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Thursday February 15th

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  • andrew macnab
    Thank you all for your comments. It is interesting to see how people hear and respond to this question. The goal I refer to is Self-realization, not a
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 16, 2001
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      Thank you all for your comments. It is interesting to see how people
      hear and respond to this question.

      The goal I refer to is Self-realization, not a particular experience
      or outcome. I believe that is why we are born in a human body and
      that we will all eventually 'get there'. It is difficult to speak
      about spiritual matters because of paradox and because we are trying
      to put words to something that is not on a verbal level.

      Still, in this body, in this life, for most of us, something stands in
      the way of realizing the Truth. Whether we call that realization of
      no-self or the Divine or whatever doesn't really matter to me. What
      keeps us from abiding in the Truth at all times? It is one thing to
      say there is no barrier, there is no path. We have only to realize.
      Partly, the path is the how (to realize there is no path). There are
      many paths up the mountain.

      Contemplating the thought that there is no mountain and there is
      no path may help me to realize. We can learn from many enlightened
      sages, from their example and experience.

      We all have choices about what we do with our minds and hearts. We
      have karma, samskaras and vasanas (grooves and patterns of the mind)
      which give a certain momentum. If I were to lay on the couch eating
      ice cream and chocolates and watching Julia Roberts movies for a week
      that would affect me in a different way than if I was to spend a week
      in silence, going within. Our focus and choices affect the momentum,
      strengthen certain grooves and weaken others.

      For me, my meditation practice is a way of strengthening and
      purifying my mind and heart so that I can see more clearly. This too
      works on so many levels. Love, faith, trust, devotion, yearning for
      Truth - these help me to open to grace. It's not a mechanical process
      and it's not something I 'do', even though there are systematic steps
      and techniques to follow.

      I can cultivate this awareness or I can turn my face away. This
      can be very subtle at times, and I think this is the 'spiritual
      apathy'. It takes courage to face ourselves, to be honest, to allow
      more and more of ourselves into our awareness. To let the ego go, to
      let my construct dissolve. There are many ways to slip off the
      razor's edge. One is by doing things in life that are not conducive
      to staying awake. We can blunt our awareness with food, movies,
      drugs, talking, etc etc.

      My teacher talks about abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa is practice,
      sustained effort, sustained attention or awareness. Vairagya is
      non-attachment. Both are needed.

      We don't see what we don't see. Having guidance from a teacher and/or
      sharing with others can be helpful because sometimes they see
      something we can't. Sometimes they're full of it too. :) And it's
      a comfort and inspiration to know there are others on the 'path' (so
      to speak).



      ...Each word carries its own truths, just look into them and there is
      nothing that is not "self-realized". This sentence: "the goal I
      to is Self-Realization, not a particular experience or outcome", is
      interesting, in that it sets out a "goal", but then refutes the idea
      of a goal by stating, that the goal is not a particular experience or
      outcome. I believe that by definition, a goal is an outcome, and is
      usually considered to be an experience. So in this way, you
      illustrate that spiritual matters are difficult to speak about, but
      with a certain clarity, and with, perhaps, more time and with precise
      definitions of all terms, understood by all persons, then it is not
      difficult. (I sense what you are getting at with your first
      statement, and use it simply as an example of how our use of language
      might be the problem, not necessarily the translation of "what is",
      into language).

      ...Nothing keeps us from abiding in the Truth at all times. There can't
      be anything but abiding in the Truth at all times. But if you call
      that life, or problems or barrier, then it becomes that for you. If
      you call it abiding in the truth at all times, then that's what it

      ...But for a person, there is only the path, the truth and reality of
      their "path", their being, so there is only one path.

      ...In some sense, there are no enlightened sages. On a moment to moment
      basis, what is appearing is "what is", and all persons, things,
      situations are aspects of that, and so each person speaks, acts,
      bears and embodies the truth. With this mind, everyone is a teacher.

      ... There are certain aspects of consciousness that
      seem to take place at a level that may not be accessible. The
      grooves are not apparent except through activity, and observation, but not
      knowable as some object--something happens, it "goes into the groove"
      and the response comes up. By this process, we can know the groove,
      because we can study the response. And probably deal with the
      But this set of grooves, can we know them?

      ...Many people are not
      remotely interested in spiritual practice. That might be apathy.
      Perhaps what you describe, even the turning away, is cultivating
      awareness, in that you know the difference between one kind of
      activity and another. I say above that it is all "abiding in the
      truth", but abiding is abiding, and non-abiding is not abiding, and
      there is a kind of discrimination around that.

      Just a few thoughts. Terry


      What does it mean to have a (spiritual) practice? Would you say you
      have a practice? Is it possible to have one? Is it possible to not
      have a practice?



      ....practice is simply remembering that just as everyday the body must be
      fed food, the mind fed words, the heart fed sensations, the spirit must be
      fed love (eros, storge, philia and agape)...the body and not body are not
      the self...the mind and not the mind are not the self....the heart and not
      heart are not the self...the spirit alone is nought...it is spirit itself
      enfolds all of these including itself in an integral embrace of love
      embracing love and unfolding love itself...this is what my daily practice
      has taught me...not as to what and how each of us practices...there are many
      dharma doors...many paths ...many ways...but they all end at the top of the
      same sacred mountain.....^^~~~~~

      further up and further in,

      white wolfe


      The natural mind which is present in everyone is already enlightened.
      This need not be taken on faith but can be understood directly if one stops doing
      the things one is continually doing. A practise is a way of stopping doing, of
      not-doing. It's a way of being detached; from knowledge, from mental states...
      Detachment is not what it's all about, understanding is.
      It seems to me that there are stages one goes through in practise, one might
      start out with a goal in mind, then after a while, one might no longer have a goal,
      but still keep practising for the pleasure of it and the benefits like calmness and
      clarity it seems to imbue, and finally one might just practise for no reason, it just
      being integral to the day's being. This seems to be the case whatever the practise is.



      ºWhat does it mean to have a (spiritual) practice?

      I couldn't possibly know how it is to have such a practice
      but during life I met a few practitioners of Hatha Yoga,
      Tibetan Buddhism, "renegade" Tibetan tantra, and Hare Krishna's...
      And as a "strong" figure of speech, "I would rather be dead" than
      having to live with the "results" of such practice...
      (The practitioners weren't particularly happy despite long practice...)

      ºWould you say you have a practice?

      I didn't have a practice, being "thrown into awareness" without
      prior knowledge of anything called "spiritual". An analogy can be found
      in the "Asterix" cartoons - the case of Obelix...

      ºIs it possible to have one?

      Of course - it would be a sensible approach to "undo" the involuntary
      conditioning, one has been exposed to since birth...

      ºIs it possible to not
      ºhave a practice?

      Yes - that happens when conditioning wasn't accepted but only "acted when
      and the greatest one (saying "this" but doing "that") didn't enter the mind...



      Some want to become enlightened. They seek this not to find the truth
      of who they are. Rather, they wish to become the next buddha or the
      next christ. Once this exalted state is reached they plan to save the

      Ahem... there can be only one!


      Peace - Michael


      What a dumbass thing to say. Only one - HA!

      OK - wise guy - which one is it?

      EVERYONE! hooha!

      Peace - michael


      Now you see it now you don't.

      Abacadabra and hocus pocus.

      Tag! You are what you seek.
      Who? Me?
      Yes, dear, you!
      But I'm so ordinary!
      Yes, just another divine thing.



      Peace - Michael


      James Bean sent this:

      The Light of God is Within Everyone

      Spending time daily in
      silent meditation helps us
      commune with our true self and the Divine
      Power that created us. Those moments are
      filled with bliss, peace, and love. As we
      enter the inner sanctum of our hearts, we
      find that there is Light within us. That
      Light is the Light of the Creator. The
      realization dawns on us that the same Light
      that is within us is in all other human
      beings. We start to recognize that Light
      within others. Then the outer differences
      that separate us start to dissolve. We no
      longer see a person's hair color, eye color,
      or skin color. We no longer see the way
      people dress or speak. Instead we see one
      Light expressed by many different outer
      coverings, each beautiful in its own way.

      -- Sant Rajinder Singh, from, "Living Human Unity"


      Dear Jerry,

      A spiritual practice is a prayer/meditation discipline
      which one does regularly, like daily. Practice
      differs from person to person. It also varies with
      various stages of a person's spiritual path.

      Mine for about a decade now has involved praying the
      Liturgy of the Hours each early morning almost without
      fail. Not that that is a personal triumph to be proud
      of. But my life does not "hold together" if I skip
      the discipline. The Psalms, said very slowly and out
      loud, lead me into deeper listening to my True Self,
      my God in Christian terms.

      After my January two week retreat with the Camaldolese
      at Big Sur C A, I have begun to use their sung office
      of Vigils and Lauds each day. So rich to slowly
      sing, with deep breaths between each psalm verse, the
      poetry of the sacred literature of the
      Judaeo-Christian Tradition.

      I have developed the practice of "journaling" in the
      margins of my Liturgy of the Hours book. A psalm line
      or word will bring to mind a person or an
      event/situation for which I pray - including me and my
      own "situations" - and so I jot down a name and a
      date. Now. a decade later, it is fascinating to see
      my life and my concerns held together in my prayer and
      to realize how God's Way was worked with that

      So, Jerry, you asked about practice and I hope my
      sharing some of mine has been helpful to you and
      others. Perhaps others will be specific about their
      practice in the Merton Group.

      Patrick Collins, Group Moderator
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