Sunday, October 31, 2010


Most, if not all, kinds of meditation can be relaxing, but relaxation, in itself, is not a solution for alcohol dependency and the like. Most kinds of meditation are designed to take you away from the present moment. This is nothing more than temporary escapism, distraction and diversion, affording, at best, only temporary relief from the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and misuse.

Mindfulness takes meditation, in its most simple and natural form, and applies it to one’s whole life. The regular practice of Mindfulness ... the practice of purporsefully paying attention in the present ... is the most effective kind of meditation for dealing with the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and misuse.

Here are a couple of journal articles on mindfulness, meditation and the treatment of substance abuse:
* Bowen, S, Witkiewitz, K, Dillworth, T M et al, "Mindfulness Meditation and Substance Use in an Incarcerated Population", Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 2006, Vol. 20, No. 3, 343-347.
Substance use disorders refer to conditions arising from the abuse of, and dependency upon, alcohol and other psychoactive drugs.
Regardless of the causes of addiction - and we now know there is a very high genetic component to addiction disease - practising alcoholics and other addicts are not fully grounded in the present moment and are largely motivated by a desire to escape from self-awareness. Anger is the way they generally deal with issues pertaining to the present and the here and now (ordinarily due to a well-documented low tolerance for frustration and everyday stress, and an inability to delay gratification, manage desires and control impulses).

In addition, alcoholics and other addicts tend to want to escape the past (and an unwanted self), and are also generally fearful and anxious concerning the future. Insofar as the past is concerned, alcoholics and other addicts have real problems with resentments (“the ‘number one’ offender”), often obsessing and ruminating about some person, place, thing or situation from the past to which they are still psychologically “attached” in an unhealthy and upsetting way.
Resentment is the way alcoholics and other addicts generally react to their past ... reliving, and re-feeling, past experiences. Insofar as the future is concerned, fear is what they feel.

Sooner or later, all of those kinds of unhealthy mindsets will result in practising alcoholics and other addicts seeking to escape by means of alcohol or their other drug of choice.
The reason why Twelve Step fellowships and programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are the best method of treating addiction is that they recognize that the disease of addiction cannot be cured but can only be arrested on a daily basis ... one day at a time. As already mentioned, addiction disease is almost invariably the result of efforts - which are ordinarily unsuccessful - to escape living in the present moment ... in the here and now. Practising alcoholics and other addicts are never contented or satisfied with the way things are in the moment. They are constantly trying to improve their emotional state ... even when happy.

Mindfulness is simply the presence - note that word, presence - of the choiceless awareness of, and the paying of bare attention to, the action of what is present in the moment, and to whatever arises in the present moment ... from moment to moment ... both inside and outside of us. This is of great assistance to the recovering alcoholic or addict ... when they learn to remember to be, and stay, in the present moment, and to remember, purposefully and receptively, and non-judgmentally, what is present ... detaching themselves from people, places, things and situations which would otherwise jeopardize their chances of recovery.
Alcoholics and other addicts, even in recovery, are often beset by troubling thoughts, especially negative ones such as feelings of resentment. Now, unlike most kinds of meditation, Mindfulness Meditation is not about stopping the mind or stopping thoughts. Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation is about allowing thoughts to be present but not letting them run you. The thoughts and feelings about yourselves or others are not you. You have a choice ... you can choose to identify with your thoughts and feelings (especially the negative and self-destructive ones) or you can simply observe them. You can also choose to change your environment, ring a friend, support person or sponsor in AA or NA, or attend a meeting of the latter. You have choices.
Mindfulness Meditation is not an alternative or a substitute for regular attendance at your Twelve Step program. If you are not presently a member of such a fellowship, join now. Your chances of permanent recovery from what is otherwise a terminal illness are greatly enhanced when you experience the energy of association with likeminded people, as well as the power of example, and when you put into practice The Twelve Steps in your daily life.

Mindfulness works wonderfully in conjunction with, and is otherwise totally aligned to, The Twelve Steps. Both recognise the notion of "self" to be illusory, and therefore one must drato quote Krishnamurti again: “In the acknowledgement of what is there is the cessation of all conflict.”

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Every wakeful step, every mindful act is the direct path to awakening.
Wherever you go, there you are.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
worry about the future, or anticipate troubles,
but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Shakyamuni Buddha

Forgive me, this is not really a blog. I just wanted to share with readers some of my favourite quotations that pertain, directly or indirectly, to Mindfulness and/or Mindfulness Meditation ... as well as to such matters as calmness of mind, silence, tranquility and equanimity.

Let's begin with Webster's Dictionary, which defines mindfulness as "the trait of staying aware (paying close attention to) your responsibilities and/or being present in the moment." Not a bad start ... for a dictionary definition.

Now, let's consider the views of some leading contemporary Theravāda Buddhist authorities. Nyanaponika Thera defines, or  perhaps more accurately describes, Mindfulness as “a kind of attentiveness that … is good, skilful or right (kusala)”. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi Mindfulness is “focused awareness applied to immediate experience in both its subjective and objective factors”. Thānissaro Bhikkhu sees Mindfulness as “the ability to keep something in mind”. Finally, in the words of Ñāavīra Thera Mindfulness is “general recollectedness, not being scatterbrained,” and he links it with “reflexion”, that is, knowing what one knows or does as one knows or does it.

J. Krishnamurti used to point out that Mindfulness is a lifelong inquiry into what it means to be present, and to stay present, in the present moment ... with choiceless awareness and bare attention ... and with curiosity (but not credulity). Krishnamurti said, "Learning is movement from moment to moment."

I also love the simplicity of Jon Kabat-Zinn's definition, or rather description, of Mindfulness: "Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally." ("Falling awake," he calls it!) Ditto, from Ruth Lerman: "Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to what’s happening in the present moment without judgment."

Mindfulness is the direct perception of "what is". It is not so much a "system" per se ... thank goodness ... but, in the words of Jack Kornfield, it is "a systematic training and awakening of body, heart, and mind that is integrated with the world around us". Thich Nhat Hanh writes that to live mindfully is "to keep our appointment with life". Great stuff!

One of the best books - if not the best book - ever written on the subject of meditation is The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by the above mentioned Nyanaponika Thera. In the introduction to the book the author states what I also have found to be true in practice, namely that Mindfulness "provides the most simple and direct, the most thorough and effective, method for training and developing the mind for its daily tasks and problems".

The Nature of Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation

“You cannot buy Mindfulness in a grocery store, it must be generated from within yourself.” - Thich Nhat Hahn.

"Why should we observe or watch physical and mental processes as they are? Because we want to realise their true nature. The teaching of the Buddha leads us to the right understanding of natural processes as just natural process. ... When our body feels hot, we should observe that feeling of heat as it is. When the body feels cold, we should observe it as cold. When we feel pain, we should observe it as it is - pain. When we feel happy, we should watch that happiness as it is - as happiness. When we feel angry, we should observe that anger as it really is - as anger. When we feel sorry, we should be mindful of it as it is - as sorry. When we feel sad or disappointed, then we must be aware of our emotional state of sadness or disappointment as it is." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.

"Those who are awake live in a state of constant amazement." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"True meditation is constant awareness, constant pliability, and clear discernment." - J. Krishnamurti.

"To meditate is to listen with a receptive heart." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"When you want ... to understand somebody, something that someone is saying, what is the state of your mind? You are not analysing, not criticizing, judging what the other is saying; you are listening, ar you not? Your mind is in a state where the thought process is not active, but is very alert. Yes? And that alertness is not of time, is it? You are merely being alert, passively receptive, and yet fully aware; and it is only in this state that there is understanding. Surely, when the mind is agitated, questioning, worrying, dissecting, analysing, there is no understanding. And when there is the intensity to understand, the mind is obviously tranquil. This, of course, you have to experiment with, not take my word for it." - J. Krishnamurti.

"[Mindulness] is the cultivation of awareness, bringing the attention to the moment over and over until there is a constant consciousness. This awareness [is] without comment, without discrimination, without judgment ... ." - Steven Harrison.

“Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you—in your body, heart and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment.” - Jan Chozen Bays.

“Mindfulness is about falling awake rather than asleep. Relaxation is more of a side effect. Mindfulness is about being in the present, taking things one moment at a time and being aware of whatever arises – not creating a pleasant experience.” - Shamash Alidina.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally … When we commit ourselves to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and we have a chance to free ourselves from the straitjacket of unconsciousness.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn.

"Mindfulness is the energy that sheds light on all things and all activities, producing the power of concentration, bringing forth deep insight and awakening." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Mindfulness refers to keeping one's consciousness alive to the present reality. It is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Mindfulness is a state in which one is open to creating categories, open to new information, and being aware of more than one perspective. Mindlessness is being prematurely bound to a perspective when in a particular situation and then acting from that particular mindest." - Ellen Langer.

"To be mindful is to be fully in the present moment." - William Alexander.

"Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” - James Baraz.

"Mindfulness, then, is the unfailing master key for knowing the mind, and is thus the starting point; the perfect tool for shaping the mind, and is thus the focal point; the lofty manifestation of the achieved freedom of the mind, and is thus the culminating point." - Nyanaponika Thera.

“Some people do not know the difference between mindfulness and concentration. They concentrate on what they're doing, thinking that is being mindful. ... We can concentrate on what we are doing, but if we are not mindful at the same time, with the ability to reflect on the moment, then if somebody interferes with our concentration, we may blow up, get carried away by anger at being frustrated. If we are mindful, we are aware of the tendency to first concentrate and then to feel anger when something interferes with that concentration. With mindfulness we can concentrate when it is appropriate to do so and not concentrate when it is appropriate not to do so.” - Ajahn Sumedho.

"[Mindfulness] is not concerned with anything transcendent or divine. It serves as an antidote to theism, a cure for sentimental piety, a scalpel for excising the tumor of metaphysical belief." - Stephen Batchelor.

“The practice of mindfulness begins in the small, remote cave of your unconscious mind and blossoms with the sunlight of your conscious life, reaching far beyond the people and places you can see.” - Earon Davis.

“Use each experience you encounter to awaken, and enlighten yourself. This is the key.” - Shinjo Ito.

"You have to remember one life, one death–this one! To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death, whether we catch it on the inbreath or outbreath, requires only a moment, this moment. And along with it all the mindfulness we can muster, and each stage of our ongoing birth, and the confident joy of our inherent luminosity." - Stephen Levine.

"No technique, no communication skill or psychological process can come anywhere close to the effectiveness of being 100% present. It is not an easy thing to do." - Danaan Parry.

" is often more difficult to remember to be mindful than to be mindful itself.” - Donald Rothberg.

“If you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are doing it with your ability to attend to the moment.” - Daniel Goleman.

“The letting go or acceptance of your experience and state of mind as it is, is always the act of living completely and perfectly in this moment. For we have noted that ego consciousness is a bondage of time, being essentially a complex of memories and anticipations. All egocentric action has an eye to the past or the future; in the strict present the ego does not exist. This is easier to prove by experiment rather than theory, for in concentrating simply and solely upon what is happening at this moment, anticipation and anxiety vanish. ... Many masters of the spiritual life have therefore laid especial value upon the exercise of living and thinking simply in this moment, letting the past and the future drop out of the mind; for the ego drops away with them, together with its pride in the past and its fear and greed for the future." - Alan Watts.

"In what is seen there must be just the seen; in what is heard there must be just the heard; in what is sensed (a small, taste or touch) there must be just what is sensed; in what is thought there must be just the thought." - Udana I, 10 (trans by Nyanaponika Thera).

"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Nothing is as important as this day." - Goethe.

"Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone." - Louis L’Amour.

"Like a child standing in a beautiful park with his eyes shut tight, there's no need to imagine trees, flowers, deer, birds, and sky; we merely need to open our eyes and realize what is already here, who we already are - as soon as we stop pretending we're small or unholy." - Bo Lozoff.

“I exist as I am – that is enough;
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content.” - Walt Whitman.

“The habit of ignoring our present moments in favor of others yet to come leads directly to a pervasive lack of awareness of the web of life in which we are embedded. This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of our own mind and how it influences our perceptions and our actions. It severely limits our perspective on what it means to be a person and how we are connected to each other and the world around us. Religion has traditionally been the domain of such fundamental inquiries within a spiritual framework, but mindfulness has little to do with religion, except in the most fundamental meaning of the word, as an attempt to appreciate the deep mystery of being alive and to acknowledge being vitally connected to all that exists.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn.

"Thought has no future. When thought projects itself away from the present, the future is created." - J. Krishnamurti.

"The moment we want to be something we are no longer free." - J. Krishnamurti.

The Importance of a Quiet Mind

"The quiter you become, the more you are able to hear." - Baba Ram Dass.

"Silence is that which has been going on while there was talking." - J. Krishnamurti.

“... in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength ...” - Isaiah 30:15.

“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace ...” - Isaiah 26:3.

“This is the refreshing.” - Isaiah 28:12.

“Be still, and know ...” - Psalm 46:10.

“... Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” - Jesus (Mark 4:39).

“A peaceful mind generates power.” - Norman Vincent Peale.

“... be transformed by the renewing of your minds ...” - Romans 12:2.

"Make haste slowly." - Zen saying.

“Let your mind become clear like a still forest pool.
If you let cloudy water settle, it will become clear.
If you let your upset mind settle, your course will also become clear.
If you take care of each moment, you will take care of all time.” - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"Awareness in itself is healing." - Fritz Pearls.

The “Process” and Practice of Mindfulness

"Remember one thing: meditation means awareness. Whatsoever you do with awareness is meditation. Action is not the question, but the quality that you bring to your action. Walking can be a meditation if you walk alertly. Sitting can be a meditation if you listen with awareness. Just listening to the inner noise of your mind can be a meditation if you remain alert and watchful." - Osho.

"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"Meditation does not imply only the development of single-pointed concentration, sitting in some corner doing nothing. Meditation is an alert state of mind, the opposite of sluggishness; meditation is wisdom. You should remain aware every moment of your daily life, fully conscious of what you are doing and how you are doing it." - Lama Yeshe.

"You are not analysing, criticizing, judging ... you are listening, are you not? Your mind is in a state where the thought process is not active, but is very alert. Yes? And that alertness is not of time, is it? You are merely being alert, passively receptive, and yet fully aware; and it is only in this state that there is understanding. Surely, when the mind is agitated, questioning, worrying, dissecting, analysing, there is no understanding. And when there is the intensity to understand, the mind is obviously tranquil." - J. Krishnamurti.

"Be here now." - Ram Dass.

"To be awake is to be alive." - Henry David Thoreau.

"Regard the body as body." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"When the mind wanders, observe it as it is." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"When you meditate, sit with the dignity of a king or queen; when you move through your day, remain centred in this dignity." - Buddhist Meditation Master.

"Sit still, be silent, let composure creep over you." - Norman Vincent Peale.

"An upright posture and a few relaxed breaths can make a great difference." - Buddhist Meditation Master.

"To awaken, sit calmly, letting each breath clear your mind and open your heart." - Buddhist Meditation Master.

"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question." - Eugène Ionesco.

"In the acknowledgement of what is there is the cessation of all conflict." - J. Krishnamurti.

"When we are engaged in the mindfulness of our body-mind process, we need not choose any mental or physical process as the object of our meditation for if we do this, it means that we are attached to the object of meditation. When we meditate on the body-mind process, the 'noting mind' or 'observing mind' will choose the object itself." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.

"There is no mental or physical process that should not be observed or that we should not be mindful of as it is. Each and every mental or physical process or phenomenon must be observed, watched as it is." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.

Observe the space between your thoughts, then observe the observer.” - Hamilton Boudreaux.

"Awareness is not the result of anything. There is nothing that causes it. There is nothing we can do to create it." - Steven Harrison.

"Looking upon leads to awareness. Awareness leads to action." -Talmud, Menachot 43b.

"To observe what is the mind must be free of all comparison, of the ideal, of the opposite. Then you will see what actually is is far more important than what should be." - J. Krishnamurti.

"Thinking is just like not thinking. So I don't have to think anymore." - Jack Kerouac

“... this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” - Saint Paul (Philippians 3:13).

"Enlightenment is the result of the daily practice of mindfulness." - Shinjo Ito.

"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Stop resisting your problems so furiously in your mind. Stop struggling to solve them. If you do that, a great sense of peace followed by a great sense of power will come to you." - Norman Vincent Peale.

"Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet." - Thich Nhat Hanh.

"When even one virtue becomes our nature, the mind becomes clean and tranquil. Then there is no need to practice meditation; we will automatically be meditating always." - Sri S. Satchidananda.   

". . . I feel we don’t really need scriptures. The entire life is an open book, a scripture. Read it. Learn while digging a pit or chopping some wood or cooking some food. If you can’t learn from your daily activities, how are you going to understand the scriptures?" - Sri S. Satchidananda. 

"Each place is the right place--the place where I now am can be a sacred space.” - Ravi Ravindra.

"As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience: it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense. Whatever happens does not really matter." - Jack Kornfield.   

"A bird cried jubilation. In that moment they lived long. All minor motions were stilled and only the great ones were perceived. Beneath them the earth turned, singing." - Sheri S. Tepper.   

"We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul of the universe may fill us with its breath." - Lawrence Binyon. 

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the small uncaring ways.” - Stephen Vincent Benet.

“Two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time: if the clear light of mindfulness is present, there is no room for mental twilight.” - Nyanaponika Thera 

"Do not waste a single moment.' This is my principle. Therefore, my daily life is extremely busy. However, that is how I feel joy." - Kyoshu Sama.

"Cherish that which is within you." - Chuang-tzu.

"There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

“One person's awakening will enlighten countless others.” - Shinjo Ito.

"Mindfulness of the body leads to nirvana." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

"This [Mindfulness] is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearing of pain and grief, for the attainment of the Way, for the realization of nirvana." - Shakyamuni Buddha.

“Intelligence is the capacity to be in the present. The more you are in the past or are in the future, the less intelligent you are. Intelligence is the capacity to be here-now, to be in this moment and nowhere else. Then you are awake.” - Osho.

"The ending of sorrow is the understanding of the fact from moment to moment." - J. Krishnamurti.

"Truth is more in the process than in the result." - J. Krishnamurti.

Acknowledgments are made, and gratitude expressed, to the
various rights holders in respect of copyright material. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Not at all.

The High Court of Australia, in the famous case of Church of the New Faith v Commissioner of Pay-roll Tax (Vic) (the “Scientology case”) (1983) 154 CLR 120, delineated what is a religion.

In the Scientology case, 4 of 5 justices of the High Court of Australia, in the course of determining whether Scientology constituted a “religion” for the purposes of section 116 of The Australian Constitution, considered belief in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle to be a necessary indicia of or prerequisite for a particular belief system being a religion.

Religion ordinarily involves all of the following: first, a system of beliefs or statement of doctrine concerning so-called "ultimate reality"; secondly, an associated moral or ethical code of conduct; thirdly, participation in prescribed forms of ritual, observances and other acts of devotion.

In addition, r
eligion ordinarily involves both “faith and worship, accompanied by a system of moral philosophy or particular doctrines of faith as well as a religious community which supports that faith and its organization and practices.

My 2007 doctoral dissertation sought to formulate and propose a more suitable legal definition of “religion” in substitution for that formulated by the High Court of Australia in the Scientology case having regard to salient judicial authorities from the USA as well as non-judicial authorities.

The present legal definition of religion in Australia is misleading, inadequate and unhelpful. First, the definition does not readily accommodate a number of important belief systems that are generally regarded as being religious even though they do not involve any notion of the supernatural in the sense in which that word is ordinarily understood. Secondly, the High Court of Australia has provided little or no guidance as to how one determines whether a particular belief system involves a “supernatural” view of reality. Thirdly, I am of the opinion that it is impossible, philosophically and otherwise, to postulate a meaningful distinction between the “natural” and the supposedly “supernatural”.

Now, Mindfulness does not involve or require any faith at all ... certainly no faith in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle ... nor does Mindfulness involve any worship or impose any system of beliefs or statement of doctrine, nor any code of conduct, nor any prescribed forms of ritual or religious observances.

Mindfulness is simply the practice of the presence of the awareness of the action of the present moment ...
that is, the practice of paying attention, in the present, purposefully and receptively, choicelessly and non-judgmentally, to whatever arises in the present moment ... moment to moment … both inside and outside of us.

Mindfulness does not require that you believe in one god or many gods, or become a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Christian, or whatever. People of every religion, and none, can derive lasting benefits from the regular practice of Mindfulness including Mindfulness Meditation.

True it is that Mindfulness, and Mindfulness Meditation, can both refer to a specific type or practice of meditation known as Vipassanā Meditation, which is used as a psychological and educational tool in Theravāda Buddhism (a naturalistic form of Buddhism of which there are a number of different schools). Vipassanā Meditation is also known as Insight[ful], Sensory or Thought Watching Meditation. However, Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation are not restricted to Buddhism, Buddhists or Buddhist meditation. Indeed, there are several different types or forms of Buddhist meditation, and Buddhists do not claim to “own” or have a monopoly on Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation.

Mindfulness takes meditation … in the form of deliberate and purposeful awareness of the present moment … and applies it, as a psychological and educational tool, to one’s whole life.

What about meditation itself? Isn't that religious? No. Meditation, in one form or another, has been practised by human beings for thousands of years, long before most of the major world religions were formed. Meditation is as simple, and as natural, as breathing in and breathing out ... from one moment to the next ... until the mind reaches a "median", that is, a point of equilibrium, balance, harmony and equanimity. Meditation is simply medicine, or exercise, for the mind which, by the power of its own non-resistance and calm but secure acceptance (as opposed to mere passivity), is truly life-enhancing as opposed to life-denying.

Forget about "expanded consciousness", so-called higher orders or levels of reality, and all notions of transcendence. Meditation may well bring us to a state of choiceless awareness and detached, but otherwise bare, attention that some describe as being "supramundane", "transnatural" or "transrational", but true meditation is grounded firmly in everyday reality, that is, in the one order or level of reality in which we all live and move and have our being.

Unlike religion, Mindfulness is not "organized" ... and may that always be the case. Krishnamurti often told his listeners this little anecdote:
"There is a rather lovely story of a man who was walking along the street and behind him were two strangers. As he walked along, he saw something very bright and he picked it up and looked at it and put it in his pocket and the two men behind him observed this and one said to the other: 'This is a very bad business for you, is it not?' and the other who was the devil answered: 'No, what he picked up is truth. But I am going to help him organize it.'"
If Mindfulness were ever to become systematized and organized, one could never be successfully liberated from all those conditioned responses, predispositions and predilections, and psychological tendencies that otherwise beset us. Religion "believes" ... Mindfulness "knows" and "understands". There is a huge difference between the those two things.

Mindfulness is not a religion, or even a philosophy, but rather a way of being, a way of life, a journey in self-discovery, and an education. Mindfulness, being devoid of all notions of religiosity, is entirely experiential and, unlike most if not all religions, it is empirically based.

Friday, October 15, 2010


When I was an undergraduate Arts/Law student at the University of Sydney in the 1970s - a wonderful time to be alive - I spent probably more time in the Adyar Bookshop, in Sydney, run by the Theosophical Society, than I did in the university library.

It was during those years that I "discovered" the great debunker and iconoclast J. Krishnamurti, and I have been in love with his "teachings", and the man himself, ever since. I am not alone. Others have written eloquently of the tremendous impact Krishnamurti had upon them.  For example, Kahlil Gibran wrote, “When he entered my room I said to myself, ‘Surely the lord of love has come’,”  and even the ordinarily cynical George Bernard Shaw exclaimed about Krishnamurti, “He is the most beautiful human being I have ever seen.”

Now, for the benefit of the uninitiated (or perhaps just the uneducated or at best uninterested), during the first 3 decades of last century a number of Theosophists proclaimed that a young Brahmin by the name of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) [pictured above] was to be the vehicle of the World Teacher (also known as the Lord Maitreya, the “Living Christ”, the Lord of Love), the supposed head of the occult hierarchy, whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. Note, not the World Teacher himself, but perhaps a “vehicle” through which the World Teacher would speak, that is, that Krishnamurti would or at least might be “overshadowed” by the World Teacher. These people even set up a special order known as The Order of the Star in the East, and made young Krishnamurti its head.

The Theosophical movement in Australia had quite an impact, particularly in the 1920s and 30s. Indeed, Sydney became a major Theosophical centre in the 1920s, with much of the attention focused on the building, by The Order of the Star in the East, of a large Grecian Doric style amphitheatre, known as the Star Amphitheatre,
 at Balmoral Beach, in 1923-24 (see photograph below). [For more information on the Star Amphitheatre, here is an interesting document produced by Mosman Council.]

However, things didn't go according to plan ... well, not according to certain peoples' plans. In 1929 Krishnamurti dissolved The Order of the Star in the East and repudiated the supposed Messianic status that some had conferred upon him. In his historic and oft-quoted speech delivered at Ommen, in Holland, on 3 August 1929 Krishnamurti explained why religious organizations cannot lead us to Truth. This is just a small part of what he had to say on that momentous day:

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices. You must climb towards the Truth, it cannot be "stepped down" or organized for you. ...  

Here is some very rare film footage of Krishnamurti in New York (in 1928) and Ojai, California (in 1930), reading what he had said at the Ommen Star Camp on 3 August 1929 on the occasion of the dissolution of The Order of the Star in the East:

World Teacher or not, to millions of people all over the world, including myself, Krishnamuti spoke with deep authority and always from a position of integrity. He was the embodiment of Truth. Yes, truth is a "pathless land" and you cannot approach it by any creed or path whatsoever. Religions, belief systems, rites, rituals, ceremonies, saviours, priests, mediators, intermediaries of all kinds, gurus ... none of the foregoing can lead you to truth. Indeed, they are barriers to truth, says Krishnamurti.

Buddha himself said when explaining to the Kalama tribespeople what was his authority, "Let experience be your guru.  If what I say accords with that, accept it, if not, discard it." Then there's the story in the Avadhuta Gita which talks of the Avadhuta who stopped at a wayside inn and was asked by the innkeeper, "What is your teaching?" The Avadhuta replied, "There is no teacher, no teaching and no one taught," before proceeding to walk away.

So it was with the great saboteur J. Krishnamurti. He would invariably say, in his "dialogues", to those who came to listen to him, "This is not a lecture. This is not an entertainment. You are not here to listen to me. You are here to listen to yourself."

Direct perception of truth is, however, possible, when there is what Krishnamurti called “choiceless awareness” of life as it really is. The important thing is life itself. Whatever life may be, it is all here now, and all we have to do is to learn to perceive it here and now. We need to see each thing as it really is - as a new moment. Every experience is a memory. Thought is memory. The "I" of us is habit, and the "me" is brought about through thought. As Buddha also taught, those mere mental constructs have no reality by themselves. We must learn to view each new experience without judgment, condemnation or evaluation. Don’t try. Let.

Between 1929 and 1986 Krishnamurti travelled the world telling others that there was no “technique”, “path” or "system" to the direct perception of truth.

Krishnamurti spoke and wrote much on the subject of meditation even though he never taught any particular "system" or "type" of meditation other than the direct and choiceless awareness of both the world and the whole movement of oneself.

Meditation, he made clear, is not concentration or control of thought. It is being aware of every thought and feeling, just watching and moving with them, without judgment, but only with choiceless awareness. It occurs when the mind understands its own movement as thought and feeling with complete attention, for meditation demands an alert mind ... a state of mind which looks at everything with complete, but bare, attention ... a state of mind that is entirely free and unconditioned. Freedom, he always said, was the beginning, not the endpoint or object, of meditation.

Meditation, which Krishnamurti saw as a lifelong inquiry into what it means to be truly present and aware, occurs when you live in the action of the present moment, as opposed to the so-called present moment itself, for the moment you say the present moment you are in the past, you are involved in memory, and thus not living in the present moment. One can only be said to live in the present when the mind is free from all ideas of "self". When you have the idea of "self" (that is, of "I" and "me") you are living either in the past or in the future. Pure Krisnamurti!

Krishnamurti taught that selfishness is the essential problem of our life. We need to be set unconditionally free ... from ourselves! Self-liberation is possible, and it takes only one form ... a psychological mutation ... and it can happen instantaneously. Don’t ask how. There is no method or technique. Stop seeking a reality promised by others. Stop believing in someone else’s version of truth. If it can be explained, it is not truth.

Krishnamurti was perhaps the first world teacher who said that “you have to be your own teacher and your own disciple”. Now, that was new, and original. No wonder His Holiness the Dalai Lama referred to Krishnamurti as “one of the greatest thinkers of the age”, and Time Magazine named him “one of the five saints of the 20th century”.

Here is a copy of an expanded version of an address I delivered in Sydney in September 2006 entitled "Krishnamurti and the Star in the East".

For more information on J. Krishnamurti visit the Krishnamurti Australia website.