Our amazing Sanctuary Blogger Mr David Braunstein has been pondering the topic of Ahimsa (the theme two weeks ago in Mysan’s classes at The Sanctuary) and last weeks theme of ‘lighten up and stop being so serious’ and has written a juicy blog that I am sure gives all of us insights and light blob moments!
Thank you David for sharing so personally your insights – we love it!
Ahimsa: my words will go with you wherever you are…
A man wanted to know about mind, not in nature, but like Pure Mind (Consciousness) so he asked a computer. Do you ever think you’ll be human?
The super computer takes a nanosecond to perform more operations than have ever been performed in a human brain in a life time. And then the machine comes back with its answer, “THAT REMINDS ME OF A STORY” – with apologies to Gregory Bateson
At the beginning of Patanjali’ sutras, he plants the seeds of the eight-fold path of yoga. Yoga begins with the preconditions of the Yamas and the Niyamas: the moral and ethical guidelines for practitioners. These guidelines are emphatic, positive descriptions of how to behave and relate to our community and our world when living a life immersed in the practice of yoga. Life affirming antidotes to the mainstream values, the Yamas are still today highly relevant and valuable lessons; guides to lead a happy, conscious, and honest life and to reach a pure state of being in the world.
- Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence, which includes physical, mental, and emotional violence towards others and the self
- Satya (truthfulness) urges us to live and speak our truth at all times
- Asteya (non-stealing) is best defined as not taking what is not freely given.
- Brahmacharya (continence) states that when we have control over our physical impulses of excess, we attain knowledge, vigor, and increased energy.
- Aparigraha (non-coveting) urges us to let go of everything that we do not need, possessing only as much as necessary.
Patanjali considered the Yamas the great, mighty and universal vows. He instructs us that they should be practiced on all levels (actions, words, and thoughts) and that are not confined to class, place, time or concept of duty
Mysan tells us about Ahimsa then asks “how can you bring ahimsa into your yin yoga practice?”
I’m in dragon pose and feeling all fierce and strong, but now I notice the effort, the pushing, the striving, the struggle of it.
“The dragon, having brought down a goat, rips into his prey and with a full belly grasps the carcass in his talons and soars skyward with the unconsumed remains. Dragons are of course prone to hording its in their nature. The dragon had a very rational explaination for carrying his burden. But as he rises above the trees, ravens appear from many directions, flying at the dragon they dive and strike. They call him names and taunt him with discordant cries. The dragon flew with difficulty because of his heavy full stomach and the goat carcass he was carrying. The ravens are making his flight a torment but he stubbornly clings to his prize, full of pride and committed to enjoying another meal from his catch and adding the picked clean goat skeleton to the collection that littered his cave. Yet still the ravens distract niggle and annoy him until at last before reaching his cave on the mountainside he drops his prize and the ravens follow it down to ground below leaving him alone. Suddenly free of the burden, letting go of greed he soars above the clouds, into brilliant sunshine.”
I think about where in my life I am not bringing the practice of ahimsa to my actions.
Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence, which includes physical, mental, and emotional violence towards others and at least for me right now – myself.
We create violence most often in our experience by our reactions to events and other people, habitually creating judgment, criticism, anger or irritation.
While I have found the Buddhist practice of compassion to be an excellent tool to foster non-violence in my life, for me, a lifetime of judgments has evolved into making distinctions ( i.e. judgments masked under the disguise of ‘a higher perspective’ ) . Compassion is the ability to accept events as they are with an open and loving heart just allowing the experience to be, letting go of any reaction to a situation or person. Time and again, I catch myself in this practice in a conditional or negative way, and struggling to replace those judgmental thoughts or feelings with kindness, acceptance and love. Practicing compassion is hard, frustrating and sometimes not fun. I often find I have to find compassion for myself for not having compassion, and smile at this contradiction.
Satya (truthfulness) urges us to live and speak our truth at all times. Walking the path of truth is a hard one too, especially while respecting Patanjali’s first Yama, Ahimsa.
If I’m pissed off by someone’s behaviour toward me – I struggle with the contradiction there.
Since Ahimsa must be practiced first, we must be careful to not speak a truth if we know it will cause harm to another. Living in your truth not only creates respect, honour and integrity but I have to ask myself why do I feel so cranky pants right now?
The vision to clearly see the higher truths of the yogic path requires that we know and forgive our own shadow and projections. To know the darkness within us and to own it – that means that we need first to identify them and discover from whence they come.
If we are wounded, it is because we’ve experienced violence and we carry that violence with us and it finds expression in our shadow and our projections. Today’s world is our collective shadow theatre. Confronting the violence abroad in our world: what we do to each other, what we do to other creatures, what we do to the natural world, our mother who gives rise to us all, tracing the violence that has been done to us, all of us, is harrowing. Tracing the violence we do to ourselves as a consequence is often even more so.
My personal history is full of shadows and ghosts. But once I begin to reflect on my past our collective history begins to unravel.
Sixty years ago a cohort of children were born to war weary parents horrified by the holocaust and the development of nuclear weapons that for some time seemed to threaten to extinguish life on the entire planet during the cold war. Our parents had themselves had parents who experienced the most bitter economic depression their world was not only wracked by the first world war which claimed 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded but also a worldwide flu epidemic that took an estimated 40 million lives.
My Mum was an Irish Catholic girl from the working class suburbs of Melbourne who spent six months as a three year old herself in an infectious diseases hospital and didn’t see her parents during that time. My father, a young dispossessed Jew from the Egyptian resort of Alexandria, had a particularly difficult time assimilating into Australian culture in the 1950s. My childhood and the values I learned from them were as conflicted as my parents’ brief and stormy marriage. I have no memory of them ever being in the same room together, they both carried their rancour for the rest of their lives and knowing my mum I would have witnessed some explosive conversations.
My first recollection of school was Sister Michael, a Josephine nun who maintained order in her classroom of 5 years olds (I was only four) by rapping them over the knuckles with a steel ruler. Like the Christian Brother’s who took over my education a couple of years later, major disciplinary issues were resolved with a leather strap. The willingness to solve differences with our fists and the innate sense of rebellion that would shape my young adulthood, was already apparent in my class mates and myself by the time we were aged twelve. Around this time a young class mate hung himself and our room teacher disappeared and I recently learned he continued to teach and sexually abuse young boys for another fifteen years. Around this time I announced my plan to be a Buddhist. Very few people in my life including classmates or family knew or cared what the fuck I was talking about. At the time we were all being introduced to a vibrant new culture emerging. Soon young Baby Boomer minds were being fuelled by optimism, hallucinogens, affluence and eastern mysticism. The Beatles and the cultural heroes of my generation invited their brothers and sisters through there intimate detailing of their own rebellion to imagine a world of peace and love and understanding between all people
My religious conversion however was impervious to the leather strap, and although I was overruled, my obsession with religious relativity began. I went on to win the school’s religion prize the year I matriculated. I think this was in recognition of the fact that I was probably the only boy in the class of 200 who was interested enough in religious instruction to listen.
Rejecting the headmaster’s somewhat illogical arguments to consider a religious vocation, forty five years ago I took up a scholarship to study English Literature, Psychology Maths and Physics at Melbourne University. (I haven’t stopped studying since).
The brothers may have belted many valuable lessons into to me, but they had not taught me how to deal with a milieu as bewilderingly different as our higher education system was in the 1970s. I got arrested twice for attending street protests that turned nasty before the first term break, that first year.
At the time conscripts were being sent to fight in Vietnam. This meant that the Australian government were taking eighteen year old boys, giving them three months basic military training, sticking a gun in their hands and sending them to fight a seasoned well trained guerrilla army in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, while the good ol’ USA napalmed the f… out of it.
Of course when I grew up, most of the games boys played were simulations of war. When you grew out of that stage, you’d better play football, because if you didn’t you were suspect. Others would suspect you might be a poof; the way that they would test their hypothesis was to beat the crap out of you. Having the crap beaten out of you on the footy field was a preferable option, but that kind of meant that you’d better run fast because otherwise they’d beat the crap out of you, just because – maybe you are a poof after all.
I kind of had all of this sussed out. I played footy, I ran fast but of course I still didn’t know if I was a poof or not. How did you know? They (the Christian brothers) hadn’t taught me that, but back then the last guy I knew who might have been gay hung himself. What the brothers did manage to teach me was guilt. Christian Brothers did a really good job on us. Those guys were experts on how to do it; they’ve been perfecting the art for a long, long time now.
Ever since Moses lost his lolly and chucked the tablets of the Ten Commandments down on his people for worshipping the golden calf (and probably long before) priests have had a tendency to turn the guidelines for ethical behaviour into a spiritual pissing competition. They’ve been shepherding their flock and fleecing us, using us and abusing us: Innocent boys and girls for thousands of years.
More than anything else, it is this and the frequent hypocrisy of the priestly class that has come to light out of shadow in the last 40 years that has tended to give god a bad name.
Firstly, let’s get something out of the way -the elephant in the room – GOD. ( Or gods)
There is a sort of consensus agreement among all the great religious and spiritual traditions that developed around 2,500 years ago, about the fundamental aspects of god or ‘archetypal psychic force’ if you’d like some psychoanalytic jargon or perhaps the ultimate divine nature (UDM) if you prefer to call it something that doesn’t carry as much conceptual baggage as the word ‘god’.
God (UDM)is the one self subsisting, independently arising reality, knowing itself and therefore loving itself and rejoicing in its knowing. And you, my dear reader are not an independently arising entity, as you may well believe. You are in fact not an entity at all, though you so often and in so many different ways think and behave as if you were. You are in fact a process. You are a pulsation of a fragment of a fractal of the whole process of God (or UDM) knowing itself.
Our experience of being God (UDM) is like something we have lost in our current social, cultural or world context. And we yearn for it. We yearn to return to the knowing and loving and rejoicing. And so off we go, searching for it. Searching in other people’s lives, the legends the myths and the stories about others who have sought the reconnect, that sense of being that. “Tat tvam asi” in the Sanskrit
I most heartily recommend you don’t stop looking! But really it is time to stop looking for God (UDM) there; because looking externally to experience yourself is a repetition of the same error as thinking that you are an entity.
Once you look internally to experience yourself then that connection, the awareness of the infinite touching and recognising its finite self is activated, There are a variety of means of doing that – yoga, transpersonal psycho-analysis or therapy, meditation, holotropic breathwork, tantra, alchemy, astrology, ritual magic or working with plant teachers, Tibetan Buddhism or any combination of these. When we observe the processes of nature, or appearances of the divine or encounter and acknowledge the archetypal stories that unconsciously shape our lives – (you could think about it as the stories living us or mythic consciousness) that is the force or spirit of the divinity touching and moving the finite aspects of itself.
There are three stages we can discern in our approach to this divine reunion and these stages are pretty much the same in every religious or non-religious way back home;
Let’s start at the first stage and see where we end up here, but please be advised that this travel guide is uniquely mine. In so far as, I’m seeing it from a different perspective – mine. You can have your own path, your own perspective. And your own path, much of which I will never know, is just as much God knowing itself as my path allows me some degree of self knowing.
Each journey home is distinct from every other journey, that’s how we do the knowing. Can you love that? Can you know your love and rejoice in that? Yes? Different path – Same destination. How good is the creation we have made?
As we journey together here, you might be forgiven for thinking that for somebody claiming to have THE answer, I seem to have some attachment to my ego, my story. However just remember little pulsations, lots and lots of little pulsations. That’s how we can be distinct but not entities. As well as being UDM or God, your experience right now is just a wave form, a pulsation of a fragment of a fractal of the whole process of God or UDM knowing itself. See, I knew I could get quantum theory into this if I really needed to, so that one day I could truthfully say in the blurb on the back of the paperback book,” integrates Quantum Physics and all religious and spiritual traditions to final resolve the age old question does God exist and so what?
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170215-the-strange-link-between-the-human-mind-and-quantum-physicsAlso, if you stop for a moment and question my story from the perspective of why bother reflecting on what happened in the past, if we(UDM) are independently arising, if we already know everything, then why would we need to pause to reflect on a story about a collection of miniscule pulsation of fragments of a fractal of the whole process?
Because that’s how we do it!
By learning to make judgements! to discriminate! That’s how we create space-time. That how the infinite ultimate reality creates the universe in which we are participants We differentiate fragments of a fractal of the whole process and each of those differentiated fragments contain a measure of consciousness and to varying degrees each reflects on and is thus influenced by potential larger parts of the whole. The more of it your consciousness can encompass, the more potential for knowing love and for rejoicing. It’s a rather compelling experience, we call itlife. How much of it can you contain? How much of it can you encompass in your consciousness? How can you learn to encompass more? By encountering other and accepting others, in relationship, in the world.
That’s the first stage – learning how to encompass more ‘other’ in your consciousness.
Ironically, one of the first things you’re going to have to learn when you do that, is to still and quiet your human monkey mind if you are to encompass more of the eternal Mind. Thank you Mysan.
Meditation and yoga are ways to learn this. Meditation constitutes the core of our approach to life because it’s from this practice we are best able to experience and learn from the other practices. However, in order to practice yoga or to mediate, it serves to have an ethical framework of behaviour. Makes the engagement of healing and learning process easier and deeper.
Our Gods are real and they have evolved with us.
Having commenced as primal forces embedded in the natural world, the gods’ psychic energy has been carried and has evolved with human culture. These forces now inhabit and shape us, our relations with each other and our relationship with our world. They are inherent in our cultural institutions from the state, the church and our religious observance to media celebrities. These internalised gods are reflected in all our cultural forms including the technology inherent in a child catching Pokemon on his smart phone which represents thousands of years of evolution of technology and cultural symbols. The intentions of all the generations of humans who have contributed to this cultural evolutio ride energetically and spiritually through the material objects that now represent portals through and to our world. A world of dreams that we have made real over thousands of years of accumulated imagination, vision and creation.
Archetypes from the Gods of Olympus like Zeus, Hermes and Hera to Yahweh and Jesus, Mary and Satan to Superman and Batman to Sherlock, Moriarty, Deadpool and Dr Strange, Darth Vader,Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. These are post modern mythic characters.
The fragmentation, fracturing and rapid shifting of meanings in contemporary archetypes don’t make them any less powerful in shaping how we create personal meaning in our own world.
The story of global warming is every bit as dramatic and historically defining of us as human beings as the flood was to generations of people.
The conflict between Isalm and Christianity is every bit as defining as the crusades to Europe in the middle ages or the Trojan wars, and yes I know it’s all about the oil but that’s not the story of the postmodern priestly class in their old forest timber empanelled boardrooms high above the CBD in every city in the world.
Remember The elephant in the room here, people.
Europeans, we took on the world – and won! We were Christians with our god, the one true God and we were bred to fight!
Colonisation, slavery on an international scale and the spoils were ours and in recent years we’ve rigged the system so we get to continue to rape pillage and plunder the earth and other nations from our comfortable air-conditioned offices.
The post modern priestly class, who worship at the same God that pissed Moses off in the first place the golden calf, Mammon, Wall Street all the same.
Islam didn’t have a chance, we Christians kicked the crap out of them – several times in fact. Of course there were casualties.
Oddly the story starts with Rome, one of the most militaristic imperial powers in history.
Aurelius was a Roman emperor who worked the way up through the ranks of the Roman Army. In order to bolster the morale of the Roman army, Aurelius decided to create a religion He’d recently read some history of Egypt and had learnt how successful Akenathen was when he winnowed the pantheon down to just the one God, Ra, the solar disc. This idea also appealed to Moses who encountered it when he was in Egypt. It was his hope to raise an army and lead his chosen people, the Jews, and set up his own operation and become a pharaoh.
And of course those guys, the Jews, you know what they did to our guy. Crucified him. Of course the roman military governor at the time just washed his hand of the whole thing.
So anyhow, Aurelius created this religion called Sol Invictus. He had the best priests you could buy at the time and they came up with a very good operation and it was so successful we’re still living in it today and it has pretty much convinced everybody else for the last nearly couple of thousands of years that you had better live in it or else one way or another, we will kill you. Sometimes we’ll do that so slowly, so that while we’re killing you, you don’t even know it and sometimes you will find out we’re killing you but we’re still gonna kill you anyway.
One of the things about Aurelius’ army was when they killed you they genuinely believed they were doing you a favour. Because if ya didn’t believe in Sol Invictus you were going straight to hell. (Do not pass go do not collect $200). You were f….d. So you work out that you better get with the program. When they killed you, you’d realise how good, how strong, how almighty and powerful their god was and you’d be converted
Later in Rome, an emperor would find Christianity and Sol Invictus would become a very vibrant hybrid. Mostly because of the connection between the Solar disc and this Jesus Guy, the son of God who rose again. That story had gone down well on numerous other occasions and the priestly class knew it.
And so it became what it is. Some of this story finds expression in Paul’s whole Road to Damascus thing.
Hey Western world You hypocrites!
First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.Matthew 7:5
Western commentators are quick to point out the flaws of Islam but for most of our history we’ve shared (at least most we know of it) very common ideas about how the operation should run. We may be from different cultures but we’re all people of the book.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
That progress, success and superiority thing. That starts where? … In India when the Aryans kicked the shit out of every one, because, well, who knows why ? Those guys invented agriculture and cities and they were savagely fierce, and cruel, warriors who made their merry way across the middle east and into Europe.
In India when the Aryans first got the whole western civilization operation going, there was a bunch of mostly young men who said . “Fuck this shit that I’m heading to the hills and they became yogis and great spiritual teachers.”
These archetypes, they have roots deep, deep in our past and there is a very deep culture embodying these psychic forces.
The pain and the suffering of this civilising force on society brings us as people here today. Our shared history is what our family our parents and grandparents and their ancestors have been through in order to become what we choose to be today.However we have to see beyond our culture, past the archetypal forces we have created and unleashed into the world. What those guys (the yogis) encountered over countless thousands of years, their experience of how to conect to our inherent divinity they have taught what they learnt up in those hills while everybody else wass doing agriculture and civilization and progress and conquest.
Then a long time ago one of the yogis, a guy called Patanjhi; said we better write this stuff down ’cause it makes really good sense. And so eventually I got back to the Yamas and Niyamas.
Back in the Sanctuary I’m going …..Wheeeeee…. I am a dragon flying high.
I’m a dragon and if I just let go of this rotting old carcass, this cultural history, I can soar across the clouds..
Watch me fly….
“And now you can do the other side” says a familiar voice and I remember I’m in rebound in Mysan’s yin class and she says,
“Come on why don’t you just lighten up a little bit here – this can be fun”!
What do you do with your darkness?
How do you carry it?
Let it go!
Suddenly I get the image of Heath Ledger playing the Joker in Batman.
Why so serious?
In this movie, it’s not about good versus evil. It’s about two deeply troubled and tormented men who carry their darkness in very, very different ways: Batman, the vigilante who fights for truth and justice and the Joker who just has fun blowing up hospitals.
Telling that story did something very powerful to Heath Ledger, he hung himself.
Human sacrifice is still happening, people – that story plays incredibly well – Hunger Games any-one?.
The people who live out their life in the shadow theatre of contemporary culture are sacrificial lambs. Keeping up with the Kardashians anyone?
Incidentally, I’d say Kanye is a marked man. The times are right for a sacrifice , maybe to placate the evil weather gods – that Illuminati tie -in story, that is a really potent force, right there.
“How good does that make you feel?” Says Mysan.
Yeah, I think and I let it go. The other side went so much quicker I felt so much lighter and I flew like a dragon, far less encumbered by all that stuff. Just letting it go…
Oh my god, I love my Yin practice. That’s a story that plays really nice for me right now. It’s the one story which encourages me a to be dragon amongst human kind and if that makes me a reptilian like all the new age websites tell us about, then that’s ok too, because I’ve got the Yimas and that works pretty well for me thanks very much. I practice Ahmisa.
I also listen to music. When John Lennon said in an interview in the 60s about the Beatles “we’re more popular that Jesus “, thousands of fundamentalist Christians took to the streets in the US. They came out to protest and burned their Beatles records. John lived to regret those words. He died destined to fulfill the requirements of the archetypal forces that his music unleashed, those forces would shape his life. (Celebrity is the devil’s bargain, Kanye.) And every time we listen to John’s songs we participate in the sacrament he left us.
Ironic isn’t it, Heath Ledger and John Lennon are two contemporary Sacrificial Lambs who both carried the God archetype in their own unique way.
Milton Erikson wrote, that what most of us don’t realise is just how much of our life is unconsciously determined. His practice as a therapist was to tell stories that changed people by the positive values he seeded in their unconscious by their encounter with the story. In those stories he would often say “and my words will go with you wherever you are.”
This planting of positive life celebrating messages in our brains when we’re being otherwise entranced is an ancient art.
Mysan laughs as all the students in the room groan and moan and make their way into rebound.