Vote. Please Just Vote. # 63 October 30, 2018
What has exercising our right to vote got to do with the practice of meditation? In a word, freedom.
It may seem that one vote means nothing. There is a real chance, in some places and under certain circumstances, that it may not even be counted and even if it is, no one is listening. So why bother?
It is our birth right. Don’t let any one take any of your rights as a human away from you. When we do not stand up to be counted, we acquiesce, we turn away; we stay hidden in the shadows. Of course, you may not know what you really and truly think or feel. You may not know your own heart and mind. That is indeed a tragedy of great magnitude.
There are many ways to educate oneself, but whatever method chosen, it must be enacted by the individual. It cannot be spoon fed, regurgitated via the digestion of others and then poured into our brain and heart. We must do the work. And to do it well, the vessel we take information into must be refined, opened and made optimal; the mind clarified and sharp, the body supple and strong; the sense of self, healthy and secure. We must come to know who we are at deepest core and in that, we naturally gravitate and engage with those things that support the growth of Self. Then, any and all expressions on the surface of life are also supported and given the best opportunity to blossom. We must know the light in order to bring light to bear in any circumstance.
This is where yoga, in all its forms, but most potently deep meditation, excels.
When we fail to see, understand, recognize, appreciate, open to, accept, merge with and eventually take full radical and complete possession of our own highest, deepest, most extraordinary light, we are incapable of truly seeing that light anywhere else. And in our own failure to do so, what are the consequences? How have we lived those consequences? How are we continuing to perpetuate the consequences of that refusal, that resistance? How is it showing up in our lives?
Fundamentally we are bringing the light to bear at root; we are not just counteracting at surface, though this indeed necessary. We are householders, people fully immersed in the world and we need a practice that permits us to engage in every and all circumstances. We yearn to bring our best always; when the world is harsh, painful and tragic as much as when it is bright and pleasing.
With deep meditation, we are creating the condition more and more where the darkness and construction of circumstance is met with the counteracting natural force of light that has been expanded into our awareness vis a vie deep practice.
Light naturally arising from the depths to dissolve contraction in any and all forms. Eventually it is eradicated at root and because the light is full and all pervasive, there is no potential for darkness to come into being.
Kula, has many meanings in the context of yoga. It is the group of individuals who have received the same initiatory teachings or the same set of initiatory practices; it is the embodied cosmos. On an individual level, it is the prana or life force, the senses and 5 elements, i.e.the mind/body; and it is family or blood relatives.
There is also kula as body. In this sense, we understand that the health of each individual cell fuels and contributes to the health of the whole being. This is not just true of the individual but of that individual in various groupings and society at large.
You matter. What you do matters. Your actions, including the decision not to act, to stay out of “politics” has consequences.
Vote, Please just vote. And then come home and bask in your light.
Go deep. #62 October 23, 2018
They go low, we go high. They stay shallow, we go deep.
There is a common theme in the Tantric tradition, emphasized by Abhivinivagupta, that we take the traditional or conventional understandings, rituals, and practices and then interiorize them. Rather than understand them at the surface level of life, we find their inner-most meaning. How we can experience their deepest values and apply them directly to our lives?
The triadic school of yoga, named Trika, speaks of many triads. There is will, knowledge and action; manifestation, maintenance and dissolution, and the triadic structure of knower, object known and means of knowing. Ordinary awareness is the condition in which me, as the knower is so entranced by the object held within my grasp, via the particular means of knowing, (many types, most common: direct, inferred, revealed) that the sense of self is overshadowed. The stronger the attraction or revulsion, the more hidden that knowledge or sense of self is. This is not a bad thing as it permits absorption so necessary to perform, enjoy and handle any and all circumstances that arise. We are absorbed in a good book or movie or concert; we even say, ‘we lose ourselves’.
The problem is, we take this partial knowing as our full self. We risk the sad limitation of believing the ‘play is the only thing’, the whole thing. We never come to know who we truly are at heart, and thus continue to act on the stage of life with a partial script. We possess incomplete knowledge, knowledge that is missing key information and thus our experience too is partial. Therefore whatever we think, manifest or act upon will also be limited and riddled with ignorance. Ignorance that is two fold: we take the limited self to be the whole story, the whole truth; and are ignorant of the fact that there is anything else to know. In other words, we identify our self primarily as the mind-body, limitations and all and we shouldn’t; we do not recognize and identify as the Great Consciousness, unbounded and free and we should.
Everyday we awake and from someplace deep within, awareness rides out in huge streams of light; alighting on objects, filling the senses. This is the powerful outward current, captivating and natural, named vama. We do not need to do anything, awareness simply rides out and captures attention.
In deep meditation, we locate its opposite; we locate the inward current, named jyestha that is also natural and very powerful, but must first be found and the path cultivated. Then, as individual consciousness naturally turns inward and traverses those ever subtle bands of awareness, it comes to rest in the turya, 4th, state. Like a stirred glass of water, consciousness comes to rest from a state of flurry and activity, with less available power on the surface, in the way that the surface is always fluctuating and shallow, to a place of settledness that is deep and in the way of depth, powerful and quiet. This state, in which a sublime condition arises, is a state that is neither awake, as in outward engagement, nor dreaming, as in semi consciousness; nor is it deep sleep in which unconsciousness prevails. This state is new and surprising; sweet and tender and vibrating with silence.
So we have the knower (pramātṛ), the process of knowing (pramāṇa), and the knowable object (prameya). This triadic structure is symbolized as the fire (the knower), the sun (the process of knowing), and the moon (that which is known). Here the triadic structure, so strong on the outward relative plane, looses its power and simply falls away, collapses. In this moment, the knower has nothing holding individual consciousness mesmerized, and it is freed. Freed to stand facing itself. Individual consciousness stands in relationship to its source absolute Consciousness writ large, by means of the heart seed mantra, itself pure vibratory consciousness (given and made potent via initiatory diksha) and we say say, consciousness faces consciousness by means of consciousness alone.
In this sublime moment we are stripped bare and wholeness, perfection is revealed, divinity known; we are full, satiated. Upon emergence awareness brings something of this sweetness back to the surface and that ordinary triadic stricture is elevated, expanded. In truth we come to know that there is nothing ordinary about awareness or life at all. This is not something we can talk ourselves into or purchase; we cannot earn it though there is indeed something for us to do.
How fully do you see, know? What do you experience? Expand, deepen and cultivate awareness, for this determines the depth of awareness of absolutely everything. Forge the pathway, develop the habit of going deep in meditation, then anywhere attention is placed naturally, spontaneously go deep and pierce to the core. Yes we must continue to feed the mind, the intellect; we must hone, refine and heighten senses, all of them. We must increase our skill.
Importantly, we have the very basic understanding of the condition of the vessel itself, the state of consciousness of the knower, individual awareness, that will always determine and color whatever we perceive, have access to, experience and act upon. More, the heightened state of the knower, refines and expands the object itself as well as the means and process of doing so.
We want to immerse ourselves in the light, in the fire of consciousness. Not to merely understand it at some intellectual level, but to experience it directly and permit, cooperate, in opening our senses, our mind, our physicality to the entire expanse of possibility. We want to burn impurities, refine what is beautiful, reduce ALL to its fundamental constituent, freeing the mind rendering it clear and ready for astonishing insight. We do not wish to be cut off from that which is source and support. We want direct immediate access to the trajectory of growth that brings meaningfulness to life in the face of confusion, fragmentation and chaos.
Go deep. They go low, we go high. They stay shallow, we go deep. In that depth we are able to make leaps and bounds of unimaginable lengths.
Be a Warrior! # 61 October 16, 2018
What defines a warrior? Poise, readiness, skill, courage, focus and the desire to be in the thick of things. Householders are yogis who embrace both a spiritual practice and living fully in the world. The desire to positively impact life and the skill to do so is supported by time spent in the dynamic silence of deep meditation. In other words, Tantricas are warriors!
While the desire to remove oneself from the messiness of life is natural and indeed necessary, we need respite, there is a difference between removing oneself, detaching from the world as goal and doing so in a temporary manner, with the firm conviction that life, to be embodied, is a gift to be unwrapped each and every day.
This distinction is what defines the renunciate and householder paths. Each path is beautiful and serves the individual practitioner with love, support and a stated goal. But many are living as householders, one who has responsibilities and the desire to be fully present in and of the world, while attempting to embody renunciate practices that are working to the opposite effect.
There is a metaphor used to illustrate this teaching that comes to us from Ayurveda called the ashaudi nyaya, that states: the right ingredients, in the right amount, given at the right time will yield the best results. We want the best results always and so we go to experts of every sort to ensure we are participating in the best manner possible.
Yoga is a beautiful umbrella with many practices nestled under its canopy. To receive its most potent benefits, we need teachers who are themselves both practitioners and students, with the knowledge, the understanding via experience, of the sequential process that will yield the highest result. The choice is ours alone; yoga as a grab bag or as true sādhanā with a systematic body of practices that supports and enriches life whatever you wish to do.
Life is short. There is no time to waste time going down roads that may or may not get us to our desired destination. Or worse, wander aimlessly not caring where we end up. Know what you are engaged in and why; make sure that what you practice supports your highest goal. Be a warrior for a life well and fully lived. Meditate, contact me and learn this simple, effective, powerful householder practice.
Measure of Worth # 60 October 9, 2018
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. I heard this phrase the other day and thought, how true. We compare ourselves, our lives and all the details that give it shape and often, very often, this comparison brings sorrow, a sense of being not quite up to par; not as good. And in that conclusion we are to one degree or another devastated and further separated.
The invitation to stop comparing is a good one. It is meant to have us celebrate our uniqueness and to be grateful for what we have been given and most importantly for who we are. This of course begs the question, exactly who am I?
I am a woman, wife, sister, friend. I am a yogi and a student. Despite what I believe, I am of a certain race, ethnic background and socio-economic level, all of which color the cues, subtle and gross I embody. I do my best to be aware of what this sum total brings to my thinking, my speaking, my being. I take the seat of the teacher in my work and I delight in all these rolls. Yet they do not tell the whole story.
We live in a world of duality, the sun rises and sets; there is light and dark; comparison is an inherent component. We must use the skills of comparison when choosing which school to attend, which home to live in, what car to drive, what philosophy to embrace. We must compare when deciding where our skills are best utilized.
In seeking to not compare we must take care that we are not muddying the water with the brown hue of “its all the same”. It is not all the same. Some things are decidedly better than others; some people more suited to one field of work than another. Some individuals have more resources which brings more choice. You get the idea. We need our facilities of discernment not to be dulled but to be heightened and clarified.
These two arenas, knowing self and clarifying our faculty of thinking and discernment, are key in embracing the uniqueness of who we are as individuals and navigating life with skill. Skill is what permits us to embrace joy and weather challenge knowing full well one is much more desired than the other. Ah, there’s comparison again. Skill, anchored in a true knowing of who we are, is what permits that joy to bubble up without clinging to what will surely end, and to weather what feels as though it never will, without the walls of prison closing shut.
Just as we understand sameness is never the response of life in a world of duality and multiplicity, so too must we come to understand that to announce prematurely that at heart we are all the same is to risk causing harm and suffering both to those who announce and those who hear. The proclaimer may have goodness and healing in mind wishing only to bring comfort, but without knowledge of that unity, it is just words; and the one who hears has a life that perhaps does not measure up to that announcement and so feels even more separate, more other. The question is always what do we experience? Not as a philosophical platform, but what do we truly experience moment by moment in life?
The practice of yoga, and yoga is a body of practices beyond asana, is one way to address those two arenas, knowing self truly and deeply at the core of being and clarifying the space in which all thoughts are received and incubated. In the process we create what my meditation teacher calls a “ledge of freedom” that permits the expansion of space as well as access to the silence necessary to really hear, and then act in a manner of our choosing; one that reflects our deepest values as well as presents our unique offering to the world in order to create the best life possible. In this we freely add to the beauty of diversity while holding the knowledge, via experience, of the wholeness inherent at source. We are able to embrace both the spectacular diversity the world has to offer and know at heart, because we’ve experienced at source, that we are all indeed the light of consciousness reflected in that diversity.
It is the practice of yoga, particularly meditation, that permits the experience of this knowing. Our time on this earth is short, there is none to waste. Are you practicing in a way that supports your deepest desire? Or are you picking from a grab bag of bright things that may or may not be designed to support those efforts?
Without knowing the measure of our true worth, we will always under value it despite what is announced on the outside. What is the method and the ingredients that will reveal this; in what sequence and amount? There are other disciplines that speak of this path, if yoga is your chosen philosophical framework be clear that it includes more than asana and sometime contemplation; be clear that the practices you do include knowledge gained to assist in the blossoming of both. There is a reason, that no matter the path, it is called discipline.
Comparison need not be the thief of joy if we are rooted in the source of our truest self; the colorless light from which each individual light derives its color, brightly, proudly and joyously displayed. The mind rendered clear, focused and expansive, discernment becomes a joy as we embody the freedom of choice a true collaborator in this one wild and courageous life.