What is Destruction?

We tend to see change as a loss, partly because the ego likes to feel in control. It’s also disturbing tamas, our inertia.

And yet, the cycle of growth requires change: balance, disintegration, growth, integration, and repeat.

Without disintegration, there is no growth, no transformation. Life is inherently change. Our very life depends on the transformation of food, water, and breath.

And if we look around us we see that change is the order of the day. In fact, the world around us is being recreated in every moment. The only reason it doesn’t completely change every time is … 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 Mahavidya Interview

Rick Archer recently interviewed Kavitha Chinnaiyan, M.D. on Buddha at the Gas Pump. The conversation revolved primarily around her first book, Shakti Rising: Embracing Shadow and Light on the Goddess Path to Wholeness

The interview opened with a short discussion on Direct vs Progressive, the topic of last fall’s SAND panel I was on. I found Kavitha’s approach sensible. Not sure why she was using a Buddhist term, but it seems a popular framing these days.

The 10 Mahavidya (great knowledge) are from Tantra and embodied by 10 goddesses. Key to understand … 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…

Types of Self

When people use the English word “self” or any of its variations (myself, himself, etc.), they may refer to one or several things. Most commonly, they’re talking about

the personal self or me. Yet if you ask them who they are, they’ll offer their name and profession: what I’m called and what I do – not what I am.

If you ask them who they experience themselves as being, they’ll probably think the question odd and be unable to answer it clearly. They may drop into stories to explain who they are. But if they explore the question, by default … Continue Reading…

The Last Surrenders

Just as we’re composed of body, emotions, mind, intellect and ego individually, so too are we structured this way cosmically. Some cultures refer to the cosmic aspects as gods.

The I-sense for an individual person arises from the trinity of mind, intellect and ego. Mind makes the stories of a me and the intellect distinguishes self from other, leading to the I-sense and idea of separate self. In the absence of anything else, we become identified with that I-sense and self-story.

The cosmic I-sense or Self (atman) is the same. In fact, the individual version reflects the cosmic. When we … 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 Kavach

Kavach is a Sanskrit word that means armor. It refers to protection from subtle negative influences. If you read about it on-line, you’ll find many references to a medallion or amulet with astrological symbols, numbers, or mantras chosen to protect the specific wearer.

However, what value does an engraved piece of metal have against anything subtle?

The texts prescribe that the item has to be properly “charged” by a person properly prepared. For example, they’re supposed to have a strong Jupiter and be spiritually developed. How do you verify that through an on-line store? It’s also worth noting the original … Continue Reading…

An Avatar of the People

On a recent retreat with Lorne and Lucia, we discussed the embodiment of divinity. They observed that nobody alive today fully embodies Divinity. If they did, we’d be in a different age.

Lucia mentioned Kalki (an avatar) as a collective. That triggered an understanding here.

To explain, you may recall an article from 2014 called The Second Stage where I was observing a new stage of development in consciousness or the collective.

The first stage is when a law of nature that had long been dormant is awakened by a human capable of living … Continue Reading…