Category Archives: Personal considerations

If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?

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When you see the face of anger
look behind it
and you will see the face of pride.

Bring anger and pride
under your feet, turn them into a ladder
and climb higher.

There is no peace until you become
their master.
Let go of anger, it may taste sweet
but it kills.

Don’t become its victim
you need humility to climb to freedom.

— Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (Rumi)

(Title by Khalil Gibran)

As the new year renews all the happiness and good tidings, hope the joyful spirit keeps glowing in the your heart forever! Happy New Year!

LET THERE BE PEACE IN THE WORLD

To Forget the Self

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The Storyteller

What is the Self? Countless people have asked themselves this question and there have been numberless answers. But as these answers have all been observations expressed in words. What does that mean? All answers on the question “What is the Self?”, when formulated in words can only be from the relative point of view, from a dualistic point of view. It can only describe an object from the point of view of the subject. It is not by an intellectual, empirical and dual approach that the Self can be revealed. But the Self is that through which all is known. It is similar to the eye that can see the manyfold appearances but it cannot see itself. It can see itself as a reflection in a mirror but it can never see itself directly.

This example can be found in the story about the tenth man. Although this story might seem very simple with nothing really interesting to tell us, it is really quiet profound when put into the good context with some understanding.

There were ten men travelling to a very distant village. On their way they encountered a river they were obliged to cross. As the river had a strong current, they decided to join their hands to cross it. But on their way they lost their footing and they had to swim on the other side. Later, on the opposite bank they reassembled and decided to check if everybody had crossed the water. Each started to count the number of men who have arrived and they could only find nine. They concluded that one of them must have drowned and they were bemoaning their loss. Meanwhile a monk passed by and asked them what had happened. They explained their story to the monk, who quickly recognized their mistake. He asked them to line up and count aloud their number as he passed by and hit each of them with a stick on the shoulder. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… At the end, as he hits the last man and this one calls aloud ‘ten’, they thus realized that they were ten. What had happened is that each man had counted the others and forgot to count himself.

This story illustrates well how the Self is always there but it happens to be overlooked. We cannot see it as the eye cannot see itself. Every attempt to see it will fail as the mind will try to grasp the Self as an object. It is only by turning inward and resting on the thought “I am” that the thoughts, the mind, will be dissolved and eventually our essential Nature, the Self, pure Awareness could be revealed.

Love,

Shanti

Empathy

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The Observer

Tempus Fugit… Time flies… When I watch the date of my latest post I must admit that my writing becomes very rare these times. Being too much involved into mundane concerns I find my blog standing still. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once said “God never forsakes one who has surrendered.” These days I work very hard to acquire some knowledge to help people in most difficult mental situations. We are the world that we have created and we are the only ones that can change ourselves and hence, change the world. The change is not out there. It is not in time or in space. It is in this present moment, in this precious moment… Have you ever found a solution in the future or in the past? Where is the solution to our problems? If you go deep into it you might say that the solution is always in the present now. But what is the size of this present NOW? Can we measure it? Is it a second, or a fraction of a second, or may be a fraction of a fraction of a second? We can continue like that endlessly, dividing this fraction into new fractions and still we will find a lapse of “time” with a beginning and an end. How tiny is then NOW? Is it measurable? If you really go very deep into that question you might discover that NOW is beyond time, immeasurable… infinity. It is the gate to love, compassion and empathy as it destroys all distance. In NOW there is no space anymore. Time and space always come together. Empathy occurs only if we listen with our whole being. It is not listening that is in the ears, neither the understanding of listening that is in the mind. It is the direct reflection of what is here right now in our awareness. There is not the tiniest amount of space possible between awareness and its content. We create that space in time with our preconceived ideas and judgments. Empathy and compassion occurs when there is no space and hence no time; in this precious, vast, infinite present moment that is the NOW.

— Personal reflections

To fill the bucket

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Grasping at sense objects (a match-factory)

When the mind is directed to the illusionary outside world of objects, it is prone to grasp at these objects as it has numberless concepts to distinguish between them. The amount of them is endless. The mind is conditioned by society, personal experience and education to grasp, reject or to be indifferent towards them. The more it is under the influence of desire, the more it grasps. It wants to fulfil this emptiness left behind by the veil that covers our happiness, our true self, with the fleeting happiness created by the objects of desire. As the very nature of the sense objects is impermanent, suffering is inherent. This happiness is never lasting and we will never get the bucket full, no matter how much we grasp at desirable objects. As soon as the object is acquired, the happiness that is obtained by it is already fading away, even though the object might still exist. The magic of the moment when it became “mine” quickly fades and it then turns into a weapon faced towards us. It can now cause innumerable sufferings. It might get stolen, lost, leave us or increase our pride, hence become fruitful soil for hatred, anger, jealousy or suffering of loss. And finally, this whole process leaves permanently new impressions on the veil of our true self, covering it ever more and distancing us ever more from the true happiness we are longing for so hardly… our true self.

The only way to clear that veil, this dust on the mirror, on our true nature, is to let go and to observe… in silence. It is only by discriminative knowledge that we can meet the army of defilements of the mind. Then, through understanding the real nature of those illusionary outside objects, the grasping will naturally take an end. The veil made out of all those impressions covering our true shining self will slowly dissolve and true happiness will naturally be revealed. It might go very quickly for some of us, but I can also take many years. But the very motivation of reading about all this, even if it might be difficult to understand at the beginning, is already the first step into a wonderful story realizable in this lifetime, if you are really decided to do so.

Love,

Shanti

Seeking Realization

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The Seeker

Realization is not an action somebody accomplishes. The idea of realizing the self implies a path from an unrealized self to a realized self. Realization of the self as a goal cannot be permanent. Something permanent has no beginning and no end. Hence the goal is already there, the self is always realized. The intention to realize the Self is itself a hindrance. Our nature is always free but we are making huge efforts to become free. Who is making these efforts and trying to realize the self? It is the I-thought that has wrongly identified itself with the mind that veils our happiness and makes realization of the self a goal. This implies two selves. A non realized self and a goal, a realized self. And here starts the whole process of searching. Going to a guru, performing rituals, reciting mantras, doing prostrations, meditating, reading books and taking all kinds of hardships upon us to walk firmly on the path towards realization hoping to reach our goal in this life. The irony in all this striving for realization is that we have never been separated from our true self. We falsely believe it to be found somewhere, to experience it, to realize it, because we search with our mind and the mind can only exist in duality. So, our task is to find the real nature of the mind. We will discover that there is no such thing as a mind. It is in understanding that we are not the body, neither the mind that we will unveil our true self and the I-thought will be transcended eventually. We already know this freedom. If we wouldn’t know it, why would we spend our lives searching for it? But we must take care not to use wrong tools. It lies in the palm of our hands. It is beauty and love in its purest essence. We are that, lets embrace it in silence and cut those chains that hold us prisoners.

Love,

Shanti

How much closer can we get?

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Gulliver’s View

Going out in the world as an individual and visiting an abandoned house gives me the sensation that I am close to those objects outside of me. I can touch them, I can smell them, I can see them and I can hear the noises around me. But what does the perceiver really perceive. Are the perceptions and sensations my body and sense organs deliver, really the world that is there, outside of me? Where do these perceptions and sensations really appear? Where do they come from? What makes me perceive something as beautiful that somebody else perceives as ugly? Is it me that creates this world or am I only perceiving the world? Am I the world that I create? Who am I?

I am the screen and the film projected on it. As long as I know that I am the screen and the film, I know that I am the perceiver and the perceived, hence I don’t “know” anymore. As soon as I forget the screen and believe the manyfold appearances on the screen to be different from me, I start to name them, to like them or to dislike them. My vision gets veiled and I fall into the confusion called ignorance of the true self. With that ignorance rises all the suffering inherent to that wrong belief of a world outside of me, apart from me. At the same time the belief that I am a body or I am a mind comes into being. Both, the belief of an outside world and the belief that I am a body and/or a mind always come into being together bringing about all the thoughts and hence the suffering inherent to that illusion. This illusion brings about distance, it brings about suffering, it brings about all negative emotions like attachment, aversion, pride and jealousy. But, behind this illusion is a pristine unborn, unchanging consciousness that has never been affected neither by the illusionary outside world of thoughts, neither by the suffering the thoughts generate themselves. It is the ‘I’-thought that separates itself and creates this world of suffering because it has forgotten its true nature and believes itself to be the body and/or the mind. It has forgotten that it is the screen and the scenery playing so beautifully on it. And it is only in moments of beauty and love that the veil opens a little bit, like the clouds sometimes open up and make visible the ever present and pristine sky unaffected by them. Be-ing… is meditation, is awareness. It is not awareness of something. There is nothing to be aware of. As soon as there is something to be aware of, there is ignorance of the true self. The true self IS pure pristine awareness. It is the screen and the film. The screen has no limits. It is vast radiant space, unborn, limitless and indescribable. How can we find the screen? We can only find the screen if we do not search for it. If the mind searches it, it is damned to never find it. Because the mind is thought and always arises in duality. Atman, which is Brahman, is beyond duality and can never be found as something, as an object of perception or thought. It unveils in pure pristine awareness, which is meditation, oneness, which is love and beauty in its purest essence.

 (Please let me know if you find some errors or misinterpretations in my text. English is not my mother language and I do my best efforts to be clear, but I guess that sometimes I make mistakes or use words in wrong contexts. Thank you for reading my blog.)

That

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That is Love when it is all and that is nothing when it is understanding. That is not perceivable, not graspable, beyond intellect and knowledge. For it is not different from the perceiver, the perception and the perceived. It is beyond these and it is all. Knowledge can not understand it because it is not an object of understanding. The eyes cannot see it because it is not visible through the senses. And hence it is omnipresent and permeates all. It has no dimension because it is beyond dimensions. It has not been created because all creation happens through it. It is beginningless and endless. Realizing That is dying to the Self. That is revealed by Self-Knowledge although it cannot be known. If it is known, it is not That. If it is experienced, it is not That. If it is perceived, it is not That. If it is described, it is not That because it is beyond words, beyond perception, beyond experience and beyond intellectual knowledge. Being in the state of Self-Knowledge reveals that which is beyond all concepts, that which is beyond duality. Talking about Oneness is wrong, because the label is never That. Nobody can teach you That but it is understood through listening. It is understood by devotion. It is understood in Love because it is Love and it is all. That is all and That is nothing.

Where has the dream gone?

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What am I? I am the screen and the image projected on the screen. There is no image separate from the screen. The image is the screen, there is no independent image on the screen. “The world is Other, the body is Me and the Mind is Me!”, thinks the I-thought that has fooled himself. All is One, all is perfect in Love. As life happens to Me the movie goes on in all its beauty and love in its continual flow in the Now. There is no ‘I’ and there is no ‘Other’. The past is gone and the future is an illusion. There is nothing witnessing the ‘I’ and the ‘Other’ because the ‘Witness’, the ‘I’ and the ‘Other’ are all one in the ultimate present Now. What and where is the world, the body and the mind without Me? Where has the dream gone when I woke up?

What is the use of searching if you are what you search?

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Everything that comes together must fall apart. This is a law that cannot be avoided. It is a source of suffering that permeates our whole existence. As long as we cling to things we will suffer from being separated from them. As long as we build up something we will suffer from its collapse. Throughout history, we have repeated this pattern of union and dissolution countless times and it has generated so much unneeded suffering. Everything we can grasp with our senses will die. Nothing is permanent. The more we search for permanence, the more we will be disappointed and perpetuate our suffering. This perpetual search for permanence in this life has its origin in the ignorance of our true self. It is only by dying to the now that we might find something permanent in our life. But what are we really searching for when we try to perpetuate things? What do we expect? Is it happiness we are searching for? Can we really find happiness “outside”? Isn’t this impermanent happiness we try to find outside but suffering in disguise? Did you ever find lasting happiness that did not turn to suffering in the phenomenal world called Samsara?

Please do not simply read this. Go into it deeply and try to find a source of everlasting happiness “outside”. If you find a girl and you fall in love you might think that you have found happiness. But does this happiness not fade after several years? It might perhaps not but you certainly know how much suffering the death of a beloved one is causing and how much pain a separation is causing. And this is definitively unavoidable.

Have you ever asked yourself the reason for searching happiness? If we search something it is always something that we know. It is something that we have lost. If I search for my wallet or my keys, I know what I am searching for. Have you ever searched for something that you didn’t know, before you have searched for it? How would such a thought come about? It is very important to inquire deeply into this question. You might want to become something that you have never been before. You might want to become famous and you have never been famous. You might want to be beautiful if you feel ugly. You might want to become rich. But the very core of these longings is a quest of happiness. In the ignorance of your true self you search for happiness “outside”. You think that fame, fortune, beauty or social position will bring you happiness. And when you have achieved all that you wanted to, you still feel unsatisfied and you might have a lot of psychiatric medication in your cupboard to balance out the fears of loosing what you think you have achieved until now. And so the search and the suffering continues for the rest of your life.

The funny thing about that is that we all search for something that we have already and that we always had. We are happiness and we have never been separated from happiness. It is by dying to the now, by loosing everything that we imagine to have or that we long to get that we will eventually find true happiness. For happiness, as our true nature is beyond what is graspable, it is beyond what is perceivable and it is beyond words. We are what we are searching for and we have ever been what we have ever searched for, hence we know what we are searching for because it happens every night in deep sleep and we sometimes perceive it briefly during the day when the mind is very calm and aware in the now, but we have to die to it to really fulfil our deepest wish. Life is not possible without death, in the same way happiness is not possible without abandoning all those worldly concerns and dying to the self, dying to the now… simply being… and you will know that you have never been separated from the whole.

Love,

JC

Impermanence

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Die! Die!
Cut off those chains
that hold you prisoner
to the world of attachment

— Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (Rumi) – Love Poems of Rumi (edited by Deepak Chopra) – Excerpt of Dying to Love

Time has come to say goodbye. I have been thinking seriously over the last month about the future of this blog. As you might have read in the “About the Author and this Blog” menu, this blog was initially intended to be a 365 day project for me. The question recently came up what would be the future of the blog after this period of time. I have seriously taken into consideration to continue this blog with text I would have written from my own experience and how I live my spirituality. It is now a year that has passed since I started to put one quote a day and this was not easy at all. I remember running down the stairways of the Shechen Monastery Guesthouse in Nepal to ask Tashi, may he blessed, to start the WiFi connection at 4 o’clock in the morning, just to put my article online on time.

Yes, all this has been a challenge I have decided to take up. After several years of spiritual practice I decided to dedicate one year to cultivate only positive thoughts every day and shape my mind constantly towards virtue, to do positive deeds and to spend as much as possible of my time reading what other lineages, religions and spiritual teachers have written. My root lama once told me to study other spiritual texts to broaden my view, and I think that was a good idea. And this has been fulfilled this year. It has brought me a lot of good and I hope that the readers of this blog have found some interesting meditations here too.

For due to acquaintance with what is wholesome,
The force of my faith may for a short while
increase because of these (words).
If, however, these (words) are seen by others
Equal in fortune to myself, it may be
meaningful (for them).

— Shantideva – The Bodhicharyavatara – Chapter I – 3

Now, the day has come that this project is over. I think that this is the best teaching about impermanence I personally could receive and give to those people reading the quotes posted here day by day. I don’t pretend to be enlightened and I don’t pretend to have deep knowledge about spirituality, but I know that we have to let go this body one day. We die every moment and every day. Death permeates our existence but we avoid to look at it or understand it. Keeping in mind that death is but a step away, we will certainly understand the urge to abandon worldly concerns and turn towards virtue and spirituality in order to free ourselves from the bondage of our false self. The deathless is always in the palm of our hand and we just have to grasp it instead of grasping to concepts and living in ignorance and illusion.

During the time I maintained this 365-day-project, I have made many friends and discovered many different blogs about spirituality. I went personally through a lot of hardships on my spiritual path during the last years, knowing that truth is a pathless land. But to reach this land I had to tame the elephant that is my mind. I did a lot of meditation and purification practices to prepare my mind to stay in the light of awareness and abide in it like one of the pillars of Ashoka. The mind is like a monkey that needs to be hold tightly by the rope of mindfulness. I guess I am a very bad disciple because I have discovered some people through WordPress blogs that have attained perfect enlightenment without taming their minds and without the guidance of a true spiritual master. Today everything seems to go quicker and instantly and so it seems to be with spirituality too. I’d call it “Instant Enlightenment” (like the coffee)  and it will probably be sold in tin cans in a couple of years. Neo-Advaita teachers spring up like mushrooms with always the same message… “there is nothing to do”. The only message I personally would like to leave here is that there is a lot more to do than to understand that there is no such thing as a separate “I”, an observer, observing the “outside world”, grasping, rejecting and putting labels on it and hence seeing it through the veil of ignorance. Theory is not enlightening. Most of us need a certain preparation before we will be able to bring those teachings into practice and fruition. This preparation is consisting of preliminary practices to purify and tame the restless mind. Mind being conditioned and agitated for ages will not be tamed only by intellectually understanding that duality is ignorance and that there is only one divine non-dual reality. This knowledge is a nice point of entry to spirituality, but it is not a means to its end. So, always beware of thinking that you may have reached enlightenment because this could cut you straight from the path of spiritual evolution. Truth is a pathless land, but there is a path that should be followed to unveil truth, no matter what tradition you are into. There are very interesting articles on the Internet about this issue and the traps and pitfalls in the “Neo-Advaita” or “Pseudo-Advaita”. You may want to read the article on www.enlightened-spirituality.org.

But anyhow, I have met a lot of very interesting people through WordPress. There were a lot of true seekers and some true enlightened beings. I will continue to read the blogs I have subscribed to and this blog will be kept up, at least as long as the domain name is still active. I’ll leave it to the ‘now’ whether I’ll continue to put new posts from time to time or not, but my daily updates are definitively over now.

Meanwhile I would like to thank all the readers and give all of you great hugs with lots of love. May all of you attain timeless happiness and love.

Metta,

JC