Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Way of True Practice


When I first began to meditate, I didn't really know why I was doing it.  I knew that my mind felt anxious and that I was suffering as a result.  Actually, at that time I didn't even have a sophisticated enough understanding of how my body worked to be able to say "my mind feels anxious."  I was anxious, was anxiety itself.  This I knew for sure.  Life always seemed like an unbearable daily struggle; naturally, a person can't be happy under such conditions.  I imagined there must be happiness somewhere inside of me but was unable to identify what real happiness means—or is.

That was over 20 years ago now.  During this period of time my practice has changed quite dramatically.  (Which of course is to be expected and is common over the lifestream of a Truth Seeker.)

In the beginning, I tried working with a mantra that was given to me as part of my "initiation" into Transcendental Meditation.  This particular practice didn't last very long because the mantra felt utterly unsuited to me, foreign; as a busy university student, I also had trouble with the prescribed 20 minutes 2x a day schedule.  For different kinds of reasons, what TM offered in terms of an understanding about the "what" and "why" of meditation wasn't a good fit for my nature.  However, this earlier practice had value.  Because of it, I began the beautiful and challenge-filled pursuit of aligning my way of being with the deepest truths inside me.  At the very least, I was convinced that meditation could help me to become familiar with what those deepest truths actually were!

For the next ten years or so, I did all kinds of spiritual practices.  I tried Zenning out, and making peace.  I purified my kundalini and cleansed all seven chakras.  I rode the vibratory frequencies of alternate dimensions.  By the light of the moon I called in St. Germain, who must have descended to my aid with a retinue of winged children by his side... I know this because of the incredible feeling of expansion in my sacrum.

I alternated recitation of my prayers to Jesus—the go-to remnants of a Christian childhood—with pranayama breathwork.  I learned the words "purusha" and "prakriti" and "vasana."  I was sattvic in word and deed most of the time, except when my gunus were imbalanced.  I became a Bodhisattva.  I became a karma yogi.  I became a renunciate.  I became an athiest.  I became a Goddess.  I fell in love with my pain.  I married God.  I stopped meditating because there is no meditator.  I stopped saying "I" because there is no self.

As you can see, I kept pretty busy.  It's almost the same story as yours probably.  (Yes, the chapters or flavours may be different.  We need that to keep us on our toes and interesting to each other...)

The big problem in this early stretch of the journey was that my practice was loaded with friction because I didn't know who I was.  Nobody told me.  None of the techniques I tried were delivered (by others) nor enacted (by me) with a clear picture of what I already am and always have been, which is the only thing that should matter to the meditator.  They were based on the philosophy that something was missing, that I had to improve myself, that I had to enhance or get rid of something, that I wasn't complete.  That there was something I could do to rectify this dire state of affairs.  And this had the backwards effect of entrenching and perpetuating the original anxiety.  Anyone can agree that, above all, a person doesn't meditate to inadvertently get more anxious!

If someone had told me there is nothing I can do about the fact that I already always AM, I would have learned to relax a long time ago.  I would have sat in peace.

Every school of meditation gave me a technique sold as a means of reaching a place or state called heaven or enlightenment or liberation or self-realization.  They all made me think I needed to put my attention on something foreign to myself.  None of them could convey deeply enough that the immediate moment's ever-present enlightened nature can be confirmed by just sitting and quietly LOOKING at it; nor did they impart that this truth is confirmable in such an unimaginably simple manner because "the immediate moment" (a.k.a. life, the universe, existence etc.) cannot be other than what "I" am—which, by the way, is a pretty BIG PICTURE reality that I might want to be paying attention to.

This information I should have had from the start.  It would have saved a lot of time and hardship.  It's probably the same for you.  But according to eternally mysterious factors, for most of us "that's just the way the cookie crumbles" in this game of leela.  We usually suffer for a few decades until we can't stand ourselves anymore and finally surrender all our effort and guilt and petty arrogance and hopes and fears to the Big Picture that's always here—the Infinite and Magical Immediate Moment, the Unknowable Knowledge, the Self... One's Own Ever-Present Being.

This surrender becomes not an isolated act or an event, but a never ending process of authentic self-discovery.  It is why the meditator meditates.  Expressing this is our fundamental, direct concern.  It is our only business in the chair or on the cushion.

In Zen, this was called the Family Business.  "The Family Business" is more inclusive than Zen, closer than any tradition, subtler than any teaching, purer than any person, bigger than any concept.  At a certain stage of meditation practice, one recognizes oneself as a sincere practitioner of the Family Business by becoming free of all that.  The meditator learns to stop importing somebody else's words, regurgitating them over and over until turning blue in the face—and sad in the heart.  She or he learns that Silence is the only true teacher and, in Quiet Sitting, stays still and patient in the midst of It.  He or she lives trusting in himself or herself.  She knows that she is Life Itself, which is beauty and wonder and grace.  He gives his love, his devotion, his energy and focus to This.  They Sit.  We Sit.

Sitting Sits.  Quietly.  Humbly.  Consistently.  Earnestly.  This is the legacy of the Ancestors who have so generously communicated how they had to leave all concepts behind and just be.  We take their encouragement to the chair or cushion, into the whole of our lives.  This reveals the boundlessness of the universe, the infinity of the Immediate Moment, the unity of all things—this that is saying "I."

This is the way of true Practice.

  

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Infinite SIZE - Part 2


Dear Readers,

I'm thinking that it's time to spend some more time figuring out the world of Blogging.  If anyone has any creative ideas for me, I welcome them!  I'd like to develop a blog that reflects the SIZE of what it is we're talking about here, which is the size of what one actually is.  You, I mean.  What you are and the presently here billions of endless galaxies cannot be "two."  It's impossible.

So that's what I'll be writing about more and more.  Mostly because my Teacher thinks I should.  But also partly because I see very little out there in the way of the written word that communicates what the Dharma of Today is truly about.  

The Dharma of Today has nothing to do with yesterday.  It has nothing to do with traditions or sutras, fancy robes or pointy hats.  Stephen Hawking has said something to the effect of: "We don't need spirituality anymore.  We have facts."  So you could say that the Dharma or Spirituality of Today is simply about this.  Facts.  If you don't base your spiritual life in facts, what value could it possibly have?

So let's start with the fact that the universe is infinite.  The fact is we now have the Hubble and our own (in Canada) Chris Hadfield, taking pictures in every conceivable direction and confirming that there is no beginning or ending to this incredible majestic mind-blowing Moment.  Science is becoming our greatest ally in our conscious surrender to the magic that's spinning our own trillions of cells, the same magic that's breathing us and digesting our food and thinking our thoughts and doing all the other things that make up the "me" package.  It's the same magic that has the capacity to perceive "me" as a separate thing, a perceptual twist generated by the Magic Itself.  So if you look at any photo of the galaxies you can simply realize: "I am actually this big (!), never limited by my conception of myself as a discreet entity."

We didn't have these aids a couple of thousand years ago when people like Jesus and the Buddha were telling us "Everything is True Nature" and "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within."  Unfortunately, out of Jesus' teachings we somehow got the concept of original sin, and out of the Buddha's teachings we got "life is suffering."  A lot of persuasive black magic got thrown in over these years of religious fervor, and now you can check out the planet to see the results in humanity's behaviour.  As it stands, we're the only species that doesn't act normal and natural on this precious life-bearing orb we inhabit.

If you look at yourself though a telescope or microscope, where is original sin?  Where is suffering?  In actual fact, Life Itself is free of all this.  Sin is a ridiculous, small concept of the thinking mind, and suffering is the consequence.  And this "karma"—the whole hamster wheel of sin and suffering—is happening only inside the human animal's brain, which tragically hasn't learned to check out a photo from the Hubble and apply what it sees to the fact of what the word "I" refers to.  It hasn't been presented with an image like the one below and contemplated on it for a few seconds.  If it did, everything would become instantly "normal" again.




In this Here-Now Moment, the word "I" is said by the universe—to, for and by Itself.  That's it.  When an astronomer looks through a telescope, this is all he or she is studying.  When a biologist or a farmer-gardener digs into the dirt, this is all she or he is nurturing.  When a meditator sits, this is all this person needs to remember.

And it never ends, you see.  The Infinite is the Infinite.  I Am This.  We can "look" at This forever.

The SIZE of the Moment cannot be imagined by the thinking mind, which is why we confirm what we are by being still... by keeping quiet.

BE STILL is the Dharma of Every Day.  This is the biggest possible concept.  The simplest.  It leads to the recognition that no concept can ever in any way alter what you are.  And through it, the entire Cosmos effortlessly flows. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Nonduality Buzz

 
Dear Friends,

Last week I was invited to participate as a speaker at an event focused on the subject of "Nonduality."
It turned out to be a very BUSY experience!  Lots of talking!!!!!!!!  When my time came I spoke about the Size of the Universe, pointed to the importance of Just Sitting meditation as a way of confirming this Immensity and also sat quietly with the group for awhile.

It seems the event organizer wasn't very happy with my contribution to the event.  He has already invited me back next year, but only if I can agree to structure the presentation in a different way.  Otherwise, he writes, he will have to begin looking for another nondual meditator to fill the spot I held on the program.

(Suddenly, I notice what it must feel like to be a lab rat...)

Then he follows up by telling me I should read Krishnamurti or The Heart Sutra so I can know that "it is all right here right now... meditation is practicing for the future."  Hmm, sounds like someone's trying really hard to convince me of something, eh?

Anyhow, I thought my response might be of value to some.  Here I offer it.

With love,
Sally

*   *   *

There is no such thing as a "nondual meditator."
This concept is a lie.

I could never call myself a nondual meditator, nor any other kind of meditator.  I just meditate.  That is, I simply sit, every day, without labeling myself or others—without saying something about what Reality is.  This is what "practice" means.  In the end, it's the only thing that matters to me.  If I do not meditate, all my talk, philosophies, writings, studies etc. have no intrinsic, authentic value.  In that case they are just regurgitated concepts that somebody else invented or wrote down. 

The real work is the confirmation, in silence, of what all the great saints and sages have been pointing to.  This encouragement is what I share with those whose hearts are open to listening, and I urge them to check it out and see for themselves.  In each one of us, ultimately "I" can be the only legitimate authority regarding what "I" actually is.

The most important thing I can ever read is my own Being, and then the infinite size of this reveals its ongoing expansion and availability.  Otherwise, I'll never become familiar with the True Nature of what it is that's sitting on my chair or cushion.  I'll never recognize the immensity, boundlessness and all-inclusiveness of the Moment exactly the way it is—the way it already always has been, without something added.  I'll never just be naturally myself.  I'll never truly love what I am.


To learn to be quiet inside, allowing the Entire Cosmos to effortlessly express Itself, takes practice.  To stop "interfering" by getting mentally involved in concepts requires perseverance, patience and great humility.  This is called Abidance, and through it eventually one intimately accords with the source of all Knowledge.  Before anything is said, Self-Knowledge is complete, if one is willing to look in stillness. 

The fruits of earnest, committed Practice spill over into every aspect of a person's life. 

Those who are not inclined to meditate will not comprehend what I am speaking of.   



Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Always, Opportunity to Inquire

 
Dear Friends,

I have had an article published in the "International Journal of Nondual Psychology" through the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.  The paper is entitled "SELF-INQUIRY: Life's Most Empirical Investigation."

Summary:
This paper discusses investigative Self-Inquiry from a highly practical and methodological perspective.  The approach is laid out for the practitioner in a manner akin to solving a research problem or thesis.   A systematic exploration into the nature of Self is revealed to be a natural consequence of the question “What do I know with absolute certainty?”  This question initiates a process that involves defining concise orienting parameters—scope and methodology—within which to carry out an effective inquiry.   In the immediate moment, the research tool of the investigator’s own innate questioning capacity is applied directly to herself or himself.  The curiosity and earnestness to discover the whole truth of what I am is then reinvested into the already present knowledge that “I am.”  From ongoing, genuine Self-Inquiry, one abides strongly in the True Nature of reality.

I hope this short piece can be of great support to Seekers of Truth.

http://paradoxica.ca/self-inquiry-lifes-most-empirical-investigation/

With love,
Sally

Monday, 11 February 2013

Family Day 2013

Today is Canada's first official "Family Day."

I made a little video in celebration of families everywhere!  (Plus, you see a little window into my crazy-kooky-wonderful family...)


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Just Love, That's All

There's an old lady I know (in her 90's) who's a very unhappy person.  She has been unhappy her whole life, which of course is a great tragedy.  Now that she's in assisted living, with her body breaking down and dementia taking over her mind, she pretty much just wants to check out.  For as long as I've known this person, she has never been able to express love in a natural, authentic way.  She grew up thinking she wasn't lovable, and certain close family ties didn't give her reason to think otherwise.  Her way of covering up her believed lack of lovability has been to close down through judging others and immersing herself in superficial, material concerns.

Obviously, it isn't very enjoyable to spend much time hanging around with someone like that, and I have no doubt that her strategies for protecting herself served to drive the early conditioned belief structure even deeper.  There's nothing that isn't sad about a life lived in this way.

I wrote a thank-you letter to this old lady after Christmas.  I found myself telling her about my book, but in language she might be able to understand.  When I reread what what is written in the letter, it seems full of cliches, and yet it's all true!  Who knows?  Maybe it will reach her in such a way that she'll feel inspired to knock on the door of her neighbour down the hall, just to say "hi."  Maybe a little flame will flicker in her heart, even for a fleeting moment.  Maybe life won't seem so bad for a day or so.

 
Dear [Old Lady in my Life],

This note comes full of gratitude for your Christmas thoughts and wishes, and I’ll take the opportunity to tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to these days!

Well, I’m officially a self-published author.  I wrote a book called The Selfward Facing Way, which is the fruit of my many years of meditation practice.  It’s basically encouragement for people to let go of all their problems and to not complain about anything, because life is a precious and beautiful gift.  For those of us who have shelter, clothing and food on the table we are very lucky and blessed in our lifetimes.  We are certainly much better off than most of the world’s people, who for all kinds of reasons do not have the ability to fulfill these most essential of human needs.  

We are also very privileged to have love in our family.  Most people don’t recognize how loved they are, which is a great tragedy!  Because they think they are unloved, they don’t reach out with all the love that is in them to give... an even bigger tragedy!  We can naturally and freely give love—to our families and our neighbours and everyone around us—and by giving love we never lose a thing.  In fact, the more love we give the more love we FEEL, which means if we once thought we weren’t lovable, we get to prove ourselves wrong.  We can learn that when we give love to others, we are actually giving it to ourselves!  That’s a fabulous opportunity, no matter what age you are.  And you don’t have to be afraid, because love’s “job” is to destroy all fear.  So we can trust it with all our might.

People have all kinds of excuses not to give love, like:
“But I am in pain.”
“But so-and-so hurt me.”
“But I don’t know how.

But, but, but!  All these but’s are really just boring excuses to not give (and thereby receive) LOVE.

Love is the only thing that makes life worthwhile.  The only reason that each one of us is here on this Earth is to love, no matter what our life circumstances and no matter what happened to us in the past.  No circumstance or happening is a barrier to our ever-present capacity for loving.  Love has no restrictions or boundaries.  The fact that we are is actually perfect evidence of love’s existence.  So all we have to do is share what we already are.  That’s what makes life so simple, if we allow it by letting love guide our precious moments, and this is essentially the theme of my book.

The photos are of me with my percussion band.  I play shaker and bells.  We get invited to community marches and outdoor festivals to share our African, Cuban and Brazilian rhythms.  We’re quite well known here in Victoria.  Wherever we play, people love to dance!

The photo of Mom & me was taken recently by 4-year old [niece] at the airport when I was coming back to the Island.  She captured a beautiful moment!

Love you, [Old Lady].  I will come to see you in 2013...     Sal xo