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.
A discussion on teachings of Arnaud Desjardins. The spiritual path is the search for what is indestructible in us, but we seek comfort from that which is destructible. “What is the cause of my suffering?” is the most important question we can ask. Reactions and thoughts are imposed on us by interdependent forces. Ever present peace is not dependent on external circumstance and is always in us. When there is emotion we do not see situations as they are. We cannot be in a condition of peace if we have a non-loving attitude toward anyone. It is possible to do a turn-around at such times, in the moment. The key to be transformed through everyday pursuits is to accept the favorable and the unfavorable. To attempt here and now communion with a person is the path to non-duality. It is essential to be patient and faithful to ourselves as we are. VJ is author of Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.
Fear is built into the organism, but by trying to eliminate fear we double it and cause more trouble for ourselves. Being with fear rather than trying to do something about it allows it to pass over us and not take root in us. The root of fear is incarnation. There is an assumption that is made that we are separate from what sustains us, which is the context of scarcity and survival that we are born into. All the fear we have about there not being enough is not based on an event or some bad thing that happened to us. Fear of not existing, of “I” or “me” not being there, is terrifying to ego. Fear keeps us from entering the waking state because ego will do anything to stay in control. If we are not afraid of fear, it is likely that fear will not keep us from the waking state when it arises. Matthew has facilitated spiritual groups that support people to look deeper into their process, formulate their own questions, and become responsible for their choices.
Grief strongly and powerfully undermines the illusory belief that life is permanent and solid. It purifies anything that stands in the way of reality. Grief takes us to the great mystery, to a place of not knowing, and it is possible to rest there. It can thaw any part of the heart that is frozen, allowing it to open and show its secrets. Sometimes the mind tells us that we understand something, but we really don’t get it. There is an apparent dichotomy between the pristine non-dual dharma and life in its rawness and messiness; they are actually inseparable. Love and grief are interconnected and what arises through a broken heart is love and compassion. The willingness to love, knowing that those that we love will be taken away, is a holy and sacred process. 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.
If our concept of order doesn’t match with nature’s higher concept of order, we may question nature rather than our concept. We seek power over chaos out of fear and denial to hide from the fact that mortality is real. In order for us to work with what we consider to be chaos, we have to cultivate a quality of restraint. The mind is meant to be part of a system under the control of our being, our "Real I." Coming back to our center in an age where we are constantly distracted by conflicting information involves work with attention. The satisfaction that we get out of life comes from being in the present. A lot of the stress that we feel comes from not being present in the moment, from concerns about the past or the future. By being in relationship to what is present and right in front of us, we become related to the whole universe. Bandhu is author of Creative Life and an internationally recognized glass artist and teacher.
Panel Discussion: Exploring the Depth of Spiritual Tradition (Barbara Du Bois, Carl Grimsman, and Vijaya Fedorschak)
Real spiritual traditions have power based on the influence of rare teachers who have undergone transformation and then taught what they realized about the nature of reality and who we are beyond identification. While traditions have different forms and practices, there are essential elements that they have in common. Traditions can provide an influence that can support us to deepen our highest spiritual intention, which we might not cleave to on our own. Barbara is a longtime practitioner and teacher of Buddhadharma. She is author of Light Years: A Spiritual Memoir and Brave, Generous, & Undefended: Heart Teachings on the 37 Bodhisattva Practices. Carl’s connection with the Gurdjieff tradition began at an early age in the New York children’s group and later continued at an upstate NY commune with Mrs. March, a student of Gurdjieff. He has written Sun Bridge and The Kindling. Vijaya Fedorschak has been involved in the Western Baul tradition through his teacher, Lee Lozowick, and the lineage of Yogi Ramsuratkumar and Swami Ramdas. He is author of Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.
What’s Love, and What’s Love Got to Do with It? The Eternal Questions and Easy Misunderstandings (Regina Sara Ryan)
Love is a present phenomenon only; it is only alive in the present. The deep imprints of those we have loved are accessible to us in the present. We can touch the timeless, expansive experience of love beyond the limitations of the physical body. There are different kinds of love such as the love of a mother, friend, brother or sister, agape love, erotic love. This plane of existence is a school of love, which is the essence of the Path, the core of existence, the defining element of creation. Love is always available, not scarce, but the doorway to it does not open easily. Stillness, awe, and grief are keys which can open the door to love. Love is the essence of who we are even if we don’t live it. At some level we all have a broken heart that only the Divine can heal. Regina Sara Ryan 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.
We all have an innate need to cultivate the sacred within ourselves. Contemplation creates the possibility of opening to the effortless flow of life and to our imagination and creativity. Self-knowledge is an ongoing process that we can nurture at each stage of our lives. We can build our capacity to be a vessel for awareness and an intention for transformation for the benefit of ourselves and others. Obstacles to contemplation and the distinction between rumination and contemplation are discussed in this talk—along with the value of staying present during times of pain, despair, or depression. 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.