The Mandala of Being – by Richard Moss, MD

The following is an excerpt from the book
The Mandala of Being

by Richard Moss, MD

Published by New World Library;
January 2007;$15.95US; 978-1-57731-572-8
Copyright © 2007 Richard Moss, MD

The Power of Awareness

Any story you tell yourself about who you are, any belief you have, any feeling you are aware of, is only an object of your larger consciousness. You, in your essence, are always something that experiences all these and remains more complete than any of them. When you realize that you are inherently larger than any feeling that enters your awareness, this very awareness will change the feeling, and it will release its grip on you.

Similarly, ideas that you have about yourself are relative, not absolute truths. If you simply look at them and do not let them lead you into further thinking, they will give way and leave your mind open and silent. There is always a relationship between who we believe or feel ourselves to be and something else, the Self that is our larger awareness.

In awakening to this Self-me relationship, we begin to be present with our experience in a new way. We learn to consciously hold our thoughts and feelings in our own larger fields of awareness. Then, even if we are troubled and confused, this nonreactive quality of presence to ourselves allows us to restore ourselves to a sense of wholeness. This is the power of awareness.

Sensation and Perception:

Our Original Consciousness

The great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi said that if we want to know our true selves, we must “go back by the way that we have come.” Our original state of consciousness in childhood is not one of being a separate entity with our own thoughts and sensations, but rather is a relatively undifferentiated domain of sensation and perception. Our parents, having already reached the developmental stage of separate-self consciousness, provide the model by which we begin to develop our own sense of the separate self.

But when we take the developmental step into the consciousness of the separate self and leave behind the universe of immediacy and undifferentiated sensations, as a consequence we also become identified with our sensations. Who is happy? Me. Who is angry, tired, frustrated . . . ? Me. Our feelings acquire names, however, and at the same time, we are defined by those feelings.

The same is true with perception: we may not feel that the sunshine on the trees is me, but we cannot identify it without simultaneously existing as a separate me. In psychological and philosophical theory, this level of consciousness is called “subject-object.” It is the level of ego awareness where most human development stops. We are aware as me, we react as me, we defend as me, we desire as me, but we are not aware of the true self. It is the true self that looks at all we think, do, and experience, including our sense of me. In this looking, a relationship is created that has the power to transform our experience of ourselves and our worlds.

Throughout our lives, the moment we bring our awareness fully into the Now, we enter the domain of the true self, and our immediate conscious reality is once again that of sensation and perception. As I sit in the park, the sunlight brightens the leaves and casts shadows on the ground. I have a feeling of contentment. And as long as “I” don’t create stories about what I am seeing or about the fact that I am feeling content, which leads me away from my immediate experience, what I experience remains simply perception and sensation. The same is true for any feeling, any emotion. In the Now, it is just what it is. In the Now, I “go back” to my original awareness “by the way that [I] have come.” When we directly perceive and experience whatever is present in our larger fields of awareness, it is possible to have a relationship with it without becoming lost in it or defined by it.

Exercising the Power of Awareness

We exercise the power of awareness and strengthen our spiritual muscle by bringing ourselves, over and over again, into the immediate present. To do so, we must become present with what we are feeling and thinking. We can turn our attention directly toward what we are experiencing instead of staying enmeshed in a feeling or blindly accepting our beliefs about ourselves.

It makes all the difference in the world whether we are caught in a negative emotion and say, “I am sad, angry, lonely,” and so on, or are able to recognize, at that moment, “Here am I, all wound up in sensations of resentment. Here am I, fuming with anger.” Awareness of our sensations is not the same as identifying with our thoughts or feelings. Every movement back to present-moment awareness grounds us in the body and opens the connection to our larger awareness.

Even the smallest movement toward exercising the power of awareness, instead of collapsing our larger awareness into our thoughts and feelings and thereby becoming identified with them, restores us to a more complete consciousness. It gives us the power to start from a fresh, open, less conditioned relationship to our experience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that our problems disappear. But as we exercise the power of awareness, our reflexive reactivity diminishes. We respond from a state of greater presence. When we collapse into our feelings, we lose this capacity. We default into me, and this limited self seems like the whole of who we are. Then we have no choice but to react because we feel as if we must defend ourselves.

The Fundamental Relationship

What are we actually doing when we bring our awareness fully into the present and realize “Here am I . . . “? We are moving into a more spacious awareness and thus creating conscious distance from what we are experiencing. At the same time, we are opening toward our immediate experience to see it as it is, to see it fully, to invite it to reveal itself more completely to us. We are seeing as objectively as we can, without reacting or judging. This lets us more completely realize what we are actually feeling or sensing; we do not merely remain in our heads, interpreting and analyzing.

It is important to point out that moving our awareness into the Now and thereby gaining distance from our feelings and thoughts is not dissociation. A frequent mistake people make with Eastern meditation practices is to try to rise above and detach from an experience, especially whenever the experience is considered negative. To exercise the power of awareness, we are required to become more present in our experiences without losing our larger awareness. With this quality of attention, we gain true understanding. We naturally begin to respond to our experiences in the most appropriate and intelligent ways.

This intimate viewing of ourselves by our awareness is the most fundamental of all relationships. We create the possibility of a conscious, empathetic connection between me (or self) and our true selves, or what is alternatively referred to as the Self. The personal self that we experience as ourselves is held, seen, and felt deeply by that, which will never reject me, never turn away, never judge me. It can see us judging, attacking ourselves, creating our own misery; but it does not judge even this. It is simply present with me.

This presence need not be merely neutral or indifferent. We can let it be our trusted friend, like the Persian mystic poets Hafiz and Rumi did when they referred to it as the “Guest” or the “Beloved,” to whom they offered themselves and who always received them.

The key to cultivating the healing potential of the self-Self relationship is the quality of our attention — the steadiness, gentleness, and acceptance of the “gaze” we turn toward ourselves. We must be truly willing to experience our feelings and clearly see our thoughts without reaction, allowing the moment to be exactly as it is without defending ourselves against these feelings and thoughts, without our minds moving away into further thought. Then that which transcends our capacity to name or categorize it in any way, is present to us and has the same accepting quality that we present to ourselves. This is also the essence of meditation and prayer. By keeping our attention in the present moment, we can become transparent to what is transcendent. It is the Self’s profoundly empathetic acceptance of self that ultimately sustains us when we face our deepest fears, including even our egos’ primal terror, nonbeing.

Copyright © 2007 Richard Moss, MD

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/self-improvement-articles/the-mandala-of-being-109083.html

About the Author

Richard Moss, MD, is an internationally respected teacher, visionary thinker, and author of five seminal books on transformation, self-healing, and the importance of living consciously. For thirty years he has guided people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines in the use of the power of awareness to realize their intrinsic wholeness and reclaim the wisdom of their true selves. He teaches a practical philosophy of consciousness that models how to integrate spiritual practice and psychological self-inquiry into a concrete and fundamental transformation of people’s lives. Richard lives in Ojai, California, with his wife, Ariel.

For a calendar of future seminars and talks by the author, and for further information on CDs and other available material, please visit http://www.richardmoss.com.

Or contact Richard Moss Seminars:

Office: 805-640-0632

Fax: 805-640-0849

Email: 2miracle@sbcglobal.net

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TED Talk Thursday – Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself

For those of you not familiar with TED Talks here is a brief summery of them from www.ted.com:

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize”

According to www.ted.com:

“Actor Thandie Newton tells the story of finding her “otherness” — first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. A warm, wise talk, fresh from stage at TEDGlobal 2011.”

“Born in England, her mother is Zimbabwean, and Newton is active in nonprofit work across the African continent. In 2008, she visited Mali for a campaign to bring clean water to six African nations, and as a V Day board member, Newton visited the Congo earlier this year to raise awareness of the chronic issue of sexual violence toward women and girls.”

This is an extraordinary talk about Oneness and Awareness, and the constant death and rebirth of the ego self we think we are. Enjoy!

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The Fear of Life & the Simple Act of Inward Looking That Snuffs It Out by John Sherman

The Origin of the Fear of Life

The fear of life rises up automatically in us, most likely when we are ejected from the womb at actual physical birth. Without warning, we are abruptly awakened into a wild, raging storm of what we will eventually come to call experience, feeling, sensation, emotion, and so forth. Consciousness of our existence is driven from its deep slumber in the womb into a startling eruption of violent and erratic movement, pain, pressure, noise, glaring light, and all the drama that attends our expulsion into the world. Fear and contraction inevitably ensue.

The Effects of the Fear of Life

As time passes and we see that we have managed to survive that first onslaught of raw experience, the drama and intensity of the fear of life begins to fade into the background. For some of us, most of the time, it recedes into a barely noticeable murmur of anxiety, worry, discontent and distrust of our own lives that hums along incessantly as the background of all experience. It’s the nagging sense that life itself is the problem with being human; that life itself lacks some essential quality needed for our well-being, or includes something very wrong. It’s the sense that life will never quite live up to its promise.

This murmur of anxiety and discontent becomes, for most of us, the fundamental, unexamined assumption that shapes our minds, and forms the actual point of view from which we perceive our lives. Limited by that point of view, and guided by that assumption, we learn to create understandings as to the state of our lives, and to take action based on those understandings.

Because of this, we have come to believe that the solution to the problem of being human can be found only by seeking out and destroying the things in our minds that are wrong and hurtful and threatening, and by seeking out and grasping the things in our minds that feel righteous and safe and satisfying.

We learn to resist automatically: we believe that life is inherently treacherous, and dangerous, and this belief creates a clear and present need to keep a watchful eye out, looking for threat and the means to defeat threat.

We learn to be protective, defensive, guarded and closed in our relationships with one another, lest we be tricked by them, or miss the chance of salvation by them.

We learn to believe the billowing, shifting coloration of the life force that forms the background of our minds to be existential and emotional states that belong to us. We believe those states to be the very nature of our lives, of ourselves really, and lose hope.

Our Failed Attempts at Dealing with the Fear of Life

We have a long history of failure in seeking satisfaction by employing the strategies of understanding, grasping, destroying, and ignoring. Many have come to believe that it’s the existence of the understandings and reactions themselves that is the problem, and that often leads to practices and pursuits designed to produce mental silence and quiescence. Some have concluded that thought itself is the problem, and should be stopped. And there are even those who recommend the snuffing out of ego, which is the Latin word for “I,” which is nothing more than the name I call myself.

Now, all of these survival techniques and strategies — righteousness, resistance, clinging, indifference, murderous aggression, and so forth — have had good reason to appear and to be adopted by us in our own defense. We are mistaken in doing so, but with good cause. Life can seem profoundly untrustworthy and menacing, even as it beguiles us with false hope and promise.

For most of us, the default, tried, and true response to the dissatisfaction with life is steadfast, silent denial.

Trying to Cure the Disease by Treating Its Symptoms

We’ve been trying forever to fix our lives by reforming our minds; we try to make the mind sweet, loving, and open-hearted rather than closed and mean-spirited; intelligent rather than stupid; sane rather than insane; clear rather than confused. But the mind — its character, its strengths, its weaknesses, its assumptions, its point of view, its volatility, its emotions, its thoughts, its wrongness and its rightness — the mind is not the problem. The mind is nothing really but a cloud of effects, many of which are symptoms of the fear of life. Not seeing this, pretty much everything we have done seeking an end to the underlying discontent that spoils our lives, we have done trying to change the effects of the discontent, which is to say, trying to cure the disease by treating its symptoms.

And of course, nothing works. How could it? There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking relief from the symptoms, but treating the symptoms will not cure this disease.

I do think it’s useful to think of the fear of life as a disease. It’s an affliction that came upon us without warning at our birth. Its presence has nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of our being, the clarity of our consciousness, our righteousness, our willingness, our understandings and beliefs, our worthiness or worthlessness. We had nothing to say about it, and nothing could have been done to prevent its arising. Its effects radiate throughout the life — arising in the past, spoiling the present, and projecting itself into the future.

And despite all our best efforts to eradicate the disease by attacking its symptoms, despite the devotion and commitment of the saints, despite the brilliance and insight that are to be found in the wisdom teachings, despite the rise of capitalism and with it wealth, and education, and time enough to look into these matters for ourselves, we have failed even to do much in the way of alleviating the symptoms beyond the self-denying impulse to become numb to them by a variety of means. Truth is, the vast majority of us live and die in a state of low-level misery and neurotic alienation from our own lives, punctuated by moments of passion and despair, silenced only by death.

It’s not surprising that we’ve failed. We’ve been acting from an unseen and false belief all this time; the belief that human life itself is the problem with human life. It doesn’t take enlightenment to see that there is not much hope of finding a safe home in life when we are swimming in the river of pessimism and despair that flows from that belief.

We Can Do Something About the Fear of Life

There must be something we can do. Clearly, some of us — not many, but some — seem to have found peace and freedom in life. The Buddha comes to mind, for example, and many others can be found in different times and traditions, all of whom seem to have achieved a profound reconciliation and fulfillment in human life. And, although they have been very successful in evoking in us the feel of what they see, they have had little success in providing us with any truly useful advice on what to do that might allow us to see directly for ourselves what they saw.

I want to suggest something to you that you can do for yourself that works. I know that it works because it worked for me, and it worked for Carla, my wife, and it has worked for a growing number of people around the world now; people who have, maybe even despite their better judgment, actually tried to do what I ask. I do have a theory as to why it works, but my certainty that it works comes from my own experience, rather than from a theoretical understanding, and the why of it is actually entirely beside the point. So here it is, the simple act of inward looking that snuffs out the fear of life.

If you will try, with your whole heart, to bring the beam of your attention in direct contact with the reality of your nature, you will snuff out the fear of life, which is the first cause of all human misery. I call this action looking at yourself. If you will just try to look at yourself, the disease will go away, and with it the perception of your life as a problem to be solved, a threat to be destroyed, or the hiding place of a secret treasure that will bring fulfillment and satisfaction. It’s that simple.

Step 1: Learn to Move the Beam of Your Attention at Will

To begin, just relax for a moment, and notice the obvious fact that you have the power to move your attention at will.

As you read this, move your attention away from the text for a moment, and direct it instead to the feel of your breathing. Notice the feel of your chest and belly expanding and contracting, and then bring it back here to this page. Do that a couple of times so that you become familiar with what I mean by “moving the beam of your attention at will.” That action of moving attention at will, as you just did, is all that’s needed to accomplish what I am asking you to do. The more you practice this simple act, the more you’ll become familiar with how it feels to do it. And the more familiar you become with the feel of it, the more skillful and direct you will be in the effort to move the beam of attention where it must go.

Step 2: Turn the Beam of Your Attention Inward

Use that skill to actually turn the beam of attention inward, trying to make direct, unmediated contact with the reality of your own nature, by which I mean you, just plain and simple you. You know what you are, and you will surely recognize yourself when you see yourself in this way. It really is that simple.

Repeat this as often as it occurs to you to do so.

There is no step three.

A Few Tips About Where to Look

The act of inward looking may be simple, but the actual doing of it can seem anything but easy. But consider this: the feel of you is the only thing that is always here. All else — thought, belief, understanding, things seen and heard and felt, emotions, pain, pleasure — literally all else comes and goes. So, looking for you is looking only for what is always here. Anything that is newly arrived, no matter how wonderful it may be, cannot be you. Likewise, anything that has been here and left, even if it might return, cannot be you.

Furthermore, you are the plain and unmoving field in which all else comes and goes. You have nothing to give to you or take away from you and you are, therefore, profoundly uninteresting to the mind’s eye, which has no purpose other than to keep vigilant, to stay on the lookout for things to grasp, things to reject and destroy, and things that are safe to ignore in a forest of bright, shiny, ever-moving, fantastically fascinating parade of phenomena. The fear of life is a kind of auto-immune disease. Its only function, insane as it may be, is to keep you safe from your own life, and this mission demands ceaseless attention to incoming phenomena. Because of this, its natural orientation is ever outward. You, on the other hand, are wholly and perfectly inward (more on that below).

Here are a few suggestions that some have found helpful in this endeavor:

  • Try to bring to mind a memory of some event in your early childhood. It doesn’t need to be anything important: being in a room with adults, leaving a movie theater, looking out the window, any memory will do, so long as you can evoke a reasonably accurate memory of the feel of it. Now, just for a second, see if you can remember what it felt like to be you then. Not what the event felt like, but what it felt like to be you. You may get just a fleeting whiff of it and, if you do, you will almost certainly recognize that it is exactly the feel of you now;
  • Notice the fact that you are certain of your own existence, in a way that you are certain of nothing else in the world. Look there, at that certainty, because that certainty itself is just another name for you;
  • Look for what is always here, what never moves, or changes, or comes, or goes. Everything in the universe moves. Everything moves but you;
  • Look for the person-ness of you. Nothing in the universe feels like a person but you;
  • See that there is literally nothing inward but you. Many sensations and experiences are thought to be inward that are not. Emotions, thoughts, visions, dreams, desires, aversions, pains, pleasures, experiences of all kinds that appear in the interior of your mind are outward from you, and when you attend to them, you are looking outward — no matter how inward they may feel. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with looking outward, it might even be said that looking outward is the main occupation in human life. It’s just that when you are seeking to look at yourself, outward is the one direction in which you cannot be seen. If you can understand this distinction, you might find your way home using outward phenomena to funnel your attention into the right orientation. When attention is turned truly inward, it is looking directly at you, and nothing else.

There are probably more tips like these to be garnered from those who have traveled this road, but they are all, as the saying goes, merely fingers pointing at the moon, and the moon they point to is only you. In the end, you must do this for yourself. It is, after all, you that you seek to touch with the beam of your attention, and no one can possibly know the feel of you but you.

Your Attitude and Expectations Are Irrelevant

Understand that it may be that you never get an actual, recognizable experience to confirm that you have succeeded; as I said, you are not very interesting to the mind’s eye, and the contact with the reality of your nature will be so fleeting — a tenth of a second or less — that you may never know that it happened. But here’s the good news: it doesn’t matter. It seems clear, from the common experience of many by now, that a sincere effort cannot fail, no matter how strong the feeling of failure might be. We are not, after all, trying to do this to find out who we are, or to understand what we are, or to dissolve into our true nature and become what we are, or any other such thing. We do this only to cure the disease of the fear of life with the medicine of inward looking.

One other interesting aspect of this effort is that neither your attitude nor your expectations seem to have any effect on the end result. You can look at yourself for any reason at all. Maybe you decide to look at yourself because you want to be happy, or you want to save the world, or you want to be free of pain. Or you may think that you are not 100% committed to the looking and, therefore, you wonder if it will work. None of that matters at all. All that matters are the moments when you look. The looking does the work, regardless of what you think about it, or what you may expect to gain from it.

The inward looking is in no way an end in itself; it is only the means to be free of this disease. When its work is done, I predict that you will find yourself so fully engaged in life that you will have trouble remembering what all the fuss was about that brought you to the looking in the first place.

The Course of Recovery is Uncertain But Your Success Is Guaranteed

The course of recovery from the fear-of-life disease is unpredictable. For some, things clear up pretty easily, with little inner torment; for others, the course of recovery can be quite painful and prolonged. My own recovery was quite unpleasant. It took a year or so for me even to notice that the fever of discontent had broken. It was another five years before I began to notice how profoundly different and easy my relationship with life had already become, and more than twelve years before I could speak clearly about what I had found.

So, how long it will take, and how difficult it will seem to you is uncertain. But if you will just look, the end is certain. You will lose the sense that life is out to get you, and the sense that you are trapped here. You will lose the felt need to protect yourself from the thoughts, the emotions, the opinions, the sensations, and all else that comes and goes within you and makes up your actual, ever-changing life. You will come to see that the things that come and go within you are deeply interesting, in a way that you could not have imagined when your view was clouded by fear.

In the end, you will find yourself fully immersed in your life — as you have always been. But now, you will find yourself enthralled and interested, engaged in, enlivened, and fed by the way life actually unfolds. You will see clearly that your life is the fulfillment and satisfaction you have been seeking elsewhere. You will go sane.

John Sherman
April 9, 2011
Ojai, California

Copyright © 2011 John Sherman, Carla Sherman. Some rights reserved.

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