Monday, December 29, 2008

Being Quietness

Resting in quietness. So little to do or say.
The winter calls into deep chasms of peace,
With no regard for the rest.
Nothing to seek
Nothing to attain to
Nothing even to Be
Absolute Presence
Absolute Absence

Unborn
Eternally Unborn

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Name - Same Story

As you can probably see, we've changed the name from Atma Enlightenment Blog to The Freedom Blog. The reasons for this are several:

1. To far too many people, the term enlightenment has too much charge or meaning associated with it. In India, the term is referred to as mukti or moksha, which literally mean to be free, released... i.e. freedom.
2. Enlightenment (or the concept of it) has an either/or quality to it - you are or you aren't, and while there is some truth to that, it is more involved than a simple dichotomy, and again goes back to that charge or association of the concept.
3. Freedom entails much more. The basic principle of freedom (or enlightenment) is letting go of ALL concepts, habitual patterns, beliefs, etc. and that includes those associated with living in the world via body, mind, intellect, and so forth.

Enlightenment, in concept, generally means a non-dual REALization, a true recognition that there is only ONE thing going on here. By it's nature, the belief in enlightenment, often includes a kind of escapism which means transcend the body/mind stuff permanently, as opposed to seeing the all-one nature of it all. Recently I've been meditating on the Yin/Yang sign (not literally) and the Reality it represents - One thing which is so obvious, and yet is obviously also apparently two things. Consciousness/Awareness is one thing in which everything arises - the you that is aware, the things in awareness and the being aware. Where is the division between those things? So what is happening in the world is just as important as the one that is aware. It's all a part of the One thing and it is all perfect. However, the recognition of the "wrong-ness" of what is going on is also perfect.

Right now, a lot is happening, and much of it is being tuned out. First, the general "powers that be" are tuning much of it out, since they don't want you to know about it, and secondly, our own tendency to fear change is also (and mostly) tuning it out. We desperately want to hold on to what we know. We desperately want to feel safe. We desperately want to protect our sense of individuality or ego. But what we are going through now is, in fact, glorious. It absolutely requires that we either let go of our old ways of thinking OR we suffer.

Let me give you an example. On the day of 9/11 when the twin towers came down, we watched the enitre thing on television. A couple hours later I had to drive my kids into town to go to school and the youngest (who was about 17 at the time) says, "What's the big deal? In two weeks everyone will have forgotten about this anyway!"

My response, of course, was to point out that this was a huge, virtually unprecedented event, and that, in many ways, life as we knew it would never be the same. The same is happening now. "Normal" is OVER!!! The collapse of Empire is happening. The economy is collapsing all over the world, unemployment is going up, foot shortages are beginning to happen all over the world, the environment is being destroyed, animals are being made extinct at an alarming rate, and on and on and on. What we can see is only the tip of the iceberg. (We live in the country and there's an old saying - If you see one mouse in your home, it means you have at least 50 living there.) If you can see any evidence of collapse, there is probably a hundred other things you're missing. The key point is not that it is good or bad, but rather, the inability to recognize it is the illusion. Our tendency to hold onto the old, or to try to maintain the old status quo is ridiculous. While it may not be totally obvious as yet, it will be increasingly clear as the next few weeks, months and years roll on. Much of it is the slow turning up of the heat (as in how to cook a frog), so it probably will not be as obvious as the twin towers, but certain things should be obvious - like the 700 billion dollar "bailout" that helps no one but the bankers. The possibility of the automotive bailout, etc. Think of it as the looters getting their last chance at every penny before it all falls apart.

The question is, do you do something to prepare, or do you just let it catch you by surprise when suddenly your job is gone, there's no money coming in, no one to give you food (already many of the food banks have virtually no food), you can't pay or car payments, your house payment, your power is in jeoparody of being shut off, and so forth. Many of these things are occurrences you can't just wish or will or hope out of existence. They will happen eventually. And our present 'civilization' is so based on a credit/monetary system that most people won't have a clue what to do.

The big upside here is that the circumstances are giving us a huge opportunity to let go of ego. It allows us to recognize the beliefs about ourselves and society that are just not true. It forces us to either go into resistance or to let go of our wrong assumptions of what is and see/recognize reality - to honestly question how much we can depend on things remaining the same and our resistance to change.

So, those are some of the reasons for the name change. Freedom entails letting go of all concepts and moving into pure awareness, and it requires examining and releasing all of our old beliefs. Not easy to do.

Imagine that you are a goldfish born in a fish tank. You live relatively freely in this tank, swimming, eating, loving, doing all those fish things, but every once in a while, you run into the glass. Now, in many ways, everything seems normal, but there is just this weird feeling that 'something' is not quite 'right'. You can't put your finger (or fin) on it, because this is what you were born into. That glass has always been there, and your life revolves around the other stuff that you're doing that seems way more important than worrying about the glass (which you can't even see - just sense, sort of). But inherently, there is a recognition that real freedom would mean being in the vast lakes, rivers or oceans, not in a one foot by two foot glass box. (This is, in part, why the movie The Matrix was so profound.)

Similarly, we have been born into this western civilization and unfortunately, the younger you are, the less you generally recognize how bad it has gotten - like the glass is getting thicker and the walls are getting closer. But you just assume that all will continue to be fine and dandy. This is called illusion. So freedom is about seeing through all the illusions. In some cases, depending on the individual personality, that will mean trying to escape; for others, breaking the glass; for others - simply surrendering to what is happening, recognizing that it probably means a "pre-mature" death. There is ultimately no right or wrong in that, but there is a benefit in not being blind to the truth of the situation.

Speaking of the sitution - I would like to point you toward a wonderful blog I read by Carolyn Baker. She has a wonderful website called "Speaking Truth to Power" and this particular blog is called "Abdicating the 'A' word - Frantically Fighting for the Familiar". It is somewhat long, but I highly encourage you to read it!


http://carolynbaker.net/site/content/view/853/1/

Take care - Aja

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How Do We Live

"The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. "
Gloria Steinem


Since the last email/blog I have received quite a lot of responses. - in fact, probably the most responses I've ever received. And rather than being negative, or people asking to be taken off the list (only received 1 of those), people were very supportive. If anything, I felt that people were and are angry, confused, or feeling hopeless, but in many cases, perhaps felt badly about that anger, and wondered what benefit it had, and what they could do. So first, I'd like to reprint something which just came in my mail in the most recent issue of LA Yoga Magazine, Andrew Harvey (author of The Divine Feminine, Teachings of Rumi, etc.) said in an interview:
"The patriarchal mystical systems have demonized anger, because they are terrified of the potential deranging force that it can unleash. But they're also terrified of the ways in which outrage can lead to a fundamental readjustment of society. At this core, the demonization of anger is a refusal of the transformational powers of the dark feminine since true holy outrage can unleash in a way that restores balance and transforms society.

"If you aren't angry at how the environment is being destroyed and how we're beging governed by corrupt gangsters, how the corporations have no controls on their greed-inspired actions, if you aren't angry at the fact that billions of people are living on less than $1 a day, you aren't human. If your anger masters you and drives you into hatred, you aren't human either. What is needed is what the Tantric feminine mysttical traditions give us, and which Jesus exemplifies: a way of using the energy of outrage, transmuting it by dedicating it to the divine for purification into fierce compassionate energy that sustains constant action."

So, first of all, it's not the anger that is bad. Many people (particularly of the neo-advaita and new age persuasion) hold this view and want everything to be loving and light, but it generally comes off superficial, and is an excuse to close their eyes to the suffering and the pain and pretend everything is going to be all right. It will not be all right if people don't do anything about it.

Now, what CAN be done? I can ONLY offer the thoughts and ideas that arise or come across this personality (obviously) but I will share what I can, and would encourage you to share as well. First, I promised a number of people that I would mention a book I've come across - Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk. She also has a website (or two), one of which is www.sharonastyk.com. The basic premise of her book is based on the concept of peak oil and probably collapse of civilization and what can be done to prepare for that. In her case, her husband and small children moved to land and started working toward self sufficiency. While including statistical data and laying out very clearly some of the obvious problems and the extent of those problems, she offers very positive solutions on how to change one's life, primarily with the idea of beginning to lower one's impact and reducing one's footprint by the required 90% necessary for sustainability in 7 different areas such as food, energy, garbage, etc. Although many people may feel that she is going to far, I don't feel that she goes far enough, which means that many of you may find some of her suggestions about right. Plus she is speaking as a woman and mother, which makes her voice and perspective somewhat unique from the usual collapse of civilization viewpoints. In any case, I highly recommend the book and her website. (Many of the comments to her blog by readers are just as valuable as her writings.)

Why don't I feel that it goes far enough? Perhaps it's simply that I'm crazy. But, it occurred to me the other day that one of our biggest problems is money, the almighty dollar. I remember when I was a youth, in our philosophical musings, one person would point out to another that "Money is the root of all evil," at which point someone else would correct them to the real quote which is "Love of money is the root of all evil." I realized it had been years and years since I heard anyone say that. Why? Because our cilization now IS money. That's virtually all it is. How to make more, why are we losing so much, the economic problems, buy this, save that, advertising and marketing so ubiquitous in our lives, on television, radio, and, yes, the internet, that we can't help but simply accept it. But money is an artificiality. It's not real, it's not needed. Oh yes, in THIS civilization it is virtually imperative. But it is NOT one of the requirements for life, for happy life, for peaceful a peaceful life. In fact, if anything it does the exact opposite.

I have my own trinity of what is needed - Community, Simplicity and Spirituality (of course, food, water, shelter is a given). Our culture has deified money to the extreme. The other day I googled "Cashless society" thinking I would get 'hits' on a world without money. Instead, I got websites about the pros and cons of a civilization based on plastic money and credit only - i.e. the elimination of any kind of hold in your hand dollars and cents. Stupid me. Politically and economically this is the next stage. I already know plenty of people who never carry money, and commercials poo-poo the idea of it, showing how plastic is so much better. Believe it or not (I almost crapped my pants), there is a new version of the game Monopoly in which there is no money, but only an ATM/bank machine and each player has a platic credit card.

Although paper money isn't worth much either, particularly since it came off the gold standard, when civilization collapses, the paper will at least be of benefit for perhaps bathroom tasks. What we need is to recognize the real essentials and create those in our life. Anyone who is looking with untarnished eyes sees that this current way of living is in NO WAY sustainable. It's like the old pyramid scheme. Somebody always gets screwed in the end. We all want to live at the highest material standard, and hope that for others as well. It is an impossibility. It cannot happen, no matter how much wishing you do. And to try to live at that standard is to deny others the possibility of living AT ALL. For the entire world to live at the so-called standards of western civilization would require four more planets just like Earth. Anyone got one or two hanging around?

A number of people and movements have been exploring total moratoriums on buying anything new (other than food). I think this is an excellent start. (This all falls under the category of Simplicity). There are many books on voluntary simplicity, and groups involved in this. Research those. Before you buy anything, ask yourself, WHY? What is the difference between need and want. And don't let anyone tell you that you have 'Poverty Consciousness'. Poverty or abundance has NOTHING to do with money or things! It has to do with quality of life, and a life based on owning a bunch of crap or on 'retail therapy' is not quality. A quality life comes primarily from 'community' and 'spirituality'. These are huge topics themselves, so I won't go into any detail here, but suffice it to say that community is that sense of belonging, being a part of a group, a tribe, a family. This society advocates strong individuality, meaning, go it alone. What you end up with is a lot of individuals who are miserable and suicideal. Do what you can to find, create, be part of a community - other living, breathing humans - not an online community (though that's better than nothing). And spirituality is another HUGE category and will look different for different people. It might be as simply as the asking of some philosophical questions, pondering the nature of the Universe and the Self. It may mean studying various religious texts, or spirituality may mean something as simple as the word implies (coming from the root 'spire' to breathe, and point you toward the quiet act of meditating on the in and out-going breath.

I encourage your thoughts on these matters, (yes, both positive and negative), your comments and realizations. Remember:

"Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
And above all, that shalt not be a bystander."
(Inscription on the holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.)



With Love,
Aja

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What is Really Going On!

"To think deeply in our culture is to grow angry and to anger others;
ad if you cannot tolerate this anger, you are wasting the time you
spend thinking deeply. One of the rewards of deep thought is the hot
glow of anger at discovering a wrong, but if anger is taboo, thought
will starve to death."
Jules Henry

I recently found the above quote in the book, Walking on Water by
Derrick Jensen. If you don't know about him, you should. There are a
number of Youtubes, and he has quite a few books out. The only one
I've read is the above, but I'm enjoying it. What is Derrick Jensen
about? The end of civilization. Me too! Not too long ago, a friend
said he looked down on the city and said to himself, "This isn't
going anywhere." But I disagree. See this link as proof:

http://survivalacres.com/wordpress/?p=716

The Link mentions how they burried a car 50 years ago and would go to
whoever could guess (back then) how many people would be living in
Tulsa in the present time. When they dug it up, the car, well sealed,
was a bucket of rust.

I've been receiving phone calls and emails (many of which I'm afraid
I have either ignored or not gotten around to answering) asking if
I'm okay, still alive, etc. The answer is yes, but I admittedly have
been rather reclusive for a number of reasons.

1. There is a lot happening at Barnashram that is very positive -
farming, community, family, food, HUMANITY. On the other hand, when I
leave Barnashram, I see only the semblance of humanity, the shreds
and what is left of what was left of humanity. People are in deep
illusion and prius's, yoga, and Obama are not going to fix
it. Reread the quote above. This could be my motto and vision
statement. Henry Ford once wrote that, "Thinking is one of the
hardest things there is to do which is why so few people do it." It
wasn't meant as a joke. Most people no longer know how to think. They
are fed every form of crap and told that it is normal, that it is
evolution, that it is fine, or just to love it. This is crap. You
should be angry at what is happening in the world. If you're not
angry, you are either in denial or just totally ignorant of the truth
of what is happening. The planet is dying. Humanity is dying. The
waters, airs, ground, ethers are all polluted by "Humankind".

Some 2,500 years ago, Plato wrote

"Is not the whole of human life turned upside down; and are we not
doing, as would appear, in everything the opposite of what we ought
to be doing?"

I was amazed to see this as the last thing in a book I recently read
by Marty Glass entitled Yuga. Surprisingly, as some of you know,
I've been saying for years that if you could create Utopia, turn it
180 degrees around, you'd have present day civilization. Plato saw
the same thing two millennia ago, and look how far we've digressed from then.

One of the things I like about Derrick Jensen is that is says... I'm
angry and I'm in despair, and I'm full of hate, but I also love life
and am full of joy, and happiness, and love. Too many people now
assume that to hate is to deny love and light. It's not an either/or
situation. Love & hate go together...Yin/Yang... Shiva/Shakti....It's
all one. The "spiritual" and the "material" are one vast thing. If
you watched as your lover or child or even your pet was cruelly
treated, starved, or raped, you'd scream bloody murder. This planet,
wisdom, intelligence, humility, simplicity, togetherness, family,
etc. are being continually beaten, strangled, raped, and yet no one
says a thing. Get ANGRY! Having lived through the 60's I can attest
to a statement I recently heard from (I believe it was) Naomi
Wolf) If what is happening now was happening 40 years ago, there
would be millions marching on Washington. Now no one does anything.

Admittedly, I am not doing much either, however, gradually, my
children are creating a wonderful place for us with food, shelter,
community and simplicity at Barnashram. They recognize the problem
and they are doing something about it, at least for themselves and
their loved ones. I also understand that these days, if you know
what's happening, it is scary to act. They don't just arrest you or
look down on you, it is totally conceivable that you can just
disappear - locked up and the key thrown away. These thing ARE happening.

I would encourage people to use this strange thing called the
Internet to really find out what is happening in the world. Find out
the truth about the so-called 2 party political system, economics,
who is truly running the world, and why a vote for anyone is
virtually worthless. Find out how many species a day are being
extinguished for us, for our oil, our corn for "bio-fuel" and mostly
for the 9 billion animals we kill annually in the US for "food".
Investigate how heartless we have become - and heartless is not
'being angry' but rather NOT being angry about the injustices and
inhumanness that is happening. Begin to really open your hearts and
FEEL the pain. Don't try to keep it out with 'yummy' things that make
you feel good.

Okay, my computer is about out of juice, so I gotta go. If you're
interested, email me, if not, feel free to take your name off the
list (I'm sure many of you will anyway - it's fine). But I ask you to
think about these things. Compassion and Empathy mean to FEEL these
things that are going on. Experience your emotions fully. They are
all good and instructive, and if you're not getting angry, let me
know why. Or perhaps you're angry at ME for writing this. That's a
good start. Why are you angry with me? Because I destroy your
illusions? I put a spot of darkness on your otherwise velvety white
cloak of love and light?

Well, I do love you, and that is why I write these things. The one
great thing about the internet is that it does allow us to
communicate. So let's do that.

Looking forward to hearing from you...

Believe it or not... With Infinite Love & Peace,
Aja

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Touch Starved

 
What DOES it mean to be human? Virtually everything that you have learned is wrong. It is NOT your fault. The problem is, nearly everything you learn has somebody's agenda behind it, very often the obvious ones of making money, etc., but very often hidden. This is why our western society is so very sick. We are taught about political, social, cultural, gender, and religious correctnesses. We are NOT taught about HUMAN correctness. We are told we should follow the laws of the government, but not the universal laws. We are told we should follow the "correct-ness" laws, but not the human laws. We believe we can make up the human laws. We can not!
 
The largest organ of the body is the skin. In a grown man, it covers about 19 square feet and weighs about 8 pounds. A piece of skin the size of a quarter contains more than 3 million cells, 100 to 340 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and 3 feet of blood vessels.  Many people are aware of research done with monkeys not allowed to be with their mothers and how totally insane they went. And yet, we seem to think we can get along fine without nurturing touch.  Oh sure, we give the obligatory "hello and good-bye hug" (sometimes), but that's not enough.
 
Many people say, "Well, I'm not a 'touchy-feely' kind of person.  Imagine you saw someone with a blindfold on and ear plugs in their ears. When you inquire, they say, "Oh, I'm not a 'see-ey, hear-y' type of person."  Would you think, "Hmm, interesting", or would you think, "Now there's one sick S.O.B."?   Or they had tape over their nose and mouth and said, "I'm not a breath-y, eat-y type of person." You'd know they were going to die soon. 
 
"Touch belongs to the universal law of life and we are a touch deprived society. We must not be afraid." Eva Sherer
 
There are generally Two kinds of cultures classified as High Touch and Low Touch. Countries like France, Italy, and Greece are High Touch; New Zealand, Australia, Britain, and, yes, the U.S.A are Low Touch.  What's the difference. Well check this out.
 
One study showed a stark contrast between cultures by noting the number of touches exchanged by pairs of people sitting in coffee shops around the world:
 
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, people touched 180 times an hour;
in Paris, France, 110 times an hour;
in Gainesville, Florida, 2 times per hour; and
in London, England, they never touched.
 
 
On a pre-school playground watching children they found
 
Affectionate Touching -         Paris - 23% of the time
                                         Miami - 3% of the time
 
Aggressive Touching             Paris - 1% of the time
                                         Miami - 37% of the time
 
Now, who invaded Iraq?  Was it France or was it the US and Britain?

We have also made touch practically evil. If you touch an associate at work or another student at school, it is sexual harassment. If you touch a child, you are probably a pedophile. If you touch someone of the same sex, you are a homosexual (not that there's anything wrong with that); if you touch anyone, you are a 'touchy-feely' type of person.  I have news for you. WE ARE ALL TOUCHY FEELY TYPES OF PEOPLE - at least we should be. But we have made it "inappropriate" to touch anyone. Some parents are even AFRAID to touch their own children, as it could be construed somehow as inappropriate touching.
 
Those places with the lowest touch scores are, not coincidentally, also the places with the highest incidents of SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION. Half of our adult population are on anti-depressants. More than a million people a year commit suicide in the world. You know, in spite of my "Would you push the button" blog, I don't want you dead, but there are people in power who do. They purposefully create ideas like 'don't touch' and 'watch out for pedophiles and sexual harassment in order to isolate you, depress you, and get you on drugs and/or to kill yourself. They want you sick and dying! They don't want you to be alive and awake. They want you to see a lot of killing in movies but not a glimpse of a breast or buttocks. They want you to talk on cell phones and communicate via computer, but not to sit with a friend, look deeply into their eyes, hold their hands, hug them or cuddle up.
 
Our bodies NEED touch like our stomachs need food. We need all kinds of nourishment consistently and regularly – food, sleep, sunshine, and TOUCH. It doesn't require a 'partner' or lover. We are all part of the human family. We all need touch to survive and be healthy.

So, "Reach out and touch someone!"

Friday, September 12, 2008

More on the Box Game

Greetings once again...

In the last blog (which you should read before this one) we talked about the Box Game. YOU (consciousness) enters into the 'Box', also known as 'you' (the body, mind, memories, concepts, etc.), which it then identifies with. However, strictly on the material level, it continues even further - just to give you a clue of how little you probably understand of who or what you are.

So it looks like this (sort of)

YOU - the Absolute
you (Box) - the person-hood, per-sona, actor, fiction within the material world
and the new one (note the quotes)
"you"

This last entity "you" neither YOU nor you are probably even aware of. "You" is the corporate entity that is functioning within the governmental society. It is the one which has a social security number, a drivers license, votes, makes $$$, pays taxes, etc. You can generally tell when 'you' receives mail because instead of being addressed to Joe P. Citizen, it will be addressed to JOE P. CITIZEN (all caps).

Now, I'm not presenting this just to give you an idea of the government conspiracies (although you would certainly be wise to explore that as well), but because it may give you a clue as to how you can think you are one thing when you are entirely something else. The "you" is a part of the corporate entity. In fact, it is a franchise the larger corporate entity. It is a Strawman, a phony, a fraud. It has been created through various laws and statutes as a corporate front for you (which is a material front for YOU). This is why many people recognize (and there are millions of them in the u.S.A. which now recognize you do NOT need to pay taxes, have a drivers license, etc., and also why your vote for president is ABSOLUTELY meaningless. - (They decide who is elected, not the so-called 'people'.) It was created through various amendments to the constitution, way back when, the 13th, 14th, and 15th, as I recall. These essentially take away your constitutional Rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness), and give the strawman privleges which mimic their Sovereign Rights.

Okay, okay, I know, too much, and way too depressing. It's way too much fun to talk about Obama, and Palin, and all and how we are going to end the War and all of that. "You" have no control over that, just as you have no control over most of the things you think you have control over. (All these you's are a bit confusing huh?)

Okay.....

YOU - The Sovereign Spiritual Self Absolute
has become identified with...

you - The temporary per-sona that is the BOX which has a name, life, thoughts, body, memories, etc., and which is also now confusing itself with a further illusion called...

"you" - A c0mpletely fictitious paper entity which is (unlike You or YOU) completely controlled and ruled by corporate laws or statutes (also known as Admiralty Law - at present virtually the only laws being applied).

If you are confused about all of this, let me point out another possible way of seeing it in hierarchial form in the way of Venues. Most of you have probably heard the term, a legal term referring to who has jurisdiction at any given time.

So right now, suppose you are living in Portland, Oregon. You are living within a variety of venues: The City of Portland; The County of Multnomah, The State of Oregon, and The Federal Venue. Each of these has specific laws. (This is why, although medical marijuana is legal in Oregon, the Feds and still Bust your Ass!)

It is very much like the idea of multiple universes. YOU are living in many universes simultaneously - YOU, you, and "you". So how many others are you unaware of?

Werner Erhard pointed out that there are many things that you know, and many things that you don't know. The sad thing is there are things that you don't know that you don't know, and even worse, that you don't care.

Truth is about finding these things out - exploring beyond the 'obvious'; questioning reality, Reality, authority, concepts, beliefs. If you are living a 'normal' everyday kind of existence, then a HUGE percentage of what you think to be true is garbage. Perhaps a fun game, but garbage nonetheless.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Game

Okay... Let's play a game. First, a few terms and ground rules, or something:
------------------
Terms:

you (or You if beginning a sentence) - That which most people think they are, i.e. their body, their mind, their emotions, the whole Per-Sona or personality thing.

YOU (still YOU if beginning a sentence) - That which is observing the above.... Awareness, Consciousness, Self, the Seer, the Witness, Atman, etc.

Box - Basically another term for 'you' (see above terms), and/or for any of the other personalities out there.
------------------------------
Rules:
There may not be any rules. You have to decide. You see, this is the question which has been perplexing thinkers (and completely over the head of non-thinkers) for millenia.

Okay, so it looks something like this: There is a box, in fact, countless billions of boxes. They are all part of the game, and in the game - they ARE the game. Awareness, (YOU) then drops into these boxes and pretends to be that box (much like you might decide to be the shoe, the puppy, the racecar, etc. in Monopoly). However, YOU are NOT the box. YOU are only playing on being the box. However, as in anything, there is a certain attachment and/or identification with that box. In the game, due to over-strong identification with the box, you (the box) wants to improve the box, to lord it over other boxes, perhaps play fairly with other boxes, maybe love another box, bungee jump as your box, watch TV as your box, enslave other boxes, free other boxes, follow a particular Messiah Box (Jesus Box, Buddha Box, Jack in the Box), reward yourself for doing that well, punish yourself for not doing it well, become a really BUFF box, an extremely intelligent box, collect more houses and hotels on Boardwalk box....hopefully by now, you get the picture.

Now, the boxes, by nature, will tend to get into box clusters - by age, by belief, by political, spiritual, or gender correctness, and then, generally go to battle the other box clusters - either with soothing words (if they deem themselves morally or politically correct), with less soothing words, by bad mouthing each other, with sticks and stones, or ultimately with wide-scale destructive weapons. Very often, each box cluster will elect a box leader, or a stronger box leader will take command (either through force of power or force of persuasion of one sort or another).

Along the way, the boxes will be involved in a wide variety of experiences (or as Juno would say - "Shenanigans") and ultimately, for them, the game is over and the box deteriorates. While identifying with the box, there appears to be NOTHING more important than that partiular box (and in some cases others in their box cluster - although that is becoming MUCH less so - mostly, it's only about MY box...screw all the other boxes...or in extreme narcissism, "There are no other boxes!")

The point of the game: To play the game. In the end, the box goes away in nearly ALL recorded cases for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. A particular box is not going to really achieve anything. Oh sure, a few will be remembered for a few years or even a few centuries, on one little planet, in the vast history of time. So, the point, on one level is pointless. However, which would you rather do. Sit on your ass (like me most of the time), or get out there and DO something - do some damage, have some fun, make love to lots of people, be known for saving other boxes or other boxes' souls, or feeding boxes, or ...

Or, look for higher experiences, mystical "out of box" experiences, see boxes on other planes of existence, or even to recognize YOU, i.e. that which perceives the box, in which case, you may not have to come back and play the box game anymore.

Possibly, VERY possibly, you don't have ANY choice. YOU've come down into this particular box, and it has a particular shape and perhaps a destiny, an ultimate outcome over which you have no control. Even the apparent decision making, choice thing, is part of That box's pre-destined destiny. How can you know?

But, the bottom line here is that YOU are not the you box. YOU are what is apparently identified with the box, and thus with the game. When you play the game, there are certain rules which are outside of your control (if you have ANY) and certainly out of your jurisdiction. So, certain activites performed by the box result in a happy box, some in an unhappy box, some in a sadistic box, some in a loving box, and so on. But, the unhappiness, the suffering, is bound to come up AS LONG AS YOU identify as being you (or the box). Only the actual recognition that you are innately not the box, outside of the box, beyond the box, prior to the box, can you have some semblance of peace and freedom from the sufferings of the box, and, coincidentally to actually know what is TRUE. All aspects of the Game or just the Game - they are untrue by nature - temporary, illusory, small and insignificant in the GRAND scale of things, etc.

IT IS FINE TO PLAY THE GAME!
IT IS ALSO FINE TO SEE THROUGH THE GAME AND SEEK TRUTH!
YOU WILL PROBABLY BE CALLED TO DO ONE OR THE OTHER - OUTSIDE OF your CHOICE.
Seeing through the game, ultmately, is the smarter thing to do (at least that's what everybody in my box cluster tells me).

Good luck with the game. I hope your side wins.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Buzzkill Baba asks, "Would You Push THE Button?"

I'm not sure where this came from, but recently I, or someone has been referring to me as Buzzkill Baba. Actually, it seems quite appropriate, since my motto is "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Of course, nearly everyone these days, whether they will admit it or not, is afflicted, or comfortably afflicted or afflicted comfortably or... Nonetheless, as long as I can remember, there has been a tendency to zig where others zag. So, as it is common these days to try to paint a bright face on the darkness that rages, my tendency is to paint it darker, as dark as possible, and still, probably it is lighter than the reality. The bottom line - people don't want to see the truth, or as Edward R. Murrows said, " Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit."

Perhaps I am just masochistic. Or perhaps, I really enjoy the Truth. But either way, on to the question...

"Would you push THE button?"
What is the button? Well, Mckenna addresses this point in some of his 'extra' online materials, but relates it only to Switzerland. If you had a button in front of you, and with one push you could immediately extinguish all of humanity, would you? It would be instantaneous, painless, and would be as if suddenly all humans and human 'stuff' suddenly disappeared....ZAP! This, of course, would include YOU. Consider it a Thought Experiment. Would you do it? Consider the ramifications and consequences. Imagine the thousands upon thousands upon THOUSANDS of species that wouldl instantaneously be saved. Think of the billions upon billions of animal lives that would be saved. Think of the planet flourishing, like the Garden of Eden. Would you do it? Hmmmmm?!!?

If you would do it...why? If you wouldn't do it...why not?

Who would be pushing or not pushing the button?

(Remember, if you did it, you certainly wouldn't regret it the next moment, would you? Could you?)

Perhaps this is why we don't have access to this button. Too many of us would be fighting at the chance to slam our hands down on that puppy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Ultimate Blog

Okay, maybe not the "Ultimate" Blog, but pretty damn close! I've been saving these for something, a book, or part of a book, or some special occasion. Well, it's Wednesday...no Thursday. That's special enough. It's NOW!

Everyone is familiar with the question, "Who Am I?" The purpose of this question is not to answer it from a logical, mental position, but that it directs you and guides you, ultimately, to what is BEYOND, 'who' you are, more to what you might say is, WHAT you Truly are, prior to all words, concepts, beliefs, or even EX-perience - the the Pure Subjective Recognition of Self.

Well, over the years, we formulated a whole bunch of similar questions. We did this for several reasons: One, some people have problems with the 'who'. Second, utilizing other questions helps see it in a different perspective and some other question may 'resonate' better. Third, for the fun of it.

First, some understanding of the 'process'. The idea is not to answer any of these questions logically, but more like to BE the question. Contemplate what it is asking. Also, either expressed or implied in each question is the phrase "Direct Experience Of" (sometimes shortened to simply DEO). The direct experience of means "what is it like to BE that". In other words, if I were to ask you "What is the direct experience of an orange?" I'm not asking you what it looks like, tastes like or feels like, but what would the direct experience be of BEING an ORANGE. Because each of these questions points, theoretially, to something you already ARE, simply reccognize that, cognize that, rest or abide in that, and see what comes up.

We used these questions in a dyadic format, i.e. one person would ask that other the question, and the 2nd person would contemplate it, see what comes up and communicate it. You can also do it on paper. Consider a question, meditate on it and write what comes up. Non-stop writing for 5, 10, 20 or whatever minutes works best for that. Also, it is best to find one question that you particularly resonate with and use that one only for some time (hours, days, weeks, months, years) consntantly until something clearly is Awakened, Realized, Recognized, etc.

Okay, so you ready. At this point, I have 47 questions, which I haven't really looed at for awhile. You may think of others, or think some don't qualify (it's possible). But try it....seriously...and see what you think:

1. Who am I?
2. What am I?
3. Where am I?
4. What size am I?
5. What is consciousness without an object?
6. What is the direct experience of God?
7. What is the direct experience of the world?
8. What is time?
9. What is space?
10. What is direct experience of emptiness?
11. What is no-mind?
12. What is infinite unity?
13. What is direct experience of oneness?
14. What is direct experience of infinite Self?
15. What is direct experience of Absolute Subjectivity?
16. What is direct experience of no language?
17. What arises as I?
18. What is direct experience of eternal acquiescence?
19. What is the direct experience of form and emptiness?
20. What is the direct experience of no limitations?
21. What is the direct experience of naked awareness?
22. Where do you end and the Absolute begin?
23. What is the direct experience of awareness?
24. What is the direct experience of love?
25. What is the direct experience of permanent dissolution?
26. What is the direct experience of eternal freedom?
27. What is the direct experience of eternal now?
28. What is the direct experience of unlimited hereness?
29. What is the direct experience of aliveness?
30. What is the direct experience of you that is nothing you are conscious of?
31. What is the direct experience of what is prior to I Am?
32. What is the direct experience of desirelessness?
33. What is the direct experience of namelessness?
34. What is the direct experience of being no person?
35. Who is the seeker?
36. What is the silence of God?
37. What is the source of consciousness?
38. What is within and without?
39. Where do you end and the world begins?
40. What is the direct experience of Being Peace?
41. What is the direct experience of One Undivided Essence?
42. What is Eternally Unborn?
43. What is the center of Infinite "I"?
44. What is the periphery of Infinite "I"?
45. What is the direct experience of Death?
46. What is the direct experience of the Chooser?
47. What is the direct experience of the Perfection of Now?

Okay... Ready, Set, GO!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

An Icon is Dead

Yes, I know, I haven't written much lately. And it's not because there is nothing to say, it is because there is way TOO MUCH to say, and, like looking at an overgrown garden, you sometimes just don't even know where to begin, so you don't begin at all.

But the recent death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn caused me to pause for a moment and just write. So here I am just writing. Why did his death cause a pause? Because much of his life was about "the lie" particularly the lie of government, but also our own lies. Take a few moments and google Solzhenitsyn and quotes. Read a few of the things he said.

“He wrote that while an ordinary man was obliged “not to participate in lies,” artists had greater responsibilities(:)
“It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!””

Our world has turned upside down. We have taken our present day "civilization" as normal. It is NOT. It is far from normal. It is brutally and deeply sick. Socrates was famous for his line, "An unexamined life is not worth living." I think this goes no where near far enough. I would say that an unexamined life is sick, dangerous, and that one who does not deeply examine life in general, especially their own, is a waste of space, a burden on the world, and probably a far better food for the non-vegetarian than the millions of animals that they cruelly and brutally murder each day.

Examine the sounds around you this moment. What do you hear? At the moment, as I write this, I'm hearing some asshole rev up his car like he's in the Indianapolis 500. I'm hearing car sounds, and airplane sounds and 'pop' music and every other human artificially created sound. I am NOT hearing birds or creeks or frogs or the wind through the trees... I hear only the sounds of the human virus. Even over 100 years ago, Thoreau wrote, "Our life is frittered away be detail. Simplicty, simplicity, simplicity."

How much of your time is wasted working for a living to buy crap you don't need?

Solzhenitsyn also wrote: “It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.”

So, while you may say that Aja is off on a rant again, I am happy to rant if it makes one individual stop and think, to make a choice. While many of the present day 'philosophers and spiritualists' are going around saying it's all perfect and there is no right or wrong, they are full of shit. There IS a right and a wrong. It may all be perfect, i.e. it is meant to be the way it is, but does that does NOT make it right. "It is all perfect" is simply an emotional excuse to not examine where you are fucking yourself or others up. It is a way of continuing your own lie...to NOT examine your own life. I'm not even talking spiritual principles here. I'm talking about being a basic human being - something of which I'm afraid there are very few. These things you see around you, perhaps even in your own mirror, are not humans, but some kind of weird sheeple.

For instance, today, while listening to the radio in the background, I heard an advertisement for "Doctors Say Yes", to get boob jobs. In other words, your credit is probably good enough that the doctors will say yes to you being able to afford breast augmentation surgery. Isn't that great! Radical stupidity is now more affordable.

Obviously, I am not free of faults. None of us are. After all, to err is human. WAY human. But, can we take pause to look at our errors, our humanness, and at least seek to minimize the damage? Like the food crisis. Sure, we barely notice it around here, but hopefully you are at least aware that there are wars and killings happening all around the world due to a shortage of food. And do you know why there is a shortage of food? Greed, yes! But two of the principle reasons are that the grains, corn, soy, etc. that could go to feed people, EASILY, are being used to produce ethanol for cars, and to feed animals so people can eat meat. All the word wants to emulate the Westerners. China and India especially are eating much more meat. So think of it this way: since it takes 6 to 14 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat, for each pound of meat you eat, you are potentially murdering 6 to 14 people, as well as causing immense damage to the earth, as meat eating has now been found to be one of the leading causes of global warming. (Don't take my word for it; look it up.)

Defeat the Lie! Look. Examine. Don't just let life progress in the hellishness we call civilization. Question everything. Be willing to look at everything with the eyes of truth. It is not always fun, but as Swami Brahmananda (1863-1922) said, "You seek peace? To attain peace, one must be willing to pass through the contrary to peace. Such is the teaching of the sages."

In India, often on either side of the front entrance, there is a gargoyle like creature. It is said that those two creatures are helplessness and confusion. To get to peace, it is essential to pass through helplessness and confusion, and that is generally what happens when one is sincere in seeking peace. But, please, please, please, do not turn away because it is scary or uncomfortable. Go forward with courage and conviction. It is the only way to ultimately come to Truth.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Milk & Yogurt

There is a wonderful analogy used in Brahma Samhita to describe the
difference between Vishnu and Shiva. However, I would like to steal
this analogy for a slightly different purpose: Shiva and Shakti.

Shiva is (for our purposes) the Absolute, the pre-coognitive Is-ness,
the Infinite Being. Shakti is that which arises from the Shiva - the
manifest, the relative, the objective. So, you might say they are the
"Spiritual" and the "Material" or the Absolute and Relative existence.

Shiva is pure unadulterated Milk;
Shakti is Yogurt.

What is the difference between milk and yogurt? In one sense,
nothing. Yogurt is nothing but milk, and yet milk to which a bacteria
has been added, which under fairly simple circumstances begins to
cultivate itself more and more. Still milk, but now cultivated, or
you might even say contaminated.

When people say that all is the Absolute, they are correct - All is
Milk. However, there is a culture in that milk, a bacteria, that
makes it milk and yet not milk. It is yogurt. Because yogurt is milk
and to a large extent looks like and feels like and tastes like milk,
it is easy to get confused, especially if you are continuously
experiencing yogurt and have never really tasted pure milk. For one
who knows the taste of pure milk, yogurt will NEVER pass as milk, no
matter how much others insist that it is all milk.

This culture or bacteria continues to feed on the sugars within the
milk until it is eventually all yogurt, and no one knows the
difference. This culture we now have is essentially all yogurt. No
one (or very very few) recognize that it has turned.

So what is this bacteria, this culture, that has entered into the
milk? It is the addition of Ego or a sense of individuation. It is
the beliefs and concepts which are held, the sense of "I" versus "not
I". It is the sense of separation.

There is a verse in the 2nd chapter of Gita which says, "What is
night for all beings, in that the disciplined one awakens. And that
in which all beings are awake, is night to the Self-seeing sage."
They see differently. They experience different things. Imagine that
we both look at what is agreed is a green tree, however, one of us is
color-blind but doesn't know it. One of us actually is seeing red,
not green, but all our lives we have been told that this is green. We
'know' that this tree is green, even though in reality, we are seeing
something else. No amount of argumentation is going to alter our
belief that we are seeing green, even though we have NEVER seen
green. And when the one who truly sees green tells us that we are
seeing something else, we balk, we laugh, we sneer. "How dare that
person tell me that I am not seeing green! I certainly know what
green looks like. I have seen green all my life!!" So, what stops us
from experiencing the truth of their statements? Ego, our own sense
of separation and self-importance. Our self-RIGHTeousness. We are
right, always, and because we are all equal, no one can tell me that
I might be wrong, or at least confused by my condition of color
blindness. And because we have no humility, and no real belief in a
higher power, we cannot be corrected. We will continue to go around
thinking that red is green, and wondering why we keep getting in
crashes when we go through 'green' lights.

So, how do you make yogurt back into milk. It is much harder than
going from milk to yogurt. In reality, I don't know if it is
possible. But for purposes of our story, I would say dilute the
yogurt with pure milk. Just keep adding more and more milk (pure
awareness, focused attention on the Absolute) until all the
self-sustaining and self-nurturing concepts and beliefs have been
diluted out. The more attention, the more focus, the more discipline
and dedication, the faster the process. Most want to add a cup of
milk, and say, "Hey, look, done!" But before you can blink, that wee
bit of milk has also been turned into yogurt.

Don't be fooled. Our society is turning all milk into yogurt, as fast
as it's dribbled in. And few can tell the difference. "It's all okay,
it's all milk!" Perhaps it is now all meant to become yogurt.
Perhaps tasting pure milk is meant to be a thing of the past, that
the culture of the future is the contaminated yogurt culture. But if
you ask anyone who has ever tasted pure milk, they would tend to
vociferously disagree. If you are convinced you are drinking milk,
perhaps you are right. Or perhaps you are simply not quite open
enough to consider you might, possibly, be confused or wrong. When so
many (nearly everyone) shares the affliction of confusing green and
red, who are you to trust? I mean, everyone agrees with you that
'this' is green. It's probably just fine. It's a tough situation, no
doubt. But what if? What if it isn't green at all. What if there is
an entirely different way of seeing it? Is the cost worth the Truth -
letting go of an entire lifetime of seeing things in a certain way?
Only you can answer that.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Father Knows Best OR What happened to God? OR Just What IS Enlightenment?

I have often spoken of the necessity of community to foster a sense of belonging. Too often, those seeking Awakening are mired by their own sense of not-belonging and generally speaking, the traditions of Enlightenment have come through cultures that have had a strong sense of community or tribe or belonging on one level or another.

But I've recently realized something else that amazed me. Many people are looking for spirituality WITHOUT God. Not that it isn't possible, but it is, to a large extent, the norm these days. Understandably, God has a bad rap. People see God or at least the word 'God' as representing a more Judeo-Christian old judgmental man in the sky kind of thing. This is a concept, and the concept must be let go of, but that doesn't negate the Reality which it represents. You may let go of your issues with your father; break away from him as a parent figure; etc. but that doesn't mean he stops existing. Or another example, in Vedanta, they often talk about confusing a rope for a snake, meaning to confuse the material for the spiritual. You can recognize that the snake is an illusion, but that doesn't make the rope disappear as well.

You can say, "I surrender to What IS" but What IS is God, the creator, the source, the absolute, Brahman, the Infinite Presence, etc. If you have issues with one or another of the 'words' used to describe that, you have issues. Preferring one or another word is fine, just like in Hinduism, they have 'Ishta Devatas" - one's chosen form of the beloved. But it is recognized there is NO distinction between them ultimately... God/Goddess/All That IS.

Nowadays, the tendency for Militant Me-ness and Radical Narcissism has created a generation to which the understanding of "I am God" is backwards. They want their Ego to be recognized as the infinite absolute. "I am God. Worship ME!" So, words like 'God', 'Surrender', and 'Humility' have become dirty words. It's all about how "I" can get everything for "ME" including Enlightenment. A Fool's Fancy!!!

"I am God" means truly that God is this 'I'. This me-ness is a spark of the fire, a thread of the carpet, a wave of the infinite ocean. And it is the letting go of, the surrendering of, the humility to drop this ego and enter fully into the Infinite Absolute that comprises the ever-expanding field of Awakening, not just "Oh Cool, I (the subtle ego) am God."

We are rambling a bit here, but thanks for bearing with me. One of the things I noticed about neo-advaita teachers and teachings in the very lack of the recognition of a Higher aspect of Reality. Few express this. Many don't even know this. Just like the fact that the Enlightenment Tradition comes primarily through cultures well grounded in belonging and community, they also come from cultures well grounded in a sense of the Divine. We don't have that here. Many people, on going to India, are struck by that sense of the Divine all around them. Every business, every town, every everything, it seems, is named after some aspect of God. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a temple, a sadhu, or something that is called Gopal this or Shiva that. Every taxi cab has a little shrine of some kind. People worship their cars, their cash registers, their computers as an aspect of the Absolute every day. They are deeply grounded that the source of EVERYTHING is God, the Father/Mother, and that their own Self is also an aspect of that.

When I was a kid, there was a show called "Father Knows Best" - one of those Leave it to Beaver, 50's type of shows. While I don't necessarily advocate that sentiment, still we have thrown the baby out with the bathwather. While letting go of some of the old concepts (the illusory snakes) we don't need to, and shouldn't throw out the rope as well. The tradition of Vedanta from which the teachings of Advaitic non-dualism spring is rife with devotional aspects. Adi-Shankaracharya, considered the father of 'modern' Kevala Advaita wrote dozens and dozens of devotional prayers to God in numerous forms. Nisargadatta worshipped his Guru numerous times EVERY day. Ramana, similarly spoke of God and the necessity of the Guru and wrote beautiful devotional songs to his Beloved mountain Arunachala.

Yes, there is Buddhism, which doesn't speak so much of God, but that's because it was a moot point. Buddha's point was that there is suffering and a way to end suffering. He NEVER said there wasn't a God. It just wasn't a necessary argument for the philosophy and understanding. And again, it's coming from a culture where that was taken as a given. Imagine being in a Christian church and saying , "Our suffering comes from our attachment to things of the world, to the mind" etc. etc. etc. Now did I say there was no God? No. It just wasn't a part of what I was addressing.

The recognition of Self as non-separate from the Infinite is like a zero-point. When one abides as "I" and sees practically that one is Consciousness, that is like the landing in India. Yes, you've touched the ground, but that's a far cry from exploring the landscape, learning the language, and ultimately losing your 'self' completely and fully into the culture. Landing is EASY. Recognizing that you, the real 'You' is Consciousness is easy peezy! You can do that in 5 seconds. Now live there, continuously, without leaving, 100% of every moment, moment by moment. Don't think just because you've glanced the 'brass ring' that you've caught hold of it, and certainly haven't become it. That is when there is no you and the Father/Mother/Absolute is manifesting fully as This I-ness.

We, in the West especially, and in the modern age in general, have Extremist Entitlement. "I don't need to do anything. I deserve it all. I have a pocket knife. I think I'll be a brain surgeon. Anyone can be President here, so I'll proclaim myself President. Everyone is inherently Spiritual Presence, so I'll proclaim myself fully Enlightened (without the need to go through any of the steps to REAL-ize that.)

While not wanting to detract from the Reality that the True Nature of everyone IS Infinite Consciousness, the nature of Maya or illusion is that, while you may mentally or even intellectually understand that, or have deep 'Aha's about it, that is not a concrete, tangible REALIZATION! This is the razor's edge. It is the What of the What and Who of you. It IS. There is no denying it. But as long as there is predominant identification with the phenomenal, the material, the body and mind, the desires and aversions, that is NOT Enlightenment. Do not be mistaken!!!

If this post has bothered you, ask yourself "WHY?" Who is bothered by it? What has been said that offends you, and what is that which is offended? The answer is EGO. Always has been, always will be.

The Bhagavad Gita says, Bahunam Janmanamante, Jnanavan Mam Prapadyate, Vasudeva Sarvam iti, Sa Mahatma Sudurlabha....

"After many many births, one who is already a possessor of Knowledge, (Jnanavan, like Jnani) surrenders to Me (God), and REAL-izes Everything IS GOD (Vasudeva Sarvam iti). Such a Great Soul (mahatma) is Very rare."

So, the reccognition of one Self as consciousness is the zero-point, so to speak. Now expand into that Infinite beyond the Infinite beyond the Infinite. Don't stop until all is lost.

Sounds like fun, huh!?!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Barnashram Family

I love Barnashram - our little mini-community of 3 human residents and an expanding number of 'others'. We now have 9 Chicklets (they're not quite chicks any more, but they aren't chickens either. But besides that, I love the sense of community that is developing. The biggest thing lacking in today's world is community! We actually take pride in not needing anyone, in being an individual, ready to fight the world alone; and yet, inside, many are devastated, depressed, and exceptionally lonely. It is a sickness that is pervading everything. Many don't even realize it, and yet keep questioning, "What is wrong?" but are unable or unwilling to open their hearts and realize that what they truly want and need is love and intimacy with others.

"Trigger the 60's Virus" - Sure, we were young and naive back then, but there was a beauty and exploration that has since either died or gone into deep hibernation. Back then, I had a family. In fact, a huge family. And it wasn't just friends. We actually created our own family. I've been a so-called minister since I was about 15 (through Universal Life Church - long before I actually became a 'real' ordained Hindu Priest), and our 'family' started with 8 of us. We all held hands and 'took' each other as our husbands and wives (or something like that - I don't remember the exact words). From there it simply expanded. After one particular concert at Volunteer Park (Seattle) we performed one ceremony that had over 50 people, all in one big circle, holding hands, and it looked something like this:

Me: Do you... (pointing at next person in the circle)
Person: Rainbow!
Me: Do you Rainbow, take... (Pointing at each person in the circle sequentially)
Group: John... Sheila... Mountain Child... Oren... Karen... (Hic!!)Fwed!... Sunshine... Judy... (etc.)
Me. ... To be your loving family?
Rainbow: I do!

And all around the circle until everyone had pledged to love the others forever, and I still do. Everyone I come in contact with I love. I know I may not show it, but that's not the kind of love I'm talking about. The love I'm talking about is unconditional, and sometimes looks like a thunderbolt rather than a rose. Every particle of everything is God. How can it not be loved and beloved?

To me, Barnashram is much like that. The name itself means all of society, all levels of society and all facets of humanity. Of course, it also means a barn which is an ashram. Ashram means 'shelter, community, hermitage' and more.

We invite you to be part of that Family - whether close to us or far away.

With infinite Love & Blessings,
Aja

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hugg-ahh-Meter

I just finished a wonderful book by John Robbins entitled 'Healthy at 100'
. I know, it hardly seems like Aja's kind of book, however, it was
incredibly diverse in speaking of what makes up health, and what those
cultures look like which have consistently had the most centenarians and
supercentanarians (those who live past 110).

I have often put forth the premise that if you could define and describe
paradise, every facet of it - birth through death, education, family
relations, community, education, spirituality, economics, EVERYTHING, and
then flip that 180 degrees, you would have current western civilization, or
lack of it. (Mahatma Gandhi was once asked "Mr. Gandhi, what do you think
of western civilization?" To which he replied, "I think it would be a good
idea.")

Anyway, I digress. The point of this story is that Robbins, in this book,
similarly shows how, in many ways, my contention is correct: this society
is exceptionally unhealthy. In onechapter he writes about nurturing,
touching and how important this is to our health. Not only important,
literally crucial. He quotes the late psychologist, Virginia Satir who
says, "We need 4 hugs a day to survive. We need 8 hugs a day for
maintenance, and we need 12 hugs a day to grow."

We of the Barnashram community are attempting to take these words to heart.
Doing a little research on hugs, we've found that there have been a number
of 'hug heroes'. Just in the last few decades there was Eleanor Hill who
founded Resonance House, and promoted hugs with 'I give hugs' buttons. More
recently, Juan Mann started a 'Free Hugs' campaign and showed up on Oprah a
couple ofyears back.(check youtube)

Anyway, I've decided we need to create a hug-o-meter (pronounced hug - ahh
- meter - emphasis on the Ahh!) At present, I'm thinking 12 beads on a
string, which you can move to one end each time you give (or get) a hug.
(We used such a device to keep track of our daily chanting when I lived in
temples.) Look for them soon... Or better yet, create your own today!

So, why is Aja (famous for his curmudgeonly behavior) doing this? Because
it is essential. It takes very little time to recognize the Absolute. The
difficulty is that there is so much garbage in the mind, particularly of a
low self worth nature, that the recognition of the Absolute cannot be
maintained or REALized. They continue to be little glimpses which quickly
subside because, ultimately, we can't stand ourselves, our lives, our
environment, our society, our ... Hugging reverses this trend. You start to
share love and you become love. (I met a saint a couple of years ago in
India walking down the street. Beautiful man. He turned to me and said,
'Love is God'. Not God is Love, but Love is God. It's the only thing he
said, and then walked on. And you can't go around arguing with saints, ya
know!)

The Who and What of us is One Thing. The What (or Absolute is recognized
when the Who-ness is clear enough for the What to shine through. What
obscures that, in part, is our identification with a who in which we assume
there is 'something wrong'. There is nothing wrong, but we don't believe
it. Living in Love, allows us to recogize that there IS nothing wrong.

Okay, enough for now. So HUG - ON DUDES!

Monday, May 05, 2008

We Must Cultivate Our Garden

Today, I received, as a slightly belated birthday gift, a donation from my friend, Susanne, in Switzerland, a donation for $540 (ten times my present age) with the note, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin"
Although I recognize a few words from the French, including Garden, I went to an online translator, which produced the result, "We must cultivate our garden." Now I have definitely received less than perfect translations from the translator, but accurate or not, it IS perfect... We must cultivate our garden – our interior gardens and our exterior gardens.
A garden is a wonderful metaphor for so much of what we experience, and are, as life! And from personal experience, I can say and see, that both attention and neglect have very powerful consequences. For the past few years, we have totally neglected our 7 acres and consequently it has become overrun with weeds, particularly blackberry vines. Even cutting them down is only a small step because the hidden roots will continue to sprout unless we are ever vigilant and keep on top of them.
In the beginning, it appears there are so many steps to be taken and the mind can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all – cut the weeds, watch for new weeds, cultivate and prepare the ground, choose new plants, and plant the seeds, water them, watch for sprouts, discriminate new plant sprouts from weed sprouts (very important), watch for critters which will attack or eat your plants, and so on.
But eventually, you begin to see progress. You still have a long way to go. In fact, it is basically an endless process. But still, it is very encouraging (en-heartening) and gives a sense of deep satisfaction as we begin to see we are finally on the right path.
As things progress, two things happen – First is that we notice it is becoming easier. The really difficult part is over and the encouraging progress makes the journey more enjoyable. Secondly, we have created new patterns. The pattern or habit of neglect that we have inadvertently created is replaced by a new pattern or habit of cultivating and vigilance. It has become our natural state to be in and of the garden.
However, one small warning: No matter how easy things appear to have become, we must never give up our vigilance. There is a famous garden saying, "One year to seed, seven years to weed." This is not a metaphor only, but a truism. If even one year you allow weeds to go to seed, those seeds can sprout in your garden even seven years later. In other words, a lot of hard work goes down the drain through a short amount of negligence. It's like you can't stand still. Even though our tendency is to sit back and relax, to rest on our laurels, congratulate ourselves for a job well done – to do so means you may well find yourself up to your nose in blackberries again. As the saying goes, "Pride cometh before a fall," and true humility is one of the great ornaments of the cultivator of any garden.
But eventually, that habit of vigilance is established, the garden is cultivated, and beautiful and abundant fruits are recognized from those labors. In fact, the labors are more or less gone, as they have become so much the background nature of who you are that they are no longer labors, and the minimal amount of weeding is simply a part of what is.
And even though, in the beginning, when you attempt to survey the entire garden, and all you see is weeds, remember that the journey of a thousand miles (or a thousand weeds) begins with the first step (cut), and that it must be started sometime (Now), and it must begin somewhere (Here), and it is either started, or the weeds just continue to grow and grow and grow and grow and ...........
And though it is tempting to think that we can "just be," you may find that you are up to your ass in weeds, and you would do well to remember that ...
We Must Cultivate Our Garden.

The Relative and the Absolute

Another way of looking at the Who and the What you are is recognizing the Relative and Absolute spheres of existence. First, understand, even if it is intellectually based, that they are One thing, but manifesting as the two separate aspects.

Next, let's define them a bit more. (I know that all of this appears to be a mental or intellectual exercise, and yet, it increases the understanding by which you can pass it all up.)


The Relative ....................The Absolute


Who..................................What

Shakti.............................Shiva


Material.............................Spiritual


Left Brain........................Right Brain


Objects.........................Subject


Plurality.......................Singularity


Contraction.......................Expansion


Limited.......................Unlimited


Phenomenal........................Noumenal


Active.............................Passive



And so on and so on. Again, these are only labels for the 'many' and the 'one' within the Infinite Is-ness. But it is helpful to make the distinction.

Like I mentioned in the 'What and the Who of You' there is a tendency to put an over emphasis on one or the other. The vastness of humanity, of course, not only puts their emphasis on the who, but their entire identification is with the who. However, among many spiritual seekers, the emphasis goes in a weird way to the other side – entirely to the 'what' withdrawing completely from the who, or at least attempting to, proclaiming that it is 'all an illusion' or 'maya' etc. While this is true, it is also, in most cases, not recognized, but simply an artificial proclamation of the mind, allowing one to ignore or escape the 'Relative Reality'.

It is very much like the mind/body connection. For years people thought of these as separate items. Over the last several decades, people have become much clearer that there is no dichotomy here – body and mind are but two aspects of the same thing, and each affect the other deeply. I can speak from personal experience here, as any one who knows me knows that for the last 30 or more years, I have greatly neglected and abused the physical aspect as I have explored the spiritual...and am paying the price.

The Relative and the Absolute are, similarly, two aspects of the One Is-ness. Neglecting one or the other (on a long term or permanent basis) means that there will be consequences. Neglecting the Absolute, of course, means that you will always identify with the limited, individualized, localized aspect of you, as subject, to world as object, which will ultimately result in attachment, resistance and suffering to a greater or lesser degree.

On the other hand, identifying with (or rather as) the Absolute, will ultimately burn away the attachments to the localized individual who-ness. Ultimately!!! But in most cases, people want to continue being people! In other words, they don't really want to entirely give up their identification as who-ness and enter into the Absolute aspect. They want to continue to be 'of and in the world'. This is fine, in fact, it is great. But one can't expect the same results as one who goes into the mountain cave or hermitage for 5 or 10 or 20 years of deep meditation and inquiry. You can expect a lessening of resistance and suffering and a deeper recognition, even only glimpses, of What you are. But then you must ALSO realize that the Relative sphere is just that – Relative.

Within the Relative, there IS good and bad. There is hot and cold. There is better and worse. There is more 'spiritual' and 'material'. There is darker and lighter. You get the picture. Often, because of the nature of some degree of intellection or mental understanding of the Absolute, everything within the Relative becomes artificially 'One'. For instance, (my favorite rant) killing animals to eat them by the billions is considered fine because 'it's all relative', even though the increasing number of people wanting to eat meat in China, India and elsewhere (in imitation of the glorious West) is now causing world food shortages and the deaths of thousands through starvation and war. How you treat people is unimportant, because it's all one. Since we are all one and equal, my opinion or understanding is just as good as yours. (So, we're all equally qualified to be brain surgeons, rock stars, spiritual teachers, or artists, whether we actually have the qualifications or not.)

The Relative is called the Relative for a reason – everything within it is relative to everything else. If you don't care if you go left or right at the next corner, or if that thing hanging from the wire is red or green while you're driving, fine. If you can truly BE on that level, great, but you sure as hell shouldn't be driving a car. But if you experience relativity on one level, you probably identify with many levels of relativity, some of which you are currently not recognizing – things you agree with or disagree with for instance, or people you like or don't like, or philosophies you support or abhor. These are all on the Relative platform, and will be affected by your own filters, experience, habits, hopes, fears, etc. So, exploring the relative, particularly your own beliefs and habits within the relative, is infinitely important as you attempt to traverse your way into the Absolute. Dive deeply into the Absolute, but also inquiry into the Relative. Be the What, but don't ignore the Who and the 'Relative Truths' that exist there as well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The What and the Who of You

"Accept everything about yourself--I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end--no apologies, no regrets." -- Clark Moustakas

Herein lies the power - the ability and willingness to accept absolutely everything about what AND who you are. Not only that, but to accept EVERYTHING unconditionally, that comes down the pike. Our mind (not our true nature) wants to evaluate everything and accept some things and reject others. So while Mr. Moustakas is correct, I would go even further and say, one must accept everything, not only about yourself, but about everyone, everything, unconditionally. How does one do this? By disappearing. At every moment, thousands of things are occurring to which we give no thought and no judgment - cars passing by, little sounds or feelings, an infinitude of sensory inputs large and small that arise at every moment to which we pay little or no heed. But then that one, that particular thing comes along and we find ourselves happy, sad, angry, or whatever. And our reaction to that, or our response to that, is then to evaluate the fact that we evaluated. "I should not be sad or angry or grieving, but I should be happy, blissful, loving, compassionate, etc. Why? Who says so?

The mind says that we should always be happy, that happiness is the great goal to be achieved. Again, who says so? Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about happiness. Happiness is a great 'place', but basing one's happiness ON happiness, well, it's a little impractical. Happiness, like unhappiness, come and go, and as the Gita says, "Happiness and distress, like heat and cold, come and go. One must learn to tolerate BOTH, without being disturbed."  Or as that great 20th century philosopher, Dolly Parton says, "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

Not surprisingly though, is that, as Mr. Moustakas says, it begins with the complete acceptance of YOU - all of you. If it is your intention to transcend your 'You-ness", you cannot do so until you accept your 'You-ness". 

Let me put it this way. I like to break it down into a basic duality. There is a 'who' you are and a 'what' you are.  Most everyone is well versed with who they are: it is the personhood - man, woman, spiritual, material, doctor, lawyer, slacker, cool, loser, stressed, abused, ecstatic... all of the physical, mental, emotional stuff, past and present, that makes up the essential nature of [ insert your name here].  The difficulty, is that the mind likes to evaluate this who-ness. Some is good and some is bad. "I will accept the 'good' parts of who I am, but reject the 'bad' parts of who I am." But in doing so, we reject the Truth - the truth of who we are. We begin to look at these things and realize that the truth isn't pretty. We similarly look around the world, and although our tendency is to similarly see it with rose colored glasses we realized things are pretty fracked up and that the truth there isn't particularly pretty either. This is the beginning of growth.

Now, besides the WHO of us there is the WHAT of us. The What is not the body, nor the mind, nor the emotions, nor the history, nor the beliefs and so on and so on. The What of us is that which precedes all of that. It is the recognition that arises on deep inquiry into what it is that precedes even the sense of "I".  When one abides as "I" (or as Ramana called it - I-I, and Nisargadatta called it "I AM") one begins to recognize or REALize that what one is is unbounded Awareness, perfect silent stillness, the very space within which the 'who' of you and everything else in the universe, incuding the universe itself, arises.

The WHAT we are is aware OF the WHO we are and completely identifies as that who. Part of the who, the mind, evaluates the rest of the who, and the world, and evaluates and judges it. The WHAT we are is aware of all of this, and apparently 'constricts' to identify with that who-ness. I know - pretty damn confusing. However, this can be remedied in part by simply inquiring, "What is it that is aware of this confusion?" 

Traditionally, as with Ramana Maharshi and others, the question has been put, "Who am I?" This is actually a trick question designed to show you that you are NOT who you think, but something prior to that, which in this case, I am referring to as the What you are - unbounded consciousness.  Unless and until you can truly REALize, concretely, tangibly, that What-ness, you will continue to identify as the who. In fact, you will BE that who.

Put another way, in terms of the Yoga Sutras - "Union (yoga) is the elimination of the perceived limitations in consciousness. Then the establishment of the Seer (the What of you) in it's original true nature. Otherwise conformity TO the limitations (the Who of you)."  In other words, we BECOME the who. Like water, which unbounded is, in a sense, formless, when poured into a container, takes on the shape of that container, in a sense, becoming that container. Unbounded awareness, totally identified with the container, becomes that container - the What becomes the Who, forgetting it's real unbounded what nature.

In reality, the what and the who are not different. The waves on the ocean are not separate from the depths of the ocean. It is all ocean. The who is not separate from the what. They are ONE thing. All that arises in consciousness is non-different than the consciousness within which it arises. However, the lop-sided identification with Who, including the mind which evaluates and judges, causes untold amounts of suffering, to oneself and 'others'. Being grounded, however, in the WHAT we are totally diffuses this situation. The WHO is accepted as it is. It doesn't mean that it can't or won't change. But the judgment around it is released. As Carl Jung said, "We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses." So, accept the WHO you are, but more importantly, inquire deeply and repeatedly into and truly recognize the WHAT you are. That is Freedom!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Preparing for Death

One of the great advantages of becoming older is the clarity one gains regarding death. As the body begins to act and react in ways which it never did before, one is forced to look at various aspects of life that were never quite as "in your face".

Death, to most, has an ominous sound to it. It is depicted as the Grim Reaper, the skeletal figure draped in black. People flee from it, consider it an inappropriate conversational topic, skirt around the issue, joke about it, etc. But as one begins to actually lose energy, experience more aches and pains, as well as seeing the loss of a gradually increasing number of friends and relatives, the unquesionable reality of one's own physical demise becomes apparent.

There is a wonderful story in the Indian epic Mahabharata where the King Yudisthira is given 100 questions by Dharma, the Lord of Death. One of the questions is, "What is the most wonderful thing in the world?" to which Yudisthira answers, "That every day, people see others dying around them, and yet they think, 'I will never die'". And that was in a time when people did, in fact, see people die around them. Now we rarely see it. People are born in hospitals and die in hospitals or hospices. Then everything happened in the home. So, people would see others die, and yet there is a sense that I will never die. In truth, you never will. Oh yes, the physical will stop functioning, but that is just the manifestation which you call [insert your name here]. But what is prior to that will never die, as it is 'aja' - unborn! (If you didn't know what Aja meant, now you know.)

Now, it's not exactly like you have to be prepared for death - after all, it will come when it comes, whether you are prepared for it or not. However, if you knew that you had, oh, say, one day before you absolutely were going to die, what would you do? How would you prepare? Would you try to see some great sites, party out, make your own form of 'Bucket List,' or would you take a more contemplative approach?

Anyway, just something to 'contemplate.'

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Freedom At Any Cost!

"The exact contrary of what is generally believed is often the truth." -- Jean de la Bruyère

What are you doing for Freedom - yours or anyone elses? There is NO time for complacency, comfort or ease. My master used to say there are three things that must be extinguished immediately: fire, debt and disease. Our country, our culture, the entire western civilization is diseased. Not only is it diseased, it IS a disease. And like many diseases, it has infiltrated itself so deeply into our psyche, like the worst type of cancer, that no one can distinguish it - like a tumor that is so deeply nestled and entwined within the brain, that to remove it would mean certain death. But in some cases, death is far more appealing than diseased living, or at least it should be.

“It’s interesting to reflect that if all insects were to disappear from the earth, within fifty years all forms of life on earth would perish. We depend on them that thoroughly. But if all human beings were to disappear from the earth within fifty years all other forms of life would flourish.” -- Jonas Salk

Although it is politically and spiritually often incorrect to say so, euthanasia is a kindness. Our culture is more disease than ease. Everything in our culture is topsy turvey. But we have little to compare it with. We don't bother to look truthfully into the past, but only take the histories from those who write them - and history is written by those in power. We don't have the common sense of gerbils, to do what is natural, but rather we do what the media tells us. Just because our society lives a certain way now, or for the last 10 or 20 years, does NOT make it right. Every great turn in culture has taken a revolution of some kind. It is at the very root of revolution - to revolve, to turn, to move away from. You cannot try to keep your place in the river AND flow downstream. It requires letting go of what you are now comfortable with - all of it. What we have now, among other things, is complication, materiality, selfishness. The opposite of that is simplicity, spirituality and community. Every facet of the modern life is polluted by some aspect of complicated choices, materiality or narcissistic ideals of "What can I get for ME?" These MUST be given up if one hopes to achieve liberty, freedom, or peace.

"The cost of Enlightement is EVERYTHING! - Jed McKenna (and many, many others)

"The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson (and echoed in the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, etc.)

So what IS to be done? The biggest revolution is within ourselves. Are we complacent? I am. And I am furious. I am anguished. And people would tell me I am wrong to be so. They would tell me it is not Enlightened to be so. But it is not enlightened to NOT be so.

I don't do 'Love & Light' because Awakening has nothing to do with Love & Light. I don't "do" Compassion, because compassion is a symptom and NOT a cause. You don't create Enlightenment by being compassionate. Compassion is Awakened as you awaken.

I have compassion for everyone. I LOVE everyone, more deeply than most can know, and this IS why I am furious and why I am anguished. Very few even see the pain they are in, or that there is a way out.

It has been said that if you are disillusioned by your spiritual teacher, than you are deeply lucky, for it is our job, not to make you happy, nor to comfort you, nor to strengthen your already too strong sense of comfort in being an individual, but rather to dis-illusion you - to un-illusion you, to take away the illusions that you so desperately hang on to. I don't want to be your friend. I want you to recognize Truth. If what is said through this person offends you, it only offends your mind, your habits, your beliefs, NOT you. In Truth, you are longing to hear the Truth, but your mind will fight it at every step. While it is possible to dip the arrow of Truth in honey, that is not my job. There is far too much honey out there already, and most expect the honey, and can't distinguish what is honey coated truth and what is honey coated manure. The vast majority is honey coated manure. So I will speak the truth and recognize that I run the 'risk' of offending some ego, some mind, some old habits. Tough Shit! The Ashtavakra says"Don't be cripple minded" I say, "Don't be a wienie!" Wienie-ism is running rampant in our society.

With this now deeply rooted, post modern attitude of entitlement, radical narcissism, and instant gratification without effort, I can only echo the words of Frederick Douglass, "Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Many will refute this with the ideology that, "There is nothing wrong!" AND that is ABSOLUTELY true. There is nothing wrong. The illusion is part of the game, and so is the destruction of illusion if you want Truth. That is also not wrong. It is simply the Truth of the matter. There is nothing wrong with pain and suffering. It is perfectly natural as a symptom that things are out of balance and can be corrected. It is not wrong, it is a warning signal. Similarly, illusion and ignorance are not wrong, they are a warning that something is not being seen. Yelling is not wrong, it is simply a voice trying to be heard over all the lies that you are being fed every day by most of those around you. Not that they are intentionally telling lies. They simply don't know better. They have been lied to; their parents were lied to; the society, religions, educational institutions, medical institutions, etc. etc. are all lying and being lied to. The Truth is like the most valuable diamond that could ever be found. But few even know how to distinguish it anymore. That is why you have to let go of EVERYTHING you believe. Drop it ALL. Have the Courage (from 'couer' - heart) to fight ignorance within ourselves and within the 'world'. To do otherwise is the greatest of sins. So, I will leave you with just a few quotes along those lines.

With the deepest of love & compassion,
Aja

............................

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." -- Dante, The Inferno

"The World is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything." -- Albert Einstein

"Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good." -- Gandhi

"Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you." -- Benjamin Franklin

"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." -- Harry Truman

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

"The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about and refuse to investigate." – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Many years ago, I remember hearing from a friend that the only people who are happy are those who are totally in ignorance and those who are totally free. The rest are always trapped in some form of suffering.

While perhaps not totally true, it would certainly appear to be more true than not. The bulk of people, as Thoreau pointed out, live lives of quiet desperation. Today, that quiet desperation is not quite as quiet. Often, I am accosted by those who try to live in bliss by putting on a brave face, but mostly, it is a form of denial. As things fall down around them, they choose to not see what is happening in order to maintain a false sense of happiness. If the truth is pointed out - whatever that truth may be - they choose to ignore it. Now the obvious - "ignore" and "ignorance". It is not coincidental that they share the same roots - the same root of gnosis - to know. The verb to choose to ignore results in willful ignorance. And we all, to some extent or another share this ignorance. It is also, particularly these days, not totally shameful. The state of things is such that it often seems much easier to ignore or stay ignorant of the truth because the truth is, or can be, extremely painful to face.

What I am speaking of can apply equally to spiritual or material truths. For instance, these days you would have to choose to be ignorant of the fact that the government is fully aware of the gradual fascist state they are creating. It is a purposeful and well planned out program, having been started many, many years ago. But the truth and the ramifications of this truth are so twisted and painful, that it is indeed much easier to be blissfully unaware of it. But for those who actually wish to seek the truth, it is out there, easily accessible and incontestable. It is the slow cook method. If you don't know what that is, there is the old story of "How to Cook a Frog". The way to cook a frog is not to throw it into a pot of boiling water because it will immediately jump out. Instead, you put it into nice cool water and gradually turn up the heat. It doesn't even notice until it is too late. So, within the material sphere at least, we are in the cooking pot, and the heat is going up at a faster and faster rate. We are not too far from being cooked alive. If you're not sure about this, please note that only 2 days ago, the Department of Homeland Security released the final regulations to implement the Real ID, which is due to come out 85 days from now. Who knows what will happen with it since numerous states have outright refused to comply.

But, just as material truths are ignored, similarly, it is very easy, in fact the norm, to ignore spiritual truths, in large part because the truth is simply not much fun. It necessitates throwing out everything that you currently hold to be true - in other words, your hopes and concepts of what you WANT to be true do you no good when it comes to the actual truth. Just as may want the US government to be good and protective and kind, the opposite is the reality. Similarly, all the ideas that you hold to keep you feeling safe and comfortable and secure are pretty much all lies, like hiding under your blanket where you will be safe from the bogey men. It sure feels nice, but it is only a childish gesture.

To know the truth, you must investigate the truth. If you want to know who you are, you MUST investigate who you are. Although many people would like you to believe that it's going to fall into your lap, like a ripe mango, and occasionally it does, that is not the norm. You need to at least shake the tree. But not knowing who you are feels so safe. It doesn't rock the boat of our comfort. It takes no courage.

It occurred to me, and wait before you condemn me here, that throughout the ages there were probably many slaves (in any of the many, many cultures that had them) who did not have a problem with being enslaved. After all, in some cultures, they were extremely well taken care of. And of course, some owners were far kinder than others. Now today, we find the whole idea of slavery deplorable. But imagine a situation where you at least had food and shelter and clothes, where you were warm at night, and were part of a family or community. And yet, although you may not currently be outwardly bought and sold, how truly free are you - free from the 'Man', free from societal, cultural, religious, parental, educational expectations. The opposite of being free is being bound. Other than the bought and sold, what is the definition of enslavement? It is to reduce to and hold in a state of servitude - to oppress, to shackle. Okay, it's not necessarily pretty, but do you get the picture?

So, what does it mean to be free? That might differ to many people. But what is absolute is that first you must indeed recognize that you are enslaved, that you are bound, either materially, spiritually or both. You must investigate it. What binds you materially? What binds you mentally? What binds you intellectually? What binds you spiritually?

"Remember, you cannot abandon what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself." - Nisargadatta Maharaj

So to know the truth, any truth, you have to be willing to investigate it. Otherwise, the truth will eternally remain hidden from view.