Saturday, October 10, 2009

When Feelings Don't Reflect Reality

I received an interesting email from a man that I have known for a long time. If anyone is sincere, consistent, and unpretentious regarding spiritual work, it is he. I have seen him apply the principles of Truth in his own life, and he has lived into the life he always dreamed of. And yet, he is willing to share the following honestly and openly:

“I've come to realize that my life is pretty much how I dreamed it might be some years ago. I have managed to save enough money so that the vicissitudes of the economy no longer cause me worry. I own a nice home with a beautiful garden and no mortgage. I have a loving and devoted wife whose company I still thoroughly enjoy. I won't bore you with more details, but you get the picture.

“In spite of enjoying the life I had dreamed about, when old patterns of thinking emerge, if I am not vigilant and put these thoughts in their proper place, out of my head, the same old feelings of anxiety will come up. If I'm not careful I can become just as stressed as when I used to be worried about making the mortgage payment.

“Some time ago I was fond of thinking that if only I could get the circumstances of my job right, get my life just right, everything would be perfect. Now that everything is ‘perfect’ I notice that those same tendencies that caused me grief have followed me into my perfect life, and it's those subtle familiar tendencies that were the problem all along.”

I think our friend has summed up something many of us experience without fully understanding what is going on. On the outside, life is good; in the moment, life is good; yet the same unpleasant feelings that were prevalent when life didn’t seem so good keep coming up even now.

From time to time, as there are no exact equivalent words in modern languages, certain Sanskrit words will be incorporated into our expanded vocabulary, and their usage can broaden our perspective of many aspects of life.

There is a Sanskrit term, samskaras, that roughly translates as “subconscious tendencies.” Our samskaras are the tendencies to automatically think, feel, act, and react in ways that we wouldn't consciously choose.

Say we have a samskara to be agitated very easily. So something happens to trigger our agitation, and we blame the trigger. A person is being himself, totally acceptable to everyone else, yet for some reason something he does or says agitates us. We blame it on the person. Then we say that he did something that agitated us, as though it is his fault. Yet chances are he did nothing wrong whatsoever. Our agitation samskara got us once again.

In a sense, samskaras are the root seeds of our karma, as subconscious tendencies lead to actions that eventually lead to the corresponding reactions, or consequences. Since the universe is in perfect balance and harmony, existing in a mathematical exactitude we can hardly comprehend, any action or motion—either physically, emotionally, or mentally—produces a corresponding reaction, consequence, or result necessary in order to maintain the harmony and balance of the universe.

Anyway, I digress. Our friend is asking why do these old feelings come up even now that his outer life is as he always wished it to be. I am certain that everyone reading this has similar experiences. We have old feelings that come up, even though there is nothing associated with them in present-moment reality.

For example, a feeling of fear and anxiety arises while we’re resting in a calm and serene environment. It corresponds to nothing in our actual reality, yet it captures our attention. Such feelings have nothing to do with what is actually going on. They rise from the past, irrationally for the most part. Yet they trick us into caring about them and getting involved in a mental or egotistical way.

It reminds me of the person who couldn’t enjoy her vacations because, instead of enjoying the present-moment reality of the holiday, she spent each day counting down the days before she had to return home to her ordinary routine. Our mind runs our life to the degree that we are unable to enjoy present-moment reality because of the predominance of habitual thoughts, including obsessing on a future that doesn’t even exist.

I am very happy with the circumstances of my life these days. I am in a beautiful place and environment. Right now the leaves are changing colors and there are explosions of reds, yellows, and oranges in every direction around me. The view out of my window as I write is of the fields and trees that extend as far as I can see, and now the sun is shining brightly on them, illuminating an extraordinary scene of sparkling colors. How thankful I am to be here, to have the freedom to enjoy this beautiful simplicity.

This auspicious karma is to me an outpouring of divine grace. You have no idea how much gratitude I feel for the life God has given me. Like our friend, I am also very happy with my wife, Kay, and together we produce the course for the participants that share it with us, as well as play through life together the best we can. We learn a lot from our relationship. And, as my teacher once told me, there is always more to learn.

Still, even though I have no reason to complain about a single thing in my life, the same old feelings from the past do come up. Sometimes I experience the most intense sadness. The mind tends to associate a rising emotion with something in particular in present life, so I’ll think I’m sad because I haven’t seen my children in a while and I miss them. Of course, this is just the samskara of sadness finding a reason to be sad.

When this comes up, I remind myself of the truth, that they are all very happy with their lives and successful in their own chosen fields. My oldest loves his work and his life with his fiance, and my two youngest are doing well in their respective schools and enjoying their lives. When I remember to be happy that everyone is happy and doing well, my temporary sadness disappears. It was a samskara that came up, looking for some way to work itself in, and the only way to deal with a recurring samskara is to replace it with something more uplifting.

The sadness does not originate with missing my children. That is only its current justification. I experienced the same sadness when my mother died in a car wreck when I had just turned 21. I was very close to her, so the underlying sadness went on for many years. A few years later in my mid-twenties, I was filled with sadness and anxiety as well when I reached a point where I had no idea how I would come up with the money to pay the rent or buy the food. I reached times during that period when I had to borrow money from friends in order to get by.

This was the state I was in when I met my primary spiritual teacher at the age of 29, at the peak of my Saturn return. After that meeting everything changed for me. But that is another story for another time.

So, now my life is as good as anyone could reasonably ask for. I create my experience of it as I go along from day to day, just as all of us do. Today I felt to share more personally than usual, and possibly it is helpful to someone, or even to me for simply writing it down. The point is, all the old tendencies do come up from time to time. They rise into consciousness and tempt us to join them and wallow in them like we did in the old days.

My anxiety doesn’t get me too much these days, because I tell it that I’m too old to bother to worry about anything, that I won’t be around long enough for anything I could worry about to matter that much. But, because I’m this sentimental Cancer who always had a secret love of family and community, the sadness still gets me sometimes. Now when the unwanted sadness comes up, I replace it with the knowledge that everyone is happy as they are, and that all they want for me is that I also be happy.

Anyway, that’s my personal sharing regarding our friend’s letter. All the old tendencies hang around for a long time and when they arise we simply need to be strong enough to step back into our own present-moment contentment. It is easy to be content in the present moment. It’s when the mind takes us away in its concerns or its fleeting dreams of the past or future that our contentment is replaced by all the stuff of the world.

Compassion is so important in this life, and especially developing compassion for ourselves. When these old, outdated feelings, these samskaras, arise in our personal consciousness, we need to see them as they are and have compassion for ourselves for still having to deal with them. Samskaras are not who we are, yet they cause us to automatically act and react in ways we would never actually choose to.

Each of us in this world is either a puppet of the samskaras, or always remaining vigilant and ready to deal with them when they come up, ready to replace them with something greater, with some reminder such as, The only true and lasting sensation of Consciousness is love. It is true, and for this reason, it is only when we feel love that we experience our true inner Self. They are inseparable.

Love and compassion combine to form a light that dissolves all leftover stuff from the past—all the samskaras—until such stuff no longer has the capacity to rise in our consciousness and tempt us anymore. This inner light ultimately dissolves everything into complete oneness. In this light, everyone is forgiven for everything. All blame and guilt are wiped clean. The inner light reveals an unexpected perfection.

There is an inner light whether we are consciously aware of it or not. This inner light allows us to ‘see’ what we feel and think, and all that is ‘going on’ inside us. It is there even as we sleep, otherwise how would we ‘see’ our dreams? Ultimately we experience ourselves as one with the light, and then we realize that nothing else is ever actually ‘going on.’ It is all merely a momentary play of the mind.

The inner light is most accessible to us during times of lightheartedness. Be as lighthearted and cheerful as you can. Be in touch with the humor of things even when challenges appear.

Humor is always the best approach; seriousness is only the ego trying to regain control. If we can maintain lightheartedness and cheerfulness, life has a way of working out for the best. Try it—in this one area you will never be disappointed.

27 comments:

Michael said...

I just read Lesson 13. Of course I liked it, felt better for reading it, the usual. Found myself in a bit out of sorts for the last week or two. You could say I was suffering. Not that anyone had done anything to me or that there had been anything untoward happening in my life. Then I re-read the lesson, this time being conscious that the suffering was happening for a reason and intuitively knowing that the answer was not out there. So you could say I was reading with “new eyes” and I heard the lesson with “new ears” and an open heart.

There on the pages were statements to the affect that if I am waiting to “get it right” in life I am going to be dissatisfied and frustrated, and that the purpose of life is about uplifting others and spreading love, which is where meaningfulness and purposefulness can be experienced…..a door was opened…..and then something was said about COMPASSION.

Unconditional compassion is the closet seat to God {not the exact quote]. And all these pieces including the one from lesson 12 about “how we perceive others….and the nature of perceptions being creations without any inherent truth and being as myriad as there are grains of sand on the shore {not a quote] …clicked.

Everything shifted, like a stance in life shifted. There was a huge relaxation as I became “with myself”. Intellectually I could explore this and express how it came to be, but the end piece was like my meditative realization/experience of the true meaning of humility. It was one of awe at the recognition of who I truly am and who all those “others” are. And compassion is the natural expression of that grounding, where it is about ”being with”.

That being with transcends objectification and makes actions and beliefs “beside the point” or maybe pointless. I realized that I had been “fighting with myself”, an act of creating two…the very nature of duality, when in reality there is no “other”, obviously not within me…..and less obviously perhaps all those others are simply a reflection of me, not really different from me. The energy behind a painful divorce dissipated. The perception of politics, a painful drama for the last decade, changed. My relationship to life and all its players shifted [from opposition or support…to being with, acceptance].

There is more in the lesson, much more…but I wanted to share something of the profound impact this is having. I “relaxed” with this shift. Nothing has changed and everything has changed. I have not left home and yet have traveled long distances … Apropos of something else in the lesson. “Suffering is essential for having compassion” and that to have a world without suffering…. I get it for the first time. As you say in the course, embrace your karma and the “obstacles” in your life…. With love, Michael

Michelle Synnestvedt said...

Thank you for this beautiful offering about samskaras.
I especially love to be reminded that as long as we have a body we will be dancing with Karma and even if that means just simply the very strands of energy that make up the world (gunas) and create a kind of cohesion will play on us.
Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems that fluctuation of emotional states is part of being human. This pulsation much like the breath is just part of life. It only becomes problematic if we think the fluctuation is bad and own it as if it is "our" changing emotion, instead of a form of energy.
After all if everything is Supreme Consciousness than surely emotions are not the problem. Just like having a body is not a problem.
So this sweet reminder of turning kleshas( stains) into lakshmis (auspicious marks)- or holding the very things that get us down in a broader perspective so we can create more love and light out of them, is an exciting and creative process.
In a funny way, I think that the sadness or pulsation of emotion(concealment) makes the remembrance of the light even sweeter.It reminds me that not only do we have freedom to choose light but that we ARE the light.
I used to think that Oneness meant that my whole experience of the fluctuations of the world would stop. I am beginning to experience that fluctuations don't stop -just the ownership/identification to those change.

lebenskunst said...

Thank you for this blog, Ram. I've taken one of your courses for 12 years and it has made a huge difference.
I also ran into one of your sons last year and it's true, he's awesome and doing great.
Today, reading your recent entry, I understood how samskaras ARE the seeds/pattern of karma and that by vigilant observation and replacing the impulse with the high road so to speak, we can balance those karmas to be less detrimental to ourselves and those close to us.
One thing I would like to add is that "good company", people who are in our lives to help us along in our evolution are so incredibly precious and important.
Love, exactly, is the barometer and also the gift of those relationships.
Thank you again for keeping this blog.
Julia

Marta said...

I wonder if you could explain at some point what is the difference, if any, between sitting meditation and waking meditation. For me, waking meditation is a state of keen focussed attention in whatever task I am performing, that I am able to keep for long periods of time during the day. Do they both have the same 'effect' and is it possible to reach the same depth to our inner state through both of them? --Thank you in advance for your answer!

a student said...

I have found contemplating the following words to be of great help in coming into harmony with attachments and aversions.

To be free from something means that we are neither compelled to accept or reject it. We simply see it as one of the existing channels that can be tuned into, always knowing that all channels originate from the same Source.

We don't have to make it more than it is, we don't have to get lost in it, we don't have to always be allured into it or entranced by it, yet we don't have to annihilate it. It is simply one of those channels on the inner television.


Since I started the Lessons, I am happy to more consistently catch myself making certain things (well, a lot of things, to be honest) more than they are and thereby losing myself in them. A good thing for me to consider is, "well, what, then, actually is this?" I "know" it is "a form or modification of Consciousness," but what is the actual inner experience to which these words refer? What does it feel like to switch your description of a thing from "a pain in the ass" to "the play / sport / game / musical improvisation of God's infinitely playful, childlike and (dare I say?) more than occasionally mischievous Mind?"

Joseph said...

Reading Michael's Oct. 10 comment made me think of something a dear friend once said: "You can take a thousand years to get this person "right," but it only takes a second to realize you're not this person." Even in my fifties, I feel such a compulsion to try to get my life and myself the way I (more accurately, the samskaras / squatters in the subtle body) want them to be. I often find myself "doing" until I'm ready to drop. When I remember - to my relief - that "I" am not "this person," my attention suddenly and momentarily "jumps tracks" to this really cool "place" where everything is totally fine. These jumps are happening more frequently and last longer as I pursue the Course of Study. I express my deepest gratitude to the author and to my fellow students for the outpouring of devotion and grace we are privileged to bathe in each day.

Anastasia said...

Thank you for sharing from the heart and with such love. We are all together on this amazing journey home to God and as we share our personal journey with each other we progress on the path together in love. And I can only say that a remembrance of love and a sense of humor are what gets me through each day with a smile.

D. R. Butler said...

To my great joy, several comments have been posted since I've had an opportunity to respond to any of them. I love to see the interaction in the comments, and to experience our exploration of the principles as a community in real time is truly amazing grace. Twenty or so years ago, who could have imagined such a thing? I appreciate all the comments, and consider each of them to be a great contribution to the blog.

For now, I will begin with Marta's question, regarding waking meditation verses sitting meditation. We can sit and close our eyes to meditate, or we can meditate as we function in our daily life. Is one type of meditation superior to the other?

We go through many phases and cycles in our sadhana, our spiritual journey. Ordinarily, a person first has to sit and close his eyes, perhaps even put in some earplugs, to learn to meditate, or to get any idea of what meditation actually is.

Otherwise his senses continually pull him into the outer world. Meditation is an awareness of the inner world. So at first we have to withdraw our attention from the outer world in order to get any true sense of our inner world.

Over time, what was once meditation becomes our usual state, and meditation has become something that would have at first been inconceivable. And this is a process that continues as we go through life--as we continue to meditate, our meditation gradually becomes our daily waking experience.

So at first we can walk around absorbed in the other world of other people, with no idea of meditation or awareness of Self. Then we sit with closed eyes and gradually increase our awareness of the inner Self, the Awareness of Being. Later, when we have become established in this state, we can walk around fully participating in the outer world, while maintaining our inner awareness of the divine Self.

Ultimately, meditation is meditation. It is simply the awareness of the Truth of the present moment. There is not one kind verses another. As long as we have to sit with closed eyes to meditate, then we honor what is necessary and put in our time. This is why meditation is considered a 'practice.' The fruits of meditation come only through practice.

In time we can go through daily life in what we once considered to be a state of deep meditation.

An enlightened Being, or Master, is fully functional in this world while maintaining an awareness of the inner Self. At this point there is no conflict between the two--they have become one and the same. Meditation becomes meditation on the play of life.

"A student" asks "What does it feel like to switch your description of a thing from "a pain in the ass" to "the play/sport/game/musical improvisation of God's infinitely playful, childlike and (dare I say?) more than occasionally mischievous Mind?"

I liked this question. And of course the answer is quite obvious. What is "feels like" to switch our attention from the unpleasant to something more enjoyable, is infinitely playful, childlike, and occasionally mischievous.

Try it, and if it doesn't work, write back and we'll try something else.

Love to all.

Patrick said...

I have been reading your course for a few months now, and I have to admit that I am astounded by what is happening with me. I have read lots of writings from many spiritual teachers, and I am familiar with the practice and philosophy of yoga and meditation. So the ideas are not new to me. Yet there is a newness in my experience when I read the writings. My mind becomes clear in a new way, and startling insights arise that never occurred before.

I guess my question is, if the course is so potent and special for so many of us, why do more people not know about it? In a public way, it is way behind the scenes. The only way anyone can even learn of it is if someone tells them about it or they stumble across the blog. I wonder why there's not more promotion, more of an effort to increase people's awareness of the course?

William said...

I just read Patrick's comment and question, and I have to admit that I used to wonder the same thing. Over time I began to love the idea of receiving a training that only a few knew about and shared with me. It was like our little secret, and yet it makes such a big impact in each of our lives.

On the other hand, I'm a bit turned off by big spiritual scenes where thousands gather. I think that was something for the 70's through the 90's, but since then the major focus of spirituality in the West has been small groups with teachers unknown to the general public.

Once a "spiritual teacher" becomes public knowledge, he or she becomes vulnerable in a way that wasn't present before. Great teachers are always persecuted by the ignorant. That's my take. It isn't a good time for spiritual teachers going around boasting that they have something special to offer.

Just my thoughts. I look forward to seeing if D.R. will respond.

D. R. Butler said...

I appreciate Patrick's question, and also William's response to it. William is wise when it comes to the contemporary spiritual scene, and he shares some good stuff.

My own response to Patrick's question is that I experienced being a public 'spiritual teacher,' during the exact years William mentioned, and while I learned a lot from the experience, it's not something I'd care to repeat. Been there, done that, as they say.

I have no desire to advertise or promote myself or the course. I am happy that people who take the course pass it on to others through word of mouth. This way it grows through the appreciation of the participants themselves, not through promotion aimed to attract people in a public way. This maintains a certain purity in the process.

When you become public, all sorts of people come for many different reasons, not all of them dharmic. Some people show up just to bring you down. I have seen it happen to more than one teacher who became a bit too well known.

A great teacher once said: "Remain thyself unknown to all those save thyself." There is a great truth in this.

Primarily, I want the attention to be on the principles themselves, always on the teachings and never the teacher. When the teacher becomes the focus, the teachings themselves tend to get lost in outer melodrama. The teacher is very human, while the teachings can come from a place far beyond the mind and ordinary knowledge.

As a person I am fairly ordinary in all ways. There is not a holy bone in my body. I feel that I have led the whole world in mistakes. If I look back, I see that my whole life could have been lived better. I could have made better choices, better decisions, but what happened happened.

So there is no reason I should be seen as special in any way. I simply have the grace to be able to communicate certain teachings to those who are ready for them. How this happens, God only knows.

My teacher once told me that if I offered this service, this sharing of the principles of Truth, that I would never become rich, but that I would always be taken care of, and my basic needs would be met. I would be taken care of by those who appreciated and benefitted from my offering.

So I am quite happy with the small band of those who love and appreciate the lessons. I know that those who will benefit from the course will hear of it in some way; it will be attracted to those who are ready for it and who find that these words speak to them. They will know who they are and when they are ready.

One last thing: not many want to actually do what is necessary to practice the principles. You can tell a person, "Thought is creative. What you think is what you get." And they might wonder at the brilliance of that Truth. And yet, they will continue to think the most unpleasant things imaginable, they will continue to limit their perception and experience by the smallness and pettiness of their habitual thought processes.

As has been said, you can lead the horse to the water, but you can't make him drink.

So the course is for those who actually want to do what is necessary for transformation, not for those who are only interested in learning about things that they will never bother to practice in practical ways.

The first group is small; the second group is large. Patrick and William are among the first group, and I thank them for their participation in our ongoing dialogue.

Anonymous said...

After beginning to feel I am getting into a rut with work and worldly commitments, I actually used my will to practice seeing myself as pure consciousness rather than the routine thoughts I experience as "my life." When I make myself aware of Consciousness (as in "The Self is Consciousness") I experience being very present in the moment and a sense of lightness, joy, and playfulness beyond my normal awareness. Thank you for the (constant) reminders and hints at recognition of the True Self. Love, Naganath. By the way, the recommended utube video was quite thought provoking--in a good and expansive way.

Rico said...

For millennia great teachers have traditionally made their teachings available only to small groups of sincere students. The last 20 or 30 years of the last century were quite unusual from a historical perspective. Making the principles of Truth widely available served a useful purpose in the beginning to offset the general ignorance rampant in contemporary culture. But the real work is done in the smallest of groups, a group of one.

Chris said...

Hello DRB and Course Participants,

I want to share about my experience of participating in the lessons. The lesson content is great, but I’m finding that a very potent part of the course is just reading the lessons. This is very similar to my experience of previous incarnations DRB’s lessons. However, the flavor of the experience is different.

I’m going to do the best I can to put the experience into words. When I read the lessons, I feel an expansion of Awareness start somewhere in the energetic region of my heart or chest, and it expands upwards into my head and beyond. It feels concentrated near the core of my being and expands slightly outwards. It’s a subtle thing, but definitely perceptible.

The reason I wanted to mention this is that this energy, while it expands, also touches upon a feeling of total freedom and ecstasy. The effect of this experience on my mind and overall state of being is something that I would call both extraordinary and disorienting. I feel like my mind just can’t quite get it, and is actually completely addled by the experience. After reading the lesson, I often feel like someone who is awakening from a fog. The experience seems to also trigger the release of certain samskaras in a physical sense, which manifest for me as allergy types of symptoms. This is not alarming to me, because I recognize it as a purification (healing) reaction.

Anyways, I wanted to share this because I find that the experience is quite strong, and it’s quite different from what I’ve experienced with other types of spiritual work and DRB’s past writings. I’d love to read other people’s experiences or hear DRB’s perspective on it.

With Love,
Chris

Anonymous said...

about chris comment..these 2 words that he used,"fog" and "physical allergy" make a lot of sense to me and what is happening to me.
thank chris for "found the words" to tell it.

Michael said...

I've really enjoyed the comments recently. I've come to a realization about being a "teacher," too. Whenever I thought of myself as a "teacher" with "students" I found that I was prone to anger, insecurity and disappointment - in short, ego. I also found the description limited me in what I might have otherwise discovered if I thought of myself as a fellow student with a little more experience (if I thought of myself at all). That's one of the lessons I learned from you, my friend. I guess I always thought of you as my older brother rather than "my teacher."

D. R. Butler said...

I'd like to first point out that there are several people who post in the comments with the same names. For example, off the top of my head, we have more than one Michael, more than one Chris, more than one Steve, and more than one Susan who contribute comments here. If I looked over all the names, there'd probably be several more.

I don't know why I mention this, except perhaps to let you know that there are various Michaels, and so on, who share here. Lacking this awareness, all sorts of things could happen. There could be Michaels out there saying, "I didn't say that." So there are many of us. There is no reason for any of us to identify with a name. In Truth, we are nameless and formless, right?

This reminds me of a man who went up to a great Guru. The Guru asked him his name, and he replied, "I am nameless and formless." The Guru replied, "What, did you just escape from a mental institute?"

Teaching is something that happens. It's not a thing to be. Being a teacher is a lot of responsiblity with karmic consequences. Believe me, no one wants that responsibility. Teachings happen. There are teachable moments, teachable situations, etc, and those who are ready for certain teachings receive them from whatever source is available when the time is right.

The communication of a teaching happens from a very high level, from far beyond the mind. The ego gets involved when we start describing ourselves as a teacher, and I can share from experience that it is a very challenging identification to break free from.

Michael, what do you mean by "a fellow student with a little more experience?" Isn't this too only another description to identify with? How do you know you have more experience, and more experience than who? What if you have less experience, or if all experience is equal?

I prefer to consider us as participants in this process of spiritual evolution, without there having to be teachers or students. I participate by writing, and by, like those who participate by reading, applying the principles of Truth in everyday life. We are all equal participants in the game of life.

There is a whole section of the course titled "The Greatest Game Ever Invented." If you want to describe your life in any way, this is as good of a way to put it as any.

Our life, just as it is, is the greatest game ever invented. We simply have to learn the laws that govern the game.

When my boys were teens, I remember how amazed they'd be at how much better they could play their video or computer games if they read the booklet that came with it. The desire was so strong to simply plunge into the game without having any idea what the point was, or how to enjoy or master it. Yet, learning the laws that govern the game makes a big difference.

The same is true in our life. This is why we have a course to participate in -- to learn and practice the principles that govern our perception and experience of life, and which lead to eventual mastery.

All of your comments are precious to me. I enjoy our ongoing dialogue here, and I hope everyone knows that they are invited to participate and contribute in any way. There are no wrong things to say and no stupid questions. Of course, when you have "a little more experience," then you might be challenged at some point, but even that is only part of the most enjoyable, exquisite, and fulfilling game that has ever been come up with.

Enjoy your participation.

Cristóbal said...

DR,
Thanks for pointing out that there are a multitude of Chris's participating. I have no reason to be another just another Chris in the crowd, so I'll post in the future with the name "Cristobal", which is my name en espanol, even though most people call me Chris Griffin, from Wilton, NH.

In some sort of ultimate cosmic perspective I can perhaps be boiled down to a nameless and formless flow of divine consciousness, but I do have a name and a form (that needs to lose a few pounds perhaps) and so I'll continue in this game of hamming it up.

Sometimes it seems like things can get too spiritual, and I can forget that despite 15 years of yoga sadhana and other aspects of spiritual work, I'm just a normal person like everyone else out there.

Love,
Cristobal (known in other circles as Chris)

jane said...

This idea really resonates with me.. My mother died last month and my sisters and I were surprised to find out that she left us a small fortune. Money is relative, I guess what is a small fortune to one is an enormous fortune to another, and to me this was an enormous fortune. It is going to enable me to pay off my crippling student loans, buy a house, and have money for retirement... a complete transformation in my circumstances, since I was recently laid off and have no good employment prospects on the horizon.
So in the midst of this loving blessing, and basking in loving gratitude to my mom (who lived so modestly, we had no idea she owned all these mutual funds, etc), and feeling her profound love for me and my sisters... along comes this totally disconnected thought that I am the sister who gets less, poor me, if I didn't have student loans! my sisters don't have to pay student loans, they always get more than I do....YIKES!
At least I was aware enough to notice that this thought came dancing into my consciousness, this childish identification I had with Cinderella from when I was 5 years old and learned that self-pity could be a "cozy" place. (There is a reason that I ran up those loans in the first place, so that I could feel sorry for myself.)
Those samskaras can be sneaky, yes, but in my case this time they came accompanied by a marching band, and for this I thank this course. Otherwise I think I would actually believe that I was impoverished when I had just received a blessing.

Tom Chi said...

I led a horse to water,
I made him drink.
He may have been in
the mood to do so...

who knows?

Either way,
I'm too modest to speak
of humility. ;-)

Ram, thank you for singing
the truth. It alwasy tastes
the same... new, old
and totally completely delight
and satisfying.

Mike V said...

I just wanted to ask Ram if he knows of exchanges of energy between people.

I have had experiences of having lots of positive energy, then having it depleted after talking to someone on the phone or having someone sit next to me. In one case, I spoke to the same person days later and found out she was having the same vibrant energy I had had before the conversation.

What would cause "leakage"/lack of containment of shakti, or fruits of possitivity with certain persons? All these people are spiritual aspirants.

Cristóbal said...

Good morning everyone,

I would like to bring up a concept related to a teaching from the course that I have been contemplating on and off for many years. It's related to the following statement from Lesson 4:

“No matter what happens to or around us, we are affected only by what we think about those things, not by the things themselves. We are affected by how we describe incidents to ourselves and not by the incidents themselves.”

I can accept this on some level, but it seems like a very Vedantic approach, like saying that the world is illusion and that only our reactions to it affect us. However, I strongly believe that the world we live in is a living divine manifestation. I guess this is more Shaivite.

I relate it to another concept from the same lesson: that we each live in our own worlds, and we only “share the same stage props”. So the stage props in this statement is the physical manifestation of world that surrounds us, that we live in. My friend Pete once suggested that I contemplate “What do we truly share in common?” In truth, we share the same Self. But we also share these stage props. Are the stage props the Self? Yes, we arrive back to the assertion that the world we live in is living divine.

I have been blessed with many amazing teachers in this life, they also are part of that living divine world. Regardless of what kind of state my mind was in, what I was thinking on any occasion when I interacted with one of my teachers, I have always been blessed with uplifting energy, healing medicine, and profound guidance from these teachers. So it really didn’t ultimately come down to what I though of them, it came down to their gifts, blessings, teachings and their own alignment with God.

Another aspect is nature: there are places one can go that can change your mood, change your day, or change your life because this divine world really is that powerful. I have experienced this numerous times despite my bad mood and my bad attitude. This once again is because the natural world is again a divine manifestation. Indigenous spirituality really expresses this beautifully, honoring the spirits of plants, animals, mountains, rivers, and so on. These are real, and they do affect us regardless of what we might think about them.

I guess what this ultimately comes down to is that the Divine, call it what you will, does exist and has an effect on us regardless of whatever trouble our minds come up with. I do still believe that our openness to this (our mind activity) can have a great deal of effect on whether we walk willingly with the Divine, or whether we are dragged through the wringer by the Divine.

I hope this sparks some interesting conversation, this is something I’ve been looking at for years in my own life, and it’s also fun to “stir the pot”!
Love,
Chris

D. R. Butler said...

To Mike V., we can dissipate our inner energy when we become too involved or focused on others. If we maintain an inner focus on the same Self we all share in common, then there is no leakeage of energy.

Christobal, as an individual, of course we are influenced by the vibrations of the world around us. When we come across someone who is highly developed, we are naturally uplifted by his or her state. A sunset on the beach indeed has a different vibration than, say, a sandstorm. And we are affected and influenced by the vibrational influences around us. This is a part of life.

Still, there is no doubt whatsoever that we are primarily affected by what we think of things and how we describe things to ourselves moreso than the things themselves.

A person on the beach at sunset might be overwhelmed with the egotistical melodramas going on in her mind and emotions. A person in a sandstorm might have an experience of God.

The world is created from the inside out. What is now within determines what will be without. Never underestimate your innate and inherent power to create your own personal reality. We do it all the time, except for the most part we do it subconsciously, repeating habitual patterns.

Once we are fully present in the existing moment, we have the opportunity to live into a future of love, beauty, harmony, and joy. When these qualities are our primary focus, external influences no longer have the power to affect us, unless we recognize them to be uplifting and freeing.

After everything is hashed and rehashed again, it still eventually comes down to what you think is what you get.

D. R. Butler said...

Nice to hear from old friend Tom Chi.

Sylvia said...

Regarding the UTube video you recommended, Ram: we loved the concept and the visuals, but had trouble hearing the words because the music was too loud. We watched it several times. Did anyone else have the difficulty?

Lesson 28 boggled our minds and yet, like Naganath said, it's like candy to go over the lesson in study group every 2 weeks. Not that it's candy at the beginning of 2 wks...more like grinding through intense internal shifting. How totally amazing that we get to the end of the 2 weeks and experience it as sweetness. We are all exceedingly grateful to Ram, Kay, seen and unseen great beings for their work, love and much needed contribution to uplifting all of us taking this course. We also wanted to thank Chris for his perfect explanation of putting words to the experience of reading the lessons. I love the blog and the Blogger's words of wisdom. Love to all, sylvia

Taylor said...

I've been reading Lesson 7 over the past 2 weeks and I am very grateful to now have a deeper understanding of the term "abundance consciousness" - especially in these times. Thank you D. R.!

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