The Yoga of Water

Water the Guru
When I watch the movement of water, I know that I am in the presence of something that can teach me a lot about myself and show me how to navigate the world around and within me;  if I am quiet and alert in my thinking, I will extract a wealth of wisdom from it.  Water takes the form of what I would refer to as a guru.  No, not a slightly chubby swami, looking smug, bathing in his feeling of self-importance with his followers, smiling and chewing on the fruits of their wealth. Nor an emaciated yogi type with hardened skin, a tree branch walking-stick, subconsciously clinging to an ancient tradition, living out a story of being a wandering mendicant; placed a little uncomfortably into a caste system that allows breaches of power, bullying, elitism and an acquired submissiveness by those who feel powerless, imprisoned by a cultural system, educated into accepting their roles in the community, bound by what their society says they must be.  Nah, not that type of guru; the other ones, the ones who give, not ‘takers’, they make you realise that what you are seeking is right where you are, this very moment, it’s there if you dig in; they don’t create a dependency, the guru could take any form at all, and why not, what’s this obsession with the human form anyway?

Water Water Everywhere
My father was born in a tent on the beach; a child from the meeting of two great cultural streams, this has a been an advantageous meeting-ground for me, it has given me a lot of skills, gifts from my ancestors. I lived a number of my formative childhood years near a beach just across the Tasman;  I learned to enjoy as well as fear the water.  The childhood bliss of rolling in the waves with the hot sun on my skin, the sand between my toes, ice blocks and coconut oil.  And the pain; at about twelve years old, my friends and I found a body floating in the surf; that day my world changed  forever.  Death is that ‘something’ most of us are never quite ready for, even when we know it’s on its way and gives us fair warning, just there watching us or circling around those dear to us, waiting to snare those beloveds who we cling to; there is always a sidestepping, a looking away, a saying, “nope not yet”. The alternative is challenging and questioning, to look straight into the heart of the enigma of death, to embark on the journey of a man or woman of ‘power’; power over ourselves not others, a quest to overcome our perceived limitations and be more than we ever dreamed of.  We can make death our teacher and use it as a yardstick for measuring what is important, a filter to sort the small stuff from what really is critical or needs our attention. As we know from every day life, this water stuff can be big or small, and knowing what we do about quantum physics, size, distance and volume doesn’t necessarily always matter;  it’s the ‘essence’, what is at the ‘core’ that counts… in the same way a drop of rose oil in a burner can scent a room, the potential of the wisdom of water is not bound by its size; its very presence  is enough, it’s in the drop; the ocean can come to us.  Water is always ‘giving’, that is why we can learn from it, it gives, it swerves, it takes on what it associates with, it’s beauty is in its purity like when it flows from the Himalayan mountains, potent in its unity, the rolling Ganga.

The Pure Liquid
The water brought death right to the seashore where we were playing, that in itself is a teaching.  I am not sure whether I have genuine a fear of death any more. Either way, my response no longer matters so much nor troubles me; it was something I walked with every day for many years, and was probably because my goal had always been about ‘getting out’, stepping into forever-ness. My issue was more about fearing that maybe I wouldn’t reach the goal, it was crucial that I ‘be’ a man who could walk in the company of Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Ramana Maharshi, Nisagadatta, Kirpal Singh, Shams, my superheroes bigger than Batperson and Superperson.  I now see it wasn’t so much about death at all, it was more about integrity of being.  Initially, I used to relate the journey to the after (human) life, heading towards the ocean that holds all things; my focus was on the totality, not seeing that the water in the bucket is the same as other water.  If we were to look at the scriptures, the philosophers and dreamers, they imply a merging of the small with the large, the river to the sea; for me this is not it, I don’t really think like that, I go the other way.   Even though many times in my formative years I heard the story of the drop of water and the ocean,  I had been chasing the ocean and never seriously considered entering it through the drop;  I was looking away instead of trusting that everything I needed was right here.  We are made of water, attracted to showers, puddles, tin roofs pattering with raindrops, sea shells singing; and hey, coffee consists of water and although chewing beans is delicious, it’s better wrapped in fluid.

The Satori and Samadhi Trap
When we first start to enter the great ocean of Samadhi  (deep mindlessness), it may seem delightful, to many it would be a surprise to hear it might also be like a scorpion sting; or for some, initially it is a bitter potion that gradually steals everything you held close to your heart;  the totally of what we consider as ‘us’ breaks apart; trust me on this one, the lot is going to shatter, this is a ‘given’, so don’t be fooled by the smiling pictures of happy swami people, that’s Hollywood, or India philosophy spam marketing… but it’s ok, it changes shape further along the timeline, the waves settle.  Many people get caught in the initial Satori experience, the ‘awakening’ state, they milk it long after the cow is dry; they set themselves up, the robes, the incense, the books, the pictures, people bowing, micro communities, the gatherings, blissful smile, shoes off at the door; poor pitiful souls; this is nice but it’s nonsense, it’s a bit like playing three chords on a guitar and calling yourself a musician.  If people with a genuine depth of experience are not outspoken, the trail of casualties and tragedies is going to blow out even wider.  All those gurus screwing the pretty vulnerable women – staring into their eyes pretending it’s a spiritual experience, taking the money of divorcees, fiddling young boys; people wasting their lives with narcissists who pilfer the treasures of great traditions and build a private empire with them.  Let’s face it, it is worth having a little common sense here, and carefully investigating who might be the charlatans under a delusional spell; it is quite easy to  research these days.  People who are trapped in an ethereal euphoria always minimise the abuse of power, they cannot see the trail of deceit because of the spiritual fantasy, they confuse their mild ecstasy with someone who says the things they want to hear or believe to be true it’s escapism from the pain of life.

The Half Baked Cake
The experiences that many people have, are no doubt genuine, something has gone on, I would never question that, it’s not my business, but often they get lost in the exhilaration.  When people take their Satori (awakening) or Samadhi experience into the marketplace prematurely, quite often many naive trusting bright-eyed-bushy-tailed followers will get totally stuffed over. I have mixed feelings on whether the stuffing over is always intentional or if it’s more about immaturity.  There’s a certain amount of energy/power which comes with various experiences, and people paint themselves into corners they don’t know how to get out of. The lies get bigger and everyone gets hurt.

There is No Mountain
I used to live in the mountains, I had gone through a bit of a leap in my consciousness. I had to ground myself by going to the city, my world was disintegrating, I was quite young, twenty three.  We all have experiences when we start poking around in super-consciousness, it’s a version of normal, it’s no big deal unless you make it a big show.  I guess I am writing this because some people don’t know how to deal with the experience that goes on in the field of ‘consciousness’. The world although still there, at times becomes a little less solid for a while, this is only an elementary stage on the journey of self-transformation.  Actually it is not so much a journey, it’s more like sitting on a train and throwing all your bags out the window, the surroundings change but you are still in the same spot, it just looks and feels a little different, at times a bit misty, and like phantoms are playing roles.  It would be fair to say there is a ‘gate’ we go through, it is not a final destination, it’s the beginning.   By saying this I do not wish to create an impression that this ‘gate’ is a necessity or common to all or ought to be a goal,  it is still within the ‘known’ on the screen of life and ultimately it will lose its over-importance; it can be a milestone to some.  Spirituality is about losing self-importance, being nothing; if we are ‘something’ it’s always going to get in the way, the guruness gets in the way, the purity, the sadhana, the altered-experience is going to block the view, it all becomes a new chain.

Stealing Our Life Blood. 
We live at the tail end of a fragmented civilisation where there are many petty tyrants, boof-heads who are in the way of themselves and others; they are overburdened with self importance, they dirty the water; they see themselves as the ‘centre’, this is the biggest error a human being can make, not knowing that the ‘centre’ is everywhere, whether someone is a tyrant or not, it’s the same problem.  These mad men wish to control the flow of our water, to deprive communities of what is essential for the human body to function in this world of the five senses and coffee, it’s a necessity for all life on this big emerald colored rock floating in space.  Not only is their manipulation of this life giving substance disturbing our well-being; the mother earth, that wondrous living being we move upon also suffers.  This situation shows us how far we as a species have moved away from what is truly of value, when we poison the life-blood of our world, and others, we have lost our way.  These men, the tyrants who manipulate wealth and resources, hold too much power over a spellbound humanity,  they have become the false Gods.  They are ruthless, they experience a type of sick self stimulation by acquiring what is not really theirs, everything is for their empires, their kingdoms, they gather power by disempowering others.  In their taking, their lack of compassion, empathy and anything virtuous, they poison the world. They do not reflect the wisdom that is hidden in water.  How we treat others and respect the world around us is a benchmark of where we are at;  when we lose our compassion, our sense of care and sensitivity for the very Being we move in, we need to start again.

When we watch the water we see how adaptable it is, it is malleable, it bends when it needs to, it takes on new forms, it works it’s way around things,  we can learn everything we need to know from this glorious element of nature, it is a much better guru than most you will encounter.

Tilopa 2.0

Please note … guest writer coming soon to the Future

Overthrowing the Guru

Welcome to the Spiritual Circus
When we look from the outside at what is going on in ‘spiritual’circles, it would be very easy to say, “these people seem mad”, rest assured it’s madder than anyone would imagine on the inside, and I don’t mean on my inside, I mean within the walls of the ashrams, the monasteries, the yoga schools and the retreats, it is insanity.  However, we live in a very mad world, so why should madness stop at the ‘supposed’ gates of salvation?

There is a type of elitist arrogance in religious and spiritual groups that is often referred to as ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’, it comes from a biblical passage about the end days; it’s the core of the ‘us and them mentality’, the saved and the lost, it’s a prepubescent attitude that can linger and be passed from generation to generation, or from the guru to initiate. Let’s leave that aside now that I have normalised the environment.

Hook, Line and Blinkers
By nature, humans are easy to sell to, if you do it right, people will buy anything.  The classic example is the dummy in the window, a person wandering down the street,  looks through the glass, a desire emerges, imagines themselves dressed as the dummy, thinks ‘wow I will look better than that’, goes into shop, walks out with a spring their step, new outfit in bag.  This is very similar to what happens when newbies first find some type of perceived pathway out of pain, heartache and chaos of life. Because of a natural innocence and naivety with spirituality, people often don’t know how to act in a spiritual group, it turns into a monkey see – monkey do, instead of being oneself.  And this is where the trouble starts.

The Sanity of Skepticism
As a long term Ufologist and OOBer (out of the body traveler) it would seem odd for me to say that if you are interested in religion or spirituality, get yourself a friend who is a skeptic.  A skeptic will fast track you through all the nonsense, and on condition that your new skeptic buddy is not an extreme fundamentalist skeptic or very arrogant and condescending , he or she will probably ask the right questions.  Because the honeymoon stage of any new spiritual group can seem euphoric to most because of the new friends, supposedly liked minded seekers, happy people, revelations, the open arms, the feel good quotes, the challenge, the hope of a glorious future; it is critical that the new hot-air-balloon that you have hopped aboard, has a few sandbags to allow a descent back to earth.

Being Well Informed
I have been around a number of cults and sects, it started early in my life as I wanted to be a priest, fortunately I realised ‘that’s not it’,  I stole back Jesus from the Catholic clergy abusers, headed east, and into the mystic doctrines instead. Being well informed on doctrines, scriptures and approaches for transformation made it reasonably  easy to see who was just doing ‘dress ups’ and had hidden agendas, and who could push the visitors through the doorway of foreverness.

Overtaking the Teachers
So where is this going?  As I have been a musician for most of my life,  one thing that was critical has been for me to find my own music, to get inside sound, to get an understanding of how it all works and to abandon the idea of ‘being or playing somebody else’, and to some degree, to disregard the known.  This attitude is something that I consider important when dealing with the sublime subject of spirituality.  When I was about twenty years old I studied guitar with a great musician and he said to me, “I don’t mind if you go past me”. This statement and pass-out to freedom was a great gift.  And this is an attitude that is worth considering when it comes to spiritual teachers, gurus, masters or anyone who has sat a crown on their head in the spiritual empire.  Ultimately we need to go past them. Dependency is the enemy of the spiritual aspirant; it would be very easy for people to start throwing scriptural quotes in my direction in response to this statement.  I did have a great teacher, I owe him a lot;  his death was a major milestone in my endless transformation, it meant I had to put into action everything that I had remembered, this was not comfortable, I had to become responsible for myself.  But we don’t need somebody to die, for us to die to them.  And dying is what this is all about.

Death of the Known
The process of meditation is what I would call the drinking of slow poison. Generally if we think of poison, alarm bells go off, images of sickness, a slow and painful exit from the body, a lot of sweating, gasping for air as we squeeze the last words out of our being.  OK, let’s change our definition of poison to it being an elixir, something that pilgrims have been seeking for eons.  In meditation everyone is equal, in the Silence there are no show-ponies, there is no feet kissing of gurus, no bowing or prostrating, there are no phantoms, by understanding this, a lot of unnecessary stuff can be dumped.  It is important to not confuse the world of forms and sensations, or any real or imaginary spiritual hierarchies with where we are going, or more precisely, with what is at the core under our awareness. In ashrams and monasteries there is a tendency for the ‘been here longer, know more’ attitude to exist, this structure can be a little delusive because the newbie may use a more ‘senior’ member of the community as the model to shape themselves on.  The ‘disciple mannequin’ is then the point of focus and what happens is the newbie takes on the habits of someone else, thinking the accrual of habits is development.

When the Guru Stuffs You Over
So what if not only the ‘senior’ monkeys have got it all very wrong, but the guru or teacher themselves, they may be a schyster; people are giving up not only time, but are placing some sort of future life importance around someone who has gotten it total wrong or may just be a control freak?  What to do?  This entanglement is dangerous, it may even cost us our friends, family, money, our thinking, our precious life.  We see this all the time, betrayal, abuse of power, sexual abuse, misappropriation of monies, the building of empires at the expense of others. There are a trail of corpses on the guru trail, there have been numerous tragedies where there has been betrayal; if one were to say “the Spiritual Path is treacherous”, it would be correct from the point of view that a great teacher is rare. Personally I think it is important for everything and everyone to be become our teacher, as life emerges we can savor the wisdom

Growing Outwards
I had the greatest of teachers, this gives me a good window to look through that allows a certain amount of empathy.  I get this ‘teacher thing’, I understand the feeling of obligation that people have; the hooks, the feeling of loss when it doesn’t work; the strings that are similar to being in a family.  This relationship being like our families, may be a clue to how to navigate in, through and out of the many spiritual and religious groups we may encounter.  With families, we are born into an environment that allows us to grow, we don’t have a choice, in some cases we are nurtured, cared for, guided, but there are situations where people are in fear, are bullied, feel worthless, dis-empowered. Regardless what the family structure may be like, we do know that good natured, well balanced people come from varied family backgrounds.  My dearest friend, the man who was my teacher grew up in an orphanage, but he morphed into the wisest man I ever met.  With this in mind, if we can learn to take from our family backgrounds and grow into versions of self-reliant independent thinking, emotionally intelligent people, we can also ride through the various ups and downs, wisdom and insanity of the spiritual circus and not get ‘caught’.

Claiming Ourselves Back
What I learnt from my teacher, and this was from the very first meeting, was to start letting go of everything that was in the way, from the outset it was critical that I let go of him, I had to come back to myself and get rid of everything in the way; to see the teachings, the gurus, the experiences as something on the periphery and secondary; to not have anything in the way to block the view; and ultimately that anything else was ‘looking away’.  When we are lost in the drama of cults, religious institutions, gurus, practices, spiritual teachings, they sit between us, or more specifically they create a division; where we need to be is in ourselves (not totally up ourselves with some story of spirituality), all these things create ‘another’ and are things that are rising and falling on the screen of life, just consciousness and energy.

An attitude of ‘not betraying God, our guru or teacher’ by claiming back our power is critical.  The Universes we move in are benevolent and it is our playground, we are not its slave, and freedom is in coming home to ourselves, not moving away.

Tilopa 2.0