discussion

Suppression of the Feminine and Tantric Healing of… Men? (and Woman)

I suspect today’s blog post may be controversial, but perhaps the collective consciousness will welcome it. It has all the great qualities of any good drama. We have the antagonist of Patriarchy, and the protagonist of the Feminine Essence. We have battles of power, suppression, and the counter attack. We also have some metaphysical twists thrown in, such as Karma, reincarnation, and the power of Spirit to create miraculous healing, bringing a bright hope for the future.

In my own personal healing journey as a man, I somehow found myself in spiritual and healing groups of women. In most cases, I was the only man in the group. And sometimes, maybe one of two. In many of those groups, there were discussions of the re-emergence of the Feminine Essence. Historical recounts of witch burnings and the uprising of a male dominated religion, with “The Church” casting out women, silencing them, even killing them to ensure that their deep Wisdom and connection to spirit would never be heard. In this way “The Church” could dominate the culture, indoctrinate its message into the masses, and separate the masses from their true Spiritual Essence.

What did the Feminine essence have that frightened “The Church” so much? The Feminine knew that it could connect directly to God by turning within and that it could experience the Divine through Nature and every pulsating atom within Creation. The Church was perhaps frightened by this awareness and power, not understanding it, and assuming it to be some sort of demonic possession. Perhaps they were threatened because they simply realized that the Feminine’s experience was much more powerful than what they could offer, and thus they wanted to “silence the competition”. It just wasn’t good for business, if you will. If people learn they can connect directly to the Divine within their own Being, then there would be no need for the Church and its priests as go betweens to bring the masses to God. The Church needed you one step away from God in order for you to need their “services”. And if they were not “in demand”, then they could not get your financial offerings. So they silenced the woman, and created a teaching that required their services in order to get into “Heaven”, otherwise, eternal damnation would be your punishment. (Now, that’s pretty scary stuff! People these days are willing to pay to avoid allergies and headaches, so you know avoiding eternal damnation was a good marketing tool! Especially when you are the only game in town offering a solution.)

Now, I will leave it to you to decide if the above version of the story is fair or not, but I can report that these types of ideas were commonly offered within the spiritual woman’s groups I found myself in. And there are historical threads that can and do support these types of activities, even if the motivations may be a little different (or not).

Being often the only male in the room in many ways gave me a “fly on the wall” type experience. I learned about these theories, and was quite honestly a little shocked at first. Once these things were pointed out to me, quite frankly it seemed hard to ignore that there is likely at least some, if not a lot of truth to it.

Within these groups, I also was invited to explore a spirituality that encouraged me to open to “Feminine wisdom.” To find my spiritual connection within, to experience it through nature, to awaken and own the Power that dwelled within me and could be experienced all around me. In this way, I learned to become my own bridge to Spirit, or a “Priest” in my own rite. Worlds cannot convey what a powerful impact these experiences had on my healing journey and spiritual transformation. It forever changed how I looked at the healing process, the world, my own Self, and God. And, also the Power of the Feminine Essence.

One of the things I did begin to notice among many of the woman, was that their “re-claiming the Feminine essence” sometimes came with anger and outrage at the Masculine Patriarchy who has suppressed them and in some ways is even doing so in the modern age. But I did realize that the pain that it caused was legitimate, and they were honoring their healing path to allow the pain, the anger and the rage to come up to be cleared and healed. The energetic “imprints” or the Karma that surrounded it needed to be released in order to step beyond the previous limitations.

At the same time, this stage of healing can also lead us into a place of feeling like a “victim”. A feeling that another had “done something to you”, and that you have no power in the situation. An often unconscious assumption that you are somehow completely innocent. The healing journey requires us to move past this as well. To acknowledge the pain, remove the source of the pain, accept any responsibility that may be yours and reclaim your own wholeness and power in the situation. Remaining a victim keeps you in a position of weakness and allows the power over the situation to remain in the hands of the other party.

If we look at the way Karma works, there are really “no victims”. Karma is 100% fair. It simply brings back the energy that you created from a past action. So, as a general analogy, we could say that a woman who is heavily suppressed in this lifetime may have been a male suppressor in a past life, and the Karmic energy is just being recycled to experience the energy that was created. (Although it may often be more complex than this.)

It is said that we are all interconnected, and all One, and that literally what we do to another, we are doing to own own Self. This is where to Golden Rule comes in. The actions that you take will energetically affect you in some way. Part of the Tantric healing cycle is to understand this energetic potential, and find ways to resolve the Karma so you are freed from its effects.

So we have “no victims”. But I can remember in all of this, that the stories focused on the suppression of the Feminine. And while it was important to bring the energy up to be cleared, there was a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, anger towards the “masculine” or the “patriarchy”. While I cannot speak for the woman of the group, the repeated hearing of the story began to make me think of the woman as “victims”. “Oh how awful it must be to be treated in that way, powerless, defenseless. Why, we the men are the most awful of human beings!”

I began to feel that I owed all women everywhere a huge apology. That I needed to grovel at their feet and beg for forgiveness for all that I had done to wrong them…

(Who is the victim now?)

There was an energetic reason for the Masculine to acknowledge and apologize for the pain it had caused, but there are always multiple sides to every story, and there are a few angles we are leaving out.

What would someone do who was being suppressed or controlled? Especially if they were afraid to reveal their true essence for fear of being killed? Might they resent the oppressor? Darn skippy! And don’t you think they might, in their feeling of powerlessness seek some way to have power, or to get revenge? Well, of course, and it wouldn’t be a good drama story without it!

As my exploration of this dynamic continued, it came to light that the response that “the Feminine” had to this situation was really not any more respectful than the original suppression by the Masculine. While many may have suffered a disconnect from their Feminine power, it karmically set up retaliation. And in many cases, this came in the form of subtle manipulation, resentment, passive aggressive behavior, etc. In other cases, it has been more blatant and long lasting: entraping men by getting pregnant, manipulating the court system for greater financial gain during divorce, etc.

(For the record, what I just shared is not my projection, but actually the uncovered “truth” from some of these woman during their own healing process. A realization by some of them, that they actually owed the Masculine an apology too. If you are brave, and willing to explore this deeper, please click on and read the Manifesto for the Conscious Woman, which was the inspiration for sharing this part of my own healing journey through this blog post. I am not suggesting I agree with everything written in it. There is a lot that, to me, is quite harsh and distorted, or at least “not true” more often than true, but I offer it more as a “makes you think” piece. It will likely enlighten you about some things, offend you and perhaps piss you off. But that is often true of things which bring to awareness that which we have not wanted to see or that we find unfathomable.  Save it for the end, or at least make sure you come back and finish this post.)

During one of the Healing circles I was a part of, this issue came up. I felt moved to apologize to the Feminine in a Sacred healing space, which was deeply moving for not only myself, but many of the Women in the room. And to my great surprise, one of the women felt the need to stand up, and apologize for the ways the Feminine had hurt, manipulated and dishonored the Masculine. Some deep part of my soul so needed to hear that, and intense emotion, self-forgiveness and relief flooded through every part of my Being. A weight was lifted. “It was NOT just me! I am (Men are) not the only one’s in the wrong!” It has been a mutual dance. And forgiveness can happen.

I have heard some people speaking about the “suppression of the Feminine”, in such a way where one can almost imagine or get the impression that there was this time in the past when women were pure, and enlightened, deeply connected to Spirit, loving nature and dancing in the forest with a radiance of inner light around them (and I imagine this was actually true for at least a few of them), and then suddenly, with no known cause or reason, the Patriarchy rose up like an unexpected black cloud and lightening came from the sky silencing them and forcing them to disown their greatest Secrets and Divine Powers… If you have been paying attention, you will immediately recognize this version of the story as coming from a place of “victim”.

The greater reality is that there has been conflict between people, and between genders probably since the dawn of time. And while there could easily be Truth in the Patriarchy and the Church simply making a “power move”, that does not discount that the woman from that time and before may have likely been seeking power in their own way. No matter what the truth is of the unfolding story, there is a Karmic thread that started long before the suppression of Feminine energy. The Patriarchy and “The church” did not arise out of a vacuum, but instead it was a result of Karma from previous times. No victims.

There is also another layer to this story that needs to be brought into the light. According to Tantra and many other wisdom traditions, each individual, whether male or female, is a unique balance of both Masculine and Feminine essences. By suppressing the Feminine Essence, the males also suppressed the Feminine Essence within their own Selves. They literally forced a part of their own Being and awareness into submission. They lost the chance to find their own wholeness, because they could not honor the Feminine. So, a deeper layer of truth, at least from the perspective of Wholeness and Spiritual evolution, is that the men also suffered under their own regime, although likely without realizing the harm they had done.

There was an increase in the polarization of opposites. We can still see this today through our cultural notions of gender roles: Men don’t cry (express feminine quality of emotions). An aggressive male in business is “good at his job” and a woman who runs the same level of aggression is usually given a more derogatory label. A friend of mine recently told me of a couple from Little Rock, AK who are in the antique business. They were traveling in Atlanta, looking to purchase things they could take back and sell in Little Rock. My friend showed them several stone bookends, all of which they liked except for one. When he asked what was wrong with that one, the woman replied: “It would never sell because it’s pink. We don’t even use the word pink in Little Rock. If something is pink, we have to call it ‘beige’.” The local sense of “manliness” will not allow for the feminine quality of pink.

So even today, this struggle between masculine and feminine carries on. The reality is that we don’t know when or how all this started. To isolate a point in history as “its cause” is to ignore the Karmic thread from which it sprung and potentially cry “victim”. And while the stories of the Patriarchy can be helpful to help us understand what has happened and how it may be effecting us now so we can heal the Karma, there is a point where it is no longer beneficial to reference the past. We must learn to look at our current situation. We are creating power struggles right now, not in the past. What can we do NOW that will change this and restore balance?

If two countries are at war, our common assumption is that one country must “win” and that the battle will continue until someone is declared the winner. There is, however, another option that is almost never taken. It is so easy that no one seems to acknowledge it, but no one ever uses it because they believe it is important to “win”. The simplest way to end a war is simply for both sides to set down their weapons, say “Sorry about that” and honor both their commonalities and their uniquenesses.

This is the same for the conflict between “Masculine and Feminine”, lovers of any gender, family members, friends, co-workers, etc. We must set down the weapons, and call a truce. When we push to be a winner in these situations, no one can ever win. History has already shown us that. Attempting to “win” and fighting the fight is ultimately a rejection of a part of our own Self. We all need both the Feminine and the Masculine to be out of conflict and in perfect balance in order to find true peace.

Continuing to “battle” is simply the Karma recycling itself over and over again. Left as is, it will go on and on, like a perpetual motion machine. Stopping the battle ends the cycles of Karma. The explanation is simple: “just stop”. The reality is more complex, because the Karma keeps driving us. But Tantric Healing and the Tantric Path encourages us to find ways to end these Karmically conditioned cycles of harming our own Self and others. To honor all parts of our own Self, both Masculine and Feminine. To honor both aspects of others as well. We will likely need to “stop the battle” one area at a time, but eventually we can become free.

My own healing journey to explore the Feminine Essence was a part of my preparation for Tantra, which I did not encounter formally until a few years after beginning my work with a more Feminine Essence based spiritual approach. Through my progression of the Tantric Path, each piece that I learned through that initial exploration has been re-affirmed, and woven even deeper into a tapestry of spiritual awakening and understanding.

Tantra is sometimes referred to as “The Cult of the Feminine” or “Goddess Worship”. This is because it works with the Feminine Essence of the Divine. In most Tantric paths, the Feminine aspect of the Divine is approached and worked with and is thought to be the “Power” of the Divine. There are many practices that involve honoring the Feminine’s Sacredness, including a practice which involves worship of the genitals (the yoni) of a human female consort. I have occasionally heard someone make a comment that seems to imply that their understanding is that the Feminine is actually superior to the Masculine. And from that, that women are superior to men.

There is a beauty and power in restoring the balance to honoring the Feminine through ritual. There is a beauty to giving woman the respect that they are due. But honoring the Feminine does not need to be done at the expense of less honor for the Masculine. We must remember that Tantric practices teach us to restore the balance between Masculine and Feminine within our own Self, not to assume Feminine superiority. It teaches us to learn to honor all aspects of creation, and discover the Sacredness within our own Being. It teach us that we can also experience our own deeper Self though conscious connection to another and how we can balance our relationship with others and end conflict. It gives us tools to clear out Karma, and end the cycles of pain and suffering. It teaches us to release the past, and live in the here and now.

The final goal is to re-unify the Masculine and the Feminine. In fact, it says they were never separated, but our own mistaken polarization and Karmic war has prevented us from seeing the deeper Truth. Once the Masculine and Feminine put down their weapons, end the war and begin to peacefully relate to each other, they will recognize their own essence within the other and merge into the non-dual state of Consciousness.

In the mean time, whether you practice Tantra or not, what can you do to put your weapons down? (One at a time is fine.) How can you begin to consciously end the current power struggles which exist. even if they are very subtle? Where might you do best to simply say “I am sorry.”? Where might you find that you can substitute a more honoring and supportive action or kind word? The war may not end all at once, but one by one we can learn to recall the “inner troupes” and restore peace and balance. We are not victims. We must discover how we contribute to this cycle, and consciously choose a different way.

At different stages of healing, we have different persectives.  My intention in sharing this story was to share MY VERSION of my own healing experience and spiritual path, and the way it has woven into Tantric Wisdom for me, with the hopes that it will provide some source of healing or insight for you. I have also learned that everyone’s path to wholeness is unique, and must also be honored. 

What have your experiences been around healing Masculine and Feminine balance?  Or around reclaiming your own Feminine Power or Masculine Power?

And in conclusion, this topic reminds me of a poem I love:

From “The Subject Tonight Is Love” by Hafiz:

It Happens All The Time In Heaven

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth-
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
Lovers,
And women and women
Who give each other
Light,
Often will get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover’s hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
“My dear,
How can I be more loving to you;
How can I be more
Kind?”

Non-Dual Tantra vs. Advaita Vedanta: Sacred Body or Illusion?

In the schools of Yogic Non-Dualism, we primarily have Advaita Vedanta and Tantra. They both arrive at a non-dual conclusion through their practice, and thus believe that the inherent nature of all things is Consciousness, or the True Self, and that there is only One Consciousness or Self.

They each apply what appears to be a radically different method and attitude towards their practice, however. Advaita Vedanta declares emphatically that all phenomonal experience such as body, earth, thoughts, etc… in short, anything that can be observed or experienced, is an Illusion without any basis in Reality. The only thing that is Real, it declares, is the Self as Pure Consciousness. From this perspective, Advaita Vedanta would say that the body is worthless and that by falsely believing your own individual self to be the body, you prevent yourself from experience your larger True Self.

Tantra, on the other hand declares that all of life that can be observed and experienced is the Divine Consciousness Itself, and should be honored as God, and is inherently as Real as the Consciousness itself. Tantra says that the body is Sacred, and through the body one can experience the Divine.

So which is it? Is the Body worthless like dust, or is it the Sacred Vehicle to liberation?

Deeper study of Yogic philosophy and the direct experience that arises through one’s sadhana (personal spiritual practice) reveals that Yoga as a spiritual path and philosophy is filled with seeming Paradox. For instance the Absolute is both Formless and with Form at the same time, and in the end, it is experienced them to be identical in nature, even though our Dualistic thinking right now can only see two different things. These paradoxes are often further polarized by people who insist that only one side of the paradox can be true.

The issue of the value of the Body is another such paradox. There is a place where both Tantra and Advaita Vedanta speak the Truth at the same time. In fact, I will suggest that an advanced practitioner of either Path will be able to see and experience the Truth of the other Path’s declaration.

But how can the body be as worthless as dust and Sacred and worthy of honor and worship at the same time?

The higher teachings of both paths would agree that YOU, the real you, is beyond the body. They would as that your True Self is not limited to the experience of the body and the worldly phenomenon. You are in fact Pure Consciousness.

Advaita Vedanta offers you to consider the body as an illusion and worthless to push you towards releasing identification with the body. They do not want you to think “this body is me”, or “the body is mine”, because they want you to realize your True Self as Consciousness. So, they tell you it is worthless, hoping you will throw it away and be freed from the burden of identifying with the body.

But, if the body is not “mine”, who’s body is it? The body actually belongs to God, who created it, and who will also eventually destroy it. It is through the Power of the Absolute that the Body exists at all, and it is not yours to claim. So you might find it helpful to think of the body as “on loan from God”.

Now, I ask you, if you knew that God had made something, and was entrusting you to take care of it, asking you to return it when you were done (normal wear and tear acceptable), and you truly understood that was the situation, don’t you think you might take care of it in a different way than if you found it on the side of the road? Don’t you think you might care for God’s property, even in a different way than something you thought to be “yours”? Not only is the body a gift, but a gift from God to boot. And to top it all off God, the One Consciouess, dwells within it, as YOU, as your True Self. So to care for the body as the dwelling place of God suddenly makes sense, right?

This is closer to the perspective Tantra invites. Honor the Body and all the expressions of Creation because they are the Dwelling place of the Divine, and YOU are THAT. The body will one day wither away, but what will remain is the Divine essence that dwells in it, and you are the Caretaker of that Divine Temple until such time God tears it down and builds a new one. You have been entrusted to the Sacred task of caring for the body, but the body is not yours, and nor is it “you”.

So in Tantra, the body and the elements of Creation and the energies of life are honored as Sacred, because they are manifestations of the Divine, and the Divine dwells within them.

Although they appear to be radically different versions of “truth”, both Advaita Vedanta and Tantra must be approached with a common intention for the final goal: to discover your True Self as Pure Consciousness, or “God”. If we leave off that intention to either approach, then the practices are taken out of context and we will not be inspiring our relationship with life to change. We would either be “giving up the body” or “celebrating the body” from the same level of awareness that has kept us from experiencing deeper spiritual truth, in the past, and thus no progress on the spiritual path would really be made.

In most Yogic traditions, there is emphasis on a Teacher, Guide or Guru. Just as most patients do not know what their disease is or how to treat it, most people starting a spiritual practice cannot see the best “medicine” or practice for their unique situation. This is where a teacher becomes invaluable, because he or she can assess what the most effective method for freeing you would be, and then offer that practice or philosophic approach to you to help you correct your perspective.

Taken to our own inclinations, we might be drawn to the wrong medicine because it reinforces our false notions. For instance, if someone has a lot of body shame, or judgment for their body and its workings, then telling them “the body is worthless as dust” could potentially increase their judgment and shame for the body. There could be a type of “I KNEW IT. I hate this body so much” reaction, only now they are under the false impression that Advaita Vedanta sanctions their distaste for the body.

Likewise, if someone is very identified with the body, and loves extremes in sensuality, body pampering, pleasure, etc, then Tantra’s idea to honor and worship the Sacredness in the body may simply be “spiritually sanctioned” indulgence and would increase the attachment already present.

So, one might think, “Ah, so if someone is very attached to sensuality, then we should tell them the body is worthless and if someone feels very shameful about their body, we should offer them Tantra.” In many cases, that would be the correct medicine, but interestingly, sometimes we must treat “like with like”. Sometimes, the person with great shame and judgment for the body must dance with their judgment and distaste for the body until they realize it is an obstacle to their growth and can let go of their judgments. And sometimes, a person must dance with their attachment to sense gratification until they can see for themselves the emptiness that their attachment brings, and finally let it go. Many times, our complexity has us be attached to sensual experience while at the same time judging it. So you see, it is not so simple, and this is why the Teacher is so helpful, because he can offer you the medicine that will be most helpful.
(Although, in fairness, when someone is spiritually minded, then they will usually be drawn to the teacher who has the right medicine for them.)

But remember, for either practice to work for Spiritual awakening, the deeper goal and perspective must be held in the mind. You are releasing the body to discover your True Self beyond it, or you are honoring the Sacredness of the body so you can discover your True Self which dwells in it. In either case, you are seeking to awaken to your True Self. We cannot simply say “I am not the body” with thought only, we must finally experience the Truth of it. And we cannot simply declare “the body is Sacred” and then go about business as usual. In both cases, we must open to the direct experience through the proper intention and practices.

Once direct experience or Knowledge arises, you will experience the paradox and the validity of both perspectives. The body is both Sacred as a dwelling place of the Divine, and also an Illusion which does not equal the Truth of your Self. In both cases, you are not the body, but rather the Pure Consciousness in which the experience we call “body” arises. It is all a Sacred Play of the Divine, and at the same time it is not Real because it will all eventually decay and end. Only Consciousness itself is permanent and Real, because it cannot die or decay, and You Are That, and That alone.

While their approach or “medicine” is different, both Advaita Vedanta and Tantra end with the same non-dual final conclusion. Only Consciousness is Real, there is only One Consciousness, and You Are That. In the mean time, be a mindful custodian to the Sacred Body, while reminding yourself that it is not “you” or “yours”, but on loan from the Divine. And even dance with the notion of its being an Illusion if you like. If you have a teacher, he or she may advise you which medicine is best for you. But, don’t allow these seemingly different approaches to create a conflict around what is Real, or the validity of the teachings.

What have your experiences been with the Body related to non-dual practices of either Tantra or Advaita Vedanta?

Selflessness and the Spiritual Path

(This post was inspired by and in response to a post by Mark McElroy entitled “The Race for Last Place”.  Click Here to read his post.)

Hey Mark,

I have been silently enjoying your posts on the Tao, but today I feel the motivation to pipe in.

I have observed in my years of studying different spiritual paths, that the more I learn and experience, the more I see the commonalities within them.  You pointed this out yourself in an earlier post. All the major religions, and especially the main Mystical Traditions, are all giving “The Way” their own labels, and their own set of “pointers”.  I only say that because my main study and perspective is Tantra Yoga as a path of non-duality, and that is the perspective that the rest of my sharing will be based upon, even though I will continue to honor “The Way” as one metaphor.

This idea of “selflessness” and “putting others first” is indeed very complicated.

For me, I have to remind myself when looking at this that the “Sages” have a different perspective from the get-go.  Their Self-Identity is from a different vantage point than the average person who has not discovered “They Way”, or as Tantra might say, “the True Self.”

Tantra would explain the average person as being identified with the ego, or sense of individuality.  Ego says “I am the person known as Jeff.  I am the thoughts and feelings and desires that pass though the awareness of Jeff”.

But the Self-Realized Yogi or Sage, knower of “The Way”, sees beyond the limitations of the ego state.  Some would even argue they have dissolved the ego.  Either way, they have shifted their identity from the individual self as ego to the larger Self, of which Tantra says there is only truly One.  “We are all One”.  We are connected through “The Way”, or the permeating Consciousness that experiences, reveals and creates all things.

While the ego identified individual will base most of their happiness on the life circumstances they find themselves in (i.e. What they have or don’t have.  Who likes or doesn’t like them, etc), the Self-Realized Sage finds complete balance, fulfillment and a deep inner joy that is based purely upon knowing the Truth of their Own Being.

The Nature of the Truth Self is joy and the Sages then experience that the outer world is not the source of happiness.

So, I suggest that when the sages “Place themselves last”, this means that they stop serving the individual ego of the person they were before knowing The Way, and begin to serve the larger Self, which is actually within All Beings.  From this perspective, serving others has no “Selfish” motivation for gain by the original individual, but is instead understood as serving the Sacred Nature of Life, or the Consciousness that permeates all of Creation.  In other words, serving others becomes experienced as literally and directly serving God, of which the Sage knows him or herself to be.

So, to work with the quote from Jesus (“So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16) ), when the Sage sets aside or dissolves his individual ego and lets it be “last” to be served, and instead places the large Self “first”, then the True Self or “They Way” is being served first.  If the individual ego is served “first” then the Large Self, or God, is placed last in the order of importance.

This wisdom works for the Sages, because they experience the deeper Truth of it.  There are many practices which attempt to work with this principle. “Service” is in fact one of the most widely used spiritual practices in the world. It can be beneficial, to use this practice as a way of deepening your spiritual path, but there must be a striving to connect with the deeper intention.  There must be a level of surrender, and a sense of serving God, or “They Way” or whatever Higher Power someone relates to, and not just serving “individuals”.  (Although, focusing on the suffering of others as a way to diminish awareness of your own suffering and increase gratitude is one Buddhist practice that can have benefits as well, and can deepen service as a spiritual practice.)

“Ego” serving “ego” does nothing more than create the very complicated scenarios that you described in your post. There must be a sense of serving the larger whole without the individual ego gaining or losing anything. That’s where the “selfless” part really comes in. To serve others without any thought of what you will get from it. Otherwise it slips into expectations, disappointments (I did all this for him/her and I got nothing back!) and pride (I am such a selfless and generous person! Yay me!).

If I look back over your examples, in each case there would very likely be “ego” engagement and needs being fulfilled or demanded.  A sense of placing either one’s own individual needs first, or placing the needs of the other first.  For each person, no matter how subtle or not so subtle, there was likely a hope for something in return, even if it was unconscious.

For the Sage, the Self-Realized knower of The Way, individual needs dissolved when ego identification ceased.  They arrive at a place of Wholeness, in which they feel complete within their own Being. They are “In the world, but not of the world.” All of their needs are satisfied by the deeper experience of the Self.  So, when they give or serve, it is from a place of fullness, because they have nothing else they need. They are just sharing out of the love that overwhelms their own hearts.  They are unaffected by whether you like or don’t like what they offer.  They do not care if you thank or praise them.

They approach their service with a sense of Compassion for those they serve.   And they serve in ways that we often may not be able to understand.  Serving by listening.  Serving by smiling at us.  Serving by being a beacon of Light in the darkness of experience.

Whereas the “ego” may think compassion to be the taking away of suffering through giving people what they seem to lack, or finding a way to end pain, the Sages know that the true suffering is caused by not knowing the True Self, or the Way.  As the Buddha said  something to the effect of “Enlightenment is the only True Healing.” (Enlightenment or knowing the True Self or The Way).  Prior to that, some type of suffering is inevitable.

In the spirit of “The Way”, I also acknowledge that my words are just words at minimum, and at most they are well written “Way Pointers”.  But, they are not “The Truth” in and of themselves.  They are an expression of how I understand things, and the experiences that I have had in my own spiritual journey.

Loving the Tao posts, and thanks for letting me share.

Balancing Shiva and Shakti in Life: Resolving Separation and Duality by Clearing Karmic Conditioning (Video)

Explore Shiva and Shakti as a metaphor for duality.   Learn a powerful perspective that can help you shift out of conflict and suffering and empower you to take responsibility for our own experience so you can begin to consciously move into a more joyful relationship with Life and the world around you.  Discover how Karma directs your experiences and how learning to become more aware of and witness your reactions and Karmic patterns can begin to free you and help you live more consciously.

This is Part 3 of a 6 part video series on Tantra as a Spiritual Path.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIIPV4_tDL4

Modern Tantra and moving beyond Sexual Energy (Video)

Discusses Neo-Tantra, Sacred Sexuality or Western Tantra as a modern tool for erotic/sexual healing and relationship enhancement in context with the fuller Tradition of Tantra Yoga as a Spiritual Path.  Discover a deeper understanding of Sexual energy in the path of Tantra Yoga.

This is Part 2 of a 6 part video series on Tantra as a Spiritual Path.

What Enlightenment Is Not and Approaching Your Practice (Video)

Tantra to discover your True Self. Learn a helpful perspective to approach tantric techniques and practices.  Explore a misconception about Enlightenment and gain a deeper understanding of how daily life relates to Enlightenment.

Part 1 in a 6 part video series on Tantra as a Spiritual Path.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMU4G53xdxI

Prayer, Christianity and Tantra Yoga

                I have recently been engaging in a conversation about prayer with one of my yoga students.  It has evolved from his awakening experiences of peace and blissful energy flowing in his awareness and body through the Tantric Yoga practices I have taught him.

                This type of experience necessarily challenges the way we think about ourselves. You learn from your own experience that the more you get out of the way, the more the peace and bliss arise.  The currents of ecstatic energy do not flow because you wish them to, but because you are relaxed enough, open enough and able to be present to what is moving.

                 He is still active within his Presbyterian Church, and as one might expect, he wishes to find a way to reconcile his arising Tantric experience with the religious teachings of the church.  He began a search on “Yoga and Christianity” which quickly brought up many fundamentalist ideas suggesting that Yoga was anti-Christian, that it was Hinduism, and even that it was wrong because it taught you that God could be found within your own Self.  This last idea of course challenges the structure of the church which in many ways relies on the importance of the church and the priests or preachers as a way to connect to God.

                 Fortunately, his personal faith and his experience with Yoga allowed him to see through these ideas.  He has learned to trust his awakening experience.

                 The next conversation came from a recent meeting at his church which discussed the nature of prayer.  He was delighted that even within his own church, there was a discussion which began to challenge the traditional thinking about what prayer is.  For many, prayer is thought of as a way to talk to God, to ask for help, to ask for things you want or desire.  That is the traditional idea of prayer.  But what if prayer was used to LISTEN instead of talk?  What if prayer was a way to open to the presence of God and receive His blessings?

                 In their conversation, they offered a quote from John the Baptist: “True inner prayer is to stop talking and to listen to the wordless voice of God within our heart; it is to cease doing things on our own, and to enter into the action of God.”

                Powerful words from the well known Christian Mystic.  He defines prayer as listening to the wordless voice of God.  But if there are no words, how do we listen?  With our hearts!  We connect to God through deeper emotion.  We open to feeling the unconditional Love and the Presence of God within our own Being. We come into communion with God in this way.  This leads to the experience of Union, which is what Yoga really means.  It is the Union of the small individual self, with the large Divine Self or God.

                 By John the Baptist’s definition, prayer becomes akin to the deep, silent meditation of advanced Yoga, which expands into Samadhi, or a continuous one-pointed stream of awareness back into its own Self.  The discovery of God within one’s own Being.  The Self identification with that same Divine Consciousness.

                Prayer REVEALS the nature of God, if practiced in this way.  Currents of bliss, joy, peace and love arise first as the True Nature of the Self is accessed.  And over time, it expands, shifting and deepening both your relationship with God, and also your relationship with life.  This is the path of the Mystic, and also the path taken in the advanced spiritual practices of Tantra Yoga.

Guru Principle or Guru Tattva (Video)

Explore the Tantric ideas around the Guru (the Spiritual teacher) as the Guru Tattva, or the Guru Principle.

This is Part 8 of 8 in the Mantra Meditation Series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=redw0R35vqE

Tantric Healing: Clearing Clutter from Heart and Mind

                There is a laundry room and storage area in the basement of my home which has become overly filled with useless things.  It is not a large room to begin with, but the free wall space and shelf space has become full to the point where additional items are spilling out, slowly overtaking any practical floor space.  There is just barely enough room to get in and do laundry and get out.  Occasionally I will trip over some random item en route.

                The open floor space has also become the storage area for the vacuum.  In recent months, another member of my household has decided that “the vacuum is in the way, and must be put somewhere else.”  Whether fair or not, I find this concept amusing.  To my mind, the vacuum is one of only a handful of things in the room which is actually useful, worth keeping and stored in a convenient location.

                It amuses me to think that even the very best canister vacuums to use, the very essence of a clean floor, is the “enemy” when all around the room are stacks of ceramic tiles which will never be used, an abundance of scrap wood which will likely serve no future purpose, close to 20 cans of half used paint from previous projects, and an empty, barely clean birdcage from a pet that died three years ago.  The list goes on to include power tools which have not been properly stored (because you can’t get to the shelf space where they should go), endless random construction items like doorknobs, screws, nails, and of course a studio sized four-burner gas stove and oven that was purchased over 8 years ago for a specific project, and have never been used because the project needs were altered.

                The majority of items will practically never be used, and the items which are worth keeping are not stored in a manner which is an efficient use of space or convenient to get to.  Yet somehow, because the vacuum is in the walk-able floor area, IT is “in the way”.  I laugh to myself as I see all the useless items disappear, and the vacuum cleaner sitting quietly and peacefully alone, snuggled up next to the now inaccessible wall, completely out of the walk path in a now open room.

                This situation, however stimulated in me the following questions.  “How often do we fail to see the real ‘problem’ or ’cause’ of the ‘obstacles’ we see in our lives?  How often do we define the ‘Vacuum’  or the discomfort in the moment as the problem, when the deeper issue is the piles of useless junk which clutter our hearts and minds?”  It is so much easier to look at and respond to the resulting crisis than it is to look at all of the influences, choices and actions which led up to it.  The “vacuum” is not the problem.  The junk that prevents it from having a proper home is.

                An important part of the path of personal growth and transformation is the ability to open self-awareness and observe the role we play in the experiences we have in life.  To stop blaming the Vacuum when what we really need to do is acknowledge and deal with the “mess” that brought about the situation.  Taking personal responsibility for what we have done and what we have not done, and then consciously addressing those areas of our lives, rather than simply reacting to the outcome and acting surprised or as if it has been “done to us” by some outside cruel force of the universe.

                In some cases, the “mess” was created long ago through our conditioning in childhood, or past lives.  As part of the Tantric healing process, we learn to clean up and clear out the past conditioning so we can be free and fresh in the moment.  In this way, we remove the clutter from our hearts and mind, and keep the energy of our life flowing freely, and the enjoyable and useful experiences have room in our lives and our hearts.  When our hearts and minds are cluttered, there is no room for what is joyful and peaceful, because all of life revolves around “finding a place for the vacuum”. 

                Joy, Love and Happiness all should be a part of your life as they are a part of your True Nature. If you are struggling to create a place for them in your life, then stop and look at the ways you can clear up the mental clutter and energetic conditioning from the past to open space for them in your heart.  Simple meditation practices can help calm the mind, giving your greater peace, focus and self-awareness.  Tantric Energy Clearing practices can be learned from a Tantric teacher or practitioner.   Through a combination of healing sessions and self-healing at home, you can use these techniques to clear the inner landscape of your Heart and Awareness, and create space for Joy and Love to arise.

                The next time an “obstacle” arises in your life, stop and ask yourself “How did this experience get created?  Is there some practical way I could have prevented it?  Can I correct the situation to prevent it from happening again?”  And then take the practical steps to clean up “the mess” whether that means cleaning out the laundry room to make room for the vacuum, or seeking assistance to energetically clear our your mind and heart so you can re-harmonize your life.

Mantra Terminology and How to Get the Most from Your Practice (Video)

Topics include: Learn additional reasons for and aspects of the practice of Mantra as part of the Tantric Tradition. Why Om or AUM is considered to be the “master” mantra and when and why other mantras may be used.  Learn terms that relate to the practice such as Japa, Omkar, and Pranava.  How to use Mantra Beads, or the Mala,  to assist your practice. Creating positive spiritual merit or Karma for your Spiritual Path. Ways to refine and get the most from your practice. 

This is Part 7 of 8 in the Mantra Meditation Series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E9VrAoVzXA




Latest CDs from Jeff Craft

Beginning Meditations: Expanding Peace by Jeff Craft

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Living with Awareness: Tantric Meditations for Expanded Conscious Living by Jeff Craft

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Expanding Consciousness (A Tantric Meditation to Awaken the Bliss of the Self) by Jeff Craft

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