Letting go of Liberation

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It usually starts off with a ‘me’ or ‘I’ wanting to be happy.

If ‘I’ meditate ‘I’ will become happy or enlightened. If ‘I’ do the right practices, listen to the right teachers, read the right books, etc…’I’ will become liberated.

Here there is the triad of the ‘I’, the desire, and the desired object (that will bring the desired lasting happiness). All of these three are mental projections. Contemplate on this. Each one of the three: the me-subject, the desire, and desired object, are all mental projections.

Though almost everyone inevitably comes to spirituality and nonduality in this way, a true teaching encourages or facilitates a deep letting go, in which all our concepts of attainment (desired objects) and ‘me’ (conceptual subject) are let go of and ultimately lost.

This is the liberation that we were looking for, and it is never found by the me, and cannot be put into words.

Its depth is profound, as is its superficiality and obviousness. It is always here, as it were, as it is simply everything and all-inclusive.

There is no concept of freedom or bondage here, for both these are projections of the ‘I’, itself a projection. Or, if these concepts are here, they are not clung onto and taken seriously.

We could put it like this:
We start off as ‘I want to be happy/realised/free/enlightened’.
Later on it is seen more like: ‘no-I…only freedom…simply this’.

Now this too is liable to be made into a concept and grasped by the mind.

My advice is to listen and absorb and think about what is written above, so it is understood on a conceptual level initially by the mind. Ask questions if you need to and allow a teacher/teaching to resolve any major doubts (in Sanskrit: sravana and manana or listening and reflecting).

Then, once contemplated and understood, to let go and forget everything. Allow all notions and ideas of self and liberation to fall away. (in Sanskrit: nididhyasana or meditation/actualisation)

Perhaps sit still with a straight back, and after some chanting and simple deep breathing exercises to calm the energies, let go and simply relax. Maybe follow the breath (my preference) or use a mantra to allow the mind to become calm, then let go of these practices too.

Allow thoughts to settle down and do as they please.

Relax. Let go. Breathe. Be happy.

Allow everything to be as it is.

Notice awareness is untouched by everything and is one with everything, and you are that awareness.

Let go of all distinctions.

Notice that which was thought of as being ‘I’ or ‘me’ is actually just empty, objects on a screen, a play of colourful light and shadow, insubstantial.

The body and mind that were formally taken to be you, are just objects arising and not you at all.

Every-thing is like this, empty and formless, a play of awareness.

Don’t make this into a concept, but in letting go, let go of these phrases and allow a deep seeing to arise in its own time by itself.

Insight and clarity will naturally arise, naturally and spontaneously, in the depths of silence. There is no need to believe the teachings. Intend for any realisation to be genuine and not a mere copy of my or someone else’s words.

All insights too are just a play of Oneness, worthless and wonderful, just like everything else. Allow them to come and go in your Light.

In the midst of daily life allow yourself to meet life fully with the insight-intelligence that has been gained. This is just a letting go of the triad of me, desire and desired amidst daily living. (this is still nididhyasana)

Where there are no operative thoughts (in Sanskrit: samadhi), where are you? Where am I? Where is this precious teaching? Where is this bondage? Where is this liberation?

This cannot be put into words, but for some reason, right now, I am moved to express it like this: total peace, only peace, everything is peace, totally unattached yet excluding nothing. The illusory me not in play, plunged into the depths of stillness, one with everything. Pure innocence, total naivety, suffused with natural innate intelligence, natural, raw, ordinary, all-inclusive, no thing and simply this.

Yes, this really cannot be put into words. Re-reading the above paragraph is like reading the poetic rantings of an infatuated dog! Don’t be fooled by poetic sounding verbal expressions, no matter how nice or right they seem. It is all more illusion. Don’t get (too) involved in the poetry and words! They are a breeding ground for ego. Much better to let go of concepts, be still and be happy: allow all illusions and projections to fall away and see for yourself.

In Peace, Love and Light

 

 

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Q: I never get it when you say ‘be still’

Question: Tom, I never get it when you say ‘be still’. In my experience there is a contradiction between ‘Allow things to be as they are: No need to suppress or control.’ and ‘disengaging from thoughts’ because when I cease controlling, my mind just wonders so much. I definitely won’t detach from my thoughts by relaxing or even by any other means.

Tom: Yes, good point. When you set aside time to practice this you will naturally stumble upon that balance between not controlling/allowing and yet not engaging in thoughts. The secret is to practice again and again.

Q: So the technique is to be aware of thoughts but not get engaged? Then when you get caught up in thoughts, just return to watching them?

Tom: Yes. But no need to watch the thoughts… See here for more: How to meditate for spiritual enlightenment

Q. What is the best posture to meditate in?

frog meditate

Of course the best position varies from person to person – you can meditate standing, walking, sitting, lying…perhaps some other postures too!

Generally, for sitting meditation, any position that is comfortable for you that allows you to adopt a straight back is good. Generally means having your knees being below the level of your hips, so either sitting with your knees low or sitting on a cushion of some kind to raise the hips

Happy sitting!

🙏

Q. If truth is always present and available, what prevents someone from seeing it?

veil maya illusion sari hindu india

Q. If truth is always present and available, what prevents someone from seeing it?

Tom: Pre-occupation with and belief in the content of thought.

Q. How can I drop all this activity and take that leap of faith?

Tom: Ignore your thoughts.

Q. How long should I ignore my thoughts for? What if I do it for a few days and nothing has happened?

Tom: This is also a thought.

Q. Is it possible to live whilst ignoring thoughts in a modern urban lifestyle?

Tom: Yes. The body-mind will take care of itself. Notice how thought is trying to prevent you from ignoring it, how it is throwing up various fears. Ignore all this.

Q. Thank you so much for holding me when I feel like collapsing 🙏

Tom: It’s my pleasure, I am humbled by your gratitude. Best wishes to you 🙏

 

Also see Nisargadatta Maharaj: Ignore your thoughts

 

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!

Meditation and Mindfulness: a complete guide for beginners

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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!

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

 

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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

 

 

 

Satsang at the Druids Head Pub, Kingston upon Thames, London

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I’m lucky enough to hold satsang at an amazing venue – The Druids Head.

The room we meet in is about 300 years old and is often visited by historical tour groups to observe its original features, including a poem scratched on a glass cabinet panel by Jerome K Jerome.

Below is a picture from 1846 of an annual ‘Foot Ball’ match that used to be played every shrove Tuesday just outside the Druids head in the Ancient Market Place, Kingston upon Thames.

So we meet regularly on Thursdays at 7pm, the next meeting is this week. Please do come along if you feel inclined to. Register at this link to join:

www.meetup.com/Non-duality-Kingston-London

Best wishes

Tom

Krishnamurti: the ending of sorrow is love

Continuing the series of Krishnamurti posts this week, the following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 4, 1969:

Desire and pleasure end in sorrow; and love has no sorrow.

What has sorrow is thought – thought which gives continuity to pleasure. Thought nourishes pleasure, giving strength to it. Thought is everlastingly seeking pleasure, and so inviting pain.

The virtue which thought cultivates is the way of pleasure and in it there is effort and achievement.

The flowering of goodness is not in the soil of thought but in freedom from sorrow.

The ending of sorrow is love.