Archive for September, 2011
Intuition can be defined as understanding or knowing without a conscious and immediate route to thought or reason. Some may categorize it as mystical, while others may describe it as a response to unconscious cues or previous learning.
However, intuition can be a tricky subject. I have dealt with many clients who confuse delusions or illusive tendencies with intuition. This could be misguiding to them, creating anxiety and confusion. The reason for this is that while intuition is something we all have and can access, it needs activation.
Becoming too much of a logical mind without using your intuition can be unproductive, but the same is also true with being too intuitive and not logical. Some of the greatest discoveries, inventions and creations of our times have been done by experts who were open to their intuitive side and responded to their hunches in a productive way.
In order for you to activate your intuitive tendencies, you may find the following useful:
1.Learn To Become Objective
The more objective you become, the clearer your path to accessing your intuition. Being objective means being less biased in the way you approach life and its challenges.
To do that you need to move above the situation and look at it without being emotionally blinded by it.
You need to look for an uncensored truth of the situation before making a judgment. In other words, you need to be willing to move beyond the tip of the iceberg.
2. Increase Your Knowledge And Experience
The more experience and knowledge you have in a specific subject, the more reliable your intuition will become.
For example, someone who has had more experiences with children seems to be better at intuitively knowing how to deal with them in certain situations.
This is not to say that there are any guarantees, and that one with experience and knowledge is always right, because we all have our self serving biases, but the chances of it being more reliable increases with knowledge and expertise.
3. Activate Your Logical Side
When your mind is functional, you can take in your intuitive information and hunches, and do an evaluation to test its accuracy.
Finding that bridge between the two, and helping them work together brings you closer to your fully functioning self.
Intuition is an access to the innate wisdom and knowledge, but logic is needed to filter this knowledge in a practical and useful way.
If we have all the knowledge in the world without knowing how to make it applicable, we are missing half of the equation. Even worse, the other half may become useless, confusing and even chaotic.
4. Learn To Be Centered
Being centered is nothing more than feeling in peace. I have written extensively about this subject and what it means to feel peace within, which is an ultimate form of happiness.
It is a form of happiness that has all the benefits, but not as much of a cost.
To be centered, you have to learn to go through the necessary behavioral, cognitive and emotional modification to let go of any heavy baggage that you are carrying — and releasing and modifying what does not work.
Connecting to your internal knowing and intuition is easier when you don’t have heavy baggage blocking your way.
When you have more drama than you can handle, your intuition becomes hazy.
5. Self Monitor And Self Reflect
Whether you do this through meditation, prayer or quiet times, it is important to self monitor and check for your intuitive accuracies. Look for patterns and evaluate the feelings and situations attached to them.
See what part of your intuition has been reliable in the past and what has been misleading, and then try to make shifts and adjustments.
For example, if you think you’re intuitive, but your intuitive hunches have mostly been wrong in the past, do a self check in to see what that is.
Do you get overly emotional in situations? Do you overreact? Are you impulsive when something does not go your way? Do you constantly feel drained by drama?
These are some of the questions that may be useful.
6. Learn To Become More Empathetic
Some researchers report that empathy is in our genes, we just need to let it unleash. By becoming more empathetic, unconditionally, we give ourselves the ability to connect.
The more we connect to others, the easier it gets for us to get in touch with our intuitive side.
An empathetic person is able to walk out of her zone and get into something that may be foreign to her, to understand it and to acknowledge the other’s experience as accurate for that person.
Someone who is empathetic learns to give attention and a feeling of significance to the other.
An empathetic person is not only aware of what is in the present, but also the past experiences and how it affects the present.
7. Don’t Let Arrogance Make You Ignorant
There is an old saying, the more you know, the more you know how much you don’t know. The smartest of people who know relatively a lot, have these “wow” moments of realizing how much more there is to learn.
Therefore, don’t let your ego manipulate you into believing that the small little part of this life you see is all there is to it.
Be open to the fact that what humans know, while it is admirable, is but a few drops in the ocean. Therefore, don’t close mindedly deny something just because you can’t see it.
Being reasonably skeptical, but at the same time knowingly convinced, that there is more to life can help you channel through your intuition.
8. Keep in mind that like any other skill, becoming more intuitive takes time and practice.
While some may have a more innate natural tendency toward it, we all are capable of becoming more intuitive and we all need practice to become good at it.
When you learn to find a bridge between your intuition and your logic, you feel more like your complete self and you become more productive, and you get this feeling that things just become easier for you.
At the end, as always, aim for it, enjoy the process and don’t forget to have a little faith.
Founder Edgar Mitchell was recently interviewed by Tom Hurley, Director of Membership Education.
Members of the Institute are always interested in your experience in space. Can you tell us something about that?
None who have looked at Earth and the cosmos from deep space have failed to be dramatically moved by the sight. For me, as I contemplated the tiny jewel that is Earth, against the background of stars and galaxies, I experienced a sense of oneness and wholeness beyond my previous experience. I recognized that my prior vision of “reality” was far too limited. The universe is more grand, more magnificent, more purposeful than I had ever imagined. I realized at that time that our science was incomplete, that our religious cosmologies were Earth centered and flawed. I recognized that in some sense the universe is conscious and intelligent in ways I did not then comprehend.
It was this feeling—an experience of certainty that there was an intelligence and a purposefulness in the universe that we humans had not yet understood—that led to the founding of the Institute to do research into the nature of consciousness.
How do those insights relate to the theme of our conference, “Global Mind Change—From Vision to Reality”?
It has been clear to me since that experience that we humans needed to expand our understanding of who and what we are in relationship to planet Earth. The destiny of our civilization is being determined every day by our collective human activities which are in turn founded upon our collective beliefs about ultimate values and fundamental causality. Few would disagree these days that planet Earth is in deep trouble from human dynamics. Until recent decades, however, the concept of mind as distinct from brain, particularly the concept of collective or global mind, was considered a non sequitur in Western culture. Human intention was not relevant other than in a local sense.
That we now know to be utterly false. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift, one aspect of which is change from the notion that “We can mess it up and God will clean it up” to the notion of “Change your mind, change your world”. There is now recognition that power and responsibility are internal, not external.
What are the principles which guide movement “from vision to reality” in our lives? Is there a dynamic that can be articulated?
The one fundamental principle is that human behavior and conscious action are determined primarily by the deepest level of committed knowledge and beliefs. All new things begin as ideas shaped subsequently into visions. But only when visions are deeply infused into the mind/body, supported by knowledge and charged with the power of emotion, do they begin to take the shape of reality. No other principle is really necessary. When people begin to experience, to understand, to believe—and believe deeply—about their true meaning and purpose, action will take place automatically . . .
What are the most critical issues we face today?
The critical issues are all interrelated. They stem from a common cause and will be resolved by a common solution—corrected perception as to ultimate values and causes. A partial list of issues must start with population growth, human rights violations, natural resources mismanagement, species extinction, global warming, and unfettered growth of industrialization, among others. Thus one might say that the most critical issue is awareness and consciousness since nothing will change without changed perceptions of “reality”. And everything will begin to change in the right direction as soon as there is a changed perception of reality.
How is consciousness research relevant to these issues?
Consciousness research is relevant because we have learned through our studies that the universe is a billion times more beautiful, abundant and malleable than humans ever dreamed it to be. We shape our “reality” from the miniscule amount of information our sensory mechanisms gather and organize from experience into our “map” of reality. Gather and organize different information by expanded awareness and extended sensors,a different reality emerges. Reality is not an immutable absolute as has been long believed in Western culture but is the reflection of our conditioning and beliefs based upon an infinitesimal sampling of the information available to us. Whatever the nature of the ultimate reality, humans can only consciously discern it through the lens of our sensors and as shaped by belief. Thus far in human history we have been perceiving the universe and ourselves in a very limiting fashion.
What is transformation?
“Transformation”, in the context of consciousness research and devoid of all mystical and supernatural overtones, is what happens when humans perceive a larger, more all-encompassing reality than they previously held. By immersing oneself in experiences which quiet the restless mind, which release the rigidity of dogmatic and confining beliefs, which expand awareness and increase knowledge—a transformation will take place. It may be subtle and slow or rapid and explosive but it will happen. “Transformation” has mistakenly had the popular connotation of something mystical and magical only because mind and consciousness have been considered as “givens”—fixed, immutable, indeed abstract notions. This view is simply not correct. We have an almost unlimited capability to reshape our information, our beliefs, our reality—that is, to be transformed
Edgar D. Mitchell Was An Apollo 14 Astronaut and the Founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences
Rupert Sheldrake is a British former biochemist and plant physiologist who now researches and writes on parapsychology and other controversial subjects. His books and papers stem from his theory of morphic resonance, and cover topics such as animal and plant development and behaviour, memory, telepathy and perception.
In 2003, Sheldrake published The Sense of Being Stared At on the psychic staring effect, including an experiment where blindfolded subjects guessed whether persons were staring at them or at another target. He reported that, in tens of thousands of trials, the scores were consistently above chance (60%) when the subject was being stared at, but only 50% (random chance) when the subject was not being stared at. This suggested a weak sense of being stared at but no sense of not being stared at. He also claimed that these experiments were widely repeated, in schools in Connecticut and Toronto and a science museum in Amsterdam, with consistent results.
Rupert Sheldrake – The Extended Mind – The Sense Of Being Stared At. Pt 2/3
Rupert Sheldrake – The Extended Mind – The Sense Of Being Stared At. Pt 3/3
Are you thinking or merely reacting as you go through life’s challenges these days? I mean, really thinking, not just mindlessly or emotionally reacting to the stuff happening to you? If you find yourself judging, condemning, complaining or blaming then you can pretty much be assured that you’re in reaction mode. While normal enough, these emotional reactions inhibit conscious choice and block your ability to create any kind of useful response to what bedevils you.
I was reading a little book called “The Power Within You” by my friend and teacher, John-Roger, when I came across this passage:
Thinking is not a natural process of the human consciousness. You may say, “Sure it is. Everybody thinks.” I have news for you: very few people think. Most people react and then pass that off as thinking. Thinking is the cause of things. Reaction is the effect.
How often are you actually thinking, and how often are you reacting? You are probably reacting about 90 percent of the time. For the most part, you are reacting either to your previous reactions or to someone else’s reactions. It’s a long chain of effect and effect and effect. It’s like dominos: you hit one and they all go.
Knowing how often I get caught up in my own reactive states, reading this got me to, well, thinking. What does it mean to think rather than simply react? For me, this rather simple yet challenging question translates into my own personal “wake up call.”
It’s Time to WAKE UP
While this may not be your sequence of thought, much less a perfect sequence, it may become your own version of the alarm clock. Rather than hit the snooze button, use these “alarms” to help you examine any issue with which you may find yourself struggling during the day:
1. What just happened
2. Assess the situation and accept the obvious
3. Consider options available
4. Take the best course of action you have available
5. Observe how its working
6. Repeat until you are satisfied with the outcome
These may seem like simple questions of observation, assessment and making choices. However, most people don’t observe as much as they react to what they see.
Think about your local hero, the firefighter or other first responder. If you happen to be unfortunate to wind up in a fire or some other kind of tragedy, how do you want your first responder to, well, respond? Notice the name isn’t first reactor! If it’s me, I want that first responder to show up, assess the situation, and pick from the best available choices given the circumstances. I certainly don’t want my responder to go into some kind of emotional reactionary state instead and waste time blaming whatever or whomever started the situation in the first place. There’s plenty of time for blame and complain later, as if blame were ever going to correct the situation — after all, as I have written many times in the past, blaming and complaining won’t get you to where you’re going, but it will give you a great set of excuses for being stuck where you are.
Wondering what this might look like in real life? Well, if you actually think about this for a couple of seconds, I’m sure you can come up with dozens of examples. Here’s something that happened just recently in Utah which you probably saw on the news or YouTube:
Observation: If you watch the sequence of events closely, you will see some people coming to the scene of the accident — some initially just gaping which is understandable — after all this certainly looks tragic.
Assess: However, notice the young woman in the flip flops who winds up the ground observing and assessing the situation — several times, actually, as the first couple of action choices don’t appear to be working.
Options: The sequence is certainly quick, but you will see people acting (perhaps reacting), but then they stop for a few seconds, reassess the situation, and then take action again — and again.
Action: And as you probably know, they manage to get the young man out from under the car, saving his life. It’s also pretty obvious that these responders needed to observe, assess, take action, and then cycle back through Observe (this isn’t working), Assess (he’s still trapped and alive), Options (try different angles, get more people involved),
By the way, what isn’t so obvious, is that the driver of the car is one of the rescuers! Imagine all the times we have seen video of crowds reacting against the person apparently “at fault.” What would have been the outcome in this instance if these people had reacted rather than responding?
Ask anyone who has come through tragedy and made the best of it, and you will find some version of this same wise counsel: you need to observe and tell the truth about what happened to you; then you need to assess your options and make the best choices you can with what’s left; and then you need to observe, assess and choose again. And again and again. My friend and truly inspirational example of day-to-day choosing, W. Mitchell (who himself survived a fiery and disfiguring motorcycle crash only to wind up paralyzed years later in a plane crash),
“It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it … Before I was paralyzed there were 10,000 things I could do. Now there are 9,000. I can either dwell on the 1,000 I’ve lost or focus on the 9,000 I have left.”
So, what’s happening in your life or more to the point, what has happened to you over the past months or years? What aspects of your life would you like to improve? If you lost your job, house, car, family or something even worse, you are likely to have experienced any number of emotions from hurt, anger and grief, to blame, complain and a sense of helplessness. However, as understandable as these reactions are, they won’t help you dig out and rebuild.
What choices can you make starting today to move from reactor to responder? Remember, you don’t have to be “perfectionally correct, just directionally correct.”`
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama gestures as he delivers a speech during a Tibetan religious conference in Dharamshala on September 23, 2011. Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said September 23 he was in ‘no hurry’ to decide how his reincarnation might be chosen, but stressed the final word lay with him, not China. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
DHARMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama said Saturday if he is to be reincarnated he will leave clear written instructions about the process, but that the matter is unlikely to come up for a number of years.
The Tibetan spiritual leader said in a statement that when he is “about 90” he will consult Buddhist scholars to evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue at all. He is 76.
The statement came after a meeting between the Dalai Lama and the leaders of the four Tibetan Buddhist sects, the first since he transferred his political role earlier this year to an elected prime minister.
China reviles the Dalai Lama as a separatist, although the Nobel Peace Prize laureate insists he is only seeking increased autonomy for Tibet. Beijing has left little doubt that it intends to be deeply involved in choosing the next Dalai Lama. That concern has led the current Dalai Lama to contemplate ideas that break with the ancient system in which each dead Dalai Lama is reincarnated in the body of a male child.
In May, the Dalai Lama formally stepped down as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, giving up the political power that he and his predecessors have wielded over Tibetans for hundreds of years. Though he remains the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, his decision to abdicate is one of the biggest upheavals in the community since a Chinese crackdown led him to flee Tibet in 1959 into exile in India.
China insists that religious law requires that the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation be born in a Tibetan area under Chinese control. However, the Dalai Lama has said his successor will be born in exile and has even floated the idea of choosing his own successor while still alive – perhaps even a woman.
In his statement Saturday, he said if the institution of the Dalai Lama were to continue, then he would leave behind “clear written instructions about it.”
“Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
The Dalai Lama has lived in the Indian hill town of Dharmsala since fleeing Tibet. China says Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the region was virtually independent for centuries.
Deepak answers questions about the nature of consciousness. How is consciousness defined and is the universe conscious? These questions are from readers of book War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow.
By Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow
Two bestselling authors first met in a televised Caltech debate on “the future of God,” one an articulate advocate for spirituality, the other a prominent physicist. This remarkable book is the product of that serendipitous encounter and the contentious—but respectful—clash of worldviews that grew along with their friendship.
In War of the Worldviews these two great thinkers battle over the cosmos, evolution and life, the human brain, and God, probing the fundamental questions that define the human experience.
How did the universe emerge?
What is the nature of time?
What is life?
Did Darwin go wrong?
What makes us human?
What is the connection between mind and brain?
Is God an illusion?
This extraordinary book will fascinate millions of readers of science and spirituality alike, as well as anyone who has ever asked themselves, What does it mean that I am alive?
Video Produced by http://www.PeteMcCormack.com
In Spiritual Teachings of the Avatar Jeffrey Armstrong speaks to anyone concerned with the sustainability of Mother Earth, the role of elders in our society, the seemingly unconsciousness of science and corporations, and the subtleties of unseen realities, resulting in spiritual growth, a deeper relationship with nature, and a better world for all.
AVATAR: The Earth is Intelligent:
Imagine a world filled with souls who live in the service of all beings, inspired by the loving example of the great Avatars.
From the New book ….”Spiritual Teachings of the AVATAR – Ancient Wisdom for a New World”. Beyond Words Publishers. Available on Amazon.com worldwide! Interview with Jeffrey Armstrong. Produced by Pete McCormack.
AVATAR: Seeing the Soul in Everyone 3.mov
The word Avatar has been thrust into the global consciousness, raising the question what exactly does Avatar mean? To many, an avatar is what you call the digital representation of your physical self for video or computer games, but that meaning has only existed for the last two decades. Avatar as Armstrong describes it, has been in use for over 5,000 years by one of the most ancient cultures—India.
In Spiritual Teachings of the Avatar author Jeffrey Armstrong shares the hidden messages of the historical Avatars, which offer insights we can use today to sustain our planet and elevate our spiritual growth. Armstrong explains the ancient Indian wisdoms embodied in the word Avatar. These divine beings view the sacredness of all life and the soul of all beings as eternal—meant for freedom and made of divine essence.
Armstrong has studied Vedic knowledge for over forty years and has explored the depths of many of the greatest teachings of India. He is a westerner who has been selected by Hindu leaders throughout the world to act as a spokesperson for Hindu Dharma and culture.
Neuroscientists understand, at least in general, how the biological machinery of the brain can compute information. But how does a brain become aware of information? What is sentience itself? When a specific part of the brain is damaged, does the patient lose only a specific category of knowledge, such as vision or language, or can the patient ever lose some of the essence of awareness?
A clinical syndrome called hemispatial neglect may help to answer the question. It is one of the most fascinating, and horrible, syndromes in the medical literature. Neglect was first described early in the 20th century, and over the years much has been learned about it.
Imagine waking up in the hospital after a stroke to find that half your world is gone. The left side of space and everything in it has been erased from your consciousness. You can talk to the people who stand to the right side of your hospital bed, but when they walk to the left side they disappear from your mind. You dress the right side of your body but forget to dress the left. You think you’ve eaten everything on your plate, but have eaten only the food on the right side. You can’t even conceive of a left side of the plate. When someone rotates the plate, food that you didn’t acknowledge before suddenly appears. When you draw a clock, you crush all 12 numbers into the right side of the drawing and don’t notice that anything is wrong. You have no insight into your own condition because, lacking any awareness of a left side of space, you can’t realize what is missing.
This bizarre and crippling syndrome is not simple blindness. After all, blind people and sighted people who close their eyes know about the objects around them. Instead it is a mental blindness. It covers vision, touch, hearing, memory and concept.
Over the years, different varieties of neglect have been described and associated with damage to different brain regions. But the most dense, profound loss of awareness is associated with a region of the cerebral cortex roughly just above the ear on the right side of the brain. Much more rarely, neglect of the right side of space is caused by damage to the same general area on the left side of the brain.
Neglect is a peculiar syndrome. It suggests that awareness is not a unified item, but like many constructs of the brain it can be knocked apart into a right and a left half. It suggests that awareness is constructed at least partially by a specific region of the brain. It suggests a close relationship between awareness and attention.
The findings are controversial. That same general region of the brain has been found to play a role in social thinking — in understanding the minds of other people. Why would a brain area involved in social intelligence also participate in one’s own basic awareness? Which of the rival accounts is correct? I have argued in my scientific writing that the two functions are not rivals, and instead are closely related. Awareness, sentience itself, may be part of the toolkit we use to understand ourselves and each other. It may be a function of our social brain.
In my view, there really is such a thing as a spirit, a soul, but it is not as people have imagined it in the past. The soul is information of a special kind, wrapped up into a complex structure, instantiated in the circuitry of the brain. It is quirky and individual to each of us, and is precious because it is not eternal.
Michael Graziano is the author of God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Reflections on the Spirit World ( Refer to Book Review of this blog)
Anyone who equates myth with superstition would claim that we live in a world that has gone beyond mythology. Science is proud of vanquishing superstition, and a certain vocal contingent of atheists use science to bolster their belief that God is pure superstition. However, mythology is harder to vanquish that that. It crops up in new guises, because myths aren’t superstitions. They are mental templates, operating assumptions, the beliefs that bolster a world view and, above all, a way to explain nature. In any infinite universe, the human mind finds ways to tell a story that will bring the infinite within reach, and myths serve that function.
Sometimes myths are so strong that they pen reality in, building a fence around it and forcing every natural event to stay inside the fence. When God or the gods were the cause of earthly events, the fence was tight and inescapable. But the rise of quantum theory a century ago revealed that even stronger fences were hemming in our sense of reality. We explained the universe through matter and energy governed by physical laws.
In the pre-quantum world this scheme wasn’t theory; it was reality, pure and simple. Everything inside this fence acted the same way. It operated by cause and effect. It never went faster than the speed of light. It conformed to mathematical formulations. It excluded the mushy emotions and shifting moods of subjectivity. Science claimed to have found a model for nature that was based on reason alone. How strange, then, that reason was actually the seed of a new mythology, and even stranger, that this rock-solid system is crumbling all around us.
In previous posts I’ve given the simplest indications of the cracks in the pre-quantum scientific mythology. It turns out that matter has no real existence but is a pattern of waves entangled in the quantum field. It turns out that events are not localized in time and space but have ramifications that go beyond spacetime and travel faster than the speed of light. And in the end, the entire universe, including space and time, emerged from a state of potentiality that transcends visible creation. None of this is disputable, yet we all lead our lives as if the old boundaries hem us in. In fact, these boundaries were self-created. They are part of our accepted mythology.
Seeing what the next stage might be, after the old mythology totally crumbles, falls to a handful of speculative thinkers, many of them physicists, since they are the direct heirs of the quantum evolution. The key ideas that are catching hold, at various stages of acceptance, include the following:
The universe is evolving.
The universe is conscious.
The universe is a living organism.
The way that the cosmos presents itself depends on how you look at it.
Reality conforms to the explanation we impose upon it.
The human mind may be creating what we call reality, which mirrors us but contains infinite possibilities unreachable by the human mind.
Creation may be eternal and infinite, with countless Big Bangs and multiple universes.
Not all of these ideas are compatible with one another, and all are evolving. But the promising thing is that they are coming out into the open, acquiring respectability and therefore leading to dialogue without anyone being ostracized. Which isn’t to say that materialism, the basis of science itself, has been toppled or even lost its firm grip. Speculative thinking is the basis of all original discoveries, not to mention awe and wonder. But on an everyday basis, scientists perform experiments and seek mathematical rigor. Thus the common expression, “Shut up and calculate.” Or, an equally arrogant dismissal that one young physicist received form an elder colleague, “I remember when you did good science.”
Mythology, as was pointed out in the beginning, isn’t superstition — it’s the way we convince ourselves that we have the right explanation. It’s a conceptual fence in which we hope to corral nature. Science will continue to be science, of course, yet the next phase of its evolution needs somebody to look outside the fence. That will surely happen; it’s beginning to now. Even more intriguing is how science and religion are approaching the same obstacle. Science has come to the point where even quantum theory cannot venture. We want to know what gave rise to the universe, what preceded time and space, how randomness is related to design, why the laws of nature mesh so precisely and other ultimate questions. They imply a pre-created state that gave rise to creation, and yet we may never be able to venture there, not even with mathematics. Time and space are tough boundaries to cross when the human brain is a product of processes in time and space.
To go where science wants to go, it needs to become more complete, and for me, it can benefit hugely by expanding into the realm long governed by spirituality. The avenue unexplored by science, even dismissed and denied, is our inner world. “Subjectivity” is a dirty word in science, and yet it can’t be denied that all experience is ultimately subjective. Even science takes place in consciousness. Where else could it take place? Having conceded this obvious point, science needs to ask, “What is consciousness?” The answer to that enormous question is suddenly more urgent. It can no longer be reconciled to the fringes or shrugged off as metaphysics. Unless we know the actual range of human awareness, its source and its capabilities, we will never understand reality. That understanding is the common goal of science and spirituality both, and both are needed to get there.
“I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.” –Yogi Berra
Enlightenment. It’s why you practice, right? To become enlightened? You probably have your own ideas about it.
The end of suffering. The end of karma. The end of confusion. Free from the struggles of life. The end of anger or greed or stupidity. Free from neuroses and neurotic thinking. Ultimate sanity. Know what life is and what life is about. Emptiness. Free from subjective interpretation. See things just as they are. Free from bias and prejudice. Total objectivity. Infallible. Transform all experience into wisdom. Special powers. Complete and total moral integrity. Beyond reproach, beyond question in everything you do. Know exactly what to do in every situation and do it effortlessly. Able to help others out of their misery. Union of emptiness and compassion. Able to change the world, transform society, heal and cure all that is wrong with the world. The leading edge of the best hope for humanity.
It all sounds pretty wonderful.
Enlightenment is a promise of freedom from life as you know it. It’s your ticket out of this mess called “life.” It is something other than what you are experiencing right now. When you are enlightened, all your frustration and difficulties with practice and with life will vanish in the light of your understanding and wisdom.
Aren’t you already enlightened, but just don’t realize it? That’s what some teachers say. It seems that if you don’t know you are enlightened, then you aren’t and if you do know you are then you are. You know you are, because you’ve heard that you are, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. Does that mean that you don’t know that you are enlightened or you do? It’s all a bit confusing, but you know it will all make sense once you are enlightened. Or is it when you know you are enlightened?
Right now, you can’t wait. You work at practice, putting in time on your cushion, going to retreats. You become an “experienced practitioner.” But nothing seems to change. You still get distracted when you meditate. You still react to situations unpredictably. You hear about these extraordinary experiences, non-self, emptiness, sheer clarity, bliss, etc. Maybe you taste them from time to time. But you are still stuck in life, and that can’t be enlightenment. When you hear that so and so has experienced satori or kensho or become a stream-winner or has insight or seen the nature of mind — whatever — they seem to be the same person to you. You can’t really say what is different. And you still have problems in your life. Most of the time you are struggling with the same old same old in your meditation.
You spend a lot of time with your teacher and you see that he or she isn’t free from the problems of life. She is able to guide you in your practice, perhaps very well. His meditation instruction is precise and illuminating. But now and then, you get a glimpse, or more than a glimpse of what seems to be their own struggles with life. Maybe you see them acting inappropriately or even unethically in certain areas. How can that be? Aren’t they beyond that? Aren’t they realized? Aren’t they enlightened?
You begin to wonder about the point of all this work. Have you been deceived? Have you fooled yourself? Where is this freedom that everyone talks about? Yet you continue to practice.
While you may not notice anything changing, something happens. You sometimes notice that situations and interactions that were problems for you are no longer problems, but you don’t really remember when they stopped being problems. You aren’t as hard on yourself, even though you pay much more attention to what you do, what you say, and how you direct your attention. There are long periods of barely discernible changes, and then something shifts profoundly, for no apparent reason.
You see that some problematic behaviors and ways of thinking have dropped away. Others, you realize, are probably not going to drop away, but you aren’t taken in by them anymore. You are much more accepting of yourself and others. You see very clearly how reactions based on survival, getting emotional needs met or being somebody consistently result in suffering and struggle for yourself and those around you. You see this in yourself, and you see it in others. Because you see it so clearly in yourself, you know how it is for others, and your heart goes out to them, even when their behavior is infuriating.
The upshot is that you are a part of the unfolding of life, rather than apart from it. You know contentment, peace, freedom, understanding and compassion, but they are not anything like what you thought they would be. They don’t seem special in anyway, and yet they are. You place less and less value on having certain experiences. It’s more important for you just to be there and to do the best you can, in ordinary situations, and in difficult ones. You stop looking for something different. Life itself points a way and you take it.
The key to becoming fully alive and joyful is to develop our natural capacity for attention and to be fully present here and now. In this informative guidebook to practical Buddhism you discover:
How to live life with equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion, and joy
How to cut through obsessions with the external world, relationships, harmful emotions, pleasure and power, and self
Tried-and-true methods for cultivating active attention with your body and mind.
Have you ever noticed that the words listen and silent are spelled with the same letters? Perhaps this is no accident, because in many ways they mean the same thing. Have you ever talked to someone and walked away feeling enriched because they were such a good listener, even if they were a complete stranger?
This talent is what accounts for some of the best psychologists in the world — and some of the best salespeople. Interestingly, the ability to listen is also the trait most people refer to in a great relationship partner or leader.
My own understanding of the power of listening came about many years ago, when I arrived for an appointment with a client of mine. He was a doctor, was having a bad day, had gotten home late and was running around trying to get ready for me. He and his wife were frazzled, and their 8-year-old daughter was bouncing off the walls, happy to have her parents home and craving their attention.
I remember being acutely aware of how much these people just needed some calm stillness more than anything else. It was one of the first moments where I really started to put my attention consciously on my clients, and I gave my attention 100 percent to this family.
I don’t even remember what we spoke about. I mostly just listened to them. And within about 10 minutes, the doctor’s daughter fell asleep on her mother’s lap and the mother leaned back in her chair. The doctor loosened his tie, his breathing calmed and the frenzied atmosphere in the room relaxed. He turned to me at the end of the appointment and said I must have hypnotized his family. Half joking, he asked me if I could come and do the same thing at 5 p.m. every day.
Have some faith that the universe has brought you and the other person together for a more important reason than what you can get out of it in the moment. And if that’s true, the only way we are going to see that purpose and reason is to become silent, to truly listen to the other person and see what happens next. And silence doesn’t only mean refraining from speaking. It also means quieting the ongoing dialogue in our head — the mental noise — so that we can really focus on another person and what they are communicating to us.
The first thing that people often say to this is, “If I’m not looking out for myself, I’m going to get walked all over!” Many people assume that if they come from a position that isn’t fixed, they’re going to get taken advantage of.
I’ve actually found the opposite to be true: When another person isn’t met with resistance, they then begin to back down from their fixed positions, which creates a space for something new to occur. And in that space, it often becomes easier to find the right course of action, because there isn’t a sense of desperation driving you to try and get something specific from the situation.
It’s also easier to protect yourself and make the right decisions when you’re not coming from that needy place. So, for example, you might be going to a meeting, listening to the other person’s proposal with your full attention and then saying, “No, I can’t do that. It wouldn’t be beneficial for both of us.” It’s not about you walking in and giving away the farm.
Give your attention completely to another person — and see what happens. When you’re in that space, you’ll know exactly what decision to make when it comes to your relationships and your business. Unfortunately, too many of us spend our whole lives waiting to get something from the world so that we can show up as the person we always knew we could be. Deep in our hearts we think there’s something missing. But when we flip that mindset, we can discover that by becoming a giver rather than a taker, we can become agents for change in the world.
Adapted from “Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity” – © 2009 Jeffrey L. Gitterman – All rights reserved – Published by AMACOM Books – A Division of the American Management Association – http://www.amacombooks.org.
When you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you are peeing in the present” – Zen quote that Jeffrey Gitterman, author of Beyond Success Consulting, quoted in my interview with him last year. Gotta love it!!!!! Those zen quotes are profound!! LOL
Music Produced By : Tomiko