Microcosmic and Macrocosmic Aspects of Peace – Part IV

ZenThe road to peace has been mapped out for humanity by some of its forerunners. For example, historically, the Buddha indicated  one possible road to peace through the eight-fold path of right view, right thinking, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right diligence, right mindfulness and right concentration. These principals have stood the test of time and are as valid today as they were 2000 years ago.

Active individual participation in the promotion of social justice and political decision-making, without the use of violence, in a spirit of tolerance and goodwill, was strongly advocated by Gandhi in the 1900s. He promoted such important concepts as:

  • Ahimsa – non-injury through the renunciation of physical and mental violence against one’s self, others, animals and nature;
  • Advaita – the interconnectivity of all life forms;
  • Tapasya – the willingness to suffer rather than inflict pain on others;
  • Sarvodaya – everyone’s basis needs must be met even if that means that some people must give something up so that others are not left out;
  • Satyagraha – the pursuit of Truth through non-violent action.

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Some thoughts on suffering (part 3 of 3)

In the realms of spiritual authenticity, our worth is not calculated by our monetary Balancefortune, but rather by our actions and the quality of our emotional mind space at any given moment. We are responsible for our perceptions and attitudes i.e. our thoughts and feelings and, therefore, how we experience outer events. We are only partially in control of how those outer events play out. Life on the physical plane is impermanent and relatively random. To resist or deny that reality is madness. The sanest recourse is to accept life as an ever-changing playing field, to find the point of permanence in the inner self and then to live life with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. “A disciplined mind regards all changes as causal and temporary. The balanced does not fluctuate, and does not suffer.”[1] This tantric attitude takes courage and persistent effort, which is why I refer to it as the way of the warrior. Continue reading

Some thoughts on suffering (part 2 of 3)

Light of the soulMy life experiences and contemplations have brought me to the conclusion that without suffering it would be all too easy to remain in mind-dom i.e. in the clutches of the emotional mind. The latter can always keep us entertained with never-ending, theatrical representations of past events or fantasies of potential future happenings. When everything in our lives is going as planned (by the personality), the emotional mind can be a very comfortable place to take refuge. The risk, however, is that we remain stuck there, which means living in the illusion that our rational mind and emotions are our sole identity. Thanks to suffering, we get the gentle push, or even dramatic shove, to move out of contracted mind-dom and discover the fullness of our (divine) identity and consciousness.

Georg Feuerstein provides a Tantric – and I guess also Buddhist – perspective on suffering when he writes: “Many people […] are not in the least aware of their self-perpetuated state of incarceration. But those in whom wisdom has dawned can see that the world, or rather how they experience it, is confining. They also are sensitive to the fact that worldly existence is suffused with suffering (duhkha).[1] Continue reading

Some thoughts on suffering (part 1 of 3)

What is the (“existential”) purpose of suffering? That question has pursued me for many years now. My own personal struggles I’ve found easier to respond to, in relative terms, coming to see them as a learning ground for a deeper existential and spiritual understanding. What’s always been much more difficult for me is witnessing, or simply knowing of, the suffering endured by other humans and animals in incredibly cruel and/or dangerous circumstances e.g. subject to physical and/or psychological violence, hunger, displacement, personal loss, etc. Consequently, I’ve felt an existential imperative to gain some constructive perspectives on the meaning of suffering in order to understand how best to remain in touch with my empathy, whilst at the same time avoiding the pitfall of feeling discouraged.

SunThe spiritual challenge we face is to be joyful no matter what life conditions we are experiencing i.e. whether we are surrounded by love and good fortune, or suffering and injustice. The tantric tradition offers a helpful insight by distinguishing between ananda, which is our innate blissful state of consciousness, and sukha, which is the emotional state of ordinary happiness that is dependent on external conditions. Continue reading

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.

Authentic spiritual practice

Quote

“From the highest source of tantric authority we learn […] ‘To worship it, become it’ […] Without this ‘becoming’ there is no worship. There is no worship without. Worship without is a rite; it becomes a mere ritualistic form. The only worship, like love, must be a continuous, penetrating and merging flow of energy from within, from within to within. ‘Becoming it’ is the first demand for a successful prayer. It is the soul in shape. This is at the root of our worship of deities. […] It may be Kali, Mary, Buddha or Jesus. Unless a prayer makes the devotee ‘become’ it, the prayer has failed. It is like reciting a cook book in order to appease hunger.”

Quote from Bhattacharya, B. (1988) The World of Tantra. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd: New Delhi, p.215.

Quote featured in “She Who Is Unto Herself”

Embraced by immanent divine love

I’ve discovered a point of consciousness inside me that is forever content, blissful, trusting and at peace. This is what I understand to be heart energy. I can access it at any moment; it’s only difficult to find when my rational mind is working overtime. In my experience, this energy seems to have two locations – in the area of the heart chakra, as expected, and also in the area of the third eye chakra. Perhaps these two energy centres are very intimately connected, so if one is energised it naturally stimulates the other? This point of consciousness brings calm in any situation if I can access it. It causes my body to stand erect – straightening my spine; and at the same time, it relaxes my muscles. It makes me take a deep breath and smile. As well as absorbing this heart energy, I can also radiate it outwards to others through the power of my intention, and for this reason, it enables me to remain open to people I interact with, irrespective of whether the relationship is good or bad. It is, I believe, a quality of being which is spoken of – albeit in different ways – by many religious and spiritual traditions. Tapping heart energy and then holding your intention to radiate it out of your third eye chakra is referred to by some energetic practices of Eastern origin as smiling through your third eye. Continue reading