Thursday, 19 May 2016

Contemplations from the 18th lesson on the Shiva sutras.


Victory be to the bold aspirant who treads the noble path to non-attachment. May they know the rewards of Joy, Ease and Wisdom.

 In this week’s Sutra, Shiva is mining the same rich seam as last week for more precious, truthful ore; and that abundant seam is the fabled spiritual hazard known to Yogis far and wide as attachment. Here Shiva revisits the topic in order to underscore just how critical it is for the aspirant to have a firm grasp on the subject (pun fully intended). He’s driving home the fundamental importance of this most central of themes, so none of us is under any illusions as to its place as THE chief obstacle on the long and winding road to spiritual freedom, and its higher role as Master Instructor and Liberator in Disguise (see Sutra 16 MOHAVARANATSIDDHIH).

Having shown us previously how to take a different perspective on the sticky problem of attachment, by urging us to see where we’re blessed to know its clingy ways, Shiva now wants to enthuse us further still with even more scintillating news.

This Sutra is asking us to ponder the scene of an epic Victory Parade…  the warm air full of sweet scents, bright streamers and tickertape; cheering crowds and booming brass bands clamouring and climbing through the octaves in a euphoric atmosphere to beat all previous celebrations into a cocked hat. Imagine, says Mahadev, this jubilant cavalcade, this exuberant carnival of triumph, full regalia, pomp and circumstance, all the whistles and bells! And then, marching humbly but with great dignity through the middle, a simple column of men and women. They are a procession of progression, a troop of bold yogis who through their ardent wish to grow, have become worthy of Shiva’s highest honour and His deepest respect. Picture this honorific showpiece, says The True Teacher, for it is how I will revere and love those noble ones who have dared to tread the path of non-attachment, she or he who has loved and honoured me through their surrender and faith, daring to relinquish their grip on the flow of life and to merge their will with mine own (see Sutra 8 ICCHASHAKTIR UMA KUMARI) in trust and devotion, standing open and vulnerable before all vicissitudes and declaring...”Yes, I wish to grow, to pulse one with life just as it comes!”. It is these brave ones who have tasted victory over clinging, whom I hold dear and venerable, and I shall bestow 3 shining medals upon each of their chests.

These 3 medals are, of course, figurative as is Shiva’s victory Parade, but the essence of the Sutra is contained in the metaphor. For she/he who is victorious in their wranglings with attachment will surely receive 3 glittering prizes, 3 unequivocal benefits which will manifest internally like blissful sunrises of the Heart.

Firstly, says Mahadev, the Yogi who has success in detachment will experience Joy, the simple, unfettered happiness which bubbles up from the Soul each time they let go their grip and remain engaged but non-clinging. Each little victory of this sort will elicit a reciprocal pulse of Joy within, a medal from the Universe if you will, and this, says Lord Shiva, is guaranteed, etched in stone you might say.

The second benefit or Victory Medal which Shiva is keen to pin on the Spiritual Warrior who has earned his/her Shiva stripes in the tangled trenches of attachment and emerged triumphant, is Naturalness. He’s saying, clinging is not natural, it may be habitual and deeply ingrained as a conditioned response, but it is far from being our true nature. Consequently when victory over attachment is secured by the aspirant, a return to naturalness is the reward. This return to legitimacy and a pristine state within is accompanied by a sense of deep ease and peace which emanates throughout the victor’s inner space like a cooling breeze on a hot, summer’s day. Naturalness and ease, promises Shiva, will be the spoils of a worthy battle.
The last of the 3 medals of honour to adorn the strident Yogi who has successfully striven to vanquish the grasping foe through the veils of attachment, is Wisdom. So, says The True Teacher, the aspirant who prevails over attachment begins to access a new level of wisdom, a knowingness only available because of the space created by the non-clinging. She/he opens themselves to a deeper, truer range of possibility, precisely because he/she is not so identified with or limited by that from which she/he has won liberation. This broader scope of experience inevitably engenders a higher wisdom as the victorious Yogi becomes an open receiver for the knowing of the Universe Itself. This third medal, Wisdom, will develop a keener lustre over time with repeated victory and it completes the honorific set along with Shiva’s Love.



Victory be to the bold aspirant who treads the noble path to non-attachment. May they know the rewards of Joy, Ease and Wisdom.

Hail Hail  the noble one,
Triumphant now the battle’s done.

In victory her heart is singing,
She held her nerve and bested clinging.

Attachment tried to tie her down,
To steal away her shining  crown.

Although she had to struggle long,
Her truth and valour held her strong.

She stayed the course and won the day,
So Shiva offers this as pay,

3 medals glinting In the light,
Reward for knowing when to fight.

~ by Elliot Donnelly.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Contemplations from the 17th lesson on the Shiva Sutras. 


The perfection of the aspirant is discovered through a veil of attachment. 

This week’s Sutra has an intriguing ring to it, and its aroma is redolent with an air of almost mischievous paradox. So what is Shiva, in full dancing, prancing and chancing mode, tantalising our noodles (minds) with this time? 

Surely attachment is a no-no… a spiritual cul de sac strewn with the wreckage of many a fragile human heart? Don’t all the teachings in all the wisdom traditions tell us so?! Surely attachment deserves its reputation as the very bondage of the soul, the DIY prison cell that incarcerates us all, the direct cause of ALL our suffering and the staunch limitation on every aspect of our lives… the ruthless killer of all joy, no less!!?? Yes this is true. Attachment can and does cause our lives to shut down and darken quicker than a branch of Blockbuster Video; so what is The True Teacher as The Cosmic Dancer leading us on a light fandango toward here? How can our perfection come through such a clearly contrary concept? 

This seemingly playful and contradictory Sutra is saying, listen seekers, attachment ain’t so bad. Really it’s not! The root cause of all our worldly suffering is in fact a blessing incognito, an essential stepping stone and stage post en route to perfection as a liberated being. Shiva’s saying, with a provocatively arched eyebrow and an enigmatic half-smile playing on his lips, attachment is a necessity, it’s a means to the enlightened state; think wobbles on the road to balance in Tree Pose and you’ve got the general idea. He’s asserting that, for the simple reason that pain instructs like nothing else, attachment should be viewed as a hyper-effective learning resource with the power to make super-clean detachment ninjas of us all. Precisely because it clogs and stings, blackens and fractures, scuttles and sinks our vital vessels like an egoic Exocet; attachment shows us precisely what not to do. It thus reveals the efficacy and outright majesty of focussing on its tricky, less sticky counter-posture… detachment. Through this process of attaching, suffering, learning and rehabilitating, the aspirant is led lovingly through the steps of the Cosmic Dance by Shiva to eventual maturity, self-reliance and ultimately perfection of the Soul. 

The veils of attachment, or curtains of clinging; these dastardly drapes of desperate, dire dependency, are hung says Mahadev, all along the path to perfection. It is by passing through them with tenacity, consciousness and courage that the aspirant gradually reveals her/his latent perfection and finds liberation in so doing. 

By discovering how toxic the effects of clinging and grasping are to the psychology and physiology, we incrementally build a certain awareness of when we’re attaching or even just about to attach. Here we become more astute at winding our sensory tentacles back in quickly and efficiently. This way, in time, we can pass through these veils of attachment like hot Durga swords through butter. At this point our ‘Cling Time’ becomes less and less as we process the inner mechanism to attach with increasing skill and discernment, learning to ‘drop’ external objects like a ‘Hot Potato’ before our hands get burned. 

Shiva has bright, heart-warming news as a footnote to this Sutra, and it too is laced with delicious paradox. As the bold, noble Yogi proceeds along the road less travelled toward Self-realisation, swatting veils of attachment and all manner of other ethereal, membranous obstacles to one side, with the Staff of Shiva held firm in hand, she/he develops in a dichotomous two step Tandava, a 
divine dance in which the Yogi simultaneously opens increasing his/her capacity for attachment, but equally grows more and more established in the Self and dextrous in the art of loving liberated detachment. Such rigorous, razor’s edge journeying is not for the faint of heart, nor for one who is content with mediocrity, stagnation and torpor. But it is the exhilarating seat of the pants, heart in the mouth choice of the Yogi who seeks to serve the greater energy and make their life a grateful, dignified offering and a truthful, meaningful experience. 



The perfection of the aspirant is discovered through a veil of attachment. 

Pass through these veils, although they sting, 
They teach us wisely not to cling. 
We need to feel attachment first, 
Before we can it’s bubble burst. 
Then once we’ve made this bold correction, 
We march on swift to our perfection.

~ by Elliot Donnelly.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Contemplations from the 16th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.


Where knowledge of our True Self is forgotten; at that very point, dreaming begins.

What is The True Teacher all about with this Sutra? Shiva is saying that we should become alert to the fact that when we forget our True nature, from there we will start to daydream. He urges us to realise that at the point when we lose connection with our Truth, there arises a necessity to start creating a false alternative; a fantasy or daydream to occupy the ever voracious imagination. Shiva says that when we understand this we should break the spell and WAKE UP!

 We must understand this process and take back the energy being lost in these vapid, impotent, mental meanderings. Stop daydreaming along the way through life and snap back to reality, to what is, here and now. Lazy daydreaming has become habitual, but it’s empty and it’s a waste of our precious time and energy. Be wakeful, Shiva entreats us wisely, be awake you’re missing it! We’re missing life as we saunter about in a dream state like some existential somnambulist, just living a half-life instead of being fully present and engaged in this remarkable, wondrous experience which is unfolding all around us (see Sutra 7 VISMAYO YOGABUMIHI).

Mahadev’s caveat is that this awakening and staying awake is effortful though, it does require some degree of wilful exertion on our part, and so we are likely to encounter some internal resistance at first because we’re so used to the easy entertainment of wishful thinking or aimless planning or hollow stocktaking or whatever form the dream may take. If we can learn to break the habit by continually pulling ourselves back from the dream state as soon as we know we’ve dozed off, then our ‘wake up muscles’ get stronger, our ‘immediate action on snoozing drills’ get slicker and sharper and, by necessity therefore, our connection to Self becomes firmer and more durable as a consequence. When we’re better and more regularly established in our true nature, then inevitably life flows with more Zing and our actions within it carry more Oomph, being as they are, rooted in reality not some uninspired fantasy which has been regurgitated and reheated for the umpteenth time.
Shiva says, make the effort to learn where and when the dream begins and then keep snapping back, because when we can take these further steps to Self-Mastery then our speed and surety along the path to illumined living will increase in harmonious accordance.

Where knowledge of our True Self is forgotten; at that very point, dreaming begins…
Know this and break the somnolent cycle of reverie…
Do that and Liberation shall be yours.

~ By Elliot Donnelly

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Contemplations from the 15th lesson on the Shiva Sutras.


Let your body be an oblation to the fire of God Consciousness – Be an offering to life rather than a demand on Life.

This week’s pearl of wisdom for our inner engineering sees Shiva invite us to try on a new and splendid item of transformative regalia just to see how it fits us. This time the one true teacher, Lord Shiva, is pointing to a nuanced change in the approach to life, of the aspirant on the path. He’s indicating a shift which, while maybe only slight at its source, can have far reaching and astronomical ramifications as it plays out energetically and exponentially into the Universe at large.

In this Sutra, Shiva is asking us to consider the qualitative and tangible differences, felt from an internal point of view, when each thought, word and deed is made an offering to Life rather than being a demand on Life. He’s suggesting that we turn inwards once more, and this time experiment with how it actually feels in our own body when (through our mental activity, speech and actions) we give it up as an oblation or devotional offering to Life, compared with how it affects us internally when we clutch, force, expect, assume, gripe, need and just generally make egoic demands on the stuff and the flow of life.

 He’s saying; observe how, to demand, inevitably results in some degree of limitation, an inner contraction of our energy, a narrowing of the scope of our experience if you will. If we monitor the internal feedback when we’re in a demanding state, we’ll clearly feel the weight of expectation and its attendant fear of disappointment. Or else we may have our demands met but immediately start to feel the tension around the risk of losing that which we demanded, or the constant onset of change and the ultimate dissolution of the status quo to which we’re clinging. In any case we can sense the extra energetic exertion needed to abide in this demanding state, and the unavoidability of its endgame which will always be framed in one of the DIS’s… DIS-appointment, DIS-illusionment, DIS-enfranchisement, DIS-turbance... DIS-ease.  

Mahadev says, take a check on the origins of this weakened, needy state of demand, and all roads lead back to the overarching fear of lack. They lead back to this commonplace, scarcity mind-set, this sense that somehow we’re not enough and that our completion or fulfilment, in fact, depend on some fabled Golden Fleece outside ourselves. To some external source which can solve all our problems, ease our ills, pay the mortgage, give a great foot massage and most importantly never ever ever leave us… or change, grow old, break, rust, lose a leg, blow a fuse, or be generally affected by the inexorable, infinite, eternal and ineffable flow of the entire Universe and Life itself!! WAKE UP!! Shiva implores us. Wake up and be free!!

Feel for yourself how lack never gives up; it’s Mick n Keith’s inspiration for the song ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’, because even in the meeting of its ceaseless demands, lack just opens its insatiable maw once again and cries out at the DIS- satisfaction of having its needs met. Obesity, Affluenza, work/sex/substance addiction; these are just some of the offspring of this hotbed of need and gluttony, a self-perpetuating, bottomless pit which can only lead us eventually to teetering on the brink of an existential vacuum.

So, says Shiva, notice how, by contrast, we feel when we open our hands and offer, we open our hearts and yield, when we open our eyes and our minds and thoroughly experience Life without expectations, a world without preferences; letting everything flow freely, richly and truly. No limits, no lack, no fear, no demands.

Try this on for size and see how it is interwoven with the simple sagacity of all the proceeding Sutras, how it is underpinned by the very understanding at the basis of our consciousness. But most important of all, see how it makes us feel. Empowered or weakened? Liberated or trapped? Limited or boundless? Then when we have the answers writ large across our nervous systems as sensory feedback, our job is to choose which state we wish to embody, offering or demand?

Shiva’s advice is crystal clear…………..


Let your body be an oblation to the fire of God Consciousness – Be an offering to life rather than a demand on Life.

~ by Elliot Donnelly.