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Archive for the ‘Vedanta’ Category

BoysHoldingHeart

Det sies at når vi forlater kroppen og livet på jorden våkner vi opp i en lysere, lettere verden fylt av ubeskrivelig kjærlighet og godhet. Livet slik vi levde det står krystallklart for oss ned til hver minste detalj. Det er som hele livet er der på en gang. Samtidig vevd sammen med rekken av alle tidligere liv. Vi ser tydelig hva vi skulle lære, hva vi forstod og hva vi fortsatt må arbeide videre med. Slektninger og lysende åndsvesener kommer oss i møte. Et av de første spørsmålene vi blir stilt er dette: Hva elsket du virkelig i livet?

Elske er slikt et stort ord. Mer forenklet betyr det hva jeg retter min oppmerksomhet mot. Det inneholder likevel noe mer. Det må også være et emosjonelt engasjement av virkelig å bry seg, ta livet på alvor og føle dypt i sitt hjerte ønsket om forening og nærvær.

Livet er en konstant strøm av forandring. Ingenting er varig i denne verden. Forandring, tap og død er uunngåelig del av livet. Tilknytning og avhengighet gir smerte, fordi før eller senere vil det vi er glad i bli tatt fra oss.

Vi kan unngå denne smerten ved å avstå fra å engasjere oss, distansere oss fra livet og ikke la andre komme oss for nær. Det vil frata oss vår menneskelighet. Det vil kun etterlate oss følelsesløse, kyniske og kalde. Det var som mannen som ikke ville ha hund fordi det er så smertefullt når den dør. Han hadde hatt hund før. Sorgen han opplevde da den døde ville han ikke oppleve en gang til.

Dette er et av livets paradokser. Vi må elske og engasjere oss, selv om livet er forgjengelig og blir tatt fra oss. Det er nå vi lever. Vi må våge å elske, selv om det fører til smerte. En hver fødsel innebærer en død. Når et barn fødes, vil det også en dag dø. Når et kjærlighetsforhold begynner, vil også dagen komme for adskillelse og slutt.

Kjærlighet blir ofte blandet og forvekslet med tilknytning, avhengighet og eiertrang. Vi må se dypere. Kjærlighet er det jeg retter engasjert oppmerksomhet mot. Det jeg verdsetter, setter pris på, vil være sammen med, nyter og vil være ett med. Jeg er oppmerksomhet. Jeg elsker hele tiden. Dypest sett elsker jeg oppmerksomheten i seg selv. Mitt eget nærvær av bare å være til.

Å elske og være i denne verden er fortsatt et paradoks. Hva jeg virkelig elsker fortjener å bli reflektert over. Da kan jeg kanskje gi et godt svar når det skal holdes sjelelig regnskap om livet jeg fikk i gave ble levd godt?

Slik uttrykker den vietnamesiske buddhistmunken Titch Nat Hahn det i slutten av det kjente diktet, Please call me by my true names.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

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Hvor slutter verdensrommet?

Earth

Et brød er et objekt. Det har en bestemt størrelse og form. Det kan måles og veies. Det har klare grenser hvor brødet slutter og luft og atmosfære tar over. Brødet har også en begynnelse når det ble bakt, og en bestemt slutt når det blir spist. Et brød eksisterer følgelig i tid og rom. Det har lokalitet.

Verdensrommet blir litt mer problematisk fordi det oppfyller ikke disse vilkårene. Det kan ikke ha noen slutt – fordi hva er utenfor der igjen? Det kan heller ikke ha noen begynnelse – for hva var før det?

Verdensrommet er ikke et objekt. Det eksisterer ikke i tid og rom og det har ingen lokalitet. Det går ikke an å stå utenfor verdensrommet å observere det. Det går ikke an å måle størrelsen på verdensrommet. Det kan heller ikke tidfestes. Det finnes ikke et fast punkt hvor evighet kan måles fra.

Tid og rom finnes kun for avgrensede objekter i verdensrommet, mens verdensrommet i seg selv er utenfor tid og rom. Verdensrommet er eksistens. Det finnes ikke noen steder hvor det ikke er eksistens. Eksistens har ingen begynnelse eller slutt. Det bare er.

Vi befinner oss i en verden med begge disse dimensjonene. Tid og rom innenfor en eksisens utenfor tid og rom. Det er ingen motsetning mellom dem slik det heller ikke er motsetninger mellom havet og bølgene. Bølgene er i konstant forandring. De eksisterer i tid og rom. De er ikke varige. De har en begynnelse og slutt. De kan kun oppleves og erfares i sin konstante flux av bevegelse. Havet er imidlertid det samme og upåvirket av bølgene. Havet er årsak og bølgene dets effekt. Bølgene er årsaken i en annen form. Effekten kan ikke eksistere uten en årsak, men årsaken er uavhengig av effekten.

Verdensrommet er virkelig. Alt som skjer i verdensrommet eksisterer, men det er ikke virkelig i betydningen av noe som er varig og aldri forandrer seg. Alt som skjer i verdensrommet er en konstant strøm av bevegelse. Det er ikke virkelig. Det er heller ikke en drøm om natten, eller en film eller dataspill. Verden er på samme måte. Det er en drømmeverden.

Waves

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desire

WHEN I FORGET MYSELF – I feel I lack something. The moment feels so empty. I feel so bored. Isn’t there something going on? Let me check my phone, e-mail, Facebook. Maybe something is happening? Maybe something better, more or different, than just this moment? I am always looking for another experience than the one I have right now. What’s wrong with me?

IT WORKS EVERY TIME – because when there is an exciting e-mail – I experience a little high. A small dose of dopamine is injected into my brain and I feel BLISS. But after a short while, when I have read the e-mail and it wasn’t as exciting after all, the bliss is gone – I experience boredom again. But then its time for lunch! I can enjoy that nice sandwich. The bliss is right back!

AND SO IT GOES. As long as I keep the good experiences coming, problem solved. Not quite. Because pain comes when the experience goes. And the pain continues as it arises in the mind as a desire to experience it one more time. So all day long I am busy chasing experiences so I can experience as much bliss as possible. And at the same time trying to avoid experiences that give pain. Just like a running wheel for mice. It is the wheel of samsara. The wheel of the endless desire, satisfaction, pain, desire, satisfaction, pain, desire, satisfaction, pain, desire, satisfaction, pain, desire, satisfaction, pain, desire………

rat_race

THE WAY OUT is to return to the SELF. It is to realize that I am the source of my happiness. Experiences come and go, but I am always the same, before and after an experience. What makes me experience bliss when a desire is fulfilled is not the experience, but the experience removes my feeling of lack. When the feeling of lack disappears, bliss which is my true nature appear. It has been there all along, but has been suppressed by my feeling of lack.

THE SELF IS AWARENESS, existence and consciousness. This is who I am. All experience appears in me. Without me, there is no experience. All experience is an experience of myself. The SELF is always blissful because it lacks nothing. It is full, whole, complete and contains everything. There is no place where existence and consciousness is not. It is like space. There is no place not permeated by space.

BLISS, WHICH IS MY TRUE NATURE, is hidden from me, because I consciously or particularly subconsciously, tell myself I lack something. But I am longing for what I already have. I think an experience can solve my problem, and it does, but only temporarily, until a new desire comes along. When I return to the SELF, realizing who I am, temporary satisfaction transforms into permanent contentment. That is the trick – return to the SELF.

MY HAPPINESS is not dependent on experience – I am always happy – happiness is my nature. Remove the feeling of lack, which is caused by my wrong identification with the person that I think I am: This limited person with a body, personality, relations, job, education, history and a place to live. Instead identify with who I really am: Infinite existence, consciouness and bliss. I was never born, I will never die. My own awareness. So simple. It is always there.

IT IS ALWAYS THERE, but is not being noticed. It is like seeing a hand, and not being aware of the light making it possible to see the hand at all. Awareness is the light, making it possible to experience anything at all. As Jesus said: «I am the light of the world.» He knew who he was. Do YOU?

So what do YOU lack right now to be happy?

joy-child

PS. «The one who does not feed the senses, the senses returns to the Self, leaving the longing behind.» Bhagavad Gita.

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trh_shifting_time_artwork

Forandring gir kun mening i forhold til noe som ikke forandrer seg. For at jeg skal ha en opplevelse av at 30 minutter har passert må dette være i forhold til et opplevende vitne som er det samme og upåvirket av tid. Dersom jeg sier jeg har flyttet meg 30 km fra A til B, må jeg også ha et referansepunkt. Det er det samme opplevende vitne som har vært det samme både før og etter.

Tid og rom er for de fleste en realitet. Skal vi nå et tog eller fly er tiden virkelig nok. Men som i de fleste opplevelser glemmer vi å inkludere oss selv. Vi legger ikke merke til det opplevende vitnet som alltid er det samme og som alle endringer skjer i forhold til. Livet består følgelig av begge disse dimensjonene. En verden som eksisterer i tid og rom, og en dimensjon av tidløshet.

Verden krever vår oppmerksomhet og tvinger oss til utadvendthet. Jo lenger ut mot overflaten av livets karusell vi befinner oss, jo raskere spinner begivenhetene rundt oss. Stress er ofte omvendt proporsjonalt med graden av overfladiskhet, høyt tempo og ikke nok tid.

Meditasjon er en metode til å sette ned tempoet. Det tvinger oppmerksomheten til innadvendthet. Det oppstår en situasjon hvor det er mulig å finne hvile der hvor det ikke finnes tid.

Dette er mer enn en talemåte, fordi det finnes ingen tid. Tid er ikke virkelig, men en beskrivelse av forandring i det som ikke forandrer seg. Tid er en mental konstruksjon. Det er en måte å måle avstanden mellom opplevelser. Det eneste som er virkelig er øyeblikket, akkurat nå. Men øyeblikket eksisterer ikke i tid. Øyeblikket har ingen begynnelse eller slutt, det bare er. Det går ikke an å beskrive eller fastholde hvor fortiden slutter og øyeblikket begynner. Eller hvor øyeblikket slutter og fremtiden begynner. Øyeblikket er evig. Øyeblikket og evighet er det samme, det er uten tid.

Meditasjon blir en slik måte å «stanse tiden», selv om tiden alltid har stått stille fordi det er ingen tid. Sann meditasjon er tidløshet. Meditasjon blir en slik oase av ro ved å fjerne seg fra alle ytre forandringer i en kort periode og vende tilbake til seg selv.

Dette perspektivet vil en ta med seg ut i den ytre verden. En vil la seg innvolvere i livet og delta, men det skjer med en voksende evne til å være tilstede i øyeblikket. Bortsett fra at det er ingen andre steder å være tilstede enn i øyeblikket, oppstår en større ro. Å tenke på fortiden eller framtiden skjer fortsatt i øyeblikket fordi det finnes ingen annen virkelighet. Den tidløse dimensjonen av virkeligheten kommer nærmere. Når en forstår at det finnes ingen tid, får en svært god tid.

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buddhas-enlightenment

I know who I am. The search is over. I cracked the code of life. I understand the game, how the world of illusion is a set up. I am like the slave in Plato’s cave who understand that the world I experience is just a projection onto a screen. I have broken the chains of ignorance. I can walk out and unite myself with the light source of consciousness. The source of life giving life to all. I am intellectually free.

To be intellectually enlightened is not enlightenment, awakening, moksha or Self-realization. But is better than nothing. It is only a beginning and a small, but important step towards true awakening to my own being.

The problem with intellectual enlightenment is that it applies only to 10% of my mind. The rest 90% is still deeply conditioned into believing that I am this body, personality and with a package of experiences, a story, relationships, talents, age, gender, nationality etc. I still have a slave mentality, although I intellectually have freed my self.

Enlightenment is still more that increasing this percentage up to 100%, it is also to go beyond the mind. To transcend the mind and experience consciousness. This is logical and intellectually impossible. It is as difficult as for a torch to light on itself, or an eye to see itself without a mirror. But it can happen because consciousness is self aware. Consciousness is the light that shines by itself, and does not need another source of light.

Consciousness is non-dual. The one without the other. Consciousness is all there is. There is nothing outside of consciousness and existence.  That consciousness projects a dualistic world of opposites is equally impossible. Maya or the dualistic world of illusion is called what makes the impossible possible. Enlightenment is reversed Maya, making the impossibility of experiencing the Self possible through the transcendence of the mind.

There are no techniques for transcendence, equally as there are no techniques for falling asleep, or waking up from sleep to the waking state. It can happen for the one who has made the right preparations becoming qualified through spiritual practice.

To experience the Self is not an experience in the normal sense where there is an experiencer and the experienced. Enlightenment is pure awareness experiencing its own being, limitlessness and bliss, without an ego to take ownership of the experience.

To be intellectually enlightened is not bad. I highly recommend it. It gives a lot of peace, insight and confidence, but it is not enlightenment. It is only a beginning. It takes you to the roof and the limits of the mind where the next step is transcendence.

Transcendence can take place through other paths, the intellectual understanding is not the only way. The paths of love, action and meditation are equally important. But to know what you are doing is always good.

is_2

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james_swartz-bigJames Swartz often criticizes other teachers and their teaching. Although not criticizing the person, but the teaching. According to James, it is part of the vedanta tradition to oppose and criticize wrong ideas. Hopefully this is in line with such an attitude. In other words, nothing personal.

In fact I like James. I spent 3 years listening to his teaching daily. I organized a seminar with him and we worked together creating several illustrations for vedanta teaching. His teaching changed my life equally transformative as when I discovered yoga and meditation 40 years ago. In fact, I still listen to his talks as he is a good teacher, with great humor and has a talent for teaching advaita vedanta to a western audience. Also he avoids or at least tones down, the guru circus so common. He comes across as a friend and guide. His teaching clarified for me a lot of confusion in the spiritual world and was a huge relief.

His basic idea, as I understand it, is that enlightenment is not an experience, but an understanding. I am already enlightened, so I cannot do anything to become something I already am. There is no awakening, because consciousness never slept. This cuts through the dominating dualistic spiritual materialism in most of the spiritual world of chasing exotic experiences to make my personal ego special. What a relief to get rid of that idea, which was the foundation of most of my spiritual search.

According to James, moksha is much more accessible than previously thought. All you need to do is crack the logic, understand the teaching and voila: Moksha!! Normal enlightenment time according to James is 2-3 years! Well, I am there now. I understand the teaching fairly well, but I am not enlightened. I realize that enlightenment or moksha is a much more subtle process. Understanding the logic is just the beginning of advaita vedanta.

Nobody is going to tell me that when yogis sit in caves for years and years that they do not experience anything besides endless boredom. Of course it is an experience. And probably they are blissed out of this world and prefer such an existence 1000 times to an ordinary life of searching for happiness here and there. Enlightenment is an experience beyond the mind. The intellect cannot go there, but intuition can. The way to get there is through meditation, a teacher, ethical training, sadhana and becoming thoroughly qualified. It is the third stage of the teaching, the integration or the nididhyasana phase. James is good on the two first phases, sravana and manana, listening and reflection, but seems to stop there, and claims moksha is achieved when you get that far. Then you can drop vedanta and go on living your life happily.

It is strange how James can deviate so much from his own teacher Swami Chinmayananda. According to James there is no awakening, no special states of experience, no path, nothing to be gained and no destination.  Here is what his own teacher writes:

« Seeking is fulfilled only in gaining the sought. In its great Awakening, only when the ego merges into the Infinite Self, where nothing else exists, in the State of Aloneness is the goal reached, the destination arrived, the Supreme State of Total Satisfaction gained. In this Awakening alone, can all seeking end.» From Swami Chinmayananda commentaries on Astavakra Gita. p. 241.

It is obvious that James only takes one to the doorstep of Vedanta. In that, he does a good job. But he does neither introduce nor encourage or personally exemplify the nididhyasana phase which many teachers equals with intense meditation, sattvic lifestyle and other qualifications of an enlightened person mentioned in the scriptures again and again. There seems to be a great awakening and experience in the end of the rainbow of the spiritual search after all, but is not an experience in the normal sense. It is much more subtle, and beyond experience. It is a turning away from the world, seeing there is nothing there and embarking on an inward journey of much greater depth than James seems to present.

It is bad taste to critizise ones own teacher. I am very grateful for his teaching and I might misunderstand, but reading more of the works of his own teacher Swami Chinmayananda and his teacher Swami Sivananda, it is clear that there are huge discrepancies, where what James presents is an apple fallen quite a distance from the original trees. For the serious vedanta student, check it out for yourself and make your own judgment. There seems to be much more to vedanta and moksha than students of James is being presented. There is the third stage of the teaching of integration for those who are ready.

If I have misunderstood James teaching – I am only to blame and will apologize in advance. Do not take my word for it – check out other vedanta sources and see for your self.

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Orgel_1

After my first week in India a book about the famous indian guru Neem Karoli Baba fell into my hands. I am familiar with this extraordinary being who towers over most of the gurscene. He is one of a few exceptionally rare beings living on the earth plane at different times, difficult to fathom or comprehend by any human standard. Many would say he is God in human form. Maharaji as he also goes by, is the guru of Ram Das, author of Be Here Now, by the way. A book and person who introduced Maharaji to the booming generation of spiritual seekers in the Western world in the 1960’s. Many were turned on to yoga, meditation and traveled to India on a spiritual quest in search of the blessings and grace of a real guru.

Now a touch of the guru’s grace seemed to come my way too. By picking up the book, marveling over his presence and calling to mind many of the amazing stories told about him was the trigger for the magic of India to unfold.

Shortly after reading a few pages the inspiration came to mind that I should get myself an indian harmonium while I am here for the next three months. I have played the harmonium for 25 years and it is a part of my daily practice to sing a chant or two before meditation. At other times to lift the mood or when playing with my mantra friends in our mantra band.

Talking to the locals came in handy. Within two minutes everything was arranged for a taxi to pick me up the next morning and take me to a music shop. No reason to thank Maharaji quite yet, but when the taxi driver has a statue of Hanuman on the dashboard, it is time to become suspicious. Maharaji is not only devoted to the famous indian monkey god Hanuman, but many believe, he is Hanuman!

After several hours of nervously rollercoaster riding and gracefully flamenco dancing through the maze of cars, trucks, scooters, bikes, pedestrians, cows, dogs and monkeys of indian traffic, we made it to the shop. A beautiful, well crafted and good sounding harmonium was found. After some feeble attempts of bargaining the price was setteled. But then, just before drawing the credit card, the taxi driver discovered a rusty key. Much was done to fix it, but it still sounded as a nasty cold. I decided to take my chance.  Colds pass and so might this one with the right cure and care. The opportunity for further ajustment of the price to my advantage was not to be missed.

Orgel_2

Maharaji probably thought the price was too high, because coming back home the key sounded just as harmonious as all the others, without a trace of squeack, rust or other discomfort!

Thanks Maharaji !

But a couple of hours later doubts set in.

– Was this really the invisible hand of Maharaji at play here, or was the rational mind about to throw the wild card of coincidence?

– So the next time I sat down to play, the key was rusty again……

– I let the harmonium rest for the night. A prayer of gratitude from the depth of my heart and request on behalf of the rusty key on the harmonium was sent to Maharaji before going off to sleep.

Next morning the key once again was healthy and sound again!

OM HAM HANUMAN NAMAHA

 

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