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.

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A journey from Houston, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

After spending over a week with my Sister and her family in Houston … a wonderful experience as was Houston itself. I booked passage to Santa Fe, New Mexico …. choosing trains over Airlines, because I wanted to see the countryside.

The train left late, then again it was my experience with Amtrak thus far, their timetable was more of an indicator that it would leave rather than a commitment to the specific time.

Off we went, and we settled into the long journey to El Paso, Texas, which is on the border of the United States and Mexico.

We rattled along, the click-clack of the tracks relaxed me, I had a meal and snuggled up into my blanket.

I awoke not that long afterwards, as we were stopped … thinking it was a station, I waited, but we didn’t move. Apparently the train to El Paso wasn’t complete as they needed 5 carriages from the train from El Paso to Houston … which had been delayed. We waited 5 hours for the missing carriages to arrive, these were needed for the passengers booked on the train further along the line … what had been a long trip of 19+ hours, turned into 24 + with the delays.


The above is the type of train, we had for the journey, with Restaurant and Observation carriages.

With the help of my sister we had cut off the Orthopaedic cast off my leg in Houston … as it had been 6 weeks since I fractured it. Hence I wasn’t walking that steadily.

The Amtrak journey aside from the delay, was uneventful, The restaurant food was OK … probably 3 star. I spent time in the observation car …. and besides a glimpse of a river that joined the Rio Grande, and the river itself, it was mostly cuttings and prairies.

On arrival in El Paso, I and made my way slowly the 600 meters to the Bus terminal.

The bus would take me from El Paso to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As we were delayed by the train, there were a lot of people for the bus journey. I checked in my bag when they eventually allowed me to, and went and had something to eat, in the terminal, surprisingly it wasn’t bad actually.

The bus left about 9pm and arrived in Albuquerque almost 5 hours later. The journey was comfortable and warm. Along the way, we stopped at the border check point patrol and they inspected the bus …. they asked if anyone was not an citizen (though that’s all they did) … and they showed quite a surprise when I volunteered my Australian passport.

On arrival in Albuquerque, we were deposited in the local transport center at around 12am … the first RailRunner trains left at 4.30am …. time does drag sometimes when you are waiting, it is reminiscent of air port lounges, as well not-unexpectedly the RailRunner was late …

The RailRunner journey to Santa Fe was pleasant and speedy ….

I arrived right in Santa Fe …. at the Depot … I was exhausted as I had sleep little on the journey … I used my phone to arrange an Uber and soon after arrived at my room … and crashed … surfacing in time to go and find somewhere for dinner.

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.

The Fable of The Blind Men and the Elephant

With thanks to Inma VP for the inspiration and the image above (Image creator is unknown) …. Please read to end of poem …

THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT.
A HINDU FABLE.

A poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1872) illustrates th story, and the issue.

i.

IT was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

ii.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

iii.

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried: “Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ‘t is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

iv.

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

v.

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
” ‘T is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

vi.

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

vii.

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

viii.

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral
So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

But surely the picture of the blind men and the elephant also points to something bigger — The elephant itself?

 

Blind Men and the Elephant – Image Creator is Unknown

Indeed, each of the blind man has a limited perspective on the objective truth, but that doesn’t mean a truth isn’t there, for truth isn’t relative at all – the elephant is there to discover in its totality.

In the areas of the Spiritual or Religious and theology, we have only our personal perspective, in other disciplines we may have hints, even so this doesn’t mean any and all versions of Truth are equally valid. Actually, if we know (or believe) that the Whole Elephant is there, perhaps we should seek every opportunity to experience more of the elephant, a metaphor for example for the Divine?

In mankind’s attempt to understand his environment, we codify what we see in a way which we can understand within the knowledge and perspectives we have available at the time. As we evolve I would suggest that our perspective will …. we may see more of the elephant, perhaps one day we may see all of the elephant.

Here, I would give the floor to a beautiful mind with regard to an aspect of this …

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth” – Marcus Aurelius

Further From Wikipedia …

Modern treatments

The story is seen as a metaphor in many disciplines, being pressed into service as an analogy in fields well beyond the traditional. In physics, it has been seen as an analogy for the wave–particle duality. In biology, the way the blind men hold onto different parts of the elephant has been seen as a good analogy.

“Blind men and elephant”, from Martha Adelaide Holton & Charles Madison Curry, Holton-Curry readers, 1914.

The fable is one of a number of tales that cast light on the response of hearers or readers to the story itself. Idries Shah has commented on this element of self-reference in the many interpretations of the story, and its function as a teaching story:

… people address themselves to this story in one or more interpretations. They then accept or reject them. Now they can feel happy; they have arrived at an opinion about the matter. According to their conditioning they produce the answer. Now look at their answers. Some will say that this is a fascinating and touching allegory of the presence of God. Others will say that it is showing people how stupid mankind can be. Some say it is anti-scholastic. Others that it is just a tale copied by Rumi from Sanai – and so on. Shah adapted the tale in his book The Dermis Probe. This version begins with a conference of scientists, from different fields of expertise, presenting their conflicting conclusions on the material upon which a camera is focused. As the camera slowly zooms out it gradually becomes clear that the material under examination is the hide of an African elephant. The words ‘The Parts Are Greater Than The Whole’ then appear on the screen. This retelling formed the script for a short four-minute film by the animator Richard Williams. The film was chosen as an Outstanding Film of the Year and was exhibited at the London and New York film festivals.

The story enjoys a continuing appeal, as shown by the number of illustrated children’s books of the fable; there is one for instance by Paul Galdone and another, Seven Blind Mice, by Ed Young (1992).

 

“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” — Werner Heisenberg

The Ability to Observe without Evaluating

In my view and perhaps the view of others, for just and compassionate communications, we will all evolve, each in their own time to separate the Observation from the evaluation. I say this for when we combine observation with evaluation (our ego), others may hear criticism and may take offence (their ego) to what we are saying, or they will hear our projected observation that may be quite uninformed and therefore unjust. For each time we engage with the world, we interpret it through our ego, beliefs, fears, experience and learned dogma.

The human mind generally looks at every experience or thing as something to be labelled, it discriminates and comes to a conclusion perhaps in the range from good to bad … in this way by labelling an experience, good or bad, right or wrong, even profit or loss or pain or pleasure – we can then move on because we have am outcome, we have a judgement on the experience or the event, hence in doing this we actually create duality in the world as we go along. However despite all I say below, there are times when we do need to evaluate circumstances and experiences to navigate safely the physical duality world, the world of form and feelings.

From our individual beliefs and experiences we may each of us have a different understanding of words, people or events, as different beliefs on what things mean, come from our varied life experiences, beliefs and dogma – hence it is not unusual that many of us amy have a different perspective on any given experience.

To observe without evaluating is a higher state of consciousness, the highest form of intelligence.

There are those who unconsciously react without thought or reflection, who are driven by their desires, their egos, some dogma, their past, as well as those with the illusion of knowledge and who in their beliefs are seemingly devoid of compassion, empathy or kindness.

However this idea of rugged individualism will ultimately fail, it is failing now, for in my view humanity thrives best in concert with others in a collaborative, co-operative dynamic, rather than the current state of blame, judgement, regurgitated dogma which results in conflict and confrontation.

For me, I am happy to understand that we are NOT just our minds – however the mind is not the best tool on it’s own to understand our motivations, our feelings, which may initiate actions. The stimulus … “why” we do things, but as I have mentioned previously on this site, understanding this is possible for those that wish it to.

My view that each time we judge others and then project our own beliefs (which originated from our experiences, dogma, our beliefs and thus expectations) as ego onto others we reveal an unhealed part of ourselves, a part of us that is not strong, authentic and whole.

Whilst it may be impossible not to form an impression of some kind for someone we just met, or form an opinion of the behaviours of others we already know – what we can do, is change what happens next, for to judge another is to assume a position to which we have no right …. we cannot know another for we have not lived their life, walked in their shoes, so to speak, the best we can do is to assume they are like us – which is an illusion, as in fact many of us hardly know ourselves, so to judge another, to feel superior over another is in my perspective a failing, a destructive aspect of society and humanity.

Tolerance … Wonderful diversity … for we are all the same, we all seek engagement with our community, our friends and those we love. Everyone, every life has an equal value in the Universe.

For me, Judgement and projection of our beliefs onto others is not an enlightened activity, it is, like competition and comparison essentially meaningless.

Once we have the awareness of this aspect of us and we desire to change this propensity to judge and project, it can and is ameliorated and alleviated over time, normally by the internal witnessing of your thoughts and actions. It is something we have to do for ourselves, for we cannot save or change others, for change is something we each have to do for ourselves.

We must remember that we are the witness to the story, not the player in the story.

As Buddha said …. “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”

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

A Visit to Houston, Texas

I arrived in Houston from Tampa, Florida by United Airlines …. travelling on this occasion was quite an improvement on my last outing with the airline.

My sister was at Houston airport to meet me, such a delight, it was so good to see her after all this time, but strangely, it was as though for the first time – she is such a beautiful soul.

Houston was a surprise, my love for cities in general is rare … Houston is by and large a clean city from what I saw and surprisingly it dawns on you slowly about the paradox that is Houston, others have wondered what my perspective might be – frankly it was a surprise, for in one area you have the absolute frenetic activity of the business side, from the wide expanses of freeways, with layers upon layers of cloverleafs and crossovers, to the broad clean streets of the one way roads in the city center, to theatres, where we took the opportunity to see an Arthur Miller play ( A View from the bridge – here ) at the Alley theatre, then the transition to the unexpected simplicity and beauty of close residential areas of the green inner city suburbs, the quietness, the oak trees and the beauty of nature expressed in the parks, sculptures, community gardens and parks, such a nice feeling it generates.

Although I am writing this in September, I visited Houston in May / June 2017 … hence now we also have the perspective of the impact of Hurricane Harvey …. as well.

Flood control is a priority in the city, so how much does Houston spend on flood control – here is an article that gives a view on this – here as well here is an article concerning the effect on Houston of the recent Huricane itself – here

A picture of an inner suburb in Houston .. an area of parks, museums, art galleries and a University.

A Community Garden in the inner suburbs of Houston

We went to an Arthur Miller play ( A View from the bridge ) at the Alley Theatre in Houston. It had been a long time since I had seen a play with stage acting … nice!

To encapsulate, I really like Houston …. it had a calming feeling to it …. trees and greenery in those places I visited was refreshing and energising.

I Left Houston by Amtrak train to El Paso as I thought it would give me time to see some scenery and meet and talk with other people …. that experience comes in the next travel post where I am on my way to Santa Fe, New Mexico via Albuquerque.

Writing a Healing Journal

Writing meditation is an exercise that I have used, and today some 20+ years later I still carry a notebook.

The purpose of this is to help direct our mind to understand and then change our behavior, by understanding the causality of that behaviour. This created for me a place to start.

The way I have understood this is that any challenge we have undergone, in the past or even a current challenge is often not understood at a feeling level – because we are face to face with it, we cannot understand the entirety of the experience.

Find your ideal outdoor space and start to write

Hence by writing we can forge a connection between the conscious mind and that part of our mind that houses feelings. Now do correct me if I am wrong but feelings are placed in the mammalian part of the brain, referred to as the Limbic system … it’s where emotions and feelings are, it also where all decisions are made … so I have found by writing every day we gradually form a link between the feeling part of the mind and the rational mind … over time we create a perspective as we convert the feelings into something we can understand … a cause .. we have to do this as the Limbic system does not have language hence, we have to understand its messages another way …. gradual and regular journal writing did that for me, perhaps it can do it for you?

Gradually over time, we form a link between the parts of the brain and will understand that a frustration we might be feeling may be something like a past regret, a depression or some level of anxiousness about something in the future …the quickest way to start to understand this is to say …. if you are feeling guilt, depression or shameful then the event you are thinking about occurred in the past. If you are feeling fearful or anxious then the event you are concerned you might expect to occur in the future.

Many of the common feelings come from fear … control comes from fear, aggression comes from fear … even conformity is based on control which mostly comes from fear, there can also be fear that non-conformity will hinder us in attaining their goals or being accepted … Governments love it, but conformity is a pipe dream as it is quite unattainable – that is where Government use fear, blaming minorities, scarcity and alleged external threats to control us, to subdue us. The only real threat to most countries comes from within, from the egoes of those in power, the politicians themselves.

This whole experience is about how you and I relate to what makes up our personal world, for we are in a relationship with everything, what is our relationship to its various parts.

For this reason, once you discover what your concerns are, divide them into two groups, what you can do something about, like change your attitude to a past personal event or forgive those concerned (this brings freedom as well) and the second group … those things we can do nothing about … the actions of Government and bureaucracy … something that individually we can do little about … the reason we split the triggers, the categories for concern, is that we need to empower ourselves and trying to make sense of or understand a Government / Bureaucratic action is difficult, implausible … but detaching from it, we are no longer a victim, we can understand what is going on within.

To start, take a few minutes a day (most days if you can) … find a quiet place, then just start writing … it doesn’t even have to make sense, just seeing on paper is the beginning. For me I would go down to the local park, take my shoes and socks off, ground myself in the grass or the soil and begin.

I have found that after about a week of being quiet and writing, you will find yourself becoming more in tune with your feelings, you will become calmer … this can help with your day to day relationships —- My experience is that the changes in your understanding and behaviour will take place without any conscious effort, no matter how old, or what has happened in the past in the normal course of your life, writing a journal will literally calm and begin to bring a greater understanding to your life in just a matter of a few weeks.

A good thing about writing is that we can go back and look at it gain in the future, in my case this allowed me to look at what I had learnt aand how I had changed. When an event no longer confronted me, I would remove the pages and burn them …. for some reason those issues would only very rarely return.

Though this experience behind this post is many years old, and speaks to an experience even older, I thought it may have value to someone.

This is not the only way, do what works for you, as I have said before 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.