Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I picked up an interesting book in Las Vegas the other day (that's Las Vegas New Mexico for those not from around here...). Its called the Book of Silence by Sara Maitland.

Interesting read. I really enjoy personal accounts of inner exploration, especially with those who really strike out on their own to avoid the contamination of religious and cultural influences. Reminds me a bit of Emerson and Thoreau.

Came across a word in the book which I didn't know so had to look up - ineffable. According to the first definition that came up on google:
  1. Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words: "ineffable beauty".
  2. Too sacred to be uttered.
This word is precisely what I have been struggling with lately... How to put to words the indescribable, the inner of the inner where words just don't quite fit?

I really admire people like Sara who have the courage to attempt to describe that place. She talks about how in addition to her personal researches into silence which as much as possible try to avoid external contaminants like too much reading or organized retreats, that she at some point did try to examine others experiences. She claims that every account she came across before the 19th century was unable to give much true outer expression to the inner experience. That many did not even try.

Pondering this a little, I feel that there is not only a gap between that space and our everyday experience, but that there is a gap within ourselves. To me this is like a wide gulf between the objective and instrumental (and deeper) layers of ourselves. It is almost like I can sometimes feel a wide gap between my outer and inner realms. It is almost like there are multiple levels of experience occurring simultaneously. Almost like a parallel universe or something wacky like that.

To attempt to cross that gap is the difficulty in bringing words to that deeper "experience". Expression, words, forms, all exist in our objective sphere and what occurs below that is so radically not the same.

We bring this depth up but somehow it "becomes less". It is like trying to bring a handful of rainbow filled water to show our friend who is up on the shore. When we arrive, the magic is gone. The water and especially the light reflecting from it is already lost. Perhaps our words can only lure the friend out to see for themselves, and even then it may reflect differently for them. Most likely will.

Interesting things to ponder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Objective, Instrumental, and Subjective

To elaborate further on some of these concepts lets discuss the differences between objective, instrumental, and subjective layering of consciousness in its manifestation of the phenomenal realm.

Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras discusses these three concepts in relation to intensive concentration or samadhi. This word samadhi is much misunderstood and we will come back to that.

Grahya is the word given for objective, grahana the instrument, and grahita the subject. Our language reflects these basic concepts. For example we have a sentence : I see a dog. Dog is the object. The dog could be my dog, hairy dog, dog on a roof, dog on my roof, dog who is ill... There are many qualifications that can occur through the objective layer. In fact we even confuse the subject and object. For example: I am a good person or I am a bad person. I am this, I am that. In sentences such as these we qualify the subject with the object and end up confusing the two. This is one of the major problems that Patanjali discusses in his sutras, a problem called avidya or ignorance of our real nature.

The objective realm is the realm of thought, of mind, of qualification, judgement, analysis. Many branches of knowledge, including those of liberation such as the yoga end up functioning through this realm. It is a realm of discontinuity as it separates and divides and individualizes an infinite array of form/name concepts.

When we come back to the sentence "I see the dog", the seeing itself is the instrumental layer. This seeing by itself can also become confused by the object as this objective layer tends to dominate the seeing. If I am in a room full of dogs and "I see many dogs", the concept of dog is going to fill our consciousness. The seeing itself is overlooked. When we come truly into the seeing we realize that it is pure in and of itself. Vasistha confirms this in his Yoga Vasistha when he says the senses by themselves are pure, it is the mind that pollutes them.

Many traditions not realizing the confusion of the instrumental and objective layers, see the problems inherent in the objective layer and tend to "throw the baby out with the bath water", attempting to dismiss the sensory layer in an effort to overthrow the objective element. This misses something big.

All of the senses when dived into fully reveal something vast, something continuous. It is here that we find the meaning of nebulous terms such as energy or prana. These concepts can only be discovered within this realm. However it is a bit tricky. The objective layer is like a vast horizontal continuum, seemingly going on forever. To truly find the instrumental layer, we cannot go horizontally like we have been doing. We have to dive. We have to go down. In. We have to shift to the vertical axis. This takes us into a realm that underlies the constructs of mind and the objective layer.

We find in this instrumental layer a vast continuity. It is not discontinuous. This continuity leads us right back to the subject. The experiencer of all experiences. And this is very different than the qualified I. It is pure in itself. It is clarity, luminosity, brilliance, awareness, presence. Our words do not fully do it justice.

The process of mudra which leads to samadhi takes us into this realm. Vyasa in his commentary on Yoga Sutra 1.1 tells us that samadhi is present in all states of mind. This gives us a clue that intensive concentration and ultimately samadhi are not something that is created. It is not something that is built by discontinuous elements of the objective realm like we might think. This mode is problematic and involves a very difficult task. It is rather something that is discovered. Or rather uncovered. It is an uncovering or discovering of the continuous nature of ourselves. Once this is tasted one has to habituate to it and recall how to "remember". This is smrti. Not mindfulness but rememberance. Not remembering like we remember a thought but remembering on the deepest level. Kind of like an attuning to something. Then it is just a slight reorientation of will at the deepest level that causes the unmesa/revealing of the luminous/continuous and the nimesa/disappearance/resolving of the discontinuous.

If we orient in this way we will have success. Patanjali tells us that we first need shraddha or faith, then energy, then smrti. Only then will we discover/uncover the nature of the continuous and arrive at samadhi. Holding to this through continuous habituation, we come to prajna or wisdom of our fundamental nature.

This is the process of mudra.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Relation of Unmesa and Nimesa to Mind

In practical terms, if one understands the twin processes that occur in the mudra, one has a much more powerful way to tame the processes that underlie the mind.

Consciousness/energy is at the root of all appearances within this world, for most of us only known or at least 90 something percent of the time known through the objective layer.

Mudra is like a one way arrow, a process of laya that points us in to the bindu.

The nimesa or disappearance is like a retreat or resolving of the energy which underlies objective phenomena, and through the sahita practices resolves itself into a particular waveform. At this point the unmesa or appearance of the continuity of consciousness/energy presents itself and expands into the depths of That.

This process is the deepest meaning of what is described in the Gita and the Yoga Sutras as abhyasa and vairagya. If one understands these principles on this level, there is far less violence, contrivance, and forcing. And as this process matures, one feels a deep current which one lets go into (which leads to the deeper kevala "processes"). At this point one only need orient to that inner current. This is why the sutras talk about Isvara Pranidhana after they discuss the practices of abhyasa/vairagyam.

This is all instrumental level of working. Attempting it through the objective layer will either not work or will take insane amounts of time.

Unmesa and Nimesa

In attempting to find words of late in describing the depth of the powerful process of mudra, I have consulted the Kashmiri texts. It seems that the Kashmiris really understood the deepest aspects of mudra and the full layering of the consciousness principle. They are not easy texts to consult, nor is the process of mudra easy to define in words.

Unmesa and Nimesa have been described by Jaideva Singh in his commentary to Spandakarika 1.1 as appearance and disappearance. These words don't totally convey the meaning though as it is not mere appearance and disappearance. They relate on the deepest level to the upward and downward "movement" of consciousness. The ascent and the descent. In relation to the central channels Arohan and Avarohan. The two processes are simultaneously related as Consciousness is one.

In the process of mudra, there is simultaneous contraction and expansion, narrowing and opening. In terms of the yoga, the bandha process ultimately points to and derives from the narrowing confining aspect. The fullness and opening of this process leads to profound opening. Mudra contains within it bandha and is thus a more complete concept but nevertheless it is important to see the "parts" within it.

This is why one "sees/feels" on one level the centralization through susumna nadi and the profound flowering or opening simultaneously.

This is all on the level of what yoga terms sahita, which is a term similar to the Kashmiri modes of conscious practice as opposed to kevala, which is more in line with completely unfabricated "modes". The words get difficult at this point and I will attempt to further clarify more later.

The main point in this discussion is that there is a certain "simultaneity" of expansion and contraction, containment and release, that is a part of this level (the sahita) level of mudra. If this practice is not understood in the practices of pranayama, the practices will only really be felt on the grossest of levels. True pranayama and further the nirodha of the mind with all of its stages will only reach fruition with this depth of work. Further, mantra sadhana will be far accelerated with this type of practice, as one learns to integrate mantra and mudra. It is here that one really sees the depth of mantra and what it is capable of.

On the level of the tantra, the yantra practices help one to internalize this process more readily. The Sri Cakra is the ultimate representative of these twin principles.


Hi everyone,

I thought I would start posting again. Its not that there haven't been words in the last 6 months, rather that there have been so many and some of them coming in ways and words that I just have not known how to express. In many ways right now is even harder to write as I feel myself pulling into a cocoon of retreat, right in the midst of the world.

The depth of the mudra is vast. The power of the mantra is incalculable. The instrumental layer of consciousness is filled with such a strange quality of bliss, joy and total clarity. Exploring these arenas, one is left wondering what to say. Yet I find it important somehow to try.

Just a short note to let you know that I will attempt to cross this apparently uncrossable chasm and bring you some more words soon.

much love, Matt