Week 15, with Eva Tsoureka
First of all, I would like to thank you all so much for this wonderful journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Dhamma Mahavana (Pali for “Great Forest of Dhamma”) Sierra Nevada foothills, North Fork, California, 01/28/2012.
I slowly open my eyes. Feels strange to see outward. “How long have I been sitting here, with my eyes closed?” I wonder. “ Where is everyone?”
I am all by myself, on top of a small cliff, sitting cross legged on the ground, surrounded by nature. A few meters away from the door of the temple, I exit together with around 200 people with whom I experienced the meditation of love. The final sitting meditation after myriads during my 10 day silent vipassana retreat. The most powerful of all.
I still remember in every little detail the vibrational energy of the room. Feeling so thankful for every single soul. Together, we spread a glimpse of peace to the world.
For me that specific moment, on top of this small cliff in the middle of a Californian forest, 235 miles northeast of Los Angeles, became a foundational moment. An experience I revisit whenever I feel in doubt or in worry. It is my “God Anchor”. (In NLP -Neuro Linguistic Programming- we call these foundational moments “anchors” since their remembrance brings back instantly those same feelings we experienced during those moments.)
I loved how Nepo explained it, “You don’t have to name these foundational moments, or explain them, or fit them onto some theological box. You simply have to experience them and locate them, so you have a chance to return to them or to moments like them, when you need to.” p.259
And by naming it “God”, trust me, I am not putting it in a theological box. “Ultimately, names are only useful as doorways to what can’t be named”. It’s more important to experience the unnamed mystery as it moves through us and about us than to argue if that enormous presence is God, nature, physics or the bareness of being that Buddhists speak of. Ultimately , names are only useful as doorways to what can’t be named.” p.260
I want to share with you a part of the speech of S. N. Goenka, founder of the Vipassana research institute, during the Millennium World Peace Summit. His words are echoing in my mind creating another “foundational” moment for me.
Religion is religion only when it unites. Religion is not religion when it divides. Religion is not for dividing people, it is for uniting people. So much I have said about conversion. For conversion and against conversion. I’m for conversation, I am not against conversion. But conversion not from one organized religion to another organized religion, no.
Conversion from misery to happiness. Conversion from bondage to liberation. Conversion from cruelty to compassion. That is the conversion needed today.
Thinking of peace in human society, we cannot ignore individuals. If there is no peace in the mind of the individual, I can’t understand how there can be real peace in the human world. If I have an agitated mind, if I have a mind full of anger, hatred, ill-will, animosity, how can I give peace to the world?
Because I have no peace within myself, I am an agitated person. The great enlightened persons have said, “First have peace within yourself”.
So one has to observe whether there is really peace in me or not.
All the sages, saints and seers of the world have this advice, “Know thyself.”
Not merely at an intellectual level, not merely accepting at the emotional devotional level, at the actual level.
When you start experiencing the truth about yourself within yourself, at the experience level, many of the problems get solved. You start understanding the universal law. The Universal law of the nature, or Universal law of the God. The universal law which is applicable to one and all.
When I start observing within myself and I find that I am generating anger, hatred, ill-will, animosity, I immediately realize that I am the first victim of my anger.
I’m the victim of the hatred, ill-will, animosity that I’m generating within myself.
Then only I start harming others. This is the law of nature.
My body starts burning, heated up, palpitation, tension, I am a miserable person.
And when I generate negativity in me and become miserable, I don’t keep this misery limited to myself, I keep on throwing this misery on others. I make the entire atmosphere around me so tense, that anybody who comes in contact with me becomes miserable.
And I talk of peace, I talk of Happiness, keep on talking of happiness and peace, what is happening in me is more important to me than anything else. The law of nature.
And if I’m free from these negativities, if my mind is free from negativity, mind is pure again.
Law of nature starts working. I observe within myself at this moment there’s no negativity in the mind and look how the nature of God starts rewarding me.
I feel so peaceful.
Conversion should be from the impurity of the mind to purity of the mind.
When people get changed, such wonderful changes come. No magic, no miracle, is a pure science. Observing the interaction of mind and matter within ourselves.
How the mind keeps influencing the matter, the body. How the body keeps on influencing the mind. If you keep on, keep on observing, we understand the law of nature so clearly.”
For 10 days S. N. Goenka teachings, every night at 9pm, were the only words I was listening to, that were not generated from me. Every single night, I was so looking forward to them so I could escape from my own voices. No books, no phones, no notepads, no pencils, no nothing just a flashlight so you don’t get lost in the woods at 5am when trying to locate the pagoda for the morning practice.
Miraculously his words would put an end to my sufferings. To the endless questions that I was trying to answer during and between my practices throughout the day. And every day was more compassionate and the connection grew stronger. And slowly I could clearly see it.
As Nepo says, “The Truth of our pain and despair will transform itself if we dare to give voice to it”. p268
“We simply need to devote ourselves to being students of Truth and Beauty, letting love stitch them into a rope we can climb or a blanket that can keep us warm.” p269
I would definitely come back to these chapters, there is so much to reflect.
Once again thank you all and looking forward to seeing you on zoom next week.
What struck you about this week’s reading?
Book Club Schedule:
- Week #16 FINAL book club round up Zoom, Saturday, December 18, 10am-11am pacific (link to come via email)