Voice Dialogue

June 29, 2009

hal_sidraI am a big fan of Voice Dialogue. It is a psychological system created by two Jungian psychologists: Drs Hal and Sidra Stone.

Basically, they have devised a way for people to detach from their habits. We all have habits – the way that we spend money, relate to people and live our lives. The problem is when the habit rules us.

Learning to detach from old habits and having the freedom to choose new ones is the essence of Voice Dialogue. However, there is much more to the system that just that – especially discovering the forgotten aspects of your personality such as love, creativity, spirituality, power, self-control. We all have the capacity to experience and share so much more of our selves but often these aspects remain locked out by the force of habit.

Here is a quote from one of their books:

There is much written today about finding your soul reality. We will give you a very easy formula for discovering your soul, a formula that is simple beyond belief. Separate from your pushers of the world, both inner and outer. Get off the psychological freeway that you have been driving full time and try some of the country roads. Discover how so much of your busyness is based on your own vulnerability, something that you know very little about. Once you are off the full-time freeway, you will be amazed how your sense of soul begins to emerge and a feeling of fullness and holiness begins to be yours, both alone and in your relationship.

The Notebooks of Paul Brunton

June 28, 2009

Paul Brunton (1898 – 1981) was a British philosopher, mystic, traveler, and guru. He left a journalistic career to live among yogis, mystics, and holy men, and studied a wide variety of Eastern and Western esoteric teachings.

Dedicating his life to an inward and spiritual quest, Brunton felt charged to communicate his experiences about what he learned in the east to others. His works had a major influence on the spread of Eastern mysticism to the West.

Taking pains to express his thoughts in layperson’s terms, Brunton was able to present what he learned from the Orient and from ancient tradition as a living wisdom.

His writings express his view that meditation and the inward quest are not exclusively for monks and hermits, but will also support those living normal, active lives in the Western world.

Brunton wrote A Search in Secret India and A Search in Secret Egypt. In the former he met Ramana Maharshi, Meher Baba and other great yogis.

I haven’t read all his books, but those I have read – especially his notebooks – have been excellent. He is a talented writer and teacher.


Brunton ended up living out his days in Switzerland.


Paul Brunton’s sixteen volumes of notebooks can be found online here. Many thanks to the publishers at that site. I have put some on my iTouch using SiteSucker and Stanza.

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Another Quote from Walter Starcke

June 27, 2009

From Joel Goldsmith and I

When Gautama the Buddha received enlightenment he said, “To one who has arrived the way is foreign,” meaning that all the steps that one takes to become enlightened no longer appear reasonable or necessary once one has reached illumination.

Walter expresses here a very salient point for advaitins. “Ego-based” and “dualistic” approaches (like mantra, asana, and pranayama, etc) are valuable and should not be dispensed with prematurely. They are the raft that carries us across the ocean of samsara. The raft must be abandoned when we reach the other shore, but not before we get there! This point is missed by many neo-advaita teachers.

Divinity versus Humanity

June 11, 2009

Walter Starcke in the YouTube clip below makes a very interesting distinction between your divinity and your humanity. This is a very complicated topic and it causes many people on the spiritual path a lot of confusion.

Your humanity is the life you lead as a regular person in the world with needs, concerns, desires and duties. You have to maintain your body, pay the rent and strive to be a better person and make the world a better place. In this realm the world is perceived through the human ego as consisting of matter.

You divinity is your inherent spiritual transcendental nature and is far removed from your humanity. It knows nothing about stress, worry, sickness or obligations. It is eternally free and perfect. For this point of view everything is spirit and not matter.

The problem arises when we try to realise our divinity and reconcile the contradictions it has with our human life. When faced with a problem do we “be still” or do we take action? Oftentimes engaging in a problem just prolongs it and amounts to fighting it, but in other cases we need to engage and take action.

There are some pointers from great teachers that can help us with this dilemma. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi talks about the need for rest and activity as the basis of spiritual growth. Rest means the transcendental aspect – not engaging – and activity is the human aspect of taking action. They are the two feet that carry you forward. When one foot is stationary and at rest, the other is moving forward.

There is another saying that is useful: “highest first” This means the divine, spiritual, transcendental aspect comes first and must be our primary motivation. The secondary aspect – activity – plays a supporting role to realising the divine. This is to say that our worldly life is not for ego-gratification, but to support spiritual development. There are many opinions about how much activity is required and that depends on the individual, their needs and preferences.

Ultimately, the two are reconciled at a point where there is neither attachment or aversion. In this state, action and stillness co-exist in the mind and heart of the individual.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “Established in Being perform action.” When the mind is established in the silence of the Self then action is a divine activity rather than a human-ego activity.

It is in the Self where duality is reconciled and then statements like the following make sense:

Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river – Lao Tsu

This Double Thread

June 2, 2009

Walter Starcke (see post below) said he’s spent his whole life (90 years and counting) trying to reconcile the personal aspect of life with the impersonal – yin and yang – something that I struggle with too. Walter had two teachers in California in the 1950s who he would visit with: Joel Goldsmith and Swami Prabhavana. Joel was very impersonal and Swami was very personal. Here is an excerpt about this in from Walter’s book Joel Goldsmith and I:

The important thing about Swami is that he… was extremely personal and he made each person feel special. When I came into his presence tears of joy at seeing me would well up into his eyes, and he made me feel not only loved but worthy of being loved. If I told Swami of my problems he would listen, understand, and be so personally concerned that my problems dwindled in importance. On the other hand, if I were to tell Swami that I had a physical problem such as a stomachache, he would care so much about my stomachache that I didn’t mind having it any more – but when I left I most likely still had it.

Joel was another matter; he was almost totally impersonal. He was as happy to see you go as he was to see you come! He might let you tell him of your personal problem once so that you could get it off your chest but no more, and he most likely brushed the particulars aside as though they had no importance. However, if you rolled on the floor in pain the twinkle would leave his eyes, he would most likely grimace, and with a rather annoyed tone of voice say, “Get up, get up.” The chances were that you would get up healed!

The former is yin – enjoyable but useless. The latter is yang – practical but loveless. It was once explained to me by a very advanced yogi that these two opposites – yin and yang – are reconciled at a fine line in which each is equally balanced – where there is no attachment or aversion. Life, it seems, is constantly swinging between these two poles and our task is to keep it in balance. Easier said than done!

Walter addresses this topic in his book This Double Thread which I own, but haven’t read yet.

Walter Starcke on Joel Goldsmith

June 2, 2009

Lately, I’ve been re-reading Walter Starcke’s autobiographical account of his time with the faith healer Joel Goldsmith. It is called Joel Goldsmith and I and it is a fascinating book which covers many details you always wished you knew about Joel.

Here is an excerpt from the book about Joel’s wife Emma and her son:

Emma had come to Joel’s lectures seeking a spiritual healing for her spastic son, Sammy, whose condition the doctors said was incurable. The boy was about 7 years old at that time.

I remember the first time I saw and met Emma and Sammy. Joel and I were sitting on the lawn behind the hotel at the water’s edge around sunset one evening when we looked up and saw Emma and her son walking across the narrow sea wall that separated the Halekalani Hotel from the rest of Waikiki Beach and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, with the waves crashing on one side and a ten-foot deep ditch on the other. I was alarmed because behind her was her spastic son, staggering down the wall, arms and legs flying in all directions, about to jerk himself off the wall onto the rocks below.

Though at that time the doctors said his condition was incurable, it took some years of working with Joel for Sammy’s healing to take place. By the time he was in his teens there was no longer any sign of the physical incapacity except for a very slight speech impediment, and he eventually became an airline pilot.

Such healings were common around Joel and some of the other gifted healers in the New Thought and Christian Science movement. They were miracle workers – or rather miracles occurred through them.

I asked Swami-ji about Joel’s healing ability and he said that Joel is not actually helping these people by healing them. I assume that what he was meaning is that the search for God is usually fueled by difficult circumstances – what benefit is there in taking away that fuel?

My doubt about the work of Joel and similar people is the emphasis they put on “demonstration.” That is, manifesting their desires whether that be health, wealth or whatever.

The Vedic approach has a different emphasis – there is very little emphasis on healing the body or circumstances. Rather the emphasis is on being free of them. This reminds me of the story from the Bible (I don’t know where) in which Jesus meets a crippled woman, but instead of healing her body she has a shift in consciousness and becomes very happy.

Faith is a mighty force for making miracles happen – there is no doubt about that. But is it the best use of the mind? After all, it is only the ego that demands its own way. I asked Swami-ji about this and he said that faith is a very practical skill to have for healing etc, but it is not really the best use of the mind. The best is self-inquiry – seeing to whom this all occurs. This frees us from whatever the desire is and returns us to simple being.

Trying to change our circumstance is to not know and accept the perfection of right now – whether that be a pleasant or unpleasant experience. When the mind is pure then even painful experiences are not resisted – they are allowed to rise and can be appreciated for what they are rather than fought.

Reconciling Joel’s teaching and Vedanta is a work-in-progress for me. Joel’s work has helped me a lot, especially with expanding my view on aspects enlightenment. But when it comes down to it, Joel was a one-man band. Consequently, I am firmly on the side of Vedanta and its tradition of masters.

Travis Eneix on Fitness, Fighting, Writing and Philosophy

June 2, 2009

Travis Eneix is running a website called Adventures in Atma Vichara, Aikido, Writing and Fitness.

Travis is a 4th degree black belt and I watched some of his grading footage on YouTube – it’s very impressive. I’m familiar with the principles of Aikido, but seeing them in action was very interesting.

Also, he says that he used to weight 396 pounds (180kg), but now weighs about 185 pounds (85kg) – that amazing story is here.

Also, he has a keen interest in self-inquiry and makes some very good points about it.

Add him to your Google Reader list or RSS.