Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook

Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook

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Overview

Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook by Ram Dass, Vincent Piazza

Find the practice that’s right for you with this exploration of the many paths of meditation—from mantra, prayer, singing, visualizations, and “just sitting” to movement meditations such as tai chi
 
“Everyone has experienced a moment of pure awareness. A moment without thinking ‘I am aware’ or ‘that is a tree.’ Such moments bring a sense of rightness, of clarity, of being at one. Such moments are the essence of meditation.”—Ram Dass
 
Ram Dass is an American psychologist and spiritual teacher who has studied and practiced meditation for many years. Here he shares his understanding and suggests how you can find methods suitable for you. He illuminates the stages and benefits of meditative practice, and provides wise and often humorous advice on overcoming difficulties along the way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553285727
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1990
Edition description: REV
Pages: 426
Sales rank: 117,611
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Born Richard Alpert, Ram Dass was given his Hindu name (meaning "Servant of God") by his Indian guru, Neem Karoli Baba. His personal search for fulfillment spans a broad spectrum, from psychedelic research at Harvard University to a diversity of spiritual practices, including various forms of yoga, Zen meditation, Buddhist Theraveda and Sufism.

Read an Excerpt

1
 
GETTING YOUR BEARINGS
 
 
The Flow
 
There have been moments in your life when you were pure awareness. No concepts, no thoughts like “I am aware” or “That is a tree” or “Now I am meditating.” Just pure awareness. Openness. A spacious quality in your existence. Perhaps it happened as you sat on a river bank and the sound of the river flowed through you. Or as you walked on the beach when the sound of the ocean washed away your thinking mind until all that remained was the walking, the feeling of your feet on the sand, the sound of the surf, the warmth of the sun on your head and shoulders, the breeze on your cheek, the sound of the seagull in the distance.
 
For that moment your image of yourself was lost in the gestalt, in the totality of the moment. You were not clinging to anything. You were not holding on to the experience. It was flowing—through you, around you, by you, in you. At that moment you were the experience. You were the flow. There was no demarcation between you-sun-ocean-sand. You had transcended the separation that thought creates. You were the moment in all its fullness.
 
Everyone has had such experiences. These moments are ones in which we have “lost ourselves,” or been “taken out of ourselves,” or “forgotten ourselves.” They are moments in flow.
 
It is in these moments of your life that there is no longer separation. There is peace, harmony, tranquillity, the joy of being part of the process. In these moments the universe appears fresh; it is seen through innocent eyes. It all begins anew.
 
The past has flown away.
The coming month and year do not exist;
Ours only is the present’s tiny point.
—Shabistari
 
The Secret Rose Garden of
Sa’d Ud Din
Mahmud Shabistari
 
We try so hard to overcome the separateness. More intimacy. More rubbing of bodies. More exchanging of ideas. But always it’s as if you are yelling out of your room and I am yelling out of mine. Even trying to get out of the room invests the room with a reality. Who am I? The room that the mind built.
 
We spend so much effort to get out of something that didn’t exist until we created it. Something that is gone in a moment. We’ve all had moments when there was no room. But we freaked. Or explained it away, ignored it, or let it pass by.
 
A moment. The moment of orgasm. The moment by the ocean when there is just the wave. The moment of being in love. The moment of crisis when we forget ourselves and do just what is needed.
 
We each come out again and again. We turn and look and realize we’re out—and panic. We run back in the room, close the door, panting heavily. Now I know where I am. I’m back home. Safe. No matter how squalid the room is, no matter how unmade the bed, no matter how many bugs are crawling around the kitchen. Safe.
 
These moments appear again and again in our lives. For many people it first comes as a glimpse into other states of consciousness brought about by emotional trauma, drugs, sex, nature, or a love affair. This glimpse reveals to the person that there is something more. That he or she isn’t exactly who he or she thought.
 
You may link these moments with the conditions out of which they arose. Perhaps it’s the moment of sexual orgasm when you transcend self-consciousness. Perhaps it’s a moment of trauma, of extreme danger when you “forget yourself.” Perhaps it’s when you are out in the woods away from people and you let down your defenses, loosen the boundaries of your self-consciousness. Perhaps when you are lazing by a stream. Perhaps when you are sitting quietly with friends you trust and love.
 
For surfers it is the moment when they come into equilibrium with the incredible force of the wave. For skiers it is when the balance is perfect. When our skills fit the demand perfectly, then there is no anxiety. Then we have proved ourselves. There is nothing left to do. In that moment our awareness expands.
 
These moments bring a sense of rightness, of total perfection, of being at-one-ment, of clarity, of feeling intimately involved with everything around you, of being free of the tension self-conscious thought brings. But you mistakenly identify the moment with the vehicle. You cling to these situations; you keep going back to them to recreate those moments. But you needn’t cling to the situations that have triggered them in the past. These moments of flow can happen anywhere, anytime. Throughout life, each of us has had many of these moments. They are ephemeral. But such moments are the essence of meditation.
 
What concerns us in this book are the practices, that increase these meditative moments in your life, until ultimately your entire life is meditation-in-action. Then all of your acts are part of the flow of the universe. Why meditate? To live in the moment. To dwell in the harmony of things. To awaken.
 
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
 
You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
 
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.
 
—Nadine Stair,
85 years old,
Louisville, Kentucky
 
Your ego is a set of thoughts that define your universe. It’s like a familiar room built of thoughts; you see the universe through its windows. You are secure in it, but to the extent that you are afraid to venture outside, it has become a prison. Your ego has you conned. You believe you need its specific thoughts to survive. The ego controls you through your fear of loss of identity. To give up these thoughts, it seems, would annihilate you, and so you cling to them.
 
There is an alternative. You needn’t destroy the ego to escape its tyranny. You can keep this familiar room to use as you wish, and you can be free to come and go. First you need to know that you are infinitely more than the ego room by which you define yourself. Once you know this, you have the power to change the ego from prison to home base.
 
All that we are is a result of what we have thought.
—The Dhammapada
 
The epitome of the human realm is to be stuck in a huge traffic jam of discursive thought.
—Chogyam Trungpa
The Myth of Freedom
 
Consider awakening on a usual morning. The alarm clock rings, you come out of sleep, focus enough to think “Alarm clock,” and reach over to turn it off. Your thoughts might go something like this:
 
“It’s time to get up. I have to go to the toilet. It’s warm in here. Do I smell coffee perking? I could still sleep for ten more minutes. Oh, I forgot to do the dishes last night. I need to go to the toilet. Gee, my mouth tastes awful. I could still sleep for ten more minutes. What was I dreaming about? Who was that person in my dream? Wonder if it’s warm outside. Boy, I’m hungry. What’s that sound in the other room? I really need to go to the toilet. God, I wish I could stay in bed all day.”
 
Thought after thought with the rapidity of a triphammer. Thoughts about what you hear, what you taste, what you smell, what you see, what you feel, what you remember, what you plan. On and on they go. A raging roaring river of thoughts pouring through you: “Think of me, think of me, think of me, me, me, me, me first, think of me.” And so it goes all day, until you go to sleep.
 
You are totally in the control of your senses and thoughts. The alarm sounds and captures your attention, draws your awareness to it. But “you” are not your ears hearing the clock. You are awareness attending to your ears hearing. It’s like when you’re reading something so absorbing that you fail to hear someone enter the room. The sound of their steps triggers the processes of hearing, yet you do not “hear.” For you are busy reading and thinking. Just as you are not your ears hearing, you are not your other senses either. You are not the eyes seeing, nose smelling, tongue tasting, or skin feeling. Only your thoughts are left. Here is where most people cannot escape. For they identify totally with their thoughts. They are unable to separate pure awareness from the thoughts that are its objects. Meditation allows you to break this identification between awareness and the objects of awareness. Your awareness is different from both your thoughts and your senses. You can be free to put your awareness where you will, instead of it being grabbed, pushed, and pulled by each sense impression and thought. Meditation frees your awareness.
 
A being whose awareness is totally free, who does not cling to anything, is liberated.
Wherever there is attachment
Association with it
Brings endless misery.
—Gampopa
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation
 

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Journey of Awakening 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a classic. It has been used for years by the Centers for Spiritual Living (f/k/a United Church of Religious Science) in their meditation courses. It neither needs, nor requires a review. The short answer is to just buy the book and read it. For those of you whom the 1960s were a blur, or weren't around back then, Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary were both Harvard professors LSD users, and widely lampooned in the media. Richard Alpert took the spiritual path which led him to India, his guru, and to become a teacher. His guru gave him the name Ram Dass. What validates him is his life's work, to get a quick idea of the depth of it, I would suggest buying, renting, or borrowing the movie Fierce Grace. I probably have already said too much. Namaste
Guest More than 1 year ago
a must read for the rookie or veteran....it's all here
Ohmega More than 1 year ago
This book does an excellent job of teaching meditation and explaining the process that goes into it. It's well-written and backed by the author's years of experience. My favorite part of this book is the fact that it doesn't lend itself to one faith or religion but blends all of them. It's truly a book for anyone who would like to learn about meditation regardless of personal affiliations or beliefs. The first half of the book explains the processes involved and the different methods while the second half lends itself to helping you find a local meditation circle or helpful groups. Overall, it's an excellent read for anyone and everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must for the beginning meditator. Ram Dass shares not only his wisdom and spiritual guidance in a clear, concise way, but does so with an earthy humour. His stories are wonderful and his instruction on meditation excellent.
JenxMJ More than 1 year ago
I liked the book so much that I bought 4 copies for friends at work and started a meditation club.
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