[UPDATE: This was the last post I put up on the Modern Yogi site. Since then it has been shuttered and the domain name put up for sale. It was the end of an experiment to create a social community. I will continue to blog intermittently and will be using Atma Blog as my personal home page.]
“Don’t believe the hype, it’s a sequel.
As an equal, can I get this through to you?”
~Public enemy- 1988
You all mean a great deal to me. And even though this is a kind of good-bye I am excited to share that I am moving on. I will be stepping away from Modern Yogi.com and switching gears. Starting in January I will be working full-time for The Atman Group. A business management firm founded by me and dedicated to using a blend of Eastern and Western sciences to create higher-functioning more conscious organizations.
As the year and the clock winds down on the Modern Yogi project the question becomes what is the most important message to leave all of you with? After deep thought I have chosen this…
We are not all one.
That is the most important idea for your consideration. This simple and powerful idea has what you need to continue to change your life and to create deeper healthier relationship with everyone and everything you hold dear.
‘We are not all one’ is not a rejection of our connectivity. It is, rather, a joyful embrace of our mysterious nature. In many ways the essence of the Modern Yogi message is that paradoxical notion of oneness and difference.
It is a paradox because the mind cannot conceive it. How can we be one and separate at the same time? Yet it is the fact that we cannot conceive it that makes it so wonderful. Like a Zen koan the notion takes us outside of ourselves. Meditating on the possibility of simultaneous oneness and difference we are placed on the precipice of mystical unknowing. This is the unbearable beginning of bliss.
Extending this notion logically, we are also not God. Once again the rejection of dogma carries the seed of rapture. To meditate on the possibility-as inconceivable as it is for the mind-that we are simultaneously one with and different from God, is to bring us to the edge of egoic destruction. But what a wonderful place to be!
Here is the beginning of humility. Humility is the guarantor of contentment, spiritual growth, and happy healthy relations. Humility, the all important precursor to greatness, is torn asunder by thoughts of being all one. For where is the ability to bow and to serve, or even the need, if we are all one?
When you step away from the enchanting but deadly allure of certainty that comes from dogmatic assertions like ‘we are all one’, or ‘I am God’, you enter the realm of true magic and mystery. When you live in mystery you are dancing with paradox. And paradox is another name for God’s breath.
Make a decision to relish in the inconceivable, to bathe in mystery, and turn away from the soul dampening notion of ‘we’re all one’, ‘it is all mind’ and so on. Let these dogmatic notions fall away and be remembered for what they are, cheap and tawdry novelties from a new age carnival in its last days.
The goal of yoga, bhakti, and any renaissance of spirit is to celebrate. But to get the full measure of celebration we must do it as the many, swept-up in the One. The One spirit of love and eternality that runs through all of us, that connects us and yet remains beautifully separate from us. It is these wondrous distinctions that give us something to celebrate. The spiritually erotic and mind bending tension of being simultaneously one and different is the field where we all meet to dance, sing, and love. So let us meet there in this coming year. Let’s celebrate together, again and again, rejoicing in the fact that we are both one with and different from God and each other. That is the yogic concept of unity in diversity.
Your servant with love,
[Last of three essays on the theme of Goddess Yoga]
Our sense of who we are in the world,
how we relate to the world,
and the way we reflect on the world’s cornucopia of desirable objects,
colors the original clarity of the soul’s desires with the mixed colors of material energy.
This creates material desires.
These desires lead to lust and longing
Longing leads inevitably to frustration and the sad/angry emotions
Angry emotions lead to poor judgment
Poor judgment requires forgetting spiritual lessons, losing sight of spiritual leanings and longings
Thus concludes the atrophying of our free will and the capitulation to matter over spirit
This extinguishes our bliss…
In the Goddess Yoga world view
Innocent victims of the matrix, that is to say our mother Maya
No way to un-attach completely
In order to inhibit Maya’s manipulation
We must choose to feel without ego (identification)
Feeling is hard
It’s the seemingly scary side of paradox and mystery
One goal is to stop running away from emotions. Another goal is to stop being run by emotions.
The more interesting option is to use your ability to feel emotions
Women (generally) are in a better position to feel (than men)
But women (generally) identify more strongly with their bodies
To dis-identify with the body is NOT to stop feeling
Instead feel more as an observer rather than victim
Observation takes practice
Start with looking for (i.e. aggressively self searching) emotional attachments/expectations (aka threats
to your identity or sense of self)
From these make note of the emotions that arise (the fruits are varied but the tree is anger)
Go through this laundry list of emotion in sadhana – using just the word to trigger the emotional experience and practice choosing to feel it in your body.
Practice WITHOUT images or narrative – just physical sensation
Becoming fearless in your ability to be a true and full observer of human experiences
Know that you are simply a tourist in a time joy forgot
these material emotions are just postcards for your one true love
the origin and realm of souls
Soon it will be time to go home
Before then, help as many as you can and remember to practice engaged detachment
[Second of three essays on the theme of Goddess Yoga]
Of the many obstacles in the journey of self-realization one of the most challenging is confusing the body you are riding around in as you. This challenge is often magnified for those travelling in a female body. This is partly due to the cultural pressures and biological influence that accompany identifying with the female body. These influences begin at an early age in at least three ways: 1) undue emphasis on bodily image; 2) fixation on the missing body of the future mate; 3) identification with the body that will (or could) come out of your own body.
So how do you do you? Without being you? [the body]
The solution is to come to feel the body around you as an instrument for divine intentions. Feeling like the temporary proprietor of an instrument for divine use empowers you at the soul level and brings with it a host of potential revelations. The more times throughout the day you can experience the phenomenon of sitting in a divinely inspired carrier, the more you will weaken the dark bonds of false ego that confuse you with your body.
This is the practice I talk about in the Boot Camp for the Soul, call engaged detachment. Also known as being in the world but not of the world.
In the Bhagavad Gita we find the Sanskrit instruction (ch. 5, text 11)
kayena manasa buddhya
kevalair indriyair api
yoginah karma kurvanti
sangam tyaktva atma-suddhaye
Here Krishna is instructing Arjuna:
With the body, the mind, the intelligence,
Free of materialistic intention, including even the senses
The yogis perform any and all actions
While giving up their association/identification [with the body/mind] to clarify and free the soul
Take time today to notice what it feels like to see, to taste, to smell, to touch and to hear. Deepening with each moment of ‘other-than-body-awareness’ the felt sense of being separate from your body and senses.
This is a wonderful step in unwinding the influence of the senses that in the past have imprisoned you but in the future will set you free.
[One of three essays on the theme of Goddess Yoga]
The gender of the soul is a mysterious and transcendental subject. It is cloaked in the paradoxical and the inconceivable.
The gender of the body is a fleeting and transient experience, neither real nor illusion, but temporary fact. Gender, in the realm of matter, flips back and forth over lifetimes, driven by karma and desire. This back and forth blurs the lines and the content between male and female so that over time we all have much of both.
Nonetheless, from life to life we generally find ourselves in one or another. Yet regardless of gender, we (the soul), continually find ourselves in an earthen vessel that is both temple and prison. This creates the ironic goal of having to both worship the temple and break free of the prison.
To further our sense of the paradoxical nature of being, consider that while we are in these clay coverings we are considered prakriti or mother nature (the feminine aspect)and the soul is considered purusua or consciousness (the male aspect). Yet in the realm of the soul the soul is called prakriti (or feminine) and the source of consciousness is call purusua. This gives a tiny hint as to the paradoxical nature of the soul’s gender.
Goddess Yoga, is meant to ask the question, “Are there differences in spiritual practice (sadhana) for you (the soul) when you are momentarily trapped in the female form versus the male form?”
The answer is yes and no; there are some differences and some similarities. The exposition of these essays will be the exploration of the differences.
The spiritual journey is different for the spirit-soul residing in a female body versus a male body. For example the female covered soul is generally much more in touch with the concept of body or form. This includes body in its various permutations: her own body, her lover or mate’s body, and her child’s body. This attunement is part of why the path of aestheticism has always been arduous and in some ways inappropriate for the feminine garb.
While the male body has the likelihood of being slightly less attached to the body they are not necessarily better off. In fact, it is this tendency towards bodily nonchalance that necessitates the austerity and submissiveness of the male-bodied path.
So while it is important that the male shaped aspirant grovel and serve the guru menially, that is not necessarily what is best for sister-spirit-soul.
So what is best for the female shaped ones?
The simplest answer is to use all the bodily proclivities to create connection to spirit.
+ Respect and beautify the body, not as you, but as a mystical clay temple of the supreme soul living within.
+ See and treat the lover/mate as representative of the divine.
+ Raise children as ambassadors of pure consciousness.
In addition, the mind should be disciplined in the dialectics of spirit… to learn to resist polar views of black or white and instead to entertain the paradox of synthesis…
+ surrender the need for certainty in exchange for pursuit of clarity
+ stop seeking control and instead celebrate beauty in nature and spirit
+ do not be moved by illustration which is only ABOUT something, but champion art which IS something
+ do not over value knowledge, instead learn to worship mystery
+ and above all do not mistake matter for spirit
In future essays I will explore and bring together easter science and western philosophy, with the hope of expanding our understanding of hatha, pranayama, mantra, and some of the esoteric meanings of the ancient Sanskrit text. The goal of this is series is to learn about the nature of the spiritual journey for souls who are in a female body. I look forward to your feedback.