Tuesday, January 31, 2012
“Before I was named I belonged to you.”
Wherever I was, hidden in your thigh,
a sycamore seed waiting
a thought preparing to leap forth,
I had no name.
My body had no shape.
My eyes were not yet
Even my face was dark.
What are the features
of that which does not exist?
Nonetheless, I was yours,
an unmarked impulse,
a treasure you carried
like a charm
hung from your vest,
before you sent me
(from "The Ley Lines of the Soul, Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension)
Monday, January 30, 2012
Here's your Daily Poem from the Poetry Chaikhana --
In the market, in the cloister--only God I saw
By Baba Kuhi of Shiraz
(980? - 1050)
English version by Reynold A. Nicholson
In the market, in the cloister--only God I saw.
In the valley and on the mountain--only God I saw.
Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
In favour and in fortune--only God I saw.
In prayer and fasting, in praise and contemplation,
In the religion of the Prophet--only God I saw.
Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
Qualities nor causes--only God I saw.
I oped mine eyes and by the light of His face around me
In all the eye discovered--only God I saw.
Like a candle I was melting in His fire:
Amidst the flames outflashing--only God I saw.
Myself with mine own eyes I saw most clearly,
But when I looked with God's eyes--only God I saw.
I passed away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo, I was the All-living--only God I saw.
Ivan Granger posted the above poem on his Poetry Chaikhana site this morning. I was so taken with it that I am reprinting it here, along with Ivan's comments, which I found particularly arresting. To "see with saint's eyes" is to perceive the world with clarified vision, so that each object or being you gaze up seems to be you yourself--and furthermore, all your surroundings are also beautiful. This phenomenon is frequently reported by saints and visionaries of all eras. To experience it, even briefly, is counted a great blessing. It is one of the gifts that sometimes accompanies deep Kundaini awakening. At this level of consciousness, one experiences total oneness with others, with things, with the world, with God.
Here is Ivan's interpretation, which I feel is right on target:
We have a tendency to read a poem like this with its repeated statement -- only God I saw -- as a sort of affirmation, as if the poet is coaxing the awareness, convincing it to see only God everywhere. Those who are inspired by this, see it as an image of training the awareness to perceive a wider, interconnected reality; while others may reject it as a sort of willing self-delusion or self-hypnosis. These both assume effort in the seeing.
I would suggest neither is correct. Yes, it's true that in the path of seeking truth, there is necessary effort in seeing, and learning how to see. But there is a certain threshold that is passed in deepest union where an entirely different form of perception occurs -- where one simply sees things as they are. With no effort. No will. No self. Nothing left to cloud the inner eye. That's when seeing finally occurs for the first time.
And what does one see? A radiant, living reality in which all things flow one into the other. Or perhaps you might just say "only God I saw."
You still see the forms about you, mountains and valleys, people and their busy world -- but all of that seems like a shifting glaze upon the surface of the shining reality everywhere. Nothing has any real or tangible substance in and of itself. Even your own body, even your own sense of individuality, are seen as phantom-like, the very idea of them disappearing into that living radiance.
No matter where you look, you find yourself proclaiming -- "only God I saw."
See for yourself.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
The is not a political blog, but sometimes it is important to offer material to help clarify the difficult situation our country now faces. Unrestrained corporate growth is, I believe, at the heart of many of our problems. Have we had a corporate takeover of our democratic rights? Would the founding fathers recognize the society of today, where wealth rules and and money controls elections?
Corporations Are People? Really?
by Larry Robinson
Once upon a time in America corporations did not enjoy the privileges they do today. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled at the idea that "corporations are people." The modern business corporation is an artificial creation which shields its owners and managers from accountability and public scrutiny.
The American Revolution was as much a revolt against British corporations as it was against the English parliament and king. The Boston Tea Party was, in fact, a protest against the monopoly on tea sales by the royally chartered British East India Company. It is ironic that today's "tea party" movement is primarily funded and directed by corporate interests.
The newly-formed United States of America was rightfully mistrustful of corporate power; the states were very careful in how they granted charters. Most of the early corporations were for the express purpose of establishing towns and colleges, or for building roads, bridges and harbors - endeavors that were prohibitive for individuals. Business corporations were the exception. In fact, nowhere does the U.S. Constitution mention the rights of corporations.
For the first 100 years of our nation's history corporations were chartered by individual states for a specific purpose and for a specified and limited time. When they had achieved their purpose - or failed to - they were dissolved. They were prohibited from participating in politics and from owning stock in other corporations. In most cases their charters did not shield owners from responsibility for harm done by the corporation.
In the early 19th century bank charters were limited to 3 to 10 years and they were prohibited from engaging in trade. Corporations that abused their charters were dissolved and their owners held liable for any debts or damages. Most states had statutes specifying that corporations existed only to serve the public good. In 1809 the Virginia Supreme Court wrote: “If the object is merely private or selfish; if it is detrimental to, or not promotive of, the public good, they have no claim upon the legislature for the privilege (of being granted a charter)”.
Over time, however, corporate interests were able to convince courts to grant them increasingly greater powers and privileges. In a landmark case in 1886 (Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad), the U.S. Supreme Court declared that a corporation was a “natural person” entitled to all the rights of a real human being. Unsurprisingly, the clerk of the court who wrote the summary was a former railroad company president.
This decision opened the floodgates for what has amounted to a hostile takeover of America’s political system. The 14th amendment, which was intended to redress some of the evils of slavery by recognizing the humanity and citizenship of African Americans, has since been used as the pretext for extending corporate pregogatives and privileges.
However, Mitt Romney’s protestations notwithstanding, the distinctions between corporations and human beings are obvious and significant. Corporations enjoy the power of succession, which means that they can continue to live and accrue capital beyond the possibilities of mortal humans. They are bound by no moral strictures or conscience; in fact, they are usually bound by their charters to place profits ahead of moral and ethical considerations.
Because corporations tend to accrue capital and influence, it is no surprise that this capital and influence are used to affect public policy in ways that grant greater influence and profit. Lucrative defense contracts, farm subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies are examples of how corporations use this power. The greatest return on investment is from lobbying. A $10,000 investment in a political action committee can yield a $10,000,000 government contract.
Regulatory agencies established to safeguard the public welfare are eventually captured by the very industries they regulate. In short, corporations are able to game the sytem in their favor and at the expense of ordinary working people.
Two years ago, in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court struck another body blow against democracy by equating money with speech, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. It is indisputable that money determines the outcome of elections.
Why aren’t we more outraged? Why do we accept this assault on democracy? Isn’t it time we real and human citizens of the United States reclaimed our country? Can we at least level the playing field so our voices can be heard as loudly and clearly as Goldman Sachs or Exxon?
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Ley Lines (Definition) :
Ley lines are invisible energy lines that run below the surface of the earth and mark various sacred sites and settlements along their trajectory.
I think of them as the unseen threads that connect each of us to others as well as to divine source.
What Is Sacred Poetry?
Sacred Poetry is the ongoing effort of the soul to capture in syllables the relation of the self to the larger reality which we call the divine. It seeks to outline in graspable ways the connection of the mortal to the immortal, the confined to the boundless. It is the arriving spirit’s lament for the lost paradise, and its celebration of recurrent joy at its earthly home.
Poetry issues from the realm of the mysterious, that region which resides within us all but which we can explore only through indirect and imprecise means. This realm is not available for direct scrutiny. Occasionally we catch strains of its distant song, or stumble upon fragments of its secret messages. When this happens, we call it a poem.
Poetry weaves the ley lines of the soul.
Commentary: Recently I posted the cover for my upcoming book, "The Ley Lines of the Soul, Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension."
Here are two definitions I placed on the opening pages. I thought they would be helpful for those uncertain of the meaning of "ley lines" as well as for those interested in perspectives on sacred poetry
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
—Naomi Shihab Nye
Monday, January 23, 2012
Kundalini and the Aging Process
After the Fact
The people of my time are passing away: my
Wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year old who
Died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it’s
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:
It was once weddings that came so thick and
Fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:
Now, it’s this and that and the other and somebody
Else gone or on the brink: well, we never
Thought we would live forever (although we did)
And now it looks like we won’t: some of us
Are losing a leg to diabetes, some don’t know
What they went downstairs for, some know that
A hired watchful person is around, some like
To touch the cane tip into something steady,
So nice: we have already lost so many,
Brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our
Address books for so long a slow scramble now
Are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our
Index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:
At the same time we are getting used to so
Many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip
To the ones left: we are not giving up on the
Congestive heart failures or brain tumors, on
The nice old men left in empty houses or on
The widows who decided to travel a lot: we
Think the sun may shine someday when we’ll
Drink wine together and think of what used to
Be: until we die we will remember every
Single thing, recall every word, love every
Loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
Others to love, love that can grow brighter
And deeper till the very end, gaining strength
And getting more precious all the way….
~ A. R. Ammons ~
At first glance, this poem may seem to have nothing to do with Kundalini. But the fact is, that Kundalini does not take place in a vacuum. It occurs within a matrix of many features and aspects, and an important one of these is age itself.
Kundalini awakening in a young person may show a very different face than the same process in someone more mature. The young person in his/her twenties may feel an extremely heightened sex drive and wonder how to deal with it. Someone awakened in their thirties or forties may suddenly feel great surges of “practical” energy and throw themselves into their career or creative activities. Those in their late forties or fifties may suddenly turn their focus on inner rather than outer existence (individuation), whereas those even older may spend time integrating and assimilating their total life experience, including Kundalini itself.
Of course, these are not fixed categories, but suggestions as to how Kundalini may interact with other features of one’s particular life stage. Kundalini may erupt at almost any time of life—I know one woman who was awakened in her nineties (fortunately, she recognized what was happening.) I have also read of children who underwent Kundalini awakening.
One of the great joys of the later stages is that, though the experiences themselves may be less intense, the memory of what is possible is always present to encourage and comfort, the sense that one has “been to the mountain” and the conviction that this state is also that which awaits us once we leave, even though right now we may indeed not remember why we came into the room.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Here is a reflection by Robb Smith of the Integral Institute on "creative ecstasy," a topic I am much interested in. In fact, many of my "creations" (poems") are about ecstasy itself, for it has been a frequent visitor in my life (now much less often and less intense). I have just finished a new book called "The Ley Lines of the Soul, Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension," to be published in a few days by xlibris. When I looked over some of these poems, I realized that some readers might wonder what a practitioner of my age is doing writing about ecstasy, but I did indeed follow the admonition to be true to yourself and present yourself as you truly are. It seems that Kundalini ecstasy knows no boundaries of age and situation.
Here is Robb's essay:
On behalf of Ken and the entire Integral Life and Integral Institute staff I’d like to wish you the very best in this New Year. As ever, we are grateful to you for your love and support of the integral movement and the many ways you’re exemplifying wholeness for a world in transition.
As you take on new things this year I’d like to offer you what I learned in 2011 about how to integrate one’s work in the world with the stillness of a spiritual practice, a question that was raised frequently a few weeks ago at ISE 3: Kosmic Creativity. The question always boiled down to this: How do I help to change the world while also not needing to change it? How do I integrate my creative passion while also cultivating my spiritual peace?
These two ends of the spectrum—deep passionate engagement to something larger than ourselves and enough detachment to not become part of the problem—often seem to be at odds with each other. And yet they are profoundly important questions at a time when the world’s prevailing systems—from economic to education to healthcare—are disintegrating because their current stage of operating is neither complex enough nor conscious enough to meet the life conditions of the 21st century. At ISE 3 I briefly mentioned “four rules of creative ecstasy” and below I offer you a specific praxis of how I achieve this balance (haha, on my good days).
The Four Steps of Creative Ecstasy
Here is a brief summary of the steps, after which I’ll describe how they are also a deep spiritual map of working both in and on a world in transition:
Be unflinchingly honest with yourself and others about who you are and what you are called to do. It is unique and valuable, and at its core will be driven by love as all creativity is.
Take radical responsibility for that vision and never rely on validation from others in order to execute it; your vision is fully your responsibility.
Tap the self-emptying courage required when the terror of that responsibility meets you face to face and forces you to surrender your ego into that fear.
Cultivate the affectionate detachment to the results of your actions that will sustain your presence and courage and ultimately keep your vision fresh, alive and unstoppable.
These four steps represent a cycle that compels an ongoing integration between emptiness and form, between the peace of resting in stillness (no mind) and the passion of executing one’s uniqueness (my mind).
Here is the cycle in greater detail. As you read notice the movement into stillness and out to motion. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Let’s start by bringing motion to rest.
Step 1: Unflinching Honesty
Rest in emptiness in order to cultivate unflinching honesty.
Let go of who you think you are or want to be in order for the truth of who you really are to emerge. You are timeless, spacious and ever-present. From here there is no fear, nothing to be achieved, nothing to be gained. Nothing ever happens. As Junpo Roshi says, “now we’re getting nowhere.” The ability to be absolutely honest arises from a deep practice of emptiness because deception cannot survive without duality.
When you start to differentiate the stories your ego tells you about what you want and the truth of what lies deeper beneath, a funny thing begins to happen: you start to get unflinchingly honest about who you are and what you really are called to do. Not as a clinging, grasping or needy desire to become something different, but a deep and mature recognition that you have a unique vision and to admit merely that it is so. This move brings you into a powerful and grounded posture of responsibility to the world as we know it, that of evolutionary form. We shift from Nirguna Brahman here to Saguna Brahman, next.
Step 2: Radical Responsibility
Embrace form in order to take responsibility.
If you don’t know what you’ll die for, you won’t know what you’re alive for. You will feel fully alive when you’ve told the truth about who you are (step 1) and you’ve taken complete responsibility for your unique vision (step 2). Getting out there on the edge of your own capability and daring to say to yourself exactly why you live is simply the most powerful and sure proof way to feel fulfilled. Said simply, it’s easy to take responsibility when there’s no risk or fear; this step is about seeking responsibility precisely where it becomes it’s scariest and hardest to do so. It will be irresistibly exciting.
Really you have no choice than to be that which you are. You have a unique vision and when it derives from a place of stillness it will, in its essence, be love by any other name. You might call it your unique self. Take full responsibility for it. No one needs to validate your uniqueness or your vision. The more powerfully situated in love that it is—consider Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi here—the more people will feel called towards it. (But be careful not to mistake your individual responsibility with social regard from others, an instant ego trap that will make step 3 very hard.)
In my experience, when done properly there should be the onset of a feeling of terror. Not a “Nightmare on Elm Street” kind of terror but an awesome, exciting terror that you have found your edge: you are staring into the abyss being called to do something you have no guarantee you can do or whether you’ll succeed. Unfortunately, with that excitement usually comes an over-attachment to a new story of yourself and a new self-identity. Now the hard part … you have to let it go. It’s time to move back to Nirguna Brahman.
Step 3: Self-Emptying Courage
Rest again in emptiness to tap courage beyond self.
There is only one way through the terror of taking full, personal responsibility for your deepest vision, which is to tap the inexhaustible courage that comes from letting go of the results of your actions. Which means letting go, again, of who you think you are. It is counter-intuitive that it takes courage in order to act fully with affectionate detachment (coming in step 4). But this is the proverbial leap of faith: the decision, sourced quietly in the stillness of your heart (for it is rooted there), to let go of your story, your vision and your need to be anything other than what you already are. Done properly, this will bring another kind of terror: “I won’t amount to anything.” “How can I be happy if I let go?” “Won’t I just fall into a mush of nothingness?” “Will I be bored?” “What about my damn vision!?” and a hundred other terrifying prospects.
This third step is the hard part. It’s where many of us get stuck and where the ego loves to keep us stuck. As we know, it’s easy to be passionate about something if we’re curious. It’s even easier to be indifferent about everything if we’re cynical. The magic, the real tricky bit of a life in practice, is to be so wildly passionate about something that you’re indifferent about nothing and in turn not attached to anything. Give that some thought. Then let the thoughts go, because it’s time to get busy.
Step 4: Affectionate Detachment
Embrace form while resting in emptiness to act with affectionate detachment.
You’re now ready to act. Acting without being attached to the result is the height of artistry and creative flow. Affectionate detachment will sustain your presence and courage and keep your vision fresh, alive and unstoppable. Here is the mantra: Expend energy, not effort. The real giveaway when you’re attached to your actions as downstream outcomes is when you are struggling with effort. By my usage, effort implies psychological and emotional strain. Expending energy can be intense, even physically taxing, but it need not be hard. If you find your energy is becoming effort, reexamine where you’re attached to outcomes and go back to practice in step 3.
For some real practice, see if you can generate real, genuine passion about a complete failure of your vision. How might your failure lead to a more profound success for the next effort of its kind? How can you possibly know? We love to imagine that if we achieve what is in our mind’s eye all will be well. What fools we are! We simply do not have the wisdom or the prescience to know what a certain happy future looks like. We only ever know what causes suffering in the present, and it always is when we hijack the present with our imaginative future fantasies or our retrospective memories. By acting from a place founded in the first three steps, our actions, vision and determination remain fresh, centered and alive. And because we’re not fatigued by the slings and arrows of disappointed expectations, our energy remains abundant.
Many people will think that this step is very hard, but I contend that if you stay deep in practice in step 3, you’re already partly home for step 4. Step 4 is about acting fully and forcefully from emptiness. It is not weak, soft or limp. It is focused, passionate and engaged. And yet it also allows what will come and lets go moment by moment. It allows a deeper intelligence in the fabric of reality to work how it will. It is humble yet strong and the power one can feel from someone in this space is JUST…PLAIN…AWESOME.
(The video to watch here is Jill Bolte Taylor’s presentation at TED. Watch how she led an audience that was still largely afraid of tapping stillness and the way in which it moved them beyond themselves with her courage.)
I’d like to think that in the 22nd century an embodiment of this cycle will be minimally required of a future “President of the United Nations.” Indeed it is pivotal to how power and leadership is crafting the world we know and so far the record is very mixed. Just imagine if the leaders of the 20 largest nations and the 20 largest companies in the world were able to articulate a compelling vision in service to love, have the courage to stand up for it against all odds, and most importantly encourage it to find its healthy expression through an example of non-grasping, non-attached leadership that inspired others to do the same. The result might be a natural upwelling of “right action,” selfless and loving service that acted with discernment and precision in the moment but then allowed the next moment to be encountered afresh.
So let me close with a provocative idea: these leaders need their own leaders to look up to and follow. I’d invite you to consider the very real possibility that one of these people, the person who these CEOs, world leaders, and even community leaders can look up to—a person who is setting a groundbreaking example of leading from love, a person who is integrating passion and peace in a serious and focused way, a person who is moving the needle for a world in transition, that this person, this unique individual leading from creative ecsasty, is none other than you. And that 2012 is the year in which you tap the courage and engage the practice to do so.
Here is wishing you a terribly exciting 2012. Go get on the edge and stay there.
Warm new year regards,
Robb Smith is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Integral Life, Inc. and Chief Executive Officer of Integral Institute, Inc. Previously, Robb pioneered Nevada's technology economy by founding Nevada Ventures, the state's first venture capital fund. He was a director of Alere Medical, a three-time "Inc. 500" awardee and was Nevada's Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
(image from internet source)
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Nobody wants it,
all this talk of God stuff,
things that go bump
in the night.
Has anyone ever seen him,
this so called savior
with a halo of iight,
a face that glows.
the right idea:
put him up on
where he belongs.
Let him reach out
and touch Adam alive,
genitalia and all.
Genitals are real,
something we can
all agree upon,
like a good martini,
or the smell
of a brand new car.
As for the rest,
it is merely
a trick played on us
by pastors and priests
who want us to bow down,
kiss the ground in front
January `5, 2012
The above poem is not intended to be taken at face value. It is ironic, spoken by a presumed "intellectual" who has "seen through to where nothing is" (Flannery O'Connor). It is meant as a protest against the overwhelming tendency in modern writers to exclude all references to "the divine" or "creative source" or 'higher dimensions" or even transcendence from their writings. Many of their poems and other works are well written, indeed are extremely effective as poems or fiction. But it is as if this point of view is the single perspective that the modern reader is exposed to.
Would Rumi be appreciated if he were writing today? Or even Graham Greene?
Kundalini has been described as "God moving through your body." What would such folk make of Kundalini when it arrives in its blissful form? If this were their experience would they continue to be in denial?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The Under Water Poems
My job is to yield.
I like to sway,
letting the currents lift me
this way and that.
Even when the mood
when gales sweep
I feel pleasure
in my fringed body,
my elements stroked
as if by an earthly
What the Fish Said
I dart hither and thither
as I please.
No one tells me
when to move,
when to pause,
when to hurry
I like this sense
of guiding my
of being alone
in my search.
What I discover
is mine alone,
to feed hunger
or pass by.
I am the sum
What I value
What the Empty Shell Said
I once held a treasure
in my swirling arms,
a prize to adorn
my secret heart.
Now I am empty,
vacant as a skeleton’s eye,
useless as a necklace
that has lost its jewel.
Who will want me now?
Who will admire me,
remember my lost charms?
January 17, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Here is an interview I recently ran across from Daniel Odier, Tantric Master, translator of Spanda Karika (divine pulsation). This is the tradition I identify strongly with, since it stresses that everything is vibration, from the beginnings of the cosmos to everything contained in it. It is also the tradition that practices the tandava, a very slow series of free movements (dance) to awaken and circulate the inner energies. Although Odier includes much on tantra as sexual practice, there is much in Kashmiri Shaivism that has to do with non-sexual approaches, for tantra extends to various somatic experiences, not necessarily sexual in nature. (I follow the latter variety).
Dr. Patti Taylor: For those of you new to all of this, Tantra is an eclectic collection of practices passed down through the ages leading to the expansion of consciousness, divine bliss, and awakening. Welcome, Daniel Odier.
Daniel Odier: Yes.
Dr. Patti Taylor: We are talking to Daniel Odier in France. I understand you are in Normandy at the moment?
Daniel Odier: Yes
Dr. Patti Taylor: Daniel Odier is a Tantric Master initiated into the lineage of Kashmiri Shaivist Tantra. He has been ordained as well into the Zen Soto tradition and received transmission into the Chinese Chan lineage. As a university professor, Daniel taught both Tantra and Buddhism. Presently he gives workshops and seminars all over the world. He is a prolific author. Two of his best-selling books include Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening, and Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love.
I am pleased to have with you today. I think our listeners would love to hear what these masters of consciousness have to say about desire. I think there a lot of confusion out there: Can desire really be a good thing, or better yet be a path to bliss? And if so how can we have more of it? So today we will find out what Kashmiri Shaivist Tantra is, why is desire is considered a blessing and what happens to our lives, including our love lives when we infuse our every waking moment with desire? So let’s get this started.
Kashmiri Shaivist Tantra—Daniel, can you tell us what it is?
Daniel Odier: It comes from the sacred tradition from the Hindu valley that thrived very widely in Kashmir in the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries. There were many, many great masters. Then in the thirteenth century it disappeared a little bit and became more secret. This is really the tradition that seems to disappear and surface again. But it is rejoicing to see that it never disappears; in fact it just goes into hiding and suddenly reappears. The very original approach is based on the vision of Vasagupta in which he links the all desire to all movement of the human mind on the path to awakening.
So, there is absolutely nothing which is withdrawn or forbidden. We use absolutely all emotion, all desire, all tradition, very much in the world, to become more vibrant.
The whole thing is based on the idea of Spanda. Spanda means vibration. It is a little bit like a musical instrument. In order to get the vibration, which is our own nature, we have to practice very special yoga which is called Tandava, which is a dance. It is a most ancient form of pure efforts of mystical dance, very beautiful, that may look a little bit like tai chi but is completely different.
Dr. Patti Taylor: So you interpret one of the most beloved Kashmiri Shaivist doctrines, the Yoga Spanda Karika, which I might say is one of the most incredibly poetic and amazing Tantric doctrines I have every read. The principles in there could have been written on the subway yesterday. They are so relevant and crisp. Could you just tell us a few of the principles as well as the part about desire, just as a foundation for where we’re are going? Just a few more of these Tantric principles for us, perhaps from the Yoga Spanda Karika?
Daniel Odier: The main idea of the Spanda Karika is to take the whole human being as one and not to divide it into purity or impurity. And this is really the whole tradition of Tantra which is the vision of the most ancient text of yoga. Of course, to achieve this unity you have to go back and to accept all the different faces of yoga. Finality and the liberation are going to blow this finality to a state of illumination where all the choices are going to vanish into space. Space is another word for Spanda. if you reach liberation you reach illumination and space.
Dr. Patti Taylor: Wow. So the whole point of the Kashmiri Shaivist is to go into liberation and to get that we are this beautiful space, and to end the separation, and to get that we are this amazing wholeness. And these separations, that I think we all have, we see a lot of people that say well, how do I reconcile my sexuality with my spirituality? But I guess for a Kashmiri Shaivist that’s kind of a silly question, wouldn’t that be?
Daniel Odier: Yes because the practical event is completely open to sexuality. There is absolutely no contradiction, no difference. The fact is that the body is totally the integrated to the past. We have to reconcile the body and the mind and the emotion as one thing. This is the yoga, to be one again without separation, without distinction, without anything that is taken off of the body to be considered impure. Impurity is a word that does not appear in the Tantra. It is a concept that we don’t have.
Dr. Patti Taylor: So, thank you. But you do have Shiva and Skakti now and many listeners may be hearing that word for the first time. That is the essential male and female principle, is that correct?
Daniel Odier: Yes. In the constant love play they are one in every Tantric text. Most of the Tantric texts state that Shiva and Shakti are one in the knowledge and one in the body. It just divides the dialogue which is the teaching of the Tantra.
When the Tantra is explained, or shown, the sexual union is one again. The teacher is teaching that they should be regarded as one thing. This is exactly what the yogi or yogini try to achieve— to be this one thing. Not to be a male, not to be a female, not be anything but the space where everything is alive.
Dr. Patti Taylor: You tell a beautiful story in your book Desire, about an ancient legend where the gods and goddesses gave the power of divine pleasure to women to give to men to absorb all the strong male energy back into balance on the earth. And everyone was happy with this arrangement. I love that story from your book Desire. And I was wondering what does that story have to say to us today in today’s world?
Daniel Odier: I think it’s very important today because there is still a kind of struggle between the genders with each one try to get the most. If you consider the human being as the unity of both, then you can explore the path you miss and integrate the path you miss. Good yogis or yoginis integrate both parts of Shiva and Shakti and this is one of the ends that you get to—to be this one union of the masculine and feminine.
In the past it was very frequent that the male master would wear women’s dresses or a female master would wear men’s dress to express this unity that they were not really a man or not really a woman but the union of both.
Dr. Patti Taylor: So it’s more about really embracing our fullness of all of our energy. So for the woman, is it really for the woman to embrace her Shiva nature and for the man to embrace his Shakti nature? Is it for all of us to come into that balance within ourselves then?
Daniel Odier: Yes because in a way the yogi or yogini has to be sensitive to vision, and if he is not the incarnation of the Shiva/Shakti then a part is missing. The beautiful thing is that when you are one you feel that nothing is missing because you are both parts.
Monday, January 16, 2012
We decided to do it together,
my new friend and I,
she had arrived here
didn’t know many people,
and I, carless,
was glad for the good company
as well as the ride.
And so we headed out to the
old Chautauqua center,
one of the few still going
in the country,
set at the bottom of a great mountain,
where a massive upheaval once
and now a place much frequented
by hikers and sight seers,
particularly on days
when the sun was bright,
polished coins glinting
on autumn boughs.
We started low
(on my account),
where the trail did not climb,
but meandered flat
along the base,
sinuous as a snake,
carved from eternity.
I told her to go ahead,
not wait for me,
I wasn’t really expecting much
from this venture
beyond some healthy exercise,
and then it happened,
I was swallowed by
a silence so vast
I thought I had
into a deep well
where nothing existed,
only the mountains
austere in the distance
and the hollow spaces that held
January 15, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
The above is the cover design for my newest book, due out very soon. It is called "The Ley Lines of the Soul, Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension." The designer was N. M. Rai, my gifted photographer/artist/poet friend who kindly offered to do the cover. I will keep you posted as to actual publication date. The publisher is xlibris, a self publish firm. You may not know it, but most traditional publishers today will not consider poetry at all, so you must self publish if you want to produce a print volume of poetry.
Others also helped me on this project, including Maggie Powell who did all the preliminary set up, and Peggy Wrenn, who sent off the final fax for me last night. It is truly great to have such helpful friends--I am deeply appreciative for the work that everyone put into this project.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal - Naomi Shihab Nye
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well -- one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own
gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor,
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her.
What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four
hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew -- however
poorly used -
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical
Following day. I said no, no, we're fine, you'll get
there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let's call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on
the plane and
Would ride next to her -- southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took
up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies --
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts --
out of her bag --
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It
was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler
The lovely woman from Laredo -- we were all covered
with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from
huge coolers --
Non-alcoholic -- and the two little girls for our
flight, one African
American, one Mexican American -- ran around serving
us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar
And I noticed my new best friend -- by now we were
holding hands --
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate -- once the crying of
-- has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other
This can still happen anywhere.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
W. B. Yeats (1865-l939)
Yes, I know.
This is the time
of the second coming.
The great beast lurking,
the savage heart
beating once again.
Somewhere in the desert, yes,
that blank and pitiless stare.
The haunches moving.
The stealthy advance.
Shall we watch in horror and dismay?
Do we turn away
or witness in silence and despair?.
The vision falters,
the image fades again.
That distant struggle
in the clouds of dust--
is this the specter
we ourselves have made,
created from our inner dreamscape
of grasping and desire?
Are we ourselves
the approaching shape
of darkness drawing near?
- Dorothy Walters
This poem is written in response to W. B. Yeats' famous poem, "The Second Coming." The title of his poem refers not to the return of the Messiah, but rather to the appearance of a "great beast" with an expression "blank and pitiless as the sun" which is "slouching toward Bethlehem" to be born. He locates the appearance of the beast in the Middle East, and describes him as half human/half brute animal.
Yeats (one of the most renowned poets of the last century, one who was often considered one of the "last romantics") was himself very much interested in the occult. He went to seances, knew Madame Blavatsky, was connected for a time with the Golden Dawn (an esoteric society), and himself had various visions. He even wrote a book (actually, it was dictated by "spirit guides" to his wife, who transcribed their dictations through automatic writing). His book is called "A Vision.'' It is very complex and difficult to comprehend. Many of his poems were very affirming, for he looked to the glories of the past in myth and literature, and also wrote of his own longings and loves in extremely romantic (not realistic) terms. He sought to affirm the beauty in human experience, rather than exposing humanity in all its flaw and frailties, as so many contemporary "realists" do.
Yeats (who died in l939, just at the outbreak of WWII) was convinced that we were approaching a turning point in human history. He felt that each age was followed by its opposite, though each also contained the seed of the coming era. He represented these cycles of history by what he called gyres--based on the winding spools for thread in local factories. Thus, we are (according to him) now nearing such a turning point--the end of a Grand Cycle and the beginning of another. The new cycle will contain more violence and chaos, more devastation and dissolution of old structures.
When we look around us, Yeats' prediction appears to be true. We are ending one cycle, beginning another of vast destruction, with terrors committed by those whose faces are indeed "blank and pitiless as the sun." At the same time, the seeds of a different society are also present.
My poem asks if the destructive aspects of "the great beast" are in fact created by humans themselves, if we are not responsible (perhaps through greed and lust for power) for the devastation now overtaking the world.
This is a dark poem, one I wrote to express my concerns of the moment. However, I personally, do not believe that the future is totally bleak. I often say that the world is falling apart and rebuilding itself--through personal revelation and spiritual transformation--all at the same time. Kundalini, in my view, is an essential aspect of this process. Kundalini can infuse the individual and the world with love beyond measure and once the tipping point is reached--who knows?--we may be in for a massive transformation of the planet and the human species beyond anything we can imagine.
Perhaps this is why we have come here at this time in history--to help humanity survive this seeming holocaust and be reshaped into a new image.
Here is Yeats famous and frequently quoted poem that I refer to:
THE SECOND COMING
by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
W B. Yeats
Monday, January 09, 2012
William Shakespeare - Sonnet #29
When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
This is one of my favorite Shakespearean sonnets. It describes how we may feel when "things are not going right" in our lives. In the first line, he speaks of "fortune and men's eyes." During the Renaissance, "Fortune" (what we might call "Lady Luck") was of major importance. She was often depicted as sitting atop a wheel (the wheel of chance?) and as she moved up and down she carried us with her. In this poem, the speaker is definitely "in the pits" as we might say.
He cries out to heaven for help, but his cries are "bootless". Perhaps he means they are as useless as a swift kick would be with bare feet.
These are the times when we compare ourselves to others and feel that "they have it made"--some seem to have better prospects, are better looking, are blessed with more friends, and have more talent. At times like these, nothing satisfies us, even those things that usually give us the most delight.
And then, at the end, the mood shifts. "Haply I think on thee"...obviously the speaker here is referring to a lover or friend, But what if, instead of a human subject, we thought of this line as referring to Kundalini itself and the deep sense of divine connection and exhileration that it brings. We realize how very lucky we are to have such experiences in our lives. Even the memory of such times of connection helps to lift our spirits, reminding us that we need not succumb to despair, for we know at our deepest level that the sacred is real and that we are a part of it, no matter what our external circumstances may be.
Friday, January 06, 2012
Excerpt from "The Four Quartets" by T. S. Eliot (l888-l965)
Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
T. S. Eliot was one of the major voices of twentieth-century poetry. His life was quite interesting--it involved a major shift of perspective--indeed, a deep spiritual transformation-- rather late in life. In his earlier years, his writing was marked by a sense of despair and also an elitist attitude toward the "lower classes" as well as certain minority groups (especially Jews). He later converted and became a committed Christian (high Anglican), and from that time on his poetry became much more spiritual and compassionate, with focus on the ultimate questions rather than offering a superficial critique of those he considered inferior. He also gave up his earlier sense of impotence and ineffectiveness (as in the famous "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock").
Although he underwent a conversion to the Christian faith, his work from this time also included elements of Buddhism and universal spiritual concerns. If we look at this excerpt from a general spiritual perspective--more specifically as it might be applied to Kundalini itself, with the inner transformation it brings--we note some major parallels. Thus he speaks first (here) of the "intense moment"--and indeed Kundalini awakening is one of the most intense moments we can experience on this plane. And, after the initial shock of awakening, there is a seemingly endless period of moving into deeper and deeper levels of the experience, even when nothing seems to be happening.
He then implies that all of history is involved in this seemingly personal experience (the whole tradition of belief and practice which precedes one's subjective transformation), and causes us to reflect that each moment of our lives is also involved in every other moment of what seems to be the "present." (Eliot was a great believer in the importance of tradition as that might impact one's personal life.)
As for the experience of love--whether or not it is on the human or what is acknowledged as the "spiritual level" (love of God and the divine)--each of us likely has had such moments, when one is so captured by the burning of love within the self that all awareness of time past and time future fade out of consciousness and only the present sense of love/bliss connection is with us. He calls us to move always into "a deeper intensity," a fuller communion with the ultimate, even when we lapse into times of despair and disillusionment.
"In my end is my beginning." Every single experience we have ever had--probably even those we encountered as babes in the womb--has marked us forever--thus my 'beginning" is incorporated into "my end"--where I am now in my life and where I will be at its end.
For those who undergo Kundalini awakening and wonder how it all started--it (the preparation) began at the moment of birth (or before) and all of life since then led to this present expression. We are the sum of each preceding moment, just as our present experience will lead us into ever more complex and comprehensive states of being.
(The above is not a "critical interpretation" such as we might find in an academic tome, but rather my own personal rendering of how this expression of faith might be applied to an experience as deeply transfiguring as Kundalini, which I think of as a totally sacred experience, leading us to ever deeper connection with the divine.)
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
William Blake (1757-1827), best known perhaps for his "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience," was also an advanced mystic. Even as a child he saw angels, and he "channeled" volumes of esoteric poetry, which scholars sometimes dedicate whole years to interpret. When his beloved brother died, he saw his spirit ascending to heaven, clapping his hands as he went. His brother's departed spirit became Blake's own guide, and his brother even gave him the formula for the engraving method that Blake subsequently used to dramatic effect.
Blake was an artist, and, when another of his spirit guides appeared to him, he was able to draw his picture. The form he drew was not truly humanlike. Dressed in the clothing (male) of the age, the figure had a face suggesting an insect or reptile. Blake was on close terms with his guide, but the appearance of the latter makes one reflect on accounts or at least speculations that aliens from other realms might in fact have an appearance resembling insects or reptiles (some speculate that this is the reason they do not appear to humans--for fear we might be too disturbed by this appearance. Others claim to have seen figures with reptilian features moving among us today.)
Blake got little encouragement or recognition (and less money) during most of his lifetime, but he is now rated as one of the greatest writers of his time.
“To see a world in a grain of sand And a Heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an Hour.”
"If the doors of perception are cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern."
"The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"
"Blake's greatest disciple . . . W. B. Yeats, announcing the end of a cycle and the advent of the 'rough beast,' was but following Blake. 'The rise of soul against intellect, now beginning in the world,' announced by Yeats, has brought with it a return to the excluded knowledge -- Neo-Platonism, alchemy, astrology, Cabbala -- besides the more recent studies of Indian metaphysics, comparative mythology, psychical research, and the psychology of the unconscious. All these and other related fields of knowledge, once dismissed piecemeal, are now seen to belong to a coherent way of understanding and exploring what we choose to call 'reality.'"
Kathleen Raine, "Blake and Antiquity"
Obviously, ours is also an age of "return to the excluded knowledge." This return began in the fifties, with renewed interest in the areas such as tarot and astrology that Raine lists above.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
New Year's Resolution
Well, I did it again, bringing in
that infant Purity across the land,
welcoming Innocence with gin
in New York, waiting up
to help Chicago,
Denver, L.A., Fairbanks, Hon-
the high school bands are alienating Dallas,
and girls in gold and tangerine
have lost all touch with Pasadena,
and young men with muscles and missing teeth
are dreaming of personal fouls,
and it's all beginning again, just like
those other Januaries in
But I've had enough
of turning to look back, the old
post-morteming of defeat:
people I loved but didn't touch,
friends I haven't seen for years,
strangers who smiled but didn't speak--failures,
I refuse to leave it at that, because
somewhere, off camera,
January is coming like Venus
up from the murk of December, re-
virginized, as innocent
of loss as any dawn. Resolved: this year
I'm going to break my losing streak,
I'm going to stay alert, reach out,
speak when not spoken to,
read the minds of people in the streets.
I'm going to practice every day,
stay in training, and be moderate
in all things.
All things but love.
~ Philip Appleman ~
This is a poem that reveals a sensibility very different from that of Rumi or Rilke. It is extremely modern, given over (in its opening) to irony and objectivity--until the end, when the poet softens, becomes more optimistic, and speaks of love.
I think one of the challenges for us in today's world--especially those of us who have experienced deep spiritual awakening--is to live in both worlds--to appreciate the contemporary sensibility (which may involve ironic detachment and exclude transcendence)--and also to be in deep resonance with the truly great visionaries, who affirmed divine presence and holy love.
I think our challenge is greater than it would have been in other eras--when one could more easily tread a sacred path--and made ever more difficult today, when irony and skepticism seem to prevail.
Thoreau had a phrase I love. He speaks of "innocence clarified by experience." None of us today can claim to be totally innocent--we see too much of the world for this. But, if we are lucky, we can still retain much of our original innocence, not rejecting it and becoming disillusioned or bitter, but allowing it to be "clarified" (made more pure) by experience.
Thus we are able at times to connect through Kundalini bliss states or other moments of transcendence with primal purity, the unadulterated truth of our being, the state we recognize as our true selves.
(photo found on Photobucket)