What is Happiness?

What is Happiness?

There is a deep connection between the nature of the mind and the nature of happiness. Mind, by definition, oscillates between the past and the future, so where is the experience of happiness? We know that happiness exists—it is something that we experience all the time. Happiness exists because of this oscillation; it doesn’t even arise from being in the present moment. Let me share an example to help you understand the source of happiness.

Let’s say you wake up in the morning, and there’s a cup of coffee on the table that either your wife has prepared, or your husband has prepared (if you are a lucky woman)! You drink the coffee and realize that it’s cooler than normal. You like your coffee hot, but this time it’s just warm. There is a response to that experience: You are a little agitated, and you express that emotion. You say, “This coffee isn’t hot, and I like coffee to be hot!” The next day there is another cup of coffee and this time you are expecting the coffee to be warm because of the previous day’s experience. This time when you taste the coffee, it’s the perfect temperature. Now there is a moment of happiness.

In this whole episode, where is happiness? Is it in the coffee? The coffee maker? The cup? Is it in your mouth? Where is this experience of happiness? Happiness is a very simple phenomenon. In this example, happiness is neither in the cup, the taste, nor the person who prepared the coffee; happiness is simply hidden in your expectations. In fact, happiness is nothing but another face of expectation. The first time you drank the cup of coffee, there was already an expectation that it would be hot. When it turned out to be cold, the response was unhappiness. What caused unhappiness? It was not the coffee, but your expectation of how the coffee should be.

Throughout the day, this plays along in every experience. Unconsciously, we have picked up expectations about who we are, about the nature of people around us, about our social interactions, and society. These expectations have become a part of our daily living, so when the events that support those expectations are happening, you are happy; if not, then you are unhappy. Happiness is a very simple, moment-to-moment response to expectations.

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The Present Moment

The Present Moment

In the most simplistic sense, life is too short to be fighting with and changing every behavior of ours. The choice you have is simple: Either you can make this very moment a celebration by accepting yourself fully, or go on battling internally with what is right and wrong for the rest of your life. The moment you realize that you are perfect just the way you are, then the change you are seeking is instantaneous. You will also notice that the more you accept yourself, the less there is a need for this internal conflict.

Society has one definition of a good man, one definition of a good woman, and one definition of what’s right and wrong. You are too vibrant a phenomenon to walk on this thin fine line drawn by society.  What you need, in order to remain simple, unique, and beautiful, is a universal phenomenon such as watching and observing yourself. Meditation is that universal phenomenon. It’s not an ideology, philosophy, religion or something else – it’s just you and your ability to observe your life.

Initially, it is difficult to trust your meditation, because there is no one to provide you guidance and support. It is just you, your mind, your body, and how you deal with them. In this sense, you have total freedom in meditation; so much freedom that for a while you won’t know if you are doing the right thing. Meditation says, “Leave all of this and just become existential. Don’t become philosophical or intellectual; don’t become this or that. Just become existential.”

Existential means to be in this moment; that is it. If I am angry in this moment, then I am angry. My anger is okay and I will just watch it. If I don’t need this anger, then it will just go away. If I don’t watch the anger, chances are that it will come back again. The beauty of every experience we have, is that the moment we go deep into it, the moment we observe it, it disappears on its own, and whether the experience is good or bad doesn’t matter. Meditation simply says, “Keep watching, and whatever change that needs to happen in your life will happen on its own.”

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Virtue of Silence

Virtue of Silence

Waking up to our true nature is simply to realize that we are dreaming all the time. Dream is not some isolated phenomenon of life; dream is life. Everything we dearly call life is a part of our dream. The reason why it is so difficult to see this is that we are deeply invested in this dream.

Since we have lived for such a long time in this dream state, it has become our reality. We have fully accepted this feeling of being in a dream as our physical and only reality, although we are constantly reminded that we cannot be here forever.

We are afraid to face the real questions of our existence and our easiest escape from facing those all-important questions of life is to get busy. We are a lot more contented in constantly running around, trying to accomplish as many things as possible by being busy, as opposed to taking some time off to reflect in silence and aloneness about the nature of life and our place in it.

This is why one of the most difficult things to do is to simply sit quiet. This is also why meditation is such a difficult proposition for many of us. Not because meditation is inherently difficult, it’s because we have become too accustomed to losing ourselves in various activities of life. This is why watching a movie, meeting friends, going on a vacation, or planning for the future is infinitely easier when compared to sitting quietly in meditation.

The very fact that sitting quietly is difficult tells us that there is a lot of pain within us that we don’t want to see. We prefer to be distracted by some external activity because we are afraid to face the reality of our inner nature. We are always afraid of discovering something about ourselves that we don’t already know. It is almost like we are afraid of ourselves. Why else should sitting quietly in silence be such a big problem?

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Controlling your Mind with your Body

Controlling your Mind with your Body

Severe stress or panic attacks are moments when you feel you have no control over what’s happening around you, you have no control over your mind and body, and is a direct result of uncontrolled excessive thinking about something – usually something negative. You’re expecting a result, you’re projecting your thought process into that future, and you’re looking at the consequences of that thing happening or not happening. It’s always in the future, it’s always result-oriented, and it always reflects some adverse effects of the desired result. If the result is not favorable, your mind is lost; you’re lost. You don’t know what to do.

Creating an Anchor

Panic attacks and sudden outbursts of anger or stress cannot simply be controlled by the environment or the situation that you’re in. Your mind is projecting itself into the future, and you are lost somewhere in the future. Unless you have a regular habit of learning how to come back to the present moment, you cannot simply spring to the present moment without an anchor. Even the thought process that  “Okay, now you’re getting stressed, you’re getting anxious, just come back to your breath, just relax” can’t happen. You should have created enough opportunities where you have told this to yourself.

If you just try to do this for the first time, it is impossible, because where is the memory of it? It’s like this: When you are surrounded by a certain emotion, that emotion engulfs you completely. Relaxation is a different state of mind to stress. Stress and relaxation cannot be accommodated within the same emotional framework, because they’re fundamentally different emotions. The effects of stress on your body and the effects of relaxation on your body are opposite because they are opposite states of mind. Similarly, when you’re in a stressful state of mind you can only generate stressful thoughts. When you are lost in stressful thoughts, you can only be stressed. You can’t bring in an opposite thought process that will calm the stress level without creating the habit, without practice. This is where you need to understand how your mind and your body function.

Thoughts and Emotions

We tend to think that we can achieve everything just by thinking because it is possible. We can plan for the future, and we can do a lot of things with our thinking, but thoughts have no power over our emotions; thoughts are always subservient to our emotions. Thought is like a train that can only run on the tracks of emotions. If you change the track, put the thought on a different emotional track, it’ll simply run on it. If it is not compatible with that track, it will not run, but will just fall off. When you catch yourself running certain thoughts, you should know that you are in a certain state of mind.

You can conquer stress and panic attacks not with thoughts, but by changing your state of mind. This is where the trick is: You cannot use a thought to change the state of your mind, but you have to use something totally different. What else do you know apart from your thoughts? Is there anything else apart from your thoughts? Of course, there is!

Apart from your thinking and being lost in thoughts, you have a body. You have your legs, your hands, your breathing, your heartbeat, your muscles and bones, and you have your whole physicality. Why don’t you use your physicality to control your emotions? Why don’t you learn to use your body to control your emotions? That is the most practical, logical, and scientific way of approaching your emotions.

Recognizing the Cycles of the Mind

Instead of using your body in times of emotional distress, what youusually do is completely let go of it. You start searching for other kinds of thoughts to take control of your mind, which is just not possible because you are in a certain state of mind. When you are in a fearful state your mind can only generate fearful thoughts. Even if a positive thought tries to enter it, because the track is of fear, either it can run on the fearful track and become fearful itself, or simply drop off. A nice, positive thought begins, but it does not take hold in that state of mind. Even a positive thought becomes negative in a negative state of mind.

You need to understand that these negative states of mind are just habitual things that happen to us: They have no purpose. Just like the body regulates your temperature and keeps you balanced when you’re about to trip, the mind does the same thing. It sometimes puts you in a negative state, sometimes it puts you in a neutral state, and sometimes it jolts you – it scares you! Not for any special purpose, just because this is the way the mind functions. This is the way the mind sustains itself.

If the body gets too hot, it will sweat. That is its mechanism to cool down. When the mind is totally relaxed, when the mind is not agitated, is not disturbed, it craves for disturbance. When there is no disturbance, the mind is lost. This is when the “What am I? What is my purpose?” questioning begins, because for us, even relaxation is to be with certain relaxed thoughts. We really don’t know what it is to relax meditatively, relax existentially. Of course, there is some type of relaxation which will feel perfectly natural to you, but all of the relaxations are simply of the mind.

The mind cannot simply be in one state all the time, just like the body cannot be in one state all the time. You eat food, you do some exercise, and after a while it begins to get hungry. Why? It begins to get hungry because that is the process. The body has a cyclical process: Activity/rest, heat/cold, hunger/states of non-hunger. Our mind is exactly the same: Happiness/sadness, stress/relaxation. Because we have not accepted this nature of the mind, when the mind puts us into certain difficult and stressful situations, we tend to think it is something completely abnormal – it is happening only to us. “I’m not able to control what’s happening around.” In fact, that is the natural functioning mechanism of the mind. How you go beyond it is to fully understand the nature of the mind, is to fully understand how emotions work, and when you get into those negative emotional states you just need to hold on.

This will Pass

A single thought process that can conquer so much negativity is the idea that “This will pass. It’s not going to always be like this.” Even if you want to hold on to that stress, even if you want to make it permanent,  you will not be able to. Eventually, whether you want it or not, you will come out of it. Since you have not chosen to be in that state, it is difficult to choose to come out of it, because it is a combination of a lot of things. It’s a combination of the way you have looked at your mind, the way you have looked at situations, and how long you have been in those stressful situations. It has become a pattern.

The only thing that you can do is to learn how to step away from all these thought processes and simply come back to the body. Just observing the breath, the sensations of the body, or switching your awareness from thoughts to just listening seems extraordinarily simple. In fact, it is simple. For example, when you’re taking a walk and you’re thinking about something – you’re thinking about the consequences of that thing, and suddenly there’s a rush of anxiety, stress.

Coming Back to the Body

Instead of thinking about consequences, just listen to what is happening around you. You might listen to the sounds of the birds, or the sounds of the vehicles, or people talking. Immediately you are shifting your landscape of reality from somewhere lost in your thoughts to what is happening around you. There is nothing really happening immediately around you that is causing you that stress unless someone is pointing a gun at you, or someone is threatening you. Thankfully, that kind of stress is rare; we don’t experience that sort of stress that often. The stress we usually experience is the one that we have created because of our mental process, because of our thinking.

Coming back to the body appears extraordinarily simple, and it is simple, but unless you have practiced it, you will not be reminded to do it. When it is really necessary, when it is required, you do not remember it because you’re in a different state of mind. When you do remember to come back to the present moment, you automatically relax. For whatever reason, the mind goes through that process of stress and comes back to relaxation. That is when you will remember, “I wish I could have just simply observed my breath. I wish I could have just simply sat and taken a break.” You will recognize how easy it is to step out of those states when you’re reflecting on those situations, and actually not in that state. “Why do I get into those states? Now I’m feeling happy. Now my life is good, but when I’m in those states I cannot control myself.” It’s because you are engulfed by that emotion.

iDealing with Emotions

When you’re dealing with emotions, you cannot give instructions. When you are engulfed by a certain emotion you cannot tell yourself, “All right, just sit and relax.” Even when you sit quietly, you will be stressed. Even if you run, you’ll be stressed. Even if you jump in the water to swim, you’ll be stressed because you’re in that emotional state. The only way to jump out of the emotional state is to use your body as the anchor.

This is difficult to understand if you start thinking in terms of concepts. This is not a concept: I mean exactly what I’m saying. I’m not interpreting anything. I’m saying that when you are beginning to feel the stress, just come back to the sensations of the body – whatever that is. Just shift your focus and awareness to the body; the stress of the body, the pain of the body, the way you’re breathing. Get into the existential framework that you are in at that very moment. That will bring you to the present moment. The first few times you will not be able to do this, you will only think about it later. After a little bit of practice, you will be able to do this easily. Then you will realize that everyone is going through the same problem – everyone.

There’s not a single person who is not suffering from stress, anxiety, or panic attacks. It’s just that they have learned how not to express it; they keep it hidden within. However, if you were to actually look at the minds of people, most of the time it’s terrifying because they have figured out that it’s not good to express that state outwardly.  A lot of people don’t even seek help, because they think it is something totally negative. You will realize that everybody’s going through the same problem, and the solution is as simple as: Just step away from that mental process.

Bringing in Your Senses

As long as you have a mind, you will be stressed. As of now, you are dealing with the mind as if it is the only ingredient that is available. You are trying to cook a fabulous dish using only one ingredient: That is thought. You’re wanting to use it for everything. If you are garnishing, you’re adding thoughts. For taste, you’re adding the same thoughts. There’s no variety! Why don’t you bring something different to the dish? What is something different? You have five senses and your mind is simply an enveloping sixth sense – that’s it: The sense of thinking.

Sometimes just use your sense of seeing; just try to see, not think. Sometimes just listen, or just smell. Sometimes just taste. If you’re getting stressed, if you’re not able to do anything else, just take some chocolate and put it in your mouth, or have a cup of coffee. Even the simplest of things will work, but whatever you do, you’ve got to do it in reality, in the present moment, using your body. Anything other than thinking about a solution is the right solution. Anything other than, “How do I get over this problem? I have to find a solution to this. Let me think about it.” That is not the solution.

Don’t “Think” About it

Thinking about a solution for stress will stress you more, so the solution for stress is something totally different – totally different ingredients, a totally different flavor, which is your body. Using your body and your senses, you can absolutely control your emotional states. When you are beginning to notice that you are losing control of your mind and thoughts, just say, “All right, I want to move away from my thinking sense, to listening, to feeling, to being in the moment. With a little bit of practice, you will be able to do it.

Initially, the mind will not allow you, because it is more powerful. Your habit of being with the body has not kicked in, but the habit of being with the mind has become very strong, has become set in concrete. To break that, it will take a while. This is what mindfulness is. After a while, you will see what a beautiful asset the body is, what a marvelous friend the body is and what a bloody nemesis the mind is. The moment you see all these things clearly and begin to practice mindfulness, meditation, and being in the moment, gradually you will be able to go beyond your severe stress and anxiety. It won’t happen immediately. It won’t happen just tomorrow, but for sure you will go beyond it within a matter of a few months or a few years.

This is a proper, long-term, and permanent solution. If you try to get rid of stress just at that moment by drugs or alcohol or doing something that your body and mind don’t like, it’s only going to be a momentary solution. It’ll come back again. A gradual approach is always best.

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Is there a wrong way to meditate?

Is there a wrong way to meditate?

If someone was meditating incorrectly could it be harmful to them?

There is no incorrect meditation; either you are meditating or you are not. It’s black and white. There’s no gray area because if you’re incorrectly meditating – it’s wonderful! You’re still meditating. There’s no problem. In fact, this whole idea of “Am I meditating correctly or incorrectly?” itself is incorrect.

This confusion happens when we become a little too obsessed with the technique, finding the perfect method, or the exact right way of doing something. Have you noticed that the more sure you are about your meditation, the more certain you are about your meditation, that you can turn anything into meditation? Anything and everything can become today’s meditation. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about bringing yourself to the act of meditation and to understand very clearly what is meditation and what is not.

This idea of “meditating incorrectly” happens because if you do certain things incorrectly, you could get hurt. For example, if you don’t know how to drive properly, you may not only hurt yourself, you could hurt someone else as well. The very nature of meditation is such that you know you’re sitting quietly, and you’re closing your eyes. What could you be doing incorrectly, because there is so little to do? Only when there is something to do is there the idea of correct and incorrect.

Meditation is not doing. Meditation is being. If you’re not being, if you’re doing something, then you’re not meditating at all – you’re just doing something. So the questions should be, “What do I do about this doing – the doing of the mind, the doing of the body, the doing of my thoughts? How do I simply get into a meditative state?” Those are more relevant questions. When you’re not able to be in that meditative state, what exactly is happening? Where are you drifting, and how do you bring yourself back? If you come to the right understanding of meditation, then there’s no harm, but if you don’t – if you confuse meditation to be something else, then, of course, there could be harm.

When you’re able to come to meditation, when you’re able to sit quietly, and when you’re able to come to the understanding – that basic understanding that meditation is about being it’s about conscious watchfulness, conscious wakefulness, conscious rest – the moment you come to this clear understanding, then you should not keep on trying to find the right method.

If you just become too obsessed with finding the right method, you will miss the beauty of meditation. You are the method. There is no external method. The most important thing in meditation is you – your state of mind. Meditation is extremely simple. There’s not much difference between watching in between your eyebrows and watching your breath or watching the tip of your toes, so don’t keep shifting. 

When you think, “I’m enjoying this meditation, I’m connecting with it, I’m progressing, that’s enough” – perfection in meditation is an illusion. Don’t seek perfection, don’t seek a perfect method, and don’t seek right and wrong in meditation. Put yourself in a meditative state and experience whatever that is happening there. If you can observe the breath, observe the breath. If your observation moves to your legs, move there. If that observation moves to listening, then move – that’s okay. Be a little more flexible; you need not be stone-like in meditation.

You have to be flowing like a river. Your awareness should be so accommodating that it should not be struggling with a method. Your meditation should be so accommodating that you have the ability to change even a disturbing thought into your object of meditation.

Conflict is a part of your mind: “Is this the right method? Is this the right approach? Is this the right number of hours? Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less? Should I be listening to somebody else as well just to ensure that I’m not being misled?” All these are thoughts. You are your teacher. You are your method. You are your path. You are your destination. You are everything. Every time you are available to the process know that “Yes, I’m in meditation.”

Your meditation will always be wrong and you will always be making mistakes. Embrace these mistakes and don’t criticize yourself. Just say, “Okay, I’m making mistakes. It’s perfectly fine. I’m drifting away a little bit, but it’s perfectly fine.” Everybody who has meditated has gone through the same process, and everybody has fallen multiple times. It takes falling and getting up – that’s the process of meditation.

Meditation is not taking you on the same established pathways of another meditator; it is creating new channels in your mind, new channels in your heart, new ways of looking at life, and new ways of looking at yourself. It is not a repetition. It is a bit of a challenge, because we are more used to doing things in the same way, following others, copying others. Meditation is probably the only thing that you cannot copy from someone. You can pick up a technique, but you have to do it one hundred percent in your own way. You have to bring your own attitude, your own behavior, your own courage, your own intelligence, and your own understanding.

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Finding a Meditation Teacher

Finding a Meditation Teacher

There is a lot of difference between finding a meditation teacher and finding any other teacher. For all of the other teachers there is a qualification, there is a way to identify a teacher. If you want a math, physics, or a music teacher, there are very clear qualifications; there are degrees. There are documents that say that he or she is a teacher, so you can find teachers just based on credentials.

How do I identify a good meditation teacher?

Even if there aren’t any credentials, there is a way to identify the skill. You can look at the dancer and say, “I love the way he dances. I love the way she dances, and I want to learn from her.” There’s no way you’re going to learn music from a person who does not know how to play the musical instrument, right? When you interact with the teacher you would immediately get that sense that, “Okay, this person knows music; they know what they are talking about.”

None of this exists for meditation–absolutely none of this. Anyone can claim, anyone can say, “I have practiced meditation. I know what meditation is. I know the method, I know how to practice, and I’m willing to teach.” Especially in today’s day and age, there are a lot more people willing to teach, than there are people willing to learn.

With the available social media platforms–YouTube and Facebook, it’s so easy to become a teacher–your own teacher. Just gather a group of online students and start teaching. The problem with all this, is how do you know if you have found the right teacher? Or should you even be looking for the right teacher? Is there a right teacher?

Two Types of Teachers

The first type of meditation teacher is one who can teach you meditation. They can show you how to practice meditation, teach you how to get into the habit of meditation, tell you how to deal with the daily challenges of meditation, and help you to become better with the practice.

The second type of meditation teacher is the teacher who can take you all the way to self-realization. These teachers can guide you with a single-pointed focus of helping you to reach self-realization. These teachers have the experience of self-realization,  and also know that if you are able to do certain things in a certain way you will get there, or you will not.

These two are completely different types of teachers. The second type, the teachers who can teach you self-realization, are the rarest, because there are very few people who have gone all the way through the journey themselves.

Unless an individual has fully dedicated himself to that process and has made meditation his or her life, they would not be able to go all the way. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve gone all the way or not, they would want to teach because they’ve learned something through the process. Meditation is such a phenomenon that even if you meditate for three months or six months, you would know so much more than somebody who has never meditated.

As far as getting the basic guidance of meditation is concerned, you could get that from a lot of people. All you have to make sure is that the person you are learning from has spent more time in meditation than you–plain and simple. At the basic level, that is all that you should be looking for.                                             

The reputation of a meditation teacher does not come from numbers; it comes from the guidance. You’ve got to take a chance with a teacher; you have to approach, you have to start learning, and within a matter of a few days you will know if you’re headed in the right direction. If you are with a teacher who’s really willing to guide you, it is not that difficult to see, “Okay, the wisdom that he or she is sharing is really helping.” Another big pitfall in trying to find a teacher is trying to find too perfect a teacher. You know, trying to find a teacher who, according to you, is perfect. If you go on searching for the perfect teacher, it is a futile search, because there are no perfect teachers.

The difficulty in judging people, in judging teachers, or in finding the right thing in life, is really not about choosing the right and the wrong. The difficulty is choosing between the wrong and the more wrong, because everyone is flawed. Everything is flawed.


A Teacher with Experience

Teaching is a mechanism of transferring knowledge through the symbolism of language. Language is a symbol; it’s not an absolute truth. When you’re trying to teach using symbols, you can never be perfect. It’s like when I say, “Awakening is like swimming in the open ocean for the first time.” It is nothing like it; it’s an absolute lie! But, that is my way of saying it. When I say, “Meditation is difficult, meditation is painful, meditation is a torturous process initially,” that is just my way of saying it because it was like that for me, because of the way I approached it.

It might be easy for you. A teacher can, at the most, express what he has experienced, using the language of the world, using the expressions of life. There is no perfection in this process. Again, how are you measuring the perfection of a teacher if you’re not comparing him with another teacher?

If you’re looking for the perfect teacher, then you have an idea of perfection in your mind, which has to come from some other teacher. That is where the problem is. When you try to compare one teacher with another, you will obviously make a mistake. It doesn’t matter if your comparison is very critical or very analytical; it just doesn’t matter, because two teachers are completely different.

That is why meditation is such a tricky affair; you have to judge based on your intuition, based on your comfort level with the teacher, based on certain inner signs, which are not readily accessible. You “just know” this is the right teacher. You “just know” that you want to learn from this person.

Sometimes, you just want to play it safe; you just want to make sure that there are a lot of students around this teacher. You think if so many people are being misled then it’s perfectly fine; “I’m going to be one of them.” Sometimes it’s just safety; you think if a teacher has a lot of students, he has to be good. In meditation, it doesn’t work that way.

A teacher who has a lot of students could be a good marketer–or he has a group of students who market for him. It doesn’t mean that he’s not a good teacher, so there’s really no way to judge the teacher based on external qualities that we normally measure success by—The number of people, amount of money they’ve made, or the number of years they’ve lived, their experience. He could be a young man, or he could be fifty he could be sixty, and you could be forty or fifty—age doesn’t matter.

When you meet such a person, if he has spent time in meditation, you will know—this is something different. Irrespective of the external flaws, there is some wisdom that I want to have, wisdom that I don’t possess. That is all that you should be looking for in a meditation teacher. You don’t have to complicate things, and you should also understand that a teacher is human.

Nobody’s Perfect

When you meet a teacher, you’ll have to assess both his ability to guide you inward, and his worldly affairs. As long as you’re able to manage the worldly affairs and you see that there is some light, some source, something he possesses that you want to learn, then you have a teacher. Another of the easiest ways to judge a teacher, is that a good teacher is all about you—a bad teacher is all about himself, plain and simple.

In the spiritual world, a teacher cannot be too obsessed about himself; yes, a teacher can share his personal experiences. The value of this is that those personal experiences are relatable, and they can be learned from. But, there is a difference between personal experience sharing and personal aggrandizement; these are two completely different things. If a teacher is “too full of himself,” and he’s not really interested in the student as much as he is interested in the student loving him and respecting him and considering him like a teacher, that is where the student needs to make a call.

If the teacher is all about you, if the teacher is talking about you, helping you, and guiding you in any way possible–it’s very rare you would find such a teacher–if you’re able to find them you’ve got to latch onto them. No matter how difficult it gets from the external environment, you have to try to hold on to them. You have to keep holding on to the idea that, “I want to learn from this teacher.”

How to Begin the Search for a Teacher

As far as beginning a meditation journey is concerned, you don’t have to worry too much; just begin. Listen to videos, start practicing it. Just try it out on your own. In the journey, in the process, you will connect with some teachers. You will connect with people. Keep in touch with the community; keep in touch with the idea of meditation. Keep exploring and keep reading.

The teacher will not find you. You will have to find the teacher. The teachers are simply there. Nowadays they are doing a lot of marketing. Trust me when I say this, “We’re doing a lot of marketing.” Still, it’s all about the student. The student has to find the teacher and has to have the willingness.

One of the things, one of the most wonderful things that is simply going away, is this deep desire to find a teacher and emotionally and psychologically surrender to the process of spiritual awakening. That strong desire is missing; the desire is there, but since it’s not strong–anything and everything–even a small negative criticism from people around, put them off. They might be going to a teacher and they might be learning, but if there’s even one streak of negativity, they drop off.

It’s not going to make much difference to the teacher, but it’s going to make a lot of difference to you. It is not easy to find a meditation teacher whom you can trust, and begin this wonderful inner journey, but you’ll have to keep searching. In a spiritual way, you have to keep searching for those signs, and you have to go and meet the teacher. It cannot just be online searching; it cannot just be reading books. The best way to know if you have found the teacher is to be with the teacher.

When you Finally find a Teacher

There is something that you will experience in the presence of a teacher that you cannot experience through the bookstore or online. The presence cannot be communicated online; we have not yet reached that advancement. As of now, we can communicate ideas, we can communicate the symbolism of what it is that we are trying to communicate. But the presence, the emotion, the feeling, the love, the connection in finding a meditation teacher is a combination of all these things.

A meditation teacher is more of a guide, and he’s also your emotional support. The teacher should be smart, and he should be intelligent enough to understand how the world works, and what it takes for you to walk this path. He cannot just be only about meditation. He has to help you to see how you can balance your desires of worldly affairs and your spiritual quest.

Isn’t that what we’re all struggling with? If we had a single-minded desire to become spiritually awakened then we wouldn’t even need a teacher. We would just go sit, begin our practice, find the books, and find the resources. We would get there. Because we have all the distractions–What do we do with sex? What do we do with the desire to make more money? What do we do with the desire for material comfort? What do we do with the desire for name and recognition? What do we do with the desire for building organizations? This is where a teacher comes in.

The biggest advantage of having a teacher in your life is that he always puts things in perspective. He says, “In the midst of all the things that are happening, life is still about being here, about being relaxed, about meditating, and about practicing.” If you can find such a teacher, a guide, a friend, that’ll be the best thing.

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Origin of Meditation – Why Meditate?

Origin of Meditation – Why Meditate?

Meditation is an ancient science that holds the key to finding the real you and figuring out this mystery called “Life”. Really, there is way more to life than what we’re experiencing.

In this article, Avi explains, in great detail, the mystery of meditation and how it is imperative that we learn how to build our lives around a meditative and mindful lifestyle. It’s not complicated; we’ve just got to be willing to listen and learn.

The Science of Meditation

Meditation marks the beginning of a new quest in man to know himself. Meditation is the science of knowing oneself. It is a systematic way of using our own consciousness, our own awareness, to understand the phenomenon of life that is happening right here and right now. The science is so pure that it does not use any external instruments; it does not use any external objects, and it is not about going somewhere. It is not about the external reality at all.

As far as meditation is concerned, the universe is the individual. If there is space somewhere in the universe, that space is within the individual. If there is air in the universe, it is within the individual. If there is matter, it’s within the individual. If there is gravity, it’s felt by the individual. There is absolutely nothing that exists in the universe that is not experienced by the individual. Light, darkness, solid, liquid, good, bad; everything is experienced and perceived by the individual.

Meditation is the science of knowing what is this perception, and why are we perceiving the world the way we are perceiving it?  Naturally, just like experiencing the benefits of knowledge, when we know more about something, we can use it better. It’s the same with meditation. Meditation gives us the keys to unlock the doors of our minds and bodies.

We have a body and we have a mind, but the mystery of how they function is hidden behind these closed doors. We have to explore our inner space to know how we function; the connection between the simplest of things. What is the connection between my desire and my thoughts? What is the connection between a thought and my body? Who leads who? Who is the master? Who is the servant? What is control? Where do I get control from?

Is Society Sucking the Life out of You

Now, anything you want to accomplish, even in the worldly sense, if you want to attain to any kind of success, any kind of life that you are desiring, you need to direct this mechanism, the mind and the body, in a particular direction. How would you be able to do it when you’re not sure about how it actually functions? Unlike all other systems of knowledge that are simply external, meditation is knowledge one acquires by experience. We know the difference between information, knowledge, and wisdom.

Information is available everywhere.  A 20-year old can read a few books and he can feel that he knows the entire world. When it comes to understanding life, dealing with failures and negative emotions, unless that individual has gone through experiences where he has fallen down and got up, where life has knocked him down several times and he has learned how to pick himself up, he has not developed his emotional strength at all. He simply has intellectual strength which is useful only in times of absolute peace and calm.

Now, when we talk about education, society, politics, religion; none of this is created for the individual. Everything is created to create a straw to suck the juice out of the individual. Everything is a straw. You go to school, you go to college, you go to work, you get into anything that is created by the social system. More than you getting something out of it, your energies are drained from it. Only a few individuals can push through all these experiences and realize very quickly that this whole system is there for selfish purposes.

The moment an individual figures this out, then he would learn how to draw from other individuals. Ninety-nine percent of the population of the world is living in darkness; absolute darkness. We don’t know why we are here, we don’t know what is the purpose of education, we don’t know what is the purpose of our government, we don’t know who is there to help, or who is there to hurt. We are living in total darkness. Meditation is the light that one can use to illuminate, firstly, his life. To understand how somebody else is taking advantage of his mind and body and how somebody else is taking advantage of his ignorance.

Questioning the Education System

If you are being used, the worst thing is to not know it. Just simply live and die in that system where you are used thoroughly and discarded. The second-worst thing is to know it and not do anything about it. What you need to know is that this is the purpose of the system.

What subjects did I study in my school? What were the benefits of these subjects? How much am I using these subjects for my personal happiness? Now, was there even a consideration about my personal happiness and my personal wellbeing, or was it just about trying to fit me into a system? Does this system even look at me like a human being or does it look at me like a resource?

See, the world is still a jungle. It is still a place where the strong feed upon the weak. It is still the same. We have moved from the rawness of physicality to a more intellectual jungle, but even here it’s the same. It’s a strong mind that preys upon the weaker mind. The weaker mind is always an ignorant mind.

Every individual who comes into this world has to first face the demons of these strong minds. They’ve created the system; they’ve already set the path. To question and understand, if that is the path, if that is the way that can lead to my happiness, if that is the path to my personal salvation and liberation, then meditation is not required. We all know; we have taken those paths. All of us have been a part of the system.

How did we lose Meditation?

Most of us have been educated through the formal system and we have worked our entire lives in it. What have we gained at the end of it? In fact, we have become slaves to the system. Society is our making. The systems are our making. Everything exists because this individual is searching for some happiness; this individual is searching for some peace. If this individual is forgotten, then what system are we talking about? What society are we talking about? There’s no meaning in any of this.

In all this, in the entire intellectual endeavor of man, there is no mention of meditation. In the formal education system there is no mention of meditation. It just baffles me. When you think about it, meditation is the only tool that you can give an individual guidance and say, “Here is the key to know yourself.” It’s not one person’s ideology that can transform you. The key that you’re looking for is the ability to explore and experiment with your life.

To say that one book–whether it’s the Bible, or the Gita, or the Koran, is the answer for all your life’s questions is absolutely ridiculous. If you actually analyze those books, they actually talked about something within us and finding a way to it. In fact, those books actually talk about how you should not attach yourself to those teachings. You should learn from it but use your own light. I mean, which religious teacher has not spoken about finding your own light, finding your own source of wisdom?

Buddha himself says, “Don’t follow me, don’t accept everything that I’m saying, unless it falls into your consciousness and unless you can reason it and understand it fully. Don’t believe anything people say, including me.” This was his message, but the Buddhist message is totally different. “Follow everything Buddha says, don’t use your brain, just follow everything.” I’m not condemning religion but I’m just saying that the true purpose of religion has become way too diluted.

This was the same message of Jesus, “You are the light. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” But the message of Christians is “The Kingdom of Heaven is with Jesus. He’s the Savior.” He lived and died teaching,“You are your Savior.” We are clinging to one idea, that he’s the Savior.

Breaking the Shackles of our Minds

Amidst all of these things, we are completely trapped in our ignorance. We don’t know who we are. To know who we are requires observation, clarity, and clarity of perception. It requires the ability to push away all the unwanted things that are there in our mind, and to see life for what it is. At the end of the day, life is what you make of it. Life is your definition. If you want to spend the rest of your life struggling and suffering, it is your own choosing.

We have given permission for someone to put on the shackles that bind us. Those shackles can have nice beautiful names: Education, society, religion, whatever they might be. When we connect to individuals, it’s a totally different experience. With individuals, we can feel love and compassion. Overall, as a society, everything simply remains an idea.

Look at the way we talk about eradication of poverty. What are you talking about? I mean how do you eradicate poverty? You have to talk about how you are going to transform that one individual’s life. Politicians talk about eradicating poverty, and getting people out of poverty all the time. How would you be able to do it when you don’t give that individual the key? You don’t need to bring anybody out of poverty. You don’t need to bring anybody out of darkness. Just tell them the Truth. That’s all. Meditation is the Truth.

For me personally, it is the Truth. It has been the Truth that has made all the difference. Here is the key: Sitting quiet and watching your breath. Meditation really cannot begin with a very casual purpose. You will never have the intensity or the courage or the willpower to pursue meditation if you don’t really see how much you need it.

If knowledge is power, without meditation we are totally powerless; we have zero power–zero! We are simply living somebody else’s dreams, desires, and ideologies. We are living in the past. If we are to live in the present, then we need to acquire the knowledge: Knowledge of the self, knowledge of the body, and knowledge of the mind. That’s what meditation is. Beyond this, how it works is all a deep process.

Walking the path of Meditation

As you begin to walk the path, as you begin to inquire, start questioning, start learning, start reading, start exploring, and start finding people who can teach you meditation. Don’t worry too much about what meditation is, because when you ask the questions, “What are the benefits of meditation? What is meditation?” your mind is actually waiting for an answer that it doesn’t like so that it can say, “Okay, it will not work for me, I don’t need any benefits.”

People have been talking about meditation since the beginning of time. Somewhere I see a common connection. Every culture has spoken about meditation: “What is this thing, let me give it a try.” Who cares about benefits? May be that word itself comes from some external purpose. For me there is really no benefit. It is about a deeper experience of life. Maybe the purpose of meditation is not to reach somewhere, but to be in meditation; to simply sit quiet, take a break, rest, relax, and experience life. Maybe meditation is just a way of saying, “I am going to stop running and I’m going to experience life at least for that one hour or at least for those couple of hours.”

Again, we should not bring in the mind in terms of, “What is the purpose of meditation? Will it help me to get a job? Will it help me to pay my bills?” You’re asking the wrong questions. Meditation will give you a lot more than just helping you to survive. It will teach you what life is.

As of now, we are crawling on the floor like snails carrying the shells that we call our education, our knowledge. That shell is useful though, it protects us when there is danger. You can just go inside it. Meditation is a process that will help you develop wings. That snail that is crawling on the floor will someday be able to fly. That’s what meditation is. Once you decide to fly, you don’t need that burden. You can let go of all that and move into a totally different way of experiencing.

We are living in a place where we need a lot of protection, so that’s why we have created the mechanism of the mind.  Our mind does not even allow us to rest for five minutes. Our mind is the shell. It says, “You cannot sit naked.” When you sit quiet, the mind makes you feel like you’re naked. You have to constantly be fighting with the mind, and that’s the protection, that’s the shell.

Once you realize that you’re not that snail, you can fly. You have wings. Somehow you have tucked those wings in. To know that you have wings, you need meditation. So, trying to explain to a snail what it is to fly, is stupidity. It’s ridiculous. If I were to tell you that these are the benefits of meditation, the snail would say, “I don’t even need it. I’m already perfectly fine.” If I were to tell that snail, “See, you can jump from that tree to this tree,” the snail will say, “Why? I don’t have to jump. I’ll slowly climb up this tree and then I’ll move to that tree somehow.”

What’s going on in my Mind?

It’s the same way. Unless you meditate you will not know the uses of meditation. Unless you explore your inner life and see the kind of treasures that are hidden within you, will not know the use of them. When you dig deeper and you find a diamond, that is when you will think, “Oh, what can I do with this?” As of now, you’re not missing the diamond. You don’t need it because you’ve created a way of life in which everything is just going about. To know, to even know how deep we are in darkness, we need meditation.

I have tried to explain meditation in as many ways as possible, but really, it’s impossible to explain the benefits of meditation unless you have tasted it. Unless you have gone through it, it is impossible to know. At the most basic level, meditation helps you to understand your thought process. It helps you to gain control over your thoughts.

As of now, your thoughts control you. Meditation reverses that process: That’s the first benefit. Then as you go deeper into it, meditation will help you to understand your emotions, which are the foundation of all your thoughts. By being aware of your emotional states you can have 100% control over how you act: Somebody else cannot make you angry, and somebody else cannot make you frustrated, once you know that it is your own emotions that are responsible for all the chaos and confusion. Once you can get to that level of understanding, then you have much better control over your life, and much better control over your present and future.

Success in Meditation = Success in Life

When you go one layer deeper, you can even reduce the physical pain and stress of the body. You can experience deeper states of bliss. Bliss cannot be explained. Bliss is not happiness. Bliss is a deep state of feeling connected with yourself, with life, and with existence. Only when you experience it will you know. Beyond that, there are a hundred more things that you can experience. They are all things that cannot be put in words. Somewhere, you’ve got to begin.

So, instead of worrying too much about the benefits, just dive in. Believe in yourself that you can understand meditation, that you can figure it out. It might take some time, but don’t give up.

If you succeed in meditation, you succeed in everything. If you fail in meditation, then life is an absolute uncertainty. It will always be uncertain. Meditation is the last struggle. The only struggle. If you are able to struggle and understand what meditation is, from different perspectives, from different angles, to use your mind, your creativity, and your wisdom; if you’re able to get the hang of it and you get one drop of the actual taste of meditation, you will know for sure that this is what you need.

You need that one glimpse, that one absolute understanding, that, “Yes, meditation is relaxing me, it’s relaxing my mind.” You have to be very scientific in understanding it. You cannot be prejudiced. You cannot be partial. When you are very honest you can clearly see how it is benefiting you. Then, nobody has to tell you how to meditate or what are the benefits. You just keep on figuring out different ways of transforming every experience of life into meditation. What you are looking for is a moment of decision, a moment of commitment, a moment of courage, to say, “I want to give this a try.”

Once you experience what meditation offers you, then you will know the benefits. You will know there’s so much more to meditation than just what I’m seeking from it. What meditation offers you is much beyond, and it’s something that you cannot even ask for. You don’t even know that what you’re asking for is coming from your mind. What meditation gives you comes from existence. To even know what to ask existence you’ve got to be in a certain state. That’s why you need meditation.

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In Search of Love

In Search of Love

The invisible thread that connects us to everything, and everything else to us, is love. There is no meaning and purpose to life without love and yet how many of us really understand the real meaning of the word love. Love is unfortunately mistaken for so many other emotions that have absolutely nothing to do with it. Love is not just another emotion; it is a transcendental feeling of connectedness. Love has to be the language of the universe.

We need love because it is the only way we can make any sense of this experiential dreamlike state called life.  Without love, we are just wandering spirits of the wilderness of life, moving without any meaning or purpose, motivated by a few worldly purposes we have picked up along the way. Love is important because it is what we are searching for. Without love, life is simply pointless.

Now, what exactly is love? How can we be sure that what we have found or what we are looking for is love and not just another emotion? The first thing to understand about love is that it does not stand independently; there is no such thing as an objective love that is independent of you. Love is a difficult thing to find because its most important part is hidden within you; what you are searching for on the outside is simply a reflection of what you already know within you. The starting point of your search for love is always you.

When we forget ourselves in our pursuit of love, we miss the most important ingredient that makes love possible – Us. The first step in finding real love is diving deep into the recesses of our mind and heart to know who we are. It is a continuous process; the more we know ourselves the easier it is to find love. This might sound a little strange, but it is a fact. The one who knows himself/herself better has the best possible chance of finding true love.

Remember, there is no such thing as “The Love” there is only “Your Love”; there is only your definition of love. If you cannot define what exactly love is to you, you will never be able to find it. This is probably why most people keep searching for love all their lives, never to find it. For most, life is an endless pursuit of love because they have not made a sincere attempt to know themselves.

This is why there is such a deep connection between love and spirituality. The more spiritual we are, the more capable we are of finding true love. If love is all that we are searching for, then spirituality is simply a way of looking deeper within us to understand the true nature of this love. There is only one place where love finds its perfect match; when it is found within you.

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Are you Emotionally Intelligent?

Are you Emotionally Intelligent?

When we talk about emotional intelligence, we’re talking about a higher form of intelligence. It is not only higher when compared to other animals, it also has a hierarchy within the human race itself. Most people actually don’t exercise this ability to watch their emotions and direct them in a certain way. When you are in control of your emotions, when you are observing your emotions, when you can direct your emotions in a certain direction, you can see the impact of emotions on your life.

Emotions are the glue that binds two thought processes together. Two thoughts have no relationship with each other except through some emotion. If you take away emotion, then two thoughts are simply random thoughts. If you don’t connect the clouds and the rain with the body, there is really no emotional connection at all.

All these are random processes: Someone is mowing, a flower is blooming, a bird is singing somewhere; life is happening all around us. If you were to take away the emotional glue that connects you to this process, everything is simply a momentary process: There’s no life here. Life is a connection. If you take away connection, then it’s just a painting with no meaning. That’s what life is: It’s colorful, it’s changing, it’s a three-dimensional painting and everyone is painting, but there is no connection to the painting, and there’s no relationship to the painting.

Emotion is what binds everything. Emotion is what gives us meaning. Emotion is what helps us to reflect on our place in this whole scheme of things. Most people don’t even know that they have all these emotions. Most of us think that We are victims of our emotions; we don’t have any control over our emotions. When anger takes over us, we simply have to react in an angry manner. We don’t have the choice to stop that anger. Emotional intelligence is the power to exercise your choice to stop an emotion and channel it in any direction you want.

This is not a totally alien concept, because a lot of us actually know what this is. Some of us actually use it but a lot of us know what it is. A situation happens, you get angry, and immediately some other force subsides that anger; it helps you to control that anger, and immediately a sort of intelligence comes in–a sort of thought process comes in–where you say, “Oh, I’m getting angry. Why am I getting angry?”

The moment you start interpreting your emotions, you are choosing to be intelligent. Because emotion is a force, it just happened to you. When you are able to pause that emotion, when you are able to say, “Now I’m getting angry, now I need to do something about it,” or “I want to see why this is happening.” Whatever it is that you do with that moment of anger (except for totally bursting out in anger) is a sign of emotional intelligence. When you burst out in anger without exercising any control over it, that is the sign of lack of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a fancy term we use, as if it is something totally separate; as if it is something that we need to acquire. It is within us. We are all emotional creatures and we think we are right. We actually think that logic and reasoning and systematic approach is our whole life, but in reality it isn’t. In reality our life is shaped by our emotions. Knowing how to direct these emotions in a certain direction is emotional intelligence. 

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Mind & Sleep

Mind & Sleep

All of us at some point in time have had trouble sleeping. No matter what we do, the body wants to sleep, but the mind says, “No way!” Why does this happen?  Sleep is our birthright!

Sleep doesn’t just happen (or not happen) during the night. How you sleep is affected by what goes on during the day. If your day involves constant thinking, jumping from one thing to another without any rest, then guess what? That’s going to continue into the night.

We need to understand that life has no upper and lower limits. We can work ourselves to death, we can think ourselves to death and we don’t realize it. We think that, “Oh, it’s just thinking; it’s wonderful, it’s nice,” but you can go crazy, you can go mad just by thinking. There’s really no upper limit since the mind is not a limited phenomenon. It’s only the body that is limited; the mind is totally free to imagine whatever it wants to imagine. It can go deeper and deeper into layers and layers of thinking where you can get totally trapped.

Our minds are like the engine of a car that we never shut off. We leave it running continuously, day after day, year after year, letting it just go crazy with thoughts. We need to learn how to shut the engine off when we’re not using it so we can get some rest! The way to do this is to incorporate “conscious rest” into our daily routines.  Conscious rest is simply to sit quietly and watch your breath. Each hour, if possible, sit for 10 minutes and just watch your breath. When a thought comes into your mind, just let it go; don’t entertain it. The monotony of watching the breath can magically keep thoughts at bay because your mind can only handle one thing at a time; if you’ve got it tied up watching the breath, then there’s no room for any imaginary trips of horror into the future or depressing dramas from the past.

This is going to seem impossible at first, because the mind has never been approached like this–it’s had free rein to think whatever it wants, whenever it wants. To gain control, you’ve got to be persistent. Just think: If you work for 8 hours per day and are able to sit 5 or 6 times during the day (and a little after work as well) and practice watching the breath, after a week or so you’ll start getting the hang of it. Then, the next time you lay down to sleep and your mind says, “I’m going off on a tangent now,” you can say, “No way–I’m watching the breath. You be still.”

And sleep will come.


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