Sunday, July 31, 2011


A well known experiment, which many physicians have taken part in, if they studied medical hypnosis, is carried out this way: A person is hypnotized and told that when he wakes up he will close the window that stands ajar. He is also told that he will not remember this suggestion at all.

Then, when he has awoken, he will after some time rise from his seat and go to the open window and close it. The other participants in the class then ask him why he closed the window and he will come up with a sensible answer, for example that it is too cold in here. Then they ask him again if he is sure that this is the reason he closed the window and he will answer yes. They can keep on asking him till they are blue in their faces, but they will still get the same answer. He closed the window because it was too cold.

This is proof that unconscious ideas can influence our conscious actions. This is also proof that the conscious mind can come up with sensible explanations which are completely wrong.

The conscious part of our mind is just the tip of an iceberg, said Freud. He was, what I understand, wrong about what is going on down there. Jung had other theories and so had Viktor Frankel. Maybe only God knows what is going on in the underworld.

Anyway, how do you know that your actions are initiated by you, and not by someone else? What if your actions are determined by unconscious childhood conditioning without you being aware of it? What if your actions are initiated by some weird religious programming?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yoga, Mindfulness and Awakening

The ancient Buddhist scriptures were translated into English when Buddhism was transferred to the Western world. The Pali word sati, for example, was translated into mindfulness. However, not only the sound of the word changed in the translation, even the meaning changed.

Yoga is another example of an Indian word which got a new meaning when it was transplanted in the West. Bodhi (awakening) is a third example.

Things change, words change, new interpretations arise. This is not necessarily something bad. Sometimes new viable cross-fertilizations are created in new environments.

Christianity has changed dramatically through history and so have Buddhism, Advaita-Vedanta, Islam and Judaism. Everything is constantly changing. Sometimes crazy interpretation arises, sometimes interesting new approaches are found. The thinking mind is never at rest.

Yoga was originally not a method to loose weight or getting a tighter butt. Mindfulness was originally not a method for stress reduction or a way to improve work performance. And it was certainly not a way to get better sex. Awakening and glimpses of other ways to perceive reality were not synonymous in the ancient Buddhist scriptures.

The original Christianity had no right-wing political agenda. Advaita-Vedanta was originally only for men from the Brahmin cast. To hire a certified awakening coach in order to wake up is a modern concept.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Awakening for sale

You can’t buy love. You can get yourself a sexy trophy wife, if you have enough money, but you can’t buy love.

In the same way, you can’t buy awakening and you can’t buy self respect, meaning or salvation. You can buy a road map but you can’t buy a map that shows you where you can find awakening or meaning. Well, you can buy such a map but if you buy another map in another store you will get other instructions. People are selling guide books on how to find the Dao, the road to success, mindfulness, happiness, creativity, awakening, transformation, you name it. And they all point in different directions.

People are selling their awakening stories or success stories and their half-baked philosophies and theories made from their misunderstandings, delusions and dreams.

The market for self help books is worth more than 700 million dollars in the US alone and the total US self-help market is worth more ten billion dollars.

There are career coaches, life coaches, spiritual guides and teachers, authors on endless promotion tours and huge international companies selling self improvement methods in hotels and conference centers. There are tons of people living by selling all these things that can’t be sold. They are like hustlers who are selling land on the moon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Some believe that they are saved, when they in reality have been deceived by a mad preacher; others believe that they are spiritually awake, when they in reality are lost in some wacky New Age world.

Some find the truth in the Koran; others find it in the Tea-party movement.

Everyone seems to be lost in dream worlds.

Some people spend years in monasteries practicing Buddhist meditation, only to find out later that their meditation was actually an escape from life; others spend years in research laboratories only to find that their hypotheses were wrong and all their work was in fact an attempt to please a demanding mother.

How do you know if you’re awake at this moment or if this is also a dream? What if you’re in the middle of something, but you are not aware of it.

Are you the driver or are you driven by subconscious delusions, like all the rest? Maybe you’re sitting there at the wheel but someone else is deciding where you are going. What if you’re lost? What if your road map is too old? Is this really your destination? Is this really the famous Shangri-La? How do you know that this is the place you have been looking for?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Walking meditation.

I have a thirty minutes walk in the morning from the commuter train station to my job. In the afternoons, when I’m on my way home, I always walk through the park to the tube station. This is also a thirty minutes walk. I walk in rain and snow storms, hot summer afternoons and crisp September mornings. There are no buss connections so I have to walk. These walks are my meditation.

I have practiced sitting meditation in different forms, off and on, for more that twenty years. My walking meditation has been going on for nine years now, five days a week.

So, what is the difference between walking to get to work and my walking meditation? There is almost no difference, I think. Just walking and my form of walking meditation is almost the same thing.

I have read about Buddhist walking meditation but my meditation does not have much in common with their much more serious and disciplined exercises. I am mostly lost in thoughts, daydreams, some kind of planning or what I shall say to somebody when we meet. In this sense is my meditation like ordinary walking.

However, after walking two or three hundred yards or so, I usually wake up and realize that I have been lost in thoughts. For a short moment I take in the whole picture, the sky, the clouds, the huge poplars, the woodpeckers, the meadow...This kind of awareness lasts only for a very short time, maybe only a few seconds, and then I am lost in a thought again. I suppose this is not really to wake up, it just feels this way. Probably it’s just a switch from thinking mode to looking mode.

Anyway, I have experimented and tried to maintain or extend these moments of looking but I have not been very successful. Soon I am gone again, lost in thoughts. And then, suddenly, I wake up again, only to be gone again a few moments later. My walking meditation is thus very similar to my sitting meditation.

So, what is the point with my walking meditation? Well, there is not much point with it, I think. It will not lead to enlightenment. It is not an attempt to improve myself or become more relaxed. It is simply something I do because I am interested in who I am, how the mind works and what awareness is.

Despite the fact that my meditation practice is undisciplined and amateurish it has nevertheless given me some important insights. My most important discovery, I think was when I finally understood how little I know and that I mistake my thoughts for truths.

I don’t know what will happen to us when we die. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know where I’m heading. I don’t know how the world is working. All my knowledge, spiritual as well as material, is made of thoughts and thoughts come and go, moods come and go, everything comes and goes, like the weather. What is knowledge one day turns out to be a misunderstanding the next.

Life is an incredible mystery. Everything is so unimaginable complex. To hold on tightly to ones opinions and beliefs seems absurd. To be able see this, with my own brain, not just reading about it or hearing about it, is something I have learned from my walking meditation.

However, even if the insight, that thoughts are just thoughts, is an important discovery, it is only the beginning of the awakening process. The habits remain, nicotine addiction, overeating, laziness, ways of reacting…They have to be dealt with in other ways.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What is awakening?

The Germans were possessed by the idea in the nineteen thirties that they were a superior race and that life was about competition between races. This crazy idea caused the horrors of the Second World War.

Eighteenth-century Englishmen considered slave trade a decent way to make money. Also highly regarded men could buy and sell even young children. They accumulated huge fortunes and sang psalms in church on Sundays.

Ideas, beliefs and delusions can cause so much misery and pain.

Some people believe that life is meaningless; others believe that nothing but money is important. Some people believe that something is wrong with them; others believe that there is a God somewhere who demands that women must be covered with burqas. Some people believe that they are completely worthless; others believe that they are absolutely wonderful.

How would you see yourself and the world, do you think, if you wouldn't have your colored glasses on? Why is it so difficult to free oneself from delusions, misunderstandings and nonsense? Is there really nothing we can do about it?

To wake up, as I see it, is to suddenly realize that a crazy belief is a crazy belief, a misunderstanding, a delusion. This sudden awakening does not come about because someone is lecturing you about awakening or because you tell yourself that now you have to stop this bloody nonsense. We are like nicotine addicts who know very well that smoking is causing cancer and all sorts of diseases but we keep on smoking anyway.

A young man can be deeply in love and totally blind to the fact that the love of his life is in love with someone else. When it finally sinks in he will feel like he is waking up from a dream.

Also deeply religious men realize sometimes that God is just a word which means different things to different people.

Spiritual awakening and salvation can also be delusions.

True awakening takes place, I think, when we realize fully that we will never know who we are and how the world is working.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gurus and spiritual awakening

Awakening is a concept, an idea, a word. However, if you ask ten different spiritual teachers you will get ten different explanations of what it is.

If I point to an apple and say, “Have a taste of that apple; it’s a delicious variety“ you will have no problem to understand what I say. But if you ask a spiritual teacher about what awakening is you will get confused. Why is it so difficult to understand what he is talking about? What does he mean? How come other teachers have other explanations and give other instructions on how to find it?

There are so many gurus, religious leaders, coaches, therapists and spiritual experts on the market today and they all point in different directions. And they all say: “Don’t look at my finger. Look at what I’m pointing at.”

There are gurus for the rich and gurus for the poor, gurus for the middleclass and gurus for the celebrities, gurus for the smart and gurus for the blockheads…

Everybody can find a Guru. Everybody can get spiritual guidance.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Meditation and the voice in the head

You need at least one person who understands where you are from, how you look at things and what you feel about things. Everybody needs someone to talk to, someone who hear what you are saying.

In a similar way, if you don't listen to your ego, it will get frustrated. If you are very strict with your meditation practice and dismisses your ego completely, saying to yourself: “This is just mental chattering. Let the thoughts come and go like the clouds in the sky”, then the ego will be upset. The ego is right sometimes. If you always reject your ego, keep on mocking it or disparage it, you will create a conflict within yourself.

Therefore, listen to your ego as if you were listening to a child. Sometimes you have to say to a child, “Don’t you see that I’m busy right now.” Sometimes you have to say, “Stop this nagging, for heavens sake. I will not get you a dog.” However, sometimes you have to listen to your child.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


After rain comes sunshine. After sunshine comes rain. After a long hard winter comes spring and summer and after months of rain and strong winds comes a wonderful weekend by the lake, then three more weeks of rain and cold winds.

Some people experience years and years of incredible hardships in terrible places. This is how life works. Hardship, misery and pain are a part of most people’s lives. Peace and harmony are usually quite rare experiences. Sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down. Sometimes we are stressed out and sometimes we are relaxed.

Spiritual awakening, I believe, is not like moving to a luxury bungalow in Hawaii with pleasant summer nights all year around surrounded by good looking and smiling celebrities, discussing the Dao, walking barefoot and swimming with dolphins. To wake up and to feel good is not the same thing.

Jesus suffered on the cross, Krishnamurti suffered from severe headaches and Osho suffered from asthma.

To wake up, I believe, is to be wherever we are, to feel whatever we feel and think whatever we think, doing what we have to do and being aware of what’s going on in the world.

Spiritual sleep is like living in Beverly Hills, selfish, haughty and drugged, attending charity parties and spiritual workshops or like living in a slum, spending all free time drinking, quarreling, complaining and watching crap on TV.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Spirituality and materialism

Both spiritual and materialistic ways of looking at life are created in the thinking mind. Advaita-Vedanta, Marxism, Catholicism, Mahayana Buddhism and Empirical Positivism, delusions, explanations, great theories, political opinions, idiotic ideas, clever ideas, silly jokes, they are all creations of the thinking mind.

If the speech center of the brain is damaged by a hemorrhage, you’re no longer able to create explanations, theories and opinions. Hallucinations, dreams, daydreams, reveries and visions emanate from other parts of the brain. Anger and fear are created in the reptilian brain and love is created in the limbic system. So what? Why bother?

Where is the observing self or the sense of I located? It’s apparently not created in the speech center. Someone with a damaged speech center because of a brain hemorrhage will still wake up in the morning and feel that they are. To me it doesn’t matter. To me it’s not even particularly important if my sense of I is located in my brain or somewhere outside my body. I think that there are many much more important issues to be considered, for example: Where did I put my bike key? What shall I cook for supper? Should I drop my resentment towards Ms X though she is still full of shit? How shall I live my life?

Right now

What you are experiencing as the present now, is actually something that happened a quarter of a second ago. The now has to be processed in the brain before you can experience it. This means that the now, the past and the future are made of the same stuff, neural activity.

If there had been no brain substance in the world there would have been be no present now. There would have been almost nothing at all, just dark, endless empty space, with a few electrons and quarks or strings here and there.

Such discoveries are useless, I think. What difference does it make to you if the world in reality consists of almost nothing? What difference does it make if it takes a quarter of a second to process sensory input or if the processing is instant?

What difference does it make if consciousness is created in the brain or somewhere else?

What difference does it make if the sense of I am is just a hallucination, some kind of weird mirage, or if it‘s the eternal soul?

Why do we fill our heads with so much irrelevant information? We are ruining this planet with our greed for more money. This is a fact. Our fantasies about what will happen to us when we die are of secondary importance. We strain gnats and swallow camels?

What is the ego?

When we use the word ego in modern everyday language, we often mean the greedy, competing and selfish part of our mind. “He’s very egotistical. It’s his ego who controls him. It’s your ego who fabricates those explanations.”

The original Latin meaning of the word ego, however, was I. The word I was originally neutral. There was no valuation in it. “I am hungry. I am at home. I will meet you later.”

Freud used the word ego to denote the conscious executive part of our mind.

“To hell with wife and whining kids. I need to have some fun, not just endless harping and complaining. I shall go to the cabin over the weekend, with Monica. It’ll work out somehow with the money.” This is the ego’s voice.

“No, I’m not going to the cabin with Monica, even though she’s wonderful. I shall not cheat on my wife now when she’s going through all these things. I shall stay at home and play with the kids.” This is also the ego’s voice, as Freud used the word. Ego and selfishness was not the same thing to him.

Some people believe that ego is something bad which we have to get rid of, or that it will fall away, somehow, when we’re waking up. Others believe that a big strong ego is something good and that it’s important to strengthen it. They believe that a competitive ego is good in the struggle for a position in the hierarchy. In our modern societies many people are totally possessed by ego. In the old days, in the agricultural societies kids learned early that they could not have things their way.

Eckhart Tolle defines ego as the mistaken belief of who you are. You are not a miserable looser. You are not supposed to be pushing. These are ideas you have.

So, what is ego? What is it made of? What would happen if the ego disappeared? Which ego? What do you mean with the word ego? Are the ego and the observing self the same thing?

What is a memory? What does a memory consist of? Electric and chemical activities in the synapses? Isn’t it amazing that you remember who you are in the morning when you wake up?

Without an observer there would be no awareness of anything. Without an observing self nothing and nobody would exist. Nobody would be there to be aware of anything. From this point of view is the ego crucial.

Confusion arises when we use the same word in so many different ways.