The Road to Heaven is Paved with Good Intentions (Thank You, Swami J)
The Road to Heaven is Paved with Good Intentions (Thank You, Swami J)
I originally posted this about a year ago; but, my feelings have not diminished. It needed to be restated. I refreshed it a little, too.
Satsang is a Sanskrit word I love; it has an onomatopoeia-like quality to it… When I say it I feel a warmth, like Picasso said, “the sun in my belly”.
Satsang can be translated as, “keeping company with the truth “. Sat, means “highest truth”. It is one of the attributes of the Center of Consciousness.
The suffix -sang in “Satsang” means community; as in the Buddhist term “Sangha”.
In previous posts, I stressed the necessity of going inside to steep in Center of Consciousness. The distillate of direct experience is the highest truth. It is not mere conceptual knowledge.
However, since it is Our Collective Center, we can also expand our knowledge of it by spending time with other seekers. We can help each other to remember Our True Nature–the aforementioned Center of Consciousness–which is eternal and flawless.
It is so to forget, even for the most dedicated aspirant. Self-seeking can be isolating. But, the spiritual path is not supposed be grim. Even monks gather in communities! So, go into the cave; but, emerge and share the Divinity of Our True Nature.
Ah, it’s nice to return to the blog-o-sphere…
I never pegged myself as one to share extremely personal things via my blog; however, I feel sharing this experience is beneficial on multiple levels. Firstly, I want to explain my hiatus from this commitment. Secondly, I hope that sharing the experience will allow others to catch a glimpse into my reality and, perhaps, see our commonality. Lastly, I believe that appropriate sharing is cathartic.
When I first set out to create this blog, I did so with my life partner, my best friend, my husband. Some of you who have been following will remember our collaborations and his poetry–which are still hosted on this site. Despite us both being committed to our spiritual paths, our relationship path has diverged and we are not continuing in the direction of a married couple. We are still committed to our children and to the being the best co-parents and friends we can be.
Sharing what “happened” isn’t necessary. In fact, according to Swami Rama, “The nature of Reality is a game of hide and seek, which is really the only game there is—now you see it and now you don’t.” Furthermore, the Yoga Sutras explain: “Although the same objects [or situations] may be perceived by different minds, they are perceived in different ways, because those minds manifested differently.”
So in actuality, what “happened” is based on whose perspective you garner. In fact, the word perspective is powerful in and of itself… According to Google, “[in] late Middle English (in the sense ‘optics’): from medieval Latin perspectiva (ars ) ‘science of optics,’ from perspect- ‘looked at closely,’ from the verb perspicere, from per- ‘through’ + specere ‘to look.’” What calls me is not the fact that it means to look, it’s the fact that it denotes looking through.
So what is it that we are looking through?
It is the veiling Power of the Universe, Maya. “Maya means appearance, as if something appears to be one way, but is really another… some view maya as meaning that nothing is real, and turn this into a cold-hearted intellectual practice, others view the illusion of maya as being shakti, the creative force of the universe. In this way, the maya of the koshas is experienced both as unreal and, at the same time, as the beautiful manifestations of the universal oneness” (Swami J).
The reversal of this process is the purpose of meditation in traditional Yoga. As Georg Feuerstein has explained, it is implosion. A receding (for lack of a better word), through all the “layers” until there is an experience of “The Witness?“.
How does this tie in with Chad and I? Well, I believe the philosophy and the practices I have been sharing have helped me to be more at peace with what is happening. Firstly, as I have mentioned, I appreciate perspective in a way that I have never before. I feel more empathetic towards someone who I may have considered to be an adversary in the past. Secondly, they have given me more self-regulation. All of the time watching my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors have helped me to be less reactive. I am certainly not professing mastery; but, I feel less volatile. Additionally, I attribute a general feeling of optimism because I know that what I am is not defined by my life situation–there is a constant which is unaffected and I have access to the peace of this space.
I was recently presented with the metaphor of grief being like a spiral staircase–as opposed to being like a ladder with rung-like stages. We continually move through stages, which circle back around; but, on the next pass we’ve moved higher. This is also a metaphor for sadhana (the spiritual path); we keep moving upwards–even if it seems we’re going around in circles.
Make sure to click the links– there is a plethora of information there.
Om Shanti Namaste
I have been pretty busy the last two weeks; I went to the Ashram for Guru Purnima (which is a little foreshadowing about my next post is the series, “How Do You Qualify Yoga“). Then, as I had been posting for the last few months. Ma Tri came to visit and it was sublime. The following post is the original I submitted to United Intentions. It will probably be edited in their version; but, it’s my first venture into being a guest blogger!
Descartes famously said, “I think therefore I am.” In this statement he is proposing that we are a collection of thoughts which coalesces into the human entity. Well, this is in stark contrast to several spiritual traditions, such as: Buddhism, New Thought, and the Himalayan Tradition (a convergence of three North Indian philosophies). These traditions believe there is one source, one power in the Universe, however, it is called by many names. For simplicity sake, in this article I will refer to it as the Center of Consciousness.
According to the aforementioned, and many other, traditions, at our truest level we are one and the same with the Center of Consciousness. However, we take on a layers of false identities. Consider a newly born baby, they do not know their name, sex, or race. All of these are identities which, over time, are bestowed on them.
The term “false identity” should not be considered a negative one. Without taking on some of these rolls we wouldn’t be able to work, have relationships, or procreate. The challenge is to see beyond what feels so real to us. The way that we set down the identifications, is through practices which take us inside: meditation, contemplation, gratitude, and intentions work to bring us through our roles towards the Center of Consciousness.
In the Himalayan Tradition, the main identities are considered to be bodies, or sheaths, which, like a lampshade veil the truth that at the Center we are indescribable pure potentiality. This tradition also views the mind as an instrument through which the Center of Consciousness experiences the world. When the mind is polished through the aforementioned practices, we see clearly who we are and the world around us. In one Buddhist tradition this is called Vipassana, clear seeing. We can see that negative thought patterns, prejudices, fear and hatred are a result of the clouded and dusty lens.
Meditation is the way we train our mind to not be swayed by its natural fluctuations. Contemplation is the practice of holding higher vibrational thoughts which point us, like a compass, towards the Center. Gratitude practices, like contemplation, remind us to focus on what is working in our lives. The more gratitude we offer the more we realize we are blessed and often have more resources available then we realize. Gratitude increases generosity. Lastly, intentions, which are synonymous with affirmative prayer, are how we point our crystalline laser mind on the whatever goal we want to accomplish.
When we declare an intention and use our adjunctive practices to keep our mind translucent, we are saying to the Universe that this is what we truly want our lives to look like. But, the “Universe” is not some force outside of us. As mentioned, we are one and the same with the Center. If we truly want something to manifest in our lives, intentions just remind us that in the world of apparent duality, we are who we are seeking at the core.
Intention setting is not to be mistaken with manipulation; as stated adjunctive practice provide clarity. If we are “tuned in” our intentions will be set for the greatest good, not for mere selfish gain. Furthermore, since there is only one Center all of ours are one and the same. When we set intentions that are positive, we raise the vibration of the planet as a whole. Setting intentions is a spiritual practice; it is an opportunity to inherit your birthright which is whatever you intend it to be!
Part 4 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga”
Please let me forewarn you, this may be a polarizing post. Humans, on many levels, enjoy their misidentification with nonself (to borrow a Buddhist term). We cling desperately to all that we are not–all that we are attached to. The ego is a collection of false identities, which the teachings of Yoga systematically deconstruct. The ego gets particularly obnoxious when we perceive we are being told that we are doing something “incorrectly” (or at least differently from how it was intended).
Dharma is a Sanskrit term which is utilized in many traditions; however, it has no true English translation. Dharma can mean, law, right-way, and order; Feurestein ascribes it to morality. Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism are all called “dharmic traditions (or religions)”. Truthfully, there really is no “religion” called Hinduism. Hinduism is a term that originated from the British trying to describe the various traditions of the people Sindhu River. Hinduism is a collection of philosophies, among them: Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism–all of whom, like the branches of Yoga, describe the Ultimate Reality in different ways. Sanatana Dharma means the “Eternal Way” (or law, morality, etc.). It is the wellspring out of which the dharmic traditions sprung.
Yoga and Sanatana Dharma cannot be separated. Their lines are intrinsically blurred. While it’s possible to practice Yoga and still adhere to other religious tenets–Christianity is very much a Bhakti Yoga practice–the origins are one and the same. Conversely, it is possible to be a Hindu and not practice Yoga; however, they originate from the same source.
All types of Yoga (not mere asana practice), have a dharmic component. In some paths the tenets are spelled out in recommended actions and restraints. In other paths, there is a call towards looking inward towards ones own moral compass. Regardless, there are no Yogic recommendations towards: competitiveness, hyper-sexuality, greed, or lying. However, that is often the case in the contemporary Yoga scenario. Studios are selling expensive clothing, hyper-mobility is lauded, scant dress is praised, and teacher’s don’t have a personal sadhana. It’s not a judgement, you aren’t bad if you’re doing these things.
Yoga is not about a punitive deity waiting to judge–it’s about becoming so clear and so aligned that you wouldn’t want to do these things. Patanjali calls this the “great vow”. It is not about becoming pious either; but, there is nothing wrong about being aware of what Yoga is and is not.
The old rule, are you ready to break it?
Convention just isn’t strong enough to make it
It collapses under the weight
of a new world order played out in faith
enlightened by a good man worthwhile
An indigo child running wild
sparkling eyes so sweet, noble to the core
No story quite like this has been written before
He speaks kindly and clearly to every man
He’s a language that everyone understands
He’ll stay with you come whatever may
Staring down the impossible, he always sees a way
So simple yet so profound is his gift
No need to struggle, he’ll lend a hand and just lift
this burden into the ether and off your shoulders
He’ll laugh with you as you grow older
A hero that wants only your favor in return
A fireman to rescue you as this world burns
A great example that equalizes the good books
A man that forces you to take a closer look
at the version of truth you’ve chosen to greet
and if you look both ways before you cross this street
you’ll surely see his gorgeous, speeding karma
blow by brilliantly and run right over your dogma