Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Mind and Awareness are Not the Same

Mind and awareness are not the same. This may be a truth, but it's something that we have to arrive at through our own experience. We may agree intellectually, and occasionally observe a thought or act with something like that, but for most of the time it remains elusive.

But what are the implications of what it means? If there can be something - call it awareness - that is separate from the mind, but which I still understand to be me, then it must be inevitable that the mind cannot represent me exclusively. Take it a step further and it means my mind and my self are not identical. And it is the awareness that is the means to discover that.

Monday, 3 November 2014

What is your mind to you? - something to think about

Answer these questions quickly without giving them much conscious thought.


You have to be completely honest.

There are no right answers.

They are yes/no answers, so you need not write them down, but you can if you like.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Awareness, Grace and Faith

There is an absolute relationship between the body and mind wherein there is a reflection of the one in the other, but each in their own language. A thought has some outlet in the body; a sensation in the body has a reflection in the mind. But understanding that relationship you need to interpret the language between the two.

The quality awareness must be very highly developed. It is the ability to be absolutely still and reflect without any interference whatever it observes. Apart from presence and discrimination, awareness is also highly intelligent in a way the intellect cannot be. While the intellect is active this intelligence remains unknown, unseen and unheard. Perfect awareness indicates a silent intellect. Therefore what it observes is seen very clearly and accurately, so clearly in fact that nature redresses the balance automatically and what we experience as release takes place.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Part 3: So What Does the Observer Observe?

As we have seen before, the Observer is the observer of both Experience and the Experiencer. In outer life, experience usually arises from interaction with the world through the senses. In the inner life, which is the particular focus of meditation, experience arises from stored impressions, what we call samsakaras. And the experiencer interacts with experience whether coming from outside, or as in meditation from those stored impressions.

Taking as usual our focus on the inner life, and therefore in meditation, and accepting that the experiencer is likely to react to any impression that arises, let us look more closely at the nature of experience. In instruction in meditation we do not usually find the instruction 'observe, be aware of, your experience'. Usually instruction is, 'become aware of your thoughts'. And it must have occurred to everyone at some stage, well what is thought then. And you might even have found yourself thinking when something outside of what you take to be thought arises, I should be being aware of my thoughts, not this.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Part 2: The Observer Itself

So who is this Observer who is such an essential part of meditation? 

The Observer is the identity of the one who is aware. Awareness as we know is the one guaranteed constant in meditation practice. Of course at first it seems that the awareness is just a part of the mind trying to observe itself. And of course this sounds absurd, as absurd as the example often given for this:

Imagine that there is a thief. And it is necessary to identify and catch the thief. Who is assigned to catch the thief? It's the policeman. Naturally the policeman will catch the thief. But in this scenario - which is the mind being aware of itself, also the mind - the policeman is the same person as the thief. He's trying to catch himself! Now the thief is a thief. He has all the natural deception of a thief. But the policeman is also still a policeman, he believes in justice and upholds the law. So you can see the natural dilemma if the policeman is assigned to catch the thief who is himself. And the mind watching the mind also reflects the different aspects of any individual which leads to a divided personality.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Soundcloud Audio recordings now available

You can now listen to the audio recordings from this year's 9 Day Meditation Retreat at Mangrove Yoga Ashram with Swami Anandakumar.

Access these recordings via the right hand panel of this blog, or go to the Soundcloud page directly. 

You can use these recordings to support, clarify or refresh your own meditation practice.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Part 1: Experience, Experiencer and Observer

Something simple but very practical that actually works in meditation:

Be the Observer of both Experience and the Experiencer

Everything that takes place in life can be called experience. Experience goes on all the time through the senses. Usually we only call it 'an experience' when it leaves a particular impression. But even in moments of stillness, experiences still continue whether they are acknowledged or not. This is the first point: Experience. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Life's Purpose?

Once, in a time when there were heroes and these things happened, there was a growing boy, on the threshold of manhood. He was noble and full of energy and enthusiasm, ready to take on life as an adventure with its triumphs and difficulties, facing its challenges and fears. He was also very sincere in his desire to understand the nature of his calling and purpose, so his life would be put to good use. He thought about this for some time, then came to call on God, whom he saw as a friend and whose presence and guidance he never doubted.

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Heart of the Matter

What we often try to say is not always in the words themselves. Sometimes you have to go through strange stuff to get to the heart of the matter, which is always different from the point of departure - to take something and look at it from every angle with a quiet dispassion, which allows the space for something you don't yet know to emerge that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Meditation and the Mind - Part 2

So we go in, what then?

In meditation, by whatever technique, we disassociate from the senses and the outer world, and enter the inner world - a state known as pratyahara. But pratyahara is really only the frontier of a new inner world that has remained largely unexplored. What happens when we get there? What do we do? What’s the point?

Monday, 11 August 2014

Meditation and the Mind - Part 1

Two worlds

We live and experience life in two dimensions at the same time; two worlds if you like, an outer world and an inner world. Although they are both there, for the most part we are experiencing only one of them at any one moment. We are either awake or asleep, and the other is unknown to us. When we are awake we live in the outer world; when asleep we are in the inner world, but most of the time completely unaware of it. The exception is meditation.

There is a kind of trade-off between these two worlds – inner and the outer. They are like trading nations, but with no real understanding of each other’s culture, beliefs and motivating forces. The dimension of experience is different in each. Sometimes communication breaks down, relations get fraught, ambassadors are recalled and there is conflict for some time. Thinking they are separate, sometimes we are just not at peace with ourselves.

If we consider the outer and inner worlds together and the relationship between them, you can see that there is nevertheless something constant to both of them, along with the differences. Recognizing this helps us in meditation practice, and some of the experiences it brings.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Welcome to meditation in all its aspects and mystery

Fellow Spiritual Seekers, Brothers and Sisters

Something like meditation should be approached in the spirit in which it is practised. Practical aspects and techniques can be outlined, but the essence of it can’t be described intellectually. In order to understand meditation, the meditation-mind has also to awaken and listen, because the voice that describes meditation can never define so completely that there is automatic understanding. 

It's like having something precious and wonderful and holding it up to the light and turning it and seeing it reflected from different angles in the changing light. One moment it looks like this, another moment it’s different, and looks like that, and yet in essence it is always the same. So how to describe it? We build a picture from different images which come gradually more and more into focus as our observation and understanding increases.