10 Shockingly Simple, Life-Changing Principles of Spiritual Awakening by JEFF FOSTER

Photo by S. Kajihara Photography

“I truly attained absolutely nothing
from complete, unexcelled enlightenment!”

~ The Buddha

Spiritual awakening is not a state, experience or goal to reach in the future. As the Buddha taught, it is not a superhuman achievement or attainment. You don’t have to travel to India to find it. It is not a special state of perfection reserved for enlightened beings, the lucky or the privileged few. It is not an out-of-body experience, and it does not involve living in a cave, detaching yourself from the realities of this world. It cannot be transmitted to you by a fancy guru, nor can it be taken away or lost. You do not have to become anyone’s disciple or follower. It is a constant and ancient invitation – throughout every moment of your life – to embrace yourself exactly as you are, in all your glorious imperfections. It is about being present, coming out of the epic story of past and future (“the story of my life”) and showing up for this precious moment, knowing that even your feelings of non-acceptance are accepted here. It is about radically opening up to this extraordinary gift of a life, embracing both the pain and the joy of it, the bliss and the sorrow, the ecstasy and the overwhelm. Knowing that you are life itself – vast, awake, alive, free – never separate from the Whole.

Awakening is not a destination – it is your birthright, your nature.

Here are some simple principles:

There is only THIS; the present scene of the movie of your life. Come out of the epic story of time and space, past and future, regret and anticipation, and the seeking of different states and experiences, even the search for spiritual enlightenment. Relax your habitual focus on ‘what’s gone’, ‘what’s not here yet’ – things you cannot possibly control from where you are. Come out of the story of ‘My Life’ and allow yourself to be fascinated by what is alive, here, right now. Be curious about this very alive dance of thoughts, sensations, feelings and impulses that is happening where you are. Remember, Now is the only place from which true answers can eventually emerge. The present moment is your true home, prior to time and space. It is all there is; the calm in the midst of the storm.

Pain is not the real problem; the real problem is our thinking about pain, our resistance to discomfort, our attempt to escape it all and reach an imagined future. The real problem begins when we start ruminating on our pain, our sadness, our fears, our anger; brooding over our discomforts, rewinding and fast-forwarding the movie of our lives! We chew on yesterday’s and tomorrow’s sorrows, rather than directly exploring and experiencing today’s experiences as they arrive. We add an unnecessary layer of rumination and resistance to life, and this creates suffering. The invitation? Come out of past and future, seeking and striving, and meet life in the raw, right now, without judgement, and without the expectation that ‘peace’, ‘relaxation’, ‘enlightenment’ or any kind of shift will result. Meet the moment on its own terms; see it all as a gift. Show up, for the pleasant and unpleasant, the pleasurable and the painful, without an agenda.

See thoughts and sensations as neutral and impersonal events in awareness. Just like sounds that we hear, thoughts and physical sensations arise and disappear spontaneously, like waves in the ocean of You. They cannot be controlled, deleted, or escaped. Cultivate the same gentle attitude towards thoughts and sensations as you already have towards sounds. Meet all thoughts and sensations with an attitude of kindness and curiosity. See them as welcome guests in your presence.

Thoughts are not you, and they are not reality; they are only suggestions, possibilities, rumors, propaganda, judgements, voices, images, rewinds and fast-forwards coming and going – clouds in the vast sky of you. Don’t try to still, silence or stop, drop, delete or control them. Be the space for them, even if they are very active right now! Remember, if you notice thoughts, if you are mindful of them, you are not trapped in them. They do not define you. You are the silent container, not the contained. Be what you are – thought’s unchanging embrace, the vastness in which thoughts can come and go as they please.

Breathe into uncomfortable sensations; give them dignity. Honor them rather than closing off to them, starving them of warmth. On the in-breath, imagine or feel your breath moving into the neglected and tender area, infusing it with life and love. Fill the uncomfortable area in your body with oxygen, warmth and dignity. Don’t try to ‘heal’ the sensations, or even ‘let go’ of them. They want to be met, honored, included in the present scene. Assume that even discomfort holds intelligence; that it’s not ‘against’ you. Know that true joy is not the absence or opposite of sadness or pain, but the willingness to embrace it all.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that an unpleasant thought or feeling will go away; it may stay awhile. Don’t try to accept it (as this is often resistance in disguise) but acknowledge that it is ALREADY accepted, already here, already part of the scene. Treat it as if it perhaps will always be here! This removes the pressure of time (trying to make it go away, wondering why it’s “still here”). It IS here, now. Bow before THIS reality. Be curious. And allow any urges, any feelings of frustration, boredom, disappointment or even despair, to come up too and be included. They are all part of the present scene, not blocks. Even a feeling of blockage is part of the scene!

In reality, there is no ‘always’ and no ‘never’. Be mindful of these words; they are lies, and can create a sense of urgency and powerlessness; they feed the story of seeking and lack. There is no ‘rest of my life’, no ‘for years’, no ‘all day long’. There is only Now, your only place of power. Sometimes even thinking about tomorrow is just too much work. Be here.

Often we focus so much on the goal or destination that we forget the journey, disconnect from each precious step, and stress is created, the sense that we are ‘Not There Yet’. Yet joy can only be found in the here and now, and has nothing to do with goals, destinations, or getting what you want. Take the focus off the 10,000 steps to come, the 10,000 steps you have not yet trodden, the 10,000 things that are missing right now, and remember the present step, this ancient living ground, your own intimate presence. Breathe. Feel the life in your body. Often we don’t know where we are headed, and that’s perfectly okay. Befriend any uncertainty, doubt, trepidation that you feel; learn to love this sacred place of no answers. It is alive, and creative, and full of potential.

If you realize that you’re lost in a story, that you’re disconnected, that you’ve forgotten the moment, celebrate. You have just woken up from a dream. A great intelligence is alive in you, a power to realize and connect. You have stepped out of millions of years of conditioning. Don’t punish yourself for forgetting, but celebrate your ability to remember! The moment doesn’t mind that you forgot it! Forgetting is a perfect scene in the movie. Allow yourself to forget, sometimes! Be humbled by the journey rather than trying to be ‘perfect’. Doubt, disappointment and disillusionment will be constant friends along this pathless path. There is no destination in presence, no image of ‘success’ to live up to. You cannot go wrong, when there is no image of ‘right’.

You are unique; your journey is wholly original. We may all be expressions of the very same ocean of consciousness, but at the same time, we are all unique expressions of that very ocean, totally unique in our wave-ness! Don’t compare yourself with anyone else! When you start comparing, you devalue your own unique, irreplaceable gifts, talents and truths and disconnect from your unique present experience. Don’t compare this moment with any image of how it could, should, or might have been. Healing is possible when you say YES to where you are now, even if it’s not where you dreamed you would be ‘by now’. Trust, and trust sometimes that you cannot trust. Perhaps even your inability to trust can be trusted here, and even the feeling that you cannot hold the moment, is itself already being held…

Source: http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/

Coming from the Advaitic/Awareness Teachings? Special Pointers by Greg Goode

When I began to study the emptiness teachings in earnest, I had already been familiar with the advaitic awareness-style teachings for many years. By “awareness-style teachings” I mean the teachings for which global, non-phenomenal awareness or Brahman is a foundational element. These teachings would include traditional Shankaracharyan Advaita-Vedanta, as well as the teachings coming from Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ranjit Maharaj, Krishna Menon (Sri Atmananda) and others. I was familiar with all of these.

So when I began to study the emptiness teachings, I found it altogether natural to equate the “emptiness” in the new teaching with the “awareness” mentioned in my earlier teachings. This actually caused confusion on my part, and made it much harder to understand what even the very best emptiness teachers were talking about.

So I thought I would put together these pointers in case they might help spare you the confusion I experienced!

In the awareness teachings you often see lists of names for the un-nameable. Sometines they are capitalized, sometimes not: awareness, consciousness, the un-nameable, reality, truth, being, clarity, God, love, knowledge, thisness, oneness, the singularity, I, the I-principle, and sometimes even emptiness or “emptyfullness.” They are all used more or less synonymously to point to the single reality that is beyond pointing, but which is what the self and everything is made out of.

If you are used to these teachings and then attend a class or pick up a book on emptiness, it will be almost inevitable for you to perform a mental substitution as you take in the new teachings. You’ll hear “emptiness” and say to yourself, “awareness.”

It took me a while to understand this, but the emptiness teachings do not think of themselves as a version of the awareness teachings. When the emptiness teachings say, “emptiness” they do not mean “awareness” at all. They are not referring to anything beyond phenomena, which baffled me at first. Instead, the emptiness teachings refer to something more like the impermanence of phenomena, or the contingency, non-objectivity, or relationality of phenomena.

The Truth?
If you begin studying the emptiness teachings after spending time with the awareness teachings, you may start to wonder, “OK, so which teaching is true? They seem so different. Either there is global awareness or there isn’t.” How are such questions answered from within the awareness teachings themselves? Depending on the variety of awareness teaching, the reaction to questions like these might very well assert that they are a non-issue: these questions, like any mentations, may be said to be nothing more than arisings in global awareness. Therefore, the questions can’t possibly be relevant. Notice that when the questions are viewed in this way, the effect is not a move toward the question but a move away from the question. This move-away amounts to a statement that already assumes the teaching to be true.

The emptiness teachings, however, tackle such questions more critically and profoundly. Emptiness teachings do not take themselves for granted as true. Instead, they submit themselves to their own investigation. Emptiness teachings entail a radical critique of the notions of objective truth and independence. This is part of how one realizes that emptiness is empty. The teachings look at themselves. Nagarjuna is able to say, “If I had a position, no doubt fault could be found with it. Since I have no position, that problem does not arise.” The teachings allow one to investigate how this can be. The self-examining reflexive process becomes part of the teachings, and brings deep peace about questions such as “Which teaching is true?”

There are similarities between the two teachings which made me at first think they were identical with each other. For example, here are some similarities:

In the awareness teachings, realizing that you are this very same awareness that constitutes the entire world is the goal, or at least one way to describe it. In the emptiness teachings, realizing that you and all phenomena are empty is the goal. And in both cases, realizing the goal leads to peace, freedom and happiness.

Awareness and emptiness are both valorized, key terms in their respective teachings. The terms even sound a little bit alike.

According to both teachings, persons and other phenomena do not exist objectively. Whether it is a body, a material substance, a thought or a concept, it is held by both teachings not to exist in an independent way.

Not all awareness teachings are the same in this respect, but in the traditional Advaita Vedanta teachings as well as in the Atmanandan direct-path teachings, self-inquiry includes focused inferential activities such as logical analysis along the way to realization. And the emptiness teachings have this focused inferential, analytic feature as well.

Both sets of teachings originated in ancient India. In fact, Gautama, who later became Shakyamuni Buddha and the founder of Buddhism, was raised in the Vedic Hindu tradition, which gave rise to the Vedantic teachings. It’s sort of like Jesus being Jewish. (By the way, the West has teachings that are surprisingly similar to Buddhist emptiness teachings, for example the teachings of Sextus Empiricus, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty, which developed independently.)


Where to study the teachings
Awareness teachings. Awareness teachings are very easy to find these days. There are satsangs, retreats, workshops, conferences, FaceBook, Google+, portal sites, networks of friends, and many personal websites. And, of course, there are quite a few books and some publishers specializing in these teachings.

Emptiness teachings. As I write this in January 2012, emptiness teachings are much harder to come by. One must usually attend teachings at a Buddhist dharma center, and then not all dharma centers have classes in emptiness. Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist centers may have emptiness classes, but sometimes these classes are given only in the Tibetan or Chinese languages. There are some classes in Madhyamika or Buddhist philosophy taught in colleges and universities. And sometimes professors will offer public, non-academic seminars. As for writings, when one includes the Western varieties of what we’re calling emptiness teachings (which include various kinds of non-essentialist areas of culture), then there are writings that number in the thousands. Depending on the author (whether Eastern or Western), the reading can be quite challenging.

Essence/No Essence
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness is said to be the essence of all things. In fact, “things” aren’t really things at all; there is awareness only. The sum and subsance of everything is awareness. Nondual inquiry often proceeds in a reductive fashion, where one looks at the world, body and mind, and experiences in different ways that there can’t be any separate or distinct reality to any of it. Everything consists of awareness only.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, there are no essences. Things are said to be empty, but they aren’t said to be made out of emptiness. Physical things are composed of various pieces and parts and constituents, all of which are empty. Emptiness is not a substance of any kind. Rather, it is a name for how things exist — in an interdependent fashion.

Self/No Self

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness=I and I=awareness. Awareness is the Self.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, I am said to be empty, but I am not made of emptiness. When the emptiness teachings say that there is no self, they are negating the idea of a partless, seamless, unified, independently existing essence that is supposed to be the basis of identity through time and space. That kind of self cannot be found anywhere, no matter how closely one looks. But the empty self is said to exist. This is the self that is a convenient, informal designation. It’s a placeholder, a bit of shorthand to refer to a constantly changing psychophysical complex. And underneath this complex there is no fundamental substance or nature. (Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings, such as the Tathagatagarbha and the Dharmakaya doctrines, come very close to affirming a Vedantic-like, Atman-like Self. But the emptiness teachings from Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti and Tsong-kha-pa do not affirm anything like this. The congruent Western emptiness teachings do not posit any essential, Atman-like self either.)

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, it is sometimes said that appearances depend on awareness. But it is never said that awareness depends on appearances. Awareness stands on its own, never depending on anything else. Ultimately there IS nothing else. Any dependence is unilateral only.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, dependencies are bilateral. Not only do things depend on emptiness; emptiness depends on things as well. The fact that emptiness depends on things is why emptiness is empty: it is not free-floating or independent. Emptiness depends on its base of designation (such as the cup), as well as upon cognition and verbal convention. It depends on being labelled as such.

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, there are never said to be many global awarenesses. The nondualist slogan says, “Not two.”

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, there are many emptinesses, not one large general emptiness. Each thing has its own emptiness, its own absence of inherent existence. The cup is one thing; the saucer is another things. The emptiness of the cup is one thing; the emptiness of the saucer is another thing.

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness is totally beyond time. It is never created and never destroyed.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, each thing’s emptiness lasts only as long as the thing itself. So the emptiness of the cup comes and goes with the cup.

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, nonduality is related to the insight that experience itself, the self and the world are essentially nothing but awareness, and there aren’t two or more awarenesses. Nonduality here has a lot to do with singularity.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, nonduality refers not to singularity but to the lack of dualistic extremes. Emptiness avoids both extremes: essentialism (the claim that things exist inherently) and nihilism (the claim that things are utterly void and without any kind of existence). Whereas awareness teachings say, “One” or “Not two,” the emptiness teachings say, “Not even one,” or “Neither one nor other than one.”

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, realization of the nature of the Self is something that happens once per lifetime. Depending on the teaching, there might be several different stages to this realization, but regardless of the process, it is not something that can be repeated (or needs to be). In fact, it is often said that from the standpoint of “after” realization (note the quotation marks), nothing ever happened. Who could it have happened to? Oftentimes, depending on the particular awareness teaching, there is not a lot to say about the process or the person who undergoes the process.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings there is a lot to say. Whether before or after realization, it is not regarded as unwarranted to speak of the conventionally existent person. The conventionally existent person is an informal designation based upon the essenceless, fluctuating assembly of psychophysical parts. In the spirit of this informal designation, the person exists (conventionally). This person is the one who suffers, meditates on emptiness and does other practices, and who realizes the emptiness of the self. It is all conventional, including the Buddhist teachings themselves.

Another difference is that the realization of emptiness can happen many times. Each realization, even a tiny one, promotes lightness, vibrancy and openness of heart. There can be more than one because to realize emptiness is to realize the interdepenence of what one thought was fixed and independent. Since there are many ways for things to depend on each other, there are many different ways these interdependencies can be seen and realized. Each realization strengthens one’s insight.

Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings distinguish between inferential realization of emptiness, which happens through the mediation of a concept, and direct realization of emptiness, which happens unmediated by concepts. One’s first direct realization of emptiness, according to these teachings, eliminates a significant part of one’s afflictive emotions forever. But this direct realization can be repeated many times (even over lifetimes of rebirths according to some Mahayana teachings), so that compassion is increased and the lingering roots of ignorance can be eradicated. The point here is not so much exactly what happens according to certain teachings, but rather that realizing emptiness is something that can happen many times. It even happens after one’s own suffering has come to an end. Why continue if one’s suffering has ceased? This is related to the Bodhisattva ideal, according to which one devotes one’s energies to the eradication of others’ suffering.

Talking about realization
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, it is quite common to talk about one’s own realization or other aspects of one’s spiritual state. Often this is part of a teacher’s teachings. “I did it; you can too.”

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, this is rarely heard, if ever. Buddhist teachers may talk about the realization of someone in the past, and you might hear how difficult and earth-shattering this realization is. But people tend not to talk about their own case. At least I have never heard it. In over 15 years of studying these teachings, working with teachers, visiting temples and monasteries, and reading thousands pages of emptiness teachings, I can’t recall even one time that someone said, “Back when I directly realized emptiness….”

The Christian Meaning Of Enlightenment, Father Richard Rohr

Father Richard Rorh
The Christian Meaning of Enlightenment
Science and Nonduality Conference, 2011, San Rafael, CA USA

Richard presents the similarities, the differences, and the complementarities between the Eastern and Western understandings of transformation. Some have called the goal enlightenment, some salvation, some ecstasy, nirvana, or heaven. What is the goal of the spiritual journey according to the main line Christian tradition? What Christian spirituality called the unitive way was often described as non-dual consciousness by Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Are we often seeking the same thing? How can we honor and respect each of these spiritual traditions?

Second Axial Bodies, Rev. Matthew Wright

Published on Jan 21, 2015
Many thinkers today believe we are entering a “Second Axial Age”—a great shift in consciousness and spirituality equal to that which produced the headwaters of our great religious traditions between roughly 800-200 BCE. This shift is related closely to the process of globalization, and our emerging sense of oneness—we are one human family, one planetary body, one intricately interwoven tapestry of life.

While the First Axial Age opened for us the possibility of the transcendent and a personal quest for enlightenment or salvation, it also tended to break our earlier, primal sense of collective identity (rooted in tribe) and our deep, felt connection to Earth. In this next shift, we are picking that earlier sensibility back up, not at the tribal, but at the global level. In the process, our religions are being transformed.

Rather than being called to step into decline and death, however, they are being asked to offer their practices of devotion and transformation in the shared service of our collective awakening. The blessings, spiritual treasures, and “mystical bodies” of our great religions hold the tools needed to carry us into this next phase of spiritual evolution. They will only flow forward, however, when freed from the exclusivist identities and superiority complexes that have plagued their histories and that do violence to the single human body we are in the process of becoming.

Profound interspiritual permeability will characterize the next phase of religious understanding. Each tradition will have a vital body of practice to continue in the service of the human body. What will this look like for individual traditions? How do independent religious
bodies begin to interrelate and evolve? Exploring Christianity as an example, we will work with key thinkers such as Teilhard de Chardin, Bede Griffiths, and Raimon Panikkar.

The Rev. Matthew Wright is an Episcopal priest working to renew the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider interspiritual framework. Alongside his practice of Christianity, he draws deeply from the sacred worlds of Islamic Sufism and Vedanta. Matthew currently lives at Bluestone Farm, a ministry of The Community of the Holy Spirit, and serves as priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Brewster, NY. You can follow his monthly column, Belonging, at http://www.contemplativejournal.com.

Personal Transitions: Beyond the Comfortable into the Real by Steve Ahnael Nobel

Personal Transitions is a practical and engaging book based on a fusion of spirituality, myth, story, case studies, practical exercises, visualization and meditation. Includes various transition stories including: near death experiences, accidents, prison, war, psychological breakdown, and various awakening experiences. The basic premise of this book is that awakening and growth tends to happen in two ways: firstly by following our heart and intuition and expanding into new adventures; and secondly through experiencing times of great uncertainty, chaos, and crisis.

During such times life may seem to make little or no sense. When life shifts, either through personal volition or otherwise, we are helped to gain a new perspective and live from the heart rather than the head. Another word for life shift is transition, a process where life changes on the outside and also on the inside. Transition is part of the growing up process and contains elements of soul and biology. We are here to grow physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And within the greater context of global awakening personal transitions are becoming increasingly more common.

Steve Nobel is a co-director of Alternatives (12 years) – a not for profit organisation based in St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London W1.

Steve is also a personal and business coach who specialises in working with authors, creative clients, and individuals in transition in their work life.
He is an interviewer and has many free interviews with spiritual authors available on his website. He also has a number of free podcasts available on his book The Enlightenment of Work and other topics.
He is the author of three non-fiction published books and is currently writing his fourth called Big Transitions.

Sonia Doubell Interviews Steve Nobel “The Enlightenment of Work”

Sonia Doubell Interviews Steve Nobel “The Enlightenment of Work” for The Secret Bliss.

Steve was a director of the highly successful Alternatives program, based in St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London W1 for 12 years (2000-2012). He is the author of three non-fiction books and has completed a fourth called Big Transitions which is now waiting to be published. He is a master practitioner in Business NLP and a coach specialising in working with authors. Steve runs creative writing workshops and retreats in the UK and Europe.
For more information visit http://www.stevenobel.com

Karma: What It Is, What It Isn’t, Why It Matters by Traleg Kyabgon

Shambhala Publications | 06/30/2015

By now, we’ve all heard someone say, “It must have been his karma” or “She had bad karma.” But what is karma, really? Does karmic theory say that we are helpless victims of our past? Is all karma bad, or can there be good karma too? Is reincarnation the same as the Buddhist theory of rebirth?

In this short and eminently readable book, Traleg Kyabgon answers these questions and more by elucidating the Buddha’s teachings on karma and rebirth. He distinguishes the Buddhist view of karma and rebirth from related notions of karma and reincarnation found in the Hindu tradition, explains why the notion of karma is indispensable to the theory and practice of Buddhism, and demonstrates how karmic theory provides a foundation for morality that doesn’t require belief in God. Throughout he shows how to work with karma intelligently to bring about beneficial changes in the way we relate to our thoughts, feelings, and circumstances.

Traleg Kyabgon (1955–2012) was born in Eastern Tibet and educated by many great masters of all four major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the founder of the Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute, which is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, with a major practice center in upstate New York and a practice community in New York City. He taught extensively at universities and Buddhist centers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia beginning in 1980, and is the author of numerous books that present Buddhist teachings to Western readers, including The Essence of Buddhism and Mind at Ease.

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX interviewed by Samuel Bercholz

Published on Apr 15, 2012
About Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche was recognised as the ninth incarnation of the Traleg lineage and enthroned as Abbot of Tra’gu Monastery. Rinpoche has undergone rigorous scholastic and meditative training under various Tibetan Kagyü and Nyingma masters in India and came to Australia in 1980 where he subsequently established Kagyü E-Vam Institute in 1982.

Rinpoche regularly conducts courses and retreats and has travelled extensively in the U.S.A., S.E. Asia and Europe conducting lectures and courses. Rinpoche is the author of various books including the best selling The Essence of Buddhism and The Practice of Lojong.

About Samuel Bercholz

Samuel Bercholz is a senior teacher in the Kagyu, Nyingma, and the Shambhala lineages of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He has taught Buddhist meditation and philosophy courses and Shambhala Training courses throughout North America, Europe and Australasia since the early 1970s.

He is the founder of Shambhala Publications, the leading publisher of Buddhist books in the English language, a founding trustee of The Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and co-editor of The Buddha and His Teachings. He has taught at the Buddhist Summer School since 2003.

Responding to Situations from our Deepest Love and Understanding

Published on Jan 30, 2015
A discussion about how to deal with situations in a way that is consistent with our true nature.

Adyashanti – Awaken to the Infinite

Rest in the Timeless – Full Lecture

Published on Jan 28, 2015
With an introduction from Jack Kornfield, for the keynote address to the International Transpersonal Association conference, Ram Dass reflects on the predicament our technology has created. He suggests steps we need to make within ourselves to become a force of transformation in the world

The Buddha’s Wife: The Path of Awakening Together By Janet Surrey and Samuel Shem

June 30, 2015

As the category of women’s spirituality continues to grow, The Buddha’s Wife offers to a broad audience for the first time the intimate and profound story of Princess Yasodhara, the wife Buddha left behind, and her alternative journey to spiritual enlightenment.

What do we know of the wife and child the Buddha abandoned when he went off to seek his enlightenment? The Buddha’s Wife brings this rarely told story to the forefront, offering a nuanced portrait of this compelling and compassionate figure while also examining the practical applications her teachings have on our modern lives.

Princess Yasodhara’s journey is one full of loss, grief, and suffering. But through it, she discovered her own enlightenment within the deep bonds of community and “ordinary” relationships. While traditional Buddhism emphasizes solitary meditation, Yasodhara’s experience speaks of “The Path of Right Relation,” of achieving awareness not alone but together with others.

The Buddha’s Wife is comprised of two parts: the first part is a historical narrative of Yasodhara’s fascinating story, and the second part is a “how-to” reader’s companion filled with life lessons, practices, and reflections for the modern seeker. Her story provides a relational path, one which speaks directly to our everyday lives and offers a doorway to profound spiritual maturation, awakening, and wisdom beyond the solitary, heroic journey.
Janet Surrey, PhD, is a Buddhist dharma leader and clinical psychologist internationally known for her work on relational theories of women’s psychological development, diversity, mothering, adoption, and substance abuse. Among other venues, Surrey has taught at Harvard Medical School and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. She is the author of several books. She currently divides her time between Boston and Tierra Tranquila, Costa Rica.

Samuel Shem (a.k.a. Stephen Bergman), MD, is the author of several books of fiction including the bestseller The House of God. He is a doctor, novelist, playwright, and activist. A Rhodes Scholar, he was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for three decades and founded the Bill W. and Dr. Bob Project in the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School. He divides his time between Boston and Tierra Tranquila, Costa Rica.

Panel – Using Entheogens on the Spiritual Path

Published on Jan 27, 2015

A panel with Bob Jesse, Tom Pinkson, Merrill Ward with Lyn Hunstad as a moderator.

This panel discussion will explore how entheogens can be an aid on the spiritual path and to help you evaluate if this work is appropriate for you. Some of the topics to be examined include: How entheogens can assist us in moving forward spiritually; Key requirements for preparing a productive experience, short term and long term; Contra indicators, or when it is not a good idea to use entheogens; The importance of integration, knowing where support is and is not, and dealing with integration challenges. There will be time for questions and answers, as well as for participants to share how entheogens have supported them on their spiritual path.


Does Consciousness need a Brain? – Evidence for Reincarnation

Published on Oct 5, 2014

Dr. Bruce Greyson reports of cases that suggest that consciousness does not need a physical brain and in fact not even a physical body. Presented at the “Cosmology and Consciousness Conference” hosted by Upper TCV, Dharamsala, in 2011
This video is from http://www.scienceformonks.org
On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/sciencef…

What is Meant by ‘Self Remembering’?

Published on Jan 27, 2015

A conversation exploring what is true self-remembering


LOVE – The Underground River : DVD Format: ~ Rupert Spira

Editorial Reviews
About two years ago, before he began to teach, Rupert Spira gave us an unpublished manuscript entitled “The Transparency of Things.” It deeply moved us. So pregnant with “glimpses” and timeless recognition, it took us three months to digest the book’s contents. Our interactions regarding the final content of The Transparency of Things gave birth to a series of spontaneous conversations. Filled with vitality, we turned on some cameras simply as an invitation for others to share in this intimate dialogue. The resulting film offered a more direct experiential approach to the teaching of non dual wisdom. It was heralded as a “hands on,” real time exploration of Presence. This new 2 disc DVD set is a continuation of our initial encounters, mining sensation, perception, thought and feeling for the holy grail: the immediate and direct experience of our true nature. Once again, we humbly offer these exchanges for your viewing pleasure in the hopes that we might share this joy of being with you.

Love The Underground River trailer

Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love by Stephan Bodian (Author)

Happiness is your birthright, your natural state. Beneath all the frightening and depressing stories you tell yourself lies a deeper level of intrinsic peace and well-being. Mindfulness teachers insist that if you practice certain meditations daily for months or years you’ll gradually get happier. But there’s a more direct approach—just turn around and recognize the inherent perfection and completeness of this moment right now, just as it is. This is the secret to fulfillment that the great masters and sages have taught for millennia—and it’s available to anyone who reads this book.

Drawing on his own awakening and his years of study with teachers of the nondual wisdom traditions of Zen, Dzogchen, and Advaita Vedanta, spiritual teacher Stephan Bodian offers powerful teachings and guided meditations designed to point you directly to your radiant true nature, beyond the mind, which is compassionate, joyful, and undisturbed by the roller-coaster ride of life. Prior to every experience and identity lies the ultimate experiencer, the one who is eternally wakeful and aware—and that is what you are!

If you came to mindfulness in search of spiritual awakening, here’s your bridge beyond technique. If you’re tired of efforting to get somewhere else, learn how to take “the backward step” to rest and abide in your own natural wakefulness and love. And if you’re already familiar with the “direct approach” and want to follow it all the way to enlightenment, this book will guide you home.

An internationally known author, psychotherapist, and teacher of mindfulness and spiritual awakening, Stephan leads regular retreats and offers spiritual counseling and mentoring to people throughout the world. His popular guidebook Meditation for Dummies has sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide, and his digital program Mindfulness Meditation (with Mental Workout) has been praised in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. His new book, Beyond Mindfulness, is now available on Amazon.com. Stephan trained for many years as a Buddhist monk and edited the magazine Yoga Journal for a decade. His other books include Buddhism for Dummies and Wake Up Now.


Stephan Bodian – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Published on Jan 26, 2015
Stephan Bodian offers satsangs, intensives, and retreats in the tradition of his teachers, Jean Klein and Adyashanti. His gatherings are noted for their humor, warmth, spontaneity, and intimacy and combine direct pointers, lively dialogues, silent sitting, and guided self-inquiry. He’s the author of several books, including Wake Up Now: A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening and Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love.

Stephan spent a decade practicing Zen intensively as a monk but left the monastery because he sensed that the rigorous practice of meditation was obscuring the truth he was seeking. After studying Dzogchen for several years, he met his guru, Jean Klein, a European teacher of Advaita Vedanta, who told him to stop meditating and instead discover the meditator. Shortly after meeting Jean, he had a profound awakening to his true identity as timeless presence. After Jean’s death, Stephan met Adyashanti, and in 2001 Adya gave him Dharma transmission and invited him to teach.

Stephan is the founder and director of the School for Awakening, an annual eight-month awakening intensive, and he leads regular retreats and shorter intensives In Tucson, Arizona, and at the Garrison Institute in New York.

Trained and licensed as a psychotherapist, Stephan also offers individual spiritual counseling and mentoring sessions to people throughout the world. His approach blends direct, experiential, nondual wisdom with the insights of Western psychology to support students in realizing who they really are while inquiring into the stories and patterns of thinking and behaving that continue to cause suffering.

Website: http://stephanbodian.org

Other books: Meditation For Dummies, w/Audio CD(Also available in various languages.) Timeless Visions, Healing Voices: Conversations With Men & Women of the Spirit

Interview recorded 1/24/2015

The Future of God : A Practical Approach to Spirituality for Our Times by Deepak Chopra [Updated Jan 26, 2015]

Pub Date Nov 11 2014

From the New York Times Bestselling Author.
Can God be revived in a skeptical age? What would it take to give people a spiritual life more powerful than anything in the past? Deepak Chopra tackles these issues with eloquence and insight in this book. He proposes that God lies at the source of human awareness. Therefore, any person can find the God within that transforms everyday life.

God is in trouble. The rise of the militant atheist movement spearheaded by Richard Dawkins signifies, to many, that the deity is an outmoded myth in the modern world. Deepak Chopra passionately disagrees, seeing the present moment as the perfect time for making spirituality what it really should be: reliable knowledge about higher reality. Outlining a path to God that turns unbelief into the first step of awakening, Deepak shows us that a crisis of faith is like the fire we must pass through on the way to power, truth, and love.

“Faith must be saved for everyone’s sake,” he writes. “From faith springs a passion for the eternal, which is even stronger than love. Many of us have lost that passion or have never known it.” In any age, faith is a cry from the heart. God is the higher consciousness that responds to the cry. “By itself, faith can’t deliver God, but it does something more timely: It makes God possible.”

For three decades, Deepak Chopra has inspired millions with his profound writing and teaching. With The Future of God, he invites us on a journey of the spirit, providing a practical path to understanding God and our own place in the universe. Now, is a moment of reinvigoration, he argues. Now is moment of renewal. Now is the future.


Deepak Chopra – The Future Of God
Published on Dec 24, 2014
Deepak Chopra – The Future of God: A Practical Approach to Spirituality for Our Times
The Future of God is a brilliant exposition for the need of consciousness-based reality. It is consistent with the worldview of quantum physics which showed the importance of the mind and is a fitting answer to the claims of militant atheists whose science is based on outdated views now known to not be true and which became obsolete almost a century ago.

DEEPAK CHOPRA is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. Visit him at DeepakChopra​.com.

Is the Ego Conscious?

Tan: Hi, Rob. Here are the answers to your questions.

Rob: Is the ego conscious? I have heard that the ego is just a thought.

Tan: We use “consciousness” and “awareness” as interchangeable words, synonyms.

No, there is only you, consciousness/awareness. The ego seems to be conscious because it borrows its consciousness from you, awareness. The reason is that the subtle body (consisting of three phenomena: intellect, mind/emotions and ego) is reflective and borrows its consciousness, like the moon borrows its light from the sun. In this metaphor you, awareness/consciousness, are the sun and the moon is the intellect-mind-ego. Another term for the ego is aham-kara, meaning “the source of the I-notion/thought.”

So the ego is just the thought “I am doing/being,” etc., like “I am feeling, I am thinking, I am running.” This I-notion can only be known in you, awareness.

Rob: James has said in videos that life is a zero-sum game. For every gain there is a loss. For every loss there is a gain. How does this apply to enlightenment? What is the loss and gain?

Tan: Enlightenment is actually neither a gain nor loss for you. You awareness can neither become enlightened nor unenlightened, because you are the awareness in whose light everything is known. Also, the notions “enlightenment” and “unenlightenment” are known through you. These are dualistic notions which appear in you, awareness. The dualistic intellect seems to lose the notion of being a body-mind-intellect and seemingly gains the notion “I am awareness.” Since this notion “I am awareness” is the truth and actually is knowledge that is always true and was always there before the confusion through ignorance, therefore it remains hard and fast when the subtle body is qualified.

Rob: Can you explain that “I am the body but the body is not me” teaching? I have heard James say this in his videos.

Tan: No, it is the other way around. I am sure James has said it the other way around. And to make it more concrete, let us use “gross body” as a refinement of the word “body.”

So it actually is (a) I am not the (gross) body but (b) the (gross) body is me.

Or to address you: (a) you are not the (gross) body but (b) the (gross) body is you.

To explain statement (a) we can use a teaching also called seer/seen discrimination (drig-dishya-viveka).

The seer (subject) cannot be the seen (the object). You see the body. So you cannot be the body. This is a very important understanding. Please see if you can follow that the subject cannot be the object. If you were object, the body, you would not be able to see the body. The eye cannot see itself. The hand cannot shake itself.

Also, another notion: if you lose your leg, are you less? Yes your body is less and smaller, but are you less? Is your “I” less?

One way to explain statement (b) is through the “location of objects” teaching. Here it is:

Where is the body? Or let us use a part of your body, for example, your hand.

Is your hand out there or in you?

The first intuition is to say the hand is out there but that is apparently true only if you identify with your body. Now let us think along these lines:

Light reflects off the hand and goes through the senses/eyes and is transformed into a pattern of knowledge (form/color of hand) in the mind. Now, actually the hand is only ever recognized and appears as hand-knowledge-pattern in the mind.

How far are you away from the mind? Not one inch. You do not have to travel to reach your mind. The mind is in you, consciousness.

So the hand appears in the mind and the mind appears in you. So the hand appears in you. So the body appears in you and is made out of you awareness. So the body is you. The body is like a wave that appears in you the water.

The wave is always water. But water is not always a wave.

Rob: What is meant by “awareness is impersonal”? It appears that there are things that are personal, such as likes and dislikes. “I want this, don’t want that.”

Tan: Yes, likes/dislikes seem to belong to the person. But are you the person?

You are aware of the person Rob with his likes and dislikes. But again, if you are aware of him can you be him?

Take, for example, in your dream you can be a totally different person or even an animal like an eagle and absolutely be sure that it is you. So you are there although you seem to be a totally different person or body. That is because you are awareness, in which every type of person or personality can appear. It is the same with the body. You – awareness – are not the person. But the person is you, awareness.

Awareness is that which is true and which never changes. All changing objects, like thoughts, feelings, observations, experiences, arise in you, awareness, and fall back into you. You remain constant. You are unchanging. The person constantly changes: the thoughts change, the body ages and changes, feelings change, etc. But you, awareness, do not change. You see all those changes come and go. Even the person and the likes and dislikes come and go. But you remain unchanged. That is why you, awareness, are impersonal. “Impersonal” is just another way of saying you are free from change.

~ Love, Tan

Source: www.shiningworld.com/now/satsang

Listening to the Calling of our Hearts (01/21/2015)

Published on Jan 22, 2015
Listening to the Calling of our Hearts (01/21/2015) – In any moment, our intention – what we are energetically wanting – shapes our life experience. While our deepest intention may be to realize and live from loving awareness, we are often driven by egoic fear and grasping. This talk explores how mindfulness can recognize our prevailing intention, and by staying present, kind and accepting, we can reconnect with the deeper longings that carry us to awakening and freedom.

Changing the World From Within: An Interview With Eckhart Tolle by Suza Scalora

In part one of this new interview series, Changing the World From Within, Eckhart Tolle speaks to Suza Scalora about the violence in our world — and how human beings can lose their sense of humanity and empathy, inflicting suffering on one another.

Suza Scalora: We are constantly hearing about a world that is violent, chaotic and frightening. It seems as though we’re inundated with painful, horrific stories by way of the Internet, newspapers and other media outlets. The newest headline, for example, was about another possible beheading by the terrorist group, ISIS. How can we find inner peace with all this insanity around us?

Eckhart Tolle: There are many aspects to this. It is important to realize that a large percentage of what we hear or see on the news focuses on those places where there is violent conflict. These tend to be the more unconscious pockets of the planet, where there is still a considerable degree of collective unconsciousness.

SS: Can you explain what you mean when you say, “unconsciousness?”

ET: It is important to understand that when I call a person “unconscious,” I am not referring to somebody who has fainted or blacked out. I am referring to someone who is spiritually unconscious. This is to say that the person is completely in the grip of their ego — their false sense of self. The ego gives rise to a sense of separateness between oneself and others, or between “us” and “them.” A human being in the grip of the ego is identified with mental images or ideas about who they are. The mind creates these mental images, or stories. Then a person’s identity, their sense of who they are, is defined through those images or stories. When this happens, there is a tendency for the egoic person to compulsively judge others, thereby making them into enemies. The ego does this to strengthen its ultimately fictitious sense of self. Whatever a person thinks or believes is, of course, conditioned by the past: their upbringing, the culture they live in — including the collective belief systems of that culture — their education, family background and so on. A person who is in the grip of the ego is totally identified with the conditioned content of their mind.

Such a person’s thinking, as well as behavior, is therefore completely determined by the ego. This is what I mean by the term “unconscious.”

SS: It seems that our Western culture is gripped by the ego as much as other parts of the world. Could you explain what it means for a pocket of the world to be more unconscious than another? What does it mean to be collectively unconscious?

ET: In the West, as well as some other parts of the world, the personal sense of ego tends to predominate, whereas in other areas there is a more collective sense of ego. This collective ego emphasizes the “we” rather than the “I.” The collective ego may be tribal, religious, nationalistic, or ideological. For example, there may be a religious or political belief structure that people identify with in the collective that makes up a large part of a person’s sense of self or identity. It is less these days than it was in the 20th century, when millions of people were in the grip of collective belief systems. For example, when Mao Tse-tung was in power in China, millions of people were totally conditioned by their collective belief system. This was also the case with Nazi Germany and Soviet Communism. When people are so identified with their collective belief system, their ego becomes enormously pronounced. This collective ego begins looking for “enemies” in order to strengthen the sense of separateness on which the ego depends for its survival.

The personal ego already has a strong element of dysfunction, but the collective ego is, frequently, even more dysfunctional, to the point of absolute insanity. The greatest atrocities that have been committed on the planet were perpetrated by the collective ego. For example, if you go back to the Middle Ages, during the Inquisition, it was a time in which torture and persecution was enacted in the name of religion. The Christian message was completely misunderstood and so the religion became an egoic mind structure. People committed atrocities because their entire sense of self was bound up with that belief structure. Even worse things, of course, happened in the 20th century — as we all know.

SS: How does one become that detached from their humanity? How do people get caught up in this collective mindset?

ET: When people get taken over by the ego to such an extent, there is nothing else in their mind except the ego. They can no longer feel or sense their humanity — what they share with other human beings, or even with other life forms on the planet. They are so identified with concepts in their minds that other human beings become concepts as well. This causes a sense of separateness, on which the ego thrives.

If you are an Islamic Extremist, for example, you view others as infidels who do not share your belief system and so they are pronounced ‘evil.’ You can no longer sense the humanity, or Beingness, of those who don’t share your belief system. Once you have conceptualized a person, violence becomes almost inevitable. This is because you are not seeing them as a human being anymore. It becomes impossible for you to have any kind of empathy with another individual who does not fit into your collective mind structure.

We often ask, “How is it possible that human beings can inflict such suffering on their fellow humans?” The answer is that they are totally in the grip of the ego. The ego’s complete inability to have empathy for others explains how such atrocities can be committed on the planet. Jesus on the cross is reported to have said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” In contemporary terminology, he probably would have said, “Forgive them, for they are completely unconscious.”

Source: Suza Scalora

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