Enough is Enough

When is Humanity Going to Get That We’re All in This Together?

Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

The OK mudra

Posted by majutsu on August 5, 2010

There is an opening into the dimension of the timeless awareness that is the source of everything and in which we are all one. This opening or keyhole is total, personal awareness. There are many tricks and methods to get to that place of being right on the verge of experiencing total, personal awareness in the now. The final step over the precipice of selflessness, however, must be taken by faith – for it is a place where the mind alone cannot lead.
The mind can lead the seeker right up to that precipice, however. In fact, the accumulated store of mantras, mudras, meditations, practices, bhaktis, and so on, is nothing but a collection of tools, pointers to that precipice where grace must take over. In particular, I was reading recently about an analysis of a certain mudra (meditative hand-gesture) that has been used in the past. Sometimes, when reading about ancient mystical traditions, one is struck by the powerful thought and analysis that has gone into to some of these cherished pointers over the years. It might say something about our spiritual and cultural degradation that so many of these mean so little to anyone now.
The mudra being studied in this piece is rather simple – its ramifications are not! The mudra is the thumb touching the forefinger of either hand, as though you were saying, “OK!” The main thought of this mudra is that the experience and the experienced are relative, semantic distinctions, and in reality, they are really one. To begin, touch the thumb to the forefinger as described above. Now, imagine you are the thumb, a stout little creature, and that as you touch and untouch the thumb and forefinger repeatedly, try to be conscious of yourself as a little thumb being stabbed repeatedly by this external, poking first finger. Usually within 30-40 seconds, you can really be conscious of yourself as experiencing thumb and the finger as the experienced. Relax your hand and mind and begin again. This time, try to be conscious of yourself as a slender finger being pounded on repeatedly by this smashing, thick thumb. Again, within an average of 40 seconds or so, you will be conscious of yourself as the experiencing finger being mashed by this oppressive thumb. You can do this repeatedly, back and forth, getting a sense of yourself alternatively as thumb or finger, with the roles of experiencer and experienced changing rapidly. In this way, within a few minutes, you can build a sense, a feeling, of the truth that experiencer and experienced are one event. Both Newtonian physics before and quantum physics now discuss the idea that experiencer and experienced are tied together in a profound and essential relationship. What else is fascinating about this mudra is the readiness with which we, as we play the game, willingly shrink our consciousness down to a body part – “I am a thumb” – when that same consciousness is capable of saying “I am a person” or even expanding to comprehend the entire universe!
So there are two main points that can be internalized on the bodily, experiential level through this exercise: 1) Consciousness can be so easily limited (“I am a thumb, “I am this body part,” or “I am this miserable situation in my life”) that it throws serious doubt on any assumed limits we tend to place on consciousness or true identity. 2) Experiencer and experienced are one, inseparable being. Since we tend to divide the universe into myself and all-that-other-stuff-out-there, experiencer and experienced, we must accept by the mudra that the world and I are really one being in a complex interaction since experiencer and experienced are arbitrary and inseparable. This is why, in quantum mechanics, sometimes, the universe or other system is described in terms of a wave state, a totality of the way things are. This is because the proverbial butterfly flapping her wings in one part of the world might provide the critical molecular stimulus for some crucial physical event elsewhere in the world. With such vast interdependence, it is futile to talk of parts or complete causes.
Also, if the experiencer (me) and the experienced (everything else) are really one totality, having already cast doubt on the assumed limits of our consciousness, we must certainly see that the consciousness and being that pervade the universe must arise from the consciousness of me, my self, much as the finger’s consciousness or “I am-ness” arises from the same source as the thumb’s consciousness or “I am-ness.” That matter-energy field that is me-and-the-world-together sings without limit or border, much like a beam of light keeps going through space indefinitely in the absence of reflection, refraction or absorption. And since the vibration we are contains everything, timelessly, what could there be to bounce off of? So we sing the song of creation, everywhere, timelessly, without border.
What sort of implications does this belief structure have? First of all, personal identity, which requires that certain experiences being acquired or excluded, and that the awareness of the universe being limited to a particular fleshy body, collapses in the faces of an indistinguishable experiencer-experienced pair as well as an inability to draw a border around awareness. It is the artificial structure of the personal identity that causes us chronic unhappiness, experiences we crave or don’t want to have, identities we don’t want to live out etc. This is what causes us to hurt the ones closest to us that we love the most. On a larger scale, our misidentification with race or nation causes genocide and war. Our severing the oneness we share with the earth is the cause of our rampant environmental degradation. Our knowledge that our true identity always was and always will be, unchanged, erases our identification with birth and chronic dread of death. This absence of fear enables us to love ourselves and others effortlessly and fully, celebrating our joy and oneness instead of suffering our divisiveness and fear.
You can see that understanding who we really are is one of the most important tasks we face at this time. The implications of becoming “OK” with who we really are can transform our lives, our relationships, our nations and our planet. If we don’t soon wake from this nightmare and figure out how to become “OK” with our selves, the suffering could be so deep and catastrophic that our compassionate queen may well shred apart everything to end the suffering of delusion as well as to teach the doctrine of love and awareness. There is the path of suffering and the path of reason and practice. The path of suffering is hard and is one I try to save myself and my own children from when possible. Since we need no time to become “right,” merely an instant, let it happen now like sunshine fills a dark room once the window is un-shuttered.

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Villanelle for a Shot of Jameson

Posted by majutsu on July 28, 2010

A shot of whiskey joins ice and warmth
and does not question rocky errant paths
like humans who forget the final step

is but the last and counts as one of all,
the final sum of but forgotten math
a shot of whiskey joins. Ice and warmth,

and pleasure and pain do bind together all,
protect the self with swings of lust and wrath
like humans who forget. The final step

we take to realize we are very small,
a nothing, salt dissolving in a bath.
A shot of whiskey joins ice and warmth

and does not hide in casks or shirk it’s call
to rest in tapestries of days, a single lath,
like humans who forget the final step

arrives, and wanders-past aren’t tragic falls,
just narratives to unknown aftermaths.
A shot of whiskey joins ice and warmth
like humans who forget the final step.

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The Box

Posted by majutsu on July 27, 2010

My wife, who’s a writer, often tells me it’s good for the soul to write. My protestations of lack of craft and sufficient free-time she over-rides by saying that making a sonnet is like making a little toy of words. I love little toys, trinkets, pieces of art, etc as they tend to re-awaken the child-like joy that is the state we aspire to when we seek to find the root one-ness of all, that state of what the Shiva Sutra calls “joy-filled amazement”.

So here’s my naive sonnet filled with fixed formal ideas about stanza purpose, force iambs, and anachronistic contractions: Enjoy! 😉

The Lacquer Box

An antique shop I passed on route to school
had on display a painted lacquer box.
Desiring leafy lacework ‘til I drooled,
I saved to buy the key. My piece, unlocked!

Between my hands, alive, wood resonates,
Enamel tendrils snake ‘round fingertips.
The tiny key’s intelligence innate
pries tumbler pins with clicking, kissing lips.

Once opened, red velour lined coffin walls
entombed a tiny, dazzling, crystal man
with probing sapphire eyes and chiseled jaws
the craftsman’s sacred message held ‘tween his hands.

The secret hid in carvings, secured by locks?
One chip of wood, a simple uncarved block

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The Illusion of the Self

Posted by majutsu on July 21, 2010

The Illusion of the Self

We humans suffer from a serious mental illness which results in terrible crimes against others and the earth. Instead of correctly seeing ourselves as nothing other than the one, formless source of all life, consciousness and being, we identify ourselves with our personal narrative sustained by the running commentary in our heads.

Imagine, as a metaphor, that our thoughts – our past, our relationships, our likes and dislikes, our concepts about the world and its objects – are marbles. Imagine a big bowl filled with these diverse, multi-colored and enchanting marbles. Now, imagine ourselves as obsessive marble collectors, that we have insanely mis-identified our true nature as this collection of marbles. In that case, like an obsessive marble collector, we will perpetually be seeking to add another prize specimen to our collection to “complete” it, or, alternatively, be petrified of losing one of the precious marbles in our prize collection. In this way, we, like the obsessive marble collector, by mis-identifying with our collection of thought-forms, will vacillate between excitement to add another marble (another possession, experience, relationship or achievement) to our collection and fear of losing what we have in the unknown future. Because this chronic unhappiness, this emotional roller-coaster, is the necessary outcome of our mis-identification with the mind, our individual existence and its thought-forms, this unhappiness can never end, despite our stringent, but ultimately irrelevant, attempts to either augment or secure our identity.

As another metaphor, imagine a very skilled metal-smith has fashioned a water fountain, the top of which has an intricate network of twisting conduit-pipes and outlets, fashioned so that water coming from the bottom emerges as transient water-sculptures of birds, angels, people, landscapes, etc., in a dizzying show. In this case, our thought forms are the pipes, the conditioning of our culture, gender, race, and past. This conditioning turns the raw power of formless consciousness, the water in the fountain, into the transient, individual consciousness we experience, the show at the top. This is why we only perceive this cosmic consciousness as the transient dance of forms we call our individual life, and this is why it is so easy to mis-identify with the transient, individual self. This is also how it is that cosmic consciousness becomes imprisoned in our individual self. But it is the feeding of the cosmic consciousness that gives us life and is the source for any new idea we have, impulse to act, or creative endeavor. However, because of the conditioning of thought-forms, our creativity and cosmic consciousness become enslaved to supply the freewill to the actions we create to chase after future objects or achievements, or to run away from fears we may imagine. But as soon as one of the watery doves or other transient thought forms we experience disappears, we see the cosmic consciousness once again fall to reality and return to the source, much like the water from the top of the fountain falls back down and soaks into the earth and eventually back to the sea.

By learning to cease identifying with our individual selves and its thought-forms, we may experience the source of cosmic consciousness. We may be spared the agony of recurrent cycles of excitement and fear that ultimately make us miserable.

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Notes from the zafu

Posted by majutsu on July 8, 2010

I recently acquired a zafu while buying one for my wife. I haven’t sat in about fifteen years. When I did sit, without the purifying that suffering over time provides, I’m afraid I was better at observing the trappings of Buddhism: sitting, dietary rules, and a book collection, as opposed to being anywhere close to an understanding of the profound change required in terms of the way one interacts with the world in order to have accepted the teaching of the Buddhist path. Of course, over time, one loses many things: people, money, objects, and opportunities, and this enables you to accept reality in its ups and downs versus building an elaborate fantasy world in the head to rage against the world-as-it-is on a stage built to your design. This unadorned awareness is the beginning of sitting and practice.
While I no longer think of myself as a Buddhist, and find Shaivism and Christianity interesting as well, meditation draws to mind, for many people, Buddhist teachings. Buddhism encourages de-attachment from the ego-centered world. Certainly, the source of much suffering in this world is people wanting many things when they really need nothing. Not only are “small-scale” sufferings like depression and anxiety caused by this wanting, but many large-scale sufferings like war, poverty and environmental damage to an extent incompatible with sustaining human life. But chasing down whiffs of ego and snuffing them out can be tiring and unproductive as I know from experience.
I prefer to focus on “the now” because it’s one of the few English word/concepts that is by itself formless and inconceivable. Grasping now is like trying to stop a river. There is no hunger right now, no poverty, no family, no possessions. If, for example, you were sad about not having friends, you could realize that if you had them or not, you could hardly make use of them right there at that moment on that zafu. If your partner is dying this week, s/he is not dying right then at the second on that zafu, and you don’t even have a partner at that instant on that zafu. You can’t lose your job at that second on that zafu. At that second, there is no oil spill, no political corruption, no environmental damage. All these concepts are contingent upon the passage of time. This practice negates the illusions of ego while performing a positive activity, being intensely aware of this very moment. In this precise moment, rather easily, a very peaceful, beautiful nothing is experienced – what I suppose many would call experiencing God. It is very easy to expand this awareness into compassion for every human being you meet. It is very easy to expand this awareness into an experience of the Earth as a cohesive whole that we should respect, love and enjoy.
I hope my thoughts and tips on sitting may be helpful to others. I know Eckhart Tolle and the Shiva sutras have been helpful to me. I hope I have communicated my internalization of some teachings well. Please share any thoughts or tips on sitting.

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Experiencing Now

Posted by majutsu on June 28, 2010

Experiencing Now
I’ve been reading some Eckhart Tolle and listening to his lectures. In summary, I can say so far that it seems to be a very lucid, modern description of the state of being fully aware in the present moment. I also find this state to be the mystical core of all faiths that can generate saints, or loving beings in love with all being. Therefore, being a long-time seeker myself and being interested in the core experience that sustains and uplifts humanity, I’ve become motivated to start putting into practice some of these teachings.
While everyday life, in brief interactions with the myriad types of people in the world, provides plenty of opportunities for practice, the essence of the practice is to remain centered in the midst of these interactions. I think remembering and being focused upon something one has never experienced in the first place could be difficult, therefore it seems that I might need a remedial practice to prepare for the greater practice that is life.
In Tolle’s teachings, as well as mystical Christianity, Buddhism, and Sufism, many practical techniques are taught. Those that make sense immediately to me, that I might consider following are as follows: silence, space, inner body, and mind watching. All of these seem consistent and obtainable with daily practice on a cushion.
Silence meditation involves sitting and listening to all the sounds of the world. Then try in that to hear the silence, the vast silence from which all those sounds emanate and to which they return. Space meditation is the same sort of idea, but visually or conceptual try to feel the space in which all things are. Inner body meditation involves feeling the life within your body, within each cell. The whole being is one pulsing energy field of life. Instead of imaging this or conceptualizing it, try to feel it, tactilely. The feeling might start first as tingling or warmth, but let it engulf the whole organism. This particular meditation appeals to me because it is frequently lauded in Western mystical tradition and is said to be the vegetable body, or the place magick, the crossroads, the meeting of the spiritual realm and the material. Mind watching is the practice of watching the mind like a rabbit hole, waiting to see what pops out. Note it without judgment and wait again. It is fascinating in doing this how much of the content of the mind is based on regrets and wounds of the past, or fantasies or fears of the future! The mind seems to fight Now viciously at every step, attacking the true self most cruelly.
I hope to take up one or more of these meditation practices daily soon. Please share your practice and experiences as well. I will share my experiences as they unfold.

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Tai Chi Crosstraining

Posted by majutsu on June 10, 2010

In the spirit of conjugated periodization, a term made popular by Louie Simmons and Westside Powerlifting, I have added Tai Chi to my training.
I currently train in the Westside method for bench, squat and deadlift, equipped. I am particularly focusing on bringing up the bench and the squat right now. Westside powerlifting uses maximum effort day and a dynamic day. Maximum effort means to achieve a one-rep maximum on a particular movement. It is important, however, to get enough volume in reps to provide growth. So I usually go from 80 – 95% of my one-rep maximum in a progressive manner. Maximum effort movements for bench right now are floor presses or a shirted (open-backed poly-ply – Titan) bench. Maximum effort movements for squat are box squats, rack deadlifts or good mornings. Dynamic is to improve one’s explosiveness and speed. Methods of training this modality include using bands or chains. Bands and chains have relatively more pull at the end extension of the movement than at the bottom, encouraging the lifter to explosively blow past the beginning and middle of the movement to fight the increased resistance at the end, developing speed. I do shirted bench and box squats with bands and chains.
Also, powerlifting involves training one’s GPP (General Physical Preparedness). I do this through walking with my wife and the dogs at night, swimming, and most recently, Tai Chi.
I have always been interested in Tai Chi. I have done yoga and martial arts, but never Tai Chi somehow. Tai Chi is a part of Kung Fu that is a “Soft Style”. There are soft styles and hard styles. Hard styles involve striking and blocking. Soft styles involves yielding, re-channeling aggressive energies, taking control of them, and adding the slightest directive tap at a vulnerable moment at a precise time. Tai Chi is very flowing and circular. Practically, I feel it has benefited my lower back and knees, strengthening my squat, as well as helped me to feel the communication of energy between different parts of my body, strengthening my bench by providing a better power transfer from my legs to my chest.
Chi is an interesting concept too. Chi is basically life-energy. Freud called it libido and saw it infusing career choice, aspirations, art and philosophy, as well as sex. Ancient mystery groups thought there were seven “bodies” to a human. The three of greatest importance here are the mineral body, the animal body, and the vegetable body. The mineral body is the sphere of physical materialism. The animal body represents our everyday consciousness, the mind. The vegetable body, as represented by your solar plexus, i.e. stomach, is the point where the animal and mineral body interact. Plants, living things, are certainly not mineral like rocks or animal like a deer. They are a tie between the worlds. Tai Chi focuses on this vegetable body, the subtle shell of man that enables magic.

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Tree of life and spiritual technology

Posted by majutsu on March 11, 2009

Pan-Consciousness and the Kabbalah

There is an ancient mystery tradition. Elements of the mystery tradition have been maintained in sources such as Greek philosophy, Eastern religion (Buddhism and Shivaism particularly), and in modern mystery traditions. The ultimate goal of such traditions is to understand the interplay between body and consciousness that takes place at the level of emotion. By union with a pan-consciousness, several benefits derive, both in theory and from a practical psychological point of view: 1)Since the person has united with a pan-consciousness not tied to one ego, true empathy and morality may emerge, 2)Because the emotions are derived from the interplay and thought and body, and the top-heavy element of thought is now embraced, one may be filled predominantly with blissful emotions at one’s choosing, like picking a pair of socks, 3)it may be possible to produce scientific but surprising material effects at a distance through neural network control of chaotic physical events.

Consciousness requires concepts. Concepts like Truth and Illusion are very interesting and drive us closer to understanding their mystery. Truth, for example, is the belief that what one thinks or says matches some external reality with a degree of permanence. Illusion is the concept that one’s thoughts or words do not match reality except in a tangential sense relating to momentary desire or mis-perception, a match of reality only in briefest flux. These two, taken together, indicate the need for objectivity and non-ego-oriented perspectives as precursors of true consciousness. Furthermore, there is the fact that living, conscious humans consist of a body and consciousness. Dead humans consist of a body and no consciousness. Yet nothing material has actually left. A process has stopped, and therefore, in a sense, something not visible, not material, and yet in all likelihood, not ghostly either, has left. So do we say consciousness is a process? Fine, but there are many processes in the world, like oxidation in a candle flame, erosion, etc. Are all processes consciousness? Doubtful. Yes consciousness is a process, but since other processes do not share consciousness, there is something special about the process of consciousness.

Such viewpoints leave us considering three realms of reality. The first is an ideal realm, characterized by natural law and consciousness. Just as we can speak of natural law governing the period between expansion and contraction of the universe, where there is nothing in between that is material, and also we speak of sharing the consciousness of a dead writer on a rainy afternoon, we can speak of this ideal realm, but it is still rather mysterious, but clearly primary, and permanent within flux. The material realm of flux, gain and loss, is very obvious by contrast. A third realm, represent by the conscious man, is the interaction between these two. While we refer to consciousness in a permanent sense in the ideal realm, the interactional realm is the world of the garden-variety consciousness of the living human being, the emotional/conscious level. So the three realms may be loosely defined as the ideal, the material and the conscious. This is also identified in Hindu philosophy as the three gunas” sattva (ideal), rajas (action), and tamas (darkness). In a sense, we can look at any property and it’s opposite. There is the material level where contradictory properties are excluded from being at the same moment – a la Aristotle. At the level of universal oneness and abstraction, opposites are identical. The infinitely big and the infinitely small would be indistinguishable, both are extension without limit. Now as this whole conception sees the universe in terms of union and differentiation of opposites with a constant in-breathing or outbreathing between these poles, each of the three realms may be subjugated to the same breaths and differentiation itself. And any subsequent sub-worlds may also experience the same infusion of breath, in fractal-like recursion. However, as in programming, one recursion is enough to recursively call a function until an end-point, so it is common to show the three realms recursively divided into three sub-realms each, when compounded with the totality of human experience, equaling the 10 sephiroth (3×3 + 1).

Each of these sephiroth is associated with a number and several other images from various religions and myths. This is done to pull the body, mind and emotions into a study of the breathing and flux between these worlds. This amounts to a curious science, a sort of atheistic spiritual technology. Atheism is in the sense of seeing this as an experience of the human being as unified and inseparable with the one conscious being that is all that is, therefore, denying a separate personal god apart from his creation as most religions dogmatically profess. As J Smith states in his analytical treatise on atheistic terms, pantheism is atheism, but not positive physical materialist non-skeptical atheism, but a negative (denying something not asserting anything) non-skeptical (not agnostic or denying human ability to understand) atheism. Yet it is spiritual in the sense of using myth and ritual as a technology, like a tv set, to induce personal change. This would probably be the clearest understanding of my beliefs I can deliver at this time, atheistic-pantheistic-pagan-humanistic-spiritual-technology. This is sort of taking prayer and myth and ritual and peeling it off any dogma, treating it as a realm open to scientific explanation and rational exploration just like any other perceivable phenomena. Comparative religion is the tinniest, earliest most immature part of such a study, but one that most are familiar with through J Campbell, Sam Harris, etc.

So the first realm is the Ideal, then Conscious, then Material. All nine subrealms are therefore:

1. Ideal of Ideal -i.e. God, Shiva
2. Conscious of Ideal – will of god, creation
3. Material of Ideal – i.e. angels, mystical forces, mediation etc

4. Ideal of Conscious – perfected self, boddhisattva, christ
5. Conscious of Conscious – inspiration, creativity
6. Material of Conscious – morality, ethics

7. Ideal of Material – forms, patterns, unconscious
8. Conscious of Material- life, procreation
9. Material of Material- rationality, logic, science

10.Malkuth – the totality, real human experience, phenomenology.

Using associated images, rituals, meditation and prayer, these levels and their interplay may be understood. This replaces mere physical atoms with phenomenological atoms, packets of matter/consciousness/emotion whose assembly and disassembly make the phenomenology of a real human experience, replacing the simplistic and skewed view of material atomism obtained by looking at human life either exclusively subjectively or objectively alone.

Why is this done? Lacan and psychoanalytic theory, not surprisingly conceived by atheistic kabbalistic Jews such as Freud, provides insight into the outcome of the process:

“[The practitioners] realize that, in fact, they had little idea what they were saying, why they were saying it, or even who was speaking when they opened their mouths. The what, why, and who of their utterances has become problematic to them. Everything becomes questionable; what was most certain is no longer at all certain, and they are now open to listening to the unconscious, to hearing the other voice that speaks through them, and to attempting to decipher it. The desire for wisdom has been formed.” Bruce Fink on Lacan

This is not intended to still more pointless debates with two tiresome groups of people, believers in revealed religion and teenage-minded antisocial atheist/anarchists. This does not well represent the agnostic, merely beleaguered and wishing for respite from the fascists and theocrats. It represents a third way. I see classical humanism as a true third way and the progenitor of all culture and knowledge we have. I see the fascist and the theocrat as extremes that meld into the same mentality exclusive of subtlety. Therefore, please do not litter this note with comments if you are from either group. That which is not spoken to you should be ignorable by you if you have attained a modicum of maturity. There is a large group of people, usually oppressed and battered by the grand poles of ignorance, who is interested and involved in this spiritual technology. These are the people with whom I dine, with whom I share hope, and with whom I wish to commune.

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