Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This too shall pass

Well I've been back in the Western world now for about a week. One is struck by the lack of plastic rubbish and open putrid drains in the streets. Not to mention the livestock, throngs of people, incessant beeping of horns, exhaust fumes and all that. It's fairly cold here down in Australia in mid winter - not exactly arctic cold but it is getting below zero in some parts.

Another shock to the system was having to pay more for a 15minute shuttle train from Brisbane airport to the city than it cost to travel 1274km across India by sleeper train for 27hrs. The plus is the lack of bacteria and the opportunity to earn some bucks to finance the next expedition to the sub-continent. If I get my act together that is and notwithstanding being struck down by a killer dose of swine flu or becoming a refugee of the 'global financial crisis'.

So India. She's a beauty alright; apart from all of the shitty stuff of course. In my time there I managed to come into contact with over a dozen Saints, Sages, Swamis and Satsang givers, most of whom I would rate quite highly in the Consciousness stakes (in so far as I can tell). I also got mauled by a dog, had two fairly serious bouts of gastro-intestinal illness and nearly became an international fund raiser for a mother-daughter con-team.

Particularly during the month of March I went through an intensive period of introspection and blog publishing which seemed to revolve around a cycle of experience, conceptualization and doubt. It’s not in every place where one could have such an opportunity.

My conclusion based upon said introspections is that the much talked about ‘I AM’ is the simple and direct sense of existing common to us all but mostly overlooked. By persistently and consistently redirecting ones attention away from the egoic ‘I’ (thoughts/feelings/intentions/identifications) back to the underlying pure sense of conscious-being and abiding as that, then presumably/reportedly/reputedly, sooner or later, some thresh-hold is breached and finally some kind of permanent shift occurs which is generally referred to as ‘Self-Realization’.

I have yet to verify that last contention for 'my-so-called-self' and if anyone else gets there before me please let me know how it is over there, on-the-other-side, home and dry.

To refine that somewhat, and to pose an answer to a question which was certainly going around in my head, then this basic sense of existing (‘I AM’) seems to be the unadulterated reflection of the unmanifest pure transcendental consciousness in the individual being before the ego gets it grubby little hands on it and covers up our inherently free and peaceful nature with all kinds of crap and shit! Still, that seems to be the game and if the pundits like Ramesh Balsekar are to be believed then it’s all part of the set-up by the mysterious Source.

Another puzzle I encountered along the way was that at one point I was confused in this quest if I should be focusing more upon the expanded sense of awareness I associated with the head-less space or upon the grounded sense of being I associated more with embodiment. That may be a valid question as far as meditation (upon an object) is concerned but what I realize is that as far as self-inquiry (upon the subject) is concerned, then the real bone of contention is who is the one who thinks they are choosing anything?

I don’t know about this Self-Realization malarkey but it seems to involve something about being here-now in conscious-presence with acceptance of reality as it is. Well it sounds alright to me and in the absence of a better plan I guess I’ll keep plugging away at it in my own sporadic way and perhaps one day the veils will drop. Inner peace is perhaps a better term in that it doesn’t seem to carry so much baggage of expectation and projection of what such a way of being would be like.

Anyway, good luck to you all in your own journey of inner peace and thanks for keeping me company along the way. It may be that I get back to India relatively soon for a second round and it may be that some more of my dribbles will appear on this blog from time to time. If so and if you’d like to keep up with the dribbles then you can register with this free website : to be notified of any new updates as well as through the usual subscription routes.

Again, thanks for sharing the ride with me which made it all the more worthwhile - that is, if you or I really exist in the first place………………

Bon voyage fellow travelers and Aum Shanti.

From 'I Am That' - Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj :

"In spite of its primevality the sense of 'I am' is not the highest. It arises with the body (and) when Pure Awareness is attained, no need exists anymore, not even for 'I am', which is but a direction indicator towards the Absolute. What prevails (then) is that which cannot be described, that which is beyond words. It is this state which is most real, a state of pure potentiality, which is prior to everything. The 'I am' (is a) mere reflection of it. Return again and again to 'I am' until it is your only abode; until the ego as a limitation of 'I am' has disappeared. It is then that the Realisation will happen effortlessly."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Brain in a jar and the kaleidoscopic universe

It occurs to me that since our brain creates a picture of reality based upon electrical impulses from our senses then who is to say that we are not just brains in a jar in some laboratory floating in some nutritive solution and hooked up to electrodes feeding us impulses from some sophisticated computer?

I assume that I have a body but I only seem to experience it based on sensory input. Similarly, I assume that the people and places I perceive are also so real but are they anymore real then the people and places I experience in my dream? Certainly there seems to be more consistency and longevity to 'waking state reality' but does prove anything in itself?

Following on from the previous posting there is a sense of a personal me which assumes it is responsible for my life, my choices and my actions but is this anything more than some kind of perceptual illusion?

Maybe I am not a brain in a jar but maybe the brain itself is part of the illusion and the programmer is some kind of superconscious nonmaterial intelligence playing its own game.

The Sages tell us that all manifestation has its source in one Unified Consciousness which has created this drama and has individuated itself into billions of seemingly separate conscious entities. To experience itself evolving in awareness and eventually reaching the point of awakening from the hypnosis of separate individual doership to the reality of the one Unified Consciousness again.

Consciousness awakening to Consciousness, and for what? Maybe just why not? Just the play and experience of diversity and the joy of reunion once again, time after time and each time unique.

About the kaleidoscopic universe; if it's all just a play and perhaps there have been an infinity of universes coming into being (successive Big Bangs) and imploding back to the source again then perhaps 'In the Beginning', 'God' shakes up the energetic elements and parameters which govern the unfolding of each universe, rather like a kaleidoscope, and then each creation manifests its own unique beauty and symmetry according to multidimensional inter-related cycles within cycles. It may get ugly at times but presumably everything balances out in the end.

From the individual point of view? Might as well adjust to the uncertainty of life, realise that it's not personal and enjoy the ride; if one has the good fortune for that possibility.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I was supposed to be leaving tommorrow but was able to put my flight forward 3 days which will allow me the opportunity to attend Guru Purnima with Ramesh Balsekar. Guru Purnima, FTWDK, is the full moon day in July which is the traditional time for celebrating and expressing gratitude for our spiritual guides. Wayne Liqourman is also arriving from America for the occassion - he is a well reknowned Satsang giver of whom Ramesh has said is his spiritual son.

The last two days Ramesh has been too weak to give satsang so we have been watching DVD recordings which is also fine. Of course we wish him to have good health but we've all got to go at some time and when the time comes for him I am sure he will go with full acceptance and gratitude for the remarkable and blessed life he has had. For this reason, being here at Guru Purnima with him is also very special as the general expectation among his close circle is that it may very well be his last.

I haven't spoken with him directly again since the first day but the teaching he shares is perculating through. There are many external factors in life over which I have little or no control; I can only repond to them in the best way I see fit and am able to in the moment. My choices in life are governed by my genetics, up-to-date conditioning, feelings etc. so the question is, is it really possible that I can choose any differently than I do in any given situation?

Did I choose my inherent tendencies, did I choose my reasoning and feeling capacities, did I choose what formative experiences and influences I would be exposed to in life? And if I did have any influence over these was that also not guided by the same such pre-exisiting factors? How much choice do I really have? Can I choose my next thought or emotion? Can I choose what life will bring to me in the next moment or is it all just happening?

Perhaps I cannot choose what is arising in each moment but I can choose how I respond to them? If so, is that apparent choosing not also a function of the level of my awareness and development combined with my conditioning and genetic predispositions? Can I not then change my conditioning? Conditioning is changing all of the time according to new inputs and internal evolution but again, what governs which inputs I am exposed to and my inclinations towards change?

When one starts investigating and analysing in this way then it certainly causes one to question the sense of personal 'doership' (I am doing; I am choosing) which we all tenaciously hang onto as an implicit unconscious assumption.

So many Sages and Wisdom Traditions agree that the sense of personal doership is the illusion and the cause of suffering. Buddha says 'Events happen, deeds are done, but there is no individual doer thereof' - Radical indeed.

If all of that is true then who or what is it that I think and feel that I am? The Sages offer answers but ultimately guide us to make the investigation for ourselves and come to our own experiential conclusions.

What I know is that I didn't choose to have the tendencies and inclinations that I have and therefore rather than feeling pride or shame about them it makes more sense to observe the internal mechanism and in that awareness the causes of self-inflicted misery seem to tend towards dissolution.

Along with self-investigation and self-attention I have recently been resonating internally during meditation and in daily life with the resonant sound of Aum. This practice of Mantra Japa is a time tested and Sage authenticated means of helping to relax and quiet the wandering mind. When the practice becomes natural, spontaneous and effortless then one is said to be going the right way about it.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'm in rainy Mumbai now after catching a cheap flight from Chennai. The decision came to abort my Nepal visa run idea for now and to return to Australia with my original flight booking on July 6th. If I hadn't used that ticket within a couple of months it would have expired. My general plan is to recharge the bank account and the immune system and then get back here for a second tour of duty sometime in the not too distant future only with less luggage.

While here in Mumbai for a few days I will be attending Satsang with Ramesh Balsekar who is quite well known across the world in the 'Satsang/Consciousness' circles. His own teacher was Nisargadatta Maharaj whom I mentioned in a previous posting. That is an interesting pairing as Nisargadatta was an uneducated tobacconist and Ramesh was the President of the bank of India. Consciousness knows no social barriers.

Ramesh is quite old now (92 I think) and very frail with no teeth which makes him a little difficult to understand at times. Apparently his wife passed away only a week ago so it seems quite possible that he himself is not long for this world. This morning I had a dialogue with him going into how I still get caught up in self-judgement at times and later on we got down to the fundamental question of 'Who Am I?'

He is also teaching the concept that Consciousness (or God/Universal power and intelligence) is all there is and we are part of that. That individual free will is an illusion (although we should do what we feel is best in any situation) and all actions are the unfolding of God's will. Therefore all so called good and bad are the expression of a Divine Play which is already predestined.

That may be the case but I argued the point with him that for me these are beliefs and I do not know the reality of the situation. There seems to be order and intelligence operating behind the scenes but beyond that I cannot say and prefer to leave such questions in the mystery basket.
It was at that point we got down to the fundamental of 'Who Am I?' and that ultimately stillness is the way, beyond the conceptual mind, with which I have no argument.

My visit to Mother Meera was good although undramatic. The stillness and silence of her presence are palpable and infectious. Also in between arriving there and leaving I dissappeared for a few days into TV land in my hotel room which was my first major exposure to the idiot box since I arrived in India. At least I caught some of my favourite type of documentaries on the Discovery and Nat Geo channels which are about surviving in the wild and on new eco-technologies.

Well, that's it for now. Next time I post will probably be a retrospective once I'm back in Australia. Hari Aum Tat Sat

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Off the map

Hello. Been 3 weeks or something. The main reason for my silence has been that I've been moving in the Keralan countryside where email cafes, english speakers and whiteman are scarce on the ground. I left Devamruta Swami with Indian friend Ajit and visited with Ajits family for some time who were very hospitable and fed me many mangoes and other copious food stuffs, so at a guess I would say I filled up the body reserve which had become somewhat depleted after the bouts of illness.

We visited some ashrams (like the places of Nityananda and Papa Ramdas) and met some pretty cool people including Swami Sunil, Swami Gyanistananda and another Silent Swami whom I don't know his name but had the opportunity to communicate with through pen and paper. That was a good one and he advised me to come back to that place and do 48 days of silent solitary meditation at the temple of Goddess Mookambika - not sure of the story but somehow she is connected with Adi Shankara mentioned in last posts. Normally I don't go much for the temple idol scene but there was definitely some mysterious powerful energy there which drew ones mind inwards.

Now I am by myself in Bangalore transiting on my way to meet Mother Meera in Andrah Pradesh who is an Indian lady saint whom many also consider to be an embodiment of the Divine Mother. She has quite a different style from Hugging Ma and tends to be more Silent and Still. I met her in Germany 10 or 12 years ago and in a gentle and gradual way she seemed to have quite a powerful influence on me. Somehow and somewhat, my views and presumptions were opened up and broadened out in a subtle way.

Currently I am meeting many people who are living a life largely free of any external roots or securities. At once it is attractive and challenging. 'I', the apparent controller of 'my' ship, doesn't give up clinging and choosing and knowing easily.

So I now have to get some details off the net and then find my bus.
Until the nest time, Hari Aum

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cool and breezy with Kerala Swami

"This moment is the moment of entry; the feeling of Peace. All that there is to do is going into the sensation of the emotion - no verbal expression - touching the energy and let go, aware of the present moment."

These are some of the words on a brief information sheet in the meditation room at Devamrita Swami's simple home nestled amongst quiet village life in the lush Kerala country-side.

I got on the road again earlier this week after getting my test results back showing a mild reoccurance of Feb's Hep A attack. Nothing to do, nothing to worry about - in time the body clears it from the system. Rejoining my two travel companions who went on ahead we are now daily visiting a young (38) unpretentious Indian Swami whom I heard of through Jan from Aham Ashram in Tiruvannamalai.

STOP PRESS : as I am writing a big musical procession is going past receiving one Swami to town who is here to give some sort of healing camp. I saw the poster before - his Guru is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who used to be involved with TM Maharishi and then branched out on his own in the early 80's and now has a substantial world wide following of his own. His 'lead product' is the 'Sudharshan Kriya' which is a daily vigourous breathing practice to energise the system and purify toxins. I learned it some years ago in NZ and quite liked it although I did not become a dedicated practitioner.

I should mention that I am staying in the town of Kalady which is celebrated as the birth place of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, a very important figure in Indian religious history who re-established the Advaitic Vedic Sanatana Dharma (one of the main streams of Indian religion/culture) in this land around 800 a.d. after centuries of Buddhist dominance.

We are staying temporarily in a rest house 5 mins walk from the Shankaracharya temple where the meditation vibration is palpable. TM Maharishi's own Guru, Bramananda Saraswati, was a descendant in the teaching line of Shankaracharya being somwhat akin to one of four Indian 'Popes' entrusted to keep the Vedic Advaita teaching tradition and social order alive (All is One; Unity in Diversity).

Anyway, back to Swami Devamrita Satsang. He is in the middle of nowhere so getting to him involves an hour or so on local buses which is an adventure in itself and quite pleasant once in the countryside. I don't quite know the Swami's full story but I gather that he had a more or less spontaneous Liberation Cataclysm sometime in his 20's at the holy mountain of Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai. After 7 subsequent years of seclusion and adjustment people started coming to him and the Teacher function naturally arose.

As expressed in the opening paragraph the main thing is the Silence which is the transformative catalyst, especially in the Presence of an Awakened One. There is also an opportunity to ask questions to help remove any confusions and thereby facilitating the process. That's basically it. No paraphernalia. No bells and whistles. No complicated philosophies. No strings attached. The house is simple and uncluttered, like the teaching, and Swami himself is light, easy going, spontaneous and uncomplicated.

I find it quite refreshing after the Amma experience where there is a general expectation of long years/lifetimes of purification through 'selfless' service (Seva) and deification of the Guru. I am more naturally inclined to the simplicity of the Silent herenow approach.

I asked Swami about this difference in emphasis and he responded that it depends upon the needs of the individual. For some the path of Seva and Devotion is more suitable and for others a more meditative path is the best. No doubt everyone needs a bit of this and that both but it seems to be a question of emphasis and horses for courses.

Although many of her devotees feel an inner personal guidance from Amma there is no doubt that Amma is directly working more on a level of the masses to uplift and ease the suffering of a large cross section of humanity.

When people asked Ramana Maharishi why he wasn't out and about helping the world he generally replied along the lines that the world we perceive is a very subjective one and instead of trying to change the appearance of 'out there' one should focus more on cleansing our own windows of perception through an inward process of self-inquiry and then see how it looks after inner transformation has occured. He also stated that the invisible vibrations of a Liberated One do more to uplift and sustain humanity than anything else.

That is not to say that Amma is not also spontaneously emanating uplifting vibrations but just that the outward expression of her inner state is on a different level and it's all good in the grand mysterious scheme of things.

It is all open but I think I will stay here visiting Swami for some time longer. I may not go to the North but either go back to Australia in July as originally planned (Visa's, flights, budget etc.) or renew my Visa in the nearer locale of Sri Lanka and keep going through to early next year. Time will tell..............

By the way, it's pretty rainy and thundery here in Kerala, but at least that keeps the temperature down. I recently heard that temperatures have been hitting 45'C back at the Mountain so I am happy to be under the protection of cloud cover. Makes drying your clothes a bit more difficult though and good job I have a good rain poncho from a very wet Koh Samui in Thailand late last year.

Hari Aum Tat Sat

Saturday, May 9, 2009

seva and celibacy in mango heaven

well apologies for the long gap but aside from slightly difficult internet access I also had a dose of suspected typhoid fever which saw me in the intensive care ward for a day or two hooked up to an IV drip. again luckily I was in a good place as there is a small hospital on the ashram grounds here in Kerala where they looked after me.

not as rough as the Hep A experience but still pretty rough on that first day especially when my room mate pushed me in a wheel chair to the doctors and due to dehydration and lowered blood pressure I became temporarily blind and deaf, feeling very not very good. anyway, I have made a quick recovery with only a bit of retreating general weakness to show for it. the diagnosis is not firm and I am awaiting some blood test results on wednesday.

so after over three months in the spiritual home of self-inquiry in Tiruvannamalai I finally hit the road and arrived in Hugging Ma's place on the opposite coast in Kerala. It was a pleasant over night journey with my two companions Satyajit and Bhakta Valsallam. Kerala in general seems a lot more green and lush compared to Tiru as well as seeming fairly clean (at least around here). It's also a lot more humid but that is balanced off by the cooling sea breeze as I am only a couple of hundred metres from the shore and staying on the ninth floor of one of the ashrams many pink high rise buildings.

while the spiritual flavour in tiruvannamalai is centered around recognising and abiding in the ever present pure awareness herenow, the mood here is one of gradual purification through selfless service to others and devotion to the guru (Amma in this case). it's quite a different approach and the deification of the guru is readily apparent in the ascribing of all the events which happen to one here being according to the guru's omnicient grace for ones ultimate spiritual benefit.

in practice the residents generally do alot of karma yoga (work) for the ashram and attend daily programmes of devotional singing, ceremonies and chanting. of course all of that can be a meditation in itself but in practice there is much less emphasis placed on silent sitting meditation and there is a lack of a dedicated quiet meditation hall for anyone to do so.

when amma is in the ashram she is giving darshan four days a week which consists of her meeting with everyone individually for a few seconds, giving them a hug and making some soothing sounds in their ear. to date they estimate she has hugged 28 million people worldwide and sometimes goes for twenty hours. in her perception the greatest lack in this modern world is love and care for ones fellow beings so she is on a grand mission to spread the good vibes. the other stand out feature of her activities, as previously mentioned, is the huge amount of humanitarian work her organisation accomplishes even being recognised by the UN for the effectiveness and efficiency of her tsunami relief work. in addition there are schools, universities, orphanages, hospitals and on and on.

as a child and young woman she was a crazy wild mystic rolling around in the sand in divine ecsatsies, singing and dancing to God and becoming lost in deep meditative states. her family and community were initially against all of this but after some adjustments she is now recognised as a great saint by many people throughout India and the world. she is very practical and down to earth too and has no problem in bossing people around and giving them tough love when she sees that the situation demands it.

there does seem to be some magical quality in the air here and it is easy to get swept up somewhat in the feeling that Amma is somehow aware of and is looking after each individual. her devotees consider her to be an incaranation of the Divine Mother aspect of God but it is easier for me to think of her as a tremendous spiritual and practical being who embodies the qualities of universal motherhood.

I have enjoyed my time here and I like Amma very much. my hugs with her have felt good and I enjoyed a very good quality of meditation waiting in the darshan queue for two hours and sitting in the large hall. like Ramana Maharishi, she herself says that the ultimate realisation is formless and yet there is a lot of focus upon her own form by her devotees which represents a time honoured tradition in India of worshipping and serving the guru.

I myself am somewhat resistant to becoming fixated on another person in such a way and prefer to keep things more open. at the same time there is no doubt that Amma, and other beings like her, are very potent spiritual forces and can act as a conduit or catalyst for many peoples inner journey. another area of my resistance is to the huge emphasis placed on serving others as a spiritual path.

I'm sure that suits some people and I certainly have no problem with being a generally good chap but it is not my inclination to make it a full-time profession. such activities are supposed to be selfless service but so long as the ego persists there is always going to be some form of self-interest in any action. An inevitable lack of authenticity must creep in where one is doing it not because one naturally wants to help others but because one somehow feels one should or has to do it for the purpose of some spiritual gain. then again it's probably as good a way as any to see the workings of ones mind in self-generating misery so long as one has some space and time to digest and process it all. that's what I think anyway; others would say just surrender to the guru, serve the guru's mission and the guru will take care of ones spiritual growth.

that is part of this traditional Indian culture. another part which I also resist is the whole emphasis that one is either a married householder raising children or one is a celibate monk fully dedicated to the spiritual life. that doesn't suit me at all and I don't think it suits the reality of modern western life either. people here say that Amma is more lenient with her western devotees in regard to having relationships etc. but still the general ethos seems to be that celibacy is the best way to go even for couples.

Amma was an ecstatic mystic (which still comes out in her bhajan singing) but I wouldn't exactly say that there is a tone of celebration in the air here. It would be interesting to come back for a return visit sometime in the cool season when there is a much larger contingent of westerners here and see how the vibe is as at the moment it is dominated by the Indian crew.

some other highlights so far : a very inexpensive ashram juice bar where one can get all manner of delicious fruits and juices; swimming in the sea which is nice and cool compared with the hot bath on the other side; watching dolphins and sea eagles in the morning; having some strange funny little frenchman come with five suitcases to share the room with Satyajit and myself; hearing the devotional singing and chanting wafting through the ashram at all hours of the day, and very high on my list of favourites is the abundance of seasonal sweet juicy mangos available here for next to nothing so I am fast becoming a dedicated mangotarian.

sometime after wednesday I will slowly start to head north (possibly via Goa, Pune, Dharamsala, Rishikesh etc.) taking two months to make my way towards Nepal where I plan to stay for a couple of months and return to India with a new six month Visa.

until the next time........................

Friday, April 24, 2009

Inside the Golden Ball of Enlightenment

Or one could say Inside the Death Star as one has to admit that in this construction phase photograph the Matri Mandir bares a striking resemblance. What with the scam-girl drama it's taken me a bit of time to get around to reporting on my recent trip to Pondicherry and Auroville but now the dust has settled I will proceed :

So actually I was very impressed by the Matri Mandir, so much so that I extended my trip by an extra day so I could go inside once again. It's an amazing structure and going inside is like, to carry on the Star Wars theme, entering the Inner Sanctum of the Jedi Temple or like some ancient Atlantean Hall of Wisdom. I tried to get some inside photo's off the web but to no avail so I'll try my best to describe it.

The whole sphere is suspended above a white marble lotus water feature underneath which receives a ray of light which passes right through the central axis of the structure from the very top. When one goes inside, the curved walls are subtly lit in rose shades of colour with a kind of matrix structure spanning the inner surface. One is required to put on a pair of clean white socks (supplied) and is silently ushered through a doorway onto one of two upwardly spiraling suspended ramps which resemble the double helix of DNA.

Ascending as if through open space, spiraling upwards around the central column of light, one is awed into stillness by the magnificence of the place. Reaching about half way up the sphere one enters into the inner chamber. It is a large open circular space 24m in diameter and about 18m high. On the floor is a thick white luxurious carpet and twelve huge white columns reach up to the ceiling. The whole place is kept at a refreshingly cool temperature and in total silence.

A shaft of pure white light is focused in through the central apex of the curved roof and sent directly downwards into a huge, perfectly spherical clear quartz crystal ball which diffuses a portion throughout the otherwise dark chamber and sends the rest downwards to the lotus pond below. One takes ones place on one of 48 meditation mats laid out in perfect order around the hall, closes ones eyes and sits quietly.

The place has an atmosphere of deep stillness and is certainly conducive to meditation. The consort of Sri Aurobindo, 'Sweet Mother', specified and oversaw every detail of the inner structure and decor and said she would guarantee there would be a strong presence of the divine there.

Surrounding the great globe are twelve 'petals', or individual meditation chambers, each embodying one of several different noble qualities such as courage, generosity, aspiration etc. and each with it's own particular colour scheme and symbology.Clearly, the pure white, silent and zen-like inner chamber represents the simplicity and stillness of pure consciousness (white light) and the more outer aspects represent the diverse manifest aspects of that pure consciousness (all the colours and qualities of the rainbow).

As I said after jumping through all of the initial hurdles required I was impressed. Now I am able to go there freely and meditate inside for one hour between 9.30am and 10.30am with prior booking the day before. It is pretty cool. At the end of the day one doesn't really need any grand structures such as this to meditate in, Guatama the Buddha became Enlightened under a simple tree, but I have to say the Matri Mandir is impressive and I can certainly see myself revisiting and meditating there again from time to time.

Talking about trees there is also a 400 year old Banyan tree next to the Matri Mandir which is quite amazing. Banyan trees can become really huge and spread out over a large area. In order to support the bulk of the massive branches the tree sends down tendrils which take root in the earth and form new trunks. So one tree can actually create a small forest all by itself, all connected together to one original central core.

There were other aspects to my 3 day trip such as getting hit on by a gay Indian man on the town bus (offer declined), forming a bit of an infatuation with a hot French woman at the Matri Mandir bag deposit office, watching some movie footage from the 1950's of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which resembled a Hitler Youth parade (complete with a slight variation on the 'sieg heil' salute), eating a meal in the Auroville 'Solar Kitchen', which prepares over 1000 meals a day by collecting sunlight to form steam for cooking, and making a few visits to the Indian sweet shop for Kulfi (very rich Indian ice-cream) and various other edible delights.

My next adventure is looking very likely to be a cross country train journey to Kerala on Monday night to be with Amma (famous hugging saint) for 10 days in her Ashram. Looks like I am going together with my Indian chess/meditator friend Batel Valsaram and a Swiss dude, Andreas/Satyajit, who has been living in India for a number of years. After that I am open. I have a few leads on various yogis, swamis, ashrams and gurus around Kerala I can follow up and then, I can come back here or I can proceed gradually north towards the Himalayas....................

It's a hard life with so many decisions to make but somehow, day by day, I am managing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Well that last one seemed to stir up a bit of energy. I gave the girl back her forged document yesterday morning. Taking Murugans advice I let things be rather than confronting them with their lies. Predictably the girl was still sticking 'sincerely' to her story that it was all a misunderstanding and blah blah blah. I just said yes, yes. She asked when I am coming for my next Tamil lesson, I told her I will let her know when I am coming next (which is never). She asked if I am angry with her. I said goodbye, got on my bike and rode off without looking back.

There was temptation to confront them but what good would it do really? It would only have been venting on them. They seem to be without conscience or remorse and don't seem to know the difference between truth and lies. Any energy given to them is only more fuel for their games of deception. I let it go and don't expect there to be anymore to this particular story.

Jan, from A. Ramana's Aham Ashram India, told me one other story of a bedraggled woman beggar she would always see with a small dirty baby, always with a runny nose. Naturally it evokes ones concern and compassion but the funny thing was she saw the same woman every year, year after year, with a different baby but with the same runny nose. She must have been renting the babies or doing some kind of profit sharing deal with the real mothers!

It's kind of funny really as well as being sad. These people are not nearly as miserable and pathetic as they always seem. It's all just part of the professional begging act which they prefer rather than working for a living. True, many of the lower level jobs don't pay much but ................................ it must be a complex story as to how this kind of pervasive degeneration takes place and of course, it's not only India. It's all over the world in different varieties.

Well, I'm glad that it's not up to me to try and solve all of the worlds problems. The other side of the coin is that India is a very cheap place for people like me to come and live for extended periods of time so I guess it's all part of the polarity of life. Who ever said this world was supposed to be a heaven? Things are like this now.........

Monday, April 20, 2009

the evil lieing little bitch and the prostitute hag sorceress

I had wanted to give the girl the benefit of the doubt that she was just young, naive and misguided by her mother but it now seems that the whole family is corrupt to the core.

There is one man here who runs a local internet cafe/travel centre and he gave me a couple of heads up about this situation while I was still in the investigation stage. He himself has a good business and helps to sponsor some local kids. Today we went together to the girls home.

The girl is continually asking me for the statement back and I was slightly concerned that there may be some kind of local gang involved who might come looking for me if I didn't. I had initially been intending to keep it as protection against any extortion attempts.

The internet guy, Murugan, assured me that there is no local mafia or anything like that and there is nothing to worry about. We went there together, at a time arranged with the girl, and I was glad to see there were no hench men just the family and a couple of cows.

To cut a long story short Murugan won their confidence and got them talking. There is absolutely no genuine remorse, just more bullshit stories trying to cover their tracks and acting all innocent. They even tried to explain it all as a misunderstanding and asked if I can still give them money.

Talking in their local language, as Murugan informed me later, their contempt for what they perceive as rich stupid foreigners is thinly veiled and in their annoyance that I wasn't handing over the statement like they wanted, and in their pride and arrogance that I might think they are mere beggars, the old woman (who I had assumed was grannie but they called auntie) let slip that they actually own the land they are living on, and therefore are not the impoverished serfs they made themselves out to be.

Just continuous lies, deceit, attempted manipulations, feigned helplessness and story telling. Murugan also reckoned that they owned the plush a/c taxi that had been sitting there for a couple of weeks and that the mother (who he thought might actually be the girls older sister) is a small scale prostitute to a handful of local men. I'm not quite sure how he figured that last one out but he certainly seems to be pretty clued into how things work around here.

The latest thing is the girl sent me a text saying how very sorry she is, that I am her best friend and she needs my friendship. Friends like that I can do without. It's difficult to fathom how they can live like this and somehow think it is normal and okay. I have no doubt that they have been laughing at me and pouring their derision upon me all along and I've half a mind to turn the girl in to the college complete with the forged document.

However I probably won't because I can't think what kind of a monster it would help to create if she were thrown out of college and prosecuted. At least if she finishes her education she has a chance of getting a reasonable job and of going straight. On the other hand, India is full of corrupt people in all kinds of high places. Corruption seems endemic to India in this day and age and so these people are far from being unique even in this small place. The other reason for not doing it is that this is a place I am likely to return to many times and so I don't want to bring down a vendetta upon myself.

So what to say? What an eye opener. This place is full of human cockroaches, vermin and mosquitos. I am shocked and stunned. At the same time there are many dignified and good people here. It would be handy to be able to see aura's or something sometimes so one could more easily tell the difference. The 'mother' I found a bit manipulative from early on but the girl had me fooled good and proper.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

about the girl

So after a drawn out process of investigation I finally penetrated the story about the girl who requested help with her college fees. It turns out that she and her mother had been telling me a series of emotionally compelling lies to try and get money out of me.

Some of what she told me was true, that she is a student at the college doing the course she said, but her fee's for this year were already paid whereas she told me she had to pay the balance of $220US by early May or she wouldn't be able to commence the final year in June.

She and her mother are fine actors and obviously well practiced in the art of fleecing Westerners. However this particular Westerner wasn't about to accept anything less than water-tight evidence to verify their story.

After a series of lies and subterfuge which culminated in them producing a forged financial balance statement from the college, complete with the principals forged signature, I finally got to the bottom of it when I went and met with the vice-principal and got him to check the girls balance owing which turned out to be zero.

This was despite their best efforts to keep me away from the college with a series of stories such as foreigners are not allowed to visit college unless they are giving a donation and that the college will substantially increase her fees if they find out she is receiving financial help from abroad.

I went anyway, at first without telling the girls name, and then telling the girls name later when they left me with no other option. However I did it in such a way so as not to arouse suspicion with the school and without telling them about the forged statement which could land them in some serious shit I imagine.

The girl has admitted her lies to me and is now deperate to get the statement back which I have in my possession. I was intending to keep it as some form of protection incase they try some worse form of extortion but on the other hand one doesn't know how deep these things go and who is really behind it all.

Therefore rather than holding some incriminating evidence against them it may be better to give it back rather than risk some deperate action on their part to retrieve it. They do not know exactly where I live but this is a small town and they could probably find me if they really wanted to.

So exciting stuff and a first hand insight into the type of corruption which seems to penetrate Indian society at all levels. I can only hope that the girl does not continue along this path of lies but if she does she is only one of millions more. As Adam said in his comment on my original blog posting relating to this situation, India has some of the best of humanity and some of the worst.

It is impossible for me to know the girl and her families real situation. Whether they are working alone to try and scam income for their family or whether they are hooked into something altogether more sinister............................all I know is I'm staying well clear and hope that the 600 or so rupees I already gave them is all this will cost me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

in brief

Just a short update. I just arrived in Pondicherry again for a couple of days. Now that I have some bearings it is a lot easier to come here. I knew a good cheap quiet clean guest house to go to. I got the local bus for 3 rupees instead of walking or paying 40/50 rupees for an auto-rickshaw (both at the Tiru end and this end). Later when I'm hungry I know a good place to go and eat. Also I just found an extremely cheap a/c internet cafe (10rps/hr) and all I need now is to find a good cheap bicycle hire shop - last time they wanted to stuff me for twice the price I pay in Tiruvannamalai.

Being a Scotsman, and probably past lives as a meditating monk, then frugality comes naturally to me which is also necessary since there is a good chance I will stay in India until next March so I've got to make that money stretch. I'm meeting a friend I know from Tiru maybe tommorrow and I have an appointment to meditate in the cosmic golden golf ball on wednesday morning.

Back in Tiru life is going on nicely. I've been playing chess regularly with Batelvalsaram and I'm generally kicking butt although he did beat me for the first time in 18 games the other night. He's not a push over so I have to concentrate and he seems determined to keep at it. I've also been going to see Aum Amma regularly and like her very much. She adds a whole dimension of sweetness and joy to what can sometimes be a dry path. Meditation is proceeding well and insights continue to accrue (I'll save that for another posting).

My investigations into the case of the student who asked for help are coming to a conclusion with my meeting the college vice-principal on Thursday. Some generous offers of help have already come in from family and friends to the extent that about $80US of the $220US required for college fees has already been pledged. There are some additional expenses of about twenty something dollars for exam fees and bits n bobs which I am covering myself.

I will report on the outcome of my meeting soon. Menaka (the student) is a very bright young woman (14) from a very modest economic background. She has been promoted ahead 2 years in school and so has a head start on her college education which is a Diploma in Electronic and Communications Engineering. She has been giving me a few Tamil lessons and so I'm getting to know her family a little as well as the regional language.

So that's it for now. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Crazy Divine

Hi there, well my blog writing has certainly stepped down a few gears after a very prolific March. I must admit I was probably spending too much time in the email cafe but all of that stuff was wanting to be expressed so that was that.

I'm pretty well although I did have two or three days there of boredom, frustration and confusion which seems to have passed now. Can happen where ever one is. That said it has become very quiet here and becomes increasingly hot. It is quite likely that I will hit the road in the next two or three weeks and head over to Kerala.

There is one famous Saint there commonly known as 'hugging Ma' or 'Amma'. She travels the world every year holding events where thousands of people come to receive her blessings which come in the form of a peronal hug as well as a very devotional and highly charged atmosphere.

I met her myself last time in London October 1999 while I was in the Royal Navy. At that time I was going through a lot of suffering due to inner turmoil over what to do with my life. During the weekend with Amma I tuned into and softened into the inner depths, helped greatly by her presence, and also received a big boost in energy from her. I was in a very peaceful state for about a week afterwards.

The turmoil returned but perhaps not so intense as before and some months later another breakthrough came with meditation where the confusion evaporated and I had a clear knowing that I should leave the Navy and come to India. As it happened I did leave the Navy but instead of going to India life had another plan and I ended up meeting Maitreya and emigrating to New Zealand instead.

That was a rich time and here I am 9 years later, imbibing the stillness of Arunachala and finally going to see Amma again. I have met several of her devotees here both Western and Indian and at one point there was a gang of five of us (all staying at the same Ashram) and we were going for swimming, walking around the mountain and afternoon refreshments together. I called us the Sat-gang but neglected to get a picture.

They have mostly gone now but there is one Indian man, Batel Valsaram, with whom I have become good meditation buddies. This morning we went around the mountain with one other dude, went swimming in one of the big man-made holy watering holes called 'Tanks' (far from people so I am confident it is clean) and then had a game of chess after lunch. That was the first time I had played since with my Grandad in Scotland over Christmas. It was quite a good match and gives the brain a good exercise. I won as it happened but we'll see how future games go.

Other things happening are the situation with the young college girl I mentioned in a recent post. I have been over there for a couple of Tamil lessons and think that that could be a viable business for her with the westerners. In addition two generous offers of help have come in so far in reponse to my blog request along the lines I suggested. I am just checking into some final details in the next days and then I'll give my report.

I have also been a couple of times to see one 'Aum Amma' a few km's from where I am now. 'Amma' means mother in India and is often a name given to lady Saints here. Aum Amma is very sweet. She appears to be in some kind of ecstatic devotional trance most of the time and during 'Darshan' (seeing/meeting with a Saint) there is devotional Indian singing while she is all decked out in flower garlands and covering herself and those nearby in buckets full of flower petals.

The first time I went, after the initial session, she met with each person individually in a private room and gives them a big hit of cosmic loving. Like hugging Ma in Kerala (who is much much more well known), Aum Amma is considered by her devotees to be an incarnation or embodiment of the Divine Mother. That is the cosmic principle or Divine expression of Love. I can't comment on that but I do know that there is a very special energy around some of these beings and I have met many people who have been helped to lasting inner transformation by it (Satsang Werner being one of them).

On the social welfare front Hugging Ma in particular has instigated or inspired huge amounts of service work in providing disaster relief, schools, education, work skills, medical treatment etc. etc. for many under privileged people in India. In general it is probably better to give money to well run aid organisations like this rather than to individual cases although there is always an exception.

I'm not sure that Aum Amma is compos mentis enough to put anything like that together or whether she could even hold a reasonable conversation. Apparently Hugging Ma was a bit like that too in her early days but eventually adjusted to normal functioning, or should I say super-normal functioning which might be more accurate.

So no cosmic fireworks so far but Aum Amma puts a smile on my face and warms up my heart. Check her out for yourself :

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

keeping it simple

without trying there is a natural sense of existing
a natural sense of being
eyes open and eyes closed
abide as that
rest as that
remain alert as that
all is well
all is good

thoughts feelings and images come and go
this awareness-being does not come and go
only sometimes we are distracted from it

redirect attention back to the natural sense of being
ask 'Who?'
who is having these thoughts?
who is this I?
relax and rest quietly as that which already is

if that is not clear then feel the body and the breath
drop inside
awareness-being is right there
and its nature is peace
Aum Shanti

Thursday, April 2, 2009

meeting the locals and an opportunitiy to help

So last Sunday I was taking a bicycle ride around the quiet side of the mountain and came across a bit of a situation. Even in this small area there must be thousands of genuine situations of need as well as many scam artists out to milk gullible westerners for all they are worth.

So I rode past a small dwelling in a field off of a side road. A young girl called out to me if I want to buy any papaya or any coconut? I didn't then but on the way back I did so I popped in and the mother and daughter took me into the field to get some ripe fruits.

They were pretty friendly and the daughter spoke quite good English and she offered to give me Tamil lessons which is the native language in this state of India. Before long she started telling me a story of hardship and how she needs financial help with her college fees. In particular she had an exam tomorrow and needed to come up with 100 rupees ($2US) deposit on the exam fee or she wouldn't be able to sit it.

I said okay, I'll tell you what, I won't give you the money but I'll pay you 100 rupees in advance now for some conversational Tamil lessons. That worked out okay and I bought some fruit from them also. They tried to petition me for some more money, saying that she had had a foreign sponsor but that they had disappeared on her, but I left it at that and arranged to come back the next day for a Tamil lesson.

Next day after some lessons I got more of the story. There are four of them (grandma, mother, one teenage boy and the girl) living in one small dwelling the size of most peoples lounge room (not unusual in India). The father was an abusive drunk and has ran off leaving them to pay off the debt of money he borrowed from the land owner. So according to what they told me they are living as some kind of indentured servants to the land owner for very little money.

So, to cut a long story short, they are obviously looking to recruit some new comparatively wealthy foreign sponsorship to help the girl complete her studies which will then allow her to get a better paid job and to help her family. She is a nice girl and apparently a gifted pupil coming top of her class of 72 students in some exam.

On the one hand I was wary of being scammed by a plausible hard luck story and on the other hand if her case was genuine the amount of money she was talking about was not huge but could make a huge difference in this young lady and her families life.

After considering the matter I suggested that maybe I could help her to promote her own business giving Tamil lessons to foreigners which would help her to earn her own money and also to come in contact with more potential donors.

She also needs to pay off the remaining balance of 11,000 rupees (about $220US) for this current years study before June or she will not be allowed to commence her 3rd and final year of her Diploma in Electronics & Communication Engineering which can be funded more gradually by installments.

It does not seem feasible that they could raise that much money in two months without outside help. Wages are very very low here and it is the quiet time of year. Also they apparently have no assets or property to borrow against. I considered that $220US was quite a chunk for any one person to give her but that maybe if a bunch of people put in together then it would hardly be noticeable and yet would have a very big impact for her.

I told her that subject to certain conditions then myself and some friends overseas might be willing to help her. My conditions were that :

1) she provides some official documentation from the college to verify the balance owing
2) she arrange that I can meet with one of her teachers who can verify her academic and other details
3) if money is raised then I would not give it to her or her mother but would need to personally see it being paid directly to the college

I figured that if she is willing and able to meet these conditions then it would go along way to proving that her case is genuine and will ensure that the money went to the right place. She indicated this morning via mobile that she will organise it. Also I am going to meet with one retired scientist man who is an ex-neighbour and friend of the family who can perhaps help to substantiate the story and I have emailed the college to verify some of the general financial details.

I didn't want to be unnecessarily strict but there are too many stories of dishonest people making a profession out of scamming money from Westerners with all kinds of plausible yarns.

If all the details of her story check out as being genuine then I cannot really think of any good reason not to help her out. Generally I don't want to become involved in this type of thing as there is a seemingly unending ocean of disadvantaged people needing help in this world (especially in places like India) but I happened to become involved in this particular case and it seems that a little help would make a big difference in at least this one young persons life.

So while everything is being verified I would like to ask you all to consider if you might like to contribute something. I will certainly put in 10% of the $220US needed in the short term and perhaps if a few others feel to chip in as well then the target will easily be met without anyone of the givers really noticing such a modest amount. A little goes a long way in India and many small contributions help to fill the pot so even a couple of dollars or pounds will help.

I'll get back with further details as things unfold but if things work out then I envisage collecting contributions through any one of my NZ, AUS or UK bank accounts and I might be able to recruit a friend to do a similar thing in the US (and other countries as needed?).

Of course you would have to trust that I myself am not pulling an elaborate scam just so I can perpetuate the high life for myself!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

time on my hands

Hey I thought of a good acronym :
Sustainable Ecological Creative Spiritual Communities (SECSC) get it?!
say it like it sounds.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pondicherry and Auroville

Well I just got back last night from a couple of days excursion to Pondicherry and Auroville. Pondicherry is about a 3.5hr bus ride east to the coast and is an ex-french colonial town famous as the home of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Sri Aurobindo was a contempory with Sri Ramana Maharishi and died in the same year of 1950. Aurobindo was an early key leader in the Indian Independence movement but later withdrew from politics to focus his energy on his spiritual work.

His main point seems to be that enlightenment doesn't stop with the individual becoming transcendentally liberated from suffering. For him he felt that what was needed was to bring the light of enlightenment into this world and transform it into an enlightened world.

I'm not all that familiar with the specifics but the basic idea seems pretty good. His spiritual partner, a french mystic known as the Mother, lived on until 1973 and in the late 60's she spawned the bold experiment that was to become known as Auroville.

Auroville is an experiment in community living which aims to integrate all the aspects of life into one holistic package covering the spiritual to the material and everything in between. It is a non-sectarian project with the backing of the Govt. of India and UNESCO covering quite a large area of land anout 12km north of Pondicherry.

Eventually it is envisaged to be a fully functioning city for up to 50,000 people however at the moment it seems to be more of a loose-knit and spread out collection of around 80 small communities with 1500-2000 people from all over the world. Each of the small communities has it's own particular focus such as organic farming, renewable energy technology, education, creative arts, healing etc, etc.

At the centre of the place, both physically and spiritually, is the Matrimandir, which is a huge spherical meditation chamber. I didn't actually get to go inside this time as they make you jump through quite a few hoops which I suppose protects it from being treated like a tourist attraction and helps to maintain the purity of the energy. I was able to go to the visitor centre and to view the structure from a distance. It's very impressive and big and puts one in mind of a huge golden golf ball from outer space that has landed in the middle of a horse racing track.

I hear it is good energy in there so I may or may not make it back for a repeat visit. Afterall it is all within oneself and I'm already living in one of the worlds great power spots of Consciousness. All in all, Auroville is quite an impressive place although, by their own aspirations, is still only in its infancy. They are doing some very innovative stuff and, while not being unique in their aspiration to combine spirituality and sustainable eco-community creative living, certainly seem to be one of the worlds largest and longest running modern day experiments along such lines.

They are not really set up for casual drop in visitors and so inorder to get a greater feel for it all one would probably have to live and participate in community life for at least some weeks. I'm not sure whether I want to do that at the moment or whether my little taste is enough for now.

Pondicherry itself is quite nice, at least the eastern coastal french part of town, with wide fairly clean and fairly peaceful streets. On the cycle back from Auroville I also stopped off at the beach and had a bit of a swim in the Indian Ocean which was very warm but still refreshing after riding in the hot sun all day.

The bus ride back was fun. After waiting at the bus station for an hour I just managed to get on the right bus before it left. Already it was over full but the driver let me sit up beside him on the box above the engine. It wasn't that comfortable but better than standing like a couped up chicken for 3hrs like many of the rest of them.

Another interesting Indian transport example I saw was a whole family of mum, dad, three small kids and a baby all on one standard Indian bicycle! I would have taken a photo only I was myself cycling and trying to avoid being squished by the many huge trucks and buses passing by, each trying to out do the other in the loudness and duration of their horn blasting.

Have a nice day :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

green eggs and ham - a glossary

Self (I Am)
- pure undifferentiated consciousness prior to individuality
self (I am) - the individual identity which when identified with thoughts becomes the false-ego

N.B. the higher and lower meaning of the same word is often differentiated by capitalisation

the feeling-sense of 'I' - the feeling of 'me' or 'I' at the core of the ego; the scent-trail of which leads one back to the source of the True 'I Am' as the Self
the True 'I' or 'I Am' - the Higher Self beyond thoughts or feelings

Self-Inquiry - the approach of focusing attention on the feeling-sense of 'I' such that thoughts drop off and the True 'I' or 'I Am' is revealed

Pure Awareness, Pure Consciousness, Pure Being - synonyms for the Self

Sat-Chit-Ananda - the three essential, inherent and inseparable qualities of the Self, namely, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss or Stability-Clarity-Peace

Embodied Beingness - a term I was using to refer to feeling very present, very still and very centered in the body which I was associating with the pure individual sense of 'I am'

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I am as I am

I am as I am
and it's okay to be me
because I Am became I am
just so I could see

This life is for living, loving and learning
so I set myself free
because I am that I Am
and that I Am is me

my story and all about me

You know in case it escaped anyones notice this 'I' has aspirations to become some kind of a meditation teacher. I was reflecting on this this morning and how it seems to be one of my central ego-identifications.

I can trace this all the way back to when I was 16 and getting very into Transcendental Meditation (TM). After feeling intensely lost and separate I suddenly found something which made perfect sense to me and provided a pathway to travel and friends along the way. It was clear to me that I wanted to become enlightened and, when the time was right, to also teach meditation.

Of course I didn't, and still don't, really know what enlightenment is but at least I had a feeling that this was the right direction to take and a rational concept of what growth in consciousness meant. A concept which went something along the lines of releasing all of the internal crap that was making me miserable and keeping me separate, and similtaneously getting tuned up with the cosmic intelligence and all of the wisdom, power and peace that that entailed. When I say power, I mean using ones full potential rather than just getting by on the measley 10% or so they say we are using of our brains capacity.

So that whole TM journey is a story in itself which I won't go into now. Getting back to my aspirations as a teacher. Now these rantings on this blog are a reflection of my own journey of trying to gain and express some clarity on these matters; and it may be that some persons might find something of use, something of interest, something which resonates for themselves amongst it all or not as the case may be. But I was looking into it this morning from the perspective of what is in it for 'me'? What juice is my ego getting out of holding onto and pursuing this self-concept?

I took a pen and paper and started drawing it out. The first thing that came up is that it can give me a sense of self-worth, a sense of contributing something helpful to others. Seems harmless enough but the lack of cleanness and the ego comes in from basing my sense of self-worth upon something I do rather than naturally just feeling enough within myself regardless of what I do or don't do. In other words, ones sense of oneself to be based upon simply Being rather than having some kind of gun against my head based upon 'my doing' and 'my achieveing'.

Not only that but in perhaps seeming to help someone else in their own journey, or expressing something well and getting good feedback, that is feeding my own ego and helping me to feel good about myself. Then comes pride and pride comes before a fall. So I identified that beneath this seemingly innocent desire to help others is the not so innocent desire to help myself. On the one hand to prop up a lack of self-worth and on the other hand giving me a feeling of false pride, both of which stem from self-judgement, and fear of judement from others, that I am not already intrinsically enough as I am.

Of course the egoic 'I am' is never enough (I'm diverging into spiritual metaphysics here which necessarly entails borrowed knowledge and speculation upon my part); the inherent nature of the ego is that it is always full of cravings and aversions. Seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and all the time creating misery. That's the point; the ego-self will never bring us lasting fulfilment; it is not capable of this and isn't meant to, despite it's best efforts.

Lasting fulfillment comes from within, not from any situation or circumstance in this world no-matter how carefully arranged. Now once we get onto this inner-fulfillment aspect then our situations and circumstances in this world may change to reflect this inner-fulfillment back to us, but as long as we mistake the world as being the source of happiness then we will always be on the merri-go-round of chasing our own tails.

I read a good analogy the other day in a book by Sadhu Om; he says, 'as long as we seek to chase our own shadow it will always be running away from us and slipping through our fingers. When we start to gain wisdom and seek to move towards the sun instead then our shadow will always follow us with no effort on our part.'

So, the egoic 'I am' does a good job of creating suffering for us until such times as we begin to move back towards our own source which is the True 'I Am' of the Self. Then the mind becomes our servant rather than our master and although we still have a personality we are no longer bound by it, and in all likelihood it will have gradually become a wiser, more balanced, version of our former selves.

The other main thread which came up in this investigation was that being a teacher might provide me with a livelihood in this world. Now aside from any issues over whether or not 'spiritual teachings' should ever be charged for I was looking into what ugly stuff lurks beneath the surface of this again, apparently innocent desire.

In a stream of deepening consciousness it came as :

financial security giving a general sense of security
based on a sense of insecurity, lack of trust and greed

insecurity and lack of faith come from a fear of letting go of 'me'
this 'me' gives me a sense of 'self', familiarity, security and hope (that one day I will get it right)

so I am afraid of 'no-self', of losing 'my-self'
what does this 'self' give me?

the 'self' gives me a story and the possibility of a heroic overcoming of fears and short comings
no story equals no glory

what is this 'glory'?
jubilation, adulation, celebration
a temporary good-feeling, a high

but then it becomes the 'same old story' and no more 'glory'
so I always need a new story and eventually I'll have a 'multi-story'

'multi-stories' need a lot of maintainence and upkeep
a lot of time and energy to maintain the 'multi-story'

wouldn't I be more happy with a simple dwelling?
a simple life could be a good life
that's another story

who's making up all of these stories?
'I am'
from whence does this 'I am' arise?

from the Stillness of 'I Am'
I Am that I Am
I Am Awareness, Being and Bliss

I Am clarity, stability and peace
I Am whole as I Am
I Am

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Am therefore I Aum

Um, amness? What's with the 'ness', Elliot Ness, Chicago? How the mind streams.

Loch Ness? Ok, so no 'ness' required, but "I" and "I AM"? U can't object to that surely?

Jesus says "before Abraham was, I AM" John 8:58

and "I and the Father are One" John 10:30

God said unto Moses, "I AM That I AM" Exodus 3:14

In Kashmiri Tantra the ever-blissful transcendental identity is called Aham - "I"

Um, Am, Aum. Now there's a word.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God" John 1:1

So I Am therefore I Aum? Perfectly good

Friday, March 20, 2009

a dialogue on awareness

The following is a dialogue which seemed to help the questioner in gaining some clarity about awareness. Clear understanding helps and then one has to apply it in practice.............same for me, same for you, same for everyone.

Questioner : I really must be missing something here, so I will go back to basics. I read somewhere the process of waking in the morning goes like this; ‘I – am – awake – in the world.’ So ‘I’ is already in existence. I think that is what you have been saying.

Answer : first is awareness, denoted as I AM, then arises the 'I' thought and so the wheel starts turning

Questioner : So the ‘I’ is the ‘am-ness’ , the awake-ness and that which is in the world?

Answer : I have noticed that there is an embodied feeling of 'am-ness' which seems to be more of an energy or a feeling rather than a thought. however this still pertains to the body-mind and can be witnessed therefore it is not the True I AM which is the witnessing consciousness itself.

I was taking this feeling of 'embodied beingness' to be the feeling-sense of 'I' however I no longer think this to be the case as I ask myself, 'who is experiencing this 'embodied beingness'? 'I am'. It is this prior sense of 'I' which is the feeling-sense of 'I'. it denotes the subject; the perceiver. the feeling of 'embodied beingness' is an object of perception. the 'I' is the subject; the experiencer. by following this feeling-sense of 'I' we arrive at the simple naked awareness from which this 'I' arises

It can be quite confusing what is meant by all these terms like 'I', 'amness', etc as they have two levels of meaning - the meaning as denotations of pure awareness and the meaning as reflections of that in the body-mind; Self and self. I notice that teachers are not always very clear in their use of these terms either which can lead to confusion.

you could say that the world is in the awake-ness as without the awake-ness we would not percieve any world and it is found that our perception of the apparently solid world changes as our lense of perception becomes clearer.

Questioner : So the question is, how will the ‘I’ be known when found and by who? Or is it that the ‘I’ cannot know itself, as you said before, like the eye cannot see itself?

Answer : Awareness simply Is. without it there would not be awareness of this and that. ' you' know awareness by being awareness. there is no separate ' you' to know awareness. awareness simply is and it is possible to abide as that and then all these ideas of 'I' and ' you' are seen to be simply thoughts coming and going within awareness.

you define yourself as your thought identity. this only has a borrowed sense of reality from the true I AM which is the prior awareness. you are not the patterns of thought. you are that in which these thoughts arise. it is a case of mistaken identity

Questioner : Then it comes down to a matter of faith.......I don’t like faith. I much prefer logic or evidence.

Answer : the only evidence that will satisfy your thirst is the actual experiential realisation of how simple this thing is. forget about enlightenment and self-realisation. it is so simple. here is the logic : without awareness there would not be awareness of thoughts. thoughts come and go; you, as the awareness do not come and go.

you are simply caught in the habit of identifying with thoughts. give attention to the prior awareness itself and the clarity and simplicity of this will dawn upon you with consistent and persistant intention in the right direction. the effort is not to realise awareness. awareness already is. the effort is to break the habit of thought identification and then the awareness of awareness will dawn upon you.

fix your attention on the feeling-sense of 'I' (that 'thing' which feels like me); keep attention fixed on that (with the help of 'who am I?' and/or 'I,...I,...I,'); keep refocusing on that when you are drawn out by thoughts. gradually the thoughts will lose their strength and the ability to keep attention focused on the feeling-sense of 'I' will gain in strength. you have to develop your attention muscle then once you have some stability in that you will be able to relax into the ever-present simple awareness from whence this feeling-sense of 'I' arises.

simple but not easy because we have the habit of a lifetime to change which has us basing our sense of self on objects (even thoughts are objects of awareness); we have to develop our attention muscle to be centered as the subject which is aware of all this.

it may be that there is a corresponding change or opening in the physical apparatus (brain, nervous system, endocrine, etc.) which supports this but that will happen gradually by itself.

don't split philosophical hairs of what if or what may be. eat the cake and find out for yourself. If this path of self-inquiry doesn't suit you and you feel more drawn to some other form of meditation then nothing wrong; that will help you and keep you moving in the right direction. some of the other things which have been suggested are perfectly good.*

* Please refer to the March postings 'on mantra and meditation' and 'a meditation upon 'I' (now stripped back to basic essentials)

Questioner (some time later) : Good answer. I can see now that there is only awareness. Everything else arises from this. That which is described as ‘I’ is in fact awareness.

Answer : That which is described as 'I' is Awareness. The 'I'-thought arises within this. So, great, now do it and Be It. Rome wasn't built in a day. The paper sets alight when you focus the suns rays with a lense and hold it steadily on one point. In this case the point is the feeling-sense of 'I' and the fire is one of Awareness. As for me, it's one thing to talk the talk, and walking the walk? a work in progress.

N.B. Ramana Maharishi has advised that at some point the current of Self-Awareness/Self-Inquiry becomes established in us all of the time, at first requiring conscious attention and later becoming effortless (like learning to ride a bike). It is very helpful to establishing Self-Awareness that one set aside regular dedicated periods where one gives this ones full, undivided attention. Twice a day for 20/40 minutes is good, starting off slowly and building up steadily. Having said that once a day is also good and whenever you can manage is certainly beneficial.

Remember, don't worry and don't hurry; what we are looking for is already here; we only have to become still enough to appreciate it. Apply the wisdom of the tortoise.


Ramana, Nisargadatta and Mooji collage of quotes

Psiplex, a friend of this blog has put together a very nice 3/4 minute collage of quotes from 3 Sages on Youtube to ambient music.

You can find it at

Have a nice day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jesus Christ, Super Star

Only a couple or three small things for you today. one is a good quote from the back cover of a book I was looking at. It was about this western guy who had spent 25 years in an intense spiritual quest. he finally meets this yogi who he says it was clear had achieved some deep insight into life. he beseeched the yogi "I have searched so long and so hard, please tell me the secrets of inner power", the yogi looked at him and asked "why do you want power? what are you afraid of?", then got up and walked away. this was the start of the westerners real spiritual journey......

The next thing is a short excerpt from another book. it says "In Kashmiri Tantra, this ever blissful transcendental identity is called aham ("I") versus the finite ego ahamkara ("I-maker"), which is driven by the desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain and yet continuously sows the seeds of suffering."

And here is a paraphrased quotation from an Adyashanti video satsang I caught ten minutes of the other night, he says :

The very nature of the mind is to seek order
in the recognition and acceptance of this comes freedom
for then there is no longer this troublesome mind we have to fix
there is just an allowing oneself 'not to know'
and in this not knowing the 'me' is seen as just another thought
and all there is then is consciousness perceiving this moment

You know, as I was saying to a friend, aside from the possibility of my ego getting inflated it's very nice to receive any feedback and comments about the writings in this blog. apart from the people who are publicly listed as followers of the blog, the people who sometimes leave comments/emails and a handful of others I am aware of, then I have absolutely no idea who else, if anyone, is tuning in. so please feel free to make yourself known if you feel like it.

Ok, so there is one other thing that's been simmering for a day or two that I will share. that is my thoughts and feelings about Jesus. now I've meet a few relaxed Christians over the years and it was pretty obvious that their lives had been greatly impacted and transformed through some kind of acceptance of Jesus into their hearts. and there have been a good deal more Christians who seem more dogmatic in their approach and seem to be more in a persuading mode.

Now for me it is easy to accept that Jesus was a pure being of love and truth and whatever or whoever 'God' is, Jesus was in intimate communion with that. As such, I can very well accept the possibility that, for some people, by somehow feeling surrendered and connected with Jesus then Jesus can become for them like a gateway and a symbol for the mystery we call 'God'.

Where many people have a problem is with the whole exclusivity thing, that Christianity is right and everything else is wrong or somehow the work of the devil. Christians often quote Jesus as saying "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except by Me" as justification for this exclusivity clause.

So let's look at that statement, firstly, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life". Ok so when Jesus says 'I am' is he referring to himself personally or is he referring to the universal 'I AM' of which he was an embodiment and which is the essential nature of us all?

I tend to go with the later interpretation in that Jesus was pointing us towards the Christ within, the Kingdom of Heaven within, and of which he was the living proof.

To further substantiate this line of thought consider the following :

In John 8:58 Jesus says "before Abraham was, I AM"
In Exodus 3:14 God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM"

and again from the passage I quoted earlier :

"this ever blissful transcendental identity is called aham ("I")

Ok, so taking the second part of the statement "No-one comes to the Father except by Me", again who or what is the 'Me' he is referring to? The individual 'me' or the Cosmic 'Me-I AM'?

Even if we take it that he was referring to himself as the gateway to God, then it was surely in his capacity as an embodiment of Unity-God-Consciousness ("I and the Father are One" John 10:30). Since we all have that potential, and it seems many have realised it over the long course of history, then it seems unlikely that Jesus was claiming exclusivity.

Even if he was, it was in the context of Israel which was full of Torah-bashing zealots and idol worshippers, and so in that sea of ignorance he could very well say that "No-one comes to the Father except by Me".

But that statement of exclusivity then related to the historical circumstances of that time and place and was not a universal statement for all times and all places. Even if the statement is taken as universal then we have to look at the inaccuracies of translation and biased interpretation.

Finally if Jesus really did say that and really did mean what the Christians take him to mean then we have to consider the possibility that he was under a slight misconception or that for some reason God wanted him to say that inorder to help set up the context for division amongst world religions.

In the Indian conception of time, existence passes through many cyclic stages ranging from an age of Truth (Sat-Yuga) to an age of darkness (Kali-Yuga) with two others inbetween. We are currently said to be firmly in the Kali-Yuga for some thoasands of years and therefore these times are typified by division, corrution and quarrel.

Why? Because these cycles of existence are considered to be like a cosmic washing machine which expose the individual beings to a whole range of experiences (both 'good' and 'bad') which act as a ripening process so we each can finally come to realize our true nature and that we (as Consciousness) become all the richer for the experience. After all what else is God/Goddess going to do for all eternity if not have a little fun?

That is why they say this existence is a Divine Play, a Lila.

All of these last few paragraphs are just speculations; just possibilities.

The mystery remains.....................


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On mantras and meditation

N.B. As part of my 'slowing down' on the blog writing there are two posts today!
See below for 1st one 'to be or not to be.......'

I am coming around to the view that repeating the thought 'I,...I,...I,' is best reserved for self-inquiry rather than for general meditation upon an object (body/energy/breath). The reason being is that meditation upon an object is still a focusing upon an object, whereas self-inquiry is a turning of the attention around 180 degrees to focus on the subject (the 'I' focusing on the 'I'). By saying 'I' we are invoking the feeling sense of 'I' which invites this 180 degree turn. Therefore mixing the two up creates the possibility of trying to look in two directions at once which will only lead to frustration.

The 'a meditation upon 'I' posting though is fine as it is not focusing on any other object than the thought of 'I' itself which may lead to awareness of the feeling-sense of 'I' or directly into pure awareness itself.

As for what mantra (mind-tool) would be suitable for general meditation purposes, then.......?

Mantra seems to be a precise and sophisticated science and I don't pretend to understand or be qualified in this field. Each mantra seems to invoke a particular quality of energy and therefore it would be important to use one which is in harmony with the individuals own energy patterns or constituition.

Having said that however there are mantra's which are generally considered to be universal and safe for everyone to use. For example, one sanskrit mantra of this category is 'Soham' (usually pronounced 'So-hum'). Soham is said to be the natural mantra of the breath; 'So' on the inhale and 'Ham' on the exhale. It is said to mean 'I am That' affirming our essential unity with the Higher Self - however you concieve that to be.

This mantra can be very well combined with the breath and an awareness, for example at the navel (cultivating the energy of 'embodied beingness'). Allow the breath to become deep and smooth and feel the rising and falling of the belly with the inflowing and outflowing breaths. Some meditators and martial artists focus on a point called the 'Hara' which is said to be two finger widths below the navel and two in. This is said to be the energetic centre of the body and is very much connected to the same energy as the navel. Find which one suits you best and stick with that.

This meditation can be enough by itself (for the time being) and will help to cultivate a very grounded, stable, centered and solid energy in your being. And, as previously mentioned, it can act as an excellent starting point for self-inquiry if one is so inclined - simply do the first for a period until you feel very well established in the experience and then proceed to the next stage. I don't feel there is a need to hurry to the self-inquiry stage and I know from my own experience that if one is going off in more abstract practices without a solid grounded foundation within oneself then it can lead to all kinds of difficulties in normal life (i.e. exasperating ungroundedness and uncentredness etc.).

A mantra in this context is a simple sound or word which acts like a support for the mind to help us to step out of the circular patterns of thought and into deeper aspects of our being. By giving the mind a relaxed focus, which we keep on easily returning to when attention wanders, awareness will naturally begin to sink towards it's own centre like a pebble in a lake. Don't throw the pebble in making a noisy splash! Allow it to be more as if the pebble is gently sliding off your hand at the level of the water and easily slipping into the lake hardly making any ripple.

Another 'mantra' I feel you could very well use is the word 'peace'. Simply don't think about the meaning of peace (contemplation), don't imagine peace (visualisation) and don't use the word 'peace' as an intense mental focus to keep off other thoughts (concentration). No, none of that, simply allow the word 'peace' to be a gentle focus which helps you to relax and settle into your own subtle depths where upon you will begin to experience real peace. And naturally the meaning association of the word itself will help to invoke the experience which will become stronger as you cultivate a regular practice.

One word of caution. Don't go on chopping and changing your mantra as this just creates conflict in the deeper levels of the mind and leads nowhere. By all means try a few out and once you've found one that suits you then stick with it. Don't be seduced by what special quality this mantra or that one might invoke. The central purpose of this meditation, and use of the mantra is as an aid, is to help us to become consciously conscious in the moment and centred in our own being. Once that is done then all of the good qualities and energies of Consciousness will begin to manifest by themselves. Therefore, there are several good mantras and each one would be as good as the other. Just choose a simple one that resonates with you and stick with it.

When I say resonates with you, that has as much to do with the meaning of the mantra as anything else. For example, someone with a Christian upbringing would probably feel uncomfortable using a mantra which is coming from or connected to the Hindu tradition. And for good reason as it will automatically create confict with all of the religious conditioning and beliefs of that person. Far better to use something which is in harmony with the existing orientation such as 'Amen' which would be an excellent choice. Don't even call it a mantra, call it a prayer or a word of peace which invokes the blessings and protection of the Divine.

On the other hand obviously 'Amen' may cause a conflict with an agnostic or athiest person! Taking a good look at at transcending the limitations of ones conditioning is a whole other topic but for now, if you want to engage with this form of meditation, choose a word or a sound which you feel comfortable with, both in terms of it's feel and it's meaning.

Shalom could be good for a Jewish person and Allah for a Muslim. Soham is pretty neutral, as is peace. Some people meditate without even using a mantra at all, perhaps just focusing on the sensations of the body/energy and/or the breath. The important thing is not the form of the meditation but the substance of it in helping us return to the centre. Try a few things out and see what suits you.

Happy meditating! It's good, you'll like it.................

To Be or not to Be, that is the question.......

Ok, so I probably won't be turning into Darth Vader anytime soon. Just a little purging of the ego and a bit of fresh air in the shadows. You know in the whole of February I only posted on this blog 5 times. There are still nearly two weeks of March left and already I think this is number 18; that's quite some going and represents a considerable input of time and energy. Obviously I felt I had something I wanted to express and at least a couple of people seemed to like it.

Maybe my blog writing will slow down now (or maybe not). Yesterday, during and after a Werner Satsang, I had the experience of residing as energy. That is I was still walking around in my body, but my mind/thoughts were as if evaporated into the energy which precedes them. It seemed that there is this life-energy (prana/chi) and 'we' use this life energy to form the structure of our mind/thoughts.

I seemed to be experiencing the state of energy prior and was conscious of the tendency for this energy to take the form of thoughts and solidify as mind (and a particular view of the world). A. Ramana (Big Tex) said in one of his satsangs that Consciousness becomes energy and energy becomes matter, so we have to retrace our steps and go back the way we came.

All this talk about 'embodied beingness' I've been going on about seems to relate to a particular configuration of energy pertaining to the body-mind. I relate to 'embodied beingness' as a strong energy field which comprises a subtle aspect of this human form; of which we are normally unaware. So, abiding in the natural awareness of embodied beingness is a deeply pleasant experience of stillness and groundedness which is certainly captivating to the attention and keeps one pretty much in the present moment.

Meditating upon the energy or the body or the breath are all valid methods of meditation which help us to step back from thinking and to be more conscious in the present moment. Maintaining a relaxed focus on something which is naturally occuring within us, and repeatedly bringing our attention back there when it wanders, acts as a valuable anchor to the present moment.

This can be very worthwhile and beneficial in itself and it can also be a helpful precursor to actual self-inquiry.

Because energy or energy fields are something which can be percieved then they are not who I am. They comprise a subtle aspect of my vehicle in this existence but what is that which is aware even of this? What is that pure awareness beyond any percievable experience?

Who is experiencing this? I am. Who am I?

Behind the scenes is this feeling-sense of 'I' which is the subject of all experience. Becoming aware of that, however vaguely at first, and following that scent trail one-pointedly with our attention, is said to be the means which leads us back into the pure awareness which is prior to all thought, all energy, all relative experience.

Even our everyday sense of 'me', as mixed up with all kinds of identification as it is, is said to have at it's core the reality of the pure feeling-sense of 'I' which is the reflection of the true 'I AM' or Transcendental Pure Existence/Consciousness/Bliss; the Self.

Indeed it is said to be only because of this fact that our usual sense of 'me' has any sense of reality at all, and why by following this clue of 'I-ness' we are able to find our way back to the source.

And so what remains...........?

What remains of the individual being when all the rubbish falls away? I asked this question to Werner in relation to the fear of annihilation. To paraphrase him he said that what remain is the true essence of who you are beyond any psychological or emotional crap. Good riddance to it!

There is an opening to our transcendental universal nature which is then expressed through our own unique individual essence. Unity within diversity. Individuality within universality. Satchitananda in reflection. As above, so below.

Werner often advises that there is nothing we can do to Be That which we already Are, but that what we can do is to make ourselves available; and that much we are asked to do.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who the devil am I? Who, the Devil am I?

You know I'm having 2nd thoughts about this self-inquiry business. After all, who in their right mind would undertake something which was going to destroy everything that I take myself to be?

Sure I want the bliss and the love, but I also want the Power and the Glory. I want to do it my way and I want to be around to enjoy it goddamit!

Better maybe I just meditate my way to a just before enlightenment stage and then I can have it all for me. Have my cake and eat it too.

I want to be the great teacher, I want to have all the affirmation, I want to be the Great One, I,I,I,I,I,I,I!!!

What's the point if I am not going to be there to enjoy it? Doesn't sound like a very good deal to me.

Who is this God guy anyway?

Monday, March 16, 2009

having ones cake and eating it too

Self-inquiry is essentially a Vedantic approach which seeks to directly transcend relativity whereas the approach of Tantra goes by the scenic route.

Veda means knowledge and Vedanta means the end of knowledge and relates to the single minded pursuit of transcending relativity and Realising the Transcendental Self; the one without a second. The teachings of the Upanishads (a class of Indian spiritual texts) expound on this, but the same intent of transcending relativity can be pursued outwith this context of traditional Indian culture.

There are several schools of Vedanta, each looking at things from a slightly different angle, but the school which this teaching of self-inquiry, as expounded by Ramana Maharishi and others, belongs is that of Advaita Vedanta. Advaita means 'not-two' or 'non-duality' and refers to the viewpoint or experience where everything is percieved as the manifestation of the One Essence with no degrees of separation.

Tantra on the other hand comes from the angle of the multiplicity of life, rather than the unicity. Ultimately the aim is the same but the approach is different. I only have an incomplete and outline understanding of Tantra (as of Vedanta), but I understand it to deal with the diversity of the ways that the One Unified Source manifests in this creation.

The essential insight of Vedanta is that the Self alone is Real and all else is an illusion, so it tends to not give much attention to, or is even dismissive of, the relative aspects of life. On the other hand, from the stand point of this ultimate realisation, even this world is seen as a manifestation of the Self, and the Jnani (Enlightened Sage from this Vedantic pathway) makes no distinction between the Self at rest (Absolute Transcendental Silence) and the Self in action (creation; the world; relativity). For the Jnani it is all a play of Oneness.

Therefore, given that diversity/manifestation is as much the Self as the Absolute is, then approaching Self-Realisation from and through the apparent experience of differences is an equally valid approach. This I understand is Tantra.

In the West tantra is associated with sex, however this is only one aspect and not the main point in itself. As far as I can work out the connection with sex has two aspects. The first aspect is in encountering and releasing our inhibitions, fears and neurosis around sex which are all part of the false-ego which keeps us in the illusionary experience of separation.

The second aspect is in the actual energetic interplay between the male and female polarities. Just like electricity has two opposite poles between which the electrons flow, so both within ourselves and between the sexes somehow the Self has manifested as this polarity of male and female and tantra has evolved ways and means to harness this polarity for accelarating the process of evolution (back towards our original true nature and that much the richer for the experience).

Broadly speaking the male aspect is considered to be Silent Awareness and the female aspect is considered to be Dynamic Energy. Both of these poles are contained within each of us and on a cosmic level are said to be the two inseparable aspects of the One Divine Self.

Tantra concerns itself with all of the various manifestations of energy inherent in this human form as expressed through the various energy pathways (nadis) and centres (chakras). The main chakra system, running up the spinal column, represents the various planes of energy and perception available within the human experience.

Connecting the dots of Satchitananda in reflection as this human form, it is apparent that the energy centre connected to the navel (and the inner body space between the naval and the base of the torso) relates to the 'Sat' aspect. That is the aspect of existence or what I have been referring to in this context as the experience of 'embodied beingness', 'I amness' or simply 'amness'.

The energy centre connected with the 'third eye' between the eyebrows (and the inner space from the base of the neck to the top of the head) relates to the 'Chit' aspect. That is the aspect of awareness, or the knowing capacity.

The energy centre connected with the centre of the chest (and the inner space from the navel to the base of the throat) relates to the 'Ananda' aspect. That is the aspect of bliss, love or the capacity to feel. N.B. Bliss and love in this context don't mean overwhelming ecstacy and emotional sentimentality. Rather more likely to be a still contentment and a pure connecting energy, however, anything can and does happen.

Of course this trinity of energies are not separate from one another and are all intrinsic aspects of the one thing. They are part of a smooth circular continuum with each quality coming to the fore at times and seamlessly melding into the others. Similarily there is no clear cut physical location to them either; any or all of these energies could fill the whole body of experience. The physical locations are only approximate counterparts which can act as a guide to help one tune into particular aspects of a more subtle experience.

So tantra views this human form as a gateway to the Ultimate and honours it as such. Tantric practitioners are not in a hurry to transcend relativity but are interested in investigating and integrating all aspects of their relative experience as the very pathway to the Self.

In Tantra there is the possibility of getting lost in the diversity of life and in Vedanta there is the possibility of missing the beauty of life. Personally, and if at all possible, I favour a balanced approach which encompasses the best of both worlds.

Satchitananda - Awareness of Being is inherently Blissful

I would just add that investigating the various subtle aspects of our experience is still a different thing from self-inquiry which is directly turning the awareness around 180 degrees back towards its own source in Pure Awareness. There is not necesarly a conflict just don't try and look in two directions at once! Do one thing or the other at any one time or at least that's how it seems to me at the moment. Each one must find their own way home.

Bare bones self-inquiry
When thoughts arise inwardly ask oneself 'to whom are these thoughts arising?'
The answer naturally comes 'to me'
Then ask oneself 'who am I?'
Nip the thoughts in the bud and refocus attention directly upon the feeling-sense of 'I'
Persist in this inquiry with the intention that the True Self be revealed
Keep on persisting in this inquiry until the false ego has been entirely destroyed and the Pure Self alone remains
That is it