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



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