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.

 

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Practicing knowledge

This is continued from a previous post Problems with utilising conceptual tools:

Practicing knowledge

This brings us to the idea of practicing knowledge. Just to be clear, the knowledge we are talking of here is in the form of concepts, as described previously above. In this case whenever we notice ourselves suffering, we notice it is because we have identified as being the doer/body-mind. We then take up the sword of knowledge ‘I am not the body’ and use it to slay the ignorance ‘I am the body’.

Other similar ideas are concepts of identifying as being the witness or identifying as consciousness or considering the world and body-mind to be an illusion. These concepts all which work in a similar way to negate the identification as the doer/body-mind. Here’s an example from Yoga Vasisthta:

You are bound firmly on all sides by the idea, I am the body’. Cut that bond by the sword of knowledge ‘I am Consciousness’ and be happy.
Yoga Vasisthta

Whenever ignorance rises, we cut it down. When it doesn’t rise, we can leave it alone. Initially we may have to repeat the phrase ‘I am not the body’ or ‘I am Consciousness’ or ‘I am Brahman’ in our heads repeatedly, like a mantra, until it sinks in, but after sometime it is ingrained into us and we only unsheathe the sword when it is required.

To be continued in a future post: Discarding knowledge as ignorance

Not mine

nataraj.png

Nothing is mine.
I did not create
This world,
This body,
Or this mind,
With its thoughts.

They were all given to me.
Yes – even my thoughts were given to me.

None of it has anything to do with me.

Then I look at the ‘me’:
There is no me.
Only this,
None of it mine,
All of it moving.

Roadmap to enlightenment: a (fairly) comprehensive guide to spiritual practices

This is one of the most important posts I have written – it condenses years of spiritual seeking which has involved exploring dozens of spiritual teachings, reading hundreds of books and texts from spiritual teachers and spiritual traditions across the world, undergoing all sorts of spiritual practices and meditations over the years, entering samadhi’s and experiencing visions of infinite oneness, and a genuine realisation of the Freedom-that-already-is.

The aim of the post is to guide you to a Freedom beyond words, but also stay concise. For all those people who have asked me: ‘That’s all very well but how do I actually become enlightened? How can we free ourselves from suffering? What do we do?’, this is for you, and others like you.

Continue reading

Zen Teachings: The Four Kinds of Spiritual People

buddha silver

“There are four kinds of people who study.
The highest are those with practice, with understanding, and with realization.
Next are those with understanding, and with realization but without practice.
Next are those with practice and understanding but without realization.
Lowest are those with practice, but without understanding or realization.”

Zen Dawn, J. C. Cleary

Practice, understanding and realisation are all important, but we can deduce from the quote above that of these realisation is the most important. Next in importance is understanding, and least important is practice.

How can this be? How can understanding be more important than practice? Isn’t it often said that an drop of practice is worth an ocean of theory?
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Dalai Lama: end suffering by developing insight

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The following excerpt is taken from the book “How to see yourself as you really are” by the Dalai Lama:

What makes all this trouble in the world? Our own counterproductive emotions. Once they are generated, they harm us both superficially and deeply. These afflictive emotions accomplish nothing but trouble from beginning to end. If we tried to counteract each and every one individually, we would find ourselves in an endless struggle. So what is the root cause of afflictive emotions that we can address more fruitfully? Continue reading