Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mindfulness and self-investigation

are combined in this course in Paris for those leaving in the area : (Méditation de Pleine Conscience et Investigation de Soi).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quotes by Nisargadatta

An excellent website that displays a quotation from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj each time you go on this address :

It became my homepage !
Danke schön mpeters !

Example :

"The light of consciousness passes through the film of memory and throws pictures on your brain. Because of the deficient and disorded state of your brain, what you perceive is distorted and coloured by feelings of like and dislike. Make your thinking orderly and free from emotional overtones, and you will see people and things as they are, with clarity and charity."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Critiques of Ken Wilber's thought

The American writer Ken Wilber has become celebrated as an advocate of integral philosophy. He has also become the focus of a controversy within the ranks of disenchanted admirers and other critics. The varied ingredients of this controversy, encompassing metaphysical, philosophical, and psychological matters, are of increasing interest. The article below attempts an overview of this situation, referring to the diverse writings of Wilber and his critics.

This article includes other links to critiques.
about Ken Wilber
about SDi and KW :

Warning. Those links are focusing on critics and critiques and leave little space for the positive contributions of Ken Wilber's thought. Still they are important in my opinion to get the whole picture.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Evolution and The Meaning of Life

I watched some videos lately with Andrew Cohen explaining his Evolutionary Enlightenment. As we talk more and more about evolution in a spiritual context (Ken Wilber, Spiral Dynamics regarding values-economies--cultures), and as this is going out of any phenomenological verifiable self-experience, I decided to begin to explore the different views about it and what science can tell us.

There are two things that I have explored :
- the origins of life (in other words, why manifestation ?) (Andrew Cohen's response : because there is nothing else to do, because of Consciousness love for itself (a kind of Kosmic narcissism)),
- evolution.

Not being very knowledgeable on those topics, I found information about Richard Dawkins, Intelligent Design, The Skeptic Magazine as a starting point. There are quite a few videos on Youtube. (see also 'Stupid Design' )
Dawkins 'The Purpose of Purpose' :
Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine lays out a "Baloney Detection Kit," ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim. :

I also stumbled upon an article on Wikipedia about The meaning of Life.
It presents a nice overview.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Francis Lucille : the (seemingly) ordinary Presence which is aware of these words right now

"The core of my experience, consistent with the accounts of awareness by some of the teachers you are referring to and others (Jean Klein, Ramana Maharshi, Atmananda Krishna Menon, Robert Adams, Ma Ananda Mai, Gaudapada, Shankara, Buddha, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, Parmenides, Huang Po, Lao Tse, etc), is precisely that the (seemingly) ordinary Presence which is aware of these words right now is universal, immortal and divine. And we are not talking here about oblivion or eternal stupor, but truly about eternal awareness."

Friday, August 14, 2009

About styles of teaching

As I put some links about Andrew Choen lately I also stumbled upon some controversy about his personality. I read some parts of the book Enlightenment Blues MY YEARS WITH AN AMERICAN GURU by Andre van der Braak, a former student of Andrew Cohen (AC) for 11 years until 1999, as well as some posts on other blogs.
I find those master or guru/student relationships very unwholesome if they did really occur.

As if enlightenment could be controlled either by the guru or by the pupil (as the loyalty required by AC seems to suggest in this book). It seems such an illusory relationship based on an imagined state of what enlightenment must be ! The interest in non-dual pointers is precisely to give a quick taste of what an enlightened mind is to avoid the mind to create a imaginary salute in a distant future.

There seems to be so much unrealistic expectation from both parts (notice the harsh language used by AC in the excerpt below). That looks like a love affair based on ego. It leaves so little individual freedom and a sense of alienation to the externals (guru here).

I saw this "love affair" going on around teachers who are put on pedestals or much worse who place themselves on the pedestal (!!) or both. And I also saw it happening around me at one time too before I used vulgarity and derision to avoid being put on a pedestal !

I think it also runs counter to non-duality where there is no absolute distinction between people.

It is also so alien to our rational culture based on methodical and healthy skepticism that I am sometimes surprised it happens to so many Western educated people who should have had some courses about critical thinking and evidence-based theory. At the same time, as a friend told me, I understand that it can happen when we talk about something that precisely should transcend the mind, and when the teacher seems to know what is talking about while we are confused and left wondering how to access this absolute. A kind of irrational leap of confidence.

I like also Nisargadatta's comments about gurus that in essence they are just here to point you to your inner guru and you should feel well and at ease in their presence. Here the guru seems pretty external to me.
It leaves too little autonomy. I think one aim of any teaching is to make people autonomous in their own research or search (like in education where we begin at primary schools with simple exercises up to our own research and findings at PhD).

I am also skeptical of teachers who think they know everything and that their own and only approach is the answer to all diverse situations. The diversity of paths and methods is here for a reason.

Ok. Enough said. Let's quote the end of this book to have a glimpse of those kinds of relationships:

"I feel completely torn and confused. I want to leave Andrew, yet I feel bound to him by an absolute sense of loyalty. I don’t believe in his revolution anymore and yet I feel guilty for doubting him. Like Faust I feel tormented by two souls, and paralyzed as a result of it. The fact that I’m looking up my friend now shows which soul I want to kill — the soul that hangs on to the relationship with Andrew, that can’t let go of the ideal of enlighten-ment. I feel like an alchemist looking for ways to manipulate the various parts of my soul, to break the deadlock, so that the decision I want to take can be taken by the stronger part. I no longer feel an autonomous agent, capable of independent decisions. Opposing forces are at war within me, and may the strongest one win.
In the study, its walls lined with books, we sit on chairs opposite each other, each with a cup of tea. From what I tell my friend it becomes very obvious that I want to leave An-drew. Yet he tells me to take my time, don’t rush any decision, and don’t let things esca-late to an irreparable conflict.
In the afternoon I go back to Amsterdam and sit on a terrace. I should finally write that letter to Andrew. That letter of goodbye. I struggle with writing down the simple state-ment that I am leaving without burning my bridges behind me. Whatever I try, I know it’s insufficient. Is there a way to leave honorably? Dutifully I show up at the center for dinner and meditation. Everyone sees that I look like a ghost. They all avoid me. I think it’s better like that. Someone asks me how I’m doing. My answers are not encouraging, I can tell from her face. She encourages me to hang in there, don’t give up. From a sinner I’ve be-come a patient.
That evening, as I’m ready to go to bed, there’s a phone call from Foxhollow; a mes-sage to call Andrew back. So finally it’s time for the master himself to get involved. I pick up the phone and dial the number. There’s Andrew’s voice on the other end of the line. Now it will all be decided...
7.4. The Last Phone Call
Andrew digs in right away. He says he’s heard bad things about me, that the people in Amsterdam don’t know anymore what to do with me. He says that’s unacceptable for him.
As usual, his intensity has an overpowering effect on me. I take a deep breath.
“Well, Andrew, last Sunday I asked to be allowed not to be a formal student anymore, and actually I still think that would be best. I don’t have it in me to be a formal student right now. I’ve run out of gas. What I’d like to do is to step back for six months or so, to recharge my batteries.”
Andrew laughs derisively. He says that’s the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. What good would that do?
There’s no turning back now. I have to continue even though I know he will disagree.
“Andrew, the nine months of the hundred rebirthing sessions had a positive effect on me. They helped me to strengthen my clarity of intention.”
I realize that the comparison is moot. I just want out, but I want out without burning my bridges behind me. I’m like a lawyer negotiating a deal, trying to find an exit strategy.
Andrew is not in the mood for bargaining. He’s unwavering.
“Then you would leave for six months and come back as the great Andre who’s done it again? Your ego would be restored, and you’d have the strength to last another few years. That doesn’t have anything to do with my teaching. Tell me, Andre, does that have anything to do with my teaching?”
I sigh. “No, Andrew.”
“What is my teaching? It doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t matter what you feel. It only matters what you do.”
I think back to Jose’s song. That seems so long ago; when the four of us undertook our desperate attempt to get back into the community. And now Jose has left, Donald has left, and I?
Andrew’s voice goes up another notch, as he tells me that there are moments in life where we just have to respond blindly, blindly leap forward into the unknown without worrying about the consequences, without worrying about ourselves. He says my re-sponse has been pathetic since last Sunday, that I didn’t even apologize properly to every-one about what I had done.
“Yes, Andrew.”
“Listen Andre, I don’t give a damn about your personal evolution anymore. I just want to be able to use you for my community. I need you in Amsterdam. Even that asshole Harry is letting me down now. Robert says he’s not coming through. He’s really a jerk.”
I am shocked that Andrew speaks that way about Harry, who has been a hundred times more loyal than I’ve been over the years. Harry has given his life to Andrew. What more could Andrew possibly expect from anyone?
Apparently Harry’s retreat is not going well. Probably, like John before, Harry is now being crushed to bits.
“Andre, you just have to do it now. If you don’t do it now, your eleven years with me don’t mean a thing. It will all have been a big lie!” I feel myself getting angry. If Andrew is trying to get a rise out of me, he’s succeeding. But I won’t give him the satisfaction of showing him.
Andrew continues ranting that everything he said about me in Rishikesh was an un-derstatement, that I don’t want to give anything, that I haven’t understood his teachings at all. He says with all my cleverness I’m making a mockery out of his teachings. “You have no idea what real love is all about. I feel you’re messing with me, Andre. You’re not taking me seriously.”
My heart is beating loudly in my chest. It physically hurts to hear him saying this. But at the same time I feel a strange detachment. I don’t feel any contact with him whatsoever. Doubt asks me, “So this is the man you fell in love with eleven years ago? This is the man who loves you unconditionally?” I don’t have the energy to answer Doubt anymore. Does this man love me? Or is he just furious with me because I’m an unreliable factor in his ma-chine? Because he can’t use me as he wants to? Does ‘care for the whole’ actually mean “care for Andrew’s community?” Does ‘Thy will be done’ mean “Andrew’s will be done?”
I listen to Andrew’s voice, getting ever more high-pitched, with resignation. I’m run-ning on empty. It’s like when Andrew yelled at me in Rishikesh, only ten times worse. Doubt continues, “Is this your enlightened spiritual teacher on the phone, or an emotional five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum?” I don’t know. At best it’s both.
“All right, Andre. I want to hear your answer now. What’s it going to be? Are you go-ing to go for it?”
Silence. I feel utterly paralyzed. What can I say to Andrew? I’m sorry and that I’ll do anything to better my life? Just like I said to Robert a few weeks ago? I can’t get it past my lips. Get furious with him and tell him he’s behaving like a little child? I’d like to do that but I still feel bound by a thin thread of loyalty, based on I don’t know what.
The silence extends three seconds, five seconds. I can feel Andrew getting angrier every second.
“Andre,” he explodes, “you’re not responding. You’re holding out on me. This is so aggressive what you’re doing. You’re totally in the grips of your megalomaniac ego.”
“Yes, Andrew,” I manage to bring out, still paralyzed.
“I can’t tolerate this, Andre. You’re jerking me around. No one has ever jerked me around like you have over the years.”
I don’t say anything. Then Andrew’s voice barks at me again, enunciating the words clearly.
“Andre,” he says menacingly, “you are evil!”
There’s a click and the telephone connection is broken. I stand with the receiver in my hands. I notice sweat is poring down my face. My t-shirt is soaked. Did I hear him cor-rectly? Did he actually call me “evil” just now? I slowly exhale, noticing that I have been holding my breath.
I know one thing very certainly now. The spell has been broken. These last three words have snapped the elastic of our relationship. I can’t believe that someone who calls me evil has the best intentions for me. There are certain human boundaries that must be respected. I feel angry, sad, relieved, determined. So this is it. This is the end of eleven years of my life. The fairy tale is over."

Some clips from Andrew Cohen's Being and Becoming retreat