Nitya Teachings

Home | Overview | My First Book | My Second Book | Gurukula Books | Book Introductions | Bhagavad Gita | Hercules | Magazine Articles | Misc. Articles | Class Notes - 2004 to 2012 | Class Notes - That Alone | Class Notes 2015 to 2018 | Class Notes 2018 on | Lynx
Darsana One - Cosmic Projection I


Adhyaropa Darsana finale

Cosmic Projection – Applied Psychology


         The concluding essay of the first darsana is a tour de force, epitomizing the spiritual/psychological search for meaning with exceptional clarity. We read out about half of it, and will finish it up next week. Although the essay needs little elucidation, a couple of key ideas do bear emphasizing.

         The first darsana is about superimposition, and Nitya starts off with a good working definition:


A superimposition implies a ground upon which something alien to its nature is transposed or imposed. The ground of our experience is what we call “I,” although the I we talk about or ponder over is not the ground, but only a semantic symbol which is colored by what is superimposed on it. Thus the transactional I is as much alien to the beingness of the ground as what is fictitiously projected upon it.


Nitya is being careful to not come right out and say our transactional I is a fictitious projection, but that is what this boils down to. If you’ve come this far in the class, you must be able to handle that disconcerting but basic idea. While initially daunting, it can quickly become a joyful and liberating realization.

         I have been adding Beverley’s ruminations at the end of Part II, which she occasionally sends me as she types up the work. Since most people don’t read that far into the notes, I’ll put her comments on this right at the beginning:


I found this well worth the time and effort involved…. It is indeed a wonderful essay. My brain finds it a splendid work-out. In a way Nitya’s tendency to wander round and round an idea or concept is more attractive than Nataraja’s direct and precisely aimed method. Both of them leave me mentally staggering a bit: Nataraja because he uses a lot of specialised language from both Indian and Western philosophy, and Nitya because I get fascinated by his analogical flights but also get hopelessly sidetracked. Perhaps happily side tracked is more like it.  


It is also wonderful that, thanks to Beverley’s cheerful persistence, Darsanamala is finally being brought into the digital age, and I can fling its paragraphs all over the planet.

         The pulsation model that Nitya delineates here reveals the core of meditation according to the Gurukula:


The first movement of pulsation arises from the alpha point, provoking incipient memories to wake up and gather the momentum to push through the subjective world of desires, fantasies and deliberation, in order to become an actuality in the objective world. As all through this movement the primal momentum comes from ananda or the ground of values, its actualization in the empirical world is experienced in terms of affectivity. This is the reliving of a memory.

   The experience then changes into a subjective impression, contracting from the outer circle to the middle circle, then transforms into a seeded potential to reoccupy the unconscious core as a continuing incipient memory. The momentum which carried it all through is again reabsorbed into the alpha point. Thus, the omega and the alpha are both at the identical center.


From the point source or karu, energy expands outward through several shells. The first indicates the incipient memories (vasanas), or what we now think of as genetic patterning. The second shell represents our more or less conscious mental orientation (samskaras), and the outer shell the transactional world.

         Ordinarily, the psychic impulse is drawn outwards from its core and becomes attached to the outermost shell, the crust of existence. Frustration is inevitable because that level is almost purely determined by outside forces, and necessity overwhelms us there. We are immensely constrained by our transactional requirements. If we pin our hopes on making an impact solely at this level, we will almost certainly be defeated. Yet that is precisely where we tend to put the lion’s share of our energies.

         As Nitya implies, we do have a measure of control over how we direct our samskaras, or how we let them direct us. We can observe how they are impelling us into darkness or light and subtly influencing our selections. Rather than futile battles to adjust the surface details of our life, we can have much more success by working on this level. In his description:


The second circle suggests the field of the threshold of our consciousness, from which consciousness expands to the frontiers of objectivity. Two ambivalent forces operate here like positive and negative energies. One fills the subjective consciousness with hope, courage, love, empathy, compassion, a sense of beauty, and many similar positive values; the other is the stifling, oppressive energy that comes again and again like a dark cloud to fill one’s mind with anguish, nausea, and helplessness.


One of the most exciting things about our class is that many participants are feeling empowered to engage more positive interpretations. Where before they may have been defeated by negative emotions, they are working at depths where they can choose to not be dragged down by the cruel workings of fate, and their psyches are the brighter for it. This is absolutely the reason we come here every week. It’s a slow and sometimes agonizing process, but when even a tiny bit of the psyche is converted to light, it is worth every minute.

         Karen was enthusiastic about sinking into the depths of our psyches, likening it to diving in the ocean to get beneath the chaos of the waves. Down under, all is calm, all is bright.

         Meditation, then, is a conscious realignment with the inner, more subtle aspects of the psyche, and the deeper we go, the less we are constrained by superficial necessities. In our philosophy it isn’t a mere retreat from the world. The psyche continuously expands and contracts, touching both poles, and these interact harmoniously to open up a wider and more amenable ambit for our participation in life. Nitya puts this very well:


Why should we bother to seek the ground? It is because at the conscious level in which we live our life we have no control, since that level is already manifested. If we want to do something with the primeval dynamics, we should go to the area which is still in the process of being manifested. The further we go into the unmanifested potentials, the greater is our control.

  How do we go about this? Let us go into our own personal experience, our own life. What problems are we confronting now? What kind of personal relationships do we have with others? What makes us cry? What makes us laugh? What inspires us to write poetry, or paint, or do any creative work? What inhibits us? What gives us courage? These are the areas that have become fully manifested. We should try to predicate the “what” in these questions.


We can see from this that the problems we encounter are the keys to self-awareness, rather than blocks to it. Because of this, we aren’t being directed to withdraw and escape life’s conflicts, but to stay with them and learn from them, because they can energize our inner trajectory.

         In this light, Deb made an excellent observation, that when she’s in a frustrating situation, whatever explanation she gives is just part and parcel of what got her into that situation in the first place. Until she lets go of that, she is simply reinforcing her entanglement. In a sense, then, the explanation itself is the problem, and not the solution, as we’ve been taught to think in our upbringing.

         Susan took a workshop with James Hollis on personal myths this past weekend, and she felt it closely paralleled our class. Hollis also emphasized that we shouldn’t either get totally involved with our problems or try to escape from them, but to examine them. We should “stay with the tension of opposites as long as we can stand it.” She summed up this part of his presentation:


James Hollis in his lectures last weekend talked about Jung’s idea of complexes, which seem a lot like the Superimposition that Nitya is talking about. Hollis says that our complexes make our decisions for us because we are conditioned to look at the world through that conditioned lens. But there can be a feeling that something isn’t right with a decision. He suggests that our authentic self (the ground) is not comfortable with the reaction of the complex and so we feel a tension. He says our task at those times is to hold the tension of opposites as long as we can bear it until a third entity appears. This third entity is a new understanding of our developmental task — what we need to do to see beyond the complex and grow.


We can clearly see the dialectic or yogic aspect of this excellent suggestion. Rather than reject what we dislike and cling to what we like, it is more helpful to face up to the negativity in our life, accepting it as an integral part of our fullness. If we can do that, the tension will eventually be resolved. By dividing good and bad in our mind, the tension only increases. Hollis was well aware that this was why so many people turn to distractions and medication, to dissipate the tension. But that is ineffective if we want to live a meaningful life, and not just fritter it away.

         Jan felt this advice helped her to realize we should let go of the manifestations we get hooked on. If we instead go back to our true ground, which is more extensive, it is much more fulfilling. Deb added that when gurus advise us, they are addressing our ground and not so much our personas. We may not realize they are talking about us and our problems, because we are less familiar than they are about this level of the psyche. I added a plug that the class also gave us an opportunity to dive together into the depths of our being. We are not trying to create a new, improved persona but to free ourselves from the need—called forth by our social relations—to be any persona at all. While not outwardly dramatic, the subtle changes this brings about are significant and satisfying.

         Hollis wove his introductory talk, which Jan and I also attended, around poems, because he felt that their flexibility and imagery expanded the concepts he was trying to communicate. He felt that strictly defined verbiage was counterproductive. He would have appreciated Nitya’s eloquent presentation of the same idea:


   It has become almost impossible for an adult to have at-one-ment with his or her original and spontaneous experience except on rare occasions, as when we experience a musical rhapsody, mystical frenzy, poetic vision, a sexual orgasm, or spiritual absorption. The eagerness to know what is going on impels the mind to give a running commentary, as it were, of all inner experiences, by remolding the experience into a conceptual framework of words. Words are manufactured to suit as parts of speech. Parts of speech are designed by the grammarian and the logician, and both of them are cold-blooded pragmatists. To clothe an experience in all its richness, mystics, musicians, poets, and for that matter all those who are endowed with a high degree of sensibility, have to choose mediums other than precisely connoted words, as, for instance, icons, ideograms, symbols, or even emotionally surcharged theatrical gestalts and pregnant forms of silence. So when those of us who are not as brilliant as such creative geniuses have to formulate a linguistic experience for what is being felt, we struggle for words and then look for the most approximate one; this makes the experience more and more meager as we practically mutilate it in our own conscious appraisal of it. By doing this we make our conscious recognition sophisticated. This sophistication is what is referred to here as superimposition.


We all recognized how we mutilate our experience with a running commentary, turning it into a meager vestige of the pure experience on which it is based. Deb said it very well: “If we stand and look at an experience to make it into an object, then we are no longer experiencing it.” We can use artistic experiences to open ourselves, but the most crucial aspect is to stop the inner narrative, if only for a while. Stop objectifying all the time. That’s why I never rent the little devices at museums that so informatively describe the objects there. I want to look at them without knowing, to try to see them without prejudice. This attitude is the basis of my motto, “Self description is stultifying.” We bind ourselves with our self-description, imagining it makes us real, while in reality it shrinks us to fit the Procrustean bed. If we can trust in our natural greatness, letting go will be relatively easy.

         Susan noted how parents label their children from the beginning. With the best of intentions they force them to conform to an externalized description, which rapidly erodes their natural independence and joy, replacing it with a socialized persona. This of course is the opposite of recovering our “nothingness,” which could be viewed as freedom from formal definitions. Deb quoted Nitya about this: “To understand ourselves we should know our ground, the nothingness, the scratch from which we began.” Somewhere along the line we come to identify with our outermost shell, urged on by friends and family. Yet we can never really “understand” who that is supposed to be, and we remain certain in our heart that it isn’t really us. Only by shrugging off the need to present a definite version of ourselves can we find our true nature in the “no of all nothing,” as E.E. Cummings puts it.

         Deb said when she sits in meditation, it’s not with any program. She simply sinks into herself and allows whatever is coming to the surface to reveal itself. Bill, who also loves to sink into himself, echoed that it isn’t about achieving anything. It’s mostly a matter of getting out of the way. I suggested that’s why “doing” meditation is contrary to meditation. It’s a continuous contemplation, around the clock, or better, outside the clock. Both Deb and Bill disagreed, insisting that they needed to wrest quiet time out of their busy lives, so it was legitimate to set aside meditation time. For most people there has to be intention involved: intentionally letting go of our programs in order to experience freedom from them. Ideally there is a pulsation between stillness and engagement, each feeding the other.

         Bill lamented how hard it is to conceive of nothingness. He was thinking of Nitya’s bit about the Guru of Tiruvanamalai: “When Ramana Maharshi advised his followers to repeatedly ask the question ‘Who am I?’ his intention was to make them go beyond all semantic exercises and not hang on to the crutches of reasoning, so that they could experience directly the nothingness of nothing cancelled by the beingness of being.” Nothingness is elusive, not because it isn’t present always, but because we immediately define and describe it as soon as we recognize it. The minute nothingness is noticed, it is no longer nothingness. It’s something we have to surrender into, to go as long as possible before we come up for air and give it an arbitrary name. As Bill said, we are not bound by the world, we are bound by our reactions to it.

         We will conclude the Adhyaropa Darsana on superimposition in the next session.


Part II


         Since there is no verse associated with this essay, there is no commentary by Swami Vidyananda, either.


*         *         *


         Susan and Jan shared two favorite poems from Hollis’ talk and workshop, sensing their affinity for the pulsation model we were discussing. Here they are:



The Layers



I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.



A Story That Could Be True

By William Stafford


If you were exchanged in the cradle and

your real mother died

without ever telling you the story

then no one knows your name,

and somewhere in the world

your father is lost and needs you

but you are far away.


He can never find

how true you are, how ready.

When the great wind comes

and the robberies of the rain

you stand on the corner shivering.

The people who go by —

you wonder at their calm.


They miss the whisper that runs

any day in your mind,

“Who are you really, wanderer?”

and the answer you have to give

no matter how dark and cold

the world around you is:

“Maybe I’m a king.”


And the Cummings poem, one of my favorites:


i thank you God for most this amazing by E. E. Cummings


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Part III


         Dipika wrote:


loving your notes...just recently was having a discussion about living right with a friend...where do you begin ? It has to start from a childhood upbringing...otherwise you dont know what is right and even to rectify your thinking in later years you need some base line to compare to

otherwise you can grow up like the young jihadis today who have been brain washed into killing in the name of god.... 

thus your notes..with...


 What we loosely call self-examination is making an effort to penetrate the cloud of prejudiced interpretations, both ours and others’, to access the source from which they have sprung. In Atmopadesa Satakam this was called returning to the karu, the Core. Here it is a seed, which specifically emphasizes the potential to proliferate. Retaining awareness of the existence of a core reality unifies our relationship with the world, whereas losing contact with it breeds the kind of hysterical eruption of violence and insanity that is once again ascendant in the political discourse of the allegedly civilized world


are a great dissemination of wisdom


*         *         *


         From Beverley:


Lovely class notes. They come faithfully every week. This in itself I love. I love the fact that you all, and you in particular, stick with it. I see an infinite variety rising up out of the sameness. I value being able to share this.

         I felt a deep response to the first poem 'The Layers' by Stanley Kunitz. I have a long vista to look back on now and I truly feel I have lived several lives. and can discern patterns and levels, which no longer cause mortification and lamenting - well not much!.  The concept of the layers goes so well with the class discussion this time too.


*         *         *


         Susan and her friend Ruth (neither of them dim-witted!) recently attended a workshop put on by Dr. James Hollis, author of Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, and many other books. She is an excellent note taker, and has shared them with us. The resonance with our studies should be obvious. Susan has starred a couple of significant points; I would add an asterisk to “Rationalizing voices are a sure sign of a complex.”

         Her email carried an introduction (her “totally botched” explanation was just fine and appeared in the earlier notes):


         I had a walk with Ruth on Friday and we talked more about the workshop. I realized that I totally botched the explanation that I gave you about the tension of opposites. It wasn’t about the complexes but about duality of course. I’m sure there’s some overlap but I feel dim witted, as usual. Here is the way it went: Jung says that small questions are solved by small answers but for the greater questions of life, the opposite is always true (both dark and light, negative and positive, etc) — life can only be faced paradoxically. Our task is to hold the tension of opposites as long as we can bear it until a third entity appears. I assume this would be the unitive way of understanding. Anyway, it sounded good the other way too!


James Hollis workshop – 1/16/16


What is my myth?


Greeks: Know thyself. Nothing to excess.


Tracking the invisible world of the psyche in the visible world. We can’t see the invisible, the unconscious but we can detect it in how it affects our life – in our reactions.


Who I am vs. what happened to me. I am not what happened to me.


Patterns of avoidance and patterns of compliance are examples of ways our unconscious is affecting us. These ways may not be serving us any longer.


Shame – happens because who I am feels wrong in the environment.


The child is not meant to compensate for the parent’s unlived life


William Stafford poem:


A Story That Could Be True


If you were exchanged in the cradle and

your real mother died

without ever telling the story

then no one knows your name,

and somewhere in the world

your father is lost and needs you

but you are far away.

He can never find

how true you are, how ready.

When the great wind comes

and the robberies of the rain

you stand on the corner shivering.

The people who go by–

you wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs

any day in your mind,

“Who are you really, wanderer?”–

and the answer you have to give

no matter how dark and cold

the world around you is:

“Maybe I’m a king.”


How people get trapped in provisional (and necessary at the time) understandings


Complexes have no imagination – they just play over and over again.


Who is my tribe?


What supports my journey and what impedes it?


Fundamentalism has increased in our world – resisting the evolution of the world around us. A way to treat anxiety. Another way is through drugs and alcohol, consumerism, narcissism. These are “treatment plans” all of which have led to liquid modernity – everything always changing. No one has a true tribe.


Myth – shifting from the group/tribe to the shoulders of the individual


**We are trying to recover our personal authority.


Why row your boat to the middle of a lake and get out? Why leave your comforts and treatment plans. You won’t get out of the boat until it’s leaking and falling apart around you.


Which of the voices inside me come from my authentic self?


We respond to people out of our conditionings – we are always looking at the world through a lens of some kind (culture, family)


Fate v. Destiny


The Greeks believed there was a forcefield pushing us – “fate” – you don’t choose your family but they have an influence.


Destiny – seeking to unfold within us. The acorn becomes an oak tree. Few acorns become oak trees because of fate (environmental circumstances)


The self is selving – our bodies are digesting, growing  toe nails


We can  reflect and this helps but can also cause neurosis because we are separated from our instinct.


1.   We always have inherent tendencies – our character: like markings on slate

2.   Human ego, because of consciousness, is aware of small status in great universe, imagines it is capable of much more than it is – inflation. There is a problem when I say that I know what’s going on – leads to self delusion. Hubrus – tendency toward presumption

3.   Hamartia (Greek – to miss the mark/sin) – You look through distorting lens and make choices based on that.


Of what am I unconscious? Can’t know

Dreams are coming from a different place than the ego world


Tragic dilemma – continuing interplay of human being with powerful forces (the Gods). We are always caught in the realm of our limitations


The Gods – personifying archetypes, dramatization of archetypal beings


Mental illness can be seen as a separation from power or the will of the Gods – separation from the soul.


**In relationships: What am I asking of that person that I need to do for myself?


We think the other person is going to fix things – make up all the deficits in my life, help me not to have to grow up. Underneath is a drama, an infantile drama. We are all recovering children.


This is not love but dependent aggression.


The otherness of the other is their greatest gift for us. The other pulls me out.


Healthy relationship enlarges


“Jung and Aging” – essays about loss and aging – as long as you have curiosity and imagination, you are growing.


Interrogating unconscious – 90% of reactions come from our history


Little people inside me sending messages -- this is how Hollis explains his epiphanies about questions and dilemmas in his life. 


We are splinter mythology creatures – we have complexes


We develop an intellectual process that is meant to be protective


Trust v. distrust – comes from early years – does the world keep its promises?


A complex is a transient psychosis. Some people are in a permanent complex; insecurity for instance


What are my myths? What are the value systems that I am in service to?


Jung – small questions are solved by small answers. For the greater questions of life, the opposite is always true – life can only be faced paradoxically.


Our task is to hold the tension of opposites as long as we can bear it until a third entity appears.


When making a decision we look at pluses and minuses but what is the question about really? That third thing – what is the developmental task of this person?


Living your life for a parental complex


Living by complexes takes away life


Mythological crisis – collision of stories


What does soul want?


Rationalizing voices are a sure sign of a complex




Cosmos; order – unfolding narrative


v. chaos


logos and eros


separation – birth of neurosis and consciousness


What was it like before birth? Why is life so difficult?


Trauma of birth – we carry it with us – follows Edenic state when all needs were met


Trees of Eden: Tree of life represents the world of our nature – you are whole and connected. Tree of knowledge represents separation, products of the human world. The split is inevitable and necessary and it makes us neurotic


Freud talks about moving from neurotic misery (causes a split) to ordinary misery.


Lady Gough said works of female and male authors should not be placed next to each other


Stable object; necessary other – blanket for toddler


Each separation is a loss and a gain


Creates ambivalence – I get farther from the source with each step forward


Eating disorders – trying to connect with nurturing source


Read Jung but don’t become a Jungian – find your own path


Ideological seductions – clear moral choices, no ambiguity


Ancestors developed rites of separation:

1.   separation

2.   death – naivety, innocence

3.   rebirth

4.   teaching – archetypal, rites, duties, tools

5.   ordeal – finding resources within

6.   return to tribe


Instead of these rites, our culture has young people going to jobs and getting married – just an extension of the womb


How our culture supports aging and mortality – much less now than in past cultures.


Our ?  isn’t about happiness but about transformation


Our task is to further developmental possibilities


Assimilating shadow – makes you more empathetic


Taking burden on your own shoulders


When myth erodes, something else fills the vacuum – now it’s materialism


Therapy is about one’s approach to the numinous. The numinous is everywhere but it is not a function of the ego world.


BBC Interview with Jung


We become more narcissistic, the less we are connected to what feeds us.


Most neuroses are a conflict of duty


Stop signs are a duty but they do not cause neuroses


John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman


Holidays give vertical dimension to our day to day horizontal life.


Search for numinous, for transcendence, transformation, connection. This is unaddressed in modern culture. Projected into casinos


Jung said about a female schizophrenic patient: She is drowning in that water in which you learned to swim. Split functioning of mind. When you can’t recover the ego’s functioning position.


Human psyche wants to impose myth on chaos of reality


Move from tribe to your shoulders.


Gives purpose, accountibility

Scott Teitsworth