Friday, August 31, 2012

Steve Jobs on Meditation

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is,” Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. “If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things, that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practise it.”
-Steve Jobs CEO of Apple.
Steve Jobs in his Zen apartment

Jobs was a practitioner of Zen Buddhism. He took it up seriously, not just as a passing fad. Buddhism is part of the philosophical tradition of non-duality, and this may have influenced Jobs to converge different technologies and media into a single simple device. Being half-Syrian probably gave him a sense of being the convergence of two worlds. 
The Zen aesthetic is certainly there in the design of Apple products.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Boundless Self

"Self is a sea boundless and measureless."
-Kahlil Gibran

Friday, August 24, 2012

Carl Jung on Self-realisation

"It is most important that you should be born; 
you ought to come into this world 
otherwise you cannot realise the Self 
and the purpose of this world has been missed."
- Carl Jung, 1932, lecture on The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga

Still from the film Baraka.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Finding Yourself in India

One often hears people talk about so-and-so "going to India to find themselves". Most of the time this phrase is said in a disparaging way, and sometimes this suspicion can be justified. 
But actually, the Self does not reside particularly in any place, and not especially in India. Also the Self cannot be found, because it cannot be lost. The Self is who you are, and you cannot cease to be the Self, even if the body dies. 
And when we talk about finding the Self, we are really talking about losing the ego, getting rid of the illusion that we are not the Universal Self; and India is a great place to do that (I can say that from personal experience); but not the only place, by any means.
In India, especially in rural communities, people have not developed the ego to the extent we have in the West. There may be other problems there, but that's a different story. And when you are there, this lack of ego rubs off on to you.
Ego emerged in human beings as part of the self-preservation instinct - if there is something that seems to be threatened, there is a greater motivation to escape from danger or suffering. But that "something" is really just a by-product of body consciousness, and is not the Self. The Self cannot be threatened.
In India, in the past, the weather was mild and the natural environment was fruitful, which meant that there was much less of a struggle for a human being to keep body and soul together, or compete with others. Strong communalism in villages, helped give this sense of security. 
Things are perhaps not so good nowadays, with deforestation changing micro-climates and making it harder to live off the land; also people are increasingly moving to big anonymous cities where the extended sense of self as community is eroded.
India also has some very sacred places where, in a sense, you could say that the awareness of Self is 'concentrated' in those places.
And of course, the legacy of many saints and Incarnations is also to be felt there.

Village dance in Orissa, India.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mental Silence Study

Meditation has two distinct meanings. One meaning of meditation refers to a psychological centering device such as mantra recitation, focus on the breath, mindfulness, or a visual focus. Psychological centering devices help one feel more relaxed and centered. The other meaning of meditation is the experience of complete mental silence. Traditionally, the purpose of centering devices is to achieve complete mental silence. Although the dual meanings of meditation have been documented since at least 1977, most studies involving meditation focus on centering devices and ignore the question of whether participants experience complete mental silence.
Remarkably, the experience of complete mental silence is practically unstudied in psychology. I believe that the experience of mental silence is more common than reference works on positive psychology suggest.
-Joshua Pritikin

I recently participated in Joshua's survey on the subjective passage of time and mental silence. I found it thought provoking and enjoyed going through it. You might enjoy it too. Take a look: 

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Source of Joy

Man in his search of joy and happiness is running away from his Self, which is the real source of joy.
-Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hadewijch of Brabant

You who want
seek the Oneness

There you
will find
the clear mirror
already waiting.

Hadewijch of Brabant was a 13th century visionary, poet and mystic. I had never heard of her until she was mentioned on one of the blogs I follow, and I decided to see if I could find any of her poetry on the net. This is all I have come up with so far.
The Duchy of Brabant was a territory now divided in half between Belgium and The Netherlands; countries which did not exist at the time of Hadewijch.
A film called Hadewijch was made in 2009 but it has no relation to the historical figure.

From the Wikipedia entry:
She must have come from a wealthy family: she had a wide knowledge of literature and theological treatises in several languages, including Latin and French, in a time when studying was a luxury only exceptionally granted to women. She is considered to be a precursor to the mystic and theologian Jan van Ruusbroec, who developed many of her ideas, but in a more theologic-systematic way.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Akbar The Great (1556-1561) was a Self-realised Mughal Emperor who combined strong leadership with wisdom and spirituality. At the end of his reign in 1605 the Mughal empire covered most of northern and central India, a region of diverse religious traditions. He is most appreciated for having a liberal, syncretist attitude to all faiths. During his reign, culture and art in the Subcontinent experienced a great flowering.
He convened gatherings of mystics, theologians and learned courtiers to discuss aspects of religion and spirituality, with the aim of uniting the various faiths of his subjects, including Islam (both Sunni and Shia), Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism and Christianity. One such meeting is shown in the Hindi film about his life and marriage: Jodhaa Akbar
Though born into a Muslim dynasty, he made a marriage alliance with a Hindu Rajput princess. According to the film, her name was Jodha or Jodhabai (though some historians debate this). Akbar allowed her to practise her religion freely and would not tolerate any religious prejudice against her from his Muslim relatives and advisers. 
During his reign, people were ennobled and promoted to administrative positions, according to merit, regardless of their faith. This policy of pluralism and tolerance contributed greatly to the strength and stability of the Mughal empire.