The Strange Reality of Being Human

Most people think of themselves as a single being, distinct from others. This is my body, these are my private thoughts, and this is how I feel. However, this is just a set of ideas, a story we tell ourselves.

And I’m not taking a spiritual approach here but one leaning more on science. Your body is an assemblage of trillions of cells, each with their own life and life cycle. They come and go at various rates but overall, our body almost completely replaces itself within 7 years.

(The cosmic body is similar, only that is a body composed … Continue Reading…

The Dasha Mahavidya

The Dasha Mahavidya

mahavidyaI touched on the Mahavidya in The Mahavidya Interview but needed more research to do a proper job. As I mentioned there, the Dasha Mahavidya (10 great knowledge) are from Tantra and are embodied by 10 goddesses. While the gods are embodiments of laws of nature, the goddesses are embodiments of the powers (Shakti) that drive them and all of creation. The first cannot function without the power of the second.

These goddesses tend to be portrayed with … Continue Reading…

The Christian Meaning of Enlightenment

In “The Christian Meaning of Enlightenment”, Franciscan priest Richard Rohr gives a Catholic perspective on western faith and the loss of its non-dual perspective. He refers to his teaching as a “Franciscan alternative orthodoxy.”

He makes many excellent points though I’d disagree experiencing a “unitive” experience once will do the job. It may certainly change one’s perspective. But actual non-duality is not an experience. It is a lived reality with the resulting seeing he speaks of.

For example, he spoke about us not having the software to see – right after making a statement about the … Continue Reading…

The Challenges of Teaching

There is a common idea that awakened people automatically become teachers. But teaching is a skill, one that allows us to speak to the student at their level. Many don’t have this skill. They speak from their understanding and others hear from theirs. Mixed results ensue.

A traditional spiritual teacher also adopts their dedicated students, guiding their way home. This is a large, long-term responsibility not to be taken lightly.

Often what triggers the start of teaching is an inner call to share the revelations of a major experience or stage change. It feels so profound and important we want … Continue Reading…


A worthwhile read in the New York Times Sunday Review: Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History.

I’d change that to “known history” but he touches on some important points. Things are, for people the world over, getting better.

The news media focuses on the lowest common denominator – an identified ego that wants to know what’s wrong and who’s to blame. Then it can feel better about itself and confirm inner fears about the world.

However, the author says “That’s because most of the time, quite rightly, we focus on things going … Continue Reading…

The Chance Assumption

“What astonishes me, just as it astonishes a child when he becomes aware of his own identity, is the fact of finding myself here, and at this moment, deep in this life and not in any other. What stroke of chance has brought this about?”

“The penetration of that particular ovum by that particular spermatozoon, with its implications of the meeting of my parents and before that of their birth and the births of all their forebears, had not one chance in hundreds of millions of coming about. And it was chance, a chance quite unpredictable in the present state … Continue Reading…

The Highest Reality

It’s curious to reflect on Vedanta (end of the Veda) at this juncture. The Brahma Sutra is about Unity into Brahman. The Upanishads, assemblies of key verses from the earlier Vedas, explore Self Realization through to the Brahman shift.

When you go into Brahman and beyond, you are beyond Veda itself and there is much less that can be said about it. And yet that’s where the real “source of the source” is, where the highest reality is found. The Vedas are among the oldest and most complete texts available to us. It’s a surprise to consider that most … Continue Reading…

The Four Dispositions

Swami Brahmananda Saraswati was a man who spent much of his life in seclusion. He left home at age 9 to find a guru and spent much of his life in remote forests of India. He only emerged in the later years of his life to take the role of Shankaracharya, the exponent of Shankara’s teachings in N. India. The seat had been vacant nearly 150 years.

Not only did he revive the tradition in the area but several modern teachers of high impact were his students. Millions of people around the world have taken up eastern philosophy and meditation … Continue Reading…

The Ramayana

The Ramayana is an epic story of the life of Rama, a prince in a kingdom of ancient India and an avatar of Vishnu (god in form, sent to restore balance). There are many versions of the epic tale. The original was told by Valmiki using his yogic vision. While Valmiki was visited by Rama, their time together physically was brief. He later wrote this epic poem about Rama’s life and taught it to Rama’s sons, who Rama didn’t then know existed (it’s complicated).

To give a sense of the scale of the story, it took 300 episodes to … Continue Reading…

What is a Soul?

The topic of souls came up in conversation with friends. In the west, we debate if animals have souls and talk of loosing one’s soul, splitting the soul, and so forth. A lot of that is confusing a sense of self driven by mind with the eternal, untouchable soul.

The Vedas contain several philosophies with some variation on this topic. But generally, soul is seen as equivalent to jiva, a living being with life force. In other words, a dog and a plant have a soul but a chair does not. Even though everything arises in and of consciousness, it … Continue Reading…

Perspective and Perception

I talk a lot here about stages of development in consciousness aka stages of enlightenment. This is to offer context for the various experiences and teachings out there and help us gain a better understanding of the path.

But sometimes, it’s useful to hear it all said a different way. On a recent retreat, Lorne Hoff spoke of Purusha and Prakriti. These are terms used by the Indian philosophy of Samkhya, a dualistic outlook that enumerates how the world comes into being.

In Samkhya, Purusha is the cosmic spirit and Prakriti is nature. Together, they are the origin … Continue Reading…

The Trinity of Self

Atman or the Cosmic Self has a three-fold nature. It has a subject or observer aspect, the process of observation, and the object or observed aspect. I illustrated this here.

As consciousness is aware of itself both globally and at every point, it can observe its own dynamics and experience this directly.

“Locally” or personally, we experience this as the ego or I-sense, the intellect, and the mind.

Samkhya describes how Buddhi (intellect) recognizes self as different from other, creating Ahamkara, the I-sense or ego. This arises in early childhood as a baby distinguishes itself from mother.

Manas … Continue Reading…