I Don’t Have to Figure It All Out Right Now

A very simple question:

What’s the big deal about Now?

I remember one of the advanced monks asking this question to Roshi, at a Zen meditation retreat, many years ago. From Ram Dass’ 1971 classic, Be Here Now, to Eckhart Tolle’s contemporary bestseller, The Power of Now, and the ubiquitous self-help emphasis on mindfulness, it warrants the asking. It has become standard among mental health practitioners to champion this most basic of meditation practices, for its proven benefits for those suffering from depression, to PTSD to the more benign, but inescapable varieties of generalized anxiety, all as common as daily bread. And surgeons recommend it for pre-treatment nerves, as well as post-op recovery. Mindfulness is, at its most simple rendering, the ongoing act of bringing your attention to this present moment… here and now.

Sooo…..

What’s the big deal about Now?

First, let’s answer that question with another question…

Because… What if this moment, here and now, is full of pain and misery? (Why would we want to be present with it?)

The answer to this last question, is that this present moment is not full of anything, at all. It is only our heads that are full of commentary, or as my Zen teacher used to say, ruminations. He loved that word. It comes from the Latin word for chewing. Makes sense. We like to chew on stuff. And chew some more. Then, chew some more. Even when — and there usually isn’t, unless you’re solving some mathematical equation — there’s no nutritive value left in whatever it is you’re chewing on.

Why do we do this?

It’s a compulsion. And we all do it. We are all obsessive compulsive. We’re problem solvers. We want to figure out that which can’t be figured out. We want to solve… even when it’s unsolvable. And know the unknowable. We want to have all the answers, ironically… right now. We’re not so good with the idea that there’s more to come, just around the bend… and relaxing with that. It makes us feel nervous and insecure not to be sure… not to be certain about things. Although, as denoted in the Alan Watts book that started it all for me, The Wisdom of Insecurity, there is an unmistakable prudence in simply letting life dance its dance. We don’t obsess about getting to the end of the dance, or rush to get there.

When we can summon up enough faith to do that, we will have enabled within ourselves a different relationship with this moment.

And that is the answer to the first question… it’s not the now, that has so much importance, it’s our relationship to the now. When we’re living easily with what is happening now, then we will be resistance free. And being resistance free is what every spiritual tradition, everywhere, from the beginning of time, has extolled.

And how do we do that?

After 30 years of practice, I still wouldn’t call myself an expert at it. At all. But, that’s why they call it a practice. It’s never really, fully and finally, accomplished. But, I do like the Abraham-Hicks access code:

I don’t have to figure it all out, right now.

This is like a golden key. A doorway into the state of nonresistance… into a more peaceful relationship with whatever this moment holds. Use it like a mantra. Say it to yourself when panic taps its familiar tap. It works because it’s general. If it were more detailed, and applied to some specific problem, the mind would find some argument, and the ruminations would continue. But in generalized form, it dislodges the ruminations.

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My New Year’s Message: Enter the Field of Magic

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The whole idea in life is to live in ease. To put it as Buddha did, to reduce suffering and mental angst. Finding a path of ease becomes our polestar. As Abraham Hicks says… “Whatever we do, we do because we think we’ll be happier in the doing of it.”

But, I have found that the approach to that place of ease is very different, depending on which spiritual teaching you embrace. For example, Abraham says:

“When you call source forward and you don’t block the current with contradictory thoughts, then it looks and feels like ease and grace and well-being.”

But mostly, we call sporadically, blocking that flow with our own doubts. We look too often toward other people’s opinions, and other people are not only fickle, but do not see the big picture, and are necessarily limited by their own experiences. More importantly, they have their own ideas of what constitutes a “good life.” But perhaps, most importantly of all, they came for a different purpose than we did and so, couldn’t fathom ours. Thus, by looking for their approval, we not only give away our power, but we invite confusion into our energy field. And in this way, we block our flow from source. As an analogy, it is like what happens when we pollute a river of clean, pristine, crystalline water flowing toward a feeding pond.

For most people…and for many well-meaning spiritual teachers, the answer is to “slow down the asking” because we’re not managing what we’re asking for. In other words, to stop desiring because unmet and un-manifested desires cause suffering. But that would be like saying the answer to the polluted river is to stop the flow, altogether. We’ve seen the havoc that dams create.

The answer is, rather, to enable ourselves to become a vibrational match to our desires. Said differently, to get the resistance out of the way, rather than slow the desires. You can’t drop desires anyway… the desire to take the next breath is, after all, a desire. And doesn’t the mere attempt to eradicate all desires make life dull?

The idea is to enable the desire to flow in ease, like the river. And better yet, to flow with the river. That happens when we stop slowing down the flow with doubt…when we stop sticking the oar into the mud with contradictory thoughts, which in turn, affect our overall vibration. The idea is that without resistance, we soar into a higher frequency mode of being and we come to match our desires. This is the field of grace, in which synchronicities occur.

How do we do this? By dropping into the realm of feeling, rather than overthinking. By using our “vibrational senses.” By becoming super aware of how our entire body feels in various situations and the signals it gives us. This is the feminine aspect of spiritual practice; feel the down flow of energy, the descent, rather than constant focus on the upflow, the ascent, into the concept known as “enlightenment.” Incorporate the Yin to the Yang. The “feel-flow,” like the Beach Boys song. And in this aliveness of body, step into clarity and easiness. Grace and magic. And total trust in yourself, without needing to know the details of how everything will unfold.

Yoga at Woodstock?

In my article, entitled “Woodstock: The First Postmodern Event?” I make the case that Woodstock should indeed, be considered the first truly postmodern event. In it, I explore the difference between modernism and postmodernism, and how Woodstock is different than other festivals because of the way it embraces postmodern ideals. Part of this movement included the influx of eastern ideals, many of which made their way to the festival itself. More below, along with a link to the full article on my other blog. Thanks for following me there!
~DQ

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Eastern Thought—
Part of this all-encompassing desire for social change included the openness to new ideas in spirituality. The interest in Zen Buddhism, Yoga and other religions of the East, arose with postmodernist thought and what came to be known as the “Bohemian lifestyle.” Eastern spirituality was seen as less rigid than the authoritarian western counterpart. The pervasive ideals of peace, acceptance, and nonviolence were seen as welcome alternatives to the atrophied moralistic religious dogmas of the west, which seemed to consider everything a sin. Eastern thought provided the ideals that the countercultural movement espoused….oneness.

Read entire article at my other blog:
http://fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com

Get over Yourself! Advice from my interview with Caroline Myss

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I had the unbelievable honor, to interview Caroline Myss, last month. I have, for a long time, counted her as one of my own teachers and continue to be inspired by her books and lectures, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to have the opportunity to interview her for Awaken.com. The first part of the interview will be posted there this Sunday. For now, here is a portion of it…she is speaking about the recent pilgrimage she did through the Spanish El Camino. It contains a simple, but life-changing piece of wisdom:

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Caroline: …The Spanish valley was stunning. And I see all these little hamlets and some snow on top of the mountains. And I thought, my god is this beautiful! And I just stood there and smelled the air, that wonderful way that air smells with water in it. I just filled up my lungs and stood there and thought, this is so beautiful…I’ve never seen this before and I want to remember every single glimmer. I want to make this great, big, huge memory for the rest of my life. I want to remember this moment, standing on this mountain, standing here right now, this day. Then it occurred to me…that I couldn’t remember most of my life. Faced with desire to make a great, big, huge memory. I was confronted with the reality that I had very little memory of all the ordinary days of my life.

Donna: Like dreams.

Caroline: And it took my breath away. And then I stood there and then the second tsunami hit. And I thought, I could die in this moment. Right now, in this moment. So much life is happening on the planet in this moment. People are being born, people are dying. People are making agreements. People are getting married. People are getting divorced. Souls are coming in. Souls are leaving. Businesses are being born. All these things are happening right now, in this moment, that I am standing here. Friends are meeting. Friends are saying goodbye. Strangers are sitting next to each other. New conversations are starting. And I’m imagining all the things taking place in the moment that could be my last moment. And I am looking at this valley and thinking, this could be the last thing I see. And I thought…and I hardly remember this life that I have lived. I remember so much about it, of course, but if you said to me, “where were you on October 4th, 1967?” I have no idea. In high school, somewhere. The truth is, I thought, what a humble experience.

And who would even glance backwards, once I leave the planet and life would go on and that would be that. And then tsunami three…I didn’t remember hardly any of the things that I was once fretting about. Or, what made me so angry, or whatever, and that delighted me. And so, when you say, “what can people do?” Humble up! Get over yourself. There is nothing about your life that is that big a deal. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You are not that important to anybody, at all. There is nothing that we are doing that someone else cannot do. Humble up! You want a practice? That’s it.
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The Emptiness of Anger

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While working my way through a thick stack of homework papers recently, I came across one, written by a Chinese student who spoke of his hatred toward the Japanese. I’ve received other papers through the years, alluding to the very same grudge. This common resentment is because of the Japanese invasions into China during the 1930s.

I often wonder while reading, if they even know at whom they are angry, and whether the feeling is directed toward today’s generation of Japanese. I even wonder if it is a feeling at all. It is perhaps more like a cultural habit. 

Nonetheless, if the cynicism is directed toward today’s generation, then I wonder whether these young Japanese are even familiar with the history of WWII. If they’re like most young people, it’s just an anecdote in their history books.

They are a good three generations removed from the relevant, and “chargeable” generation. This generation is busy with the same personal concerns we’re all busy with, and worried about issues that affect us all equally, like the economy, or the environment. And in a more personal context, they’re worried about transferring to a good university, the problem they’re having with their girlfriend or boyfriend, and whether they’ve used too much data on their cell phones.

In this light, it is clearly pointless to be angry at these people.

So, then what about the older generation, those who were in their prime during WWII? The culprits. In a similar line of thought, my guess is that the average Japanese person back then, was waiting for news of the war, like the rest of the world…concerned most immediately, about the safety of their families…looking for assurance that life would continue in some semblance of normalcy…hoping that their village wouldn’t be crushed. They weren’t personally involved in acts of destruction, at all, and chances are, didn’t wish for it, either.

So, who should the culprit be? Perhaps the government, but that particular assemblage is now nonexistent.

The Chinese aren’t horrible for persisting in their anger toward the Japanese. If they are, then we all are equally horrible. We all do the same thing. The Buddhists call it ignorance.

 We condemn the Germans, as a whole, for the holocaust. But all it takes is remembrance of the many Germans who tried, themselves, to bring down Hitler, and the many others who took in Jews, at their own personal risk.

Ironically, it would be all too easy to direct the same bitterness toward the Chinese, due to their violent seizure of Tibet, but the ordinary Chinese people of today have not seized Tibet, and weren’t even around when the whole thing started, some 60 years ago, under Mao. They are getting along like the rest of us, doing the things the rest of us do everyday, and probably don’t know much about it, aside from what their Government, through heavy censure, has allowed them to know.

The point is, with deeper consideration, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a target, and to hold onto anger.

Eckhart Tolle — A Hidden Pearl (The Real Purpose of Life)

Below is a treasure of wisdom that is not found in any of Eckhart Tolle’s books. I transcribed it myself, from a talk that I attended years ago. In this exquisite passage, he expresses the true purpose of life, which is, essentially, to awaken. And what does that mean? It casts light on the reason why so many…who have achieved fame and fortune by external measures, still fail to experience joy in life.

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True flowering is not the achievement of this or that. Sometimes, the flowering happens indirectly, through an achievement, which doesn’t help the person, either…if they still identify as the form of achievement.

The true flowering is the arising of presence in you…when you become transparent. And that can happen at any age and it doesn’t matter where you are in your life situation. It doesn’t depend on “success,” by worldly measures. Some people have succeeded, by world standards…and others, who have failed, by world standards…maybe in a year, they’ll be rich and famous.

I was a “failure” in the eyes of the world, 10 years ago…and now the world thinks I’m a success. Completely meaningless…completely meaningless.

It doesn’t matter where you are…what life situation you’re in, at the present time. The ultimate purpose of your existence is…for the form to manifest that which is beyond manifestation…to become an opening for the unconditioned…for the stillness, the awareness, that energy stream, that frequency.

I believe Ramana Maharshi used the expression, a current of awareness that flows through you. That is non-conceptual intelligence.

And it’s more than that, too. It’s love.

~~~

My new blog: https://fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com
(Latest article: The Space where Ram Dass & Timothy Leary Diverge)

Timothy Leary and Ram Dass

Hello My Dear Readers,

Besides my work as a Kundalini Yoga teacher, professor, and contributor to various publications, I am now maintaining two personal blogs, including this one. My new blog pivots around the music and the culture of the 60s (my first published writings were as a music reviewer!). I want to take this moment to thank you for following me here…and at the same time, invite you to follow me there. Not all posts will be about music…some, like today’s entry, on Ram Dass & Timothy Leary, will focus on relevant topics from the era. Below is a taste, followed by the link to the entire post:

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… It is one of their last conversations, erupting at the very end of the movie, in which, spawned by a discussion of what happens after death, they wrangle over the existence of the soul, which in Hinduism, is called the atman:

Ram Dass: I’m interested in awareness AFTER the brain gets eaten. I think about the dissolution of conceptual structures.

Timothy Leary: There are neurological and anatomical explanations for hallucinations.

RD: (I’m interested in how death) catapults us into non-conceptual space…my sense of continuity of awareness beyond the brain…is it just my wanting to keep something going?

TL: I don’t have that.

RD: You used the word, “soul”…what do you mean by it?

TL: “Superconsciousness.” And it…she…hangs around the brain.

RD: Well, Ramana Maharshi says, it’s right here (touches heart).

TL: (Rolls eyes)…A wonderful organ to pump blood. These Indian gurus…they’re using the heart as a metaphor? A bad metaphor.

RD: It’s in the lower, right hand corner…the size of your thumb…the atman…

TL: (Aghast) Are you kidding me!?

… Ram Dass had found something that Leary hadn’t, and it has the aroma of divinity….while Leary’s projection carried the unmistakeable flavor of anguish. One of Leary’s five wives offers us some insight, when she explains the disconnect Leary has always had between his mind and his heart… ”the mind was always in charge and the heart got left behind,” she explained…

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Finish article at:

fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com

The Only Opinion that Matters…

As readers of this blog know, I have been blessed to receive channeled messages, especially at times when I have needed the highest, most elevated and exalted form of upliftment. I usually share this wisdom in my classes at Yoga West, and here, I will share the latest communication:

The Only Opinion that Matters is Source.

The only opinion that matters is Source…or, God…or, The Infinite Divine…or…

Because we invest so much energy and personal reSOURCEs into other people’s opinions and approval. Because we compare ourselves to others. Because we care about what the peanut gallery thinks. And because we create our own disappointments time and time again, as we look for anything consistent at all, from the outside world and from other people…who are not only fickle, but also, by virtue of their own lack of wholeness, incapable of making us whole.

And in their own disconnected state, when others are less than accepting and forgiving, and at the same time, directing their focus on you (it is nothing personal—it could be anyone), it is because they are under the mistaken belief that if you were to change what you were doing, then they would be satisfied and happy.

In other words, those who point fingers or direct negativity toward others, could be satisfied with a snap of their fingers, if they would care more about their own connection, before anything else, just as we all can. But, in a state of separation, we mistakenly look to others to fulfill us. Of course, other people and other things never can. And so we slip into chronic frustration and then say they let us down…or we go looking for new toys and gimmicks that will do the job better…and the cycle goes on.

If we were to truly start caring more about our own alignment with SOURCE, we would begin to not only heal, but also feel good, consistently.

But, when we look within for the only voice…the only opinion…the only thought that ever mattered, we no longer hold up any external conditions for our own well-being and happiness.

This is why mystics from time immemorial have been devoted to some sort of daily meditative routine, before they even engage with the outside world—so as to touch the sacred within. So as to remind themselves that this is it. Right here.

What is the simplest and quickest way to align? Sometimes the most unembellished is best. I recall Caroline Myss’ simple prayer to God:

“I’m Listening.”

Yes…Jesus Was a Yogi

Jesus is Universal—

The great Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, once asked, “Many are the powerful churches founded in Jesus’ name, but where is the communion that he stressed…where is the actual contact with God?”

When Jesus spoke, he was imparting deep truths, which he himself, received through direct experience and genuine communion with the divine. We may refer to this state of consciousness by many names, such as Christ Consciousness, or God Realization, in which the oneness that exists among all revelations, regardless of name, sect, or geographical location, is perceived. Truth is Truth is Truth is Truth, no matter its name and irrespective of what costume or scripture we wrap it in. This means that The New Testament is no more Christian, than The Bhagavad Gita is Hindu. They are written records of enlightened revelations available to any seeker by any name for the purpose of upliftment.

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Not Through Rituals, but through Yoga—

Thus, Christ Consciousness is beyond category, and can only be known through experience, not by dint of ritual, costume or temple. Not even by the arrival of Jesus himself. As Paramahansa-ji put it, “A thousand Christs sent to earth would not redeem its people unless they themselves become Christlike by purifying and expanding their individual consciousness.”

Through the technology of Yoga—a word meaning, Union with Divine—a seeker can expand his/her consciousness to the frequency of the divine. Or, said differently, he/she can unite his/her finite awareness with the infinite awareness, often called God. The technology of Yoga was first revealed in written form, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, about 500 years before Jesus. In these sutras, it is said that through various daily disciplines, culminating with meditation, the omniscience of cosmic awareness may become known.

The Soul of Yoga has been Lost—

These practices, known by sages and Yogis…and by Jesus himself, have been held in secrecy and passed down with discretion, from teacher to disciple, for millennia, long before they were ever written. Unfortunately, through the commercialization of mainstream Yoga, through its importation to the west, this technology, as well as the original intent of Yoga—has been lost in the morass of poses, products and popularity.

The Hidden Truth in Jesus’ Parables—

And the disciples came, and said unto him, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” He answered and said unto them, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given….Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” 

Like the Yogis of old, who carefully guarded this technology of enlightenment, Jesus, too, selectively revealed the higher and more advanced teachings for those that were able to receive them, which is why he taught in parables.

When asked by his disciples, why he often taught through parables, Jesus said, “Because it is so ordained that you who are my real disciples, living a spiritualized life and disciplining your actions according to my teachings, deserve, by virtue of your inner awakening in your meditations to understand the truth of the arcane mysteries of heaven and how to attain the kingdom of God, Cosmic Consciousness hidden behind the vibratory creation of cosmic delusion. But ordinary people, unprepared in their receptivity, are not able either to comprehend or to practice the deeper wisdom-truths. From parables, they glean according to their understanding, simpler truths…”

Esoteric Practices—

As is taught in all practices, the ultimate truths of heaven, that Jesus spoke of, can not be grasped by the senses, nor the rational mind, but can only be known through intuitive awareness. In other words, only through direct experience, can we ever really know the reality that lies behind the trappings of logic and beyond the illusions of the senses.

Through direct personal practice in the myriad techniques of Yoga and meditation, transcendental consciousness may be achieved. For example, through the awakening of the energy centers in the spine, we open the gateways into what Jesus called “The Kingdom of God.”

When man is settled in that inner kingdom of divine consciousness, the awakened intuitive perception of the soul pierces the veils of matter, life energy, and consciousness and uncovers the God-essence in the heart of all things…. ~Paramahansa Yogananda

Resurrection—

An example of Jesus’ mastery over the materialistic laws of earthly life are seen in the act of resurrection, something that has been understood by accomplished yogis of India for thousands of years. These Yogis consider Jesus to be a realized yogi: one who knew and had mastered the spiritual science of life and death, God-communion and God-union.


Jesus Misinterpreted—

In his book, The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa-ji, points out that even the most basic principles of Jesus’ teachings have been distorted, while “genocidal wars have been fought, people have been burned as witches and heretics, on the presumed authority of man-made doctrines of Christianity.”

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~Donna Quesada

 

 

Be Neutral; Be Knowing; Be Glowing

Yogi Bhajan - in whiteOn occasion, I receive messages from Yogi Bhajan, who I think of as Yogiji because the ji functions as a term of endearment. Sometimes I share these messages and others, I simply tuck away into a journal, to be compiled in a book, one day.

But along with this particular message, was the injunction that it be shared. It came as a response to a personal plea for strength, as I have recently been going through a demanding life-challenge. Here is the message, followed by my interpretations of each of the three parts:

Be Neutral; Be Knowing; Be Glowing

Be Neutral—

Meaning, don’t “emotionalize” as you go about your business; just go about your business.

In other words, refrain from running stories in your head about how wrong the other person is…how out of line the company is…how unjust the situation is, etc., etc. It’s not for us to play the role of judge. And anyway, victim consciousness is the lowest form of consciousness (since nothing that happens is personal—more on this below).

But it also doesn’t mean you sit and do nothing when conflict or wrong has occurred. When you’ve already tried to settle the situation peaceably to no avail, you proceed by going through appropriate channels, but without additional energy wasted on vengeful thoughts. (As Zen says, that would be like wearing two heads!)

In short, don’t “personalize” the situation or the other person’s actions, since, those actions were never about you, anyway, they were always about the other—betraying their own state of consciousness. And on a more metaphysical level, those actions are merely impersonal obstacles, like little mazes meant to navigate, so as to reap the lessons they offer, and to able to then move on, and nothing more.

Be Knowing—

My own teacher, Guru Singh, was one of Yogiji’s first students. This is a line from one of his devotional songs, called “Fortunate:”

To be confident that the infinite will take care of it…

This line best sums up the meaning of the second part of Yogiji’s message. It asks us to know, to really know, in our heart, that the universe is truly supporting us.

You are divinely guided! You really do have angels. And what’s more, you have more inner resources than you ever imagined.

Whatever name we call it by…God, the divine, the supreme infinite...doesn’t matter. It means there’s no reason to worry.

Don’t live in fear—have faith. Surrender. And once you do, you’ll see the beauty all around you, as well as all the signs that your angels (in the form of helpers in your life or in spirit), are carrying you.

Consider that whatever challenge you are facing is akin to what mystics have characteristically referred to as “the dark night of the soul,” which always precedes the light! It is a time of reordering, in which something has to die in order for something more beautiful and infinitely more liberating to be born. And this necessitates a kind of chaos, as all birthing experiences do.

But open your heart to faith throughout the process—outrageous faith…faith in your own mission, which comes in the form of divine instructions and your courage to finally listen and follow these instructions! This is freedom, this is light.

Be Glowing—

This is a reminder that our true power and strength is on the inside and this will supersede any physical situation. Meaning, whatever your situation or challenge is, it is of little consequence to fret about possible outcomes, especially those based on what other people’s experiences have been, based on google searches, or based on hearsay. Your inner glow and light, which radiates outward and is felt by all who come near you, will affect the material context in ways that others are unable to understand. It’s like a secret.

~Donna Quesada