Tag Archives: Being

Do We Have a Living Relationship to the Universe?

Is there a living connection between us and the Universe? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra discusses this question from both an ancient and a contemporary perspective. The rhythms and movement of the planets is mirrored in the rhythms of nature, as well as those within our own bodies. We are, indeed, the totality of the Universe, in motion.

Because our own existence on Earth mirrors the larger nature of the Universe, we not only have a relationship with our cosmic home, but we are an essential part of it. Just as the planets move through space and energy recycles throughout the Universe, our own lives follow cyclic patterns and exhibit creative impulses. In a sense, we are the Universe, and the Universe is in us.

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Deepak Chopra: You Are Not Your Body or Your Mind

What are the components that make up an identity? Stated another way, who are we and why? Day to day, we are most aware of the bodies that move us from place to place and the minds that construct thoughts and words. Even impulses and ineffable motivations, like the pursuit of morality, the desire for love, and the occasional waves of intuition might be explained away by science and psychology. But are these the only factors that define us? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra discusses the true nature of who we are, at the core of our existence.

What is comes down to, and what many of us already feel, we are neither our bodies nor our minds in totality. Our bodies and minds rather exist within us, within our consciousness, which is greater and more complete than a mere collection of cells or series of synaptic connections.

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You Create



It began with tension. Tension contrasted with the utter peacefulness of a summer evening. It was when I noticed it first.

It was such a beautiful evening, balmy and fresh after a hot, summer day, pink and blue with golden highlights, and filled to bursting with the forest scents and grassy aromas. It was so quiet, so peaceful — but I wasn’t. That was when I noticed it. That was why I noticed it. The tension, the … tightness.

And I thought I was doing so well! I was pulling myself up from my traumas and dramas, I was getting back to my art and to my work, I was making an effort, I was doing stuff again, I even made a list and created a schedule (a tentative one), I was doing, I was doing, I was busy … and it all seemed so silly suddenly. The busyness, the schedule, the doing. It was supposed to be a remedy for not-doing anything, which was bad but … it seemed so silly.

Because it was never the problem, I realized. Doing nothing was never the problem. Reading books all day or hanging out on Facebook, avoiding my art and abandoning my projects — that was never a problem. Doing, doing, doing would never be a solution.

I lost my presence. That was the problem.

I allowed myself to become unconscious, I allowed my life to slip out of focus, I allowed my vision to become fuzzy. Doing things, schedules, plans, objectives and accomplishments were supposed to fix that problem for me, but they did not bring presence with them. They only brought busyness. They brought movement, bustle, hustle, doing. Lots of doing. And tension. There was no presence in all this activity. There was no presence in tension.

Presence was in the peacefulness of last night. As I walked my dogs in the midst of gathering dusk, through the splendid silence of nature around me, there was presence there and I became clear, yet again, that it is lack of presence that is the problem, and it is presence that is the solution.


Not doing, making, bustling and hustling, but presence. Presence as what I am, as my life, right now. Presence that transcends doing. Presence that renders doing obsolete because it, by the virtue of simply being, creates. Creates reality. Creates life. Spontaneously and effortlessly creates — everything.

That is one thing worth doing, I thought to myself last night, working on being present.

Deepak Chopra: What Is The Soul?

Do you have a soul? Where is it? What’s it made of? We discuss the “soul” so often in the discourse on mindfulness, but many of us would be hard-pressed to really parse out its meaning. In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses the soul’s relationship to consciousness, and how the two play out in our lives.

The soul is your core consciousness. It is the ground of your being. It has two components. One is called Jiva, which is the personalized soul that recycles through time on a cosmic journey. It is Karma, memory and desire. The conditioned soul is part of an unconditioned soul called Atman, which is part of the universal soul – Brahman. The purpose of the conditioned soul is to create the evolutionary journey to unity consciousness. We do this through being, love, creative expressions and through service. The soul is also the confluence of meaning, context, relationship and archetypal stories. The soul is the source of all our lives. It projects as the mind, the body and the universe of our experiences.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul!

I Am, Therefore I Think

The challenge of a human life is to live truly free. When you realize that you are not your name, you are not any function, you are not your gender, and in truth you are not anything you can think yourself to be, you recognize the spaciousness of who you truly are. You recognize this spacious consciousness to be already free, regardless of any thought that may appear in consciousness. I am — beingness — is primary spaciousness in form. In our human form I think follows being. To discover that by stopping thinking (while remaining conscious) for only a moment is to discover yourself independent of any thought of yourself.

Thinking is natural to human creatures. Thinking is wondrous and not the problem. The problem is the conviction that who we are is who we think we are. As long as we are attached to the belief that I am who I think I am, we are attached to something that is ephemeral and subject to change, that we can actually forget. If you are willing to not think yourself, who are you? What is left when you don’t believe the thought of who you are? What if you take this moment and actually not know who you are?

In not knowing, just for a moment, you can directly discover yourself. This discovery does not arrive by thought, but by your own immediate direct experience. What is here, before every thought, after every thought and during every thought?

That fresh aliveness — that consciousness — is already here, although it may be veiled by many layers of identification with thought. Consciousness can discover itself and know itself, without needing to think itself. Then false identity is cut, and you recognize yourself to be free.

The cognitive power to create identities is important. It is the way we make sense of reality as human beings. We collect identities based on the narratives we construct around our inward and outward experiences. These collections of identities form our story of who we think we are. Stories are wonderful. But in firm allegiance to our story we lose sight of spacious open mind, uncreated by any story.

By the time I met my teacher I had a well-developed story. I was an acupuncturist and a feminist. I thought of myself as an enlightened person who could see what was true and what was real. Underneath this story of success I hadn’t found the lasting happiness I was really seeking. And so my story continued to be a story seeking an identity that would give me permanent happiness. I was seeking a happy identity through different versions (stories) of myself.

In the willingness to consciously recognize my story and stop telling it for a moment of deep contemplation, I could see that this life force, this wonder of life, the simple joy of being that was present when I was a young child, was still present! It was available for discovery because it is always here. It is the silent core that all stories radiate from.

How can you make that same discovery? First there must be a willingness to overhear the ongoing narrative that defines you. We are aware of the end result of our narratives: I am a happy person, or I am a sad person; I am a success, or I am a failure. But often we are unaware that daily, hourly, we generate and live our own narrative. The narrative may seem simply like a commentary on reality. But actually it is an interpretation of reality, a version of reality. Without making that narrative right or wrong, we can discover what is closer than the narrative.

Before we are storytellers or thinkers we are conscious beings. We are aware that I am. And that awareness is underneath all stories.

In the discovery that life is aware of itself as consciousness, you are naked to yourself, not fooled by the cloaking devices of your narrative. You recognize the truth of yourself. Then, if it is appropriate that you act a certain way, or you repress or express a certain emotion, that is the play of life. You are not fooling yourself. In truth, you are naked, awake consciousness. You are. I am.

Gangaji’s newest book, Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story, was published by Penguin Tarcher in 2011, and is now available in paperback. Gangaji has been awarded the 2012 Best in Print Award for Auto/Biographical Writing by COVR (the Coalition of Visionary Resources).

Gangaji’s new radio show, A Conversation with Gangaji, was launched on Oct. 12. Each month, for 30 minutes, Gangaji and radio show host Hillary Larson will address subjects like addiction, chronic pain, intimacy, depression, anxiety, enlightenment, integrity, death and many others, offering the possibility to listeners across the globe to find freedom in their everyday challenges, and live free and fulfilled lives.

photo by: Atilla1000

Identity Theft and Identity Giveaway

Identity theft is when someone identifies themselves as you and steals your resources.  Identity giveaway is when you identify as someone else and surrender your sense of individuality and uniqueness.

All identification with the external is a giveaway of your essence.

The word “identity” comes from the Latin word idem, which means “same.”  Identity is built through identification with the external, with what you are not. We determine our identities by comparing ourselves to “not-ourselves” and thereby try to determine who we are. We tend to think along the lines of “I am like this or that” or “I am like so-and-so or that-and-such.”  Therein lies the problem.

You aren’t like anything or anybody else, even if you are similar.  Similarity isn’t sameness.  No one is the same as you.  Number 1.0000001 is very, very close to 1, but it still isn’t a true 1.  Only 1 is 1.  And only you are you.  There is no one like you.  You are not an almost-you, or a kinda-you, or a sorta-you.  You are one of a kind, fully and uniquely you!  When we identify (equate) ourselves with the external, with what is not us, we ignore the very uniqueness that makes us different.

Recognize that uniqueness is beyond comparison.  Recognize that you are beyond comparison.  Recognize that as long as you define what you are by what you are not, you are exchanging your uniqueness and oneness for similarity.  And, in so doing, you are giving away your identity and losing sight of your essential, unique self.  Identification with the external is an identity giveaway.

Identity giveaway, just like identity theft, is a loss of self.

Adapted from Lotus Effect (Pavel Somov, 2010)



photo by: flickrPrince

To Eat Is To Know

Eating was the original science, the original study of the environment. Kids, just like primordial life-forms, learn about reality by putting it in their mouths. This mouth knowledge knows no abstracts. The world is either sweet or bitter, smooth or prickly, pleasant or unpleasant. Mouth knowledge comes with gut-level certainty. So to eat is literally to know.

But to know what?

It is to know self from nonself.  Mouth knowledge taught us the boundaries of our bodies. When, as babies, we sucked an object, such as a pacifier, we felt it only from one side, from the side of the mouth. When we sucked our thumbs, we felt them from the outside, through the mouth, and from the inside, through the feeling of the thumb being sucked on. This mouth knowledge—unlike later school knowledge—gave us a glimpse of our paradoxical nature: that somehow we are both the subject and the object of our own experience.

We gave our species the name Homo sapiens.  That name makes good sense. The word sapiens is Latin for both “to know” and “to taste.” Yes, we are knowing animals.

But do you know what it means to know?  To know is to distinguish any given “this” from any given “that.” Thus, to know is always dualistic. To know is to sort the one and only reality into “this” and “that.” Our most fundamental duality is that of self and other, or ego and eco.

As anthropologist Weston La Barre wrote, “An organism’s ‘knowledge’ is its environment” (1954, 3).

So to taste is to know.

But to taste is also to touch. Touch was the very first evolutionary sense. Living beings knew reality by touching it, that is, by tasting it. We knew self from nonself through eating. So ponder this sapience, this wisdom, this knowledge of eating: to eat is to learn.

[excerpt from Reinventing the Meal, New Harbinger, Sept 2012]



photo by: Muffet

Meditative Reflections on an Unfocused Mind (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1, here are another 10 meditative reflections on an unfocused mind:

27.  Congratulations to you if you have an unfocused mind!

28.  I repeat: your “attention deficit” is an attention surplus.

29.  Indeed, by not getting stuck on one thing, you manage to track many things.

30.  A distractible mind is an agile mind.

31.  A mind that cannot be distracted is a non-reactive mind.  That’s an evolutionary minus.

32.  A mind that is easily distracted is a reactive mind. That’s an evolutionary plus.

33.  Recognize: mind is hopelessly one-track: mind is zero-sum: mind is “either/or.”

34.  Recognize: distractibility is mind’s attempt to keep track of more than one thing at a time.

35.  Recognize: distractibility is an openness to stimuli, an openness to context.

36.  That’s why I keep saying: “attention deficit” is actually “attention surplus.”


From “Attention Surplus: Rethinking ADD” (P.  Somov, 2012)



photo by: h.koppdelaney

Telling the Truth About What Is Here

One of the most powerful phrases in human language is “I am here.” It is powerful because it is utterly simple and profoundly true. Anything that is said or thought afterward is just an addition to this basic, unfaltering truth. In fact I and am and here are all pointing to the same essential truth, pointing to that which needs no foundation for its support, because it is the foundational truth.

Even “I am not here,” comes from the truth of being here. Denial of presence can only be stated here, where you are. The power to deny yourself comes from the truth of yourself.

In recognizing that basic truth, I am here, you have the opportunity to be welcomed here, to welcome yourself here, and to welcome what else has appeared here, in whatever state you find present in yourself.

I am inviting you to tell the truth, as completely as possible, about what is here. You probably have particular feelings that are here. Can you welcome them? When feelings change, you are still here. Feelings will change, which may be a good thing or a bad thing, but you remain. Here remains. Here doesn’t change. Things that appear here change.

Tomorrow comes here, yesterday was here. The sun comes here, clouds come here. Limitless beingness, here, discovers itself as I. The ground of the ground, the beingness of your being.

In this very moment you can tell this basic truth, I am here, and meet whatever is evoked by that truth telling. You can rest your mind in this truth. Your thinking mind can be embraced by this truth.

As an investigation, just in this moment, can you find a beginning or an end to here?

Has here ever been absent from your life?

Can you find a time in your life when you ever were not?

You can also turn your attention to the pronoun that everyone uses, I. If you do not limit I to a particular story about I, or a particular definition, or a particular gender, or a particular body, can you recognize it here as consciousness? Deeper and closer than any thought, and yet informing every thought.

In recognizing the particular thoughts that attempt to define I, and attempt to define being, and attempt to define here, in any moment we can simply return to the fundamental truth that needs no definition for its truthfulness.

I am here.

Then we can ask ourselves, “Is it enough?” If full attention is turned to I am here, is anything lacking?

There is no correct answer. It is a discovery.

This blog is adapted from a talk given by Gangaji at Hollyhock, Cortes Island, BC in September 2011. Gangaji’s new book Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story, was published in September by Tacher/Penguin. In this life-changing book, Gangaji uses the telling of her own life story to help readers uncover the truth in their own. Publisher’s Weekly said, “This gently flowing but often disarming volume invites readers to examine the narratives that shape them, and is a call to pass beyond personal stories to find a deeper, more universal self.” Visit www.gangaji.org for more information about Gangaji and her upcoming events, including the monthly Webcast / Conference Series, With Gangaji, which is currently undergoing an in-depth study of Hidden Treasure.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / rosemary*

Today’s Featured Yoga Blog By Nancy Rothstein: Yoga: A Work OUT or a Work IN?


My introduction to yoga began in 1972, an adjunct to the meditation technique I had begun. An introduction to Asanas in a pure Indian tradition gave me a foundation from which to build my practice. From early on, I was empowered to practice quietly on my own.  Yoga became a part of my daily routine, a way to begin my day as habitual as brushing my teeth.  My yoga practice was coupled with time devoted to meditation. This practice has evolved and continues to this day.

I attended yoga classes from time to time to practice in a group and to expand my yogic knowledge. But I never became dependent on going somewhere to “do yoga.”  “Doing yoga” has become accepted vernacular in America. Yet the essence of yoga is about BEING, not DOING. Somewhere along the way, something has been lost in translation.

Yoga for many is a work OUT.  The truth of yoga is that it is a work IN. Yoga is about connecting the mind and the body through your breath. Strengthening your body is a by-product of practicing yogic postures.  At the core of yoga and in the core of the yogi is BEING, not DOING. In the core of the yogi is the center from which the breath flows, in and out, and from where the power is released. 

Yoga is a pathway to inner peace, to health and to strength, both mental and physical.  I have come to know this over the years.  In addition to my yoga postures, I have being practicing the Five Tibetans for nearly 15 years, a wonderfully structured sequence that has given me peace, strength and much more. Just last week I returned to Bikram Yoga after a year hiatus.  For me, this is the only yoga class that has captivated my presence regularly. I love that I go into a class and let go of my mind, surrendering to the flow of the specific choreography and teacher’s “dialogue” that are Bikram.  I just do what I hear and stop thinking. I go IN, focused on my breath, which is what enables me to connect my mind and my body through 90 minutes of heat and humidity!

But when yoga is approached as a work OUT, well, it’s not really yoga anymore. The irony is that the practice….and it is a practice that takes practice…of yoga over time reflects the work you have done withIN so you can function all the better when you are OUT of your practice and INto your life. 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Pedro Moura Pinheiro


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