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Posted: 04 February 2007 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I spent a couple of days in Ashland - boy, the food is good in these New Age vortex places. Too bad the housing is so expensive.
I'm writing about satsang for you folks who aren't quite up to speed on your New Age meme structures.
The satsang tradition in India was mostly the sort of thing where you sit at the feet of the guru. But there were some gurus, like Nisargadatta, who had very interesting things to say, which attracted Westerners.
Then some of those Westerners started holding satsang here, with or without authorization from the Indian guru's.
My favorite teacher, Adyashanti, was authorized to teach Zen, but does satsang instead. One of the people he has invited to teach, was visiting Ashland.
You might think all New Age people are very into gurus with flower garlands and bare feet, but I'm here to tell you this is not the case. The East/West spiritual fusion is proceeding at a good clip. Satsang is often now called 'dialogue' or just 'meeting'. It's not a 'workshop' which is a different direction this East/West fusion is taking. 
Marlies, the person who was leading, is from Holland and very down-to-earth, very relaxed, able to speak right to people. We were in a living room, about 15-20 people, some came both nights, as I did. We sat in silence for about 20 minutes to begin.
The teaching was about trusting the process of opening up identity, and taking it into all your relationships.
This process is one of 'letting go' and the mysterious thing is that you do not let go. You can allow it, meet it half-way, but you can't 'do' it. It feels like losing control, but of course control was always an illusion.
This is not 'Let go and let God'. There is no 'God' in the traditions of either Zen or Advaita.
And yet we use the word 'God' as a short-hand for whatever that is, which we are meeting. The official word in Advaita is consciousness, but that doesn't work for me, and apparently not for Marlies, either. Zen teachers often say 'Big Mind' but I don't think we should call it 'mind' with all we know about brain/mind now.  Words like 'Dharmakaya' probably won't do, either. Eventually we'll agree on a terminology.
Right now, the important thing is to agree on the experience.
Several years ago in meditation I felt like some aliens from outer space were going to get me. That's when I realized I needed to either get out of this business or get help. And help, good help, just happened to be available - people who know how frightening it can be to go into silence and empty space, and how thoughts can go way off base, and what to do about it.
Presence is neither out there or in here, is both universal and personal, transcends all boundaries, and has a power all its own. That's the experience - a most satisfying experience - call it what you will.

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Posted: 05 February 2007 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Just being in the presence of a person who has achieved that condition can help us to move toward it—it can be catching because in part there is a certain attitude involved and attitude can be transmitted.

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Posted: 01 April 2007 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Pat

I am a hit and miss meditator.  I can get to where I feel like I have emptied my mind but then my leg cramps or I drift off to how that guy pulvarized the other on Ultimate Fighting last night.

I do feel like I am getting benefits from mediation.  These benefits are more real than say, what prayer used to bring me.  Maybe because I am not expecting any return communication.

If you are a successful meditator, what kind of advice ahve you heard given to people stuck like I think I am who want to get unstuck?

oh and do you have an opinion on the satsang found in Eckankar?  I studied with a 5th level initiate for some time about 2 years ago.  He was a very peaceful man.

Noggin

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Posted: 02 April 2007 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Noggin - I took a quick glance at the Eckankar website and that glance told me it’s not my cup of tea. If you have a serious interest in that approach, and wanted to discuss it further, I would do some more investigation. If I lived where I think you live, I would be going up to Santa Cruz for satsang with Adyashanti.
That doesn’t mean it would be better for you than Eckankar would be. No one can tell you what’s going to help you open to your own true nature.
Since you asked very specifically about meditation, I’d like to suggest a few things.
First - find a way of sitting which makes you comfortable, yet alert. And try walking meditation, especially if you can go to the beach. Just walk normally and breathe deeply and notice where you are.
Next - don’t try to ‘clear your mind’ or be peaceful or calm or any particular way. There are all sorts of reasons to meditate, and calming the thoughts may be one of them, but in the long run that’s not very interesting. Just witness and as the song says ‘Let it be’. 
Finally - be clear about WHY you are practicing meditation. It really helps to find a teacher or tradition that resonates with what you want, and there are lots of choices available now…so many different books and websites and people and groups who want to help you (and take your money and get you to join them - so beware!) and actually can help you, or at least have helped me.
Helped me what? Helped me open a bit more to who I really am. Meditation, in that context, is not any sort of imposition, but a process of discovery. Yes, it’s difficult to discover how ‘out of control’ our thought patterns are - but it’s the truth that sets us free, right? So we start where our attention is now and discover other possibilities.
Again - Adyashanti - there’s a piece on his website called ‘true meditation’. Let me look up the exact link. And again - what has helped me may not be the right thing for you at all, maybe at this time you need something else and may never have any interest in the people I like.
This is not ‘tolerance’ or ‘moderation’ but just how things are - and makes for very delightful conversation! I’d love to hear more about your experience with meditation, and could say more about mine. Much more!
Look in the next block for the ‘true meditation’ link.

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Posted: 02 April 2007 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Short piece on ‘True meditation’ by Adyashanti -

http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=writings_inner&writingid=12

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Posted: 02 April 2007 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]Noggin - I took a quick glance at the Eckankar website and that glance told me it’s not my cup of tea. If you have a serious interest in that approach, and wanted to discuss it further, I would do some more investigation.

Hi Pat, no I did research it extensively off and on for about 9 months awhile back.  I am no longer interested in Eckankar.  The interested dropped sharply when I discovered that if I wanted to leave Eckankar, I would be doomed to start my reincarnation process over.  I was told that I had gained much in my millions of years of evolution to human form.  Quitting Eckankar would have dire consequences to that reincarnation evolution.  I would be sent back to a beginning reincarnation point as plant fungus.

My eyes got a little big.  I sat there dumbstruck and looked at Gaylen (my guide) to see if he was going to laugh.  He remained stoic.  I quietly dismissed myself from his presence and never called him again.  But he tried to call me several times.

If I lived where I think you live, I would be going up to Santa Cruz for satsang with Adyashanti.
That doesn’t mean it would be better for you than Eckankar would be. No one can tell you what’s going to help you open to your own true nature.

I am about 40 minutes south of Santa Cruz.

thank you very much for the insights on meditation.

I did one group meditation session with Eckankar.  I sat in a room with others, they read out of the Eck satsang, we did the HU chant together, did some breathing.  That was the most significant experience I had in a group.  Kind of like we were all connected but we weren’t.  I remember feeling so much love in the room.

Then I began to meditate more on my own.  I admit it has been very spotty.  But if I am having a huge stress week or month or whatever, I will meditate and sometimes that seems to alleviate some of the stress.

I think I am getting hung up on submitting or connecting to something larger than myself.  I am an atheist and so I don’t know what to think about all of that.  I admit that some great collective consciousness I do not have the capacity to understand right now could exist, and I do seem to feel some sort of ebb and flow in meditation… but… you know.  Or maybe you don’t.

I continue to try because I seem to benefit from it.  There is an illusionary side to meditation and also a vantage point from me that perhaps I need something like this to fill the void in my life from not praying any more.  I used to pray three times a day as a staunch theist. Prayer became rote and ritualistic… empty… and I am seeing that meditation can fall into that.  The reason I asked my questions was to see if you would acknowledge sticking points with those who meditate, perhaps provide perspective as to how to get more out of it.

I really appreciate the time you spent answering my post.

Noggin

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Posted: 02 April 2007 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Noggin, if you’re seriously interested in meditation there are many different groups in the area where you live.  My own suggestion would be to check out the website http://www.arica.org and look for local members (there is a 14 day program being presented in my area of British Columbia this July, too).  If you are less serious than that, many of the mindfulness groups have centers around Santa Cruz and Big Sur.  Cheers.

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Posted: 03 April 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Noggin—Back to a fungus! That is too much. I was interested to learn recently that I am more closely related to fungus than to a sunflower (I think I learned that from The Ancestor’s Tale) so at least the Eck people are giving us that much. Amazing. That is exactly the sort of ridiculous cult stuff that is unfortunately so entangled with a ‘new age’ approach to spirituality. No wonder so many people recoil even from the word ‘meditation’. Not to mention ‘spirituality’ - I totally support you in avoiding anything that impinges on your atheism.

Burt - I don’t know if you want to write about any personal involvedment you have with the group you mentioned, but I would be curious to hear about your experience. You mentioned their website awhile ago - I looked at it and found it to be a bit too much of a ‘program’ for my taste. It reminded me of ‘Shambhala Training’ - that’s what my old Buddhist group is doing, and the heirarchy, implied promises of progress and a bunch of other stuff had me very confused for a very long time.

And…although I like satsang, I have friends who are very, very suspicious of a ‘personality cult’ that can develop around this. It’s helpful to compare experiences so we know what to watch out for. 

Noggin - I want to get back to the basic question of what you want from meditation, and it sounds like the main thing is stress reduction??
Jon Kabat-Zinn has some good advice on that - I really enjoyed his book ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’ It’s not the least bit theistic.
The teachers I’m listening to these days are probably too theistic for you, even if they don’t talk about God or spirit overtly, they are teaching about awakening to Oneness or something religious like that.
So the resources you want will use words like ‘mindfulness’ and not require any group affiliation at all. No snakes in the mailbox if you decide to quit! If you have time to wander around a bookstore, I’m sure you’ll find something that will get you ‘unstuck’ and does not require you share some elaborate belief system.
I’m really interested in what happens, if you feel like writing about it more, and I can say more about my experience. Right now I can say that even the not-so-good and confusing meditation teachings I’ve been exposed to have helped me develop in some way.
I think your experience with being Mormon gives you something uniquely valuable, like insight into how belief operates, how to recognize it’s power and destructive aspects. All beliefs share some common ground at the emotional level, wouldn’t you say?

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Posted: 03 April 2007 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]
Burt - I don’t know if you want to write about any personal involvedment you have with the group you mentioned, but I would be curious to hear about your experience. You mentioned their website awhile ago - I looked at it and found it to be a bit too much of a ‘program’ for my taste. It reminded me of ‘Shambhala Training’ - that’s what my old Buddhist group is doing, and the heirarchy, implied promises of progress and a bunch of other stuff had me very confused for a very long time.

Don’t plan to write too much, but can give brief history.  I got involved in 1973 after returning from two years in Iran where I’d encountered sufism.  On the flight home I read John Lilly’s book Center of the Cyclone and was very impressed by the first half and reacted to the second half with “too bad he got into this mystical mumbo-jumbo.”  Shortly after getting back, I travelled to a new job and saw a poster announcing meetings to do “Arica work.”  I decided that I ought not to have judged Lilly without experience, so went to an evening.  Several months after that I went to a “40-day training.”  One of the things that most impressed me was the attitude presented: “Don’t analyze before hand, there will be a number of different exerciese.  Do the exercise, maintaining awareness while you do and observe the results.  Treat each exercise as an experiment.”  I also got into the theory presented.  So, have been involved ever since, sometimes more and sometimes taking a break.  It’s hard to say if I’ve benefitted or not, not having an ensemble of me to make statistical comparisons. LOL  Nevertheless, I’ve found the work very useful in my own life.  My wife, on the other hand, has found some of the work useful but has her own practices that she prefers.  As for your feelings about “programmed” there is a specific sequence of training programs, and as always in any group of people gathered together doing this sort of work there are people at all different levels of progress and some fall into cult-like behavior (although there are a number of built in ways to discourage this).  Cheers!

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Posted: 05 April 2007 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Burt, thank you for that personal history. Yes, here we are in an experiment without the ability to go back and do something different to see how that would work. That’s why it’s so interesting to hear from other people. Any ideas I had about the Arica organization are now modified by what I’ve heard from you.

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Posted: 19 May 2007 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]Noggin—Back to a fungus! That is too much.

I know it!  They are so serious about that.  That’s Eckankar’s “gotcha”.  Every religion has there very own cute lil prescription of specialized doom that they cook up just for lil ole you ifyou decide to ever leave them.  I swear it’s like a predictable formula..  ever noticed it?  Purgatory, outer darkness, flames of hell, to plant fungus.

Noggin - I want to get back to the basic question of what you want from meditation, and it sounds like the main thing is stress reduction??

since I last visited this thread I havenot meditated even once.  Nor have I given it any thought.  I think I have become lazy with that.

I am kind of an angry person right now and it appears to be getting some of the best of me.  I recognize that many claim meditation helps with this as it can center an individual. Not so much stress reduction but if I were to meditate again, it would be more along the lines to find more of a balance.

I guess I have lost “faith” that I would be helping myself by meditating.

Right now I can say that even the not-so-good and confusing meditation teachings I’ve been exposed to have helped me develop in some way.

I think that one must be open to the potential good claimed by meditation for that good to approach.  Closed will only keep it at bay.

I think your experience with being Mormon gives you something uniquely valuable, like insight into how belief operates, how to recognize it’s power and destructive aspects. All beliefs share some common ground at the emotional level, wouldn’t you say?

Maybe.  I know exactly how Mormon belief operates… (though my Mormon critics rabidly deny that I know anything at all about it.. else why would I leave Mormonism?)  Part of my reasons to keep meditation away recently was because I have an uneasy feeling that suggests I might have problems with ideological boundaries.  While I am fiercely protective of what appears to be most real to me, I am fearful of losing that to another more powerful ideology.  I recently read that former cult members are many times more likely to get swept up in another “worthy but wayward cause” than non former cult members.  I don’t understand that because of how paranoid I am these days.  I am ever the skeptic.  Yet here I am ascribed to the suggestions that the gods do not exist.  To many, that is the supreme example of a worthy but wayward cause.

It’s just so wild.

Noggin

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Posted: 19 May 2007 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Noggin - I was sorry to read in another thread that your dog friend Jake had to be put down.
On the subject of meditation, I’m very happy that you have the good sense not to be caught in a spiral of ‘I should do some meditation’. Much better to forget the whole thing.
And yes, it does seem obvious that someone who was drawn into one cult is at risk for being pulled into another. I have seen it happen. Not exactly to me, although I have felt drawn into cult-like attitudes, I strongly resisted after my experience with Trungpa’s (Tibetan Buddhist) group.
What does it take to learn our lessons? It’s going to play itself out one way or another.
There are lots of positive ways to deal with anger. If you find yourself taking it out on your kids (that happened to me at one point) that’s not a time to get even more angry with yourself, but to reach out. I’m not saying this thinking you don’t know it, but just to add my voice and encouragement to your momentum.
I’m probably not alone in this forum thinking that you going to church now with your family must create a lot of internal conflict.
Isn’t it interesting the way we’ve come to care for each other? Words on a screen, and yet this deep instinct for community. Cults are simply a perversion of that instinct.

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Posted: 19 May 2007 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]
since I last visited this thread I havenot meditated even once.  Nor have I given it any thought.  I think I have become lazy with that.

I am kind of an angry person right now and it appears to be getting some of the best of me.  I recognize that many claim meditation helps with this as it can center an individual. Not so much stress reduction but if I were to meditate again, it would be more along the lines to find more of a balance.

I guess I have lost “faith” that I would be helping myself by meditating.

Anger is just free energy, if controlled it can be very useful when some major effort is required for accomplishment.

“The wise make lust their steed and anger their sword.” al Ghazali (1059 - 1111)

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Posted: 19 May 2007 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]
Isn’t it interesting the way we’ve come to care for each other? Words on a screen, and yet this deep instinct for community. Cults are simply a perversion of that instinct.

I wouldn’t say perversion, just a lower level of group behavior.  Get a large random group of people together and they will, after a while, automatically split into factions.  Get a group of people together to work toward some goal and, unless there are strong countermeasures, cult behavior will appear; at least until the people involved have developed to a level of maturity beyond the need for group approval and mutual ego-consideration.  Anybody forming a group needs to take that into account, or be swallowed by it (the group energy feeds the leader who becomes what the group projects, a la Jim Jones).

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Posted: 16 July 2007 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]Satsang is often now called ‘dialogue’ or just ‘meeting’.

Pat, more than else this to say hello.

A meeting ... a dialog or even a discourse ... an encounter.
I slid over from Soto Zen (after over a decade) into Vajrayana not after meeting my teacher (I’d met him a year previously) but after meeting the teacher who became my bodhisattva preceptor ... the guru for thousands, administrator of countless monasteries and nunneries ... international diplomat ... translator ... an incredible man. What struck me? Charisma? Nooooooo ... that he was even with the typically selfless and tireless daily schedule, as I say, “loose as a goose”. heh

Karma Kagyu is about direct transmission. Which doesn’t bear directly on your point, but then this: when I go along with Krishna Dass into the territory of kirtan, though I am not “theistic” ... “Jai sita Ram, jai jai Hanuman!!”

Joy. Tender pleasure. Comfort beyond mere convenience. Ease. Profound relaxation. “Bliss” hardly covers it.

heh ... like a mute describing the flavour of desert honey am I!

grin

Namaste!!
__{*}__

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Posted: 16 July 2007 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“BenTrem”]Comfort beyond mere convenience. Ease. Profound relaxation. “Bliss” hardly covers it.

heh ... like a mute describing the flavour of desert honey am I!

Naaah. More like a fig describing the texture of the interior of an ape’s large intestine from the standpoint of already having been digested.

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