Crisis – a spiritual exercise

As the weeks and months of no-employment passed, Joy viewed the crisis she was facing as a spiritual exercise – the opportunity to put her existential theories into practice. It wasn’t easy to remain focused and positive. She woke up some days feeling as if she had been forgotten by Life. Oftentimes, she didn’t know what to keep her mind concentrated on. If this day has meaning, what is it? If each second is precious then its value must come from something more than a career outcome. How should I approach these moments of no definite direction and solitude? How can I turn what feels like a waiting game into something more dynamic and rewarding?

Joy took the time to contemplate these questions deeply. She found an answer in the art of divine indifference, or as the Buddhists referred to it, abiding in the moment. This meant accepting her life circumstances without struggle or resistance: acknowledging the desire to see the situation change, knowing it would change when the process had run its course and, thereby, practising detached, positive expectancy.

Joy increased her meditation practice and included some breathing exercises. She knew that her respiration was affected by the stress she was feeling, depriving her body of essential oxygen. Continue reading

Ever-present web of “Life”

Darkness had fallen and the sky glistened with the moon and the distant stars, revealing the gateway to the universe. In the daylight hours, it was easy to fall for the illusion that there was nothing beyond earthly existence. At night, the truth of the vastness of the physical manifestation of Life could be glimpsed. The star-filled sky was humbling and awe-inspiring. Out here I can sense clearly that the Life that animates my own small existence also brings energy to all things everywhere, thought Joy. She sat down on one of the garden chairs and honoured the sadness she was feeling at the space left by the passing of her father, Dino. She allowed herself the time to experience her grief. As she wept, her tears calmed her.

Then, focusing at a point beyond memories and emotion, she recognised the beauty of a life that had ended. She acknowledged the energetic web that connected all beings in and out of incarnation. Her breathing became slower and more rhythmic; her body and facial muscles began to relax. She held her mind steady at the highest point of mental focus that was possible for her. Orienting her attention inwards to her sense of Self beyond her personality, she was able to observe her emotions and to slowly detach from them. She maintained her attention pointedly in the moment. There was no past, no future; there was only now. Continue reading

Surrendering to Life

Joy felt as if she were living in No (Wo)Man’s Land – between the temporal and the universal. It was an unenviable place between two worlds. Tired of her lower state of consciousness, she was learning in her meditation practice to focus her awareness at a level beyond everyday emotions and thinking. When she managed it, she immediately felt very peaceful. She was determined to make peace her habitual state of mind – not just during those minutes of meditation but throughout the entire day. Somehow she had to achieve this. She couldn’t keep living as if part of her self were dead; as if she couldn’t wait to get through life – to get to the end. There had to be more meaning, more significance to this experience of living life as a human.

Joy was aware that her physical body was never fully relaxed. Whenever she stopped to take notice, she realised that she was frowning, clenching her fists or holding her breath. She found it required all her efforts to achieve relaxation. As soon as she took her mind off the task, she discovered her muscles had tensed up again. She remembered the times her father, Dino, had taken her on a short holiday somewhere. Those were the rare occasions when she felt relaxed for slightly longer periods – hours, maybe even days. She would allow herself to be like a child again. Continue reading

Don’t mind the gap

A friend of mine once commented to me: “Most of our lives are lived purely in our heads.” This was a sobering reminder of the importance of distinguishing between our prevailing reality and the memories and/or fantasies we play out in our minds, which can often be physically and mentally exhausting. As far as memories are concerned, it’s helpful to acknowledge that there’s nothing we can do to change, or bring back, the past. In terms of fantasies, whether of outcomes we wish for or fear, although it may be OK to indulge for a while, I feel it’s important to be able to do so in moderation since oftentimes those hopes/fears never come to pass in the end, so a lot of time and energy can be spent on something that ultimately has no purpose. As such, don’t mind the gap i.e. the gap between where you are and where you wish to be; or who you are and who you want to become. The gap is part of the game of physical-plane life. It will always be there; so, there’s no point in stressing over it. Once you cross the gap, a new gap will surely materialise (unless you reach enlightenment first) and the whole process starts over. I feel we’d do well to teach our children from an early age this aspect of living an empowered life as it would spare them much personal suffering and assist them in living a more joyful existence.

Excerpt from “She Who Is Unto Herself”

Impacting others through the transpersonal plane

As mentioned in a previous post, only a very small component of the tantric path, if any, focuses on sexual practice. For this reason, I feel that some of the sacred sexuality courses available in the West put the cart before the horse. Yes, the sex, absolutely; I’m totally into exploring the sacred nature of my human sexuality. However, the first step is surely to acquire a significant depth of knowledge about oneself and others (including our lover) as physical-spiritual beings. I feel this is especially important because by integrating Tantra into our spiritual practice we have an opportunity to, in some way, heal the male/female and physical/spiritual fault lines within our individual selves, between our self and our lover, as well as at the more encompassing transpersonal level.

In his book “The Art of the Transpersonal Self”, Norbert Koppensteiner explains how the transpersonal refers to our “relationality with partial others within the aesthetic/energetic sphere”[1]. He goes on to clarify that: “The human being is from the outset transpersonal and in part determined by others and co-determining towards them. Each action we take never only affects our self alone Continue reading

Smiling – an indicator of spiritual success

Can you smile even when you’re hurting inside? If you can smile in the midst of your own personal storms then that’s a huge victory in your day; something immeasurably worthwhile.

Let’s consider what we give value to. If we want to live an inspired and empowered life, we need to give value to our inner work and its application in outer circumstances. If we continue to give priority value to outer aspects like job, possessions, physical beauty, then of course the small inner victories – like a beaming smile or empathic hug – will ring hollow. Instead, these small gestures have the potential to be indicators of true authenticity and spiritual success.

Excerpt from “She Who Is Unto Herself”

Tantra: defying perceived limits of our human constitution

Tantra promotes the healing of the perceived fault lines between dualities like energy and matter, masculine and feminine, rational and transrational (spiritual). The tantric worldview “does not overcome [rationality], but crosses through it […] [and] again sees the human being as part of a species connected with nature and the cosmos.”[1] In this way, Tantra defies what Western modernity perceives to be the limits of our human constitution by facilitating the building of the bridge between the personal, transpersonal and transrational.

To achieve these existential and spiritual goals, Tantra promotes feeling rather than thinking, being rather than doing – by way of mindfulness, non-judgement, acceptance and surrender to the present moment; together with the integration of all forms of love – from love of oneself, to platonic and familial love, to sexual love, to altruism, to agape. Tantra integrates all facets of physical existence, which is why sexuality isn’t excluded. However, sex and sexuality aren’t given any greater focus than the other aspects of the human constitution. For this reason, it’s clear that the tendency, in the West, to equate Tantra almost exclusively with sex is an exceedingly imbalanced and inaccurate perspective.

Sam Red, 7 August 2015

[1] Dietrich, W. (2012) Interpretations of Peace in History and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan: London & New York, pp.266-267.