What is love?

What is love? What comes to your mind when I ask that question? Is it romantic love and sex? Is it religious or spiritual love? Is it filial or parental love? I guess most people would choose out of these options. Would any of us refer to self-love? Without an apologetic tone in our voices? Self-love might start with a rational analysis of our worth and achievements, probably in line with prevailing social and cultural norms. However, such contemplations risk remaining purely intellectual in nature and are likely, therefore, to end in self-condemnation and feelings of inferiority or – quite the opposite – egoic pride and a sense of superiority. To counteract this kind of mental cul-de-sac, the good news is that there’s a more authentic and deeper self-love that can be accessed when we step beyond the rational, thinking mind and the pull of the emotions. This self-love might be experienced as an incredibly calming energy that pervades your whole body, giving you a deep sense of presence, acceptance of the moment and connectivity with all that surrounds you. Tantric techniques aim to stimulate more of this kind of self-love. As such, Tantra offers “the greatest empowerment of all: the power to determine your own inner state, regardless of external circumstance.”[1]

Extract from my book “She Who is Unto Herself”

[1] Wallis, C.D. (2013) Tantra Illuminated. Mattamayura Press: San Rafael, CA, p.192.

Anchoring our consciousness in the transrational

Awakening

What we know of human consciousness is likely to be only a fraction of what’s humanly possible. We seem to be mostly aware of the physiological and rational capacities of our human bodies and minds. Yet, I assume we’ve all heard the statistics about the tiny portion of our brains that we actually use, notwithstanding the fact that the remaining parts haven’t atrophied, which would plausibly be the case if they weren’t being utilized in some way – perhaps in a way that we’re not yet consciously aware of. Moreover, Tantra and Taoism suggest that each and every cell of the body has consciousness i.e. our organ of awareness is not solely the brain/mind. In Tantra, we’re encouraged to explore the elements of the human consciousness that are most evident, embodying and transforming our innate drives and responses rather than resisting or denying them; yet, at the same time, we’re asked to open ourselves to those areas of human consciousness that aren’t so readily accessible from the vantage point of ordinary awareness (the day-to-day rational/emotional state). As such, Tantra promotes the integration of body, mind and spirit. It rejects no facet of physicality i.e. Tantra neither negates nor dominates – attitudes that are typical of modernism.[1] Continue reading

Body consciousness

Tantrists and Taoists believe that our physical bodies are intelligent and conscious right down to the cellular level. Consequently, the body is seen to be much more than a set of mechanistic organs and interconnecting physiological systems, which is the standard attitude adopted by Western allopathic medicine. The tantric viewpoint is that: “…the human body is, in the final analysis, not merely unconscious matter but a stepped-down version of superconscious Energy. […] if the body is not merely the sarcophagus of an immaterial soul but a vibrant, living reality suffused with the same Consciousness that also animates the mind, then we must cease to regard the body as an external object radically distinct from our conscious selves.[1] Continue reading

Becoming proficient in the art of acceptance

Joy was learning that being fully in the moment was like listening very intently. The ideas that arose in that way were altruistic and full of meaning. They were ideas that it was worth acting on; indeed, that it was important to act on.

She felt the urge to become proficient in the art of acceptance, to learn to live life from the inside out. She could change her attitude to life by changing her mind and her feelings. Engaging with calmness and steadfastness notwithstanding the outer circumstances could become her creed. This she could do simply by focusing her consciousness beyond her emotions and mental chatter, knowing that the outer was secondary and that only the inner held any authentic meaning.

Mental chit-chat served no purpose aside from keeping her – and the rest of the human race – in a constant state of tension and malaise. She was tired of being ruled by her rational mind; being bombarded by its thoughts and having her mental space invaded by whatever memories, judgements or self-defeating patterns it decided to put there. 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

Seeing through the social roles we play

We all take on differing roles according to which area of our lives is in question. For example, in the work place, we act and speak using language and mannerisms that are in line with our job and the position we hold in the organisational hierarchy; at home, we act and speak differently (e.g. our tone of voice changes) depending on if we’re in the role of parent or husband/wife/lover; in our social circles, we adopt yet another way of interacting with people, dependent on whether they are acquaintances or closer friends. Our apparent success in playing these various roles is measured according to socially constructed rules of good/appropriate conduct. However, whilst holding in mind the way we “should” act, we can also decide to play with those socially imposed expectations and make a conscious choice to act differently i.e. we can enjoy the power we have in any given moment to choose our attitude and actions. Naturally, playing doesn’t imply being dishonest or cunning; quite the opposite, in fact. Any play goes hand-in-hand with respect and love for others, careful not to hurt anybody’s feelings, although we might surprise them with what we say and do. Playing can release you from the shackles and weight of unwritten social rules and mind-made morality. It can be very empowering to intermittently step beyond life’s routines and invent a new you – even if you decide to play the new role just once, in one particular situation.

Excerpt from “She Who Is Unto Herself”

Transformation of consciousness

“Do you believe that my father – Dino – and the rest of us are part of one existential energy?” Joy asked.

“Isn’t that stuff for saints and mystics?” Bruna replied, biting slowly into a croissant that had been warmed in the oven.

“Maybe in the past it was, but more people than just mystics practise daily meditation and live according to spiritual principles nowadays. In so doing, they’re bound to come face-to-face with the Truth that the very same Life energy runs through each and every one of us.”

“What you’re referring to isn’t totally new, Joy,” Gino intervened. “Theories about universal energy have been around for millennia in different guises and ideologies, so what makes you think that mainstream humanity is going to suddenly be impacted in some transformative way if until now that hasn’t happened?”

Joy poured out the coffee and took her place at the table.

“I’d say that what’s different nowadays is that freedom from the lower mind and the emotions is something many people are hungry for. The injustice, the inequality, the corruption, the manipulation are all becoming increasingly visible. They’re affecting more and more people directly, so it’ll become harder for them to just stand by and watch. Humanity stands on the brink of what to me looks like an abyss. Recognising our intrinsic common identity would be a saving grace. Until now, humans have believed but they haven’t known. How could they have real knowledge of spiritual truths when they’ve been stuck in mental illusions and turbulent emotions?” Continue reading