pItha nyAsa

The following are the pIthas used for nyAsa in the mAtR^ikA positions according to mahAmanthAna-bhairava tantra.

01. kAmarUpa
02. vArANasI
03. nepALa
04. puNDravardhana
05. purastIra
06. kAnyakubja
07. pUrNagiri
08. arbuda
09. AmrAtakeshvara
10. ekAmra
11. trisrota
12. kAmakoTi
13. kailAsa
14. bhR^i~Nganagara
15. kedAra
16. chandrapura
17. shrIpITha/shrIparvata
18. omkAra
19. jAlandhara
20. mAlava
21. kulatA (kulUTa)
22. devIkoTa
23. gokarNa
24. marukeshvara
25. aTTahAsa
26. virajA
27. rAjagR^iha
28. mahApatha
29. kollagiri
30. ekavIrA/elApura
31. sopAra/bhUpAla
32. jayantikA
33. ujjayinI
34. charitra
35. kShIraka
36. hastinApura
37. oDukasa
38. prayAga
39. pR^iShThapura
40. mAyApurI
41. urasA
42. malaya
43. shrIshaila
44. eruNDI/bheruNDaka
45. mAhendra
46. vAmana/vAruNa
47. hiraNyapura
48. mahAlakShmI
49. uDDiyAna
50. ChAyAchatra

Siddhi and Siddha

The scriptures of the three great kulas - tripurA, kAlikA and kubjikA (baDabAnalIya krama tantra excludes tArA as one of the chief shakti-s) refer to various categories of Siddhas.

The jnAna-siddhas

या सैव कथिता सद्भिः परा मुद्रा करङ्किणी |
एषा ज्ञानाख्यरूपाणां सिद्धानां संस्थिता कला |
मुद्रयित्वा पृथग्भेदं मुद्रेयं करणोज्झिता ||

The mantra-siddhas

पृथिव्यादि प्रकृत्यन्त तत्त्वविस्तारविभ्रमः |
द्विषट्कद्विगुणात्मा यः पारिमित्यग्रहान्वितः ||
तमेव निगलन्त्युच्चैः क्रोधान्मन्त्रमरीचयः |
मन्त्रसिद्धा यतस्तस्या व्योमधामक्रमोदिताः ||
क्रोधेन तत्त्वविभवं नयत्युग्रनिराकुला |
या मान्त्रं परमं वीर्यं सा मुद्रा क्रोधिनी स्मृता ||

The melApa-siddhas

द्विषट्करूपभेदेन ग्रन्थयो ये व्यवस्थिताः |
तानेव भेदयित्वेमाः शक्तयः प्रोदिताः पराः ||
महामेलापधर्मिण्यः सामरस्यैकविग्रहाः |
निरावरणचिद्व्योमधामस्था भान्ति नित्यशः ||
आपूर्य स्वबलोद्रेकसमुत्थं भेदडम्बरम् |
या स्थिता पूर्णविभवा निरावरणविग्रहा ||
भैरवी सैव विख्याता मुद्रा सदसदुज्झिता |
निस्तरङ्गविकासात्मसामरस्यैकनिर्भरा |
एषा मेलापसिद्धानां मुद्रेयं भैरवात्मिका ||

The shAkta-siddhas

पुर्यष्टकस्य गदिता वासनाबीजविग्रहाः |
शक्तयो याः सूक्ष्मतरास्तासां संहरणोद्यताः ||
दीप्तयो यास्तीक्ष्णतमा विगतग्रहधामगाः |
ता एव कथिताः सम्यक् शाक्तसिद्धा निरामयाः ||

The shAmbhava-siddhas

परादि वैखरीत्यन्तं वागुल्लेखचतुष्टयम् |
यतस्तस्यैव निरता भेदग्रासाय दीप्तयः ||
सामरस्यपदप्राप्तिदायिन्यो या विकस्वराः |
ख्यातास्ता एव शाम्भव्यो देव्यो निर्द्वयधामगाः ||
तडिल्लेखैव या व्योम्नि यान्ती सर्वोज्झिते पदे |
स्वप्रकाशविकासैकरूपा सा खेचरी स्मृता ||
या स्पर्शा स्पर्शगगने चरन्ती निर्निकेतना |
सर्वावरणनिर्मुक्ता मुद्रा सा खेचरी स्मृता ||

Advaita Vedanta and Zen: The Teacher–Student Dynamic

- By Leesa S. Davis

The Advaita deconstructive practice of self-inquiry (Atma-vichAra) and the Soto Zen practice of just sitting (shikantaza) have two aspects:
- the internal meditative inquiry, in which the practitioner internalizes the instructions and inquires into the boundaries of his or her personal experiencing.
- and the more external aspect of questioning and dialoguing with a teacher.

Thus, the deconstructive processes that these practices ignite takes place in a practice situation, that is, a context wherein the practitioner is in full existential engagement with a tradition, a teacher and a practice.

From the Advaita perspective, the practitioner seeks to realize that ultimate reality (brahman) and self (Atman) are, in essence, not different. From the Zen practitioner’s point of view, practice consists of realizing that, in essence, conditioned reality (samsAra) and unconditioned reality (nirvANa) are not two. Common to both traditions is the assertion that, in essence, there is no duality between the conditioned and the unconditioned or the relative and the absolute.

Although predicated on different ontologies, the non-dual systems of Advaita and Zen both deny any bifurcation between self and non-self, subject and object, cause and effect and so on. Hence, in practice, both Advaita and Zen deny any bifurcation between categories because they both deny, for different reasons, the dualistic thought processes and structures that create oppositional categories in the first place.

To this end, in the evolving trajectory of spiritual practice, both Zen and Advaita teachers aim to move students beyond their everyday dualistic thought processes and structures through ongoing deconstructive challenges to bifurcated categories and structures that support oppositional ways of thinking. In teacher–student dialogues, dualistic ontological boundaries and epistemological filters that are impeding the student’s insight are exposed by the nature of the questions asked, thus enabling the teacher to tailor his or her deconstructive challenge to the particular dualistic construction that the student is displaying. In other words, the questioning/dialoguing process enables the teacher to identify the dualistic stumbling blocks that the practitioner needs to move through. Importantly, this undoing also applies to dualistic attachment to or reification of the teacher–student relationship itself.

In the context of the practice situation, the student’s relationship to the teacher is pivotal in keeping him or her concentrated and committed to the ongoing process of practice and inquiry. In Advaita and Zen foundational texts, the importance of the teacher is clearly emphasized. In Upadeshasahasri, Shankara likens a teacher to a ‘boatman’, and claims that ‘knowledge of Brahman is not obtained in any other way than through a teacher. Dogen’s stance on the importance of the right teacher is repeated throughout the Shobogenzo and unequivocally expressed in Gakudoyojinshu, where he bluntly states: ‘When you don’t meet a right teacher, it is better not to study Buddhism at all’.

Contemporary practitioners generally reiterate this stance. When asked how important is the teacher, Zen practitioners usually respond with ‘essential’. According to one practitioner, the teacher ‘can see right through you, you can’t hide anything from them. To me a good teacher is just one hundred per cent all the time just showing you your self’. In addition to this, another Zen practitioner claims that a teacher can ‘point out things and straighten you out when there are problems’ and is ‘someone that holds [her] practice together’.

Advaita practitioners also generally regard the teacher as essential but their emphasis is slightly different. In satsang, Advaita practitioners sometimes feel that the teacher is somehow generating the ‘energy’ in the sense that the focus of the collective practice is being ‘held’ by the teacher. Practitioners report ‘feeling a strong stream of energy’ that focuses their practice, which is generally attributed to the presence of the teacher.

In both traditions, the teacher initially represents the non-dual state of being that practitioners aspire to. However, the dynamic between teachers and students is more complex. Generally, teachers in both traditions are keen to deconstruct students’ idealized projections of their role and thereby place the onus of practice onto the practitioner. But, given the traditional emphasis on the importance of the teacher, the teacher’s function and status cannot be merely negated. Instead, teachers undo objectifications of their role by constantly problematizing the teacher–student relationship. This undoing proceeds by deconstructive moves that serve to frustrate or deflate students’ dualistic expectations and to unsettle the respective positions of teacher and student. This interplay of positions, that is, the absolute non-dual view of the teacher and the relative dualistic view of the student, is indicative of the dialectical function of the two truths in each tradition and reminiscent of the juxtaposition of affirmation and negation as found in the foundational texts of the Prajñaramita Sutra and the Upanishads. In plain terms, an overarching feature of deconstructive spiritual inquiry is the conflicting messages on the role and status of the teacher that Zen and Advaita teachers send to their students in the practice situation with the aim of undermining students’ dualistic projections and expectations and placing the onus of practice on students themselves.

For example, to undermine his absolute position, Zen master Hogen Yamahata repeatedly tells his students that ‘my role is to continually disappoint you’ and, when speaking of the relationship to a teacher, a contemporary Advaitin warns her students that she can only be of limited help; the final leap must be taken alone. ‘I offer you my shoulders. Stand on them for as long as they last to leap into what has never been known, never been said’.

These disclaimers issued by Zen and Advaita teachers coupled with unfolding practice experience serve to alert the practitioner to the trap of dualizing the teacher–student relationship. It is from such disclaimers that the undoing of the construct of ‘getting anything from a teacher’ begins. This undoing is well illustrated in the following comment from an Advaita practitioner who realized that -

... after all of my experience, after all this time I couldn’t really get anything from a teacher anymore. I had rested my ‘insights’ on the authority of others, [and] it wasn’t really serving me because faced with my own death or existential crisis it was just useless.

In a similar shift, a Zen practitioner states that a teacher is -

... important at some junction. Everybody has times when they sit alone ... and then times when you are with a teacher. [But] no matter what [the teacher’s] attainment is I still have to do what I have to do so I can’t rely on their attainment or their personality or whatever to do it for me. It’s my present moment.

This shift in the practitioner’s relationship with the teacher is an important facet in the process of deconstructive spiritual inquiry. It is indicative of the necessity to move beyond the initial dualistic emotional attachment to the teacher, to a more complex dynamic in which the student realizes that a teacher ‘cannot do it for me’ but nevertheless still remains devoted to that teacher and his or her instructions.

Caught in the middle of the teacher–student duality, a Zen student of Hogen Yamahata tells his teacher in frustration: ‘If I had any sense, I would kick you and walk away, but I stay. Which one of us is the greater fool?’ To which Hogen replies, ‘Your kicking, of course, makes me old, crippled, and happy’. Here, Hogen subverts his student’s frustration by affirming and approving it. In classical Zen ‘style’, which neither reproaches nor directly instructs, Hogen addresses his student’s frustration by effectively telling him to ‘Keep kicking!’ and thereby placing the onus back on the student himself.

By undermining dualistic ideas of the teacher–student relationship, skillful teachers can employ the rising frustration that practitioners’ unfulfilled expectations can provoke to deconstructive ends. In this example, a Zen student describes a personal interview (dokusan) in which he presented his understanding and his teacher responded by striking him with the kyosaku stick. A response that ‘stunned’ him:

I came in and I did a presentation ... but he didn’t like it and I was stunned by his response and my mind was crazily trying to figure out the situation. So off I went and the next few periods I just sat there with clouds of steam coming out of my ears and I was getting more and more angry. So I got in the dokusan [interview] line and all the [dokusan] line I was fuming and I burst in and he just went ‘Hmmm’. Then the next day in teisho [formal dharma talk] ... he talked about somebody coming in and having crazy eyes and he was kind of deriding me without naming names and so we went through this process and I got angrier and angrier and finally something broke and I just came into dokusan and said, ‘I’m sorry’ and he just smiled.

Once again, the Zen teacher is neither affirming nor denying the student’s frustration, but in this case, sends him back to the naturally deconstructive process of zazen. In the concentrated practice of retreat the student describes his release of frustration as: ‘I think it’s a process in as much as things change, [to] put it that way. It’s kind of like being cooked – steeped or stewing in your own juice’. In this instance, by not directly acknowledging or responding to his student’s anger, the teacher places the responsibility of finding a solution squarely on the shoulders of the practitioner, thereby allowing the frustration to unravel in the practice of shikantaza. When asked how he overcame his anger, the student responded: ‘It’s more one’s frustration I think and who is it and what is it that’s frustrated?’.

Not being able to locate the experiencer, the ‘I’ that is experiencing frustration, difficulty, and so on, is a commonly reported experience in the practice of shikantaza. It is indicative of the breakdown of substantialized notions of self and, in this case, is a deconstructive ‘by-product’ of the teacher’s refusal to directly engage his student in a linear discussion. It is, however, important to note that skillful teachers read their student’s responses very closely and not all Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism ‘non-dual answers’ are automatically approved. In the next example, Hogen Yamahata challenges a student’s seemingly ‘correct’ response to practice:

[Student]: Whilst sitting in zazen, the question arose, ‘Who is sitting in zazen?’ In later contemplation, self asked self: ‘Who is waiting for an answer?’
[Hogen]: Thank you for ‘cooking’ such a tasty treat. It smells good! But is your hunger really satisfied by your self-made answer?

As practitioners quickly learn, with skillful teachers, there are no static ‘correct’ non-dual answers. In the practice situation, both Advaita and Zen teachers work in response to the comments or questions of the individual student in front of them, deconstructively targeting objectifications and reifications of their own roles and of spiritual practice in general.

An Advaitin tackles his student’s dualistic projections on the ‘grace’ of the teacher’s ‘presence’ thus:

[Student]: Through the grace of your presence we are now in silence. What will happen to us when you go away?
[Teacher]: Because you saw me coming, you suppose that I will one day go away. I never come or go.
[Student]: But you are going away soon. What will I do in your absence? [Teacher]: If you know how to create separation in the presence, why don’t you create presence in the separation?

The practitioner is attributing the ‘silence’ he is experiencing to the teacher’s ‘presence’. That is, he is creating a dualistic separation in the form of a productive relationship between the teacher and himself. The Advaitin rejects such a separation in two deconstructive moves. First, he negates the dichotomy of coming and going by claiming that ‘he never comes or goes’. Second, he throws the onus back to the practitioner by pointing out that dichotomous ideas of presence and absence are creations of the mind. According to Advaita, such separations do not exist in reality. The problem is created by the practitioner himself: The Teacher is actually present and the practitioner is creating absence. ‘Why not’, challenges the Teacher, ‘also create presence in absence?’ This juxtaposition of dichotomies, in this example, coming and going, presence and absence, serves to place the practitioner ‘right in the middle’ of his own dilemma. His adherence to one side of a dualism (presence) has been challenged by his teacher saying that the other side (absence) would do just as well! The notion that there is no difference between them and that both are ultimately creations of mind effectively cuts the practitioner’s line of questioning and undermines his reification that the presence of the teacher is somehow ‘creating’ or ‘holding’ the practice together.

The above Zen and Advaita examples are representative of the teacher– student dynamic in the practice situation. Both Advaita and Zen teachers strive to deconstructively point out to students the dangers of objectifying bifurcated categories and reifying oppositional patterns of thought and to experientially undo dualistic attachments and reifications projected onto the teacher–student relationship and the process of practice itself.

Shankara and Buddhism

One frequently hears the story that our beloved Acharya bhagavatpAda was responsible for eliminating Buddhism from the Indian sub-continent. This is used both as a praise and as an accusation directed towards the Acharya. Several scholars have also pointed towards the inadequacy of Acharaya's criticism of Buddhism and it is indeed true that the refutation of Buddhism by Acharya is rather uni-dimensional. However, the reason for this is simply that Acharya's primary focus was not refuting Buddhism but rather pUrva mImAmsA which had already done a great job of handling the Buddhist accusations on the Vedic path. Even a simple look at a hagiography such as the mAdhavIya shankara digvijaya makes this clear (shaNmukha is described to have already contained the Buddhist epidemic by the time of AchArya's arrival). Here is a selection from Daivattin Kural where H H Mahaperiyava addresses this very issue. And he also mentions our beloved Anna in this context.


Mahaperiyava

Many believe that Buddhism ceased to have a large following in India because it came under the attack of Sankara. This is not true. There are very few passages in the Acarya's commentaries critical of that religion, a religion that was opposed to the Vedas. Far more forcefully has he criticised the doctrines of Sankhya and Mimamsa that respect the Vedic tradition. He demolishes their view that Isvara is not the creator of the world and that it is not he who dispenses the fruits of our actions. He also maintains that Isvara possesses the laksanas or characteristics attributed to him by the Vedas and the Brahmasutra and argues that there can be no world without Isvara and that it is wrong to maintain that our works yield fruits on their own. It is Isvara, his resolve, that has created this world, and it is he who awards us the fruits of our actions. We cannot find support in his commentaries for the view that he was responsible for the decline of Buddhism in India.

Then how did Buddhism cease to have a considerable following in out country? Somebody must have subjected it to such rigorous attack as to have brought about its decline in this land. Who performed this task? The answer is the mimamsakas and the tarkikas. Those who are adept in the Tarka-sastra(logic) are called tarkikas. The Tarka is the part of Nyaya which is one of the fourteen branches of Vedic learning and which comes next to Mimamsa. People proficient in Nyaya are naiyayikas; those well versed in grammar are "vaiyakaranis"; and those proficient in the Puranas are "pauranikas".

Udayanacarya, the tarkika, and Kumarilabhatta, the mimamsaka, opposed Buddhism for different reasons. The former severely criticised that religion for its denial of Isvara. To mimamsakas, as I have said earlier, Vedic rituals are of the utmost importance. Even though they don't believe that it is Isvara who awards us the fruit of our actions, they believe that the rituals we perform yield their own fruits and that the injunctions of the dharmasastras must be carried out faithfully. They attacked Buddhism for its refusal to accept Vedic rituals. Kumarilabhatta has written profusely in criticism of that religion. He and Udayanacarya were chiefly responsible for the failure of Buddhism to acquire a large following in this country. Our Acarya came later and there was no need for him to make a special assault on that religion on his own. On the contrary, his chief task was to expose the flaws in the systems upheld by the very opponents of Buddhism, Kumarilabhatta and Udayanacarya. He established that Isvara is the creator of the universe and that it is he who awards the fruits of our actions.

I am mentioning this fact so as to disabuse you of the wrong notions you must have formed with regard to Sankara's role in the decline of Buddhism. There is a special chapter in one of Kumarilabhatta's works called "Tarkapadam" in which he has made an extensive refutation of Buddhism. So too has Udayanacarya in his Bauddhadhikaram. These two acaryas were mainly responsible for the decline of Buddhism in our land and not Sankara Bhagavatpada. What we are taught on the subject in our textbooks of history is not true.

In my opinion at no time in our history did Buddhism in the fullest sense of that religion have a large following in India. Today a number of Hindus, who are members of the Theosophical Society, celebrate our festivals like other Hindus and conduct marriages in the Hindu way. There are many devotees of Sri Ramakrsna Parmahamsa practising our traditional customs. Sri C. Ramanujacariyar, "Anna" (Sri N. Subramanya Ayyar) and some others are intimately associated with the Ramakrsna Mission but they still adhere to our traditional beliefs.

When great men make their appearance people are drawn to them for their qualities of compassion and wisdom. In the organisations established after them our sanatana dharma is followed with some changes. But a large number of the devotees of these men still follow the old customs and traditions in their homes.

Many regard Gandhiji as the founder almost of a new religion (Gandhism), and look upon him as one greater than avataras like Rama and Krsna. But in their private lives few of them practise what he preached- for instance, widow marriage, mixing with members of other castes, and so on. People developed esteem for Gandhiji for his personal life of self-sacrifice, truthfulness, devotion and service to mankind. But applying his ideas in actual life was another matter.

It was in the same way that the Buddha had earned wide respect for his lofty character and exemplary personal life. "A prince renounces his wife and child in the prime of his youth to free the world from sorrow": the story of Siddhartha, including such accounts, made an impact on people. They were moved by his compassion, sense of detachment and self-sacrifice. But it did not mean that they were ready to follow his teachings. They admired the Buddha for his personal qualities but they continued to subscribe to the varnasrama system and the ancient way of religious life with its sacrifice and other rites. Contrary to what he wished, people did not come forward in large numbers to become monks but continued to remain householders adhering to Vedic practices.

Emperor Asoka did much to propagate Buddhism; but in society in general the Vedic dharma did not undergo any change. Besides, the emperor himself supported the varnasrama dharma as is evident from his famous edicts. But for the Buddhist bhiksus(monks), all householders followed the Vedic path. Though they were silent on the question of Isvara and other deities, some book written by great Buddhist monks open with hymns to Sarasvati. They also worshipped a number of gods. It is from Tibet that we have obtained many Tantrik works relating to the worship of various deities. If you read the works of Sriharsa, Bilhana and so on in Sanskrit, and Tamil poetical works like that of Ilango Adigal, you will realise that even during times when Buddhism wielded influence in society, Vedic customs and varnasrama were followed by the generality of people.

Reformists today speak in glowing terms about Vyasa, Sankaracarya, Ramanujacarya and others. But they do not accept the customs and traditions I ask people to follow. Some of them, however, come to see me. Is it not because they feel that there is something good about me, because they have personal regard for me, even though they do not accept my ideas? Similarly, great men have been respected in this country for their personal qualities and blameless life notwithstanding the fact they advocated views that differed slightly from the Vedic tradition or were radically opposed to it. Our people any way had long been steeped in the ancient Vedic religion and its firmly established practices and, until the turn of the century, were reluctant to discard the religion of their forefathers and the vocations followed by them. Such was our people's attitude during the time of the Buddha also. When his doctrines came under attack from Udayanacarya and Kumarilabhatta even the few who had first accepted them returned to the Vedic religion.

Tranquility and Insight - 2

Remedies to Eliminate the Hindrances

Most hindrances belong to the area of dullness and sensual incitement. By knowing how to remove these, one will automatically know the remedy for others.

1. The remedy for sensual incitement lies in calming the mind by meditating upon impermeance.
2. As for resentment, the remedy is to avoid thinking about its object.
3. To counter sluggishness, one perceives joyful things.
4. Dullness is removed by stimulating the spirit.
5. Drowsiness is overcome by visualizing light.
6. Resoluteness is a remedy for doubt.
7. Contemplation on contentment and the consequences of sensory pleasures is a remedy for craving.
8. Evil intent may be removed by engendering love and kindness for others.

Other texts describe the eight remedies for removing the five interruptions:

1. For laziness, it is (1) faith, (2) earnestness, (3) striving and (4) perfect ease.
2. Forgetfulness is relieved by (5) mindfulness.
3. The cure for dullness and sensual incitement is (6) vigilance.
4. For overexertion, it is (7) equanimity that lets the mind rest in its true state.
5. For non-exertion, (8) mental exertion is the remedy.

It may be helpful to dwell deeper into some of these terms here.

By Perfect Ease, what is meant is the suppleness of body and mind that pacifies harmful tendencies and hindrances. The gross tendencies of the body and mind make them incontrollable. The power of perfect ease removes heaviness and other defects, which hinder the practices of virtue from the viewpoint of the body. Perfect ease makes the body light and controllable through bliss. This is how the body can be controlled. It also eliminates misery through focusing the mind on a mental object that produces joy, bliss etc. This is how the mind can be controlled. Perfect ease cannot be obtained at the initial stage of meditation; it is achieved through continuos effort. Achieving a perfect ease of mind first will bring about the circulation and diffusion of the vital air (prANa) in the body. Once this takes place, meditators will achieve the perfect ease of the body.

The next concept to be considered is vigilance. Vigilance may be achieved during meditation by not forgetting the object of concentration while remaining fully attentive to any emerging distraction such as dullness, sensual incitement or thought. With such a stream awareness, one remains on guard, forever watching and discerning any distraction upon its arising.

Mental exertion is defined as a mental activity that is drawn into all channels - good, bad or neutral. This being a mental function, it activates itself or is drawn toward three kinds of thoughts - good, bad or neutral. In this case it is a thought that strives to eliminate dullness or sensual incitement once vigilance detects them.

contd...

Raga Jog



A mesmerizing rendition of Raga Jog by Pandits Sri Maniram-ji, Sri Pratap Narayan-ji and Sri Jasraj.

kadambakusumapriyA

kadambakusumapriyA

With heartfelt gratitude to Shri Ananth Murthy.

परिस्रुतं झषमाद्यं पलं च
भक्तानि योनीः सुपरिष्कृतानि |
निवेदयन्देवतायै महत्यै
स्वात्मीकृत्य सुकृती सिद्धिमेति ||

bhAsA chakreshvarI

kAlasamkarShiNI

The heart of the ShoDashAvaraNa shrIchakra and hence of shrIkrama tantra is the kalpana of the bhAsA chakra-s. Both baDabAnala and shankara bhagavatpAda's yatidaNDaishvaryavidhi deal only with the practical aspects of the bhAsA chakras without touching upon the underlying philosophy which is highly sophisticated. The reason is that the concept and application of bhAsA chakra is highly esoteric - gurumukhaikavedyatvAt. An examination of some kAlI-kula texts sheds more light on the basic aspects of bhAsA chakra. The realization or siddhi of bhAsA chakra is however possible only through the grace of mahAkAlasaMkarShinI which in turn can possibly be earned via sincere practice performed with the right view.

गगनाम्बरसङ्काशे निराधारपदोज्झिते |
नभोव्योमान्तराकारे मन्थानान्ते नमोऽस्तुते ||
एकभासकि भासस्थे भासोत्तरे निरामये |
सर्वभासासमुत्तीर्णे भासारूपे नमोऽस्तुते ||
रविप्रकाशसङ्काशे द्वादशार्कसमप्रभे |
द्विषट्कभासामध्यस्थे रश्मिकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
मन्त्रव्योममये देवि सर्वमन्त्रालयोद्भवे |
मन्त्रातीते शिवे शान्ते मन्त्रकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
हंसप्रकाशसङ्काशे कलाषोडशविग्रहे |
अमारूपे निराधारे चन्द्रकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
नभोभास्वरदीप्ताभे ज्योत्स्नाशतसमाकुले |
नभोभानुकलातीते नभःकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
डामरे भासुराकारे निराकारे अनामके |
चित्कले खकलाकाळि डामराख्ये नमोऽस्तुते ||
यशश्चिन्तामणिप्रख्ये श्रेयोभावे अभावके |
सर्वभावान्तरातीते यशःकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
गगनादित्यमार्गस्थे भावाभावमहोत्सवे |
गगनद्युतिद्योताभे यमकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
एकभास्वरभासान्ते भासुरार्कमहाद्युते |
एकाकिनि कालनित्ये एककाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
शब्दाम्बराम्बरधरे शब्दब्रह्मान्तरस्थिते |
सर्वरूपे अरूपस्थे शब्दकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
वरप्रतापसन्दीप्ते महातमःप्रकाशिके |
वर्णस्वरपदातीते वर्णकालि नमोऽस्तुते ||
भूरिसूर्यप्रतीकाशे चन्द्रकोट्यायुतप्रभे |
कल्पान्ताग्निसहस्राभे तेजोकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
भासाचक्रविनिर्याते दशसप्तपदाश्रिते |
कालक्रमसमायुक्ते खचक्रेशि नमोऽस्तुते ||
ज्योतिस्तारकताराभे सत्तामात्रे चिदावृते |
सूर्यामृतसमाकर्षे सृष्टिकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
मन्त्रतन्त्रेश्वरी देवि मन्त्रतन्त्रे व्यवस्थिते |
स्थितिस्थानकसंभाव्ये स्थितिकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
हकारार्धकलाधारे वालाग्रशतकल्पिते |
सकले निष्कले काळि संहारिके नमोऽस्तुते ||
चन्द्राकृतिसमस्पर्शे कलाषोडशसम्भवे |
षोडशाधारधामस्थे रक्तकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
यकारवर्णवाहस्थे वायुरूपे निरञ्जने |
धर्माधर्मक्षयकरे मृत्युकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
अमोघौघेऽव्यतिक्रान्ते महाबोधावलोकिते |
भावाभावकलातीते भद्रकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
गमागमप्रकाशस्थे वायुभूते निरन्तरे |
विश्वतेजःकलाकाले मार्ताण्डेशि नमोऽस्तुते ||
शब्दातीते गुणातीते क्रियातीते अनामये |
कालकलासमुत्तीर्णे कालकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
रेतोज्ज्वले महादीप्ते बालसूर्यसमप्रभे |
घोरचण्डमहाकालि त्वरिताख्ये नमोऽस्तुते ||
संहारक्रममारूढे भैरवाकारविग्रहे |
तृतीयक्रमचक्रान्ते दिक्चक्रेशि नमोऽस्तुते ||
अघोरे च महाघोरे घोरघोरोग्रनिःस्वनि |
घोरघर्घरभीमाख्ये भीमकाळि नमोऽस्तुते ||
सिद्धिकामविकासाभे दिशाष्टकप्रतिष्ठिते |
चिच्चिह्नकालिकारूढे यमसिद्धे नमोऽस्तुते ||
कालाभासे च कालाख्ये सर्वकालमहोत्सवे |
कालदण्डे महाकाले कालाकर्षे नमोऽस्तुते ||
आनन्दे च निरानन्दे परमानन्दनन्दिते |
महानिर्वाणपरमे गुर्वानन्दे नमोऽस्तुते ||

|| नमस्त्रिपुरसुन्दर्यै ||

Tranquility and Insight - 1

All spiritual techniques are means to lead the mind towards states of absorption, be it mantra, mandala, dhyAna or bhakti. The teachings of Vajrayana provide a highly systematic map of the various kinds of absorption and can be beneficial to all aspirants irrespective of their personal involvement in Buddhism. The following is based on Lobsang Lhalungpa’s exposition of mahAmudrA.

Tranquility and Insight are the basis of all meditational absorptions of Buddhistic traditions. They are like the root that grounds the trunk, branches and leaves of a tree. Regardless of a meditation being conceptual or non-conceptual, visualized or non-visualized - a meditation in which the mind has been fixed upon a sacred object is in harmony with Tranquility. Wisdom, being virtuous by nature, discerns the true meaning of the mind so that it is in harmony with Insight. Tranquility is the mind - either superior or inferior - undistracted from the object of concentration. The analysis and comprehension of the mind lead to Insight. Thus, all meditations culminate in Tranquility and Insight.

Cause of Tranquility and Insight

Tranquility arises from purity of moral discipline; Insight from hearing and examining - sandhinirmochana sUtra.

Tranquility is said to arise from a Guru’s spiritual blessing, the interaction of a good cause and condition, ever-growing virtues and the purification of defilements. This is applicable to Insight as well - Gampopa.

A harmonious environment, curbing desires, contentment, limiting activities, maintaining moral discipline and eliminating discursive thoughts are the six causes of Tranquility. Insight arises from association with holy persons, the acquiring of knowledge and proper contemplation - bhAvanAkrama.

- To live in a harmonious environment is to live in a place where sustenance can be obtained without much difficulty, there is no harm from enemies and wild animals, not affected by diseases, not crowded during the day, quiet at night and where one finds good company of people following the same path of discipline and sharing same views of reality.

- Curbing desires means to harbor no sensual attachment to food and clothing for their quantity or quality.

- To be content is to be satisfied with frugal food and clothing.

- To limit is to abstain from activities such as trade, association with the lay, practice of medicine, astrology and so on.

- To maintain moral discipline is to guard the foundation of the precepts as stated in the canon of individual liberation and the bodhisattva precepts and to apply spiritual remedies with repentance if one has, without self-control, transgressed these precepts.

- To abandon desire and other discursive thoughts is to be conscious of their negative consequences in this life and the next. This means eliminating desire through meditation on the impermanence of things, beautiful or ugly, from which one is soon to be separated.

- To associate with holy persons is to follow a spiritual guide who knows unerringly the importance of hearing, examining, and meditating, and who has himself realized tranquility and insight.

- To seek extensive knowledge through hearing is to listen to discourses on scriptures whose ultimate meaning is without flaws and to develop a discriminatory intellect. On does not achieve this by hearing teachings with conventional or intended meanings.

- To properly contemplate is to ponder the ultimate meaning of the discourse and to apply inferences so as to realize intellectually the perfect view of reality.

Hindrances to Tranquility and Insight

The elimination of hindrances to Tranquility and Insight requires:

1. The recognition of hindrances.
2. Instructions in the remedies necessary to remove the hindrances.

Tranquility is hindered by sensual incitement and resentment; insight by sluggishness, drowsiness and doubt; both are fogged by craving and malignity - sandhinirmochana sUtra.

1. Sensual Incitement: It is the mind that lusts after beautiful forms. Its function is to disturb the state of tranquility. This wandering thought having focused itself upon an object of beauty causes interruptions in maintaining the stability of the mind.

2. Resentment: is formed by conscious or unconscious deeds of a positive or negative kind. It harbors indignance at some deeds, good, bad, or neutral, timely or untimely, worthy or unworthy, thereby unsettling the stability of mind. Hence it belongs to the category of delusion. This lingering thought upon right or wrong, arising from positive or negative action, effectively disturbs the stability of the mind.

3. Sluggishness: It is the heaviness of body and mind. It renders the mind inactive and maintains distortions. It stupefies the mind making both the body and mind unmanageable. Also known as dullness, it occurs when the mind does not visualize clearly, like a blind man, a man in darkness, or one with his eye closed. When the clarity of the mental image loses its sharpness on account of physical and mental lethargy, it is not quite the same as sluggishness.

4. Drowsiness: Sleep causes withdrawal of thoughts, good, bad, or neutral, timely or untimely, worthy or unworthy. The effect of sleep is cessation of activity and hence it belongs to the category of delusion. Sleep results in the loss of sensory functions causing the meditator to lose his mental focus.

5. Doubt: It is having two minds about all aspects of truth, effectively preventing one from following the course of virtue. Doubt creates confusion in the meditator’s mind, causing him to doubt the aims of his meditation and its success or failure. Thus it saps his urge to practice.

6. Craving: Longing for any kind of sensory indulgence to which the mind clings.

7. Malignity: Evil intended to cause others harm out of hatred or jealousy.

There are distractions that cause mental divergences for the one who already dwells in tranquility and insight; they are external, internal, perceptive and emotive divergences - sandhinirmochana sUtra.

1. External divergence occurs when the mind turns towards the five senses, the gathering of people, duality, discursive thoughts and secondary defilements.
2. Internal divergence of the mind occurs when one feels either lethargic, drowsy or when one indulges in the ecstasy of trance or in any subtle distortion of the meditative absorption.
3. Perceptive divergence occurs when the mind visualizes an image of external form in the realm of pure contemplation.
4. Emotive divergence occurs when the mind with its inbred tendencies assigns ‘I’ consciousness to sensations arising from its inward activities.

Laziness, the forgetting of instructions, dullness and sensual incitement, non-exertion of the mind and over-exertion are the five defects that interrupt tranquility - madhyAntavibhAga.

1. Laziness is the result of being either adverse or indifferent to any endeavors and lacking in vigilance, so that habitual idleness deprives the contemplation of any motive force.
2. Forgetfulness consists of being unable to recollect the object of meditational search and getting distracted.
3. Dullness and Sensual Incitement have been described before.
4. Non-exertion is the lack of any effort at eliminating dullness and sensual incitement and allowing the mind to idle.
5. Over-exertion is the excessive striving towards the mind’s object, even after pacifying dullness and sensual incitement. It does not let the mind dwell in its natural state.

contd...

The Violet Flame

Today was yet another New Age gathering which, now thinking back, was a total waste of time. I had a fifteen minute slot to talk on Rigpa and it seemed that none in the audience was interested or even remotely capable of approaching the topic. The entire session was hijacked by a gentleman who went on and on about Violet Flame and began an impromptu guided meditation session invoking the Violet Flame. He explained how the answer to all problems was meditating on the Violet Flame. It is true that visualizing colors can have quite a therapeutic or healing effect. For example, focussing on certain colors in systematic way can help one slip into deep theta states faster than any mantra or breath practice. However, the concept of Violet Flame has been quite controversial. This gentleman who feverishly advocated the Violet Flame himself had extremely depleted Chi/Prana and I could bet his kidney and liver were on the verge of a major collapse. His aura seemed ungodly. It is interesting to note however that the proposed benefits of invoking the Violet Flame are health, healing and abundance.

The Violet Flame and its originator St. Germain, or rather the Count of St. Germain, were popularized by the theosophical movement, especially by Alice Bailey. Other popular occult figures of the West including Annie Besant, Leadbeater and Edgar Cayce added their own colors to the St. Germain myth and created an ascended master out of him. Violet Flame meditation spread like wildfire consuming New Age and Reiki enthusiasts. Diane, my first Reiki teacher, originally instructed us to never visualize Violet Flame as entering the body but to only pull it down on the exterior of the body. Highly clairvoyant, she probably sensed something wrong with the so-called healing energy. Some of the relatively older New Age writings are also abundant with many warnings regarding the use of Violet Flame. As the New Age movement spread uncontrolled in the 70s and 80s, the Violet Flame was depicted as the purest form of energy from the source that could only do good and never harm.

The personality of St. Germain has been sufficiently dissected by several well-meaning critics. However, the ‘faithful’ followers ignore such criticism as rubbish and assert the incapability of the critics to grasp higher metaphysical truths. All these thoughts swarmed by mind as I waited for the guided meditation session to end. I then recollected the work of Billy Meier, yet another controversial figure, who has some fantabulous claims regarding Extraterrestrial contact. A Swiss farmer by birth, Meier has extensively documented his supposed conversations with Pleiadians. His published work, Message from the Pleiades, in four volumes is currently sold for $1000 a copy. While he has his own set of critics, it is interesting that one of his supposed conversations with the Pleiadins is regarding St. Germain. Here is a reproduction of the same, translated from German by Dyson Devine and Vivienne Legg. These are the words of Semjase, the extraterrestrial who Meier claims to have been in contact with. The tale of St. Germain is interesting as it sheds light on the ways of possibly many similar figures who have passed off as saints or miracle-men including our own ‘Bhagavan’ today.

I am very sorry, but I know neither these books named here nor the authors. Only this name here is known to me, this Saint Germain; a quite malicious person, who did many things deceitfully, supposedly in order also to fulfill dangerous things for the Freemasons, through which they in turn allegedly could seize control of the world, if not, as would be falsely asserted, order had been troubled for from the other side.

Saint Germain’s real name is Rakoczi, whereby he also assigned himself other names as, for example, Aymar or Marquis de Betmor, and so forth. The name Saint Germain was only used by the adventurer in his self-appointed status as Count Saint Germain. Born in the sign of Aries in the year 1711 in Collonia, you name it Cologne today, whereby however he attributed (to himself) a Portuguese origin. He died in the year 1784 at the age of 73 years. In his lifetime he was the greatest deceiver, charlatan, liar and spy, and indeed in the service and commission of a sect in Germany which was obsessed with world domination at that time. He passed himself off as being a thousand years old, whereby however he was often confused in his own statements and so differences of up to 300 years age variation came about. In and of himself he was quite stupid, which he, however, through his enormous cleverness, cunning, manual skill and alchemistic knowledge, and so forth, could again offset, and (he) even attained extraordinarily good results in slight of hand that (he) then passed off as magical powers.

He was subsequently named a wonder man and no-one suspected also only that he was the worst deceiver of his time. Only a European Christian sect was oriented about this, because he was indeed a man who stood in their service and who also thereby troubled to take counts, princes and kings, as well as clergy and other dignitaries, into his power in order thereby to make them amenable to the sect, whose members sought, and thereby hoped, finally to realize their plans for world domination. Therefore he troubled himself also primarily around the great people of France which, in keeping with the plans of the sect, was to be the next land annexed by Germany through which already the greatest part of Europe at that time was to stand under the sect control. The initiates of the sect at the time quite consciously spun a fable-intertwined legend around Saint Germain in order to allow him to appear in the light of an immortal and a master, although he did not belong as a member of the sect at all, which did not hinder him, Saint Germain, from portraying himself as master of the sect and therewith as an initiate.

He received quite personally, from King Frederick the Great, the awarded honorary title of an Immortal, after which Saint Germain implanted in him, (with) the power of his uncommonly high hypnotic capabilities, (the notion) that he, Saint Germain, was already 2004 years old. Frederick the Great was himself not conscious of the employed hypnosis and was of the belief that he had obtained this knowledge about the age of Saint Germain through higher spirits, so also the knowledge thereby, that the "Magican" had an immortal-making elixer at his disposal that Saint Germain also manufactured after a corresponding discussion with Frederick the Great. In truth however the mixture was an evil broth (made) out of various hallucinogenic poisons and drugs, that called-forth deep euphoria. Through the far spread sect he was also initiated in European history from which he retained any 50 small details with his truly phenomenal memory, with which he astounded and quite terrified them that he was the best connoisseur of history and deluded them that he was, through this, all-knowing. Through his uncommon shrewdness and cunning he reached also into the most intimate secrets of the various kings' families and of many other people, that he then revealed again as "secret knowledge" which often shifted the people into angst and terror, or allowed them to presume he had supernatural powers and capabilities. Many times he obtained such intimate secrets through secret dealings with female servants, who he paid off with material things of value and with bodily love, which was not a burden for him because, on one hand he had at his disposal very enormous material wealth, and on the other hand he was very sexually potent. A favorite means of obtaining secrets was, however, his hypnotic capabilities that he especially brought into engagement with highly-positioned personalities, especially females, and thereby unlocked the ultimate and most intimate secrets that he then, at a later point in time, revealed to them again, after he had taken the memory of the hypnosis from them.

He could also produce fake gold, a chemical covering of metal that then behaved like gold. And the deceived people believed, in their delusion and ignorance, that he could manufacture gold. Also he knew how to purify "contaminated" precious stones through his magic. These, however, he regularly retained for a longer time because he was not able to work on them himself. So he always brought them to a cousin in Holland who then "purified" these precious stones for him, in that he ground off the cloudiness which existed in this material. He asserted or did yet many other quite secretive things, so for example, also that he simply transmuted himself into invisibility, (which) was again, however, based on nothing other than his hypnotic powers, through which he let his observers live in the delusion that he had transmuted himself into invisibility. Also he claimed to have often been in China. Yet also that did not correspond to the truth, because he never left the European area. When he explained again that he must now travel to China, then, in his journey, he went only to Berlin where he had to give an account of his deeds and works in the stronghold of the sects and where he then also received new orders.

Very astonishingly, the sect alchemists instructed him also, in these times, in alchemistic matters whereby they rejuvenated him many times, also through their best means and through small and fine facial operations, whereby he also always awoke the impression that he did not age, but rather was constantly about 40 years old. This was brought about in Berlin in the stronghold of the sects of that time, but which no longer belonged to the actual mother sect, rather it was a splinter group that had established its seat there. The high seat of the real mother sect was namely in Vienna, and Saint Germain also worked for that. So he worked for four different masters at the same time, namely for France, for Friedrich  the Great in Germany who was his best and most benevolent defender, for the splinter sect stronghold in Berlin, and for the actual mother sect stronghold in Vienna.

As Saint Germain died at the age of 73 his alleged immortality could only thereby be saved by the Berlin sect always again and again seeking suitable men who resembled the appearance of Saint Germain. They performed fine face-alteration operations on them so that they were even more like the deceiver. These (men) stepped into appearance then after his death, to appear personally as Saint Germain, after which they were instructed over long years by the sect members in all kinds of knowledge and abilities. Out of these splinter sectarians then developed, in the course of time, a fanatical-religious sect that yet today secretly drives its mischief and has also founded sister societies, and so forth.

Through my daughter I have come to know that when you approached Mr. Glanzmann you observed a violet colored aura about him, of which you actually should to be warned. You will certainly say that which is yet known to me, that the violet color, so to say, corresponds to the lowest grade of development and I therefore should be careful. You indeed know that the violet color actually corresponds to a very low level of evolution and that only believing in something false may call forth this color tone in an aura. In the same way, you know that the most various false teachings assert that this color would protect against negative power fields, vibrations and other kinds of influences of a negative form. You know very well how false that is and that you already sometimes have had bad experiences regarding the more various violet radiations, so for example, also in the ultraviolet realm, and so forth.