Unordinary Perspectives

The illusion of the ordinary (coarse, mundane) view is generated in the cognitive mind. The primary driver of the illusion is the mind's general contraction to create a conceptual perception of 'self'.  This 'self' is a product of the mind constructed from limited sensory data, memory, programming, indoctrination, emotion, desire, and imagination.  In short, it is insubstantial.

Our primary perception of the material universe is a product of our mind's processing of the sensory data it receives.  Yet, we know that the data available to the mind is limited.  Even under optimal conditions, our eyes see only a small portion of the light spectrum yielding limited resolution, our ears hear only a small range of mechanical vibration frequencies and amplitudes - our smell, taste, and touch senses are similarly limited.  Still, the mind constructs a model of the material world that it presents to itself as our core reality -- a sensory consciousness.

If the mind left it there, our awareness might have a reasonably accurate view of the world within the limitations of primary perception.  But, it attempts to compensate for the limited data by filling in the data gaps using experience (much of it inaccurate), hard-wire instructions (instincts that are often outdated), training, indoctrination and extrapolation.

Still, the mind could function reasonably as a programmable model-rendering application operating in a powerful, dynamic computer to display an objective, though error-prone, rendering of the immediate environment.  But, it doesn't stop there.  It develops and is then influenced greatly by the sense of a 'self''.  From 'self'' comes a gross deterioration of mind consciousness - delusions created by emotions such as fear, greed, regret, pride and anger - the insecurities and desires we experience as humans.  Then, there are the delusions that come to us from 'other' - our training, indoctrination, and judgment from 'other' who, generally lost in their own  illusions, inflict their own sense of 'self' onto us.

Ordinary awakening, a level of realization, occurs when the mind's ordinary conceptual perspective of 'self' is challenged and discarded. It's very simplistic at some levels, but the realization is profound and the experience can be transformational because stepping out of the ordinary view is to step out of our uncommon reality - uncommon because each 'self' is skewed to create a different conceptual reality.   Awakening from the ordinary view is a shift to an expanded perception beyond 'self' and 'other' (observer and object) that recognizes the insubstantial (empty) content of our ordinary world view.  The egocentric 'self'' consciousness that is limited by self-identity within its sensory-based material world of time and space is transcended.

In esoteric terms, the shift is from you to the God within you, without religious dogmas, indoctrination, and free of egoic self-importance.  It is that which is I am that I am.  "You" were a mental construct within "me", created by "me", and projected from "me" to be observed by "me".

Letting go of the ordinary view is so deceptively simple that it is easily derailed.   Elaborate pathways construct abstractions within the mind so quickly that the opportunity to correct the view is generally missed.  Even subtle errors can lead to gross distortions through the mind's proliferative nature.  Cascades of mental events can be triggered by minor misinterpretations.

The shift in perspective leads to a flow of further realizations that flood the mind with new insights.  Trying to remember them is futile though there is soon a realization that there is nothing to remember.  The expanded state is concerned with the present moment and this gives one access to information as the need arises.  Shifting to the present moment yields a heightened sense of awareness.  Energy is not bound by regrets of the past or the anxiety of a prospective future.  Trust in the flow yields the freedom that is often referred to by spiritual teachers.

As one unravels the mind, one is left with the feeling of being a Stranger in a Strange Land- a feeling of disorientation accompanied by a transient euphoria.  There was concern that one has entered into another artificial construct - which reality is real?  There was an uncertainty of what to do in even simple situations.  Yet, the old paradigm that is focused tangibly on the physical world is obviously archaic in the expanded view.  There is no going back without permitting a re-collapse of consciousness.

The perspective has always been there.  We've touched on the experience when the mind was still.  It gets overwhelmed by sense consciousness and pushed aside by the strategic mind that thinks it will improve upon fundamental reality.  One must quiet the mind to allow awareness beyond the bounds of rational thought.  It's one of those tricky things where you can't get there by "trying" - rather, allow intensely.

Having the intellectual understanding of this is important, but it also hampers the realization as the intellect will conceptualize the process and permit the ego to either discount it or latch onto it to claim it as its own.  Yet, the process of realization in the ordinary awakening occurs outside of mind consciousness.  Ego and conceptualization constantly reappear in many forms with varying degrees of cleverness and subtlety.  There was the recurring question, "Why didn't I realize this before?"  It was 'self' coming in to feel embarrassed that it didn't know everything - kind of an apology to itself in a way that asks to be let back in.  Then it would strengthen to claim, "Now, we're the enlightened one."   Observe some of the charismatic spiritual leaders and you may notice this one.   Laziness also appears, as if there's no more work to do.  There are many slippery attempts to contract back into an egocentric perspective and one must be very diligent to protect against them.

Holding the view becomes the practice.  There are still old ingrained patterns and triggers (kilesas, in Buddhist terms) that provoke the mind to contract in an instant.  One must stay present in a new world.

There is no path to Nirvana. Nirvana is the path. 
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Winter Retreat 2012, Plum Village

For me, there was a path to such a level of realization through examining the emptiness of form and 'self' within stillness of the mind.  There are many other paths that lead to the same place.  The facts had been there, but the process induced by re-orienting the mind to experience its own insubstantial essence was profound.  Also, there is an interesting distinction between the two paths of "heart" and "mind" of Buddhist psychology.  The Sutras teach compassion to reach selflessness through acts of respect, kindness and generosity while the path through the mind points out an understanding within the experience of selflessness.  Such differences, in the end, may make little difference.   Thich Nhat Hanh's message above is a multifaceted gem that seems to point to the important fact that one can access Nirvana from anywhere in the present moment - it's not "over there" somewhere to be found at a future time.  It's Zen style, with layers of subtle significance, can be frustratingly simplistic when one can't see the path one is standing on.

In that piercing the illusion feels like a re-birth of consciousness, I found the following inviting for a second chance to learn:
"Everything in life comes to you as a teacher," said an old Cherokee woman to her grandson.  "Pay attention.  Learn quickly."
 - Adapted from "That Which You are Seeking is Causing You to Seek" by Cheri Huber

Disclaimer:  Walk your own truth.

Final edits 1/10/13
Further edits: 1/22/13
Tweeks: 5/9/13


Master Sheng-Yao; Stephen Chan (1982)

When you understand mind,
you understand everything.
 - Nagarjuna

The Mahamudra revealed the fabric of the illusion.  The mixed experiences of Esalen resolved into coherent determination.  Books were digested (Pointing Out the Dharmakaya, Wild Awakening, Pointing Out the Great Way) along with numerous shorter texts, none of which are particularly accessible to the Western mind.  The practice deepened into a sustainable presence while sitting meditation was useful for grounding.

Books about the Tibetan practice don't tell you what you will find - only where to look for it.  They warn that one should not attempt to learn Mahamudra except by direct oral guidance from a lineage teacher.  At least one author claims that key pieces of the teachings were left out of the root texts intentionally to protect them from those who would attempt to learn the Mahamudra without proper guidance.  However, obsession overwhelmed patience with the guarded, slow pace of the retreat.  So, aware of the irony embedded in grasping for Buddhist teachings, the path was explored further while a search to find a formal teacher willing to take me deeper into this was initiated.  I trusted that the modern Western books, authored by lineage holders, were complete and that intelligence and persistence would enable me to muscle my way down the wisdom path alone for awhile.

The Mahamudra points out the way through the mind to the Dharmakaya - the primordial awareness that lies on the "other side" of the veils.  It is the fabric of the unmanifested conscious reality.  It is more fundamental than the xero point that I'd witnessed which, by comparison, seems now to be a highly differentiated state of clarity.

I haven't written here since the Esalen retreat and I've wondered how I would write about this -- and even considered whether I should write anything in order to respect and protect the highly-guarded teachings.  It's now been over 3 months since I first recognized the primordial state, as best I can determine.  Though there are valid concerns, it still seems that a more open approach would benefit those who are genuinely called to the teachings.  What can I write that begins to approach the profundity without risking misinterpretations that are the cause of concern?

As one dissolves into emptiness, one is able to observe the process of thought origination and mental construct formation.  One realizes the mechanism through which our ordinary view is constructed in the mind - the illusion that Buddhists talk about - like a dream without substance or basis -- empty.   One observes how thoughts originate from seeds within a mist and how our mind recognizes familiar patterns to quickly generate an image, thought, or behavior.  The seeds appear to be those revealed in the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination.  This is the place where diligent attention can reveal opportunities to correct one's view, according to Buddhist psychology, and alleviate the grip of samsaric suffering common to human experience.

Some thoughts and mental constructs - visionary-like images - seem to form out of  the wisps of the mind's mist around seeds germinated in the primordial awareness.  Here, one realizes that such processes originate outside of "self" - from a subtle intelligence beyond egoic consciousness.  It is a communication that each of us seem differentially adept to receiving through different conduits, whether we realize it or not.

Perhaps, the most fundamental insight is gained by looking back at who is observing the process. This is referred to as the "lion's gaze" in the teachings - turning attention from the distraction of what is being observed to discover who is doing the observing.  Who is the observer?  The answer is profound, but not surprising.

The portal to the Dharmakaya becomes crusted-over with the junk we accumulate during an unenlightened lifetime.  This junk blocks the primordial signals as would encrusted corrosion on a radio antennae and obscures its presence within the mind.  I'm quite certain that this is the junk I was shown that started me on this journey (see Revealed) - the junk that cripples the human experience.  Yet, if one maintains and protects the state of emptiness in stillness and clarity, the portal to the original state is permitted to re-open. From there, one can extend and differentiate into higher realms without losing sight of the fundamental fabric of life.

The experiences and the realizations continue to deepen.  It's very elegant and very profound.  It ties together many concepts I've wrestled with.  Yet, just as ego informs me that I've reached enlightenment, I get a whole new batch of awakenings, followed by another and another - then, ego must try again.  It's clear that this is only a path to the portal and a new unveiled, sustainable perspective awaits.

One of the instructors at the Esalen retreat told me that the Sutras reveal two paths to enlightenment: one through wisdom and the other through the heart.  At the time, I felt relief to learn that wisdom alone would get me there.  Then he said, "Once you get there, you realize that it's the same path."  Though I'm not certain which Sutras he referred to (*), the concept he conveyed turned out to be an important clue that let me know that I was on the right path.

(*) Buddha taught two paths to enlightenment: one through understanding the Four Noble Truths and one through understanding dependent origination.

Disclaimer:  A reader might infer from this article that the Mahamudra is a path of intellectual conceptualization.  It is not.  Language and intellect are conceptual and neither are capable of conveying the subtle realizations of Mahamudra.  This article only attempts to document experiences and insights encountered by one via inquiries into the manifestations of 'self'.  It is not intended as a guide or formal teaching and should not be considered authoritative.

The Light Gets In

Sunset at Esalen

Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack, a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.  
 - Leonard Cohen

It's difficult to fathom experiencing feelings of disappointment while sitting in meditation during a week-long retreat at such a beautiful place as Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  For centuries, others who have gone before me have endured real hardships - stark living conditions and even  persecution - in pursuit of their awakening.  By contrast, I sat in relative luxury, with every need cared for.  Every delicious meal was prepared for us lovingly from the finest natural sources.  At the end of any session, I could soak in natural hot spring baths while gazing out over the waves of the Pacific Ocean.  Still, I felt solemn and agitated by recent events and discovered myself pushing to move on.  Grasping for realizations fueled further discontent.

We were there to learn a Tibetan Buddhist meditation known as Mahamudra.  I wrestled with the new style that differed from that to which I had become accustomed.  Many of the preliminaries were similar - concentrate the mind by focusing on the breath, then ease up and allow insights into the focused mind.  But, here, as in Zazen, the meditation is done with eyes open and the sessions were much shorter - 10 or 15 minutes in the beginning, extending to 50 minutes or so by the end of the week - compared to long hours of sitting and walking in silence at a Vipassana retreat.  The first half of the retreat seemed like pedestrian Buddhism, adding further to my frustration.  Yet, careful attention to the basic instructions proved helpful and the retreat got more interesting as the week progressed.

The focus of the retreat was squarely on emptiness (see Emptiness) - seeing each thought and manifestation as a construct of the mind - letting go of all attachments.  With the realization that our world is empty of form or substance, ordinary views are seen as projections of the mind that are reflected back onto itself.  Even self, especially self, is realized as empty in Mahamudra.
Esalen Baths above the Pacific Ocean

Beloved Naropa, this treasure of Buddhahood belongs to you and to all beings.  Obsessive use of meditative disciplines or perennial study of scripture and philosophy will never bring forth this wonderful realization, this truth which is natural to awareness, because the mind that desperately desires to reach another realm or level of experience inadvertently ignores the basic light that constitutes all experience.
Crossing from the old waters to the new, the journey has been difficult at times.  Migrating from the small tributary in which I was born, to the mainstream and over, around and through the dams that blocked the way.  I'd learned to live in relative comfort, with some luxuries - spending my life along the edges of the mainstream.  But, the mainstream was shallow and brackish, so I continued upstream with enough hubris to think that I could reach the headwaters - to live a life in clarity by my own sense and standards.  The long journey met with interesting people and ideas, but the dissatisfaction remained in the mundane.  Now, after so many clues ignored only now, I realize the headwaters to be polluted at their source - bound in the matrix - there is little hope to find nirvana there.  Washed, then, downstream to the ocean that receives all waters, most of what and who I knew remain behind in the slack waters of the mundane river as awareness floats  within the vast ocean.

The ocean isn't constrained by the forces that restrict a river's flow - it cannot be dammed or controlled.  The mainstream's veil of the mundane dissolves in it's reflection.  Clear waters from unspoiled rivers and streams gather to dilute and wash away the crud.  But, the vastness of the ocean overwhelms the old navigation system that carries only maps of the mundane river.  Where am I?  Who am I? What is my heading?  Unwilling to return to the big river, awareness drifts in the currents and eddies of the void while the coarse physical body seeks sustainability. It's the great adventure in search of oneself. 

Waterfalls below Meditation Hall  

The one who fabricates any division in consciousness betrays the friendship of Mahamudra. Cease all activity that separates, abandon even the desire to be free from desires and allow the thinking process to rise and fall smoothly as waves on a shoreless ocean. The one who never dwells in abstraction and whose only principle is never to divide or separate upholds the trust of Mahamudra.

"Pointing Out The Great Way" is a style of teaching from the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (e.g., "Ocean of Definitive Meaning" and "Pointing Out the Dharmakaya", both by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche).  It has been condensed by Daniel Brown and adapted for week-long retreats.  His book, by that title, is a re-write of his PhD thesis.  We're fortunate to have the teachings adopted and compressed for Westerners with such rigor and insight.  The retreat was lead with great care and respect by Susan Mickel and George Protos.  It wouldn't be appropriate, nor possible, to detail the teachings and techniques in this brief summary.  Simplistically, one quiets (concentrates) the mind to a subtle state and trains it to realize the constructs of form and the nature of the mind. It was a very fortunate introduction to a profound treatise on thought origination, perception and conception.


 Supreme knowing knows no separate subject or object.  Supreme action acts resourcefully without any array of instruments.  Supreme attainment attains the goal without past, future or present. 
In the blissful embrace of Mahamudra, negative viewpoints and their instincts are burned without remainder, like camphor.  Through the open door of Mahamudra, the deluded state of self-imprisonment is easily left behind forever.

Consciousness is like a reflection - seeing, but not holding substance.  "Self" and "others" are constructs of the mind.  There is no separation between awareness and the object it sees - no duality.  Beyond all hopes, fears and preference,  consciousness of self dissolves into the primordial awareness - the dharmakaya - and sees by illumination rather than projection. The truth lies beyond the reactivity of the mind - not grasping, not averting.  When we conceptualize, we create separation from direct experience.  Instead, true awareness sees everything freshly in the present moment.

Within subtle stillness, I saw the bubbles (membranes) again - and bubbles within bubbles within bubbles, cf. Ego and Revealed.  They are an abstraction of the mind representing metaphorical levels of differentiated awareness contained within the primordial source awareness.  I see them in my subtle mind, but they appear genuine and literal.  They reflect insight into the manner in which the universe is constructed.  It's interesting how they manifest in imagery. Where do the images originate?  I'm not aware of any effort to create them.  The inherent intelligence is difficult to hold long enough to delineate by deconstruction - lying beyond rational thought.

In the coarse view, several individuals sit in a circle within the wood yurt.  In the intellectual view, the walls and everything within them are known to be composed of energy trapped in stardust, the people animated by some divine force.   In the subtle view, the boundaries of the walls and bodies sitting in our circle dissolve into a faint glow and the space between material objects illuminates.  True awareness reflects itself to itself without preference for objects or other.  Is this another slippery, empty construct?  How do we discern? Finally, there is the void - vast disembodied awareness - arupajhana (Theraveda, see Jhana) - the stable primordial ocean, but without knowledge or insight.  States of mind are states of mind.  The mind sees the constructs that it creates.  Remember the lion's gaze.  What is the difference between what we perceive and what we project?  

Hummingbird - Camouflaged except for it's Red Head

Remain in the flow of sheer awareness. Mahamudra neither accepts nor rejects any current of energy, internal or external. Since the ground consciousness is never born into any realm of being, nothing can add to or subtract from it. Nothing can obstruct or stain it.  When awareness rests here, the appearance of division and conflict disappears into original reality.

The unbound, focused mind is permeable to insight - a great benefit of meditation.  That's where the cracks exposed themselves as allies in the quest. The cracks - those disappointments and disatisfactions - are stories our minds tell us.  They are the imperfections of our realities transformed to a script we live out.  They are everywhere until we let go of everything.

The cracks are important to examine.  We tend to ignore them because they ruin the picture of the monuments and chasms that we have created. But, look closely.  They show us the imperfection of what we accept in our reality.  Seeing them, truly seeing them as they exist without any attempt to mask them or make them right, is to acknowledge our coarse reality as imperfect.  That's the important clue.  Most of us have learned to accept reality as imperfect - and build dreams of imperfection that we project to ourselves and others.  No - true awareness is perfect awareness.  Perhaps, we don't have to accept this veil of imperfection.   
Top/Down View of the Baths
Awakening seems to be more of a process than an experience.  Most of us have felt it at one time or another and then allowed it to fade away.  We talk ourselves out of it as something unsustainable or unreal.  We see it in others and call them foolish.  Sustain it!  That's the practice that the yogis and gurus talk about.  Practice staying with it.  Don't allow your mind to talk you out of it - that's the trap we've fallen into.  The awakened mind has perfected its real nature and sees beyond the veil with unadulterated vision - consistently.  There is a shift in perception.  The subtle world comes forth and the coarse world fades into the components of its construction.  Embrace the cracks.  Be brave.  Exploit the cracks in the perception of the coarse world to see the subtle light that shines through the haze.

When maturity is reached, the river flows smoothly and patiently with the powerful sweep of the Ganges.  Emptying into the ocean of Mahamudra, the water becomes ever-expanding light that pours into great Clear Light without direction, destination, division, distinction or description. 

-- Exerpts from All-Embracing Mahamudra

Tilopa's Mahamudra Instruction to Naropa
English translation by Lex Hixon
Full-length translations are here >>
And, that's how the light got in ...

I Am the One

You're It
                           - I'dia

I've been fascinated by a concept of reaching down to what I've called the xero point - the event horizon of the human soul.  Remove the physical manifestations, intellect, mental chatter, all ego, illusions and psychic crud, then look to see if you can find that point of origin of one's own life energy.

My immediate interest in this can be traced back to my vision a few years ago of the "stuff" we carry around with us - the vision of light beings covered and lost within piles of crud, those manifestations of spiritual, mental and physical form that weigh us down.  The vision distinguished those few who were clear of the encumbrances and shined their inner light brightly.  They are the beings who have extended from the xero point in harmonic resonance and clarity of essence.  Reaching xero point could be a reset, thus, a chance to experience pure essence and an opportunity to re-emerge cleansed of the useless crud that piles up during the course of our lives.

I reached such a point, without effort, after trying on prior occasions.  It was a subtle state, void of thought or sensation.  I drifted, bathed in a powerful flowing light that emanated from an ordered reaction of golden plasma.  Impulsively, outside of time, I asked, "Since I'm here, let me see God."  I'm not sure why I asked because I knew that I was looking at the Source of All Things in my mind's eye - perhaps, I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing an opportunity.  I was surprised by the immediate reply that was delivered by a bold, clairaudient voice - familiar, warm and friendly.  "There is no God.  You're It!"  It came with a cosmic chuckle rather than reverence - I'dia seemed amused.  Yet, the voice carried the truth that had been uncertain.  I am of It and there is nothing profound "out there" that isn't "in here".  The experience discerned both a realization of being and a knowing of mind.

It's a passage in one's involution.  Some seem to think that we shouldn't talk about it.  The observation is difficult to describe as observation and description come from different dimensions of mind.   I can't describe it from there, only from here, and the object is dependent upon the point of view from which it is observed.  I've discussed before the limitations of language, but it's more problematic than that.  By talking about it carelessly, we might obscure the path for others with embellishments from our own limitations and illusions.  Yet, by describing it too cryptically, we cloak the experience in mysticism.  So, though understanding that a realization can't be reached by discourse or comprehension, it seems reasonable to establish some common dialogue as an encouragement to 'others' for the benefit of All.

Involution is a term, I've since learned, that Meher Baba invoked to describe the pathway to God-realization.  He taught that the aim of all beings in creation and the very purpose of creation is the attainment of God-realization. A soul is God-realized when it has first traversed evolution, taking each successive form in creation until it achieves full consciousness in the human form.  It then traverses the inner planes of consciousness, through the process of involution, to achieve consciousness of its true original identity as God.

Meher Baba's Seven Planes of Involution

I might dispute the inherent hierarchy and linearity of the diagram above.  At times, the mental world of the mind seems more distant from God-consciousness than the subtle world of energy.  At least, I would suggest that the progression is not sequential or linear in every case.  What is important is that the two, the subtle energy and the mind, must develop and integrate within the physical reality in order to realize the Godhead.

"In [the] tradition of Advaita Vedanta, there is a very interesting summary statement, associated with Shankara, of devotion to the Divine: 'From the point of view of the body, I am Your servant. From the point of view of the mind, I am a part of You, a fraction within You. From the point of view of the Self, truly, I am You.'  Any statement of equation with the Divine is authentic only from the "Point of View" of Ultimate Realization. Yet identified with the body, or, even more advanced, identified with the mind, subtly as Yogis are . . . from the point of view of such identification, the great statements are not true, the statement 'I am You', or, said another way, 'Thou art That', is not true. Identified with the body you are the servant of God, subordinate to the Divine. From the point of view of the mind, you are not the Divine. You are a part of the Great Unity, seeking Union with the Great Unity, or That Which is One. Therefore, previous to Ultimate Realization, the philosophy, the philosophical point of view, the presumption, must acknowledge the position you are in, acknowledge what you are identified with."
- Adi Da

It's interesting to me that I'm choosing to quote Adi Da as he in turn relates what others have said about such processes and experiences.  I've found him to be maniacally egotistical and therefore difficult to study in depth (note that I'm unable to acknowledge him as "Avatar Adi Da").  However, there's now an inner smile as I read my own words, "I am the One."  Is it ego?  In fact, I sense ego coming up to trivialize the experience - my own ego is embarrassed to realize what I've known all along.  I have a copy of one of Adi Da's books lying around somewhere, loaned to me by a friend - perhaps I'll take another look at it before returning it.

My experience seemed to encompass my higher self (I'dia) and lower self (Lee).  I'm guessing that the message was from the former to the later.  There's further work to be done to integrate this fully.  Again, it's tuning to the energy - at a very high vibration, in this case.  How can I hold it?  It's already slipping away to memory within consciousness though it is held more firmly in subconsciousness.

So, "You're It" - the One, the Source, the energetic life force that creates and holds All.  We create our own judgment day - every day - our own heaven or hell, right or wrong, up or down.  Duality merely creates a contrast for distinction within free will - a product of our entertainment rather than anything fundamental to our being.  This is the transcendental transformation of the soul via realization of Self.  Now, manifest unencumbered by imposed limitations.  Manifest with intention by attention to that which is worthwhile.

A realization doesn't terminate with an epiphany.  The life experience continues.  The game has become more simply interesting and transparent.

I am the One that I've been searching for.

Seeds of Karma

Tibetan Wheel of Karma

I seek my own enlightenment for the sake of all beings
 - the Vow of the Bhodisattva.

While oppression exists in many shades and degrees of severity in the physical realm, we have complete free will at the spiritual level.  The mind often gets stuck somewhere in the middle trying to process the discrepancies perceived between the spiritual and the physical realities, often the conflict that results when our desires or fears in the dimensions of space and time compete with what our inner guidance relates to us.

The body can be imprisoned and the mind can be indoctrinated, but the soul is found perfectly free.  The various personal gods in the texts of the physical plane promote laws, precepts, and commandments, but it is always up to our own free will whether we will accept them into our being.  We are free to believe what we choose.

Free will is what life is all about.  It's something we hold in high value and protect in all dimensions of existence.  But, be careful about what you ask for.  Karma exists, as well.

Many think karma is a sort of punishment for an errant deed - part of the cycle of cause and effect known as samsara in eastern traditional philosophies.  A similar religious concept is sin, where a god delivers punishment or forgiveness.  The process is natural, in my opinion, rather than one enforced by an authoritarian personified god.  In either case, clearing karma (or having sin forgiven) is often thought of as "righting a wrong" or in some way making up for a past transgression.   I have come to view it differently.

Karma in the human experience is a perturbation resulting from a lack of synchronization between the dimensions of self and universal harmony.  It originates in the mind and manifests at all levels.  If we think of our will as a vibration, karma is the discordance in the resonance between will of the mind, the soul and, ultimately, universal consciousness.  The discordance often manifests as something unpleasant - thus, the sense of punishment.  In fact, it's like a sour note in what might be an otherwise perfect chord of the divine symphony.

Through free will, our souls evolve while developing colors and personalities.  Many are pleasant and entertaining - like the timber of a tone, to stay with the music analogy.  But, some are not so pleasant.  As we learn to tune into the more subtle will of our soul, the mind's karmic states become softer and the mind develops a higher state of perfection.  We either learn to tune into the natural will of the universe or suffer consequences

In my view, this is not simply surrendering to the "will of god", though the distinction is somewhat semantic and it seems that this is the basis of many religious doctrines.  It's more of a higher awareness of harmonics within the soul.  This is our fundamental being - a collection of universal energies held in harmonic vibration (see Perfect Chord).  We are subsets of this universal set of frequencies like chords within a much larger harmonic system.  As we evolve, we gain more and more control over the wave-like patterns we generate.  Within the human experience, karma is simply nature's ways of telling us which patterns of our mind are not in harmony with the patterns of our soul.  The discordant patterns, which often manifests in behavior, remains in the mind until it is cleared to bring us to higher harmony.

Resonance Frequencies
Our souls are tuned to universal consciousness while our minds are tuned to reflections of physical world  manifestations.  Karma might be considered a source of guidance for tuning the mind to the soul for harmonic balance.  Thus, rather being a source of pain, it permits us the incredible gift of freedom to go our own way without contradicting natural order.

The seeds of karma - the kilesa described in Buddhism - reside in the subconscious mind, proximal to the soul from the conscious, rational mind.  Thus, they cannot be cleared by rationalization.  The seeds of karma are only cleared by awareness perfecting the mind, freeing it of entanglements and illusions.

Ultimately, the mind can enjoy the same free will as does spirit.  This is one of the great realizations.  THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FREE in the human experience.

Korean Sam-Taeguk symbol,
a variation of yin-yang, 

symbolizes the union of earth, heaven and man

Watch your thoughts – they become your words.
Watch your words – they become your actions.
Watch your actions – they become your habits.
Watch your habits – they become your character.
Watch your character – it becomes your destiny

-- Cosmic Awareness

Disclaimer:  It's important to note that I'm writing from inner wisdom rather than academic authority, especially regarding religious and philosophical doctrines.  While I try to relate the ideas and concepts that come to me in my meditations and inquiries, I don't know if my ideas and definitions agree with translations of ancient texts that might lie somewhere or with current dogma.  Also, punishment, retribution and bad news on the physical plane are different from how I view karma.  If you steal from someone, you may go to jail.  If you offend someone, you may get punched in the face.  That is punishment, not karma - though karma may give rise to both physical and mental punishment - and bad news happens randomly as well as result from our actions or those of others.  Karma is a higher level process, IMHO.

Follow the Money

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

- Henry Ford, 1922

I noticed a large pile of oyster shells as I walked along a shoreline in northern Maine a few years ago.  I remembered hearing about shells once being used as a monetary exchange in some native cultures.  I thought to myself, "If I lived in a culture where sea shells were used for money, I would want to live on the seashore."  Today, it isn't so easy.  Now, the Federal Reserve System owns all of the allegorical beach-front property in the U.S.  

OK - so now the federal government controls the U.S. money supply. 

 But, NO - it doesn't. 

Most people assume that the Federal Reserve banks are institutions of the United States Government. They are not.  THE U. S. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK IS A PRIVATELY OWNED CORPORATION.  It is listed in the white pages of the Washington DC phone book - next to Federal Express.   “Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress shall have the power to coin (create) money and regulate the value thereof…”.  Yet, the Independent Treasury Act of 1920 suspended the de jure (meaning “by right of legal establishment”) Treasury Department of the United States government. Our Congress turned the treasury department over to a private corporation, the Federal Reserve and their agents.

The bulk of the ownership of the Federal Reserve System, a very well kept secret from the American Citizen, is held largely by these banking interests - NONE is held by the United States Treasury:

Rothschild Bank of London
Rothschild Bank of Berlin
Warburg Bank of Hamburg
Warburg Bank of Amsterdam
Lazard Brothers of Paris
Israel Moses Seif Banks of Italy
Chase Manhattan Bank of New York
Goldman, Sachs of New York
Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York

"There is no agency of government that can over-rule actions that we take."
- Alan Greenspan
Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank

The Federal Reserve Bank can not be audited and does NOT answer to the President - or any branch of the government. Though the president of the U. S. appoints and congress approves board members of the Federal Reserve system, the Federal Reserve is completely independent of the U. S. government once the appointments are made.  Congress knows nothing of the conversations, plans, and actions taken in concert with other central banks. 

"The great monopoly in this country is the monopoly of big credits. So long as that exists, our old variety and freedom and individual energy of development are out of the question. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom. This is the greatest question of all, and to this statement must address themselves with an earnest determination to serve the long future and the true liberties of men. 
"This money trust, or, as it should be more properly called, this credit trust, of which Congress has begun an investigation, is no myth; it is no imaginary thing. It is not an ordinary trust like another. It doesn't do business every day. It does business only when there is occasion to do business. You can sometimes do something large when it isn't watching, but when it is watching, you can't do much. And I have seen men squeezed by it; I have seen men who, as they themselves expressed it, were put "out of business by Wall Street," because Wall Street found them inconvenient and didn't want their competition. "

Woodrow Wilson
The New Freedom:  A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People
1913 (the year of the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank)

"[The banks] are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, and they, frankly, own the place."
Sen. Dick Durbin
April 2009

The Federal Reserve System is a private cartel sanctioned by our federal government.  A cartel is a cooperative of companies that don't want to compete with each other.  They come up with cartel agreements - not unlike those of the oil cartels and the diamond cartel - to manage and protect their own interests.  The typical weakness inherent in a cartel is that is can be difficult to enforce the agreements it makes within its membership.  Thus, cleverly, the Federal Reserve Act brought the government in to enforce the interests of the banking cartel. 

We all know that our dollar is no longer backed by gold or silver or ANY other physical resource, commodity or substantive value.   It is, by definition, "fiat" money  - money that derives its value from government regulation or law rather than intrinsic value.  It has no value other than what the government represents it to be.  With the U. S. dollar devoid of any intrinsic value, these private banks have the power to create or tighten money without oversight of congress.  Like the adage, they simply print more money when the private cartel decides it's needed.  It's a nice family business - if you are part of the family.  

Which families?  Perhaps, we can look at the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans and Carnegies along with Harrimans, Schiffs and Warburgs who have controlled world wealth for generations.  Notables that arise within this club are David Rockefeller, James Wolfensohn (former World Bank President), Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Richard Haas.  I wasn't able to reach any of them for comment, but they are each welcome to respond in the comments section below.  I'm simply going on what has been reported by those who may know more or less than I because this is a highly secretive business - there really isn't any public information available.

Capitalism has succumbed to greed and exploitation.  Democracy is a thin veil of illusion.  Our government is not run by the will of the people.  It is run by large corporations; the large corporations are run by the large banks; and the banks are run by the Federal Reserve and the International Monetary Fund which are owned by the large world banks and the families that control them.  If you care to know why the world is not thriving in abundance, look to the top of the pyramid - look to those who control the money.  Unfortunately, you won't be able to find them - they live in secrecy.

Superficially, there was a good argument made by the bankers in support of the Federal Reserve Act passed in 1913.  Promoters argued that the money supply is too important to be subjected to the politics of our government.  That made me stop and think, "Who should control the money?"  While we shudder at the inefficiency of our government, it is the democratic principles upon which we operate.  The political system - bad as it is - oversees nearly every other aspect of our lives, including the important stuff like medical research and foreign wars.  It should also find a way to subjugate the money supply to the democratic process.  What they've done with the Federal Reserve Bank is much like our government saying they can't manage foreign wars, so they empower a cartel of the largest military contractors to decide which wars are to be fought and how long they should last.

According to the Foreign Banking Act, December 24, 1919, section 43 and section 25, the Federal Reserve Bank charter apparently expires on December 24, 2012 -- 99 years after it was enacted on December 24, 1913.   It's interesting that we haven't heard much about this auspicious event on the horizon in the mainstream media.  It will be important to watch this closely.  If there is an expiration of the current charter, there will be an effort made to renew it or - worse - replace it with something giving further free reign to the large banking interests.  They will want to pass the legislation quietly -- something tells me that it's already been passed in principle.  Yet, there is such concern over this by a few that it will likely soon become a flash point of contention in our nation and in the world.  Watch closely - it may be another 99 years before we can have anything more to say about it.

Much of the inspiration for this article was derived from "Thrive:  What on Earth Will It Take?" - a 2-hour documentary that covers a broad range of topics and ends up with a focus on political and financial corruption.  I watched it for the third time a few weekends ago at a private showing with its creator Foster Gamble.  Gamble, a direct heir to the Proctor and Gamble legacy, seems to be using his ties and influence to call attention to what's going on in our world and asks (I paraphrase), "With all of our technology and world resources, why are we not thriving in abundance?".  I then went home and watched "Thrive" for a 4th time!  What's important about the documentary is not that it presents new ideas, but that it brings convincing credibility to many of the issues most of us haven't taken the time to investigate for ourselves.  Gamble and his colleagues go as far as to say that these private banking families have usurped the world money supply as a means of controlling the world's governments and corporations with clear intent for nothing less than world domination by a few families.  The  banking and Federal Reserve System issues are only a part of the concern raised, but it seems (to me) to be a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.  "The world is waking up" is their slogan.  If the "Fed" doesn't cause you concern, you might want to set your alarm.

Most of us consider banking a mundane and innocuous part of capitalism.  We think we understand the concepts whereby we take out a loan for something we want now, but can't afford, and repay the loan later with interest.  It seems to work to enable us to go about our daily lives.  We're too busy paying for mortgages, car loans, educational loans, business loans, etc. to have time to dig into this.  If we play by the system, we can get a nice house with a nice car parked in front.  Our current capitalistic system rewards (some of) those who pledge theirs lives to it by working hard, but it most abundantly and escessively rewards those who control the resources.

I don't pretend to understand it all, but I think that's due more to lack of information and transparency than to the complexity of the system.  It's time to acquaint ourselves with how the system actually works.  Wake up ... and smell the debt!  Wake up - to self-imposed, externally coerced, slavery.  There are the many who work hard and honestly to build the country and the few who reap the rewards.

Did You Miss Me?

On January 18, "Illusions of a Noetic Monk" went dark along with the English version of Wikipedia and several other websites in a coordinated service blackout to protest SOPA and its sister bill, the Protect IP Act, or PIPA. Other companies, including Google, posted links and images in an effort to raise awareness. An estimated 7,000 websites either blacked out their sites or posted a protest message. A number of other protest actions were organized, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and a rally held in New York City.  The important fact is that the blackout got noticed and there have been reports that several congressional leaders are postponing action on the bill until better solutions are found.  

According to Wikipedia:
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a U.S. House bill to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring from linking to the sites, and requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to the sites. The bill would criminalize the of such content, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
User-content websites such as YouTube would be greatly affected, and concern has been expressed that they may be shut down if the bill becomes law. Opponents state the legislation would enable law enforcement to remove an entire internet domain due to something posted on a single blog, arguing that an entire online community could be punished for the actions of a tiny minority. In a 1998 law, copyright owners are required to request the site to remove the infringing material within a certain amount of time. SOPA would bypass this "safe harbor" provision by placing the responsibility for detecting and policing infringement onto the site itself.
While nothing is inherently wrong with trying to protect intellectual properties, the real threats are to free speech - one of the cornerstones of the US Constitution - and the boundaries of government enforement.  In such turbulent times, particularly, we cannot permit such fundamental rights to be eroded by misguided, unrestrained governmental intervention.