Discussion of spiritual practices: awakening, meditation, and the freedom that cannot be lost or found. All perspectives are welcome; advaita, christian, buddhist, islam or even no perspective at all. Just pointing to that which is nearest and dearest.


For some "awakening hints" take a peek at: www.robertflegal.com



Friday, December 30, 2011

meditation and prayer

For the next few weeks I will be sharing some thoughts on prayer. Prayer and meditation, in my view, are best practiced together.

Meditation is, at the root, the practice of emptying oneself utterly. From the perspective of total emptiness the necessity of gratitude (thankfulness) comes to light.

Ultimately prayer is a timeless song of thanks and love shared by the Creator and His creation. Of course, in the beginning, it takes on less lofty forms. One of my favorite prayers is:

"Our Lord, shower us with Your mercy, and bless our affairs with Your guidance." (Quran 18:10)

If you don't have a regular prayer practice consider it … meditation is the forerunner to prayer.

Bob

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

why worry?

When we sit in silence we come to realize the wisdom of letting go. Clinging, fretting, and worry are signs of not facing reality. It is not that we should release. It is that we will with absolute certainty release everything anyway. Why wait for release to come as rude shock at the end?

"Everyone on earth perishes; all that remains is the Face of your Lord, full of majesty, bestowing honor." (Quran 55:26)

bob

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To meditate is to empty

To meditate is to empty; Let go and be guided:

"God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche, and within it a lamp; the Lamp enclosed in Glass; the glass a brilliant star, lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive neither of the East nor of the West whose Oil is well-nigh luminous though fire scarce touched it. Light upon Light! God doth guide whom He will to His Light." (Quran Chapter 24, Verse 35)

bob

Friday, December 9, 2011

beginners mind

When we first begin meditation practice we have no thought that we have attained something. It is a challenge to keep this mind-set.


When we have a sense of attainment we lose our innocence. When we lose our innocence we start playing God; when we start to play God we lose our gratitude … what a horrible loss.


stay fresh in your practice!


bob


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

noticing our place

When we sit in silence, we notice our 'place'. In the face of Silence our plans, hopes, and disappointments come and go like wispy clouds on a clear sky. If our plans, hopes, and disappointments are only passing thoughts, who are we?

This is the ultimate question. Meditation leads us to the answer.

Here's a hint:

He is the First and the Last , the Outward and the Inward. He has knowledge of all things. ( Quran, 57:3)

bob

Monday, November 21, 2011

meditation -> gratitude

Here's a thanksgiving thought or two. I've heard it said that we we don't need more to be thankful for; we just need to be more thankful.

Meditation leads us ultimately to gratitude whose bedfellow is Peace.

[Quran 16:18] And if you should count the favors of Allah , you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Happy Thanksgiving
bob

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

repeating the past

Expecting any specific result from our practice periods always requires the past to be repeated in some way .


To find that which is always fresh … empty yourself.


bob


Thursday, November 10, 2011

noticing the Vastness

When we meditate we notice that many things (thoughts, feelings, body sensations, noises, etc.) pass in front of our awareness. That we are aware of all these 'things' is a clear pointer to our essential vastness.


Surrender to the Mystery now … clinging only appears to delay the inevitable victory of the Vastness.


bob

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

regular practice

Meditation is like de-cluttering or cleaning a home. To keep ones mind free of useless clutter requires daily practice. It is truly amazing how much can accumulate (in both homes and minds) if we don't keep at it.

book clutter

establish a regular practice,
bob

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

peace and freedom

To quote Malcolm X: "You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."

Through meditation we find that our bondage, at the root, comes from our thinking …

To find true freedom find the source of thought. Then enjoy Peace.

bob

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

fruit of meditation practice

Meditation is emptying - empty yourself utterly until you see the Divine everywhere.

(Quran 57:1-2) Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies God - He is the Almighty, the Wise. control of heavens and earth belongs to Him; He gives life and death; He has power over all things.

empty regularly,
bob

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

release is wisdom

We live in such Mystery! Many of us spend our lives recoiling from the Mystery … we feel more comfortable with the illusion that we are in control, and happier with the mistaken belief that we know what is going to happen in the future. But our direct experience hints at another reality.

In fact, it is our unwillingness to accept our "utter ignorance" that is the root cause of most of our suffering.

While sitting in Silence, we see that we cannot predict even the next thought that will come into our heads. How then can we predict what others will do or what life will offer next? When we realize that we are born into the Mystery, live in the Mystery, and die in Mystery, we find true happiness; gratitude for what is right here right now becomes our dominant experience.

The Quran reminds us of our 'real position' in the scheme of things with:

(18:23) do not say of anything, 'I will do that tomorrow' without adding 'God willing' and, whenever you forget, remember God and say, 'May God guide me closer to what is right'.

This quote is a clear pointer to 'what is right' … living free of the illusion of control.

bob

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eric Hoffer, the Author of "The True Believer" (a must read for those on a 'spiritual path' as it is the clearest warning about cults that I have ever read) points to where meditation eventually leads us:

"Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars, and a God somewhere in outer space is a homing impulse. We are drawn back to where we came from."

meditation is coming home, and regular practice is the key,
bob

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

that which does not come nor go

Meditation is that act of disconnecting from the created and connecting with the Creator.

When we take time each day to release our cares and our worldly desires and embrace Silence, we shed that which stands between us and immutable Peace. Dive into the Mystery!

bob

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Quran (2:21) we find: People, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may be mindful of Him who spread out the earth for you and built the sky; who sent water down from it and with that water produced things for your sustenance. Do not, knowing this, set up rivals to God.

A dear friend of mine (a Lutheran minister) suggests that we can tell who we worship by looking at our check books. Meditation is that practice of turning away from "our check books" and turning toward that which does not come nor go. In that practice we find amazing freedom!

peace,
bob


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

letting go …

Meditation is at the root about release. Many of us carry around tons of mental burdens. Burdens in the form of resentments, hardened beliefs about how we and others should act, emotional scars from the past, and myriad other stains on our souls.


During our practice periods we let all of this go and enjoy the lightness of the present moment. That which is presently arising, seen without judgment, is sweet indeed!


Practice, practice, practice.


bob

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

teaching

I snipped this from an e-mail that I penned to a fellow meditator at Castle Hill. I thought it was worth posting as it is a pretty good summary of what I teach on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

I teach that you are already free, but that you think otherwise. It all comes down to mistakenly imagining yourself to be things that you are not like thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

The most important things in an sound 'spiritual' practice is to pay attention to your own direct experience and to trust that there is nothing hidden. The Truth does not play hide and seek with us. When we finally exhaust ourselves and stop the endless seeking (surrender) we come to see that it is the very seeking itself that causes all the problems. When the seeking ceases we come to realize that life as it appears right here right now is ABSOLUTELY IMPERSONAL.

Establish a regular meditation and prayer practice, read what the wise ones (like Jesus, Moses and Muhammad) have to say, believe and obey (surrender to) what they suggest and you will see that "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand".

bob

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

fruit of practice

Through the practice of emptying ourselves we come to see that everything reflects the glory of the One. When we see this, we fall helplessly into profound appreciation.

“He gave you the hearing, the eye- sight, and the brains, that you may be appreciative.” (Quran 16:78)

Practice without expectation and all will become clear,
bob

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

release

Meditation is the search for what to give up. When we release we become free. When we become free the 'me' dissolves and the Truth remains.

Quoting Al Hallaj Sufi master : "Die before you die"

see?

bob

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

gratitude

The tastiest fruit of a regular meditation practice is a deep and ongoing sense of gratitude.

By sitting in Silence and just noticing what is presently arising we realize that everything that appears before us is not us. Then we effortlessly fall into awe, wonder, and appreciation for everything just as it is.

Gratitude and contentment are the signs of a winning meditation practice.

Quran 40:61 It is God who has given you the night in which to rest and the day in which to see. God is truly bountiful to people, but most people do not give thanks.

bob

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

not about 'me'

A regular meditation practice consisting of just noticing that which is currently arising leads to the obvious fact that everything belongs … even those 'pesky' thoughts that jump, hover, and crawl about the mind.

When we see that everything belongs, we lose focus on "me" and turn our awareness towards the mystery that is unfolding in front of us … we see that it is not about what "I" expect from life but rather about what life expects from "me".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The month of August this year is Ramadan. Ramadan is a time of worship where Muslims around the world give up food, water, and sex from the first light of dawn till sundown. Ramadan is an opportunity to gain by giving up and to prosper through turning away from our daily routine towards The Divine.


So it is with our meditation practice … which is giving up our attention to our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in order to grow closer to the Divine.


I hope your practice (of release) is leading you to a profound realization of the following quote attributed to the Buddha:


"Just as a man who steps upon a serpent shutters in fear but then looks down and notices it is only a rope, so it was that one day I realized that what I was calling "I" cannot be found, and all fear and anxiety vanished with my mistake."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

losing our heads

Spiritual joys come only from solitude,

So the wise choose the bottom of the well,

For the darkness down there beats
The darkness up here.


He who follows at the heels of the world
 Never saves his head.
Rumi

Monday, July 18, 2011

what is not you

Notice that while meditating anything that arises (a thought, a feeling, or a sense impression) is not you. What is arising in the present moment is absolutely impersonal; see this and you will come to know how very free you have always been.

As always, these 'spiritual insights' are not new news. Here we have the same idea in poetic form.

'Tis all a Checker board of Night and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and tither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.'

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

notice,
bob

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

aid to practice

What is the best aid to meditation practice?


Some say that the best aid to our practice is proper food; some say it is a good teacher; some say it is earnestness. But I say it is a forgiving heart.


After all the purpose of meditation does not have to do with the body, wisdom, or achievement … the purpose of meditation is to see a forgiven world.


what say you?

bob


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meditation is release ... empty yourself utterly and all will become clear. This is not new news by the way. It was stated in strong terms over 2000 years ago:

"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple".
Luke 14:33

so simple,
bob

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

suffering

Living out of the past leads to a view of the world that is stale
which, in turn, leads to unnecessary suffering; meditation is the practice of being here now.

so simple,
bob

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

establish a regular practice

Sufi master shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri teaches "There is a big difference between merely collecting recipes and actually cooking and eating"

practice, practice, practice,
bob

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

everything belongs

Perfume,wind,bird songs,thoughts ... All are welcome. Everything belongs.

bob

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

connect

connect

Disconnect with creation and connect with the Creator.

Meditation is simply letting go of that which is temporary (the created) and joining THAT which is eternal (the Creator).

Establish a daily practice of release and all will become clear,
bob

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

turning

point_of_light
Meditation is that conscious act of turning away from our worldly concerns to THAT which does not come and go. This is not a new idea though many new-agers think so. It's stated perfectly in Psalms 131:

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.


Turn away,

bob

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

mercy

compassion
meditation is the search for what to give up in order to find that which cannot be lost.

Meditation is like de-cluttering a house crammed with years of accumulation. Bit by bit we discard old duplicate furniture, all the old newspapers, and even those prized pictures of vacations we took so very long ago. When we finish we are left with an inviting spacious space.

When we de-clutter our minds we are left with mercy.

empty yourself utterly,
bob

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

surrender

Let go; empty yourself utterly; release; stop trying to fix yourself; relax; submit; release your grip. Sit quietly and take what you get. Notice what has never been lost.

"Everything in the heavens and earth reflects the glory of God, the Sustainer, the Holy, the Almighty, the Wise"
Quran 62:1

peace,
bob

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

freedom from fear

no fear
The purpose of all spiritual practice including meditation is to
diminish or eliminate fear.

Silent meditation is at its root surrender, which in turn leads to wonder, which in turn shines away fear. The best companion to a silent practice is living compassionately.

This is stated succinctly in:
Yes! whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and he is the doer of good (to others) he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve.
Quran 2:112

peace,
bob

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

cause of suffering

In the gap between what we think ought to be happening and the way it is right now lies the grand expanse of human suffering. The truth of this statement can be validated in your next traffic jam or in your next long wait at the post office.

Our views about how things ought to be are based on our past conditioning. There is nothing, per se, wrong with conditioning. Difficulties arise when our past conditioning does not match what is presently arising and we stay stuck in "how things ought to be". Suffering is like an altimeter on an airplane (which tells us how far we are from the ground). Suffering tells us how far we are from presently arising reality. In this way suffering is a gift; it is immediate feedback.

Is it possible that the world is not broken? Could it be that the world we see through our limited view of how we think things ought to be is just an illusion? Is it possible that everything that happens has a purpose even though we don't see it?

Assuming for a moment that the world is not broken, what would the purpose of our existence be?

empty yourself utterly and understand,
bob

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

seeking

In truth everything and everyone
 is a shadow of the Beloved,
 And our seeking is His seeking
, And our words are His words ...
 We search for Him here and there, 
while looking right at Him.
 Sitting by His side, we ask:
 'O Beloved, where is the Beloved?

rumi

[Prophet], if My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I respond to those who call Me, so let them respond to Me and believe in Me, so that they may be guided.

Quran 2:186

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the direction of Peace

allah

How do we measure progress in our practice?

It is not possible to find real peace in the world as it is, by its very nature, dualistic. That is: whatever we do to make ourselves secure in the world actually causes our insecurity. However inner peace can be noticed through silent practice; by turning toward the Divine [away from things, sensations, thoughts, etc.] we find inner peace. The Peace that does not come and go.

Turn away ... notice the Peace,
bob

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

God's will

Allah's will
A good way to think about meditation is that it is the practice of being comfortable with whatever life presents in each moment.

This practice leads us to recognize that we are the drop not the ocean … then real freedom dawns.

bob

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

why?

What is the purpose of life? Why do we find ourselves here?

Meditation by itself will not answer these deep questions but it will soften you up enough that you will begin to wonder about them.

Become soft.

Bob

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

remember

Remember God so much that you are forgotten.

Let the caller and the called disappear;

be lost in the Call. - Rumi

Meditation is that conscious act of turning our attention from that which comes and goes to that which is eternal (The Divine). Practice is key.

bob

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

what are you pretending not to know?

Sitting in silence and just noticing what is presenting itself should be the easiest thing in the world … but, for many of us, 'just being' is a challenge. Why is this? What are you trying to avoid?


Answering these questions is the purpose of meditation practice. Establish a regular practice and discover the cause of your discontent.


peace on you,

bob

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

surrender

Regular meditation practice leads us to surrender of the small-self - surrender of our beliefs about ourselves, surrender of our ideas about others, surrender of our concepts of God, and surrender of our views of how the world of things ought to be. It leads us to how things have always been.

Through regular meditation we come to realize that efforting to gain some understanding or have some particular experience or to arrive at some particular state only leads to more efforting and, of course, dissapointment. We come to realize that we are not in charge.

This is stated perfectly in the Quran 62:1:

All that is within the heavens and on the earth reflects the glory of God. He's the Controller, the Holy, the Powerful, and the Wise.

The Divine bats last,

bob

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

thought life

Regular meditation practice affords us a detailed view of our thought life. Our thought life is much like a physical landscape having various features and parts. Through silent meditation the elements and features emerge - some are big like mountains and some are small like streams and pebbles.

In silence we see: the incessant busyness of our minds, our focus on the past and future, our attempts to escape what is presently arising, our core belief that our effort will lead to "a better future", our negative self-talk, our attitudes about our physical bodies, and how we react when stressed, and so forth.

What we see we are free of …

bob

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

thankfulness

"It is God who brought you out of your mothers' wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful. Quran 16:78

As we sit in silence and become still, the gift of life's bounty becomes evident.

Are you thankful the gift of your breath? Are you thankful for the gift of the sound of a bird? Are you thankful for the gift of the touch of the air on your skin? Are you be thankful for the gift of the ache in your leg?

Is being thankful perhaps the purpose of life?

peace be upon you,

bob

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

submission

surrender

Meditation is just another word for submission. When we submit we let go of this tiresome business of fixing ourselves. Does fixing ourselves ever really work? Aren't we just swapping problems? When we truly submit, we stop fighting what life presents, and we become open to Divine guidance.

When we willingly submit the Divine rushes in to heal us. Then we notice the thankfulness that is at our root. Gratitude to the One is the fruit of meditation.

submit to win,


bob

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

how to meditate

There are hundreds of meditation techniques. Experiment until you find one that is right for you. But one of the best ways is to simply sit in silence and "take what you get". Don't try do do anything, don't try to achieve anything but just submit to the silence that is always available in the present moment.

Don't analyze anything, or try to control anything (your thoughts, the noises around you or anything). Just surrender to the silence. As thoughts, feelings or sensations arise, just note them, release them, and gently submit to the silence. The four R’s are:
resist no thought
recoil from no thought
remember no thought
remember the silence
Take what you get from the session. Often the ‘best’ meditation sessions are those that seem most troubling.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

be still

Stillness

Meditation, at its essence, is just being still. When we allow stillness to pervade, our recoil from life diminishes, and we see the radiant peace and perfection behind all things.

Be still and see.
bob




Wednesday, January 12, 2011

regularity

metal spring

The most important aspect of meditation practice is regularity.

We regularly practice being at odds with life which disturbes our peace of mind. Just think about how many times during the day you say something like: "What? That idiot!" We practice recoil hundreds of times every day.

Luckily, recoil from life is learned behavior and can be unlearned. To unlearn recoil and learn surrender repetition is needed. Even flossing our teeth requires regularity;
how much more regularity is required for peace of mind?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

control

Given that you cannot predict or control even the next thought that appears in your consciousness, how much control over other things around you do you really have?


When we release the illusion of control, we surprisingly feel safe, whole, and at peace. So … meditation is, at the root, letting go of our imagined control and just noticing the astounding mystery and absolute stillness that life presents each moment.


To put it succinctly: (Quran 4-126) "To God belongs everything in the heavens and the earth. God is in full control of all things". Meditate on this and notice the return of Peace,

bob