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



Monday, December 28, 2015

PAYING ATTENTION

A friend of mine summarized meditation practice as : “the practice of paying attention and not making up stuff.”

Ahhh … the things we make up about spiritual practice could fill a sizable library when in fact, while meditating, we are just sitting there doing nothing.

With enough practice you too will be able to shed all your fantasies  and come to see the shocking reality that:

1. Nothing is yours
2. God is in control of all matters, and
3. Everything is temporary.  

To sit in this knowledge is enlightenment.

peace on you,
bob


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

meditation is the practice of release.


We are very good at accumulating physical objects - many of which we never use.  Some of us even rent storage vaults to keep the stuff we “will need someday”. 

We are also quite skilled at accumulating useless beliefs and beliefs that make us miserable. Unfortunately it is not possible (yet) to rent space in someone else’s brain to offload our useless beliefs. 

Decluttering ‘things’ is pretty straightforward  (if you don’t value them) - you just make a trip to Goodwill or the trash.  Letting go of beliefs is a little more challenging.  Meditation to the rescue!

Meditation is the practice of release - the practice of letting go - letting go of that which arises in the mind. It has been said, and I believe it to be true, that all human suffering is caused by the making real of that which arises in the mind.  

Meditation is the conscious act of noticing that everything that arises in the mind during the practice session is unreal.  After all we are just sitting there!!!

A powerful form of practice is:  when thoughts arise in the mind, just note that they are not relevant (real) in the present moment as you are just sitting still - then become aware of your body sitting (feel your posture, feel the chair, feel your hands and so forth). Just sit.

Until we discover a way to rent a “storage locker” for thoughts this will have to do.

Peace on you,
bob









Saturday, October 24, 2015

peaceful mind


Is not the goal of meditation to have “peace of mind”?  

For most of us the mind is anything but peaceful.  Some even call it a ‘bad-neighborhood’ - full of  negative self judgement, unattained goals, and all manner of nasty ideas about others.  It need not be that way!

Meditation is like decluttering - simply discarding that which interferes with a clean room.  Decluttering is easy if we don’t attach significance to the objects in the room.   So it is with meditation.

What are the “objects in the room” during meditation.  Clearly they are, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.  When we discard these, we end up with a empty ‘room’ - an empty and peaceful mind.

So easy … simply never take anything that arises in the mind as significant or valuable and you will see that the mind was always undisturbed - peaceful - like an empty room - just full of peace.

peace on you,
bob

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Islam meets no-self continued

Continuing with the topic “Islam meets No-Self”, I'd like to suggest a meditation technique based on the second of the three Quranic themes mentioned in my last post: God is in control of all matters.

1.To God belongs everything (Nothing is mine)
2.God is control of all matters, and
3.Everything in this this life is temporary.

These grand themes are referenced throughout the Quran.  Here are two of the specific verses:

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

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)

What is meant by God controls all matters?  The Quran is quite specific about this.  It includes: the cycle of life and death of all physical things, hearing and eyesight, credit for good and evil deeds, every soul, life circumstances including wealth and or poverty, and guiding and sending astray those whom He chooses. In a word everything including the gift of our free will. 

So … not only does God own everything (previous post), He controls all matters.

Given this, why do we spend so much time worrying about things over which we have absolutely no control?  It is not only a waste of time, it is in denial of reality – the reality that, even though we may choose between this and that, the outcomes of our choices are completely controlled by God.

So, here's the meditation practice associated with this idea.  As is usual with most silent meditation practices, I sit in a comfortable position just noticing what arises for me - thoughts, physical sensations feelings, or input from our physical senses (noises, smells, and so forth). As these events occur, I notice them and without reacting to them in any particular way I remember that God is in charge.  I like to say to myself mentally: “I'm not in charge, I ***trust God knows best then relax back into the Silence.  Letting go of the delusion that I am in control of outcomes brings such great peace!

***Say: “Nothing can happen to us except what God has ordained for us.  He is Our Master. It is in God that the believers should put their trust.” (Quran 9:51)

As examples, if we hear noises that initially I deem to be disturbing I remember that I am not in charge of 'noises' but God is … then I relax back into the Silence trusting God knows best about 'noises' - let go, trust God.  Or, if I start to worry about a health matter, I relax and remember that God is in charge of all things including my health, trusting that God knows best. Let go, trust God. Naturally, this does not mean that I don't later go to a doctor but that ultimately the outcome of the matter will be determined by God. 

A final thought about this technique. The idea is not to diminish or erase the 'ego' but rather to come to see things as they truly are – to see the reality that God is in charge and that He knows what is best for us.  Practicing this idea during meditation is a big step in realizing the truth of "no-self". Again - “who am I” if I own nothing and I'm not in charge of outcomes.

In my next post I’ll suggest a meditation technique for the remaining Quranic theme: “everything is temporary”.

Peace on you,
bob

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Islam meets "no-self"

I try to keep my meditation posts short but I’m going to make an exception for the next three or four posts as this topic “Islam meets No-Self” requires it.

I’m going to suggest a few meditation techniques based on my understanding of the Quran that are much in line with other “oneness” or "no-self" Eastern teachings. I have personally used these Quran-based techniques; they are powerful and have lead me to a grateful and peaceful place.

Many well known sages (Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargatta Maharaj and modern teachers like Scott Kiloby) state that the ultimate goal of meditation and spiritual practice is to realize the absence of self. The question “You ought to see if you have an ego before you spend so much time trying to tame it or destroy it” is often advanced by these wise ones.

“No-Self” teachers suggest meditation techniques based on “Self inquiry” - That is, answering the question: “Who am I?”. Who is it that thinks, feels, senses, and is trying to find lasting happiness? While these techniques are certainly effective there is another approach based on the Quran that approaches the question “Who am I” in a different way that I prefer.

Of the many grand spiritual themes in the Quran, three of them in particular point to “No-Self”. They are (with sample Quranic verses):


1. To God belongs everything (Nothing is mine)
2. God is control of all matters, and
3. Everything in this life is temporary.

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

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)

Let’s consider the first of these themes: “To God belongs everything”. In the Quran as in the Bible and Torah God is the Creator of everything: atoms, molecules, heat, time, plants, animals, and humans. Therefore, because the creator of something owns that something we can conclude that we own nothing. Without ownership who are we? Clearly, not the king of the castle that most of us imagine ourselves to be. Realizing that we own nothing (including our own bodies) is both shocking and liberating - liberating in the sense that when something appears, disappears, or changes we can rest in the knowledge that it belongs to someone else. Ahhh ... instant freedom from possession.

The meditation practice that I use to cement the Quranic claim that I own nothing is based on the usual silent meditation format. Sit in silence and as thoughts, feelings, and sensations arise I just let them come and go and remind myself that they are not mine. So for example if a worry about “my job” arises during the practice period, I just notice the thought and note to myself that the “job” is not mine … everything belongs to God. If, as another example, I notice the breath, I just note that it is not mine - it is God's. Daily practice of this technique leads to a profound “letting go” of things. Letting go always brings peace and gratitude!

A final note on this practice. The idea with this practice is not to diminish or erase the 'ego' but rather to come to see things as they truly are – to see the reality that nothing is mine.  This is a giant step in realizing the truth of "no-self"

In the next few posts I’ll discuss and suggest meditation techniques for the two remaining Quranic themes: “God is in control of all matters” and “Everything is temporary”.

May peace be upon you,
bob




Monday, September 7, 2015

submit


Meditation is at, the root, a letting go - letting go of your ideas of how you think it ought to be and submitting to how the Divine created it and sustains it.

By letting go you come to see life in a completely new way - deeply interconnected, not belonging to you, and temporary. Hearts rejoice! 

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Franz Kafka

They are the ones whose hearts rejoice in remembering God. Absolutely, by remembering God, the hearts rejoice.
(Quran 13:28)

Friday, July 31, 2015

let go


Meditation is the practice of letting go.

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

Practice this often and you will come to see things as they are.  This is life's grand adventure

I can tell you that to see things as they are (not as we think they ought to be) is stunning.  

Practice, practice, practice.


Which of your Lord's marvels can you deny? (Quran 55:18)

peace on you,
bob

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

practice doing nothing



When we sit in silent meditation we are in fact doing nothing.  We may imagine that we are decluttering our minds, that we are becoming enlightened in some way, or that we are opening a third eye.  In reality we are just sitting there - doing nothing.

So many of our difficulties in life are caused by overreacting  — that is  “not riding the horse in the direction it is going”.  Meditation is the practice of “doing nothing”. Doing nothing is a very valuable skill.

With skill in sitting in silence (i.e. doing nothing), comes appreciation and gratitude for the myriad blessings at our disposal which for the most part are unnoticed.

Practice doing nothing - become grateful.

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

Nothing happens to you except in accordance with God's will. Anyone who believes in God, He will guide his heart. God is fully aware of all things. 
(Quran 64:11)

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)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

SANITY



Insanity is the act of pumping energy into stories that are not true.

Most of what we think about is insane.  Much of that insanity has to do with the idea of possession: owning property, controlling others and valuing one thing over another.

Meditation is the practice of releasing such ideas.

When we notice some idea about possession arising during our practice period, we notice that (right now) the idea is absurd (i.e. insane). Then we notice the idea disappear on its own.  Of course, laughter is encouraged during practice.  

If most of our ideas about possession are insane, what is sanity when it comes to ideas of ownership?

Big hint:  
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

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Submit



Meditation is the practice of noticing how life was CREATED not how we think it OUGHT to be.

The mind naturally becomes quiescent when exterior stimulation subsides.  Silent meditation is the purposeful removal of exterior stimulus.  

When the mind becomes quiescent we come to see things as God created them.  When presented with His marvels … we gladly submit.  Ahhhh the peace!

Which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?
(Quran 53:55)

O you who believe, you shall observe God as He should be observed, and do not die except as Submitters. (Quran 3:102)



Saturday, May 16, 2015

The quietest spot on earth



Regular meditation practice leads us naturally to the “Quiet Place”.  

The “Quiet Place” is where there is no worry, no striving, and no suffering.  The “Quiet Place” can be found in a construction zone, in a football stadium during a big play, and even during a major earthquake.  It is always available … It cannot be lost or found.  

To understand meditation, practice meditation. With regular silent practice you will be lead effortlessly to the “Quiet Place” … the place of true wisdom about yourself ... the answer to the question: "Who am I?". 

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

let go ...


Meditation is the practice of release, letting go, surrendering.   What do we release during our practice?  

In a word - everything!  We release our ideas of ownership, our notions of control, and the delusion that anything in this life is permanent.  Let go, let go, let go, and then let go of letting go.  

Why do this?  Happiness comes from cooperating with the design of life rather than fighting it.

Let go; cooperate with the design of life; be happy.  So simple.

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)

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)

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, April 4, 2015

seeing life as it is

Meditation leads us to see life “as it IS” and away from how we think it “OUGHT to be”.  How IS it really?

The many prophets, sages, and messengers of God point to how it IS.  Life is fluid.  Lao Tzu points to the horrible consequences of rigid views of life.  Regular daily practice  will lead you to see the wisdom in Lao Tzu’s teaching.

The living are soft and yielding; 
the dead are rigid and stiff. 
Living plants are flexible and tender; 
the dead are brittle and dry. 

Those who are stiff and rigid 
are the disciple of death. 
Those who are soft and yielding 
are the disciples of life. 

The rigid and stiff will be broken. 
The soft and yielding will overcome.

Lao Tzu (c.604 - 531 B.C.)

As-salamu alaykum
bob

Saturday, March 28, 2015

why meditation?

When we sit in silent meditation we let go of how we think things OUGHT to be and come to "True Seeing" - seeing things as they ARE. In other words, seeing life without such hard and fast ideas of  “me” and “mine” --- seeing life as Allah created it. 

With this understanding comes naturally gratitude, reverence, and worship - The  fruits of meditation. 

I did not create the jinns and the humans except to worship Me alone. 
(Quran 51:56)

We showed him the two paths, then, he is either appreciative, or unappreciative. (Quran 76:3)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

B-grade movie


Meditation is like a mirror that shows us the content of our minds.

For most of us what is reflected in the mirror is a B-grade movie: obvious plot, repetitive, boring lead character, about the past and the future, and mostly negative.

Daily meditation is the practice of watching “our movie” over and over.  As the movie is “B-grade”, we naturally lose interest in it and move along to that wonderful field to which the poet Rumi refers:

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about."
Rumi

Meditation leads to better taste in movies.

peace on you,
bob

Friday, March 6, 2015

Meditation is the search for what to give up.

Realization is certainty that there is no one who would ever search for anything nor give up anything. 


God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great. (Quran 2:255)

bob

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reaching That which is always True



Meditation is emptying - when we empty utterly we come to That which cannot be lost or found - That which is Eternal. 

Simply do this:
Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.

(Course in Miracles - Lesson 189)

Friday, February 13, 2015

appreciation


Meditation is simply the practice of noticing that NONE of your beliefs are true.

When we escape from our "prison of beliefs" we arrive at the place where we can see things as they actually ARE; then we are overwhelmed with GRATITUDE and APPRECIATION.

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)

Friday, February 6, 2015

sitting


When we sit in silent mediation there is no path, no slow progress, no special experience, no bliss, no backsliding, and no insight.  There is only God's delightful  gift of sitting.  Anything else is dreaming!

Everything is in accordance with God's will; He knows what is declared, and what is hidden. (Quran 87:7)

Friday, January 16, 2015

TRUE SEEING

Meditation is the practice of release leading to "True Seeing".  True seeing is seeing things as they ARE not as I think thing OUGHT to be.  Empty yourself utterly and it will become 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 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)

When others and the world are seen this way peace floods the heart.

peace on you,
bob

Monday, January 5, 2015

ohhh emptying again - don't you have a different message

Meditation, at the root, is emptying.  What is it that we are discarding?

Meditation is the practice of emptying ourselves of how we think it OUGHT to be and thereby become able to notice how it IS.  

When we sit in silence we might have many ideas about what we OUGHT to be doing: quieting our minds, finding some peace of mind, becoming whole, or even ‘enlightened’.  This is rubbish.  When we do these things we are just adding to our inner turmoil and moving further away from what Jesus calls the “Kingdom of Heaven”.

But if we simply notice our thoughts of how it OUGHT to be and gently let them go, we move closer to the “Kingdom of Heaven - how it IS.  Try it, you will be amazed - just empty yourself utterly.


And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (NIV: Matthew 18:3)