Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Practical Perspectives for Living in the Truth

There have been many questions to come in this month.  This is good, for simply making the effort to articulate a question opens us up to a new insight or revelation.  There are many questions that, should someone else ask us, we might answer them easily; yet through the process of asking the question ourselves, we enable the possibility to understand our current knowledge in a new and expanded way.

There is so much available on the Internet:  knowledge, information, facts, and even some true wisdom.  We search and we read, something inspires us but soon we want more, we want another hit of inspiration.  We are not truly fulfilled until we realize that the Source of all we truly need lies within us, not outside us.

It is relatively easy to agree with this in theory, yet it is challenging to live this way with true conviction.

It seems we could hear, The Universal Consciousness that pervades and permeates the entire universe is the same as your own inner Awareness of Being, and it would seem so sensible and logical and intuitively obvious that this is the primary Truth we need to grasp.  All other knowledge is secondary to this.  It seems that upon seeing or hearing the Truth even once, we would always be fully conscious of it.  After all, how long does it really take to learn a simple truth?  Most find that it takes a while, and a lot of trial and error, to fully see and live in the Truth of the Present Moment.

I am going to share some responses to several questions that have come in this past month, without necessarily posting the questions.  This might cause it to seem as though there are some mysterious or abrupt transitions from one paragraph or subject to another, yet it seems to come out in a way that many more questions are answered than only the ones that initially inspired these specific replies.  Someone, in fact, was asking about getting ‘messages’ though certain happenings or words heard in the external world.

I wouldn't put any stock at all in hidden 'messages', which can just be the mind messing with you, unless you have a strong feeling of rightness about it in your own heart. There is nothing outside you to get a reliable message from; that would be living in duality. The Truth always arises from within, never from without, and does not include 'another.'  It also always arrives with an uplifting, elevating feeling, and never leaves you feeling worse than you did before you knew it.

If you want to help someone change for the better, be supportive and encouraging. You can't help anyone get free from anything by nagging them or pointing out something negative about them, or speaking to them in a chastising manner. To help another, the most important thing is to be loving and respectful.

It sounds like you are getting too involved in the world of objective humanity, or the consciousness of other people, which is invariably in error. Don't get so involved with others, or how they treat you or how they see you or what they say to you or about you. They're just doing what they do. There's no reason to take any of it personally.  They would be the same way even if you weren’t around.  Never taking anything personally is a great freedom

There are layers upon layers of understanding the answer to this question. In a certain approach to sadhana, how disciplined we are in certain areas is very relevant to the quality of our sadhana.

If the Teacher comes upon people who are basically attached, addicted, and undisciplined, then the first job is to help them clean up their act. They must develop the discipline and will power to not do the things they know are harmful to sadhana (active participation in our own spiritual evolution), or to themselves or others, and for a long time there must be a great focus on purification on all levels.

However, none of us are ever going to become ideal people in every way. There is no such a person in existence. It is true that each person is totally pure and perfect exactly as he or she is, for he or she is a pure manifestation of Divinity. Still, his or her outer manifestation will not appear as ideal to anyone. There will be things about them that bothers or annoys certain others, perhaps even things that seemingly prove they could not be the least bit spiritually advanced.

A great aid in one's sadhana is to develop the capacity to see perfection in that which is less than ideal.

I have known too many uptight, repressed yogic types who have very rigid ideas about what spirituality is or should be.  They are very judgmental of themselves as well as others. They take it all very seriously, and have no sense of humor about it. In order for sadhana to be truly effective, there has to be a certain lightheartedness about it.

Whatever is taken too seriously is in the grip of the ego, for only the ego takes things seriously.

Occasionally, as those who participate in our course know, I might write something completely outrageous or seemingly totally inappropriate, and yet reading it shakes us up a bit, perhaps causing us to see something in a new and more lighthearted or uplifting way.  Sometimes we actually need some sort of shock to the system to us to take the next necessary step.  This ‘shock’ comes in many unexpected forms, and in fact we are often not likely to recognize it for what it is until in retrospect, if at all.

One who truly knows the Self will find it very easy to laugh, and is often in a state most of us would equate to giddiness. Yet it is also perfect Awareness combined with the joy of being alive.

It is very true when you wrote: 'This is why some spiritual paths have instituted or recommended certain attitudes and behaviors that form a foundation to further the process of “discovery of our oneness with this inner Light”.'

This is absolutely true, and I honor it totally. I have myself practiced those very attitudes and behaviors for many years, beginning at the age of 15, and the traditional practices have been a great process of purification. Layers upon layers of gunk are purified from the mental, emotional, and psychic systems so that we might one day see and experience the Truth clearly and undeniably.

Until then, we to some degree superimpose our own ingrained and conditioned ideas of spirituality and call that the truth.

Still, there are even deeper levels of sadhana, different upayas—a Sanskrit term meaning 'means' or 'methods' of spiritual practice. On one level you do hatha yoga, meditate, chant, learn to concentrate and focus the mind, study the scriptures, and various other practices which you do through using the body, mind, and prana. On another level you simply KNOW you are the Self, and the same ultimate goal is instantaneously realized.  In most cases many years of the former are necessary before the latter is possible.

Once again we are exploring a very subtle subject, and it can easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted. You can't do a sadhana of a subtler, more refined level and still get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions. If we get caught up in such things, then more of the disciplined purification process is needed before we can move on to something greater.

Once we go beyond negative thoughts and emotions—and limited descriptions of ourselves, others, and life-situations, and all our ideas of how things should or should not be in order to be 'spiritual,'—we considerably upgrade the level we are doing sadhana on. We move on to higher and subtler upayas, all of which is explored in our course via email.

Each person does sadhana or spiritual work on his or her own unique level, and some levels require certain attitudes and approaches, while other levels might require completely different attitudes and approaches, or possibly none at all if one takes the most direct route.

On some level at some point sooner or later, we realize we are pure, perfect, and divine exactly as we are, as we are exactly as God expresses as us right now.

Most of sadhana takes place on the subtle realm, often when it outwardly seems as though nothing is happening. In a sense, it is the karma of this physical body.  Yet if we expand our perspective a little, we see that this physical body, and everything pertaining to it, is itself an aspect of karma. Most sadhana takes place in the emotional or mental or psychic realms. The body is simply something to lumber around in while we experience a cycle of karma, beginning with the first inhalation and ending with the last exhalation.

The most important aspects of dreams for 'interpretation,' which for the most part is totally unnecessary, are the feelings in the dream as well as the feelings about the dream. The subtle world is much more a world of feeling than the physical world. In fact, the feelings we have even now are experienced entirely by the subtle body. The physical body is certainly affected by emotions, but does not in itself experience emotions. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, this body is simply our ‘vehicle’ for getting around during this cycle of karma.

Let's not pretend otherwise, laziness does exist, as a product of tamas guna—the sense of inertia and a resistance to rightful (dharmic) action. And it is true that many, maybe most, people need to work on their laziness and not let it get out of hand or become too powerful—otherwise it can begin to seem as though it requires a great effort to move or to act.  Only on one level is effort necessary; on a subtler level all that is needed is the feeling that it is already done.

The ego is also that which makes us feel guilty for relaxing or recreating instead of 'doing' something productive, to justify our existence, to make our being here worthwhile and not a waste of time and space, as many subconsciously slink around feeling.

In the previous entry we discussed how we emphasize 'doing' and practically ignore 'being.' Actually, in the long run, or even the short run for that matter, 'Being' is what it is all about. 'Doing' is so temporary. All our doing and all the results of our doing come and go, and one day will be long gone. Yet, our Being is eternal. Not only that, it is eternally changeless.

This is why the greatest thing in the world we can 'do' is to 'be' present and KNOW the Truth of Being. This all-caps KNOW is not simply knowing information or agreeing with something heard or read. There is a space where Knowing and Being merge as One—or as two aspects of the Same.

The 'goal'—silly word, but in English it's the best we've got—is for us to live in the full Awareness of the Truth of the Present Moment.  The Truth is changeless, while the body, emotions, and thoughts are constantly moving and changing.

This is pure Being in all its fullness. Then we are not merely a lump on the log; we are the eternal Presence of the only One.  All we lack is this understanding.

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

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105 comments:

Marga said...

Ok so right now I am experiencing the truth of this statement: "A great aid in one's sadhana is to develop the capacity to see perfection in that which is less than ideal."

Currently my family is working out how to support our mother, who is 79 and quickly becoming unable to care for herself, at the same time that she is running out of money. There are moments of great interpersonal tension in facing this reality. The situation is less than ideal, to be sure. Nevertheless the perfection of the situation truly sparkles for me.

Through practicing the principles of this course, I am now able to stay in this present moment more and more, without my mind spinning out into the future or into imagined insults or into hurts from the past. It is truly an amazing gift, to be able to stay present and connected with my heart through this tricky family stuff.

And the best part is that if I slip for even a moment, my husband, who reads the course with me, reminds me that this is a great opportunity to practice! Such Grace...

Thank-you, Ram, Kay, and beautiful sangham.

Ghayas said...

Right on ! Thank You D.R. for this new entry ! The perfect words I needed to read at the perfect moment ! I have a question though: how can I know when ambition, wanting for instance a better job, a better this or that, starts to become a lack of gratitude and appreciation (these two qualities being the subject of my current lesson). Sometimes I hear about "sain, healthy ambition", a desire to progress, but it is somehow unsatiable...when does gratitude has to kick in to set the limits for this constant desire of "more", "better", etc ? Thank You, Ghayas

kirsty said...

Ah, once again you touch on many of the distractions that we/I grapple with on a daily basis. The sense of doing instead of being is a big one and I wonder if meditating, yoga, chanting could even come under this heading in that there can be a sense of guilt when these avenues have been neglected. Sigh. Maybe a deep breath and centering is the answer when these thoughts arise? I dunno. There are times when total contentment reigns and then the other times when discouragement presides. But your words are always encouraging for weathering these storms. Thank you. It was a blessing to read this, this morning.

Kaunteya said...

"We search and we read, something inspires us but soon we want more, we want another hit of inspiration. We are not truly fulfilled until we realize that the Source of all we truly need lies within us, not outside us."
That certainly applies to me, at least regarding this blog, the lessons and Ram's FB. I seem to very much need the 'outer' guide. But part of me also knows that these outer inspirations are created and projected from me for me. Like the message the lead character left for himself in the movie "Total Recall". My morning and evening prayer is "Take me Home". Love the outer forms and welcome the guidance, support and company!

Shanta said...

Dear D. R.,
I was the person who asked the question referred to in the blog about hearing a "message" during deep meditation that seemed to come from and be answered by someone else. I guess one of the reasons that I thought it might have come from my higher Self was that it was also the first time I was in true witness consciousness (I guess that's what it was, or else I was just out of my body.) Now my question is - are they both the same thing? I didn't like look down and see my body or anything, but it took me a few seconds to realize that the question was coming from somewhere inside myself. At first, I thought someone else was having a thought and then all of a sudden realized it wasn't someone else, it was "me", but the answer seemed to come in the form of a man's voice (as though a man was actually speaking to me inside myself). In those few seconds, I felt a complete detachment - like I was watching a movie.

Narayana said...

Great Inspiration to keep moving in the right direction.

Al MacDonald said...

This is a very beautiful posting. Thank you. Being instead of doing! I hear this message a lot, and yet I still find myself getting caught up in doing, as if there is nothing else - it seems to be the challenge of life, to find a way to remain in the state of being fully in every moment, while life throughs all sorts of challenges to you to see if you can maintain this state. It seems to be a bit like a perfect school to learn these things. Things do seem to flow better when I can get into a state of being. But sometimes the Karma seems very powerful, and it manages to pull me out of a state of being, and I get caught up in the worldly drama.

It is rather bizarre, that the inner Self decided to incarnate on Earth, and forget that it was the inner Self - or the eternal I Am, or God, etc - and instead get caught up fully in the day to day Karma and drama, or seriousness, of life. And then we try to discover our true nature once again. Life is such a mystery, and yet it is wonderful at the same time.

Thank you, D.R., for continually pointing us back to this moment.

Mitranand said...

i look forward to this blog every month Thankyou

Karen M. said...

Bravo !! Such a meaty Blog chock full of so much Truth and Wisdom!!
I see I will have many re-reads with this for sure. Synchronicity is so cool. Many Blessings to you, Ram. I am soo grateful to be here !

Sarah said...

I LOVE the April 1st post! HA HA! Good one! I especially relate to Taylor's post ..." A good subtitle for the course would be how not to be a fool!"

After reading this current post on "Practical Perspectives for Living In The Truth" what struck me deeply today was " Don't get so involved with others or how they treat you or what they say to you or about you. They are just doing what they do. There is no reason to take any of it personally. They would be the same even if you weren't around"....thank you Ram..

I have learned that even in our closest relationships, this comes up time after time no matter where "we" think we are in our growth..even when these loved ones are to "know" you the best...and when I am not in the Present Moment, in my head or out of my mouth comes..how can he/she still make those comments when I am trying to maintain this loving space...HA!

Foolish ME! Come back to the present moment and just ALLOW it to be as it is...and remember we are the same Self, on the same ultimate path..He/She is the same Love as I am...I learn to continually come back to the Harmony of the blessed moment we are sharing, and how Blessed we are to share it together...

Again, thanks Ram and Kay for the course as I learn not to be a FOOL!! Happy April!

D. R. Butler said...

We were away for the day, lessons sent out and blog posted, and upon returning I am surprised at how many comments we already have. Thanks so much to everyone who writes in to share your experiences, perspectives, and insights. Thanks to those who simple express gratitude. Gratitude is such an important spiritual quality; it is necessary to advance forward or to break freer.

There have already been some interesting questions asked, and I'm looking forward to getting to each of them as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, love your Self,
See the same Self in all,
Love the same Self in all.

Truly, this is the most we need ever do. Those three simple lines lead to the highest possible experience--love and unity. We are One, and we love the One we are. Understanding this much leads to the greatest life.

Divya said...

I really liked the way that you put his together. I have been looking for outside messages forever it seems. The other day I got a message in my po box that I couldn't figure out. Huge letters that said WASTE. I noticed my mind trying to figure it out. Was my life a waste? My mind went on and on trying to figure it out. The important thing was I finally realized that what I was doing my trying to figure it out was a total waste of time!!! I enjoyed seeing this in the blog about the mind messing with you and that this was duality. I am wanting to go deeper inside for answers now. Thank you so much for this course. I love it very much.

Tara said...

Morning Ram...blessings on this day. Your words are like the Spring flowers..golden daffodils filling me with their wonders. How is the Truth always so new?! Happy Spring trails to all...Peace of the One..Tara....thanks for the colorful Easter basket of joy in these comments!

D. R. Butler said...

Starting with the question from Ghayas of Montreal who asks, basically, what is the right balance between ambition and gratitude.

Gratitude is essential. We need to feel a great gratitude for what we have. Many people ignore this in favor of focusing what is wrong or what is bothering them, as though that is a matter of great importance.

Many of us have no idea how much worse it could be. Being thankful for what we have attracts even more of what we are thankful for, and creates a sense of security and being cared for.

Ambition for a better life is much greater than complaining about a hard life, for the latter only attracts an even harder life. Even so, ambition is secondary to gratitude.

There is egotistical ambition, which is fairly harmless unless we become obsessed with it and stop enjoying life as it is because of it.

There is also a certain 'ambition' that comes from within, and comes from the heart. This is tuning into God's plan for us, or the Divine Design of which we are a part.

Look and see where your ambition is coming from. It is your ego simply wanting something 'better'? Or is it inner guidance that if you listened to you would know your true path in life.

Ghayas said...

Thank You D.R.

Katie Lorah said...

Thank you to Ram, Kay, and all the other contributors to this blog. Coming here is so rejuvenating, like jumping into a cool spring on a hot summer day. Have a blessed day.

Sukala C. Boyd said...

Divya, I loved your post and how you worked it out. Laughed along with you! I also related to DR's comments to Ghayas and appreciated the question about ambition and gratitude. I actively practice both of them, often thanking my toilet for taking away so much; and other practicalities, as well as thanking the divine Father for my life, family, community, work, good mind and happiness. Part of why I practice gratitude as actively as possible is because of my ambition - for higher states of consciousness, tangibles, and a happy long-term relationship which I hope is part of my karma. I am certain of the power of gratitude and that it's a prerequisite to happiness, that it's like a pair of magic glasses that lets me see more clearly, to see opportunities for example that would otherwise pass by while I'm blinking or complaining.
Thanks to the course, these tendencies are lightening up, and much more of my time is focused on what I enjoy. Simple as that last work may seem, my last lesson in the course (vol 2, Lesson 8) said, do what you enjoy. For some reason the section containing those words had great power for me, like they took away some great guilt about enjoying life.

Love
Sukala Christine

D. R. Butler said...

Al MacDonald, the scriptures say that the infinite Self forgets its true nature simply for the incredible delight of remembering the Truth once again.

D. R. Butler said...

Shanta, the 'higher Self' and 'Witness Consciousness' are both the same thing, if that's what you are asking. The Self is basically a Witness, in that it illuminates whatever is present and perceives and knows whatever is illumined.

We can receive messages through any unexpected source. There's a scene in the movie 'Grand Canyon' where the woman is jogging and trying to decide whether to keep the baby she 'found' or not. She passes a homeless man who is talking to himself. As she approaches him it seems that he is mumbling senselessly, yet just as she passes he says, 'Keep the baby, you need her as much as she needs you.' Then he goes on his way, muttering to himself.

Still, even though a 'message' apparently has an outer source, it is truly only our inner guidance finding a way to reach us through any convenient means. It appears that messages come to us from others, yet it's our own Self that lights up from within and Knows the Truth of the message.

Michael said...

Ram, can it be said that a samskara is a thought that takes itself seriously? The lessons indicate we don't actually "have" samskaras - the sense of having anything is part of the samskara itself. When I see a samskara pop out, I think, "there is a thought that thinks it matters, that takes itself very seriously." Then I find it easier to drop it and return to lightheartedness where nothing matters more than anything else.

Kaunteya said...

Ram:
How do I focus on the present moment? I just don't get it. Can you suggest any simple, practical tips or practices? It sounds easy but ....

D. R. Butler said...

Michael, you seem to be thinking about samskaras. Maybe that is the samskara. Your true samskara is more about wanting to make an impression regarding your mind, almost as though you want some kind of acknowledgement for your grand thoughts.

D. R. Butler said...

Kaunteya, how can you not focus on the present moment? It is the first thing that arises and the last to go. Yet it never moves, never comes and goes. The present moment is the existing moment, here and now. How can you not see it?

The problem is, like Michael, your own focus on mental activity slows you down and enables you to 'miss' the present moment, because you were focused on thought instead.

The present moment exists whether there is thought or not. Thoughts are distracting and often agitating.

The Present Moment in itself is peace and equanimity. Or like Michael said, a 'lightheartedness where nothing matters more than anything else.'

Calandria said...

Ram, how can we know we are making progress in sadhana, or whether we are involved in a sadhana related ego trip?

D. R. Butler said...

Calandria, wondering if you are making progress in sadhana is a sadhana related ego trip.

Sadhana--that Sanskrit word that basically means actively participating in our own spiritual evolution--is not separate from moment-to-moment life. Sadhana is a certain attitude and approach toward the conditions and situations of daily life.

Only the ego worries about ego trips. Focus on pure Consciousness, which is the eternal and all-pervasive inner Self of all, and in this focus ego cannot exist. Ego comes and goes. It is not a constant. Only the Self is a constant, and never comes or goes.

Michael said...

Ram, thank you for redirecting my attention. I feel like I can breathe more deeply, like a weight has been lifted. I am so glad to be freed from the pride of wanting to impress others. Thank you for being the ' middleman' for the liberating power of grace!

Tara said...

Dear Marga...
thank you for the finely contemplated experiences shared
in your comments.
Beautifully openly sensitive and honest.
All the Best,
Tara

Marga said...

Thank you, Tara.
#:)
That's an Easter/Passover/Hanuman Jayanti/full moon hat on that smiley for you.

Shanta said...

Hi D. R.,
Actually my question was, Is being in witness consciousness the same as being out of the body? During my experience, I felt like I had no connection to my body or my thoughts - sort of like I was an impartial observer hovering somewhere in the vicinity of "me" and just watching what was being thought and answered.
Also, I've noticed that when I don't actually feel I know the answer to some question I have, I'll get completely opposing answers when I ask others. For instance, your answer was that my experience could just be my mind messing with me, however, when I asked the wife of a swami that I know the same question, she said that her husband always follows every answer that he hears inwardly. So - I guess it's up to me to figure it out, but I really have no idea whether it was inward guidance that is important for me to follow or just some kind of auditory hallucination that I should just ignore.

Karen Jo Shapiro said...

I love this blog entry alot.

Especially I enjoyed the way you Ram talked first about laziness and then how the ego can be so harsh and rigid. I really can relate to both, how succumbing to laziness can lead to everything being an effort and also the way we can be unconsciously hard on ourselves:

"The ego is also that which makes us feel guilty for relaxing or recreating instead of 'doing' something productive, to justify our existence, to make our being here worthwhile and not a waste of time and space, as many subconsciously slink around feeling."


I like contemplating the razor's edge of not falling into either trap. To focus on Being rather than Doing. My new lesson (VOl. 2, lesson 5) says:

"As you see, discipline will be required to live a great life. We need a true and gentle discipline, not a 'boot-camp' discipline. Sadhana is not a struggle; it is a gently effort, a warm remembrance of the Truth...."

My gratitude continues on. There is so much in everything we get from this course. Love, KJ

D. R. Butler said...

Shanta, I will come back to your question, but first I'm trying to wrap my mind around your mention of 'the wife of a swami.' That seems contradictory in nature, as swamis are monks. I've known many swamis, but I've never come across the wife of one.

D. R. Butler said...

It kind of reminds me of the barren woman's child.

Shanta said...

Hi D. R.
He's one of Shivabalayogi's swamis who travels and gives programs. I thought that was unusual also, but I do recall that I met a female Swami (one of Brahmananda Saraswati's disciples) that was married too.

Justin said...

Dear Ram,

Two sentences in your current blog post brought tears to my eyes and I'm not sure why. One is about lumbering around in a body during our cycle of karma.

The other is "All our doing and all the results of our doing come and go, and one day will be long gone."

I am, in my day-to-day life, working on a manuscript I hope one day to publish as a novel. I've been working on it for a few years, and just recently passed a milestone where I finished the first draft.

I have done a lot of work on this manuscript, and I still have much more to do if I am to finish it. I am very attached to it and it holds a great meaning for me, and yet I know that it is also just something I'm doing, not the thing that gives my life meaning.

I have been aware of its meaningfulness/meaninglessness for some time, but haven't experienced it in this way before, full of both grief (over what I don't really know) and joy.

I was in a very lovely old cemetery a couple of weeks ago, and I was looking at all these headstones that time and weather had scrubbed clean. There were no names to read, no markers to tell when someone was born or had died. A body lay under the ground, and that was all. The names they were given and when they lived were facts passing on into oblivion.

Our doing and the results of our doing come and go, and yet we really have to go on doing, don't we? I guess it's a long way around to what Al MacDonald was talking about. And I loved your answer, Ram. Is this "the incredible delight of remembering the Truth?"

rico said...

Being and doing. Or as the sage "Old blue eyes" sang "Do be, do be, do".

One on my favorite quotes, repeated by many of the Great Ones in one form or another but most recently by Ram Dass' Guru Neem Karoli Baba, is "God does everything". But what does that really mean? Does it mean that we just lay down and let God do everything like some servant. Yeah, like that's gonna happen! Or does it mean we stop thinking that we are separate from God. That what we do is some how different than what God would do. Could it just be possible that God does everything but that doing utilizes our vehicle to get where it's going.

Suffering arises when that idea of a separate person gets hung up on the results of those actions.

This realm has been described as Karma loka, the realm of action. There is no escaping doing. So do what you do. What we can escape is the idea that there is some separate me that is doing it.

Sparkle said...

D R
Thank you for your insights on the right balance between ambition and gratitude. Really puts into perspective all the little ambitions/"goals" I occupy my time with. So not that they are wrong or unimportant but that gratitude is the container that holds and graces all.

Al MacDonald said...

Kaunteya,
A simple "practice" to focus on the present moment is to watch your breath. You cannot breathe in the past or the future, so by focusing on your breath you are fully present. I find it helpful to connect my in-breath and out-breath during this time, that is breath, rather naturally, with no pauses. If the mind wanders, or emotions arise, allow them, but when you realise that has happened, come back to the breath.

I find that the more I practice this, the more I find myself watching my breath, even during activities that are very busy, like exercise, or running around taking care of errands, or intense meetings at work. But I do like to do this sort of breath meditation as well, which seems to plant a seed, and "strengthen" the muscle of focusing on the present moment as opposed to some other moment.

The breath, for me, has become an entry point into the present moment.

I thought I would share that, as it has been quite a helpful practice for me.

Another line that helps me a lot, when I think I have a lot of problems, that pull me out of the present moment is the thought, "What is my problem now?". Now, being this exact moment. The answer is just about always, "I have no problem now."

The only time I really have a problem is if I am actively working on a solution, and in that moment, it seems, if I am able to remain clear, and present, I am usually guided, somehow, to a decent and reasonable solution. In fact, it seems that most problems, or worries just melt away, and "bad things" rarely actually come to occur.

Regards.

Al

Cynthia Lynn said...

Ram, thanks much for this month's blog!

"... Don't get so involved with others, or how they treat you or how they see you or what they say to you or about you. They're just doing what they do. There's no reason to take any of it personally. They would be the same way even if you weren’t around. Never taking anything personally is a great freedom ..."

I found this paragraph extremely timely and "right on the money!" I have a "friend" who is difficult to be with at times, because of her careless comments or she's always interrupting me while I'm speaking, or whatever ... I started looking for what it is in myself "brings this on" ... now I see it really isn't about me, and that I don't need to concern myself about "changing her behavior" ... I would often think I should "call her on it," so to speak ...

Yesterday, at brunch with another friend and this particular friend, I felt tremendous humor as she described how terrified she was when riding in her car driven by her Irish house-sitter ... I had to resist the urge to blurt out, "... NOW you know how I feel when I ride in your car when YOU drive!" ... instead, I just chuckled softly ... perhaps she remembered my last reaction to her reckless driving ... perhaps not ... it no longer matters ... however, I do plan to stay out of her car from now on! {:-D

Al MacDonald said...

Rico,

Ultimately, it is your choice if you want to keep doing. Karma is very compelling. But what is stopping you from sitting on a bench and doing nothing?

Or perhaps joining Zipruana on a heap of garbage!

It is our minds, and our conditioning that keeps us going I think, but doing ultimately it is a choice. One that perhaps makes this life experience interesting, but a choice nonetheless. Mind you it seems that many of the saints do very little, and yet have a wonderful experience. So perhaps there is something to this not doing! Also, eventually if you try to do nothing, you will probably get very hungry, and want to get something to eat, which could start the cycle of doing again - although I have a theory that if you were fully surrendered to being with God, and your non-doing, that food will appear from somewhere - most likely from a friend or a stranger, but who knows.

I remember reading about a woman in India that prayed to find a way to never eat again (in the Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananada). And a holy being appeared to her out of thin air, and gave her a method to survive without any food or water. And she lived her whole life without any food or water (and this was confirmed by other people that were with her). She would not share this method, as she did not want to destroy the livelihood of farmers, but her prayer was answered.

So who knows what could happen if you fully embraced non-doing!

Life is amazing!

Al

Debbra said...

Al, your comments about non-doing are intriguing. I am always drawn to the radical approach! :) But what I want to say here is how helpful I found your previous comment, about the breath connecting you to the present moment. How long have I known about watching the breath? And for so long I have been doing that. Yet somehow I never had that particular thought, that watching the breath is an entry point, and keeps you anchored in the present moment. That you cannot breathe in the past or the future. Thanks for that, I'll be thinking this as I watch the breath. The Present moment is so precious and blissful (and of course, really all there is!) so any tool to remember is a treasure.

And then your question of "what is wrong now?" (which I also heard humorously as, 'sigh...so what is it NOW?') This I will also be using as a great diffuser to the sense of something being wrong, and a reminder that, as you say, most always we have no problem in the Now. So thanks again Al, for a great and helpful post. :)

Dave Silverstein said...

I love this months blog. The question of 'being' and 'doing' in this context has seeped in to my awareness very gradually over these many years. This is the way I understand and experience it.

When I perform actions (the body for example)is 'doing' a particular thing. For example I pick up a piece of paper from the floor. That certainly can be called 'doing' something. Yet, it doesn't matter what 'physical' action I'm actually performing. The 'inner state' of my just 'being' is a witness to all of my actions.

This body as my 'vehicle' has it's own destiny/karma to go through in this lifetime. The state of my 'being' is one of a witness state very calm and detached while not identifying with any actions the body may be performing. It's always my 'ego' that wants things done. When I'm just 'being' in that space of awareness, there is no 'ego' to answer to.

What I'm finding out so brilliantly from the lessons is that EVERYTHING we experience in our life that we call 'doing' from physical exercise to any action we perform big or small, I eventually can be in that state of just 'being' in total awareness yet still performing all my karmic duties.

My heart is so grateful to have access to this wonderful blog and course. Thank you so much, Ram.

kirsty said...

Al McDonald gives some very useful methods for staying in the moment. I love the questioning to see if there really is a problem.

However, isn't it a little difficult to concentrate on a particular activity if one is watching one's breath steadily? Or is this the multitasking at which the current generation is so adept?

For me, I have found that carefully noticing what I am doing can be very freeing. Here I go down the stairs, seeing/placing one foot then the next, feeling the weight shift, smelling breakfast cooking in the kitchen,hearing the gulls shriek in the distance,knowing all is well right now.This is similar to the old example of washing dishes. When washing the dishes, just wash the dishes!

When I can remember to apply this technique, I have found it very freeing. On the other hand, watching the breath is splendid when one is sitting quietly. It will be fun to see what Ram has to say about these methods of freeing the mind. Betcha they all work at different times for different people.

Naganath said...

Naganath says, we are already dead; unfettered by spirit, mind, and body. We drift in and out of nowhere. Sparks fly. In no time; no time. We are the sparks. Somehow it all makes sense in a way the senses do not comprehend. Only gratitude and love exist. We drift. Thank you for understanding. Love, Naganath.

Al MacDonald said...

Watching the breath is just one tool that I use to be present. I'm not really saying that I am multitasking to watch my breath at the same time that I perform other activities. It's more a matter of awareness - it is not something that I am "doing" per say, but something that I am witnessing. I use the breath as a tool while sitting still certainly. But I've found that the more I do this, the more I witness my breath while immersed in other activities.

Focusing your attention on anything that is in the present can bring you into the present, and the body, and its functions are always present. Really, you could focus on any sensation in your body, and it would bring you into the present - your heartbeat, physical pain, hunger, the breath.

Also, as you say, Kirsty, focusing on the individual steps of whatever you are doing, fully, is also a very centering technique, one which can easily bring you into the present. The joy is in the journey, not the destination, as has been said many times in many ways.

But I have found the breath has been a powerful portal for me. I certainly am nowhere near the point of feeling fully present all the time. But I can say that I feel present some of the time, and for this I am very grateful, as it does feel wonderful.

Regards,
Al

D. R. Butler said...

Al MacDonald: "although I have a theory that if you were fully surrendered to being with God, and your non-doing, that food will appear from somewhere - most likely from a friend or a stranger, but who knows."

Al, I love all your comments, and obviously others do as well, but I do think it is possible that sometimes the most dharmic thing to do might be to get up and make your own sandwich.

D. R. Butler said...

Although, admittedly, there are beings on this earth who never have to be concerned with getting their own food, and who have food brought to them whenever the time is right to eat.

Debbra Nazzaro said...

Right now, being one who brings the food to such a being sounds preferable to me. :)

Michael said...

Ram, if there is no individual doer, then how do you explain 'self-effort?' It's clear that effort needs to be put forth on an individual level. I get it a little that there is a play going on and there is only one Player: things are not exactly as they appear. Do the accumulated merits and demerits from previous lifetimes inspire actions now? If so, is it the ego who chooses which impulses to follow when the test comes around?

D. R. Butler said...

Thought you might enjoy this exchange:

Q: Do you believe in aliens? If you do, why? And if you don’t, why?

I believe in aliens because I feel as if this cyber-community is full of them! I find it hard to believe that anyone here is actually from this planet. It seems more like we’ve taken human form to meet here at this place and time. When we’ve gathered all our experiences and insights and transformations through this time on Earth, we’ll each return to where we came from. The only thing on Earth is the five elements. Unless we’re one of the five elements, we had to come here from somewhere else, and temporarily inhabit a body made of the five elements. So what do you think? Are there aliens or not?

D. R. Butler said...

Michael, if the ego determines which impulses to follow, we will only repeat all our patterns and habits that we have already repeated countless times. If they haven't worked yet, why continue?

The only power we truly have is that of free will, and this is primarily the power to think what we choose. If we do not exercise this power, we will repeat the same thoughts endlessly, regardless of the unwanted consequences.

As you know, mind is creative. Therefore it is only sensible to choose to think in the highest, most expansive, most freeing ways possible, for this will lead to the most enjoyable life.

You are right that a Play is going on and that all is not as it appears to be. What you refer to as 'self-effort' is primarily activating will to think the highest thoughts, so as to lead to the highest actions--as thought leads to action, and actions create consequences corresponding to the thoughts that caused them.

It is true that there is no individual doer; there is simply everything happening, guided by a Power much greater than the individual. Still, on one level we experience ourselves as an individual, and on this level we must make 'self-effort' to live according to dharma, or the greatest good for all. Self-effort begins with the conscious choice of each thought, instead of allowing limited or negative thoughts to habitually repeat themselves. When the latter happens, instead of being Master of the mind, which is our birthright, we become its victim.

The greatest self-effort is to KNOW that our highest aspiration is ALREADY real. This is being attuned to the Creative Power of the universe. When we know something is already real, it becomes our experience. In this way we master life on earth, which is what we are here for. We reach our greatest potential when we become One with the Creative Principle.

Kaunteya said...

Ram:
I Love your answer to Michael! It feels like the clearest, all-encompassing statement of truth on that oft confusing topic! Thanks!

re some beings being brought food - we adore our 3 dogs, what type of beings are they? They seem divine manifestations. are they conscious ? do they have souls?

Naganath said...

Oh, God, it just hit me (from reading your last comment): one literally creates this moment from all past experience: one's mind is a product of its learning: the ego ("me") is a prison of thoughts: one is one own's worst victim... and best hero! Escape is transcendent.

Al MacDonald said...

In spite of what I said about sitting on a bench for all eternity, this is not exactly something I would recommend to anyone! It was a hypothetical thought. It would be just about impossible for anyone to do this without shirking a great many dharmic duties - to ones family, work, the planet, friends, etc. I suppose if you had no karma left on the planet, then perhaps you could manage to do this.

I think that in truth non-doing is learning how to act while remaining fully present.

Al MacDonald said...

On aliens... I recently saw a science documentary on the television. They were saying that they estimate that there are more GALAXY's in the universe than there are grains of sand on the Earth. Of course each galaxy contains billions of stars, of which many of them probably have planets. Since there is life here, it would seem hard to believe that it would not exist anywhere else.

As far as traveling around, I do believe that is the ultimate purpose of the mer-ka-bah chariot, which has been written about to be our light body (and which is represented by the 6 sided star of Judaism, because that is what it looks like). I believe the ancient Egyptians also described the mer-ka-ba. The mer-ka-ba, when activated, is composed of two counter rotating fields of light, which spin very fast, close to the speed of light, and which can pretty much do anything, take you anywhere, and it is controlled by the mind or the heart. It is an interesting subject to study, although probably not our highest purpose. I know of a great Swami that wrote about traveling to other worlds in a chariot during his meditations, so I don't think it is all made up.

I believe you are right D.R., we came here a long time ago to be together in some way, yet somehow, part of the play is that we get born into these bodies, and forget everything that happened before.

But I'm sure we've had many incarnations where we did not forget what has been done previously, and perhaps part of the joy of coming here is to see what it is like to forget, as you say, just for the pure joy of remembering!

Michael said...

So, Ram, are you saying that the extent of our free will is to expand our perception of what appears to be going on and opening our heart in order to embrace it as just and perfect as it is?

Catherine said...

I read Al's comment about not performing one's dharma if one sat doing nothing. It reminded me of a phrase I read recently in an article: "...the state of sahaja samadhi, the seamless integration of the highest state of unity awareness with the practical performance of one's daily duties..." When I read that description, instantly inside of me, in my heart, welled up the feeling, "THAT'S what I want!" A friend went to India years ago, and when she heard the word "moksha" (liberation) in a course, she said she instantly felt inside "THAT'S what I want!" So I guess when something wells up inside so instantaneously, it must be something the Self really does resonate with. I am so grateful for the course's guidance in those endeavors!

Karen Jo Shapiro said...

In my newest lesson, Ram speaks about this blog community:

"which I consider to be an ongoing workshop and a part of the course-- in the sense of it being somewhere each of us can go at any time and recharge our batteries, rejuvenate our soul, and reconnect with inner Spirit, which is, has always been, and always will be our true Nature."

Isn't it truly amazing we have access to this rejuvenating place? May Ram's vision of this community grow and prosper and deepen as we proceed. Love, KJ

D. R. Butler said...

Michael, yes, I would say that to embrace everything as totally perfect is the highest use of will. How can there be a state beyond seeing the perfection in everything as it is. This is the supreme vision.

D. R. Butler said...

Catherine, there is definitely something deep in our heart that knows and recognizes 'THAT'S what I want!' Deep down, you and your friend want the same thing, as they are simply two different ways of alluding to it. The highest goal or aspiration cannot be defined or described, but it can be alluded to. Even so, only those who are truly ready will know what is being alluded to. For those who are not yet ready, it will not resonate, or it may be too subtle to even notice.

That inner aspect of us that knows 'THAT'S what I want!' is that which inspires us to participate in the course or to keep up with the exchanges in the comments of the blog. Something deep within us knows and recognizes that such things can bring us closer to what we really want.

D. R. Butler said...

KJo, thanks for your words regarding our blog community. The community aspect of the blog is especially great for those who find it impossible or impractical for a time/space physical community. Even so, I find many advantages of a cyble community, simply because it is not limited to a particular place or time. The fact that it is ongoing enables us to easily flow from one step to the next as we grow, and our inner growth is unlimited.

rico said...

I noticed an apparent typo in Ram's reply to KJ, 'a cyble community'. Not your typical typo since the 'r' & 'l' keys are at opposite ends of the keyboard. So I googled 'cyble'. It turns out it's a type of sensor that provides remote reading....hmmmmm

D. R. Butler said...

Good one, Rico. Funny how it all works out.

mohan said...

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve visited the blog and even longer since I contributed anything and I’m so glad I did. Just reading some of the posts like the exchange between Michael and Ram concerning the nature of ego and the individual soul really expanded my awareness experientially like I was wearing a halo of warm, pulsing energy.

At dinner last night, my children and I got into a discussion about contentment. We were at a Japanese/Chinese restaurant and one of the fortune cookies said something to the effect that discontentment was necessary for progress. I said I disagreed, that the goal of our lives it to be content in all situations and all circumstances no matter what happens while still doing what we can to improve them. They all disagreed with me in favor of the supreme wisdom of the cookie. I saw the conversation as an opportunity to practice what I preach. I focused on remaining content and seeing everything as perfect, not requiring anyone to understand or believe my personal point of view while at the same time, not passing up a teachable moment for my children. We will have more of these conversations and they will see what they will see and I will be a useful guide only as long as I am steeped in the awareness of the Truth of the Present Moment.

Love,
mohan

Chris said...

Yes, but the disadvantage of a cyber-community is that we cannot have dinner together, we can't sing, dance, laugh and cry together.

I know that I need the personal connection of community in my life. This course and its sangham are wonderful, but it doesn't provide all the community that I want and need. Technology is something that has arisen in our world at this time, but as I look around I see more and more people realizing that technology doesn't have what we inherently need for deep, meaningful, fulfilling lives, and more and more I see people stepping back from technology and reconnecting with each other in a non-virtual way.

But here I am sitting at a computer, and I guess while we have the technology, let's make the best use of it that we can!

This month I received lesson 48 of Volume 1, so I have completed 2 years of the course. A few nights ago I had a dream in which I was hanging out with you, Ram. I didn't see you clearly in the dream, but I knew from the energetic signature that it was you. We were talking about a mutual friend who was newer to living in the truth of the present moment, whose mind was very very active in running his show. We were sharing a laugh and talking about how my mind used to be like that also, and how much better it is now.

So there you are, another paradox. I started my message talking about how I want and need personal connection of physical together time, and end it talking about the subtle connection that we share. Both are beautiful and wonderful. Thank you for this course, for the teachings, and for your patience with those of us who haven't really slowed down that much yet ;-)

Chris

D. R. Butler said...

Mohan, I love the story with your kids. (Is it true that only Americans call children 'kids'?)

I remembering saying things to my own children when they were young that I thought might be so helpful for them to understand at such an early age. And they would respond with an entirely different subject, as though I had said nothing at all.

Yet, years later, they would say or do something that indicated they had the understanding of what I had told them long ago. I would ask them, 'How is it that you understand that?' and they would reply, 'You taught me this when I was very young, don't you remember?'

Never underestimate the power of planting seeds. Even if they 'disagree' in favor of the all-knowing cookie, that seed has been planted, and one day it might be very useful for them to remember what you said.

D. R. Butler said...

Chris, all your 'disadvantages' of a cyber-community are things we 'can't' do. Besides, I would never suggest to replace your physical community with a cyber-community. Even among those who participate in the course, there are groups in certain areas that meet physically and discuss the principles in the lessons together. So it's not that I'm 'promoting' a cyber-community; I am simply recognizing what already exists.

We don't have to concern ourselves with the disadvantages of meeting in a cyberly way, since they are only things we can't do if we were together physically. It's more a matter of making the greatest use of the opportunities that present themselves to us, and of making the best use of what we've got.

The Naga Babas in India are a very old and traditional lineage, and live as simply as we might imagine simple to be. Yet one of them, Baba Rampuri, a respected Shri Mahant of Juna Akhara, is a Facebook friend, as well as someone I've spent time with and feel close to.

Someone asked him how he felt about the Internet, and I am paraphrasing, he said something that indicated he didn't like it at all since it took away from facing real life. So he was asked why did he have a Facebook page, and he responded something to the order of since it exists and is a big part of the way people today communicate and pass along knowledge, we might as well make use of it in as dharmic way as possible. (Dharma is living in a way that is best for everyone involved.)

So it's not an either/or kind of thing. Everyone who is part of a physical, space/time sharing community should continue doing what you do with great enjoyment.

Our cyber community is only for those who wish to take advantage of what is here. Most people, even regular readers, are not fully aware of what is truly available here, and especially through the course, which is more focused. What is available is very subtle and elusive and slippery to grasp. When we are here for each other, something powerful happens. When we are here only for ourselves, it is like going to the ocean with a cup.

Anyway, I no longer consider disadvantages to be of much relevance. I am only interested in the advantages, and they are whatever we make them to be.

rico said...

I bow to the wisdom of the cookie. I looked up the definition of contentment what I got was "happiness, satisfaction". Isn't it unhappiness and dissatisfaction (discontent) that motivates us to change. One could call that change progress.

I also agree, "that the goal of our lives it to be content in all situations and all circumstances no matter what happens", but if it's a goal it's an ambition that's yet to be satisfied. So some progress needs to be made to 'get there'. That's not to say one can't be content in the moment with one's discontentment.

Al M said...

Regarding the 36 tattvas, I have a theoretical question that I have wondered about for a long time. Would the tattvas be different for different creatures on Earth? It is not clear that some creatures even operate from mind, so I wonder if they kind of skip that tattva, or if it just is somehow less developed, and/or more pure?

Also, what is the difference between the Intellect and the Mind? Buddhi vs Manas

Thank you.
Al

Chris said...

Hi Ram, I'm with you now. The ability for us to connect and share this journey through the internet is amazing. I'm into the advantages ;-)

Brent F said...

Ram, you often say, "Nothing is as it appears to be." In this month's entry you remind us that sometimes you say outrageous things that can shock us and help us move to another level.

Volume 2, Lesson 9 is a great example! This is an amazing lesson, so different from everything else for me. I have been so exhilarated reading the esoteric teachings that are ancient and not as well-known as the teachings that have been turned into religions and religious dogma. I've always somehow known that this is true and I'm thrilled-- and actually comforted and calmed--to realize that the way the world really operates is in the subtle realm and that societies were not always full of warfare and power trips. Knowing that another world (the essence of existence perhaps?) exists that is usually hidden helps me better accept the karma of the samsara in which we live. I could read this lesson over and over and over and feel joy every time!!!

ari said...

I cant remember the lesson but I remember DR saying something to the effect of: when were in the midst of one of our samskaras and we need a lifeline turn to contentment and gratitude.
I've practised that frequently, they seem to be some sort of antidote to whatever samaskara I'm caught in.
Of course I'm not against practising contentment and gratitude at all times and under all circumstances.

Colette said...

lesson two volume 2

"This Irena Tweedie says so beautifully: "... how carefully we would act and speak and think; how precious life would become in its integral wholeness" – if only we were aware of the far-reaching affects our thoughts, feelings, words and actions have on the whole."

Ram goes on to talk about how our collective thoughts gather together on the subtle plane. This is helping me to re-intensify my efforts to only think thoughts that I want out there. It's amazing how those little buggers just get in there. LOL. That's when I have to remember that it is a group effort so I don't make myself guilty for my lack of skill. Humor seems to be my best relief pitcher. Good Luck to All of You, And As Always Much Love and Many Blessings, Karuna

D. R. Butler said...

Most of us have a hard time believing we are pure and perfect as we are. Even yoga and meditation as presented in the West are based around self-improvement and self-help. We believe we must do something to become better and greater before we're really okay enough.

Although it is the most basic principle, it is also the greatest: Divinity expresses Itself within us just as we are, here and now, from moment to moment. There is no 'improvement' to be made so that we'll be 'better.' It is our delusion that something is 'wrong' or 'not enough.' It is more a matter of recognizing and appreciating the Truth of Being right now.

D. R. Butler said...

Brent, your comment is so clear and full of understanding. You seem more centered and confident than ever, and your enthusiasm and joy is a good change. Whatever you're doing is working very well.

D. R. Butler said...

We've been programmed and conditioned all our lives to feel that life is about getting better, improving, and becoming someone or something important enough to be significant. My Teacher once told me, 'Never become anyone.' If we don't become anyone in particular, even though we play a karmic role in this incarnation. there is nothing to improve or get better.
We explore this in detail in the Course of Training via email, but I think it's great that I can at least share the basic principles here for all 'friends.'

Even being asked, 'Who do you think you are, anyway?' is easy to answer if we never become anyone. We think we're no one. That is the most freeing feeling in the world.

Colette said...

Dearest Ram, thank you for reminding me who I am. LOL Karuna

D. R. Butler said...

Response to a private message:

I'm sorry to hear about your illness. It seems I get so many reports of illness these days, but perhaps it's because more of us are getting older. I can relate to your nonchalance towards reading printed lessons, since I'm sure you wish to enjoy your time for as long as you have it.

The good thing about reading a lesson is that it takes us to a space between thoughts, where there is no time, where any description of ourselves is more melodrama, and there is a great freedom in that experience. It reveals what will be the same about us in 50 years, 100 years, or a thousand. Something never changes, and it is to be established in that which never changes that we do any of this in the first place.

I send you my love and blessings, knowing that your life will always work out for the best in the long run.

D. R. Butler said...

Al M, tattvas are tattvas. I don't know if a chipmunk could grasp what a tattva is or not, probably not, yet the tattvas remain what they are. They are all the levels of creation.

The difference between buddhi (Intellect) and manas (mind) is that manas is what organizes all the incoming vibrations of the senses into a coherent whole. So it is needed to live in this world. However, for the most part, it is also conditioned or programmed, and it very easily gets caught in habits and patterns that endlessly repeat themselves.

Buddhi, on the other hand, is beyond conditioning, is intuition, our connection to Omniscience, and is the source of inspiration. Great creations and works of art in any field come from Buddhi, not manas (the conscious, waking mind.)

Vicki said...

I've been waiting patiently for something to write about - some question, some answer, some problem - but nothing significant has come up. Then today, driving home from a massage, I felt so happy, so joyful, so full of bliss and good humour. I contemplated, where is this happiness coming from? I had been talking to my massage therapist, a fellow satsangi, about the Course, and how I love it. How it has been taking me higher and higher, deeper and deeper, freeing me of so many concepts that had clung on in spite of years of sadhana. Many of those concepts revolved around what is 'spiritual', and what is not, and rules, rules, rules. And last night, a similar conversation with a friend who has taken the Course, then stopped, and is about to start again.  As I reflected on my great good fortune - to be connected again with lovers of God, in a meaningful way;  to be growing, transforming through the Grace of the Course  - my heart began to swell with gratitude, humility and awe. I could never have anticipated such a gift as this. Thank you, Ram, for this great blessing. And thank you, all, for your companionship on this blessed journey.

Al MacDonald said...

Thanks for the explanations Ram.

Chipmunks indeed! Very high beings!! But probably they do not understand the tattvas. You made me laugh when I read that. I can just imagine the chipmunks on my lawn contemplating the tattvas, as they chase after each other, and look for pine cones.

Regards,
Al

Kaunteya said...

Vicki - you said exactly what I feel ! Thank you .
Al, I identify with the chipmunks and our 3 little dogs, not sure I want to grasp the tattvas, are they painful ?

Vicki said...

Which is the survival tattva? Chipmunks understand that one. I've narrowly missed 2 in the last few days, only because, as they were racing across the road, they threw on their brakes, turned around on a dime, and went back. I didn't need my own brakes. I marveled at how they sensed the danger, and avoided it, as many don't seem to and end up- well, you know - reincarnating... Gardening season has begun, and soon even the teeniest bugs will be watching out for trouble, and dead- fall dropping as I come into view. Everytime I see that I think - Consciousness. A good way to come back to the Heart.

James said...

Compassion the concept or the experience. I want to have compassion for myself and the neighbors bouncing on the ceiling at 2 am. Funny I already have myself tossing and turning due to self medication. I am certainly the guy who keeps hitting himself on the head. It hurts. Whats my excuse? Compassion. Somehow I get the strength to endure. Wish I could turn the corner on my unhealthy indulgences. I have this fantasy or goal that I will get beyond it all. Muddle through the puddles. Tap dance in the rain. I just heard from Herman Muenster his smile I can gain. Refrain, resist, in the mist of joy. The golden mist of joy.

Sarah said...

I Love that you're talking about Chipmunks! I'm new to spirituality and this Course of Training, but have always had such a love of Chipmunks. I think there is a reason 'monk' is in their name. My family and their completely agnostic non-spiritual close-knit group of families that that I grew up with went camping in Vermont every Summer and Fall. Us children always build "Chipmunk Houses" with various rooms that contained ritz crackers and they would show up year after year, posing for pictures with us. I grew in the country, so this didn't' blow my mind, but to my counter-part children who grew up in urban environments ---this was clearly one of the most exciting things that ever happened to them at the time.

I'm so grateful for this Course and all that participate on this blog. It's been a wonderful introduction to spirituality and I'm so grateful for it.

Kay Butler said...

This letter came in recently from someone who had just received Lesson 1, and as you read it, you can imagine how sweet it is to hear from so many people whose lives are being impacted by their relationship with the Course of Training…I just LOVE my job! And I love hearing from all of you. It’s a somewhat long letter, but worth sharing in its entirety, so it will appear in the following comment:

Kay Butler said...

Here's her letter: Dear D.R. & Kay, I would very much like to continue receiving lessons and I've set up my bill pay to send out the fee on the second of every month indefinitely.

What do I want you to know about me? I'm not operating under the delusion that what I understand now is any kind of ultimate Truth. I'm just explaining where I'm at right now (and I know you say we're not supposed to explain ourselves-- and I look forward to a time where I don't feel the need to). Being able to talk about my spirituality with anyone--let alone a spiritual teacher--is huge growth for me. For the first time I don't care about being wrong about something that I deem as important.

I'm very much a spiritual newbie (I've attended a few yoga classes and read the first chapters of a couple of books). I randomly came across your blog in a google search. I had a "spiritual experience" after reading the first lessons. I was not expecting this and I never thought I'd be someone who had these types of experiences.

The experience had many different facets to it and brought several key concepts into clarity for me; most importantly the understanding of what it feels like to be lighthearted. I read about being lighthearted on your blog, knew I needed/wanted to be this way, but didn't really "get it" until I read your lesson. I'm not deluding myself into thinking I completely understand this concept, but I do feel like I can take myself and others less seriously. This expanded understanding is allowing me to be open to what there is to learn in the current lesson.

My conditioning (even though I don't fully understand what it is) previously felt like an iron mask. Now it's just something to be amused at and easily let go of. I can't wait to learn more about the Truth of the Present Moment.

I sincerely want to thank you for your lessons and the community you've attracted to your blog. It's amazing to me that I'm new to this journey and yet your first lessons are completely accessible and practical to implement. It's also amazing that in the comments section of your blog I'm gaining important insights and I see so many questions I'm having already asked and answered.

I'm reading the lessons every day and learning more and more. I used to feed off negative emotions like a vampire and now I only seem to only have them when I wake up in the middle of the night. Now that I know they aren't reality, I don't listen to them and they've lost their power. Shifting to positivity and noticing the beauty around me in the Present Moment is so wonderful and so simple yet so powerful. It's also so transformative to finally understand that the past isn't real.

I'm also so grateful that the spiritual work you present is more like a fun hobby than work. I have no trouble motivating myself to reread the lessons every day and work on the Truth of the Present Moment. This is so huge for me because I'm often undisciplined (and I say that coming from a place of more self-love than I've ever had before).

I notice my ego in the present more and more--and I don't beat myself up for having it. I'm grateful for what I can learn from noticing it. This is huge growth for me. Many people have described me as being "overly sensitive." It's so freeing to know that I don't have to be sensitive in the Present Moment. I can recognize it as ego and move on unscathed.

I'm also so grateful that this new understanding doesn't make me feel special or more evolved than anyone else. I think the fact that I don't feel this way also shows tremendous growth.

Thank you for this feeling of contentment. I'm so grateful for this journey (although I wish I had a different term other than journey--it makes the process sound somewhat heavy). I can't wait to learn more.

Kay Butler said...

To the writer of the above letter (who has just let us know that she is now recovering from abdominal surgery), thank you for putting your experience of the course into such uplifting words for all to share. And may everyone who reads this send their own ray of Light and Love to speed your healing. With love to all, Kay ((PS: I hope everyone reading this knows that you can read the comments in the expanded type of the entry, just by clicking on the entry title at the top of the page and then scrolling down to the comments.))

Lynne Bhanu Shulman said...

Thank you for posting the letter from the "new" person. My prayers also go out for quick healing from the surgery. It is so uplifting to read about new awareness and insights. And the enthusiasm the writer conveys is contagious and welcomed! The present moment is everything as advertised and more!

Shyami said...

After recent and ongoing emotional upheaval, which I know is all part of the growth that is engendered by the living energy that flows through the Course, I have had many moments of great insight into the workings of all that we imagine our individual identity to be. At the same time, I have had many moments of feeling emotionally stuck in samskaras. In these moments, if I inquire into what I am experiencing, I can see that in fact, there is a part of me that literally does not want to overcome these things, despite the unpleasantness, and would "happily" just sit in the mire, contemplating the discomfort ad nauseum. I am trying to take courage in the fact that I can see this in the first place. And it makes me wonder what desire even is, at its essential core. How could it make us hold onto notions that keep us bound? It seems almost arbitrary to me when I really look at it: a desire to hold onto samskaras when I have the tools to overcome them and be free, and when holding onto them causes pain. Makes me wonder what the mind thinks the payoff is! I suppose that in this instance, one must have compassion for oneself, and for the courage and effort it takes to become free. Perhaps I have just hit on some samskaric stuff that was buried very deep, and that's why it seems like I don't want it to go. And this makes me think that really, I simply must increase my focus, my application of the principles of Truth, and refine my intention to break free of these old, worn tendencies. I'm not even sure if I should hit the "publish" button, but I think we all find ourselves in this place of facing our resistance, so I will just say, we ARE becoming freer every day, and we are extremely blessed by the benevolence of the Self.

D. R. Butler said...

From a comment on Facebook:

A woman from Montreal was in the hospital near death, and she told the people she was with that she wanted to talk to me before she left, and so they called me out of the blue and told me the situation. Can you imagine? This woman who has taken your course many years is dying and wants to talk to you in her final moments. Really, what do you say?

So of course I said the stupidest thing possible, 'How are you?' She answered, in her lighthearted voice, 'Dead.' She died a couple of hours after that.

What do you say to someone who's dying? The last message I sent to Pat Quinn, whom I'd known since the '70's, was to tell him I loved him and that we would always be in each other's heart. I guess that's what it comes down to in the long run.

D. R. Butler said...

Shyami, I loved your comment, and am very happy that you hit the 'publish' button. You are right in that you are experiencing something that is common to us all, and your description of it was perfect.

That feeling of not wanting to do anything about what's causing the suffering, and even wanting to keep the painful or unpleasant samskaras instead of doing what you know to do to be free of them, is tamas guna, and it is very powerful. The three gunas, making up this physical world, are the three most powerful forces of nature, and it takes a while to be completely free of them. They can also be thought of as the 3 'moods.' They are a great thing to be patient about, while still moving in the right (most freeing) direction the best we can for now. All we have to do is keep going. We don't have to be perfect yet, even though we already are.

Thanks for having the courage to write about the hard parts of life. A lot of people write to say how well they are doing, or how the course has helped them, and these are also fine comments, but I also like when someone truly reveals their real feelings and experiences, even though they might not necessarily be impressive to others.

Shyami said...

Thank you Ram for your encouraging words of wisdom. This inner growth is by no means always a "pleasant" process, and that's okay. Nothing is going wrong, even though the mind might insist with great urgency that it is.

On the subject of samskaras, I was wondering this: do we generate new ones as we go through life (and myriad lifetimes), or do we "start" with some samskaric load, as it were, and reduce this as we evolve? If one experienced Situation A at one point in life, and then years later, experienced Situation B in relation to the same basic emotional components of the individual, would B be purely the result of going through A earlier in life, or would they both be the result of a samskara that was always within the individual, and so the samskara gave rise to both A and B? (Thank you for bearing with the way I have phrased this!) I'm just not sure what has the power to create a samskara in the first place. Do thoughts and experiences create them, or are they created as part and parcel of the individual soul? Much Gratitude...

Jim said...

For me there have been samskaras come up that weren't an issue in the past. Sometimes it's because the catalysts weren't there. For example, there's this whole way of doing and being that kicked in upon marrying and becoming a father, a whole new set of concerns and reactions. As a teen and a young man my default saying was "My father did it that way - I'll never do it like that." Now as a family man my default excuse is "Well that's how my father did it." These close personal relationships evoke things in me that before I had no clue were there.

Also, there have been some samskaras which were largely dormant because there were larger, more serious samskaras on top of them. I guess that's where the saying comes from: spiritual growth is like peeling an onion. There are these layers. A chunk of depression burned away through spiritual practice, and then I had access to a range of emotions that had been frozen. For example, I gained back a sense of humor, but also began getting angry - a lot. It's almost like the depression was sitting on the anger like a heavy lid on a boiling pot and when the lid was removed it all boiled over.

It's funny, while I was writing this, I went to check on some food I had on the stove, and there was the whole thing visually: the boiling pot, the lid and the blast of steam and frothing liquid pouring over the rim.

Al MacDonald said...

I believe that Samskaras are created when we resist what is, in other words, resist the present moment. If we find we enter into an automatic sort of reaction to events, people, emotions, then we create, or strengthen the Samskaras. If we are able to remain lighthearted, and respond consciously to all situations, I believe, we are lessening or eliminating the Samskaras.

It can be hard to remain lighthearted, and present when going through tough situations, or emotions, but I do believe that allowing the emotion to be, and giving space to allow a conscious response to deal with a situation is ultimately beneficial. I know that I feel much better about myself when I can do this, and "agitated" when I can not.

Not that it is ultimately bad to "fail" at any of these tests (I like to think of them as life's tests). Just keep trying, and it gets easier with practice, like anything.

Just my 2 cents !

Shyami said...

Jim, I totally related to what you wrote. It's very interesting about the catalysts that bring out our deep-seated samskaras and inner hindrances, the existence of which would be virtually unknown to us if something didn't come along to lay them bare. The work of moving beyond them and releasing them becomes so subtle, and yet can mean the difference between living in pain and living in Love and contentment.

I used to experience a lot of depression as a teenager and through my twenties, and a deep, abiding sadness felt like an integral part of who I was. Once I became a mother in my late twenties, there was an amazing shift. Neither of my children were easy babies/toddlers, and the rigours of my daily life with them created such an inner "heat", it was like the glacier of depression began to melt, and I'm sure no one will be surprised to know what the melt water of this glacier was--it was anger. I found myself feeling such rage when my kids would push me way out of my comfort zone. I had never thought of myself as angry person, and yet, there it was, such anger! It's so true, the connection people make between depression and anger. They are really different forms of the same thing--they are ice and hot water.

This was driven home for me the other day when I was feeling very sad and mixed up about some deep "stuff" that had recently been shaken up inside me, and in a bid to get myself to snap out of my authentic feelings about it (for I felt I was wallowing), I started to get angry about it, and then I thought, oh no, I don't want to feel angry about this, and I watched as, right before my eyes, the anger shrunk into a meek, familiar feeling of depression (it's like what happens to anger when it's trying to be polite). But it was so fascinating to catch anger in the act of crystallizing into depression. Wow!! So then I consciously decided that I didn't want anger OR depression, and I allowed myself to bring about feelings of love, and feelings of being in harmony with the situation, and it felt so much better. I had chosen not to go down that ancient road of depression, not to raft down the raging river of anger, but to transcend these two states as best I could in the moment. I was so grateful for this hands-on lesson... And it only came after a large dose of "pain". I will try to remember this the next time I go through an acute bout of inner unpleasantness...I want to remember to say to myself, "Wait and see what miracle of transformation is about to occur!" Because it will be about to occur. :)

Colette said...

Shyami, thank you so much for your share. I am in my own process right now, I had not realized how much I was suppressing the grief over all the beings that have left me. It is good to know that breakthrough is right around the corner. In fact I'm having one right now, I am forgiving myself instead of punishing myself. Accepting myself just as I am in this moment, and allowing it to be. I am loving it as it is. It is not "ideal", and it is perfect

Jim said...

Shyami, I can relate to having never thought of myself as an angry person. But I began to feel a lot more powerful getting angry over stuff instead of depressed. It seemed like an upgrade. Though I see that the time is upon me to move to the next phase. It's become like keeping an untrained doberman around and now he's turned on his owner.

Your share got me thinking that it's never been about the depression or the anger. It has been easy to think of these as the problem. They aren't really the samskaras like I've been inclined to label them. They are more like expressions of energy. The actual samskaras are the thought patterns that channel that energy in a particular direction.

Debbra said...

Wow, wow! Such amazing posts here. The great gift that comes as a result of living the principles in the Lessons is the increased powers of observation we develop. Shyami, the fact that you were still and observant enough to see the anger crystalizing into depression right before your eyes is a noteworthy accomplishment. And then to shift into moving beyond them both! Samskaras can be tricky and fast and subtle, and I am seeing that employing these tools consistently really IS the way out of our eons of conditioning! I knew that, and funny how I keep seeing this anew again, on more profound levels. Thanks everyone for your generous sharing!

Sukala Christine Boyd said...

The 'death' word was in two comments and I was glad to see it. I've heard the Guru's main job is to prepare a student for death. Only in this decade, age 60, have I begun to contemplate death. It seems like a good way to develop detachment. One of my challenges is taking things personally. This has gotta change if I'm to be true to my priorities e.g. lightheartedness. By grace, last night preparing for sleep, I began repeating, I am dying. It was a good feeling (and my health is fine). I continued to repeat the words sensing what 'parts' of myself were dying. It was very cool. I can see why the woman who called for you, Ram, was really happy to be 'dead' and wanted to share her joy with you.

With love,
Sukala

Sylvia in Colorado said...

Ram, As someone above said, I am always reluctant to retire each lesson when the new one arrives. Oh Heavens, it just occurred to me that the entire course is a giant lesson in practicing detachment from each ... previous ... lesson!
What fun!

Having read my new lesson today for the 1st time, I feel drawn to share: this new lesson, Vol 2, Lesson 41, is beyond the beyond for me. From beginning to end, I must have gone into meditation four times, feeling deeply peaceful. Free-fall yoga! I love it!

You said, "In our free-fall yoga there is nowhere to land or to not land, no leaping-off point or landing point, no 'splat' at the end." Aren't we all glad there is no "splat." What a kick!

Ram, you further said, "The free-fall in itself is enough, is actually full and complete; and through experiencing its reality comes contentment and bliss."

This lesson is brilliant for me in every way! Reading it has brought me to that place you spoke of: that Inner State of Formlessness where there are no boundaries. During the times I fell into meditation today, when I opened my eyes, it seemed that the various parts of the room (walls, doors,doorjams doorknobs, lamps, chair, me, my dog) were "free falling" in all directions as if in outer space. It was outrage-iously comical! Yet, I didn't want to disturb my sense of boundaries dissolving beyond what I have felt for so long, today felt like the first time.

My heart is filled with gratitude to you, Ram, and to your Teacher(s). What Grace in my life! reading your teacher's teachings and your great style of teaching. I hope the day will come when we know who your Teacher is. I bow my head to both of you with love and respect. Sylvia

Cynthia Lynn said...

Thank you Jim, Shyami and others for courageously sharing your processes with anger & related samskaras.

I am becoming "gun-shy" of talking about how good I feel after I've made a choice to be lighthearted & happy, because it always seems that within a day or so I "trip up" and get all bent out of shape again over some unresolved issue.

The "bane" of my existence this time around is my extreme critical nature, and tendency to make another wrong ... lately (for a few years now), whenever I'm caught up in this negative habit, I start feeling really bad, as if I'm the other person who is experiencing the bad vibes I'm projecting, and yes, I am that "other" person, and it's so painful; I too cannot understand why I can't let go of this tendency toward aversion and anger and dumping my bad mood onto others!

My current lesson (Vol. 1, #41) came just in the nick of time, as it addresses the very stuff I just went through: "When we are angry or agitated, nothing pleases us, everything everyone says annoys us." What a drag! I'm so tired of this un-merry-go-round!

Slowly, slowly ... with love and encouragement from friends, and my efforts to connect with my lessons and focus on self-love, I am once again beginning to see a bit of blue sky ...

One suggestion in my current lesson is to ask, "What in our past or upbringing is the aversion associated with?" I can definitely identify specific incidents while growing up, but I also get the feeling that many of my intense samskaras are from past lives (I had to have been some sort of TYRANT!)

Anyway, now that the fog is lifting I am once again able to express my deep appreciation for the course and for this community. Thank you all.

Daniel Stern said...

After many years of reading the course, including the two courses preceding this course in its present form, today I have finally gained access to two things: the first is finding where to post, although Ram has told me twice. It is tucked away at the bottom under "comments". I wonder if that was an impediment for anyone but me. Probably not.

The second realization has been creeping up on me slowly and has finally dawned today on me completely. I have always read the lessons through various mental filters like: "Yeah, yeah." and "I already know this", even before I have read it, and certainly while I am in the process of reading. I found that I could CHOOSE to be in the moment while I was reading, to remember a deeper part of myself, and let the words become and be a form of vital truth.

This is not so much of a decision at the mental level, although paradoxically it includes that. It is an inner choice, which leaves me relatively thought free even when I am thinking and getting the principles that are being "explained".

Before I embarked on this new way of being with the lessons, I actually had a number of "thoughts" that presaged my current lesson, which then confirmed and impressed these ideas on me in a deep way. I am also clear that all the work I have done up to this point has been leading me to this place and teaching me how to be open to it, and put everything into an ongoing practice.

So I have read Ram's posts back to March, and look forward to the new lessons, as well as reviewing the former lessons. I am clear that this principle is a central one for all aspects of life. It is very exciting. I am grateful.
Thank you.

phstiago5 said...

Well, at last it seem that i have been able to leave a comment on Present Moment, as Kay asked me to do! as I read Ram about the lookinglass, I am also listening to a related song by South American poetress Gabriela Mistral, where she makes the Self say to us: "Your name is Flower; mine, Hope... but you will forget yours, because we shall become just a dance on the hill". Also, as music really tells us something, there is that favorite Christian hymn of mine: "As the Deer", that sounds as a Bengali ecstatic song.

pedrosantiago said...

You do mention evolution: e.g., in your reference to the Rounds of Brahma, also how planets go on to provide for it. On the other hand,there is the striving for recognizing the Self. Are both processes parallel? I mean, say, after we get established into the recognition of the Self, will we go on improving civiliztion, etc.?

Jagadambes said...

Dear DR and Kay,

Thank you very much for the lessons.

Here's a quote from the Vidyeshwar Samhita, The Glory of Rudraksha 25th Chapter that may help Anonymous who feels like a financial loser.

"On wearing these Rudrakshas with devotion and faith, after anointing them with the following mantras all desires and wealth are attained."

Om Hreem Namah
Om Namah
Om Kleem Namah
Om Hreem Namah
Om Hreem Namah
Om Hreem Hum Namah
Om Hum Namah
Om Hreem Hum Namah
Om Hreem Namah Namah
Om Hreem Hum Namah
Om Krom Kshraum Namah
Om Hreem Namah
Om Namah

We understand it to translate like this: Oh Lord, Universal Self who creates, sustains and dissolves the universe, again and again I bow to you. Please grant me by degrees (gradually) all around success and good fortune.

We have begun saying these seed (bija) mantras and as with the Living in the Present Moment Lessons, the good that's being done is perceivable at times,and hidden at others, but very much worth the work.

Best wishes,

Jagadambes