Happy New Year!
This is traditionally a time of resolution. Resolution, the quality of being determined, resolute in announcing our intention for the coming year. The intention of how we wish to behave, to think, to act. We use the new year as a marker of sorts. How do we wish the coming year to unfold? How do we wish to act? Who do we want to be?
Our behavior is the result of our experiences, our thoughts, feelings, emotions, our personality, beliefs likes and dislikes. In meditation we touch the space beyond the mind, personality, beyond likes/dislikes and beliefs to experience the very source of all creative potentiality at its most powerful inception point and in that, we influence what it is we see, feel, taste, touch in life.
Our practice permits access to what has always been there but just out of reach to authentic experience. regardless of what our subjective view is at the time. We release our sense of identity, of who we believe ourselves to be; we rest and in that we are nourished. Upon opening the eyes, clarification is increased and capacity up-leveled. Regardless of what it is we do in life, we do it better connected to source. We feel better about the outcome even if it falls short of highest desire because it is connected to our deepest values.
When we first learn to meditate we receive what we need, this is always the case with learning. We receive what we are capable of holding and we make good use of it. Then, in time, as in all things, practice deepens experience, and from this place we need to hear again. It is not just, or only the case, that new information is now possible but, what was heard is now heard from a new perspective and thus is itself deepened, rendered new.
This is why we revisit again and again the information given when we first learned to meditate. The place of theory is to support, quicken and comfort the mind, until experience can catch up. Then as the saying goes, “wild horses couldn’t drag you away."
The power of Effortless, Innocence and Surrender. There is so much to say about these three simple words both in the practice of Neelakantha Meditation and in life.
Effortless: natural- we are not creating some mood or inventing some new fad. The currents we learn of jyetsha and vama have always been present. The latter we know well. The former, the senior or prior one, must be pointed out and the way in learned. Then there is the notion of recognition that must be brought to bear to increase our commitment. Of course the tradition speaks of recognition, pratyabhijñā, of the highest, of our truest heart and nature and in that, recognition that all is consciousness but it also refers to recognition of what is surging, changing, growing and of what is being released.
Humans need measurement for this is what fuels commitment. This is very often subtle and so must be teased out. As our senses refine this noticing becomes ever more apparent.
Innocence: we show up. Yes, we have a preference, and hopefully it is a high auspicious one, for all we do. But we also come to know that while we have our part to play, in terms of meditation, there is something to learn, and we must make the time to sit, it is not under our control. Just as in life, we show up prepared with courage and hope. Grace is in how we respond. This doesn’t mean we do not educate, prepare, plan, but at a certain moment, if we are to truly be “in the flow” we must let go. We all instinctively know this. Yet our human grasping at control, as loving as it may be, gets in the way of truly seeing what is the next best action.
When we practice innocence in meditation, we permit the heart seed mantra, given at the time of learning, to do its job and spontaneously carry individual awareness to its oceanic source. This release of our limited identity and control, has profound effects on our experience, not just in meditation but in life. To be clear, we are not saying we do not have a part to play, only from what perspective are we enacting that part? From a partial limited view? Or from a deeper higher one?
Opening, increasing, deepening, refining perspective is the natural effect of resting awareness in wholeness.
Surrender: finally, part of our participation in this process is surrendering to its movement. When we emerge from deep meditation, that simple act of surrender actually renders us much more capable of efficacious action. This is the nyaya of the “bow and arrow.” Mediation is the bow which permits awareness to be pulled back deeply into its potent source; when awareness is released it powerfully hits the intended target with strength and potency each and every time. Wherever we place awareness we want it to go deep, to go to the heart of the matter.
How do you wish the coming year to unfold? How do you wish to act? Who do you resolve to be?
Where do you see the light? This time of year, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc is all about the light. We humans are compelled in the dark to seek the light, it is inbuilt. How grateful I am to have a practice that provides the means to do so naturally, ease fully, every single day.
It takes courage to open the eyes, to find the light, to rest in the light, to spread the light, to BE the light.
This is at the heart of the householder tradition. Indeed it is a command. One that takes courage.
The teaching of open-eyed samadhi, the invitation to see with eyes opened, the light that is inherent everywhere in everything is such beautiful encouragement. It is a noble, sweet desire and the road to this high vision is strewn with sorrow and pain. So much so, that I often wish to close my eyes. To will blindness. In this, blindness sought, desired, is a form of renunciation.
If I keep my eyes closed, in other words if I were blind, then it would not matter the horror that was in front of me or where I actually stood because the light of consciousness within, MY own true light, would always be shining. But more is asked of me.
The fuller promise of what has been tasted, intuited, known, summons. Commands me to “open my eyes.” Command, ajñā- the command to open the doorway of celestial light inward first, yes, but then the command as a householder to be a vīrapuruṣa, heroic one.
Vīra, courageous with eyes open, to seek the light even now in this state.
It is why study and articulation is so important as practice deepens.
Sequence, first go in. Learn the simple, effective practice that moves awareness deep within to its very own light. To see, know this light more and more dearly, and then the command to open the eyes and see more clearly.
Where do I see the light right now? Yes, the teachings speak of the highest, to stabilize and have the undisputed knowledge of the light of consciousness within, and then, to authentically know that very same light as shining brilliantly everywhere in all things with eyes wide open. It is an exalted, heroic path that demands dedication, devotion and compassion.
And always we are quick to add, the teaching of recognition; to recognize what is pulsing more vibrantly now as a result of practice, even as that very light shines on what may be painful and in need of refinement.
This is the injunction of the sambandah nyāya: connection. Connecting teachings/study with what we experience in deep mediation so that we may more fully recognize how the light is showing up in life now.
This time of year is all about the light. We are compelled in the dark to seek the light, it is inbuilt. How grateful I am to have a practice that provides the means to do so naturally, ease fully, everyday.
Śiva Sūtra 1.12 vismayo yoga-bhūmikāḥ the stations and stages of yoga are marked by the experience of surprise, wonder, and blissful astonishment
May you rest in your light.
Grace Sweet and Fierce November 12, 2020
It is said in many traditions that it is not the calamity or challenge that is grace but rather what arises inside us to meet it. It’s easy to see the hand of grace in the sweetness of life, not so much in the fire. We attempt to rationalize, saying bad things happen for a reason, but do they? We humans have a need to try and make reason in order to stay sane and sometimes we can make lemon aid from lemons but not always. There are unspeakable horrors in the world.
Grace is in our response. Grace is seen in how we meet both joy and challenge. Practice aligns us to the downstream of grace, always there, always available. It is the vehicle that enables the location of, and availability to what is our birth right: connection, direct and immediate, to the source of knowledge, insight and creativity.
Neelakantha Meditation is natural, effective and simple to learn. And, at the same time, we do not mistake simple for beginner. Life is precious and it is short. We do not wish to linger at beginner levels. We want to proceed in our sādhanā in order to increase our capacity to be more fully human, to live life to the fullest as we make our unique contribution.
The Householder Sādhanā, is the sum total of an authentic, coherent set of sequential practices, that each individual chooses to engage with in order to support, inform and enhance life altogether. And yet sādhanā, as it brings both sweetness and fire, is inherently counter egoic. The fire of meditation brings light in the form of knowledge and also purification in order to reassemble limited ego in higher and higher iterations.
We are human and humans seek reassurance, a necessity in knowing, am I moving in the direction desired? This countering of the ego, is neither to destroy nor to gluttonize it, but rather to expand freedom. The freedom to respond in the manner we desire as opposed to what is programed via limited ego’s strongly entrenched self-preservation.
As we nourish our understanding of what is happening, via study and discussion, we feed and settle the mind. It is then more able to catch up to the truth of our experience in deep meditation. This nourishment also refines the very mechanism that understands and thus not only colors new experiences of every possible sort, but reaches back and pulls forward what was known, sharpening and deepening that too. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
As we refresh again and again the what why and how of practice, we make the mind our friend and in the process accelerate practice and our very experience of life altogether. Grace is in the response. Our capacity to draw on her, colors our response.
There is the field of karma on the relative and field of grace in the absolute. We have the understanding of the karmaśya, the storehouse of the sum total of every experience every had- positive, negative and neutral- and the metaphor of carefully tip toeing around the herd of sleeping elephants, so we do not wake the negative monsters up! But at a certain moment, we must face what is in there if true healing is to occur and fullness restored. We witness this in the world today.
The capacity of grace to move through the relative in increasingly known terms, is what drives the highest responses. Her invisible movement through the fabric of life is hard to discern. Practice increases our experience of the subtle and in this, to discern the mysterious movement of grace in our lives.
Experience Creates Worlds
We can only act like we know ourselves to be. It cannot be otherwise. So we endeavor to know ourselves as more fully realized beings, to expose our awareness to more. We are also continually creating and recreating what we experience. It cannot be otherwise.
The question is how does one create what has never been experienced? Is it failure of imagination? I think not. One can imagine, have great capacity to dream and even this is limited by exposure. Or perhaps not just or only exposure but also release. Release of the limitation of individual awareness and its subsequent gross level of experience. Imagination may be free but exposure: travel, education, social and economic resources on the surface of life is not.
The riches contained within are open to all regardless of background. In deep states of meditative immersion, individual awareness is released, melted, into its oceanic source. The source of all creation which colors our capacity to create anew.
We continually recreate again and again what we experience. In melting than merging individual awareness, we in a very real sense, create the possibility for what was previously unimaginable. In Sanskrit, anakhya, that which is indescribable yet begs for description. Description that can only be authentically articulated via experience.
In meditation, individual awareness soaks in the vat of colorless light that contains every possible color. Upon emergence, as the sense of self coalesces, it authentically has a richer deeper palate available from which to create, to color life.
Experience creates worlds. What am I creating moment by moment? How can I truly increase imagination and then more, bring it into being? Experience creates worlds and we, as beings living in the world, endeavor to expose ourselves to the best the world has to offer to be sure.
For a moment, dare yourself to imagine, what if in addition to increasing knowledge and understanding on the surface of life, all were to expose their individual awareness to experience, just for a few moments a day, the highest, most potent creative source? What worlds might we be able to create?
As householders, we want to experience and contribute to life. And at the same time, we are after more than temporary experiences. All beings yearn for deep sustenance, for that which is eternal.
And by means of deep absorptive meditation, the Śaiva/Śakti Tantric Tradition tells us, eventually we begin to contact and to even possess the very force of consciousness. The force or strength of consciousness itself. This force, as strong as an elephant, bala, is the potent force that creates on every level, big and small, gross and ultra, ultra subtle.
Experience Creates Worlds. What are you creating this very minute?
It is said that prayer is speaking and meditation is listening.In this time of unprecedented turmoil, so many voices clamber to be heard. It can be hard to tune it and truly hear.
How do you listen?
Each time we sit and close our eyes, permitting attention to move inward resting in the dynamically alive yet profound silence deep within, we release all the chatter of outward life and simply listen. For a time individual identity is merged in it’s oceanic source and this merging, while it may seem solipsistic, is actual a path to deep connection. In truth, no matter our belief’s or personal preferences, we all emerge from this same source. Taking time to truly know this, not in a mere philosophical manner but experientially, we are changed at root. Emerging and moving throughout our day, senses are heightened, sharpened, naturally we sense, with all our senses, more deeply.
Because we inculcate the habit of going deep each day, anywhere we place awareness on the surface of life, it will also spontaneously go deep. This heightening of senses not only impacts how we hear, but how we respond.
This is a natural process and as in all things, it requires learning, a guide to point the way.
How do you listen?
Surrender & Skill October 12, 2020
I grew up at the Jersey Shore. I remember sitting on the rocks of the jetty, the wall built to protect the land and hold the ocean in highest respect for her encroaching power. Sitting there, I would watch the waves powerfully crashing to shore, power apparent. Then the silent return, seemingly so subtle in its movement. It was only when standing in her that I could feel the strength and majesty of that returning current.
One must be in it, locate it to know, experience and utilize its power. So too with our meditation practice. We must locate the inward current and then silently permit awareness to ride naturally to source.
I was also taught to respect the power of the ocean. To read her; to intuit when I was able to playfully ride the waves to shore and when I must surrender and dive deep under her tumultuous power. And always, never to turn my back on her authority. Most importantly, as a child I was taught to look out for rip tides or rip currents. Those impenetrable places unseen from the surface unless eyes are highly sensitized and trained. These powerfully eddies would catch and trap you in their grip. Neither moving in or out, tiring, weakening and frightening you in their grasp as you struggle to be released. You are limited in your strength to fight this sort of power no matter your skill at swimming.
The only hope was surrender. Not in a complacent manner but a respectful one. Release and feel, then at the right moment, whoosh… you would be released. Of course the point of leaning about them was not to get caught in the first place.
This sort of natural power demands respect. We are helpless at the feet of its influence. To project my will only serves to hold me in the rip tide. Awareness heightened, align, surrender and then at the right moment, participate; moving in the desired direction catching what is naturally powerful.
Rip tides are at also at work on the surface of life. We find ourselves caught in the powerful grip of saṃskāric patterns swirling and pulling awareness in a direction unseen until it is too late. We are caught and thrown, thrashing into a repeated pattern we are unable to release. We vow to do better next time but how? We must work on two levels.
1. Just as in the ocean metaphor, we must locate the current that naturally and powerfully moves inward- jyesṭha. Merge into silent source. Its natural effect is not only for the time of practice; this releasing has transformative powers, heightening and refining senses, a settling not just of the mind but of the body too, and in that a slowing down. In this subtle space, expansion occurs and there is a change in our sense of time. More and more these same effects are felt on the surface. We do not emerge from practice unchanged; we bring something back. Just as when we emerge from the ocean, the water may dry but salt is left on the skin.
2. So too the effects of diving into the oceanic depths of being are felt upon emergence. Daily practice feeds and reshapes our response. We are able to see what was previously unseen, the rip tides of our saṃskāric patterns. Senses heightened, space opens between the trigger and our response. This middle space, the madhya, is sacred. Expanding this we are more and more able to choose how to act as opposed to reacting in habitual pattern. In this choosing we naturally align more and more with our heart’s highest values. We become more skillful in enacting the injunction of the Bhagavad-Gita, “Yoga is Skill in Action” not as an inspirational slogan but as a lived experience.
We fulfill the agenda of yoga spoken of in the Yoga Sūtras II.2: increase states of samādhi and attenuate saṃskāras. Samādhi here defined as profound meditative absorption in which the knower and known object are merged and awareness is melted into the profound silence of source that is dynamically potently alive; and saṃskāra, as habitual pattern, a stored impression or residue from a previous thought or action held within the subtle body that triggers outward response.
We work daily at the root, level 1, in our deep meditation practice. Then the addition of the Tantric Masters: the transformation of the prakritic body-mind so that true knowledge and experience in this body may be had; this is level 2. These two levels mutually feed each other and we must participate in order to bring its fruit to bear.
The non-dual Tantric Masters, do not indict life but rather seek to expand and fulfill its promise. To transform life, the vehicle in which life is lived and known must first be refined.
We meditate not only to take refuge in the silence, but to pull from the powerful source of creative intelligence and participate in the transformation of life altogether.
From the One many. Each one of us is an expression of the One. Freely moving out into the relative- what is whole, complete, full, and transcendent- dynamically takes shape. Embodying, permitting the very aliveness of who we come to think of ourselves to be: daughter, sister, wife, friend, teacher, student. As we sit each day to meditate, we permit the natural melting of these relative identities to merge back into source. From the many One.
Visarga śakti, the potency of consciousness; she is the emissional power, the explosion out of transcendence that manifests time, space, form and differentiation; she is also the movement back to Self, simultaneously pulsating in both directions. Every day when we open our senses and take the world in anew, we ride outward on the stream of consciousness, the current of the visarga-śakti, the tradition names vama. When we simply, naturally, close our eyes and permit the heart seed mantra to rise we naturally, innocently ride the inward current to source, named jeyestha; the senior prior, first.
In our surrender to the daily experience of this inner bath, spontaneously the pulsating, driving essence of source, infills every fiber of our being on every possible level; whether we register it or not. Even as we sit here now, in our bodies, using our senses, hearing the words spoken permitting them to land connections made by the mind and ego, inhabiting our individuality, we are simultaneously this individual identity, and cosmic wholeness. Moment by moment in our waking consciousness, indeed as Śiva Sūtra 3.20 states: triṣu caturthaṃ tailavad āsecyam - like oil pouring into every state, this extraordinary natural process, floods our awareness.
Unity and diversity are relevant to identity; in acknowledging our gross level, (sthula) pseudo identities and experiencing a more subtle highest identity, we transform our sense of who we truly are. We are becoming, always becoming more: more present, more knowledgeable, more subtle, more creative, more alive; more our truest self. We are, to be sure, challenged as we engage in the process of awakening, but always a growing sense of joy, of the extraordinary gifts this one simple, potent practice brings. In this, we experience meditation as both sublime and immensely practical. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
Like oil pouring into every state, this extraordinary natural process, floods our awareness--- how is this showing up? Always we connect the dots.
How do we reconcile benevolence with horror? The problem of equating an all-good, all-loving God with a world that can be harsh and cruel is one that has taxed theologians for many years.
Of course, we understand from our perspective, which is esoteric, we are not aligning with any deity or form of God as traditionally understood, but rather with the essence of what that figure represents: the creative potent source of all; the dynamic silence from which everything arises and to which everything returns.
Rudra is perhaps the most ancient name for Śiva. As Rudra he howls and is depicted as the “roaring raw essence” – what is he roaring at? Ignorance, stupidity? If so, we can hear him quite loudly now. He is the one slinging his arrows and yet, he is also the one who we entreat for protection. The dual representation of Rudra for me, more accurately reflects the nature of the world in which we live, which is both benign and beautiful as well as harsh and destructive.
To my mind, this reflects both the divine unconditional love we long for, as well as the harshness of the world we experience. Rudra is the divine representation in the early tradition as the “god for all.” He howls for the criminals and the saints; the high and low born and everything in between as opposed to the Brahmanical stance of strict purity and those who are entitled ‘to know.” Rudra guards and protects the animals and humans as well as nature, both large and small-- all are worthy of his attention. Perhaps this is because he sees his reflection everywhere.
The wrath of Śiva then as Rudra, is directed primarily against ignorance and the evil that pervades the human consciousness, and the true nature of the deity is inherently loving and benign. This we come to know, via meditative absorption, is our true nature though clearly, we have evidence of its opposite on full view in the world. What do I howl at? What is causing a roar to rise in my throat?
The name Rudra itself is interpreted in different ways, but the most commonly suggested meaning is as the one who makes a roaring sound, which again connects Rudra with the violence and destructive nature of the world, its storms. He roars and we roar too in our pain; and also, we roar in our delight.
I sign my messages with the word courage. I have done so for years and each time I write it, the truth of the word comes into fuller view. Courage, vīrya in Sanskrit.
Vīrya may be translated as: strength, vitality, power, potency, bravery, courage. We have vīrasana: hero’s pose in yogasana. There are many references to vīrya in the Indian and yoga tradition. Importantly for us in non-dual Śaiva Tantra tradition there is the mantra vīrya; the potency of the heart seed mantra -the hṛdaya-bījā-mantra- that is installed, pratiśta, mantra-pratiśta, the installation of the mantra at the time of initiation. It is whispered from the mouth of the acharya to the ear of the recipient.
It travels, from where to where? The mantra, composed of letters or phonemes, is but a vessel, an empty cup, until it is filled with power, vīrya. This vīrya is drawn forth from the very Heart of Consciousness itself; vīrya, the power of all creation, rests in the heart of the absolute. It is daily practice that renders the pathway to this ‘resting’ space, the portal of the parā, the transcendent, at the junction of the paśyanti, the subtle visioning word, ever clearer. This space of the parā, is both silent and dynamically potent. It is this very same source that our individual awareness moves to in deep meditation. And it is subsequent study applied, that assists the mind in grasping these esoteric teachings, thereby rendering them signposts for what is naturally taking place. The four levels of the word: vaikhari, gross/spoken; madhya, intermediary/thought; paśyanti, visioning/taking shape; parā, transcendent/formless from which all form arises, is a hallmark of the non-dual Śaiva Tantra tradition.
The closer we get to source, the more power inherent in what is received. It is the resting in this source that then renders, individual awareness its increased potency, increased expansion and upon emergence the practitioner is more and more able to draw from this source.
It’s a beautiful picture. I close my eyes and traverse as though on a super highway; what my teacher calls an ‘access ramp’ opens. We move on this inward path to home. Home, source of all creative power, and it is not surprising then, that we begin to understand and experience this vīrya in ever new and potent ways. It is an indication of the ever-burgeoning knowledge that all is indeed consciousness. We get glimpses. Our practice is first and foremost very practical. Aid our capacity to live a full good life, then enlightenment; not the other way around.
It takes great courage to be a fully realized human. To dare to look at all the spaces, both contracted and full. We seek to expand the light, our light into all the contracted dark spaces of self so that we may more authentically know and live from the light of our truest, whole nature. In doing so, we are then able, rendered more capable, to share that light with the world.
Meditate. The world needs you.
OṂ GAṂ GAṆAPATAYE NAMAḤ
OṂ ŚRI GAṆEŚĀYA NAMAḤ
NAMO GAṆEŚĀYA VIGHNEŚVARĀYA
OM! Let us meditate on the benign face of Lord Ganeśa, the face of grace itself!
Let us bow to Ganeśa, the remover of obstacles.
Ganeśa in the Indian tradition, is known as the remover of obstacles. More precisely, he is the energy who stands in relationship to obstacles. We know from our perspective that consciousness is one, whole, eternal. In order for us to exam this perfection, its characteristics, qualities or values are teased out. This is the whole consideration of diversity; what is absolute and whole, out of its freedom, svātantrya-śakti, breaches that wholeness to move into diversity, separation and with that, we experience a profound loss. It is like birth, the child cries at being pulled from their mother’s womb. So, too, we cry, it is a cry of the heart, at being separated from our spiritual mother as it were; from wholeness. It is a palpable ache.
It is this loss, that impels the vama, the outer current, to move like a heat seeking missile to fill the hole created by that loss. We do so in various ways, but because life is in a state of constant flux—not stable and eternal—but temporary and ever changing—that feeling of fullness, completeness, never lasts. So, we are in constant search mode. We intuit that there must be something out there that is solid, lasting, eternal. This, sets us on a path to find that something. It is the awakening of śakti within us always present, but not always available, that sets us on the path to find a teacher and teachings, an authentic sādhanā, that will provide us the framework necessary to begin to understand- to hold, contemplate and above all experience the fullness that is the source of all creation.
Ganeśa is also known as Gaṇapaty, Lord of the gunas, the categories. We seek to align with the highest energy who lords over all the categories. So Ganeśa, he who stands in relationship to obstacles. What is my relationship to the obstacles in my life? Both inner and outer. How do I meet them? Do I move from habitual pattern which lock steps me into furthering my limitation or do I engage, in a new fresh way as I stand upon the ‘ledge of freedom’ that my daily practice permits? This ledge is the natural slowing down, the pause that permits individual awareness to stand free, even for but a moment, between cause and subsequent action. It is the madhya space, the in-between and we begin to see why this space is held as sacred. For in that moment, in that opening, we are able to choose. Of course, it matters what column we are choosing from. Do we choose from the habitual, which is pretty deeply grooved, or something new? This newness may feel odd, clunky even – like the saw that skips over clean wood- it does not quite take hold immediately. But with practice, we create new grooves even, as we sand down the old ones.
The Indian tradition is rich in myth. The mythology of Gaṇapaty is vast. He is said to be the son of Parvati and Śiva. Meant to keep Parvati company, to guard her from unwanted attention, and permit her to focus on what is important, while Śiva is away meditating and doing his deeds in the world. He guards her inner sanctum, where she bathes and readies herself; only admitting those through who have the adhikāra, the readiness, qualification, or entitlement to receive initiation or sacred knowledge.
So, we chant to the 'placeholder' of this energy, Ganeśa, first to remove all inner obstacles that prevent us from entering the inner sanctum of our own abode and bathing in the waters of our own sweet consciousness. It is from this daily bath, that our individual awareness emerges refreshed, rejuvenated, and thus impacts our capacity to meet obstacles on the surface. Meditation is the bow that permits awareness to be pulled back deeply into potent source, such that when we open our eyes, awareness is released; hitting its target with effacacious potency each and every time. How do we stand in relationship to obstacles?
Why do we chant?
There is benefit in raising the voice, a harmonic convergence of sorts. After all, we are beings of vibration and we respond to vibration. The Sanskrit language has a potency and richness unparalleled. There is no need to even know the meaning, if there is one, the vibration itself is healing. But those who have a regular practice of meditation, receive so much more. For those, due to the time spent in that inner sanctum of deep samādhi, when chanting or reciting, it calls forth that sweetness like an echo and once again, we are immediately refreshed, bathed in the potent water of source. Meditation is the gift that keeps on giving.
We do not meditate for any one session, no matter how sweet or fiery, but for the cumulative effect. Like putting money in the bank, so that when it is needed, it is there.
We rehearse these themes again and again. Always jñāna and vijñāna- the Śaiva Tantra exquisite understanding of knowledge and experience. We give the mind something to hold on to, something to lean into until recognition dawns in our experience.
Neelakantha Meditation- what are we doing? Neelakantha Meditation is a simple profound and elegant practice. It is natural. It is innocent. It requires of us only that we surrender.
It is natural, not forceful. We say yes, there is a discipline at the surface of life. We’re creating the nirodha-saṃskāras as the Yoga Sutra so beautifully clarifies. But then also it is just the fact that this pulsation of consciousness, as it is increasingly powerfully present within us, just entices us. And we don’t even have to think. It’s not a decision. We’re just drawn to close our eyes and to deepen into that uplifted state. We use the natural inbuilt mechanism of the mind to want more. The heart seed mantra is the tool “man + tra”. We apply it like a pair of pliers, we leverage the endeavor.
It is innocent. Innocence is not naivete. It is not childish though it is pure in its enactment as the child is in her wonder. We do not manipulate or force. We sit and accept what shows up knowing that if it is sweet, it is healing and nourishing. And if it is fiery or agitating, it is benevolent in that it is ridding the body- mind of what hinders the light- always there- to shine more fully.
It requires only surrender. What are we surrendering? Surrender is not giving up. It is not complacency. It is permitting, for a short time, the release of our individual identity- of who we know ourselves to be- and permit awareness to bath in its oceanic, vibrant, rich source. So that when we open our eyes and take in the world, we see more clearly, more truly.
Of course, this fades. So, much like the daily bath we take for our outer body, we must dive in again and again and again.
My most fervent desire is that all individuals will know the powerful treasure they hold within their very beings. In this we create both an individual and collective ‘heaven on earth’ even in hellish times.
Courage. I’ve contemplated, wrote and signed off with Courage for so many years now- certainly it is available to be drawn from the ‘bank account’ of practice. I feel simultaneously up to the task and so very inadequate. Courage—from the French cour and sage—or at least that is how I like to think of it, courage as ‘wisdom of the heart.’ The marriage of intellect and highest compassion coupled with the capacity to confront and in that, access whatever skill held to act in accordance with the heart’s deepest desire.
The Heart here defined as Consciousness writ large, the source of all creative impulse and manifestation and also its dissolution. To borrow from Abraham Lincoln, it is the home of “our better angels.” How can we listen? How can we invite this wisdom? We must go there, experience must be had, there is no other way.
I have spent many years forging a clearer path to the Heart; I have steeped and continue to do so daily, in its dynamic throb. I have soaked in the light of Consciousness and take great comfort from its unending source and I feel the pain of challenge not less, but oh so much more potently! How can this be? Meditation makes you stronger and also weaker; weaker to do that which is deleterious to cultivating our higher circumstance. Perhaps this is why I cannot look away from the terror that is all around now in the time of Covid 19, and feel it more acutely.
My inadequacy to the task at hand has me grieving. Yes, I fear for myself and those I love but it is so much deeper than that. Truly I am not worried about myself. I will move through with grace as cultivation of grace is ongoing. But how can I assist and ease the suffering I feel mounting? It is hard to separate the personal from the public here and I am not sure it is even warranted.
So, I continue to nurture courage and the heightened capacity to act with skill and compassion. In communicating with our various groupings, we fertilize the seed of desire. The incipient sprout needs tender care to blossom. It matters. What we do matters even if it is simply to add a drop of courage to the collective bucket of light, the scale is tipped.