The Person

Rory by Randen Pederson

There was a time in India when the householders approach had become universal. The sage Shankara revived the path of renunciation for that small percent who are naturally monks. But then the pendulum swung to the other extreme and the householders path became obscured in many teachings. Practices came to emphasize renunciation, even for householders. Inquiry is prominent, for example, even though it is primarily a monk’s approach. This is because close inquiry into reality is difficult when we have worldly responsibilities. We have to pay attention to appearances. 🙂 Extracting oneself from ego identification is key for Self Realization … Continue Reading…

The Consequences of Attachment

Truth or Consequences by Einalem

In the Bhagavad Gita, dharma has dropped and 2 opposing sides have drawn up for battle on the Kurukshetra plains of India. Many of the warriors are siddhas, able to hit their targets without fail. Prince Arjuna, leader of the Pandavas, is offered either Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, or his army to assist him. He chooses Krishna. They ride a chariot out between the 2 battle lines and a deep discussion ensues. Arjuna sees the situation as impossible as it will only end in destruction. Krishna teaches him the value of right action, of restoring dharma, and of Yoga, … Continue Reading…

Huston’s Yogas

Hindu Wedding Card by Parekh Cards

I’ve been reading Huston Smith’s World Religions for ordination studies. The book is well-written but dominated by recent academic perspectives of the topic. It offers a general overview of the larger faiths, but I wouldn’t base my practices on it. In the Hindu section, Houston outlines the primary Yogas or paths to union.     In brief, these are: – Hatha yoga is the path of the body – Karma yoga is the path of action and perception – Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion – Gyana or jnana yoga is the path of the intellect When I first … Continue Reading…

What is Devotion?

Embodied Philosphy

In this conversation, Kavitha Chinnaiyan speaks with Jacob Kyle of Embodied Philosophy on true devotion. You may recognize his voice from my interview. At first I disagreed with her statements about devotion being required for the path until she further defined what she meant. Love of service and love of knowledge are also devotion. Without love for something, why would you pursue it? Devotion from the heart, dedication from the mind. She objects to Bhakti being associated only with Vaishnavas (like followers of Krishna) and Kirtan. She observes these are just 2 forms of expression. You don’t have to choose … Continue Reading…

Soma and Agni

Fire by Shan Sheehan

Agni is the cosmic fire described in the ancient Rig Veda. It is the first word of the first verse, the force that causes the world to come into being, the outward stroke. Agni has also been associated with the light of consciousness and the sense of sight. It is the digestive fire. It is sometimes represented by the sun and with the masculine. Soma or nectar is the softener and refiner, it is the ocean of the Divine Mother’s milk that draws us within, the inward stroke. The moon is sometimes called soma, and it’s affiliated with the feminine. … Continue Reading…

The Power of Mantra

Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Wheel by Jay Galvin

Back on Transcending, I explored right mantra for a meditation practice. I’ve also talked about the language of mantra and how they’re often used. Yet there is a much deeper understanding about mantra that’s largely been lost. But first, some background. People talk today about choosing mantras like they’d choose a chocolate. On Transcending I mentioned the importance of proper instruction so the seed is properly planted and we can connect with the tradition of masters for long-term support. To understand this more, we can go back to fundamentals. Consciousness arises from three fundamental Divine qualities: alertness, liveliness and intelligence. … Continue Reading…

Awareness of Becoming

Becoming! by Janice Marie Foote

A reader asked me to comment further about the field of becoming where manifestation first begins. From the larger context of this blog, there is pure Divinity, the source of the source. The afterglow of Divinity is Brahman. In Brahman, the first Shakti’s express as alertness, liveliness, and intelligence. When liveliness stirs alertness, it becomes conscious, then becomes self-aware and self-interactive. Alive self-aware consciousness is often considered the source. It is the beginning of becoming and the first kosha or “sheath.” It’s self-interaction creates the subtle space of creation. But this space of consciousness is still too abstract for manifestation. … Continue Reading…

Roles of a Teacher

Teacher by Valerie Everett

By role of a teacher here, I mean the role they play in our spiritual journey rather than how they may position or present themselves as a teacher. A true teaching emphasizes practical application and direct experience, with the understanding to support that. If it’s just philosophy, it may only make the mind stronger. Understanding should be to serve the path, not be the path. (Yes, Gyani‘s have an emphasis on understanding, but direct experience is still the core path. Otherwise, it’s just mind.) For someone to have the role of a spiritual teacher for us, there is what I … Continue Reading…

Bhedābheda Vedānta

Vedanta Temple Bell by Ray Sawhill

Vedanta means the end of the Veda or final knowledge and is the last of the 6 systems of Indian Philosophy (Yoga is the 4th). We also know these systems as the Vedanga or subordinate limbs (to the core books of the Veda) and as the Darshana. The core text of Vedanta is the Brahma Sutra of Bādarāyaṇa. The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita are also generally considered Vedantic texts. But like any older philosophy, it has drifted into mind and concepts and then to distinct schools of interpretation. There are three primary schools of Vedanta with many sub-branches. The … Continue Reading…

Types of Vasanas

Plug by Gideon Tsang

I had a recent insight into Vasanas I wanted to share. Let’s define some terms as we go. The “pain body” is our unresolved emotions. The vasana are more subtle than this. After we’ve resolved a lot of old, previously incomplete emotions, we become more conscious of our deeper drivers behind that. Vasana means unresolved desire or driver. These can express as addictions or latent tendencies. This energy can drive much of our behaviour, seeking resolution. For example, we may fall in love with someone who doesn’t reciprocate. If it’s mild, our interest will fade and we’ll move on. If … Continue Reading…

Knots or Granthi

Knot by Blondinrikard Froberg

Granthi is a term from the Vedas that describes contractions in the physiology. These are places where there’s been a trauma, an unwillingness to experience something, or a grasping. They may be stored at the site of the trauma or contraction or may be placed somewhere else. Granthi means knot but these contractions are also called stresses or impurities. They are essentially incomplete experiences yet to be resolved. Another way of framing them? The seeds of karma or action. We carry quite a load. I was reading an article by Kavitha Chinnaiyan. She described the 3 primary knots in Tantric … Continue Reading…

Primary Impurities

Tree Avatar by LastHuckleBerry

Kavitha Chinnaiyan wrote an article on the Tantric model of the 3 primary impurities or Malas. These are very subtle, on the level of the self-sense. 1) Anava mala: the sense of incompleteness 2) Mayiya mala: the sense of separation 3) Karma mala: the sense of doership She describes the first as the primary impurity that leads to the others. It is the root of suffering. In a more purely Vedic model, the sense of separation, of being a distinct person comes first. But we could argue either way. Do we feel incomplete because we feel separate? Or vice versa? … Continue Reading…