Material needed: Journal, drawing pad with spiral binding at least the size of a dinner plate, drawing materials, compass or dinner plate.
Books and articles needed:
Practices and exercises:
* You will already have these books.
In this guidebook, we have presented a great many problems that people encounter on the spiritual path. This unit offers some solutions and ideas for how to deal with them that are taken from Shamanism, Yoga and Buddhism. Of course there are others in the Judeo-Christian and Sufi traditions. This is not meant to be comprehensive.
In the first unit, we saw how the primary basis of our feelings of separation come from the ego's efforts at maintaining a dualistic mode of perceiving the world. In the second unit, the consequent "blindness," confusion and defensiveness serve to support the dualisms. The third unit explained how the education of the intellect enables the mind to take part in and defend the illusion of separateness through hierarchial cognitive structures and discursive thinking. The fourth unit dealt with social conditioning during the elementary school years and disclosed how social roles, guilt, the need for approval from others and conformity keep us enslaved to the cultural hypnosis. In unit five, we examined the ego's role in greater detail, and in unit six we saw how emotions are a function of the ego's need for control. Passion, lust or desire,;anger as aggression; fear and inertia or ignorance are the major forms of emotional arousal. Buddhism calls the major players passion, aggression and ignorance. In unit seven, we looked at male sexuality and the role of testosterone in the twin drives of sexuality and aggression, and how the hormone can manifest negatively in the world if it is not curtailed or transmuted into compassion. Unit eight dealt with the uses of speech in the service of control and defensiveness. We addressed the critic in unit nine to examine authority issues, judging, and disempowerment. Unit ten went into more detail about empowerment, money, greed, destruction, dependence and victimization. In unit eleven, we studied the role of karma in work, selfless service and reincarnation.
We will begin our unit on healing with some principles and attitudes suggested by the work of Angeles Arrien (1993), a Basque shaman, anthropologist and college professor, and Fields et al (1984).
Healing Principles and Attitudes
Arrien (1993) opens the chapter on "The Way of the Healer" by saying that ". . the Healer supports the principle of paying attention to what has heart and meaning (italics mine). Healers in all major traditions recognize that the power of love is the most potent healing force available to all human beings. Effective Healers from any culture are those who extend the arms of love: acknowledgement, acceptance, recognition, validation, and gratitude." (p. 49) These arms of love are what we all crave in our relationships, and yet most of us feel deprived of them on a daily basis. If what we have learned about karma is true, then it follows that the way to achieve these blessings is to begin to hand them out to others. Spirit says that everyone who appears in front of us is our spiritual work. That is who we must love, that person right there in all of his or her imperfection. One of the eight healing principles Arrien offers (p. 69) is "Love, touch, and support systems." How could you provide those for others? You might want to read Arrien's book The Four-fold Way in which this information is included along with the Ways of the Warrior, Teacher and Visionary.
Arrien (1993) also remarks on the need for daily and weekly exercise which keeps movement alive in us. This matches the emphasis in the previous unit on taking action in the world and does not just mean going to the gym for fitness routines.
Finally she recommends cradling work (p. 61) as a method to maintain self-esteem, self-love, self-trust and self-respect. This involves acknowledgement of our strengths, contributions, love given and love received.
If you are able, secure a copy of Arrien's book, The Four-fold Way. Read the section on The Way of the Healer." Then do the cradling exercise on pages 61-62 and the practices to develop the inner healer on pages 69-72. Write out the answers the questions on pages 75-6. As you do so, think about how love overcomes separation and dualities.
Balance. Out of our study of dualities and separation comes a recognition of the need for balance. Since we have to live in a physical world and depend upon our senses and mind for our survival, we cannot just go into a trance and think we have gone beyond duality into unity. It is not that easy. Trance is escape, not unity. What is required is that we live in both worlds at once, maintaining our connection with the One while, at the same time, going about our chores in daily life. This in not a matter of thinking of two things at once, but rather an awareness of our embeddedness in the One Spirit. We have to deal with dualities because they are part of life. So we attempt to view them in a larger context in which we can bring both sides of the equation into balance.
For instance, the shadow side of love is fear. We cannot excape some measure of fear even if it is only fear of loss of control or loss of our identity. However, if we can understand that fear is the shadow side of love, perhaps we can mobilize the energy in it toward giving love to others. In that exchange, fear is transmuted and loses its death grip on our ego consciousness. In forgetting about ourselves in the act of love, the fear dissolves. Of course it will return, but each time we use up some of its energy, its hold on us diminishes.
Gratitude. Today I received an invitation from the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions to attend a gathering in Cape Town, South Africa December 1-8, 1999. They are sending out a call for "Gifts of Service to the World." They say that "To give such a gift is an expression of the fundamental spiritual inclination towards generosity, caring, hospitality, compassion, and good will. The extent to which goodness has existed in the world has always been directly related to the giving of such gifts and the spirit in which they are given." (Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, P. O. Box 1630, Chicago, IL 60690-1630, Tel.: 312-629-2990, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.cpwr.org; www.cpwr.org)
Giving back is essential on the spiritual path to keep the energy flowing. In addition, it supports the law of karma. What is given out returns to us. So the cultivation of generosity brings out the best in us. We give what we can, whether it is good thoughts, material goods, selfless service or prayer. You will know what your unique gift is meant to be.
Willingness is an act of will. It is a conscious choice to put our own selfish ego desires aside and put the other first as Easwaran would say. It means to cultivate spiritual Will, the determination to stay on the path and to keep focused on the journey toward higher consciousness. It means a willingness to try to stay awake and not slip back into illusion or maya, to keep the covers off and our minds on the goal. This is the way to empowerment, true personal power.
Forgiveness is paramount and is one of the attitudes put forth by Fields et al (1984) in their book Chop Wood, Carry Water. It is also one of the major themes of A Course in Miracles (1985). Forgiveness means to let go of negative emotions that poison our souls. If offers a fresh start. It surrenders the ego's pride to a higher form of humility that opens the heart to love and to divine grace. "I'm sorry. I made a mistake. Please forgive me" are the nine little words that could change the world according to Richmond (1998) in Work as a Spiritual Practice. If you have access to this little book, you might want to read his chapter on "Forgiveness." While you have it in your hand, there are also chapters on "Gratitude" and "Generosity." These concepts have more than nine lives.
Active listening is an effort to get beyond our own agenda and into a totality of communication with another. It implies an openness and willingness to experience what the other is feelings and thinking without giving any thought to how we might respond or to what we want to say. It puts aside selfish demands for attention and provides unconditional support. Gerard Egan (no date) in his book Face to Face puts it this way:
One does not listen with just his ears: he listens with his eyes and with his sense of touch, he listens by becoming aware of the feelings and emotions that arise within himself because of his contact with others (that is, his own emotional reso- nance is another "ear"), he listens with his mind, his heart, and his imagination. He listens to the words of others, but he also listens to the messages that are buried in the words or encoded in the cues that surround the words (the"metacommuni- cations" of the other). He listens to the voice, the demeanor, the vocabulary, and the gestures of the other, to the context, the verbal messages, the linguistic pat- terns, and the bodily movements of the other. He listens to the sounds and to the silences. He listens not only to the message itself but also to the context, or in Gestalt terms, he listens to both the figure and the ground and to the way these two interact (p. 87)
Overlooking the sexist pronouns, this is pretty good advice. Of course we cannot do all of this at once, but you could practice watching these things at parties and in your casual conversations. Active listening is a gift to someone else because it conveys the message that you value them as a person. And it is a powerful way to retrain the tricky ego.
Exercise: Active Listening
Find a friend who would like to talk over some issue s/he has with you. Ask her or him to write a paper on the problem or issue before you get together. Then settle down together and do the Divine Light Invocation (Radha, 1987). This invites help from Spirit and takes the guidance away from your ego putting it into the hands of a higher power.
Have your friend read the paper and, as s/he does so, mark what seem to be the key words with a marker or pen. You must use your intuition to make these selections. If in doubt, mark all the major nouns. When the reading is finished, begin asking questions about the words or ideas you have marked. For instance, suppose in this sentence ["I find it very hard to get anything done any more because I procrastinate so much"] you marked the word "procrastinate." You might ask, "Is there any pattern in the things you tend to put off doing?" Or, "What kinds of thing do you put off doing?" Or another example: In the sentence ["I find it very hard to love my husband/wife the way I used to."] you marked the words "husband/wife" and "love." You might ask, "Is there something in your husband/wife that is like something you dislike in yourself?" Or "What does love mean to you?" "Or how does love manifest itself in your life?"
The active listening part comes in because the answers to your questions are the clues for the next question. You are trying to help the person open up and gain some insights into what is bothering them. So you focus your attention keenly on the person and try to empathize with the way they are feeling and thinking. If you get clear enough yourself, then Spirit can conduct the interview through you. You will know when that happens because you will hear yourself saying exactly the right things without having consciously thought about it. Or you may wonder where that question or statement came from. For this to work, you must get your ego and your own agendas out of the way. If you have trouble with your ego, tell it to go sit in the corner, it is not needed right now.
Note: Do not ask "why" questions because they require someone to justify themselves. This makes them feel like they are being criticized, so they will clam up and turn on the resistance. Use questions that begin with "how," "what," "when," "do," "can," etc. I find that "how" questions provoke deepening and put the ball in the other person's court. Most people are intrigued by being asked how something manifests in their lives or how something works in their lives.
Some Yogic Answers
Most of the yogic answers to problems involve dealing with the ego or developing character. If you remember the first guidebook, there are eight rungs of Yoga. The first two are yamas and niyamas and the fourth is pratyahara. We are going to use parts of these in this context.
Yamas are basically attitudes or ways of approaching life that will, if practiced diligently, help to build character. Two of them are important for this chakra.
Ahimsa or non-violence has already been mentioned. It means doing no harm whether we are talking about behaviors, thoughts or attitudes. It is a very important antidote to the anger and aggression we have met in this guidebook. If we can take a half second between the stimulus for our anger and our response, that gives enough time to think "ahimsa," do no harm. It is like counting to ten except that we remind ourselves of the reason why we are not going to actualize our anger, rage or hatred; or any hurtful response, for that matter.
Non-lying means not only telling the truth, but refraining from deceitfulness, being honest with ourselves, not cheating, openness and awareness. Whenever ego takes over and runs our lives, it is a form of lying because ego is not who we are. The persona and the personality aspects are not the truth of who we are. Nor is the mind. All of those are servants to the Higher Self and should not be allowed to take control of our existence. If we can keep these aspects of ourselves in perspective, then we can actualize the true Self instead.
Niyamas are observances that help us to be our divine selves in life. They represent the right actions that come from the right attitudes.
Tapas is a niyama we have met before, but it seems particularly appropriate to this chakra since it provides a means to refine the senses, control appetites, organize energy in the direction of inner transformation and a rigorous discipline to train the mind and ego. Tapas is any form of austerity or self-discipline that reconditions the will. Some examples are fasting, going on silence, putting others first, regular spiritual practice of some sort especially if it is not welcomed by the ego, visiting the sick, volunteering in the community, etc. You select the form of tapas according to the part of yourself that needs to be disciplined.
Self-examination, as always, is the key to success in remodeling oneself. If you find that some aspects of this chakra are problematic for you, then that is a sign that you need to go deeper until you can root out the causes. It is not enough to merely stop the symptoms; one must get to the causes. This is especially important with respect to karma because whatever is not conscious has free rein to disrupt our lives and will do so.
Cleansing. Another one of the niyamas is purity. This means not only cleanliness in body but also in mind, speech and spirit. It means a bath every day and a clean, orderly house because the environment we create around ourselves reflects the workings of our minds and spirits. An untidy, dirty house is not a form of letting go but is a reflection of a lazy, chaotic mind. A chaotic mind that is not focused and organized is a trial to the spirit because purity is the natural condition of spirit.
Purity also means clarity especially of mind. To be clear requires that we examine all aspects of our lives and take back all our projections. Until I understand myself and own all my shadow aspects, I am in danger of projecting them onto others. Nor am I able to know what I am responsible for in my interactions and relationships with others.
1. Select some aspect of your physical health that needs attention and work on it. This could mean a fast, losing weight, starting an exercise program, giving up smoking or alcohol, getting more sleep or even just relaxing for a half hour before dinner if you are not doing that now. If available, you might want to sign up for a workshop in Kriya Yoga.
2. Continue your meditation practice to clear the mind.
Service to Others
This is not a niyama, but is a yogic teaching that helps us to counteract negative karma. It is a form of gratitude and giving back to the great ocean of energy that supplies us all.
Read pp. 299-302 in A Path with Heart and do the "Meditation on Service" on pp. 302-3.
Granthis and Bandhas
According to Yoga, there are three knots in the etheric body that present obstacles to the ascent of Kundalini energy. The Brahma Granthi is located in the first chakra or, according to some traditions, in the third chakra. Because it is associated with the fire element, I believe it is in the third chakra. This is the knot of samskara or the world of names and forms. In other words, it means attachment to all the things and people of the world. It is mediated through the five senses and the mind and is responsible for the role of desires in creating samskaras. Renunciation and pratyahara are two ways to work with the Brahma Granthi.
Another way of dealing with this granthi is by the practice of the Uddiyana Bandha. A bandha is a lock, a way to constrain the area where energy is temporarily blocked so that it can be redirected upward. There are two other bandhas, the Mula Bandha at the first chakra and the Jalandhara Bandha at the fifth chakra. For now, we will just learn the Uddiyana Bandha.
Exercise: Untying the Knot
1. Read pp. 32-4, pp. 37- 41 (through Pratyahara)and the section on Uddiyana Bandha on p. 44 in Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation. Also read pp. 83-4 in Yoga & Psychotherapy.
2. Uddiyana Bandha. Follow the instructions in the Johari chakra book on page 44. Don't expect samadhi right away. However, this Bandha will help you become more aware of the third chakra and the movements of its energies. If you are going to try to raise some of the negative emotions to the fourth chakra, this is a useful exercise to do first in order to bring awareness to the area. It also moves the energy upwards. You might want to see if there is any positive effect of this exercise on your feelings of empowerment.
Pratyahara is the process of withdrawing the senses. It involves learning how to screen out information that comes in through the senses. We all know how to do this when stimulation is unwanted or irrelevant such as rain on the roof at night. It requires concentration directed inwardly. The mind withdraws into itself, according to Johari (1987). When the connection between the mind and the sensory organs is broken or shut down, no information can be transmitted nor can it reach consciousness. Notice that we are talking here about only stimulation from the external world. Material that comes from the inner world is dealt with by means of the next three rungs of Yoga.
May I remind you that the eight rungs of Yoga are intended to be achieved in sequence: yamas and niyamas first, then asana, then pranayama, then pratyahara. Preparation is important. If the previous rungs are not mastered, then the ladder is shaky from its foundations. It does not good, for instance, to try to discipline our breathing if the body is restless. Nor can we withdraw the senses, if we are emotionally upset.
You will find it difficult to screen out all the stimulation in any case, so it helps if you can reduce the noise from the environment before you begin or pick a time when it is naturally quiet. Early morning is good or late at night. Sit for meditation, ideally just after an asana session so your body is in good condition. Close your eyes. Allow yourself a few minutes to settle down, then imagine you are gazing at the ceiling through the third eye. This will help release the mental chatter. Focus your attention on your breath and allow your mind to quieten. Gradually let go of any mental focus and relax. The mind and the breath are connected, so when your breathing slows, so will your mind. However, you may find that remnants of sound still find their way into your awareness. Do not fight this, but simply withdraw, loosen the mind, let go... let go... let go. You might try imagining the source of the sound receding into the distance if letting go does not help. Experiment. And persist. This may take time, but it is well worth it to gain control over the senses.
You may also want to use the asana of savasana as a means to withdraw the senses. But be careful not to fall asleep. That does not count.
Svarga Realm (svarloka)
The only way one can see the Light is by giving up illusions, self-conceit and the conditioned self. The Light of Reality is eternal and everlasting (Shafii, 1998, p. 151)
"A Loka is a state of light and a soul's expansion; a heaven" (Tyberg, 1970, p. 114). The Svarga realm is the world of light, pure thought and feeling, steadfast purity and clarity of mental existence. It is probably no accident that the world of light is associated with the chakra in which the sense is sight. We also need to dwell on the quality of purity in order to counter the damaging effects of aggression that is potential in all of us. We need to think about the right use of power in our attempts to become re-empowered and about right livelihood in the way we earn our living.
The potential of anger to create damaging karma necessitates clarity to find our way and charity toward others we meet along the way. Atonement is part of renunciation. We ask forgiveness for the harm we have caused others, then agree to renounce the behaviors that caused the pain. Selfless service helps us to move beyond our own narcissism and creates good karma. All of the practices we use to purify ourselves enable the light to shine through us more brilliantly. Thus we can channel its healing power to others at the same time it is healing us.
You may want to read verses 51, 52 and 54 in Tao Te Ching.
Exercise: Divine Light Invocation
Swami Radha brought this practice back from India. She was given it by the eternal Babaji just after she was initiated into sannyas by Swami Sivananda. It is a practice that will enable you to invoke Divine Light at any time and as often as you need it either to heal yourself, protect yourself and your work or to send Light to others in need of it.
Instructions for the invocation may be found in a little booklet called The Divine Light Invocation by Swami Sivananda Radha (1987).
Some Buddhist Answers
If you have noticed some overlap between the Yogic and Buddhist themes and practices, that is because Buddhism arose out of Yoga. The Buddha was a yogi before he established Buddhism. One of the main differences between Yoga and Buddhism is the lack of a deity in Buddhism. Instead, the focus is on development of the human being in the present moment and the elimination of all things that stand in the way of enlightenment.
Passion, Aggression and Ignorance (PAI)
We have met these concepts before, but it is good to review them. Passion, aggression and ignorance in the sense of ignoring or of maya are the three poisons in life. We can think of them as the three basic movements of the body: reaching out to, moving against to destroy or running away. All other movements are combinations of these three. In the same way, all negative emotions can be thought of as come combination of PAI. Passion is a response to desire, aggression is a response to fear or a threat of some kind and ignorance is also a response to fear. We might well investigate the possibility that all emotionality is the ego's response to fear. And fear comes from a threat to survival either personal or species survival. The problem is that a threat to self-image or the ego's ability to control things is also viewed as a major threat thus inducing fear or anxiety on the part of ego.
So how might we deal with the big three, PAI? Go back to the source. The catch is that the source is not always easy to find. Ego's machinations are very clever and circuitous. Kornfield (1993) speaks of the war that is constantly waged by the unawakened mind against the way things are. In chapter 2 of A Path with Heart, he discusses the problems created by fear. Then, in chapter 7, he takes up the various forms of PAI and offers some ideas for dealing with them.
Exercise: Passion, Aggression and Ignorance
Read chapters 2 and 7 in A Path with Heart and do the meditations at the end of each chapter. Then write a paper on the ways in which these three emotions manifest in your life including a plan to deal with the most difficult one of them. See if you can make a commitment to carry out your plan. This may be facilitated by creating a ritual to sanctify your resolution.
In a manner similar to the mantra initiation in Yoga, taking refuge is the first step to becoming a Buddhist. We first have to meditate on the impermanence of everything. Change is everpresent and ongoing in our lives. That causes suffering which is also omnipresent as is our aloneness which we will eventually come to see as an expression of our human dignity. When we finally wish to commit ourselves to doing something about the suffering of constant reincarnation, we come to take refuge. This is a formal acknowledgement that we are going to transform our confusion into wisdom. We know that we can do this because the Buddha did it in one lifetime.
The vow is as follows (without the accompanying rituals). For those see Gyaltsen & Rogers (1986):
Taking refuge in the Buddha means trusting the example of the Buddha who sat alone and attained enlightenment. And it means that I recognize the Buddha-nature within me. Taking refuge in the Dharma means accepting the Buddhist teachings as the path one wishes to follow and meditation as the main practice to achieve enlightenment. And taking refuge in the sangha means joining the community of fellow seekers in order to receive support and encouragement. However, there is no sense of dependency in the sangha because we recognize the journey is solitary, but there is mutual respect and a desire to co-create an environment of sanity as a context for the journey. The vow represents a determination to learn how to control the ego and govern the mind. It also emphasizes the importance of giving of oneself to others, putting others first as Easwaran would say.
In my own mind, I think of the Buddha as who I am (striving to become awake), the Dharma as the fact that I know who I am and need to learn how to live up to it, and the Sangha as meaning that everyone else is the Buddha too. Buddha means the awakened one.
If you have a copy of Way to Go, read pages 19-26. This is an excellent discussion of what it means to take refuge.
Bodhicitta is most often translated as "mind of enlightenment," but it has a more specific meaning too. It refers to the process of ". . seeing of everything, just as it is, by the essence of everything - the mind - without any mistake" (Khentin Tai Situ Pa in Holmes, Ed., no date, p. 30).
Elsewhere Trungpa (1984, p. 44) translates Bodhicitta as "awakened heart." He says it comes from being willing to face your state of mind. Lest you find this a bit contradictory, remember that in eastern traditions the seat of the mind is in the heart. [Now we are only confused.] I find it helpful to think of this "awakened mind" as intuition and what we think of as mind in this culture as intellect.
Another meaning of bodhicitta is compassion. Compassion arises in the heart and is an accompaniment to enlightenment.
1. Read Part 3 and pages 72-76 in Way to Go (Holmes, Ed.).
2. Practice tong len, page 73 in Way to Go every morning before you get out of bed for two weeks. See if you feel any different as a result of the practice. You may also try practicing it whenever you find yourself in a setting where there is a lot of negative energy or when you are in the company of someone who is distressed or angry. You will find that you can literally vacuum a room of negativity with this very powerful practice.
If you can't find this book, look for directions in other Buddhist books or email me.
In the discussion on bodhicitta, two of the definitions of it were awakened heart and compassion. In their usual matter-of-fact way, Buddhists have given us five precepts or rules to help us find our way to bodhicitta. They are as follows:
I have indicated the Yogic equivalents in brackets just to indicate how the rules for spiritual progress agree over disciplines. Precept number 5 may seem quaint to you in this modern age, but the sense of it is basically purity. We should avoid anything that clouds our awareness or does damage to our bodies, minds and spirits. Similarly, gossip steals a person's reputation. Notice that all five precepts are expressed as things to avoid, things that hurt our spiritual development.
Read pages 296-8 and pages 303-5 in A Path with Heart. Then copy the precepts into your journal. Do some self-reflection about the extent to which you observe these rules of behavior. Think about the deeper meanings of them taking into consideration such things as all the forms of killing, not just taking a life but also things like destroying someone's pleasure in a beautiful day by complaining, or damaging someone's self-esteem through rejection or gossip. Stealing is the underlying action when we run down someone's reputation with malicious gossip or cheat on our income tax returns. Consider why Buddhists selected these particular rules rather than the set of Ten Commandments, for instance. What is the specific relationship of these precepts to development of spiritual awareness and compassion?
The precepts show us what we should not do. The paramitas tell us what we should do in order to achieve an awakened heart. The word "paramita" means other shore. So, to practice the paramitas takes us to the other shore, i.e., the awakened heart of Bodhicitta. All of the paramitas may be brought to bear against the three poisons. The ten are as follows in a rather general order of development:
1. Generosity (dana) - giving not only material goods but also loving protection to those in fear and the gift of Dharma (truth and the teachings). Giving what is needed.
2. Discipline (sila) - morality or purity, acknowledgement of natural purity, respect for others, relate to earth, senses and mind properly, basic sanity.
3. Patience (ksanti) - calm, deliberate, persevering, careful, gives others space, not inhibited by conventional morality, efficient, focused. Non-retaliation, not avoiding suffering, has confidence in the ultimate truth [the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha].
4. Exertion (virya) - delighting in and working hard with whatever is in front of us, self-acceptance, attacking samsaras. Commitment, make a sustained effort, dissatisfaction with our progress on the path.
5. Meditation (dhyana) - state of total involvement, awareness without a watcher, stable awareness, Development of inner awareness, awareness of the clarity and qualities of mind, lack of duality, tranquility or equanimity, motivation to help others.
6. Knowledge (prajna) - panoramic awareness, total involvement, cuts through fixed concepts, manipulation or deceit. Worldly wisdom, skilled disciplines, transcendent wisdom and the wisdom of non-duality.
7. Skillful Means (upaya) - total confidence without a reference point, lack of inhibition, warriorship. To refrain from negative actions, to accumulate what is positive and to help others.
8. Vision or inspiration (pranidhana) - present possibilities for the future, non-territoriality.
9. Power (bala) - confidence, ability to take risks.
10. Wisdom (jnana) - complete non-identification with things of the world because identify with all that is.
The Bodhisattva vow usually follows taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The vow is:
The first "attainment of enlightenment" means that everyone has attained enlightenment. The Bodhisattva is putting everyone else first on the spiritual journey. Historically, it has meant someone who has dealt with all their karma so they no longer need to be reincarnated. However, they agree to come to earth to help all others with their problems on the path. We would call such a person a saint. Taking the Bodhisattva vow is a very powerful way to discipline ego.
1. Read pages 44-63 in Way to Go, Part VI in Myth of Freedom and review chapter 8 in A Path with Heart. Trungpa gives us ten stages of development which he calls bhumis or spiritual levels. The ten paramitas associated with them are: Generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, knowledge, skillful means, vision, power and wisdom. See if you can bring together the paramitas as Situ Pa presents them with those of Trungpa.
2. Consider the paramitas: exertion, power, skillful means, forbearance and meditation in the light of what you have learned in this guidebook. Work out an outline for each unit that shows which paramita is best suited to the issues of that unit. You may, of course, refer to all of the paramitas. These five would just limit the work somewhat.
3. Select one of the paramitas that you would like to focus your attention on and work with it for a few weeks. Write down your commitment in your journal and, every night before you go to bed, take a few moments for reflection on how well you have done with that commitment that day. Jot down a few notes in your journal every day to track your progress. At the end of the time, review your notes and see if you wish to continue either with the same paramita or with a different one.
"Everything that changes is a symbol." - Goethe, Faust, Pt. II.
When we think of a mandala, we tend to think of a round design that is roughly symmetrical, or perhaps a yantra that is used by yogis for meditation. However, a mandala is much, much more than that. It is a particular kind of symbol that offers a clue how to access the Divine One.
According to Arguelles & Arguelles (1985, p. 13), a mandala has three components: a center, symmetry and cardinal points. However, this conception pertains only to the contruction of the mandala. What each of these components represents is the key message.
First of all the mandala is always a circle, and, as such, represents wholeness or unity. Like the uroboros, it also stands for the entire process of whatever it represents from beginning to middle to end. And that process always returns to its beginning and starts all over again. The center is the Source, the Ultimate Reality, Beingness, the eternal potential, the present moment, the Now.
The cardinal points symbolize the polarities or dualities in life. This is expressed as movement toward or away from the central point. Such an action reminds us of the yogic idea of creation and dissolution as being the breath of Vishnu, on the outbreath the cosmos is created. On the inbreath, it is withdrawn into the god. Involution and evolution are the same process. Involution means the divine Spirit comes into the universe or the person, evolution means the return of the soul to the Source. This idea helps us understand the destruction we see everywhere about us as part of the act of creation. The old must be destroyed to make room for the new. This alternation of change back and forth is supported by a similar vibration of energy in the smallest particles of which we have information. And it manifests itself in the pulses of light that reach us from the farthest points in the universe. Because this radiation extends in every direction, the mandala must be symmetrical. This does not mean that the parts of the design must be identical in every quadrant or octant, but that they are balanced.
The center is the source of power and life that is self-renewing and which continually pours forth the energies of creation. The Law of the Center holds all the parts together as gravity keeps us from flying off the earth. Without these principles of integration and movement, a mandala has no life. So we can see that the mandala represents the process of continuing renewal of life and power.
Now, as we apply these principles to ourselves, we can see that the mandala also can represent each person. The circle is the whole individual. The Center is the Higher Self or godhead, and the polar activities are the processes of life and consciousness in that individual. What this means for our healing is that the Source of everything we need or desire lies within. The movement back and forth, to and from the center also suggests that as we are embedded in the heart of the Divine One, so is the One embedded within our own hearts. The pulsation is continual and, unless the route is blocked, we have everlasting access to the source of all we need. Arguelles and Arguelles (1985) say that mandalization of a person is ". . the sinking of the reflective roots of the mind into the core of being, bringing forth a renewed vision of man's place and the nature of creative living within the order of the universe as a whole" (p. 112).
The sense of this unit is sight. When sight is taken to higher, more refined levels of operation, it becomes a direct perception of reality. We are able to see and know the truth. So we go beyond the eye's vision and even beyond clairvoyance to real knowledge and wisdom. That is a direct contact with the truth of being.
1. Read Mandala by Jose and Miriam Arguelles. In the book you will find detailed instructions to create a mandala in the sacred tradition of Tibet. The purpose of doing this is to see the true nature of your own reality and to help you release fears. The process may take you several days because there is a preparation and seven other stages of the process, so plan accordingly.
2. Then create a mandala of your life. You may select your own focus. To reveal your Higher Self, to transmute negative energy or to look at the difference between your false self and your Higher Self are some examples or what you might do. Remember that you must destroy the mandala as part of the process. However, you will carry the image in your mind as a constant reminder of who you really are.
o O o
At this point in our travels, we have examined neutral energy in the first chakra; reflective, yin energy in the second chakra; and proactive yang energy in the third chakra. In doing so, we have systematically examined the personality, ego and intellectual aspects of the false self. It is my hope that this process has been cleansing and healing for you, and that you are now ready to approach higher levels of consciousness with a pure heart and selfless motivation. Of course, this work is never done, but we can lay the foundation for a lifetime of sacred self-development by doing this spiritual work. In the next guidebook, we will meet the Spirit descending to join us in the heart center.
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Iyer, I. (Ed.) (1983). Return to Shiva: From the Yoga Vasishtha Maharamayana. New York: Concord Grove Press.
Johari, H. (1987). Chakras: Energy centers of transformation. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.
Kornfield, J. (1993). A path with heart A guide through the perils and promises of spiritual life. New York: Bantam Books.
Rama, S., Ballentine, R. & Ajaya, S. (1976). Yoga and psychotherapy: The evolution of consciousness. Honesdale, PA: The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy.
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Richmond, L. (1998). Work as a spiritual practice: A practical Buddhist approach to inner growth and satisfaction on the job. New York: Broadway Books.
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In Unit XII. Healing, we have found some means of healing the wounds inflicted by ego, the intellect and our social conditioning.
Note: References and Appendices for the entire book follow this unit.
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