Lisa Miller, Professor & Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, discusses spiritual development as it pertains to children and adolescents.
Archive for November, 2016
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!
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.
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.
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)
article continues after advertisement
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.
article continues after advertisement
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
(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).
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…
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.
Published on Nov 27, 2016
An excerpt from the Berkeley Open Circle, November 2016
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
Published on Nov 25, 2016
A discussion about an ‘enlightened person’.
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”.
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”:
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.”
From the Berkeley Open Circle, November 2016.
With questions and answers.
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?
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.