I am so very tired of doubt. I want it gone. I crave certainty!
The teachings of Abhinavagupta, master Siddhi, tell us that doubt is itself a form of the goddess. All thought emotion, etc is the rising of creative energy from its oceanic source taking form in the individual mind. As such, it is a gift in that it comes from that source and it drives one to seek clarity.
Paradoxically, it is that very impetus of the creative force of nature that is also the fertile ground for doubt.
An invitation of some sort arises and with it questions. Is this right? How do I bring the thing about? Can I do it? Am I good enough? The list goes on. If answers of ‘certainty’ arise, if clarity is attained, we may indeed view doubt as a gift. Yet there is dilemma here best stated by Plato: Dear Crito, your zeal is invaluable, if a right one; but if wrong, the greater the zeal the greater the evil; and therefore we ought to consider whether these things shall be done or not.
How do we know? Answers are not static, as nothing in life is static.
In doubt, there is a gift if it drives us to seek knowledge, to refine. Of course there is the fundamental question, what is the nature of both the knowledge gained and the mind receiving it? Doubt can also be problematic in that it creates indecision, distrust and inaction. The mind swirls unable to move, caught in a rip tide of its own created uncertainty.
We seek certainty yes, and the wise understand, held too tightly, certainty kills the very thing valued. It inhibits refinement and growth. We must wrap it around us like a warm blanket that comforts and offers security yet allows for movement. A blanket wrapped too tight suffocates; air must be allowed in for life to be sustained.
These are interesting points of contemplation and a wonderful springboard for philosophical discussion. We are after more.
How can I view, more to the point, experience, doubt and certainty together as a gift? How do I refine my sense of knowing?
Once again, we come to the gift that keeps on giving: meditation.
As we naturally move individual awareness to its oceanic source, releasing for a time, our sense of structured, limited self, we permit deep rest to take place. When awareness moves back to its patterned self, as it must do, it is changed, however imperceptible and subtle that change may be. The mind, the whole being is refreshed, renewed and space is opened; perspective increased. The daily dying of the cloth of individual awareness, in the vat of its oceanic source, is itself a continual act of recommitment; a reaffirmation of our yearned for growth as more fully realized human beings.
Acknowledge doubt, address it; seek experts of every kind but ultimately, we make the decision. We want the apparatus that makes the decision, our mind, to be clear, fertile and as light filled as possible so that decisions made may be the highest at that moment. And nothing in life is static.
Experience the joy of certainty as it arises, yet hold it lightly. Give doubt its due and address again and again. In this we are not holding or maintaining, but constantly, with deep commitment, reaffirming. Yes, this is right.
It is very hard for the human mind to hold two contradictory things at the same time, cognitive dissonance arises. We live in a world of duality, yes/no; right/wrong; me/them. Yet we long for unity and in that unity, the acknowledgement and space to let our individual ‘freak’ flag fly. We cannot talk ourselves into this unity- just look around in the world. We cannot legislate it no matter how well crafted the law.
This is a change, a realization, that must take place in each individual heart and mind. As the individual goes, goes the partner, the family, the group, the town, the state, the country, the world.
We seek to cultivate space, room to grow and express on every level. Meditation permits individual awareness to recognize and hold the space between any two things that are inherently present in the realm of duality. In this, we are more and more capable of standing on our ‘ledge of freedom’ in the space between. From here, life is not either/or but both/and. When the mind-body is refined and perspective is increased, choice increases and right action becomes more apparent.
We must choose, we are always choosing; not acting, is a choice. Refine the vessel that makes every choice. Expand the space that permits the ledge of freedom to be known and lived from. Meditate.
Remembrance August 21, 2021
Waves rise and what is produced shines in both joy and sorrow. Then it is gone. Washed away but remembered for a time. Oh time, such a fickle companion! Even during my short time here on this earth what I long to remember is lost. Where does it go?
The shape of things morph, fade, becomes ersatz. Ancestors, lineage, loved ones, a thread held for a time, then lost no matter the intention to hold clear and true. Yet we pull and we find we are always connected. The trees stand guard. And even they are felled. Is there a place of true remembrance?
Perhaps it is the essence, not the specific details but the core essence that is truly remembered. After all, all that is left is Love.
We are connected whether we know it or not. When we come together for even a short time, we remember and we draw strength. We are nourished to live life fully and respond in the best way possible at this moment in time.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir
Meditation is a process, not an inoculation which is why we call it practice, and it is cumulative in nature. Which means it is growing, expanding daily. We do not judge any one meditation session subjectively-- the same is true for life’s tests. That said, this does not mean we do not have preference for better outcomes. Not only is this normal, it is desired.
This understanding assists the recognition that life’s many challenges are not only opportunities but the very mechanism that strengthens the practice and ultimate result.
Tomorrow Will be More Evolved. We have a part to play in making this a true reality. As we continue along the path of our desired freedom, we realize practice is our choice and it is for life; we are not children easily swayed by the next shinny object nor adolescents needing to rebel at every turn. We are adults and we practice Adult Spirituality.
Practice is what permits life’s challenges to be more and more successful.
These episodes, noticing the manner in which we respond can be painful as we grow. Because as we grow in the recognition of our behavior and subsequent response, so too do we grow in our knowing we can do better. Now, we come to see that when we fall short of the highest mark, we have not failed, even though we want better outcomes, but rather tempering the body-mind as it were, like iron forged in fire. As we refine our senses and sense of the subtle we notice the changes that are occurring— this is a powerful feedback loop.
Humans need measurement. We want to know, am I getting somewhere? Is this worth it? Recognition, pratybhijnnā in Sanskrit is prized. As we deepen our understanding of this we contribute to the deepening of our practice and progress altogether.
Daily meditation is the simple, potent journey to the heart that nourishes life.
It’s always exciting to see science gaining in ways to measure what many have experienced and intuited for eons. Indeed meditation from the non-dualist Shaiva Shakta Tradition is called “the science of consciousness.” Then there is grace, mysterious and utterly free. The practice of meditation, brings so many benefits as it naturally heightens awareness, increases intelligence through the refinement of the mind-body and opens perspective to simply “let the mystery be.”
Neelakantha Mediation is so compelling because it offers not only the tools put forth to practice, but the why and how, the theory that supports that practice. Not based on belief but rather on experiential knowledge that is nurtured through intellectual theory.
Here are two short videos about a physicist who is theorizing that everything is made out of consciousness and that we are unable to perceive it. The first video is a good explanation of the theory, and the second video is a TED talk by the physicist. I think you will enjoy them. I found them affirming and very consistent with the philosophical aspect of meditation put forth as the theory of consciousness in Kashmir Shaiva from which the practice of Neelakantha Meditation arises.
If you are inspired, let me know what you think.
Experts say we have 150 unconscious biases give or take. Know why we don’t know that? Because they are unconscious.
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?