Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spiritual books inventory

I thought a post on the books I have read, am reading, wish to read would make up a good post. Also, in future posts, I would like to capture the essence of these books.
I will be continually modifying this blog as I read more and more books and I will also capture the essence of the books briefly below.

Books read:


1) The Complete works of Swami Vivekanada - An astounding book covering the vedantic philosophy of monotheism and eternal reality. Also covers the four prinicple yogas - Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Raja yoga in detail. Swami Vivekanada was a great spiritual leader and monk. His most famous quote is: "Arise, awake. Stop not till the goal is reached".

2) Conversations with God series (Neale Donald Walsch) which include several books: Book 1,2,3. Home with God. Communion with God. Friendship with God. Tomorrow's God. - A wonderful series.
Note, though this book is titled Conversations with God - this book is not affliated with any religion and it revolutionizes the idea of what a God is - God is more than a mere person - God is emptiness. God is the all in all. God is life and God is Change.

3) Soul stories by Gary Zukav - Simple life stories, but profound spiritual lessons - That's the essential theme of this book. The life stories are taken from the author's life but the author took the liberty to modify them as necessary.

4) Past lives, Future Growth by Armand Marcotte - See life through the eyes of an accomplished Psychic. I believe that we are all psychics. Many people cosider psychic powers to be otherworldly. But Psychic powers are something that can be as intrinisic as the power of sight, the power of speech or the power of hearing. It can basically be seen as a latent power.
The essence of this book is that many problems we face in life might be carried over from past lives. We live lives to understand who we are and basically remember who we are through life's various experiences. If we don't learn our lessons in one life, those lessons need to be learnt in subsequent lives.
The essential perspective is that life's trials and tribulations are lessons for us - lessons for developing our character, lessons to grow spiritually, lessons to realize who we truly are and what our true potential is. Some lessons not learnt in previous lives are therefore carried forth to subsequent lives and this is where Armand comes into the picture - He lets you know what is the lesson to be learnt from the trial you are undergoing. He is helped by his spirit guides as is described in the book.
A wonderful book - I suggest you read this book with an open mind and be open to the ideas in the book, which are more important.

5) Miscellaneous ebooks: There are many ebooks that I have read that gave me a good understanding of the essence of Hindu Philosophy. You can look for ebooks by Swami Sivananda, Vivekananda, Krishnananda. Hindu Philosophy and new-age spirituality have a lot in common.
Both agree on the oneness of life - the essence of all kinds of life forms - animals, humans, even inanimate objects such as rocks, pebbles, and mountains is the same. Interestingly, String theory in Physics also says that the fundamental unit of matter is "Energy"!!! These energy are represented through strings which vibrate at different rates. The different rates of vibrations totally decide the shape, density, colour and other characteristics of matter (objects) that we see around the world. What does this mean? Appearances can be deceptive. According to string theory, strings (Energy forms) are more fundamental than the elementary particles discovered by Quantum physics.
In this context of string theory and Quantum physics, I have a read called "Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku. I highly recommend this book for readers who are interested in the progress made by physics in the past few decades in the understanding of what matter is fundamentally made up of.

6) "Call" - I read this book at the udub book store today (June 5th 2008). It's a book that in very plain english explains how the author had his spiritual call. Everyone receives the call, only a few are aware of it, and fewer heed it. The book explores the type of calls one can receive and is a philosophical delight to read.

7) Songs of the soul - I read this book recently (June 2nd 2008). It's a basic but very foundational book in how one begins on the spiritual path.
The key concepts are forgiveness, unconditional love (this word is often the least understood word in our human experience), one-ness of beings. The all in all is verily the self. The self is verily unconditional love, total joy, and total freedom.
All these words are synonyms of the essence, the brahman, the atman, the tao, the chi, the prana, the father, the holy spirit, the jesus, the rama, the krishna, the GOD. In Art of living, I believe, there is an exercise where you say to the other person, "You belong to me". This is a practical expression of "We are all one".
Note, that this needn't be a metaphorical statement and it is not. The essence in everybody is the same, the energy that drives the universe is present in every sentient and non-sentient object and that energy is "who you really are".

8) Soul Traveler by Albert Taylor - Describes the experiences of Albert Taylor in astral travel. We are pure consciousness covered by layers of bodies - There is the physical body, the astral body, the causal body, and so on. Albert actually narrates through his experiences what it feels like to shed one body and assume another one.
Taylor highlights that although soul travel might seem like an extreme adventure, out of the world experience (literally), such experiences also come with a sense of responsibility.
Books in progress:


1) Joy of living: A wonderfully simple book that touches on the various aspects of meditation from a Buddhist perspective. What are the common pitfalls that a beginner faces. Strategies to regularize the meditation practice. Fruits of meditation. Some results of scientific tests on the benefits of meditation.

2) The power is within you by Louise HaY: Louise Hay writes the book with utter simplicity so as to make the book easily comprehendable. Through various examples and true stories she relates the power of affirmations. The essence of this book is "What you believe, you become". But my personal perspective is that affirmations alone are not enough to attain equanimity and peace of mind. Though affirmations can be used to supplement a core spiritual practice that involves some kind of meditation. On second thoughts, I realize that prayer is also a form of meditation and affiramations can fall in that category.

3) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi: A very powerful intellectual book that describes the conversations that the great being Sri Ramana Maharshi had with people who came to his Ashram during the early 1900's. Sri Ramana Maharshi is a proponent of 'Jnana Yoga'. The question "Who am I?" is fundamental to many of the conversations in the book. It takes a long time to go through the pages of the book since you can't just do a light reading. The recorded conversations make you think about your own identity during the process of reading.

Books to be read:


1) The Tibetan book of the Dead.
2) The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
3) New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
4) A rigorous study of upanishads. There are many sources on the web to get
materials on the upanishads. The vedanta and upanishads form a core part of Hindu Philosophy, which by the way has little to do with the rituals of the Hindu Religion, atleast at the surface. The basis for the rituals could ofcourse be argued to be found in the philosophy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rocking motion during meditation - resources

During the past few months, I have meditated maybe 15 - 20 times. And during these 15 times, I have had 'involuntary' upper body rhythmic motions maybe 10 times. And believe me, I am not causing these motions. I tried to stop the motions, but they would begin again, involuntarily - So that told me that I was definitely not causing it.
Being curious as to what this "rocking motion" meant, I scoured the web for articles that explain the same. Most of the articles mention that this has something to do with the Kundalini Energy arising. Some say it's a natural thing that happens - The body makes some adjustments to the system during these motions - adjustments for the better.
Some say, it's about clearing energy pathways or chakras. So below I list a few articles that I think are relevant to this upper body involuntary movement stuff:

1) Kundalini Awakening
2) Spontaneous Movement
3) Odd rocking motion
4) Meditation
5) Raw foodie's story
6) Rocking?
7) Ecstatic Movement
8) Effects of meditation
9)More on tingling/crawling sensations

Here's what the book, 'Ask and it's given' by Esther and Jerry Hicks has to say about this(Pg 186):
"As you quiet your mind, you may feel a sense of physical detachment. For example,
you may feel no real difference between your toe and your nose. Sometimes you will feel the sensation of twitches and itches beneath your skin. And often, once you have released resistance and are soaring in your natural pure, high vibrations - you will feel an involuntary movement in your body. It may sway slightly from side to side or forward and backward, or your head may role gently from side to side. Any or all of these movements are indicators of your achievement of a state of meditation".

I think this upper body movement during meditation hardly affects my meditation. I am definitely intrigued by it, but keeping with the spirit of meditation, I just observe it as a phenomenon that's happening to me.

Chat on "Nothing Matters"

My gtalk status for the past few weeks has been "Nothing matters". Curious, my friend (AM) had a lot of questions to ask and that turned into a wonderful conversation that I would like to share with the world. Here's the unedited transcript of that chat:

AM: hey man
me: hey wasup
AM: hey u r in whch univ?
me: univ of washington
AM: oh
i think thats a very good app
from what i heard
me: yeah it is..
AM :)
me: but good app doesn't necessarily mean good research or good experiences :(
AM: hmm
how come
good experiences
hey tell me abt ur status message
nothing matters
whats the funda
me: Its based in philosophy
Nothing matters is - No matter what situation comes in your life, no matter how depressing it is, it doesn't really matter - Because the essence of you is not the ego but beyond that
Hence your ego might be affected by good or bad experiences, but the real 'you' is not.
AM: right
what u r remains the same
me: No what you are keeps changing - always, but what you are is beyond what you think you are
AM: hmm
how come that
u mean to say ppl are greater than what they think they are
me: Much much greater
AM: great as in qualities
or abilities
me: everything.. great in every aspect
AM: hmm..
but they underperform miserably
all the time
me: That's because of their belief that they are not good
anil.marthi: hmm
miserable people
i'm sick of them
me: No even you are one of them.. I am also one of them... Everyone has beliefs that constricts them.. Some have fewer such beliefs, some have many such constricting beliefs
AM: no man
i dont have any such constricting beliefs
im not saying that im great though
me: Well.. your last statement is a constricting belief
You believe you are not great
AM: hey i believe im great
but im not telling u that
me: He he.. think about this.. there is always room for improvement... alwaus
AM: right
me: And the improvement comes from changing your beliefs.. Hence constricting beliefs always exist
AM: hehe
how true
me: yeah.. don't believe in whatever I say.. see if it is the case..
AM: but then if u start thinking that how great we are, then our ego will boost
and self esteem too
and it cant easily tower other's self esteem
me: You can't just say I am great - you can't trick your mind - You have to also show yourself that you are great - Then your belief will become stronger
AM: true
still even if u r great
if you keep thinking u r great
it wont augur well with other ppl
u ll start having problems with me
abt how they shd treat you and all
me: You won't say to others I am great.. You will say you are as great as I am
AM: hmm
me: Everyone is great.. they just don't realize that.. so boasting will not help... but if by example you show to others that anyone is and can become great.. everyone will appreciate that
AM: hmm yes
but if u tell someone that
you are as great as i am
some just dont like that
like putting pseude and all
its not good
thiking that im great im great
me: Yes if they have a very strong belief that they are just about average.. So they don't like that because their constricting belief is strong.. In such cases, you should be very gentle in how you talk to them
AM: yes man
ppl will knw that they are good man
but still dont want to show it off
how abt that?
me: Why are you worried about showing off.. That shows that you are worried about what people think.. Which shows that you have a belief that your image is dependent on what others think... :D
AM: no no
not like that
im talking abt practical point of view man
not abt worry what they think abt me
i ve experienced this practically
it is always good to be very down to earth
and maintain a significant class in your manners and actions

me: My point is not that you go around saying that everyone is great.. My point is your "belief" should be that everyone is great and you use that belief to guide your actions...
AM: yea
me: Another thing philosophy says is life is a game.. It doesn't matter whether you win or lose a cricket match right.. That's why it doesn't matter what happens in life.. Nothing matters
anil.marthi: haha true
but u wont feel good with tears na
me: Who is getting tears?
AM: anyone
arising out of actions
me: Ok say you?
or me?
AM: me
me: Ok let's say you
Who is that you who is getting tears
AM: its me man
what ever the eternal self is thr, let it be
me: You the body, you the mind, you the brain, which you?
AM: but i can experience the pain of tears right
me: Your ego does...
When "you" identify with the "ego", "you" experience pain.. When "you - the real you" don't identify, you don't
AM: hmm true
still man.. u can expect people to separate ego from self all the time
that way there is no materialism
me: That's why people do meditation.. They want to stop the chattering of the "mind" or the "ego"..What happens, when the ego stops, "you" still exist
AM: im saying u cant*
me: Which means you are not the ego..
Yeah the point of philosophy is that materialism is not everything.. Materialism is ego gratification, but spiritualism is "real" gratification
AM: yeah
u r right
again we ll be back to ancient ages
we ll all become saints
no need of moeny
information technology
me: No we will be technological saints..
AM: thats even worse
me: No it is not.. I am not saying you should avoid technology.. Technology makes life easier.. But also understand that technology is not everything.. That's why I believe in spiritual materialism.. You don't have to go to himalayas.. You can do your work, have money and still be peaceful..
AM: hmm
me: I think we have discussed a lot of stuff man.. Don't believe anything of what I said.. Believe in it if you find it true for yourself... I also follow the same policy.. If there is something I wish to believe in, I see if it applies practically atleast to some extent...
AM: true
my TL recently indicated indirectly that i think im great
me: It doesn't matter.. What matters is what you think.. People may shit about you.. but what do you think..
AM: hmm
actually ny body language itself indicates that i have very self esteem or that i'm great
me: Hmm.. good..
But it doesn't matter even if I have a low self-esteem.. Nothing matters!
AM: haha
me: Everything is energy.. that's why nothing matters
AM: :)
me: Ok man... nice discussion.. got to go.. if you are interested in philosophy or spirituality, there are tons of good books.. you might find them useful
AM: sure

Friday, May 09, 2008

Expectation and its effects

The word 'expectation' is ubiquitous. The advisor has some expectations on the advisee.
The student has some expectations from the course she/he is taking. You might be expecting to land a job soon. The lover expects his lover to reciprocate his show of love. "We have high expectations of our employees", says the employer.
Let's say that you are expecting an important email. I have noticed many times, that when I expect an email, I sometimes don't get it, when I let go of that thought, and check my email, there it is sitting in the inbox, when I didn't expect it at all.

Expectation as far as I have come to realize is something that I can do without in life. Why? "Because it interferes with creation". We are creating every moment in our life. We are drawing our future landscape right here, right now through our thoughts, words, actions and our state of being. These four tools (thoughts, words, actions and beingness) are the tools of creation. What expectation does with this process is, it creates a sense of doubt in your creations. Why?
When you expect an email for instance, and you don't get it, there is an element of doubt that arises in your mind. Why is that person not sending an email. This 'doubt' is actually a 'thought' that interferes with your creation. Your creation is intended to bring you that email, but the expectation, which is just another thought, counteracts that creation unnecessarily because, well, thoughts are creative and hence expectation is also creative, only that the 'creation' of the expectation goes against your original creation because of the element of doubt.

Hence, it is always better not to have expectations on the behavior of any person or event in life. Then creations will always be as you intended, because, your intentions haven't been modified by the expectation.

Hence, masters, I believe, intend things and don't give a second thought to it. Because, they don't give a second thought, the first thought, which was their intention manifests without interference from successive thoughts (or expectations).