Free Awareness- Conversations with Bentinho & Karen at Thiru

I had the fortune of meeting Bentinho and Karen at Thiru in Feb. It was a very moving experience which interestingly was about moving beyond experience ;-).

I shortened my stay at Auroville to be with them. I noted some amazing insights that emerged out of the chat. There was such sincere energy of people who were there. There was a profound simplicity of Bentinho sitting in his shorts and vest smiling effortlessly and laughing often, matter-of-fact, no-big-deal which for me is so characteristic of consciousness.

Am just sharing in bullets what I captured without ‘refining’ or structuring it in any way. It is too precious to postpone this any longer to make it more perfect for presenting here 😉

– Observer and the Observed are sensations arising in Consciousness
• What’s the purpose of life? To wake up to what is beyond causality and duality. Purpose is optional since it is a thought.
• When you see the nonsense/ ridiculousness of the entire game, you will spend more and more time in laughter. It can be great fun.
• Reality doesn’t think about anything. It just is. Though thoughts are a part of Reality.
• Bentinho’s journey to awakening:
Being torn/ conflicted between instinct and the various structured practices like the Yoga Sutras as a 17 year old boy. Till he surrendered to his instinct and saw that awareness was always already there. He found himself more peaceful outside the meditation room. Gradual increase in residing in that and increasing vividness of that. If you have made a story that awakening is a big one point event then that’s how you will experience it.
• The sense of the self appearing and disappearing is also an experience. Something is seeing that.
• “The ‘I’ casts off the illusion of ‘I’ and yet remains ‘I’. The seer and the seen are one in life experiencing itself”
• Enlightenment is also another idea just like Illusion.
• Reality becomes translucent as Awareness becomes more vivid.
• The thoughtless state cannot be found/ held but it is always there. Beneath all that is seemingly happening.
• There is no Manifestation. It is all a perception. Like in a dream it seems as if things are manifested.
• Recognising your true self moment to moment is the only ‘practice’ – it seems like a practice. It isn’t.
• Any practice maintains the mind. Who you are is already fully awake.
• Life is revealing itself to itself.
• Try to stop thinking of the current story or at least thinking about the story.
• You don’t need to ‘arrange’ things.
• You don’t have to ‘do’ anything to increase or decrease awareness. It just IS.
• The vividness of being as you experience it will make the story crumble automatically. Naked being viewing it all. Slowly as you see it, the allegiance shifts from the story to that.
• There is no ‘obligation’ to be aware. There is no need to ‘maintain’ awareness. It is.
• Where is the ego when you don’t think about it?
• Where is the power of thought when you recognise that which sees thought.
• Liberation is an event in the future is another thought.
• Thoughts have power because of other thoughts.
• The only problem is that we doubt that we are always already present.
• Awareness rules without thinking
• Within imagination, there is a process.
• What is aware of Ignorance?
• It is not possible to be totally unaware. Try it!
• Opening window from inside the dark house. What if you stepped out of the house and saw clearly that you are the light.
• Something ‘knows’ – as you develop trust in that consciousness, ideas will fade by themselves
• Thoughts which describe the ‘process’ of awakening come in the way .
• Distraction is another concept in awareness
• Descriptions seem very Real. They are only descriptions.. thoughts.. ideas.
• It is very very simple. So simple that the mind cannot grasp it!
• How objective is the pain when you don’t label it? Is it there?
• Can you have a sensation/ experience without labelling it?
• No label is also a label.
• Notice that which sees vs that which is seen.
• ‘What you are looking for is what is looking’ – St Francis of Assisi
• The Art of Teaching is.. To use description to evoke recognition of that which is beyond description.
• Reality doesn’t need any description/ label.

25 Feb 2011

• Try not to be aware.
o Think of a horrible trauma. Can u not be aware? Even for a second?
o See if you can escape to a far distant land and see if You are not there 😉
o You begin to see the ridiculousness of escaping.
o Is there any state of mind when I am not there?
o Is it possible to not exist?
o See inside the body and see outside. Open your eyes and close yr eyes. It doesn’t have to do with visual perception. It is always already there. It is inherent.
o Whether I struggle or not it is present, so I can drop the struggle, the seeking.
o It will merge/ dissolve/ relax into natural seeing which is happening always.
• Don’t separate this from daily living.
• Meditation is ok to do if you enjoy it.
• Awareness is not some abstract concept. You Are that. Awareness.
• It is not about any state of mind. Idolising any particular state.
• There is a subtle belief that Silence is more pure than thoughts/ chaos/ depression. Recognise this as a thought and shift to see to awareness everything is equal. All are appearances.
• Recognising this seeking stops but discovery continues. It keeps becoming more vivid, potent, beneficial, skilful.
• If prior to awakening you try to ‘purify’/ perfect anything, it will fall away when you see it.
• Awareness doesn’t care about ‘purification’. Drop effort and You are spontaneously liberated.
• You can’t help it, you will always be You. You will always be awareness. You can’t not be it.
• An argument with your partner is the same as a Samadhi experience. They are all experiences. No need to sit quiet for hours.
• Natural release of ridiculous attempts to get somewhere happens when you see that it is already here. It is something that can’t go away.
• It is the ground of all experiences.
• There has been no effort to be You.
• Drop the belief that anything needs to change, Bondage is a story,
• Ignorance is completely innocent.
• Keep checking, isn’t it true that awareness is always present. With each confirmation, lose your doubt.
• There was no idea of a spiritual journey before the idea of bondage.
• The idea of liberation in the future is self torture.
• The negative approach is more effective.. Deny your existence.
• You can never have an experience minus Awareness.
• All perspectives are coming and going to Awareness.
• Awareness is different from Conscious Attention.
• Conscious Attention is playing a game called- ‘I am now more aware, now less aware’
• You are missing awareness now if you believe that you will have it later.
• We miss the primordial and get into projection.
• Your attention is drawn to what seems ‘interesting’ vs that which is plain and simple.. always already present awareness.
• There are many interesting projects for the personality. Lose your fascination for these projects.
• We cant understand it by thinking about it.
• Body is a thought. Deep sleep is a thought in Awareness. Idea of waking up.
• There are no divisions or partitions to Reality. It all is.
• You have never left home. You can’t.
• It is more Being that Seeing.
• Whenever doubt arises, use it as an opportunity to stay undisturbed with Naked Being.
• You can either amplify doubt or you can notice that which sees.
• The Gateway of true existence is from the gateway of non-existence. The idea of I has to die.
• Purification after awakening is Spontaneous.

26 Feb 2011

• We can’t understand ‘that’ by thinking about it
• Body is a thought, Deep sleep is a thought in awareness
• There are no divisons/ partitions in Reality
• If healing is about trying to get somewhere.. I will be whole and complete if… then we are just meddling with the reflection in the mirror. The only true value is in self recognition. What we are is pure. Once we see that we allow life to move and take care of itself.. which it is doing anyway.
• We have got it upside down- Body exists inside the Mind and not the other way round. World – Body inside Mind inside Awareness
• You ARE Life, so how could anything go wrong?
• There is an optimisation of potential as we relax into awareness.
• Pure health is an ‘Idea’
• When we are ‘misperceiving’ there is resistance to what is and stress which creates disease. Recognising our true nature there is profound peace.
• To awareness, all perspectives are equal- Hitler, Osama, Dalai Lama
• Karen- awakening 3 yrs ago. But not to get stuck in the memory of it. But moment to moment being committed to realising it. That is the only ‘practice’
• Recognise that which is beyond experience and equally the inescapability of experience.
• We can recognise awareness by not thinking about it, not by thinking it!
• Anger/ Emotion we see is hollow unlike a planet which is dense. But even that is space.
• Dr Hew Len- Who is there to forgive really. It is all a story, isn’t it?
• Spontaneous forgiving happens since that is the nature of awareness.
• Resting in awareness, as awareness.. from which all appearances arise and dissolve.
• Emotions are already fully allowed – that’s why they happen.
• The room is totally impartial to all.. just like awareness, space- it doesn’t have any preferences
• Allow confusion because it is already allowed.
• Just notice- To what do all states appear – Don’t go looking for it.
• Who you are is what allows everything to be always
• When you see where all questions and answers arise from, do the q& a matter ?
• In terms of human experience, it seems recognition and acceptance of that matter.
• Does Awareness have any question?
• Awareness is another word for You. All that exists is You.
• We cant seem to control whether and what thought arises.. but it seems we do have control whether to follow/ invest in that thought or not.
• Lose interest in perspectives and descriptions…
• We are trying to ‘seek’ happiness by trying to ‘figure this out’ – it cant be figured out! It already is what you are.
• Don’t make allowing into another concept. And bring a ‘should’ there also 😉 Its more like ignoring. Eg The windshield wiper is moving back and forth. If you keep your attention on that then you cant see the road. When you see the road, the wipers may go back and forth. You are ‘allowing’ it, ignoring it.. No interest in that.
• Every moment is timelessly free.
• You cant objectify/ define. Figure out awareness.. it just is.
• A friend told me.. ‘ I got depression but who cares!’
• When you recognise or feel you are not aware, really check if you were unaware. Know that its not possible. Awareness is/ was always effortlessly present.
• If anything is not always already with you, don’t bother to find it – it is not You!
• As soon as one particular experience becomes the goal, there is chaos vs that which sees being the goal.

Dawning of a new world

Watching, witnessing, participating..
In this beautiful dance of life
One of the many blessings
from a dear friend, Brijbala
200 some people!
Children, Youth, Adults, Elders
A teeming of energy, flow and indeed
Incredible glow
Abundant diversity, Profound intensity

Lightness, Play, Music
Yes- each of us, discovering, sharing…
Singing our song

Such resonance and yet
It took us so long to connect!
A community that seems to be already
Living, manifesting, unfolding vibrantly
The dreams I have held

There was an ease and flow
An unhurriedness
When nothing ‘needed’ to be ‘done’
A lot was getting done
It seemed .. as if.. by itself.

Still marvelling at how we all
Self-organised ourselves
A great and spacious ‘holding’
& hosting 😉
It seemed so effortless

Rarely have I encountered
So much diversity
And yet,
Such oneness.

All that remains ..
Is profound gratitude and …
An ongoing deepening of
Conversations, connections and co-creations

This is a glimpse of the Learning Societies gathering that I participated in at The Deer Park Institute early this April 2011.

What was fascinating about this gathering –

• Diversity: People from different geographies and histories 😉 (e.g. Iran, US, Canada, Egypt…) ethnic backgrounds, generations, livelihoods
• Spaciousness for people to be and do, listen and sing the song they want to
• Freedom amidst a deep structure- that of life itself!
• Spontaneous Responsibility
• No ‘one’ is significant and so each one is.
• Synchronous connections
• Birth of a new world order where people get to decide what they want to do, how they want to learn, when they want to play and more.
• There is nothing loudly spectacular and yet there are so many many amazing moments people are having which are nothing short of the miraculous expressing in simple ordinary ways.
• The innocence, the simplicity, the purity of people- indeed an encounter with what is soul-full.
• A facebook that’s suddenly popped out of the screen and is alive in flesh and blood

What I am noticing and learning about me/ my mind:

• Part of me wants to share, reach out, participate, learn, enthusiastically dance and there is a part of me that is laid back, wants to rest, be by myself.
• Am noticing that unlike in the past, I am more at ease with what is.. inside myself and outside.
• When the need to be noticed and shine drops, life shines through me in the way it wants to,
When the desire to ‘stand out’ is held lightly, something ‘outstanding’ radiates brightly
• I enjoy connecting with people one-to-one
• I really miss the internet- Deepakbhai’s internet also stopped working! – maybe a signal from the universe to chill and attend to what is present.

The unspectacular and yet great Aha! moments

• How people gathered around my sharing, the beginning of dialogue- like the gentle moist getting deposited on flowers and leaves effortlessly
• Seeing Deepakbhai and doing ‘The Work’ with him around his relationship with his son-
‘He should have a purpose in his life’ – Such beautiful turnarounds –
a) I should have a purpose in his life (as a friend, not merely a father!- being his friend, allowing him to be mine)
b) I should not have a purpose in my life 😉 (coming here without purpose enabling some great stuff to happen, when I let go of my need for ‘purpose’, the purpose that life has of me begins to sing itself through me)
• Meeting with Ross who was sharing about his journeys – Art for Peace with children- his epiphany and awakening of Kundalini and the sheer simplicity and profundity of his sharing, caring and living.
• Warren and Tana – http://www.OrganisationUnbound.org – and their work. And how they were drawn to the work of CoEvolve.
• Chatting with Om, Ravi’s nephew – listening to his desire to join the IPS- connecting him with Rajesh, the inspiring IG of Bhopal and North Node book and also Tao of Leadership- all of that resonated with him deeply!
and many more

The note which was sent out to build context and invite people is itself an interesting document to read.

Learning Societies Conference
on “Contemplation, Compassion, Creativity and Courage,

This intergenerational conference will bring together approximately 150 leading
“thinker-doers” from around South Asia who are active in challenging the
monopoly of factory-schooling and nurturing diverse learning communities,
vernacular traditions, intercultural dialogue and swaraj. There will be organic
farmers, artists, artisans, activists, designers, filmmakers, healers, alternative
educators, entrepreneurs, homeschoolers, unschoolers, barefoot innovators,
parents, youth, spiritual seekers, and more (there were facilitators, writers,
environmentalists, dancers, musicians etc.) We believe that the agenda of
education and learning is far too important to be left to just B.Ed teachers and
NCERT educationists. As with all learning societies events, the conference is open
to families and children.

We hope to build upon the reflection, dialogue and co-motion that have been
initiated in the Learning Societies network already. There will a lot of space in the
conference to explore radical ideas, proposals and projects. This is a fantastic
opportunity to really think outside the box. Most importantly, the central purpose of
the conference is to build strong friendships and critical connections. Previous
conferences have taken place in Udaipur, Mumbai, Brazil, Jordan, Pakistan, and
Iran.

Several exciting inquiries have emerged over this time, and out of these, many new
initiatives:

– What is the learning ecology of each of our diverse communities? What challenges is it
facing? How can we regenerate it?
– What kinds of unlearning and uplearning experiments are significant and necessary for the
times we live in?
– How do we connect learning with healthy food, community media, zero waste, local
economy, cultural creativity, and other essential aspects of harmonious living?
– What harm has factory schooling done to us and what is the way beyond ?
– How do each of our individual learning journeys relate to one another?
– What can we do in our own lives and work to challenge the Education and Development
systems which are violent, exploitative and dehumanizing?
– How can we recognize diverse forms of power, resistance, regeneration, and engage and
strengthen them?
What are the ways to deepen and expand intercultural dialogue, trust and gift culture?

You may like to review the previous five learning societies books (published by
Shikshantar) which contain over 60 essays from around the world. If you do not yet
have copies, you can download them from the web at

http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/ls_discussion.html or you can write to
for hard copies. You can also see two previous
learning societies conference films on the learning societies facebook page.

The format is of an unConference.
This means that we will co-create the agenda
together. There will be a lot of open space in the conference for participants to
spontaneously share questions, experiences, experiments, workshops, play,
music, food, treks, etc., with each other in the spirit of deep dialogue and
friendship. We have also decided not to require any submission of formal academic
papers. Instead, we are asking that you actively participate in the pre-conference
online interactions in the coming months. We feel that this process will help us to
better self-organize ourselves into a vibrant learning community when we all meet.
We will be using yahoo groups and facebook for this.

The conference fees will operate on the principle of gift culture. You can contribute
whatever you are able to toward the costs of food, accommodation and materials
(the rough cost is about Rs.1800 per person). This applies to those staying at the
group dorms and dining hall facilities at the Deer Park Institute.

We look forward to welcoming you at Deer Park!

Yours sincerely,
Prashant Varma, Deer Park
Manish Jain, Shikshantar
Nitin Paranjape, Earth Care Designs
Claude Alvares, Multiversity
Ravi Gulati, Manzil
Aspi and Yasmin Shroff, Possibilities
Saud Hakim and Reva Dandage, Swaraj University

Some people’s experiences:

“there is nothing i can specifically say that i learned from LSC… yet, it has left me transformed.
like i put a status message on FB – i feel, if i left for joining LSC feeling like a caterpillar, i came back feeling like a butterfly.
whatever i have received, doesnot seem to sit inside me distinctly, and separately. nothing that i can pull out and examine.
some magic seems to have happened.
what happened seems more like winds that went through me, leaving me transformed.
and as a result, i find myself standing in a new place, a new world.
and i feel that true learning is always like that. integrated. dissolved.”
– Biren Shah

“I am celebrating that there were so many people from pune. I felt like seeing people from my home town and was excited to connect with them.
… that the sessions on unconventional relationships were held outside the open space time and there was open ness and trust in them.
… that we had the langar and it was like a dance where things happened organically like a true self operating system, almost like the way things happen in nature.
… the presence off all those who supported it by serving and by receiving it. I would like to share this song,

– Shammi

“I never feel more given to
than when you take from me/
when I understand the joy I feel giving to you
and you know my giving isn’t done to
to put u in debt….
but because I want to live the love I feel for you.
To receive with grace
Maybe the greatest giving.
There is no way I can separate the two.
When u give to me
I give u my receiving,
When you take from me, I feel so given to”
…..‘given to’ by Ruth Bebermeyer

Listen to life..

I got an email from a dear friend this morning as I was sitting in the balcony of another
soul friend, a great Yoga teacher.
The email spoke of some ‘unfairness’ and very ‘human’ behavior in the organisation she is working.
In my response to her, something emerged- which I feel like sharing.

I have often felt that the blog posts need not always be long.
Sometimes, just a few simple lines can do what a book cannot. So this is
the first post that is brief. Spontaneous. In the moment stream of consciousness sharing.

Listen to life..
There is no strife.
Lovingly share from the heart
Wondering about its art
Together
Seeing .. Not seeking
Possibilities of co-creation
In the midst of conflict
Of the verse in the midst of
What’s adverse
Of the song, the voice
in the middle of the noise
Because ..
Deep inside it all
Lies the dearest freshness.

Can you today see if anything has been adverse in your life?
And notice the verse in it.
Can you right now see the voice that is wanting to be heard amidst the noise?

As we relax our seeking, we begin to listen to the song that life is singing through us.
Effortlessly. Listen to life.

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