By Vivek Ragna Heffermehl
These excerpts from Jacqueline Maria Longstaff’s latest book, Kaleidoscope reiterate her teachings on being a witness to the dramas of the mind
The lightness of Jacqueline’s teaching still amazes me – the way she moves between playfulness and strictness, freedom and discipline. Her teaching is a total surrender to the here and now – an open hand – and at the same time has a sharp critical sense. She plays some music for us, reads a poem, and leads us into deep meditation, into the pure presence of the sky of our being. Each time I meet her, I feel I come closer to Truth.
Inspired by Jacqueline and by what she teaches about the heart and the deep treasure it contains, I bring my awareness there as often as possible in my daily meditation. “Truth lies deep within your heart and the heart can accept everything as it is,” she tells us.
She has an ashram, Singing Heart Ashram, in South India near the sacred hill of Arunachala, frequented by seekers from many parts of the world. And the challenges she faces are numerous. There is the organisation on so many levels, the bureaucracy, all the practical work which often doesn’t seem to get done properly and the nonstop stream of people asking for this and that. As I relate this information to my own life, I ask her, “Are you really able to stay in the heart with all of these disturbances?” With one hand, she seems to brush my question aside. “I stay nowhere,” she says simply.
Jacqueline has all I wish for, and all that is never expected from a guru. She is natural, approachable, and unspecial. Yet she shows me the way to freedom. Through her, I learn the difference between being identified with life’s drama and just allowing the roles that play through us to play through without identification. (Many roles play through her!)
She has just written her fifth book, Kaleidoscope. It consists mostly of questions Jacqueline has addressed during satsangs held around the world. Here are some excerpts from the book.
During this retreat you have talked about going beyond identities, but don’t we really need identities? Don’t we need to have some kind of personality?
Personality is not necessarily the same as identity. You do not need to identify with the personality that plays through you.
You said we should ask, “Who am I?” but I feel as if I have been asking this stupid question all of my life.
Yes, you probably have, but I believe you have been asking from the level of mind. You have listened to the mind talking to the mind – giving its comments, its judgments – but who you really are cannot be grasped by the mind. Have you noticed how people often nod their heads when they agree with someone. It is as if they are saying, “Yes, my mind agrees with your mind.” Nod, nod, nod. Perhaps we should have hats with bells on – like Little Noddy – to make us aware that we might just be playing the mind game – nod, nod, nod! It’s OK to nod sometimes but I have noticed that in satsang, people don’t seem to nod so much. If they agree they tend to stay still, silent – they seem to be agreeing from somewhere much deeper than the head. There seems to be a resonance with what is being spoken – a resonance that comes from a much deeper level.
When you ask from the level of mind the response you get will probably have much to do with your conditioning. So, a meditation retreat is an opportunity to ask, “Who am I,” from a deeper space – and an opportunity to have a response from a deeper space. It is an opportunity to know the truth of who we really are. So forget about the past – ask again from this new space that is opening up for you.
I feel my meditation is deepening but I am still aware of thoughts and feelings. They are still there. I experience the same old doubts and judgments – especially old feelings of not being good enough. These things still arise.
Of course, they do – they are a part of your repertoire. A useful thing to remember is not to put a label on anything that arises within. Just let things come and go. The fact that you sit here and talk about feelings of not being good enough shows that the mind is still involved in what arises. The mind labels, judges, compares – you know how it is. Freedom is just letting everything come and go without making stories out of these comings and goings. Then whatever arises does not really touch you. You don’t walk down the street commenting on everything you see – or do you?
No – usually not!
Then stop commenting on everything you meet in the inner world – it is just stuff.
I am quite new to all this but I feel I have an open mind. That is good, isn’t it?
It’s a very good start. You know, I once saw a car sticker in California that said, ‘Minds are like parachutes – they only function when they are open.’ So keep an open mind, and at the same time be aware that you can even be stuck in a so-called open mind, if you make too big a thing of it! You can end up creating a new identity – that of someone who is really open-minded. Crazy, isn’t it? So be willing to be really open-minded – so open minded that you are willing to let go of the mind. Open the mind so much that there are no boundaries – no edges. Then you fall over that edge that isn’t there and discover what’s beyond. OK?
Please say something about Arunachala. I have only been here a couple of days and am already feeling how powerful it is to be near this mountain.
Arunachala is actually sometimes called the heart of the world. But let’s start with the name, Arunachala, which means the unmovable – that which does not move and as such symbolises your true essence. People have often heard me say that anything that comes and goes is not who you are. Who you really are, your essence, is beyond any coming and going. It never changes. Just look at Arunachala standing there, totally present and untouched by the circus that goes on around it day and night! Look at what happens here at the time of the full moon – hundreds of thousands of people arriving in buses, walking around the mountain, then crowding into the buses again and off they go, leaving behind their garbage! And it seems Arunachala just stands there witnessing the whole show. So it is with the part of you that never moves. It is never really touched by the comings and goings of life’s dramas.
Arunachala is said to be the embodiment of Shiva and Shiva is a very powerful energy. It’s actually like the energy of the planet Pluto (in western astrology). It is called the destroyer and really the archetype of Shiva is the destroyer of ignorance, the destroyer of the illusion of who we think we are. So to come close to the energy of Arunachala Shiva, is a wonderful opportunity to let go of false identities – identities people build up and then imagine that this is who they really are. These false identities hide the truth of who we are.
Ramana Maharshi actually gave an important meditation technique to the world – a technique, which has flowered in the west. It is the technique of self-enquiry. It is simple yet also powerful and effective. It is a method of asking inside in deep meditation, asking for example, ‘Who Am I,’ and then just watching, knowing that any answer that arises cannot be who you really are. Any answer arising is part of the illusion. Even if the answer is something like, ‘I am the divine light, I am God, I am all that is…,’ you have to let go of it. I have heard people come up with such answers, but any label you can put on who you are, is not who you are. Who you are cannot be spoken, just as it is often said that the truth that can be spoken is not the Truth. In a meditation retreat, people have the opportunity to go beyond all these false identities and to glimpse who they really are. So to participate in a meditation retreat here at the ashram with Arunachala just in front of us is a powerful experience. The mountain will support you in your search.
Something else Ramana spoke about was the spiritual heart – slightly to the right of anahata (the heart charka). I have sometimes said that, symbolically, you could see the spiritual heart as a secret cave in the heart area. Remember Ramana spent 17 years in one of Arunachala’s caves. If you feel a connection with the mountain, take time to meditate on it with open eyes, breathe with Arunachala, and feel the area around your spiritual heart. Ask Arunachala to take you deeply within your secret cave.
Yes, it is a powerful place to be. Find your own way of being here with this amazing mountain and deepen your connection with Arunachala. Meditating on it with open eyes and feeling you are breathing with it is a fine technique.
|An energy meeting with Jacqueline in Sweden|
Do you really believe in astrology? I believe that as people grow in awareness they move beyond astrology and it no longer has any influence on them.
Astrology is not a belief system. I always tell people not to believe what I say but to feel what seems right and look deeply within themselves until they know. We have had enough belief systems on this planet! Often people are very surprised that I still do astrological readings but, as I have said many times, astrology can show you that the part playing through you is exactly as it should be. Then you can stop fighting with it. People say they long to find out who they are but this is difficult as long as they are trying to be someone else! Much energy can go into trying to change aspects of the dream instead of just waking up. Astrology shows a picture of the unfolding dream drama and, as long as we are playing a part in the drama, astrology shows what that part looks like. As the old adage goes, ‘It’s written in the stars.’
I have often described the horoscope as a CD that contains our repertoire. Just because people begin to awaken doesn’t mean they get a new CD. The fact that awakening is happening is written in the script. Even after awakening you can still see the part someone plays out – for example as a guru seemingly helping others to awaken. It is all there in the script. Often people don’t like to hear this, as they would really like to think they are in control but no, sorry, it’s all there in the horoscope script!
What does happen though is that as people deepen their ability to witness, they do not fight with the drama playing through them. This is being in the world but not of it. Who we really are is never touched by anything that arises in this world. Realising it brings freedom, and the ability to rest in who we really are. But the world will continue to play itself out and what that play looks like we can see in the horoscope.
Can you say something about what is happening in the world right now? What about 2012?
When we look at what is happening in the world, when we talk about 2012, it is important for people like you to remember it is still a movie. It’s a movie and ultimately you are here to move beyond the movie. It seems like the movie on planet Earth is about evolution and people awakening and ‘getting enlightened,’ but it is still a movie. If you are attached to the part you are playing, you are still just or almost as stuck in the movie as people were generations ago. If you take a look at how many people are waking up and questioning things, and if you look at how natural it is to talk publicly about subjects that were ridiculed some years ago, you can see the signs that the movie is about awakening from the dream. But as long as people are asleep within the dream they want to continue dreaming, so ways will always be found to prolong the dream. One way to prolong it is to keep creating new dreams about humanity awakening from this dream. You understand?
What is important is non-attachment and witnessing – don’t get lost in the dream of enlightenment. Don’t get lost in the dream of collective awakening. You are part of the collective awakening but if you get caught up in it you get lost in it. Then you can dream about how awake you are! (Laughter) But really it’s all one consciousness – call it God, Creator, Source – it doesn’t matter. It’s all one consciousness having this experience. Even so-called awakening or enlightenment is this one consciousness playing this part, because there is nothing else.
It’s best for people like you to stay tuned in to your highest truth – don’t get pulled into what Osho used to call lesser truths, which just keep the dream alive. A lesser truth could be protecting the planet or being a lightworker. Obviously people are playing parts where they seemingly help the planet – we have people doing wonderful environmental work. We have people bringing light where there is ignorance of deeper truths. But these parts are very easy to get attached to as they can seem so much better than the parts one played earlier in the drama. If you want to awaken, don’t make a new business card and begin to think that’s who you are.
Jacqueline is available at the ashram in Thiruvannamalai for some months from the end of October each year. Website: www.cosmicairport.com
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