June 2010


I’ve spent a good deal of my time in India over the last several decades. There’s a common saying in India that if a teacher charges money for “the dharma” (which loosely translated means “teachings about the truth”) that he or she will go to a special section of hell set aside for spiritual entrepreneurs, an area cornered off and designed to be much nastier than the areas for axe murderers, rapists, and the like.

My primary teacher in India, H.W.L. Poonja, for example, never asked money from anyone for anything. There was no donation basket in the back of the room, even.

At the same time, there is another, equally well-established tradition in India, called “dana.”  You never go to a teacher empty-handed. If you want the blessings of the teacher, you should come equipped with baskets of fruit, cloth, and all other kinds of goodies.

In the last several decades, there have also been some immensely successful teachers making huge contributions to millions of people who have worked from exactly the opposite mentality. A good example is Harry Palmer, the creator of the Avatar training. He is a genuinely deep and awake guy, highly motivated to help people experience freedom.  “People will only actually integrate insights that they have come to regard as valuable”, he stated back in the early ’90’s. “And the way that people create value in Western society is by paying money.”    Consequently, a couple weekends with an Avatar trainer would cost $2,000. The Avatar training was immensely successful for a long time. Other similar examples of huge, culture-charging movements that have charged high fees are EST, Tony Robbins Seminars, The Sedona Method, and many more. (more…)

This is a practice from my 2008 book Leap Before You Look.

Find a place in nature
Where you can go every day.

If you live in a city,
It could be a park or even a flowerbed,
But if you live near a forest, like we do,
Step into the wild outdoors.
Sit in exactly the same spot every day,
Facing in the same direction,
And just be with things as they are.
Feel through your skin;
Listen carefully;
Watch and pay attention to the colors and shapes and movement.
Be aware of the movement of the trees,
The sounds and activities of small animals and insects.
The boundaries where you end
And nature begins
Will dissolve.

At the core of modern humanity’s suffering is the feeling of separation. We feel separated from each other in the ways we relate. We feel separated from the other members of our family. We feel separated from each other in our religious beliefs. We feel separated financially, racially, nationally. We feel separated from ourselves and from nature and from the divine.

Nature is not a way to experience Oneness; nature is One. There is no me and not-me in nature: everything is interconnected. When you return to the same place every day, you are returning to an ecosystem that is constantly in relationship with itself. The bark of the tree is home to the ants, who move in and out of the earth. They are eaten sometimes by the birds, whose song fills the space, and whose excrement returns to the soil. Everything is part of everything else. Nature is making love to itself, and eating itself, and excreting itself on itself all the time. Nature is incestuous, cannibalistic, and totally uncivilized.

When you start to sit in the same spot every day, you will at first feel like an outsider. You are bringing your civilized mind into nature, like an intellectual from New York City trying to fit in on a farm. You may sit awkwardly on the edge of a tree trunk, trying not to get dirty or be bitten by bugs. And just as you may feel cut off from nature, so nature may also not yet open to you. But just wait a little while. As you relax into this place, it will affect you, and you will affect it as well. You will become a part of the ecosystem. You will be accepted into the family. After a while, you may even experience the trees and the birds welcoming you home each day.

Your visits to this place will become an initiation into Oneness.

You can discover 72 practices like this in Leap Before You Look.

Buy it now from our online store.

I was just in a little Facebook conversation with Din Robinson and Darshana about the nuanced relationship between awakening and practice.  Here is part of the introduction to “Leap Before You Look.”   Enjoy!!!!

Meet Fred.
From a very early age, Fred had felt that something was missing in his life. Quite early on, after reading the right books and listening to the right teachers, he came to understand what was wrong: he had lost his cello. So, as a young man, Fred became a cello seeker.
Every now and then he’d hear cello music—far off, just a hint, but enough to remember: the purpose of his life was to find his missing cello. He toured the world, and wherever he heard cello music, or even just the word “cello” whispered on the wind, he would follow. Fred climbed the highest mountains, dove into the deepest oceans, trudged across the farthest deserts, all in search of his cello. He met many great teachers and tutors, visited countless concert halls and music schools, and sought out the finest quartets, quintets, and orchestras. He joined support groups, where people would gather together in circles to rediscover their inner cello. He bought books and videos with titles like Ten Steps to Cello Discovery. Over and over he asked, “Can you help me find my very own cello?” He was passionate, dedicated, and intense. Fred was a full-time professional cello seeker.
One day, after many decades of living a life where everything else had become secondary to his quest, he was rushing down the street to a cello seekers’ support group meeting. He was looking only at the pavement, focused on where he needed to go, when he collided with an old friend.
“Fred, where are you going in such a hurry?” asked the friend.
“I don’t have time to talk to you now,” Fred retorted. “I’m on my way to my cello finders’ support group meeting. I can’t stop.”
But Fred’s friend caught his arm, and held him there, right on the street. “Just wait a minute, Fred. Hold on. What is that thing on your back?”
“What’s what on my back?” asked Fred.
“That big wooden curvy stringy hollow strange-shaped thing?”
Fred glanced impatiently over his shoulder. “I don’t have time to bother with unidentified wooden curvy stringy things. Time is short, I have to find my cello.”
“But that thing on your back, that ain’t no trombone, fella. And that sure ain’t no violin or saxophone either. You’d better take a look.” (more…)

Imagine this.

Do you have small children in your life? Perhaps you have your own children, or nieces or nephews, or grandchildren, or maybe the children of friends or neighbors.

Imagine that you go to the toy store and buy the gift that would make one of these children incredibly happy. When my kids were young, it was the latest Lego set, so they could build a pirate ship or a Star Wars space craft. It could be tickets to Disneyland, or a beautiful doll house.

Now imagine that you buy that gift for this special child. You have it wrapped in shiny, silver paper with wide red ribbons and a bow. And now imagine that you take this gift home and hide it in the closet behind your clothes.

Now imagine that you never give this gift. It remains hidden behind your clothes in the closet…

Forever.

Oh come on, Arjuna, enough of the emotional manipulation, what’s your point?

My point is that, sad and twisted as this story may be, it bears a tragic resemblance to the way many of us have led our lives, not just in relationship to one child, but in relationship to everyone you know. I’m sure that at peak moments – when feeling deeply in love, or inspired, or at the beginning of some new endeavor, or after a vacation – the clouds part and you absolutely know your own deep potential and what you have to give. Suddenly it’s clear: the movie you could make, the novel you could write, or maybe it’s the way you could be raising your children, or the meals you could be cooking, or the garden you could be growing. In these moments of great insight, you realize how you could be treating people, how you could be treating your own body, the gifts you would be pouring into the world if not for…

That’s right. Just as everyone has a unique gift to give, for most of us it is also buried behind the clothes in the closet. And, tragically, for many people, the deeper gift never gets given. (more…)

Here is a practice from my book “Leap Before You Look.”

Whenever there is disagreement or disharmony in the family,
Or any time at all, just for the fun of it,
Switch to gibberish.
You will all continue to communicate
And connect fully with each other,
You will just stop making any sense.
Express everything that needs to be expressed inside you
Using nonsense words.
Keep going like this for a minimum of five minutes
Or for as long as fifteen minutes.
Have fun; be generous in your nonsense.
When you are done,
Keeping a straight face,
Try to remember what the problem was.

When we connect, there are always multiple dimensions occurring simultaneously in the interaction. All at once, our minds are trying to make sense of things, wanting to be right, pressing our own agenda, and defending against others. This is where we often get lost as a family, and are left feeling separate from our loved ones simply because we do not agree, often on an ultimately unimportant matter.

When you switch to gibberish, the logical dimension of connecting is transcended, but the energy still flows. Now the communication has no logical purpose; it is just a way of allowing energy to flow for its own sake. You will discover through this practice that this is, in fact, much more fun and nourishing communication, and even that you feel closer to people when the logical has been flushed away.

We have used this practice often in our family. We have a code word—when things get too serious or intense, someone just says: “Gibberish.” Then we keep the conversation going, with just as much gusto as before, but now instead of being logical we are simply phorshemphashing troobalddee mosrhfung.

It might be disorienting, like it was just now, if a logical sentence and train of thought suddenly ghoopangs mooshfartoo foorganoble. What happened? It breaks the continuity of the mind, and we find ourselves manbang nooshbarat forbantbit. But that is the point, to break the stranglehold of the mind.

Try it out. You may feel much goosberiestier and share a great deal more foongatsong together when you abandon being reasonable and dive wholeheartedly into morshfangtooble shangsorbetty.

You can discover 72 practices like this in Leap Before You Look. Buy it now at our online store.

My beloved wife of 8 years, Chameli, has left me for the sunny beaches of Corfu. I would feel a lot more upset about this if it would not for the fact that she’ll be back soon, and sends me the most delicious love notes every day. And anyway, I have gone back to my old lover. The first thing I do when I wake up each morning, is to turn to her and melt with her completely. Last thing I do before sleep is to give her my undivided attention for half an hour. She always opens herself to me, sooner or later, and her kisses are other-worldly. Her name in meditation, and I have flirted with her on and off for forty years now.

So this is actually a beautiful time to be alone for a while, to be a monk and to have time to reflect on the miracle of our life.

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the ways that we all relate with our intimate partner are carbon copies of, or rebellious reactions to, the way that our families behaved. For the most part, people who grow up in an atmosphere of conflict, or manipulation, or cruelty, seem to carry those habits forward. And those who are lucky enough to grow up in an honest, open, loving environment stand a batter chance at creating the same for themselves in their own lives.

For myself, I belong in category one. My parent divorced in a messy way when I was 4 years old (come to think of it, I wonder if there’s an un-messy way to get divorced?) and neither of them ever really created deeply loving or sustainable relationships in their lives. Sure enough, by the time that I got to be a teenager, I became painfully aware that the same patterns was recreating for me too. Exactly the same habits of judgement, control, and withdrawal were playing out in my own personal life, in the same way I’d seen them play out in my parents’ lives.

There came a pivotal point for me when I was forty four years old, after my marriage, and several other relationships following it, had crumbled apart. One night I sat on my deck under the stars, and had a stark realization.  If I died one day, never having fully loved, it would not actually be ok. No amount of meditation, or other kinds of practices could actually compensate for not fully loving. In that moment I saw that this was something I would have to put straight in order to feel I had really lived. About three weeks later, I met an extraordinary woman, she was loving, humorous and beautiful, but also a fierce spiritual practitioner. When I first met her, she had just come back from an extended retreat where she had come to exactly the same conclusion as I had. A mentor had told her, ”The love you are trying to get from the outside is actually who you already are.” I was so impressed by the depth and dedication of this young woman’s practice that we developed a deep friendship, comparing notes all the time by e mail on how to bridge the painful schism between the depths of meditation and the actually of intimate relationship.

Chameli and I have been married now for eight years, and what we have created is a miracle. If you had told me all those years back that I would have this kind of marriage, I would have laughed in your face. Some people might call it luck: you just have to meet the right person. Some might attribute it to the bruisings of aging and time. But I would chalk up the ecstatic triumph of this marriage to the consistent use of very specific practices which have allowed us not to change the quirks of our personalities (which are, by the way, irreparably broken), but to change the relationship we have to those habits.

I’d love to share more about this very intimate topic with you. It would be better to have a dialog about it.  Are you free to join me by phone or over the web this Thursday, June 17th at 6pm Pacific Time?  In this call, which will be about an hour, I will share with you the six most important “keys” to creating an ecstatic marriage out of the basic raw materials.  You can interact with me during the call, and dialog over the phone or through a web site.  If you can’t make it live, register anyway, and you can hear the recording on the same page. During the call I’ll also tell you about the Deeper Love retreat-at-home, which Chameli and I have been creating together these last months. I’ll also tell you about the Deeper Love seminar we’ll be doing in Europe this September.

REGISTER FOR THE CALL HERE

all my love, dear friends, Arjuna

and now, back to the meditation cushion…

Just as you might have given up hope of ever hearing from me again, just as you’re on the way to buy flowers for the funeral, we’re back. Did you miss me? As you might have noticed, I’ve been keeping an extremely low profile the last months. Hardly a blog post or a tweet or a chirp or a facebook post since February. But I’m back, and ready to play again. Here’s a little summary of what’s been going on.

Back in January, we started having a few problems in our office with being able to communicate effectively with our list of friends. Some people were not getting their emails on time. Things were bouncing back that shouldn’t: you know how it goes. So my office manager discovered a super-duper enhanced new alternative for delivering email to our friends.

“How long will it take to implement?” I asked.
“Oh, two to four days,” came the reply.
“Okay,” I said. “If it’s going to make things easier, let’s do it.”
Four months later…

The situation has been a bit like I needed to go down to the store to buy some butter for our family meal (sending news is the butter, and you are the family). So I’ve been driving down to get the butter in a slightly clunky car that doesn’t always start. I call the mechanic to ask what to do, expecting perhaps a little tune-up. A few days later I find a jet plane parked in my driveway. When I climb in the cockpit to go buy butter, I’m faced with an overwhelming array of knobs, panels, gauges, and LED displays.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” I ask. “It’s overwhelming.”

“Yes,” comes the enthusiastic reply. “But it will get you down to the grocery store in one thousandth the time of driving.”
It looks like we’ve finally figured out how to switch on the engine of the jet plane at least, and now we’re able to communicate again.

During this time, there’s been other stuff going on too. About 18 months ago, I met a charming fella named Vishen Lakhiani who read my book the Translucent Revolution and loved it. He suggested we make it into a multi-media home study course called “Living Awakening.” In the last months I’ve been putting the final tweaks on that course.

So many of us these days are having strong glimpses of awakening: of the dimension of ourselves which is limitless, spacious, free, which is love itself. The challenge is not in the access anymore, but in how we live it. Living Awakening is based on video interviews with some of the most successful people alive on the planet whose contribution to the world has been grounded in awakening of consciousness. You may be surprised to find out about the secret lives of some of the people you see regularly on Oprah.

Chameli and I have also been putting our Deeper Love intensive into a course that you can do at home as well. I’ll tell you a little more about that in my next post.

And the last thing that’s been inspiring to me is what’s been happening in our Awakening Coaching Training. For thousands of years, if you felt the longing to drop more deeply into yourself, to feel the divine, most of what was on the menu was hierarchical and patriarchal. That means if you had a longing for greater depth, you would go find a teacher, usually a man and often of oriental origins, and surrender completely to his beliefs and guidance. The more deeply you subjugated your will to that teacher, the more  your ego would die and “enlightenment” would theoretically bloom. Theoretically.  As you may be aware, these kind of scenarios often involve a crash landing.

Something completely different is happening on the planet today. Friends are able to help friends to wake up from the trance of separation. I’ve been training facilitators of awakening since 1995, and the results in the last months have become even more inspiring. I’d love for you to join me this Thursday at 6pm to hear about what’s been going on. A number of awakening coaches will be on the line with me to share their experiences as well. If you miss the live event, the call will be recorded and you can listen to the replay. If you’d like to join us, click here to register for free.