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 duty, 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 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 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 made 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 with 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 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 of 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 closed my shop at work and proceeded to my car in the parking lot, throughout my commute, and after settling in at home. Most of these nights, I would then 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…

Tom

*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

Please don’t feed the mind

Wed. March 27th, 2019 5:50 pm

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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. 

Peace.

 

 

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. 

Peace.

 

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.