Friday, November 14, 2008

Wonderful interview with Tulku Thondup 'plus' some reflection

Read it here.
I just ordered the book, "Boundless healing" by Tulku Thondup. I was in the university bookstore browsing through books, when I came across the book. I leafed through the chapters and liked the clear, succinct messages and meditation exercises.

Going beyond reading
Now, the important thing about buying spiritual books, I have realized, is to not just buy them and read 'em up like a paperback novel. Ofcourse, you will be doing that in the beginning, when you get on to this thing called the 'spiritual journey'. Once, you get the basic idea behind what this 'spiritual journey' is all about, it's time for action. It's time to stop bragging to yourself or others about the books you read, and actually implement the principles and the broader perspective you gain through these books into your life and see if there is truth to these meditations and if you feel more peaceful, etc.
I have been meditating regularly since July 11th 2008. Missed only a day or two so far.
Have I become enlightened? He he, that's a funny question.
Well, my understanding is that enlightenment is a process. It's not about getting there and it's all over. No, it's never over. But it get's better and better and better. More peace, more joy, more happiness, one little footprint at a time.

Effects of meditation
So how has my life changed since I began meditating? Again, a funny question. Not much externally. I am still doing research, being a geeky grad student, making two ends meet (well fortunately it does meet comfortably). It's not about what has changed externally, it's about what is changing within me. It's a subtle process, it's so subtle that you don't notice it.. Unless you do. I place a lot of emphasis these days on thought, word and deed. Because, I have come to believe, that what I think, say and act upon ultimately creates my reality, irrespective of how bleak it is out there, irrespective of what others say or think I am capable of, irrespective of.. well.. the list goes on. Note, that this thought-belief-creation paradigm is still a belief, albeit a strong one, in me.
Here's an interesting statement:
Whether or not you believe that your thoughts, speech and actions create your reality, that is whether or not you believe in this thought-belief-creation paradigm, you are right.
Because if you don't believe that your thoughts create your reality, you will see your life that way. You will think that, what the heck, I don't control my life, I just do damage-control all the time life throws the kitchen sink at me.. and you will be right... Because that's what you believe in.
So, there is no escaping this thought that your thoughts, your beliefs, your actions influence your future.

Ofcourse, you can't just explain away your life saying that: I brought on the bad experiences I had in my life, because I didn't take control of my life. Here's where, the bigger picture kicks in:
Certain experiences, especially the "bad ones", act as catalysts for change and therefore are supposed to be part of the "master plan". They force you to examine yourself, to take a deep look at yourself, and ask, what went wrong? Is this who I really am? And then you come to a new understanding of who you really are!!!

Who am I? - The fundamental question
This question, "Who am I?" is the most fundamental question you can ever ask yourself.
Some people might respond, 'what kind of a question is this? I am 'fill in your name'''.
Do you realize that your name is just a label. Now moving beyond, people would say I am my body. Some would say, I am just a bunch of atoms. Really? Do you think of yourself that way?
Because, I think that really forces you to examine how the bunch of atoms that make you up is gelled up together, so to speak, and does not fall apart.
Some say I am my mind. Some say, I am the mind-body complex.
Let's look at what the ancient texts have to say:

1) According to the vedas, we are not just made up of one body, but sheaths of bodies:
The physical body, the energy body, the mental body, the intellectual body, the causal body, and then comes the soul, the real you!
Wow, so if that's true, where is my energy body, I can't perceive it!.. That's a good statement.
Seeing is believing, right. Well, it depends on whether you can see properly or not!
One of the effects of meditation is that I am able to sense energy around me.

Sensing energy
For example, when I sit down to meditate, I sit in the traditional lotus posture (padmasana)
and I curl up the index finger so that it's tip touches the tip of the thumb on both the hands. Two months into the meditation, I could sense energy pulsing in and out of the tip of the index and thumb fingers when I sat down to meditate.
Also, I have had involuntary body movement during some of my meditations.
[Clearly to me, I wasn't causing it. Because, if I stopped the body movement, it would begin again - involuntarily.
I wasn't sick during that time, ofcourse I was having a lot going on in my mind, but no indications of any disease, physical or otherwise. During those early periods of my meditation practice, whenever I sat down to meditate, a gentle 'ticking' would begin at the base of my spine and gradually expand throughout my whole body so that I would be swaying rhythmically within a minute.

Other small things I notice is that, when I bring my palms together, facing each other, and with 5 inch gap (or any small gap) between the plams, I can sense energy exchange between the two palms. Now, what the heck is this energy exchange? When I move the hands apart, I feel as if something is tearing apart as if a rubber sheet was being stretched apart and when I bring the hands together I feel a pull again. It's a subtle sensation but very distinct. So, again, this is another example of what I mean by sensing energy.
Is this energy I am sensing, a part of the energy body? I don't know, but I believe so. You can't escape belief. You investigate a little, you believe a little. You believe a little, you get more clues and that's the game I am playing here.

Another experience, I frequently have these days, especially when I do visualization meditations or healing meditations (I visualize that I am bathed by healing light that permeates my energy body - oh yeah, putting theory into practice) is that:
I sense tingling sensations or crawling sensations on my head and sometimes on my forehead too.. but mostly on the top of my head. It might be because I have a lot of dandruff in my hair (!!), but why does the tingling have to happen only when I meditate and especially when I visualize healing light permeating my energy body?

Life after death
If it's true that we are made up of more than one body, what happens after death. Here's the kicker: Only the physical body dies, the other bodies continue to another plane of existence. What does this mean? It means that you, as you know yourself to be, your identity, as you think yourself to be, continues to exist beyond death.
Again, this is a belief, but near-death experiences kind of confirm this phenomenon of life after death.
Isn't it amazing to know and believe, that life exists after death, not as a mere fantasy of our imagination to alleviate the suffering that surrounds death, but as an actual reality, as real as I feel my fingers typing this sentence, if not, more real.

What do you fear?
What is the worst thing you can fear. Most will say death. Some say, they don't fear death, but the experience of dying itself. Oh common, how long are you going to be in this 'process of dying'. Ofcourse, if it's a terminal illness, which is a long process of getting to death, it's going to be painful...But again, it all depends on your perspective. If you firmly believe (with parts of your belief validated consistently by books and maybe your experiences too - out of body experience, for example) that life moves on after death :- you strip your physical body during death
just as you would strip down before you hit the sack, then you are actually releasing a heavyweight, your physical body and becoming lighter..and moving into light. He he, this is getting funny and I am getting light-headed...even more funny.

If you don't fear death, your worst fears are put to rest. Fear of losing a job, fear of losing a relationship, pale in comparison to the fear of death. But if you don't fear death, because of a deep understanding that you gain from reading spiritual books and also from meditation experiences (and/or some might add - salvia divinorum), your whole perspective towards death changes: There's no more deep mourning at funerals, atleast for you, since you understand that this guy who is dead is not really dead and is actually quite happier and lighter with the burden (physical body) that he has shed and you might actually want to celebrate death. And, the wonderful interview above, talks about the importance of understanding in a little more detail, this wonderful death - because it is supposed to be a wonderful experience.

Some books on death:
1) Home with God by Neale Donald Walsch - A clean spiritual book with ground-breaking ideas on death.
2) Heart links by Louise Platt Hauck - A nice book of real life (or death stories) on communicating with the dead or shall we say, 'not so dead'. Ha ha.
3) Buddhist texts - Tibetan book of the dead (I have not read this book).
4) Vedas and upanishads - Not on death per se but throw a lot of light on the ultimate question - "Who am I?" which, amazingly is consistent with all the spiritual literature I have come across on the question of human identity.


Amos Anon said...

I’m glad you’re interested in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Here’s a link to a Guide that covers this book and other books of the Oxford Tibetan Series.
If you find this useful, please mention it on your blog.

karthik said...

Sure, I will read the book when I have the time, and make a mention.