Friday, October 1, 2010

The Sadhana of Relationships

‘Sadhana’ is the process of consciously participating in spiritual growth, or the exercises or methods we practice for personal development and Self-mastery, leading toward what is thought of as ‘enlightenment’ or ‘Self-realization.’

There are as many different forms of sadhana as there are types of people, and no two have exactly the same sadhana. We have different dispositions, different personalities, and different needs on the level of the soul. Yet everything is amazingly arranged for each of us to get exactly what we need at the exact time that we need it.

One of the primary forms sadhana takes for almost everyone is that of relationship. This does not necessarily mean that we are in a committed or ‘romantic’ relationship, although we might be. Even monks and swamis live in relationship to each other, if no one else. Whether we are involved in a committed relationship or not is determined entirely by karma, and not by the luck of the draw. Nothing in this world is random or purely coincidental; nothing happens by chance or accident. The karmic web we have spun for ourselves, and which we undergo a cycle of during this physical incarnation, is structured very exactly according to immutable, infallible, and undeviating natural laws.

In the broadest sense, we are ‘in relationship’ with everyone we come in contact with, with everyone in our karmic sphere. While we are in line we come into relationship with the clerk at the store. Paying the toll as we drive on certain highways, or to cross certain bridges or tunnels, we are briefly in relationship with the toll-taker at the toll booth. If the car breaks down we come into relationship with the mechanic who hopefully gets us going again.

So the exploration of the principles of relationship should not be thought of as being limited to ‘real and lasting’ relationships (everything is permanent as long as it is happening), but in terms of our interactions with everyone in our lives. Even so, many of us function as a vital member of a ‘couple,’ and it is especially good to understand the underlying elements and factors of relationship in such cases.

For many people, their primary relationship contains the most intense sadhana that they are faced with. Truly speaking, relationships are a great sadhana, equal in intensity and effectiveness to the sadhana of sannyasi. Successful relationships do not come easily, and maintaining the harmony and balance of a relationship can be an exquisite sadhana taking place on the very highest and most expanded levels of our being.

Now for a brief announcement relevant to those who participate in the course by email:

In the very first blog entry, posted July 14, 2008, the titles of the sections of the course were listed as:

Living in the Truth of the Present Moment
What You Think Is What You Get
The Evolution of Wisdom
How Feeling Creates Reality
Attention, Conscious Intent, and Will
Our Amazing Capacity to Change
The Incredible Power of Feelings
The Importance of Priorities
The Greatest Game Ever Invented
The Ego and Beyond
The Inner State
The Art of Flowing
Love Is Where the Heart Is
Growth Through Relationships
God in Human Form
The Mastery of Life
Attaining the Highest Now
Living in Your Own Secret Heaven
Entering the Stillness
Establishing Joy in Your Heart

So far, during the first two years of the course, we have followed this outline exactly, as people entering their third year are in the section titled, The Incredible Power of Feelings, which has been a very powerful section of the course for everyone.

However, with relationships on various levels existing in the lives of everyone save perhaps the most secluded and dedicated hermit, we are moving up our extensive exploration of relationships, titled Growth Through Relationships, to come immediately following The Importance of Priorities, and now preceding The Greatest Game Ever Invented.

I know that many old-time participants simply see the next lesson as the next lesson, and many of them might have no idea, were we to press them for an answer, what section of the course they are in. Other people, however, like an overview of things, and this ‘announcement’ is simply to keep such people up to date.

We are indeed involved in many relationships to various degrees, so we might as well be afforded the opportunity to practice the highest principles of relationship without any further delay, and while we are younger instead of when we’re older. This way we won’t go through life wondering, Why wasn’t I aware of such knowledge when I truly needed it?

On the subject of relationships, I recently received the following letter. Since the writer touches on many points I have heard in various ways from other people, I am quoting from her letter rather extensively:

“After many years of studying and practicing the principles laid out so clearly in your course, my husband and I have each reached a miraculous level of freedom on the inside, a level of contentment and the pure joy of life I never would have believed possible if I hadn’t lived it in my own life. I’ll always be grateful for the huge part you’ve played in that.

“But here’s the thing, and when it’s up it’s a really BIG thing, and it’s up a LOT these days (like whenever we’re in each other’s company for more than a few minutes): Seems like there’s always been this obstacle in relationship with ‘the man in my life’ (whoever he might be at the time) that comes up at a certain point and eventually leads to the demise of the relationship.

“I recognize that it’s a samskara and yet no matter how strong my intention to catch myself going into reactive mode before it escalates into a full-blown screaming match, I still take what my husband says personally, go into a hurtful feeling that blindsides me, and then turn all that fury I perceived in him back on him.

“So here we are, still reading our lessons, still determined that our marriage-as-sadhana be as free of reactivity as humanly possible, yet still reacting to each other’s words/silences, reactions/non-responsiveness, tone of voice/facial expressions, and various other slights (imagined and otherwise) and excuses for diving into the samskara once again.

“And then the bickering that we both hate so much starts as if there’s nobody home to make a choice about it and on many days escalates into explosive anger. So imagine all that, right in the middle of a life that is otherwise wonderful, and you see why I’m writing to you.

“I know that we both desire only to live a life of freedom and fun and loving compassionate service in each other’s company, yet here we are after all these years still wasting our precious time and shakti bickering like the people you describe in my current lesson. And there I go, saying ‘we’ again. I know I should focus on what ‘I’ am doing and not what ‘we’ are doing if I actually hope to change anything.

“I’ve already tried everything except writing to you, and it’s frustrating and embarrassing to realize that no matter what I do I can’t seem to get past this obstacle on my own. I need help before this one takes me down yet another road to a split-up (which sometimes feels like the only compassionate thing we could do for each other if old dogs really can’t learn new tricks).
Please help. I remain,
Your Loving and Grateful Student”

Let’s look at this letter and see what we can learn from it. A significant clue is found right here: ”Seems like there’s always been this obstacle in relationship with ‘the man in my life’ (whoever he might be at the time) that comes up at a certain point and eventually leads to the demise of the relationship.”

In that one sentence alone she sets herself up and creates the possibility for all else to follow. There’s ‘always’ (key word) been this ‘obstacle in relationship’ (key phrase) with the ‘man in my life’ (another key phrase) that ‘eventually leads to the demise of the relationship’ (the crux of her particular pattern.)

Then she describes the process perfectly: ‘I still take what my husband says personally, go into a hurtful feeling that blindsides me, and then turn all that fury I perceived in him back on him.’

Finally she brings up the scourge of relationships: ‘the bickering that we both hate so much.’ Oh, the endless bickering. How many of us would love more than anything to finally be free from that one, while at the same time enjoying the company of a pleasant companion and playmate? So often it seems we can’t have one without the other.

I have often heard that ‘it takes two to bicker.’ However I beg to differ. It only takes one to bicker. If one goes into bickering mode, the only thing the other can do is deal with it the best he can. From the bickerer’s perspective, the other trying to deal with it is perceived as bickering back. In truth, if the first ceased to bicker, all appearance of bickering would cease as well. It just takes one to bicker, and then we get the mirror. If we’re the one bickering, we should at least be spiritually mature enough to take responsibility for what we are doing.

Anyway, our letter writer says there is ‘always’ an obstacle with the ‘man in her life’ that leads to the ‘demise of the relationship.’ Well, she’s certainly set up things to flow right along with their usual patterns. Of course, her concept itself, this whole chain of thoughts and this description she’s presenting as her reality, IS the obstacle. The whole problem is established in the words of this one sentence of hers, which she accepts as her reality.

Then, she acknowledges, she takes something her husband says personally, is ‘hurt’ by his words, then unleashes the full fury of her anger upon him in retribution, to punish him for what he said that hurt her—even though she actually hurt herself by hearing or interpreting his words in a habitual and predictable way that is her pattern of being ‘hurt’ so that she can more easily justify her ‘anger’.

You can believe that she is highly identified with anger as an essential aspect of her true nature, and something that she feels she can’t do a thing about as it’s such an ingrained aspect of who she thinks is. To keep it going she has to come up with a lot of imagined slights.

She has to stop thinking of herself as a potentially angry person. And, to the same degree, she must stop projecting that anger onto anyone else, seeing it as ‘their’ anger, or ‘their bickering,’ or even ‘our bickering.’ As long as any problem or conflict is ‘ours’, or a matter of something that ‘we do,’ we set it up so that we don’t actually have to work with it or change ourselves in any way. For actual transformation, we have to first own it, and recognize that it is ours alone, not something we share with another. She must stop seeing anger altogether, or allowing for the possibility of anger within the sphere of the relationship.

Anger is perfectly natural and in certain situations the healthiest and most dharmic route to take. Yet, when it becomes such a primary feature of a relationship to the degree that it leads to habitual bickering, then it’s not true anger. It is more accurately ‘hostility.’ Hostility is not a verb, not something we ‘do,’ nor is it something we are. It is a state that we sometimes resort to, or if we’re really afflicted by it, a state we habitually live in as though it is the most natural way for a person to be when having to deal with this world.

If the husband had written me and described what was going on from his point of view, I am sure it would have been a totally different perspective, and who knows what I might have said to him? Since she was the one to write, however, the only response is to let her know what she most needs to understand about herself and what she can do to help transform the situation.

Remember that in relationships it is never a matter of who is right or wrong. So you prove him wrong and yourself right, so what? What has been accomplished or attained by that? Did it escort you right along in your sadhana? Actual spiritual growth happens to a greater degree when we are proven wrong than when we are proven right, so why be so attached to being right? When we are proven wrong, at least we can learn something new and grow. If we are proven right, what have we gained other than an inflated ego?

She closes her letter by saying: “I need help before this one takes me down yet another road to a split-up (which sometimes feels like the only compassionate thing we could do for each other if old dogs really can’t learn new tricks).”

Once again she is focusing on the ‘road to a split-up.’ This is behind everything for her. This is the substratum from which her mind operates. She won’t simply relax and enjoy what she has and accept being together as a happy couple.

I happen to have known this couple for many years. I know her husband, and I am certain that he’s never once considered the idea of ‘splitting up’ with her, as he has told me as much. It is all her thing, centered around her predominant samskara that ruled all past relationships. It has nothing whatsoever to do with her husband. He himself is a happily married man. All this stuff she writes about, she does to herself. She creates the whole thing from scratch, based on her own past, and having nothing to do with her actual existing relationship.

So the only true answer is another question: when will she stop doing it? When will she stop projecting some future split up? She affects herself, she impacts her husband, and she also affects their relationship by inflicting this. She must realize that it is her own old pattern, as she herself knows that her husband is her ‘current man.’ Even from how she uses that particular phrase, with the word ‘current,’ you see how she doesn’t naturally think in terms of stability. It’s ‘current’ now but will be something different later, according to her thinking.

She has been given a wonderful relationship. Hopefully she will wake up and enjoy it and finally appreciate it for what it truly is.

And she better not dare think, Or what? Does this mean that otherwise it will be over? After all this discussion, that would just be taking things a bit too far. I’d have to advise him, She’s right, you’d better leave her. Otherwise she’ll drive us both crazy.

We have room for one exchange from the comments following the September 1 entry:

Rico: I've noticed that emotions often arise with no apparent external stimuli. When the emotion is pleasant, contentment is usually experienced. But if the emotion is unpleasant, the mind kicks in with reasons for the feelings or a search for where this emotional "attack" came from. What's making me feel this way? If I follow this where the mind leads, the feeling usually gets stronger. If I ignore the mind the unpleasantness often dissipates in short order.

DRB: Astute observations as always, Rico. This movement of emotions is actually the activity of the subtle body or astral body. We explore this in depth in our course, as you know. Feelings most definitely have a life of their own, relatively speaking.

As explored thoroughly in the course, we can think of the natural progression of the Creative chain from the Universal to the individual as beginning with pure, unmodified and unconditioned Consciousness. From here is a 'link' to higher mind (in Sanskrit, Buddhi), which we recognize consciously as 'intuition.' If we are open and receptive to intuitive guidance, we allow that to gently influence will, which is the next realm, from which we act and move and have our power (either consciously or subconsciously).

Hopefully we apply will to use vigilance regarding what we think, since thought is creative energy. Either conscious or subconscious application of will directs the conscious mind (manas in Sanskrit), and from there the flow of manifestation goes to the emotional realm (as experienced within the subtle body), and finally from there directly to the physical body. It is quite a chain of events, and the above delineates the flow of creation from the Universal to the individual.

You are absolutely right, when we inexplicably feel good, we don't associate those feelings with patterns of past thought. We might wonder if we unknowingly digested something wonderful or if someone slipped something into our drink, but usually we simply accept such blissful feelings as natural and unrelated to cause. We think, "I feel good today. Must be good vibes in the air." Actually, the 'good vibes' exist within our own subtle network.

When negative emotions come up—which are among the chief obstacles to sadhana or spiritual growth—they are immediately associated with all the samskaras and vasanas we have stored up that we think are the 'cause' of our unrest and discomfort.

Truly speaking, they are exactly the cause of our unrest and discomfort, but not in the way we ordinarily think, which is to 'blame' persons or circumstances. Blame is totally misguided energy and we will do well to be rid of that one, in all its forms and manifestations, as soon as possible. Breaking free from blame introduces more integrity and less perversity in our lives.

For this reason, and the practical point of all this, now that you got me started, is when unpleasant feelings arise, it is VERY IMPORTANT to not associate or attach those feelings to thoughts or memories, because once we’ve done this, we are entangled in their net until we finally manage to break free once again, usually only after some help.

If we can refrain from associating the unpleasant feeling with thoughts of any nature, and simply observe the feeling itself—watching it as a vibration along the nervous system—we immediately distance ourselves from it. Once we can simply observe it as a nervous vibration without any reaction to it, and without attaching any significance to it, we withdraw all power from it, and it becomes helpless and impotent right then and there. If we maintain our observation with great vigilance, the unpleasant pattern will never come up or bother us again.

In a sense, this can be understood as a microcosm of the process that leads to eventual freedom or liberation even while in this body.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com

71 comments:

Sea Goddess Treasures said...

adathI recently read an internet article on Yahoo which listed some signs of how happy you are...

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/lifeslittlepleasures/9-signs-youre-happier-than-you-think-2392659/

Among the list was that you photos of happy times...
I thought about this...and I do not believe that just thinking about the "past" happy times makes you happy in the present moment but I DO think that remembering the happiness and joyful feelings of that moment ...helps a person to bring that feeling into the present moment. After contemplating this, it seems to me that joy and bliss are always present in each moment., especially in the shakti of your own personal being......It is just a matter of whether you take the time to meditate, remember, and focus on those feelings of joy... In the privacy of your own being, it is really important to create your own constant connections to that "feeling" of joy, happiness, love, bliss...whatever you want to call it...It is available...where are you at in the privacy of your own self...what connections are you making to yourself...?? Couple and work relationships are super difficult sometimes but I have been observing that there are people who just want to try and push your buttons (because it gives them a sense of power and validity)....when this starts happening to me, I am taking time to observe my own buttons but still staying strong to connect to the awakened meditation energy I am cultivating within me which connects immediately to joy and bliss. When my husband or co worker might start in on "something" hot button, it's the REAL opportunity...the ONLY opportunity to really be your own true self, the one you connect to in the privacy of your own being. if you are not connecting to this PLACE...observe the moments when you are happy, contemplate them, connect to them, take a little bit of that blissful feeling and store it up in your personal inner self privacy bank for those "relationship moments"...
Believe me, I am not any perfect person, I have have to work really hard at this...it is hard when you are in relationships to not feel like "if the other person isn't doing it" then somehow you "can't" do it and you want to protect yourself by running away or breaking up. All I can tell you bout this is that this is when "prayer" can kick in...the best prayer is asking yourself to remember your bliss...those pinked up blue spot fuzzy moments of bliss...vibrate this bliss...be that bliss... challanging?...you bet you...is it the battlefield of your existance? The answer is a resounding YES!

tdh said...

Seems to me you might be giving the husband in that relationship more benefit of the doubt that he may deserve. He may have told you that it's all her, but unless you've been living with them I wouldn't necessarily believe him -- not that he would willfully lie, but even with somebody who's been taking the course for a long time, doing sadhana a long time, especially in relationships, there can be a lot of denial. And, as you say earlier in your post, it takes two to bicker.

Nancy said...

tdh, I can see why you say what you did, so this is in response. Since I am the woman who wrote the letter DR is quoting from, I might be the only one who can say for sure that DR's comments are spot-on, and were invaluable to my seeing something I need to see in myself that has mostly been a blind spot for me for many years.

I might also add that in all the years my husband and I have studied with DR, his guidance to either of us when we came to him has always been exactly what we needed to hear at the time.

I can see that it might seem as though DR is giving the husband the benefit of the doubt, but in this particular case he is totally accurate on all counts. I only hope I can fully imbibe the lesson he has imparted to me, for it is exactly what I need to learn for my own freedom and growth.

Colette said...

When I am in a relationship, and I find that automatic reaction part coming up,I find laughter and teasing myself to be the fastest route back to love. It is never about the other person. The more I work on myself the more the other person changes because my perspective has changed.

Life is such a wonderful adventure, we are all so blessed to be in this together. Love and Respect to all, Karuna

D. R. Butler said...

My how you've changed since I've changed.

Chimene said...

Thank you Ram for this blog entry. It has a prefect timing for me, as I have been working on my relationship with my mother, and it's a relationship that has accumulated a lot of heavy emotions. So we are working on making it more harmonious, and the course has helped me a lot in this, learning to take responsibility for my emotions and also stop feeling guilty for the so called wrongs I did to her.

The therapist said something to me today that sounded like something straight from the course. It really touched me: "why do you still think her suffering has anything to do with you". It was an 'aha' moment.

Love and courage to all those who strive to create loving and harmonious relationships.

Scott Marmorstein said...

This post makes me contemplate my relationship to dharma.

Scott Marmorstein said...

Like, what is my relationship to my dharma on any given topic in any given moment? How do I know for real what the right thing to do, moment by moment, really is? Thank you, Ram.

Anonymous said...

Scott you will feel good about the right thing, sometimes nothing is the right thing to do.

Renee said...

You’ve been talking on Facebook about how so many of us are stuck letting past memories and conditioning drive us. I wondered if I could share something with you, and find out if it’s what you are talking about.

Every time I read about past conditioning, I remember a time when my parents were out of town and my boyfriend and I stopped by their house to check up on it. We were in our 20s at the time, so we were pretty responsible. We noticed my mom’s car had a flat tire and my boyfriend helpfully offered to change it for them so they didn’t have to deal with it when they walked in the door. While he poked around through the car looking for the jack and spare and such, I kept getting more and more anxious, not knowing why. I tried to ignore it. But all of a sudden, I saw my domineering, controlling father yelling at me for messing around with his stuff. I was momentarily transported back to a time when I was just a child and in trouble. It felt so real that I called off our effort. It was like it actually happened. I can’t imagine a clearer example of past conditioning affecting my perception of the present. I’m grateful for the experience, for it helps me visualize something of what you are talking about. If I hadn’t had that vision of my father, I would have just been anxious, not knowing why.

I know what you are talking about is far more subtle than this, but I’m hoping this is a good overt example of the subtle principle.

SriKalima said...

Amazing to read through the dismantling of someones long time suffering. May it be lasting & complete.

Often people have told me that I need to watch out for other people faults, that I give others to much credit. But I don't see how that would help sadhana at all? Isn't it better to stay focused on yourself? Knowing that you are the one in the relationship with an a-hole, or whatever the problem is, and the other person is doing fine with themselves ?

Scott I sympathize with your question. Just this morning I came to the conclusion that the only way to know for sure what to do, is to know it's your last day on earth. Tomorrow is another last day. That and "Fu<k all the bullish*t" ;) normally I would not write this kind of comment, but today is a last day... And it just feels right to say~

Colette said...

Just trying to hook up. somehow it did not take after my first Comment.

D. R. Butler said...

Renee, you are absolutely correct. That is a sterling example of conditioning. The way the fear and anxiety came up for you in the same way it had when you were a small girl is exactly what we are talking about. Most of us are conditioned in so many similar ways without ever realizing it, yet it is one of the most important things to see about ourselves. Only when we see how fully conditioned we are do we have any hope of ever breaking free from it. Most people assume they are free and independent and make their own choices and decisions, having no idea whatsoever how much is determined by prior conditioning.

Peter said...

DR, sometimes in the course it seems that a particular lesson, or a certain section of the course, goes up a level from where we were before then. It's like everything is suddenly taken to a whole new level. How does this happen? How do you do this? How do you suddenly uplevel everything from where we were just a lesson earlier?

D. R. Butler said...

Peter, that's an interesting question. I'd love to know the answer. It has nothing to do with anything I do. I simply type the lesson. It's very similar to taking dictation. I hear the words in my inner mind and I type them down. Sometimes the Shakti, or however we wish to think of the guiding force behind our course, takes things up a level, and there is an escalation or an elevation. It is a very mysterious process, and happens far beyond anything the mind could comprehend. I am just happy to be along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

Not only that, Peter, but the other strange thing happens as I read the lesson over the 2week period towards the end questions arise that are promptly answered in the following lesson. So the bus DR is driving not only generates the guidance but also my heartfelt seeking preceeding it!!! Sorry couldn't keep quiet on this one it is just plain peculiar.
Love
ER

Renee said...

Ok, since I am on the right track and this seems to be an important point...

I was at a playground with my kids, husband, and his mother. The kids did something and both my husband and his mother said, "bonk" at the same moment. I never would have said it under those conditions. Why would they both say it?

I think I saw something incredible at that moment. If my mother in law hadn't been there, and my husband said something, it never would have crossed my mind that it was a conditioned thing to say. But here they were, both together. Perhaps she taught it to him as a child, and he'll teach it to our kids, and them to theirs and so on and so on. And through such simple acts of transmission, repeated over years, our personalities are formed.

Our responses, even simple outbursts, have been given to us by others. The ones that cause us pain are the ones we should look at first, like when I become so anxious when I'm late getting somewhere that I snap at whoever is around. (That's my mom and her dad, and so on back through history)

Thank you so much for helping me muddle through this. One of the gifts of the course as I see it is that it's written so that I can make personal connections with what you are saying. Every other book out there is saying the same things, but so impersonally that I can't connect. I'm so grateful to have found these lessons!

With heartfelt gratitude,
Renee

D. R. Butler said...

Renee, that 'bonk' perfectly illustrates how things get passed down through the generations. Most of us understand that once we know a person's parents, we immediately have a better understanding of that person. What would really amaze most of us is if we could go back and see our great-grandparents and great-great grandparents--we would be amazed at how many things would be the same, how many traits, characteristics, and tendencies get passed down through the generations.

I once watched a well-trained woman at a blackboard asking a couple she knew nothing about all she could find out about both their family trees--even getting details of uncles and aunts and grandparents and great-grandparents and back as far as she could reach with either of them. Then, once she got all the information she could gather, she went through the most amazing explanation of various patterns running through both their families and down the generations, explaining in great detail who was doing what and why, and when she finally came down to the two of them she gave them so much information about themselves and what they do and how they relate to each other that she couldn't have possibly known except what their family trees told her. The couple was absolutely astonished, and I have to admit I was fairly amazed myself at how obvious everything was once you had all the facts.

Your comment is filled with insights, and you really do have a very good homespun understanding of things. Even the thing about snapping at whoever is around when you're late getting somewhere. You would have no idea how common that is and how prevalent it is in our culture, it's just one of those things most people never mention. I would bet that most people reading this feel the same way, and get anxious and cranky whenever they're late getting going to where they're supposed to be.

My remedy for that particular ailment is the reminder and affirmation that we'll get where we're going at the perfect time. In fact, in the years I've practiced this, I'd have to say that it's never yet been wrong. I, or we, if I was with someone else, always, and without any exception, invariably got where we were going at the absolute perfect time.

When this is the case, when we always get where we're going at the perfect time, why worry about whether we're late leaving or not? Relax and enjoy the journey, for the journey is always more fun than the destination.

Thank you for continuing to share with us in such honest and open ways.

Renee said...

Thank you, Ram! It must be true that we get there when we are supposed to get there. So obviously true! Because that's when we got there.

One last observation on being late. Once, when I was sitting at a stop light, feeling late and anxious, I noticed that I wasn't seeing myself sitting in the car at the red light. In my mind, I was already at the destination. The agitation was caused by the disconnect between where my body was and where my mind was.

Now, if I can re-realize that - using the anxiety as a cue that I'm not living in the truth of the present moment - then I can laugh at how funny I am to cause myself so much grief. ;)

Colette said...

I had an amazing morning this morning, I lost my Wallet. I started to go down an old familiar road of contraction and self flagellation, and instead i just stopped and said nope, not going there and all the icky contraction and bad feeling Just went away. It was awesome and I feel great. DOING the PRACTICES CONTINUOUSLY OVER TIME WORKS! Love to all, Karuna

Naganath said...

Having just experienced the novel Matterhorn by Carl Marlantes, I have been dreaming of establishing perimeters during nights in the jungle of Vietnam during the war, intense heightened awareness, and vigilance, etc. Last night, during one of these dreams I entered a subtle space within my body very difficult to describe. It felt very powerful and energetic; it was orange and intensely physical on a subtle level. To maintain the energy, I felt I had to breathe very strongly and was doing so in a half-sleep state. Garuda said it woke her up and that my body was trembling. What's that all about? I felt positive and shaktified.
(Matterhorn is one of the most powerful books I have ever read; it is a novel of an American Lieutenant's experience during the Vietnam war.) Oh, and I had read Vol. 2 Lesson 3 out loud just before going to sleep.

Ekatman said...

This is a lesson in itself

Funny, my girlfriend and I rarely fight about anything... and when we do we laugh almost immediately.

Yesterday was our first "fight" over silly matters, a samskara got out of control...

Now we have talked about it and strangely I feel even more inlove with her...

What surprises me it is the timing of this blog posts and the lessons and what actually happens in my life.

Renné I totally relate! To have expectations that someone has expectations about us gives us the jitters if we are not in compliance...

But as the course says, all that happens only in our thoughts and imagination.

A few years ago, I was practicing more to be aware of the feeling of being alive and try to keep it as permanent as my attention could possible hold to the experience.

But in between that experience I was (and still are) very self counscious about what others thought about me... and then an aha moment... why would I think of the thoughts of other people, since when I became a "mind reader"? Why not instead of relating to them as "minds" relate to them as Pure Beings!

Well, this is an advice that I have to listen again! How beautiful!

Love

Ekatman

D. R. Butler said...

When people tell me what they think, I say, 'I don't even care what I think. Why would I care what you think?'

Taylor said...

Ram,
In my current lesson, you write about how the outer world is simply maya's movie and we -the universal "I" witness the movie. Since the universal "I" already knows everything, are there lessons to be learned from the movie?

D. R. Butler said...

Depends on whether it's the universal 'I' asking the question or someone else, and if someone else, who it might be.

The universal 'I' wouldn't ask the question, already knowing all that is known.

Therefore, whoever is asking the question does have lessons to learn, primarily that only the universal 'I' exists.

Barbara said...

What an incredibly rich lesson! Peter and I were "reeling" from it. We are definitely going to be re-reading this one a lot between now and 10/15.

I meant to enter this in the blog, but could not figure out how, so feel free if it merits being copied into the blog to do so. Here are my musings from this lesson so far:

I was pondering the principle of "the thought originally initiates the feeling, but then the feeling takes off and runs its own course faster than the mind can keep up with it."

It seems to me that 'feeling' as in energetic sensations vs. emotions (which I feel are merely a certain category of feelings) are already and always present and, only when they are substantial enough to get the attention of the mind/ego, do we actually bring thought/thinking to that feeling as a way of explaining it, appreciating it, etc.

After all, before our brain grew in the capacity to learn 'language' we were experiencing feelings that as a baby, toddler, child, we could only act out. I love how the Toltec's refer to this stage as becoming 'domesticated'.

So, I have been trying to practice more and more, feel the feeling and watch the thinking. The more deeply I can feel a feeling in my body, the more I experience being able to work it out or through as a way of releasing it, if I think it is "bad for me" or increasing it if I think it is good for me.

Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Blessings,
Barbara

D. R. Butler said...

Barbara, I agree. The more we experience our feelings in the body, the more 'alive' we actually are. If we aren't conscious of our current feeling (energetic sensation, as you put it) in the physical body, we are missing out on our very life. It is passing us by without our even noticing that it is happening. So I agree that your practice of feeling the feelings in the body is very effective in eliminating what is bad for you and increasing what is good for you.

Taylor said...

lol - got "me" - whoever that is. The more that I identify with the universal "I", the more light-hearted I am and the movie becomes a comedy - as in, it's hard to take much seriously!
Have a great weekend everyOne.

Anonymous said...

I am aware of doing something wrong and someting right. This happened a few days ago and would like to know how to deal with it please as it usually happens in different ways although it has reduced in frequence and intensity. I went to an old Saxon church for a school thing really early. I was totaly alone and the organ player was practicing his Bach and I felt an instant total release of Ahhhhhhhh, no descriptions, words, thoughts just....After a while two other mothers came, sat behind me and started talking loudly and continuously. It was like someone poking the blue fluid orb filling the church. I tried to rise above it but got increasingly entangled in mind chatter. However when the kids entered the orb of Ahhh became so intense that nothing mattered anymore and I wallowed blisslfully in sky blue goo for the rest of the day. Question: why it that the more I surrender to a bliss state the more violent the occasional jerks feel?
ER

Taylor said...

On to another topic in my current lesson: you write that grace is the power that enables us to do sadhana or even to aspire to in the first place. Also, that without grace spiritual work has no apparent value and there is no aspiration to undertake it.
I've wondered why some folks seem to have no interest in what I find the most valuable aspect of life. When I started seeking, one day I actually challenged Spirit that if it was really listening and aware of "me", then show me a sign. I got a sign that day. Once we start looking inside and asking the big questions - like who am I and what do I want in life, is that when we draw grace to us and once we receive grace, then we are inspired to pursue sadhana?

Jane said...

Ram – I trust your judgment about whether these questions should be posted on the blog or not because I’m not sure I can express myself concisely and coherently.

I’m having trouble with the section of the course entitled “How Feeling Creates Reality.” I am able to witness, interrupt negative thoughts and replace them with uplifting thoughts (though not always as quickly as I would like to) but I am having a lot of difficulty practicing the feelings I would have if “…our creation were already real.” (Lesson 21)

What I’m noticing is that either feelings of unworthiness are surfacing or I just can’t experience any feeling (i.e. drawing a blank). I’m having trouble sorting out what I can do to address or transcend this obstacle. (I am continuing to read and practice the lessons as best I can on a daily basis.) I’ve asked myself various questions: Am I trying too hard – i.e. coming from the head instead of the heart? Is it the anava mala? What patterns/samskaras are inhibiting my practice? Am I depressed and need to explore further resources to address that problem? Or perhaps I just need to continue witnessing and practicing replacing the negative thoughts and feelings and not be so concerned with my ego’s assessment of ‘my’ progress?

Obviously, I’m confused and realize that it is not necessarily possible for you to answer the above questions in entirety but any suggestions are welcome. With love and gratitude for the course and the blog, Jane

D. R. Butler said...

ER, when you fully surrender to a state of bliss, you are only surrendering to your own true nature, as bliss is the 'ananda' aspect of Satchitananda--the Sanskrit term for our true and eternal nature. (The other two are Consciousness or Awareness, and Light or Truth.) So it's not that you're surrendering to something outside yourself or other than your own inner Self. When you fully surrender into your own Being, everything is equally included and nothing is left out.

At this point there are no longer any 'jerks.' You experience 'jerks' now because you have not fully encompassed the whole, and still perceive certain things as existing outside the bliss.

"I've wondered why some folks seem to have no interest in what I find the most valuable aspect of life." Taylor, this is a question that probably everyone here has had at some point. I know I have. Why aren't they interested in what is obviously so important? This has always been a source of great puzzlement.

For example, there is so much great stuff available freely here in this blog, since its inception over two years ago. There is a whole course available right here, for those who do not wish to commit to the true course via email, yet how many people actually come here? Not many, considering what is available.

Even people who know about the blog, and who understand that we explore the principles of the Truth of Being, rarely take the time to come here. There are so many other things so important, and no time is left for spiritual development.

Grace is that which enables you to come here, which allows you to be open to participating in the course, and which motivates you to do the things that you know are helpful to your spiritual well being. And by doing these things that you know to be helpful, you attract more grace to yourself--until finally you yourself are a walking, talking embodiment of grace.

Jane, the feeling I get from you is that you're trying too hard and being too mental. The process we are involved in is not about mental effort. It is more a relaxation from such efforts.

You mentioned 'unworthiness,' which is an ongoing theme for you, and for most people. Few people understand or accept their true worthiness, because they lack the awareness of their true nature. As we accept more and more who we truly are, we gradually accept worthiness as quite natural.

If you cannot elicit how you would feel if your greatest ideal were already realized, then perhaps you are unclear about what you actually want. When you become clear about what you truly want, the feeling of its already existing reality arises naturally and spontaneously.

Renee said...

Are you serious that not many people read this blog? I'm shocked! It's the most important website I know. It's the only one that matters! The rest are just entertainment or nice-to-have. I'm so grateful for everyone who posts questions and suggestions.

D. R. Butler said...

Renee, it is amazing, isn't it? I enjoyed your reaction to the thought of it. There are a number of people who check here regularly and keep up with everything posted in the comments of the blog. Then there are those who check in every now and then, and who read some of the comments but not necessarily all of them. Then there are those who occasionally read the blog entries, but who rarely if ever actually go into the comments to see what is happening here.

The largest group, of course, is the number of people who have never heard of this blog and who would have no interest whatsoever in it were they to hear about it. The next largest group, although much smaller, are those who know about the blog but, because they don't make it a priority in their schedule, end up never having quite enough 'time' to come here. They know on some level that it is worth reading and even practically helpful, but they can't quite get up enough will power or intent to actually come here.

Just like you, I am very grateful to everyone who comes here and posts questions, suggestions, or comments of any nature.

I see us as a small band of spiritual warriors who are dedicated to our devotion to the Truth wherever it might lead us.

Due to the nature of what we do and what we're about, we'll never be a large group, never one to attract a lot of attention. We tend to be low-key and to remain in the background. Yet we find a great communion together, and a sense of family, and we know who we are.

Dolores said...

Do you think there is any likelihood that we will ever meet together physically again as a group?

D. R. Butler said...

A lot of factors are involved in the answer to that question, which has come in many ways from many different people.

We need to look at what can be accomplished physically that is unlikely to happen in cyberworld. To a certain degree, we are still exploring the possibilities of cyberworld. I think we have only scratched the surface of what is possible here. Many more people can be reached in much less time through this medium.

One of the elements that made the previous gatherings so powerful was the solidity of the core group around which everything happened. A group is much more than simply a collection of individuals. We need a good understanding of group dynamics and how group work happens before we consider physically gathering as one.

There are just now participants of the course who are beginning their 3rd year. Before we can meet together as a group, we need more people who have completed at least the first two years of the course in order to have a strong core.

Most people who take the course have done many years of sadhana in one form or another, and many of them are teachers in their own right who take the course as a refinement of their own understanding. A teacher who is unwilling to continue to learn and grow as a student is unlikely to be a very effective teacher. "Only he who obeys can command."

Although we have individually all practiced many years of sadhana, the course has a way of bringing everything together as one. With the course as a common background, our coming together can be very powerful.

I imagine we will find times and places to gather together at some point. Whether we do this as small groups in various places, or as larger groups in fewer places, is something that will have to be worked out as we go.

Anonymous said...

I have seen something amazing! (Aha!) I have seen the Answer in the Lotus position not waiting or impatient or listless but just there. All I have to do is find it. So I burden you with my foolishness which you deal with gracefully when all I have to do is open my eyes/heart. All the answers are there without even the questions. I don't even need to formulate a question. The answer may be visible through someone else's heart which is ultimately linked to my own and everyone's. This particular answer has been sitting there for more than 10 years and I hadn't even asked it until relatively recently. I know I am being linear again and the answer has always been there but the amazingness of it is.... And I always ask my answers "where have you been all my life?" and the answer is always "here". You know you don't even have to publish this. I am just sharing with you because I am ... star struck?...hovering on the edge of my blue/green goo?... spent the night bonding with my answer and woke up to your post and Scott's new note. It all adds up. And thank you for the response to my last entry...it makes fertile ground
love
ER

Naganath said...

Your practice of checking in each day to touch base with Contentment, Gratitude, and Appreciation (Vol. 2 Lesson 3) is very helpful in maintaining a positive awareness and realigning with Self. Thank you for sharing that. With regard to gathering as a group, it has been my experience that the Shakti is stronger when the Guru is in silence and 'unaccessible'. The Shakti/guru principle is always perfect so this course probably needs more germination time before we meet in the physical realm. Not that it is not perfect but that it is what it is. I, too, look forward to those days of meeting as a group and it will happen when it happens; that is, when our hearts have ripened to the point that the group manifests together in time and place physically. (Not sure what I just wrote so take as you will.)

Colette said...

My beloved Ram, I have read you saying that we will always be a small group and it occurred to me to ask what would happen if we had no concept about numbers of people, or if we saw limitless numbers showing up enthusiastically wishing to participate in our satsang? Would the outcome be the same.

I want to thank you for something that you gave me a long time ago the question of who is understanding what I am perceiving and to focus on or watch that. I just love you. Karuna- Colette

Michael said...

It has been a lively exchange on Facebook! I have enjoyed it very much. Maybe a little too much. I sniff a samskara or two bending my attention, and pushing me toward addiction.

My understanding is that one is transformed to the degree that he or she is willing to dance with the Shakti, as it were. Get right in the center of the flame. But who is going to go there? Who is so busy doing sadhana?

It is hard for me not to spend all my time observing and participating in the wonderful, captivating exchange of energies in this space you have opened up, Ram. It's a spiritual spa / hotspot where you can go for a tuneup. There are many threads, each of which offers an opportunity to delve more deeply into the Truth of the present moment.

I just want to say thanks. I love it. I am watching it. Best of all, I am getting freer. I am making progress.

rico said...

There is a line from a song by Sting;
"Dancing with the invisible ones, dancing with themselves.....They dance alone...". Is this not what the dance of/with the Shakti is about? Interacting with the Goddess in every Moment in all Her forms. Ultimately we dance alone with our Self. Ultimately it is the dance of the Nataraj!

The topic of the song is much different.

D. R. Butler said...

Jackson Browne said, "In the end there is a dance you'll do alone," and Jerry Garcia said, "In the end that path is for your steps alone."

Maybe the musicians know.

Colette said...

Well, musicians are magicians after all, look at the way that they touch the heart and soul with their sound.

JP said...

You've got to walk that lonesome valley
You've got to walk it by yourself
Ain't nobody else gonna walk it for you
You've got to walk it by yourself

-traditional american folk tune

Naganath said...

Remember your love, and you always will be.
This melody will always bring you right back home


When life leaves us blind, Love keeps us kind
when life leaves us blind, Love keeps us kind

--Linkin Park, The Messenger

Kathryn McC said...

Let go into the Mystery
Let yourself go
You've got to open up your heart
That's all I know

--Van Morrison

Daniel said...

It looks like this has become 'poets' corner.' At least there are some great verses posted and I've enjoyed them all.

I am in the section of the course called "What You Think is What You Get." Obviously I have already gotten through the section called "Living in the Truth of the Present Moment." And in this month's blog entry you mention how the section called "Growth Through Relationships" is being moved up ahead of its original schedule, and I am very much looking forward to that one, because growth through relationships will fit very naturally into my life.

My question is not clear for me, but hopefully you will pick up on what's being asked. As we progress through the course, and get to sections further on down the road, like "Living in Your Own Secret Heaven" or "Entering the Stillness," do the lessons become more "advanced?" Are the lessons I will get to in two years in any way more "advanced" than the lessons I'm currently receiving?

One reason I ask this is this: I have been on the spiritual path for a long time, and have studied with many teachers and with many paths, as apparently you yourself have as well. In the lessons I've received in the first few months of the course, I've learned more and understand ideas more clearly than I have in all those years leading up to this.

How is this even possible? I feel that the different insights and understandings I had from the paths and teachers I previously studied with have all been neatly wrapped up into, as you said in one lesson, "a harmonious and coherent whole," which is so obvious once it's actually experienced.

I am also looking forward to the next section, "The Evolution of Wisdom." It feels that perhaps my whole question is in regards to the evolution of wisdom. Perhaps that is why it is my next section after "What You Think is What You Get," which is an amazing experience. I don't understand at all how certain profound experiences happen through simply reading words. It doesn't really make sense to me.

After these first two sections, it seems hard to believe that there is actually more to come than what has already been given, as I can hardly comprehend what has already been revealed, and yet it is clear as a bell.

I know you are good at reading between the words, so hopefully my question is more clear to you than it is to me.

D. R. Butler said...

Daniel, that was a very fascinating and entertaining comment. Thank you for posting it.

So you seem to have one real question: Are the lessons further on in the course more advanced than the early lessons?

You realize that all such terms like 'advanced' or 'elementary' are totally relative. 'Advanced' as compared to what? And if we get into comparing, what's that all about? Somehow the ego has gotten involved, because only the ego compares. To the Self everything is one and the same. Duality exists only from the ego's perspective. From the perspective of the Self, there is only One.

So, about the course, the thing is, as you have apparently noticed, once you sincerely participate in the course, you begin to advance within yourself. I say 'sincerely' participate because there are definitely different levels of participation. Some people read stuff from many other sources as well, and they read a lesson and think, 'that's interesting,' and they perhaps never come back to it, imagining that they already 'know' the contents. Such people miss the point of taking the course, and fail to value and appreciate what it actually is and how it actually contributes to one's life. The course is not about words. Something 'more advanced' is happening.

When you begin to sincerely participate, and make the lessons a high priority in your life, you find that your understanding and vision of things is more expanded, more elevated, and much freer than before. So in truth something in yourself advances. This is the only reason we do sadhana, for that matter. We desire, on some level or another, to move from one state of Being to a greater, freer, more expanded state of Being.

So by time you get to the lessons you will receive in two years, you will be more advanced yourself. So of course the lessons will seem more advanced as well. You will be amazed at how somehow the lessons keep coming up with completely new and unexpected things, and these surprises, or even sometimes shocks to the system, causes a transformation in our own Being and an upgrading of our level of understanding.

We would get nowhere if everything happened just as we expected it to. If you knew what was in the next lesson, what good would it do you? It has to be a surprise. Something has to be different about it from all other lessons. And in that way something NEW happens, for only in the NEW do we discover 'advanced' aspects of the Truth.

Once we learn something new, we can be assured that it will be more advanced.

Every lesson of the course can be read on whatever level of understanding the reader already has. The more spiritual understanding you have, the more advanced Lesson 1 or Lesson 2 will seem. In two years from now, go back and read a lesson you received two years earlier. You will be amazed at all the 'new' stuff in there that literally didn't seem to exist the first few times you read it.

This is because the more advanced we ourselves become, the more advanced the lesson seems to be. When we read a lesson our understanding of it corresponds to our own state. When our state changes, come back to the same lesson and you will see so many new things in it your never noticed before.

If someone in the highest state were to read the lessons, he or she would simply see them as expressions of the way it is. They are a new or 'modern' presentation of something extremely 'Ancient.' But, of course, we can only discuss such things when we get to 'more advanced' lessons.

Anonymous said...

I just love Daniel's question and DR's answer! I am continually amazed at the "newness" of the Lessons. I am currently on the second volume and I have diligently read and reread each lesson daily at the time I received it. Recently a friend began the Course. She received her first lesson and when we were on a work break she asked me if she could read it aloud and discuss the main points. As she read I was astonished to "hear" things which were profound and totally new. As many times as I read the Lessons I am always delighted to discover new inspirations and understandings. For sure the number of the Lesson is irrelevant as each one contains everything.
Bindu
Bindu

jimi said...

Ram said, "Maybe the musicians know."

"If you want to find the truth in life, don't pass music by."
from "Monterrey by Eric Burden & the Animals

I wasn't on any kind of spiritual path back when I 1st heard this, but it struck a chord and still does.

D. R. Butler said...

This is my response to a private message. Others might find the response useful:

You wrote: "My question is, how do I know when I am just working through samskaras and thought patterns that need to be cleared out vs. being unhappy to dissatisfied in relationship?"

You see, they are the same. The 'samskaras and thought patterns that need to be cleared out' are the cause and 'being unhappy to dissatisfied in relationship' is the effect. They are two sides of the same coin. One goes with the other.

The last time you wrote to me about relationship you had the same feeling and the same mood. It seems to be something that you carry into the relationship. It seems you feel deep inside yourself that the relationship, or perhaps any relationship, is not or cannot ultimately work out in the best possible way.

I would suggest bringing more happiness, more cheerfulness, more positive energy, and a more upbeat attitude into your relationship. Stop brooding so much. You'll be amazed at what a difference it might make if you were actually the one to change.

Anonymous said...

"I would suggest bringing more happiness, more cheerfulness, more positive energy, and a more upbeat attitude into your relationship. Stop brooding so much. You'll be amazed at what a difference it might make if you were actually the one to change."
So you/we enter the room looking for the fire exits. Inevitably the room will be small so all the exits will be visible from the point of entry. Then we/you complain of the room being small. Some of us/you may opt out for the woods arguing that rooms are small. So we/you need to stop looking for fire exits so we/you can open up the potential of a larger room and who knows maybe even Hotel California. Right? Oh my God!
ER

D. R. Butler said...

ER, I'll have some of whatever you're having.

ari said...

I havent touched base with all of you lately. It seems that when a question pops up so does an answer.

but I've enjoyed the dialogue available in here and FB too.

I've enjoyed DR's take on relationship. this seems to be the central theme to my sadhana now. Before my life outwardly seemed so easy. I was single answered to myself and had a lot of "fun" in life. My sadhana was lazy a lot of times. Fun times seemed more important than consistant meditation.

I've been married for 7 years and have two small kids. Taking care of the kids is a full time job in itself. My attitude towards them is a great reflection of the state of my inner self. It drives me deeply to meditate. I want very much to pass on a good state to them on an everyday basis. They do a great job of pushing my buttons to test me.

I'm grateful god has blessed me with what I have. Many lessons ago you mentioned thanking our father for everything and having gratitude. I continue to do so especially when things appear harder.

I do think the harder life appears the greater the opportunity in sadhana.

D. R. Butler said...

Ari, I agree that parenting small kids, and later on teenagers, is a great sadhana all in itself. I am so grateful for all I experienced and learned from my three children. They were each a totally unique experience. I would definitely not be the person I am today if not for the great opportunity of being their father. There has been so much grace in it for all of us.

Vandita said...

Dear Ram,

In Lesson 44 you explain: "The samskaras are embedded in the subtle nervous system, the nadis, and express through the physical nervous system." Please let me know if my understanding is correct:

I perceive the world and people around. The moment I believe something as true, that creates an impression in my subconscious mind, which exists in my subtle body. This impression corresponds physically to a neuronal connection or path in my brain, as well as to the samskara that gets embedded in my subtle nervous system. They both go hand on hand. So when an outer stimuli is perceived through my senses and brain in a certain way, my samskara gets stimulated and it fosters a reaction.

When I consciously work on a samskara and create a new learning to replace the old, I am creating a new neuronal connection in my brain that is also creating an impression in my subconscious mind, and this is constructing a "positive samskara" or response. Is this also embedded in my energy body?

If I were to directly work on a samskara embedded in my energy body and I were able to dissolve it, would that directly and automatically affect its corresponding "learning" (or neuronal connection) in my brain?

Thank you so much for shedding some more clarity on this subject!

Love, --Vandita

D. R. Butler said...

Vandita, the answers to all your questions is 'yes.'

Your understanding on the matter is perfect.

Carry on.

Vandita said...

Thank you so much! Wow. I feel great!

Lots of love, --Vandita

Naganath said...

Just returned from a weeklong Meditation Retreat. One of the touchstones for my "progress" in sadhana is how deeply I am able to immerse in the Shakti at Retreat. The Retreat before this one was two years ago, a few months after your new course began, and it was also amazing. The depth of meditation and power of the Shakti allows me to experience connections within that are nothing short of profound. Talk about "being aware of Awareness, conscious of Consciousness", and "pure Awareness of Being" (Vol. 2 Lesson 4) without mentioning the experience of the Pure Love of the Great Heart we all share.

The point of this ramble is to share that the difference in the last two years since beginning the Course (again) is really pretty dramatic. My state of being and mind in this second Retreat was more confident, focused, and on another level than two years ago. I can only describe having the image that certain blocks in my psyche had become objective and I no longer have to deal with them. I am freer and less attached to "things" and "events" in life. I attribute much of this to our Lessons.

During the week, I did not read my current Lesson and upon returning home read it this morning. Surprisingly (and not so surprisingly) one of the major samskaras I experienced at the Retreat is outlined in the Lesson. It had to do with what I perceived as "others'" inability to go into silence and my righteous indignation of "their distraction." Anyway, as usual, I ended up feeling this great love and connection with every one there (only One There anyway). Reading my Lesson shed a new light and reinforced my experience of the Retreat.

Bob Dahl said...

Volume 2 Lesson 4 ends with the exercise:

"For our exercise these two weeks, let's observe our priorities. ...see whether you tend to live as though you you are out of contact with your true priorities, or if you are actually much lazier and more conditioned that you dreamed..."

I failed miserably, but wasn't that the point? Now I know I have much work to do!! This will be fun :-)

D. R. Butler said...

Yes, Bob, most people fail miserably at this point in the course. How many of us were actually taught to set priorities to live by? Not many. Therefore, to actually live by priorities is an undeveloped and unused muscle that needs to be toned and strengthened, through practice, until it is something we can naturally do. The lessons of the course lead to the process of developing this ability in a very natural way.

Julia said...

It seems that a lot of the dialogue that used to take place here has now moved over to Facebook. Do you think this lowers the quality of the overall dialogue to any degree?

D. R. Butler said...

The quality of the dialogue here seems to be excellent. Maybe the fact that some of the discussion has gone to Facebook has helped to upgrade the quality of what goes on here.

The important thing is that satsang is actually available, that online satsang is actually happening for those who live in areas where physical satsang is not so easily available. Whether it's here or Facebook is not so important. We can make the Facebook page whatever we create it to be. The dialogue that goes on there is of a consistently high nature.

The dialogue on Facebook is seen by a lot more people than the numbers that come here, and a lot of people have learned about the course through the discussion at Facebook. So over all our dialogue partially moving there is a very positive thing.

There are still certain things that can only be discussed here, and we have room here to explore things much more deeply and thoroughly here than we ever could on Facebook. So each site serves its own great purpose. I would hope that most people visit them both as often as possible.

Chris said...

D.R., In the exchange with Rico, you discuss the concept of "pleasant" and "unpleasant" emotions. This phraseology is something that I'm having a hard time relating to.

It makes me wonder, who is it that makes the assessment of what is "pleasant"?

Our teachers have long talked about the difference between what is "pleasant" and what is "beneficial". From that perspective, I have come to believe that what is unpleasant can often be quite beneficial, and what is pleasant might be fun to experience but may not produce much movement in sadhana.

I think this is especially true with regards to emotions - where it is often necessary to go through and face emotions that seem unpleasant to the ego. I'm wondering if the approach of replacing unpleasant emotions with more pleasant ones is really the right approach for me.

Of course what I have often seen in my own sadhana is that the unpleasant experiences of confronting my own shit are ultimately the most pleasing things that could ever happen to me (after some painful growth). So I guess it's ultimately a matter of perspective.

Anyways, I'd appreciate your comments on this as the way we've been talking about it here is a bit confusing for me.

Peg said...

Sometimes, as I go about my daily activities, I find myself contemplating a teaching from my current lesson. So often I realize that without your help it would have taken me lifetimes (if ever) to come upon this knowledge. I am awed at my good fortune. Thank you again.

D. R. Butler said...

Chris, I think any confusion is a matter of semantics more than anything else. You have good understanding. You simply aren't understanding my uses of certain terms. Let's make sure we don't let the terms themselves confuse us, or that we don't get lost in semantics. The important thing is to understand the essence of the Truth.

Of course unpleasant stuff will come up in life that will ultimately be beneficial and even transformative. And a lot of good stuff will come up that will only be more deluding.

Still, in the realm that we have choices, in the realm that there is free will, we will do better in life and in sadhana if we stick to what is pleasant, and avoid what is unpleasant. This is particularly true in the realm of feelings. Pleasant feelings will lead to a happy and fulfilling life. Unpleasant feelings will only lead to bitterness and frustration.

Even so, unpleasant things do happen, according to the karmic design, and when such things happen we can see what we can learn from them and how they enable us to change ourselves in some new way. In this way transformation happens.

Colette said...

With each lesson I grow more into my true Self. I feel so much Love and I am so grateful. Blessings to all. Karuna-Colette

Anonymous said...

Question re Namdev's comments on facebook: I do find them hugely illuminating but at the same time I get the sensation of the wet blanket of conformity. I get: one can only identify what one is already familiar with (what you call the mirror); everything is equal but un-same. But the hierarchy thing isn't that along the holy scriptures road? and when it boils down to it we are all asked to surrender to divine will as this is the only truly beneficent, and to love/respect each other and everything we come in contact with. Then there are the codes of conduct which vary slightly from scripture to scripture and culture to culture and then there is the great blue which I feel I am exploring with your help. I can see why conformity is needed but not why is should be(?). Scriptures are needed in this life but not the next(?)Is this taking me anywhere or am I tangling myself up in cobwebs?
Love
ER

D. R. Butler said...

ER, why do you post as 'anonynous' and then sign your posts as 'ER?' It's one of the great mysteries of nature. Why don't you just post as ER?

Your post is way too intellectual. The mind is a wonderful thing, but if you get lost in it, you lose touch with the Truth.

Namdev's posts made perfect sense in context of the thread they were posted in, but to bring them here and ask me to explain what he meant just convolutes it.

First of all, I am glad you brought the question here instead of asking it on Facebook. Some of the questions that come up there would get much fuller answers if they brought them here instead.

In answer to your question, simply see and delight in the same Self everywhere and in everything. There is only one Self, one Consciousness, and everything else is Its play. This is all we need to understand. Then simply see the same Self in everything.

Simple, no?

aangyaan said...

dear Mr.Ram,
there are a lot of people in the world who are suffering in various ways,as u know.And we are supposed to help people in need.
But buddhism states to let go of pain as well as the material things we cling onto.This sounds as if we are supposed to ignore the people who are in suffering.i'm confused.

D. R. Butler said...

Buddhism teaches to have supreme compassion for all. This doesn't sound like ignoring others in the least. Better study up on your religions.