THE PATH OF TRANSFORMATION How Healing Ourselves Can Change the World ~ Shakti Gawain

In this powerful book, Shakti brings us an exciting message for the new millennium. Questioning the traditional transcendent spiritual path, and challenging many popular New Age beliefs, she describes the journey we must all make in order to heal ourselves and our planet.

Shakti Gawain quotes from her book The Path to Transformation: How Healing Ourselves Can Change the World.

“We are beginning to open up both individually and collectively, to the realization that it is time to create our lives and our world differently.”

“We must never underestimate the potent impact we each have on the collective consciousness, whether we are taking responsibility for it or not.”

“It is no more possible for one of us to change without changing the rest as it is for a single wave to crest in the ocean without affecting the whole.”

“Through lovingly embracing the full range of our experience — human and divine — we can heal the split that has existed between spirit and form, in ourselves individually and in the whole world.”

“Spiritual healing occurs as we begin to consciously reconnect with our essential being — the wise, loving, powerful, creative entity that we are at our core.”

Interview with Shakti Gawain
Best-selling author and a pioneering force in the world consciousness movement

by Dennis and Janice Hughes, Share Guide Publishers

Shakti Gawain is a noted author, public speaker, educator and retreat leader. She has written many books, such as Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, Path of Transformation and Creating True Prosperity. She currently resides in Marin County, California and Kauai, Hawaii.

Share Guide: Can you discuss the differences and similarities between retreats and vacations?

Shakti Gawain: Vacations generally involve taking a break from one’s work and life, going to a different place and just being able to relax and have some fun. This is a great thing and they are needed. A retreat implies taking a break from one’s life and work and going to a different place and relaxing and having some fun, but it also has an extra implication of going inside oneself, perhaps looking for the deeper meaning or purpose of life or how we can improve our life–or just ways that we can grow and develop.

Share Guide: Why do you think some people choose to go on retreat rather than just on a vacation?

Shakti Gawain: I think these are people who are longing for more self-knowledge–looking towards making some change in their life, and perhaps how to get clarity on what direction or how to do that. Some may be people who are having to mull over specific isssues and problems.

Share Guide: I’m sure all of us feel the increased pace of our modern life, and I’m curious if more than half of the people who come to your retreats actually plan ahead for preventive health maintenance to go on retreats, or what percentage actually wait until they are “breaking down”?

Shakti Gawain: I would say that there’s definitely a sizable minority of people who make a regular practice of going to retreats and workshops and that kind of thing. And then there are others who do it more spontaneously, with no feeling of needing to do it at a particular time.

Share Guide: Do you think that minority has been growing over the years?

Shakti Gawain: I definitely do. I think that this is something that people are finding out really helps them in their life. A lot of times you don’t even know exactly what but there’s a feeling that “I need to do this and I need to be there.” I would say that that’s how a majority of people make the decision.

Share Guide: An inner calling?

Shakti Gawain: Yes.

Share Guide: Well it’s good to think that after 25 years of New Age Journal and Yoga Journal that more of us are starting to stay tuned up.

Shakti Gawain: I work a lot with polarity, opposite energies, and how important it is in life to balance the opposites that we have within ourselves. One of those polarities I work with a lot is what I call “Doing Energy and Being Energy”. Our culture is absolutely devoted to and worshipful of the Doing Energy–we’re all encouraged to do as much as possible and accomplish things and to work toward our goals and to produce. Many of us actually feel like we have to be accomplishing and producing something almost all the time.

We don’t have in our culture a healthy understanding and respect for the value of Being, which is simply being present in the moment, not trying to go somewhere, not trying to accomplish anything, but just present. We have so little of that in our busy lives. In some ways life is so wonderful, we have so many opportunities now to do so many things, and study and learn things and go places, but we’re trying to do it all. Most people I know are pretty stressed out by just having too much to do. So we really really need to cultivate the ancient art of Being.

We need to take some time to relax, get quiet and get present with ourselves in the moment and get present with Nature, and with other people. It’s a way of replenishing ourselves. The goal of replenishing the energy is that we can go out and accomplish things and it’s also a way of connecting to the deeper emotional and spiritual realms in us.

Share Guide: I think that’s a very good point, the Being and the Doing.

Shakti Gawain: It’s going to become more and more important and necessary for people to give retreats to cultivate some of that “Being” time that’s so difficult to find in our busy lives.

Share Guide: Because it’s only going to get busier, you’re saying it’s going to be more important to pay attention.

Shakti Gawain: I think there’s going to continue to be a lot of opportunities and attractions and temptations to be doing things all the time.

Share Guide: That makes sense.This is why many people in the West have a little trouble with meditation at first.

Shakti Gawain: Oh yes. Meditation is the art of learning how to be present with your Self. If you’re not used to doing that, if you’re used to focusing outwardly and accomplishing tasks, then it’s difficult to just sit there and learn how to Be. I find that the best way in our fast paced world for most people to learn Being is to just go out in Nature, because Nature vibrates on that level. Getting out and walking or sitting in a natural environment can really help us shift into a more Being energy.

Share Guide: Shakti, tell me a little bit about your own retreat work. How did you get started, what are some of the highlights in your path, and what are you currently doing?

Shakti Gawain:
I’ve been leading workshops and retreats of various kinds for about 25 years now. I love working with people, and many of the events I do are evening talks, along with workshops in a more urban environment where there are often several hundred people. This is fine, and I enjoy that, but what I love most is working with a smaller number of people, like just a dozen or 15-20 people in a more long-term way–from several days to a week or more–and in a beautiful, natural rural type of setting. In other words, a Retreat. It’s an opportunity for me to work in depth with people in an intimate way.

Over the years I’ve done many kinds of retreats in many different places. Most recently I’ve done a lot of them on the island of Kauai, where I actually have a home, which I find to be one of the most powerful, healing, nurturing and just generally supportive environments that I’ve ever been. It’s very beautiful as well. I also do retreats in California and in other places.

Share Guide:
Isn’t your home base in Marin?

Shakti Gawain: Yes. I do 3 to 4 day retreats and sometimes weekend retreats in California and other places. But my absolute favorite place to work is on Kauai. What I’ve been doing in recent years is weekend retreats. I call them Intensives, but they’re basically retreats. We do a variety of different things. We do meditation and visualization and developing intuition practices, and we do movement, dance, yoga, various physical things, massage… we do excursions on the island, rituals and wonderful things like that. We do a lot of work with the Psychology of Self and Voice Dialogue work, which has come to be a real centerpiece of my work. It’s work that was created by Dr. Hal Stone and his wife Dr. Sidra Stone.
We do one-on-one individual sessions with people as part of the retreat in which we use this Voice Dialogue Work. It’s very powerful. Each person gets two or three individual sessions, and they also watch each other’s individual sessions, so it’s very powerful and very life changing.

Share Guide: Can you explain more about this Voice Dialogue work?

Shakti Gawain: The Psychology of Self is the exploration of the fact that we have within us many different energies, or many different Selves, or you can call them Voices. It’s as if we have a lot of different people living inside us. They each have their own path and their own function and their own purpose, but they sometimes are in conflict with each other. That’s why we feel conflict in our lives. For example, I have a super responsible Self in me–that’s one of my most developed aspects, and that part of me is always taking on responsibility and then shouldering the burden of it. I’m very conscientious about making sure that I do everything that I’m committed to and so forth, which is a very positive quality, but I tend to be too much in that direction. I’m overly responsible.

Share Guide: Does that mean you take on too many things?

Shakti Gawain:
Sometimes too many things, and sometimes I take them too seriously. If I let it go a little, somebody else will handle it or it can get handled tomorrow. I drive myself pretty hard to make sure everything gets done perfectly, and exactly when it’s supposed to. Sometimes I’m just too driven in that respect. It’s too much of a burden. So what I have been working on (and am working on still) is cultivating the opposite energy, the opposite Self in me, the one who is a little more light-hearted and carefree and can play and enjoy and have fun. My job is to balance those so that I am responsible, but can also let go and enjoy myself. That’s just one example of the many different kinds of polarities we have within us. Voice Dialogue work helps us become conscious of and get in touch with the different Selves within us. Some of the Selves within us are very highly developed. Those are called Primary Selves. The ones we deny and try to hide or haven’t developed are called Disowned Selves.

Share Guide: Disowned… the ones that take the back seat?

Shakti Gawain: Yes, the ones that don’t have much say in our lives. Oftentimes they are parts of us that we are afraid of or uncomfortable with, or that we think are bad. For example, if we’re very identified with the strength and self-assertion that would be a Primary Self. That’s what we show the world. Deep down inside of us, there’s a part of us that might feel vulnerable, that has emotional needs, but we’re embarassed about that.

If we really identify with being strong, then we may have disowned all vulnerability. So vulnerability becomes a Disowned Self, when in fact we really need that vulnerability to be able to balance our strength, our power. We’re all human and we all have needs, and we all have vulnerable feelings and energies. We have to acknowledge them or they just go underground and become a problem. So the work is really bringing out all parts of our Self…learning to appreciate and acknowledge all aspects of who we are, and bring a greater harmony and balance into our lives.

Part of this whole thing of having all these selves is that they get reflected back to us by the people we are in a relationship with. If we really identify with one polarity, often we’ll attract into our life somebody whose character is an opposite energy. We’re either very attracted to that person or we’re very uncomfortable and judgmental towards that person. Sometimes first attracted, then uncomfortable and judgmental.

Share Guide: Yes, opposites attract.

Shakti Gawain: If you’re a very active kind of person, you may attract someone into your life who is more laid back and relaxed. And you may even initially be very attracted to that person because they carry that opposite quality that you need more of yourself. But then if you’re in an ongoing relationship with them, very often you get really annoyed and frustrated with them for the exact thing that you were initially attracted to.

Share Guide: So what do you do about that?

Shakti Gawain: You have to remember to recognize that this person is there as your mirror or your teacher. You’ve brought them into your life to show you a part of yourself that you need to develop, so that you can be more balanced. The people that are the most annoying and difficult to deal with can actually be mirrors to show us the exact piece of our Disowned side that we need to bring into our lives. It’s a whole art form, and it’s one of the things I teach in my retreat. It’s how to use your relationships as mirrors so you can see what they’re showing you about the work that you need to do.

Share Guide: Haven’t you just finished a new book?

Shakti Gawain: Yes. I just finished a revision of my book The Path of Transformation which was published a few years ago. Now I’ve revised it for the new Millennium, and that’s coming out any minute now. Also, I just completed another book, Developing Intuition, which is coming out in the Fall of 2000. It’s a very simple, practical guide to how to develop your ability to trust and follow your intuition in a real practical way in your daily life.

Share Guide: Do you have any upcoming events in Northern California or in Hawaii that you’d like to mention?

Shakti Gawain: We have a four-day retreat intensive in July at Westerbecke’s Ranch in Sonoma, California and it’s particularly focused on the topic of Awakening your Creativity. Also, I’m doing a week long intensive on Kauai in August, 2000.

Share Guide:
I talked to the folks at New Age Journal this morning, and they said they were doing something in Hawaii with you.

Shakti Gawain: Oh yes. They did a special event on Kauai for the Millennium and I was a featured speaker for that, and this year they’re going to do a New Year’s retreat. It should be wonderful, and I again will be a real active part of that.

Share Guide:
The last question I have for you is maybe a little off the topic, maybe not. It comes from my currently reading The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill, the environmentalist. I’m wondering if you talk with people about volunteering time in the community and on environmental projects as a step in individual healing?

Shakti Gawain: Absolutely. I think that is very important. What I say to people about that is follow your heart and your passion. If there’s a particular issue that really has a lot of emotion or feeling for you, by all means do that. And also know that by simply discovering your purpose in life, and your creativity, and expressing it in your life, you are making a contribution towards changing and healing the world.
The most important thing of all is working on living more consciously, moment to moment and day to day. A big part of living more consciously is being more aware of how we consume and what we consume and trying to simplify our lives and consume less, not from a place of deprivation but from a place of really caring for the origins of things and bringing our lives into balance.

One of the things I’m especially concerned about is the proliferation of plastic. Even in health food stores, half the food is being sold in plastic containers now instead of cardboard or glass. Try to choose things that are packed within other more biodegradable forms like glass and paper and cardboard and so on.

Share Guide:
I certainly believe in this balancing mind, body and spirit, but as we fill up the planet I feel like the awakened individuals need to go further and work in their communities and on a global awareness. It’s not good enough to just take your vitamins and eat your tofu.

Shakti Gawain: Right.

Share Guide: I feel like we’re moving in a direction where that kind of awareness is going to come in the New Age and Holistic Marketplace and consciousness is going to merge more with the environmentalism.

Shakti Gawain:
I agree. That’s what my book The Path of Transformation is all about actually.

From Plagues to Miracles The Transformational Journey of Exodus, from the Slavery of Ego to the Promised Land of Spirit by Robert Rosenthal, M.D.

“The goal of the Exodus journey is not to bolster a belief in God, but to come to know Him firsthand, to approach Him with open minds and open arms, to encounter Him and experience His Love, and to engage Him in a direct dialogue through Spirit. When we achieve this, we will find that the Promised Land is indeed ours.”

“Wherever you find yourself in life, whatever challenges you may be facing, the transformational journey of Moses and the Hebrews is your journey too. The path to freedom calls out. Why wait? And what better time to begin than now?”

In From Plagues to Miracles, psychiatrist Robert Rosenthal takes a fresh and bold new look at the story of Exodus in which the figures of Moses and Pharaoh represent dueling aspects of the human mind. Pharaoh is the ego-mind: arrogant, capricious, and cut off from God and Spirit. Moses represents the part of the mind that is and has always been in full, direct connection with God. And the Hebrews represent us—all of us, regardless of religious affiliation. Their trials are a mirror of our own spiritual dilemma as we’re tossed back and forth between ego and Spirit— Pharaoh and Moses—all the while trying to find our way to the Promised Land of inner peace and freedom.

The plagues brought on by Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance to freeing the Hebrews are our plagues. They afflict us whenever we bow to the Pharaoh-like ego and accept its fears and desires as our own. Likewise, the miracles performed by Moses are our miracles. They arrive the moment we make the decision to free ourselves from ego and follow instead the guidance of Spirit and the Moses-mind. Viewed in this way, Exodus becomes a travel guide for the spiritual seeker: a powerful roadmap for navigating the different stages of the spiritual journey.

Although remaining faithful to the original Bible text, Dr. Rosenthal borrows generously from spiritual teachers and traditions as diverse as the Roman philosopher Seneca, Zen Buddhism and A Course in Miracles. He spices his accounts of transformation and miracles with personal anecdotes and real-life examples from his psychotherapy patients. If you’ve always felt that there must be more to the Old Testament, but could never sift the spiritual wheat from the thou-shalt-not chaff, then this book is for you. But even if you have little interest in the Bible, the insights offered by From Plagues to Miracles on the nature of the spiritual path and the how-to of miracles would alone make it an invaluable companion for any serious spiritual seeker.

From Plagues to Miracles: The Transformational Journey of Exodus by Robert S.

We have all known bondage in one form or another, we have all suffered plagues, and we all want to be free. In this sense, the biblical book of Exodus is not just the story of Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt 3,000 years ago. . . . It is very much our story, too. The conflict between Moses and Pharaoh is our conflict—an inner struggle played out every day in our own hearts and minds. In From Plagues to Miracles, psychiatrist Robert Rosenthal offers a remarkable new understanding of Exodus in which Moses and Pharaoh represent dueling aspects of the human mind. Forget what you learned in Sunday school. Under Dr. Rosenthal’s keen interpretive lens, Exodus reveals itself as a travel guide for the spiritual seeker; and a road map for navigating the different stages of the spiritual journey—the rough terrain that stands between us and a direct, abiding relationship with Spirit.

Robert Rosenthal, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist and psychotherapist in private practice in the Princeton, New Jersey, area. He has been a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles since 1975 and has served on the board of the Foundation for Inner Peace since 1992. From Plagues to Miracles is his first work of nonfiction.
*trailer produced by Book Candy Studios 😉

Bob Rosenthal – psychiatrist, psychotherapist, screenwriter, Board Member of the Foundation for Inner Peace and Author of “From Plagues to Miracles: The Transformational Journey of Exodus from the Slavery of ego to the Promised Land of Spirit”.

Mind and Consciousness ~ Written by David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva)

Published previously in Light of Consciousness magazine and in the Mountain Path of the Sri Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai.

What is the nature of the mind? How is it related to our deeper consciousness? And, above all, who are we in our real being? What is our true identity or true Self behind the endless stream of thoughts going on inside us?

These have always been the prime questions that we must ask in order to discover the ultimate meaning and purpose of our existence. They are the basis of the seeking of liberation and Self-realization in the Yoga tradition. In Yoga, the Divine is defined mainly as the essence of consciousness. The yogic spiritual quest is a practice of meditation in order to discover that.

Looking at the Mind

Today, we usually look at the mind according to the approaches of modern psychology. We focus on the subconscious mind, memory and past experiences as the measure of our mental state, the ground out of which our thought and emotion develops. Examination of the mind usually consists of trying to understand our personal history, including uncovering hidden or repressed traumatic experiences that may inhibit our functioning in life. In most of current psychology, the personal mind is our real consciousness and somewhere in it our true self or identity can be found.

Modern science similarly identifies mind and consciousness, equating the faculty of thinking with the power of awareness. It takes us back to the basic Cartesian dictum, “I think therefore I am”. It regards consciousness as primarily self-consciousness, the activity of the personal self as, for example, the ability to recognize ourselves in a mirror, which capacity animals, except possibly for some primates, do not seem to have.

On this basis, modern science identifies consciousness with the mind and the mind with the brain. This identification has resulted seeking to improve our mental and emotional functioning through altering brain chemistry with pharmaceutical preparations. Mainstream science usually does not recognize consciousness as a spiritual or cosmic principle apart from the mind, though some trends in the new physics are beginning to suggest this. It is still a largely physical view of the mind that we find in medicine today.

The yogic view of the mind, however, is very different. It is based on meditation and inner experience, rather than outer experimentation. It tries to understand the mind through introspection or turning our awareness within, rather than by analyzing outer mental patterns. It encourages us to observe the mind rather than follow its reactions. It teaches us to understand the process of perception and how it conditions us, rather than to merely examine our memories.

The Yoga tradition also classifies the mind in a different manner. It defines mind in the broadest sense, what is called chitta in Sanskrit, as all aspects of conditioned consciousness. Under the concept of chitta is included reason, emotion, sensation, memory, the instinctual part of the mind, and the ego; all that we ordinarily consider to possess some degree of consciousness within us. Yet under the concept of chitta is also a higher creativity and intuition beyond the ordinary mind and physical consciousness, which few people may develop in a significant manner. Chitta moreover extends beyond the personal mind, to collective and cosmic aspects of mind. Chitta is mind as a cosmic principle, not simply the human mind.

Mind and Consciousness: Two Different Powers

Even more significantly, Yoga radically distinguishes between mind and consciousness, which it regards as two separate but related powers. Yoga regards consciousness, called Chit as something other than the mind or Chitta. This is very different than modern science but also most of the world’s philosophies, which generally identify mind and consciousness.

The mind is an instrument of thinking and sensing on various levels. Mind is called the ‘inner instrument’ or antahkarana in Sanskrit, related to the body which is our outer instrument. The mind is looked upon as the sixth sense after the five bodily senses and is regarded as an organ, not our true being or the basis of our sense of self.

Chit is pure consciousness unmodified by any mental activity. Chit is awareness of what is called the Purusha, the inner Being, for which the mind is but a tool of perception and expression. Yoga similarly regards mind and brain as different though related. The brain is the physical vehicle for the mind, but not the mind itself.

The Purusha is our inner Self while the mind, we could say, is like our computer and the body is like the car we drive. Mind and body are our internal and external instruments but not our real identity. Just as you are not your computer, so too, your true Self and Being is not the mind. The light that allows the mind to function comes from the Purusha. The mind does not have any light of its own. Your sense of self-being, that you are a unique, whole and continuous center of awareness, derives from the inner consciousness, not form the mind.

Mind and Psychology

How we seek to heal the mind depends upon how we look at the mind. The yogic view of psychology, with its emphasis on consciousness rather than mind as our real being, is also different.

Psychology belongs to the mind and the mind can have psychological diseases and imbalances, just as the body can have physical diseases and imbalances. A person’s psychology reflects the condition of their mind, its tendencies, and qualities. The mind always has a psychology because it is a product of time and outer experiences, which leave their characteristic marks upon it. They are classified in Ayurveda and Yogic psychology according to the gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas), doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), the five elements and other energetic factors.

Our true Self or Purusha, however, does not have a psychology because it is unconditioned consciousness, the witness outside of time and the mind. It is beyond all form and qualities. While the mind has mental activity, the inner Being consists of pure unmodified awareness only, like a mirror. This means that if we can go deeply into our awareness to our inner being and light of consciousness, we can move beyond all psychological suffering. The ultimate yogic solution to psychological problems is to raise our awareness to the inner consciousness beyond the mind and its dualities. Though many outer factors of diet, behavior, the breath and the senses can help, it ultimately requires a revolution in our awareness itself from a mind-based consciousness to pure consciousness itself, from Chitta to Chit.

The Question of Self-knowledge

In Yoga, knowledge alone is said to bring about the liberation of consciousness, specifically self-knowledge or the knowledge of our true nature in the Purusha. When we speak of self-knowledge for the personal mind, we are mainly referring to knowledge of one’s personal history, habits and inclinations. Self-knowledge for the inner Being, however, consists of understanding the essence of awareness beyond thought and personal history. Though our thoughts are constantly changing, our inner Being remains the same.

True Self-knowledge is a matter of Being, not of thought or emotion. It is a state of Being, not of events, experiences or ideas known. Our inner Being has no conceptual content, nor is it conditioned by time and action. It is a state of openness, surrender and presence like a steady thread through all our experiences. Contacting it brings us into a state of peace in which the mind and its psychology are naturally put to rest. To reach our inner Being requires a different orientation of our consciousness, a willingness to let go of our personal history and dive into the great Unknown within.

From the standpoint of the Purusha or true Self, one could say that you cannot know yourself. There is no self or personal history to be known which could define you. From the standpoint of the true Self, you can only be your Self. But in being yourself, you become one with all Being. You come to know all things within yourself, in which the mind becomes but an instrument to be used at will or put to rest.

Our inner Being exists beyond time and space, birth and death, mind and body. Yet it is present within us as the ground of consciousness and present all around us as the ground of Being. To truly know one’s Self is to know that inner Being which is the same in all. In that awareness, the mind becomes quiet and passive and the personal self loses its relevance.

In that inner Reality, the mind loses its importance. This is just as when the Sun is shining, one no longer notices the Moon. The reality is self-evident. Nothing needs to be said, discussed or argued about. And the reality is so vast it can never be described. One merges into the experience only.

Self- Realization

The yogic dictum is “I am that I am”, “I am that which is, that which was and that which will be.” “I am therefore I can think.” Yet this “I” is neither me nor you, nor anyone else. One could say that it is God, but it is not the God of any belief, theology or philosophy. It is the Divine Being that is the being of all. It is the Self of existence, the Self-being that is the ocean of which all creatures and all worlds are but waves. In that Self is the resolution of all our problems, conflicts, stress, anxiety and agitation. When one has gone home to one’s true nature, there are no more issues left to resolve.

Yoga defines its supreme goal of liberation as the realization of the inner Self or Purusha. “Knowing only the Purusha can one go beyond death. There is no other path to transcendence.” So knowledge of the Purusha or inner Being is the most important thing in life, not just a knowledge of our mental and emotional tendencies, however valuable these may be for dealing with psychological diseases.

Unless we know our inner Being, we cannot find lasting peace. Knowledge of our being depends upon being, not upon mental activity. The problem is that instead of seeking to know our inner Being, we get caught in our outer becoming. We run after the mental, emotional or physical self and lose the Being Self within. This process is Samsara or the turning of the wheel of sorrow.

Usually we think of Self-realization as the realization of our hidden personal potentials, some special abilities or talents we might not have yet developed. However, yogic Self-realization is the understanding that our true Self is beyond body and mind, which also means beyond psychology, culture and conditioning. It is the dissolution of the personal, psychological self into the Being Self that is not born and does not die.

True consciousness is not the embodied mind, which is a conditioned consciousness, a mere collection of tendencies and activities from our various births. True consciousness is a universal principle and power like space. It cannot be limited to any body or mind. The mind can at best reflect it, which requires that the mind be still, subtle and sensitive within. We must learn to move from embodied consciousness or mind, to the non-embodied universal consciousness, in which we transcend our personal self to the universal Self. This occurs when we go to the root of the mind and discover the light of awareness that radiates through it.

Mind and Self-realization

For such higher Self-realization, the mind plays a crucial role. The mind can be the instrument for either bondage or liberation, ignorance or enlightenment. If we turn the mind towards the external world as the reality, it becomes a force of attachment and sorrow. If we turn the mind within to the inner Being as the reality, it slows down and comes to reflect that higher reality. The mind becomes a mirror for the light of the Self to shine.

So turning the mind within is the essence of Yoga and meditation. For this the mind must be first brought to a one-pointed state. A fragmented or distracted mind cannot turn within. This inward turning process can be looked upon very simply as immersing the mind in the deeper consciousness of the inner Being that dwells within the heart.

The mind’s knowledge is conceptual or thought based. It results in facts, data, information, ideals, theories, opinions, concepts or formulas. Our inner Being has a higher kind of knowledge, which is radically different from what the mind can know. Our inner being has a special “knowledge by identity’, in which is not colored by thought and its preconceptions.

Through one’s inner Being, one can merge into the inner Being of all that one comes in contact to through the body and senses. For most of us, this is a very difficult condition to imagine. But whenever the mind becomes totally concentrated, it experiences a quantum leap in awareness and a special knowledge arises through the inner unity of the seer and the seen. This inner knowledge through identity is the real yogic knowledge that frees us from all bondage and suffering.

All that the mind knows is simply thought, which is name and form, and but a modification of the mind. True knowledge is knowledge of the Being, which arises through pure consciousness when mental activity comes to rest, when the mind becomes cool, calm and silent.

From Mind to Consciousness

We must learn to move beyond the mind to pure consciousness, which is to return to our true nature, our inner Being. It is to rest in the silence and peace within that no thought, opinion, belief or conclusion can touch. It is to enter into the realm of Being and direct experience, where no words can go, which leaves no outer trace, where one becomes everything and nothing.

The mind is an excellent tool and instrument for consciousness. It has a wonderful capacity for action, expression, memory and coordination of our outer actions. But if we try to understand consciousness through the mind, we fall into spiritual ignorance and confusion. We wrongly identify our true Self and Being with our outer being. However, if we abide in pure consciousness, then the mind has its place to help us function in life. But the mind no longer throws its tendencies and impulses upon us as our real motivation.

Learn to discriminate between mind and consciousness. Learn to witness the mind. Dwell as the seer of the mind and its modifications. This is the Yoga of meditation that empties the mind of its conditioning and allows us to rest in our true nature, to see Reality, and to go beyond death.

David Frawley, otherwise known as Vamadeva Shastri, is a US citizen by birth and a Hindu by conviction. He sees his life work as forming a bridge between these two widely opposing cultures, and he does so with a rare dedication and thoroughness. An acknowledged Vedantin, Frawley is an expert in ayurveda, Vedic astrology, yoga, and tantra , all of which, he says, have their basis in Vedanta. Indeed it is the interdisciplinary approach to Vedanta that he sees as his particular contribution in demystifying eastern spirituality. Frawley has written a number of books on all these disciplines, including Yoga and Vedanta, and Ayurveda and the Mind. His latest books include Vedantic Meditation, and Yoga for your Type.

Frawley speaks out ardently in favor of India finding its own dharmic solutions rather than borrowing western concepts. He has written many books on the subject including Hinduism and the Clash of Civilisation, and The Myth of the Aryan Invasion. He sees modern civilization as doomed and envisages the dawn of a planetary culture linked by consciousness. Eastern values have a key role to play in fashioning this new culture, he says. Frawley is associated with the Naimisha Research Institute for Vedic Studies in Bangalore, India, and is the founder-director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Sante Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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