Last night's session was packed with so many aha moments, and I do hope some of the participants will capture these moments for posterity.
I will keep my comments brief this time. I liked how Neil came up with the three Ps - Presence, Perception and Patience. Also liked how Sarah talked about Proof - the proof that we are in this state of silence is whenever something goes wrong or confused us, our first response is silence.
Building on the first P - presence, Praveen gave me a ride last night. We chatted about different things, and when we were pulling in, there were just 2 minutes to spare before 7 PM. In that instant, Praveen tells me, "Somik, at least one of us should make it in time. Why don't you go while I park." My first reaction was to refuse and wait for Praveen, but I quickly realized that was a reaction from the ego, not wanting to appear "greedy." In Praveen's eyes were so much authenticity that it sparked my own authenticity - the only thing I could really do was to accept with gratitude. So, in I went and got a nice seat up front, while Praveen got to sit behind. That act of receiving generosity really opened my heart, and gave me more punch for the 3 minutes of gratitude at the end. It is remarkable how that one microsecond of authentic generosity created an indelible impression on me, and not the information exchange that had gone on for several minutes earlier.
Sarah's comment on proof connected with an experience earlier in the week, which was sort of miraculous. We were running out of hard disk space and Geet had asked me to clear some out so we could process some movies she was working on. As I hunted through the hard disk, the only one that I could process because of its small size was this video we had taken of a monk at Olema who is super cool. After processing and uploading it, went back to the hard disk to delete it, and then found that all this time, I had forgotten to empty the trash. Right after I did that, the mac showed we had more than enough space, and I didn't need to process the video. If the apparent hard-disk clog problem had not appeared, the videos of the monk would not be on youtube (the links are below) - in that sense, I felt this was a little technology-induced miracle.
Now getting on to the content of these videos, they blew my mind. I had heard the message so many times, but it was as if the presence with which these messages were uttered was captured, and that presence simply knocks me off my feet. The monk went on to answer three questions, the primary one being "What is Spirituality?" where he pointed out that it could not be defined, only experienced. It went far beyond the mind and the body, and no one can really prove that there is something beyond in an external sense. But, we have it from many sources that if our mind is stilled, we can experience this "joyful observer" state as this passage calls it. We can take that as a hypothesis, and as true scientists, test it on ourselves, by sitting and following all the requirements that go along with the hypothesis.
Now that, I am able to accept, without any reservations as an approach where there is no contradiction between science and spirituality; rather, science is the method of spirituality.
Someone observed that serving others always led to a better sit. I remembered a story from my first 10-day sit. A clock in the corridoor had fallen and smashed. One meditator stayed back, cleaned the glass so no one would be injured, and went very late to the sit, while the rest rushed in on time. This meditator, at the conclusion of the 10-day, remarked that that late sit was his deepest one in the entire 10-day period. There's some science to this service-sit relation.
Another participant brought up two opposite ends of the spectrum (sparked from the passage) - Shankara, a tremendous debater who established spiritual centers in the four corners of India in the 8th century (people have not agreed whether that is BCE or AD), and Ramana Maharishi, an early 20th century sage in South India who would not speak at all, but would beam out compassion to all who were in his presence to such a level that all questions were transcended :). They were at polar opposites and both served society in tremendous ways. Ramana was remarkable - had no PR or desire for it, and didn't even speak!! And yet, people from other countries managed to find him during the British Raj (no concept of the internet). The notion of communicating with silence was picked up by others.
Ripa shared a lovely story about sculptor dadaji - hopefully she will write more about it; and brought Jayeshbhai to the circle, and Pancho built on that. I look forward to reading Pancho's three points.
Chris had his own P's to share. The Proof is in the Pudding. And, the word Praxis - the practical application of a theory.
Nipun's story was too remarkable for me to share - he has promised to blog about it.
Finally, here are the three youtube videos I mentioned of the cool monk.
1) What is Spirituality?
2) Getting to Spirituality,