Maya and the Five Kanchukas….

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In the cosmology of Kashmir Shaivism, God (Shiva) manifests the world out of Himself in a series of 36 principles, or tattvas. The first five tattvas are called pure; it is not until the sixth tattva that forgetfulness of our true nature becomes apparent. The sixth tattva is Maya tattva. Maya conceals God’s true identity. The word “maya” comes from …

The Self Is Not the Point, Part One….

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In the Yoga Sūtras, ignorance means taking the non-Self to be the Self. Once we have done that, we lose our Subject in object. From there, we are attracted to certain things and repulsed by others based on the object we are now identified with. And finally, we cling to the life of that object, believing it to be who …

Maya and the Five Kanchukas….

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Nondualism can be a dangerous practice because it can encourage people not to take responsibility for their actions. But then when we turn to a dualistic sense purusha (individual self) and prakriti (matter), we separate ourselves from prakriti and see matter either as an enemy or as some horrible lesson to be learned. Prakriti then has nothing to do with …

Beyond Doctrine….

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When I was studying dance, we always talked about being technically proficient. We all spoke about getting technically flawless, magnificently proficient, in order to let go of technique and finally dance. That was an actual verbalization every single day in the studio: become so technically proficient that you can go beyond technique. We knew that if we wanted to actually …

Journey of the Practitioner….

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What is a practitioner? In many cases, academics, theologians, and intellectuals believe their expertise is the highest level—they assume they rank above practitioners. In truth, mystics are the practitioners of spirituality. According to Evelyn Underhill, what idealists and theorists can only speak of, practitioners live: In Idealism we have perhaps the most sublime theory of Being which has ever been …

Liberation….

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Liberation is utterly different from what most people imagine it to be. Baba always made clear that liberation is not for the individual. He always stressed that the individual cannot be liberated, and that the only way to liberation is to give up our attachment to and wrong identification with any separate identity. I specifically went to Baba because that …

The General on the Hill….

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Some commentators on the Yoga Sutras speak of the Witness as a General on a hill overlooking the troops. From this metaphor many people come to understand the Witness as distant and unengaged; a being who watches but is completely uninvolved. The troops are left to their own devices and therefore to fate, wandering the field without the guidance of …

Our Birthright Is the Witness….

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Baba always had me witness, watch. I, however, always wanted to be part of the action. And the truth is I was; my acting took the form of witnessing. As a child I always preferred to participate, as in camp where I always wanted to be the camper, never the counselor who stood around and watched. As a dancer I …

Shakti and Wisdom….

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Everybody loves energy. It is everywhere, and manifests in countless ways. Without energy, there is no life. In my tradition, the term for energy is shakti; the shakti is God’s power of manifestation. Spiritual energy is latent, asleep, in each of us. And the term for that spiritual energy is kundalinī-shakti. In order to return home to who we really …

From the Many to the One….

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A few years ago in a coffee shop at Cambridge, UK, I had a discussion on the nature of Reality with an Anglican priest. He had earned his doctorate from Oxford and appeared open to thinking outside Christianity. However, he believed that the individual always remains separate from God. For him, union with God was not an option; believing in …