Category Archives: THE SPIRIT OF RELIGION

THIS AND THAT ITSELF: The True Gravity of Indian Genius, Delusion, and the Velocity Towards the West

The following is a paper written in the process of creating a talk
for INK, an Indian subsidiary of TED.  From the information contained in this paper, the actual talk
was curated down to 15 minutes and delivered at the INK conference in Kochi,
Kerala from 25-27 October, 2013.

 

OUTLINE:

Introduction: Why am I here?

Basic Question: What are we in?

One Treasure: Many Maps

The Treasure: Achieving the State of Understanding.

The Mandala

True Gravity: From This to That

Darkness: This without That

The Velocity of Delusion


               
chakrasunification

THIS AND THAT ITSELF:

The True Gravity of
Indian Genius, Delusion, and the Velocity Towards the West

William Pennell Rock

            Dear
Friends, I am very grateful and honored to be here, because I love and admire
the great genius of India, and, like many others, I have profited from it
greatly.

            Sometimes
it takes an outsider to see what is truly valuable within a culture.

The people of Naples did not know how to value their native pizza
until they were told it had become the staple of American tables.   But the ancient genius of India
is much more than pizza. It addresses the fundamental existential condition of
being human.  It has clarified an
orientation to and alignment with the source of human existence that humanity
needs now more than ever in its history.

            I
have noticed that many Indians who would be real movers and shakers in the
world tend to rush West with a velocity that leaves their ancient past behind
in the dust.  It seems to have
become fashionable to be ignorant of this heritage, as though it were a kind of
embarrassment.            

            I
am here to ignite the passion for what is anciently Indian, but still within every
Indian, in your very genes.  I want
to point out how valuable it is to understand the wisdom in your own roots, how
it is the only authentic antidote to the condition of the world, how it will
inform and underscore and fulfill your journey through life, allowing you to be
entrepreneurial with true purpose, in service to your own full awareness as you
travel through life, and an inspiration to all those around you.

            My
past lives remain an intriguing mystery, a likely story, but in this life I
have had three Indian incarnations.
In the first I was Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Advanced
Study in Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, where I headed a committee of
Indian scholars who studied the Upanishads, the oldest and most important fragments
of the earliest maps to the treasure of enlightenment.  Later, I reincarnated in Pune as a
disciple of the great tantric bad-boy Master now known as Osho.  He gave me a name of Siva, Anand
Veereshwar, and taught me first-hand how to find the treasure.  In a third, I discovered a small
Veereshwar shrine in Gujarat.  The
Mahant, head of the shrine, who subsists on chai and charras, befriended me,
took me to the kumbha mela, renamed me Veereshwardas, and invited me to take up
residence in the shrine complex in an ornate pavilion built by the local
maharajah.  I passed up this
interesting retirement option for my own mini-ashram in California, where I am
the devoted disciple of my sat guru,
my own inborn awareness, because in the end this is the real guide to the
treasure.

            As
long as I can remember hearing about India, I have understood there was a great
treasure there — something that
we all really want, above all else.  But how to find it?  How to identify it?
Studying comparative religions, I became a scholar of maps to this
treasure. Many of these maps, the most psychologically detailed and insightful,
have been created by the wise and holy men of India.   Many, many maps.           

            Starting
with the Beatles, many from my generation and sensibility came to India in
search of the treasure.  I recently
read the biography of another pilgrim, Steve Jobs.  Like many of us, after learning of the treasure in India, he
was later inspired by Japan and Zen, which simplifies everything, including the
treasure, to its essence.  Jobs translated
the treasure, not, unfortunately, into his own inner peace, but into my Macbook
Pro, whose elegance comes from its harmony of design, a simple systemic
integrity, with hardware and software tightly integrated, from source to user.  This particular refraction of the
treasure will interest the materialists among you.  It is worth billions.

            Now
I want to tell you why I think the real treasure is the most important thing in
the world.

What are we in?

            The
nature of the treasure brings us immediately to a basic question of human
existence.  What are you in?  What are we in?

            One
answer might be, “one hell of a mess.”
Collectively as a planet we are in unprecedented and grave danger. Like
a juggernaut, we go on destroying the home that supports life as we know it.  We see strife everywhere.  Every faction is pitted against every
other, with less and less prospect of peaceful resolution. The habitable world
is becoming increasingly uninhabitable, and there is no real prospect of
reversing this

            Individually,
what we are in may be a lot of confusion and psychological chaos.  Everyone is out for themselves, driven
compulsively to consume more. More.
In the West we certainly have more, but no one is really satisfied.  That is why our cultural sensitives
have been streaming to India, where they pass trendy Indians rushing in the
other direction.

            In
fact, there is great darkness abroad, individual and collective darkness.  It is as though the world were a spinning
wheel that has gone off its axle.
It is for this reason that the great treasure to be found in India is
more valuable than ever, because it is the authentic promise of light in the
darkness.

            To
really understand this we must go deeper into the question of what we are in? Your
Indian ancestors understood that our well-being in this life is intimately related to
the way we answer this question and live it out.  The question is not mere philosophical curiosity, but vitally
existential.  Getting it wrong
leads to the suffering we are in today.

            In
Western culture, the prevailing answer to our question is that we are temporary
visitors in the factual world of all and everything that we call the universe
or the cosmos.  We became expert at
studying this world through science and manipulating it through technology. These are enviable achievements, but as
it turns out, not the way to the treasure, because the underlying assumption is
basically erroneous.  In fact the
idea that the treasure can be reached through such objective and empirical
methods is fundamentally misleading.

            Prior
to being in this world we are actually in consciousness.  In the West our academics know very
little about this. Stephen Hawking, the famous Cambridge cosmologist, once told
me we can’t know anything about consciousness, because it is not measurable. Your
ancestors fundamentally disagreed. In fact, one of them, Gautam Buddha, arguably
the greatest of all treasure mappers, gave us to understand that mere knowledge
as such is the booby prize.  When questions
about the nature of objective reality were put to him, he dismissed them
outright: they do not fit the case.

            Well,
what then does fit the case?

            Consciousness
is more basic than the real world.
The world is only actual if it
is present to you, and this actual presence
is what I mean by consciousness. What we are in, the subjective and objective world present to consciousness,
has been called the kosmos, with a k, as opposed to the mere objective cosmos studied
by Hawking, spelled with a c.

            In
fact real existential knowing is not knowledge, as such, but gnosis (skt. Jnan-).  Knowledge is facts: gnosis is existential awareness of your
own being.  Knowledge deals with
facts: gnosis is understanding the awareness into which you were born.

            Your
ancestors understood that attaining the treasure is not a matter of knowing
information, what is to be known, but
of how the real gnosis can take
place.  The Indian genius was fundamentally
pragmatic, practical, because they discovered what works in consciousness, what
works in human existence.  They
discovered the nature of gnosis.

            So
today I want to drive home two basic things about the fundamental pragmatism of
Indian genius.

 

-Truth is not philosophy or science, but a state of being.

-Therefore you have to negate propositions or theories, while evoking
the state of gnosis and showing how to reach it.

One Treasure, Many Maps

            There
is a saying that characterizes the genius of India.

 

            Truth
is one: wise men call it by many names.

            The
great seers of India came up with many, many ways of coming to realize what we
are in. The reality of gnosis, is not attained by science, not even philosophy,
because it cannot be known through empirical research and theory.  It can only be realized through the
cultivation of what you basically already know, but have yet to discern. The
real genius of India was not to state accurately what we are in, but to come up
with the directives for how to intuit and realize it, as that is the only response
that, in Buddha’s words, truly fits the case. 

            Stating
the truth of what we are in is not the real value.  In fact any name for it is always relative.  That is why wise men call it by so many
different names. Truth is not a proposition or theory or metaphysics, but an
experience of gnosis that generalizes into a state of being. Defining and
discussing what we are in is useful only as a map. This is fundamentally different
from the West where knowledge and its technological exploitations are the end
product.  For this reason Western
philosophy can never do justice to the Indian tradition and misunderstands it
— chronically.

            In
the ancient West, achieving the state
of gnosis did exist in the great mystery schools: for instance, the hermetic
schools of Egypt and the classical Greek and Hellenic academies, including
those of Plato and Plotinus.  But
with the rise of Christianity, gnosticism in all its forms was persecuted out
of existence or sent underground into esoteric practices still to be found in
the West.   Since the dream of
Christian Empire faded, the West dreams of a final theory or proposition about
the truth, with an eye towards its technological use to alter or modify what we
are in.

            Philosophizing
is the booby prize. You have to “get it”, “grok it”.  Attaining true gnosis is an intuitive process, informed and
led by the above mentioned satguru at
the center of consciousness, the given awareness we all have of our own being,
which must be cultivated through radical and pragmatic intuition.

The Treasure: Achieving the State of Understanding

            Since
truth is a state of being, the question that truly fits the case is how can we realize the truth of what we are in,
that is, experience and exist in a state based on a fundamental understanding
of what we are in. The truth state accords with how things stand with
consciousness. Gnosis is an alignment with the Source producing a natural
rectitude of Being.  You know you
have achieved this state when the frenzy of your addictions grows calm.  You know silence and are content in it,
and above all, you want to be kind.
Realizing and
existing in this state of being is the very nature of true value.            

            Each
religion or path in India was founded by someone who reached the treasure and,
out of compassion for the turmoil and dis-ease of others, set down the map by
which he attained it.  Others
follow him and make of his map a religion or mystical path. India’s infinite religious
paths and disciplines of contemplation may seem confused and bewildering, but
each was once the vehicle by which someone attained the treasure.

            This
brings us to the second point I want to drive home.  Since the treasure is not a proposition or a scientific theory,
you have to discourage or negate the tendency to find and settle upon it
intellectually and instead, evoke the state of gnosis and show how to reach it.

            The
gnosis of what we are actually in can only be grasped intuitively, but those
who have attained this treasure have left us their maps. The truth is one
treasure, but the many names are many paths, many maps. I suspected this by
studying comparative religions and confronting India’s astonishing array of
religions.  But I really honed in
on it by studying the Upanishads, the ancient completion of the Vedas.  Each verse or section suggests a
different way of presenting what we are in and gives a directive for attaining
the treasure.  Many of these
differing perspectives expressed in the Upanishads have been the basis in their own right for established religions
or paths . 

            On
the surface, this is very bewildering, but the very fact that the question gets
approached in different ways is actually an advantage for the serious treasure
seeker, a way to encourage the given intuition of gnosis and discourage engaging
in fabricating mere “know-it-all” theory or philosophy.  Zen deals with this very elegantly. If you
start philosophizing or behaving like a know-it-all, the Master just slaps you.

            I
am going to demonstrate this aspect of Indian Genius: how one intuitive truth
can be expressed in differing ways.

The Mandala.

davincivmanWhen those who see the truth want to display the totality of consciousness, they use a mandala, the figure with a center. The visual metaphor is a wheel on its axis.  In India mandalas are used a great deal in Tantra, which is concerned with achieving the totality of consciousness, and also in the many glorious Tibetan Buddhist tangkas that express their view of the totality of consciousness.

Like all mandalas, this one is only a graphic metaphor, a map intended to show the landscape of what you are in, and to
indicate the way to the treasure, what
you should do
.  This is the essential intention built into the form of the Upanishads. “This is how things stand, therefore do so and so.”  I will illustrate this by showing you several ways of elucidating this mandala. Each map I will describe is a different way of displaying the kosmos, each a metaphor intended to provoke your own intuitive gnosis.

            What
these maps have in common is represented in the basic features of the graphic.  The center orients the whole and holds
it all together. The black square at the center is surrounded by a white circle
enclosed in a larger black square. The central black square is identical in
shape to the outer square.  This
identity is essential to each map and to the way to the treasure itself.  The mandala is static, but it implies a
dynamic, a true gravity, so to speak. Think of the inner square as having a gravitational pull to expand
and incorporate the white circle and fulfill its identity with the outer black
square.  The center is drawn to
unify and contextualize all that is in the circle by realizing its own identity and
unity with the outer black square.
Another way of saying this is that the outer black square draws the
inner square to expand and incorporate the circle, ultimately becoming one with
its outer identity.  The “whole” is
the oneness of the black squares, which incorporates the white circle, as it
were, setting it properly on its axle.  Everything must be aligned with the center. The true gravity of
alignment is the fundamental dynamic of consciousness, and allowing yourself to
be drawn by it is the basic possibility for you to become one.  This union is the treasure.

            Remember,
as you strain to understand these formulaic metaphors, each is saying the same
basic thing and is only a portrayal of what your inborn awareness already
knows. Try to relax into this awareness, rather than strain to understand.


   

            Metaphor
1. Computer: Virtual reality

            This
map uses the metaphor of the reality generated by a computer as it is
experienced by you, the operator.

– The black square is the hard drive and operating
system. 

– The white circle is the software and the data on the
screen. 

– The center of all this is you, the computer operator.

            The
center square as your own awareness corresponds to the outer square as the hard
drive and operating system.  Keep
your eye on this functional identity between the black squares.  This identity is the one so ingeniously
streamlined and simplified by Jobs as he kept aligning user and hardware. 

            So,
what are we in? 

            In
virtual reality, you the operator are in the reality projected by the software
and data, which functions on the basis of the hardware.  But often it gets corrupted.

            What
should you do?

            If
your virtual reality is malfunctioning, you need to reboot, meaning everything
goes back to its given form in the hard drive, because that is its source.

            Please
absorb this metaphor, and let us move on.


                

            Metaphor
2:  Theism

            All
religions featuring belief in a supreme God or deity construe the mandala in
the same way.

– The outer black Square is God, almighty creator and
sustainer.  Expressing True
Gravity, the deity sends emissaries of himself into the world as saviors for
those who, in their own response to True Gravity, place faith in him.

– The inner white circle is the world, or the worldly
reality, created by the God, but largely conceived as vanity, sin, or
suffering.

– The inner black square is the I-self, created by God in
His own image, as reflected in the identity of the inner and outer square
forms. This I-self is sometimes figured as the soul having its own expression
of True Gravity as a longing for God.

            What
are you in?

            You
are an I- self in the Image of God Almighty.  You are in the world or reality. The nature of the world is
vanity, sometimes called sin.  But
it is ultimately and imminently presided over by God Almighty, who issues forth the
means, vehicle, or incarnation by which to “know Him’.

            Such
religions usually depend upon the belief that this is the one and only truth.

            What
should you do?

            You
should forsake the ways of the world and come to know God, through study of the
scripture, faith and prayer.
Prayer is communion with God.
In this, the I-self is often supported by inborn divine awareness (the
Holy Spirit) and by various teachers or champions, who provide the means to
unite with or rectify oneself with God.
This process is expedited by uncompromising faith in the teacher/ helpers/
champions projected to exist in the world, emanations of God such as various
gurus or saints, divine figures such as Krishna, prophets, such as Mohammed, or
special teachers, such as Jesus.

            Union
with God is experienced as salvation, eternal life.  It is celebrated with rituals of communion.  Union with God is expressed in the Old
Testament with the words “I am that I am”.  In Christianity, the unique and fundamental possibility for union of
the I-self with God is Christ.

           
             

 

            Metaphor
3: Your Existential Reality,

This portrays where you stand and what you actually
experience.

– The outer black square is Being, your given nature, which you have in common with all humans, by virtue
of which all humanity is one.  It
is full of potential, but not yet actual.

– The white circle is the reality in which you dwell, all
this – your subjective and objective world — as you experience and understand
it.

– You, the inner square, are the chooser at the center of
your actual reality, your universe, but in a greater context, you are also the
same as the one Being you share with all humanity.

           

            What
are you in?

             You are the center of Being surrounded
by your subjectively understood everyday reality.  However, your everyday must accord with your given reality
as a human being.  Otherwise your
reality is, so to speak, off its axis.

             What
should you do?

            As
your awareness is given and has the form of Being itself, you must develop in
such a way as to accord with Being.
Therefore, expand your awareness to know your Being.  This rectifies your world.

                                          

            Metaphor
4:  Buddhist Mind Only

            This
metaphor portrays the Buddhist idea that only mind exists.  There is no real world at all, no real
facts, only interpretations, only the mind. 

– Outer Black Square – the Absolute Mind, the almighty base
of all mind common to all humanity.
This source surrounds the…

– White Circle – your relative mind that yields all reality as you understand it.  Effectively, this means anything that
IS, any fact.  If you can say
something IS, you are populating your relative reality. This includes your objective
understanding of the cosmos as well as your personal reality.  This reality is relative to your perspective,
understanding, and the prevailing way that the world is understood. This relativistic
understanding of the world has become fashionable as the basis of Western
post-modernism.

– The Center – your given, inborn awareness.  I have been calling this the sat guru, because it is this given
awareness alone, when cultivated into gnosis, that is capable of bringing
together the reality of the relative mind with the nature of the absolute mind.

            What
are you in?

            You
are the center of Mind. Your innate awareness is the given unity of the
relative and absolute minds.  Your
inborn awareness alone can bring them together in gnosis.  This is your unequivocal responsibility.

           

            What
should you do?   

            Find a means to activate
and cultivate your inborn awareness in order to realize the systemic unity of
the relative and absolute minds.
This is the basic directive of disciplines such as yoga, tantra, and
buddhist contemplation.

chakrasunification

 

Metaphor 5: Vedanta

            This
is the traditional philosophical elucidation of the Upanishads.  Vedanta means, the end or final purpose
of the vedas, which is to discover the treasure.  It has many words for all of these aspects.  I will give a few.

– The black Square – The almighty ground of all reality (brahman) is your true Being.

– The white circle – You dwell in a reality of names and
forms, (namarup).  All of this moves together elegantly through
lifetimes as your reality and infernally as your fate (samsara).  And all of it
is maya, a wonderful word that means
fullness that is actually an illusion.
You are in maya, a fabulous illusion that distracts you from your true
Being, Brahman.

– The center – You are the atman, usually translated as “self.”  In truth, atman is the same as brahman. The two squares are
the same.

            What
are you in? 

            Maya,
an illusory fulness that is a distraction from your true self (atman), which is
actually Brahman.   Maya is the world of names and forms,
which moves together in a grand evolving reality over many lifetimes.  It obscures, conceals, but finally
reveals Brahman.

            What
should you do? 

            Come
to realize through gnosis that you are brahman-atman

This is a very beautiful metaphor for an authentic
experience, but as it is an easy formula, Vedanta tends to become mere know-it-all
philosophy.

 

            Metaphor 6: Actuality

            Upanishad means “sitting at the feet”.  The language in the Upanishads is not
philosophical, but radically simple.
It often plays on linguistic ambiguities inherent in Sanskrit that
ingeniously reflect the actual ambiguity of existence, defying one’s philosophical
tendency to become a know-it-all.
Effectively, it acts like the slap of the Zen master.

– The outer square – That, whose nature is luminous bliss
and clarity, the actual base of consciousness.

– The Inner circle – This, any or all this.  Whatever actually is in your world.

– The center –  This
goes back to what I said earlier, the world “exists” only insofar as you are
conscious of it.  Your
consciousness or presence makes it actual.
You are the actuality of This.  And here is the slap. The word atman is not a noun naming a self, but actually
a reflexive pronoun that means “itself.”
Itself means the actuality of both This and That. Again note the
identical form of the two black shapes indicating the identity of That and
Itself. You are the actuality (the Itself) of This as That.  Does this blow your mind? Slap!

           

            So,
what are we in? 

            Actuality.
You are presently the Itself or actuality of That manifest as any This.  All This is the manifestation of That,
but you do not realize it as such.
You are the Itself of any This, the realization (gnosis) of which
actually reveals That.  

            This
clarifies our basic question while preventing you from settling intellectually.  This Itself of That is the actuality of
“what we are in?  You are That.

            What
should you do?

            Know
That!

            That is
nothingness on the one hand and on the other, the ultimate pure form of our
human consciousness, what we truly are in.  To align with it clarifies everything, all This.  It is clarity upon emptiness.

            Enlightenment
is the light that happens when That is realized as Itself. Knowing or realizing
That Itself is the treasure.

            True
Gravity

            True
gravity is the force of innate awareness to know Itself as That.  There is a progression to this
realization.  At first one gains knowledge
of a map.  One discovers a religion
or path that seems true or attractive.
With time, attention, and dedication, one comes to realize the gnosis
behind the map, the intuition of That blossoms and grows.  This leads to a sense of unity with all
life, all sensate beings, as the expression of That.  One becomes compelled by the kindness of compassion for all
humans, all beings. This realization of unity unfolds into bliss, and
finally as Itself, or inborn awareness, unites with That, there is light, there
is splendor.

            The
light or illumination of true actuality
clarifies and simplifies all This, putting everything in proportion.  This profound simplification yields
authentic contentment, the great peace described in Sanskrit with the word Shantih … often repeated to express
the state itself: shantih shantih shantih.

            True
Gravity leads thus to the treasure.

            None
of our metaphorical portrayals of the mandala is the truth, but all point to
the same flowering of intuitive realization.  Atman is your given inborn awareness of the unity of This
and That.  It is subject to its own
form of gravity to unify This with That, which is true actuality, our true home.
 Any real map follows this True Gravity.           

            American
philosophy has come up with the signature methodology of Western success:
pragmatism. America
eschewed grand metaphysical theories for what is effective.
What works
is what is true.  But this is the
pragmatism of This, from science to technology.  Indian genius created a pragmatism of consciousness, the practices
by which Itself is able to follow its true gravity to realize the unity of This
and That.           

            With
keen and passionate insight, the vast Indian tradition, including Jainism and
Buddhism, reveals this gravity by virtue of the incredible variety and richness
of its oral traditions, scriptures, methodologies, and religions. All follow
the True Gravity from This to That.
The variety of maps are part of Indian genius. None really defines the
truth, but all of them point the way.

            Indeed,
there are so many ways in India, that each Indian effectively has their own
unique path, called a sadhana.  Any Indian with a Sanskrit name may
likely find their sadhana hidden in their name.  Osho gave me the name, Anand Veereshwar.  I no longer call myself by this name, but
I have spent years exploring the way it indicated.  It proved to be a directive pointing down a path whose true
gravity led into the ancient wisdom of the tantric practices associated with
Siva, the great god of transformation.

            So,
if you were given a name derived from Sanskrit, I would wager that it is the
trace of a map, from which you can find your unique path.  By following its true gravity you can
make your own way to the treasure. This is likely to mean disciplined
contemplation of one form or another, but I encourage you to follow your true
gravity with enthusiasm.  That is
the Indian tradition.  It is the
genius within your genes.

            The
fundamental directive of the Upanishad is Tat
tvam asi
 (You are That).  This is not a metaphysical statement
intended to puff up your knowledge of all This.  It is a shorthand report of the experience of True Gravity
towards the ultimate human experience and state, the fruition of being human.

            Therefore,
Know That.

            Darkness
– This without That                        

            Now
we have an entirely new way to understand the darkness with which we began to
describe what we are in.  The great
darkness of human existence provokes the urgency to know That.

            As
expressed in the concept of maya, all This is an illusion. Without the
awareness of That, This is pathological, an existential darkness. In fact on
its own This becomes delusional and addictive. Trying to follow the True Gravity
is difficult in the darkness, because all This is demonically seductive and
fascinating.  Look around you:
everyone is enchanted with all This, driven to manipulate a better place for
themselves in it.

            This
truth is elegantly clarified in one of my favorite passages from the Isa Upanishad.

            Those
who do not know are in darkness.

            Those
who think they know are in greater darkness still.

            Unawareness
of That Itself creates a negative vacuum, the abyss of nothingness, whose
essential symbol is death. The more we are focused on This only, the more we
lack our base, our true identity and ground. Turning away from the luminous splendor
of Brahman/ Atman, a vacuum is created that sucks us into fundamental anxiety.  To portray the force and power of this vacuum,
the Indian ancestors came up with all the demons to be found in India’s
mythological traditions.  I think
of Ravana in the Ramayana.  This
demon king represents all the force of this vacuum.

            For
the most part we are largely unconscious of this abyss of nothingness, but we
may be aware of its symptoms. Primordial among these is fear of our own death.
Turning away from nothingness figured as death, your fascination and obsession
with This becomes an end in itself.
You become lost in all This, driven to control or consume it.  As we clutch at sex, money, and power,
we may notice that our existence becomes a compulsive need to fill a vacuum, anything
to avoid facing the fundamental fear.  This generalized state of anxiety occasionally erupts in what
existentialists call angst.  They
consider this angst useful, because it forces you to authentically face the
reality of your alienation from That, a realization that might throw you into
the true gravitational field.

            Thus
the passage tells us that those who do not know That Itself (that is, most of
us) live in this pathology of darkness, the root of all dis-ease. On a
collective level it is the state of great agitation that characterizes Western
civilization.  As Western culture
has become world culture, we witness this pathological state as the rabid
materialism of the world.  Anything
and everything to fill the terrible void and avoid facing it.  More.  More.

            But
the passage goes further.  Those
who think they know — the know-it-alls who have This all figured out — are
the ones whose suffering is greatest of all, because for all their puffed up knowledge
of This, they are wandering their existence fundamentally unconscious of That.

            To
give up your know-it-all posture and authentically experience darkness is to
understand the value of the treasure.
This is why the existentialists value angst.

           

            Let
us recap to this point. Atman, the actuality or Itself of what you truly are,
is the blissful unity of This and That. Following true gravity is absolutely
essential to well-being, because in actuality, all This is truly meaningful
only in relation to That. The alignment of Itself with That neutralizes its
intrinsically delusional and frantic nature, undercutting the negative vacuum
and filling it with the clarity of Atman and the light of Brahman.  When all This is illuminated with That
Itself, Brahman/Atman, the result is radical simplification, suppleness, and
illumination of all This.  The
wheel is back on its axle, your center has aligned with its axis, and there is
great peace.  Shantih Shantih Shantih

            This
is the treasure.

            The
Velocity of Delusion

            Maya is a wonderful word.  It captures the attractive fullness of
all This, and at the same time, the obsessive distraction away from our inborn
awareness of true being.  In flight
from the angst of the negative void, the desperation and compulsion of emptiness,
it is impossible to see This as it actually is.  We do not grasp its real actuality, Itself.

            Basically
the delusion of maya makes us look for the light of That in all the wrong places.  We call it the pursuit of happiness.
Financial success will do it.
Glamour will do it.  Romance
and sex will do it.  Power will do
it.  There is great velocity behind
these delusional pursuits.

            As
the world has tended to become one, we watch disaffected Westerners wandering
East looking for That.  Know-it-alls,
like Steve Jobs and many others, including myself, have followed the true gravity
by coming East.  In fact, where
East and West really come together, almost every real innovation is traceable
back to the East.

            But
back when I was an academic at Varanasi Hindu University, I observed to my dismay
the counter phenomenon of many Indians wanting to rush West.  The philosophers in my department all
wanted to justify their tradition in terms of know-it-all British philosophy, a
hopeless task, since That is not to be found, much less considered, in British
philosophy, obsessed as it is with the language of This. The young men on the streets
wanted to buy my jeans.  I found it
pathetic that these Indians, heirs to their great tradition, thought the West
had what they wanted. Now of course, this whole trend has flowered into a rush
towards Intelligence Technology and the wealth it brings.  They are bringing it about.  The hotel where this conference is
taking place is just like one in America.

            So
it is with this cultural velocity.  Westerners are rushing East for That: Easterners, rushing
West for This.  We are ships
passing in the darkness of night.

            To
India with Love

            So,
I stand before you in all humility and awe to honor True Gravity.  I encourage intelligent Indians to
respect and revere the genius of your own tradition, which has clarified this True
Gravity as no other.  As the darkness
of all This threatens to overwhelm the planet, That is more urgent than ever.

            You
are heirs to a tradition that holds the keys to the survival of our
species.  You are the stewards of
this heritage. But you are giving tech support when what we truly need is
consciousness support.  

            Start
with your Sanskrit name.  What does
it mean?  What does it really mean?  What is its existential imperative? Follow the True Gravity
of meaning back into the tradition that will reveal your real nature,
which is enlightenment.  Realize
the true ancient genius of India by experiencing this truth within yourself,
thus aligning with your Source. Then, please, bring it to the world.

            In
the darkness we are in, That Itself alone will rectify you with your world and
bring you home into the light.
This is the greatest treasure, vital to yourself and to all of humanity
if we are to survive.

What is Tantra?

spinalchakrasThere is much confusion around Tantra and its practices.  Here, this ancient practice is contrasted with yoga and clarified in terms of left- and right-handed versions, as well as the use of the practice today.

What is Tantra?

From the beginning of time, we humans have been fascinated by the power of sexuality. In the Western tradition, this fascination was early dispatched with the story of Adam and Eve, in which sexuality is viewed as an evil serpent that removes us from the favor of God. The West has never really overcome this outlook.

 Other great traditions – notably Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist – have viewed sexuality in other ways. Primary among these is the ancient disposition coming out of the Indian Subcontinent to view sexuality as a means toward the highest possible spiritual evolution – the achievement of enlightenment itself. This basic tendency and the practices that have grown up around it are called Tantra.

Perfection versus Wholeness

In the Western religious tradition, the ideal reigns. The goal of life is to attain a state of ideal purity: to perfect oneself by refraining from undesirable ways of being, understood as bad, and cleaving to the ideal of the good. This idealism is associated in India with Yoga. Its disadvantage is that it can feed a kind of spiritual egotism that ultimately sabotages well-being. It does this in part by creating its nemesis, the Shadow, which acts out in a twisted way all that the ideal rejects.

  By contrast, the purpose of Tantra is to achieve wholeness, incorporating and integrating all that one is into a greater whole. The discipline of Tantra is based on surrendering to what one fears and where one tends. The ecstatic states achieved thereby lead to a new, all-inclusive awareness, which is a kind of pathway to the ultimate bliss of true self-knowledge.

Two Kinds of Tantra

Tantra has come down through the millennia in two different forms of practice.
Left Handed Tantra focuses upon self-awareness and surrender, following desires and tendencies to their wildest extremes, but with very sharpened awareness, which over time produces temperance. This has always been known as a dangerous path, because it tends toward addictive behavior, which eventually requires great awareness and daunting discipline to overcome.

Right Handed Tantra is known also as Tantric Yoga or seated Tantra. This highly developed method configures consciousness through the imagery of the spine or a central channel running through the main vertical axis of the body containing the nodes of consciousness, called “chakras.”  Each Tantric system has its own scheme, which may include as few as three chakras or as many as 108. An example of this would be the seven chakra model, familiar to many Westerners, in which consciousness is divided into the nodes of survival, sexuality, power, emotion, intuition, intellect and spirit.

The Basic Tantric Disposition

The yogic tendency to achieve perfection in the ideal has proven to have very toxic side effects. As Freud discovered, it leads to the creation of the Super-ego with its destructive repressive mechanisms, which, untempered, generate most psychological pathology.  Upon this insight, the entire project of yoga to achieve the ideal gradually has been superseded by the Tantric value of achieving wholeness. Living out one’s tendencies and desires with full awareness leads to a healthy way of being which is not simply all inclusive, but conducive to a more integrated and fulfilling life.

  With this Tantric attitude comes a new attention to the natural and to the earth, and therefore to the body, its needs and intelligence. It brings forth a new kind of respect for the body as the vehicle of consciousness, producing greater awareness of the importance of natural nutrition and the physical culture originating in disciplines from the East, such as Ayurveda and Tai Chi.

Hedonism vs Realization

There are those who see Tantra as an opportunity to increase the pleasure of sex. This it definitely is and has always been, but Tantric masters understand this to be the greatest danger of Tantra. This hedonistic attitude displaces the all-important aspect of awareness and encourages a distraction in favor of “sexual ecstasy,” intensified pleasure that tends to throw practitioners into dangerous, and ultimately self-destructive addiction.  This trap preempts the transcendent gratification possible through the use of such ecstasy to attain the bliss of true consciousness, the ultimate home of the Self.

Tantric Practice Today

Since the sexual revolution of the Seventies, many Westerners have taken up Tantra and Tantric practices.  Notable among these is Margot Anand, with her ground-breaking instruction book, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy.  By and large, modern Western Tantra is used to enhance sexual experience, with a mere insubstantial nod to the actual path of enlightenment and its hazards.

The sexual practices in Tantra have traditionally been designated for male/female partners only.  In a recent book, The ManTantra Letters, however, two intrepid sexual adventurers from Oxford explore Tantric love between men.  By means of a letter exchange, Nathan James, who is single, and Victor Bliss, who has a partner, share their exploration of self-realization through Tantric love between men. Both Left Handed Tantra and Right Handed Tantra are given equal value and are explored and practiced at the same time, in complementary fusion. The book covers substantially and honestly the dangers of Tantra and its shadow — possessiveness, jealousy, and addiction.

THE RAPE OF INNOCENCE: The Catholic Crisis

PopeBenedictXVISummary
The sex scandal within the Catholic Church has reached epic proportions.  There is much heated discussion of this crisis and how the problem of pedophilia should be handled on a political and disciplinary level, but the questions about its real cause are rarely approached.  The crisis is so grotesque and monumental that only the most basic questioning may lead to an understanding of its underlying causes.  These go back to the foundations of the Church’s attitude towards vitality and nature and the appropriate management of erotic energy.  The problem is based in the Semitic/Christian split of the body and mind.  The resulting war between spirit and flesh generates a rage that is deep and unconscious.  Only vengeance of such a shadowy nature can throw light upon the violent and contradictory rape of innocents. Yet this split is not really fundamental, as can be shown by looking outside of the Semitic/Christian world at other religious traditions, both ancient and extant, which cultivate the consciousness that is prior to any dualistic split and manage vital energy in more wholesome ways. This split between mind and nature is fundamental to an even greater crisis now before us: the ecological state of the earth fueled by Western culture.  The disposition of exploitation is at the root of the catastrophe that now threatens our very existence.  The earth too shows every sign of being in a rage.

Outline:
The Unfolding Scandal
Peeling the Onion
Questions
Determining the source of the problem
Blaming homosexuality
The Fundamental Issue
The True Victims
Innocence is Vitality
The War of Spirit and Flesh
The Big Lie and the Great Truth
The Big Lie and Its Consequences
The Great Truth and its Traditions
The Greater Tragedy
What is the Church to Do?
A New Direction
What can you do?

THE RAPE OF INNOCENCE

“I loved our priest. So did my mother. We all believed that the priest and the bishop and the Pope himself were always right.  They were the force for good. It was the power of God.  Mother was delighted when the priest arrived to pick me up to join other boys on trips to the beach. I was too. He would grab me, tickling and wrestling like I did with my Dad.  At first it was fun, but then something changed.  He started grabbing me down there.  I would feel him rubbing against me from behind.  I got so scared.  Even though he was next to God for me, I knew this was so wrong.  I didn’t know who to turn to. I looked out the window.  I started praying, but there was no voice to comfort me.  This went on for several years.  Sometimes I secretly enjoyed what we did, but mostly I was confused and depressed, until I finally told my Dad.  He reported what happened, but there was no change.  After some time the priest left, but it was celebrated with cake and ice cream.  I was so confused and left with deep scars of secret shame.  Now that people know about it they are gasping for breath.  They don’t know where to put their faith.  What should I do when I pray?
                                                                                A Victim

The Unfolding Scandal
One has to pity the poor pope, wearing the Emperor’s new clothes, his ornate crown and gowns and massive golden setting growing ever uglier as the grotesque magnitude of the scandal becomes evident.  Benedict’s aged rigid body raising his arms in blessing is an appropriate symbol of the pitiful inadequacy of this ancient mendacious institution in the face of the tidal wave that is sweeping over the Vatican.  A roiling series of national scandals has turned into an epic test for the universal church, threatening its very existence.

This institution was created to universally embody the divine protector of innocence, the one who famously said words that now carry an awful irony, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”  This Church has fomented a secret army of sexual predators, under the protection of the Church itself, who find themselves unable to resist the compulsion to exploit the power of their position to force themselves upon innocents.  How are we to deal with this appalling absurdity?

It has been said that if the Church managed to survive the Inquisition, it can survive this.  But these times are different.  Right now, the modern world is wrapping its head around the Catholic Church in a major way. The growing evidence is so hideous and deformed, its true extent and breadth becoming daily more evident, that the Church is being driven to inevitable confrontation. The crisis will never be resolved until the real depth of the problem is identified, clarified and courageously addressed.

Perhaps in the ancient way of great crisis, this presents a great opportunity. But what is the real problem?

Peeling the Onion

Questions abound.  

What kind of apologies and reparations are in order?
How to answer those who have placed their most sacred trust in the church?
Will the church survive the legal suits?
Is the fabulous wealth of the Vatican sufficient to pay out the billions in reparations due to its victims?
Will the poor of the southern hemisphere continue to finance this great outlay in addition to paying for the ornamentation, or will the church have to start selling off its gold leaf?

What to do about the guilty priests?
The Pope appears to be making progress as the church, its cover-up of the situation now revealed, is now willing to give up its protection, point to the priests, call them names appropriately associated with evil, reject them and hand them over to the law.  This is seen as a step forward.  Much is made of the extent to which this is done.

But how is the Vatican to deal with the cynical secrecy of the cover-up itself?
Who knew about this all these many years and did not address it according to the laws of the land?
Who participated in the cover-up and what responsibility and liability do they have with regard to the law?
We now know that Pope Benedict himself, who once headed up the modern vestige of the Inquisition responsible for dealing with this issue, grandly led the cover-up.  What is to be done with such a one who is willing to protect this mendacious institution by sacrificing the well being of those it is intended to serve?
What kind of punishment is due those who have covered up this moral atrocity?
Can the absolute leader of the Imperium church publicly atone for his sins and yet preserve the theological magisterium of the papacy?

And perhaps it is no one’s fault, but rather s
ystemic to the very structure of the Church.

Much is made of this process of calling the church to account.  Sinead O’Connor, the singing conscience of the church, wants all those guilty of this cover-up to stand down and allow fresh faces, “those who really believe in God,” to take their place.  Would this get to the root of the problem?

Then there is the feeble attempt to address the sexual roots of the crisis.  Who are these rapacious priests?

They are people who cannot handle celibacy.  Celibacy is the problem.  Are we to understand then that if priests are allowed to marry, they will no longer have interest in innocent youth?

Of course, there is always homosexuality to blame, and there was always plenty of that.  Throughout history men who love men have characteristically taken refuge in the all male world of the clergy. One great leap forward, much vaunted recently by the church, is that homosexuals will no longer be allowed. One wonders how this will affect the already dwindling numbers of young men willing to enter the church.

But the connection of homosexual inclination and pederasty does not stand up to much scrutiny.  The abuse of girls shows that desire for sex with young faithful is largely unrelated to sexual orientation.  And what of the even more extensive, but less celebrated problem of priests who have sex with adults in their flock.  This too, in its own way, is a despoiling of innocence.

This display is pathetic.  These measures are no match for the magnitude of this problem.  If this is as deep as it goes, the Catholic Church is finished.  Such a collapse would be an existential trauma of such proportions for 1.2 billion Catholics and the very fabric of Western Culture, that it is understandable that the Pope should make every effort to avoid it at all costs.

The Fundamental Issue
The elephant in the sanctuary of St Peters absurdly degrades “the pride of Christ,” the mystical entity called the Church.  The province of the religion is innocence.  Faith in the Church is the doorway to faith in the religion.  In this regard, betrayal of the innocent is too weak a concept: desecrated, defiled, abused come to mind, but “rape” is more accurate.  What kind of rage or vengeance is behind this?

What conceals the true roots of the problem is the cheesy moral assumption that the priests are evil and the innocents are good.  All of the so-called solutions operate within this assumption. This sets up a dichotomy that stops the analysis and obscures its true depths.

We began with the testimony of a “good” victim.  Now consider this testimony of an “evil” priest.

 

“Ever since I was young I was drawn to God and his church.  Early on I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to God and set about preparing to enter the priesthood.  I did experience sexual feelings, attraction towards my contemporaries that increased in my adolescence.  But I was convinced that if I became a priest I would be able to overcome them.  In seminary I did everything I was told, but still the feelings persisted.  For years I prayed and confessed and resolved and did everything in my own power and the powers passed on to me in my training for the priesthood.  To tell the truth, none of it was very effective.  I confessed over and over, but the feelings persisted, and finally I gave into them and started masturbating.  I was getting sick. My guilt became greater and greater, which perversely only seemed to intensify my lust.  I began to feel more and more attracted to boys, especially 13 to 16, the same age I was when I began to have these feelings. I resisted and resisted, and finally lost confidence in my faith to be able to help me with this.  I had known of fellow clergy that had gone into treatment, but they either went back into the behavior, became increasingly depressed, and/or left the clergy.  I could not imagine leaving the church. What happened was a lonely spiral downward into ever increasing guilt and lust, which finally forced me into a kind of awful cynicism, a kind of impacted rage.  I established myself as the champion of the youths I felt attracted to, but I found myself overwhelmingly attracted to them.  At this point, I gave in and began to entice some of them into playing around with me.  This led to other things. Sometimes they enjoyed it a lot, but mostly they were afraid.  I too was afraid, but I had nowhere to turn.  When I was finally caught it was hell, but somehow, it was a relief from the personal hell I had been in before.  God forgive me.”
                                                                                  A Victim

If such testimony generates empathy, another perspective opens up.  Of what?

 The True Victims
The innocents are but secondary victims.  The primary victims are the perpetrators themselves.  The truth is not that they are evil, but that they are equally victims.  They too are innocents who in their own way have been “raped”.

If the result of an experiment two thousand years old is the rape of the innocents, the experiment is a colossal failure.  It has exposed a wound so deep, an infection so virulent, that it may finally direct attention to its true malignant source.  This is so fundamental that the church in its present form, symbolized by this frail rigid Pope in his resplendent finery feebly raising his hand in blessing, cannot even approach.  At the same time the elephant in the sanctuary, primordial beast that it is, makes a mockery of all the ornate massiveness that surrounds it.

The rape of the innocents has finally expressed the true problem, for it is innocence itself that has been raped by the church.

In fact the Catholic Church is the tip of the iceberg.  Its power, moral authority and rigid hierarchy constitute a form of structural violence.  All the arrogance of this imperial posture sets it up for the comeuppance of this scandal.  The Imperium stands for St Michael who can overcome the dragon of the flesh. But the fact is that this much-vaunted triumph of spirit over flesh creates its opposite, flesh over spirit. The nemesis laughs in the face of the hubris of this authority.

The fact is that this fundamental problem exists throughout Christendom and raises its head in many churches.  Since protestant denominations are less centralized and more local, the abuse by their clergy cannot be figured into statistics the way the highly organized Catholic Church can be, once their records are exposed.  This is in fact a Christian problem, even deeper, a problem of Western Culture and is part of what has been called “the white man’s disease.”  The Catholic Church has just become its most exquisite symbol.

Innocence is Vitality
Innocence is the purity of the given.  The given of life is vitality.  This givenness is its innocence.  Innocence is pure vital energy.&nbsp
; It is the energy of life, the divine mover of nature.  Innocence refers to the pure structure of being and of reality, which Socrates and his codifier Plato inspired us to question in order to come to know the One, the Good. The innocent vitality of a child is the force of nature itself.  The innocence of pure faith is the dearest form of that vitality.

The basic problem of the Christian West is its appropriation of vital energy and the understanding and management of the economy of that energy.  The way that the Christian West treats vitality imprints the way it treats the biosphere, nature itself.

St Paul put the case most concisely, “The spirit lusts after the flesh, and the flesh lusts after the spirit.”  Was this a declaration of war?

The War of Spirit and Flesh
The problematic area is sexuality.  Here, “sexuality” refers not simply to sexual acts, desire, or permissiveness, but implies the whole integral cycle of indulgence and guilt suffered by anyone besides the fortunate few, who have grown up in cultures adhering to the religions of the Book, the descendants of Abraham.


Suppressing or repressing the vitality of sexual energy leads to pathology.  Starting with Freud, researchers and clinicians in psychotherapy have demonstrated and documented this fact for 150 years.  Mind making its negative judgments of the body renders the body and its energies into antagonistic “flesh” which has to be controlled by an adversarial spirit. This discontinuity generates destructive patterns of behavior. It foments a revulsion, which, set up against the primordial unity of things, becomes rage. It is this deep rage and its discontents with existence that fuel compulsive behavior.  This is the structural pattern of which the pederast priest is a victim, along with every other sexual addict.

In the Christian tradition, there is only one means of access to the union of spirit and vitality, one hope of returning to innocence.  That is marriage.  When marriage works and a true erotic energy exists between man and wife, the bliss of the union of body and spirit can take place.  It is for this reason that marriage has been raised to such a high level in Christianity and that romance, the possibility of such a union, has been raised to such obsessive importance in Western culture.  If you listen to the lyrics of pop culture, you get that “love is the only hope.” In no other culture in the world does romantic love carry the weight that it does in Western culture.  This is because it is the only way that the union of warring spirit and flesh can be achieved in the context of Christianity.

However, the proportion of people who can genuinely achieve this kind of union in monogamy is actually very small.  Couples who can sustain it are far fewer.  The ban on any other expression of sexual vitality in Christianity is a formula that does not fit the actual human condition.  It comes to a “just say no” policy towards sexual expression encapsulated in the late Middle Ages by the formulaic celibacy in the church.  This formula however works only in exceptional cases that have more to do with temperament than with discipline.  There are those who are blessed with a love and marriage that leads to an experience of the hallowed union of spirit and flesh.  There are rare individuals whose sexual economy is such that they can achieve and truly enjoy genuine celibacy.  But these are few.  Yet for the church, they are the only acceptable standard.

The policy of limiting sexual expression to monogamy or celibacy is simply unrealistic, a beautiful dream of purity that casts shadows proportionately ugly.  The nasty form of pederasty exposed under the foundations of the church is the result of eroticism that has been suppressed and repressed to a point of deep rage, equally repressed.

Stephen Fry, British comedian and actor, recently delivered a well-reasoned and deadly serious screed against the Church at “The 2010 Intelligence Debate” in which he fused the forced abstinence and campaigns against sex together with the rape of innocents.  Comparing these to obsessions with the other great human appetite, food, he pointed out the extreme and grotesque pathologies of anorexia and morbid obesity.  That, he said, in a nutshell, is the Catholic Church.

“Just say no” simply does not work.  Vital energy is simply too vital.

The Big Lie and the Great Truth
The Big Lie is that spirit is in opposition to flesh and that correlatively the mind of man is in opposition to nature.  Therefore the only way to bring about any resolution is through control, which is monitored and enforced through religion, political authority and might.

The Great Truth is that prior to any opposition or duality of this kind, there is a primordial unity at the base of human consciousness that can be known and cultivated as the true potential for the excellence of life.  Most of the religions and institutions outside of the Western World have been based upon this Great Truth.

Culture based on the Big Lie creates an ideal that wars with its greater context, the whole.  Cultures based on the Great Truth cultivate the whole.  In Big Lie culture, the divine, who is good, wars against evil.  In cultures of the Great Truth, the war of good and evil is part of a greater whole, which itself is divine.

The Big Lie and its Consequences
The West has a characteristic attitude towards vitality and nature and therefore eroticism, which is unique and fundamentally flawed.  The belief that this attitude simply reflects “the way it is,” that it represents a given, universal truth is accepted in the world purely as a function of Western cultural hegemony, but it is also fallacious.  The evidence of this has been amply demonstrated in the twentieth century by ever growing evidence from world history and comparative religions, by ever deepening access to the real theory and practice of each great spiritual tradition, and by the anthropological studies of lost civilizations and the indigenous cultures still alive on the planet.  This perspective shifts everything in the post modernist world onto another kind of footing.

The Big Lie goes way, way back, to the roots of Semitic culture and its turn away from vitality and eroticism.  Nature got it wrong and needs to be corrected. Things can only be put right by conquest and domination. This is a declaration of war. This psycho/cultural disposition was taken over entirely by Western Culture.

This disposition of mind finds no more eloquent statement than the belief in circumcision and its practice.  Abraham’s Covenant with God was sealed with this “sacrifice” of the “unclean” aspect of nature. This set off a war of the mind and spirit of man against the body and nature. Circumcision did not cause the war: it is its emblem. It is not merely that many men in the Semitic cultures have suffered this primordial physical trauma at the root of their being and the base of their memory, it is that this trauma and its practice are the stamp of a fundamental disposition: nature is fundamentally flawed and must therefore be conquered, dominated, and controlled.  This was and continues to be the symbol of a war between spirit and flesh, mind and nature that has characterized the cultures of all three religions descending from this tradition, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Since Christianity is the basis of the Western psyche, it has become the prevailing view of the World.

Complementing the obligation of the male t
o slice off the end of his penis is the other great turn away from vitality and nature; the primal identification of women with sexuality and nature and their concomitant suppression, also a feature of Semitic derived cultures. Other cultures may place women in a subservient position, but in Semitically derived cultures this is done with a special virulence, a kind of vengeance. This put an end to the worshipful alignment with nature that characterized the Goddess cultures. By virtue of His righteousness the one monolithic God destroyed the nature loving goddess, reducing her to subservience and slavery.

Abraham declared a war that never could be won.  He set his God against nature – a formidable adversary, in fact, as it turns out, unconquerable in the end.  So great was this adversary that life itself became a militant, adversarial disposition towards, not just eroticism, or even nature, but towards all and everything except an ideal of spiritual perfection.  To this day, this mentality characterizes all the peoples of the Book, but the spiritual ideal is in grave dispute.  In fact, the greatest political threat to world peace is the warring between these three descendants of Abraham, inheritors of the covenant with God.

The Big Lie establishes a duality and opposition in a corruption that fundamentally sets spirit against flesh. The Western way of dealing with vitality is set in stone: the spirit is to dominate the flesh.  Conquest is the solution. There have been countless conquerors in the history of humanity, as revealed in the many ruins of great empires hidden in the sands and jungles of the planet, but the people of the Book conquer with a special vengeance, because they are fundamentally pitted against an unconquerable enemy.

This is the climate of adversity in which vitality is constantly being suppressed and channeled into acceptable norms and standards.  For long periods in church history culminating in the Inquisition, this was actually a matter of life and death.

The Lie sets up a fundamental conflict in human consciousness whose painful compression generates compensatory forms that we know as compulsive behavior.  This pressure results in sexual compulsion in all forms, because sexual energy is never given its proper place or scope.  It is to be cut, dominated and controlled, but neither vitality nor earth itself truly submits to this dominion and, over time, inevitably takes its revenge. Vitality rebels, seeks unwholesome and unacceptable channels.

St Paul’s War goes on and on.  The law lusts for control.  The flesh seeks revenge.  The guilt from this excess and compulsion multiplies upon itself, creating more pressure and more guilt.  A cycle gets generated which is constantly seeking compensation and escape.  Illicit sex happens.  The cycle becomes ever more vicious and, with uncontrollable contempt and internal rage, finally turns in upon innocence itself.  There is no more exquisite symbol of this cycle than the “victim” priests and the force behind their rape of innocents.  How else to explain this?

The climate of compulsive sexual desire and extreme puritanical reaction, the one always accompanying the other, is the reality in which westerners live, and by virtue of Western hegemony, the world.  It is deeply engraved as the norm of Western, now world culture. We take it as a given, but it is actually the Big Lie.

The Great Truth and its Traditions
The Lie is so fundamental to our self-understanding that few Westerners can identify it, let alone imagine an alternative.  Yet there are many.  Our other great cultural ancestor, Greece, provided one.

In The Greek Way, Edith Hamilton’s eminent paean to classical culture, she quotes an ancient Greek definition of happiness:  “The exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope.”  This prescription represents a view of life deeply contrary to the Semitic view.  Here, vital powers, all forms of vitality, are the great gift of Being.  One cannot imagine circumcision as a part of this culture.  The challenge was to afford all manifestations of vitality a scope, however it was naturally manifest, but to cultivate it along lines of excellence.  This, not conquest, was the basis of the Olympic games. The challenge of civilization would be how to bring all aspects of natural vitality, certainly including eroticism, into their highest form.  Areas of eroticism that have been thorny in Western Culture – including the love between men and the love of men and youths –were seen in Greek culture as vital impulses that were to be cultivated into their most wholesome form.  That is to say, these are manifestations of vitality in human nature and therefore naturally have a place of honor.  Men lovers are encouraged to bring the best and highest out of each other.  Older men may love youths in order to help them become greater men.  These are lines of excellence by which the primordial unity of spirit and vitality are accomplished and brought to completion in society.

In the imperial church, lovers of men, often taking refuge in the church where they could enjoy the exclusive company of men, were often sheltered by their sympathetic brethren, but when discovered, were persecuted and, outside the church, were often tortured and executed, and pederasts were forced into the dank cellars of the church, living the life of rats.  These are the creations of the universal church, which has refused vital power, allowing it no scope, and forcing it into the slimy depths where we discover it now.   This discovery, the rape of innocence built on the Big Lie, now, with all the force of cosmic justice, threatens to pull down the imperial edifice.

Greek culture was the alternative influence that the West did not take. It would seem that this insight died in the West with the Christian era.  However, challenges to the Big Lie periodically bubble to the surface of Western Civilization.  One such outbreak was the explosion of insight that generated the French Revolution, expressed in many revolutionary views of the time.  One critic and prophet of this wave was William Blake, the British poet and theologian.  In 1793, in the opening declaration of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake declaimed the Big Lie and proclaimed religious rebellion and erotic freedom.

“All Bibles or sacred codes have been the cause of the following Errors:
1.   That Man has two real existing principles viz: a body and a soul.
2.   That Energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body, and that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul.
3.   That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.
But the following Contraries to these are True:
1.   Man has no body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in these days.
2.   Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3.   Energy is Eternal Delight”

In the following prophetic screed Blake continues the argument with aphorisms pungent in defiance of conventional religion and morality, yet imbued with a biblical resonance:

“Prisons are built with stones of Law.  Brothels with bricks of Religion…
The pride of the Peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of a goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.”

And then a prophecy:

“The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end
of six thousand years is true, as I have heard from Hell.  For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy whereas it now appears finite and corrupt.  This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.  But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged.”

This impulse has simmered under the surface in the West finally exploding in the cultural revolution of the Sixties and the sexual revolution.  Now world culture presents many alternatives to the Big Lie.

The Great Truth is that before spirit and body, mind and earth, even good and evil, are separated and alienated from each other, there is a more primordial consciousness or spirit in which they are one. This “One” is the base of all consciousness, and may be apprehended by every human being whose path allows them to look deeply enough within. This spirit ground is the only true place to look for the divine.  The wise of the world have called it by many names, including “God.”

The Great Truth is not actually some ultimate fact.  Neither is there any great final sum of true things that constitutes this Great Truth.  It is rather a matter of the ever-evolving unfolding of the all and surrender to all that one is. More accurately, the Great Truth is, as Robert M. Pirsig observed in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the “Great Value.”  It is an ultimate state of realization, which is valuable above all else that can be said to be true, the highest achievement of the contemplative endeavor.

Because of the value of this pure ground that is apprehended through contemplation, the other great religious and contemplative traditions of the world have generated a different disposition towards nature and the body.  Ageless Taoism uses the imagery of nature in all its forms and manifestations to contemplate its source, the Tao. Excellence in culture must emulate the forms of this source.  Personal excellence is a life harmonious with this source. Hinduism and Buddhism, particularly in their tantric forms, use imagery such as the chakras, projected into the body and representing the different declensions of the pure ground of consciousness.  The body, in its multiple dimensions, thus becomes the temple, the primordial image of the divine. These are paths based upon the cultivation of primordial consciousness into its highest realization into the true nature of Being. They are forms of excellence affording full scope to all manifestations of vitality, because vitality is primordially divine.  (For further elaboration of these traditions, see “The Big Lie and the Great Truth” in The Heart of Reason.com.)

While the qualitative difference between spirit and body generates a universal tendency towards their separation, traditions based on the Great Truth do not tend to generate compulsive sexuality through repression and compensatory behavior. Those traditions held out a possibility of integral development that counters the universal tendency towards the Big Lie and transcends it.  Vital energy — instead of being randomly expended — is there ready to be used towards excellence, that is, in Platonic terms, toward the spiritual and luminous Good.  This is the experience of the vitality of the Light of primordial consciousness, producing a sense that one’s function as a living human being, with a body that can generate and circulate vital energy, is to direct this energy into the realization of pure Light.  In the context of the Great Truth one does with one’s mind and body exactly that for which they were created.  This is the excellence described in the Greek prescription, perhaps culminating in the provocations of Socrates and the classical excellence of Platonism and neo-Platonism.  This excellence generates a feeling of profound joy and peace unknown in the West, except perhaps to certain rebellious mystics and those in esoteric traditions grounded in neo-Platonism and other forgotten ancient traditions, deeply hidden from the Church, which have remained dedicated to the Great Truth.

In the West, the idea of living and cultivating the Great Truth is so threatening that it carries the expectation of a kind of cultural catastrophe.  The Imperium Church is, in a sense, a bulwark against the anarchy generated by the explosion of repressed vitality, a consequence of the Big Lie.  Its authority is understood to be necessary for society to maintain control. To relinquish all control on sexuality and vitality would be a license to licentiousness.  And this is just what happened in the Sexual Revolution.

The unity of primordial consciousness includes all dualities and the dynamics between them.  As we have seen in the cycling of indulgence and guilt, a great pendulum swings between all opposites — license vs. control, spirit vs. nature, good vs. evil.  These oppositions themselves are therefore comprehended in the Great Truth.  The victim priest complains that the more he tried to control his sexual feelings, the more the lust accelerated, and the more acceleration, the greater became his attempt to control.  This is the pendulum as it works itself out psychologically. But the pendulum swings in all spheres of culture as well as psychology. The excesses of the Sexual Revolution were the extreme swing of the pendulum away from a hundred and fifty years of Victorian prudery: puritanical excess must swing into sexual excess.  There is no true winner in this war. Puritanical forces exemplified by religious conservatism in the US, to say nothing of the moral condemnation of Western culture by Semitic Al Qaeda and the Taliban, is the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. This is why the fundamental tenet of Apollo was “Nothing in Excess” and of the Buddha, the Middle Way.  Excess always intensifies its opposite reaction. The middle way between mind and body, spirit and flesh, indeed all oppositions, points the way to a standard encompassing the given excellence of nature.  We never heard of it in the Christian Religion.

The Greater Tragedy
The ideal of domination based on the Big Lie is fundamentally flawed.  It foments a disposition to conquest. It leads to the rape of the God-given innocence of the human spirit, but also that of nature, of mother earth and her creatures.  The sexual abuse of the children of the church is but the consummate and eloquent symbol of this.

The ideal of spirit dominating flesh in the battle within the soul generalizes into the intellect and will to dominate nature.  Therefore, just as one is to control and master ones sexuality, one must control and master the earth.  Western conquest silenced the harmony with nature, pitting man against earth.  This has worked to a certain degree, giving (Western) Man true dominion over nature and the native peoples of the world, to say nothing of winning great capital wealth and progress, but because it is based in the Big Lie, it is not sustainable. Now its intrinsic contradictions, writ large by our successes and excesses, are exploding in our face.

Thousands of years after circumcision sealed the covenant by which nature is declared intrinsically flawed, the present result of this complex is not just a question of festering sexual discontents, it is a question of the entitlement by which Western progress has amplified and legitimized the human tendency to exploit nature.  Other cultures have certainly done this as well.  Some, like the Mayans, wiped themselves out by destroying their own lands.

But Abraham and his followers conquered with a vengeance as they generated a war against an unconquer
able enemy.  Fortified with the God of their own choosing, who in turn chose them, and in the name of God’s Son, the teacher of absolute love, they generated the entitlement, the arrogance that conquered the world in an unholy mixture of self-righteousness, greed and insanity.  The stories of Magellan in the Philippines, Cortes in Mexico, and Pissarro in Peru are revealing allegories of the entire exploratory and colonial enterprise. Their tragic outcomes are prophetic object lessons in the results of this unholy mixture. The Christian West succeeded in discovering the world (claiming it for their use) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, conquering and colonizing it in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and setting upon the conquest of the Earth through technology in the twentieth century.  In the twenty first century we will see the outcome of this war with Earth–the result of a war fought for millennia.

In the conquest of the Earth by the West, under the banner of the cross, the white man destroyed and enslaved the indigenous voices that honored nature and appropriated their lands and cultures.  This characteristic disposition towards nature, amplified by science, greed, and the explosions of population, have brought the queen of nature, Planet Earth, to her knees.  If these destroyed cultures were correct and she is divine, that is, having any divine will of her own, she must treat the human race as a pathogen and, in her rage, shake us off into the abyss.  What does this mean?  Ask the people of New Orleans.  Ask the Chinese victims of massive mudslides.  In a newscast from Pakistan in 2010, a man standing in the devastating flood cried out: “This is the end of humanity!” In the name of a righteous God and His son, the teacher of love, we have controlled, dominated and exploited the earth in a way that disregarded her wisdom. Now the earth is fighting back. This is turning out to be the real war of the twenty-first century.

The rape of innocence and the rape of the earth have the same root and are structurally the result of the same erroneous entitlement based on the Big Lie.

The Western refusal to acknowledge the way of nature set it against nature; now it has set the earth against us. It is all foretold in the wisdom of Greece and the notion of hubris: the arrogance and greed of man inevitably and tragically generates the nemesis that inevitably brings him down. This century will see a massive struggle with nature, whose furies have been released by the hubris of man dominating nature. The ecological traumas in the twenty-first century are the nemesis of the arrogance of Western man who thought he could dominate the force of life by cutting off the end of his penis and suppressing his women. The consequences of this attitude and disposition present the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century.

The remnants of the cultures overthrown, liquidated and enslaved by this domineering entitlement of “spirit over flesh,” exist in much of the Southern Hemisphere, and many from Western culture, seeing the trend, are turning to them and their disappearing spokespersons to interpret and find formulae for correcting the deep abuse of vitality.  The voices of these suppressed cultures are rising in a chorus around the planet.

The Big Lie is that spirit and body are fundamentally split and antagonistic. The Great Truth is that prior to this split there is one primordial consciousness and that bringing to awareness this level of consciousness through contemplation and cultivation is the only real possibility to attain truly transcendent and divine states of being. The great traditions of spiritual realization and transcendence are proof and evidence of this.  They do not result in the rape of innocence, but in the transcendent realization of true innocence into excellence. This transcendence of the divine is our only hope of guidance in this most perilous of all times.

What is the Church to Do?

History comes down to certain key episodes.  The Church is facing one of those moments now.

To comprehend the Error of which the Infallible Pope is the quintessential symbol, one must have deep pity and compassion for Joseph Ratzinger, standing there giving his blessing in the resplendence of the St Peter’s.  The emperor is wearing his new clothes.  The world is aghast.

The psychology of compulsive sexuality and guilt is so deeply engrained in Western consciousness, that it is impossible to “erase,” even by those who, realizing the Great Truth, become dedicated to it.  Ingrained propensities take generations to neutralize.  We are all living in the heritage of the Lie.  It is the Titanic, which cannot turn on a dime, but must be steered slowly to change direction towards a new course.  In fact the sexual revolution and its sobering aftermath are a process that may be bringing about this change.

Given the betrayal of its utter moral bankruptcy, could the church not lead the way to make this turn?  What would it take?

In fact, the Catholic Church could address this deep issue.  The possibility and means are there.  It would take a leadership of insight, character, charisma and yes, vitality.  That vitality would require an existential and ontological honesty that could look beyond the ancient traditions of the church into the truth of Being.  Such a leadership would have to be so radical and youthful in spirit and integrity that it will likely never happen.

But here are some possible guidelines:

1. Radically honest assessment, scientific rather than moral, of the effectiveness of the Church policy towards vitality.

What is the truth about the pope/emperors new clothes?  What is the actual truth about his own sexuality and how he has come to deal with it?  Let the top twenty princes of the Church honestly assess how they have dealt with their vital/sexual energy. This is not an inquisition, a moral investigation, but a scientific one: honesty providing data, not judgment.  This is autopsis, the perfect witness observing the human spirit from within. Let each of them recount the actual history of his or her sexual development.  What worked and what did not?  Which aspects of the policy and the priestly training really helped them to deal with their sexuality and which only contribute to the suppression and repression that foments the rape of innocence.

From this honest account, let the church come up with a policy around celibacy, marriage, and sexual expression that does not create a climate of guilt and place an unrealistic demand on the capacity for self-control.  Instead, let them create ways of dealing with these issues that reflect a cultivation of vital energy into excellence.

This focus on excellence would mean an education and encouragement of healthy sexual relationships outside of marriage.  It would mean same sex relationships that bring the best out of both parties.  And yes, it would mean intimate mentorships between older men and youths.  Excellence is the operative word.

2. Honest and informed evaluation of the way other religious traditions deal with vitality and sexual energy.

There are many valuable sources for studying these alternative ways.

As we have seen, there is much to be learned from the other great religious traditions, such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, where they have not been invaded by Christian or Semitic ideals such as the Islamic and British domination of India, particularly the cultural remnants there of Victorian imperialism.  Since these high cultures with their religions and traditions, have a very different attitude towards eroticism and vitality, let them provide an anthropological laboratory of alternative cultivation of eroticism.  They are now readily available
and have served as such a laboratory for many who have been able to study them.

Let the church drop its silly entitlement as “the one true Religion” and study and work these other forms until they understand how they reach the divine, that is, the fundamental way of Being.  How do these forms produce, by means of objective practices, an excellence of harmony that reflects the primordial unity of consciousness?  (For further discussion on this matter see a study of these objective practices in “The Big Lie and The Great Truth” , in TheHeartofReason.com)

3. Recovering the Mystery of Christ

Forgiveness, Grace, the transcendence of salvation, the miracle of Christ are existential truths belonging to a genuine spiritual process.  The business and authority of the Church are mere exploitation of these truths to garner and maintain power.

Hidden in the esoteric aspect of exoteric Christianity is a way that restores the unity of spirit and body by finding the nature of God prior to any such divisions and cultivating an integral unity with it.  This is called gnosis. There are striking points of correspondence between ancient Christian Gnosticism and the Eastern traditions.  These are the clues to the true value of Christianity.

Gnosticism is another shadow of the Church. The early history of the Church was a struggle that pitted the Gnostics who valued the state of being embodied and symbolized by Christ against the authority of control, as it was taking form under the patriarchs of the Church. The more powerful of the two, the one based on conquest and domination, won out, becoming the Imperium.  But in the process it sacrificed the most authentic, universal, and enduring function of Christianity in the human soul, destroying all the Gnostic gospels and relegating this existential aspect to the obscurity of the Christian Mystery, where even today, those who are sufficiently gifted spiritually can discern it in the canon of the church.

After the Church became the Imperium, its authority was amplified and sustained by its claim upon objective and moral truth.  Over the centuries the rise of the scientific method has eroded this authority over objective truth in a process that has been traumatic both for the church and for its scientists.  The second source of Imperium authority was Christian morality.  This too has eroded in the course of its history through its many exertions of power, featuring the Inquisition and colonialism, which were deeply corrupt morally.  The rape of innocents, however, has ended its moral authority.  What is left?

The early history of the church has been clarified by the rediscovery of the ancient scriptures, The Gnostic Gospels, which were suppressed and largely destroyed by the Imperium when it came into political power.  Rediscovering the mystery of Christ will mean recovering and restoring the existential wisdom (as opposed to any dogma) of the Gnostic Tradition. The Gospels hold many clues to the truth of the mystery of Christ, which in no way relies upon the dominion of the authoritative church. Honoring these traditions and their wisdom will mean a new kind of respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ. (For further discussion of this issue, see “The Gospel of Judas: Who Betrayed Christ?” in TheHeartofReason.com)

A New Direction
The exposure of the rape of innocence in the church is an awesome spectacle, in a sense revealing the underlying history of the Church. I have tried to present in broad strokes the real issue behind these events.  The issue is so fundamental that it is reflected in the very character of Western Culture that has over the last 500 years increasingly dominated the world.

The offense is so great as to bring down the Church.  It is so fundamental that it pervades every area of our life.  If we can see into its true depths, we can use it as an object lesson and a basis for bringing about real transformation.

The Church will probably never be able to rise to the challenges suggested in the three guidelines above and will simply become less and less important, except as an opiate of the people.  It will be part of a greater demise of organized religion, in favor of a more atomized spirituality.  This is in fact the further maturation of democracy in religion, what Walt Whitman described as “the religion of no religion.”  In this, we are each on our own.  However, each individual can follow the three guidelines for himself or with others who have the same mission: to roll back the Big Lie and rebuild life on the foundations of the Great Truth.  This will not mean the end of Christianity, but its rebirth.

To achieve this, we must turn with a new kind of innocence to face vitality in all its forms.  We must turn to the indigenous peoples whose cultures we destroyed to guide our relationship to the biosphere, within and without.  We must join hands with them to turn from dominating and exploiting the Earth, to divining her secrets and complementing them.   We must learn from the great spiritual traditions how to face our inner vitality and bring forth new forms of excellence to accord with it.   Let those who would save us become receptive to the innocence of the given and go forward.

We can only pray that it is not too late.

What was that Greek formula for happiness?
“The exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope.”

To go forward let us take heart from our ancient Greek ancestors and expand upon this formula.  Let us, in the conduct of our personal lives, and in the modification and creation of all the institutions and forms of our world civilization, afford the true scope of our given vitality, come to know, celebrate and be informed by its nature and laws, and create ever new ways to exercise these vital powers along lines of excellence.  That would be life in the Great Truth.

 

The Big Lie and the Great Truth

The split between the spirit and the flesh is a subtle fallacy which has had fundamental and dire consequences in the development of Western Culture from the beginnings of Semitic culture. Bodily consciousness and spiritual awareness are essentially one, and this is the ontological base for realizing the oneness of God.

The Big Lie and the Great Truth

Contents

The Big Lie

1. Identity Unrooted

         The Semitic Tradition

2. Man vs Nature

         Western History

3. Sex vs Spirit

         Eroticism and Spiritual Potential

The Great Truth: All is One

         The Body as the Temple

         1.  The Innate Wisdom of Body Awareness as the Source of Gnosis

                  The Garden into the Kingdom

Chi: The Innate Wisdom of Body Awareness as the Source of Gnosis in East Asian Religious Practice

2.  The Method of Tantric Yoga

                  Working with the Chakras

3.   A Scenario of the Tantric Integration Process

                  The Importance of the Root Chakra

                  The Pattern of Breathing and Visualization

                  The Systematic Transformation of the Chakras into Gnosis

The Peace of the Great Truth

 

 The Big Lie and The Great Truth

 

The Big Lie: Flesh vs Spirit (body vs mind)

 

The flesh lusts after the spirit and the spirit lusts after the flesh.

St Paul

What St Paul says in this famous quotation is at once the problem and the suggestion of a solution.  The problem is that in the Semitic tradition the spirit and the flesh have been so construed, seen as fundamentally separated, that each is incomplete without the other.  Falsely separated, they “lust” after each other.  This lie produces the fundamental angst of Western consciousness.

1.  Identity Unrooted

We understand that birth is an original trauma of separation from the Mother.  Healing this trauma at our source is the stuff of religion and makes pilgrims out of all humans.  Yet we come into a consciousness, which, though undifferentiated, is one.  Subsequent experience of the freedom of the mind and the limitations of the body, however, leads to a fundamental human tendency to differentiate them.

This universal tendency takes on a special character in the West.  The original separation comes out of Semitic culture.  As the New Testament is based in the Old Testament, so Christian culture is based in Semitic culture.

We have learned from the feminists that the cultures descended from Semitic culture have been male dominated. Much is to be seen by starting with the earliest experience of the male infant in that culture.

Consciousness enters with conception, it grows as one in the mother.  At birth that consciousness is full unitary potential, one, body and mind undifferentiated.  Then in a moment of primal, original, and unimaginable pain something at the most essential core, something bodily, secret, intimate and close to the center of ones unitary being is severed.  A chorus of adult voices chant their approbation. This event, possibly the first memory, at once severs the (internal and intrinsic) primordial connection to nature, true power, and simultaneously seals the connection to the (external and extrinsic) authoritative God.  It sets the ground for an identity traumatically alienated from its roots and stressed in a lifetime of trying to regain union.

ChristCircum  Circumcision of Jesus

This is circumcision, a fundamental Semitic event happening at the beginning of life to each male child from the time of Abraham as a sign of his covenant with God, and followed ever since by all males in the traditions descended from the patriarch.

I am not saying that circumcision causes Western Culture, but that it reflects a certain archetypal quality of the Western psyche, which has always been male dominated.  This ritual act and the thinking behind it sets up Western culture in a characteristic way. There are of course many “gentile” Christians who are not circumcised, yet they still live in a culture grounded in the original Abrahamic identity uprooted in this way from its primordial nature. These are the men who have shaped Western Culture.

This ritual act grossly establishes something very fundamental: you were made wrong!  This raises all sorts of weird ambiguities that remain largely in the shadows. For instance, if God is perfect and good, why did He make me this way?  Why does His perfect work have to be mutilated in order that I might be put right?  His perfection thus made terribly wrong, must I then spend the rest of my life trying to attain union with Him?  Is it not this wound, passed from generation to generation, that establishes and continually confirms Original Sin in the first place? How can the child in his innocence deal with these questions, particularly in a culture of adults that never address them? Does this not imprint upon him forever what he will experience for the rest of his life as guilt and anxiety?

With this miasma of primal questions relegated to the shadows and never addressed, the covenant with the Semitic God is sealed.  But before the fundamental agreement is secured, the man-child is violently and irrevocably separated from what is given.

Let us be clear, this covenant between man and God is based on a primordial, traumatic separation which is self-inflicted.

SelfFlagellationChristian flagellants

 

2. Man vs Nature

The human is a psycho-physical being.  Dividing the physical off from the psyche sets up a contradiction in reality.

What is actually happening here is that the mind has rejected the primal body with all of its awareness and connection to primordial being.  In the last hundred years this has been clarified as the nature of psychological pathology; first by Freud as the repression of the id, or the itness of the body/psyche, and then by Jung as the formation of the “shadow”. What is rejected forms itself into sabotage.  The rejected being turns negative and becomes the antagonist. The body and its energies, and by extension, nature itself, become the enemy of the spirit/mind.  The control of this enemy and its persecution becomes the main challenge of life and the function of Western religion.

Separating mind off from body violates the primordial unity and creates a state of chronic internal division and anxiety.  This is the Fall.

 

Western History

Judaism created this split, cemented in the consciousness of each new generation by circumcision, thus producing a fundamental angst and guilt. Then Jesus Christ appeared to show that only foundational love could heal this angst.  Some early Christians followed his inspiration and found a way to renew the primordial unity through gnosis.

A description and a full discussion of gnosis is to be found in the long essay, The Heart of the Matter. In the present essay, we will consider gnosis as the understanding which is a return to the primordial unity of spirit and body.

Gnosis is returning understanding to the original given state of awareness, the Garden. When the primordial unity is rendered conscious through gnosis, it becomes the true Kingdom.  This is the nature of true power.  However, gnosis does not wield power, nor does it control.  It unifies and empowers: it does not divide and conquer.

When Christianity was brought under the hierarchical structure of Rome and became the Catholic Church, the deeper unifying truths realized through gnosis were co-opted into external authoritarian fact, which furthers the Semitic tradition of setting the spirit against the body, thus creating a fundamentally anxious existence riddled with guilt.  The Kingdom became exiled to the afterlife, and the anxiety fed into the resolve in this life to exert control over one’s body and behave oneself.  When Christianity became the State Religion, it got relegated to the Roman power structure which attempts to legislate and regulate behavior in a fundamentally anxious existence based on a self-generated and perpetuating split.  It is like the man who sets fire to houses and then provides a service for putting house fires out, which becomes a very lucrative business.

Thus in the Hebraic and Christian traditions, the split of flesh and spirit became foundational to the development of the Western concept of human nature in which mind and spirit are at war with nature, derisively labeled “flesh”.  This is a usurpation of Christ by the anti-Christ of power lust.

In this war of spirit and flesh, domination becomes the central theme.  The spirit MUST dominate the flesh or else all is lost. Among the myriad reasons that Western Culture has come to dominate the world, this is perhaps the metareason.  Since men identify women with fleshly lust, they must be dominated and held in place.  When this was added to Greed, the formula became deadly.  Since the indigenous cultures of the world have not been indoctrinated with the Christian truth of spirit over flesh, they must be destroyed, enslaved or at the very least clothed in modesty. By the way, while we are imposing upon them our Christian truth, the resources of their lands can make us very rich.  Since Nature is the source of flesh, it too must be controlled and enslaved. Science can dominate nature, and technology can exploit all this planetary resource.

Where has all of this led us?

The most powerful impulse in Western religious history to reconstrue this narrative of spirit vs flesh and to reground the Kingdom in the Garden, was led by St Francis, who sought to heal the breach by reestablishing a simple, holy relationship to nature, which he believed to be the truth of God.  Though he came to be revered with great sentimentality, he did not succeed in his dream of “rebuilding the church”. In fact the church dealt with his simple tendency to reform the relationship to nature with characteristic cunning: it assimilated the Franciscan Order into itself and built grand temples adorned in gold to honor Francis.

With this holy project thus incorporated into the power of the Church, the way was clear for the domination of the world, starting with the invasion of the Southern Hemisphere by sword and cross.

The Enlightenment furthered the project to lift Western man out of the experience of nature, by promoting the practice of observing nature and manipulating it, creating science and technology which dreamed of creating the Kingdom on Earth.

Yet it did not satisfy the human heart. In the Romantic period great sentiment to return to nature took hold. Romantics longed to reunite with heart and soul and the givens of nature. One star of British Romanticism, poet and theologian William Blake, succinctly diagnosed the Big Lie and identified the basis of the Great Truth.   In 1793 in the opening declaration of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake stated this thesis in concise terms.

“All Bibles or sacred codes have been the cause of the following Errors:
1.   That Man has two real existing principles viz: a body and a soul.
2.   That Energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body, and that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul.
3.   That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following Contraries to these are True:
1.   Man has no body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in these days.
2.   Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3.   Energy is Eternal Delight”

In the late nineteenth century the forces of nature came to be seen as a kind of godless force, the Will of nature and instinct.  Darwin demonstrated this in external nature, and Freud demonstrated it in internal nature.  This Will, raised to a kind of religion by Nietzsche, was glorified in two traumatic world wars that profoundly exhausted all efforts to realize the enlightenment dream of applied science as the savior of civilization and resulted in the annihilation of all essential value. The victors led the world into unparalleled development, which began to overwhelm nature on a planetary scale.

The longing for an authentic relationship to nature exploded into the sixties, which ushered in a dream of realignment with nature, through sexuality, through the equality of all humans before nature, in the growing ecological movements, and through a diaspora of Western youth into the spirituality of Asia and indigenous cultures still integrated by their sacred relationship to nature.

As for the Enlightenment dream of dominating nature through science and technology, it has turned into a nightmare.  Western man, fueled by his antagonism against nature, and in marked contrast to most other traditions which honored nature, set out upon a conquest and exploitation of the earth that has resulted in a destruction of the environment that now threatens the very existence of the human species.

 

3. Sex vs Spirit

One of many consequences of this complex, producing anxiety on the most intimate level, is the mishandling of vital or sexual energy in the Christian tradition.  The stance of the church towards sexual expression outside of marriage is “Just say no”. Like its modern cousin in drug policy, this strategy exerts control but doesn’t work. It never has.  The priest and the prostitute are in business together.  The priest creates the guilt, which foments temptation and hunger, which the prostitute satisfies, which creates more guilt, which the priest then forgives with the admonition to not sin again….

The one situation in which the breach of body and spirit may be authentically healed is the marriage bed, in the case where the chemistry is right.  Here the ecstasy of sexuality may ascend through the heart of love into the bliss of sacred union.  This experience of the primordial union is regarded as a great blessing in the Semitic tradition and has caused romantic love to be raised in the West to the status of true fulfillment, up there with salvation.  As the culture has become more and more secularized, romantic love has been raised to a universal cult, now the obsession of pop culture the world over.  While the split of body and spirit remains deep in western culture, every loud speaker in the world proclaims its only antidote in rhythmic and lyrical paeans to romantic love, celebrated obsessively as the only true value in life.  However, this is a blessing vouchsafed to a few.  Fewer still are those married who find their way to sustain this kind of union for a lifetime of sexual/spiritual satisfaction on the part of both partners.  Very few indeed.  And the others?  The other 95%?  Well, just say no.

As the sexual scandals of the church become more and more appalling, it becomes increasingly clear that the “just say no” policy of the church towards sexual energy, is demonically dysfunctional, indeed malignant.  In words the Pope used to describe homosexuality, this handling of vital energy is “intrinsically disordered”.

The Western attitude towards sex culminated in the repressiveness of the Victorian period, which, as Freud and Jung showed, sets man against himself, thus creating a deep pathology.  Sexual repression continued however up until the early Sixties, when the suppression exploded into the sexual revolution with its own attendant obsessions and painful excesses.

 

Eroticism and Spiritual Potential

In fact, hidden in the Christian story has been an underlying theme that the height and genuineness of spiritual experience was inversely related to the capacity for depth of erotic experience.  Original Christians, those true to themselves rather than to the traditions, often understand this.  Some of the greatest Christians were very experienced in sex, reputedly Mary Magdalene, who was the first to realize the risen Christ, and Saint Augustine, who was the first to frame Christianity in the context of the great Platonic tradition.  Christians like to believe that when these spiritual giants became Christians they gave it all up.  However they may have reformed and repudiated it subsequently, their prior sexual experience and understanding was still part of their total experience and make up.  Another perspective would be that the depth of their sexuality was the basis for the originality and heights of their spiritual insight.  This alternative possibility is now corroborated by an entirely different form of information, which comes from a growing comprehension of the great spiritual and religious traditions outside of the West.

Gnosis does not support a stand against the body, but reaches back into the intelligence of consciousness that is prior to a split between body and spirit.  This it does by realigning primal bodily awareness with mind.  This union is the basis of true spirit, which alone is capable of receiving the fullness of gnosis.

 michelangelo_paintings_3

 Crucifixion sketch, Michelangelo

 

The Great Truth: All is One

         Flesh lusts after spirit and spirit lusts after flesh because they have been traumatically separated and falsely identified and, as such, underneath, they yearn for each other. This produces a fundamental anxiety in which lust is a form of desperation.  On a deeper level, they desire each other because they belong together. Most primordially, however, they are not separate, but one.  That is to say bodily consciousness and spiritual awareness are essentially of the same origin and are the ontological base for the oneness of God.  This is the Garden the realization of which is the Kingdom.

davincivmanVitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci

 

 

      

The Body as the Temple

The fundamental human tendency to separate mind and body has been dealt with in different ways by the great religions of Asia.

The body is the primal fact of existence.  It is the given.  Everything else that the mind construes — stories, myths, images — are constructs in a world which very possibly is just collectively imagined.  The body however is different.  It is the concrete given of God.  Therefore the body, not the stories fabricated for human belief, is the primordial access to God.  It is that within which consciousness may authentically become aware of its own divine nature.  This is the basic insight of Yoga.  It sharply divides West from East.

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root, yuk, which means “yoking or uniting.”  The most sophisticated of these unifying traditions are the yoga practices from the Sanskrit tradition, Taoism, the contemplative tradition growing out of Chen Buddhism, and the Tantric schools of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, which cultivate the root awareness of the body and use it to inform and cultivate the intelligence, thus “uniting mind and body” creating true spirit, the source of gnosis.

Asia has had its great dominators, but they did not have the same fierce complex of Spirit vs Flesh underlying and fueling their need to dominate.  That is perhaps why they have not, up to this time, overtaken the world as did Western culture.

The practices of these great Asian traditions are methods for returning the mind to its primordial or natural ground, the Garden.  These conceptions are absolutely alien to the Semitic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  For these religions, the Garden was lost with the Fall.

1.The Innate Wisdom of Body Awareness as the Source of Gnosis

The great truth of the Garden as the base for the Kingdom, the primordial oneness of being, is alien to the Western mind.  Therefore this discussion has two purposes:

– To show that the alienation of mind and body is not intrinsic to the human situation nor absolute as it is regarded in the West, but belongs to the Semitic/Christian tradition.

– To show how the practices of the great Eastern traditions systematically generate gnosis by bringing the body and the mind together, as it were, uniting the branches of mind with its roots in body awareness to realize the trunk of authentic human being.  This is the tree of true knowledge.

To truly reveal how this split is overcome in the Asian contemplative tradition is to take a Western reader further and further afield from recognizable territory. For those unfamiliar with Asian religions and practice, this discussion will become more and more alien.

In the end the unification of mind and body is not an intellectual proposition.  It is, like gnosis, a state of being. Therefore the following goes over the same process of unification in a progressively detailed manner, each time going into a deeper analysis.

– First we will go over the general principle of generating gnosis through chi or bodily awareness.

– Second, there is a more articulated description of how this union is brought about in different contemplative practices.

– Third, there is a completely articulated description of how the Kingdom is achieved through the Tantric method of contemplating the chakras.

In order to get a real understanding of the Great Truth, stay with the first description, understand it better, go through the second, get as full an understanding as possible on an intellectual level, use the third, articulated discussion, to understand how gnosis is generated and what it is.

 

The Garden into the Kingdom

At a very fundamental level our consciousness has never left the Garden. It is this that gives us such longing, such pleasure, and the peace that we experience in nature.  We all come into the Garden, get separated by the world, spend our lives as pilgrims on a path, which as gnosis grows, becomes clearly oriented toward reunion that ends in the Kingdom.

Taoism may be the most ancient of the great Asian religions, but it is certainly most fundamental in the sense that nature, the external Garden, and the body, the internal Garden, are both the central objects and metaphors of contemplation by which intelligence is shaped into gnosis, understood in Taoism as knowledge of the basic “way” of being, the Tao.  This characterizes the archetypal approach to religion in Asia.

TaoistlandscapeTaoist landscape

 

Chi: The Innate Wisdom of Body Awareness as the Source of Gnosis

These great Asian traditions are generally based in the experience and contemplation of the fundamental body-based energy of life or being, known as CHI.  Chi is the basic awareness that is both body and mind, fundamental life consciousness. This source is symbolized, figured, and contemplated as the body center, four finger widths below the level of the navel, known in the Zen tradition as hara, in the Chinese tradition as d’an tien, and in the Hindu tradition as the nabi chakra

From the outset it is essential to clarify the distinction between conceptual/ linguistic knowing based on empirical information and chi awareness. Whatever constructs the mind invents to explain its existence is derivative. Derivative means names and forms, or concepts and language formed out of experience. The body is the given of human existence. It is also its source.  Its form is the primordial metaphor of consciousness, providing an imagery that is more original to the natural mind than any conceptions, histories, or mythologies can ever be.  Furthermore, however, the body is itself conscious.  This consciousness is chi.  Chi is not concepts, ideas or empirical information about the objective body, such as we find in Western science, but the body’s awareness of itself.  Its “cultivation” in East Asian religions is in fact uncovering a primal awareness that is chronically covered over by our lives construed in names and forms, or concepts and language. This dislocation of concept/form from actual bodily consciousness is a separation of body and spirit that is universal.  But it is compounded in the particular way that we have discussed in Semitic monotheism. This primordially unitary bodily awareness is the root of the natural mind.  These roots are the direct source of gnosis.

Cultivating chi and learning how to contemplate it means that one is engaging a knowing that is directly related to the root of being.  This engagement opens up the awareness and ultimately the gnosis that is prior to the split of “body and spirit”  It is more primordial than this split, more whole, more holy.  As the mind becomes receptive to this awareness it opens itself up to direct access to chi, which access, through careful contemplation, becomes gnosis.

In Ch’an and Zen Buddhism, the fundamental spiritual technique is to return the mind to awareness in body center chi.  What incomprehending Westerners have described as “contemplating your navel,” is concentration into this center which relocates consciousness in body generated awareness as the source of mental awareness.  It realigns the mind with the body. The experience of hara is to enter into the silent emanation of life consciousness from its source.  This emanation radiates into awareness as gnosis.

All of the active meditations, such as those Westerners refer to as “the martial arts,” are also disciplines which center consciousness and activity in the body center. Whereas in Zen sitting, centered stillness emanates the utter silence, “the emptiness” of gnosis, motion meditation provides experience of primordial body energy emanating into the kinesthesis of movement, which is an archetype of all physical experience.  Perhaps the greatest of these, Tai Chi and its many variations, involve balanced movements that originate from the body center, but are slowed down to the point where they become the emanation of life, the actual experienced flow of chi into movement.  The movements are archetypal positions which cultivate realignment, body consciousness as the source of all mental experience.  Devotion to these practices allows the bodily source of awareness to instruct the mind with the primordial knowing of gnosis.

The purpose of the entire endeavor is to bring the chi (the Garden) up into the mind, where it reforms intelligence, and returns to the heart, the center of being as blissful union. (The Kingdom)

Integrating the polarity of sexuality and the highest spirit means returning to the Garden of their primordial unity.  This polarity is understood and integrated, but grounded in the conscious experience of their primordial oneness.  This is the experience of monism. This is the Kingdom.  It obviates the need for domination at its core.

 

2.  The Method of Tantric Yoga

The process of awakening chi, or bodily awareness and allowing it to reconstitute intelligence is handled in a different way, with another kind of technology, developed in the contemplative traditions of India.  These techniques are called Tantra. There are two forms of Tantra, left- and right-handed.

Left-handed Tantra proceeds by sexual practice which is actually a deep penetration into the nature of sexual energy and bodily reality. In this form of Tantra, sensuality and sexuality are cultivated into deep bodily awareness, and the achievement of high blissful states becomes a spiritual path. Orgasm is separated out from ejaculation and contemplated as the clear light of consciousness, which with practice and detachment, in time begins to radiate gnosis.  Ritual intercourse focuses on the blissful union of active and receptive (yang and yin) capacities and their divine union, which is a whole other way of achieving mind/body unification.

The Christian advocacy of the union of man and wife into one flesh in the West permits this form of access to the primordial undifferentiated consciousness.  In fact it is the only means in the Christian tradition, but because of the negation of the flesh it is virtually unspeakable.  There are no Christian scriptures prescribing how this is to proceed or be cultivated.  You say your marriage vows and then you’re on your own.  By contrast the left-handed Tantra in India and China has been a refined field of spiritual endeavor in which detailed instruction abounds.

There is much in the Tantric tradition which promises success through this methodology, but at the same time this left-handed path has always been considered very dangerous because, as anyone who has practiced it understands, it’s intrinsic pleasure tends inevitably to becomes an end in itself.  The practice originated in a culture that was not dedicated to the split of body and mind.  That split, as we have seen, creates the mutual lust of body and mind for each other, the root of our Western compulsions around sexuality.  Many Westerners are attracted into this path as a function of our sexual revolution, itself related to the attempt on the part of Westerners to heal the breach of body and mind. Except in the case of those who are unwaveringly dedicated to spiritual development, this path almost inevitably degenerates into mere cultivation of sexual pleasure and feeds into sexual addiction, a distraction which becomes increasingly destructive. Breaking with this diversion is a difficult process in its own right, requiring a drastic process such as the Twelve Steps.

The other form of Tantra, called “right-handed” is a systematic contemplative method for discovering body awareness, working to transform it into the intelligence of wisdom.  This is often called “seated Tantra,” because it is traditionally done cross-legged in a “lotus” position, which itself may be contemplated as the image of a unified mind and body, as the upper body sits rectified on a balanced and grounded base.

As in the case of Zen and Chen contemplation, seated Tantra begins with a deep cultivation of chi awareness. This means that the awareness can drop out of its mental preoccupations into pure body-based awareness.

This is a summary of the way chakra practice proceeds.

As a Tantric, one cultivates the experience of this level of consciousness, or chi, to the point where one learns to identify and inhabit this ground directly.  This is already a spiritual accomplishment as it provides a cradle or base of peace to which one can always retreat. Moreover, contemplation of chi begins to yield base knowledge of consciousness itself, which yields conscious apprehension of the nature of existence.  This is an extatic experience. Outer nature is the perfect image of chi awareness.  It constantly radiates the chi awareness which has been overlooked internally. Once this relationship is corrected through the internal accession to chi, nature becomes the blissful objective correlative of a subjective experience that reflects the primordial union before the Fall.

Tantra proceeds as this chi awareness grows very intense and enters the heart, where, recognizing itself, it becomes joy of universal love for all that is sensate. Further on, the chi awareness approaches the intelligence, which recognizes the apprehension as the base truth, gets informed by it, reshaped as it were in the understanding of primordial existence.  This corrects the mind’s wiring to the separated state to which Western consciousness is so committed, and regrounds it in primordial unity with the body.

This is the healing of the mind. It can be called the new mind, but it is “new” only in respect to the separated state, the norm which is falsely understood to be basic.  In fact it is the natural mind, the intelligence that is one with being.  The mind has been healed of The Fall, and The Garden has been regained. The mind that has lived in the intelligence and intellect of the Fall, but is regenerated by the Garden, enters the Kingdom.

The illumination of the new mind is experienced as bliss, which becomes the presence of the divine. This is the enlightenment of the spirit, of consciousness itself.  This bliss of enlightenment is then directed to the heart where it becomes true compassion, that is overwhelming love, experienced as an absolute dedication to the well-being of all that is sensate.  Again it is important to understand that this is not a mere intellectual or sentimental proposition, but a state of being.  This experienced conviction is directed primarily at other human beings, as it sees each individual as the one human being whose real condition is also this state.  But it is further the dedication to all that is sensate through the understanding that the physical and the sensate are actually one.

This creates the Kingdom: intrinsically one with all being and dedicated to the well-being of all that emanates from it.  This is the one God, the existential experience and grounding in the one, the state of monism.

This existence out of the heart, the presence of God, is innately good, which means it is spontaneously moral. This is the radiant nature of the Good.  It is true morality, but until the Kingdom is realized and morality (the Good) is intrinsic to thought, morality has to be legislated and enforced from above. The necessity for this legislation returns the situation to the role of authoritative Religion, and there it becomes subject to the vicissitudes of power, best summarized in the proposition that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This perversion, which comedic commentator Bill Maher describes as “religulous” provokes the kind of anti-religious vituperation that dominates current Western Culture.

Perhaps you have understood the basic point that the Big Lie of the split of spirit and flesh can be supplanted by an actual experience and knowledge of the Great Truth, the primordial oneness of being.  In many ways this lies at the base of the difference between East Asian culture and Western culture derived from Semitic religion.  However, if you want to understand this further, proceed carefully.  Now we will go over this same material as it presents itself in seated Tantric practice, showing the actual steps, involving breath and visualization by which the Kingdom may be accomplished.

 

Working with the Chakras:

Visualization and the Transformation of Chi into Gnosis

In the very ancient tradition of Tantra the process of unifying with the roots of being became formulated into the notion of chakras, points of awareness located along the spine.  The spine is thus the image of primordial bodily consciousness. The chakras differentiate this consciousness into levels or spheres of body-based awareness.

spinalchakrasChakras in the spine

Chakras are ways of symbolizing and articulating levels of chi awareness.  They are a tool for contemplating primordial bodily awareness, articulating the root of gnosis, and integrating it into intelligence, the fruit of wisdom, thus returning consciousness to its praeternatural state, the experience of which is bliss and compassion.  It brings the Garden into full awareness, therefore producing the Kingdom.

The validity of the chakras is not that they physically or materially exist, but that they are an effective meditative device.  Various Tantric traditions differentiate the chi awareness into various forms.  There are systems of three, five, seven, nine, twelve, even up to 108 chakras.  This does not mean that these systems contradict each other. Each represents a different way of articulating subtle levels of bodily originating consciousness, of, as it were, cutting up the pie of given human awareness.

The base, source and union of these chakras are figured either as the spine, or in some traditions as a central channel rising through the center of the body from the perineum to the crown. We will stay with the more primordial image of the spine. The points of awareness envisioned along the spine are actually aspects of chi or bodily awareness.  Be clear however, this is not anatomy, and we are not competing with anatomy. The chakras located along the spine do not “objectively exist,” but constitute a tool for focusing awareness or contemplating levels of primordial awareness.  They are a mental tool for accessing pre-mental, non-derivative, or given awareness.

The discipline is learning how to focus contemplation in each of these points so that the level of awareness associated with it becomes completely accessible.  The visualization is enhanced by various image based aids.  Some traditions imagine that the chakras are pearls.  Some image the chakras as flowers which bloom with growing awareness of that particular aspect.

 

3. A Scenario of the Integration Process

In the following I will examine generically this form of Tantra in order to  illustrate in some detail the process by which body and mind may be returned to their original unseparated state.  There follows the generic steps by which this process proceeds.

In this scenario we arbitrarily choose a system of seven chakras located along the spine. We will see each chakra in the image of a sun radiating this aspect of chi or bodily awareness. Each of these is a quality of chi which can be unified with intelligence.

1. The base chakra, a pink sun located at the perineum or tip of the spine, which radiates the conscious energy of sex and vitality.

2. The red/gold sun located at the level of the body center, which radiates fundamental bodily structure and survival.

3. The yellow sun located at the level of the solar plexus,which radiates the structure of physical reality and well being.

4. The green sun at the level of the heart, which radiates care, feeling, emotion and morality.

5. A light blue sun at the nape of the neck, which radiates intuitive knowing.

6. A dark blue sun in the center of the head, which radiates intellectual understanding.

7. A violet sun at the crown, which unifies all the chakras radiating all consciousness itself. When this sun is brought down and reunified with the heart chakra, it becomes the innate compassion at the core of unified consciousness.

In this scheme you can see that the unification happens by constantly reunifying the top to the bottom, in effect, heaven and earth. Just as the spine is originally one, so consciousness is one.  Therefore a special relationship exists between the polarity of chakra 1 (vitality) and 7, (highest consciousness).  This is the fundamental reunification that has to take place, because it brings the spine into its primordial unity. This is echoed in a special relationship between chakra two and six, union of intellect with the fundamental structure of body and life.  Similarly, chakra three (physical reality and well-being) informs five (intuitive knowing).  Everything revolves around the heart that draws the entire unity to itself which is the true center.

chakras unification  Chakra spiral

This unification is “new,” not in the sense that it never existed, but only in the sense that a false separation of mind and body has been rectified by the practice. I think the kind of wisdom that we find in indigenous cultures differs greatly because the separation has not taken place in the first place. However, wisdom regained from the separation, having been the condition of the mind inherited by the culture as in the West, has a special quality of transcendence.

So how does the practice accomplish this reunion?

The practitioner imagines that, as he concentrates into one of these suns, it becomes warmer, heating up, becoming brighter and brighter.  This image functions to intensify and amplify consciousness of that particular level of bodily awareness.  This facilitates bringing bodily awareness into mental awareness, thus integrating the bodily knowing with intelligence.

This is almost impossible to describe because our language uses name and form to serve a knowing that is more primordial than name and form.  This is why the name and form of chakras is fabricated as a means for focusing on the chakras as a way of bringing name and form back into the primordial awareness that is its source. In a way the mental imagery is a means for directing awareness into the body as its source. Once the realization is accomplished, this tool is no longer necessary.

 

The Importance of the Root Chakra

The root or sexual chakra has a special importance to the Big Lie and the Great Truth. Its sexual consciousness is the actual (hormonal) source of the mental projections of sexuality onto the world.  This separates the world into what turns you on and what doesn’t. This is the fundamental dynamic by which consciousness is thrown onto the world and attachment is formed.  This mechanism of attachment is the ongoing cause of the Fall whereby source and world are kept separated.

This is why the sexual chakra is specially important, because it is here that we find the root of the fundamental process by which our divine vitality is thrown upon the world away from the source. Knowing this, and being able to return the primordial energy to its primal bodily source becomes the possibility of true spiritual life.

To return the spirit from its fallenness into the world, this fundamental projection has to be reversed. The names and forms that stimulate or evoke sexual feeling has to be shut down and the awareness returned to the genitals with such intensity of focus that one reowns the root chakra as the source of sexual energy, thus reversing the natural tendency to experience the names and forms as the stimulating source.  This goes against all conditioning that has essentially thrown the fundamental vitality of sexuality onto external forms.

In a way the denial and persecution of the flesh so important to many waves of puritanical reform in the history of the church was a very crude and misguided way of attempting to achieve this fundamental return of projection to source.  The “denial of the flesh” should be a process for taking divine or given vitality back from its projections, experienced as lust for sex objects, into its source so that it can then be experienced as the root of the spirit.  Instead the “mortification of the flesh” starts with a form of hatred of the bodily self and proceeds by trying to eliminate the vitality altogether. To clean the bathwater it eliminates the baby.  This is one more result of the Big Lie in Semitically derived culture.

 

         The Pattern of breathing and Visualization

The following generic description of chakra meditation is intended to show how Tantric traditions draw out body energy consciousness and unify it with the mind to generate gnosis.

In the meditation process the contemplator brings awareness back into the chakra by very controlled breath and visualization into the transformative modification of intelligence and the realization of blissful totality and compassion.   With breath slowed to a constant long inhale and exhale, it may proceed something like the following:

Long slow inhale

You direct awareness, envisioned as intense heat bursting into flame concentrated into the spine.

Slow exhale

You concentrate awareness into the chakra or sun, which you envision as becoming very hot and luminous.

Slow inhale

You see the heat specific to the chakra as fire in the spine experienced as concentrated awareness, and you envisioned it traveling up the spine where it becomes very brilliant, illuminating the blue sun, reforming your intellect.  This is the union of body awareness and intelligence.

Slow exhale

This union creates its own joy of reunion which you envision as the heat of the chakra being shot up into the violet sun, the crown chakra, the totality of consciousness.  The experience of the totality is no longer ideational or conceptual, but is pure experience of the blissful nature of consciousness itself.

Slow inhale

You then visualize this heated, brilliant bliss, the realized crown chakra, descending into the heart which it inflames with compassion.

Slow exhale
You then breathe this compassion out through the body, charging it with awareness (chi), out into the consciousness of all beings in the universe.

 

This elaborate routine with each chakra is neither magical nor a one time thing.  It is a tool so alien to the Western mind that it takes years to really understand what one is doing.  I have been working with it for forty years. One has to become very adept, first at doing the visualizations and the breathing, then learning how to use this experience as a “lens” for observing the corresponding subtlety of bodily awareness, then as a tool for branding the intelligence with primordial bodily awareness, which produces a unification by which the totality of consciousness can be realized. This is true contemplation.

Therefore to become “an adept” the routine has to be practiced under the guidance of an accomplished proficient, through subtle trial and error, often over many repetitions, even many years.  With increasing proficiency in the use of the technique, it becomes a genuine pattern of contemplation.  It is this genuine contemplation which clarifies consciousness and gradually brings about gnosis.

 

The Systematic Transformation of the Chakras into Gnosis

Now on the model of breath and visioning just described let us go through the seven chakras, imagining each as a sun that radiates its own aspect of consciousness.

The first three chakras bring the bodily consciousness up into the mind. The last three bring the mental consciousness down into the bodily consciousness. They meet in the heart which is the center of being.  In this way the mind and body consciousness rediscovers its preseparated unity.

The routine of the first three chakras brings illuminated body consciousness up into integration with the mind.

The first chakra, imagined as a pink sun located in the perineum, radiates enthusiasm and connection and furtherance of life.  When expressed through imagination, it becomes our sexual fascination and obsession with objects in the world.

Experienced as chi on the inhale, it is withdrawn into its source in the perineum and, as a form of chi, experienced as pure vitality heated into concentrated life-positive force. With the outbreath it is brought up through the spine to the body center where it is experienced as the sense and instinct of moderation and balance, then up to the heart where it recognizes its own innate knowledge of the given or unconditional way of life as the instinct of what becomes known in Buddhism as “the middle way.” Then into the mind infusing it with the value of pure vital energy, life as ground wisdom, or dharma.  On the inhale this fundamental enthusiasm rises to the violet crown sun exploding into the fundamental blissful nature of consciousness itself. When this fundamental life enthusiasm and wisdom descends into the heart it recognizes its ground as the way of life itself, which breathed out into the consciousness shared with all sensate beings becomes pure life empathy and oneness, that is indubitable compassion for all things alive.  This results in the experience of oneness.

2. The second chakra is the red gold sun in the body center.  It radiates chi consciousness of the physical structure of the body, balance and the will of survival. When expressed through imagination, it becomes physical awareness and the drive of all commitment.

Inhaling fire into the spine and focusing into the body center, the red-gold sun becomes hot and luminous with the fundamental sense of body structure and survival (hara).  Passing through the heart chakra on the exhale, it becomes a sense of fortitude, of intrinsic justice, the path to the fruition of harmony. As it rises and heats the mind chakra it is experienced as will, commitment, definitive priority of life for self, loved ones, and species, and the intelligence of accommodation and organization.  Inhaling, it shoots out into the crown chakra experienced as the gnosis of the good as the center of existence.  Exhaling, it is brought down again into the heart, radiating as the wisdom of being producing foundational love, which is compassion.

3 The third chakra, the yellow sun at the solar plexus is the sense of physical reality. When  projected into the imagination it becomes “isness” or factuality,  the common structure of the physical body and world reality to which all intelligence of the outer world refers.

Inhaling fire into the spinal channel the yellow sun heats up and in the body center radiates chi as a sense of the common structure of physical and world reality. Reaching the heart it becomes a sense for conducting the self in this reality common to others, an empathetic sense of ones own needs among the needs or others, which produces temperance. Rising to the mind it brands intelligence with clarity about shared reality, brotherhood, truthfulness.  Shooting out the top of the head the chi heat becomes the gnosis of the peace of the union of spiritual and physical reality.  Brought back down into the heart it radiates into the common human world emptiness experienced as clarity in the common world.

4.  The fourth chakra is the green sun at the heart level shining forth care, emotion and morality.  When projected into mind it becomes the cares of our subjective world and the integrity of morality.  This is the center of the chakras and the sun in which mind and body reunite in the realization of original unity.

Inhaling fire into the spinal channel, the green sun heats up, filling the spinal channel with green fire.  On the exhale, the green body center radiates the awareness of all humans as one and the same consciousness, the knowing of which is omniscience.  As the fire reaches the heart it is experienced as limitless tolerance and the capacity for forgiveness.  Rising to the mind it becomes the commonality of all human hearts, sociable empathy, in its pure form, the omniscience which is the intelligence of “understanding”. Shooting out the top of the head the chi heat becomes the gnosis of the transcendental, the one consciousness that we all are.  Brought back down into the heart this is the truth of compassion, the ground of all morality.

As the lower three chakras bring the wisdom of chi up into the mind, so the higher three bring the mind down into the body.  This is the second phase of the integration process.

5. The fifth chakra at the nape of the neck is the intuition that refers back to the common structure of world reality, the isness of actuality, and construes its truth in terms of the common human heart.

Inhaling fire into the spinal channel, the light blue sun heats up and shines forth in the body center as chi in the sense of the strength of the wisdom of compassion. Rising to the heart with the exhale, this chi becomes realization of self which produces the essential prudence that is appropriate in the community of humankind.  Rising to the intelligence it modifies the understanding of balance and responsibility, confidence in ones own practical wisdom and respect for all, the intuitive clarity of the archetypal pilgrim path, or dharma.  Shooting out into the crown the chi becomes the gnosis of the nature of self and its path.  Brought back down into the heart it radiates the non-conceptual richness which is true knowing.

6. The sixth chakra at the center of the brain is the intellectual center which refers back to the body center, the source of chi, the structure of life and the adaptation necessary for survival and well being.

Inhaling fire into the spine and focusing into the mind center, it becomes hot and luminous and shines forth in the body center as truth.  Rising to the heart, this chi generates serenity and loyalty to truth.  Returning to the mind, reinforced with the chi, the intellect corresponds now to dharma, the beauty of all being, and wisdom as truth without position.  Shooting out into the crown the chi becomes the gnosis of liberation, which is freedom from all false attachment and posture.  Brought back down into the heart it radiates goodness and the sense of perfection.

7.  The seventh chakra at the crown of the head represents the entire spine as the whole of consciousness, the experience of which becomes the gnosis of wholeness, all consciousness.

Inhaling fire into the spine and focusing into the violet sun at the crown it becomes hot and luminous, sending violet flames into the spine.  As it focuses into the body center the violet sun shines forth as divine love which encompasses all.  Moving up into the heart it shines forth as goodness and into the mind it becomes immovable, solid wisdom.  At the crown it becomes the gnosis of pure diamond consciousness, the almighty.  Brought back down into the heart this bliss is experienced as ground consciousness radiating light and silent compassion into all humanity as its ground consciousness.

chakrasLeonardo’s Vetruvian Man with Chakras

 

 The Peace of the Great Truth

 At the end of what may be a very laborious process, the adept contemplator realizes that this luminous state of being is in fact the beginning, that which is and always has been present.   The primordial given state of consciousness, realized, becomes the enlightened state.  The Garden becomes the Kingdom, which is experienced as the true and absolute home of our being.   This is ultimate well-being.  The addictions of the body lose their hold. There is no longer any conflict between mind and body. There is no question as to the existence of God. Thus all spiritual and mental tension is released, resulting in a profound, inconceivable relaxation which the Upanishads calls, “the peace which passeth all understanding”.