making the unconscious conscious

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Had the pleasure of attending a talk and meditation by Professor Robert Thurman last week. With decades of experience  as both a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and as a professor, he has a great knack for presenting these often complex ideas in a simple manner that cut right to the essence of a profound teaching.

Professor Thurman is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s personal representative in the US, and the founder of Tibet House, an organization dedicated to preserving the rich cultural legacy of Tibetans. He also has a wicked sense of humour, and this comes out often during his talks! Many of his lectures are available on the Bob Thurman Podcast, which I highly recommend. Even if Buddhism is not your thing, you might find a lot of value in these talks.

The talk I attended was geared towards the very materialistic, scientific minded engineers of Silicon Valley. He thought it was great that “mindfullness meditation” is becoming all the rage among the corporate world, even if it is a very stripped down version of the practices. It still has the benefit of getting people to be a little more introspective. In a culture of materialism and western science, where the tendency is to live for “this life only” and to negate any deeper look into the meaning of existence beyond making money, this is a welcome foothold into daily life. In such a context, Professor Thurman defined enlightenment as “making the unconscious, conscious.”  With nods to Freud and Jung, this was the perfect explanation for westerners.

A very simple meditation practice was given that can be used to enhance the vipassanna styled meditations that have been popularized in the Valley by all the meditation apps (10% Happier, Headspace, Calm) currently making the rounds. Inhale white light, with a sense of healing filling up your cells. Hold the breath briefly, just a few seconds, while seeing it as a rich ruby red light that is vibrant with health and healing. Exhale the breath, seeing it as a deep cobalt blue light that gives out healing to the world and the environment. Tantrik sadhakas may see in this simple practice the deep roots of vajra breathing with the vibrational syllables of OM AH HUNG.

 

 

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cutting through

Labels. They are everywhere. We use them to define ourselves, each other, our space, our likes and dislikes, the world around us, our thoughts… In one sense, language is a great label maker for chopping up the vast expanse of raw experience into bite sized pieces that are easily digested.

If you do not “fit” into a label, people may feel funny about you. For the sake of comfort, it seems as though people expect to be able to categorize everything, including themselves, into well organized and defined definitions. If you can not label it, it can can not be categorized and fit in to the correct slot.

With the wide acceptance of social media like Facebook, the motivation to “fit in” and “label” oneself and others has become something of a collective past-time. Favorite music, books, movies, television… “I drink wine and enjoy watching Friends. Oh so do you? My political slant is <fill in the blank> and my religion is <label goes here>. I don’t like this person, they use labels I don’t like. I am in this club and you aren’t.” Subject and object, this and that, inside outside. Perhaps if enough data is collected and the patterns analyzed, we can give up having names and just be categorized under certain labels and numbers.

A case in point, the About page. How many labels do I have to choose in order to try to box myself in to a nice package that others will be able to label according to their own set of rules? Lets see —  I’m Typhonian, and I am big on Tantra and Dzogchen. Other labelled entities (poor humans), such as those calling themselves Thelemites, might not like that I’m Typhonian. Classical Hindu tantriks on the other hand, may dislike that I am into Dzogchen. Labels might get in the way of actual human connection if I don’t pass the initial word filter.

Based on the associations of labels, we limit our experiences and interactions with other living human beings. This person seems nice, but they label themselves as a <blank> – no thank you. That person has so much energy, looks so happy, really enjoys life – oh but wait… it says here they love a book by an author that I hate…. No!  We limit ourselves if the label does not “fit.”

Words imprison us. Sure, they can also liberate us. Language is both a blessing and a curse.

Life is for living. It is alive, dynamic, unpredictable, beautiful and ugly, magnificent and horrible. It is all of these things simultaneously. Try some of those labels on, if you must. The more we try to define ourselves, to live inside of our own well constructed boxes, the more comical the whole game becomes.

Meditation is useful in getting reacquainted with reality. I say reacquainted because we all know it, have experienced it. At the very least, you were an infant at one time, before language was part of your consciousness (I suppose that is arguable, with the sound of the mothers voice being heard in the womb). Go back further then…

Persist long enough and you might get glimpses of consciousness beyond (before?) language. What is experience before it is labeled? What is the raw, unfiltered, unspeakable experience of being?

Who are you, before you had a name?

 

 

Dr. Jacques Vallee

I recently finished reading Dr. Jacques Vallee’s Forbidden Science, three volumes of diaries covering about 40 years of research into the UFO problem. What an incredible journey of exploration he has documented! Anyone that has done more than a cursory glance at the phenomena will know that the deceptively simple subject may start out innocently enough, but quickly goes far beyond mechanical space craft with alien pilots that are visiting the earth, and dives headlong into the depths of consciousness itself.

Of all the researchers in the field, Vallee is perhaps one of the only ones doing such thorough cutting edge investigations into this murky and mysterious world that spans the topics of psi research, multi-dimensional entities, the expansion (and meaning) of consciousness, and more. What is the nature of these “lights in the sky”? Investigating  not only contemporary sightings, but also diving deep into folklore (Passport to Magonia is highly recommend as well), Vallee presents a fascinating look into his research. You can see over time the development of his theory of the control mechanism that seems to be at the core of this phenomena (see Messengers of Deception for this thesis worked out in detail).

The diaries also give tantalizing insights into the role that the various world government agencies have played in investigating and obfuscating any research. SRI (Stanford Research Institute) was doing incredible reasearch in the 70’s, which I found particularly of interest having grown up in the area during that time (I attended Menlo-Atherton high school, just a few blocks away from SRI. Several of my classmates had jobs at SRI after school).

Also of interest are his interactions with various “occult” luminaries. Dinner parties with Anton LaVey, meetings with Grady Louis McMurtry, and discussions with Manly Palmer Hall among others. Ultimately deciding that the occultists were ignorant of anything relating to the phenomena, its an amazing read and shows his inquisitive and exploratory nature. If only he had interviewed Kenneth Grant, who knows where the research may have led!

Follow this link for a recent interview with Dr. Vallee discussion many of these subjects: http://skeptiko.com/jacques-vallee-diaries-reveal-what-scientists-deny-359/