"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)
Navaratri means nine nights, an auspicious time of the year to invoke Durga. Durga is a form of the Ultimate Shakti, which is the feminine Godhead. All women (and especially disempowered women) should tap into this identification with Ultimate Reality and the formidable sense of power Shakti conveys.
Shakti is the ultimate principle of life that is both feminine and powerful. Durga represents the formidable power of this Ultimate Shakti, coalesced into symbolic form with multiple arms and weapons and riding a tiger (or lion). She is a warrior goddess whose very name translates as a fortress unto herself.
There are three Durga mantras in varying levels of complexity I would like to suggest. These are not necessarily Navaratri mantras; however, they can and will help you tap the power of Durga and the significance of this Shakti at this time.
That's a good starting point. This mantra develops the...
Over many millennia, humans have used sound and music for healing in cultures around the world. Shamans are the perfect example. With their rattles, drums, and vocalizing, they invoke a spirit or take the person in need of healing into a dimension not known in ordinary states of consciousness. In the 1600s, the western world learned of such conditions through trance-induced yogis who could sleep on a bed of nails and offered cures to various ailments. Later, in the 60s, non-ordinary states of consciousness were associated with psychedelic drugs such as LSD used by hippies. Unfortunately, neither of these examples does justice to the healing power of non-ordinary states. At the same time, we need to take care not to be quick to assume that any non-ordinary state achieved by any means can be helpful to our healing. Finally, we might like to add that a certain maturity is necessary to approach the process with integrity. This article is about such maturity and integration.
First published in Common Ground May/June 2021 as "The Yoga of Sound: Mantras and Creativity"
When repeating a mantra is boring,
here's how to enliven your practice.
Today, there is widespread interest in kirtan and in mantra chanting, especially within the yoga community. It is as though Western yoga has discovered its soul through these expressions. And there is a lot of creativity happening with mantras, which while good in some ways, can compromise the power and potency of mantras on the other. Creativity, however, is important! It is in itself a form of healing. Mantras too are a form of healing. How then do we bring the two together—mantras and creativity?
Health, we are fast realizing, is not simply the absence of disease: it is a condition of soul that invigorates our being, enabling us to derive the most from life. Also, the effects of yoga as well as of sound vibrations upon our health and well-being have garnered credibility in recent decades....
Today, May 13, we remember the death anniversary of our esteemed mentor Bede Griffiths. In this remembrance, we want to recall his quality of Presence.
Bede often quoted from the Rig Veda, a passage that found its way into the Upanishads as well:
"I know that Great Person who shines beyond the darkness, whose glory is more luminous than the brightness of the sun. In knowing this Supreme Person, this Purusha, we go beyond death. There is no other way (to eternal life)."
Bede was a Catholic priest and Benedictine monk who made his home in India, where we, Asha and I, first met him. Later, he would come and spend a third of the year with us in the United States. He did this for three consecutive years until his death in 1993. At that time, we were not sufficiently aware of the honor and privilege of someone like him making his home with us. We were young and inexperienced. He left a lasting impression upon us, though, particularly his quality of Presence.
Bede practiced the practice of...
Amid this pandemic comes a bright flash of color. Holi is a festival that celebrates divine love. Although it originates in India, Holi spread to other parts of the world.
There are three main themes to this festival:
A Celebration of Spring
Love of Radha and Krishna
Triumph of Good over Evil
Holi marks the beginning of spring. Although many states are still in winter here in the US, Texas is celebrating some sense of spring. It has been a rough winter for many Texans unprepared for snow combined with sub-zero temperatures. Matthew McConaughey is doing much to keep the damage, most inside homes, in people's minds.
The Holi story that touches my heart is that of Prahalad. This young boy has a deep connection to God despite his father's efforts to remove all divine reminders in the palace. King Hiranyakashipu, the boy's father, is powerful beyond measure and has no humility. At the end of the story, Lord Vishnu, Prahalad's God, destroy's the king. Prahalad's story is about the...
In this blog, you understand when devotional mantras are helpful to the healing process and when they are not a good part of the solution.
Devotion, from the human perspective, is our ability to appreciate the presence of another. In this sense, a husband might be "devoted" to his wife, a mother to her child. In eastern spirituality, there is also devotion to a guru, a teacher who can be seen and heard.
However, the most profound form of devotion in spirituality is developing a relationship with the unseen, the invisible. How, though, do we develop such a capacity? One way, and a somewhat effective way at that, is to develop devotion in and through our voice.
Bhakti is the cultivation of devotion through the voice, but relating this sensitivity to something hidden and mysterious. While there are "forms" in Bhakti, the forms only serve to mediate that which is formless.
The Bhakti approach to mantras is a specific category or stream within the overall sacred sound system in Indian...
Every day, we wake up, live our lives, and go to sleep. We never know what is going to happen. It is tough to align ourselves with what matters when we are confused by current events or circumstances as with covid, or matters of social unrest.
Human life has value because it is a medium for consciousness to evolve. The constitution of the United States places a high value on human life and dignity. Recent events in the US capitol building, however, have left many of us unsettled.
Below, is an audio vision meditation to help us tap into what matters at this time. It is not your typical meditation experience, so here is some context:
At first, some of the questions might feel probing, even unsettling. Relax—there is no need to answer them with your conscious mind.
Meditation is usually meant to help quiet our minds. But sometimes, meditation can also help us think deeply.
Does it matter that we exist in another human's mind? If someone thinks well or negatively of...
“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.”
-- Guy Finley
Our Yogic Mystery School went on a short winter break. We are excited to reconnect with students and those on our list with this short 3-minute audio message...
Note: After creating and uploading the message yesterday, to share with you today, we read the unsettling news of events in DC this morning. Although only half our students reside within the US, we ask that, no matter where you live, please hold the US in your prayers at this time.
What if someone told you that your voice is the barometer of your Soul? Would you agree that every condition and quality present in your Soul is reflected in the sound of your voice?
The difference in life experience in an elderly person's voice and a teenager's voice immediately registers upon us, no matter what they say. An elderly person may say something frivolous, yet, we sense maturity in that voice. A teenage, on the other hand, may say something profound. However, we still hear the immaturity of life experience in that voice. Of course, there are always exceptions, moments when something profound comes through a person's voice, no matter what age.
When we examine these moments of profundity closely, we notice a quality of presence that accompanies the voice in these instances. We want to work towards such a quality of presence in ourselves that is a refinement of self. And we discover this more significant presence, this sense of Soul, through the expression of a voice that...
As we approach the winter, there are many festivals that point to the incarnation of divine presence within our world to help rebalance the distribution of ignorance and wisdom.
This day marks the triumph of the light over the darkness. If you can remember the opening line from the Gospel of John, the light of divine presence cannot be overcome by darkness.
Dussehra, derived from the number ten in Sanskrit (daśa) and verb for killing (hara) is built around the story of Rama (also a word derived from the root for light) kills Ravana, a ten-headed demon. In the Hindu mind-set, this is not a story in the sense of something made up. It is a way of pointing to actual reality.
The holy day is also called Vijayadashami, occuring during what is astrologically known as śukla pakṣa (the luminious fortnight) that conincides with Navaratri, a nine-night festival in which the triumph of good over evil is celebrated through the goddess Durga, herself an incarnation of the Supreme...