"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)
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...
The cusp between year-end and year-beginning is a time for reflection and resolution. Often, world events do not necessarily influence our formulations of what shapes our decisions for self-improvement in the coming year.
Here are three examples:
1) Acknowledging and engaging conflict within ourselves
2) Working for the upliftment of the feminine in all areas
3) Being responsible for emotional climatic conditions
WISHING YOU A BLESSED AND PURPOSEFUL 2023!
Asha & Russill
It is Diwali, among the most auspicious times for Hindus, a festival that celebrates the triumph of spiritual light over the darkness. So it is time for festivities and fireworks, a joyous occasion. We hope you can feel the blessing of this moment when the stars and deities configure to grant us prosperity and well-being.
Without throwing a dampener on this blessed time of the year, new developments in the world reminiscent of two world wars cast a shadow that is impossible to ignore, especially as civilians and utilities come under direct fire. So pray for the resolution of conflict in Ukraine, peace in our world, and prosperity and well-being for all.
Here is an appropriate mantra to chant:
oṁ sarveṣāṁ svastir-bhavatu
sarveṣāṁ pūrnaṁ bhavatu
sarveṣāṁ maṇgalaṁ bhavatu
oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
May all be blessed with well-being.
May peace prevail in our world.
May all beings be deeply fulfilled.
May prosperity be bestowed on all.
Om Peace Peace Peace
ॐ सरवेषां सवस...
We need meaningful spiritual practice in uncertain times. One of those practices is called Likhita Japa.
You can write mantras in any language. Sanskrit, however, is particularly well suited for this purpose. The script is called Devanagiri from the root "deva" for divine beings and "nagara," meaning a place or city. Each letter, therefore, is a dwelling place for divinity.
As you write the mantra, relax your mind and bring your heart into the process. Find a way to connect to something deeper and more than yourself. In other words, find a way, your way, to connect meaningfully to the divine.
You can learn to write the mantra Om Namah Shivaya in this example. At first, look at the shape of the letters and copy them. Later, once you get used to their forms, you can recall them from memory.
You can also say the words aloud as you write them to feel the vibrations as you create them on paper. "Shiva" means blessing, so remember that as you write the word. You may write other...