Lessons learned during my study of Ipsalu Tantra with Shakti Jan Robinson, and the world of Kriya Yoga those lessons led me to, all of which stem from Babaji, who was a student of a disciple, who learned directly from Shiva — although it seems that Babaji himself was an incarnation of Krishna(!).
Originally published 2010
1. Quick, Poetic Lessons
Man wants woman to move and sway before his eyes,
to capture his attention,
to entice him with her allure.
Woman wants man to adore her with his heart, and with his eyes.
What could be more natural than the dance of Shakti and Shiva?
To use the power of the sexual drive in the quest for spiritual growth,
That was pure genius.
For nothing is more constant or consistent.
If regular practice is a requirement for spiritual attainment,
then what better way is there?
Removing the shackles of embarrassment, fear, shame, and guilt,
Leaves you free to fly.
Holding a baby in your arms, you feel Pure Love.
Unconditional, requiring nothing in return.
Needing nothing to start loving, it’s as though the love has always been.
With no way to stop loving, the love will always be.
In that moment, you experience the love that the universe has for you.
This Great Love knows that the child will do what it does.
It will eat, poop, babble, laugh, cry, grow.
This Great Love asks for nothing else.
Woman’s passion is fed by sensual seduction and fulfillment.
Man’s passion is fed by visual seduction and physical arousal.
To keep a woman’s love at it’s peak, drive her to climax regularly.
As her shakti energy rises to the crown, she becomes enlightened.
In the words of the great sage, “F*** her open to God”.
To keep a man’s love at it’s peak, keep him aroused, bringing him fully present.
With his consciousness fully engaged, he can climb the heights with her.
And when he learns the art of “energy orgasms”, he can climb peak after peak.
Shakti Jan notes:
When a woman climaxes, her brain releases oxytocin (among other intoxicating love hormones) and she feels closer to her man. When a man climaxes, he releases prolactin — a hormone that literally puts the brakes on his sexual desire. He goes to sleep and his chakras “shut down” to recharge themselves.
2. Inner Smile
An inner smile opens an energy aperture at the base of the skull called “God’s Mouth”. There, the energy of pure consciousness (Shiva) can enter the spine and descend, bringing the light of conscious awareness to every energy center in the body. (Tantra Bliss, p. 83)
(Starting with an outward smile, feel it curling around to the base of the skull, where there is a small indentation. Smile inside at the same time, and it’s open.)
Paramhansa Yogananda writes of “the truth uttered by Christ”:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. (Mathew 4:4) Man’s body battery (is sustained by) the vibratory cosmic energy (word, or AUM). The invisible power flows through into the human body through the gate of the medulla oblongata. This sixth bodily center is located at the back of the neck….The medulla is the principal entrance for the body’s supply of the universal life force (AUM)
—Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 354
The life force energy (Shakti) can also enter at the 6th chakra, and energize the 3rd eye — the pineal gland, as well as the pituitary. The 3rd eye is responsible for intuition and inner sight. The pituitary is the master gland — the central controller that stimulates other glands to release their hormones, in response to signals it receives from others.
But if the sixth is really at the base of the skull, and there is also a major energy center in the center of the head, then that energy center must be the seventh, and the crown “chakra” (which is really above the body, rather than part of it), must be the eighth.
3. Shiva and Shakti
Shakti energy (life force) is magnetic. It draws in Shiva energy.
Shiva energy (consciousness) is electric. It stimulates, awakens, and witnesses.
4. Ancient Wisdom… and Knowledge
Science is rediscovering the ancient knowledge the underlay the great civilization of India.
- A woman’s brain releases oxytocin when she climaxes, along with other intoxicating love hormones. A man’s brain releases prolactin. So the path of tantra, in which the woman is in charge, makes a great deal of sense. (It correlates well with the tradition of saintly knighthood, as well, in which the knight places himself in service to his lady. It is no accident that the tradition emerged shortly after the West began to import the wisdom of the East. )
- The brain wave pattern that occurs during judgement is the exact opposite of the one that accompanies the sensation of love.
- The pineal gland (3rd chakra, inner eye) has actual rods and cones, the same as the eyes. So the words, “seeing with your inner eye” have literal truth. (It also releases growth hormone. So stimulating your inner vision keeps you young!) That’s why laughing keeps you healthy and keeps you young! Laughing opens the 6th chakra at the base of the skull, allowing energy to flow in and stimulate the pineal. (Not to mention all the other wonderful hormones it releases.) So I’ve started adding funny stories to my Magical Moments page, along with the serious ones.
- The “Theta Threshold” is 7.8 hz. That lies right between the alpha wave state (meditative, 8-12 hz) and the Theta wave state (dreaming, 6-8 hz). At that vibration, a positive affirmation and mental image that accompanies it can rewrite the subconscious “program” that rules our lives. It’s like fixing a bug in a computer. You patch the software so it works better. (Suffuse the image with gratitude to magnetize it. It is then part of you, and at the same time irresistibly drawn to you.)
Also: The vibration of the earth is 7.8 hz! No wonder time spent in nature is so relaxing, so recharging, and so generally beneficial.
This bit came to me when I lay down to rest at lunch, yesterday:
My name is Eric, and I’m a blissaholic. I have been living in bliss for 5 days. (Please don’t try to cure me. I love blissahol!)
It had me laughing so hard, I got energized, so I got right back up again: I figure it’s good
for a license plate holder, at least:
If I can figure out how to make that last “I” look subtly like a “Y”, it will be perfect. And if I can find a good image to go with it, it will be a terrific T-shirt. (A heart, for sure, but with the Shiva sun shining in the 6th chakra, and Shakti earth/moon rising from below. with both of intertwining in a DNA helix.)
6. Tantra is about Energy
Ipsalu Tantra doesn’t deal with sexual technique, so much as it deals with energy. And that just happens to make sex 100 times better — not to mention that it also leads to complete spiritual awakening. As in enlightenment. As in bliss.
As I wrote to a friend:
I’ve found a powerful tool for spiritual awakening, in the form of Ipsalu Tantra Yoga. It doesn’t teach sexual technique, so much as focusing on energy work — which just happens to make sex incredible. At the same time, it propels you into bliss consciousness, connecting you with the love and wisdom energy of the universe. Freakin’ great stuff.
7.Two Overlapping Triangles
The ancient symbol consisting of overlapping triangles, with one going up and the other down has an esoteric meaning. It was explained that the downward pointing triangle is Shiva, with energy coming down from above, and the upward pointing triangle is Shakti, with the energy coming up from below.
But it works the other way, too. The pelvis makes a downward pointing triangle, to the yoni (the Indian term for the vagina, with additional connotations of deep worship for the source of life.) From the shoulders to the head makes an upward pointing triangle, representing the Shiva consciousness, the 3rd eye (sixth chakra) looking up. It also corresponds to the two sacs of the scrotum and the rising male member, or lingam.
Or, using the symbology found in another tantra book: The upward triangle covers the testes to top of the lingam. The downward triangle covers the breasts to the yoni.
Triangle symbols aside, the most important tidbit in all that is that the source of life is worshiped in ancient tradition. That’s a tradition that we all but lost in the West, after Paul got done with the gospels. It’s an important tradition to return to, because caring and nurturing mother-energy would never have harmed the earth and mankind as much as they have been harmed, over the centuries.
8. Meditating, Free, Flying
I sing, to invite the universal consciousness into my being.
The bright light arrives, entering the back door of my mind.
I smile in gratitude, and consciousness descends.
As consciousness penetrates, the bright light illuminates the inner recesses.
Memories surface. Unresolved moments from the past.
These are the energy blocks that impede the progress of the spirit.
Focusing on the block, feeling it, breathing into it. Embracing it and living it.
Experiencing, and witnessing, the blocks dissolve.
One by one, one after another. The energy is free to move.
I am freer now than I was before.
I am free to express my truth. Free to act. Free to speak.
The inner obstacles that held me back for so long are gone.
9. Living in Bliss
What is it like to Live in Bliss? It’s kind of like this:
- I’m happy all the time.
- Driving around, I find myself with a smile.
- Focusing on the smile, I open my 6th chakra. I feel energy coming in.
- The energy perks me up, and makes me smile.
- The gratitude I feel connects me even closer to Universal Love Consciousness.
- The interesting thing is that generally it’s a subtle kind of happy.
- It’s easy for it to break out into a laugh or a smile, but in between there is the subtle undercurrent of unstated joy.
- You have to watch for it. But if you’re quiet and you observe, it’s there.
- I have a lot more energy.
- I have very little caffeine. One cup of green tea is enough to take me through the
afternoon, and into the late evening.
- I remember when it took 2 or 3 cups of coffee.
- I’m needing less sleep, in general. Some days, I’m so busy creating that I get very little sleep at all. Other days, when I exercise hard, I get quite a bit. But mostly, I’m more energetic, with less sleep.
- I feel connected to people.
- I look at them, engage with them. I’m interested in their stories.
- The divine in me connects with the divine in them. I make them feel appreciated.
I find them lingering around me, not wanting to leave.
- I find that the timing of everything is just perfect, just about all the time.
- The few times it seems like it isn’t, I know there’s a reason for it I haven’t found, yet.
- Example: Moments after I get up, the technician calls to says he’ll be working on my internet connection. An hour or so later, just as I am going out to the car, he drives up to tell me he found the problem, and to explain how it was going to be fixed. A few seconds earlier at one end, and he’s waking me up. A few seconds later at the other end and he misses me.
- Example: The other day I asked Consciousness to help me look for a wristwatch that has been lost for weeks. I had totally forgotten where I put it, and had looked high and low, everywhere it could possibly be. I woke with an image in my head (a shirt pocket). I forgot to look before I went to work. When I came home, as I was coming in the door, I remembered checking those pockets. So I knew without looking that it couldn’t be there. At that moment, I saw some shoes. Maybe it’s in one of them, I wondered. The first one I checked, there it was! It was in an old pair that I had retired except for really muddy conditions. Probably wouldn’t have put them on for months. Might even have given them away first. The thing was, I needed the watch, that night, so as to make an important call to my Ipsalu mentor, and get some questions answered. (I was going to be in a class, needed to know when to break away, and knew that the clock on the wall wasn’t working.)
- Conclusion: One episode or even two can be dismissed as coincidence. But when it keeps happening, time and again, it becomes a pattern.
- I’m experiencing a creativity storm.
- Ideas keep bubbling up inside me.
- I’m driven to bring them out and share them with others.
- The creative energy balances itself. Some of it is directed towards spiritual expression. Some is directed towards my work, some towards what I need for myself.
- There are multiple directions, but no dispersion. My mind doesn’t bounce from one to the next. Rather, it remains solely focused on spiritual expression for several hours. Then on work for several hours. Then there is a respite, with an inner directive to care for myself for a while.
- It’s as though the universe is taking care of me, while at the same time allowing me to channel the energy to help others and make a difference in the world.
- One chant or another is in my head, all the time.
- From the moment I wake up, I’m hearing one of the mantras.
- A chant will be in my head, even while busily engaged on the computer at work. (That never used to happen. My mental focus at work always used to take me away from such things.)
- Sometimes, of course, I get really focused on what I’m doing, to the exclusion of all else — whether at the computer or on the playing field. But the moment I pause to take a breath, I hear one of the chants.
- I rarely watch TV.
- I find I can watch maybe a half or so of sports, and an hour or so of other programming. Any more than that, and I stop hearing the mantras. It breaks the spiritual connection.
- I don’t want that. I love that connection — that connection to the wisdom, love, and life force of the universe.
- It is a feeling of pure love. I don’t want anything to break it. I want it to go on and on and on.
- Besides, there are so many important books to read! And the practice. And then there is making music.
- So I rarely watch TV. That is huge, for me, because I used to watch for 3 or 4 hours every single day. Even more on weekends.
- I knew I was wasting time I could be putting to good use. But I was powerless to stop.
- But now, the price is too high! So I limit TV time.
- Rarely, there is a show on TV that expands the feeling.
- For example, a Yanni concert. That I watch and experience to the fullest.
- And that, too, is new. Because as much as I love music, I’ve generally only taken it in small doses.
- My mind would get to bouncing around (“monkey mind”), and get bored. Soon, I would have to break off the concert and find something else to do.
- But in bliss, something that expands bliss is to be cherished and loved. So I am in the concert, with nothing else on my mind, and nothing else to do.
10. Fear of Abandonment
The fear that drives us
is common to all,
in this culture,
as it is today.
It’s a fear of abandonment,
a fear of love lost,
a fear for our very survival,
that underlies much of our lives.
They thought they were making us strong.
They had to force themselves.
They so much wanted to “cuddle” their baby.
But they had been told not to “coddle” us.
Instead of making us strong,
they crippled our hearts.
And from the fear of losing parental love,
We became fearful that we lost God’s love.
Those lessons, reinforced by cruel religion,
Became a block to spiritual connection,
A block to connection with others,
And a block on our energies.
Through our practice, we are finding our way back,
Reconnecting with the Divine Love.
Finding that the Divine is inside, as well as out,
We are connecting with each other.
11. Karma and Desire
Autobiography of a Yogi mentions that karma is not about punishment for past sins.
Rather (or at least, in addition), it is about returning to satisfy your desires.
(So when someone does you wrong, the desire to punish them binds you, not them.)
Somehow, that was a brand new thought for me.
I had read the book before, but do not recall having seen those words.
Somehow, they fled right past my consciousness.
But now, seeing with the clear sight of the inner eye, they made sense.
The instant reaction was one of compassion.
I wanted to give people what they wanted, so they would no longer be bound!
I began moving over even more in traffic, to give people the road they wanted.
I knew, too, that none of us can be free until all of us are free.
That was another lesson from that magical book.
But the trick is to have the wisdom to know what it is they really want.
Do they want you to bow down meekly and give them what they seem to want?
Or do they seek conflict? Do they really want to experience a fight?
So hard to tell. So difficult to be wise.
I need to turn around and look up, for that inner guidance.
Who else would know?
12. The Impact of Mantra
Ever since the Ipsalu Tantra course, I’ve turned off Pandora (my favorite totally-customized radio station) at work, and have listed to white noise over the web, instead. The reason: To keep the mantras going in my head. That’s a big part of the practice, actually. (Several of the tantra books I’ve read mention it, but few explain why.)
When I’m writing at work, the mantras tend to go away, but as soon as I stop thinking about what I’m doing, I find them there in my head. One of them will be going on, and I’ll hear it when I’m playing sports or watching TV. When I’m alone in the car, or feel moved at home, I’ll chant the mantra out loud — whichever one of my favorites happens to be going around in my brain, at the time.
It’s an important part of the practice, because it’s non-stop meditation. It brings you to the present, enjoying the moment. It’s a form of Bhakti — devotion to the ultimate, which in turn is devotion to your path of growth towards it, just as a flower grows towards the sun. It’s a stress reliever, too. When someone cuts you off in traffic, even if you get upset, within moments you’re back in your mantra-space, cherished by the universe. Most importantly, you’re no longer focused on the yahoo driving the other vehicle!
I find that I can watch 2 or 3 hours of TV without any serious interruption in the “flow” . But when I sat down for a 6-hour Super Bowl marathon, I felt somewhat “disconnected” for almost a day.
13. Paths to Sadhana
Sadhana is god-consciousness/true Self-realization. It’s accompanied by ananda (bliss). The slim volume, Sadhana in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, by M. P. Pandit. He describes three paths to sadhana:
1. The Way of Works
2. The Way of Meditation
3. The Way of Love
The Way of Works
This Karma Yoga — essentially, the yoga of doing good deeds.
1. Consciously dedicate your actions to Shiva/God/Love Consciousness.
2. When done, consciously express gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
3. As much as possible, keep doing both while performing the action.
There is a progression:
a. At first, you only manage #1 & #2.
b. Then #3 happens, in spots.
c. Then it happens every time you relax for a moment, and stop mental activity.
d. Finally, it happens throughout the activity itself.
(That’s a lot like my experience with Mantra Magic. So mantra will be an integral part for maintaining that consciousness in my practice.)
The Way of Meditation
This is Raja Yoga, where you meditate your way to enlightenment
The Way of Love
This Bhakti Yoga, where the love you generate in your heart brings you enlightenment. (Oddly enough, it was my martial arts experience that taught me Bhakti Yoga.)
14. Ayurvedic Herbs for Mental Energy
During the Ipsalu workshops, it is important to abstain from sugar and caffeine (as well as alcohol and anything stronger). From what I’ve learned so far, they literally stimulate the senses, making the “subtle energies” more difficult to discern.
Having felt the energy waves travel up my spine, I can tell you that they are called subtle energies for a reason — they are very mild and somewhat difficult to discern. (At least at first, they may get stronger later, but it definitely gets easier to recognize them, after your first experience.)
Caffeine, meanwhile, stimulates adrenaline — which agitates the body and makes the mind dart about like a wild bird. That makes prolonged meditation something of a challenge.
But here’s the rub: In my day-day-work, I depend on mental energy! As a writer, I find that I’m just not as effective without it. (Ginkgo also works pretty well, I admit. But ginseng doesn’t seem to help for mental clarity, And somehow, I keep going back to caffeine.)
So my balancing act so far has been to try to use as little caffeine as I can to be productive, and then go off it when a workshop is coming up. But just going off it (as I am now for an upcoming workshop), I find that I am better “connected” and more inspired to write notes like this.
So clearly, going without refined sugar and caffeine is a way good thing for meditation and daily connection. Unfortunately, my day-to-day work doesn’t wait for inspiration to strike! Would that it did.) So I have been forced (more or less) to balance things with a semi-controlled caffeine intake. (No matter how controlled I try to be, I wind up taking more and more, little by little.)
But now, a solution may be at hand. I recently read In Light of Kriya Yoga, and found a description of 5 Ayurvedic herbs that promise to stimulate thinking while at the same time calming the heart and mind!
The five herbs are:
- Ashwagandha (Winter Cherry)
I’ve yet to try them, but I plan to.
15. “Purity of body, Clarity of mind and Divinity of heart”
Just finished Ipsalu Level 2 Training. Wow. Totally awesome. Reached places I haven’t been for a very long time — like the ability to truly love, for example. In the process, I became Shiva — acknowledging and trusting my inner power for the first time in ages.
More lessons will be shared, momentarily. In the meantime, I’ve been led to several great books. The quote above explains the true purpose of Yoga. It comes from one of them: Sivananda Buried Yoga. (One reviewer said that in traditional Yoga in India, there is about an hour of meditation to every 10 minutes of Asana — very different than the “fitness programs” taught in the West!)
The reviewer also said that, in India, Yoga is taught without charge. I know this to be true, because Swami Asanganand gave his lectures for free, and invited me to learn from him in India — also at “know” charge. (For more, see Pranayama and Meditation, plus Discourses.)
After the Level 2 tantra yoga practice, I definitely arrived at a place of Purity, Clarity, and Divinity. So when I saw that quote as the true purpose of Yoga, I was impelled to write it down!
16. “Love Your Imperfections “
This valuable lesson came from my mridangam teacher. (A double-headed drum from South India, used in Carnatic (devotional) music. The bhajans in that style have complex rhythms and scales, and close to 100% improvisational. Carnatic concerts are like Jazz concerts. There is no practicing beforehand. Instead, everyone has a pattern to fit within. The singer does a solo improvisation, and then does a song, joined by the accompanying mridangam, fiddle, and other instruments, who base what they’re doing on the pattern and what they hear the singer saying.
During one lesson, I was expressing how difficult it was to get the thing I was working on. The frustration must have been clear in my voice, because my teacher Ramesh Srinivasan elevated himself to the level of guru when he said, “When you’re having trouble, Love that part of yourself. Resistance just holds it in place. Instead, Love yourself completely in that moment.”
In my practice the very next day, I had a chance to put that advice into action. The moment I did, I felt better. I felt just a bit lighter. Things seemed just a bit brighter. In other words, I was mildly enlightened by it.
It occurred to me then to generalize the advice, and Love my Imperfections. That thought turned out to have powerful implications:
- Resisting your imperfections holds them in place. Loving them, they begin to let go.
- When you have identified and loved your every imperfection, you will have totally accepted yourself, and completely love yourself.
- When you really love yourself, imperfections and all:
- You can easily love others, or at least accept their imperfections — because it is your own reflection that you dislike! (I heard that in my martial arts practice, but did not know it to be true. When I noticed that actively loving my imperfections made me much less critical of others on the freeway, I had to accept that it must be true.)
- When you really love yourself, imperfections and all:
- When others react negatively, it doesn’t impinge so much.
- You recognize their unwillingness to recognize their own imperfections, so they jump on yours.
- But since you already love it, their negative reaction has little impact.
- And because you understand and accept their imperfection in this area, you are able to forgive. (Traffic tickets are horrible, only when they tend to make you feel bad about yourself.)
But most important:
- When you begin the practice of loving your imperfections, you have a never-ending source of inspiration! I mean, the supply is endless.
- So you wind up in a on-going, full-time, every-waking-moment meditation of expressing love and forgiveness!
- And that meditation is a source of enlightenment, as I experienced several times in my martial arts practice. (See: Long-Term Love Meditation, Long-Term Forgiveness Meditation.)
17. Sacrifice & Surrender
Reading a couple of parts of different books in close succession led to this awakening/insight. I’ll give the quotations that led to it, and then try to capture the essence of the thought.
First came Kai’s Odiyya — a captivating love story / journey of awakening that turned into a page-turner, about halfway through. A day after I finished the book, I was reading the glossary, and came across these:
- Anandamaya Kosha – The sheath of bliss. This sheath is encased within the sheath of divine intelligence. Within this sheath of bliss is the atman or soul. From the human body to the sheath of bliss there is a dramatic lightening of the sheaths.
That definition rang true, to me. I know that in the every-waking moment meditations that led to my episodes of true enlightenment, I was always in a state of chronic bliss — just truly, joyfully happy to the very depths of my toes. At the same time, that sensation was always accompanied by deep wisdom — things just always made sense, and deep insights would appear seemingly of their own volition, one after another. (Only to vanish later, if I didn’t take the time to write them down!).
Then I came across this one, a few pages later:
- Vijnanamaya Kosha – The sheath of divine intelligence. It is the seat of the super-conscious mind. It lies encased within the astral sheath. This intelligence guides the human free will in making correct choices at the forks in life’s paths.
That, too, rang true. The astral sheath is basically the lucid dreaming state, where whatever you visualize comes true. I know that during those period of enlightenment, I hear/feel a “guiding voice”. I’m effectively in a maze, or in a forest, and can’t see where any given path leads, unless I take it. But that guiding voice is in a balloon high in the sky. It says “go this way”, and when I do, I may find that see a new sight, or avoid a traffic jam, or run across an old friend I otherwise would have missed. It could be anything! But it is always the case that (a) I could never have known about it and (b) the “voice” doesn’t give me any clue as to why. It’s totally a present-time thing: “Right now, you should go this way.” It is only later that I discover the incredible good fortune that comes about, as a result.
Just to complete the trilogy:
- Pranayama Kosha – The sheath of astral energy, or astral sheath. This is the seat of the subconscious or dream mind, and the astral, or dream awareness.
Interestingly, the progression would seem to be from the body inward to the astral sheath, the divine intelligence, and then the bliss body. But things seem to work in the opposite direction, in my experience. For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, a meditation begins to create a sense of bliss. After that, I feel connected with divine intelligence. (Perhaps theconnection with my astral self lies ahead? Or perhaps the meditation that led to enlightenment was already the result of that connection, and I wasn’t aware of it? Not yet sure.)
Then I was reading in Aghora–the closest thing I could find to the tantra manual that was mentioned in the Kali’s Odiyya, and came across this:
- Tantric rituals are sacrifical rites….the true offering, the sacrifice of one’s (limited) self…the female is the fire into which the male offers semen.
- Ordinary sex is no sacrifice. (People are usually seeking) gratification for themselves. Tantric sex [note: Tantric bliss] becomes possible only when one has effaced one’s own personality and offers oneself for the gratification of the deity, the universe incarnate.
In other words, the sense of surrender, of sacrifice, connects you to the bliss body. That is the path to enlightenment. That connected with this quote from a couple of pages earlier:
- The Vira ( or “heroic person”) can perform both internal worship and external worship, with thorough attention to detail. Everyday life becomes a sacrificial rite…with each act an act of worship hidden at all times from the casual observer.
In other words, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga are in essence, paths of loving devotion in which you sacrifice/surrender your every action to the divine. In the process, you connect with bliss, and allow a divine intelligence to run your life. (Wonderful!)
18. The Many Faces of God
Had Thanksgiving dinner at the Ananda center up the road. That’s a Babaji-centered tradition that was brought to America by Yogananada in the 1930’s. Unlike tantra, it generally ignores the first three chakras, preferring to work from the heart up. (Pretty appropriate for America, up until the sexual revolution in the 60’s.) But while it is more about “rising above” the world than living in it, it is remarkably coherent in the areas it covers.
One of the songs we sang went like this:
- Oh God Beautiful, Oh God Beautiful.
At thy feet, Oh I do bow. At they feet, Oh I do bow.
(The sense of surrender brings love and joy to your heart, connecting you to God )
- In the forest, God is green.
In the mountain, God is high.
In the river, God is restless.
In the ocean, God is grave.
(God is everywhere in nature, manifesting all attributes.)
- To the Serviceful, God is Service.
(Bhakti Yoga/Karma Yoga: The path of devotion and service. There is something about service that creates a spirit of loving surrender, which in turn creates a sense of bliss.)
- ‘To the Lover, God is Love.
(Tantra/Sufism. God as beloved. To experience Love is to know God.)
- To the Sorrowful, God is Sympathy.
(This was the hardest to see, because it‘s more about something you receive, than something you generate. But once you have experienced sorrow, you know how good sympathy feels. From then on, you tend to generate it for others, sharing the sense of God. A rephrasing that fits better might be: To the Compassionate, God is Sympathy.)
- To the Yogi, God is Bliss.
(Yoga means “union”, or “yoke”. In all forms of Yoga, the goal is to be one with God, whichever path you take. The culmination is pure bliss.)
19. The Power of Gratitude
At the Ananda center, Nirmoha (whose name means “no delusion”) gave an exceptionally insightful talk on gratitude.
Ten lepers called out to Jesus, asking for mercy. He said they could go see the priests. (Because the priests were the only ones who could certified someone as “clean”, so they could rejoin the community.)
On the way, they were healed. One turned back, praised God, and fell at Jesus’s feet, thanking him.
Jesus pointed out that one returned. (Good for him!) But what of the other nine? (Pointing out that what he did was the right thing to do.) As Nirmoha decoded the story, what the man did was to:
- Recognize the giver, by turning back and falling at Jesus’ feet.
- Recognize the source behind that — the power that worked the miracle (God), by praising God.
Then Nirmoha moved to speech Yogananda once gave, about gratitude “balances the scales”, in repayment for a gift. (As opposed to a sense of entitlement, which demeans the giver.)
Returning then to the ten lepers, Nirmoha pointed out how the story continued:
- The Pharisees took the healings as a sign that the Kingdom of God was at hand,
according to prophecy and legend.
- So they badgered Jesus, asking when the Kingdom of God will arrive, and how it will come.
His point was that the Pharisees were a little “confused” about the Kingdom of God, looking for it outside of themselves. So Jesus took upon himself to de-confuse them a little bit, saying “The Kingdom of God is within you”.
The important point being that the two stories follow each other because gratitude is a direct connection to the Kingdom of God! (That is something I experienced in my martial arts training. See Full-time Gratitude Meditation.)
He then went on to discuss another of historical talk, in which Yogananda spoke of seeing the source (God) behind all gifts — all things you own, all things you experience), and behind all of the hidden gifts (the experiences you never wanted that you grew from or learned from in some way).
The result of that recognition is non-attachment to the ups and downs of the world. You experience them, but surrender them in your heart to God. (I’m not there yet, but wanted to record it, as it too forms part of the pathway to the Kingdom of God in your heart.)
It started when I got in the car, and headed up to Berkeley to help with an Ipsalu intro class. I felt immediately connected w/Babaji, and grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the important work once again.
It continued the entire time I was on the road. The traffic just flowed! Traffic has been driving me to distraction for weeks, but now everything was moving along nicely. (Thank you, Babaji!) Somehow, the traffic just disappeared.
In places, things weren’t flowing so well. But I was feeling happy and connect, so I just flowed with that! And in a couple of minutes, everything was flowing again. It was grand.
So I arrive at the intro, and greet like, 50 people. Wow. Then Jan Robinson does the class. She’s pretty amazing.
One of the exercises she did turns out to be something she saw Bodhi do, exactly once. And it was absolutely the thing I needed!
The exercise was stand in front of a partner, recognize their divinity, and see how you feel. Then find something that could be different (looks, or whatever). See you how you feel. Then recognize their divinity again, and see how you feel.
Wow. Talk about an eye-opener. It was an exercise to recognize “How being judgemental cuts you off from God.” And did it ever.
I was feeling so good, that it felt like I had a beam of light rising up from the back of my skull, with energy pouring down the shaft. My whole body felt light.
Then I selected something that “could be different”, and focused on that. Wow. The light just dropped back down into my body, and kept going down. It felt like my whole lower torso was one big chunk of lead.
Then we went back to recognizing divinity. Wham! Shaft of light opens up and connects. Lightness and energy. My goodness, what a difference!
Damn! (Sound of palm slapping forehead). I have been disconnecting myself. Even when I wasn’t being “judgemental”, the way I used to think of it — even when I was being tolerant and not heavily negative about things, I was still cutting myself off with that simple thought that something “could be different” (in a way that I would find more pleasing), as opposed to “that is absolutely perfect, just as it is”.
And the very same thing happens if I’m thinking about myself! Just wanting something to be different cuts me off! (It’s fun to do stuff though, so now I’m sort
Wow. Who knew? I’m very grateful to Jan for passing along that exercise. The first Ipsalu-intro she gave taught me that judgement was a cut-off, and that was the major thing I got out of it. But this was the first time I really felt it in my body, and saw how subtle was that thought that makes a difference. Wow. Tools I can use.
Oh, yeah. A couple of people I talked to had the same goal I did in attending the workshop: To find out what tantra is, and see if it’s a path I want to pursue. Because in the West, when we hear “tantra”, we think “sex”. It’s something vaguely akin to the Kama Sutra, and that’s about all we know of it.
So many of the people who come to meetup are interested in spiritual growth, and have a vague sense that they need to integrate sexuality and overcome past programming. But they don’t really know if that is possible, or if this path will make it happen. (I certainly didn’t.)
So my summary is that Ipsalu is a highly-efficient path to enlightenment that integrates sexuality. I call it “an antidote to a Western upbringing” that restores wholeness to your being.
21. Imperfection is an oxymoron
Driving today, I realized that to want anything to be different is to find fault with God’s creation!
Now, I’m not big on the concept that God is some bearded figure sitting above everything and judging everyone. Far from it! Hermetics gave me the most useful image — if God is everything (and everyone), then we are all as God’s dream — and the dream can change in an instant! (Hence, the capacity for miracles.)
Bottom line: Everything is perfect. So what about human behavior? Well, humans have free will, so anything they decide is part of the perfection. And yes, things can be more perfect. But if they don’t become more perfect, it’s OK, because they’re perfect just as they are. (In which case, there is no such thing as imperfect!)
It’s really hard reasoning for a philosopher to accept. (I should know!) But while it defies head logic, it is perfectly in accord with heart logic. Because in accepting the concept that everything is perfect, my heart opens. I am like a child again — not questioning anything, but accepting everything. And I am connected with Shiva/God/Love consciousness, with love for all. So it’s worth holding that thought, just for the way I feel when I do.
22. Tantra Yoga Breath, Energy Flows, and Bliss
In Swamiji Asanganand’s Yoga Shibir, I learned powerful breathing techniques, including the Yogic Breath (complete breath), Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing), Bhastrika (forceful inhale and exhale), and Kapal Bhati (“skull cleaning”, repeated forceful exhalations). Those were the most effective breathing techniques I had every learned — and the Yogic Breath in particular was taught more effectively than I had ever seen before. (Expanding the chest on the inhalation came as a particular revelation, after a career in the martial arts that focused on abdominal breathing to the exclusion of all else.)
From tantra practice, I had learned to be more aware of energy flows in my body, and I had learned the power of Moola Bandha (a “lock”, or lift of the perineum) while holding the breath — after either the inhale of exhale. In my Ipsalu Tantra teacher training, I had learned that holding the breath after inhaling brings Shiva energy in from the skull when you release, while holding it after exhaling brings in Shakti energy from the root (Training Manual, p. 75, 120).
Practicing the Ipsalu techniques had taught me how to separate aswini (anal sphincter) contractions and vajroli (urethral sphincter) contractions from the lifting of the perineum between them, Moola Bandha (explained in Tantra Bliss, p. 193 or the definitive book, Moola Bandha:The Master Key). In addition, learned that a single triangular-shaped muscle that does all three contractions. Experimenting with those techniques, I noticed one day each one of the contracts starts at the very same point, a few inches up in the center of the body!
As I worked with those techniques, I understood why the practitioners of Moola Bandha recommended a subtle contraction, over a strong one. Once I realized each of the three techniques started at the same point, it became possible to focus on that point and do small contractions that stopped just short of doing any of the other three. In essence, I had found a fourth contraction! One that was just effective, but which took even less energy.
My Ipsalu Tantra practice had also taught me the power of the inner smile while holding the breath after inhaling. That smile opens the “Mouth of God” at the base of skull, allowing Shiva energy to pour in and produce a sensation of bliss. With further experimentation, I observed that after exhaling and holding the breath with Moola Bandha, the Shakti energy rose up the spine and seemed to expand my skull, with powerful sensations of bliss. After inhaling and holding the breath with Moola Bandha, the Shiva energy traveled down the spine and energized the lower chakras, producing a great deal of body heat!
The interesting thing there is that the increased body heat is associated with increased Shakti energy. And bliss consciousness is associated with Shiva energy. So things were reversed, in effect: Focusing on the root and bringing in Shakti energy at the root caused it to rise to the head, producing bliss. Focusing on the back of the skull and bringing in Shiva energy, meanwhile, caused it travel down the spine, producing heat!
Then, at a Sexual Wholeness workshop taught by Kip Moore and Lexi Fischer (deep healing work), I learned a technique of pulsing vajroli up to the 3rd eye in the middle of the forehead for several inhalations, then contracting Moola Bandha up to the center of the skull for several more, and finally pulsing aswini up the the Mouth of God for one more series of inhalations. Those were good techniques that further enhanced my awareness of energy flow.
23. Three Gifts
Mar 2013: Meditating today, I received three gifts.
The first was a quick way to find the ideal straight-back position for meditation. (That position allows the energy to flow most freely, so it’s worth developing.) The idea came from the “Great Dumbbell” DVD, which showed how to use a broom handle to find it. (Placed at the back of the head, the broom handle should touch the upper back and base of the spine, with an inch to an inch-and-a-half gap at the neck and the lower back.) So how to do that while sitting? It came to me that a headband could be used to hold a yardstick in place! (Attach the yardstick to a Velcro-closing headband, and you have an easy to use proprioceptive device that helps you find the right position, and teaches you how much you can relax the lower back. (It’s possible to have an overly arched lower back. But if you relax it too much, you start to slump. Finding the intermediate point that works just right is something of a trick.)
The second gift was finding out how to trill an “R”, at long last. I had tried in High School, while learning Spanish. Recently I’ve been learning Sanskrit. Turns out there is a trilled R in that language, as well. But how to do it?! It turns out there is a position just behind the hard palate (the flat spot behind the teeth), where the roof of the mouth begins to curve up. The sides of the tongue can be braced there, leaving the very tip free to vibrate. (That’s close, anyway. I’m still working on it.)
Pulsing Tantra Yoga Breath
The third gift was the addition of pulsations to the Tantra Yoga breath. While holding an inhalation, and after lifting Moola Bandha, pulsing vajroli produced sensations in the 3rd eye, between the eyebrows. While holding an exhalation, and after lifting Moola Bandha, pulsing aswini produced bliss sensations in the Mouth of God, at the base of the skull.
I was on my way to sleep when this sequence came to me. I did for a few breaths, and immediately experienced the streaming sensation of energy flowing up my spine, which produced a series of small involuntary spinal jerks, or kriyas, and a powerful sensation of bliss. (In essence, a kriya is a mini-orgasm produced as the energy travels through the spine.) At the point, sleep was no longer possible! After doing mantra meditating from a little after 3 until 3:30, I got up to write, and have been on an “energy roll”, ever since. (It’s now 7:15. I tried going back to sleep, but more thoughts came to me, and I got up to write again. I hope to be able to catch some winks by 7:30 or so!)
Jan’s video segments are also remarkably informative:
Level 1 Review
These books inspire, enlighten, and inform, all at the same time:
- Chants of a Lifetime, by Krishna Das
- Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yoganada
Inspiring, with many a lesson presented here and there, throughout the pages.
- Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love, by Daniel Odier
40% story, 60% philosophy. It drags at times, but is one heck of a great story, nonetheless.
A must-read for anyone drawn to the tantric path,
- Kundali: The Evolutionary Energy in Man, by Gopi Krisha
Autobiography. A personal account of an individual quest and the exploration
of inner realms, without a guide. Recc’d by Jan Robinson.
- Living with Kundalini, by Gopi Krisha
Autobiography, long version. Also recc’d by Jan Robinson.
- In Light of Kai’s OdiyyaKriya Yoga, by Rudra Shivananda
Fantastic book on the art and science of Kriya Yoga! Wonderful read.
- Kai’s Odiyya: A Shaman’s True Story of Initiation, by Amarandana Bhairavan.
A captivating love story, as well as a biography of tantric initation Like Daniel Odier’s book,
there are things in this one that I don’t ever expect to be doing, but it’s worth a read, all
the same. It takes about 3 chapters to really get going, but then it starts roaring like a
freight train. Couldn’t put it down, at that point. Had to keep turning the pages. To love
someone so much! My fervent desire is to someday love someone as completely as he.
- Aghora: At the Left Hand of God, by Robert E. Svoboda.
The closest thing I could find to the manual mentioned in Kai’s Odiyya.
A manual of tantric practices — except that you still need a guru to learn the actual techniques!
These books take you deeper into practice:
- Ipsalu Formula: A Method for Tantra Bliss, by Bodhi Avinisha
Meaty explanation of the practice that explains why the practice works for emotional
breakthroughs, for sexual fulfillment, and for spiritual enlightenment.
- Moola Bandha: The Master Key , by Swami Buddhananda
Detailed information on the powerful practice of lifting the pelvic floor for energy and enlightenment.
- Yoga Nidra, by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Explains the science of total relaxation at the “theta threshhold”, where you can rewrite past
programming and make your dreams come true.
- Yoga Nidra CD & Booklet, available at IpsaluFormula.org
For a practical,ready-to-use Yoga Nidra program.
- Sadhana in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, by M. P. Pandit.
Slim volume filled with wisdom about the process for achieving bliss (ananada) and god-consciousness/trueSelf-realization (sadhana).
Science has progressed to a remarkable degree in recent years. It is continually rediscovering the ancient knowledge that was the foundation of India’s magnificant civilization. These books provide as many explanations as science has been able to gather for the marvelous and miraculous potenial of the human soul:
- Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom,
by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius
Summarizes the latest scientific inquiries into the effects of meditation and universe-connection.
- What the Bleep Do We Know!?: Discovering the Endless Possibilities for Altering Your Everyday Reality,
by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente
An overview of science and the spiritual. (recc’d by Jan Robinson)
- My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD
Neuroscientist gets a stroke that shuts off the left hemisphere of the brain, leading directly to powerful spiritual awakening and experience of samadhi (enlightenment, bliss). (recc’d by Jan Robinson)
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