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holiday magic experience
Dec 16

How To Bring More Holiday Magic Into Your Life

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Ooh you're a holiday, every day, such a holiday

Now it's my turn to say, and I say you're a holiday

Bee Gee’s

Have you ever had a holiday season where everything worked out perfectly, when everyone was so nice and considerate that you thought you were in another world?

You may then have asked, “Why can’t every day be a delightful holiday? Why can’t every season be a magical season?

Why The American Holiday Season Is Magical

The United States emerged after World War II as the greatest economic engine the world had ever seen. Europe didn’t catch up until the 1960s. Puritans seeking religious freedom in the New World had originally settled the nation.

They were instilled with an ethic of working hard and building things. Entrepreneurialism and individualism increasingly became an important value as the settlers felt that they only had to answer to their conscience and God.

From there, the United States grew and grew with European, African, Latin and Asian immigrants, many of whom came to get ahead and fulfill the American dream.​

dream

A fiercely competitive spirit emerged, as epitomized in New York City. Capitalism was religiously sanctioned and most Americans remained deeply suspicious of socialism.

The collective pressure was so great that America forged a very special season as a safety valve, a season toward the end of the year, as the vernal equinox approaches and fall turns into winter.​

Drop the frantic pursuit of happiness at the cost of having a life and give way to others. “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men” is no longer laughed at during these months, and people spontaneously open up to each other and show their human side. Often class distinctions drop, and a common humanity is celebrated.​

How the Holiday Season Came to Be

Given the ethnic and religious diversity of the United States from the earliest days, the holidays were chosen to appeal to everyone and honored with a universal spirit.

Halloween, a minor day in the Roman Catholic Church, eventually overshadowed All Saints Day on November 1st, and became a night to celebrate magic.

Thanksgiving was institutionalized in America to celebrate the family, drawing upon the experience of the Mayflower settlers in America who made it through the fierce winter through the gracious help of the Native Americans. They celebrated a harvest together as a single people.

Christmas eventually became more important than Easter. It held a dual significance of honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, as “Immanuel,” or God with us, as well as Saint Nicholas, the European bishop who gave gifts to children, who became the personification of the holiday.

While the gift giving became extremely commercialized, the original spirit somehow remained.​

holiday time

New Year’s Day was an important climax to the holiday season, as everyone entered the winter months with a fresh start and a whole new outlook on life.

While this whole pattern became highly complex and sophisticated, it has worked to keep Americans relatively sane, given how driven the culture tends to be.​

As we approach Christmas, everything becomes softer and more beautiful; people are more relaxed and considerate of others. Even business slows down. People are more concerned about their relationships than their transactions.

Strangely enough, the season actually works, and is highly profitable, bringing in as much as 40% of the annual retail trade.​

How to Make Every Day a Magic Holiday

You might ask yourself, “Are people so nice during the holiday season simply because they want to put up a phony front to forget just how rotten life really is?”

If you think about it, you will realize this is overly cynical. Actually, the reverse is true.

People often put up a phony front in their day-to-day interactions to protect themselves from getting hurt. They are convinced that they won’t be loved and accepted for whom they are if they risk opening up.

When the holiday season emerges, they get so caught up in the collective good will that they are swept up into celebrating life and making it a joy for other people.

Celebration is the whole point of life. Celebration comes from our innermost being.

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Our being values are awakening, creating, playing and celebrating.

We start in youth by awakening and creating, and then learn to play in an adult sense and celebrate the very process of life.

Celebration is natural to who we are, and to get frantically caught up in business and studies and lose all perspective goes totally against who we are. It can only bring chronic unhappiness and misery.​

While you don’t need an excuse to celebrate, you can find plenty of excuses if you exercise your imagination.

Everyone you know has a birthday. Why don’t you celebrate every one of them? The great religious traditions have dozens of holy days. Why not celebrate one of the other traditions? For example, Hanukah in Judaism, or Eid in Islam.

Hanukah comes close to Christmas, and celebrates the miraculous burning of the sacred temple lamp when the oil had all but run out. Eid brings an end to the annual month of fasting and prayer, and is celebrated in Muslim homes with great joy. You might find people of other faiths thrilled that you would like to honor their holidays with them.​

Just as the holiday season ends the year, so the evening the day, the weekend the week and the new moon the emergence of a new month.

Related article:  Life as Art, Art as Life​

Why Not Play Master of Ceremonies and Create Magical Experiences?

Imagine that the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences asked you to be the M.C. for this year. What would your response be?

create holiday magic today

You might want to buy a few joke books and practice with friends. You would have your hair specially cut and your nails manicured. You would even go out and rent or buy a tuxedo or an evening gown.​

What if you created your own award ceremony, or threw a party?​

You could honor people in the news or in your life. For example, John Glenn, the astronaut who helped take humanity into space, just passed away.

Why not put together an event celebrating space exploration, and all the brave men and women who made it possible for us to send a rocket outside the solar system? Money need not be an object. If you throw a party, there is no reason you can’t make it pot luck.​

The whole point is to give up waiting for others to celebrate something... anything.

Why don’t you take the initiative? Often, you just need to make a suggestion, and others will jump at the idea, whether an office party, a special day at school or festive meeting at your club, conference or association. It isn’t up to the person next to you.

IT’S UP TO YOU!

Ten Specific Ways You Can Make Today Magical

1.  List ten things for which you can be grateful.

2.  Go to a gift shop and review the card section for any ideas on special days and occasions, including Valentine’s and Saint Patrick’s Day.​

3.  Create a custom greeting card for friend or lover on your computer.​

4.  Plan a get away once a month with your spouse or friend for a special weekend together.​

5.  Attend a live music or theatrical concert.​

6.  Dress up in your Sunday best and go downtown to an art museum or gallery. Enjoy the opulence of upscale life.​

7.  Take out an old musical instrument you haven’t touched in years or recall a special song you loved as a youth and share it with friends and family.​

8.  Fall in love all over again…with the one you are with, or anyone who truly opens your heart.​

9.  Watch an inspiring film that synchs with the season, such as Zeffarelli’s Romeo and Juliet for Valentine’s Day.​

10.  Bring a flower home, or give it to someone special. Smell and delight in its fragrance and beauty.​

You can make any day magical by remembering that you are divine, and treating everyone else as the god or goddess that they truly are!

meditation for beginners
Dec 14

How To Meditate For Beginners: Sleep Better, Reduce Stress and Anxiety

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Nothing could be easier than meditation, right? You simply close your eyes and watch your breath. Rather than fall asleep, you immediately plunge into deeper and deeper states of profound presence where you find yourself one with God and the Universe. NOT.

If you are like most of us, you envy the people who find it effortless to meditate. They have a form of bliss that could pass for ecstasy, or some other illegal drug.

You have little or no time for such leisurely pursuits. Whether school or career, you’ve got to get ahead. Earn a living first… then get a life.

Why You Need Meditation Now More Than Ever

For most of us living in major metros, life has never been so stressful, accelerating at such a frantic pace. Not only do we need to work longer and harder just to break even, but we also need to keep up with all the news, now in dozens of channels and devices.

Rather than newspaper, radio and TV, we have cable, satellite, mobile and social. If you aren’t plugged in, you’re not exactly with it.

World events can seem precarious, what with terrorism, climate change and perpetual gyrations of the stock market. We need a place to retreat, but it is harder and harder in the city. Your best bet is a local park, as long as it’s not too hot or cold, and you feel safe.​

You know you need to exercise more, get out and meet people, as well as relax. But how do you truly relax? You’ve heard of meditation. You’ve seen the practice of yoga booming across the nation. But when you tried to do it all in the past, it just didn’t work for you.

In fact, you tried to do it on your own, but could not understand or track your progress. So, what’s the best way to meditate for beginners?​

Keep reading… because we’ll show you how to jump-start this process successfully right out of the gate and enjoy the journey along the way.

How Biofeedback Has Transformed Learning to Meditate

Biofeedback technology enables electronic devices to monitor physiological processes and thereby enable people to consciously regulate what happens within their body and their mind.

Medical scanning has been available for nearly a hundred years, but was restricted to hospitals, institutes and clinics. It was heavy, bulky and very expensive. Only professionals had access to it.

In the 1970’s, biofeedback emerged as an alternative form of meditation, but was expensive and available only in very limited contexts. You needed to work with professionals, and there was no way you could take it out in the streets.​

With the computer revolution, devices went from mainframe to desktop to laptop to mobile device. Computing power went up exponentially with the crunching power to execute the most exotic tasks.

In addition, sensor technology boomed and became ubiquitous. With the proliferation of mobile devices, such as the new Apple Watch, the time was ripe to open up meditation to the world.​

Meditating the Traditional Way

In ancient times, you were introduced to meditation only if you belonged to an exclusive class and were a young male being initiated for years by a rishi, or forest sage. In India, you were taught to chant Sanskrit, and then had to orally memorize long texts, such as the Vedas.

At some point, the guru would give his apprentice a sacred name, and have him repeat it again and again in a softer and softer voice, until the boy could close his eyes and do it in silence.​

meditation-tips

I took the TM initiation decades ago. It was a short process where I went to the center in Berkeley, California, sat down in a chair, surrounded by flowers, candles and incense.​

The young instructor there briefly described the process, had me close my eyes and repeat my own special sacred name out loud, and then keep repeating it silently. He then congratulated me as a practitioner and promptly collected $75, which, at that time, was a substantial donation.

That was it. No follow up. No counseling.

I was thrown out on my own. I practiced it religiously morning and evening for several weeks, read a book or two on the subject, and then, somehow, it all dried up. I went on with my life, but couldn’t quite get back into the groove. (I did remember my original mantra, but ended up experimenting with others.)​

Contemporary Meditation: Faster, Easier and a Lot More Fun

Today, with the online and mobile revolution, it is possible to get a meditation instructor who can get inside your head and watch your brainwaves.

She can help you move from the normal, frontal lobe beta waves, to the more relaxed, dreamy and creative alpha waves. She pinches you when you are in beta, and pats you on the back when you are in alpha.​

Real-time biofeedback with multiple sensors on a mobile device is now out of the laboratories and on the market.

guided mediation

The software has been written to take you on the seashore to hear the gentle sound of waves, and then hear strong winds blow when you are all caught up in your monkey mind.​

When you let go, you begin to hear enchanting birds singing, welcoming you into the magical land of alpha.​

When you let go, you begin to hear enchanting birds singing, welcoming you into the magical land of alpha.​

You can choose the method of meditation, whether mantra, candle or breath, but the device guides you along in several sessions to the point where you begin to get it, much like learning to ride a bicycle.

You eventually get a handle on what to do to calm down the monkey mind, if not shut it down entirely.​

Introducing Muse – The Brain Sensing Headband from InteraXon

Muse meditation headband

Back in 2012, a group of Canadians pioneered a new concept in biofeedback through funding from Indiegogo. They had recruited top people on their advisory board, such as Dean Ornish, M.D. of Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Jui Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab.

Rather than offer bulky, expensive equipment that had to be plugged into a wall, they built a system with elegant, stylish earphones that you might see in a movie like The Matrix, with three sensors in front and two on the sides, monitoring EEG, or electroencephalography.​

Using Bluetooth, you connect to your smart phone or tablet, be it Apple’s iPhone or iPad, or Android device. You pair the earphone with the device and calibrate your thoughts by mentally repeating a list that Muse provides you.​

You first hear an ocean, then winds, as per the amplitude of your brain waves. Upon quieting down, you hear the call of birds. You can select multiple soundscapes, and you have four channels to play with.

meditation process displayed

You get colorful screens with graphics that monitor your progress and score your session, which is timed from three to 20 minutes. The rechargeable battery is good for five hours and has five flashing LED’s on the right side, using a Micro USB cable.​

In addition, the device is gamified to make it fun and addictive in a good sort of way.

You can compete with yourself, as you watch yourself get better and better each session. You are rewarded with points and medals, and special screens that open up when you have achieved a certain level.

Since Muse was first introduced in early 2013 at the Consumer Electronic Show, it has been continuously refined with the pricing available as low as US$259.​

Muse enjoys hundreds of satisfied reviews with people having serious conditions, such as PTSD, being helped through it; although InteraXon scrupulously avoids calling it is a medical device.

Hospital and research institutions are now testing it as a possible adjunct to therapy for serious conditions.​

meditative awareness

Let’s have a closer look at some of its Pros and Cons:

Pros:​

  • This meditation device makes it easy and effective for both a beginner and someone who has been practicing meditation for some time.
  • It comes with both hardware and application.
  • Very affordable, since most neurofeedback professional devices are way over $1,000.
  • The reason most of us have such a hard time meditating is because we lose focus (where our string of thoughts are constantly dragging us down the rabbit hole…and that’s where it all gets out of control). The beauty of this device (Muse) is that it’s designed to measure your ability to place your focus on your breath, to keep it there, and to bring it back when your mind wanders.
  • The beginner will easily hone the most basic skill in meditation in no time (which is placing one’s whole attention on an object) and advance from there.
  • No risk policy with 30-day return policy and a guarantee on the hardware for a full year.

Cons:

  • A bit of patience will be required. Since the software (the app) takes a baseline before each session, you will have to adjust / calibrate all seven sensors every time before you set out to meditate; otherwise it can throw off the reading.
  • Built in batteries last a decent amount of time, but their charge indicator lacks accuracy. After a certain point, batteries begin impacting reading accuracy. However, you can avoid this issue by re-charging every time it gets to be used up half way.
  • If you choose an Apple device, you need to have the latest iOS, otherwise you will not be able to use the app.

Why Wait? It’s Never Been So Easy to Master Meditation for Beginners

For less than the cost of a high-end pair of wireless earphones, you can pick up an attractive, fun and easy-to-use digital headband that just might change your life.

Over a decade ago, encouraged by reading Yoga magazine and books of Dr. Deepak Chopra, I improvised my own unique style of meditation morning and evening that woke me up spiritually in a way I never could have imagined, and improved my life both physically and psychologically.

I more or less stumbled on my own form of meditation. I most certainly didn’t have an option so compelling as Muse.​

If I were to start all over again, now with powerful, attractive mobile devices and easy-to-use software, I would take full advantage of Muse. You can actually share it with different members of your family.

You might even feel sufficiently inspired as to make a gift of it to cherished friends. Especially, if they walk around all stressed out and overwhelmed.

“No time” may have been a credible excuse for not learning to meditate in the past. Not anymore. This could be the best investment in yourself you ever make.

And now, you can easily integrate meditation into your daily life.

Keep in mind, that there is a direct correlation between your mental health and physical health. You should NOT look at them as two separate practices. Both of them are equally important, since they support and feed of each other.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. That way, we, and all the other Conscious Owls, can benefit from your experience.​

enlightened person definition
Dec 12

An Enlightened Person Has Only Magnificent People Around Her

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

When the great North Indian poet, Kabir, was in his final years,

he was asked to preach to a crowd of adoring devotees.

Kabir who, by trade, was a skillful weaver,

but who created the greatest poems India has ever heard,

looked deeply into the eyes of everyone around him.

Finally, Kabir decisively stepped back.

He lovingly admonished his disciples,

“To whom shall I preach?

For I only see God when I look around me.

How can God preach to God?”

You may have had occasion to pick a team, at work, school or in volunteer activities. You may have asked yourself, “Shall I pick the people I like most? Or shall I choose those who can do the best job?”

If you are like most of us, you first picked the people you liked and then considered any of the rest.

However, picking what Steve Jobs of Apple called an “A-Team” is not everything. You also need to move, touch and inspire them. You must appreciate their talents, see their highest potential and be satisfied with nothing less than their very best.

Why You Are Enlightened only to the Extent Others Around You Are

In most of our lives, Mom is the original guru. She is nurturing and supporting. She loves us just as we are. She sees us always as our pride and joy. At times she gets so carried away with our greatness that she assumes we can do no wrong, and willingly defends us unto death.

As we move forward in our lives, we enter into school, and then a job or business, a family, and then civic life. Today, women are as apt to be leaders as men. The glass ceiling has been forever shattered. Yet many of us get all caught up with our own ego.

We are often over-achievers, proud that we beat others in sports, political races, or in landing that big business deal. We long to hear that we are truly great and seldom acknowledge the others on our team who really made it happen.

A truly great leader never takes credit.

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He always praises his team for any victories, and personally assumes responsibility for any losses. When a team member fails, he has failed. He deeply believes that he has the best possible team and feels highly privileged to lead them.​

Siddhartha Gautama Invents Enlightenment as an Institution

If we look into history to the people who really changed the world, not for a few years only, but for entire centuries and millennia, we might want to start with the Buddha.

spiritually enlightened people

Here was a crown prince who left His throne and joined the beggars seeking enlightenment. He abandoned all privileges of caste and treated everyone as equals.

Before Buddha, enlightenment was a very esoteric concept available only to a few. In India, you were not usually considered qualified to be enlightened unless you were a Brahman. Siddhartha, Himself, was born a Raj, or ruler, but considered to be only the second highest class.

As a former ruler, He set about to abolish all class distinctions. He dreamed of enlightenment being every human being’s birthright.

Even more daring, Buddha set up the preconditions for enlightenment to become an institution with a set of principles and inner technologies that could scientifically engineer a person’s awakening, whether they be prince or pauper.

Even more, Buddha had to teach this understanding in such a way that it would survive centuries before being recorded on palm leaves.

Eventually, Buddhists missionaries went round the known world. They even won over a prominent king to enlightenment, Ashoka, who decreed noninjury to all sentient beings.​

Jesus Christ Makes Fishermen into “Fishers of Men”

If we look at Western civilization, Jesus of Nazareth, a village carpenter, takes a comparable position. Like Siddhartha, He had a universal vision far ahead of his time, the Kingdom of God characterized by divine love, where the greatest person among us would be the servant of the least.

Jesus probably knew early on in His ministry that His stay here would be brief. He chose to work with very ordinary people.​

enlightened individuals in history

When He chose His 12 Apostles, He did so with prayerfully and with great care. They were merchants and trades people, much like Him. He had to bring them up to speed, and carry on the message He pioneered in country after country and century after century.

At first, Jesus sent His Apostles out to nearby villages two by two in order to heal people and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. They were highly successful and apprenticed under Him for three years.

Then, as Jesus was about to die, He had to give them faith that, when they were scattered after the first wave of persecution, they would come back together. Jesus correctly prophesied that, “the gates of Hell” (meaning the grave) would not prevail against His followers. The more Christians died, the more people became Christian.

Like Buddha, it is impossible to overemphasize the influence of Christ in opening up every continent and country on the Planet. However, would Jesus have succeeded in His mission had He not saw the divine potential of his followers?  In Him, they became truly great.​

Mother Theresa Turns the Untouchables into the Children of God

When we come to modern times, we can’t ignore Mother Teresa of Calcutta, recently sainted by Pope Frances I. Here was a nun from Macedonia assigned to serve Christians in one of India’s greatest cities.

Saint Mother Teresa

As Teresa went about her business, an untouchable woman, about to die, came up to her. She couldn’t get help from the hospital on account of her caste. Teresa warmly embraced her as the woman died in her arms.​

That experience forever changed Teresa, and made her into one of the greatest saints of all time.​

She determined that this should never happen to another untouchable, and started to create “the City of Joy” right in the middle of the slums of Calcutta.

Theresa saw divinity in the untouchables, and gave them a sense of dignity that deeply impacted people all over India.

Mother Teresa was so inspiring that Princess Diana, an extremely popular member of the British royal family, deliberately sought her out and honored her. Perhaps it is no accident that they both died at about the same time.​

Steve Jobs Turns Engineers into Artists, and Lights up the World

In our contemporary world, we have been touched, directly or indirectly, in every way by Steve Jobs and his Apple, Inc. As everyone knows, Steve started out of his garage with his high school buddy, “Woz,” after a trip to India.

Steve had a vision of an apple grove in Oregon, and dreamed of making computers for home and education that all the rest of us could use.

Steve went on to make history with his world-famous Macintosh team, who built the first computer with sexy graphics that could actually talk to an audience. Steve deeply loved machines and wanted to bring them to life.

He hand-selected his Mac team, and then fired them up with his vision of building a computer that “even their mother would love.” They worked 80 hours a week, and ate it up! They would dread Steve’s calling them “bozos,” and live for the moment he called them geniuses, like him.

Finally, Steve etched the names of his original team right inside the Macintosh box, and praised them for not simply being engineers, but for being digital artists.

Many years later, after Steve had been fired from the very company he created through a board-room fight, he visited Apple, then at the brink of bankruptcy. Steve observed the genius of a single industrial designer, Johnny Ive, and decided to come back.

He took on the project so successfully that he devoted his final breath to Apple, transforming it into what was then universally acknowledged as the most valuable company in the world.

Steve opened up humanity to the possibilities of creativity and full self-expression through human-friendly, intelligent machines.​

characteristics enlightened people

He literally lit up the world. Very few people who ever worked with him regretted the experience, even when he berated them, because Steve saw their ultimate potential, and held them firmly to that standard.

Do you see now how an enlightened person always has only magnificent people around him/her? And we are not talking about an enlightened person’s character flaws here. We are talking about an enlightened being who dedicates himself or herself to the growth of other persons, and for the greater good.​

What You Can Do Today to Build a Magnificent Team

How can you profit from these deeply inspiring men and women? It might help to realize that a hero is an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances.

Enlightened heroes are people who rise up to the challenges of their time and commit to changing the world, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

You can do several things today with the people in your life. If you consistently do them, and you don’t already lead the team, you soon will.

  • Thank someone for something they did for you that showed thoughtfulness. It might be simply picking a flower from the garden and sharing it with you.
  • Compliment someone for anything that shows their uniqueness. It might be as simply acknowledging a young lady for choosing apparel that perfectly matches her eyes and her hair.
  • Demonstrate that you believe in someone, that they can accomplish great things. It might simply be giving a big boost to your son or daughter running for student council.

Above all, remember that you are great, that you are divine, and that empowerment and enlightenment are your birthright… and are your destiny!

enlightenment definition
Dec 09

Is There An End To Enlightenment?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

I died as mineral and became a plant,

I died as plant and rose to animal,

I died as animal and I was human,

Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Yet once more I shall die human,

To soar with angels blessed above.

And when I sacrifice my angel soul

I shall become what no mind ever conceived.

Rumi Jalal ad'Din

Have you ever dreamed of graduating from college, and THEN you would be happy? Perhaps from there you dreamed of landing your first professional job, and you found another goal more compelling. Perhaps you dreamed that IF ONLY you found the perfect spouse, you would be happy, and then found you had yet a more compelling goal?

Is there ever an end, a final progression? In our lives, do we ever reach a state where we have finally arrived? Or are we forever moving forward, to new possibility after new possibility after new possibility?​

What Is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is awakening to who you really are and what this is all about.

It is also called realization and being born again. These are all metaphors for becoming a new person. What was relevant to you as a child is completely irrelevant to you as an adult. You now have new values, sensibilities and priorities. You have awakened to a whole new world.

Transformation is another way of looking at it. In transformation, you go from foreground to background. You move from being in front of the painting to the back of the painting, merging with the scenery. You move from part to whole.

You are the context or space in which everything is. You are the movie screen or matrix in which the pageantry of life plays out.​

enlightenment summary

Enlightenment has different levels. We all have peak experiences of profound wellbeing. There are no mistakes. Everything is perfect just as it is. At some point, your peak experiences shift to a new focus on identity.

No longer your body or your mind, you are pure being, itself.​

Individual Enlightenment

We start with the question, “Who am I?” in anticipation of the larger question of “Who are we?”. Answers to the question of “Who am I?” can emerge spontaneously, revealing that you are totally different than you thought you were.

Some people, like Ramana Maharshi, seem to luck out. Ramana realized his ultimate identity as a teenager when confronted with the demise of a close relative.

In Buddhism, we find two distinct traditions: Sudden enlightenment and Gradual enlightenment. South Asian and Tibetan Buddhism favor gradual enlightenment, which can take lifetimes to achieve.

East Asia, especially Japan in its Zen tradition, favors sudden enlightenment. You experience a flash of satori, and suddenly find yourself one with the whole universe. You gaze at a lotus blossom, and you ARE that lotus blossom.

As Buddhism matured through the centuries, the whole emphasis moved from escaping delusion to freeing others from bondage. You wake up only to wake up others. The initial emphasis on wisdom moves to a greater emphasis on compassion. The person you are helping is just another version of YOU.

Collective Enlightenment

Every tradition anticipates collective enlightenment.

spiritual enlightenment thinkers

In Judaism, the vision was of Israel being the light of the nations until the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters of the sea.

In Christianity, all creation is eagerly awaiting the redemption of our planet as the new humanity emerges. In Islam, the vision is to create a global divine society where God is all in all.

In the East, there was a concerted effort over centuries through Vajrayana and the Tantric tradition to create tools and technologies such that entire societies and nations might be transformed into “buddhaverses.” A truly enlightened civilization finally emerges.

In Hinduism, we come back to the golden age of the Satya Yuga, when virtue and dignity are the rule, not the exception. People consistently only want to do what is right.

In contemporary times, we have seen the impact of social evolution, as in Marxism, where we might all reach a classless society. Liberal democracy has dedicated itself to universal literacy, free enterprise and citizen participation in government.

While these visions may seem utopian, humanity has progressed immensely since ancient times in ethical norms, scientific understanding and technological development.

This, despite the horror of recent lapses into militant fundamentalism and ever new forms of fascism. The dreams of people all over the world have irreversibly awoken.

Ultimate Enlightenment

Yet there is a larger vision emerging which is profoundly inspiring, pioneered by the likes of Sri Aurobindo in India and Teilhard de Chardin in France. It has been referred to as evolutionary enlightenment, where the entire cosmos, itself, is creating ever greater possibilities and awaken to itself in us, through us and as us.

Andrew Cohen, in tandem with Ken Wilber, envision individuals awakening to a collective responsibility to consciously participate in a new order of being by the realization of a “Higher We.”​

I exist as a collective as much as an individual. I, as collective, can do an order of magnitude more things than I, as individual.

Implicit in the ancient traditions is the realization that we can co-create a whole new universe. This may seem wildly absurd and totally impossible.

However, through quantum physics, we are beginning to recognize the universe is a collective construct in consciousness, and doesn’t really exist “out there” in quite the way we see it. One need only think of the Christian prophecy that God shall create “a new heaven and a new earth.”​

Thus, enlightenment can be as every bit as big and last as long as you want it to.

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What is important to always remember is that you, me, we, all of us, are already THAT, the Totality. Our only ultimate identity is Who and What we call “God.”

How to Get Started and Never Stop

What if just getting enlightenment yourself seems like an impossible task. You may find it is a lot simpler (though challenging) than you imagined:

  •  Look at everyone you see as your mirror.
  • Remember that everything you think, feel and see, YOU think, feel and see.
  • You can have direct access to the Sacred by simply asking for It to reveal Itself to you.
  • Remember that YOU ARE LOVE. Love is the innermost core of your being. Just open up to it.
  • Be willing to keep looking at your life from the point of view that somehow you set it all up.
  • Look at each day… as if for the first time…
  • Fall in love with every experience… emotion, circumstance or obstacle that comes your way.
  • Don’t run form “it.” Flow with it.
white noise machine baby
Dec 07

White Noise: Best Sleep Sound Machine for Deep Rest (Adults or Babies)

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Sleep is so vital to all of us. It rejuvenates, restores and adds wings to our daily performance. When there is lack of sleep, our physical / mental energy plunges and we can’t perform at full capacity.

There are plenty of us who don’t get enough deep sleep due to stress, busy mind “syndrome,” neighbor noises or babies keeping us up at night.​

Therefore, today we will talk about white noise and what it actually means, as well as compare two sleep sound machines that can assist you in sleeping deeper. The white noise sound machines discussed in today’s article are great for adults and babies. It is perfect for your baby (up to one year of age), if he/she tends to wake up often at night.

The two sleep sound systems are great if you have a hard time falling asleep and help you sleep deeper… if you are a light sleeper. But before we jump in and review these machines, let’s first understand what ‘white noise’ means and how it impacts our sleep on a daily basis.​

What is White Noise?

The term white noise originally came from white light phrase. White noise is the sound you hear in between radio and TV stations when there is no incoming signal. It is a mix of all the sound frequencies in the human auditory spectrum (20 to 20,000 HZ).

All the various frequencies cancel each other out, such that the total effect is a perfect masking device to block distracting sounds in your environment, as well as internal sounds, such as tinnitus, which can interfere with sleep.​

need sleep machine

White noise is similar to nature sounds, such as a gentle stream or plunging waterfalls. It has deeper and deeper variants, such as pink noise and brown noise. Since it can be electronically or digitally reproduced with relative ease, it has become increasingly popular as an alternative to nature sounds, which, all too often, are captured in a repetitive loop that soon becomes monotonous and annoying.

White noise is now available on CD, MP3 files, websites and portable digital sound machines. Some of the most sophisticated sound machines can adjust the frequency of the white noise to effectively mask incoming sounds of higher or lower pitch.

When competing for attention, the human brain tends to focus on the steady White Noise, as opposed to random jarring sounds.​

The Benefits of Sleep Sound Therapy Systems

Sleep sound therapy systems are surprisingly easy to use, move around and turn up sufficiently to block out most unwanted sounds.

They provide users a variety of options, often with nature sounds, such as that of moving water, a forest or countryside, or even steady rain with a thunderstorm. More typically, they offer white noise and fan sounds that can focus your attention off distractions.

They can be used to induce sleep, and to prevent being prematurely woken up. Common issues include noisy traffic, a constantly barking dog in the neighborhood, paper-thin walls where you hear your neighbor’s TV, or even people walking on wood floors directly above you.

If your spouse snores, they can help by blocking it out sufficiently to fall asleep without having to wear earplugs or earphones.

If you suffer from tinnitus, they can relieve you from self-distraction while trying to fall asleep. Sometimes, people even find the systems helpful when they are attempting to study, or use their computer extensively.

Finally, sound systems can be immensely helpful while travelling, such as spending a night in a noisy motel. Outside sounds may be reasonable, but your unfamiliarity with the neighborhood and surrounding can make you too uncomfortable to easily relax and fall asleep.

We have chosen a couple of exceptionally effective sleep machines for review: the LectroFan White Machine, including various fan sounds, and the Adaptive Sound Technology Sleep Machine with automatically adjusting volume levels to counter ambient sounds, along with a variety of nature sounds to provide variety.

Let’s take a closer look at each sound sleep machine separately, and what you might like or dislike about each of them.​

Pros and Cons of ‘LectroFan’ White Noise Sleep Machine

best white noise machine

Let’s go over the PROS first:

  • Simple to operate - 3 buttons total.
  • 20 white noise sound choices to block noises: 10 white noise options and 10 fan sounds.
  • This sound machine does not use recordings that play on the loop; it generates them while in motion. This makes the sounds more realistic, and the brain accepts them as real. Therefore, it makes the white noise machine more effective.
  • White noise sounds increase in pitch, so you can go through them and identify the one that will drown out the sound that is causing you not to fall asleep. They also block sounds like TV playing in another room, neighbor conversations, construction noises, barking dogs and many other air traveling sounds.
  • You can adjust the volume, based on your liking.
  • You can set the timer for 60 minutes (for each sound). If you don’t use a timer, it will run all night.
  • The sound is constant. It has no interruption or gaps of silence between track(s). Consistency creates a real soundproof wall between the disruptive noises and your peace.
  • You will no longer need to tip-toe and shush everyone when your baby is asleep. The steady sound will block most noises.
  • Great to take on business trips when you need a clear head the next morning.

CONS that might matter to you or not:

  • There is no way to tell if you have set the 60-minute timer on or off. It would be a useful feature to have.
  • It is portable, but you can’t unplug the cord from the machine, and the cord, itself, is on the short side. Sometimes when traveling, this can be an issue if the outlet is farther away.
  • There is a slight speaker feedback (if you have an ear for it) when the volume is turned up beyond Level 5.
  • Return policy - 30 days.

Advantages and Disadvantages of ‘Adaptive Sound Technologies’ Sleep Sound Machine

sleep sound machine online

Significant advantages of this sleep machine:

  • High-end sound system that adjusts volume automatically based on noise levels in your environment, so you don’t have to be annoyed by manually adjusting your volume. The volume will turn up even when a loud car passes by and then will lower itself.
  • It has both white noise and fan sounds, plus other high-definition soothing sounds of nature that can come in handy when meditating or relaxing.
  • High Fidelity speaker with a total of 30 different sounds that never loop or repeat themselves, and with no gaps in between, which make the system effective in ensuring uninterrupted sleep.
  • The only system that allows you to adapt the richness of your sound by layering your sounds one on top of the other, where you can, for instance, add seagull sounds on top of an ocean sound.

A couple of disadvantages of this sleep machine:

  • The sound card tends to create a static sound that pops up here and there after a few months of constant use. Ask manufacturer to replace / send you a new sound card if you run into this issue.
  • Return policy is only 30 days (depending on where you purchase it). Keep in mind that, if you purchase this item through Amazon, their return policy will allow you to return this item for a full refund should you be dissatisfied.

To Sum It Up – How Much is Your Sleep Worth To You?

One night of bad sleep… eh, we can muscle it. But, if this continues night after night… it begins impacting us on all levels: mentally, physically and emotionally.

Deep, relaxing, rejuvenating sleep is one of the great rewards of life that costs us nothing but our time. Sleep is a huge consolation in life that can re-energize us sufficiently in the morning to face any challenge.

Today, the cost of purchasing a sleep machine is negligible, but it can be a major enhancement in the overall quality of your life. It is too easy to feel victimized by petty distractions that need not keep you down. You owe it yourself to be at your best. Getting the perfect machine for you can save you many hours and entire nights of discomfort and weariness.

We wish you success in finding the right system for you, and encourage you to take a close look at the two machines we reviewed. We welcome your comments, which might be of great help to other Conscious Owls.​

spiritual teacher
Dec 05

Do I Need a Guru To Find Myself?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

If you follow the news closely, it is only a matter of time before you find another guru, or spiritual master, caught up in some kind of scandal, whether sex, money, booze or drugs… sometimes altogether in one man (not so often with women).

Does it even make sense any more to seek enlightenment or find yourself through another human being? Isn’t it better to read books and do exercises on your own? Perhaps take a stroll in the woods or a walk by the beach.

Why would you want to be next in line to play being a sucker?​

What Does the Word “Guru” Really Mean?

“Guru” actually means “dispeller of darkness” or torchbearer, the person who casts light on a situation. It originated in India to describe a rishi, or life mentor, who leads young men to find their role as Brahmins and achieve self-realization, or in the case of Buddha, awakening.

Guru has grown to mean a deep expert in any subject or domain who embodies his or her field. You can ask her any question about her subject, and she will have a ready answer. More importantly, she will help you solve your problems and give you perspective on any relevant issue.

Guru means mastery, and it suggests a human being much like you who became world-class in a subject area and who has learned how to apply his expertise in any situation. He is not just a brain, but has a heart of compassion.​

He will do whatever is necessary for you to “get” the crucial insights you need for your growth or awakening.

Guru versus Pundit

India makes a major distinction between pundit and guru. A pundit is an intellectual who has a vast amount of knowledge in a certain field such that he has become an authority, a thought leader. People tend to go to him for the last word. For example, Dr. Deepak Chopra has established this position worldwide in the relationship between mind and body.

A guru has a mastery of the subject, but is focused primarily on applying the wisdom and insights into life circumstances and helping youth discover who they ultimately are, as well as what their individual dharma or destiny is in this life. A guru means business, and is accountable to, and for, his disciples.

Often you will find pundits who are intellectual geniuses and emotional morons.

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In mysticism and spirituality, you will find Ph.D.’s who have no clue what it is really all about, but who have amassed a ton of thoughts, ideas and facts. Sometimes even gurus fall into this trap, in which case it is very costly for their disciples.

quality guru

States versus Stages

Ken Wilbur has done pioneering work clarifying the fundamental distinction between states and stages, especially with regard to enlightenment.

States can shift rapidly from moment to moment, while stages are all about growth and typically take long amounts of time. You can have a mind-blowing revelation, but be an infant in your ability to assimilate that insight into your character and personality.

More to the point, the stage of growth you are at determines the way you interpret mystical experiences. A religious fundamentalist will arrive at a vastly different interpretation of Christ, for example, than an interfaith universalist. His perspective may be right for him at that stage, but of very limited helpfulness outside his own immediate circle.

The problem comes when you have a traditional guru with brilliant insights, but with a traditional or modern perspective who has yet to reach a pluralistic or integral level of understanding of reality. He has the only true way, and everyone else is wrong. That’s just too bad for the rest of us!

The Guru Always Comes When You Are Ready

Baba Ram Dass, more than anyone else, opened up a whole generation of people, including the likes of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc.

Ram Dass got people to appreciate the unique value of an authentic guru in realizing the ultimate truth. He had the great fortune to find a true saint and extraordinary master with uncanny powers who manifested miracle after miracle.

Ram Dass maintained in his masterpiece, Remember Be Here Now, that the guru always appears when you are ready for him or her. You could meet a spiritual genius, but totally miss the point until you were ready.​

The guru always appears when YOU are ready!

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One of the fascinating things about the way the Buddha taught was that he saw the full potential of any person for that particular incarnation. Siddhartha would speak to that man or woman from where he or she was in that phase of life.

compassionate guru

In Ram Dass’s case, there was no way that he could have predicted how and when he would meet his master, Maharaji.

However, it is very clear that his extensive experimentation with psychedelics paved the way.

Ram Dass (Dr. Richard Alpert) became totally clear that his earlier model of reality was totally inadequate to explain these new experiences.​​ Hence, he took the plunge to journey to the East, starting with Nepal.

At first he was thinking Lama’s, but an unexpected encounter with Bhagavan Dass, a young American led him to climb down the mountains to the Himalayan foothills and discover the magic of a little old man in a blanket.

The True Guru Is Always Within You

Ram Dass went on to emphasize that the true guru is entirely on another plane, that the inner guru is more fundamental than the outer guru.

The man or woman you meet who plays the role of guru with you could be considered a materialization of your inner quest.  It is like the question you ask determines the answer you get.

finding guru

I have had intriguing discussions with a friend who has been close to Swami Nithyananda, a highly accomplished spiritual master with extraordinary psychic powers and an extensive international following.

The problem was that a few years back, Nithyananda got caught up in a dreadful sexual scandal with an Indian actress, and even got himself arrested in the process.

My friend maintains that Nithyananda is completely innocent. I accept the possibility that high profile people, thinking of stars like Michael Jackson, can easily be framed. However, I wanted my friend to consider that while his relationship with Nithyananda may be precious to him, the ultimate guru lies within him.​

How to Know If You Have the “Right” Guru

Mariana Caplan, a cultural anthropologist and spiritual seeker, describes in her study, Do You Need a Guru?: Understanding the Student-Teacher Relationship in an Era of False Prophets... how she went to over a dozen accomplished gurus around the world and had many escapades.

They put her through all kinds of exercises and occasionally asked her sexual favors. Mariana admonished her readers to get into the guru business with open eyes.

Key questions to ask yourself include:​

  • Is my prospective guru placing a high pricetag on his services?
  • Is my prospective guru claiming that everyone alike must take his training?
  • Is my prospective guru claiming that he, alone, has the Truth, and you must follow his way or be damned?
  • Is my prospective guru all wrapped up in siddhi’s or powers, as opposed to love and compassion?
  • Is my prospective guru offering a cheap, instant salvation with nothing whatsoever required of me?
  • Does my prospective guru have a dubious reputation, and does he evade this issue when anyone has the presumption to ask?
  • Does my prospective guru trash every other guru as having missed the point?
  • Does my prospective guru make me uptight and defensive, as opposed to feeling truly at home?

If any of these questions are in the affirmative, you may want to consider moving on, and never giving up on your quest. In one area, Paramahansa Nithyananda is absolutely right. If you completely fall in love with a guru, then you know that he is the right person for you… at least at the time.

Whatever you do, remember to keep looking within to discover your own ultimate truth.​

yoga meaning in sanskrit
Dec 02

The Inner Meaning of Yoga

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Be still. Know “I AM."

Psalm 46:10

You may have noticed an explosion of Hatha Yoga lately. PM Modi, the charismatic Prime Minister of India, recently toured the world and got the United Nations to declare an “International Day of Yoga.”

Modi’s enthusiasm for the practice is such that his cabinet members are literally bending over backwards to get with it, as overweight as they might be.

We now see prime athletes, stars, musicians, models and mature men and women all enthusiastically embracing the elegant postures, including international yoga retreats, high-profile events, such as working out in Times Square and doing postures in exotic places, such as on top of mountains in national parks.

inner yoga meaning

Is this all just about losing weight, relaxing, gaining poise and balance and improving one’s medical condition? Or is there a deeper quest for peace, maybe even enlightenment?​

How I Got Into Yoga

Many years ago when I was in college, I had a tough time sleeping at night while studying history at Cal Berkeley. I was reading and writing literally 10 hours or more a day, even going to the libraries on Saturday, and sometimes even on Sundays.

Fortunately, I walked into all kinds of counter-cultural influences, such as TM, the Krishna People (ISKCON) and Hatha Yoga instructors.​

Taking a work-study program during one of the summers, I had the privilege of working with an exceptional lady, Mildred Henry, who eventually became a college president. Millie and my student colleagues suggested that I look into yoga.

Knowing my original fundamentalist background, they suggested I look into Christian yoga. However, I insisted on “the real thing,” and thus picked up a picture book from Kriyananda, who founded Ananda Village, a direct disciple of the great Paramahansa Yogananda.​

I actually worked out in the office conference room, minus my shoes. I burst out laughing when I came across the photo of Kriyananda bent like a pretzel crying out, “I am HE, blissful spirit. I am HE!”.​

yoga definition

Later in college, I started classes at the local YWCA with Jonathan Pinski, a computer programmer who had a very clean yoga routine that refined my technique to the point of being passable… I could bend my knees into half lotus posture.

Jonathan used deep breathing techniques, we all went into the corpse pose and chanted “AUM” at the end.

These classes led me to his friend, Zachary Frank, who had just come back from India. Zach had donned the Hindu name, “Ponderangu Das,” and dressed like a fakir, complete with turban and robes. Pondi introduced me to isolation yoga and started talking to me freely about his experiences in that enchanted land, leaving me with a piece of fruit whenever I visited him.

How Yoga Led Me To a Direct Experience of Enlightenment

Later on, after I left school and started working, Pondi introduced me to the then-fashionable est training, advising that the form of the instruction had nothing to do with Hinduism, but the enlightenment experience at the end had everything to do with it.

At the time, it was all very controversial, but fueled by such celebrities as John Denver, Goldie Hawn and Valerie Harper.

I jumped into the two-week training in a hotel out by the Bay in much like a classroom environment where the trainer got us to agree to stringent rules, such as not leaving your seat apart from official breaks.

He then got into how our lives didn’t work, and we were all trapped by our self-righteous attitudes. The training was brilliant, and people opened up in ways I had never before seen, not even in encounter groups.​

On Day Four, the trainer did the “Anatomy of the Mind,” and showed us how we were all trapped into our monkey mind that seemed to take command of our every thought and action.

This might seem problematical to some, but when you actually watch other participants utterly dominated by their minds for 60 hours, you begin to open up to a new possibility.

The only way was to surrender to your mind. You were never going to control it. It had total command value over you.

This is IT! There is nothing to get,” whispered the trainer in my ear in the second weekend.

Suddenly I got it.

The “me” controlled by mind was not the true me. The real me was witnessing it all. #Consciousness

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I was passing through a hurricane and suddenly arrived in the inner eye, which was totally calm. I am in heaven, and THIS is what it looks like!

The Inner Meaning of the Word “Yoga”

“Yoga” actually means yoke, as in yoking oxen together. When Jesus Christ claimed, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” He was actually drawing upon that image.

The deeper meaning in the Vedic tradition is being yoked, or united, with God.​

Yoga is a system that unites body, heart, mind and spirit into a larger identity. “Yoga” moves from being something you DO to something you ARE.

Yoga, the World’s Oldest Living Spiritual Tradition

Yoga may be the world’s oldest spiritual system, underlying both Hinduism and Buddhism, and quite possibly all great religious traditions.

yoga benefits

Statues have been found of figurines in a lotus posture nearly 10,000 years old. Hindus claim that their tradition goes back as far as 30,000 years, possibly the time of the “gods,” like Rama, Krishna and Shiva.

Yoga has eight limbs, like the eight-fold path of Buddhism.

The first two focus on being straight in your life and refraining from causing injury to any sentient being (“ahimsa”).​

Then the emphasis goes upon body posture, breathing and channeling energy up the spine to the crown chakra, just above the skull. The focus on posture, breathing and energy is the chief concern of hatha yoga, which is seen as a prep for prolonged meditation.​

hatha yoga

Hatha Yoga is only half of Raja Yoga, or royal yoga, which includes four limbs having to do with deep meditation that can lead you to merge with the Infinite. 

Often a mantra, or sacred syllable is used to camouflage the monkey mind.

Chanting helps as well, sometimes even sacred singing, or bhajan. The last four limbs progress from withdrawal of the senses to total absorption to the point where there is only THE ONE. No distinctions. This is considered the supreme enlightenment.

How You Can Make Yoga Your Spiritual Practice

Some gurus and yoga masters bitterly decry America’s focus on the physical aspects of yoga, which is now recognized as our fasting growing “sport.”

They feel it is defacing a sacred culture and constitute a wholesale sell-out to materialism. For example, there are schools and practices that eliminate all the Sanskrit vocabulary, and substitute common English words. (The postures were mostly named after animals in the Indian forest. The ancient Rishi’s literally imitated their movements.)​

My experience is quite different.

inner peace

Any form of yoga can lead you inward without your even being aware of it, or the teacher mentioning a single word.

For example, Rodney Yee, a Chinese American and form ballet dancer, has a no-nonsense approach, but he always bows and says “Namaste!” at the end, crediting his original teacher, BKS Iyengar.​

You can catch Rodney Yee on DVD. He has a great flow and sequence for beginners (especially, if your body is stiff and not as flexible). This is a great way to start your day!

If you just follow along, usually to music and gorgeous natural scenery, you will find your whole nervous system opening up, even though he is entirely focused on your making graceful movements and realizing the full potential of each posture.

If you will just get started, you may find yourself being pulled to a more spiritual approach. Many teachers today still use the Sanskrit names for the posture, and enthusiastically teach vegetarianism, meditation, breathing and Self-Realization.

They may include chimes, gongs, incense and sacred music. One interesting approach is Jivamukta out of New York City, by David Life and Sharon Gannon, a couple of disciples of the Indian master, Pattabhi Jois.

You can get started today by paying attention to the spiritual elements of the yoga movements, such as deep, conscious breathing, awareness of all the muscles in your body, surges of energy up and down your spine, and chant, incense and salutations, such as Namaste!

If your instructor isn’t into this sort of thing, look around. Nowadays, there are plenty of yoga studios and teachers around.

Through careful movements and stretching, yoga will help you get rid of stiffness that keeps your body constrained, as well get rid of toxins through some healthy sweating. And the final reward is... your inner calmness or inner peace that will allow you to connect with your true self.

When you get the ultimate flash, “I AM,” cherish it, for you have just touched God, and God has just touched you.

spanda definition
Nov 30

Spanda: How Conscious Energy Awakens You

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Kashmir is the most gorgeous spot on earth, wedged between India and Pakistan in the shadow of the mammoth Himalayan mountain range, complete with towering trees and sparkling lakes adorned with picture perfect houseboats.

Here we find a dynamic confluence of three great religions: Tantric Buddhism, Shaivite Hinduism and Mystical Islam. Over a thousand years ago in these gorgeous hills, the entire universe was reconceived in terms of pure consciousness, a delightful interplay of divine energy in perpetual bliss.​

Spanda: The Pulse of Creation

Kashmir Shaivism added a whole new dimension to Hinduism, envisioning all of creation as an eternal dance of pure being, consciousness and bliss, not at rest, but forever flowing. God is seen more as a verb than a noun.

Everyone and everything is perpetually vibrating. What seems to be stationary is actually moving, and what seems still is subtly moving.​

spanda vibration

It so happens that this resonates deeply with contemporary physics, with its interstellar relativity, quantum waves and bubbling strings of pure energy. Here, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Brian Greene all shake hands.

Our bodies are constantly quivering, with every one of our systems and cells, every molecule, every atom, every subatomic particle.​

We are dancing in and out of existence millions of times per second.  #ConsciousOwl

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Awakening is the motion of conscious energy out of sleep. To move is life. To freeze is death.

Shiva/Shakti: The Eternal Interplay of Masculine and Feminine

Shiva is the god of destruction and transformation, forever changing things. He is formless in His form. Shiva can sit in lotus posture for a thousand years and move the universe with His dreams.

spanda-karikas

His stunning consort is Shakti, who moves Him and inspires Him to dance. Shiva and Shakti are always found together. You won’t find one without the other.

Shiva is the ultimate archetype of pure consciousness, and Shakti is the ultimate archetype of divine energy. Shakti gives rise to Shiva, and Shiva gives rise to Shakti. The whole point of sitting down in calmness is to have a place out of which to arise in energetic movement.​

Our Father is the Spirit within and beyond the Universe. Our Mother is the Universe, itself. All form is feminine. The intelligence behind it is masculine. Masculine and feminine are totally interdependent. Man is not complete without woman, and woman without man. The two merge and become one.​

The Inner Meaning of Genesis

When we read that God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” this is a myth in the truest sense of the word. It expresses with poetry what cannot be expressed nearly as well any other way.

God’s language is that of spanda vibration, which He doesn’t need lips to utter. God spoke us into being, and we were. We are in the Mind of God, and our only True Self is God, Himself.

What is not said in that text is that God is continually creating the world. He upholds us in every moment. As Saint Paul put it to the classical Athenians, “For in Him, we live and move and have our being.”

Every heartbeat, every breath we take is solely by the grace of God. We are His play, and also the play in which He participates. A story, a dance, a play, a movie, these metaphors most closely approximate life.

In the beginning, everything that God created was good; in fact, it was perfect. Everything was on the level of pure being, before we got all caught up in contrast and differentiation.

Then, in order to move the plot forward, we chose to forget Who We Are, and thereby set up the divine love story we live out today.

Kundalini: The Sacred Serpent Up the Spine

In yoga, you mobilize energy to awaken. You proceed through a dynamic set of postures that stimulate the glands and get you into the flow of things. You can then rest perfectly still in meditation and watch the movement of your mind, the flow of consciousness.

As you progress, you begin to stimulate the base energy, the coiled serpent, up through the seven major energy vortices, where you enjoy an ever increasingly refined perception of reality.​

You move out of dualism and a narrow self-orientation to your larger Self that contains the whole Universe. When the energy finally reaches the crown chakra, just above the skull, you merge into unitive consciousness.​

First you see others, then only God, and then there is only The ONE, the eternal dance.​

To Find Spanda Vibration OR To Find God… Play

Kashmir Shaivism invites us to play. God is no longer a rigid patriarch on a golden throne far removed from human affairs, but more like a loving four-year-old Who asks us to come out and play. In fact, He is as much She, as He.

A 20th Century pope declared that if God has gender, then He is more like a woman than a man.

Sexual play is no longer taboo. Intercourse is an act of creation. You look into the woman, you look into the man, and see YOU creating ME creating YOU creating ME. We frolic in a perpetual game of Hide-and-Go-Seek, God hiding from God, all in jest.

People never think of it this way, but Jesus Christ in His early ministry was a consummate party-goer, there was nothing He enjoyed more. In the marriage in Canaan, as His first recorded miracle, He transforms the water into wine. So also with Buddha and Muhammad.

The sacred is the joyful, not the morose. Place a smile on their faces. Put a smile on your own. #ConsciousOwl

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Join in the Dance of Pure Consciousness

Today, you can experience forever the spanda, the pulse of creation, in a dance. You can find a partner, or dance all by yourself. You can do ballet, modern or flash dance. Consciously move your body around. See. Hear. Feel.

Experience it all on the deepest levels. Have a blast! There is truly nothing more spiritual.​

heaven description
Nov 09

Is Heaven for Real?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

St. Paul

Several decades back, I was one of three people who stood up in my transformational training and said that I knew that I didn’t get it. My trainer smiled, ran over to me and whispered in my ear, “This is it. There is nothing to get.”

​I was baffled, and then slowly it dawned upon me what he was really saying. This IS it, heaven, and THIS IS what heaven looks like.

Heaven as a Space

We are so conditioned to think that heaven is a place, looking up into the sky, or where we go when we die… if we are “good,” that we ignore the obvious. Heaven is most definitely a state of mind, a state of being.

Buddhism calls it enlightenment, or Nirvana, the cessation of all attachment and the sudden release into a state of total calm.

Hinduism sees it as realization of our true identity as Source, that we are ALL the Source in different disguises and the Source alone is who we are.

Christianity, as declared in the Sermon on the Mount, is a divine world order ruled by the law of love.

Islam sees it as fana, or annihilation of the false ego and awakening to the Supreme Identity as the All.

Each of these traditions sees heaven as a state of incomparable bliss. The Christian word “blessed” can be rendered, “Oh, how happy!”.

Whatever else we can say about heaven, if you don’t experience it for yourself, it is not heaven for you. It is almost like someone turning on the switch in a dark, enchanted room, and suddenly everything appears in all its glory.​

Heaven as a Place

It used to be thought that heaven was in the sky about two hundred miles above us, somewhere in the ionosphere, where we would find the throne of God surrounded by angels. This all changed when we realized that the earth was moving around the sun, and not the reverse. Today, the ultimate horizon of the known universe is about 60 billion light years away, and accelerating.

It used to be thought that you could physically reach heaven, perhaps with the ultimate rocket. However, the first Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, proudly claimed after being jettisoned into near space, “I saw no God.”

We could suppose that the idea was ridiculous until quantum physics revealed that there is really nothing out there in the normal sense, except mathematical ghosts and probability clouds, that what we experience as the universe is actually a construct.

There is nothing to observe without an observer.

Then an unexpected series of discoveries changed everything: Near Death Experiences (NDE). Modern medicine became highly successful at keeping people alive, and resuscitating them after they had flatlined. In the last several decades, millions of people have had such experiences, and the information is now being pooled together to offer a compelling scenario.

experiencing heaven

We find people of all kinds having similar experiences, arising above their bodies and hearing and seeing everyone around them without opening their eyes. They then go through a tunnel of the Great White Light and see loved ones in an idyllic environment. Often, they are given a chance to return to their lives in the world, as their time has not yet come.

Heaven as Another Dimension

Recently, we have been challenged by several exceptional people, starting with Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, who suffered from a very rare and severe form of meningitis, much like a stroke, that flatlined his brain for nearly a week. Eben was on life support the whole time. His surgeons concurred that if he ever came out of it, he would be a vegetable.

A week later, Eben’s son called to him, and the father gradually awakened. Initially, Eben forgot everything, but eventually all his memory came back, and he was completely healed.

Eben describes his experience in Proof of Heaven and Map of Heaven. He recounts the afterlife experience in glowing terms, the most beautiful music beyond anything he could imagine, with angels, clouds, butterflies and a deceased sister guiding him along that he didn’t even know had already passed away. Eben felt total acceptance there, an overwhelming love and acceptance beyond anything he had ever experienced, even his mother.​

Anita Moorjani, popularized by the late Wayne Dyer, has had a New York Times bestseller, Dying to Be Me, after she slipped into a coma after all her organs began shutting down. Anita then underwent an NDE, after which she came out and her body was totally healed in a few days from end-stage lymphoma.​

Anita is emphatic about the experience of absolute, unconditional love which pervaded her. This love carried over to her daily life, where she became much more accepting of people than she can ever remember.

Colton Burpo was a three-year-old in 2003 when he suddenly underwent emergency surgery. While he initially flatlined, he eventually came out of it. Colton then began accurately describing events and people he had no way of knowing about, such as an unborn sister miscarried by his mother. His father, Todd, was a pastor in a Mid-West church.

This little boy claims to have personally met Jesus on a rainbow horse. His father’s book, Heaven is for Real, sold over 10 million copies and a biopic by Sony Pictures released in 2014 earned over $100 million at the box office.​

Could it be that our three- (or four) dimensional world is only one possibility among many others?​

heaven meaning

If so, it is not quite so absurd to imagine a man rising into the sky and going to heaven. Perhaps, if you can lock into another dimensional framework, you can get there instantaneously.

How to Bring Heaven on Earth

The ultimate challenge we all face while here on earth is to accept things as being the way they are, and then realizing the hidden perfection of it all.

It is perfect that anything in your life, including all the things you label “bad,” such as losing a job, losing a mate or losing all the money you have, are ultimately perfect when you step back and take in the Big Picture.

It is also perfect that things be ANY OTHER WAY. We live within a field of Infinite Possibility. The first step is to stop resisting what you are stuck with and start opening up a new “reality.”

It is certainly time for all humanity to awaken to the invitation of Jesus Christ in His greatest sermon to start loving your enemies. Jesus mentions the love of God like the sun that forever shines, hidden only by the clouds, or like the rain that falls upon “good” and “bad” people alike. He enjoined His students to do likewise.

Is it possible that we could start a revolution of this magnitude in our generation, and love everyone we encounter no matter what the circumstances? It all starts within. When you invoke that Transcendent Love, you will find it well up inside you and start to overflow.

To transform the planet, to enlighten all humanity, it all starts with just three words:

I LOVE YOU!

vision quest journey
Oct 31

Vision Quest: The Truth At Any Price

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret… Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors — the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our [chiefs], and is written in the hearts of our people.

Chief Seattle

Our Shamanic Heritage

Wherever we gaze, wherever we walk, we tread on the sacred ground of our ancestors, all the millions of people, like Chief Seattle, who have gone on before us, paving the way for today’s global society.

In North America, twenty million indigenous people occupied every state and territory long before the Europeans arrived. Today, only a couple of million in the continental United States still survive, and they easily represent 100 or more separate nations, their names left in landmarks around the country, such as Lake Huron.

The way of the Shaman for primal people, those who still live by hunting and gathering, is comparable to the role of the priest and prophet in the great religious traditions. Only the Shaman has no Bible but creation, itself, and sees the entire world as a natural revelation of the Great Spirit, with every plan and animal filled with divine spirit.​

native american vision quest

The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell, with his classic, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and his series of interviews with Bill Moyers, Power of Myth, caught the imagination of an entire generation of young Americans, such as the filmmaker, George Lucas, disillusioned by the futility of the War in Vietnam. Campbell celebrated the hero across civilizations, with a very special love for Native Americans.

Campbell pointed out that we are all heroes in our own way, having survived the trauma of birth.​

He went on to discuss the process of growing up, from helpless infancy to mature adult. He defined the hero as someone who leaves his community, and goes out into the wilderness to deal with the various elements and face his or her inner demons.

If successful, he will receive a boon, a revelation, a profound spiritual insight that he can bring back to share with his people.

This great teacher suggested that we all study the ancient myths, as well as the stories of traditional civilization. He showed, for example, how the lives of the Buddha and Jesus Christ ran in close parallel, with both of them leaving their comfort zone, going out into the wilderness, facing temptation, and triumphantly returning to their people as world teachers, spiritual masters who would have an incomparable impact on humanity down through the ages.​

Related article:   Why Your Journey In Life Matters

The Vision Quest

In this turbulent era of climate change and global warming, we all need renewed inspiration if we are to successfully meet the unprecedented challenge they present and continue to flourish as a species.

It is strange that, in our post-modern, information age, we need to go all the way back to the primal sensibilities of the early hunters and gatherers who first left the tropical forest, the Garden of Eden, to replenish the earth after the Ice Age and the Great Flood.

Native Americans had a rite-of-passage that helped boys become men, preparing themselves for the hunt. This entailed taking them out into the forest a day’s journey with knife, spear or bow and arrow, and leaving them there to fend for themselves.​

lifelong journey

After several days or a week, the father would come back to see how well his son had fended for himself. If he survived, the father would congratulate his son on becoming a man.

The tribal chief had a similar process, as described in Black Elk Speaks, of going on a Vision Quest to find the truth for his people.​

Joseph Campbell vividly described his vision of seeing rainbow hoops, and how the Europeans would come into his land and change everything. Black Elk had the genius to know that his own sacred mountain, Harney Peak, was the center of his world, but that every mountain could be the center of another person’s world.

While the shamanic truth quest entails fasting and purification, and going out in the wilderness for days on end, asking the universe a single question, this process can be adapted to our own time, even in urban areas.​

How to Find Your Own Truth

Each of us will face a moment in our life when we will need to find answers that aren’t in a textbook, perhaps not even in someone else’s religious or philosophic vocabulary.

Easy explanations won’t due.

Perhaps it is a sudden turn of career, resulting in the loss of the best job you ever had. Perhaps it is the sudden loss of a spouse, either by death, or by a series of intractable arguments that make no sense whatsoever looking back.

During such times, you need to get away and be by yourself. You need to get in tune with nature, and find God within in your own way.​

vision quest examples

You want the forest and the sea to speak intimately with you. You want to arrive at a heart-felt understanding of who you are as an individual, and of your ultimate destiny.

While it is possible to do something like the traditional Vision Quest with Native Americans in magical places like Sedona, Arizona, it is also possible to structure a much simpler process.

The key is to find a way to drop out of your daily routine and be alone with yourself, while receiving necessary outside support. You may not need to buy a shamanic drum, take hallucinogens and go to a sweat lodge.​

  • Outward Bound:  This is an organization that supports people in taking wilderness trips to build their stamina and learn to trust themselves.
  • Ecotourism:  A whole new wave in creative holidays is now made possible, with places like Costa Rica and the island of Bali.
  • Vipassana Retreats:  This is a low-cost, low-risk alternative with maximum support. You just need a couple of weeks at your disposal to meditate in a cabin with food and supplies brought to you on a daily basis.
  • A Day of Silence:  Various gurus have recommended this as a fast way to realize the Self. You might make it a liquid fast and pass on TV, digital media and books. You might present a printed card to any friend who knocks on your door explaining what you are up to that day.

The most essential element in all this is that you WANT TO GET TO THE TRUTH and in the process, listen to your inner leader.

You are willing to do whatever is required. You want to discover your own mission, vision and message to the world. You are willing for your Creator to speak to you when and how He / She pleases.​

Ask and it will be given to you;

seek and you will find;

knock and the door will be opened to you.

Jesus Christ
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