Intro Notes: Diwali and Lakshmi


Welcome to Perfect Paradise everyone! I’m so thrilled to have you all with me today. Please make yourselves comfortable on a mat, or if you’d prefer not to do yoga let me know and I can rezz a cushion for you.

On Sunday, Nov 3 millions of people all over the world celebrated Diwali, an annual five day festival in honour of the good in the world.

“Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. Lamps are lit on this day not just to decorate homes, but also to communicate a profound truth about life — when the darkness within is dispelled through the light of wisdom; the good in us wins over the evil.”

Diwali (pron. divali) is a short word for “deepavali” which literally means, “row of lamps.”

During this festival the goddess Lakshmi is worshiped. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. This festival marks the end of the harvest in most of India. Throughout history, farming was one of the only ways to make a living, and to feed those you care about. Because of this, wealth took on more meaning than what it means today.

It is said that on this day, many years ago, Vishnu returned home, where Lakshmi, his wife, was waiting. Those who worship her receive the benefit of her benevolent mood and are therefore blessed with mental, physical, and material well-being.

Spiritually, this is the day Lakshmi-panchayatan entered the Universe. Panchayatan means a group of five. This group was composed of five elements:

-Vishnu: happiness and satisfaction
-Kubera: wealth and generosity
-Indra: opulence
-Gajendra: carries the wealth
-Saraswati: knowledge

Lakshmi provides the Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides the environment necessary for these activities.

Lighting the candles during this festival is a kind of metaphor for shedding light on parts of our life that we typically don’t notice.

“Life has many facets and stages to it. It is important that we throw light on all of them, for if one aspect of our life is in darkness, we cannot express life in its totality.”

In Hindu philosophy, which is where this festival comes from, it is believed that there is “something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman.” Diwali, celebrating good over evil, refers to the “light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things.”

The following is an excellent article from the Huffington Post on Diwali, if you are interested in learning more about the festival: http://goo.gl/QWSvCf

Let us explore the aspect of ourselves related to beauty and prosperity.

The wealth mentioned when speaking of Lakshmi is a wealth of both material and spiritual prosperity. She is also known as the embodiment of beauty, grace, and charm. Other sources have referred to her as the goddess of light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity, and courage. She is often represented as a “beautiful woman of golden complexion, with four hands, sitting or standing on a full-bloomed lotus and holding a lotus bud, which stands for beauty, purity and fertility. Her four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma or righteousness, “kama” or desires, “artha” or wealth, and “moksha” or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.”

What does wealth mean to you?

It seems to me that through wisdom, generosity, and courage one cultivates wealth of all kinds. If one has these three things then they have a great sense of spiritual wealth – the sense of selflessness. If one has the courage to step out of their ego’s, letting their heart, wisdom and generosity lead the way (compassion), then they have achieved a level of spirituality that most cannot say they have. To me, this is the greatest wealth one can accumulate – a wealth of love.

Lakshmi is the counterpart to Vishnu. Vishnu is the masculine energy (shiva) while Lakshmi is the feminine energy (shakti). The Vishnu Sahasranama describes “Vishnu as the all-pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, preserves, sustains and governs the universe and originates and develops all elements within.”

This relationship of Shiva and Shakti exists in all things, in every one of us. It is like the interplay of yin and yang, or inyo in Japanese. Most often we sit with the part of ourselves that is most similar to Vishnu, also known as the supreme soul or God. It is the part of us that creates the idea of ego, of individuality and separateness. Through moving to the other side of the room, shall we say, and sitting with Lakshmi every so often, we have the ability to tap into the compassion and one-ness that exists within all of us.

What does oneness mean to you, and why do you think it is important?

It is important to have both energies within us – the creating and destroying, as well as the balancing. To create something but leave it out of harmony with itself and everything else, we are only asking for chaos. Only through balance is it possible to exist in peace and wealth with everyone and everything. What is wealth if it cannot be shared? If there is no one to share it with?

To the ancients, the balance is found through the feminine aspect, the Lakshmi or Shakti power that exists in all of us and in all of the universe. The keeper of the home and the mother to all beings is who is always there for others, and themselves, when they fall, and always keeps things in order. What are some ways we can embody this in our own lives?

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Tantra: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Ch 1


Good morning, I wanted to share with you folks today a podcast that I feel is a very good overview of the four noble truths and the other teachings of the Buddha. And! It’s under an hour long. It’s a Zencast episode, talk given by Andrea Fella.

Also, I believe I did not yet upload the notes from Tuesday’s chat. We’ve started going over Patanajali’s Yoga Sutra. We made it part way through the first chapter, but I’ll give you the notes I have for the whole chapter. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments! If you’d like to join us next week you can, just click here for the SLURL. We meet every Tuesday at 7pmSLT.

I will be hosting a special event this Saturday at 11amSLT on Dogen’s Mountains and Waters Sutra. If you’d like to read it ahead of time, which I do suggest as it’s a pretty heavy text, you can click here. Many other translations are available on the web as well. Join my group “Creativity; Karma” or my Google+ Community to keep up to date on events.

Tantra: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Welcome to Perfect Paradise! I’m so honoured to have you all here with me today.

I’ve decided to host this as we do yoga postures because I’ve found it helpful on my journey. If you would prefer to sit please feel free to let me know and I can rezz some pillows for you. If you are chosing to do yoga with me you can feel the poses as they manifest in your RL body while we discuss. Allow the energy of the water and the full sky above us to fill you up, and give back to the earth below what you don’t need.

Let us open with a brief mindfulness exercise…please take a moment to make yourself comfortable, drink some water, and stop any and all distractions you are able to.

Once you’re comfortable, preferably sitting, with your head, neck and truck straight, eyes open or closed, whatever is more comfortable, become aware of your body where it comes in contact with the earth…

Notice how the earth is providing continual support…

Notice what it feels like to be supported…

Now become aware of the sensation of weight…

Notice what it feels like to be an object of gravity…

Feel the sensation of weight in different parts of your body – from your head, to your shoulders, to your chest, trunk, hips, legs and feet…

Avoid using thoughts, rely instead on physical sensation, and really examine what weight and gravity feel like.

Please find yourself coming back into the discussion with ease, take a drink of water or tea if you feel the need, and we can get started in just a moment. If you’d care to share, please tell us how was your experience?

1.1 Now is when yoga begins.

Some translations take sutra 1.1 to be an explanation of the text. In my experience, however, the first sutra of any text is the most important description of the meaning of the entire text. This, to me shows that yoga practice is accessible in every moment, in every “now”. Some other translations are: “Now, instruction in Union.” and, “thus, with certainty, we delve into the definitive explication of yoga.” So, thus we go.

We won’t be able to go through the entire Yoga Sutra, since there are 196 sutra’s in four chapters, but we will have a brief overview today. You can find many translations online free of charge. A concise overview (and fairly accessible translation) can be found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/yogasutr.htm for further reading.

I got the photo’s on the board behind me from this outstanding website: http://atma.mobi/category/ch-1-sutras-1-1-1-51/

1.2 Yoga is the control of the (moral) character of thought; the re-channeling of the impressions and habits of the mind and the control of the fluctuations of consciousness.

In other words, yoga aims to reflect the true nature of the person. Persons, in Patanjali’s view, are intrinsically pure, benign moral beings. You may be familiar with the moral code, more frequently known as the eight limbs of yoga. We will explore this a little later, but they first appeared in these Yoga Sutra’s as well.

Patanjali holds a dualistic view that distinguishes persons from the natural world, but this view should be distinguished from the dualisms prominent in the western world where the mind (soul) is regarded as the essential feature of persons. For Indian dualists such as Patanjali the mind is typically seen as a feature of the natural world, dependent on the conditions of the elements.

1.3 Then, the seer can abide in its essence; dwell in their own nature.

Upon realizing union, the seer can be free of the creations of the mind; free of the misconceptions that lead us to wrong-doing and immoral action. We can find our original state.

1.5 There are five characters of thought, or mental habits – some afflicted, degrading, others not afflicted, uplifting.

Sutras 1.6-1.11 deal directly with describing these epistemic states.

1.6 These five states are: knowledge, illusion, verbal delusion, sleep and memory. In other words,

be aware of what is actually in front of you,
mistake what is in front of you,
imagine or fantasize something,
be unconscious, or
remember something.

1.7 We attain knowledge through (empirical) perception, inference (logic) and the scriptural traditions (ie. a reliable source).

1.8 Illusion is the improper comprehension (of real objects) not based on their true forms.

In other words, you are trusting your senses, which could be (and probably are) flawed. Perceptual error always contains a grain of truth in it, because Patanjali sees illusion not just on pure imagination but but a misperception of real objects.

1.9 Verbal delusion arises when words do not track (real) objects.

All of language is a metaphor. You can say with certainty, “That is a couch.” But, it could be used as a bed, or a table if you were sitting on the floor, and if you take it apart all of the things that make it up are not couches in and of themselves, they are bolts and screws, planks, wood, material, padding, etc. And even that doesn’t give you the true essence of what those things are. Any time we use language we are put our own perceptions and understanding behind it, and the person we are communicating with may not have the same perception or understanding, therefore making the communication delusional.

1.10 Deep sleep is the morally evaluatable character of mentality conditioned by the relationship between the awareness of nothing and nothingness; it is the mental habit characterized by the absence of form.

Sleep is a positive state of experience, note, this is not necessarily referring to dreams. In the practice of yoga nidra, for example, we give our minds something to focus on, such as embodiment or following a sound or guided imagery in order to maintain the mind. These objects of focus are not real object as they exist only in our minds, and therefore are nothing, empty, and inconsequential and meaningless to existence. This suggests that the mind can’t function without being “turned off” regularly.

1.11 Memory is the prevention of loss of experienced content; sensory experiences.

Samskaras, or the imprints left on the mind from past experiences make up our karma, and are barely distinguishable from memories, except that they exist unconsciously most often, where we may not remember them. It is said that we actively hold on to these by participating in the continuous cyclic existence of suffering. Through yoga, we can relinquish these impressions. This implies that, by putting effort into defining ourselves through past experiences, we can also let go of these experiences and redefine ourselves. This can be accomplished over time with many different practices, namely nonattachment.

☯☯☯☯☯☯☯

1.16 Greater than detachment from the material world is to lose all interest in the very fabric of our reality. This comes from experiencing the nature of Consciousness (soul).

Here we are transcending the qualities of nature and directly perceiving the soul. This practice takes a very long time to achieve. Essentially this is achieving bliss.

Sutras 1.23-1.29 deal with attaining union, or success in yoga, through meditation on the Lord. It mention chanting Om, the primordial seed syllable. In doing this you can reach the knowledge of consciousness, intelligence and volition, and also nullify the impediments to that knowledge.

1.30 Illness, apathy, doubt, negligence, sloth, non restraint, delusion, perspectivism, failing to be grounded (flightiness/hyperactivity), and inconsistency, scatter the mind and constitute an impediment to yoga; act as barriers to stillness.

These are the obstacles to practicing yoga.

1.31 Accompanying these distractions are discomfort, depression, trembling of the body, and disturbed inhalation and exhalation.

Interestingly, these are all signs of poor health. It also mentions breathing, or pranayama. If you’ve been to my other discussions you’ll be familiar with a few pranayama practices.

1.33 Consciousness settles as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful, good or bad.

In order to overcome these disturbances one can practice compassion and equanimity…beautiful words of wisdom. In Buddhism these four practices are called brahmavihara, or the “divine state”. Rather than the yogi transcending right and wrong, they are to view them with equanimity. In other words, you can’t look down at someone who is unsuccessful in yoga, but great them with compassion. Every situation, good or bad, that we are in is an opportunity to practice yoga, and we should be thankful for this.

In order to do this successfully we need to rid ourselves of negative reactions and worrying over problems. Patanajali lists the ways of doing this as practicing pranayama, meditation (“binding the mind into stillness to observe the contents of the mind as they arise”), non attachment, awareness, embodiment, insights culled from sleep and dreaming, and oneness.

That is all I have for tonight. Thank you all so much for coming and sharing your energy with us today! It truly was a pleasure. Namaste, hugs! I now open the floor to casual conversation.

Tantra: The Subtle Realities


Tantra: Subtle Realities October 8 2013

Welcome to Perfect Paradise! I’m so honored to have you all here with me today.

I’ve decided to host this as we do yoga postures because I’ve found it helpful on my journey. If you would prefer to sit please feel free to let me know and I can rezz some pillows for you. If you are choosing to do yoga with me you can feel the poses as they manifest in your RL body while we discuss. Allow the energy of the water and the full sky above us to fill you up, and give back to the earth below what you don’t need.

Before we get started I invite you to take a few deep breaths with me. Let go of the day, join me in the present moment. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let it out with a sigh. Repeat this until you are feeling relaxed…I’ll give you a few moments…Let me know when you are ready and we will start.

**

Tantra: The Subtle Realities

“Because every embodied individual is composed of a body, a mind and a spirit, the ancient Rishis of India who developed the Science of Life organized their wisdom into three bodies of knowledge: Ayurveda, which deals mainly with the physical body; Yoga, which deals mainly with spirit; and Tantra, which is mainly concerned with the mind. The philosophy of all three is identical; their manifestations differ because of their differing emphases.” Robert Svoboda Motilal Banarsidass

The human experience is more than just the physical body. Between the material universe and the ultimate Reality are the multiple layers of subtle (sukshumna) existence.

These other realms of existence are considered in the Vedas to be the home of deities, ancestral spirits, and other entities, including various kinds of demonic beings (elementals).

All beings participate in these other realms, although we are rarely aware of it. In fact, our existence is active in these realms simultaneously as it is in the physical realm. In this sense, these realms are called sheaths, or kosha. These kosha’s are said in some schools to conceal the ultimate Reality, although in hatha yoga they experience them as a natural extension of the human body.

The Taittiriya-Upanishad names them as follows:

1. Anna-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of food,” is our familiar physical body, by which we navigate in the material world.
2. Prana-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of life force,” is the energy field associated with and sustaining the physical body. It is the connecting link between the physical body and the mind.
3. Mano-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of the mind,” refers to the mind in its lower function as a processor of sensory input. Manas (thinking-mind) is driven by doubt and volition (or desire) and vacillates between externalizing our consciousness and with-drawing it into the realm of imagination. This aspect of the mind is governed mainly by the factors of inertia (tamas) and dynamism (rajas).
4. Vijnana-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of intelligence,” refers to the mind in its higher function as an organ of discernment between what is real and unreal, that is, as the seat of wisdom. Where the lower mind causes doubt and uncertainty, the higher mind (often called buddhi) also brings certainty and faith, as well as a sense of stillness, because the lucidity factor (sattva-guna) is predominant in it.
5. Ananda-maya-kosha, or “sheath composed of bliss,” is equated in the Taittiriya-Upanishad with the transcendental Self (atman) itself, though subsequent Vedanta schools consider it to be the final veil surrounding the ultimate Reality, or Self. In any case, ananda (bliss) must not be mistaken for an emotional state, which is hierarchically higher than intellection or intelligence (vijnana). Emotions belong to the anna-maya- and prana-maya-koshas.

**

Within the subtle bodies is a subtle network of energy, which flows through the nadi’s (ie. meridians in TCM, or energy channels much like blood vessels but on an energetic level).

“This energy, called Prana in Sanskrit (Qi in Chinese), exists in many forms from the extremely gross to the infinitely subtle and life is an interplay of these energies. Metaphorically a cosmic dance of Shiva and Shakti, Yin and Yang, the Sun and the Moon. Within the human body these energies flow along a network of channels or lines (nadis or meridians).

Health in eastern philosophies is regarded as a state of balance between these energies, where all the systems of the body, including mind and spirit, function in harmony with each other. And disease (dis-ease) is seen as imbalance or disharmony in this flow of energies. But beyond feeling good physically an enlightened definition of health encompasses feelings of vitality, strength, inner peace and joy.” -http://www.adishakti.org/subtle_system/nadis.htm

nadis, the vast network of energy channels that makes each individual an integrated, conscious, and vital whole. The Sanskrit word nadi derives from the root nad, which means “flow,” “motion,” or “vibration.” Very similar to the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the sen lines of Thai Massage.

The nadis are our energetic irrigation system; in essence, they keep us alive. According to many Tantric texts, the human body contains 72,000 nadis that channel prana (energy) to every cell, each nadi having a specific function and energy that it deals with (although other sources vary, some in the millions!). When this system flows freely, we are vital and healthy; when it becomes weak or congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health.

Three nadis are of particular interest to yogis. The sushumna (most gracious) nadi is the body’s great river, running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, passing through each of the seven chakras in its course. It is the channel through which kundalini shakti (the latent serpent power) —and the higher spiritual consciousness it can fuel—rises up from its origin at the muladhara (root) chakra to its true home at the sahasrara (thousandfold/crown) chakra at the crown of the head. In subtle body terms, the sushumna nadi is the path to enlightenment.

The ida (comfort) and pingala (tawny) nadis spiral around the sushumna nadi like the double helix of our DNA, crossing each other at every chakra. If you visualize the caduceus, the symbol of modern medicine, you’ll get a rough idea of the relationships among the ida, pingala, and sushumna nadis. Eventually, all three meet at the ajna (third eye) chakra, midway between the eyebrows.

The ida nadi begins and ends on the left side of sushumna. Ida is regarded as the lunar nadi, cool and nurturing by nature, and is said to control all mental processes and the more feminine aspects of our personality. The color white is used to represent the subtle vibrational quality of ida.

Pingala, the solar nadi, begins and ends to the right of sushumna. It is warm and stimulating by nature, controls all vital somatic processes, and oversees the more masculine aspects of our personality. The vibrational quality of pingala is represented by the color red.

The interaction between ida and pingala corresponds to the internal dance between intuition and rationality, consciousness and vital power, and the right and left brain hemispheres. In everyday life, one of these nadis is always dominant. Although this dominance alternates throughout the day, one nadi tends to be ascendant more often and for longer periods than the other. This results in personality, behavior, and health tendencies that can be called ida-like or pingala-like.

Bringing ida and pingala into equilibrium is a major focus of hatha yoga (tantra)—so important, in fact, that the term hatha symbolizes this balance. Although the word hatha literally means “forceful” in Sanskrit, it is composed of ha and tha, two esoteric bija (seed) mantras that have arcane meaning and power. Ha represents the solar qualities, the vital force, of pingala; tha represents the mind and the lunar qualities of ida.

All the Nadis spring from the Kanda, the junction where the Sushumna Nadi is connected with the Muladhara Chakra. This Kanda is thought to be about 12 inches above the anus. Out of the innumerable Nadis, 14 are said to be most important. They are Sushumna, Ida, Pingala, Gandhari, Hastajihva, Kuhu, Saraswati, Pusha, Sankhini, Payasvini, Varuni, Alambusha, vishvodhara, and Yasasvini.

**

At the main points where nadi’s intersect are chakras.

In many styles of yoga and many practices of Ayurveda, the Chakra’s have great importance. There are said to be seven Chakra’s in the human body. They form a line up the spine, some say in the center of the body, others think these centers are “attached” to the spine. A chakra is a center of energy, the literal translation being “wheel” or, less commonly, “vortex.” The English terms for the chakras, starting from the bottom, are: root chakra (Muladhara), sacral chakra (Svadishthana), solar plexus chakra (Manipura), heart chakra (Anahata), throat chakra (Visuddha), third eye chakra (Ajna), and crown chakra (Sahasrara). As in most Eastern medicine systems, the goal is to have the energies in the chakra’s balanced in order to have the best possible mind/body relationship and health.

**

Pema Chodron says, “May we all learn that pain is not the end of the journey, and neither is delight. We can hold them both – indeed hold it all – at the same time…” What I take from this quote is that, among other things, within these layers of existence we can live outside of the boundaries of physical existence, therefore overcoming suffering. In the physical and mental bodies we live in this kind of see-saw with depression on one side and elation on the other. In the centre, when it is balanced, is calmness, or bliss. By taping into these other subtle realities, we can see the situation for what it really is, therefore not becoming depressed or elated by it.

By becoming aware of all five subtle bodies, we are able to undo the vehicle of karma, which lives in the causal body. It is said that this body enables continuity not only from life to life but even from one cosmic creation to another. The subtle bodies do not fall away when death occurs, but continue on to the next life, until full liberation when the individual drops all bodies and is present purely as the transcendental Reality.

When we experience life only from the senses of the physical body we see ourselves as separate from others. But when we can learn to experience life with awareness from all subtle bodies we can continuously see the connection between ourselves and all other beings, thereby making compassion more accessible.

It is shown in modern science that all beings are made of the same things – particles. When we test for properties of a particle, we see a particle, but when we test for properties of a wave, we see a wave. We can hardly say we understand the nature of things, but what we can grasp from this is that our bodies, despite us experiencing them as solid entities with definable boundaries, are always changing. If particles also behave as waves then we can safely say that our bodies are not defined by a finite boundary, but in fact must extend out past the physical “edge”. We also know that our bodies function off electricity and also emit it in waves. They also say that it can now be monitored that our heart beats and thought patterns coincide with those we are physically close to if we are positively relating.

So, next time you’re holding a loved one or having a conversation with a friend bring your awareness into your subtle bodies and see if you can feel their energy mingling with yours. You can also work with this experience in meditation by starting with embodiment – asking yourself “where is my body right now?” and feeling the floor beneath your feet, the air on your skin, your blood pulsing throughout your veins. Once you can feel that – be patient, it may take some practice – you can start to send your awareness out a bit, feeling the air around you, listening to any sounds and seeing how far away you can still notice things. Eventually you may be able to release the idea of having a solid body. In my own experience I’ve been able, through meditation, to stop feeling as though there was a boundary to my body and start feeling the whole world as one continuous experience. You may have a completely different experience. Play with your awareness as much as you are comfortable. You never know what other experiences are out there until you open yourself to them. Only do what is comfortable for you.

Let’s do a tantric practice to align the nadi’s, branching from kundalini yoga.

To practice Nadi Shodhana, the main practice of balancing the nadis, sit in a comfortable meditative position. Make a fist with your right hand, then partially re-extend your ring and little fingers. Lightly place the pad of the thumb on your nose just to the right and below the bridge; lightly place the pads of your ring and little fingers on the corresponding flesh on the left side of your nose. Gently pressing with the ring and little fingers to close the left nostril, exhale fully through the right. Then inhale fully through the right, close it with the thumb, release the left nostril, and exhale through it. Inhale through the left nostril, close it with the fingers, release the right nostril, and exhale through it. This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana.

I’ll leave you with a quote…

“…each one of us is a union of all universal energy. Everything that we need in order to be complete is within us right at this very moment. It is simply a matter of being able to recognize it. This is the tantric approach.” Lama Thubten Yeshe

Thank you all so much for coming and sharing your energy with us today! It truly was a pleasure. Namaste, hugs!

Introduction to Tantra Notes


Below are the notes I shared at the introduction to tantra discussion on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

Intro to Tantra October 1, 2013

Welcome to Perfect Paradise! I’m so honoured to have you all here with me today.

I’ve decided to host this as we do yoga postures because I’ve found it helpful on my journey. If you would prefer to sit please feel free to let me know and I can rezz some pillows for you. If you are chosing to do yoga with me you can feel the poses as they manifest in your RL body while we discuss. Allow the energy of the water and the full sky above us to fill you up, and give back to the earth below what you don’t need.

Before we get started I invite you to take a few deep breaths with me. Let go of the day, join me in the present moment. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let it out with a sigh. Repeat this until you are feeling relaxed…I’ll give you a few moments…Let me know when you are ready and we will start.

Let’s start with asking – what does “tantra” mean to you?

Tantric yoga is a path of union – yoking – between the one and the many. It is the path to liberation of the “self” – the entity that the ego insists is individual, but is merely a piece of the macrocosmic world. The term “tantra” means liberation through expansion. We can understand through this definition that the practice explores all energies and their application associated with human existence and human environment.

Everything that exists in the macrocosmic universe also exists within us, and vice versa. We are reflections of the ultimate Reality according to Tantric thought.

Tantra worships the divine dance of Shiva and Shakti, which we can safely relate to yin and yang in Chinese medicine. It must be noted that these are not two separate beings, but two poles of One Being (you may know this being as Brahma – the infinite Supreme Conscious Being). The breakdown works a bit differently, though, with Parama-shiva as the umbrella of ultimate reality. This is characterized by sac-cit-ananda, or Being (sat), Consciousness (cit), and Bliss (ananda).

David Bohm described reality as movement that occurs as “a series of interpenetrating and intermingling elements in different degrees of enfoldment all present together.” This accurately describes the tantric world-view, which only adds that this dynamic Being is conscious.

Tantric practitioners believe that all of us have this Consciousness within us. They believe it is located within the heart, the heart meaning here: “that which I truly am.” “[The heart] is not the body or the mind,” says Georg Feuerstein, “but pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss.” Remember here, that these terms don’t mean what they mean in ordinary western context, as in the ultimate being there is no differentiation between subject and object.

Shiva, is the aspect of the ultimate reality that is consciousness. It is pure subject rather than object; the notion of “I,” without a sense of “I am.” You may be familiar with the mantra for this aspect, located in the heart, “aham.” This sound means “I.” Shiva is often interpreted as the masculine aspect.

Shakti, is the second aspect of the ultimate Reality which is creativity or energy. Shakti coexists with Shiva to create the universe. Shakti is considered to be the Bliss aspect of the ultimate Reality. Shakti is often interpreted as the feminine aspect.

We can view the union of Shiva and Shakti much like we do yin and yang: as a seemless continuity of Consciousness and Power within one and the same Reality. One cannot exist without the other, one exists within the other, and one manifests the other. This union is often viewed in the west as a sexual union between a couple, but we must keep in mind that this union is transcendental and therefore also asexual.

Shakti plays the active role, whereas Shiva plays the passive role. He manifests the absolute stillness of consciousness, and she expresses the unlimited potency of Power or Energy. “Together they symbolize the play of life and death, creation and annihilation, emptiness and form, dynamism and stasis. This interplay is found on all levels of cosmic existence because … it preexists the ultimate Reality itself.”

Shiva and Shakti are in a constant dance, which you will see in many forms of art depicting the two. In reality this is depicting the motion of the universe – the constant interplay of matter of spirit. This interplay is what we know as the bliss of creation.

Where us westerners get confused is in the idea of love – the act of loving – is one way of allowing us to experience a fraction of this universal bliss. The goal of Tantric practitioners is to unite Shiva and Shakti within us in order to live in bliss. Neotantra is the tantra that has come to the west and it has changed significantly since the traditional lineages. In Neotrantra sex is thought to be a ritual and should be recognized as a sacred act capable of elevating its participants to a higher spiritual plane. Authentic or traditional Tantra sexualised ritual, so rather than the ritual being only sex, sex was merely a small part of the ritual. Neither of these are necessarily right or wrong, but are merely different paths of the same tradition.

Many practices that you are likely familiar with also come from tantric origin – chakras, koshas or spiritual realms, hatha yoga, chanting, Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, amongst many more.

In Tantric beliefs, it is thought that the power of all Gods and Goddesses exists within each of us. By awakening our awareness, through such practices as mentioned above, we can stir the Kundalini energy of the serpent, therefore uniting the two aspects of stillness (Shiva) and manifestation (Shakti). This is also known as enlightenment – realizing that there is no difference between zero, one, and many.

The basic idea of tantra is to have awareness in everything you do – a kind of union between subject and object. This can be viewed as simple embodiment, ie. can you feel the keys beneath your fingers? Can you feel the seat you are sitting on? Can you feel the floor beneath your feet? What does the air feel like on your skin? Literally, feeling each breath. In this same way, through every action we can access tantra (union).

Thank you for your participation today! I open the floor…Namaste!

Chrae’s Fall Updates


“Tantra is the hot blood of spiritual practice. It smashes the taboo against unreasonable happiness; a thunderbolt path, swift, joyful, and fierce. There is no authentic Tantra without profound commitment, discipline, courage, and a sense of wild, foolhardy, fearless abandon.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Greetings everyone! So good to see you again. Hope you’ve been well!

Last spring I released a note about the change of title of these events. In that I included the following notes…Your reality will consist of what you bring into it:

Many people think of karma as fate, or determinism. But, really, karma is creative. It is unbounded. The common interpretation is when someone has something bad happen to them, we call it “bad karma.” But this interpretation of karma is misunderstood. We typically see karma as an uncontrollable factor in our lives. But, the literal translation of karma is “action” – human action. It does not control us. In fact, we control it. When we utilize action (even non-action is a form of action), we are influencing karma. When we are compassionate and friendly to others it’s because we want the same treatment in return. The reason to be compassionate should not be in anticipation of receiving it in return, but because it’s the right thing to do. Invite into your life what you want to share with others; we are all connected. If any one of us suffers, all the rest of us suffer. Everything you create in your life, every intention, thought, and action, will shape the rest of your creations. In every moment there is rebirth, in every moment there is death. We are always changing. But we are in control of that change. We can be whatever it is we want to be. Be creative with the way you live your life. Be aware of every moment, every thought. Be the witness, but also be the creator. So, the group is called “Creativity; Karma” because I want us to have a forum where we can explore ourselves, our ideas and our beliefs freely and openly, so we can expand our idea of what we want to bring into our lives, and share with others our thoughts without being put down. Since I believe that there is no such thing as teaching, we will experience mutual learning. I learn just as much from each of you as I may share with you. Let’s share some creative karma!

For now I’ll only be doing one event a week, but this is bound to change. I’m hoping to do the Chinese medicine discussions at Peaceful Dragon later in the year. Keep your eyes open for any changes!

All events start October 1, 2013.

~~~

☯Creativity, Tuesdays 7pmSLT
Perfect Paradise

This is a new discussion on Eastern concepts, topic likely to change every few weeks. We’ll start with a bit of yoga while we discuss the ideas of Tantra. Join me to stir the Kundalini (Shakti) energy!

~~~

All intro notes will be posted to the blog for further discussion:
https://chraeloos.wordpress.com/

Google+ group: https://plus.google.com/communities/116481394403768407840

Calendar:
https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=chraeloos%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Vancouver

Love to everyone! Namaste, Om Shanti, Sat nam! ☯
❤Chrae

Eastern Perspectives on Compassion


Isis Pleiades has honored me with inviting me to host at the official launch of Spirit Park! So, at 10am SLT on Saturday Sep 21 I will be hosting a meditation followed by some discussion, in humble consideration of the International Weekend of Peace. Please join us to share in an exploration of the energy within ourselves and how we can transform it into compassion for all living beings.

I’m so thrilled to be back in SL and connecting with you all!

The entire weekend is full of events at this same location. The lineup is as follow:

Saturday Sept 21

6:45 am – Opening address form Isis Pleides
7 am – Rtada hosts Vedic chanting
8 am – Andre Farstrider hosts Starseed Connections
9 am – Kana Koray hosts New Hero Journey
10 am – Chraeloos hosts Perspectives on Chinese Medicine
11 am – Lyle and Sedona host Reincarnation and Immortality of the Soul
12 Noon – Elizabeth hosts The Oz Experience
1 pm to 8 pm – Live Music!
8 pm – Rtada hosts Vedic Chanting

Sunday Sept 22

7 am – Rtada hosts Vedic Chanting
8 am – Divali hosts I Ching Revelations
9 am – Andre Farstrider hosts Pleiadian Discussions
10:30 am – Regis Roubodoo hosts Inner Harmony
12 pm – The Companions Tea Ceremony/Tour
1-9 pm – Live Music
9 pm – Rtada hosts Vedic Chanting

I do hope to see you there! Namaste _/\_

**

International Day of Peace Guided Meditation and Presentation
at Spirit Gate, 10-11am SLT Saturday Sept 21 2013

Welcome everyone to Spirit Park at Nirvana Island. Thank you all for coming to share and take part in our celebration of peace, love and harmony. Thank you to Isis who invited me to host this discussion today. I’m so happy to be here!

On this day of International Peace I present the following practices to you so that we may see that each and every one of us is connected. If one of us suffers, all of us suffer. If we show compassion to all living beings as much as we can, if we feel that we are even slightly responsible for the well-being of others, and that our actions affect everyone else, we would live in a much more peaceful world. Only through love can we achieve world peace. And by love I don’t mean the type of love where you can’t stand to be apart or are reliant on the other person for your happiness, but the kind of love that is unconditional and accepting regardless of the situation. If we can all open our minds and bodies to the feeling of pure love and pure energy and send that love out to all who need it, remembering to nurture ourselves at the same time, we can achieve true happiness and true peace.

In Buddhist practice, we commit to three things:
1. Not causing harm
2. Taking care of one another, and
3. Embracing the world just as it is

Pema Chodron says, “May we all learn that pain is not the end of the journey, and neither is delight. We can hold them both – indeed hold it all – at the same time…”

With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to a practice called Tonglen. The idea is to breathe in pain, and breathe out relief. For this short meditation I will go into voice. I will also post the instructions here for those who do not have access to voice.

If you could get comfortable, whether sitting, standing, or laying. Regardless of what position you are in please make sure that your spine is aligned, so if you were sitting your tailbone would be drawn towards the front slightly, straightening your lower back, and your shoulders would be dropped out of your ears and resting in a line above your hips. Pull your chin in slightly, bowing it to your chest to make the back of your neck straight. Place your hands where they fall comfortably.

Now, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Let the sounds of the world surround you; listen to the birds, the air, the children playing outside. Notice your breathing getting calmer, deeper, and steadier. On your next breath in, try to feel it fill up your entire abdomen. Hold it for a moment. Let it out. Repeat… Take a deep breath in. Feel it fill up your entire abdomen. Hold it for a moment. Let it out. Try to see if you can make your in breath the same length as your out breath.

Now, following this in and out pattern, bring your attention to how you feel. If there is any sadness, anger, pain, or other strong feeling, don’t judge it. Instead of labelling it, just notice it. What does it feel like? Where do you feel it manifesting? Play with it a bit. Does the feeling move? …

Now, bring your mind to something that makes you very happy: a loved one, the beautiful Harvest Moon, the sound of the ocean. Whatever it may be, let the feeling of joy and love fill you up. Let it wash over the fear or pain. …

Let us together breathe in the fear and pain and sadness that we feel. When we breathe out, send the joy and love out to the world. At first, send it to someone close to you. Then try sending it to an acquaintance. Imagine this joy and love going out to all the people you know. Then imagine it going out to everyone sitting in this room. If you can, slowly spread it out every living creature. …

With every in breath we can pull in all the pain and sadness that we feel and with every out breath we can turn it into productive, compassionate energy. I’ll leave you in silence to practice this for a few minutes. …

Slowly bring your attention back to your body. When you’re ready, deepen your breath, wiggle your fingers and toes. If you’d I suggest drinking some water to help ground you.

~~

Norman Fischer talks about us all “swimming in an ocean of compassion.” He goes on to say that everything is compassion. If we can see that everything exists in this ocean of compassion, we can be free of suffering. The practice we just did is a good way to open ourselves to this ocean of compassion.

Tantric yoga is a path of union – yoking – between the one and the many. It is the path to liberation of the “self” – the entity that the ego insists is individual, but is merely a piece of the macrocosmic world. Where would we be without each other?

Tantra worships the divine dance of Shiva and Shakti, which we can safely relate to yin and yang in Chinese medicine. The breakdown works a bit differently, though, with Parama-shiva as the umbrella of ultimate reality. This is characterized by sac-cit-ananda, or Being (sat), Consciousness (cit), and Bliss (ananda).

David Bohm described reality as movement that occurs as “a series of interpenetrating and intermingling elements in different degrees of enfoldment all present together.” This accurately describes the tantric world-view, which only adds that this dynamic Being is conscious.

Tantric practitioners believe that all of us have this Consciousness within us. They believe it is located within the heart, the heart meaning here: “that which I truly am.” “[The heart] is not the body or the mind,” says Georg Feuerstein, “but pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss.” Remember here, that these terms don’t mean what they mean in ordinary western context, as in the ultimate being there is no differentiation between subject and object.

Shiva, is the aspect of the ultimate reality that is consciousness. It is pure subject rather than object; the notion of “I,” without a sense of “I am.” You may be familiar with the mantra for this aspect, located in the heart, “aham.” This sound means “I.” Shiva is often interpreted as the masculine aspect.

Shakti, is the second aspect of the ultimate Reality. It is creativity, energy. Shakti coexists with Shiva to create the universe. Shakti is considered to be the Bliss aspect of the ultimate Reality. Shakti is often interpreted as the feminine aspect.

We can view the union of Shiva and Shakti much like we do yin and yang: as a seemless continuity of Consciousness and Power within one and the same Reality. One cannot exist without the other, one exists within the other, and one manifests the other. This union is often viewed in the west as a sexual union between a couple, but we must keep in mind that this union is transcendental and therefore also asexual.

Shakti plays the active role, whereas Shiva plays the passive role. He manifests the absolute stillness of consciousness, and she expresses the unlimited potency of Power or Energy. “Together they symbolize the play of life and death, creation and annihilation, emptiness and form, dynamism and stasis. This interplay is found on all levels of cosmic existence because … it preexists the ultimate Reality itself.”

One of the first concepts that Eastern practitioners focus on is nonattachment. The Kula-Arnava-Tantra, an ancient Tantric text, reads: “nonattachment (nihsangha) alone is the means if liberation. All defects spring from attachment. Therefore one becomes happy by abandoning attachment and relying on Reality.”

Reality is seen as a continuous process in which everything is constantly in flux. This is mirrored in modern physics: “[current models show] that the properties of a particle can only be understood in terms of its activity – of its interaction with the surrounding environment – and that the particle, therefore, cannot be seen as an isolated entity, but has to be understood as an integrated part of the whole. … The fact that the mass of a particle is equivalent to a certain amount of energy means that the particle can no longer be seen as a static object, but has to be conceived as a dynamic pattern, a process involving the energy which manifests itself as the particle’s mass.”

Here we can see that everything, on both macro- and micro-cosmic levels, is continuously flowing and changing. By teaching nonattachment we learn that change is inevitable, and that only by letting go of our preconceptions and expectations will Reality reveal itself and all the Bliss that it contains.

Georg Feuerstein, in his book, “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy” gives a typical path of the tantric practitioner, which you may be familiar with if you know of Patanjali:

1. Yama – moral restraint consisting of non-harming, truthfulness, chastity, and greedlessness, which are said to be valid on all levels, at all times, and everywhere.

2. Niyama – self-restraint through purity, contentment, austerity, study, and devotion to The Lord.

3. Asana – posture, which makes the practitioner immune against the onslaught from the pairs of opposites (dvandva), such as heat and cold or dry and moist.

4. Pranayama – lit. “Extension of the life energy” by means of breath control.

5. Pratyahara – sensory inhibition

6. Dharana – concentration, or fixing ones attention upon a selected object, be it a mantra or the graphic representation of a deity

7. Dhyana – meditation, which is a deepening of concentration marked by a progressive unification of consciousness

8. Samadhi – lit. “Putting together,” or ecstasy, which consists in ones complete merging with the object of meditation

The Sharada-Tilaka-Tantra adds five practices to the moral restraint category: compassion, rectitude, patience, stability, and moderate eating, and in place of greedlessness, cleanliness. Through all of these practices, the sages believe one can achieve self-transformation. In my own experience, through these practices and many more, one can achieve an understanding of our connectedness to each other. Through these practices we can move beyond our limited sense of the world – how we want it to be versus how it is – and find our true happiness. Once it’s been found, once Bliss or enlightenment has been reached, one can live in the ocean of compassion with all other beings, free of violence and hatred, free of shame or greed. Through compassion for others you will grow to love yourself, and through loving yourself you will be able to feel more compassion for others.

Just remember, the people that it is hardest to feel compassion for are the ones who likely need it the most. If someone is acting really rotten, just remind yourself that you don’t know what they are going through in life. Maybe your smile or small reassurance or understanding would turn their whole day around. Just knowing that someone cares, even a stranger, can be a very powerful thing.

You may hear me use the term Namaste quite often. This is an ancient term which means: my soul honours your soul. I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides. I horn the light, love, truth, beauty & peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.

I will leave you with one final quote:
“The opposite if consumption isn’t thrift, it’s generosity. ” – Raj Patel

Thank you for your time today! May all of you soak in the ocean of compassion, whatever path may lead you there! Much love and peace to you all. Namaste! _/|\_