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Eternal life (& where to find it)

“By dropping time and your sensory experience regularly, you gently start to acquaint yourself with life beyond form and time, the life eternal that you and all of us are participating in simultaneously with our everyday ever-changing life”

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article looks at a perennial meditation theme, and one closely tied up with the meaning of liberation and also very effective overall relaxation and stress transformation. 
If you enjoy the article then do feel free to join us for this week’s Tuesday & Wednesday meditation class, where we shall be taking it as out subject for meditation.
The two week integral meditation retreat this weekend is currently full, if you would like to be on the wait-list just let me know. 

In the spirit of the life-eternal, 

Eternal life (& where to find it)
From a meditation point of view finding and ‘achieving’ eternal life is very simple. By ‘eternal life’ here we mean that which is not subject to the normal processes of living and dying, and that abides in an unchanging manner. It is a place where all problems are solved, all conflicts harmonized. It is a place of ‘permanent’ lasting peace. In the great wisdom traditions, the realization (not ‘achievement’) of eternal life is synonymous with the attainment of liberation or nirvana.
So where do we find it? Curiously we find it sitting under our noses, but where? If you look at each moment or occasion of your consciousness you will find three aspects:

  • A sensory dimension, what you see, feel smell touch etc…
  • A mental dimension, what you think, feel (emotionally) and imagine about it as it is happening
  • A consciousness dimension – That which is observing and experiencing the mind and senses

If you observe the first two dimensions, sense and mind you’ll see that they are changing continuously. They move thru continuous cycles of ‘life & death’, of coming and going.  If you turn your attention to the third dimension, consciousness itself, you will probably notice it’s a little more difficult to observe. This is because there is nothing to it in terms of form and movement; its just a formless, timeless ‘containing space’. It holds space for the impermanent comings and goings of our mind and senses.
Because consciousness itself is formless, it is timeless. Because it is timeless, it is eternal. So, whenever you ‘drop into’ the experience of consciousness itself, you find eternal life there and also that part of you that is eternal. By eternal we mean not beginning, not ending, not subject to change. Consciousness is just a living empty space, nothing there, but pregnant with all possibilities.
In his short story entitled ‘Illusion’ Anthony De Mello gives a few pointers about where to find eternal life:
“How shall I attain Eternal Life?”
“Eternal Life is now. Come into the present.”
“But I am in the present now, am I not?”
“Why not?”
“Because you haven’t dropped your past.”
“Why should I drop my past? Not all of it is bad.”
“The past is to be dropped not because it is bad but because it is dead.”
So, to find eternal life (which is found in the state of consciousness itself) we need to drop time, past and also future. This helps still our mind enough to start to see consciousness in the present.
Another thing we need to do it withdraw our attention from our senses. As Lao Tzu says in verse 12 of the Tao Te Ching:
“Colours blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavours numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.
The master observes the world
But trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky”
(Chapter 12 Steven Mitchell translation)
So, to find eternal life experientially in meditation you need to drop the past and future, withdraw your attention from the senses and allow your perception of consciousness itself to start to gradually come into focus. In doing so you gently start to acquaint yourself with life beyond form and time, the life eternal that you and all of us are participating in simultaneously with our everyday ever-changing life. In this sense ‘heaven’ is not something that we may or may not experience after our death. As Thich Nhat Hanh says “The pure land is now or never”. You ether see it or you don’t. If you are waiting and hoping to encounter it sometime in the future, you’ve missed it already, its right here where it always has been.

Related readingThat which solves all your problems and none

© Toby Ouvry 2023, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Sat & Sunday 1st, 2nd April – Two day integral meditation retreat

Starts Tues/Weds April 11th/12th , 7.30-8.30pm – Meditations for thriving and energy creation – An eight week course

Saturday 15th April 9am-12.30pm – Meditations for Developing the Language of Your Shadow Self Workshop

Saturday April 29th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Tues 30th/Weds 31st May – Wesak meditation

Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Books * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

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The path of no escape

“Ground your quest for inner freedom in non-seeking and the path of no-escape!”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article explores how you can explore the boundaries of your inner freedom through meditation.  It is a subject we will explore in this  Tuesday and Wednesday evenings meditation session, you’d be welcome, live-in-person, or online.

Final reminder for the Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat this Saturday morning.

In the spirit of no-escape,


The path of no escape

Seeking and escaping – Your personal samsara
In my original Buddhist meditation training, the word ‘samsara’ meant the wheel of life, death and rebirth. We all wander continuously in a cycle of being repeatedly born in uncomfortable states of existence, only to die and be reborn in another. On a slightly more subtle level this plays out many times each day; we wonder in and out of uncomfortable, dissatisfying experiences based on the dynamic of our ‘wandering mind’. The essential dynamic of our wandering mind is seeking out pleasant and desirable experiences, and trying to escape from difficult or undesirable experiences. Based on this condition of attraction and repulsion, our mind wonders thru-out the day, never finding a place to rest, or to feel complete and whole. If you watch your mind and its attending feelings for a while, you’ll start to pick up your own ‘seeking and escaping’ pattern fairly easily. What you see there is basically your own personal samsara, or wheel of dying and being reborn from moment to moment.


Dropping your seeking and evading
If you want to attain ‘nirvana’ or liberation from your samsara, then a basic practice is to drop your seeking and escaping mind for a while, and rest in the space of freedom that lies in doing so. In meditation this means:

  • To temporarily stop seeking things you are attracted to, hoping for, excited by or think you might temporarily enjoy
  • Likewise, to stop seeking and avoiding subjects and experiences that you would normally feel aversion for, or anxiety in encountering.

Inwardly and for a while simply stop evading and running towards things in your mind, and let it rest in the present, with what is there for you from moment to moment.


The doorway to your personal nirvana
When you try the above practice for a while, you’ll start to notice a new experience arising for you; a space or doorway that gives you access to an open, free state of being-in-the-moment. In this state you are not chasing or running after, you are simply free to rest and relax in your own company. Form moment to moment, in this space you are liberated from compulsive mental and emotional activity. This experience is the beginning of your own personal nirvana or freedom from wandering around the wheel of birth, death and rebirth!

Seeking and avoiding with purpose
Whilst we build this non-seeking state, of course in our daily life we have to go around seeking the things we need, and avoiding undesirable experiences. But as our practice continues, the nature of our seeking and avoiding changes. It goes from compulsive and unconscious to conscious and practical. We use it when we need it, and when were finished we put it down. It becomes utilitarian and functional, as ultimately our quest for inner freedom has now been firmly grounded in non-seeking and the path of no-escape!


Related articles: Hopefully hopeless

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2022, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Saturday Feb 26th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

In a sentence: Experience unique Qi gong and Taoist breathing techniques to improve your immune system, energy level, psychological wellness and enhance your meditation…read full details


Life-fullness – The Integral Life-Coaching Program with Toby

Are you looking a coach who can help you to:

  • Meet the challenges, stress and changes that you face in a more effective and mindful way
  • Become happier within yourself, in your relationships and at work
  • Be actively accountable for finding a sense of balance/well-being in your life and fulfilling your personal potential?
  • Guide you to find and operate from a deeper sense of meaning, motivation and connectivity in your life?
Read full details

All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:

Ongoing – Weekly Tuesday, Wednesday Online class schedule

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby  (East Coast)

Ongoing January-March – Zen: The ordinary path to enlightenment – Meditating with the Ten Ox Herding pictures

Saturday Feb 26th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat

Integral Meditation Asia

Online Courses 1:1 Coaching * Books * Live Workshops * Corporate Mindfulness Training *Life-Coaching *  Meditation Technology

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You’ve Already Won! – Mindful Appreciation and Ambition

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at one of the foundations of traditional mindfulness practice,  the healthy ambitions that we can generate from it and the particular type of resilience that it helps us to develop.

In the spirit of appreciation and ambition,


You’ve Already Won! – Mindful Appreciation and Ambition

Biologically speaking you have already won the lottery. The human body is the Rolls Royce of mother nature’s evolutionary technology, with the most advanced tools for intelligence, development, pleasure and growth on the planet all built in. If you think about this regularly you start to get a feeling of appreciation simply for the opportunity to experience life in a human body.

Other conditions that make your life fortunate
The Buddha in his teachings on mindful appreciation of our human life also pointed out other aspects that make out life fortunate, quite a few or which you may have noted at least intellectually yourself:

  • Being born in a time &/or place relatively free from war or famine
  • Having complete intellectual & physical faculties
  • Being free from intense or chronic hunger &  thirst
  • To have access to education, both  secular & spiritual, & to have the freedom to study that which we choose
  • To have the leisure to practice mindfulness & other methods of personal growth that give rise to the experience of inner wellbeing

If we have them all, we shouldn’t take any of them for granted!

Mindful appreciation and ambition
If you sit with a mindful recognition of any of the above points, almost inevitably you are going to start to feel good about your circumstances; whatever your relative situation you are a very lucky person. Staying with this feeling of being fortunate, of having a great opportunity by being alive and being human is a foundational object of mindfulness and meditation practice, a basic building block of your sense of personal happiness and wellbeing.
As well as giving rise to a sense of appreciation, this type of reflection can also give rise to a type of mindful ambition; a strong desire to make the most of the opportunity we have whilst it lasts.

Four types of mindful ambition
Traditionally speaking, there are four types of meaningful ambition we can cultivate by recognizing the good fortune of our human life:

  1. To secure the best quality of real happiness and wellbeing for ourselves and those in our circle of influence in this lifetime
  2. To work toward the happiness of future generations; to secure a better life for them
  3. To work toward the highest level of physical, psychological, and spiritual development and freedom that we are capable
  4. To cultivate the enlightenment experience (See my past article ‘Enlightened Imperfection’)

If you got out of bed each morning with this type of mindful appreciation and ambition in the front and centre of your mind; what would change in your life and the way in which you went about it?

Mindful appreciation and ambition as givers of resilience
One of the great things about this form of mindful appreciation and ambition is that it gives you a context for experiencing the rest of your challenges; many of the problems in your life cease to be so bothersome, because at the end of the day you know how fortunate you are. Not finding the man or woman of your dreams, not having an ideal career, not having the biggest house on the street or the exact life you want are all problems that can be dealt with; they are all relative and all manageable.

Live it up and be mindfully ambitious while it lasts!

Related article: How to Meditate on Gratitude

© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in May:

Friday 8th May, 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre – Stillness, Energy, Positivity and Relaxation -A grounding in the basics of Integral Meditation

Saturday 16th May, 9.30am-12.30pm – Growing Your Mindful Freedom – The Essential Meditation of the Buddha: A Three Hour Meditation Workshop

Saturday 16th May, 2.30-5.30pm – Meditations for Activating, Healing and Awakening our Ancestral Karma

Wednesday 20th, 7.30-9.30pm –  An Evening of Mindful Relationships: Improving Your Relationships and Social Skills Through Mindfulness – A two hour workshop

Friday 29th May 7.30-9.30pm –  Integral Meditation Session @ the Reiki Centre – Travelling deeper into the present moment through integral meditation

Saturday 30th May, 2.30-5.30pm – Enlightened Flow: Finding the Ultimate Relaxation and Release from Stress

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Is Spirit a Place of Light of Dark?

Dear Integral Meditators,

When you think of the words “deep spirit”, or “deep consciousness” what sort of ideas and images arise in your mind? This weeks article investigates the encounter with deep spirit and what sort of experience it is.

Yours in the transformation power of deep consciousness,


Is Spirit a Place of Light or Dark? 

There is often a pre-conceived idea that the deeper dimensions of consciousness are somehow domains of heavenly light and bliss, but what is it really like when we connect to deeper levels of spirit and consciousness through meditation?
The deeper levels of spirit have been experienced by mediators and spiritual practitioners of all traditions and, rather than being a realm of light (as some of the levels of consciousness BEFORE we reach this deeper level are) the deep primal or causal level of spirit is a domain where light and darkness appear to merge and become paradoxically one. As the Christian poet Henry Vaughan said:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness”

So, rather than being a realm of light per-se, the deepest level of spirit and consciousness (I’m using these words interchangeably in this article) are a place where light and dark come together as one.
Put another way it is a place that is beyond light or darkness, a place that is beyond the polarity of opposites.

If you are a consistent meditator, then the odds are after a few years you will start connecting to this domain of deeper consciousness in your meditations naturally, but we can accelerate the rate at which we connect and stabilize our experience of this domain by using images, here are three, they are very simple but very powerful:

  1. The Eclipse – Visualize a sun in the space in front of you. Imagine a dark sphere comes across and blocks the sun, as the moon does in an eclipse. So you are now staring at a dark sphere surrounded by an aura of dazzling light. Now imagine that you become that dark sphere that contains within its darkness a dazzling light. Be this union of light and darkness.
  2. The Union of Heaven and Earth – Sit on a chair with your feet squarely on the floor. Visualize dark life energy rising up from the earth through your feet. Visualize bright, white universal energy coming down through your crown from the sky. See the light and the dark energy coming together in the centre of your chest. As you observe the light and dark coming together, sometimes the space in the centre of your chest feels like a bright star, other times it feels and looks like a deep black hole. After a while it becomes a dazzling space of dark light. Allow your mind to relax and absorb into this dazzling dark space of primal spirit in the centre of your chest.
  3.  The Starry Pool – See yourself descending a spiral stairway into the earth. Eventually it opens out into a cavern. In front of you there is a deep pool of water. On the wall on the other side of the cavern there is a small alcove where a candle burns in front of an image or statue that for you represents God/Goddess or Deep Spirit. Gaze into the pool. As you do so from within the deep blackness there emerge stars deep within the darkness. Allow your mind to sink into the inky blackness of the pool where there is deep darkness in combination with the bright lights of the stars. Feel the darkness and starlight becoming one and rest in that space. At the end of this meditation return back up the stairway to the earth’s surface, don’t just snap straight out and walk off!

These images are not about philosophy, psychology or metaphysics. They are images that you can use to create a personal, experiential encounter with deep spirit and allow yourself to be changed by this encounter.

© Toby Ouvry 2013, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Hi Everyone,

When you think of spiritual courage what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Likewise, what does the idea of spiritual fear conjure up in your mind. This weeks article is a contemplation on both spiritual fear and spiritual courage, and how we can start to deal with spiritual fear by leveraging more upon our spiritual courage.

In the upcoming classes section below you will see that the write ups for the Integral Meditation Practice workshop and six week course beginning in October are now complete, feel free to click on the links and have a read about these brand new programs!

Yours in the spirit of spiritual courage,


Upcoming Classes and Workshops at Integral Meditation Asia
An in Depth Look at Meditations For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention 
Time: 7.30-9pm
Location: SCWO, 96 Waterloo Street, Singapore. for map click HERE

3rd October, Class 4Focus, Concentration, Peace
A fragmented, distracted state of mind seems to be the norm in the midst of our current, frantic pace of life. The meditation techniques taught in this class specifically address how we can develop the skill of focused, lucid concentration amidst all the distractions and busyness that calls for our attention. Developing focus and concentration not only has the benefit of making us more effective in achieving our goals, it also gives us access to an experience of deep regenerative peace that we can rest in as we travel our life’s many and varied pathways.


Sunday 21st October– 9.30am-12.30pm – Three Hour Workshop: An Introduction to Integral Meditation Practice

Beginning Wednesday Evening 31st October:  Integral Meditation Practice – A Six Week Course in Mindful Living, Energetic Health and Wise Insight Through Meditation
To register or for further enquiries: Email, or call 65-68714117

Spiritual Fear, Spiritual Courage

Defining spiritual fear and spiritual courage
Spiritual fear is the fear we experience when we are faced with the possibility and challenge of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
Spiritual courage is the courage that it takes to keep stepping up to and into the challenge and possibility of moving from a limited state of identity and awareness to a more expanded and integral state of identity and awareness.
In other words, spiritual courage is the answer to the challenge of spiritual fear.

Not something new
Spiritual fear and courage not something new to us. All of us can remember the fear and apprehension of moving from kindergarten to primary school, of moving out of our family home for the first time to go to college, of getting our first job, of setting up our first self employed business. All of these situations involved moving from a smaller world and sense of self to a larger world that involved developing both a new sense of who we are, and dealing with the challenges of a larger, more complex and often uncertain universe.
So, there is a sense in which we have already been confronting our spiritual fear; fear of giving up our old, secure identity in order to embrace a larger one, and exercising our spiritual courage; boldly stepping into a new, larger world and embracing a new, bigger and more challenging sense of self.

The challenge to keep on developing and enquiring as we reach adulthood
The challenge for most of us is that once we get to the average, conventional level of functional adulthood, our willingness to keep embracing new and deeper experiences of who we are generally stagnates. We enter a comfort zone where our sense of who we are becomes more and more fixed, more and more comfortable. As we become more comfortable, our willingness to continue developing and pushing ourselves deteriorates.

Spiritual courage is the courage to keep evolving our consciousness
So then spiritual courage is the courage that keep encouraging us out of our comfort zone, and keeping on accessing developing new and deeper dimensions of who we are and what we do.

The stick: The reality of the certain death of the small self
The “stick” that calls us to listen to our spiritual courage and moving beyond our spiritual fear is the knowledge that, at the time of our physical death everything that we are as a personality or ego, and all that we have accumulated materially ceases or is left behind.
If our sense of self only goes as deep as our ego-personality, then at the time of death we will literally feel as if we are losing everything. This mindfulness of the challenge of death encourages us to keep looking deeply into our identity and find something within our moment to moment awareness that is “beyond death” or that continues after our ego-personality ceases at the time of death. You could say that this is one of the main jobs of meditation, to help us develop awareness of that within our awareness that is “deathless”.
Spiritual courage and the actions we engage in over a lifetime based upon spiritual courage enable us to meet our physical death with equanimity and joy, and encourages us to use the time we have in our remaining lifespan as well as possible.

The carrot: Each year of our life becomes the “best ever” as we continue to get older
A life based around spiritual courage will tend toward greater and greater happiness as life goes on and we get older. 
When I was at school when I asked my teachers what was the best time of life, they would either answer childhood or young adulthood, as you have more time for fun and fewer responsibilities. Now, as I pass the 40 year mark of my life, with quite a lot of responsibilities, limited time and a slowly aging body I can still say that this year has been the best of my life so far. This is not because the best outer things have been happening in my life (it has been quite challenging in this way), but rather because my sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life is clearer than ever before, and so the qualitative, moment to moment experience of life is for me now better than it has ever been. As long as I keep enquiring more and more deeply into “who I am” I can only see next year being better than this one, the year after being better still and so on.

Meditating on spiritual courage
Meditating on spiritual courage does not need to be a complex affair it is simply a matter of thinking each day “How would my deepest or highest self respond to the challenges that I face today?” Having asked this question, quieten your mind, look within yourself and connect to the deepest sense of self that you can find within that moment. Observe the perspective that it brings to your life and circumstances, and try and identify with and act upon that deep perspective, rather than the louder and more superficial perspectives that our ego often encourages us to act from.
So, in this sense we could say that meditating on spiritual courage is simply being aware of the deepest, wisest way of viewing ourself and our circumstances, and choosing to act upon that perspective, despite the resistance we may feel from our spiritual fear.

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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Finding Permanence Within the Impermanent and Fulfillment Within the Dissatisfying

Dear Integral Meditators,

One of the main qualities that I teach in my “Mind of Ease” meditation classes is that really core to the “Ease” is to learn to identify aspects of our moment to moment experience that are permanent, solid and reliable. In the article below I explore this theme, I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of the journey,



Finding Permanence Within the Impermanent and Fulfillment Within the Dissatisfying

It is well known that the one of the Buddha’s main teachings was that of impermanence, that ourself and all the people, things and events around us are in a state of continuous change. From the this point of view Buddha taught that our ordinary everyday existence has the nature of transience and, when we cling to any of the changeable things around or within us, dissatisfaction, pain and suffering.

What is not quite so well known or understood is that Buddha also taught that by closely observing that which is impermanent and unsatisfactory we can discover in that very same act of observation that which is permanent, reliable, liberating and fulfilling. Liberation and permanence exist in the same space as impermanence and dissatisfaction.
So, where is this permanence and fulfillment? When we are looking for permanence in the here and now, we are looking for that which is not changing from moment to moment. Within the world of form this type of permanent object is unfindable; our body and mind are changing from moment to moment, our world is changing everyday, friends and acquaintances come and go, we live and die in a state of continuous flux and change.
Amidst all of this change two things stay the same, and they are right under our nose; Our experience of inner and outer space, and our experience of awareness itself:

  • While all the outer world is in a state of change, the outer space that contains and provides a context for that change remains.
  • While the inner world of our mind is in a state of constant flux, with thoughts coming and going, the inner space and clarity of our mind is always present, and fundamentally unchanging, like the sky that forms the background for clouds and the changing qualities of light during the day.
  • Whilst our sense of self in the world of form (based on our ego, or psychological self image) always changes (good person, bad person, successful, failure, good looking, ugly etc) the core experience of witnessing awareness itself remains unchanging, always constant, always non-judging, and completely steady in the face of all change.

So, when we look for something reliable, permanent, something within which we can truly rest at ease and find liberation from all our travails, the Buddha and similarly the teachers of all the great wisdom traditions teach that it is not found as something separate from your moment to moment experience, it is just that at the moment we are looking in the wrong way.
To find a place of permanence where you can rest at ease and find respite from the challenges and travails of your life, you simply need to look at your moment to moment experience right now and notice three aspects of it; the inner and outer space that provides a context for our inner and outer world, and the experience of pure awareness itself. Awareness has no qualities other than to observe, to bear witness to what is appearing in this moment.
Having become aware of the pervading sense of space, and of awareness itself, you simply allow your sense of self to rest in that sense of spacious awareness, and enjoy its stability and reliability, how it does not change in the face of the continuously changing world of form.

One of the main points of meditation is simply this; to be able to rest your sense of self that sense of spacious awareness, and identify that spacious awareness as you, your true self, or “real” self. Doing so enables us to enjoy the ever changing and transforming world of form, whilst at the same time resting secure in an identity that is no subject to that change, that is reliable, solid and liberated.
© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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Darkness Emerging as Light

Hi Everyone,

Instinctively we shun difficult and dark emotion in our search for happiness and wellbeing. But what if the secret to finding really dynamic, enlightened happiness was to be found within those dark emotions themselves? This weeks article explores this idea.

Yours in the spirit of darkness as light,




Article of the Week:

Darkness Emerging as Light

Often we hear the spiritual path as described in terms of light fighting against the darkness and conquering it, as if the darkness within us is something so intractably unhelpful and evil that the only constructive thing that we can do is to get rid of it or destroy it.
Consequently when we come across dark and destructive emotions in our mind, the tendency can be to shun them, try and get rid of them, repress them, and fight against them.
A closer examination however reveals that really the process of enlightening our dark emotions and impulses is more a matter of transforming and re-working their essential energy so that from their dark and chaotic core light emerges. If we gain practical experience and insight of this we realize that darkness and light are really two aspects of the same essential energy, merely appearing in different ways.
We can find a precedent for this in the Tibetan Buddhist tantric tradition, where the energy of the five core elements of existence can appear on the emotional and mental level either in their distorted form, or their liberated form.

Element – Earth, Distorted Energy – Arrogance/pride, Liberated Energy – Equanimity/balance/generosity

Element – Water, Distorted Energy – Anger/aggression/violence, Liberated Energy – Clarity/mirror wisdom/penetrating insight

Element – Fire, Distorted Energy – Possessiveness/compulsiveness/obsessiveness/consumerism, Liberated Energy – Discriminating wisdom, compassion, appropriateness
Element – Air, Distorted Energy – Envy, suspicion, jealousy, Liberated Energy – Spontaneity/ free and fluid capacity for action
Element – Space, Distorted Energy – Intentional ignorance/introversion/depression, Liberated Energy – Unrestricted intelligence/Pervasive wisdom.
So, this is not an article on Tibetan tantric Buddhism per-se, rather the point of listing the above set of correspondences is to indicate that all negative emotions are expressions of a core creative energy that has been misdirected and distorted. Therefore the way to deal with such misdirected and distorted energies is not to shun them or reject them, but rather to look deeper into them, re-work our understanding of them and re-direct their energy so that it can express itself as enlightened creative energy in our life.
You don’t have to formally be a ‘tantric’ practitioner to do this, but you do need to have the courage and will to look deeply into your emotional pain and darkness and start using your natural intelligence to re-work, re-frame and re-direct that energy in your life. You need to learn to not be afraid of the energy of powerful emotions, but rather to embrace them, recognizing that the energy that intimidates you now is in fact the very same energy that we will later experience  as the light of enlightenment. It is the same basic creative energy seen understood and experienced from a different, larger context and perspective.

So, all of this is not easy work, and it takes consistent time and dedication. If you would like an example of such a re-working from my own life and process you can read an article I wrote called “In order to find real happiness you first have to get mad as hell” which was written during a time when I was specifically re-working my own relationship to the energy of anger.


Here is a simple exercise to get started. Whenever you feel a dark negative emotion/emotional space arising in your mind, rather than running away from it, fighting with it or repressing it, try and relax and just feel your way into the “middle” or central core of that emotional vortex. Try and discover that point of stillness that lies at the heart of even the most volatile emotion. Sit there form a while, letting the emotion flow through and over you. Once you are used to this basic activity, then ask yourself the question “How can I re-direct and re-define my relationship to this dynamic and creative energy so that it is working in a liberated way in my life, rather than a distorted way?

© Toby Ouvry 2012, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

One Minute Mindfulness

What Does Liberation From Suffering Mean?

Does liberation in the spiritual sense from suffering mean that we no longer feel any pain? I tend to think that we will still feel pain of one form or another after we have been liberated, but that pain will not be added to by additional mental suffering and negativeness.

To be liberated from suffering means for example that when you are in physical pain you no longer add to that pain by trying yourself up in knots about the situation you are in. You simply accept the pain as it is, if you can alleviate it you do so through your actions, but if it is just a matter of enduring it with patience,  you can do so without your mind making things any worse than they need to be.

If you can accept pain without it giving rise to mental suffering, then in a very real sense you are liberated from suffering.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot over the last 36 hours or so as my mind and body seem to be a in a certain amount of pain, and chaos. There is plenty of opportunity to buy into it and create suffering from the pain, but as long as I realize I have the choice not to and am mindful to exercise that choice there is no real problem. Pain does not need to become suffering.


© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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Finding the balance between freedom and control

There is an eternal balancing act that we all have to find in our life between freedom and structure, or freedom and control. This basic polarity works on all levels. For example:

  • On the physical level if you want the freedom of good health it is important to have the structure of a balanced exercise routine and diet
  • If you want the freedom to engage in a creative project (musical, artistic etc…), you need to have the discipline and organizational ability to find a source of financial stability in your life that will facilitate that.
  • If you want the mental freedom to experience pleasant feelings and thoughts in your mind, you need to have the inner structures/control in and of your mindset to deal with negative and fear based thoughts.
  • If you want the spiritual freedom to enjoy the bliss of your pure, natural consciousness free from conceptions, you need to have the discipline, control and structure of a daily meditation practice.

So, basically on every level you find this interplay between freedom and control in your life, and mastering that balance is an ever changing and fundamental part of your overall process of integrated mastery…

As I final point I would like to point out a three level structure for mastering the balance between freedom and control (I seem to have been working a lot in threes in the last few articles!):

  1. In the beginning we oscillate between freedom and control; either we are “letting ourselves go” and losing our structure, control and discipline, or we are “getting back on the wagon” and re-asserting control of our life, meditation practice etc…
  2. On the next level we start to enjoy the freedom of control, we appreciate that freedom is facilitated by a certain degree of healthy control and structure in our life. At this stage freedom and control move into increasing levels of harmony and mutuality with each other.
  3. On the third level Freedom becomes control and control becomes freedom. Discipline, control and structure become effortless expressions of our freedom of choice and creativity. Our actions become naturally and beautifully controlled and this in and of itself is an expression of our inner freedom and sense of liberation.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first. Contact