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














Wednesday, 10 July 2019

9 Day Meditation Course in India January 2020 - Update

Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, Southern India
5 - 14 January 2020

If you have felt any spontaneous or intuitive inclination about this meditation course in India, but have remained undecided,  this is a gentle reminder to let you know that now is a good time to decide and confirm, and book the relevant flights to India while the prices are still good. 

And if this is your first contact with the idea, the same applies. The original article informing of the course is below to give an impression and some practical details. 

Just to add that if you are interested in meditation as a medium of self knowledge and expanding wisdom, this is the ideal place to be with its inherent power to make possible what is not found in other places. And 10 days is an ideal time to immerse yourself in that most important of questions, Who am I, really, and where am I going from here?

Contact Linda

Following on from three previous courses, the next 9 day Power of Awareness Meditation Course is being organised in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, in southern India, in January 2020

Why Tiruvannamalai?

It's the ideal place for meditation

Tiruvannamalai is in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu roughly midway between Chennai and Bengaluru (Bangalore). It is home to three well-known powerful spiritual institutions:

Arunachala, the Holy Hill of southern India. It is impossible to put into words the power that some places have, or why that should be. It is better to let the mind be still and simply let experience demonstrate. 

Arunachala was the presence and power that gave rise to the Annamalaiyar Temple. At the foot of the mountain, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the largest temples of its kind in India. 

The temple was also the first stopping place after arriving in Tiruvannamalai for Sri Ramana Maharshi, then a 16 year old boy who had come to a state of total realisation, enlightenment, through the experience of a short but very intense and final self inquiry. 

The state he arrived at was complete and never altered for the rest of his life. He was, and remains, revered throughout his life for his spiritual perfection. He lived on or at the foot of the Hill and never left, giving spiritual guidance, often in silence, to the thousands who came to see him. It is that silence which is the palpable inspiration and uplift to everyone who visits here today.

Spiritual seekers from all over the world find their way to Tiruvannamalai, sometimes by mysterious means. It is best summed up in this quote lifted from Wikipedia:

Arunachala is a secret place, kshetra. It is this place that bestows self-knowledge, jnana. And because most people have so many other desires and do not truly want that knowledge, Arunachala has always remained comparatively little known. But to those few who seek jnana, Arunachala always makes itself known through some means or other.

Dedicated practitioners of meditation that stay for some time come to realise the secret of the place, that there is an invisible force quietly guiding the sincere seeker back to their true home. In this way it is the ideal place for meditation.

The constant in all meditation practice

The course itself is based on the principle central to meditation practice: the discovery and expansion of Awareness - it’s the constant in all meditation practice - to realise the power invested in awareness, as a medium to discover and know yourself more fully, more deeply, more directly and more accurately. 

Previous meditation experience helps but it is not essential. If the  inner desire and inspiration are there for real self knowledge beyond appearances, to face up to one’s limitations to get to the truth, that is all you really need. You can read further in the blog about this to see where this is coming from. 

With some guidance and the silent support of the environment this can lead to an enriching, enlightening, even life-changing experience.

Practical details - how it works:
What follows here covers general information. More detailed information and advice will be sent out to anyone who writes in expressing their interest in the course

Dates and Times

The dates of the 9 day course are 5 - 14 January 2019. The celebration of Pongal follows immediately after on 15 January

The hours of the course will be from 9 am - 3.30 pm daily. This time each day will include three meditation sessions, a short chanting session of simple mantras, a deep relaxation session (yoga nidra), and of course lunch and tea. This schedule allows for attendance at the Ramana Ashram morning and evening chanting and puja programs. In this way there is opportunity for a full day of sadhana from early morning until night-time if you so wish.

Costings

The fee for the cost of venue hire, lunch and tea for the full 9 days is US $100. This will need to be paid in full at the start of the course to Linda Fancy, the manager of the venue and course coordinator. It can be paid in any of the major currencies according to the rate of exchange on that day.

No deposit is required. If you are interested in the course write in for further information - this constitutes an inquiry not a commitment. Then more information would be sent  leaving you to make a decision and commitment. Your cooperation would then be requested to honour any commitment made. 

Contact: Linda

Please note there is no fee for the tuition of the course itself. In keeping with the principle of dakshina - an exchange of material support for spiritual values - what you consider an appropriate donation can be made at the end of the course.

About travel and accomodation

Those wishing to attend will need to arrange their own travel arrangements, and choice and booking of residence. This may sound daunting at first but with some guidelines, which will be sent out in due course, it’s something you quickly get used to. It’s really part of the 'travel experience' and integrates well into the rhythm of the life and the course itself. 

Some general guidelines - like travel to Tiruvannamalai from Chennai, and information on some choices of accomodation - will be sent out to anyone who writes in.

The venue is in the country about 7 kilometres out of town. Rickshaw travel to and from the course venue each day will be set up from the first day. During previous courses everyone quickly found their own preference, like continuing with the rickshaw or hiring a bicycle or moped for the 7 k ride.

Conditions for a successful course

Continuity is an essential part of the 9 day experience. So there should be an understanding that it is essential to start the course from the beginning - please note that late arrivals will unfortunately not be able to join. And attendance needs to be continuous for the duration of the course. So, with allowances for sickness, non-attendance during the course will forfeit further attendance thereafter.

I would highly recommend getting to Tiruvannamalai itself some time before the course is scheduled to begin, to acclimatise and tune in; the more time you can manage the better.


Thoughts on the climate 

The climate is agreeable, generally warm, sometimes a bit hot, but have something warm for cooler moments at night. Through the same January season, I have been here many times with two lower covers, two upper covers, a warm top, and a cover on top at night, and that’s about it. But you know, climate change…

CONTACT DETAILS

So, if you hear and inner voice and are inspired, please write to this email, and more information - like, accomodation suggestions, travel directions, etc - will be sent to you. That contact email again:

Linda

Shanti 

Anandakumar

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Power of Awareness Silent Meditation Retreats 2019-20

Just to be clear, the participation is in silence, there will of course be guidance

Perth, Western Australia  Weekend program  8 - 10 November
Contact:  Information and booking

Rocklyn Yoga Ashram, Victoria, Australia  5 day program  21 - 25 November
Contact:  Rocklyn Yoga Ashram

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.