Tag Archives: mystery

This Is What Real Love Looks Like

Burning Love -- Spring Botanical Red Tulip Flower“Real love is something so deep, so energizing, that you will not know it unless you experience it. Love is an expression of energy, not something that is transacted. Tell me one thing: can you love people when you meet them for the first time?”

(From the audience: No Swamiji! We don’t even know them, then how can we love them?)

Exactly! This is what you think. Let me tell you, with a little bit of intellectual understanding and meditation, you will realize that you can love anyone without a reason! You can love the trees on the road, you can caress them and feel the energy flow from you. You can love people whom you pass by on the road without even knowing them. Love is actually your very being, not a distilled quality that you possess.

Nothing is as misconstrued as love is today. Today, love is more of a transaction. If someone says something nice to you, you love him; tomorrow if the same person falls short of it, you don’t love him that much or you probably hate him.

Even your lifelong friend, with whom you chat everyday on the computer, will seem suddenly not-so-close if he says something that goes against your approval. Where is your love at this time? It has suffered temporarily!

It is just games that you play; a game in which love and hate surface alternately and interchangeably. And this love-hate relationship is not love at all. Be very clear. It is simply your reaction to a person or a situation, that’s all. This is what we call love. This is not real love. It is subjective love, that’s all.

Real love knows no object. It is simply there whether there is an object or not. Real love is the subject itself. It does not know any object. You are the subject and you have become love, that’s all. Any object that comes in touch with it, feels it. Just like a river flows naturally and people enjoy it at the different places that they encounter it, real love exudes from a person and the people around him will be able to feel it.

There is absolutely no room for conditioning in real love. The energy in you should overflow and express itself as love. It is then that you can break through the highly knotted boundaries of relationships and express yourself beautifully, as a loving being!

In order to discover the quality of your being, that is love, two things can be done. The first thing: repeatedly listen to words like these so that they create a conviction in you about real love; so that a space is created in you for the process of transformation. Second thing: meditate so that the transformation can actually happen.

In practical life, when you go deeper and deeper into relationships, you will understand that all that you feel is not real love, but just some form of give and take. It is all just adjustment, some compromise, some duty-bound feelings, some fear, some guilt. It is all there in the name of love.

Meditation will take you beyond these mis-understandings of love. Meditation will work at the being level. That is why it is a shortcut! When you have to go through life and know it by yourself, it will take you a lifetime. But with meditation, a space opens inside you to experience these things clearly for yourself, whatever your age may be.

Just understand this one thing: when you are able to love without a reason, you will expand like anything. Your world will suddenly seem larger than life. It will be so ecstatic. You will become an energy source to yourself and to others. You will be so overflowing that the energy in you has to touch others. There is no other way. Others will be naturally drawn to you.”


Originally posted September 2011

Deepak Chopra: Is God a Mathematician?

In an ongoing series of philosophical, scientific discussions, Deepak Chopra sits down with Menas Kafatos, a physicist and Chapman University professor, to discuss the fine tuning of the universe. With such precision and organized chaos, it would seem any creator would have had an aptitude for math.

Constants in science, such as the speed of light, guide the laws of the physical universe. But the mystery, as Menas says, is why these constants exist as such. The organizing power of the universe very likely derives from these constants, and may be based on pure chance. But Menas and Deepak suggest another possibility, which is that these constants are in fact perfectly organized by a self-aware universe, continually bearing itself into existence.

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Meeting God and the Mystery of Who We Are

Tehran SunsetI heard a story when my son was in a local Waldorf school, and I loved it.

The children were in art class seated in different tables, working hard at their projects. One little girl was particularly diligent, so the teacher stood behind her and watched for a while. Then she bent over to ask her what she was drawing.

Very matter-of-fact the little girl said, “I’m drawing God.”

The teacher chuckled and said, “But you know, hon, no one knows what God looks like.”

Without skipping a beat, without even looking up, the little girl responded, “They will in a moment!”

This made me wonder, what happened to our wildnessThe wildness of God, of Spirit, as John O’Donahue calls it. It’s as if we forget or disconnect from the spontaneity and joy that expresses our essential spirit.

Probably the deepest inquiry in any of the spiritual traditions is the question: who am I? If we look behind the roles and images that our culture gives us, behind the ideas that we internalize from our family, who’s really here? Who is reading right now? Who is looking through these eyes? Who is listening to sounds?

The Buddha said we suffer because we don’t know who we are; we’ve forgotten. We suffer because we are identified with a self that is narrower than the truth, less than the wholeness of what we are. We often live inside a role—parent, helper, boss, patient, victim, judge. We become hitched to our sense of appearance, to our body. We become hitched to our personality, our intelligence. We become hitched to our achievements. These facets constellate into the shape of our identity, of who we take ourselves to be. And that constellation is smaller than the truth. It is less than the awareness and love that is here, less than the sacred essence of what we are.

A friend of mine, a minister, told me about an interfaith gathering which began with the inquiry: What should we call Spirit or the Divine, what’s the name we should use? Right away there’s a question:“Should we call it, God?” “No way,” responds a female Wiccan. “What about Goddess?” she says.“Hah,” remarked a Baptist minister and suggested instead, “Spirit.”

“Nope,” declares an atheist.

The discussion goes on like this for a while. Finally, a Native American, suggested “the Great Mystery” and they all agreed. They all agreed because, regardless of the knowledge or the concepts of their faith, each of them could acknowledge it’s a mystery.

In the moments that we move through life realizing that we belong to this mystery, that this mystery is living through us, we are awake, alive and free.

Enjoy this video on: Entering the Mystery part 1
Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003) For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com
photo by: Hamed Saber

Defending Against Loss

The One and Only EastThe Buddha taught that we spend most of our life like children in a burning house, so entranced by our games that we don’t notice the flames, the crumbling walls, the collapsing foundation, the smoke all around us. The games are our false refuges, our unconscious attempts to trick and control life, to sidestep its inevitable pain.

Yet, this life is not only burning and falling apart; sorrow and joy are woven inextricably together. When we distract ourselves from the reality of loss, we also distract ourselves from the beauty, creativity, and mystery of this ever-changing world.

One of my clients, Justin, distracted himself from the loss of his wife, Donna, by armoring himself with anger. He’d met her in college, and married her right after graduation. Donna went on to law school and to teaching law; Justin taught history and coached basketball at a small urban college. With their teaching, passion for tennis, and shared dedication to advocating for disadvantaged youth, their life together was full and satisfying.

On the day that Justin received the unexpected news of his promotion to full professor, Donna was away at a conference, and caught an early flight back to celebrate with him. On her way home from the airport, a large truck overturned and crushed her car, killing her instantly.

Almost a year after her death, Justin asked me for phone counseling. “I need to get back to mindfulness,” he wrote. “Anger is threatening to take away the rest of my life.”

During our first call, Justin told me that his initial response to Donna’s death was rage at an unjust God. “It doesn’t matter that I always tried to do my best, be a good person, a good Christian. God turned his back on me,” he told me. Yet his initial anger at God had morphed into a more general rage at injustice and a desire to confront those in power. He’d always been involved with social causes, but now he became a lightning rod for conflict, aggressively leading the fight for diversity on campus, and publicly attacking the school administration for its lack of commitment to the surrounding community.

His department chairman had previously been a staunch ally; now their communication was badly strained. “It’s not your activism,” his chairman told him. “It’s your antagonism, your attitude.” Justin’s older sister, his lifelong confidant, had also confronted him. “Your basic life stance is suspicion and hostility,” she’d said. When I asked him whether that rang true, he replied, “When I lost Donna, I lost my faith. I used to think that some basic sanity could prevail in this world. But now, well, it’s hard not to feel hostile.”

The pain of loss often inspires activism. Mothers have lobbied tirelessly for laws preventing drunk driving; others struggle for legislation to reduce gun violence; gay rights activists devote themselves to halting hate crimes. Such dedication to change can be a vital and empowering part of healing. But Justin’s unprocessed anger had aborted the process of mourning. His anger might have given him some feeling of meaning or purpose, but instead he remained a victim, at war with God and life, unable to truly heal.

Loss exposes our essential powerlessness, and often we will do whatever is possible to subdue the primal fear that comes with feeling out of control. Much of our daily activity is a vigilant effort to stay on top of things—to feel prepared and avoid trouble. When this fails, our next line of defense is to whip ourselves into shape: Maybe if we can change, we think, we can protect ourselves from more suffering. Sadly, going to war with ourselves only compounds our pain.

A few months after my first phone consultation with Justin, his seventy-five-year-old mother had a stroke. His voice filled with agitation as he told me about the wall he’d hit when he tried to communicate with her insurance company. They couldn’t seem to understand that her recovery depended on more comprehensive rehab. “There’s nothing I can do to reach this goddamned, heartless bureaucracy … nothing!”

Justin was once again living in the shadow of loss, and gripped in reactivity. We both agreed that this was an opportunity to bring mindfulness to his immediate experience. He began by quickly identifying what he called “pure, righteous anger” before pausing, and allowing it to be there. Then, after a several rounds of investigation, he came upon something else. “My chest. It’s like there’s a gripping there, like a big claw that’s just frozen in place. And I’m afraid.”

“Afraid of what?” I asked gently. After a long pause, Justin spoke in a low voice. “She’ll probably come through this fine, but a part of me is afraid I’m going to lose her too.”

We stayed on the phone as Justin breathed with his fear, feeling its frozen grip on his chest. Then he asked if he could call me back later in the week. “This is a deep pain,” he said. “I need to spend time with it.”

A few days later, he told me, “Something cracked open, Tara. Being worried about my mom is all mixed up with Donna dying. It’s like Donna just died yesterday, and I’m all broken up. Something in me is dying all over again . . .” Justin had to wait a few moments before continuing. “I wasn’t done grieving. I never let myself feel how part of me died with her.” He could barely get out the words before he began weeping deeply.


Whenever we find ourselves lacking control of a situation, there’s an opening to just be with what is.  Now that Justin had once again found himself in a situation he couldn’t control, he was willing this time to be with the loss he’d never fully grieved. Instead of rushing into a new cause, he spent the next couple of months focused on caring for his mom. He also spent hours alone shooting hoops, or hitting tennis balls against a wall. Sometimes he’d walk into his empty house and feel like he had just lost Donna all over again. It was that raw.

Justin had finally opened to the presence that could release his hill of tears. Six months later, during our last consultation, he told me that he was back in action. “I’m in the thick of diversity work again, and probably more effective. Makes sense . . . According to my sister, I’m no longer at war with the world.”

By opening to his own grief instead of armoring himself with anger, Justin was finally able to start the healing process. His grief had never gone away; it had just been hidden. Once he was willing to open to it and feel it, his own sorrow could show him the way home to peace. As Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue tells us:

All you can depend on now is that

Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way

And will find the right time

To pull and pull the rope of grief

Until that coiled hill of tears

Has reduced to its last drop.


photo by: lrargerich

The Mysterious World of Secret Societies

Contemporary Neo-Pagans use an expression to encourage greater transparency and less mystique surrounding their practice. They call it “coming out of the broom closet,” and it is largely an effort to dispel hysteria and suspicion. Being “mysterious,” after all, comes with the price of marginality and sometimes discrimination. At the very least, the imagination is often far stranger than reality.

This week’s episode of Holy Facts Facts on The Chopra Well YouTube channel addresses the topic of secret societies and the very mystique that leads to marginality. Neo-Pagans aren’t alone in their struggle for acceptance in the mainstream. Scientologists, Mormons, and even Catholics at certain points in history have resisted the “cult” classification. Other groups seem to embrace singularity and strive for as much mystery, secrecy, and separation as possible. Enter: Opus Dei, Freemasonry, and the Illuminati.

Opus Dei is an organization that strives to sanctify ordinary life by initiating lay people into the priestly life. The institution is actually recognized by the Catholic Church, so it’s not as marginal as one might expect for a secret society. Secrecy plays a part, however, in some of Opus Dei’s practices, including their recruitment methods, elitism, and mortification of the flesh. If you’re a fan of The Da Vinci Code, then you are likely well-versed already in the many accusations and theories surrounding Opus Dei. Our two cents, don’t believe everything you read.

Freemasonry beats Opus Dei in regards to mystery. The true origins of the organization are unknown, as are its specific rituals, initiation rites, and symbolism….to those on the outside, at least. Freemasons don’t exactly reject the classification of “secret society,” but rather opt for their own term, “esoteric society.” Take your pick. Either way, you’re not getting in the door. What we do know: Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that was founded in the present-day United Kingdom, possibly as early as the Medieval era. It has its origins in the craft of masonry and emphasizes strict morality among its members. The rest is secret to all but the brotherhood.

Finally, and most mysterious of all….The Illuminati. Part reality, part fiction, the Illuminati have been the subject of many a conspiracy theory dating back to the Enlightenment era. Members of the organization supposedly include philosophers, artists, authors, politicians, businessmen, and royalty – powerful, educated men dispersed around the globe who covertly control world affairs. Some events attributed to the Illuminati include the Battle of Waterloo, the French Revolution, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Who knows if it is fear, imagination, or fact influencing such allegations. But, then again, we’ll probably never know.

What do you think? Is the Illuminati responsible for all catastrophic world events? Are you part of a secret society? Want to “come out of the broom closet”?

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The Power of Connecting ‘I’ to ‘I’

I am intrigued by the fact that my experience depends on my state of consciousness.  Something I often play with is noticing what happens when I connect ‘I’ to ‘I’ as I interact with people in my daily life. This means looking below the superficial appearances of things, so that I’m conscious of my ‘deep self’ within … and then connecting with the deep self in others.

We spend much of our time feeling disconnected from ourselves and each other. But it only takes a moment to wake up and connect ‘I’ to ‘I’ – deep self to deep self. Whether it be in the world of business, our family life, or our social life with friends, when we become conscious of the depths within it transform the experience of living.  We feel relaxed and in love with being ourselves. We appreciate the miracle of meeting another human being who is also experiencing this bittersweet adventure of life.

If you’ve watched the movie Avatar you’ll know that the characters greet each other with the phrase ‘I see you’.  That’s how it feels when we connect ‘I’ to ‘I’. We genuinely see each other. And when this happens our relationships naturally become clearer, deeper, and more creative. We bring out the best in each other. We celebrate our wonderful individuality.  We authentically connect and empower each other to become more alive.

In India, people use the greeting ‘namaste’, which can be understood as meaning ‘I acknowledge you from the place in me where you and I are one.’  Connecting ‘I’ to ‘I’ enables us to acknowledge to each other that at the depths of our being we are essentially one. And when we discover that we are one with all we find ourselves in love with all.

In the Hindu tradition, meeting with a spiritual master is regarded as a great blessing because it helps us become more awake. We resonate with the expanded state of consciousness the great spiritual being we’re with inhabits, transforming our own state.  This is a wonderful experience known as darshan. However, when we connect ‘I to I’, we can feel the joy of darshan with anyone because in reality we’re all great spiritual beings.

 Corner Shop Communion

I recently wrote about my own experience of connecting ‘I’ to ‘I’ in my book How Long Is Now? :

I’ve nipped down to the local corner shop to buy a paper and I’m casually chatting to the girl behind the counter about  how bad the weather has been lately.  It’s a trivial conversation to pass the time while she’s getting me my change.  But something profound is also happening.  Behind the social niceties I’m communing with someone whose name I don’t even know.

As we chat together I’m silently acknowledging the enormity of her deeper being. And as I do so she is changing. She’s stopped avoiding eye contact.  Her face has softened, because she’s smiling.  We’re totally present with each other.  Then I take my paper and leave her serving the next customer, with whom she is now talking warmly.

As I walk home I’m thinking about how my state of consciousness affects the way I relate to people. If I’m lost in the story of Tim and I go to buy something from the corner shop, I see the girl who serves me as a ‘shop assistant’, because that is her role in my story.  If I’m more awake I’m conscious that she is also a person full of hopes and fears, who happens to be a shop assistant, and this makes our meeting warmer and kinder.  If I’m deep awake I see all of that and more.  I realise that I’m meeting the mystery of life made manifest in this unique form. And there’s the opportunity to briefly peek out from behind the veil of appearances and say ‘Hi’.

That’s what happened with the shop assistant today.  We met in the moment.  For this to happen I didn’t need to come in with ‘Good morning mystery made manifest, I’d like to buy a paper please’,  because that would have freaked her out.  I simply needed to be in the deep awake state and give her the space to join me should she wish to.  And, as often happens, this led to an unexpected moment of communion with a total stranger.

To love each other personally takes time.  We need to talk to each other and share experiences.  We need to laugh and suffer together.  But to meet each other in the transpersonal oneness we don’t need to know each other personally at all.  The connection from being to being is immediate and always possible. And whenever we commune in big love it sends ripples of kindness out into the world.

So … here’s suggestion.  Why not experiment with seeing deeper in your own life today? Be conscious of your own deep self and reach through the separateness to silently connect with the deep self in others.  This is an experiment not a test, so you can’t fail.  But notice what difference this makes to the way you relate to others.  I think you might enjoy it!

Tim Freke is hosting a day seminar on ‘CONNECTING I TO I’ in Birmingham ,UK on March 10th and also offers ‘mystery experience’ retreats internationally. You can find out more about these events here.

 (cc) Photo Credit: mccun934

What is Enlightenment?

"We are always chasing happiness. We want to be happy all the time. The shortest way to be that way is to become enlightened!


Let me tell you what it means to be in the state of enlightenment. This is my personal experience.


The enlightenment keeps me in tremendous ecstasy 24 hours, 365 days a year. The word ‘ecstasy’ is not enough to describe the bliss I am in. Scientists say that whenever pleasure is stimulated in your system, a hormone called dopamine is released. Doctors call the point where it is released as the D-spot. When the chemical is released, our body is flooded with enormous energy.


When I am in the state of enlightenment, the idea of boundary, a limiting factor for most of us is lost. The feeling that my body ends here and the rest of the world starts here is absent. Everything is mine. The sensitivity with which I feel my body is the same that I feel for the whole cosmos.


My first experience with this kind of joy happened when I was a mere teenager. When I experienced it for the first time, the heightened sense of ecstasy lasted only for a few days. It gave me the first experience, the first glimpse. But after enlightenment, I live continuously in this heightened ecstasy. I am always in bliss day in and day out. It does not diminish, reduce. It just is. There is no time where I am not in this state.


When I became enlightened, I could no longer be judgmental. I only have compassion for everyone and everything. Merely by my physical presence, I radiate energy that will touch everyone.


With enlightenment, the basic idea of sex disappeared. The idea of being either male or female died. Though I have a male body, I can never identify with a male or female body. The truth is I am holding on to my body delicately, just like I hold a handkerchief, with my fingertips.


My mind doesn’t exist. I am like a tape recorder that plays when it is switched on. When it plays, you hear the sound. When it is switched off, there is silence. Similarly, when I stop talking, a space is created. There are no words here. There is only silence.


There are thousands of enlightened masters living on planet Earth. Their energies are all one and the same. Only their expressions are different.


Let us all strive towards enlightenment. Let us all partake the ecstasy and bliss that is eternal. Let all of us be in Nithyananda – eternal bliss."


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The Unknown

Let me first start by saying the mysteries of our existence far outweigh the things we currently hold as true, and when you look through history, what is held as true is usually found to not be entirely correct. So, it stands to reason that many of the things we hold true in our era aren’t entirely correct.

This is the mindset I wake up with everyday. It helps me stay outside of our current western society, while still the tasks necessary to survive in it. It’s a balance that is delicately held and easy to disrupt. You see when you live this mindset, you realize that our current western society with its banking, its economy, its religion, its wars and so forth are a fantasy created by our minds. These are all systems we’ve agreed to live under. They are not reality. They are nothing more than our currently accepted way of life. Nothing more, nothing less. They cannot give you meaning and purpose or anything that so many people long for.

With this in mind, the question of what is real and what does provide these things becomes the foremost important question in a discussion such as this one. The funny part is, we don’t know. We don’t know how we got here. We don’t know what we truly are, that is to say, that if our consciousness is truly us then we don’t understand ourselves, because we don’t understand consciousness. We can only define it as our awareness. We can’t say where it comes from, what it is or what it does before our birth and after our death.

Even constructs like time and space are at this very moment being challenged by quantum physics. The recently proposed theory of biocentrism is a particularly fascinating. But this new knowledge only brings up many more questions we can’t answer. As I stated in the beginning of this blog, I live each day knowing that I know next to nothing about our existence and that a great mystery is constantly surrounding us and for me there is nothing more exciting than learning and discovering more about that mystery.

But what about my everyday life, my reality that I have to deal with? Well, when you live with mystery in mind you learn to live in the moment. You learn to be excited with the world around you. You learn to be humble and happy in this world and you learn to be motivated to do what you truly want to because you are trying to keep the big picture in mind. You are letting go and living in the moment. I have to say, it’s a wonderful way to live. 🙂

Rumi – Seeker of the Divine

Rumi – Seeker of the Divine
(30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273)

Why should I seek? I am the same as He.
His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!

The Essential Rumi. Translations by Coleman Barks

Mawl?n? Jal?l ad-D?n Mu?ammad Balkh?, also known as Jal?l ad-D?n Mu?ammad R?m? (known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi.

Rumi was an evolutionary thinker in the sense that he believed that the spirit after devolution from the divine Ego undergoes an evolutionary process by which it comes nearer and nearer to the same divine Ego. All matter in the universe obeys this law and this movement is due to an inbuilt urge (which Rumi calls "love") to evolve and seek enjoinment with the divinity from which it has emerged. Evolution into a human being from an animal is only one stage in this process. Rumi believes that there is a specific goal to the process: the attainment of God. For Rumi, God is the ground as well as the goal of all existence.

The general theme of Rumi’s thought, is essentially that of the concept of tawh?d – union with his beloved (the primal root) from which/whom he has been cut off and become aloof – and his longing and desire to restore it.

The Masnavi weaves fables, scenes from everyday life, revelations and exegesis, and metaphysics into a vast and intricate tapestry. Rumi is considered an example of Insan-e Kamil — Perfect Man, the perfected or completed human being. In the East, it is said of him that he was "not a prophet — but surely, he has brought a scripture".

Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry, and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine, and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. It was from these ideas that the practice of "whirling" dervishes developed into a ritual form. His teachings became the base for the order of the Mevlevi which his son Sultan Walad organized. Rumi encouraged sam??, listening to music and turning or doing the sacred dance. In the Mevlevi tradition, sam?? represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One. In this journey, the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the Perfect. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination with regard to beliefs, races, classes, and nations.

Rumi’s life and transformation provide true testimony and proof that people of all religions and backgrounds can live together in peace and harmony. Rumi’s visions, words, and life teach us how to reach inner peace and happiness so we can finally stop the continual stream of hostility and hatred and achieve true, global peace and harmony.

In other verses in the Masnavi, Rumi describes in detail the universal message of love:

Lover’s nationality is separate from all other religions,
The lover’s religion and nationality is the Beloved (God).
The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes.
Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.

Naini, Majid. The Mysteries of the Universe and Rumi’s Discoveries on the Majestic Path of Love.

With love and kind regards,



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