16 May 2022

Meditation and Blue Sky Mind

Your mind has two aspects. There is the familiar active, thinking mind with all its attendant emotions, and then there is the still mind, renowned for its innate inner peace and clarity, loving kindness and wisdom.

While meditation and my most recent meditation book, Blue Sky Mind do focus upon getting to know both aspects of your mind better, more particularly they provide a reliable way to become familiar with the still mind.

Meditation enables us to focus our attention, to move past distractions and the pre-occupations we often have with our thoughts and emotions, and introduces us to our still mind with direct certainty. It then helps us to function with confidence from the perspective of that still mind wherein all the qualities we aspire to as good people are to be found.

So this week, more of an introduction to meditation, Blue Sky Mind and its genesis, but first

        Thought for the day

The aim is to experience 
Meditation practice and life as one.
 

The aim is to continue 
The mindfulness, the awareness 
And the View
Of the meditation into daily life.


As we practise 
And these qualities 
Begin to become a reality for us, 
We begin to see more clearly 
The way to do things 
In a connected, effective and caring way.

                                          Ian Gawler


Blue Sky Mind is intended to be a highly accessible introductory book to meditation; something that everyone will find informative and useful for establishing and deepening their own meditation practice.



The inspiration and starting point for this current book was Peace of Mind, my first meditation book published in Australia in 1987 and one of the first books to be published on meditation in that country. It has sold over 100,000 copies.

This earlier book provided instruction on how to relax deeply and enter the simple stillness of deeper meditation as well as a comprehensive introduction to the use of contemplation and guided imagery.







Peace of Mind was followed in 1996 by Meditation - Pure and Simple.

This book was written in response to many requests that flowed out of Peace of Mind regarding what to do with an active mind and the many distractions and frustrations an untrained or unskilled active mind can bring into meditation. This book highlighted skilful ways of moving past those very common intruding thoughts.







Then followed a more complete expose on guided imagery - The Creative Power of Imagery in 1997.








In 2010 there came the more explicit and extensive book on the techniques of meditation, contemplation and guided imagery - Meditation - an In-Depth Guide co-authored with colleague Paul Bedson. 




The Creative Power of Imagery led into and was replaced by The Mind that Changes Everything in 2010. In this book, there are around 50 Guided Imagery exercises that can be applied to many life situations, including achieving any set goal, sport, work , relationships and healing.








So then in 2019, to reinvigorate the “beginner’s book”, the best of Peace of Mind and Meditation - Pure and Simple were combined with a good deal of original material into one fresh new book, Blue Sky Mind.

My wife Ruth played a major role in developing this work and has brought her love, care, sensitivity, experience, wisdom and insight to all facets of the book’s writing and production.

The understanding of meditation reflected in this book has grown through my personal contact with many people and books. There has been great good fortune in being able to learn directly from many great masters of meditation. The two most significant are Dr Ainslie Meares and Sogyal Rinpoche.





Dr Meares was the true pioneer of therapeutic meditation in the Western world.

His first book on meditation, Relief Without Drugs was published in 1967, translated into many languages and sold over one million copies around the world. That book is out of print but well worth taking down on the used market.

Dr Meares insights were pivotal, informed my own work and are as relevant to current times as they were to the sixties.



Since 1985, the Tibetan lama Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and master of Dzogchen meditation has been my main teacher.

Rinpoche has helped deepen my understanding and experience of meditation by his presence, kindness, knowledge and patience.

The TBLD as it is commonly known is a classic with over 3.5 million copies sold. It held the record for some time apparently as the most shop-lifted book in Australia :) Not sure what that says... Anyway, a great read.


Also, gratitude is offered to Zen Master Hogan-San for his knowledge and insight. And what a blessing to have known and learnt from that extraordinary Christian mystic and scholar Father Bede Griffiths along with many others who have shared the experiences of Christian Meditation.

But then Blue Sky Mind was also the product of many years working with great staff as we helped so many people learn to meditate. There is a debt owed to them all - the staff and those who learnt with us - for their shared experiences, responses, feedback, failures and successes. It is a privilege to have been able to work in this way.

And while all these wonderful people and books have helped a great deal, in meditation the real answers lie within. There is a profound appreciation and gratitude for the experiences and the knowing that comes from listening and waiting in silence for the still voice within.

May you encounter meditation, recognise its inner value and maintain a regular practice.

Enjoy :)



02 May 2022

Meditation and wisdom

In older times people grew up in cultures based upon wisdom. All the great spiritual traditions provided an ethical and moral framework, plus a world view on the meaning of life.

In modern times we have moved progressively towards a more secular culture. During the transition, many drew on the fumes of the old traditions and exhibited some semblance of wisdom; but now as we become increasingly secular, many of our youth are wondering what is missing; and where to fill the gap.

In the domain of meditation, this trend has been exacerbated by popularist teachers and especially Apps, cherry-picking the great traditions for their techniques which they share widely, while they leave out or minimalize their wisdom teachings.

So this week, a dip into where wisdom is to be found, plus how to nurture and develop it; but first

   Thought for the day


       God is that which is so complete in itself 

       That even if a whole is removed from it 

       Or indeed added to it

       It still remains the same whole.

                                       Sanskrit hymn

From where do you derive your wisdom? 

Seems to me there are 4 most likely possibilities 

1. One of the great spiritual – and wisdom – traditions

2. A spiritual friend – this could be a teacher from outside one of the great traditions, or a person close to you – a parental type figure (or grandparent or … )

3. Books and podcasts from which you draw together your own conclusions/values

4. You experience a void because neither of the other 3 apply.

This post is simply a prompt; an encouragement to recognise the value of the search for wisdom, and an encouragement to make a commitment and do the study and practice required to develop, and even better, to embody wisdom.


With this in mind, here is a quote from Ken Wilbur that might inspire…

And in the pursuit of wisdom, be prepared for ups and downs, and the need to persevere…

Never give up!



It is important to understand we all meditate within a Tradition and all traditions belong to one great Tradition of Humanity. All our Traditions we could say are connected. They have a root Tradition. But that root Tradition is held in a pre-historical silence, in a very primeval awakening to our human meaning and purpose. 

Translative religion which is by far the most prevalent, widespread, and widely shared function of religion ... acts as a way of creating ‘meaning’ for the separate self: it offers myths and stories and tales and narratives and rituals that, taken together, help the separate self make sense of, and endure, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 

This function of religion does not usually or necessarily change the level of consciousness in a person; it does not deliver radical transformation. 

Nor does it deliver a shattering liberation from the separate self altogether. Rather, it consoles the self, fortifies the self, defends the self, promotes the self. As long as the separate self believes the myths, performs the rituals, mouths the prayers, or embraces the dogma, then the self, it is fervently believed, will be “saved” - either now in the glory of being God-saved or God-favoured, or in an after-life that ensures eternal wonderment. 

Transformative religion in a usually very, very small minority - serves the function of radical transformation and liberation. This function of religion does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it - not consolation but devastation, not entrenchment but emptiness, not complacency but explosion, not comfort but revolution - in short, not a conventional bolstering of consciousness but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.

… at some point in our maturation process, translation itself, no matter how adequate or confident, simply ceases to console. No new beliefs, no new paradigm, no new myths, no new ideas, will staunch the encroaching anguish. Not new belief for the self, but the transcendence of the self altogether, is the only path that avails.

 .... For those few individuals who are ready - that is, sick with the suffering of the separate self, and no longer able to embrace the translative [exoteric] worldview - then a transformative [esoteric] opening to true authenticity, true enlightenment, true liberation, calls more and more insistently. 

And depending upon your capacity for suffering, you will sooner or later answer the call of authenticity, of transformation, of liberation. 

Ken Wilbur - One Taste