Thursday, November 26, 2009
Females make for good Tantrics and are naturally suited for the path. This is particularly a true view for Shaktas, as woman are seen as the embodied form of Shakti. The Tantra marga deals with the embodying and interacting qualities of manifest existence, so females can use their strengths and natural tendencies for spiritual "gain". Many spiritual paths endeavor to quell the feminine energies in favor of the more "solid", cool, and dispassionate approach. While these qualities may need to be present to some extent in a sadhak of either gender, the strict conformity to these principles is often a disempowering agenda which works against the sadhak. The fluidity, heat, and passion of the feminine energy is seen from the Tantric perspective as great power and the potential means of liberation. With any energetic "form", one seeks to express the enlightened aspect of the energy, rather then being content with the energy stuck in a bound and attached pattern. The female sadhak who invites the presence of the Goddess and "allows" the natural energy to conform to that presence can become an accomplished Tantric in short order.
One of the problems with some of the presentation of the Goddess tradition in the west, is that the Devi seems to be used to empower "concepts" of femininity (rather then the true power inherent). This means that there is an empowerment of identity. We do not begrudge self improvement, confidence building, and self empowerment from females, but one is missing a whole level of power and liberation if the "interaction" remains on these limited terms. I hardly ever use one type of writing approach that is seen elsewhere, whereby one says/describes what a Deity "means" or what that energy is expressing. For one, this type of discussion tends to "un-real" that particular presence and make it into a logically explained (and human centric) archetype. Moreover, to conceptualize some energy tends to limit the expression or what one is "willing" to accept. All this is to say, that the female should allow the Goddess to empower the Goddess (in/AS the female sadhak), rather then seeking some individuated (Gender conceptualized/limiting) empowerment. One who proceeds letting experience inform the conception does not limit themselves.
Tantra allows for the energies of both males and females to be used and expressed. There is some confusion regarding "masculine energy" because the word is largely an oxymoron. Energy is Shakti (the feminine principle), so it is really only the energy "filter" that differentiates. It seems that females sometimes are turned away from the Tantric path because they may see it expressed by a male and assume that it is involves a lot of "masculine energy" (bravado, rough, aggressive etc.). What is often not realized, is that the same principles that "allow" these qualities to be utilized by male sadhaks would be the principles that "allow" for the feminine qualities to be utilized. Therefore, male presentation/expression is in no way a "model" for how the path will be or be expressed for a female sadhak. Indeed, any form of expressing is not a model for any potential sadhak regardless of gender.
Within India, very few females will identify as a Tantric. There is some stigma attached to the path for males and this is intensified for females. Many females that I've met who are intimately involved in Tantra will not identify with the word. Many will use the guise of a Bhakta, while others will present as a bhor (female who get "possessed" by the Goddess). Within the west countries there is also some concern from females because of certain aspects of the path. Woman are not concerned with any stigma, but are concerned that they would be required to be involved in rituals/situations that they would find uncomfortable. It should be made absolutely clear that female sadhaks are NEVER required (pressured etc.) to engage in any way that they do not want. Also, it should be noted that a female is fully capable of being a Tantric sadhak without being a Bhairavi/Shakti (engaged with a male Tantric). Being a female tantric and being a Bhairavi are different things. Female Tantrics who engage with males do so as choice and are not required to do so (either by other or the dictates of the path). It is not a requirement that males or females do rituals with the other sex, and many sadhaks proceed without those type of rituals. Until one can properly internalize the mudra of union within, any ritual action of union will lack the intent and power anyway.
Men and Women both have the qualities of Shiva and Shakti within, and it is only the predominance of the aspect which differs. The sadhak should reach an inner accord (union) with the principles. The "art" of Tantra is to create the proper union of these resonant aspects. Much like an guitar, the union is the "string" in proper note, the subtle "adjustment" of "too loose" and "too tight" is the creation of the embodied expression of this mudra. There are several mudras contained within the union. One can "BE" Shakti united with Shiva, Shiva united with Shakti, or the union as ONE whole. One shouldn't be limited by physical gender as it applies to these "postures". Shakti is the perspective of Energy, while Shiva represents the undifferentiated Awareness. The meditative view of liberated Shakti states "I am ALL" and the liberated view of Shiva states "I am untouched and none of it". Realizing these views (tacitly) at the same time is a thing of profound beauty.
Relationship between a man and woman on the path can be a great support. The partner serves as a source of power and inspiration, and a great mutual "gift" is given/received. The "strengths" of each partner are empowered, while the "weaknesses"/afflictions are tempered (or a "weakness" is empowered). A couple sitting together in the Tantric work is a powerful and radically profound kriya. Relationship should always serve the people in relation or else it leads to bitterness. A woman should give energy and power to a man, and a man should give awareness and clarity to the woman. These are the mutual gifts of the relation (in spirit). In popular culture (maybe based on facts of our times), relationship is portrayed as the opposite of this. The man gets disempowered by the woman and becomes timid and weak (looses confidence). While the woman becomes dissatisfied, frantic and aimless (i.e. doesn't gain the peace or "solidness" of awareness). In both cases the partner is portrayed as bitter (which is the truth of such interaction). In a good relation, the aforementioned (end previous paragraph) liberated perspectives can be shared and assimilated in the enlightened relationship. The sadhaks can help each other grow, and while the relation helps realize a "completeness", it becomes a "completeness" that is recognized in ONE. (This means that there is not a dependency of this type of realization, as the perspective becomes whole in each partner.)
In true relation, the partner see's the divine quality in the other. The female see's Shiva in the male, and the male she's Shakti in the female. For Tantrics, this becomes an actuality (via sadhana and will) and the life is it's divine expression. Just to have somebody "view" you in divine (i.e. True) terms can have a great impact on how one perceives oneself. If you doubt this, then please observe how you feel after being with people who don't have a good view of you (or a unwavering view that is not in accord with you) vs. being with those who have a good opinion (or enlightened "opinion"). If one is manifesting a principle and "another" awareness profoundly acknowledges that principle, then the "view" solidifies quickly. Sadhaks may take the divine view to embodied conclusions and perform the puja of the Devata on/to the partner.
Tantric Gurus enjoy working with females because they are easier to move and more supple. While females can be moved, the challenge is getting them solid/grounded in "where" they are moved. If they don't come solid, then they become "space cadets" and the divine energy lack direction/control. Males have a giant wall which is named "PRIDE", which the teacher has to navigate around. The challenge often for males is for them to "open" and release the grip dictated by self importance. Each gender can be generalized to have a major challenge, and for men it is pride and for women it is pettiness. (Of course, men can be petty and women prideful). These challenges when liberated become the strength of each, as the challenges are presented from the perspective of Shiva and Shakti. The Shakti is engaged with manifestation (IS manifestation), so females tend to be more engaged. When there is ignorance present, then this can lead to pettiness. The view of Shiva is untouched by manifestation (detached), but when there is ignorance present, the view can lead to arrogance and self importance. When the view of Shakti is liberated (i.e. the afflicted ignorant view is seen through), the the view IS the manifest quality (rather then closely engaging with it) and the expression can be nothing but Oneness, unconditional love and compassion. When the view of Shiva is liberated, the view becomes "Divine Pride" which in truly untouched and see's everything in this great Awareness.
Overall, the Tantric path is optimistic when regarding any attachment or energy pattern. This is because it is all regarded just as energy (or potentially liberated energy). We (in our ignorance and attachment) place the "story" on the energy. The path doesn't ask people to become "other" then what they are (in "real" terms), and the liberated energy (no matter how it's defined) becomes the fuel on the path. In many paths, one is often told to do works which aim to temper the predominant "traits", so one works in the direction opposite their energy patterns. This is a safe route and produces rounded people. In the Vira Tantric approach, one tends to go directly into the main traits and energy patterns and transmutes them.
Contained within the male in the prominent white bindu, and within the female is the red bindu. May these seeds mix, unite, and rise in great bliss and freedom. You are Shiva and Shakti. You are beyond male or female. You are a male or female. Isn't it wonderful!
Friday, November 20, 2009
There was an Ashram for a great Guru, and one student everyday would go into the Guru's garden and smoke. Another student wanted to smoke in the garden also, so he went to the teacher and asked "Guruji, can I smoke in the garden"? The Guru said, "NO". The obvious moral is that one shouldn't ask unless they want an answer. But there is also a more subtle one....see it?
One fellow asked his Guru, "Guruji, can I meditate while smoking"? The Guru said, "You must!" Another fellow came and asked "Guruji, can I smoke while meditating"? The Guru said, "Get out of my site you filthy animal."
A demon was attacking a mountain village, so the villagers sought out a realized master of awareness. The master told the demon to go away and the demon just laughed. The villages next found a fellow who was not self realized but had an iron will. This fellow told the demon to go, and it fled in terror.
There was one fellow who was really not a nice person. If you had encountered him then you would say that the fellow was not a spiritual person and had a long way to go toward salvation and freedom. This fellow was born with four arms and three eyes, so even his appearance was ugly. However, the child's mother was told that the deformities would be cured when the child was held by the person that would kill him. Of course, this was a mixed bag of news, as the deformities would be gone, but it meant that her son would be killed. The child's name was Shishupal, and he had a cousin of some renown named Krishna. When Krishna finally met his cousin and held him, the extra arms and eye receded. Shishupal's mother was shocked and told Krishna that he would kill her child. Krishna replied that he would take one hundred insults from him, and he did. Shishupal was always going around bad mouthing Krishna, calling him a fake and fraud and questioning his true aims and character. The final straw came during a sacrifice and Shishupal challenged Krishna to fight. Krishna had taken one hundred insults, and he was a warrior who could not refuse a battle challenge. So he threw his Chakra and took off the head of Shishupal clean off. The spirit revealed itself as Jay/Vijay, one of Lord Hari's best disciples, and he came and gave pranam to Krishna saying "Thank you, you have freed me". The gatekeepers of Vishnu named Jay and Vijay were cursed to take birth. They could have taken twelve normal births, but decided to take three births as a demon instead. One should be careful when judging another, as one cannot be certain of who they actually are.
There was a fellow named Ajit who spent all his time in quite contentment. He had no interest in jobs, money, friends, or much of anything. His family and people around the man said "this fellow is good for nothing." When his family members died, they met Yama/Dharmaraja, and he asked them "what are you good for?" The peoples subtle essence released a hectic and long list of things they could do and aspired to do. They said, "See, Dharmaraja, we are good for something!" Dharmaraja said, "Indeed" and threw their souls into the reincarnated existence. When Ajit came to meet Dharmaraja, he was asked the same question and replied "I am good for nothing". The subtle essence was quite and in repose, so Dharmaraja said "Indeed", and the fellow passed the gate to ultimate liberation.
A young lady from Bengal grew up with loving parents and a good education. However, her parents died quite abruptly and a greedy uncle took all the wealth and property. She was given to a foul man in marriage who beat and raped her regularly. Her new in-laws treated her like a lowly slave and made jokes at her expense. Having taken enough, she fled and found a Tantric sitting in the cremation grounds. She told him, "Guruji, I am having many problems." She related her situation to him and with bitterness described her fall. She told him "Guruji, this is not right, please help me so that I can solve these troubles and be redeemed by having revenge." The Tantric was touched by her story and saw something in her, so he said, "I will teach you the Vidya, and if you are faithful to the sadhana, then you can solve these problems and have your vengeance." He gave her the Diksha and sadhana and told her that she would need to do it for five years in the cremation grounds. It seemed like a long and difficult time, but just the thought of those thieves and criminals getting what coming to them made her accept the terms. Five years later, the Tantric returned to the shamshan and saw that his student was still present. He told her, "You have done well. You can now deal with your problems." She said "Guruji, I don't have any problems." See, Tantra solves problems.
Hope you liked the stories.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
In the beginning of ones spiritual journey reflection plays a key role, yet this reflective nature is largely destroyed. This happens because the subtle split is eradicated and one simply "IS" (what they truly are/the Ishta) rather then using awareness to reflect on itself. This just seems to happen as one moves on the path, and any former vigilance of attention just becomes a natural vigilance of Being (without effort or contrivance of awareness). A Korean Zen master has a pithy teaching which sums up the meditative process in two easy steps. The teaching is "Don't Know" and "Don't Check". "Don't Know" is the openness which allows the true essence to become clear, and "Don't Check" cuts the head off any self reflection involved. (In the Zen spirit, I am required to call the teacher a long winded fellow.) The same process is involved with the tantric work. In the beginning one has a "special" time that one gives attention to these qualities and maybe also brings the attention to bare through out the day, but one soon embodies the principles so fully that one is "That". This is why I believe so much in the commitment of just doing the work (without anything required outside of this), as everything else will naturally fall into place. Why try to act in the world according to the "will" of Ma or Shiva (or those who tell us what the will entails) when one can become that very "will"? This way, your whole life is "spiritual" and you can be eating chips while watching some crappy TV show, and it is still a spiritual endeavor. The Guru can show you this because if you get close enough, you'll see the Guru doing "mundane" things. Then you'll either doubt the Guru or understand.
I strongly believe that some measure of non-dual realization is important before embarking on the Tantric path. It is often forgotten that Tantra is considered the highest path, so there should be some "space" generated through previous contemplation and meditation. In the Tibetan Buddhist system, one often moves through the Hinayana and Mahayana before entering Vajrayana. Before entering the Vajrayana, one also has to go through an addition sadhana of purification. Ideally, there should be a similar progression (of concentration and meditation if not name) when approaching the Kaula based traditions. The Hinayana is marked by contemplations which makes one come into touch with deep sincerity and a firmness of determination. The Mahayana is marked by meditation/contemplation of non-duality ("emptiness") and compassion. On the flip side, Tantrics view matters in terms of energy, so the view is optimistic and regards what might be called attachments as potential sources of liberated energy. So one can bring many attachments (emotions, thoughts etc.) or afflictions to the path, and these can be used and transformed. It is best if there is the wisdom that understands this and the space given for this type of transformation already within the potential sadhak. This sort of transmutation of desire is of a very particular brand and is much different then the rubbish that seems to spring from the thoughts "hey, we're indulgent morons, so lets just fully embrace this fact, and call it tantra".
Having "good" roots before entering the Tantric path will allow one to move much more smoothly and understand the inner postures in the correct way. This means that the Tantric processes are in conjunction with ones life processes. This is the "art" of the Tantric path, and without this the endeavor (even if sincere) would be at the level of Bhakta. This is not to disparage the great tradition and potential of the Bhakta path, but for the Tantric path there cannot by "you" and "the divine" (or even you "trying" to become/internalize the divine). It must be one. When its One then one can be a bhakta if they like. With true non dual realization then one can split and not be sliced, and need not conform to "ideas" or semantic boxes about what non duality is/means (anybody who refuses to use a personal pronoun must have a tenuous grip on that wisdom). People often enquire about what they should do to prepare to move on the Tantric path. They often are doing some mantra or want some mantra, but this is usually not what is vital at that time. One should become extremely serious (for this the contemplation would be death, the cycle of suffering, and ones genuine opportunity) and one should become clear (for this the contemplation is the nature of "self" and/or the nature of Being). If these aspects (or contemplation) don't resonate with someone, then they are a fetishist and not fit for the work. If one isn't interested in Truth, Reality, and the energetic integrity of manifesting those inherent qualities, then I really don't understand what they would want in this path.
The turning around of the awareness or simply resting in undifferentiated awareness will create the "space" in the potential sadhak. This wisdom has been turned for people in various ways and the texts and teaching on the wisdom are plentiful. The good thing about the abundance of information is that it is available, but the bad aspect is that people become hardened to it. The difference between successful sadhaks and those who are always griping about how "that didn't work" etc., is the the good sadhak takes things to heart and dives into them one hundred percent. Take a teaching like "turn the awareness around and investigate the nature of the "I"" This is a classic advaita meditation, but what do you do with it. One type says, "yes,yes, one looks for the "I" thought and it is not present...I've heard this before, what else you got". The other type turns the attention fully on this and will investigate (and not stop) until they rip apart the fabric of space/time itself. Take the teaching on unconditional love and compassion. One type will say, "yes, yes, we should all love unconditionally and have compassion, this is a very beautiful sentiment...you know I am very loving." The other type will meditate on it so much that they become love itself and shine like the sun. So while everybody is waiting around for that "secret" teaching or most powerful mantra, the true sadhaks are living the secrets by taking up fully what is already available.
If the realization of ones true nature is not apparent, then one may not be able to do anything about it directly (as any contrived "force" may only perpetuate ego). What one can do is relax,open, and surrender. One has to relax the grip on self (as personality), open to the possibility that there is "something" greater, and surrender the need to always know. Ones true nature is the freedom that people are looking for, and this is the cosmic joke. So one need not "become" anything other than what they are, so it is just a matter of removing the obstructions to this inherent wisdom. Wheather the essence of ones true nature is apparent or not, likely one will need to use the sword of wisdom (through subtle awareness) to deal with the parts of ones being that are contracted or in tension. So one can open and soften, then look for any "sticky" places. One only need to bring these contracted "spots" into the light of awareness and they will dissolve. There is usually no need to take an approach which investigates the "why's" of these places, as this usually just starts the cycle of thought and attachment. It will suffice to see them in the raw form (without any "story" attached to it), and this will pluck at the root. Just relax into being and surrender the tensions.
In Tantra, one no longer "surrenders" but take up the posture of victory. Also, one takes on a "tension" (of sort), so one cannot just wet noodle things on this path. The "tension" would be the energetic frequency/vibration that the sadhak embodies. If the energetic pathways are cleared of previous tensions, then one can better assimilate the "new" currents. This embodying is not a "becoming", but rather an expressing. The Ishta is not "other", but the enlightened form of your true nature. Some Tantrics will talk in terms of "other" (and some students may need to think in those terms), but this is a way of speaking and/or an expression of humility.
NOTE: I just sort of free styled this post, and will do so more on the blog page. I'll include more short essays (or just thoughts) and tell some stories etc. More formal articles will sometimes be included or some may just go to the website. Less formal (and less thought out) posts will allow me to post more often though.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Tarapith is a unique place and the shamshan is viewed like a temple. Of course, there is the main temple to Tara outside the shamshan, but visitors often walk the cremation grounds with the same reverence. Tarapith has the feel of the sacred, but also there is a wild and ominous feel to the place. The people who frequent the shamshan are a mixed bag. Some people are just crude blowhards, some are sincere, and some are sincere and crude blowhards. The form of Bhairava with Ma Tara is Unmattananda (mad/crazy), so those who work with Ugra Ma take up some of those qualities. The shamshan is usually crowded, but it is such a unique and powerful place that one is compelled to overlooks this fact and still want to do works there. It is one of the few Tantric Pithas where Tantrics don't have to be overly coy. The lessons of Vaishtha are well regarded, and the lesson was that one approaches Tara from the left.
We had a crew that would go to Tarapith, for some trips the cast would be different, but always it included Jagu Baba, Baban (Kohinoor Roy), and me. We formed a nice Chakra and understood each other well. Baban and I would sometimes go during the day to do our works, but most of the activity took place at night. We would go sit directly on burn sites (cheetah) or on top of burials, but sometimes people would get pissed. As the night fell, we would make our way to the shamshan.
As one enters the shamshan (or from one of the ways to enter), there is a temple samadhi for the great Bam Dev (Bamakhepa). Every time I would pranam there and be hit with an almost tangible wave of shakti and blessing. The final bodies of the day would often be burning when we arrived, and we would sit near one of the main sites. Because of the traffic in the shamshan, one had to claim ones space. When the funeral party had left, the doms would collect the wood from the funeral pyres and then sell them to the likes of us.
The time at Tarapith was often an intense time with little sleep and much work. I would get into my own bhava there, and there were plenty of other characters to make things interesting. On one occasion when we sat for the night, we had a fire, and I was so concentrated that I saw nothing else. It was quite surprising to hear that many people (pilgrims) came to our site, as I didn't notice anybody. On another occasion, the three of us were sitting, when it came time to do the special puja (panchatattva). One fellow came out of the darkness and into our space. He presented us with a skull and quickly moved along. Jagud Baba Aghroi gave the kapala a whack with the fire tongs and it split into three parts. We each had a section and took Ma's prasad from this. I had this skull with me for a long time.
A lady came and sat at our fire once. She placed a fruit on the precipice of the fire pit and sat with her side facing the middle. I was told to offer her this and that, but the lady was ignoring me. Finally, we invoked the Goddess in her and offered her some food with great devotion, and she was forced to break her concentration and take it. The fruit that she placed stayed on the precipice without falling into the fire. Had it done so, then our works would have gone toward her aims, and she wanted somebody dead. This lady followed us around for several days, but we ignored her.
After one long night in the cremation grounds, we made our way to the main temple. There was already a crowd, so we got the attention of one of the temple priests. He wanted a nice chunk of money to take us to the main shrine. He wouldn't let us near him, as he was afraid to let us touch him. We haggled a bit, but the fellow was overly greedy. We went back to our room and sat Chakra for more works. Jagu Baba said, "I don't care about the temple, but I though Kaal should at least go in since he comes from so far". I was in a wild state as usually while there and said, "I don't care either, let Ma leave that temple and come here with us." After saying this, the presence of Tara filled the room in an amazing way. We were all moved by this gesture.
Finally, I did make it into the shrine. There is a special shrine that contains what many believe is the "real" image of Tara. It is a small stone, and the stone is naturally shaped like Ma holding Unmattananda as a child to her bosom. Some temple fellow came to our room to "negotiate" a visit. I have little use for temples because of the greedy morons who call themselves priest or pujaris. In the popular temples, one is not given any time to appreciate the atmosphere anyway. You are rushed in, extorted for money, and out you go. Sometimes one can find an old and powerful temple that people don't know about, and then it is useful to spend time and assimilate the energy of such a place.
My visit to the inner sanctum of Tarapith came after having been there a few day. I was spending most of my time in the shamshan and hadn't slept much. While in the shamshan and not sleeping, I was involved in what in conventional terms would be described as a bender. The visit was arranged so that we came in the early morning, and we came straight from the cremation grounds. At Tarapith, there is an echo through out the night from the different sadhaks. Someone yells, "Jai Tara", and anther sadhu yells it back. Every so often someone will break off a "TARAAAAAK" for Mahadeva. I had a famous "Jai Tara", which I wouldn't do when asked, but would yell when people were not expecting it. I would reach from the depths of silence and explode a fierce "Jai Tara", and people would jump and be afraid. So that night, I was really in the bhava, was covered in cremation ash, had a bottle I was carrying around etc. So in this condition, I went into the temple. On the way out, there was some fellow giving everyone a tilak. So I approach and the guy just looks at me. I growl at the poor man that he had better give me my tilak right away. Outside, I am still in my fierce mood, and I tell Baban that the priest didn't want to give me a tilak, and I'm ranting and raving. He started laughing and said, "brother, he was not trying to spite you, he didn't know where to put it." I didn't understand, so he took me to a reflective surface and said "look". I started to laugh now because I had forgotten that my whole face was covered in ash.
I liked to go to the Tarapith shamshan, and I would find a corner away from the fires and people. There I would do my works internally. When I would do one inner mudra in particular, I would get surrounded by subtle entities. The atmosphere becomes charged and a bit ominous, and the entities begin to whisper/hiss things to you. They try to shake you or make you loose confidence. It is not clear always exactly what any presence is. If you move close to power and/or perform forceful actions/inner mudras, then one has to deal with this sort of thing. Sometimes the forces can be of the mandala of your own Ishta, and these energies are protecting the integrity of the "space" by testing a sadhak (or just the presence of power may cause strange feelings and ego fear). Sometime it may be obstructing forces,entities looking to feed off the energy or just irritated that a forceful mudra "stirred" the subtle realm. Since it is often unclear, it is best to not interact and/or be moved. Just continue with the work and keep you eye on the Ultimate.
During a homa at Tarapith, it came time to throw a coin into the fire. This is the dakshina part of the ritual. So I took my coin and said, "Here Ma, you take this, you can have the money, I only care about Truth and freedom." Thus thinking, I tossed the coin in with some passion. I had a copper patra with me that I was using to drink from, and Jagu Baba noticed something in it. We looked, and there was a coin in it. Jagu Baba Aghori said it was a great sign and meant big things for me. From that point, I did not earn one cent for almost two years. The sankulp was for Truth and Freedom, so Ma gave me my change, and had a little laugh as well. I still have that patra and the coin:)
The Sage Vasishta performed the mantra of Tara with great vigor and dedicated himself fully to it. He performed great sadhanas, but was unsuccessful in his efforts. Frustrated at the lack of success, he cursed the Goddess and her Mantra, saying that nobody would succeed with it. Ma Tara appeared and explained that to be successful in her Vidya, one must use the left hand means (Mahachina methods). The Sage Vasishta succeeded in the work and felt bad for the curse he placed. He added a letter to Tara's bija, and blessed that bija saying that one will find quick success with it. Walking the path of Tara can be daunting because this is a impetuous and fickle energy, and there are blessings and curses. Sometimes if you want a blessing, you have to get a curse.
There are so many stories from Tarapith, but what stays with one is the powerful presence of Tara. At Tarapith, she is UgraTara, the fierce form, but is also an ocean of compassion. This rough aspect is in service to the needs of the sadhaks who approach. What is the greater expression of compassion when one is suffering, to calmly smile and say "hang in there" or to ruthlessly destroy the roots of affliction?
Sunday, September 6, 2009
One did not usually see bums in the mountain town where I was living. The small city was about nine thousand feet above sea level, but was still surrounded by the higher peaks of the Rockie Mountains. A bit away from the city, I had been renting a very small cabin which was above the road leading into Rockie Mountain National Park. One day, there was a motorcade on the road bellow me which was escorting the newly elected president to the Park. This was presumably to "clear some brush" and have a nice rugged picture taken. I simply watched from the higher ground since I had neither the manpower nor means for a coup at that point. It was only a month or so later that the fellow from the motorcade would have to deal with issues larger than brush. But the main point here was that in this location, presidents and secret service aside, one did not normally see bums.
Breaking the routine dictated by a reclusive nature, I went into the town for a shopping excursion. There was a little strip of stores with a parking lot, and I pulled in. Sitting in the car, I notice that there is a lady sitting on a bench outside one of the stores. She looks plenty the worse for wear with dirty cloths and hair that is in serious need of a wash and comb. She also looks quite crazy and seems to be talking to herself. Because of the utter strangeness of the seen and the location, I decide that this is fate and too good a chance to pass up. I get out of the car and walk slowly toward the lady displaying the caution of approaching a wild animal. I decide to just walk by first and test things, but as I am about to go past she yells, "hey...it's ok, come and sit down." I walk over and sit down next to her with the conviction that I should be truly open and take whatever is given. She is clearly drunk and pulls out a bottle "you want a drink". I say, "Ah, no thank you, I'm good". "Hahaha, your good, don't be such a pussy." She has a bitter note and the effect of the drink is giving her a belligerent tone. Nevertheless, I just stay open and passive. She begins to size me up saying some good things for a while and then starts to brutally put me down. "You have a big noose" she says, "you must have been lying hahaha, I should smash your noose, how would you like that." This continues for a while, and I remain completely open and take all the barbs without moving in my Being. Finally, seeing that all the energy has settled, I rise to take my leave. I walk a few feet, turn around and say "Jai Ma". She beams a divine smile of recognition, then she frowns and says "fuck off".
Friday, August 28, 2009
"You should take the words 'birth and death' and paste them on your foreheads, and seek a clear insight into them." Wuzu Fayan
The simple wisdom that you will die, when fully taken to heart, can have great impact and import in a persons life and development. The person who are willing to meet Death will become a person of great wisdom and integrity. For those whose passion is for nothing less than complete awakening; Death is a gate which must be walked through. Those who enter the spiritual path coming through this gate are high quality sadhaks who will be solid, intense, sincere to the core, and understand the urgency and immediacy of the work. The Tantric work should not be flimsy little flights, but rather be grounded and very "Real", and Death (maybe paradoxically) is a spiritually grounding force. This means that what is done (sadhanas etc.) is very much in relation to the persons Being (as Death brings a sort of organic relation into ones spirituality).
"O Yama, material things endure only a short time. They quickly loose luster. Even the longest life is brief indeed. Keep all transient gifts and reveal the truth of death." Nachiketa Katha Upanishad
Meeting Death is decidedly not taking up some notion of what death is or means. It is not even some metaphysical insight which sees through and/or transcends the phenomena. Death must be met nakedly, and to be truly naked one should not wear armors of beliefs. One must let the gut punch of Death hit you and fully be open to that force without "hiding" behind any concepts. One may have various notions about Death, but be willing to put these aside and see for yourself. Like a scientist who does an experiment, one does not want to interject anything which will taint the result. To face Death like this, one must be open to the possibility that they will not like what they find out. It seems likely that people intuit that they will not like what they find out, which accounts for the nonsense that people will take up and go through to avoid a true encounter. However, those who are willing to try this experiment will have a gift for their whole lives, and the gift will make them as serious as a heart attack until they have a serious heart attach.
"Death is the desolate experience in which our habitual patterns cannot continue as we would like them to....A new force, a new energy, takes us over, which is 'deathness', or discontinuity. It is impossible to approach that discontinuity from any angle. That discontinuity is something you cannot communicate with, because you cannot please that particular force. You cannot make friends with it, you can't con it, you can't talk it into anything. It is extremely powerful and uncompromising." Chogyam Trungpa
Death is a great guide to the sadhak and can reveal many things. For one, just the experience of the annihilating force of Death can open one up into true realization. In this capacity, the guiding force reveals all that is not permanent where upon the sadhak of subtle mind may drop all attachments and truly "see" the heart of Being. "Bumping" into Death while taking ones previous insights and realizations may prove that these "revelations" cannot stand up against this force, and that matters must be taken to a deeper level. So in this way, Death acts as the test of any insight and/or a barometer of those realizations. One understands that ultimately, Death is the "one" who will be the judge of these things. So the person who understands this will be disinclined to give much concern over the thoughts and opinions of other people. This in itself avoids all kinds of non-sense and spiritual materialism. When at a crossroads in life, it is instructive to "go" to your time of Death and make the decision from there. Death is a giver a much broader perspectives, and much of the muck that people get involved with is mainly do to lack of perspective. So we are not talking about any belief in Death as some entity, but we are talking about your real and inevitable Death.
"Ask advice from your death...An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you. How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us?" Journey to Ixtlan
To be a true Tantric, one must be largely dead. The Kaulas say: "First bring Death to the path, then bring Life." The "person" has to be to a large extent seen through (and since the "person" is seen to be transparent and without substance; this can be called dead). From Death, one simply IS the light of consciousness, and it is from "here" that the Ishta and mandala come forth into birth. In many Tantric sadhanas, there exists a "death" process followed by a rebirth process. One goes through the process of the elements and consciousness dissolving, and then generates the "pure" seeds (bijas) and is born from this. First the seeds, then the rupa. In the experienced Kaula, there is a continual pulse of life and death with the pulse of life being the Ishta and the pulse of death coming from the sword of wisdom that cuts off heads (ego, attachments, identifications, projections etc). The Tantric makes the discontinuous force continuous, and this is the "ground" of the Ishta. Like the import that death represents, the Ishta is only meaningful (in Tantra) when it is very real and deeply related to aspects viewed in ones "own" Being. This "relating" (and also not avoiding) brings spirituality "home", and it is ruthlessly "in your face" (is your face in fact).
Often I hear from people who are interested in Tantra. Sometimes one is just interested in the forms, or often one expresses interest in some deity. There is often interest in sadhanas or aspects of manifesting power. All this is a many respects limiting. All that is of concern is Truth and Reality, which comes from the real impulses surrounding the mysteries of Being (ie Life and Death). One should only be loyal to this sincerity of the heart, which is the unquenchable fire the consumes the rest of the frills, pomp, and rubbish that may surround "spirituality". All this is to say that one needs to get in touch with the organic qualities that give a true sincerity. Let Death give you a nice slap and don't move from it. If you don't move long enough, then no doubt you will be a sincere sadhak. Then people can run off about this or that, and you will not be moved around. When opportunities present themselves, you will not waste them. For sure, (if you desire)you will encounter a true Guru. You will also be able to understand the Ishta from the center of your Being, with the Ishta existing as the center of your Being. And when you die, if you have woven the discontinuous, then the Ishta will be continuous. As for you...your screwed. Hahaha... Understand!
The cremation grounds are places of crossroads which are important pithas to sadhaks. Here the reality of death becomes a sensory experience that cannot be easily avoided. The shamshana is also a place of power and transformation, which are two qualities/forces that the Tantric seeks out. Becoming acquainted with the uncompromising force of death makes the sadhak steely and uncompromising. Putting oneself in the path of power makes one either stupid or powerful. When dealing with power (shakti), one should have subtle intuition which instructs action. One should understand timing, when to make a stand, when to hit and run, when to hold em and when to fold em. There should be a sense of openness and abandon, but this should not be haphazard and coarse. Jagud Baba Aghori was a master teacher of these principles (although never verbally), and revealed the dynamics and terms of encountering Shakti.
The Shamshana has a subtle atmosphere and the subtle/ethereal realms are more accessible in these grounds. As previously stated, Death is a grounding force that brings the realities to bear. So when you combine the qualities of subtlety with grounding, these are ideal conditions for true spirituality and transformation. In essence, this is much of what the Tantra marga is all about. For the sadhaks whose Ishta's are closely associated with cremation grounds, there is a communion of access (being this is where this energies concentrate or dwell) and "identification" (as being in the dwelling opens greater resonance of Ishta AS sadhak). The vira may also refine raw shakti and transmute this into the enlightened expression of the Ishta (or this energies become part of the "extended" mandala).
Many Vira sadhanas are such because the sadhak is making a ruthless gesture toward power. The gesture is ruthless not against others, but rather one makes a naked and dispassionate move of profound association. It is also ruthless because it is not sentimental about the forms and convention/attachment that people are normally sentimental about (most notably people tend to be sentimental about themselves). When performing Shava sadhana for example, the sadhak to the seat upon all mortality and impermanence and physically associates with this. This is a sadhana of ruthlessness which explains the power of these things as much as any "magic". Those places within us that make us squirm are often the untapped resources of bliss and liberation. The ultimate force that makes us squirm is Death, so why mess about with the branches and leaves when one can go to the root of matters. This is not a morbid endeavor, but rather leads to fearlessness and freedom. When it's all said and done, we must meet Death, we must meet ourselves.
"Let what comes come, let what goes go, find out what remains" Ramana Maharshi
Friday, June 12, 2009
"Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheshvara
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Tasmai Shri Gurave namaha"
The Guru principle is a great mystery even in many respects from the Guru him/her self. The various texts and tantras that speak of Guru in great terms (many times in greater terms than the Devatas) are speaking about the phenomenon of the "Guru" rather then any "person" as Guru figure. Never the less, there is such a person as Guru, which the sadhak views in the highest terms of the profound "Guru principle", and actions flow as such. So you see....quite a mystery! This is not to suggest that anybody can just take up such a role and this principle will function, but there is a aspect of the whole being greater then the sum of the parts. This means that the Guru acting/being as Guru is much more than what the Kaula (as idividuated entity/sadhak/adept) can spiritually account for. As such, "The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru is Lord Shiva, The Guru in actuality is the ultimate divinity beyond Brahma, so we bow to the Guru."
The Tantric Guru is a "live wire" with the current being the line of Gurus and the Tantric deities. The Tantric Guru not only represents the "Guru principle", but is an embodiment of the Deity. "Devata is the same as mantra, mantra is the same as Guru; the fruit of puja of Guru is Guru, Devata, and Mantra." (Yogini Tantra) The Guru is an embodied principle, and the Tantric process is an embodying one, so the Guru is of even greater importance in the Tantric path. Many masters have said, "The Guru is Tantra". One cannot understand Guru, but can only become One with Guru. Then one can not understand in confidence and peace:)
The Tantric Guru is an ultimate friend, but a very dangerous friend. The Tantric Guru is a Tiger who endeavors to devour you, and the Tantric path is said to be like walking on a razor blade. Because the path is sharp and the dangers perilous, the Guru must be even sharper and more dangerous. The Guru has very little sentiment for "you" as such, and is only interested in the divine nature within (and exposing notions of "you" as fraudulent). The way that the "you" is dealt with is a spontaneous expression that is appropriate to situation. The Guru can relate rationally, but is not a rational Being. If you don't have a little fear of Guru, then you either don't understand Guru or understand quite well. Guru will give you what you need, not what you want. And if Guru gives you something, then be sure to take it. "The Guru can save a disciple when even the Devatas cannot." (Yogini Tantra)
The Guru often works on a very subtle level, and can be quite inconspicuous. So often the sadhak is not aware of all that the Guru is doing. Many of the best Gurus work quite subtly and with a gentle touch, so the scenes of people contorting, shaking, or otherwise looking stupid are not a sign that anything truly profound is occurring. It is a sign that the energy is not very subtle and that the people can't handle it. These sort of phenomena are fleeting and usually are just an experience. The more profound process involves a delicate hand which plants and nurtures seeds which grow AS the sadhak (rather than something experienced BY a sadhak). The Guru is a light breeze through the heart which cannot be pinned down, and is a constant source of refreshment. If the heart of the work was just based on some experience, than one can add it to the long list of experiences through the untold long wheel of existence. (Maybe one can add the title "spiritual experience" to it, but it is really only an experience, and all experience is spiritual anyway.)
As the first paragraph suggests, the Guru works for the disciple in many ways which are beyond an "individual" intention of the Guru (this means the "mysterious" Guru principle acts from some level). But the Guru works in other ways which can be considered intentional, although it should be stated that even this sort of intention is often an expression of a spontaneous and a "inspired" perspective. Foremost, the Guru gives the work and plants the enlightened seeds of the work. It is also up to the sadhak to cultivate and nurture these seeds by being faithful to the process. The Guru may "take on" some of the problematic energies of the student and work through these him/her self, or may sit in the configuration of the disciples awareness/energy and do the work as the disciple (or for them from their unique situation). The sadhak should seek to reach complete accord with the Guru, and this means that one can "view" oneself As Guru with complete integrity of awareness and energy. It should be added that being in accord (with Guru, Ishta, Mantra etc.) lacks the "entertaining" qualities that many sadhaks seek (as the seeking is often of awareness/energies that are alien to what is present..As Is), and integrity with certain principles and energies is like integrity with ones heartbeat. Any "movement", experience of difference (different then "what" one "normally" Is/feels etc.) or even profound feeling of "otherness" (even if one could qualify this as important spiritually etc.) is not accord. Being in accord is tacit, without reflection, and just commonly apparent. To this point, when one begins a mula mantra, it is more likely that there will be feeling, experiences, and that the sadhak will have the impression that "things are really happening". However, after the mantra is worked with over a period, one may find some doubt and/or discouragement because there are not these same types of feelings accompanying sadhana. This is not a bad sign, but rather may indicate that these energies have been properly assimilated and "taken up". Therefore, one doesn't feel or experience what they ARE, as they simply ARE THAT.
Just the view of the Guru can have great effects for the disciple, and the Guru give a strong acknowledgment to the divine nature within the sadhak, as well as "projects" the enlightened form. The force of the Gurus intent is such that by seeing the student as the Ishta, the disciple begins to become that and see themselves as such. The projection of the Guru is a Nyasa and the "image" and energies conform to the force of this Will. The Guru destroys and generates at the same time, and this kriya in itself is the Tantric process.
The Tantric Guru is not a source of just peace, but is an irritant to the disciple. People become all to comfortable in the little boxes that they create for themselves, and the Guru takes away these comforts and the "hiding places" of the bound ego self. In actuality there is no ego self, and these concepts when investigated are utterly transparent. Yet, it is because of this transparent nature that the ego self is very clever and shifty. The Guru takes away the hiding places and the disciple thus naked must face things in a completely "raw" way. This can be like exposing an open nerve, and ultimately the disciple must be on board and face things openly. The Guru may cause certain things in the sadhaks life to come to a head, which may be another irritant, but this is only to clear the ground and remove obstructions.
In many ways, the Tantric Guru acts as a mirror for the disciple and reflects back what the disciple puts forth. So the Guru in this context is not a salve for the person, but an uncompromising reflection grounded in integrity. The disciple can then either acknowledge or squirm, and the Guru will let you squirm until you relax into Being and acknowledgment.
One should not use convention to judge the actions of the Guru, nor should one assume that the Guru reasons, thinks, and discerns like themselves. On the flip side, one shouldn't think that everything the Guru says has some profound hidden meaning. However, there is always profound hidden meaning in "what" (relating to essence rather than subjectivity) is saying the words. Sometimes the Guru will avoid "spiritual" topics and just converse on the mundane and other banalities in order for the sadhak to see the spiritual is "present" in all and to help the student stop making splits (or just do so because they feel like it). Some Tantric Gurus have a reputation of being playful and irreverent, and these qualities can be a natural expression of the Ishta, as well as teaching tools. Some Gurus have a "mad" and wild way of Being which breaks all conventions of what "spiritual person" should look and sound like, while others have these qualities inside and mask them. The way these things come about is not some choice that is made.
The Tantric Guru is unique because there is not really "a teaching", and the Tantric path is interested in the experience much more than any elucidation of concepts. This is in accord with the idea of letting experience inform the context. Any teaching is only an expedient to this aim, and the expedient means would differ based upon need. Many of the aims of the Guru are conveyed without words and the knowledge comes in a osmosis of organic relation and relating.
One often sees discussion about "deciding on a Guru", and this concept I do not understand in the least. It is understandable that one wants a Guru, but then someone is either Guru or not. What is this decision? The other question often discussed is "how to tell a Real Guru"? You can't, unless you can. Many Tantra texts speak about the qualities of a true Guru, but one must be able to discern these things without relying upon postures and conventions. This is particularly true when dealing with Kaula Tantrics because they may or may not conform to images of spirituality. "The Kaula Guru may be like a child, a madman, a king, or like a drunk, independent minded, like a great hero, like a celestial singer, or as a naked person, seem like a fraud or like a profiteer, the way of action is according to the bhava which stems from the knowing/union of Shiva and Shakti (as natural uncontrived expression as That Will)." (Kaula Jnana Nirnaya) Ultimately, who one engages with is a reflection of one's own level of sincerity, commitment, and integrity. So "real" sadhaks (or potential sadhaks) get "real" Guru's. If you are doubting the Guru, then in many ways you are doubting yourself. If there is some lengthy decision process surrounding whether to engage with someone, then they are likely not your Guru (or you are just very indulgent). The coming to Guru is just natural and smoothly apparent, and situation help makes things so (who is encountered at what time etc.).
Some people don't like the Guru part of the equation or don't really buy into notions of the subtle aspects of this engagement. So leaving aside all the "mystical" stuff, at the very least the Guru represents someone who has traveled the path before you and can provide advice on your journey. Moreover, the Guru will provide the confidence that one is doing the sadhanas in the proper way. Then the student can throw oneself into the works without worrying that they are moving properly. One need not be (or become) a sniveling sycophant in order to have a Guru, and a good Guru would not allow one to become a weak "dependent" sort. This is particularly true in Tantra, where one is expected to come into the confidence and divine regal posture of the Ishta. The Tantric Guru's art (and the sadhaks endeavor) is the simultaneous use of the sword of wisdom which both kills and gives life. In doing both the sadhak moves in Victory, and is not some head hanging, feet shuffling, limp, ass kisser. The Guru should help bring Victory and is met in this Victory.
Every Tantric text has reference to the Guru, and often when even presenting a sadhana/mantra etc. the text begins "having received this from the Guru". Many works are readily available nowadays, but that does not mean that it is "known". Rather one can say they "know of" the work, as the true nature (awaken seeds) of the work only manifest through Guru. So it is hard to imagine a qualified argument (in accord with tradition) that supposes that the Guru is not important to Tantra (or that some Guru-less work is Tantra). And the Guru almost always needs to be embodied/alive in human form. We can exclude some avatars (such as Dattatreya), but even these great Beings looked upon the elements of creation as Guru. Likely though, you are not Dattatreya and shouldn't use him as a barometer.
Ramakrishna was a divine Being who had a profound inner connection with Ma, but he was not really involved in the Tantric path (although he was clearly a saint with "tantric like" elements and bhavas). Now this Paramahamsa got it in his mind to learn about the Tantric path (which in itself suggests that he wasn't to this point a Tantric), and one must confess that he had a pretty close relation with Ma. So why did he not just learn from her? Why was Bhairavi Brahmini brought to him for this aim? For Tantra there is embodied Guru, even for one such as this. People will usually avoid discomfort, and it is the very alive presence of the Guru which will make the sadhak face these areas and push them towards the requite realizations. So taking long dead saints as Guru or taking some dream experience as Diksha is often a bit suspect. I don't like to place limits upon the limitless, nor slander people who sincerely came through this kind of means, but rather suggest that the clearest course (and the traditionally suggested course) involves the interaction with a living manifest Guru. This discourse of the great aspect of the Guru and the importance of Guru is also not any indictment upon the very real insights, realizations, and the sincere compassionate hearts of individuals who do not have a Guru. However, for people such as these, the Guru may be the final push one needs to break all bounds, and as it specifically relates to the Tantric path, to truly live in/as ones deepest wisdom.
"The form of Guru is the object of meditation, the feet of Guru the object of puja, the words of the Guru are the mantra, and the grace of the Guru is liberation" (Guru Gita)
Jai Ma! Jai Guru!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
"The pleasure of partaking Kula-dravyas from those in the Kaula system is in reality emancipation...This is the Truth." Kularnava Tantra
"That which produces bliss should be used in worship since it ravishes the heart" Tantraloka
The Panchatattva (five elements/principles) ritual is sometimes called Panchamarkara because the elements used in the puja all begin with the letter "M" (in sanskrit). Some suggest that this teaching is only for symbolic purposes, and ONLY represents an inner Yogic function. In this theory, there should not be any literal partaking of the various substances (which translate to English as: wine/liquor, meat, fish, dry grain, and sexual union), and doing so is some kind of perversion of the Tantras intent. This view fails to realize certain aspects of the Tantric path, most notably that the sadhak makes the symbolic literal by assuming the mudra of the Ishta. Therefore, any distinction between the "divine" aspects of "inner" Being and the "mundane" aspects of ones embodied expression are destroyed. So the Tantric becomes the living breathing "Yoga" as a whole Being, rather than just some "internal" process of such.
Those whose argument is that aspects represented in the Panchatattva offerings are only symbolic for the Yoga of working with the five elements internally have a historical problem as well. The offering grouped as five is a relatively recent phenomenon with early Tantras having three aspects of the ritual as prominent (namely liquor, meat, and union). So either our forefathers were only composed of three elements, or there are other aspects to the ritual. My view is that there are certainly other aspects, and like most tantric practices, there are levels and layers of meaning.
The ground of the practice is the fructified mantra and pitha that is made not only to exist within the subtle body, but as previously stated, is the life expression itself. For the offering to have the intended purpose, the sadhak, the Ishta, and the Guru, must be realized and assimilated as One. "In complete unity with Guru, Deva, and Mantra; the Kaula should keep on drinking until exhilaration". (KT) When this is the case, all considerations of inner and outer and personal "self" and divine "self" fade; leaving only the offering which is the inherent magnanimous nature that simply IS. When this understanding is tacitly apparent, the the lines that divide are transcended and any action on the "external" environment is in accord with That. Taking the Karan (liquor) from this perspective belongs to the work of Heros (Viras). "One who keeps concentrated even after drinking strong spirits is called a Kaulika". (KT)
The liquor is offered as amrita, and according to tradition, the curses of Brahma, Shukra, and Krishna are removed. The curses were placed on liquor for the same reasons that people have cursed it. Someone got overflowed with Skakti and acted out and created some mischief. But one thing is certain, liquor is filled with Shakti (and it stimulates ones own Shakti), and the sadhak of awareness can harness and use this energy for higher purposes. Then one becomes like Shiva-Bhairava and cannot be moved by various energetic manifestation. "Madya is a form of Bhairava-deva; Madya is called Shakti; one who drinks Madya attracts the Devatas". (KT) This Kaula knows how to approach Sudhadevi, and that is why liquor is called "Tara in liquid form". So the view is both of an offering (as amrita) to the Ishta as Self, as well as an imbibing of Shakti in liquid form, and the better the sadhak, the more multifaceted ones view of the offering becomes (without conflict). "One who drinks the kula-dravyas by mantra and offered to Guru and Devata, for that one there is no rebirth". (KT)
The offering can also be seen as an inner Homa ritual. The Karan (name that Tantrics use for liquor) generates Shakti which generates heat. The nervous system of the sadhak gets used to the increase of energy and then reaches the point where the energy "intake" can be handled (without feeling overly heated). Never the less, the Karan can be seen in the light of a homa in two ways. It is offered into the "fire" of Truth within the sadhak, and it also increases the fire within, so that the edible aspects of the puja are offered into that "fire" as well. The offering is also a Tarpana, an Abhishek, and a ritual feeding. For those who know the process of purushcharana, which fructifies the works of the sadhak, you will understand the profound implications of what this all means.
There are various kinds of Karan which can be used, and some Tantras go into detail about different types (and some Tantras even give recipes). In actual practice, anything will usually do. "However it is produced, and from whoever it is bought, when purified, it gives the Kaula all Siddhi." (MT) At least one edible should be present when taking the Karan, the best of which is meat. The meat most commonly used in India is goat, but other meats can be substituted. Meat offering will also serve the view of the Bali offering, which represents the life flow. When the sadhak performs the prana pratishtha, the life of the Ishta is established within, and the meat offering is the offering of prana to the Devi. Moreover, the offering of a Pusha is the laying down of the animal traits before one's Divine nature (which the Ishta represents). The best kind of patra for offering the Karan is Kapala, otherwise a patra of Gold, Silver, or Copper can be used. (Copper tends to bleed though). "Lifting the patra, the sadhak should remember the mula mantra and the Gurus paduka". (KT)
One who moves using these means (or wishes to) should be aware of several things. The sadhak has to be very solid and not easily moved, as this path is filled with certain dangers. By its very nature, this work is a forceful kriya, and the subtle realm gets irritated with (subtle) forceful actions, so the sadhak should be prepared to face obstructions. If the sadhak is of unbending intention and pure sincerity, then this is the ultimate kavach for these obstruction, and there is no problem. Once this path is started though, it must be seen through. Because in this path one moves quickly, one must be prepared for an intensification of all aspects (both "good" and "bad"), so one cannot be swayed be emotions, experiences, or act out. The work is not only an offering to the Ishta, but will also establish that energy more and more. It is of extreme importance that the sadhak not let the ego take the throne or assume some "alter" ego as Ishta. This is a subtle point but an important one. Ishta takes form from ego, not ego takes on Ishta. When moving quickly (like using these means), one's vigilance on this matter must be even sharper, and one must cut off the head of ego when it arises (and don't like it hide in or as Ishta).
One who takes on the work with the use of Karan is done with any and all "casual" drinking. So if one is attached to these works because they like drinking, sex etc., and want some "spiritual" cover for these activities, then this type is out of luck. This work is great and profound and works on so many levels, and I've just scratched the surface. The common Wikipedia answers surrounding the Panchatattva simply do not measure up, nor does just saying "kundalini" over and over again. This ritual has nothing to do with notions of "breaking taboos and transgressing norms", and is an offering of great purity. This work absolutely must be received from tradition and from Guru, or the person will fall on their face. Most likely one will just become more of a pashu if these works are "dabbled" with, and they are meant for very serious sadhaks of a certain quality. For those who reach the pinnacle of these works and are fully initiated, there is no limit to the depths. "The pleasure derived by Kaulas by Divya-drinking in not even had by Kings."
"The perception/experience obtained by means of the particular object is not essentially different from that perception/experience which is obtained by its undifferentiated forms. Thus truly enjoyed, those who have taken the hero's vow are involved in the great ritual procedure." Tantraloka
KT= Kararnava Tantra
MT= Mahanirvana Tantra
Thursday, April 2, 2009
It seems counter intuitive that "some sound" can have profound meaning and revelatory capabilities. After all, there are about 300 billion star systems in this galaxy, with this galaxy being one of the hundreds of billions galaxies, and scientists seem to more and more suggest that this vast Universe may be one of many. Add to this vastness of space the mind boggling lengths of Time, and it can seem like an indulgence to think that repeating some syllables while stationed on a "tiny blue dot" can have much meaning. It is interesting that people often, when presented with the notions of the vastness of time and space, say that it makes one feel "small". If they took this "smallness" to heart (and to its extreme), then this same principle can make "one" feel vast. But this is a bit of a tangent, as what all this is setting up is the question of why Mantra contains true power and the resonance of primal reality.
It can be instructive to view the "individual" (and life itself) as a song. The Being itself is a kind of humming tune, which if looked into can provide insight into the various "notes" and "cords" of that particular "Hum". This vibration of Being is at a more fundamental level then the personality and its components (para ahamkara). There is both a "natural" vibration of the being, as well as the vibration of various aspects of the universe at large. It is nearly impossible to tell the inherent vibrational elements from those that "act upon" the individual, and this is because there (in Truth) is not any individual and that Being is not separate from the universal vibration (cosmic Being). This is why Vedic Astrology can be predictive. The vibrations of the planets play their "tune" into the person and add their flavor to the overall "song" of the life expression. Realization means seeing through all this manifest expression to the fundamental core, and Tantra means that if one is going to "be a song", then why not make that song be in accord with the highest realizations.
The seeds of these vibrations of Being represent "pure" manifestations of the deepest aspects of the Ultimate nature. All the expressive qualities of life and living come from these bijas, but as they travel through the various tattvas (or vibrate through), the "notes" become distorted. Most are probably aware of the seed sound of "OM" (and if you are a grubby hippie than you probably have a t-shirt with the Sanskrit syllable). This seed represents the primordial vibration, which is the substratum of Being, but there are other seeds of manifestation that the Tantric sadhak may make use of. The sadhak brings these seeds and there vibrational elements directly into contact (an to bear) with the Tattvas. I often say that Tantra represents a "top- down" approach, and this process would be a good illustration of this. These seeds are often associated with certain forms, as form follows seed (this is why the bija is "prior" to rupa, so with a Yantra one will have only the seeds within the pattern). With the song being the life, and the life being the universe, the manifestation of the pure song of one's life is the same as the purest song of the cosmic Being. But first, it is good that one "feels so small", as one should not use the Tantric process in a way that creates "another head" or in a way the "places the crown on the turd". This means first see through the song and then "sing" a true one. First bring death to the path, then bring Life.
Since we began with Science, let us end with it. It is of interest to note that the theories of astrophysics are becoming more and more wild. If some mystic were to suggest as many dimensions as "string theory", they would be called a complete nutter. For the purpose of this post, it is of interest to note that string theory gets its name from the idea that all manifest existence (at its manifest base) can be boiled down to tiny vibrating "strings" that "play the song of life". The debates in String Theory led also to what is called "M theory" which has as it main hypothesis that all manifest existence (although apparently separate) is in reality one giant "membrane" of Being. To me it makes no difference if some scientist says these things, as they are many thousands of years behind the Sadhus who grasped these things from the heart of there being. In fact, the scientists say certain things but have not really processed the implications in their own "subjective" microcosms. That means that they may see the song, but deep within, they still see it as somehow separate from their lives and themselves. But there is also the difference of seeing the song and singing it (being the pure song), and this illustrates the difference between the Tantric marga and other paths.
May your life be a good song and may the ultimate aspect of your being and heart sing it.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The shakti sidhi of Ma Bagalamukhi is the energy that "stops" and the energy that "nails", and these works can be of particular importance to the shamshan sadhak. This Vidya would work not only with the disturbances(ignorance, attachments, doubts, fears..etc.) within the sadhak, but also against any invasive energies/entities. (While the larger view makes no distinction with regard to inner and outer, for the purposes of expedience, it is most instructive to speak in these terms.) In some traditions, the sadhak makes a protective circle(kilana) while doing certain works, but some sadhaks who have confidence in the Vidya of Ma Bagala do not create that space. This is because the particular energies have been assimilated sufficiently to create a "standing current" of protection. The Kaula is always subjugating by the natural expression of one's Being and moving in victory.
Subjugation is of differing sorts, but the Kaula has subjugated the tendencies within that are sometimes called demons. The demons are represented in the great battle that the Goddess has with the forces of ego, ignorance, and attachment(this battle can be read in the Chandi Path/Durga Saptashati). The victory of the Tantric is the victory of the Goddess, and when That becomes the fabric of the sadhaks being; that aspect of subjugation would express itself on the environment(which becomes a part of the pitha of the Kaula). This form of subjugation would be in service to the highest principles of Truth, and in most regards would not carry any focused intention(ie. it is spontaneous). Sometimes if there is a very intrusive energy, the tantric will place some intention behind a specific subjugation. In these cases, the energy/entity would get what is coming to it, and there are many stories in Tantric lore(both Kaula and Vajrayana) of the Tantric subjugating a entity that is causing troubles. Yet even in these cases, it usually turns out well for the entity because they are being subjugated by the highest Reality. These energies usually turn into protectors, both of the sadhak and the path.
Unless one is really clear on matters, any work of intentional subjugation would create problems, and for the sadhak who has the highest goals of Realization these acts should be avoided. These works include the trapping of entities, making some person become bound to you, and other works that are for selfish gains. The aspect of "trapping" would be represented in the "Kilaya" siddhi, and before embarking on nailing down any entities, put the nail in the ignorance within. The process of the inner Bali offering first stops the ego from hiding(stambhaya), then nails it down(kilaya), and then with the knife of Truth....HUM. A nice offering for Ma...
The aspect of Kilaya(or Kilak) is neither "good" nor "bad", and has many variations within the Tantric path. For some mula mantras, there is a part of the mantra that is the Kilaka, and this would be the quality of the mantra that "nails or pins" the energy to the essence of the sadhak. Sometimes a curse is in the form of a Kilaya, and certain mantras act as the utkilana(removal of the nail/pin). (This would be the case for the Durga Shaptashati for example) For Yogis, there are said to be certain blocks within the central pathway which are like metaphysical kilayas, and it is my view that the consciousness itself has a kilak placed on it so that it identifies with the body.
I write on certain aspects that some feel shouldn't be publicly discussed, this is mainly due to the problems of someone misunderstanding something or using some information for their own purposes. In my view, what I say can only be "used" by someone who has done the works(and maybe I turn things in a way that opens up other possibilities for their own work) or as a source of interest/inspiration to begin the Tantric process. Moreover, I feel strongly that there is a misconception that Tantra is all about some secret or another. Many feel that if they just get some "secret" mantra or a "secret" sadhana that then they will be alright. A sadhak is successful on the path by doing the works that are given and being consistent in their sadhana. It is through doing the works that any "secret" would even be applicable or usable. A Tantric could tell someone the whole process of how to trap a entity, and it would not matter. It would take about five years of real sadhana to get any power to nail, and one would have to have the subtlety of mind/perception to see/feel the various aspects of the process.
There is a book about a British lady who became a Tibetan Buddhist monk and became a Vajrayana sadhak(book is called Cave in the Snow), and she was kind of annoyed that she was not getting the real esoteric teachings. She had befriended some wandering Yogis and expressed her frustration to them, so they asked her what she had learned and what sadhanas she had gotten. She told them, and they said..."well, that is exactly the sadhanas that we have, and the only difference is that we actually practice them with full attention"(paraphrasing, not a direct quote from the book).
Tame Pashus and Subjugate Demons,
Monday, January 5, 2009
Aghora represents a form of Tantric sadhana where the sadhak strips bear of all personal identity and comes into the confidence of Bhairava. To do this, the sadhak puts everything on the line, and faces directly into the raw aspects of power. This path represents a homa, whereby the sadhak casts himself into the flames, and becomes that fire. There can be no half stepping in this path or this fire will burn. The Aghori disposition is one of intensity and ferocity, and all works on this path must be seen through to completion. In that regard the Aghora sadhak must be a true Hatha Yogi, with the meaning of Hatha being "forceful". In the mad sincerity, the Aghori imposes himself upon Reality and the subtle forces that move in That. Since nobody likes to be imposed upon, it is likely that there will be obstacles thrown up and that one will face forces that intend to scare and dissuade. Since everybody cannot help but like one who perseveres with a true heart of sincerity, the Aghori comes through into Victory. Most of what are commonly called Aghora sadhanas are of the Vamamarga and many take place within the Shamshana; so Aghoris are often called Shamshan Sadhaks. Aghoris are not only uncompromising in sadhana, but are often uncompromising in various interactions. The later quality makes it difficult to "deal" with the Aghori unless one is coming from a very sincere and crisp awareness. Because these sadhaks often do not care about anything but the fundamental, they are often disinclined to act the conventional "spiritual" role. Moreover, they may play on others notions of holiness and "what spirituality should look and sound like".
The term Aghora and interest in Aghoris seems to have become more popular in recent times. The was some fascination during the British colonial period in India by English "scholars", and the accounts that they provide are very amusing. There is the classical pompousness and superiority mixed with Christian holy disgust. Many of the mistaken notions brought by these British scholars have become conventional wisdom, not only for other anthropologists, but by the people who have some interest in the path. This happened mainly because the people who told the public about the various practices were outsiders, so they could only use their own frames of reference in determining why a certain practice was done. Without the knowledge of the subtle inner dynamics of the Tantrics, the observer could only make assessments that conformed to the "values" which were understood in their consensus reality approach. So instead of the understanding the subtle process, the public is given the only explanations which make any sense for wild and taboo breaking behaviors. This explanation is that the main purpose for certain acts Is to break taboos and transgress societal norms. This would qualify as a rather trivial interpretation from the perspective of the initiate. Yet, it is this kind of triviality which seems to hold sway over those that are interested in the works of Aghora. It should be said that the Aghoris themselves often play into some of these wrong notions with their mischievousness and/or utter disregard of how they are perceived by others.
Without the real works of Tantra, any "Aghora-like" endeavor would only be to serve the notions of transgression etc. and would not have the depth of the actual path. I've nothing against someone who has some hangups transcending them, but to place this sort of psychological approach at the level of Tantra seems to diminish the profundity of the work. One should also not take the "wildness" associated with the Aghori as a model of contrived behavior, as any wildness would be more effect(than premeditated "cause") and would be a spontaneous expression of the assimilated energies of the Ishta. From the true Aghoris that I've had contact, this "wild" quality is more at the subtle level, and is not ALWAYS indicative of behavior. This means that many Kaulas are rational and are quite capable of "normal" exchange. Some of the people who call themselves Aghoris and show themselves off, are a lower form of sadhak. They are not Khepas(divinely mad), they are simply pagalas(conventionally crazy). Some of these people just take on the associate behaviors and garb of Aghoris, and act like idiots while extorting money from people who they scare. Many have not transcended disgust in the realization of One Taste, but are just disgusting.
There are different paths where the Tantric may take on the term Aghori. Of the lineage that is particular to the title, there is the Shri Kina Ram Aghori lineage that has its main Ashram(Krim Kund) in Varanasi. Otherwise, the sadhak would most likely come out of the Vamamarga(Kaulamarga) Shakta tradition or possibly the Nath tradition. There are also those of the Naga tradition(and some other renounciate traditions) who may be called Aghoris. Presently, the term Aghori seems more to indicate the types of sadhana that the Tantric does and/or an acknowledgement of some measure of success in those sadhanas. The Aghora sadhak is most closely associated with wearing the black cloth(sometimes those of Shakta origin would keep the red cloth) or in the case of some no cloth(digambara/sky clad). The forehead marks and/or the greeting the Tantric uses can help in distinguishing the origins. The greeting from a Sanyasa may be "Om namo Narayanaya", while from a Shakta it would be "Jai Ma"; Nath's have their greetings(Alak), and some Aghoris just use the mantra "Bom" as greeting. Within the Kaula marga, there are also mudras which would be particular to a certain Kaula(family/lineage stream).
Many peoples modern knowledge of Aghora seems to stem from the books published by Robert Svoboda. While the books are of good quality, they hardy qualify as the "Aghori bible" that some make them out to be. The third book(Karma) is more likely to create an Agoraphobic than an Aghori, and all the books are actually quite conservative. Certain aspects(of Aghora) are discussed but it seems that the message always comes back to "but that's not for you" and that it is better/safer to just "worship" as apparently a Bhakta. It seems that there is also the potential to create fear and doubt in a sadhak within those books. This attitude is oft expressed by revealing that if the sadhak makes some error than "they are finished". One must perform certain works with confidence and should not be worried that one slip of decorum ruin them. I have another problem with the book, which I find hard to express. It has to do with creating a "perspective" of relating with the subtle in a way that seems not only overly materially concrete but in many ways overly dualistic. I view aspects of subtlety concretely, but it really depends upon areas of "perception" when relating to these things(and informing perspective). So there is either a different "space" or a profoundly different(than normal) perception if some Deity is engaged. Both the energy and information are highly "internal" and there is a tacit understanding of a high frequency. Regarding some Deity standing in front of you and chatting with you, without the understanding of this creates a false promise/expectation, and the sadhak may "miss" a "specialized" presence if they are waiting to have tea with their Ishta. There is also the obvious problem with the books from the academic perspective, and that is that there is no certainty of identity for our Aghori. The teacher is said to be deceased, real name(either given name or initiated name) is not provided, nor any photo "evidence". So maybe it is Castanadas "Don Juan" who was speaking for all we know. My intuition says that it was a real person, with whom the author had intimate contact. The author admits to the propensity for exaggeration(both in India and for teachers), and I would take him at his word on this. One is given the view of "supermen", and it would be unrealistic to expect to shoot fire from your ass or live 1,000 years.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The Tantric work is a results oriented path, but one must do the work. It is surprising that many who just want to do "their own thing" often chose to call their spiritual approach tantric. I could think of many other spiritual terms(and indeed no spiritual term seems imperative) which would give greater "freedom" than "tantra". This is because of all paths, tantra is uncompromising about doing the work, and at the tradition level is highly structured and formulaic. I suppose that many, of less serious aims, like to identify as tantric because of the life embracing elements which for some means that they have "spiritual cover" for the banalities and indulgences of their lives. The Kaula brings the Awareness and Energy (as assimilated and expressed in the Tantric work) to bear upon the external environment, and it is through those realized "terms" that the life process is embraced. When the life flow reaches a level of accord(or absorption) with the Ishta then "ones" actions/interactions, even if conventionally considered of a "mundane" quality, become profound and a true embodied expression of the "art" of Tantra. But again, this process comes from the sadhak doing the actual work of Tantra, and without this work, any "taking up" of presumed tantric postures, attitudes, and iconography will remain a contrivance at the level of fetish.
Having received the diksha and sadhana from a qualified source, there are certain suggestions that will help the sadhak move nicely on the path. Most fundamental is consistency, which often takes the form of deciding what sadhana one will do and how much will be done, and not deviating from this. Inherent in this is an even more vital principle than just what is provided by the sadhana itself. This is the establishment of Will and the principle of integrity to that Will(and integrity to ones Word). It is very important to the establishment of the profound dignity of the Deities that one is "becoming", and that one feels that one has this integrity of aim. The establishment of unshakable Will is the ground for real power. Having this integrity will also make the sadhak take him/herself seriously. If the person does not establish Will and integrity(all grounded in sincerity of course), then it will be difficult to take oneself seriously(and therefore one cannot take oneself as Ishta seriously). One has to conquer the voice within that knows that you are "just an asshole". While we often view self deprecation, and its associated quality of "not taking oneself seriously" as endearing; for the purposes of Tantra this quality "as a reality" must be destroyed. Then one can break on themselves and others in a true spirit of "lightness" and playfulness(actually the energy of the Deities will often have these playful aspects) if this is consistent with ones "flavor".
Now if the serious Tantric(having now taking him/herself serious in consistent work and integrity) has associations(friends etc.) where that associate projects a certain image of the person which is energetically binding(as patterns are) and inconsistent with ones true nature(that the sadhak seeks to properly internalize and express), then one should drop the associate like a bad habit. Once one has some power, they can impose it on the patterns of relations, but one would likely be unable to do this at the start. In case this is unclear, I am suggesting that you not associate with old friends much. (This represents my view, which is admittedly uncompromising, so one shouldn't be put off of Tantra if they don't want to do the work using my standards.) Either way though, even if you still hang with the friends, at a certain level of the work, either they will begin to see you properly or you will find it untenable to be around them. In general, the sadhak should give no identity for others to grasp and "pin down". If the sadhak is a "dead man" already then this would be the case anyway.
My advice for success in Tantra, at least initially, is to not talk about your work or spirituality at all. Be a secret sadhak through and through, and really come into your own heart and sincerity. This approach will avoid distraction and "spiritual materialism". Come into "identity" with the Ishta and Pitha, and not an identity as a "spiritual" person or whatever appealing concept of individualized specialness one would indulge. There will certainly be a uniqueness to the expression of the Ishta and your life, but don't "express" this until it is largely a spontaneous expression. Let the seeds grow. Let the energy work for you, instead of blowing it in orgasmic displays of "love" etc. Be frugal and let things be firm before expressing things and talking much. Besides the living current which transmits, gives confidence, and protects that is inherent in the traditional lineage based Tantra; there is also a means of accountability which would preclude one from publicly engaging before one is ready.
There is really no moral code or prescribed ways of being(or not being/or not doing) for the Kaulas other than following the dictates of power. This means being sensitive to where power is gained and where power is lost. The sadhak of subtle intellect would avoid those actions/behaviors/engagements/attitudes where they feel a loss of power. There is no concrete "form" that this would take, and this would not be concerned with the various conventions of moral code, or even common sense rationality. In my experience, the loss of power(wrong action) has more to do with the attitudes behind a certain behavior then the behavior itself. This means that the expression of profanity can be in accord, while an expression of "love, compassion, and bliss" can be a "wrong action". What all this means to the new sadhak is that they should be conscious of the close and organic feelings of where power is gained and lost. As one progresses, things become very clear and one gets what is called the "instant karma" effect, whereby it becomes bodily evident when one has "stepped in it".
The one thing that I have noticed from my associations with some aspiring Tantrics is that many lack the commitment and seriousness for success. Tantra is an advanced form of spiritual sadhana, and the potential sadhak should be progressed to a certain level of maturity and subtlety. While most claim that they are serious and sincere, when ANYTHING is asked of them they often balk. There is no willingness for any inconvenience let alone sacrifice. While the successful Kaula gives up the very life breath to This, many are not willing to give up anything, and often put "conditions" on the various courses they would take. I cannot relate to this, as the fire is consuming in the sadhak, and one must jump like a tiger upon every opportunity that presents itself. Nothing is owed to you.....Please internalize this...nothing is owed to you. And just because one want to know something doesn't mean that it should be given to you forthwith. If you want to be a true Kaula then there must be a true investment of time, patience, and determination. There must be the investment of your life. May your very life be the bali offering to the Mother that consumes flesh and blood.
In Summary of the "tips"
1.Find a dynamic and living stream of blessing which removes obstructions.
2.Decide (the Guru helps decide) what is to be done and how much it is to be done and do not deviate.
3.Break all ties that energetically bind one to past or burdensome identity and identity patterns.
4.Don't talk about your work
5.Become sensitive to what actions/behaviors/attitudes weaken you.