How Many Gifts Did You Receive Today? – Metta Teachings

Kindness is being aware

Appreciation is a wonderful gift to have. To thank someone for a kindness is to literally touch the heart of another.  Through lovingkindness, everyone and everything can flower again from within.When we discover the knowledge of our own goodness and that of others, self-blessing happens naturally and beautifully. Here’s a nice note from Swami Chinmoy on gratitude and appreciation.


Every day in our multifarious activities, either we express ingratitude or we express gratitude to our fellow beings.Ingratitude is not our inability to acknowledge the gifts we receive from others. Ingratitude is our deliberate unwillingness to acknowledge the gifts we receive from others. Gratitude is receptivity, the receptivity that acknowledges others’ gifts, others’ love and concern. Each time we express gratitude, we expand our hearts.

Receptivity can be increased. How can we increase our receptivity? We can increase it by cultivating it. The farmer cultivates the ground and then he sows the seed. He waters it and eventually the seed germinates and grows into a sapling and a tree. Here also, when we cultivate our gratitude-heart, we get the opportunity to sow our pure love there. This pure love grows into true concern, and true concern eventually becomes inseparable oneness.

When we want to pick a beautiful flower from a tree, we look around to see if anybody is observing us. We feel that nobody should know that we had to take the flower from some other place. We want to show the world at large that this flower was ours right from the beginning. In order to do that, we try to destroy the branches of the tree.

We receive gifts from our friends in the inner worlds but we don’t want others to know about it. So we speak ill of our inner friends, consciously or unconsciously. We want to make the world believe that we are self sufficient, but the rest of the world knows that we are receiving something from others. Ingratitude is nothing but a sense of inferiority, an inferiority complex. The gifts we get from others we do not want to acknowledge. We are afraid to expose ourselves to others.

Ingratitude, impurity and the doubting mind go together. It is impurity that divides and separates us and does not allow us to have the feeling of oneness or gratitude. And this impurity unconsciously or consciously is treasured by the doubtful mind. Gratitude, purity and the loving heart always go together. The gratitude flower grows in our purity heart. Purity expands our heart. Purity awakens our entire being within to the highest level of consciousness. The heart is self giving. And what is self-giving today becomes tomorrow God-Delight and God Perfection.

-Swami Chinmoy

Laughter Is Good For You – Metta Teachings

Laughter, joy and happiness is healthy for you. They say laughter is the best medicine. It can cure illness and extends life.  A good laugh boosts the immune system, relieves depression and stress, relaxes all the body’s muscles, is good exercise for the heart and helps prevent heart attacks, it cleanses the lungs, and provides an overall sense of well being.

We don’t need to wait for someone else to bring us happiness – happiness is a choice we can make at any time we want.  You can choose to look on the good side of things and take life more lightly, or you can choose to think gloomy and sad.  It’s up to you. Life is the movie you see through your own eyes – it’s up to you how you take it.

Jolly laughing Buddha

In Plum Village, we laugh all day long, yet not one of us has a private bank account.  There is a belief that unless you have a lot of money, unless you hold a high position in society, you cannot be truly happy. It is hard to let go of that belief until you see the truth that happiness is possible in another way. Seeing that will make the future possible for our children. So I think in Buddhist circles we have to reorganize so that we can show people a way of living happily based on mutual understanding, not materialism. Just a dharma talk isn’t enough, because a dharma talk is just a talk. Only when people see such an unmaterialistic community, when they see such a way of life, will they be convinced.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Romanic Paris has its own culture of joy and this street sculpture is no exception..

Greet everyone you meet with a warm smile.
No matter how busy you are,
don’t rush enounters with co-workers, family and friends.
Speak softly. Listen attentively.
Act as if every conversation you have
is the most important thing on your mind today.
Look your children and your partner in the eyes when they talk to you.
Stroke the cat, caress the dog.
Lavish love on every living being you meet.
See how different you feel at the end of the day. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

(from ‘Simple Abundance : A Daybook of Comfort and Joy’) ~


Look to this day, for it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities and verities of existence.
The bliss of growth, the splendor of action, the glory of power.
And yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today – well lived – makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

~ Sanskrit proverb ~

Compassion – Metta Teachings

I thought this might be interesting to you folks. I really enjoy the writings on “Metta,” Loving Kindness and like to add them to the blog from time to time.  This little piece says so much about  Compassion and how it can be achieved and that is by taking one small step at a time.

“Compassion is not a magical device that can instantly dispel all
suffering. The path of compassion is altruistic but not idealistic.
Walking this path we are not asked to lay down our life, find a
solution for all of the struggles in this world, or immediately rescue
all beings. We are asked to explore how we may transform our own
hearts and minds in the moment.

Can we understand the transparency of division and separation? Can we
liberate our hearts from ill will, fear, and cruelty? Can we find the
steadfastness, patience, generosity, and commitment not to abandon
anyone or anything in this world? Can we learn how to listen deeply
and discover the heart that trembles in the face of suffering?

The path of compassion is cultivated one step and one moment at a
time. Each of those steps lessens the mountain of sorrow in the

Pema Chodron – Buddhist Nun

photo source: Jeff Moore

Compassion and Loving Kindness – Metta Teachings


Ajahn Brahmavamso is a wonderful Theravadan monk whose wit and humor help bring the dharma alive.  Given recent events, I thought it would be good to give people who are not familiar with him a feel for Ajahn Brahm’s skill as a teacher. I think this is one of the best, most
inspiring metta instructions I’ve ever posted.

Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta)

Ajahn Brahmavamso:

Metta is the Buddhist word for “loving-kindness.” It refers to the
emotion of goodwill, that which wishes happiness for another. It
embraces forgiveness, because Metta says: “The door to my heart is
open to you. No matter who you are or what you have done, come in.” It
is that kindness which does not judge and is given freely, expecting
nothing in return. The Buddha compared Metta to a mother’s love for
her child (Sn, 149). A mother may not always like her child or agree
with everything it does, but she will always care for her child,
wishing it only happiness. Such openhearted, non-discriminating
kindness is Metta.

Metta meditation is that meditation which focuses the attention on the
feeling of loving-kindness, developing that beautiful transcending
emotion until it fills the whole mind. There are many methods for
developing Metta meditation. Here is just one way.

To Light a Fire, Start with “Kindling”—Someone or Something You Love

One way you can develop loving-kindness meditation is by choosing some
object, which you find easy to feel loving kindness toward. The simile
I often use is that of lighting a fire. You need kindling to light a
fire. One can’t put a match to a big log and expect the match to
ignite that log. The log is far too big. So you have to find
something, which will take the flame easily, something, which is easy
to light. It could be some of the firelighters you get for barbecues,
or paper, or straw — anything that takes the fire very easily will do.
You build up the first flames of loving-kindness on that kindling and
then later one can put on more solid pieces of wood.

First of all one uses just twigs and then branches, then you can put
big logs on that fire. It’s always the case that only when there’s a
big roaring fire — really strong and very hot — only then can you put
on the big “sappy logs.” The big sappy logs in this simile stand for
your enemies. Sometimes for many of you, the biggest sappy log is
yourself! When you find the fire of loving-kindness is very strong,
you can put yourself on that fire, “dry out” and ignite the biggest,
sappiest log of all.

Once the fire is strong, you can give loving-kindness towards even
your worst enemies. It may surprise you that you can actually do this.
You think of this person towards whom you’ve always had anger and
wanted revenge, and you find that you are now in a mind state where
you can actually love them, really give them goodwill. And you’re not
playing around either. It’s actually happening! This is the result of
the gradual process of development of this emotion called

Now as to the “kindling”, this is where you use your power of
imagination and visualization together with your mental commentary.
Here you encourage the commentary, but you keep your commentary just
to a certain topic. You’re, as it were, “psyching yourself up” to
develop loving-kindness towards a small visual object, an imaginary
object. Don’t be afraid of imagination, because visualization and
imagination are tools of the mind that you can use to your benefit.

Keeping your eyes closed, imagine in front of you a small kitten or a
puppy or a baby or whatever you find it easy to generate
loving-kindness towards. (I personally like using a small kitten.)
Imagine it to be abandoned, hungry, afraid, and in your mind open your
heart to it. Take it up gently, in imaginary arms, and use inner
speech to say: “May you not feel so afraid. Be at peace. May you be
happy. I will look after you, be your friend and protector. I care for
you. Whatever you do, wherever you go, my heart will always welcome
you. I give you my love unconditionally, always.”

Say those words inside (or similar one’s that you make up) with full
meaning, even though it is to a being only in your imagination. Say
them many times until you feel the joy of Metta arise in you heart
like a golden glow. Stay with this exercise until the feeling of Metta
is strong and stable.

Metta Includes Compassion

Loving-kindness includes compassion, so you can use compassion to
generate Metta. You look at that imaginary being and focus on its
suffering, real or potential. You see the fact that it is subject to
pain — not just physical pain but also the mental pain of loneliness
and rejection. You see how very vulnerable it is. When I do this with
my little imaginary kitten I always think that there’s no one else in
the whole world to look after that small being. If I don’t look after
it, if I don’t take it in, I just imagine what sort of death that
little being is going to have — cold, rejected, hungry, thirsty and
sick. When I start to see the suffering (the dukkha), in that being
and how it is so vulnerable to pain, then straight away it encourages
compassion in me towards it. I want to protect and care for it.

As soon as that compassion, that sense of looking after the little
being comes up, it’s very easy at the same time to have
loving-kindness, (which is basically goodwill). Compassion is goodwill
towards someone who’s suffering. In this instance it’s goodwill to
ease the suffering of that imaginary being, and if its not suffering,
to make its happiness even more delightful. I deliberately generate
feelings of goodwill, of kindness, of compassion and of care.

All of these words are centering in on this concept of
“loving-kindness”, and I enter into a commentary with myself at this
time, just imagining what might happen to that being, imagining
looking after it, saying words of kindness, of protection. I do
imaginary exercises like getting eye contact with that little being.
When you can actually contact the imaginary being’s eyes it becomes
very emotional. Then I just keep on developing those images. I
continue that commentary until such time that the loving-kindness
towards that imaginary being is really, really strong.

You will find — at least I find anyway — that it’s so much easier to
light a fire of loving-kindness on such easy kindling. First of all,
my imaginary kitten is a lovely furry animal. It’s imaginary, so I can
make it whatever I want. It’s young. If it were actually real even
little kittens can sometimes be pests. But if it’s imaginary you’ve
got full control over it to make it as furry, or as soft as you like.
It purrs at the right time, and it doesn’t poo on your lap. So you can
do everything you want, just to make it a very nice little being. It’s
imaginary. You’ve got control over it.

Choose An Object You Can Relate To

One person I know didn’t have much empathy towards little animals, nor
did she like children. What she did was very innovative. She’d just
been planting some small flowers in some pots in her house; so she
just imagined a small plant in the earth. Just like the little kitten
or the puppy, the plant is also a being that needs care and
protection. She put all her motherly instincts, which she didn’t
really have towards children, towards that little plant, nurturing it
and just imagining it growing.

When it was a young seedling, it was just so tender and so easily hurt
and broken. It had a long way to go before it was a full fledged
flower. She imagined herself nurturing it, protecting it, loving it,
caring for it until such time that the little flower burst forth and
repaid her kindness with this beautiful smile of a flower in bloom.
She really “got off” on that. That was for her the first time that
meditation actually seemed to work. It was the first time she wasn’t
waiting for me to ring the bell. So this is another way of developing
loving-kindness, instead of towards an animal or a human being,
towards even a plant. And you can do that.

The point is, as long as you are nurturing this emotion and making it
grow, you’re allowed to use your commentary, and it’s good to use it
at this point to keep the fire burning. When you put a match to a
piece of paper, you’ve got to blow; you’ve got to fan. You’ve got to
keep it going.

Sometimes you need two or three matches to get it alight. You work
until the fire is going, and once loving-kindness is going, always
remember to experience the warmth from time to time. So you’re working
to get the fire going, but you’re also pausing now and again, to
experience the result of your work. And as you see the result of your
work, it gives you encouragement.

So you’re just using this imaginary “kindling” as a means to develop
loving-kindness, to get it started. As you go along, quite naturally
you’ll be aware of the feel of loving-kindness. When the flame starts
to take and there’s a fire starting, you can feel its warmth.
Loving-kindness when it gets started is a very pleasurable emotion.
Once you start to feel its warmth, then you really get into it.

How Metta Grows and Expands its Horizons

Now let go of the imaginary being, and imagine in its place a real
person, someone very close to you emotionally, your best friend maybe.
Choose someone to whom you also find it easy to generate and maintain
loving-kindness towards. With inner speech say to them: “May you live
in happiness. I sincerely wish you joy. I give you my love, without
discrimination. You will always have a place in my heart. I truly care
for you.” — or similar words of your own design. Use whatever arouses
the warm glow of Metta in you heart. Stay with this person. Imagine
they are right before you until the Metta glows bright and constant
around them.

When the Metta glows bright and constant, let go of the image of that
person. Substitute another close acquaintance, creating the feeling of
Metta around them using your inner speech in the same way: “May you
live in happiness…”

Next substitute a whole group of people, perhaps all of the people who
are in the house you are in. Develop the caring glow of Metta around
them, all in the same way. “May you all be happy and well…”

A Lotus of Love in Our Hearts

See if you can imagine Metta to be a golden radiance coming from a
beautiful white lotus flower in the middle of your heart. Allow that
radiance of loving-kindness to expand in all directions, embracing
more and more living beings, until it becomes boundless, filling up
all that you can imagine. “May all living beings, near or far, great
or small, be happy and at peace…” Bathe the whole universe in the
warmth of the golden light of loving-kindness. Stay there for a while.

Now imagine yourself, as if looking in a mirror at yourself. Say with
your inner speech, with full sincerity:

   “I wish me well. I now give myself the gift of happiness. Too long
the door to my heart has been closed to me; now I open it. No matter
what I have done, or will ever do, the door to my own love and respect
is always open to me. I forgive myself unreservedly. Come home. I now
give myself that love which does not judge. I care for this vulnerable
being called ‘me’. I embrace all of me with the loving-kindness of

Invent your own words here to let the warmth of loving-kindness sink
deep inside you, to that part which is most frightened. Let it melt
all resistance until you are one with Metta, non-limiting
loving-kindness, like a mother to her child.

When you feel it is time to conclude, pause for a minute or two to
reflect on how you feel inside. Notice the effect that this meditation
has had on you. Metta meditation can produce heavenly bliss. Now
imagine that golden glow of Metta one more time, originating from the
beautiful white lotus in your heart. Gently draw that golden light
back into the lotus, leaving the warmth outside. When the glow is a
tiny ball of intense light in the center of the lotus, gently close
the petals of the lotus, guarding the seed of Metta within your heart,
ready to be released again in your next Metta meditation. Open your
eyes and get up slowly.


Now to recapitulate what we’ve covered so far: when you practice the
above method of Metta meditation, it is helpful to use easy objects at
the beginning. Again Metta meditation is like lighting a fire. You
start by using some paper and kindling which easily takes the flame.
Once that is alight, you put on some thicker sticks, and when these
are burning well, you add some bigger pieces of wood. Eventually, once
the fire is established, you can put on the big pieces of fuel.

When the fire is roaring you can even put on a big, wet and sappy log,
and there is enough heat for that to catch light and burn too. In this
simile, the “big, wet and sappy log” stands for your “enemy,” someone
you find it especially hard to forgive and be kind to. This enemy is
often yourself. Once Metta has been established on the easy objects,
though, you will be surprised at how even the “enemy” can “take the
flame” of Metta. You find, in this way, that you can actually love
your enemy.

article from Metta Refuge

I Have Arrived, I Am Home – Metta Teachings

Youtube – Deva and Miten singing In The Light Of Love.

A favourite you tube from the past.


“You should go back to your feelings and make peace with them and embrace them, even unpleasant feelings and unpleasant emotions. And if you deny that home, you will be a wanderer all your life. Your home is your perceptions, your mental formations, your consciousness, they are part of your home within.That is the reason why you try and run away from your home. Consumption is what you use in order to forget your home.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh


Last week was  spent in my collecting memorabilia,  (‘things’) together and placing them all in the garage. The memorabilia, in this case, are the many items, ornaments, wall-hangings, paintings, brass Buddhas, shawls and other things I’d bought during my visits to India.  I came to the decision, sometime this winter, that everything must go…. ‘I’ll have a garage sale and sell them all.’  I’d thought, during the dark winter nights.  I’d  finally reached a firm decision about the garage sale, sometime after Christmas. It had taken several years to arrive at this monumental decision of wanting to let  go of  my things. However, once this decision had been  reached, I felt  freer somehow.  Do I feel sentimental about my “things?” – actually, no I don’t. Not only my Indian items but much of my English China too was for the chop. A collection of china dolls and other ornaments will go to my daughter, the rest of my nik-naks, books etc. will all go to the charity shops.

My memorabilia, my things, were part of my home and gave me a sense of who I am. (I thought.) Now, I don’t think of them as being part of me. I don’t want “things”, I only want to live simply.  A life that does not demand that I spend time cleaning and taking care of things that really do not belong to this present moment.

The problem with acquiring things is that they become burdensome after a while. They need attention. They require a place in the house to be looked at, to be appreciated. We buy things to give us pleasure but the pleasure is not always lasting. The house, over time, becomes a museum.

I only wish I’d had this wisdom years ago before I began acquiring things. Pretty as  ‘things’ are, they don’t make us happy. In my case, it was only after several moves and all the packing and storing that “things” require, I realised that my acquisitions took up a lot of my time and hoarding them, cost money. I could have had a better home by living with less.  Giving up the acquisitions of youth and moving on is a good step. It’s one that  helps break with the past and moves me consciously onward  to a more unfettered future. I can grow old not having to worry about my daughter having to take care of a lifetime of acquisitions later on.

I want to share with you some of the wisdom about living simply from Thich Nhat Hanh, in an interview with  Parabola Magazine several years ago. Here is an excerpt.

“At Plum Village the monastics have three changes of clothing, an eating bowl, and a little pocket money – that is all their belongings. You said that too many comforts can be a danger to remaining mindful. In our Western world, and in other parts of the world as well, people seem to believe that by acquiring more comforts, they will have happier homes. Simplicity would also seem to be an important ingredient toward happiness in the home.

We chop carrots mindfully. We brush our teeth mindfully. We become good friends with the self.

Each time our fears arise, we welcome them. We welcome all of our feelings and emotions, happy, sad, fearful. We embrace them as a mother embraces a crying child. We embrace our fears, we calm them and recognise them. We find peace and happiness within our selves. We let go of who we should be or who we would want anyone else to be. It is a slow process.

Only when we are friends with our selves, all of our selves, can we then take care and love another. And to love another takes deep looking, deep caring, deep listening. It takes time. A home is not made of acquisitions. It is made of attention and love.”

Metta Or Loveliness – Metta Teachings

Metta embraces all beings and all conditions, without exception.

I have posted this you tube seveal times before, having enjoyed the chant. This is a newer you tube  but the  Metta chant is once again by Emee Ooi.

Metta, which can be translated from Pali as ‘love’ or ‘loveliness’ is the true nature of metta. Everything in the world can blossom and grow with the power of metta. When we look deep into our hearts and find our own  ‘metta,’ we can then open our hearts to all.  Metta is the first of the brahma-viharas, the seat of the heavenly abodes. The others are compassion, sympathetic joy or gladness and equanimity – all of these emotions steam from metta.

Metta refers to a strength of heart that can stay steady in the face of pleasant and unpleasant circumstances. Sometimes we may not feel warm-hearted, yet with deep commitment to no hatred and dedication to care for all beings we express loving kindness and the intention of good will in challenging circumstances.

What is the purpose of metta practice?

The Buddha first taught loving kindness to a small number of monks who were practising meditation  in a thick forest haunted by tree spirits. The monks were terrified of spirits and wanted to go somewhere else, but the Buddha  told them to stay, with instructions to cultivate metta. As the monks became skilled in metta, the tree spirits stopped their harassment  of the monks and began to appreciate their presence. They went so far as to serve the monks during their retreat. The Buddha had already told them  that he would protect them from all harm and he had. What actually happened, was the loving energy that vibrated from the meditating monks, had good results on the trees spirits, who were lifted by the beauty of the peacefulness.  The Buddha’s ministry continued with excellent results in metta.  He taught metta to a wide variety of students and in a number of distinct situations. He taught metta as a method for gladdening the mind, as a way of strengthening concentration, as an offering of generosity, as a way of meeting both verbal and physical abuse, as a way of overcoming fear and as a way of living in concord in community. Metta is a heartful practice that serves profound purposes.

Tibetan hanging painting symbolising a state of exalted consciousness, surrounded by subsidiary states.

(c.1800 Gouache on cloth.)

The bud

stands for all things,

even those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on the brow

of the flower,

and retell it in words and in touch,

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.

–Galway Kinnell


I have to thank Sharon Salzberg for this poem. It appears in her book ‘Loving Kindness’

Spiritual Experiences – Inspirational Quotations


WHAT ARE ‘innerviews’ or religious experiences? From what I gather there are as many different types of innerviews as there are people. Religious experiences are as old as mankind. The bible tells us of visions, revelations, dreams and other divine experiences, in which they have happened to the prophets. Moses for example, was looking after a flock of sheep when be noticed a bush on fire, but not burning.   Suddenly a voice spoke to Moses, telling him to take off his shoes because he was standing on Holy ground. Then God revealed himself to Moses as “I am who I am”. The Buddha, after much searching came to enlightenment during three nights of  contemplation. He saw his previous lives pass before him and had revealed to him the holy truths; the knowledge of suffering and the removal of suffering was also revealed to him. Jesus Christ was baptised in the river Jordan when suddenly a voice from above proclaimed, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with whom I am well pleased”.

Many Christian Saints have written down their religious experiences. Julian of Norwich, wrote with insight and vision of her religious experiences. This makes her a favourite today. Her expression “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”  is now a beloved phrase. In Lourdes, Bernadette Soubirous had an experience in which the Virgin Mary, revealed herself as ‘The Immaculate Conception,’ and promised Bernadette happiness in ‘the next world’. Bernadette, was to receive more messages from the apparition; one led to the miraculous discovery of water, and another, for a chapel to be built in the Grotto. Bernadette’s experiences were recorded and people from all over the world came to the small grotto in Lourdes, for healing. Today, it is a pilgrimage centre for Christians.

However, spiritual experiences are not exclusive to the prophets, saints, mystics or even the good. Religious experiences happen in all cultures and in all religions. Prophets, tell us time and again, to treasure our inner voice. ‘Innerviews are a spontaneous gifts of grace from the divine to his beloved children. We have chosen a few recorded innerviews or experiences, which we hope will inspire and delight the reader.Here they are:



“A few years ago, I was feeling rather low and depressed. My life seemed to be falling to pieces around me. I was laying on my bed trying to make sense of it all, when suddenly I felt a light all around me. The next thing I was aware of, was being taken upward towards something of intense brightness. From the brightness, there appeared a figure and a voice said, “Go in peace and everything will be shown unto you.”
From that day forward, I have not worried over difficulties. I know I am guided and protected. I believe I always will be.”



NECTAR OF THE GODS -Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram – 1991

“During a lengthy stay in Sai Baba’s ashram in 1991, I devoted extensive time to meditation. I rose  at dawn to attend morning chants  in the Mandir. (Temple).  Afterwards, I would join the lines for darshan and remain in the Mandir compound until after bhajans. My morning austerities would end with a steep climb up the hill leading to the meditation tree. There, I would sit for around 15 minutes enjoying the peace and the gentle cooling breeze. This routine lasted for weeks. I never felt tired or hungry. On the contrary I felt elated. The elation increased as the weeks passed by, my often nervous nature disappeared and for the rest of my trip, I became utterly at peace with myself and others.

Towards the end of my visit, I  sat for some time under the meditation tree. On one particular morning,  I heard an inner voice say:  “Stay always sweet – remember sweetness is the nectar of the Gods.”I am sure it was not my imagination playing tricks, because the phrase ‘nectar of the Gods,’ was unknown to me.”

– family member


ALL WILL BE WELL Heidelberg, Germany, 1973

“At birth, my daughter was two months premature. The doctors had only let me see her for a few seconds before she was rushed off to intensive care and placed in an incubator. The doctors told me that her chances for survival, were not good. I was given a room by myself to recover from the shock of her birth. The little room was dark, dingy and cold. I remember feeling incredibly lonely and afraid. Suddenly, the room became filled with a presence. It was not a single presence but many. I don’t know how to describe accurately what actually happened – but the presence seemed to be  sending me waves of love and peace. I fell asleep within seconds. I knew I was being looked after and everything would be well. It was!”

-friend’s experience


“For many years I kept African Violets. They were my favourite house plants. One day, I was admiring one that had made a remarkable recovery from over watering.Mentally, I began to talk to it. Suddenly, I became aware of a tremendous feeling of love flowing from the plant to me! In fact, I felt that I became the plant, and it became me and that we both were one with the universe! It was a beautiful feeling. I suppose I can only describe it as a deep peace. The feeling only lasted for a few seconds, but was like nothing else I have ever experienced.”

-Meg Maxwell and Verena Tschudin from “Seeing The Invisible” *

Meg Maxwell and Verena Tscgydin have written an excellent book on the subject of religious experiences. The book title is ‘Seeing The Invisible’ and is available in the New Age section of any large book sellers. The sale proceeds of the book go to the Alister Hardy Research Centre, which has in it’s archives, more than 5,000 personal letters, collected over 20 years.

Sai Baba taught This Way – Early Devotees

This is an old article from ” Man Of Miracles” but I feel it is an important one. I have republished it here for those people who wish to re-read the interesting lessons revealed.



Baba does not teach that the only way to reach this spiritual goal is to go away and live in caves, forest hermitages or walled-in monasteries. It is right for the majority of us to live the ordinary life of the world, but we must not become bond slaves to the world’s allurements. A boat, he says, is meant to go into water, but the water must not get into the boat. In the same way we are meant to be in the world, but the world must not get into us. He adds another illustration: “Man must grasp God with the right hand and the world with the left. Gradually the left will lose its hold. Do not worry about this; it has to be so; that’s maybe why the hand is called ‘left’ – the world will be left behind. But the right hand must not loosen its grip. Being called ‘right’, it is right for it to grip right and hold on.”

How to do this? We must realise that the great drama of this world in which we are now playing a part is no more than a passing show. We must not identify ourselves with the drama, or become attached to its vestures and “properties” which we will soon be leaving behind anyway. In other words we must learn to discriminate between the permanent and the transitory, the substance and the shadow.

The shadow is the great illusion that we are our bodies and that the physical world around us is the ultimate and only reality. The way to correct that error is to keep our thoughts and aspirations towards God, our faces towards the divine light. Baba gives this analogy: “Move forward towards the light and the shadow falls behind, but if you move away from the light, you have to follow your own shadow. Go every moment one step nearer to the Lord and then the great illusion, the shadow, will fall back and will not delude you at all.”

Actually, what we all seek is happiness, but through the deluding shadow of our own ignorance, we seek it in the wrong places. “Once you turn towards the path of worldly happiness,” says Baba, “you will be led on and on to greater and greater discontent, competition, pride, jealousy. Just stop for a moment and examine your own experience. Are you happier when you grow richer, do you find more peace when your wants are satisfied? You will yourself be witness to the truth that an improved standard of living is no guarantee of happiness.”

When we seek happiness through the pleasures of this world, we always find as much pain as pleasure, as much sorrow as joy. The pairs of opposites, the black and white twins, are ever near to each other. But let them come; the pleasures and the pains, the joys and the sorrows, they are part of the divine Leela or play. Beyond them, and in spite of them, we will find a great peace and abiding joy once we turn our faces towards the light and understand that we are a part of the divine substance, the Atma, and that our real existence lies beyond this shadow-show on the space-time stage.

But is there any special guidance and yogic training that will help men break the grip of the world’s allurements; help them make that difficult about-turn from the tinsel glitter to the greater light? Baba often discourses on the three classical yoga pathways to enlightenment. He points out that all of these – karma (action), jnana (knowledge) and bhakti (devotion) – must be used. They are three lanes on the one great highway to God.

Baba says: “Base your action on knowledge, the knowledge that all is one. Let the action be suffused with bhakti; that is to say, humility, love, mercy and non-violence. Let bhakti be filled with knowledge, otherwise it will be as light as a balloon which drifts along any current of air, or gust of wind. Mere knowledge will make the heart dry; bhakti makes it soft with sympathy, and karma gives the hands something to do, something which will sanctify every one of the minutes that have fallen to your lot to live.”

I once heard Baba talk in other terms of these three lanes to Self-realisation. He called them “the three Ws”, work, worship and wisdom. Work (karma) alone is, he said, the slow passenger train, with long stops and some changes at junctions before you reach the end of the journey. But if you add worship (bhakti) to the work, you will have an express coach, and get to your destination more quickly and easily. Work and worship together will furthermore develop Wisdom, or knowledge of the real (jnana). With this you will then be on a non-stop express train right to your journey’s end. So worship while you work, and strive meanwhile for the self-knowledge that will help these two to bring the true wisdom.

Speaking of the spiritual books, he says, that they are only like maps and guide-books. “Scanning a map or turning over a guide-book will not give you the thrill of the actual visit, nor will it give you a fraction of the knowledge and joy of journey through that land.”

“In fact,” he says in another place, “you need not even read the scriptures, the Gita or the Upanishads. You will hear a Gita (divine song) specially designed for you, if only you call upon the Lord in your own heart. He is there, installed as your own charioteer.”

So the great scriptures of the world are guide-books, taking us as far but only as far, as the written word can. The real knowledge must come from our own inner experience. We must ourselves travel to that land that lies within. But it is very difficult, well-nigh impossible, to find one’s own way through the forests, though life’s dense jungle encircling that divine land. So it is by far the best to have a guide who has been there, who from personal experience knows the route. In other words, the surest, easiest, swiftest way to self-realisation is to have a spiritual guru – a Sadguru who is himself fully self-realised. If in ordinary life you have an experienced guide who is taking you through strange forests or deserts or the intricate ways of an unknown city, you don’t stop to argue and debate with him about the route. You put your trust in him and submit to his guidance. Likewise with your Sadguru; you must put yourself completely in his hands. Your own foolish ego and pride and self-will will only lead you astray. Your spiritual guide knows how to take you where you want to go, so the first thing you must learn is the difficult science of self-surrender.

Of course, you are greatly helped in this by the love you inevitably feel towards your Sadguru, who has your true welfare at heart, and helps you onwards, with no other motive than that of his selfless love. It is taught in the Hindu spiritual philosophy that there is no difference, between the Sadguru and God, and in this bhakti love the Sadguru expresses the love of God. “When God loves,” wrote St. Bernard of Clairvaux, “he wants nothing else than to be loved; for he loves for no other purpose than that he may be loved, knowing that those who love him are blessed by that love.” This selfless love of the Sadguru for the disciple, and the responsive, ever-growing love of the disciple for the Sadguru is the heart of the bhakti marga, the way of devotion.

So while the other yogic lanes must not be forgotten, and must be utilised as required, bhakti is pre-eminently the lane-way for the great journey. Or – to change the metaphor – though bhakti is not the only ingredient in the alchemical formula for transmuting man’s base elements to spiritual gold, it is the most important ingredient. Baba has often said that for this age the bhakti marga is the easiest and surest way to the goal, and many great teachers, from Lord Krishna onwards, have said exactly the same thing. Baba uses many stories and similes to point the value of the bhakti marga. Here is one:

A bhakta and a jnani (a follower of the jnana marga) were walking through a forest and became very thirsty. They came to a deep well with water far down and the sides overgrown with bush and briar. There was no way of obtaining water. The jnani overcame the difficulty by expending great psychic force to assume the form of a bird. Then he flew down through the bushes and briars, losing many feathers on the way. On the other hand, the bhakta yearned for the Lord’s grace and called fervently on his name. The Lord hearing and responding, the waters rose to the level of the bhakta who was thus able to slake his thirst completely.

Sometimes Baba likens God to a magnet and says, “Remember that the magnet cannot draw to itself a bit of iron that is rusty and covered with dust. You cannot be drawn by God when your mind is laden with the rust of material desires, and the dust of sensual craving sits heavily upon it.”

There is on record a story of how a rich man came to Sai Baba when he was in his Shirdi body and asked to be shown the way to God realisation. Baba first put the man through several tests, and then gave a dissertation on the qualifications necessary before any person can hope to realise God in his lifetime. A number of Baba’s disciples were there along with the rich man, listening to this dissertation.

I have at various times, and in various places, heard Satya Sai Baba give the same instructions concerning the self-disciplines, training and austerities necessary in order to make progress along the Sai way, which is, the bhakti way as taught by Sai Baba. So I will give the substance of that memorable Shirdi discourse here. In it Baba elaborated ten points.

  1. The aspirant must realise the absolute triviality and unimportance of the things of this world and of the next. He must in fact feel a disgust for the honours, emoluments and other fruits that his action will bring in both this world and also in the one to follow, for his aim is higher than that.
  2. He must fully realise that he is in bondage to the lower worlds and have an intense aspiration to get free. He must work earnestly and resolutely to that end, and care for nothing else.
  3. Our senses have been created with a tendency to move outwards and so Man always looks outside himself. But he who wants self-realisation, and the immortal life, must turn his gaze inwards, and look to his inner self.
  4. Unless a man has turned away from wrong-doing and composed himself so that his mind is at rest, he cannot gain self-realisation even though he has great knowledge.
  5. The candidate to the spiritual life must lead a life of truth, penance, insight and right conduct.
  6. Two classes of things constantly present themselves to man for acceptance – the good and the pleasant. A would-be disciple has to think and choose between them. The wise person chooses the good; the unwise, through greed and attachment, chooses the pleasant.
  7. The aspirant must control his mind and senses. If his mind is unrestrained and senses unmanageable, like wild and vicious horses drawing a chariot, he cannot reach his destination. But when the intellect and enlightened will exercise the control, like the hands of a good driver manipulating the reins (the mind) expertly to guide the horses (the senses) steadily along the right road, then the true self who is the master of the chariot reaches his journey’s end – the supreme abode of the all-pervading God. Sometimes, using another simile, Baba likens the mind to an electric cable. “Do not establish contact with the mind; that is as bad as contacting the cable! Watch it from a distance; then only can you derive bliss.” That is to say, becoming too closely identified and involved with the mind incapacitates one for seeing the real that lies beyond the mind.
  8. As well as controlling the mind a man must purify it. To do this he must discharge satisfactorily, and at the same time in a non-attached way, the duties of his station in life (his dharma). He must get rid of the great delusion: “I am the body”, or “I am the mind”; this will help him to lose egoism, get rid of avarice and purify the mind of all lower desires.
  9. The aspirant must have a guru. The knowledge of the self is so subtle that no one by his own effort could ever hope to attain it. The help of a great teacher, who has walked the path himself and attained self-realisation, is absolutely necessary. There is no difficulty about finding a guru; when the pupil has done all he can in self-enquiry and self-training the guru will come, either in the body or unseen. Baba sometimes says, “If necessary God himself will come down and be your guru.”
  10. Last, but not least – in fact the most important of all – is the Lord’s grace. When the pupil goes on trying and failing over and over again, when all seems quite hopeless, and he fully realises his own utter helplessness, then the divine grace comes, the light shines, the joy flows through him, the miraculous happens. He takes another step forward on the spiritual way.

After the Shirdi dissertation was over, Baba said to the rich man, “Well, sir, in your pocket there is God in the form of two hundred and fifty rupees; please take that out.” The man took out his bundle of currency notes and, counting the money, found to his great surprise that there were twenty-five notes of ten rupees each. He had not known previously the exact amount of money in his pocket and so, feeling Baba’s omniscience, he fell at the holy feet, and asked for blessings.

Baba said: “Roll up your bundle of God. Unless you completely get rid of greed you will never get the real God … The love of money is a deep whirlpool of pain, full of crocodiles in the form of conceit and jealousy … Greed and God are as poles apart; they are eternally opposed to each other … For a greedy man there is no peace, contentment, nor steadiness. If there is even a little trace of greed in the mind, all the spiritual endeavours are of no avail … The teachings of a guru are of no use to a man who is full of egoism, and who always thinks about the sense-objects. Purification of the mind is absolutely necessary; without it all spiritual endeavours are nothing but useless show and pomp. It is, therefore, better for one to take only what he can digest and assimilate. My treasury is full and I can give anyone that he wants but I have first to see whether he is qualified to receive what I give. If you listen to me carefully you will be certainly benefited “

Baba knew that the rich man to whom he spoke was mean and greedy. His preliminary tests had demonstrated this fact to all present. Having wealth is not in itself a crime. It is our attitude to the wealth that matters. If we are “poor in spirit”, that is, unattached to our possessions, understanding that they are held in trust from God and must be used properly, then it does not matter how much or how little we own.

This wealthy man, unlike the rich young man who came to Christ and asked for salvation, apparently did not go sorrowfully away. The chronicler states that, on the contrary, after getting Baba’s blessings, he left the place quite happy and contented. He like the others present, had enjoyed the spiritual feast served by Baba and perhaps he felt some hopes that the insights thus gained would eventually enable him to reduce the size of the camel of his attachments, so that it might pass through the eye of the spiritual needle.

Whether we seek self-realisation via the bhakti marga or one of the other lanes, it is necessary to purify the heart of greed, desire, hatred, falsehood and the other vices. One of the great purifiers, for those who can practise it, is that inward-looking self-raising exercise known as dhyana or meditation. As taught by Baba, meditation can be on God with form or the formless God – or on one leading to the other.”


Man Of Miracles – Howard Muffet