Impromptu Awakening

This is the realization: You are dreaming, and the entire universe is your dream. Everyone else is just a character in your dream. You have made them up. You have conjured every last person and thing in the cosmos because, after all, you are dreaming it. You are alone. You have always been alone and always will be alone, because there cannot be anyone else. There is more to the […]

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Lucy Cornelssen


Are you happy? When you reply with the counter question “What is happiness?” that means that you have already observed how brittle, how transient and short-lived your so-called happiness is. But maybe what you have in mind is not happiness at all, but only pleasure? “Pleasure” means the fulfillment of some desire or the removal of something unpleasant. But experience teaches us that after one desire has been fulfilled, two

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Dag Hammarskjold


Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was unanimously elected Secretary-General of the United Nations from April 1953 until September 1961, when he met his death in a plane accident while on a peace mission in the Congo. He was born on July 29, 1905 in Jonkoping in south-central Sweden. After his death, the publication in 1963 of his “journal” entitled Markings revealed the inner man as few documents ever have. Hammarskjöld

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Bryon Katie

Meeting Byron Katie

I first met Byron Katie during 1996, in San Diego, California. My first impression was of her hands: they were beautiful, graceful and flowing. I immediately liked her. The next time I saw Katie was at a public meeting. During the talk, I had the remarkable experience of watching myself speak. It was as if I became her. I was sitting “here” watching me speaking “there.” I fell completely in

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Meeting Nisargadatta

I first came upon the teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj when I was a student in the Ashram of Da Free John. I was working as a medical practitioner in Lake County in Northern California, and Free John had an Ashram and a bookstore with an extraordinary collection of spiritual literature gathered from around the world. There was one copy (then a two-volume work) of Sri Nisargadatta’s I Am That.

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Dalia Lama

Meeting the Dalai Lama

My involvement with the Dalai Lama had begun in 1979, several months before His Holiness’s first U.S. visit, when a planner for the trip came through town to organize events. The planner was charming, European, and tired, and because this was to be the Dalai Lama’s first American tour, he wanted everything to be perfect. “Yes, I think this will do nicely,” he said, having examined our house, but with

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JC Amberchele

No Mindfulness

The past and future, you are told, are in your head, one as memory, and the other as imagination. But the present, because of the complicated biochemical processing of sense perceptions, which of course takes time, is already in the past by the time you experience it! You practice mindfulness. You have read the books and dabbled in the scriptures; you joined a vipassana group and practice insight meditation. Now

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Not In Prison

J. was a man of about sixty, gray haired with a gentle, open face. I stood up, shook hands, and sat down with him at the small square table. We exchanged some small talk to begin with but soon enough got on to what really interested us both—Who we really are. I asked how long he would be in prison. “Probably for the rest of my life,” he told me.

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Buddha Head


The very last writings of Thomas Merton were recorded in The Asian Journal. In this book Merton describes his visit in Sri Lanka to the great monastery at Polonnaruwa, which is nearly 2,000 years old. When you go to this place you’ll walk beneath huge ancient trees. Leaving your shoes on the stone path, you walk a long way under the trees, across a beautiful green grass carpet, and eventually

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Thomas Merton

Primacy of Love

Each spring, a Christian/Zen retreat is held at Gethsemani Abbey. Zen Master Dae Gak and Brother Anthony participate each year. These selections are from Br. Anthony’s talk at the 1997 retreat. I think Thomas Merton really saw that in turning to the east we stand to experience a great enrichment. In opening ourselves to other traditions, we see much more deeply into our own tradition. This deepening of one’s own

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Franklin Merrell-Wolff

Recognition Beyond Experience

In the past, two important Recognitions have come to me. First, nearly fourteen years ago, in a setting which it is not neces­sary to delineate, I suddenly recognized “I am Atman.” This effected important changes of outlook that persisted. Second, less than one year ago, while engaged in the public work mentioned above, and while deeply interested in a book giving a report of a living Indian Sage, I also

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Metta Zetty

Reflections on Reality

Reflections on Reality Reality flows through each and every one of us in a tidal wave of infinite expression. We often miss the miracle of this manifestation because we somehow expect “It” to be something other than who and what we already are. Reality is not an abstract, theoretical construct. It is nothing more or other than the totality of our experience within the Infinite present. Every experience we have

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Seeing God

“Since we are ‘not other’ than the Self, we are condemned to eternity.” The faculty of “seeing God in everything” can be independent of all intellectual analysis; it can be a grace, the modes of which imponderables are and which springs from a profound love of God. When we say “intellectual analysis,” we do not mean speculations in the void: the “categories” of which we have spoken are by no

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Arthur Osborne

Self and Ego

“When you feel this sense of being, this pure ‘I-am,’ you find that it does not fall into any category. It is neither yours nor is it not yours, it is neither divided from other people nor united with them; it just is. And it is pure, simple consciousness.” With practice, you can rest in Being, just as you now breathe or eat. And, as with breathing or eating, there

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Wei Wu Wei Robert Powell Douglas Harding


What do you have to do? Pack your bags, Go to the station without them, Catch the train, And leave your self behind. Quite so: the only practice—and once. In this rare picture is Wei Wu Wei, Robert Powell and Douglas Harding. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Wei Wu Wei (Terrance Gray) wrote a number of books and articles on the process of seeing who we really are.

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The Light That I Am

The dream analogy has always appealed to me as a meaningful explanation of this so-called “life” of mine. Of course, as far as pointing towards one’s true nature, there is nothing like actually pointing and looking, but the dream analogy confirms what I see when I See, and helps break the ties to deeply conditioned beliefs. It goes something like this: When I dream I experience a world that is

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Alan Watts

Spontaneous Occurrence

The biggest ego trip is getting rid of your ego, and of course the joke of it all is that your ego does not exist. In pursuing spiritual disciplines such as yoga, Zen, and also psychotherapy, there arises a difficulty. This difficulty lies in wanting to find a method whereby I can change my conscious­ness and improve myself. But the self that needs to be improved is the one that

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Steven Harrison

The Birth of the Self

“It is well to remember that the entire universe is composed of others, with one trifling exception.” —John Andrew Homes There did this sense of separation come from? How did we get ourselves into this predicament? Did we think ourselves here? As a child, a word or a concept is so novel that we play with it. We repeat the new word. We hear its sound, feel its quality, and

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The Gateless Gate

The Gate of the Eternal Present “Actually there is no real teaching at all for you to chew on or squat over. But not believing in yourself, you pick up your baggage and go around to other people’s houses looking for Zen, looking for Tao, looking for mysteries, look­ing for awakenings, looking for Buddhas, looking for masters, looking for teachers. You think this is searching for the ultimate and you

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The Pearl of Great Price

Deep down inside I am spirit. Deep down inside you are spirit. It is what and who we all really are, behind the masks we wear, beyond the roles we play. Spirit is indivisible—mysteriously, each of us is all of it. It is our native condition, what we have always been and always will be. We cannot do anything with this inner core of ourselves, cannot change it or bend

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The Sage of the Century

I am often asked, “If you were stranded on a desert island and had only one book, what would it be?”  The book you are now holding in your hands–Talks with Ramana Maharshi–isone of the two or three I always mention. And the Talks top the list in this regard: it is the living voice of the greatest sage of this century and, arguably, the greatest spiritual realization of this

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True Understanding

He sang with complete abandon, playing huge symbols and occasionally ringing a large bell mounted on the ceiling. Every day, as part of the daily routine, Nisargadatta Maharaj would play his part in keeping alive the spirit of his Guru’s teachings and the lineage from which they derive. More than just hymns of praise, these songs reflect the highest wisdom; they represent spontaneous outpourings from the hearts of sages past.

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Words of Peace

September 11, 2001 While assembling articles for this issue (Fall 2001), we began to receive several telephone calls, asking if there would be selections that addressed the September 11th events. Though we hadn’t thought of this, it began to feel like it would be a good idea. As more people called to request these articles, we decided to defer printing of the existing materials until a later date. This collection

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