Tag Archives: yoga

“be love now” by ram dass – annoying or enlightening?

be love now is ram dass’s newest book.  it will be misunderstood by many.  in fact, it – or at least ram dass himself – already has been misunderstood.  “ram dass is a superb writer,” the san francisco chronicle says.  calling ram dass a superb writer is like praising the world’s most lovingly raised organic carrots for their orangeness.  for sure, it’s one characteristic but it’s not the one that’s most important or even relevant.

a characteristic of this book that stands out is how much ram dass talks about his guru, maharaj-ji.  the title of the book is “be love now – the path of the heart.”  so why does ram dass go on and on (and ON!) about his guru?  he mentions i don’t know how many times how his guru was able to read his mind or when he did or didn’t manage to see maharaj-ji in person.  and all those references to indian deities – ram, arjun, and for goodness sake, hanuman the monkey devotee.  this is all very faraway and weird-like stuff.  who in the west really wants to have a guru?  of course there are all these people who are called gurus, or like to call themselves gurus.  “the blogging guru” or “the guru of golf”, etc.  this doesn’t really make the idea of a guru more appealing.

and then …

… then there is all the love that shines through this book, the deep, caring, overarching, limitless love that emanates from ram dass.  if we let this work on us, then everything suddenly has a different meaning.  the going on and on stops being annoying and begins to take on the ever-deepening quality of repeating a mantra or saying the rosary.

like the st. john of the cross that i mentioned last week, ram dass is a mystic, a person who “dwells in the love of god.”  (please, let’s take “god” in the widest sense here.)  this dwelling might be one that we have consciously experienced here and there as a short vacation destination, but most of us do not call it our home (and let’s add a comforting “yet”.)  that means that many of the perspectives are unknown or at least unfamiliar – often uncomfortable – for us.  as a point in fact, i had help writing this article by having someone read the passage below to me for easier typing.  there was much sighing and eye-rolling and sarcastic intonation.

from this strange abode of dwelling in the love of god, ram dass says

i am loving awareness

i have a practice in which i say to myself, “i am loving awareness.”  to begin, i focus my attention in the muddle of my chest, on the heart-mind.  i may take a few deep breaths into my diaphragm to help me identify with it.  i breathe in love and breathe out love.  i watch of all the thoughts the create the stuff of my mind, and i love everything, everything i can be aware of.  i just love, just love, just love.

i love you.  no matter how rotten you are, i love you because you are part of the manifestation of god.  in that heart-mind i’m not richard alpert, i’m not ram dass – those are both roles.  i look at those roles from the deeper “i”.  in the heart-mind i’m not identified with my roles.  they’re like costumes or uniforms (^^^) hanging in my closet.  “i am a reader,” “i am a father,” “i am a yogi,” i am a man,” “i am a driver” – those are all roles.

all i am is loving awareness.  I AM LOVING AWARENESS.  it means that wherever i look, anything that touches my awareness will be loved by me.  that loving awareness is the most fundamental “i”.  loving awareness witnesses the incarnation from a place of consciousness different from the plane that we live on as egos, though it completely contains and interpenetrates everyday experiences.

when i wake up in the morning, i’m aware of the air, the fan on my ceiling, i’ve got to love them,  I AM LOVING AWARENESS.  but if i’m an ego, i’m judging everything as it relates to my own survival.  the air might give me a cold that might turn into pneumonia.  i’m always afraid of something in the world that i have to defend myself against.  if i’m identified with my ego, the ego is frightened silly because the ego knows that it is going to end at death.  but if i merge with love, there is nothing to be afraid of.  love neutralizes fear.

awareness and love, loving awareness, is the soul.  this practice of “i am loving awareness” turns you inward toward the soul.  if you dive deep enough into your soul, you will come to god.  in greek, it’s called agape, god love.  martin luther king jr said about agape, this higher love: “it’s an overflowing love which is pure, spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative.  the love of god operating in a human condition.”

it’s the love maharaj-ji spreads around, the unconditional love.  he loves you just because, just because.  spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless. he’s not going to love you because you are an achiever or a devotee, or a yogi, or because you’re on the path.  he loves you just because.  can you accept it?  can you accept unconditional love?

when you can accept that kind of love, you can give that love.  you can give love to all you perceive, all the time.  i am loving awareness. you can be aware of your eyes seeing, your ears hearing, your skin feeling, and your mind producing thoughts, thought after thought after thought.  thoughts are terribly seductive, but you don’t have to identify with them.  you identify not with the thoughts, but with the awareness of the thoughts.  to bring loving awareness to everything you turn your awareness to is love.  this moment is love.  i am loving awareness.

if you put out love, then you immerse yourself in a sea of love.  you don’t put out love in order to get back love.  it’s not a transaction.  you just become a beacon of love for those around you.  that’s what maharaj-ji is.  then from the moment you wake to the moment you go to sleep, and maybe in dreams, too, you’re in a loving environment.

try using i’m loving awareness to become aware of your thought forms and to practice not identifying with them.  then you can identify with your soul, not your fears or anxieties.  once you identify with your spiritual being, you can’t help but be love.

it’s simple.  i start with the fact that i am aware, and then i love everything.  but that’s all in the mind, that’s a thought, and loving awareness is not a thought.  or if it is a thought, it’s pointing to a place that’s not a thought.  it’s pointing at a state of being, the way the concept of emptiness is pointing at emptiness, which is really fullness.

souls love.  that’s what souls do.  egos don’t, but souls do.  become a soul, look around, you’ll be amazed – all the beings around you are souls.  be one, see one.

when many people have this heart connection, then we will know that we are all one, we human beings all over the planet.  we will be one.  one love.

and don’t leave out the animals, and trees, and clouds, and galaxies – it’s all one.  it’s one energy.  it comes through in individual ways, but it’s one energy.  you can call it energy, or you can call it love.  i like to look at a tree and see that it’s love, don’t you?

a buddhist carnival – first 2009 edition!

camelswelcome to the buddhist blog carnival! sometimes, rather than a carnival, i would like to call it a caravan. i’ve always liked camels, what can i say …

poem: man is not our enemy
we always start off with a poem. here is one by thich nhat hanh, presented by change the dream

promise me,
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
promise me:

even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
remember brother, remember:
man is not our enemy.

the only thing worthy of you is compassion –
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.

you can read the rest of this poem here.

emptiness, buddhism and monotheism
ben offers nothing in its essence. i hadn’t met ben before but really enjoyed his careful insights and obvious knowledge of theology. this post draws interesting connections between how buddhism, christianity and the jewish tradition deal with the idea of “nothing” or emptiness.

buddhism is one means of liberation from what william blake called “the mind-forg’d manacles.” within the monotheist tradition one can find echoes of the same refrain, for what else is idolatry but the worship of that which behind appearances is not real?

lazy!
zen habits has a great post, the lazy manifesto: do less.  then, do even less. the post itself is quite inspiring (love the saying, “lazy people never started a war”), and some of the comments are interesting, too. for example, here is one by tara:

in the introduction of the tibetan book of living and dying by sogyal rinpoche, the author (i think) discusses laziness. he describes what he calls the laziness in the east, where people lounge around and smoke hookahs all day (i’m paraphrasing). but in the west, he says that people are lazy by being busy – filling their days with unnecessary movement and busywork. i always thought that was an interesting take on laziness.

boring?
genkaku was the first buddhist online writer i ever followed, even before i started blogging.  what do you think of his take on the proliferation of buddhist sites?

last night, when there was little work to be done … i went snooping the internet for topics on buddhism. there were a lot of sites and i skimmed them as i might pop another potato chip in my mouth while watching a football game — without much attention.there were diatribes against e-sangha and there were descriptions of NKT and there were general outlines of one kind of buddhist approach and another. what caught my attention was how little interest i had in any of it. it was like chewing a piece of gum … the jaws kept moving, but the flavor had disappeared …

too many buddhas. maybe that is more frightening than too few. but it does remind me of a calligraphy a monk friend once gave me: it said, “not one buddha.” and it also reminds me of an ill-remembered ikkyu — cranky as i imagined him — complaining about those who badgered and informed others about “buddha” … “stop being a goddamned pest!” he said more or less.

yoga mind, beginners mind

day after day, month after month, year after year, practice can grow stale and arrogant if i don’t re-invigorate mind and body in what zen master, suzuki roshi refers to as beginner’s mind. in yoga asana practice i need to remind myself to approach the physical aspect of any pose with “beginner’s body.”

this is an excerpt from the laughing yogini’s beginner’s mind and body: one-legged yoga.

“yes we can!” – who can?
praveen points to an article in the latest edition of oneness – the quarterly newsletter of the bright dawn institute for american buddhism.

this article by the rev. koyo kubose, called “yes we can!” started out by commenting on the excitement around the recent historical u.s. presidential election, and how it has rekindled hope and optimism about america.

but then, the article took a very interesting turn, and offered the reader a very profound exercise:

imagine that you are a “nation” and have just been elected “president”. can you translate all your new wishes and hopes into hard work and action? can you stop dwelling on and making excuses for past failures? can you overcome apathy? can you avoid “wars” with others?

buddhism, desire and the law of attraction
abraham-hicks, the guru of the law of attraction, discusses desire at you are truly loved. i think it’s useful  for this type of conversation and cross-reference to take place, especially since buddhism and the law of attraction seem to be very much at cross purposes when it comes to the topic of desire. let’s hear what they have to say.

in buddhism it is taught that the source of all suffering lies in both desire and ignorance. the ignorance stems from not knowing who we are and not perceiving the world as it actually is. by desire, buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. as a result, desiring them can only bring suffering and so desire is, in a sense, considered a ‘bad’ thing.

as fellow spiritual blogger tom stine points out, it’s not truly the desire that’s the issue, but rather the attachment to and identification with desire by the separate self. this attachment is sometimes called ‘clinging.’ it is the clinging that is what needs to be let go of, not the literal dropping of desires altogether to become some sort of celibate monk. desires that arise are like anything else that arises within the field of awareness. they’re inherently neutral. just an object of awareness.

good people, bad people
you gotta go to wise curve’s post and look at the image! please! especially if you like to see george bush happy 🙂

and even though wise curve doesn’t talk about buddhism, there are some good ideas here. labelling people “good” or “bad” isn’t very useful.

in our life, there’s a small percentage of “good” people who always support us and a certain percentage of “bad” people who always trouble us. the rest are majority who are relatively “neutral”. this should be our rational expectation toward people around us. it’s too optimistic to expect everyone to be “perfect” and if we really have this expectation, we will live miserably because we will meet “bad” people who break our perfect expectation from time to time. this is the same as meeting “bad” people in life. there will be “good” people coming in to your life so we don’t need to focus too much on the “bad” apples and neglect the positive aspect of social life.

in reality, there’s no such thing as good or bad people. people only make “good” or “bad” decision or action in a specific time. someone may do good deeds 10 minutes ago and commit crime on the next day.

finally, two more submissions: from richard about consciousness and awareness and from jon, containing a poem called nirvana.

that’s it the january buddhist carnival. if you have any submissions for next month’s carnival (february 15, 2009), please send them to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

image by wildxplorer

2 years of carnival of eating disorders!

welcome to two years of the carnival of eating disorders!

yes, it’s been two years as of today. here’s how it all started:

if you’re not familiar with blog carnivals, you may think this is an odd name – this link here will tell you more about blog carnivals. this carnival contains articles about bulimia, anorexia, orthorexia, body image and overeating gathered from other blogs.

i’d like to tell you right off that this carnival is not about dieting – for a very simple reason. dieting is usually the last thing needed by people who struggle with food. the majority of them already know pretty much all they need to know, and more.

difficulties around food often start quite early in a person’s life. for the first few years, these difficulties are often not taken very seriously. this is frequently followed by a period of immersing oneself in a variety of efforts to lose weight, which tends to be accompanied with reading up on (and following) information about dieting and nutrition.

for some people, that does the trick, and serious problems with food never become chronic. for others, though, this is the beginning of a downward spiral, centered around an obsession with eating food and losing weight. interestingly enough, this is the same for people who overeat and those who undereat – only how they go about these activities differs.

what helps in these situations is not yet another diet but a whole different outlook and set of behaviours around eating and body image.

what do you think? is this a valid introduction to a description of eating disorders? the only thing i would change today would be to add a sentence somewhere about body image because one way or another, that’s a related issue for everyone.

after this long introduction, i’ll do the same this time around that i do with the buddhist carnival (which also appears here on change therapy) and post this carnival in two parts. don’t want to make you work too hard, seeing that you need to get going with your new year’s eve celebrations 🙂  here’s part one, then:

anorexia and gay men
at the new gay, an insightful 2-part series on the experiences of a gay man falling prey to, and then recovering from, anorexia:

i was a full-on feminist in every sense of the word – save one. my unrelenting best friend, who always kept me in check, fiercely and consistently pointed out how hypocritical i was being in obsessing over my body. one day she put her foot down. she demanded that i sit and not get up until i had read an essay titled the body politic in an anthology of writings by third-wave feminists called listen up: voices from the next feminist generation. i acquiesced, annoyed. i was never the same.

well, as you can imagine – that book went right on my books to read shelf!

yoga: a new way to fight anorexia and bulimia
eating disorders are complex; so are the ways in which people recover. reading a book helps one person; yoga is a key element of recovery for others:

after carolyn coston took her first yoga class, she burst into tears. “this is not a real workout!” she thought. coston, then in her 20s, had recovered from anorexia but was battling an exercise addiction.

“i was used to pounding the pavement and burning tons of calories,” said coston, who had dropped 45 pounds at the height of her anorexia.

that was 30 years ago. thousands of sun salutations later, the trim but healthy blonde is grateful for the way yoga taught her to respect her body and helped her keep her anorexia and exercise addiction at bay.

bulimia is a dental disease
i was really excited to see this blog post and to hear about the book. it’s so important for health professionals to work together in helping people with eating disorders recover. like all chronic or long-lasting conditions, it doesn’t take long at all for an eating disorder to affect all areas of one’s life – one could say that that’s when the difficulties really start to set in. in that sense, health professionals who deal with chronic or persistent conditions could take a page from addiction specialists: the severity of the addiction is often measured by how much it affects the rest of one’s life. it’s not just about how much gin you pour down the chute if you’re an alcoholic or how many hours you spend on the treadmill if you’re an exercise addict – it’s what happens after and around that. how much time do you get to spend with your family if you’re busy at the bar or at the gym? what does obesity do to a person’s knees and feet? in my experience, eating disorder specialists do look at these issues but it’s the other health professionals – people in sports medicine, orthopedics and yes, dentistry – who will do well in educating themselves better in this area.

so much for my rant. let’s see what tiptoe from between living and existing has to say:

we all know that eating disorders can wreck havoc on oral health. bulimia, most notably can take a heavier toll at first symptoms which continue to accumulate further as the eating disorder progresses. in this press release, dr. brian mckay, a dentist in seattle, discusses his new book, bulimia is a dental disease.mckay’s goal is not only to educate about the damage of bulimia to one’s oral health, but also to bring together the dental community in helping eating disorder clients. mckay says, “we need a change in the standard of care. dentists must form alliances with eating disorder professionals. together we can treat both the mental and oral aspects of this disease and the result should be a higher success rate. there is nothing more inviting than seeing someone smile again.”

read here for the rest.

that’s it for today. i’ll be posting the rest some time by january 7.  in the meantime, do you have, or do you know, a post that would be a good addition to this carnival? if so, please submit it here or drop me a line, and we can enjoy it next month, at the carnival of eating disorders on january 31.

mental health and cancer

peas refractedfor today’s “frozen pea friday” post on cancer, and because it’s national mental health week, i’ve interviewed someone on how she deals with the emotional effects of cancer. here’s what she says:

  • i have 100% permission to have all the meltdowns i need to have (i.e. anger, crying spells)
  • have a relationship with a psychotherapist whom i see regularly; that helps me remind me of self-care, putting my family in perspective and making sure i get my meltdowns
  • i have buddies. we’re in a group and i strongly request my buddies corner me four times a week and get me to focus on what i want. they do it and also get me to look at the guilt monsters because guilt is huge for me
  • maintain sleep, exercise and a regular eating schedule
  • i get help with sleep with sleep medication
  • i schedule regular meals and make sure i eat them
  • i manage anxiety by being really practical and taking things that i want seriously and making steps towards them if i can’t actually do them right
  • i very rarely tell myself “absolutely not!” usually it’s, “yes” or “yes, later” or “probably, later”
  • i let myself care about other people, even though right now it’s “me first time”

other info on the connection between mental health and cancer:

sexuality and cancer

this study suggests that people with mental health issues have a larger chance of getting certain types of cancer, and getting it at an earlier age

this site has a large section on the emotional effects of cancer. what i find most helpful about that is that it shows the many effects – seeing this in print, knowing that these feelings are normal and experienced by many can in itself be helpful.

yoga may help with breast cancer

(refracted pea image by fellow canadian ecstaticist, whose blog is here)