Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Waves and the Ocean

Waves are the things that happen, from the smallest thought to world-changing events. The shit that happens.

The Ocean is the Big Picture, the unity that is partly seen, or occasionally glimpsed. It is  the mystery that cannot be explained. The substratum of consciousness.

There is the ocean. And there are waves on the ocean. If you see only the waves they are as we usually see the events of life. There is randomness and coincidence and an apparent capriciousness in how things happen. We may think about it and take it personally. There are times and places, some to be sought out and some avoided. We dodge and weave to avoid impact and seek out sheltered places. And possibly end up blaming god for his all-too-human careless nature.

But if you also include the ocean where the waves play on the surface, the waves themselves would look exactly the same but their impact and influence would be perceived differently. The waves do have their significance, but they are limited in perception to place and time. They come, they happen, they go. Storms and calm are a part of the weather cycle to be dealt with, or not, or accepted, or not. 

Riding the waves

There is a certain inevitability; an acceptance of experience to be had. Not being influenced beyond a certain point by the randomness of the waves and seeking out the inscrutability of the ocean is the learning, and there the wisdom is found. 

Wisdom is not in the actual riding of the waves, no matter how magnificently we do it; but it is in riding the waves a certain way that we begin to see better the waves as part of the ocean. Riding the waves is incidental to the knowledge of the ocean on which the waves take place.

We experience the waves, liking and disliking as they come and go, but there is also some deeper understanding, which goes beyond endurance and desire, to wisdom acquired through ongoing wave-like experience. 

The breath of air far away may have caused the storm; our place too apparently coincidental in the thick of it. No matter how the waves themselves might shape up, instead of accidents of nature and timing they are part of the uniqueness of the ocean, just as our experience in the same scheme of things is too. 

Discovering purpose in randomness

We may accept this, in part, when we read about it, consider it philosophically and think about it. But when the waves are bigger, wilder, more unpredictable than ever before we have been able to deal with, then we lose balance and get tossed and thrown. And our philosophical viewpoint is also tossed and thrown out. But the actual experience of riding the waves can eventually bring us to the real knowledge. It depends on the point of view.

Every wave, every experience, is an opportunity to discover more the connection between wave and ocean, through mastering the art of riding the waves. The inevitability of waves is not random fate, even if it may seem so. But more even than just dealing with things we don’t understand, there is a purpose outlined in this existence for every participant in creation. To realise that purpose and put it into conscious practice is the goal of life. That’s what we’re here for. 

Thoughts, hopes and actions of the individual will not suddenly change - even good people  make bad decisions - but the end purpose of living will be found if the waves of individual nature are accepted and understood in relation to the ocean of consciousness. To reject it out of hand - usually as a result of the strength of the storm - is actually to lose sight of the purpose. 

Waves without an ocean?

And that What-about-life question is also one of the waves; one that tries to define the ocean itself. It is an essential question, usually overlooked until that particular wave comes along. Even when ocean, consciousness or god, are rejected or neglected, the question about the vacuum that exists when you know there is nothing of permanence is the point of departure on this particular road of discovery: 

That waves arise out of the ocean and return to the ocean; that waves of every type and description are a part of the ocean and do not exist separately from the ocean; and that no matter how we arrange ourselves to accommodate it nothing changes the truth of that.

Once the goal, one’s personal aim in life, is known then the voyage begins. Waves will never stop. But if the measure and the movement is in keeping with the personal aim, the waves of the world and the waves of the mind will be understood and dealt with differently than before. There will be knowledge of when to advance, when to retreat; when to speak out and when to be silent; when to move and when to be still. 

We make mistakes, many mistakes, continually. We hear our own advice and don't heed it; we take wrong turnings and go off track - sometimes even as we do it we know it. That’s part of the deal, it's how we learn, so we travel on. Forgive yourself; forgive others. We have seen the chart. We have a compass. There is something to trust somewhere, a star to steer by. But most of all, in going forward where we are sure we must go - dealing with the random and surprising events of life as they turn up - the awareness of the all-embracing nature of the ocean is surely, gradually going to become clearer.

Life is a meditation - meditation is life

This is the real purpose of meditation. We may have the breath to fall back on; we may have powerful practices that awaken the energy; we may have the magic of mantra that dispels the darkness; we may have faith in external objects, people or forces that strengthen our practice. 

But make no mistake, however we go about it, meditation will eventually bring us to see and confront all the waves in the mind in due course. But undeceived by thought about it. So that instead of waves causing attention to be wholly distracted by the ever-changing storm or calm, we may instead catch a glimpse, a glimmer of the vastness of the ocean. 

If that happens, it will have been worth it to pursue it, what you had to do for it. So there remains the choice to do it that way or have life come and get you for the same purpose? Well, it does anyway, but that’s another matter.

For a short story on the same theme, if you haven’t already, please go to Life's Purpose

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Power of Awareness Silent Meditation Retreats 2020

Just to be clear, the participation is in silence, there will of course be guidance
Turn a challenge into a blessed release

Anahata Yoga Centre, South Island, NZ   9 day program  27 March - 5 April
Contact:  Anahata Yoga Centre

Rocklyn Yoga Ashram VIC, Australia   9 day program  17 - 26 April
Contact:  Rocklyn Yoga Ashram

Dorrigo,  northern NSW, Australia  5 day program  8 - 12 May
Contact:  Shaktimudra

Hamilton, North Island, NZ   5 day program  29 May - 2 June
Contact:  Kailash

Uruguay,  South America   9 day program   26 June - 5 July
Contact:  Janardhana

Change comes from within

Yet how much time and attention can we spare to keep a lasting connection with our own inner nature? No matter how hard we try, while there are overriding distractions drawing our attention back into the obligations and necessities of life, the inner connection remains frustratingly elusive. And the distractions are persistent, so we can go on hearing that inner call without being able to answer it. 

Two essentials to make a deeper connection 

The first is to create the most appropriate environment for that to happen, and make that the only priority, free of all distractions for some time. That includes the specific time given exclusively for that purpose, in these courses 5 - 10 days; a quiet, calm and supportive environment; and the necessary guidance to know how to let go of the outer and turn the attention fully to the inner. 

The second, which a lot of people don’t think about, or take for granted, is what to do when you get in there. What kind of relationship do we have with our own inner self? How exactly is the effort made? Because in yogic understanding it is totally understood that who we appear to be on the outside is not what we find ourselves to be on the inside. 

How it's done

For this you will find the guidance timely and non-intrusive. In a nutshell it’s intended to say, Look here, look into this, this unexplored corner, this something not yet understood; this is interesting. We don't try too hard, we are patient and let it unfold - there are many unknown aspects of ourselves to explore. 

It's a journey

We have to journey, we have to travel on, through the knowledge of who we take ourselves to be to find out who we really are. It’s an adventure so sometimes it's expansive and enlightening and sometimes it can be confronting and challenging. And isn't to worth doing it knowingly rather than being caught by surprise

The simple truth

But here is the truth, the open secret if you like: every experience on the path of self knowledge, when observed clearly and accurately, whether taken to be positive or negative, is always a definite step forward out of the limitation of our present understanding upward into wisdom and light. That is how we travel. That is what meditation can do.

For more on Awareness, what it is, how to practice:  Power of Awareness

And some thoughts from those who have something to say about their experience:

  • Amazing, highly recommended!  Very rarely do we have the opportunity to find a way to be comfortable with everything that occurs within us.  This was such an opportunity; to sit and go beyond our constructed beliefs to a light deep within.
  • Up for a challenge? Looking to move forward in your life? Then go to this retreat and see what happens.
  • If you seek the truth … seek out this course.
  • It will change your life if you let it.
  • Exceeded all expectation - absolutely brilliant.
  • Set me on the right direction after years of procrastinating.
  • A life-changing experience in a beautiful setting.
  • Great teacher.  Great venue.
  • Sw. Anandakumar is an excellent master of the mind - very perceptive - funny - so does not intimidate. 
  • Sw. Anandakumar is an inspirational teacher.  There is simplicity and clarity in his instruction.
  • This is a highly recommended retreat for professional yoga teachers and practitioners committed to experiencing an extended meditation retreat, skilfully guided by Swami Anandakumar.  The stillness and clarity gained over 10 days of learning the systematic approach to meditation and establishing oneself in the quiet mind as the observer is a profound experience.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

We want to know, but hesitate to know at the same time

There is a spirit of adventure in self discovery
Adventure is when you don't know what will happen next

I’ve been teaching 5 - 9 day meditation courses, held mainly in silence, for nearly 10 years now. They aim to define a time, create the right environment, and give guidance for the best opportunity to go deeper into the inner world and go further on the path of discovery and self knowledge. 
It takes something to take a slice out of your life to spend some time away from everything with the sole purpose of becoming more exposed to yourself and discover… who knows what? Anyone who attends one of these courses usually has a clear intention and is aware they are taking a definitive step in that direction. However, every time, it comes up somewhere in the course that, though I want to know, I do, I hesitate to know, and I do, at the same time.

Or to put it more directly, you discover something in yourself that is clearly inaccurate, built on false premises, and proven in some personal way to be so, but when push come to shove, still we hesitate to make the change. Why is that?

To change or not to change?

It is very difficult to change something in the mind that has been established there for a long time even though, whether it was originally accurate or not, it might well have passed its use-by date. Times, events and people change, but these well established states of mind do not change easily even when the evidence is against them and in spite of the sincerity of our desire to do so. This is a fact, often intuitively understood, but easily overlooked, and it is wiser and in the end easier and much less complicated to accept it as quickly and as fully as possible.

Prefer the familiar

It is just so much easier to slip into autopilot and let things go on in the same old way. There’s no actual harm in that, is there? Everybody does it. And no-one condemns you for being the same today as yesterday. In fact people are more comfortable with that. We like people to be sound, reliable… meaning, like me, and like you’ve always been. And if we change those we know well will have to accept that too, or not. But everyone has the right to change don’t they, and if the time is right there’s nothing to stop you from moving on is there?


Change is definitely the harder task, requiring more effort in every way. It’s not just that it’s easier to stay this way, than to go that way, it’s actually a whole nest of problems with knock-on effects all down the line to effect substantial change. Many of history’s worst decisions have been made as a continuation of plans already made that are just too much trouble to change even in the face of new evidence and changing circumstances - like walking into disaster.  Much of the First World War, for instance, if you’re interested

Fear of the unknown

Then, what are we going to come across when we do go inside and look deeper? We really don’t know - or do we? There is always some intuitive insight at work somewhere that knows what we will have to face, what we know is in us. It’s the still, small voice inside, and amongst the clamour of other things, it’s got to be a particular decision whether to listen to it and act on it or not. And until we do decide, it’s that fear of the unknown, or the partially suspected that gives pause, and causes the hesitation. 

So much already invested

Built on supposition though it may be, I have invested so much in what I have come to believe in myself as real and permanent. Is it real, isn’t it real - or forget about it? Because maybe my view of myself, and then my career, my relationships, my deeply felt beliefs, hopes and dreams, in the end may turn out to be unsupported and unreliable after all. It’d be like selling out, even if the investment is no longer bringing in the expected returns. But that would be a heaviness that eventually gives way to lightness.

Proud of my ignorance

Of course this doesn’t apply to you or me, but boy is there a lot of it about. Well if I’m not gonna change, might as well make a virtue out of it - the right to be honoured not for the quality or accuracy of belief, but for the tenacity with which I hold it and hold onto it, even if it is a fantasy. Some people will do anything for a little attention, but present a different face to the world, and you end up believing it.

No fun in it

There’s no doubt that if there is a deeper insight into the inaccuracies of life then a realignment of viewpoint is sure to follow. And it may seem as if there is going to be less fun to be had out there, even as it also becomes clear that the ‘fun’ from before was unreliable as a lasting proposition for happiness. I knew someone once who said that he wished he hadn’t learnt what he had through his own spiritual aspiration, because life was easier and less complicated and more fun before. There is a lot of fun in truth, but it’s a different kind of fun than fantasy, more like an adventure

No guarantee of the outcome

Even if the path of self knowledge is pursued sincerely and diligently for some time where’s the guarantee of a worthwhile outcome? Those who have gone before assure us that there is, but who believes such things these days? Caught in the middle of the journey when the highway has turned from three lanes at the beginning into a steep and rocky road with hidden obstacles there is a temptation to turn back for a better road, regardless of the destination. But can’t have arrival without the travel.

There is eternal beauty in accuracy

It is testing and trying, but there is one thing that is overlooked, the quality that keeps the eye on the road and the destination in mind: faith. Faith is naivety isn’t it? Who believes in anything you can’t test and satisfy in your mind first? Well, that’s a catch 22: if we observe it accurately it’s that same mind that proves itself unequal in this particular matter - good in the material world, but in the inner life, accurately knowing one’s true nature, that’s outside its jurisdiction. Missing that catch will lead to a lot of problems.

There’s much more to this than meets the eye. There are people, places, philosophies and practices that can awaken faith and keep it alive. But you have to begin to question long held beliefs and get away from the ongoing influences for some time to get access to it. But when internalised, tested though it may be from time time, it is the most valuable thing we can call our own, because in the end it proves itself to be very much our own.