Shiva brushes his teeth

Friday April 5, 2019 8:08 am

A lot of cool and curious things have been happening in my daily sadhana practice. I’ve wanted to sit and write them down, but the other requirements of my daily existence have taken precedence. 

Today’s meditation happened somewhat spontaneously and unplanned. I went to bed late last night after spending a considerable amount of time doing some final reediting to my manuscript about Mark Twain, et al. I’ve decided to Self-publish the work after almost a year of knocking on the doors of agents and publishers, and having read a very good article on Scribe yesterday about the current state of the book publishing industry which weighed the pros and cons of traditional versus self publishing. The author, a publishing industry veteran with an inside perspective, had explained how much the publishing industry had changed and how challenging it is for authors in my stage of the game to get their foot in the door. He went on to say how the current climate, with so many options, is practically a plug in to go with self publishing as the best option. There are some associated caveats, but I have a few tricks up my sleeves with regard to those areas. I hope to have the book release in short duration.

So, this morning, I got up at 5:00 am, as has become the routine lately (more on that below), but instead decided to go back to bed. I planned on staying in my warm, comfortable bed a little later than usual when my wife summoned me at 7:00 am to move my car out of the driveway so she could get to work. No problem. I dressed, did my deed, and instead of returning to horizontal dreamland I made a cup of Chai, wrapped a blanket across me from neck to ankle, and settled into our living room rocker where I often practice my shorter meditations. 

Within a short time, the cozy warmth my body enjoyed was replicated on the interior of my being. I became mildly enraptured by the soothing waves of shakti coursing casually through my brain and nervous system. Sensations in my brain have been like this since beginning a new sadhana technique I learned less than a week ago. Today it felt like I was getting a nice, gentle massage in a bath of warm water on the interior of my cranium and around the surface of my brain. Accompanying this was a rapturous state of inner satisfaction. Since yesterday, the thought arose “So, this is what the experience of oneness with Shiva is like.”

I say that because I have been reading texts associated with the Kashmir Shaivism tradition. One book, mentioned before, is Secret of the Siddhas by Swami Muktananda, which is largely Baba’s (Muktananda’s) commentaries on the Shiva Sutras, the ancient root of that philosophical school. The other is Jaideva Singh’s translation and new commentary on 10thcentury commentaries about the Shiva Sutras encapsulated in the work known as Spanda Karikas. So, in this context, Shiva means the experience of conscious consciousness – the awareness of being aware that you are aware and that you are one with that experience of awareness. You are that awareness, ergo, you are Shiva. 

For some time now, well over a month, I have found my body waking consistently at 5:00 am or so. Almost every time this has happened, it was always 5:10 on my alarm clock. Now, I could easily lie in bed as I have for the past 30-40 years and meditate later, but these days, each morning at promptly 5:00 am-ish, I also experience an urgent need to urinate. After so complying with my body’s wish, I typically have returned to my room to sit upright and meditate for about an hour before proceeding with the needs of the day. 

Each meditation in the last week, since learning this new, advanced technique on Sunday, has been similar as my description above. The process seems to massage the lobes of the brain and stimulate neural pathways. On the first day I practiced the technique, during meditation afterward my brain felt like it was on fire, as if it were gently being simmered in the crockpot of my cranium. I could feel the interior lining of my skull, while each cell and fiber of my brain pulsated. It felt almost crystalline, as if my brain were made of glass, but composed of molecules that were simultaneously independent in their group cohesiveness. It felt like my brain was a shimmering, endlessly faceted jewel, and was alive with shimmering Chitshakti.[i]It was as if my consciousness had discovered the secret access to an ancient cave, its walls lined with the purest gold and diamonds. 

On the second day, during meditation, this continued but to a lesser degree, and instead shifted to awareness of a deepened experience of being. That Shivaness thing again. I also got the impression that something in the interior of my brain was being purified, and subsequently my body developed mild cold or flu like symptoms. My mind, in the meantime, naturally tried to do its thing to create fear or concern. My mind started throwing thoughts about having encephaliitis or some other disease. But intuitively, I knew this thought to be a falsehood and just let it wither. 

On the third day, yesterday, I got a bit busy in the morning, so I wasn’t able to make time to meditate until an hour before I had to be in work. So, I decided to squeeze in 20 or so minutes to do the 7 minute technique and meditate for the rest. I’m glad I did. As I sat in the rocker in my living room, during the 7 minute practice I again felt the stimulation in the lobes of my brain. Again I felt the sensation of shimmering, like sunlight reflected on a calmly rippling lake. As I went deeper into meditation, a soft sense of bliss enveloped me, and within short duration, I experienced my body dissolve into consciousness and vanish. Now, I didn’t actually physically disappear, but internally, my experience was that the external shell of my body just merged into the entirety of the physical universe. I experienced myself as pure consciousness. I was the universe. 

As I observed myself experiencing this, I saw that I was observing myself observing. The observer and observed were one. This, I recognized, was akin to the description of the state of Shiva defined in the Shiva Sutras and what I had just been reading in Muktananda’s commentaries. My whole being smiled with gratitude. A thought arose, inquiring from where or why this was arising, and I saw a very subtle image of the contour of the transparent head and shoulders of the Siddha master Bhagavan Nityananda composed of shimmering sparkles of pure gold. I saw that this was the gift of that great being, who is sort of the grandfather – the Bade Baba – of the Siddha lineage I had enjoined through my study with, and receipt of Shaktpat Diksha from, Swami Muktananda. I inwardly pranamed softly, with recognition and gratitude. 

This observer then opened its eyes to observe the time on my cell phone. 14 minutes had passed since I completed the 7-minute sadhana. This was perfect timing as now I had to end the session and get ready for work, with ample time to drive and arrive at my scheduled time. After Shiva brushed his teeth, groomed and dressed, I got in my car and noticed myself navigating the highways with complete serenity and stillness, witnessing everything with an evenness and choreographed perfection. 

The cranium massage experience, I had noticed through the week, was also occurring from almost the minute I switched off my mind’s focus on work details as I closed my shop and proceeded to my car in the parking lot, as well as throughout my commute, and after settling in at home. Most of these nights, I would fill a glass with purified water, then retire and sit in my bed to read a few passages from Secret of the Siddhas or Spanda Karikas. I randomly opened this latter book, to find the English translation of this passage: 

“When the yogi realizes the spanda* principle, then he knows that this is his essential Self, and not the empirical, psychosomatic creature whom he had so long considered to be his Self. He has now broken his shackles and is truly free.”[ii]

Pretty cool, huh? I love when that happens. Moreover, though I had randomly opened to that page, I noticed that I had circled that particular verse, accented with arrows for emphasis, at some point when I first read the book around 1986. Here’s a photo.

Though the book was published in 1980, I gathered that I must have last read this during my 1986 stay in the ashram, then with Baba’s successor, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. My clue: I had used a small photo of her as a bookmark I found elsewhere in the book. 

After this, I then meditated some more before lying down to contemplate myself to sleep. 

The adventure continues. Stay tuned…


*The above referenced Spanda principle is described in Spanda Karikas as follows: 

“A Yogi who closely observes his own (inmost) nature which is the Spanda principle recognized by means of the reasoning (already) mentioned, apprehends knowledge and activity as the presiding principle (meaning the principle that is the permanent Experient of all experiences [aka Shiva consciousness]) of life as the “I” pervading the normal consciousness even after meditation has ceased.”[iii]

[i]Chitshakti: Roughly translates as ‘conscious, self-aware pulsating energy’.

[ii]Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation by Jaideva Singh. © 1980 Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. Pg. 70

[iii]Spanda Karikas: The Divine Creative Pulsation by Jaideva Singh. © 1980 Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. Pg. 68

The gift of Diksha

Sun, March 31, 2019  10:58 Pm

ZW1Bh-kGU4S85D4u5bcXn6QecLrLGakFdMsZH7HTSbk    As I sit reading Secret of The Siddhas by Swami Muktananda for only the second time in 39 years, I witness with interest the shift in my consciousness on the points Muktananda cites. Looking back, it is clear that when I first read, for example, Baba’s (our affectionate name for Muktananda) commentaries on the Shiva Sutras, it was then with pure intrigue and youthful, academic and spiritual aspirant interest. Now, I marvel as it has become a testament to all that I received and how much I’ve grown from having received Shaktipat Diksha from Baba 40 years ago.

I was driving home earlier this evening and I suddenly recalled the day when one of Baba’s secretaries had approached me in the ashram to relay, that, “Baba said you can take the intensive.” The intensive was the main weekend retreat program in which Baba administered the ancient Shaktipat Diksha initiation into the yoga of the Siddhas. It was the foundation of his entire mission, and was what he was instructed to bring to the west by his own guru, Bhagavan Nityananda.

I don’t know why I spontaneously remembered that day and moment, but my heart bloomed with fond emotion. You see, at that particular time, I saved every penny I had in order to just spend one month with Muktananda in his ashram in New York. At the close of my semester at art school that Spring, I set up a table and sold many of my most prized possessions to help finance the rent, and maybe have a few extra dollars. I recall that after paying the rent, I had earned an extra fifty dollars to last me the entire month.

The cost to attend an intensive then was something like $300.00. But it may have well as been $3000 for me, an 18 year old art student just getting my feet wet. I remember that day so well because I was so shocked and grateful that this great, world-renown guru of gurus had somehow known my name and my circumstance enough to invite me to a program I couldn’t otherwise afford. The intensive was scheduled on the weekend of my 19th birthday, so this was a double amazing surprise. Because even then I understood Diksha as the transmission of the Holy Spirit – the same technique administered by Jesus to his apostles on Holy Thursday – and in the Catholic canon in which I was raised, this was considered the baptism into spirit. Because I saw this as a rebirthday (and I was right  – it was) I approached Baba to ask for a Sanskrit name – a common, optional custom done by his students. It was then that Baba gave me the name Atri.

But today, while driving, while all those pleasant thoughts ran through my mind, from the deeper perspective wherein I find my perception manifesting, I saw simply that the timing was right. I was born when I was born at the right time, I was with Muktananda at the right time as part of my soul’s agreement prior to being incarnated as Tom, and the time had arrived for me to receive Shaktipat Diksha from Baba. It transcended money and financing it – it was planned in the script of my soul’s journey.

It’s interesting. I’m not sure what prompted me to have that awareness or that thought in that particular instance. But this evening, as I recall that moment to write, what is more overwhelmingly emotional for me is to recognize that the promise inherent in the transference of Shaktipat Diksha I can see is gradually unfolding within me. Everything Baba promised is happening. I don’t know how else to share this. Aspirants who celebrate the silent, private joyous revelations while traversing the spiritual path will understand what I mean. It’s like learning that you’ve passed the bar exam, or finding out that the lottery ticket you lost in a drawer six months before was the big winner. When you spend years of your life slowly chipping away at a regular or even semi-regular yoga practice, there is so much exhilaration when you recognize the fruits of your effort. It’s just simply so sweet.

There is a fine mesh that separates identification with the Self and that of the limited jiva awareness. Yoga practice is the repetitive untying of the small knots and snags in that mesh that temporarily keep us from full establishment in the Self. Shaktipat is like a darning needle or a kerner that aids with the removal and undoing of those knots. Though an enlightened master provides the tool, its we who need to do the unraveling. But after a length of time, we recognize that our net is almost completely untangled, and establishment in the Self – union with pure being – is very close. Closer than ever. So close, it’s visible. It can be sensed.

But to get to this point, it took a gift that was given to me 40 years ago on my 19th Birthday to provide the key to the ignition of this vehicle that has reliably escorted me on this path for so long. I’m just so, so grateful. To my Baba, I say: Sadgurunath Maharaj Ki Jaya!!

Please don’t feed the mind

Wed. March 27th, 2019 5:50 pm


I had a perception that psychological challenges, which, in the west and in our modern times are typically assessed with counseling or some sort of psychotherapeutic delineation, aren’t so much mental maladies as they are calls from the soul, piercing through the veil of maya illusion in an attempt to seize our lost focus and reorient it towards the core truth of our existence.

In the Eastern traditions, psychological malady is recognized in this manner as it has been for ages. In primal or aboriginal cultures, a witch doctor or shaman might be consulted to eradicate demons or bad influences. The perspective taken is that the one suffering the affliction is always, at their base, well, and that help sought is simply to return them to wellness.

Western psychiatry takes a similar bent. There is always wellness buried behind the cobwebs of mental delusion.

I paused on this note while watching a film, in which the main character had a change of heart, a resulting change of character, and ultimately wellness and balance. The character had suffered from loneliness all his life, and so his actions were perceived as irrational because they were so over the top by conventional standards. The character simply was seeking love, to be loved, to be empowered to give it, and by so doing compelled others around him to avoid his company. This perplexed the main character, compelling him to behave in manners more extreme than in the beginning. Eventually, understanding between he and the others was achieved, and in that moment, psychological healing occurred, and the love that was so evasive was found, albeit possessing a different semblance than expected or initially envisioned.

This is true of all of us. It’s a human condition. We behave in manners that don’t always jive with our contemporaries – our family, friends, colleagues, community others – until we are able to recognize a need to initiate only the simplest change, and that is to allow the heart to open ever so slightly, which is all is needed for the light of right understanding to shine in all its brilliance.

As I contemplated this, I looked within myself and saw a pattern of similar irrational behavior that has puppeteered me my whole life. Then I recalled other instances when I could see these patterns in others. The whole of human behavior seems to be an expressive plea for the experience of love. Why is it that our species innately behaves so witlessly? We tend to bounce from external stimuli to external stimuli while our mind contrives what it perceives to be appropriate responses. Some of our behaviors are predicated on survival instinct. Some of them arise from fear. Some rise from a compellation to belong, to be wanted, to be needed. All of the latter arises from an innate desire to serve.

In a conversation about meditation with one of my colleagues, I was asked “But how do you make the mind stop?” The answer is simple: Don’t feed it. The mind doesn’t stop. It’s a mind. Its function is to think and create thoughts. One simply needs to watch the mind, witness it doing its thing.

The mind is a tool. Like our fingers, legs, liver, eyes, etc, it is provided in our species to serve a function, to serve us. The situation is that humanity has largely lost the ability to recognize this. Do we use the mind to serve us for our benefit? Or, do we let the mind use us to our detriment? The latter generally prevails.

The reason Buddha, Jesus and other great sages through history stand apart is that they found the means to lasso the mind and use it the way it was intended. The mind is the interference, the static on our television. Like a TV set, we just need to know the instructions to properly tune the mind to get the best and clearest reception. When we learn this, we soon see that we are inherently capable of seeing more than anticipated. By watching mind, by just witnessing thoughts come and go like flotsam and jetsam on the surface of a buoyant ocean, the mind recognizes that it has no control over us, and humbly retreats in submission, becomes clamer and more quiet, pranaming to the greatness of the now visible soul in the capacity of the servant which it rightfully is.

Regular practice of meditation is one technique that helps to keep the mind’s activity in check. It will, by its nature, repeatedly attempt to usurp the crown of the kingdom of the soul. This morning, for example, while I was meditating, my mind wouldn’t cease! Thought after thought arose, one after another in unrelenting repetition. Now and then, a thought here and there would distract me from my inner focus, and another thought would then arise that said “Hey, now that’s a good idea!” So, while I witnessed my thoughts, I witnessed a second and third tier of thoughts arise in conjunction with one initial thought. If I had to count the number of thoughts that arose in that 20 minute meditation session, I would have to say thousands, easily.

Yet, each time, I caught myself beginning to get distracted, and promptly averted my attention back to focus on the inhalation and exhalation of my breath. Almost immediately, the storm of thoughts would evaporate like steam. And all the while, another set of thoughts subtly began to percolate.

So, thoughts don’t stop, but we can. But simply sitting still and letting go for a few brief minutes out of each day, we gradually develop an increased habit of retaining the witness state, and with each day, the mind becomes gradually quieter and more subservient. The perfection of the mind as a tool lies in this state of subservience. Everything in creation is designed to serve everything else.

On the Sangreal with Brother Donkey

Thursday, March 7, 2019. 8:44 am

I haven’t logged in here for over a week, largely because I was so busy with my work on the cruise. So much has transpired in the time that’s passed. I’ll see what I can recall, going backward.

This morning I got out of bed around 6:45 for preparation to participate in a live, online meditation from India with Amma and Bhagavan, which was scheduled for 7:30am. The strange thing was, I was unable to sleep last night. This was unusual, as I was considerably tired when I went to bed around 11:45 pm last night. I found myself spending the night, lying in bed and watching my thoughts. My mind wouldn’t stop. It didn’t disturb me, though, as I found it more curious than anything. 

I’ve had this experience now and then through the years, and quite frequently when I lived in Muktananda’s ashram. I pondered whether some unseen force or a connection on a higher level had kept me awake intentionally to serve a deeper meditation in the morning. I’ve been experiencing lately a conscious force that seems to be supporting me from deep within myself. It’s as if, as I continue to gradually merge with my higher self, that my body is cajoled like a respected, subservient beast. That is, after all, what the human form is – a soul vehicle. I think I mentioned this before, that our bodies are the beasts over which we’ve been given domain. They are our pack mules, are loyal assistants and companions on the path. Saint Francis, I was recently reminded, referred to his body as ‘Brother Donkey.’ He had it. He knew it. Saint Francis was surely awakened if not most certainly enlightened. He was one with his soul and one with Christ. This is what enabled him to stand courageously before the pope of his era, and challenge the imposing church orthodoxy. He’s a study in human oneness with the divine. 

At 7:30, as the meditation began, I was outside with my dogs, calling them in from their morning romp. I brought them in, gave them each a biscuit, and then ascended to the upstairs office in our home where I’ve meditated, written, and have had countless deep experiences for more than 20 years. Almost immediately as I sat down to meditate and closed my eyes, my pineal gland began to calmly throb in a soothing cadence. I could feel a blessing – diksha – being bestowed from participating. My awareness went deep fairly fast as I was drawn deeper and deeper. 

After about 7 minutes had passed, I opened my eyes to find that the video connection to India had been lost. I smiled over this, and concluded that watching the Youtube link didn’t matter, because the real participation was within me. I wondered if this was an intentional lesson. It was one I got nonetheless. I did later learn that the meditation only lasted for 7 minutes. 

Bhagavan has been advocating assorted sadhana practices in 7 minute increments. “Always 7 minutes” he said on one video I recently watched. For example, the daily sadhana contemplation given in our December class suggested a 7 minute contemplation on one aspect of the Self. We were given 7 aspects of the Self – one for each day of the week. And to inaugurate a meditation or another skill, it was advised to inwardly or outwardly recite the Moola Mantra 7 times. For another practice, recite it 21 times. Everything is offered in multiples of 7. 

While I awaited the start of the meditation before letting my dogs out, I happened upon a Youtube video of someone’s trek to the meditation cave of the famed Babaji. Babaji, of course, is the ageless avatar referenced in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. It was Babaji who initiated Lahiri Mahasaya into the ageless, once secretive practice of Kriya Yoga in 1861 from that very cave. Mahasaya then taught this practice to Sri Yukteshwar, the guru of Yogananda, who in turn brought it to the west in the 1920’s and opened the door for the western hemisphere’s favor for yoga and meditation that prevails to this day. 

I thought it a curious coincidence that I should stumble across this video prior to my transcontinental meditation session. When I was first learning to meditate as a teenager, it was the photo of Babaji in Yogananda’s book on which I focused, meditated, and quite frankly used to summon as a deity. I have felt Babaji’s presence in my life ever since.  I have been wondering if my more recent experiences of an unseen guide are him. In fact, I’ve had countless experiences of an unseen, benevolent guide throughout my 40 years of sadhana practice. Whether or not I was fully engaged in yoga practice or goofing off and partying more, always there was some gentle hand guiding me through my navigation of this world. But that is the magic that is available in yoga practice. There is a reason so many have practiced it for ages, for thousands of years. It is the true path, the Sangreal. The Grail is the inner Self.

My mind is quiet now. The combination of no sleep and an hour of deep meditation has left me in a nice state. I’m going to relish it for a while before heading to work in a few hours. More on my adventures later. 




The world is an ashram

2:00 pm

Twilight in Edinburgh

The best part of maintaining an awareness yoga practice is that everything becomes a sadhana, a conscious practice of personal evolution. I just showered, groomed, and dressed in preparation for my work event in one hour with colleagues and clients. I noted how, with awareness-consciousness, even the smallest detail became a practice towards perfection and mastery – even trimming my beard. I noted that there was no vanity in the action. But, rather, a considerate focus on simply respecting myself, and respecting my colleagues and clients. Certainly my employer doesn’t want a slovenly slob to show up for representation. And my client, who may likely be a tad insecure since this is her first company event with us, wants to feel assured that the very best representative of my company is escorting her for the afternoon and evening’s events. In other words, our actions require a perspective of service. Seva. This is what I learned decades ago in the ashram with Baba Muktananda. 

I recall, when I was 19, being in that ashram and noting how it was an encapsulated embodiment of the entire world due to the presence of yoga students from every country on the planet. Today, while standing outside of my hotel here in Miami, the thought came to mind “The world is the ashram.” This is true. The lesson to learn in an ashram are the life skills you take away with you to apply in your daily life after you leave. The situation in this modern age is practicing awareness where you are, with what you got, and whomever you are with. All are reflections of the divine, of the conscious order of creation. God dwells in everyone equally, without discrimination. 

By seeing this connection within yourself, you can witness that divine soul part of another individual. Moreover, by practicing awareness yourself, you witness their soul enlivening in your company, and pushing its way forward into the consciousness of the other. Recall the meaning of the word Yoga – Union. By connecting within yourself, you facilitate and serve humanity through proximity of the others around you. An old prayer we chanted in the ashram used to say “kindle my heart’s flame with thine.” By practicing awareness, you innately become a light in the wilderness for others who are transmigrating through this existence with you. Their soul not only recognizes the awakened flame of the holy spirit within you, but reaches out toward the life, like a hungry moth proceeding toward flame. Each person’s soul yearns to reconnect. It’s our modus operandi. 

As I write this, I’m experience love spontaneously welling up in my heart. I don’t know why other than the simple joy I glean from writing these perceptions from the path. I suppose the love is arising from a sense of gratitude I am experiencing from finding my way back to the path of inner connection. It has been my personal life’s motive since childhood. I always desired to have a deep relationship with God. I am more moved to learn, that, after 50 years of seeking, I find that God has been desiring a deep relationship with me. It’s the best sort of love affair because there is no adultery or cheating involved. My heart is overwhelmed with emotion now, as if each word I write is acknowledged by something deep within me that is simultaneously grateful that I have at long last awakened. I can give God a rest now. LOL. He/She/It can now enjoy a vacation. The best part of that, is, God gets to enjoy that vacation through me. For here I am in Miami for another night, and tomorrow we sail for Haiti and Jamaica. God is pleased to experience its own joy through me. 

Now it is time for me to descend to the lobby to join my colleagues and clients for our work venture. And again – it’s a beautiful thing – work, too, becomes an opportunity to practice sadhana, to do seva – service – to others, my family (though earning money), and experience the divine in a curiously unique manner. Baba used to call this the play of consciousness, the dance of Shiva. He was most definitely correct. 

Love you all. Talk to you later. Peace.

PS: One last thought: Since I’ve enrolled in an 8 year Sadhana, EVERYTHING I do for the next 8 years will be a sadhana, a yoga practice. It’s a wonderful life. I can’t thank Bhagavan and Amma enough for inviting me to join them on this excursion. It’s a great gift, my graduate course in yoga. So far, things are looking up and I am witnessing this magic unfolding of everything I’ve ever read or heard about the experience of the inner journey. This is good stuff, and I’m loving it.



Kundalini Kindergarten

Saturday, February 23, 2019 10:002 am.

My meditations are getting deeper with each day, each week. The physical sensations I feel seem to me to be a healing and adjustment to the effects earned by shear laziness in spiritual practice for over a decade. Certainly, for all those years, I thought I was regular meditator, I thought I prayed adequately. The latter is true, however. Though I may have not done much, at the very least I maintained a relatively regular daily conversation with God. I didn’t know who was listening. I would talk, ask, request, and let them do the work. And yet, from the time before the retreat I attended in December and since, I’ve felt that everything has been perfect just as it is, as it has played out. 

When I review my activities and inclinations of the past 14 or so years, I can clearly see that all of those tendencies and desires were things I had to exercise out of my consciousness. These must have been impressions accumulated for lifetimes, and certainly from this incarnation. My desire to party, imbibe alcohol, smoke weed, have sex, procrastinate, and the biggie – to self-indulge in my own pity party for not experiencing fulfillment – all of this was just preparatory stuff for this time. I look now and see that, spiritually, I was only in kindergarten. Actually, it’s as if I had to go through the whole gamut of the corresponding years one spends in primary education – 12 years – to prep for now. Now, I feel that I am in a Master’s academy. 

It is fascinating to consider, that, in the old days in Asia, a student would have to go away and spend this number of years in a monastery or ashram, dedicating that time to intense scriptural and philosophical study, contemplation, meditation, prayer, and the direct tutelage of an enlightened master. Today, one need not go further than their own study, bedroom or living room, because all that needs to be learned externally is accessible by internet, and internally, as it has always been there. 

There was another set of remarks made by Bhagavan in one video that struck a chord. He mentioned how high experiences will come and go, that Kundalini will rise and subside, that all of this is normal. This resonated with me as I do experience these peak moments of feeling in union with creation, accompanied by profound ecstasy and joy, and then it will subside. I experience gentle throbbing in my pineal gland accompanied by an extraordinary, sustained serenity, and this too will subside. He said it’s just part of the process.

The more I contemplated this pattern, it made sense. All of nature’s life force is reflected in an ebb and flow – in our breath, in our blood, in our hydration, and in nature in ocean waves on the surf, in weather changing, in the cycle of sun and moon rising and setting. All of nature flows in a cyclical manner. Kundalini rising and subsiding along with accompanying experience seems to ebb and flow at its own rate. But, the distinction I’m learning through direct observation and experience, is that Kundalini is embodied with consciousness. It is an energy force that is aware of itself. It is, what is known in Christendom, as The Holy Spirit. Kundalini is the hand of God, of creation, exercising itself through our being. Our being is just a function of creation. Hence the age-old philosophical schools that address ego identification as an illusory distraction. Is a flower conscious of its own color or distinction of variety, as a rose or a sunflower? The flowers may be more advanced and enlightened than we.

The sages both old and contemporary all concur that being born into a human incarnation is a rare gift. It seems to be the one outlet of creation that is enabled with the ability to become aware of itself, and to recognize the distinctions that define it. The ego identification is what separates us as “different”, whether it be by race, nationality, religious affiliation, cultural mannerisms, weight, hair and eye color, ancestry, name, etc. Identification with ego’s impressions on the mind and mental faculties is what starts wars, what incites murder, revenge, all the vices and defined set of sins. Our ancestors have advised us for generations to be wary of these deceptions the mind cultivates. Has there been a disconnect in our current era? Has the present generation simply discarded these ancient lessons and words of advice that have been passed on? I see it as an innate tendency borne of the desire for independence. 

By identifying with ego, we interpret personal independence in a variety of manifestations: ignoring our parent’s requests; ignoring established laws and cultural guidelines, etc, unmindful for the reasons that set such regulations in place. Not all such man-made laws are good ones, as we’ve seen in the United States manifested in the legal enslavement of imported peoples, of denying civil rights to many of those same peoples, etc. Jesus addressed this question: Were the laws made for man or man for the law? We need to question, we need to grasp, understand, and continue to advocate for what is right. But it has always required to be done with wisdom. 

As soon as a law is set for the greedy gain of one people, political or religious sway, then the wisdom is left at the doorstep. Wisdom in human decision making must always be paramount and placed on the highest altar. Recognition of wisdom comes from within, beyond the reach of the ego. In ancient times, civic agreement was not predicated on egoic decision. It was made with the collective acknowledgment of the perceived wisdom respectively  arising within each political decision maker. True societies were established in this way. We have just lost our way through time. 

We must regain the ability to be aware through practice of awareness. That is the connection with the creative force, the consciousness that weaves it’s breath through every fiber of this creation – materially, psychologically, spiritually. The ancients gave names to this force to define an experience: Yh-wh, Allah, Paramatma, Brahma, God. Jesus simply called it “Father.” Despite its name, its all the same thing. Our stringent, egoic adherence to our perceived ideology as being the only correct one lacks the needed wisdom on which it is predicated. We need to practice awareness and return to that source again. We can even come up with a new name for it. Because one thing is certain – it is not a fantasy. This life force is very palpably real, and can be known and experienced.

Lately, while I’ve been sitting in meditation, my legs and feet spontaneously have been taking on a walking motion. My muscles seem to assert themselves in such a manner as if to tell me that this beast that I embody needs to walk. This is how conscious life force works. We need to recognize it. By ignoring such signals, that is what has since become dogmatically defined as sin, and then sin has taken on a whole new set of meanings. Sin is nothing more than ignoring the conscious prompting of the holy spirit as it moves within us. Our minds then take it to whole other level, and we feel it is ok to steal our neighbor’s money and possessions, violate them sexually without consent, or take their life. 

But getting back to my meditation, this leg impulse has happened so frequently that it is clearly trying to tell me that I need to walk more, that I need to at least do that to keep my heart and body in shape. It’s not that different than my dogs coming over to where I’m sitting and rest their chin on my arm, awaiting my acknowledgement. They are asking me to take them for a walk. Likewise, the human beasts we inhabit, when we begin to recognize that we are souls simply renting the space for a limited duration, will also tell us when we need to go out for a walk. Or stop eating, or imbibing, or doing things that may be harmful to our respective beast individually. This is how self-mastery is accomplished. 

Now I need to prepare for my work day. I’ll sign in later. 



Body detox with a side of gelato

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2019. 

Lavender Gelato

The rest of yesterday was a good experience. I arrived at my hotel – East, in Miami – around 5:30pm. I set my luggage in my room, then promptly went out to explore the terrain. The weather is lovely here in Miami – a comfortable, breezy 73 degrees last night, and an equally comfortable 80 degrees today. 

I ventured through the adjacent mall here in Brickell Plaza, looking for a reasonably priced polo shirt, but the lowest price I found was $68.00, so I passed on that. Instead, I went and had an excellent organic veggie burger and a cold-pressed carrot/lime/orange/cayenne juice at a local venue called Dr. Smoods. It was perfect. I considered how much I am enjoying eating less, lighter, and healthier these days, pretty much abandoning my former taste for seafood. I just don’t care to eat creatures anymore. But for me, that’s an easy choice. I only began to eat seafood as a compromise after I married to make things easier on my family and myself, as none of them have vegetarian inclinations. It was ok, but time to move on in the dietary department. 

I’m focused on detoxifying my body, gradually. I made some fresh celery and ginger juice at home this past week, and the positive effects were astonishing. I felt lighter, internally balanced, and noted that my skin had a glow and my eyes seemed wider and brighter. Juicing, I realized, is the way to go, going forward. It is the fountain of youth. 

After eating my burger, I returned to the hotel and got a glass of French rose at one of the bars, and returned to my room. I enjoyed the view of downtown Miami and its network of waterways from my balcony on the 30thfloor. It struck me as a modern Venice. 

I decided to take a walk, not venturing farther than the front of my hotel. From the street, I noticed a Haagen Das store and thought ice cream might be a nice treat. When I got there, the flavors didn’t appeal to me, so I made my way down the hall to Le Roy Rene, the US branch of a French confectionary based in Aix en Provence, which my wife, daughter and I had visited a couple of years ago. This was a great find, and I ordered a Lavender gelato. I was surprised that I liked it. 

I returned to my room with a refill of Rose and watched mini lectures about yoga practice on Youtube. I found some randomly selected topics of interest, and then some offered by my current teacher. True to form, Bhagavan inadvertently would comment on something that seemed to be the right thing to hear at the moment on some prescient concern or topic I’d been questioning. In short, I took away some nice lessons and watched my spiritually awareness expand in just that short time. I guess it would be easy to say that my internal spiritual growth is now so accelerated that I can almost witness the potency as its occurring. 

But then again, this, of course, is what is supposed to happen after receiving diksha. So much of it is evocative of being with Baba Muktananda when I was younger. In fact, I was struck by remarks Bhagavan made that were identical to lessons Baba had taught me 40 years ago. Two that come to mind was Bhagavan’s advice to rise each day before the sun rises over the horizon, to ask for blessings for the day at that time with gratitude, and when you eat, leave your belly half empty. I smiled at the latter, because I have been employing that lesson for the past 40 years since hearing Baba recommend it. Less is more when it comes to meal consumption. 

It was small suggestions like that that reassured me that Bhagavan is a master yogi. The man is simply enlightened, can hone in on the minute nuances of any psychological issue with surgical precision and a simultaneous ease of candor as if it is no big deal. And I – we – are all learning that nothing is a big deal. In one video he was talking about embracing all of your bad habits because there is nothing you can do about it. They are there. If you try to avoid or hide them, they just persist and eat away from the inside. By embracing them fully, for what they are and with awareness and acceptance of them, you initiate the process of being released from their influence. That’s how liberation works. That’s how moksha, mukti gradually comes about. I found this video particularly enlightening. 

After a while, I joined two of my company’s clients from Long Island, a lovely gay couple whose names are both Steve. We refer to them as “The Steves.” The Steves and I have known and fraternized for at least the last five years, often at company functions. The first time we hung out was in Las Vegas. We were all there for a company function at the studio and home of artist Michael Godard. The Steves and I were then the first to arrive at our hotel – the Mandalay Bay resort – finding ourselves in line together for check in. Since then, we’ve become good friends, and last night reinforced that, as I learned they live close to Yaphank, Long Island, where I drove to do some research about two years ago. That trip might be another blog topic at some point.The Steves and I chatted about a good deal of topics, and made for a very enjoyable evening. I did not realize that 4 hours had passed until I asked one Steve the time and it was after midnight. At that point, we said good night, and went to our rooms.

Inner contentment during a Lyft ride

Thoughts on recent experiences while Meditating

Just some thoughts while I recall them. I have noticed that each time I meditate, I feel a variety of moving sensations within my brain. I haven’t been able to define if it’s just the nerve endings on the skin layer over my skull, or if there is something going on with synapse cellular growth within my brain. I am aware that scientific research has conclusively proven that meditation does enhance brain ability and will stimulate previously abandoned neurological waystations within the brain.

All this morning, for example, while I rode in my hired Lyft to the airport, while walking through the terminal, and while sitting at my gate awaiting to board, I felt a massage-like sensation gently pulsating in the area of the pineal gland between my eyebrows. Accompanying that was a very gentle sense of joy and fulfillment – the contentment mentioned in the first part of this entry. 

The other day, I noticed my body just kept wanting to recline and rest, no matter how much I rested anyway. I was curious about why this was happening, as I didn’t really feel fatigued. While laying on my bed for several hours, I noticed how oxygen seemed to almost forcibly flow through my bloodstream. I felt it more pronounced in my legs, my lungs, organs, etc. It was a curious experience. I asked my soul, my Antaryamin, what this was about. Almost immediately I was reminded that I had recently prayed to be healed of any ailment I had of which I wasn’t aware that I had. I actually had this same notion weeks before, when I had a relentless case of the flu for three weeks – a duration I don’t recall having before.

In meditation, I became cognizant that my body was cleansing itself. Of course, all sickness is the body’s effort to cleanse itself of biological invaders, But it is also true that the practice of yoga, while digging deeply into the psyche to help create awareness, simultaneously is digging deeply into our cellular level, eradicating the root cause of those symptoms that prevent us from experiencing our inherently divine nature. 

Typing within a Tetris Cube

2:42 pm  On the flight to Miami. 

An hour to go. I thought of the idea of setting up a new blog. One that will span the forthcoming 8 years of Sadhana. I envision myself and the blog as an aquarium for readers to witness the unfolding transformation that a true sadhana offers. 

As of now, I want to write more, but I can’t seem to do so comfortably. The person sitting to my right has commandeered the central armrest shared between us, and the person in front of me has their seat reclined. I feel like I’m trying to type within a Tetris cube. Or a parallelogram. It’s an interesting experience as I write in a contorted position. How fun it is when you just allow yourself to experience the truth of what is and the way something it is instead of judging and delegating it to expectations of how it should be done. Certainly, I prefer more elbow room and privacy, etc, etc, but being in the circumstances as they are is a celebratory affair, unique and unlike any other. It’s another way that God manifests the varied marvel of his creation. Flowers plants, species come in varied forms. So do our experiences. If we allow experiences to be viewed as another variety in the garden of our life, it makes the way so much more enjoyable. 

I was contemplating the earlier segment about judging. This is such an important component of sadhana. That is, to witness the mind’s tendency to judge. By judging, we limit ourselves from experiencing another person for who or what they are, and potentially deprive ourselves of an invaluable gift or lesson that might be gleaned from non-judgmental interaction. By reacting, by embracing an arising anger, ….lost my train of thought there. Got distracted by observing the activity of another on the plane. It is interesting to watch how the mind wants to drag us down, to drag us into the hell of a situation. That is, at least one aspect of the mind. I believe this is how evil or darkness slips its way into our lives. It cannot be straightforward. It has to be sneaky. This is why the wise author of the book of Genesis depicted Satan as a snake. Deviousness is its hallmark characteristic. 

This same mind and the same thought in the same moment can alternately be experienced as a divinely influenced thought. Meaning, while the dark mind is attempting to distract us with thoughts or notions that are adharmic, negative, unhelpful, unworthy, and unserving, there is in that moment a light, an illumination on a hidden lesson. Sadhana is about seeing those lessons in all their subtle glory. As we enable ourselves to see them through proper practice and effort, they instead move to the fore and become the dominant thoughts of our nature, thus transforming our nature. It’s as simple as that. 

Here is an example. I wrote all that you’ve read while sitting in a contorted position in a crowded airplane. I could have sat here and written a piece that grumbled about everything mentioned in a pessimistic or negative light. Instead, I simply stated the circumstances as facts. It is what it is. And I moved on, focusing instead on the progress in yoga practice on which I’m reflecting. 

3:13 pm

The captain just announced that we’ll be landing in 30 minutes. I’m pretty impressed with American Airlines. This plane is similar to the one on which I returned from the UK in June of 2018. Time to sign off for now, to put away the laptop and prepare to land. 

The Tao of solitude in a busy airport terminal

The 8 year journey, post 1.

First entry – Friday, 2/23/2019 11:19am

It’s funny what a difference a few months of conscious yoga practice can make. I just arrived at the Philadelphia airport, about to catch a flight to Miami for a work weekend, followed by work on the Monsters of Rock cruise. 

In the past, work travel excited me. I used to look forward to squeezing in the available minutes and hours as an opportunity for micro vacations. Though it is not yet noon, I’m aware that tonight I will not have to work. In the past, I may have already found myself parked before a bar and ordering a beer. 

But I find myself completely content. I have no desire for a beer. I have no desire for anything. I find myself instead relishing the simple joy of just living and being in the moment. A beer cannot replace the satisfaction I felt just walking to my departure gate. Instead of purchasing a bottled water, I stopped at a water bottle refill station to fill the empty I brought from home. I have no interest in gorging myself on a Bruegger’s bagel and coffee or a vegetarian Smashburger, if such a thing exists. 

I am learning to once again be mindful in the moment, to surrender to the moment, of wherever my feet and legs have directed me. Though I anticipate events and opportunities to come in the week ahead both while hosting clients tomorrow and on the cruise to follow, I find my mind relatively quiet and desireless. This is a plus. For, in the practice of yoga, it is helpful to witness the gauge of progress in the small things of life. Therein lies the secret. 

A year ago, I went on the same cruise. I’ll post that story soon. Looking back, when I review that saga, though filled with funny moments and interesting anecdotes, I view it as somewhat pathetic. I’m not judging myself. I had a good time. I just don’t feel like the same person now. I see how that 57 year old guy was burning off what may have been the final steam of my partying years. I still don’t judge, because my own experience is now my guru. There is a lesson, for me, to learn by reflecting on my actions. They weren’t bad, weren’t wrong, but just less conducive to the direction I’m presently heading. 

I’ve learned that all those activities, in the bigger picture that yoga unveils, represent somewhat wasted time. Not wholly, though, and specifically because of the lessons and insights I’ve gained. So, in this regard, I am excited for the week ahead simply to see how this awakened being now embodying me will respond in the exact same scenarios. 

Already the tests issue forth. In the terminal here, I had selected a seat in the back row against a wall where it was quiet and I could write. Then, a few minutes ago, a guy talking very loudly on his cell phone sat across from me. It’s not just normal tone, it’s exceptionally loud. When he first sat down, I found myself unable to think. I could see how my instinctual mind was prepared to begin its parade of condescending remarks: Oh, how inconsiderate! What’s with this guy? Doesn’t he know how loud he is? Should I politely ask him to keep his voice down? Surely others are disturbed. But I didn’t listen to these thoughts. I saw them, like a school of fish swimming close to the water’s surface – perceivable and wanting food. I didn’t feed them. 

Instead, I looked at what I needed to do to kind of turn off my hearing and focus on writing this through the sound. Besides, if I think this guy is loud, I’m in for a surprise when I spend a week with a boatload of heavy metal bands and rock n roll fans, with concert sets blaring from every corner of the cruise ship. And there’s my self-ordained sadhana practice for the cruise – how to stay quiet within myself in the midst of loud and attractive noise. It will just be what is, in that moment, just as this good fellow – who is curiously quiet now once I surrendered to being with it – was in the moment a few minutes ago. And who knows? Maybe someone else finds my quiet disturbing. So, who am I to allow my mind to influence my state of being and initiate judgement?

Like my account of the cruise last year, I plan on logging a daily entry of the day’s events. My friend Carol has already contacted me, asking if I’d like to go in on a drink package with her. It’s funny because though I’m aware I did drink last year, I actually have little interest in subjecting myself to the same situation, and have little desire to drink. 

I have noted my desire to drink and dependency on stimulants to feel good beginning to wane. None of those things, which I’ve done for most of my adult life, have provided any of the internal euphoria, contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration that I have experienced since again engaging in a serious, focused daily meditation practice. Of course, I like a beer now and then. What’s shifted is my desire to drink. It doesn’t control me. There’s no need. I can take it or leave it. That’s the difference.