Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Step Forward

The ego is a difficult entity to control or even keep in sight at all times. Yet without that awareness, being completely true to Oneself is impossible. The ego is what separates me from my True Self and controls my body-mind-intellect complex with ease. Me - my Spirit - prefers to remain an observer when the ego is ruling. It is only when I am consciously aware of my ego that I can attempt to be true to Me. Not that the ego is always doing the wrong thing - it can be loving and kind too but it is also a show off at that time. The ego does everything to increase its own power. In that sense it is completely self absorbed.

What then is the difference between the self absorption of the ego and the Self absorption of the Spirit? The Spirit is all pervading and so It's absorption in Itself includes all - there is no hunger for power or control. That is what makes it so easy for the ego to take over. If the Spirit had wielded It's power over the ego Its purity would be lost. The Power of the Spirit lies in Its capacity to give in to the truancy of the ego and remain an impartial loving observer. Clearly that is my inherent quality and the inherent quality of all of us. We are capable of remaining loving observers of everything happening in the world. To remain in this world and express this quality I need to train my ego to be all loving and imitate my Spirit. The ego has not yet been able to identify what is in it for it! To respond with love towards the most abrasive, the most demanding, the most violent means losing the battle and the war as far as the ego is concerned. But is it?

What is fear or hatred or violence but disruptive vibrations exuded by minds? What is the best way to nullify these? More of the same can only increase the disruption. A soothing vibration is the only way to quieten a disruptive one. That is simple physics. I know that the vibration of Love is exactly the opposite of fear. Giving in to violence in love is very different from giving in to it in fear. Giving in can be my strength or it can be my weakness depending upon where the reaction is coming from. How do I know where my reaction is coming from? When it feels good - in a soft way without feeling as if I have won or lost a battle; when I feel at peace with the decision and not belittled by it - when I am left unruffled - my reaction is coming from love.

My thoughts are the easiest for me to change, my feelings are more difficult. Feelings have been established due to years of wrong thinking and the memories they have left behind. With practice I can watch over my feelings and reverse them, it only takes longer as they are deeper in my subconscious. Deeper still are my emtions - the ones I have the most trouble keeping in check. I can see that inspite of my thoughts being markedly improved and my feelings being calm my emotions do flare up leaving me wondering what more I need to do to stay focused on my True Identity.

My emotions - whether the positive ones or the negative ones can be aroused even when I am conscious of my thoughts and feelings. For example; my son called to say he had an accident. It was nothing major, the car was slightly damaged. No one was injured. I talked to him, tried to make him comfortable about the situation and bring his confidence back but I was still frustrated at his negligence and by the turn of events that led to the accident. The event had already happened, nothing untoward came out of it. I knew there was nothing I could do yet the emotions did not stay at bay. The only way to get to them, understand them, and master them is through deeper meditation. I have proof that meditation is a powerful tool that brings lasting change to the workings of the mind.

The ego is a fearful entity - it's worst fear being its own destruction. It will do whatever it takes to stay alive. Years of wrong thinking has empowered the ego. Fortunately my Spirit is unchangeable and whenever I call upon It to guide me It does so willingly. Habit has made it difficult to let It be the doer. Hours of keeping the mind in constant company of the realm of the spirit through books, the web and writing has made it possible to recognize the benefit of cultivating new thought patterns and pursuing them. Contemplation and meditation establish right thinking that changes feelings and replaces strong emotions.

I am looking forward to learning Vipassana and staying present in the world and not giving in to everyday temptations that enhance the power of the ego. Staying ever watchful is the journey and it is outrageously beautiful.

Friday, December 18, 2009

From Silence to Stability

Stability is considered a negative in the world of economics - it means absence of growth they say. In the world of the Spirit though Stability is an essential aspect of growth. A stable mind makes it possible to go deeper and discover one's True Self - the one that is the Ultimate, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent entity that defines us all.

What is Stability of mind and how does one achieve it? A stable mind is simply one that does not react either positively or negatively to any stimulus. It accepts every thought, event, person with complete equanimity. To achieve this state there has to be an understanding that the world at large is only an illusion and transient. To get to this stage one only need study everything that has ever happened and recognize the truth of this. This must be done with an open mind and the results that come out of the observations depends on the stage of stability that a person is at. Each of us is always right no matter what the conclusion since it is a subjective exercise.

Over the years my observation has changed. At first stability of the mind was only a myth and something that was a theory found in books. Completely unachievable - an Utopian idea. I even thought it was a form of escapism. Then it seemed possible under certain circumstances - like in lives of monks who have secluded themselves and do not have to deal with the vagaries of life. With time I began to acknowledge that after about the age of eighty and living a life full of peaks and valleys some people may be able to achieve this state. Now I know that this stability is available to anyone who chooses to have it. As a matter of fact the earlier one achieves it the more blissful life becomes. Living harmoniously is only possible when the mind is unruffled.

Our mind-body complex is the greatest deterrent to our spiritual progress. The senses tempt the mind and easily take control of it. The mind begins to identify with the sensual pleasures and is blinded by this identity. The egocentric thoughts only get stronger and have a powerful hold over the mind. Things, people, events become all important and the capacity to discern the real from the illusory is completely lost. It is not as if the mind is incapable of understanding this difference it just refuses to understand it because it has so much fun being out in the illusory world. Pleasure is to be had even in pain. We repeat our painful stories to others and more often than that to ourselves. We relive sad events of our lives and keep them alive even when the event itself is past. How masochistic is that? Nothing is gained by holding on to pain - except that the ego is sure of not getting overpowered by the Spirit. The reign of the ego is threatened when we bring ourselves into the present moment every moment and accept all that has passed and do not focus on the imaginary future.

My father passed away when I was a teenager. I love my father as much today as I loved him then - love does not require him to be present in my life if it is unconditional. When my love wants my father physically present it proves that mine is a conditional love - it is conditional upon he being alive. Reliving his death and causing myself pain, reliving the fun moments and bringing pleasure both cause my mind to become unstable. One is not better than the other. Memories need not be lost but I cannot give all of my power to my memories. I can think of my father and feel the love that I feel when I look upon a rose bush in my garden or a grand old oak tree in the park or a hare hopping across the walkway into the woods or a dead deer as it lies beside the roadway - since all of it is just an illusion.

It has taken me many hours of silent contemplation and meditation to tap into this knowing. Many of life's experiences had overpowered me too. I could not see the folly in getting involved and enmeshed in the drama of life for as long as I was living as if I belonged to this world. Then a few major incidents of the world made me stop in my tracks. A dear friend gave up on our friendship. I had not foreseen this. I was sure that the friendship had a strong base as it was founded on spiritual likeness between us. This was the second time such an event has happened in my life - a person I thought touched my soul gave up on the joint pursuit of spiritual growth. Another was the fallout of an enterprise that I had undertaken with someone I considered like minded. It ended with me feeling that every intention of mine was misconstrued. Then there was an event that made me feel mistrusted and disrespected by someone very close to my heart. With all of these events the common factor was me. It made me think that there was something about me that caused me to feel betrayed, misunderstood, disrespected. The mind loves to lay blame and take me on guilt trips as this only strengthens the ego.

I spent hours contemplating over this - not on the events themselves - but on my feelings and thoughts. I prayed fervently that I see the light and then one night as I sat in silent meditation I 'heard' it. I had lost control over my mind. It was the instability of the mind that made it appear like all of this was about me. It was not. With every event and every person I had been true to myself. I was being me. How someone else saw me was independent of me. How then was I betrayed, misunderstood or disrespected? Why does it matter how they looked upon me when I know that I was true to my nature? I am perfect as I am - a child of God just like those who judge me. They are and I am. That is the only truth. My perception of their judgment of me is just as immaterial as their judgment of me - both are unreal and independent of the Ultimate Truth that is unchangeable. I love all of my judges and thank them for being my teachers on my journey to finding this beautiful Child of God.

I have taken a long step towards knowing me better. The drama is fun to watch. I can play life as I watch it for as long as I do not become attached to my role in it. I am an actor with a beautiful costume, expensive jewelry, state of the art make-up - but even more fun is knowing that my part in this drama is all a game and when one game is over I can go to the next with a new set of costumes completely unaffected by my previous role. That is the strength of my very soul. I have identified the essential Truth - the Knowing, Pure, Loving, Peaceful, Happy, Strong, Powerful Me. This identity brings Stability of the mind and makes it possible to be in this world and not become part of it. Spectating life is truly blissful.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All of Me

I have a hidden dark side too. The one that is capable of anger, lies, hatred, jealousy, fear, and many other emotions that are available to mankind. Yes I am capable of all that, given the right set of circumstances. What a shocker. Here I was thinking I am this perfect Bliss and Joy and then I was prompted to ask if I could experience anger or frustration again. At first I laughed and said, "No way." I know now that I have control over my mind and I can choose to think positive even if things are not going the way I wish. Life is not about me and my wants and desires. There are so many justifications for not falling into negative thought processes. But this was not how I always was - this is a learned quality and so it is only a part of who I am at my core. I cannot deny the other side of me. In the privacy of my home I do get angry and frustrated and downright bitchy.

My fear now is not that others will not approve of me but that I have an ego that will take me away from my path to spiritual oneness with all. My fear is that I will be the one who judges and separates others from me. My ego and I are still struggling with the idea of who I really am. I am not my body, mind and intellect. Body, mind and intellect are mine. It is like me identifying myself as the clothes I wear instead of identifying that the body is wearing the clothes. This shift in consciousness is difficult to hold on to without daily practice. I 'know' that this body-mind-intellect is a sheath and that the divinity I am is who I really am but without that vision constantly in my experience it is difficult to stay focused.

I am neither positive nor negative - these words describe my thoughts. These thoughts are definitely influencing my behavior but do not define the Me that is Pure Consciousness. It means that Joy and Anger co-exist in my mind and that they both deserve to be embraced. As long as I see these emotions as separate and different from one another I see me and others as different too. I may be less angry today because I see the folly of anger but it is still a part of my psyche. I still enjoy being joyful more than I enjoy being angry or sad. This degree of more and less is a figment of my imagination. Stability of the mind is the order of the day and I must learn to recognize that both are emotions and both are part of the same spectrum and neither can have a lasting effect on me. What lasts is my equanimity because at any given moment everything is stable and eternal. The off and on of this field of vibration that is the world is eternal and completely unaffected by my ups and downs of emotions. My perception is what makes things appear up and down, good and bad, right and wrong. Up, down, good, bad, right, wrong all bring their gifts with them. All I have to do is open myself up to the gifts and receive them with equanimity.

Debbie Ford's books are an eye opener into the darker side of me. Even if I cannot associate my present behaviors with emotions like anger, jealousy, spite and revenge what is to say they were not part of me in the past and will not be part of me if the circumstances are conducive? An interesting concept to say the least. Acquired qualities that I may have hidden are still mine. My conscious recognition of these emotions and of negative thoughts are necessary for me to be able to acknowledge and accept them. I must reconcile myself to the absolute fact that I am made of every possible emotion, thought and feeling that is - how else can I claim to be One with all. If I separate the bad from the good then I must separate me from the others - there can never be separation where there is Oneness - and Oneness is Real, separation a dream.

I am a peaceful, loving, blissful soul but I am also a violent, hating, indifferent, mean, sad soul. One is not better than the other - they belong together and must be accepted as is. I AM. There are no conditions to it. You too ARE - no conditions. I not only have to be able to see this, acknowledge this and accept this - I must also LOVE this. I can only BE if and when I am complete. I live in the world of duality and have learned to differentiate good from bad, right from wrong but that is not how it is. Everything just is - no labels no qualitative differences allowed.

So who am I? I am a Perfect Soul. I have permission to have all emotions, all feelings, all thoughts and they are all perfect too. So I am Joyful, Blissful, Loving, Sorrowful, Angry, Jealous, Kind, Mean, Sweet, Bitchy, and whatever else I and you can possibly be capable of - infinite and eternal. I AM ME.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Relationship with Me

Now that life is no longer about the approval of those around me I am beginning to understand the tenets of relationships clearly. The one and only relationship that is of any value is the one with my True Self. All other relationships are based on values that are mutually workable for those within the relationship. The relationship with myself though is based only on Truth. Truth about the inherent Me and all other beings. The vibration that makes me and every being around me tick. The vibration I put out there is the vibration reflected back at me.

This is a beautiful revelation. This morning I had the opportunity to deal with a few people and found out the joy that comes out of being in the presence of Oneness. I was dealing with a government official who looked quite grumpy when I got to his counter. He was short in his greeting and demanding and demeaning in his tone. I was determined to treat him with the softness and respect I expected from him and so I smiled and spoke softly, gently, with love, and without fear. The man seemed to change in an instant to a benevolent helpful gentleman. It was amazing because the moment my aggressive husband spoke to him the man's demeanor changed and the moment I spoke he softened again. It was as if magic dust was in the air. I love it.

Well it is easier to do with strangers, though, than it is with some people I know. I need to consciously make an effort with them. In these relationships there seem to be too many conditions already in place and changing this will take effort - from my end. Every established relationship outside the one with myself has two major conditions - trust and respect. In all aspects of my relationships with family and friends these two factors are always at play. The moral fabric is what the trust is based on. This could be about speaking the truth, being faithful, about money or any aspect that is important to the relationship. Unless there is complete trust it is impossible to develop respect and without mutual respect a relationship can never be sound. The ups and downs of relationships are conditional upon the trust the two people involved have in all aspects of a relationship.

In a marriage both partners must be true to themselves and with each other. There must be set rules between them about how they will deal with different issues like children, finances, extended family and friends, career, home, religion and more. These rules need not be set in stone but a change in rules must require mutual discussions and consent. A marriage requires a 100 to 100 partnership - both partners giving a 100% of themselves to the relationship. One does not dominate the other, one does not lead the other by a leash. Each partner has their responsibilities for the purpose of convenience and there can and will be crossovers in responsibilities. Spouses can have disagreements and yet have a relationship that only grows in love and respect if only they treat each other the way they would want to be treated by the other. Needling each another, insulting each another, ridiculing each other, being condescending and controlling each other can only end up in a parting of ways. A tragedy that can only be avoided if each is willing to get into the mind of the other and feel their pain, their joy and their love and be willing to trust and respect their feelings. Each partner must be True to themselves, be an embodiment of Love and be fearless of one another, for a marriage to be heavenly. Both have to accept that they are One with the Universe and therefore absolute Bliss is possible between them no matter how different each is in the physical realm.

Between a parent and an adult child too mutual trust and respect is paramount. Unless I can trust and respect my child I cannot expect to be trusted and respected. This trust is not determined by social norms - this trust is about my treatment of my child as an independent individual with a mind of his own. My child is One with the Universe like I am - his beliefs and ways may be different - but his Truth and my Truth is the same and therefore I trust and respect him both as an individual and as a part of the Universal fabric. We do not have to agree about anything and yet the Love we share is comparable to the bliss that I have within the relationship I have with myself.

In a relationship with the Self all that is needed is the acknowledgment that this relationship is unconditional. Truth is not a condition - it is the relationship. My relationship with myself is the fabric of my happiness. When I am true to myself I am happy. My truth may not make anyone else happy but that is immaterial - since the only one that I have to live with till the end of time is myself. Marriages and other relationships may be 'made in heaven' but to keep them heavenly requires effort. My relationship with Me is effortless, personal and absolutely blissful. To hell with the rest of you. Take me as I am or leave me to myself - I ain't compromising anymore. Naive, stupid, too kind, gullible, obese, a snob, spendthrift, stingy, intimidating, any other words that describe me in your vocabulary? Use them if you will - I know I am none of those things - I am what makes me tick - I am Silence, Love, Abundance, Joy, Bliss, Truth, GOD. I am ME.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From Pain to Humility

The path traversed respecting the human side of me has often times been one filled with pain, hurt, anger, confusion and a sense of wonderment at what life is about. I have always been aware that these experiences were superficial, transient ones but I could not see anything deeper. Life was about everyday stuff - home, family, money, work, friends, things, relationships and more. I was sometimes joyful, sometimes not. I never went out consciously looking for joy or sorrow - they just happened to me. Even in joy there was fear of it not lasting long enough. Life just happened. My mind was my master and I was it's dog on a leash. I went wherever it took me.

Painful life experiences never shook me up deeply. There was a sense of resigned acceptance that life was about unpredictable pain filled events I had to experience in the span of time spent here on earth. I had not asked to be born - I was given birth to. Now I was left to fend to unpredictable life experiences - how unfair is that? Happiness was a myth and so I just sailed along letting experiences happen to me.

This insensitive, unintelligent, and disconnected way of living made it possible for people, events and things to dominate my existence. The more I let them rule over me the more powerless I became. The inherent nature of my being never got the chance to express it's glory. Over the years of living this way I felt myself getting depleted of my confidence, self respect and self esteem. I became adept at hiding these shortages but deep within me I knew I was degrading rapidly. Unbeknown to me this journey was also revealing the true secrets of happiness to me.

Many a times when one is cornered a sense of desperation makes one do something that is apparently uncharacteristic to break out of the dark into the light. I found myself cornered by my own life choices and to escape that wretched place I reverted back to one of my most loved activities - reading. Fiction is what I started with and insidiously moved towards self improvement and eventually into the realm of Spirituality. Words of some great Western Spiritual Teachers opened up a new world to me. They spoke in a language I understood. The Hindu Scriptures are rich but they are in a language that does not penetrate my being. Even the translations in English are too flowery for my understanding. The English language has the capacity to express the most complicated concepts in the simplest terms. The Spiritual Teachers of today have used the language beautifully. Once these terms began to make sense my life experiences became my most revered teacher. The tenets of any Scripture whether from the East or the West are inherently ageless and come from the same Source and so the Gate to Heaven opened wide.

Today I no longer believe that life happens to me - life now happens for me. I was not given birth to - I was given birth for.... My true purpose is clear now that I recognize this. To have this human form gives me the opportunity to experience my divinity. My place in this world is to love myself and others unconditionally. This requires me to be completely void of ego. It means being humble.

True humility frees me from focusing on me, whereas a low self-opinion tended to focus my attention on myself. My pain, my hurt, my anger is now surrendered to God and all my attention is on the Omnipresent. Petty things, ideas, words do not have room in my thoughts but more importantly petty words and ideas thrown out at me ricochet away from me. This requires my concentrated effort since I am habituated to let it affect me adversely. Today I recognize that it is upto me to keep my thoughts only on the Omnipresent even within the pettiness and it passes without causing ripples. This surrendering is what keeps me humble without being humiliated. It is this humility that takes me away from pride and despair and lets me be me. Who cares what anyone else thinks of me? Their opinions never did and never can define me.

I am learning to say 'Thank you' to pettiness and to pain and surrendering my ego to thoughts about the Love of God - the Omnipresent impersonal God that is humble enough to forgive all my trespasses and lead me gently and lovingly to my own Divinity. All I do is offer myself in humility and release myself from the bonds of pain.