Zen Master Hui Hai: does the Absolute ever change?

dazhu_huihai

It’s all too common for seekers of enlightenment to fall into conceptual traps. Rather than using beliefs to free themselves from beliefs all together, the verbal teachings are instead often clung to, like a drowning man clutching at a straw.

One concept that can be useful along the way is that of the Absolute, but like all concepts it is also a potential trap, in that we can fall into believing in the Absolute without any real experience, or worse, only a partial experience that gives us the false impression we actually know something when we in fact do not.

In this following passage we see Ch’an Master Hui Hai in dialogue with a Tripitaka master, (The Tripitaka are the traditional written scriptures of Buddhism). Deliberately Hui Hai gives the ‘wrong’ non-traditional answer initially in order to free the questioner from fixed views and show that the Teaching (Dharma) can be expressed in a myriad of ways.

At the end  of the dialogue the Tripitaka master expresses his respect and amazement at how the Southern school – the ‘Zen’ school of sudden enlightenment of which Hui Hai is part – is truly unfathomable:

Once a Tripitaka Master asked: “Does the Bhutatathata (Absolute Reality) ever change?”
The Master [Hui Hai] replied: “Yes, it does change.”
The Tripitaka Master retorted: “You, Venerable Ch’an Master, are wrong!”
The Master then asked the Tripitaka Master: “Does the Bhutatathata exist or not?”
The Tripitaka Master answered: “Yes, the Bhutatathata does exist.”
The Master replied: “So if you say it does not change, then you are just an ordinary, worldly monk. Doubtlessly, by now you must have heard that the lowest vices can be changed into the highest virtues, the three poisons into the three cumulative disciplines, the six consciousnesses into the six supernatural powers, all the defilements into Bodhi, and the most abysmal ignorance into the highest wisdom. Thus, if you say that the Bhutatathata does not change, then you, a Tripitaka Master, are really a heterodox-sect follower. [ie. a heretic]”
The Tripitaka Master responded: “If you put it that way, then I have to admit that the Bhutatathata does change.”
The Master retorted: “But if you, indeed, hold that the Bhutatathata does change, that is also a heterodox view.”
The Tripitaka Master asked: “Ch’an Master, you just said that the Bhutatathata does change, but now you say it does not change. How can that be?”
The Master responded: “If one sees his own nature clearly – which, like Mani-Jewels, can manifest itself in different colors – then he is correct in saying that the Bhutatathata both changes and does not change. In contrast, however, if one has not seen his own nature, he will, on hearing that the Bhutatathata changes, grasp at the idea of mutability. Also, oppositely, he will, on hearing that the Bhutatathata does not change, grasp at the idea of immutability.”
The Tripitaka Master concluded: “Now I really understand what is meant when it is said that the Southern Ch’an Sect is truly unfathomable!”

This last answer of Hui Hai is particularly instructive – he essentially states that the Truth expresses itself in different ways, just like jewels can be of various colours. If one has intuitively seen this Truth, then one can correctly express this truth, even with seemingly opposed verbal statements, as these statements are coming from a ‘place of Truth’. However, for one who has not seen, the verbal statements are always incorrect, even when they are ‘officially correct’, as the essential insight is not present, and the statements are not expressions of Truth but expressions of the ignorant ego-mind.

These ego/ignorance-ridden statements are not liberating – they are simply a clinging to an empty doctrine. These insight-less statements merely give strength to the false-ego that thinks it knows something, strengthening and perpetuating the ego/sense of separation of both the one speaking and anyone listening.

(Note that I use the word ego here as a synonym for ignorance, the false belief in separation or the false belief in a separate entity that authors thoughts and actions)

 

Advertisements

Is there anything I can do to become enlightened?

Q. Is there anything I can do to become enlightened?

Tom: Yes, certainly, you can:

  1. Relax – make this a deliberate practice in your life
  2. Listen – Consistently expose your mind to the teachings of a teacher you trust and resonate with. Be with a teacher if possible.
  3. Inquire – Ask questions when they feel like they need to be asked. When the mind is calm and stable, ask yourself ‘Who am I?’.
  4. Relax! (Have faith and be happy) – Don’t worry too much about things as they come and go

Best wishes!

Spiritual enlightenment: powerful teachings from Robert Adams

Robert_Adams.jpg

Robert Adams (1928-1997), who I think I can rightly call a devotee of Ramana Maharshi, taught in his later years in the USA. From what I’ve read of his teachings, they are incredibly similar to the verbal teachings of Ramana Maharshi, and also have a sense of openness, precision and clarity.

I’ve trawled through a few of his writings and put together some excerpts that I hope will be of benefit to the seeker of spiritual enlightenment. This is not meant to represent the complete scope of Robert Adam’s teachings, but just to highlight some key points that leapt out to me as I read through. I particularly concentrated on the role of thought in Robert Adam’s teachings.

I have bolded some phrases that seemed important to me and also interspersed some very brief comments in red. Again, I hope this is of benefit to you.

 

Firstly, some teachings about ‘no thoughts’, which will be expanded upon later on:


Sitting here quietly, peaceful, without thoughts then you are the unblemished Self. The ultimate reality, this is you right now. As soon as you start thinking about it, it goes away, it changes, it’s not you any longer, it’s your humanhood. So when I say to adore your Self I am referring to adoring yourself as God, as the ultimate reality which is really you. But if you think of yourself as a human being with problems who makes mistakes you cannot adore yourself at all. You condemn yourself you put yourself down.

 


Liberation means that you’re totally and completely free, without thoughts. There are no thoughts in the Self. If there were thoughts in the Self, it wouldn’t be the Self. For the Self is only one and all-pervading. When you become absorbed in the Self, it’s completely different than what you ever believed. It’s not explainable. But as far as you’re concerned, you become totally free, happy, peaceful. There is no longer anyone to argue with or become upset over. This is the Self.

 


It’s very simple, no thoughts and you’re free.

 


Now a bit about a method of creating a state in which there are no thoughts:

See what you’re doing now. You’re thinking. That spoils it. Learn to stay without thought. Even if for a few seconds. It’s hard isn’t it. This is the reason you have to ask yourself, “To whom do these thoughts come?” It’s only a modality to cause you to stop thinking. (slight pause)

Some of you are beginning to feel what I’m talking about. No thoughts. Nothing to remember. Nothing to do. When thoughts come to you about your affairs, about your predicament, realize that you have surrendered your affairs and your predicament to the Self and all is well.

In other words there should be no situation that appears strong enough to set you off. Feeling miserable or feeling too happy. No thing should have that power. It’s called the thoughtless state.

It’s really not that hard. Let go. Close your eyes, it’ll help. If you have to do something, observe your breath. But if you can’t, forget about your breath. After all, to whom does the breath come? To the body. Since there is no body there is no breath. Then what is? I-am. What is I-am? Silence. Open your heart, let go. There is no past, no future. No thing can ever harm you. You exist in eternity. Be still. The breath does not exist any longer. There never was a body.

There is only that. Silence.

 


Your job is to stop thinking. To remove the thoughts. The thoughts are your Master now. That make you feel sad or happy, good or bad. Why do you feel this way? For your thoughts since you were a little kid have been impressed by the world conditions, by your parents, by your school, by your church and they have convinced you and programmed you to believe this is good, this is bad, this is right, this is wrong. Only when you have this are you successful. If you don’t have certain things you are a failure. It is the thoughts that tell you these things. Again if there are no thoughts there is noone left to tell you anything. This is called liberation, moksha, freedom. You begin where you are now. You begin with yourself. You question yourself. You inquire, “Who am I?” You sit in the silence. If thoughts come you inquire, “To whom do they come? You become still.”

 


When the mind is quiet the thoughts subside. When there are no thoughts there is the self. So all these practices are really to quieten the mind, not for any other purpose. No matter what form of sadhana you’re practicing. Whether you’re a Jnana or bhakta or karmic yoga or anything else they’re really the same. All of these practices are simply to quieten the mind. To make the mind one pointed. When the mind becomes one pointed self-inquiry becomes very easy. Then the mind will disappear completely and you’ll be free.

 


And what about feelings?

Body sensations are the same as thoughts. As you keep inquiring, “Who am I?” And you stay in the space between the answer, between the question. Then the body thoughts become less and less and the thoughts become less and less, they’re the same thing. The feelings and the thoughts are nothing as you practice sel finquiry. You ask, “Who does this come to? It comes to me. I think this. Who am I?” And when you keep still your body sensations will slow down, as well as your thoughts. And soon there will be no body sensations, there will be no thoughts. There will be nothing. So body sensations are the same as thoughts. T139: Existence Is Not In Form! 1500 When one goes the other goes also. You cannot have body sensations without thoughts. There has to be a thought about a body sensation. So when the thoughts dissipate, the body sensations will also dissipate.

 


Is no-thoughts the same as self-realisation?

The no mind state is when you’ve come from practicing, to the place in the silence. Where there are no thoughts bothering you any longer. You get there through self inquiry. That is the fastest way. But that is not self-realization. Self-realization is when the mind is pulled into the spiritual heart…

…Liberation, moksha, self-realization is when the mind that’s left over in the silence is pulled completely into the spiritual heart. At that time your whole mind, the I dissolves completely and you are free.

So the no mind state is a very high state. It’s the state of bliss. But there is still somebody left to experience the bliss. When the bliss is pulled into the heart there is no one left to experience anything. Therefore you no longer say, “I’m in the no mind state.” At that time there is nothing to say. Can you understand that?

 


I’m scared. What will happen if I don’t think?

The thoughts and the ego are synonymous. As the thoughts slow down, the ego slows down, and begins to also disappear with the thoughts. When there are no thoughts, there’s no ego. When there’s no ego, there’s nobody left to think. Then the question you will ask is, “How do I function without thinking?” As I mentioned in the beginning, the sage’s thoughts are like a burnt rope. They appear to be real, but they’re not. In other words, your thoughts are not real. They are false. How do you function without thoughts? Very well, thank you.

Many of you still believe you have to have thoughts to function. You think you’ll become a vegetable, but you will be spontaneous without thoughts. You’ll be motivated by the Self. You will know what to do, where to go, whom to speak to, whom not to speak to, much better than you do now, much, much better. Things will happen to you spontaneously. Everything we always talk about is very paradoxical, and the paradox here is, even though you have no thoughts, you will still think about certain things. It has to be done. But there’s absolutely no thinker alive. There’s no thinker. There is no one left to think, yet you still appear to be thinking about certain things, so you can function. It’s similar to what we were discussing on Sunday. People always ask me, “What do you see? Do you see the world?” Of course I see the world. If I didn’t see the world, I wouldn’t be able to function. But I see the world as the Self. In other words, I see the world as images on reality, like in the movies, the images on the screen. I’m able to see the screen and the images at the same time. I see reality and I see the images. So it is with the thoughts, the same thing with the thoughts. You appear to be thinking, but you’re not thinking. This is a very important point to remember. You will think whatever you have to think about, but the thoughts will be dead, like the burnt rope, like the fan with the plug pulled out, but the blades are still spinning, until they stop.


But can we really stop our thoughts? It that actually possible?

Now really, no Sage on this earth or anywhere else really stops the thoughts. As long as you see a body, and you call that body the Sage, there will always be some sort of thinking in that body, some sort of thought. For instance I can be sitting here and I’ll say to myself “when I go home I’m going to eat a dish of ice-cream”. This is a thought. But what happens when I say it and what happens when you say it?

When I say it, when I think it, it is similar to a burned rope. A burned rope may appear to be strong, but when you pick it up, it turns to ashes. It’s burned. There’s nothing there. When you say it, it is like a real rope, not burned. You give it energy, you give it power. Again when the Sage thinks of something, it is like a fan that has been pulled out of the socket. It’s still turning, but there’s no power. The power is dead. The power has been cut off. In other words, the source of a Saint is dead. The source of the Sage has no power, no power whatsoever. This is why it is said, a Sage does not think. A Sage has no thoughts. What it really means is that the Sage’s thoughts are dead.

When the thoughts are dead, you live in ABSOLUTE REALITY. You live in PURE AWARENESS. When the thoughts are dead you live in SAT-CHIT-ANANDA, in NIRVANA. So what do you have to do to also cease thinking, so the thoughts can become dead? You simply do not attach yourself to the thoughts. By not attaching yourself to the thoughts, by not reacting to the thoughts, by not responding to the thoughts, they lose their power and begin to fade away. Yet do not give them any energy. Do not give them any power. Do not say to yourself, I have to stop my thoughts. Do nothing like this. Just slow down, slow down. Let the thoughts do what they may. Allow the thoughts to go their own way. Do nothing with your thoughts. Do not think about them. Do not fight them. And above all, do not try to stop them. You may think this is so difficult, but it’s not.

It’s like when you first wake up, before the thoughts come. You’re still drowsy from sleep. And when the first thoughts come to you, you hardly pay any attention to them. That’s the attitude to have.  


 A different approach to/clarification of the practice – no need to remove thoughts

It has come to my attention that many of you are trying to stop your thoughts, control your thoughts. You cannot really do this. Trying to stop your thoughts, as Ramana Maharshi says, is like a thief becoming a policeman to catch the thief. In other words, the thief that becomes the policeman will not catch the thief, because he is the thief himself.. And so it is with our minds. When we use the mind to stop the thoughts, the mind will not stop the thoughts at all, because the mind wants to go on living.

Stopping the thoughts is annihilating the mind, and the mind does not wish to be annihilated. The mind wants to live on to fill you full of nonsense, superstitions. Therefore we do not try to stop, the thoughts. What do we really do? We do absolutely nothing. There is really nothing you have to do to make the thoughts cease. Always remember when you do things according to the Sadhanas you’ve learned, the spiritual exercise you’ve practice, the meditations, the yoga. This will make you free for a couple of moments, and then the thoughts will come back to you with full force, knocking you over. You cannot stop the mind or control the mind with spiritual practice.

Again you cause the thoughts to cease by doing absolutely nothing. By being your SELF. And all the scriptures we read, unless the mind stops spinning there will be no realization, no liberation. Only when the mind stops, the thoughts cease to be, is there liberation. Yet we use the words “to stop the mind, to stop, the thoughts”. This is sort of a misnomer. For again you have to use the mind to stop the thoughts, and the mind does not want to do this. It does not wish to cease thinking.

Yet by ceasing to think, you do acquire unalloyed happiness, infinite peace, Divine Bliss. When the thoughts do stop, these verities come forward, and you become free. You do not have to watch the thoughts, analyze the thoughts, be the witness to the thoughts, or observe the thoughts in any way whatsoever. All of these symptoms simply make the mind stronger really.

 


Ignore the thoughts completely, totally, absolutely. Again, do not fight your thoughts. Ignoring your thoughts is not fighting your thoughts. Do not try to change your thoughts. Above all do not try to stop your thoughts.


What is the best way to deal with thoughts?

 

It makes no difference if the thoughts are good or bad, they’re both impostors. In reality there are no good thoughts, there are no bad thoughts. We’re not trying to replace bad thoughts for good thoughts. We’re trying to LEAVE THE THOUGHTS ALONE. Not to do a thing about them. I want to make this perfectly clear. This is the highest way to handle your thoughts.

 

 


Do not be in conflict with your thoughts and the self. When there is no conflict there are no thoughts. Thoughts only appear because there’s conflict. By conflict I mean, you’re worrying about getting rid of your thoughts, you’re doing sadhana, meditation, pranayamas, japa. All of these things cause conflict. For aren’t you saying, “I’m doing these things to become liberated. I’m doing these things to become free.”

The reason there’s a the conflict is because you’re already free and liberated. Therefore when you give yourself the information that you have to do something to become liberated, there is immediately conflict. This is the only problem you have. It is your conflict. And this conflict comes from programming when you were a child, from samskaras, from previous existence, things that you took with you, the habits that are inside of you, that you believe you are.

This is where the conflict comes from. For it tells you, “I’m just a human being, I’m just a frail body. I have to suffer sometimes, sometimes I have to be happy.” This is all a lie. There never was a you that has to suffer. There never was a you that has to be happy.

 


Thoughts are an optical illusion:

Do not analyze what I am saying. Do not even agree with what I’m saying. Just be open. Open your heart by remaining still, silent. Allow the thoughts to come, do try not to stop them. Do not judge your thoughts, analyze your thoughts, or try to change your thoughts, or try to remove your thoughts. This will put you back in conflict with your thoughts. Do not even observe your thoughts. Do not even be the witness to your thoughts. Why? Because in reality there are no thoughts. The thoughts that you think you’re thinking, are an optical illusion. It is false imagination. Don’t you see? Everything that you’re thinking about is false. There is no thinker and there are no thoughts. So why have you been practicing all these exercises all of your life? It’s like a person in the ocean going in search for water. Awaken. Be free. Be yourself.


 

I know it’s difficult for some of you to think that you have to do absolutely nothing to become free, because you’re already free.


No thoughts can liberate you

Just the idea of wanting to awaken is a mistake. Just the feeling that I want to become awake, I want to become self-realized, I want to be liberated, is a mistake, for it’s part of the thinking process, and the thinking process can never liberate you. There are no thoughts that can liberate you. There are no emotions or feelings that can liberate you, awaken you, make you free.


 

Question: So when you say don’t think, you don’t mean stop all your thoughts. You mean stop identifying with the thoughts that are occurring.

R: Yes. Thoughts come before the thinker comes on the picture.

Question : So is there any point where they stop, where the thoughts do stop?

R: The thoughts do stop, yes, and you just act spontaneously. But they appear like thoughts, but they are no longer thoughts. For instance if I think I’m getting up off this chair, the thought had to come to me spontaneously, but that’s the end. So I’m not really thinking about getting off the chair. I just did it.

Q: That’s like the end, the duration, is no longer present. The thought arose, died, there was no concern.

R: That’s right.

Q: There is no separation between the thought and the action.

R: Exactly. It’s all one.

Q: So really what happened is you lost all sense of division like there was separate thought entities. They come, they end, another one comes, it’s just like, right?

R: There’s no beginning and no end.

Q: So actually non-duality is the real thing, even with thoughts, and what appears to appear is the I or the one concerned with the thoughts, and that’s when duality surges up.


Does a Jnani have thoughts?

Question: Robert I have a problem with this thing about thoughts, ultimately thoughts are the manifestation of the Self. I don’t know if I’m wrong but, if that’s the case the thoughts are non-dual per se. Duality comes only when there is somebody who believes they’re the thinker. So thoughts per se like in the case of the Jnani, he has thoughts but there is nobody to think about? I mean that’s the way I see it.

R: The Self is self-contained and the Self really does not manifest thoughts to begin with. Thoughts are an illusion and like you say, the Jnani does have thoughts. But the thoughts of the Jnani can only goes this far and they stop. But they do not bring on any more karma, they do not disturb the Jnani at all. They have no value whatsoever to the Jnani. The thoughts come very lightly, very slowly, they come and they go, they come and they go. There is no permanent thought. But the thoughts do not come from the Self. The Self is the Self. They appear to come from the Self. Just like the world appears, the body appears, the thoughts appear.

Therefore when you follow the I like we said in the beginning and we realize the thoughts and the body is attached to the I, when the I goes everything else goes. Thoughts go and everything goes. So don’t try to really stop your thoughts, get rid of the I that thinks the thoughts. See the difference? Whenever I tell you stop thinking, I mean catch the I that thinks. Find the source of the I that thinks. And the thoughts will stop by themselves.


Question: Robert, in several traditions I see, I think they talk about realization it comes along with the elimination of thoughts. Is that true or is the thinker which is creating that and thoughts are still happening in the Jnani? Of course I believe that thoughts are happening in the Jnani it’s just that he doesn’t identify with them or he doesn’t think? 

R: That’s true. They like bounce off. The thoughts come and disappear at the same time. They come and they’re gone, they come and they’re gone.

Q: That’s right, you don’t dwell on them do you?

R: Exactly.

Q: But the Jnani or the realized one doesn’t see them as factual things.

R: Indeed that’s right. No the thoughts are just return to nothing. They come and they melt. Like ice. They come and they melt and they go, and they come and they melt and they go.

Q: No clinging whatsoever?

R: No clinging, no attachment.

Q: So that’s what it means, elimination of thoughts?

R: Yes, you can say that. 

Q: Because actually thoughts will always happen, within the nature of things while you are living in this world.

R: It’s not like the thoughts that the average person has. The thoughts that come to me. I realize that they’re not real. So I just look at them and they go away.

Q: So they acquire a new quality?

R: They’re a different quality of thought. But you’re right as long as there’s something present, some part of the body is still present, thoughts come, but they don’t come to me. They just pass through. Like empty mind.


Do thoughts even exist?

In reality there are no thoughts. There is no one trying to stop them. There is no liberation, there is no bondage. There is nothing. You’re using the same nothing to stop your thoughts. Do nothing. Because you are nothing. Nothing plus nothing makes nothing. Can you see why I tell you to do nothing now? Because you’re using your real nature when you do nothing. YOU are your SELF YOU are the ABSOLUTE REALITY when you are NOTHING. Consequently when you are doing something to stop your thoughts, you’re fooling yourself. Nothing will ever happen. Like I say, you will acquire a little peace, that’s it. But by slowing yourself down, saying nothing, hearing nothing, doing nothing, being nothing, your thoughts will stop completely, totally absolutely. And as I mentioned before, you will feel beautiful happiness, peace of mind, bliss, you’ll be free.


Consciousness has no thoughts. (SB: But if consciousness is all there is how can thought be outside of all there is.) Thought is not outside of all there is, thought is part of the ego, part of the non-existence. Thought does not really exist. It’s like the body that doesn’t really exist. And the world does not really exist. And the mind does not really exist. And karma does not really exist. So thought does not really exist.

Q: So the motion doesn’t really exist?

R: Motion doesn’t really exist.

Q: That is why it’s an illusion. It just appears pretty real.

R: An illusion does not really exist.


What about the doer?

Question: And the difference is between those thoughts which have a claim in it and those thoughts which do not.

R: Have a claim?

Q: Yeah, those claims that I’m doing something.

R: You have to realize, “I am not the doer.” And when those thoughts come, ask yourself, “To whom do they come?” And they’ll disappear. Is that what you mean?

Q: No, because you were talking about the thoughts of a Jnani that they had different thoughts and I would take it that those thoughts don’t have any claim of doing?

R: Oh I see what you mean, right. That’s right.

Q: And other thoughts have a claim of doing.

R: Yes.

Q: So there’s a difference between those which have a claim and those which don’t.

R: A Jnani has no attachment to his thoughts whatsoever. They mean nothing, they’re valueless.


Does the ‘illusion of life’ disappear when you are self-realised?

There’s only consciousness and whatever appears in consciousness is an image…Like still life and when you realize who you are, you realize that you are the consciousness and not the still life. And the still life becomes an illusion. But it’s still there. But you’re aware that it’s not reality. You realize that everything is non reality. But it exists as an image in the Self.

Like the images in the mirror. They appear to exist. But you can’t do anything with them, because if you try to grab them you grab the mirror not the image. Consciousness is the same way. When you try to grab anything, you find it’s illusory. It doesn’t exist. Only consciousness exists.

So you ask, what about everything in the room, it appears to be real. That’s part of the dream, it’s part of the illusion. When you have a dream, you dream that everything exists, the world exists, the universe exists, people exist and you’re going through all kinds of periods, problems and delusions, but then you wake up and it’s gone. So when you wake up you laugh, for you realize it has all been a dream and only the Self exists, and you are that.


Does consciousness even exist?

Q: But when you say that consciousness exists that’s looking at it from a relative point of view. In itself consciousness doesn’t have a feeling of I exist.

R: Of course, you’re right. But to explain it you have to use some words…There is no consciousness, there is no existence, there’s no Self. So let’s keep still then.


Final ‘thoughts’!

It is the I, or the thinker, or the knower who has to be eliminated. For in reality there is absolutely nothing to know. If you are all-pervading, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, what else do you want? You’ve got everything. You are everything.

So when you try to know something, you’re making a grave mistake. This is a very important point. Remember this. In Advaita Vedanta, the knower is the last to go. What comes after the knower? Silence! There is nothing else.

 


The highest path of Jnana is no thinker left to think at all. Nobody is home. There is a total blank. There is no one around to do any thinking or preparing anything or trying to solve a problem or trying to do anything. At that stage you’re totally free.

 


 

You always have to think. Why do you have to think? You think you have to think, yet there is no thinker. You think you have to know, yet there is no knower. You think you have to be. There is no being. There just is, and you are that is-ness.

A simple and highly effective spiritual practice: self-enquiry and vipassana

water oceanic

Variations of this practice are found in both Buddhism and Vedanta, and it is so simple yet highly effective, so without further delay:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position
  2. Relax. Maybe focus on your breath, think nice thoughts, forget about your day, whatever works for you.
  3. Once relaxed allow your focus to come to your direct present experience
  4. Come into contact with your sense of ‘me’ or ‘I’. Where is this sense located? How does it feel? Perhaps it is in the head or in the chest? Perhaps it is behind the eyes?
  5. Now the important part: notice and realise that this sense of ‘me’ is seen, ie. it is an object of perception, and not ‘that which sees’, the subject, otherwise know as ‘you’.
  6. If you don’t get part (5), then think about it for a bit, as that is the key part of the practice. Please note that this is not about some philosophical notion of self or true self, so don’t worry if you don’t quite agree with the conceptual aspects of this practice. Do it anyway, as it has practical value in allowing us to break free of this parasite-of-habit, the ‘I’ or ‘me’.
  7. Rest in un-attached awareness devoid of a ‘me’.
  8. If the sense of a ‘me’ comes up again, take time to feel and get to know it, then go back to (5) – realise that this sense of ‘me’ is seen, it is an object, and so it is not ‘you’.
  9. Rest in un-attached awareness devoid of a ‘me’.
  10. As we rest here, the attachment to a ‘me’ gradually over time reduces, so this practice has an effect in both giving and strengthening insight (into no-self) and removal of the habitual tendency (vasana) to identify as a me. For more on this see here.

 

Meditation and Mindfulness: a complete guide for beginners

buddha-1349746_960_720.jpg

I was fortunate enough to learn how to meditate as a child, and, on and off,  it has been part of my life ever since. I have been meditating now for probably about 25 years, and I am convinced that this simple practice, which I will explain below, has given me an ‘unfair advantage’ in almost every aspect of my life: my ability to concentrate, understand and absorb information, in reducing mental distress and anxiety, and in my personal life and relationships too. Not that I’m perfect, and not that meditation will definitely solve all your life’s issues – that’s not what I’m saying – but I think life would have been much much more difficult for me, and for many others, without meditation and the physical, mental and spiritual benefits it brings.

I’m going to give you an outline of the practice and underlying principles of what worked (and continues to work) for me, and has also worked for many people I have shared this with.

My experience is that if you continue to meditate for 10 minutes at the same time everyday for two weeks you will start to notice significant improvements in various aspects of your life

The first time you (properly) meditate

If you have never meditated before or have never had a regular meditation practice, there’s a chance you may not enjoy it the first few times, or that you may feel it is not working for you. This is often true whenever there is an attempt to change established habitual patterns.

For example, if you eat chocolate every night then you will likely meet psychological and physical resistance when you try to stop or change this habit. Most people are addicted to doing and thinking, and meditation is a full-frontal attack on both of these, so attempts at meditation also often meet both psychological and physical resistance.

If you enter a meditation practice with your eyes wide open and actually expect to experience both of these forms of resistance, you are already well on your way to succeed. So don’t let the resistance put you off – realise that it is part of the course, and continue to persevere with the practice. It is well worth the effort.

My experience is that if you continue to meditate for 10 minutes at the same time everyday for two weeks you will start to notice significant improvements and changes in various aspects of your life – your ability to sleep, your happiness and stress levels, your relationship to food, your energy levels and your capacity for perspective and insight into everyday matters. If you continue to do this daily for 1 month, the improvements become more significant.

If you enter a meditation practice with your eyes wide open and actually expect to experience both psychological and physical resistance to the practice, you are already well on your way to succeed.

That said, not everyone is the same, and the main thing I would say is for you to try to do some kind of formal practice everyday, regardless of what it is, with the aim of physical and mental relaxation. This essentially means sitting with a straight back, relaxing your muscles, allowing your breathing to naturally slow down, and allowing your thoughts to reduce in quantity and improve in quality.

Some background about these techniques

Although I have often gone long spells without meditation, I often find myself returning to some basic techniques. When I was a young child my mother initially taught me basic pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), and then sometime after this she introduced me to a basic meditation technique. I used to do pranayama every night for 10 minutes before I went to bed and then I spent another 10 minutes meditating after that if I felt like it. At some point I also learnt some very basic yoga asanas (poses/stretches) and learnt to regulate my breathing in these poses.

In this article I’m not going to go into pranayama or yogic asanas – feel free to look these up too though if your are interested as they will likely enhance your meditation practice. But the point I want to convey is that what I learnt was very basic. Nothing fancy, no frills, no secret techniques or ritualistic initiations – just basic technique. But basic doesn’t mean ineffective. I have found that the more basic techniques are often the most powerful, at least that’s what’s worked for me. Feel free to find what works for you and let me know in the comments below if and how your experience has differed from mine – I’d love to hear from you.

It’s also worth noting that whilst my mother had a strong spiritual inclination, I was taught this method in a fairly secular context – ie. I was told that this would be good for my physical and mental wellbeing, would improve my mental clarity, etc. It was a few years later as a teenager that I came upon all the spiritual aspects of meditation and started to explore these things more, and I think that these basic techniques formed a good base and grounding from which I was able to explore more subtle aspects of life and my experience of it.

The method

There are various things you can do prior to meditation that will likely improve your meditation, which I will touch upon later on below. It is also advisable to meditate at the same location at the same time everyday in order to establish a ‘meditation habit’.

Now, without further ado, here is the basic method:

1) Posture

Sit comfortably with your back straight, either on a meditation cushion or chair, preferably with your knees lower than your hips which allows the back to naturally straighten.

Aim your gaze slightly down so that your chin is not too raised and position your head so that your nose is directly above your navel. This should allow for a straight upper part of your back.

Feel free to shuffle about your hips and roll your shoulders a few times so you feel comfortable.

Take a few deeps breaths and a few loud sighs to discharge any excess tension from the body

2) Technique

– You can meditate with your eyes open or closed, depending on what feels most comfortable for you.

– Gently allow your mind to focus on your breath and just notice the breathing. Don’t force anything, just gently direct your mind to your breathing.

– Allow you breath to naturally slow down. Don’t force anything, allow your breath to gently and naturally slow down.

– Allow yourself to feel happy and well (if you can). This is best done by relaxing and even smiling. Meditation is not meant to be a chore or hard work. So relax and enjoy. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come easy to start off – the more this is practiced, the easier it gets, and eventually it becomes second nature.

– If thoughts come, let them come. Just keep your mind on the breath which will take the energy away from the thoughts and they will naturally die down.

– If you get lost in thoughts, as you probably will from time to time (this happens to even experienced mediators all the time), then don’t worry, relax and come back to the breath.

– If you become frustrated or have some other feeling, then allow these feelings in. There is no need to forcibly push them away. Allow them to arise, and when you are ready come back to the breath.

– If you are able to do just this, then stay here, just follow the breath.

– If this is difficult for you then try one of two suggestions:

1) repeat a mantra such as the word ‘Om’ or the sound ‘Ahh’. Just repeat the work on every out-breath. This can be done by a verbal repetition out loud or an internal mental repetition. Try both and see which you feel more comfortable with. This forms an additional focus of attention and can allow for easier concentration and deepening of the meditation.

2) alternatively you can count the breaths. I recommend counting each out breath. Count a single 1 count for each breath up to 5, then for the next 5 breaths count back down to 1. If you lose your concentration or otherwise get distracted from counting breaths, then start again from 1.

Basic principles

The basic principles of this meditation are:

– relax, relax, relax

– remember to enjoy it – focus your attention but don’t stress and force it too much

– allow thoughts and sensations but don’t give them energy – instead focus on the breath.

– if there are strong thought patterns or feelings/sensations, then don’t try to fight them. Allow them to come in, be mindful of them, and when you can, come back to the breath when it feels right.

– if you lose concentration feel free to open your eyes or have a little stretch, but get back to the practice asap.

How to have a ‘better meditation session’

If you have trouble meditating, then try one or all of the following before your meditation practice:

-take a brisk walk or do some light exercise prior to meditation

-do 3-5 minute of chanting. If you don’t know what to chant, try chanting ‘Om’ or the sound ‘Ahh’ on every outbreath

-do some light stretches or a basic hatha yoga practice

-learn some basic relaxation breathing techniques or basic yogic pranayama and do these at the start of your meditation session

-do a ‘body sweep’ to consciously relax all the muscles in your body prior to meditation. Do this by allowing yourself to relax and then, starting at the top of your head, mentally go through all the parts of the body and consciously relax them. Places tension are often held are in the forehead, jaw, neck and shoulders.

Taking your practice further – spiritual enlightenment

There are many reasons people meditate – for improved mental health and intellectual functioning, for better sleep, to improve relationships, to improve problem-solving abilities, etc.

Of course there can also be a spiritual aspect to meditation. If this interests you there are many ways to take this forwards. One way is to gradually extend the meditation time to at least 30 minutes per day. Please explore this website which has many articles or attend one of my group meetings or contact me for a one to one if you wish.

Here are some other articles that may be of interest to you:

How to meditate for spiritual enlightenment

Q. How can one control the mind? Simple English please!

A meditation: how to transcend the ego in 4 steps

One size does not fit all

Remember, one size does not fit all, so try the above out, but find out what works for you. Above all, keep a regular practice, even if it is only 10 minutes per day, and listen to your heart.

Best wishes!

If enlightenment is unconditioned and causeless, then how can a ‘spiritual practice’ lead you to it?

Q. If enlightenment is unconditioned and causeless, then how can a ‘spiritual practice’ lead you to it, as all practices are in the conditioned realm of cause and effect? I’ve heard teachers (some of whom claim not to be teachers) say that Enlightenment is uncaused: it either happens or it doesn’t, and there is nothing you can do about it because there is no you anyway. Does this sound right to you?

Tom: Hi _____, thanks for your question. It depends how you use the words. I actually think the more radical expression of non-duality that you describe is incredibly potent and hits right at the nub of the matter, but that it is not for everyone, and for many it can also be detrimental, at least initially, as it can lead to a premature hopelessness and despair. I say premature, as later on this may be exactly what is needed to stop the apparent seeker in their tracks and for realisation to beautifully dawn!

Enlightenment is a conditioned event in time

Regarding enlightenment, I would not say that enlightenment is unconditioned or causeless, in fact quite the opposite, but let me first explain what I mean by the word ‘enlightenment’ in this context. Enlightenment, as I use the word, is a phenomena or event that occurs ‘within the dream’, so to speak, in which, figuratively speaking, the dream character realises they are in a dream and that they are a dream. Note that I say figuratively speaking as I am not saying that life is actually a dream, but just using a dream as an imperfect analogy.

There is a before enlightenment and after enlightenment, so it is something that occurs in time. Sure, when enlightenment happens, it is also seen that the enlightenment was always fully present the whole entire time, even when it wasn’t realised, but that is only realised after enlightenment! For me, I don’t even know when exactly my enlightenment happened, as it was a slow burn, and I only realised what had happened sometime afterwards, but even in this example, we can see there was still a before enlightenment and after enlightenment, and in this way enlightenment could still be said to have been an event, albeit one that took place over a longer time-frame.

Prior to enlightenment, Freedom or Wholeness is not realised, even though it was always present. It is this realisation I am referring to here as ‘enlightenment’. So that’s the first thing, to realise that enlightenment is a conditioned phenomenal time-bound event in which ever-present unconditioned Freedom is recognised.

So that’s the first thing, to realise that enlightenment is a conditioned phenomenal time-bound event in which ever-present unconditioned Freedom is recognised. 

All events have (apparent) causes

Once we accept this, then we can start to look to see if there are any proximate causes of enlightenment. As all phenomena (apparently) exist in a world of cause and effect, in which there is the appearance of rule and laws, such as the law of gravity and so forth, we should be able to investigate and see if there are certain factors that can increase the chances of enlightenment happening. If we can find out what these factors are, then perhaps we can increase our own chances of enlightenment, and this is where various spiritual-type practices and activities can come into play.

Isn’t this all just reinforcing the false notion of a ‘me’?

At this point in the conversation, some people counter this by saying that there is nobody here who can do any of this, that there is no ‘I’. Enlightenment either happens or it doesn’t happen, and there is nothing you can do about it because the ‘I’ that thinks it can do something is actually an illusion.

Now this is true. These statements are directly pointing at the heart of the matter, pointing out to the apparent seeker the illusion of separation.

However, does relentlessly pointing this out actually help the apparent seeker break through the veil of illusion? Well, yes, it definitely can. Simple repetitive hammering home the essential point can eventually work, which is why at the start of this response I said that this type of teaching is incredibly potent.

However it is not the only way, and sometimes it is less effective than other ways (and of course sometimes is more effective than other ways too).

If someone asked you how to play tennis, would you say there is nothing you can do to play tennis? That playing tennis will either happen or not happen as the ‘I’ that thinks it can chose to learn to play tennis is an illusion? Or would you perhaps suggest tennis lessons or something similar, as you know that in the (apparent) world of cause and effect, tennis lessons increases the chances of being able to play tennis, even though this is not guaranteed?

Enlightenment is a phenomenon like any other – it has causes and effects

You see, once you have realised that enlightenment is an event like any other, that it occurs following an apparent set of causes and conditions, some of which can be determined and modified, then we can start to see how powerful practices can be along this path.

If we find a set of factors that increases the likelihood of enlightenment occurring, then we can start to put these factors into place, just like the person who wants to play tennis can book themselves onto tennis lessons, buy a decent tennis racket and a good pair of tennis shoes, and learn the rules of the game.

When looking at more traditional teachings, sages in centuries gone past have discovered a variety of these factors that increase the likelihood of enlightenment. I discuss some of them here.

The Grand Illusion

On one hand there is no choice, there is nobody here, and all there is is Freedom – yes – and there is nothing you can do about any of this. On the other hand, there are proximate causes to enlightenment, which, from the point of the (illusory) seeker who has not realised ‘there is nobody here’, can be utilised to their advantage in seeing this.

When it is seen, then it is also seen that all practices are also part of this Grand Illusion, often, at least initially, fuelling the ‘I’ and the suffering that goes alongside it.

See also: Can you teach enlightenment?

 

 

.

 

 

Why do so many people practice self inquiry by Ramana Maharshi incorrectly?

ramana maharshi

Q. Why do so many people practice self inquiry by Ramana Maharshi incorrectly? Ramana said the question ‘who am I’ should not be asked but one should put the attention on the “I” inner feeling. Sadhu Om and Sri Muruganar confirmed that that’s the correct way to practice.

Tom: Yes, true. Perhaps it was because Ramana gave slightly different instructions to different people. For some he said to ask the question verbally, to others he said be with the feeling ‘I’, to others he simply said ‘Summa iru’ (Be still).

A common instruction he gave was to dive into the heart…Anyway, all these methods culminate in the same place, and that is the key.

A living teacher can be very useful in finding how the living teaching interacts with the living seeker.

To confuse things more, Ramana also said there is no fixed teaching, and to some he prescribed work and chores, to others meditation, and so on.

That said, here is a collection of quotes from Ramana’s teachings that I compiled that may be helpful to some, with a brief summary at the end, best wishes:

Ramana Maharshi: the path to self-realisation

Here is one possible summary of the essence of Ramana’s teachings:

Ramana Maharshi: Self-abidance, the ‘vision of God’ and the end of suffering

How to meditate for spiritual enlightenment

buddha side

Meditation can serve many purposes: increased happiness, improved concentration and academic performance, clarity and insight into everyday issues, improved health and sleep, etc. This article’s meditation will likely help with all or most of these, but the end goal is none of the above. The goal here is total freedom, enlightenment, nirvana or moksha (all are used as synonyms here). I have included some Sanskrit words in brackets in case you are interested.

Contemplate this

No object, gross or subtle, can lead to lasting fulfillment.

I recommend you contemplate deeply on this.

For most of us, after a little contemplation, this becomes obvious to us. However,we can go further: if we continue on this contemplation, we can start to realise that even seeking momentary pleasure or momentary fulfillment in objects is a cause of suffering. Subtlely,  we still believe that our fulfillment lies in obtaining contact with the objects of our desire. Subtlely, we are reinforcing the sense of ‘I’ or ‘me’, also known as the ego, and the root cause of suffering is continued.

Contemplate deeply on this.

First, that objects cannot give us lasting fulfillment. Secondly, that getting involved in the world of objects in order to be psychologically fulfilled is already the path of ignorance and suffering.

Similarly, seeking enlightenment or liberation in the world of objects or using an object such as thought as a means of enlightenment is also futile. So, what to do?

‘Look within’

When this is realised at a deeper and deeper level within ourselves, dispassion (vairagya) arises. We ‘turn away’ from worldly objects, meaning we no longer look for happiness in objects.

Remember, that experiences are also objects – they are known to us, they are felt and perceived, and they, like other objects, come and go. Peace, love, oneness – all these can be experienced, and all experiences come and go. Insight into the impermanence of phenomena leads to not clinging to such experiences. This is called ‘turning inwards’ or ‘looking within’.

The role of a formal practice

For most people, I recommend a formal practice of spending as much time as you can each day without engaging with thoughts, whilst still remaining awake and aware (ie. not in trance and not asleep).

Formal practice is useful as ignorance, or taking yourself to be a separate self, is so deeply ingrained, that even when the mind is ordinarily quiet in everyday life, it is still stained with this ignorance that is merely dormant, and so insight does not manifest (unless the seeker is especially ripe/ready). A period everyday of being away from thoughts, upon which ignorance depends, is of a great benefit and can greatly quicken the spiritual search.

Actually doing a formal practice, as opposed to simply talking about silence and so on, is one of the best ways of taking the spiritual quest out of the mind or intellect, and transforming clever concepts into genuine spiritual understanding and insight.

Not doing a spiritual practice is one of the best ways of remaining caught in the clutches of the intellect and ego for years to come. Often the mind will come up with reasons and select teachings that say no practice is required, so beware the tendency of the ego to find a way to perpetuate itself rather than foster its own demise.

Sit in a comfortable position with your back upright. This is so you don’t fall asleep and are able to maintain a serene stability of mind for an extended period of time. Having a practice in the same place and the same time of day can be a useful aid to this, as the mind becomes trained to become quiet at that time and place over time.

‘But I don’t like to meditate’

Meditation is not for everyone, and my writings are tips for you to take on board and apply to your life as you feel is best. If you don’t like meditation, then I would recommend you try some other kind of formal practice, be it chanting, yoga or mindfulness, as you see fit. Over time the idea is that these practices will calm your mind, and purify and balance your energies and you will start to be naturally drawn to a more contemplative peaceful (sattvic) practice.

‘I want to meditate but my mind is too busy’

If you feel drawn to meditation, but your mind is too noisy, then, like the example above, I would try some preliminary practices first, such as light exercise, hatha (physical) yoga, chanting or breathing exercises. Try meditation immediately after one or more of these preliminary practices and your mind should be considerably quieter.

Follow your heart and intuition and do what you feel drawn to. Allow this to be your practice as long as it feel right for you. There are no strict rules and better to follow your own genuine path (swadharma) rather than someone else’s if it doesn’t feel right.

A method of meditation

  1. Prior to meditation, start by chanting for 3-5 minutes. This cleanses the energetic system and allows for a deeper and more awake meditation.
  2. Take your time to settle down and allow the mind to become calm. I find that spending 2-3 minutes allowing myself to sit with my eyes open and take in my surroundings is helpful in transitioning between being engaged with the world to meditation.
  3. Also take time to feel the body, allowing each part of the body to be experienced, and also allow each part of the body to relax. Pay particular attention to the forehead, jaw, and shoulders, where a lot of tension is often held. If you can, energetically allow the sense of you to drop down into your chest and belly area and feel relaxed.
  4. Allow the mind to become relaxed. Take up the attitude that everything is welcome here, and allow everything to come and go. Sensations, sounds, thoughts, all can come and go. Accept what is. Allow your mind to become light, carefree and happy. Happy acceptance is the general aim, not to be a state of mind that is forced, but to be allowed to arise.
  5. Now start to withdraw your  mind. Use an anchor if required: this can be a mantra (a sound that is repeated, such as ‘Om’, which can be repeated for example on every outbreath), an object (either real external object, or better still, a visualised object), or the breath. As the meditation progresses the anchor should become gradually more subtle, so I often start with counting my breaths, then I let go of counting and just stay with the breath, then I just stay with the feeling of peace and happiness for as long as I feel until I am ready for the next step:
  6. By now the mind should be relatively quiet and also stable in that quietude. There are several options of what you can do here, and as everyone is different, the exact method will vary from person to person. Essentially, notice that even peace and quietude are subtle objects. Either let them go or be aware of them whilst simultaneously knowing they are not you and that you and ‘your bliss’ do not depend on them. Here we are getting in touch with that which is not an object, that which is ever present, that which does not come and go, that which is the nature of presence-awareness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda), that which is the essence of who you are (atman), or pure subjectivity (drik). This process of separating the perceiver/subject (drik) from that which is perceived/objects (drisya) is technically known as discrimination (viveka), or discernment.
  7. Follow your intuition. The key is to not focus on objects, not to engage with the world of objects, not to identify with the body-mind and to also question this notion of ‘I’. You can rest in I AM and eventually you will see that this I AM is also an object that appears to the ‘real I’ which is not an object. This is the approach from the ‘sat‘ (being) aspect of sat-chit-ananda (reality) Or you can let yourself be aware of awareness, that which is not an object, that which you are, and allow the brightness of awareness to vividly shine and outshine all objects, consuming all objects in its dazzling light. This is the approach from the ‘chit‘ (consciousness-awareness) aspect of reality. Or you can bathe in the happiness that arises when there is no concern for objects and deriving happiness from the myriad phenomena that rise and fall – thus approaching reality from its ‘ananda’ (blissful/happiness) aspect. A fourth method is to ask ‘Who am I’, and search for the root of the ‘I thought’, as prescribed by Ramana Maharshi, and allow this to take you to the Source, which is none other than reality itself, and abide there until all tendencies to identify as a separate ‘I’ or ‘me’ are rooted out. See here for more details on this.
  8. Note that while it is important not to ultimately get caught up in feelings of bliss and peace, or get similarly locked into a trance state, it can be of benefit to linger here for a while. Why? Because it feels good and it is purifying. The effects of lingering in peace eventually do wear off, but they still have some provisional purifying effect and have value in countering negative tendencies and bad habits/psychological states we may be prone to entering into. Eventually, when the time is right, we can let go of peace and bliss too, but no rush is needed in all this. All in good time. ‘Good things come to those who wait.’
  9. Be happy, relax, do not cling, have faith

In summary

Contemplate how all objects, gross and subtle, cannot lead to enlightenment complete, and rest in your true nature, devoid of objects and full of peace and bliss.

Establish a daily practice and do not allow reasoning from the ego to convince you otherwise. Note how the the ego may resist this. The ego is prone to selecting teachings that lead to its continuance rather than its demise.

Use preliminary techniques relating to the world, body and mind as suits your disposition and take your time. Use an anchor if required, and eventually allow this to give way to a deeper silence in which you are fully awake and aware. There is no rush and this should be enjoyable and relaxing rather than hard work.

Play the long game rather than strive for short term gains. Relax.

Allow yourself to feel any phenomena – notice they are not the essence of you, the subject. Locate the sense of ‘me’, and notice this too is an object. Rest in that ‘placeless place’ where no objects are.

Trust your intuition and be careful not to fall asleep or get (too) caught up in experiences including peace and bliss.

Best wishes to you, practice, practice, practice, and please get in touch if you feel I can be of assistance

🙏

 

 

Krishnamurti: how am I to be free, free to live happily?

 

krishnamurti

The following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 6, 1970

…the centre says to itself: how am I to be free, free to live happily, completely, openly, and act without sorrow or remorse? But it is still the centre asking the question. The centre is the past. The centre is the ‘me’ with its selfish activities which knows action only in terms of reward and punishment, achievement or failure, and its motives, causes and effects. It is caught in this chain and the chain is the centre and the prison.

There is another action which comes when there is a space without a centre, a dimension in which there is no cause and effect. From this, living is action. Here, having no centre, whatever is done is free, joyous, without pain or pleasure. This space and freedom is not a result of effort and achievement, but when the centre ends the other is.

But we will ask how can the centre end, what am I to do to end it, what disciplines, what sacrifices, what great efforts am I to make? None. Only see without choice the activities of the centre, not as an observer, not as an outsider looking inward, but just observe without the censor. Then you may say: I cannot do it, I am always looking with the eyes of the past. Be aware, then, of looking with the eyes of the past, and remain with that. Don’t try to do anything about it; be simple and know that whatever you try to do will only strengthen the centre and is a response of your own desire to escape.

So there is no escape, no effort and no despair. Then you can see the full meaning of the centre and the immense danger of it, and that is enough.

Many ways to Freedom

There are many ways that can lead an apparent individual person to freedom, a freedom that is already totally here and present and yet not always recognised or acknowledged.  There is the method of direct pointing, the path or understanding or knowledge, the path of devotion or surrender or love, the path of mindfulness, or through meditation. These are just some of the many ways, and eventually they all converge and are seen to be the same One Path (if taught correctly).

There are paths that require no belief and no faith, and others that are faith based. Some paths delve into the esoteric whereas others do not venture away from normal, direct, everyday experience. Some ways rely heavily on words, concepts and thought, (which are hopefully later dismantled) and others transmit  the teachings non-verbally.  Some (most) paths initially seem to reinforce the sense of a separate ‘I’ whereas others vehemently deny this appearance of separation from the outset.

There are countless other adjuncts that can also be useful, such as prayer, chanting, physical exercises and other ritualistic and more formal practices.

Or perhaps none of the above are required.

My view is that all these teachings and paths (including those that deny any teaching, path or way) can often play a valuable role in the journey of a seeker, and the exact shape of a seekers path varies considerably and is ultimately unique. However there are some general trends that generally apply, and understanding these tends to quicken the path as well as make it considerably easier. I summarise these trends in this article here.

In today’s spiritual market place, many teachings are available and the seeker can often find themselves somewhat confused and disillusioned with the teaching, teacher or path that was meant to lead them home, but for some reason didn’t live up to expectation. Many teachers only teach in the way that worked for them, and sometimes they denigrate other ways that are, superficially at least, contrary to what worked for them.

When I was seeking, my journey lead me to explore quite a lot of spiritual teachings, both traditional and non-traditional, and I began to see how they all potentially fitted together. I especially explored Yoga, Vedanta and Buddhist teachings, and have been studying each of these teachings for over 20 years now. My sense is this understanding of how this realisation can be shared in a number of different ways is particularly valuable in a world of plurality where seekers come from many different backgrounds with many different experiences and there are many seemingly contradictory teachings on offer. The result is the seeker is often left in confusion and perhaps even disillusionment about how to go forwards, and there is often a sense of isolation as how best to proceed.

I humbly offer you what I have learnt in order to facilitate your Jouney Back To Your-Self, to the Here/Now, in order to recognise this Freedom that already is here. My plea is that you approach what I have to offer with kindness and an open heart, be willing to look beyond the words I use and be open to what they may be pointing to, and also to be open to the non-verbal aspects of the teaching and transmission. This plea is not for my sake, but I think you will find that this open kindheartedness is a major key in unlocking the door which is always open, but apparently hides what is already fully present.

In ages gone by, as well as today, this perennial teaching has been expressed in a multiplicity of ways, and paradoxically, the most accurate verbal expression is not always the most conducive for a genuine and full transmission to occur. In fact I have found that in many cases that when a genuine realisation have been achieved, it often leads to a unique way of talking about and expressing this, a way that is not simply a parroting of myself or any other teacher, but a unique expression due to the unique body-mind it is being expressed through.

I express this Freedom in different ways at different times, and if you decide to spend time with this expression that occurs through me, I hope you will see how there is no real difference in these expressions. Seeing unity amidst this apparent diversity will surely go a long way to improving mutual respect and understanding between individuals and traditions, as well as allow the teachings to reach those whom it may not ordinarily reach.  We can also be aware of how not all teachings are equal, how some teachings are limited and even sometimes dangerous, and when certain teachings will be more effective in given circumstances.

If you feel I can be of any benefit to you, please contact me or attend one of my meetings

With best wishes

Tom