1. Intimacy with Everything.wmv 2. Dying Before You Die • Adyashanti


One of the most confusing aspects of anyone’s life is the area of relationship. In this vital satsang, Adyashanti offers an expansive view of relating that includes our relationship to all forms of manifestation. He explores how awakening is not just about falling out of our identification with life experiences and discovering our unconditioned nature — it also involves coming back into the world of form and bringing forth a complete intimacy with the totality of existence.

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Elderhood: A Buddhist Approach to Aging Well ~ Lewis Richmond

This March I turned 64 — one year away from Medicare, two years away from Social Security. So there it is: I’m a baby boomer, a Buddhist, and one individual face to face with his own aging. But I’m not alone. Each day and every day for the next twenty years, 10,000 boomers will turn 65. This is a fact with enormous implications for our politics, our society — and, I believe, our spiritual life.

Forty years ago, when my Buddhist teacher Shunryu Suzuki was in his mid-sixties and the students around him were mostly in their 20s and 30s, someone asked him, “Why do we meditate?” He replied, “So you can enjoy your old age.” We all laughed and thought he was joking. Now that I am the age he was then, I realize he wasn’t joking at all. Some aspects of growing old can be hard to enjoy, and a spiritual practice can definitely help. This isn’t just theory; the Handbook of Religion and Health by Koenig et al. presents research showing that people who have a regular religious attendance or practice live, on average, 7 years longer than those who do not. That research result is even more significant when we remember that for the first time in human history, people will be living in relative good health into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. What are we all going to do with that extra gift of time?

For the last several years I have been developing a contemplative approach to growing old and aging well. I have come to believe, as my teacher did, that spiritual practice can help us to age gracefully, and that the last part of life is a fruitful time for spiritual inquiry and practice. As part of my research, I logged on to Amazon, put in the search word “aging” and sorted by descending best-seller. Yes, there were a lot of best-selling books with the word “aging” in the title. But when I looked more closely I could see that most of the titles really weren’t about aging per se, but about postponing, disguising, or reversing aging. It was only when I set aside sales rank as my criterion that I found some good books with a spiritual approach to aging. Two of my favorites are The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Benedictine nun Joan Chittister, and Spirituality and Aging by gerontology professor Robert C. Atchley.

What other resources do we have for accepting aging with grace, about learning the lessons of wisdom that aging teaches, about investigating the deep questions of our human life? 2,500 years ago, the Buddha had a lot to say about the inevitability of loss and change. What could all of us aging folks learn from his teaching today?

The Buddha taught that “everything changes,” and many of today’s Buddhists repeat that teaching as a patent truism. But suppose we were to rephrase those words to say, “Everything we love and cherish is going to age, decline, and eventually disappear, including our own precious selves?” Suddenly this “truism” takes on a different coloration and urgency. It’s all going to go, the Buddha is saying, all of it — everything that matters to us. In fact that process is always happening; everything is aging, all the time. How is it that we didn’t notice?

When we are young, we don’t notice. In youth, life is full of opportunity, and when things go wrong there are do-overs and second chances. But on the downhill slope of life, we start to notice the worrisome finitude of time. We go to more funerals, we visit more hospitals, we view the daily news with more distance, and we start to feel an autumnal chill in the air. There are joys too, of course — grandchildren, time for travel (if we can afford it!), the pursuit of long-dreamed-of avocations and new beginnings, as well as the energizing impulse to “give back” to community and society.

There is also a fresh opportunity to look to the inner life, to revisit the deep questions that a busy career and family responsibilities might have long pushed into the background. A regular contemplative practice can indeed be a part of this journey, and Buddhism offers rich resources in this area. In my upcoming book Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser (Gotham Books, January 2012) I offer many such contemplative practices — from traditional meditations on breath, gratitude, and compassion, to more innovative reflections on time, worry, fear, and what I have ecumenically termed “the inner divine.” The last section of the book — “A Day Away” — is a guided personal retreat that uses these contemplative exercises as a way to reflect on aging in all its many dimensions. I use the term “elderhood” to refer to the totality of this effort.

Elderhood is the culminating stage of a life fully lived. When the time comes, we can (although we may not always ) assume the mantle of elderhood as a kind of birthright, and traditional cultures have all honored and supported elderhood, giving their elders specific roles and tasks to do. In today’s wired, youth-oriented world, elders don’t typically garner that same kind of respect. These days, each of us has to imagine and construct our own expression of elderhood, and find ways to bring it forward.

Recently I read an online article which described a group of elderly Japanese who volunteered to help with the cleanup of the damaged nuclear reactors. They vigorously refuted any notions that they were some kind of “suicide squad.” They were just being practical, they said. “I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live,”one said. “Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.” Some might say these elderly Japanese were just expressing a strong cultural value of sacrificing individual well-being for the good of the group. But elderhood is culturally specific; it shows up in different ways in different times and places. Elders are not the same as identified leaders; often elders are invisible, behind the scenes, shining like gold nuggets at the bottom of the stream.

I thought their offer was a particularly courageous expression of elderhood. Elderhood means to take responsibility, to mentor, to offer perspective. The nuclear crisis in Japan is only one of many dire situations the world over that cry out for a mature, seasoned response. I think contemplative practice can give us inner strength and help us develop the resources to assume our elders’ role in a troubled and often rudderless world that needs us, now perhaps more than ever.

Transcendental Meditation: Topping The Bestseller List Since 1975 ~ Philip Goldberg

When I saw that a book about Transcendental Meditation (TM), written by a scientist, had landed on the New York Times bestseller list, my reaction was to quote the great Yogi of Berra: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

In 1975, “TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress” was propelled onto the list when its lead author, psychiatrist Harold Bloomfield, appeared on Merv Griffin’s syndicated TV talk show (the Oprah of its day) with TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The book remained a bestseller for six months, and then had a solid run on the paperback list. During that period, Merv devoted a second show to Maharishi, and TM centers could barely keep up with the demand. By the end of 1976, over a million Americans had learned to meditate.

This was the culmination of a remarkable eight-year run that began when the Beatles famously learned TM and sojourned at Maharishi’s ashram in India. Between that watershed moment and the two Merv programs, meditation moved from the counterculture to the mainstream, from weird to respectable, from youthful mind expansion to middle-age stress remedy. Now, the celebrity meditators were not rock stars but Clint Eastwood and Mary Tyler Moore, and you could not get more mainstream than the nation’s big screen hero and its TV sweetheart.

The route from esoteric mystical discipline to respectable relaxation technique was paved by science. It started in the late ’60s when a young meditator named Robert Keith Wallace was persuaded by his guru, Maharishi, to study the physiology of TM. The research became his Ph.D. dissertation, and then a Science magazine article in 1970. Wallace’s follow-up study, conducted with Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, was published in 1971 in The American Journal of Physiology and Scientific American. The data sparked an avalanche of research. By 1975, a substantial body of evidence had demonstrated the efficacy of meditation on various measures of physical and mental health.

Now comes another psychiatrist, Norman E. Rosenthal, with “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation.” Once again, celebrity endorsements add pizzazz, in this case Mehmet Oz, David Lynch, Martin Scorcese and Russell Simmons, with cameo appearances by the gray eminences, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. And once again science confers credibility. Whereas Bloomfield was fresh out of his Yale residency when Merv Griffin showcased his book, Rosenthal has 30 years of distinguished clinical research and more than 200 scholarly articles under his belt. And by now TM has been the subject of over 300 peer-reviewed articles. The book describes the most recent findings, many of them involving common maladies such as ADHD, PTSD and hypertension, but not limited to medical conditions.

That meditation is good for you is no longer an eye-opening news flash. But the new book’s bestsellerdom suggests that a new generation wants to hear the message. In this era of soaring anxiety, depression and health costs, perhaps the only people who don’t think that’s a good thing are the makers of pharmaceuticals.

As someone who has chronicled the transmission of Eastern spirituality to the West, I hope that this time around we can avoid some of the pitfalls of the past. As the title of Rosenthal’s book “Transcendence,” suggests, meditation is not just a medical intervention. The deeper purpose has always been the development of higher consciousness, as described in the Vedic tradition from which practices like TM derive. But when yogic methods become medicalized and their benefits quantified, they tend to get disconnected from their spiritual roots — a loss for all of us.

Another consequence of the popularization of meditation was the rise of imitation practices. Health experts, self-help mavens and entrepreneurs did everything they could to de-Hinduize and de-Indianize the practice. Recently, we’ve seen a similar tendency as practices derived from Buddhism were secularized as “mindfulness.” The advantage of this adaptation, of course, is that it makes such practices far more accessible. The downside is that something vital can be lost in translation, thereby diminishing their effectiveness. Modernizing the language is one thing, but tinkering with the ingredients of a meditation practice is not unlike changing a medical formula or a food recipe.

Finally, in the past, all forms of meditation were lumped together as if their differences were inconsequential. People who should have known better assumed that the initial TM data could be applied to just about anything that resembled meditation. That techniques practiced differently would produce identical outcomes defies logic, yet the premise was accepted on faith and promoted by both healthcare professionals and New Age promoters. Recent findings have corrected that mistake to a large extent, and current researchers are sorting out which practices produce which results under which circumstances.

The scientific investigation of ancient spiritual practices might be one of the most important advances of the modern era. But we have to proceed with care and discernment, assimilating the methods without obscuring or dishonoring their roots. If we get careless, we can dilute them, corrupt them and otherwise fail to harness their full potential. It’s happened to some extent already, and it’s happening as we speak in the trendy world of yoga studios, where complex and profound teachings are being reduced to fitness exercises. Rudyard Kipling’s assertion that “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet” turned out to be mistaken, to our everlasting benefit. But we have to make sure that East does not become West.

Re-Charge Your Body and Mind for Maximum Healing and Regeneration! – David Wolfe PART ONE

Ancient Secrets for Super-Rejuvination: How to Effortlessly Re-Charge Your Body and Mind for Maximum Healing and Regeneration! David Wolfe LIVE at the Longevity Now® Conference 2011

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