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About Still_Waters

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  1. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    As usual, Steve, your posts are excellent. The Imagination approach is indeed quite worthwhile, and many do use that approach but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy in some cases as one can easily blur the boundaries between imagination and reality. However, the second stage of the practice, as described, is well-communicated as one would expect from the Dalai Lama. "But in the second stage of practice, ... you actually bring about such a dissolution, not just with imagination, but in terms of reality. You bring about such a dissolution, and at a certain level of this practice the clear light will manifest." Ironically, this was unexpectedly the subject of a discussion of a very similar nature last night with a Kabbalistic Hassidic Rabbi and his group in nearby Brooklyn. The terminology was different, of course, but the understanding of the process was virtually identical as this is a very common practice across the various traditions as I had mentioned here in the past. That is what prompted me to come back briefly to see how this thread was progressing if at all. As your post also noted, diet is very very important as well. That was discussed last night as well. Very good post ! Thanks for sharing ! You bring so much to this site.
  2. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    I love what you wrote and this indeed has become a very good thread for "rants". Although stream-of-consciousness discussions can sometimes seem a bit chaotic, a lot of good revelations often come from what might initially be perceived as tangential. I agree with you completely that a major part of spiritual growth is indeed related to our interactions and "our connections - with other people, our teachers and students, community, nature, and ourselves". In watching the thoughts and images that preoccupy us in dealing with others, one learns a lot about one's self and thus gains insights into how to maintain one's equilibrium even in the most trying of times. I actually like listening to alternative perspectives as you suggested --- both traditional and unorthodox --- as everyone seems to have a piece in the puzzle of life. I have discovered that one apparently irrelevant stream-of-consciousness comment can often prove to be a connecting link to resolving something for myself in particular and/or spiritual aspirants in general. However, as I have often said, I weary of theory without the theorist being able to translate the theory into a practice, to discuss results of that practice, and to indicate in some way how others can validate the theory. A common question in Zen "dharma battles" relates to how can one verify any theory or position that is presented. I may seem opinionated at times, but I do rely in many cases on direct verifiable experiences and stand firm on them. At other times, I state clearly and unequivocally when I am still in the process of investigating a theory which I have not yet confirmed via direct experience and welcome comments. Relating direct experiences is my way of demonstrating how I came to certain conclusions while others here have openly attributed that to wanting to talk about myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. What resonated most with me, however, was your statement: "I would love to see this place become more of a community, oriented towards mutual support and genuine camaraderie, rather than a warehouse of information, opinion, and ego. I can recall many instances of trying to offer some helpful information from an alternative perspective and meeting with nothing but denigration and criticism because my perspective didn't align with the "OP" or with a particular participant's paradigm or opinion." Reflecting on this, I thought about my own spiritual mentor and I don't think that this objective can be accomplished here on this site. My spiritual mentor would not discuss spiritual topics over the phone or in writing or even during face-to-face meals. She would only discuss spiritual matters from the dais when she had the undivided attention of all involved and could observe here-and-now reactions on every level. That is not possible here in an online forum. As I re-read that portion of your post, I started to wonder what I am doing here where direct experiences are denigrated while quoting dead gurus with no validation of theories has become the norm. I then shifted my focus and realized that, since I live in NYC, there are many high-quality SMALL groups that I attend here which, as you suggested, do constitute "more of a community oriented towards mutual support and genuine camaraderie rather than a warehouse of information, opinion, and ego." In those groups, we do exactly what I do here. We discuss practices, methodologies for validating theories under consideration, and any results of the practices. If some think that I am confrontational here, it is nothing compared to the challenging questions posed to all of us in our face-to-face meetings. Some very intimate details are raised which would likewise not be ideal in a forum like this where they would be exposed to denigrating ridicule. Having re-read your post, especially this part, I became resolved to go once again to four such meetings tomorrow (Thursday), Friday, Sunday and Tuesday as that is probably the best place for me based on what is either directly stated or implied above. Your stream-of-consciousness "rant" above on a seemingly tangential subject has triggered a realization in me which translated into action regarding where best to spend my time in the future. My sense is that some of the posters here will be delighted if not outwardly thrilled if I minimize my presence here in the future as I am now inclined to do. It's not about winning debates but in discovering Truth and, when someone demonstrates that my spiritual paradigm or practice has potential problems, then I change as I have done in the past. However, grandiose statements with no support other than the words of dead gurus is generally not what works best with me, as should be obvious to all now. Hence, I've decided to start minimizing time spent here if not eliminating it altogether but I may still wander in from time to time as there are posters here for whom I have the utmost respect and highly value their contributions with you being one of them.
  3. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    Acknowledged. Our positions are clear and well-defined. Feel free to ignore all of my posts, as you have duly indicated.
  4. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    I agree completely with what you wrote. Like yourself, "I have little interest in theory and intellectual understanding so debate doesn't turn me on. It's not my place to try and convince anyone of anything, just my option to make an offering if conditions seem favorable. " However, when some one denigrates a common practice by calling it a "myth", I respond very strongly as you have seen lest such people shake the foundations of those who are earnestly engaged in the practice. That's where I draw the line and will continue to draw the line there despite the "warnings" of that clique. Like Joe Miller and my own spiritual mentor, I can become quite ornery when that line is crossed but not quite as ornery as the consummate Joe himself. LOL Having said that, I hope that you do get the book about Joe Miller as he is probably the most outrageous, unorthodox mystic I've ever encountered. The stories in the book are absolutely hilarious and irreverently reverent in a most unique way. Joe was in vaudeville and was at heart an entertainer .. but what an entertainer ! He combined depth with humor and behaviors that would readily shake people out of their intellectualism. Joe enjoyed bursting into one of his wife's "Songs To Live By" from time to time. "Ignore the opinions of others. Let the rumors of your foolishness spread far and wide. None if it matters in the least. Busy yourself with the burning of all of the furniture in the house of the mind. When the job is finished, dynamite the foundations and bulldoze the lot." "Then, you'll be ready to meditate," he would remark afterward. In "conscious sleep", when practiced seriously and effectively, one burns all the furniture in the house of the mind and then dynamites the foundations and bulldozes the lot.
  5. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    In the book, "The Message of Our Time" (written by Pir Vilayat Khan about the life of his father, the Sufi Mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan), there is an entire chapter on "Die Before Death". Since what is written there has already been described in sufficient detail both in my posts and in those of others here relevant to conscious sleep, it should suffice to quote this one passage from the book. (Incidentally, I studied under Pir Vilayat Khan for two years and was able to discuss such subjects with him personally.) "If one is able to retain the continuity of consciousness over the border from the physical world to the dream and vice versa, one will practice dying before death. This is taught by the Sufis as a preparation for death rather like the Bardo Thodol (the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and the Egyptian Book of the Dead and other similar works. In fact, this is precisely what meditation is." It is good to see Jeff write that "it is possible to maintain awareness during sleep". Hopefully, OP and the cadre who follow him and who "love" everything he writes here will similarly conclude that "the Myth of Conscious Awareness in Sleep" is most assuredly NOT a myth at all but is in fact a very common practice among those who truly seek to know themselves. It baffles me that one who does not fully understand the three basic states of man (deep sleep, dream, waking) through direct observation and experience can even venture to claim knowledge of that which lies beyond other than to quote others. While second-hand information is most definitely useful as it spurs one on to investigate the Truth, it is clearly no substitute for actually validating the information and thus knowing for one's self through direct experience. It seems best at this point to proceed deeper beyond the basics and into the practice itself with those here who apparently do understand the process and the practice. "Conscious sleep" is obviously a preliminary practice that facilitates knowing one's self through the emergence of both conscious and unconscious tendencies during the dream formation process so that those conditioned tendencies/urges can be weeded out and one can become firmly established in that which lies beyond thoughts and images. Any comments on this subject would be most welcome. Continuing with "The Message of Our Time" since I'm on that subject now, legitimate questions regarding the process of validation are raised as one would expect. "But what proof do I have that the phantasmagoria of dreams is as real as physical matter? Dreams are elusive and evanescent like cloud formations, whereas the house is still there when I wake up in the morning. Actually, you can return to that dream house night after night. No doubt the most convincing answer is to be found in astral travel, because one can check whether the astral traveler saw the furniture in the place you changed it to in order to test him (although one could account for that by telepathy). But the astral traveler has a very definite experience of displacing himself in space, including sometimes a bird's eye view of the landscape." Although I have had sporadic verifiable experiences in "remote viewing" (a term that is widely used in scientific circles and one which I personally prefer to astral travel), I fully acknowledge that I cannot do it consciously at will. I readily concede that the mental aspects of the Cosmic Mind have commanded more of my attention than the physical. It should come as no surprise to many here that I attend a meditation group with senior members of the Edgar Cayce organization in order to glean whatever I can through unpublished documents regarding Cayce's experiences with the Akashic Records (the Book of Life, or whatever other terms one wishes to associate with the Cosmic Mind). Cayce, as everyone probably knows, is one of the most documented psychics of our time despite some of his predictions of the future being somewhat off. (One learns not to predict the dynamically unfolding "future", as my spiritual mentor advised me many years ago.) I've noticed that, once one perfects the practice of conscious sleep to at least some degree, the mind becomes firmly established in complete and utter silence for longer and longer periods of time. One can feel one's self soaring above the self-limiting little separatist gestalt commonly called the ego and into the metaphorical sky of consciousness. At first, one tries to navigate and explore. However, eventually, one realizes that one should just abide in that stillness and peace with no expectations for "results" until what is important is spontaneously revealed. In a future post, I may give a verifiable example of my first "remote mental activity" experience which stirred a skeptical me into taking action that ultimately saved a young man's life. It is my understanding now that whatever is important to be revealed --- whether it requires action or not --- will be revealed in the proper moment. Can I do this consciously? No. Does it happen? Yes. When it happens and action is required, the validity of the "remote mental activity" (for lack of better words) becomes evident. It is my understanding that this faculty is inherent in all who have a pure heart in that particular moment. Conscious sleep is therefore the gateway to greater possibilities that can be validated. This is in complete accordance with the "Thy Will Be Done" Principle from the Christian Lord's Prayer, as one connects with the "higher power" and acts unerringly in the best interests of the Totality with no ulterior motives and no expectation of a return. (Incidentally, as a side note to the Kashmir Shaivism adherents here, it would appear that this is actually very consistent with at least one aspect of that sect. "The Shaiva Siddhanta goal of becoming an ontologically distinct Shiva (through Shiva's grace) was replaced by recognizing oneself as Shiva who, in Kashmir Shaivism's monism, is the entirety of the universe ." In the manner described, one is thus inspired to act in the best interests of the greater Self which, in Kashmir Shaivism's monism, is indeed the entirety of the universe whether we call it Shiva or otherwise.) Any comments on this subject would be most welcome. P.S. I just ordered and received another book, "Meditation and the Bible" by Kabbalistic Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. I have read two of his books and his depth is incredible. He points out that there are only a limited number of ways to approach the mind in meditation, and that all traditions utilize virtually the same gamut of methodologies albeit with different symbologies. I've also read the book "Kabbalah" written by his disciple, Perle Epstein, who is a great-great----great descendant of the legendary Baal Shem Tov. In that book, the writings and sayings of great Kabbalists are presented with obvious parallels to the eastern traditions that we discuss on this site. (As I've said many times in the past, the major traditions at their deepest levels all seem to point in the same direction.) Rabbi Kaplan's book is presented as a "radical interpretation of the Bible" which focuses to a large extent on previously unpublished writings related to the elevated states of consciousness exhibited by the prophets. (Jeremias is actually my favorite in this respect as his well-documented prophecies were clearly fulfilled at the time of the Destruction of the First Temple and the subsequent Babylonian Captivity). Rabbi Kaplan's son still lives in Brooklyn and, after reading this latest book, I may try to get an audience with him to learn more about what he knows that was left unsaid.
  6. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    Perfect. It is good to hear you say that "it is possible to maintain awareness during sleep". Thank you.
  7. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    You might want to check out "The Great Song, the Life and Teachings of Joe Miller". He was an outrageous American mystic who rubbed shoulders with the best of them in his highly unorthodox manner and language. He referred to us all as "wild-assed sparks of the infinite" to give you an idea of his use of language. He didn't take any money for public speaking or private consoling. He spoke for free and would talk to anyone who was interested. Relevant to the topic at hand, there is a short chapter in the book on "Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep". He specifically states: "If you get to a point where you can keep your consciousness focused, you can go through the whole period of falling asleep, dreaming, , deep sleep and back awake again without losing that consciousness. Now, when you can do that, you're cooking on the big burner." Joe was well known in spiritual circles for his outrageous behavior. At the Masonic Auditorium, Krishnamurti asked a purely rhetorical question about love. Joe boomed an irreverently reverent answer down from the rafters. At the Herbst Theater, he hollered something at Ram Dass. Ram Dass closed his eyes, let the eruption of sound cascade through him and smiled warmly, saying "Hello, Joe." Once after an empowerment, Joe challenged the formidable Chogyam Trungpa. When Joe tried to decline a gift (of flowers) and give the flowers back to him (Muktananda), Muktananda said, "No, one must always give offerings to a saint". Joe's life story is fascinating and his wisdom ranks among the best in a highly unorthodox manner. Joe's understanding was gleaned from many traditions but he considered Ramana's teachings to be the exquisite culmination of the quest, the penultimate expression of the divine wisdom for our age. Whenever he encountered a "REAL ONE", there would be a mystical , non-verbal exchange of energy, an understanding that flowed both ways. HOWEVER, if the atmosphere was stale, staid, phony or overly intellectual Joe would detonate one of his incendiary devices --- but his intent was to revivify, not destroy. In such cases, Joe would attempt to "rattle their cages", or seize the opportunity to show the audience something, and maybe send a shock wave through it. He didn't mind making of fool of himself if he could stir a few people on to look a little deeper. Since I have high respect for you based on what I have seen of your posts, I mention this so that you can now better understand why I responded so strongly to OP's completely ungrounded assertions presented as facts regarding "The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep". When some one initiates a thread openly characterizing a practice performed by many as a "Myth" while obviously knowing little or nothing about the practice, it cannot simply be skipped over. As Joe would most assuredly have done, one must "rattle their cages" and the cages of their entire intellectual clique lest they damage the practice of many who read their nonsense and thus associate their negativity with the practice. I have no concerns about being banned from this site for my strong comments. My spiritual mentor was excommunicated from a Shankaracharya order for advocating female equality and debated her position so successfully in the public forum that the order requested her to return. She refused since she did want to go back to that nonsense. Like Joe and my spiritual mentor, I feel likewise. I have noticed subsequent posts by OP and noted that one poster characterized one of those posts as "juvenile". I, however, have decided to give the kindest and most charitable response possible --- NONE. Let everyone here decide for themselves whether conscious awareness in sleep is a myth or not. So be it.
  8. A few years ago, when my niece was teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, I decided to go visit her in Korea. She asked me if I would like to spend a couple of days at the monastery of the Grand Zen Master, the Golgul Temple, in Gyangju (South Korea). I jumped at the opportunity but her e-mail request was rejected with the simple statement that the Temple did not accept tourists. When I followed up with a description of my background, however, we got an immediate welcome e-mail to which we responded in the affirmative. Since my visit was at the time of the Korean New Year, the students were given time off for the holidays. At the monastery during our visit, there were subsequently a number of young children whose ages seemed to range from about 8 or 9 to the teens and older. We hung out with one monk in particular whose English was excellent and who was explaining in detail some of the activities at the Temple. One experience that I have never forgotten was watching these young kids being instructed in self-therapy using mindfulness meditative techniques which were very consistent with one of the prevailing therapies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in the United States therapeutic community. (CBT is actually based somewhat on Buddhist mindfulness techniques.) Having a clinical social work background myself (in addition to my primary corporate career), I was able to discuss what I saw with therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. All were duly impressed with what these youngsters were doing and, when I mentioned this on another thread, it was suggested that this be written up in more detail in a separate thread. That is what I am doing now. Using the ABC terminology of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, this is what I observed. The youngsters would identify an Activating Event (A) in their lives that had an unsatisfactory Emotional Consequence (C) which had clearly created unwanted difficulties for them either with family, teachers, friends, or others. They would then go into meditation to discover the Underlying Belief (B) that had triggered the sequence of actions in the aftermath of the Activating Event. They were uncannily insightful in identifying the thought behind the action as well as the thought behind that thought and so on. They were equally insightful in how to adjust the Underlying Belief (B) to ensure a healthier, more satisfactory Emotional Consequence (C). Monks would assist them in their endeavors but NOT as therapists. The monks were available as sounding boards and counselors whenever the youngsters encountered obstacles that they were having difficulty overcoming. In listening to the youngsters discuss their findings with the monk, who was translating into English for me, I was really impressed with their insights into the thought processes that were translating into problematic actions as well as their insights into how to address the situation. Since I only sat in on a few of the consultations (probably with the more accomplished youngsters), I could not assess overall results but what I saw from the kids, especially the ones under 10 years old was truly remarkable by western therapeutic standards. Being connected to the therapeutic community in NYC, it was very reassuring to hear very positive comments about this eastern venture into what is essentially self-therapy training for youngsters at a very early age. On another note, the group meditations at the monastery followed a more traditional pattern. We awoke at 4 AM to the sound of a stick tapping near our sleeping quarters. If that did not wake us up, a LOUD GONG could be heard at about 4:10 AM that would wake anyone up. By 4:30 AM, everyone assembled at the Great Meditation Hall. Promptly at 4:30 AM, kirtan started and lasted for approximately 30 minutes. (Even though the language was Korean, it was easy to pick up the short mantra-like phrase that was used. In this manner, within 30 minutes, one's thoughts were reduced to one so that the one remaining mantra-thought could be more easily eliminated in order to enter the silence.) At 5 AM, the hall suddenly went into complete silence, as expected, for 30 minutes. At 5:30 AM, we all followed the monks up a short incline as we walked around in a circle until the head monk dispatched one monk to initiate the walking meditation through the wooded mountain area. About 10 feet later, he dispatched another monk who followed. One after another, he dispatched monks and disciples and the pattern became obvious. Follow the leader in sequence and in silence as we walked through nature in the outside world. One did not have to think about where to walk or what path to follow. In silence and without thoughts, one just followed the person immediately ahead of us. At 6 AM, the walking meditation ended at the dining area where we got on line and helped ourselves to a vegetarian breakfast. We ate in silence but could go back for more as needed. That was the morning routine and the silence was awesome for starting the day. That's probably enough to start this thread. I hope that some of this is helpful in some way to whomever may read this post.
  9. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    I was introduced to DeMello by a Jesuit priest who knew DeMello personally. Apparently, he is as impressive in person as he is in his eloquent, insightful writings. It would have been nice to have met him personally.
  10. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    I too would be interested in hearing Jeff comment more about his practice and a separate topic does seem appropriate. As you suggested, I too might start a separate thread about the young boys at the monastery of the Grand Zen Master in Gyongju, South Korea, whose practice I related to psychologists, clinical social workers, and even psychiatrists. They found the practice to be extremely advanced especially for kids who were under 10 years old. It was a form of meditative self-therapy very consistent with Buddhist mindfulness which, of course, is a guiding principle in the modern therapeutic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methodology.
  11. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    As you duly noted, one of the key aspects of Karma yoga is that one loses one's self (the little separatist self) in selfless service to others. Your statement is very concise but nonetheless very powerful.
  12. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    While your terminology may differ from that to which I am accustomed, I do recall a certain fear when initially experimenting with conscious sleep specifically in reference to "blowing out of the physical seed atom" (using your terminology) and wondering whether one can come back to the physical after experiencing the transcendental aspects of happening. There are recommended safeguards. Nonetheless, you are absolutely correct in saying that "I would make sure that you know what you're doing before crossing that bridge! " In the classic story about Shankaracharya leaving his body for an extended period of time (about a month) and entering the body of a king who had just died, he had completely forgotten about his previous body and his mission until the memory was awakened by hearing the chanting of his disciples. At that point, he consciously left the body of the king and returned to his body to resume the debate that had triggered this particular experiment. You raise a very good point, and I am sorry that I did not mention that earlier.
  13. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    That reminds me of a similar incident when I went to the Haridwar Kumba Mela in 1998. Since the ashram was still under construction, all of us slept on the temple floor in sleeping bags. My companions told me that I fell asleep quicker than the others and was snoring. They said that they were discussing whether to wake me up to stop the snoring that was interfering with them falling asleep. They reported that, while still "asleep", I responded as follows. "I am NOT (emphasized) snoring. (pause) Wait a minute. I will check. (pause) You are right. I am snoring. I will stop." At that point, they noted that the snoring had indeed stopped but that I was still obviously "sleeping". Like yourself, I enjoy using examples where others are involved as it adds a level of objectivity to the relating of the experience.
  14. The Myth of Conscious awareness in Sleep

    That is an awesome statement --- "With deep practice and insight there is the possibility of charitable action with no "self" or desire engaged." At that point, things "just happen" without even thinking. I concur completely. Also, I have had many discussions about altruism and , in most "charitable" activities, there does some to be some ulterior motives involved. I agree that, ordinarily, "most charity is not quite so selfless". As for Anthony deMello, I was surprised to see you quoting him. I have two of his books, "The Song of the Bird" and "One Minute Wisdom". Both contain lots of very short stories with wise, thought-provoking morals to each story. I would highly recommend both of them.