There has been a big debate as to whether or not someone on the spiritual path can also be a householder. Can someone who is devoted to gaining a deeper awareness/understanding of the internal landscape also be in charge of getting the groceries?
Tantric philosophy believes that we can do both. Sally Kempton articulates it so well here in Shakti Awakening.
Note: Think of Parvati and Shiva as different aspects of yourself. Shiva being the seeker and Parvati being the householder.
“Parvati and Shiva hold a creative tension of opposites. He represents the eternal drive for freedom, the yogi’s need to disentangle himself from the world; she represents the feminine drive toward expressive fullness–emotion, rhythm, even the creative flow of thoughts.
When Shiva–who stands for everything that is antithetical to society–unites with Parvati and creates a household life, they are making an enormous statement. Their partnership resolves one of the most embedded dualities in culture: the duality between life in the world and life of the spirit. In Indian life as well as in the Christian mysticism there has always been an opposition between the ascetic yogi, who withdraws from the world in order to realize his nature as spirit, and the householder, entangled in domesticity. Traditionally, the demands of the world, epitomized by family life, are diametrically opposed…
In the Tantric path, however, this dichotomy is transcended. World life and spiritual life, spirit and flesh, are recognized not as duality, but as manifestations of the same power, which is Shakti. The Vijnana Bhairava describes a practice where you discover the ecstasy of the ultimate reality by going into the throbbing heart of pleasure, inside the joy of sex, of song, of delicious food, then meditating on the ‘perfect condition of that joy’ until the supreme bliss reveals itself…
Tantra is the Goddess’s path, which means that it is for people who know how to use the physical and imagined worlds as doorways into the ultimate, as well as for world delight. The Goddess is the mistress of these worlds as she is of the physical world, which is why at the heart of Tantric practices there is a deep respect for the feminine as spiritual authority. In Tantric Quest [one of my favorite books of all time!], Daniel Odier’s teacher tells a story about how a group of hermits debated all day about whether the ultimate truth is a self or a non-self. Finally, one of the ascetics says that the argument can only be resolved by a dakini, a women practitioner. The yogini then goes into meditation on the nondual oneness between self and non-self, and in the space of presence that opens up in the circle, all agree that the discussion has been resolved. They recognize that spirit is not higher than matter, nor is matter devoid of self. Instead, it is the nature of spirit to creatively express itself in form, just as it is the nature of silence to express itself in sound.
The is the recognition that arises out of the union of Shiva and Parvati. Parvati is Shiva’s capacity to express himself in action.Without her, he is simply inactive, iner. Parvati, in scholar David Kinsley’s words, ‘not only compliments Shiva, she completes him.'”
I’ve never been drawn to Lakshmi as I am to Durga and Kali. Lakshmi is more widely known as the goddess of abundance, fertility and the ‘ideal wife’. Unlike Durga and Kali who are fierce warriors who step in when the going gets tough, pretty much kicking butt wherever they go, Lakshmi is a bit too demure…or so I thought. I came across this and my thoughts of this archetype have shifted. It’s always nice to have a shift of perspective…I thought I’d share.
“Lakshmi is the goddess energy who preserves life. In Tantric nature cosmology, she is the nourishing, cooling power of soma, or moon-nectar, that balances the fiery, lightning-like Shakti of Kali and the blazing solar energy of Durga. Soma was the drink of the gods, and supposedly it contained the power to give immortality. It was one of the substances churned up from the Milky Ocean, along with Lakshmi herself. According to Ayurveda, the traditional medical science of India, soma appears in the body as ojas, a vital essence found in bone marrow. Ojas conveys vitality. Sexuality and meditation both draw their power from ojas. It’s connected with rejuvenation (interestingly, the bone marrow is where stem cells are found); it’s also the subtle substance that can cool the body when kundalini Shakti is manifesting in a fiery, Kali-like fashion. Lakshmi’s Shakti is life sustaining both in the physical and subtle realms. She is, subtly speaking, the water of life and the subtle nectar that moistens the heart.
Lakshmi is an ancient goddess. The Vedic singers praised her under her most ancient name, Shri, and sang the ‘Hymn of Shri’ (Shri Sukta) to bring forth whatever is glorious and beautiful in the natural world. Besides being a name of Lakshmi, shri is an abstract noun that signifies all the qualities associated with auspiciousness: good fortune, lovingkindness, material prosperity, physical health, beauty, purity of motive, well-being, authority, energy, vitality, and every kind of radiance.”
–Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti
Join Carolyn Anne Budgell and Clara Roberts-Oss in Sayulita, Mexico this fall for a sun drenched, ocean filled yoga retreat.
Through 2 vinyasa classes daily (morning and afternoon), they will share with you their love of movement, breath and music, all in a gorgeous setting amidst warm, healing sun. Discover all the parts of yourself: the powerful, softer, playful and contemplative sides.
Clara and Carolyn will help you delve deeply into various aspects of yoga to create a harmony within and find a sweet balance to take back home…
Take in all the yoga, meditation and exploration you like and top it off with long afternoon siestas in the sun. A truly sweet retreat.
Retreat will be held at Haramara Retreat centre.
November 14th-21st, 2015Includes: 2 Vinyasa Yoga Classes taught daily by Carolyn & Clara 3 yummy meals Airport Shuttle Accommodations at Haramara Prices: $1395 for Dorm that sleeps 4 $1560 for Triple Occupancy $1815 for Double Occupancy $2395 for Single Occupancy Link for description of Cabanas and Dorm, here All prices are in USD. Payment plans are available. If you’re more of a busy body, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, check out what the area has to offer, here. If you have any questions or would like to book, drop me a line, email@example.com
I’m rereading one of my favorite books of all time, Tantric Quest. In it, the author goes on a spiritual quest to learn about Kashmir Shivaism. He meets a tantrika who teaches him the philosophy. This passage makes my bones sing. I truly believe that this is a great illusion we’re feeding ourselves. If we just stay open and willing, the armor (curiasses) will crack and the light of our true nature will be seen.
“The play of purusha [spirit] and prakriti [matter] is limited by the action of these six tattvas called the six cuirasses. They are time, space, lack, limited knowledge, limited creativity and overall illusion.
This is extremely important point of Shivaism, since the consciousness is founded on and set free by these cuirasses, and that’s enlightenment or awakening. These cuirasses are like veils that prevent a spontaneous view of the self. Without them there would be no practice, no search. Everything would appear to us in its absolute nature.
The first cuirass is that of being subject to the illusion that time exists and that we are bound by it. This illusion fixes us within a limited time frame. It gives us the impression that time passes. After awakening, one discovers with wonder a new terrain where nothing is subject to time. It’s like waking up after a bad dream and realizing that this restriction was artificially imposed upon consciousness…That’s the first breath of awakening. It gives back a vitality, a color, and a clarity to everything seen outside of time.
The second cuirass is that which makes us believe we are subject to the illusion of space and that we are located there…After awakening, we realize suddenly that we are omnipresent…We are everywhere. There’s no point in space that is not our center…Once the boundaries of the ego shatter, the divine returns to the divine, energy to energy, space to space, the heart to the heart. Then anything is possible but nothing is certain…The highest Tantric teachings say that fundamentally there is no birth and no death, only the illusion…The debate over annihilation or eternal life is something adepts transcend as soon as they recognize the nature of their own minds.
The third cuirass is the illusion of believing that we lack something, that we are not whole. This is the illusion that pushes us to always be searching for a way, a teaching, a practice, one realization after another. It’s the one that pushes us beyond the Self. It’s the one that makes us unhappy, that makes us keep looking for new ways to be complete…Knowing this, the master invites the disciple to stop all external searching. No route leads to the Self. The true Tantric teacher is not me, nor some other; it’s the Self. There’s nothing to find out there. Everything divine that we look for out there is in us. To realize that is to find freedom.
The fourth cuirass is the illusion of believing that what we can know, what we apprehend of the absolute, is limited. We torture ourselves. We want to experience awakening…We are like a maharaja who owns unlimited land and walks along the wall that surrounds his palaces, mistaking himself for a beggar. No on would give him anything to eat for fear of insulting him or being punished. We have such thirst for knowledge that we are fooled by our power to know. It focuses on the exterior and deceives us with the illusion that we are going to find what we lack. Divine knowledge doesn’t grow by accumulation. The more you try to pile knowledge and experience, the more you paralyze your consciousness. Let’s abandon this knowledge. It inflates pride. When I say intelligence is not the way, I don’t mean to say intelligence must be rejected. I am simply saying that intelligence which accomplishes anything appears unsolicited. In tranquility it shines like a diamond. Let us return simply to the source of our consciousness and find there the treasure we sought on the outside. It’s enough to sit down, to forget books and discussion, to direct our attention toward the heart. There the divine is found. There is the place of respiration where our breath mingles naturally. The infinite is no more than that harmonious breathing, free of all thought.
The fifth cuirass is the illusion we harbor in believing our creativity is limited, sometimes even doubting that we possess the least trace of it. That’s what pushes us to revere what others produce. To have beauty flow past us isn’t enough. This urge, which can open us up to our unlimited creativity, is restrained by the idea that we aren’t capable of such splendor. We remain without a voice, the ribcage is constricted, overwhelmed by the beauty of the world. If we truly breathed, this cuirass would explode, and the object of our admiration would no longer be found in duality. The beauty of the world would then be ours. Mystical ecstasy is just this sudden explosion of the small me, which recognizes the divine Self. Everything gathered up in the consciousness is then projected into the infinite, and one can cry out in joy because in this moment all the beauty of world becomes part of the Self.
The five cuirasses are surrounded by a supreme cuirass, which is that of maya, illusion, in its own nature, which welds these different protective plates together and insures their artificial cohesion. We are decorated like fighting elephants, forever goaded by their driver. We advance with all our weight to get through life, never ceasing to battle. But one day, the battle takes a turn that leaves us covered with poisoned arrows. A young girl brings us something to drink…She bathes us in the river, and suddenly we find our grace, our lightness, our beauty again. So nothing stops us from spontaneously grasping the divine in ourselves. What we don’t know is that the smallest experience can be just this miraculous meeting with the small girl. So little can suffice. The scent of a flower, an open look, a breeze brushing against us–and suddenly the most solid of the cuirasses cracks, and through this gap all reality penetrates us, freeing us forever from gravity and separation.”
—Daniel Odier, Tantric Quest
Endings and Beginnings
“I sing praises to those whose hearts accept the universal order, which only appears to be chaotic and ever-changing. In actuality, everything is designed down to the smallest detail, to be in perfect operation. The dance of the universe is a happy one, with energy swirling and twirling in a never-ending celebration of life itself. Join this dance, dear one, and enjoy the remarkable journey of the weavings of the story of your life. Do not fear what appears to be change or loss. It’s only the transitioning orbit of energy interplaying with you and your loved ones. Embrace it as evidence that you’re alive! Embrace your deepest emotions as a signal of your true human essence!”
I came across this and wanted to share it with you…
As you look at the yantra, allow your eyes to focus on its center. This dot in the center is called the Bindu, which represents the unity that underlies all the diversity of the physical world.
Now allow your eyes to see the triangle that encloses the bindu. The downward pointing triangle represents the feminine creative power, while the upward facing triangle represents male energy.
Allow your vision to expand to include the circles outside of the triangles. They represent the cycles of cosmic rhythms. The image of the circle embodies the notion that time has no beginning and no end. The farthest region of space and the innermost nucleus of an atom both pulsate with the same rhythmic energy of creation. That rhythm is within you and without you.
Bring your awareness to lotus petals outside the circle. Notice that they are pointing outwards, as if opening. They illustrate the unfolding of our understanding. The lotus also represents the heart, the seat of the Self. When the heart opens, understanding comes.
The square at the outside of the yantra represents the world of form, the material world that our senses show us, the illusion of separateness, of well defined edges and boundaries. At the periphery of the figure are four T-shaped portals, or gateways. Notice that they point toward the interior of the yantra, the inner spaces of life. They represent our earthly passage from the external and material to the internal and sacred.
Now take a moment to gaze into the yantra, letting the different shapes and patterns emerge naturally, allowing your eyes to be held loosely in focus. Gaze at the center of the yantra on the page. Without moving your eyes, gradually begin to expand your field of vision. Continue expanding your vision until you are taking in information from greater than 180 degrees. Notice that all this information was there all along, you just became aware of it. Now slowly reverse the process by re-focusing back to the center of the yantra. Now gently close your eyes. You may still see the yantra in your mind’s eye. The patterns of creativity represented by these primordial shapes express the fundamental forces of nature. They govern the world and they govern you.
The One Who Is at Play Everywhere says,
There is a space in the heart
Where everything meets.
Come here if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity–all are here.
Are you here?
Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Listen to the sound that is always resonating.
Give yourself to it with total abandon.
Quiet ecstasy is here–
And a steady, regal sense
Of resting in a perfect spot.
You who are the embodiment of blessing,
Once you know the way,
The nature of attention will call you to return.
Again and again, answer that call,
And be saturated with knowing,
“I belong here, I am at home.”
-Lorin Roche, Radiance Sutras