Meditation Matters

Welcome to “Meditation Matters” – a weekly journal and podcast published each Thursday, exploring the many worlds of meditation.

Meditation is the gateway to the infinite, the spiritual realm, the reality within us. Meditation can energise our life, transform our outlook, solve all our problems and unlock hidden capacities.

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Everyone can meditate: it’s simple, it’s natural, it’s powerful … and it’s free.

Meditation is self-discovery, self-awareness of all that lies within us beyond the thinking, rational mind. As we go deeper within, we discover that what lies within is also the key to understanding and appreciating all that lies around us as well.

We can read about meditation, talk about meditation, think about meditation – but for the many benefits of meditation, we have to PRACTISE … daily.

“Meditation Matters” will explore the theory and philosophy of meditation, but will mostly focus on the practice; the lived experience of meditation.

We’ll introduce simple, practical exercises that anyone can enjoy at home on a daily basis, and the steps to establish your daily meditation practice: how to incorporate meditation into your everyday life and make it a part of your very living – for meditation has to be a lived experience that flows into every heartbeat, every thought, every intention, every feeling, every breath of our life, to transform not only the way we see and feel, but our very way of being.

We’ll share our knowledge of meditation, our passion for meditation, our experience of meditation and our love of meditation.

“Meditation Matters” will explore all matters meditation: we’ll look at the challenges and obstacles facing someone starting a practice of meditation for the first time, and maintaining that practice. We’ll also explore the many benefits of meditation, and most importantly, delve into the infinite reasons why … Meditation Matters.

234: One Drop of Poison

One choir member out of tune can ruin an entire performance; one droplet of blood summonses frenzied sharks from afar; one momentary lapse yields a car crash; one stray thought shatters a lofty meditation; one bad choice can terminate one’s spiritual progress.
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233: Meditation for Protection

In the spiritual life, by far the greatest threats from which we need protection are within ourselves: our own thoughts, misconceptions, fears, doubts, anxieties, jealousies, suspicions, desires and distractions.
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232: b) Polarity, the Heart’s Blessing

If a person standing behind a pole, shows only their right hand and left foot from opposite sides of the pole, we clearly see that the hand and foot are different and separate objects. Yet remove the pole, and we see they are of one person. Our mind is that pole, predisposing us always to perceive separate and opposing parts, and never the whole.
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229: Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual Awakening
“Arise! Awake! – and stop not till the goal is reached.”
– Swami Vivekananda (after the Katha Upanishad)
As we progress along our spiritual journey, we each perceive our goal according to our background, spiritual practise and inner proclivity. While some seek liberation, others may aspire for enlightenment or only God-satisfaction.
Just as we must wake up in the morning before we can pursue our daily tasks and activities, common to most paths and traditions is the concept of spiritual awakening, as a necessary precursor to conscious growth and progress. While this awakening may be observed outwardly through a ritual initiation or baptism, the inner awakening arises from a stirring of the soul, whether induced by the inner touch of a spiritual Master or the fortuitous breath of grace.
As a single spark may start a monumental forest fire, or a tremor under the floor of a distant ocean results in a massive tsunami on another continent, so the daybreak of our inner awakening – though we are likely unconscious of it at the time – is the singular moment of destiny in our lives, leading inevitably and inexorably to the complete and radical transformation of our entire consciousness.
We are the same person, whether asleep or awake: only when awake, we are more conscious. Even so, while spiritually asleep amidst the wastelands of ignorance, delusions of desire and errors of ego, all our limitless capacities, soaring realisations and stupendous achievements lie coiled within us, dormant.
We imagine it is necessary first to awake before we arise. Yet Swami Vivekananda’s injunction is first arise, and then awake. Before thinking of enlightenment, liberation or realisation, we must first arise, take up our action stations of prayer, invocation, meditation and self-giving service: only then awakening dawns, and our inevitable God-realisation – petal by petal – blossoms.
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228: Spiritual Writings (2)

Spiritual writings can be read again and again. As we absorb their wisdom, our inner understanding blossoms like a flower and we become more receptive to ever-deeper insights. The same book, poem or passage can be read a hundred times over the course of years, each repetition yielding a new and deeper treasure of beauty, truth and delight.
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227: Spiritual Writings (1)

To meditate, we need inspiration and aspiration. One of the easiest, most reliable and rewarding ways to awaken, nurture and intensify both our inspiration and aspiration, is to read spiritual writings, especially the works of spiritual Masters.
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226: The 27th of August

Today – the 27th of August – is Sri Chinmoy’s birthday.

A birthday is an occasion to appreciate and celebrate a person’s goodness, achievements and inspiration: to savour the flowers, fruits and bounty of their life-tree.
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225: The Colour of Jesus’ Beard

There is a passage in the scriptures in which one of the Prophets foretold: “He shall roar with a flaming mane”. While there is some conjecture surrounding the exact word for ‘mane’ in the original ancient Greek manuscript, scholars concur this is clear proof, offered hundreds of years before His birth, that Jesus’ hair and beard were distinctively flame-red…
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224: Rain

Imagine a tropical rainforest: green, dense, buzzing, pulsing, steaming and teeming with infinite intricate, parallel, interconnected leapings and twinings of one magnificent, multi-munificent life-drama.
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223: Floating in Love, Above

This is a creative visualisation exercise. Sit comfortably, with your spine straight. Focus on your breath for a while, bringing the flow under your conscious and careful control. Either close, or let your eyes rest on something simple, pure, beautiful and inspiring.
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221: The Dangerous Allure of Criticism

Our world is a projection and reflection of our own consciousness. When we are sad, the world is ugly; when we are happy, the world is beautiful. So to see and feel peace, love and joy around us, we must first find peace, love and joy in our own hearts.
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220: A Salt Doll Went to Fathom the Ocean

A community of salt dolls lived nearby the sea. They all felt an affinity with the sea; they loved being close to the sea; all their stories and fables revolved around the sea; they would keep their windows open at night so they could fall asleep to the comforting roar of the sea and most nights they even dreamed of the sea.
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219: Knowing the One

Truth is one. Light is one. Love is one.

You are one. I am one. We are all one.

Our world is one. Our universe is one. God is one.

All that is outside and around me, is within me.
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218: Always Face Your Goal

There is a story from the Puranas, of a king who was especially fond of his pet deer. Always he thought of this deer, to such an extent that in his next lifetime, he was born as a deer.
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215: Learn Like a Baby

Babies are learning at every moment. Without using the mind. When it comes to spiritual awareness, if we are sincere, we must accept we are babies. We know next to nothing. This is our perfect starting point.Read and listen more

214: Integral Wellbeing (2)

The health, wellbeing and fitness of each part of our being – body, vital, mind, heart and soul – is crucial for its own sake, as well as for each other part and for our integral wellbeing.
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213: Integral Wellbeing (1)

The health of our various organs – heart, lungs, liver, skin – are all affected by each other, for they are interdependent parts of one whole. This same principle applies to the various sheaths of our consciousness – body, vital, mind, heart and soul ¬– which comprise our whole being. The health, vitality and fulfilment of each are essential for the wellbeing of the others, and of the whole.
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210: Never Flatten the Curve

The muscles of the fittest athlete will atrophy if not exercised. Daily-polished woodwork shines: left alone for a week, its sheen surrenders to dust. If we neglect our daily meditation, we can lose all the hard-earned benefits of years of spiritual discipline.
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207: Be Spiritually Contagious

Spiritual qualities are more contagious than any virus. Peace, light, love and joy are not constricted by social distancing; washing our hands does not remove them; they can spread from one to millions in a heartbeat, they easily span the globe in an instant.
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206: Always Test Positive

In our peculiar phraseology, in our upside-down world so enthralled with negativity, it is an apt irony that to “test positive” is a most feared outcome with all manner of negative repercussions, while to “test negative” is positively desirable and cause for celebration.
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204: Imagine Your Highest

Everything that exists, started in the realm of imagination. The words you are reading were imagined, then written down; the chair you are sitting on was imagined, then designed and produced; you imagined yourself eating breakfast this morning, then it happened. Imagination paves the way and sets up reality.
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203: The Pond of Milk

In our private meditation at home as well as group meditations, it is so easy to feel it will be OK if I offer a token, dilute effort today in lieu of my A-game. No-one will know and no-one will mind…
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202: Self-Giving (2)

Self-giving is the meeting place of meditation and action, where our inner and our outer life converge. Inner and outer self-giving go together, grow together and flow together. Self-giving in meditation is the best training for action: self-giving in action is the best training for meditation.
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200: Within

All our outer thoughts, intentions, actions, reactions, experiences and achievements arise from within. Our entire outer lives are patterned within. The wheel of karma turns from within. Our will is forged, our destiny is mapped, our future sculpted, within.
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199: Your Cone of Silence

“The cone of silence” is a figure of speech, denoting an imaginary area, pact or bond wherein certain knowledge is protected, never revealed, from which secrets cannot escape. For this exercise, let’s imagine this cone of silence is absolutely real – yet instead of keeping secrets inside, our cone keeps everything out.
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197: Silence (2)

Silence is the empty space between thoughts, desires and sensations. As thoughts and desires gradually subside, these spaces expand and blossom into fullness.
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196: Silence (1)

When we speak of silence in meditation, we speak not of outer silence, the absence of sound; but the inner silence, the absence of thought and desire. This inner silence is the womb and cradle of our meditation and all spiritual progress.
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195: Unlearning

We are accustomed to the notion that progress is the outcome of learning. In our outer lives, learning and education are fundamental values, cherished personal goals, pillars of civilisation, bedrock of our society, culture and economy.
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193: My Mind – Pure or Sewer?

If someone comes to the door of my home, I choose whether or not to welcome them: if they are a friend, I may invite them in; if a stranger, especially if dirty, crazy or aggressive, I refuse them entry.
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192: The Power of Thoughts (3)

Imagine the whole stream of thoughts is being projected onto a screen and you are merely an observer, watching them pass by. They are not yours, and you are not theirs. Feel your own existence, happy and complete, separate and independent from what is happening on the screen.
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191: The Power of Thoughts (2)

To control our thoughts we first must accept responsibility for our thoughts. Many of us feel that thoughts just appear from nowhere and are not our responsibility – yet even if a thought does appear from nowhere, it is still our choice whether to accept or reject each thought. If we do not take responsibility for our thoughts, we are fated to remain merely their puppet and parrot.
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190: The Power of Thoughts (1)

Most of us do not meditate in order simply to have an enjoyable experience during meditation: we meditate to find and cultivate peace, happiness, love, patience, tolerance, compassion, wisdom and creativity that we might grow in these qualities and express them in our daily lives. We spend time in meditation in order to improve the quality of all the rest of our time we are not in meditation.
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189: The Past is Dust

What is dust? Useless, meaningless, annoying waste matter, discarded remnants from previously useful, meaningful things and events. What is dust good for? Nothing. What do we do with dust? Get rid of it.
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188: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is both a product of and prerequisite for fruitful meditation and spiritual progress.

Meditation opens and expands our hearts, as a slow-motion blossoming of a flower petal by petal. As our hearts expand, the quality of forgiveness grows naturally and spontaneously, without any conscious effort on our part, for forgiveness is inherent to the heart as fragrance to a flower.
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187: Group Meditation (4)

We may be inspired to attend a group meditation for what we will gain from the experience, yet just as significant is what we offer the group. Our very presence offers positive reinforcement and encouragement.
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186: Group Meditation (3)

As one candle can ignite many, so the presence of just one person meditating well, may inspire others to a wonderful meditation.

Some days we are up and some we are down. Sometimes we are the candle lighting many, other times we are in need of igniting. For both roles, the only essential need is our presence.
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185: Group Meditation (2)

The discipline of attending a meeting at a set time and place creates momentum, which is essential to our progress. It takes more effort to attend a session on the other side of town than simply meditating at home. Each time we make that effort we recommit to our purpose, we place more store in the value of our meditation and hence, the more likely we are to give our all to the meditation itself. The more we give, we more we invariably receive.
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184: Group Meditation (1)

Meditation is self-discovery. Hence the experience of meditation is always inner, and personal. Meditation itself is not a social activity. Nevertheless our inner experience, and our overall spiritual wellbeing, can benefit greatly from meditating with others who are following the same spiritual Path or have the same focus and goals.
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183: Patience

Patience is our goal in disguise. The more we develop patience, the closer our goal approaches. Surrender of our own timeline immediately hastens our progress, whereas impatience always slows us down or grinds us to a halt.
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181: Dry Spells (7) – A Spiritual Journal

On holidays we take photos of scenes and events we want to remember, and store these photos in albums. When the holiday is long over, looking through the photos we revive the memories, feelings and sensations of those scenes and events. The photos keep the memories of the holiday fresh and alive in our consciousness whenever we turn to them.
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180: Dry Spells (6) – Practise and Persist

If we could meditate well under all circumstances and conditions, then we wouldn’t need to meditate – we’d already be perfect! Once we are fully illumined, then meditation without effort is our natural and spontaneous state, our default setting. Until then, practise – and persistence – makes perfect.
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179: Dry Spells (5) – Most Delicious Food

We cannot eat most delicious food every day – yet we still have to eat every day to sustain ourselves on earth. Some days we may be fortunate to dine at the finest restaurant; while on others we have to subsist on dry crackers. If that’s all there is, we’ll eat those dry crackers and be sustained by them, and see what tomorrow brings.
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175: Dry Spells (1) – How to Respond

Every meditator endures dry spells.

Like writer’s block or an athlete’s form slump, these spells arrive without warning, with no apparent cause and no clear remedy. Like the weather, a dry spell might last a day, a week or months on end.
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173: Ready for Enlightenment

A spiritual Master lived in an ashram with his disciples. One disciple, who had been with the Guru for several years, was quite convinced that he was doing very well in his meditation, spiritual discipline and service to the community.
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171: Music and Meditation (15) – Sound and Silence

Music arises out of, and leads back to silence.Silence is the canvas on which music is painted, the stage on which music is performed, the backdrop against which music poses, the air which music breathes. Silence sends forth music as its emissary, to reveal its secrets – love, sweetness, joy, harmony, perfection. Silence is the sun’s power, music the moon-beauty.
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167: Music and Meditation (11) – Usha Bala Elo (a)

The dawn is one of nature’s most glorious mysteries and life’s most magical, auspicious moments. The transformation of night into day, darkness into light, despair into hope and promise, one state of being into its polar opposite, is at once exquisitely beautiful, thrillingly wondrous and utterly exhilarating.
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166: Music and Meditation (10) – Love as Song

Every spiritual quality can be felt, nurtured, enlarged and intensified by singing: sweetness, tenderness, sympathy, love, aspiration, longing, joy, ecstasy, courage, determination, devotion, valour, vigour, enthusiasm, self-offering – all respond to the right song as a sunflower to the sun.
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161: Music and Meditation (5) – Music as Spiritual Teaching

For a spiritual Master, music offers a vast realm of opportunity for spiritual teaching. Where lectures, discourses, questions and answers must navigate the perilous pathways of doubt, fear, prejudice and misunderstanding in the seeker’s mind, music has an access card directly to the listener’s heart and soul, carrying with it inspiration, aspiration and ever-unfolding realisation.
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160: Music and Meditation (4) – Angels of Peace

Peace is the most urgent, desperate need in the world – peace between nations; between religions, cultures and ideologies; peace within society; within classrooms, workplaces and organisations; peace in the family; above all peace within ourselves, between the various needs and demands of our own body, vital, mind, heart and soul.
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159: Music and Meditation (3) – Sri Chinmoy’s “Flute Music Meditation”

Music is imbued with consciousness. In spiritual music, the consciousness of both performer and listener are of utmost importance. Music composed and performed from a state of deep meditation will be saturated with a meditative consciousness the way fragrance pervades a rose garden in full bloom. The more open and aspiring the listener, the more of that consciousness can be received and assimilated.
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158: Music and Meditation (2) – Levels of Consciousness

Orpheus, the Sirens, the Magic Flute, the Pied Piper: myth and folklore abound with tales of music mesmerising and leading us to other realms – some good, some not so. Music seemingly has the power of a drug or talisman: it charms our mind into quietude, rouses our will to action, calls forth our emotions, touches our heart and might even reveal our soul.
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156: Not Mine, but Thine

If we are meditating, we acknowledge the existence of a higher force or consciousness within us. If a higher being or potential were not within us, meditation would be a pointless pursuit. We meditate to discover this deeper self, to access and utilise this greater power, to become this fuller reality.
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155: Spiritual Wisdom and Meditation

Sound cannot exist in a vacuum. It might be formulated, but cannot be heard. Atmosphere is needed to carry the vibrations or waves and in effect, give life to sound.

Imagine the full expressive range of a cello: rich, resonant, yearning, commanding, desolate, playful, soaring, sumptuous and satisfying. Now remove the body of the cello so only the strings, fingerboard and tailpiece remain, and imagine the same music being played – there is just a thin sound with no depth, warmth or soul.
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153: Eagerness (a) – Each Moment Your First

Eagerness is a universal currency of the inner realms: an executive force of love, commander of immediate action, impelling current of progress, dancing partner of newness and identical twin of delight.

Eagerness is always fresh and enlivening. Eagerness keeps us always positive, open and receptive. Eagerness is always creating, elevating, expanding and enlightening.
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152: Gratitude versus Aspiration

We are told that gratitude is a miracle, essential for fastest spiritual progress. Surely we shall be most grateful for what we have and what we are when we have achieved perfection, so the fullest expression of gratitude will blossom once we are perfect.

We are also told that aspiration is a spiritual miracle, indispensable for fastest spiritual progress. Aspiration is an intensified longing for as-yet unachieved perfection.
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151: Keinen Bequemen Stuhl

The source and only source of all peace, love, joy, wisdom, light, satisfaction and fulfilment is our soul. Our soul is more than ready and eager to offer all these qualities to us in infinite measure – as long as we show that we need them and value them. All happiness can be ours – for the asking.
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150: Freedom from Attachments

Persistent thoughts, desires and emotions are huge impediments to our progress in meditation, and we would like to be rid of them – but how?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we would have our attachments release us so we can finally enjoy peace and freedom, we must first release our attachments so they too can fly free.
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149: Your Visitor-Child

Right in front of you is the most beautiful child, more beautiful, more perfect than you have ever seen in this world or could ever have imagined.

This child is an emissary from a far-away realm and will be here on earth for just 15 minutes, in transit to another even further-away realm.
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148: The Eternal, Ever-New

Our minds are preoccupied with dividing, ordering, controlling and possessing our environment, including our own lives. The concept of time is a mental phenomenon: we focus much on the past and the future, to the detriment of our enjoyment of the present.

Through meditation we learn detachment from our minds’ preoccupations, including our obsession with past and future: as we enter deeper into our hearts, we become more centred in the moment, in the Eternal Now.
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147: The Eternal Beginner

In the outer world, at a certain point knowledge of a subject might be considered complete. Not so in the infinite spiritual realms, for here where all is ever growing and transcending, nothing can ever be complete.
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146: A New Goal, New Vocation, New “I”

Meditation redefines our very being.

There are many reasons for starting to meditate – seeking to reduce the stress in our lives, sharpen our concentration, improve our physical and mental health – yet all who continue with meditation, soon find that it beckons us far, far beyond anywhere we could possibly have hoped or imagined.
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145: Roots and Fruits

Our life-fruit and our soul-root need each other.

Roots are the source, fruits the goal. Roots represent raw materials, fruits the finished product. Roots are the inner world, fruits the outer world.
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142: An Empty Mind (2) – The Goal

If our daily meditation practise is an endless train of thoughts because we have surrendered to them as to an oncoming illness or to old age, then we might as well as be chatting or watching television. To compromise in this way is to accept weakness and admit defeat.

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141: An Empty Mind (1) – The Challenge

To constantly progress in meditation we must always strive for a silent, empty mind. Only in a thoughtless mind can we experience the true peace, beauty, vastness, clarity, light and joy of our inner being; otherwise though we may have glimpses of our deeper reality, we are selling ourselves short and will never realise our potential.

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140: Selfish and Selfless

In meditation I sit alone, avoiding others and eschewing all involvement and even thoughts of the outside world, my focus directed exclusively within myself with the avowed goal of my own self-improvement, personal benefit and greater happiness. Meditation would appear the epitome of an anti-social, selfish behaviour.

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139: The Frog in the Well

A little frog had lived his whole life at the bottom of a well. He knew no other environment and yet was content with his life. He had abundant food from the various insects that flew into the well and small water creatures that bred there, so in time he grew quite plump and fancied himself an authority on the world.

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138: Heart-Garden

Our spiritual heart is a vast, beautiful, wonderful, delightful, sun-flooded garden we can never tire of exploring and enjoying. In the heart-garden all are welcome and all find perfect happiness.

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137: Beyond Fear of Death (2) – The Soul-Bird

On a sunny day, if we build a mud hut and close in all the windows and the doors, then inside that hut it will be dark. Remove the walls and all is light. Fear is the darkness resulting from our mind-built walls of division and ego. As aspiration and meditation gradually dissolve these walls, the darkness of fear simply disappears.

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135: Time, Energy and Sleep

Energy comes in many forms: physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy, psychic energy. We derive energy from our food and drink, from air and water, from sunlight, colour, music, art and beauty, from action, interaction, inspiration, ideals and emotions. We also expend energy in many ways: physically, vitally, mentally and psychically.

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