The Things I Carry: House of Ladosha by ALEX FRANK

We always like to know what some of our favorite artists carry in their purses…..

I spent 10 days meditating in search of enlightenment

Was very amusing reading this account of a course I attended 4 weeks ago…. And always baffles me how some good souls are incapable or unwilling to follow rules or completely misunderstand reason for doing certain activities.

I never thought I’d look forward to brushing my teeth.


Lessons from my yoga practice

My yoga teacher at the House of Yoga, Redfern coined this: “The abundance of stillness” …. so true!

Eckhart discusses the many faces of meditation and its ultimate essence: realizing the precious spaciousness in the depths of the moment.

All meditation is about accessing the spiritual dimension within you, which the Buddha called EMPTINESS. Not perhaps the best translation of the original term … SPACIOUSNESS would be a better translation than EMPTINESS.

So, finding that dimension within you, accessing  that dimension and living your life with the awareness of that dimension, which means living your life with awareness, rather than just with the mind.

So, usually people think that when somebody believes in God, or angels or the afterlife, then they are spiritual,  that makes them spiritual but that is not necessarily the case. Millions of people in this world who believe in God and have no access and not found within themselves access to the spiritual dimension.

So, we are here, in the case of some of you, perhaps new to this, for some of you to get a glimpse to this as we sit here, and watch and listen, I will endeavor  to put you in touch with that depth within you, without which your life is frustrating, and without which everything you undertake, every endeavor and every activity,  ultimately becomes frustrating.

And for others, we are here just to deepen it, to provide a reminder on a conceptual level,  to deepen the dimension they already have access to within. So that it can be sustained in everyday life. On thing is  accessing the spiritual dimension in a meditation setting, like here and now, which is already a good thing if you are able to do that, when you sit still and become still inside, another thing is to carry that with you so to speak, so that it is there when you lead your life; when you do things, talk to people, interact, even when you think, to have that in the background.

So we have 2 steps.

The first is to realise that within  you, you are not being disturbed, externally, by your mind, for e.g. what is he talking about? as the mind does not understand conceptual , conceptual mind alone is not sufficient to make a satisfying experience for you this 30 to 40 minutes here so for this to be a satisfying experience you need to have at least a glimpse of what it is that I am pointing to and a glimpse also of that which underlies the words ultimately you can only glimpse that in you, there is a stillness behind the words; as I speak within myself, and there can be stillness within you as you listen to the words.

That is already a glimpse into the spiritual dimension. A realisation that on the one hand, on one level you have the auditory perception, you are listening to the words, the visual perception, you are seeing this image and on another level you also notice that there is some stillness inside you. Where the mind is not active no need to think to add to something to this experience. You can just let it be as it is.

So the dimension stillness begins to arise or you become aware that it is there. It is always there, that is the strange thing. Always there, all-pervasive, and yet most people still don’t know that. Of course that is very much like telling a fish that there is something called water and the fish says “where? I can’t see anything called water, can you point it out to me?”

So, this is my task, to point out water you are swimming in water inside you.

As I pointed out in the beginning the Buddha called the spiritual dimension EMPTINESS which would be better translated as SPACIOUSNESS and Jesus calls it the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN which translated into modern terminology if you change the word Kingdom which is an old-fashioned concept, to DIMENSION, which is a more modern concept, the DIMENSION OF HEAVEN, you can even translate heaven into a more modern concept, to make it work for you, as a pointer. What is Heaven? Some languages have sky as the same word. what is the sky or heaven? It is SPACIOUSNESS; THE DIMENSION OF SPACIOUSNESS is the  KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

So the Buddha calls it that, Jesus calls it that, and TIME magazine calls it mumbo jumbo, which is also true from the perspective of the conceptual, conceptualizing, mind. If you are totally trapped in concepts, thoughts, then it makes no sense! And do only thing you can conceive of  a spiritual is some belief system! You say “oh these people have belief systems, these spiritual have all kinds of weird beliefs”; and of course it is not that at all.

so, it’s already there, it’s already present within you, the strange thing is it is continuously overlooked because your attention is drawn into sensory perceptions, experiencing with your senses, reaching out with your senses, listening, touching, smelling , seeing,  everything demands your attention and your attention is drawn even more strongly – the interpretations of your mind – in other words – thought activity which actually can make you forget a large part of sensual perception in modern humans, contemporary humans, there’s more thought activity than sensory perceptions, so you are being drawn yes to sensory perception, but even more so in mind activity, and then drawn also into emotions that accompany mind activity.

So your life consists we could say basically of the 3 levels, sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions. And what is overlooked is the deeper dimension in which the 3 others exist, that’s the spaciousness within you. It is always there, it is just a question of re-directing your attention to it but that is not absolutely right to say that but unfortunately language works like that. As you sit here, let’s just go through it again, you are aware of sense perceptions especially visual and auditory, yes, there may be some thoughts arising in your mind, now whatever thoughts arise in your mind here and now, obviously quite irrelevant, but that’s another matter, there may be thoughts arising from time to time, so while you are listening you may think “what’s he driving it, when are we going to start our meditation?” etc

Mumbo jumbo! Thoughts come and go and you may have emotions.. restlessness perhaps. or a thought about tomorrow what’s going to happen tomorrow and you have an emotion associated with that as we sit here notice there are these levels operating in you, and then you could ask yourself

who or what is it in me that notices these things – these sense perceptions ?

what is it in me that is aware of sense perceptions? aware that there are thoughts, aware that there is an emotion?

And that is who you are at a deeper level of the transcendent or the spiritual dimension, the awareness of all this. The still spacious consciousness  in the background so to speak. You could call it, just to briefly use an analogy, be aware of the canvas on which your life is drawn, painted.

An ancient question in spirituality is “who am I?” and if you look closely you will see that you are not your thoughts, you are not your sense perceptions,  you are not your emotions, they come and go! what remains is consciousness, awareness, that’s the water that the fish didn’t know about as far as you are concerned. and it is an amazing thing when you realise that there is a great depth in you than your surface life, that consists of sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions, they come together in different forms , so every human has a somewhat different story of coming together of sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions – form the human being, the person and they come together in each person slightly or in a very different way.

So it’s a coming together of this that this creates the temporary form that we call the person, but that can only exist in the light of consciousness, without that there is nothing there, nobody.

So your life is a little bit like this, you are watching your screen, let’s say cinema screen, all kinds of things happen there, of course the screen is inside you, so let’s imagine there is a screen inside your mind, and on that screen your life is being enacted, with your thoughts, sense perceptions, things happening, drama, this and that and wow it’s so interesting or it’s so dreadful or I can’t stand it anymore, I want more of it! I haven’t had enough yet! and so on ….

And suddenly you realise that there’s a screen that’s inside you and you are the projector, you are the light of the projector, and that changes, of course, fundamentally the way in which you relate to the events on the screen! How does it do that? well you can see for yourself! If you see that you are the light of the projector, it adds this dimension of awareness to what you are witnessing on the screen. It gives you a certain detachment from what happens because you realise that there is something more essential or fundamental in you than all the things that are going on in that screen! And if you don’t know that … you’re totally drawn into the events on the screen and for most people sooner or later the events on the screen turn into some kind of drama, “nothing lasts for very long”, “there is no security in my life”, “why do things always have to be so frustrating?”, but then you always look for more, on t he screen, for something , a solution on the screen, it;s never there, pseudo solutions come from time to time and happy moments … and then again ….that’s because you do not know who you are or what you are! it doesn’t matter whether we call it who or what. Who or what you are ESSENTIALLY –  which is the light of consciousness. which is the projector, which can be sensed, within you at any moment like NOW as an aware presence. You can sense it, not as something that you are aware of, it is a self awareness, you cannot sense it as an object that arises in your consciousness, you can only sense it as yourself, as the eternal subject of all experiences.

So you can never  say (pointing at it, outwards of you) “aah there it is! there I am, there is the awareness! ”  It’s never THERE! You can never say “I see it” or “I have it”, Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is not ” … you can’t say “oh look it’s over there! or look! there!”, but I tell you he said “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you!” – not “over there or over there!” In other words it cannot be made into an object. You cannot make yourself into an object of knowledge, also at this point of self-realisation, realising yourself as the consciousness, right now, there’s nothing that you need to know about yourself conceptually or through thought activity, in fact the more strongly you feel the presence that YOU ARE, the less thoughts there are, there may be some thoughts that arise, but you are no longer attached, or IDENTIFIED  with every thought. Drawn into every thought; there’s the screen – remember the screen is inside you – and you are the LIGHT. And then you have the awareness in your life, the conscious awareness. And that changes the way 1st it changes the way in which you experience your life, with spaciousness, things come and go but there’s no longer the clinging to them, some drama may still happen, but you are not totally drawn in, there may be disturbances still on the screen, but there always is some part of you then that is there, aware, watching , what happens out there, watching your own reactions, there is a little bit of , if you see old Buddha images, all the good old Buddha images have a hint of a smile and what that means or points to is the smile that comes, whether it is an actual smile or an inner smile, when you are not totally drawn in to the world of form. What happens on the screen , there is some freedom, there is a smile. So how you experience your life changes as the spaciousness comes in, and then how you do things also changes. How you interact with others, and there is always an element of spaciousness, when you interact with people that’s a wonderful thing, if you do not have that, all human interactions are very problematic and ultimately always unsatisfying. If there is no spaciousness, and this applies to the slightest interaction, the most short, casual meeting with a stranger, or intimate relationships, people you have lived with for a long time, if there is no element of spaciousness, it’s not a satisfying relationship. It can appear to be satisfying for a short time, for e.g. until the honeymoon is over, but then you realise “oh… !”, no matter with whom you have your honeymoon with, if you had your honeymoon with the Buddha, if you could not see the Buddha with spaciousness, all you could see is the  limitations of that particular life form! And as a form, the Buddha too, or Jesus or whoever, has his or her limitations. So how does that operate when you look at another human being? or you talk to another human being? You are aware within yourself of the fact that you are conscious you can sense the presence of consciousnesses in you, sometimes I use the word stillness to point at it , so you look at another human being and he or she is talking to you, you listen and you watch in that still space, or you look at another human being and you are not interacting, just looking and you look without labeling or if labels arise that say something about that human being, you are aware that it is just a mental label, and you see that there is the presence behind it, that you are the light of presence.

so it’s an awakening, there is much more alertness in your life, an AWAKE ALERTNESS, that watches and perceives. And much less a judge of what is being perceived. Some judgement may happen but you are NOT completely drawn to it. That’s the practice. that’s the meditation. It starts HERE NOW.

I’m inviting you now to enter with me that beautiful space of as much as you can of not thinking. Are you able to be conscious and not think? this is an opportunity to get a glimpse of that or deepen that ability in you just aware presence, sense the presence that you are without needing to say anything in your mind, the voice in your head rests, and you haven’t disappeared! isn’t that strange! because many  people think they are the voice in their head! it takes them over! and now the voice in the head subsides and you can sense very clearly that who you are essentially has not disappeared.  In fact you sense your identity more clearly, more strongly, and that is your essence identity, you actually are beyond all the things that happen on the screen of your mind. Again I am inviting you in this moment to rest with me, not to go to sleep, not to become hypnotised, I am not interested in that, I am inviting you to rest in that simple presence. And sense this presence , the sensing and the presence are ONE, I can sense my presence, subject and object, but when it actually happens -it is not actually happening, you see how inadequate every word is! – there is a self sensing of consciousness. and when that comes you might notice a slight elation almost, an aliveness, a heightened sense of aliveness, and that’s a beautiful place to go to when you have a moment and that happens many times during the day, even in a busy life, a moment when you choose to go into presence. And choose not to think. And then presence so to speak grows in you, so to speak, and the person recedes a little , and when we use the expression to grow spiritually we mean the person becomes less dense and the presence arise more and gradually the presence is what speaks and acts through you, your mind gets tuned into presence and you say things that come out of presence rather than the old stuff.

So the shift then happens from being trapped in the person and the arising of that which is beyond the person and that is the metamorphosis of the caterpillar which is the person into the butterfly so to speak.

If that happens on a large scale on our planet it would be the equivalent of the arising of a new species because a human being living in presence is very different from a human being who is unaware of that presence, who operate without that awareness; and the human being that lives in presence creates a different world from the human being that lives  completely trapped in their conditioning.

Free Awareness ‘Relaxation Retreat’ – 2011 – Part 1

  • you cannot relax in the future, your future projection is useless for you,  to try to manage SOMETHING ABOUT that
  • you can only relax with your very projection about the future, it’s always right here, right now, with whatever story happens there is no excuse possible and if there’s an excuse, that’s the story to relax into
  • whenever you notice your story you stop trying to manage the outcome of your projection
  • you find this OKness, your freedom (freedom from your own ideas and emotions!!),  right here, right now 
  • instead of freedom from you can say FREEDOM IN , freedom in your emotions, freedom in your thoughts by simply relaxing into them not trying to be anybody, not knowing anything
  •  only a thought can be unhappy with the thought 
  • worrying about how we feel is what we have been taught but it is not necessary, it’s optional, it creates suffering and avoidance and feeling like you are being harmed  
  • if you are totally vulnerable even as much as 2 seconds, in the midst of what we call disturbed emotions, for those 2 seconds we confirm experientially that there’s really nothing happening, of course it’s happening, but that which we try to protect by standing separate and avoiding as if THIS can be harmed somehow, when we are totally vulnerable, totally fearless for 2 secs, just experience whatever is experienced without believing in the stories , without focussing on anything , we allow it to overtake us, to overwhelm us , and in that conscious vulnerability, you notice that you are not harmed , it’s just happening and its own undoing and it increases in intensity, it reaches a boiling point and it decreases in intensity and you’re still here, so there was no reason to really fear it, and the fear and the avoidance made it feel like such an enemy but really in essence it is still only a perception of awareness, it is timeless  perfection, its essence is that empty perfection 
  • rest openly with whatever comes
  • we are addicted to good feelings, but good feelings come and go!
  • openness as an experience, as a sensation is just that
  • every sensation is perceived, so sensation is purely perception
  • there is an awareness of every perception, you know that you feel open and you know that you feel contracted
  • so your well-being is not in a feeling , it is in knowing, the fact that you’re knowing this experience because THAT’S WHAT IS ALWAYS WITH YOU
  • FEELINGS COME AND GO and if you investigate into the sensation of openness you can’t find happiness in there , you can’t find well-being in there , you can’t even find freedom in there , it’s just a sensation!
  • can you find happiness? can you find stable well-being? can you find freedom? it’s just another sensation and of course our initial response is “this feels free” but does it contain any freedom? it’s freedom because of the sensation, if so then it is not freedom! freedom has to be freedom always because it is not bound – that’s the very definition of freedom! not dependent on what you  feel!
  • so to be able to rest even with contraction and with your desire for openness , to relax into that sensation which is just another sensation, again you are naturally aware of  this spontaneous here and now freedom which doesn’t mean anything
  • don’t try to look for awareness
  • don’t try to escape
  • enjoy the ride, as if you are all there is
  • the space of your direct experience is allowing everything and it is playing with itself, enjoy it ! and it has nothing to do with what happened and what is about to happen or who said what … nothing! it’s just AS IT IS, free from being tied to CAUSATION
  • so we relax causality, we relax our projection of time and people and others and me , we relax those stories and we fully appreciate and experience whatever is experienced, fearlessly more and more, without needing to escape it because we find that we don’t, we really don’t there’s an equanimity to even the intensity of rage

This Weekend Retreat Bentinho Massaro emphasizes ‘Relaxation’ as one of the key instructions for total conviction in freedom being Always Already the case and for the seeking tendency to lay down its armory.

To relax all focus for 2-to-5 seconds, throughout every experience, again and again, is the most used instruction in this particular retreat and one that I return attention to consistently.

Relaxation means to let go of knowing what you should and shouldn’t experience. It means to no know anything about anything for 2-to-5 seconds.

Whatever appears on the face of awareness, we always have the option to: A) Worry about what is appearing and think we know what it means and whether it is right or wrong, or: B) Relax our focus and ideas about what is experienced and simple BE, for a moment.

This simple technique is one of few powerful techniques that establish one in being free from suffering.