Take Care of Your Mind First.
The greatest gift meditation has ever taught me is that a much larger percentage than I thought of the world around me is self created. All the stories I make up about what’s going on around is exactly that, stories. So sit still Clara and really see what’s going on around you.
A great excerpt that nails it:
“Sri Ramakrishna Parahamsa told this fine story: A few people were walking along the road early in the morning, and they saw a man lying on the side of the road. The first one said, ‘He must have spent the whole night gambling and couldn’t reach home, so he fell asleep here. Gamblers are like that. The don’t reach home safely.’ Then he walked away.
The next one spoke, ‘Poor man, he must be very ill. We shouldn’t disturb a sick man. Let him rest there.’ Then he walked away.
The third one came and said to the man on the roadside, ‘You’re a bum. You don’t know how to drink. Don’t you know one or two is enough? Probably they gave you free drinks, and now you’re down.’ He treated him as a drunkard.
The first fellow thought the man had been gambling and was sleeping. The second thought he was sick, and the third thought he was drunk. Then the fourth man spoke: ‘A saint doesn’t care where he is. Probably he’s in higher consciousness, samadhi. A saint can be anywhere…This man is probably above physical consciousness. Let’s not disturb him.’ Then he bowed and walked away.
We don’t know who was right. All four may have been wrong. They all saw the same person differently because they projected themselves. A drinker thinks the other is a drunk. A saint sees a saint. The world as you perceive it is nothing but your own projection. If there is hell in your mind, you won’t see heaven anywhere. If there is heaven in your mind, you can’t see hell anywhere. That’s why it’s said, ‘Correct your vision, and you will see the truth.’ Self -reformation will bring the right view…The teaching given here is: Take care of your own mind first.”
–Sri Swami Satchindanada, The Living Gita
“Having equal vision means you don’t see anybody as low or high. To you both thief and police officer are equal. You don’t see the superficial. The Self of the thief is the same as that of the police officer. Something is playing the part of the thief, and that same something is playing the part of the police officer. Because the sage is rooted in the Self, they see both as Self. So, for the sage, they are equal.
This explains the Biblical commandment, “Love your neighbor as your Self.” It doesn’t say, “Love only your good neighbor as your Self,” or “Love your neighbor who has the same label. If he’s Catholic, love him. If she’s Protestant, throw stones at her.” No. It simply says, “your neighbor.” And who is your neighbor? The one sitting next to you now, or in the next room, the next house, or the next town. Everyone close to you is your neighbor.
But how to love your neighbor as your own Self? You have to see your Self in that person. Otherwise, you can’t love them as your own Self. How can you see your Self in another if you don’t know your Self? Suppose I say, “Here’s a banana. Please see the banana that you had yesterday in this banana.” To do that you should have had a banana yesterday in order to know what a banana is. Only then will you recognize one and the other as the same. If I don’t know what a banana is, I can’t say this one is the same as the other, and I love his as I loved the other banana.
The clue here is to know your Self and then see your Self in your neighbor. Then love them as you love your Self. That’s why someone who has realized Self will always have equal vision based on that Self or that spirit. A Divine-realized person will see nothing but Divinity everywhere, even though that Divinity may be clothed in different forms and using different names. That’s why Lord Krishna says that whether it’s a dog or an outcast or a great spiritual person, it’s all the same to a person of wisdom.
How can we truly come together? Only with this spiritual knowledge—not by mental, physical or financial knowledge. We can never find oneness in any of these areas, no in the name of a country, race, creed, community, money or education. They only way to see everybody equally is in that divine vision. The we see the same truth colored different ways.
I’m stressing the point here because we often talk about unity, oneness and harmony. But true harmony can be experienced only by realizing spirit and seeing that spirit in everybody. In all other areas we see differences. Such harmony won’t last long. When people dress the same way or speak the same language, they in a sort of harmony. But if somebody speaks a different language, they are seen as different. It’s not universal harmony then. There ’s only one universal truth. That’s the great advantage of realizing one’s own true Self.”
— Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Living Gita
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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!”