Tag Archives: freedom

I am Shiva this world is Shakti

When we say that our true self is Shiva, we are not talking about this self that is body, mind; limiter and ceaselessly changing. This I who is Shiva is the unchanging universal soul which is being expressed not just in this body, but in all bodies as an individual soul. This “I” is the eternal subject. We cannot change what is not subject to change; we cannot purify that which is already pure. There is light, we can see, we are and we exist; this is only subject to acceptance, not change. This topic is hardly even amenable to contemplation. If we can’t even imagine it, it’s best we don’t even consider changing it.

Everything outside of the scope of the Shiva soul is Shakti: our mind and body and all that can be perceived by the senses at any moment. This is the eternal other. Many of us would like to change this. We think we are the body and have control over our body and mind and seek to make changes here, but the truth is that we are all fools. This coming together of soul (Shiva), body and mind (Shakti) is the divine play that we are advised to approach as a witness. This is the field of karma; the interplay between subject and object. We have no freedom here.

But where are we free? Where can we affect change?

In our relationship between the subject and object; in the way we relate not only to the world, but to our own bodies. How do we use what we have to reach out to the world?! This starts with how we relate without own body, our own mind.

We are born from a mother and a father. We had and have no control over this time and place we find ourselves. Even our will is the will of god. If I trace back the origin of this yoga or astrology I practice, or even this writing I am doing now, it all comes back to a will, an innate propensity towards these things. In other words, I didn’t do anything to have any of this; it was freely given to me at birth (all the benefits and all the defects).

This is one of the primary mistakes that most western yogis are making. They think they are the yogi and they pat themselves on the back for the good job they are doing. They do not accept the gift of their body and physical conditioning; they think they are the architect. Small “i” with small minds; they have not even begun to imagine what truth might be. They go around saying how blessed they are without recognizing that every sentient being is equally blessed. They base their blessing on the ever changing material reality; their blessing is not likely to get them thru bad weather as they begin to ask why such a curse. ‘To be’ is to be blessed; to not recognize this is the curse.

When we focus on our relationships with things there is little outward change to be recognized, but inside we will feel it just like we feel anger or sadness or frustration; we will feel peace; we will feel the blessing of existence in every moment thru good times and bad. And this is the sort of change people are really looking for; this is the sort of change that changes everything.

 

 

Tantra Series: Part I: What is Tantra?

 

For most of the past 10 years I’ve been searching for an answer to the question: What is Tantra?

How does one write about a secret without spoiling the whole thing? It’s nothing! It’s everything! It’s the yin of the yang. It’s the inner reality beyond the five senses. Tanta is intuitive and emotional. The heart is an infamous symbol of Tantra. Tantra is the mystery of a mystery.

To say someone knows Tantra suggests only that they know a mystery; and how much can anyone know a mystery? Tantra is the secret of a secret: ones own hidden knowledge and hidden potential, which, once released to the light and shared with others looses some of it’s power and potency. Everything about Tantra is subtle. Tantra is often portrayed as a dark goddess who can be the epitome of a woman scorned. Tantra teaches us that all of our relationships are about give and take; nothing comes for free. If we want something from Tantra then we will surely have to give something up. If we do not give appropriate gift, Tantra will make us pay in her own way. Everything can be seen in this light of relationships and it’s that power of our relationships with things that Tantra seeks to harness. Things in themselves have no power and it’s the strength of our relationship with things that allows us to harness their power. This is why Osho can say that the measure of our spiritual progress can be seen in the quality of our relationships.

Tantra is about getting what we want. This is one of the very difficult prerequisites for Tantra; we have to know what we want. To know what we want we have to also know who we are. As long as there is any confusion about these things, then there is very good chance that we will eventually meet a wrathful, vengeful Tantra. She has many names: Tara, Kubjika, Kali, Tripura Sundari; in the west she would be some aspect or other of Mather nature. She has a face for every person, but no matter how nice she comes to you, she’s always incredibly dangerous and can turn on a person for the slightest infraction.

Admittedly, this danger is the attraction; the risk is the romance. People who are stable and content in life have no attraction to Tantra, because Tantra is change and volatility. This is why she stays underground, in the shadows and depths of the heart. Tantra is about transformation. We have to die before we can be reborn. Tantra is a death cult, a secret society that turns everything on it’s head; countering even intuition.

When we talk about Tantra, western people think of sex and the chakras, while people from the east think of black magic. Tantra is all of this. Purity is internalized to overcome physical impurity. All is one but we see it and understand it as two; a world of multiplicity. Fear and taboo become some of the most powerful tools of Tantra. Sex and fear becomes means of transformation and catalysts of higher knowledge.

Like the great Ravana, we must cut off our own heads and offer it to the gods in order to understand Tantra. Tantra is part of the mystic traditions; it’s broad and mysterious, operating at an energetic level, permeating all things. Some say that Tantra deals with how we use things; it’s that relationship between us and things. Tantra is about Devi worship; worship of the divine feminine, Mother Nature in all her aspects. Desire to gain power or overcome fear are perhaps the most popular paths of Tantra.

Tantra is dangerous for too many reasons. All of which can be summed up as ignorance. The primary ignorance is that we do not know who we really are. As long as a person thinks they are an individual, then Tantra cannot be effectively learned or practiced. As long as we think we are separate and free we will remain forever bound. As soon as we relinquish our freedom to Devi, then we become truly free.

In many way’s Tantra looks at the world in a very pragmatic way in which everything is merely an instrument for us to fulfill our desires and our life’s path. However, this is speaking from a universal perspective rather than a subjective perspective for we too are an instrument of divine order. As many advaitans will point out, there is only we in this universe, there is no ‘I’ or ‘you.’ Those who do not understand this spread terror around the world in the name of their faiths. From a mystic perspective, duality is the original sin; division is the world of demons while everything that supports union is of the heavens. Truth, of course is one. Ultimately, God is one, though there are many names; but nature too is singular, though there be many names and many objects. The universe and the purpose is singular, everything is dependent on everything. The whole world exists and comes into being thru the mystic energy of our own hearts; there is no division.

Putting the Mind on the Self

How does one satisfy all desire by putting the mind on the self?

If we know the self, then we know our desires and our potential; we know what we want and what we can get. It often seems, however, that we don’t know ourselves. This is why we practice meditation and yoga and travel and contemplation and even foolishness; so that we can come to know the self. This is also why many people come to me to have their astrology chart read for them. But something that becomes clearer and clearer to me is that people do know themselves. Pretty much everyone I talk to has self-knowledge. People know their hopes and desires, their skills and abilities much better than I’ll ever know from looking at their chart. If people start disagreeing with everything I get from the chart, I have to assume the chart is incorrect or I am incorrect. It would be madness for me to say that the chart is correct and they merely don’t know themselves. Their own self-knowledge is confirmation of the chart and not the other way around.

Knowing our true selves, it should be easy to put our awareness there and forget about everything else going on. When we do this, we align our abilities with our desires so that what we hope for matches closely to what we receive. This is how we use self-knowledge to achieve satisfaction in life. You could say that once we have knowledge of our true selves we don’t have to worry about anything anymore. We know the program so why worry about the details. The details, of course, being the karma; the daily grind of making effort to achieve results. If we accept karma, not just our own karma, but the concept of karma and its effectiveness of giving results, then it becomes really easy to put our minds in places other than where our next meal will come from, or how we will get educated.

Our physical existence runs on a kind of automatic pilot thru our karma. We use the moment of our birth as the first action, which leads to the next and the next and so on. From our limited perspective, this first action appears to be beyond our control and without our consent. And from that moment onward our lives generally feel split between being the active subject choosing our fate and being a passive object being swept away by the currents of fate and time. In one sense our path is absolutely determined, but in a more immediate sense, we continually affirm our path through our free choice. So what’s going here?

I’m beginning to believe that our material existence is more or less fixed at the moment of birth. Our health, our wealth, our aptitude, our studies, generally everything the typical person associates with their “self” is pretty much fixed. This is the stuff most of us spend our time worrying about. Some will complain that we have to put effort into things or nothing will get done; such worries are the hallmark of modern ambition and are necessary to advance as individuals as well as a society. Or it could be that the effort is also fixed.

Cause will follow effect, which will be the cause for further effect. But when we focus on the cause and effect nothing seems fixed. The very nature of cause and effect is change, but the whole process is fixed. According to Vedanta, whatever is unchanging is truth or true-self according to Tantra. The true self does not change

If we take the example of chair, we find that many things about a chair can change and it will still be a chair. The number of legs can change, the colour, and many things about the design can change. Even some of the firmer qualities can change such as the amount of weight the chair can bear and whether you can move it or not. But at some point there are certain things that are common to all chairs; certain qualities that make a chair a chair. This essence of chairness can be summed up as a thing made for sitting up off the floor. Humans are no different from chairs. We come in all shapes and sizes and abilities but there are certain qualities we all share that make us all human.

On a deeper level we can even say that there are certain qualities that we share with chairs that that are also the same so that we can say things are things. For everything to be there must be some base upon which ‘beingness’ rests that is the same for all beings; both chairs and humans.

It’s this foundation of ‘being’ that we seek through meditation or contemplation or awareness or yoga or whatever your practice might be. Finding the sameness of humans will surely help you to be a better human (a more aware human) in society, while finding the sameness in all beings will surely help you to be a better being on this planet.

So, as I read a birth chart, I see the individual moving thru his or her dasha periods, changing and evolving as they progress as an individual. I also take note of the transiting planets and the changing and evolving world that we have as a ground for action. Both ourselves and the world we live in are being swept away by time and karma. I think often of the scene in the Gita where Krishna shows his true self to Arjuna, the whole of the world rushing to its destruction, being swallowed unflinchingly by the great movement of time (MahaKaala, a god whose important shrine sits outside of Ujjain in the west of India). If I focus only on this change I loose the true individual sitting in front of me. The change is only happening to the object, the mind and body in front of me. My own body and my own fortune too are constantly in motion. If I focus on these things I will only see the object measured in relation to my own bodily object. In this condition we are no more than beasts of burden with the strongest among us doing the least work while the weakest toil.

Life will carry on of it’s own accord. Our functional minds will also complete their tasks over time. Much of this is set for us, but if we begin to search our own minds probing the various layers, we find a layer that is quiet like a placid lake. It’s from this lake that thoughts emerge like trout leaping out of the water; some of which are caught by our lower minds and sustained in thought, from which point we may use this fish to give us the power of action; or we could just put the fish back in the water and leave it disappear into the depths.

The placid lake is our deeper self, our true self, the unchanging consciousness from which all change emerge. This is where we are advised to put our minds. From the silence we can witness the change while keeping our inner consciousness focused on the silence of the true self.

I can see this too in an astrology chart, the layers of our being that don’t change. Just as change occurs on various the individual that persists in the body, the things that make us all human and of course that space in which everything takes place; that space from which everything arises. When we focus on these things our expectations tend to match with the results and we find satisfaction. We experience the peace because we have found the place of peace within ourselves and put our minds there. Otherwise we only experience the change: the suffering of the Buddhist aspirant and the binds of the Tantric that keep us from freedom.

Everything is Perfect as Passive Acceptance of Karma

Om poornamadah poornamidam poornaat poornam-udachyate poornasya poornamaadaaya poornamevaavashishsyate

Om Shanti… Shanti… Shanti…..

~Upanishad~

 It’s not unusual to hear the new age refrain that “this is perfect, and that is perfect, everything is god so everything is perfect just as it is.” On one hand, who can argue with this? Who can argue with the deeper wisdom of Mother Nature who brings us both our joy and our suffering; our life and our death? But if we are just to accept our karma and accept our lives as they are then life becomes rather futile and we ultimately lack responsibility for change. If God and nature are responsible, we are then free of responsibility; it doesn’t matter what we do because even the damage and destruction we cause are as natural as tsunamis and earthquakes. But this is not freedom.

Some might look to such an argument to ease their guilty conscience, but it does little to advance the cause of freedom. Some say that since everything is perfect by Nature we might as well work for personal gain. Those we hurt along the way are just receiving the karmic retribution they had coming to them anyways. This is faulty logic.

Mother Nature might hide our free will behind the bounty she provides, but she does not bind us to her contract. The trick that we’re all looking for in our yoga practice, is just the trick that allows us to relate with and exercise our free will. We want to gain power over our own lives so that we become active self-directed agents of our lives rather than passive performers of karma and duty being swept along by nature. Such passive acceptance of karma and the ways of Nature keep people bound to their karma unable to either command or change their lives. This has nothing to do with Tantra.

An Individual who, (though) desirous of doing various things,(but) incapable of doing then due to his innate impurity(experiences) the supreme state when the disruption (of his false ego) ceases.”

~Spandakarika~

Shiva Tantra (Kashmiri Shaivism) teaches the path of consciousness freedom rather than the path of power that so easily binds. It’s said that at the heart of the matter, we have free choice, but in order to really exercise this freedom we have to associate ourselves with Shiva consciousness, the agent of our action. From perspective of deep consciousness, we can know our true nature and act with freedom, recognising that there are choices beyond the typical karmic pathways.

When we act for gain, we associate with those things that provide delight for the mind, the body and the senses; there is no delight in these things for Shiva consciousness. Sensory delights come from outside of our selves and are largely karmically driven. When we follow these karmic pathways, our lives become so predictable that marketteers and psychologists can easily plot our patterns even without the use of astrology. The world of karma is filled with winners and losers. For every bit of gain we make, someone (or something) has had to loose.

A Shaivist knows there can be no gain because they deposit everything into the pool of consciousness rather than use it as is. Everything seems to dissolve into this pool, so we think it is of no use. But if we learn to relate with this consciousness then we can actively make choices in our lives.

Shiva Tantra teaches us how to rise above our karma and the futility of fate. Karma is only binding as long as we maintain our awareness of it and focus only on the actions that that serve somehow to increase our own personal karma. Freedom comes when become aware of the well-head of karma; the pool of consciousness; Shiva.

The Spiritual Side of Yoga: Introduction

“When (the yogi’s consciousness) pervades all things

by (his) desire to precieve, then why speak much?

He will experience it for himself.”

~Spandakarika~

One of my goals in writing about Indian philosophy is to clear up some of the New Age misunderstandings, which, though they carry some grain truth, are only adding fuel to the fire of materialism, selfishness and corruption that is the hallmark of our age. Not that there is anything wrong with wanting a better life for ourselves, but to increase our own inner power at the expense of the outer world is incompatible with with truly gaining a better life. Incomplete notions of many of the key concepts of Indian philosophy (such as purity, karma ,the cycle of birth and death, and even the role of Mother Nature (Shakti) in our lives) is causing a subtle backlash from people who have interest in yoga but can see only the materialistic side that often collides with their own experience and understanding. I grow tired of hearing all the pseudo-philosophies that are so tirelessly spread through the western yoga communities.

Tantra is especially susceptible to abuse. For this reason it has attracted me for several years. Little of what I saw in the west made much sense to me: the manuals of Kundalini Yoga, Pranayama, meditation, hatha yoga, raja yoga, posters for tantric couples retreats, or whatever it might be. If enlightenment comes by grace, then none of these things matter.

And what is enlightenment anyways? These days I just imagine it as a deep wisdom. We have all met people with this deeper wisdom. We too have acted with it a time or two, it’s just not art of our everyday life. We’re generally acting on a whole different realm from wisdom. Wisdom is even scorned as foolishness these days. Everyone has the potential for this sort of wisdom, it’s there, but too often we get caught up in the power of knowledge as we climb.

I don’t claim to have anything figured out, my writing is merely my way of trying to put the pieces together for myself. In a way, you can say I’m even writing for myself as much as for you. The conflicts that arise in my work is much more of a conflict that is happening inside of myself rather than some conflict I might have with anyone else’s path. Freedom is an uncompromising path that we are all on, and though there are several manuals out there that will lead us to right action, nobody can agree on their meaning so everyone just searches for freedom where they want it to be.

Most people these days are looking for material acquisition to give them freedom. This is the abode of earthly things and is ruled over by Karma and Kama (action and desire). On this path we are tied to our actions, things and common desires. The powers (of Shakti) we gain in order to increase our material standing in society only serve to bind us more tightly to Karma and Kama. The point is, we have little freedom when we align our lives with the material world. Our inner life remains just fluctuating as the waves on the ocean or the wind in the trees.

If we want freedom we have to go to the source of the power by directing our energy inward. Your true self is the source! That moment of intent that arises before we do, think or say anything is the source of all things. When we learn to relate with this inner consciousness, our innate wisdom, then we have learned how to use our freedom; then we become free to act rather than remaining bound to react.

The problem is that most of us are just floating thru life going wherever the tide of our karma takes us. Life in the modern world can be incredibly easy if we allow it to just carry us, but at some point most people figure out that it isn’t very much fun. The real fun is in the choice, that way we know we will always get what we want. Real fun is living a self directed life. Accepting our karma is one thing, but rising above it is quite another. Most people are quite happy with the former while only a few people strive for the later. The true power of yoga isn’t in the power at all, its in the true freedom choice over how to use that power.

Knowing and Overcoming Karma

At first glance Tantra and Astrology appear to be at odds with each other: astrology confirms the hand of destiny while Tantra confirms the freedom of our will. An astrological birth chart is none other than a map of how we are bound in our human condition. Tantra is the map of how to overcome the bounds of the human condition.

The very nature of Vedic Astrology is to look into the intricacies of exactly how we are individually bound by our karma and desires, our communities and even how we expend it all. The Vedic birth chart is said to be the body of Kala Parusha, kala means time, while Parusha indicates an individual soul. As an embodied soul in time we are subject to the veils of maya and the physical realities of karma.

Such is life. This is why they say to let go of it all and remain in the moment. The karma you are here to experience will happen with or without your worry or plan. Tantra teaches us to shift our awareness away from the objects of our lives and focus instead on the awareness itself.

This is where purity comes in. We have to wash away the impurities of our senses. Objectivity is the main impurity. This subject-object relationship we have with the world: us and them, me and you. The objects basically just muddle up the purer experience of just being aware of seeing.

When we start seeing in this way we start seeing things as really are. Almost every eastern philosophy has a different way of explaining this, Tantra often says that they are incomplete and would lead only to inertia. Tantra fills everything with divinity of consciousness rather than relegating it to mere illusion while setting divinity apart from the reality we experience in a day to day way.

There are 36 elements in the Tantric worldview. Beginning with the five gross elements of earth air fire and water the elements get subtler and subtler: objects sounds, gunas (the famous elements of Ayurveda), thoughts, mind, memories, kinetic and potential energy. Tantra teaches us to experience these subtler and subtler energies.

An astrology could be said to be a chart of how these subtle energies are working in our lives. From a karmic point of view there is little we can do. But by working with the subtler energies Tantra teaches many ways we can use these energies as the naturally manifest in objects to improve our lives and get what we want.

In the material world we are bound by the laws of karma; the spiritual world is quite a different matter once we learn how see that it’s essentially a spiritual world we are living in; we begin to see how we are absolutely free.

Canadian Current Events Commentary

The following is an edited response to some questions asked to me by Andrew Sorge as we chatted on line about the recent shooting in Ottawa. We were discussing The Great Game (a book he is familiar with but I know little about). I don’t follow Canadian news so much, but of course

I did notice that the Canadian govt pushed thru a new surveillance bill at some point between the army guy getting run over in Montrael and the parliament shooting. But of course the news has no more time or space for this controversial bill as everyone turns their attention to mooring not only the loss of a couple of soldiers, but also the loss of innocence of our parliament building as it host it’s first gun fight. We should be mourning our loss of freedom and humanity by our own government as we mourn those other losses. Someone wrote a great article chastising people who are shocked this could happen after so many years of being at war. This is what war means. It wasn’t an act of terrorism but an act of war. Do people really think we can go around the world blowing people up in other countries and be free of the consequences. Shoot at someone long enough and they are bound to shoot back eventually. Whoever this guy was was very clear and deliberate in not killing any civilians (unlike the Canadian and other western armies as they pursue the global enforcement of their ideologies). I read that the shooter even forced someone out of his car at some point. If he was a terrorist he could have killed the guy. I think of his act as more of a violent protest than terrorism. He was quite specific in his targets. And now that the shooter is dead we will never know for sure what his motive was. Case closed. Personally I find it all rather boring.

In regards to the great game analogy, the audience will always demand a winner and a loser; and games are always more exciting when played before an audience. But who wins and who looses? And perhaps more importantly, when does the game end? The west thought they won in Iraq but their puppet government lacks the strength to defend against Isis.

And now that someone has shot back in Canada it’s now clear that we lost the game because that was after all what we went to war to avoid. And now that the government can spy on us we, the people, have doubly lost by losing the freedoms that so many soldiers have gone thru war after war to protect. But considering we’re still supporting the hi-tech terror in the land of the bad guys, they have not yet won either. No winners, just a bunch of fucking losers.

Politics never makes much sense. And it is just a game. Everyone takes it so seriously thinking that there can be a winner or a loser. But once this is declared everyone just sets the pieces up again and starts a new game.

I do to know what Canada is so worried about. Sure the enemie has possibly made a weak pawn attack on us early in the game, but we still have all of Europe and the Atlantic Ocean between us and them. It will be a long long time before Isis is rolling their tanks on Canadian soil and demanding our submission to Allah (if that’s what people are so scared of). If they were such a threat all of Europe would be thrashing them along side Turkey.

I actually appreciate Turkey’s stance in this. Though I’m also sure Erdogan stance is somewhat influenced by his own issues with the Kurds and support from the more fundamental Muslim majority in Turkey. Besides, if two enemies want to kill each other, then let them. In any case why are we so worried about what’s going on on the other side of the world if out allies who are neighbouring the war don’t seem to be too concerned. It has nothing to do with our freedoms and everything to do with being to scared to do what we all know is right anyways. “Our Freedoms” is merely jargon for “our oil rich way of life.” The average day is filled with reasons why we should become less dependent on oil, every sector of thought and academia agrees on this, but yet we fight continue to blow people up on the other side of the world rather than face our true fear which is just doing what’s right. It has nothing to do with war and everything to do with common decency, or the lack there of. People frown on smoking in public but drive their cars everywhere and lay down miles of tar to do so. It the mean time we head out to the Middle East and kill people for the privilege of driving those cars and laying down that tar. It’s our way of life and we won’t let anyone stand in our way.

This is nothing new, we all know better. We are loosing our way of life, but our way of life comes from freedoms that are being eroded by our own government. Nothing thats going on in the middle east can make that happen, but as long as we keep looking there for the enemy, our own government here will do as it likes.

Fear is our greatest enemy along with our reactions to fear. There is certainly no hidden master at work in our houses of parliament. Everyday some new thing comes up and “oh my god, we have to make a new law,” or “we must strike back,” or “we have to spy on everyone.” These are not the reactions of a confident nation and such reactions will only draw us further and further away from what we really want. And I think what most people really want is peace and freedom.