Spiritual Seeker

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Spiritual Seeker

Postby ashley72 » Mon May 30, 2011 1:20 am

This is a good article (interview with Jeff Foster). He talks about
his own spiritual seeking and the pitfalls some spiritual seekers unwittingly fall into when adopting absolute or final truths (Neo Advaita) - He talks about walking that fine line between the absolute (no person) and the relative (the person).

http://advaita-academy.org/interviews/Jeff-Foster.ashx

....So gradually, over the years, I realized that in the end you can’t really make ‘ultimate statements’ about this; you have to be very careful indeed when communicating this message! Sometimes, I’ll still say things like there’s no me, there’s no you, and so on, but only in a certain context, at certain times, with a certain person, because at the same time, there’s still the appearance, and that cannot be denied. Jeff Foster
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby snowheight » Mon May 30, 2011 5:53 am

Jeff: "Physics taken to its end point is now telling us what the mystics have always known."

Yup'

Here are two great books that expound on that idea if anyone is interested. Don't be intimidated as there is no math -- these authors are popularizers

The Tao of Physics has been around for some time now, and does a great job explaining how the ideas of 20th century physics map to many of the beliefs of the ancient Eastern religions.

Dr. Amit Goswammi in The Self-Aware Universe takes a multi-discipline approach, touching on science, religion, philosophy and psychology to explain why there is something that is unexplainable and takes one more step from that place in trying to help us see what it is that we will never understand.

Jeff: "Nonduality: it’s one thing to see it, but it’s another thing to say it...."

Jeff: "So people would turn up my meetings and what I would see is that they had taken that ‘ultimate truth’ – there’s no me, there’s no you – as a belief."

He talks often of the "relative level" ... if I could have his ear for a moment I'd invite him to consider the scale of the relative non-absolutes that frame apparent existence and ask whether or not it might be worth playing these as actual absolutes just for the sake of the game.

Ultimately, he starts talking in paradox:

"these days, if I made a statement like that," (no me, no I, no you... etc.) "I would never leave it dangling. It would be balanced by its opposite. No denial is necessary. That, I feel, is a full message – reflecting the wholeness that is being pointed to. The Neo Advaita message is true, and totally untrue when it is not balanced by its reflection, in the dream.

'There is no Africa' – not true, unless there is an Africa. 'There is an Africa' – now it’s complete."
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby Ralph » Mon May 30, 2011 9:32 pm

Thanks ashley for posting that great article !

I like what Jeff says here.
For the past few years I’ve been doing talks around the world. Until I started doing the meetings, I hadn’t realized that there was this whole Neo-Advaita ‘culture’ out there, since I had never been to any meetings, been with a teacher in the past, nothing. So people would turn up my meetings and what I would see is that they had taken that ‘ultimate truth’ – there’s no me, there’s no you – as a belief. So then there would be an individual believing that there’s no individual. So for these people it had become denial, denial of the appearance. The ultimate truth of existence had been taken on by the individual as a new belief, and that belief was being used to deny aspects of their relative existence. What a trap


I find that many seekers fall into this trap.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby Webwanderer » Mon May 30, 2011 10:13 pm

Ralph wrote:I find that many seekers fall in this trap.

And it is sad indeed. Too many seekers search their mental structures for the self they have so long been identified with and find them empty, never really grasping that the self they are searching for is actually doing the searching. Finding the thought structures empty they then proclaim a kind of 'no me' victory in the deconstruction of the egoic identity. While the 'no me' recognition has some truth as pertains to ego identity, they do not fully comprehending that there is more to self than what was imagined in thought, and the trap is sprung. Ego identity is now perceived to be gone, but there is no real recognition of true self. They then go wandering through life devoid of motivation and interest in the beauty and potential of their human expression. Many even beg for a return to the good ole days when they were alive in ego.

I get the sense that those who are prone to this problem generally are more atheistic than most. If one has a purely materialist view of life, a multidimensional, spiritually inclusive, perspective on life is less available as it's been thoroughly discounted. This is what a neo-Darwinian concept of a scientific universe, exclusive of spirit, can create. In truth, it's just one more sacred cow (a scientific one) that must be exposed if one is to make quality use of this valuable shift in perspective.

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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby snowheight » Mon May 30, 2011 11:07 pm

Webwanderer wrote:I get the sense that those who are prone to this problem generally are more atheistic than most.

I can sense this same intuition.

Webwanderer wrote:If one has a purely materialist view of life, a multidimensional, spiritually inclusive, perspective on life is less available as it's been thoroughly discounted. This is what a neo-Darwinian concept of a scientific universe, exclusive of spirit, can create. In truth, it's just one more sacred cow (a scientific one) that must be exposed if one is to make quality use of this valuable shift in perspective.

There are spectrum's of experience which span each set of belief structures.

Here is the picture of of a star being born, and this is a song about it. All that you are, everything on this planet, was formed inside of one of many stars and arrived here by way of their death knells.

Here is a modern-day materialist prophet of a sort ... experiencing this man's work is evidence that rejection of theism and the supernatural does NOT foreclose a sense of wonder and awe.

It is true that a skeptic, one who would apply the scientific method in filtering their beliefs, does need to let go and take a leap to accept direct experience.

Wanderer, can you tell me of a belief structure to which this leap does not apply?

There are spectrum's of experience which span each set of belief structures and some who take the leap never turn back toward the other side of the river but others seem to swim back with a knowledge that the path they left behind leads to the same place as the non-path in front of them.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby Webwanderer » Mon May 30, 2011 11:23 pm

I'm not suggesting that materialism alone forecloses a sense of wonder and awe. Far from it. What I suggest is that materialism plus the deconstruction of the ego identity can, and often does, leave one with a sense of pointless existence. You've read the posts of a number of members on this very forum who have expressed such concerns. How many more must there be out there as Foster's report suggests?

snowheight wrote:Wanderer, can you tell me of a belief structure to which this leap does not apply?


How does one define 'leap'? Any movement from one perspective to another could be considered a leap simply because there is a sacrifice of sorts to one's existing world view. So in a sense there is always a leap. However, a leap to one may only be a minor step to another. It depends on the depth of one's investment in a belief structure.

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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby snowheight » Mon May 30, 2011 11:50 pm

Webwanderer wrote:How does one define 'leap'? Any movement from one perspective to another could be considered a leap simply because there is a sacrifice of sorts to one's existing world view. So in a sense there is always a leap. However, a leap to one may only be a minor step to another. It depends on the depth of one's investment in a belief structure.

I can define the leap for materialists but not for spiritualists, as I've never been down that road.

If a materialist is at that point in the spectrum where they are not a sinner in the context of the structure, then they always have a sliver of doubt of even the most settled of consensus. The fundamentalist materialist always knows that what we know at any given point in time is not the whole picture, and that there are known unknowns and also unknown unknowns.

The leap comes in realizing that not only is there something that we don't know, there is also something that we will never know from within the confines of the structure, which require an expression which can be understood intellectually.

The size of the leap depends on the individual, rather than the ground on which they take it from.

There are plenty of points of reference that a materialist can start from if they pick their heads up and glance around looking for purpose -- these are quite different, and somewhat obscure compared to those offered by other structures, but is the ignoring of these a symptom of the structure or the cultural context in which that structure lies?
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby ashley72 » Tue May 31, 2011 12:22 am

Ralph wrote:I find that many seekers fall into this trap.


I agree... its often evident on this forum that some folk get caught in a kind of "No Mans Land". They have recognized that thoughts arise without a thinker and can't be relied upon, but they replace the old belief system with a new belief structure, so the true deeper Self is not recognized and experienced so it becomes devoid of the "oneness". The Self should actually go deeper but life actually will become much shallower for them.

Webwanderer wrote:They then go wandering through life devoid of motivation and interest in the beauty and potential of their human expression. Many even beg for a return to the good ole days when they were alive in ego.


This is definitely a sign that something is wrong - if a return to the old self is a new desire.

Snowheight wrote:The Tao of Physics has been around for some time now, and does a great job explaining how the ideas of 20th century physics map to many of the beliefs of the ancient Eastern religions.


Thanks Snow for the recommendation, I decided to get a copy from Amazon after reading a few sample pages.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby suraj » Tue May 31, 2011 12:46 am

Thanks Ashley for posting the link for the interview with Jeff. I thorougly enjoyed it.
Some time back, I bought Jeff's book "Life without a Center". Though I enjoyed reading it, I couldn't understand what good such a book would do to anyone(with its "everything is alright" ) and why would he publish such a book.
Reading the interview, I realized , that the content of the book was just random notes Jeff maintained in his early years of awakening and it was not initially meant to be published at all.
May be if I read any of his latest books, I would get some more pointers than the first book.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby ashley72 » Tue May 31, 2011 2:56 am

suraj wrote:Thanks Ashley for posting the link for the interview with Jeff. I thorougly enjoyed it.
Some time back, I bought Jeff's book "Life without a Center". Though I enjoyed reading it, I couldn't understand what good such a book would do to anyone(with its "everything is alright" ) and why would he publish such a book.
Reading the interview, I realized , that the content of the book was just random notes Jeff maintained in his early years of awakening and it was not initially meant to be published at all.
May be if I read any of his latest books, I would get some more pointers than the first book.


Hi Suraj, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I haven't actually read Jeff's book yet, however I've watched a number of his videos and some articles on his websites. I can relate to him because I'm also a physics graduate, not to his post graduate level... but my development was certainly impacted by 6 years of studying physics. Those years certainly impacted on my spiritual side for the years that followed. I started to believe more in the materialist view of the world. After some serious personal struggles appeared in my own life (mainly anxiety)... I started pondering the meaning of life in a big way... as I felt something was lacking. I can relate to his own spiritual seeking with my own search.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby ashley72 » Tue May 31, 2011 3:06 am

"Tao Of Physics" PDF version of the book (first 112 pages)

I like this opening part of the book....

Five years ago, I had a beautiful experience which set me on a road that has led to the writing of this book.
I was sitting by the ocean one late summer afternoon, watching the waves rolling in and feeling the rhythm
of my breathing, when I suddenly became aware of my whole environment as being engaged in a gigantic
cosmic dance. Being a physicist, I knew that the sand, rocks, water and air around me were made of
vibrating molecules and atoms, and that these consisted of particles which interacted with one another by
creating and destroying other particles. I knew also that the Earth’s atmosphere was continually bombarded
by showers of ‘cosmic rays’, particles of high energy undergoing multiple collisions as they penetrated the
air. All this was familiar to me from my research in high-energy physics, but until that moment I had only
experienced it through graphs, diagrams and mathematical theories. As I sat on that beach my former
experiences came to life; I ‘saw’ cascades of energy coming down from outer space, in which particles
were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses; I ‘saw’ the atoms of the elements and those of my body
participating in this cosmic dance of energy; I felt its rhythm and I ‘heard’ its sound, and at that moment I
knew that this was the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshipped by the Hindus.
I had gone through a long training in theoretical physics and had done several years of research. At the
same time, I had become very interested in Eastern mysticism and had begun to see the parallels to modern
physics. I was particularly attracted to the puzzling aspects of Zen which reminded me of the puzzles in
quantum theory. At first, however, relating 12 the two was a purely intellectual exercise. To overcome the
The gap between rational, analytical thinking and the meditative Tao of experience of mystical truth, was,
and still is, very difficult for Physics me.
In the beginning, I was helped on my way by ‘power plants’ which showed me how the mind can flow
freely; how spiritual insights come on their own, without any effort, emerging from
thedepth of consciousness. I rememberthefirst such experience. Coming, as it did, after years of detailed
analytical thinking, it was so overwhelming that I burst into tears, at the same time, not unlike Castaneda,
pouring out my impressions on to a piece of paper.
Later came the experience of the Dance of Shiva which I have tried to capture in the photomontage shown
on page 224.

It was followed by many similar experiences which helped me gradually to realize that a
consistent view of the world is beginning to emerge from modern physics which is harmonious with
ancient Eastern wisdom. I took many notes over the years, and wrote a few articles about the parallels I
kept discovering, until I finally summarized my experiences in the present book. This book is intended for
the general reader with an interest in Eastern mysticism who need not necessarily know anything about
physics. I have tried to present the main concepts and theories of modern physics without any mathematics
and in non-technical language, although a few paragraphs may still appear difficult to the layperson at first
reading. The technical terms I had to introduce are all defined where they appear for the first time and are
listed in the index at the end of the book. I also hope to find among my readers many physicists with an
interest in the philosophical aspects of physics, who have as yet not come in contact with the religious
philosophies of the East. They will find that Eastern mysticism provides a consistent and beautiful
philosophical framework which can accommodate our most advanced theories of the physical world.
As far as the contents of the book are concerned, the reader may feel a certain lack of balance between the
presentation of scientific and mystical thought. Throughout the book, his or her understanding of physics
should progress steadily, but a comparable progression in the understanding of Eastern mysticism may not
occur. This seems unavoidable, as mysticism is, above all, an experience that cannot be learned from
books. A deeper understanding of any mystical tradition can only be felt when one decides to become
actively involved in it.
All I can hope to do is to generate the feeling that such an involvement
would be highly rewarding.


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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby Rick » Tue May 31, 2011 4:48 pm

snowheight wrote: but others seem to swim back with a knowledge that the path they left behind leads to the same place as the non-path in front of them.


Snow, forgive me for being a bit slow to understand this, can you expand on your meaning here? An example to illustrate would be helpful.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby snowheight » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:04 pm

Rick wrote:
snowheight wrote: but others seem to swim back with a knowledge that the path they left behind leads to the same place as the non-path in front of them.


Snow, forgive me for being a bit slow to understand this, can you expand on your meaning here? An example to illustrate would be helpful.


Sure I'll give my experience as a specific example.

I'd spent my life studying the popularizers of modern science in search of questions and answers that I'd concluded I wouldn't find in religion. I started out at first, when very young, as an atheist, but the more I learned the more open my mind became. By the time I was willing to consider the proposition that there was something beyond the material, I had concluded that it had to be something (if there was anything) that was much more profound than a personified creator. As per my belief system (skeptical, scientific), I never spent too much time or energy outside of the notion that whatever this might be was simply beyond our current limits of knowledge, and that while it might take a very very long time for us as a species to gain that knowledge, eventually we would, if we didn't destroy ourselves first.

After a few deaths in the family and reading those two books linked to above, I finally encountered and understood the basic philosophical tenant of non-duality which puts the "Perfected Whole" outside of our ability to comprehend, understand, or express in language . Now, forever, and always. (hence the much used term here, "pointers")

It's really funny and interesting just how simple this tenant is -- you don't need to know how to add or subtract much less integrate or differentiate to understand it. It is just a logical proposition, one need not understand a single concept from the physical sciences -- although it does help to have a deeper understanding of the relative nature of this universe of form. It is funny and interesting that my culture neglects this simple truism in that, on it's face, it seems to represent a "giving-in" and presents a problem that no amount of knowledge or progress will ever surmount.

So I spent several years at somewhat of a dead-end -- if whatever That was beyond understanding couldn't be understood, what was the point in learning more? Tolle's was the voice that said "jump!", in that he let me in on the secret that although Perfection can never be understood, it can be felt (or known, if you prefer). That was the leap for me, in that my mind finally had reason to not only hold in abeyance a dismissal of the supernatural, but had evidence, in the form of direct experience, on which to accept the supernatural as fact.

Here I will finally get to directly addressing your question, thank you for your patience: it seems that some that get to this point simply turn down the volume to zero. One example of this is what Jeff Foster describes in the interview that Ash linked us to -- some seekers internalize the idea that there is no me, there is no you, there is no planet Earth, and adopt this as a new belief. Whatever it is that brought them to that point then falls away into a chasm of meaninglessness.

For me, direct experience cast everything that I had learned up to that point in an entirely new light. All of a sudden, it all became VERY interesting again. Not only that, but all of these other perspectives outside of my belief system started looking interesting as well.

Rick, I'm curious, did you have a similar such leap? I infer from some of your posts that your early belief structure was Christian. Did you get to a point where you had to let something go to grasp the non-rung on the non-ladder up thrown down by Tolle or someone else? If so, did you ever have a period in time where your core beliefs were masked, and if so, what made you turn back toward them?

Namaste,

Bill
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby Rick » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:11 pm

snowheight wrote:
So I spent several years at somewhat of a dead-end -- if whatever That was beyond understanding couldn't be understood, what was the point in learning more? Tolle's was the voice that said "jump!", in that he let me in on the secret that although Perfection can never be understood, it can be felt (or known, if you prefer). That was the leap for me, in that my mind finally had reason to not only hold in abeyance a dismissal of the supernatural, but had evidence, in the form of direct experience, on which to accept the supernatural as fact.


snowheight wrote:For me, direct experience cast everything that I had learned up to that point in an entirely new light. All of a sudden, it all became VERY interesting again. Not only that, but all of these other perspectives outside of my belief system started looking interesting as well.


Something made you ready to hear this. Perhaps it was the intellectual dead end you came to but in any case, this was your dark night from which a "new life" arose. You were "born again" with new eyes to see what was always in front of you. It seems that a soul, at a dead end, will cease its struggle and fight and cry a quiet, broken spiritual anguish...a cry of spirit to Spirit. Such a cry, a true prayer if you will, signifies the laying down of one life, a total surrender which opens the door to a Point of Grace of which there is no room for pride.

snowheight wrote:If so, did you ever have a period in time where your core beliefs were masked, and if so, what made you turn back toward them?



Hmmm. How can I say this? I don't think I've ever doubted the existence of God but I never really turned away from my christian beliefs because I was never too attached to many of them. I rejected the catholic church early on for the nonsense and hypocrisy of it all. There were a few things I picked up and never put down. Not rehearsing your words before hand rang true and I adopted it the first time I heard it (Mk 13:11) There were, of course, the beliefs my culture instilled in me, some of which are still unseen. However, In spite of my "christian" background I could sin and still spout scripture even as I toked that joint or pulled my pants back on. It was a strange, schizoidal life. When it finally occurred to me that I WAS a hypocrite, I abandoned pretense and began to let go. I was blessed with enough pain however and finally came to the realization that my mind WAS the problem and began meditating to find freedom from its compulsive slavery. Not long after this I found the grace to leave behind persons and circumstances I should never have picked up, but perhaps needed at the time to bring me to that point. One thing lead to another and I found my self for a year in San Diego, a city in which I did not know a soul and loved the anonymity and aloneness after so many, many years of avoiding it. I would walk the beach as I fasted from knowledge and picked up the Now. One day I was touched by Grace. While walking the beach, I was given to remember the "feeling" of being a baby looking out from my crib for the first time. I now knew what it felt like to be as a little child with not a thought in the head. I remembered what Awareness was and realized that that is who I AM. I found my Center, or rather It found me. It was shortly after this time that I discovered Tolles book TPON. It was the interpretation of what I was experiencing. Now I am here, on this board and find myself reexamining many, many things as others bring them up and speak of them or draw them out of me. So, in a sense, it is this place that is allowing me to "turn back toward" some of my old beliefs and reexamine them with new eyes. Questions like yours are "church" to me. Thank you for asking Bill.
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Re: Spiritual Seeker

Postby hanss » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:27 pm

snowheight wrote:Here are two great books that expound on that idea if anyone is interested.

I'm very interested. Thanks. I have the belief that everything fits very well toghether when the scientists are working with another more open minded approach.
"In today's rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being."
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