Let Consciousness Be Your Teacher
"People say, 'in this world there needs to be peace.' I say, 'No, in your world there needs to be peace. It is within you.' Do whatever is necessary and find peace in your in your life, and be content. And if you don't find it, I can help." - Prem Rawat
August 27, 2008
Well... I just came back from visiting my 93-year old father in Florida. He's one tough man, but he's on his way out -- suffering these days from congestive heart failure, lymphoma cancer, loss of hearing, and increasing kidney problems. We were sitting in his living room, Beijing Olympics turned off, when he turns to me, his arms black, blue, and purple from all the blood tests and says...
"These days it's all about doctors and needles. Where is the reward?"
Father of two, grandfather of five, great grandfather of four, he could not -- at that moment -- find any redeeming grace in his life, any proof that his life was well-lived. He could not identify the "reward" for all his many heroic efforts.
Several times, over the years, I've done my best to bring this topic to the table, in words he might understand, with not a whole lot of success. Now, at the end of his days, we were both sitting there in the stillness, his question echoing in the room:
"Where is the reward?"
One thing I've learned is that answering this question is not easy. Words do not cut it. Nor do books, pep talks, poetry, or procrastination. The answer to my father's question needs to come from within. When I stop and reflect on my dad's question, the answer I get is that the reward people are seeking is the experience of LOVE and GRATITUDE in the present moment.
For some of us, "reward" has come to mean retirement or recognition or financial security or comfort or the promise of heaven. Um... I don't think so... and only have to look into the eyes of my dying father to know that for sure.
And so, dear friends known and unknown, I humbly invite you to reflect on my father's question today: "Where is the reward?"
If you are waiting for it to come, you may want to reconsider your approach. As far as I can tell, the reward is already here and always has been. Indeed, the ultimate reward is being able to recognize and appreciate that the reward we've been seeking is already here.
Each one of us already has it. The inheritance has already been given. No lawyers are needed to help us fill out papers. No notary public is needed to stamp them.
All we need to do is feel it and give thanks.
In terms of eternity, my dad is leaving just a second sooner than the rest of us. Each of us will get our chance. As the Buddha said, "All things made of component parts eventually return to the ONE" -- be it your business, your marriage, your house, or your body.
So, while we're here, let's do everything we can to enjoy that reward. This very moment.August 15, 2008
At the Threshold
A few years ago I found myself standing in my closet, madly searching for clean clothes in a last minute attempt to pack before yet another business trip, when I noticed my 4-year old son standing at the entrance.
In one hand, he held a small blue wand, in the other -- a plastic bottle of soapy water. "Dada," he said, looking up at me, his eyes wide open, "do you have time to catch my bubbles?"
Time? It stopped. And so did I. At that moment, it suddenly made no difference whether or not I caught my plane -- I could barely catch my breath. The only thing that existed was him and that soulful look of longing in his eyes.
For the next ten minutes, all we did was play -- him blowing bubbles and laughing. Me catching and laughing, too. His need was completely satisfied. His need for connection. His need for love. His need for knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that absolutely everything was perfect just the way it was.
He is almost 15 now. His bubbles are digital. But his need is still the same. And so is mine -- and yours, I would venture to say. Scratch the surface of our differences, remove the cultural masks, and all of us -- regardless of age, religion, politics, gender, or astrological sign -- are seeking the same thing.
And this "thing" is a feeling -- a feeling of contentment, a feeling of peace, a feeling of deep freedom, fearlessness, and joy. Spiritual practitioners have been attempting to name this feeling for centuries, but ultimately it doesn't matter what it's called.
This sweetness is the place all journeys end. My son's took him across the living room to the threshold of a closet. Yours will take you other places. But no matter where it takes you, one thing is for sure -- what's moving you has moved millions of others since the beginning of time. Yours is an ancient quest. Primal. Tidal. Pure. As basic as breath itself.
For the moment, let's call this driving force "thirst" -- the innate quest each of us has for meaning, love, and fulfillment. Why poets wait beneath a moon for words. What dancers feel before they leap. Why birds fly halfway around the world to the place where they were born.
This thirst is not the same thing as "desire." Desire is wanting what you don't have. Thirst is wanting want you do. Desire assumes the emptiness you feel can be filled by getting -- as if the world was a giant puzzle and all you needed were the pieces. Thirst assumes nothing. It's all about being -- not getting or having.
The good news? You don't have to go to the Himalayas to find what you're looking for. You can start today, wherever you are. The pilgrimage you need to take is actually quite short -- merely the distance between your head and your heart. That's the so-called path.
Your guide on this journey? Thirst. All you need to do is feel it. And if you don't, then at least want to feel it. And if you still don't, then at least want to want to feel it.
Pretty simple, huh?August 12, 2008
A college professor stood before his philosophy class at the start of a new semester. Silently, he picked up a very large jar and filled it with golf balls. Then he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, pebbles settling into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students again responded with a resounding "yes."
The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured them into the jar, filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor. "I want you to understand that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things -- your family, health, friends, and feeling of well-being. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."
"The pebbles are the other things that matter -- your job, your house, your accomplishments etc. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff."
"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there's no room left for the golf balls or pebbles. The same holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you'll never have room for the things that are really important to you."
"Pay attention to the things that are essential to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the beauty of existence. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. The rest is just sand."
One of the students then raised her hand and asked what the beer represented. The professor smiled, "I'm glad you asked."
"The beer shows you that, no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers with a friend."
August 10, 2008
(Many thanks to Jan Buchalter for forwarding this sweet story...)
The gift I bought for you today
is not inside the box.
It's in the opening.
August 09, 2008
HAFIZ: Tired of Speaking Sweetly
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room by your hair,
ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
that bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
and wants to rip to shreds
all your erroneous notions of truth
that make you fight within yourself, dear one,
and with others,
cause the world to weep
on too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
lock us inside a tiny room with Himself
and practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
to do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
and shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a "playful drunken mood,"
most everyone I know
quickly packs their bags and hightails it
out of town.
(THE GIFT, Poems by Hafiz, translation by Daniel Ladinsky)
THE BEST INVITATION YOU'LL GET TODAY: Moments with Maharaji
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've probably noticed that some of the postings describe memorable moments I've had with Maharaji over the years -- interactions that taught me something useful, fascinated me, or further connected me to the joy of life.
If you have received Knowledge, I'm guessing that you've had your own moments with him -- however subtle or dramatic they may have been.
Maybe you've shared these moments and maybe not. If not, I wouldn't be surprised. It's definitely a challenge telling these stories in a way that conveys the power of their meaning to others.
True. But there are moments that can be described -- remembrances that can provide others with a catalyst for exploring the sweetness of the relationship between Maharaji and those who love him.
And so... you are hereby unofficially invited to share one of your own moments with Maharaji for possible publication on this blog. Sound good?
If so, take a few minutes now to review the following guidelines.
1. Write in your own voice -- how you say things.
2. Write for a general audience -- not just people who have received Knowledge.
3. Stay away from words, phrases, or references that would make no sense to the general public.
4. Focus mainly on your story -- less so on your commentary about your story -- though it's fine to include reflections on what your moment with Maharaji meant to you.
5. 1500 word maximum.
6. Be careful not to preach, moralize, or proselytize. Let your story deliver the message.
7. Be conscious of your use of superlatives. Saying that your experience was "incredible" or "amazing" may mean something to you, but it won't necessarily mean anything to the reader. How was it incredible? How was it amazing?
8. Include enough details about the setting of your story to give it dimension. Remember, you're writing a story -- not a treatise, discourse, or sermon.
9. By submitting your story, you are granting me permission to publish it on this blog. If your story is selected for publication, I may end up editing it. If I do, I will send you the edited version for your approval.
Please forward this invitation to anyone you know who may want to submit a "Moments with Maharaji" story for publication on this blog.August 02, 2008
Remember this Feeling?
August 01, 2008
NEWS: Maharaji's Broadcast to One Million People in India, Nepal, and Mauritius: 7/31/08
Thanks to Dagmar Zierer, Cath Carroll, Jan Buchalter, and others for forwarding their recollections and impressions of the Derby, UK broadcast.
On July 31, from The Assembly Room in Derby, England, a broadcast of an event with Maharaji went live to more than one million people in India, Nepal and Mauritius in 4,000 centers and countless other locations.
Having completed his recent European tour of Madrid, Ljubljana, Glasgow, Birmingham, Warsaw, Corleone, Palermo, Gothenberg, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Calpe, Bilbao, Torquay, Hinkley, Leicester and Tel Aviv, Maharaji was responding to an invitation for a broadcast event from people in India -- and beyond -- who hadn't yet seen him this year.
Before a local audience of about 1,200 people, mostly from Derby's Hindi speaking community, Maharaji spoke on a number of topics, including the role of the Master, recognition, and Knowledge.
The broadcast was recorded and will soon be available to Hindi speaking communities.
During his talk, Maharaji noted that when he goes to India later this year, events will be done in a different way -- something even more enjoyable than in the past:
"All I want is for you to experience the joy of Knowledge in your life," he said. "Events are not a social thing. Even if you lived on a desert island and experienced this, I would be happy. These are not just empty words. What I say, I back up. I can take you to a place within."
What follows are a selection of additional excerpts from the Derby broadcast. These excerpts are not verbatim, but are the paraphrased recollections of a few people who attended the event. Enjoy!
"That which can bring light in your darkened life is the Master --
the one who takes you out of unrest and brings you to peace."
"As soon as you get up in the morning, you remember that which preoccupies you -- be it your worries or your problems. If you worship your problems, they will increase. Instead, if you want to worry, worry about remembrance. 'May I have time today so I can practice'. But if you are really going to worship, this can only happen through the heart."
"The coming and going of my breath is my blessing."
"The true Master connects you with the inner feeling. If illusion is your Master, then the opposite happens. The consequences of devotion to the mind is a multitude of reasons which you end up using to justify any action."
"Whatever the Master says, the student should listen. Truth resides in the heart. If you want to be saved from the age of darkness, go within."
"The Master knows what you are looking for. The Master brings light into your darkened life. We have made the mind our made-up guru. Mind will have you look for God or peace everywhere -- except in the place where it is. Our nature is to get stuck in the mind, which promises joy, but never fulfills."
"The Master is the one who doesn't mind reminding you again and again. The Master reminds you to go towards your heart."
"The Master can only be recognized by one thing: not by his face, not by his physical appearance, but by what he gives: Knowledge.
This is a living Knowledge -- not bound by culture or anything at all."
"The Master sees a human being as a human being -- nothing else. The Master gives us Knowledge of the self."