Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Subjective

I want to take a moment to discuss the layer beneath the instrumental layer, the subjective. Recall that Patanjali, the compiler of the yoga sutras discussed three distinct modes of awareness that he terms the objective, the instrumental, and the subjective. We have discussed the objective and instrumental quite a bit so far. Time to take a look at the subjective.

 For many years I used to follow a form of vichara (the practice of moving in) dedicated to asking the question "who am I"? I won't say it wasn't an interesting journey of investigation but years later I have come to question "why"?

In other words why ask that question? It is funny and very strange to me that the very question contains within itself an axiom. It contains within itself an assumption. That there is an I. That someone can ask the question. I remember my mind continually annihilating itself trying to "get somewhere" with the answer... Quite funny really.

What do we really mean by I? When we examine closely, not so much to determine who I am (and definitely not trying to describe preference or personality) but if we examine carefully what we mean by I we come to the fact that there is a certain localization of energy that is presenting itself in this very time and space.

Localization. Even the best inquirers I have known in the world, even the ones who claim to not be the body, that claim to be just consciousness, all of these practitioners cannot escape their locality. I haven't met one that is omnipresent, omnipowerful, all knowing (can tell me and everyone else exactly what they are thinking and more).

Where am I going with this? There is a tendency in modern spiritual culture to overcome and move through the ego. To transcend the ego. What are we transcending? If there truly is no ego why do we even bother? What are we giving energy to?

In my investigations through long enquiry, I have found that ego is something that exists only on the objective level of mind. Nowhere else. Ego is a defined thought about a me, from which arises preference for this or that.

At the instrumental level does ego exist? Here in my investigations, there is only locality, localization in this time and this space. Nothing screams out "me". I don't see an "I" in locality. There isn't even really any definition. Pure seeing in itself, pure hearing in itself, pure sensing in itself involves no "I". But strangely there is localization in these pure acts of witness.

What is this localization of continuity that presents itself from moment to moment? Like I say, I have not met one practitioner who has overcome localization. I have heard tale of some but never met them.

Localization is interesting. It still is invested in self preservation of that very locality. Think for example of a time when you were in danger. The deep sensory localization most likely took over to remove you as rapidly as possible from the situation. This is witnessed all the time in the animal kingdom.

Even to expand into space with meditation on the subtler element, this localization of consciousness/bliss/energy/awareness always reforms itself around this local body phenomena. Could the body truly talk and move if not?

This localization to me is the subjective level that Patanjali describes in his yoga sutras. Not the ego. I used to think the ego itself was the subject but truly the locality is the common meeting point of all sensory instrumental level modes of experience.

To recap and summarize, I don't follow exactly in my own investigations the same track described by the samkhya. In my direct experience, the senses are prior to the objective mode of thought that many call the mind. Many traditions place this mind prior to the senses, a belief which I do not relate to. Ego for me dies with the mind. The continuity of awareness however precedes that and functions through the differentiation of the 5 elements which I witness as the senses. And all of these resolve into what I call locality or what we might call the subjective level of continuum.

There is more I would like to say on this, regarding how the continuum functions through the subjective, instrumental, and objective modes and about what lies beyond the subjective mode. Interesting questions about space and time travel as well. Also questions such as : is the locality truly a problem? More on that later.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Introduction to Khecari Mudra

I want to discuss the highly revered, much misunderstood, and most profound Khecari Mudra.

Khecari means to "move in space". To fully understand this mudra we have to know which nadis, which senses are connected to space since this mudra involves the subtlest of all the 5 traditional elements.

The space element corresponds traditionally to the matrix that holds and gives rise to sound, and thus deals with the action organ of speech (the tongue) and also the knowledge organ of hearing (the ear). Most traditional hatha texts only focus on the work with the tongue but if we limit ourselves to just this organ we only have half the equation necessary for the fullness of this profound mudra.

Traditionally in the hatha yoga, one is required to take a long process of cutting or severing the frenum of the tongue in order to drive it back into the region of space in the throat. Other practices are described, including using mantra. I have not met one practitioner yet who has been fully initiated into this practice in a way that has been passed down through lineage. One senior teacher even told me once that Krishnamacarya reviled this practice, thinking it obscene.

There are other traditions than the hatha that discuss the Khecari Mudra, including the Shaivite tradtitions of Kashmir. These traditions hold the mudra as something much more akin to an internal gesture, more along the lines of the mudras I have been discussing in this blog. I am fascinated by the range of practices here. Khecari is also one of the 10 Devis that is associated with the Dasa Mudras of Sri Vidya.

Starting with the hatha tradition, I will begin the discussion of Khecari along these lines, working towards the deeper understanding given in the Shaivite texts.

I personally began to place the tongue back into the cavity of my throat at the age of eight, without cutting the frenum, and have done so for literally dozens to hundreds of times daily since then. It is a quite natural process for me. My tantra Guru did the same from about the same age. I have taught a handful of people this technique without the severing of the frenum. I seriously question the cutting process, considering it violent. Maybe we should sever the muscle tendons to bend our bodies forward more easily? The rationals I have heard in justification of the cutting fail to impress or move me.

That being said, the movement of the tongue backward on its own will not bring anything by itself. If this was the case, I would have had many profound experiences from an early age. There is more that is required.

What does it mean to take the tongue backwards? When we look at the tongue it is an interesting organ from the perspective of classical Samkhya. It is both a knowledge organ of taste as well as an action organ of speech. No other organ covers both action and knowledge like the tongue. For the purposes of khecari mudra however we have to concentrate on its speech aspect.

Bhagalamukhi is one of the 10 forms of Devi. She is a powerful weapon. She takes the tongue and pulls it, striking the practitioner, rendering him or her mute. She is the form of Devi who holds our speech and reverses it, driving it in. When we perform Khecari mudra, much more than taking the tongue inside the throat, we must drive the entire sense of speech backward and up. We have to go to the very root of speech, name, and sound inside of ourselves. This function exists at a very deep root level.

In the Sri Cakra, the bindu evolves first into the three (the inner triangle). From there the Vag Devatas are born, the 8 triangles, the 8 devis who rule sound and speech itself.  These first 3 avaranas or levels of the yantra are, according to my Guru, the yantra of Bala Tripurasundari herself. They are the child form of Devi. Why the child? Because the Devi is young here. In other words, this expression is at one of the earliest stages of creation's expression. "In the beginning was the Word..."

This gives us a clue that this mudra goes back, goes deep, to a very root level of our created being. When we drive the tongue back, we are really going back far, to a level before name, before sound, before speech. This needs to be understood far much more than just driving the tongue backwards, especially by violent means.

The other aspect of Khecari that I have never seen talked about, is the work with the ears. Like Shambhavi Mudra which uses the eyes, the Khecari uses the ears. In fact, the process of working with the ears can be learned from the practice of the eyes in Shambhavi. The eyes can readily inform the ears with this work and help to introduce one to Khecari. The orientation is different but the internal gesture is the same.

Khecari is powerful. When we move into space, boundaries become vague and even lost. One possible anchor for the beginner here is to focus on the inner sound. I'll talk more on this in a later post. The space element at its fullest also completely annihilates structure, structure that gives rise to conditioning, good and bad. Name and form hold our structure, and with the power of mudra, these elements become ethereal like ghosts.

In the beginning, with this work, the beginners should focus on the ears, the expanse and vastness that opens up in the "focus" and "space" around sound. Go back, back before the construct of sound. Go into the womb that gives rise to and supports name and sound.

If you feel so inclined, direct the tongue back daily, even constantly. It will go back eventually on its own. One tip here is to direct it to the soft palate and not the uvula. The soft palate itself will soften over time by the focusing of attention there. Then eventually it will push up under the uvula. Tongue milking exercises can help to loosen the stiff tongue.

More later on this powerful mudra (much more).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mudra and Continuity

Mudra is like a powerful gift from the sky.

Whatever direction we face, mudra allows us to inherit our birthright again and again, a reflex that draws us back into the fold of our continuous nature.

There are as many mudras as directions in the sky. Slightly different in orientation and at the same time similar in nature, the powerful practice/gesture of mudra acts to dissolve our discontinuity to join with the ocean.

How do we do this? Two major components are required: acceptance and relaxation.

Acceptance requires that we turn away from nothing. If we cannot accept something, anything, there is a certain disconnect, a certain discontinuity that is created within ourselves. The inability to accept causes a polarization, a split. I am not talking about preference here or not liking something. This acceptance is a much deeper level acceptance about one's self and the world. Acceptance allows healing of deep cultural and karmic wounds and divisions that have been with us for millennia. Acceptance allows healing of deep guilt, shame, fear, and anger. Acceptance allows for compassion and love to arise both for ourselves and others.

When we face any direction with acceptance, we then relax. Relax into continuity. As we learn to relax, the continuity embraces us. Our continuous nature draws us in and holds us. We see, we feel, we know that we are not separate. Relaxation is important as continuity is felt. Our senses are not separate from that continuity. This type of relaxation is a release on all levels. We surrender. We let go into that continuity. Our limited nature cannot cling to discontinuity to try to hold on, because what it clings to is like a mirage.

Mudra means gesture. At the deepest level of mudra, the level I write about, the gesture is internal. It only takes a slight movement of orientation to release centuries of clinging. We just let go. I am not talking about letting go of things, letting go of attachment even. This letting go allows for all possibilities. This letting go is purely of limitation. It is a release into the vast sky of our true self. No text, no tradition, no person can give this gift to you. It is outside of all traditions, outside of all cultural and spiritual bindings. It is so familiar you may miss it if you try to hold it to one position of discontinuity.

May you all find the true joy of this wonderful gift of mudra. Let the continuity embrace you. Its arms have been open and waiting for you. Always.

Continuity vs Uniformity

There is an old myth about Siva pissing off the Goddess. It takes different forms this myth. Anyway, the goddess becomes angry with Siva and takes 10 different forms, surrounding him on all sides, in the 8 directions and above and below. These forms are called the Dasa Maha Vidyas.
No matter which direction Siva turns he sees her. Some of the forms are quite nasty in appearance, some beautiful.

When we look in any direction, we only see the Mother. Our continuity surrounds us from every direction. There is no direction we can turn that we do not see Her.

This is one of the most powerful secrets of the tantra, that there is no place that She is not. Everything in this world is nothing but Her.

One of the biggest mistakes in contemporary and traditional spirituality is thinking that the God/Goddess has one face. When we emphasize one face, it is like we are only turning forever in one direction. We ignore or deride the other directions with the preference of facing only one way. This prevents us from seeing the totality of what is.

When Arjuna asks to look at Krishna in the 11th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, he is awed, amazed when Krishna reveals his fullness. And then he is even horrified. So much that he begs to be veiled again from the truth. The totality of what God is is overwhelming for him.

Our tendency might be to think of the continuity itself as uniform. I made this mistake for many years and this only tended to create a subtle nasty duality and preference. In fact the continuity itself is NOT uniform. It is like the ocean, very different in all its glory but yet one continuous ocean.

Understanding this allows you to "enter" the continuity at any place, any point. Whatever is present is nothing separate from that. Understanding this you can always "dive". Dive into the fullness of what you are.

This understanding allows everything to come into the sphere of "practice". Wherever we are, we dive. We join the continuity or the continuity accepts us back in each moment. The prodigal son/daughter is always welcomed back, for the discontinuity has actually never been, other than like a dream.

Acceptance is key here. Acceptance of the fullness of God, of the totality of God.

Of ALL that this creation has given us.

Such Joy!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The element of space is wide open. Anything can happen. And does. There is no right or wrong here, no good or bad. There is no place to fall but into utter and total neutrality and acceptance. There IS right and wrong here. There IS good and bad. There is the possibility of falling into extremes.

The crow, black as space, shouts its name "kha". The crow so sweet and tormenting at the same time. Flying forever in freedom on waves of the wind.

This black is seen when we look out at night, when we look at Mother Kali. This blackness swallows us up, destroys our conceptions, our cultural boundaries, our identity, our limitation. Simultaneously it allows for them all. It is unbounded.

When we truly enter space, we have no foothold. None. There is no reference frame. Our spirituality, our practice, everything that we hold sacred even is stripped from us. Simultaneously it is allowed. What a mystery!

Relying for so many years on tradition, even with the glorious tantra, this is the most shocking thing that hit me. Again and again. That these traditions have stain, stain that blots out, that binds, that constricts. To let these go and fall into the vastness of space requires courage. Courage to let these constrictions go. And when we attempt to limit space, even with best intentions, we fall back to earth. To our bindings. And we struggle along and do our work, creatures of the earth.

Quite amazing. Quite awesome. Indescribable. How can we limit this immense Mother?

Hail Kali Ma.
I expected some heads to fall, but not others. There is no limit to the number of swords she wields, letting you know that if you attempt to be like the hydra, there will be no remorse.

Hail Kali Ma.
Giver of life and taker of life. Allowing all to walk within her fold. Taking them back at her will.

Hail Kali Ma.
Hail the Queen of Space. Hail to the Space itself, that womb which births us and takes us back again.