Aristotle Tells It Right

April 27, 2010

Aristotle said, “Contemplation is the highest form of activity.”

I agree with him, though I do not know the context in which it was said. However, I do know that the highest activity of a human being is awareness of God. This activity alone liberates a person from the bondage of mundane life.

You might object and say that awareness is not an activity, and you’d be right. But the activity is found in the returning again and again to awareness itself until the mind is finished and it collapses into its source.

You may also question my use of the word “God”. God is. Not as a belief or a concept, but as life itself. To become aware of the is-ness of life is to become aware of how divinity permeates everything, everywhere and exists as everything, everywhere.

This kind of contemplation may start with wondering about the form of God as an embodied deity, or it may begin with a contemplation of your own inherent divinity. It may begin with an awareness of you emotional states or intense mental considerations about the nature of life. There is no set path.

But continued, relentless inquiry will lead you to deeper and deeper appreciation of the cosmic order in life. A physicist or biologist will come to the same conclusion – that with each deeper level of creation there is more order and power.

This contemplation on the order in life – its perfection – will lead you to recognise your own order and perfection. Life is already magnificent and divine. The highest form of activity is contemplation on this truth, because in time you will realise its truth and the truth will set you free.

Let me give you an example. This week a friend of mine from high school died in what appears to be a self-induced event. Apparently he was depressed. From a localised point of view it is not a happy situation. But from a cosmic point of view there is no mistake.

“You grieve for those for whom there should be no grief, yet speak as do the wise. Wise men grieve neither for the dead nor for the living.” Bhagavad Gita 2.11

The cosmic point of view frees us from fear, doubt and the mistaken notion that something is wrong. Yes, it is true that suicide is a sad situation, but it is also true that if you resist any happening in life then you will remain resentful, bitter, confused, fearful or numb until you make your peace with it.

The Fruit of Maya

April 25, 2010

Questioner: What is the fruit of Maya?
Ramana Maharshi: That it fruitlessly vanishes into nothing, is its fruit.

Warren Buffett’s Spiritual Secret

April 23, 2010

Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffet, has written a book called Life is What You Make It-Find Your Own Path To Fulfillment. Here is part of a review:

For me one of the most touching observations that the author makes about his dad, was that he witnessed how he would sometimes go into an altered state, a “trance,” emerging with “an almost saintly calm.”

He has also likened his father’s endless hours of financial analysis to a rabbi or monk studying religious writings.

In these examples of profound influences on his life, we learn how the degree of our worldly successes greatly depends on the depth of our inward journey, and that what he calls “making life” means getting to the depths of your own creative potential so that people want to touch the work you make because the truth is irresistible.

Sitting in the Middle of the Seesaw

April 21, 2010

Following on from my post in December about values, I’ve been thinking about how we judge others according to our own values.

For a long time I looked at others through the lens of my spiritual values. If people weren’t seeking the “Kingdom of Heaven within” then I felt they were wasting their lives – selling a diamond for the price of spinach – and mentally I condemned them.

Over time I decided that my point of view was reasonable (I’m sure everyone thinks their view is reasonable!) but my attitude was wrong. There is no need to condemn anybody, no need to be self-righteous.

Frequently, I meet people who judge me according to their values. It is only natural and I don’t blame them – I do it myself. But now I see the pain that judgement brings – the duality of success/failure, rich/poor, fat/thin, intelligent/stupid. It instantly creates a life of boundaries and fears for the person who sees life this way.

When we say this is good and that is bad, then we create the tendency to run away from bad and chase good. The problem is that just by making these distinctions we make our lives divided, troubled and restless. The knowledge of good and evil takes us out of the Garden of Eden.

So what do you do if you are faced with something you don’t like? Like alcoholism in yourself or another, or criticism, or the shape of your ears? Simple. Dr D. says to write a list of 20-1000 reasons why the thing you don’t like benefits you. Write why it supports your highest values. You may be thinking that there are no benefits, but there are. There are always benefits.

There are many people who will say that the best thing that ever happened to them was being fired or a heart-attack or being dumped or beaten-up. It’s just a matter of getting a helpful perspective. You don’t have much choice in the matter. Either see it in a good light or be bitter and resentful. How do you want to feel?

So how do you want to feel about your cauliflower ears? Writing out a few benefits will quickly change your attitude. Perhaps your ears makes you less judgemental of others, more compassionate, less vain, makes you look beyond appearances, challenges you to learn how to accept things, shifts your focus to more important things in life, lets people know about your interest in rugby….

After a few reasons you’ll think that they’re not good or bad, that they just are. But if you write lots of reasons you’ll become grateful – so grateful that you will feel blessed and wouldn’t want it any other way.

This method applies to any aspect of life that we resist. It takes time and effort, but it is worthwhile. Being able to see the good in the bad and the bad in the good will neutralize any polarity. And when you are no longer bound by these dualities, then you will find a freedom that you have never known before.

Serving Makes You Happy

April 16, 2010

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. – Albert Schweitzer

I really like this quote. And a few thoughts came to mind about it recently. A person who is self-righteous will not see the value in serving others except for their own benefit. They will look down upon those whom they seek to serve, with pity, and see them as inferior. Such a person who overvalues him or herself will be distrustful, contracted and independent. They will be cynical and pessimistic.

A person who is the opposite, self-wrongeous, will minimise his or herself and will see more value in others than they see in themselves. They will support and promote others while neglecting their own needs and desires. They will trust others too quickly, be too open and quite dependent. They will see others as superior and feel a lack of self-value in themselves. They are prone to fantasy and unjustified optimism.

The balance is someone who feels equal with others – neither above nor below. They recognise that the traits of others are their own traits too, no matter how good or bad those characteristics may be. They will look at a vile person and know, “In some way I am vile too and in equal measure.” To a kind person, “The kindness I see in them is a reflection of my own self.” Such a person knows that you can’t see qualities in others that you don’t have yourself.

To find all the characteristics of humanity in yourself is to be able to relate to other people; without fear, judgement, resentment or infatuation. To relate to a child you must be familiar with the child-like part within you, to relate to a violent person you need to own your own violent tendencies.

Being able to truly serve others is thus a matter of equality. Looking down upon the people you wish to uplift only reinforces the inequality. Many attempts to serve others are in fact tinged with self-serving. Altruism has its roots in shame and guilt – a void in ourselves that we try to fill with good-doings. Notice how your altruistic tendencies only extend to the matters that are meaningful to you in some way. You may have a soft spot for homeless people, but not give a stuff about saving whales.

When a person is in balance and is not trying to fill the deficits in their personality, instead of trying to purchase a good feeling by giving something for nothing, they look for fair-exchange – a trade between equals that is mutually empowering. Their motives arise from the natural desire of the soul, rather than from personal limitations and a desire for self-gratification.

Balanced service comes from a state of fullness overflowing. When your heart is full and your mind is poised and your vision is balanced you may be inspired to serve in some way – whether that is actively participating in some cause or quietly demonstrating an enlightened life. Either way you will know that the world is not waiting for you to save it (it is not about you) nor is the world lacking divine order.

Notwithstanding the above, no matter what rotten subconscious motives there may be, any kind of service to others is a worthy and admirable action and, as Mr Schweitzer says, it will make you happy.

Pow! Right Between the Eyes

April 13, 2010

Nisargadatta dishes out the facts about reality:

We dream that we are awake, we dream that we are asleep. The three states are only varieties of the dream state. Treating everything as a dream liberates. As long as you give reality to dreams, you are their slave. By imaging that you are born as so and so, you become a slave to the so-and-so. The essence of slavery is to imagine yourself to be a process, to have past and future, to have history.

Maharishi on the Absolute

April 12, 2010

This is one of my favourite videos of Maharishi in which he explains the difference between the absolute of Vedanta and Purusha and Prakriti of Samkhya. Fascinating.