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Wisdom, Bliss and Common Sense

Darshani Deane
 
Shirley Deane
 

In “Wisdom, Bliss and Common Sense” (Quest, Illinois, 1989), Shirley Deane (writing as Darshani Deane) accomplishes what many writers only hope for: she bridges the mind-expanse that separates the secular from the spiritual. Drawing on her experiences in directing workshops and seminars, Deane uses personal vignettes to demonstrate simple secrets of self-transformation in the weekly excerpts below. Wisdom gained from learning at the feet of sages, masters and mystics across India, Nepal, Burma, Europe and South Africa provides an insightful basis for the practical advice she dispenses. Ms. Deane now lives in Winston-Salem and is a leader in Interfaith Winston-Salem.

Self-Realization: How Long Does It Take?

posted Dec 16, 2012, 6:01 PM by Interfaith WS

                Twenty-three-year-old Sandy wanted enlightenment, and she wanted it fast. For the past two years while working in a printing press, she spent all of her spare time and thought on Tibetan Buddhist practices. Nothing else interested her.

                “I want to know how long enlightenment takes,” she said. “I asked several people, and I got different answers from all of them”

 

Darshani:  Eastern scriptures say that it takes as long to become enlightened as it does to blink an eye or to see a fruit in the palm of one’s hand. Enlightenment actually means “waking up,” which takes an instant. But you probably are asking how long the preparation takes. Three primary factors determine that. The first one is clarity of goal and method. It is like going on a journey. You have to know exactly where you are headed and how you are going to get there. A second factor is the starting point. Suppose both of us want to go to Rome. You start out from Milan; I start from Miami. Almost certainly, you will reach Rome fast.

                The third factor is intensity of yearning. Let’s say that both of us start taking piano lessons. I just want to learn to play, so I practice 20 minutes a day. But you want to perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in Carnegie Hall next year. On some days, when my friends ask me to go mountain climbing or bowling, I don’t practice at all. On the other hand, you practice five hours every day. You never miss. You refuse social invitations and dates that take you away from the piano. Even on your morning walks, you memorize phrases of the concerto. The goal never leaves you. With such intensity of yearning, your period of preparation will be short.

 

Sandy: That is what I wanted to hear. You see, I haven’t got much time. I’m scared that my karma might start coming down on my head before I’m ready, before I get enlightenment.

                Sandy burst into tears and cried for several minutes.  She told us that when she turned eighteen she got a job tending a bar. During her three years as a bartender, she became addicted to cocaine and heroin and peddled them for awhile. One Sunday afternoon, her boyfriend brought her to a university auditorium to hear a visiting Tibetan Buddhist monk from Nepal.

                “The moment he started talking, something happened to me,” she said. “I got scared. He was talking about karma. Nobody had to tell me he was right. I knew it. He talked about how you can’t change what you’ve done. You’ve got to pay for it, every bit of it, the way you have to pay your debts. He also said that we have an obligation to free ourselves from the prison of body and mind.

                “I sat there thinking of the terrible things I did. I got scared as hell. I was still into drugs then, and some of the stuff I was doing was base. My God, I thought, what will happen to me?

                “When the talk was over, I rushed down to talk to him. Instead of asking him anything, I burst into tears. Somebody ushered me into a room behind the stage while the monk talked with people there. When he finished he came back to me. No words came out of me. In his presence, I felt like I was Home. I was still scared. But I knew that he had or that he was something I could hold onto. I told him just a little, that I did terrible things. But I gave him no details.

                “He gave me explicit instructions for spiritual practices and said I must start that very night. He also gave me a mantra to repeat. When I got home, I turned over a new leaf. Since then, I’ve been out of the drug scene. I got a job with a printing press, and I don’t hang out with the drug crowd any more. I sleep from 10:00 to 4:00 as he told me to do. I don’t eat at night, and I don’t eat flesh food. My meditation and other practices are regular. I wish I could see him or write, but I don’t know where he is. All I want to tell him is that I’m still scared, just like I was from day one.”

 

D.  Ordinary fears are harmful. Your fear is not ordinary. Mystical traditions call the fear of God or of God’s Law “the first great gift.” In the Philokalia, we read that those who quail with such fear are inexpressibly contrite in soul: “For the Lord has established this as the basic commandment knowing that without this even heaven is profitless,” and, “No one can love God (or the highest state of Consciousness, the goal of your practices) unless he has first feared with all his heart. Through the action of fear, the soul is purified and…awakens to the action of love.”

                Your fear functions as an extraordinary fillip to your practices. That fear motivates you. It is driving you forward to levels of spirituality you could never reach without it.

                Please read the story of Milarepa, a Tibetan Buddhist who had practiced black magic before he met his guru. Like you, he became terrified by what he had done. Overwhelming fear of the results of his actions drove him into perfect discipleship, and finally to enlightenment.

                Once you become established in your practices, the fear will leave you. In other words, your fear will remain with you only as long as you need it.

                Rome may not be far off.

Self-Realization: You Can’t Be Half-Realized

posted Dec 9, 2012, 2:59 PM by Interfaith WS

              By day, Jason worked as a commercial artist. At night, in the loft above his private studio, he sat for long periods of time in Vedantic meditation with the mantra, So Ham (That I Am). Systematically, he had studied Vedantic scriptures, such as the Atma Bodha (Self-Knowledge) and the principal  Upanishads. Jason came to the workshop seeking clarity on the state of Realization.

                “Sometimes I understand the subtlest truths with great clarity,” he told us. “But at the same time, I know I haven’t gone all the way. Could I possibly have reached a state of being half-realized?”

 

Darshani: Water begins to boil only at a specific point, not before. Realization is similar. The sages say that it is like waking up from sleep. Waking has no half-measures. Nobody needs to confirm to us the fact that we have awakened. Experience alone confirms it. Sri Swami Krishnananda says that when the knower has awakened, he no longer sees objects as objects. In his awakened state, the entire universe of objects dissolves into a totality of Subjectness. The late Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, had the same experience in a Kentucky town near his monastery. Everything he looked at – a person, a pillar, a dog – everything – he saw as God.

                No matter how deep our intellectual understanding, until we perceive oneness within and without, we are like water on the stove that has not begun to boil.

Seekers’ Guidelines: Everything Is Food

posted Dec 2, 2012, 2:26 PM by Interfaith WS

            For five years after turning twenty-three, Stanley lived in an ashram in upstate New York. A confict with the swami-in-charge ended in his departure and a loss of faith. Now he sought to make sense of it all.

            “There are so many do’s and don’ts,” Stanley said. “Don’t watch TV. Don’t read novels. Don’t wear polyester. Don’t hang out with worldly people. What an unnecessary regulation of our lives! Is it not enough to get up early, meditate, and stick to a vegetarian diet?”

            Darshani: Everything is food, not merely what you chew in your mouth and digest in your stomach. In P.D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous, Gurdjieff explains that air and impressions are also food. Sounds that enter our ears, sights we see, objects we smell, taste and touch, objects that touch us, and thoughts that enter our minds from forces near and far – all are food. These foods consist of force fields that impinge upon and alter the force fields that flow through and around us.

            From your studies with the swami, you probably learned that we have three bodies: physical, subtle, and causal. Every food force that we take in also has three bodies. Its grossest dimension feeds our gross body; its subtle dimension feeds our subtle body; its causal dimension feeds our causal body. Whether we are conscious of it or not, at every moment in our lives, the forces we imbibe are feeding all the planes of our existence.

            An orthodox rabbi once told me something interesting that relates to this idea. He said that written in a Hebrew scripture is this dictum: “when you go to see a holy man, do not wear a garment of mixed fibers.” The rabbi did not know the reason for this injunction. Sages in the East would say that in the presence of a master, one should make oneself as receptive as possible to the master’s fields of force. For example, one’s body should be still, one’s mind silent. One should eat nothing and wear nothing that would adversely affect the reception of those finer forces.

            Spiritual seekers try to attune themselves to the highest possible vibrations, to subtle and powerful forces. So the most important aspect of spiritual work is purification: preparing both body and mind to receive higher forms of energy.           

            Do’s and don’ts help weed out harmful foods in myriads of forms. To the extent that we consciously control our intake, to that extent we progress. If we do not take such measures, we may move one step forward in an hour’s meditation, and six steps backwards for the next twenty-three hours. It would be like pouring water into a bucket with a big hole in the bottom.

Renunciation: Denial or Transformation?

posted Nov 25, 2012, 4:20 PM by Interfaith WS

           Doctors predicted that Sydney’s congenital and “incurable” circulatory disease would shorten his life span to eighteen years. A chance meeting with a yoga teacher when he was fifteen saved him. Now twenty-nine, Sydney lives normally, writes scripts for television shows, and does two hours of yoga and meditation every day. Recently, his spiritual teacher told him that only through renunciation is progress possible.

            Darshani: Renunciation of what?

            S. That’s what troubles me. I guess she meant renunciation of everything I like. I’m still young. My girlfriend and I plan to marry, get a home, and start a family. I love my work. It looks as if I have a good career ahead of me. How can I give these things up? Yet I want to make spiritual progress. Can I somehow reconcile these conflicting desires? Or is reconciliation impossible?

            D. Growing up with no brothers or sisters to play games with, I spent many hours with dolls. Dolls from all over the world adorned my room. For hours every day my imagination had free play as I projected whole universes onto my dolls.

            Years passed, and I got interested in other things – arithmetic, geography, and music. One day, in the corner of my closet, I saw a box I hadn’t noticed for a long time. I opened it and was surprised; there must have been a hundred dolls in it. That day I gave all of them to the younger kids on our street. I had never told myself or my parents that thenceforth I would renounce dolls. When other things engaged my attention, my interest in dolls dropped like an overripe fruit.

            Spiritual life is like that. As we ripen, whatever is unnecessary drops away by itself. Until that happens, why should we knock all the apples off the tree? We should deal with them as best we can but try not to accrue any more.

            S.  But how do I make progress without renouncing?

            D. No one can, but what matters is the object of renunciation. To make certain and speedy progress, we need to renounce our sense of do-ership. I will share with you two approaches to this practice of renunciation.

            The first and easier way is Karma Yoga. Most people live their lives and carry on their work motivated by a desire for money, success, name, fame, power, pleasure, or the need for self-expression. In Karma Yoga these motives are replaced by the desire to consecrate one’s entire life to God, to want nothing for oneself.

            Rabbi Zalman Schachter describes the initial steps in his book, The First Step. This process hinges on the Hebrew word Kavvanah, meaning “intention.” “Our intention is always free. For instance, you sit in the dentist’s chair. He drills and you feel a sting of pain, but you can ‘intend’ this pain as an offering of love….’Ribbono Shel Olam! You are good and Your universe is good. The all is filled with Your mercy and goodness, as is the pain I feel….Please accept this moment of pain as a love offering from me.’ Or you travel…lean back…and say, “Sweet Father, I enjoy Your presence…the rhythm of the wheels, the fleeting scenery, all are nothing but You.’ “All these arrows of awareness,” the Rabbi writes, “will place us in the presence of God.”

            The second approach is the way of Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge. On this path, you witness rather than identify with the drama taking place. Players include Sydney, your fiancée, and colleagues. Props are offices, home, classes, and plans. You are reading the script a line at a time. On this path, you renounce your sense of do-ership by perceiving, through meditation, that Sydney is not writing his script or planning his plot. You renounce the sense that Sydney is an individual agent of action, a separate ego bound by a bag of skin.

            S. How can I experience that I am not the agency of action?

            D. Through   meditation and self-enquiry. In your spare moments throughout the day, ask yourself, “On what screen is this personal drama being projected? Who is perceiving it? To whom or to what is it happening?”

            S. What does that reflection do?

            D. Two things. First, it allows the drama to flow freely, unimpeded by Sydney’s superimposed ambition, fear, and anxiety, all of which plant seeds for a relentless procession of dramas. Second, it lifts you beyond the level of drama-identification. The greater your constancy of focus on your identity as pure unattached Awareness behind the show, the speedier your progress will be.

            Spiritual progress means narrowing the gulf between who we think we are and who  we really are. Try with all your might to dispel the belief that you are the limited player-form called Sydney. Books such as I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta and the works of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Swami Sivananda will help you to grasp the fact that you are not a limited form: you are the formless, silent, supreme and infinite backdrop on which all the dramas of life take place.

            S. I always thought that renunciation meant dumping your attachments and trekking off to a monastery.

            D. In the past, that is what it meant. Today’s seekers cannot dump their families and take off for solitude. We have to bring the monastery into our hearts. Renunciation of the world was the key to spiritual progress. Today, the key is transformation.

Relationships: Three Spiritual Guidelines

posted Nov 18, 2012, 5:35 PM by Interfaith WS

            Divorced three times and planning to marry again, Mame sought guidelines at my workshop on “Human Relationships and the Spiritual Way.” “When I am on my own,” she said, “life runs smoothly. As soon as I get close to someone, problems start – disappointment, disillusionment. It happens like clockwork.”

            Darshani: Why?

            M. People don’t measure up to my expectations. My last husband, for example, would forget everything that was important to me – evenings that we planned together, simple groceries, even my birthday. That was ample proof that I didn’t matter to him.

            D. Many years ago I knew a man who never forgot my birthday or the anniversary of our meeting or anything I asked him.

M. That’s the sign of sincerity that I want.

            D. That’s only the sign of a good memory. He remembered not only my birthday; he also remembered the birthdays of three other women he dated at the same time. I share this with you to show you that our expectations of others have no basis in reality.

            The first spiritual guideline to healthy relationships is to neutralize all expectations. Grasp the fact that each of us acts according to an inner blueprint. Just as you cannot act, feel, or think as others would like you to, you cannot design their behavior. As the Bhagavad Gita puts it, we are entitled to the action but not to the fruit.

            M. I don’t understand.

            D. Let’s say you cook a five-course meal. You do the best you can, and you do it with love. Your husband comes home, doesn’t say thank you, and doesn’t even feel like eating. How would you react?

            M. I would get upset and state to think, “What’s wrong. Did he take another woman out to dinner? The least he could do is acknowledge my efforts!”

            D. If you were living according to spiritual laws, your reaction would differ. You would accept his response without reading anything into it or viewing it as a judgment of your worth.

            M. But how can I deal with my thoughts?

            D. Bring God into your life. That is the second spiritual guideline. Cultivate the inner attitude, “Let happen what will. I need no pat on the back. I expect nothing. All I do is for the Divine alone. Whether others hate it, love it, or ignore it is not my business. It is theirs.”

            M. But my thoughts overwhelm me.

            D. Why should you let them? Watch them as an observer. When you hear your mind say, “Why doesn’t he act like I want him to?” refuse to identify with that. Say to your mind, “There you go again. This time I’m not buying your old tape.” Eventually, your unruly thoughts will lose their hold on you. Our problems come from our minds, not from other people. When we learn how to stand back and watch the mind’s antics, our relationships improve dramatically.

            The third spiritual guideline is to root your relationships in the Divine. Picture two couples walking along a road. The first couple, A and B, keep looking at one another for their happiness. When B lets A down, A gets angry. The second couple, C and D, walk hand in hand, but their eyes are not on one another. They are fixed on their common goal ahead – God-realization. Whatever happens – changes of mood in C or D, surprises, illness, disturbances, failures, irritations – their equanimity and peace remain intact. C and D have their roots in God, they walk towards God, and they support one another spiritually and morally in their common quest.

            Kahlil Gibran put this idea beautifully. I suggest you meditate on his words:

Love one another but make not a bond of love

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls….

Give your hearts but not into each other’s keeping

For only the Hand of Life can contain your hearts

And stand together yet not too near together

For the pillars of the temple stand apart

And the oak tree and cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

 

Prayer for Change

posted Nov 11, 2012, 5:56 PM by Interfaith WS

            Widowed Dorothy, who meditated and prayed regularly, had worked in a government office for eighteen years. Recently, she was transferred to a department where the staff was half her age. Many of them were irresponsible, she said. They argued constantly and left incomplete tasks on her desk.

            Three times a day, she prayed for change, but the change had not come. “I can’t understand why my prayers go unheeded,” she told us. “I’m desperate! My circumstances are all wrong – the people, the work, the place. Yet I can’t find another job. Somebody told me that prayer would not help, but occult practices would. That’s what I’d like to ask you about.”

            Darshani: Occult practices can bring you into contact with powers that may have more of an adverse effect on your life than your current circumstances. Prayer can help if you understand its dynamics.

            Recognize, first of all, that your placement in those circumstances is neither wrong nor accidental. Everything has a purpose: people we meet, places we’re put, events that occur in our lives. To get beyond any unpleasant situation, we have to go through it. The trick is to pass through it in a state of inner surrender without a battle. The key to that is to meet each circumstance as though it were specially designed for you – because it was. Our delightful and rotten circumstances are schools designed to teach us specific lessons. They may not be easy but altering our angle of vision this way can help.

            An effective way to invite a change of circumstances is a prayer of surrender like this: “Lord, if it be your will, remove me to a place where I can function harmoniously.” After the prayer, meditate in silence on peace and love, and drop all thought of your problems. Letting go creates a vacuum in which a change can take place. The problem with praying from a negative inner state is that it impedes the flow of grace.

            You can close your meditation with this prayer: “Lord, if this change is not in your will, if this rain is going to keep pouring down on me, then I won’t ask you for the sun. Just give me the best raincoat that you’ve got.”

Prayer: Heartless Words or a Wordless Heart

posted Nov 5, 2012, 9:54 AM by Interfaith WS

            Widowed Elizabeth, who worked as a secretary for a motor vehicle bureau, told us that praying did nothing for her life. “For twenty-five years I’ve gone to church,” she said. “When I walk out of church I’m the same person as when I walked in. My prayers and motions are mechanical and dry. How can I change this?”

            Darshani: Pray with your heart.

            E. I don’t know how.

            D. Have you ever been in love? While you were in love, your mind did not have to be taught how to meditate on your beloved. Your heart knew. Your heart functioned in high gear with no instruction. Real prayer is like that. You don’t dictate to your heart. The heart calls the shots itself.

            Here is the way to start. First, you need a very clear concept of your ideal. To get that, write down everything you know, feel, or believe to be true about God. Your list will come from your own understanding, from your highest concept of Reality. It might include such words as omnipotence, omnipresence, love, all-pervading Light, infinity, compassion, mercy, purity and peace. You might wish to narrow your list down to six primary words or even three.

            When you finish the list, set up a meditation seat in a quiet corner of your home where you can sit undisturbed when you get up and before you go to bed. Relax your body, and look at your list. Mentally repeat one word at a time. Project it onto the screen of your consciousness the way you would project a film onto a movie screen. As you repeat the word, dwell on your deepest understanding of its essence. On their own accord, the repetitions will soon cease, and you will be established in your wordless center, your heart.

            To pray with the heart and no words is much better to pray with words and no heart.

Past: Reality Lies Only in the Now

posted Oct 28, 2012, 1:58 PM by Interfaith WS

             Twenty-three-year-old Neville came to my workshop on “Human Relationships and Spiritual Healing.” He worked in a health food store in a small artists’ colony town. Twice a week, he met with a group of friends to discuss Edgar Cayce’s teachings. About two years before he attended the workshop, he lost his parents in a crash of their private plane. Months later, he discovered that Al, his twin brother, had lied to their parents about him and had manipulated them into leaving Neville out of their will. Al inherited their entire estate.

            “When that fact came to light, I wanted to kill him,” Neville said. “If it hadn’t been for my Cayce friends, I would have done it. My hatred has abated somewhat, but it’s still there. Al has a home, a Cadillac, and a beautiful woman. And I’m knocking my brains out to pay my rent.

            “My Cayce friends said that I must have done something terrible to him to merit what he did to me. That thought helped me a lot. If you deserve something, then it’s easier to accept it. Some weeks ago, I saw an ad for past life regressions. It costs a fortune, but perhaps it’s worth it. I’ve got to know what I did to Al to bring this on. My question is: How far back can these past life regressions take me?”

            Darshani: They can take you to the deepest recesses of their imagination and your bank account. Some of them charge hefty fees and do not even believe in reincarnation.

            But suppose you go to one. Let’s say that he or she tells you about the terrible thing you did to the entity who has become your brother. That might devastate you. In Many Mansions, author Dr. Gina Cerminara relates a reading of Cayce’s on a man who had been Nero. Cayce did not tell the man about his past because he knew he could not cope with it. You, too, might be unable to cope with what you hear. Soon you would wonder what Al could have done to you to cause you to commit such an act. On and on it would go. No beginning, no end.

            Another problem with such a past-life focus is confusion. Your brother may have been your father or your son. When we experience a different past relationship with someone in our current scenario, life becomes confusing. How should you relate to this woman in your bed who once bore you in her womb?

            N. Would you say that Cayce’s work is useless?

            D. On the contrary. Edgar Cayce was a phenomenon. Through his extraordinary powers of clairvoyance, he prescribed, diagnosed, and cured people throughout the world of physical and mental ailments that defied conventional medicine. Cayce never read past lives to appease idle curiosity or to get rich. He did it only to alleviate suffering. But we must face this face: the Edgar Cayces of our world are very, very few and very far apart!

            N. Then how shall I deal with this anger in me?

            D. Take Cayce’s teachings to a deeper level in yourself. Talking about them is one thing, but unless we meditate on them, they will not transform us. Reflect on the fact that Al is reading from a script that he did not write. The script is based on the law. Behind the law stands the Director. By leaning on the Director’s arm, Cayce says, our consciousness changes, for he is Truth and Light. We find the Director’s arm by learning to surrender to all that happens to us, by knowing that whatever occurs does so for our ultimate good. As for the law, we must accept the fact that it is just. We should not fight it, but trust that every payment asked of us is the right price for a debt we incurred.

            Life passes quickly. Enslaved by desire and fear, we dwell on the past and dream of the future, and we miss the whole point. The point is the present. That is all we have and that is all we are. Past is memory. Future is imagination. Reality lies only in the now.

Money: A Spiritual Perspective

posted Oct 21, 2012, 5:23 AM by Interfaith WS

            Having recently left a Trappist monastery where he lived for three years, Victor was trying to adjust to secular life. “I can’t find a job,” he said, “not because I’m not capable. It’s that my vow of poverty hangs over my head. Looking down on wealth and worldly success got ingrained in me. I don’t know how to get it out.”

            Darshani: Many ex-monastics share your problem. Nor does one have to be a monastic to get this message. In the Bible it is written that it is harder for a rich man to get to God than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. And who hasn’t heard that money is the root of all evil.

            I would like to share with you two meditation practices that might help you. Do you still meditate?

            V. Sure. I would never drop that.

            D. While you were in the monastery, what method did you use to root out attachments?

            V. I offered them to God. Then I meditated on their uselessness or their harmful effects.

            D. Clinging to poverty on a conscious or subconscious level is also an attachment. Many of us get attached to a life-style of poverty just as much as others get attached to wealth. To root out this attachment, meditate on the fact that the Lord has taken you out of the monastery and placed you in the world. Offer to him your attachment to poverty. Then meditate on the counterproductive effects of poverty in your new role.

            This Eastern tale might clarify the point. King Janaka possessed great stores of wealth and rule a huge kingdom, despite the fact that he was a realized soul. One day a wandering monk knocked on his door and asked the king to take a walk with him. King Janaka agreed. The king carried nothing. The monk carried his water bowl, the traditional symbol of a life of poverty. After they walked a short distance, the monk turned to the king. “If you want to realize God,” he said, “you must renounce your gold, palace, dancing girls, court musicians, and your entire kingdom.”        

            “Fine,” said King Janaka. “I’ll do it.”

            The monk looked surprised. “When?” he asked.

            “Right now,” said the king.

            The monk was stunned. In silence they walked on. Suddenly a cheeky youngster ran out of the forest, grabbed the monk’s water bowl, and ran away. The monk threw up his arms and shouted obscenities that the king had never heard before. King Janaka burst out laughing. “You have only a water bowl,” he said. “Yet you are more attached to your life-style and your bowl than I am to my entire kingdom.”

            In themselves, poverty and wealth are neither evil nor good. Our minds imbue them with qualities that do not inhere in them. Like a spider getting caught in the web it spins, we get locked in the prisons that our minds create. To escape, you have to erase the old tapes that your mind still plays, and update them to accord with your current reality.

            Sri Aurobindo’s view of money makes a good replacement tape. He says that money is a symbol of universal force: “When spiritual people renounce wealth, they leave the power in the hands of hostile forces. To reconquer it for the Divine to whom it belongs and use it divinely for the divine purpose is the way of this yoga.” He advises us neither to shrink from the power of money nor to become its slave. We are to regard ourselves as trustees of money, to use it selflessly and scrupulously, to offer it to the Divine Mother for her purposes and not for our own or for those of others.

            Deep meditation on these new values should root out your attachment to poverty by freeing you from an ascetic withdrawal. It should also free you from getting bound by a sense of want if poverty continues, and by the desire for more if wealth comes along.

            V. How long should the transformation take?

            D. That depends on the degree and intensity of your commitment to change.

            V. Why should change be so hard?

            D. We are all on stage reading a script. Most of us identify intimately with the role we are given. That makes it hard to play the next role, especially when the script is very different. Shakespeare spilled the beans when he said that all the world is a stage. The bean he did not spill is that God alone is the actor.

Meditation: What’s Really Going On

posted Oct 14, 2012, 4:10 PM by Interfaith WS

            Richard’s interests embraced the corporate world and the world of inner adventure. He was only eight years old when he learned about the I-Ching, Tarot cards, and Indian sweat lodges. His father taught yoga postures to him and his brothers; his mother urged him to develop his latent occult powers. When he was twenty-eight years old, he got a job with an American corporate giant researching New Age transformational technologies. The idea was to improve productivity by cutting through impedances that blocked it, not from the conventional approach of outside-in but through unorthodox methods of inside-out.

            “So far,” Richard told us, “meditation seems to have a more profound effect on people than anything else; it brings about an instant change. I’ve seen tense executives smile, relax, and let go, even after one sitting. I’d like to understand why this happens. I know, for example, that meditation brings blood pressure down dramatically, but I don’t know how it does. What is really going on when a person meditates?”

            Darshani: If you want an explanation that the corporate world can relate to with ease, you can say that deep meditation brings about a synchronicity of right and left brain hemispheres. Experiencing synchronicity is experiencing oneness, a state of nonduality in which nothing is desired outside of oneself. You become complete, whole; a perfect integration and balance of male and female energies.

            Another way to explain meditation is in terms of brain waves. Let’s say you are sitting in your office. You don’t know what to do first. Work is piled on your desk. The telephone is ringing. You are expected at a board room conference in ten minutes. Hungry, you dash to the snack room for a Coke. If an electroencephalograph (EEG) were attached to your head as you were running around, it might show a brain wave frequency of 22 cycles per second, the beta range.

            When you get home, you take a shower, do a little reading, and then sit in your meditation seat. As you relax every part of your body and calm your mind, your brain wave frequency slows down to about 10 cycles per second, the alpha range. Now you begin to concentrate. All the rays of your consciousness are focused on your object of attention: a photo of the moon that you love, a statue of a great American Indian whose character you want to emulate, a mantra, a word, or a single idea. Your body sits motionless. No longer are you conscious of it. Nothing enters your consciousness – no distractions, no thoughts, only the object of your concentration. At this point, an EEG might measure a frequency in the theta range of about 4 cycles per second.

            As an advanced student, your concentration attains perfection. You reach a state of absorption. Subject and object merge, and the object disappears. Nonduality is the essence of your experience. Perhaps an EEG would pick up a frequency of 2 cycles per second, the delta range. A dip into that peace and bliss dissolves anxiety and fear, and not just for a moment. The infusion can transform one’s entire personality.

            When your meditation deepens into superconscious states beyond delta, you leave behind the world of brain-wave technology and corporate terminology. Metaphysically, what happens in deep meditation is that God knows himself; Self experiences itself.

            R. I don’t understand. Isn’t it me, the man, who is knowing God?

            D. A man cannot know God. Finite can never know the Infinite. Only the perceiver can perceive the perceiver.

            R. Is this idea from a particular religious orientation?

            D. This is neither an idea nor a religious orientation. This transcendence of body and mind, this dropping of boundaries of the finite self, is an experience of advanced mystics from all traditions. St. Bernard wrote that “it is no merely human joy to lose oneself like this,…to be emptied of oneself as though one almost ceased to be at all….How otherwise could God be ‘all in all’ if anything of man remained in man?” Augustine Baker wrote that the Christian contemplative “cometh to a pure and total abstraction, and then he seemeth to himself to be all spirit and as if he had no body….”

            Zen master Han-Shan said, “Suddenly, I stood still, filled with the realization that I had no body or mind. All I could see was one great illuminating Whole – omnipresent, perfect, lucid and serene….I felt clear and transparent.” Dogen wrote that his mind and body dropped off in an ecstasy of release. Vedic sage Sri Ramana Marharshi explained that we are formless, that considering ourselves to have a form is the primal ignorance and the root cause of all our trouble. “In the superconscious state, the Self knows what it is, once and for all.” The sustained experience of that state is called enlightenment.

            R. How does the Self relate to the mind? Or does it have a relationship with it?

            D. Self is the Witness of the mind.

            R. If Self witnesses the mind, why do we need formal meditation?

            D. Meditation introduces us to the Witness. Stated another way, meditation lifts the veil that obstructs our vision of what we truly are.

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