Tag Archives: enlightenment

Origins of Yoga

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This week’s Friday YouTube video link is about the Origins of Yoga.

(Copyright belongs to the video producer)

This series of four videos are by the author Georg Feuerstein PhD., who has extensively studied and written about Yoga, offers an invaluable insight into the true nature of Yoga as a spiritual discipline.

David R. Durham
Spiritual Healing & Counselling Website
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Spiritual Paradox

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A paradox can be defined as any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.

Meditation and many other spiritual practices, and hence their teachings, are highly paradoxical in nature

  • We learn the skills of meditation and diligently practice, so we can ultimately let go of it all.
  • Often we’re trying to discover or attain some other state of being, that we’re are already in.
  • Whatever we do think we have attained or realised along the way, becomes something else that have to let go of.
  • We think meditation is all in our mind, when it turns out to be primarily down to our heart.
  • We yearn for healing enlightenment, yet our liberation lies in compassionately embracing our darkness.
  • And in the end, the only time you can practice pure meditation, is when you know you no longer need it anymore.
  • We search for our dearest love in the rarest of experiences, only to find our true love was right here all along under our noses, here in the most ordinary of things.

Does this all mean that meditation and spiritual practices are a waste of time? Hardly. For it is only by going through these transformational processes, that we arrive at the simplicity of our natural awakened self.

© David R. Durham
Spiritual Healing & Counselling Website
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In The Bleak Mid-Winter

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In the wacky world of NLP (Neuro Linguine Programming), there are the concepts of mental filters and mental maps.

What these concepts suggest, is that during our development as functioning humans, from the earliest of times, we are gradually building up mental maps of our world and how to operate in it, and these maps use mental filters to manage the billions of pieces of sensory information our bodies receive each second.

They are perfectly natural and completely necessary, as without effective filters and maps we could not function in this world at all. They define our experience and views on our world, and they are heavily influenced by culture, place and time.

What we don’t always realise is that we do not, and perhaps never can, fully objectively experience the world we live in. We can only experience what our mental maps and mental filters allow us to.

This is one of the core reasons behind our personal and group conflicts – we just don’t get each other’s maps of the world. And why, when the world we experience matches our maps we are happy, and why a mis-match equates to unhappiness.

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What Is Awakening?
Could it be perhaps, that spiritual awakening is basically a process of de-programming our personal mental maps and filters?

Often however, religious and spiritual teachings do little more that swap one set of maps for another. They help us to build a new nest made up of comforting wise words, reassuring ancient ritual, acceptable social behavior and pleasing concepts. Like beavers preparing for a long cold winter, we hope we have stored enough food to last through to the spring time, that the repairs to our dam will hold, and that the mud of our home is thick enough to keep out the marauding wolves.

And what is it that we fear so much when our mental maps and filters are challenged or proven to be incorrect or inadequate? The embarrassment of being proven wrong, the inconsolable rage of ego loss, perhaps the terror of insanity or the cold chill of death so final?

Who dies anyway? Who’s rage is so inconsolable? Who shivers at the prospect of insanity?

And who am I in all of this? Have I mis-identified myself with the results of my mental maps and filters? And can I awaken from this personally modulated experience of the world which I believe is reality, and understand that I am the creator and user of mental maps and mental filters; the creator of my personal world experience.

© David R. Durham
Spirit Healer Web Link

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Illusion Of Separation

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The illusion of our separation from our source creates a number of challenges and opportunities.

Challenges
The challenges primarily come from a run-away ego-structure which is overtly focused on personal self-interest and gratification, protecting its’ immediate bloodline and in defending and furthering the aims of its’ tribe. Various social norms seek to address this issue, norms often derived from a mixture of historical experience, cultural heritage, legal traditions and religion’s moral systems.

Other side effects of this can include a false sense of isolation or a “what’s the purpose of it all” kind of a feeling at times.

Opportunities
On the other side of the coin, when the limited personal ego-structure is examined and seen through for what it is, an energy structure used by life to come into human form, then different scenarios come into play.

Move in to the realm of the mystics and sages, and this phenomena is often traditionally dealt with by seeking to revert to a spiritual source, sometimes termed a “union with God”. To ‘return’ metaphorically speaking (as there can be no literal return as there never was any separation), to a base-state of consciousness, a kind of spiritual garden of Eden or mythical Shambhala.

An additional option, is rather than simply condemn the ego-structure, understand it as an intended temporary phenomena in the evolution of consciousness. And from there, explore what is to be done next, if anything, to further this expansion and enrichment of consciousness through the human experience.

The balance point of consciousness, or center of poise, in this exploration is a ‘just sitting’ style of meditation1 ; where for here, for now, there is a total acceptance of all that is arising in the current moment as being entirely appropriate and complete. Which includes accepting the personal ego-structure itself.

Whilst in this balance point, it is conscious awareness itself which then determines the next development in its’ evolution and growth.

© David R. Durham

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Spirit Healer Web Link

Note:
1This meditation style is only a meditation, it is not a prescription on how to engage with daily life.

Meditation Tip No. 5

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Meditation Tips No. 5: Instant Enlightenment

Good teachers are incredibly useful to us, especially when starting out with our meditation. Thereafter, they become guides who help to keep you on track, and help to point out options we may not have thought of on our own.

The ‘gurus’ to avoid are the instant or guaranteed enlightenment characters. In our age of instant food, love, entertainment, communication etc., we have become conditioned to expect and even to demand, instant service and gratification. So why not ‘instant enlightenment’?

There are at least 3 serious flaws with this type of thinking:

1. Demanding Ego
Instant enlightenment smacks of the ego’s endless ‘I want’ dramatisation, which the marketing boys and girls are only to happy to gratify, but which isn’t going to be given the time of day by a genuine meditation guide.

Through meditation, we are looking to broaden, deepen and develop our ego, so it becomes strong enough and mature enough, to be transcended.

2. Maturation Process
Enlightenment is more of an expression of being, rather than an event. Sure, we can have awakenings, big and small, but these events themselves are left behind sooner or later, as the stream of consciousness which we are expressions of, moves on and evolves more.

3. Already Enlightened
The fundamental flaw in any approach to meditation and the spiritual life where a ‘guru’ or a teaching promises some future enlightenment, is that we are already enlightened beings. So all striving, all searching and all effort towards enlightenment are in plain denial of the truth of our being.

As one of the great Zen teachers, Shunryu Suzuki, kindly pointed out: “Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.”

© David R. Durham

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Return Of The King

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There is a lot of mis-information in so-called spiritual and religious circles concerning our ego-mind. This is probably partly due to the simple mis-translation of ancient languages into modern ones, as well as the fact that just because a teaching is ancient, doesn’t make it correct.

Historical Context
When we look at the sources of many modern day religious and spiritual practices, almost all of them were borne during times of social change, traumatic wars, migrating tribes and a long period of transition from a nomadic to a settled way of life.1

The development of these diverse spiritual and religious practices were an attempt to understand ourselves and the changing world around us. How much of this was simply wishful thinking, or projecting onto nature man’s own confusion, we will never fully know.

However, dogma passed on from generation to generation, is still dogma.

Ego-Mind Development
The development and maturation of the human ego-mind is a remarkable process, and it is a fertile area for study in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy.

In very simplistic terms, the main stages are:

  1. Pre-Natal
  2. Baby
  3. Young Child
  4. Adolescent
  5. Young Adult
  6. Mature Adult
  7. Elderly Person
  8. Dying Process

In stages 1 to 4, the ego-mind is very much in the grow and building phase, stages 5 and 6 lead to a maturation, which includes a critical understanding of the ego-mind’s boundaries and limitations, and assuming we get there, the wisdom of age in stage 7.

It is still a complex process which is not fully understood, as we all develop in the context of our cultural environment, so psychologists can never ‘scientifically’ study a person developing in a laboratory environment free from social influence.

Transcendence of the Ego-Mind
One of the key features of mystic traditions, in the Hindu, Christian, Sufi and other traditions is that of awakening, or enlightenment. Indeed the tales of yogis and their transcendental bliss states can be a powerful trigger for an interest in their yoga practices.

So, what is this, and why has it led to an unprecedented attack on the ego-mind?

I think an analogy may help here to get a deeper understanding, in modern terms, of what this is like, and what it is not.

If you imagine for a moment that you’re sitting comfortably in a spacecraft, ready to take off from planet Earth to explore the surrounding Universe. During the spacecraft’s launch, you experience the thrill of the lift-off – all that energy rippling through your body. And a visceral sense of excitement of such a unique journey.

As you leave the Earth’s atmosphere, you marvel at the beauty of the Earth: Its swirling clouds, blue oceans and recognisable land masses.

Then, as your journey progresses, you see the Earth in context to the surrounding black space and dots of star-light, and you sense at one and the same time, its aloneness and that is a part of a greater whole.

Your journey continues, the Earth is now a tiny spec in the vast ocean of a galaxy of stars. It starts to become a memory, and as your turn your full attention to the surrounding vista of galaxies, the unending and awe-inspiring vastness of it all finally begins to sink into you.

If we use the Earth as a metaphor for our ego-mind, some points to draw from this analogy are:

  • The ego-mind is not destroyed and it is not evil
  • We experience the ego-mind in context to the whole of consciousness (i.e. the Universe)
  • There is still a ‘sense of self’ and a personal awareness within this awesome vastness
  • Nothing has actually changed, only our awareness and understanding of ourselves, life and our place in it

Rather like the Earth’s gravitational pull has to be managed for the spacecraft to make this trip into the wider Universe, the ego-mind has to be managed in our quest for enlightenment. It is here that the ego-mind gets a bad reputation, and it can be mistakenly seen as something to be destroyed or conquered. However, the above analogy is a very good way of seeing why this is a very bad idea. Just as the Earth needs a gravitational field to exist, we need a healthy ego-mind to stay sane and to function successfully in this world.

They key lies in understanding the incredibly subtle process of managing our ego-mind. And I would suggest that the more mature and balanced a person’s ego-mind, the less difficult this process is.

A Myth That Comes To Life
Many cultures have mythical tales about regal kings or famous prophets, who, it is hoped, will return one day to save their put-upon peoples in times of duress. This person (usually a man for some bizarre reason), it is hoped, has the wisdom and compassion to rule justly, with vision and intelligence.

In some ways, the transcendence of our ego-mind can be likened to a puppet Prince being replaced by the return of the King – our true spiritual nature. What we have conveniently forgotten, is that it is us who created and put in place the puppet Prince to run the show, and when the King does finally return, the Prince is still around and is as relieved as anybody else.

Sources:
1. The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong, 2006, Atlantic Books (UK) / Random House Inc. (USA).

© David R. Durham

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Spirituality

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For those of you who are new to spirituality and the diverse world of spiritual ideas and methods, I thought I’d give you a couple of examples in music (a very common language of experience), so that you can get the hang of what to look out for.

1. Faux-Spirituality:

2. The Real Deal:

With thanks to the boys (& girls) at YouTube, without whom acres of words would have been required, and of course to the artists concerned.

© David R. Durham

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