The Skill Set

Gift by Byte Rider

All of us come in with natural gifts. Some we’re born with and some arise over time. They’re natural qualities of the framework we’re born with. Our society places an emphasis on things like smarts, perceived beauty, athletic ability, and extroversion. But our gifts can take many forms – even to be a disrupter. They can be physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, intuitive, empathic, or spiritual. Trouble is, our gifts may seem quite ordinary to us. Often we’ll need feedback from others to recognize their value. They’ll be extraordinary for them, like healing, composing music, or physical stamina. If we don’t … Continue Reading…

What Awakens?

Cat by Iezalel Williams

Fundamentally, consciousness is simply aware. Then it becomes self-aware and interacts with itself, causing the appearance of forms and phenomena to arise. This self-interacting dynamic is true both cosmically and locally. We can say consciousness is nested or in layers. With a transcending practice like effortless meditation, we go beyond the mind and emotions, settling into simple awareness without content, pure consciousness. In its pure form, it is beyond time and space, infinite and eternal. This is usually how people come to know consciousness itself – simply resting in their own nature. And yet, often we only notice a pause … Continue Reading…

Breath Stopping

Being There by Cattan2011

Breath stopping came up on Transcending so I thought it worth breaking the points out into an article. In a transcending meditation practice we quickly settle within. As we settle the mind, the body also settles. Oxygen consumption and other metabolic indicators drop. In a typical session, this can be 30-60%. When we transcend the practice into samadhi (also called turiya or pure consciousness), we may notice a brief period of inner silence or no thoughts along with very deep relaxation. But when we notice, the mind starts to think about it and the metabolism rises some again. Or the … Continue Reading…

Transcending – The Means

bubble diagram

Regular readers know I frequently mention effortless meditation. This is because of the key role it plays in culturing the ground for enlightenment. Over time, I’ve come to see its value more and more deeply. Yet there’s a key point about practices to make. Enlightenment isn’t caused by anything we do. It arises from the grace of the Divine. The purpose of spiritual practices is not to get enlightened but to prepare the ground. Then when grace arises, the shift is more likely to be smooth and supported. If the ground is not ready, grace will come as a profound … Continue Reading…

The Digesting Fires

Mush by Caroline

Primordial Agni is the fire or driving force and light of creation. In essence, it is intelligent flow. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called it Creative Intelligence. It shows up on every level as transformation – the fires of dissolution and of creation. The key with transformation is balance. Balance sustains the universe while allowing transformation. Too much fire and too much gets destroyed. Anger, frustration, acid reflux, and Pitta imbalance are some ways this manifests. Too little fire and things are not digested properly. They go toward too much air and ungroundness (Vata) or an excess of sludge and inertia (Kapha). … Continue Reading…

Austerity

Emaciated Siddhartha, photo by Akuppa John Wigham

In spiritual traditions the world over, austerities have been considered a key requirement for spiritual progress. Shankara, for example, revived the monastic tradition in India and there has been a clear lineage since. Buddha gave up his royal role and withdrew to the forest. St. Francis of Assisi did similar. However, a large part of this has been because of the age or Yuga we’ve been in. We needed to withdraw from the thick mud of the world to go within. Our age has changed. In the 60s and 70s, millions of people took up meditation, gradually clearing theirs and … Continue Reading…

Mind Awareness

Sunday Morning Pleasures by Caroline

Most people experience awareness through the mind. We may well think our mind’s awareness and understanding is consciousness. Our daily experience can easily verify this impression. As the physiology cycles though the states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, the mind is drawn along for the ride. This carries mind awareness too. Consciousness does seem to be a side-effect of brain functioning. The brain is an interface like a radio receiver – it doesn’t produce anything we experience. Our senses gather information and the brain filters the data for relevance and passes it on to the mind. The mind builds the … Continue Reading…

Where is the Resistance?

Resistance by Monika

The experience of resistance can be a very useful flag. But it’s important to look into it and see where it’s coming from. Is it within us or from around us? Where do we feel it? If an event arises in life and we have a strong and sustained reaction, we know there is an inner resistance and an emotional charge here to be resolved. For example, someone makes an off-hand comment that dismisses something important to us. Do we roll our eyes or flame up in anger and resentment? The latter shows a past experience is influencing our present. … Continue Reading…

The Backlog

Filing Pile by Cas

The old texts tell us we have mountains of unresolved experiences (karma) in our catalogue. When we learn how to heal and accept experiences that arise, it can seem like an endless task. And that’s just the “suitcase” we came into this life with. What the heck is the point of doing all this work when we have such an endless backlog? It’s important to understand that the purpose of practices of acceptance and healing are not to fix ourselves. We couldn’t possibly process every unresolved experience from innumerable lives. The point of such practices is to shift how we … Continue Reading…

The 10 Bulls

Longhorn Bull by Larry Smith

There is a famous series of 10 panels (below) portraying the stages of enlightenment from a Zen Buddhist perspective. They are known as the 10 Bulls or Oxen. I’ve touched on these before but it’s come up a few times recently so I thought it worth doing an article on the topic. I am not a Buddhist scholar nor practitioner but have studied the basics. The approach has never appealed because of the style of experience here. Self has been conscious since I was 20 so I don’t relate to a no-self or emptiness approach. I also see modern Buddhism … Continue Reading…

The Sex Chakra

bears kiss

Sex is fundamental to our nature as humans. We have an imperative to reproduce. Most cultures set expectations around sex to ensure healthy outcomes. For example, a committed relationship. This ensures the resulting off-spring are cared for and people are treated respectfully. Too often, expectations become rules that lead to suppression. The powerful energies of creativity are distorted by unnatural guidelines. For example, in the grand cycles of time, spirituality came to emphasize renunciation and celibacy. Yet only a small percent of the population is suited to long-term celibacy. Adopting it inappropriately leads to it leaking out in unhealthy ways. … Continue Reading…

In the Big Picture

Milky Way from Big Bend by Vincent Lock

If we see our lives as small and insignificant, we may be excused for spending it on escape. If we see our efforts at spiritual progress as temporary and with limited benefit, we can be excused for drifting away. But this is thinking small. I’ve mentioned before how Atman and Sattva, consciousness and clarity, are cumulative through lifetimes. Let’s look at this more closely. With the right practices and circumstances, we very much have the potential to awaken in this lifetime. Not everyone will shift, perhaps because of karmic backlog. But none of it is a waste. When the body … Continue Reading…