The Ego and spiritual progress!

Something I am unable to do is:

(1) compare myself to others, for we are all unique and on separate paths to different destinies.

(2) Try to quantify my spiritual progress.. you know to say I am this, for example, mindful, conscious etc. Such statements are generated by the ego, to use as an identity crutch. Your meaning comes in how your perspective changes over time, how you relate to yourself and others and in what you feel, see and understand.

As well, it is important to understand that such thoughts are meaningless … to compare or compete with another is ego driven! In doing so, you are trying to separate yourself, make some distinction between you and others when there is none, there is only your path and your destiny. The bottom line is that you are you, a wonderful unique individual with unlimited potential to follow your bliss. Any limitations we have, come from ourselves, in how we view ourselves, based on our beliefs and experiences.

 

Perhaps the image is simplistic … however it shows the marked difference between ego and the soul, between separation and true love.

Let me illustrate the Ego aberration anecdotally – after a class, I was waiting for a train, two students were talking about which one was more advanced spiritually … they tried to include me in their conversation, eventually I had to suggest the following observation to both of them, that this need to compare with another, shows that as yet, neither of them were on a genuine spiritual path … For if you were, you would know the ridiculousness of comparison, we cannot compare … as the spiritual path is essentially solitary, personal and spiritual, where the ego has no place, because it wants an identity separate from others.

In any case, what is the point of comparison? There is none, except to somehow make you feel better, separate from or feel superior in some way to another.

Just get on with your life; for it is quite easy to understand if you are present, even mindful, because it will be revealed in how you approach each day and how you respond to the challenges within these days.

As we are all different, it does not matter where you are on your path, the object is to be open, to be, and stay curious, to face and go beyond our limitations, to keep growing through learning from new experiences – the ego has no part, in this process.

My posts are simply my perspective and are offered in the spirit of discovery, exploration and evolution – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

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Life before Meditation

There is much wisdom in the world, and humanity has gone through instances in the past of great spiritual growth, in the times gone by of the great prophets, the enlightened awakened and the sages and philosophers of humanity, both male and female.

The times in the past of profound spiritual growth, through the wisdom and teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus Christ and more recently Gandhi, just to name a few, there are many other great and wonderful souls both male and female in our past, that can light our path, if we let them.

For my personal experience the below is a telling quote, which was the beginning of my being present and then creation of mindfulness for me – the quotation is from Lao Tzu, a philosopher and poet, who lived in China around 2,500 years ago, the founder of Taoism and the (probable) author of the Tao Te Ching, a truly wonderful book, which I keep near me. I find new meaning in, almost every time I pick it up.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present” – Lao Tzu

This is a very revealing quotation for it gives you the baseline so to speak, the beginning point for living in the present … if we monitor our thoughts we can tell for instance is we are living in the past, we are depressed, of perhaps thinking of a time of a lost love, lost fortune, missed opportunity, regret, guilt or shame … if on the other hand we are anxious … we are concerned about something that has yet to happen … and expectation or a fear that is yet to be fulfilled, such as a specific event or perhaps a general feeling of unease or doubt about one’s future prospect … being present on the other hand, is when we are creating something, writing, composing, playing intense sport, or perhaps even making love, being entertained, or something that requires all our attention to be totally in the present moment .. a place where there is no thought of the past or the future only the moment you are in.

There are many other aspects of thought, such as ego that can only thrive when we are not present, it is fed by the way we look at the world and of course our beliefs and fears, … almost every one of these are groundless, but the ego needs them to give you an identity, to separate you from another, so you can pointlessly compare yourself to another … silly really, for comparison like competition is meaningless, more on the ego, another time.

One is in fact always in the present moment, don’t fight me on this, just wait and see how this unfolds, for we view the past as a memory (a memory from our own perspective, our own point of view) from the present moment … we look to the future as an expectation, again only from the present moment … realising this, is the beginning of the path to being present.

If you are constantly referring to the past, the best way (for me) was to accept it, and so come to terms with it, perhaps even to give yourself an apology, one you may never have received from those in your past, to forgive another, to learn, always to learn from the past, in fact from all experiences.

Now we do not forgive past transgressions for the sake of another, we are forgiving the past so we can be free of it, so it won’t control our actions in the present, to move on and more easily reside in the present moment … always the present moment… to at some time in the future, we bring that present moment out of the practise of meditation and live our life that way, almost always in the present moment is the aim of mindful – meditation at this point, for we must remember, that we do not meditate to find peace, we meditate to be at peace with what we find.

The only point we have here to remember that whilst being present, even mindful, once grasped is relatively easy, but remembering to be mindful, not always is … but as soon as we feel ourselves drifting away from the present moment, don’t engage, return to the present, for there is peace and reality, the “what is” of your life.

A Conscious Journey

Many years ago, I went out to exercise, and meditated in the park as I often did, a new experience visited …. it was as if a pebble had been dropped in a pond, the ripples went outwards and outwards from my consciousness touching all life …. bringing it within me. Each life was different in the hues of colour, for life is abundant.

From that moment on, we are connected to every life form, from the tiniest to the largest mammals and the multitude of life in the cosmos.

We can at almost any time bring that experience to focus, for that light is within.

I believe a child is born enlightened, as when they are young, there are no barriers between ourselves and the outside world, they are part of everything they see and experience! I once saw a toddler experience rain for the first time …. there was so much joy to see in her.

I would suggest that the ego is not formed at this age, so children have no idea that they are separate from anyone or anything. I don’t know whether the ego is born with us, or due to our upbringing we are infected by it. For the source of all atrocities in humanity is an ideology, a dogma or a belief that is pursued by the ego and facilitated by the mind.

We are all born abundant, only our thoughts change this ….

When children reach about 6-8 years old they can be reasoned with, this for me is when meditation might be offered, for when meditation is learnt, at some point it may evolve to mindfulness and in that state the worries and self criticism that we normally experience are given their real perspective of their impact on our lives, for when mindful we stay present and flow. We then see that most of our fears and non-present thoughts are illusions.

If it their destiny, then again over time, mindless-mindfulness will come. But what do I mean and understand by this? It is a state of consciousness, where one does not cling to anything, but is clear in all cases, without hindrance or obstruction, without being stained, yet without dwelling in statelessness.

The Evolution of the Consciousness … this is the best way (for me) to illustrate what happens as a we evolve.

Imagine you are in a Movie theatre …. When we are young (it is not everyones destiny to evolve in this life). We sit in the front row, surrounded by and (for me) assaulted by the very loudness of the speakers. The light from the screen draws us inwards, it becomes a part of us, we lose ourselves in it. We focuses absolutely on experiencing the entertainment (or distraction) …. Perhaps another example of this particular experience would be, when we focus only on achievement, or in the case of Entertainment, smartphones, some extreme sports, Play-stations and other game boxes, do by their very nature force us to stay present – in doing so they bring us a dopamine burst – our self-gratification..

During the movie, we do not think about ourselves at all, unless we do not enjoy the movie, then our other thoughts may be of a not-present nature.

As we evolve, we move little by little towards the rear of the Theatre, and as the distance lengthens between where we are and the screen (life), it becomes progressively distant, we observe an ever widening perspective of the image, of life and our place within it, we see it not as a single event, but the big-picture, including the events that led to it …. We realise that in many ways we can be our own enemy for when we focus on a fear or an expectation and over think it, it often leads to suffering …. Remember what we focus, we give energy to and so this thought (good or bad) grows in our lives.

Meditation that we do in the morning, is practice, at some point in this practice, we are able to carry that state with us throughout the day and in our life.

If we are able (which is happening in some schools) to teach mindful meditation to children as young as 8, will over time, over the generations, I feel will change the nature of humanity, and will lead to a self respect and therefore respecting others, for me it is on the path to peace, love and understanding.

When in mindfulness we stay present in the moment, not reliving the past or investing in our expectations of the future – this does not mean we don’t responsibly plan for the future, it just means we stay present and don’t invest in and therefore do not live in the future by building and living in castles we build in the air, instead of creating our futures in the present moment.

Eventually, if it is on the path of the individual, we evolve further and come via little steps to a Mindless-Mindful state where unless we have a task to do that needs our mind, the mind of the person is at rest, and empty of thoughts. This place is a also an incredible place of calm. Hence when an event happens that requires our mind we can give it our absolute focus and attention.

We can only create our life, make decisions and plan in the present moment because that is the only moment we have … it’s the only place we can act when you think about it, as well we look at the past through the present moment and we look to the future through the present as well.

Anyone can reach enlightenment in life, (some may spontaneously change due to a sound or other stimulus) or by study or when they face and overcome the major challenges that come in their lives. There are multiple, perhaps uncountable paths to spiritual growth, but what is common to all paths, is the state we are in when we arrive.

In my case, I was asked by my soul, did I want to go through the portal (the image I had of the next step), I said “if I don’t what will happen”, my soul responded “You will go no further, we will stop here” …. For me I said lets go forward, I have not regretted that decision.

Words are generally poor conveyors of meaning, especially of such experiences and of absolutes …. As you are aware, words convey only part of the message, the rough plot (a bare bones storyboard) so to speak. I hope that this gives you some background of the journey that awaits us all (my belief) in this life or another …. all of us, will evolve to the light.

My articles are simply my perspective and they are offered in the spirit of discovery and empowerment – take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

Peace be unto thee ..

 

Peace be unto thee, stranger, enter and be not afraid.
I have left the gate open and thou art welcome to my home.
There is room in my house for all.
I have swept the hearth and lighted the fire.
The room is warm and cheerful and you will find comfort and rest within.
The table is laid and the fruits of Life are spread before thee.
The wine is here also, it sparkles in the light.
I have set a chair for you where the sunbeams dance through the shade.
Sit and rest and refresh your soul.
Eat of the fruit and drink the wine.
All, all is yours, and you are welcome.

From the foreword of

The Science of Mind (1928)
Ernest Holmes

 

An approach to, and possible Blocks to Meditation

In the beginning, for your physical environment, find a quite place, where perhaps you could prepare a small display of familiar objects, or just a small candle. For clothes, make them free and open so they don’t constrict you. If you need a cushion, sit and cross you legs at this point comfortably. Now this is important, find your center whilst seated. Try rocking you body forward and back in your seated position, until you find the place where it feels balanced, do the same from left to right, … when you find that balance place, it will feel right .. perhaps then place your hands in your lap (or some other comfortable place) and begin.

 

“It is not meditation that stops the mind. It is the surrender of the mind to the soul, and the soul to Truth. It is when you prefer the word of Truth to the word of your own intellect” –Yogi Bhajan

It is common that people when they first begin meditating, believe that they must stop their mind, stop all their thoughts in order to meditate effectively. Perhaps they have heard about the blissful meditations of friends and acquaintances and wonder why theirs isn’t this way. The mind activates innumerable neurons releasing a large number of thoughts, most of which we are not conscious – perhaps we are only aware of one major thought, perhaps a worry, a concern, an expectation, a fear … or perhaps a depression or shame for an event in the past.

A way to begin having a more peaceful mind is to try and stay as present as possible, I cover some of this in previous post here

When we sit still and quiet the body and breath, soon the flood gates open and the mind starts to release thoughts it has in the ego and the subconscious. These thoughts can overwhelm and unsettle us, control us … or you can let them pass, without engaging and release them. Don’t minimize or dismiss your progress, for in the beginning to simply sit with a quiet mind for 30 seconds is an achievement … for as we go into meditation, you will notice the distractions, the worry, the fear, “what’s for dinner” … etc, continue to present themselves, simply acknowledge the thought, but don’t engage, instead lightly move on and return to your point of focus, perhaps a mantra, a lighted candle, or simply your breath, which has a beautiful ability to focus time.

Practice will allow you to empty the subconscious mind, and with consistent practice you can sit for longer periods of time. The time you spend in meditation allows the mind to assist you throughout the day because it is not so preoccupied with being the boss, you become present in your life, a marvelous, peaceful and empowering state.

The sitting is not meditation, it is practice, with time and consistent practice, you will be able to take the state of being present, being mindful, during meditation and engage in that state in your daily life .. please remember that progress is all about small incremental steps, it takes time, please be patient.

When you go to India, you come face to face with yourself

I couldn’t agree more with the quote – “When you go to India, you come face to face with yourself” – E.M. Forster

 

My personal experience in India involved both my physical and spiritual aspects ….. you may remember that I was sick for over 5 weeks, now as I look back on this, I see it as a renewal, and an incredible experience, it affected not only my physical body but my spiritual self including my access to and conversations with my soul, I am not the same person I was …. what I am in transition to, I have no idea.

In hindsight, together with the feelings that came when I first arrived (total confrontation with India – I was way outside my comfort zone), I feel the experience has shaped me and changed me for that moment onwards, a process that stripped away the person I was, the past, relationships, ambitions, perspectives, expectations – I felt I was like a block of moist clay that once I was over the sickness itself, I was shaped anew, as my soul said, “to prepare you for what is to come”.

Change is the only constant, and how we respond to it shapes our lives – I leave India in about a month, to travel to the Mediterranean – firstly, to Cyprus, actually to Paphos on the coast of the far west of the island country I am looking forward to this, to learn more about the history of the country, the archaeology. the culture, the values and beliefs, but most of all meeting and engaging with people.

Where I go from there, I have no idea, I will play it by ear and accept and flow with what life brings,

I chose to learn Spanish, truly I am not sure why, but I know I would like to explore Spain, to start with Barcelona, as well and I have an invitation from a friend to go to Madrid, time is limited because as it is part of the Eurozone, and hence as an Australian, I have only 3 months per visit to the whole of the Eurozone.

Part of this constant change is sometimes accelerated, one cannot expect anything here in India, and assumptions are dangerous, for a start, Cars seem to go where they wish, on the wrong side of the road, even once with me on the footpath, they park in the road, and then get out of their car … mayhem abounds, electricity is unreliable, every day there is at least one power failure, mind you I suppose that is something you can rely on, whether the reason is the lack of capacity, poor distribution, faults, or conscious load shedding is unknown. The balance is covered in previous blog posts.

The landscape in India is beautiful, here in Dehradun, we are in the foothills of the Himalayas, however there are large quantities of discarded packaging from our consumerism in many places, basically rubbish. I have also observed that in the Dehradun there are no rubbish bins on the streets, perhaps that may be part of the reason for this large amount of mainly plastic (packaging) and household refuse.

I am thinking of returning to India, as there is so much more to see, to learn and experience.