Enlightenment does not exist as a thing that can be achieved or acquired. We can see its effect, which cannot be grasped. There is a Buddhist perspective that there is no enlightened person, only enlightened activity. Knowing the truth of reality is irrelevant if our behavior does not serve reality. Impermanence can be known as an advantage, as a blessing and not a threat. The person is continually in process, fluid, connected, and not the collection of memories that we call ourselves. There is a chance to live as freedom for something rather than to see the process as a battle. We fear a relationship with enlightenment, but change is nature’s delight. We are happiest when we have the least concern for ourselves. The quality of what we give back to the world is something we can consider. Transformation happens in action which can be simple and unspectacular. In enlightened activity, a person does not leave a karmic trace—the activity does. Jocelyn is a mother, artist, logotherapist and spiritual practitioner who has been involved in homeschooling, teaching and reclaiming burnt out land to become farms and homes. She is interested in growth and in the possibilities of the human being and the Earth.
One way of allowing a topic to go deep is not putting it in a box of what we assume we already know. Through self-observation, we can see that we are not free but that we react constantly to circumstances in the environment. We can't get beyond this state of sleep because of the place we live life from: the context of scarcity and survival (which involves self-image, our identity, who we take ourselves to be). Scarcity is the deeply held belief that there is never enough. Everybody's story of sleep/unconsciousness is the same in principle, which is suffering. Anything we try to do to alleviate suffering perpetuates it. To be asleep is to assume the body-mind is who we are, and that is the context of survival. We can do something about this, but by seeing and not by trying to fix it. Matthew facilitates groups that support people to look deeper into their process, formulate their own questions, and become responsible for their choices.
A defended life is defined by survival, overreactivity, the drive to territorialize and control, to dominate and always be right, which has a cost in that we live in a narrow and confined range of experience and perception. When we relax our defenses, a sense of awe and reverence for life can arise. We are often defended not only from the outer world but also from the inner world of our own feeling. When we are undefended, there is fluidity, flexibility, creativity, and a greater intimacy with reality which allows room for life to touch us. We also need intelligence and discrimination about vulnerability. Impermanence informs a warrior’s life and action. To be a warrior requires courage to live a fully embodied life, to feel fully with an open heart. A warrior cultivates the ability to let go. Nachama is a physical therapist, editor, and musician who for seventeen years was a member of the Shri blues band which performed Western Baul music.
A deeper yoga implies a surface to the experience of life, which can be beautiful, and a depth, a deeper reality. Regular immersion into practices and behaviors that move us into the depth of who we are is like jumping into the ocean. When we come out we bring some of the ocean with us into ordinary life so that the depth informs the surface. The stages of “clean up, grow up, wake up, show up,” discussed by Ken Wilber and Richard Rohr, are not linear. Even in the midst of cleaning up our lives, in brokenness, we can be of great service. There are two basic streams of consciousness: the outflow of attention and the inward current which is always attracted to the depth. The mood of love is the nature of the ocean of depth. Being around a real teacher can be like being around the ocean. Christina is a long-time yoga practitioner, teacher, and teacher trainer. Her books include Yoga from the Inside Out, My Body is a Temple, and A Deeper Yoga.
Many in the spiritual traditions have weighed in on the subject of faith. We are already deeply immersed in the world of belief and faith based on cultural assumptions that we take for granted. What distinctions can be made between faith and belief? We can consider faith in terms of people who are faithful, having faith in something, or as a state of being. Do we have faith in practice, teachers, God, the process, ourselves? Confusion can be seen as a gift. While it is difficult to stay in the field of ambiguity and doubt, this can be precious on the path. Unanswered questions can be a lot more valuable than answers. Once we test something and get a result, then we know it. The results of doing this may end up to something like faith. When an experience is gone, what do we have? Karl has been a spiritual practitioner for forty years. He lived in India for seven years and has a passion for considering the essential similarities of spiritual traditions.
Because we are inseparable from truth we are always in resonance with it, and thus at some level we have certainty that truth exists. This is the basis for seeking, for path, for realization. We already are that which we aspire to become, so our practices on the spiritual path are to sweep away the grasping for “self” that keeps us from recognizing the true nature. Bodhicitta, the altruistic intention to liberate all beings, gradually takes us over, opening the door from dualistic consciousness to awareness of continuity, lifetime after lifetime, and to ultimate continuity: union of absolute and relative. Barbara is a longtime practitioner and teacher of Buddhadharma. Her root lamas are His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. She is author of Light Years: A Spiritual Memoir and Brave, Generous, & Undefended: Heart Teachings on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices.
If we have a creative idea and let the steam out of it, perhaps by talking about it prematurely or by not respecting the sacredness of creative energy, it can dissipate. As in life, artists start down a path, get themselves in trouble, and need to creatively find their way. Our initial creative inspiration can seem perfect, but then there is resistance in manifesting the vision. We can make many excuses for not being creative. It’s safe to observe things from a distance, but it's another matter to be on the field of life manifesting creativity. The work makes itself when we are “in the zone.” One of the jobs of art is to inspire people to be creative in their lives. We respond to works where people are expressing something of their deeper nature. There is value in tradition which can be brought into the present in the midst of creative change. Bandhu is author of Creative Life and an internationally recognized glass artist and teacher.
One of the formulas for practice on the spiritual path, which came from the Hindu Bengali master, Swami Prajnanpad, and which was part of the teaching of the French master, Arnaud Desjardins, is “not what should be but what is.” A distinction can be made between emotion (which is a reaction) and feeling (which arises when ego is not in control). Suffering occurs through identification with emotions and the thoughts associated with them. Internal or external complaining is a way of holding on to the idea that “this should not be” or that “this should be,” which expends a huge amount of life energy. There is the illusion of living in my world rather than in the world. One of the ways of building being is awareness and relationship to the way things are. Regina is the editor of Hohm Press, a workshop leader, retreat guide, and author of The Woman Awake, Igniting the Inner Life, Praying Dangerously, Only God and other books.
Life is inherently a spiritual path, whether we know it or not. We can consider the degree we are participating, present, and committed to the Great Process of Divine Evolution that all of life is involved in. This has everything to do with resilience, which we are given at birth and begin to understand through instinct. Yet, resilience and inner strength needs to be cultivated. We don’t know that we have it until we are challenged. We will need to re-create ourselves; life goes on and so do we. Re-creation is magical and mysterious—it happens on a primordial level. We want to persevere in resilience as we let go of the past so we can fulfill our sense of purpose. Obstacles to resilience and ways of cultivating it are considered in this talk. Angelon is a workshop leader, editor, and author of As It Is, Under the Punnai Tree, The Baul Tradition, Caught in the Beloved’s Petticoats, Enlightened Duality (with Lee Lozowick), and Krishna’s Heretic Lovers.
In 1970, at 19 years of age, Caylor went searching for spiritual help in India. What he found was a beggar (Yogi Ramsuratkumar, 1918-2001) who showered blessings and divine love on all who came upon him and who came to be recognized as one of the great masters of the last century. In this talk, Caylor describes some of the bewildering circumstances that he witnessed and teaching lessons that he received on a spiritual journey in the company of Yogi Ramsuratkumar in and around the town of Tiruvannamalai in south India. Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s timeless joy, liberation, and continuous work for all the creation elicited a response of devotion from so many whose hearts were opened through contact with him. Caylor is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, an acupuncturist, and author of Yogi Ramsuratkumar: The Godchild, Tiruvannamalai and the booklet, The Yogi Ramsuratkumar Garland of Praises.