Quest for Self-Knowledge

MandalaJoy remembered when she had moved out of the flat with Jim and found herself alone for the first time in many years. She had experienced a severe crisis. Although perhaps outwardly nobody noticed, at night she cried, imploring the Universe – or whatever It was – to show her the way forward, to end the stagnation into which she felt she had fallen. Ever since she had developed a spiritual orientation in life, rejecting the more materialistic approach, she seemed to have struggled. It was as if all her efforts had led to nothing; as if she were no longer in the flow of life; as if she were swimming upstream.

Joy knew that, despite that cry to the Universe all those years ago, she continued to experience only pockets of apparent success in her personal and professional life for a long time afterwards. Nevertheless, she recognised that during those years of difficulty and struggle she had built up her inner strength, and expanded her understanding of the physical plane and its relationship with the non-visible worldContinue reading

Some thoughts on sacred sexuality

I join the camp of those persons who have come to the conclusion that our sexuality is for much more than conceiving a child, although at a certain point in our lives that might be the major purpose. I believe sexual energy, when correctly understood and worked with, has the potential to be an important part of our spiritual learning on the physical plane, not least because the states of consciousness we’re capable of attaining during and after a sexual exchange are so much more subtle and significant than our ordinary state of awareness. By joining together at the level of heart, body and mind, lovers can access the Infinite. This is one of the goals of a tantric sexual union, which is something much more encompassing than the mere satisfaction of lust or the release of pent-up sexual energy. “Sex must not remain sex; that is the Tantra teaching. It must be transformed into love. And love also must not remain love. It must be transformed into light, into meditative experience, into the last, ultimate mystic peak.”[1]

Andre van Lysebeth suggests that human beings have two sexual poles: the species pole located in the genitals, which is associated with the urge for procreation that’s visible in many life forms, not just humans; and, the individual pole located in the brain, which is specific to the human race. [2]  By connecting at a heart-level with our lover, we can bridge the gap between the species (body) and individual (mind) poles: Continue reading

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

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.

Love, laugh and learn

Hand-in-hand with “playfulness” comes laughter i.e. being able to see the funny side in a situation or, at least, having the necessary level of non-attachment to find a way to laugh notwithstanding the challenges of our circumstances. For this reason, I like the love-laugh-learn combination: love implies always being open and receptive; laugh is synonymous with non-attachment and playfulness, and; learn connotes the recognition that in every life experience there’s an opportunity to grow spiritually, which is an empowering insight.

On the topic of laughter, it’s clear that the aim is never to hurt a person, never to laugh at him/her. Laughing at is only possible when we’re in the illusion of separateness; as soon as we resonate with the tantric concept that we’re all energetically one being, we can only ever laugh with another person.

“Tantra asks us to go beyond the traditional stance of the cool, utterly detached observer of all our experiences. It recommends the more refined position of witnessing while at the same time understanding that observer and observed are not ultimately distinct. The Tantric approach is to see all life experiences as the play of the same One.”[1]

Sam Red, 1 August 2015

[1] Feuerstein, G. (1998) Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy. Shamballa Publications: Boston & London, p.60.

Nature – the spiritual enchantress

I’ve experienced on numerous occasions how nature can cast an enchanting and beautiful spell on me that leaves me feeling mesmerised, in an altered state, with an open heart and a deep sense of contentedness and trust. Some places in nature I know in advance have a huge likelihood to have this kind of impact on me.The seaside is one such place. When I feel in need of hope and inspiration, a walk along the sandy shore or a coffee at a beachside café can be all it takes for me to find a more positive state of mind.

In addition, the twilight zone between day and night holds a magical charm, which I experienced often as I sat alone, in the early evening, on the terrace of my home in East Jerusalem, overlooking the undulating olive groves. The dusky twilight seems to me to be a moment when the veil between the rational and the transrational (spiritual) realms is very thin, almost transparent. If there is any such thing as a parallel universe, I would wager that an access point is through the twilight seam. Continue reading