Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Concentrated Mind Field, Creation and Completion Stage, and Mudra

I wanted to discuss today the role of mudra in the act of concentrating the mind.

For many years I labored unsuccessfully at concentrating the mind other than just briefly. It was only when I started to get "underneath" the breath and discovering the power of mudra that mind started to fall into line.

The Bhagavad Gita says "The mind is restless and as difficult to control as the wind." As I've mentioned previously, this is a double edged statement. On one hand, its saying the mind is extremely difficult to control. On the other side of the blade, this statement is saying that the mind is as easy to control as the wind...  The pranic wind.

The Hathapradipika quotes a great line from Yoga Vasistha "To control the mind, control the wind, to control the wind, control the mind."

We can access the point of control through either. But the most important point is to understand what is beneath each. In this place where the two are one, there is a singular substance. The basis of Consciousness itself. From this place arises what is called in yoga, Buddhi. Buddhi is alert choiceless awareness of "I", as well as the tipping point for its movement which is the Will.

The light or awareness aspect should be merged with its movement in our attention. This is accessed through mudra. Details on the mudra are found elsewhere in this blog.

Mudra is like a large moon which drives the tide of force, magnetic in nature, that moves the sea of prana. The driftwood of the body and gross mind are led by this sea.

Prana is felt. Why do we say this? Because the wind element is said in Samkhya theory to connect with what we call Sparsa. Sparsa is not easily definable in English. It is like "inner touch". Imagine for a moment the feeling you have on your skin. Imagine that everything within you 'touches' in the same way. You can call it the nerve endings through the body but this isn't enough as this is just a concept. It has to be an immediate direct felt experience of one's entirety, including mind, body, breath, feeling, and sensation.

Now, that sparsha or direct sensory feeling has to be moved. We move this through the tidal practice of the tantric breathing technique given a few writings ago in the pranayama posts. This tidal breathing practice should be one with the mudra work, engaging the mudra at each point of polarity shift. If one stays with this practice long enough, we encounter directly the phenomena called samadhi, where it appears as if there is only one thing, not two. In other words, we are one with the movement or sparshic field.

Pranayama like this can be done anywhere, not just in the seated position. At least the basic techniques of shifting and holding polarities. We can do it literally at almost any moment, explaining why in the texts like Hathapradipika they say to do so many rounds in one day. We can do far more than they suggest...

Working with the field this way regularly will lead to a oneness with it. 

At this point, when we are one with the field, it can be directed. The will and the movement are not two. At this point we can construct any number of possible internal constructions which will have a direct, although perhaps grossly unobservable effect on reality. There is a lot to say at this point. At this point we are accessing what the Tibetans call Creation Stage. This is not mere imagination or visualization. This is felt imagination or what I like to call srsti or creation.

There is a very common misconception that meditation involves something solid or stable. But stability arises out of movement. This is discussed very clearly in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali when he discusses the notion of parinama or transformation of state. Parinama involves movement. It is a gradient shift. For example, when you hold a cup in your hand and hold the cup still, is your hand moving or is it still?

Answer: it is not still. Examine this until you understand. Its directly relevant to the understanding of mudra and parinama. Even just catching wind of that movement and becoming one with it will guide you into the practice of mudra.

Back to creation. Many suggestions are given in the texts, from deity work, to points of light, to cakras and adhara meditations, the elements, to internal yantras, to kundali arousal. All of these are possible and these are only a small number of the possibilities. The more one works with these techniques, the more that open up. The doorways become infinite in number.

In the beginning, if the mudra is not strong, the forms will not hold. The important point to remember is to strengthen the mudra, have a union of clarity and feeling, and then to direct the movement from that union. The images or forms will sharpen in clarity as the magnetic force of mudra increases. They can become quite sharp in definition. It is like "inner focus" or "inner clarifying" at this stage, in the same way that we focused or clarified the eyes externally in shambhavi. The difference here with creation stage however is that, unlike the first stage of shambhavi, where we were letting go of form, here we are actually creating and sustaining form, but it is done with the union of clarity and feeling/sparsha. This is akin to unifying the subjective, instrumental and objective states that Patanjali discusses, in a singular act.

What is the result of this? Change. As Crowley defines magic, "magic is the act of causing change to occur in conformity with will". We may not be moving say, a physical object with our mind, but once you sit with what you are moving, you will realize that moving the sea is far more important than moving a single piece of driftwood. This is creating effects on the deep level of conditioning, of vasana. It takes a lot in a consensus reality as strong as the one we are living in to affect things directly. Most of our work will alter things here over time. This work will cause negatively conditioned processes to halt and turn around, shifting the driftwood over time. Of course, there are those times that we do experience direct, fast results. We notice the effects immediately in our bodies and minds. And we may be changing more than our limited minds can comprehend. I have been witness to some interesting things...

It is helpful to note that at the end of the practice, we can dissolve all forms into innate clarity. All forms arise from that fundamental clarity. We emphasize the clear light aspect of the mudra. This is Completion Stage. The dissolution of form and the resting in the basis.

From the perspective of what we call Sat, Cit, Ananda, or Reality/Being, Consciousness, and Bliss, the mudra can be emphasized from any of these perspectives, as they are all one. When we emphasize the Bliss and Consciousness aspects, in conjunction with Nama Rupa or name and form, we can access the creation stage. When we emphasize the Consciousness and Sat aspects we just rest in the basis.

To understand this, play with the two beginning aspects of Shambhavi mudra, the sight and then the feeling aspect.  Learn to emphasize one or the other. Learn to unite the two. Learn to combine them with inner forms. Shape and move the forms. Dissolve the forms and rest in basis.

Create. Sustain. Dissolve.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Some Thoughts on the State of the World and My selves


I “accidentally” hit the video on youtube today for the National’s “half awake in a fake empire" (the version with Ryan Lewis). My girls ended up watching it and then one of them asked, “What was that about?” I didn’t really know how to answer a 7 year old that question. I just cried instead.

Since coming “back to civilization” from New Mexico (yes New Mexico feels like being on a distant mountaintop) and moving to Seattle, we have been brought back into the fray of 'in your face' samsara. Or perhaps it was just me in New Mexico, hiding on the mountaintop so skillfully that I refused to even see the samsara there. I admit full responsibility for hiding. And of course it isn’t easy, even for a modern day person who lives like a king compared to 90 percent of the world, raising 2 children, having a family with 2 working parents, dealing with your shit, your relationship, modern living, school lunch, do this, do that. It’s why we left “civilization” in the first place. To get the fuck out. To escape and heal. 

Fine. Did that. Escaped. Healed. Became whole. Fine and good. I had that luxury. Maybe it was my karma, maybe just sheer random draw. It was a raft like Shankaracarya tells us in the Vivekacudamani, a raft that gave us brief reprieve from the storm. We took advantage of it. 

I see many unable to take ahold of the raft. For many there may not even be a raft. Or they may be unable to see it. 

            Some recent events:
Nicole takes the bus to work everyday downtown. Sees a white man enraged getting on the bus with his kid. Nearly beats him telling him to sit down. The kid gets excited about something outside the window. The guy nearly kills him. The kid looks up and just asks if he can give him a hug. The man doesn’t respond.

I meet a very loyal old student “randomly” here and it turns out she is facing losing her job at Boeing, the state’s largest employer. Turns out they are eliminating options for telecommuters, the folks that work out of home. All fine and good except for the folks like my friend who are single mothers and have a young child at home. Why are they doing this? To outsource the jobs overseas.  If she quits, she loses her retirement and benefits she has accumulated over the last 15 years. How’s that for loyalty?

We are facing having to pay 3000 dollars for our youngest to enter kindergarten next year and that’s public school. Hmmm. I was under the impression that public school came out of our tax dollars. But Oh, I forgot, Washington State doesn’t have income tax. Never mind that some of the richest people in the country are here, lets help them get richer. Fuck the schools. And hey, those large corporations probably need the tax breaks anyway…

I basically lost one of my best friends a few weeks back who got involved in a “spiritual” pyramid scheme. Who can blame her really? We’re all struggling. Who wouldn’t want to make 40,000 dollars by only giving 5 K into an “abundance circle.” Never mind that the math doesn’t add up (does 8 = 1?) and that you’re asking the universe to give you 40 back for 5. The “dessert” comes from basically fucking over 8 people. But its “spiritual” and a “women’s circle” so somehow it comes out all right. Anyone ever hear of the law of conservation of energy?

But then again corporate America is one big pyramid scheme isn’t it? And it’s all perfectly legal. I hear all this shit about how corporations like Walmart create jobs. And “Oh, they’re liberal or Oh, but they supported Obama…” Those are the funniest ones. Lets look for a minute at the first excuse. Jobs? Really? I had a friend here who recently traveled to Aberdeen, WA and said it was like a ghost town, except for the Walmart, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Whatever…  If we consider that if Walmart wasn’t there, we would see in Aberdeen: clothiers, tool shops, car mechanics, local groceries, toy stores, book stores, music stores, appliance shops, and how many others? They would all be small businesses with people making far more money. And the economy would be local. Second excuse, don’t even get me started on Obama. What the fuck has he really done for us, for America? No, really…

The selling of false liberalism and spirituality is a real sham. People very easily can lose their discernment. Of course, if you look at the curriculums in today’s schools, teaching discernment is not on the agenda. In fact, the curriculums are not even original. Our oldest child has the same homework here that she had in New Mexico. Stock sheets of standardized paperwork that sometimes is hard for me to even follow. Utter trash. One of my friends here who homeschooled his kids last year said they completed the entire “curriculum” for the year in ¾ of the days and in only 3 hours a day. Hmmm…

But back to false liberalism. When we see only two choices on the menu, it limits our options. I see vanilla and chocolate but what if I want strawberry? What about the billion other flavors? It is far too easy to become conditioned by the news, the sources that tell us it’s this way or that. I find out a lot more personally by daily interactions with folks. Direct contact. Look at what’s going on around us. Really look. We don’t need the news to tell us that things are a bit out of balance.

Same with the false spiritualism. I see a lot of cutesy “spiritual wisdom” quotes on Facebook but not as many first hand accounts of personal investigations into what these things are saying (and many kudos to those of you who do this work and do say something). Buddha said this, Ramana said that, Krishna or Christ said…. What do you say? Are we so castrated energetically that we have lost our true voice? Have we lost the ability to reason, discern, practice, and move forward with our own power?

Of course so many are exhausted. Tired. Beat down. Kids. Work. The grind. The day in day out. Most barely have time for practice. I understand. I think. But really? If we don’t find the time for cultivation and practice in our lives now then when? I groan many days when I look at what’s on the schedule. This. That. This. Then that. But I have it easy compared to many. Good to remember that. How do we integrate cultivation and daily living? I know how I do it. I get up early. I practice in my sleep (no really…). I watch every moment between the movements and during. If all of us stopped blaming the outside for our lack of time to cultivate, let it get us down, and found a way we might find the ground shifting underneath us.

Its like some cosmic drama, some cosmic battle playing itself out. Do we see it? Is there a way to transform the obstacles into freedom, the shit into gold? Both Rama and Ravana are God. It’s an interesting play. Notice that neither are sitting on the sidelines. Neither of them are hiding out in their rooms. I admit, most of the time I would rather do that myself… But the screams taking place outside truly get to me. Or are those the screams inside my own heart? Time to pick up the sword… Fuck.

The outside is not different from the inside. The internal work is reflected in the outer work. The outer is in the inner. That was one thing that truly terrified me in New Mexico one day sitting on my porch. It’s why I decided to “come back”. Can I change anything? I can examine and refine my will. I can pay attention. I can speak up when I feel more like hiding in a hole. Even when people turn away from me or throw shit. I can recognize more and more my daily hypocrisies (yes, I like my Ipad...).

Life is dirty. Spiritual work is dirty. It ain’t clean. Or maybe the shit itself is truly gold waiting to be transformed. Perhaps there is more than one way to look at it. I do prefer black robes to white. I prefer Saturn to Venus most days. Even though he tends to beat the shit out of me. At least it keeps me awake.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Highest Action is in the Mind or the Deconstruction of Consensus Reality

This article serves 2 major purposes, to demonstrate the power of the individual mind as equivalent to and even far greater than mere physical action as well as to show that one of the major responsibilities of the true power of mind lies in deconstructing the shackles of consensus reality which serve to bind us into narrow constraints.

There is a tendency of many to consider action as something of the physical body. Thoughts themselves are commonly dismissed as being separate from the physical world we live in. When we consider though that all physical structures have started as ideas in the mind as well as considering that consensus entities like corporations, money, and property are all really objects held in the mind then we start to really take a look at the power of consciousness in terms of its manifest ability.

"I shall now declare to you the creation and its secret. For, it is only as long as one invests the perceived object with reality that bondage lasts; once that notion goes, with it goes bondage."

                                                                                                Yoga Vasistha 3.1

"By names and images are all powers awakened and re-awakened."

                                                                  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

These are only 2 quotes of many suggesting that the power of the mind, with its associated names and images/forms, has the capacity for true power and the potential for shifting what we perceive as the "external reality".

If the mind has such power, then why is it that we feel so helpless and fearful in the face of what seems to be an incredible weight of problems in our lives? I would say that it is due to our internal fragmentation. Many of us want to change and unify the world but we do not know how to unify and internally rewire ourselves. Part of the illusion lies in the fact that we consider ourselves one stream of consciousness, or one individual personality and not many. Do we ever notice the internal wars inside of ourselves? Even more interesting, do we notice that what we fight with on the outside, what we perceive as an external war is oftentimes a reflection of our own internal wars? Our tendency is to externalize ourselves and "put the responsibility on someone else". In this way we can avoid deep seated feelings of guilt and shame by having an external scapegoat to carry the load for us. This only gets compounded by external consensus.

As I've stated previously in my blog on the Internal Bodhisattva, I believe that only by truly healing and unifying all of the streams and identities within ourselves will we truly be able to release 100 percent of our inherent power, which is colossal. Most of us are only operating at a very low percentage of potential, precisely because we are internally conflicted with ourselves. The "spiritual" us beats up the "material" us or any other infinite number of possible internal conflicts. Acceptance is the key to truly starting down this road of healing. Acceptance and discernment. The taking of responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions.

When we start to have the condition of inner union within ourselves, what do we do with this immense release of energy? Do we just check out and hang on the mountain? Or do we utilize the new found recognitions by applying them with the power of generosity? What is true generosity and help? Is it agreeing with consensus reality or it is finding the courage to call bullshit? Facing the possibility of becoming an outcast among not only society but also religious and spiritual organizations? It takes true courage at this point to find and continually seek for authenticity in every situation. To have the courage to disagree, not only with what everyone disagrees with in our circle but also to have the courage to question the paradigms that even these circles close to us cling to.

As many times as I have cherished the Yoga Vasistha (I have studied it intensely for 20 years now), I have also thrown it across the room in utter disgust. I abhor Vasistha's tendency to dismiss nature and truly revile his tendency to cling to outmoded patriarchal paradigms. Nevertheless, he speaks truths, powerful truths which I cannot simultaneously dismiss. The more I disagree, sit with, chew it out for myself, the more the depth of it truly comes alive in me.

When a friend goes on about how great Obama is, I oftentimes play "devil's advocate" talking about the hypocrisy and bullshit that also goes on in his organization. Does that make me a Republican? No. It makes me a free thinker, and one that gives a shit about deconstructing these comfortable plateaus that even I want to hang out and sit on for some time.

But being comfortable never gets us very far.

I see a lot of cutesy pop-wisdom spiritualism on platforms like Facebook. These pop-quotes with the lovely pictures are like a two-edged sword. One one hand they may actually inspire and direct one's mind in a direction that brings more freedom. On the other hand, they may also inspire laziness and the tendency towards being submerged in certain spiritual beliefs that actually increase one's bondage in invisible threads of subtlety. Honestly I prefer reading original accounts of people's experiences, the ones that are pushing the envelope in the modern day.

Our minds are powerful. We barely recognize how powerful they are for both freeing us as well as ensnaring us. Waldo Viera, a Brazilian consciousness researcher who has been working decades in the fields of consciousness and the multidimensional nature of man/woman discusses these concepts that have been around since time immemorial, about how thought/feelings are actions that shape and define our world. Simple thoughts in our minds, what we dismiss perhaps as meaningless, actually build and shape vibratory mental bodies, which in turn act directly on the world.

Many traditions, both Western and Eastern acknowledge this but do we witness this directly? Do we truly see the causal relationships between our minds and this world? I think sometimes we ignore it because it can be truly terrifying. Why terrifying? Because we are scared at how powerful we actually are. Chogyam Trungpa once wrote an amazing article on the terror of space. It is terrifying to the mind that wants a comfortable structure to hang out in because in space there is nothing that constrains it. The ability of movement becomes unlimited.

"In this world whatever is gained is gained only by self effort... What is called fate or divine will is nothing other than the action or self-effort of the past. They indeed are fools who are satisfied with the fruits of their past effort, which they regard as divine will, and do not engage themselves in self-effort now."
                                                                                                          Yoga Vasistha 2.6

The more that we become used to living in the freedom of space, the depth of power that our true will and minds can unleash, the more that we will have to capacity to start to shape in positive ways and even shatter harmful consensus realities with authenticity and pure deep level intention.

I abhor traditions that dismiss the will. One student brought up the whole thing about how science has determined that action in the physical body has been proven to come before the thought of it (discussed in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). This is easily explainable to me not as proof of the non existence of free will but rather that the true will lies prior to the body. The deep level decision making process which arises from what the yogis call the buddhi, is prior to the body. This gross shell is only one of our many layers. What causes us to consider that decisions are even formulated by the brain? The scientific paradigm? The modern scientific paradigm is not a paradigm of direct recognition but rather one of collected consensus viewpoints based upon axioms which themselves are thoughts.

Taking responsibility for our personal will frees us. To think for ourselves, to act for ourselves, to shape the world through the power of authentic expression, released from the shackles of conformity and comfort. It takes courage. Courage to actually express our individual nature which itself is the true divine expression and the ultimate fulfillment of our dharma.

What we think causes changes, whether we immediately see this or not. Thought is energy. The more that we recognize this, the more that we clue in to the changes that are occuring as a direct result of our minds. This gives us faith. Faith in the power of consciousness. This faith fuels the sharpening of our intentions, the examination of our motives. Breaks us out of our comfort. It forces us to examine the relationship between what we think and what we say. Between what we think and what we do. We begin to examine the deep threads that connect and shape the net that is relative reality. We begin to see our potential as divine creators.

What do we want to create?