Thursday, October 27, 2005

How self-esteem relates to spirituality; the nature of transcendence.

The last few days I have been reflecting on a number of things.

1. The locus of control is also the site of self-esteem and discipline, but the CONTEXT in which this locus within the Self exists is spiritual. Control comes from humility, acceptance and surrender. Self-esteem arises from devotion and discipline from dedication to a worthy goal. So the center of the self is divinity, which in turn inspires the good qualities of a strong ego. These good qualities, then, like a scaffold on a tomato plant, support growth in consciousness throughout.

2. The nature of transcendence:

The personality has active and passive aspects, which are recognised by traditional systems of thought under a variety of names:

Passive - Active
Tamas - Rajas
Yin - Yang
Restraining Forces - Encouraging Forces
Negative - Positive
Inert - Active
Unaligned - Aligning
Childish dependence - Adult Independence

And many more. The transcendent aspect comes from accepting BOTH with loving awareness and surrender.

In my own experience I have had two distinct kinds of phases, which I call the "Recluse" and the "Warrior". During the warrior phase I am out in the world achieving things. During the recluse phase the locus of activity is largely subliminal and requires specific subjective conditions and relatively uninterrupted time and space to unfold in. In the Warrior phase I engage self-help teachings to support me in achieving more and better. In the Recluse phase I align with spiritual (and in the past, astral and occult) teachings in an effort to support the inner process.

The sense of oscillating from one extreme to the other has been strong in this life. There have been attempts to integrate the two aspects. Now I am contemplating how I might simply accept and not attach to either view. New options are unfolding of their own accord now. And that is the nature of transcendence, it seems. One simply becomes the witness of the self, rather than engaged with the dramas of various aspects of it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Australian Bible, Psalm 23

God's my drover; I need do nothing!
He lets me lie down in the cool deep grass.
He shows me the edge of clear creeks.

He gives my life meaning!
He herds me straight towards home with a gentle hand.

For instance, even I walk through deadly deserts,
I wouldn't fear mishap; for you God are with me;
Your walking stick points the way straight home!

You cook me the best foods even during the worst events!
You bless me with your bearhugs! You overflow my cup of joy!

Truth is, your love and peace will guard and guide me
like sheep dogs through all the days of my life.
And lead me with God's unconditional love
the presence of which I am at home forever.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Level Ten of Self Esteem.

What thought expresses perfectly the possibility of permanently existing at a level ten of self esteem?

"God-given unconditional celebration of self is always present in my awareness."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What is recreation?

I've been contemplating recreation lately, and it seems to me to be several things at once.

At it's essence recreation is:

"any act which creates a sense of refreshment of self".

So work may be recreation of a special kind, because it can involve pushing through resistance to get to joy on the other side, but only if it is accompanied with rest afterwards!

And play may be recreate as well, but only if it involves some kind of challenge which brings out good qualities in yourself - such as tennis, wrestling, chess, or just running with a mate.

Essentially it boils down to living with the questions:

"What would best create a sense of self-refreshment for me right now?"

And more significantly:

"How do I order my life so that I create a freshness of self in every moment, just naturally as part of who I am?"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Richard Rose's Maximum Reversal Technique

"The natural direction of life's energy and purpose is reversed away from the material and mundane pursuits of ordinary life and turned in upon itself to retraverse the projected ray of life back to the Source.

"A useful analogy is that of someone in a movie theater who finally thinks to turn around and look back through the lens of the movie projector rather than be totally identified with the colored shadows on the screen. In this way, one can discover the source of the projections and also the true nature of the viewer of the picture show.

"...It is a mental technique for realizing the existence of your Essence and a method for redeploying your energy so as to achieve a direct experience of that Essence.

"Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going when I die? ...Gain a direct experience of the answer to these questions for yourself."

Strategies, by Bart Marshall

This wonderfully wise article comes from the TAT forum:

Strategies, by Bart Marshall

As I turned over all those rocks on my spiritual search, I was always trying out recommendations about what I could do to hurry this process along-what I could do, what I could be, to speed things up. Even if the teaching was that there is nothing to be done, I'd want to know what the technique was for not-doing. Always thinking it was up to me whether or not this was going to happen.

But is it up to me? Can this shift in perception, be brought about by the efforts of an illusory individual? Some teachers say there is absolutely nothing a person can do to bring about this experience, so don't bother. Even teachers like Rose who recommend extreme effort on the spiritual path say that those efforts are not what bring about the experience, if indeed one happens. As Rose says, "There's no recipe for a lightning bolt."

Statistically, though, people who report having a conclusive spiritual experience are usually those who've spent considerable time pursuing spiritual activities. So of course, like everything else on the "path," it's a paradox.

The spiritual path, if we are going to call it that, seems to be a process of maneuvering the mind onto shaky ground, into a state of uncertainty that makes it vulnerable to intervention by an "outside" force. A very delicate contortion. The question is not really "How can I bring about a spiritual experience?" but "How can I become susceptible to Grace? How can I become accident prone?"

From that angle, it seems these general practices are the kind of things that might help maneuver the mind into a vulnerable state. Nothing new here. These ideas are scattered all throughout the teachings and literature. And of course some are in apparent contradiction with each other. In no particular order:

Absorb Teachings
Do the research. Study what's been said and done before. Turn over every rock, as Rose said, but doubt everything. Let it soak in but don't believe a word of it. Neither believe nor disbelieve. Neither accept nor reject. Just let it all rattle around in there.

Assume Authority
Work out your own salvation. Take responsibility. Be your own disciple. Trust your innermost experience. People give over responsibility for their health to doctors, and for their salvation to priests and gurus. It makes no sense. Harding: "You are the sole and final authority on what it's like being you. On what is happening right where you are." Buddha: "Be a lamp unto yourself. Be a refuge to yourself. Look not for refuge in anyone beside yourself."

Focus Intent
Purify, focus and refine intent. Is Truth what you really want? For most so-called seekers, self-realization is not really their greatest desire -- it is a means to an end. We want to be self-realized because we think it will improve our lives in some way -- bring peace of mind, power, approbation. Also, we're too scattered, full of conflicting desires. Beware of conscious and sub-conscious desires sabotaging spiritual aspirations.

Cease Knowing
Possibly the single biggest obstacle to realization is thinking you already know what's going on. Stop thinking you know anything. Return to the child-like state of wonder, unknowing, mystery. Have only questions, never answers. If an answer comes, question it. Return to unknowing. Only an empty cup can be filled. Become a vacuum of unknowing and God will rush in.

We think we already know 95% of the truth ("I'm a substantive being with my own consciousness in an infinitely vast, infinitely old universe of separate, real objects...") and just need answers about that last 5%. We don't want to entertain the idea that the 95% we're standing on is 100% wrong.

Rose was always asking people, "What do you know for sure?" Always trying to prod them into questioning their beliefs. Knowing is Original Sin -- in the sense of the true meaning of the word sin, which is "to err, to miss the mark." Christianity implies it's knowledge of sex that kicks mankind out of paradise. No. It's any and all knowledge. If any knowing whatsoever is present, you are on the wrong side of the gates. You have drifted into illusion. Knowledge is ignorance. God is unknowing.

Investigate Personhood (What am I?)
This is the classic path of self-inquiry. Who am I? What am I? Not an analysis of personality traits, but real inquiry into the true nature of self. Is there a self? Is there a person named "I"? Nisargadatta: "You think you are a person who was born, has parents and memories, and will someday die. You are not." When I first read that I got chills. I was never again safe from that thought. The only way out was through it.

What is the mechanism of memory? We rely heavily on memory for our sense of self, for our personhood. But what is memory? In Blade Runner, the replicant babe Harrison Ford falls for argues that she is real because she has memories. She tells about seeing a spider when she was 4-years old or something. But her memories are just implants, part of her programming. She's a robot, fresh off the assembly line, programmed with a lifetime of memories. How is that different from your experience of memory?

Practice Inlooking (Where am I?)
Look directly at the source of looking. Where is the receiver, the processor of the experience now on display? Ask without answering. Ask without knowing or "almost" knowing. Ask without holding onto a base paradigm into which revelation must fit. When you look without knowing, what do you find at ground zero? Where exactly is ground zero? At the exact GPS coordinates of the most intimate pinpoint of your awareness, is anyone home?

Harding experiments like the one we did earlier* are a prime example of this kind of inquiry. There are many other techniques for this and you can make up your own. This type of self-inquiry seeks to answer the question "Where am I?" and uses vision and attention more than thought. The basic idea is to relocate your attention from external objects to the source of looking-to look at the looker.

I used to do this by trying to turn my physical vision around 180 degrees -- to stand in front of myself and look back through my own "face." I just couldn't make it work using that image. Too many mental contortions.

For me what works better is to keep the same visual position -- looking out -- but simply reel attention back in until it rests at ground zero of my experience, at the exact GPS coordinates of the source of my view. Attention is not the same as vision, though they are closely aligned when the eyes are open. Separate them. Bring attention back towards you like a target at a pistol range until it comes to rest at the source of looking.

You can do this anytime, anywhere. Look out as usual. I see people, walls, books. My attention is naturally and habitually drawn to objects "out there." Now let attention come towards you until it rests in the middle distance-in the empty space between the source of looking and the nearest object in front of it. Now let attention rest in as close as it gets-ground zero, zero inches -- at the source of all that is arrayed before you. What do you find there?

Apprehend Time (When am I?)
Investigate time in the same way you investigate personhood. Chip away at the concept of time like you chip away at the sense of identity. Step out of the apparent flow of time and take a look at it. Can you catch time in the act? Can you experience duration? Is a skeleton or photograph in the present proof of a past? Where is past and future? Where is now? Where is the exact point that future becomes present and present becomes past? What does that pinpoint of presence feel like? Can you feel past and future?

Abandon Hope
The opening line of a sutra by the third Zen Patriarch of China reads: "The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences." Rose called this "betweenness." It's a way of holding your head as you go about the business of life. Do, but don't care. Do without expecting results. It is a kind of surrender. Do whatever you do without expecting good things to come of it.

Favor Simplicity
Mental and physical circumstances have an effect on the amount of time and energy available for the search, so it's an advantage to maintain a clean, well-ordered life. As Rose used to say, get your house in order. Limit complexities. Tie up loose ends. Arrange your life for clear thinking.

Also, favor intellectual simplicity. Occam's Razor: the simplest answer is usually correct. Watch how your mind loves complexity. Complexity is in the opposite direction of Truth.

Choose Silence
Silence is the medium of transmission. Silence inside and out. You can't hear if you're not listening. When silence is an option, choose it. Turn off the car stereo. Turn off TV. Stare into space with no agenda. Listen. Cultivate no-thought.

Befriend Death
Zen is sometimes described as "learning how to die." People reporting a spiritual realization agree that the person they thought they were was not present for the experience. For myself, I can say there was no trace of Bart whatsoever, not a shred, not a thought -- so gone he never was, and no one to care to look for him. The mind has no way of labeling this except to say "death."

Befriend death. An unprepared and overly-fearful mind may fight realization because it seems like death, so it's often recommended we come to grips with our own physical death as part of our spiritual preparation. Get comfortable with the messy ways bodies die. Meditate on your own death. Read How We Die. Volunteer with Hospice. Anything that might help dilute the fear of death.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Riddle of Consciousness


"Summary of the Essential Principles of the Science of Consciousness.

1. Consciousness is the formless, invisible, field of energy of infinite dimension and potentiality, the substrate of all existence, independent of time, space or location, of which it is independednt yet all inclusive and all present."

Let's look at the statements made in this quote:
A. Consciousness is all.
B. Existence has consciousness as it's substrate.
C. Consciousness has two relations to existence:

Firstly, consciousness is totally independent of it.
Secondly, consciousness includes all existence from within existence itself.

The total completeness, and the total separateness of consciousness in relation to existence is what strikes me here. In reflecting on this statement I am also struck by the riddle of consciousness, as expressed thus:

"The end point of intellectual investigation arrives at the obvious conclusion that the mind and the intellect are each inherently defective and therefore incapable of arriving at absolute truth."

The riddle for me arises as I investigate this. If I compare my mind at my present age to my mind when I was a child, clearly it was different, and the awareness of it was the same. So the mind is existence and the awareness of it is consciousness.

But it was precisely the failure of the mind to comprehend absolute truth (among many other conditions) that has brought me to spirituality! Without this mind, I would not be seeking to comprehend consciousness.

So I return my mind to another quote, which tells me that I cannot simply expect truth to reveal itself. "The field of consciousness exists independently of humanity, yet is included within it." It is not a given that, just because I am capable of knowing about truth, that I am capable of knowing truth as I am.

The condition of awareness is altered by intention and taking non-attached responsibility for what arises in the field of consciousness. The riddle of consciousness is that what one is, one is by virtue of choice, intention, and perceived limits.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Source of Freedom, part I

This is the first of a series of contemplations of Doctor David R Hawkins brilliant work exposing spiritual principles and truth. The first contemplation is of the source of freedom.

"To truly under freedom is to experience it and not just think or hypothesize about it. Operationally, it could be said that everyone is as free as they believe they are and are able to accept it."

Truth Versus Falsehood, page 233.

In operation we are free by degrees in relation to the absolute freedom which is Divinity. This opening quote makes two bold statements which flatly contradict much normal reality of the world:

Firstly, that everyone is as free as they believe they are.

Secondly, that everyone is as free as they are able to accept it.

The first point begs the questions: Who believes in absolute freedom? What degree of freedom do I believe it? And is there any such thing as external freedoms?

On the second point I ask: To what degree do I accept freedom now? How do I know how free I am?

The answer to the first questions is contained in this quote:

"Just as all that is destructive has a common source, so do freedom, success, health and peace have a common source, which is that of spiritual truth and integrity."

So external and internal freedoms both manifest from spiritual truth and integrity. And the person who is aligned with these is free. And the questions of whether or not we accept freedom hinge on what degree of spiritual truth and integrity illumine our lives.

Tomorrow's quotes will concern the steps towards freedom, and the quotes on the day after the path to freedom itself.
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