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.