Monday, March 26, 2012

Wanting and Spiritual Materialism: How Not To Feed The Greed

Wanting and Spiritual Materialism


Over the last couple of weeks, I received a variety of emails from people who read my recent blog entries on Tantra. Some were delighted to have greater clarity on the subject, feeling inspired by the idea of the body as a vehicle for the divine and an opportunity to practice witnessing pitfalls along the path. Others felt confused and upset at the idea that Tantra is not a sexual free-for-all. This pushed the button of their attachment to their libido. Everything that pushes our buttons gives us an opportunity to see ourselves in a new way. Aspects of our shadows are being highlighted for us to see, showing us ways in which we are attached to unfulfilled desires that may be outdated or may need voicing.


We all have unfulfilled desires. Many spiritual environments become a feeding ground for these, where practitioners may be wearing flowing clothes and chanting prayers, but feeling inwardly tied in knots. Wanting is insidious and we must be aware of it - whether we are in the office, following our creative voice, practicing bendy poses on our yoga mats, or exploring sexuality in our bedrooms.


We want. We want more. We get. But it is not enough. So we want more. In a perpetual cycle of wanting, we consciously and unconsciously feed into a human tendency for greed. We feel it is our right to get, so we want. Unaware of how it all started or what makes it continue, we seek external things to temporarily quell the hungry lizards in our bellies and brains, until yet again, we want more.


Most of us are unaware that we spend much of the time in a state of wanting, because it is a deeply unconscious part of how we operate. Part of the process of enlightenment seems to be shedding light into areas that are in shadow. Seeing aspects of ourselves that are disconnected can be an uncomfortable process, especially if we feel we have things figured out, we want things to be a certain way, or we are simply attached to wanting.


Greed is everywhere. It is easy to see greed present in our consumer world. As spiritual aspirants, we are also asked to witness the tendency for greed in our spiritual pursuits, wanting to be yogis, wanting to find liberation. Fueled by good intentions, our wants don’t end up supporting our evolution, but instead perpetuate a feeling of being disconnected from the perfection of the now. If you have not yet read “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” by Shambhala founder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, it is a classic book on the shadow of the spiritual path, a practical guide for seekers of truth.


Though I am not a practicing Christian, I was raised in a Christian home and go to church on high holidays; and the Bible is among the spiritual texts that feed my inner life. To me, the famous Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” speaks of the way we return to wholeness when we turn our hearts to the divine. Wanting ceases. We feel fulfilled in the moment because we are, in truth, in a unified state with pure consciousness, rather than temporarily believing that we are lost, divided and alone.


The ego is a tricky and hungry thing that has power only when we feed it. But sometimes – even often - we are unaware we are doing so. Just as a chameleon can change colour to blend with its surrounding, so too our ego can shift and fool us to suit our desires. We may think we are evolving when in fact we are unconsciously justifying our self-serving ego.


Our feeling of being disconnected is at the root of our suffering. Wanting feeds our feeling of being disconnected and incomplete. We want, because we feel lack. We wanted a perfect mommy or daddy to make us feel special when we were children, and we still seek that mommy or daddy in our material acquisitions, in our spiritual pursuits, in our friends and life partners.




Take a look this week at how wanting is present in your life. I have spoken much of practicing non-resistance to what is in past blogs. Wanting is the exact opposite of non-resistance. When we want, we are either pushing the flow or resisting it. We are in a state of disconnect, feeling lack and wanting more. There is nothing wrong with the desire for fulfillment, when it comes from a relaxed place of joy. When it comes from lack, we are trying to fill ourselves up from a place that does not believe we can be fulfilled, so the cycle continues.


It is natural to desire a nice job, car, home, or loving partner. But when we feel that we are not OK without them, then those things possess us, hold us in some way. They become temporary gap fillers and will not bring us the lasting happiness we truly seek. The desire for them will bring about not joy, but suffering.


Look for wanting in your life. Begin to notice it at work, at home, with your friends, with family and spouse. Notice it also in your sex life (or absence of one). Wanting has a heyday in the land of the libido. Next week, I will take a look at the power of sex and where sexuality and spirituality meet.


Until next Sunday, be well.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parvati Magazine April 2012 is Live

Dear friends,

The latest issue of Parvati Magazine is live. This April issue is all about spring cleansing and getting rid of excess. You will find articles that are geared to inspire you to feel light in body, mind and spirit and be active stewards of our beautiful planet.

We are pleased to feature in this, our quarterly double issue, our special guests: environmental activist Emily Chartrand, Aymeric Maudous, founder of the Arcadia International Environmental Film Festival, and music industry mogul Tom Silverman and his groundbreaking New Music Seminar.

I will return next week with more blog entries. Until then, enjoy!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 4: Funky Sex and Multiple Orgasms

(Continued from The Catch: Tantra’s Sex Appeal and the Need for a Guru)


A branch of Tantrics, known as the Left Hand Path, supported, encouraged and condoned the use of sexual rituals as a means to cultivate spiritual enlightenment, whereas the majority of Tantrics, known as the Right Hand Path, frowned upon such, casting out the beliefs of the other group as erroneous, even dangerous. The Right Hand Path instead promoted celibacy as a means to mastery over desire and wanting, in order to merge with the Divine while in form.


Saying Tantra is about sex is like saying that Muslims are about terrorism. Nothing could be further than the truth. The vast majority of Muslims are a faith-loving, good people who promote wise and compassionate action. An extreme sect promotes the use of terrorism. The same could be said for Christianity and Buddhism and other world religions, where small sects seem to paint a general picture over the tendency of that belief system. Perhaps because we lack cultural and spiritual maturity as a people, we allow the flavour of one grape to affect the entire batch of wine.


I have always had a natural connection to the unseen realms, ever since I was a child. As such, my yoga and meditation practices and studies naturally and organically flowered into a relationship with the realm of the energetic. Fueled by the desire to understand what was naturally occurring within me in my yoga practice, I uncovered references in the Tantric texts to contextualize what I intuitively knew and what I was physically and energetically experiencing.


It has been in some sense a personal interest of mine to support a deeper understanding of Tantra through my musical works and performances, and through my yoga teaching method called YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine. YEM naturally finds home in the Tantric traditions, since this Hatha Yoga practice emphasizes the alchemical power of breath and its relationship to the flow of life-force energy throughout body/being in order to create a body/being that consciously co-creates with the divine.


So I say to the New York Times article, “Come on! Really?” Surely we have evolved into a people that can hold the notion of potential paradox so that that a few does not colour the whole. A few Tantrics were keen on sexual rituals, whereas the majority stressed the rituals’ deviance from the spiritual path and warned of their self-deluding tendencies. But I guess if we elect presidents and leaders who are overly ready to press the button on war with alarming reactivity to fight terrorism, we must not be quite ready to see that a few does not make the whole. We may need more time to mature.


Until then, Tantra will be seen as being about funky sex and multiple orgasms, Hatha Yoga will come from a sex cult and yoga studios will be full of those who seek beautiful bums instead of spiritual alchemy. I used to own a yoga studio in Montreal, then one in Toronto. But my music career become too demanding so instead I offer YEM workshops as I tour my music and shows. I used to also teach Tantric workshops, but tired of having to continually explain that Tantra was not about orgies and how to master blissful sexual climaxes. Thanks to John Friend and the recent sex scandals, here is another opportunity to help clarify the beautiful and powerful roots of Hatha Yoga and Tantra, illustrating what it is, and what it is not. Thank you, John.


I believe that sex has a place in the spiritual arena and by no means, though my personal practice lies most naturally in the Right Hand Tantric field, do I dismiss it. But just like Tantra and yoga are easily misunderstood, so too do I feel that the spiritual power of sex is largely misunderstood and misdirected. Sexual power is after all the very force that creates life! So what are we creating with it, beyond new babies? Whatever consciousness we bring to sexual acts will be amplified through it. But this is for the topic of another blog.


Until next time, practice fierce discernment and courageously follow your deepest joy.

Jai Ma,



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 3: The Catch: Tantra's Sex Appeal and The Need For A Guru

(Continued from Hatha Yoga, Sex Rituals and Tantra’s Shadow)


“Wow,” you may be thinking. “A spiritual path where sex is seen as a path to the divine! Sign me up!” But here’s the catch. Firstly, Tantra as a whole does not support the actual practice of sexual rituals. Only one offshoot branch of Tantra does, and that is a branch not generally condoned as a viable path by Tantrism as a whole due to its inherent spiritual dangers. These dangers are part of the second catch.


Secondly, when a spiritual aspirant begins to look at matter and the body as vehicles for spiritual evolution and personal transformation, he begins to walk the razor’s edge journey to spiritual enlightenment. He must learn to discern between the ego’s tricky wanting and expansive evolution. He must learn to balance the relationship between Nature’s involutionary tendency, that is, the rootedness of being in form, and the evolutionary cosmic play as it unfolds spiritually.


A Tantric aspirant can easily either become overly mired in the pleasures of the physical and lose spiritual expansion, or he can become overly lofty, detached and ungrounded by the spiritual and lose the presence of the physical. Like a gracious balancing act, the Tantric yogi walks an extremely potent path that is both delicate and dangerous.


I agree with Georg Feuerstein who stresses the need for Tantric aspirants to find the guidance of realized masters. I could not list the number of people I have seen over the years in my teaching and healing work – beginner and advanced practitioners, even teachers - who feel they have found their path through Tantra, yet seem lost. Without a guru while on the Tantric path, one runs the risk of losing the plot altogether and sinking into the mire of seductive wanting.


I have met many people in the yogic world who expound wise teachings, but vibrate with constrictive and involutionary energies. Void of humility, openness, honesty and pure spiritual shakti, people can easily become trapped in the Tantric path. One must remember that a fully realized master is one who loves all beings equally and sees all beings equally. This is not the case in most leaders and teachers.


The ego is a tricky and hungry thing that has power only when we feed it. But sometimes – even often - we are unaware we are doing so. Just as a reptilian chameleon can change colour to blend with its surrounding, so too our ego can shift and fool us to suit our desires. We may think we are evolving when in fact we are unconsciously justifying our self-serving ego.


The ego can even quietly adjust to fool us, so that we think we are growing when we are actually becoming more attached. It can even feign enlightenment. A spiritual aspirant must be careful of this. Only when we have surrendered to the guidance of a fully realized master can we overcome this.


(Continues tomorrow with Funky Sex and Multiple Orgasms)



Monday, March 12, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 2: Hatha Yoga, Sex Rituals and Tantra's Shadow

(Continued from Hatha and Tantra Yoga)


I love the descriptions of Tantra by the widely respected yogic scholar Georg Feuerstein who penned one of my favorite books, “Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy”. For those of you who have seen me perform my song “Yoga In the Nightclub” in my current show “Natamba” (and if you have not yet, please come out!) you know that I use elements of the following quote from Dr. Feuerstein in my extended version of the house music track:


“What Tantric masters aspired to was to create a transubstantiated body, which they called adamantine (vajra) or divine (daiva) – a body not made of flesh but of immortal substance, of Light. Instead of regarding the body as a meat tube doomed to fall prey to sickness and death, they viewed it as a dwelling-place of the Divine and as the caldron for accomplishing spiritual perfection. For them, enlightenment was a whole body event.”

As such, the body is more akin to place of alchemy, a caldron to transform the base metals of crude desires into the gold of spiritual perfection. Tantra was not an endorsement of bestiality and debauchery, but a highly ritualized practice that keenly witnessed the nature of desire and a fiercely confronted it at its root in order to use its powerful charge to fuel the fires of inner transformation. Tantra was not about freely doing what one spontaneously desired, but about developing razor-sharp insight in order to understand the impulses that arose through the body and learning acute discernment as to what those impulses fed. Enlightenment for Tantric practitioners is not an intellectual thing, nor something that is beyond form, but a full body experience.


The Yoga Bija celebrates the power that the physical body can provide a spiritual aspirant:


“The fire of Yoga gradually bakes the body composed of the seven constituents [such as bone, marrow, blood, etc…]. Even the deities cannot acquire the exceedingly powerful yogic body. The [yogin’s] body is like the ether, even purer than the ether.”


The obvious shadow to a practice that embraces the physical as a means to enlightenment, and why Tantra is considered the razor’s edge of the razor’s edge, and by far not for most spiritual practitioners, is that aspirants can easily fall prey to the subtlety of greed, the tricks of desire and the illusions of wanting. Just as modern bodybuilders can become overly attached to their physical form, so too can those who use their body as a vehicle for spiritual transformation start to think that their body and themselves are the divine. We see this often in Hatha Yoga, where the goal of the practice seems not to be the release of attachments to desire, but the cultivation of the best yoga butt in Lululemon pants.


It is also easy, I guess, for newspaper reporters to let their imaginations get carried away with the idea of sexuality being integrated into spiritual practice, while forgetting to dig a little deeper to find that in fact only a small sect of Tantric practitioners actually used the physical practice of sexuality in their spiritual pursuits. On the issue of sexual practice, Tantrism split into the Left Hand Path, a group that practiced ritual sex, and the Right Hand Path, a group that understood sexuality more symbolically than physically enacted.


The development of Hatha Yoga as part of Tantrism was developed to help support the body’s potential so it could meet the challenges of, and change in concurrence with, spiritual transformation. Spiritual bliss is seen not as a purely mental state, but something that involves the whole body/being. The Hatha Yogi therefore cultivates a body of light that is both metaphorically and actually baked in the heat of transformation, and ultimately freed of all notions of separation and desire.


As a warning to this shadow of attachments to the body and desire, and an admonition that body-practice alone is not the goal of yoga, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, considered the most popular manual for this path, clearly states: “All means of Hatha [Yoga] are for [reaching] perfection in Raja-Yoga. A person rooted in Raja-Yoga [truly] conquers death.” (IV.102)


Even the purified body of the Hatha Yogis is subject to the laws of nature and will eventually pass. If one is a true yogi, one must be rooted in Raja Yoga, that is, yoga that brings aspirants to the goal of full realization, seeing Hatha Yoga as a part of such, but not an end goal in itself.


(Continued tomorrow with The Catch: Tantra’s Sex Appeal and the Need for a Guru)


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 1: Hatha and Tantra Yoga

“Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.”


Before reading the above comment by William J. Broad in a recent New York Times article, I thought of the Times as a resourceful newspaper with trustworthy articles that were well researched. That quickly changed, and I reminded myself that reporters are mere mortals who do make mistakes.


I wrote about Tantra in a previous blog entry, as it is a long-standing interest and integrated part of my life. I felt called to share a bit more on the topic in response to the article linked above.


Quantum physics tells us that the “I” we hold onto so dearly is just an illusion. It tells us that in reality, everything is interconnected, not separate as we perceive it to be. It says that our life is more like a creative projection than hard, factual truth.


These thoughts are not the propriety of modern science, but are at the root of mystical traditions world wide, and at the heart of Tantra, a spiritual tradition that, not unlike its offshoot Hatha Yoga, is greatly misunderstood today.


Tantrism, which made its appearance around the middle of the first millennium AD, pioneered the view, that quantum physicists now support, that the body is not the source of defilement, nor the enemy of spirit, as some ancient religions preach, but part of a continual flow of consciousness.


As with many Sanskrit words, there are various meanings of the word Tantra. Some understand it to mean “to weave”, though more commonly, it is understood as derived from the word “tan” meaning to extend or to stretch. As such, Tantra is generally interpreted as “that which extends understanding” (“tanyate vistaryate jnananam anena”, Buddhist Guhya-Samaja-Tantra), promoting a continuum of reality.


This is also seen in Mahayana Buddhism’s famous Tantric phrase “samsara equals nirvana”, which means, the temporal world of phenomenon is equal to the transcendental state of being-consciousness-bliss. Enlightenment is not then about leaving the world or suppressing natural impulses, but an interconnection of a lower reality contained within a higher reality and a higher reality guiding and transforming the lower.


Tantra then is about the integration of the temporal self with the eternal Self. This is done through powerful spiritual practices and rituals that purify the body/being so yogis may experience oneness with the divine. Hence, the flowering of Hatha Yoga, a practice designed to purify the subtle channels within the body/being so that the divine may freely express itself through us.


Just as Siva, the Nata-Raja (Lord of the Dance) who is eternally dancing the universal rhythms, is the master weaver of time and space, Tantrics see life as an interweaving of spirit and matter as one continuum, not a collection of separate pieces of form that are set apart from the divine. Matter and the Divine are one. This viewpoint was quite unlike a popular point of view at the time of the birth of Tantra that saw the body in direct opposition to spiritual goals.


The Kularnava-Tantra, an important Hindu Tantric text, highlights the importance of the body:


“Without the body, how can the [highest] human goal be reached? Therefore, having acquired a bodily abode, one should perform meritorious actions. (I.18)

Among the 840,000 types of embodied beings, the knowledge of Reality cannot be acquired except through a human [body]. (I.14)”


(Continued tomorrow with Hatha Yoga, Sex Rituals and Tantra’s Shadow)


Monday, March 5, 2012

Yoga Scandals, Light Chasers and Shadow Boxers - Part 2: The Light of the Satguru

(Continued from Duality and Denial)

The ancient Sanskrit word "guru" comes from two root words "gu" (darkness) and "ru" (removal of such). The classical Hindu text called the Guru Gita refers to the meaning of the word "guru" as being the one who leads us from the darkness of ignorance to the true light of pure consciousness. How easy it is for our limited ego-mind to project a wish for such liberation upon a human being who is not fully realized, and as such, cannot support our spiritual journey through its perils and promises. Because of our projections, we end up disappointed, feeling misled, coming to believe that the word "guru" refers to one who abuses power or behaves scandalously.


A Satguru, however ("sat" in Sanskrit meaning true), refers to a fully awakened master. The Guru Gita says that a true guru is one who is neither bound by his senses nor limited by form, as "gu" refers to "beyond the qualities" and "ru" to "devoid of form". Anyone who truly seeks true guidance on the spiritual path must be sure that the person in whom they place their trust in is indeed a fully awakened master. We are taught through sacred texts that those who are fully realized are those who love all beings equally and see all beings equally. In the case of the vast majority of us, we easily fall short of those very crucial qualifications. These qualities are indeed very rare.


Though I would love to see fully realized masters fill up every football stadium across the globe, those beings are not drawn to the limelight for its own sake, but quietly live their lives in humble service to humanity wherever they may be and in whatever way they may best serve. Crowds may draw, but that is not their motive. I am so grateful to realized masters like Amma and the Dalai Lama who do happen to draw very large crowds, and are also willing to give private audience to their devotees. Luckily, as well, we live in an age where football stadiums are filled with conscious bands like U2, who are able to awaken the notion of possibility, hope, social responsibility and love in audience members so that they may taste the ambrosia of eternal spiritual truths that exist beyond temporal luminosity. That is certainly why, as a dedicated yoga teacher and musician, I create music, tour and perform to share the joy of being alive.


We must ask ourselves, if a realized master were to shine his or her full, radiant light, would we find it too bright? The light of a realized master is not one that eclipses our shadow, but that sheds light onto the totality of who we are, so that we must learn to embrace our entire being, including our darker, uncomfortable and painful places. Can you imagine being invited to a football stadium not for a shiny, entertaining pastime, but to be in the light of truth so that we may integrate our shadow? Ticket sales would be abysmal. We want to believe in our sugar-coated superstars so that our pain, for a moment, falls away.


If we are true aspiring yogis, we will see ourselves in the journalists who cannot allow themselves to believe in the eternal light because they are so attached to their pain. We too have that tendency, active or not. We can then have compassion for those who write cynical articles and put down light seekers because their cynicism is simply the other side of the light seeker's coin - both naive and in denial. The cynics have sunk into their shadows, while the light seekers levitate above theirs.


Though I am saddened by these reporters' cynicism and lack of understanding of yoga's exquisite beauty, I understand that we are, after all, in Kali Yuga, a time of profound ignorance and darkness. But in the face of this, I see opportunity. I hold in the light of my heart that those reporters and those who are the subject of scandals may believe in their own inner beauty and human potential, which clearly they have forgotten. The reporters have chosen to doubt their own light by dismissing the eternal light that can be shared even by flawed and finite teachers. The teachers may have bought into the sparkle of fool's gold while conveniently forgetting to notice the mud with which it came. It is easy to get stuck judging the shape and size of the window dressing, forgetting that what is essential is the wisdom that comes through the window.


Any good yoga teacher will know that they are not the doers, but a humble vehicle for an ancient, brilliant and wise-beyond-words message of love and interconnection that comes through them - but is not about them. The message of yoga is about a profound intelligence that exists within all things, through all things, all the time. It inspires hope and compassion as we meet the fullness of our lives with true courage - the good, the bad and the ugly… all of it. We all make mistakes. We are all flawed, finite beings. We are also infinite, divine beings of eternal light. As yogis, we need to stay within the apparent "union of opposites" in order to be true yogic aspirants, so that we may eventually embrace both the light and the dark and transcend duality to become "Yoga", that is, the eternal light of pure consciousness that is our true nature.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yoga Scandals, Light Chasers and Shadow Boxers - Part 1: Duality and Denial

Hello friends,


This week I feel the need to express some thoughts about recent press regarding scandals in the yoga community, in particular, regarding John Friend. The details of the scandals are not important to me, but the general reaction to them in the press more so. We are all flawed and beautiful as we walk this Earth together.


"Yoga and "scandal" seem to walk hand-in-hand these days. It's a "union of opposites" that's growing more comfortable with time." - Stewart Lawrence, Huffington Post


It saddens me to see a beautiful life art-form and science-of-life misunderstood and misinterpreted. But I guess that is what we humans tend to do. If we are a people that can crucify a holy man, we can also easily throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.


Scandals in the yoga scene are nothing new. We could cite here pages of stories depicted in ancient yogic texts such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana that illustrate the twisted acts of human folly while on a spiritual path. Yet the media, spearheaded by journalists that are clearly not impartial reporters doing thorough research, seems to proudly point fingers at seeming rot at the root of the sacred, while conveniently ignoring the fact that scandals are created by imperfect humans, not the eternal divine.


Human ignorance is as old as man. When we lift up humans to the realm of gods, they are bound to fall. We do it to our movie stars. We do it to our politicians. We do it to our spouses and friends. And we do it to our yoga teachers and leaders. If we make someone an angel, they will eventually become a devil. If we lift them up, the force of gravity will make sure that they will come back to Earth so that we make peace with shadows.


As the Nazarene once counselled, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." We all cast shadows. There is not one person on the planet whose darker side does not dot the Earth in some way under the light of the sun and the moon. The higher up we grow from the ground, the deeper the shadow we leave behind, the more humility we must have to embrace the dark, and the more likely our ego will try to go awry if left unchecked.


We live in a word of duality and opposites. We can see from nature, that what goes up also comes down; that if there is night, there is also day; hot counters cold; that which opens can also close; that which resists can also flow. Why then are people so surprised to find that those in the limelight have darker sides just as we do? Why do we hold such high hopes for people to only have light and be without dark?


It does not matter if a person promises eternal life, attests to be the best yogi ever or preaches the way of the holy. If they are not a fully realized master, they will cast a shadow. Whether or not they are in touch with it or in denial about it, it is there. And it is up to us to use our discernment to see only part of the picture, or look deeper to see more fully.


At our core, unless we are fully enlightened, we all are uncomfortable in some way with our shadow. There are parts of ourselves that we do not like, and certainly that we do not want others to see. When we are presented with the possibility that we may avoid doing the work in our own dirty basements by following a shiny leader on a path to the promised land without turmoil, we sign on the dotted line and project perfection on a limited individual in an imperfect world. We are bound to be disappointed. Disillusionment is just the collapse of illusions that we needed to humbly see beyond in order to evolve. Disillusionment is an act of Grace.


From an early age, our culture teaches us to believe in saints and saviours that will take away all our sins. We are persuaded that our sinfulness will be cured by another's super powers that will magically remove them, while we lie back and avoid our responsibility for our own evolution. Like yearning children, we hungrily want to believe that some mystical big mummy or daddy will dissolve our pain and do our uncomfortable work for us. But we are not little children living in lack, but adult children of the divine who are fully supported to do our very important inner work and take responsibility for the shadows that we - no one else - cast and leave behind us. Yet we distract ourselves from our pain as we look to others for escape. We amplify their light, so that it may, for a while, free us from the darkness we fear.


I do believe that there are real Buddhas on the planet, true realized masters who have fully integrated their own shadow and live in the oneness of absolute, eternal love. But the light of pure consciousness is not a conditional light like that of day and night. The light we cultivate to embody in the practice of yoga is not about luminosity to outshine the dark, but about the ultimate dissolve of the ego's need for duality into the eternal substratum that is the essential underpinning of all of creation. We are limited humans with limited words, so we call that substratum "light". How can a finite word in a dual world ever capture the perfection of such a force? That is where mystical poets like Rumi take the floor.


Continues tomorrow with "The Light of the Satguru"

Friday, March 2, 2012

Being in the Flow-ers - Check-in

Hello Friends,


I hope your week has gone well. I hope you have scheduled time to be in nature this week, and literally go smell the roses. Life goes by quickly, so let us cherish all we have.


As a point of inspiration on the flower theme, I offer you this. Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks eloquently of “flower watering”, how we have seeds within us, and it is up to us which ones we will water. We can water the seeds of hatred, anger and revenge, or we can water the seeds of love, compassion and joy. It is up to us how we tend to our inner garden.


“Flower Watering is a chance to share our appreciation for the other person. We may mention specific instances that the other person said or did something that we had admired. This is an opportunity to shine light on the other’s strengths and contributions to the Sangha and to encourage the growth of his or her positive qualities.


Recognizing others positive traits allows us to see our own good qualities as well. Along with these good traits, we each have areas of weakness, such as talking out of our anger or being caught in our misperceptions.


When we practice “flower watering” we support the development of good qualities in each other and at the same time we help to weaken the difficulties in the other person.


As in a garden, when we “water the flowers” of loving kindness and compassion in each other, we also take energy away from the weeds of anger, jealousy and misperception.


-- Thich Nhat Hanh