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Category Archives: Awareness

Experiencing wholeness

Separation and duality

We are alive in a world in which separation seems natural. The reality that we encounter on a daily basis consists of opposites : good and bad, light and darkness, pain and pleasure, success and failure and so on. Our social conditioning keeps us from experiencing wholeness. It teaches us to solve this problem of duality by choosing the better side of each opposite. Hence we strive to be good and moral people who accept and live by humane values. Unfortunately this attitude of choosing one over the other keeps us in a state of suffering and perpetuates it

Wholeness

What mindfulness does to us is that it helps us to realize that all activity of the mind – thoughts, emotions, desires – takes place against the background  that is silent, whole and free of suffering. We could use the example of a blank sheet of paper to represent this background. Anything could be written on the page, a story, poem, or a picture can be drawn on it. It could be a tragedy or a comedy or a heroic description. But none of this affects the page. Or we can take the example of a movie screen on which any movie can be projected. No matter what happens in the movie, the screen isn’t affected. This background is your true self and when you arrive here wholeness is just as natural as separation.

End of suffering

This wholeness is the ground of our existence. Because of this no matter how much harm living in duality and separation has caused in us we can always return to wholeness. When awareness becomes aware of itself, it is whole. This wholeness embraces the full reality of life. The perfect and the imperfect, the consistent and the inconsistent, success and failure are all accepted for what they are and the contraries are integrated.  Experiencing this wholeness eliminates the conflict of duality and separation bringing to an end the suffering caused by it.

Ranji Varughis

Wholeness

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Mindfulness for growth and transformation

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for personal growth. Recently one of my friends began an email by saying, “I am in a bit of a rut right now” and concluded it by remarking, “I really feel the need to have something to look forward to”. The reason for this was the fact that being highly talented and hardworking she did not find the present job to be challenging nor did it give her opportunities to make use of her abilities to the maximum. At the same time her current situation prevented her from quitting and taking up a new job. This situation was going to continue indefinitely. The fact that there was nothing that she could look forward to was taking a toll on her emotionally.

How can mindfulness help?

First and foremost it ought to be seen that none of the thoughts that appear on the screen of our mind is either good or bad. In this case the thought was that there was nothing meaningful or rewarding to look forward. Mindfulness means to be aware that such a thought is appearing on the mind-screen in the present moment. The normal tendency of the ego-mind is to identify personally with the thought which is appearing.  That there is a poor little “me” who is suffering this.  It is this personal identification that creates the suffering. The moment this happens we have lost our control to the ego mind and fall into the rut.

Starving the ego-mind

Being mindful prevents us from making this kind of an identification or attachment to the thought. Rather than becoming the character who is suffering, we are able to become a spectator to the issue. Instead of being embroiled in the drama we are witness of the thought. This detachment prevents us from supplying energy that the idea needs for its survival. The thought feeds and keeps itself alive on the energy that it receives by our identification with it. Once this supply is switched off it simply falls away. The energy that was being spent on propping up this drama is now available to be used creatively.

Growth and transformation

The result of our identification with the thought is that the mind remains agitated. Unlike the still water which can reflect the moon clearly, the ripples break up the reflection into a thousand bits preventing clarity. Mindfulness helps to prevent the ripples so that the mind can reflect reality clearly. The energy is now available to bring forth creative solutions and personal growth. Innate wisdom will arise and guide you. Suddenly you find that the wall on which you have been banging your head is no longer there. Your higher self will guide you to come out of the rut. Old negative patterns that had become deeply etched in the mind will be erased and pathways for life enriching growth and transformation will open up.

Personal growth

 
 

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Time is an illusion of the mind

Past and future exist only in thoughts

Time is a projection of the mind. (Psychological time) It does not exist, it is only an illusion. Both the past and future are created by thoughts.  Only the present exists and the present is not part of time but part of eternity. Past and present are both non-existential because we cannot live in a past or the future other than in our thoughts. The past is only a memory and the future is only imagination. Both of them are constructs of the mind and are always being accessed from the present alone. The past is created because we cling to memory and the future is created because of desires to be fulfilled. The future is needed like a screen for the mind to project its desires. The truth is psychological time subordinates the present moment to the past or future by keeping us preoccupied to the memories of our past or to our plans for the future

The fact is that the mind needs the past and the future to survive. The more the time the mind has the more it can play around and make many desires and dreams and live in them. Time also helps the mind in another way – the pressure for change is lifted off as there is still time available for change. In this way the mind can remain the same. Postponing is the base for continuing in the same way. This is the deepest trick of the mind. The reason for postponing change is because you do not want to do it now. As long as time is available the possibility of postponing change is available and in the hope that what is difficult today will become easier tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes.

Timeless space of the Eternal Now

“A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion” – Allan Watts. The thing that we have to realize is that the aim of the mind is always to keep us engaged with the past or the future. This results in us losing touch with reality.  Meditation is the way to disengage from the pull of the mind and to experience reality as it unfolds to us. Meditation is not about quieting, manipulating or focusing the mind. On the contrary it is to let the mind keep on doing its thing and instead of identifying with it to just be, knowingly, its awareness.

You are that through which thoughts are flowing. It doesn’t matter where it’s going or what they’re doing. They’re always doing one of two things: they are either going into the past or the future. Just let them go, let them make the journey, but you never take the journey with them. That is meditation, just to know yourself as this ever-present, imperturbable light of awareness. When we know this we enter the timeless space of the eternal now and  begin to experience our reality..

Time

 

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Bliss that always already exists

Imaginary self

It is the identification with the mind that prevents us from enjoying the bliss that we already are. Freedom from bonding with our thoughts is the greatest freedom that that any person can experience. It is the trick of the mind to create an imaginary self who is experiencing these thoughts. This imaginary self energizes these thoughts by identifying with them. As a result a story is scripted with the imaginary self as the protagonist. This character then colors every thought feeling and emotion.  Reality is now substituted by an illusion. Unfortunately this illusion makes a person feel like a victim to forces beyond control.

The good news is that we can free ourselves from this victim-hood. The projections of the mind need not be considered as the ultimate reality. In fact they cannot survive without the identification of the imaginary self.  It is common knowledge that everything that appears to the mind is subject to change. Any thought or feeling that is considered as right in the present may be seen in a different light in an altered context at a later stage.

The natural self

This is where mindfulness plays an important role in our lives. Instead of taking the activity of the mind personally it creates a space where we can be a witness to the imaginary self. It is the state of “watching the thinker”. Becoming a listener to the voice in the head – a witnessing presence.  It helps us to realize that ‘there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it’. This I am realization, this sense of our own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind. So by listening to a thought we become aware not only of the thought but also of ourselves as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in.

By becoming a listener to the thought, we experience a conscious presence – our deeper self – behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over us and quickly subsides, because we are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking. We begin to experience the natural self which is otherwise obscured by the mind. Since this natural self is beyond the mind it can no longer fall prey to vagaries of the mind. With the experience of our natural self the sense of stillness and peace will deepen and bliss will arise from deep within.

Bliss

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2018 in Awareness, meditation, Uncategorized

 

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Spacious Mindfulness

What is Spaciousness?

Lao Tzu’s poetic text ‘Tao Te Ching’ is built around the concept of ‘spaciousness’. One of the example that he uses is that of the space within the pot. We do not actually use the clay of the pot. Rather the clay creates a usable space in which we can put what we like. Similar is the case of a house. We do not live in the materials that that the house is constructed with (walls, door etc). But rather we live in the space created by the materials. This spaciousness is what allows for everything in existence to be possible.Our true self is this birthless, deathless, timeless, limitless, eternal spaciousness.

The mind could be compared to a pond. When the concentration is on one object, it is as if one throws a single stone into the water. You can then observe beautiful rings expanding out from one point on a smooth surface. When there are a multitude of thoughts, it is like many stones hitting the surface of the lake, Ripples start going all over, running into each other, making any sort of clear reflection off the surface of the water impossible. Similarly, when the mind is full of thoughts it is impossible for any deep awareness to manifest. Neither can any deep reflection about oneself to take place.

This is the way the mind exists most of the time. In that condition, all we can do is attend to one thought before another breaks through, whether we like it or not. Thus, the individual is continuously forced to deal with the constant agitation of the mind.  Being pulled by our senses, desires, goals, dreams, attachments, aversions, or attempts to serve the demands of others. In such a situation there is hardly any peace nor can we experience our true self. Not only can multiple demands on our life lead to a sense of stress and overwhelm us physically. It can also feel unsustainable and hopeless emotionally.

The advantage of Spaciousness

What is often helpful is to seek the larger landscape which can hold one’s experience. A spacious mindfulness practice can benefit a sense of larger perspective. A bigger picture, an openness that can soothe the mind and calm the heart. And even if the practice does not completely do this every single time, it may do it enough so that we can be present one more moment, one more hour, one more day. It allows the boundless qualities of Life to arise and remind us that a clear mind and open heart are possible even in the most difficult circumstances.

One of the classic images used to express this is a storming bull that is caught in the confines of a very small barn. What happens as the animal rages and bucks against the narrow walls of its prison? Likely, it will both destroy the barn and deeply injure itself. However, place the bull in the space of an open field with no obstacles or boundaries; its energies will surely be vented, and its forces also will also exhaust and calm themselves over time. Our minds and hearts are similar.

Placing our minds and hearts within a larger landscape allows whatever to arise to be held with mindfulness. The broader the picture we have of our life, the more space we have to maneuver any difficulties that arise and to tend and care for all of the multiple joys and sorrows that come our way. This kind of spacious open awareness does not repress, deny, or change the experience of the mind. It simply gives the mind room to breathe, relax and come into its fullest potential — to be kind, clear and free and at perfect peace.

Spaciousness

 

 

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Happiness – the starting point, not the destination

Happiness and sense of fulfillment in life has very little to do with accomplishments in the external reality. If we are enjoying music, it is not the music that makes us happy.  From this is the expression of our love for the music we  creates\ our joy. If we are happy in our job or career, it is not the job that makes us happy. The expression of our love for what we do creates the experience of happiness. When we are enjoying a beautiful day, it is not the day that is flooding us with emotions. It is our love for the experience of the day that we are flooded with.

Creating happiness

Happiness is a feeling created by the expression of your love coming out of you. If you express emotions of fear and anger, you will experience fear and anger. How you feel is determined by the emotions you create. You can control your happiness to the degree that you can control your attention in your mind. The truth is that you make yourself happy. You probably just don’t know how anymore. Through mindful awareness it becomes real and waits to be freshly rediscovered in the next moment of awareness.

Happiness, Mindfulness

 

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Balance is the key

The life of every living creature depends upon breathing. Breath is the union of two – inhaling and exhaling. Breathing in and breathing out are not two opposites but two parts of one process that are organically connected and cannot be divided. It is these two functions that that maintain the balance of life. Choosing only either one of these functions will actually suffocate us. Now this is also true with regard to our dealing with thoughts feelings and emotions. Unfortunately we are conditioned only to attach ourselves and identify with every thought, feeling and expression.

Attachment is only one part of the process. There is also the function of detachment. If we choose only either one part of the process it will definitely disrupt our balance. This is where meditation plays an important role. Meditation is the time and space we create to detach ourselves from all thoughts, feelings and emotions. Once we master the art of detachment we transcend both attachment and detachment and we begin to act from a place of stillness, peace and balance. Balance then becomes as natural as breathing and goes on even without our knowledge. It is when we become mindful, aware and one with totality. That which we are searching for will then be found. Let every breath remind us of this.

Ranji Varughis

 

Fusion of opposites

 

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