I’ve really been enjoying the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj lately. So much, in fact, that I’ve been saying (half-jokingly) that I’ve joined “Team Advaita”. The truth is, my meditation practice has brought about what are, for me, some pretty deep and profound insights. Because of this, the more non-dual style traditions have been resonating with me at a very deep level. Along with Ramana and Nisargadatta, I’ve been taking in the works of Zen Master Bankei, Zen Master Dogen, and contemporary Zen/Advaita influenced spiritual teacher Adyashanti.
For those who aren’t familiar with Ramana Maharshi’s teaching style, here’s an excerpt from the book Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi…
Q: Is mukti the same as realization?
A: Mukti or liberation is our nature. It is another name for us. Our wanting mukti is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade, voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat there, making great efforts to get back into the shade and then rejoicing, “How sweet is the shade! I have reached the shade at last!” We are all doing exactly the same. We are not different from the reality. We imagine we are different, that is we create the bheda bhava [the feeling of difference] and then undergo great sadhana [spiritual practices] to get rid of the bheda bhava and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create bheda bhava and then destroy it? (pg. 30)
That’s all for now. Practice well!
“A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.” ~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That.
This quote from Nisargadatta is right in-line with something my friend and teacher, Kenneth Folk, recently posted in a discussion thread at his dharma forum:
“Advanced practice is about learning not to manipulate after spending a lifetime becoming a master manipulator. We all have to unlearn manipulation in order to reach our potential, counter-intuitive as that may seem.”
Spiritual paths run in cycles that are in many ways as natural and predictable as the seasons. There are times for effort, focus, discipline, and some degree of control as we learn to establish new habits of mindfulness in our otherwise chaotic lives. But I think the majority of one’s spiritual path is best traveled by refraining from manipulation. This does not mean that we shouldn’t practice. But it does mean that we can sit and simply pay attention to whatever arises in our experience, trusting that whatever development that occurs is unfolding naturally. The simple practice of attentiveness is our way of participating in the process of awakening. Simply paying attention is what allows these “inner energies” (as Nisargadatta put it) to “wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.”
The next time you sit to practice meditation, start out with a simple resolution to not manipulate your experience. As Adyashanti teaches, simply “allow everything to be as it is.” You may be pleasantly surprised by how deep your practice may go when mindfulness is your only objective.