Monday, December 11, 2017

Priority and Clarity

From birth till death is just a blink of the eye, so it is very important to gain clarity.   Old people always say how fast life goes and young people never listen.   People just get swept up into the momentum of conditioned life with various desires without even truly understanding what they want or if what they are told to want is worthy.   One should at the very least take some time to examine what is important to them, and see if how one is moving in life reflects those priorities.   Many times people on their deathbed not only have regrets, but also clarity about what was truly meaningful (and often the regret is of not giving more time/importance to what was truly meaningful).   Therefore, a good exercise in properly examining one's life and priorities is to bring forth the presence of death which breaks momentum and gives perspective.   If one is completely earnest in the practice, then one should feel like they are dying, and from this view life should be regarded.   This practice is good not only for helping one gain clarity about priority, but also in stripping away other voices of influence.  While the notion of an "authentic self" cannot stand in the face of reality (and indeed the voices of others are entangled in notions of self), there is an authentic voice and/or expression which is effortlessly present with deep integrity.   For most, their treasured uniqueness isn't very unique, but rather a collection of conditioning via biology, parents, and culture (with even the apparent struggle against or rebellion being influenced and within a conditioned paradigm).   When we strip bare various notions of self, we also strip away the various influences.   When speaking about meaning (and what in one's life is truly meaningful), it is important not to mistake sentiment for wisdom, as the function of conditioning is to give emotional and reinforced response.   Your family, your job, your country, these are all meaningless.  This is not to say that one cannot demonstrate or discover great meaning through them, but that they have no inherent meaning in themselves.  The previous sentence is certainly a qualifier that pacifies the sentimental response, and most people tend to think they are not most people, but for most people those aspects remain meaningless.  This is because all those aspects are tied and given importance via a non-existent self, and also because of labeling (labeling is an important aspect of conditioning whereby a collection of sounds (words) which are without meaning or substance in themselves are given great emotional import/meaning.).  If your father or daughter is hurt or killed, it is a great tragedy effecting you, but if it happens to someone else's family, then you don't much care.  Partial cannot co-exist with the pervasive.  If through the medium of family, one discovers a pervasive love that is impartial, then family can be said to have meaning (although the label would still be without inherent meaning).   The exercise with death should also show one that one's family will go (or you'll go from them).  Not only will one be separated, but one will be useless to help them (until one is impartial).   Culture is another form of conditioning which gives people large blind spots.  There are aspects of life that if pointed out one would say "of course" because thats just the way it is.  While unseen, these factors largely influence not only how people move in the world, but also what they give value to.   It is very instructive to encounter a different culture to expose one's own blind spots and areas of life that were never questioned.  Interestingly, it is very easy as an outsider to see the hangups and unquestioned aspects in a different culture.  As the world shrinks, there is also a general culture which is unquestioned like religion.  This would be hard to define, but it is like the general canvas of a painting.  Even people who disagree vehemently are painting on the same canvas, just on different edges, as they all acknowledge certain assumptions.   However, one looking to find true authenticity need to burn down even the canvas upon which various views dwell.   While those adhering to more conventional models may take offense at their family, job, and culture being called meaningless, the conventional model via conditioning always seeks to define meaning or meaninglessness.  For example,  if there is a get together with friends or family and you miss it, only to be asked 'why didn't you come?"  If one says "I had to work", then this is final and the matter is dropped.  However, if one says "i was meditating" or "i was resting" etc., then this will not be seen as a good excuse.  The reason for this, is that one is given meaning and the other not (and work culture is a vast area of identity conditioned via indoctrination, propaganda, and is a huge blind spot which layers other areas of culture).  Now lets say that one did indeed attend this get together, and one gets to talking to someone there.  One is asked "what are you up to?", and the reply is "i've been studying philosophy", which makes the person ask "where?"   If one says, "at the University of So- and So", then this will have meaning, but if one says "you know, just at my house in my free time", then this will get an eye roll.  This is because the culture defined meaning.  So getting back to the matter of one examining and determining how to move in life and what is one's priorities, the tangent which demonstrated the various means of influence is important because those voices need to be striped.   To apprehend the authentic, one need to recognize influence, and when something arises to see :"that is my mother speaking", "that is america or india speaking", or "that is just an assumption or hearsay", then clarity dawns.  One should even strip clear of all spiritual notions that one has.  Often, one hears something and it may resonate, but if its not experienced or realized, then it just remains a concept or can even be an obstruction.  With experiment, if the researcher already has notions of the result, then this pollutes the findings.  If something is true or truly realized, then it will be there.  If something needs to be reinforced or affirmed, then it is not worth keeping.  Throw everything into the fires and see what remains.  Even genuine realizations needs to be refined in those fires.  One seeking truth should never be afraid of being exposed, one should take real joy in it, as it is how one grows.  After examining how one wants to live and move (based on seeing what one has as their true priority), then one will move with real confident and persistence.   One's determinations should be actionable, and should be written down.  People make the mistake of thinking certain aspirations are not actionable just because they may be internal.  For example, maybe after doing the practice one determines that love is one's biggest priority.   This should not be left as some kind of abstraction. One could determine that since it is a big priority that they will sit 20 mins everyday to cultivate it and make it expansive.  With practice, one could resolve to move with an expansive heart in all encounters of life.  It is interesting to note that the conventional model would suggest an action like going to feed people at a shelter or something like that.  While this would certainly be a good action, hidden underneath this model is the view that love isn't something real, that is is just a sentiment (therefore the only real thing would be to participate in materiality).   One may determine through the practice some very practical changes to make like moving to another location or visiting somewhere.  One may even see that they need to leave a relationship or stop hanging out with some friends.  Clarity may dictate additions or subtractions, however when there is clarity, then actions follow smoothly.  Too often, people don't progress or mature properly because they are not clear.  There are too many competing voices.  Lack of integrity is primarily due to two factors, lack of clarity and not admitting errors (a future topic).   Hopefully this meandering post helps with the former.   Even for one not spiritually inclined, it is certainly worth a few minutes to examine how to most authentically move in one's life.  Otherwise, we are just pushed to the grave via signposts of parents, school, work, relationship, old age, sickness, and death.   Just move death up a few places, and see if a new perspective is gained.   

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kumbhak

When speaking about mantra with kumbhak, it is important to have some understanding of both outer and inner tantra.   Kumbhak means pot, and in the context of sadhana refers to the retaining of breath whereby the body becomes the pot.  When working with a Vidya, the form of the Devata is the outer tantra, which means that the one doing the sadhana "assumes" that form.   The mantra is the subtle vibration and expression which corresponds to the form.   Mantra is also (or can be) the link/pin between the outer and inner tantra.   This means that mantra can get one's vital elements to resonant in deep accord with the devata.  One may put one's mind in full concentration on a Deity, but if it doesn't "hit home" (i.e. if one's vital experience is completely different), then there will be obstruction.  The inner tantra refers to three main elements which when integrated form the complete expression.  These elements are the vayus, nadis, and bindus.   When the inner and outer tantra is in accord, then there is complete integrity of experience.    There are several ways to bring about this integrity of experience, and each need not be independent of the others.   Deep sincerity is even a path of integration, as one in this state will be very open, this openness in terms of inner tantra, loosens the patterns/holds of the vital elements which allows them to seamlessly integrate.   Just the mantra japa (with outer tantra) may result in inner tantric accord, but one would really needs to have openness and then put the entirety of their Being in line with the mantra/devata.  The more forceful way of developing this integration is performing the mantra with kumbhak.  Before even starting practice with kumbhak, one should have a good amount of experience in the vidya and complete at least one purashcharan.  Mantra when combined with kumbhak gets refined in unique ways, and the vital elements get refined as well.   With the pot breath, the prana is pushed down, while the apana comes up, both meeting/mingling in the navel area.   Ultimately,  the energy should enter the central nadi, but traditions vary on particular processes and kriyas.   The perfection of kumbhak leads to a deeper understanding and interaction with the bindu principle which is the very essence of Being.  Bindu is also the vital principle in conception and forming new life.   Bindu is also great bliss when experienced, and is the gateway to one's enlightened essence and compassion (as essential/vital quality rather than mere sentiment).  While understanding the gross aspects of biology and conception (via seed and egg), bindu is the subtle principle which sparks consciousness and life.   The bindu principle is a whole topic in itself, and is at the heart of several sadhanas which are widely misunderstood (most notably consort sadhanas), but suffice it to say that the mastery of kumbhak is the quickest path in greater understanding of bindu.  One round of mantra on one kumbhak is the beginning level, so one practices to get to this level.  Five rounds on one kumbhak is intermediate level, while ten plus shows some mastery.   While the length of the mantra can differ (and to some extent determine one's immediate capacity), ultimately it is not much of a factor once a deeper understanding is gained.  Proceeding in this more forceful way can be dangerous, so it is advised that one is guided by someone with real experience.   Moreover, when conducting sadhanas which quickly hasten result, one should understand that everything is hastened.  Therefore, latent tendencies, emotions, and even sicknesses may arise.  It is very important that once one starts certain sadhanas that they are seen completely through.  Much of the so-called "testing" that a sadhak may endure before receiving certain works, is about determining one's persistence, as persistence is very important for many practices.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Abhishek

With unitive wisdom, there is great potential to seek and gain inspired company.   This means that once one understands that everything manifests from the primordial ground (i.e. one's own Awareness), the obstruction of doubt is removed which allows one to invoke presence (via presence) without limits.   While settling in Awareness, one needs only to invoke with openness, connect, and then resonate (i.e. find energetic accord with).  This is a great way to receive blessings which further progresses one on the path.   Many, even having been on the path for sometime, still have the subtle feeling that "it" is somehow elsewhere.  The "it" in this case refers to one's own enlightened nature, as well as embodiments of it (either devata, guru, or various saints).   When one overcomes this obstacle of view, then there arises confidence.  To invoke in confidence (and love) holds a power of command and immediacy.  The invocation stemming from perceived weakness or need lacks immediacy and stems from a perceived self (which interferes with openness and connection).  The "beggar" approach seems more humble, but is arrogant, while truly embracing one's nature seems arrogant but is humble.   The understanding of "without limits' means just that, and any element of Awareness that manifests, may do so.  If one wants to understand or seek the company of any Devata then one can do so.  In this case, the principle of openness should be complete, in so far as one does not dictate in any way what that manifestation "should" be like.  Like a double blind experiment, even the views of the "researcher" should effect result.   There does need to arise an intuitive point of connection for the initial invocation (which may require some type of view), but even this should arise in an openness and a willingness to experience (as it is).   Humans have a great legacy of awaken ancestors, and one may connect with various saints (even after they have left this world).   Often times, these adepts who have taken human incarnations are easier to connect with then devatas.  There is even the view  that these beings are greater, since they were willing (or have) experienced this realm.  To have a certain view from a throne is much different than having that same view while in the muck.  From the perspective of non-conceptual Awareness, there is neither time or space, so presence need not be influenced by either.  When one is feeling stuck or stagnant on the path, doing the practice to receive blessings from great beings will remove obstacles and propel one forward.  (In some cases, one may even receive subtle teachings and dikshas.)  If one reads about some deity or saint that inspires, then why be satisfied with just information and words, when one may put their entire being into that presence (i've written about surrender and accord, which is very applicable in these terms as well).   Those beings who have taken as their heart path the intention to see all being liberated are more than happy to receive those of great sincerity.   Like osmosis, if one continually puts their being in line with a Guru or a deity, then without effort, one will begin to take on the same qualities and realizations.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Realized Expression

(From an email)

Question: While nurturing the seeds of realized expression, how does one destroy the seeds of ignorance?


Answer: 
Adesh!

In many ways, to nurture the seeds of realized expression is to destroy the seeds of ignorance.  In the context of the tantric vidya, what it is at heart is the path of accord and resonance.  That accord and resonance is called Guru, Devata, and Mantra, and each is seen in the other or more boldly stated each IS the other.  So when ones own Being is placed into accord, then there is a resonance. In keeping with a musical nature, let us view accord as chord and resonance as vibration.  So within that analogy, if Guru, Devata, and Mantra is a Jazz song, and one completely surrenders into and becomes that Jazz song, then anything which is out of chord (or vibrational resonance) is clearly seen as such.  This is an organic wisdom, and wisdom is the antidote of ignorance.  In Tantra , the wisdom arrises organically precisely because it is a path of energetic accord.  Therefore, there isn't a discrepancy between awareness (wisdom) and energy (resonance).  In most paths, one is asked to perceive or have the perspective to "hear" the jazz song, even though what is constantly playing is a  hard rock song of ignorance.  However, let me turn the diamond is another way, because the path of accord and resonance is so very easy that many find it difficult (or it is so simple that people need a bit of complexity).  The seeds of ignorance all spring from one source, so instead of striking at every branch and leave which arises, is better to see the root.  The root of all ignorance is the notion of "I" or "ahamkara", so to perceive the utter transparency of the "I" is to destroy the seeds of ignorance.  And there is no "how" about it or anything to be done, as awareness can only perceive the arising and the transparency.   But to understand this, while also creating resonance of expression is what i describe as holding the sword of wisdom which both kills and gives life.  Make no mistake though, to understand the easy path of accord and resonance is also to hold that sword, it is the highest art.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Shishya

True discipleship is a rare quality, almost rarer than manifestations of real Guru.  If one wants to see even the largest of spiritual giants melt and become like a child, then ask them about being a shishya.  A true shishya is always a shishya.  Many believe that merely taking diksha makes one a disciple of the path, but this is not so.  Even being a regular student doesn't measure up to the path of discipleship.  A Guru or a path, no matter how widespread or how many people come around, is lucky if there are 1 or 2 real shishyas.  Nowadays, people dismiss the path of the shishya before even truly entering it.   With clever spiritual jargon, they often use their own lack as some kind of merited relativistic defense.  They use the wisdom expressed and born from empowerment of a real shishya to justify their lack of being one.   A shishya is devoted only to Reality and perfectly realizing it.  They have no agenda other than that.  One cannot become a shishya to improve their life or to learn some spiritual skills to later use.   There is no certificates for a shishya, the universe will tremble and devatas will shower you with petals, but nobody else will give a shit (and a shishya doesn't care).  There are many qualities listed in the Tantras for a shishya, but sincerity and persistence are the most reliable.   People often make the mistake of thinking that a persons spiritual experiences, subtle perception and sharpness, knowledge, and even openness make for a great shishya.  While these qualities can be useful, people of a certain acumen that lack more grounded principles tend to be toe dippers who are clever enough to avoid really putting self in jeopardy while creating a narrative (with spiritual concepts) that they are (and that they are special).  A shishya isn't interested in defending a stance of wisdom, but rather constantly humble "their wisdom" by putting it into the fires (and discipleship is a raging fire).   Students of the path have answers for their "spiritual" friends, while a shishya answers to Dharmaraj.   Students can get bored and restless, and look for other spiritual entertainment, while for a shishya everything is the path, it is unescapable.  The moment one truly becomes a Shishya, their fate is sealed, it is only a matter of time.  True discipleship is the path of Ashirwad, Kripa, and Ananda, and it is the path of mingling and merging.  A shishya will always merge, and their last prayer is the sweetest prayer.  Their last prayer has been their constant prayer.   No one who knows it can say it without crying.  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Integration

One's whole life should be their spirituality.  The various props, be they atmosphere, semantics, or inner rumination should be meaningless.  Often, when people talk about integration of spirituality with life, they do so by suggesting that one bring props into their activities (i.e. say your deity name/mantra while working,  keep your attention inward etc. ).  However, these instructions can and often do work against integration, because they reinforce a reflective quality.   This reflective quality always contains a dualism and results in a person being self conscious.  When reflectiveness and self consciousness are present, then subtle arrogance and pretentiousness creeps in.   Regardless of if we are talking pure awareness or a Devata, there needs to come a point of deep trust and letting go.   By all means, one should do their sadhana, but then after, just move naturally.  If something truly IS then it need not be affirmed, and if it's not, then no amount of grasping will make it so.  Trust is also about trusting one's motives, if one's motives are pure, then one need not continuously "check" oneself.   Moreover, when motives are pure, then there is a humility that one trusts will inform when something does requires reflection.  To move in true integration with awareness or a devata means that one doesn't even know they are doing it.  The moment its known it looses its innocence and spontaneity.   One can never own it, one can never be integrated and special.   To give up the need to know or possess allows one to be effortless.  When we give all of ourselves in our sadhana, then it is easy to move naturally in life, with joy and humor.  When truly placing one's heart into the uncompromising stream of Reality (and letting it be what it is, not what I want it to be or think it should be), then there is an almost cathartic effect to life after, whereby it is all just play.  Then if aspects of our sadhana do arise in our life, they are no longer props, but mudras or powerful lightening like snapshots in the landscape of time/space.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Aghora Ethics

The stories of Aghora masters are ripe with tales of unconventional,wild and fickle behavior.  Indeed, even the means of puja or blessings given by these masters deviate from the norms.  Many a time, even a swift beating was the delivery system of grace.  However, people of wisdom know that there are different elements in how the world is perceived; namely, how things are and how things appear to be.  Most people not only fall into the latter category of perception, but are not even that well equipped doing that.  Therefore, it is important to understand that the descriptions of various master Aghoris comes from on-lookers, and that these masters did not define themselves into any role.  In fact, these masters were simply in the natural state, which is wholly uncontrived lacking even the stain of piety.  Without the burden of conventional sentimentality born of attachment and identification, these masters were free to strike at the heart of matters (which to an outsider may look crude or aggressive).  Because the natural state in these masters is non-reflective, and because they've attained integrity with their Ishta (usually a fierce manifestation), their behavior may also be a spontaneous expression of that.  Those that simply act the role of a wild eccentric (or have any self consciousness towards appearance) are not true aghora masters.  However, for those not firmly in the natural state of uncontrived awareness, there are still valuable lessons and sadhanas that can be applied from regarding these master's path.  For many, and especially for many in spirituality, there is a tendency to show the "good" and to hide what they consider "dark".  The level of phoniness and pretentiousness reach all time highs where spirituality is concerned.   To take as part of one's path, the reversal of presentation is a profound sadhana especially in a time when people can only see appearances and not substance.  This means that one hides their spiritual attributes while still acting upon them (thereby not getting any "credit" or affirming means of identifying with them).  In terms of external behavior, the sadhana is not a license to act in ways that harm others (as one's ultimate energy of behavior is informed by the inner quality), but rather is unconcerned with how it appears.  If one normally cusses , farts, and jokes, then this behavior isn't modified in "spiritual company" (excepting one's Guru) or as a means to view oneself as more spiritual.  If one naturally is just a glazed eye sort who speak in low spiritual voice all the time, then sabotage yourself.  To move in the noblest intentions while consistently sabotaging oneself is a pure art form.  To move people spiritually while not even in a spiritual context is pure spirituality.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Ganesh Chaturthi

We are in the midst of Ganesh Chaturthi, so it is good to focus on some Ganapati sadhana during this time.   In all our sadhana, we give importance to Ganapati and he is the first Devata invoked, as all obstacles for the sadhana are removed.  However, Ganapati should not just be seen as an "intro" work to our other sadhana, as there are whole practices dedicated to him.   In fact, when understanding the nature of Reality to be complete (as it is), spiritual practice can be seen as nothing other or more than removing obstacles.  Ganapati's sadhana contains many different rupas which accord to different intents and resonances.  Ganesh is also known as the lord of new beginnings, which in common terms people usually relate to starting various endeavors.  However, for the sadhak who lays bare every session, surrenders to the marrow and is willing to meet death, then new beginnings are every day...every moment.  Wishing all the best for this auspicious period.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse and Sadhana

During eclipse, the effects of all actions are multiplied, so it is important to be mindful during these periods.  For sadhaks, an eclipse is a very good time to focus on sadhana.  Both because of the multiplying factors during eclipse and the nature of mantra siddhi (which generally takes accumulation), mantra sadhana can be very potent and productive during these times.   Sadhana is multiplied by 10,000 during eclipse (and could even be more with certain other factors), so to recite a stotra once is like doing it 10,000 times.   In tantric sadhana, a vidya mantra usually has certain requirements to both make the mantra "active" and also to perfect it.  Therefore, during an eclipse, one may accomplish in hours what would have taken months or even years.  A mark of wisdom is being both efficient and skillful, so taking advantage of an opportunity (like an eclipse) should be seen in such a light.  Howerver, one shouldn't approach such endeavors with a greedy mind, as doing so would only multiply the effects of one's greed.  Rather, one should understand efficiency of action while also having pure motive and nobel intent.  To do such multiplying sadhana with the mindset that it is being done for the liberation of all has an incalculable beneficial effect.  There are several ways that one may structure a sadhana during eclipse.   One may sit through the entire eclipse period (starting when partial begins till complete finish), but it is often better to break into several sessions so one can stay sharp and more focused.   Three sessions work well, with one in the beginning of the eclipse period, a longer one running during greatest eclipse, and then a final one before the eclipse finishes.   A sadhak generally has different elements of their sadhana and Vidyas that they normally work with, so the structure of the eclipse sadhana needs to be clear beforehand.  Some decide to just work on one element during an eclipse, while others incorporate their entire sadhana mandala.  It is usually best to decide on a focus for the eclipse sadhana, which will be one or two elements that will get special attention.   However, one can still do their entire sadhana so that all elements are empowered, while going deeper with those aspects of special attention.  One is just doing a minimum of certain elements, while doing much more of those selected.  Sadhana during eclipse can push one to a new level in a Vidya, so it is good if one can intuit the timing of what it is best to focus upon.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

Comfort Zone

Most real growth on the spiritual path comes when we allow ourselves to go beyond our comfort zones.   This is because a comfort zone is mainly a "ground" that the I sense clings to and feels secure in, and by removing those "grounds", one is left with the requisite openness for wisdom and growth.   A comfort zone can range from subtle and psychological to more substantive and material forms, but most real demonstrations of stepping outside of a comfort zone should include a material actualized form.  The reason for this, is that for most people, a lingering comfort zone is self-deception which attributes qualities that haven't been demonstrated.   Moreover,  one whose inner actions also contain a practical application have a quality of confidence (and something unstatable), which strictly "mental warriors" ("i could do that") can never achieve.  Many ancient and indigenous cultures understood this wisdom and had/have various rites of passage. (To the extent that modern culture has rites of passage, they are mostly vapid and serve a business and consumer model.)  Nowadays, a lot of what passes as spirituality is more wellness and self improvement, whereby one is made to feel more comfortable and have a "better" attachment to the various grounds of self.   Often, people with no real life stresses (in a gather food and a lion might kill me way),  turn their unspent/frustrated energies into neurotic anxieties and believe what they need is comfort (via "spa" spirituality).  However, what they really need is to be challenged and pushed beyond their comfort zone patterns (which are the very patterns of their neurosis).   Even those who have been on a path for sometime should be vigilant to see where/when the i sense settles into patterns/grounds.  It is not unusual for lofty concepts to turn into comfort grounds, nor for Tantrics to use Deities to hide behind.  Even openness can become strategic.   Of course, a true and balanced path should include both periods of pushing and settling (expanding and assimilating), and as one progresses, one gets a better understanding of timing.  A Guru or guide are also important in helping a sadhak understand what actions are required at a given juncture.  However, one can hardly go wrong by continually stepping into the depths and challenging themselves which gives rise to true humility.  

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sumukhi Devi

Ucchistha Chandalini is the "outcaste" Devi who governs the remainders or left overs in a puja or sadhana.   As Matangi, the energy is also associated with magnetizing principles and non-divisive wisdom.   Mantangi as a particular all red form is also known as Sumukhi Devi, and is described as being seated on a corpse holding a kapal and sword.   It is said that sadhaks who perfect the Vidya of Ucchitha Chandalini need not worry over errors of commission or omission in their sadhanas, as even "errors" would be seen as remainders and thus offerings.  Indeed, while it is easy to conceive of remainders/left overs in terms of an external puja (via the various articles of worship), the Vidya is most profound in its interactions with the inner qualities of a sadhak.   In our sadhana, we are likely to have left over aspirations that we've been unable to properly channel, energies that we've not be able to assimilate properly, or lingering elements of all sort, and including a practice of Ucchishta Chandalini brings everything into balance and perfection (imperfection as perfection).   Also in our sadhana, we are likely to make some errors, maybe some of our mantras are not correct (or we missed the proper amount), or our concentration isn't sharp, or our compassionate intent isn't as expansive as it should be, but in these cases (and others) Sumukhi Devi excepts these "mistakes" as offerings.  Inherent in this Devi is a deep understanding of unitive wisdom (one taste), which is the true siddhi that the sadhak needs to abide as.   So one shouldn't just understand this Vidya as "offering the remainder to the Divine to make it Divine", but should come to the unitive understanding of everything as Divine expression.  In this way, like in other areas of Tantra, we unite in/as the Deity and operate from their/that perspective.  Ucchista Chandalini functions in the subtle centers and the various yogic processes which accompany sadhana, so "remainders" or "left overs" also refers to energies in our subtle channels.  Therefore, the wisdom of the Devi is also functional in our subtle experience.   Uccishtha Devatas of all sort are said to be quick to respond, and many of their sadhana requirements are more easy to accomplish than other deities.   As one gains experience in the Vidya, then it begins to permeate one's day to day life.  For those interested in benefiting others, it can be an important Vidya both in terms of how one's own expression is "received" and also in clearing obstructions in others.  If in a moment we are conventionally unskillful in a daily interaction, the knowledge of the Vidya can make it skillful none the less (it will somehow take the edge/remainder off and communicate something positive.)  One may think that as one gains wisdom, that one will work with Ucchishta Devatas less (as presumably there are less energetic remainders), but at a certain levels of understanding, one views all manifest existence as a remainder of sort, and certainly one's own life (via interaction with the world) can be seen as such.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NYC

I'll be visiting New York City next week, and will be there Thursday and Friday (August 3 and 4).   Anyone in that area who would like to meet can let us know.   Also, if one didn't mind playing tour guide a bit, it would be nice to have someone who knows the area show us around.   I'll be staying at an apartment in Brooklyn for those days.   Contact Aadya (Aadya68@gmail.com) if you'd like to get together.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Black Magic

There are several Vidyas within the Tantric tradition which are said to dispel or destroy black magic.   Many serve as a protective aspect for sadhaks against obstructions from all class of beings.  However, there are several areas of misunderstanding both as it relates to black magic and how the Vidyas which dispel it work.  When we speak about black magic, the image it evokes is of some nefarious character doing a ritual to harm, and while this can be the case, this is not the type of black magic that most people encounter.  However, most people do encounter intrusive energy (i.e. black magic) on a daily basis in the form of negativity, projection, ill will, and hurtful intent.   There are also more energetic aspects which may lack intent, but are none the less impactful.  We have all experienced being around a person who is "nice" but just is exhausting to encounter, and others whose energy is just kind of sticky and lingering.  In fact, most forms of negativity lack personal intent (i.e. "against you") but are no less impactful to the environment and people in it.   When an immature person is "having a bad day", then everyone around them are about to also, and most people are immature.   So when we hear about how a certain Vidya destroys black magic, we should understand it in the context of our day to day environments and encounters.  But more than this, we should understand it as it applies to ourselves and dispelling our own black magic patterns.  Whomever one considers their largest "enemy" or irritant is likely someone that is only encountered occasionally, but one has to be with themselves constantly.  In fact, people are constantly doing black magic against themselves, and this creates a point of resonance that makes one receptive to the obstruction projected from others.  Therefore, the main focus of working with a Vidya which "dispels and destroys black magic" is to allow the energy of the Devata to illuminate and destroy those patterns in ourselves.  Once we are no longer practicing black magic (on ourselves and on our environments), then in large measure we are protected from it.   The protection comes both in the form of view and energetics with various levels understanding at play.  For example, the wisdom of "not minding another business" is a view which understands that another person's "garbage", even if you are included somehow in it, belongs to them, and you are under no obligation to "pick it up".  Of course though, wisdom doesn't always protect energetically, so while this understanding would allow one to "not take to heart" other peoples garbage/projections, it may still give an energetic residue which needs to be processed.  This is where working with certain Vidyas helps, as once assimilated, even energies don't penetrate.  However, as long as one's view includes notions of self and other, there is still vulnerability, and paradoxically it is by stepping into complete vulnerability that one comes to the wisdom that can't be harmed.  When we understand notions of self to be ignorance and others to be empty, then as spacious awareness, not only does projected energy have nowhere to "land", it has nowhere to come from.  Negative energies and projections are dispelled at the moment they arise.  This is the pure wrathful manifestation of the protector Vidyas.   However, even with the highest wisdom and energetic integrity with these Vidyas, various obstructions arise, and this is where we test the purity of our view.  As many saints have said, if you cut the power on a locomotive, it will still continue its movement based on momentum.  Just so, even in wisdom, life will continue to move, and obstructions will arise.  However, the wise will not only take responsibility for obstructions (as karma), but welcome them as expedients.  Greater than this, when obstructions are seen not only as indicators of wisdom display, but not different than it, then everything is the path.   When wise people with expansive minds do the works of Vidyas which work against black magic, they do so with nobel intent.  It is not done "against" people, but for them (in a true way).  When a wise person sees another filled with negativity and harmful intents, they do not see it as "them" but rather as something harming them (and obscuring their true nature).   Indeed, the greatest kavach opposing black magic is purity of heart and intention.  I recently read an account of a Tantric master from Tibet (regrettably I cannot remember his name) which not only touched me but speaks to purity of heart/intent as the ultimate kavach against black magic.  It appears this master was getting harassed by a certain powerful spirit.  This same spirit was said to have annoyed and shorten the life span of both Dodrupchen and Dudjum Lingpa (These were both spiritual giants, which illustrates the point that even in wisdom obstructions can arise.  Moreover, they were both accomplished in vidyas which are very potent in dispelling negative forces.  This fact speaks to the power of how this spirit was ultimately tamed.)   Finally, at a time when this spirit was being particularly intrusive and annoying, this tantric master thought with all his heart "I will never abandon you, I will never abandon you, I will guide you to liberation".  Such a pure intention toward a spirit doing black magic, and the spirit melted in the face of such love.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cleveland Program

Our yearly USA gathering will be September 18-25.   Sadhaks will be welcomed during this week, and I'll be offering the Ugra Tara Diksha parts 1 and 2 (to those who completed 1) and maybe a protector practice.   Those seeking an initial Guru diksha are welcome to come for two days during this time period.   People who just want to sit with us, meet, and/or ask questions can also visit.   Those wanting to attend the program should contact Samhara (dani.jezernik@gmail.com), and he'll send all the pertinent info about location, staying, commitments, and contribution requirements.    Those wanting to just come for two days for Guru Diksha should contact Aadya (Aadya68@gmail.com) for more info.   There are space limitations and a deposit of intent is required, so best not to delay too much.   The structure of the week is loosely based, but usually includes two sadhana sessions per day, as well as teaching periods.   In many ways, these programs are more focused and productive than the India trips, as there aren't any distractions with moving around.   I'm looking forward to seeing all who are able to attend.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

One Taste


There comes a point in a sadhak's life where they can intuit and glimpse Reality at will, but are not completely established in/as it.   At this point, one must decide to be completely loyal to what has been revealed.  This is such a ruthless and uncompromising wisdom, and it must be effortless.   This may sound like a contradiction, but one needs to be loyal to the fundamental aspect which doesn't require confirmation or embellishment.   If something IS, then it follows that it doesn't need anything added (or subtracted) to make it so.   Therefore, to be loyal to that which is "present" without effort (i.e. spontaneously so) is to be effortless.  This is not a passive state, it is the veritable destroyer of worlds/self.  The ruthless turn required is to cease needing to know or possess this.  The world around will proceed as usual and this is the test.   It'll present good and bad.  It'll present things to hope and fear.   It'll present other seeming selves to stoke the passions of your own seeming self.  The uncompromising wisdom will cease to label, and the loyalty of one taste will dawn.  Perception is liberated by being as loyal to "others" true nature as one is their own.   Then where is self and where is other?   Your nature as the great wrathful one will bathe in a sea of blood, and give a great laugh.  Now, even liberation and bondage, samsara and nirvana, are of one taste.  What does it matter.  Great concepts profound and deep fall into the same sea and are drunk without sentiment.  Then fall, be fallen and see it is the same.  Read a book.  See a movie.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Guru Purnima

Guru Purmina is coming this week, and it is the day where the Guru tattva is honored via puja, sadhana, and devotion.   The Guru tattva is held in high esteem in the Tantric traditions, and it is said that on Guru Purmina, this principle is easier to connect with and assimilate.  Moreover, any Guru sadhanas that a sadhak does on this day are multiplied by a factor of thousands in potency.  Also, on this day, it is very auspicious to chant or listen to the Guru Gita.   It is said that one who chants or listens to this with pure devotion on Guru Purnima will be liberated very soon.   Those who have a Guru should use the day to deepen their heart connection though inner practices of surrender and accord.  Guru Purmina is also a day of significance for Shiva as Adi Guru, so one should do puja to Shiva as Guru on this day (especially in the form of Dakshinamurti).   It is permissible for all to do Sadhana of Shiva with the panchakshar mantra.  Vyasa should also be honored on Guru Purnima, as this day is also connected to this great Guru.  At least a round of Vyasa mantra can be done on Guru Purnima.   Those who've received Mritunjaya mantra may combine the sadhana of Shiva and Vyasa, as the Mantra Mahodadhih speaks about the great power of doing so.  In that case, one repeats Mritunjaya regular, followed by Vyasa mantra, and then Mritunjaya in reverse order.  That combination would make one mantra.   However, don't get lost in too much sadhana, let the day be about heart and mingle your essence with the Guru.  This is the best puja. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Breaking Momentum

Conditioned life can have a certain momentum.  When we talk about "letting go" and "surrender", it is about stopping this momentum, not being swept up in it without concern.   It is important to understand that all conventional forms are arbitrary (although there are some biological imperatives), and aren't valid or holding some great moral superiority just because they are widely adopted.  For example, if one were born into a world with completely different parameters (cultural, biological, etc.), then one would likely view those and their world much differently.   To define the "box" precisely can be difficult, but in our current situation we can certainly identify signposts of this momentum that occupies attention (school, relationships, work, money, marriage, children etc.)   Even the "eccentric", in so far as they are within the mental structures (even in opposition) are safely within this momentum.    Most people allow this momentum (and the structures of it) to not only define them, but also dictate what is important to them.   Many are so caught up in striving for what they "should" want, that they never actually examine what is truly important to them.   Therefore, it can be instructive to take some time to just stop for a few moments, generate perspective, and examine what one truly wants and what is truly important.   Of course, examining what one wants (desires) isn't ground breaking, since people pretty much do this all the time.  However, most are doing this exercise while absorbed in life's momentum as defined by the paradigms of its structures.  Therefore, a deep earnestness and honesty gained by perspective are required.  Perspective is a function of wisdom, so if one doesn't have a certain wisdom, then it is meaningless to just instruct a person to generate perspective.   Because of this, meditation on death is a very useful tool to both stopping momentum and getting perspective.   One should view their life from their deathbed, and examine their life and what is important.   If one is truly engrossed in the practice, then insight may take the form of regret (i.e. "i should have done this" or "i should have given more time/attention to that").   However, unlike in truly dying, in this practice, one may "reincarnate" and used the wisdom gleamed from that practice and apply it to their life.  Even taking aside the more profound leaps, the practice can be useful in having a better quality life and removing some clutter.    However, while death is a tool in this practice, when one continually allows oneself to "bump into it",  it becomes a force and a genuine experience.  This means that one experiences the death process while still living, and then not only is there perspective gained, but the fundamental nature of self, awareness, and manifestation are laid bare.   

Monday, June 19, 2017

Listen

Many of the old texts and words of the masters begin with the injunction to listen.  Nowadays, "listen" is usually used as a pompous sentence starter for blow hards on the tv making some dogmatic  retort.   However, in the context of the deep points made by our legacy of spiritual giants, it is a prescient command because it is precisely the skill of listening and hearing a teaching which determines its impact.   We live in time where many great teachings are readily available, and many of these teachings were held secret in other time periods.   However, when teachings are so easy to encounter, there tends to be a flippant and subtly dismissive quality to how people regard them.   In fact, one of the reasons that certain teaching were held as secret was so that they could be revealed at a time when they could truly be heard (i.e. one was ripe to receive the transmition).   That said,  we do have a treasury of teaching available, and two things are clear.  Firstly, that with some subtle variations, realized master of good repute indicate almost the same things.  And secondly, something in people still cannot hear it and/or doesn't completely believe them.  For example, to directly encounter a teaching which says "what you take as yourself is actually non-existent" and to think "hmm...interesting" and then continue on with your day means that one hasn't really heard.  To really hear that is earth/self shattering, and even to partially hear it means a deep examination of various implications.   While that example may not be the most apt (because that is a teaching which requires a ripeness to really hear), there are many other teachings which people act like great masters are just talking to hear their own voice.  That said, true listening goes beyond even the words and rapt attention that examines implications, to an openness of being that allows the teaching (in this regard transmition) to penetrate without "landing" anywhere.   When listening takes this quality, then it is a true mingling which is direct.  In this way, there is no worry about the proverbial finger being mistaken for the moon, nor does it fall into conceptualization.  Moreover, when listening is like this, a teaching will always bear fruit, even if in the moment it doesn't make sense.   Those on the path can all relate to hearing a teaching at one point (and maybe not resonating so much with it), and then sometimes years later seeing the importance of it.   So, even if something isn't resonating in a given moment, it is important to take the inner posture of listening.   To be immediately ready to retort or argue a point (either actually or in one's mind) means that one isn't really listening.  Also, one should take the point, rather than play semantic games that look for some perceived inconsistency.  Even the tendency to try to fit a teaching into a neat and resolved (mental) package is an avoidance of the imminence of deep openness.  True listening is part of the path of surrender and accord which is the very art of Tantra.  It is also the path of continuous diksha and empowerment.  But who will really hear that?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Liberation

Question:
We often say that something needs to be liberated or is liberated already. What does it mean exactly? Are there any criteria or signs which point to liberation? When can we consider an emotion or a pattern liberated?

Reply:
Concisely stated, self grasping is the root of all samsara, so in conventional parlance, it is that which is liberated.  However, it is precisely by seeing through the quality (of self/self grasping) that it is discovered that there is nothing and no-one that needs liberating.   Therefore, sadhaks are instructed to effortlessly rest in the natural state.

Often, it takes some time of deepening in view to be completely free of those tendencies, so as you alluded, one may see that certain patterns or emotions (or one's reaction to emotions) don't hold the same sway.  When one sees that they aren't swayed by the arising of thought/emotions or that even when something arises, it doesn't stick or leave any residue, then this is a good sign.

(This is taken from an email.  While certain correspondence will be included in the blog, it is important to note that the replies are to a particular person, so many times what is expressed is colored by who it is written to.   However, just the general questions will be represented here and  more personal parts of any correspondence will not be included.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Guru's Activities

For those initiates who follow and understand the profound path of Guru Yoga, there are many practices which yield swift results.   This practice (which will follow) is not only good for connecting with one's Guru, but also for getting blessings and removing all kinds of obstructions.   One does the practice with a large view, however it is important to understand that having such a view doesn't limit the impact in one's own life, but multiplies it.    Therefore, even if one is inspired to do the practice because they are going through a difficult time, doing the practice with a large view will be even more helpful.   For this practice, one merges their essence with the Guru and sits as such.  Whenever one takes up an energy/complexion,  it is important to first get out of the way.  There are several ways to get out of the way,  the most easy (and somehow the most advanced) is to just see that there is nobody in the way.   Second to that, is spending a bit of time in meditation seeing the insubstantiality of self and "person".  Otherwise, there are more elaborate processes where one goes through the death process and is "reborn" as the pure manifest quality.   It can be very useful (in this and other works), to offer a prayer/state one's intentions beforehand.  For this work,  one should clearly think of their Guru and think "may i merge and become one with my Guru in order to perform the activities that liberate beings" (one's incursions can be expressed according to how it sincerely arises, but the view and flavor should be in accord).   After the incursions and from pure awareness, one should bring forth the presence of one's Guru, and completely unite one's life-breath with that presence.   Presence is a quality that is both tacit and hard to define, but in experience is unmistakable.   When one spends time with their Guru, then there is an osmosis like process (enriched by the subtle art of surrender/accord) whereby one connects with their Guru's presence (literally by being present) and then not only can one invoke it but carries it like a scent.   One time many years back, I happened to randomly be sitting next to a lady.   A certain presence came clear and i ventured to ask if she had spent time with a particular Guru.  She was very surprised, and said that indeed she did, and that she served as his attendant for his final 10 years.   While I'd not met her Guru, she need not have been surprised at the recognition because the "scent" of her Guru was like a strong perfume on her.  The quality of presence is what makes Guru practices more powerful than Deity practices, however people prefer Deity practices.  (The reasons for that are a whole other article).

So having connected and united with the Guru, one should sit confidently as such for sometime.  The initial visualization/feeling should correspond to one's Guru as one knows them (i.e. appear/feel in a way that is most familiar).    The activity meditations can be done as a group or individually as one sees fit.   There are corresponding short bija mantra with each activity, but that portion will not be inculded here.   However, it should be noted that when using the mantras, they are not chanted like one's normal japa, but take on different patterns (like slow/long/pervasive in style or like a swarm or like a swarm inside something pervasive etc.) depending both upon the activity and the particular point in the meditation.  Also, it should be noted that the bijas can be used as part of the visualization process.  That said, one can do the sadhana without the mantras, and in many cases, doing so can actually be more beneficial (in that one can just focus on points of sincerity).

With the first kriya, one should think of themselves as the Guru of pure white color, youthful and wearing jewel ornaments.   The eyes are half open, and the bhava is gentle and filled with love and kindness.   After sitting in this mood sometime, one should identify aspects of their conventional self or energy that is not in accord, and then as the Guru (from the heart center) pour white light/energy into those areas.  One should feel those areas flooded with love and feel the energy liberate into deep accord.   (One can easily be stationed as the Guru in the practice while still identifying aspect of self.)  Next, one should extend that white light through the universe and all realms of existence.   The understanding should be that the fundamental nature (which one is sitting as) is pervasive and without obstruction, so the expansion of the white light is contained in the understanding and doesn't involve "stretching" but rather relaxing into .   One should feel that this light is touching all beings and giving great peace to all.  One should think that it is easing all suffering and that all beings are filled with that love.  Finally, one should feel that all that are touched by this light are liberated.   One may do this kriya in a broad way or do in a way which focuses on each realm of samsara individually.  It is also important to understand that one is sitting outside of time, so these kriyas permeate beings of all times.

Sit as the Guru with red or pinkish complexion, with a smile/smirk, this form should be seen as attractive and playful.  Even if one's Guru is male, this rupa should have some almost feminine characteristics (like krishna is depicted sometimes).   One should think that a whole retinue of beings (devatas, yoginis, protectors etc.) surround and have love for you as this form.   Bringing the conventional self/energy before this manifestation, look for areas not in accord.   One should regard any heavy energy laden with self-pity and "hard luck" narratives, and also bored/resigned energy (same shit different day type narratives), and pour red light into it.   After bringing accord, one should proceed to either fill the realms of existence with that light or see a myriad of red yoginis filling existence and touching all beings.   One should feel that as this light (or yoginis) permeate beings, that spontaneous blessings and empowerments come to them, and they are drawn immediately to the path and are liberated.   One should feel all these beings joy, and feel joy in it.

With a stern disposition, sit as the Guru with great command and power,  the color of yellow and difficult to approach as the power of this forms presence has a great weight that projects (like the gravity force becomes too much for anyone to navigate).    One's bhava should be fearless and assured.   When bringing forth one's conventional self/energy, look toward restless places of avoidance as well of points of the habitual tendency to cling to thought, and bring these elements into accord with the force of this Guru presence while bathing in yellow light.   When using forceful kriyas to benefit beings, it can be useful to do so on a collective aggregate of qualities.  Therefore, one can either proceed as in the former kriyas, by this time sending a yellow light or yellow yoginis holding clubs to permeate the realms (and all times) of existence stoping the suffering and various afflictions of beings (and thus liberating them) or invoke and "personify" those afflictions.  In the later case,  one should regard the suffering and affliction of beings as a demon type hoard that at first looks strong and confident.  But as you (in Guru form) regard them with unmoving confidence they become terrified, and as the light or swarm of yoginis hits, they are stunned and fall down unable to move.   When that happens, feel that beings are freed from those delusions and are liberated.

From uncontrived spacious awareness, assume the form of the great wrathful Guru who is dark blue in color, with fangs dripping blood and adorned with skulls and serpents.   Standing in a great cremation ground surrounded by a sea of blood,  you hold a skull cup with a gaze of intense lightening.   The bhava is very fierce compassion.   It should be understood that the more fierce the manifestation, the more deep the compassion must be.  In fact, it is only through deep compassion that one can truly manifest a wrathful form, as otherwise it is just an expression of anger or frustration that cannot reach the proper intensity.   In this form, you are keen to act, like a parent seeing  their child in danger or suffering.   Bringing forth the convention self/energy, be keen to recognize the aspects not in accord, particularly see the incursions that you've taken on yourself ranging from other peoples views, culture, expectations, negativity, projections etc., and then see the biggest incursion of self grasping and "personhood".  With wrathful expressions, one may find another element that is not in accord which can be broadly defined as sentimentality.  People often confuse it with compassion but it is actually being sentimental for samsara (and the experience of it and people in it).   Encountering ruthless expression of reality are good for exposing and confronting those places in us.   The broader kriya can be done as in either manner described above, however in this practice the light/yoginis are dark blue (with the yoginis holding swords) and the obstructors are completely driven away in terror.  The energy moves like a great hurricane that nothing can stand against.  With great sincerity and intensity, liberate beings with this manifestation.


Standing upon space/time, take up the extremely wrathful presence of the Guru who is black in color with a great fire surrounding.   Wearing a crown of skulls and bearing fangs,  one should see themselves as holding daggers in each hand and wearing a mala of skulls.  With eyes wide and blood shot with intensity, bringing forth one's conventional self/energy, one should see that accord or non accord don't matter, and with a gaze one and all identification is dissolved.   In this form, one should shake all of the realms of existence like a cosmic scale "earth quake", and dance throughout the realms.  With a great laugh, the roots of delusion are seen as completely empty.  As one dances, the roots of ignorance are utterly destroyed, and everything dissolves into the dance itself.   Having dissolved everything, when finished with the sadhana view what appears as all expressions of the pure nature and let everything encountered point back to that rather than obscure it.

Contained in these practices are several layers of understanding which open up to one upon sincerely encountering them.  The practices allow one to connect with their Guru in a deeper way, while not only removing obstacles for themselves, but also acting for the benefit of all.   Since one's nature is  primordially pure,  all real practices are mainly about removing obstructions to realizing it.  Those with some knowledge of Tantra may see that the activities given correspond to five of the so called "six rites".   However, while many "tantrics" nowadays view and use the rites for stupid and mundane purposes, one should understand there true import.   The only meaning in this life is our own (enlightened) view and how much we love.  When you meet death, that'll be all that matters.  Don't have any regrets.




















Thursday, June 1, 2017

Retreat

While someone on the path usually has a normal daily sadhana, it can be very useful at times to do a more intensive retreat.    There are many different types of retreats with various points of focus,  so one should have clarity beforehand.   For example, a retreat period may just mean a deepening of one's normal sadhana or it could be specific to a certain practice therein (or something newly included).  Also, the focus of a retreat may be more on meditative practices or aspects of those practices.  Often times, in longer retreat periods, various aspects of the path are focused upon or given emphasis during particular timeframes.    There are several ways to determine retreat periods (i.e. how long it will go for),  with the most obvious being to simply designate a time period (1 week, 3 month, etc.)   Better than simply stating a time frame,  it is more efficient and precise to firstly determine what one wants to do and how long that will take.   Of course, that determination is more effective in sadhana type retreats rather than a retreat focused on cultivating meditative qualities.   However, if one is doing a Deity practice with mantra, then one will have a clearer guideline (which is basically how many mantra total, how many per day, how long will that take).  The best method for those with a lot of experience on the path is to keep the retreat until sign of accomplishment.   This is not an advisable method for most (and not for someone who hasn't already completed several retreats and/or purushcharana), as one of the most important benefits of completing a retreat is the empowerment of one's will, discipline and sankalp (which any "unclear" completion to retreat may veil).    Within the overall structure of the retreat, there is the daily structure which should be maintained for sadhana/meditation periods.    If one can't keep the discipline, then its better not to undertake the work, as one will just loose respect (for themselves) and weaken their word.   To avoid prematurely breaking retreat, it is best to make a program that is well within one's capacity.  The environment for retreat need not be some remote wilderness, as one can do within their own place.  Maybe for some who are too entrenched in the patterns of their life and thoughts, a change of environment could be useful.  However, one can easily create a space both in their environment and in their time to do more intensive practices.  Before embarking, it could be helpful to take stock of how one is using one's time and energy.  While one may be forced to engage in some activities (like work), there may be other things that one can put aside for the retreat period.   Even when one is forced to engage, one should trie to maintain the inner attitude and view of the retreat.  However, when possible, one should try to talk and engage as little as possible.  Do not talk about the sadhana or tell any experiences that arise.   When one does work and doesn't blab about it or seek attention, then one gains power and integrity.   It is not uncommon when dealing with higher levels of energy (like one presumably would be in a sadhana retreat) for emotions to get enflamed, but it is important not to act out or loose one's temper.   In this way,  one gives the energy a chance to settle and assimilate rather than disperse in some show (regardless of if the emotion is called positive or negative).   Likewise, one may feel raw and a bit vulnerable when opening up to new potentials, so during those periods it is best to avoid toxic people and situations.   Finally, if one has a Guru, mentor, or elder friend on the path, it is always wise to take their advice about how best to proceed with a retreat.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Visualization

Often times a sadhak is instructed to do things which broadly can be described as visualizations.   However, people often have the wrong ideas about what it means.   Any so called visualization is representing (or should represent) an aspect of true reflection, so to view the process as "imagination" isn't or shouldn't be accurate.  One often hears people say that they can't visualize something because either they aren't visual or that they don't have a good imagination.   Often, this is more a function of wrong view or lack of confidence, then any real impediment.  To demonstrate, for one who claims to fall into that category, please do the following experiment: "first close your eyes, now do you still have an idea of what you look like? and do you have an idea about what the room you are in looks like?"  For all, this will be no problem because one is sure and confident.  Moreover, the reflective process of taking those aspects as true are well reinforced.  In many ways, the image of ourself and of our environment are nothing other than visualizations (eyes open or closed), but that is a tangent to explore at another time.   The governing factor is conviction, so with any sadhana where one is told to "visualize" something, one should get the feeling of it first.   In fact, the feeling is the most important factor which speaks directly to the resonant accord of whatever one is instructed to do.  For example, lets say one is instructed to think of themselves as Ganapati with ones Guru over their crown, seated on a throne, and from one's/Ganapati's heart emanates rays of light that removes the obstacles of all beings.   So represented here are several feelings (i.e. points of resonance), accord with the devata, devotion to the guru,  divine pride/presence, and compassion.   When one is told these types of visualizations, it isn't an art project be built scenes in the mind, but rather a description of a state of being.  To come into accord with what is described is to BE it, and to visualize is to simply regard what is there (accurately).   

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Difficult Emotions

When difficult emotions arise (be it depression, anxiety, anger etc.), compassion meditation is the best remedy.  Firstly, one needs to engage the proper attitude to enter into to the practice, and actually the turning of the attitude is a great maturity.   Let us say that the emotion is depression, one is feeling sad and in the dumps.   The first turn for the practice is the thought, "how lucky, this latent tendency is presenting itself clearly so that i can bring it into the light of compassion and liberate it."   This may seem decidedly contrived and campy, especially when one feels bad, but it is important.   Now one needs to make the second attitude turn which is the thought, "this feeling isn't unique to me, many billions of beings are feeling depressed and sad, seeing this as the depression and sadness of all, may it be liberated in the light of compassion."   With the second attitude turn, one has taken the emotion out of the personal (and whatever personal narrative one has given to it) and gone beyond self.  Just doing this is a huge step, and dissolves a clinginess of the emotion.   However, one does not avoid the emotion but rather encounters it both nakedly and expansively.   Now, just let it be present as an energy (the collective energy we call depression or sadness) and love it.   Let it be, and let it be in the presence of love.  The last part is easy, it is the turning which takes some practice, and attitude is practice.  In fact, many of the great prayers and songs of the past masters are mostly about teaching those who read it the right attitude or view, because that switch is the path to real maturation and experience.  If one can take obstacles onto the path, then there remains no obstacles.  Everything has the potential to liberate because it is liberated.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Devata

People entering the path sometimes wonder which Deity would be best for them to practice.   Often, one has a certain affinity or attraction to certain manifestations, and this could be a good indicator.   For example, if this affinity stems from working with the vidya in previous incarnations or some other deep resonate factors, then it is an appropriate pointer.   However, sometimes the attraction is more personality based, either due to a projection or a perceived lack.  This means that what one thinks of a particular devata is seen as enforcement of perceived qualities  or as qualities that one wants to have.  While this type of attraction may be more superficial, it is not necessarily indicative of any lack of potential, as even so called personality aspects are seen as energetic possibilities.   It is important to understand though, that affinity or attraction isn't always wise, so one should be open.  Many sadhaks have gotten swift and profound results from working with devatas they hadn't much considered, while having to really grind to potentiate a devata they find appealing.  This is not to suggest that swift accomplishment is the only consideration, and often times working with a vidya where a sadhak really has to grind it out and struggle can be a real blessing.   Regardless of one's affinities, it is certain that there are certain manifestations which are "quick to respond" while others take more time.  Moreover, certain energies are more "active" during certain periods of time.   In terms of working with a Devata, people have various opinions about if a person should go straight into a strength (or potential strength) or if one should temper and balance.  For example, if a person is naturally intense and aggressive the question arises, should they work with a very wrathful form to directly transmute those energies or should they first cultivate a "softer" work so that the underlying motive (or the wrathful form) is better understood (and they have a rounder understanding and expression).   There is no "correct" answer, and it almost always depends on the individual.   Also, there are various aspects of the path which lend itself to doing both to various degrees.   The type of work one will do will be determined initially by what Guru one is drawn toward.  It is a mistake to just "choose" a Guru based on what devata or sadhana one thinks they'll get, and one should go to a Guru because they feel a deep heart connection.  That said, in the Tantric Vidya, Guru, Devata, and one's own True Nature are not divisible,  so one can trust that connection to Guru is connection to Devata.  Regardless of a potential sadhaks proclivities, a Guru is going to have a Devata or a few which will be the basic diksha works (the bread and butter), that all sadhaks have to go through.  Afterward (or in conjunction), the Guru may give other more specific works or Devatas for a person.  However, it is most important to accomplish the Vidya in front of you, and not suffer from the "grass is greener" syndrome.  It is as sure as sure can be, that the qualities that allow one to accomplish one vidya will be the same that allow the accomplishment of another.  And just as sure, is that if one can't potentiate one, then looking elsewhere is meaningless.   With all these various manifestation, it is of great importance to understand that they manifest from One source, and that source is your own true nature which is groundless/boundless Awareness.   To proceed with this understand makes any work powerful, and to proceed without it is like a beggar hoping for a crumb.  One should intimately link any manifestation with their own Awareness and life breath.  One should proceed like already accomplished, and when there is nothing to "get", a great well spring of compassion will arise.   To work for the liberation of all isn't a sentiment, but a wisdom.  A wisdom that recognizes it couldn't be any other way.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cleveland and Varanasi

A brief note on upcoming programs.  We'll basically only doing two a year for the foreseeable future, one in the USA and one in India.  This year, we'll have one in Cleveland which will likely be late September/early October.  It'll be open for those seeking diksha, and for others I'll give the Ugra Tara part 1 or 2 depending on where one is at, and we'll see what else.  For India, I've been wanting to go back to Varanasi, so we'll do that.  This will be a straight shamshan sadhana program.  I've no interest in roaming about going to a bunch of temples.  Regardless, I'll likely go there, but if anyone would be interested in making a program out of it, then let me know.  Would probably be somewhere around Feb. 

Kamakhya Program

Most years we've had some program in India and the most recent was at Kamakhya.   It is a place dear to me and at this point kind of home, as we have a flat not too far away.  So it is nice to be able to share places meaningful to me with people who feel close to me.   Kamakhya is unique because it is on a hill, and the whole area is like a mandala.  There are temples there for all of the Das Mahavidya , as well as others Devatas.   Pilgrimage is an interesting concept, and like other elements of the path, there are various depths to its understanding.  When a sadhak has refined their openness and sensitivity, then pilgrimage is a process of deep accord whereby the energy of a "place" is assimilated.  In that way, one never really leaves the place of pilgrimage, but rather carries it with them.  On this trip, it was a good opportunity to sit together and to explore the area.  As with many sadhana trips, there are certain discomforts met.  The rooms and food aren't ideal, and various weather conditions present, but sadhaks should have some grit to them.  These yoga studio warriors whose retreats are spas can't even look a real sadhak in the eye.  Anyway, good trip, maybe more to come!

Everyday We Lit

There is no experience in the future.  It is always now.   One should identify the aspect in oneself which is constantly putting off stepping fully into reality.  Even at high levels of the path, this type of avoidance takes place, so one must be vigilant against it.  To hear about the path and to have it resonate is a huge opportunity, and to not embrace it is a waste.  People are under the illusion that that have plenty of time, and this is an obstruction.  While sadhana should be consistent and planned over a time period, the individual sessions themselves should be each taken like it is one's last.  There are all kinds of open doorways for people, but they need to embolden their spirit and jump with both feet.  One should understand that there are no assurances about the future, and if death comes, there are no assurances that one will either encounter or resonant with a path seeking freedom.   Be both confident and urgent.  Be willing to encounter anything at all that arises without fear.  From one day to the next, sincere sadhaks are different beings, that is how to move.  

Spontaneously Present

The understanding of presence is the effortless gateway to realization.  One should understand that if something is Real and True, then it must be so all the time.  Moreover, it needs neither confirmation or affirmation.  It cannot be negated either, as a simple experiment will prove: "try not to be present".  This simple quality which is often overlooked because it is so apparent is wholly spontaneous, and is not only indicative of ones own manifestation but of all manifest existence.  The understanding of one is the understanding of the other, as they are not dual.   When spontaneous presence is viewed and married with an understanding of the insubstantiality of phenomenon (outer and inner), then one is on the path.  Spontaneous Presence is a mystery, a mystery of one's true nature, so let it be so without trying to box or define it.  It is unbound.