Category: Silence


The Search for Silence


Published on Apr 24, 2017

What happens when we make “sitting in silence” a thing. Silence is not just when you are sitting on your cushion in silence. Silence is is always here. Stillness of being is always here


Published on Apr 13, 2017

http://adyashanti.org – Adyashanti explores the immensity of silence that permeates every moment. In the midst of immense noise, by noticing how quietness permeates each and every layer of existence, you can allow yourself to rest in this foundational silence. As you rest, without the energy of grasping or pushing away, you can access a deeper dimension of being. Adyashanti invites you to notice the silence that lives within every moment and experience the totality of each moment.

Video Excerpted From “Purity of Being”(DVD #64):
http://bit.ly/2p5uZfK

Quotes from this Video:

“In the midst of all this noise — whether it was the wind, the rain coming down beating on the roof and the deck outside, or the talk that she was giving — I started to notice that that moment was permeated with this great stillness, this immensity of quiet.”

“When I spontaneously listened to the whole of it, this other intuitive sensory organ opened up and I could hear all of it — the words, the rain, the wind, the silence. Nothing was preferred, nothing was being grasped at, nothing was being pushed away — all of it had equal value.”

“We are conditioned towards what is obvious, glaring, and noisy — whether it’s something on the outside or something on the inside. We’re not so much taught to value things that aren’t noisy — the things that aren’t trying to grab our attention.”

“Silence is the deepest teacher, it’s the deepest teaching — that’s what gives you access to the deeper dimension of being.”

There is a very clear distinction between the awakened state of Presence and the world of the mind. When you are fully present, thoughts stop and your mind is silent. That is the test of Presence. It is the test of silence. You are utterly present with what is here and your mind is silent. It is as if silence is aware of silence. That is it. Not one word or thought arises. You are immersed in the moment of now.

Your mind might come in with observations about your spiritual progress or how awake you are, or how enlightened you are. These are just thoughts arising within the mind and probably generated by the ego. Your ego wants to be enlightened. Just say to your ego, “yes, yes darling you are the most enlightened of them all.” The ego will relax with this light-hearted acknowledgment.

Even if you say to me, “I am enlightened,” I would ask you, “Who is enlightened?” The only possible answer is “I AM,” which will immediately take you beyond the mind. It will take you beyond the world of time. It will take you beyond the concept or idea of enlightenment. It is the “I AM” Presence that is the awakened you. That is it. There is nothing beyond that. But the moment you think about it or the moment you have a view of yourself as being awake or enlightened, you are in the mind again.

No one can truly awaken unless they are clear about this distinction. Otherwise, you will think you are present or enlightened when you are not. Even worse, the ego will think it is present or enlightened. This confusion is an obstacle to your full awakening. It is very difficult to free yourself from an ‘enlightened’ ego.

To be present is your natural state. In fact the only way you can be somewhere other than in the present moment is to think your way out of here. And where will you go? You will take yourself into the past and future world of the mind. All thoughts are of the past or future and that is exactly where they will take you. You will find yourself in a world of illusion and separation.

I am not saying that thoughts should stop or the ego should be eliminated. Just be aware of thoughts as they arise and recognize them for what they are. Your thoughts have nothing to do with the present moment. Even brilliant spiritual thoughts are just thoughts. Even brilliant reflections upon your spiritual progress are just reflections within the mind. Do not allow the ego to fool you. Do not reject your thoughts, but also do not believe in them. Do not follow them. Just acknowledge the thought and gently return to Presence.

Once you relax into silence, you will deepen into Presence. And then of course, all sorts of wonderful things can arise from the silence at the center of your being – bliss, ecstasy, love, compassion, truth and wisdom can arise and flow through you.

If you are fully awake in this moment, all separation dissolves as you open into Oneness. Your sense of yourself as an individual also dissolves as you are immersed into the mystery of this moment.

You do not always have to be at this deep level of Presence. Unless you retire to a cave or an ashram, you will still participate in the world of time and use your mind many times each day. There is nothing wrong with thinking, as long as you are aware of the distinction between the awakened state of Presence and the world of the mind. This will enable you to settle more deeply and more fundamentally into the world of now.

About Leonard: Leonard Jacobson is an awakened spiritual teacher, mystic and author, who is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. For more than 35 years, Leonard has been teaching people how to become fundamentally present and arise in mastery of the mind and ego. Find more of Leonard’s work at Leonard Jacobson.com.
Source: AWAKEN
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When people allow themselves to connect with what their spiritual life is about for them—what their deep questions are, what their deep yearning is—then they have all the vitality they need

Born in 1962 in Cupertino, California—with the given name Stephen Gray—Adyashanti is a well-known spiritual teacher devoted to serving the “awakening of all beings.” Although he often sounds as though he might belong to the Zen or Advaita Vedanta traditions—and, indeed, he practiced Zen for 14 years—Adyashanti attracts students from all backgrounds and says that his teachings are “not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine.” He is the author of The Way of Liberation, Falling into Grace, True Meditation, and The End of Your World.

He recently spoke with S&H from his home in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains.

You’ve spoken openly about having awakening experiences. How would you describe enlightenment?

Enlightenment involves waking up to our true nature. One way you might describe it is that it’s like having a lucid dream, the experience of suddenly becoming aware that you’re dreaming. All of a sudden there’s another dimension of awareness that is conscious of the dream while you’re in it.

When you’re not conscious of the dream, you think that everything that’s going on in the dream is completely real and significant. It can be all-consuming. But as soon as you realize that you’re dreaming, there are two different qualities of consciousness. One is that you’re aware of whatever is happening in the dream. But then there’s another quality of consciousness, which is when your awareness recognizes itself.

Is that moment of recognition typically a big, wild experience?

Enlightenment is usually talked about almost exclusively in those terms. As a teacher, I found that the bigness or wildness of any kind of awakening experience has very little to do with what may be going on with a person five years after the experience. Sometimes massive spiritual openings are transformative. Other times, after a year or two, it’s almost as if nothing ever happened. Both of those different outcomes can be the result of the same fundamental insight.

In that sense, I think enlightenment exists on a sliding scale. How well have you integrated those insights into your life? That process of integration is an endless journey and it doesn’t necessarily happen after big spiritual openings, as people often think it does. We think, I’ll have an awakening experience, and then I’ll just know by some miracle how it all functions. Often, we don’t know how enlightenment functions, at least not in the beginning.

How can we meaningfully integrate the insights that come from big spiritual openings into our daily lives?

It’s difficult because in those moments you realize that you are, essentially, something quite different from what you might have imagined yourself to be before that. I think the way we approach the integration of that insight into our daily lives is often misguided. We might think that the integration is going to mean living in a particular state of experience. But it’s more of a question of how will revelatory moments actually trickle down into the way we move through life? One way this happens is that you can become more aware of when you’re out of alignment, let’s say. You can be in the middle of a conversation and feel very overtly the moment you say a word that’s not completely true. I don’t mean that you’re lying or deceiving, but there’s the feeling that one word wasn’t quite right. You feel it in your body, like somebody just put a little poison in it.

In other words, it’s not so much what we do as it is what we notice. Someone who is really attending to integration will notice, right in the middle of a sentence, where they’ve moved away from saying the truest thing. At that moment, they’ll have the opportunity either to just keep plowing forward or to just stop for a moment.

Let’s take a step back. Before we can integrate spiritual insights into our daily lives, we need to experience the insights. Do you recommend or teach people specific techniques to help them awaken?

Sure, there are all sorts of techniques. The two fundamental ways that I go about all of this are meditation and inquiry. Meditation is just taking the time to be still and quiet. When you’re meditating, you’re noticing that which is always still and always quiet. If you pursue stillness and quiet, it will usually disquiet you. So it’s more effective to simply notice what is always still and quiet.

Inquiry practice is directly engaging with the existential questions of life: Who am I? What is life? What is God? What is death? In other words, I don’t necessarily recommend a formulaic question. I want to know: What’s your question? What’s the question you have that seems so big that you almost don’t even want to engage with it because it seems so big? Those are the existential questions we all have. Inquiry practice is when we engage with those questions.

Let me give you a quick example. If a person starts to explore the question, Who am I? the first thing I often ask them to do is to slow down so they can see what happens when they search for an answer. Generally, what happens is we start to look inside. Consciousness does this little U-turn and it looks for you. Often, if it can get back behind the ideas and the images you carry around with you, which it actually does very quickly—there’s something there that’s noticed in a split second that most people turn away from. They get the answer immediately, but they turn away from it because it’s not what they expected.

When you look inside to find you, you expect to find something or someone. If you don’t find something or someone, you might say, “I don’t know the answer to the question because I looked and I didn’t find what I was looking for.” Okay, maybe not finding the answer is the beginning of the answer. You expected to find something and you didn’t. What if you just stopped with that? “What am I? I don’t know.” Well, what’s that experience like? That might not be the fullness of the answer, but it certainly opened the doorway. It just happens in a split second.

You’ve said that after you had an awakening experience, you were able to abide in it and no longer needed a daily practice. Can you say more about this?

Yeah, I didn’t need to do anything to keep it going. A lot of false conclusions could probably get made out of that statement. It’s not like I never practiced again. I had my first opening at 25—and other openings after that—and it’s not like I just stopped practicing entirely.

But it’s true that after those openings my practice—if we can call it a practice—shifted a lot. All the goal-driven part of the practice just disappeared. Even the ways that I understood meditation underwent a transformation. No longer did I think I needed to be meditating to be in a clear space. I realized that I didn’t need to be doing anything in particular to be in that space. That doesn’t mean I stopped practicing all the time, but that sometimes I was sitting in a traditional form, and sometimes it was just waking up in the morning and coming down and having a cup of tea while sitting on a chair on my porch for an hour.

So, awakening is not like a car that you have to keep maintaining so that it will run. How do you know when you’ve arrived there?

I think what happens is that you stop referencing “there.” Whatever “there” is for you, you realize, that was an idea I baked up. If you open up books or listen to teachings, you’ll see that even spiritual teachers define enlightenment in different ways. Which of those ways is going to be the way you measure yourself by? What convinces you that the yardstick you’re using is more relevant or more true than some other yardstick that someone else may be using?

The best thing I ever did was to start jettisoning my ideas about what enlightenment was and just made it into an open question.

Earlier you referred to meditation as taking time to notice “that which is always still and always quiet.” Can you say anything more about silence?

Silence is the foundational aspect of our nature. As soon as we stop talking or thinking, life always falls into silence. All life exists within the space of silence. In that way, silence is really a profound part of our own being and our own nature. Meditation is one of the most profound spiritual practices because it is literally simply listening to silence.

The silence I’m talking about isn’t the silence that we can manufacture through really strong concentration. There is that kind of silence, which is a contained silence. That’s the silence of a prisoner with their hands shackled and a piece of tape over their mouth. We do that through concentration. There’s a time for that and a space for that. But the silence that I’m talking about is the silence that’s with you all the time. It’s simply a silence we notice. Silence is a part of life. It’s the aspect of your own consciousness that’s totally and absolutely quiet, even if there’s a thought or a feeling. They’ll all rise within the space of silence.

I’ve found that we can always tell what we truly value in life through what we give our time and our attention to. If we give time and attention to silence, whether we’re in meditation or driving down the road, then it will grow. And if we just sit around thinking about that idea for a lot of time, we’ll just have lots of interesting thoughts about silence, which will just contribute to the noise.

What’s the relationship between silence and what you’ve been referring to as our “true nature”?

Silence is an aspect of what we really are. It’s not the whole definition, of course, by any means. But it’s part of our nature. It’s a much better way to define yourself than by your memories and all the ideas you’ve ever had. Sometimes I ask people, What survives your not thinking about it? Just be as quiet as you can and notice silence for five seconds. What survives? All the thoughts, ideas, opinions, judgments, the past, even defining yourself as a man or a woman or a son or a daughter—all that may have a relative reality to it. But you see that it doesn’t exist when you’re just being quiet. How real can it all be?

But whatever you are, you don’t disappear when you’re silent. The world doesn’t disappear when you’re silent. The glass of water doesn’t disappear when I stop thinking it’s a glass of water. The reality of life actually exists whether we’re thinking about it or not. I think it only takes those five seconds to see where most of us are actually living our whole life.

Does noticing silence mean we’re ignoring everything that doesn’t seem to exist when we’re in silence?

The silence I’m talking about is the natural silence of awareness before we go into a dreamy place, before we disconnect. It’s prior to all that movement of mind. One of the things that I often emphasize when teaching is that it has to be a vivid silence. If you feel spaced-out and dreamy internally, it’s like you’re leaning too far back. And if you just lean forward a little bit, it comes back into view.

Everything that you’re saying rings true in a way, but I also have this sense that it’s slipping through my fingers as you speak. Can you say more about how noticing silence can take shape in our real, day-to-day lives?

What’s important is where your attention is. Is your attention on this ceaseless narration or dream my mind is having? When you’re talking to yourself, have you ever asked yourself, Who do I think I’m talking to, anyway? Are there two of you? Is there one who’s talking and one who’s listening?

In the context of your daily life it just means noticing the underlying quietness in which your life happens. And that can happen anytime, anywhere. As I said, you don’t have to be meditating to do it. Meditation sort of helps kick-start it because you’re undistracted. But it’s also just noticing what is already there.

Quietness isn’t the goal, but it can be a step in the right direction. What comes next? I always figure that when I’m teaching, I’m talking to adults. Often in spiritual pursuits, people start to think like children. What do I do? How often do I do it? What should I be asking? My response is, “I don’t know. What do you want? Why are you here? What is this to you?” Don’t act like a child. You can actually be an adult, believe it or not, even with a spiritual teacher.

It sounds like people need to define their own spiritual goals. Couldn’t that process easily be coopted by a person’s selfish tendencies?

What I have found over the years is that when someone really allows themselves to connect with what their spiritual life is about for them—what their deep questions are, what their deep yearning is—then they have all the vitality they need. All of a sudden, the direction of their whole spiritual life starts to become conscious. We don’t get there, though, as long as we’re too stuck in thinking, What’s the prescription? How often should I be meditating? As I often say, “I don’t know. How often do you think you should be meditating?”

Yes, most people are really well served if they spend some time in silence and meditation every day. It’s a great thing. Even if you’re not involved in spiritual pursuits, it’s good for you. But unless you’re connected to the deeper issues—asking, “What is this about for me?”—it’s not going to be meaningful to you. Once you get your question, you have all the vitality that you’ll ever need.

Earlier in this conversation you mentioned enlightenment existing on a sliding scale. How do you know where you are on the scale?

That has to be a living question inside yourself. What is enlightenment at this moment? That takes away all of the measuring yourself against an ideal. There are a lot of ideals in the spiritual world. People will tell you it’s going to look like this or that. I think it’s much healthier if we just admit from the very beginning, “I actually don’t know what it is.”

That way the answer can change, grow, and become something different over time.

It matures as you mature. It’s not just the answer that matures, but the question matures. The question can become more and more simple as the ideas of what we think we’re supposed to be like fall away. This is a process of discovery. You’ve opened the door and it’s raining. What happens, in your experience, when you let go of your opposition to the rain? It’s a question you’re asking rather than a directive to do something.

Sam Mowe is a regular contributor to Spirituality & Health. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Garrison, New York, where he lives and works in a former monastery on the Hudson River.


Published on Mar 12, 2016

Gabor was born in Communist Hungary but escaped after the failed 1956 uprising. Travelled on foot to Italy and then lived in a refugee camp for a time in Italy before reaching Canada. Became a multi-millionaire very quickly but then found he was miserable and depressed when he realised this outer success didn’t bring him any real happiness.

‘I had achieved outer freedom but was far, far away from inner, real freedom.’
The market crashed and he lost almost everything. Lived in a forest for a time, ‘I wanted to say NO to civilisation.’ Moved to Mexico and then started to experience, real, deep, suicidal depression. Moved in with an Indian tribe in Ecuador, ‘it was there I found that I could not just sit and BE like the Indians.’
‘This suicidal depression became my greatest teacher.’

He discovered the secret to finding real freedom was going inside his body, ‘Whenever I was able to do it I became calm and my mind would stop. I spent much time sitting by the water and experimenting with grounding my body to the beach. There were moments when all of a sudden the sound of the waves became different and the mind was so still that there were hardly any remnants of the depression. I would get up and start walking and the sand and the water on my feet felt unlike it had ever felt before. This marked the beginning of the end of depression’

After a time he was able to surrender to his ultimate love – presence – the silence of nothing where the mind takes a back seat and becomes the servant and the original being is once again on the throne….
He now helps people free themselves from thought addiction.


Modern humans have lost touch with their inner ‘true self’. Silence and stillness are a means to recovering happiness and contentment. In the modern world silence has practically ceased to exist.

The human race has stamped its authority over the planet Earth not just by covering its surface with concrete and destroying its plant and animal life, but also by burying the natural sounds of the Earth beneath a cacophony of man-made noise. We live our lives against the background of this cacophony, with the jagged mechanical sounds of urban-industrial society continually assaulting our ears: the roar of trucks, aeroplanes and trains, the clanging and thudding of machinery, the noise of building and renovating, the chatter of radios and TVs in other people’s cars and houses, and pop music blaring from every conceivable place.

But nothing, of course, has done more to obliterate silence than the car. In the modern world it’s very difficult to go anywhere where there’s no possibility of being disturbed by the sound of passing cars, and the only chance that city or town dwellers get to experience something of the quietness which existed everywhere in the pre-car world is sometimes on Sundays, when the mad rushing to and fro of modern life slows down. This quietness seems so foreign now that it seems difficult to believe that a hundred years ago and before it was everywhere all the time. Back then this quietness would even have filled the busiest city centres, which would have probably had a noise level equivalent to that of a modern small village.

There’s also more noise than ever before inside our houses. It’s unusual to go into a house nowadays where there isn’t at least one television set chattering away somewhere, even if the residents aren’t actually watching it, and other forms of home entertainment compete against TV to produce the most noise: radios, CD players, computer and video games etc. In fact the only sound which is largely absent from people’s houses nowadays is the voices of their occupants actually talking to one another.

Living in the midst of all this noise is bound to have a bad effect on us. All man-made noise is fundamentally disturbing. We find the sound of birds singing or of wind rushing through trees pleasing, but mechanical noise always jars and grates. And since we live our lives against a background of mechanical noise it follows that there’s always an undercurrent of agitation inside us, produced by the noise. This noise is certainly one of the reasons why modern life is so stressful as well. In modern life our senses are bombarded with massive amounts of external stimuli. Our fields of vision are always crowded with different (and constantly shifting) things, and our ears are bombarded with a bewildering variety of sounds — all of which clamour for our attention. Our senses have to absorb and process all this material, which takes up a lot of energy, and means that we’re liable to become drained of energy or ‘run down’ easily.

We can get out of this state by removing ourselves from all external stimuli and letting our energy-batteries naturally recharge themselves i.e., by relaxing. But there’s so much external stimuli around in the modern world and people are so unaccustomed to the absence of it that we may never be able relax properly, which could mean living in a permanently ‘run down’ state.

This lack of quietness has also meant is that people are no longer used to silence, and have even, as a result, become afraid of it. Along with inactivity, silence has become something which most people are determined to avoid at all costs, and which, when they are confronted with it, unnerves them. People have become so used to the frantic pace and the ceaseless activity of modern life that they feel uneasy when they’re left at a loose end with nothing to occupy their attention even for a few moments, and they feel equally uneasy when the noise they live their lives against the background of subsides. Why else is it that they need to have their radios and televisions chattering away in the background even when they’re not paying attention to them?

In other words, in the modern world silence has become an enemy. And this is a terrible shame, because in reality silence is one of our greatest friends, and can if it’s allowed to reveal itself to us have a powerfully beneficial effect on us.

Inner Noise

It’s not just the noise outside us which causes us problems, though, but also the noise inside us.

In the same way that the natural quietness and stillness of the world around us is always covered over with man-made noise, the natural quietness of our minds is constantly disturbed by the chattering of our ego-selves. This chattering fills our minds from the moment we wake up in the morning till the moment we go to sleep at night an endless stream of daydreams, memories, deliberations, worries, plans etc. which we have no control over and which even continues (in the form of dreams) when we fall asleep. This ‘inner noise’ has as many bad effects as the mechanical noise outside us. It actually creates problems in our lives, when we mull over tiny inconveniences or uncertainties which seem to become important just because we’re giving so much attention to them, and when we imagine all kinds of possible scenarios about future events instead of just taking them as they come. It means that we don’t live in the present, because we’re always either planning for and anticipating the future or remembering the past, “wandering about in times that do not belong to us and never thinking of the one that does” as Blaise Pascal wrote. And this constant inner chattering also means that we can never give our full attention to our surroundings and to the activities of our lives. Our attention is always partly taken up by the thoughts in our minds, so that wherever we are and whatever we’re doing we’re never completely there.

It’s probably possible to say that there’s also more of this ‘inner noise’ inside human beings than there’s ever been before. The hectic pace and the constant activity of our lives, the massive amount of external stimuli we’re bombarded with, and the barrage of information which the mass media sends our way, have made our minds more restless and active. We’ve got to juggle dozens of different problems and concerns in our minds just to get by from day to day, and every new thing we see or every new piece of information which is sent our way is potentially the beginning of a whole new train of thought to occupy our minds.

The True Self

Ultimately, the most serious consequence of both this inner chattering and the noise and activity of the modern world is that they separate us from our true selves.

Our ‘true self’ might be called the ground, or the essence, of our beings. It’s the pure consciousness inside us, the consciousness-in-itself which remains when we’re not actually conscious of anything. It’s what remains when our the activity of our senses and the activity of our minds cease. The sense-impressions we absorb from the world and the thoughts which run through our minds are like the images on a cinema screen, but our ‘true self’ is the cinema screen itself, which is still there even when there aren’t any images being projected on to it.

Experiencing this ‘consciousness-in-itself’ can have a massively therapeutic effect. It brings a sense of being firmly rooted in ourselves, of being truly who we are. We also have a sense of being truly where we are, realising that before we were only half-present, and everything we see around us seems intensely real and alive, as if our perceptions have become much more acute. But above all, we experience a profound sense of inner peace and natural happiness. As the Hindu and Buddhist traditions have always held, the nature of consciousness-in-itself (which means the consciousness inside us and the consciousness which pervades the whole universe) is bliss. Getting into contact with the pure consciousness inside us enables us, therefore, to experience this bliss. Indeed, it could be said that it’s only when we do this that we can experience true happiness. Usually what we think of as happiness is hedonistic or ego-based that is, based around pressing instinctive ‘pleasure buttons’ or around receiving attention and praise from others and increasing our self-esteem. But the kind of deep and rich happiness we experience when we’re in touch with the ground or essence of our beings is a natural, spiritual happiness, which doesn’t depend on anything external, and doesn’t vanish as soon as the thing which produced it is taken away. It’s a happiness which comes from experiencing the divine inside us and also the divine inside everything else, since the pure consciousness inside us is the same pure consciousness inside everything else, and the pure consciousness of the universe itself.

Making Contact with the True Self

Whether we’re in touch with this ‘true self’ or not depends on how much external stimuli our senses are taking in from the world around us, and on how much activity there is going on in our minds.

If there is a lot of noise, movement and activity taking place around us then we can’t help but give our attention to it; and in the same way, when there is a lot of ‘inner noise’ taking place we have to give our attention to that too. And when our attention is completely absorbed in this way either by external stimuli on their own, such as when we watch TV; by ‘inner noise’ on its own, such as when we daydream; or by both of them at the same time it’s impossible for us to be in contact with our ‘true self’ to any degree, in the same way that it’s impossible to see a cinema screen in itself when it’s full of dancing images. Being in contact with our ‘true self’ is a state of attentionless-ness, when our minds are completely empty.

What we have to do if we want to get into contact with this part of ourselves is, therefore, to withdraw our attention from these things. And this is, of course, what we do when we meditate: first of all, we remove ourselves from external stimuli, by sitting in a quiet room and closing our eyes. And then there’s only ‘inner noise’ standing between us and consciousness-in-itself, which we try to quieten by concentrating on a mantra or on our breathing. If we manage to stop the inner noise (and therefore stop our attention being absorbed in it) pure consciousness immerses us and we become our true selves.

And this brings us back to the most serious problem caused by the massive amount of external stimuli (including noise) which our senses are bombarded with in the modern world, and by the intensified ‘inner noise’ which modern life generates. It’s not just a question of completely closing yourself off to external stimuli and shutting down ‘inner noise’, so that you can experience a state of total immersion in pure consciousness. It’s possible to have a foot in both camps, so to speak; to live a normal life in the world, being exposed to external stimuli and experiencing inner noise, and at the same time still be rooted in your real self. That is, it’s possible to be partially immersed in consciousness-in-itself, and for your attention to be partially absorbed by external stimuli and inner talk. But this can only happen when there is just a moderate degree of both of the latter.

It would probably have been quite easy for our ancestors to live in this way, because they weren’t exposed to a great deal of external stimuli and because their lives were relatively slow-paced and stress-free, which would have meant that their attention needn’t have been completely absorbed by external stimuli and inner talk. Perhaps this even partly explains why native peoples seem to possess a natural contentment which modern city dwellers have lost because their more sedate lives mean that they’re able to be in touch with the ground of their being as they go about their lives, and that they can therefore continually experience something of the bliss of which is the nature of consciousness-in-itself.

For us, however, this has become very difficult. There’s always so much noise and activity both inside and outside us that our attention is always completely absorbed, so that we can’t be in contact with our real selves. We spend all our time living outside ourselves, lost in the external world of activity and stimuli or in the inner world of our own thoughts. We’re like a person who plans to go away for a few days but finds so much to occupy them in the place they go to that they never go home again, and never again experience the peace and contentment which lie there. This is certainly one of the reasons why so many people nowadays seem to live in a state of dissatisfaction — because they’ve lost touch with the natural happiness inside them. That natural happiness has been buried underneath a storm of external stimuli and what Meister Eckhart called ‘the storm of inward thought’.

As a result of this it’s essential for us, in the modern world, to go out of our way to cultivate silence ourselves. Circumstances may oblige us to live in cities, and our jobs may be stressful and demanding, but we’re still free to remove ourselves from external stimuli and to try to quieten our minds by meditating, going out into the countryside, or just by sitting quietly in our rooms. We don’t have to fill our free time with attention-absorbing distractions like TV and computer games, which take us even further away from ourselves. We should do the opposite: stop our attention being absorbed like this so that we can find ourselves again.

We need silence and stillness to become our true selves and to be truly happy. ‘Be still,’ said Jesus, ‘and know that I am God.’ But he might have added, ‘and know that you are God.’

Steve Taylor holds a Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology and is a senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. For the last three years Steve has been included in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the ‘100 most spiritually influential living people’ (coming in at #31 in 2014).

Steve is also the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds and The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era. His books have been published in 16 languages and his research has appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Transpersonal Psychology Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, as well as the popular media in the UK, including on BBC World TV, The Guardian, and The Independent.


Published on Feb 6, 2017

An excerpt from an Open Circle Meeting in San Rafael, California, November 2016.

Published on Nov 10, 2016

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The mind can’t be present it doesn’t know how, the mind can talk about being present… in absolute presence, there is no time… not time for the mind to know anything…

Unmani invites you to answer your deepest calling to wake up to your true self. For the past 12 years, Unmani has been working with all kinds of people, who have been deeply touched by her work. She meets each person exactly where they are at, and in whatever they need at the time, while at the same time holding them in the truth of who they really are beyond it all. This combination, and paradox, of the personal and impersonal, brings so much depth, openness and healing to people’s lives. They wake up to who they really are, and discover how this is lived and integrated into their daily lives.

Unmani Liza Hyde is the author ‘I am Life itself’ and ‘Die to Love’ and is now writing a third book.


Published on Oct 19, 2016

Advaita Vedanta Master Mooji explains how all experiences are just passing by and we as the witness remain untouched by all experiences.


Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the world’s leading experts on Islamic science and spirituality, and Swami Atmarupananda, renowned teacher of Hinduism, will talk about Compassion as being intrinsic to who we really are — the true Self, the “image of God” which is free of all alienation. And that is wisdom itself, love itself, discovered in inner silence — the still point that unites us to both God and the universe.

http://www.festivaloffaiths.org


Published on Jan 8, 2016

“The mind can become silent only through its allegiance to the source, to the true presence.”


This powerful book reveals the basic tenets of Leonard Jacobson’s approach to spiritual awakening and enlightenment. Each page is a lyrically beautiful expression of an essential truth. Zen-like in its simplicity, it communicates directly with the heart and soul of the reader, gently inviting a response from the deepest levels of Being. This book is best read cover to cover, and then picked up again from time to time, choosing passages at random. The words in this book are powerful. They can inspire you towards your own awakening or they can act as a guide for those already on the path. Some of the words need to be meditated upon. They are like Koans. The meaning is not always obvious. Each reading will elicit different responses from the reader, sometimes challenging, sometimes provocative, sometimes deeply reassuring and affirming. This book is suitable for newcomers as well as experienced seekers on the spiritual path.

Author’s note:

It has been twenty-five years since Words from Silence was first published and at least 30 years since I wrote it. My teaching has evolved over the years and I felt that it would be appropriate to update the book. This revised edition contains most of the content from the first edition, but I have added some additional passages to enhance the flow of the book.

My words are not directed towards your mind or that part of you that understands. The truth is beyond understanding, and it arises from the silence at the center of your Being. It is equally available to each one of us as we become present. This book is intended to encourage, support and inspire you to become more present, and then you will know from your own experience what I am writing about.

The world is at a crucial stage. The opportunity exists now for man and woman to evolve in consciousness. It is as if God has extended to each of us an invitation to participate in a great awakening. This book is a part of that invitation.

Leonard Jacobson ♥ Awakening to Presence

GATES OF POWER: Actualize Your True Self is an inspirational, informative, and practical guide for all who are passionate about living up to their potential and maximizing their life. The book is based on the Gates of Power® Method created by Nomi Bachar. In the book, Nomi offers wisdom gathered through her own spiritual and emotional journey, her life-long study of different spiritual traditions and her experience as a counselor and coach for the last 26 years.

The Gates of Power® Method is a path for self-healing and self-actualization. The path is practical, creative, and deeply spiritual. The method empowers and energizes all seven facets of our being: Body, Emotions, Dialogue, Creative Expression, Life Path, Silence, and Knowledge. At the same time it unifies the three aspects of the self (Emotional Self, Defensive Self, Expanded Self) creating inner strength. Gates of Power® Method is the ultimate guide for creating a vibrant, powerful and whole Self. The method is practiced through a comprehensive curriculum that includes seven levels of training.

Nomi Bachar, a holistic spiritual counselor is a self-healing, self-actualization expert and coach. She is the director of White Cedar Institute for Expanded Living LLC and the creator of Gates of Power® Method. The Method is experiential, creative and spiritual, it assists participants in reaching holistic integration, empowerment and fulfillment. Ms. Bachar has been working with individuals, couples and groups for the last 26 years, as well as lecturing and facilitating workshops.

Alongside her counseling and training, Ms. Bachar has an extensive background as a multidisciplinary performing artist. Her artistic background includes acting, dance, choreography, producing and writing. In the last few years she has dedicated herself to empowering people through the Gates of Power® Method. Her mission and passion is the exploration and expansion of human potential and the ways it can be achieved through transformation, creativity and leading a life of contribution.

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Gates of Power: Actualize Your True Self

For Beyond 50’s “Personal Growth” talks, listen to an interview with Nomi Bachar. She is a self-actualization expert, coach and former psychotherapist. Find out about her revolutionary method for opening ourselves up to inner power and the feeling “full aliveness.” Bachar will outline the Seven Gates of Power: the gate of the body, of emotion, dialogue, creative expression, life path, silence and finally the Gate of Knowledge. You’ll also learn the guiding principles for achieving an accelerated self-actualization through what she calls “The Four Commitments.” Tune in to Beyond 50: America’s Variety Talk Radio Show on the natural, holistic, green and sustainable lifestyle. Visit http://www.Beyond50Radio.com and sign up for our Exclusive Updates.

*Produced and syndicated by Joy and Daniel Davis of Beyond 50 Productions.

“All it takes is one small taste of Silence, and if asked, you would gladly SHOUT “YES” to this journey a hundred times over.” ~Gregory

Songs of Silence
Words and books have always been bound to particular times in history and fade in importance as society collectively evolves and changes. The great spiritual treasures of our time have first been recorded in metric texts and hymns – The Vedas, The Tao. Poems have a way of transcending time and space. They are in some ways eternal in and of themselves, Sat-Songs, and in so being, have the greatest potential to express That which is eternal and everlasting.

Songs of Silence
is a collection of teachings in verse. These poems are meant to serve as road signs pointing to the deepest Truth, a companion to you on the journey home. Follow them and return to your-SELF over and over again.

Gregory is a spiritual teacher and author. His teachings have been inspired by a profound love for mysticism that developed in a very early age and led him deep into Western Mystery Traditions, Native South American Shamanism, and much later, Vajrayana Buddhism. Influenced by the Advaita Vedanta lineage of Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj and Nisargadatta Maharaj, Gregory shares a strong affinity for clear and direct nondual teachings, seeing them as invaluable pointers to Truth and to the recognition of the freedom that can come from an absolute ‘knowing’ of Self.

Based in California, Gregory offers nondual teachings through books and online courses, mentoring, clarity consulting, and sacred poetry on Self-knowledge and Self-realization. For more information, please visit http://www.fireandemptiness.com.

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Songs of Silence Full-Length Book Trailer

Words and books have always been bound to particular times in history and fade in importance as society collectively evolves and changes. The great spiritual treasures of our time have first been recorded in metric texts and hymns – The Vedas, The Tao. Poems have a way of transcending time and space. They are in some ways eternal in and of themselves, Sat-Songs, and in so being, have the greatest potential to express That which is eternal and everlasting.

Songs of Silence is a collection of teachings in verse. These poems are meant to serve as road signs pointing to the deepest Truth, a companion to you on the journey home. Follow them and return to your-SELF over and over again.

By: Sam Mowe

Over the last 40 years, Jack Kornfield has been a significant force in bringing Buddhist practices to the United States. In 1967, he graduated from Dartmouth College, joined the Peace Corps, and was assigned to service in Thailand. Kornfield then trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India, and Burma, studying under many influential teachers. After returning to the United States, Kornfield earned a PhD in clinical psychology and, in 1975, cofounded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. In 1987, he became a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, where he currently lives. He is the best-selling author of many books, including The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path.

Over the years you’ve written a lot about bringing spiritual work together with psychological work. What is the relationship between spiritual practice and emotional development?

What’s most simple to say is that, for our hearts to be wise and free, we have to attend to the mandala of our being—which includes body, emotions, mental states, and thought structure—and their relations with one another.

Certain meditation can bring tremendous benefits to us. But it’s also possible to use meditation as a spiritual bypass, so that we can escape our difficulties by finding some peace and calm. But later on—at work, with family, or in relationships—old patterns and ways that we get caught up in begin to show themselves.

I’m an “all of the above” kind of person. I have used meditative practices, psychotherapy, sacred medicine, and the arts, all as dimensions of being more fully alive and being freer in body, heart, and mind.

Part of the reason I’m asking this is to better understand the meaning of “spiritual work,” because it’s interesting that it’s possible for people to be spiritually brilliant and yet lacking in their emotional maturity.

Human development is a mandala, and so we can develop certain aspects, and others don’t come along; thus, you have Olympic-level athletes who are brilliant in awareness of their body, but might be emotional idiots. Or you have Nobel-prize-winning physics professors who can’t find their shoes or their body. So it turns out that to live a fully realized life—or a life of wisdom and compassion—those qualities need to be directed to each of the major dimensions of our humanity—our body, our feelings, our mental states, our relationships and history, and our connection with the world around us. Spiritual teachers can be one-sided just the way an athlete or a physics professor can.

Fortunately, what we’ve learned in the West over many decades now is that it’s possible for us to heal deeply traumas of the past. It’s possible for us to embody and bring into our relationships and our actions the same beautiful spirit that we might find in a deep, silent meditation, that those become integrated.

But let me go to a related topic. We can look at the current global situation and see that no amount of science and technology is going to save us. No amount of computers and worldwide Internet and nanotechnology and biotechnology, and all these amazingly great, new capacities is going to stop continuing warfare, racism, tribalism, environmental destruction. Those spring from the human heart. And the outer technologies now have to be married to inner development that is both a development of mind and a development of heart and a development of the connection of our body to the body of the earth. We need to have a transformation of human consciousness, inwardly, that’s the balance to or the support for the amazing outer transformations.

You’ve been teaching meditation since the mid-1970s. What has changed in the last 40 years?

Thirty or 40 years ago, there was a great resistance to using the tools of Western psychotherapy and Western psychology. People at various ashrams or Zen centers or Buddhist centers and so forth would say, “All you need to do is chant, or do the mantra, or sit in Zen meditation, and it will take care of everything.” And other tools were considered to be unnecessary or even kind of lower-level practices.

Now, I could tell you the names of the therapists of half of the main Zen teachers and lamas around the country, because they realized that in our modern, Western time, we need all the help we can get. We need to marry these powerful spiritual disciplines with the wisdom and the understanding of this particular culture. That wisdom and understanding includes tools for healing, tools for trauma work, tools for emotional intelligence. And in the last 40 years, these have become integrated much more actively across the spiritual teachings.

In addition, we found that in Western culture there’s a common experience of self-judgment and self-hatred that will arise for people when they’re doing spiritual practice—an unworthiness that will arise. Often, a spiritual practice can be turned against ourselves, and we use it to judge ourselves further or feel inadequate or not good enough. “I’m not doing it right. I’m not enlightened enough.” When we asked the Dalai Lama about this in the 1980s, he was shocked. He’d never heard the word self-hatred. That word doesn’t exist in the Tibetan language. And after some pondering, he said, “This is a mistake.”

What we have done is to incorporate a tremendous amount of compassion and loving-kindness as the basis for the other dimensions of spiritual discipline. Training in mindfulness and concentration have to be married to compassion and loving-kindness. And with that field of love, which it turns out is a form of mindfulness or awakening, people begin to discover that they are loving-awareness itself, and that spiritual practice isn’t to change or perfect oneself. Spiritual practice is about perfecting their love.

Otherwise, spiritual practice can become just another grim duty that you have to perform. You go on a diet and you go to the gym and you go to therapy, and you do all these kinds of self-help trainings, trying to make yourself a better person. But in the deepest way, spiritual practice is more mysterious. It opens us up to the mystery of human incarnation and to our fundamental dignity and goodness and capacity for freedom and love that’s born in every human being. It touches that. It rests on that realization. And this is a very different vision of spiritual practice than one that is focused on some great future attainment of enlightenment in some more idealistic way.

What do you think about self-improvement as an idea? Doesn’t it get in the way of accepting ourselves just as we are?

There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement. Kids want to learn how to read. Adults want to learn how to speak another language or keep their body in shape or develop their capacities to listen and connect more deeply. All of those are beautiful. They can be done in a positive and loving way, to enhance the life that we have, to enhance our human incarnation. Or they can be done in a striving way, with judgment and self-criticism, thinking, I’m not good enough, and I have to make myself better and more enlightened and more spiritual and more—whatever it is. And that undermines the very essence of them.

We’re always growing as an organism, and it’s a beautiful thing. We can grow out of love. We can grow out of care. We can grow out of wanting to flower. And then the self-improvement becomes really an expression of our fundamental dignity and goodness, not trying to become something that we’re not, but to express our beauty and our courage in this very life.

So it has more to do with the spirit that you have while engaging with activities in your life, rather than what the activities are themselves.

Yes. That’s critical.

Mindfulness is having a moment these days. Part of the reason for this is that it’s promising to make people more productive and happy as individuals. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with enlightenment or ethics. Can you comment on that?

I celebrate the spreading of mindfulness, just as I celebrate the spreading of yoga or the spreading of all kinds of very good spiritual tools and disciplines. When I was a boy in the 1950s, if you mentioned yoga, the only images were of Indian fakirs with a loincloth on and their legs wrapped around their neck. Culturally, it was very strange. Now there’s a yoga studio next to a Starbucks on every block.

Sometimes it’s just done to have a beautiful body or to meet an attractive partner. But it still helps. It still begins to give people tools of attention and care for their bodies and brings a spiritual dimension into their lives. This is also true for mindfulness. Mindfulness is being taught in law schools, and I know a judge who’s using it as part of the instructions to the jury so that they listen in a respectful and mindful way to all of the evidence before making their decisions. It’s also being used successfully in thousands of school systems for social and emotional learning.

Out of this broad understanding of the value of attention to one’s inner states starts to grow a more humane approach to medicine and a more humane approach to law. Or there starts to grow in an individual an understanding that the mind and the heart can be awakened and developed. And then certain people will take it much further.

But what if mindfulness is used to do the sort of bypassing that you were talking about earlier, by allowing us to focus on our inner selves rather than on underlying, systemic issues?

Another way to ask this question is: Can you focus on personal development in a way that ignores the need for justice and well-being of human beings? Anybody who is wise recognizes that they go hand in hand. I’ve trained large numbers of activists, many of whom have been burned out because they’ve been so angry, fighting, bitter, and frightened that they haven’t been able to actually engage over the long term, because they let the troubles and the suffering outside come into their own body and heart.

In fact, when you learn how to regulate yourself and develop a deep compassion for yourself and for the world, you realize that they can’t be separated; they’re really the same thing—then it becomes possible, and even necessary, to engage in the world because you’re a part of it, and you feel that. But you engage in a different way. It gives you the power to sustain that love and that work for the benefit of all beings.

Understanding the relationship between contemplation and social action is central to the work that we do at the Garrison Institute. Can you say more about how looking inside leads to social action out in the world?

In Zen, they say there are only two things: you sit and you sweep the garden. And it doesn’t matter how big the garden is. That is, you learn to quiet the mind and open the heart and to remember in that stillness what really matters. Those are the values of the heart and who you are. You discover that who you are is loving-awareness itself, incarnated into this mystery. And as you do, the sense of connection to life shows itself. You don’t even have to cultivate it. As you get quiet, you feel it and you know it. And then you get up from your cushion and you sweep the garden. If people are hungry, you feed them. If people are sick and you have medicine, you offer it, because they’re part of you.

When you hurt your hand, if you’re slicing tomatoes in the kitchen and you accidentally cut yourself, you don’t go, “Oh, that poor hand. I wonder if I should help it. Should I do something about it?” It’s you. It’s part of you. It’s so deeply obvious that you wash it and you put a Band-Aid on it or whatever. And as you quiet the mind and open the heart, you begin to realize that the world is yours, that you are the world. And so it becomes a spontaneous and beautiful expression of your fundamental Buddha-nature, your fundamental goodness, that you tend the world.

Without mindfulness or compassion training, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think, Well, all the problems of the world are too great, and I just have to get through the day and try as best I can. Mindfulness makes it easier to step out of the sense of being overwhelmed. You see with clarity. And you realize, I can respond in a wise way. I have some agency and capacity. And I can add my piece. And by adding your drop into the river—the river of justice or the river of mutual care or the river of caring for the environment—it nurtures you, and it nurtures the world.

You’ve mentioned “the mystery” a couple of times during this conversation. What do you mean?

One of the great gifts of a contemplative moment or practice is that as we quiet the mind and soften the heart and look around, we see the mystery all around us, whether it’s of trees or rainfall or the forms of the earth or our own human body. How did we get in here, this strange, bipedal form with a hole at one end, into which we regularly stuff dead plants and animals and grind them up with bones that hang down, and glug them down through the tube for energy, and poop them out the other end? We ambulate by falling in one direction and catching ourselves, and falling in the other direction and catching ourselves. Where we have the capacity to make sounds by pushing air by our vocal cords and shaping our mouths, and I can say “Golden Gate Bridge,” and you can picture that. No one really knows exactly how that happens. They know how the sodium-potassium balance changes in the auditory nerve and goes to the auditory centers of the brain. But beyond that, that interdependence, the web in which we live is so mysterious. And it’s the same web that spins the galaxies and turns our seasons.

So, to meditate, in some way, is to be able to stop and listen to the dance or the music of life with a sense of reverence and connectedness and awe. And from that, then tend your life and tend this world beautifully.

And yet, some not-so-positive stuff also comes up when we meditate, such as grief and despair. Is it important to focus on the positive stuff on a spiritual journey?

No. A spiritual path opens you to the 10,000 joys and to the 10,000 sorrows. It cracks the heart open to weep at the loss of species. It allows you to honorably feel the tears that you carry from your own personal trauma or from the death and loss or tragedy around you personally and more broadly. But we can also become loyal to our suffering. And suffering, while it’s vast and can be tended with great compassion, is not the end of the story. The end of the story is love and freedom. And this is possible for you. We don’t do it by ignoring the suffering around us, but by knowing that who we are and what this life is, is greater than that.

Sam Mowe is the Communications Manager at the Garrison Institute in New York, a nonprofit dedicated to exploring the intersection of contemplation and social action. Jack Kornfield will be leading a retreat at the Garrison Institute on July 31–August 2.

Source: Health & Spirituality

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