Monday, 19 December 2016

When the Lone Owl Calls...


The Un-blinking Gaze of Awareness
 In the year 2011 when i was living in a tiny hut in forests of Lopchu, a wooded area straddling a ridge between Darjeeling and Kalimpong, i had a good deal of time to ponder the realities of life.

I lived less than a hundred meters away from an old village cremation ground and witnessed the unceasing flow of processions, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. The solemn groups of family, friends and community members who carried the deceased on their final journey to fires of dissolution. All passed by my small abode. 

The cremation ground was an unpretentious open space with a simple platform where a pyre could be built and after due ceremony, once the final rites had been given, the corpse laid to rest before being consumed by the flames.

Living in such close proximity to the spot where all of this was taking place, it was impossible to ignore or in any way forget the truth of the uncertainty within which we act out our short, distracted lives.

One evening in the stillness and cold, as i sat in my upstairs loft, the power suddenly went out. Being far from a city or even the village lights, everything was plunged into an inky darkness. I was well prepared for these occurrences.

I opened the large windows just in front of me and breathed deeply. I loved those times when the world was bathed in darkness. In the safety and comfort of my loft i could gaze out of the window and see the stars above in their glorious Himalayan splendour while below spread the valleys far far away; mere tiny speckles of light glimmering in the distance like forgotten promises.

Often clouds swirled around in these valleys and one almost felt that one was gazing from the window of a soundless aeroplane.

Such nights were not rare in this part of the world and if a moon had risen one could also clearly see the glittering white flanks of the Kanchenjunga massif, the world's third highest mountain. It seemed to hover like a surreal, yet stationary cloud in the northern sky.

This fantastic location readily gave rise to thoughts beyond the petty trappings of day to day living.

A lone owl called out from its perch in the nearby forest. Mournful, solitary and echoing throughout the hills. That call was so poignant, so haunting in the darkness of those long winter nights.

It was as though the owl's call was inside me echoing the call of my own awareness; persistent, near and unspeakably mysterious.

The following morning i woke to discover that the electricity supply had still not returned. The generator for the mobile tower over in the village was humming away, barely audible, amid the wailing calls of the birds that visited this location every year from Bhutan.

The mournful sound of their cry had an oddly poignant edge on those bright and sunny mornings and drowned out the chirps and cheerful melodies of the local bird life.
It intrigued me that they turned up in this little patch of
forest near Darjeeling, year after year. 

Many families from Bhutan were established along this ridge and within this patch of forest with its few remaining giant Utish trees, dripping with orchids and ferns. 

A little further up the road, the forest changed markedly as huge, Norfolk pines rose up in long, straight lines. Nothing could contrast more with the semi-tropical forests that surrounded the old temple than those towering, pine giants.  

The Norfolks were remnants of British rule and had been planted during the days when they came to these hills to enjoy the views and the cool temperatures during hot summer months. They had never been touched and had grown tall and thick. They were jealously guarded by the forestry officials. Rising up like a line of silent sentinels they marched up the mountainside seeming to gather all the light of the day to themselves.

When i first moved to the small Gompa, which had been offered to my teacher  (Chadral Rinpoche) some decades before, the caretaker was one of Rinpoche's elder Bhutanese students.  He had left Bhutan some years before to settle in these forested hills, bringing with him his two young sons, both of whom were ordained as Buddhist monks.

Pala, we called him. He was a wonderful caretaker. He had a green thumb and the gardens around the compound were always a mass of blooms. He was never idle and seemed always to be busy fixing or making something. He endlessly tinkered and planted and created and during his 'reign' the Gompa precincts were a bright mass of marigolds and everything looked fresh and well attended.

The two sons returned regularly but were often away and busy visiting local villages where they performed rituals and pujas for families who were celebrating births, deaths and marriages.

 However, some years after i moved to Lopchu Gompa, they decided to build a small temple of their own just up the road in a place called Ninth Mile.  This village was little more than a tiny cluster of dwellings and was situated right in the midst of those towering Norfolk Pines. 

Eventually, when the living quarters were completed, the sons moved up there taking Pala with them. He was sorely missed.

 A few months later, after they had settled in, the eldest son, Gomchen, decided to construct a small Mani Lhakang on the road. This would consist of a number of prayer wheels and it was intended that the locals and those passing by could spin the wheels rending the silence and casting the merit of thousands of mantras into the mountain air.

They were large barrel like objects that spun on a central spire. Each wheel was painted with the syllables of a mantra and contained many thousands of tiny rolls of prayers written out painstakingly on thin sheets of rice paper. They were carefully prepared before being blessed by a Lama and then packed inside the wheels. Each wheel turned in a clockwise direction and the faithful were said to generate a great wealth of blessings and merit thereby extending their lives.

Actually, the idea, to build these prayer wheels had been on Gomchen's mind for quite some time and he had been saving long and hard so that he could begin this small construction.

One morning while he was up on the road, preparing the iron rods for the workers to begin setting that day in concrete, he lifted one into an upright position in order to make a measurement. Unmindful of the wires nearby, it suddenly connected with the main overhead power line. Unfortunately, that day, there was no power cut.

The result was instantaneous. Many thousands of volts of
electricity poured through his body and out of his feet. In fact, the surge was so powerful that it blew holes right through the soles of his shoes.

His heart could not sustain itself under such a sudden and tremendous assault and within moments he was dead.  He was 48 years at the time.

He had been a Buddhist monk since childhood and had completed a
number of long retreats, hence the name Gomchen, which means 'great meditator'.  He had practised and meditated and led a life which by all accounts was praiseworthy and yet he did not see what was coming. 

When he had lifted the rod that morning, his mind was distracted by many competing thoughts, the very least of which was the thought of impermanence. That thought had slipped away into the hazy recesses of long years of repition and habit.

He had pondered much on death and the impermanence of life, it was true, and yet when death came it was totally unexpected and he was not prepared.

Palla was inconsolable with grief. He too had pondered long and hard on the Buddha's primary teachings. In his eighty years he had seen a good deal of joy and sorrow but none of it had prepared him for this. 

This was an irony beyond understanding.

Even in the midst of a 'holy life' one may constantly forget one's true nature. If we are endlessly distracted we cannot be prepared for the inevitable, which may tap us on the shoulder at any moment. 

We live our lives as though they will never end.  As though there will always be tomorrow and yet our death is the one and certain thing in this world, the thing none of us can avoid.  

We all know that death can visit us at any moment. We all understand this, we are all aware that this is what awaits us in some form or other and yet we get caught up in the dream of the unfolding cycle of day to day events.

And this is as natural to us as breathing. We have forgotten our true origin. We have forgotten who and what we really are.


Many would say that to remember death as our nearest companion is morbid and depressing.  But there is another side. It can help to wake us from the reverie that enslaves us in our day to day routines. 

Life and death are only two sides of one coin. The awareness from which they are inseparable remains unnoticed.

By carrying this awareness with us where ever we go, each moment and each day becomes a gift and an opportunity.

The thought of death reminds us to open our minds and hearts here and now, not tomorrow, not next year. It prompts us to look further than the tiny circle of our thoughts and our ordinary preoccupations.

May we all remember the inexhaustible spring of our awareness which is our true nature and which is, at every moment, awaiting our recognition. 


When the lone owl calls it is the distant echo of our own awareness.

This very moment, which is our constant yet unheeded companion is our golden key to unlocking the mystery of the eternal present which is ever beyond the vagaries of a transient life and death...

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Blue to Remind Us

Blue Mountains, New South Wales


Blue to remind us that even though something may look very old, in actuality its existence is but a blink in the vast and fathomless ocean of life...


“Pity the self that is, not the world that is not.
Engrossed in a dream, you have forgotten your true self.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj

It is such an odd thing that while we live we simply cannot imagine that death will come for us and for those that we love one day. Our life and our ‘story’ become so engrossing that we completely lose all wider perspective. We live inside the drama that is unfolding for us day by day and become so enslaved by it that we are not able to see the screen upon which all of it is being played out and which makes the enactment possible in the first place.

We don’t need to fear death or be morbidly preoccupied with its inevitability but keeping an awareness of it in mind can give us quite a different perspective on life. By remembering it often, we find cause to celebrate the time that we have now and to live that time fully and deeply.

When we dream in our sleep we eventually wake up and we know that we dreamed while we slept. But when we wake up from our living dream the whole basis of the illusion that we once believed to be true, starts to unravel. We begin to die to the ‘little self’ and are reborn to the greater. A crack opens up in our mind and things no longer seem quite as real as they had before. The tight grip of our preoccupation begins to loosen and with that loosening, come moments of lucidity, moments of peace.

The late Khyentse Rinpoche sometimes used to liken people to little children. He spoke of how they would get so swept away by their lives. Like a child busy making a sand castle near the ocean. He becomes so engrossed in making the castle that he does not notice that the tide is coming in and that the sun is sinking lower on the horizon. Eventually, when the water is lapping right at his heels and the sun is about to disappear he suddenly looks up and begins to cry. He calls for his mother and weeps for the sand castle which is being dissolved by the incoming waves.

Are we not like this? Utterly preoccupied with what is happening in our mind and in our immediate surroundings.

We have all watched sad movies and later felt relieved that it was only a movie and not something actually going on in our own lives. We were happy to return to our familiar life and world. Yet the slings and the arrows of misfortune can jolt us so strongly that they provide the very impetus we need to step back from the living dream and see it for what it really is. Without these jolts we might continue on indefinitely, absorbed with our game, unaware of the passage of time.

In the midst of a happy life are we likely to stop and ask ourselves; what is this all about?’ But when sorrows blight our existence nothing is more natural than that we should step back and question our existence. We need not shun our mind or our emotions, because, in time, they can become our greatest motivators and our staunchest allies. From out of the fire of our suffering and pain, is born and arises the Phoenix.

Iron ore may think itself senselessly tortured in the furnace and yet,
When the blade of finest steel emerges, it knows better.

Rampa

All our suffering is tied up with the belief in a separate self. When that ‘little self’ ceases to exist, the world is seen clearly for what it really is; a fleeting drama. If we can see beyond the illusion of a separate identity we can release ourselves from the fascination of the 'living dream' once and for all.

Pity the self that is, not the world that is not.


Engrossed in a dream, we have forgotten our True Self.

*****


Excerpt from the book; Who Lives? Who Dies?


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Seeing Beyond









We look outwardly
into the world and then get
caught up
in the unceasing dance of life.


When we turn the mind inwardly
we perceive what it is that
sees
the dance...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Supreme Simplicity

Life is an uncharted series of 'events.'
We think we are standing at the helm of our own private 'boat' and steering our course through the shifting, changing ocean currents.

But, in actuality,

who and what we really are

is motionless, changeless and un-shifting.

Behind all 'events' there is the awareness from which it all arises...

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Am I Dreaming You?

 Am I Dreaming You?

When someone we know and have moved with through life suddenly disappears from this world forever it can give us a huge shock. As a friend recently pointed out to me; 'Death is the least surprising thing in the world and yet when it strikes without warning it is the most surprising.'

Life is indeed dreamlike. So dreamlike that we often cruise through our days barely aware of what is really going on. Then suddenly someone we have known, someone we have loved or loathed or someone who has in some way touched our lives, even if only the fringes of it, is suddenly gone. They are no more; phoof!

Are we so numb that we only look up for a brief moment before snapping back into our distracted world? Or do we get enough of a jolt to 'pause'?

The 'pause' is crucial. It is our ticket to something so much bigger than the petty concerns and preoccupations of our day to day life.

The following excerpt is a continuation on the theme we have been following in the previous two posts from the book; Who Lives Who Dies?

"When I was around thirteen years of age, I used to cycle to school with a girl who lived quite near our house.

Jessie was a little older than me. She had gorgeous, healthy, long blond hair that always seemed to fall in perfect folds around her face. She was not beautiful but she was certainly attractive. She was not one of my closest friends, nor was she a confidante, but I enjoyed her company on the long cycle rides to and from our school and over the years we developed an easy going and pleasant friendship.

Every day we had to traverse many miles of roads to reach our college. We often found ourselves pushing into a strong head wind which made the journey seem that much harder and longer. Cycling together, Jessie and I would chat and joke about all sorts of things and the trip felt less tiring. Near the end while on our way home, we would push our heavy cycles together up the indomitably steep, ‘Tamaki Street’ which stretched up the hillside on the last leg of our journey. Alone, this last climb seemed interminable, but when there were two of us it didn’t feel quite so bad.

We made these trips five days a week, month after month over a period of several years and because we shared this routine so regularly I seldom thought anything of it.

Then suddenly one day she was gone. I got the news from my sister, who heard it from a friend of hers. Jessie had been instantly killed when a motorbike, on which she was a pillion passenger, somehow missed a bridge, flew off the side of the road and crashed into the riverbed below. It had happened two nights before word had reached my ears.

I was utterly stunned. Then, as that sensation began to wear off, a seeping, painful sense of having been betrayed swept over me. I thought of all the days that we had cycled to and from school together. I thought of all the hours that we had spent in our respective classrooms. I could not think of anything that she or I might have done in these past years that could have in any way prepared us for this.

I could think of nothing in my school life or my home life that came even near to addressing the fact of ‘death.’
The things which I had spent all my time doing suddenly appeared superficial and irrelevant. I wondered that I could have slipped into such absentmindedness.

All the days, months and years that we spent in our college, doing our lessons and then all the hours spent after school doing homework, suddenly all of that seemed like some kind of bad joke.

Despite my previous experiences, nothing I had done up until this point had really addressed this issue.

My life suddenly felt very empty. There was something about it that made it seem unreal.

That life could be snatched away suddenly was something I had brushed against much earlier, but ‘I’ had gone on, life had gone on and once the old routines recommenced I had been lulled back into that shadow land which engrosses all of our energy and attention with things that we are somehow made to think are important.

In this new situation, someone I had seen and shared time with almost every day for several years simply was no more and there was nothing that anybody could do to change that.

That very day I made the cycle ride to school alone. It was a cold Monday morning. Never will I forget walking into the classroom and having to endure the silent stares of the entire class. No one knew what to say, no one knew what to do. Something unspeakably ‘mysterious’ had happened right in our midst and yet we all just sat there doing our lessons hour upon hour without even alluding to it.

In those days there was no pupil counselling to help students through any kind of crisis like this, there was no support at all.
One was simply expected to get on with it; with the same useless, meaningless grind, as though nothing at all had happened.

Somehow, when Jessie died, everything felt different in a new way. I had reached an age when my mind was beginning to question and inquire. In earlier years I had simply accepted whatever came along, but now I felt no longer able to do that.

Her death left a completely unexpected, gaping hole in a day-to-day ritual that we had shared for several years. I found it impossible to accept that she had simply ‘ceased to be.’ The sense of absolute mystery about her disappearance from the world threw me into a contemplative mood. I found no comfort in the words I heard in church.

I urgently needed to know what it actually means to ‘die.’ I did not want to hear some secondhand stuff that had been pulled from a book. I wanted more than that.

During that time, I discovered one thing that could bring a sense of relief and perspective to my life. I took to sitting outside at night and gazing up at the sky.

When I did this I could feel the ‘mystery’ and the ‘something’ which is so unfathomable about our existence. To look out and see countless stars and universes helped me to bypass my questioning mind and feel directly something which I could not name. When I looked into the vastness of infinity I could feel at once that there is so much more to our existence than the petty day to day concerns that ate up all our time and energy. This helped me to cope with my grief and frustration.

I suppose that is when I understood that the society I was growing up in would not be able to satisfy the deeper, inner questionings that this event triggered.

The intense and actual mystery of so-called ‘death’ loomed up before me as a huge and solemn unknown.

How was it possible to continue on with the daily routines knowing that we all faced this and that one day we would die? Surely there was something more which we needed to know.

Western societies are not known for prolonging their mourning. In fact, the feeling one gets is that as soon as the loved one is buried or cremated, as the case may be, it is expected that there should be a sense of closure or, at least, the expectation of closure and everyone then goes on with whatever it was they were doing before.

I felt that ‘death’ was not being given its full due, it was being brushed over in a way that seemed superficial and inconsistent with the fact, that each of us would have to face this at some point.

Why was it that no one seemed to wonder where she went or what actually happened to her? Why was it that people were able to believe, so unquestioningly, what they had merely been told? I knew that could never work for me.

It takes some unravelling to get to the bottom of the complex feelings that can accompany the loss of someone who has touched our lives. Most of the time, these feelings are glossed over, ignored, or buried beneath a load of distractions. There are endless ways of not confronting the reality of loss and death directly.

We avoid the confrontation by filling our time with self-centered and artificial distractions. Very often we are preoccupied with all manner of things that are not in the least bit vital and this is primarily how the days, months and years of our lives are filled. All the while, we know very well, that the ‘clock is ticking,’ that our time is running out, yet we are no closer to understanding what it’s all about.

Inherently we are so much more than we are led to believe. There is a mystery in that. A mystery far beyond the confines of what our day to day ‘thinking mind’ is willing or even able to comprehend. We can get a striking sense of that even very early in life.

The fact is that we cannot escape ‘ourselves’, where ever we go, whatever we do, we are bound to be confronted, sooner or later with the mystery of our own existence.

This is why it is vital to look deeper now in the midst of so-called ordinary life, with all its cares and distractions, because the ‘now’ is itself filled with immensity and holds the key to the deep, disclosing recognition of who and what we really are. The now is all that we really have!

Jessie’s life came to an early and abrupt end and she did not know herself beyond the body and mind and the routine day to day needs and preoccupations of worldly life. But it can be different for us. We have the chance to look inward and discern beyond what appears to be true to what actually is true.

Life gives us a push and in some instances a sharp and hard slap, forcing us to look further and more deeply. We are not bound to believe all that others would have us believe, we must discover the truth for ourselves and the signposts that rise up on our individual journeys are often unique and perfectly tailored to help us do just that and thereby, wake up.

May the inward journey for each of us begin now; fresh and renewed with each passing moment! "

Page 50: Where Did She Go? from the book;

Thursday, 22 September 2016

True Meditation


True Meditation is an effortless spacious moment
in which we let go of our 'selves' of our 'thoughts'
and our endless distraction.
By allowing our attention to just rest naturally,
we give ourselves the opportunity to
recognize what is always there...

Sunday, 14 August 2016

A Matter of Life and Death

Rainbow above Sydney Park

We think that we are the body. We identify with it in almost every way. We spend inordinate amounts of time, energy, and money to keep it fed, rested, beautiful, clean, healthy etc. Is there anything we would not do to make this 'body' more at ease, more comfortable, more attractive?


Yet every single one of us knows, deep down, that one day this body will dissolve into the elements from which it originally arose. Everything that is born into this world will one day die. Can we point to any great figure, in all the history of past aeons, who did not die to this world, sooner or later?

Yet we seldom really give much attention to this fact. Life swallows us up with its distractions and fascinations. By focussing all of our attention on the shifting shadows of day-to-day goings on we constantly fail to notice what is unshifting, stable and ever-present.

Yet, there are those who have solved the mystery of our 'existence' and who live and move in this world fundamentally unfettered by the physical body and all that concerns it. They are the authentic teachers in this world; those who have gone beyond the strictures of religious ideologies and dogmas.


We may or may not have the karma to meet with such as they, in this lifetime, but we should, at least, know that they exist and that all of us have the potential to be as they are.

They are as a 'lighthouse' in this world. Beacons of hope in a shifting landscape filled with danger. We need to know that there is so much more to who and what we really are and they come into this world to help us to realize that. Essentially they are our inspiration and our hope.

The following is an excerpt from the book; Who Lives? Who Dies?

Early one morning I woke to the sound of thunder. It was a humid pre -monsoon dawn in Boudhanath, Kathmandu. The year was 1991.
I bathed, dressed and had a light breakfast, then made my way along the lanes and pathways from the room where I was staying to the Monastery of
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, which was nearby.

I knew that something ‘special’ would be happening that morning in Rinpoche’s room and I was determined not to miss it.
I reached the temple and quickly skirted the Mani wheels as I headed clockwise around the main building to the back entrance.

Once inside I was able to dart swiftly up the stairway to the third level where Khyentse Rinpoche had been staying the last several weeks and was just in time to slip inside the door before it was carefully and resolutely bolted from the inside.

I was one of the very last arrivals, all others were already inside and seated quietly on the floor. The room was full but not overcrowded. Only a selection of Tulkus, Lamas and a handful of western students were there.

The atmosphere was charged, not only with the gathering of focused and largely influential attendees, but, also by the approaching storm which filled the room with flashes of lightning and claps of thunder.

Storms were a common afternoon occurrence at this time of the year in Nepal, but only rarely did they take place in the early morning hours.

I had heard the day before that Tulku Orgyen (a great Dzogchen Master) would be offering a special Long Life Empowerment to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche(a contemporary and also a great Dzogchen practitioner) who had not been well for some time.

Although I had received this particular blessing already numerous times before, to be present when two such illustrious masters were coming together and under such deliciously secretive circumstances, was not something to be missed.

I quickly found a place to sit at the back of the gathering so that I could take in all the proceedings while leaning comfortably against the outer wall. The supplication chanting had begun.

Tulku Orgyen Rinpoche had already completed all of the preliminary preparations for the empowerment and a number of ministering attendant Lamas were officiating near the mandala and ritual objects which had been carefully laid out and arranged.

As soon as these prayers had been offered in unison by all those present, Tulku Orgyen launched into the main part of the ceremony.

Few people knew that this empowerment was taking place and the whole thing had been kept very hush, hush with only certain close students in the ‘know.’ If it had not been kept secret there would have been throngs of devotees hoping to attend and the sheer numbers would have made the event untenable.

All proceeded smoothly until I suddenly noticed that Tulku Orgyen had stopped reciting the prayers and was doubled over on the cushion just in front of Khyentse Rinpoche.

One of his long-time Western students from Germany, a qualified Doctor, who had been attending Orgyen Rinpoche for some years, was present and swiftly flew to his side. A ripple of surprise and alarm passed through and around the room, all eyes were glued to the drama unfolding at the front.

It so happened that at the moment of recitation of a certain part of the empowerment Tulku Orgyen had suffered a heart attack. Khyentse Rinpoche who was sitting right in front of him had been reading a small text while all this was going on and quietly looked up. He made some comment and then continued on with his reading.

Before long, Tulku Orgyen, with the help of one of his several sons, sat up again and continued on with the empowerment to its conclusion. It was all carried forward in such a manner that anyone not alert might have completely missed what had just taken place.

However, the irony of that morning was not lost on many of those who were present. In the dynamically charged atmosphere, it was a moment few of us were likely to easily forget. Death had come knocking at the door of the Lama who was bestowing the ‘long life’ empowerment. Khyentse Rinpoche had acknowledged what was happening and then continued on with his reading as though it were the most ordinary of day-to-day occurrences.

The ceremony was completed without further mishap. All were given the blessing and sent on their way.

Tulku Orgyen Rinpoche lived on for many more years and Khyentse Rinpoche passed away within three months.

Both of these masters were fully accomplished in the Dzogchen ‘view’ and all of us present that eventful morning were in awe of their realization. Neither Lama feared death or life, having gone courageously beyond both, and reached stability in the ‘natural state.’

None can predict or interpret the dance and play of the forces that rule our lives.

We may forget to acknowledge the extraordinary mystery of That which powers this whole display of being born, living out the allotment of our days and then undergoing all the stages of physical dissolution, but whether it is acknowledged or not, it is played out relentlessly.

From the standpoint of ‘realised beings’ such as our two distinguished Lamas at the centre of this event; nothing happened because their reality was based on something so much larger; something un-shifting, unchanging and unfathomable.

We all witnessed the manner in which neither master took this incident personally, or was even particularly concerned by it. They simply noted what was happening and continued on, just as they did with everything else that came their way.

Having a ‘view’ as wide as the sky, what is there to fear in the passing events which occur throughout life? That which is unshakeable, unchanging and eternal is our basic, inmost nature. In abiding in this state a realised being is able to pass through all the fluctuations of transitory events while remaining completely unaffected by them and in so doing, point clearly, un-mistakenly and powerfully towards that which is our natural inheritance.

***

What is the moral of this story, you might ask?
Once one crosses, for good, the threshold of recognition of one’s inmost, true nature, one transcends forever, the limitations of the mind, which is chained to the relative world and its conception of ‘life and death.’


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Sooner or Later We Will Face the Mystery


There comes a time in our lives when we get shaken up. It might come about through any number of happenings and in any number of ways. Some momentous personal event suddenly helps us to view the world and our place within it in a totally new light, thereby, bringing into focus, the mystery of death.

Giving our attention to this huge 'unknown' which we call death can help us to open another door into the even greater mysterious cavern of, what we call, our life, which in turn, can point us at last, towards the greatest of all mysteries; that of our awareness.


Awareness is always present and yet remains unnoticed, 
unheeded and unappreciated.

During the coming weeks, we will be posting some excerpts from the book; 
Who Lives? Who Dies? What We Need to Know Before We Go
This is intended to give a snapshot of one woman's endeavour to fathom this mystery. 

We are all 'called' but we don't always listen to and heed that call. Life swallows us up with its unending round of distractions and it monopolises almost all of our 'attention' all of the time. 

May the following articles inspire readers to look past their usual preoccupations, even if only for a moment. It takes courage to use this precious life to do what is most meaningful and yet this is our true birthright. 

May you be inspired to take some steps towards embarking on your own journey into the heart of being.

In the first place it is important to know what a 'human being' can be in the highest sense. These days the focus is on people who do not know 'who and what they really are.' We see endless examples of this in the fame and adoration given to politicians, sports stars, actors, and musicians etc. But what does it mean to encounter someone who has crossed that invisible threshold and become so much more...?

My father was a Polish Catholic, my mother, loosely affiliated with the Anglican Church. Neither faith made a very strong impression on me in younger days, although I felt a deep love and respect for the Christ figure and for the simplicity and integrity with which he had lived his life.

In my twenties, I met a Tibetan Lama of high standing (the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche) and was profoundly impressed. I had never encountered such a powerful human being before. This was not a worldly type of ‘power,’ it was something far more mysterious. This person, who was already nearing his eighties by the time I came along, had the sort of ‘presence’ that just automatically, ‘stopped the mind.’

I could not understand what was happening when I was near him in those early days, but at the time that seemed unimportant. When I came within his orbit, I felt as though I was merging into something so much larger. It took a long while to even begin to comprehend, intellectually, what I felt immediately and instinctively in my heart.

In the presence of such a being, the opportunity for a radical shift in one’s focus becomes entirely possible. In the years that followed, I met a number of other highly realized Tibetan Lamas in the Vajrayana Buddhist traditions. All had been trained in the old school way in Tibet prior to the Chinese occupation of 1959 and all had undergone long periods of retreat in various remote caves and sacred locations in and around Tibet.

Each of these teachers had given up comfort, ease, family, and friends in order to find ‘truth.’ They had given up ‘everything’ in order to attain the highest goal. These days it is rare for such things to happen.

Although my teachers have been primarily Buddhist, I consider each one as having gone, entirely beyond the confines of their particular religious creed.

Their power sprang from the source of their own pure and deep experience and that is something shared by all who have recognised their true nature and achieved a measure of stability in that, no matter what tradition, religion or creed they may be affiliated with.

Truth, which is vast and eternally relevant yet changeless, is beyond any mind made creed or religion.

Let us meet in the eternal truth of what is here and now!

Excerpt from the Preamble:  Who Lives? Who Dies? 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

No Place to Go


Sydney Park by L Lauren

There is a favored place. 
A place to sit and breathe and simply be...
It is set apart on a small hill and overlooks a large swathe of the surrounding area.
 It takes in the expanse of sky and space around.

 In this place it is easy to remember that we are not what is happening to us.

 We are beyond all happenings, all doings, all comings, and goings.

We need to be reminded of this again and again because the 'world' pulls us out from our center again and again.

Yet this world is as fleeting as the time that birds that come together on a branch.

For just one moment they are there and then they are gone without leaving
 a trace.

Like the passing clouds and moods of the sky above
we can loose ourselves in the ceaseless tumult and rush of this world.

But our inmost being can never loose us.

Constantly it is tapping away at our awareness,
 beckoning us to remember,
 summoning us tirelessly to
 look within.

We always tend to think that we have somewhere to go, 
something to do, someone to visit, something to say.

Yet the truth of our being is constantly trying to remind us that we are
complete, whole, and undivided.

No place to go. 
We are always just where we need to be.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Blade of Finest Steel


Iron Ore may think itself senselessly tortured in the furnace
but when the blade of finest steel emerges, it knows better...




If we could see our future; if we could know how things will turn out and
if we could comprehend the greater and wider picture, we might move
through this life very differently. Then again, we might not.

How much of what happens is actually up to us?

We like to believe that we are the master of our own little ship.
That we are standing at the helm, making all the decisions and that we are in control. The whole setup looks and feels so convincing. There we are on the bridge clutching the wheel while all around us is the wide and open sea. Despite the size and the seasons of this vast ocean space, we feel that we are indeed steering our own independent course.

Yet, is this really true?
And how can we know if it is or not?

Recently, i underwent a journey at considerable expense of time, money, energy and effort. It did not turn out the way i had been hoping for or expecting. In fact, it was altogether quite disastrous in terms of those preconceived expectations. 

It seems not to matter how long we live, how much we do or how far we travel, to some degree or other we remain glued to our belief in what we 'think' we know. Very often the results of life experience don't seem to add up to much and certain things may take place for which we can find very little meaning at all and yet at the end of the day, do we need to? Would what we know or think we know really affect the outcome?

Is there anything in what appears to 'happen' to us that we can actually hold onto? If we look back on events they are just memories. If we look forward to future happenings, they are simply fabrications of the mind's hopes and fears.

The mind is brilliant at fabricating, interpreting and judging, but can we really trust it?

The ego can take a certain satisfaction in what we might perceive as 'worthwhile' or positive outcomes but what do we do with the stuff that we just can't make sense of? 

If we are not to become cynical about or jaded by 'life' there remains only one course open to us. But how do we get to the point where we can let go of our preconceptions and assumptions without going through a process which will ultimately leave us no choice. Such a process is likely to be a torrid and long drawn out affair?

As tiny children, we could look out at the world without preconceptions, but then life set in and we were loaded with so much information, imprisoned by so many surrounding thoughtforms and finally so bound up by our own created mental attitudes that now we can no longer remember the simple innocence of just 'being.'

Think of the way each grain of sand on the beach has arisen by the action of endlessly crashing waves and seasons. We can be likened to these grains and our life experiences to all its ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns. 
"If it were not for the stones and boulders on the mountain, we could not catch hold of and move onward and upward to the summit of the peak.

How many of us ever reflect deeply in the midst of happy circumstances. When things are going our way, we relax and tend to let the time fly by. We don't consider the deeper questions surrounding our lives and our existence. We don't question our assumptions about this world. In fact, we take our lives and the extra-ordinary fact of our existence completely for granted.

Only when it is about to be snatched away from us or from someone to whom we are deeply attached, do we stop and give our attention to what is most important.

As babies, we could look out at the world without bias but as we proceed deeper into the maelstrom of life we loose our 'real' selves and become hopelessly entangled and confused.

"Water, water everywhere, yet not a drop to drink." Afloat on the sea of life our very existence arises due to the 'water' of our awareness and yet we often feel ourselves to be alone and abandoned on a vast ocean from which it seems that we cannot drink.

Again and again, life rises up to force us to look more closely at that 'water' of our awareness. The filters created by our mind must be taken away, either one by one or all at once, before we can see it for what it really is. Sooner or later we must acknowledge that nothing could exist without it and that we do not even need to reach out to grasp at what is inherently already there within us.

So next time we feel ourselves to be like helpless iron ore, aflame within the furnace of uncertain life events, we can remember the blade of finest steel. It will flash brightly in the rising sun to remind us of what has always been ours. It is what makes the flashing of recognition possible in the first place.

Ultimately, we have two choices; either to let go and recognise what is already there or to undergo the painful, forging process required to help us let go of the multitude misconceptions that our mind has created.