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.'