The Subjective Face of the Mind is Pure Consciousness

Published on Jun 26, 2015

A discussion exploring the nature and purpose of the mind

Words out of Silence: 60 Days in Solitude by Bok (Author)

No TV, no cell phone, no social media, no family or friends. Just alone in silence for sixty days. Written from a small cabin in the mountains above Santa Cruz, California, Bok’s diary recounts his retreat into solitude and his search for a return to the simplicity of pure being. Without distraction, he has no choice but to face whatever comes – whether it’s the incessant chatter of the mind, the arising of overwhelming emotions, or the simple observations of running water and birdsong.

We say it’s Bok’s diary, but he draws us in so intimately that these sixty days become our own. Through this intense and immersive process, both for Bok and the reader, a deeper place is found within, a place of stillness and well being. You may be surprised what Bok finds, or more importantly, what he doesn’t find. Alexandra Burda’s illustrations are a perfect compliment to the sparseness, sensitivity and beauty of the text.

After a series of extraordinary experiences in his 20’s, Bok set out to find a teacher. Feeling right at home in the Ramana Maharshi tradition, Bok first discovered Catherine Ingram, then Byron Katie, and finally Adyashanti, whom he now considers his main teacher. Bok works as an artist – writer, landscape architect, filmmaker – and also loves to share his gathered understanding with students deeply interested in knowing their own true nature. He maintains a robust teaching practice in Los Angeles, California. Bok has also been deeply influenced by Jean Klein, Douglas Harding, and Nisargadatta Maharaj.


Animal Speak The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small By: Ted Andrews

Open your heart and mind to the wisdom of the animal world.

Animal Speak provides techniques for recognizing and interpreting the signs and omens of nature. Meet and work with animals as totems and spirit guides by learning the language of their behaviors within the physical world.

Animal Speak shows you how to: identify, meet, and attune to your spirit animals; discover the power and spiritual significance of more than 100 different animals, birds, insects, and reptiles; call upon the protective powers of your animal totem; and create and use five magical animal rites, including shapeshifting and sacred dance.

This beloved, bestselling guide has become a classic reference for anyone wishing to forge a spiritual connection with the majesty and mystery of the animal world.

Ted Andrews is a full-time author, student, and teacher in the metaphysical and spiritual fields. He conducts seminars, symposiums, workshops, and lectures throughout the country on many facets of ancient mysticism, focusing on translating esoteric material to make it comprehensible and practical for everyone. This includes resynthesizing ancient scriptures, literature, and teachings for use by the modern spiritual student.

Ted is certified in basic hypnosis and acupressure, and is involved in the study and use of herbs as an alternative path in health care. He is active in the holistic healing field, focusing strongly on esoteric forms of healing with sound, music, and voice. Trained in piano, Ted also employs the use of the Celtic harp, bamboo flute, shaman rattles, Tibetan bells, Tibetan Singing Bowl, and quartz crystal bowls to create individual healing therapies and induce higher states of consciousness. Ted is a clairvoyant and also works with past-life analysis, aura interpretation, dreams, numerology, and Tarot.
Andrews is the author of The Healer’s Manual; Animal-Speak, How to See & Read the Aura; Dream Alchemy; Crystal Balls & Crystal Bowls; How to Develop & Use Psychic Touch; How to Heal with Color; Sacred Sounds; Magickal Dance; and many other titles.


Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

So this video is a two-fer. First will be some updates on my life and then we move into a book review of Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small by Ted Andrews.

Joel Morwood – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Published on Aug 24, 2015

Since the Center for Sacred Sciences was founded in 1987, Joel Morwood has served as the spiritual director and primary teacher for its community of practitioners. Joel’s first book, Naked Through the Gate: A Spiritual Autobiography , tells the story of his own spiritual path, culminating in Gnosis, or Awakening, in 1983.

Here is some of what Joel has to say about himself and his role: Some people who have come to me have been disappointed to discover that I have no supernatural powers to transmit, no magic wand to wave, no extraordinary knowledge to dispense which can make them instantly wise, loving, and happy. “Who, then, are you?” they ask. “What’s your secret?” My secret can be summed up in one word: Selflessness.

Selflessness is the Truth. Selflessness is the Way. Selflessness is the Fruit. In reality, there is no ‘you’ nor ‘I’ nor any ‘self’ whatsoever. There is only Consciousness Itself—the One True God—which is what we are. All that is necessary is to Realize This, because to Realize This is Wisdom, to Live This is Love, to Be This is Happiness. So, if you really want to know my secret, look to your ‘self’. In finding the source of your ‘self’, you will find Consciousness Itself, and nothing else. Then, you, too, will be free of your self and all its sufferings.

Joel has no special religious attire. In fact, he often wears old blue jeans, sweatshirts, and a Mexican poncho. He is married, enjoys movies, drinks wine, and interacts with others much like any other guy. Joel speaks from his own Realization, or Gnosis. Although he makes use of stories, texts, and practices taken from many different traditions, his interpretations are always spontaneous, direct, and personal.

He continually points beyond mere intellectual understanding to a Truth that is beyond both thought and experience. Moreover, he constantly links the teachings of the mystics with concrete examples drawn from daily life so that one can see how they actually relate to one’s own experiences. In all this Joel displays an intuition, sensitivity and humor which could never have come from book-learning alone. Moreover, because Joel has no pretensions about being someone special, he is approachable not only as a teacher, but also as a friend. He is a wonderful listener who knows how to pierce right to the heart of a problem. Often he can point out ways of viewing a situation from an entirely new perspective, yet he always insists one take responsibility for making one’s own decisions. Moreover, when he has no advice to offer, he doesn’t hesitate to say, “I don’t know.”

Joel is a teacher who always challenges his students to investigate the mystics and their teachings for themselves. Far from demanding blind obedience, or even verbal agreement, he encourages them to explore various teachers, to compare what he says with the teachings found in the great mystical traditions, to test all these teachings against our one’s experience, and to test one’s own experience against the hard realities of life.

In his view, a true spiritual path never leads one away from reality but, on the contrary, forces one to face it squarely, no matter how ugly or painful it may appear. It is only by getting to the bottom of suffering that we can be free of suffering. Beyond that suffering, Joel assures us, there is the Boundless Joy of Consciousness Itself—and, indeed, with his guidance we sometimes catch a glimpse of this as well!

Finally, Joel receives no financial remuneration from the Center. His teachings are given as a labor of love freely to all—although occasionally he has asked for personal donations to cover special needs, like the time he needed a suit for his marriage.

Other books: The Way of Selflessness: A Practical Guide to Enlightenment Based on the Teachings of the World’s Great Mystics Through Death’s Gate: A Guide to Selfless Dying

Talk by Tom McFarlane referred to during the interview: Einstein, Buddha, Reality: The Nondual Roots of Science

Interview recorded 8/22/2015

View his book ” The Way of Selflessness: A Practical Guide to Enlightenment Based on the Teachings of the World’s Great Mystics HERE

Harmony of Being: Returning to our True Nature by Steve Taylor.

Originally published in Natural Health magazine, 2012.

From time to time, we all have experiences when restlessness and discontent fade away, and we’re filled with a sense of ease, well-being and harmony. We become free of pressure to keep busy and the need for stimulation, and rest at ease within ourselves and within the present moment.

I call these experiences ‘harmony of being.’ They usually occur when we’re quiet and relaxed and there’s stillness around us – for example, when we’re walking through the countryside, working quietly with our hands, listening to or playing music, or after meditation, yoga or sex. The chattering of our minds fades away and we feel a natural flow of connection between ourselves and our surroundings or other people.

Sometimes these experiences seem to come out of nowhere, for no apparent reason. You might experience harmony of being for a brief moment when you wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep – just for a few seconds, before your thoughts start chattering away about the day ahead, your mind is empty and still, and you’re filled with a sense of well-being and wholeness. Or another morning, when you wake up early, go downstairs and sit at the breakfast table. There’s quietness and stillness around you, and you feel quiet and still inside too, a glow of contentment spreading through you. You look through the window at your garden, just beginning to reveal itself in the dim light, and you’re suddenly you’re struck by how beautiful it is. You feel as if you’re seeing it in a different way to normal, seeing flowers and plants that you don’t normally notice, and the whole garden seems so still and yet at the same time so wild and alive.

Or you might experience harmony of being when you’re watching your children play in the garden in summer. You look around you, at the sunlight splashing through the trees and the perfect blue sky above you, and listen to your children’s laughter – and the scene seems so perfect that time seems to stand still. Or even when you’re driving down the motorway and are suddenly struck by the beauty of the evening sun, shining between the clouds and across the fields – just for a few moments, you feel lit up inside too, and a warm glow of well-being flows through your whole being.

Harmony-Generating Experiences

Spontaneous experiences of harmony like these are quite rare though. Usually harmony of being is linked to certain activities or situations. For example, there are some sports which often give rise to the state. Several joggers and long-distance runners have told me that running has a powerful psychological effect on them, making them feel very calm and alert, and more ‘grounded’. One colleague told me that he goes running every day because ‘It helps clear my mind, helps me get back to myself. It puts me back in tune with the world again, after all the hassles of work. All the work stuff fades from my mind and I just take pleasure from where I am, from the elements around me.’

Swimming can also give rise to harmony. Once, when I was talking to a group of students about meditation, a young woman said to me, ‘That’s what I do when I go swimming!’ She went on to say that

When I’m swimming, I get into the rhythm of my movements and the gliding feeling of going through the water – I get so into it that I forget everything. I just feel the water against my skin and look up at the light shining on the water and the waves moving across the pool and it all looks perfect. When I get out of the water and get changed I feel happy and peaceful.

More dangerous and demanding pursuits can generate harmony too, such as climbing, flying or diving. Activities like these require so much concentration that they help us to forget the niggling concerns of daily life. The demands of the present – to make the next manoeuvre or avoid a potential danger – focus the mind so much that thought-chatter fades away and the future and the past cease to exist. As a result, climbers or pilots sometimes experience a sense of wholeness and contentment, becoming intensely aware of the beauty of their surroundings, and even feeling a sense of oneness with them.

Sex often gives rise to harmony too, for similar reasons. The sensations we experience during sex are usually so pleasurable and powerful that they have a mind-quietening effect; thoughts about the past and future fade away, as we become completely present. Afterwards, you’re filled with a soothing glow of well-being, lying there with your partner in your arms, listening to the sounds of the night and staring into the warm, rich darkness. And then, you might pull back your curtain and look at the scene outside your window and feel that everything is somehow different. The clouds gliding across the sky seem somehow more real, as if an extra dimension has been added to them, and the black spaces between them seem somehow richer and thicker than before. And on the streets everything seems to be in its right place, the cars parked in front of your house and the trees and the streetlights along the side. The light of the lamps seems radiant and somehow benevolent.

Contact with nature is a major source of harmony too, and one of the main reasons why so many of us love the countryside. The beauty and grandeur of nature draws our attention away from thought-chatter, and the stillness and space relax us even further. As a result, our minds become quiet, and our ego-boundaries become softer, so that we transcend separateness and feel connected to our surroundings.

The Sources of Harmony

So what is it about meditation, sex, climbing or running which generates harmony of being?

The most important factor is that all of these activities provide a focus for the mind. There’s a steady stream of attention directed at a particular object, and this has the effect of quietening our thought-chatter. And when the mind is quiet in this way, we become free of both the disturbance and negativity of our normal thought-chatter. We feel a sense of inner stillness because there literally is stillness inside us. Our being becomes calm, like the still surface of a lake. And this also means that the super-critical person inside our heads – who’s always criticising our behaviour and reminding of the things we should feel bad about in the past and worry about in the future – disappears. There’s no one to make us feel guilty, to make us worry about the future, or bitter about the past.

In these moments, we become aware that, although the surface of our being is filled with disturbance and negativity, beneath that there is a deep reservoir of stillness and well-being. The surface of our being is like a rough sea which sweeps you to and fro and makes you feel disoriented and anxious. But if you wear diving equipment and go beneath the surface, you’re suddenly in the midst of endless silence and stillness.

The lack of discord inside us means that we’re free from the compulsion to do, and able to be. In fact, this ability to do nothing is one of the most pleasant aspects of harmony of being. We can sit down at the table or walk around the house and be content just to be here. There’s no impulse to turn on the television or the radio, to reach for a magazine or to check your e-mail or to phone a friend for a chat.

Permanent Harmony and Sanity?

These moments of harmony don’t have to be fleeting. In fact, this is basic aim of all spiritual traditions, and all spiritual practices: to generate a state of permanent inner harmony. This is what we call ‘enlightenment’ – a state in which the discord of the human mind is truly healed. In my new book Back to Sanity, I propose an eight-stage path of self-development leading to a permanent state of harmony, including practices such as ‘transcending negative thought patterns,’ ‘Healing the mind through quietness and stillness’ as well as traditional practices such as service and meditation.

In harmony of being, life becomes a glorious adventure, full of joy and wonder. And one of the most striking things about this state is how natural it feels. That’s because it’s our most natural state, a state in which we come home, to our innermost nature.

How to Generate Harmony of Being

  • Have contact with nature. The stillness and beauty of nature can quieten the chattering of our minds and bring a sense of inner peace.
  • Help other people. Altruistic acts connect us with us and help us to transcend separateness.
  • Mindfulness exercises. When you have a shower, brush your teeth, eat your meals or any other daily activity, give your full attention to the experience rather than to thoughts inside your head.
  • Make friends with quietness and inactivity. Timetable periods for ‘doing nothing’ during the week.
  • Quietness allows our minds to settle into a state of harmony.
  • Go running or swimming. Sports like these can heal the surface discord of our minds puts us in touch the harmony underneath.

Dr Steve Taylor is the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality, and is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University. For the last four years he has been included (this year at no. 62) in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the ‘100 most spiritually influential living people.’ His books include Waking From Sleep, The Fall, Out of the Darkness, Back to Sanity, and his latest book The Calm Center. His books have been published in 19 languages, including Dutch, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Polish and Spanish. Eckhart Tolle has described his work as ‘an important contribution to the shift in consciousness which is happening on our planet at present.’ Andrew Harvey has said of his work, ‘Its importance for our menacing times and for the transformation being birthed by them cannot be exaggerated.’

Steve has a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology from Liverpool John Moores University. His articles and essays have been published in over 40 academic journals, magazines and newspapers, including The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Psychologies, Natural Health, Kindred Spirit and Resurgence. His work has been featured widely in the media in the UK, including on BBC Breakfast, BBC World TV, Radio 4 and 5, and in The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Mail. Steve lives in Manchester, England with his wife and three young children

The Awakening Artist: Madness and Spiritual Awakening in Art by Patrick Howe (Author)

The Awakening Artist: Madness and Spiritual Awakening in Art is an art theory book that explores the collision of human madness and spiritual awakening in art. It examines a condition of insanity that can be seen in most art movements throughout art history and contrasts that insanity with revelations of beauty, wonder and truth that can also be found in many works of art.

The Awakening Artist references concepts of creativity put forward by Joseph Campbell, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung and others. Furthermore, The Awakening Artist discusses many of the world s most important artists who explored the theme of awakening in art including Michaelangelo, Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Marcel Duchamp, Morris Graves and many others. Additionally, using concepts of Eastern philosophy, the book presents the case that human creativity originates from the same creative source that animates all of life, and that the artist naturally aligns with that creative source when he or she is in the act of creating.

Patrick Howe has been an artist for over forty years. He lives in Seattle, Washington, where he owns and operates Patrick Howe Gallery,sells his artwork, teaches painting classes and writes books.


‘The Awakening Artist‘’, by Patrick Howe

Forward by Steve Taylor.

There has always been a very close connection between poetry and spirituality. Many poets have been very spiritually developed individuals, living in a heightened state of consciousness – for example, Wordsworth, Shelley, Whitman, Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, Ted Hughes and Mary Oliver. And many mystics, gurus and spiritual teachers have also been great poets, such as St. John of the Cross, Sri Aurobindo, Vivekananda and Thomas Merton. Poetry is the natural expression of spiritual experience, which transcends the limits of ordinary language.

In this enlightening – in both intellectual and spiritual senses of the term – book, Patrick Howe shows that the same is true of art. He describes how many of the greatest artists in history were spiritually ‘awake’, and how their ‘wakefulness’ was the source of their art. Artists like Constable, Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, Thomas Cole and George Inness perceived the natural world with a heightened intensity. Whereas most human beings perceive their surroundings through a veil of familiarity, with a functional automatic perception, they saw it with the freshness and first-time vision of children. Rather than experiencing a sense of duality and separateness, they felt a powerful sense of connection to the world. And just as Wordsworth and Whitman had the literary skill to convey their spiritual visions and insights through poetry, these artists had the ability to convey the wonder and intensity they experienced through their paintings.

Arguably, this applied to most of the great painters up to the 20th century. It is certainly true of impressionists like Monet, Pissaro, Renoir and Van Gogh. To look at some of Van Gogh’s paintings is to see the world in a mystical state of consciousness, with spirit-force pervading the sky, the stars and the whole of the natural world. It’s true of Patrick Howe’s own artwork too. As he writes of his own perception, ‘All I have to do is look out any window, walk in any park, study the cooking utensils on any kitchen counter top, or look in almost any direction and I see the beauty and peace of the world.’

One of the great pleasures I’ve had while reading this book is to break off periodically to look up the paintings of some of the artists. As a European who isn’t particularly well-versed in the history of art, I wasn’t familiar with some of the American painters Howe discusses. I had never heard of George Enniss, for example, and looking up his paintings was a delight. He’s become my new favourite painter, alongside my old favourites, Van Gogh, Monet and Turner. I love the way Enniss paints the sky, with just as much as emphasis as the landscape, with the clouds as prominent and beautiful as rocks and trees. It resonates so much with me, because I often see the sky that way too. (I wrote a poem called ‘A world that moves too fast to map’ about the sky in my book The Meaning.)

Throughout this book, Howe shows how the artwork of individuals relates to the culture they are a part of. For example, he suggests that the Romantic movement – in poetry, art and music – was part of what I call the ‘trans-Fall’ movement. (In my book The Fall, I describe this as a movement beyond ego-separateness towards re-connection to nature and the human body, a movement beyond egocentricism towards empathy and compassion.) Howe also makes the important point that, until this time, artists had been in the service of kings, emperors, aristocrats and the church. Their subject matter was always circumscribed by the demands of their benefactors and employers. But in the 19th century, artists became independent for the first time, free to express their emotions, to explore their imagination and perception.

In many ways, the ‘trans-Fall’ movement of reconnection has continued through the 20th century and into the 21st , leading to the environmental movement, increased equality and women’s rights, a spread of democracy, an increased sexual openness, an explosion of interest in spirituality and self-development, the and so forth. But particularly in the last few decades, much European and American artwork has turned against this trend. Modern art is in a very strange position. At least amongst art critics, artists who attempt to convey beauty or a sense of awe or transcendence are seen as redundant. In a climate of post-modern self-consciousness, it has become unfashionable to express any genuine emotion – to do so is to be accused of ‘romantic sentimentality.’ Art has become divorced from reality, and overtaken by the intellect. The word ‘conceptual’ – as in conceptual art – is very apposite. As Partick Howe puts it, ‘Much of art today has lost its “mythic power”…Most art is made for the market and the critics and makes no effort whatsoever at being transformative.’

Rather than a creative ‘right-brain’ pursuit, art has become an intellectual ‘left-brain’ one. In spiritual development, the conceptual mind is seen as a hindrance to overcome. Concepts are the conditioned ideas and cognitive habits we have developed through our upbringing and experience. Through meditation and other forms of spiritual practice, we attempt to quieten the conceptual mind, to weaken its structures, and gain access to a pure, unconditioned consciousness which it can obscure. So in this sense modern art is anti-spiritual. It reinforces the dominance of the conceptual mind. It’s designed to make us think, to shock and provoke, rather than to transform our consciousness and our relationship to the world.

In many ways, then, the sad state of modern art mirrors the worst aspects of our culture, and of ego-consciousness itself – divorced from nature, narcissistic, entangled in theories and concepts, rather than in connection with the present, and the world itself.

But true art is always bigger than the intellect. It always stems from a mysterious transcendent source, rather than from the puny thinking mind. As Patrick Howe points out of his own work, sometimes paintings seem to flow through him without conscious control, so that he doesn’t know what he’ll end up with. Artists in other fields have made the same point. Musicians and poets usually don’t think songs or poems into existence, they come into their minds. They hear the music in their head and transcribe it. In the same way, lines or phrases come to poets in moments of inspiration. Once the kernel of piece of music or poem is there, then the artist can use his or her intellect, to chisel it into a rounded and finished piece. But without the initial non-rational inspiration, there is nothing to work on. (Interestingly, this applies to science too. Many famous scientific discoveries have arisen from unconscious inspiration rather than logical thinking. For example, Niels Bohr won the Nobel Prize after ‘seeing’ the structure of an atom in a dream. One of the triggers of the industrial revolution was the idea of a separate condenser for the steam engine (to stop it losing heat), an idea which spontaneously formed in James Watts’ mind while he was walking across a green in Glasgow.)

In the Awakened Artist, Patrick Howe attempts to re-connect art to this transcendent source. Even without realising, spiritual artists have been part of what he calls ‘the one art movement’, whose role is to encourage the flowering of human consciousness. The artist is both of channel of heightened spirituality, and an ‘agent’ of evolution, helping the rest of the human race to develop the same awareness.

For me, another great thing about this book is how it reminds us that you can’t separate spirituality from other aspects of life. Spirituality isn’t a separate category, it’s a potential quality of every category of life. ‘Spiritually awakened’ individuals aren’t just – or even primarily – monks, gurus or spiritual teachers, they may be painters, poets, musicians, athletes, and so on. They may not even be anyone or anything – just ‘ordinary’ people living in obscurity, doing nothing of any note. They may not even know that they are ‘spiritually awakened.’

So if you are interested in either art or spirituality, this book will be wonderfully inspiring reading. But it will also make you aware that in reality there is no either/or. You can’t separate art and spirituality, in the same way that you can’t separate waves from the sea, or my essential self from yours.

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