Level 2 Member
Sunday, January 11, 2009, 5:21 AM
For a rather long time, I’ve had this preposterous notion that I know something worth sharing, or that there is something I’m supposed to teach others. I say it’s preposterous, because I am not a socially active or successful person; I have no affiliations, no groups, institutions or religious organizations that I belong to. I’m actually pretty isolated, which would be disadvantageous in furthering any ambitions I may have toward teaching or taking a leadership role somewhere in the so-called real world. But my isolation helps me in some ways toward pursuing my vision and my sense of purpose, because I’m still learning and finding my way. If I’m going to be eccentric in my opinions and my advocacy, it’s probably better that I do so quietly, in relative obscurity, before making any wildly inappropriate public pronouncements.
I have denied wanting to start my own religion, for example. I don’t believe the world needs another start-up (or upstart) religion with a crackpot leader giving sermons to a handful of like-minded malcontents in a vacant storefront in a bad part of town. What good would it do? While I have a lot to say about how the major religions need to change, reform, or clean up their acts, no one’s ever going to heed my advice. The popes and archbishops and imams of the world have agendas firmly chiseled in stone, and their followers have thousands of years of momentum (or inertia) in their institutional culture. I would be a gnat, flapping my tiny little wings half-way across the globe with nary a prayer of gaining their attention, so insignificant they would not bother to wave me away in a dismissive gesture, even if by a miracle I was noticed.
And yet, I find myself with a sense of expansive spiritual awareness that keeps me focused on the very best part of my being, my soul, my center, my joyous and peaceful heart, the spiritual radiance (“agni”) that has begun to glow within me and through me. I jokingly suggested once that I am the pope of my own religion, and its sole member, as well. That’s one of those eccentric remarks that I’m better off not having had much of an audience for. But in all honesty, I have begun to feel that my mystic journey, the seeker’s path, my aspiration and the answers God has given to my most fervent prayers, have added up to something, and I am not alone in my tiny little personal religion. God has been with me from the beginning, fifty years ago, and has showed up in my life, time and again, to teach me or show me both the proof of His existence and my own purpose for being alive.
Some people scoff at believing in God, and assume you must be gullible if you believe, because they think they know that no one can ever know for sure, that it always remains a matter of blind faith, because such a thing as God cannot be proved nor demonstrated. I agree that many believers are gullible and believe in an imaginary God, because their faith is concocted out of a tragic misinterpretation of a fraud-ridden sacred book. But I am not that kind of believer. I have to believe, because I have seen, I have been shown, and I know the truth. God is real. The great saints and sages and satgurus, the yogis and mystics and swamis, God-realized human beings from Buddha to Jesus to Guru Nanuk, Satya Sai Baba, Paramhansa Yogananda, and many others, have followed the true path and discovered the light of God within themselves. Such masters have been a great blessing to the world. What was their religion? It was their own. Ultimately, they each had a one-on-one relationship with God.
So even if I am a religion of one, I am in pretty good company. PEACE and BLESSINGS / da
Friday, January 9, 2009, 1:28 AM
If you've read any of my posts, you probably know already, I'm a big proponent of breath meditation. I can't emphasize enough how vitally important it is to cultivate the awareness of the breath cycle. It seems so simple, but it runs very deep, and can draw you into a higher level of consciousness. A peaceful heart begins in the breath.
So many novices find that their minds distract them from attempts to meditate, and that's normal. It can be overcome gradually, so that your mind will become your servant, rather than your master. One of the things I tell my students is that meditation leads to a shift in your awareness, so that you become physically conscious of the energy of life (called chi or prana) in your body. The way to quiet the mind and experience this energy in its pure form is by learning to focus on the silent places in the body that are alive and aware, but do not think in words or pictures as the mind does.
As you advance, you will learn about the "sushumna," the metaphysical column that runs through the middle of your body, from the lower chakras, through the heart chakra and up into the head. As you breathe in, energy rises from the base of the spine, up the shushumna, interacting with the heart, on up through the throat chakra to the "third eye" chakra that's in the center of the brain (with a nerve contact point on the forehead). The crown chakra at the top of the head is not really in play until the yogi advances through a number of stages; it's the doorway to "spiritual sky," but that's for later.
For beginners, practicing breath meditation at its most basic is so important, and fortunately, it's pretty easy to do. As you inhale and fill your lungs to full capacity, your spine stretches upward, so you can follow the upward movement from your belly, feeling the breath pass the heart in the center of your chest. Some instructors emphasize the continuous cycle, but I suggest a brief pause at the top of the cycle, not holding the breath but keeping the air passage open, remaining inflated (float) for a few seconds. There is a moment of stillness there, between breaths. Then, upon exhaling, the energy of awareness can follow the deflating of the chest, down and in. The muscles around the navel contract, and it drops down, deep into the belly. It does a slow turnaround there; wait for it, don't be in a hurry to inhale again, until you find that moment where it is both necessary and comfortable. The heart, the lungs, the belly, the sushumna, they are all part of the great engine of breath that is so fundamental to life. The breath of life was the Supreme Being's first gift to animate human creatures, and a true yogi is grateful, reverent, appreciative, and attentive to it.
After many years of breath-meditation, I discovered that there is a still place, right over the heart; you can touch your chest with your fingertipes and find it, a little rise on the sternum. It's the most quiet, peaceful, deeply calm, unmoving part of ourselves. It's where you are, at all times. It never moves or changes. You can move every other part of your body, but that place is the still center that everything else revolves around. The best way to increase your consciousness of it is by feeling the breath pass through it, going both directions (in/up, and out/down).
Breath meditation has a mantra that the mind chants silently, synchronized to the cycle. Some peole say you don't need the mantra, and they are dead wrong. The mantra is the key to the whole deal. On breathing in, whisper "Sah..." That is, put your tongue in place to form an "S" to start the in-breath, then open the mouth wider so that as you inhale, the sound becomes "Sah..." Do it kind of slow and gentle. Pause briefly at the top (inflated), then exhale, slowly whispering "Han..." After you've whispered it audibly a few times, then make it quieter and quieter until it becomes silent, but you still say it and hear it in your mind: "sa-han-sa-han-sa-han-sa-han-sa-han-sa-han-sa-han-sa-han..."
This is called the Soaham Sadhana, or Hansa Yoga Meditation. If you can do this breath meditation synchronized to this mantra for several minutes at a time, several times a day, your consciousness will begin to shift into what I would call the meditative state, with improved mental acuity, improved mood, less stress, and the beginnings of authentic spiritual consciousness.
I teach the Sah-Han breath mantra because that's the one revealed to me for my own initiation into the mysteries of an advanced meditation method (with several esoteric techniques), taught by my amazing guru, many years ago. This mantra is referred to as "The Holy Name." There is a story and a symbol attached to it. "Hansa" is the name of the white swan, often depicted as the Swan in the Lotus, a symbol of the divine.
Another great Holy Name is Yah-Weh, from the Bible. The Hebrew letters analogous to Y and W in English are silent consonants. Inhaling with the mind whispering "Yah..." silently, and exhaling on "Weh..." works exactly the same way.
The point is to chant one of the Holy Names silently in the mind in synchrony to the breathing technique. The mind always wants to talk, forcing us to listen to a stream of thoughts. We give it something to SAY, and you also LISTEN to the mantra, so the mind can be occupied with this higher vibration and find momentary quiet. You learn that you are not your thoughts. You are your awareness, you are the observer of your experience, but not the words and pictures in the mind, ideas, concepts, beliefs, theories, assumptions, calculations, analysis, ego, worries, fears, etc. Those are faculties that the mind possesses, but they are not the essence of who you are.
We always want to understand, and learn ideas and concepts, and try to accumulate wisdom. But yoga (union with the true self) deals with spiritual energy in the BODY, as a way to find harmony with our true nature, to gain peace and contentment, balance, health, and so forth. There are many ideas and concepts about yoga that can be explored, but true understanding comes AFTER enlightenment, which is a condition that emerges out of the silence, the stillness, the inner peace and harmony that brings radiance to the aura, as the metaphysical reality arises from the base of the physical. Concepts are mere doodles on tissue paper, signifying not much, compared to direct perception of the essence of life itself.
PEACE and BLESSINGS
Friday, December 26, 2008, 2:37 AM
When it comes to religious and spiritual thought, I can’t ever seem to fit myself into anyone else’s scheme. I’m always the odd man out. Maybe I’m supposed to be; maybe that’s what God wants me to do, work out my own perspective on the matter. I’ve given up on wanting to be an authority; that’s never going to happen, anyway, so it’s not like I have to come up with all the answers.
But I can’t help myself, it’s what I do. I could be called fiercely independent, though I am not literally fierce in any way. I may be fairly meek, but I’m not very humble. I know I know what I know, and I know the best lessons I have learned and the peak experiences of my life came directly from God, to me, personally. I have a purpose somewhere, somehow, in God’s plan (if He has one).
The subject came up of “surrender.” It got my head spinning, and I feel compelled to think and write about it.
My yoga teacher has a book group that gets together every other Monday evening to discuss the reading they’re doing at the time, and to meditate, and share whatever spirituality emerges from that, I suppose. I don’t know, I’ve never gone. When I learned about the group, they were working on “How to Know God,” Christopher Isherwood’s commentaries on the sutras of Patanjali (the founder of yoga, circa 500 BCE). I was too far behind so I was supposed to start coming to the meetings after they started a new book. I was familiar with Patanjali and his sutras from reading about yoga in the public library. I haven’t read them all, and there’s a wealth of material there. I may never get around to a serious study of that material, but at least I have some idea.
Very recently I was given the title of the next book for the group:A Commentary on “Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence” by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J., by Swami Nijananda. The original work was Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure and Saint Claude de la Colombiere.
So the book the class is reading and discussing, starting in January, 2009, consists of commentaries written by an Indian Swami (Master), while the original work was Christian theology, written in the Seventh Century AD. I went to Amazon.com and found the book available for $28 plus shipping. After Christmas, I’m feeling penurious enough to resist paying that much for a book I’m not sure I even want to read. There’s something about this title that disturbs me. So I may not join the book group, after all.
Maybe it’s just me, but I do not have a lot of trust in people who disseminate propaganda regarding “surrender.” It’s a touchy subject for a former member of a cult where that word was pushed at us a lot.
Now, I loved my guru, and all that. He was God in a shiny package as far as I was concerned, and he delivered on what he promised. He taught a method of yoga-meditation that is both powerful and effective, and can give the practitioner an authentic spiritual experience within his own consciousness. We adored him, and I still love him, the way I remember him from back in the Seventies. But the organization that his followers created around him to proselytize and recruit became a classic religious cult, and as far as many of his devotees were concerned, it all went wrong at some point.
Surrender was such a key word back then. Surrender the reins of your life to the guru, surrender your mind, surrender your free will, surrender your money and property. I just finally got a belly-full of it. It was all too much, beyond reason. We laughed at the idea of Social Security back then; we were (most of us) young, and believed that all those years later (a lifetime away), the world would either be blown up or transformed into a golden City of God where no one would need money.
One devoted worker in the guru’s organization finally, after thirty years, found himself feeling cheated, approaching retirement age, with no nest egg, no Social Security or pension, no property. Everything had been voluntarily given in service to “the Lord.” At the end of the road, there was nothing there for him; no gratitude, no support, nothing to assure him of survival at retirement age. He had most of all wanted to be a member of the guru’s inner circle, and had never quite made it there. He became deeply bitter. He is certainly not the only one. Embittered former followers of my beloved guru number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
Why? Surrender. It was too hard, or rather too easy to fail. If we had problems, nagging doubts or objections, it was because our surrender was weak, reluctant, incomplete. If we weren’t living in a constant state of bliss, filled with love and light and joy at all times, it was our own damn fault. What we needed to do was surrender, more and more.
In my own case, I had to learn to separate the spiritual knowledge I gained there from the peer pressure, the propaganda, the political correctness, the party line. When I left, I had to find a way to believe in myself again, in my own life, my own will, my own talents and ambitions and hopes, and learn to live in the so-called real world. It was hard. I felt a very deep grief, the death of a dream, the loss of divine love that I had believed would overcome all my sorrows. God didn’t stop loving me, I know that now. I didn’t fail God.
My own journey has been guided by God since the beginning, and I know that my guru was instrumental in a very profound and amazing way to my spiritual awakening. I will always be grateful for the gift of meditation and the spiritual energy of the yoga my body learned to engage, on its own, while I followed, by feeling, by breathing from deep within, by practicing the mysticism that has defined my relationship with the cosmos. It’s not that my guru was false, neither false prophet nor false God, because I only began to perceive spiritual radiance through his charisma (in the original, religious sense of that word). I “tried” to surrender, many times. I gave my heart, my mind, my attention, my love and adoration, and even more money than I could afford, near the end.
It broke me, of course. No surprise there. Perhaps that was the intention all along, to push the devotees to the breaking point, to make them feel the edge and know the pain of engaging God, what it demands, and what we are, eventually, ultimately unable to give, or unwilling, or unworthy. I felt at some point that I had been inflated to full capacity, and my inner being was awash with love and longing, boundless faith and bottomless disappointment, dreams of peace on Earth in my lifetime, blood, guts and gore, the detritus of the war between one mad army of illusions against another. I burst at the seams, descended into madness, and found myself on a hard concrete floor at the bottom of my own inner dungeon, emptied of both the longing-for and the fear of death.
What the hell was all that about? The impulsiveness and naiveté of youth, transiting in an avalanche of rude awakenings, pounded and pummeled, body blows from every quarter, until my shell was empty and the infant egg of Truthful Man struggled to walk upright.
But that’s just me. I examine my own opinions and often find them clever, but vaguely beside-the-point. I’m not sure how deeply committed I am to them, you see. After all I’ve been through (granted, I have been stingy with specifics), I have serious limits to my confidence that intellectual argument has much relevance to real life. So I’m not arguing against “surrender” in the religious or spiritual sense, exactly. It’s not my call to make for other individuals, and, as you have seen, my opinion is colored by my experience.
But one thing occurs to me that might be worth saying. In this world, this so-called real world, the multi-level terrarium for us crawling critters on this planet, who live and think and work and sweat and make love and make babies and pray the planet will still be here in the morning, all we really have is other people to tell us which way is up. Who do we believe? Who do we trust? Listen carefully to the who and why and what it will cost you before considering the challenge of “surrender,” couched as it may be in religious terminology and glowing platitudes. Because most of the talk is really about certain people surrendering their free will and their minds and their souls and their money and their property and every other damn thing to certain other people.
I believe it actually has very little to do with God, or His plan, of His will. I’m not sure He has a will. I don’t necessarily believe He wants you to do this and me to do that, and go here and go there to accomplish this or that or the other thing so His purpose may be fulfilled. I don’t think He needs much from us, as it is. He’s got the whole Universe in a teacup. All the light, all the love, all the contentment, all the meaning and fulfillment are already in it.
PEACE and BLESSINGS,
realmystic / Daniel Dreamwalker
Friday, December 19, 2008, 12:56 AM
My dear friends;
I am thinking of you and wishing you great joy, not only of this holiday season, but always.
Considering the way the energy has been flowing in my little corner of the universe, I'm doing fine. Some amazing things have been happening. I find that I am receiving more information about how the cosmos operates, now that I have reached a threshold where I might be ready for it. Books are a big part of that right now. I had been reading a book about the chakras, very interesting, but too detailed for my level of interest. I know my chakras, they're open for business, all is well.
Next, I was reading "The Jesus Dynasty," about Holy Land archaeology and finding a tomb that could be where the "royal family" was laid to rest. I learned a lot about the history and culture from that era, in that area. But the coolest thing in the book was finding out that Jesus's biological father (yes, he had one, give it up) was a Jew who had become a Roman legionnaire. His tomb is in Germany! Things they don't tell you in Sunday school...
Most recently, I have had the Kabbalah plopped in my lap, and OMG! This book, I found on clearance at Borders for $3.99, couldn't pass it up, just curious. When I began to grasp what it was saying, it was so profound it practically gave me a seizure, my eyes rolled up into my head and started twitching for over a minute before I pulled myself out of it. Whew!
I didn't know what to expect, of course, but this stuff is really deep. I'm not going to go out and join a Kabbalist cult or anything, but it certainly merits a well-considered investigation. The Tree of Life? As a theistic philosophical system, it resonates deeply with what I've learned in my mystic journey. It's a way of organizing the fundamental concepts of how God created the universe in a series of steps that culminate in the material world, and how principles rooted in the spiritual domain are reflected in individual consciousness.
I expect it will be a while before I really grasp this material, but I find myself sufficiently attracted to it on an intellectual level to engage it seriously. Ultimately, I feel I have enough skepticism and detachment not to get too carried away with it.
I was explaining to a friend today about how I had to learn to "get out of the way," to allow myself to experience the light of the divine, or whatever spiritual manifestation I encounter in meditation, without trying to understand it, impossible as that is. When I meditate, rationality gets put on hold in favor of simple, direct perception. But rationality, objectivity, analysis, etc. are some of the basic attributes of the mind, so they are always a part of what's going on as our consciousness grows and evolves to new levels.
So, I'm learning how practicing pure and simple perception, without thought, has a counterpoint of well-ordered thought processes and understandings made possible by the clarity of mind that meditation produces. This isn't easy to explain, but I keep returning to my primary contention, that enlightenment is not the product of rationality, understanding, intellect or accumulated wisdom. Enlightenment is the result of the Light of the Divine pouring into the brain during deep, thought-silent meditation experiences. Understanding, especially of a spiritual or theological nature, is something that can only come to full fruition post-enlightenment.
So in terms of my evolving capacity for understanding, I find the principles in the Kabbalah/Tree of Life to be very promising and exciting, in that it provides a perspective on God, the creation, and consciousness that I have never encountered before. It has a rich history over nearly three thousand years, and a lot of very smart and insightful people have developed and preserved this information over the centuries.
I need to go back and spend more time with the Sutras of Patanjali, also, because "I am but a humble yogi." And there is always more to learn.
So enough of my blah blah blah. I hope you are well, and as happy as is humanly possible, always.
PEACE & BLESSINGS,
Monday, November 24, 2008, 4:24 AM
Notes from the Mystic Circle
After a dismal time of it the day before, with what I might anachronistically call dyspepsia, I awoke this morning (around eleven, early for me by a good hour and a quarter) feeling quite wonderful. I had slept very well, no doubt, evidenced my the pleasurable sensations in my limbs as I arose, not grudgingly as in many days since passing the age of sixty, but enthusiastically for a change. The breath of life filled my lungs, joi d’vivre was in my heart, and a brief but fulfilling sequence of yoga asanas and stretches was on the program, an auspicious beginning to a good day to be alive.
I had experienced the most astonishing dreams, the last of which were filled with young, energetic strangers, dressed beautifully and fashionably, from an era long lost to our civilization, circa 1963. There were young men on a catalog page, crouching as if preparing to spring forward in a sprint, one modeling gray trousers of impeccable tailoring and substantial fabric, reminiscent of flannel or fine, soft wool. There was a handsome, clean-cut young man wearing a camel-colored coat with a squared, collarless neck line, his hair smoothly combed and carefully-cut.
The last image I found my subconscious creating was a young woman (adult, under thirty) lounging in a chair, surrounded by shadowy admirers, wearing a multi-hued but effectively dark-red pull-over sweater sporting a loose, asymmetrical, over-sized turtle-neck collar. Her hair, a cascade of auburn waves, surrounded her smiling face. Her lips were shiny, dark cherry, her teeth perfect, and her eyes twinkled with a devilish glint. She seemed happier and more cock-sure of herself than anyone should be, understanding the inevitability of admiration from all men, myself included.
All this creative visualization (uncharacteristic as it seemed, in that I am certainly no fashion designer), was preceded by a dream sequence in which I was riding on a bus with Oprah Winfrey. We missed our stop, and had to run across several lanes of traffic to another bus stop to go back the other way. I have no idea what this means.
After yoga and breakfast (cereal with soy milk) I had a day filled with domestic chores like raking leaves and doing two loads of laundry, some time in the studio practicing a few songs on piano and guitar, and being a Sunday afternoon in November, some NFL football watching on TV. In addition to this, I managed to have some reflective moments, even some deep thoughts. During my shower, I muttered some spiritual discourse to myself, under my breath, though my wife is well aware that I often either sing or talk to imaginary audiences while showering and grooming before the bathroom mirror.
In these meditative moments, I reviewed the highlight reel of my spiritual life, which ought be the envy of truth-seekers everywhere, but is generally at odds with traditional religions and their array of mad-dog advocates who would, no doubt, deem my bona fides lacking, and my views sufficiently heretical to condemn me to burning at the stake, on live TV, during the Hour of Power or Anal Robertson’s 700 Club cooking segment.
After my shower, I called my best friend, “Thunder-Heart,” who understands what I’m talking about at least part of the time, when I can get in a sentence or two edge-wise. I told him that I had learned something about myself. “Whether this applies to you, as well as myself,” I told him, “is for you to decide. So for what it’s worth, I’ve come to realize that when it comes to my penchant for spiritual explanations, at my most articulate...I’m a total blowhard.”
My friend paused briefly, deciphering the message, then began to laugh in deep, slow wheezes. I found this response immensely gratifying. I told him that under the influence of Buddhism, I had been observing my mind, and had stripped away another layer of ego. I said, “I just can’t get away with that sh*t any more.”
He found this also hilarious. I completed the hat trick with the following bon mot, one of my all-time best lines: “I’ve learned that sometimes the best advice I can give myself is to shut the hell up.”
My friend cited back to me Mark Twain’s observation: “It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.” He is also learning to reign in the impulse to “Insert profound commentary here” in every conversation with, for example, his girlfriend’s family, but others, as well. Silence is golden, less is more, too much is enough.
It’s a lesson we both are learning, at last. The Old Bulls are running low on BS. The Big-Time Philosopher Kings, Rulers of the Mystic Circle in the Old Gringos’ Campfire Lodge, are becoming wise in our old age. It’s about time...
PEACE & BLESSINGS