Peace, Love & Om

 If the mind is pure in nature, does it not follow that, as is the mind, as are we? After all, what are we, if not the mind?

Indeed. Yogis, philosophers, scientists and scholars have, for centuries, been investigating the implications of this epic question — Who am I?

There are countless ideas surrounding this enigma. In almost all Eastern philosophical circles however, the answers point back to the mind, and therefore back at us. Ah, but this wasn’t established — what are we, if not the mind? This is the question.

The keys unlocking these answers reside inside us and we alone are capable of unhinging these unmarked doors. However, the societal relevance placed on such endeavors often takes a back seat to more lucrative pursuits, with our sense of self-worth often a direct correlation. But once this gateway is opened, even just a crack, something magical happens...

Invitations to discover inner harmony are not messages designed for an elite few. The increasingly fast pace at which the world is moving is impacting all of us, converting our mental and physical balance into little more than pleasant buzzwords for many. Learning to direct our attention, whether in pursuit of philosophical insight, business rationale or personal wellness, is likely the only thing that will save us — from ourselves.

Committing to be mindful prompts us to look at both the physical and non-physical aspects of our behaviors (i.e. thoughts and feelings). Using these observations to develop an alert sense of reality, with this silent eye, we become both observer and the observed, grounding our focus and centering our balance.

Patanjali, in his brilliantly expounded Yoga Sutra’s, explains enlightenment as the ceasing of the mental modifications. This includes understanding the colored lens, or veil, which is obscuring our perception of what is real. Immersed in this giant cosmic soup, our societal, educational, cultural and familial past provides each of us with a uniquely singular view of the world. It’s this view that often spurns the judgment that results in emotional fluctuations. As peace, acceptance and freedom are developed, these reelings of a wily mind are gradually released.

This is important. These modifications are often mistaken as the barriers to mindfulness and therefore considered objects of elimination. If instead, thoughts, feelings and emotions are engaged as the objects of mindfulness, this deepening awareness of self provides the method of expanding our personal introspection.

Cultivating this objective awareness is the art and science of Yoga.

Not only do we have the ability to connect with ourselves beyond what we currently comprehend, we also have the ability to live the life of our dreams. But in order to do this we’ve got to agree to do the heavy lifting.

Signing over a check for the goodies is not an option and Patanjali, Jesus and the Buddha cannot accomplish the work for us. Symbols and guides for what is possible, these individuals are pointing at the moon and although I may get in trouble in the afore mentioned circles for this, these men are also dead. If you want to taste the moon you have to reach out and take a bite.

These spiritual icons have said their peace and are not going to bestow a single, additional thread of brilliance. We can read their wisdom in sutras, scriptures, psalms and quotations; their words will never change. Our perception is the only thing that we are capable of changing. This means learning to understand your veil.

Getting to know our veil is something like adjusting the eyes to see an image within a 3D picture. We’re not attempting to remove our colorful background, but relax our vision to more readily observe what’s right in front of us — thus gradually perceiving through a lens of increasing clarity.

Self-mastery begins with intention and life provides a beeeeaauuutiful opportunity to experience the fullest expression of our emotions. Carefully watching feelings, actions and thoughts, our role is simply to notice without judging.

No one can claim responsibility for understanding who you are and no one individual’s word for reality is sacred. Saints, prophets, seekers and finders — each of us must walk the path for ourselves. The questions and illusions of who we are and who we are not were never designed to be answered for us.

Highly realized Yogis of the past, carried with them, a message. Richly hued strings of clues, instructions and wisdom, spread before us, woven into the vibrant tapestry upon which we now sit. The answers are discovered, not by looking down, but within — for it is you who possesses the whole of the moon.

May this blessed life be filled with peace, love & Om.

~ Christine ~ Varanasi, December 2014

Know Thyself

Know Thyself

This challenge, put forth by Socrates, one of the most exquisitely expressed mysteries of humankind, pins at the center of our universe, the discovery of our own inherent nature. On a (relatively) more basic level he poses the question:  What, or who, is this self?

Our own instincts may gravitate toward labeling the self as the combined entity of mind and body. Other schools would posit that we are no more than a smattering of environmental inputs we've been gathering like moss since the day we were born. Additional possibilities include seeds or imprints we've carried with us from previous lives or on a cellular level there are also those who would blame our pre-dispositions on DNA.

There is however, one common thread running through each of these positions: Regardless of why we are the way we are, we are, or are we? Despite the ascribed reasons for creation of the self, our subjective nature is at the nucleus of our current existence. In other words, each and every one of us has a personality. Right here; right now, the origins notwithstanding, tendencies exist and the previous conditions manufacturing this amalgamation may not be manipulated. Period. If any one of us wishes to change, we've no choice but to work with who we are at this very moment.

One of the challenges with philosophy is that concepts often subsist only on a plane of mental abstraction. We talk of ideas as they exist outside of ourselves — spinning & spinning the cube until satisfied with an angle, never licking the cube or cracking it open to see what gushes out.

How is it then, that we begin this process of knowing thyself?

Spheres of metaphysical, scientific and religious belief orbit around thought as the creating, delineating and subjugating force manifesting our lives. However staggering this potential power, the inherent problem we face is we are not in control of our thoughts. If any doubts exist as to the assertion that the inmates are running the asylum, attempt to sit in silence for ten minutes. For ten minutes, no outside distractions, sit and pay close attention to your thoughts. Without suppressing, manipulating or guiding, simply listen. Trust me. It's ten minutes well spent. Try it. Please.

…10 minutes later…

If your experience was a tranquil flow of gentle musings, surrounding a lotus of calm, then you are well on your way; congratulations. For the rest of us, glimpsing at these streams of mental rubbish floating by the periphery are a mere taste of what is slowly swirling far beneath the surface. Oscillating currents of wavering satisfaction, responsibilities, & angst moving by in a continuum. Judgments and beliefs, accumulating since birth, are elemental in the  formation of our views and reactions to the world. It logically follows, if our underlying values are compromised, that which floats to the surface also will be tainted.

Experts across the fields of psychology, spirituality, and philosophy have, for centuries, been exposing the nature of our afflictions as rooted deep inside ourselves and also providing the methods of extraction. So why then are we not all wallowing in happiness? What is the reason we are not diving into the core of our neuroses and creating harmonium in our lives? For the same reason we are not all healthy and fit; our immediate desires far outweigh the personal effort involved. Even when knowing with absolute clarity that eliminating discursive thinking is vastly superior for our well-being, we choose otherwise.

Swimming through the ocean of our being to reach the depths of who we are is a powerful process that can only be developed over time. This purposeful endeavor requires courage, honesty, and the patience and kindness reserved for a child. Knowing Thyself is a declaration to love [all of] who you are, without judgement.

When beginning life's journey, we've no clarity as to where it will lead until, upon reaching a point in our spiritual development, when it is impossible to move forward without understanding where we've been.

~ by Christine Fowle