Monday, 25 April 2016

Contemplations from the 14th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.


The Guru is the means/the way/the path.

In this sutra Shiva is saying, in an unequivocally firm but caressingly gentle way, if you want to have success on the path to spiritual liberation/self-realisation/enlightenment; if you truly seek to free yourself from all mental limitations and constrictions; if you wish to embody your blissful, authentic, unbound Self; knowing and experiencing your truth beyond separation, narrowness and ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’… then in no uncertain terms you will HAVE to follow the Guru. This, says Shiva the true Teacher, is non-negotiable. It’s as intrinsic an aspect of spiritual growth as sunlight is of a flower’s blooming. Herein the questions arise: Who or what is the Guru, and if we are supposed to follow this Guru along the path, where do we find said Guru in the first instance so that we might begin to follow it along the way?

So simply put, the Guru is the guide. The Guru is our means of navigating a way through the often dense and confusing jungle of life experience, toward an open space of clarity and truth wherein our deepest, highest Selves dwell in tranquil dignity. This guide or means of navigation, Shiva says, is within us all; an internal, innate reference and orientation system cast from eternal, infinite and immutable truth, and happily situated smack bang in the middle of our chests in that chamber of pulsating stillness we call the heart-space.

What we’re being told by Mahadev is that all our truest, deepest wishes and the foundation to the meaning of life itself are eminently realisable, if we only follow an illuminated guide along a specific path to glory. And what’s more is that guide, that heavenly Sherpa with the unerring fidelity and laser like verity, is located right here within us! Just 12 inches, that’s 1 imperial foot, south of the noodle, right in the centre of downtown Heartsville, in our very own thumping core!!

 But in order for us to ‘meet’ the Guru at the outset, to find it and tune into it you might say, we first have to be prepared to hear its unobtrusive guidance and subtle urgings. The Guru won’t shout to get your attention or compete with a noisy mind to pry your focus away from the conditioned mental habits which are largely the human lot. No, the Guru will simply sit patiently, serenely and non-judgementally, just emitting wisdom and truth regardless of whether it is received or not. No hullaballoo, just wisdom and truth, honest and clear. For this reason it’s often the case that we only become aware, or in need of our inner Guru when circumstances in life exceed a critical threshold, past which we begin to doubt the way our minds have been running the show, and we seek a deeper alignment than perhaps has been available in surface level, psychological ‘normality’. At this point (sometimes a crisis or loss is a precipitating factor) the established forms appear unsteady and unreliable, so we are forced to dig down into our fundament for a more profound and natural truth. It’s in this dig for freedom that we begin the great escape (cue the music!) it’s now we find the Guru, sitting silently in full lotus underneath the floorboards with shovels, picks and candles galore, wearing an ‘I’ve been expecting you smile’ and a glint in their eye. The Guru has a plan, maps, know-how and an indomitable certainty that it knows the way. And so gradually we begin a relationship with this indwelling Sage… the most important relationship we can ever have.

So the Guru is within. The Guru is the truth teller – our higher Self, a knowing force inside us. It’s clear – it can see – it’s not in confusion about stuff.

Yet as mentioned we do have another force inside ourselves. The conditioned mind. It’s a louder voice which is reluctant or down right obstinate in its refusal to open its ears to the truth teller. And so we have this game at play inside us. A game which sees the noisy, stubborn, pseudo authoritarian voice who claims to know better and best, desperately trying to drown out the steady, consistent, assured tones of the Guru’s voice which bellows not. The Guru’s voice gently issues forth with effortless credence and veritable wisdom at a subtle volume which remains constant; needing not to be heard, proven or even believed. This voice is chiselled from robust, enduring veracity and it’s unshakably secure in this.

So this dramatic tension exists in us all as the game plays out, the mental know-it-all trying to out-manoeuvre the intuitive solid Guru. And this is ok! This isn’t a problem, indeed it’s a true blessing that we’re able to identify and heed the subtler truth teller at all under the din. So the recognition of this latent underused faculty is the dawning of the higher intelligence in us; non-psychological and totally divine, sweet subtle Satya (truth) and valuable virtuous Viveka (discernment). Truly gifts of indescribable beauty and incomprehensible worth. Thus after some time and some success at tuning into the inner guidance system of the Guru, and finding that life unfolds like a wild orchid under the Guru’s stewardship, rather than the intermittent shower of broken bricks and sawdust which was life under the dubious guidance of mixed-up mind, our connection to Guru intelligence grows with our courage and trust in it. More and more we start to live boldly in openness and receptivity, and less with a sense of isolation, fragmentation and ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’. As we progress without selfishness, fear or need, gradually the path unfolds ahead of us and we move toward the reality of oneness; so grateful for the day we met the Guru, the flow of wisdom, truth and love.


The Guru is the means.

Find the Guru.

Trust the Guru.

Follow the Guru.

~  by Elliot Donnelly.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Contemplations from the 13th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.


Let your mind become the mantra…retrain your mind to liberate itself from its self- imposed contraction.

YOGA SANCTUARY DISCLAIMER:  This Sutra is for universal consumption, by all earnest aspirants. No experience of mantra is required. We repeat, no previous experience of working with mantra is necessary for the application of this Sutra or for enjoying any and all benefits which may ensue… smiley

So mantra means a device which liberates the mind from its own contraction. Mantra sets the mind free, allowing it to open from its self-imposed tightness and expand accordingly. It’s often a syllabic combination or stream of words ( OM NAMAH SHIVAYA, OM GAM GANAPATAYI NAMAHA or I AM, for example ) that is designed to open and liberate your mind.

Why though is Shiva saying, ‘Let your mind become the mantra’ ??

In the early days of travelling the path to spiritual liberation; and, to a lesser extent, later on during the journey, we encounter the restlessness of our minds. This restlessness, this ceaseless churning and chewing, seemingly random and inescapable, is, we discover early on, simply the nature of ‘Mind’; pretty universal, just the purpose of the apparatus so to speak. Problem solving, pattern spotting, analysis, judgement, vigilance, protection and projection. The list of functions it autonomously performs, chewing and churning, roiling and restless, just goes on and on and on... This is not a problem per se, it’s simply what the mind has been conditioned to do. And it’s gonna do it whether we want it to stop or not. Although in the long run, some way down the path, it is possible to slow and sedate the mind’s thought making process, at first and for some considerable time in the earlier stages of treading the path, the mind’s momentum is essentially unstoppable. And trying to still such a juggernaut can cause more problems than it solves. If, for instance, there is a thought form which is repetitive and irritating, wreaking havoc in your psyche, have you ever tried to stop it in its tracks? What we discover is that the very attempt to resist and subdue the psychic irritant has quite the opposite effect; that of energising the thought current and amplifying it further still!! Moreover, by getting hooked into this pattern with the mental tormentor in this way, our energetic frequency inevitably drops and we then become subject to all kinds of thoughts that we would simply not have, or at least be less affected by if our energy was higher ( see Sutra #1 CHAITANYAMATMA ). And so a vicious downward spiral of energy leakage and inner turmoil ensues… not pretty and not clever! So what to do!?

Well Shiva, the true teacher, has this to say on the matter smiley, look, we can’t stop the mind just yet and it needs something to be going on with, it needs to be occupied one way or another. That’s just the nature of the beast, accept it and let’s start from there. Once we accept the inexorable fact of the mind’s insatiable need for thought production, we can look a little closer and notice that not only is it a relentless thought manufacturer, but that ostensibly all the mind’s febrile machinations share a central theme. This theme is a ‘me-centred’ superbias which never strays far from ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘mine’ and very occasionally certain other things, but only in as much as how those certain other things affect or are connected to ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘mine’. So, says Mahadev, the nature of mind with its tireless, me-centric momentum and its refusal to be deterred from its raison d’etre ( i.e. thought production ) has to be worked with not fought against. It needs to be finessed not forced. And the prescription given by Lord Shiva for such a tricky task? MANTRA!  Mantra as alternative. Mantra as distraction. Mantra as awakener. Mantra as illuminant.

 Shiva’s point here is to give the mind something to chew on so it can leap off this me-centric merry-go-round and then expand into the celestial realms beyond the cramped and limited ego. Only then can it open out into something bigger than thinking about yours truly over and over and over ad nauseum. So with this purpose in mind, an alternative thought is given in the shape of a mantra. This can serve as a distraction from the repetitive irritant or at least as an awakener to the fact that we are caught in the mind rut. Or else as an illuminant to show up just how and to what extent our mind has become occupied by this incessant brain-bug.

Whichever way the mantra works within these approaches, it’s a good thing as it has created some space between us and the thought pattern, some vital space which wasn’t there before… this ushers in the beginning of self-discovery and then, in time, self-mastery. No longer are we the impotent captives of the mind, instead we have a versatile tool for liberation and expansion; this tool is portable, rust-resistant and guaranteed for life…this tool is mantra!

It’s truly a wonderful gift that such an empowering and liberating method of mind moderation is ours to use in a variety of ways, but perhaps its most effective use is to bring us out of the headspace and then to drop us down a foot into the heartspace ( see Sutra #9  HRIDAYE CHITTASANGHATTAD DRISYASVARPADARSHANAM ). It can be any orthodox mantra ( e.g. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA etc. ) or even just a thought form such as ‘How’s my breath?’ or ‘ where am I located right now, head or heart?’ really anything to jog us out of the mind rut and into that higher awareness of our deeper truth and the connection we have to God, Life, The Universe, call it what you will.

Shiva’s declaring that not only will the mantra effect immediate liberation from the bondage of repetitive, often unwholesome thought-streams but that over a sustained period of practice ( those loyal buddies patience and perseverance weighing in again smiley ) we can actually use the mind’s relentless and dogged nature to our advantage. We do this by transferring its emphasis from the monotonous, often negative repetition of me-centric malarkey, onto an inspiring, affirmative mantra for our upliftment and energetic economy. He’s saying introduce this device for liberation of the mind and it can be awesome First Aid for overworked brains, but that equally it can also be like a course of antibiotics to help disinfect the chronic conditions of the psyche which are bleeding energy like an open window in winter.

So ‘Let your mind become the mantra, retrain it to liberate itself from its own constriction’. This way expansion, peace and joy, with space for the higher intelligence to enjoy dominion and expression can then manifest.

“LET YOUR MIND BECOME THE MANTRA”  ……and repeat x108   :-)

~ by Elliot Donnelly (Yoga Sanctuary Student).

Monday, 11 April 2016

Contemplations from the 12th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.


Be established in your own true nature, and the bliss you find there will be a gift to the world.

Here Shiva tells us that only one who is truly grounded in the peace and happiness of their truest, highest self (the Self or God Consciousness), can hope to bring peace and happiness out into the world.  So the degree to which we are established and connected to this blissful nature is in direct proportion to the level of happiness we are able to emit to the world outside ourselves. He's telling us, as Mahatma Gandhi later echoed, to "Be the change we wish to see in the world" and take responsibility for our own energetic output as a microcosmic reflection of all existence. At the same time Shiva reminds us that we can't give what we don't have; so if we wish to be a beacon of love and consciousness for all beings to benefit from, then first we must find an abundant source of such joy, tranquility and wisdom, which we can in turn, emanate and share.

 The great news is that we need look no further than inside ourselves for this plentiful supply; find the treasure in our chests and establish ourselves in our hearts, then BINGO!! We can be all singing all dancing bliss transmitters, sending out rays of higher consciousness automatically to all those within a certain radius. We'll be adding to the net total of love and consciousness on the planet just by knowing where to reside inside and then setting up camp there... in the heart, the pristine source of this universal bounty. 

 Happily this divine emanation is infectious and will impact on all those in our presence, as our brightly burning lamps naturally pass light and warmth to those other lamps in our vicinity.
 By cultivating and enhancing this connection to our true nature, we are tapping into the perpetual, causeless happiness which lives in us all, but can lie dormant in many. So our emission of love and truth via the heart then becomes a clarion call, inviting the world's joy to stir and become effervescent! There is no higher or better function a being can perform.

 As towering illuminants, humble and serene, we become a balm for the misery that is the fruitless search for happiness outside of ourselves... this epidemic affliction, a part of the human condition, is widespread but through establishment in the heart we become exemplary pioneers and spiritual guides. 

 We can be the teaching and we can be the change by energetically transmitting the higher knowledge that everything external will eventually crumble; so to seek happiness there is folly and vanity. From the deep seat of our hearts our wordless teachings will be that the only source of perpetual unalloyed happiness is inside... our true nature.

 So Shiva urges us to take care of business at an individual, cellular level, to keep reentering ourselves and gradually become more established there. This constitutes a lifetime's (or many lifetime's) work so the perfect pairing of patience and perseverance are required for this peerless and noble work. If we wish for  a world of love, truth, joy, peace and wisdom then we must heed the words of Mahadev and become established in our own true nature; making a blessed gift to the world.

~ by Elliot Donnelly (Yoga Sanctuary Student)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Contemplations from the 11th lesson on the Shiva Sutras

Sutra 10:    Svapadam Shaktihi

We already have everything we need, inbuilt within ourselves, to deal with whatever our lives might bring.

Everything we are seeking is already here. We are not lacking anything and there is nothing missing from us. We are abundantly endowed with everything we need to fulfill our lives. We need only look to our Self.

If you are in any doubt of this, play the following little game……

When someone dear to you appears after a long absence and you experience a surge of joy, where are you experiencing that joy? - in the other person or within yourself?

When someone speaks some inspiring words and you feel a surge of new strength to face a challenging situation in your life, where do you experience that new strength?

When someone shares some wisdom with you, and a light bulb goes on for you, in whom does that light bulb turn on, in the other or in you?

When you feel love where do you feel it? Can you locate the source, the actual physical location from which love emerges?

Yes, we are all pointing to the same place!

So, in all these situations the outer object was simply a trigger for the inner experience, but the experience itself emerged from within YOU!

It’s natural to thank and appreciate the triggers and the catalysts, in fact our lives are full of them as if part of a great design, but these will only be useful to us in the long term to the degree that we can recognise the place within ourselves that has been triggered.

The experience you are having, good or bad, is never IN an object outside of you, it is always within you.

So, Shiva says, ‘all the power lies within you!’. Everything you need is already contained within you. Your life is created from within your Self.

If you can find the source of love and bliss within yourself, the place from which it rises when triggered, would it then not be wise to rest at the source and drink from the well, Direct!  Why sit around waiting like a beggar for something outside to trigger what is already inside.

Svapadam Shaktihi – You will find your power by resting in your Self!