9:1 Soul

An uncountable number of books have been written on attaining serenity. Access to this ease of being, our birth right, is offered up in works ranging from the sublime to the quick fix.

The texts aim to end anxiety and promote peace. Some to make money and fame for author and publisher. After all it’s a whole industry, this outward search for meaning.

There are gurus and mentors who have been on their own journeys, seeking peace of mind and they offer up their words to help others.

There are religious sermons, retreats of all kinds, a wide variety of techniques are on offer. But the common factor of all genuine teachings is that they point within. Why?

Jesus said: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21).

A book or speaker might connect you to this teaching for some moments. Faith also plays a part in this and faith brings hope; hope in something greater than this world, beyond our space time dimension…hope brings dopamine and peace.

Lifted by the reminder, the effect wears off and the search begins again – online, elsewhere…The feeling was so freeing, but so fleeting; the search for more is not optional.

So, this 9:1 ratio is a reminder too, that what you seek is not necessarily out there. It would be so convenient if it was consumable like a product, but even the 10% that is consumable is a deceptive figure. This 10% is mainly made up of reminders of the 90% so your outer search will only lead you back inward again.

9:1 is so lopsided a ratio that it means you cannot be in a heavenly, hippy, heightened state all the time – it must incorporate the mundane too. The compartmentalisation of the spiritual from the cerebral and physical is part of the spiritual industry – but, they are all intertwined. Some folk are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly use!  It’s about seeing and doing the mundane and knowing that those acts are on the same path

The 9:1 ratio is not a life of passivity, sitting at home or sleeping for nine hours out of every 10. It is a reminder of what is already known – give up the search for a conveniently packaged messiah and embrace your self. IQ, knowledge and any amount of activity crammed into a lifetime will not save your soul.

The seeking is not confined to what are usually categorised as ‘spiritual’ activities – meditation, chanting, praying, yoga, reading Rumi and so on. Most human activities have peace of mind as the end goal; body building, blogging, gaining knowledge…everyone is seeking peace.

Turn inside to what is constantly available; timeless vastness, where thoughts come and go apparently from nowhere and apparently to nowhere. Who or what is watching the thoughts?

Somebody recently expressed peace this way: “the ever-present flow of love and knowledge within.”

But the 90% experience is beyond words, no matter how eloquent, beautiful and succinct. Expressions of peace are only that, pointers and reminders…

Ponting your attention back at you and reminding you that it is all within.

 

Mark Bolton &

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

 

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Blogs inspired by the material taught at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London; these notes are taken from the material taught at groups during early 2019…

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Advaita?

“A longing inside the heart to know yourself or to be free of suffering must be there for anyone to realise the truth of what this ancient and practical philosophy is pointing towards” – Mooji

Unlike most popular methods of spiritual exploration, Advaita Vedanta does not proscribe tasks or impose a hierarchy of worthiness. It does not require adherents to attend a sacred building or listen to the sermon of a holy man. Advaita is more direct and places less emphasis on actions that are designed to satisfy the mind.

The mind wants to get things, to fathom things and see linear progression towards a goal, but Advaita is too simple for the mind to grasp. While the mind likes concepts, Advaita likes freedom and spontaneity.

“Freedom kills the conditioned mind” – Mooji

Not Meditation

The material at the School of Meditation seeks to identify potential obstacles to the enjoyment of freedom and spontaneity.

The material, comprised of spiritual and practical teachings, accompanies the practice of meditation. But the material of session four pointed out that sitting in a meditation posture is “not meditation”.

Meditation is when all feelings of separation are gone.

Strange Effort

Reciting the mantra is the “single stimulus” that enables meditators to access deeper, subtler levels in themselves. When thoughts carry us away, the mantra can be listened to. 

It is a conscious effort to decide to be here now and not travel to the past or future. It is not the usual kind of effort, but an effort to be aware of life itself manifesting in us now.

In meditation, we can expand our attention to include everything and everyone, letting go of what we think we are. Meditation is really nothing but this. The material includes a quote from the Shankaracharya that when people let go of what they think they are and expanding their awareness, they are behaving “artistically”.

Artistic Effort

To observe is to become free of being a ‘doer’, a person who is anxious for action. Counter-intuitively, action can then be taken with ease, without the heavy burden of duty. No longer a dour doer, now artistic and efficient.

The mind demands we become the ‘doer’ again but that is because the mind can never be the observer. It cannot comprehend that which is doing the observing.

The mind cannot understand the ungraspable. But we can experience it…

 

 

Next time, part five

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

 

The material in this blog was inspired by the teachings at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London, W11 4UH. The school opened in 1961 and was taken under the wing of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles’ meditation teacher, who introduced the school’s founders to Shri Shantananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Northern India. In a series of Q & As, the Shankaracharya provided answers to the questions of the visitors from London. These answers formed the basis of the school’s teaching material.

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Blogs inspired by the material taught at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London; these notes are taken from the material taught at groups during early 2019…

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The session three material considered technique and tips, warned against unrealistic expectations and delved into the meaning of Advaita:

Sit upright, become restful, breathe easy, close your eyes, and keep your eyes still. When the body is still the mind can follow.

It is not necessary to achieve a particular goal. More important is to approach meditation with innocence and openness. The mantra is not a battering ram, Continue reading

Old School Meditation 2

Blogs inspired by the material taught at the School of Meditation, Holland Park Avenue, London; these notes are taken from the material taught at groups during early 2019…

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Infinite Source

There is a level of being which is the same for us all regardless of our social and economic circumstances, ethnicity, age and the other categories we regularly have to tick boxes for. The School of Meditation teaches the Advaita Vedanta philosophy, which sees an infinite source of everything that exists in creation.

This idea is a mystery to the conceptualising mind; but the practice of meditation can offer a direct experience of this infinity.

The material tells us to: Become still, be quiet and experience your very being, the very fact that you exist… Continue reading

Rainy Tuesday with a Migraine

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Legs laid low on the sofa – what a gift, I can cancel and cancel,

Clear the diary, simplify the day – simplify life,

Losing the detail instead of being lost in the detail,

Just the throb in my temples.

Eyes closed – physical disorientation but mental clarity. I’m brought to a tender halt of gentleness and clarity,

From this sofa I know what’s important and I let go of what isn’t.

 

The constant hum of the Westway reminds me of the breakneck world out there,

But I’ve got permission to not move

Meeting – cancelled

Work – abandoned

Plans – scratched

I’m not in a state of ecstasy, just in a state of contented beingness and timelessness,

My body has brought me to meekness, 

And here I am on the sofa on a Tuesday afternoon, blessed and inheriting the earth

 

Memories of days off from school – Pigeon Street, my mother bringing me snacks,

Wooly-headed boy,

Now an experience of Being that would have been out of reach had my working day gone to plan.

What is this migraine? A whisper from the beloved:

This migraine came to tell me one thing: “I love you”

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Breakneck

The whirl

Manas is the Sanskrit word for the perceiving, information-processing mind. I prefer the English phrase monkey mind; it captures the way my mind chaotically shifts from one stimulus to the next. And the way the thoughts overlap, leapfrog and contradict, peaceful and painful often jostling for the same spot.

This silent internal whirl is just the mind doing its job; thinking, analysing and preparing me for worst-case scenarios. It is keeping me alive, it believes. The mind is not a bad thing, it just does not know where to stop.

Delegate the mind. Let it do this job: If it stands at the gate of inner being, it will be doing the job properly, and you will not be troubled – Shantananda Saraswati

In peace, quiet and concentration, Manas is observed by us, we can see or sense its movements. Under observation it doesn’t run amok.

Instead it slows…

The limits it imposes lift. The limits we need for navigating the material world aren’t needed for peaceful inner lives.

In the quote above, the advice is to use the mind as an instrument, a servant to ourselves, to protect our equanimity, which is our natural state. Shantananda also advised us to: “provide the rest and make them (thoughts) give up.”

This implies a letting go of attachment to thoughts, beliefs and desires – actively becoming passive.

To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing… – St John of the Cross

Such words also suggest that in rest, a deeper, more fulfilling experience of life can be found.

Waves

Buddhists learn that desire is the root of suffering. When there is less desire, less emotion, less claiming and less grasping, the not wanting brings rest. It is less cerebral and more balanced – things are done less to satisfy whatever urge the mind has fastened on to, and more out of a natural movement to act.

With the mind more at peace, one has easier access to intuition and feeling, qualities found at a deeper level, in the stillness of the deep ocean rather than the turbulence of the waves on top. The thoughts that arise from this deeper place are simpler, more innocent and more brilliant than those of the thinking mind and the intellect. David Lynch calls this ‘catching the big fish’.

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by Sibvu

But who has the time to contemplate this these days, with the daily bombardment of so much information? For people inclined to analysing what their mind consumes, time and space is necessary to absorb information and make sense of it all. Without this, the junk piles up inside us.

The junk pile is all externally sourced and imported in. The chaos out there isn’t going away. The nature of things is dynamic, constant movement. In London this is accelerated. But we can exercise some control over ourselves and our internal world, bringing some stillness and observation which can then transform our relationship to this breakneck world.

 

A white flower grows in quietness
Let your tongue become that flower – Rumi

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

 

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