Tantra, the Song of Life

My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame 
and place them before the altar of thy temple.
No, I will never shut the doors of my senses. 
The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight
.” 
~ Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali)

 

For anyone interested in uncovering the true nature of his or her being, some pathways exist to travel – motionlessly – from being identified to an imaginary sense of self to being established in the real, forgotten, and only self there is: consciousness. These pathways correspond to the different components of our living experience, namely thinking, feeling, and sensing. I have, in previous texts, endeavoured to explore the path of understanding, or Jñāna, that is derived from the exercice of thinking, and the path of love, or Bhakti, born out of feeling. The last pathway to explore is the one that comes through our senses, which is everything we see, hear, touch, taste or smell, everything that is seemingly outside of ourselves and that we have named by the generic term of the ‘world’. This path is best described in India through what is called ‘Tantra’, which after the two other pathways, is one that is all encompassing, that invites the world in, or in Atmananda Krishna Menon’s words brings “the universal under the individual.”

The idea behind tantra is that the world, the totality of our experience, need not be pushed away, or dreaded as an obstacle, but is also a doorway as is the exercice of thought in jñāna, or feeling and devotion in bhakti. The whole world is a possibility because although it is often experienced as an objective reality, it is also the expression or creation of a subjective presence and can therefore be used to trace back and uncover the reality of our own being. We must define what we mean by the world. In any given time or place, we experience a totality. A group of forms and experiences is presented to us and these form the totality of what exists in any given moment. What is this totality and what is it made of? What is this play of forms? Does it have a separate existence? These questions are at the core of the tantric path. If the world, the body, the feelings – our whole experience – are not what we have but what we are, then it opens up a whole new set of possibilities in understanding and accessing our true nature. “Every object is the footprint of God.” says Rupert Spira. …

An exploration into the nature of the tantric path… (READ MORE…)

 

Bhakti, the Song of Love

Don’t forget love;
it will bring all the madness you need 
to unfurl yourself across the universe
.”
~ Meera Bai (1498-1546)

 

I intend here to continue exploring the three different pathways towards realising our true nature. I have some time ago given my attention to Jñāna, which in the Indian tradition is the name given to the means of attaining truth through the investigative qualities of the mind, which are mostly thinking and the power of discrimination. The two other paths towards realisation are the tantric path, which involves the senses, and the path of love, which involves feeling, and is the subject of this essay.

The path of knowledge requires a certain steadiness, orderliness, being thorough, constant. But even somebody set on this logical path of knowledge will be exposed to ineffable, timeless moments of pure love. Some people are best suited to a more loving, encompassing pathway, that would allow them to be just as they are, with all their confusion and overwhelming feelings. I can be the me that I am, as long as I am too this loving, embracing presence to which I can offer myself. In love there is no theory, no guidelines to follow. And it is not a surprise to find this expression of truth as one of the means to the realisation of our true self. This pathway of love has been called ‘Bhakti’ in the tradition of India. All the Indian faith, at least in its more popular expression, is of a devotional nature, and has elevated this simple love for god or truth to the rank of art. That seemed to me a good starting point to embark on this path of devotion, which the Śivānanda Laharī (verse 61) describes as: “The way needle seeks magnet, the way creeper seeks tree, the way river unites with ocean and the way the mind seeks the lotus feet of Śiva.”

An exploration into Bhakti, the path of love and devotion (READ MORE…)

 

Kissing the Toad

Here is a reminder inspired from the words of Rupert Spira. It is necessary and terribly efficient to look into these matters for ourselves. This is why I like to share here the parts of a spiritual teaching that sounds like ‘something to do’, something to experiment and verify for ourselves:

See that you never really meet your uncomfortable feelings, that you are always avoiding them by activities, thinking… Try to be brave, turn around, and face the feeling. Welcome it, invite it in, be interested, get to know it… Experience for yourself the power of courage and avoidance… See how the avoiding of the fear, or of anything, is worse than the fear, or the thing itself… See how the facing of any uncomfortable feeling that you have has a releasing effect…

~~~

Further exploring on the subject:

The instrument of your torture, the thing which once threatened to break your spirit, eventually becomes your salvation, even wakes you up, to presence, to gratitude, to the miracle of creation. When we turn to fearlessly face apparent darkness we may discover only undivided light, find a part of ourselves longing for love. Freedom lies not in escaping into the Absolute but in affirming life as it is – in consummating our marriage to our humanity, including all its trials and tribulations, and knowing God as the unbreakable principle present even in our pain, that which holds us even when we cannot hold ourselves.” 
~ Jeff Foster

~

Just trace your feelings back to their counterpart in the body as sensation, and then trace these sensations back to this luminous empty knowing. It’s all that’s there. This luminous empty knowing, the stuff out of which these sensations is made, to know that, to touch that – THAT is the experience of happiness, or peace. The happiness we seek lives at the heart of our deepest, darkest feelings. We don’t find happiness by avoiding our deepest, darkest feelings and trying to replace them with another kind of feeling. We do the opposite, we trace our way back deeper and deeper and deeper, to go right to the heart of the feeling where we expect to find the monster – the one that is really responsible for our feelings. We never find the monster. If it recurs, then meet these recurring feelings with this recurring exploration. In other words, meet it with your experience. Your feelings cannot stand the truth of your experience. In the end, they have to bow down. They will in time bow down.” 
~ Rupert Spira

~

Eventually, it occurs to me to stop trying to do (or not do) anything, to give up the search for a solution or a distraction, to simply be present, to allow everything to be just exactly as it is. Suddenly it becomes possible to completely surrender to the actuality of Here / Now, to resist nothing, not even the compulsive biting of my fingers if that is what is happening. Instantly, I feel the heart open. This is the end of grasping and seeking, the end of resisting and avoiding, the end of trying to fix myself and be somebody else, the end of trying to figure it all out or get the right conceptual map nailed down. This is not knowing anything and not needing to know. Suddenly there is no problem anymore. There is no me. There is only this undivided, spacious presence that includes everything, just as it is. Everything is okay, even fingerbiting or feelings of uneasiness or anxiety. Nothing needs to be other than how it is, and when there is complete openness to how it is, I find it is no particular way at all. Everything is moving and changing and dissolving. There is a huge sense of relief. The problem was imaginary.”
~ Joan Tollifson

~

If we trace our suffering back far enough,
there, right at its heart, right at its origin,
we find the experience of peace and happiness
which we were previously seeking
by avoiding the suffering.
The moment we kiss the toad,
it turns into the prince.”
~ Rupert Spira

 

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The picture is by Helena Cuerva/Pixabay

Bibliography:
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The Way of Rest: Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love’ – by Jeff Foster – (Sounds True)
– ‘Nothing to Grasp’ – by Joan Tollifson – (Nonduality Press)

Websites:
Rupert Spira
Joan Tollifson
Jeff Foster

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)