Ken Wilber – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

With over two-dozen published books translated in nearly as many languages, Ken Wilber has created what is widely considered the first truly comprehensive Integral Map of human experience. By exploring and integrating the major insights and conclusions of nearly every human knowledge domain in existence, Wilber created the revolutionary AQAL Integral Framework. In short, the Integral Approach is the coherent organization, coordination, and harmonization of all of the relevant practices, methodologies, and experiences available to human beings. Wilber states: “You can’t [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy.” He is the founder of the nonprofit think tank Integral Institute, co-founder of the transformational learning community Integral Life, co-founder of Source Integral exploring the nature of Integral Society, and the current chancellor of Ubiquity University.

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The Wisdom of “It’s Not My Fault”: Finding Freedom When We are Caught in Self-Blame – Tara Brach

April 28, 2018

by Tara Brach: I sometimes think that the most basic truths are the ones that we most regularly forget, and one of them is: If we are turned on ourselves, we cannot love this life…
The turning on ourselves contracts us. In those moments, we are disconnected from our inner life and from each other. We move through the day with an undercurrent of I’m not okay, but are unaware of how much it’s affecting our capacity to relax and enjoy our moments.

In Buddhist teachings, the Buddha described two arrows. The first arrow is the natural experience that arises in this human animal that we are, for example: fear, aggression, greed, craving. The second arrow is self-aversion for the fact of the first arrow. We have the experience of being nasty, selfish or greedy, and we don’t like ourselves for that. That’s the second arrow. The Buddha says: “The first arrow hurts, why do we shoot the second arrow into us, ourselves?” And yet we do. He goes on to say: “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow; however, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.” The first arrow arises from causes and conditions beyond our control. But when we learn to release the judgment and self-blame that we experience in response to the first arrow, the second arrow becomes completely avoidable.

In order to be able to really bring compassion and friendliness to the first arrow, we must first understand that what is happening inside of us is a natural part of our survival conditioning. It is part of being human, and is really not our fault. Now, you might be thinking: Wait a minute! If I believe that it’s not my fault, how will I ever be accountable or responsible?

Causes and Conditions: Forces Beyond Our Control

The things that we most hate about ourselves are shaped by innumerable forces: They are conditioned by the primitive brain’s habits of aggression and craving, and amplified by genetic tendencies from past generations and the prevailing stories and mindset of our surrounding culture. We didn’t choose any of this. For instance, research is finding more and more that genetics affect a huge amount of our experience, right down to our “happiness quotient” and whether we are early or late risers. Other conditioning happens over the course of our life-experiences, whether we have been traumatized or abused or, perhaps, have suffered the less quantifiable kinds of deficits in attention, understanding, care and attunement from our care-givers. It’s very interesting to look at how the ways our parents or care-givers treated us are internalized and then that is how we end up treating ourselves.

Fifteen or sixteen years ago, I went shopping with one of my fellow teachers at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. We wanted to have a Buddha for our meditation community. We found a lovely Buddha with a kind an androgynous look and you could see the feminine and the masculine archetypes. We fell for it, and were excited to bring it into our sangha. The first Wednesday night, I introduced everybody to it and afterwards, I noticed that people were standing and, as they were looking at it, they were leaning a bit to the left. One person came over to me and she said, “Tara, it’s beautiful, but the cast is to the left. It’s leaning.” And so it was. It was an imperfect Buddha—a leaning Buddha. And I thought it was one of the coolest, most helpful teachings for our meditation community. This Buddha, that is still part of our community today, is a lovely Buddha, and it is subject to conditions that are beyond its control—somebody made a leaning cast. It’s not the Buddha’s fault.

>So, there are all of the forces at play that are completely out of our control, but we take them personally, like they are our fault. There is a stuck place, where our primitive brain and body activity—fear, aggression, craving—becomes my fear, my aggression, my craving.

Rather than being universal wiring in our nervous system, we get this feeling that what we are experiencing is uniquely ours. But when these experiences of anxiety, fear, jealousy, resentment, anger, aggression and so on arise in us, if we can get even a glimmer of understanding that it’s part of the human condition—it’s not my fear, it’s the fear—that shift can create the willingness, flexibility and gentleness that makes space for very deep healing to occur.

The Wisdom of It’s Not My Fault

When we can say,”It’s not my fault”, it actually enables us to be more responsible and more accountable. It’s the self-blame that actually locks us into repeating the patterning. Realizing that the first arrow is out of our control and releasing self-blame is the beginning of bringing forth the awareness that can free us from the pain of the second arrow.

You might bring to mind some situation that brings up self-blame, something that is hard to accept or hard to forgive. Some place where you’re caught in disliking yourself.

Now begin to shine the light of awareness on the edginess, the tightness around the heart, by sensing: Is this really my fault? See if you can sense that, like the leaning Buddha, there are conditions that you didn’t sign on for: the fears, anger and wants shaped by genetics, culture, life-experiences. And then see if you can open to the possibility that the first arrow—the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are driven by these feelings—is just part of this human inheritance. You didn’t choose this.

When we are not caught in self-blame, we are free to love this life. Opening to the possibility of It’s not my fault creates space for true intimacy with our world and deep inner freedom. When our actions arise from this openhearted presence, they naturally bring healing and nourishment to others.

Source: Tara Brach

The Seven Keys to Awakening – Leonard Jacobson

The most important key to awakening is to learn the art of being present. Being present is remarkably simple.

Gently remember to bring yourself present with something that is actually here. If you can see it, hear it, taste it, touch it or smell it, you can be present with it.

When you first wake up inthe morning, spend a few minutes being present with your body breathing. When you are having a shower, be present with the warmth of the water and the fragrance of the soap. Be present as you eat your breakfast. Be present as you wash the dishes. When you notice you have drifted off into the world of thought, memory and imagination, bring yourself back to the present moment.

It is only from Presence that you can be unconditionally loving and accepting of yourself. This includes all those things you would like to change about yourself such as jealousy, possessiveness, control, judgment, helplessness, inadequacy, blame, guilt, uncertainty, unworthiness, arrogance, expectation, resentment, anger, sadness, frustration, just to name a few.

To want to change any of these qualities in you is a subtle rejection of them, which is not unconditional acceptance. The key is to identify, own, acknowledge and confess all of these qualities, as they arise within you. Hide absolutely nothing from yourself. Own and acknowledge all of these things with love, acceptance and compassion. The more you own and accept whatever arises without judgment, the more you will relax and be released out of the past into deeper and deeper levels of Presence.

The second key to awakening is to come into right relationship with your feelings. This is only possible as you become present. There are many emotions from the past, which you repressed for good reason then. But now they want to be released, so it is necessary to find an opportunity to feel and express repressed emotions like anger, hurt, pain and sadness.

Just be present with the feelings whenever they arise within you. Allow them authentic expression, but do not identify with the story woven into the feelings. The feelings are from the past, which are projecting onto the present. Do not try to get rid of these feelings. That would be a judgment of them. Simply allow them to complete their journey through you. Once released, they will be gone forever.

It is important to take full responsibility for your emotional reactions. No one can make you angry unless you have anger repressed within you from your past. No one can hurt you unless you have hurt repressed within you from your past. As these repressed emotions are liberated from you, you will begin to feel a level of love, peace and freedom that you did not know was possible.

The third key to awakening is to own and acknowledge every aspect of who you have become. You are saying, “this is me, this is who I have become. I am possessive and controlling.” Or, “I am blaming. I get angry when I don’t get my own way.” Or, “I will not allow myself to get too close to people because I am afraid I might get rejected.”

By confessing and owning you have become, with love, acceptance and compassion, it is released. And you are freed to the level of Presence where none of these qualities exist. They cannot exist because they are not a part of the true nature of Being. They exist only at the level of mind.

The fourth key to awakening is to come into right relationship with the ego. The ego is not the enemy. It is your friend and protector in a painful world where no one is truly present. Once you know the ego’s true role in your life, you will come to appreciate it. You will befriend it, and gradually the ego will relax and it will allow you to be more present. As you become established in Presence, the ego will surrender and its role in your life will be transformed.

The fifth key is to bring conscious awareness to all the ways that you lose yourself in others. If you look to others for love, acceptance or approval, you are losing yourself in them. If you fear judgment or rejection from others, then you are losing yourself and you are giving away your power and your freedom. To awaken is to come back to yourself, and to release yourself from entanglement in others.

The sixth key to awakening is to accept full responsibility for yourself. This will release you from the world of expectation, resentment, blame and guilt. It will lead you into total freedom.

The final key to awakening is to let go. Dance, celebrate, lose control!

Excerpt from “Words from Silence”(Revised Edition) by Leonard Jacobson. pp.128-131.

Source: AWAKEN

An Enactment of a Single Desire -Rupert Spira

Published on Apr 27, 2018

A man deeply touched by understanding asks, ‘Who is speaking and who is listening?’

Time & Space: Concept or Reality? Is Time Travel Really Possible ? || Sadhguru || Adiyogi

A seeker asks Sadhguru, is it true that time and space do not really exist? Only because you have a physical body, Sadhguru answers, are time and space a reality in your experience.

Yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru is a spiritual master with a difference. An arresting blend of profundity and pragmatism, his life and work serves as a reminder that yoga is a contemporary science, vitally relevant to our times.

The Emergence and Evolution of Life: Stuart Kauffman

heoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman gives us a whirlwind tour of the cutting edge ideas and research that explores the molecular basis of the evolution of life. He describes how self-reproducing molecular systems emerge spontaneously with the help of autocatalytic sets, and declares that life cannot be predicted, and is absolutely beyond physics.

Science And NonDuality is a community inspired by timeless wisdom, informed by cutting-edge science, and grounded in personal experience. We come together in an openhearted exploration to further our individual and collective evolution. New ways of being emerge. We embody our interconnectedness and celebrate our humanity.

Can the Guru change the Karma of a person? – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

You take the name of the departed one and you take some sesame seeds and water and pour it onto a plate. Why do you do this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains the ritual which show your gratitude to departed souls and can the Guru change the karma of a person, and when does that happen?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founded The Art of Living as an international, non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization in 1982. Its educational and self-development programs offer powerful tools to eliminate stress and foster a sense of well-being through powerful breathing techniques such as Sudarshan Kriya and Yoga. Appealing not only to a specific population, these practices have proven effective globally at all levels of society.

Secrets of Karma – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar decodes the secret of karma in a very light talk with very simple analogies. This talk makes the concept of karma, the mysterious concept of cause and effect easy to understand. Sri Sri combines the wisdom from different scriptures and presents in a way that is easy to relate with. He simplifies this intriguing concept and then in the end, quotes the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna advices one to relax and not get too preoccupied with karma in day to day activities.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founded The Art of Living as an international, non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization in 1982. Its educational and self-development programs offer powerful tools to eliminate stress and foster a sense of well-being through powerful breathing techniques such as Sudarshan Kriya and Yoga. Appealing not only to a specific population, these practices have proven effective globally at all levels of society.

What is Yoga?
The secret to health and happiness lies deep within every human. Yoga is the science of discovering one’s own self – the very source of pure consciousness, peace and bliss. Everyone knows that we don’t feel good and we get stressed when there is disharmony in our lives, when our bodies are tired and our busy minds constantly chatter and judge. Through the discipline of Yoga we become more aware of ourselves by doing simple postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation to rejuvenate the body and quite the mind. It is in this manner that we cultivate harmony in ourselves.

What is Meditation?
Settling the surface mind is meditation. Living in the present is meditation. Relaxing deeply is meditation. When you are really happy, reposing in love, you are meditating. Meditation is that space when the thoughts have subsided, and the mind is in complete rest.

What is Sudarshan Kriya?
Sudarshan Kriya incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath which harmonize the body, mind and emotions. This unique breathing technique eliminates stress, fatigue and negative emotions such as anger, frustration and depression, leaving you calm yet energized, focused & yet relaxed. It increases energy, improves intuition and makes you innovative. Millions around the world have done this unique practice and have reported better quality of life.

Majorie Woollacott – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Marjorie Hines Woollacott, PhD, has been a neuroscience professor at the University of Oregon for more than three decades and a meditator for almost four. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation for 35 years, she has coauthored a popular textbook for health professionals that is in its 5th edition, and has written more than 180 peer-reviewed research articles—several of which were on meditation, the topic that motivated her to write the book Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind.

As a neuroscientist, Marjorie Woollacott had no doubts that the brain was a purely physical entity controlled by chemicals and electrical pulses. When she experimented with meditation for the first time, however, her entire world changed. Woollacott’s journey through years of meditation has made her question the reality she built her career upon and has forced her to ask what human consciousness really is. 

Infinite Awareness (winner of the 2017 Parapsychological Association Book Award, Eric Hoffer Book Award and the Nautilus Book Award) pairs Woollacott’s research as a neuroscientist with her self-revelations about the mind’s spiritual power. Between the scientific and spiritual worlds, she breaks open the definition of human consciousness to investigate the existence of a non-physical and infinitely powerful mind.

Website: http://marjoriewoollacott.com

Marjorie is the president of an organization called The Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences, which she co-founded with Gary Schwartz at the U. of Arizona. The organization hopes to help impel the paradigm shift away from materialism

Awakening and Enlightenment – Arjuna Ardagh

Many people may wonder: Does this process of Awakening Coaching lead to Enlightenment? Before we can answer this question, we have to have some reference for what this word “Enlightenment” means. It has been used quite freely in English in the last forty years or so, generally to refer to some kind of absolute state of arrival: the final destination in the journey of evolution.

I have had an opportunity to talk to many people over the years about this word, and I can report to you that there is no shared agreement at all about its meaning, or about who would qualify as “Enlightened.” Since not everyone agrees about what the word means, or even if it means anything at all, we have to accept that it is a concept to which we can attribute whatever meaning we choose.

The important thing about concepts is not so much whether they are true or false, but what effect they have on our lives. What happens to the quality of your life in this moment if you install the “Enlightenment” plug-in into your belief systems?

People often pin this word on to certain predictable figures, either living or dead. In recent years some of the recipients of this projection have been Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Bhagwan Rajneesh (Osho), Amrit Desai, Werner Erhard, Baba Muktananda, and many more.

One possible outcome of pinning this word onto another human being is that when they turn out to have some very human characteristics, we feel disappointed and betrayed. There have been many teachers from the Orient in recent years whose followers have put them on a pedestal. Then later it was discovered that the teacher was preaching celibacy but actually having sex with underage girls. Or the teacher was presented as a monk with no possessions, but was actually amassing money in Swiss bank accounts. There have been all sorts of discrepancies like this. The teacher only falls because they were set up above the human condition. You have to put somebody on a pedestal in order for them to fall off. This is one consequence of the “Enlightenment” myth.

We also can explore what this concept does to the quality of this moment. Generally, when most people speak of “Enlightenment,” they speak of a future state, or the state of another person. “Just now, I’m not Enlightened, but in the future, or that person up on that podium there, that is Enlightenment.” What does that do to your experience of the present moment? If you hold a concept of a better future, or of somebody who is better than you up on a podium, what does it do to your experience of now? To your capacity to love?

If you make your life about getting to be “Enlightened” later, then your attention is not on what is going on here in your life now. It can easily become another kind of ambition.

Recently, I took a train from Vienna to Munich.
It is a spectacularly beautiful ride, through the Austrian countryside. My organizer had bought a Second Class ticket for me. Everything was perfectly good. I had a table in front of me. There was a place to recharge the computer; the dining car was nearby. Everything was fine. Then I went to look for the bathroom. I stepped into the next carriage, and I found myself in First Class. The seats were leather and reclined a little more. “Looks good,” I thought. I asked the conductor how much extra I would have to pay to sit here. 40 Euros more. Not bad. Then I walked a little further down the carriage. I found a private compartment. This was not just First Class, it was VIP Business Class. You get your own little light; the seat reclines all the way back. “Fantastic! I have to sit here.”

Life is always like that: there is always an upgrade. You can upgrade your seat, you can upgrade the RAM in your computer, you can upgrade your car, your house, your job. You can even upgrade your husband or your wife. In fact, for most of us, our entire life is about upgrades. These are the symptoms of the generic discontent we suffer from in Western countries: always wanting more, and different, and better.

As I was standing in the Business Class compartment of this Austrian train, thinking how fantastic this could be for me, I stopped. “Arjuna,” I said to myself. “It is perfectly fine where you already are. It will make no difference to your enjoyment of the ride to sit here. The views of the mountains are already stunning.” I went back to my seat in Second Class and thoroughly enjoyed my train journey.

Enlightenment is the ultimate neurosis of upgrade. You can drive yourself crazy thinking, “There is something wrong with me as I am. I’m having thoughts. Oh, my God, now I’m having negative thoughts. Now I’m thinking about ice cream. I’m having feelings in my body. I’m having feelings down here, in my groin. I need to become Enlightened.”

The possibility is not that you fulfill the fantasy of the upgrade, but that you go back to your seat and enjoy the ride of your human life. We are not talking here about an idea of Enlightenment, or about becoming better in any way. Awakening is different from that. It means to really see things as they already are. Not to upgrade, but to recognize that this moment is already perfect. What can you see just now? What can you hear? Who is close to you? Who could you reach out and touch or kiss? There are so many blessings, so easily overlooked in the stampede for more, and different, and better.

This moment is already perfect as it is; it does not have to change. It is being experienced by consciousness, which also doesn’t have to change, because it cannot change. It is infinite. For the shift we are talking about, we use the word “awakening.” It ends with “I–N–G.” A moment of awakening is always now, and now, and now. No brownie points are awarded, no certificate is issued. When we put “E–D” at the end of a word, like “EnlightenED,” it becomes about a state; it refers to a moment of graduation, an event in time. “Back in 1991 I became Enlightened.” Congratulations. But what about now? This moment is a moment of awakening. Only this moment: all else has been forgotten.

So awakening is not the same as “Enlightenment.” It needs no fancy capital letter at the start. It is part of ordinary life. It needs no pedestal. I have done a lot of research on this over the last twenty years. When people fall into awakening in the way that we are describing here, into a recognition of that which is experiencing this moment, the word “Enlightenment” just evaporates; it has no meaning, in either the present or the future. If you ask someone, while they are resting as spaciousness, “Are you enlightened?” they generally just laugh. It doesn’t mean anything. If you ask, “Are you trying to become enlightened?” they laugh again.

You might know my 2005 book, The Translucent Revolution. I asked everybody I interviewed these same questions: “Are you enlightened? Are you trying to become enlightened?” Out of the 170 people I interviewed, nobody said “yes.” They either laughed and said, “I don’t even know what that means,” or they laughed and said, “No.” People were neither claiming it as a present state, nor seeking it as a future state.

People who taste awakening cancel their subscription to this concept. They cancel their subscription to this idea of trying to make this human being perfect. Awakening means not only to drop into a recognition of the awareness that is experiencing this moment, but also to drop into an easygoing acceptance of the way this human animal is, which may be in some ways imperfect. It may have its health issues, it may become forgetful as it gets older, it may be irritable, it may have cravings for things, it has its desires. There might be some interest in training it to behave in an acceptable way, one that is more pleasant to other people; but to try to make this animal perfect is dropped as an unnecessary effort.

From Better than Sex by Arjuna Ardagh.
Source: Arjuna Ardagh


Awaken Interviews Dr. Steve Taylor – The Collective Awakening Is Occurring

Donna Quesada: Oh, this person is awakened or this person is a spiritual teacher…everything is perfect for this person…they’ve got it all figured out. But not necessarily.

Dr. Steve Taylor: That’s true, yeah. I think that is one of the greatest myths about enlightenment or spiritual awakenings. That it makes all problems disappear. That life becomes completely easy. And people cease to have any emotions…to feel sadness or anger. That kind of thing. I think one of the issues is there are lots of degrees of wakefulness. I think that people that are very highly awakened—a very high intensity of wakefulness—they may cease to be angry…cease to feel sadness. And they may have a completely empty mind, and no longer experience disturbances of mood or thought. But that’s quite rare. They still react to challenges in their life. They still feel stressed by the challenges of life. They feel sadness when negative things happen.

And in some cases, personality traits which they have had all their lives may not disappear. They may even be exacerbated by awakening. I think sometimes…it happens especially a lot with spiritual teachers. We’ve all found out about narcissistic spiritual teachers. Spiritual teachers who exploit people who are not as perfect as they seem. And that’s often because somebody experiences an awakening and maybe there was a little narcissism in their previous personality which has not completely disappeared. A little bit of ego-eccentricity or hedonism and if they become a spiritual teacher, those traits can be exacerbated. The role of a spiritual teacher can exacerbate narcissism. Especially if you have a lot of, sort of…fawning admirers. Whatever you do, they still give you admiration, even if you behave negatively or unethically. So, you start to lose perspective and a little bit of narcissism can be massively inflated to the degree where it becomes quite destructive.

DONNA: What is the best way to deal with negative personality traits or to deal with…even, things like anger. I’ll jump just a little bit. Now a days mindfulness has become such a buzz word. And even therapists are taking to it as a modality to use with their patients, which is good. I see it as a positive movement to incorporate meditative styles and practices like mindfulness into their approach with patients who suffer from anxiety, for example. But is that enough to deal with problems like anger or problems like anxiety? And if its not enough, then what is the best way to deal with these traits and tendencies?

STEVE: I think it can be helpful, you know? The essence of mindfulness is that it teaches you not to identify with your thoughts and your emotions. It teaches you to step back and observe them as if they were a process passing by. And that can be very helpful because if you identify with a thought or an emotion, there is a process of intensification that happens. The emotion becomes stronger. The thoughts…they gain more momentum. They start to multiply. And there is a very close relationship between thought and feeling. The more negative thoughts you think, the more negative feelings you have. And the more negative feelings produce more negative thoughts.

DONNA: It feeds itself.

STEVE: Yeah. It’s a vicious cycle. But if you withdraw your identity from that process, then it’s a bit like a car which has run out of gas. It slowly stumbles to a halt. So, that can happen. The flow of thoughts and emotions slowly eases away when you dis-identify with it. So, that can be helpful. But I think what’s even more helpful, going beyond that, is that if you transcend your separateness and if you experience a sense of connectedness with nature, with human beings, with the whole cosmos, then negativity still exists but it doesn’t disturb you as much. If you have a cup of water and you drop a poison in a cup of water, it’s deadly. It can kill you. But, if you put a drop of poison in a lake, it just dissipates and ceases to be dangerous.

DONNA: And is that because you are the water, or you are relating to something as big as the water and so the upset diminishes, in terms of the perspective you have on it.

STEVE: Yeah. You are no longer trapped in a narrow ego-eccentric view, which can be very disturbing, and events can disturb you tremendously. If you have openness and connectedness, then events don’t disturb you as much. You have a sense of equanimity…a sense of calmness. Just like the surface of the lake. So, any disturbance will quickly pass away without causing much negativity.

DONNA: We haven’t really used the “G” word. Sometimes, when I’m talking about these issues, even myself…and by the G word, I mean God. People get nervous around the idea of God…the utterance of God. And when you use the analogy of water, I think…Wow! We are identifying with something so big, so vast, so infinite, that all of these disturbances that are part of material life seem to shrink in importance. And yet, we haven’t really called it God. Is that something that we need to identify with? Does God fit in to this picture of Awakening? Or do we even need to use that word?

STEVE: Well, personally, I’m a bit reluctant to use the G word. Maybe that’s because I don’t have a religious background. Well, I think one of the issues with the word God is, it means something different to a lot of people…to most religious people. The way you were using the word God there…the inference you were using it in, doesn’t have the same meaning to most religious people. Most people think of God in kind of a anthropomorphic way—as an almighty being who can intervene and control the events of the world. And I think what we are talking about is much less personal…much less anthropomorphic, and something that is not apart from human beings…something that is part of our own being. And I think there are lots of religious mystics that have used God in that sense. The meaning of God, which religious mystics used was very different than the meaning of God that most other conventional religious people used. So, I think it can be a little problematic to use that word God. But it doesn’t matter too much and if you want to use that word, it’s fine.

DONNA: As we wind down toward the end of our hour, I’m remembering something else you said that struck me. We’ll switch gears a little bit. You know this notion of awakening and those who aren’t awakened…it seems like today we see so many people in positions of power who should not be in positions of power. And if I’m quoting you correctly, you said, “those people who are drawn to power are exactly or precisely the people who should not be in positions of power.” And so, it makes me wonder, why aren’t more awakened people stepping into positions of leadership? And, I guess, it’s a piggy-back question. I would like you to explain that a little bit more. Why are people who shouldn’t be in power drawn to power and why aren’t awakened people drawn to leadership, so that we can kind of steer this ship in a better direction?

STEVE: I think it has a lot to do with the structures of our society. And positions of power are usually reserved for wealthy people or people that have very high status. But mostly, in our society, positions of power are filled with people that have a strong ego-centricity. People who have a strong desire for dominance and control. And as you say, they are completely the wrong people. Most politicians are not particularly altruistic…are not particularly idealistic. Some are, definitely. But the majority are usually self-seeking, ambitious people, who have this strong need for power and dominance. And the problem is that these people, because they have such a strong desire for power…they are not altruistic, compassionate…not responsible. They are usually not sensible. So usually, they are precisely the wrong people. But you know, in my book, The Fall, I did a lot research about indigenous societies and a lot of indigenous peoples have very sensible attitudes to power. In most cases it wasn’t people deciding they wanted to be leaders and putting themselves forward. Leaders would be chosen by the group. And even if a person didn’t want to be a leader, they would have to take the role of a leader.

DONNA: Ah…

STEVE: So, the group would choose who were the wisest, most sensible people…most responsible people. And they would give them the responsibilities of being leaders. And if people had the impulse to be leaders, they were usually put to one side and were known to be dangerous individuals because they had that desire for power.

DONNA: Wow.

STEVE: They were sometimes ostracized or even asked to leave the group. So that’s a lot more sensible and I think we should do that in our society. Spiritual teachers do not want to be politicians usually because they want to be connected to people on the ground. They don’t want to distance themselves from other people in a position of power above the hierarchy. They want to share their wakefulness with other people on the ground, so to speak. And they are not interested in wealth or in power, they are interested in altruism. Why should they be a politician? It would be their worst nightmare!

DONNA: Maybe it’s some of this too…in spiritual teachings, there is always this invitation to turn the pointer inward…to look at achieving your own inner peace first…and to recognize the connection of that to the ripple effect it will have on the rest of world as opposed to just going out for a march. There’s this understanding that it doesn’t matter how many unenlightened people go out for a march, you can’t change the world in that way. It has to start on the inside. And I think that spiritual people have a greater sensitivity to that and to the importance of that. And that’s sometimes misunderstood. How can you change the world by sitting on your cushion and meditating? How on earth is that going to do any good? Can you speak to that at all?

STEVE: Yeah, good point but I think another one of the myths about spiritual awakening is that people become detached from the world…become indifferent to the world. They don’t care about politics, they’re just kind of blissing out and enjoying their own inner peace. But I think that is a myth. Truly awakened, genuinely awakened people become very concerned for the well being of others. And they want to make a contribution to the wellbeing of the whole human race. So, in many cases, they do become socially conscious and they do become socially active…even politically active. And in a more general sense, they want to contribute altruistically to the wellbeing of other people. And that arises naturally from the compassion that awakened people feel. Once you transcend ego separateness, your own desires or needs are no longer so important to you. But, other peoples’ needs become more important to you. You feel this identification with the whole human race…with the sufferings of the whole human race. And because you feel other people’s suffering so intensely…you want to alleviate that suffering.

DONNA: …And animals, too, and the environment too.

STEVE: Yeah. And even your own body. I think in the unawakened state, people have a hostile relationship with their own body. They don’t treat their bodies particularly well. They have a bad diet. They don’t exercise. They drink to excess, and so on. But, in awakening, you feel a sense of responsibility for your own body. You feel a desire to take care of your body…to treat your body well. Partly because you are more integrated with your body. You are no longer a separate ego. Your body becomes part of your being.

DONNA: Well, Steve, we are just about at the end of our hour and I’d like to ask you if there is anything else you would like to share with the Awaken.com listeners? Or anything that is on your mind that you’d like to bring attention to?

STEVE: Yes, maybe one thing I’d like to share before we’re finished. I talked a little bit earlier about how when people go through suffering in their lives, it can be the trigger for spiritual awakening. Like, when people are dying of cancer or suffering, or of bereavement…and I think that applies on a collective level as well. I think the collective difficulties we are encountering now in the whole of our species…the economic problems, the political turmoil, the environmental problems, and so on…they could be acting as a spur for a collective awakening. The collective awakening is occurring. And perhaps it is occurring in response to the crises we are going through. So, on every level, suffering has a potential positive effect. There is always a positive transformation aspect to any suffering that we go through…either as individuals or as a species.

DONNA: Something to keep in mind lest we fall into despair at the state of things!

STEVE: Yeah, which is easy to do!

DONNA: I’ll take that as an optimistic nod. We’re ready for a positive change and move in a better direction.

STEVE: I think so.

DONNA: Good! Well, then I will thank you again for sharing your time with us this morning…or evening for you. You lecture in Leeds, is that right?

STEVE: That’s right. Three days a week I’m a lecturer in psychology, back at University of Leeds.

DONNA: Wonderful. And would you mention your most recent book one more time and we’ll leave that title fresh on our readers’ minds?

STEVE: Yeah. My last book, which was published in 2017, was called The Leap; The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.

DONNA: Well, Thank you. Thank you, again. I look forward to future works from you and it was a pleasure to get to know you.

STEVE: Yeah, likewise…thanks a lot.

Awaken Interviews Dr. Steve Taylor Part I – Natural Wakefulness and Experiences of Mysticism
VIEW HERE

Source: AWAKEN

What Is Precious Can’t Be Stolen – Rupert Spira 

Published on Apr 20, 2018

A man seeks guidance with respect to his anxiety around money.

Consciousness vs Matter – A talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Consciousness vs Matter – A talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founded The Art of Living as an international, non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization in 1982. Its educational and self-development programs offer powerful tools to eliminate stress and foster a sense of well-being through powerful breathing techniques such as Sudarshan Kriya and Yoga. Appealing not only to a specific population, these practices have proven effective globally at all levels of society.

What is the Awakening of the Divine Feminine? ~ Nikki Starr Noce, M.D.

Many of you may be feeling the energetic shift that has been happening on the planet that is affecting humanity on a large scale. Many people talk about the awakening of humanity into greater consciousness. Some describe this as a “spiritual awakening.” What this means is being mindful and aware about the life we are creating. It’s about giving greater meaning to things and knowing that our actions affect others and create our future.

Part of this awakening of consciousness includes the awakening of the divine feminine (and the divine masculine too). I’d like to highlight the awakening of the divine feminine, because for so long the feminine has been suppressed in all of existence on this Earth, and in some cultures it still is today.

If you look at the common religions of the world today, there has been no place for women other than as nuns or as mother figures of the great men who were born to do great things. Women have rarely held leadership positions, and even today women do much less so compared to men. But this is changing.

Feminine doesn’t only have to do with females, nor does masculine only with males. Within each one of us lives feminine and masculine. Certain traits and ways of being can be categorized as masculine versus feminine. Focus, for example is masculine, while multitasking is feminine, and these are traits that serve both men and women, though typically women embody more feminine traits and men more masculine.

Long ago existed matriarchal societies where women led and made much of the decisions. During the most recent millennia, our society has been driven by males with very masculine force. The use of war and destruction to create was, and still is, a big problem that doesn’t allow for harmony and peace to prevail on the planet. There is great strength in gentleness too, but the ideas of compassion and kindness seem foreign to most people when it comes to business and politics.

There has been so much doing and busyness (both masculine approaches) to creating the modern day world we see today, which was built on top of Nature instead of in harmony with her. Many have forgotten their connection with the Earth and have forgotten how to simply be. The focus on money as the end result, instead of more love, has led to much dis-ease and suffering on the planet.

Subconscious to many women, there is an undercurrent of anger at the masculine, for what has happened on the planet over the last thousands of years, which took the form of feminism. From genocide to the pornography industry driving human trafficking, to the lack of women’s rights, slavery, war, the destruction of Nature, the list goes on. It’s more challenging for women to do such things compared to men because we women are naturally more in touch with our feminine side and the Earth. However, even for us, much of our feminine has been dormant because there has been no space for it during these overly masculine times.

Thankfully, the awakening of the feminine divine is happening. It’s about awakening even more compassion, softness, gentleness, surrender, flowing, creativity, beingness, empathy, vulnerability, understanding, patience, beauty, thoughtfulness and nurturing. It’s about connecting back to the Earth, each other and all beings and things, healing our wounds, forgiving what has happened while making conscious choices about how we wish to create our future–together.

It’s about honoring and being in devotion to both the divine feminine and the divine masculine in its balanced, healthy, complementary forms. Men and the masculine are equally as important as women and the feminine for the evolution and continuation of our planet. When this happens, balance blossoms–flow with direction, discipline with compassion, unconditional love, presence with multitasking, strength with gentleness, graceful will, etc.

Source: Nikki Starr Noce, M.D.

Stephen Snyder ‘The Transformative and The Transcendent’ Interview by Iain McNay

Published on Apr 18, 2018

Stephen Snyder ‘The Transformative and The Transcendent’ Interview by Iain McNay
Stephen is the co-author of ‘Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable PA Auk Sayadaw.’ 

 He has been a Buddhist practitioner for over 40 years. In the 70’s he read ‘Three Pillars Of Zen’ which started him on his path of meditation and then a few years later he had a significant awakening experience which showed him the nature of reality. He discovered the Jhana path of meditation and found he strongly connected with that. 

He now works with Tina Rasmussen teaching meditation and is also a practicing lawyer. He has found that it is really important to work on the Transformative and The Transcendent and talks in detail about this in the interview. http://www.awakeningdharma.com

Adyashanti – The Root Cause of Suffering


What would it be like to not be attached to your ideas, beliefs, and opinions? Without dismissing your beliefs, you can take a step back, and not be so limited and restricted by them. Adyashanti looks afresh at attachment, the suffering it creates, and offers up an open stance of being.

Quotes from this Video:

“We all know that in almost every form of spirituality, attachment is seen as an essential difficulty. It’s one of the root causes of not only suffering for our self, but also the way we project the suffering out into the world.”

“We all know what it’s like to be attached to our own ideas, our own opinions, our point of view. To be attached doesn’t mean to simply have a point of view. You can have a point of view, you can have a belief, you can have an opinion–without being attached to it. It’s pretty rare, but it’s possible.”

Anne Baring – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview


Anne Baring, born 1931. MA Oxon. Jungian analyst. Author and co-author of 7 books. The ground of all her work is a deep interest in history and the spiritual, mythological, shamanic and artistic traditions of different cultures. Her website is devoted to the affirmation of a new vision of reality and the challenges facing us at this crucial time of choice. It includes her many talks, lectures and seminars as well as interviews and talks on YouTube.

Books:

The Dream of the Cosmos
The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image
The Divine Feminine: Exploring The Feminine Face of God Around The World
The Mystic Vision: Daily Encounters with the Divine
Soul Power: An Agenda for a Conscious Humanity

Awaken Interviews Dr. Steve Taylor – Natural Wakefulness And Experiences of Mysticism

Posted on April 14, 2018

Donna Quesada: You’ve written so extensively about the subject of awakening…what led you to this aspect of your work?

Dr. Steve Taylor: For me, personally, I think I was always a person that showed natural wakefulness…from the age of 16 or 17, I was aware of what I would now call “spiritual experiences.” But at the time, I didn’t understand them.

DONNA: So, you had a natural experience that wasn’t inspired by any kind of practice at all? You were a teenager?

STEVE: That’s right. I was 16. The thing that I really liked to do as a teenager, was wander around in nature…wander around the parks looking at the sky…looking at the trees. I’d just feel a sense of quietness and a sense of connection to nature…the natural scenery around me…feel a sense of wholeness and kind of like an elation, a kind of euphoria. But I didn’t understand it at the time. I used to write poetry to try and describe some of these experiences, but my background wasn’t a spiritual background. I didn’t have a religious background or a spiritual background. So, at the time, I didn’t understand these experiences. I tried to explain it to people and they thought I was crazy. So, after a while, I thought it was crazy as well. I thought there was something wrong with me. For a long time, I was confused and I couldn’t accept myself for a long time. It was only accidentally, when I was 21 or 22 years old, that I picked up a book about Mysticism. I was drawn to it in a book shop. And when I read the book about mysticism, I suddenly recognized my own experiences. I thought, wow, this is what’s happened to me. So, I suddenly had a framework or context to make sense of my experiences, which was very, very helpful.

DONNA: Did that lead to a more formal practice or a search for a teacher, perhaps?

STEVE: Yeah, because even though at that point, I finally understood myself…I finally accepted myself…there were still some difficulties…some challenges…the kind of life-style I was living. At that time, I was a musician. So, the kind of life-style I was living, wasn’t conducive to spirituality. Lots of late nights. Playing gigs. Lots of drinking and smoking and that kind of thing. It took me a few years to learn to meditate on a daily basis. So, by the end of my 20’s I was meditating on a daily basis. And I began to find a stability and I began to integrate my spirituality into my daily life. And I changed my life to fit my spirituality. I became a vegetarian, stopped smoking, stopped drinking, that kind of thing. So, it took me a while to find a stable base and meditation was definitely a part of it.

DONNA: So, it’s funny…you were a musician…and drinking and smoking and all of that. On the other hand, you were that third group…that has a natural, deep feeling about life. And the sense that there is something more…and the tendency to ask questions and to experience things on a deeper level. It reminds me of something my own teacher said—David and I have the same teacher—and he was talking about the hippies. And he was saying that people tend to think of them as sort of rebels and outcasts and all of that, but the reality is, they are actually closer to enlightenment than they are given credit for. The mainstream is off. The way we are doing things is somehow under the thumb of propaganda. And government can be oppressive and they are sensitive to all these things. They’re almost ahead of their time in their awareness of things that just don’t feel right. They want a new spirituality…they want a new way of living. They’re asking questions that the mainstream isn’t asking.

STEVE: I think that’s very true. I think the hippies were a very significant social movement. I wrote a book called The Fall, where I said that most of the human race’s problems in history have been due to our intensified sense of ego and sense of self. So, we have a sense of separateness to nature which leads us to exploit nature. We have a sense of separateness to our own bodies which leads to sexual repression…towards hostility to sexual desire. I think the hippies, to explain it in more detail…about 300 years ago, there was a social movement, a collective shift in consciousness which began in the 18th Century. The second half of the 18th Century. I call that the “Trans-Fall” movement. It’s when human beings began to move beyond separateness…beyond the super intense sense of ego. So, there was a new sense of compassion. A new sense of egalitarianism and democracy and so on. And that has continued since then and I think the hippie movement was a significant part of that. It was a time when men became more feminine. It was a time for new openness to the body and sexuality. And it was a time when people identified with indigenous cultures. It was a time when people felt a connection to nature and a desire to explore transcendent states of consciousness. So, in some ways, I think it was an expression of evolution, this evolutionary movement which I spoke about earlier. This movement beyond separateness and to a deeper state of consciousness.

DONNA: Seems like we are talking about oneness and unity. That is the common thread that runs through…I’ll go ahead and use the ‘E’ word. The enlightenment traditions of the world…whether we are coming from a Taoist platform or a Hindu platform, or a Buddhist platform…it seems like this thread of continuity has to do with overcoming our sense of separateness. And nature, from that point of view, can be a conduit to waking up because it can inspire the sense of awe…I’m a part of something bigger than me.

STEVE: Oh, definitely. Funny enough, in my research as a psychologist I’ve done quite a bit of research on awakening experiences which are temporary experiences of transcendence. They usually fade away after a few minutes or a few hours. They are just a temporary glimpse of wakefulness. And nature is one of the biggest triggers of awakening experiences. So often when people are swimming in the ocean, or swimming in a lake, or walking in the mountains…or even, just lying in the park on a sunny day…that’s when awakening experiences often occur, due to the effect of contact with nature. I think nature has a quality of stillness. It enables us to calm down. Our minds begin to slow down. Our minds empty and some space opens up inside us. A bit of space opens up between our thoughts, and we somehow get in touch with deeper levels of our own being. We transcend separateness.

DONNA: Do you think art can do that, as well? When you were just describing that, at this moment, I was thinking about the word sublime. You know the German philosopher, Kant, talked about the sublime…when we are confronted with something that words cannot describe. And I feel like that experience in nature is not unlike the experience we have with art. And also, like a spiritual experience.

STEVE: Yeah. In fact, that was another significant trigger of Awakening experiences. Witnessing a crazy performance…a lot of people talked about going to the theatre to see a dance performance…listening to music…and they would experience this more expansive state of consciousness. Yes, I think in the same way, art can give way to transcendence. It can open up our minds. It can open up space inside us. And it can remind us, or connect us to a higher reality.

DONNA: So, when I was preparing for this interview, I was reading some of your work where you talk about dogs. As an animal lover myself, I want to switch gears just a little bit and take advantage of your time and ask you about that…because having two dogs myself, I was relating very much to the stories you were telling. You were talking about empathy. And how we are not the only ones with this quality of empathy. When we can almost predict what the other will do or sense what the other is thinking. You were saying how dogs know when their owners are coming home…and that they did some tests…and the dogs would go to the window as soon as the owner was on their way home…and they repeated the tests and they were able to demonstrate that the dogs did have an overwhelming sensitivity and connection to their owners. So, this makes me wonder if humans are the only ones. And I don’t think we are…that have this quality of connection that we have been talking about. Would you be able to comment on that?

STEVE: Well, I think in some sense, all living beings are inter-connected. We share the same fundamental consciousness. You know, that’s what compassion is. If I feel compassionate towards someone’s suffering, I am sensing their own inner being. I am sharing…that’s what empathy is. When we perform acts of kindness…that’s triggered by our shared sense of being. And that works on kind of a psychic level, too. If I think about a person and they call me in the next second. Or, if I have a dream and I meet that person in my dream the next day…that works through the inter-connectedness between us. We share the same collective mind. That enables us to be telepathic.

The problem with human beings is because of our egos. These strong and separate sense of egos. We kind of isolate ourselves from the ocean of being. We become like separate islands within the ocean and we sometime lose the ability to empathize with one another and the ability to sense other people’s suffering…and people’s intentions or thoughts. But animals…because they don’t have the sense of ego that we have, they’re actually more connected to us and to each other, which is why it has been shown many times, that dogs have this psychic connection with their owners.

DONNA: Yes, Well, I’ve experienced it. And so, I took an interest in that. It’s not only sensing when their owners are coming home…although, how could we know that?…we are not home to watch their behavior. But certainly, being in car rides you can tell that when we turn in certain directions that are different than the usual route, they sense something different has happened. They are somehow in tune in a different way than we are.

STEVE: Yes, I think so. They share this unity of being which we have sometimes, but we often lose it because of our ego centeredness. And cats, I have a cat and a couple of years ago my wife’s father died and when my mother in law…my wife’s mother came to stay with us…the cat…it was so obvious that she was responding to my mother in law’s grief. She would sit near her. She was comforting her. I think it happens a lot that cats have this, and probably dogs too, of this sense of when people are in need. People need comfort when they are bereaved or depressed. They sense it and offer their comfort.

DONNA: Interesting. Yes. Speaking of bereavement and things of this nature, do you think there is such a thing as the dark night of the soul? Is suffering necessary for the process of awakening?

STEVE: It can be, yeah. I’ve found in my research and in my own experience, too, that when spiritual awakenings happen suddenly and dramatically…it’s often preceded by intense suffering. I’ve done research with a lot of people who were diagnosed with cancer and told that they only had a few months or maybe a year to live. I’ve done research with people that were severely disabled…people who were addicts, who lost everything do to addiction…many people who were bereaved…and it definitely seems that the intense loss and suffering they went through was the trigger of their spiritual awakening. What seems to happen is the normal ego breaks down in the face of so much suffering. Just like a building in an earthquake. It just collapses. But when the normal ego collapses in some people, there seems to be a kind of latent higher self that is waiting to be born…and that new self-arises inside of them and becomes their normal self.

DONNA: Almost like we are supposed to awaken but we live in a state of distraction or darkness or overcome by life’s day to day necessities. And it takes some strong event to shake us out of that. Out of the normal life’s pattern, so to speak.

STEVE: Yeah, exactly, yeah. It’s a bit like on a communal level, you can have a group of people that live in a town…they all live in their different houses and they don’t really interact. Sometime it takes a crisis…if there is a crisis in a community…like, maybe a fire, an earthquake, maybe just a burglary, a spate of burglaries in the town. It brings people together, it shifts the community to a higher level. People begin to interact. They communicate a lot more. They act altruistically towards each other. The whole community somehow deepens and becomes more connected.

DONNA: Yes, yes. I’ll draw on your background in psychology a little bit more on this because I find it so fascinating. This observation that even when people do have an awakening experience or are pursuing an awakened life in formal practice or on their own…it still doesn’t equate with sanity. For example, being in a human body and living a human life is somehow challenging. And I’ve often seen that just because people have a spiritual life or are living a spiritual lifestyle, they still fall prey to life’s challenges. They still suffer from the depression or anxiety that they always did suffer from and it doesn’t just magically disappear the way we would expect. Oh, this person is awakened or this person is a spiritual teacher…everything is perfect for this person…they’ve got it all figured out. But not necessarily.

Continued in Part II…
Source: AWAKEN

Is Experience a Veiling of Our True Nature?

Published on Apr 13, 2018

In this discussion, Rupert elaborates on why it is not possible for an experience to eclipse awareness.

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