Friday, October 23, 2009

Abhinavagupta In The News!

Here's a comment (below) I made to a post by Matt Browner Hamlin on Huffingtonpost, discussing the "fundamentalist atheism" of author Christopher Hitchens.

That post (linked above) points out that certain spiritual systems, such as the non-dual Kashmir Shaivism of Abhinavagupta, are every bit as scientific or more so than so-called "modern science".

I wholeheartedly concur, per my comment below.


Excellent article. Kudos on the mention of Kashmir Shaivism and Abhinavagupta. There is actually no conflict between science and religion; there is only misunderstanding between mistaken understanding of science and mistaken understanding of religion. Fundamentalist scientists are as blinded by their prejudices as fundamentalists of the religious persuasion are by theirs. Scientists claim to be interested only in reality … but so do religious adherents. However, as soon as a fundamentalist of any variety runs up against information their prejudices won’t allow them to consider … their prejudice wins by default, and the blindness remains. As you likely know, Kashmir Shaivism is much more a template than a specific system; any aspect of the consciousness-reality spectrum fits neatly within it. And, as with all other yogic/tantric disciplines, Kashmir Shaivism has a basis for verification that even science can’t match: the replicable experiencing of anyone who cares to test its premises for themselves. Good job; thank you for this post … I never expected to see Abhinavagupta make the news!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Tao Which Can Be Spoken Of Is Not The Tao

All bondage is conceptual.

Enlightenment is the releasing of attachment to form.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Advaita Round The World

Advaita literally means "not-two", or "non-dual", in Sanskrit. It's about engaging in practices and study which awaken us to the reality of our interconnectedness with all-that-is by consciously experiencing the openness of natural awareness as a single field.

This is the way it is anyway --- but this is usually obscured by the cloud-cover of conceptual thought, including the "thought called 'Me'".

Every major religion has one or more non-dual facets to it, and it seemed like a list of these might be useful:


Mystical Christianity
Gnostic Christian Kabbalah




Tantric Yoga
Advaita Vedanta





Western Mystery Traditions

Hermetic Alchemy
Celtic Druidism (certain schools)
Golden Dawn (or derivative paths)
Rosicrucianism (or derivative paths)


Largely or completely non-dual

That's just a quick list off the top of my head .... but there's a lot more non-duality out there (and "in here") than meets the eye, so to speak.

And, by the way, I do know I've omitted a couple of well-known religions (Sikhism and Jainism, specifically) - which is simply due to the fact that I don't know if they have a non-dual facet within that religion, or not. "Ditto" with respect to any others (Native American spirituality, for instance) from around the world, as well.

I think I'm familiar with all major religions and spiritual groups - I'm just not familiar with whether or not they all have a non-dual facet within them. My sense of it is: they do ... but I'm still researching this.

Non-Duality seems to have been original (as a teaching), in every religion - with all the symbolism and mythology of religion being a map back home to the reality of non-duality -- and all the sense of glaring difference between religions being due to comparison between various misunderstandings, not comparison between the original, non-dual teachings.

There is no inherent conflict between various religions and various religious teachings; there is only conflict between misunderstandings of various religions and various religious teachings.

The same is true regarding science and religion: there is no inherent conflict between science and religion; there is only conflict between mistaken understanding of science and mistaken understanding of religion.

Non-Duality is simply one term for fulfilled human consciousness, along, usually, with various practices and philosophical views which can help anyone to experience non-duality for themselves.

And please understand: I'm not referring to thinking about non-duality; I'm referring to experiencing non-duality -- which is always cited as the ultimate state, within every spiritual tradition. It has been called everything from enlightenment and self-realization, to God-realization and nirvana, to samadhi, to the ground of being, to the supreme state, to salvation, to heaven ... and by many other names, as well.

The rewards are unimagineable -- and they are available, for all of us.

And per this post, if you're interested -- and you're religious -- you don't even have to change religions, to fulfill your consciousness and fulfill the deepest promises of your religion, at the same time.

Despite many ridiculous statements to the contrary, over the course of history -- enlightenment, or salvation ("Salvation" comes from a Greek root, which comes from the Sanskrit root for the word "Sarve", meaning Whole or Entire; the same Greek root for "Salve" - which helps to Heal; to make Whole) -- is available for all, and contrary to so many statements that are even more ridiculous -- you don't have to accept anyone else's crazy ideas about anything.

Engage in the right practices (sitting silently for a little while every day, in efficacious ways -- we'll be discussing specifics, and/or pointing to them, as this blog proceeds), and experiencing applicable perspective shifts -- and before long, not only will you "win the ultimate prize" ... you'll realize (that you've already ... One).

And so, if anyone knows of any other non-dual paths I may not have included in my list above, please let me know.


What Does Mystical Mean?

A lot of us have heard the terms mystical, esoteric, occult and mystery tradition ... but what do they actually mean? Basically, they're analogous to "yogic" - and they mean: experiential -- they mean that the given tradition is about practice, as opposed to belief; about doing the things that will give a person the experience of that which is discussed in sacred writings.

Esoteric simply means "inner", as opposed to exoteric (about outer form, churches, temples, books, organizations, clergy, etc.).

Occult simply means "hidden" ... hidden because it's "inner", which is the last place people tend to look ... despite nearly every spiritual tradition emphasizing the need for this, repeatedly ("Be still and know that I am God", "The kingdom of Heaven is within you", "Know the truth and the truth will set you free", etc.)

Ultimately, every sacred tradition teaches about one thing, at essence: how consciousness actually operates, and how to enjoy its fulfillment.

Could this possibly be true?

You might want to find out.

Is it worth the effort?

It's worth everything.

Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, 33 Little Steps To Enlightenment

Some of you may remember just how popular and how controversial Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was, a few years back. For most people, Brown's newest endeavor, The Lost Symbol won't be as "Earth-shattering", primarily due to the lack of amazing disclosures about Jesus' personal life. However, this book actually digs deeper into the potential benefits of esoteric symbols, but in some very "pulp fiction"-y ways. The book is not that well-written (standard top-forty fiction type of thing), the story is okay, but kind of formulaic.

However, the esoteric symbolism itself, and what Dan Brown indicates it points to -- goes pretty deep, but stops just short of "full disclosure". Is this because Brown doesn't know ... or because he doesn't want to disclose more? I'm guessing it's the former.

Fortunately, I don't have that same constraint ... so I'll give you an example:

In The Lost Word, Brown mentions that the reason the Masonic tradition has 33 Degrees (levels of initiation), is because the spine has 33 vertebrae. So far, so good. He indicates that Heaven actually refers to "higher" mind, and that the Masonic symbolism of the staircase represents the journey from animal nature and base instincts, up the spine, to the Heaven of higher mind.

This is all fine, but the impression the book gives is that this is purely a symbolic representation -- that the spine simply "represents" the distance, or steps, between animal nature, and the spiritual awakening of higher mind.

The "little detail" that he fails to mention in his book, is that there's a daily practice you can do, which actually facilitates the neurobiology of spiritual awakening.

It's been around for thousands of years; it's one of the eight limbs of yoga, and is well understood by other mystical traditions around the world, as well; it's known as pranayama, or breath control.

One specific type of pranayama practice is known as "spinal breathing".

It's amazing, and it works -- and the results are beyond description, literally. Once I integrated this practice with daily meditation a few years back, I experienced more results, in terms of spiritual awakening in a few short months -- than I had experienced in years, without it.

It's all about knowing how to integrate and balance -- and there's at least one group I know of (which I participate in, and recommend highly and without reservation) who can help you do exactly that -- even if you've never meditated or done yoga before (and no, "yoga" doesn't mean "making like a pretzel" - if you can sit and breath, you can do this practice.)

And, as I can and do attest, it can change your life.

All that interesting esoteric symbolism is ... well, interesting ... to some .... but once you realize that spiritual awakening, much like physical exercise and nutrition, has literally been a (somewhat hidden, partially lost and/or misunderstood but still one hundred percent actual) science for thousands of years ... and that the results of practicing this science are the promises of all the great spiritual traditions (peace beyond all understanding, freedom beyond imagination, nirvana, spiritual liberation, self-realization, enlightenment; whatever else it's called ---- it's the fulfillment of human consciousness, it's real ... and you can have it.)

For more information, please visit the Advanced Yoga Practices Community.

Tell 'em Kirtanman sent you.