Sun Moon Fire

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I have just returned from another sojourn in India. This time to the North, mostly in Rishikesh where my wife and I did volunteer work teaching at an amazing school for children of the poorest families of the slums. It is an amazing project that we were so happy to see and to contribute to. So now I return to my blog about life lived with a deep meditation practice. (See www.mothermiracleschool.org to learn more about this school.)

The teaching tradition and meditation practices that I teach and practice come from the non-dual Shaiva-Yoga of Kashmir. This teaches the universality of consciousness as the highest principle of existence: that our own ultimate “Self” is actually consciousness. And that the essence nature of the entire universe is the singular “field” of consciousness, which contains and manifests everything. That is our own true and imperishable “Self”, and simultaneously is the “Self” of all, the source of all life. This is the meaning of the first Śhiva Sutra: “Caitanyam Ātma”. “Consciousness is the Self.” It is imminent (fundamentally present) in all beings and objects and simultaneously transcendent, beyond and surpassing all relative living beings and things.

This truth can only be verified and realized in one’s own personal experience. It is within our meditation that we can access direct knowledge of this, see and verify it for ourselves. That knowledge is ultimately liberating, and it fundamentally, permanently changes how we understand ourselves and life altogether.

There is no philosophy or thought construct that can possibly encompass and contain the knowledge and nature of the Absolute. It is said that only consciousness can truly know absolute consciousness. It must be seen in direct non-conceptual experience. Fortunately, we all come equipped with the essential tool for realizing it: our own field of conscious awareness that is present in our every experience in life. All we need is to addthe extra ingredient of a true empowered meditation practice. This is what is given in the initiatory teaching of Neelakantha Meditation. It is the essential and easy “all-access pass” to exploring the highest dimensions of sublime consciousness within ourselves every day.

There are several beautiful teaching systems within the philosophy and practices that come from the Kashmiri teachings of the 8th through 11th centuries. Perhaps the highest of them is known as the “Trika” school. Trika is the teaching perspective on the “three”, the triadic-perspective on consciousness. The Trika perspective teaches that the operation of our conscious experience in normal “relative” life is of a three-fold nature. In every experience of cognition (the act of perceiving and knowing something) there exists these three aspects:

1) The knower or the person, the one who is seeing or knowing it. 2) The means of knowledge or knowing, such as the senses like sight, or the inner perception in thought-forms. And 3) The known object – that which is observed or in some way known. These three aspects are classically illustrated in the example “I see the pot (vase).” “I” is the knower. “See” is the means of knowing it. And the “pot” is the known object. These three are present and always together in every experience in ordinary waking awareness, our experience of relative (material) life.

And yet our experience in the “melted” inward state of our deep meditations every day have an entirely different character. The Triad dissolves into a unity-perception: Knower, means of knowledge and what is being observed or known all dissolve into a transcendent and amazingly beautiful unity. This is the transcendent yogic perception. In other words, in ordinary relative perception we know something by coming into relationship with it. It is dominated by the differences. However, in the direct experience of reality in meditation, it is perceived and known in a unity of consciousness. We know it by becoming it or entering into it. We know the highest consciousness as our own self by means of our own consciousness alone.

In the teaching texts of the Kashmir Shaiva tradition this is taught via metaphor: such as the Sun, the Moon, and the fire. Moon represents the “known-object” that which is seen. This very morning there was a beautiful full moon in the sky in the pre-dawn, brilliantly illuminated and magnificent. And yet the light of the Moon was not its own. It is of course illuminated by means of the light of the Sun. So the “light” of our consciousness is represented by the Sun. And fire, a small personal “light” burning here on Earth. Fire represents us, our own individual field of awareness. That, without which, nothing could or would be known.

Sun, moon and fire all melt into the unity that underlies the three. That is the teaching of the Trika: that there is always a fourth factor that transcends, encompasses and unites the triadic structure. In our deepest meditations we call that the “Turya” or the fourth-state: the vibrating sublime and endlessly fascinating state of the direct knowing of ultimacy. It is something which cannot be described adequately in words. It is beyond and behind all conceptual thoughts. It is the “Sky” of Consciousness.

This is ever a transcendent experience of awareness that is profoundly liberating. Access to this is immediately available to us every day by means of the easy method of deep meditation that is taught in personal initiatory learning. Once learned, it is yours for life. It grows by day and by week and by month, changing and uplifting life. Later, it begins to spill over into our outer (open-eyed) experiences in life. Unity perception comes to be predominant over difference perception. Yes, this requires a dedication to regularity of practice. But with that it works for each and every meditator. Those who would like to learn this ancient yet modern practice to enhance and support their own life are invited to contact me for personal instruction.

The Billionaire of Loving-Kindness

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Karuṇā (compassion) and Upekṣha (the art of overlooking)

When my friend Jennifer came for initiation into Neelakantha Meditation last month here in Los Cabos, Mexico, her husband Bode came with her and also learned the practice (Not their real names). It is great when a couple have this deep meditation practice together as it powerfully accelerates their journey of transformation in life. And that is a journey best shared. Jennifer is also one of my fellow cancer survivors. We have waited the last 2 years until I finished becoming an authorized teacher (acharya) of Neelakantha meditation for this initiatory teaching. Now they both have this practice for themselves. For life.

It is now a month later and I have just now returned. We gathered to see how Jennifer and Bode are doing. They both related that their meditations were going beautifully. In fact, they had written to me to ask if they could meditate longer than the recommended 20 minutes. So many meditators report their sessions seem to be over practically as soon as they begin, the 20 minutes passing so fast. For time loses meaning and passes unnoticed while you are in that settled and so refreshing deep repose. That state that we melt into and touch in meditation, called “samadhi”, that is beyond the ordinary flow of time.

Bode had a most interesting story to relate: They have been at a major crossroads in their lives recently. He had decided to retire (or semi-retire) from their profession of very successful acting careers. They also had just moved out from the security of their long-time family home. Of course this brings with it many fears and uncertainties. What would the future hold? But on the basis of his new meditation practice, and channeled through a few insightful evenings of sincere self-reflection, Bode came to a radical and astonishing decision. He decided just not to be afraid. he decided to abandon all habitual patterns of insecurity and doubt within himself. And on this basis to embrace each day going forward in this freedom, even in the presence of uncertainty, and bringing his very best forward. He spoke of the necessity of “doing the work”, of making positive choices in matters large and small each day. It is not always easy and occasionally is very challenging, he rightly observed. It was wonderful for me to see him in this way, with a heart filled with freedom and generosity. I felt great happiness for him, for both of them. And also in seeing how their new meditation practices were powerfully supporting and uplifting them.

I learned, as we talked that evening, that Bode has lived a very interesting life. As a young man he once decided to become a “big-rig” long-haul truck driver. He trained and was duly licensed and worked driving trucks for two years. He said he loved the feeling of being in command of such a huge vehicle and piloting it safely in all conditions. I asked him how that was for him, driving in traffic and on icy mountain roads? He smiled as he remembered a lesson from his trucking instructor who told him, “Remember always that you are a ‘billionaire of space’. That you have, and can draw upon, an unlimited amount of space in every circumstance. If someone crowds you: give them space. If some one cuts you off: give them space. If traffic is jammed up: generously give it space, as much space as it takes. You will never run out of it. For you are a billionaire of space!”

Then Bode related that he has seen how he can now apply this principle in an even deeper way. That he realizes that he is a “billionaire of loving-kindness”. That he can give loving-kindness to everyone in every circumstance. That it will never run out. What a beautiful recognition and way of moving through life that is. That is filled with the Highest. To that realization I bow.

I want to use this to segue into a couple of important teachings from our Kashmir Śhaiva tradition, the yogic tradition that is the source of our meditation practices. The word for “loving-kindness” in Sanskrit is “karuṇā”. Karuna is also the name for “compassion”. I define compassion as that aspect of unconditional love that does not shrink or turn away from suffering. Whether it is the suffering of others or is our own. Empathy, in contrast, is the capacity to be able to feel for oneself, even inhabit, the emotional state of others. But compassion has this important difference: It does not turn away, is not immobilized nor introverted into inaction, by the presence of suffering. Rather compassion calls us into action: to bring loving-kindness, and whatever help or action that is called for to relieve that suffering and mitigate harm when possible. Thus we can rise to do that which our own loving-kindness calls us to do: To give that which love requires. Most often that is simply listening, hearing, caring, being present, and sometimes it demands that we take well considered action to help relieve the suffering circumstances of others. (That is why I was a physician in my own prior professional career. And that is why I now teach meditation.)

In our various gatherings and retreats of Neelakantha meditators, when we gather for teaching and sharing we open with the following Sanskrit invocation:             “Jaya Jaya Karuṇābdhe Śhrī Mahādeva Śhambho.”

Translation: Jaya! is an exclamation of joyous exaltation, like “Victory!” or “All Hail!”; karuṇā is compassion or loving kindness; and abdhe refers to an “ocean”;

śhrī – is “honored”; mahā – the great; deva -divine or transcendent; śhambho – that which brings great abiding happiness.   So in translation: “All Hail that Great Transcendent Oceanic Consciousness, that grants all happiness, that which is a limitless Ocean of Compassion and Loving Kindness.”

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Upekṣha: Overlooking and Over-Looking

 Now that we have thus considered karuna, I want to turn to an expansion of this. This is one of four modes of conduct to enact in human relationships. This is a very simple and elegant blueprint for human interactions, something valuable to consider. This teaching comes to us from the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali (4th-5th Century c.e.). The Yoga Sutras were accepted as foundational in our later Shaiva-tantric yogic tradition. This teaching has also been prominent and respected in Buddhist teachings since the 5th century.

Yoga Sutras # I.33 offers us an approach to our relationships with other people in life (and with ourselves). It has many layers of meaning and is as applicable today as it was 15 centuries ago. In Sanskrit it says:

“maitrī-karuṇā-muditopekṣāṇāṁ sukha-duḥkha-puṇyāpuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaś citta-prasādanam”

Translated:”By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.”

In other words:

With people who are happy (sukha), we should be friendly (maitrī).

With people who are suffering (duḥkha), we should be compassionate (karuṇā).

With people who are virtuous (puṇya), we should be joyous (mudita).

And with people who are non-virtuous (apuṇya), we should practice equanimity or “overlooking” (upeksha).

We have already taken a closer look at karuna. So now let’s consider the very valuable practice of upeksha – “overlooking”.

So we choose to manifest these states in our relationships with others. We choose to manifest happiness when we are with friendly people; To bring forth compassion with those who are suffering; To manifest joy in appreciation and recognition for the virtuous behavior of others, as well as in celebrating their successes in life (For this is also the cure for, and inoculation against, jealousy.) And yet when we are confronted with some attitude or expression that is non-virtuous, that is harmful or injurious or just plain ignorant and unwise, then we can choose to bring equanimity. We can choose to overlook. Overlooking is a raising of our vision, of looking for and calling forth something higher.

It is not a matter of ignoring something damaging or evil. It is not a matter of failing to stand up to abuse and bullying, or the even greater systemic wrongs in societies. We do stand up. We do speak out. And it is not a matter of “spiritual bypassing”. We do have to deeply consider at times our stance and position on things that may be ugly, or unfortunate or outright damaging. We stand up for family, friends and community with our highest courage and integrity. And we stand up for, stand beside our human brothers and sisters, especially the weak.

Upeksha means that we choose to not inhabit the negative emotions within ourselves. We choose not to be harshly judgmental of normal human failings. We choose not to hold onto pain and resentments.

We want to bring forth that which is most noble and uplifting in ourselves and in others. If someone has simply made a mistake or enacted a contracted old habit, we can understand that. So by overlooking, we give them the space to reconsider and the time to turn themselves around. We give them the space to self-correct, or if needed, to move on and part from us. It costs us nothing, for we too are “billionaires of space”. We give them the space or room to reconsider, to self-correct, or if needed, to go.

Well this sounds very simple and admirable, these four modes that in Buddhism are called “The Divine Abidings” (Brahma Viharas). But of course it is seldom simple in actual practice. Their perfection is difficult and subject to continuous refinement. We have our own patterns of reacting and our own entanglements and areas of self-blindness. So it may take some time for us to settle and reconsider and to finally arrive at the equanimity of appropriate “overlooking”, of granting upeksha. And it is a conscious decision to generously give that space and grace to others and to ourselves. It is not ignoring something that requires addressing or pretending that it does not exist. Words and actions can and do inflict pain and cause harm. But at some point we want to release and no longer hold onto the pain and resentment of blaming. We decide to release it from our hearts. We give ourselves a gift of great freedom when we decide to finally forgive. “Radical forgiveness” is a noble and powerful act. Just as it is noble when we take full responsibility for our own mistakes. We self-correct. And meditation, practiced with regularity over time, increasingly makes us more and more capable of spontaneous right-action in all circumstances. You are truly a billionaire of loving-kindness, of compassion, as well as of space!

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Joshua Tree Retreat Center Sunrise

The Fear of Dying and Meditation- A Case-Study

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Ganges in Varanasi

This past weekend I went to Portland to visit my friend Ron and his wife Sharon (not their real names). Ron is nearing his death in this life from lung cancer. Ron was a commercial airline pilot, an accomplished lifelong surfer, successful entrepreneur, yogi and so much more. And he is a great and treasured friend. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 6 years ago (not related to smoking) and has been fighting it heroically using every form of advanced medical and natural methods available. But it is not curable.

Ron had his own meditation practice for decades. And it provided him some degree of support over his life’s journey. But it was not of the depth of support and transformation that is provided by a deep and refined practice such as Neelakantha Meditation. I wanted Ron to have this practice to support him powerfully for the remaining span of his life. For I too have a diagnosis of cancer, while fortunately in remission, is not curable. And I have seen how my own meditation practice has actually freed me from the fear of death. And that is such a precious and liberating gift! Naturally, I wanted Ron, as well as his wife, to have the support of this powerfully supportive practice for themselves.

I was at my home in Cabo (Mexico) when Ron went into home hospice care. So I arranged with another teacher of Neelakantha meditation to meet with them for the formal initiatory instruction in this practice. (Many thanks to my fellow acharya Heather from Portland.) Their initiatory instruction took place over two sessions, just two months ago.

When I arrived for our visit this weekend it was clear that Ron’s cancer was taking its toll. He had lost much weight. Previously robust and muscular, he was now gaunt, sallow and frail of body. And yet, though his eyes were a bit sunken, they sparkled with energy. He spoke with a smile and humor and was 100% engaged. He appeared filled with life.

I asked him how he was doing: How was he feeling about his circumstances now and about his approaching death? And how was his new meditation practice supporting and working for him? Here is what he said:

“Paul, actually I feel totally happy, profoundly happy. I am filled with an abundance of overflowing gratitude that surges up almost all the time. I feel great love and peace and even joy. My life feels fulfilled and meaningful.” He said that when he looks at the span of his life and all that he has accomplished he sees that he has done everything that he has set out to do. He can see now clearly, how he has been supported in an extraordinary way throughout all of his life.”

And he has certainly not given up: Even now he is engaged in the process of selling his remaining businesses so that his beloved wife will not have to deal with that when he is gone. So he is, as ever, so very much alive.

I then asked him about his new Neelakantha Meditation practice. And also about any fears he may have surrounding his death. He said his meditation has been working wonderfully, giving him great repose, peace and upliftment every day. But that it was somewhat difficult for him to sit upright (because of pain); And also difficult to concentrate because of the strong pain medicines. I reassured him that he only needed to be as comfortable as possible for this practice – reclining with elevated head is fine. And this deep form of meditation does not actually require any concentration. As it is completely effortless to do and natural in its operation.

I was very happy, of course, to see how my friend was and that any fear of death was being dissolved. He said there were occasional moments of fearful thoughts – but these seemed to dissolve as fast as they would arise. That has been my own experience as well.

The ancient Indian text, The Yoga Sutras, teach that one of the great “afflictions” or “impediments” in human life (the kleśas) is “abhiniveśaḥ”, defined as “clinging to life” or the fear of dying. It is very interesting that this sutra (II.9) states that, “Even the wise ones are affected by the tendency of clinging to life.” That it is an inherent tendency in all humans. Well this certainly makes sense, because some fear of dying is part of our deep genetic instincts. It is something that helps to protect our lives, unto making wise and safe choices to preserve life.

And yet, the fear of death in the larger scope, vs. dying, is somehow different. When we regularly go into deep meditation, to access the source-place of our highest true being, we come to experience directly, beyond all doubt, that we are of an undying nature; that our Conscious-Self is something eternal, beyond the temporal limited circumstances of this embodied (and yes, wonderful) life. This cannot be conveyed in words. It can only be known in direct experience within. This is a gift of deep meditation: The liberating knowledge of our own true, highest and imperishable Self.

Blue Throat Yoga, the modern expression of deep authentic meditation, has authorized acharyas (teachers) such as my self to offer and teach this meditation practice to those who are at the end-stage of life for free. Those who are under hospice care may request and receive this beautiful supportive practice at no charge from participating acharyas. (Visit www.meditationbend.com or www.bluethroatyoga.com)

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El Arco at Land’s End  Cabo San Lucas

Vinyāsa

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Many of you are yogins (practitioners) that include asana (physical postures) as part of your circle of yogic practices. Some of you are amazing Yoga teachers as well. Namaste!

This morning I was thinking about the Sanskrit word: vinyāsa. It is often used in yoga classes to mean a practice that is a physical flow that connects the movements and postures to the flow of the breath. This is a beautiful and beneficial practice.

But it occurred to me that this word vinyāsa has a much larger meaning in the broadest perspective on yoga. It is a model for how we, as meditating practitioners, brings the coherence and orderly up-liftment into the larger sphere of our daily lives.

 vinyāsa – is a noun. Its meaning comes from the prefix “vi” – out, separated or away from, combined with “nyāsa” – meaning placing or establishing (Such as the tantric practice of “placing” mantras on bodily centers).

Here are some of the various Sanskrit dictionary definitions of vinyāsa:

“An arrangement; a configuration; putting-together; foundation; display; placing-down; exhibition; attitude; a receptacle or holder for placing something; establishment; spreading out; display; assemblage; connecting; movement; collection; order; or a composition.

I find this very interesting and inspiring. Like a carefully composed arrangement of beautiful flowers, we create the ordered arrangement and sequence of our days and how we move through our lives. This is yoga and this is the wonderful fruits, the outwardly expressions of our daily meditation practice. We move from the introversive, closed-eyed practice of deep Neelakantha meditation, which is so effortless and so powerfully uplifting. And from there it flows outward into the open-eyed yoga of our embodied lives, our creativity, our work and all our relationships.

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Bryce Canyon Trail – Utah

The Refinement of Knowledge

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In the 8th century source text of Kahmir Shaivism, the Śhiva Sutras, it declares:

“dānam ātma-jñanam” “Knowledge of the Self is the gift.”   (III.28)

The highest and most complete knowledge of the very nature of life and of reality, the knowledge of our own Self, this is what is called realization. The self-authenticating knowledge born of the wholeness of our own direct inner perception is that which banishes all doubt, all partiality and erroneous perspectives. It is this refinement of our knowledge which sets us free.

The refinement of our knowledge, of our understanding of our own circumstances in life altogether, is informed by the transcendent non-conceptual knowledge, the “spiritual” knowledge, that is accessed so easily and directly via our daily Neelakantha meditation practice. Day by day in successive stages of higher understanding, we are refined and we rise.

This is a core teaching in non-dual Shaivism, as articulated by its greatest proponent, the 11th century Kashmir teacher Abhinavagupta in his masterwork, the Tantrāloka. (“Light on the Tantras”). In the very first chapter he writes:

“Here, in our system, we hold that ignorance is the cause of saṁsāric transmigration, (that is) within the relative worlds of embodied and bound existence. Moreover, we understand knowledge to be the one cause of liberation. This is what is proclaimed in all the treatises.”

So it is only our own limited knowledge that stands between us and liberation, What is called “enlightenment” is nothing other than attaining full knowledge of our always-already-present highest Self. That limitation in knowledge is what is called “bondage”. Its character is the perception of ourselves as limited imperfect and small (rather than whole and universal), as separate and defined by difference (rather than abiding in underlying unity) and of being separate “actors” in life (rather than as unique expressions within the unbroken totality of existence.)

Later in 5th Chapter, Abhinavagupta provides the argument for just how knowledge is the direct path to liberation:

“Indeed bondage consists of the habitual enactment of a persistent double false presumption that is persistently enacted in ordinary awareness:

First, we take what is not our True Self to be the authentic self. (the body, the mind, our roles in life and other partial identifications, etc.)

“Secondly, we persistently animate the opposite false habitual presumption: We fail to recognize that which actually is our true and authentic Self (perfectly full Consciousness) as being our true and abiding Self.

“Liberation consists of the dissolution and eradication of this double erroneous presumption. First there must occur the dissolution of the false and ignorant limited identifications. Only then can we proceed to release the blindness that prevents the full realization of the highest, imperishable and authentic Self.

“This is what is known as the Great Fusional Pervasion (mahā-viapti) and is how it is established.”

The sequence of these two processes being highlighted is important. Meditation dissolves progressively the false identifications arising from limitation, separation and arrogation that is the cause of all spiritual suffering. These forms of ignorance or limited knowledge are dissolved and seen to be false. Then we can be pervaded by the supreme and extraordinary direct knowledge of ultimacy, of the highest and universal Consciousness. This is the great span of our practices. And the knowledge of the Self is indeed the gift.

(If anyone would like to have direct personal instruction in Neelakantha Meditation please contact me. I am currently teaching in the Los Cabos area of Baja, Mexico.)

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Questions.

What are the most important questions in life? (And for some possible answers – see below.)

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I returned recently from a visit to Cuernavaca, near Mexico City. My friends there had invited me to come and give some teaching about meditation and how that daily practice can transform life and give access to true fulfillment.

This was in the very recent aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in that area. My first day with them was devoted to supporting their ongoing service to the people of Jojutla, a community that experienced some of the worst destruction and loss. It was a sobering day of reaching very deep into the well of compassion, again and again. The work of healing and rebuilding there continues every day.

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We also had a week of wonderful teaching and discussions. I met many new friends and was privileged to formally teach Neelakantha Meditation to over 30 individuals and some whole families. Now they are a group of dedicated meditators. My ongoing support of them to refine and perfect their practices continues as part of my commitment.

I received a question today from one lady about her new meditation practice. It is a very universal question so I shared my answer with the whole group, and now with you. (While keeping her identity private of course.)

Her question (edited) was: I been doing my meditations as you told us, twice a day for 20 minutes, but I still have doubts about the practice and exactly how it is working. I really don’t yet feel a strong assurance with how to meditate, and am not sure that I am practicing correctly? Thank you for your time.”

And my response was:

“Thank you for writing with your question. It is quite common and normal to have some doubts initially about the practice and whether you are doing it correctly.
That is because it is quite delicate in the beginning weeks. When I return there next time we will review the instructions together. It is so natural and effortless to practice in this way. (Remember that you also have support resources from Blue Throat Yoga included with your personal instruction.)
I can assure you that for 95% of persons who are unsure or have doubts, actually they have it and are practicing perfectly. It will progressively reveal its gifts in supporting your life. So you should trust it for now and we will recheck and confirm this when I return there for teaching in early 2018.
Doubts are good and normal to have. You should accept that your doubts must be taken into your meditation. For it is only there that the practice itself (or the Goddess of Consciousness as we often call it) will take your doubts and dissolve them into the certainty of your own knowingness. Take your doubts within and release them into your meditation. And before long you will likely be filled with the certainty of how your meditation is teaching you, sustaining your, uplifting you!

Sincere and caring regards,   – Paul”

This got me thinking about the topic: What are the most important questions in life? What is so fundamental that everything else, all forms of knowledge and understanding, pivot on the answers? (See also the previous post on the Mirror of the Mind.)

Johnny Depp said in the title role of the movie Don Juan de Marco: “There are only four questions of value in life: What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for? The answer to each of these is the same: Only love.”

The Buddha is said to have asked (Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness) “Is any value in life able to retain its meaning even in the face of our mortality? What has meaning that does not wither, even beyond death?”

For theoretical physicists, exploring the deepest nature of the physical universe, perhaps one ultimate question is: “Why is there something, and not nothing in the universe?”

And in biology, the science of life itself: “What is the essential nature of the life-force itself? How is it a being can be alive and not inert?”

And in the domain of neuro-biology and neural-brain science (and artificial-intelligence and quantum physics for that matter): “What is the nature of conscious awareness? How can self-aware consciousness actually arise from the activities within the brain?

These are wonderful questions to study and to contemplate deeply. Questions that only human sentient beings could even consider.

For the meditation masters of Kashmir-Shiva Yoga of 1,000 years ago they found their own answers within their practices. And the Heart of it is expressed in the first Śhiva Sutra, “Caitanyam-Atmā”. “Consciousness is the Self.”

Consciousness itself, free and independent, is the foundational reality principle underlying all life and all existence. Consciousness is the Self. It is the Self of all, and of our own individual, imperishable and splendorous Self.

That is what we do come to know through deep meditation. That is our practice: the immersion within our own Consciousness by means of our own Consciousness. It is there that all doubts are banished and replaced with the joyous, bliss-saturated certainty of ultimacy.

To invite you forward in exploring the questions above, consider that this ultimate principle of Consciousness is said to have 3 primary aspects: “Sat-Cit-Ānanda”.

“Sat” refers to the “truth” of actual existence. Consciousness actually exists, and therefore the entire world exists. It is not an illusion!

“Cit” (pronounced chit) refers to conscious awareness. It is aware. It knows it is aware, it is self-referential in its awareness, just as we are. Awareness does not arise from the brain. The body-brain-mind and nature all arise within and of Consciousness.

“Ānanda” is the complete Bliss-Essence character of the Absolute. This is synonymous with Love in all of its forms. Supreme unconditional Love.

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Meditation is not a Selfish Practice

We are faced with so much suffering in life, especially full with turmoil, destruction and with grief in this season, in the late Summer of 2017. Several powerful hurricanes have devastated, flooded and killed in North America, in the Caribbean, in the Southern United States, especially Texas and Florida, and in Baja California, Mexico. Now a terrible earthquake has struck near Mexico City, burying hundreds beneath collapsed buildings, including hundreds of innocent children trapped beneath their very own school. This is tragedy and suffering that seems too much for us to bear. Too much to even witness. Our compassion tears open our hearts for all those affected.

There are those who have been waiting to receive personal instruction from me in Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City. This is to happen very soon. And this raises an important question: To many persons it may appear that practicing meditation seems a selfish or self-centered practice. To sit for a few minutes each day and go within our own selves, to contact our own Source-Place of Consciousness deep within: How can we do that when there is so much trauma, disruption and suffering going on?

It is an important question. These events in our communities call for all of us who are able to rise to the challenges of helping our communities and our neighbors. And I mean this from an entirely global perspective, for we are all neighbors. We are all one community. No, we cannot all be rescue workers on the scene. But we all can offer our support and compassion in one way or another.

But the practice of deep meditation (Neelakantha Meditation) does something very valuable, important and irreplaceable, not just for ourselves, but for our communities and ultimately for the world.

Human life is filled with suffering, just as the Buddha and so many other teachers have taught. Everything we witness and experience, every trauma, every loss and every suffering leaves a trace within the fabric of our deepest mind. This affects us. Even if the suffering is happening to others, and we experience it just by witnessing it, seeing and feeling it. It leaves a trace impression in our minds too.

Neelakantha Meditation is a practice of effortlessly going deep within our own selves and accessing the very highest Source-Consciousness within. It is our own true and imperishable highest Self. It is beyond all relative human activity and dwells eternally in its own state of perfect Wholeness and Bliss. We access this and drink from it, are nourished and uplifted by this, every time we sit and do our meditation. It is of the character of Divine Grace. This aspect or value of Consciousness is called “Soma”. It is the nectarean power of healing and wholeness. It is imperishable (amrita) and cannot be tarnished, diminished nor destroyed. It acts always to release the traces of suffering from what we have experienced in life. It does not erase our experiences: What happened in life did happen. The loss, pain and the grief are real. But the wounds in the heart begin to heal when the traces of suffering are released. We are in the end left with only the wisdom, the compassion and the love that remains. Though this will often take place progressively over some time. That is our practice. It is this that enables our very presence and highest benevolent intentions to support, hold, and uplift our neighbors and communities. From this we become more capable of holding them in the highest Light and Love of Consciousness.

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We face the storms together, supported by the Highest from within.

Welcome and Introduction to Neelakantha Meditation / Bienvenida e Introducción a la Meditación Neelakantha

 

 

This is a special message for friends in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I will be coming to visit your community and to teach about Neelakantha Meditation and give personal formal instruction to all who would like to learn it October 4th through 12th 2017. (Each English paragraph is followed by the Spanish. I will also add a voice recording in Spanish.)  – Paul

Hello. This is Paul Van Camp, authorized teacher of of Neelakantha Meditation, as it is taught in Blue Throat Yoga. I am from Bend, Oregon in the United States and also live in Los Cabos, BCS, Mexico. And I am very much looking forward to coming to meet with you, to teach and to share these teachings with you in your community of Cuernavaca. Some of you may be coming just to learn something about this practice. To learn about the theory of deep meditation, and to have your questions answered.

Hola. Este es Paul Van Camp, maestro autorizado de Neelakantha Meditation, como se enseña en Blue Throat Yoga. Soy de Bend, Oregon en los Estados Unidos y también vivo en Los Cabos, BCS, México. Y estoy con ganas de encontrarme con ustedes, enseñar y compartir estas enseñanzas con ustedes en su comunidad de Cuernavaca. Algunos de ustedes pueden venir sólo para aprender algo sobre esta práctica. Para aprender sobre la teoría de la meditación profunda, y para que sus preguntas sean respondidas.

Some persons have already decided to formally receive instruction and learn this practice. I am certainly very happy for the opportunity to teach you: to formally give you this practice for your very own. To have this method of deep meditation in your life is a great treasure. It is a precious jewel that transforms and uplifts life. It opens each of us to the direct knowledge of our own highest Self within. It brings understanding of our life’s true purpose and meaning, both spiritually and practically. Over time, it releases the causes of stress and suffering and uplifts and enhances every dimension of our lives. It opens us to having more wisdom, more freedom, more love and compassion, more joy (even in the midst of life’s challenges), and more to offer to others in our relationships, our families, co-workers and communities.

Algunas personas ya han decidido formalmente recibir instrucción y aprender esta práctica. Estoy ciertamente muy feliz por la oportunidad de enseñarle: formalmente darle esta práctica para su propio. Tener este método de meditación profunda en su vida es un gran tesoro. Es una joya preciosa que transforma y eleva la vida. Abre cada uno de nosotros al conocimiento directo de nuestro Ser más elevado dentro. Trae la comprensión del verdadero propósito y significado de nuestra vida, tanto espiritual como prácticamente. Con el tiempo, libera las causas del estrés y el sufrimiento y eleva y realza cada dimensión de nuestras vidas. Nos abre a tener más sabiduría, más libertad, más amor y compasión, más alegría (incluso en medio de los desafíos de la vida), y más para ofrecer a otros en nuestras relaciones, nuestras familias, compañeros de trabajo y comunidades.

Neelakantha meditation is a practice that everyone can learn very easily, and practice successfully every day. This is certain. It does not require any prior experience with meditation or with yoga practices. It stands complete by itself. Once it is learned it is a practice for a lifetime. It is meditation perfected. It is based upon the principle of effortlessness. This is because it works with the natural functions of the mind. So it is an easy natural practice for all humans.

La meditación Neelakantha es una práctica que todos pueden aprender muy fácilmente y practicar con éxito todos los días. Esto es cierto. No requiere ninguna experiencia previa con la meditación o con las prácticas de yoga. Está completo por sí mismo. Una vez que se aprende, es una práctica para toda la vida. Es la meditación perfeccionada. Se basa en el principio de la falta de esfuerzo. Esto es porque funciona con las funciones naturales de la mente. Por lo tanto, es una práctica natural fácil para todos los seres humanos.

It is the modern form of a traditional practice developed in India many centuries ago. Even though it has roots in ancient traditions (the yoga and philosophy called Kashmir-Shaivism), it is not a religious practice. Therefore, it does not require, and does not conflict with, any religion or belief system. That is why I say it is a natural human practice. Anyone can simply add the daily practice of Neelakantha Meditation to what they are already doing in life: to their own routines of work, of study, of practices and devotions, of family and community. By adding this practice it supports the life of each individual by connecting us with our own deepest Source within.

Es la forma moderna de una práctica tradicional desarrollada en la India hace muchos siglos. A pesar de que tiene raíces en las tradiciones antiguas (el yoga y la filosofía llamada Cachemira-Shaivismo), no es una práctica religiosa. Por lo tanto, no requiere, y no entra en conflicto con, ninguna religión o sistema de creencias. Por eso digo que es una práctica humana natural. Cualquiera puede simplemente añadir la práctica diaria de la Meditación Neelakantha a lo que ya están haciendo en la vida: a sus propias rutinas de trabajo, de estudio, de prácticas y devociones, de familia y comunidad. Al agregar esta práctica, apoya la vida de cada individuo conectándonos con nuestra fuente más profunda dentro.

People call this Source-place by many names such as the life-force, universal spirit, Grace, etc. We often call it “Absolute Consciousness”. (In the tradition this was called Shiva.) Because it is Consciousness, and is present in everything and everyone, we can know it directly and be nourished by it within our own self by the means of our meditation. This is what we are learning and practicing: how to go within and touch the highest aspect of Self for a few minutes every day. It is actually very easy, natural and enjoyable. It brings true happiness, beneficial transformation and fulfillment.

La gente llama a esta fuente-lugar por muchos nombres como la fuerza vital, el espíritu universal, la gracia, etc. A menudo lo llamamos “Conciencia Absoluta”. (En la tradición esto se llamaba Shiva.) Debido a que es la Conciencia, y está presente en todo y en todos, podemos conocerla directamente y ser alimentada por ella dentro de nuestro propio ser por medio de nuestra meditación. Esto es lo que estamos aprendiendo y practicando: cómo entrar y tocar el aspecto más elevado del Ser durante unos minutos todos los días. Es realmente muy fácil, natural y agradable. Trae verdadera felicidad, transformación beneficiosa y cumplimiento.

Because there is so much hardship and suffering in the world, many people do not believe that complete spiritual fulfillment is possible or available to them during this lifetime. They might hope to have spiritual fulfillment only after death of the body. They may see the enlightened persons or realized saints as so rare and different from themselves. But in our teachings say that this is possible in this life. It is called living spiritual freedom. It is the highest state of living consciousness. There are so many persons today have been awakened by the touch or call of Grace. It is the Divine that does this. It comes in many forms, unique to each individual. It calls us forward to find the highest teachings, the true practices and the means to achieve and to know ultimacy in this very life. For me, this is my own purpose in life and my path and my means of serving others. Neelakantha Meditation is a treasure, a practice that will sustain and propel your own journey towards your own highest fulfillment. I look forward to meeting each of you very soon. Remember that we walk the path with the goal already in hand.

Debido a que hay tantas dificultades y sufrimientos en el mundo, muchas personas no creen que el cumplimiento espiritual completo es posible o disponible para ellos durante esta vida. Podrían esperar tener el cumplimiento espiritual sólo después de la muerte del cuerpo. Pueden ver a las personas iluminadas oa los santos realizados como tan raros y diferentes de ellos mismos. Pero en nuestras enseñanzas decir que esto es posible en esta vida. Se llama libertad espiritual viviente. Es el estado más elevado de la conciencia viviente. Hay tantas personas hoy en día que han sido despertadas por el toque o llamada de la Gracia. Es lo Divino lo que hace esto. Viene en muchas formas, únicas para cada individuo. Nos invita a encontrar las más altas enseñanzas, las verdaderas prácticas y los medios para lograr y conocer la última en esta misma vida. Para mí, este es mi propio propósito en la vida y mi camino y mis medios de servir a los demás. Neelakantha meditación es un tesoro, una práctica que sostendrá y propulsará su propio viaje hacia su propia plenitud. Espero encontrarme con ustedes muy pronto. Recuerde que caminamos el camino con la meta ya en mano.

Sinceramente,                          Paul Van Camp M.D. 

P.S. You may find more information about Neelakantha Meditation and how it transforms life on my website at: http://www.meditationbend.com.  And at: http://www.bluethroatyoga.com

PD Puede encontrar más información acerca de Neelakantha Meditation y cómo transforma la vida en mi sitio web en: http://www.meditationbend.com. Y en: http://www.bluethroatyoga.com

How Meditation Causes Transformation

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Full Moon Rise over Sea of Cortez

How, by what mechanism, does the regular daily practice of deep introversive meditation result in the transformation of one’s life? How does that practice, of just a few minutes each day, automatically and without further analysis, therapy nor personal effort, accomplish that? How does this effortless and enjoyable practice of immersive awareness bring that about? Bring about the dissolving of limitation from our outer experience of life and set us free on a higher trajectory for our own life?

It is a mysterious process. And it takes place right before our very eyes. It is astonishing and amazing. Our teaching and our experience is that this does and will happen with Neelakantha meditation. This is the experience of those who practice in this way today. It happens progressively over time. And it begins to happen right at the very time that we learn and start to practice. Very soon we begin to recognize the condition of more freedom that emerges into view and becomes the lived condition of our lives.

Reactive patterns such as anger – dissolve, and are gone, one layer at a time. The same goes for patterns of negative judgments, including especially our self-limiting judgments. Contracted patterns of negative opinions; Repetitively compulsive or negative “programs” of thought and compulsive negative habits of action; Emotional contractions; patterns of excessive fatigue, chronic anxiety or depression; The suffering-laden residues of past traumas: All of these are progressively weakened, disassembled and taken “off-line”. They cease to have their negative impact and cease to overshadow or color our experiences in life. They cease to have their negative impact on our relationships. Cease to hold back our creativity and our happiness.

How this happens seems mysterious. But the principle that is operating in this is perfectly simple. In our deep introversive meditation we touch or immerse our own awareness in highest Source-Consciousness. It is that Source of awareness whose essential intrinsic nature is pure love, bliss and life-affirming benevolence. It is the intrinsically intelligent universal Consciousness. It is that we call the transcendent Absolute.

And so, on the introversive “stroke” of our meditation to whatever degree, and for even a brief moment, we access that sublime Source in our own inner awareness. – Even if it does not fully “register” or is not even remembered in the early stage of meditation practice. Every time we go within in this way we bring back a “trace” or residue of that purely beneficial life-enhancing consciousness. And that immediately begins to act to displace anything in our individuality that is not in alignment and accord with its own intrinsic nature. Whatever is not in accord with its own intrinsic character of freedom, illuminative knowledge, and unconditional love/bliss, must go. It must be dissolved and released.

A root teaching text of the non-dual Kashmir Shaivism states it this way:

            “Jayati Jagadananda. Vipaksha-kshapana-kshama”

“All praise and victory that highest Consciousness whose nature is universal bliss.          For it is capable of dissolving and removing anything which is contrary or opposed to its own intrinsic nature.”                 (from the Malini-vijayottara-tantra, v. 1.)

Just as a surging river’s flow will dislodge and remove obstructing rocks and debris. So the flow of the highest values of Consciousness will flow into every corner and arena of our body and mind from our meditation: Uplifting, enhancing and healing. Bestowing more freedom, more insightful knowledge, more capacity, more creativity and love. Thus we become more of what we truly and authentically are.

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Ecstatic Joy – Enraptured heart

The Book of Sadhana, a Life Journey

I am very pleased to announce that as of today, July 22, 2017, I am an authorized teacher of Neelakantha Meditation as taught in Blue Throat Yoga. This culminates a five-year process of deep study and practices capping 43 years of meditation. I will now offer formal personal instruction in the practice of Neelakantha Meditation. It is very easy to learn and practice. And once learned, it is a practice for life. I celebrate this by offering the following blog post from here at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center:

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The Book of Sadhana, a Life Journey

Neelakantha Meditation is the “ever-new” practice. It is new, fresh and different every single day. Thus each meditation and day can be thought of as a fresh “page” in the “book” of our practice life (sadhana). Each page is different and tells a part of our extraordinary personal journey. Together they comprise a sort of book, our book that is still being written. It unfolds page by page as our story unfolds day by day.

The other side of each page is the unfolding of that day’s events. What is happening in our personal lived story? What challenges are we encountering in life? What opportunities and gifts? What unexpected twists and turns? How are we growing and learning through all of this? Alive, awake and engaged: Life is unfolding with the silent engine of our meditation practice impelling us powerfully forward.

There are powerful connections between what is happening in our meditation and the accelerated evolution and growth we experience. How have limiting patterns of thought, judgment and action, and the seeds from past experience that may contain suffering? These are being systematically released during meditation. There is a burgeoning of freedom and increased capacities that emerge and carry us forward. We, and also others, will notice the changes. Knowledge deepens. Capacity for love and compassion start to replace judgmental thought patterns and reactive anger. Our peace and happiness, our health, our relationships, and our well-being are all nourished in a life lived with such a meditation practice..

The end of the book has not been written, of course. It is not fixed. Our destiny will be written by our own hand. This is certain, because of the potency of Freedom that is woven into the very fabric of the source-place of all that exists. This Freedom is inherent in the movements of Consciousness, and therefore also in life. So all limitations and all challenges can ultimately be surmounted. We are supported in this by that which is highest, best, whole and imperishable. It is the journey towards our own highest fulfillment. We are meant to succeed in this. Just as the caterpillar is meant to become the butterfly

The metaphor of the “book” is the telling our own story. Each page is unique: each day and each meditation. This is the great adventure, unfolding at this very moment. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next!

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