy sheen into the fading light.

The lone voice of a peasant woman singing rose and fell in the silent air. In that moment all felt right with the world and he was pleased; even joyful.

Looking out over his fields he knew that this season would be unusually good. He would have an ample harvest and there would be money and food to spare.

This was a remote village so an abundant yield would be deemed very auspicious. He was almost certain that this harvest would bring double the income that he usually got.

The weather was idyllic and in the coming few days his crops would be in.

As he lingered there, warming himself in the pleasant final rays of the day he contemplated his good fortune and many happy thoughts appeared in his mind.

Now, I can find a pretty wife, we will build a nice home. We will have several children. At least two boys... She will be fair skinned and have eyes like shinning black obsidians. He mused quietly to himself.

She will be very devoted to me and she will also be a good mother to my children. She will take care of me in my old age and be a fond and loving companion.

My children will love me and be completely devoted to us, their parents. They will be healthy, intelligent and strong. They will make me proud with their achievements and in time they will have their own strong and sensible children.

Read on in Masters, Mice and Men

Volume Three from the Series Shades of Awareness

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The More we Learn the Less we Know

I lived for a time with someone who did not function from the centre of rational thinking.  This does not mean that He was incapable of rational thinking, quite the opposite. In fact, i never met with anyone who was so practical, ingenious and down to earth, all in one. He tended to use rational thinking as a tool, He was not ruled by the rational mind. Someone who can live and function from an inner intuitive sense of spontaneous clarity will leave no footprints in the world and will move through life with spontaneous expressions of light and joy. Such a being lives with an intensity which is always fresh, completely un-contrived and uncompromisingly relevant.

To have had the chance to come within the orbit of someone who moves in complete harmony with the present moment is an extraordinary privilege and something rare and beautiful to behold.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Mystery of Now

Photo Credit: Mandala Madness
In the early nineteen-nineties, I met an aged Tibetan Lama in the Himalayan foothills of the Kathmandu Valley. Back then He was already well into His eighties.
He looked like something out of a Santa Claus play or some magical mystery novel.

He had pure white hair and a long grey beard that seemed to extend into the four directions like tiny antennas. He wore an interesting array of clothing that often consisted of bloomers or a lungi, Birkenstock s, long fur-lined capes that reached all the way to His ankles, or, when duty called, red robes draped in an extensive white and red hand woven silk shawl.

Chadral Rinpoche, despite being a very venerable Lama, has absolutely no airs whatsoever about Him. He lives, breathes and moves in the ever-fresh atmosphere of the present moment. And yes, i use the present tense because He is still alive and well and now crossed the venerable age of 100.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Perspective, Why it is so Important?

This is the reason why it is so important to take moments to stop and breath and by this i mean really letting go into the breath. This requires a certain letting things be. There is a natural rhythm in the cycle of our breathing which can easily convey us into a the place of silence.

Expand into the present moment which is un-contrived and effortless. This simple non-movement takes us instantly to the edge of infinity, the expanse of the true self.

We get so caught up in the little dramas going on in our lives and in our minds. When we stop for a moment and look up into the sky, be it day or night and let it touch us in that secret, silent place beyond thoughts and words, something happens...

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Why Not Be A Nobody

Leunig has the magical and artist knack of being able to capture, with a single, simple drawing, the tragic self incarceration of individuals living in modern societies which revolve almost entirely around the attainment of money, goods and services.

Where there is no due consideration for the deep inner spiritual awareness and interconnection that permeates the entire fabric of life upon our planet, existence becomes artificial and meaningless.

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Mystery of Awareness

Snoopy Wisdom

If your awareness comes knocking, will you hear it and will you take heed of its call?

When a friend of mine was very young, barely seven years old, the mystery of being jumped out right in front of him and looked him straight in the face. This moment of crisis; this merging into 'being,' was so utterly riveting and compelling that 'rediscovering it' shaped and moulded his life for the next three decades.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Power of Listening

What is it that connects us consciously to all life?


This is not something that we generally give much thought to, but it is crucial in all sorts of ways.

Listening is all about generosity.
The generosity that can enable us to let go of self-clinging.
The generosity that can enable us to let be and allow the present moment to arise before our consciousness, just as it is...

The untapped and potential power inherent within our capacity to just 'listen' is immense and usually completely unrecognized

Monday, 5 May 2014

Our Only Certainty in Life is Uncertainty

"That which is impermanent attracts compassion. That which is not provides wisdom."

Steven Levine

We may like to feel that we are in charge of our lives, that we are in full control, making our own decisions, going our own way. 

Yet that is all just a trick of the mind, a tweak of the ego. 

The only certainty we can ever have in this life is uncertainty.

That may seem frightening to many and yet it is an unavoidable fact. We can run away and try to hide from this all too evident truth for a while, but we can never escape it and whether we acknowledge this fact or not, somewhere deep inside, we all know that this is what we live with every moment of our lives.

We are in fact standing on a narrow ledge...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Ordinary Happiness

Ordinary happiness is an experience that is so close to each of us that we barely even notice it. Yet here we are, with this supreme opportunity to become 'aware' of what it is that is 'aware' in this present moment!

It has been said often enough, in 'spiritual' circles, that we create our own happiness or misery. As creatures of habit, locked into our 'perceptions' of 'reality', we can coast through an entire lifetime without ever stopping to question the premise upon which those 'perceptions' are based. If questioning does in fact arise, it is usually the direct result of some crisis; some confrontation with change and its associated loss or gain...

Yet, the bulk of our lives pass by in a sort of unremarkable, unmemorable procession of 'normal' day to day life 'happenings.'  Think of all the seconds, hours, days, weeks, months and years of our lives that slip by virtually unnoticed. These are the unmarked moments of 'ordinary happiness' and they make up the bulk of our lives.

We all know the little shocks we get from time to time when we suddenly realize that a week or month or year has just passed by. Where did the time go? We may not have any particularly striking memory of great happiness, bliss or pleasure, but there has been that ceaseless, stealthy passage of time which exposes no great events, but adds up all the little day to day perceptions, which are in fact, the sum total of our lives...

These are the simple associations and occurrences that we are so familiar with that we no longer even notice them. For instance, that first moment upon waking, before we remember 'who we are.' The first cup of tea or coffee in the morning or anything at all that gives a sense of continuity within the whole procession of little routines that make up the memories of our lives.

Ordinary happiness is usually only noticed if it is suddenly taken away by an unforeseen event. When this happens, we are given the chance to glimpse something more. If we were to notice that the ordinary moments of happiness are also permeated with who and what we REALLY  are, we might, inadvertently, tap into the greatest mystery of life.

It is precisely because our 'awareness' is so 'ordinary' that we can so easily over look its existence altogether.

Yet, where would 'we' be without it...?

The most profound mysteries of our existence are part and parcel of every ordinary moment of happiness...

Stop now, for just a little while and in the silence of your own heart begin to notice the immeasurable but unnoticed treasure that is always with you...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Going With the Flowing

Barron Falls
Thunder Down Under
The Barron Falls 

It's not always moving at this level of intensity, but isn't it true that at times life can be pretty damn full on!

When the flow is just too massive, we need to let go. Why resist the tumble, why resist whatever is happening? I guess 'resistance' is in our bones and our innate fear of change is instinctive...

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Mingyur Rinpoche, Compassionately Wise

Mingyur Rinpoche in the Mountains

These days it is not so often that someone inspires me. It is rare to come by the likes of one such as Mingyur Rinpoche. He was prepared to give up all the comforts, routines, pleasures and fame that he had secured in his life as an internationally renowned Lama and go out into the world with only the clothes on his back. He was prepared to face all the harsh conditions that such a lifestyle can throw at you and not just for a few days or weeks but for years on end.

He left behind his known, comfortable world in 2011 in order to embark on a period of intensive sadhana as an anonymous, wandering yogi, with no fixed abode, no certainties of food, no surety of shelter. He carried nothing with him, just the clothes that he was wearing and a few of the simple dharma 'tools' such as a Malla, (rosary for counting mantras) a few sacred texts and some relics from his Tsawai Lama, (root or main teacher) such as all Buddhist practitioners keep with them.

No one knew where he went and he himself would have had only the vaguest of plans, if any at all.

I remember the first time I ever heard his name. His brother Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who had just emerged from a long retreat in Tashi Jong, had just returned from visiting his brother in Sherab Ling in Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. By the way he spoke of his brother and said, "you must meet Mingyur Rinpoche," I had understood that he was someone 'special.'

Some time passed and I was staying in Boudanath, Nepal, when I visited Ka-Nying Gompa, which is very close to Shechen Monastery where my Master, the previous Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was residing. There was a Drupchen ceremony in progress at that time and I had come during the recess and was just standing near the doorway.

People were milling around inside. When I looked towards the main shrine I noticed a figure standing just in front of the alter. His back was towards me so I could not make out his face and he appeared to be praying as he stood there quietly. I could not understand why, but my eyes were in some way drawn to that silent figure. I did not recognize it as anyone I knew and yet it was deeply familiar and unusual in some mysterious way.

Later I came to know that it was Mingyur Rinpoche on a brief visit to Nepal. Even though I did not actually see his face on that occassion, yet somehow the impression of his 'presence' remained very strongly in my mind.

Several years after this, while I was staying in BodhGaya, I came to know that Rinpoche was staying in a guest house nearby. I decided I would visit and make a connection with him as, until then, I had not had the opportunity to meet him.

I went along with my offerings of fruit and kadak (a long white scarf of greeting) and awaited my chance for a private interview. At that time an old monk was attending him. It was not long before I was taken inside.

I was very eager to meet with Mingyur Rinpoche, but I was not expecting that I would have such a strong reaction. Yet the minute I began to speak a few words I found myself quite choked up with a sudden and very intense emotion and then tears began to flow down my face. My initial response was one of embarrassment and annoyance that I should react in such a way and yet I could not help it. The tears just continued to flow and in the end I could not say anything even remotely coherent.

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

Biography of Mingyur Rinpoche

Monday, 17 February 2014

Do We Need A Guru?

These days fake 'Gurus' by far outnumber genuine ones, so we can hardly feel surprised at the amount of cynicism that abounds with regards to this particular topic. However this should not discount the importance of and the need for, not only authentic and genuine 'Gurus,' but also sincere and deserving 'Disciples.' Both are certainly out there, but many are not able to discern the difference between the 'pretenders' and the 'genuine' thing...

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Don't Miss the Sunrise

We think we are immersed in 'life' but how much of it REALLY touches us. How much of it truly engages our heart, how much do we really feel?

We may actually get up early enough to watch a sunrise, but do we really see it? Are we fully alert to the freshness of this present moment or is the mind wandering somewhere in a past memory or a future hope or desire?

Thursday, 23 January 2014



Being present means accepting whatever is happening right now and just staying with it as long as it lasts.

If we stop to think for a moment how much time we spend pushing away the things that we don't want to deal with, trying to change things, trying to feel better, it is amazing how much time and energy we actually spend trying to avoid whatever is happening right now.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Satsang, Gathering Together in Truth

What is Satsang?

According to the Wikipedia,  it means "In company of the highest truth."
Satsang first originated in India with the Rishis (Enlightened Beings).

It is a coming together, a gathering 'for truth.'

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Accepting What Is

Chadral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche
(Photo by Lyse Lauren, Kolkata Fish Release, 2004)
During the years (1991-2006) when I used to spend quite a lot of time near my teacher Chadral Rinpoche, I never thought of requesting teachings from him. I had numerous opportunities to do so but somehow in his presence, it did not feel necessary. Just being near him was a constant and unceasing teaching of the highest kind.

People would come and go endlessly, asking all sorts of things and making all manner of requests. Some were trying to cope with tragic circumstances in their lives, many were greedy for favours of a spiritual or even material kind, a few were deeply devoted and occasionally one also spotted true practitioners. Rinpoche watched the streams of people who came to him with all of their different reasons and motivations like an unshakable mountain of grace.

Simply to witness how a 'Jnani' lives and moves in the midst of this seemingly endless throng was utterly compelling and gave me far deeper insights into the nature of reality and non-reality than anything else could have.

Rinpoche played out every scene in the 'drama' of his life in a way that always appeared to me to be absolutely appropriate and yet nothing was ever in the least bit 'contrived.' Life just unfolded around him in a very natural way.

He did not try to make things go one way or another, he simply moved through whatever was playing itself out at the time, from the silence and simplicity of what is.

A good number of us fortunate 'students' had the opportunity to serve him in various ways during these years. Some of these were very efficient and helpful, others were hopelessly unorganized and clumsy.

Throughout it all, i never once saw Rinpoche complain or show any signs of irritation when he happened to be in the hands of one of his 'clumsy' disciples. He accepted whatever was playing itself out with the utmost dignity and grace and with unflinching childlike innocence and humour.

This engendered an atmosphere around him which was always fresh, unpredictable and intensely joyful. No matter how unfavourable conditions might have appeared to be, at any given time, he was always at ease, always able to see the funny side of things.

The way that he moved through life was masterful and set a precedent for all us who hovered within his orbit.

Often, without words and yet enhanced by every move, gesture, and look, he taught us how to let life wash over us; how to be in this world and yet remain unaffected by it. We were given the rare privilege of being able to witness this first hand in his benign presence.

Learning not to fight against life, not to try to change things when they become uncomfortable, not to try to manipulate outcomes or grieve when things do not turn out as we would like them to, is a skill that requires diligence to cultivate; it requires patience and above all acceptance.

When we do not invest all our energy into trying to avoid what is actually happening to us, and most of us do this almost all of the time, we free up immense reserves of inner power.

This ‘power,’ which has been released from its endless dissipation in day-to-day happenings and our reactions to those happenings, is then available for the greater and most urgent task of recognizing who and what we really are.

Simply accepting what is enables us quickly to exhaust our karma and opens the way to true and unshakable happiness and peace.


This excerpt is quoted from the book; Masters, Mice and Men

Volume Three in series Shades of Awareness

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Song of a Heart in Action

H.H. Dalai Lama.
"I truly believe that compassion provides the basis of human survival."
"It is not religious business, it is human business, it is not a luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival." 

If you want to witness the phenomenon of 'ego-less-ness in action', a current and very well known example of this can be found in the day to day life and expression of H.H. Dalai Lama.

Having had the enormous good fortune to spend time in his vicinity on a number of occasions during the past thirty years, I have had plenty of opportunities to notice the way that he affects not only myself but almost all those who come into contact with him.

The Dalai Lama is pre-eminently a very public and highly respected spiritual figure. There are few in the West and throughout South East Asia who would dispute that, and yet what exactly is it that sets Him apart?

Compassion. This word embraces the long and the short of it; the entire story.

Compassion flows spontaneously from the heart; it is transformative and healing.  It has no boundaries. It can enter places where others would fear to go. H.H. Dalai Lama is a supremely practical man, supremely balanced and supremely kind.

If there is one language that is 'universal' it would have to be the language of spontaneous and unpretentious compassion. Thus we can find this man welcomed in almost every country on the planet, save those few with vested interests.

These days we hear about and see so much of the presence, words and doings of the Dalai Lama, that we take Him a little for granted. In some ways, He has become a much-loved part of the scenery, of our 'better world,' vision and because it is 'familiar' to us we can be somewhat forgetful of just how unique a being He really is. He will undoubtedly go down as one the great figures in human history, but this will be for reasons that are not normally lauded in our modern world where money and power usually bestow the greatest fame.

Whatever the motivations of leaders today, all will shine for a while and then disappear into the dust and light from whence they came. None are exempt from the laws of impermanence. Few among them will go down in history as truly altruistic in their views and in their motivation.

Great movers and shakers die, just like the rest of us must and will. Our time in this world is limited. Although we choose to ignore it, every moment of every day is unrepeatable. Are we using our precious time well and are we living it in a way that will leave us without regrets, even if we are suddenly 'taken' tomorrow?!

The Dalai Lama is not in this world to make us 'feel' better about ourselves or to help us to like ourselves and feel loved, though that may be a side effect of His presence. He is a living, shining example of compassion in action, this is a heart in action, an outpouring that reaches across all religious, racial and ideological boundaries and even generations.

It is not the man that is being pointed to here, but the message of which He is a living embodiment and which, if embraced by us, in the right way, can lead us very directly to the portals of liberation, not just for ourselves but all sentient beings.

In his own words he has very roundly proclaimed the importance of Compassion;
“We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom.
 But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion...
This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma.
 Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.
The doctrine is compassion.
 Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.
So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some
other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and
conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is
no doubt we will be happy.”
The madness of materialistic, modern societies, lies in their relentless flight towards self-destruction. The 'me first' mentality that dominates almost everything that modern economies stand for is completely unsustainable in its current form.

Simple, unadorned compassion, points the way back toward the true self, towards our inter-connectedness, towards what REALLY is. It is uncomplicated and very basic.

Even though many seem to have forgotten this most important quality, deep down, their inner heart yearns for happiness and knows only too well that the balance must be restored.

The word Dalai Lama translates as; 'Ocean of Compassion,' He reminds of us of our true origins and sounds a call that echoes around the entire globe.

This is the haunting song of a Heart in Action, may we add our voices and may it also become our 'song.'