Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Ethics of Mysticism


Mankind has been endowed with mind and will. These are God’s greatest gifts to living, conscious beings. Furthermore, God intended Man to use his mind, to exercise and express personal will and determination, and become master over the inanimate things of the earth and over his own evil desires as well. 

Each of us is not yet infallible in his comprehension and understanding. It may be that we believe we are right in our judgment of persons and conditions, but just because we have an honest belief in that regard does not make our judgment correct. And, while we make occasional mistakes in judging other persons and their affairs, we do not make many mistakes in the judgment of our own selves and our own affairs. Naturally, we are biased in our own favour, and most naturally we believe that we understand our own selves so well that we can see many reasons for condoning, excusing, and overlooking essential points. 

Perhaps the one great error made in regard to the application of mystical laws is in the effort to use them to force certain conclusions of our own into the minds of other persons. For instance: a common desire is to make someone agree to or concede to some point that is contrary to his belief. 
Here we have a serious problem indeed. It may be that one is seeking a certain privilege, a grant, a concession. It must come from some person in power or legal authority to give it. That person, for certain definite reasons, refuses to comply. Should the mystic use some occult powers to make that person do as desired, even against his desires to do so? That is the question often put to us. 

Let us analyse such a problem. Let us say that A is seeking a loan on fair security from the bank, and the bank president, B, after due consideration declines to comply. Not expecting such a result, A makes further pleas to the bank president, and he promises to look into the matter a little more - and again refuses. Now A wonders if he can use any mystical principle to make B compel, even against his decision. Naturally, we tell A that it cannot be done – and furthermore, he should not try to do it. 

If occult or mystical training and development would give to one person the power to override the decisions and will of another, or to inhibit the reason faculties of another person, it would be the most unfair, unjust, and ungodly principle to be found in the whole universe. Fortunately, and praise be to all the Divine Laws, it is not so. Man’s mind is just as safe in its sovereign domain against the domination of other minds as is God in His domain against the dominations of evil. 

It is not possible for one mind to arbitrarily control another against its will, and therefore, it is useless for the student of mysticism to think of trying it. However, it is also a serious matter to try to do so. It is a violation of the ethics of mysticism to attempt, by any process that is occult, to refute the honest decision that another mind has reached. 

Cosmic and Man-made Laws 

Who established such ethical laws? The Cosmic! Perhaps you have never realized that there are ethical laws in the mystical world and that it is more dangerous to attempt to violate those laws than it is to attempt to violate any of the man-made laws of this earth. 

The Cosmic Laws say that a man’s personal, private affairs are to remain private and personal so long as he chooses to have them so. Any attempt on the part of another person to use mystical or occult methods to pry into those affairs is a violation of the ethics of mysticism. The Cosmic Laws also say that whatever a group or body of men or women have agreed upon as sacred, private and limited to certain times and conditions, shall remain so, and any attempt on the part of one or more persons to use occult or mystical laws to thwart that decision is also a violation of the ethical laws of mysticism. 

The Cosmic Laws also say that a man’s ability and divine gift to reason, analyse, conclude, and decide for himself shall remain his privilege and prerogative, and he shall also have the right and will power to carry out his decisions – whether wrong or right – without any occult means being used to inhibit that power. Any attempt to interfere with that power by occult or mystical means is a violation of the ethical laws. 

All violations of the ethical laws are punished automatically by the laws of karma or compensation, as are all other violations of natural or divine laws. 

Each person is guaranteed by the Cosmic the power to reach his own decisions – when in sane and sound mind and body – and to carry out such decisions, whether right or wrong. God has given man a mind that can reason; and his memory was given to him so that he could remember and bring to his aid all the experiences and lessons he has learned so that he may be able to make proper and logical decisions. MAN IS MOST CERTAINLY FREE TO CHOOSE, and is a free agent in all his acts; but he must compensate if he makes a wrong decision and acts, just as he receives reward for deciding correctly and acting correctly. God might have arranged the scheme of things so that man had the mind of God and the love of God in his heart and being, and could do no wrong or even think no wrong. In that case, man would not have been a free agent and he would have no need for a mind that can reason, a consciousness that could choose or a will that could determine what to do. 

But, as it is, man has always had the mind to analyse, reason, and reach an INDEPENDENT DECISION OF HIS OWN, with the still greater power and ability to CARRY OUT HIS DECISION. God does not attempt to stop man when he reaches a wrong decision and is about to yield and carry out an error. Instead, man is permitted to work out his decision, discover his error, suffer the consequences and learn a lesson that will enable him to make a better choice the next time he is confronted with the same problem. 
And, if God does not attempt to use his OMNIPOTENT powers to stay a man in his decisions, or checkmate him in his determination to commit an error, it is most certainly not within the power of another earthly mortal to do it, even in the name of mysticism; and any attempt on the part of man to do it is an attempt to use a power not even assumed by God or more privileged than the Father of all. 

Can no laws or principle be used to help ourselves, in such cases as the one cited? Suppose that the loan from the bank was an absolute necessity, and not wholly a selfish need; and suppose that the security was good and my motives right, and I knew that I could repay the loan in the proper way; can I do nothing to make that bank president see the truth of the matter and agree to the loan? Here we have another matter altogether. The very wording of the question suggests the answer. It is one thing to convince a man that his reasoning is faulty, his decision unjust or unfair, and have him agree to your proposition. It is an entirely different thing to attempt to inhibit the man’s reasoning, and while he still believes he is doing the wrong thing, will submit to some psychological or mystical power and agree to what he believes is wrong. Do you see the point of difference? It is an ethical point, it is a godly point. 

Truly we may use every means to convince another of a sound argument based on truth. In fact it is our duty to use every method available to help another human being to reason properly and reach a correct conclusion. But the conclusion must be reached after free and independent reasoning. The conclusion must be a result of analysis and study. 

Unfounded Prejudices 

In the case of the bank president – and this case is simply typical of hundreds of others – he may be labouring under some false impressions which he would freely and quickly cast aside if he knew the truth. But it is his inalienable right to reason freely and exercise every bit of his reasoning powers without external inhibition. He may be prejudiced against the person asking for the loan, and every reasonable method should be used to help him see that his prejudice is unfounded. He may not see or realize the safety of the security offered, and every reasonable method may be used to help him see that point. Mystical methods may also be used to help in these matters, by concentrating on him and sending to him the true facts as you know them, but not attempting to force him to make his decision. That he must be allowed to do of his own accord after you have sent him, mystically or otherwise, the facts that he should consider. 

Some systems or occult or mystical philosophy try to make the student believe he is justified in using any occult method that he thinks he knows, or any psychological trick they try to teach, to make himself a master of other persons’ minds. But it is a false system, it is a harmful system, it is a failure in producing results and a harm in the reaction it brings to the student from the Cosmic. 

A mystic must understand the proper process of reasoning. This is to enable him to reach better decisions. This will eventually prevent him from reaching erroneous conclusions and acting in error. He may transmit to the mind of another the impressions he wishes to transmit, but to attempt to transmit falsehoods, evil, and unjust thoughts will not only fail in its sinister purpose, but bring a cosmic reaction upon him as a rebuke from the Cosmic Laws. 

There is no need for moral laws made by man, nor legal rulings by the courts of the land. If one cannot ethically do anything, he cannot do it at all. The cosmic code of ethics will cover every act of man, and all of the man-made laws are simply attempts on the part of man to interpret the Cosmic Laws. The interpretations are generally very crude, indeed, and do not serve the mystic nearly so well as the ethical laws of the Cosmic. 
Take the Ten Commandments as interpreted by Moses. Is there one of them that the true mystic cannot find in its pristine form in the ethical laws of the Cosmic? There is no need for the words “Thou shall not kill!” as a moral commandment, for ethically he could not dare to kill. The same is true of all the commandments. 

To the mystic, the ethics of mysticism and of life generally, constitute all the principles of every religion, of every code of law that man has made. He knows that he dares to do many things if he is willing to pay the price of the cosmic Laws of karma – but, what a price! Man, too has arranged a set of punishments for violations of his interpretations of the Cosmic Laws, but man smiles at these very often. Many men have been willing to pay the price that man demands, but would never agree to pay the price that the Cosmic inevitably and relentlessly exacts. 

Men who are ignorant of the Cosmic Laws and the price exacted or the reward bestowed for our actions, are willing to take a chance with man-made laws, and often succeed in evading punishment at the hands of man. But the mystic knows better than to attempt any violation for he knows also that he can never evade a just compensation – never in his whole life, eternally and forever. 

- Author Unknown 

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Mystical Way of Life


The foundation for the goal of illumination must be well and truly laid, for it will affect and determine our whole future life. Once we have set our hearts firmly on the mystical path, our lives will not be the same as they formerly were. However, we will leave behind only the worst part of ourselves. The better part we will carry into a future made more beautiful and valuable than ever before. 

Our studies and experiments, as well as many experiences of life, will prepare us in reaching the goal which we ourselves must strive for. An understanding of the meaning of life brought about by a comprehensive knowledge of man and the universe, together with the knowledge of the laws and principles operation through them will help lay a foundation for the ideal we seek. 

Much time must be given to meditation and contemplation on the whole spectrum of life, and our relationship to it. Such knowledge and experience is an indispensable foundation in our search for the truth of life, which can prove so valuable to us in our endeavours to find the secrets of our being and all they can mean to mankind. 

This preparation entails much study and reflection. Step by step we must make headway into the realm of the known and the unknown. We seek to embrace all knowledge, and we seek this knowledge from many sources in the world’s literature, as well as in our studies. A persistent searching must pervade our consciousness. The desire to know and understand must be a daily ideal. We seek the unknown within ourselves by plunging into the secrets of our own hearts and penetrating into the depth of our own consciousness to reveal the hidden side of life. So much of our past lives lies ready to be revealed, and the vast wisdom of the centuries awaits our discovery and use. 

The Inner Life 

A love of life and of our brothers and sisters must ever guide our search into the life of the soul. This is not simply an exercise in thought control or something easily achieved after a few periods of meditation. It is a condition of attunement, brought about through a lifetime of devotion to spiritual things and a sympathetic love for one’s fellow man. By way of meditation and service, we come to align our objective life to the inner life, and thus our progress in mystical endeavours is assured. 

Purification of our hearts and minds is a most important requirement of the mystical life, one that is often overlooked by those who search for the meaning of life with the eyes of the intellect. But the inner life of the soul will not reveal itself to those who cannot see with the eyes of the heart. 
The high ideals we seek and the desire for illumination exact a price of devotion to a new and higher way of life. Purity of heart and mind and the natural goodness of our desire to serve will carry us forward to a point where we can be inwardly initiated into the life of the soul. Many are not yet ready to meet the challenge of the inner life. They must continue their preparation on another level. Those who are prepared will find that life will make increasing demands upon them so that their preparation for illumination is brought to a point where an inner initiation will carry them to a deeper level of the consciousness of the soul. 

The Preparatory Path 

Illumination is the goal of every mystic. It is acquired after many years of preparation of the physical, mental, and emotional life, along with a specific training of the psychic consciousness and the acquirement of an ever-deepening understanding of the spiritual self. The illumination that comes is in direct proportion to the training and development we have acquired. The musician will be inspired through music, the artist through art, and the mystic will be inspired in the degree that he can serve others through writing, speaking, or in personal contact. The greater Light, Life and Love that illuminated the mind must find a channel of expression which must be highly prepared and developed over a long period of time. Only through well-prepared channels of expression will the light of the Cosmic come down to those who are prepared to receive it. 

Through preparation, purification, and initiation, illumination will finally come to those whose life best expresses the light of God here where it is most needed. 

It is sometimes thought that in order to pursue the inner life successfully, we must change our vocation to one where there are more harmonious and satisfactory conditions to work in, and that every attempt should be made to remove all the trying and disturbing circumstances from our environment. It is a mistake, however, to think that there are certain types of work, particularly manual labour, which will relent successful meditation and the proper inner development. It is often thought that spiritual development will be advanced if we are working in a more humanitarian occupation, but our greatest achievements with the inner self will lie in our ability to overcome the obstacles in our path rather than trying to circumvent them. 

The most useful service we can perform for the benefit of others will be in our own environment, where people are seeking, often quite unknowingly, the light of a new life. Our presence there can be an encouragement and a source of comfort and inspiration when it is most needed. 

We never know the extend of the good we do when we sit in silence and send out thoughts of peace and harmony to others. It is therefore important that we continue to send good thoughts and radiate the harmony of the inner self as often as possible. 

The path of attunement is an ever-growing desire for inner light. It is not the frustrating battle to reach a goal in mundane affairs; rather, we step out into a world of new adventures, whereby many hidden talents are awakened from within, revealing latent abilities quite unknown to us. 

In mysticism, we set our own goals and thereby set our own standard of thought and action. These acts are deeply personal ones, and we should not be too concerned what other people think when we, ourselves, are striving for the best we know in thought and action. 

Mystical attainment is an individual accomplishment. Others influence our way of approaching life, but the development of the inner self must be undertaken in solitude. Others may look outside, but the real student knows that only by retreating within, facing the real self, and by relying on one’s own resources, that the way to the mastery of life is achieved. 

The ultimate end of knowledge on the mystical path is its application in real and useful service to mankind. Our own progress will be accelerated in proportion to our unselfish service in the interest of others, and we will know that our giving will bring real joy and happiness where it is most needed. 

The greatest mystics of the past were men and women whose talents shaped the world we know today. They were writers, artists, inventors, statesmen, thinkers, and philosophers, whose ideas and values were brought forth from the light of the spiritual self. Theirs was not an easy life or a bed of roses. Many were persecuted for their ideals and some give their lives for their beliefs. But mystics they were, first and last. The mystical ideals burned strongly in their hearts, and this is what is needed today: Men and women, dedicated to their ideals, who, by their own resolve, reveal the light of the Soul within and demonstrate the truth of the mystical life, and leave no doubt as to their mastery of the spiritual life and its great value to all mankind. 

- Author Unknown 

Monday, 28 September 2009

Mysticism


What Is A Mystic? 

A Mystic is one who has a particular concept and a method to transform it into a personal experience. The mystical concept, the objective sought, is of a universal nature. That is, man can have an immediate personal experience of the One. This personal experience he seeks is a realization of a unity of the self with the One, that is, the Absolute. 

In the doctrine of mysticism, the One is a term designation Absolute Reality, that is, the totality of All. This Absolute, the One, may have other identities ascribed to it. Yet, in the final analysis, these other names may have, to the mystic, the same innate value. Thus, for example, God, Universal Mind, Cosmic, Supreme Intelligence – all have a correspondence to Absolute Reality, or the One. Only in the mental image which man assigns to them do these terms appear to differ. 

For example, the theistic concept of a personal god is distinctly different from the notion of an impersonal Cosmic. Regardless of which notions the mystics have, they all alike accept certain transcendent qualities. This Supreme One is thought to be ubiquitous; its quality, its essence, pervades all things. It is immutable, eternal, and perfect. It is omnipotent; in other words, it is the cause of all that is or can ever be. It is also thought to be omniscient, that is, all things, as a result of its wisdom, are necessarily perfect. 

It is necessary, according to mystical doctrine, that man should seek a unity with this divine, transient state which he conceives. 

This brief explanation of the universal idea held by mystics may seem to differ little from the spiritual beliefs expounded in most theologies. In long-established religions, even those considered as pagan, the elements of mysticism exist, sometimes as the core. 

However, many religionists will not accept the fact that certain doctrines to which they subscribe are basically mystical in content. This is due to two factors. First, most such individuals have never made even a cursory examination of the principle of mysticism. Second, because of all the erroneous ideas attributed to mysticism, it has become, to the uninformed mind, a subject immersed in superstition and magic. 

Rituals 

The rites, rituals, and ceremonies of all religions may appear to have an element of eccentricity to those who are not familiar with their symbolical significance. Ignorance really mocks itself. Man has often become awkwardly encumbered when he has tried to transform his spiritual ideals into acts and things, in order to represent them finitely. 

The mystic’s concepts, his beliefs, are one thing; and his methods of experiencing them are quite another. Simply, how is the mystic to attain that unity with the One, to which he aspires? The mystic rationally accepts that he must acquire a liberation from the bondage of the secular world. He is then confronted with the realism of man’s dual existence. In other words, there is the common awareness of the physical, mortal existence and, on the other hand the realization of the Inner World with the emotional rapture it can provide. 

The mystic does not attribute this inner aspect of his dual nature exclusively to his organic being. Though its sensations may function through the medium of the brain, glands, and nervous systems, he realizes the origin of this inner aspect is not there. Rather, this Inner Being – Self (or Soul) – he considers to be a link in the concatenation of divine or cosmic forces in which he has his being. The body is not thought by the mystic to be separate from this chain of divine phenomena. To believe such would be counter to the mystic’s concept that a unity exists in all reality. Therefore, to the mystic, there is thought to be a hierarchical order of the manifestations of reality, of the one transcendent power. In essence, these manifestations are, however, all of the same quality. But they vary and may even seem diverse in the manner in which they manifest and express themselves to the human consciousness. We may, for example, use the analogy of the spectrum of light with its different and yet related colours, or the musical scale with its varied yet also related octaves. 

The Physic Element 

The mystic may then refer to this inner part of the self and the complexity of its expression as either the spiritual or the psychic part of the whole of self. In past centuries, this inner aspect was principally alluded to as the spiritual nature of man. However, in more recent times, it has been referred to by the mystic or the student of mysticism as the psychic element of his being, though the word itself is ancient Greek in origin. 

This psychic infusion is considered by the mystic as being the highest of the divine or cosmic forces functioning in man. It its likewise believed to be the threshold of his personal unity with the whole of Reality. This unity that the mystic strives to attain has to him a dichotomy of meaning. On the one hand, this unity is thought to be a plenum of all, that is, nothing is apart from it. In this sense, man is always an intrinsic element of this cosmic or spiritual unity. 

On the other hand, man is a conscious being. And the phenomenon of consciousness is awareness. Succinctly, a thing can only have reality to man if he is aware of it. The mystic contends that this all-absorbing unity with the pristine One can only occur when he is conscious of his inner self merging with it. This unity with God, the universal Mind, the Cosmic – or whatever the mystic conceives its image to be – can only exist to the mystic when he realizes it. It is therefore insufficient to know just the physical self. Such would be like perceiving a finger and not the whole hand. 

Another distinctive and most important characteristic of mysticism is that this experience of exalted Unity is always personal and has an immediacy. In other words, the mystical experience does not require, nor is it experienced through, an intermediary. The rationale of the mystical doctrine in this regard is that the quality of this sublime experience is not transferable from one mind to another. The self must directly realize its integral relationship with the Divine or the Cosmic One. Succinctly put, we have no mystical unity until we know it. The individual can only know by means of his personal attunement and response to that Whole of which he conceives. 

Renowned mystics of the past were devout followers of established traditional religious sects. Upon cursory examination, this may seem to contradict the previously cited essential qualifications of a mystic. All the traditional religious faiths have their clergy, their priests. Such individuals are considered well versed in their dogma and are also thought to be especially spiritually evolved as intermediaries for man. However, a reading of the lives of the prominent mystics down through the centuries reveals that the priests or clergy of the mystics’ religious affiliation were not the direct medium of their mystical experienced. Those mystics actively associated with a religious sect were ardent students of the sacred writings of their particular faith. They were inspired by the traditional rhetoric and preachments of their religious realm. However, all such was but an incentive to personally acquire the necessary enlightenment to attain the spiritual objective. The technique, the instruction such religious teachers expounded, became for the aspiring mystics only the method, the instrument by which they would realize their own mystical experience. The intimate mystical experience, the ultimate unity cannot be divulged to the mystic; all that which is shown or taught to him is but “The Way.” 

Enlightenment 

Though the mystical experience itself is personal, yet the true way, for its realization, is universal in its fundamentals. In other words, a basic preparation involving certain acts must be adhered to if the neophyte is to realize his objective. Unfortunately, this time-tested procedure is not usually conscientiously followed. This “way” to mystical enlightenment has often been corrupted by the accretion of suggestions proclaimed to be worthy but which are actually worthless and often harmful. Primitive magical rites, hypnotism, and other practices have often perverted the true teachings necessary to mystical unity. 

What are the elements of the true method which may be applied by those seeking the personal benefit of mystical unity and its illumination? It is not the purpose of this article to delineate these in detail, nor do we have the space available. However, a few efficacious statements can be made in this regard. 

In the ancient Buddhist dharma (doctrines), there is a concise statement regarding the purpose of meditation, which is a fundamental of all mystical technique. The purpose of meditation is stated to be three fold. First, one dominates the lower aggressive nature of self. Second, one develops the higher faculties and attributes toward a vision of life’s essential unity. Third, one unites the dual nature of man into one continuous spiritual process. 

It is admitted in Buddhist literature that this is a difficult task: “Though one should conquer in a battle a thousand times a thousand men, he who conquers himself is the greatest warrior.” There cannot be a transition from a vulgar, coarse mind to a lofty state of meditation. In other words, the mind must be constant in the higher ideals and objectives which it seeks. 

The Body, A Vehicle 

Concern for the body is likewise advocated for the true mystic. Asceticism, with its frequent self-mortification, is not recommended by true mysticism. We are reminded that “the body is a vehicle of consciousness.” Deliberate, rhythmic deep breathing is the means by which one purges the body of its impurities and infuses the energies conveyed by air. Exotic postures, so often associated with deep breathing in so-called mystical practice, are not absolutely essential to it. 

The Buddhist technique particularly recommends that the best results in meditation are had in the morning. Of course, this advice is not limited to Buddhist instruction alone. The mind is then rested and fresh, and is unencumbered by the many impressions of the day. It is further suggested that one always conduct his meditation, if possible, in the same place. This creates a familiar surrounding that becomes symbolic of the purpose, and aids in attaining the desired state of consciousness. 

It may be asked, “And what results are to be expected from, let us say, Buddhist meditation?” It is said that true results of meditation in its early stage are both negative and positive. The negative aspect is the reduction of external objective impressions which normally dominate the consciousness. As a result, the aspirant acquires greater tranquillity. The positive result in meditation, as related in the doctrines of antiquity, is that the individual acquires a greater universal understanding of humanity and of himself. In short, the self is bombarded to a lesser extent by external impressions, permitting that introversion which results in a greater self- realization. 

A distinction is made in the Buddhist Dharma between concentration and meditation. We quote these ancient doctrines to show the line of true meditation that carries down to those organizations perpetuating authentic mystical methods: “The goal of concentration is immediate and finite; the goal of meditation is ultimate and infinite.” 

The Tibetan presentation of the subject of meditation is a conglomerate of Hindu and Buddhist doctrines as well as the indigenous traditional beliefs of the Tibetan peoples. Though the Hindu teachings in Tibet preceded Buddhism by centuries, they were later greatly influenced by its doctrines. The famed Buddhist doctrine of the “eightfold Path” became an integral part of Tibetan religion and philosophy. The doctrine of the Eightfold Path, as it descends to us today with slight variations, admonishes one to pursue Right Belief, Right Seeing, Right Aspiration, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Endeavouring, Right Remembering, and Right Meditation. 

It is assumed that from such character and discipline one would pass to higher degrees of understanding, as the aspirant would come to “realize the non-existence of the personal ego.” This simply means that the individual ego would be absorbed into the Absolute, that Unity which is the essence of meditation. It is said, “Then, again, as the mere name of food doth not satisfy the appetite of a hungry person, but he must eat food, or, also a man who would learn about the voidness (of thought) must meditate so as to realize it, and not merely its definition.” 

Are we to assume from all the foregoing that the goal of the mystic is but an abstract idealism, an escape from the rigors of the phenomenal world of everyday reality? Is mysticism but a retreat into a world constructed of figments of the subconscious? Does the mystic thus live entirely unto himself, isolated from the needs of the rest of mankind? If this were so, it would then make mysticism solely a practice of soteriology, a mere personal and selfish system of spiritual salvation. 

The real purpose of mystical unity is to seek a contiguity with the source of greater enlightenment. The modern mystic is one who realizes that self is an integration of levels of consciousness, of awareness. Our common perception, our objective consciousness is limited. We are all aware of the illumination that comes to us at times as inspiration and intuition, and also of their differentiation from our common perception. Every artist, writer, inventor, and scientist is enhanced at times by the brilliance of the unexpected thought that suddenly enters the conscious mind. The mystic seeks to climb, figuratively speaking, a ladder of consciousness, not only to be able to grasp from his own exalted level of consciousness a new knowledge, or illumination, but to regenerate the lower levels of his mind by means of the momentary influx of what might be termed Divine Light, Cosmic Illumination, and so on. Such a mystical experience is to be translated into terms, ideas which are comprehensible to the individual, and which are adaptable to his worldly life in the form of practical knowledge. 

It is fallacious idea that the object of meditation is to merely experience a state of euphoria, of sheer tranquillity. Such in itself contributes little to the welfare of humanity. True meditation is much in accord with modern psychology. Psychology refers to meditation as a form of “altered consciousness”; and so it is. Concentration is a function commonly of the objective consciousness. It is the focusing of the attention upon external stimuli, the impressions of the peripheral senses. 

Contemplation, reasoning, and imagination are the result of an introversion of the consciousness to thoughts and ideas. In other words, it is concentration turned inward, involving the subjective levels of consciousness. Yet it is not true meditation, as meditation transcends these other forms of our mental attributes and it is not related to a fixed symbol or idea. Having a fixed symbol or idea in connection with the technique of meditation is but an elementary aid, and not the final key that unlocks the inner powers of mind. 

- Author Unknown 

Sunday, 27 September 2009

An Emergency


              A well-respected surgeon was relaxing on his sofa one evening just after arriving home from work. As he was tuning into the evening news, the phone rang. The doctor calmly answered it and heard the familiar voice of a colleague on the other end of the line. “We need a fourth for poker,” Said the friend.
              “I’ll be right over,” whispered the doctor.
              As he was putting on his coat, his wife asked, “Is it serious?”
              “Oh yes, quite serious,” said the doctor gravely. “In fact, three doctors are there already!”

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Life Goes On


Miracle Man Walks Again

This news is more than 2 years ago - (Monday, July 9, 2007). Still, it is newsworthy. See the enthusiasm, confidence and tenacity on his face? Can we ever be distressed, impatient or complaining for frivolous reasons after witnessing this?

He survived against all the odds; now Peng Shu Lin has astounded doctors by learning to walk again.


When his body was cut in two by a lorry in 1995, it was little short of a medical miracle that he lived. It took a team of more than 20 doctors to save his life. Skin was grafted from his head to seal his torso? But the legless Mr Peng was left only 78cm ( 2ft 6in ) tall.

Bedridden for years, doctors in China had little hope that he would ever be able to live anything like a normal life again. But recently, he began exercising his arms, building up the strength to carry out everyday chores such as washing his face and brushing his teeth.


Doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Centre in Beijing found out about Mr Peng's plight late last year and devised a plan to get him up walking again. They came up with an ingenious way to allow him to walk on his own, creating a sophisticated egg cup-like casing to hold his body with two bionic legs attached to it.

He has been taking his first steps around the centre with the aid of his specially adapted legs and a resized walking frame. Mr Peng, who has to learn how to walk again, is said to be delighted with the device. What Self Confidence!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Oneness


Life itself is contentment. We say it is full of misery and suffering, only because man is not satisfied with his life. If man is able to remake himself, eliminate the cause of misery and suffering and realize contentment, life becomes meaningful. We colour the universe and the world according to what we think about them. When we look at them with the Buddha’s eyes, we can see the universe and the world as they really are and acknowledge that they are nothing but the manifestation of one Oneness of life where all things, animate and inanimate, exists interdependently.

If we understand the importance of the Oneness of life, we can partake other’s joy, being happy with and for other’s happiness since we are one and the mistreatment of another is none other than the mistreatment of self. On the other hand, if we fail to understand it, we lead an antagonistic life in ‘many-ness’. Here we do not partake of other’s joy, but rather show envy and jealousy at the success of even our best friend. Man lives in an unnatural state of many-ness which because it is unnatural, creates tension in his living.

- Author Unknown 

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Awareness


To be aware means to feel what is happening in the moment; to live in the present. The more fully we feel, the more aware we are. Awareness implies two seemingly mutually exclusive forces: involvement and detachment. The involvement is expressed by our willingness to feel whatever arises, the detachment by the fact that we take the stance of a mere witness, only noticing what is happening and letting it dissolve of its own accord, by our actually feeling it fully. Thus, awareness implies that we are open, alive and ready, without adding to or subtracting from what presents itself – and ultimately liberates itself.

Because everything only exists when noticed, awareness is the base of everything. For us, however, the journey of awareness begins very simply, by paying attention, with what the Buddha called proper mindfulness of body, breath and thoughts. In other words, awareness means that we feel and notice what is happening in the moment, and this includes attention to every detail in our day to day activities.

- Paula Horan

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Good Riddance


In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today? - Mary Manin Morrissey 


Have you got the habit of hoarding useless objects, thinking that one day, who knows when, you may need them? 

Have you got the habit of accumulating money and not spending it because you think that in the future you may in want of it?

Have you got the habit of storing clothes, shoes, furniture, utensils and other home supplies that you haven’t used already for some time?

And inside yourself…? Have you got the habit to keep reproaches, resentment, sadness, fears and more?

Don’t do it! You are going against your prosperity. It is necessary to make room, to leave an empty space in order to allow new things to arrive in your life.

It is necessary that you get rid of all the useless things that are in you and in your life in order for prosperity to arrive.

The force of this emptiness is one that will absorb and attract all that you wish.

As long as you are materially or emotionally holding the old and useless feelings, you won’t have room for new opportunities.

Goods must circulate: clean your drawers, the wardrobes, the workshop the garage. Give away what you don’t use any longer.

The attitude of keeping a heap of useless stuff ties your life down.

It’s not the objects you keep that stagnate your life… but rather the attitude of heaping. When we keep in store, we consider the possibility of wanting, of penury.

We believe that tomorrow we may lack, and that we won’t be able to fulfil those necessities. With that idea, you are sending two messages to your brain and to your life. That you don’t trust tomorrow, and you think that the new and better are not for you.

For this reason you cheer yourself up by holding on to old and useless stuff.

Get rid of what lost its colour and brightness. Let the new enter your home, your life and yourself.

- Author Unknown 

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Happiness Is Like A Virus


Those feel-good vibes that flow from your being happy can be good for your health. Moreover, your happiness will likely rub off on others, making them happy too. Happiness is like a virus – it can be passed on.

These are the findings of two studies done in the United States over the past 20 years.

In one of the studies, reported three years ago, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University said there is evidence that positive emotions like happiness are linked to good health and increased longevity.

While the scientists drew no definite conclusions after talking to hundreds of people over a 10-year period, they deduced that people with positive emotions experience lower rates of chronic illness, symptoms and pain.

They also found that ‘happy’ test subjects were more resistant to cold and flu viruses than people with more negative feelings.

In the other study, a 20-year one by a team from the University of California at San Diego and Harvard University, 5,000 participants were quizzed on their social networks. The researchers reported that, on average, every happy person in one’s environment increases one’s own chance of happiness by 9 per cent. 

We should welcome such ‘contagion’. However, this isn’t about fleeting happiness. It isn’t about the kind you feel after a pleasant evening with friends, or having snapped up a good bargain at a sale. It is about lasting happiness linked to positive thoughts.

A positive attitude, when in the most trying of circumstances, is admittedly hard to achieve, but it can help raised one’s spirits and fight off those unhappy blues.

- Gloria Chandy 

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A Suitable Title


When seeking the advice of a distinguished author, a young writer once said, “Mr. Maugham, I’ve just written a novel, but I haven’t been able to come up with a suitable title. You seem to have a such a knack for titles, sir, ‘Cakes and Ale,’ ‘The Razor’s Edge.’ I wonder if you would read my novel and help me.”

“Don’t need to read your novel,” said Maugham. “Are there drums in it?”

“No, it’s not that sort of story. You see, it deals with the alienation of …”

“Are there any bugles in it?”

“No, sir.” 

“Call it, ‘No Drums, No Bugles.’”

Friday, 18 September 2009

Karma/Rebirth


If the topics of Karma and Rebirth interest you, you may want to take a look at the following article from "The Buddhist Blog". The article gives you an alternative perspective and explains why the idea of the Rebirth is not that far-fetched.

http://thebuddhistblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/rebirth-karma-radio-waves-supernovae.html/

Rebirth


The concept of rebirth or reincarnation might be alien to westerners, but to most followers of Taoism and Buddhism in Asia, it is an accepted tenet. 

Taoists and Buddhists do not regard rebirth or reincarnation as a mere theory but as a fact verifiable by evidence. 

“As a man, casting off worn-out garments, take the new ones, so the dweller in the body, casting off worn-out bodies entered into others that are new.” 


Associated with karma is rebirth. As long as karmic force exists there is rebirth, for beings are merely the visible manifestations of this invisible karmic force.

Life does not die at the body's death, nor do the consequence of a dead. Forms are created and destroyed; they come into being, secure their purpose and then die, but the life within knows no such limitations until it reaches its goal - Nirvana.

Death is the death of the body, and as the body comes into being it must one day die. Death is therefore a gateway to a different form of life; one which is strictly limited by the thoughts and acts of the individual.

Death is nothing but the temporary end of this temporary phenomenon. It is not the complete annihilation of this so-called being. The organic life has ceased, but the karmic force which hitherto actuated it has not been destroyed. As the karmic force remains entirely undisturbed by the disintegration of the fleeting body, the passing away of the present dying thought-moment only conditions a fresh consciousness in another birth.

It is karma, rooted in ignorance and craving that conditions rebirth. Past karma conditions the present birth; and present karma, in combination with past karma, conditions the future. The present is the off spring of the past and becomes in turn the parent of the future.

The cause of this karma is ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. Ignorance is therefore, the cause of birth and death; and its transmutation into knowingness is consequently their cessation.

The karmic law cannot be altered by the forgiveness of sins but must be overcome by doing more good and eradicating evil from the mind by your own efforts. Understanding of the law of karma leads to self-reliance.

- Author Unknown 

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Karma


Karma is a word used to encompass everything that anyone has ever done or will do. Your own karma is your unfinished business with others as well as with yourself. It is the natural law that brings you into physical life and takes you out of it; life itself is actually a factory manufacturing karma.

Karma basically is a result of our actions in this and previous existences. Karma, is then the key to reincarnation since it holds that our future lives are determined by our deeds and actions in any one incarnation.

Each and every act receives its retribution in this sense, no matter how many lifetimes it may take; for karma is also concerned with the search for perfection. Each lifetime produces a credit of good deeds offset by other that are no necessarily evil although, in some lives, evil seem to dominate.

This concept defeats the notion of sceptics that if we accept reincarnation, we simple sit around waiting for another life, hoping that everything will come up roses. On the contrary, the learning process involved in karma implies personal responsibility for each and every act. If we do not care properly about the quality of our lives, then karma reiterates its lesson until we begin to understand the need to change our way of life and conscientiously strives to do so.

- Source Unknown 

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Who’s the Fool


Long is the night to him who is awake
Long is the path to him who is tired
Even so, long is the life to the foolish
who knows not the Sublime Truth - Buddhist Saying 

If a traveller does not come across anyone who is his superior or at least equal, let him keep his solitary journey firmly, for there is no use having the company of a fool.

“These are my sons; this is my wealth.” – such thoughts torment only a fool, who does not know that he himself does not belong to himself; much less his sons and wealth.

The fool who knows that he is foolish is wise to that extent. But the fool who considers himself to be wise is indeed a fool.

If a fool lives with a wise man all his life, he will be able to perceive as much of the truth as the spoon lying in the soup may perceive of its taste.

But if a man of understanding be associated with the wise even though for only a minute, he will soon perceive the truth, the tongue tasting the soup.

Fools are the greatest enemies of their own selves, for their foolish deeds bear bitter fruits for them.

That deed is wrong after doing which one repents and the results of which one receives with tears. And that deed is good after doing which one has not to repent and the reward of which one receives with a smile.

As long as an evil deed does not bear its fruits, the fool thinks it is honey, but when the deed bears fruit the fool suffers untold grief.

- Author Unknown 


Monday, 14 September 2009

A Touching Story


I got the following story through an email from a friend. I think the story is true. The picture, with the story will warm your heart.


The Doberman is pregnant. The fireman had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, then he continued to fight the fire. 

When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest. 

A photographer from the Charlotte, North Carolina Newspaper, noticed the dog in the distance looking at the fireman. 

He saw the Doberman walking straight toward the fire fighter and wondered what she was going to do. 

As he raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had just saved her life and the lives of her unborn babies and kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph. 

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Language


              A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. “In English,’’ he said. “A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.’’ 
              A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Tao


At the Great Beginning there was “Non-Being.” This Non-Being was described as “emptiness.” And that “the Tao abides in ‘emptiness.’” By analogy, “to a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” An amplification was given in the following passage: “Maintain the unity of your will. Do not listen with the mind but with the spirit (Ch’i). The function of the ear ends with hearing; that of the mind with symbols of ideas. But the spirit is an emptiness ready to receive all things.”

A Ch’an (Zen) term, descriptive of movement and space, expresses this state of receptivity as K’ai wu (open awareness), to apprehend in the deepest and widest sense. By “stilling the heart” or shedding the thoughts and emotions of personal life and become a tranquil sphere, an individual could reflect in his hear-mind or as a pool or a mirror, as the Taoist describe it, the power (ch’i) of the Tao, the harmony of Heaven and Earth. Hence the phrase “mirror-like wisdom.”

The stillness and tranquillity associated with emptiness of space and the Tao is also silent, adding to the mystery of the Tao and stressing the reserve and meditative habits necessary for one to be receptive and able to express the Tao. Silence and emptiness of space possess vast powers of suggestion, stimulating the imagination and sharpening the perception. Only through exercise of these highest faculties can the Tao be apprehended and expressed.

In stilling the heart an individual can become one with the elements of nature, the creative force of the Tao. This becoming ‘One’ is the true meaning of wholeness.

- George R. Parulski

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Twenty Stumbling Blocks on the Path to Enlightenment


It is hard for a poor man to be generous. 
It is hard for a rich man to learn the way to enlightenment.
It is hard to seek enlightenment at the cost of self-sacrifice.
It is hard to see the Buddha-world in the present world.
It is hard to hear the Buddha’s teaching in the turmoil of this world.
It is hard to keep the mind pure against the instincts of the body.
It is hard for a strong man not to use his strength to gratify his desire.
It is hard not to get angry when one is insulted.
It is hard not to desire that which is beautiful and attractive.
It is hard to remain innocent when tempted by sudden circumstances.
It is hard to apply oneself to study.
It is hard not to look down on a beginner.
If successful, it is hard to keep humble.
It is hard to get a good friend.
It is hard to endure discipline to make oneself a faithful practicing Buddhist.
It is hard not to be disturbed and upset by the external conditions surrounding us.
It is hard to teach others by being mindful of nature.
It is hard to attain a peaceful mind. 
It is hard not to get into arguments about religion.
It is hard to find and practice a good method.

- Author Unknown 

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Aloofness


Seek no intimacy with the beloved, and never with the ‘unbeloved’. Not seeing the beloved, and the sight of the ‘unbeloved’, are both painful. When parted from those whom we love, we feel a sense of personal loss. When forced to associate with those whom we hate, we feel a personal irritation. Both feelings are painful.

Intimate association with the beloved and the ‘unbeloved’ are both potentially painful. Aloofness on the other hand, tends to lessen the intensity of such emotions and the pain they can engender. Such is the teaching of the Buddha, clear and uncompromising. 

There may be those who will call this teaching cold and inhuman. They may say, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

They are at liberty to love and lose as many times as they please, in this life and in future lives, until they realize that they are making fools of themselves. There may be others who pride themselves on being good haters. They too are free to go their own road until repeated suffering teaches them that the hater harms himself more than he harms the object of his hate.

There are a few people, extremely few, to whom the teaching of aloofness has a strong appeal. They are the mature ones, who have had their fill of loving and hating. They are beginning to feel instinctively that freedom lies in letting go. It is to such people really that the Buddha spoke. The rest merely happened to be present, and to hear with their ears but not with their hearts.

Aloofness is the tree of wisdom grows and thrives, bearing at last the fruit of Insight.

The world we live in is built upon the very notion of self which the Buddha sought to eradicate. All its activities and all its vested interests are bound up with this basic idea. Any departure from the accepted standards of conduct will inevitably be branded as anti-social. Aloofness is such a departure, and is bound to be resented by those who love the world and its ways.

- Author Unknown 

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Key To Happiness


Everyone is seeking happiness. Of all the needs of the human race, nothing seems to be stronger than the pursuit of happiness. All man sought happiness as a constant and ultimate goal so that the unpleasant and painful experience could possibly be avoided.

Life is insecure and threatened at all times. Meeting of hated ones and separation from loved ones, loneliness and emptiness, guilty consciousness and inferiority complex, and finally the thrust into the jaws of death – all these make us feel that this life is full of misery and suffering, and we want to possibly avoid or forget such facts of life.

To guard the mind from actions of lust, hate and delusion and train it to perform actions freed from lust, hate and delusion is the way to true happiness in the dispensation of the Buddha.

Control of the mind is the key to happiness. It is the king of virtues and the force behind all true achievement. It is owing to lack of control that various conflicts arise in man’s mind. If he is to control them he must learn not to give free rein to his longings and inclinations and should try to live self-governed, pure and calm.

Calmness is not weakness. A calm attitude at all times shows a man of culture. It is not too hard for a man to be calm when things are favourable, but to be composed when things are wrong is hard indeed, and it is this difficult quality that is worth achieving; for by such calm and control he builds up strength of character.

A virtuous and a noble character built on lofty principles is the man’s highest possession that brings him true happiness in a changing world. Everything that we depend on to make us happy, the law of impermanence will lay its cruel hands on and destroy the happiness expected through them.

Metta restores one to peace, happiness, calm and equanimity. The only way of disarming those who wish us evil is to wish them good. As light dispels darkness, the good forces of good will vanquish the forces of ill-will. This is a psychological truth.

One should never depend on others for one’s happiness. He who expects to secure satisfaction in life from others is worse than the beggar who kneels and cries for his daily bread.

- Author Unknown 

Monday, 7 September 2009

Live A Life That Matters


Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you colleted, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owned. Your grudges, resentments, frustration, and jealousies will finally disappear. So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seem so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you live, at the end. It won’t matter whether you are beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin colour will be irrelevant.

So, what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? 

What will matter is not, what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you are gone. What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters does not happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters – now!

- Author Unknown

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Humorous Signs


On the trucks of a local plumbing company in: 
Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.

On a fence: 
Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive.

At the electric company: 
We would be de-lighted if you send in your bill. However, if you don’t, you will be.

Outside a photographer’s studio:
Out to lunch; if not back by five, out for dinner also.

On motorway garage:
Please do not smoke near our petrol pumps. Your life may not be worth much but our petrol is.

At a farm gate:
Beware! I shoot every tenth trespasser and the ninth one has just left.

Notice in a field:
The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.

On an electrician’s truck: 
Let us remove your shorts.

Sign On A Famous Beauty Parlor Window:
Don't Whistle At The Girls Going Out From Here. She May Be Your Grandmother!

Sign At A Barber's Saloon:
We Need Your Heads To Run Our Business.

Advertisement In A Long Island Shop:
Guitar, for sale ... Cheap ... no strings attached.

Ad In Hospital Waiting Room:
Smoking Helps You Lose Weight ... One Lung At A Time!

Sign In A Bar:
'Those Of You Who Are Drinking To Forget, Please Pay In Advance.'

Sign In Driving School:
If Your Wife Wants To Learn To Drive, Don't Stand In Her Way.

A Traffic Slogan:
Don't Let Your Kids Drive If They are Not Old Enough Or Else They Will Never Be.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Natural Wonders


The classical natural wonders are huge and hard to miss - vast canyons, giant mountains and the like Many of the most fantastic natural phenomena, however, are also least easy to spot. Some are incredibly rare while others are located in hard-to-reach parts of the planet. From moving rocks to mammatus clouds and red tides to fire rainbows, here are seven of the most spectacular phenomenal wonders of the natural world. 


1) Sailing Stones
The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a centre of scientific controversy for decades. Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements. However, this theory does not explain evidence of different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions. Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones. 



2) Columnar Basalt
When a thick lava flow cools it contracts vertically but cracks perpendicular to its directional flow with remarkable geometric regularity - in most cases forming a regular grid of remarkable hexagonal extrusions that almost appear to be made by man. One of the most famous such examples is the Giant's Causeway on the coast of Ireland (shown above) though the largest and most widely recognized would be Devil's Tower in Wyoming .. Basalt also forms different but equally fascinating ways when eruptions are exposed to air or water. 



3) Blue Holes
Blue holes are giant and sudden drops in underwater elevation that get their name from the dark and foreboding blue tone they exhibit when viewed from above in relationship to surrounding waters. They can be hundreds of feet deep and while divers are able to explore some of them they are largely devoid of oxygen that would support sea life due to poor water circulation - leaving them eerily empty. Some blue holes, however, contain ancient fossil remains that have been discovered, preserved in their depths. 



4) Red Tides
Red tides are also known as algal blooms - sudden influxes of massive amounts of coloured single-cell algae that can convert entire areas of an ocean or beach into a blood red colour. While some of these can be relatively harmless, others can be harbingers of deadly toxins that cause the deaths of fish, birds and marine mammals. In some cases, even humans have been harmed by red tides though no human exposure are known to have been fatal. While they can be fatal, the constituent phytoplankton in ride tides are not harmful in small numbers. 



5) Ice Circles
While many see these apparently perfect ice circles as worthy of conspiracy theorizing, scientists generally accept that they are formed by eddies in the water that spin a sizable piece of ice in a circular motion. As a result of this rotation, other pieces of ice and flotsam wear relatively evenly at the edges of the ice until it slowly forms into an essentially ideal circle. Ice circles have been seen with diameters of over 500 feet and can also at times be found in clusters and groups at different sizes as shown above. 



6) Mammatus Clouds
True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system. Typically composed primarily of ice, they can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction and individual formations can remain visibly static for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. While they may appear foreboding they are merely the messengers - appearing around, before or even after severe weather. 



7) Fire Rainbows
A circumhorizontal fire rainbow arc occurs at a rare confluence of right time and right place for the sun and certain clouds. Crystals within the clouds refract light into the various visible waves of the spectrum but only if they are arrayed correctly relative to the ground below. Due to the rarity with which all of these events happen in conjunction with one another, there are relatively few remarkable photos of this phenomena.


Friday, 4 September 2009

Where Do We Learn To Solve Our Sorrows?


Although frustration and sorrow are basic to human life, there is no school, college or university in the country which teaches us how to face problems.

It was Buddha who, so intimately concerned about human suffering, he renounced everything to seek a cure to these universal problems. He was concerned about problems facing you and me – our frustrations, our sufferings and our feelings of hopelessness.

In his enlightenment, the Buddha found that man suffers because of his wrong views. Being ignorant of the nature of things, he gets infatuated with them – his life, his ideas, his family, his property, his pride. Only after developing wisdom to see and experience the truth of all things will he be able to put an end to suffering.

The Buddha realized that the phenomena rise and fall away immediately. From the largest to the smallest, all are in the state of flux. On a clear night we see millions of twinkling stars. What we do not see are the clouds of gas coalescing into stars and galaxies, the myriad stars and planets in various stages of evolving and decaying, the planets circuiting in their solar systems. The smallest of things, the atom, is in constant flux with the electrons orbiting around its nucleus.

Our physical body replaces its old tissues with new cells. Our thoughts, impressions, perceptions, experiences, wants and desires are changing day-by-day and moment-by-moment. Toy guns and dolls which once made us happy are no longer satisfactory now. Our happiness is short lived. If we emerge top in an examination, the rejoicing will last at the most for a few days. Such happiness evaporates like the early mist in the morning sun.

Because of wrong views, man clings and desires for pleasurable things, and avoids unpleasant things. Things which please the senses – fragrant smells, beautiful sights, pleasant sensations, delicious tastes, soothing sounds – he pursues for more. Unpleasant things are avoided. He dislikes people who hurt his ego and turns away from bores. He pursues someone who has captivated him and he tries to possess everything pleasing.

Man then builds his world on concepts which he calls “I”, and “Me” and “Mine”. He will say, “These are my wealth, my property, my children, my youth and beauty, my knowledge.” “Look here,” he shouts, “You are hurting my feelings. Don’t you know who I am?” He clings to things and tries to own them.

Does he realize that in reality none of these things belongs to him? No, when he dies, all his wealth and property pass on to others. There is nothing he can bring beyond the grave – not even his own body.

- Author Unknown 

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Four Sublime States


LOVE ( Metta )

Love, without desire to possess, knowing well that in the ultimate sense there is no possession and no possessor – this is highest love.

Love, without speaking and thinking of “I”, knowing well that this so-called “I” is a mere delusion.

Love, without selecting and excluding; knowing well that to do so means to create Love’s own contrasts: dislike, aversion, and hatred.

Love, embracing all beings: small and great, far and near, be it on earth, in the water, or in the air.

Love, that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.

Love, embracing impartially all sentient beings, and not only those who are useful, pleasing, or amusing to us.

Love, embracing all beings, be they noble minded or low-minded, good or evil. The noble and the good are embraced because Love is flowing to them spontaneously. The low and evil-minded are included because they are those who are most in need of Love. In many of them the seed of goodness may have died merely because warmth was lacking for its growth, because it perished from coldness in a loveless world.

Love, embracing all beings, knowing well that we all are fellow wayfarers through this round of existence – that we all are overcome by the same Law of Suffering.

Love, but not the sensuous fire that burns, scorches, and tortures; that inflicts more wounds than it cures flaring up now, at the next moment being extinguished, leaving behind more coldness and loneliness than there was felt before.

Rather Love that lies like a soft but firm hand on the ailing beings, ever unchanged in its sympathy, without wavering, unconcerned with any response it meets. Love that is comforting coolness to those who burn with the fire of suffering and passion; that is life-spending warmth to those abandoned in the cold desert of loneliness; to those who are shivering in the frost of a loveless world; to those whose hearts have become as if empty and dry by the repeated calls for help, by deepest despair.

Love, that is strength and gives strength, this is highest Love.

Love, which by the Enlightened One was named “The Liberation of the Heart”, “The most sublime beauty”, this is the highest Love.

And what is the highest manifestation of Love?
To show to the world the Path leading to the End of Suffering, the Path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.

COMPASSION ( Karuna )

The world suffers. But most of men have their eyes and ears closed. They do not see the unbroken stream of tears flowing through life; they do not hear the cry of distress continually pervading the world. Their own little grief or joy bars their sight, deafens their ears. They do not realize that only release from selfish craving will effect their own freedom from suffering. 

It is Compassion that removes the heavy bar and opens the door to Freedom. Compassion takes away from it the inert, weighing, paralysing heaviness, gives wings to those who cling to the lowlands of self.

Through Compassion the fact of Suffering remains vividly present to our mind, even at times when personally we are free from it. It gives us rich experience of Suffering, thus strengthening us to meet it prepared, when it befalls us.

Compassion reconciles us to our own destiny by showing us the life of others, often much harder than ours.

Behold the endless caravan of beings, men and beasts burdened with sorrow and pain! The burden of every one of them, we also have carried it in bygone times during the unfathomable sequence of repeated births. And this misery may well be our own destiny again! 

Whoso himself is without Compassion now, will one day cry for it. If sympathy with others is lacking, it will have to be acquired through a long and painful experience of one’s own. Thus is the Great Law of Life. Knowing this keep guard over yourself!

Beings, sunk in ignorance, lost in delusion, hasten from one state of suffering to another, not knowing the real cause, not knowing the escape from it. This insight into the general Law of Suffering is the real foundation of our Compassion, not any isolated fact of suffering.

Hence our Compassion will also include those who at the moment may be happy, but act with an evil and deluded mind. In their present deeds we shall foresee their future state of distress, and Compassion will arise.

The Compassion of the wise does not render him a victim of suffering. His thoughts, words, and deeds are full of pity. But his heart does not waver, unchanged it remains, serene and firm. How else should he be able to help?

May such Compassion arise in our hearts! Compassion that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.

Compassion that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest Compassion. 

And what is the highest manifestation of Compassion?

To show to the world the Path leading to the End of Suffering, the Path pointed out, trodden and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.

Sympathetic Joy ( Mudita )

Small, indeed, is the share of happiness and joy allotted to beings! Whenever that little of happiness comes to beings, then you may rejoice with them that, at least, one ray of joy has pierced through he darkness of their life, and dispelled the grey and gloomy mist that enwraps their heart.

Your life will gain in joy by sharing the happiness of others as if it were yours. Did you never observe how in moments of happiness men’s features change and become bright with joy? Did you never notice how joy rouses men to noble aspirations and deeds, exceeding their normal capacity? Did not such experience fill your own heart with joyful bliss? It is in your power to increase such experience of Sympathetic Joy, by producing happiness in others, by bringing them joy and solace.

Life, though being full of woe holds also sources of happiness and joy, unknown to most. Let us teach men to seek and to find real joy within themselves and to rejoice with the joy of others! Let us teach them to unfold their joy to ever more sublime heights!

Noble and sublime joy is not foreign to the Teaching of the Enlightened One. The Dharma leads from step to step to an ever purer and loftier happiness.

Noble and sublime joy is a helper on the Path to the Extinction of Suffering. Not he who is depressed by grief, but one possessed of joy may find that serene calmness leading to a contemplative state of mind. And only a mind serene and collected is able to gain the liberating Wisdom.

The more sublime and nobler the joy of others is, the more justified will be our own Sympathetic Joy. A cause for our joy with others is their noble life securing them happiness here and in lives hereafter. A still nobler cause for our Joy with others is their faith in the Dharma, their understanding of the Dharma, their following the Dharma. Let us give them the help of the Dharma! Let us strive to become more and more able ourselves of rendering such help!

Sympathetic Joy, meaning a sublime nobility of intellect which knows, understands, and is ready to help!

Sympathetic Joy that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest joy.

And what is the highest manifestation of Sympathetic Joy?

To show to the world the Path leading to the End of Suffering, the Path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.

Equanimity (Upekkha)

Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in Insight.

Looking around us into the world and within us into our own heart, we see clearly how difficult it is to attain balance of mind and to maintain it.

Looking into life we notice its changeful nature continually moving between contrasts. We notice rise and fall, success and failure, loss and gain; we meet honour and blame and we feel how our heart responds to all that with happiness and sorrow, delight and despair, disappointment and satisfaction, hope and fear. These waves of emotion carry us up, and fling us down; and no sooner we find some rest, than we are in the power of a new wave again. How can we expect to get a footing on the crest of the waves? How shall we erect the building of our life in the midst of this ever-restless ocean of existence, if not on the Island of Equanimity?

A world where that little share of happiness allotted to beings is mostly secured after many disappointments, failures, and defeats; a world where only the courage to start anew, again and again, promises success; a world where scanty joy grows amidst sickness, separation, and death; a world where beings who were a short while ago connected with us by Sympathetic Joy, are at the next moment in want of our Compassion – such a world needs Equanimity.

But the kind of Equanimity required has to be based on vigilant presence of mind, not on indifferent dullness. It has to be the result of deliberate and hard training, and not the casual outcome of a passing mood. Equanimity would not deserve its name, if it had to be produced by exertion again and again. In that way it is sure to be weakened and finally defeated by the vicissitudes of life. True equanimity, however, should be able to meet all these severe tests and to regenerate its strength from sources within. But it will possess this power of resistance and self-renewal only if it is rooted in Insight.

To establish Equanimity as an unshakable state of mind one has gradually to give up all possessive thoughts of mine, beginning with little things from which it is easy to detach oneself, up to possessions and aims to which our whole heart clings. Moreover, one has to give up step by step all “thoughts of Self”, beginning with a small section of one’s “personality”, with qualities of minor importance. With small weaknesses clearly seen by oneself, up to those emotions and aversions which are regarded as the centre of one’s “Self”. Thus detachment should be practiced.

To the degree we forsake thoughts of “Mine” or “Self” Equanimity will enter into our hearts. For how can it be that, what we realize as something foreign and void of a Self shall cause us any agitation, be it of lust, of hatred or of grief? Thus the Teaching of Non-self will be our guide on the Path to Deliverance, to the Equanimity of holiness.

But its perfection and its unshakable nature are not lifeless rigidity; they are not like the inert gravity of matter. Equanimity is not dullness, heartlessness and frigidity. Its perfection is not due to an emotional ‘emptiness’, but to a ‘fullness’ of understanding, to its being complete in itself. Its unshakable nature is not the immovability of a dead, cold stone, but the manifestation of highest inner strength.

- Author Unknown