The Spiritual Child: Educating the Head and the Heart – Lisa Miller


Lisa Miller, Professor & Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, discusses spiritual development as it pertains to children and adolescents.

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Gangaji – The Religion of ME


Published on Nov 29, 2016

Direct disciple of Papaji and spiritual teacher Gangaji says that – even if we don’t worship any God – we worship every single day something else: our EGO. And this is what keeps suffering in play.
A very interesting view on the nature of our minds!

Adyashanti and Francis Bennett – “The Embrace of Jesus and Buddha” – BatGap Interview


Published on Nov 29, 2016

Adyashanti and Francis Bennett in a public dialog about the parallels and differences between Jesus and the Buddha, as two complimentary yet very different models of awakening. Where the Buddha emphasized inner peace and the transcendence of samsara, Christ emphasized embodying divine humanity in the midst of samsara, embracing the human condition in order to serve those who are lost in ignorance.

Adya came to a deeper appreciation of Jesus by way of his study of Zen, while Francis ─ a former Trappist monk turned non-dual teacher ─ came to Buddhism by way of immersion in mystical Christianity.

“The Christ comes to disturb, to stir up the pot, to descend to the chaotic earthly realm, and to get people to move out of their limited comfort zones and indifference toward others and life in general: to help us transform and transmute the personal and social dimension of what it means to be a human being in a human society. The Buddha comes to bring inner peace by awakening us up and out of our over-identification with the personal, and help us to realize who we are in transcendence, who we are as “trans-personal” persons. You need both approaches. They are opposite sides of the one “coin” of awakening.” — Francis Bennett

Adyashanti, is an American-born spiritual teacher and author devoted to serving the awakening of all beings. His teachings are an open invitation to stop, inquire, and recognize what is true and liberating at the core of all existence. Asked to teach in 1996 by his Zen teacher of 14 years, Adyashanti offers teachings that are free of any tradition or ideology. “The Truth I point to is not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine, but is open to all and found within all.” He teaches throughout North America and Europe, offering satsangs, weekend intensives, silent retreats, and a live internet radio broadcast.

Website: http://adyashanti.org

Francis Bennett entered the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane in 1981 and in the 90’s subsequently lived at a “daughter house” of Gethsemane in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Until recently, he was living in a small urban monastery in Montreal Quebec. He has been a “spiritual seeker” during all those years, practicing in the Christian mystical/contemplative Tradition and working deeply with teachers in both the Vipassana and Zen Traditions as well. In 2010 he experienced a profound perceptual “shift” in which he realized the ever-present presence of pure Awareness, which some would call, the Presence of God.

You may contact Francis by email, Skype (francisdale3), his Facebook page, or through his website, http://findinggraceatthecenter.com. Francis’ book: “I Am That I Am: Discovering the Love, Peace, Joy and Stability of the True Self“.

Recorded 10/26/2016 at the Santa Cruz Open Circle.

Connectedness: Are we really Separate Individuals? ~ Steve Taylor Ph.D.

Source: flickr.com

Source: flickr.com

We normally perceive ourselves as individuals, living inside our own brains and bodies. ‘You’ are an entity that seems to occupy your own mental space, inside your head, with the rest of the world appearing to be ‘out there’, on the other side. The conventional scientific view seems to validate this impression of individuality. It suggests that, in essence, we human beings are agglomerations of material particles, atoms and molecules that work together to form different parts of our bodies and organising the interactions between them. Our minds – and all our mental phenomena – are the result of the combined activity of brain cells.

So it seems indisputable that we are distinct, isolated entities living in separateness to one another. I have my body and brain, and you have yours, and we can touch each other physically or communicate with one another through language, but our sense of being – as produced by our brains – is essentially enclosed within the physical stuff of our bodies.

However, most of us regularly have experiences that seem to contradict this impression of separateness. I call these ‘interconnective experiences’, and identity three types of them.

Three Different Types of Interconnection

The first – and most common – is ‘interconnectedness of feeling’, or ‘empathic connection.’ Empathy is sometimes seen as a cognitive ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and imagine what they are experiencing. This is certainly a type of empathy, but only what I have called ‘shallow empathy.’ There is a deeper kind of empathy which stems from actually sensing – rather than just imagining – what another person is experiencing. In this ‘deep empathy’ our consciousness seems to expand outwards, and merge into other people’s. We seem to enter into other people’s mind-space, and share their feelings. If they are feeling sad, we sense their sadness. If they are hurt, we sense their pain. This often leads to altruism – acting to try to alleviate their suffering. We want to alleviate other people’s suffering because, in a sense, it is our own suffering.

The second type of experience is ‘interconnectedness of being.’ For many years, I have collected reports of what I call ‘awakening experiences’, in which people experience a more expansive and intense state of being. One of the most prominent characteristics of these experiences is a ‘transcendence of separateness.’ It’s very common for people to sense that they are deeply connected to – even one with – the natural world, other human beings or even the whole universe. There is a sense of sharing one’s being with other phenomena, a sense that we share the same fundamental essence as them. For example, in my research one person told me that “I feel a part of nature … I feel a connection with people, but I also feel connected with trees and birds and grass and hills.” Or more intensely, one person described to me how “the deep aliveness of space is so amazing it takes your words away. I don’t just feel connected to it. I feel like I am it.”

The third type of experience – which I admit is more controversial than the previous two – is ‘interconnectedness of knowing.’ There are many anecdotal reports of individuals spontaneously communicating with each other without any direct interaction. Common experiences are thinking of someone you haven’t seen for years and then receiving a phone call from them and bumping into them on the street. Other examples are having a ‘strong feeling’ that a friend is pregnant, has been diagnosed with a serious illness or has died without being told this – and then finding out that this is the case shortly afterwards. Such incidents might be explained away as coincidence, but there are also scientific experiments which appear to show that such communication can sometimes occur. Some of the most well known are ‘ganzfeld’ experiments, in which a person tries to ‘send’ a randomly chosen target image to a receiver, who then has to choose the correct image from four choices. Obviously, the success rate for this by chance should be 25%. However, ganzfeld experiments consistently show higher levels of success than this. Large scale ganzfeld experiments conducted under the most strongest scientific conditions typically show a success rate of around 35%. This doesn’t seem like a significant figure, but the odds against it occurring by chance are astronomical. Meta-analyses of thousands of experiments conducted over decades show similar results. (1) There is also evidence suggesting that animals – especially dogs – may have a telepathic connection with their owners, which enables them to sense when they are coming home. (2)
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Beyond Materialism

It’s difficult to account for these phenomena from a materialist point of view. Materialists would claim that ‘deep empathy’ doesn’t really exist, and that our altruistic impulses are not due to a sense of connection, but due to a disguised selfishness – e.g. a desire to impress other people, or feel good about ourselves, or a kind of insurance policy to make sure we are helped in return. The sense of connection which awakening experiences can perhaps be explained as wishful thinking, or in terms of unusual brain activity. Similarly, ‘interconnective knowing’ can be explained as coincidence, or in terms of flawed experimental procedures.

However, there is another possibility: that in actuality we are interconnected. It is possible that these three forms of interconnection are not illusions, but the manifestations of a fundamental lack of separation between human beings. This makes no sense from a materialist point of view, but it is possible that what we know as consciousness is not produced by the brain, but is a fundamental quality of the consciousness. This is what is sometimes known as the ‘panpsychist’ view, and it is becoming increasingly popular amongst philosophers and psychologists who struggle to explain consciousness from a materialist perspective. According to panpsychism, consciousness is not dissimilar to mass or gravity – a fundamental, irreducible quality which has always been ‘built into’ the universe. Consciousness is both fundamental and universal – that is, it is everywhere, and in everything (at least potentially). The function of the cells, nervous systems and the human brain is not to ‘receive’ this consciousness and channel it into individual beings.

If we take this view, our own individual consciousness is part of a wider network of consciousness, as a wave is part of an ocean. So it’s not surprising that we are able to tune in to other people’s feelings, to feel a sense of oneness with nature, or sometimes ‘pick up’ on information without any direct communication. We are simply experiencing the fundamental connectedness of all beings, and the universe itself. Feeling, being and information flow between us all, across this network of shared consciousness.
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So we are not enclosed within our own mental space. We are not islands, but part of the ocean. We don’t live in separateness, but in connectedness. We are not alone. Essentially, we are one.

Steve Taylor PhD is the author of several books on psychology and spirituality. http://www.stevenmtaylor.com

Follow Steve on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stevetaylorauthor

Or on twitter at https://twitter.com/SMTaylorauthor

Notes

(1) see Bem, D. J. (1996). Ganzfeld phenomena. In G. Stein (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the paranormal (pp. 291-296). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. See also Parker. A. & Brusewitz, G. (2003). A compendium of the evidence for psi. European Journal of Parapsychology. 18: 33-51.

(2) In a long series of experiments over two years with a dog called Jaytee, the paranormal researcher Sheldrake found that it would sit by the window for a significant proportion of the time that her own was on her way home – 55% of the time, compared to just 4% during the rest of her absence. (The difference is highly statistically significant, with odds against chance of over 10,000.) There was a great deal of controversy when the skeptical researcher Richard Wiseman attempted to replicate Rupert Sheldrake’s experiments. Wiseman’s 4 experiments actually yielded an even more positive result than Sheldrake’s – Jaytee sat by the window 78% of the time that her owner was travelling home, compared to 4% during the rest of her absence (Sheldrake, 1999, 2000). % during the rest of her absence (Sheldrake, 1999, 2000). That would seem to be an incontrovertible successful replication of Sheldrake’s experiments. However, Wiseman chose to ignore this data, and instead to use a different criterion of success: Jaytee had to go to sit by the window at the exact moment that her owner set off home. If Jaytee went to the window before this, this would mean that she had ‘failed.’ And not surprisingly, by this criterion, the experiments were judged to be unsuccessful and bizarrely presented as ‘proof’ that Jaytee (and dogs in general) do not have ‘psychic powers’ (Wiseman et al., 1998; Sheldrake, 2000).

Rupert Spira Video: Dedicating Our Hearts To God’s Infinite Being

In this 8 minute video, Rupert Spira explains that since awareness is the essential ingredient of all experience, that awareness is shining brightly in all experience, it is important to dedicate our attention to honoring it…

The Landscape of Enlightenment: With Doors and Windows to Our World by Harri Aalto (Author)

Harri’s descriptions soar from the mundane to the sublime and take the intimate details, understanding and experience of the Awakened state to an entirely new level. He makes clear that this life of ours can be a delightful continuum of perception from the deep liveliness of expanded consciousness to the smallest details of daily life. It is not necessary to go to heaven in order to experience heaven or to be divine. Instead, these are natural aspects of individual awareness that are usually hidden and misunderstood. Harri shares with us his amazing life story from early childhood to the present through personal stories, photographs, poems and works of art.

Harri Aalto – 3rd Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Published on Nov 25, 2016

Also see https://batgap.com/harri-aalto-3/

Harri’s descriptions soar from the mundane to the sublime and explain the intimate details, understanding and experience of the awakened state in an entirely fresh way. He shows us how this life of ours can be naturally transformed into the delightful liveliness of expanded consciousness even within the activity of daily life.

Harri has worked as a fine artist/designer, a businessman, and a meditation teacher for his whole life. Throughout these very busy years his experiences of refined states of consciousness and perception have expanded greatly.

He shares his insights in his book, The Landscape of Enlightenment: With Doors and Windows to Our World, which includes his amazing life story from early childhood to the present with very personal, simple stories, works of art and inspired understanding that will uplift your awareness and stir the onset awakening.

Websites: http://harriaalto.com http://aaltodesign.com

Amoda Maa – The World Passes, But Who You Are Is Eternal


Published on Nov 27, 2016

http://www.amodamaa.com
An excerpt from the Berkeley Open Circle, November 2016

 “Awake in the Modern World… dialogues with Adyashanti” 

Sruti Answers – You Are Perfect – The Heavenly Fact and the Earthly Doubt

Published on Nov 25, 2016

In this video, Sruti reads recent emails anonymously and answers.

Sruti is a spiritual teacher who writes about her spiritual awakening within an experience with an uncommon and painful illness called Interstitial Cystitis. She has been interviewed on the Buddha at the Gas Pump talk show on YouTube about her experience of spiritual awakening in the midst of intense pain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atG0z…

This ongoing and chronic condition challenged her to stay present with daily pain and to look further inward for answers. In an extreme moment of pain, in which consciousness began to fade, Sruti experienced the erasure of all that clouds over the earliest source of vision.

She watched as one by one the layers of the mind, the body and feelings disappeared before her. She asks the question: with whose vision are we seeing when the lights are going out? Has this early vision ever known anything at all?

Sruti’s book, The Hidden Value of Not Knowing, is available as an audiobook and an eBook online at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IBZFPIM
The book can also be ordered in print form: http://www.blurb.com/b/7133487-the-hi…

For more information about Sruti please visit http://www.srutisangha.org

There Is Only One Enlightened Awareness


Published on Nov 25, 2016

A discussion about an ‘enlightened person’.

Michael A. Rodriguez ‘The Uncreated Light Of Awareness’ Interview by Renate McNay


Published on Nov 26, 2016

Michael A. Rodriguez is a spiritual Teacher and Author of the book “The Uncreated Light of Awareness”
In this interview Michael tells us about his spiritual yearning as a child and his voracious thirst for Truth, how he became disenchanted with academia and entering a monastic life. He ate, drank, breathed, lived and slept Non-Duality and went through a 5 year purification and alchemical transformation called “Poverty” by Meister Eckhart. He says: “If you think the Universe came first, you are it’s prisoner, when you know that you came first, you are free”.

Adyashanti – Exploring the Depth of Inquiry

Published on Nov 26, 2016

http://adyashanti.org – Adyashanti examines the common inquiry: Who am I?, and the common misconceptions that accompany it. Upon recognition of these unnecessary thought patterns, you can retire the old stories that encircle your mind and no longer serve you, and embrace the truth of your being. This brings to light the answers that have been ever-present, simply awaiting your acknowledgement. By paying attention to and trusting your own perception, the answers clarify themselves, and a new way of being emerges in front of you. Adyashanti reminds you that you need not wait for an answer, that all you have to do is explore the depth of your inquiry with sincerity and heart, to discover the answers that are ever-available and ever-present.

Video Excerpted From “The Awakened Nature of Being”:
http://bit.ly/2gekchI

Quotes from this video:

“This is the primary misunderstanding: I am the one that is conscious. Instead of: I am the consciousness itself.”

“When you think about it, you can always find a self. Then you stop thinking about it, and it’s gone.”

“The reason that I can’t see myself as anything specific is maybe because there isn’t one there.”

“The door to liberation is seeing: No, there isn’t some little entity that is aware. There isn’t a little me in there. Awareness itself is aware.”

Amoda Maa – Finding Peace in a Divided World

From the Berkeley Open Circle, November 2016.
With questions and answers.

Donald Trump Presidency – and His Jupiter Dasa ~ Sam Geppi


Published on Nov 23, 2016

This was recorded from a Facebook Live class. Trump has now changed from Rahu to Jupiter .. which could / should / May show some higher potential to come through. But how does Jupiter operate for him?

Your Parents Are NOT Responsible For Your Suffering – Adyashanti


Published on Nov 23, 2016

Spiritual teacher Adyashanti ‘forces’ us to take an honest look at how we blame our parents for our suffering. He reminds us that every single moment we can make the decision to let go of blaming and clinging to past events. If we do that we see that horrible things may have happened in the past, but they don’t determine our happiness in this present moment.

Tara Brach – The Wings of Awakening – Self-Honesty and Love (retreat talk)


Published on Nov 23, 2016

Tara Brach – The Wings of Awakening – Self-Honesty and Love (retreat talk)

We evolve our consciousness by bringing a clear and kind attention to the tangles of suffering. This talk explores how the “second arrow” of self-judgment imprisons us in emotional reactivity, and the pathways of awakening awareness that reconnect us with our full human potential. (This talk was given on November 6 at the 2016 IMCW fall retreat.)

photo: Jon McRay

John de Ruiter on Ramana Maharshi’s WHO AM I?

Published on Nov 23, 2016

Non-duality teacher John de Ruiter explains how Ramana Maharshi’s method on the enquiry on ‘Who Am I?’ works. We have to go beyond our conditioned Western minds in order to attain self-realization.

John de Ruiter is a Canadian-born philosopher, an awakened being and a non-duality teacher. John holds regular meetings exploring, through dialogue and silent connection, the foundations and subtleties of being alive.

Ramana Maharshi was an Indian Sage who inquired deeply on the question ‘Who Am I?’ and achieved enlightenment / self-realization.

Beyond The Clutter Of The Meaningless ~ by Etan Ilfeld

An Interview with Marianne Williamson on the role of the feminine, meditation and engaged spirituality in today’s world by Etan Ilfeld…

Etan Ilfeld: I notice that you mention God a lot, but you always use the masculine – why is that?

Marianne Williamson: I actually wrote a book called a Woman’s Worth, and it’s all about the Goddess – but I write primarily on the principles of the Course In Miracles. There’s one Truth and it’s spoken in many different ways. I do believe that they’re all just kaleidoscopic visions of universal, spiritual themes. But as someone who does lecture and write on the Course in Miracles, that is the language of the course; the traditional Judeo-Christian ‘God’ is He, and as I am Jewish and was raised Jewish, God being a he was never a problem for me. I appreciate that this may be a problem for some people and by all means they should use the language that works for them. Nobody up there is going “oh my god, get the words right!”

EI: Alanis Morissette played God in the film Dogma…
MW: As the Course in Miracles says, words are, at best, symbols. Now, I will say this as far as God being ‘he’. In the eastern religions there’s the Yin and the Yang. Yin is the feminine, earth principle and Yang is the masculine, sky or spirit principle. Now we call ‘Mother Earth’ feminine all the time – I never hear a man say “Why do we call it Mother Earth? Why don’t we call it FATHER Mother Earth?!”. Instinctively we relate to the energies of the earth as female; it’s kind of like a male or female plug, it’s not a genital issue, but it is a profound sense that the masculine enters into the feminine. In the sense that God is Masculine, Humanity is she, and the idea of God entering your heart, which is the mystical Christic perspective, that you are penetrated and impregnated by God, and out of your humanity, which is feminine, there is born the Christ which is neither masculine nor feminine. And so, there are ways in which the beautiful interplay of the masculine and feminine is experienced, as long as we keep it out of our anthropomorphic gender, genital based filters.

EI: You described a pseudo-Buddhist piece of Graffiti you once saw: “Don’t just do something, sit there!” . The Ego always wants to do something, and it’s important to, as you put it, “quietly seek the peace of God”. So often we forget that knowing how to not-do, is an action, too.

MW: Well, living in the modern world, we are constantly barraged by a clutter of ultimately meaningless stimulus. That’s day in, day out. Our ancestors didn’t have to deal with that, and the human brain literally is not set for that. When you do physical exercise you are training your physical muscles so that you can move. When you do spiritual exercise, you are training your internal, attitudinal muscles so you can remain motionless and non-reactive. People have no impulse control, the whole world has shpilkes, where the nervous system is like a crystal vase, too much water is coming in and everyone’s nervous system is shattered! And that’s what meditation helps with.

A lot of the spiritual reclamation of the soul has to do with the cultivation of a quiet mind, a quiet environment. In Judaism and Christianity, there is an expression: ‘the small still voice for God’. The ego speaks first and speaks loudest. And meditation gives us the capacity to hear this small still voice, that will not impose itself upon you but is there. Through meditation, prayer, serious spiritual practice we become finely tuned intuitional instruments.

EI: I understand you’ve got a new book coming out soon. I’d love to hear what it’s about.
MW: The title is ‘Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment’. View Here There has developed in our culture a way we’ve put a cheap yellow smile, the happy face, all over everything. It has given us a distrust of unhappiness. And just as there are storms in nature, and they serve a function, there are storms in normal life. People die, divorce, heartbreak, grief, financial loss, financial ruin, recovery, losing your job… and these can lead to very dark nights of trhe soul. What I think of as a psycho-therapeutic-pharmacological-industrial complex has kind of appropriated depression for its own purposes over the last few years, and woe to the person who questions that. Many depressing periods in life are certainly, validly deemed spiritual crises. And some may say “but you’re not a doctor!” and to them I would say, “How can I look to your mindset to heal a crisis of the soul if you don’t even acknowledge that the soul exists I hear people say that they have an anxiety disorder – this whole nation has an anxiety disorder!

Unfettered global capitalism is insane. The way we treat the planet is insane. We now know you can’t talk about the mental and emotional problems of an adolescent outside the context of the full family system. I think that now we need to talk about how we can’t take about the nature of individual suffering outside the context of the social-political structures of the nation. I think the issue is for us to realise is that over the last 100 years we have taken suffering and made it so much the issue of the individual that this has kept us from recognising some of the larger social forces that are depressing all of us, and that then keeps us from changing those forces.

EI: A Course in Miracles talks a lot about how Love and Fear are powerful drivers – the drivers. There’s a sentence that talks about how military power might try to take on terrorism, but only love has the power to dismantle the hate from which terrorism emerges. Could you explain that?

MW: First of all if, in the years previous to 9/11 if more people had seen the American flag decal on schools, roads, hospitals, supporting what they knew to be genuinely democratic institutions, then I think there might not have been a 9/11. There is no way to overestimate the part that the invasion of Iraq played in the creation of ISIL. In terms of spirituality, we have atoning to do. I don’t think Germany would be doing as well as it is today socially and economically if they had not done full mea culpa, full atonement, including reparations after World War 2.

Nations atone – the same spiritual principles that rule the transformation of an individual apply to a nation, because the nation is just a group of individuals. So, I don’t expect Tony Blair or George Bush to get on TV sometime soon and atone, but I think that is what we can do. The energy that pervades a system when a critical mass of the population comes to a new way of thinking can not be overestimated. The geopolitical economic principles that rule our society are not based on love, they’re based on short term economic gain for huge multinational corporate forces. As long as that is our bottom line as opposed to genuine humanitarian concern for a real effort to assuage unnecessary human suffering on this planet, then that will continue. Only deep spiritual reflectiveness and activism can make it right.

About the author: Marianne Williamson is an American spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. She has published eleven books, including four New York Times number one bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area, and the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a grassroots campaign supporting legislation to establish a United States Department of Peace. She serves on the Board of Directors of the RESULTS organization, which works to end poverty in the United States and around the world. Williamson is also the force behind Sister Giant, a series of seminars and teaching sessions that provides women with the information and tools needed to be political candidates. Through these seminars, she encourages women to run for office and align their politics with their spiritual values.

You can listen to the full interview on Watkins Books youtube channel.

Source: Watkins Magazine

True Stillness – Gangaji

Published on Nov 22, 2016

In this video spiritual teacher Gangaji explains what true stillness really is. It is not dependent on any circumstance and it is not dependent on our state of mind. But true stillness is our very nature, it is always there and we are it!

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