The Fear of Dying and Meditation- A Case-Study

img_1923
Ganges in Varanasi

This past weekend I went to Portland to visit my friend Ron and his wife Sharon (not their real names). Ron is nearing his death in this life from lung cancer. Ron was a commercial airline pilot, an accomplished lifelong surfer, successful entrepreneur, yogi and so much more. And he is a great and treasured friend. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 6 years ago (not related to smoking) and has been fighting it heroically using every form of advanced medical and natural methods available. But it is not curable.

Ron had his own meditation practice for decades. And it provided him some degree of support over his life’s journey. But it was not of the depth of support and transformation that is provided by a deep and refined practice such as Neelakantha Meditation. I wanted Ron to have this practice to support him powerfully for the remaining span of his life. For I too have a diagnosis of cancer, while fortunately in remission, is not curable. And I have seen how my own meditation practice has actually freed me from the fear of death. And that is such a precious and liberating gift! Naturally, I wanted Ron, as well as his wife, to have the support of this powerfully supportive practice for themselves.

I was at my home in Cabo (Mexico) when Ron went into home hospice care. So I arranged with another teacher of Neelakantha meditation to meet with them for the formal initiatory instruction in this practice. (Many thanks to my fellow acharya Heather from Portland.) Their initiatory instruction took place over two sessions, just two months ago.

When I arrived for our visit this weekend it was clear that Ron’s cancer was taking its toll. He had lost much weight. Previously robust and muscular, he was now gaunt, sallow and frail of body. And yet, though his eyes were a bit sunken, they sparkled with energy. He spoke with a smile and humor and was 100% engaged. He appeared filled with life.

I asked him how he was doing: How was he feeling about his circumstances now and about his approaching death? And how was his new meditation practice supporting and working for him? Here is what he said:

“Paul, actually I feel totally happy, profoundly happy. I am filled with an abundance of overflowing gratitude that surges up almost all the time. I feel great love and peace and even joy. My life feels fulfilled and meaningful.” He said that when he looks at the span of his life and all that he has accomplished he sees that he has done everything that he has set out to do. He can see now clearly, how he has been supported in an extraordinary way throughout all of his life.”

And he has certainly not given up: Even now he is engaged in the process of selling his remaining businesses so that his beloved wife will not have to deal with that when he is gone. So he is, as ever, so very much alive.

I then asked him about his new Neelakantha Meditation practice. And also about any fears he may have surrounding his death. He said his meditation has been working wonderfully, giving him great repose, peace and upliftment every day. But that it was somewhat difficult for him to sit upright (because of pain); And also difficult to concentrate because of the strong pain medicines. I reassured him that he only needed to be as comfortable as possible for this practice – reclining with elevated head is fine. And this deep form of meditation does not actually require any concentration. As it is completely effortless to do and natural in its operation.

I was very happy, of course, to see how my friend was and that any fear of death was being dissolved. He said there were occasional moments of fearful thoughts – but these seemed to dissolve as fast as they would arise. That has been my own experience as well.

The ancient Indian text, The Yoga Sutras, teach that one of the great “afflictions” or “impediments” in human life (the kleśas) is “abhiniveśaḥ”, defined as “clinging to life” or the fear of dying. It is very interesting that this sutra (II.9) states that, “Even the wise ones are affected by the tendency of clinging to life.” That it is an inherent tendency in all humans. Well this certainly makes sense, because some fear of dying is part of our deep genetic instincts. It is something that helps to protect our lives, unto making wise and safe choices to preserve life.

And yet, the fear of death in the larger scope, vs. dying, is somehow different. When we regularly go into deep meditation, to access the source-place of our highest true being, we come to experience directly, beyond all doubt, that we are of an undying nature; that our Conscious-Self is something eternal, beyond the temporal limited circumstances of this embodied (and yes, wonderful) life. This cannot be conveyed in words. It can only be known in direct experience within. This is a gift of deep meditation: The liberating knowledge of our own true, highest and imperishable Self.

Blue Throat Yoga, the modern expression of deep authentic meditation, has authorized acharyas (teachers) such as my self to offer and teach this meditation practice to those who are at the end-stage of life for free. Those who are under hospice care may request and receive this beautiful supportive practice at no charge from participating acharyas. (Visit www.meditationbend.com or www.bluethroatyoga.com)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
El Arco at Land’s End  Cabo San Lucas

Vinyāsa

mail-attachment-10

Many of you are yogins (practitioners) that include asana (physical postures) as part of your circle of yogic practices. Some of you are amazing Yoga teachers as well. Namaste!

This morning I was thinking about the Sanskrit word: vinyāsa. It is often used in yoga classes to mean a practice that is a physical flow that connects the movements and postures to the flow of the breath. This is a beautiful and beneficial practice.

But it occurred to me that this word vinyāsa has a much larger meaning in the broadest perspective on yoga. It is a model for how we, as meditating practitioners, brings the coherence and orderly up-liftment into the larger sphere of our daily lives.

 vinyāsa – is a noun. Its meaning comes from the prefix “vi” – out, separated or away from, combined with “nyāsa” – meaning placing or establishing (Such as the tantric practice of “placing” mantras on bodily centers).

Here are some of the various Sanskrit dictionary definitions of vinyāsa:

“An arrangement; a configuration; putting-together; foundation; display; placing-down; exhibition; attitude; a receptacle or holder for placing something; establishment; spreading out; display; assemblage; connecting; movement; collection; order; or a composition.

I find this very interesting and inspiring. Like a carefully composed arrangement of beautiful flowers, we create the ordered arrangement and sequence of our days and how we move through our lives. This is yoga and this is the wonderful fruits, the outwardly expressions of our daily meditation practice. We move from the introversive, closed-eyed practice of deep Neelakantha meditation, which is so effortless and so powerfully uplifting. And from there it flows outward into the open-eyed yoga of our embodied lives, our creativity, our work and all our relationships.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Bryce Canyon Trail – Utah

The Refinement of Knowledge

mail-attachment-10

In the 8th century source text of Kahmir Shaivism, the Śhiva Sutras, it declares:

“dānam ātma-jñanam” “Knowledge of the Self is the gift.”   (III.28)

The highest and most complete knowledge of the very nature of life and of reality, the knowledge of our own Self, this is what is called realization. The self-authenticating knowledge born of the wholeness of our own direct inner perception is that which banishes all doubt, all partiality and erroneous perspectives. It is this refinement of our knowledge which sets us free.

The refinement of our knowledge, of our understanding of our own circumstances in life altogether, is informed by the transcendent non-conceptual knowledge, the “spiritual” knowledge, that is accessed so easily and directly via our daily Neelakantha meditation practice. Day by day in successive stages of higher understanding, we are refined and we rise.

This is a core teaching in non-dual Shaivism, as articulated by its greatest proponent, the 11th century Kashmir teacher Abhinavagupta in his masterwork, the Tantrāloka. (“Light on the Tantras”). In the very first chapter he writes:

“Here, in our system, we hold that ignorance is the cause of saṁsāric transmigration, (that is) within the relative worlds of embodied and bound existence. Moreover, we understand knowledge to be the one cause of liberation. This is what is proclaimed in all the treatises.”

So it is only our own limited knowledge that stands between us and liberation, What is called “enlightenment” is nothing other than attaining full knowledge of our always-already-present highest Self. That limitation in knowledge is what is called “bondage”. Its character is the perception of ourselves as limited imperfect and small (rather than whole and universal), as separate and defined by difference (rather than abiding in underlying unity) and of being separate “actors” in life (rather than as unique expressions within the unbroken totality of existence.)

Later in 5th Chapter, Abhinavagupta provides the argument for just how knowledge is the direct path to liberation:

“Indeed bondage consists of the habitual enactment of a persistent double false presumption that is persistently enacted in ordinary awareness:

First, we take what is not our True Self to be the authentic self. (the body, the mind, our roles in life and other partial identifications, etc.)

“Secondly, we persistently animate the opposite false habitual presumption: We fail to recognize that which actually is our true and authentic Self (perfectly full Consciousness) as being our true and abiding Self.

“Liberation consists of the dissolution and eradication of this double erroneous presumption. First there must occur the dissolution of the false and ignorant limited identifications. Only then can we proceed to release the blindness that prevents the full realization of the highest, imperishable and authentic Self.

“This is what is known as the Great Fusional Pervasion (mahā-viapti) and is how it is established.”

The sequence of these two processes being highlighted is important. Meditation dissolves progressively the false identifications arising from limitation, separation and arrogation that is the cause of all spiritual suffering. These forms of ignorance or limited knowledge are dissolved and seen to be false. Then we can be pervaded by the supreme and extraordinary direct knowledge of ultimacy, of the highest and universal Consciousness. This is the great span of our practices. And the knowledge of the Self is indeed the gift.

(If anyone would like to have direct personal instruction in Neelakantha Meditation please contact me. I am currently teaching in the Los Cabos area of Baja, Mexico.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Questions.

What are the most important questions in life? (And for some possible answers – see below.)

IMG_7928

I returned recently from a visit to Cuernavaca, near Mexico City. My friends there had invited me to come and give some teaching about meditation and how that daily practice can transform life and give access to true fulfillment.

This was in the very recent aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in that area. My first day with them was devoted to supporting their ongoing service to the people of Jojutla, a community that experienced some of the worst destruction and loss. It was a sobering day of reaching very deep into the well of compassion, again and again. The work of healing and rebuilding there continues every day.

IMG_7925

We also had a week of wonderful teaching and discussions. I met many new friends and was privileged to formally teach Neelakantha Meditation to over 30 individuals and some whole families. Now they are a group of dedicated meditators. My ongoing support of them to refine and perfect their practices continues as part of my commitment.

I received a question today from one lady about her new meditation practice. It is a very universal question so I shared my answer with the whole group, and now with you. (While keeping her identity private of course.)

Her question (edited) was: I been doing my meditations as you told us, twice a day for 20 minutes, but I still have doubts about the practice and exactly how it is working. I really don’t yet feel a strong assurance with how to meditate, and am not sure that I am practicing correctly? Thank you for your time.”

And my response was:

“Thank you for writing with your question. It is quite common and normal to have some doubts initially about the practice and whether you are doing it correctly.
That is because it is quite delicate in the beginning weeks. When I return there next time we will review the instructions together. It is so natural and effortless to practice in this way. (Remember that you also have support resources from Blue Throat Yoga included with your personal instruction.)
I can assure you that for 95% of persons who are unsure or have doubts, actually they have it and are practicing perfectly. It will progressively reveal its gifts in supporting your life. So you should trust it for now and we will recheck and confirm this when I return there for teaching in early 2018.
Doubts are good and normal to have. You should accept that your doubts must be taken into your meditation. For it is only there that the practice itself (or the Goddess of Consciousness as we often call it) will take your doubts and dissolve them into the certainty of your own knowingness. Take your doubts within and release them into your meditation. And before long you will likely be filled with the certainty of how your meditation is teaching you, sustaining your, uplifting you!

Sincere and caring regards,   – Paul”

This got me thinking about the topic: What are the most important questions in life? What is so fundamental that everything else, all forms of knowledge and understanding, pivot on the answers? (See also the previous post on the Mirror of the Mind.)

Johnny Depp said in the title role of the movie Don Juan de Marco: “There are only four questions of value in life: What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for? The answer to each of these is the same: Only love.”

The Buddha is said to have asked (Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness) “Is any value in life able to retain its meaning even in the face of our mortality? What has meaning that does not wither, even beyond death?”

For theoretical physicists, exploring the deepest nature of the physical universe, perhaps one ultimate question is: “Why is there something, and not nothing in the universe?”

And in biology, the science of life itself: “What is the essential nature of the life-force itself? How is it a being can be alive and not inert?”

And in the domain of neuro-biology and neural-brain science (and artificial-intelligence and quantum physics for that matter): “What is the nature of conscious awareness? How can self-aware consciousness actually arise from the activities within the brain?

These are wonderful questions to study and to contemplate deeply. Questions that only human sentient beings could even consider.

For the meditation masters of Kashmir-Shiva Yoga of 1,000 years ago they found their own answers within their practices. And the Heart of it is expressed in the first Śhiva Sutra, “Caitanyam-Atmā”. “Consciousness is the Self.”

Consciousness itself, free and independent, is the foundational reality principle underlying all life and all existence. Consciousness is the Self. It is the Self of all, and of our own individual, imperishable and splendorous Self.

That is what we do come to know through deep meditation. That is our practice: the immersion within our own Consciousness by means of our own Consciousness. It is there that all doubts are banished and replaced with the joyous, bliss-saturated certainty of ultimacy.

To invite you forward in exploring the questions above, consider that this ultimate principle of Consciousness is said to have 3 primary aspects: “Sat-Cit-Ānanda”.

“Sat” refers to the “truth” of actual existence. Consciousness actually exists, and therefore the entire world exists. It is not an illusion!

“Cit” (pronounced chit) refers to conscious awareness. It is aware. It knows it is aware, it is self-referential in its awareness, just as we are. Awareness does not arise from the brain. The body-brain-mind and nature all arise within and of Consciousness.

“Ānanda” is the complete Bliss-Essence character of the Absolute. This is synonymous with Love in all of its forms. Supreme unconditional Love.

IMG_2972

Meditation is not a Selfish Practice

We are faced with so much suffering in life, especially full with turmoil, destruction and with grief in this season, in the late Summer of 2017. Several powerful hurricanes have devastated, flooded and killed in North America, in the Caribbean, in the Southern United States, especially Texas and Florida, and in Baja California, Mexico. Now a terrible earthquake has struck near Mexico City, burying hundreds beneath collapsed buildings, including hundreds of innocent children trapped beneath their very own school. This is tragedy and suffering that seems too much for us to bear. Too much to even witness. Our compassion tears open our hearts for all those affected.

There are those who have been waiting to receive personal instruction from me in Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City. This is to happen very soon. And this raises an important question: To many persons it may appear that practicing meditation seems a selfish or self-centered practice. To sit for a few minutes each day and go within our own selves, to contact our own Source-Place of Consciousness deep within: How can we do that when there is so much trauma, disruption and suffering going on?

It is an important question. These events in our communities call for all of us who are able to rise to the challenges of helping our communities and our neighbors. And I mean this from an entirely global perspective, for we are all neighbors. We are all one community. No, we cannot all be rescue workers on the scene. But we all can offer our support and compassion in one way or another.

But the practice of deep meditation (Neelakantha Meditation) does something very valuable, important and irreplaceable, not just for ourselves, but for our communities and ultimately for the world.

Human life is filled with suffering, just as the Buddha and so many other teachers have taught. Everything we witness and experience, every trauma, every loss and every suffering leaves a trace within the fabric of our deepest mind. This affects us. Even if the suffering is happening to others, and we experience it just by witnessing it, seeing and feeling it. It leaves a trace impression in our minds too.

Neelakantha Meditation is a practice of effortlessly going deep within our own selves and accessing the very highest Source-Consciousness within. It is our own true and imperishable highest Self. It is beyond all relative human activity and dwells eternally in its own state of perfect Wholeness and Bliss. We access this and drink from it, are nourished and uplifted by this, every time we sit and do our meditation. It is of the character of Divine Grace. This aspect or value of Consciousness is called “Soma”. It is the nectarean power of healing and wholeness. It is imperishable (amrita) and cannot be tarnished, diminished nor destroyed. It acts always to release the traces of suffering from what we have experienced in life. It does not erase our experiences: What happened in life did happen. The loss, pain and the grief are real. But the wounds in the heart begin to heal when the traces of suffering are released. We are in the end left with only the wisdom, the compassion and the love that remains. Though this will often take place progressively over some time. That is our practice. It is this that enables our very presence and highest benevolent intentions to support, hold, and uplift our neighbors and communities. From this we become more capable of holding them in the highest Light and Love of Consciousness.

IMG_2605

We face the storms together, supported by the Highest from within.

Welcome and Introduction to Neelakantha Meditation / Bienvenida e Introducción a la Meditación Neelakantha

 

 

This is a special message for friends in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I will be coming to visit your community and to teach about Neelakantha Meditation and give personal formal instruction to all who would like to learn it October 4th through 12th 2017. (Each English paragraph is followed by the Spanish. I will also add a voice recording in Spanish.)  – Paul

Hello. This is Paul Van Camp, authorized teacher of of Neelakantha Meditation, as it is taught in Blue Throat Yoga. I am from Bend, Oregon in the United States and also live in Los Cabos, BCS, Mexico. And I am very much looking forward to coming to meet with you, to teach and to share these teachings with you in your community of Cuernavaca. Some of you may be coming just to learn something about this practice. To learn about the theory of deep meditation, and to have your questions answered.

Hola. Este es Paul Van Camp, maestro autorizado de Neelakantha Meditation, como se enseña en Blue Throat Yoga. Soy de Bend, Oregon en los Estados Unidos y también vivo en Los Cabos, BCS, México. Y estoy con ganas de encontrarme con ustedes, enseñar y compartir estas enseñanzas con ustedes en su comunidad de Cuernavaca. Algunos de ustedes pueden venir sólo para aprender algo sobre esta práctica. Para aprender sobre la teoría de la meditación profunda, y para que sus preguntas sean respondidas.

Some persons have already decided to formally receive instruction and learn this practice. I am certainly very happy for the opportunity to teach you: to formally give you this practice for your very own. To have this method of deep meditation in your life is a great treasure. It is a precious jewel that transforms and uplifts life. It opens each of us to the direct knowledge of our own highest Self within. It brings understanding of our life’s true purpose and meaning, both spiritually and practically. Over time, it releases the causes of stress and suffering and uplifts and enhances every dimension of our lives. It opens us to having more wisdom, more freedom, more love and compassion, more joy (even in the midst of life’s challenges), and more to offer to others in our relationships, our families, co-workers and communities.

Algunas personas ya han decidido formalmente recibir instrucción y aprender esta práctica. Estoy ciertamente muy feliz por la oportunidad de enseñarle: formalmente darle esta práctica para su propio. Tener este método de meditación profunda en su vida es un gran tesoro. Es una joya preciosa que transforma y eleva la vida. Abre cada uno de nosotros al conocimiento directo de nuestro Ser más elevado dentro. Trae la comprensión del verdadero propósito y significado de nuestra vida, tanto espiritual como prácticamente. Con el tiempo, libera las causas del estrés y el sufrimiento y eleva y realza cada dimensión de nuestras vidas. Nos abre a tener más sabiduría, más libertad, más amor y compasión, más alegría (incluso en medio de los desafíos de la vida), y más para ofrecer a otros en nuestras relaciones, nuestras familias, compañeros de trabajo y comunidades.

Neelakantha meditation is a practice that everyone can learn very easily, and practice successfully every day. This is certain. It does not require any prior experience with meditation or with yoga practices. It stands complete by itself. Once it is learned it is a practice for a lifetime. It is meditation perfected. It is based upon the principle of effortlessness. This is because it works with the natural functions of the mind. So it is an easy natural practice for all humans.

La meditación Neelakantha es una práctica que todos pueden aprender muy fácilmente y practicar con éxito todos los días. Esto es cierto. No requiere ninguna experiencia previa con la meditación o con las prácticas de yoga. Está completo por sí mismo. Una vez que se aprende, es una práctica para toda la vida. Es la meditación perfeccionada. Se basa en el principio de la falta de esfuerzo. Esto es porque funciona con las funciones naturales de la mente. Por lo tanto, es una práctica natural fácil para todos los seres humanos.

It is the modern form of a traditional practice developed in India many centuries ago. Even though it has roots in ancient traditions (the yoga and philosophy called Kashmir-Shaivism), it is not a religious practice. Therefore, it does not require, and does not conflict with, any religion or belief system. That is why I say it is a natural human practice. Anyone can simply add the daily practice of Neelakantha Meditation to what they are already doing in life: to their own routines of work, of study, of practices and devotions, of family and community. By adding this practice it supports the life of each individual by connecting us with our own deepest Source within.

Es la forma moderna de una práctica tradicional desarrollada en la India hace muchos siglos. A pesar de que tiene raíces en las tradiciones antiguas (el yoga y la filosofía llamada Cachemira-Shaivismo), no es una práctica religiosa. Por lo tanto, no requiere, y no entra en conflicto con, ninguna religión o sistema de creencias. Por eso digo que es una práctica humana natural. Cualquiera puede simplemente añadir la práctica diaria de la Meditación Neelakantha a lo que ya están haciendo en la vida: a sus propias rutinas de trabajo, de estudio, de prácticas y devociones, de familia y comunidad. Al agregar esta práctica, apoya la vida de cada individuo conectándonos con nuestra fuente más profunda dentro.

People call this Source-place by many names such as the life-force, universal spirit, Grace, etc. We often call it “Absolute Consciousness”. (In the tradition this was called Shiva.) Because it is Consciousness, and is present in everything and everyone, we can know it directly and be nourished by it within our own self by the means of our meditation. This is what we are learning and practicing: how to go within and touch the highest aspect of Self for a few minutes every day. It is actually very easy, natural and enjoyable. It brings true happiness, beneficial transformation and fulfillment.

La gente llama a esta fuente-lugar por muchos nombres como la fuerza vital, el espíritu universal, la gracia, etc. A menudo lo llamamos “Conciencia Absoluta”. (En la tradición esto se llamaba Shiva.) Debido a que es la Conciencia, y está presente en todo y en todos, podemos conocerla directamente y ser alimentada por ella dentro de nuestro propio ser por medio de nuestra meditación. Esto es lo que estamos aprendiendo y practicando: cómo entrar y tocar el aspecto más elevado del Ser durante unos minutos todos los días. Es realmente muy fácil, natural y agradable. Trae verdadera felicidad, transformación beneficiosa y cumplimiento.

Because there is so much hardship and suffering in the world, many people do not believe that complete spiritual fulfillment is possible or available to them during this lifetime. They might hope to have spiritual fulfillment only after death of the body. They may see the enlightened persons or realized saints as so rare and different from themselves. But in our teachings say that this is possible in this life. It is called living spiritual freedom. It is the highest state of living consciousness. There are so many persons today have been awakened by the touch or call of Grace. It is the Divine that does this. It comes in many forms, unique to each individual. It calls us forward to find the highest teachings, the true practices and the means to achieve and to know ultimacy in this very life. For me, this is my own purpose in life and my path and my means of serving others. Neelakantha Meditation is a treasure, a practice that will sustain and propel your own journey towards your own highest fulfillment. I look forward to meeting each of you very soon. Remember that we walk the path with the goal already in hand.

Debido a que hay tantas dificultades y sufrimientos en el mundo, muchas personas no creen que el cumplimiento espiritual completo es posible o disponible para ellos durante esta vida. Podrían esperar tener el cumplimiento espiritual sólo después de la muerte del cuerpo. Pueden ver a las personas iluminadas oa los santos realizados como tan raros y diferentes de ellos mismos. Pero en nuestras enseñanzas decir que esto es posible en esta vida. Se llama libertad espiritual viviente. Es el estado más elevado de la conciencia viviente. Hay tantas personas hoy en día que han sido despertadas por el toque o llamada de la Gracia. Es lo Divino lo que hace esto. Viene en muchas formas, únicas para cada individuo. Nos invita a encontrar las más altas enseñanzas, las verdaderas prácticas y los medios para lograr y conocer la última en esta misma vida. Para mí, este es mi propio propósito en la vida y mi camino y mis medios de servir a los demás. Neelakantha meditación es un tesoro, una práctica que sostendrá y propulsará su propio viaje hacia su propia plenitud. Espero encontrarme con ustedes muy pronto. Recuerde que caminamos el camino con la meta ya en mano.

Sinceramente,                          Paul Van Camp M.D. 

P.S. You may find more information about Neelakantha Meditation and how it transforms life on my website at: http://www.meditationbend.com.  And at: http://www.bluethroatyoga.com

PD Puede encontrar más información acerca de Neelakantha Meditation y cómo transforma la vida en mi sitio web en: http://www.meditationbend.com. Y en: http://www.bluethroatyoga.com

How Meditation Causes Transformation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Full Moon Rise over Sea of Cortez

How, by what mechanism, does the regular daily practice of deep introversive meditation result in the transformation of one’s life? How does that practice, of just a few minutes each day, automatically and without further analysis, therapy nor personal effort, accomplish that? How does this effortless and enjoyable practice of immersive awareness bring that about? Bring about the dissolving of limitation from our outer experience of life and set us free on a higher trajectory for our own life?

It is a mysterious process. And it takes place right before our very eyes. It is astonishing and amazing. Our teaching and our experience is that this does and will happen with Neelakantha meditation. This is the experience of those who practice in this way today. It happens progressively over time. And it begins to happen right at the very time that we learn and start to practice. Very soon we begin to recognize the condition of more freedom that emerges into view and becomes the lived condition of our lives.

Reactive patterns such as anger – dissolve, and are gone, one layer at a time. The same goes for patterns of negative judgments, including especially our self-limiting judgments. Contracted patterns of negative opinions; Repetitively compulsive or negative “programs” of thought and compulsive negative habits of action; Emotional contractions; patterns of excessive fatigue, chronic anxiety or depression; The suffering-laden residues of past traumas: All of these are progressively weakened, disassembled and taken “off-line”. They cease to have their negative impact and cease to overshadow or color our experiences in life. They cease to have their negative impact on our relationships. Cease to hold back our creativity and our happiness.

How this happens seems mysterious. But the principle that is operating in this is perfectly simple. In our deep introversive meditation we touch or immerse our own awareness in highest Source-Consciousness. It is that Source of awareness whose essential intrinsic nature is pure love, bliss and life-affirming benevolence. It is the intrinsically intelligent universal Consciousness. It is that we call the transcendent Absolute.

And so, on the introversive “stroke” of our meditation to whatever degree, and for even a brief moment, we access that sublime Source in our own inner awareness. – Even if it does not fully “register” or is not even remembered in the early stage of meditation practice. Every time we go within in this way we bring back a “trace” or residue of that purely beneficial life-enhancing consciousness. And that immediately begins to act to displace anything in our individuality that is not in alignment and accord with its own intrinsic nature. Whatever is not in accord with its own intrinsic character of freedom, illuminative knowledge, and unconditional love/bliss, must go. It must be dissolved and released.

A root teaching text of the non-dual Kashmir Shaivism states it this way:

            “Jayati Jagadananda. Vipaksha-kshapana-kshama”

“All praise and victory that highest Consciousness whose nature is universal bliss.          For it is capable of dissolving and removing anything which is contrary or opposed to its own intrinsic nature.”                 (from the Malini-vijayottara-tantra, v. 1.)

Just as a surging river’s flow will dislodge and remove obstructing rocks and debris. So the flow of the highest values of Consciousness will flow into every corner and arena of our body and mind from our meditation: Uplifting, enhancing and healing. Bestowing more freedom, more insightful knowledge, more capacity, more creativity and love. Thus we become more of what we truly and authentically are.

mail-attachment-10
Ecstatic Joy – Enraptured heart

The Book of Sadhana, a Life Journey

I am very pleased to announce that as of today, July 22, 2017, I am an authorized teacher of Neelakantha Meditation as taught in Blue Throat Yoga. This culminates a five-year process of deep study and practices capping 43 years of meditation. I will now offer formal personal instruction in the practice of Neelakantha Meditation. It is very easy to learn and practice. And once learned, it is a practice for life. I celebrate this by offering the following blog post from here at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center:

IMG_1576

The Book of Sadhana, a Life Journey

Neelakantha Meditation is the “ever-new” practice. It is new, fresh and different every single day. Thus each meditation and day can be thought of as a fresh “page” in the “book” of our practice life (sadhana). Each page is different and tells a part of our extraordinary personal journey. Together they comprise a sort of book, our book that is still being written. It unfolds page by page as our story unfolds day by day.

The other side of each page is the unfolding of that day’s events. What is happening in our personal lived story? What challenges are we encountering in life? What opportunities and gifts? What unexpected twists and turns? How are we growing and learning through all of this? Alive, awake and engaged: Life is unfolding with the silent engine of our meditation practice impelling us powerfully forward.

There are powerful connections between what is happening in our meditation and the accelerated evolution and growth we experience. How have limiting patterns of thought, judgment and action, and the seeds from past experience that may contain suffering? These are being systematically released during meditation. There is a burgeoning of freedom and increased capacities that emerge and carry us forward. We, and also others, will notice the changes. Knowledge deepens. Capacity for love and compassion start to replace judgmental thought patterns and reactive anger. Our peace and happiness, our health, our relationships, and our well-being are all nourished in a life lived with such a meditation practice..

The end of the book has not been written, of course. It is not fixed. Our destiny will be written by our own hand. This is certain, because of the potency of Freedom that is woven into the very fabric of the source-place of all that exists. This Freedom is inherent in the movements of Consciousness, and therefore also in life. So all limitations and all challenges can ultimately be surmounted. We are supported in this by that which is highest, best, whole and imperishable. It is the journey towards our own highest fulfillment. We are meant to succeed in this. Just as the caterpillar is meant to become the butterfly

The metaphor of the “book” is the telling our own story. Each page is unique: each day and each meditation. This is the great adventure, unfolding at this very moment. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next!

IMG_0808

Call of the Heart’s Song

TYLER-LEAVITT_supermoon1

On Awakening. And Diksha.

There are tens of thousands of persons on this earth who are, at this time, awakening. There is no common thread in their stories. All of their life journeys are different and unique. There is nothing of their own doing that was the cause of their spontaneous awakening. They have simply been touched by Grace. So there follows this mysterious inexplicable turning, an arising in the deepest heart of themselves.

The first wakening is so tender and seems so precious but fragile. Like a wave passing-by that momentarily lifts us with a surge, then subsides. But in its wake everything is different. It can never be forgotten nor long ignored.

It may come into the forms of deep questioning and longing: “There must be more to life than this rat-race of chasing after desires, possessions and roles of every sort?””There must be more to me than this amazing yet mortal and limited embodiment?” “There must be more to my own consciousness than just an endless stream of thoughts?””Why is there so much terrible suffering of mankind in this world?””I am surely more than this. Life is more than this. And I must find it: I must know!”

Thus a newly awakened seeker begins to look around. He or she has become the proverbial “hound of heaven” possessing that divine-discontent, a hunger that only the highest and most fulfilling knowledge of ultimacy can ever satisfy. That is the action of awakening by Grace. It will not let us go. It can be ignored for a time but not extinguished. Which is very reassuring, we do not want to go back to sleep.

So the newly awakened seek out the extraordinary knowledge, the means of attaining that liberative fullness, their Heart’s desire. They may look everywhere: in religions, in philosophies, in ancient wisdom texts. In various “yogas”. In renunciation, or in devotion or the satisfactions of family, creating, community and in doing good works. Yet the desire for deep and complete fullness, for fulfillment, remains. Where do we find that? How do we access that?

It requires a careful and precise method. A practice method that is empowered and alive and carefully taught. This is our meditation, the true authentic practice of deep introversive meditation that gives access to the treasures of our own highest Self. Such a practice has been available throughout the centuries of human history. And it is available, though not common, today. We can find it described in ancient texts of our (and other) traditions and lineages. But it is only taught directly through living human instruction. By that means it is precisely and clearly conveyed. Person-to-person instruction – just as transplanting a tree must be from life to life. This process of personal instruction in true meditation is called “diksha”. In Sanskrit this means “something is given (“da”), and something is removed (“ksha”). That which is given is careful precise direct instruction. That which is removed is any misunderstanding or obstacles to a successful practice.

I will complete this discussion on “Diksha” and the learning of true deep tantric meditation practice in my next blog entry -Coming very soon. – Paul

Version 2
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The Three Malas

The following quote is from the Tantrasara, “Essence of the Tantras”, by Abhinava Gupta written 1,000 years ago in Srinagar, Kahsmir:

 “Consider the following: if living beings suppose themselves to be in a state or condition of bondage, such a supposition on their parts arises entirely as a result of the force of a fundamental thought or state of mind on their parts. Moreover, that very supposition [that they are bound] is itself the cause of their continued condition of transmigratory bondage. However, if an opposite mental state or thought arises, it can expel that thought or mental state which is the very cause of continued transmigration and it can thus be the cause of arising spiritual goodness.“And such a thought or mental state is as follows: That which transcends the entirety of all the principles of reality whose nature is limited and bounded, from the earth principle up to the Shiva principle, that is the Supreme Reality composed only of the unbounded and unlimited consciousness. That is the place where all things are established in their respective differences; that is the vital energy of all; by means of that everything breathes, and that alone am I.”

(Tantrasara of Abhinava Gupta, Ahnika 4, KSTS # 21; Translation © Paul Muller-Ortega; Published in Theory and Practice of Yoga, Knut A. Jacobsen (Ed.), p. 199, 2005)

 

IMG_0808
Joshua Tree Retreat Center sunrise

Suppose (verb) To assume or believe or take to be true; To posit as true for what follows. From the Latin supponere; sub + ponere; to “put-under”. Supposition (n.) a belief that underlies or is the foundation for what follows.

Returning now to exploring my previous post’s question for contemplation: “What is that supposition, the deepest unspoken limiting root-belief that binds the infinite imperishable Self into the limited individual and seemingly separate human self?”

 In the teachings and philosophy of classical Yoga (~ 500 CE) and in the later tantra-yoga of Kashmir Shaivism (~ 1000 CE), both traditions agree on one central and overarching principle: In both of them, the highest and the only true self-identity of every being is Consciousness itself. In classical yoga this is called purusha. In the later non-dual writings it is called atma. I often refer to it simply as the “Self”( with capital S).

This principle is stated with perfect simplicity in the first Shiva Sutra (I.1):

< caitanyam ātma > “ Consciousness is the Self.”

The field of Consciousness is both the universal Self of all existence, and at the same time, our personal individual field of living awareness. This is declared as our true and final identity, the Self. It is that which “I Am”.

All of reality and all of experience arises and is manifest as vibration-forms within the field of Consciousness. For me, this is the most startling, expansive and liberating recognition of all. It turns any limited view of the world upside down (not to mention of modern physics) and grounds reality in its own transcendent Source.

At a universal level, Consciousness is seen as the ultimate reality principle. That of which there is nothing higher (anuttara). It is the underlying ground of all being. And so it is at the individual level: It is within the light of our awareness that all experiences arise and take place. Thus it is called “The Light of Consciousness.” Not the content of our conscious experiences, but the ever-present light of awareness by which that content is seen and known. There can be no experience that does not take place in consciousness. Without that nothing could be known. So it is indeed the “light” of our awareness.

[Note: While the terms “consciousness” and “awareness” are essentially synonymous, I try to use “Consciousness” when referring to the universal aspects, and “awareness” when speaking of the personal. Even though, from the highest perspective, these are one.]

Now, the individual and personal field of awareness, whether called purusha, atma or the Self, was always and is forever perfect and full. It has no limitations. It is completely free and ecstatically whole. It does not need to be “enlightened”. It just needs to be realized and reclaimed as our own core identity.

So how then does our embodiment into a human circumstance of apparent limitation take place? Where has separation, error and limitation of our knowledge come into play? And the resulting suffering in life that results from such limited access to our own highest nature? And why is that condition of limited knowledge and circumstance so persistently arising in relative human life?

Limited knowledge is the cause, the tradition declares. The second Śhiva Sutra declares “jñanam bandaḥ”, “Limited knowledge is bondage.”

It is an erroneous dual supposition or belief, says the svatantra-yoga teachings:    First is the mistaken belief that what is not our true self is taken to be our true self. This is referring to the physical body, to the limited mind, to our thought-forms, ideas and identifications with what is limited and temporary (such as our professions, possessions, group identities etc.)  Then the second mistaken belief is the corresponding false supposition by which we fail to know what is our true Self: Our transcendent imperishable Conscious Self; That which we can come to know by direct personal experience through deep introversive meditation. This is the Light of Consciousness: the Self.

There are three primary mechanisms of contraction or limitation of knowledge. They are called the three “malas”. These are the means by which the unlimited Self is “bound” into the play of circumstances with the character of ordinary human life and suffering. Mala in Sanskrit is often translated as “stain”. But I find it can best be understood as forms of erroneous beliefs and thoughts. The three are the anava-mala, the mayiya-mala and the karma-mala. These are the dimensions of the “ignorance” or limited knowledge of our true nature. They exist only in our body and mind. And they veil or conceal the fullness and perfection of what we already are as purusha, the Self.

The anava-mala is the root of all of it. Anava means “small”, atomic or infinitesimal. It is the result of our transcendent Self becoming embodied as a limited human being. It feels very, very small. It feels like a big mistake. We arrive in this life and feel somehow incomplete and imperfect because we are not in touch with our fullness and universal nature. It is the primordial inferiority complex. And everyone has it. It is intrinsic to being a limited human being living a mortal human life. And, as one of my teachers put it, “It is the most untrue thing that we ever could possibly believe.”

The progressive untangling and release of the anava-mala through a life process of study, yogic practices, and refinement of our knowledge until the “erroneous supposition” is clearly viewed and released from our self-identity, is rightfully called “Self-realization”. That is the path of liberation. And it is indeed a heroic endeavor. The process begins only when we are touched, at some point in our life, by the call of Grace. That is the initial awakening.

The other two “malas” arise as a direct result of the anava-mala, the mala of diminution. The second, the mayiya-mala, is the error of distinction or of discrimination. It is the habit of mind and judgment that sees otherness and differentiation: me vs. not-me. It says “This is higher and that is lower. Other persons and groups are seen as separate and different. Every form of separative distinction is the thought-habit of the mayiya mala. It is that which isolates us.

Yes, differences actually do exist and are manifest in the relative dimensions of life. But there is an overarching and more fundamental unity underlying all things and beings at the most subtle and transcendent levels of reality. That “unity-consciousness” is the transcendent and permanent recognition that progressively comes into living focus. “Difference” is then seen to arise and exist only within a much great preponderance of “non-difference”.

The third mala arises directly from the first two. Out of the pervasive experience of smallness or diminution (anava-mala), and of being separate and distinct (mayiya-mala), arises the feeling that we are acting as isolated and distinct agents. This sense of individual “agency” accompanies all of our actions in most persons’ lives. It says: “It is I alone who is performing my actions.” Separative perception does not recognize that the entire universe is acting through and with us. Our actions are not separate from the whole. This supposition that we act as separate agents is called the karma-mala. It is the error of limited action. It is “arrogation”, taking on the operation of the universe as being our own. There is a subtlety here: This does not negate nor deny our absolute freedom to act. We are completely free in the Self. Freedom is fundamental and intrinsic to Consciousness. “Svatantra” means literally “self-weaving”. But when we act the whole universe acts in concert with us. Our own wholeness cannot be breached.

These three dimensions of limitation are the foundation of how the universal unbounded Consciousness becomes embodied as an individual sentient being. Untangling these erroneous suppositions of the three malas through meditation and progressive refinement is a path to direct knowledge towards liberation and the highest fulfillment. For me, this perspective provides a sort of roadmap for my practices and unfolding progress in life.

TYLER-LEAVITT_supermoon1
Fullness