Archive for the ‘States of consciousness’ Category

A matter of perspective

Some spiritual teachers claim that the path to enlightenment is long, arduous, and challenging. It requires great personal sacrifice.

Others claim that no path is necessary at all. That’s because you are already there. They reiterate that only a slight shift in awareness to the “ever present now” is all that is needed.

So which viewpoint is correct? Does enlightenment require years of meditation practice and tapas (penance, physical austerities), or none at all?

Let’s explore this a bit further …

§§

Minutes after I was born my father gave me the name Nizhoni, which means beautiful. It is an appropriate name for a young Navajo girl like me.

Although outsiders know us as the Navajo, we refer to ourselves as the Dine, or Children of the Holy People. Other Indian tribes consider our home in this rocky desert to be too demanding, but we have flourished here for hundreds of years. When I look at the surrounding majestic rock canyons, the mountains and buttes, I’m in awe at the grandeur of this landscape and give thanks to the Great Spirit.

At a young age I worked with my Mother on daily chores to help keep the family feed and clothed. Our major staple is corn (naadaa) but we supplement that with wild plants and game. When the Spanish explores arrived here 100 summers ago they introduced us to sheep; so mutton is now also a part of our diet.

I grew up like most girls in our village, except for the fact that my grandfather was the tribe Shaman. He often wanted to teach me such things but I was never interested. Instead, I prefer the wind in my hair and the warm sun on my face in this real world.

At age 18 I was married to Toh Yah. He is a strong man with a good hunting eye for game. He learned tracking skills at an early age and often accompanied the elders on extended period hunts. When I was near him he smelled masculine. He always made me feel safe. Later when we had children he took keen interest in our three sons and always gave due notice to our daughter.

I love a gentle caress from my husband, and seeing my children at play.

In this harsh desert climate it’s hard to keep your hair looking good, but I try my best. I often spend time making nice clothes and gathering eucalyptus to use as a perfume. Although my ancestors wore deerskin, hip-leggings and moccasins, today we also wear woven cloth and colorful small blankets laced together – but leaving room for our hands (i.e., like a poncho).

As the years passed I watched my children grow and have families of their own. We didn’t stray very far from the canyon lands where I lived. We traded with other tribes and the Mexicans from the South. After Toh Yah passed I am ready to follow.

§§

In 1850 my family moved from Ireland to Chicago to escape the great famine. For some unknown reason one of our main food staples, the potato, was savaged by the blight. People were starving to death by the hundreds of thousands.

I was born in the Windy City in 1870, and joined my clan of four other brothers and three sisters. My name is Jason. My parents raised us as Protestant, and following that strict work ethic I found my first job at the mill when I was but 14 years old.

When I was eighteen I placed our King James Version of the bible on the kitchen table, along with two other versions. I read the same verse in all three. The words conveyed somewhat different meanings.

Is this why people point to the Bible in support of their own personal opinion? Do we interpret verses to suit our own needs and justifications?

After comparing many other verses I started to question the authenticity of the Protestant text. Was this truly the word of God, or a human manuscripted interpretation?

Is there such a thing as “the word of God?”

I did some research at the library and learned that the Bible as we know it today was largely put together at the Council of Nicea, in 325 AD. Books such as the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene were left out. Many other stories about Jesus were omitted. Some say that during his missing years (age 12 – 30) Jesus traveled in the East. I guess that today’s Christianity was sculptured more by the apostle Paul, than anyone else.

In 553 AD the Roman Emperor Justinian convened the Second Synod to remove the many references to reincarnation espoused in the Bible. That’s because his wife was an ex-prostitute and concerned that if reincarnation were true, she would have to atone for her actions in many future lifetimes.

So I was a Protestant by birth, but left the religion when I reached the age of reason.

In September of 1893, when I was 23 years old, my true spiritual education and quest began. That month spiritual luminaries from around the world gathered in Chicago for the World’s Parliament of Religions.

Worlds Parliament of Religions - Chicago 1893

I heard many speakers but the words of Swami Vivekananda struck a resounding chord in my soul (http://meditationandspiritualgrowth.com/?p=1529). By some stroke of luck (or was it my karma) I heard that the Swami was staying with a family near the outskirts of town. I went to the house and was invited in. The Swami was in the living room speaking to other people. I sat down to listen and asked some questions. His eyes were alive and a heightened sense of serenity pervaded the room. That evening he initiated me into meditation. I have been practicing meditation ever since.

The following year I visited the Swami in New York City, around the time that he established the Vedanta Society. In June of 1895 I sat at his feet as a disciple for two months, at the Thousand Island Park in New York. When he traveled back to Sri Lanka in 1897 I was but one of many followers who accompanied him. When I learned of his passing in July 1902, my heart was broken, but I vowed to continue on in my quest.

In all, I was able to practice meditation for over 40-years before lying on my death bed. I was disappointed that I had not reached the exalted state of enlightenment, but looking back I marveled at the progress I had made. My mind was now blissfully silent and no longer mired in random thoughts. Peace and serenity was upon my face.

§§

My name is Isabella and I remember taking lovely summer vacation trips with my family to Playa de Las Canteras, and the other Spanish beaches. As a young girl I also enjoyed the sun, sand, and my friends.

I am the first child of four, and therefore my parents had high expectations for me. At the very young age of five I was enrolled in Suzuki violin school. I studied hard and gave several performances, but I was not going to be a virtuoso. That was not part of my DNA.

When I was eight years old my elementary school teacher called my parents for a conference. Mrs. Pérez told them that I was an extremely bright student, kind, and loved by my fellow classmates, but that I seemed to be engaged excessively in day dreaming during class. Mrs. Pérez said this was a problem that needed to be addressed. So she gave my father the name of a psychiatrist for me to visit.

I told them all that I would get lost, while spontaneously experiencing inner silence. It was as if my senses had shut down and there was no input from the outer world. My mind was awake inside and I felt that time was suspended. Then I would snap out of it and hear Mrs. Pérez talking at the front of the class.

The doctors didn’t know what to do. They told my parents not to worry because I would outgrow it.

At the age of twelve I started playing soccer with our middle school team. My father was an avid player himself when he was younger, so he accompanied me to all my games. He liked to also serve as an assistant coach, always eager to give me pointers to help my game. Since all four of us kids turned out to be daughters, I guess that I was the son he never had. Although I didn’t like the idea that there had to be a winner and a looser, rough and tumble sports were OK with me.

During the summer of 1961 we traveled overseas for the very first time to the Big Apple, New York City. We visited Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Radio City Music Hall. When we took a walk at the Thousand Island Park, I suddenly felt very strange. While strolling down Garden Avenue I realized that I had been here before. A left turn on Rainbow Street, all the way down to the end where it intersects the junction between Prospect Avenue, Sunset and Coast; and then forward to Grenell. Later on Eden Street I found the house of silence and peace.

My parents were not avid Church goers, but we made our rounds during the Christmas holiday anyway. They did not believe in that kind of stuff, but they showed up more as an insurance policy. Just in case there was some truth to it, they wanted to be certain that they had good credentials to get thru the pearly gates. As for me, I don’t know if the Good Book and its stories are true or not, but in any event I believe in helping everyone out and sharing love whenever possible. We are all connected to each other. The words “conflict” and “hate” were never in my vocabulary.

At night during sleep I seemed to dream a lot more that my sisters. They could hardly remember anything. But for me, I seemed to remember dreaming most every night.

I often dreamt about flying like a bird over the majestic countryside. Below me were rolling hills covered in lush verdure and tall trees. Small cities and large cities would past under my sight. And occasionally I would fly up high and see the Moon under my wings.

Once I was a soldier fighting the Moors who invaded my country. Once I lived in England and was an attendant to a Duke and Dutchess. I was a farmer, and a mountain man. I was a blacksmith’s daughters, and a gypsy girl. I was an Indian girl named Nizhoni living with my family in the American Southwest. I often dreamt of different people and different places. It was all soothing and peaceful.

I quickly learned that life often gives you the exam before the training lesson. We may call that learning by trial and error, or just gaining experience and becoming wiser over time. But either way, it seemed to me that a better way was needed. We do need to stand up after we fall down. But is this the school of hard knocks, or is there a better way?

I graduated from college and started my newfound career in marketing. It was exciting to work in the big city and I made many new friends at the office.

For lunch I often went outside to site on the bench in the sun. But something startling happened one day. I was lost again in that inner silence, but when I came out of it the world was unlike anything I had experienced before. Although my eyes were open and I saw people walking and I heard the sounds of car traffic, that inner silence did not go away. Now I was that silence, looking out at the world, at my own body and mind, as a spectator.

The experience is oh so blissful. I’m wide awake and witnessing activity along with silence. What is this? How did this happen? What does this all mean?

I spent the next few months enjoying my newfound freedom and trying to understand what had happened. I went to the library and found some interesting books by someone call Swami Vivekananda. I liked his books so I read everything that I could. So this is what enlightenment is, I thought.

Well here I am now sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Pretoria, South Africa. I left my marketing job and I’m working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Once in Pretoria I’ll meet up with the Foundation’s HIV team and spend my days working to prevent the spread of aids.

§§

Conclusion …

Although everyone is searching for happiness and the meaning of life, virtually no one recognizes that the pursuit of enlightenment is germane to that end. Clouded by the enslavement of the five senses, deluded by cravings and wants, we live life after life is search of riches; as cattle remaining in their stalls.

The story of Nizhoni is one of spiritual awakening, taking place in the year 1620, in the American Southwest.

The story of Jason is one of purpose driven spiritual development; meditation, sacrifice, and a life of virtuous progress toward enlightenment.

The story of Isabella is one of innocents and goodness, spontaneously wakening into the timeless reality of enlightenment.

For Jason the path to enlightenment is long, arduous, and challenging. For Isabella it is a pathless path. Both prescriptions for attaining enlightenment (path or pathless) are correct. What you are faced with depends upon your viewpoint of life, and your current state of consciousness.

There is nothing to be acquired or gained. Referring to enlightenment as “self realization” highlights that only the fog of ignorance (not knowing) needs to be dispelled.

It’s not the divine that must be found, but rather that which deludes you that must be released.

I am neither created nor uncreated, for I have always been here.
I am neither deluded nor undeluded, for I have always been here.
I am neither of light nor of darkness, for I have always been here.
I am the Bliss, I am the Truth, I am the Boundless Sky.
(Avadhuta Gita)

The eternal absolute bliss consciousness is not in the realm of what can be acquired, or not acquired. IT is not in the jurisdiction of time, space, or causation. IT is beyond the arena of mind, concept and thought.

We are all connected to the universe which celebrates life. Today was given to you as a gift. Happiness is inherent to man. Retrace your steps and return to yourself. Slay the false notion of I and mine (ego) and awaken.

Posted by on September 22nd, 2013 Comments Off on A matter of perspective

Hop, skip, sing and dance

La traviata - Alfredo Germont and Violetta Valerie

“OK Georgio, this time let’s try it andante, and express a little more feeling into this part of the Aria,” commented the maestro.

Today we were practicing some of the songs from the opera La traviata (by Giuseppe Verdi).  I was playing the role of Alfredo Germont, the young aristocrat who adored the beautiful Violetta.  My favorite piece in the opera is the “Libiamo ne’lieti calici” (Drinking Song), which is actually a duet.

“Remember, it’s the fallen women, the one who went astray,” added the maestro.  “A one, and a two, and …

The first performance of La traviata was given in 1853 and the audience was far from enthralled.  So the determined Verdi rewrote five of the pieces and presented the new version of the opera in 1854.  This time the audience cheered and clapped, and the opera quickly made its way into theaters across Europe and America (New York on December 3rd).

The cast of La traviata
Violetta Valéry, a courtesan (soprano)
Alfredo Germont, a young bourgeois (tenor)
Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father (baritone)
Flora Bervoix, Violetta’s friend (mezzo-soprano)
Annina, Violetta’s, the maid (soprano)
Gastone, Alfredo’s friend (tenor)
Barone Douphol, Violetta’s lover (baritone)
Marchese d’Obigny (bass)
Dottore Grenvil (bass)
Giuseppe, Violetta’s servant (tenor)
Flora’s servant (bass)
Commissioner (bass)

The story is based on the novel La Dame aux Caméias, by Alexandre Dumas (son of the famous author with that same name).  In the opera the main character Violetta Valery is portrayed as a courtesan well connected in Italian society.   Although sick for a period of time she was now feeling a bit better.  She hosted a social party at which time she learned of the admiration of Alfredo.

After some time Violetta falls for Alfredo and they start living together.  Alfredo’s father then wants to break up the romance because of the upcoming marriage of his daughter (Alfredo’s sister).  It appears that the family’s reputation had been tainted by this illicit affair between Alfredo and Violetta

The couple later separates, there is a duel between Violetta’s lovers Alfredo and the Baron, and then near her death (due to tuberculosis) they are reunited once more.  But it’s too late.  Alfredo’s father is regretful for what he did and brings in a doctor.  Unfortunately nothing can be done, and Alfredo sings Gran Dio! morir si giovane (O, God! to die so young).  Violetta then dies in Alfredo’s arms.

§§

After I sang the duet for twenty minutes, we took a short break.  Then I began to sing “De miei bollenti spiriti,” Wild my dream of ecstasy.

Last year, after my 52nd birthday, I vowed to strike out and follow a dream.  That’s why I am now singing.

My parents emigrated from Italy after the last Great War and came to Brazil in hope of a brighter future.  The first years in the new country had its challenges, but they learned to speak rather fluent Spanish and adopted the holidays and customs of their new homeland.

Georgio followed in this father’s footsteps and became an engineer.  After finishing grade school and graduating from college (Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo), he signed on with Umoe BioEnergy.  That hallmark company specializes in production of bioethanol for international markets.  Brazil is fossil fuel free, and does not need to import petroleum for transpiration (cars) purposes.  The country is energy self sufficient.

When Georgio turned 45 he began to feel that the life path laid out for him by society was a sham.  All along he was told to work hard, do well in school, get that good job, and you will enjoy happiness and success.  Make sure you get married to a good woman, raise lots of kids, have your own house, and be proud.

And it’s not that he was particularly unhappy, but having achieved that long sought after goal was a letdown.  The prize of life’s purpose was dangled in front of him for years, and when he finally got it – he felt little changed.

He was told that life is a journey.  Start at the very beginning and strive toward the grand finale.  There is a great goal waiting for you to be had.   Maybe it was money, or fame, or happiness.

But Georgio discovered that he had missed the whole point of life.  He was supposed to hop, skip, sing and dance all along the way.

§§

Meditation helps to reestablish the playfulness and joy of life.

No matter which way it takes you, enjoy greater silence and peace of mind. Culture the human nervous system to better reflect your true nature.

By practicing meditation daily you are making quantum (great) strides to advance:

– increased intelligence
– better health
– greater feeling and sensitivity of heart
– social harmonious interaction
– a greater level of mental and physical relaxation
– a strengthened immune system
– slower aging
– greater orderliness of brain functioning
– less wasted energy
– relaxation of the nervous system
– increased self actualization
– building self esteem
– the elimination of phobias and fears
– improved relationships among cultures, people and nations
– increased job satisfaction
– a reduced tendency to worry
– the development of greater tolerance
– increased compassion
– the experience and sense of “oneness” with nature and the world
– enlightenment

Following the crowd does not bring real and lasting happiness.

Success and failure are just two aspects of the life learning process.  We learn from both sides of the coin of life.  Search within yourself for guidance.

Unravel the entanglements of the ego.  You’ve been doing all these things in life to benefit yourself (ego) and family.  Now discover and act on your lost dreams for growth, satisfaction and fulfillment.

Most of our behavior is automatic, initiated by stimuli from the environment.  Understand that everything in this phenomenal world is transitory; in constant change and motion.

Intention is not the same as doing.  So take action today.  Your life is currently being painted on a canvas.  Make every new brush stroke count.

It takes courage to buck conformity and reach for your own ideals.  In order to gain anything, you must first lose it.  Practice meditation to escape impermanence and suffering. Day by day delve into the realm of blissful silence.

Enable your inner divinity to shine forth for the betterment of yourself, family, and fellow human beings.

Posted by on September 18th, 2011 Comments Off on Hop, skip, sing and dance

How full is your glass?

Our world of variety presents us with opportunities and choices every moment.

Do we continue straight ahead and travel down that road, or turn to the left?
Should I enroll at Kent State, or go to Bowling Green University?
Do we get married this year, or next?
Should I buy that purse, or save the money for a coat?
Do I buy these vegetables for dinner, or save what little I have for rent?

… and so on, and so forth.

The choices that we make, and how we evaluate and weigh our options, depend upon many factors.  Chief among then is our level of consciousness.  That determines how we appreciate the world.

An optimist looks at half a glass of water and emphatically says that it’s half-full.  A pessimist looks at that same half filled glass of water and says that it’s half-empty.  But a Buddhist meditating on the same glass says it’s empty.

Consider this Zen parable about the difference a half makes:

A famous soldier came to the master Hakuin and asked: “Master, tell me: is there really a heaven and a hell?”

“Who are you?” asked Hakuin.

“I am a soldier of the great Emperor’s personal guard.”

“Nonsense!” said Hakuin. “What kind of emperor would have you around him? To me you look like a beggar!”

At this, the soldier started to rattle his big sword in anger. “Oho!” said Hakuin.  “So you have a sword! I’ll wager it’s much too dull to cut my head off!”

At this the soldier could not hold himself back. He drew his sword and threatened the master, who said: “Now you know half the answer! You are opening the gates of hell!”

The soldier drew back, sheathed his sword, and bowed. “Now you know the other half,” said the master. “You have opened the gates of heaven.”

Decisions that we make every day affect our present and future.

Our well being sometimes hinges on a dime.  What seems to be a good choice for one person may subsequently not be a good choice for another person.

How many times have you wished that you could redo something that happened in the past?  Since we learn from experience, and hindsight is usually 20/20, faced with the very same situation again would you choose differently?

And the same person may take a different tack when faced with a similar problem, at a later time in life.

Since we are at different places in our evolutionary journey, we need different things in the various seasons of life.

Choice is a bed rock of our relative space-time world.  As the saying goes, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure.  What bridge do we cross, and which do we burn?  Not making a choice is a choice in itself.

There are gradations of every object and natural force in the phenomenal universe.

Take for example temperature.  We can appropriately say that ice (frozen water at 0o C) is colder than steam (water vapor at 100o C).   Other liquids freeze at lower temperatures.   Depending upon what different hydrocarbons are blended into a grade of gasoline, it freezes somewhere between -40o C and -50o C.  Hydrogen gas freezes at -259.14 °C. Freezing is just a phase transition that occurs in a material.  Their molecules take on a more orderly crystalline structure.

From smaller than the smallest, to larger than the largest, each pair of opposites is related and dependent upon each other.  Once the groundwork exists to create the phenomena of time, there is then past, present and future.  With temperature come solid, liquid, gas and plasma.  With spatiality come the centimeter, meter and kilometer.

Can there be a beginning without an end?  Would we recognize light if we had not experienced darkness?  In this field of duality, apparent opposites are intimately connected.

– there are small quarks (10-18 meters) and our large universe (13.7 billion light years in diameter)
– there are small galaxies and large galaxies (IC 1101, 6 million light years in girth)
– there are small hills and large mountains (Mons Olympus on Mars, 22 Km, 3 times the height of Mt. Everest)
– there are small lakes and large seas (Pacific Ocean)
– there are small cities and large cities by population (Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan, 33 million)

– there are sad people and happy people
– there is failure and success
– there is anger and calmness
– there is friendship and enmity
– there is hate and love

Each set of opposites owes its existence to the other.

Although the largest values of creation are yet to come, there is a smallest value of creation.  We verify this from our practice of meditation:

– there is a last stress in the human nervous system, and when dissolved Enlightenment dawns
– there is a last random wandering thought in the mind, and then bliss consciousness prevails
– there is a finest value of the relative world to be perceived, at which Glorified Consciousness (GC) the one after Enlightenment, is achieved.

There is a smallest value of creation that can be practically dealt with.

In the field of quantum physics the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle tells us that the position and velocity of an object cannot both be measured, exactly, at the same time.  This derives from a measurement problem, due to the intimate connection between the wave and particle nature of quantum objects.

The process of observing a particle or an event has an effect, and influences where and in what form we see the particle/wave.

Temperature is a measurement of the kinetic energy (energy due to motion) of particles.  The Kelvin scale is based on zero representing when there is no kinetic motion of any kind. 0° Kelvin is equivalent to -273.15° Celsius, or -459.67° Fahrenheit.

The average temperature of our Universe is 2.73° Kelvin, due to the cosmic microwave background radiation left over after the Big Bang.

When cooled to a temperature of 4° Kelvin, liquid Helium becomes a superconductor.  At 2° Kelvin Helium atoms no longer move.  They still have some kinetic energy, but since they no longer have the ability to move and interact they are considered to be static. So …

– there is a finest value of the relative at which all movement, for practical purposes, stops

Do you see your glass of life as half-empty, or half-full?

According to stand-up comedian George Carlin, “Some see the glass as half-full, others see the glass as half-empty. Me, I see the glass as too big.”

A Zen Koan proclaims, “The glass is too large for the amount of water contained therein. Thus, it is neither half-full nor half-empty.

Whatever your opinion, we would like to get to a point where the glass is seen as overflowing.

Our view of the world (level of consciousness) determines what choices we find in front of us.  As we continue through life our ego gains experience and grows in stature.  As we become more comfortable with situations and undertake new adventures, the ego softens as it grows.

Here is how the ego sees itself at various stages in human life …

In ignorance:
ego – is fully isolated and distinct
mind – absorbed and consumed in thought (except during deep sleep)
function – looks inward and identifies itself as this mind, and these thoughts
function – looks outward and identifies itself as this body

In Enlightenment:
Ego – is dissolved, you are now the eternal unbounded Self
mind – prevailing silence accept when activity is required
function – looks inward, the mind having adopted its unbounded nature
function – looks outward and witnesses this body – as bound and separate
100% of inner life

In Glorified Enlightenment:
Eternal unbounded Self
mind – prevailing silence accept when activity is required
function – looks inward, the mind having adopted its unbounded nature
function – looks outward and witnesses this body – as bound and separate, but I now perceive the finest relative value of creation
100% of inner life

In Unity Consciousness:
Eternal unbounded Self
mind – prevailing silence accept when activity is required
function – looks and is mind – as an expression of my infinite eternal Self
function – looks and is universe – as an expression of my infinite eternal Self
“Sarvam khalvidam brahma,”  all this is verily Brahman.  “I am That.”
100% of inner life and 100% of outer life

§§

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?  Do you see the glass as half-full, half-empty, or neither?

We are confronted with choice because the mind has ushered us into a field of multiplicity.  Your life can be considered to be the sum of all the choices you have ever made.  Perception is unique to every individual and is simply one’s interpretation of reality.

Transcend the path of sorrow and death, to the safe island of bliss consciousness.  In the garden of the heart, see the world without your mask.  We are an aperture from which the universe sees itself.

Does the universe expand simply because we are chasing after it?  The substance of the universe is consciousness (matter is an aspect of consciousness).

Meditate every day for greater happiness, optimism, and to regain your rightful (divine) place in this beautiful cosmic ballet.

Posted by on September 10th, 2011 Comments Off on How full is your glass?

What a beautiful sight

View from the top of Mt. Everest

200 million years ago it was just a high plateau before continental drift caused the India land mass to collide with Asia, thrusting the mountains skyward.   For centuries the mountain was called Chomolungma by the Tibetan native population.  And in 1865 Everest was given its English name by the Royal Geographical Society.  Andrew Waugh recommended that the peak be named after his predecessor, Colonel Sir George Everest. 

The view from the top is incredible.  On a clear day you can see features 211 miles away. 

So far about 400 climbers have completed the trek.  But these mountaineers stand on the shoulders of many others who paved the way:

In 1852, stationed at the survey’s headquarters in Dehradun, Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, was the first to identify Everest as the world’s highest peak, using trigonometric calculations based on Nicolson’s measurements.

In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent, president of the Alpine Club, suggested that climbing Mount Everest was possible in his book “Above the Snow Line.”

In 1921 the northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory.

In 1922 a British expedition led by George Finch climbed using oxygen for the first time. He ascended at a remarkable speed – 950 feet (290 meters) per hour, and reached an altitude of 8,320 meters (27,300 ft); the first time a human climbed higher than 8,000 meters.

In 1924 an attempt by Mallory and Bruce was aborted due to bad weather.

Sir Edmund Hillary

In 1953 a ninth British expedition led by John Hunt returned to Nepal. Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans came within 100 m (300 feet) of the summit on 26 May 1953, but turned back after becoming exhausted.  Two days later, the expedition made its second and final assault on the summit with its second climbing pair, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa climber. They reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. local time on 29 May 1953 via the South Col Route.  Hillary had put his foot on the summit first.  They paused at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow before descending.

The sense of sight allows us to distinguish separate objects and distance in the field of time/space.   It is the most active of our human senses.  It functions through the mind/brain which in turn is lively due to breath.  As sight is the most dominant of our senses, stilling its function calms down and settles all of the others.  That’s why it is beneficial that we close our eyes while meditating.

The physiology of sight depends upon the proper functioning of many systems.  The lens of the eye (biconvex) and the cornea focus the light on the retina; that image is upside down.  150 million light-sensitive cells called Rods and Cones convert the image into electrical signals, and the Optic Nerve connects the eyeball to the brain.

The brain does the interpretation.  Even though the image is delivered up-side-down, the brain flips it back right-side-up.  If you remain up-side-down for about two days, the brain will flip your sight right-side-up again.

In classical terms, we have five basic senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  But the body functions by employing other receptors as well – balance through the vestibular sense, temperature via homeostatic thermal receptors in the brain, the kinesthetic sense for spatial orientation, pain receptors, pulmonary and a host of other functions.

The bread toaster, cell phone, television and air conditioner are examples of inert constructs of metal and wires that do not function without an energy source.  Electricity brings them all to life.  The human body is a biological living organism (self repairing, directed by the intelligence of nature) that also in turn functions only when associated with it source, the vital energy, Qi or Prana.

Although we as humans build our own subtle bodies, the physical body is not ours to construct.  We don’t tell our heart when to beat, or direct the repair of skin tissue and organs, or oversee the actual fight of white blood cells against invading bacteria. The forces of nature (the three gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) created and maintain this on their own. 

And through the practice of meditation we transcend the field of time/causation to realize that we are not even the vital energy that animates our body.   We are the eternal absolute Self.

“I am not that which is called vital energy, nor the different components of the body. I am not the different limiting adjuncts that like sheaths cover the soul, nor am I the organs of action. I am the all-pervading Self.”
(Sri Sankaracharya’s Atmapanchaka)

“This Self, who is omniscient and all-knowing, and whose glory is manifest in the universe, dwells in the body the abode of the Divine. He is of the nature of pure consciousness manifesting through the mind.  He is the controller of the vital energy and the body. He dwells in the body, being seated in the heart. By knowing Him, the wise realize that which is bliss and immortality.
(Mundakopanishad, II, ii, 7, 8.)

From a spiritual standpoint we can describe the physiological process of vision in these words:
The instrument (Karanas) of vision is the eyes
Behind that is the organ of vision (Indriyas) – the optic nerve and its centers
The mind (Manas) must attach itself to the organ
The sensation must be carried to the intellect (Buddhi)
The reaction is the flash of the external world and egoism, perception materialized and made real
All of this takes place on a mental screen background, projected and shrouding the soul, the Purusha or Atman.  

Our personal concept of spirituality and what our relationship is to the universe, or a supreme being (i.e., God – if any), is directly correlated to how we see ourselves.  Our vision is based partly upon teachings, but more so upon direct personal experience.  The one universal and adamantine foundation of all our knowledge is – direct experience.  Meditation brings to light that verifiable and undeniable experiential truth.      

Our concept of God evolves with the growth of consciousness.

My personal concept of
self
My state of consciousness My corresponding concept of God My resulting life actions and understanding
I am this body, mind an ego.  Waking, dreaming and sleeping. God exists outside the universe and resides in heaven (or somewhere).  He governs all creation and judges with reward and punishment. I am the servant (the sheep) and God is the Master (the sheppard) creator.  I want a personal relationship with him/her as my heavenly father/mother.  
I am the Transcendental Spirit.  Transcendental Consciousness (TC) All consciousness is One. I am eternally present.
I define myself as a Part and the Whole. Enlightenment
AND
Glorified Cosmic Consciousness (GC)
God is omnipresent and is the soul of all souls.  Having reached moral perfection, freedom from desires and eternal bliss consciousness, all action is in accord with the laws of nature.
All this is an expression of Myself Unity Consciousness (UC) I and the Father are one. I am Brahman, all This is That. 

 
During meditation our encounter with bliss takes away all fear.  Inner joy bubbles over, and all is forgiven as the world is now just and perfect.  The knots of the heart break asunder as all doubts disappear.   The Self is now my treasure, graced by the brilliant sun during the day and the moon and stars by night. 

The unreal never is, the real is never not. 

The turbulent senses (sight) carry away the mind and discrimination is lost.  But coming back to my source and knowing him (Brahman) places me beyond the cycle of birth, death and sorrow.

Close the eyes (meditate) and bask in eternal freedom.

Posted by on January 15th, 2011 Comments Off on What a beautiful sight

The absolute and the relative, two aspects of life

Barbara kissed her kids goodbye as they boarded the morning school bus.  It was a rush getting them ready because Evan couldn’t find his homework.  They had to search the living room until they found it behind the sofa.  Ashley got up late but eventually made it down to breakfast.  But the bus came on time so they all had to run out to catch it.

Barb went back into the house to get her things before leaving for work.  Her husband Ed left about half an hour ago since he had a long commute to Los Angeles.  He tries to help out with the children Evan and Ashley whenever possible, and he does a great job, but his own work schedule is very demanding and requires that he leave early every day.   

Barbara noticed that Evan also forgot to feed the fish this morning.  She put some flakes into the tank for her hungry friends; the beta, 2 mollies, a cat fish and algae eater.  She also had to fill the bird feeder in Ziggy’s cage.  Ziggy was their pet parakeet, which just happened to turn 6 years old this week.  He was always pampered with treats.

Instead of rushing out the door, for some reason Barb started to daydream.  She began to wonder what it would be like to live as a fish, or as a bird, or even as a single celled ameba.  “Those worlds are so different than ours,” she thought.  A creature living in water could hardly imagine what flying through the air or living on land could be like.  The birds of the air could not survive under water for more than seconds at a time.  And the microscopic and atomic world is radically foreign to us.

There seems to be worlds within worlds.

On the Earth there is such a wide diversity of living bionetwork systems.  Different laws of nature predominate in each.  These ecosystems are all disparate constructs in the field of time and space. 

Hummingbird - courtesy of Robin Crito

Our perception and appreciation of time/space depends upon our viewpoint.  Just as when you put on red glasses everything appears to be red, and with blue glasses everything appears to be blue, so to the world appears poles apart when experienced from different states of consciousness.

Spiritual Postulate:

Knowledge is structured in consciousness.  And its corollary, knowledge is different in different states of consciousness.

Here is a brief outline that delineates how consciousness is the key platform (frame of reference) that dictates how we experience the world of time/space/absolute:  

State of Consciousness Outer objective life – sensory perception of the Relative World Inner subjective life – perceived presence of the Absolute Comment
1. Sleeping none some – right now Unconsciousness.
flips to all upon enlightenment Inner wakefulness
2. Dreaming none some – right now Unconsciousness with mental activity.
flips to all upon enlightenment Inner wakefulness
3. Waking only the gross physical   some – right now depending upon the degree of spiritual awakening Conscious Wakefulness.
As meditation brings ever clearer experience of Transcendental Consciousness the absolute increases in our lives.
flips to all upon enlightenment Inner wakefulness
4. TC-Transcendental Consciousness or Complete Inner Silence  none all  Eyes closed in meditation – inner experience of no thought, absolute bliss consciousness and eternity. 
5. CC – Cosmic Consciousness or Enlightenment only the gross physical  all Inner life– I am the absolute
Outer life – that is not me.
6. GC – Glorified Cosmic Consciousness all physical levels plus the finest value of the relative world (etheric, astral, and mental levels) all If you believe in a creator, this is when you can meet him/her.
7. UC – Unity Consciousness all relative world
and
all unmanifest
all Everything experienced in terms of my SELF.All relative values of creation plus the absolute unbounded.
Legend:
none – no appreciation
some – partial appreciation
all – total appreciation

Our perception (evaluation) of the world depends upon our ability to perceive it.

By living only waking, dreaming and sleeping states of consciousness our appreciation of the world is limited.  We encounter brief glimpses of happiness and joy, while most of life appears to be suffering.

In Transcendental Consciousness (TC) we learn that the universe is built upon a foundation of absolute – blissful – timeless – unboundedness, and we are THAT. 

By Enlightenment (CC) we have completed an inner transformation of the small self (individual ego) to the large universal cosmic SELF.   But when we open our eyes we still perceive the outer world as still relative, so a dichotomy continues to exist.

(I am now the absolute, but the relative world that I experience is not me, it is something else).

Through culturing of the heart and subsequent advanced food digestion (soma), our faculties of perception (indriyas – the five senses; sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) become more refined until we are able to perceive the finest value of the relative world (GC). 

In Unity Consciousness (UC) the entire act of life in on the level of infinity.  The absolute is experienced within and without.  Everything is in terms of my SELF.  The duality and multiplicity of the world has no meaning.  Life is absolute and eternally the same.  Finite values do not exist. 

The world is as you are.  Each state of consciousness has its own reality in the world.  The absolute and the relative are two sides of the same coin.  Both are intimate to life. 

* You cannot know the absolute without reference to the relative.  And you cannot know the relative without reference to the absolute. 

* The relative is inherent in the absolute, and the absolute is inherent in the relative.

* Relative life is eternally (an absolute attribute) changing.  The absolute is beyond (a relative attribute) the influence of change.    

Space Exploration

For those who have never meditated, or have never had the blessing of a spiritual glimpse of the absolute, the concept of different states of consciousness may be hard to swallow.  It’s a topic that seems to be without merit.  Many may argue that the world is only full of grief and suffering, and no one or anything will ever change that.      

But I hope that this post (and the others) will help to shine a light on the infinite possibilities that exist for human life.  This is not pie-in-the-sky or wishful thinking.  The seven states of consciousness are reality, and beckon all of us to step up to the plate and live their joyful values.     

Enlightenment is for everyone.  It’s your birthright and destiny.  It was never intended that man/women/children should suffer.           

Sit and meditate every day to rouse our understanding of the world and innate awareness.  Don’t hold on to restricted beliefs and thinking.  Break stereotypes and boundaries.  Breathe in the light of life.  Accept only the highest of human aspirations and goals. 

Reach for your destiny, Unity Consciousness, which is living life in a universe experienced as the expression of your SELF.

Posted by on September 27th, 2010 Comments Off on The absolute and the relative, two aspects of life

The Seven States of Consciousness

1) In silent slumber, sleeping …

After waking from a good night’s sleep feeling refreshed and ready to go we sometimes wonder what just happened. Where were we (if anywhere) for the past several hours?

You might say, “I know that I was in bed resting with eyes closed and unconscious of what was happening in my room. For the most part my body was lying still. No sound was loud enough to waken me. Cars passed by my apartment on the street all night but I did not see them. For me it was just blissful sleep.”

The heightened anabolic condition during sleep allows the body to rest, rejuvenate and strengthen life functioning systems.

During sleep we experience a unique physiological state – the mind is unconscious while the body is resting.

2) In bed dreaming of fantasy …

Sometimes after waking from sleep we remember that something happened. We may remember a fantasy world or an outing with loved ones, or worry and concern about a current life problem. Sometimes we recall flying or performing other physical feats that seemingly defy the laws of gravity and reason. During this period the mind apparently perceives a visual world, hears sounds, and experiences emotions.

Many scientists believe that dreaming most likely occurs during the REM stage of sleep.

During dreaming we experience a unique physiological state – the mind is somewhat active (illusory) while the body is resting.

3) Awake for the day …

After a refreshing night I am up and adam, bright and early out of bed and ready to go. Now we are awake and conscious of the sensory/perception world that we live in. We see that world, taste our food, smell the flowers, touch the rain drops, and hear the voices of family and friends. We can move about from place to place. We can sit and read a book utilizing our reasoning and cognitive skills. Maybe we are too occupied thinking about past, present or future. Or maybe our heart takes flight with the thrill of discovery and found love.

During waking we experience a unique physiological state – the mind and body are both active and aware of the outer world.

4) Transcendental Consciousness (TC), that silent inner wakefulness of meditation …

Meditation means different things to different people. To one person an afternoon outing in the park on a beautiful day is considered meditation. Perhaps listening to the sounds of nature or a favorite Beethoven symphony would also qualify. Ah, rest and relaxation.

Meditation is also what we do when we sit down in a quite setting and deliberately close our eyes to practice a specific technique. As the mind takes flight on its own we may start thinking about our job or what will happen tomorrow. Maybe we think about lofty philosophical ideas like “what is the meaning of life” and “why are we here.” Or perhaps we just allow the mind to settle down.

Trying or forcing during meditation causes stress and strain. Such practices are not recommended. Instead, we should choose a technique that effortlessly and naturally takes the mind to finer states of thought until thought itself is transcended.

When we are meditating the space between each successive thought is the experience of inner silence or Transcendental Consciousness (TC). No thought, just silence. We may not have noticed this before but it happens. As we continue our practice of meditation and more days pass by we begin to notice that the silence has become more profound. Instead of being in the background, experienced only between successive thoughts, it now becomes more pronounced and begins to be experienced outside of meditation even during dynamic activity. It is now in the foreground rather than in the background of our life.

During Transcendental Consciousness we experience a unique physiological state – the mind is highly alert while the body is resting.

Each state of consciousness has a unique corresponding state of physiology. By physiology we mean the level of mind/body functioning – appetite, respiration, vision, hearing, thirst, weight, locomotion, speech, smell, memory, perspiration, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, state of mind, etc..

The experience of Transcendental Consciousness can be described and talked about in books. We can discuss it from an intellectual standpoint and understand its many facets and importance to basic human life. But no amount of talking about it will capture it for you. We can talk about blueberries and describe how delicious they taste, and their wonderful texture, but that is not the same as actually eating one. Like that, unfoldment of awareness occurs through direct experience of its source.

There are hundreds of different types of meditation but these practices fall into three general categories:

Contemplation – thinking about the meaning of words and ideas.
Concentration – focusing on one specific thing
Transcendence – allowing the mind to go beyond itself, and transcend the thought process.

At the seat of the mind is the field of pure consciousness which is beyond the arena of time and space. The past, present and future are concepts of the mind. In meditation we can go beyond the most subtle of thoughts, to transcend the thinking process itself. Transcend the mind to experience awareness in its purity.

In our earthly world we gain experience because there is a distinction between the object of perception – say a beautiful flower, the perceiver (me), and the process of perceiving. When we practice meditation and the mind transcends that distinction begins to blur. When we experience pure consciousness – the object of perception, the perceiver, and the process of perception is all one. There is only the Self, pure awareness.

There are three states of consciousness beyond the four already discussed. They are …

5) Cosmic Consciousness (CC) or Enlightenment

6) Glorified Cosmic Consciousness (GC)

7) Unity Consciousness (UC)

… all of which we will discuss in more detail on another day.

To whatever degree you experience inner silence in your daily life, nurture and cultivate that quality.

Posted by on July 1st, 2010 Comments Off on The Seven States of Consciousness