Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Unity, mutuality, harmony - Sri Aurobindo

A spiritual or gnostic being would feel his harmony with the whole gnostic life around him, whatever his position in the whole. According to his place in it he would know how to lead or to rule, but also how to subordinate himself; both would be to him an equal delight: for the spirit¹s freedom, because it is eternal, self-existent and inalienable, can be felt as much in service and willing subordination and adjustment with other selves as in power and rule. An inner spiritual freedom can accept its place in the truth of an inner spiritual hierarchy as well as in the truth, not incompatible with it, of a fundamental spiritual equality. It is this self-arrangement of Truth, a natural order of the spirit, that would exist in a common life of different degrees and stages of the evolving gnostic being. Unity is the basis of the gnostic consciousness, mutuality the natural result of its direct awareness of oneness in diversity, harmony the inevitable power of the working of its force. Unity, mutuality and harmony must therefore be the inescapable law of a common or collective gnostic life. What forms it might take would depend upon the will of evolutionary manifestation of the Supernature, but this would be its general character and principle.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jacob the teacher

Jacob, almost seventy, was in the midstages of Alzheimer's disease. A clinical psychologist by profession and a meditator for more than twenty years, he was well aware that his faculties were deteriorating. On occasion his mind would go totally blank; he would have no access to words for several minutes and become completely disoriented. He often forgot what he was doing and usually needed assistance with basic tasks-cutting his food, putting on clothes, bathing, getting from place to place.

Jacob had occasionally given talks about Buddhism to local groups and had accepted an invitation to address a gathering of over a hundred meditation students. He arrived at the event feeling alert and eager to share the teachings he love. Taking his seat in front of the hall, Jacob looked out at the expectant faces before him . and suddenly he didn't know what he was supposed to say or do. He didn't know where he was or why he was there. All he knew was that his heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion.

Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: 'Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I'm falling, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.' For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience. As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud.

At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered,
and apologized.
Many of the students were in tears. As one put it, 'No one has ever taught us like this. Your presence has been the deepest teaching.' Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience. In some fundamental way he didn't create an adversary out of feelings of fear and confusion. *He didn't make anything wrong.*

~ from *Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha,* by Tara Brach, Ph.D."

Meditation - visual experiments on monks

The monks - who carried out 'one-point' meditation, where they focus attention on a single object or thought - were able to focus on one image.

Monks who had undergone the longest and most intense meditative training were able to focus their attention on just one of the images for up to 12 minutes.

Olivia Carter, of the University of Queensland, said: 'The monks showed they were able to block out external information.

'This is an initial step in understanding how their brains work.

'It would now be good to carry out further tests using imaging techniques to see exactly what the differences are in the brains of the monks.'"

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Live for Others by Sarah Belle Dougherty

From "Inducing Altered States" by Sarah Belle Dougherty
"The most powerful purifying influence is to live for others, making altruism the basis of life. Hand in hand with this goes finding one's own dharma -- both the overall reason for one's existence and the most immediate duty at any given moment. Performing one's dharma can become a continuous meditation. Our growth as human beings ultimately depends on the unspectacular accomplishment of the tasks of daily life, on controlling and improving our character, and on our relationships with others. Various states of consciousness will appear naturally in time."

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Lynds: Time's Up, Einstein

Wired 13.06: Time's Up, Einstein:

"1687: Isaac Newton

The universe has one absolute clock:
• Time and space are independant of the observer.
• Time's arrow points forward; events move ahead from the now.

1905: Albert Einstein

every observer has his or her own (accurate) clock:
• The universe exists in a space-time manifold.
• Everyone's 'now' is different.
• Acceleration affects time.

2003: Peter Lynds

There is no clock; 'time' is an illusion
• Time has no indivisible unit.
• There is no 'now,' only sequences of events."