27 April 2018

Gods, manifestation, and chakras

                      Starry Galaxy - Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA
The Gods and Goddesses within manifestation

When we get past thinking of the Gods and Goddesses as merely objects of worship and trying to attain 'realising' them, having visions of them on a spiritual level, trying to feel their energy, (and I this is the process which I did on the yogic path - and I'm sure that many others have tried to do this, too) and instead start the process of appreciating that the Gods and Goddess are present in all creation, are Masters of creation, they are always there, then the reality of them, changes our perspective.

There are different Gods and Goddesses, for different areas of being. They don't all do the same thing. In the Maori Lore, about 2,000 are acknowledged; I don't know how many are deferred to in the yogic scheme of things.

The descent of Divinity

However, there does come a point in spirituality where the Divinity and the Gods and Goddesses become real to the aspirant. If we sincerely keep going, no matter what the path, they will be a reality on our journey.

And then we can move into the descent of energy from them. This does not happen all of the time, and we may have to wait many years for it to happen, but happen it can, and it does. 

Forget Kundalini being the be-all and end-all; it pales into significance alongside the Divine descent of the energy and reality of a God or Goddess. Having said that, the kundalini journey is a profound way for coming into the reality of the Gods and Goddesses.

Chakra Divinity

And with chakras? The Gods and Goddesses of the chakras are a reality too. Their divinity feeds each chakra with the manifested quality of that chakra, on both a knowing (God) aspect, and also a doing (Goddess) aspect.

We do not own the qualities of the chakras! They are gifted to us, they emerge, a level at a time. First there is stimulation of a chakra, and that stimulation is to do with prana. It is increased prana that is usually the means of stimulation.

Then there is awakening. These awakenings can be pleasant, or.... scary. When Manipura woke up inside me, the prana sheath, pranamaya kosha, woke up first, and it was a tumultuous happening; I shall never forget it. Nothing in any book could have prepared me for that event. 

Manipura chakra woke up that night, and, a few months later, the energy and force of Ma Kundalini awoke. I felt as though the energy of an atom bomb was building up inside of me, when the energy of Mother Kundalini was loosening, and this all happened in the blink of an eye, before it exploded. I won't forget that, either!

The chakras, they awake one by one. The ascent of kundalini is different from the awakening of kundalini. And, even after this ascent, there is still more to come, to do with the chakras.

When Mooladhara comes to life, a bolt of white lightning shoots up inside the spiritual spine, Sushumna, to the crown. It is not kundalini awakening, however. Between this, and full kundalini ascension, full chakra awakenings on all levels, there are many, many levels of understanding which emerge.

When a special energy Crown chakra (sahasrara) experience happens, the full chakra qualities are gifted by the individual Gods and Goddesses of each chakra. And, with that Crown chakra energy experience, they will show themselves, in all of their glory, seated on their chakra.

How blessed are we to have this happen!

                                     Image result for chakra gods
(mooladhara chakra with it's sounds, animal, god, and goddess)

Incorrect information

I always cringe inside when I hear people talk about the chakras, fully confident of their 'knowledge' about them. And I feel this way, because the so-called knowledge out there, is incorrect.

Chakras are to do with our psyche. They are realms which each have both a personal power, and differing abilities. I have mentioned, so often, in this blog, how the base chakra, mooladhara, is about our consciousness, and everything that we experience emotionally and mentally, becoming separate.

That is, we have a different sort of awareness. And, when we are no longer defined by what we think and feel, what we want, what we like and dislike, we are, indeed, a different person.

We are stronger, more secure in our awareness and knowingness. Perhaps this is where the silly notion that mooladhara is about security on a material level. No, it's about an inner security which is separate from the usual human condition that we have. Plus, one no longer has longings for material acquisition.

And, still using mooladhara as an example, that awareness, which does have strong intuition in it, gets strengthened with the differing layers of chakra awakenings. 

The non-attachment to the material realms, is also strengthened, more and more. Knowing this, personally, is why I get irritated at people being fed chakra misinformation.

How can, again using mooladhara as an example, what we 'think of' as our security, bear any resemblance to the non-material gain of inner security, of this chakra?

These other awakenings are not in the books, they are not common knowledge, but they do exist. I do understand, very clearly, and from personal experience, that until we experience something for ourselves, we cannot truly understand it.

And, as far as manifestation goes, these chakra awarenesses,  on any level, are part of the manifest ascension of spirituality.

When we meet this, with the descent of the Divine spirituality from the Gods and Goddesses, this is indeed powerful, and divinely profound.


20 April 2018

Mind and Awareness

                                 Image result for kahlil gibran quotes on mind

Why, O why, do we focus on The Mind?

I have often wondered why there has been an emphasis on the 'mind' in yoga. After all, if the space of mind, manas, is filled with chitta: impressions, desires, etc, and, as spiritual aspirants, we are trying to rise above these - then why have we allowed ourselves to think that what we think is IT?

Why emphasise awareness?

And the emphasis on 'awareness'? It would be helpful for people to know that they are seldom using Ajna chakra (the third eye), in this instance. Ajna chakra awakening is a major event, and, the inner and outer vision and understandings change completely when this happens.

Having said that, there is an awareness which is still, yet knowing what is happening. I would call this watchfulness, knowingness. And, when we can keep our own judgements out of this state of being, this generally suffices for awareness. This is a tall order, for, even when we are in that state, the chitta is still predominant.

How to reduce being judgemental

What can we do about this? How can we get past the judgements? 

We can do this by having pauses between our thoughts, between the fluctuations of mind. There is a way to do this. By slowing down the breath. Fast, and/or, irregular breathing, seems to go hand in hand with an agitated mind. 

We often don't realise that our minds are agitated, until we experience the peace that arises from slower, longer, relaxed breathing.

I can still remember my first very profound experience, from so many years ago, after practising a deep breathing session which I had learnt from a visiting Guru, Dr Swami Gitananda. The profound energy, the calmness, the profound peace, the heightened awareness! And it wasn't just the deep, regulated breathing which was doing it: I learnt, in these practices from that Guru, to have pauses between the inhale and the exhale.

These pauses seem to correspond with pauses between the thoughts. And these pauses are creating longer, smoother, brain waves. In this case it was alpha. A very lovely place to be, for when the alpha brain waves are being predominant, this also corresponds with slower thought patterns. The thought patterns are from messages being relayed through the brain, by nerve impulses.

This is an excellent way to train oneself to be less judgemental, and to be able to recognise the judgements if they arise. Somehow, it's harder to be judgemental when one is in an alpha brain wave state.

Dangers of being too "aware"

There is another aspect to 'awareness': when we focus mostly on the 'mind' we become self obsessed. due to ahamkara also being part of the working parts of mind. 

Ahamkara being expression of one's ego, and identifying with that expression.

Unfortunately, some yoga teachers have taken this awareness business to heart, as a way to "teach"  their students about how spiritual, they, as the teacher, are. When we do this, invariably our own concepts come into play. I find this very disappointing, for, if the practices are taught correctly, the awareness will come. It will come through the peace of mind that the practices (should) give. And if the breathing throughout the class, is taught correctly, the alpha brain waves will 'kick' in very quickly.

Plus, when we, as teachers, are badgering the students to 'be' a certain way, we are taking away their mana (energy of their personal power). Yoga is empowering on it's own. As teachers we do not need to control others.

When I went to live in an Ashram, the 'mind' was it! No-one was taught how to change one's state of mind with the methods mentioned above. So, with our whole being getting highly energised, and our storehouse of impressions, our feelings, our general day to day workings of the mind, being highly emphasised, all of these became quite difficult for many to deal with.

But, it seems that the emphasis on 'awareness', and remember, we are not talking about Ajna chakra here, way back in time, before Patanjali, in one of the recorded paths of Raja yoga, this awareness was not the main thing.

A spiritual secret to help with knowingness

I totally understand this. From my own spiritual journey, and especially from learning and practising deep spirituality from a Tohunga (Maori spiritual guide). There is so much more beyond what we call awareness. And there is also so much more beyond Ajna chakra.

There is another profound way to be able to be aware without being immersed in one's own thoughts, likes and dislikes: have a mooladhara chakra awakening. 

The 'knowing' aspect becomes separate from the contents of mind with a mooladhara awakening and a particular happening. This might happen in stages, but, with a true awakening, it definitely happens.

14 April 2018

Why maintain?

I sometimes feel like a broken record as from time to time, I post something similar to this. But, it does concern me, and I know that it bothers others, also.

Yoga is a way of life

Yoga is not only a philosophy, but also the yogas are practices, which, ideally, yoga spiritual aspirants, and yoga teachers, (the two are not mutually inclusive!) do regularly. As a way of life.

Understanding how and why this is done, is probably more important than people realise. It is about 'walking one's talk', and also about maintaining.

Why maintain?

Maintaining what? Maintaining the ability to bend, twist, and so forth. And also, maintaining one's energy and health levels. If you are a yoga teacher who is into the poses mostly, then it's important to be able to keep doing the poses that you are teaching. If you are teaching deep spirituality, then spouting advice and dogma is not the way to go. Doing some spiritual practices regularly is.

Yes, it is, whether it's physically or spiritually based. Maintaining wherever possible.

When not to maintain

Of course there are times where you doing your downward dogs isn't as important as a great difficult life event that requires all of your time and energy. Or, when one is unwell. 

To me, and I learnt the hard way about this, it just doesn't make sense to do asanas, pranayama, or even meditation when one is too sick or has a high temperature. This is the time that we need to rest in order to restore.

And, similarly, when there is tragedy, or we are so churned up inside - I truly think that coping the best that you can, is better than trudging through a sadhana. I recall trying to do bramari (humming breath) when I was shaking so much with distress. What a joke, of course it didn't work! Whereas, bramari is touted as specific for calming oneself down. And as for meditating when your stomach is churning - I think not.

Why maintenance matters on other levels

What maintaining does do when these moments are upon is, is enable us to handle things better, if it's something that affects us emotionally, and, in the case of sickness, our immune system gets stronger with sadhana, and we are less susceptible to maladies.

But what do we need to do?

The trick is, what to do to maintain?

I often recall, with a considerable amount of humour, a particular time when I was training yoga teachers. When it came time for the trainees to do 12 rounds of namaskaras (salutes) each day, one person, nilamani.wright, had it figured out beautifully. With less stress than anyone else. We had taught a number of namaskaras, some of which you did once, and that was a round. Some were sun (surya) salutations (namaskaras) which required doing twice to make a round, and this is what most people were doing, as it was the culture of that particular yoga school to do surya namaskara that way.

                                      Image result for surya namaskara
(doing surya namaskara this way, you do it twice for one round, alternating legs in the lunges)

Nilamani did 6 rounds of namaskaras, each morning and evening - and most of these were the 'do once for one round' kinds. And what a wonderful similar method a person could use to maintain.

I always did the Rishikesh Surya Namaskara, for decades, whereby a kneeling lunge is used instead of a jump-back, and instead of a jump-forward. So, this is the two times = one round system, as one is alternating the leg used for lunges. 

But, a few years ago, I started doing an easy modified namaskara, which was based on the Ashtanga surya namaskara A, then another modification of it, then sometimes an easy modification of surya namaskara B, and finally a kneeling salute. I was doing them for maintenance, and it took maybe 10 - 12 minutes, doing each 2-3 times or so. And, to be honest, this was inspired by Nilamani, all those years ago.

Image result for cat pose yoga 
         cat pose - wakes up our nervous system
   Image result for cobra pose yoga  Image result for child pose yoga
          cobra promotes deep breathing                                       child calms

But, doing some flexibilities, or some simple poses like cat, cobra, child: these might  suffice for you. Simple makes it easy to succeed.

Even people doing advanced practices, like kriyas for deep spirituality, after some time, they end up doing just a few, regularly, as maintenance.

Maintenance of what? In this case, it is maintenance of the spiritual gains: calmer emotions and mind; increased happiness; increased relaxed focus; increased prana (life-force) levels; healthier body. And these gains also make us flexible and supple, so asanas are not needed.

I have had times when it simply was not possible to do any sadhana. (So I do understand when one can't do it) Often, with me, it was due to weakness from anemia. I finally learnt to stop forcing myself into doing what my body could not maintain doing. Now that the anemia seems to have disappeared, it is now so much easier for me. And, no, yoga did not cure it. Not ever. No matter what I did that was 'supposed' to work. (so please don't offer any yoga advice about it .... )

6 April 2018

what is maya?

                      Related image

what is maya?

                           ma = the source, or cause
                           ya   = that which spreads forth

Therefore, maya is that which spreads forth from the source. In yoga parlance, we are talking about what spreads forth from the Universal source. In other words, the play of The Creator, and this play is known as Lila. This created universe manifests through the play of Shakti, and in this context, shakti is energy.  (shakti generally means energy) Shakti, energy, vibrating at differing frequencies, in order to create.

This manifested universe, covers everything from a grain of sand on our planet of blue, through to great galaxies, and whatever has been and gone, to whatever is to come.

What else is maya?

Through all of this manifestation, there are always two constants:

                         consciousness and energy

In the context of true maya, this consciousness is Big. There is a wisdom beyond our knowledge, beyond our understanding, our comprehension. 

How we can we possibly understand it? How can we understand the wisdom of The Creator, and of the Other Gods and Goddesses?

Personally, I would say that maya, in a language that we can understand, is Supreme Divine Wisdom, rather than just consciousness.

Consciousness on it's own, whether on such an unbelievably incomprehensible scale, or, at the other end of consciousness, on a simple level, is inert. It cannot move, it cannot manifest. It just is.

What is needed, is a vehicle, in which consciousness can flow, for manifestation. And that vehicle is energy, or shakti. Shakti moves, it creates in tandem with consciousness.

Maya as illusion

This can be difficult to understand, but, in creation of our own awareness, when our consciousness and energy separate, we come into a whole new arena of understanding. We are less immersed in the tangled web of our consciousness, and this lies behind what we normally think of as our awareness. 

When we are living in the maya of our thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions, all of this being what we think of as oneself, then this is the illusion. And, it can be so hard to comprehend this!! All of this is part of us, yes, it totally is!! But the awareness which sees and knows past the maya, is something else.

                      Related image

Why is it said that maya is illusion?

How can this be so? Maya is a common expression in yoga, and many believe that the Universe is an illusion. So strange. Why do people believe what they do not know? How can we possibly know the ways of Creation as experienced knowledge. 

Others believe that each lifetime is but a dream, and that when one 'passes over', we awake from that dream and are then in true reality. Again: why believe this if one does not actually remember having 'passed over'. We might have a different reality in these other realms, which enables us to see things differently, more clearly, and I do believe that this is so.

As someone who has had a Near Death Experience (very lovely), it was as real as is everyday life. But, and this I feel is the important aspect, for me: it was another realm. The 'awaking from a dream' aspect, was having illusions, or, maya-as-illusion, around passing over, dispelled.

And this is where maya-as-illusion is so real: when illusions, delusions, are revealed as being something other than what we believed, revealed as to what they really are, then this is more to do with the illusion of maya. 

Spiritual Realms as maya

So, if the Life Between the Lives on this planet, is us being in another realm, what of other spiritual realms? 

The Koshas, the five sheaths of the human; being: 

  • physical (the one that we know)
  • life-force (prana)
  • mind sheath
  • astral (where the chakras reside)
  • causal (the karmic cause of incarnation) ... 
for me they were realms, each different, as have been the tattwas (elements), and chakras. Everything with it's own knowledge, it's own experience of Being, and this for me, the experience and knowledge, were the dispelling of maya. On many levels. Much was indefinable, much was recognisable.

Other realms that co-exist with us

From studying with a Tohunga (Maori spiritual guide), I entered into other realms which co-exist with us. These other realms are experienced via the third eye, (known as ajna chakra in yoga), and one 'walks' them with the physical eyes open. These experiences alone, have dispelled more illusion than I could have ever imagined.

So, on the one hand, maya most definitely what emerges from the Divine Source of All Being. And, there is another meaning, of the manifest being illusion, which I do feel has been largely misunderstood, and bandied about without real knowledge of what it does mean. 

We only need a little bit of experiencing that things are not what they seem, in the spiritual realms, to understand that we do not , and may never, fully comprehend the enormity of maya.