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.