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



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

(new) new year

A popular meditation technique is called “mindfulness meditation”.   What does it mean to be mindful?

I heard a definition that I really like on the radio last week.  Mindfulness meditation is:  “noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary”.  When we sit in silence, it is the most ordinary thing …. BUT we are surrounded by all manner of wonderful things: our ever changing breath, the ambient sounds in the room, the light behind our eyelids, a sneeze,  … I could go on and on.   Life as it presents itself in the present moment is always extraordinary, but we lose sight of The Wonder when we focus on the past or the future (which is just barfed up past).  

Give it a try … notice the extraordinary in the ordinary.  

And He gives you all kinds of things that you implore Him for. If you count God's blessings, you can never encompass them. Indeed, the human being is transgressing, unappreciative. (Quran 14:34)

Peace on you,
bob

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas

I have concluded after many years of meditation that “spiritual practice” is ultimately about Worship.  Worship can take many forms: gratitude, prayer, charity, being good, doing good, and, most importantly, trusting God (submission).

In America we celebrate the birth of Jesus by shopping our brains out.  This is not “spiritual practice” as far as I can tell (LOL).  

A better spiritual practice is what I call a “Trust meditation” where we, during our quiet period, just let go of how we think it “OUGHT to be” and trust that all things are just as God would have them be (including the “bad” stuff). 

Give "Trust meditation" a go during the holidays.  It always brings peace to my heart.


When Jesus sensed their disbelief, he said, "Who are my supporters towards God?" The disciples said, "We are God's supporters; we believe in God, and bear witness that we are submitters." (Quran 3:52)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving (in the US).  Is not gratitude the fruit and purpose of our meditation practice?

God brought you out of your mothers' bellies knowing nothing, and He gave you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brains, that you may be appreciative. (Quran 16:78)

peace on you,
bob

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

to understand meditation


To understand meditation - practice meditation.

peace on you,
bob

Thursday, October 30, 2014

delusions



Silent meditation shines light on our delusions.  The big delusion is that we are in control[*].  Sitting in silence quickly proves that we cannot control anything including the next thought that arises in the mind.

We can change nothing BUT we can turn on the lights; meditation turns on the lights.

[*]To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth, and all matters are controlled by God.(Quran 3:109)

peace on you,
bob

Thursday, October 23, 2014

There is no way to freedom; freedom is the way



Disappointment is the great lesson of an earnest meditation practice.  Sitting in Silence smashes expectations like elephants smash blades of grass as they walk quietly through a moist savannah.

Stop seeking freedom! It is our very seeking that hides what is always there.

“If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing.” 
― Dōgen

peace on you,
bob


Sunday, October 12, 2014

True Seeing


What is the purpose of meditation?  The Zen Buddhists claim that it is to see things as they ARE.  But how ARE things?

I like to call seeing things as they ARE “TRUE SEEING” - to see things absent my ideas of how things “OUGHT” to be.  

Meditation is at the root an emptying process - emptying all that I have ever learned or thought - a massive unlearning process.  At the end of this process it is clear that:

Nothing is mine:

To God belongs the east and the west; wherever you go there will be the presence of God. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient. (Quran 2:115)

God is in control of all things:

Such is God your Cherisher and Sustainer, there is no god except He, the Creator of all things. You shall worship Him alone. He is in control of all things. (Quran 6:102)


Everything I see in this life is temporary:

Know that this worldly life is no more than play and games, and boasting among you, and hoarding of money and children. It is like abundant rain that produces plants and pleases the disbelievers. But then the plants turn into useless hay, and are blown away by the wind. In the Hereafter there is either severe retribution, or forgiveness from God and approval. This worldly life is no more than a temporary illusion. (Quran 57:20)

peace on you,
bob



Saturday, October 4, 2014

laughter

The mind is the human organ that excretes fantasy.   



fan·ta·sy noun \ˈfan-tə-sē, -zē\
: something that is produced by the imagination : an idea about doing something that is far removed from normal reality

Silent meditation reminds us of this fact. This is why meditators, from time to time, break into spontaneous laughter while practicing.

peace on you,
bob

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happiness


Is it not the case that seeking happiness puts it sometime into the future.  Could it be that pausing allows it to catch up with you? 

stop seeking and see what happens!

peace on you,

bob

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gratitude and Humility

Meditation leads us naturally to gratitude and humility (humility being not taking things so darn personally (LOL)).

My friend John C. penned some words about gratitude and humility that I think are spot on.  I’d like to share John's words with you:

“Gratitude is what spontaneously arises in us when we are given freely something that we value deeply. So to the extent that we can be aware that nothing is more valuable than this moment and that this moment is given freely and is not our doing, we live in gratitude. Allah has given us this moment. Nothing is more valuable than that gift, for in it lies all possibility, all opportunity. Praise Allah! We don't need to try to be grateful. We just need to open our eyes. Gratitude is the gift that arises naturally when we are aware of life as it is.” (John C.)

I’ve put together some meditations along these lines: “not taking things personally”, “practicing gratitude”, and “trusting the One” … these are my current meditation practices. I hope you find them useful.

www.robertflegal.com/islamic_meditation/

peace on you,
bob

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Silence



Silence is to the mind as water is to the body - it cleanses. 

When we sit in silence the mind becomes quiescent - free of thought leaving a vastness that is indescribable. 

In profound Silence all becomes clear.  It is our thoughts that cloud our understanding.  To quote Werner Erhard: “Understanding is the booby prize”.

Let it all go … Silence will guide you home.

peace on you
bob

Friday, August 29, 2014

control?

Meditation can be thought of as the practice of letting go of control. 

It is better to say that true meditation is recognizing that you had no control in the first place; seeing that there is nothing to let go of in any case - then immutable Peace shines.

“Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.” Ramana Maharshi

To God belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth, and all matters are controlled by God. Quran 3:109

peace on you, bob

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Practice is unlearning


The practice of meditation is the practice of forgetting - forgetting our past, forgetting our future hopes, and forgetting everything we have ever learned or experienced.

Through this forgetting we come to remember the miracle of this present moment - we weep with gratitude for the One who gives us life.

He is the One God; the Creator, the Initiator, the Designer. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Glorifying Him is everything in the heavens and the earth. He is the Almighty, Most Wise.(Quran 59:24)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

empty yourself utterly

Meditation is the search for what to let go of … empty yourself utterly.

When we let go we realize that everything is just fine, and that all of our control pictures are unnecessary then we arrive at complete trust.    

Moses said, "O my people, if you have really believed in God, then put your trust in Him, if you are really submitters."
[Quran 10:84]

peace on you,

bob

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What I trust

You might wonder what informs my ideas about mediation and “spiritual practice”.  I trust two sources of knowledge because they are NOT the opinions of men.  They are The Holy Quran and Mathematics.  Of these two the Quran is the most reliable and trustworthy.

Here are two of my favorite quotes on The Quran and Mathematics.

This Quran could not possibly be authored by other than God. It confirms all previous messages, and provides a fully detailed scripture. It is infallible, for it comes from the Lord of the universe.
[Quran 10:37] 

I argue, as others have done before me, that mathematical concepts and ideas exist objectively, outside of the physical world and outside of the world of consciousness. We mathematicians discover them and are able to connect to this hidden reality through our consciousness. If Leo Tolstoy had not lived we would never have known Anna Karenina. There is no reason to believe that another author would have written that same novel. However, if Pythagoras had not lived, someone else would have discovered exactly the same Pythagoras theorem. Moreover, that theorem means the same to us today as it meant to Pythagoras 2,500 years ago.
[Edward Frenkel - Berkeley Math Department] 

Peace on you,
Bob


Saturday, July 26, 2014

practice


Skill in silent meditation is like any other skill ... comes with practice (much practice).  Meditation to me is, at the root, just "being quiet"; letting the worldliness drip off leaving an innocent mind ready to appreciate God's blessings. 

If you count GOD's blessings, you cannot possibly encompass them. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [Quran 16:18].

Peace on you,
bob

Friday, July 18, 2014

fruit of practice

Meditation is that act of turning away from our “small-self” toward Reality as God created it.

This practice leads naturally to the recognition of the uncountable blessings that are ALWAYS available for our use and enjoyment.  This recognition is the fruit of regular practice.  

If you count GOD's blessings, you cannot possibly encompass them. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [Quran 16:18]

Saturday, July 5, 2014

True Peace


Meditation is the practice of emptying ourselves of the world as we think it ought to be.

When the mind becomes empty we come to see things as God created them … the unbelievable beauty and uncountable blessings of God's creation: created for our enjoyment and sustenance. 

This way of seeing the world in turn points directly to God … the ultimate source of Peace and Light.

“Truly it is the remembrance of God that hearts find peace” (Quran 13:28)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meditation is not complicated


Meditation instruction is simple:  just let go of the world and cling to the Silence.  

Meditation requires no fancy techniques, postures, or teachings - meditation is the practice of releasing the world.  

The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?! (Quran 6:32)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

True Seeing


For me the goal of mediation practice is “True Seeing” - that is, to see  things as they actually ARE not as I think they “OUGHT to be”.  

A favorite technique of mine that reveals “True seeing” is “sitting in trust”.  This comes down to trusting that whatever arises in the mind during is not true - that God is in full control of all things and things are exactly as they should be.  During the practice period I just drop all resistance and trust God.  

Seeing that everything belongs to God (not ours) and God is in control of all things is “True Seeing”.

This technique is based on several verses in the Quran:

Say, "Nothing happens to us, except what God has decreed for us. He is our Lord and Master. In God the believers shall trust." 
(Quran 9:51)

To God belongs everything in the heavens and the earth. God is in full control of all things. (Quran 4:126)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

spiritual?

What does it mean to “be spiritual”.  

These days there are so very many ideas on this topic.   They range from worshiping at the alter of radical environmentalism to notions of astral travel.  Obviously, our ideas about spirituality should guide our meditation practice.

I want to share my beliefs on this topic. I welcome you to share your thoughts on “being spiritual”

First, I believe there is One God who created everything and to Whom everything belongs and to Whom everything will return.  Moreover God has presented us (out of His Mercy and Compassion) with a test.  A test to see if, during this life, we will choose to be Worshipful (Gratitude), Moral, and Charitable  …  thereby avoiding Evil. 

In other words, there is an afterlife and what we do here matters … it all boils down to worship, charity, and morality.  When I’m actively doing these things in my daily life,  I’m being ‘spiritual’.   

In subsequent posts, I’ll comment on how these beliefs inform my meditation practice.

Again, please share your ideas on this topic, I’d like to hear from you … peace on you,


bob

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Trust




Trust is both a meditation technique and the fruit of regular practice.

Practice is repeatedly letting go - trusting, letting go - trusting, letting go - trusting,; you get the idea.

Trust gently erases self-centeredness!



Say, "He is my Cherisher and Sustainer. There is no god but He. In Him I put my trust and it is to Him I turn."

Quran [13:30]

Saturday, May 10, 2014

lasting happiness


The ultimate goal of meditation is to deliver lasting happiness. Why else would we bother with all this?

Through the practice of emptying, we come to see things as they really are - How things are without the false notions of “me” or “mine”. Without "me" or "mine" happiness shines brightly.

Who sees? 

To God belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. God is encompassing over all things.
[Quran 4:126]

peace on you,
bob

Sunday, May 4, 2014

meditation instruction


Says it all [for dogs and humans].  If we can sit still we can do anything. 

practice!

peace on you,
bob

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

find a way


Perhaps the simplest meditation instruction is: 

Sit in silence and find a way to get comfortable.

When we sit in silence all of the things:
     our emotions,
     our beliefs, 
     and our physical pains,
which make us uncomfortable appear as if by magic.

In this way meditation is like sitting in front of a shiny mirror showing us our discomfort.  What a gift!

So … find a way to comfort; this is meditation.  Hint: let go.

peace on you,
bob

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Understanding meditation



To understand meditation deeply - practice meditation regularly.

Reading books on meditation [or a blog like this] is like trying imagine a horseback ride.  No amount of reading will ever let you smell the horse.

practice, practice, practice …

peace on you,

bob

Sunday, April 13, 2014

meditation positions


The best position for meditation is to sit as far away from any thoughts about yourself as possible.

peace on you,
bob

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Silence ...


Meditation is simple: stop seeking and listen to The Silence.

"Silence is the root of everything. If you spiral into its void a hundred voices will thunder messages you long to hear." 
-Rumi

Sunday, March 30, 2014

suffering?



What is the cause of our suffering?  Is it not our “control pictures” - How we think it ought to be.

Sit in Silence and notice your “control pictures” arise.  Then let them go then trust God.  Watch the suffering disappear like smoke in a strong wind.


“If anyone thinks that God cannot support him in this life and in the Hereafter, let him turn completely to his Creator in heaven, and sever his dependence on anyone else. He will then see that this plan eliminates anything that bothers him. “(Quran 22:15)


Peace on you,

bob

Thursday, March 27, 2014

true seeing




Silent mediation leads us inevitably to two shocking but extremely comforting conclusions:

it is all impersonal, and
we are not in control.

This is true seeing.

To God belongs everything in the heavens and the earth. God is in full control of all things. (Quran 4:126)

peace on you,

bob

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

let go - trust God

The two views: 
How I think it “OUGHT” to be and,
How it IS.



Meditation is the practice of letting go of “How I think it ought to be” and,
coming to trust how it IS.  The end of suffering is trusting God.

Say, "He is my Cherisher and Sustainer. There is no god but He. In Him I put my trust and it is to Him I turn."

Quran [13:30]

Saturday, March 8, 2014

gratitude



There is no way to gratitude; gratitude is the Way.


Gratitude is the fruit of Silent practice … Silent mind is the fruit of Gratitude.

Practice either … they are isomorphic.


What will God gain from punishing you, if you became appreciative and believed? God is Appreciative, Omniscient.
(Quran 4:147)

Peace on you,
bob

Monday, March 3, 2014

meditation is simple


During meditation just release all effort and all struggle. 

Let go of all concern about yourself, others, and the world. 

The presence of God will shine.  So simple!


(Quran 2:115)  To God belongs the east and the west; wherever you go there will be the presence of God.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Silence



When  we sit in Silence, we, without effort, lose our hard and fast ideas about ourselves, others and the world.  Silence is like a gentle soap that removes stains … the stains of how we think it “ought to be”.

When these stains are gone, there remains only God’s pure creation.

Such is God your Lord, there is no god except He, the Creator of all things. You shall worship Him alone. He is in control of all things. [Quran 6:102].

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

gratitude meditation



There are so very many mediation practices but, at the root, all of them encourage us to lose interest in our small-selves that we may experience the joy of innocence - that we may appreciate the wonder and mystery of the ever present now.

One of my favorite practices is the practice of gratitude or thankfulness for what God has created.  We don’t have to look far to find all manner of His wonderful creations: the room in which we are sitting, the air we breathe, the many sensations in out bodies, our friends, the many animals, plants, and microbes … the list is endless.

So … during the practice period just let go of whatever ideas pop into your head and gently return your focus on God’s amazing creations; become grateful and thankful.

give it a try …  
peace on you,
bob


God is the One who designed the night so you can rest in it, and the day lighted. God bestows many blessings upon the people, but most people are not thankful. (Quran 40:61)

You shall remember Me, that I may remember you, and be thankful to Me; do not be unappreciative. (Quran 2:152)



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Broken?

Meditation is like sitting in front of a very shiny mirror. It shows our inner dialogue. 

If you meditate regularly,  you will come to see patterns in your inner dialogue.  The primary pattern for most of us is: I’m broken now and if I do X, or Y, or Z, I will be better sometime in the future. 

As Ramana Maharshi says: “This is like dressing up like a criminal and afterwards dressing up like a policeman and trying to catch yourself.”  This is crazy!  The trick is to not commit the crime in the first place.  

What is the crime?  The crime is pretending to be broken.  The operative word here is pretending.  In this present moment - right here - right now, you are not broken.  The idea of being broken is a pretense - absolutely not true. 

Meditation is the practice of seeing that right here right now in this room you are already whole, complete, and without need.  If you think otherwise, you are just replaying some memory - you are not noticing what is so right here right now.

Practice makes perfect.

peace on  you,
bob

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Meditation is ...


Meditation is the practice of self surrender

What is this ‘self’ that we are surrendering?

When we let go of our ideas about how it OUGHT TO BE (the self) we come to see REALITY as it is.  Seeing things AS THEY ARE fills us with wonder, innocence, and gratitude.  Much better than the alternative!

Let go, let go, then let go of letting go.

peace on you,

bob

Friday, January 24, 2014

life without story


Meditation is the practice of "life without story".

All thoughts about ourselves are just 'stories' … they are not who we are.  In fact they are all wrong (every single one of them).  

When we find ourselves without story we find ourselves in Peace, Inclusion, and without need.  Ahhhhhhh.

peace on you,
bob


Monday, January 13, 2014

Meditation instruction


During practice simply surrender to Silence.  

Don't overcomplicate your practice … the direct way is the simplest. 

Peace be upon you,
bob

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

insanity

During our meditation practice we can see how much energy is put into stories that are not true.  Insanity is that practice of putting energy into stories that are not true.

Notice the insanity and stand free of it!

The Great Way is not difficult  for those who have no preferences. 
When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. 
If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. 
To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. 
When the deep meaning of things is not understood  the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail. 

Hsin-hsin Ming:
Verses on the Faith-Mind

Friday, January 3, 2014

thinking

You are not your thoughts!  This is obvious but we easily forget this fact and become slaves to what appears in the mind - reacting to life out of our past - missing the freedom to respond to life in a fresh way.

A powerful meditation technique is to just notice our thoughts without judgement and without reacting in any way to them.   So … during practice, when thoughts arise (they probably will (LOL)) just notice them and say silently to yourself: "thinking".  

In a twenty minute session you may find yourself saying: "thinking, thinking, thinking" several hundred times.  This is ok … the goal is not to quiet the mind or have better thoughts … the goal is to just notice the thoughts and, of course, conclude that you are not them.  Ahhhhh freedom!

peace on you,
bob