Tag Archives: jnana

The Maya of Tantra

An Individual who, (though) desirous
of doing various things, but incapable of doing them due to his innate impurity, (experiences) the supreme state (Parma Padam) when the disruption (ksobha) (of his false ego) ceases.” ~ .9 Stanzas on Vibration. Translated with Intro and Exposition by Mark Dyczkowski.

The tantric perspective of Maya has been the focus of several of my past blog entries. Most people in the west recognize the concept of maya from Buddhism or Vedanta philosophies. Following these modes of thought, maya translates as illusion. The path of these philosophies is a path of negation (neti neti/not this not that): to distinguish the real from the unreal. They say that only god is real and everything we recognize in this world as real (the objects of the mind and senses and such) are not real. Such objects arise only through the illusion of maya.

Tantra accepts maya to be just as real as god himself. Since god consciousness permeates everything completely and fully, then every object of the mind and senses is, is a sense, equal. Rather than being a force of illusion, it’s a force merely of ignorance.

Ignorance is of two types that need to transform into knowledge in Tantric path:

1. Ignorance regarding our true self
2. Ignorance of the attachment to thought constructs and psychological impressions.

Tantrics must purify what is impure in themselves. The impurities of humans are threefold:

1. Karma is the first impurity we must polish to purity. Karma in this case can be described as the imprint that is left in the mind when we perform action out of attachment or desire. This is why so much yoga is focused on releasing desire and attachment. Rather then think of karma in terms of good or bad, think of it in terms of making karma or not making karma for yourself. Only by relinquishing the desire even for good results can we release ourselves from the karmic implications of our actions.
2. Once we have started to effectively deal with the part of ourselves that is guided by karma, we can begin to see maya for what it is: a kind of necessary limitation. In many ways, it’s these apparent limits are what set the stage for the human struggle against self and nature. They are also the veils that keep us from recognizing our true godly nature. The characteristics of divine nature are fivefold. 1. Omnipotent, 2. Omniscient, 3. Satisfied, 4. Eternal, 5. Free. Maya too is fivefold in it’s actions to obscure each of these characteristics: 1. Power appears limited, 2. Knowledge appears limited, 3. Desire motivates us, 4. We have the linear experience of time, and 5. We are subject to cause and effect.
3. And finally, after we have effectively and fully understood these lessons in our hearts, we are ready to fully purify our perception and cleanse the final impurity (or rather the original impurity) and bring our dual focus into oneness. We see clearly and spontaneously that all is one and that god is everywhere in equal measure. Duality ceases.

Everything in the tantric’s path involves divine grace; nothing at all can happen without it. The very will underlying all action is said to be equal to the will of god. For tantrics, the motivation for action comes from the desire only for self-recognition, liberation, and god consciousness. A tantric cannot say for instance that he is taking action to recognize his true flow of consciousness. we are rather gods in human form seeking the god in ourselves. There are four ways that such grace descends upon us to give us the will and desire for self-seeking (but these I’ll go into another time).

Too many misguided tantrics these days superimpose the spiritual laws of tantrism onto material life. Nothing is prohibited and nothing is enjoined. The path of Tantrism they say, is unlimited; we can do anything. This is true only in spiritual life when we have overcome our mundane desires and attachments and when the goal is union with god consciousness. To say everything is allowed and then run off to fulfill desires for sex or material possession or power over people is not the path of Tantra.

I once sat with the owner/instructor of a yoga studio. She was telling me about some of the yoga styles and studios available in the relatively small town. She mentioned the Tantric studio that was around the corner from her own presumably more orthodox. She complained that people were going to Tantra because Tantra allows them to keep doing whatever they want (eat, drink, party, have sex, and pretty much continue to follow their most base instincts). As she told me this, she sipped on her beer and chewed on her hardy beef burger.

I wasn’t surprised by her misconception of Tantra, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the studio was indeed teaching such a path devoid of knowledge. Nor did the fact that she was eating meat and drinking beer phase me until she made this statement. Every persons path to higher consciousness is their own, what is important is that we follow our own rules. Only by recognizing and following our own rules will we make spiritual progress. If we believe the orthodoxy that drinking beer and eating meat will dull our consciousness, then it most assuredly will. On the other hand, we truly believe as many tribal cultures believe, that eating meat will bring us in union with the spirits of higher consciousness than eating meat in this way will most assuredly raise ones consciousness.

There are two kinds of worship in this world: inner worship and outer worship. These days the majority of people are focused on outer worship, Outer worship will bring only outer fruits. If you really want to practice yoga, you mush focus intently on inner worship.

Traditional Living: The path of wisdom

Adavasi: In India this word is used to describe people who come from traditional societies living without modern convenience or codified natural law. They are tribal people outside of the caste system because they do not follow or fit with the social laws and customs prevalent in the land. “They live like animals,” I am told. They are the tribals. They are free and they are despised for it. They have no law in writing to tell them that murder, for example, is bad, and no group within their society is designated to punish murders in a certain way, but everyone knows that murderers will always receive their just reward for the bad feels caused by their action, by karma, by mind and/or by lifestyle. There is no reason to codify such punishments, and to call the following of these codes justice does a grave disservice to justice.

Adavasi society follows the ways of the wise: the laws of human nature and the natural law that abounds, but never it does not create laws or seek to order nature. The wise know that justice is inherent in the natural order of things; and the justice meted out by man is only part of the natural justice. There’s really no need to force the issue, for the wise know that force will only create more karma. It’s best to leave matters to those involved; let them deal with their own karma’s.

The warriors, of course, have always wanted to force such issues and have little patience for the counsel of the wise. The merchants too have dismissed the words of the wise and have little regard for the karmic value of the goods and services they provide to keep everything moving. And the labourers have never had much time for the wise, they are just doing all those structural tasks that are so vital for the functioning of the whole.

Meanwhile everyone knows that the warriors have too much heat for making clear decisions and that the merchants and too shortsighted to act in even their own best interest. But wisdom is easy to recognize but hard to follow so the merchants and the warriors have teamed up to give us the good life; civilized life: a shortsighted, materialistic comfortable life.

But everyone keeps asking why technology has not made our lives easier? Why with so much material wealth are so many people still starving? Why, with such information and knowledge that we have today, are people becoming more ill with more and more madness in the world? Why has is happiness still so elusive? Civilized life might be much more complex and physically comfortable (decadent even), but it is not any better of worse than adavasi life: joy and suffering remain untouched.

Adavasi has merely relinquished responsibility to the highest power rather than pretending that they have any power.

Free will, Fate, and Astrology

Many westerners reject astrology in principle. They may read their own horoscope daily in the news-paper but when it comes down to it they cling to their illusion of free will and believe that the essence of astrology regects this very will. But astrology does not reject free will, quite the contrary, astrology can point us in the directions in which we can excersise our free will most effectively.

You could say that astrology assigns a probability to certain events or actions. They have a familiar name for these actions in general: karma is commonly translated as action. As karmas ‘ripen’ the events of our lives unfold. Many people have a vague idea of karmas role in cause and effect, but few stop to consider how vast a role karma has in our lives.

There are three kinds of karma: fixed, changeable, and both. Generally speaking, we can easily recognize many things in our lives that we are helpless to change. The place and time and culture and social standing under which we are born will shape our lives immensely. There is nothing we can do about this. But there are many other things that may have a high probability, but will not necessary happen to everyone; like getting married or having children. Although cultural expectation or even biology will lead us in these direction we are still free to accept or decline. Many other things it seems we’re absolutely free to accept or reject: like job offers, or turns on the freeway. Life is mix of fate and free will.

Before I continue, I should clarify that there are two main schools of astrology. Most of my readers in the west are familiar with western astrology that deals with generalities and tendencies without going into predictive forecasts or remedial measures. Western astrology has an emphasis on the sun and seasons. Vedic astrology on the other hand has a system of planetary periods that is unique for each persons birth time that allows the astrologer to see how and when your karma’s will unfold. Regarding this point my astrology teacher asks, “What is the point of astrology if people don’t believe in remedial measures.”

And this is where I don’t understand westerners. They demand their free will, but when an astrologer offers them an opportunity to exercise their will to alter they fate, they don’t believe in that either. This whole universe is an interplay of vibration. The simplest way to change something is to change the vibrations that something is subjected to; to tinker with the wave length. This is essentially what a microwave oven does; it’s also the essence behind different colours of light.

Astrological remedies were created to tinker with the subtler energies around us. By subjecting ourselves to certain vibratory energies we can influence some of the more stubbornly negative karmas to unfold less harmfully, or perhaps have our good karma’s unfold more resplendently. Wearing precious and semi-precious stones along with certain mantras are the most common remedies, but everything from the food we eat to the clothes we wear can be adjusted in a remedial way. In many ways it’s just all those little things in our lives that make up a lifestyle that determine the vibrations to which we are subjected.

When we are born, we are born on a particular path with a particular personality. As the path unfolds, the personality will exert itself in various ways causing us to make certain choices over others. What we gain thru learning and experience will also influence both the path and the personality. There is no doubt that the possibilities in this world are unlimited, but each person is limited both by their location in the world and by their own minds. There may be many options, but we can only choose from the ones that come to mind.

There’s really no clear separation between free will and fate; it’s as though they simultaneously spring forth from each other as time passes. But this is also the way of karma: as time passes we burn one karma and create another, each of the simultaneous weaving and burning of our individual karmas while layer upon layer of collective karmas likewise go into the flames and come out again whole.

If free will could be depended upon more people would choose happiness, or choose to quit smoking, or choose to chase their dreams. Many times it’s nothing more than fate that leads us one way or another. We all have our burdens to carry that remain upon our back despite our strong intention to shake them off. Luck, whether good or bad is often the deciding factor regarding the ultimate direction of our lives.

I was reading one book by an astrologer who is making a living from cancer. He says he will screen your chart for cancer and prescribe certain remedial measures if it looks probable. He claims to have abut a 60% success rate. We can never really know if one thing or another has changed our fate or if we are merely on the natural course set by the stars. I do know that in the west, if the medical establishment claimed to have a test to see if you might get cancer in the future many people would be quite curious; if they said that they had a pill you could take to reduce your chance of cancer if it seemed likely, many people would take it, despite severe side effects.

My question now is: do people contract cancer thru free will, or is it fate that decrees it? In many ways the whole discussion of whether or not we have free will is just a distraction from the essence of Astrology and eastern thought in general. Free will is essentially the will of the ego, it is the framework under which selfish people seek to fullfill selfish desires. “The whole world revolves around me.”

Eastern thought generally follows a principle of all is one. Nothing acts in a vacuum, everything and everyone are in relationship. When we begin to see these relationships more clearly, we can then begin to really make choices that can alter our destiny.

Path of Purposeless Existence

Most of the other travellers I know have some purpose to their travels: musicians, photographers, artists, writers, and healers. They’re passionate about what they do, they’re driven and ambitious, they have purpose. I envy this sense of purpose, the creative process that drives people and affords them a love that is greater than them selves, be it for their family or their art. I’m not talking here of the tourists taking a few weeks to see something different; tourists travel, but travel does not make up a huge part of their lives.

My own travels don’t stop for more than a couple of months. From one place I get the urge to go someplace else. No reason really, it just becomes time for change: for new surroundings, new people, and perhaps a new pastime, of just to find a nice place to go for a walk. Perhaps I’ve become addicted to the fears and thrills of change.

I dabble a little in all things, wandering, my destinations changing with the landscape. I have neither a path of love and passion, nor a path of responsibility. Almost every time I land somewhere I ask myself, “what am I doing here?” I rarely go someplace to do something; I rather go, and than I ask. It’s tiring. It’s often isolating as I’m continually leaving behind friends and family and the familiar.

I’ve tried inventing some reason behind my travels (photography, holistic courses), but it never lasts, before long I find myself wandering aimlessly, leaving everything I was doing to go on to something new. I have nothing to hold me where I am and nothing except the weather and whim enticing me to go anyplace else.

At times I tell myself it’s because I don’t want anything, I’m happy with what I have, but mostly I see the truth that I want more. It’s like an underlying drive for more without any overlying destination. Sometimes I am perfectly happy, but then the underlying desire begins to simmer and then boil and before I know it I’ve done something rash and I’m on the move again. Some people go shopping and buy pointless shit, I buy plane tickets or spend days driving across the country.

It’s unsettling, and I mean that in every sense of the word. There’s no ground but myself and mostly as I travel I’m asking myself, “who am I?” Now I ask you, what kind of ground is that?

Artist and muscian travelers have some kind of outlet for their crafts. They easily come together from shared interest and often draw people and fans towards them. And of course they all have their craft fill their days and their career to drive them. I write; sometimes. I take pictures; sometimes. I take courses; sometimes. But I have no thing I do, no deadlines; no expectations coming from anywhere. I don’t even know where to begin to turn whatever it is I do into a business. People ask me what I do when I travel. I don’t know what to tell them: I do a little of this and a little of that. I’m usually busy, crazy busy for a guy with nothing in particular to do but that’s just it: I ‘do’ merely because I have to: with a body and the march of time doing is all we really have. Broadly speaking, I do philosophy (whatever that is exactly).

I feel the same confusion when people ask me where I’m from. Where am I from? Canada is the only clear answer I can give, and this is a big country. I was born in Calgary and then I moved around a lot. Then I moved to Edmonton and kept moving around a lot, but kept going back to Edmonton. I have nothing in Edmonton though, except work that pays well and doesn’t expect much commitement. (I don’t wish to alienate my Edmonton friends, I love you guys, but Edmonton is no home for me). I wish I could at least say that home is where the heart is, but I rarely feel at home for long and my heart is always with me.

And just as I keep asking myself who I am, the question of what do often arises in my mind. That s right, not only do I not have a clue who I am, I don’t even know what I want. What do you want? Some people just seem to be born with some destination to go with their drive. I have not had this honour. But not knowing what it is we really want is a hallmark of our age: vague unfocused and unconscious desires.

I’m not saying desires do not arise in me. I wouldn’t want to leave that impression for a second. I’m full of desires and a glutton to them. I tend to give myself everything I want and I’ve received more than I could have imagined. But I’ve also lost everything I’ve ever wanted. Sometimes it’s taken away or inadvertently lost, but most often my achievements just fade away like a child bored with his new toy. I just leave things and move on. I often feel a little lost afterwards: My heart broken at the end of relationships; my sense of purpose uncertain at the end of some intensive course or work season; and my very being shaken from intensive practice or experimentation or just by the happenstance of fate. My god how many times do I have to feel the death of some old life followed by the naivety and confusion of a re-birth. Things can never be the same as they were. Experiences so great that you simply cannot see life the way you did before. Everything changes. All the time. And what a rush it can be to fall into the abyss of the unknown.

But I do know that somehow something will happen, from one change will come the next. I don’t know if everything will be ok. I’m not even really sure what that means: That I don’t get injured ill or dead? These things will happen and I’ll still be ok. This is the nature of things: everything will be ok.

Every time I feel like I’ve been left with nothing; weeks later I look around me, knowing I’ve acquired nothing, but feel as though I have everything. The many injuries I have sustained in my life likewise have led me to this path of knowledge that I am on. Knowledge of what? I don’t know. Knowledge of what I need to know.

It’s madness!

You can’t imagine how isolating it is to travel alone. 90% of the time I live in just my own little world. My thoughts, dreams and actions so bundled together so that I can’t tell one from the other. And what is the difference? In regards to their effect on me their reality is equal.

But that leads my to another question that’s often passes thru my mind: “what is real?” Seriously, what is real? Do you know the difference between real and not real. Hind-sight is wonderful for distinguishing, but in the here and now, what sort of test is there to know the difference. Approximately half the yoga community believes that there is reality and illusion, the other half believes merely that there are different worlds, all of with are real.

But lets go back to those times when I’ve felt like I’ve lost everything. It all seemed real enough to me at the time while I was plunged into my own sorrow, but months later I look back and see that nothing had really changed; nothing had been lost and nothing really gained. What’s the reality? That we make our own reality? Then what happens to the objective observable reality we’ve become so familiar with? Considering the limitations of our senses (we don’t smell as good as a dog or see as an eagle), we have to admit that there is much more to the world than what is objectively observable. Why should we rely on just our senses to determine reality when we see the effects of so many things that many people would say are not part of reality.

My mother spent of most her life working in forensics as a psych. nurse. She often wonders aloud if I’m going (or have gone) crazy. I can understand this from her perspective. I don’t know who I am; I don’t know what I want; and I don’t know what is real and what is not. From the perspective of western psychology all these traits point to insanity.

But from my perspective, I see most people pretending to be someone they are not; if I ask them who they are, I will likely be able to point out to them why they really are none of what they say. If I ask people what they want, they will likely share only the basest of human desires with me. And their sense of reality will likely stop with their senses, which would, quite simply leave of most of the phenomena that drives the world. The point is, no one knows who they are or what is real or what they want, they just don’t often stop to wonder about these things, and it’s certainly not considered polite conversation to bring them up at dinner parties. So, we get a world like the one we have where wealth and power and lust rule simply by default. People go on defining themselves thru or living for their work, their family, their possession’s, or their reputation. Personally, I think these people are closer to insanity than I am, they have merely learned to wear acceptable masks. But that is the secret to civilization isn’t it: it’s all in the mask.

It’s no secret in this new age age that we are mostly disconnected from our emotions. I would say also that we are generally disconnected from God, but I don’t want to loose my atheist readers, but even they’ll agree that there is a mass disconnect happening in the world. We know about this because it’s the age of Auqarius; a time when we begin to reconnect. But if this is the age of Aquarius, that means we just advanced past Capricorn: a dirty old goat of a time. But Aquarius and Capricorn are both ruled by the planet Saturn; a kind of dirty old man him-self. Saturn doesn’t like your normal every day people. He doesn’t care much those who are energetic or overly whitty, nor any other who have anything to do with authority and power. He likes to keep to himself or spend time with older people, cripples, the disadvantaged, hermits, or even those who are especially close to the land like gardeners (farmers today are closer to their machines than the land); anyone who is isolated from main stream whether by choice or circumstance.

Asrtrologically speaking, I’m currently in my Saturn period. This is not the same as the dreaded 7 ½ year period when Saturn will affect my moon, but rather Saturn’s opportunity of 18 years to exert his influence over my life. Saturn is the fellow who makes us experience our karmas. Karma can be a bitch, or we can accept it and embrace it. We have no choice but to experience our Karma and we should be thankful to have the opportunity to experience it. In many ways Karma is the fuel we have to burn in this life; the action we must take and the actions we must experience.

When someone harms us and we have no recourse it’s natural to think that Karma will get them, but few people stop to think that Karma has just gotten them. We are all instrumental in affecting each others karma. In other words, we have to dish it out as well as swallow it. Accepting our karma is accepting our own actions as well as the actions of others and the universe at large. Karma isn’t all bad though; actions that produce joy and please are also karmas.

What most eastern thought seems to suggest is that Karma is Karma; it’s neither good nor bad; in this we must find equanimity. We each have our own karmas to experience and we must accept that in ourselves and others. This is one of the main indicators the general disconnection most cultures are experiencing: the level of emotional attachment people have to their karmas. This attachment is taught to us by television and the like in particular and the culture of consumerism in general. Change is presented as such a fearsome exchange that each new thing has to be hyped. The middle path is completely ignored, leaving the people bored

Thinking of Saturn reminds me of my own pointless wanderings. Saturn has taken over my life for the next 18 years. When I look around at my surrounding I see my tent, some old four-wheeler trail, the forest a stream, an over-head power line going thru. I hear the odd car drive past. I’m only as far back in the bush as my Volkswagen Rabbit will allow me to go. Even then I’m only a half hour from town; the nearest house can’t be too far away though I see no sign of it. But isolated enough without cell coverage or other hallmarks of our civilization.

I’m here because it’s free. One of the main hallmarks of our civilization is that it costs money to be a part of. You pay for parking, for sleeping, for news, even for water. Nothing is free in civilization. If anything was free you wouldn’t have to keep working to keep it all flowing. Maybe it’s time to get back into the flow of things.