Mike Holliday – Mike Baba: I’m a Vedic Astrologer from for Canada. I’ve been on the road my whole life: traveling, studying humanistic topics, philosophy, spirituality, yoga. I always had a strong interest in holistic healing and have apprenticed in acupuncture, massage, yoga therapies and even more esoteric stuff like mantra and ritualistic healing. Varanasi has been my home base since I first came to India in 2007. Something keeps me coming back year after year. I could say lots about this, but I still don’t really know why I do this. I certainly don’t understand what compels me to make pilgrimage year after year to so many holy places around India. But such is life; surrender to it and keep walking. I can’t see any direction that won’t result in our doom; our death. But it’s all a mystery. Life is just so many mysteries. My whole life has been dedicated to understanding the mysteries.
So in addition to astrology I’ve also been on a kind of permanent pilgrimage for the past 15 years. I travel to all the places I can find that have no tourists or no tourism. Little gems, peaceful places, gentle holy people. There are such places in Canada and in the west too; they’re everywhere if you can find them. I write, I study, I wonder.
I try to find a balance with astrology. I find I like those student who find me through a friend or have read some of my work and know something of me. I don’t like the commercialism, though I feel it’s an important line of study to share with others. It’s mind blowing, and we need our minds blown sometimes. A guru once told me that when we feel that sense of speechless awe and wonder then you know you are standing before the divine; God has revealed himself. He does this in many ways and on many levels. Astrology is ultimately about revelation; it’s like turning on a light switch.
Life was not always like this. I was completely reckless with life and limb through my teens. I grew up in the forest hunting, trapping, fishing; and had lots of time to myself. Moving to the city was a big shock to my system that took me about 10 years to work out. I had a “good” career in civil construction and a few years of university study. I spent several years studying Kung Fu and Buddhism before I came to India. I suppose I idealised the ronin monks wandering the land, fearless, fighting only for justice, seeking only peace and wisdom. Precarious but free; free beyond free. And this is Shaivism; this is Shiva.
We all have ideals that we strive for; they are not always the same, but if your ideal is pure, it will never stand in the way of someone else’s; they will be they same. Me must always seek out the impurities of our ideals, beliefs, body, mind and soul. Be aware so that we only maintain the impurities we are willing to take responsibility for. I chose the hard way in almost every circumstance growing up. I never wanted anything easy. What is the value in that? Sacrifice is value added. We have to give something up if we truly want to get something; and the greater the risk, the greater the reward.
About Sleeping Dog
In 2007 I walked past a dog sleeping in front of a Shiva temple. The moment I moved past it jumped up and bit me in the ass. It retreated immediately, but blood had been drawn. I had my pack, I was looking for a guest house I had made arrangements at. It didn’t take me long to ditch those arrangements and take the next room that I found. I began following signs leading me to a popular guest house by the river, but just as I was getting there I was given an option to continue following to the left, or follow to Eden Halt on the right. I chose right and met the family I would stay with every year when I come. Sanjay Tripathi, the oldest brother of the family, shared his knowledge of yoga, astrology, Ayurveda, tantra and Indian culture freely and abundantly. Our friendship and brotherhood is among the greatest blessings in my life.
The dog is also the vehicle of Kal Bhairava. In Kashi, Bhairava takes over Yama’s duties of conducting the death. Bhairava just liberates everyone who baths in the north flowing water of Ganga. Kal Bhairava rides on the back of a black dog. In India that dog is a shameless creature, filthy, full of disease. They are free from domestication, full of lust and fighting even it’s own kin for the scarce resources available.
The 9th century “Aphorisms of Shiva” says that, “Bhairava is upsurge.” That upward movement when the vibration of uncertainty ceases and we move with resolute focus into our destiny.
I never imagined I would carry that sleeping dog with me for so many year, through so many worlds and states of consciousness. Some other baba once told me that sometimes tapas is having the same thing in front of you day after day but still have the ability top experience it like new again. varanasi makes this kind of tapas easy. Varanasi is a shiva city, always in flux, since the beginning. But the inner spirit has not changed. There is still some very ancient power here. It’s the city of light, of power, of energy. Kal Bhairava stands watch over the city like a benevolent Hades with his three headed dog and a pack of bureaucratic ghouls taking each persons name as they enter the city so their karma can be dissolved along with the body.
Varanasi is one of the most auspicious place to die or to at least have your ashes deposited in the river. places in India for Hindu families to deposit the ashes of the dead. Shiva is the one who bring peace to all souls without discrimination. ,
Eden Halt, the Tripathi family guest house is on the banks of the river in between two burning ghats, where they burn the dead. This is the main tourist attraction of the town. For many people it’s an intense place that is heard to endure mere because the light shines even in the darkest corner here; and all things are worshiped equally. And there are of course Naga babas and Aghores who come here to worship the liberated empty husks of humans that get reduced to ash.. For many of the inhabitants of Shiva city, much of the spiritual journey is overcoming our repugnance for anything; and accepting all of things of this world and all of the other worlds with the same openness and vulnerability; awareness of the moment coupled with loving acceptance.
Sleeping dog also references the state of deep sleep beyond dreaming where we enter into the void. When we do this with awareness we can be carried along into the 4th state of Turiya & beyond; always beyond.
2011 – YTT 200 hrs Hatha & Vinyasa Yoga from School Yoga, Nicaragua.; 2012 – YTT 200 hrs Hatha Yoga from Sivananda Ashram, Canada.; 2013 – 60 hrs Thai Massage from Sunshine School, Thailand; 2013 – Certificate in Natural Acupuncture from the International Open University, India.; 2017 – YTT 500 hrs Advanced Teacher of Therapeutic Yoga; 2019 – Teacher of Natural Acupuncture thru International Open University; 1997 – 2001 – BA Philosophy and Humanities from University of Alberta; 2003 – 2005 – Applied Communications in Writing from MacEwan College; 1999 – 2003 – Meditation & Martial Arts from Master O.E. Simon; 2002 – 2004 Theravada Buddhism and meditation with the Sri Lanka community.
Nature has always been my greatest teacher: the rivers, the mountains, the sun, the animals, the trees the air and the sky; great mother & father, and that thread which connects all of us.
Om Namah Shivaya