Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Self Awareness Exercise - The Next Step

I hope you spent some amount of time on that last exercise. I hope you truly did invest the effort to try to find the thing that is aware. If you only made a cursory attempt, especially if you think you already know the answer then I urge you to revisit it. If you haven't done it at all then click here

A Self Awareness Exercise

and do that exercise before continuing on.

Of course, there is nothing to find. Many people, who have been involved in a spiritual practice especially Zen Buddhism know where this leads. It was, of course, the very heart of Prince Siddhartha's discovery that there was nothing there except the awareness itself. It was that realization that made him the Buddha, the Awakened One. But the fact that it happened to him doesn't do you any good whatsoever. You must come to the same conclusion, the same self-realization yourself and then follow it.

You see, we all live our lives as if there was someone there who was aware, conscious. A person, entity or soul. The reality that there isn't anyone there just the awareness changes everything from the inside out, completely changes the context and content of our lives at the most basic and subtle level.

Because you see, that awareness IS you, It is THE you that you have been looking for. That awareness is THE Truth, THE Way, THE Life. It is what all the great masters through all time have been talking about and why they all said that once you see it you realize that it has always been there, overlooked due to its utter ordinariness.

But now that I have said all that openly, this is where this whole discussion can becomes a bit dangerous to your practice. The moment I tell you to keep going and go deeper you will immediately begin to imagine the great enlightenment experience. You will revert to your pre-conceived spiritual expectations and try to produce that, rather than just doing what needs to be done, simply looking for the thing that is aware.

I want you to become convinced that there is no such thing, the same way the Buddha did. Through direct inquiry and probing determination. Just because I tell you or Bodhidharma tells you or the patriarchs tell you or Buddha himself tells you there is no thing there, why should you believe any of us. Find out for yourself. Really look.

Then you are ready for the next step. Once you have become convinced that there is nothing there, that there is nothing to be found then you are ready to ask the truly great question. The one question that all questions return to. “Who am I?” In the process of looking for the thing we exhaust the search leaving the conclusion that there is no thing I can be. No thing I can identify with. No point of reference. Now you can being to probe who you really are.

As I mentioned before. You can't actually attain enlightenment or self-realization. If you try you will fail. The answer to the question Who am I? will not come through the mind, the emotions, the ego or anything like that. It will simply bubble up intuitively, instinctively out of your own nature because that is what you are. You real nature will reveal itself as itself.

All you need to do is to keep asking the question and resist the habit to conceptualize, describe or attempt to relate to any thing. We have already done an exhaustive search and have not been able to find that thing. But still, the habit of thinking will continue for a while. Just quietly and firmly dismiss those notions and continue with the question What am I?

I am often asked then, If I can't figure it out or explain it or describe it or draw a conclusion, how will I know?

How do you know you are in love? You know. No one needs to convince you. No one needs to validate it. You just know. Keep going until you just know and there is absolutely no doubt left.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My New Site

Hello to all my readers.

I have just launched today my new web site All the articles I have on my blog are there, as well as some questions and answers, some info about my teachers, events and other things. In the future I will probably start putting the full articles there and only summarizing in the blog. No sense being redundant. There are some articles there that have not yet been posted here.

This site represents my next step in becoming more available to people to help them on their spiritual journey as well as doing what I can to raise the general level of consciousness and fulfill my Bodhisattva vow, to save all beings from suffering.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Self Awareness Exercise

This is probably the simplest and most challenging meditation exercise you will ever do. Simple because there is no technique. Challenging because we are going looking for something that is extremely difficult to find.

Sit in a comfortable position. If you have some sort of sitting practice that will do. If you do not have such a practice then sit in a chair or on the floor on cushion will your butt slightly raised. Make sure your back is straight because that makes it easier to relax while remaining supported and that will keep you alert. If you are wide awake you can lay down on your back without a pillow, hands at your sides or on your stomach and your feet about shoulder width apart.. I say wide awake because it is quite natural to fall asleep when lying down and relaxing and we want to remain alert.

Now just relax your body. Don't fight with it or try to force it, just let it naturally relax. The positions I have suggested are conducive to relaxing so there will be no need to try to force it. Just breath, don't try to control your breath. Don't try to control your thoughts (you can't anyway). In fact, don't try to control anything. Just relax enough to give this exercise adequate attention. If you are distracted by something that you have to do or something is bothering you, fine, stop. Do what has to be done and return to this when you can give it your full attention. There is no hurry and I don't want you to be hurried doing it.

Ok, that's it as far as the technique is concerned. Just be comfortable, alert and available. Now close your eyes and turn your attention inward. Be aware of your breath. Be aware of your body. Be aware of your mind, that is, your thinking. If you have never encountered anything else I have written or said regarding awareness or even if you have, I will start with a simple preliminary exercise.

Think of a monkey. Really just do it!

Ok, now think of a mountain.

Now think of someone you know.

Great. I asked you to think of 3 things. You immediately told your mind to create images of those things and it did, effortlessly. It obeyed you directly and without question. Those of you who have meditated for years trying to control your mind please take note. But that effortless control is not what I wanted to bring your attention to.

I want to bring your attention to the one who told the mind to produce the picture and to the one who was looking at it.

We are so used to thinking of ourselves as a thing that we automatically assume that awareness is an attribute of that thing. “I am aware” or “I have awareness”. I am an entity with awareness.

Now, finally, we get to the heart of this exercise. I want you to look for that “thing”. I want you to start a thorough and exhaustive search for whatever IT is that is aware. Go look for it. Look inside, look outside. Don't leave any stone unturned. Search until you have exhausted yourself and every possibility. And don't just do it once or for a few minutes. Spend some time at it. Do it more than once. It is illusive and you will not find it easily or quickly. Don't give up. Enjoy the bewilderment. Engage yourself in how difficult it is to search. Become entrance by it until it becomes a quest. And a quest is something you don't abandon. You don't stop until you either find it or...


keep looking...

Even if you already know why I asked you to do this exercise and even if you know what the ultimate result will be..

keep looking...

Friday, November 03, 2006

What is Self Awareness and Why Should I Care?

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens. - Carl Jung

What is self awareness?

Awareness. It is going on all the time. You wake up in the morning aware of your surroundings, your spouse, the cat. You are aware of the toast and coffee you are eating, the people at your job and on the street. You become unaware of them as you are sitting at your job daydreaming about that vacation to Aruba, but you are very aware of Aruba.

That is the thing about awareness, it is unbearably ordinary. It is there all the time. Without it though, like your breath, you wouldn't exist or at least, if you did, you wouldn't know it and certainly wouldn't care. Let's play with this awareness for minute.

We are normally so focused outside that we forget our bodies, unless they hurt or want something. But you can, if you slow down for a second and put your attention inside the body, become aware of a constant stream of feelings and sensations. A little tension here a little stiffness there. A warm sensation over there and a coolness over there. Those sensations were there all along of course. They didn't just appear the moment you went looking for them, but you had to look to become aware of them. You had to pay attention.

Now let's take a look at your mind. Focus there for a second and you become aware of the constant stream of thoughts and impressions. The constant monolog/dialog going on, sometimes to our distress. Pay a little attention and you see the vastness of thinking and its tireless, and often repetitive, nature.

Now for just a minute take one more step and become aware of the awareness itself. Notice the fact that you can move that attention, at will, all over the place bringing one thing into focus and completely eliminating something else and then bringing that back again. You can see yourself and lose yourself. You have become aware of the awareness, aware of that which is aware of everything else. This is self awareness. See, its not very hard.

When I speak of self awareness I don't mean awareness of myself. I don't go there because when I say awareness of self most people pull up their most frequently used version of themselves. Male, 36, loves long walks on the beach and vacations to Aruba. That "myself" is really just thoughts about ourselves, descriptions of ourselves. Those thoughts, discussions and descriptions are what we are aware of. What I mean by self awareness is simply becoming conscious of awareness.

Now, why should I care? First off, in our exercise above you became aware of things that were always there but you were not aware of all the time or didn't see any significance to. It is ordinary after all And you may find it a bit (or a lot) boring to focus on the endless stream of feelings that are in your body. You may want to get back to focusing on Aruba and the girl in the bikini. Still it might pique your curiosity a little that there is so much going on that you are not seeing.. It may occur to you that there just may be other things going on of which you are not aware. Maybe a lot of things. Or maybe you will have the feeling that this awareness thing is pretty amazing in itself. I mean, what would I be without it? Where would I be? Would I be at all? What exactly is it?

Why should I care? You might ask a new born infant why she would care about her hands. She has them, it is obvious to us, but not to her. They serve no obvious purpose and don't have much relevance to her life. It will be some time before their value will begin to dawn on her. But what if she just continued to ignore them. Decided that they don't really matter. Hell, I don't need to feed myself, mom takes care of that. Interesting and all but, why should I care?

Of course those very same hands are not just going to feed her. They are going to bring pleasure to her and to others. Those hands are going to unlock the potential for creativity, maybe writing a book or playing music or building a house or slam dunking a basketball. A world of self expression lies right there a short, short distance from her head. In fact, those vague, seemingly irrelevant and ordinary things are going to set her free. She just doesn't know it yet.

Self awareness holds a vast treasure chest of possibility. Hidden deeply in this ordinary, everyday, mundane experience lies a vastness of experience; "A thousand Mt Sumerus dancing on the tip of a hair".

When that little girl does discover her hand she will be entranced. I don't know if you have ever watched a very small child when they discover something new. They stare at it for hours on end. This includes body parts. She will start at her hand, move it, wave it, feel it, completely blissed out by the discovery.

Take away everything else. Take away everything of which you are aware. Take away everything of which you are not aware. Take away the body, the mind, thoughts, feelings and what is left is awareness and nothing else. If you can take that away there would be literally nothing left, oblivion, death. But if you can't take that away then you have found the true, real, final and ultimate you. If that is the case then self awareness is not being aware of your self. Awareness IS the self.

Try for a moment to imagine oblivion or not existing and you will see how solid and impenetrable awareness actually is. This is really the journey we are on. When you remove everything that is not you, what is left is you. Self awareness is not just a quality you possess. It is the You you have been looking for.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

About G

From earliest childhood I have had an almost uncontrollable interest in things of the spirit. Many early experiences of a psychic and "out there" nature pointed my interests in that direction and held them there. Not that I did not have the interests of any other boy growing up in the Midwest of the US; baseball, music, hanging out, girls. But there was always a palpable sense of observing. Like I was there and not there at the same time.

By the time I had reached 20 my path was pretty much set. At that time I began the first of my spiritual practices and spirituality became a way of life. I have been learning, teaching, studying and sharing my discoveries ever since. Not that those discoveries all came from the mount of revelation. No, mostly they came from hard lessons and stupid mistakes, with enough revelation and insight thrown in to make it bearable. I learned slowly that spiritual insight, however deep does not eliminate the need to live fully as a human, embracing all of it, even the ugly and the painful.

I have no degrees, am entitled to no letters trailing my name, hold no title of lineage. I channel no disembodied masters and possess not a shred of esoteric knowledge, no spells or incantations here I am afraid. I was not born of a virgin (as far as I know). My origin was neither lofty and noble or tragic and colorful. It was hopelessly mundane, a white boy from the suburbs of Chicago. All this is to say, I have no authority whatsoever.

I have done many things over my life; musician, composer, writer and poet, voice talent, software developer, teacher, entrepreneur, gas station attendant, janitor, mail carrier, roofer, clerk. During all of that one thing has truly captivated my heart and engaged my interest and passion; the question "Who am I?"

All humanity asks that question, all the time. It may wear various disquises but it is the one question that all questions eventually return to. But here is the kicker. It cannot be answered in words. Theories, concepts, ideas, no matter how beautiful and elegant will not cut it. Why? Because you are not a concept, you are not a theory, you are not an idea. You are real.

Life itself is the answer, Your Life. Not some great capital 'L' life or the life of some super being, benevolent or malevolent. Your life, this life, this one right here.

So why should you believe anything I say. Well, you shouldn't. And you shouldn't even if I did have a ton of letters after my name. So to make that as clear as possible I got rid all of the letters I did have. All except one, 'G'. I would get rid of them all but you have to call me something. So now, you all have more letters than I do, which means you are the authority. The ONLY authority and rightly so. If someone tells you something patently false and you take it in, who suffers? Not the one who told you. You do! So you MUST be the vigilant gatekeeper for everything that would enter your consciousness as "truth".

Weigh what I say using the highly sensitive scales of your intuition. The path to the ultimate discovery is not really taught. It can't be. A map of a territory is not the territory, only a guide to it. You are and always will be the ultimate arbitrator and the only traveler. I point out what I have seen along the way. I only want to make your journey quicker.

And now my first pointers.

"The mind that seeks the Way is the Way" - Dogen Zenji.

If you want to find the truth, stop looking. It will find you.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blog One: Not This, Not That, Not Both, Not Neither

Many will recognize this famous saying from Advaita. In this blog I will endeavor to shed what little flicker of light I have on the subject of self realization, self awareness, enlightenment or whatever you would like to call it. I am not really concerened with terms, except to the extent that we agree on them enough to communicate. I borrow liberally from Advaita, Zen, Christian Mysticism (yes there are some non-dual flavors of Christiantiy), metaphysics, quantum, psychology, mythology and anything else that crosses my path and looks like, sounds like or smells like self awareness.

After several decades of a passionate interest in all things spiritual, compassionate and life-promoting I have decided, for better or for worse, to share what I have found with others who are on a similar path. Being new to blogging I was surprised to find so much on the subject. It is encouraging... very encouraging.

Suffice it to say I believe that humanity is at a cross roads. We have come to a point where we will have to either participate in evolution voluntarily or perish. Mind you I am not one who bemoans what humanity has become. It is, if fact, our incredible success that is now threatening us. The world in which the capacity to survive evolved as it did no longer exists. If we continue to behave as though it does we will die of our own success. Success now means developing the self awareness to reign in our own natures and recognize our inter-connectedness. Survival of the connected-est is the new law of the jungle. It is not just a cute ideal, some new age axiom. It has become a necessity.

But let me say I am optimistic. When I see the amount of interest in the subject of self awareness I am vastly encouraged. While some is trivial, some poignant, some downright stupid and some inspiring it is not so much the actual content that has me so moved. It is a miracle that it is going on at all. Considering that not that long ago spiritual viewpoints were pretty much dictated from on high, the present cacophony is refreshing, if not a little staggering.

Self awareness for me is THE issue of our times. It is my hope that I can connect with, encourage, teach and learn from others who see that the future of us all rests not in the hands of governments, institutions and economic entities, but in ours. It is to this end that I commit my energies and my words.