Are you a green parrot or a drop from the ocean? – a view on reincarnation and Oneness

A useful site on Hindu teachings presents two analogies.

The first is the ‘drop and the ocean’ analogy in which

The soul is compared to a drop of water and liberation to its merging into the vast ocean which represents the Supreme Soul (God).
According to the advaita schools, the soul and God are equal in every respect, and liberation entails realisation of one’s Godhood. Thus, one’s mistaken sense of individuality is dissolved, and one merges into the all-pervading Supreme.

The second is the ‘green parrot analogy in which

The individual soul is compared to a green bird that enters a green tree (God). It appears to have “merged”, but retains its separate identity.

  • The personalistic schools of thought maintain that the soul and God are eternally distinct and that any “merging” is only apparent. “Oneness” in this case refers to:

unity of purpose through loving service realisation of one’s nature as brahman (godly) but maintenance of one’s spiritual individuality.

  • Liberation involves entering God’s abode, though many schools teach that those souls who have become free from material contamination are already liberated, even before leaving the material body

The two analogies are to help explain two views’ on the process of attaining ‘moksha’ a freeing or liberation from samsara, the endless round of repeating cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation);

practically all schools consider it a state of unity with God, the nature of such unity is contested. The advaita traditions say that moksha entails annihilation of the soul’s false sense of individuality and realisation of its complete non-difference from God. The dualistic traditions claim that God remains ever distinct from the individual soul. Union in this case refers to a commonality of purpose and realisation of one’s spiritual nature (brahman) through surrender and service to the Supreme Brahman (God).

REINCARNATION and ARE THE TWO VIEWS RESOLVABLE?

Firstly I should say that the conventional understanding doesn’t work for me. Instead I see reincarnation as every moment in which I prompt myself to return to the ‘body of my true Self’, away from any egoistic, lower self, attachment.

Oak trees produce acorns but the don’t become again the acorn from which they grew. Life is progressive in terms of the after-life. But in this world every time we repeat the same ego-driven mistakes we ‘reincarnate’ ourselves into our lower self.

In unitive meditation we merge with the Whole, but not as a co-equal partner with the Godhead – the finite cannot claim to comprehend the Infinite. That which we become at-one with is Creation not the Creator.

On this subject listen to the 8thC Chinese poet known as Li Po;

“The birds have vanished from the sky,

and now the last clouds slip away.

We sit alone, the mountain and I,

until only the mountain remains.”

If the ego is sufficiently quietened for us to be ‘absorbed’ it is a unity with Creation not the Creator.

To the Chinese poet I would add a Baha’i perspective the holds that in the afterlife we commune with souls with whom we have associated;

13. As to the question whether the souls will recognize each other in the spiritual world:

This fact is certain; for the Kingdom is the world of vision where all the concealed realities will

become disclosed. How much more the well-known souls will become manifest. The mysteries

of which man is heedless in this earthly world, those he will discover in the heavenly world, and

here will he be informed of the secret of truth; how much more will he recognize or discover

persons with whom he hath been associated. Undoubtedly, the holy souls who find a pure eye

and are favored with insight will, in the kingdom of lights, be acquainted with all mysteries, and

will seek the bounty of witnessing the reality of every great soul. Even they will manifestly

behold the Beauty of God in that world. Likewise will they find all the friends of God, both those

of the former and recent times, present in the heavenly assemblage.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Bahá’í World Faith, p. 367 –
This Baha’i extract is from Dr Bill Huitt’s excellent compilation HERE

IN CONCLUSION

The two views illustrated by ‘the green parrot’ and ‘the drop-ocean’ analogies are resolvable via this perspective. In so far as we mirror the higher Self and quieten the ‘chattering monkey’ of the lower self we attain Moksha, Nirvana, Heaven. This is a moment by moment switching until we are enabled to maintain a more constant connection with the higher Self. Experiences of unity are sublime, ineffable, bliss-full but we are not then at-one with the Godhead, just sufficiently ego-less to feel at-one with the rest of Creation! We get close to God in this limited sense through living a life that obeys the Covenant of eternal verities found in the mystical heart of all great faiths.

From Zen we learn

The great Master Dogen said,

“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self,

to study the self is to forget the self, and

to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”

To be enlightened by the ten thousand things is to recognize the unity of the self and the ten thousand things.

A limited at-one-ness – through seeking the True Self within – and enjoying endless dualities of this world are the two wings through which we fly spiritually (including spirituality as intellectuallity).

It is certainly true that ‘all is God’ but our reality and our powers are devolved not co-equal.

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Go HERE
to visit the ISKCON site from which I took inspiration for this article.

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Interspirituality, the 21stC version of perennial wisdom, celebrates the Oneness behind the jostling exclusivist-ic world-views!

Is non-duality good and duality bad?

Thanks for the discussion and your question about non-duality and teachers of non-duality.

From a quick listen to Rupert Spira so far it seems to be high quality teaching. The design of his site is exquisite! See HERE

As with other luminaries e.g Tolle and Wilber I would make the following comment;

In brief non-duality & duality are both gifts of life (God if you prefer or the Whole) – both are essential, both are ongoing. We need to work both wings in complementary harmony. The goal of life is not to eliminate duality, but to have strong, complementary synergistic experiences of duality and non-duality! Harmony requires diversity and vv.

The separate self is good – hallelujah! The small self is good – without it we would have no mastery of self. Without it no comedians would lift our spirits. Without it no artist would create.

As the great Zen Master Dogen said,

“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self,

to study the self is to forget the self, and

to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”

To be enlightened by the ten thousand things is to recognize the unity of the self and the ten thousand things.

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This is an enormous field – see the work by Jerry Katz HERE (1000+ very long pages!) and HERE

I tried to build some of these ideas into the 60 Seconds Meditation (for galloping frenetically-busy people) – HERE

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Or as Stuart GuruStu Rosen HERE put it
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Exquisitely beautiful Baha'i chant in English

THE SCRIPTURAL TEXT

“Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden!” – Bahá’u’lláh

(From album entitled – Luke Slott “Create in Me a Pure Heart”)
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Would you like to start a One Garden Interspirituality group in your area?

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The ‘One Garden’ – A General Introduction for newcomers to the One Garden Groups

GENERAL INFORMATION

Game, set & match! – If you have realized the Oneness behind the diversity you are already a ‘member’ of the ‘One Garden’ – welcome home!

AIM & PURPOSE OF THE ‘ONE GARDEN’ COMMUNITY – to celebrate, experience, explore & practice oneness/Oneness – from within the enlightenment teachings of great spiritual teachers – in a frame work of perennial wisdom or Perennial Philosophy (see below) context .

In our meetings we use mainly contemplative dialogue but start and end with short silent meditations. On a daily basis group members practice according to what they choose – some may still be happily within mainstream faith communities, some might be refugees from painful experience in mainstream religions, some have simply realized that behind the myriad world-views there is Oneness.

We see the overall spiritualizing process as 2 ‘wings’ that together enable spirituality.

i) All spiritually alive people use the first wing to stay connected to the Whole i.e.

– it requires that the ‘ego & mind’ be quietened, (this is our heart-centre & right-brain).

ii) The second wing with which we fly spiritually is dialogue (left-brain, head-centred).

We achieve a sense of connection with the Whole, (it ebbs and flows, unless you are one of the great masters), via mindfulness – or more correctly mind-less-ness!

The two wings need to be in harmony – if one wing is overdeveloped we flap and go round in circles and never fly upwards at all!

OUR MAP-MAKERS: As map-makers of the ‘territory’ we have Eckhart Tolle, Aldous Huxley, Wayne Teasdale & Ken Wilber – and for a popular historical perspective – Karen Armstrong.

Other great teachers: Thich Nhat Hanh, Christian Contemplatives, Shaikh Kabir Helminski, Abdu’l-Baha,, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Quaker Universalism, Deng Ming-Dao, Albert Einstein, Prof John Miller (great champion of Holistic Education) – and ‘wonder-full’ poets & philosophers!

All are ‘gate-keepers’, or pointers as Buddhist teachers say, to realizing ourselves in the ‘One Garden’!

If you like reading see suggested reading list below

WEEKLY – BUT NO NEED TO ATTEND EVERY WEEK – each session is ‘stand alone’. You don’t have to buy books or read lots – materials provided.

WHO IS IT FOR?: For all on a path to realizing their true self .

HOW’S IT WORK? – each week we have a topic/question: One way we work is simply to put ‘spiritual jewels’ next to each other e.g. by juxtaposing these two pieces by Rumi & Abraham Joshua Heschel;

1 Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing – by Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.

AND

2 Concepts & Amazement – a quote by A J Heschel

“Concepts are delicious snacks with which

we try to alleviate our amazement.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel – Who is Man p.88

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EXAMPLE TOPIC: Being at-one

EXAMPLE QUESTION: Where & how and through what are we one?

DEVISING THE AGENDA: One way we use is following a short period of silence and a short introduction including quotations the group, we work in pairs, and consult to generate the questions that will make up the agenda for the main group dialogue. Sometimes we have free-flowing dialogue or ‘rounds’.

THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY

“Most of the great wisdom traditions agree on an age-old model which says about both the Cosmos and about our human nature:

1. Spirit, by whatever name, exists.

2. Spirit, although existing “out there,” is found “in here,” or revealed within to the open heart and mind.

3. Most of us don’t realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation, or duality-that is, we are living in a fallen, illusory, or fragmented state.

4. There is a way out of this fallen state (of sin or illusion or disharmony or non-integration), there is a Path to our liberation.

5. If we follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within and without, a Supreme Liberation, which

6. marks the end of sin and suffering, and

7. manifests in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings.”

The above is KW’s model of The Perennial Philosophy.

RP’s shortest model = ‘Awaken: Detach: Serve’

Namaste & all good wishes – Roger

NB We contribute a minimum of £3.00 where a room is hired – OR just £1.00 toward running expenses handouts, MeetUp fees, travel etc. – thanks.

More ‘One Garden’ quotes HEREhttp://universalistspirit.wordpress.com/quotes/nonduality-flavoured-quotes/

The Perennial Philosophy model

a) Shortest version (RP) = Awakening:Detachment:Service

b) A Christian-Buddhist comparison (Very short version)

  1. There is something bigger than us – the Mysterious Whole

  2. We either are (West), or seem to be (East), separated from it (Victims?)

  3. Through various means we can become reunited with it (or realize that we already are).

  4. Once the separation is overcome, we will lead larger, richer, fuller lives.

In Christian terms, the four steps are:

  1. God

  2. Sin

  3. Faith (or works)

  4. Salvation

In Buddhist terms:

  1. Nirvana (the state of the Absolute)

  2. Illusion or Ignorance

  3. Practice (devotion or meditation)

  4. Enlightenment

TO COME AND ENJOY THE DISCUSSION IN THE ‘ONE GARDEN’ GROUPS YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ – I PROVIDE ALL THAT IS NEEDED AS A HANDOUT

If you prefer videos check out the stunning range on YouTube by Tolle, Teasdale, Wilber, Thich Nhat Hanh, Karen Armstrong & especially the dialogue between Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber

BUT IF YOU LIKE READING:-

On my personal journey I wanted a heart connection with those who both described the territory of the One Garden and those who lived it as well as taught it. Below are those who became my ‘gatekeepers’ to the One Garden – the map-makers and the teachers.

a) THE MAP-MAKERS OF THE TERRITORY OF THE ONE GARDEN

First I strongly recommend you read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now – that is enough!

Want more – then read The Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale or Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy

Then Ken Wilber and Karen Armstrong

b) THE ‘GATEKEEPERS’ WHO POINT TO THE ‘ONE GARDEN’, AND THEIR SUGGESTED KEY BOOKS

COMMUNITY TEACHER BOOK TO START WITH

Taoism Deng Ming-Dao 365 Tao

Hinduism Ved Vyasa The Bhagavad Gita

Buddhism Thich Nhat Hanh Happiness

Judaism Abraham Joshua Heschel Who is Man

Christianity Wayne Teasdale The Mystic Heart

Sufism (Islam) Shaikh Kabir Helminski Living Presence

Baha’i Abdu’l-Baha Paris Talks (I will put together a compilation)

HUMANISTS – see HERE

Aldous Huxley The Perennial Philosophy

Albert Einstein (A compilation – see online)

All seem to me to point to the One Garden, and the books listed provide a gateway into the One Garden.

You might like to start with the tradition with which you are most familiar.

As a first step in reading, if you want, I suggest you reread The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

I know there are more teachers – but the above is all I can handle – along with some extracts from from poets and philosophers!

IF YOU WANT TO PRACTICE: Listen to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh: “ Smile, Breathe, Go mindfully.”

His teachings on practices from over 60 years are gathered into one book ‘Happiness: essential mindfulness practices.’

Eckhart Tolle’s book on practice is called Practicing the Power of Now

There is also a summary of practices taught by ET – see HERE

If you a) practice – Smile, Breathe, Go mindfully” – and b) read and the bell hasn’t rung – practice some more – or worst case scenario – take up fishing!

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OUR THREE WEB-SITES

1) ”One Garden’ – dedicated site for the, ‘One Garden’ groups – is HERE

2) Soul Needs: peace through realizing oneness = celebrating the human spirit via;

i) THE ARTS – especially (street) photography,

ii) PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT & human-centred studies,

iii) SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVISM,

iv) INTERFAITH inter-spirituality & Perennial Wisdom, including the ‘One Garden’ project.

v) WHOLE-PERSON LEARNING, radical renewal of child education + healing for adults – (via a) to d)!) – –

vi) THE NEW PROJECT – ‘HEALTH MATTERS’ – surviving IPF as long as possible!

NB Usually posts for all ‘6 Projects’ start or end up on the ‘Soul Needs’ site – RP

3) The ‘Quotations Treasury’ – just quotations – http://quotationstreasury.wordpress.com/

“Don’t quarrel with a rose-tree because it cannot sing.” – reality as is-ness, is-ness as reality

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I recently had the the news that my life-span will be cut short.  I am committed to enjoying every moment of every day, and to being the longest surviving IPF patient.  

Looking Mr D squarely in the face is vital but I’m not going to play chess with him, as in a certain Ingmar Bergman film, nor will I Iet him spoil any flash of beauty that comes my way.  I acknowledge that the minute, hour and day is set – so be it. (As it is for everyone – but we manage to ignore the fact most of the time.) But today is the first day of a shorter life as much as it is the first day of the rest of the life of anyone with a century to live – so let me breathe in all it’s truth, beauty & goodness!

Fortunately I had discovered the ‘secret of the universe, the ‘secret of all secrets’ a few years ago.  I suppose I’m not certain what I should do with it other than try to live up, in some measure, to the challenge that it brings – the challenge of closing the gap between theory & practice!  Closing the gap is to ‘Die before you die’ as contemporary Sufi master Sheikh Kabir Helminski reminds us (Chap 22 in his book Living Presence)

The important death is the death, or diminution, of the egoistic lower self in favour of living in the presence of the Self.  Here are some of my favourite inspiring quotations that bring together aspects of the two kinds of death:

“Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s own being, and it points the way from bondage to freedom.  By making us drink right from the fountain of life it liberates us from all the yokes under which we finite beings are usually suffering in this world.”  D T Suzuki

Another Zen Master in providing a summary of Zen Buddhism said, “No self, no problem.”  (Such divine brevity!)

 Lao-tzu said, “Embrace death with your whole heart.

 Socrates said, “Practice death.

 Those who sense the wonder, share in the wonder.” A J Heschel

 “What does it matter Oh my Lord if I never meet you – I am already annihilated.” – Sufi

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FROM THE BAHA’I ‘MASTER’ – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

A friend asked: “How should one look forward to death?” 96

‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and with expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey. In the next world, man will find himself freed from many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. Those who have passed on through death, have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours; their work, the work of the Kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from what we call ‘time and place.’ Time with us is measured by the sun. When there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not exist for man. Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.

“In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you! When you do not know it, and are in a receptive attitude, they are able to make suggestions to you, if you are in difficulty. This sometimes happens in sleep. but there is no phenomenal intercourse! That which seems like phenomenal intercourse has another explanation.” The questioner exclaimed; “But I have heard a voice!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Yes, that is possible; we hear voices clearly in dreams. It is not with the physical ear that you heard; the spirit of those that have passed on are freed from sense-life, and do not use physical means. It is not possible to put these great matters into human words; the language of man is the language of children, and man’s explanation often leads astray.” 97

Someone present asked how it was that in prayer and meditation the heart often turns with instinctive appeal to some friend who has passed into the next life.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “It is a law of God’s creation that the weak should lean upon the strong. Those to whom you turn may be the mediators of God’s power to you, even as when on earth. But it is the One Holy Spirit that strengthens all men.” Hereupon another friend referred to the communing of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah; and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “The faithful are ever sustained by the presence of the Supreme Concourse. In the Supreme Concourse are Jesus, and Moses, and Elijah, and Bahá’u’lláh, and other supreme Souls: there, also, are the martyrs.”

When asked about the individual persistence of the animal’s personality after death, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Even the most developed dog has not the immortal soul of the man; yet the dog is perfect in its own place. You do not quarrel with a rose-tree because it cannot sing!”    SOURCE http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/ABL/abl-52.html

One theme that cuts across death and death of the ego is reality as in the is-ness of things – don’t quarrel with a rose-tree because it can’t sing!

TAGS: Zen, Buddhism, interfaith, inter-spirituality, interfaith inter-spirituality, death, ego, dying to self, Self, Socrates, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ,  Lao-tzu, Heschel, Sufi, is-ness, ontology, today, the secret of the universe, Kabir Helminski, Sufism, prayer, meditation, Baha’i, Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Bahá’u’lláh, salvation, redemption, animals, roses, dogs, birds, perennial philosophy, is-ness, ontology, being, reality,