"Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitute wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there." Meister Eckhart (12th Century mystic)
Sometimes, it isn't easy to understand why we are so profoundly moved. Visiting the 9-11 Memorial in New York City touched us this way. Perhaps it was because we visited it for the first time since the event happened. Maybe it was because our visit was within the week of today, the 22nd anniversary.
The moment we reached ground level after getting off the subway, the new Freedom Tower reached high into the heavens as we walked across the street to the memorial. This building that replaced the Twin Towers...
I first encountered a Hindu meditating in the temple in Chennai, my native city. My staunch Roman Catholic father did not force me to attend church or to take Catechism classes, but he became concerned about my Hinduness in later years. When I was five, we moved to an orthodox Hindu neighborhood, and my parents enrolled me in the Hindu school nearby. These were among the best years of my life because the influence of Hinduism affected every part of my life. However, my connection to Hinduism is much deeper than the circumstances of my childhood.
In traditional Hindu temples, seeing men and women sitting in deep meditation is expected. You may see them sitting outside one of the shrines within the temple complex. Sometimes, they are positioned alongside the outer wall after you enter the central courtyard. Some you will find within the exterior of the inner sanctum. No matter where they are seated, the depth of their absorption is striking.
Now these are not gurus or yogis or...
Pradosham, an especially auspicious evening time associated with Shaivite observances. April 3, the day this blog was created, was "Soma (crescent moon) Pradosham."
Pradosham often involves fasting to raise the bar on spiritual practice, and I explain why and how in the tutorial. Using the esteemed Panchakshara (five-syllabled) mantra (Om) Namah Shivaya is of equal importance, so I give you some tips on how to enhance its effect. It's all in the tutorial right here:
Fasting is used on pradosham to enhance our spiritual practice because the word "doṣa" is a defect, specifically something that can cause us harm. Pradosham is our monthly cycle to cleanse our karmas and purify, which is why the esteemed Panchakshara (five-syllabled) mantra (Om) Namah Shivaya is used to invoke blessing.
The word "Shiva " in Sanskrit means "auspicious," a word that is not in common parlance today, meaning "favorable," a presence that blesses us and ensures successful outcomes.
If you like stories and lessons learned from life, this blog is for you. On the one hand, it is an invitation to engage in self-discovery on the order of bija mantras for the chakras. And on the other hand, it encourages you, the seeker and the practitioner, to not take anyone's word for granted but to seek and discover the truth for yourself.
The Buddha taught:
"Believe nothing because a wise man said it,
Believe nothing because it is generally held.
(and there'e more to this quote below...)
It was called Y2K: the year 2000. People were terrified that something terrible would happen at the turn of the millennium, particularly around digital clocks not resetting and the chaos ensuing. But, paradoxically, my life was getting exciting. Just the year before, I had recorded my album Nada Yoga at an incredible studio deep in the California redwoods. Kenny was an engineer who recorded the Grateful Dead and many other greats. I was excited about a multiple-album contract...
Among many epithets, Shiva is Yogeshwara, the Lord of Yoga. Here's a way to connect our Yoga practice to the Shiva principle and the ancient lineage of Shavite spirituality known as the Agama.
On pilgrimage this year, Yoga became an important component because Yoga is essential to spiritual realization and practice in Indian spirituality. It is also at the top of the pyramid structure we developed for our training in India and as we advance into this year upon our return. Last but not least, most of our pilgrims this year were yoga teachers.
Upon my return yesterday, I put together a practice late at night, one that ties into the theme of the Sacred Masculine, particularly in the wake of Shiva Ratri recently, but also because it is an essential theme in our tri-part approach in Yogic Mystery School, the others being the Divine Feminine, and the Holy Divanihum, which you will hear more about in the near future.
Here is how I put my practice together the day of my return to the...
Are you ready to TAP the POWER of Maha Shiva Ratri on Feb 18? Then, prepare for this momentous event by understanding how to engage your spiritual practice on this auspicious night.
The word “rātri” means night, so this is the night of Shiva. Technically, it occurs once a month on the day before the new moon, so there are twelve such nights each year. Maha means great! The Great Night Of Shiva, which often occurs in February or March, is exceptional. In a nod to Tolkien, it is a night to rule them all.
The night and the moon have a special place in spiritual practices associated with Lord Shiva. For those who have a solid connection to feminist spiritual traditions, like Wicca or Paganism, it would be refreshing that a male deity is associated so strongly with the full moon, usually with goddess worship.
Shiva has a strong feminine side to him. He is also ardhanari, the half-lord, who is half-woman, featured with one breast and posturing an...
Greetings from India! Here, at the ashram on the banks of the holy Cauvery river, we’ve been training in mantras, tapping sincerely into the spirit of the Upanishads. However, it is not just the mantras in themselves that are feeding our souls, but everything else we are doing, particularly our visits to the temples.
In the Mastery of Mantra, I am sharing updates on the Taitirreya Upanishad broken up into parts featuring learning the speech word-by-word, the chanting (also broken down), then put together in easy-to-chant phrases, and finally, the translation for each piece. This text is often used in the traditional Veda Patashalas to teach cadence.
The first section is Shiksha Valli, literally “the teaching of pronunciation.” I am training our pilgrims in the various parts of this section here in India through a live process that is in keeping with tradition thousands of years old. Our method is that of the Krishna Yajur Veda’s Taitirreya Shaka, which is...
Each time we circumambulate around the central shrine of a Shiva temple, we encounter a row of 63 mysterious stone statues clothed and venerated with sacred markings. As Nada Yogis, practitioners of sacred sound, these esteemed spiritual personages are of profound significance to us. And here's why:
Between the 6th and 8th centuries, a wave of devotion across India developed into the Bhakti movement of the middle ages. Interestingly, the movement's origins coincided with the Muslim invasions, whose strong beliefs about graven images destroyed many Hindu temples and statues. This detail is relevant solely to the context of the extraordinary calling of these hounds of Shiva, who helped inspire devotion under extenuating circumstances.
These musician saints and poets of the Bhakti period inspired a wave of devotion in India's early medieval period while helping to preserve the stories and the philosophies of Hinduism. Furthermore, they ingeniously expressed in the vernacular (local...
While we learn about trust, faith, and surrender in everyday life, they are the hallmarks of the pilgrim's progress. On pilgrimage, we learn about these processes in extraordinary ways that differ from when we understand these processes amid the vicissities of everyday life. Here is an account of what has transpired recently and powerful lessons from life's teaching over the past three years.
When we returned from India in 2020, we had completed 22 consecutive years of pilgrimage to India, taking a group of our students to visit temples and holy spots while living at Bede Griffith's idyllic ashram on the banks of the sacred Cauvery river in Tamilnadu. Then, in early March of that year, covid began. It was terrifying: no vaccine to protect immunity, an enormous daily death toll, and no drugs to combat the illness.
Three years passed with a deep longing for the spiritual energy that feeds our souls in India. While we experience the power of India's significance in the west through our...
I'm sure there is much about Shiva that you know. However, here are three things about "Shiva" that, even if you did know, are expanded upon with new information, or at the very least, some new associations.
Each year, we make a pilgrimage to India, where we visit many Shiva temples. We are there now with our students exploring our spiritual practice together in community. The mystery of Shiva is also one of the essential tracks in our Yogic Mystery School called "Sacred Masculine."
Shiva, the God, is part of a vast pantheon of Gods and Goddesses within the Hindu spiritual framework. But there's also a very different sense of Shiva's deictic nature. Shiva, within Shaivism, one of Hinduism's principal traditions, is also the absolute supreme being, which means Shiva is more than a God: He is the creator of this universe, a bit like the Biblical Yahweh.
And it is not just the power of creation that he wields, but that of...