Saturday, March 26, 2011

From ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by M. Scott Peck

…… Carl Jung, ‘Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.’

…….. children who are truly loved ……… unconsciously know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than any gold. For when children know that they are valued, when they truly feel valued in the deepest parts of themselves, then they feel valuable.

The feeling of being valuable – ‘I am a valuable person’ – is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline. It is a direct product of parental love. Such a conviction must be gained in childhood; it is extremely difficult to acquire it during adulthood …… when children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, it is almost impossible for the vicissitudes of adulthood to destroy their spirit.

Most people who come to see a psychiatrist are suffering from what is called either a neurosis or a character disorder ……. they are opposite styles of relating to the world and it's problems. The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; the person with a character disorder not enough. When neurotics are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that they are at fault. When those with character disorders are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that the world is at fault.

….. character-disordered parents almost invariably produce character-disordered or neurotic children. It is the parents themselves who visit their sins upon their children.

.. with experience the child begins to experience itself – namely, as an entity separate from the rest of the world. When it is hungry, mother doesn’t always appear to feed it. When it is playful, mother doesn’t always want to play. The child then has the experience of it's wishes not being it's mothers command. It's will is experienced as something separate from it's mother’s behavior. A sense of the ‘me’ begins to develop. This interaction between the infant and the mother is believed to be the ground out of which the child’s sense of identity begins to grow. It has been observed that when the interaction between the infant and it's mother is grossly disturbed – for example, when there is no mother, no satisfactory mother substitute or when because of her own mental illness the mother is totally uncaring or uninterested – then the infant grows into a child or adult whose sense of identity is grossly defective in the most basic ways.

For instance, the age between two and three is typically a time when the child comes to terms with the limits of it's power. While before this time the child has learned that it's wish is not necessarily it's mothers command, it still clings to the possibility that it's wish might be it's mothers command and the feeling that it's wish should be her command. It is because of this hope and feeling that the two-year-old usually attempts to act like the tyrant and autocrat ……. Parents speak of this age as the ‘terrible twos’

…… most of us feel our loneliness to be painful and yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition in which we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves. The experience of falling in love allows us this escape – temporarily. The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual’s ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of oneself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. ……. Sooner or later, in response to the problems of daily living, individual will reasserts itself. He wants to have sex; she doesn’t. She wants to go to the movies; he doesn’t ….. both of them , in the privacy of their hearts, begin to come to the sickening realization that they are not one with the beloved ….. One by one, gradually or suddenly, the ego boundaries snap back into place; gradually or suddenly, they fall out of love ………. At this point they begin either to dissolve the ties of their relationship or to initiate the work of real loving.

The inner feeling of emptiness from which passive dependent people suffer is the direct result of their parents failure to fulfill their needs for affection, attention and care during childhood ……… Children growing up in an atmosphere in which love and care are lacking or given with gross inconsistency enter adulthood with no such sense of inner security. Rather, they have an inner sense of insecurity, a feeling of ‘I don’t have enough’ and a sense that the world is unpredictable and ungiving, as well as a sense of themselves as being questionably lovable and valuable. It is no wonder, then, that they feel the need to scramble for love, care and attention wherever they can find it, and once having found it, cling to it with a desperation that leads them to unloving, manipulative, Machiavellian behavior that destroys the very relationships they seek to preserve.

There are, then, two ways to confront or criticize another human being: with instinctive and spontaneous certainty that one is right, or with a belief that one is probably right arrived at through scrupulous self-doubting and self-examination. The first is the way of arrogance; it is the most common way of parents, spouses, teachers and people generally in their day-to-day affairs; it is usually unsuccessful, producing more resentment than growth and other effects that were not intended. The second is the way of humility; it is not common, requiring as it does a genuine extension of oneself; it is more likely to be successful, and it is never, in my experience, destructive.

It is clear that exercising power with love requires a great deal of work, but what is this about the risk involved? The problem is that the more loving one is, the more humble one is: yet the more humble one is, the more one is awed by the potential for arrogance in exercising power. Who am I to influence the course of human events? By what authority am I entitled to decide what is best for my child, my spouse, my country or the human race? Who gives me the right to dare to believe in my own understanding and then to presume to exert my will upon the world? Who am I to play God? That is the risk. For whenever we exercise power we are attempting to influence the course of the world, of humanity, and we are thereby playing God ……… those who truly love, and therefore work for the wisdom that love requires, know that to act is to play God. Yet they also know that there is no alternative except inaction and impotence. Love compels us to play God with full consciousness of the enormity of the fact that that is just what we are doing. With this consciousness the loving person assumes the responsibility of attempting to be God and not to carelessly play God, to fulfill God’s will without mistake. We arrive, then, at yet another paradox: only out of the humility of love can humans dare to be God.

….. Kahlil Gibran addresses himself in what are perhaps the finest words ever written about child rasing:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you
cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them
like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows
are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go
swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

……. Kahlil Gibran speaks to us concerning marriage:

Love one another, but make not a bond of love;
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of
you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver
with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Live can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s

For the most part, mental illness is caused by an absence of or defect in the love that a particular child required from it's particular parents for successful maturation and spiritual growth. It is obvious, then, that in order to be healed through psychotherapy the patient must receive from the psychotherapist at least a portion of the genuine love of which the patient was deprived. If the psychotherapist cannot genuinely love a patient, genuine healing will not occur.

Self-realization is born and matures in a distinctive kind of awareness, an awareness that has been described in many different ways by many different people. The mystics, for example, have spoken of it as the perception of the divinity and perfection of the world. Richard Bucke referred to it as cosmic consciousness; Buber described it in terms of the I-Thou relationship; and Maslow gave it the label ‘Being-cognition.’ We shall use Ouspensky’s term and call it the perception of the miraculous. ‘Miraculous’ here refers not only to extraordinary phenomena but also to the commonplace, for absolutely anything can evoke this special awareness provided that close enough attention is paid to it. Once perception is disengaged from the domination of preconception and personal interest, it is free to experience the world as it is in itself and to behold it's inherent magnificence….. Perception of the miraculous requires no faith or assumptions. It is simply a matter of paying full and close attention to the givens of life, i.e., to what is so ever-present that it is usually taken for granted. The true wonder of the world is available everywhere, in the minutest parts of our bodies, in the vast expanses of the cosmos, and in the intimate interconnectedness of these and all things….. We are part of a finely balanced ecosystem in which interdependency goes hand-in-hand with individuation. We are all individuals, but we are also parts of a greater whole, united in something vast and beautiful beyond description. Perception of the miraculous is the subjective essence of self-realization, the root from which man’s highest features and experiences grow

- Michael Stark and Michael Washburn, ‘Beyond the Norm: A Speculative Model of Self-Realization’

Thursday, March 24, 2011

From ‘Pilgrims of the Stars. Autobiography of two yogis’ – Dilip Kumar Roy and Indira Devi

Yoga is a junction, a meeting with the Lord, with the Universal Consciousness, with the Supreme Self or one’s own highest self. Any effort or method that brings about this union, this inner harmony, knowledge, love or understanding is yoga.

Sri Ramakrishna had said over and over again that one should always meditate alone, stressing that the less other people know about one’s prayers, the better it is for one.

The musicologist Professor Fox Strongways writes in his well-known book on Indian music that the euphonious Bengali language is so appropriate for music that it could well claim kinship with the Italian language in Europe

“I do maintain that asceticism is the greatest of all arts. For what is art but beauty in simplicity, and what is asceticism but the loftiest manifestation of simple beauty in daily life?” – Mahatma Gandhi

…. A famous yogavashista couplet which said:

Rely on thine own strength and, grinding thy teeth,
Defy with heroic deeds the Tyrant, Fate.

As to permanence, you cannot expect permanence of the initial spiritual experiences from the beginning – only a few have that and even for them the high intensity is not always there; for most the experience comes and then draws back behind the veil waiting for the human part to be prepared and made ready to bear and hold fast to it's increase and then it's permanence …………… This weak limited normality finds it difficult at first even to get any touch of that greater and intenser supernormal experience or it gets it diluted into it's own duller stuff of mental or vital experience, and when the spiritual experience does come in it's own overwhelming power, our normal consciousness very often cannot bear it or, if it bears, cannot hold and keep it. Still once a decisive breach has been made in the walls built by the mind against the Infinite, the breach widens sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly, until there is no wall any longer, and there is the permanence. ………. If the consciousness is always busy with small mental movements – especially accompanied, as they usually are, by a host of vital movements, desires, prepossessions and all else that vitiates human thinking – even apart from the native insufficiency of reason – what room can there be for a new order of knowledge, for fundamental experiences or for those deep and tremendous upsurgings or descents of the Spirit? It is, indeed, possible for the mind in the midst of it's activities to be suddenly taken by surprise, overwhelmed, swept aside, while all is flooded with the sudden inrush of spiritual experience. But if afterwards it begins questioning, doubting, theorizing, surmising what this might be and whether it is true or not, what else can the spiritual Power do but retire and wait for the bubbles of the Mind to cease?

- Sri Aurobindo

True to our great Indian tradition, the [Ramana] Maharshi did not relish answering merely intellectual questions, or the queries of the curious who were content with mere wordy answers. Again and again he would stress that information was not knowledge and that all true knowledge stemmed first and last from self-knowledge. So sometimes, when he was asked about the worlds beyond of the life hereafter, he would simply evade the question. “Why this itch to know about the other worlds? Do you know even the crucial and basic things about this one? If not, why not wait till you do before you start delving into the next? Why do you want to know what happens after death? Do you really know what is happening before your very nose? ………. Do you know – truly know – what you are today – this moment?”

“ ……. It is the ineradicable ego, the I-ness in each of us, which is responsible for the perpetuation of this maya with all it's attendant sufferings and disenchantments.”

“What, then, is the remedy?” I asked.

Just be,” he [Ramana Maharshi] answered. “Delve down into That which only is, for then you will find – you are That – there is and can be nothing else but That. When you see this, all the trappings of maya and make-believe fall off, even as the worn-out slough of the snake. So all that you have to do is to get to this I, the real I behind your seeming I, for then only are you rid forever of the illusive I-ness and all is attained, since you stay thenceforward at one with That which is the immutable you. That’s all.”

“We shall have to do nothing then?”

“Why? You shall have done the greatest thing – the only thing that is worth doing – after which you may rest assured that all that has to be done will be done through you. The thing is,” he added, “not to bother your head about doing things: just be and you will have done all that is expected of you.”

“ ……….. the I-ness, which is the root of all evil. Rend this illusion and you land pat into the lap of the One Eternal Reality ……….”

“But why, then, don’t you come out to preach this great message?” I asked. “For most people, you will agree, do not even know that there is this I-ness to be got rid of.”

He gave me again that cryptic smile tinctured with this characteristic irony and asked: “Have you heard of the saying of Vivekananda, that if one but thinks a noble, selfless thought even in a cave, it sets up vibrations throughout the world and does what has to be done – what can be done?”

Indira ……… she saw that pain was necessary, because it purified and one could never know oneself unless one went through the fire of suffering. She would never have been conscious of her attachment if she had not suffered so much.

Meditation is a contact with the Beloved, your real self. It is the completeness of being alone with oneself, a state of Grace in which one spontaneously opens one’s heart to the Light. See how the sunflower opens it's petals to the sun – effortlessly, yet so definitely.

One should think of the Lord as often as one can. In this way the mind eventually becomes accustomed to the heights and meditation is made possible. Indira always advises new people, regardless of the work they are engaged in, to think of Him for one minute every half-hour. Even this much will keep up the contact.

What is necessary for each of us is to give what we can. Don’t calculate, don’t plan. Whatever little you have to give to the Lord – give it today.

Just as insects, lying still in a dark corner, suddenly come to life under a torchlight, so the hidden imperfection lying latent in human beings become restive when dazzled by the light of Grace. The pressure of this light is very difficult for the disciple to bear, and those who are unwilling to change sooner or later pack up and leave.

“ …… The guru can but stimulate this but the flame of your aspiration has to be fanned sleeplessly by your own effort and vigilance. But the paradox is that however you may try you cannot make much headway if you believe you will attain by your own effort. That effort leads duly to helplessness – the zero hour – when His help comes. But nonetheless the effort has to be made in order to realize the futility of effort unblessed by His Grace. And this is a very valuable realization in that it leads you straight into the heart of humility and submission without which one can never go far.” – Swami Ramdas

…… in his [Swami Ramdas’s] book, At the Feet of God, ………..

Answer: When the human will is given up for the Divine will, all responsibility of the instrument, the devotee, ceases and the consciousness of the individual ego is merged in the Divine Consciousness. Then all his actions, thoughts and words emanate from the Divine Source, leaving him free from all doubt, desire and bondage.

Abnormal, otherwise supra-physical experiences, and powers, occult or yogic, have always seemed to me something perfectly natural and credible. Consciousness in it's very nature could not be limited by the ordinary physical human-animal consciousness; it must have other ranges. Yogis or occult powers are no more supernatural or incredible than is supernatural or incredible the power to write a great poem or compose great music; few people can do it ………… to write or to compose true and great things one has to have the passage clear between the outer mind and something in the inner being.
– Sri Aurobindo