Our Common Ancestor
Recently I saw an interview on television with Jane Goodall who in 1960 began studying chimpanzees in East Africa. Her mentor, the archaeologist and anthropologist Louis Leakey, was interested in whether chimpanzees and humans exhibit similar kinds of behaviour. If they do, this would support archaeological evidence indicating we share a common ancestor. During the interview Goodall spoke about an occasion when she was walking through the bush with one of the chimpanzees she was studying and getting to know. After a while they stopped and she offered the chimpanzee a piece of fruit. Looking her in the eyes he took the fruit, dropped it, then squeezed her hand - then got up and carried on down the path. Goodall was so astonished she just sat there for a while, taking in what had happened. It seemed obvious that although he had refused the food, he wanted her to know he was grateful. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings. It was just how a human being might have responded.
She then described another scene. Some evenings the chimpanzees would gather by a waterfall. They didn’t go there for any practical reason – they weren’t going there to drink or eat or sleep. It seemed they were simply going to look. As they looked they swayed from foot to foot, as if they were dancing. Jane imagined that for them the water cascading down was a mysterious, awe-inspiring thing for “it was always flowing in, always flowing out, and always there”. In the face of this magical vision, what did they do?
Her picture of the waterfall is a perfect description of the present moment – things are always flowing in to this timeless awareness, always flowing out of it, and always present in it. Though what is in the emptiness is always changing, yet there’s always something in it. How amazing.
What is your (human!) response to the miracle of this moment, the miracle of sounds, colours, sensations and all the rest, flowing into and out of this timeless emptiness?
I love to dance!
For information about Jane Goodall: http://www.janegoodall.orghttp://www.wic.org/bio/jgoodall.htm
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I am not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one.
- John Lennon
The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the Truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect like vast space, where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept and reject that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things, and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity, your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other, you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss their source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearances and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our
Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain in the dualistic state; avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong the mind essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attracted even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.
When no distinguishing thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject [mind].
the mind [subject] is such because of things [object].
Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable, and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between course and fine, you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go, and clinging [attachment] cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way, and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things [your own nature], and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden, for everything becomes murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way, do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with full enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals, but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many; distinctions arise from the clinging need of the ignorant.
To seek mind with the [discriminating] mind is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and no disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air: foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong: such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.
If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally, the timeless Self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion, both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist, Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality no laws or description applies.
For the unified mind in accordance with the Way all self centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish, and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us, and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear and self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thoughts, feelings, knowledge and imagination are of no value. In this world of Suchness there is neither self nor other-than-self.
Scientists tell us that when time began, fourteen billion years ago, something came from nothing. When you awaken to the ground of all Being, in a deep meditative state, you realize that when something came from nothing, the nothing didn't disappear. That unmanifest, unborn dimension is the ever-present ground out of which everything is still arising in every moment. It is what the Buddha called "the deathless," and what others call "eternity consciousness." When you awaken to this dimension in your own awareness, you will find yourself always already resting in the eternal moment before time began. This is the recognition that liberates: Prior to everything, I already am. The experience of this recognition is not one of becoming liberated. It is of being already liberated. What you realize when you awaken to that ground is that there is a part of each and every one of us that is already free—from everything. That part of yourself, which is the ground of Being, has never been bound, trapped, or limited in any way. That's the part of yourself that I want you to discover. It's not the part of yourself that needs to become free. It is already free, right now.
- Andrew Cohen
Must I say in words what I would sooner cherish in the secret sacred stillness of my heart - what Gurudev means to me? And if I must, how shall I do it? How does anyone ever express the transcendental? What can I express with words, words that are all fury and no achievement, words that are mere pygmies from the petty kingdom of Sound, gnawing ineffectually at the towering mountain of Silence? I think there are words in some deep recess within me that are yet unknown to language, even unknown to sound.... I feel their embryonic flutter as I struggle for expression…
I sit upon the bank and watch the river flow by, carrying in its flood an endless variety of shapes and forms. Some struggle and cry in fear “Let me live, let me live” but they go under, a faint ripple marking momentarily the end of their pilgrimage on earth. Before long, even that passes away, and the smooth waters glide unconcerned with deceptive serenity. Some go laughing by, happy and playful, till they and their laughter recede beyond the horizon, and the sudden silence leaves in ominous doubt whether they and their laughter have already ceased, or have yet a little way to go. Some float by too lost in stupor to know their fate, much less to care, and they sink here or yonder, it matters not. Once in a rare while, mercifully not oftener, there passes the gnarled countenance of one who grabs a weak victim and suffocates him as though he decides who alone will survive, but a moment later that one too vainly seeks desperate protection as the derisive waters part and unite, and a glossy innocence hides another secret.
I watch this dismal awesome unending procession, and suddenly wonder why I am not a part of it. I realize then that my body is wet and the water is dripping from my hair. I must have been drifting all too recently in the river myself. How was I saved?
I turn around and look up. I look into the face of Benevolence. Therein is a tenderness like the soft light of a candle. Therein is a radiance like that of the eastern sky at dawn. Therein is a fragrance like that of a dew-kissed rose.
I cling to His feet, and He smiles. He smiles for the dead and the living. He smiles for the saved and the lost. He smiles for the river and the bank. Nothing is said. Nothing remains unsaid.
Gurudev, I know not what you are. I know but a thousandth part of Thy Grace. Tears in the eyes must speak for me, not words upon the lips.
From Paada Pooja by V. Dwaraknath Reddy
You haven't dared yet lose faith ~ so how can faith grow in you?
You haven't dared yet risk your heart ~ to what can you see of reality?
You're obsessed ~ still! ~ with the carnal screams of your life.
How do you hope to step into the Mystery of the King?
You are a sea of gnosis hidden in a drop of dew,
You are a whole universe hidden in a sack of blood.
What are all this world's pleasures and joys
That you keep grasping at them to make you alive?
Does the sun borrow light from a mote of dust?
Does Venus look for wine from a cracked jug?- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
(Translated by Andrew Harvey from A Year of Rumi)
Namaskar means Salutation,
It means Greetings,
It means Good Morning,
It means Good Afternoon,
It means Good Evening,
It means Good Night,
It means Welcome,
It means We, not I,
It means I bow down before you,
It means you are my teacher,
It means I have learned a lot from you,
It means you are wonderful,
It means I enjoyed your company,
It means participation,
It means learning,
It means CCA, Complete Change in Attitude,
It means Everything that is and positive,
It means May I help you,
It means We shall do wonderful things together,
It means We shall do things differently,
It means We shall be friends,
It means It is a beautiful world,
It means we shall meet again,
It means we shall be friends forever,
It means Thank You.
A Welcome sign in a hotel in India
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God’s fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point
If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
The soul sometimes leaves the body, the returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.
When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?
How did Jacob’s sight return?
A little wind cleans the eyes.
When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us
From ‘The Essential Rumi’
by Coleman Barks with John Moyne
At this time in our present history we have the ability to be conscious of the stories we have been taught and how they define us, as well as the stories we unquestionably have believed about who another is. We can be willing to be naked to ourselves, and we can take responsibility for the result. We can marvel when we discover that the stories of previously demonized others (enemies) are as beautiful and multilayered as our own. We mature when we realize that some of the stories cherished as the foundation of our culture are flimsy and insubstantial in truth and are sometimes outrightly false. One generation’s true and defining story can be proved to be a lie in the next generation. Stories that celebrate freedom and revolution against tyranny can turn on themselves and become stories of reigns of terror.
We recognize the location of the story in our flesh and emotions. From this recognition choice is born. We have most often either chosen to continue the given story or to rebel against that story. Naturally we have been thrilled to realize that we can choose to live a different story, one we feel more in alignment with. There is yet another choice. We have the capacity to take a moment and release all stories. We can experience what it means to be nobody, uncovered even by our primary identity.
Underneath all the stories, we can experience that deep core of ourselves that is historyless, genderless, and parentless. Naked. That presence is unencumbered by relationships and has no past and no future. In the core of our beingness we are free of definitions. Unencumbered by our definitions we experience ourselves as conscious intelligence aware of itself as open, endless space. This instant of being storyless is an instant of freedom. For even if our story is filled with light and beauty, to the degree that we define ourselves through that story, we are less free.
After such a moment, stories are never the same. They can be present, as they most likely will be, but they no longer have the inherent power to define our reality. The inner wealth that is available to us is no longer limited or augmented by particular inner or outer events. While the personality or the “creatureness” of each individual continues just as stories continue, the underlying awareness, the true “I” has come home to itself.
After such a moment, choice is present where before we were blindly choiceless. When we are not blinded by the stories that have been created for us, or the stories we create, we can appreciate the mysterious vastness that is holographically present in each moment of any story. We can discover what is and has always been here, throughout whatever rendition of story was being lived or believed. Each of us can take any story from our past, and we can discover the treasure that was hidden only through unquestioning belief in narrowly focused assumptions of the time. Stories can then be profoundly appreciated as displays of multidimensional life expressing itself in all forms.
What is the frame or context of your life? You don’t know how your story will end, but at this point you can discover what your story is about. You can ask yourself how your inner sense of self is expressed, or has gone unexpressed, in the structure and message of your life story.
How does a particular success or failure fit into the whole of your life story? We tend to focus on and magnify particular events, but if we see them as part of a continuum, we can see the trajectory of the arc of our life story. Seeing in this way does not mean attempting to take control of the story. Instead, this is an invitation to tell the truth about what your story has been teaching so far. It is an invitation to recognize how your story fits into the larger context of what is important now to you as a human being. It is an invitation to discover how awareness and inquiry naturally broaden, deepen, and expand your own story so that it demonstrates precisely what needs to be learned. Since stories both archetypical and banal ultimately teach us something, investigate what your story teaches. Regardless of where you are in your story—still at the beginning, the hopefully long middle, or near the end—what bigger story does your life story contribute to?
Just becoming more aware of the stories we live, along with their infinite plotlines and subplots, begins to wake us up. In lucid dreaming, we become aware of ourselves as both in the dream story and outside it. In lucid living, as in lucid dreaming, we are no longer tyrannized by the stories circulating around and inside us. The demon in the nightmare can be faced directly; the flying dream can be enjoyed in its ecstatic moment. As we face ourselves in our stories, we have space for perspective. We can stand back and see our personal story as part of a bigger whole.
What is your story? You discover your story by noticing what you are telling yourself over and over. Notice what you tell yourself about your past, your present, and your future. In order to have any lasting impact, our stories have to be told and retold. All stories have a narrative. Your narrative is what you tell yourself through thoughts and images with accompanying emotions. What is your narrative? You can check right now. It is bound to be familiar. It is natural as human animals with developed cognitive abilities to generate and follow the narrative of our stories. It certainly is not wrong to do so. But it is limiting. It limits attention to events that are forever changing. To discover how your attention is being spent, discover what you habitually say to yourself. Listen to your narrative while suspending belief in it.
There is great and mysterious power in knowing the potential gift of your life as a teaching story. This book is not written to teach you skills to create your version of reality. You are already doing that with your internal narrative. It is an invitation to be quiet and unidentified in the events that are appearing in and around your consciousness. In this quiet, there is a revelation impossible to discern if your attention is caught by the noise of identification. The revelation does not bestow greater power to create a better story. It is bigger than that. Revelatory power can take the events of your life as they are and show them as essential to your own awakening as well as your contribution to the awakening of all humanity.
It is a power that shifts the story line from one limited to “about me” to one about all. With that shift there is both a profound surrender and a closer attention to how all is unfolding. There is paradoxically a disidentification from any character and a truer welcoming of all aspects of each character.
In profound, redemptive stories there is a moment of surrender to a deep command of being. This is not esoteric. It is concretely grounded in all who live fulfilled lives, however their fulfillment may be described. Whether it be religious, artistic, scientific, or ordinarily personal, there is recognition of something unarticulated by intellect. Surrender to this is surrender to the consciousness of being rather than to the conditioned structure of thought. With this deep and true surrender, stories shift in their perspective. With this shift you are no longer veiled from yourself. You are no longer bound by whatever inner or outer definitions may appear in your life story. All definitions and stories arise from the silent core, and in surrender all are then pointers to where they come from and where they return at their end. In surrender all is transparent from the luminosity of your naked self.Pre-Order Hidden Treasure
Yoga and meditation are increasingly becoming tools of the Veterans Administration, which is adopting body/mind approaches for soldiers struggling with the heavy toll of serving in battle. One Iraqi War veteran relates that the music of renowned mantra singers Deva Premal & Miten, along with other stress-reducing tools, helped him rebuild from the traumas of war: “I am an Iraqi Freedom Veteran. It was really rough for me to come back and try to create a so-called normal life for myself. Now I practice meditation every day. I am doing so much better today as a result of Deva and Miten’s CDs. Their music has been a miracle in my life. It is soothing, calming, healing, beautiful – a miracle.”
The Integrative Rest Institute (IRI), founded in 2006, teaches meditation and yoga through the Veterans Administration to aid veterans with post-battle stress. The institute’s protocols (called iRest for short) were developed through studies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the efficacy of yoga meditation for soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The iRest programs are now operating at VA facilities in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and DC.
Yoga and chant are proving beneficial for those on the domestic front lines too. Hal Martin, a retired fire fighter from Miami/Dade County, shares how meditation and the music of Deva Premal & Miten changed his life. “When I look back on my life as a fire fighter, the practice of meditation had a major impact.” Hal, who reached the rank of Captain, shares, “the more successful officers I have come across are the ones that are calm, cool and collected. Meditation has brought me to that space. On calls, in the back of my mind I’m humming mantras.”
In 2006, while visiting his sister, Hal came across the music of Deva Premal & Miten and was “blown away.” The impact of Deva and Miten’s work resonates deeply with Hal, “At the last Miami concert, everyone was chanting in unison like a well-tuned chorus and it created such a sense of unity – 750 people coming together in Miami – it just brought me to tears.”
While Deva Premal & Miten have received accolades from such luminaries as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Cher, Anthony Robbins, and Eckhart Tolle, the real impact of their music is reflected in the powerful testimonials from people of all walks of life, who are seeking a musical respite from their daily stresses, as well as those looking to learn about meditation.
Deva Premal & Miten, began their journey in love and music twenty-one years ago when they met at an ashram in India in 1990. Their music and love has evolved into worldwide recording sales of over one million units and they consistently fill concerts halls around the globe. Their Fall 2011 US tour will visit 24 cities, from Seattle to Miami.
As Miten expresses it, “Mantras are a password into a vaster world, keeping the mind always growing.” This sense of growth is borne out by their new album, Password (White Swan Records), which represents a new direction for the chant masters. A group of talented jazz musicians from Copenhagen give Password a lyrical, spacious atmosphere, and the whole album bears its own internal rhythmic propulsion. While the arrangements may have a more “pop” feel to them, one thing that hasn’t changed is Deva’s signature rich vocals and the devotion underlying them. The new album stretches gently away from the classical chant format and provides a more accessible path to the “inner” technology of compassion, awareness and love.
Appearing with Deva & Miten both in concert and on recordings is Nepalese bansuri flute maestro, Manose. Born in Kathmandu, Manose has brought the sound of the bansuri to many musical genres and merges the purity of classical Indian music with his remarkable improvisational skills.
For more information: www.DevaPremalMiten.com Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.org