Endless Satsang - Nirmala

Gina LakeAfter a lifetime of spiritual seeking, Nirmala met his teacher, Neelam, a devotee of H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji). After experiencing a profound spiritual awakening in India, he has been offering satsang (gatherings for the truth) in the U.S. and internationally since 1998. Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to this rich tradition of inquiry into our true nature. He is the author of several books, including Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self and Living from the Heart. More information and FREE downloads of several of his books are available at: Endless Satsang

Free Ebooks for Your New Kindle, Nook or iPad PDF Print E-mail
Post by Nirmala   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 02:20

For those of you who received a Kindle, Nook, iPad or other ereader as a gift for the holidays, here are some free ebooks to download:

Note: Nirmala and Gina's free ebooks are now also available for free on the Amazon Kindle store. Some of our ebooks have always been free on this site and on Barnes and Noble's Nook store, Apple's iBooks, and Sony and Kobo ebookstores, but Amazon has always required that we charge a minimum of $.99 for the ebooks we sell on their Kindle store. Now Amazon has dropped the prices to match the other ebookstores so the following Kindle ebooks are now free on Amazon. Click on the title to go to the Amazon store where you can download them for free, or follow the other links for the Nook store. To find our free ebooks on iBooks, do a search for our names.

Free ebook by Nirmala on Kindle and Nook.

Free Kindle Ebook: That Is That: Essays About True Nature by Nirmala
That Is That: Essays About True Nature is a free ebook collection of articles and answers to questions posed by spiritual seekers. It captures the essence of spiritual inquiry and provides the reader with a real transmission of Presence on every page. Nirmala's warm-hearted and accepting presence makes it possible to drop into the space he so eloquently describes, where peace, love, and joy abide.

Free Kindle Ebook: Gifts With No Giver: A Love Affair With Truth, Poems by Nirmala
A free collection of nondual spiritual poetry written from the Heart by Nirmala, who is a spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition. This spiritual poetry attempts to capture the undying presence of love in all of its forms. Let your soul be deeply touched by the Rumi-like words of a lover drunk with a passion for the truth.

New: Free spiritual ebook by Gina Lake

NEW: Free Kindle Ebook: What About Love? Reminders for Being Loving by Gina Lake
What About Love? Reminders for Being Loving is a collection of 23 essays and 58 short quotes about love and relationship taken from Gina Lake’s many books, which are meant to expand your understanding of love, drop you into a more loving space, and inspire you daily to be more loving.

NewRadianceFree Kindle Ebook: Radiance: Experiencing Divine Presence by Gina Lake

Radiance shows you how to experience the Divine in the world in simple ways by being very present. It is possible to experience the mysterious truth that everything is an expression of the Divine by paying close attention to the many signs that reveal this great Mystery. 

(Optional: Buy a Kindle from Amazon.com to read the ebooks on this page.)

(Ebooks can be read on many devices including your computer)
Fears Are True, But Fortunately Not Very True PDF Print E-mail
Post by Nirmala   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 23:05

Someone emailed me this question:

The recent congressional budget crisis has brought up a lot of fear and frustration.  We've been told that the consequenes of a stalemate would be "catastrophic".  It is difficult to deal with the emotions that come up around this possibility, partially because this isn't just a personal concern; a lot of people would be affected.  The pundits say that it would hurt most economies around the world, and that's difficult to think about. Accepting this placidly seems impossible.  Can I ask how you are coping and how you would advise in handling the fear and sadness that this situation brings up?

I replied:

The problem with our fears is that they are all true. Anything we can imagine could happen, and so all of our fears have some truth to them. However, none of our fears have much truth. In fact they have very little truth, and most of them have a ridiculously small amount of truth to them.

First of all, none of our fears have come true yet. If they had,we would not be fearing them anymore! So in that sense, all fear only exists as thoughts in our minds. Fear only exists right now as the movement of thought and feeling, and that is a very small existence. Yet, it is something that we have been taught to focus on. We have been asked over and over, "What do you think?" and "What do you feel?" As a result we pay close attention to the movements of thought and feelings in our mind and body. What do I think about this? What do I think about that? So even though their actual existence is very slight, they can seem much more important and true than they really are. We even use the argument, "Well, that's what I think!" to make a point, as if the mere fact that I think something makes it true!

Secondly, even when a fearful thought comes true, our ideas about what that will be like are usually very incomplete and inaccurate. Using your example of the debt crisis in the news right now, if the worst case scenario happens and the debt ceiling is not raised, it is still unlikely that all of the disasters predicted would actually come true. For example, it is unlikely that the debt ceiling would never be raised. Many of the terrible scenarios depicted by the media would only happen if the government was unable to borrow more money for months and months. And most likely the congress would finally act after the deadline passed and then fix the problem That is what happened back when the TARP program was only passed after the first attempt failed and then the stock market dropped dramatically. A few days later the congress passed TARP on the second try. And who knows, this whole dramatic episode might even shift our political process into a new and more productive direction. So the specific content of our fears is never a very complete picture of what will happen or can happen.

When we shrink our fears down to actual size, they turn out to be cute little unimportant thoughts. However, because they are actually such small truths, they're very effective at contracting our awareness. In this way, they can provide a lot of intensity and drama to our existence. It is this intensity and drama that fuels our tendency to become hypnotized by the media and its focus on the fear producing stories out there. The contraction of awareness is truly a kind of hypnosis or trance that fear triggers in us.

With any form of hypnosis, the antidote is awareness. The more aware you become of your thoughts and fears, the less hypnotized you become by the content of your thoughts and fears. You can also become aware of the underlying structure of thought and feelings. Thought mostly functions to contract our awareness and put us into various trance states. This is not a mistake, but like any other game, it does get old after a while. And then we naturally feel drawn to experiencing more often the flow of awareness without any illusions getting in the way.

The key again is awareness. Years ago, I studied a form of therapeutic hypnosis. As we learned how to induce a hypnotic trance, the instructor explained that by understanding more about how hypnotic trances are triggered, we would become less susceptible to them. We would recognize that someone or something is hypnotizing us and then we could choose whether to follow the suggestions or other trance inducing process.

One of the methods for inducing a trance is to get someone to focus their awareness. One example is the classic method of telling someone to focus on a swinging object like a pocket watch. Similarly, the dramatic and extreme images of dire possible future outcomes get us to focus intently on the images on the television. We are hypnotized by the images on the TV. Television uses many of the techniques I learned for hypnosis. And even more amazing is how our own mind uses those same techniques to shape our own awareness. We have learned what images and thoughts will trigger the deepest trances and so we become hypnotized by our own thoughts! Again this is ultimately not a mistake as consciousness wants to experience all of the different states that are possible, including all of the trance states we call fear.

But there is also no reason not to wake up from your fear trances. Notice the contraction of awareness that comes with every fear. This is a direct sign that your awareness is leaving something out. The more contracted your awareness is, the more expanded your unawareness is! You can wake up from a fear induced trance by simply noticing what else is true besides the content of your fearful thoughts, or by becoming very curious about the feelings and sensations in your body. How true is the content of your thought? What else is true? What else is possible? How do you even know what you are thinking right now? How do you know you are afraid? What sensations are present that let you know you are afraid? Are they really bad sensations or just different sensations? 

It is a bit tricky, because directing your awareness in this way to the mental structures and visceral sensations of the fear can start dissolving the fear. It is like the mirages of water you sometimes see on the highway: as you get closer they always disappear. As we get closer to and more curious about our fears, they tend to disappear. All that has disappeared is a thought or feeling that was patterning your awareness. Without that thought or feeling, your awareness expands again to include more of the truth. And it just turns out that the biggest truths here are the truths of love, divine intelligence and the mystery and beauty of life. These bigger truths are not very scary at all! At any moment, you can turn away from the television screen, or from the "television screen" of your own mind, and then you can see what else is here besides your thoughts and fears.

Personally, I am fascinated by all of this. I enjoy occasionally watching or reading the news and especially enjoy watching all of the reactions it can trigger in me and in others. I also enjoy the moments where awareness penetrates into all of this in a new way. For example, as you become more curious about your own fear, you may start to see how much of our society is driven by fear. These political battles are often between one set of fears and another set of fears. And both sides cannot see how their fears limit their view, which naturally leads to extreme or imbalanced approaches. The antidote is always more awareness and truth. The truth really does set you free.

I hope this helps.

Emptiness Knows Better than You PDF Print E-mail
Post by Nirmala   
Friday, 25 February 2011 01:36

Someone wrote the following:

A big part of my question on 'how to?' comes from seeing the confidence that you and other teachers exude in regards to enlightenment. Teachers like you, Adyashanti and especially teachers such as Nisargadatta have such an iron rock solid self-assuredness about the truth - that I don't seem to share. I am in a state of questioning, where you are not, and I want this rock solid assuredness!

However, the scenario i find myself in is similar to a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey. You have what I do not. And i reach for this carrot (enlightenment) and every time I get disappointed and even sometimes chastised, well in front of Nisargadatta i am sure I would be!

The frustration of this is becoming absolutely and intolerably unbearable! Is there something i am not getting? Is there a refuge or not? How come you have rock solid iron assuredness where i do not? Can you offer me anything here? Should i even want enlightenment?

I replied as follows:

Your question is a very good one. And while I cannot speak for the other teachers you mention, I can share my own experience and perspective.

We often search for things like "rock solid assuredness" in the wrong place. We hope to find some kind of solidity and sureness either in the outer world by becoming secure and safe through money and power, or we hope to find it in some final understanding or enlightenment experience that will stick around. And these things never give us that sense of solidity, assuredness or security that we seek because both outer and inner experience is always changing.

The true source of everything that matters including a solid sense of connection to Being is emptiness itself. Emptiness is at the core of everything including our body and our awareness. Yet emptiness does not seem like a very promising place to find anything solid! And it is not that emptiness itself is solid, emptiness has no qualities, that is why we call it emptiness. But while emptiness has no qualities, it does have an infinite capacity to express or create all of the qualities of existence that really matter like love, peace, joy, strength, clarity, compassion and many more. These qualities are real and "solid". They have much more substance when they arise than our thoughts and mental images, and they even have more reality and solidity than physical objects.

The challenge is that you can never know what will arise out of emptiness in any particular moment, or even if anything will arise at all. So one moment there may be a powerful sense of pure existence that is solid and more real than a mountain of stone arising out of the empty source of all experiences. And the next moment there may be more of a sense of spacious light joy that does not feel particularly solid, but is still incredibly real. And the next moment may just be plain empty beyond any concept of emptiness we can imagine.

What you are interpreting as a rock solid assuredness in the teacher may instead be a deep sense of trust that whatever arises next will be fine. I do not ever know what is going to arise in the next moment, but I have developed a visceral sense of trust that it will be fine whatever it is. Trust is subtly different from the rock solid sensation of assuredness you describe that can still come and go. Trust is more like a soft warm golden light that allows an open and totally accepting embrace of uncertainty and surprises. It is more subtle and yet more real than even the experiences of certainty that come and go. It is a more fundamental quality that arises out of the emptiness that everything else also appears in.

The recognition of your capacity for trust is gained from experience. You probably trust physical objects to behave like physical objects because you have so much experience of them. The same thing can happen with more and more experience of your true nature. However, the trust of true nature is necessarily more subtle because true nature is so infinitely varied in its expression. Yet this subtlety means that as this essential  trust deepens, more and more can be included. It  ultimately turns out that everything that has ever happened has actually come from this infinite capacity of your true nature as emptiness to express itself in all of the dimensions of existence.

This is why it is so helpful to deeply explore and sense and understand every experience that arises. They are all showing you something about your true nature. I would suggest that you make friends with your uncertainty and get to know it very well. Uncertainty is the lack of certainty. And the lack of anything is actually just the experience of emptiness. Whenever it seems like something is missing, that means there is an experience of emptiness. It is an endless surprise to find that the source of the thing that is missing is that same feeling of lack or emptiness. Any certainty or insight or understanding that you ever feel comes directly out of the sense of emptiness which your mind can label as a lack of certainty. In fact, it is in the moments when we allow ourselves to not know that insight or knowing is most able to arise.

The trust is in knowing that even when certainty is not here, that the source of certainty is here. And it is also the source of love, joy, curiosity, and everything else that really matters. The important thing is not an ongoing experience of solidity or assuredness or any other quality of Being, but rather a trust that those qualities will arise when truly needed. And since trust is the more important aspect, it turns out that this does not mean that an experience of solidity or assuredness arises whenever we want it to. For the trust to become fully developed requires us to endlessly let go of any agenda for how it should feel or what should arise. That is how you can discover that whatever is here can be trusted completely. The emptiness knows better than you what is needed in this moment.

I hope this is helpful.

Nirmala is a nondual spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of nondual self inquiry. He offers satsang or “gatherings for the truth” across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless love that is our true nature. He also offers Nondual Spiritual Mentoring, or spiritual counseling, in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several free spiritual ebooks about nonduality, spirituality, spiritual awakening, including a collection of spiritual poetry entitled Gifts with No Giver. More information about mentoring sessions and free satsang videos are available on his website at http://www.endless-satsang.com.

The Least Amount of Effort in Meditation PDF Print E-mail
Post by Nirmala   
Thursday, 01 July 2010 10:01

Someone emailed me with some questions about the role of effort in meditation, and about their tendency to try to hard until they felt a sense of strain while meditating. Here is my response:

Your questions are very good ones. It seems to come down to the question of effort or no effort. And yet there is an in-between place where you make the very minimum amount of effort. That is what meditation is really for: to find the place where you are efforting the very least amount possible. The very least amount of effort is to just notice what is happening and then allow it to be the way it is.

This does require effort, but so little that the tendency is to still try too hard, for example by focusing the noticing in some way, like noticing the thoughts. Even more simple is just noticing whatever awareness touches whether it is a thought, a sensation, a blank or empty experience, or even an arising of presence or Being.

The point of this minimal effort is to simply to be present. The only measure of whether it was a "good" meditation or not is whether you sat there for the allotted time or not. Anything else that happens or any results of the meditation are not your concern. Even surrender is not something you do, it is just something that happens to you. By meditating, you are present if surrender happens to you. You are also present if conditioning gets triggered, or total dissolution of the ego and merging into the Absolute happens. You are also present if your butt starts to ache or you get restless. You are present if nothing happens. Your only job is to be present. Everything else is in the hands of Being or Presence.

However, there is a little twist to all of this in that if trying to hard arises, then you can just be present to the experience of trying to hard. You mention a feeling of strain that arises. What is that like? How do you know there is strain? What sensations are present that let you know there is strain present? Are they bad sensations? You do not need to fix or change the experience of straining. Just give it attention like anything else.

There are practical things you can do to allow yourself to be more present. One of them is to drop into the Heart as you mention, or you may also try dropping your awareness all the way down into your belly. Then just let the noticing happen from the Heart and/or belly. This accesses the natural capacity of your Being to just notice. It is easier to give this very least effort of noticing from the lower centers of the body without the sense of strain arising, or the counfusion that comes from trying to figure all of this out with the mind.

Lastly, you can simply know that it is working perfectly. The actual unfolding and awakening of your consciousness is again not something you do. It is just something that happens to you. Meditation and even self-inquiry are just a means to be home when Presence arises. They do not cause Presence to happen, they just mean that you are noticing when it does happen.

Nirmala is a nondual spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of nondual self inquiry. He offers satsang or “gatherings for the truth” across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless love that is our true nature. He also offers Nondual Spiritual Mentoring, or spiritual counseling, in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several free ebooks about nonduality, spirituality, enlightenment, and spiritual awakening, including a collection of Rumi-like spiritual poems entitled Gifts with No Giver. More information about mentoring sessions and free satsang videos are available on his website at http://www.endless-satsang.com.

Half the Truth PDF Print E-mail
Post by Nirmala   
Tuesday, 23 March 2010 22:57

I very often get email questions asking about the contradictions found in all of the spiritual teaching out there, not to mention all of the contradictions in life itself! This can be very confusing to the mind, so i thought I would post this response to one of the questions I received to perhaps help sort it out:

First I would point out that whenever anyone writes or speaks (even spiritual teachers) they are at best speaking half of the truth. It is just the limitation inherent in words. Most of the time we all speak much less than half of the truth.

So when you read words that seem contradictory from different spiritual teachers or even from the same spiritual teacher, this is because it is necessary to contradict yourself to fully express the truth. There are many levels and dimension and perspectives within consciousness and they are all valid.

The real gift of any teaching is when it points out the part of the truth that has not been seen or is being overlooked. And it is natural when we discover the part of the truth that we have not known, that then we want to hang onto it and even deny or reject the opposite truth. So as challenging as it may be to accept, dualistic teachings are correct, pure nonduality is correct and everything else is correct to a greater or lesser degree.

Just to be clear, some things are true but not very true at all. So very narrow, bigoted perspectives may have an extremely tiny piece of truth, but that does not make them important or very helpful or worthwhile. A simple example of something that is true but not very true is a lottery ticket. It is true that if you buy a lottery ticket that you can win, but it is not very true. In fact it is a ridiculously small truth!

What really matters is whether someone's words expand your own experience of the truth or not. And the way you know is that anything that adds to or expands your experience of truth also opens and softens your heart, quiets your mind, and expands your sense of your self. So when words do this, you can savor them and ponder them to fully absorb what they are pointing to. And if anyone's words (even spiritual teachers) cause the opposite effect of contracting your heart, making your mind busy, and making you feel small or inadequate, then you can know that truth is not important for you. You do not need to reject it or make it wrong, just let it be there and move onto something that is truer for you.

Nirmala is a nondual spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of nondual self inquiry. He offers satsang or “gatherings for the truth” across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless love that is our true nature. He also offers Nondual Spiritual Mentoring, or spiritual counseling, in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several free ebooks about nonduality, spirituality, enlightenment, and spiritual awakening, including a collection of Rumi-like spiritual poems entitled Gifts with No Giver. More information about mentoring sessions and free satsang videos are available on his website at http://www.endless-satsang.com.

What to Do When There Is No Doer? PDF Print E-mail
Post by Nirmala   
Tuesday, 05 January 2010 07:57

Spiritual teachings suggest that there is no doer, that there is no separate self that is the source of our actions. This teaching is the source of much confusion, as it is contrary to our experience. It seems that there is a doer and that “I” am the doer: “I” get up in the morning, “I” walk the dog, and “I” drive to work. How do these things happen if there is no doer? And if there is no doer, then what do I do? How do I live my life if there is no one here to live it? What do I do if there is no doer?

This confusion exists because spiritual teachings point to something that doesn’t exist in the usual way. The nature of reality can’t be described or explained with words, and it can’t be experienced through the ordinary senses. In speaking about something that can’t be spoken about, the easiest approach is often to use negation. If you can’t speak directly about something, then you are left with saying what it is not.

So spiritual teachings contain a lot of negation: There is no self. There is no doer. The world is an illusion. Not this. Not that. Negation can be effective in pointing us away from false ideas about the ultimate truth of things, and it can encourage us to look within to see the falseness of the idea of a “me.” If you take a moment to look for yourself, you will see that there is nothing you can identify as a separate self. So, in this sense, it is accurate to say that there is no self and no doer.

However, the mind can’t conceive of or even really experience nothing. If you are experiencing something, then that is by definition not nothing. So when the mind is pointed to nothing or to the absence of a self or a doer, it makes a picture or concept of nothing and thinks about that. If we are told there is no doer, the mind makes a picture of the absence of somebody, something like an empty chair or a broom sweeping by itself.

Again, this contradicts our actual experience. There is something in the chair when I sit down in it. The broom only sweeps when I pick it up and start sweeping. So there is obviously a distortion or inaccuracy in the approach of negation. While it does evoke a certain experience of emptiness that can be spacious and restful, it doesn’t capture the totality of reality. It leaves out our real world experience.

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