Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Ultimate Panacea for Cutting Through Our Addictions







And we all have them...

Addictions of one kind or another seep into the way we live our lives, stifling the inner sense of the precious present moment


We may not call them addictions or think of them in that light and yet these 'habits,' what ever they may be, have a hold upon us. Addictions imply that we are not free, that we are not unfettered.


Whether we are addicted to TV, to being in love, to running in the park, to smoking, to our mobile phones, to music, to anything whatsoever. Yes, and we can even be addicted to 'meditation!'

All addictions, whatever they may be, point to one thing;

We are bound by them. We have taken refuge in the the false sense of security that they provide. They keep us from perceiving what is nearest of all. By binding ourselves to our habits we prevent ourselves from living in the dynamic uncertainty of the present moment.

"Issues are like tissues. You pull one out and another appears!"

Gary Goldstein


So it is with our habits and addictions. We may think we have relinquished one but often we have merely replaced it for another. Like rabbits our habits breed incessantly, born from our mis-perception.

So how do we pull ourselves out of this conundrum?
The answer is simplicity itself.

By acknowledging our existence as 'awareness'  and then by
holding firmly to our recognition of it we begin to break the shackles of our bondage. 

By living in a state of utmost simplicity which implies complete acceptance of what is we discover how to ride the waves of uncertainty and impermanence, holding only to this simple moment which is right here and now.  

Our addictions imprison us only because we continue to doggedly to cling to the greatest addiction of all; our unquestioning trust and belief in a separate, individual, 'self.'

'Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person.'
Nisargadatta Maharaj

Those words point us squarely towards to an incredible mystery which surrounds each and everyone of us and yet amazingly, we somehow fail even to notice it!

When we believe in ourselves as individual identities we cover over what is always present and shining. Most of the time we are so distracted by the 'noise' within our mind that we cannot perceive the thundering silence in which we live, move and have our being.

The only true and lasting way to give up addictions forever, is to stop identifying with ourselves as the doer. To recognise, once and for all, our true nature, which is utterly beyond doer-ship, is the ultimate panacea.

And just what is that 'true nature'?

Our true nature, is the inexhaustible presence out of which all existence, in whatever form it may take, arises...

The first step in freeing ourselves is to become aware of our awareness

So take those addictions; whatever they may be, and offer them unconditionally, to the 'vast and absolute expanse' because we 
were born to soar high and unfettered!

We are so much more than we can even imagine...


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Eight Tips to Help us Overcome Negativity


In these days and times it can sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by negativity. Our own negativity; that which
other people convey and also the negativity that we see going on around us in the environment.

Yet, it is said that 'all of our moods and emotions arise from the mind', which basically means that, to find any peace and happiness in this world, it is essential to understand what the true nature of the mind really is.

To do this, however, requires a high degree of weariness with the trappings and ways of our usual habitual reactions to life and what we perceive happening around us. Most people are not quite at such a stage in their dissatisfaction levels as yet, to bring about the kind of focused inquiry needed for this sort of investigation.

We can, however, keep certain things in mind as we go about our daily routines. These shifts in attitude can greatly assist us in dispelling any negativity while at the same time helping us to generate a far more positive mental atmosphere, which in turn, can make our living environment so much more pleasant for us and all those around us, to live in.

1. Perspective.
In the bad moments and on the bad days we can turn the mind outwards to take in a much vaster perspective. We have only to look up at the sky in order to do this. Remembering that countless worlds are circling around in the universe, that we are so much more than we can ever think we are. We may not be able to understand fully what this really means just now, but we can take it on good faith that it is true. After all, how could we exist in the first place? This is truly a mystery beyond anything the mind is capable of comprehending!

2. Investigate and ask yourself, 'is this true?'
Whatever is happening in and around us is always changing. Our moods and our thoughts are constantly coming and going. Happy one moment and sad the next. How can we trust in any of these transient things? We can look into and ask ourselves, again and again, 'is this real? is this true?' What seems true and real in one moment can appear to be quite the opposite in the next.

3. Remember the basic goodness of beings.
We hear about so many bad things in the news, we are constantly barraged with negative advertising and images and such brutal and awful news. The media seems to have become a monster for endless negative regurgitation, and it can be such a 'downer.' Yet we have only to look around us to see how much beauty and goodness there is as well. In fact, if we are open to it, there are so many things in our environment that can bring us joy and they are simple and free and abundantly available. We have only to stop a moment and notice.

4. Be the witness at the centre of all happenings.
Being a witness of our lives and of our thoughts, we can create a little space between what is 'going on' and who and what we really are. As the 'witness' we can be in this world and yet not of it...

5. Give yourself moments of deep quietude. 
If we can give ourselves the gift of moments when we do not engage our mind in any kind of thought activity then, in the very midst of life, we can experience a deep silence and peace which is very refreshing. Even just a few moments spent inquietude can change our whole mood and perspective.

6. Put aside some time each day to do something that you find uplifting.
Some people get immense pleasure from gardening, others delight in their particular work, some are transported by music, still, others take enjoyment in swimming, or running or sailing...
Whatever it is that lifts our mind out of the drudgery of daily routines and thought patterns and reminds us that often the greatest joys can be found in the simplest of pursuits, we are blessed with a gift which is far more precious than anything that money can buy.

7. Smile at someone or extend a helping hand.
It is so easy to miss an opportunity to bring a little happiness or ease into another beings life, yet these chances can appear at any time and invariably they require little more than a slight effort. I remember one of my teachers telling me, 'if you see a beautiful flower, take note of it and offer the merit born of your delight, so that all beings may find peace and happiness.' This simple gesture can be practised in a whole multitude of situations and in an instant can transform the ordinary mind into a positive creator for the good.

8. Think about and remember impermanence and change.
Our world and everything in it is subject to the law of impermanence and change. This is a fact that we encounter every single day of our lives. Somehow we learn to live on in spite of it and yet how much more beneficial might it be if we could but remain alert to this fact with a freshness that makes each day matter and each moment count.

If none of the above tips really resonates with us then at the very least we can remember...


Which just about sums it all up!

Have a great day and put a smile on yours and somebody else's face. Go on, its easier than you think...

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Chatral Rinpoche, No Mind


Chatral Rinpoche at Yangla Sho

It is not easy to know where to begin when trying to describe someone like Chatral Rinpoche. Imagine a Master, one hundred and four years of age. One hundred and four years of life experience! He was like a living, walking, breathing encyclopedia of knowledge and wisdom. His areas of expertise covered fields as diverse as astrology and medicine right through to such mundane things as construction and masonry.

In his younger years he walked the length and breadth of Tibet in the days well before Chinese occupation and he did so in the simplest possible way, with little more than a flimsy tent, a pot for boiling water, a few bricks of tea, dried cheese and tsampa (barley flour). 


All i can really do is bow down in wonder and recall some of the multitude of memories that come to mind and that so beautifully reflect the many facets of the character of this amazing being. How fortunate i have been to have been able to live near such a Master. This alone is the most sublime of teachings!

In the presence of a realised Master one must be prepared for everything. The intensity of life is greatly magnified within their sphere of activity. In the space of a single hour the display of 'samsara' can fluctuate so wildly that one can do little but watch, listen and learn and of course try to keep up with the flow of events....

One morning Rinpoche, and his youngest daughter Tara Deva, and i were strolling around inside his temple compound at Salbari near Siliguri in West Bengal. Rinpoche was stretching his legs and looking over some small construction jobs that were going on. Suddenly, he looked up, turned to the gate and strode out towards the main road. Mentioning, almost as an after thought, in his deep, booming voice that he was off to purchase such and such building materials from the market.

We had no time to grab a bag, or any money, nothing. When Rinpoche got an idea, he would just act on it spontaneously in that very moment. Everything would happen around him in this way and could be very stressful for those of us who were attending him at any given time. One had to be constantly prepared for any and every possible eventuality!

This particular morning we could do nothing but follow because Rinpoche was already out the compound gate and well on his way to the main road before we could even react. Unprepared as we were, at least, on this morning Rinpoche was fully attired, not always the case on these early strolls around the compound.

Before we knew it, he was out on the highway and had flagged down a three wheeled auto rickshaw and deposited himself on the front wooden plank of the rickety vehicle next to the wizened, rather decrepit Indian driver who still had the remnants of a partially smoked bidi stuck into the corner of his mouth. 

We quickly jumped into the back seat and off we went with a spurt of fumes and the splutter of the two stroke auto engine. It whined and puttered and puffed its way down the road towards Siliguri. Every few minutes or so the creaking conveyance would belch and backfire as it lurched its way along the road, skirting potholes and various creatures that were wondering along on their own business.

I cannot forget the image of this 'Lion of the Mountains,' his long white beard splaying outward as wind buffeted us in the un-closed vehicle, his right hand clasping a small metal bar on the roof, and his left in a position of command on his knee, his back straight and his attention focused on the way ahead.

Looking at him, anyone would think that he was at the helm of a mighty ship setting forth on a journey to undiscovered continents.

He was always completely at ease, joyfully attuned to even the least trifle, be it a passing smile on the face of a child, the flash of green leaves in fields of tea bushes, ripe for the harvest, or the white wing of an egret as it sprang from the river.

We bumped along like this for about ten minutes when suddenly another vehicle closed in alongside ours. A gold coloured Mercedes Benz, silent, large and sleek seemed to appear like an eagle in a dream. At that time and in that place such a vehicle was as rarely seen as a flying saucer, at least in North-Eastern West Bengal, in the nineteen nineties.

The window in the second seat unwound and out popped a Bhutanese head. It was the Queen Mother and her royal entourage. Evidently they had arrived from Bhutan some minutes after we had left the compound and were giving chase. The driver was motioned to pull over. Even before the car had stopped in front of our shoddy conveyance, the body guards, in sumptuous Bhutanese royal regalia had leapt out and begun to make full length prostrations right then and there on the side of the road, regardless of the dust and muck.

Never a man for formalities, Rinpoche quietly got out of the auto, gave the driver his dues and strode over to the open back door of the car, quickly disappearing into the lush interior of this new conveyance.

He never missed a beat and was never phased or surprised or put out by anything. He could seamlessly transfer from the rickety, decrepit auto of a peasant to the richly gilded vehicle of a Queen without even blinking an eyelid.

*****

This excerpt is quoted from my book; 
The second volume in the four-part series; Shades of Awareness