The Means of Liberation (Yogas)

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13
Verse 24
Some realize the Self by the Self in the Self through meditation, others through Samkhya yoga, yet others through Karma yoga.
 
Verse 25
Others, however, not knowing thus, sit near Me [Krishna], having heard from others, they also do cross beyond death, devoted to what they have heard.

This lays out the Yogas or paths to liberation.

The first is Dhyana Yoga, the path of meditation covered in Chapter 6 of the Gita. These days, it is often taught as Raja … Continue Reading…

The Gender of Divinity

Many religious and spiritual traditions describe God with a specific gender. For example, although there are those who worship Mother Mary, Christianity is dominated by a Father God. A lot of modern Hinduism is also directed at male deities like Shiva or forms of Vishnu.

Some modern faiths speak in terms of a Father-Mother God, likening it to a personal choice or a genderless or androgynous divinity.

What this is leaving out is direct experience. When the means to direct experience is lost, traditions devolve into systems of belief. This has happened repeatedly throughout the ages.

However, … Continue Reading…

The Source of Perception

One of the curious things I noticed many years ago was how much we agree on the appearance of the world. While there is a huge variation in emphasis and interpretation, we have no problem driving down the street. Other’s reality doesn’t cause the roads to change appearance continually as we go by.

This points to a shared reality. Modern science takes the approach that the physical world is real and we interpret it subjectively with our brains. But when we recognize that the world arises from and within consciousness, this points to a deeper shared reality.

Samkhya Continue Reading…

Once You Know

There is a curious dynamic in being human. Once we know, we know.

For example, a DNA test. They can reveal some fascinating detail about your makeup and origins. But what about the genetic markers you have for diseases such as Alzheimers? What about unknown relatives appearing that your ancestors may have hidden? There can be surprises. These are things that once you know, you cannot stop knowing. Good to know but it’s not always easy.

With knowledge comes responsibility. Even in simple things like crossing the street. Children may dart out into traffic. But … Continue Reading…

Predominance

For some, unfolding knowledge of the world follows the path of the mechanics of perception. For others like myself, it follows the path of the dynamics of consciousness. The 2 approaches unfold different understanding of the world. There are also variations within each.

On the first path, we discover a version of what Samkhya describes. From the mind arises the 5 senses out of the observer side of consciousness. From the observed arises the corresponding 5 tanmatra or essences. The first comes out of sattva guna, the second from tamas.

As the tamas (inertia) increases, those essences … Continue Reading…

Why is there a Dark Side?

It’s good to consider – why does a world expressed by the Divine have evil? The answer is all about balance.

In the Vedic perspective, there are 3 forces in creation: creation, maintenance, and destruction. Those 3 forces evolve into 3 qualities (gunas) which evolve into the 5 elements, 5 senses and so forth.

The 3 qualities or gunas are:
Sattva: creative, purity, clarity, smooth
Rajas: fire, action, energy, transformation
Tamas: inertia, rigidity, resistance

Without inertia, we would have no form. In fact, nothing would last. As Dharma is that which sustains, tamas is … Continue Reading…

Karma Mimamsa

Traditional Indian philosophy has 6 branches or approaches, known as the upangas or darshanas. Often they’re seen as competing philosophical systems when if fact they largely each describe the reality of a different stage of development.

I’ve talked some about several of them, including:
Vaisheshika and Samkhya

Yoga

Vedanta or end of the Veda (Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads)

Nyaya is the system of logic that informs the others.

One I’ve only touched on is Karma Mimamsa, also known as Purva Mimamsa. Karma Mimamsa means an investigation … Continue Reading…

The Divine

When we come to the divine for the first time, it’s often through form. This can be a very profound experience. It may trigger major heart opening, insight, devotion, and/or deep humility. Yet it may also bring confusion, circumspection, or reconsideration. If we’ve developed an atheist philosophy, for example, that can certainly be disrupted. But even if we’re a person of faith, the divine won’t necessarily show up as expected.

Often people experience representatives of the divine first; what are commonly called angels or devas. (not to be confused with astral beings) But we may also experience the … Continue Reading…

Models of Development

Over the years, I’ve seen many models of spiritual development. Most of them follow a subjective process that one or a few people experienced that doesn’t reflect how it will unfold for many others. Fundamentally it is shifts in being – in who we recognize ourselves to be – that reflect the underlying process. This is why I’ve focused on that.

Yet it can be instructive to see some of the other things that can shift that are reflected in other models. Categories like this can give you a sense of where they’re coming from. But there can be … Continue Reading…

Who Am I?

This comes out of an on-line discussion on the Falling Away of Self interview. Someone asks if Rick was referring to the individual soul. Rick responds “It seems to persist from life to life, some say forever. Is that the self?”

My response, edited slightly for this context:
That depends. What do we subjectively relate to as “who I am”?

I find the Vedic perspective useful. They describe layers to it. The ego-self (Ahamkara) or sense of being a separate self. It is identification with this that leads to the sense of a personal, separate me. It is … Continue Reading…

The Matrix

Awakening can be said to happen through the non-Self being “devoured” by Brahman or through the descent of the divine. It is not something we control or manage. Rather it comes as grace.

We can thus see that spiritual practices are not to create enlightenment. Rather, they are to prepare the ground so the process is as clear and smooth as possible. To use the analogy of farming, we clear the rocks and rubble from the field, sift and till the soil, and add water and fertilizer.

In other words: healing, refinement, sangha and study.

It’s … Continue Reading…

True Victory

Recently, a friend sent me a quote from Swami Brahmananda Sarawati, a famous Shankaracharya from the Shankara lineage. He was the teacher of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and some other well-known teachers.

I was not able to determine the source of this quote or who translated it but I have seen reliable sources who quoted him saying somewhat similar things. I thought it insightful enough to share in any case.

Real victory is that, after which there can never be a reverse. Nobody can call himself a victor forever merely by crushing an external foe, because such foes can … Continue Reading…