Energetic Mechanism

The Teacher and Unconditional Love

The reason I teach you about the breath is to train you to hold your mind in a singular space while you are excavating some depth of contact within yourself. I talk about chakras and channels because while you are trying to make a deeper contact with yourself, what you will discover is that there are particular places in you where your experience is stronger. Then, in time, you might discover that there is a very complex and sophisticated set of energetic systems that have become you. Paying attention to that energetic system, what you will come to understand is that the only constant in life is change. That change is expressed as flow, and the flow in you is a part of a bigger flow around you. That flow is part of an even bigger flow that exists on a cosmic scale.

Swami Chetanananda at darshan

Swami Chetanananda at darshan

The universe is in us, we are in the universe, and the essence of it all is love. I don’t mean the kind of love that they’re singing about on the rock and roll radio--although that’s not excluded. The love I’m talking about is bigger than that, much bigger than that.

Here is where the teacher comes in. Where else are you going to find someone who has dedicated their life to excavatinmg themself from the mountain of tension that their parents imparted to them, to become a deeply loving person on a scale that is difficult for our mind to imagine? It’s not very common.

If you find such a person, you have the possibility of connecting in a dynamic system that will begin to bring out the best in you. I think about that wonderful song by Joni Mitchell that goes something like, “All I really, really want our love to do….is to bring out the best in me and in you too.”  It might sound ordinary, but in fact when you have genuinely loving people in your life who are trying to be the best that they can, that also creates the context, the environment, the understanding that allows you to bring out the best in yourself. In America, where everything that’s happening increasingly becomes all about money and not about caring, it’s a rare thing. So, what do you do with a teacher?

I think the simplest thing is to hold in your awareness that the teacher is really not a thing but a process. People aren’t things: people are processes. Your body will not be tomorrow what it was yesterday. It is a process. Hold the awareness of the process of the teacher in your heart and mind, and allow that connection to remind you and to energize you at times to bring out the best in you, too.

I’m not much for giving do’s and don’ts to people. There are a couple of reasons. The first is that nobody’s ever paid attention to me when I tried. So I thought it was a reasonable thing to give up, because the truth is I struggled with the do’s and don’ts myself, and I have come to understand that do’s and don’ts are really only suggestions. Most of us have a deep need to put ourselves in shit up to our eyebrows from time to time, and that’s okay. You either will survive it or you won’t, and in either case it’s fine.

The second reason I don’t pay attention to do’s and don’ts is that because in this experience of growing, we’re going to awaken places in ourselves that we’ve never experienced, we’re going to have experiences that there is no model for, and we’re going to go places we never even imagined existed. In that process, we will definitely make mistakes, and mistakes are fine. Mistakes are easily overcome if we can return to that best place in ourselves and open our hearts again, and if somebody was offended we say, “I’m sorry.” It’s that easy.

The extraordinary love that is available from within us is amazingly resilient. It is at times and at its boundaries delicate and fragile, and requires some care, but it is astonishingly resilient. It is completely alive. So, if you have a teacher, hold that teacher in your heart and mind and feel that presence and that process and flow in it.

That’s a complicated way of saying love me and I’ll love you back. But I said it in a complicated way because if I just say it simply people will think this is something that isn’t profound. It’s difficult to appreciate the profundity of the opportunity to hold a real connection in unconditional love. Having a teacher is about love, it’s not about anything else. If you can find that love in yourself and grow it, what you will discover is that it is an energy, it is a force, it is a power that is truly extraordinary and will bless you with numerous unimaginable possibilities. 

Feel What You Can Feel

The spiritual work I teach is not hard, but it does require a persistent effort. It doesn’t take an enormous effort. Sometimes managing yourself might take some time, but this shouldn’t be exhausting. It’s simple.

The simple effort is to feel…and don’t try to be a superstar. What I encourage my students to do is simply feel what you can feel. Bring your attention to your body, bring your attention to your heart, bring your attention to your breath, feel what you can feel.  Here’s what happens if you feel what’s available to you to feel: in a little while, maybe not tomorrow or the next day, what’s going to happen is that you are going to feel what’s underneath what you’re feeling now.

We think we are doing.  We think “I am doing this thing, I am doing that thing, I’m doing so many things.” It’s possible that, in fact, there is only one awareness and many minds. It’s possible, in fact, that there is only one life on the Earth and that is the life of the total environment of the Earth. There’s only one life. Every living thing on the Earth might just be just an effect of that one life.  Maybe it’s true, and it’s up to you to decide.

So, as you feel what you can feel, with the understanding that you’re not doing it, you become aware that there’s something deeper at work.  As you feel just what’s available to you, slowly, the flow that arises within you, from the release of tension, informs you of that deeper happening.  Having experienced that, you go…wow!  It’s that experience that inspires you and carries you into a new layer of practice and a deeper commitment to your work, and a deeper appreciation of the benefit of the extraordinary abundance that is available to you.

Trying to be a superstar is just making more tension. You might think, “Oh, I’m going to hit a home run and be a Tantric master tomorrow.” Don’t.  If you just feel what you feel, what you discover within the experience that you’re having is discovering  dimensions of subtlety that are astonishingly beautiful. They are beautiful enough that a little contact with them will sustain you as you go through all of the uncomfortable structural reorganization that happens as you come from the state of tension that you’re in to a state of flow. So, just feel what you can feel and keep coming back to it and feeling--feeling your body and feeling your breath and feeling your heart.  Feeling, feeling, feeling, is the key.

This practice reveals within you dimensions of information, a range of awareness, a visionary capability that allows you to have a completely different perspective on the problems that we face. It also makes available to you simple solutions to those problems, naturally available in your environment, and has attached to it the abundance that will easily allow those solutions to assert themselves in the field of your experience.

Once you get the hang of it, you will find that inside you is experience, outside you is experience. It turns out that subject, object and means of knowing are a total unity. Your experience is totally integrated into the universal experience.  The abundance that created the Universe has created you, and aligning yourself in that total experience allows miracles to manifest as your life. It’s natural. It doesn’t require too much work. It just requires a persistent, conscious effort.

The Stages of Tantric Practice

In a talk given at the Movement Center on November 16, 2013, Swamiji discussed the historical context for the emergence of tantric sadhana as well as the stages of tantric practice. 

Here is an excerpt from that talk (clicking on the image will take you to the YouTube video):

SC Tantric Sadhana

The full version (a one hour, 45 minute talk) is available for purchase for $19.95.

Opening Deeply to Life

In the entire universe, everything is energy in one of two forms: conscious energy and structured energy. As energy becomes increasingly structured, its range of awareness is decreased and it becomes more dense. Conscious energy can be called Shiva. Structured energy can be called Shakti. All phenomena are structured energy in various degrees of density that arise and subside in the one infinite field of unlimited conscious energy.

Breaking down our own density, dissolving tensions, and allowing our creative energy to grow automatically brings growth. Growth is characterized by change, which affords us the opportunity for an expanded range of motion–physically, emotionally, intellectually, and energetically. Ultimately, it gives us access to the dimension of our existence that is conscious energy and in which all knowledge of past, present and future is inherent.

The conscious effort to grow is really very simple. It is to open within ourselves every single day and to awaken the energy channels, and their junction points, the chakras, and allow ourselves to absorb the experiences of our life as energy. We take everything in our field of experience as energy into ourselves and break it down. We break down all of our thoughts about it, attitudes towards it, and judgments about it. Taking it all in as energy is opening to it, being nourished by it, and learning from it at the same time.

opening to sunriseWe have to learn from experience at a deeper level than it is manifesting. If we are taking in something on the level that is manifesting, we are only building resistance to it. It’s only when we can detach ourselves slightly from the circumstances in which we live that we can begin to understand it is all nourishment. We can take it in and be grateful for our life, as it is.

It is our life as it is that has the potential to nourish us. It is not our life as we want it to be, or we wish it was, or it should have been. All that stuff has nothing to do with anything. Our life as it is has the potential to nourish us if we can reach into ourselves, open ourselves more deeply than the circumstances we are relating to are manifesting, and draw this energy, this whole experience, within ourselves and be nourished and taught by it.

I hear lots of people talk about the inner teacher, but I have yet to meet one person who had a clue what they are talking about. It is just some garbage that people throw out as a way of saying , “I already know everything and I don’t need to hear anything from you.” The inner teacher is that part of us which has the capacity to open more deeply to our life than it is manifesting on and take it in as energy and be nourished by it. This is Rudi’s fundamental teaching.

Simply put, if we can make contact with our own energetic mechanism, consciously open that mechanism and the chakras and set everything in motion, the tensions will start to dissolve and break down. We will start to experience within ourselves a sweetness and a gratitude that will allow for us to heal from all of the strain patterns and trauma that we have experienced in our life. This deep and profound healing can only take place when we take responsibility for opening ourselves, taking in the nourishment, transcending and dissolving every kind of tension, and simply being grateful for being alive.

Creative Commons image courtesy of Jeff Poquinto, SA on Flickr

Cultivating Creative Capacity

My guru, Rudi, completely appreciated the creative capacity of life itself as demonstrated through human beings. He appreciated human beings who were able to rise above the limitations of their circumstance and find, even in the simplest ways, some creative capacities that they could begin to demonstrate. Those capacities were ones that they could cultivate and grow for the sake, ultimately, of liberating themselves from their own constraints. Rudi’s teaching was an expression of the appreciation that he had for that capacity.

Thumbnail for 2005One of the main things I learned from Rudi is that what we are trying to come to understand is the most fundamental basis of our existence. Underneath this physical body and this mind there is a subtle body. You could also call it an energetic mechanism. There is a creative capacity, a power, an energy, which has organized itself for the purpose of expressing us. Rather than wasting our lives, struggling with our desires, it would be wonderful if we could begin to commit ourselves to the realization of this creative capacity, and connecting to it, cultivate that awakening and follow it where ever it is and wants to take us, because none of us get the life that we think we want.

We all have the life we have. That life never becomes someone else’s life. It’s always going to be our life. Without a conscious effort to connect to that life and discover what that life has in store for us, without surrendering our resistance, and our doubts and fears and tensions and coming into contact with that vibrancy of life, and realizing the fullness, the abundance, the unimaginable possibility that it has for us, we spend our lives struggling over what amounts to a pile of rabbit pellets.

You can think of 99% of the things that you worry about as a pile of rabbit pellets, because that’s about how important those things actually are. And at the end of the day, the first heavy rain is going to wash it all away. It will be as if it never existed.

Rudi was all about the energy. He wasn’t the slightest bit interested in his own, or anybody else’s imagination of what their problem was. He was only interested in people who were willing to commit themselves to, and work to connect to, to cultivate their awareness of, their own subtle rainbow body and the creative energy of this living event, which is our essence, and to grow the voltage and the volume of that creative energy to the degree that it could hold and express the entire range of subtle frequencies.

By Swami Chetanananda

Be Delighted

My perspective on Rudi’s teaching is that so much of what he was talking about was really about detachment. What he meant by detachment was that we are not engaged in all of the petty drama craziness in any issue we have to relate to in our day or in our life. Rather, we are taking the energy of all of our circumstances and absorbing it deeply within ourselves, for the purpose of awakening our energetic mechanism and bringing about a continual change of state within us. That change of state should bring us into the awareness of the vastness and the potential that is present within us. It should bring us into the awareness that our essence and the essence of life is unconditional love.

Swami Chetanananda with garland after havanEverything other than love arises from the absence of alignment in love. In that absence of alignment, the ego, and its agent, desire, hijack the power of love. The ego and its agent hijack the energy and transform it into fear and greed and anger.

But this experience of detachment, which should liberate us from desire, doesn’t mean that we have to suppress our desires. Suppressing anything is not a good thing. I think, generally speaking, suppression is the basis of all pathology. Rudi’s work and tantrism in general would never support the idea of suppressing anything, Rather, it’s about transformation–transforming our desires into the experience of inspiration and the realization of unconditional love from within ourselves.

It’s perfectly wonderful for everybody to enjoy their life. You can experience delight in any of the ways that are appropriate to you. It’s fine. I’m taking this line from Rumi slightly out of his context, but I would say “Ours is not a caravan of despair.” Be delighted…and bravo for that.

In your experience of delight, remain in the awareness of your own energetic mechanism. Relate to delight as nourishment and quite consciously absorb it more deeply into you because certainly in the environment of delight, tensions dissolve much more easily. Energy becomes nourishment more easily, and your whole physical mechanism will allow for transformation to take place. It will happen much more efficiently than if you’re constantly under pressure and stress and fretting and worry about this thing and that thing.

Nothing to be Done

Spring is a time to be completely grateful to be able to connect to and feel what we are—that we are connected to the earth and connected to the seasons and the air that we are breathing. So many people just have no clue about any of this. Not only that, people live in their tiny little patterns of tension, which they have no understanding of, and no sense of what is possible for them in their own lives, the richness that is available to them, if they could only like take a breath and actually feel it.

Thumbnail for 1954How simple is that? To just be able to take a breath and feel it. And then take another breath and feel that. And another breath. And feel that. If we just remembered to feel the breath that we’re breathing then all of the things that we get entangled in every single day, all the stuff that we want that we are not getting, and all the stuff that we don’t want, would just fall away. We would feel what is really alive in us.

Our lives are so filled with paradoxes that, for most people, the circuit breaker gets thrown in the family about 18 generations ago and it never gets turned on again. It just genetically stays turned off, because basically there appears to be many, and in this appearance of many, it appears to be complicated. But, in fact, in the appearance of many, there is only one, and in the appearance of all complication there is utter, utter, utter simplicity.

There appears to be so much that we need to do, and yet there is nothing to be done. If we could only understand that while there may be actions that we have to carry out, there may be some things, some cleanups that we have to do, there really is nothing that has to be done. In the release of all of this accumulated stress of the complexity that we have to deal with and the alienation from the many and the struggle with the things that need to be done, if we could just release all that, we would have the energy to simply be aware of our breath.

As we become more relaxed and in our bodies, we will be able to feel the extraordinary vibrancy of the breath within us, and we will experience the subtle breath within our breathing. Attending to, having the energy to hold our mind present in our bodies and in our breath and the subtlety that is within our breath, we will become aware of this profound and sacred potentiality that is present within us, present within our life, present within and around us everywhere. It only requires our attention in order for it to begin to coalesce into a creative energy that expresses itself into some unimaginable transformation in the field of our experience.

So, everyday for just a little while, however long is appropriate to you, sit down and really relax your body and bring your awareness into it. Bringing your awareness into your body, become aware of your breath. With the awareness of your breath, take some time, be aware, bring your mind back over and over again until you have the sense of the vibrancy that is within that breath and the sophisticated pathways by which that breath is articulating your mind and your body. You will understand that this body is not yours, that this mind is not yours, that the many don’t exist, that the complexity is a delusion, that the struggle is suffering, nothing but suffering. Suffering is nothing but your imagination, and relief from it all is available whenever you are ready. Fortunately for everybody, this is not rocket science. This is utterly simple and available to anyone who choses to engage it.

Removing the Wrapping

When we are born, it’s as if we come out and are immediately wrapped in a tight plastic coating. If you have ever stood at a meat counter and watched the guys in the back cut the meat and put it in a plastic wrap that’s really tight, you’ll have an idea of what it is like for us when we are born.  We are wrapped in a tight package of tensions that I call the disappointments of our ancestors.  This ligamentous sack has in its wrapping all of tensions of our parents, and their parents, and their parents, as well as of our culture and society.

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All of this wrapping becomes the limitation of our ability to see what is happening in the world around us or even to connect to it.  For the most part, we go through our lives, living in this sack and seeing the world through this set of tensions, which we both react to and are constrained by.  We never figure out what is going on among human beings, this planet or anything else.

We live in this sack, which profoundly limits us, until somebody comes along who can take the sack away—someone who can cut the cellophane off, who can open the package, and who can begin to energize the life that is constrained in that wrapping and bring it more completely to life.  That’s basically what I do, and what this experience of eyes-open meditation that I am sharing with you is.  It is cutting away at the wrapper. This meditation practice is an energy exchange that liberates life from the limitations imposed upon it by generations of brutality. Slowly, or as quickly as each of you can possibly take it in, you can have the wrapping of your family’s tensions removed from you and the life inside you brought to life.

With those tensions removed, the life inside you, which is extremely fine, can begin to extend itself in all the three worlds: the physical world, the mental and emotional world, the spiritual world, and the energetic world. It can, just like the dawning of the sun, begin to illuminate your purpose in this world. It can show you the connections that you have to the people around you. More importantly, it can show you the refinement and sophistication in your environment that is impacting you every day that you are not aware of and that you don’t understand. Slowly, you can become anchored in the life that is truly alive within you and begin to relate to the totality of your environment in a way that can continuously nourish and nurture and uplift you.

You can begin to appreciate that even the painful circumstances in your life are taking place as an expression of deep tensions and deep constraints within you that are beginning to breakdown and dissolve and release you from their hold. You have the opportunity and the power to completely transform your life into, not an easy experience, but a completely positive experience.

When you get to a hard place, reach deeper inside you to bring out more positive qualities. Every hard place that you bump into is a tension in you, a part of your life that has been compressed in you for a very long time that is rising up out of you and expressing itself on its way out the door. Every hard place that you meet represents an opportunity for you to reach deeper into yourself.  In doing so, that hard place will reveal a finer quality and a stronger power and a richer experience that is available to you.

So, take responsibility for the quality of your life and be committed to growing it, and come to eyes-open meditation and learn about the tools that are available to you to make this change within yourself.  Then sit here and understand what I am doing is taking away your tensions and bringing powerfully into the environment a dimension of energy which most human beings who have walked on the planet never have ever been in touch with. Connect to that and take it in to yourself and hold it in yourself. Let it nourish you and then move through your day with love and light and express as much as you can every positive quality that is alive within you.

 

 

The Experience of Bliss

There is a special kind of Vedic ritual called the soma sacrifice that was once very important and done on a regular basis. It was done during a time when all the practitioners in a particular community gathered together, all the priests who had memorized a particular Veda and a particular set of these works – the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, or the Upanishads, tens of thousands of lines. All these people would gather together and perform the soma sacrifice, in which they drank a liquor made from a hallucinogenic plant, and they got completely spun out. They even offered it into the fire, so that Indra would become equally blissful. Later on, the soma sacrifice fell into disuse. It fell into oblivion to the degree that, today, nobody even knows what plant was actually used to create soma. That’s unusual because there are still literally thousands of people who can recite the entire Rig Veda. The reason why the soma practice fell into disuse, in my opinion, is because it became obsolete. It became obsolete because people understood that the bliss that unites us with the ultimate reality is ever-present within us. The intoxicating substance was really taken to shift our neurochemistry just enough that our tensions could be suspended for a moment, and we could experience the movement of our own creative energy and the bliss that is inherent in our own inner power. Once that is understood, there is no substance necessary for any support because we can simply turn our attention within and, on our breath, awaken our energetic mechanism and experience this bliss.

In the context of that joy, what activity does your mind engage in? My own experience is that when my heart is really open, my mind is dead quiet. In that dead quiet, all the forms of all the phenomena that manifest in my sensory experiential field take on the appearance of rainbows. Cultivating our capacity to make contact with our own hearts, to open our hearts and feel within ourselves the joy of the flow of life itself within us, liberates us from the ordinary garbage of our ordinary day and brings us to a state within ourselves that is transcendent and sacred, and incredibly simple. Cultivating within ourselves the capacity to live in that state transforms our lives completely and is a total blessing to the lives of all the people we’re connected with.

Feel your breath, focus your mind, relax your body and discover the soma, the bliss that is the essence of you. Discovering that bliss, that richness, that joy, that sweetness, that love that is ever present within us – cultivating and living from that – liberates our life to express itself in its fullest, unlimited potential. That is the message of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras and all of the Tantras. What I hope to express is that I wish that all for you, all of it.

Depth Over Time

At the core of each of us is an energetic mechanism, a condensation of creative energy, that is filled with power and potential. It’s a power that has nothing to do with the circumstance that we have attracted as a life. While our life manifests from that power, it completely transcends our material circumstances. At the same time, this energetic mechanism does exist in its own broader field of creative energy, in the same way that a wave exists in the context of the ocean. As this wave of creative energy that we are moves in its own space, it is also interacting with the totality of that ocean.

So, there is a very profound possibility that is present for us as we are more and more deeply in touch with our own creative energy and its circulation in and through us. It’s possible for us to begin to connect to the total environment, which is information. The energy is information, and the information is energy. To access it, we have to strip away the layers of accumulated tension or karma (what I call the disappointments of our ancestors), and everything that we’ve done to ourselves as an effect of that set of disappointments, all the compensation mechanisms. Then it’s possible that we can be in touch with a very deep place inside us. That place will inform us of our environment in ways that right now are very difficult for us to understand.

Our eyes pick up one ten-trillionth of the spectrum of light. That is all we see. The same is true for all of our senses. It’s not really possible from our superficial mental experience to really connect to what’s happening around us and what’s happening in our life. So, we go along living on the surface, reacting to the dramas of our family, and whatever else is going on around us—our school, our job, our spouse, our children.

All the drama is not our life. It is only an effect of our life. Our life is deep within us and moving in us all the time. It is very much like how the waves are the ocean, but they in many ways obscure the vastness of the ocean. They obscure our ability to see deeply into the ocean. So, as we are able to open our energy centers or chakras, and become quiet and experience their resonance, we become informed about our environment and about ourselves in ways that are ordinarily difficult to grasp. This information is simply available within us. All we have to do is call upon it.

There is guidance and instruction inside us, as well as information about the ultimate reality that we can experience from within ourselves. Mastery exists within us and no one can teach it to us. We have to dig it out of ourselves. That mastery comes from years of releasing tensions and allowing our creative energy to flow to the degree that our energetic mechanism is fully awakened and informing us about who and what we really are. It will inform us about everything: all of our past lives, our present, our future, and the future of the people we are surrounded by. It will inform us about what’s important and what’s useless.

Tremendous wisdom and understanding is available from within us. Access to this dimension of our being is real power. It takes real work, although it’s not particularly hard work. Sometimes it’s boring work, but most of the time it’s unbelievably sweet work. It does take time. We have to have enough value for our own life that we are willing to put in the time to discover the unbelievably extraordinary, unimaginable possibility that is living in the center of our heart, each and every moment of this lifetime and every other lifetime.

Rudi used to say that the most astonishing thing to him about people is that they live with this unbelievable potential for the whole of their life and remain clueless about it. We are so distracted by all the superficial movement going on around us that we never really make contact with ourselves. Since we’re not really making contact with ourselves, we don’t really make contact with anything else.

There is an unimaginable possibility living in the middle of you. I hope you will hear what I’m telling you and make the effort that it takes to make that possibility come alive.

Kundalini and the Energetic Mechanism

One of the important texts of Kashmir Shaivism, the Spanda Karikas, says that space, which is vast and infinite, is not empty at all. Rather, space is filled with vibrancy, with resonance. It is the resonance of space itself that is the foundation of all phenomena. According to the Spanda Karikas, space is aware, and the resonance within space is full of self-awareness.

This resonance interacts with itself, in much the same way the strings of a musical instrument interact with themselves and give rise to a variety of tones in one moment. This resonance, interacting with itself in space, is responsible for all of the diversity of physical and biological life forms, most of which are not accessible to the sensory mechanisms of human beings.

As it interacts with itself, this resonance condenses into curtains of sound. The Spanda Karikas say that we are curtains of sound. Those curtains manifest themselves as an energetic mechanism, which is the term I use to describe them. The energetic mechanism comes together with lines of force, like a magnetic field, that have a very complicated structure made up of lines and their intersections. The lines of force are called nadis or channels. Their intersection points are called chakras. This energetic mechanism of chakras and nadis is the core of all biological life and the core of human beings.

The vibrancy of this mechanism is the life of our life. It sustains our physical body. It manifests our cognitive capacity. It is always and forever, infinite and unbounded, in its basic nature. The universal resonance, as it condenses, interacts with itself to form letters, sounds. The letters that it forms are, in the traditional literature, the 52 sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet. All of those resonances are present within us, which means that universal consciousness and universal capacity are present within us.

The power that has made the whole universe and all of its extraordinary vibrancy and diversity is our own essence. When it becomes the essence of an individual, it is called kundalini. Kundalini is what we are. It is our essence, our cognitive ability, our capacity for thought and speech. It is also our physiology, our physiognomy and the field of our experience.

Our karma, which I think of as the disappointments of our ancestors, their struggles, their tensions, their heartbreaks, their illnesses, is something we bring with us into this life. We carry it, and we re-inherit it and it’s reinforced in our mother’s womb, further nurtured by the relationship between our father and our mother, that vibration. That experience has an impact on the energetic mechanism and its function.

Those inherited tensions suppress different aspects of our energetic mechanism and cause it to become dense. They also make us unique and create our experiential world. Because of these tensions and their suppressive effects on our mechanism, kundalini is said to be asleep within us. Well, that’s not exactly true, because if kundalini were ever asleep, then you would not even exist.

The tantric tradition elaborates a means for achieving the fullness of our own humanity, by becoming aware of the basic fluctuation of kundalini energy moving within us twelve times a minute. We become aware of that basic fluctuation and to begin to direct that breath of life through the chakras and the channels with our attention. With our attention, which is powerful, we dissolve tensions through the circulation of the energy. Releasing tensions, we allow our creative energy to flow.

That circulation of the energy completely transforms us, exposing the basic sweetness and the profound richness that is available to each of us from within ourselves. My teacher, Rudi, used to say that the most amazing thing about human beings is how they manage to sit on top of this astonishing richness and creative capacity and live their whole lives completely unaware of it.

Ultimately, no matter what religious tradition you embrace, all pathways come to this energetic mechanism, the fundamental reality of every human being.

There Is Nothing to Change but Yourself

If you ever want anything to change, the only option you have is to change yourself. There’s no other choice. There’s nothing other than yourself that will ever need to be changed. In fact, if we all did change ourselves, the world would be an infinitely finer place. If we all developed ourselves to the degree that we could make contact with our own hearts and release our own tensions to find a depth and quality of flow within ourselves, if we could find that part of us that is truly beautiful and hold it in our awareness and breathe into it and allow it to expand throughout our body and the entire field of our energy, we would be completely transformed. If we could hold that for a little while, a day, a week, a month, our entire life would change. Not only that, our entire future would change, and all the futures of all the people that we have yet to connect to and share with would also change.

My teacher Rudi used to talk constantly about spiritual work. Finding the deepest, most beautiful, most powerful part of us and holding that awareness as we go through our days and allowing that vibration, that feeling to grow in us, and expand in us, and teach us about ourselves, is work. It’s not overly hard. It’s just work.

One of my friends recently sent me an article that talked about how anybody who has ever mastered anything has put in at least 10,000 hours of real practice. In the process of achieving this mastery, our physiology and our neurochemistry definitely change. So, this is work. The work is, first of all, to make the effort to clear out our own tensions, to clear out our own confusion. We need to clear out the sleepy-headedness of ordinary life. We need to begin to lift ourselves up to a place where we begin to make contact with the real us, instead of being freaked out by the real us!

Then, reaching into ourselves, reaching deeply inside, we wake up our energetic mechanism and dissolve the tensions. We hold that experience and that flow until we get to a place where our heart opens and our mind opens and our guts open and our energetic mechanism becomes alive. Then we can experience a dimension of circulation going on within us that completely transcends our body.

Coming to eyes-open class in that state of openness, your energetic field can meet my energetic field and there will be a transfer, a transmission, a transfer of knowledge and understanding that cannot be communicated in words. There will be an awakening of the finest parts of your energetic mechanism, which cannot be nourished out in the ordinary world, because it is too dense. Finding that union of energetic or magnetic fields, and holding that experience and that flow, and growing that understanding, releases you completely from the prison of your personal life and your personal history, and awakens in you unimaginable possibilities that are extraordinarily beautiful.

This doesn’t happen by accident. It only happens by conscious choice. When you embrace the possibility that has somehow, for some mysterious reason plopped itself right in your lap, and commit to it and cultivate it, everything is possible.

So, if you want your life to change, you have to change yourself. There is nothing else to change. Nothing else will change. Everyone who tries to change the world is eaten by it. It’s only those of us who open within ourselves and begin to consume our own life deeply and change ourselves that escape being eaten by the world and realize the finest possibilities that are available to a human being.

I hope you choose to do it.

Real Life Is Within You

The most important thing for a human being to understand is very simple; that we are in this world to grow. If you understand that, there doesn’t have to be any confusion anymore, or any displacement, or any suffering or agitation. If you really understand that, then it’s possible for you to have peace in yourself and peace in your life very quickly. Growing means fully awakening the energetic mechanism that underlies your physiology.

When we are growing and the energetic mechanism is fully awakened, the flow within the mechanism is expanding as the field of the mechanism itself is expanding. This means we are taking in more experience. Experience is energy, and we are digesting and absorbing that energy, which is feeding and nourishing us and feeding our energetic mechanism and allowing it to expand. As this expansion happens, finer and finer energies become accessible to us because the tensions that we are encased in are breaking down as the flow is expanding. We can really feel and experience and be nourished by the very fine energies that are available in the atmosphere and available within the field of our life to touch us in deep and meaningful ways.

At the same time, the tensions are breaking down, all the difficult circumstances that we face, all the challenges, all the pain, all the suffering, all the disappointment also is breaking down, the heavy denseness within us is breaking down. That energy too is nourishing us and creating pathways by which the pathology that is accumulated within us can be exported out of our body, out of our mechanism, out of our system so that our whole range of motion, our whole respiratory capacity, our whole experience of the breath of life itself, is continuously expanding and refining itself as it does. That’s so fantastic!

The work you have to do in this growing is not rocket science. It’s actually unbelievably simple; it just needs to be done. This is the hard part for people—doing it. You have to make contact with your energetic mechanism every day. You have to really be in touch with yourself. It’s not your thoughts that you have to in touch with, because that’s all noise, or your feelings, although it’s better to be in touch with your feelings. Both thoughts and feelings will dissolve as you are simply in touch with the energy. It doesn’t matter at that point how you are feeling about the energies that are coming into you. That becomes irrelevant. What is important is that you are being deeply nourished by it, because you have opened in yourself to a place that is deeper than everything that’s coming at you.

Taking in these finer energies, we’re awakening new pathways by our conscious effort. We are awakening new energetic pathways, we are training our mind, we are training our neural pathways to move the energy through us in ways that is genuinely nourishing and dissolving tension, instead of creating tension and building our ego. And it’s work. Sometimes it is delicious, divine, such beautiful work. Sometimes it’s hard and hurtful, and digesting painful experiences is not easy. Uncovering painful places within us is not easy, but it’s so important.

A lot of the time it’s just practice. It’s a practice that we do out of our love of life and our appreciation for the extraordinary opportunity that has, who knows why, landed itself in our lap, to really make something of our life. Most of the time we go through life with such a small mechanism that even the most petty bullshit nonsense causes us to completely shut down. Lots of people stay shut down forever. This is not the way to have a real life.

To have a real life, you have to have some determination, first of all, to have a real life, to grow. The next thing is that you have to be willing to dig into yourself, to reach inside and make contact and hold the contact sot that you are really absorbing and digesting and transcending all of your experiences. Then you have an ever-increasing quantity of experience, you live a big life, and you have an ever-increasingly refined quality of experience because you are grounded within yourself in that place in which everything is really beautiful all the time. So you are digesting the external from a place that is pure love, unconditional love, a place that sees the symmetry and the beauty and the elegance and the mystery and the magic in it. It is a place that is aware of this magic all the time.

Real life is not at Fred Meyer. You will not find real life at Fred’s. You’re not going to find it at Costco. It ‘s not just walking down the street. All of that is imaginary life. That is the accumulation of all the delusion that exists in humanity over the ages. The reality of life is within you. Real life is within you. True life is within you. It’s not complicated or hard to find. Feel your breath. Be aware of your breath and feel it moving in you. It’s that simple.

As you find this sweetness, which grows and expresses its power and its magic, its beauty, the delusion will resolve and the reality will be where you live everyday. How cool is that?

The Meaning of Inner Work

My teacher, Rudi, used the term “ inner work” in reference to spiritual practice, which could be understood as making an effort and working for an accomplishment. But Rudi, in talking about “inner work,” was not talking about that at all. There is a kind of an effort, but the effort is a natural introspection that arises from our cultivation of the awareness of our own energetic mechanism. By awakening the channels, the senses automatically naturally rotate within, and that rotation brings us into contact with our own essence. So, in effect, what we are doing is not making an effort, but cultivating an awareness. This awareness doesn’t lead to an accomplishment—it leads to a realization, or layers of realization.

In our physical engagement with our spiritual practice, we realize our ignorance. Dealing with our ignorance, we realize our physical capacity. Realizing our physical capacity, we can begin to understand our creative potential. Understanding our creative potential, we encounter our attachments—our hopes and fears. Encountering our hopes and fears, realizing our hopes and fears, and dissolving them, brings us into contact with a deeper layer of resistance in us. Realizing and dissolving that deeper layer brings us into contact with what Rudi called “nothingness,” what the Buddhists call “emptiness,” what the Shaivas call “consciousness,” which is sometimes in all those traditions referred to as “the Void.” Our practice brings us into that dimension of unmanifest, pure creative energy, which is without beginning or end, without any limitation whatsoever. It is pure awareness that is also self-aware and unimaginable possibility.

This unimaginable possibility is not an accomplishment, because it’s already inside you. It is a realization because, turning your attention inside and becoming sensitive, you come to a realization of the depth and the range of what is going on inside you.

If you get lost in the idea of an accomplishment, you will get on a treadmill and go around in circles for a hundred million years. That’s why so many times I have said surrender is the key, because this is not an effort of effort, this is an effort of awareness. It is the cultivation of an awareness of what is going on inside you right now and realizing the cosmic implications.

In this realization, there is tremendous relief and a great sense of joy. There is no amount of shedding of worldly engagement that can any way bring any pressure on us or any tension to our mind. The process is a process of continuously becoming enlightened—lighter and lighter, more and more light. The experience of all of the tensions which we have accumulated in this life, and all of the tensions that we have brought forward into this life from the family system that we have been swimming in for thousands of years, is dissolved.

If you work with the idea of making a big effort, what you will end up with is a complete desensitization to your own energetic mechanism. It does not take a big effort; it just takes a conscious awareness to open all of the chakras and activate all of the channels and begin to experience a simple sweetness and a joy. That simple sweetness and joy is like Drano: it dissolves all the clogs. How fantastic! How unbelievably fortunate that we have the opportunity to dissolve our clogs as we are growing our own happiness and cultivating the innate capacity of the breath of life within us to awaken, in all the lives that we are connected to, a similar experience of joy and a dissolving of tension.

Even though my title is a “teacher,” I don’t teach anybody anything. I will share with you my own experience, and also I am sharing with you the blood of my blood, the life of my life. I am making my entire energetic mechanism available to you, if you have the ability to access it. I make it available to you so that you will have the extra energy that’s necessary to awaken your own energetic mechanism and begin a transformation process in you. But I won’t teach you anything; you will have to learn this yourself.

In order to learn, you have to have a passion for growing. To be alive, you have to have a passion for something. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time here in this world. I suggest you begin to have bit of passion for growing, which is the only reason we’re in this world to begin with. Out of that passion, you will develop a curiosity and a hunger for an understanding of the life that is flowing in your body, and the life that is vibrating as your mind, and the life that unrolls itself from within you in the form of your life experience. To grow, you have to have some curiosity about that, and some commitment to understanding it. Then, paying attention, you will realize.

This is really what life is all about—realizing. This is where the nectar is in life, in realizing. It’s where the juice is. It’s where the joy is. It is the most important thing we are in this world to do.

The Tradition of Initiation

In the Vedas, a person who performs Vedic ritual sacrifice was called a Brahmin. Brahmin means “twice born.” The Brahmin is twice born because he receives an initiation that qualifies him to perform the sacrifice. It’s the beginning of his education and the beginning of a commitment that he makes to peel away the layers of the tensions that bind us together as a person. Those are tensions that we have accumulated through so many lifetimes, and that have manifested in this lifetime as the disappointments of our ancestors we’ve inherited. The desires that we manifest, the aspirations that we have, the areas that we go into in our lives, both constructive and destructive, are really an expression of the deficiencies in the nourishment of our upbringing. Those deficiencies are not there through anybody’s fault; they’re just what is.

In the Vedic times, for Brahmins, this initiation lifted them out of the family circumstances they were born into and immediately liberated them from the disappointments of their ancestors. They were born again into a different circumstance called a guru kul. The guru kul is the family of the guru, the family of the teacher. The tradition recognizes that the guru kul makes available the nourishment that wasn’t provided in the birth parents’ home. That nourishment dissolves the tensions that limit a person in every dimension of their life. It makes it possible for them to become completely spiritually developed and mature, totally fulfilled, and liberated in life.

The central part of the initiation experience is when the guru takes his own conscious energy, his own awareness power, and plants it in the student, so that the energetic mechanism of the student acquires the nourishment needed to start to break down all of the accumulated tensions. As those tensions are broken down, the vital force within the person is awakened and expanded.

This was the critical moment in Vedic initiation, and the practice continued through all the various traditions in India. The Vedas were followed by the Upanishads, and then the six classical philosophical systems, including yoga, which ultimately matured in the Tantric tradition.

The Tantric tradition was unusual in its complete maturity because it asserts that there was only one consciousness in the universe. Even though there are many minds, there is only one consciousness. It is that one consciousness that the teacher is established in and through which their life force is transmitted to the student. That is called “shaktipat” in the Tantric tradition. The term means “descent of grace.” In the Tibetan side of the Tantric tradition, in Dzogchen, it’s called direct transmission.

This experience that I share when I teach eyes open class is not different from the Vedic initiation. It is the transmission of the understanding that there is a singular dynamic awareness from which all phenomena arise, and that all phenomena are interconnected. So this interconnectedness, the understanding, the experience, the awareness of this interconnectedness, is what is being transmitted as shaktipat, or initiation. It is the continuing awareness of that connectedness that represents a leverage on all the tensions that we’re walking around with.

So, no matter what our condition is, no matter what our experience is, no matter what kind of confusion we’re experiencing, we have a reference point we can always go to. This experience is also an energetic resource we can draw on to lift ourselves out of whatever limited state that we have fallen into.

Opening Our Heart

The understanding of the intention our life has for itself can only be known when we are capable of opening our hearts and through that access point getting deeply in touch with our life.

Each of us has had an experience of our heart chakra. Even if we’ve never had the experience of a profound opening in our heart chakra, we have had the experience of what is referred to as a broken heart. That’s a very powerful experience. Most of us, when we have the experience of our heart being broken, say “I’m never going to allow myself to be hurt ever again.” We live to protect ourselves from any input after that, and having our attitudes toward other people be shaped by that experience makes our life quite complicated.

I talk about opening our hearts because opening our energetic mechanism to new energy is going to enhance the quality of our life experience on every level of our existence.  Opening ourselves and understanding about energy and flow is going to make our bodies healthier and give them a greater range of physical motion. It is going to make our minds clearer, our intellect more acute, and our emotions much more vibrant and clear.

Our heart is also the main access point to the deeper dimensions of us. That access happens when we take our attention inside and cultivate the sensitivity and develop the capacity for that awareness.  We have to learn what it feels like to open our heart, to breathe into the center of our chest and feel it open. If we practice enough, eventually we can get to the point where we take our attention there, take two breaths and feel a release to the degree that we can be in love with life instantly.

It’s worth it to work on accessing that place and cultivating an awareness of the intention our life has for us. Being aligned with that intention takes so much struggle and strain and tension out of our lives. It makes everything we do an expression of love.

Working under Pressure Doesn’t Work

We can’t accomplish much in a five minute meditation. We need to allow more time–a half an hour, forty minutes. It takes time for our bodies to relax deeply enough that we can start to make contact with our own vital energy, the place from which any enduring change is going to happen.

There are physiological changes that happen when we meditate. They’re inevitable. They’re also temporary–the temporary effect of our vital energy. There are also emotional changes that happen, and they’re also effects.

Enduring change happens in our vital force. It happens when we make contact with that vital force, when we literally and quite palpably make contact. When we bring our vital energy to a state of quiet, that facilitates a shift, and allow for the release of any and all patterns of constraint and the emergence of a creative flow. This flow is an enduring change that manifests itself in our physical bodies, in our mind and emotions, and throughout the whole field of our life. It manifests as intellectual acuity, an expanded range of emotional expression, and greater physical vitality and mobility.

It takes time for us to know ourselves. There is no point in pushing it. There is a point to being disciplined and focused and persevering, but all of this must be done with patience. Otherwise the pressure we are putting on ourselves and our environment only perpetuates the pathologies that we are hoping to relieve ourselves of through our efforts. Our ambition, our drive, our impatience undermine the healing we aspire to in our physical bodies and in our hearts and minds.

Work is necessary, but work done in a pressurized environment for the sake of some imaginary goal or some temporary power will never bring us to a place where we are in contact with the abundance that is our own vital essence.

The Breath that We’re Breathing

Most people live in tiny little patterns of tension that they don’t have a clue about. They have no sense of what is possible for them in their lives, the richness that is available to them, if they could only take a breath and actually feel it.

How simple is that? Just to take a breath and feel it. Then take another breath and feel that. If we just remembered to feel the breath that we’re breathing, then all of the nonsense that we get entangled in every single day would just fall away. We would feel the life in us. We would know what is truly alive within us.

There appears to be so much that we need to do, and yet there is nothing to be done. If we could only understand that while there may be actions that we need to carry out, we could do them simply, without stress and complexity. We could release all that and have the energy to be aware of our breath.

As we become more relaxed and present in our bodies, we will be able to feel the extraordinary vibrancy of the breath within us. We will experience the subtle breath within our breathing. Having the energy to hold our mind present in our bodies and in our breath and the subtlety that is within our breath, we will become aware of a profound and sacred potentiality that is present within us and around us everywhere. It only requires our attention to begin to coalesce into a creative energy that expresses itself as some unimaginable transformation in the field of our experience.