Repaired With Gold

gold pot

One of the fun parts of my incarnation is that I fall a lot. When I was a teen, I would fall going UP the stairs. In university, I would run for the bus and slip on grass. I have fallen down stairs and broken my wrist. I fell when climbing a fence a year ago, and hurt a few spots. This month, I fell on my own knee while planting my vegetable garden, and bruised my ribs. Bruised ribs and broken ribs feel the same, but have less risk when bruised.

I have a high pain tolerance, yet these ribs tested that. I would say my pain history in life would go: broken wrist, child birth, bruised ribs.

And yet, I am deeply grateful for this injury. I learned how many people love me in my life – a reflection of how Life loves me. I had friends show up out of no where to help. Some picked my child up from school because driving was too hard and probably unsafe for me. Some friends fed me. Some friends watched my pets. Some friends checked in on me and sent me love. As much as my rib could not support me, my circle DID support me.

More than that, it was a deeply spiritual experience. No one but you can explore your relationship with pain. For the first time, I understood what my teacher, Christopher Wallis, meant when he said that you get to a point in life of being grateful for everything, even dog poop. My gratitude for what this has opened in me is profound. When I shared that with him, he wrote this to me:

“You’re more beautiful for having been broken.

People tend to think that something has gone wrong when they’re wounded, or hurt, or broken, and that healing is fixing that wrongness and getting ‘back’ to a good or ‘normal’ condition. But consider this: just as, in the context of weight training, the muscles need to actually tear (get damaged) in order to rebuild stronger, why not consider the parallel possibility that we actually *need* to get hurt/wounded/broken in order to grow stronger and more compassionate?

In that light, nothing ever goes ‘wrong’. And being wounded can be a gift.

The Japanese have a word for this, from the context of artfully repaired pottery: kintsukuroi, “more beautiful for having been broken.” – Christopher Wallis

When I told a friend I could not visit her because I needed to rest, she offered to do healing work with me. I turned her down, because I was loving the work I was doing on my own. I shared that with her, and she commented I was handling it with ease and grace and a smile on my face. I absently agreed, but inside I knew that was not the truth of it.

To handle it with ease and grace and a smile would be to deny what is. The pain is. Sometimes I am at ease. Sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am smiling, and sometimes I am irritable or crying. Why should I be at ease and grace and smiling? That is some form of spiritual overlay on how we think spiritual people are – these detached spirits walking on air and sunshine. What is true is that I am not suffering from the beliefs I lay over the pain. I remember the quotation: In life, pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. – Haruki Murakami

I like the words of Matt Licatta on what happens as we grow spiritually and heal:

“There was an idea that as you healed, you would feel less. That as you awakened, the emotional spectrum would narrow, into some safe, consistent, happy, resolved calm. But you are seeing that love continues to ask you to feel more, to hold and metabolize the full-spectrum of a broken open world.

There was an old hope that as your heart opened, the vulnerability would diminish, the shakiness would fall away, the tenderness would yield… but you are more raw now than ever before.

There was an old belief that as you deepened on the path that you’d be more detached, untouchable, not care so much about others and the world, resting as the great “witness” beyond it all, in some safe, constructed place of observation. But somehow, everything and everyone matter now more than ever, in spontaneous, unexpected ways.

Something new is being born inside you, but something else is dying. Rather than prematurely forcing rebirth to emerge, turn into the uncertainty, the contradictions, and the purity of the death of an old dream. For it is here that the womb of new life is to be found, where the raw materials of resurrection are woven into being by the Great Weaver herself.

While this level of trust may be disorienting to a mind longing for resolution, the body knows… the heart knows. Trust in the fires of disintegration. And the birth that can arise only from the ashes of that level of grace.” – Matt Licatta

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What Is a Relationship Like When You Commit to Awakening?

chakras“Our moments of unconsciousness facilitate pain for ourselves and other beings.  You are not responsible for others experience, so you can’t hurt anyone else.  But through moments of unconsciousness, you can facilitate pain for others. Facilitate means make it likely they will experience pain.  You can create conditions in which it is likely they will experience pain…or joy. When you are unconscious, it is more likely you will facilitate pain.” – Christopher Hareesh Wallis

In the Tantric practice, we do an examination and dissolution of things that are not in line with our true essence.  Some of that gets triggered by the intensely powerful energy practices that become part of the daily routine.  Some of that comes from examining the day to day things that come up that we respond to unconsciously – with anger or fear.  Even happy moments need to be looked at with awareness or we can identify with them, and assign meaning to them that creates separation from truth.

I did a week of deepening, and found some sadness that surprised me.  I am over the ending of my past relationships, and I can see them for what kept me in the relationship.  I can think of my partners with love and compassion. Yet there was this sadness as I asked myself “How did I let him treat me like this? Who was I that I accepted being treated like this?”  Please know, this is not asked with blame or judgement that they were bad men, or that I condemn them as bad.  I simply recognize that what was true of the nature of our relationship is so far removed from who I am today that I cannot conceive of it ever being part of my vibration.  It would be tempting to say “Well, you had to get to that to get to here” and I think that could let a person off the hook of understanding the grain of truth that was part of the experience.  It is not necessarily true that we need to have lessons – we have energetic experiences that show up as patterns of behaviour.  When our vibration changes, so do those patterns.  No blame – no “you had to learn this so the universe taught you”.

That type of thinking is linear, and it is about being a Self/Identity.  But if you view yourself as energetic, then what you experience is a reflection of your energy and vibration in that moment.  It is how much of your truth that is shining through past the old unconscious energy patterns you have layered over top of that radiant self.

What I know now is how unconscious I was in my relationships.  I recall noticing that every relationship I had followed the same pattern, almost to the year in the length of the relationship in which it occurred.  Seven years has been my pattern.  At that point, most of my unconscious stuff has all leaked out!  And the package in which that occurred was about following a story of how relationship is supposed to be.

As a result, the extent to which an individual supported me in expressing my true self, with freedom, completely defined the degree to which I supported the relationship.  It did not matter if you treated me well or not, if the relationship was healthy or not: I was able to experience my true self, and I loved it!  And once your unconscious patterns began to limit that in me, it was time to go.

So, here I am, now living in that expression of radiant self that I relied on my relationship to give me.  What is a relationship like now, when I am already fulfilling what relationship used to be?  For me, today, the answer is that I am attracted to others that are living from that awareness and radiance.  I can love everyone – no problem there – and I can see the beauty of even the meanest person.  But I don’t want to be in relationship with them.

When you are devoted to awakening, relationship/partnership is no longer about the Other.  It is about what gets created between two people – that third entity.  At this point, good relationship dynamics are just the price of entry.  Deepening depends on that third entity. That third entity is the place in which we both commit to love and awakening, using the relationship as a place where the unconscious can be triggered, loved and dissolved.

Western Commercialization of Spiritual Awakening

peacockThere is a growing trend for bringing consciousness into Western culture.  It is part of the language, and has become part of our lifestyle.  We are more comfortable talking about being spiritual, as a replacement for religion.  We see consciousness festivals, conscious communities, books on conscious economy, and consciousness is a booming business. These are rooted in a deep yearning for deeper connection, service, and meaningfulness.

There is a corresponding degradation that may also be happening as these ideas become more and more acceptable.  About 40 years ago, yoga was viewed as fringe; you were some sort of hippie, or flake, if you did yoga.  Vegetarians were odd and marginalized.  Today, there is a yoga studio in every strip mall, and most restaurants have vegetarian and vegan options.  Is it possible that in the process of normalizing these sorts of conscious actions that we have lost the meaningfulness of their spiritual roots?

Recently, I took my Kundalini yoga teacher Yogi Amandeep Singh to a local vegan restaurant and yoga studio. He studied in India under great masters, such as Yogi Bhajan. As we reviewed the offerings, we engaged in a conversation about the westernization of yoga.  Yogic practices were developed systematically, through many centuries of wisdom, and designed with a significant awareness of the subtle energy bodies being impacted in each posture.  Today, there are many commercial yoga classes, such as hot yoga or aerial yoga, which are less about the yoga and more about things that appeal to a western audience.aerial

“I would say this is the number one problem in practice of yoga in the West, that people think that the purpose of yoga is to feel good. All the original authorities agree that the purpose of yoga is to transform yourself into somebody who can see things as they really are, see yourself as who you really are, see reality as what it really is. You discover that at the core you are divine, you are a manifestation of God. But in order to find that core you also have to see all the places in yourself where you are lying to yourself, inauthentic. Of course, that is painful, transformation is challenging and painful. These people practicing yoga to feel good and have fun – that is fine unless they think it will bring them to final liberation and full awakening. Then they are deluded. But if their goal is to have fun then there is no problem. So, this is the tantric attitude – not to put down or condemn anyone`s practice, instead it just tries to show when the practice is not aligned with the desired fruit. Any good teacher would ask you what you want and help you choose a practice that will lead to that.” Christopher Wallis, interview on Tantric roots of Hatha yoga.

What may be worth reflection is how the western commercialization can be working antithetically to the original purpose of spiritual awakening.  In the rejection of religion, in our movement to spirituality, we have lost the communication of truth for free, supported in a common community of interest.  It is free to go to “church”; but in the west, most of our spirituality is commercial.  We pay for it. We buy books, meditation CDs, yoga classes, and reiki treatments.  We go to classes and retreats.  And in the west, what underlies this is a belief that we are somehow lacking, broken, needing to be fixed.  How significant is this?  Consider how much money is spent on popular gurus: Deepak Chopra, Oprah, Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, etc.  This is not a criticism of their work; they have stepped in to fill a need in our consciousness. But what appeals to the western audience is self help, and that may be a block in and of itself to true spiritual awakening.

kundaliniIn a teleclass called The Missing Piece by Christopher Hareesh Wallis, we are told that the tantric tradition was to make the teaching free and available to all who seek.  It was a natural part of spiritual life.  His intent is to return to that tradition in his practice.

One of the theses in the class is the idea that the western commercialization of spiritual truth may be creating blockages to that same spiritual truth being sought.  The self help movement of spirituality starts from the premise that we are broken in some way, and that we need to work on repairing those things.  This is contrary to the truth of tantra, which focuses on emphasis on direct experience of a divine reality that has transcendent and immanent aspects.  In other worlds, we are not broken.  In Tantra Illuminated, Wallis says: “All that exists, throughout all time and beyond, is one infinite divine Consciousness, free and blissful, which projects within the field of its awareness a vast multiplicity of apparently differentiated subjects and objects: each object an actualization of a timeless potentiality inherent in the Light of Consciousness, and each subject is that plus a reflexive movement of self-awareness.” 

But, that truth is abstract for the mind.  Hard to put on a marketing brochure.  And without the sexualisation of tantra, the west would probably not know what the word tantra means.  And of course, because of that, the view of tantra has again become marginalized into something removed from the essential truth of the practice.

So, it is time to take advantage of the asset of the acceptance of spirituality in western culture, and raise the bar.  As a consumer, do you want to study with a 24 year old who has completed 300 hours of yoga teacher training, or do you want to seek a master to guide you in your awakening? Do you want to buy a new self help book every month, only to return to the same root issues, or do you want to transform yourself through a deep practice of spiritual gnosis? As was said earlier, none of these are wrong, as long as we recognize that in this world of global communication, the student can look much further abroad than what is commercially marketed.  If the saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” is true, remember that our world is electronically connected. Seek your teacher in alignment with your readiness for spiritual depth.

Applying Tantra to Everyday Fears

iraqi-girlI have a strong reaction of repulsion to violence.  I cannot watch violence on TV or movies – I cover my eyes.  I cry and become nauseous when I read about or see violence done to children.  The picture I have attached of the Iraqi girl tears my heart out.  I saw this on Facebook, and the story says she lost her mother to war, and drew this to go to for comfort.  Even as I write that I am sobbing.

I remember watching an episode of Stargate Atlantis, where Samantha Carter has to close the door to a bunker with a child, Cassandra, in it.  The child has potentially been built as a bomb, and when she goes off, she will kill everyone around her. Samantha had the moral fortitude to go in and stay with her, even though she would die, rather than leave a child in terror. This episode had me crying for hours, and I ran upstairs and held my daughter.

While violence regarding children is most difficult for me, I struggle with all violence.  I get irritable in the mountains.  The Magus once suggested it was because mountains are formed through a sort of violence. Regardless, I avoid violence as much as I can.726

Tantra would say that avoiding something is as off balancing as being addicted to something.  All things are the divine.  I have struggled with how to see the divine in violence.

Today, I was happily listening to my audio recording of Christopher Wallis.  He is a profound scholar in Tantra, and has written the cornerstone book on it, Tantra Illuminated.  I went into a large store to pick up a few things, and I was enjoying my inner reflections about what I had heard him talk about and how it resonated with me.  I was so engrossed I didn’t pay attention to the man beside me muttering.  So he got louder to make sure I knew he wanted me to hear him.

“Stupid *insert racial slur here*,” he said. “They don’t know what they are doing.  I used to work there.  All those people are stupid.”

I was stunned.  I surround myself with such loving people that I seem to have lost my ability to recall that hate and fear and violence and racism are part of the world too.

“Oh?” was all I managed.  I wanted to take him on, to use my privileged position in society to try to change his mind. “That is unfortunate. I had a great experience.  I think people try their best every day.”  I avoided anything that suggested I heard the racism, and wanted to reflect unity and oneness in our human experience. He scowled, and walked off muttering to himself some more.

At one level, this encounter made me nauseous and sad.  I felt like I had somehow failed.  And this is the second time this week something has happened that made me think I should be more, intervene, do something about it.  So, from a tantric philosophy perspective, what is the truth here? What is my truth? What about me is being revealed?the-only-thing-necessary-for-evil

I took a deep breath, and went into the stillness.  Look at the words I used.  Privilege…do I feel I have to pay something back? Is it the helpless feeling, that if I don’t do something to change this I am failing? Is it my own questions about deservedness playing out? I once had a personal story and identity of being champion of the underdog.  Just a few months ago I would tell people that all the Yuck in the organization with which I worked eventually came to me to sort out.

We see the world as we are, not as how it is.  If I move out these aspects of story, what I can see it the divine play of how the experience serves to show me what is alive and unresolved in myself.  To point me down a path of inquiry that lines up with my intentions for knowing and being a deeper truth.A pink lotus flower and lily pads with saturated color

For once, I am willing to let go of having to do something about this, and see the man as God coming to talk to me about my stuff.  And so I can bless him for being a messenger of the divine. I can see the love inside of me, and how that love suffers from seeing the lack of love in violence.  I can know the potential of love and peace for him and for all of humanity.  And I can let go of the pain of the story that says I am helpless or not enough to simply be in the experience of this energy.

And to me, today, that is Tantra, baby!

Trust in Source: Comparing Principles in Tantra and Quantum Physics

What is the nature of the Divine? What is God? These are most likely the most common questions of the spiritual seeker.

historyIt was required in undergraduate Arts programs that you have a minimum science requirement. One of the more interesting ways to meet this requirement was to take The History Of Science. The history of science suggested that our most deeply scientific area of study – physics – in fact emerged from trying to understand the nature of God. Philosophy, physics, and psychology all emerged as fields of inquiry to ultimately answer our burning questions about God. (See this link for a paper on integrating science and religion). Of course, other cultures have their own history that does not make it into a mainstream academic class. Eastern cultures developed systematic and rich ways of understanding God.

In exploring these broad traditions, one finds there are tremendous intersections in the philosophy of Tantra, and in the research overviewed in the documentary The Quantum Activist. The Quantum Activist logically walks through the implications of the Observer Effect in physics, and utilizes Quantum Physics to answer questions about the nature of Consciousness.

The main ideas in this documentary are that “consciousness is the ground of all being, and all objects of our experience (sensing, thinking, feeling, and intuition) are quantum possibilities for consciousness to choose from. If we choose from what is known, that is to say, what is conditioned in us from prior experiences, we are choosing from our ego-consciousness. But if we choose what is unknown, what is unmanifest in our prior experiences, we are choosing from what spiritual traditions call God-consciousness (in scientific language we call it quantum consciousness). Choosing from God-consciousness requires quantum leaps (movement from point A to point B without going through intermediate steps), nonlocality (signalless communication), and tangled hierarchy (causal relationships of circularity). The third message of quantum physics is the evolution of consciousness, and it is taking us toward a greater and greater capacity for processing the meaning of our lives and the world around us. The immediate future of evolution is promising to take us from our current preoccupation with the rational mind to an intuitive mind that values the archetypes; such as Good, Beauty, Truth, Justice, and Love, and gives us the ability to process the meaning of our lives through these archetypes.” – The Quantum Activit.com

In Tantra, it is believed that all things are part of one vast field of energy, called the Light of Creation or the Light of Consciousness (Christopher Wallis). God is viewed as “the tantrabookunbounded Light of Consciousness reposing in innate bliss, endowed with the Powers of Will, Knowledge, and Action.” We are not separate from that, and it is the process of spiritual practice that helps us remove the blocks to seeing ourselves as we really are (divine) and fully able to access that same freedom as our Source.

Both Tantra and Quantum Activist speak to the issue of creation. Dr. Goswami refers to God as Creative Consciousness. In Tantra, creation is viewed as “the flowing forth, within the infinite field of Consciousness, of a vast multiplicity of apparently differentiated subjects and objects” (Christopher Wallis). Dr Goswami notes that when we manifest, we do so in a higher state of Consciousness. The difficulty is that many people try to create from ego-consciousness, which is limited by experience.

In the Quantum Activist, it becomes clear that we influence not only our experience, but the experience of all others because we are connected to all others energetically (as defined in physics). He argues for a principal of non-locality, showing that we are all interconnected – even without signals we can communicate and influence each other, and experimental evidence is proving our inherent unity.

In Tantra, there is also a recognition of unity. “Every encounter with any other being is an opportunity for reflecting one’s own total nature. Recognizing yourself in the other being, and the other being in yourself, necessarily involves an expansion of your sense of identity…this expansion continues until you experience yourself in all things, and all things in yourself.” (Christopher Wallis)

Tantra reminds us that to attain fulfillment you simply need to see the truth of your own being: “that infinite potential exists within you, for you are an expression of the Divine, and whatever manifests through you in this life, though not infinite, is to be honored as what you alone can add to the ever-expanding process of God’s grand self-exploration.” (Christopher Wallis)

physicsSo what? With all this power, what do we do now? In a moment of humor, Dr Goswami suggests we “Do, Be, Do, Be, Do. Be with God some of the time, be in the ego some of the time, and let the dance generate creative acts of transformation. ”

The Quantum Activist calls us to apply our knowledge of creation to change the world. “He issues a call for a spiritual economics that is concerned with our well-being rather than only our material needs; politics that uses power to serve, instead of dominating others; education that liberates rather than shackles; and new healthy practices that restore wholeness.” In other words, he is speaking to another famous quotation by Gandhi – Be the Change you want to see in the world.

There are many more approaches to understanding consciousness. There are many practices and philosophies to guide our spiritual growth. To me, the biggest insight I take from the union of Tantra and Quantum Physics is this: Trust in Source.