Sunday, April 30, 2017

Three Pillars of Misery

Are you miserable because of your circumstances, or are your circumstances miserable because of you?

The truth is I have nothing to do. I have no ambition, nowhere to go, no one to be or become. I don't need to distract myself from anything or convince myself of anything. There is nothing that I think isn't as it should be, and I have no interest in how you see me. I have nothing to guide me except my own comfort or discomfort. I don't seem to be too bored or unhappy about it.

When you think of happiness, you often mean the experience of wonderful emotions like joy or delight. You may consider a relief to be happiness too. Or well-being, or the experience of contentment combined with a sense that your life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile...

Delusions Mr. Anderson! Temporary construct of human intellect desperately trying to make sense of his meaningless existence.

Joy, delight, relief, well-being, contentment are the building blocks of you as an individual but you don't recognize it. Your very search for these things makes you unhappy. As a consequence of the search your happiness is a temporary state of mind between two sorrows.

The search for happiness is the first pillar of misery.

You believe happiness is reliant upon the acquisition of something new or something different. You are constantly chasing, but never attaining. Often times, you search for it in all the wrong places...

Of course, my primary goal in writing this is to help myself cultivate happiness in my life!  If I just for a second forget problems and pay attention to writing these words I am, just for a moment, a little bit happier then before. And if I laugh while I'm writing my posts, that is even better.

I experience delight when I create new post and watch visitor stats increase. Yes, my writing is a source of inspiration, joy, gratitude, and hope. Sometimes I write a new post with great expectation that my readers, my colleagues, family, and friends will like it. And then I get disappointed because my post hit hard bottom in click-number.

The second pillar of misery is expectation. 

I became aware that my writing and thinking skills, and my creativity, sarcasm, and humor are not what I think to be. I need to keep in perspective everything. Well, everything, but particularly the bad things, the frustrating things, and the irritating things. They will protect me from expectations.

What I expect significantly influences how I'll perceive circumstances. The things are as they are, emotionally neutral if I don’t explicitly set out expectations.

Take a moment to consider your own view of happiness.

Is happiness more of a fleeting emotion or permanent state of your being?  At the end of the day, you deserve a life full of positive well-being, goodness, meaning, and worth. That’s what happiness is all about. But if you look at others and compare yourself to them you'll never find satisfaction.

Looking into others and comparing yourself to them is the third pillar of misery. 

You are conditioned to mirror yourself against other people, to seek happiness in relationships. Realize that people are not things to fulfill your void. Their job is not to make you happy – they are probably struggling with the same problems just as hard as you.

You look at others thinking they are enjoying their lives and at the same time achieving something. You're not jealous, but sometimes you just feel sorry about yourself that you work really hard but without much difference. Stop all of that. Comparing yourself to other people will only add to your misery.

Friday, April 28, 2017

YOGA: Body is not stiff, mind is stiff

During high school and college years I used to play basketball in a city club. I was good, physically fit, good with the ball, fast and I could run for hours. In the beginning of new season, the strength is slowly built by daily training. Every day you feel more energy and you can run longer distances. That was in basketball but not in ashtanga yoga. The mostly unspoken truth of ashtanga yoga is its slow progress.

Last week, from Monday to Friday, I've had five practices but I really enjoyed only the one, the rest were slow moving, mechanical and tiring. I practice ashtanga yoga for the last ten years and still I have a lot of problem with the practice. I am 52 now and half primary series makes me exhausted. I am afraid of injuries so I practice with a great care. Nearly all ashtangis suffer injuries from time to time, usually minor, but occasionally major ones that become chronic or permanent.

The “no pain no gain” approach to ashtanga yoga is not good, it inevitably invites injuries. Couple years ago I teared MCL on left knee, and since then the left side sitting postures are great suffering; the right knee is not any better. I started ashtanga believing that physical fitness means going to war with myself. In truth, those who seek pain will surely find it in ashtanga yoga.

The physical benefits of ashtanga have been astonishing for me, but I also learned the hard way there are risks practicing it, and the risks increase with age. In the first year of my practice, in 2006, I was constantly on the verge of sickness, I did daily full primary series at the mysore class in local yoga studio. I felt cleaning power of ashtanga yoga. I remember that a single glass of cold water would make my throat sore.

I have had difficulty understanding simple truth that there are no shortcuts in ashtanga yoga. I was misled by a “no pain no gain” mentality, so I pushed through the walls that often leads me to injury. I had constant wrist pain and back pain with occasional muscle pop ups.

I did not understand that the whole point of ashtanga yoga is to be a friend with the body, not to change it into something I wished or desired but to accept it as it is, to accept what I have right here and now. It took me long time and lot of injuries to get this, and to be quite honest, I am not sure this is still the case. Loving and caring for my physical body is not my primary goal in the practice of ashtanga yoga. YET.

The practice of ashtanga requires the focused awareness of stability, breath and drishti and all its moving parts and pieces. The mind tends to wander and distract, I must continually return to the body. By using breath as the bridge I put my attention of the breath into the areas of the body where I feel the most painful sensation. Relying on breath to relax the stiffness I am bringing softness and sweetness to my mind.

I did noticed that in my practice I make yet another mistake. I try to hold the pose for five breaths and doing that results in a stagnant, rigid practice. Instead of the body I should be in the breath, staying in the flow. As an older ashtangi I should move slowly, slightly, gently, exploring each pose, making subtle adjustments by small degrees. I should avoid fatigue.

Growing older is a shitty business. There is nothing good in that. I'm made more aware each day of my own mortality, and how few decades I possibly still have left on this earth. Yet, when one if still healthy other things became possible. So ashtanga yoga is my main interest right now, I am going to unroll my math right now and do the practice...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saint George is my Patron Saint

The story of St. George

George was a Roman soldier who lived at the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century. He was a good soldier of Rome and a faithful servant of Christ, but he had to chose between the two.  If he remained a soldier he would have to deny Christ and worship the gods of Rome. Then he would be allowed to live in peace. If he remained faithful to Christ he would have to disobey the Emperor and face the consequences.

George set out to the Emperor’s court to plead for the law to be changed. His friends begged him not to go. They could see it would end in his death. When he got the message the Emperor Diocletian refused to see George instead he was condemned to death. He was tortured and dragged though the streets of the city. Eventually he was beheaded. This happened on April 23rd. – St George’s Day.

So George was a great, brave man. Perhaps the story of his slaying a dragon is just a way of saying he stood up against the “dragon” of paganism and of tyranny. We can all learn from George. We all have our dragons – those bad things in our lives we need to struggle against – things like cruelty, unkindness, greed, laziness selfishness.

Sometimes we have to make a stand for truth or right or justice – even when it costs us. To speak up for the weak and the oppressed, not being afraid of being unpopular or appearing uncool because we stand up for what we believe.

In the past for seven years I had photos of Siddharameshwar Maharaj, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi hanging on the wall above my meditation place. I had put the photos in very nice frames. I used to bow down in front of each photo before I would start meditation. I consider that act of devotion to be of great importance. Then one day in October 2012, it just came to me to finish with that. I just took the photos down.

I faced the empty wall. For a long time I looked at the empty wall. Seven years the photos were there and now they were missing, The wall looked strange. And then something happened fear entered to my heart. I felt alone, really alone. I was facing my own emptiness.

Later that month, I remembered Gurdjieff and his explanation of St. George. St. George is not what legend said. It is deeply coded message to the seekers of the truth. Dragon is the ego, imagination, beliefs, ideas, concepts etc. St. George represents the mind, the horse is physical body (emotions) and the sword is discrimination.

I went to the church and bought St. George's icon. I put it on the wall. Now, I look at St. George every day. I don't see St. George there, I'm seeing a clear message... Why to worry, everything is nothing. How can nothing touch me?

When I forget the world, the objects around me, when your stop worrying about my relationships with others, when I feel just the presence of "I AM", I feel bliss and love. Then I forget everything, my concepts and the world. This is meditation.

Nothing is, nothing exists. The world is still here in front of me but it has no reality. That is what is called awakening, realization or self-knowledge. It is realization that the world is only illusion. St. George tells me to be strong and have fear of nothing and no one, for everything is nothing.

Real happiness is inside me, and it can not be found outside. In deep sleep I'm happy. I forget myself. Therefore, happiness lies in the forgetting of myself. My personality, my identity, is nothing but a rumor and to constantly remember that I need the courage - the capability to accept that all is illusion.

Nothing can touch me. The "I" is an illusion and what "I" thinks is also illusion. Whatever happens in the world, it is only my imagination, and in fact nothing ever happens, it is only a long dream. I should not be touched by passing appearances.

Happy Saint George's Day!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Master of Self-Realization, An Ultimate Understanding

What you are thinking of as "awake" - some intense new passion for a worthy cause or a deep feeling of love for all existence, is actually the deep sleep, much deeper than a feeling of boredom or indifference. It is an intense association with the Illusion. The bored and the indifferent are on the verge of leaving the lure of the temptress Maya behind, no longer swayed by her shiny attractions. They are on the verge of waking.

- Siddharameshwar Maharaj

It does not matter where do we live, all over the world there is this feeling that something is deeply wrong with our lives. It is felt so clearly; an unnamed busyness keeps us disconnected from the truth.

The world is run by banks and big corporations; they want economic growth at all costs producing stress, depression and apathy for all of us. We work hard just to pay taxes and monthly bills...

People who run these corporations are also humans but they are far apart from the human nature. They possess (or are possessed by) mentality of a predatory spirit who embodies greed; their gluttony and selfishness was transformed them into a predatory monsters. They have heart of ice making it impossible for them to feel compassion or love for others.

The predatory, heartless monsters are the creators of neoliberal capitalism; they are selfish and greedy; they lead this planet. They run this planet by employing tactics of division, celebrating wants and artificial needs for general consumption, creating mass poverty and fear as a system of control...

According to the 2016 statistics... the average canadian home has grown from 1,000 square feet to almost 2,500 square feet. We consume twice as many food and material goods today as we did 50 years ago. All while carrying, on average, nearly $15,000 in credit-card debt.

Society suggesting that we fill up our inner emptiness by buying things. Buy, buy, buy... sugared and processed foods, clothing, cars, new homes, gadgets, plastic surgery, cosmetics, drugs, vacations...

We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like. Just as our fellows who run big corporations we also have lost the connection with our feelings and inner being, and that lack of connection left us heartless and empty.

There is a woman whom one man calls his "wife", another calls his "sister" and a third calls his "daughter". Actually she is nothing but a lump of flesh and bones. Whatever you give a name to comes to exist. All is conceptual and depends upon the concept of the seer. The world and the beings in it are conceptual. The "seer" who takes the world to be real is the ego, and that ego has to be eradicated. If the ego vanishes, then only Reality remains.

- Siddharameshwar Maharaj 

The life's journey is a scam. There is no journey... There is no destination to reach, there is only this moment. And at this moment I am okay with the truth, which is simple but terrifying - we live life with mistaken identity.

We are living our lives just like robots; we're programmed by the society, so routinary, so weak... We create our own reality, but we lack the energy to understand that. We're too busy thinking how wonderful we are, how sensitive, how unique. We are not unique!

We all worry, oooh, how we worry, twenty-six hours a day! And what we worry about?... About me! What about me? What's in this shit for me? What's gonna happen to me? Such egomania, so horrendous but fascinating!

Me, me, me... it is all about me... but the sense of "I" does not reside in any particular part of the body. "I" is not in the body, neither as tenant nor as its owner. Identification with the body is "me", it is a belief, conviction, nothing else. But at once it is accepted, it creates birth and death, greed, desire, hatred, craving and self-importance.

When the 'me' is gone, the concept of being a seeker, the sense of doing something and the idea of something to be attained are also gone. Paramatman is uncovered without doing anything about it. If you examine all of your thoughts, you will find there is no 'I' at all.

-Siddharameshwar Maharaj

And that's where we are... We are here and now; slaves of our fears; under the sway of imagination, concepts, desires and doubts.