False Craving

The theme of love and relating is never far from the surface these days – whether it is the established love of my family and my relationships to old friends, or finding love in difficult situations and relating to those that are polarised in their opinions and emotions to me. This theme is at the heart of my life and I get to practice daily!  Just a couple of days ago – I deliberately went to see a man who had mattered greatly (albeit briefly) and then randomly bumped into the man who shared the most important intimate relationship of my life – this was the man I was going to marry.  While these two men are different and the story in terms of duration and structure differ greatly, there is a similarity and familiarity between them that my karmic body instantly recognises.  A sense of difficulty, intensity and ultimate impossibility…

That same day I received some results about my health which was totally unexpected, shocking and got me thinking…

I was advised that I have HYPOglycaemia which basically means that my body doesn’t absorb the sugar I eat which can be the cause of and lead to some major problems.  This is surprising given the amount of sugar I eat within my diet – I LOVE SUGAR!  I know it is killing me – yet…

7-ElevenSlurpee

 

And there was the thread – that beautiful sutra of consideration where the inner and outer meet.  Where paradox is formed and explored and wisdom is found in the essence of polarities.

Perhaps my consumption of sugar is the fill and fuel that my body needs to survive at this time given it is seeking balance and ultimate health in illhealth.  Without sugar my mind and body wouldn’t function and so I bomb my system to look normal even though I look anything but normal when eating that much sugar!  And perhaps these loves of mine were not healthy for me but exactly what I needed at the time?

As I move towards health in my body and reveal the cause for this inability to absorb sweetness – I look to the loves that I have loved and the unfulfilled cravings of these unions.  The feelings I experienced of dehydrated sweetness, absence of whole nutrition and filling my superficial need to get charged while internally I was starving and hiding a deep sickness.

I met a man some time ago and become deeply attracted to him though am distant, unsure and fearful of him.  He is so very different to what I have known. He is like the Sun itself – full of light, laughter, love, joy, innocence, sweetness, goodness, generosity, beauty along with deep dedication and strength…. I want to take care of him, for him to know how beautiful he is, protect him and ensure that he reaches his full potential.  My care for him has very little to do with me and everything to do with appreciating and supporting him to reach his highest goals…and they are lofty!

My therapist asked me about this and I will often be speechless in trying to articulate the subtle movements he evokes within me.  My therapist also asked if I should just explore this energy personally (without him initially) through masturbation and I explained that I had tried – but it just felt empty.  Not enough and not what this was about…. My heart loves this person and while my body may follow – for the first time, it has no interest in leading the charge.  This is not about sex but about intimacy, connection and care.

Very different indeed.

Light

 

Perhaps as I expose illness and explore wellness, everything is changing.  The things that used to serve to sustain me all the while deeply destroying me, will be replaced by a quiet, simple and integrated wellness that doesn’t need much of anything…except sunshine!

Dirty Filthy Love

So this Yogic path is never boring, forever challenging and deeply revealing about who we are and what we have to work with.  At times I feel like I make progress but really, these are just inspirations to keep me doing the daily hard work of finding and revealing myself.

For some reason – for which I can’t explain other than, to use the term GRACE – when I am in India, for the first time in my life I make sense.  All the things that are so awkward, difficult and abrasive within my nature seem to find a fluid and beneficial expression which leads to me having a much kinder view and experience of myself.

There are many branches of Yoga and within our tradition – SATYANANDA YOGA – it is an integrated approach which means that through the course of the day we practice karma, raja, hatha, jnana and bhakti yogas along with unpinned Tantric rituals and practices which include Yantra, Mantra & Mandala.  Ultimately the aim is to liberate our energy and expand our consciousness on all levels of our being/nature which we do by applying these practices…it is slow and often difficult work but the results can be profound and lasting.

Love

The issue of Love and Relationships have never been far from my experience and when I was in a more basic state – these expressions came in the form of sexual exploration and so I equated love and relationship mostly with my exchanges in sex.  The blessing of being celibate is that the fundamental need I have to explore Love and Relationships in this life (a very strong astrological aspect for me) has to be redirected and find another ‘playground’ for this work to be carried out, refined and hopefully one day offer full articulation of what this means.

Love now comes in the form not of a person but of lessons and experiences which allow me to feel so much love for myself which can then flow out to other people – as there is no fear or need of another.  This can be explained through an experience I had while in the ashram recently where I was asked to clean a bathroom on my day off.  To put things into context – during the Yajna season in India there are no days off, no ‘me’ time or hours of work.  You work until you sleep and then you continue again.  It has been said that day and night don’t matter and there is no such thing as a weekend.  We just work which I usually LOVE.  However after a few months of solid intense work and exhaustion slowly seeping into my tissues, the offer of a day off came as a blessing for all.  I washed, cleaned, preened, sang, danced, practised and slowed right down – it was delicious.   Strangely though, with that extra time, I started obsessing about a boy (however this is not your regular kind of boy)…I can’t seem to help myself!  And when this spiral began to deepen just after lunch, I was called into work.

Not just any work – I was to scrub a bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned for years from top to bottom with acid – ALONE.  A regular clean was never going to show progress in a room like this.  It was caked on filth.  The blue tiles had a brown film half way up the walls, which even the acid wasn’t removing.  So there I was on my day off – grumbling about how everyone else is relaxing and I have to clean shit (which I had now been doing happily for 2 months).  Slowly my irritation at working gave way to a desire to see blue behind the brown and just when I thought I was eroding the last of the caked on, stubborn and clinging crap – it refused to reveal the beauty beneath.  It refused to budge even with the strongest of acids…

Bathroom

And then I saw.

This is me – this bathroom is my insides and I have a wonderful Guru who accepted someone with so much baggage, crap and stubborn, unrelenting intention to hold onto my suffering even while he does everything he can to help me release it.  He can see the blue tiles, he gives me practices (acid) to help me remove them from my inner life but there is a part of me that clings to the crap.  That doesn’t want to let go or release my suffering and so there I am…  and I weep.

For both of us – that he ended up with someone like me when he deserve someone so much more capable, willing and generous to share his knowledge with and for my own brokenness and awareness that I am the obstacle which I can’t seem to cut through even with dedicated and committed practise.

And so I remain shitty!

At the same time – the ashram provides a field of immense love.  I was able to feel a different quality of love, relating and a fluid, gentle yet powerful exchange between the entities within this space.  I was supported to feel such love that at one point I dissolved into that love for some days.  The space between one and another was pointless and there was only love, connection and desire to support all.  I experienced as a result of this, a desire to surrender and serve that principle, that element of love and I was supported in doing so.  Each action was blessed, knowledge came easily and gifts abound each and every day in such a state.

I come back to Australia on a high which led to my fall.

I have spent my whole life feeling hopeless, useless, flawed and damaged which naturally demands one be inherently humble however when I started feeling good about myself, loved, seen, supported and encouraged – with that came arrogance which I didn’t initially see or understand…until it got out of hand.

Having worked with my therapist in the Transactional Analysis PAC framework – I noticed that I was strongly in my Parent.  This is a state of critical, judgemental and condescending righteousness…I was neck deep and blindly consumed with this power.  If not actually telling people, I was mentally parenting every experience I was having. In all states, in all groups and in all areas I was this Parent and then I caught a wave of that long lost Indian Love and I felt adrift, far from home and heartbroken at how quickly such a blessing had been misused.  It was offered with one intention – a gift for me to grow and share yet I had twisted, deformed and misused it to ‘right the wrongs’ from my past.

Again there were tears…

I am in a phase of my growth/life where everything is about LOVE and RELATIONSHIPS and that doesn’t mean that this will involve sex (in fact I think it will be more useful if it doesn’t) but in this area of development – I am a spoilt brat, an ignorant child and fearful beast.  I am 41 years old and I don’t really know how to love or be in healthy relationships to others…without it being corrupted, polluted or sullied by my fears, past or ignorance. Let alone dealing with their stuff coming at me…

The only thing I have to offer is a filthy kind of love which is stubborn in its ugliness yet this is my practice.  I will go into that room, with my acid everyday and continue to see if I can clean away some of that grime until the purity which is inherent in my nature is revealed.  I continue to ask for Guru’s grace, blessings and light to help me on this journey home.

OM MANE PADME HUM

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/03/saturn-the-lord-of-karma-turns-retrograde-in-sagittarius-timing-is-everything/

Om Mane Padme Hum

Little OLD Me

So I realise that this post may well push some buttons, as many of mine have been pushed recently which prompted me to write a little something about my streams of thought around this aging process…

The one absolute truth that we will all die, seems so fundamentally denied and suppressed in favour of our attachment to our temporal identity, role and image in life.

Our secular culture and the aging process is very different when seen through the lens of a man or woman but overall for both sexes, it is not a peaceful or beautiful process.  When men age – it is seen one way, when women age is it seen another.  It is not just the outward perceptions that differ, but the inner shame, judgement and fear which arises from this natural and universal process, which I find astounding.

 

We often sexualualize young girls – girls who sometimes haven’t even reached puberty as idealised versions of womanhood while ignoring and condemning those women who dare grow old. Youth, in all its ignorant potential is worshipped over the ripe fruits of age which fell from the tree of wisdom without any notice.  I look around and I can no longer tell peoples ages and this is not because we are living ‘better’ lives but because we have ‘help’ in hiding.

Sadly this has overlapped on the very ancient and beautiful science of Yoga – which presents a frozen glossy image of perfection in the west.  Teachers are sponsored, supported and shot to ‘superstardom’ if they are able to secure the most impressive asana with frozen poise and faces.  I have heard one such teacher claim that Yoga is the cause for their flawless features and ‘great skin’ without a hint of gratitude given to their magic helper – Mr Costmetic Surgeon. Heaven forbid, if we were to allow ourselves to age naturally – it is like we have failed somehow.  Either through the narrative of not having enough money to ‘fix the problem’, not being spiritual enough to have obtained that eternal Siddhi or that we don’t look after ourselves and are unhealthy ….

Sadie 1

 

It worries me, that the very thing (Yoga) that is meant to help people find peace within themselves really is becoming only skin deep and amplifying the over identification with our temporal and disassociation with our essential selves.  These teachers/role models who resort to such methods of manipulation with no contrition seem deeply insecure about the deepest reality of humanity…

… that we are ALL aging and dying and that it is this very fact which is the doorway  leading onto a much bigger view of oneself and each other.  The Spiritual Nature – the Eternal Self.  If the teachers themselves can’t walk through that doorway – What can they possibly teach their students about such things?  To hide?  To fear? To cling to the unreal?

Thankfully the truth is that Yoga can slow the aging process (without any help from Mr Cosmetic Surgeon) but it will not stop it forever – this mortal coil was designed to only ever be temporal and will slowly unravel and unbind us to the tethers of this existence, freeing us back from where we came. This is the fact and gift of our journey – it is so short and each chapter could indeed be celebrated!

IMAGINE if we were to begin celebrating the changes – the grace in decay!

I know many older Swamis who are literally ageless – it is unclear how old they are, though they must be at least over 70 given their life stories and timeline of events.  This timelessness is not just their physical form of beautiful, luminous skin with few wrinkles but their jewel like eyes that glimmer and sparkle with kindness, wit and generosity, along with vital energies that are steady and peaceful and minds which are crystalline in multiple directions simultaneously – oh and that transformational wisdom that pulsates when in their presence!

This, to me, is ultimately what makes a person beautiful and thankfully within traditional yogic circles – age and its well earned treasures are highly respected, appreciated and supported.

 

I personally will not be self shamed or shamed by others by my aging shell but celebrate the fact that I am still alive to experience this rare process, which many don’t get a chance to or are too afraid to honestly explore.  I hope we can find a way to love ourselves a little more! As we really are – both within this present physical form but ultimately allowing this to be the signpost that it is, leading us to a much more beautiful and accurate reflection of who we are.

A SPIRIT EMBODIED

http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/03/16/artist-calls-out-facebook-censorship-of-empowering-images-of-aging-women/

http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/03/30/botoxasana-yoga-and-aging-the-conclusion/

The Sacrifice of Sannyasa – Part 2

The Execution of Sacrifice

My introduction yesterday to Tarapith was intense to say the least and as a result, when I came back after my day and tried to put myself to bed, it was just no use… there was no sleeping for me given the wedding reception and festivities that were taking place at the hotel (if you have never experienced an India Wedding – it is a must!) but more disturbing were the swelling undercurrents lapping my consciousness, spraying anxious mist all around my subtle system.

I was filled with a deep sense of powerful magic in the atmosphere of this place and I wasn’t sure it was all positive…I was scared.  I felt small, unready and ill-equipped to receive such powers should Ma bestow on me the requests I had ignorantly, arrogantly and out of pure egotistical naïve curiosity made in the past.  I knew now that I knew nothing – so now I just waited and prayed that I would be forgotten, unseen and ignored by the forces that I had previously sought or protected by those that knew I was nothing but a fool.

Aghori 1

As this knowledge dawned and I was left with the stark reality that if I didn’t want power, or magic or now even my own desires, which seemed stacked with short sightedness – then what did I want?  And it was with this question firmly and squarely in mind that exhaustion finally claimed my body and consciousness at 2am.

I woke at 5am to my alarm and began my Sadhana with the aim of going to morning puja at the temple but I fell asleep and re-awoke at 7.30am to really begin my day.

That mild feeling of fear, anxiety and uncertainty was still lingering and I was contemplating the wisdom in just skipping the magical maya of the temple today to stay at the hotel – read a book and keep it simple until I was due to leave that afternoon.  A part of me just wanted to stay cocooned in my ignorance, however I got an email asking that I give pranams to Ma from a most loved teacher and so I had to go!

I got myself ready with a prayer to receive and be – nothing … to be empty and witness only.  I didn’t want anything other than to love this fearsome mother of mine and be loved in return.  I plucked a wide open, beautiful, bountiful and generous flower (which was in stark contrast to how I was feeling but was hoping to invoke within me) which I have had a dream about in the past, and in the centre of this bloom placed a ring that has seen me through many chapters. I had intended to place a drop of my blood at the middle of the flower also but due to dehydration, my blood just wouldn’t flow.  It felt like my body refused to surrender its life force for my intentions.

IMG_6361

As I make my way to the temple, I notice a shift.  The sun is out, the mood all about it just lighter and softer.  I feel more like me again and comfortable within time and space.

I get to the temple and things move quickly – they flow.  I see the puja line but the gates are now closed.  I ask a pandit how I can offer puja to Ma and when the next session is but he walks me and my offering to the front of the line and there I got the full force of her darshan.  There is chaos, crowds, clamouring and cursing as I chant her mantras and offer my love and the pranams of my teacher, while all efforts are made at diversion and distraction from those surrounding her to keep things moving…and so I am finally squeezed out the side door into daylight and peaceful echos waft across my being of that past glorious moment.  It slowly settles into the cells like sun kissing my skin – and I know that I am loved.

I wonder where to go next – job done so to speak – when I see a rush of about 50 people moving to that strange area I saw yesterday with the variation of Shiva’s trishul but with only two forks…  I follow.  Shiva’s Trishul represents Creation, Preservation and Destruction and so I wonder about this motif/device having only two forks and its significance or purpose and instantly – I get the picture!

It was in the form of a Goat and this device was a Guillotine! This Goat was beautiful – a glossy dark coat covered a fully grown, healthy, vital male in his prime – really a sight of beauty and he looked happy enough at first.  He was bathed, fed, offered flowers/oblations and being sung mantras to but in an instant his instincts knew but as he tried to run he was now overpowered by that steely focused dominant humanity, and it sensed its demise.

This beautiful Alpha goat was picked up having his legs manually bound, screaming futile resistance – the sounds of a terrified animal using its voice as the only means to fight for its life, given its body was inhibited, is something I will never forget.  Oddly by now there were 4 small black kids (very young goats) now in the same area – bleating in confusion and fear at what was happening.  It seemed absolutely deconstructing to my mind – a form of terrorism for these kids, this goat and my human sensibilities to witness what was unfolding before me.  The goat was lifted up over the folks with his head one side and his body the other, as it continued to scream bloody ‘MURDER’, the man from behind pulled its legs/body which stretched its neck forcing the sounds of resistance to become thin and strained.  Its mouth was now closed shut in pain and finally, this beautiful purpose built hand crafted sword was swiftly and deftly descended through the body and the life of this offering.

Ma Sacrifice

sacrifice 1

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am quite tender and can’t stomach the suffering of other (particularly those ‘underdogs’), yet there I stood – frozen, silent and watching – not just the play of this sacrifice before my eyes but more interestingly, the expressions of my mind and body in connection to this experience.  I felt this goat – I felt it’s fear, the damage to it stretched vocal chords, the pranic release from its body and I was completely stilled by the experience.  The next thing I know, I am running after the pandit who has collected this goats blood so that he too can place it at my eyebrow centre…I become marked with this sacrifice and receive fully the life and death of experience.  Blood is now on MY head!

I don’t know if this was shock or acute observation, but I found myself sitting – starring – at this disembodied goat now lying lifeless.  I watched the last of its life leave through the eyes via rainbows and shades cast across its cornea which once absorbed life’s pictures, it was now only replaying its final screening.

The extinguishing of the Goats life brought me to such stillness that I was able to watch a flood of thoughts move through deep ravines of my mind – on the currents of questioning;

I wondered at the purpose of all this?  Does my beloved Ma really want this sort of activity offered in her name / in this way?  What is the symbolism of blood and why a goat?  Why were those kids made to witness this? If we are all dead anyway (according to the aghoris), should our sensibilities and conditioning just be gotten over and death/sacrifice should be celebrated? What is life & What is death? Who has the right to take life – we certainly can’t give it or save it often times?  If we can take an animals life, what is the difference were we to take a human life – do they not both suffer, desire to life and have a right to live…why can we as humans decide?  Why are we so immune to the suffering of others?  If God is in all beings, why did we just kill God for God? What would I like to offer Ma if not this?  What do I really want from her?  Who is she?  There is a myth that she also gave life to Shiva though her breast milk when he was dying from poison as an infant – so is there not the gentle, loving aspect of her nature which I can focus on and worship instead of the terrible?This path of tantra – the left or right and which side am I placed?  There is a deep cruelty to my nature along with a delicacy – what is that?

The symbolism of Tara standing on unconscious Shiva (Kali stands on him when he is dead) got me thinking about her followers.  Is her job to energise (Shakti) what is unconscious?  Is she attractive to those that are unconscious and deep in their dark, pashu (animal) instincts and nature? Or can the worship of Ma be done more symbolically?  Could I offer her the head of my ego for decapitation allowing the lifeforce (blood and prana) to flow freely in service to her for the journey across samsara rather than take a life which is not mine and cause suffering to it?

Ma aspects

After the torrential downpour of these thoughts subsided, I was able to walk home and decided to pay homage to the Madman Baba in the Smashan…to be an aghori is, now I understand, in a whole other spectrum of intensity and requires rigorous sacrifice of one’s own conditioned nature, very few are capable of.   It was a hive of activity today and at Baba’s temple, there is a male and female Aghori either side of the entrance like Rottweilers.  I offer dakshina in respect to his left-hand method while acknowledging that I am blessed to be walking the right-hand path.  There were more guillotines here, which I took a parikrama (encircling/circumventing) around, with a feeling of purnahuti (everything is one/whole & complete).  Shiva in the shape of a dog came barking over and stood beside me while I silenced.  When leaving the smashan and on my way out, the two Aghori ‘rottweilers’ came begging.  I offered them my hand and nothing more than a smile…we all laughed!

As I walked home, a migraine descended.  I was in an altered state of consciousness but one which is painful and isolating – not the one I had originally hoped for!  I am suffering due to resistance of what I have encountered – the ultimate sacrifice.  I don’t feel I have the right to take another’s life or offer anything other than myself to my maker and so the clarity of what is needed was seen.  I will place myself on the sacrificial altar surrendering the limbs of my desires, sufferings, hopes, fears, loves, roles and finally the head of my whole life, to the one who imagined me into existence.  What he does with this blood, prana, mind and whatever is left, is up to him, but he has it.  I don’t want to harm another, cause another’s suffering or resist who I am and what I am made of, instead I give all that I am back to the one who made me and hope that he can accept this offering and use it better than I ever did.

I anticipate at times there will be screams of pain, pleas for mercy and bestial resistance, but none the less the sacrifice will be made.  I have fear already before actually placing myself under the guillotines frame about the illusionary losses that I will have to surrender – a lover, a family, a ‘normal’ life, financial security, material stability, composed identity and the delicious escape of change on a whim – which I am so renowned for.  However this lower animal is now ready to liberate itself from mundane suffering toward divine ecstatic agonies.

I realise my spiritual family is in Saraswati Darshami and the right hand (dakshina marga) or Kaula  Tantra is my path, which is rich with vidya (knowledge), tapas (discipline) and rigorous Sadhana (practices), along with inspiring examples of devotees whose aims are based on liberation and expansion through love and light, not darkness and death.  With the grace of God and my parampara (linage of teachings and teachers) such as Swami Sivananda, my beloved Swami Satyananda,  Swami Niranjanananda, Swami Satyasangananda, I am sure I can harness my ferocity and faith to serve, love and give to all living beings.

Parampara

 

The Sacrifice of Sannyasa – Part 1

As I journey from one world to another, one aspect of myself to another and one life to another, there is an awareness of deep changes that have occurred.  A homecoming of sorts, an acceptance of my inner nature that for some time I have been resisting, fighting or running from due to the cost, sacrifice, implications and fear about the letting go, the how too’s and the correct way to do this new way of being ME.

While I would love to share some of the things that I experienced in the Ashram during my recent 2 month stay, I feel that this is actually a sacred place where what happens there is a very deep, intimately personal and a softly subtle experience that it defies language and defiles it somehow to even attempt to put into words or summarise such a sacred, vast and profound gift.

What I can say, is that I am at home in myself and with my beloved Guru now more than ever and long only to be of genuine and total service in this life.  There is a story of Radhe and Krishna (an Indian Goddesses and God) in which Radhe gets jealous of Krishna’s preoccupation and devotion to his flute / murali.  When she asks him why he loves his flute more than her, he says that the flute is empty and therefore can channel God.  When we are full or have content (desires, opinions, etc.) , then we obstruct the flow of divine grace that is our essential nature…and so I now desperately long only to be that empty vessel which can be played by the creator of creators who makes music from madness and beauty from bumbling fools!

Radha&Krishna

 

 

The foundations of Sacrifice

While I no longer wish to share the profound love experienced within the Ashram I would like to share what I learnt as I ventured out to the nearby temple of my Ishta Devata – Tara Ma known as Tarapith or Tarapeeth (depending on where you are from in India).  I undertook a very strong sadhana last time I left India (chanting her Bija Mantra – OM HRIM STRIM HUM PHAT – I Million times in 108 days…not recommended kids if you want to stay sane!) in the hope that she would awaken within my life and she did, in quite a powerful way.  So I wanted to go and say thanks!  To spend time in her home – her Shakti Peeth – which legend says is where her Third Eye (a powerful intuitive/wisdom centre) fell to earth.

I was there over two days but in some ways it felt like a lifetime in an ancient powerful parallel universe.  While I was there and totally present – I was somehow kind of in a suspended haze of protective observation…it was most peculiar and didn’t really recognise myself, my thoughts or my actions/ reactions.  I was suspended and thankfully so as it turned out.

I arrive on Ekadashi which is known to be a particularly challenging astrological period each month and so felt it fortuitous that I was spending the day in her seat.  I left bereft from the ashram – absolutely devastated to be leaving literally the love of my life and felt the comfort of Mother Nature as she mourned my loss with her bleak, wet and dense mood.

The ride was beautiful but treacherous as the sky and near vision was cloaked with Shivas foggy lila.  Each revelation was a scene of expression from his imagination that would magnetize misty particles into matter and form for a moment before splitting like atoms into that eternal space of dissolution.

I arrive at this village and as cautioned before leaving the ashram by a fellow yogi, this is an Indian town – not a place where foreigners often go and this is glaringly obvious.  For the whole two days I was the only unicorn in the village –

  • and this was not just because of my skin colour,
  • nor me being a female and travelling alone,
  • nor the fact of not having hair
  • nor that I am a baby sannyasi floating around in bright yellow,
  • or even that I was comfortable in my skin even though I clearly didn’t belong there,

but there was something else….a subtle vibration that arrested people’s attention and held me in suspense within the fabric of their imagination or awareness.  As I walk the streets without an aim to see the temple straight away (just wanted to get a feel for the place), I navigate the attention and puddles with equal deliberation and caution.  The only time I engage is with the children as I skip, dance and slide over the puddles, who support my lightness with their amusement – a welcome spaciousness in the otherwise dense atmosphere.

Eventually I get to the temple where I find many sub-sthals where the Puja of Ma is taking place – there is chanting, havan, abhishek, along with many pandits offering blessings to families, wedding parties, babies and the whole social stratum.   Additionally there is a small temple for Shiva with a Lingham being worshiped and a strange area that has what looks to be a variation of Shiva’s Trishul (trident) buried into the ground.  This has only two prongs and is covered in sindor with a pit either side…I have no idea what this is and there is currently nothing happening here so I move on.

IMG_6381

The main Temple that houses Ma is closed for lunch and will reopen again later and so I take in the different sights, sounds, and practises going on.  I am lost in my own practice, as I watch a havan, of chanting the Bija Mantra with each swaha offering a squeeze of the crystal lingam nestled within my yoni, at which point the Devi I am sitting next to (and by now have been for some time…I have noticed that people eventually lose interest if I just sit still for a while and get on with my practice) asks me for money to eat (obviously through body language given we are neither fluent in each other’s tongue).  I give her some money and think nothing of it – her energy was lovely and she was as lost in her practice as I was in mine.  A few moments later another Mataji (older lady/mother type) comes along begging for money and I realize my mistake – I stop it there.  When all of a sudden this Devi who was the recipient of my dakshina reappears with her darshan!  She holds a pot of sindur (the red colour used to paint the bindi on foreheads and the hairline/feet of married women) and kneels down to paint my feet.  I am now a married woman with a single bindu/chakra at the centre of my feet – just like Ma x

She then barks fiercely at everyone to leave me alone and so I get to continue with my practice and be within the temple walls in peace.

Feet

 

 

The colour and play of this place is a pure theatre of everyday life.  I witness an Aghori who picks through the ashes of the Havan to consume any morsels of Prasad of which he has found a roasted banana and devours it with gentle and delicate appreciation.  My eyes then catch the temple sevak who is cloaked in the guise of a simpleton who shuffles and hovels around cleaning up after the rituals yet there is an air of clarity, purity, precision and grace in his service which parts the curtain of illusion and informs me that he is anything but ‘simple’… small but lasting impressions to behold and told.

There are many dogs in Tarapith – all over India actually, but I notice many more of them here.  They nearly equal the number of people.  I go outside the temple grounds and stand on the entrance stairs just to take a breather when I see a dog that is a replica for a very special one I befriended in Rikhia – I called him Satyam.  I look at this dog and he looks at me through the same eyes as Satyam.  I say his name and he comes and sits beside me…just as Satyam would.  I look at him and his white markings now have an odd blue tinge and I comment that he looks like Shiva and should perhaps call him such in Tarapith to which he nudges me and so this same soul was now in the guise of Shiva!  I know it sounds a little farfetched and fanciful but this stuff really does happen in this mystical magical place!

Shiva_Satyam

 

Now, I head back into the temple walls and I see there a dying female dog with her concerned beloved anxiously hovering in circles about his inability to ease his loves surging suffering.  She is in a very bad way and she has made her way to one of the alters where moments earlier a havan was taking place.  Her sensitivity is palpable – she can feel every itch, twitch, twist and pain that courses across her skin and within her frame and rawly expresses her sensory impressions.  I begin to sing to Ma in the hope that she will soothe the suffering, bathe her in peace and help her cross the ocean of samsara quickly.

With this experience dawned my first lesson;

The experience of suffering is felt through the senses only – the sense organs and the mind at play is what we call suffering.  I have heard, read and thought about this before but never really got it until that poor wretch so clearly reflected my raw yet damaged intense sensual nature.  If only we could detach and settle into a much higher or greater experience of ourselves – our true Selves, then suffering or physical distress may occur but we could be at peace…a deep and infinate peace.  It is our resistance to our experiences, our sensory input which preoccupies and provides a state of suffering for us. And just like that both teachers in DOG/GOD form,  got up and left the temple. 

Finally the main temple where Tara Ma’s Murti is housed opens and there is a rush…I watch and see how things are done.  When all the lines have been established and gates closed, I find a place where I catch my first distant glimpse of her and am chilled by her presence.  My skin comes alive, my blood quivers and a tear rolls down my cheek.  She is beautifully still in her powerful reflective radiance.  A sight to behold and imprinted within the layers of my being.

Ma

 

Finally I amble away from the temple in an exhausted but contented state, thinking I will return tomorrow in the hope to come closer to my Ishta, but trust her to provide me what I need when I am ready.  I come across the smashan (graveyard – which is synonyms with Tara and Varma Marga (of left-hand tantra of which Aghoris are the followers/disciples) where the famous Mad Baba lived many years ago and is still worshiped today.  There is lots of activity – pandits are perfoming havans, wild women are cursing and laughing hysterically, dogs are barking and fighting over food and the arrival of a fresh corpse carried by 4 friends.   He will be burnt and often times, what remains the aghoris will consume.

As I see and think this, I am caught by the awareness that I don’t have a problem with death but rather gets me thinking about consciousness and where it does go after it leaves the body.  What is this life and what is this death?  How do our karmas trap us (like the suffering of that dog and my neurotic nature) and what is released and what stays when ‘death’ occurs?

As I walk back to the hotel, now oblivious to any attention I am attracting, and feeling blessed for this incredible life of mine, I feed two little puppies some butter biscuits who are very young and starving at which point I feel very proud of myself for giving them a chance to grow!

And just like that – Tara knocked me on my ass with the ferocious intensity she is so famous for in the form of a second lesson;

A little way up the road, I see a little puppy (just like the one I had just so proudly fed) in the middle of the road with what looks to be her mother standing over, grooming her.  Yet as I draw closer, I realise that the puppy is dead – I now assume – that its mother is grieving and trying to lick it back to life.  However like cogs in a wheel of consciousness, reality finally clicks into place and revealed the raw truth.  The puppy is dead having been hit by a car, its brains and entrails are spewing out like a smorgasbord on the muddy earth beneath and the ‘mother’…which I am not sure was the relationship to this pup, was licking the blood and eating the fresh morsels on offer whilst savagely growling at other ravenous canine onlookers, obviously keen to keep this fresh piece of meat to itself.

I go up to them both and look – really look at the reality before me. 

This is life and this is death. 

This is Shiva and Ma at play

IMG_6386

 

As I continue back to the hotel, I feel fine and strangely ok given the intensity of the day but then slowly the ripples of intensity start crashing against my sensibilities – and I feel raw, sensitive, exposed, afraid and crave comfort.  As tough as I want to be, as fierce as I sometimes am, this little soul has far too much conditioning… I am no Aghori.

This was day one….which laid the strong foundations for the big lessons in sacrifice I was to encounter the following day.

The way I see it…

I have been asked a lot lately, “What is going on at Mangrove (Ashram)?” , “How can you be living there given all that has happened?”, “What are your plans?” and the most frequent – “What is a guru?  Who is Satyananda? and What type of Yoga do you teach?”  /…

Phew – so many questions and until recently I haven’t wanted to answer any of them for fear of upsetting those who were still undergoing their ‘process’ of grief and not feeling a need to assert my position or defend my beloved Guru.  I had been quietly going about my business, sharing my opinions with a select few when I felt it was timely or important to do so and seeking support from even fewer due to the unique and seemingly isolated position I have taken.

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A WEEKEND THAT CHANGED IT ALL

I have never been shy about bearing all, disclosing, living transparently and openly regardless of the cost and as I have been a lone wolf – have never needed others to approve or disapprove of my being.  However I surprisingly seem to have ‘sided’ with tradition, institution and loyalty over my previous solo self-interests.

Over the weekend at Mangrove Yoga (formerly known as Mangrove Yoga Ashram and before that Satyananda Yoga Ashram) there was a gathering of ‘visionaries’ who were invited to share their energy, ideas and skill in taking mangrove into the future – post Royal Commission.  The repeated catchphrase was ‘Transparency’ and that this was the only thing that was needed during the weekend and would be upheld to move forward – THIS I CAN DO!   It was demanded of India through a letter that was sent and responded to which was shared with the group and it was requested that all participants during the weekend share their positions with each other – NO PROBLEM!

Not surprising – it was a mixed group.  There were old school Sannyasa (each of whom have spent from 20-40 years in India living the Yogic Lifestyle under direct instruction of a Guru) who uphold the cultural and traditional values of our lineage.  There were those on the equal and opposite end of the spectrum who demanded the removal of tradition and stated that it was ‘impossible to continue’ a relationship with India given what has happened and everything along a sliding scale in between.  It was clear how divergent and passionate people were about their positions and that the work of Yoga or unifying these polarities would take some real skill….if at all possible!

We were segmented into small groups and I found myself in a group where my position was hostilely challenged…that my opinion was said to be flawed, impossible, selfish and ignorant! I was hoping for transparency and respect however the second was sorely lacking in this exchange and many others I saw throughout the day.  The facilitation was ‘led through a coloured lens’ and if a divergent position was offered, it was quickly redirected, diminished or rephrased to suit the agreed narrative by those behind the scenes.  If anyone stated their opinion and if it fell in the minority or at the extreme end of the spectrum, there were rude outbursts of protest at the ‘ignorance, denial and outdated’ views offered.  This was the very accusation laid at the feet of Guru and Tradition yet we were perpetuating the same cultural malaise in the name of change….?

 

SPIRITUAL POLITICS

As a lone wolf, I had never been involved or wanted to be involved in institutions or ‘traditions’  as they seemed fraught with egos, politics and the sticky substances of humanity that attract our worst friends to live by our sides!   Swami Niranjanananda mentioned repeatedly about our ‘five friends’ who are our seductive yet greatest obstacles to leading a high quality  life – they were Passion(KAAM), Greed(LOBH), Attachment(MOH), Anger(KRODTH) &  Ego(MAD) which are ever present  – especially  on a spiritual path and within institutions in crisis.

This lone wolf however has finally been drawn into commenting, as when I put all my resistance about ‘organisations’ aside – what I do want to uphold and personally hold dear are the teachings and the amazing life of my Guru.  The need to preserve them, share them and ensure they are accessible for all future generations.  This knowledge was nearly lost to all of us and through my Guru – Satyananda – who (was a Vendantin…not a Yogi) applied his incredible mind to   understanding the science of Yoga.  He was able to offer appropriate practices along with personally demonstrate their transformational potential not just in his own exceptional life but also through the lives of his closest disciples…some of whom were present at this meeting and it showed.

 

THE PAST COLOURED FUTURE

I was a child and adult of sexual abuse and now I have a guru who has been accused of perpetrating sexual abuse of minors – the irony is not lost on me and I have had to do the real and hard work of finding a way to hold space for that gap…I have had to find union within myself – to LIVE YOGA/ UNION – not just talk about it.

I personally have no issue with my or any guru having sex with ‘of age’ women even if they are his students/ disciples.  Let each and every adult make their own choices free from other people or societies judgments.  Though, I did experience firsthand how this opinion is contentious by those that think I should condemn it, deplore it and demand it never happen again as it is illegal (as I was so clearly informed) , but my views are my views – right or wrong and I am happy to let others have theirs !

I never needed my Guru to be celibate and probably wouldn’t have connected with him had he not had a ‘sexual nature’ … though all of this is secondary to my position.   I believe rampant sexual abuse of minors took place repeatedly, violently and horrifically within the ashram during the 1980s and there is no way to dispute that.  However what I am able to do because I have been a victim, because I resolutely love my Guru (regardless of his actions – my love does not depend on him pleasing me or failing me) and because his message was bigger than either of our stories, is to encourage and remind us to LIVE YOGA!

 

THE WORK OF YOGA

To practice Yoga when we need it most – and we need it now!!!

I believe we need to seek union in polarised situations and believe it possible to find a point of genuine, authentic and transformational Yoga (union) which is a place of love, acceptance and healing for all involved.  For Yoga not to be lip service or a lifestyle or even a connection to a ‘club of like-minded people’ but  individuals stepping up in crisis, working hard (ashram), applying the practices, techniques, attitudes and inclusive belief that we can  stitch together fragments, shards and threads of all our diverse lives into a masterpiece in the modern age… A demonstration on how Yoga can become the culture of tomorrow…and it is our JOB/DUTY as Yogis!

 

IN SUMMARY

I abhor abuse, I love my Guru, I will practice and share the teachings and story of Satyananda Yoga always while personally living in the tradition of Sannyasa as demonstrated so beautifully by my beloved inspiring

 Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati

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This is my choice, This is my work and My goal is Yoga (UNION)

OM TAT SAT

Naming the Nidhis

lord-kubera

It has been a while and don’t really have anything insightful to add but thought I would share what I have been thinking, working on and exploring of late…

I am staying with a friend who I have known for decades.  We met when I was young and wild and become lovers for a very brief time.  It ended and we remained friends.  Last night we reminisced about who I was, how I am now and the inspiration that this has provided him (along with sharing all the ways that I adore him and his growing family … )

He asked about my guru which many people have been doing lately as I guess it is an unusual phenomena and there is concern that I am relinquishing my power to another entity though I don’t see it this way.  At a time where people are throwing away their outer guru for an inner powerful one (which I believe is part of the evolutionary process), I feel the need to draw nearer to him, to learn from him and reflect back his stellar qualities – to voice his value, contribution and impact on my life… I am still a young fledgling and happy to be so.

A post in my facebook feed today had this about my guru;

Guru is not a social necessity. He is not a status symbol like a car or a house in the country which can be discarded the moment something better comes along. He is not a dustbin or a wastebasket into which all negativity and neurosis can be thrown. He is the pure effulgent spirit, the dispeller of darkness, the epitome of what each individual should aspire to be. His domain is the spirit, and it is to guide us into this realm that he appears in our lives. Once the link with Guru is established, time cannot change it nor death eradicate it. It is a permanent union. Guru stays with you life after life.

https://youtu.be/YwaidxFh2XU

My Guru – Swami Satyananda Saraswati found me after a long and arduous search for someone who could understand, accept and love me as I was, how I will be and help me get there.  He is me and I am him…albeit in individual expressions.  He has said of himself that he was not a very nice person in his youth and lately some of these karmas have been revealed, yet I am the same and so I know that he is the one to guide me from my inner darkness to my light.  He has shown himself to be ever present for me, generous, wise and loving (though not always soft) and demonstrated so clearly in his later life what this practice and knowledge, when applied appropriately, can achieve.  He transformed his rough and ready yet potentially rich nature into a loving light which continues to emit radiance for many daily.

He was not perfect yet perfect for me x  I have never needed perfect …

A friend mentioned that my name as given by his spiritual daughter (Swami Satsangi) is very fitting and perhaps given he is not here physically to guide me, having taken Mahasamadhi, then maybe this is my work in preparation for his return. That perhaps this time, could be used to establish myself within my power using my name to awaken my nidhis and express them clearly.  He advised that the nine treasures which others can see in me, I am blind to within my nature and need to work at cultivating, embodying and owning these inherent qualities;

http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Nau_Nidh

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nidhi

mahapadma “great lotus flower”

Sahasra..the abode of the divine eternal atman through which the individual has an experience of life

http://www.adishakti.org/subtle_system/sahasrara_chakra.htm

padma “lotus flower”

Lives untouched in muddy waters, a thing of beauty grown from the darkest places.

https://www.lotussculpture.com/my_articles_lotus.htm

shankha “conch”

It is said to be the first sound of OM and a symbol of purity, brilliance and auspiciousness which is used by Vishnu (preserver) and Shiva (destruction).  It is sounded before a battle to wake up/invoke the worlds and call to the subtle forces to wage wars which will preserve or destroy dharma or adharma respectively.

http://www.boldsky.com/yoga-spirituality/faith-mysticism/2014/significance-of-conch-shell-in-hinduism-039699.html

makara “crocodile”

Swadhisthan – the hidden beast within the ocean of desires.  The reptilian survival instinct which is fierce like Kali yet gentle with her weapons towards loved ones.  Crocodiles are deep, ancient and rich with insight yet challenged in a modern world and evoke fear.

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-alligator-meaning-and-crocodile-meaning.html

kachchhapa “tortoise”

Patanjali used the symbolism of the tortoise to explain Pratyahara or sense withdrawal.  That when the senses retract from external stimulus and one is protected within the shell of the soul the inner exploration can begin.   Additionally they are symbols of good luck, divinity, wisdom and knowledge.

http://www.khandro.net/animal_tortoise.htm

kumud “a particular precious stone”

It is related to Cinnabar (Quartz) which encourages transformation from small self to true self and is associated with magic and manifestation.  Quicksilver (liquid mercury) is extracted from cinnabar and is also part of this nidhi.  It is a highly reflective, fast, ‘alive’, malleable and fluid until it sets at which point it becomes brittle as it doesn’t like to bind itself to itself in a fixed form and resists bonding with others.  Additionally it is highly poisonous if misused.

http://themagicofcrystals.com/#/cinnabar-quartz

http://www.indepthinfo.com/mercury/quicksilver.shtml

kunda “jasmine”

Is known as the queen of the night.  She symbolises feminine sweetness and beauty along with deep affection, happiness and elegance. Additionally there are many healing benefit s of these flowers which the Chinese and Indians have used for centuries…usually around ‘women issues’

https://taniamarieartist.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/jasmine-in-the-air-symbolism-and-sanctuary/

nila “sapphire”

Ajna chakra, Meditation, clarity and Intuition, Protection from evil during ritual

http://meanings.crystalsandjewelry.com/sapphire/

kharva “dwarf”

Earthy, hardworking, generous and humble, though often also cunning, selfish and desirous.  The basic qualities of human experience and the ignorance of ‘man’.

http://www.theosophytrust.org/707-dwarf

And so I will begin a Sadhana of working with these in my own way, finding a way to express them within the fabric of my being as I wait for my beloved to return and find me either in this life or the next or next or next x

guru yoni

Hari Om Tat Sat