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A contributor ‘Maria’ wrote a piece HERE

under the heading of ‘A Tour of Advaita via the Books of Dennis Waite’

As a summary of advaita some may find it useful;

Summary

• Advaita uses various methods (prakriyA-s) to analyze topics about which we have mistaken beliefs in order to reveal our errors and to demonstrate that there is only Brahman.

• The method of discriminating between who we are (the seer) and what we are not (the seen – body, mind etc.) is called dRRigdRRiSya- viveka.

• Who we really are – Brahman – is beyond description and immaculate.

• The body is nothing more than the food we have eaten, yet we worry about its comfort, aging and death.

• Consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the mind. Everything “appears” in Consciousness.

• We do not “think” thoughts – they arise and we witness them.

• The mind assumes the power of Consciousness in the way that an iron ball in the fire becomes hot.

• Attachment to emotions occurs similarly and we must cultivate dispassion (vairAgya). Peace is beyond all emotions.

• The ego is a construction of concepts and its power is destroyed once the truth is understood. This is the basis of “Self-enquiry.”

• ahaMkAra is the process by which we identify with ideas, emotions, roles etc. All disappear in sleep so we cannot be them.

• Neither are we the mask of a “person.” We are the changeless “I am,” the essence of the changing forms.

• The sheath model (pa~ncha-kosha-prakriyA) is used to illustrate the various levels of identification.

• The true Self has nothing to do with the body and mind etc, just as the moon has nothing to do with the bough of the tree on which it appears to rest.

• We are constantly lured by the form and miss the essence.

• Everything transient is first rejected (neti, neti) in order to discover who we truly are, the eternal unchanging. It is then realized that the changing, too, is none other than the non-dual Self.

• Just as dreams are seen to have been nothing but the mind itself on awakening, so the world is seen to be the Self on enlightenment.

• If it can be spoken of, I am not that. Truth is beyond language, which is necessarily in duality. I am the eternal subject. Reality is self-evident.

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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!

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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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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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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/

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“If you are average you have 30 months to live,” the Consultant said 10 months ago.

Having found out that my remaining life is likely to be very much shorter than the expected 20 to 30 years caused a reorganization of priorities, a focusing, a greater willingness to live in the now!

But support is flying in from all directions! I recently found this extract from Thich Nhat Hanh – it is comforting, elevating, beautiful, sweet, inspiring, a source of quiet joy as is everything that emanates from this man, one of the greatest teachers of our time ;

“When I drink tea it’s very pleasant

to be aware 

I am drinking cloud.”

What happens when you die?

by Thich Nhat Hanh

A transcription from a talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh during a retreat with five hundred people in Hong Kong on 15 May 2007 (apologies for any inaccuracies of mine — Editor)

In order to answer what happens us when we die, we need to answer another question – what happens when we are alive?
What is happening now to us? In English we say ‘we are’ but it’s proper to say ‘we are becoming’ because things are becoming. We’re not the same person in two consecutive minutes.

su_ong1A picture of you as baby looks different to you now. The fact is you are not exactly the same as that baby and not entirely a different person either. In a picture of you as a five year old, you are not exactly the same as that child and not entirely a different person either – the form, feelings and mental formations are different.
In the middle way there is no sameness and no otherness

You may think you are still alive but in fact you have been dying everyday, every minute, cells die and are born – for neither do we have funerals or birthdays (laughter).

Death is a very necessary condition of birth. With no death, there is no birth. They inter-are and happen in every moment to the experienced meditator. For instance a cloud may have died many times, into rain, streams, water. The cloud may want to wave to itself on earth! Rain is a continuation of the cloud. With a meditation practitioner nothing can hide itself. When I drink tea, it’s very pleasant to be aware I am drinking cloud.

When you are parents, you die and are reborn as your children. “You are my continuation, I love you.” The Buddha told us how to ensure a beautiful continuation – a compassionate thought, a beautiful thought. Forgiveness is our continuation. If anger, separation and hate arise, then we will not ensure a beautiful continuation. When we pronounce a word that is compassionate, good and beautiful that is our continuation.

When a cloud is polluted, the rain is polluted. So purifying thoughts, word and action creates a beautiful continuation. We can see the effects of our speech in our children. My disciples are my continuation ­– both monastic and lay. I want to transmit loving speech, action and thought. This is called karma in Buddhism.

This body of mine will disintegrate but my karma will continue – karma means action. My karma is already in the world. My continuation is everywhere in the world. When you look at one of my disciples walking with compassion, I know he is my continuation. I don’t want to transmit my negative emotions, I want to transform them before I transmit them. The dissolution of this body is not my end. Surely I will continue after the dissolution of this body. So don’t worry about my death, I am not going to die.

Let us meditate on the birth of a cloud. Does it have a birth certificate? (laughter) Examine the notion of birth – the notion that nothing can come from something, from no-one to someone. Is it possible for something to come from nothing? Scientifically this is not possible.

The cloud was water in an ocean, lake, river and heat from the sun gave it birth – the moment of continuation. For instance, birth – before you were born you were in your mother’s womb. The moment of birth is a moment of continuation. Is the moment of conception the start? You are half from your dad and half from your mum already, this is also a moment of continuation. When you practise meditation you can see things like that.

It is impossible for a cloud to die. It can become water, snow – it cannot become nothing. It is also impossible for us to die. Speech, action and thought continue in the future. The person who dies still continues because we are not capable of using meditators’ eyes. They continue in us and around us. All our ancestors are alive in us. Our ancestors are in our chromosomes.

I wrote a book ‘No Death, No Fear’. When conditions are right I manifest and when not, not. There is no coming, no going. Before she manifests we should not call her non-existing. Before manifestation you cannot call her non-being. They are a pair of opposites.

Meditating on the nature of creation and being may be the best way to understanding God. The theologian Paul Koenig describes God as the Ground of Being. Who then is the Ground of Non-being? This diminishes God. In Buddhism both notions of being and non-being can describe reality. Similarly, above and below, Europe and here.

Nirvana is the absence of all notions, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness. According to Buddhism, ‘to be or not to be’ is not a real question.

Meditation takes us beyond to a place of fearlessness. We’re too busy, so we become victims of anger, fear. If we have really touched our nature of no birth/death, we know to die is one of the root conditions to realise oneself.

We have to learn how to die in every moment in order to be fully alive.

This teaching on the middle way is the cream of Buddha’s teaching. Many of our ancestors realised this and were not afraid of death.

We should be able to release our tensions. We are the karma we produce every day in our daily life, if we know how, to ensure continuation. I have a disciple in Vietnam who wants to build a stupa with my ashes. He wants to put a plaque with the words ‘Here lies my beloved teacher’. But I want to write ‘There is nothing here’ (lots of laughter). Because if you look deeply there is continuation.

I treasure the time I have left, more for me to practise. I want to generate energy of love, compassion and understanding so I can continue beautifully. I would like you to do the same. Use your time wisely. Every moment produce beautiful thoughts, loving, kindness, forgiveness. Say beautiful things, inspire, forgive, act physically to protect and help. We know we are capable of producing beautiful karma for good continuations and the happiness of other people.

When the time comes for dissolution of this body you may like to release it easily. You aren’t to grasp – releasing body and perception. Remember the image of a cloud in the sky seeing continuation in rice and ice-cream waving to itself. You can already see your continuation. The art of living is continuation. For myself and the other beings.

Sariputra – one of Buddha’s main disciples, Ananda and other friends went to see Anathapindika a lay disciple who was a businessman and dying. He had made time to come to dharma talks and weekly practice.

When the Venerables came they asked whether the pain had diminished. He replied that it was increasing. The monks led him on a meditation on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. After a few minutes there was no more suffering and he smiled.

When you sit close to a person dying talk to them of happy experiences in their life. Touch seeds of happiness in them…………………………………………..

It speaks to the greatest joys and the greatest hurts of my life.

Let us ‘inter-be’, as this great Zen master teaches, from every atom of his being. If he is not the real McCoy, there is no real McCoy.

To read the full article go HERE

Note from WikiPedia on the theologian Paul Tillich and ‘God as the Ground of being’;

Tillich described God

(spatially) as the “Ground of Being” and (temporally) as the “Eternal Now,”[47] in tandem with the view that God is not an entity among entities but rather is “Being-Itself”—notions which Eckhart Tolle, for example, has invoked repeatedly ………were paradigmatically renovated by Tillich, although of course these ideas derive from Christian mystical sources as well as from ancient and medieval theologians such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas

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