Friday, February 27, 2009

bringing out the big-guns

G'day mates. All is well here. This morning I went to another Satsang with Arunachala Ramana, the Texan Big-Gun of Consciousness. I like him very much and as much as I like the others I have met here too (Mooji, Werner, Gaia etc.), Big Tex is high up on my favourites list.

His bi-weekly Satsang starts with an hour of silent sitting followed by an hour of Q&A. Then after an intermission we take chai (sweet indian spiced tea) out on the patio and have another informal hour of Q&A and sitting quietly together. All in the very peaceful setting of the AHAM ashram well away from the bustle of town. The 20min cycle there in the morning is very peaceful and pleasant and one passes many orange clad renunciants and monkeys along the way who are quietly going about their morning business along the shady tree lined mountain road.

There is not much doubt in my mind that Big Tex is consciously residing in the presence of pure consciousness (the Self) and is able to express very clearly and freely from there. Somehow he is not drawing the big crowds like Mooji which means that it is a much more personal and intimate setting where one can interact freely.

Big Tex is only here for another week, before returning to his North Carolina Ashram, and then it seems that Werner will be the only regular Satsang gathering in town (twice weekly) as he is living here year round. There may be the odd visiting teacher but basically the high season is drawing to a close as the heat starts to build and the Westerners start to thin out (I am fine with the heat so far). There is also a Indian Lady Saint here called Siva-Sakhti who gives silent blessings here twice a day; I have been there many times and she reminds me of Yoda as she is so tiny, self-possessed, silent, slow moving and graceful. One can imagine her showing another side if she had to get her light-saber out and put pay to some bad guys!

And of course there is Ramana Ashram and the Mountain itself which are constant beacon lights of Consciousness. Being here is like being in a powerful force field which is drawing all the beings back to awareness of the primordial Self. Big Tex reckons that Arunachala is the planets primary power place of Consciousness which draws more Self-Realised Beings to it than any other place on earth, and that is a view supported by the Indian scriptues and Ramana Maharishi himself.

The thing is this; at the root of our own sense of identity is this 'I' thought. Before 'I am this' or 'I am that' or 'you' or 'that' can arise they are all in reference to this primary idea of 'I'. The approach of Self-Enquiry is simply looking within and becoming aware of this 'I' thought at the subtle level of the mind. Under the steady patient gaze of awareness, and disallowed from spawning progeny, this 'I' thought eventually dissolves and gives way to the experience of the True 'I', the 'Self', which is ever at peace and non-changing. Repeated application over time cultivates steadiness in this natural way of Being.

Self-Enquiry is not the only way. Also held to be effective is direct association with Self-Realised Beings, and attuning one-self to their vibration by repeated subtle remembrance of them (name and form) with devotion; whether near or far, or whether the Sage is still in the body or not.

The Mountain is One; the pathways to the top are many and varied

All rivers lose their names when they merge with the Ocean

Aum Shanti

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good vibrations

Got back from the docs tonight and I have a clean bill of health. He is keeping me off oil for another week, spicey for two, and a reduced dose of nutrients for a few weeks to support and detox the liver. Otherwise I am feeling fine and my health seems normal again.

Yesterday for Mahasivaratri I took a walk around the mountain with Sarah, who is moving on tommorrow, and stayed up late meditating and listening to the chanting. Didn't quite manage the all night vigil though. Earlier in the day I took my pocket knife to my hair and cut it all off - at least to about an inch long all the way around. I seem to have done a pretty good job and have been complimented on my new look, which also included cutting the somewhat bushy beard.

The hair had become totally knotted at the back - I could have kept it and it probably would have turned into one big dreadlock but I decided to sacrifice it on that Holy day instead and later on made a private ceremony of burning it which is harder than you think when it is all matted together. I'll try to hook up a picture when I get a half decent one.

So I went to Satsang yesterday with V Ganesan, who is Ramana Maharishi's grand nephew. I don't think that he'd claim to be realised but he is a very sweet man, now in his 60's, who has lots of stories to share from the experiences of many of Ramana's closest disciples. He was 14 when Ramana dropped the body and grew up in the ashram and has spent most of his life here. It was his last Satsang of the season so I just caught him in time.

Have also found another twice weekly Satsang with a Texan going by the name of Arunachala Ramana. They have a pretty nice ashram about 4km around the hill where he spends a few months of the year. He must be in his 60's also and has a great big Texan gut which he had trussed up with a pair of maroon flannel shorts pulled up past his navel with his tee shirt tucked in. Well obviously even spiritual realisation cannot help some people transcend certain limitations but aside from his dreadful fashion sense I enjoyed his Satsang and found him to be genuine enough.

Turns out that Mooji is still in town and is sharing a small Satsang tommorrow morning which I will try to attend. I think he's just been relaxing with his inner circle these last two weeks after several weeks of large public Satsangs. Also went to Werner's Satsang, the Swiss guy, this afternoon which was also good. Yes, there is plenty of Satsang happening in this town and a good proportion of it seems to be of a high quality.

Sri Shankaracharya, a legendary towering spiritual figure in Indian history, has said that Satsang (association with conscious free beings) is the best raft with which to cross the ocean of Samsara (misery). The Universal Self is One. It is the same in me as it is in you and everyone else. Any genuine realised spiritual guide is only a messanger, a channel, for That - our true inner nature of freedom, love, bliss and awareness. The presentation may be different but it is the same wine in different bottles. I enjoy asking them all questions and absorbing the good vibrations.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Amazing Grace

Hi all and thanks for all of the birthday wishes. Well, not content with being mauled by the ashram dog this body-mind entity went on to contract a nasty dose of Hep A. That is a food/water carried virus which attacks the liver. Supposedly I was innoculated against it in late 2005 but to no avail.

So last Sunday night was safely one of the longest and most seriously unpleasant of my life. It started off with the squits and moved on to fever and chills. At this point the mind was quite serene but later on I was doing it tough. There was vomiting, cramps, joint ache, headache, incredible abdominal pain and many visits to the loo. To make it worse I was out of water and so became very dehydrated. Mind also became feverish and it felt like I had no sleep at all and spent the entire night in suffering; mentally ranting about the injustice and futillity of it all.

Well thankfully all things come and they go. After 5 days of house arrest on doctors orders, a no salt/oil/spice diet, and a smorgasborg of liver supporting nutrients I'm feeling much better. I was very weak for some days and still wracked by frequent abdominal pain, never daring to stray too far from a toilet, but today have been granted going out privelages and after assessing my blood and urine tests tommorrow, the doctor will prescribe me a new more liberal regieme. Luckily for me I'm in a good place and the the ashram staff are looking after me very well.

So that's that. My involuntary imprisonment wasn't too bad and I got in plenty of rest, reading, contemplating and got to know some of the ashram inmates somewhat better. Funnily enough, one morning I went to the dining hall and there sitting beside me was Sarah, a friend from Ashram Yoga in New Zealand. I knew it was only a matter of time before something like that happened.

I think that one of the benefits of this episode, aside from copious amounts of physical purification, was just being happy to be by myself whereas before I had still been struggling a little with feelings of isolation.

Monday night is Mahasivaratri which is a major Hindu event. The Great Night of Shiva at the mountain which is his embodiment. There will be much walking around the hill and staying up all night meditating/chanting going on with all of the tens of thoasands of pilgrims who will come.

On another note, I have figured an easy way to generate email notifications for anyone who wants it when I have posted a new blog entry. This will save you having to randomly check in for new reports. So if you would like to avail yourself of that service then just drop me a quick note and it shall be done.

I plan to definitely stay put until at least the middle of March, after my final rabies injection and the full-moon. After that I don't know.................

Hari Aum Tat Sat

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Now is the Knowing; Eat the cake.

Well happy birthday to me, it's my 34th birthday today. I have been hanging out a fair bit with an American girl Rosie whom I met at Mooji's birthday party. I thought that I might have some dinner with her tonight but it seems she has gone to Pondicherry for a few days so I am celebrating on my own at the moment which is ok with me - no pangs of loneliness at this time. Rosie is mutually in love with a man in the US so it's not that, we are just friends.

It's been over a week since I wrote so a quick run down of some highlights : renting a pedal bike for US50c a day, it gives a lot more freedom and mobility which I like and also makes the gauntlet of passing the many beggars much easier. A couple of times now I have riden around the mountain which only takes an hour or so to do. A few days ago on the full moon there were tens of thoasands of barefooted Indian pilgrims walking around the mountain at night - I went too but wore my shoes this time and went by the road.

Here's a good one : I got bit by Jackie the dog and now have a one inch gash on my left thigh. I continue to break in and out of the ashram compound at night time after curfew but it wasn't that. I was playing with him on the roof and he got over excited and got me on both legs wrecking my good yoga pants. The dog has been immunized against rabies but I am getting the shots anyway just as a precaution and watching carefully for any frothing at the mouth and fear of water. Rabies is fatal so if I die from it nice knowing you all, but I think I will be alright.

Been continuing to go to Mooji Satsang most mornings as well as a couple of other meetings. Mooji is leaving here after Sunday so that will be the end of an era and will leave a big space in my day for other things to happen. The others were smaller groups; one with an Ozzy woman called Miranda who seems to specialize in helping people to release emotions in the presence of Presence. The other is a German guy called Gaia who is very low key and ordinary. Actually from his Satsang one day a couple of pennies dropped. Seems very simple but the realisation was that no matter what thoughts or feelings are arising they are always arising in the now and if one looks, the now is always ok. The other was a seeing of the subtle striving for some pleasant or deep experience in meditation/silent sitting which is a rejection of what is actually happening now. The upshot was a deeper acceptance and peace in the now.

It's simple to say these things but to have an actual experiential recognition of them is something else. No flashing lights or internal explosions just a mellowing into what is. Insights and experiences like that come and go and there's no point in holding on to them or being disappointed when they pass; or rather when the clouds of thought identification temporarly obscure the sun once again. There seems to come a time when nothing can shake the Realisation of Being but that seems to happen only when it is ready to.

My friend Mike from the UK asked me to put a question to one of these 'oracles' here at Arunachala. The question was along the lines of if 'Enlightenment' is the end of the illusion of being a person then who or what remains to know that 'Enlightenment' has happened or is no such self-reflection possible?

I put the question to Gaia and the answer which arose was along these lines: We think that we are a person with particular patterns of thought but that actually the person we think we are is nothing more than these patterns of thought. We are not a person with patterns, the person is the patterns; we are the Awareness. The sense of personhood which we experience, the 'I-ness' of our thoughts and feelings, is only a borrowed reflection from the pure 'I AM'; the Beingness, the Awareness within which all experiences happen and which is aware of experience.

When Realisation dawns then these patterns of thought are seen to be arising within Awareness and they no longer have the sense of 'I-ness'. So any thought which arises in that state such as 'I am now Enlightened' would have no meaning or significance. Then what is aware?

Awareness or Beingness itself is aware. That can be hard to comprehend since we are mostly identified as being a person but I suppose it could be said that the sense of identity has now opened into the dimension of Beingness itself. If our current sense of 'I-ness' is only a borrowed reflection from this pure 'I AM-ness' then what to say of the real thing? It is beyond the mind and therefore beyond the minds capacity to comprehend (other than a few concepts about it). It can only be an experience and yet it is the very 'thing' which makes awareness of experience possible. Perhaps all that can be said about it is that there is a deep sense of Knowingness which neutralises all of these questions? I don't really know.

What motivates action and gives coherence to the remains of such a one? Enlightened intuition? Spontaneous action guided by some higher power? From the standpoint of the mind then it is all open to speculation so so so so so? Maybe better just to eat the cake.

Well, for anyone who is still here after all that, until the next time......................

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

doldrums and fresh winds

It seems like a long time since I last wrote. I went through a bit of a downspell there where there was much frustration, boredom, restlessness and doubt. All of this seeming denial of any reality to the ego-self seemed all a bit oppressive and repressive to me. Doesn't the individual personality need to go through certain experiences, expression and growth before the time comes to Realise True Nature as Universal Self? Isn't there a danger of thwarting this growth if one is constantly questioning the reality of ones own existence?

The moment was upon me and I took this question in front of Mr. Mooji after sitting there mentally cursing the whole thing for some days. After a bit of an exchange it became clear to me that all of this paralysis of analysis stuff I was experiencing had it's roots in a fear of making mistakes and an expectation of a state of Being where everything flows naturally and rightly. There may be such a way but in between times one has to function somehow. Mr. Mooji playfully dealt with me and suggested that I give myself full permission to make mistakes. Make as many as I can. It's ok to be human and there's nothing wrong in the joys and sorrows of it all.

I lightened up a bit after that. It doesn't seem to help to get too serious about all of this stuff and maybe, just maybe I can tend somewhat in that direction sometimes. Afterall Beingness is supposed to be a state of freedom; not a heavy burden.

I had been feeling a bit isolated as this is a kind of inward meditational town and where I am living has a guideline of 'noble silence' so not much scope for socialising there. Compound this with the fact that I am not necesarily always the most naturally gregarious of people then it is a bit of a challenge sometimes for me to make new connections. I'm not talking about superficial social exchanges, but really meeting someone in a way which is nourishing; without social masks or protection mechanisms.

What most people would consider as a natural human desire was being compounded by all of this self doubt, judgement and questioning; it's just the ego, it's neediness, any relationship coming out of that is not real and destructive etc. etc. blah blah. This is the mind 'I' have to contend with so I am having to learn to be more light hearted about the whole thing of this life.

Went to another couple of Satsangs. One is on going twice weekly in the afternoons; that one I like very much. It is with a Swiss guy called Werner who seems to have been living in India for many years. He gives a very lively and playful expression to it all and thankfully doesn't deny that some persistant limiting ego-conditions do have a momentary relative reality and may need to be given some attention to release them rather than denying them and pushing them away. He says keep coming back to be present; either directly if one can to awareness of Being or through some anchor such as awareness of the natural breath. By keeping on coming back when awareness is lost then the tendency to Beingness (freedom from tyranny of mind) is strenghtened. Some patterns of mind may be persistant in seeming to pull us out and some of these may need some investigation somehow to release them.

The other 'guru' I went to see has an ashram a few hours away and seems to give evening talks here periodically. I didn't really like it at all. He was saying many of the 'right' kind of things but I was wary of him and couldn't help feeling that something wasn't quite right. The next day I overheard some girls telling another that they sometimes secretly put psychadellic drugs in the food there. Presumably if someone has some kind of 'cosmic' drug experience then they may attribute it to the power of the guru and hence perhaps falling into the trap. I don't know if any of that is true but certainly if I were a false guru looking to drum up some more wealthy western devotees then I would certainly think of coming to a place like this.

Had to do my wall climbing adventure again last night as I went to a musical fund raising event for a local dog hospice (100's of strays everywhere). Keeping in theme my ascent and descent were complicated by the fact that Jackie the guard dog was on duty. Fortunately I was already friends with the dog and after some reassuring pats and sniffs through the gate I was able to very carefully get inside the compound without triggering off a cachaphoney of barking and mauling. And yes, had I been wearing a kilt or an Indian dhoti then I would have to had been extra cautious about getting my dangly bits caught on the broken glass, although had something been severed I'm sure Jackie the dog would have made an appreciative quick tasty snack of it.