12 April 2019

Patanjali and vrittis

                   Image result for patanjali's sutras

Continuing with Patanjali and the spiritual journey:

What are vrittis?

A vritti is a modification of mind. Our own mind. We have many vrittis, they swirl around and around in our mind as thoughts, like a poor wee mouse stuck on a circular treadmill, unable to get off it. 


they are thoughts and perceptions according to how our inner being translates them 

Some of these vrrittis can cause us great torment, as a vritti is either painful, or not painful. (which is not actually rocket science)

And we all have and do this: again, this is part of the human experience in a lifetime. To do with destiny and the path which we must traverse in a particular incarnations. We are to undergo certain experiences pertinent to a lifetime, and these experiences, including those experiences of our ancestors, impact how we perceive everything. This is just the way it is. Some of our modifications are lovely, like happy times. And some, for many of us, are quite horrible.

There are five vrrittis, or modifications of mind, either painful or not painful: 


right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep, and memory are the vrittis

And why do vrittis actually matter?

They matter in that they: 

  • keep us chained to whatever is happening
  • and the effects of what is happening
  • we get 'stuck' on the never ending cycles of action and reaction, or, more often, reaction leading to another reaction, when a vritti is painful. Sometimes this 'painful' is actually only us taking things personally, and again, this is a human trait which we all have
  • they keep us feeling bad about ourselves when we get caught up in the painful vrittis, with accompanying angst

Rather than trying to psycho analyse the whole vritti thing, I would recommend that we just accept them. We accept that it is part of everyone's make-up, and we can do things about all of this, for ourselves and for our loved ones. It takes a bit of time, but we can all help ourselves out a lot here.  

Unfortunately, a lot of effort has gone into yoga aspirants trying to sort out the whole vritti thing. I did too. And, even more unfortunately, this creates problems which are great obstacles in one's life:

  • it keeps us stuck in the whole action/reaction scenario, because, unwittingly, we are 'feeding' it, by always trying to psycho-analyse 
  • it keeps one in the less positive aspects of ego. Honestly, it does. Always obsessing about things and oneself is not a good expression of ego.
  • it totally stops and blocks spiritual advancement. Even more importantly, it wastes our life if we are always  psycho-analysing, and halts us living a good life. 

The other elements which contribute to vrittis, are liking and disliking. Which, again, we all do. Can we achieve a state of being whereby we are not controlled by the five vrittis, which are painful or not painful, nor by liking and disliking? I do think that we can, and, even if they are only decreased by a small amount, we can experience: 
  • great inner peace
  • acceptance in many areas of life
  • and a sublime happiness
This is why vrittis matter.






5 April 2019

Patanjali: mind traps

                           Image result for rumi quotes

Patanjali's 4th sutra: (or) there is identification with the modifications of chitta

We could liken the sutras to pearls on a thread, each following the other, and linked (via the thread) to the one before and after it.

Why would Patanjali say this? First he told us:

  • now therefore, instructions concerning yoga
  • the cessation of the mental fluctuations is yoga
  • then the seer is established in his own true nature

And, then we learn that when we are not established in our own true nature, we are then identifying with the modifications of chitta. 

What is this identifying? It means that our thoughts and feelings are experienced as being oneself. We are our thoughts and feelings. As part of our human experience, this is what we each know, what we believe, and how we live. And this, actually, is fine. We should never, ever, berate ourselves for being human. For, this identification is part of our journey. We are not all going to delve into the mysteries of The Great Souls who have gone before us.

What are the modifications? They are due to:

  • life's experiences
  • what we carry in our DNA
  • residual past life experience and tendencies
  • our own Path in the present lifetime
  • society's and religion's dictates

All of these, in whatever form they may take, make each of us individual, and unique. So, in one way, they are a blessing. We each have a unique blueprint in a lifetime, and indeed, in each and every lifetime, whilst still being part of the family of humankind. All of the causes of modifications create tendencies. We tend to:
  • think in certain ways
  • react in certain ways
  • have certain emotions
And this is us. This is how we all are. Why would it not be so helpful to have these modifications that we are immersed in?

because there is freedom, peace and happiness in not being bound by our modifications

This is the bottom line. (And, we all do experience this anyway, at various times of our life) 

We are linked through time to one another, and our Souls are able to easier connect when life isn't all about oneself. We can make better decisions because we are not being bound to our modifications, we can feel better about ourselves.


                    Related image
                                         

What is chitta?  Chitta is one of the aspects of our consciousness. We could compare it to chitter-chatter in the mind. Those thoughts swirling around in our head. Round and around. Where do they come from? They come from the above modifications. In particular our ideas of:
  • right and wrong
  • likes and dislikes
  • our feelings
our feelings become thoughts

This, unfortunately seems to have been conveniently side stepped. As human beings, this is what happens, our feelings are an integral aspect of our human journey. They also let us know what is right and wrong, on a deeper level. So they are important. Emotions travel to our everyday mind as thoughts. These thoughts can cause us great distress. 

We can end up 'identifying' with these modifications of chitta. Sort of like getting lost in them. What can we do about all of this? Patanjali has lots of answers, but they are not the be-all and end-all. 

What else can we do aside from whatever Patnajaliji is suggesting? I have a couple of suggestions. We can do what our human-e tendencies provide:
  • love can free us from the modifications of mind
  • our feelings do communicate with us. Listen to them.






29 March 2019

Patanjali and Right Knowledge

                   Related image

Right knowledge

Patanjali placed, in the beginning of the 1st chapter of his sutras, great importance on mind. On types of thought, which is great. Really it is. The thing that stood out for me, here, was the surprising fact that he said that knowledge is the right sort or the incorrect type.

I am being a bit facetious here. Because, of course, knowledge is either right or wrong. However, sometimes we come to a truth, or even just something that we are told, and we take it to heart. Patanjali gets very specific about what is and isn't right knowledge, which I personally am not interested in, as I found that it just kept one in the area of obsessing about things.

Why does right, or wrong, knowledge matter?

It's an interesting facet of human life that we all love to be right. But, in an authentic and growth spiritual journey, and even in everyday life, it stops mattering whether one is perceived to be wrong or right. Whether one is believed, or not. 


It doesn't just have to be about ego, or saying that we are 'standing for truth'. And, whose truth are you, in fact, standing for? For me, it became about it not being my business what other people thought and believed of me. Whether it was from wrong knowledge, or correct. Because I simply stopped wanting to exert control over others. It was as basic as that. 

I am not talking about human decency. I am talking about imposing myself onto others. And, I have seen over and over, that this is a common 'trap' to fall into with spirituality. We each have our own story of our own life, and we each must follow our own Path. And that includes out belief system, based usually, on what we believe to be right and/or wrong knowledge.

in a true spiritual odyssey, our belief systems and thought processes will change as we grow 

How can we perceive right knowledge?

Ah. The crux of the matter. How, indeed.

If I am told something about someone else, and I know from personal experience that the person in question would never say or do what they are accused of, then I always say that they would never do or say that. Whatever the gossip was. Even if I am not too keen on the accused. This is one very human way that I have managed the whole gossip and so-called truth, thing.

There is another way. Which I lived by before getting immersed into the whole yoga-ashram-dogma thing. That really screwed with my head. Because it was always relating to thoughts. Which is not what correct knowledge is about.

And I then went on to learn more about correct knowledge, and my original ways of realising truth were added to, with my studies in deep Maori spirituality. Now this had nothing to do with what and how we think. Not at all. 

How can we perceive right knowledge?

Patnajali, I am quite sure from reading all of his sutras, absolutely personally knew all of the deeper states of Being, and how to get there. But I do find it difficult to believe some of the translations of his works, and in particular, about right and wrong knowledge. A great Soul like himself, I feel, would have known that truth is understood in it's entirety through the third eye: The Eye Of The Soul.

complete truth and understanding is a function of The Third Eye; The Eye Of The Soul

However, having an active third eye is journey that we undertake. It is there, but we need to journey to it. 

What else can we use instead, to perceive right and wrong knowledge? The answer lies in our bodies and feelings. They are always communicating to us, yet we do not always realise this. 

  • our feelings come from our gut. They 'travel' to our minds and become thoughts. Thoughts really can mess with correct knowledge, for our human-ness gets in the way, with our own ideas and concepts.
  • our gut also gets warm when things are good, correct.
  • our skin is a major source of information, for it also 'talks' to us. You know the feeling of when your skin crawls, or grows cold: acknowledge those skin reactions, for they are trying to tell you, in these cases, that something is not right.
  • our heart knows truth. This is not something that can be easily explained. We all have these sensations, of knowing, with absolute certainty, that something is either right or wrong.
  • another little used source of knowledge, with people, is behaviour. We all have our own behaviour patterns. I know people whose eyes go wide when they lie, for example. But this is not true for other people.

Why is it important to distinguish with types of knowledge? It is for two reasons, in particular:


  • a matter of integrity. Without this, we truly cannot go into the deeper aspects of spirituality. 
  • a spiritual aspirant must, at some stage, learn to rely entirely on themselves. Again, without this, the spiritual growth stops.











22 March 2019

The first three chakras, the path to happiness

What are chakras?

The word chakra is Sanskrit, Sanskrit being the language of yoga. Chakra means "wheel". Which would suggest that they are spinning, which they can do. But don't usually. 

They are in the aura, where one seems to ascend from the crown, one descends between the legs, and the rest jut out from the body, both in front and behind from the spine. 

Usually when people are talking about chakras, they are meaning those in the aura, which is quite valid. However, they also exist within the body, and although they are all part of the chakra system, the inner and outer ones are different. Different colours, different attributes. 

the qualities and colours of the chakras in the aura, coming out of the body, are different to those of the chakras proper, which are inside of the body

When I was first taught about the chakras, I was told that everyone had blocked chakras, and that all of the intense yoga practices that we were doing would unblock them. This is a fallacy. We can get psychic gunk in the chakras of the aura, and this has absolutely nothing to do with having any of the so called negative attributes of that chakra. Which I'm not even going to dignify by writing about, because it's all so wrong and silly. 

Let us instead, look at the fantastic-ness of some of the chakras.

The first three chakras

  • base chakra: mooladhara: in the perenium for men, and near the opening of the cervix for women.
  • sacral chakra: swadhisthana: in the sacrum
  • navel chakra: manipura: in the spine behind the navel


                            Related image 

base chakra:

The amazing start of the Inner Spiritual journey. What  happens here, when it awakens, and this is quite easy to do, actually, is that our perception changes. Our whole being changes, really, because we start to feel more vital, in a different way. But we notice it more with how we perceive everything. 

It is the first step from the bondage of everything being about oneself. We know, when it awakenswith every fibre of our being, and without trying, that everything is not about oneself. The absolute entanglement of thoughts and feelings, and their effect on us, changes. They just don't have the same effect on us. We can know this, intellectually, but to have it as a way of existing, it truly is something else. We are starting to become Master of Oneself. 

What causes this to happen? At it's most basic, consciousness and energy separate. For us, inside of us, where it is all happening, the entanglement of being completely immersed in our troubling thoughts or feelings (energy), these are not controlling us. They might be happening, but a different sort of awareness (consciousness) is happening. 

And somehow, we are even more aware of the angst of others, and, because it's no longer "all about me", that caring aspect is stronger and deeper. 

sacral chakra:

                                  Image result for swadhisthana chakra

This is the only chakra where we fulfil our desires and such. But, I have never felt that it was actually desires, but rather more fulfilling the expression of what we do. We have so much energy to get things done. It is such a dynamic chakra. And, because we are not so tied up with the tyranny of our thoughts and feelings, we have more energy for Getting Things Done.

There is a divine taste with the sacral chakra, and no hunger. So one is never that interested in giving in to the wants of appetite nor taste. Food becomes just food. This too is a freedom of bondage, and in this case the hold of all of the senses over our wants and compulsions, it just disappears. The senses get stronger, but their hold over us, especially to do with our wants and desires, this is what dissolves into the ether. 

This is my favourite chakra. It is so beautiful; the world, everything around us, becomes so beautiful. We feel wonderful. And here we also experience something else that truly affects every aspect of our being: we are acutely aware of the soul of each other. We can sense it. This is special indeed.

navel chakra:


                            Image result for manipura chakra

Each chakra is a massive leap in energy and consciousness: both increase with each chakra. The energy is spiritual energy and the consciousness is spiritual knowing. 

And both are extremely amplified at this chakra because it is also involved with so many other things. 

There is so much to tell of this chakra. It is the gateway to other hidden internal realms aside from the chakras, so that is amazing within itself. However, here I am really only talking of qualities. 

The special-ness here, is to do with what we sincerely desire for all beings. From a blade of grass to all sentient beings. We wish the best for every living thing. Including our planet. We can feel the living matrix of everything. There is more to do with this as one progresses through the other chakras, but here it starts. As a massive reality. Life is no longer about Oneself. Goodwill to all life is a reality which is in every part of us, with this chakra.

with each chakra we become more and more immersed into the wholeness of life. every aspect.

There is so much more that I could say about each and every aspect of chakras. They gift us so much. For which I am truly grateful and humbled.







15 March 2019

                             Image result for sayings of patanjali


Why care about interpretations of spiritual texts?

I have learnt, in my long spiritual odyssey, that my interpretation of something can, and does, change, as I evolve. And I expect this evolving and changing, to continue. I am quite sure that this is so for all of us. 

I have delved quite deeply into, on the yogic level, mainly Patanjali's Sutras, and Bhagavad Gita, two ancient treatises on differing aspects, or approaches, of the yoga journey and Path. And with Ancient Maori Lore, even more treatises governing other approaches to deep spirituality. It is much easier, on an intellectual level to study interpretations of ancient teachings. The problem being that we are then approaching our understandings on what others have decided what the teachings mean. It also is not the best way to absorb what the deeper meanings of the teachings, really are.

I shall give an example:

Four interpretations of Patanjali

I first studied Patanjali, as a young swami, in an Ashram. Looking back, the organisation (Satyananda) had just released new copies of Satyananda's interpretations of this book.  Satyananda claimed to be a sanskrit scholar, and a guru. So of course we would hold dear anything that he said. It would be Correct Knowledge. It was like one of our bibles. How blessed were we.  The teacher of the ashram where I lived, again looking back, had obviously just started reading the book. One night he angrily started to read it to us. Angrily, because we (apparently) should have inherently known all of this. (Cults are indeed weird). Satyananda's version really emphasised that we are starting from a rather ignorant understanding of the meditation journey. Which of course, we were. We all do. I found this version to be a bit of a trial though, as it was so intellectual. 

Rather stupidly, I gave this same teacher a copy of Alistair Crowley's version, quite some years later. More spiritual discourse followed which was inspired by Crowley's interpretations. I never listened to them, nor read the book. Crowley was a Black Magician. The so-called story was that he had written this book before he went to The Dark Side. I might add that at the time, I had no idea of the awfulness of Crowley. I was rather stupidly naive.

I was required to take students through Satchidananda's version, at a teacher training course in Bali. I had met this guru many years prior. He had a beautiful smile, just quietly jiggled his body a bit, didn't talk, but did silent laughing. (sound familiar?) He seemed High (high on the spirit, of course). After a few days of teaching from his book, I put it down, and told the students that I was sorry to tell them that the book was rubbish, and that he sounded stoned with the silly way that he was explaining things. Honestly, I was aghast at what I was reading, and it just didn't make sense. This version was being taught a lot in Bali as part of yoga teacher training courses. I hope no-one reading this thought that this version had the best teachings.

I am indeed chuckling as I write all of this. We are all so trusting. The Patanjali version which I wish that I had bought, was a deeply spiritual version. It started from the premise that we are deeply spiritual. It was so inspiring. This was written by someone with deep insight, I wish also that I could remember his name. 

So, just here, four interpretations of Patanjali's Sutras that I can quickly bring to mind.

But there are other ways

By contrast, I often went to a Bhagavad Gita class by Vasudeva Venketiah. I have met several gurus in my time, but Vasudeva was a family man, the most humble and deeply spiritual person whom I have ever known. We would sit, with our Gita book, and as soon as Vasudeva started chanting it, in Sanskrit of course (the olde language of yoga), our eyes would shut. We could not keep them open. And we instantly would enter deep meditation. In this manner, the essence of what is being chanted, it does enter the deeper parts of our being. We absorb it. I truly believe that it was Vasudeva's presence and his correct pronunciation of Sanskrit, that produced these effects.

I also spent ten years learning Maori spiritual Lore. We would do a bit of learning from the Ancient Maori language, then the English translation from the Tohunga ( he was an extremely learned person, a spiritual leader) who had revealed these ancient teachings back into his culture. So, the English translations of the meanings were in fact, correct. But, and this is so important. We were encouraged to have our own understandings, as well. I would add that the Olde language of the Maori is like Sanskrit: it goes deep into one's being, and is extremely healing and uplifting.

Vasudeva and the Tohunga whom I mentioned, have both passed over. But what each taught touched the heart and Soul, of so many. This, I feel, is the best way to learn.