This year’s Winter Immersion on Maui will be focusing on the 11th century text called the Pratyabhijñā-hṛdayam. The title means the heart of recognition and it is one of the greatest texts of the tantric trika tradition.
Written by Kṣhemarāja, a student of Abhinavagupta, this scripture focuses on the direct insight of our own divinity — of awareness becoming aware of awareness. What’s especially powerful is that the entire discussion is in the form of a dialogue with the Goddess Śakti, suggesting that She is the supreme power.
The text discusses being absorbed into, or pervaded by, Pure Consciousness, and that there is never a separation between the power that pervades us and the power we use to offer ourselves into that absorption.
One of the key sections is Chapter 18, which talks specifically about the liberation of kuṇḍalinī, that supreme power within each of us. During the two weeks of the program, I will be giving a series of meditations which open...
The 12th century Kirana Tantra that tells us that knowledge of the Self arises through the relationship with a teacher, study of wisdom teachings, and direct recognition. Most, if not all nondual tantric practices and traditions contain the same message, which is understood as the triadic axis of knowing.
All spiritual growth happens because of grace. The Sanskrit term is anugraha — and although it means grace, it is often translated as the unfolding of awareness to reveal its innate nature. When the pure, innate Consciousness that is the Source of all life begins to reveal Itself to us, it causes us to long for the knowledge of that very Source. Through our sādhana, we discover that our lives are like that of a little stream that flows into an ocean, which, as in the image, seemingly has no boundary between itself and the sky.
This graphic shows the triadic relationship with a teacher on top, and study of wisdom and direct experience on the sides. But you can flip it any...
We often find ourselves in a constant state of doing. We rush to act, and each deed binds us to our limited self-identity and to the act’s consequences — a cycle that keeps repeating itself. Stuck in this loop, we forget to ask, “Who am I?” We also may forget that we can make contact with the space between being and doing where we can simply be.
Having a spiritual life means choosing to live in this still point between the life of being and the life of doing — a place in which being and acting happen simultaneously without colliding or causing a ripple in the other. In Tantric Śaivism, this is called “dynamic stillness,” and within that is spanda, the subtle pulsation of the breath of God. Spanda is the almost imperceptible movement of Consciousness into form. You can also think of it as śakti (energy) expressing itself as the pulsation of pure Consciousness.
Picture a lava lamp — a transparent rectangular plexiglass box filled with...
We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments from the Bible. I was recently inspired, while supporting a student, to outline a different set of commandments — a list of “thou-shalt-not’s” — to serve as guidelines for how to help free ourselves of misunderstanding and limited identity. Each “commandment” is actually just a suggestion, because, ultimately, all a teacher can do is offer advice!
The Ten Commandments (Okay, Suggestions)
The fundamental issue I have witnessed in my fifty years of teaching is that people don’t truly believe it is possible to be free. I teach that we are not our minds or our emotions, and that we can live outside of our egos and the perpetual sense of need. But more often than not, students cannot believe this is a real possibility in their own lives. This fundamental disbelief prevents us from discovering the place in us that is free from the mental and emotional fluctuations inherent in limited consciousness.
Consider the image of Viśvarūpa, the Divine Puruṣa. Puruṣa is the individuated expression of the Divine, and the most succinct expression of kuṇḍalinī. The higher states of awareness are depicted in the image, but all dimensions of Consciousness exist within the Divine Puruṣa — from Pure Consciousness, to pure disbelief.
Although Puruṣa includes all levels of individuation, including our minds and emotions, we can choose where to place our attention. Emotions are...
A key element of practice is learning to tune into the psychic body with awareness, not the mind. —Ācārya Amrita Devi.
Our practice of Kuṇḍalinī Sādhana fuels that inner vital force so that it can rise through the central channel and connect back to its ever-present Source, the Heart of Consciousness. God created us out of the absolute abundance and joy of His very being, and it is through opening our heart and directing our energy into the central channel (the suṣumṇa) that we contact that fullness. Kuṇḍalinī is the essence of our heart, and it connects us back to God’s Heart.
When we tune in to the psychic body, we are using our awareness, our capacity to feel, to reach into a deeper part of ourselves. The mind can never find the openness of consciousness from which to connect to the central channel. We must therefore learn to feel our heart and the energy of openness, and then use that to move past our body, breath, tensions, contractions, and resistance.
If we use a...
By its capacity to create in a state of absolute freedom, Love is an observable power. Love is its own proof, requiring no other.
Parts 1 and 2 of this blog have focused on the role of devotion and gratitude in spiritual life. In the context of that discussion, let’s consider why love is the third important aspect of our sādhana.
Love is a vital ingredient in what we might call “the cocktail of heart enzymes,” which digests all tensions, patterns, contraction, and most importantly, all resistance to being freed. This mix of devotion, gratitude, and love comprises the nectar within the heart, and its rasa is bliss. However, like when creating cocktails, if you add only one or two of the ingredients, the result is not the drink you are looking for. The flavor and effect changes.
We each need to discover that unwavering devotion, unshakable gratitude, and unconditional love. When we can combine those in our own heart, it dissolves all...
The millions of stars in the cosmos do not equal the number of reasons we create to not do our sādhana.
In Part 1 of this blog series I discussed several aspects of devotion. One of the key understandings is that devotion is not a gooey sentiment but a conscious response to grace; it is the recognition of the incredible gift from God that has set us on the path to knowing our highest Self.
Engaging in sādhana is our response to grace. If sādhana is the vehicle in which we drive to follow that light, then devotion is like the chassis of the car. Devotion must be an unwavering commitment to doing our practice — to digesting our tensions and freeing ourselves from our own contracted mind, every time those things show up. And those things are going to show up regularly!
Freedom is flowering within us because of grace, and it will bring to the surface every barrier and misunderstanding to the very freedom that grace is calling forth. So our devotion must include the...
The revealing of higher consciousness is the flowering and maturity of my years and tears of devotion to God. — Acharya Nityani Devi
In all discussions of sādhana, it’s easy to interpret a statement from either a dualistic or non-dualistic point of view, when, in fact, duality exists within unity. This applies to the topic of devotion to God, as it may appear that we’re devoted to something other, when that’s not the case from a nondual perspective.
We can look at it this way: The relationship between devotion and Oneness is the living experience of immersion into God’s heart. God can be both the sole reality of undivided Consciousness as well as the object of our devotion and longing, and these are not contradictory. God is our essential nature. Any apparent duality dissolves when we recognize that immersion in Oneness is achieved by intense love and bhakti (devotion) — and while the dynamic pulsation between the two experiences contains many...
The wave is simply the energy of the ocean, the power that displays itself as the ocean breathes and pulsates. The ocean, the wave, and every distinct drop of water are the same. Yet we think of our individual existence as being like a drop of water that is separate and different from the ocean. We perceive duality where none exists. —Swami Khecaranatha
The purpose of our sādhana, and the very purpose of life, is to know pure Consciousness as our Self — to have the permanent experience that we are not separate from our divine Source. Nondual tradition describes this profound transformation as one of being absorbed by our Creator. Nondual means there is only one: that everything is happening on the field of a single Consciousness, and while we are like a drop in the ocean, we are not different from that ocean.
This view (darśana) of nondual tradition is a singular message that so deeply resonates in us that it impels us to know that truth as our own, not just something...