RETURN TO ARTICLES

 

HOW TO LISTEN TO SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS | ABSOLUTE NATURE OF MIND | RELATIVE NATURE OF MIND  | NATURE OF PAIN AND SUFFERING | FREEDOM FROM SUFFERING | PURE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE  | TRANSFORMING SUFFERING INTO HAPPINESS | THE GURU  | ON HEALING | QUOTES AND MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS  | BIBLIOGRAPHY 

These teachings did not originate with me, they were synthesized from several teachers from different religious backgrounds from around the world. In fact they did not originate with them either, but from the timeless wisdom obtained through personal experience and insight into our true nature. It has been part of the natural expression of my true nature to synthesize and organize these teachings and so doing I have benefitted greatly. Perhaps you will find them helpful also.



.HOW TO LISTEN TO SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS.

To learn something profoundly new is not just a matter of thinking or analyzing. New insight comes from clearing or emptying the mind and opening the heart, so we can listen in a new or deeper way.

Do not believe everything you read or hear even if it comes from a highly respected teacher or long established tradition, and that includes this manuscript. Thoroughly examine all teachings with your own experience, then if you find them to be true you still won't need to believe, you will know.

Intellectual theories and complex practices only serve to fuel the mind. Use your intelligence to investigate for yourself whether a particular practice or path is effective and beneficial for you. Intellectual study isn't enough, you have to practice, from the heart.

"The intellectual man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his large cell." Simone Weil

Quite often when we listen we only hear what agrees with our own opinions. If what we hear agrees with us we accept it but if not, then we reject it or sometimes we don't even hear it at all. Do not blindly accept teachings or religious dogma without an understanding of the words, but also do not reject the teachings without understanding based on personal experience.

Hearing something new and profound can create insight and real change but accumulating new information and teachings without practicing them, without actualizing them, creates mental conflict and more intellectual baggage that we will have to let go of eventually.

"A well furnished mind is not needed to go beyond the mind."

Words are just the "finger pointing at the moon". Words tend to hide the truth, don't confuse the words pointing to the truth for the truth itself. Words are intend to show you something, they aren't it. Neither is the external teacher.


. ABSOLUTE NATURE OF MIND.

Our true nature is a pure, calm, clear, open, awareness. It is the one true source of absolute happiness, love, peace, wisdom and harmony. It is absolute existence, consciousness and bliss, the end of suffering, the source of all creation, and the primal state of pure energy. It is beyond time, no past or future, non-dualistic, no here or there or you and me. It is nowhere [here-now] so it is everywhere and contains all things, (including time and relative reality).

We always and already have everything we need within us, it is simply a matter of realizing it. Our true nature exists within us now, just an absolute conscious prescence: no "I" or "you" or anything. This doesn't mean that we are already enlightened, but the potential is there.

"Your duty is to be, not to be this or that."
Ramana Maharshi

"If your mind is empty it is ready for anything, it is open to everything... and includes everything".Shunryu Suzuki

Our true nature entails letting go of the need to know everything and opening our hearts to the unknown, thus increasing our capacity for love and freedom in every moment of life. Be here now in the present eternal moment, clear, awake, accepting everything, rejecting nothing; free of ego games. When your mind is clear and your heart is open you are free to be fully attentive to whatever you are doing with a sense of profound intimacy and love and will naturally do it well. There is nothing to be attained, sought after, clung to, grasped at or rejected. There is no need for complex intellectual understanding just the freshness of being in each new moment. To be in our true nature means to die to our ego mind, our independent sense of a self, moment after moment. We can only awaken to love, peace, understanding, wisdom and compassion within ourselves and the world in the present moment.

"God does not reserve the "lofty hights" for certain souls only. On the contrary, He is willing that all shall embrace it. But He finds few who permit Him to work such sublime things for them."
St. John of the Cross


.RELATIVE NATURE OF MIND.

The nature of the egoic mind is endless change, restlessness, instability and impermanence, it is a reflection of reality.

The personality or persona is a mask which separates us from our true nature. It is a conceptual reality based on an independent self image that we have created in our minds.

"The personality is only our self restrictions and limitations and merely appears to be real like the space in a pot, appears to have space and volume and smell of the pot; defined by its boundaries." Nisargadatta Maharaj

The ego struggles to maintain and defend this limited identity by filtering our experience and building stronger boundary walls made up of concepts, beliefs, opinions, desires and memories. Some thoughts are needed to function in the world, to take care of business, the practical aspects of life. These type of thoughts function as a system for processing, interpreting and transforming sense data, they are natural and necessary. The opinions, judgements, memories etc. which constantly run through our heads have no essential reality or usefullness. Just as waves arise from the ocean and return to the ocean, thoughts and feelings rise from and fall back into our true nature. It is the egoic process that attaches to them and claims them as "ours."

We create our individual story our his-story and it becomes a relative reality, a self fulfilling prophecy that reinforces itself. We think we know who we are. This relative self image, our identity, gives us the illusion of stability and permanence in an unstable world. We think that we really are this body, these feelings, thoughts, sensations, desires etc. Yet everything we perceive through the six senses is impermanent, empty of a self existent nature, it is only real when it is seen as an interdependent part of the whole, emanating from our true nature.

The ego mind creates the false dualistic notion of a subject-object relationship. The subject or "I" attaches to or identifies with an object, ie. I am angry, I am fat, I am thin, I am sick, I am healthy, and this separates us from our true nature. The subject "I" is always looking outside itself for an object. The "I" is dependent on the limited body/mind so the object it seeks is also always limited. So we have something limited seeking something limited, never finding absolute, unlimited happiness. We become stuck in a circle of dissatisfaction, constantly seeking something more, grasping and holding onto what we got. George Bernard Shaw said "There are two great disappointments in life, not getting what you want and getting it."

We instinctively feel that we exist as something real, definite concrete and stable, due to memories of the past. But memories always occur in the present moment, there is no separate or self existent past or future. There is no self, standing or existing apart from the present moment. Each successive moment is shaped by the previous moment and will determine the "future" moment. Things don't appear to be real or self existent, we accept the appearance, the illusion of it as though it were true. Nisargadatta Maharaj said "The illusion is due to time and space. Your thoughts and feelings exist in succession in time and you imagine yourself having duration because of memory. In reality however time and space exist in you and not you in them."

"You live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality but you do not know this. When you understand this you will see that you are nothing and being nothing you are everything." Kalu Rinpoche

"Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9%
of everything you think and
of everything you do,
Is for yourself,
and there isn't one."
Wei Wu Wei

The ego is an activity, a process, not a concrete reality. It is the activity of avoidance of true relationship. The ego fears the unknown the open spaces of our true nature, it holds tight to its illusion for stability out of fear. Fear is the memory of pain and life can be painful. Even pleasure turns to pain because it is impermanent, it doesn't last or satisfy us for long. When we try to hide from or avoid the pain, we contract and limit our self, and living in a state of contraction we suffer. Our ego is defined by our limitations and contraction; the walls we build to shield us from the painful experiences. We create our own prison walls, we believe they are real and we suffer. The walls we build are mostly to shield us from the immediate personal pain, which hurts more deeply, not the universal pain of war, pollution, injustice etc.

"The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it." - Nisargadatta Maharaj


.NATURE OF PAIN AND SUFFERING.


Pain is physical, suffering is mental. In our true nature there is pain but no suffering. Pain is a signal that something is wrong and needs attention. Suffering is the signal that the personality, consisting of memory and habit is being threatened by some form of loss or change. Suffering is due entirely to clinging, grasping or resisting life in each present moment, it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on and flow with life.

"A sane life is free of pain, a saintly life is free of suffering."

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity's sunrise.
William Blake

We find that pain is not "solid" or overwhelming when we don't contract and resist it. No state of mind is solid without our story, our self image. "Fear drives us to stay in our lonely self-righteousness". We need to stop being victims and blaming others for our painful thoughts and emotions. We must learn to face the fear, the pain, sit with it, feel it, surrender to it and eventually embrace it. Facing the pain and fear takes courage and is also an act of compassion. We begin to realize that there is pain in everyones lives; suffering is inevitable. With proper understanding we can open to the painful experiences, with a gentle kindness and love and in this way suffering opens our hearts. The acceptance of pain is more difficult and can transform and open your heart more than the acceptance of pleasure. Behind the pain you will find fear, anger, sadness or grief. As you open to the underlying grief, the heart breaks open from its contractions, your tears will pour out and eventually you will feel more freedom, for fearlessness will follow. There is often the fear that if we open to our repressed emotions, to the unconscious, that we will not be able to handle it, that we will be overwhelmed and consumed by them. But there is a built-in safe guard, we cannot encounter our deepest fears, emotions and illusions until we have developed the necessary strengh, flexibility, determination and understanding to be able to handle them. We open in layers according to what we can handle, if we need some assistance the proper guide will appear.

"Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures." You won't regret facing your fears and going through them because on the other side is freedom, joy and true love, which is the absence of fear.

The root of our problems, the source of our suffering is our ignorance of our true nature. Ignorance or to ignore, means refusal to take notice. We grasp and cling and hold onto our limited ego mind and refuse to take notice of our essential and true nature, the infinite, boundless love of the heart.

"Those who are unawakened grasp their thoughts and feelings, their body, their perception and consciousness and take them as solid, separate from the rest. Those who are awakened have the same thoughts, feelings, perceptions, body, and consciousness, but they are not grasped, not held, not taken as oneself." Buddha

In India they catch monkeys by anchoring a coconut to the ground and cutting a hole in it just large enough for the monkey to slip its hand into, to reach for the bait placed inside. The monkey cannot pull its grasped fist full of the bait out of the small hole and rather than let go, it will allow itself to be trapped. We are like this monkey, all we have to do is let go, stop our grasping for limited pleasures, stop clinging to our limited self image and we will be free of our limitations and all our suffering. But we hold on out of our fear, desire and ignorance, we believe that the limited impermanent pleasures, perceptions, concepts all our self limiting ideas are real, concrete and self existing and will bring us happiness, but it only brings us suffering.

"The soul that is attached to anything, however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of the divine."
St. John of the Cross

We are like the child at the beach who builds a castle made of sand and then cries when the ocean's tide inevitably comes and washes it away, and then we do it over and over again.

The Buddha gave six major factors leading to our ignorance and delusion, ie. our persistent belief in something false.

1) karmic imprints- the primary cause, these are the imprints left on the mind from previous non-virtous actions or contractions from experience, due to fear, the memory of pain.

2) objects-in life related to the karmic imprints, which awaken the memories of aversion or desire.

3) misleading companions

4) following false teachings- due to being over enthusiastic and non-discriminating

5) habitual patterns- memory of past associations

6) mistaken concepts and beliefs The six main delusions were given as greed, pride, anger, doubt, distorted views and ignorance. Ignorance is the root of delusion and the first five all come about as a result of ignorance.


. FREEDOM FROM SUFFERING.


Freedom from suffering comes from examining and understanding the source of our suffering, the root of our problems ie. our ignorance. We must clearly understand what our habitual wrong view is like. Changing our views or concepts will not solve our problems, although they may be an appropriate first step, we must ultimately be free of them through patience, perseverance and spiritual practice. To be clear about our confusion is to be clear of it. Your attitude to life will be different according to your understanding. When we clearly understand how we cause ourselves suffering we will also understand the skillful action to take to be free of suffering.

"Study the prison you have built around yourself, by inadvertence. By knowing what you are not, you come to know your Self." Nisargadatta Maharaj

All true spiritual practice and progress is intended to uncover or realize our true nature, our compassionate heart, through experience, not blind faith or belief in some dogma. It is very important to check and see if the spiritual practice we do is an actual remedy for our suffering. Does it eliminate our delusion?

'In this life we cannot do great things we can only do small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

"Those who enter the gates of heaven are not beings who have no passion, or who have curbed their passions, but those who have cultivated an understanding of them." William Blake

The Buddha's eightfold path was given to end suffering through the practice of right: understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfullness and concentration. When we have right understanding and awareness the other seven will follow automatically. Right understanding develops by seeing the impermanence, suffering and emptiness in everything perceived through the senses; this leads to detachment. Right understanding also means seeing the oneness, the interdependence of all people and things and realizing that all the relative differences, emerge from and are part of the larger whole, the oneness of our true nature. Right understanding is not just intellectual it is practice itself. You don't have to remove the darkness of the ego you just have to turn on the light of the practice of right understanding, of awareness and darkness leaves immediately. We suffer due to our ignorance of what is real and what is unreal.

Right action involves doing whatever you do as part of your mindfullness practice. When you perform action it "may feel like you are doing something special, but actually it is only the expression of your true nature." Suzuki Roshi

"So even though there is no you doing anything, something is getting done. You are expressing yourself, your true nature. Keep it simple. What we truly seek in life is to express our true nature." Susuki Roshi

Proper effort is not a matter of achieving or making something happen, it is the effort to be awake and aware and loving in each moment, to make each moment a meditation, free of achieving, free of results, or attachments to the goal or fruits of the effort; the effort itself is enough. "Any effort we make is not good for our practice because it creates waves in our mind. It is impossible however to realize absolute calmness of mind without any effort. We must make some effort but forget ourself in the effort we make...we must make some effort up to the last moment, when all effort disappears." "Some people think freedom or naturalness means there is no need for discipline or effort, a kind of leave it alone policy. No need to do anything. For a plant it is natural, no problem. But not for us. We need to work. It is natural to sleep when tired but not when lazy. If it comes out of nothingness, whatever you do is natural, that is true practice."

 

Mindfulness is the precision of observing everything. Mindfulness is practiced to see clearly for oneself how things are. To see what is happening in the present moment, observing and experiencing without reacting unconsciously, bringing our whole heart and mind, our full attention, to each moment. Through mindfulness we begin to see all our thoughts, feelings and sensations, the world, without identifying with any of it, in order to clearly see life "as it is". Mindfulness helps to purify and balance the mind, opening it to deeper insight and realizations. The basis for all of the Buddhist practices of insight and awakening is the practice of mindful awareness in the following four areas. Awareness of the:

BODY - the body armor, physical pains, and the underlying nature of them
HEART - grieving and letting go, forgiveness and compassion, the heart opens when we come to terms with sorrow
MIND - its dualistic nature, its ignorance, and illusions
LAWS - universal laws of karma, emptiness etc.

Concentration will bring calm, mental focus, powers and even blissful states, however if it isn't balanced with mindfulness to examine or practice awareness of the nature of body and mind, it is temporary and incomplete. It is the silent concentrated attentive inner listening and seeing, the mindfulness that leads to true learning. Be careful not to get attached and hung up in the deep absorption states, the states of bliss and power that may come from deep concentration, employ your concentration to the practice of mindfulness and develop true insight and learning.

Awareness is absolute love in action. Awareness is seeing the realizations and insights from being mindful and being willing not to cling to or resist the insights. Awareness is timeless and unchanging and brings direct insight into the whole field of consciousness. Awareness in one aspect of your life does not automatically spread into all areas, you must practice awareness in all aspects of your life.

Consciousness is only of the mind, it is relative to its content. Consciousness contains the whole world, including the body, it is all one, including the waking and dreaming states. Nisargadatta Maharaj said "The only difference between the waking and dream state is that one is longer than the other. They assume different bodily sheaths, but both are illusion." All differences in manifestation exist only in your consciousness as appearances, the source is the same. You can be aware of being conscious but not conscious of being aware.

Establish yourself in "I am" consciousness only. When the thought of "I am good, bad, man, woman, or whatever arises, let it go. Return to being, "I am", that is all. It is the only knowledge that we really have. When the "I am" becomes steady then it too will disappear into pure awareness, without any object of consciousness. Then you have no identity, no desire, no disappointments, no suffering, pain yes, but no one to claim or own the pain, there is no attachment to it, that just leaves blissful awareness.

"All I know is that "I am" here, now." Nisargadatta Maharaj

When our true nature is personified we call it Buddha.
When we understand it as the ultimate truth,
we call it Dharma.
When we accept the truth and live accordingly to it, we call
it Sangha.


. PURE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE.


Spiritual transformation is a profound process that doesn't happen by accident. We need a repeated discipline, a genuine training, in order to let go of our old habits of mind and to find and sustain a new way of seeing. To mature on the spiritual path we need to commit ourselves in a systematic way". Jack Kornfield

Remember that all practices are only tools for you to develop awareness, gentle, loving, kindness and compassion on the path to freedom. That is all. Pure spiritual practice has no particular purpose or goal, nor any special object of worship. Just be fully attentive to what you are doing in the present moment, with loving kindness think, speak and act now as if you already are fully awake Buddhas. This brings the "future result" the goal into the present moment and helps eliminate duality from the start, then you can begin to fully express your true nature. The goal is the practice and the practice is the goal, so don't practice to attain enlightenment, just be here now, enlightenment already is, here now, we just haven't realized it yet, so practice being here now. Practice based on any kind of achieving is just repetition of your karma. True practice is to rest in your true nature, now in each moment, then you will realize that there is no one doing anything and yet things get done. Freedom is not something out there in the future. Practice seeing all appearances as arising from emptiness, God, our true nature of non-duality and bliss, the sacred prescence.

"The rains have stopped, the clouds have drifted away and the
weather is clear again.
If your heart is pure then all things in your world are pure.
Then the moon and the flowers will guide you along the way."
Ryokan

A true spiritual path requires us to reconnect with our body, our feelings, to all of life, now in each moment if we are to awaken. There is a lot of talk of out of body experiences; true spiritual practice requires an in the body experience. Practice the presence of God always in everything you do, no exceptions even sitting on the toilet. Be aware that everything in life all our experiences are a gift from God to help us learn about our true nature, let go of our delusions and rest in God, our true nature. Spiritual practice is not about achieving anything, it is just awareness of our everyday routine, calm, ordinary practice, just this. "Genuine spiritual practice is a direct onslaught on our egoic identity, reversing all that we have believed, it is extinction of the self. Expect some pain and fear, it is the most difficult, threatening task that anyone can undertake" Lama Trungpa Rinpoche

"The truth is the more ourself we are the less self there is in us." Meister Eckart

The greatest act of courage is seeing oneself, the good and bad, experiencing the pleasure and the pain willingly and letting it all go. Freedom comes in spiritual practice when there is the willingness to risk being vulnerable to life, experiencing whatever arises in each moment painful or pleasant. This requires a total committment to life, when we give ourselves completely with no thought of escaping the experience of the present moment, there is no suffering. Freedom and committent are closely connected.

"Marriage is the total committment of two people, to shut the door on their chance to escape the heat and pressure that is part of the relationship. When accepted it makes for growth and the relationship blooms. Practice is committing ourselves to our experience in each moment. We shut the door and sit quietly with what is, feeling the heat, pressure, pain and the blissful states, clinging to none of it."

Right practice is based on right understanding. You must progress in stages according to your capacity. You must be proficient at the preliminary levels first before going on to the advanced practices.

"The jet plane is the fastest way - unless someone without skill trys to pilot it." Lama Yeshe

Three preliminary practices:

1) Renunciation - in which the mind emerges from its ordinary limited preoccupation and instead attends to realizing its unlimited potential. True renunciation is discarding the ego not external things. We don't have to give up relative life and pleasure just our unreal expectations that it will give us lasting happiness.

2) The heart of Boddhicitta- means be open hearted. Dedication to the welfare of all beings is the only way to fully open the heart. We must overcome our narrow concern for our own liberation. Help others according to your stage of development, know the limit of your abilities. Do what you do without concern for result or reward and dedicate it all to the benefit of others, moment to moment. Treat all beings equally with love.

3) Cultivate the correct view of emptiness, it is the antidote to our illusion and delusion.

Everything comes out of the emptinesss of no-self,our true nature. When we realize this we can see the beauty in all aspects of life, otherwise everything is just an illusion. Be careful not to mistake emptiness for meaninglessness, which leads to confusion depression and apathy towards life. True emptiness is the fullness of love!

Through patience, self discipline, perseverance and concern for others, practice mindful awareness with gentle loving kindness in each moment, cut the illusion with discrimination and the wisdom of your true nature.

Here are some other practices you may wish to explore :

1) Slowdown, eliminate all unnecesary activity, purchases, simplify your desires and needs;

2) Proper breathing and is useful for calming the mind and body;

4) Yoga, Tai Chi, Dance and other movement meditations are good for clearing and balancing the bodies energy. Singing and chanting help to open the heart ;

5) Reading spiritual books can help to dispel ignorance and inspire you to practice. However, there also comes a time when the study of spiritual books can become a hindrance to true spiritual practice, one must realize when to let go of all the spiritual books and intensive study and practice;

6) Appropriate behavior means think, speak and act with right understanding. Eating healthy, proper exercise, are only appropriate behavior, they may help maintain a healthy body/mind but they will not cause liberation. It is all relative to the individual practioner. Do not be attached to the rules you practice with, it is appropiate behavior, that is all;

7) Satsang, means be your Self with others of similiar interests;

8) Use death as an advisor. We know that we will all die we don't know when. Death is the mirror in which the entire meaning of life is reflected. As we live so we die. To be afraid of death is to be afraid of life. There is an old Tibetan saying," Tomorrow or the next life - we never know which comes first." So use your time well, enjoy and be greatful for every moment, it may be your last. Be mindful, be aware. Remember moment to moment that you and everyone else is dying and be compassionate to all. Ask yourself if you truly understand and are devoting every moment to practice loving/compassion, accepting and being aware of your experience moment to moment no matter how unpleasant or painful it may be;

9) Meditate daily, make a regular time each day, to rest in your true nature, to be in God, make it a priority;

10) Practice mindfulness, be aware of your feelings, thoughts, your bodily sensations, all aspects of your present experience, with kind gentle loving attention, and let it go.

 

Expand your field of awareness, repeated thoughts, feelings, sensations or emotions are a signal for deeper attention to acknowledge some underlying feeling or emotion. Sense what is asking for acceptance. If you can't let it go let it be. Put it aside, temporarily, until the appropiate time. Be gentle.

"Live mindfully, slow down, enjoy each step, every breath; it is enough...Each moment is so precious, so wonderful; such a gift... Spiritual practice, growth - can only happen in the present moment. The present moment is all that there is. It is all that we know...Our mindfulness will take care of everything, as the sunshine takes care of the vegetation. The sunshine does not seem to do much, it just shines on the vegetation, but it transforms everything." Thay Nat Hanh

"Watch the breath, air comes in, air goes out; there is no inner world or outer world. Just one limitless world; there is no I am breathing, no world, no mind, no body; just the flow of energy, the universe breathing itself and the awareness of this moment. Just the awareness of universal activity; That is all. There is no time or space, no breathing, everything just is." Suzuki Roshi

Do not try to stop your thoughts just let them come and go and they will eventually calm down and stop on their own. Stopping the mind doesn't mean you stop its functioning, it means the mind pervades all things without being bothered by anything.

The mind is like a clear blue sky, the thoughts, feelngs, and sensations are like the clouds, wind and rain. The clouds etc. come and go and the sky remains unaffected.

"Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become still like a clear forest pool. All kinds of rare, wonderful animals will come to drink at the pool and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha." Aachan Chah

"Knowing oneself is knowing God. Not knowing the nature of him who meditates, but meditating on God as foreign to one's own self is like measuring one's own shadow with ones own foot." Ramana Maharshi

The practice of meditation is a way of being. Meditation already is. You practice being in the meditation. There is no meditating on something or for something.

"Just as a fire goes out when not fed any fuel; so also the ego becomes extinct if one meditates unceasingly and becomes merged in the Self." Ramana Maharshi

Meditation is the art and science of awakening to our true nature. A full, steady attention, committment, willingness, perseverance, flexibility and sense of humor are important, together with a greatful loving heart for growing spiritually.

Patience is the capacity to be with what is true moment to moment, without clinging or avoidance.

Enlightened humor comes from the recognition that all conditioned phenomena are only the playful self-manipulation of the Divine. The cosmic joke is seeing through how we take the unreal as real and the real as unreal. Humor means being in a state of bliss seeing both poles of a situation "as they are", free of them both, and seeing the irony of how people act attached to their beliefs and concepts. Be mindful of the ego's games and be free of them. To experience the greatest joy and the greatest freedom, one must experience the greatest pain.

Our limited perspectives, our hopes and fears become our measure of life and when circumstances don't fit our ideas, they become our difficulties." Ben Franklin


. TRANSFORMING SUFFERING INTO HAPPINESS.


" Our difficulties can be the source of our awakening. The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love...our sufferings may seem to increase because we no longer hide from them or from ourselves. When we don't follow the old habits of fantasy and escape, we are left facing the actual problems and contradictions of our life...we are inevitably confronted with our own limitations. As we look into ourselves we see more clearly our unexamined conflicts and fears, our frailities and confusion. To witness this can be difficult."

Lama Trungpa Rinpoche described spiritual progress from the ego's point of view as "one insult after another." Usually we try to fix the problem, avoid it or blame someone else and move on... We must transform our relationship with our difficulties, not change them. Very often what nourishes our spirit most is what brings us face to face with our greatest limitations and difficulties. We learn the true strength of our practices." Some difficulties require action, but most often our difficulties require facing the ways in which we struggle with life. This requires surrendering and letting go. When we allow ourselves to become vulnerable, we open our heart to new possibilities. We must understand the value of our difficult experiences in life and learn to be greatful for them because each and every one is an opportunity specifically given to us to learn something about the true nature of ourselves and life.

"No amount of meditation, yoga, diet and reflection will make all of our problems go away, but we can transform our difficulties into our practice until little by little they guide us on our way ... The seeds of wisdom and wholeness are within each of our difficulties. We must make our very difficulties the place of our practice. Then our life becomes not a struggle with success and failure but a dance of the heart. It is up to us." Jack Kornfield

Know who you are, then you will know what to do when problems arise, choices will be easier, decisions will be just decisions, not heart wrenching problems.

We must learn to see with the heart, with loving attention and not with the mind which judges, compares and separates us from ourselves, others and the world. Freedom and enlightenment are not the result of self improvement or perfecting the body and mind.

"True enlightenment and wholeness arise when we are without anxiety about non-perfection." Third Zen Patriarch

"I'm not o.k., you're not o.k. and that's o.k."
Elizabeth Kubler Ross

"When you learn to love hell you will be in heaven." T.Golas

Expanding our spiritual practice is actually a process of expanding our heart, of widening our circle of insight and compassion to gradually include the whole of our life...to let our life be our message.

"It is through our own strength of being, our own integrity, the discovery of our own greatness of heart, that we bring freedom to our lives and to those around us." Jack Kornfield

"There is only one teacher. Life itself. And of course each one of us is a manifestation of life...Life happens to be a severe and an endlessly kind teacher. It's the only authority you need to trust. This teacher this authority is everywhere...this is a very radical teaching not for everyone. People often turn away from such a teaching; they don't want to hear it." Joko Beck

When one's life looks uncomfortable, lonely or depressing it is not easy to face "life as it is". But when we do face it, when we begin to experience each moment, the true teacher, and actually just "be in the moment" then we become free of the outer appearances of depression, loneliness, anger or whatever our particular drama happens to be and we experience the true bliss the underlying ground of being, our true nature.


. THE GURU.


"Be a lamp unto yourself."
The Buddha

"Awakening is not something newly discovered, it has always existed. There is no need to seek or follow the advice of others. Learn to listen to that voice within yourself, just here and now. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things. Do not ignore the possibilities because of the simplicity of these teachings. If you can't find the truth right where you are, where else do you think you will find it?" Buddhist Text

The responsibility for your own enlightenment lies with you, the Guru within. It is what you do with your potential that determines the effectiveness of your spiritual practice. You are responsible for your confusion, suffering, ignorance and your liberation as well. However, you may need a guide, to help you become clearer about how to "listen to that voice within yourself here and now."

Life, the Self is the teacher, let go of the illusion that you are your own authority, that you are the teacher in the narrow ego sense, the egoic you is not the teacher.

"In reality the Guru's role is only to instruct and encourage; the disciple is totally responsible for himself. When there is total surrender (to the Guru) then the Guru is not important, for the disciple has broken the shell of self-defence. Complete self surrender by itself is liberation. Do not look for a Guru, don't even think of one. Make the goal your Guru. After all the Guru is but a means to an end not the end itself. He is not important, it is what you expect of him that matters to you. More important is the finding of a true disciple. Believe me a true disciple is very rare, for in no time he goes beyond the need for a Guru, by finding his own Self. Life will bring you a Guru if one is needed. Or deprive you of all outer guidance and leave you to your own lights. It is very important to understand that it is the teaching that matters, not the person of the Guru. The Guru only tells you the good news about your real Self and shows you the way back to it. In a way the Guru is its messenger. There will be many messengers but the message is one: be what you are. You are never without a Guru, for he is timelessly present in your heart. Sometimes he externalizes himself and comes to you as an uplifting and reforming factor in your life, a mother, a wife, a teacher; or he remains as an inner urge towards righteousness and perfection. All you have to do is obey him and do what he tells you. What he wants you to do is simple, learn self awareness, self-surrender. Earnestness is both necessary and sufficient. Everything yields to earnestness. Compassion is the foundation of earnestness. Compassion for yourself and others, born of suffering, your own and of others." Nisargadatta Maharaj

The true teacher will teach the student how to learn for himself. He doesn't fit you into a mold he teaches you how to liberate yourself, how to be free of all ideas, set patterns of behavior, to be kind, gentle, loving, attentive and accepting in each and every moment of life. Be aware of everything that makes you dependent. It is tempting to give ourselves over to some external guru, teacher or personality, to search outside ourselves for something to remove our pain and fear. This doesn't mean that the teacher or Guru has no value, they are very important, just be aware of how you relate to them. It is the teaching that is all important not the personality of the teacher.


. ON HEALING.


A profound personal healing is a necessary part of the spiritual process, otherwise deeper levels are blocked off and integration is difficult. The powerful unconscious forces which motivate our actions must be faced and healed. Since most of our pain comes from past relationships, it is through our experience of a wise and conscious relationship that these pains are healed. With a wise teacher, we can learn to trust again. When we allow another to witness and compassionately accept our deepest darkest relationships, we learn to accept ourselves. Healing also occurs through the power of awareness and loving attention to our lives with systematic practice of mindfulness. The awareness of : 1) body-senses 2) heart-feelings 3) mind-thoughts 4) the principles that govern life (universal laws) dharma.

Instead of fighting disease, listen to the information it has to tell you and use it to heal. Difficulties or weaknesses often lead us to the very thing we need to learn. Basically we have three ways to deal with our problems:

1) Suppress and deny them, and try to fill our lives with only light, beauty, ideal feelings, and funwhich won't last for long.
2) Freely vent or act out, which causes more agitation, confusion, and difficulties
3) Include them in our practice with mindfulness.

"The spirit and the body carry different loads and require different attentions. Too often we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey run loose in the pasture." Rumi

As our heart is opened and healed it naturally seeks the healing of all it touches, Action is sometimes needed or not. True compassion arises from a sense that the heart has the fearless capacity to embrace all things, touch all things, to relate to all things. The power of the compassionate heart to transform the pain and suffering is extraordinary.

Sometimes compassion requires us to set boundaries, say no without putting the other out of our heart.

To learn how to bless, to honor, to listen with respect, to welcome with the heart, is a great art indeed. It is not done in grand and monumental ways, but in this moment, in the most immediate and intimate way. Make everyone your best friend. We are all one.


.QUOTES AND MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS.


"Spiritual materialism is the numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted ego-centered version of spirituality ...strengthening our ego through spiritual techniques...Getting rid of the ego is the last resort of the devious ego...attachment to what we believe is spiritual is the very activity that hampers spiritual life...Enlightenment is permanent because we have not produced it...True egolessness is the absence of even the concept of egolessness...The ambition to improve ourselves is part of the problem, insight comes in the gaps of space when we stop trying...Ego is always trying to achieve spirituality. It is rather like wanting to witness your own funeral..." Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

"There is no more dangerous illusion than the fancies by which people try to avoid illusion."
Archbishop of Cambrai

By removing all the goals and ideas of enlightenment, you also remove the ideas of spiritual pride and inadequacy associated with them. We must let go of looking for solutions for happiness outside of ourselves, even "higher Spiritual" solutions must be let go of. "You become discouraged with practice when your practice is goal oriented and it is not pure enough. So be greatful that you have a sign or warning signal to show you the weak point in your practice, then renew your original practice (free of goals). Very important point! A good teacher will correct your practice. Even wrong practice, when you realize it and continue anew, is right practice." Suzuki Roshi

Be aware of following a spiritual path and substituting new religious idealogy for former beliefs and using them in the same old neurotic way.

The world is a mirror. It is a reflection of the mind. Every experience reveals truth and understanding. The world is only unreal as the world, as a separate self-subsistent thing, but it is real as a manifestation of the Self, of God. See the world as it is, a momentary appearance in consciousness. When there is no-mind, there is no-world. The world is only a reflection of yourself, stop finding fault with the reflection. Attend to yourself, mentally, emotionally; forget reforming the world and others, tend to the reformer. All circumstances in life are manifestations of our own consciousness. Every situation is an opportunity and a challenge, which demands the proper response. When the response is correct the challenge is met and the problem disappears and healing sometimes occurs.

Intuition comes from spacious awareness free of the analytical mind, we find solutions to problems, without figuring anything out, or doing anything to make it happen. Sometimes the problem itself just disappears. The world supplies us with the information as well as the appropriate situations we need to learn the answers to our questions. It requires surrender to a greater totality, oneness, which offers the insight and guidance. When we are fully quiet, aware, and still, the mind boundaries dissolve, we merge into life "as it is " which contains the proper questions as well as the answers. Just wait patiently and everything will happen as it should. The thinking mind cannot comprehend the solution, it often creates the problem.

Karma is only a store of unspent energies, of desires and fears not understood. Karma is action, it is clinging and resisting. Give up clinging, resisting and creating new karma and old karma begins to surface. We are given the opportunity to let go of it, also. Karma is based on the intention or motive behind an action. We must be aware of our intentions that precede our actions or we may act unskillfully and create conditions for future suffering.

"Purity of heart is to will one thing."
Kirkegard

As you develope your love for your true nature, your oneness with God, you simultaneously find the will to do what is most difficult.

Real devotion is rooted in a reverent gratitude, but one that is clear and grounded in intelligent wisdom.

Wisdom is non-identification with the teacher, the teaching, the path, the technique, the self. You merge and become it all.

Remember. Our difficulties and suffering can be the source of our awakening, they are often the very place to discover the greatest wisdom and love.

Remember. "The things that matter most in our lives, are the moments when we touch one another, when we are here in the most attentive and caring way".




BIBLIOGRAPHY

Charlotte JOKO BECK
Everyday Zen

David GODMAN
Be As You Are

Thay NAT HANH
Peace Is Every Step

Jeff GOLDSTEIN
The Experience of Insight

Jack ORNFIELD
A Still Forest Pool, A Path With Heart

Stephen LEVINE
Who Dies A Gradual Awakening

 

 

Nisargadatta MAHARAH
I Am That The Ultimate Medicine

Ramana MAHARSH
The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi

Sogyal RINPOCHE
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Trungpa RINPOCHE
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Myth of Freedom

Lama YESHE
Introduction to Tantra

Suzuki ROSHI
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind

YOGANANDA
Autobiography of a Yogi