Relationship Creates Worlds #55 August 27, 2018
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive; it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anaıs Nin
Subject and object intimately intwined; rising in existence to each other. When both are sentient beings, each the object of an egoistic subject then what of that world? For awhile the two move as one, but inevitably something punctures the bubble and we are left wondering where it went or if it ever truly existed.
In fact no object can be said to exist without a knowing subject. They exist in tandem but this does not mean that if a subject is unaware of an object, that object does not exist. It may indeed exist, just not to that knower. This speaks of expansion, the opening and heightening of senses, the ability to pierce all objects and take experience in not just with the mind, but the heart.
Each friend then does not only represent a world born but also the knowing of any subsequent object brought into view through the relationship. In this, the pair populates the world made.
How many worlds exist for each individual? Many humans keep separate these worlds out of convenience, desire or necessity, and perhaps even enjoy the distinction made. Of course there is also another reason, ignorance. The absences of knowledge that other worlds besides the one we presently inhabit exist. But at heart there is a yearning in each individual for wholeness; a yearning to be known entirely for who we wholly are. A whole not even known to self.
This is the relationship of self to Self. When individual awareness rests in the dynamic embrace of its source, Consciousness writ large, all worlds are dissolved and simultaneously possible, waiting to be born.
It is, says the Śaiva Tantra tradition, the knowing of this relationship that permits all others a more full blossom. There is not just the creating, which can be beautiful and wondrous, but also painful and harsh; there is the necessary dissolution. Without this, a new iteration cannot truly come to be. So we rest for a bit of time each day, practicing, experiencing this dissolving of our social persona, our personal identity in all that entails so that we may emerge refreshed, renewed and ready to recognize fully the worlds created in relationship.
There are many relationships I look back on and wonder what happened? Why did they end as they did? Often it brings some painful memory of my insufficiency, for if I was enough, certainly that one would still be here. Of course there is much to unpack in this, but what I am coming to understand is these worlds are not really gone because I have never let them dissolve. I cling to what was beautiful and wish it were back and I want to avert what was painful so it does not occur again and so in a sense, I cling to this too. Attachment and aversion are just two sides of the same coin.
So what can I do? I do not wish to forget what was beautiful, the many many gifts given to me through these relationships and, I also do not want to be imprisoned by what I perceive as failure, mine, theirs, or both. Move on. Embrace joy and beauty while it shines forth and be steady in the darkness of challenge and sorrow recognizing they are two sides of the same coin; the natural movement of life will flip it one way and the other for all. Of course this begs the question, how?
We do need to apply our intellect, in fact, life calls for intelligence of every kind, but surface application is simply not enough. We must effect from both ends, at the root as well as the surface. To do otherwise is like, say theses teachings, trying to change the image projected on a screen by poking and prodding at the screen. This we know is futile, we must go to the source. We must go to what is prior, behind the mechanism that the light is streaming through to create the image on the screen. This is metaphor for mediation. We go behind the mechanism of mind and ego to that prior place, clearing and refining here we naturally permit the light of our consciousness to shine more fully, effecting change on what is projected out through our individual awareness. In this then, we are empowered to enjoy and weather what is seen on the screen, the worlds we create, more fully.
It is so simple. And there is something to learn. Meditate. There is a method, a path, an entire world waiting to be known.
Each relationship has shaped me, moved me forward. In my heart your shape rests, worlds unfold and I am home. My gratitude for what relationship has given me, continues to give me, is immense. It is gratitude and a fuller capacity to live efficaciously that compels me to write and attempt to articulate each week. In a sense, I am in relationship with each one that reads, that contemplates my words; together we create worlds.
Cit Happens # 54 August 21, 2018
Cit is the name yoga gives to awareness, to consciousness in its whole unbounded, vast and utterly free nature. Citta, is the name given to what the tradition refers to as the individual consciousness, more precisely the mind. Collectively it is the three levels of the mind: manas, ahaṃkāra, and buddhi. The manas, is our perceptual mind, our imagination and capacity to think; it’s job is to categorizes, name, offer distinction: causes harm or not? a source of food or not? The ahaṃkāra, is the ego, the way we personalize these experiences and the buddhi, is the seat of discrimination, the space of yes and no determining signification. It is also the storehouse of the samskaras, the imprint left of the sum total of all experiences we have ever had, positive, negative and neutral in nature. As such we can understand why yoga is concerned with clarifying this space.
Citta collectively is the lens through which we perceive the world, the relative plane and as such, it sits smack dab in the middle, between that absolute whole source from which light streams, and that relative world in all its diversity. It colors and tinges our vision.
Try as we might, we can only truly see through our eyes, from our perspective, which we understand is limited in its scope, shaped by our individual experiences, likes and dislikes, our values and beliefs, our present circumstances.
Still, I try to see from another’s perspective to understand my experience so that I might be more skillful in speech, action, effort, so that I might contribute to harmony even as I move to effect change. That is my desire. Yet, desire alone does not make this possible. It’s like trying on another’s glasses to see with their vision. If the prescription is identical to mine or close enough, I will see their point. If it is far from mine I will be given a headache, perhaps even blinded, and certainly want to tear them off, look away and go back to the comfort of my own vision.
In this sense, the only way to truly see an other’s perspective is to see from the highest, for that contains any and all perspectives. Thus we journey up the mountain to get a higher broader perspective. Consciousness is ‘self correcting’.
Meditation is the tool that we use, so that consciousness may perform this cosmic, “self corrective” benevolent surgery. Vyasa, in his commentary in the Yoga Sutras [II.16 heyaṃduḥkam-anāgatam] says the yogin becomes “sensitive as an eyeball” and to that end, it is imperative that all self deception be ended in order to reach the Self. For only the Self is the ultimate security; only the Self contains the ultimate vision. Standing beyond the perpetual change of the finite cosmos with its varied, diverse and limited perspectives, the Self alone is unaffected by any fluctuation, difference, sorrow, anguish or pain.
Our individual identity colors our perspective. It cannot be otherwise. The mind’s job is to categorize, to see distinction; the ego’s to personalize. It is the lens that is always between the light of source and the rest of the relative world. And sorrow, pain, anguish, explains the teachings, is the inevitable result of man’s mistaken identity, the ignorance of her true nature and therefore, the incapacity to know the sum total of wholeness, full unbounded, free and eternal. We must drop the lens at least momentarily.
If we truly “saw” through this lens, not by applying some pair of inadequate glasses, but with the vision of wisdom represented by the third eye of Śiva resting at the ajña door we would truly see, we would truly know. We would be the ‘Knower of Reality’ possessed of sattarka, the highest wisdom. We would naturally take possession of what is rightfully ours, has always been ours but forgotten, our true nature.
There is an incredible map that charts this movement from the absolute to the individual and her perception and movement through the relative world. It is called THIRTY-SIX REALITY PRINCIPLES AND SEVEN EXPERIENCERS IN TANTRIC ŚAIVISM. As such, it is also an incredible tool that assists that individual mind in understanding how to trace the journey back to source. But as we know, “map is not territory” meaning, it is helpful and even necessary but without experience a rather dry and brittle substitute for the real thing. Just like reading about Italy, the light and the food and the art, is wonderful; going there, immersing oneself in it quite another thing. In fact in experiencing we bring richness to the intellectual understanding; a richness that fills in the spaces in a way no mere picture or words ever could.
What is it we actually perceive in life? How can we refine our being, the entirety of it and how might we recognize that refinement as it progresses? Knowledge and experience is necessary in order to live fully, to take the world in, in all its diversity and to fully give all that we are, truly wholly and fully are, in joyful response.
Whenever I think of the mind, I hear Baba Muktananda’s prayer “Oh my mind, think well of me!” No matter your back ground, beliefs or desires, knowledge and experience of your full Self is your birthright. Let it bathe your world in light and see for yourself. Meditate.
Sweet Surrender #54 August 14, 2018
Thy Will Be Done. These words are echoed in many traditions. A prayer of the individual to surrender to what is greater, more powerful and more knowing than the limited perspective of the one.
What does it mean to surrender oneself? How does it look; how does it practically work, in a world where there is so much for us to do; in a culture that prizes “pulling oneself up by the boot strap?”
In the yoga tradition, the notion of Will is coupled with Knowledge and Action: Icchā, Jñāna, Kriyā. These three form a triad upon which Śakti, the power of consciousness, moves out into varied manifestation.
Meditation then is the trajectory of growth in consciousness, it is the journey to the Self and as such is not religious in nature. That said, it is appropriate and supportive for those who do have a religious tradition as well as those who do not.
We seek to align with śakti through the illuminative intellect set on fire by meditation. To do so it is necessary to have, what scholar Paul Muller-Ortega terms, the “practice of the practice” and the “theory of the practice.” Experience and knowledge together yield the highest results. Through natural alignment with the “cosmic sequence generator”, self referential insight occurs, sequentially, systematically, step by step. It is at the door way to Ultimate Reality that purified insight, in its most potent formless form, is met and teased out into the world of action.
In this then, we are not throwing up our hands in surrender relinquishing responsibility, but rather softening our limited edges and permitting the natural expansion of light, always prior, but previously unavailable, to shine more fully. In this fulness we know how to act more skillfully as we engage our will because we are aligned with the source of ALL that is generated. We see, hear, taste more keenly and in that subtlety, we are rendered more potent and capable.
The non-dual Kashmir Śaiva tradition is built on the foundation of the Śiva Sutras, the Tantric equivalent and addition to the Yoga Sutras. From this standpoint, if the Yoga Sutras are the path, the Śiva Sutras are the goal. Comprised of three openings or chapters that each align with a particular method or upaya, the means to achieve what is spoken of, it succinctly and powerfully states the following:
-you are perfect.
-yet your knowledge of that is limited.
-do something about it- hence yoga.
It is not about changing who you are, as you already are perfect; it IS about recognition, authentically knowing that, not as a wish or hope, but the truth of moment by moment existence.
It IS about refinement; how you know who you are; how you know absolutely everything; attaining the highest wisdom, śuddya vidya. This is the Śaiva Tantric path of sādhanā
-where does your identity assemble?
-what do you confess spontaneously?
It is inspirational yes, AND practical so that experience of a more full life is naturally manifested.
It is not a panacea; it IS a path of knowledge, refinement, engagement, fullness, skill and love.
There is work for us to do both internally and externally. First, go in, rest individual awareness in the pure light of consciousness that is the base of every color imaginable; the engine of all manifestation. Then, come out and use your deepened awareness and increased capability in service of life.
Sutra # 1.1 caitanyam ātmā
Consciousness is the Self. That is to say, the great unbounded Consciousness, which is absolutely and completely free in all knowledge and all action, is the true Self, the essential nature of what is.
Sutra #1.6 śakti-cakra-saṃdhāne viśva-saṃhāraḥ
By intense fixed awareness on the collective whole of the śaktis, the separateness of the universe disappears with regard to the Great Consciousness.
[translation Paul Muller-Ortega]
Go in. Clear the debris that prevents this knowing; immerse limited individual awareness in unbounded wholeness; upon emergence, the light of creativity engagement is more available.
Surrender. It is not that we give up, in fact we never give up.
Until the last blessed breath has left the body, there is movement and growth. The question remains what is supporting that growth? And in what direction? There is practice, and many traditions offer this, but what of knowledge?
Knowledge is necessary on so many levels. Knowledge of the foundational principles of the practice we enact, as well as knowledge as signpost, recognition of what is already occurring and what will occur. If we miss this step, we under value and as Abhniavagupta, the great Śaiva Tantra polymath said, a thing unknown may as well not exist. And for far too many the powerful light of their very own existence is simply unknown and way under valued.
How we rectify this, the creation of a circumstance where increased light, in the form of highest knowledge and experience of that knowledge, as opposed to darkened ignorance, is the mission of Śaiva Tantra yogic sādhanā.
Initiatory paths of practice are present in almost every conventional tradition – Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, etc. – as well as every indigenous culture on this planet. It is understood in all cultural traditions that the conventional tradition most often represents the religious aspects of the tradition, while the initiatory paths are the esoteric teachings nested deep inside the conventional aspect of each tradition. These are in a way, “hidden truths” and guides/teachers are needed to assist us in recognizing that which is subtle and tender.
Increase your understanding of surrender, of the relinquishment of limited will.
Increase your knowledge both intellectually, and that of a higher experiential sort.
Act from this higher knowing, and surrender will be the beautiful skillful dance of partnership that life is meant to be.
The Language of Self # 52 August 07, 2018
Is it enough to think something, to feel it with your whole being for it to be real? It can be quite powerful but is it real? Light in whatever form needs to move from the subtle to the manifest to be heard, seen, touched, known, for experience to be shared on the relative level. Gratitude compels appreciation to be expressed. So too do sorrow and pain need to be moved out in order to be released. Two currents, one riding out engaging in life; the other, the path back to source. Our ability to take something in, to go deep into whatever subject or circumstance our attention holds is an invaluable prize.
I made a commitment exactly one year ago to tease out the increased flow of light moving in my life in a more concrete manner and by doing so, expand the light as a whole. One way to do this is to write. So this blog was born. It emerged out of the natural devotion swelling in my heart as the light arose to meet the challenges I was/am experiencing as well as enhance the joys I am fortunate to notice more and more intimately. I want so very much for others to have these tools, to know the gift of support they hold within.
We are householders with responsibilities and joys, people count on us. Our investment whatever it is, compels practical use in life. And we are human, so that investment also needs to provide sublime beauty for the soul. Beauty isn’t ancillary, it may be in the eye of the beholder, but it is fundamental and necessary in order to know the celestial and be most fully human.
The sciences, the arts, poetry and philosophy have the capacity to lift us out of ordinary awareness and know reality in new and wondrous ways, if we have the ‘eyes to see’ and the ‘ears to hear’. They have the capacity to offer an explanation of life, even a template to follow. They each have their own language we must learn in order to understand what is being offered.
Language then is something that is more than mere communication, our capacity for speech is an incredible gift. For the Tantrikas, it is sanctified. By resting awareness in the pure light of consciousness we imbue our very words with light and power.
Meditation is an adventure into the Self. It has the capacity to lift us from the bonds of ordinary awareness and permit seeing in new, expansive, wondrous ways. It too offers a template, a method, a way to view life at its deepest source and more, most importantly, a way to enrich life and in that elevate it.
Two directions are ours for the taking, Why limit ourselves to one? We wake up in the morning and light streams out. We move through the day on this current enacting our social persona in many ways. What is its source, this sense of who we are? How can we expand it and in doing so, bring our skill, talent and capacity to bear more fully? After all, the light must move through this body-mind so we can easily understand the necessity of rendering it potent and clear. I have endeavored this past year to find ways to show the practical and sublime power of such a simple practice.
We must locate the current that rides in. We must experience for ourselves the source from which our light emerges. No amount of words, no matter how heart felt or beautiful can match experience but they can ignite something; they can touch the heart and mind. Light spilling out into manifestation as both cosmic and individual phenomenon and, as the source of the very expression of that manifestation in the form of language. How can we know the light more intimately, more fully?
I am not sure if I will continue now that my year’s experiment is over. What is the result? For whom? What, if anything, has come of it? I can answer this in many ways, on varying levels, but only from my own experience. So it comes down to who is this for? You dear reader to be sure, but clearly me as well. I wonder if the last reason is enough to put more words into a world where few go deep? My heart and mind say yes. If I impact only myself and that results in knowing the light more fully than bring it on. One light can disrupt the darkness. One light can be a beacon. To the degree possible, may we each shine more brightly.