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.
Gifts #59 September 25, 2018
I was given a compliment the other day. It was offered sweetly and came as a lovely surprise to me. I of course, said thank you and put it aside, as my humility has taught me to do. Later, when I had some time to contemplate I brought it out.
Now what I was complimented on was really nothing of my doing. It was the gift of my parent’s co-mingling of genetics, like the shape of our eyes or the texture of hair. It was gift. We do enhance our gifts, an agile mind is made more so through disciplined study, so in that we have something to hold. But I wondered two things.
First, was this a way to enter more deeply the yogic teaching that we are not the agents of our actions? While simultaneously teaching that there is something for us to do? True this compliment had noting to do with my “actions” but how I receive the compliment, and what I do with it, does. So too does the understanding that each gift we are given, and there are so many that simply go unnoticed by us, a real treasure. When they are brought to awareness then what do we do? This leads me to my second thought.
Why are we so often willing to do one of two things with compliments: gently or firmly push them aside as simply not of our doing, and thus dismiss whatever part we have to play; or take it fully on as ours and as such, permit our ego a bit, or a lot, more air to hold us up.
How do we both accept gifts, in whatever form and also acknowledge that at root, we may have had not much to do with it at all? The answer rests in part, with worthiness, intention and subsequent action and of course, connection to the source those gifts arose from.
To accept a compliment fully, to allow it in requires a welcoming space; this speaks of the opening of awareness, as well as our true value. And what do we do with such attention? Do we permit it to just feed our ego, as nice and necessary as that sometimes is, or do we take it to heart? In taking it to heart then, we may examine it and determine its place; perhaps it is something we have cultivated, can further cultivate and nourish; to what use? Finally, what are the ways in which we may offer this; how might we act on this knowledge?
One of the gifts of deep meditation in the Śaiva Tantra tradition is the means, the path cleared for our talents and skills to be brought “on line” as it were. There is much to say about this subject which is spoken of in the third pada of the Yoga Sūtras. Suffice to say, which of us would not like our talent and skill brought to awareness or made more fully apparent? This is not something simply wished for, and there are pre-requisites, things that must be set in motion in order for it to occur. Again, why teachers, guides, are so important.
We look to the myth of Bhairava, the Pine Forest sage. Briefly this myth speaks of sages seated in the Pine Forest practicing and praying for the divine to show up. They have their ideas of what the divine looks like and so fail to recognize when he/she shows up as a beggar in rags, the very fierce form of S̄iva called Bhairava. In failing to recognize him they turn away and thus miss out on the very things they so fervently devotedly and sincerely wanted. A missed opportunity of a very great magnitude.
Where and how is the divine, for are not gifts and talents divine in nature, already showing itself to us in life and we are failing to notice? The discipline of study, feeding the mind, combined with that of meditation practice permits this pratibha, this recognition to occur. So too does our practice of consideration, of contemplation, of journaling.
Terrible things occur in life; challenges and sorrows of every sort. They often present themselves as tearing apart the life we have come to expect and in that we see and feel it as challenge, even disaster. With the weathering of the storm and the passing of time we may come to see it differently. We may look back and say, that crack was the beginning of restructuring my life in ways I never imagined possible. Of course we may feel that we could have come to this new place without that challenge, thank you very much, but we do begin to see challenge in a new, if not altogether benevolent, manner.
People often say things happen for a reason. I am not one of them. I do however feel in my heart, that we are driven to make reason with our mind for what has happened and then compelled to act on it in some manner, in order to bring meaning to the gift of life. Without meaning, life is indeed tragic. Who’s responsibility is it to bring meaning to each individual life?
These are the big questions asked by many traditions, including yoga, specifically, for me, Śaiva Tantra Yoga. Are the answers you hear assisting you in living your fullest life? Are you hearing any answers at all? Are you asking?
How do we bring our gifts to the world; increase our skill? Practice and study, theory to the degree necessary in order to feed the mind, is called for in order to fulfill the injunction stated in the Bhagava Gita that yoga is indeed skill in action.
Share your gifts. There is a sequence, an order: first experience is necessary, then a more full knowing can occur, naturally your light flows out into the world.
Choice Architecture September 18, 2018
There is a theory put forth by behavioral economics that choice is not something we make but rather based strongly on environmental conditions. It states that what we think of as choices made solely within us, by us are actually shaped, rather strongly, by our environment.
We then, the theory postulates, “make up stories” about why we made those particular decisions. And we are very very good at writing this dialogue, so much so we believe we are the sole author.
These architects are shaping our choices. That said, many behavioral scientists stress that there is no neutral choice architecture and that people maintain autonomy and freedom of choice despite manipulations of choice architecture.
The thoughtful design of choice architecture as a means to improve consumer decision-making by minimizing biases and errors that arise as the result of what is called “bounded rationality” is one of the aims of this model. Bounded rationality is the idea that when individuals make decisions, their rationality is limited by the malleability of the decision problem, the cognitive limitations of their minds, and the time available to make the decision.
I am not a behavioral scientist nor a policy maker, though clearly I understand the need for these disciplines, among others, to put forth a premise that seeks to assist individuals in finding a satisfactory solution rather than an optimal one. Who among us has not stood on the cereal isle and faced “choice overload?” But I disagree with my perceived understanding that we must somehow settle for satisfactory as optimal may not ever present itself. Of course this may be a matter of semantics, I acknowledge that. Still optimal arises in reference to choice availability; not only to what is being presented but to what we are present to as well as our skill at response. Both can be refined, deepened and expanded.
I bristle at the notion that I must be manipulated for my own good. Of course there are those who think this because well, I just don’t know any better, especially about policy making, and those that simply want me to buy their products. Either way, my sense of self is greatly insulted.
What shapes decisions at the deepest level is the question the theory of meditation asks? Not only what shapes our decisions but our very thoughts?
Because we don’t know our own mind as it were, we have a difficult time resisting these outside forces. We can of course restrict and shape our external environment to some extent but not always.
We can do something about our inner environment. Always. This too is a choice. One that will have an impact on all subsequent choices.
The karma mala grips us tight with the false supposition that we are the sole agents of all our actions. But we are not. We can see this on the surface when we speak of those who shape our environment and give subtle psychological cues that effect our response to stimuli. These are very powerful because they go deep. To what we might say is unconscious. Leading then to what may be described as unconscious choice that we convince ourselves was made consciously.
Becoming more conscious then is not just a choice made, though it is that, it is also the opportunity to know who we are and in that knowing, to have some real effect as to what takes shape on the surface.
Going deep in meditation is a profound gift that has an impact on those subtle spaces where thoughts are formed and coalesced in two ways:
It clears debris, the clutter that prevents us from seeing what choice might be present; thus we are less at the mercy of habitual patterns of response.
And in doing so, space is created that permits an increase of light to see more expansively; to allow options to enter, combinations of options, that might otherwise not be seen.
We are not the sole agent, there is a powerful full force we seek to align with; one that fuels our every thought word and deed. Of course there is something for us to do, we must act.
Are we acting from the most expanded highest perspective we can? Are you taking full advantage?
Yoga refines the entire body-mind structure on absolutely every level. Asana, movement to bring strength and flexibility to the mind-body; pranayama to move the breath more deeply and freely and most potently meditation, that permits awareness to go deep behind the structures of what we think of as our cognitive self. In doing so, we render that space of mind and ego ever clear.
Don’t be what Daniel Kahneman terms a “lazy thinker” associating your immediate thought, feeling, reaction to a plausible dialogue; if so you will never get to a level of critical thinking of a clearer, deeper sort. This has ramifications for every single choice we make including personal and political.
Whose choice is it anyway?
Good Luck! September 11, 2018
Luck, as defined by Seneca is preparedness meeting opportunity. Many people of genius live by this. It seems to say we make our own luck, we prepare our mind and body with study and practice, and open our senses to become ever more keen, perceptive to what is being presented.
Sounds logical and intuitive, increase expertise and open awareness. If we know what it is we want, then we set about to gain the skills necessary, to open avenues of possible favorable intersection; to network. But what if we don’t know exactly what it is we truly desire? How much more so then are we at the mercy of the condition of that body-mind, of those senses. How do we better prepare?
We may understand preparation, but we don’t understand, or fully so, the nature of expanding opportunity. It often is a very quiet thing. It rarely comes in announcing itself with a drum roll or lightening bolt. How do we open, expand our perspective to take in more and to be ever more curious?
We do our best to clear away obstacles and to clean house as it were. Still life is messy, sometimes glorious so and at other times, more sticky than celebratory.
So which is it? Does god/dess help those who help themselves? Or is it thy will be done?
Do we live by ‘If it’s to be it’s up to me’ or ‘the universe will supply.’ As in most things, its both.
It is the skillful dance of surrender and participation. There is indeed a force that runs through the universe and we seek to open to it, align with it and ride it’s power but that requires more then shutting our eyes and praying for its arising in our awareness. It demands our willing cooperation which first requires a path, a method, a plan.
Just as we know that we must study and practice to gain skill and mastery in anything, so too must we apply this same knowledge and experience to the realm of preparedness and opportunity. At the heart of this is the call to know ourselves more fully and in that knowing bring the best of what we are, what we have to meet and enhance life.
We effect on the surface what we are able; we act as best we can given the present set of circumstances and the skill set available. And we understand the need to increase and deepen both. After all, any action we take is dependent upon the source we draw from.
Many traditions tell us we are not the agent of action; that there is something stronger, brighter, fuller, behind the scene. To rest into this. Lovely. In the next breath we are enjoined to seize the day. Yes! How do we access that something brighter and fuller? Yoga tells us this is our truest nature. And more, how do we then bring that more, that fullness, that wholeness out? How do we utilize our talents and skills to the best advantage? How can we better seize opportunity?
There is so much more to meditation then some restful quiet time that lowers anxiety and slows things down in a busy world. As amazing as that is, there is so much more.
We may understand the regularity of practice in its cumulative effect but without the support of theory as to what is happening, the mind is at a loss, a disadvantage and we risk missing opportunity. This is why teachers, study and community is necessary. Without it there is no recognition.
Without recognition there is no opportunity.
Ganapty is that power of the whole in the yogic pantheon often referred to as the remover of obstacles. It is more precise to say that he, not as a deity but as a value of consciousness, stands in relationship to obstacles. Of course we wish to invoke what will clear our path both in life and in our application of living that life.
We want to clear away the debris, limit the noise that stops us from connecting to our light. We want to learn how to ride that light outward and then apply it with precision and accuracy. And never forget, as refinement of the body-mind takes place it both increases the knowing and availability of the light as well as changes the very place, the vessel, particularly the mind that receives, and the senses that take in absolutely everything. This refinement is the alchemic transformation that is the hallmark of the non-dual Śaiva Tantra tradition.
It takes both surrender and increased expertise. As the Bhagavad Gita says: Yoga is skill in action. There is something for you to do. Refine your body-mind, your senses. Trust in your self, your highest ever evolving self. Bring “luck” to your life in the sweetest, deepest way possible. Meditate.
Respect Rest # 56 September 03, 2018
Today is Labor Day in the USA. The day when we collectively rest our working selves and honor the many roles we take in life. It’s got me thinking about resting. I mean truly deeply resting. It is so sweet and yet so hard for us humans to truly rest unless of course we are unconscious, as in sleep, or compelled as in a designated day off, or illness or some other forced circumstance. Not surprising as we live in a society that prizes doing.
Deep rest is really a dynamic alive circumstance yet I tend to treat it solely as an obligatory reset button necessary to fuel my “real life” instead of the sweet companion it is. I am a mover, a dancer, an engager and I love to feel my heart pumping, my blood surging, my brain firing! I live to collaborate with everyone I come into contact with. The gifts of relationship are just too wonderful to sit alone by myself.
And yes we understand that rest is necessary for the support of all that firing, after all the human body-mind is designed to create. But it’s time I give rest its rightful R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Rest isn’t checking out; in fact it’s really checking in. Attuning, aligning with what we need to be our best and there are many many ways to do so. While sitting down and reading a good book by the ocean or watching an entertaining movie or speaking with a dear friend offers rest from our moving, working life or life as we most ordinarily think of it, and offers amazing necessary benefits, it is not the active rest I am examining. Nor is day dreaming, as lovely as it can be to let the mind wander, rest in the deepest sense because well, the mind is still active.
When I stop and sit with myself, by myself I find that my brain doesn’t seem to get the message. She, the me of my intellect, simply will not quiet as there is too much calling to it. And besides, it feels like a waste of precious time while I am awake.
There are untold benefits in reposing deeply within. I want to rest with myself, by myself and remain aware of the collaboration while not engaging. In other words, I long to rest and be aware that that is what I am doing; not do something that is called rest because it is not what I usually do; or numbing myself to whatever reality is presenting and in that, not so much rest, as check out.
Rest as a pure experience is the most refreshing, rejuvenating practice there is. It supports and nourishes absolutely everything else we do in life. And it takes, in a word, just that, practice. We feel what a good night’s sleep does for our mental, physical and emotional capacity. Hopefully we give it the respect it deserves. Meditation does this on a deeper, subtler level and it is powerful.
Of course to sit with self means to confront the messiness of our inner territory; the often agitated or conversely stupefied quality of the mind. That’s hard. That’s why there is something to learn, a method and knowledge to be had to support that practice. Distancing ourselves from this necessary confrontation with distraction, even if it is a wanted one, only serves to postpone the inevitable and increase its power. Ignoring it will do nothing to assist in its change. And, ultimately that’s what we are after isn’t it? True deep lasting change. A change that can never be enacted solely from the surface. We must go deep and in that depth rest.
In dynamic rest we increase the body’s natural power to heal. In doing so daily we choose to intelligently collaborate with the power that animates, supports and sustains life. We ride that increasing wave of power that rids the body-mind of agitation and stupor thereby, spontaneously expanding the light of our own individual consciousness. The fullness of that light pours itself into the many roles we inhabit increasing our capacity to enact, to enjoy and to be steady.
We become efficacious and joyful, not hypnotized and held captive; we are steady, rooted in our light, not removed from reality.
“I will rest when I am dead” is the proud refrain of a doer, a mover, a shaker; a so called ‘disrupter’ of the old model. Life is short there is no time to waste. True that. So let’s intelligently apply our time. Let’s get clear on exactly what it is we want to do. Let’s apply the most potent power and juice to the effort. Let’s get plugged in to the cosmic generator as it were!
Rest your social persona(s) deeply in the silent source of your creative force then emerge firing on ALL cylinders. Powerfully hit your target each and every time. I am realizing, I who love collaboration, that the most important collaborator I have is right under my nose resting in my own heart. I’m taking advantage of resting in her embrace today and every day so that I can do more, be more fully alive.
Live fully. Respect rest, meditate.
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.