has to wake up, then go to sleep,
to eat food and embrace;
in this way, many life urges come;
who realizes the one changeless form?
Free translation (from the appendix):
Alas! Who is there to know the one unchanging Reality, when
all are subjected to the frequent rise of latent urges which ceaselessly compel
them to wake and sleep, to eat, and to caress the objects of their desires.
One has to wake, then go to sleep, of food partake, or mate,
Thus do promptings dissipating keep coming round;
Whoever could there be, therefore to wake
Unto that reality’s one and changeless form?
inexplicably think of verse 6, since it deals with the horizontal, as being of
lesser importance than many of these. On revisiting it this week, I discovered
a terrific essay packed with important ideas. What was I thinking? This is
first point was that forgetfulness is a word that is vital to this verse, along
with its counterpart, remembrance. We forget who we are, and then find a way to
bring it back into focus. Narayana Guru’s Malayalam masterpiece is intended to
lead us to a re-identification with our real self. A re-membrance, if you will.
is utterly mysterious how we lose sight of our true nature and in its place
become attached to a constructed ego cobbled together to interface with the
surroundings, and then become satisfied with that! We blot out the sense of
injustice that wells up in us, calling us back to ourselves, until our spirit
goes into a deep slumber. Then our life becomes like sitting in a waiting room,
hoping a train will come along and take us somewhere nice. Instead of rushing
out to live, we spend our time making the waiting room comfortable.
was enchanted by Nitya’s perfect definition: “The nature of the spirit is to
pervade.” She felt comforted and reassured by its whole context, on page 42, because
it showed her that spiritual endeavor is more about getting out of the way than
trying to achieve something complicated. Unlike the Western model, where what
we are taught to be has to be built out of spare parts by the cursed sinners we
are, this reminds us our true nature is divine, and all we have to do is let it
seep into us, or wash over us:
The body is animated by an energy
that knows, thinks, discerns and evaluates. This phenomenon is called the soul
or spirit. The nature of the spirit is to pervade. It is characteristic of the
spirit, or the self in us, to return again and again to the pure being of the
universal Self to which it belongs. It does not feel at home when it is
confined to the limitations of a body. Just like water finding its own level,
the self is always in search of the boundless. The individual’s attempt to
cater to the necessities of the body is a relativistic form of dharma, while the
spirit’s need to
transcend the limitations of the individual’s body, family, clan, tribe and
nation is its absolute dharma.
There are several crucial ideas in this statement. The class
also spent time on the notion of spirit pervading life, trickling into it
despite our misguided attempts to keep dry, and most importantly in the
critical distinction between relative and absolute dharma.
genius is revealed (once again) in the masterful exposition of dharma given on
page 43 in which he details the most significant shades of dharma ranging from
absolute to the relative. All of them are valuable, and even integral to our
being. Inexplicably, though, most pundits focus on only the extreme relative
end of the spectrum, claiming that dharma means our social duties and
obligations. Nitya never goes that far into relativism, because he knows that
duties and obligations are what kill or at least subsume our dharma, bringing
about the tragic state that Narayana Guru is lamenting here:
that sustains the life-giving energy that fosters the characteristics of the
individual and unfolds the growing personality, has several levels of formation
and shades of meaning. As the sole ground of individuation, it is
undifferentiated from the Absolute. As the primeval cause of manifestation, it
is the temporal function that introduces motion into the field of spatial
extension. As the existential base of individuation, it is an evolutionary
process that channels and organizes indistinct and undifferentiated energy to
assume definite forms of structural integrity that can function with physical,
chemical, biological and, at the human level, psychological propensities. As
the dynamics of a living organism, it is a retentive store of memory that is
used as a ready reckoner with which to decide courses of action and reaction
that are conducive to both the organism’s self-preservation and to the
furtherance of its life term as a stable system. As the propensity of life
urges, it is an amalgam of a pleasure-seeking collective will and a continuing
process of individuation, in which every blind drive and conscious effort is
controlled and decided upon by its longitudinal history. And as the immediate
interacting agent that recognizes itself with the self-awareness of an
I-consciousness, it is a homeostasis that governs reflexive and instinctive
behavior, acquired habits, adaptation, and willed actions that serve the
self-regulating system which is intent upon maintaining its fluid equilibrium.
I know this is a long quote, but it is so fantastic, it’s
the kind of thing that should be pinned to every available surface in your
house so you can read it several times a day. At least you now have it in the
class notes, for times when you don’t have your book handy. Don’t fall for that
ubiquitous blather about duty—be yourself.
also gave a succinct definition that puts dharma in a nutshell:
is our second nature. It has the
paradoxical characteristic of coupling the changeless with an ever-changing
course of becoming. As individuated beings, we are modulations of dharma.
That’s the perfect way to look at it: “As individuated
beings, we are modulations of dharma.”
There’s nothing external about it. Or we could say, we individuals are the external
manifestation of our dharma. But our contact with it is intermittent. The more
accurately we reflect our dharma, the more satisfying our lives will be.
brought up an important problem, one that many preceptors exacerbate by
treating the mind as a kind of enemy to be stamped out. Mick’s propensity for
this was set off by Nitya’s statement, “Although the nature of consciousness is
to seek liberation, the instrument at its disposal defeats that purpose.” But
this can be read another way. Mind or intelligence is the instrument at our
disposal; therefore it’s what we have to use. The way it is ordinarily used
does indeed defeat the purpose of liberation, but it can be employed
differently. These verses of Self instruction are intended to rectify how we
use all our faculties, to redirect them to liberation instead of bondage.
are two main streams of spirituality. One is to reject everything, spend long
years in seclusion and meditation, and try to purify yourself with inaction.
The other model, favored by the Gurukula, is much gentler. The idea is to
dismantle the barriers we have erected since birth using insight, allowing the
spirit to flow into everyday life. It doesn’t even have to flow in—it’s already
present everywhere, only we have learned to tune it out. Once we stop tuning it
out we become aware of it again.
the first model you meditate so long that personal factors dry up and fall away
like autumn leaves. In the Gurukula model you meditate to reconnect with the
essence, but then come back into your life, bringing what you have learned with
you. You go in and out, back and forth between the inner and outer until they
interpenetrate one another. Then they are no longer two separate poles of life,
but one unified life.
Bhagavad Gita is the champion of this latter approach. As Nitya puts it here: “The
Gita does not recommend withdrawal or turning away from the world that is seen,
but the cultivation of a transparency of vision by which one sees the Absolute
alone as the one reality residing in all.”
is actually as challenging in its own way as undertaking some heroic program of
self-suppression. It is deeply inculcated in us to choose a goal and then work
toward it, but that is the very way we “defeat our purpose.” Attaining the
proper frame of mind requires substantial effort to annul both conscious and
unconscious desires and predilections, and discard goals and expectations. I’ve
found that if we are able to keep our mind open, life will always exceed our
we are in tune with our dharma, our innate propensities, our actions will
unfold naturally and not need to be prodded along with any goal-orientation.
Until we know our dharma, though, the goal of discovering it is a reasonable
expectation to have.
in tune with our dharma means going with the flow, but we lose the flow by
being drawn away into anticipating a specific result of our action. Rooting out
hidden expectations and other learned flaws is a very good exercise for
about the outcome block us from acting as freely as changing situations
require. If we can break free of all those impediments, our actions will truly
no magic formula here. We just have to presume that we have expectations and
prejudices, and strive to stay open to the input we’re receiving.
of the ways we misinterpret our inner promptings is to think that if we simply
go with the flow, being ourselves should be a piece of cake. The problem with
this very plausible assumption is that we are tightly bound by our
conditioning, so the flow isn’t going anywhere any more. We have to first
unbind ourself, get the flow going, and then we can join up with it. As we
overcome the inhibiting influences of our conditioning, the flow rises up within
and begins to carry us along.
are very fortunate that our essential nature isn’t destroyed by our stupidity,
it just goes into hiding, biding its time until we realize how much we need it
and miss it. Then we have to find out how to use the mind in a new way.
Narayana Guru is exhorting us here to commit ourselves to getting out of prison
by rectifying our intelligence. We can either surrender under the crushing
weight of our misunderstandings or resolve to shake them off and stand up.
looks at this in an interesting way. He can think of himself either as Paul or
as a human. One is specific and one is generic. He knows he is both at the same
time. “Paul” is the one who holds opinions and can be fierce at times, but then
he can remember his humanity and “Paul” dissolves. “Humanity” includes all
possible perspectives, including non-human ones, along with the realization
that everyone’s experiences are valid in their own way. When he includes
himself in all humanity, his personal needs and wants dwindle in importance and
he feels more expansive.
gave a practical example, of the diversity training she gets regularly at work.
Our unexamined tendency is to make prejudiced distinctions of the people we
meet based on all sorts of irrelevant details, and this causes us to treat them
unfairly: some get a better deal than others, because they are closer to our
preferences. Moni receives diversity training to be able to serve everyone with
equal fairness. She still makes distinctions and decisions about everyone, but
they are based on the actual needs of the situation and not her prejudices.
That means there is a unity, a oneness, under the surface variegations, that
she is being trained to include in her awareness.
Guru would be very happy this was taking place! His lament was really a call to
us to restore our sense of unity and bring justice in our interaction with the
world. When he asks who there is to see it, we should shout back “Me! I see it
and I hold to it. Count me in!” As Mick said, this is about bringing love and
respect into our daily life, the karu into daily life. He read out some
excerpts from the book I Am That, by
Nisargadatta Maharaj that closely matched the ideas we are digging into. Mick
is delighted when he finds different sources that present the same truths. But
truth is one. It is much the same everywhere, but it is disguised by semantic,
cultural and language variations. Part of the fun of this study is discerning
the core of truth at the heart of everything we see and do. As Mick also said,
this is a new form of conditioning. Yes, it can become habitual to refer the
many to the one, the immanent to the transcendent, and it opens up life like a
flower coming into bloom. If we are inevitably conditioned while we are alive,
isn’t this the way to have it?
brought in a very valuable idea, to counter the cliché that we learn by serving
others. Service has become a popular watchword in part because it is a
respectable way of abandoning our self. Susan reminded us that we have to find
love in ourselves before we can share it with others. Come to know love, and
then others will be inspired by it. If we try to activate it in others without
knowing it in our heart, it is a form of bullying, of evangelism. There is
duality at its core. So everything in this study is to be brought home to us.
We have to cure ourselves before we can properly care for anyone else. Restoring
ourselves to our dharma, our spirit, is the first service we should perform.
Nataraja Guru’s comments are short enough (and wonderful
enough!) to include in their entirety:
One has to wake, then go to sleep, of food partake, or mate,
Thus do promptings dissipating keep coming round;
Whoever could there be, therefore to wake
Unto that reality’s one and changeless form?
biological cycle of necessary activities, considered neither physiologically
nor psychologically but from a common-sense standpoint, are referred to in
verse 6. These follow one another as dictated by the vital urges within man.
One satisfaction of instinctive desire follows another in a certain order of
circulation. Waking and sleeping alternate diurnally, attended with secondary
needs or appetites of hunger or sex common to human beings generally.
of referring to these aspects of necessary life as belonging to sin,
concupiscence or desire as in the stricter theologies of codified religions,
the Guru here reviews them more simply as necessary factors in common human
life, but all the same suggests that, if one set of such necessary items of
activity prevails in anyone, it would be impossible for him to get interested
in the other or larger unitive interest which is beyond mere necessity in the
everyday sense, but belongs to an order wherein one lasting value prevails over
object here is to bring together into proper relief the two sets of interests
or value-worlds to which any man normally can relate himself. Without
self-instruction as contained in this composition, man will tend naturally to
attach importance to the series of necessary activities at the expense
of the higher contingent
interest which can everlastingly include all the others and lift the
personality to a higher level of life altogether.
rhetorical question at the end of the verse strikes a note of despair on the
part of the Guru. The natural penchant of the human mind to find satisfaction
in the horizontal world of values has to be overcome with the help of some
positive effort which, as it were, must do violence to itself. Here comes the
need for disciplining the mind to overcome its conditionings, for lifting it
away from its merely instinctive moorings, and for setting it on its course to
higher and higher levels of interest, until its full dignity is established in
selfhood. That very few persons seek the positive orientation of the spirit
implied in the ascent here is referred to with a similar note of despair in the
Out of a thousand humans, one,
maybe, strives to attain the desirable; out of such strivers, even when they do
so, one, maybe, can understand Me in the light of (correct) principles. (VII,
‘THUS DO PROMPTINGS DISSIPATING’: The expression in the
original is ‘vikalpa’ which has its antonym in ‘samkalpa’. These refer to two
sets of mental activities, the former connoting evil and the latter good. The
mind is the meeting-point of both these types of activities as defined by
Sankara in the VivekaChudamani (167 to 183 and verse 174 particularly) and by
Vidyaranya in Panchadasi and in the Vedanta-Sara of Sadananda. Opposite
tendencies like good and evil promptings originate in the common locus of the
mind. Sankara places in the mind the factors conducive to bondage as well as
emancipation. Of the two sets of promptings originating in the mind samkalpa
will thus refer to vertical tendencies and vikalpa to horizontal ones which
refer to lower values in life. The vicious circle of horizontal values keeps
recurring and repeating, while vertical tendencies lead to wisdom and freedom.
TO WAKE UNTO THAT REALITY’S ONE AND CHANGELESS FORM: The
reference here must be to the Absolute conceived as the master interest in
life. Horizontal relativistic interests are pluralistic. They contain rival or
conflicting items as against the series of vertical unitive interests implied
in the contemplative view of life. The latter can range from the basic
necessities of life such as food to the satisfaction of the highest of
cravings, such as the love of freedom. The Absolute need not necessarily be
conceived as a thing. It can be merely a dimension such as depth, or a
direction such as the superior attitudes that the mind is capable of having
when thinking creatively of the Absolute. The one-to-one relation as between
the Absolute and the Self is implied here.
word ‘changeless’ employed here draws attention to the nitya-anitya-viveka (the
discrimination between lasting and transient values) which, according to texts
such as the VivekaChudamani of Sankara (verse 19) is the preliminary
qualification required before one enters contemplative life.
The changeless reality can only be the Absolute, as will
become clear later on when the nature of the Self stands revealed in greater
relief in these verses. The Eternal, the Everlasting, Omnipresent and
Omniscient are attributes belonging to the Absolute, whether theologically
conceived as a deity or as a purely abstract notion by one capable of such
to, etc.’: The suggestion here is that the Self, when moving within the range
of the fully sleeping state or the opposite condition of full wakefulness, is
engrossed alternately in actual or virtual activities or interests of a
horizontal kind. Intermediate to these extremes of sleeping and waking there is
a purer middle state of consciousness which is referred to more directly in
verse 7. This word ‘wake’ is meant to pave in advance the way to this middle
bipolarity is established correctly between the Self and the non-Self as
counterparts, the resulting state of consciousness has the Eternal as its content. In other
words, there is entry into the neutrality of the Absolute when the relation as
between subject and object is established in a vertical sense.
has weighed in with a very germane question, and we’d love to hear your feelings
about it. Sujit writes:
Reading these verses over again, one can see that Narayana
Guru implicitly accepts that the socially conditioned or molded self (in the
reader) will find it an uphill task to decondition. He is perhaps hoping that
the reader will at least decondition to extent of initially understanding the
concept of ‘that alone’. It is obvious that poet is employing an
explanatory technique of disciplined and repetitive self-instruction -
positioning the reader in various points around the central subject
of discussion, and pointing to different perspectives of the same thing.
Each perspective to me is as intriguing as much as it is interesting.
I am unable to hold back these questioning thoughts - what
if many people of the world are really able to decondition themselves? Would an
advanced or fully deconditioned person be fit for his/her normal job positions,
responsibilities and accountabilities in real life today? Is it
meant for all? Or else, how could one balance between the two extreme
poles; and live in ‘ananda’ when
there are real issues and negativities to address
with shrewdness? Isn’t that mold of the self also an integral
part of the survival of societies? Aren’t societies the collection of
selves? Can we shut off the self selectively; say at work and off work or when
off from accountabilities in this competitive world? And so on....
Then I switch on my TV all I can see is the discussion of a
nation (USA) polarized by the gun control debate. I wonder what is the ‘real
distance’ between the path to self-realization and the reality on the
backstreets that we tread!? Can a self-realized person living in ‘ananda’
be the security guard where my
children are schooling? Would we still want that security guard to live as a
normally conditioned person in the mold of the guard? When and where does ‘karma’
come into play?
I wonder whether the same thoughts have passed your mind
too? Or whether in the presence of Guru Nitya such discussions have taken
The timing of this review of Verse 6 is such that Narayana
Guru is preempting a similar question. He is saying that people of the world
are heavily caught up in their routine pursuit of passions and commitments and
- who is there after all that has got the time, willingness or ability to wake
up in the dispassionate, untransforming, formless state of mind?
type of pondering is essential to getting a lot out of our study. Sujit has set
an excellent example for all of us.
are indeed questions that Nitya talked about, often, and I have thought about
them on my own, too. Anyone who comments on or teaches the Gita (I’ve done
both) is constrained to address them. Essentially it’s one question: how does
spirit fit into the world, into nature? This is where nonduality (Narayana
Guru’s stand) trumps duality, by a mile. They are not really separate, but we
seem doomed to think of them that way. When spirit is detached from nature,
both suffer. This class is about rejoining them and ending the unnecessary
off, I want to reassure everyone that there is not the slightest danger that
everyone on the planet will suddenly become realized, drop out, and let the
world go to hell. I imagine this is a personal doubt that people think of, and
then they project it into a mass movement as a way of drawing back from it in
their own lives—a kind of defense mechanism. The question, then, isn’t about
the security guard but about ‘me’. Do I dare link up with the Absolute when I
have all these duties to perform to keep my life running smoothly? Can I safely
relinquish me sense of control? Obviously, answering this in the affirmative is
crucial to remaining serious about the study.
email from John H. this morning raises the same issue from a slightly different
angle: “if it’s so hard to ‘get there,’ why try? Isn’t life filled with enough
frustration and failure, without having to start a quest you will not likely
finish with satisfactory results?” Arjuna himself asked a similar question in
the Gita, in fact. We’ve gone deeply enough into the subject now to begin to
sense its awesomeness, and there is—quite normally—an instinctive drawing back
at the threshold.
want to assure everyone that by becoming authentically themselves, they don’t
become misfits, they actually become much better members of society, as well as
happier in their lives. We can turn this question upside down and ask if it’s
preferable to be disconnected from our self and our world? Are we better
citizens because of it? Narayana Guru felt that this dissociation was the cause
of all our ills, and with it as our prevailing condition the world is in dire
straits. I’ll clip in his well-known quote from Word of the Guru at the end, for those who haven’t got it posted on
their fridge already.
of Arjuna, he was a kind of “security guard” himself, a warrior-type charged
with defending his family. His urge at the crucial moment was to run away and
become a dropout, but Krishna insisted he stand his ground. He taught him how
to find his joy right in the midst of his everyday life, and that’s what we’re
aiming for in the Atmo study as well.
far as karma goes, it looks like the world is so constituted that there is
reciprocity throughout. Every lock has its key. Humans will always have to look
for a need and then fill it, for our very livelihood. That means there will
always be those whose relative dharma is armed defense so long as there are
armed offenders about. In some heavenly future time they will hopefully
evaporate together. My feeling is that we bring that day closer by discovering
our own authentic self and helping our friends to find theirs. It’s the best
way to ameliorate the anger and frustration that living in a body can engender,
and which often gets unleashed on the world or on our self.
any case, we don’t have to think of realized people as only robed monks sitting
in lotus pose. Realization is meant to permeate every aspect of life, not to
separate us from it. Narayana Guru is going to teach us that there is nowhere
else to go: this is it. Dig it. Make it beautiful.
veiled urge to authenticity many people feel often surfaces as the desire to
become an artist. It seems like everybody wants to be an artist these days.
That’s wonderful, but then we have only a few models for what an artist actually
is, so you have to become a painter or a script writer or an actor or
something. The best way to take it is that we should be artists in everything
we do: in our relations with other people, in our work, in our play, in our
chores, in our rest, and especially in the way we take in information. We won’t
have a painting or a sculpture to show for it—there’s not necessarily any “proof”
of our artistic nature—but the joy we experience by activating our whole being
instead of a mere vestige brings the satisfaction we are looking for.
yes, go ahead and wake up. It won’t spoil anything. Quite the contrary! It’s a
way to begin our much-needed rehabilitation.
the excerpt from WOTG, when Narayana Guru asked
Nataraja Guru to make a plea on behalf of the world’s ecology:
‘Can you speak to the crowd?’
`I shall try to,’ replied the young man humbly. `It would be a good thing,’
continued the Guru, `to tell them about the excessive greed of human beings.
Don’t you think that the animal called man is worse than the rest of the
animals in this respect? The desires of animals in the forest are safely
controlled, by natural instinct, from all abnormal excesses. The elephant is
simple and fat, and does not need tonics or treatment to keep it so. The jackal
hides in the woods all day and comes out only at night when all is quiet. It
does not take much food—just a few fresh crabs, and the clear stream water,
reflecting the moonlight, to drink—and it is content. It enjoys its life with
its nightly music, and you can see that it is none the worse for this sort of
life—its neck is as plump and glossy as a pillow. The animals have no
exaggerated needs like man. Man trots about the earth as a veritable demon of
destruction. As he marches, he carries behind him a trail of devastation. He
cuts down the trees, and blasts and bleeds into paleness the green beauty of
Nature for the sake of the plantations and smoky towns and factories which his
unbridled desires necessitate. Not content with destruction on the surface, he tampers
with the crust of the earth, making it weaker and weaker day-by-day; and he
covers the surface with miles and miles of iron and coal. Man is terribly
inconsistent. The state, which calls itself interested in humanity, would, for
example, vehemently forbid even a man suffering from the worst form of skin
disease to quit his miserable body. On the other hand, it will madly engage
itself in wholesale manslaughter, after due deliberation and in the holy name
of altruism or religion. Man does not know what he does, although he prides
himself on being more intelligent than the animals. It is all a mad deluded
rush.’ `Oh, this man!’ he said, lapsing into wistfulness…`He must lay waste;
his greed can be satisfied only by the taking away of life.’ As the Guru
repeated the word Man, the youthful orator watched his composed features
and could not but discover a distant tinge of sadness in his voice and in his
venerable features. `Man knows not what he does,’ the Guru repeated, and became
silent for a moment. `It would not have mattered so much’, he continued, `if
the effect of man’s misdeeds struck its blow only at mankind. But the innocent
monkeys and birds in the forest have to forfeit their peaceful life because of
man. The rest of Nature would be thankful if, in the process of
self-destruction, man would have the good sense to destroy himself if he must,
alone, leaving the rest of creation at least to the peace which is its
from Word of the Guru
by Nataraja Guru, p. 12-13 (New Delhi, DK Printworld, 2003, first ed. 1952)
I’m also going to quote myself, for anyone who’s
far. My Chapter XVIII Gita commentary (online) explores this subject in depth,
especially verses 16 and 17. This, mainly quoting Nitya, is from 16:
to being ourselves, Guru Nitya makes the absolutely essential point that we
have to take responsibility for our actions. Abdicating responsibility “allows
even superstitious brutes who are caught in the snares of hallucination to
perform atrocities… while holding the firm conviction that it is the will of
God, not their own will, which is responsible.” He adds, “Is God a person with
whom we can interact, or is it only an abstraction? If God is an abstraction,
how do we surrender our will and action to that? How can we expect an
abstraction to bear the responsibility for our own actions?” On the other hand,
if an omniscient God is in charge, individual will is impossible.” (Gita, p.
can look around and see exactly this type of misunderstanding surfacing in tragedies
worldwide. Belief in an external manipulator calling the tune opens the door to
all manner of truly deadly sins. When we jealously guard our will and
simultaneously attribute it to God, the clash of contexts opens the door to the
worst kinds of behavior.
class, the nightly poetry reading brought this gem to my attention (you
probably all know it):
The angel that presided o’er my birth
Said, ‘Little creature, form’d of Joy and Mirth,
Go love without the help of any Thing on Earth.’
I thought it perfectly encapsulated the idea we’ve been
working on, that our inner nature is formed of joy and exuberance, and that it
is love enough and to share. Our love should never be dependent on Things,
because that is something else, and not so dependable.
I really like this part: “In the Gurukula model you meditate
to reconnect with the essence, but then come back into your life, bringing what
you have learned with you. You go in and out, back and forth between the inner
and outer until they interpenetrate one another. Then they are no longer two
separate poles of life, but one unified life.”
For a while I struggled
with: How do I achieve the balance between meditation and life. Or, do I leave
for Tibet and sit?
I had received hints and information but that idea
really helped solidify and clarify the act of meditation.
What a great idea from Susan! Loving oneself is definitely
something I’ve struggled with. Also, loving oneself too much, or maybe in a vain fashion, is also something I’ve
worked to overcome. I think keeping the mind free and flowing the present is
the best remedy to these. I feel like negative thoughts often flow from
remembering past experiences. Like, “oh, I should have done that differently
or “oh man, that really bummed me out.” Staying present is peaceful.
Also -- through my practice of Yoga and Tai Chi, I’ve
discovered an appreciation of the heart center and resonating love.
During and after practice I feel warm, positive, golden vibrations emanating.
They are my “good vibes” and I send those love vibes out to the world. Not just
during my focused practice, but throughout the day. I feel like I’m loving
myself and sending out love to the world. Even though they are one. So,
really, just tapping into that love. Resonating with it.
This came from Paul:
One question ~ “how does spirit
fit into the world, into nature”?
The Dharma of Karma
the Dissolution of
Solution of Dharma
Karma is our
transactional experience of dualities. Karma is cyclical in nature within its
reoccurring opacity of man’s compulsive imminence of becoming (maya). Karma is
nature’s design incompletely perceived as form, name, and value. Karma is: the
individuated knower, the discriminative act of knowing, and the known
(subjectively labeled & valued).
Karma’s Absolute Dharma--subsequent to the removal of maya’s “veil of
illusion”--manifests as a doorway providing Spirit an Actualization in (and as)
Transcendence of experience negating duality. Dharma is pervasive in nature
within the saturating translucence of mans Spiritual Eminence-of-Being (the
Absolute). Dharma is the Designing or causal function of Spirit saturating the
entire cosmos—with nothing left out. Dharma is: the Non-individuated
Witness, the complete assimilation of the Observed & Observer as the Unified
Self-Actualization of God. Dharma manifests as the non-existent doorway
enabling nature (or man) Self-Realization as Spirit.
~ nature is the expression of Spirit within the confines of
space and time ~
~ Spirit is Origin of All Expression actualizing as nature ~
~ karma is the unrealized (fragmented) misperception
of the One as the many ~
~ Dharma is the Unified Self-Realized Witness of the Many
as the One ~
~ karma is the solute that is destined to dissolve into the
unitive solution of Dharma ~
~ Dharma saturates karma for the “soul intent” of
self-realizing the Absolute-Self ~
~ One becomes the other & the other is solely One ~
~ Spirit Actualizes Nature while Nature finds its
Actualization in Spirit ~
~ man is
paradox wherein dualities lose definition ~
the best of a long letter from Susan. She told me her five points came to her
like being struck by lightning, and I think she must have been. They are
exactly right on insights about how to “realign our structure” and get out of
our own way, so that we stop tripping ourselves:
“There are two main streams of spirituality. One is to
reject everything, spend long years in seclusion and meditation, and try to
purify yourself with inaction. The other model, favored by the Gurukula, is
much gentler. The idea is to dismantle the barriers we have erected since birth
using insight, allowing the spirit to flow into everyday life. It doesn’t even
have to flow in--it’s already present everywhere, only we have learned to tune
it out. Once we stop tuning it out we become aware of it again.” (from the
keep thinking about the Alexander Technique in relation to what I am learning
with the Atmo study. The idea is that the body has a natural and most efficient
and healthy way of moving. One can witness this in babies and toddlers. As we
grow, we develop habits of movement that are detrimental. Alexander Technique
is a way to inhibit these conditioned movements so that we essentially get out
of the way so that the natural movement of the self (this is the way he puts
it) will be possible. Alexander says the self is the mind and the body and that
they cannot be separated, so that getting out of the way of our natural way can
also be thought of as letting the spirit pervade. I like this idea of getting
out of the way and it seems to be similar to your idea of dismantling barriers.
As with Alexander, it really helps to think about our reactions as often as
possible. I like the Alexander Technique, because it focuses on movement and
that seems to be easier for me to notice. It is a way into being more
repeatedly aware of the barriers to the Absolute. This is vital because it is
so easy to just get swept up in the “promptings dissipating” (love that phrase
from Nataraja Guru!) without letting the Absolute dharma inform and balance
one’s life — creating the transparency of vision. When I think of getting out
of the way to let the spirit pervade, I think of many examples:
I get into an inane discussion with [teenage son] Peter that gets a bit heated
and I notice this, usually I can step back mentally. When I do this, when I can
step back and see that I am wrapped up in a pointless contortion, that perspective
allows me to get out of the way, and the larger perspective flows in and I can
then let it go and the discussion will then deflate into nothing. But this is a
hard one — I go through this a lot with my kids and they hook me in very often
by making me feel guilty. This really throws me off and I am not in my center.
I begin to dwell on some issue and it takes me over — I can get out of the way
if I start to notice that my dwelling has gone on for a long time or that it
keeps popping up throughout the day and in every conversation. That happened
last week with gun control. I called my congress people about my support for
Obama’s plan. I brought it up with everyone I spoke to over two days. It isn’t
wrong to call the legislators but the more I talked to people the more I could
see that my perspective was very distinct and that I was holding onto it very
tightly. This was hard to see at first because I felt so righteous. It isn’t
wrong to have an opinion but if the opinion makes me as rabid as the NRA
people, then I am definitely cutting off the spiritual flow that might help me
to find a solution or an understanding.
I start to feel that I am not as good as other bridge players, other writers,
other pianists, other humans in general, I can spiral right down. I am
comparing myself. I am deciding who and what and how good I am based on someone
else. But when I can let this go, I feel so much better! How do I let this go?
This is a difficult one. The best way is to remember about being open, to
remember that in the past when I have let these comparisons go it has always
felt better. Though logically I can always find a way to define myself as
“less,” it helps to have faith that this is not the point. I am who I am and
the more I let that be and not try to decide what it should be, the more the
spirit in me can find its level — it can go toward the boundless. For me to
think that I am less because I am not a great pianist or a great writer is a
very bounded way of thinking. I am making the assumption that I know what I
should be based on something outside. If instead, I just keep writing and
playing piano and playing bridge because I am compelled to do all of these
things and because I really enjoy them, then that is all that matters. It is not
the quality in comparison but rather the spirit moving through me that feels
right in the end.
brings me quite naturally to the next thing upon which I dwell — I feel “less”
and “unworthy” because I have the time to do all these things. I am not out
there working 40 hours a week at a job or doing something to help all the
people who need help. This can make me get very much in the way of the flow.
But again, when I can calm this voice by having some faith that I have been
raising my own children and I have also been drawn to various volunteer jobs
over the years. I have spent a lot of time dealing with health issues and
exploring diet, exercise, supplements. This has been an education that I can
pass along to others, both because some of my health ventures have not worked
out and because some of them have. Faith and openness, when I can reach these,
help me to see the spirit pervading in my life, often in ways I could never
I am clinging to an outcome and feeling that all will be lost if that outcome
does not come to pass, it helps if I can recognize that I am clinging. Most
often now I do this be reminding myself that clinging is usually detrimental
because it causes stress in me and also that quite often when I let go of the
outcome I desire, something better or more fitting comes along anyway. This
clinging can be about anything from getting to a destination on time to wanting
my child to get a good grade point average to not wanting to get the flu to
wanting a nice, relaxing vacation to wanting my kids to be always be safe to
not wanting to die. But any time I can see myself let go of these things, I can
feel the flow come right through. Keep an open mind.
I like the way you talk about these things in the notes:
“Rooting out hidden expectations and other learned flaws is a very good
exercise for contemplation. Expectations about the outcome block us from
acting as freely as changing situations require. If we can break free of all
those impediments, our actions will truly excel.” This is a good one to
remember. Oh, and your second sentence also reminds me of something else about
the Alexander Technique — since working on this, if I trip over something, I am
much more able to recover. My teacher said that her students often report this
after working with the technique for a few months. It’s pretty cool — the
technique helps one to not get locked up and so one can go with the flow more
easily and recover from the jolts.
[Susan reacted strongly to the reference in class to living
life as if we are in a waiting room, so I asked her to write about it. It’s a
great example of a state of mind we become accustomed to and only become aware
of if we take a good hard look.]
So about the waiting room — when you brought it up in class,
I had a vision and now I think it was an instantaneous collusion of ideas that
(as in a dream) don’t really make solid sense now in reflection. I thought of a
doctor’s or hospital waiting room, which is part of some sort of past memory
but the nugget that hit me was the idea that we come to a place, intending to
get vital information or determined to reform or set new goals or really get
serious and as we settle down to make the leap, we often get side tracked.
Instead of continuing our movement forward, we make sure to have all our
comforts — pillows, a comfortable chair, tea, a book or our iPhone just in case
there is time on our hands. Then do we really ever get out of the waiting room?
Do we go beyond or is the act of sitting in the waiting room with all our
comforts what we take to be actually making the leap? I am thinking of myself
of course — I come to class, I love seeing everyone and talking to everyone, I
get my nice hot cup of tea and maybe munch on one or two or three of the
delicious Teitsworth/Buchanan treats. Then I find a comfortable place to sit
and sink into the chanting and the conversation. It’s all wonderful — a
highlight of my week. But sometimes, I am just in the waiting room. I am either
in my analytical mind that is very interested in the ideas being discussed
and/or I am (perhaps unconsciously) holding tight to my conditioned notions and
not allowing my mind to really open. It may sound as though I am being hard on
myself, but actually it’s just something that has occurred to me as I have
started the Atmo study. Perhaps it’s partly because I realize how little I
gleaned from Atmo the first time I read it (and it really changed my life that
time!) but now I see how I don’t open myself as much as I could. This is a good
thing to see. It is a challenge of sorts. It has made me more aware of my
interactions with others and how tightly wound I am.