Awareness Alone

She was flying at speed, with no sense of fear. Kaleidoscopic rainbows of colours were rushing past her with excitement, an eager playfulness that she found contagious. She looked down and saw hills and valleys beneath her, she saw ploughed and fallow fields and the microscopic activity of lives being lived. She looked up and witnessed the stillness of the stars. There was a never-ending depth to them when viewed from this angle, like brushstrokes to the infinite. She looked ahead of herself and into the oncoming colour, she felt a reassuring calmness within the speed. 

She had always been a rebel, quick to play the devilish advocate of the opposite and contrary, quick to assume the role of the antagonist committed to playing the counterpoint. For so many years she had been the one trying to rush others onwards. She had called it passion. She had judged most of life as a drudgery, a flattening bore of responsibility and restraint. She had seen those surrounding her, family and friends, even strangers who’s path she would cross, as needing shaking up, waking up into the pure potentiality of a life lived in full glory. She had made herself a nuisance without any sense of shame. Pushed forwards with the wholehearted belief that she was following a higher cause, the lifetime commitment of an awakened truth-seeker, desperate to both inspire and be inspired. The counterpoint to what she perceived as inertia had always been movement, a dragging and a thrusting, a call to arms proclaimed by an individual rushing onwards at speed. Now that she was flying at speed, she found herself playing the counterpoint again. Only it wasn’t the inertia that she had always imagined it to be, the counterpoint to speed was actually stillness. 

She was still, while flying at speed. And with the stillness came a calm contentment. Strangely familiar, like a friend from the past that one struggles to recognise at first. That moment before the spark of reconnection lights the fires of your heart. The squeal of delight, the lightening of spirit, the widening of the eyes. It was as if every cell in her body was pulsating with the eternal light of the stars above. She could feel everything with expanded awareness, the entirety of her body, as well as the vistas above and below. The wind was her too. The way it rushed past with eager delight. Every colour was a world of its own, a doorway into a past moment of her life. Red and orange, blue and green, yellow and fuschia, purple and pink. She had been all these colours and more and she had retained their stain as an imprint upon her soul. The fibres of her being stored the memory of how she had been, and her past being had shaped her even more than she realised. 

Her subservience to ideology and principle had left its residue. It had been corded to her for so long and during any time of cording there will be a continual osmosis, unconscious assimilation and the creation of baggage. It wasn’t enough to cut the cord and be done. That idea was born of impatient irresponsibility. There were dues to be paid, reparations to be gathered, uncollected baggage waiting to be reclaimed. She would have to suffer the kickbacks of her former trigger-happy self, and when they came, as they surely would, she would have to resist the temptation to re-cord herself to her former ideas and principles as a method of self-defence. For such a method would place her finger back on the trigger, it would result in more shots, more death and destruction, the creation of even more baggage, further dues to be paid, further reparations to be gathered. An endless cycle of birth and death, pleasure and pain, an almost continual suffering. 

She would have to stay clam, retain a connection to stillness. And her unofficial counterpoint training would help; because in a world of continual change: new creations, physical death and decay, emotional rises, psychological shifts, developing thoughts, ever-reactive senses, the only counterpoint is that which never changes. That which is consistent. 

Awareness. 

Her Awareness. That within, which is aware of all the changes, the senses and thoughts, feelings and beliefs, all the fluid identities of the surrounding world. The ‘I AM…” that connects itself to different things in order to complete the trailing sentence and experience itself in absolute totality. If she could remain connected to the knowledge that in truth, given a long enough timeframe, she is only that awareness and nothing more, then she would probably be alright.

She continued to look ahead. The confluence of different colours had merged into a fixed point of light. Colours continued to exist in the periphery, but her attention was so concentrated that she didn’t notice them. She was beginning to know something beyond colour and form, separation and difference. She was still aware of what was below her in the fields and the valleys, she could even feel the sadnesses and joys of those who ploughed them. They fell into her like a pebble to a lake, causing a splash and a ripple that settled into calmness and transparency, security and rest. She was becoming aware of the source and the sauce. The source of it all, as distinct from the separate sauces of life, the different tastes and fancies. She was beginning to connect to this perennial awareness. Something singular and alone, but far from feeling lonely she felt more accepted and connected than she ever had before. And no sooner had she smiled to herself in self-satisfied satisfaction, than she awoke to the warm daylight of a summers morning, the rest of her household fast asleep. Her day just beginning.


by Palmer Golden

photo by talib

Ten Years Ago, St. Mark’s Road

Darkness flowed ten years ago, at 3am on St Mark’s Road, when I walked home from A****’s flat.

Such was the desolation in my heart even the warmest of souls couldn’t provide respite beyond a few hours. Laying in bed, listening to empty nothingness, the torment gripped me – the worst bit, the unpredictable disorder before numbness kicks in. Knowing I’d have to make my exit at daybreak anyway, I grasped the nettle of my aloneness and set off home.

From Dalgarno Gardens, I turned onto St Mark’s Road. With the park in pitch blackness on one side, it was disquieting, with exhaustion and all that negativity putting me on edge for my journey.

Down St Mark’s it was just me, a few foxes, the city and the cosmos beyond.

My nerves were shot. I needed the fresh start of a new day and dragged myself towards it. No people, no cars, silence in London aside from my own footsteps.

I turned right onto Lancaster Road, left through Verity Close. Still no people on street level. Thousands slept.

My final turns were Walmer Road then Bomore Road. The leisure centre that was there then is gone now, but I remember rounding a slight bend on Bomore, which put me in sight of my flat, my bedroom…and onto the highlands of Paranoia, sensing that something wasn’t right.

I saw a figure at the gate, hunched over, rubbing its hands, grunting. My emotions morphed my perception and produced a surge of paranoid fear like I’d never known. I’m short-sighted and it was the dead of night; what I saw when it looked back at me was a half-beast, some kind of golem.

Like I’d unexpectedly interrupted some private business of his, which I guess I had, he did a double-take then went back to his grunting business without acknowledging his fellow being. I was close to him, a few yards and he was emitting not-quite-human sounds. At that moment, I saw my desolation – the disturbance that had been wrecking my days and scattering my sleep had manifested as this man-thing.

I walked around that bend and I was out of his sight – then sprinted to the building and gratefully into my flat.

I rationalised this encounter, weighed all the factors…I’m short-sighted…probably somebody drunken fumbling with their keys in the dark…but still, this was my demon. Down St Mark’s Road, my mind had stayed alert; with home in sight it went off-duty and got caught out, the vision awoke the basest, weirdest, darkest fears to flood my brain.

Unthinking cruelty, the capacity of people to go cold beyond zero, to flick their humanity off, along with their commitment to reality.

In bed, the fear and relief gave way to desolation. Home, but I was being denied my human right to share it with *******. Certain that I would not sleep and not wanting to wake A****, I didn’t text her to let her know I had gone but was safe.

I was awoken at 7am by my Blackberry….”Oh my God, where the fuck are you?”

“Oh shit, sorry, I couldn’t sleep so I walked home.”

“I thought you might have gone and done something stupid…”

This was how serious it was 10 years ago.

A decade on, 305 blog posts, if I said life is very different it wouldn’t be true. Darkness flows on, and that same fear gets triggered by cruelty and hostility. It did today. Same story. Everyone’s mind can create demons. Mine even made me see one.  But it also sees the angels – and round here they seem to outnumber the demons, even in the darkest of times.

Talib @urbandandyldn

Photo by MNT

Stay Fresh

To calm the mind, the ego, to boost my self-esteem. Because low self-esteem is judged to be a hindrance in life.

But part of me doesn’t lack esteem – it is aware of its position, its stature.

Something else – ego – doesn’t accept this stature as real. Ego doesn’t feel that it is justifying its existence unless it is telling me to improve something, or telling me it’s no use, I’m no good, everything is bleak.

This is the constant dance.

During lockdown, ego has been on top, dominant, with Rajas and Tamas. But Sattwa* is always there. All things are always there – relax and experience them.

 

@tomhcharles

*Rajas, Sattwa and Tamas – the three Gunas – Hindi philosophy for understanding human experiences. Rajas = Movement; Sattwa = Lightness; Tamas = Heaviness. More on the Gunas here.

Mooji

“Don’t become addicted to personality or identity” – Mooji

Reading Mooji is not reading an instruction manual. The spirit of the writing is as important as the words taken literally.

Not to be caught up in ‘things’ is one pointer he gives, but there’s nothing wrong with genuinely enjoying material things. Just know that there is more enjoyment in appreciating just being alive.

Each morning I tune into my senses, to know that I exist as a human being. Here, the phenomenal things arise – desire, doubt, thinking-planning-analysing. But above and underneath all of it, I exist.

And above and underneath, within that, I am not separate to everything else that exists. And I am not separate to that which holds all of that within itself.

Pic from YouTube – Moojiji

Tom Charles @tomhcharles

I Sit With My Thoughts…

When the lights are off, the music on, my mind drifts like tumbleweed being blown through a desert

I sit with my thoughts, emotions, memories, dreams – constantly twisting like a psychedelic Rubiks cube – yet not looking to create order, but just being….xxx

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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Love Lockdown

As I sit in front of this screen my heart feels a longing to hug those I Love – to let them know it’s going to be alright,

Letting our auras entwine, creating colours beyond the spectrum – feeling that bond pull tighter, becoming one with the universe, being made whole and pure for eternity…

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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Mid-Lockdown

I never post anything just for the sake of it – Been very dry+uninspired last few days…but as in boxing, most fights are won or lost in the middle rounds,

So whatever you’re going through don’t give up. I won’t…It’s never over until the final bell..xxxx

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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Mindscape

It’s important we know the times we live in – but to do that, we first must truly know ourselves – our true self.

What we think, fear, do when we are on our own. Accepting our own imperfections helps us accept them in others. Wisdom without grace is futile as is knowledge without Love.

by Mark Bolton
@MarkCBolton1

below by @tomhcharles

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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

 

 

Old School Meditation 4

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…

#1 #2 #3

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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.