Growing

WHAT IS THE UNIMAGINABLE POSSIBILITY?

Several years ago, I was invited by an ashram in Melbourne, Australia, to be part of a program with some other spiritual teachers. They were expecting an audience of about 400 people for the public events, and I had to decide on a topic for my talks. I wanted to come up with an idea that would be meaningful to the people attending, something that they could carry forward from that experience. I hoped to share something that would be of value to them; I wanted to tell them something that they wouldn’t forget. It occurred to me to talk about the most meaningful part of my own experience, what has driven and sustained me for the last forty-odd years. After considering it for some time, I understood that the most important aspect of my experience was coming to an awareness of the unimaginable possibility, as I experienced it in my teacher, Rudi, and that’s what I decided to talk about.

images.jpeg

For the first few days of those programs in Melbourne, I talked about the unimaginable possibility. I told the people there that in each of them, in every moment, there was an unimaginable possibility that was present and available to them. I told them that every human being, no matter what their life circumstance, has something really, really wonderful at their core. I told them that the unimaginable possibility has dimensions to it that are sacred and profound and powerful enough to change the landscape of lives. I could tell that the people in the audience liked hearing that there was an amazing possibility for them, but I also see they weren’t totally convinced.

Now, the programs in Australia were set up so that each of the teachers there gave a talk in the evenings. The following day before lunch, a senior student of each teacher would get up and give a recap of that teacher’s talk the night before. About three days into the program, my assistant, who was giving the morning talks, came to me and said, “They want to know what the unimaginable possibility is, and they want to know if you’re going to tell them.” I decided to play a little game. I told my assistant, “Tell them no.” He went to the morning meeting the next day and the question came up again: “Well, is he going to tell us?” He told them that I wouldn’t. So my assistant came back to me and said, “They still want to know, and they’re still asking me: are you going to tell them?” I said, “Tell them no. Not this time, maybe next year, when I come again.”

This exchange went on for about three days, and it was my turn to be the main speaker at the evening program. I said, “I understand that a lot of you would really like me to tell you what the unimaginable possibility is. And I know I’ve been saying I’m not going to tell you. But I’ve decided to tell you what it is.” That got quite a rise out of the people there. Then I said, “Actually, at least I’ve decided to talk about it, because, frankly, I don’t know what your unimaginable possibility is. And even if I could know, I wouldn’t want to know, because that would make me the limitation of your experience. And why should anyone want to be that for anyone else?”

This unimaginable possibility finds a unique expression in every living human being. It has to, because each of us, despite all of our similarities, is creatively unique. This possibility emerges from the vibrant oneness that is at the core of all life, but it expresses itself differently in the field of each of our lives. It’s impossible to say what it is for anybody else.

It’s also impossible for you to know what the unimaginable possibility is for you. I can guarantee that it doesn’t in any way resemble what you think it is. Anything you think it is is just an expression of your ego, and the amazing possibility that exists for you goes far beyond that.

The unimaginable possibility isn’t, for example, waking up every day happy, with enthusiasm, to engage in your day—although for a lot of people, that may indeed be an unimaginable possibility. It isn’t waking up every morning and looking at your significant other and seeing a person that you really like and care about and are looking forward to sharing your day with. That’s also pretty unimaginable for many people. It isn’t going off to do whatever you do to earn money and express yourself professionally or creatively and find great joy in the going and the doing. It isn’t that. But wouldn’t that be unbelievable? To get up every morning and go to work and find that you care about the people who were there and had meaningful experiences in sharing with them, and they cared about you and the work you were doing was meaningful—that alone would be pretty amazing.

The unimaginable possibility is not any of those things. It is so much vaster than that. But even those simple things are experiences that we will have. They are states that will emerge in us as we move along in our cultivation of the truly profound possibility that is present within us. They are part of the process of refining ourselves and deepening our understanding. They’re not something we have to force; they just come to us as we are continuously developing the deepest, finest place within us.

Please understand that the unimaginable possibility is not about self-improvement; it is about transcendence. That transcendence is based on a deep acceptance of our own humanity, with all of its paradoxes, confusions and ambivalences. At the same time, we live with an awareness that the fundamental power that has given rise to the appearance of the entire universe in all of its multiplicity and abundance resides within the core of our own being.  It is the resting place of the unimaginable possibility lying in the center of each of our souls. It is waiting to be awakened and coaxed to pour forth its magic and its profound abundance.

Unimaginable_possibility.jpg

This ultimate reality with its profound power, the power that poured forth and endlessly continuously pours forth billions of universes, and renews those billions of universes regularly, manifests through us when we have cultivated our contact with it. It not only transforms our life, our deepest inner life, our mind and our emotions, and our physical body, but it extends throughout the whole field of our awareness. It expands our field of awareness and our field of activity, further and further as we go, creating a space in which something really unimaginable, something unimaginably fine, unimaginably uplifting and nourishing, for us and for all of the life that we’re in contact with, can manifest in all the three fields of our experience.

Love is that dimension of ourselves that is endlessly giving of itself. The love at our core is the same as the infinite vitality of the ultimate reality, endlessly manifesting power without being diminished in any way. There is great richness, great abundance present in that vitality. That abundance is so profound that, within it, there are possibilities for every living being that completely transcend our capacity to imagine. When we understand this, there is no lack. Instead, we find that there is an extraordinary resource within us. Then life no longer has to be a struggle for acquisition.

Unimaginable possibility exists for all of us. If the energy that can be released from one atom can change the landscape of 1000 square miles, then what is possible in the awakening of the creative energy of a single person whose focus is intense, whose mind is clear, and whose heart is pure?

Growing a Life

A life of growing ever closer to Unconditional Love has two really simple basic forms of expression. Within ourselves, it is continuous learning. In the world, it’s continuous service. It’s that simple.

Learning and service go together. Service creates flow and flow reveals structure, which is also limitation. Learning dissolves limitation, reorganizes structure, and creates more flow, which, expressed as service, creates more flow.

IMG_9803.jpg

The whole idea of gaining in the world and benefiting from our engagement in it just doesn’t work. The notion that we’re here in this world to get something, whether it’s a job or a relationship or a family, is bogus. When we understand that we’re here to do some service and to continuously learn, then the flow that we’ve established eventually brings us everything we need.

Having the understanding that we want to be of service and contribute something to the world becomes the basis for a real life and endless opportunities for learning. That learning enhances our ability to serve, which creates deeper opportunities for learning, and so on and so forth.

When you’re just focused on gaining something, once you’ve got that, what do you do next? Have a bigger appetite? Try to gain more? And what happens when you don’t get it? Because most people don’t. What happens if you do? That’s when it gets really ugly.

If you’re doing service, you have a job. As you do that service and your talents become clarified for you and your interests become clarified, you can do more service in a more focused way in a more specific area…you can learn.

In this process of serving and learning, you have to cultivate the experience of sweetness in yourself. Your contact with the sweetness in you has to be strong enough so that you can start to look at the people around you and feel the sweetness in them too. Then you can hold that experience of sweetness, of quiet, of contact, through all of the screwiness of human beings and all of their swirling and whirling and up and down.  You start to see God in them. You start to see, in all of the tumult of the world, the Divine Process in motion.

The main thing is to keep your heart open every day and keep that sweetness moving in you so that it’s accessible. If you continue to access it, then what happens is magic.  It’s not that your karma is immediately dissolved or your suffering goes away.  You don’t become infinitely perfectly capable in one second, you’re still a human being and you’re still the same human being you always were.  In spite of that, being the same person with the same karmas and same challenges, things get better over time as we really start to cultivate a life of service and learning. All of our struggles get easier, and we become more skillful in every way and better informed. We’re no longer blind-sided by or confused by the things that happen to us and the experiences that we have.

The amazing thing about it all is that when your heart is really open, when you’re not struggling with your mind, and you are not struggling with your expectations and desires for the people around you, then your Energy is actually at work creating miracles…creating a more wonderful life. It’s released from the struggle to express itself in evermore refined and elegant ways. When you’re not struggling with “you” and struggling with your desires, your energy can really start to express what it has come into this world to express in the first place. You grow. 

Opening Deeply to Life

In the entire universe, everything is energy in one of two forms: conscious energy and structured energy. As energy becomes increasingly structured, its range of awareness is decreased and it becomes more dense. Conscious energy can be called Shiva. Structured energy can be called Shakti. All phenomena are structured energy in various degrees of density that arise and subside in the one infinite field of unlimited conscious energy.

Breaking down our own density, dissolving tensions, and allowing our creative energy to grow automatically brings growth. Growth is characterized by change, which affords us the opportunity for an expanded range of motion–physically, emotionally, intellectually, and energetically. Ultimately, it gives us access to the dimension of our existence that is conscious energy and in which all knowledge of past, present and future is inherent.

The conscious effort to grow is really very simple. It is to open within ourselves every single day and to awaken the energy channels, and their junction points, the chakras, and allow ourselves to absorb the experiences of our life as energy. We take everything in our field of experience as energy into ourselves and break it down. We break down all of our thoughts about it, attitudes towards it, and judgments about it. Taking it all in as energy is opening to it, being nourished by it, and learning from it at the same time.

opening to sunriseWe have to learn from experience at a deeper level than it is manifesting. If we are taking in something on the level that is manifesting, we are only building resistance to it. It’s only when we can detach ourselves slightly from the circumstances in which we live that we can begin to understand it is all nourishment. We can take it in and be grateful for our life, as it is.

It is our life as it is that has the potential to nourish us. It is not our life as we want it to be, or we wish it was, or it should have been. All that stuff has nothing to do with anything. Our life as it is has the potential to nourish us if we can reach into ourselves, open ourselves more deeply than the circumstances we are relating to are manifesting, and draw this energy, this whole experience, within ourselves and be nourished and taught by it.

I hear lots of people talk about the inner teacher, but I have yet to meet one person who had a clue what they are talking about. It is just some garbage that people throw out as a way of saying , “I already know everything and I don’t need to hear anything from you.” The inner teacher is that part of us which has the capacity to open more deeply to our life than it is manifesting on and take it in as energy and be nourished by it. This is Rudi’s fundamental teaching.

Simply put, if we can make contact with our own energetic mechanism, consciously open that mechanism and the chakras and set everything in motion, the tensions will start to dissolve and break down. We will start to experience within ourselves a sweetness and a gratitude that will allow for us to heal from all of the strain patterns and trauma that we have experienced in our life. This deep and profound healing can only take place when we take responsibility for opening ourselves, taking in the nourishment, transcending and dissolving every kind of tension, and simply being grateful for being alive.

Creative Commons image courtesy of Jeff Poquinto, SA on Flickr

Cultivating Creative Capacity

My guru, Rudi, completely appreciated the creative capacity of life itself as demonstrated through human beings. He appreciated human beings who were able to rise above the limitations of their circumstance and find, even in the simplest ways, some creative capacities that they could begin to demonstrate. Those capacities were ones that they could cultivate and grow for the sake, ultimately, of liberating themselves from their own constraints. Rudi’s teaching was an expression of the appreciation that he had for that capacity.

Thumbnail for 2005One of the main things I learned from Rudi is that what we are trying to come to understand is the most fundamental basis of our existence. Underneath this physical body and this mind there is a subtle body. You could also call it an energetic mechanism. There is a creative capacity, a power, an energy, which has organized itself for the purpose of expressing us. Rather than wasting our lives, struggling with our desires, it would be wonderful if we could begin to commit ourselves to the realization of this creative capacity, and connecting to it, cultivate that awakening and follow it where ever it is and wants to take us, because none of us get the life that we think we want.

We all have the life we have. That life never becomes someone else’s life. It’s always going to be our life. Without a conscious effort to connect to that life and discover what that life has in store for us, without surrendering our resistance, and our doubts and fears and tensions and coming into contact with that vibrancy of life, and realizing the fullness, the abundance, the unimaginable possibility that it has for us, we spend our lives struggling over what amounts to a pile of rabbit pellets.

You can think of 99% of the things that you worry about as a pile of rabbit pellets, because that’s about how important those things actually are. And at the end of the day, the first heavy rain is going to wash it all away. It will be as if it never existed.

Rudi was all about the energy. He wasn’t the slightest bit interested in his own, or anybody else’s imagination of what their problem was. He was only interested in people who were willing to commit themselves to, and work to connect to, to cultivate their awareness of, their own subtle rainbow body and the creative energy of this living event, which is our essence, and to grow the voltage and the volume of that creative energy to the degree that it could hold and express the entire range of subtle frequencies.

By Swami Chetanananda

Be Delighted

My perspective on Rudi’s teaching is that so much of what he was talking about was really about detachment. What he meant by detachment was that we are not engaged in all of the petty drama craziness in any issue we have to relate to in our day or in our life. Rather, we are taking the energy of all of our circumstances and absorbing it deeply within ourselves, for the purpose of awakening our energetic mechanism and bringing about a continual change of state within us. That change of state should bring us into the awareness of the vastness and the potential that is present within us. It should bring us into the awareness that our essence and the essence of life is unconditional love.

Swami Chetanananda with garland after havanEverything other than love arises from the absence of alignment in love. In that absence of alignment, the ego, and its agent, desire, hijack the power of love. The ego and its agent hijack the energy and transform it into fear and greed and anger.

But this experience of detachment, which should liberate us from desire, doesn’t mean that we have to suppress our desires. Suppressing anything is not a good thing. I think, generally speaking, suppression is the basis of all pathology. Rudi’s work and tantrism in general would never support the idea of suppressing anything, Rather, it’s about transformation–transforming our desires into the experience of inspiration and the realization of unconditional love from within ourselves.

It’s perfectly wonderful for everybody to enjoy their life. You can experience delight in any of the ways that are appropriate to you. It’s fine. I’m taking this line from Rumi slightly out of his context, but I would say “Ours is not a caravan of despair.” Be delighted…and bravo for that.

In your experience of delight, remain in the awareness of your own energetic mechanism. Relate to delight as nourishment and quite consciously absorb it more deeply into you because certainly in the environment of delight, tensions dissolve much more easily. Energy becomes nourishment more easily, and your whole physical mechanism will allow for transformation to take place. It will happen much more efficiently than if you’re constantly under pressure and stress and fretting and worry about this thing and that thing.

Nothing to be Done

Spring is a time to be completely grateful to be able to connect to and feel what we are—that we are connected to the earth and connected to the seasons and the air that we are breathing. So many people just have no clue about any of this. Not only that, people live in their tiny little patterns of tension, which they have no understanding of, and no sense of what is possible for them in their own lives, the richness that is available to them, if they could only like take a breath and actually feel it.

Thumbnail for 1954How simple is that? To just be able to take a breath and feel it. And then take another breath and feel that. And another breath. And feel that. If we just remembered to feel the breath that we’re breathing then all of the things that we get entangled in every single day, all the stuff that we want that we are not getting, and all the stuff that we don’t want, would just fall away. We would feel what is really alive in us.

Our lives are so filled with paradoxes that, for most people, the circuit breaker gets thrown in the family about 18 generations ago and it never gets turned on again. It just genetically stays turned off, because basically there appears to be many, and in this appearance of many, it appears to be complicated. But, in fact, in the appearance of many, there is only one, and in the appearance of all complication there is utter, utter, utter simplicity.

There appears to be so much that we need to do, and yet there is nothing to be done. If we could only understand that while there may be actions that we have to carry out, there may be some things, some cleanups that we have to do, there really is nothing that has to be done. In the release of all of this accumulated stress of the complexity that we have to deal with and the alienation from the many and the struggle with the things that need to be done, if we could just release all that, we would have the energy to simply be aware of our breath.

As we become more relaxed and in our bodies, we will be able to feel the extraordinary vibrancy of the breath within us, and we will experience the subtle breath within our breathing. Attending to, having the energy to hold our mind present in our bodies and in our breath and the subtlety that is within our breath, we will become aware of this profound and sacred potentiality that is present within us, present within our life, present within and around us everywhere. It only requires our attention in order for it to begin to coalesce into a creative energy that expresses itself into some unimaginable transformation in the field of our experience.

So, everyday for just a little while, however long is appropriate to you, sit down and really relax your body and bring your awareness into it. Bringing your awareness into your body, become aware of your breath. With the awareness of your breath, take some time, be aware, bring your mind back over and over again until you have the sense of the vibrancy that is within that breath and the sophisticated pathways by which that breath is articulating your mind and your body. You will understand that this body is not yours, that this mind is not yours, that the many don’t exist, that the complexity is a delusion, that the struggle is suffering, nothing but suffering. Suffering is nothing but your imagination, and relief from it all is available whenever you are ready. Fortunately for everybody, this is not rocket science. This is utterly simple and available to anyone who choses to engage it.

Throw Away the Wish List

Every single day, the thing we have to remember is that life is not about our wish list. We’re not in this world to get something. We’re really not. If we live from our wish list, we’re going to be miserable. Somebody once asked Jay Rockefeller if he had enough money; his response was “Almost.” The thing about getting close to our wish list is it’s always just beyond our grasp, because it’s an illusion, because that wish list comes from the dark. It has nothing to do with anything.

In the book Incognito, David Eagleman points out that because of the lag time between our having an experience and our brains actually absorbing the experience, we never actually live in the present. We never live in the present. He also talks about how in our visual field there are huge holes. There’s big spot in our retina where there are no sensors. Our brain is wired up to ignore the big holes in our visual field; we don’t notice it, but it’s there and it’s prominent. But we never see it, because our brain is taking the data that it does get and building an image out of that data that is a complete image. It’s the same way a computer works. Furthermore, if the brain has already absorbed a particular set of data points, unless we focus directly on a change in that picture, it will continuously feed back to us the same picture.

Drawing of side view of headSo essentially, our brain, based on its fundamental programming is constructing a view of reality, even of our concrete physical world, and building an image which has nothing to do with anything. If it can do that with a concrete physical world, think what it does with our subjective part of it! Then we react to that discovery with surprise and disappointment, never noticing that that’s exactly what we’re relating to, and then we go through our life endlessly reacting to our reactions and being buried in all of the tensions of that.

The most fundamental part of the spiritual practice that I share (and really, any spiritual practice) is to wake up every morning and open our heart to the reality of our life. Not what we wish it was, and not what we regret that it isn’t, and not what we think it ought to be. But open our heart to the reality of our life.

Opening our heart to the reality of our life, we can take in the tensions—-not an easy thing for us to do, especially in the beginning—-and break them down and really find love within ourselves for the people that we share this experience with. We understand they are in our life, and have been in our life for many lifetimes, representing what we haven’t digested and what we haven’t surrendered that is actually nourishment that has come to us and needs to be. We can deal with our life day by day, finding within ourselves a simple joy and a simple gratitude for things like the opportunity to consciously take a breath and feel it; gratitude for a glass of water and how that feels being absorbed. There are so many unbelievably simple things that we ignore that, if we paid attention to them, we would discover are really nice. But we’re so trapped in our desires, we’re so hung up in our wish list and our struggle with it, that we end up condensing our creative energy instead of flowing with it.

We have to take responsibility for opening our own hearts and loving our own life. In that effort, the effort that we have to make to open ourselves and love our own life, we will begin to feel worthy, really deeply worthy of love, and other people will experience that love in our life and love us, too.

It’s not about doing it tomorrow. It’s about doing it today. It’s about doing it now. There is no other time but now. We have to open our hearts and love our life, throw away our wish list and have the courage to see what magic and what blessings are waiting to reveal themselves to us. Doing this will allow us to find a total transformation in the quality of our experience.

Growing Is a Conscious Choice

The first thing I learned from my teacher, Rudi, is that we are in this world to grow. That is really the only reason we are here. Any other activity that we are engaged in is an unconscious expression of our creative energy, which is responding to the limitation of our circumstances, not the potential that is invested in us.

I talk sometimes about the disappointments of our ancestors. You may or may not believe me, but my own personal experience is that 99% of what each of us do in this world–99% of our longings and our desires and our efforts–is really a reaction to an empty space inside us. That space is empty because our parents could not fill it. They could not fill it because they had a similar empty space that could not be filled by their parents, and so on down the line. This isn’t anyone’s fault. This is the human condition.

Rudy at work

Awakening our creative energy changes our understanding of ourselves and our experience. It allows us to find within ourselves, anytime we consciously engage it, a sweetness and a richness that is forever within us. That sweetness and richness, once awakened and cultivated, becomes a power that uplifts and transforms our understanding of ourselves and the experience that we have of our life.

It is our wish to grow that we consciously engage and take ever more deeply inside us. By doing this, we rewire our whole nervous system and the mechanism that is beaming out to the universe. I bring this up because the idea of making a statement to the universe seems to be a popular notion. If we’re going to make a statement, we should state that we want to grow. This wish to grow is an open statement that we make. Any other statement that we make to the universe—“give me money, give me fame, give me whatever, give me this, give me that, give me, give me”–is really coming from the same empty space as the disappointment of our ancestors. It is not coming from a place that is connected to the fullness of our spiritual potential, which is the only part of us that can actually reach out and engage the universe. If the ultimate reality is joy, then it is only from that joy within ourselves that we can connect to and communicate with the ultimate reality. Everything else is tension, and it will be heard on a lesser frequency.

This wish to grow, the understanding that we are in this world to grow, is consciously cultivated. It makes us perfectly clear about the fact that we are in this world to grow, which transforms our whole life into a conscious endeavor. That doesn’t make it easy. It doesn’t make it free of challenges. It makes it an endless opportunity for learning and for expansion, and endless opportunity for fulfillment on a deeper and deeper level, until there is no tension to be dissolved and we are nothing but pure joy.

What Do We Have to Renounce?

In yoga, and in the traditions that embrace yoga as their methodology for self-recognition and self-fulfillment, the discussion of renunciation plays a significant role.  Most of the lifestyles taught by the traditions that embrace yoga are very ascetic lifestyles.  Sannyas is conceived of as, in a way, the pinnacle of this asceticism, the ultimate renunciation.

So I want to give you my short take on renunciation.  What is it that we actually have to renounce?

I like to tell a story about going to India and going to the Ganges with my Brahmin friend. He always does a ritual there for his ancestors. In the ritual, we wade up to our belly buttons in the river. Then we do a little chant and take water in our hands and offer it to the river. That’s such a simple sweet thing for me to do because we are offering water to the river. Yet it’s silly.  First of all, offer water to a river? Second of all, it’s not our water.  It’s the river’s water.  It was never our water.  It was always the river’s water.  What that tells us is that basically, if you think about it, what do we really have to offer?

river_offering

If the water in my hands belongs to the river, the water in my body does, too. Whatever minerals there are that compose this tissue belong to the earth.  It’s not mine.  When I am out of here it’s going to become earth again.

This isn’t my body.  It is a body. Even this mind is not my mind. Most of the thoughts that go on in my head are not mine.  (This may not be easy for you to grok, but trust me on it. ) Whatever stuff I have, when I go, it’s eventually going to become water and dirt. It’s nothing.

So what is it that we have to renounce? Well, actually, we do have something: our ego and the tensions that comprise it.

Our ego is just a bundle of tensions all glommed together that we call us. These tensions completely limit our understanding and the richness and the range of our self-expression. If there is one thing that is very important to renounce, in order to discover the largeness, the vastness, the sweetness, the richness of the life that is alive inside us, the only thing we have to renounce are our tensions. Of course, this is easier said than done.  It’s much easier to renounce vegetables and alcohol and meat. We can renounce all of these things, and that’s easy.  But renouncing our tensions isn’t so easy.

Renouncing tensions allows our creative energy to flow.  In the flow of that creative energy, qualities and capacity, talents and skills that are alive within us emerge. Ordinarily we never have the opportunity to be in contact with them. We are usually too busy wasting our energy, struggling with this tension and that tension, wrestling with our egos, to be in touch.   The richness that is available when we release those tensions is absolutely amazing. Renouncing tensions and allowing our creative energy to flow makes every miracle that is possible in the world happen. Every miracle that is possible in your life is awakened.

We are not here to deal with each others' faults.  We’re here to practice opening our hearts to everyone, even the people whom we think we don’t like and that we think don’t like us. We are here to take in every experience and every person, and dissolve the tensions and take the energy of that experience and learn from it.  What we can be learning is to release tension and allow ever-growing love in our life. It is that ever-growing love in our life that blesses us in every way that is possible.

Real Life Is Within You

The most important thing for a human being to understand is very simple; that we are in this world to grow. If you understand that, there doesn’t have to be any confusion anymore, or any displacement, or any suffering or agitation. If you really understand that, then it’s possible for you to have peace in yourself and peace in your life very quickly. Growing means fully awakening the energetic mechanism that underlies your physiology.

When we are growing and the energetic mechanism is fully awakened, the flow within the mechanism is expanding as the field of the mechanism itself is expanding. This means we are taking in more experience. Experience is energy, and we are digesting and absorbing that energy, which is feeding and nourishing us and feeding our energetic mechanism and allowing it to expand. As this expansion happens, finer and finer energies become accessible to us because the tensions that we are encased in are breaking down as the flow is expanding. We can really feel and experience and be nourished by the very fine energies that are available in the atmosphere and available within the field of our life to touch us in deep and meaningful ways.

At the same time, the tensions are breaking down, all the difficult circumstances that we face, all the challenges, all the pain, all the suffering, all the disappointment also is breaking down, the heavy denseness within us is breaking down. That energy too is nourishing us and creating pathways by which the pathology that is accumulated within us can be exported out of our body, out of our mechanism, out of our system so that our whole range of motion, our whole respiratory capacity, our whole experience of the breath of life itself, is continuously expanding and refining itself as it does. That’s so fantastic!

The work you have to do in this growing is not rocket science. It’s actually unbelievably simple; it just needs to be done. This is the hard part for people—doing it. You have to make contact with your energetic mechanism every day. You have to really be in touch with yourself. It’s not your thoughts that you have to in touch with, because that’s all noise, or your feelings, although it’s better to be in touch with your feelings. Both thoughts and feelings will dissolve as you are simply in touch with the energy. It doesn’t matter at that point how you are feeling about the energies that are coming into you. That becomes irrelevant. What is important is that you are being deeply nourished by it, because you have opened in yourself to a place that is deeper than everything that’s coming at you.

Taking in these finer energies, we’re awakening new pathways by our conscious effort. We are awakening new energetic pathways, we are training our mind, we are training our neural pathways to move the energy through us in ways that is genuinely nourishing and dissolving tension, instead of creating tension and building our ego. And it’s work. Sometimes it is delicious, divine, such beautiful work. Sometimes it’s hard and hurtful, and digesting painful experiences is not easy. Uncovering painful places within us is not easy, but it’s so important.

A lot of the time it’s just practice. It’s a practice that we do out of our love of life and our appreciation for the extraordinary opportunity that has, who knows why, landed itself in our lap, to really make something of our life. Most of the time we go through life with such a small mechanism that even the most petty bullshit nonsense causes us to completely shut down. Lots of people stay shut down forever. This is not the way to have a real life.

To have a real life, you have to have some determination, first of all, to have a real life, to grow. The next thing is that you have to be willing to dig into yourself, to reach inside and make contact and hold the contact sot that you are really absorbing and digesting and transcending all of your experiences. Then you have an ever-increasing quantity of experience, you live a big life, and you have an ever-increasingly refined quality of experience because you are grounded within yourself in that place in which everything is really beautiful all the time. So you are digesting the external from a place that is pure love, unconditional love, a place that sees the symmetry and the beauty and the elegance and the mystery and the magic in it. It is a place that is aware of this magic all the time.

Real life is not at Fred Meyer. You will not find real life at Fred’s. You’re not going to find it at Costco. It ‘s not just walking down the street. All of that is imaginary life. That is the accumulation of all the delusion that exists in humanity over the ages. The reality of life is within you. Real life is within you. True life is within you. It’s not complicated or hard to find. Feel your breath. Be aware of your breath and feel it moving in you. It’s that simple.

As you find this sweetness, which grows and expresses its power and its magic, its beauty, the delusion will resolve and the reality will be where you live everyday. How cool is that?

Patience and Concentration

It’s very important to have a deep commitment to your practice. It’s so important to understand, to somehow get, that there is unimaginable depth within you. You then have to honor that depth through your practice by dissolving the tension of your day and the tension of your life, by dissolving and working through the disappointments of your ancestors. You finally come to the place where you really can completely open your heart and your energetic mechanism to participate in the profound abundance that is the essence of life itself.

This just doesn’t happen quickly. It’s like growing a tree. Growing anything that is great in its dimension and its stature just doesn’t happen quickly. You have to be willing to walk into the unknown within yourself every day and open within yourself every day. Every day you connect to something deeper and something deeper and something deeper, which will eventually open into a profound depth. In our culture now, they tell me, we have a 2-minute, an 8-minute, and a 20-minute attention cycle. That’s pathetic, it’s just pathetic, and it’s happening all over the world.

In contrast to that, the accomplished people of south Asia a couple of thousand years ago understood the micro movements of the breath in conjunction with the moon. They got that there is an integration going on within our breath that is coordinated with the motion of the moon in the sky. They understood this perfectly, and we don’t even have the slightest clue.

How many of you can concentrate long enough to catch hold of the shift that goes on ordinarily in relationship to your breath? Well, that’s just not what’s going on for us, and in a way it’s very sad. What peace and what joy and what richness of creative expression might flow from you if you can be patient and concentrate long enough to really experience the circulation of your breath and the creative energy within you, and come to some authentic contact with that which is truly alive within you?

Through spiritual practice, and in spiritual community, we clear away all the tensions, all the self-rejection, all the inner struggle. We do this to come to understand the extraordinary and simple energetic event that we are. Then, moving beyond the tensions, we are giving that energetic mechanism space to really grow in the field of our life. Growing it brings us to a completely mature understanding of exactly what we are and what this life is.

Attachment and Moving On

In most eastern spiritual literature, attachment is talked about as a problem. I don’t exactly agree with that–I think that eliminating attachment is not necessary. What IS necessary is letting go when something is over. Being connected is not a problem. Staying in places that are no longer alive is a problem. Living with habitual tendencies that are no longer fulfilling your responsibilities or nourishing you is a problem.

The really sneaky thing about attachment is that there are so many attachments inside us that we don’t have a clue about until we grow a little. When we’re kids, we have one set of attachments. When we’re teenagers we have another. When we get into our twenties, a whole other set of attachments rolls out. That’s true for our whole lives. Attachment is going to come out and keep biting us.

Traditionally, the issue of attachment was dealt with by going into the mountains or a forest and just not dealing with people at all. Early Buddhism was about getting away from people, and much of Indian meditation is about solitary meditation. That was fine, when it was possible, but in our culture, if you’re going to go out into the forest and remove yourself from any contact with people you’re probably going to starve to death. That’s one of the reasons we have spiritual communities. Within the context of your interactions with human beings, you can become a very discriminating person, and that’s a positive thing.

So don’t think automatically that connectedness and attachment are bad things. Let’s think about not holding on. When it’s time to move on, you need to develop some awareness and ability to do so. You have to develop the strength to be able to simply move on when it’s time. That will deal with the whole issue of attachment.

Intention Is the Foundation of Our Spiritual Life

Our intention is the foundation of our spiritual life. When we have an intention that we hold in our heart and live from every day, we are focused and we have the capacity and potential to succeed in our lives. Without an intention, we are ungrounded, unfocused, and consumed by the tensions and pressures that we encounter.

There are layers and levels of intention. Some of you might think, “Okay, now I need to have an intention and I’d better think one up.” That’s great, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you found it difficult to hold to after a while. In developing an intention, you don’t want to think one up, but rather to come into contact with and be aware of the bigger intention that your life has for itself–an intention that’s bigger than your mind and bigger than your ego and comes from a profoundly deep place with you. It may take you a while to get in touch with this place.

The most important thing about intention is that it should come from a place within you that is true and enduring, so that the recognition of your intention will sustain you through all of the different seasons of your life. There will be some rich and full and vital and vibrant times in your life, and there will be some cold, hard, challenging times. Having an awareness of the intention that your life has for itself will allow you, in all the seasons of your life, to appreciate the unity and perfection of your life as it is unfolding.

If your intention comes from a deep place, you will be sustained by its truth and its power. You will develop a capacity for discrimination that allows you to navigate the short term challenges of  daily life in a way that is completely in harmony with the long term, larger challenges. You will be able to find in your days and your months and your years and in your seasons and cycles an integration that is continuously nourishing, even when it is frustrating.

A Simple Matter of Love and Respect

The proliferation of experts in the media who bombard us with opinions these days is a reflection of the way we operate in our own lives. Each of us tends to have an opinion about everyone else’s problems. We also tend to have the opinion that if they just did what we said, everything would be fine. We believe that others need our opinions.

It’s interesting to see the way the world works, because it’s populated with people who are frozen in their opinions and attitudes in relation to everyone else in their life. This network of frozen-ness extends throughout the whole world. Every person thinks they know better than everyone else. That’s one of the main reasons the world is in the sorry state it’s in today.

Swami Muktanananda always used to say, “I welcome you all with love and respect.” He used to talk about the highest sadhana (spiritual practice) being simply to treat everyone with love and respect. To do that, we have to come to a place within ourselves where we don’t have any judgments, attitudes and opinions about anyone. We allow them the space to work out their own tensions and to be nourished as they do that. In creating this space for each other, we are accessing that space and making it more available for ourselves.

Our opinions and our attitudes and our judgments of others also obstruct us. They are an expression of the most limited aspect of us, which completely undermines the opportunity we have to experience the finest place within us. That finest place is also the ultimate reality. It would be a good thing to free ourselves from the burden of our attitudes and judgments and opinions because, at the same time, we are freeing everybody else of them.

A New Set of Priorities

Most of the time we are living in reaction to our circumstances with a set of agendas that are limited–job, food, sex, that kind of stuff. Those are the things that usually engage us, and that’s how most people live.

Living like that evokes all of our fears and engages all the defensive routines we have developed or inherited. We do what our minds tell us we ought to do. A lot of it is struggle. We never get to the place where we can deal with it because we are so busy relating to our external circumstance that we suppress all of our own feelings about those circumstances in order just to keep going.

We don’t realize that there is  a whole different dimension of well-being present within us all the time. There is no circumstance outside us that bring this well-being into us. It’s already there. What we need to is to begin to invest our energy in being in contact with that well-being and starting to live from it. That gives rise to a whole new set of priorities.

Living from that well-being releases us from all of the shoulds and oughts. It releases us from the obvious pathways through which we might be expressing ourselves in our lives and enables us to travel an uncommon pathway, one in which we are living from love. That pathway might not be the most financially rewarding. It may not be something that gains peoples’ approval. But it is a pathway that will fulfill us completely.

The Expression of Creative Energy

We are in this world to grow in our awareness of that which is truly alive within us. That vibrant stillness that animates this body and is the dynamism of our mind is the whole reason why we are here. Making contact with that dynamism and immersing ourselves in the creative energy that is the essence of what we are is the point of our presence on this planet.

The creative energy that animates us has its own agenda for us that has nothing to do with what Mom and Dad told us. It has nothing to do with any of our worldly agendas. It has everything to do with waking up our hearts and minds and souls and beginning to allow our creative energy to inform us about how it wants to express itself through the veil of this body/mind.

In the expression of our creative energy what grows within us is understanding, sensitivity and joy. Life becomes less about struggle and fear and tension and depression and despair and suffering. It becomes more about the liberation of our creative energy from the disappointments of our ancestors and the realization of a possibility that is present within us. That possibility is within everyone, and it’s profound.

All of our entanglement and the agendas we have in this world to acquire things we think we need to acquire takes our attention away from the source of our life and the fulfillment of our purpose in this world.  Our attention becomes externalized and locked in it, and our creative energy is absorbed in a mass of tension. Our system just shuts down.

I suggest you look at all the things you’re doing and see if your worldly activities and agendas are aligned with the deepest potential that is present within the core of your being.

A Clear Pathway

It is extraordinarily simple, and really important and powerful for each of us to understand that we are in this world to grow. That growth does not happen from any circumstance that we desire. It happens when we understand that there is no circumstance that we require and that only the awareness of the vibrancy of life itself circulating within us is needed. As that grows and transforms the entire field of  our awareness, the vibration in us will bless us in ways that are unimaginable, with better things than we could ever want. But as long as we’re chasing things outside ourselves, we’re screwed, to put it bluntly.

Our bodies and our minds have to be aligned in this understanding, so that the spirit, the vibrancy that is the soul of our life has a clear pathway to express itself in the field of our experience. Otherwise, as it wakes up it gets entangled in a whole ton of ego complication which has nothing to do with anything and takes us decades to work through. Decades.

The fact of the matter is that most people don’t understand what spiritual practice is. Some energy comes into their existence and activates all of their desires and ambitions and egotism, none of which have anything to do with spirituality at all. Cutting through that is the whole work of any kind of spiritual growth, so that we can continuously and quickly come back to stillness and endure in the  awareness of the vibrancy of life itself from within. That’s what growth is about.