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#1408 - Monday, April 21, 2003 - Editor: Jerry  


we made a fence today to screen a shed...
Jon did the hard part, setting the poles and splitting bamboo with a machete. I had the fun job of weaving.
--Wildgarden (Live Journal)

Live Journal

play pass it's a gas
i alone exists
up down all around
i alone exits
live dead in yer head
i alone exists
in out all about
i alone exists

Seeker of Sages
Live Journal  

.....Ultimate Solution.....

feels like sunburn,
The salt mind sinks
into The Sea....

from The Other Syntax  

"...When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only
when there is something we can still cling to..."

The Second Ring of Power
Carlos Castaneda

Benjamin Root
Advaitin list

Miracle of Consciousness  

Namaste!   Here is a simple idea which I believe encapsulates the essence of
what makes Indian religions so special.

Other religions tend to be obsessed with God as an object.  Indian
religions (or at least Vedanta and Buddhism) place the focus on
consciousness.  This sensitivity to the miracle of consciousness is,
in my opinion, the most inspired and luminous aspect of these
spiritual paths.

Most of us take our consciousness for granted most of the time.  We
are usually preoccupied with the petty details of life ... all
objects.  When was the last time we realized with wonder how amazing
it is that we are conscious in the first place?  What an unfathomable
mystery it is to be conscious!  But normally we just 'look through'
consciousness at the so-called objects and become engrossed in them.

In fact, the miracle of consciousness is so amazing that one who is
fully aware of it must conclude that it is inherently divine.  Yes,
consciousness is inherently divine!  This is an immediately available
truth that requires no scripture but only sensitive awareness of our
immediate nature.  And it is no pretentious claim  on my part.  Just
think about it for a minute without preconceptions!  Since you are
interested in this list, then you surely know what I mean.

It is because I find such sentiments echoed in, e.g., the Upanishads,
that I accept them as truth.  It is not that I arbitrarily decide
that the Upanishads must be 'it' and I will therefore program my
brain with them.  That notion is abhorrent.

The 'Tat tvam asi' or 'Aham Brahmasmi' is something that can be
immediately verified by anyone with calm and pure introspection.  We
can get a glimpse of it just by being silently aware of our true
nature.  Of course, the great sages have plunged far deeper into the
miracle of consciousness and have thereby burned away all their
psychological impurities.  But I don't hesitate to say that we can
catch a glimpse of this ourselves, right now, no matter who we are or
how 'bad' we are, just by being aware of the miracle of
consciousness!  It requires no thought and no effort.


Bhattathity M P

The greatness of India  

Did you know the following facts about India.  

1.  India invented the Number system. Pingalacharya invented 'zero.' in
    200 BC.

2.  Indians discovered the size, shape, rotation and gravity of earth
    about 1000 years before Kelvin,Galileo,Newton and Copper Nicus.
    Aryabhatta I was the first to explain spherical shape,size
    ,diameter,rotaion and correct speed of Earth in 499 AD.

3.  Newton's law of Gravitational force is an ancient Indian discovery.
    In Siddhanta Siromani ( Bhuvanakosam 6 ) Bhaskaracharya II described
    about gravity of earth about 400 years before Sir Isaac Newton.

4.  The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in
    100 BC.

5.  Indians discovered Arithmetic and Geometric progression. Arithmetic
    progression is explained in Yajurveda.

6.  Govindaswamin discovered Newton Gauss Interpolation formula about
    1800 years before Newton.

7.  Vateswaracharya discovered Newton Gauss Backward Interpolation
    formula about 1000 years before Newton.

8.  Madhavacharya discovered Taylor series of Sine and Cosine function
    about 250 years before Taylor.

9.  Madhavacharya discovered Newton Power series.  

10. Madhavacharya discovered Gregory Leibnitz series for the Inverse
    Tangent about 280 years before Gregory.

11. Madhavacharya discovered Leibnitz power series for pi about 300 years
    before Leibnitz.

12. Parameswaracharya discovered Lhuiler's formula about 400 years before

13. Nilakanta discovered Newton's Infinite Geometric Progression
    convergent series.

14. Theorems relating the diameter,volume and circumference of circles
    discovered by Madhavacharya,Puthumana Somayaji,Aryabhatta,

15. The value of pi was first calculated by Aryabhatta I in 499 AD,ie
    more than 1350 years before Lindemann

16. Boudhayana discovered Pythagorus Theorem in 800BC. ie 300 years
    before Pythagorus.

17. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic
    equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th Century.

18. While the Greeks were using only upto a max imum value 1000, Indians
    could go upto 18th power of 10 level during Vedic period.

19. Infinity was well known for ancient Indians. BhaskaracharyaII in
    Beejaganitha(stanza-20) has given clear explanation with examples for

20. Positive and Negative numbers and their calculations were explained
    first by Brahmagupta in his book Brahmasputa Siddhanta.

21. Maharshi Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and
    health scientists of his time conducted surgeries like cesareans,
    cataract, fractures and urinary stones. Usage of anesthesia was well
    known in ancient India. He was the first person to perform plastic

22. When many cultures in the world were only nomadic forest dwellers
    over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu
    Valley (Indus Valley Civilization).

23. The world's first University was established in Takshila in 700BC.
    More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than
    60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC
    was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of

24. According to the Forbes magazine, Sanskrit is the most suitable
    language for computer software.

25. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.  

26. Although western media portray modern images of India as poverty
    stricken and underdeveloped through political corruption, India was
    once the richest empire on earth.

27. According to the Gemmological Institute of America, until 1896, India
    was the only source of diamonds to the world.

28. USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion
    amongst academics that the pioneer of wireless communication was
    Professor Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.

29. The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in

30. Chess was invented in India.  

31. The first philosopher who formulated ideas about the atom in a
    systematic manner was Kanada who lived in the 6th century B.C.

32. All the atomic reactors in the world are in Shiva Linga Shape which
    is an Indian contribution.

33. Padanjali maharshi discovered Soundwaves.  

34. Yoga is an ancient Indian gift to the world.  

35. Shayanacharya discovered velocity of light.  

36. Maharshi Bharadwaja discovered different types of light rays.  

37. Maharshi Bharadwaja was the first person to give definition about
    aeroplane. He explained about different types aeroplanes in his book
    "Vimana Thantra" about 2000 years before Right Brothers.

38. Maharshi Bharadwaja discovered spectrometer. In his "Yantra Sarvaswa"
    he explained about more than 100 instruments.

39. The different colours of light, VIBGYOR are mentioned in Rigveda
    which was written more than 6000 years ago.

40. Maharshi Charaka discovered Psychology and Quantum healing system.  

41. Varahamihira discovered the concept of "Budding of plants".  

42. Seven continents are mentioned in Padmapurana.  

43. Judo and karate which are coming to India from the far-east
    originated in ancient India

Reference Books.  

1.  "Indian Scientific Heritage" by Dr.N.GopalaKrishnan  

2.  "Theorems discovered by Indians" by Dr.N.GopalaKrishnan  

3.  "India's contribution to World culture" by Sudheer Birodkar  

All of the above are some of the discoveries of Indians which are at
present known in the names of European and Western Scholars. Many more
such theorems are unknown to the world . Most of the modern discoveries
were already explained in our Vedas, Upanishads and other Scriptures by
our great scientists whom we call Rishis. Thousands of such discoveries
are there in our Scriptures. Let us take the initiative to find out those
facts and spread them across the globe and thereby make every Indian
proud. Please forward this email to everyone you know. It is your, mine
and our duty, privilege and responsibility to learn,teach and spread our

Love our motherland and respect our ancestors. Be proud of being an

Nitin G.  

Buddha : A Hero's Journey to Nirvana  

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,-
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,-

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

-- William Carlos Williams

Joseph Campbell, in his epochal book 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces,' emphasizes that the essential trait of a hero in the making is his restlessness. Not at ease with his immediate environment and circumstances, a constant unease gnaws at his heart, prompting him to question the very nature of his existence. This inner strife is the first inkling that a greater destiny lies ahead of the potential hero.

Campbell divides the evolution of the hero into five distinct phases:

1). The Call to Adventure
2). Crossing of the Threshold (Entering the Unknown)
3). Trials and Tribulations of the Journey
4). Attainment of Enlightenment
5). Return of the Hero

The Buddha's journey to spiritual awakening or 'Nirvana,' as it is popularly called, perfectly mirrors the above mentioned progressive development of a hero.

The Call to Adventure

Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha, in the lap of luxury. Exposed to an overdose of riches and comfort right from the beginning, the prince, while still relatively young, exhausted for himself the fields of fleshly joy, thus becoming ripe for a higher, transcendent experience.

The young prince remained glued to his pleasure chambers and had no contact with ground reality. His palace, and the sensual pleasures which it contained, were his only limiting worlds.

Once, after a particularly hectic schedule of sensual frenzy, Siddhartha was suddenly awakened from his blissful sleep, in the middle of the night. Surrounding him were the remnants of last night's debauchery and revelry. The sight of the shameless naked flesh and the overflowing wine pitchers jarred him into the unreality of his own reality. He felt suffocated in those very environs which had once given him what he thought were the pleasures of paradise. He immediately arose form his gold-gilded bed, descended the stairs and asked his favorite charioteer to take him to an open space where he could breathe more freely.

He had traveled only a few miles when he came across a sight which was totally new to him in terms of the distressing emotions it stirred up in the innermost depths of his heart.

Right in front of him was an old man, tottering on a stick, his physical frame entirely ravaged by the trials of time. Never having been exposed to such an image, Siddhartha asked his charioteer who that individual was, and why he was the way he was?

When he heard that the man had deteriorated due to his advancing age, the next natural question was whether he himself, Siddhartha, the prince of the mighty Shakya clan, and all those whom he loved would one day be exposed to the same degradation? Confronted with the truth, the reply completely shattered him, and he asked to be taken back to the comforting environs of the palace.

In the journey of the hero, a figure suddenly appears as a guide, marking a turning point in the biography. This symbolic figure is somehow profoundly familiar to the unconscious, but is unknown, and even frightening to the conscious self. Thereafter, even though the hero returns for a while to his familiar occupations, he finds them unfruitful. A continuing series of signs of increasing force will then become visible. According to Campbell, "The Four Signs," which appeared to the Buddha, are the most celebrated examples of the call to adventure in the literature of the world. These are signals from a higher domain, summons, which can no longer be denied.

Here it is also significant to note that being awakened in the midst of his blissful sleep was another call of destiny. Modern psychoanalysis has confirmed that when we are asleep, we travel to realms unavailable to our waking moments. These are the depths of our consciousness, which is but a part of the combined heritage of humanity. To quote the words of Jung, in a dream: "man is no longer a distinct individual but his mind widens out and merges into the mind of the mankind - not the conscious mind, but the unconscious mind of mankind, where we are all the same."

Jolted from his subliminal dream state, the immediate horror of his temporal circumstances made Siddhartha, the future Buddha, realize his own cutting of from this eternal dimension of life. Thus a feeling of rootlessness gripped him and he felt himself disjointed and lonely, even amongst the multitude of those who loved him. The hero's journey almost always begins with such a call.

According to Campbell, the moment the hero is ready for the destined adventure, the proper heralds, or callers to his destiny appear automatically, as if by divine design. We have already noticed the first such herald, namely the old man above. The Buddha later came across three more such signs: a sick man, a dead man and a monk.

His mind greatly agitated by the first three disturbing views, Buddha at last came upon his final call, when he laid his eyes upon the monk. The confident spiritual calm he perceived within the monk emboldened him to the fact that amidst the inevitability of suffering and distress, there was still ground for sufficient optimism, and salvation.

Thus the first stage of the mythological journey, which is the 'call to adventure,' signifies that destiny has summoned the hero, and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown.

Crossing of the Threshold (Entering the Unknown)

Your real duty
is to go away from the community
to find your bliss.

Breaking out
is following your bliss pattern,
quitting the old place,
starting your hero journey,
following your bliss.

You throw off yesterday
as the snake sheds its skin.

Its by going down into the abyss
that we recover the treasures of life.

The hero feels off-center, and when one is off-center, it's time to go. The hero leaves a certain social situation, moves into his own loneliness and finds the jewel. This departure occurs when the hero feels something has been lost and goes to find it. It is the crossing of the threshold into a new life. It is a dangerous adventure, since one is moving out of the known into the unexplored, unknown sphere.

The disenchanted prince Siddhartha believed that he was setting out on an exciting adventure. He felt the lure of the 'wide open' road, and the shining, perfect state of 'homelessness.'

But even then, it was not easy enough for him to leave behind the structured space of his home for the untamed forests. Texts mention that before finally leaving his palace, he could not resist the temptation to take a last peek at his wife and son sleeping upstairs. But his resolve was strong enough to bear the emotional brunt of the separation. Not looking back again, he went directly to his destined quest.

Trials and Tribulations of the Journey

When he set about on his journey, the Buddha did not know what lay in store for him. What he did know was that:

The goal of life
is to make your heartbeat
match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.

The joy of the hero's adventure lies in exploring the unknown, through which nature unfolds and reveals its hidden treasures. The Buddha too experimented with various unexplored avenues, before coming to the ultimate spiritual realization.

Emaciated BuddhaHe first tried asceticism. Since he believed his disillusionment to stem from the cravings of his body, his first reaction was to negate it totally, even to the extent that he stopped eating. Consequently, his bones stuck out like a row of spindles, and when he touched his stomach, he could almost feel his spine. His hair fell out and his skin became withered. But all this was in vain. However severe his austerities, perhaps even because of them, the body still clamored for attention, and he was still plagued by lust and craving. In fact, he seemed more conscious of himself than ever. Finally, Buddha had to face the fact that asceticism had failed to redeem him. All he had achieved after this heroic assault upon his body was a prominent rib cage, and a dangerously weakened physique.

Nevertheless, Buddha was still optimistic. He was certain that it was possible for human beings to reach the final liberation of enlightenment. And at that very moment, when he seemed to have come to a dead end, the beginning of a new solution declared itself to him. He realized that instead of torturing our reluctant selves into the final release, we might be able to achieve it effortlessly and spontaneously, as Campbell says:


What you have to do,
you have to do with play.

to find deeper powers
within ourselves
come when life
seems most challenging.

Buddha and the MaidenThis was a momentous event in Buddha's journey towards herohood. Rather than relying upon external discourses or props, he awakened to the fact that he would have to delve into the infinite depths of his own inner being to come up with the Eternal Truth.

Having thus resolved, he accepted the bowl of milk-rice offered to him by Sujata, the milk-maiden.

After eating this nourishing dish, the texts tell us, he strode majestically towards the bodhi tree (tree of life), to make his last bid for liberation.

The World NavelThe tree of life is said to be standing at the axis of the cosmos, and is a common feature of salvation mythology. It is the place where the divine energies pour into the world, where humanity encounters the absolute, and becomes more fully itself. We need only recall the cross of Jesus, which according to Christian legend, stood on the same spot as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. The hero as the incarnation of god is himself the navel or axis of the world, the umbilical point through which the energies of eternity break into time. More than a physical point, it is a psychological state which enables us to see the world and ourselves in perfect balance. Without this psychological stability and this correct orientation, enlightenment is not possible.

Hence, seated at the spiritual center of the world, Buddha dived into his own inner universe. As he sat in isolated meditation, the potential hero gave himself to the practice of mindfulness. This practice consists in observing, as a detached observer, all our activities: eating, drinking, chewing, tasting, defecating, walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, and keeping silent.


He noticed the way ideas coursed through his mind and the constant stream of desires and irritations that could plague him in a brief half hour. He became 'mindful' of the way he responded to a sudden noise or a change in temperature, and saw how quickly even a tiny thing disturbed his peace of mind. This mindfulness was not cultivated in a spirit of neurotic inspection. Buddha had not put his humanity under the microscope in this way in order to castigate himself for his 'sins.' The purpose here is not to pounce on our failings, but becoming acquainted with the way human nature works in order to exploit its capacities. He had become convinced that the solution to the problem of suffering lay within himself and deliverance would come from the refinement of his own mundane nature, and so he needed to investigate it, and get to know it objectively. This could be achieved most effectively through extasis, a word that literally means 'to stand outside the self,' and which is the same as the practise of mindfulness.

As Buddha thus recorded his feelings, moment-by-moment, he became aware that the dukkha (suffering) of life was not confined to the major traumas of sickness, old age and death. It happened on a daily, even hourly basis, in all the minor disappointments, rejections, frustrations, and failures that befall us in the course of a single day. True, there was pleasure in life, but once he had subjected this to the merciless scrutiny of mindfulness, he noticed how often our satisfaction meant suffering for others. For example, the prosperity of one person usually depends upon the exclusion of somebody else, or when we get something that makes us happy, we immediately start to worry about losing it.

As Buddha observed the workings of his mind, he realized how one craving after another took possession of his heart. He noticed how human beings were ceaselessly yearning to become something else, go somewhere else, and acquire something they do not have. Blinded in our desires we almost never see things as they are in themselves, but our vision is colored by whether we want them or not, how we can get them, or how they can bring us profit. These petty cravings assail us hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, so that we know no rest. We are constantly consumed and distracted by the compulsion to become something different than what we are at present.

'The world, whose very nature is to change, is constantly determined to become something else,' Buddha concluded. 'It is at the mercy of change, it is only happy when it is caught up in the process of change, but this love of change contains a measure of fear and insecurity, and this fear itself is dukkha.'

The Enlightenment of BuddhaThis constant changing whirlpool of dynamic flux characterizes our temporal existence and dominates it so thoroughly that we lose touch with the eternal essence of our lives, remaining subsumed only in the fleeting and passing moment of current time. Buddha realized that he just had to find that essential link in his inner being, which bound the transient to the eternal. Our existence is defined by our mortal self, and also an immortal divine spark underlying it. When we have found the bridge that links the two, we have attained salvation.

Brooding in this manner, Buddha finally was on the verge of enlightenment, when he was confronted by Mara, Buddha's shadow self, or the residual forces within him which still clung to the old ideals he was trying to transcend. Mara came out decked like a Chakravartin (World Ruler), seated on an elephant, and accompanied by a large army.

Mara's name means delusion. He symbolizes the ignorance which holds us back from enlightenment.

Buddha Shakyamuni


As a Chakravartin, he could only envisage a victory achieved by physical force. Mara thus was convinced that the spiritual throne, where Buddha was sitting, belonged rightfully to him. Accordingly he challenged Buddha to vacate the seat. But the Buddha only moved his hand to touch the ground with his fingertips, and thus bid the goddess Earth to bear witness to his right to be sitting where he was. She did so with a hundred thousand roars, so that the elephant of the antagonist fell upon its knees in obeisance to the rightful owner of the throne. The army was immediately dispersed and Mara vanquished.

The earth-witnessing posture, which shows Buddha touching the ground with his right hand is a favorite icon in Buddhist art.



Buddha Seated on The Six-Ornament Throne of Enlightenment






It not only symbolizes his rejection of Mara's sterile machismo, but also emphasizes the profound point that it is the Buddha who is a true Chakravartin, since it is through the heart that a lasting empire is won, and not through the sword.






Attainment of Enlightenment

Having thus overcome Mara, Gautama crossed the final obstruction to his enlightenment, and won over to Buddhahood. He called this blissful state of immeasurable peace 'Nirvana.' Nirvana literally means blowing out or snuffing out (as a flame).

But Nirvana did not mean personal extinction: what had been snuffed out was not Gautama's personality, but the three fires of greed, hatred and delusion, which were once the basic impulses governing his behavior. Through his practice of mindfulness, Gautama had come to the conclusion that it was these three negative traits that were at the root of all suffering in the world.

The extinguishing of a flame is invariably followed by a certain coolness. It was this coolness that descended into Gautama's heart and permeated his each and every core. The permanent retention of this feeling is Nirvana, which is similar to the cooling experienced when recovering from a fever. Indeed in Buddha's time, the related adjective 'nirvuta,' was a term in daily use to describe a convalescent.

Return of the Hero

Having attained enlightenment, the hero-quest has been accomplished. The adventurer now has to decide what to do with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round or cycle of his adventure requires that he now start the process of bringing back to humanity the boon of illumination granted to him. This is the call which the mythical hero often refuses. The Buddha too doubted whether his message of realization could be communicated at all. It is in this context that he is given the title of Shakyamuni. Shakya derives from the fact that he was a descendent of the Shakya clan, and muni is a Sanskrit word for silent. The message here is that Nirvana is something that could not be described in words.

The Buddha further thought that: 'If I taught the Dharma, people would not understand it and that would be exhausting and disappointing for me.'

But failing to heed the call to return is not fulfilling the complete requirements of the heroic cycle. It is a part of the hero's evolutionary destiny to knit together the world of higher spiritual bliss with the mundane world of everyday existence, as he had bridged together transient time and eternity.

At this crucial moment of uncertainty, the god Brahma intervened. Like Mara, he too was a projection of Buddha's subconscious mind, the only difference being that he was a positive projection.

Brahma requested Buddha to 'look down at the human race which is drowning in pain and to travel far and wide to save the world.' There was no way in which the compassionate Buddha could refuse this call. He understood that staying locked away in his personal Nirvana would be a negation of all that he had achieved, it would be like entering a new kind of pleasure palace, such as that of his father which he had left behind a long time back. The Buddha thus carefully listened to Brahma and gazed upon the world with his eyes full of compassion, realizing that the gates of Nirvana were wide open for all, and he was the destined instrument to lead humanity it.

The Buddha spent the next forty-five years of his life tramping tirelessly through the cities and towns of Northern India. Indeed there were no limits to his compassionate offensive.


The essential message of Buddha's life is that each of us (irrespective of sex or creed) is capable and deserving of Nirvana, having a potential Buddha hidden in us. Buddha was born an ordinary mortal. His path to fulfillment was not smooth and uneventful. Rather it was a journey full of exciting experiences and mistakes made. He learned from each of his mistakes, making it a springboard for all future, and finally the ultimate success. The day we realize and awaken the Buddha within, that would be our own Nirvana, which though personal, would bind us to all humanity like never before.



Astrid Fitzgerald

Here is an adaptation of Part One of BEING CONSCIOUSNESS BLISS - A Seeker's Guide - Chapter Eight - Existence and Consciousness. Reprinted with permission, and exclusive to The Highlights


            If we consider life on this earth solely as a physical manifestation, regarding the universe as a blind mechanical mass powered by chemical reactions and biological proliferation, we might well wonder, “What is the purpose of this furious activity?” Some people maintain that our existence here is mere accident and that there is no greater meaning to life or any higher reason for existence.


            We tend to believe in the sole reality of matter because our senses feed us with a continuous stream of impressions that our minds process into a perception of a solid exterior reality. We thrive on this input and experience great comfort in the never-ceasing flow of sensory information, which lets us know that we are alive and well. We know from research that when human beings are deprived of sensory stimulation for any length of time, perception is altered and circadian rhythms disturbed; in some cases, a gradual disintegration of the personality has been observed.


            We are hardly aware that our whole lives revolve around the senses. Yet we treasure our senses and love the objects they perceive. We enjoy the sense of comfort we feel when we stand on a solid floor, sit in a comfortable chair, or lie in a fragrant meadow. We feel pleasure when we smell freshly baked bread, taste a fine wine, breathe the ocean breeze, or listen to a great symphony. We derive a sense of well-being from all this sensory input. Even the memory of a pleasant event or the  recollection of a beautiful sight will bring about a physical reaction of ease and pleasure.


            All this reenforces our trust in the senses and our belief in the phenomenal world as something outside ourselves. Yet we know from science that, for example, there is no such thing as local or permanent color in nature. When we “see” an object as red, blue, or yellow, we are interpreting the stimulation of the retina in response to the refraction of light from the surface of the chemical or mineral particles that we call pigments.


            We also know from research that when perception is altered by drugs or pathological chemical changes in the brain, the experience of the phenomenal world changes drastically. Higher levels of experience, such as clairvoyance, can also change our view of “normal perception.” We know from reports of higher states of consciousness and mystical experiences that phenomenal reality as we generally accept it tends to disappear altogether. Emerson’s observation in his essay “Nature” addresses this point: “If Reason be stimulated to more earnest vision, outlines and surfaces become transparent, and are no longer seen; causes and spirits are seen through them. The best moments of life are these delicious awakenings of the higher powers, and the reverential withdrawing of nature before its God.”


            Attempts in physics and mathematics to discover the fundamental laws of nature suggest that physical reality is a nonlocal process that lies outside of the space-time continuum and derives from something beyond space and time. As we “see” deeper into the subatomic realm, it gets curiouser and curiouser! Here the law of cause and effect is no longer apparent; here randomness and simultaneity rule; here mind affects matter; here there are no divisions. At the quantum mechanical level, only energy and information exist, and our bodies are nothing more than a localized disturbance in the larger quantum field that is the universe.


            Everything we see, all of creation, consists merely of phenomena that have their origin in the noumenon. But the two are not separate in reality. We may find that the unified field currently sought by science is just another designation for the pure consciousness of metaphysics. Quantum physics seems to be on the verge of “proving” the existence of pure consciousness, sometimes referred to as “the field of pure potentiality” or “the creative principle,” which exists everywhere in the universe, as it does in every human being. The cause, however, will most likely remain elusive to science, since our perception is not yet attuned to this level, and our present state of mind does not penetrate the dimensions of space, time, and causation.


            The Upanishads declare that all this universe is maya - the web of illusion - offering the image of the spider who spins his web out of himself and then uses this self-made structure as his world. This suggests that maya exists in our collective consciousness, but has no absolute existence. The Vedas teach that the whole creation and everything we behold is held in our own prakriti or Nature. The Buddha taught that “All is Mind.” Advaita - the nondual philosophy of consciousness - declares that “One alone” exists. This “One” is both noumenon and phenomenon and manifests itself in multiplicity as many different forms. Advaita propounds that there is only one consciousness. Human beings have their lives in this consciousness and by it cognize and experience the various aspects of consciousness, which are information, awareness, knowledge, and wisdom.


            Paul Brunton, one of this century’s most dynamic spiritual thinkers, who successfully synthesized Eastern and Western ideas, clarifies our understanding of consciousness and mind in his voluminous notebooks. He writes: “The individual mind presents the world-image to itself through and in its own consciousness. If this were all the truth then it would be quite proper to call the experience a private one. But because the individual mind is rooted in and inseparable from the universal mind, it is only a part of the truth. Man’s world-thought is held within and enclosed by God’s thought…. Our idea of the external world is caused partly by the energies of our own mind and partly by the energies of the World-Mind. It is not caused by a separate material thing acting on our sense organs…. It is a generative idea. Here is a whole philosophy congealed into a single phrase: the world is an idea.”


            Eastern teachings propound that the Creative Principle - the Absolute - is everywhere; everything begins in the Absolute, is sustained by the Absolute, and returns to the Absolute. Yet another principle states that all actions take place in the mind. These ancient truths are universal and manifest at every level of the creation. The Creative Principle is a point, a void beyond time and space that expands by the force of the Logos, the will or desire to become manifest in time and space. This same Creative Principle - that “unmoving from which all movement comes” - lies hidden in the center of every human being.


            As we go about our human affairs, we get lost in phenomena and are totally unaware of this grand design. In our ignorance, we believe in an inverse order of existence: we literally get the whole picture backwards. This is quite evident from the fact that we expend most of our energy tending to the material world, devoting little time to the development of our minds and almost totally neglecting the care of our spiritual nature.


            The Creative Principle or Void is beyond time and space, without limit or bounds. Pure potentiality is everywhere, yet rests coiled up and hidden, a principle that may be confirmed by the latest discoveries in astrophysics, which have led to the conclusion that space contains invisible matter that is far more abundant than visible matter. This “dark matter” also corresponds beautifully to the ancient Eastern concept of avyakta prakriti - unmanifest nature - as well as to Vedic references to “the unseen remainder.”


The ancient sages reveal the splendor of their seemingly unlimited knowledge about the nature of existence, when they declare in the Eesha Upanishad, “That is perfect. This is perfect. Perfect comes from perfect. Take perfect from perfect, the remainder is perfect.”


            In its universality, the statement also describes the properties of the Golden Mean proportion and can be used to demonstrate this enigmatic mathematical/geometrical principle. The Golden Mean proportion (whose mathematical symbol is the Greek letter N or phi) has fascinated philosophers and architects from the Egyptians to Pythagoras to Plato, who in the Timaeus elaborates on the relationship between the regular solids (three-dimensional forms relating to the phi proportion) and the elements. This proportion has also inspired the builders of the Gothic cathedrals, the artists and thinkers of the Renaissance, and architects and artists of the present day.


            The Golden Mean proportions appear everywhere in organic and inorganic matter, in the structure of the human body, and even throughout the intergalactic worlds. These “divine proportions,” as they are known, in combination with the Fibonacci numbers,* can be found in our solar system, in growth patterns of flora and fauna, in viruses, and in DNA. The Golden Mean spiral is most evident in the patterning of seeds in the center of a sunflower, in the shell of the nautilus, in vortices, and in galactic formations. It may well be the matrix underlying the outward thrust of the ever-expanding universe. All this suggests that human beings are intimately linked with this law of Unity and regeneration. We might thus consider the expanding Golden Mean spiral as a symbol of the lawful evolution of human consciousness and its inward movement as a sacred symbol of the return of the individual to the source of being.

The Golden Mean or Phi proportion can be illustrated by a point on a line asymmetrically divided such that the shorter segment is to the larger segment as the larger segment is to the whole. The point on a line (measuring one unit) in which this statement is true is expressed as .618.... . This asymmetrical division is what makes dynamic expansion possible. Robert Lawlor, the author of Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice, puts it as follows: “In a sense, the Golden Proportion can be considered as suprarational or transcendent. It is actually the first issue of Oneness, the only possible creative duality within unity. It is the most intimate relationship, one might say, that proportional existence - the universe - can have with unity, the primal or first division of One…. An asymmetrical division is needed in order to create the dynamics necessary for progression and extension from the unity. Therefore the N proportion is the perfect division of unity: it is creative, yet the entire proportional universe that results from it relates back to it and is literally contained within it, since no term of the original division steps, as it were, outside of a direct rapport with the initial division of unity.”


            Thus the Golden Mean rectangle demonstrates geometrically and symbolically what the verse from the Upanishad states poetically and philosophically: when we take a perfect square which represents This or the visible universe which is the manifestation of the Fullness of the Absolute from the Golden Mean rectangle which represents That or the Supreme Brahman, or pure consciousness, what remains is another perfect rectangle. The integrity of the proportion remains the same: the remainder is perfect. In other words, the manifestation of the universe does not affect or diminish in any way the Infinite or Brahman.


            The question “what is existence?” and “what is consciousness?” can never be fully answered by science with its reliance on the senses and sense-enhancing instrumentation. We are slowly beginning to realize that the information we receive through ordinary perception may not give us an accurate view of reality or at least not the whole picture. Some are beginning to explore new paradigms within their fields. Others have found ways and means to explore a vast universe within themselves, gaining knowledge and wisdom through exalted experiences.


            As human beings we have the ability to turn our inquiry inward and address our higher nature. By referring our inquiry further up the line - bypassing the discursive mind, evaluations based on the dead past, or stale emotions stored in memory - to the highest principle in us, the Self, or that which alone is real. Here in the light of consciousness resides the higher intellect or higher reason and all knowledge.


            The sages teach that union with the Self is attainable to those who desire it. While we lack an intimate connection with reality, with the one Self, a small act of faith is required to bridge the gap until such time that we experience it for ourselves. We also need to hypothesize for the time being that an evolution of consciousness is a real possibility. We are told by the Wisdom tradition that in this expanded state of human consciousness - the “objective consciousness” of P.D. Ouspensky, the “pure Reason” of Plato or the “freedom from ignorance” of the Vedas - it is possible to know everything fully about everything and apprehend the world as it is. The sages saw this search for truth as the highest form of inquiry.


            The reductive modern idea of a fortuitous accident propelled by a blind force hurtling through space in an endless orbit does not hold up in light of many recent scientific discoveries in physics and the study of consciousness. Whether science explains existence in terms of energy, randomness, chaos, waves, superstrings, particles, or some other concepts, all these seeming “realities” or matrices exist simultaneously on one level or another, conjuring up a magnificent and eternal differentiation manifesting as the invisible and visible substance we call the universe, nature, and life. But these tendencies are just the observable phenomena of the interaction of “information” and energy and represent but a few glorious and extraordinary facets of the One Perfection, the One Intelligence, and the One Consciousness that lies behind them.


* Fibonacci series are a set of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two previous ones: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. Any number divided by the following one approximates 0.618, and any number divided by the previous one approximates 1.618 ad infinitum, these being a mathematical expression of phi or the Golden Mean.


(Adapted from BEING CONSCIOUSNESS BLISS - A Seeker’s Guide by Astrid Fitzgerald, Part One: Uncovering the Self.) Copyright 2002 by Astrid Fitzgerald


Astrid Fitzgerald is an artist, writer, and a passionate student of the Perennial Philosophy who has applied its principles to her life and art for more than thirty years. The author of An Artist’s Book of Inspiration - A Collection of Thoughts on Art, Artists and Creativity, and Being Consciousness Bliss - A Seekers Guide, Fitzgerald’s writing is based on the philosophy and practice of self-development, study groups, as well as individual self-inquiry and reflection.


For more information on the Golden Mean Proportions go to:


David Oller

Alice's Restaurant

A few notes about Kodo

In the west we see teaching and education in a very linear way. We
want a system which is accredited, lays out a specific curriculum and
course outline, has set parameters and timelines for accomplishing
particular goals and gaining credentials or accredidation.

Often we want to take a very short course which will accredit us to
either practice or teach.

Kodo is not so linear, set, or likely to result in acredidation
quickly, and perhaps never. It is an art which one journeys for the
sake of art iteself.

In Japan, Kodo has lines or lineage lines, just like Zen and many
other Buddhist Sects. Some of these lines appear go back in unbroken
succession to Sanjonishi.

It may be important to note that there can be some confusion in the
use of the word "family" in Kodo. In one sense it may be referred to
as a traditional family (e.g. father/son) and in another sense the
school lineage. For example:

Shino was a student of Sanjonishi. He was the originator of the Shino
line, but in the fourth generation the Hachiya family succeeded the
Shino line, and no Shino family members continued forward. The
Hachiya family has continued from that time as lineage successors of
the Shino school. At times non-family members were certified to teach
on their own, and they started their own successions of the Shino
line, like the Misono Onryu Shino line.

There are many Kodo Schools in Japan today, and as far as I can
determine several came from this line. There are also a number
of "New" schools which have no lineage, and some of these schools are
pretty much just business ventures.

The Original Oie school continued with the Sanjonishi family until
the seventh generation when it passed to someone else. Their seems to
be an unbroken line of Kodo Masters in this school without any
surviving splits until the 19th generation. In recent times the
Sanjonishi family has received instruction and transmission again as
Incense Masters from another Master in the original lineage.

This information is not perfect, and I'm still studying the history
and learning more as translations permit.

As far a becoming a student of Kodo, it is not required to register
with a school or become a member, and there are different policies
for different teachers and schools. Some offer "associate"
memberships which are somewhat honorary in nature, and in many cases
anyone attending various classes given at the many cultural centers
are considered students.

This makes perfect sense when you consider that there are over 2000
different Kodo games, and the first skill required is learning to
participate in these games, listen to the incense, and acquire the
skills of identification. This alone could take several years, and
some may not have the ability to do such identification.

Certification to present Kodo, or teach Kodo to beginners may vary
according to the head-teacher, it is common to give written
certification as a Koushi or instructor of Kodo. Perhaps this is
often an informal decision by a teacher to instruct someone at more
advanced levels.

For someone wanting to learn Kodo, this may not be so important,
because the first step is always attending the demonstration and
playing the games, and learning to listen to incense.

As far as Kodo in the West, maybe we will have to improvise, take
what is being offered us at this time, and when there is enough
interest, I'm sure we will find more available. I think we should set
the idea of official certifications and lineage aside for now, and
focus on learning itself. Perhaps taking a page from Zen coming to
America where the first educators  were unofficial teachers like Alan
Watts, who created the interest that later convinced the Japanese
Temples to send official lineage heirs.

Those who are truly interested in the art of Kodo are going to have
to put forth a great deal of effort in sake of learning the art
itself, and without a thought of financial reward, or even gaining
some kind of credentials or status.

In upcoming messages, I'm going to be describing the changes
Esoterics is going to be making in the future, particularly in
respect to education programs.



Placing Charcoal in Kiki-gouro

Now you place the charcoal in the "Kiki-gouro" (Kodo cup) and you are ready to begin covering the charcoal with ash and building your ash mound.

What kind of home-made donut is airy and light and
glazed by the ocean?

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