No, I do not have trikala jnana

red rohit

The yogic tradition has been swamped by supernatural expectations, and teachers are not firm enough about this foolishness. The sorry state of spiritual teaching in India today was illumined yet one more time in an interaction I had with a young friend. It was very revealing, and disconcerting too.

This young man from Kerala found my videos on Youtube and got in touch with me. He was bursting with enthusiasm and unrealistic ideas about the spiritual path. And a million questions. I would answer what I could and had advised him to begin a serious course of pranayama and meditation. A few days ago I discovered from his Facebook page that he had taken an Art of Living Course from the main man himself. When I mentioned that I was glad he had done so the young boy had a most incredible reaction. He thought I had found out by using the fabled Yogic power of Trikala Jnana – the insight of the 3 aspects of time, past present and future! I was stunned at the sheer magnitude of misconception. Of course I set him right instantly and called him an idiot and a silly boy to boot, which I could have avoided perhaps.

This preference for the supernatural explanation in all things over the simple and obvious is one of the major plagues in Indian spirituality. Trikala Jnana is rather like a unicorn farting rainbows, an eccentric mix of credulity and childishness that unfortunately has too much purchase in the popular mind. If at all any Yogis possess it, they are sure to be surly old men in the Himalayas avoiding human company. Let me add I am a hard core Yogi and I know siddhis are real. I myself possess Samyama to a certain degree, the ability to focus attention upon a subject or issue or person and know what needs knowing. It is a huge drain on Shakti, and physically wipes you out, so I don’t play that game at all. If it activates spontaneously, as opposed to willfully and by desire, the impact is lessened but I don’t go there if I have any say in the matter. And sometimes, when I sit in meditation, fragrance comes off the body – my students report this-which is just about the most pathetic and useless siddhi one can imagine. They get excited, I get irritated, for it does not help to move one step on the path of evolutionary spirituality and Integral Yoga. Sri Aurobindo had recommended learning whatever you could about siddhis to their fullest extent and then recognizing their irrelevance in ultimate terms. That is the right attitude, but way too many teachers encourage credulity in seekers.

If you are a spiritual teacher then people don’t want you to teach, they want miracles. This is the sad and obnoxious truth in too many contexts. I look the part, expectations as to how a teacher ought to be, shaven head, rudrakshas, articulate and knowledgeable; ergo, miraculous powers also reside within. Nothing clarified the sheer danger and temptation I am likely to run into as much as this incident. Here was an opportunity to achieve PD, psychological dominance, over an uncritical young man functioning from the foibles of his culture. He is from Kerala, fully literate state, English educated, not at all lacking in brains, but the social consensus about yogis and miracles was too much for him to shake off. Were I unscrupulous, trawling for gullible disciples and donations, this was child’s play made easy.

Teachers do not come down hard enough on this. They do not stress that evolving oneself is the greatest miracle possible. We have all experienced the other game, grooming the unwary and impressing them with supposedly miraculous abilities of the Guru. The disciples chat you up, discover interesting nuggets, searching for insecurities and weaknesses, convey it to the chief who then puts on a worried and compassionate expression, asking some variant of this. “ Is there somebody from Jhumritalaiya who has recently experienced losses or deaths? All will be well.” This is beyond contempt, but it is a shell game that endures because it is so simple and works so well. My point is that serious teachers do not push for the use of Buddhi, intellect and wisdom, as much as they could or even should. Hyper-enthusiastic students will always perceive miracles and marvels, but at least the teacher should not encourage this in any form whatsoever.

Spiritual evolution is a serious and vital business and should not be cluttered up by medieval rubbish about supernatural abilities.

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week. The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

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Shiva Shakti in the head

Shiva shakti

The two hemispheres of the brain are in Yogic terms, controlled by the energy constructs we call Shiva and Shakti. This image demonstrates in visual expression what had been hitherto part of the oral tradition. It is a stunning image, and replete with Kundalini yoga symbolism. Since it has come into the public domain I will explain some of this ancient vidya or process. Not all of it. Some rahasayas, spiritual secrets have to be discovered through Shrama – toil! Those are the rules so I make no apologies for reticence. What is safe to reveal I will.

The left hemisphere controls the rational logical thinking aspect of the personality as well as more or less the right side of the body. It is mental and deductive, planning and hypothesizing. These are supposed to be masculine vibrations, in the sense of Yang, not gender roles. The right side of the brain is intuition and creativity, instinct, feeling, the sense of joy and wonder and the right side of the human frame. These are the feminine vibrations in the sense of Yin. So the traditional Yogic take on which impulse is dominant on a particular side of the brain was well grounded.

In symbolic terms this image is a dense and rich harvest of yogic communication. I do not know the artist to give credit where it is due but I suspect it is Harish Johari. The style and depth of knowledge seems to favor that conclusion. In astrological terms, the Sun controls the right eye, the Moon the left. Shiva is the Sun who is Shiva, “Akshayam param shivam” which can be read in both ways simultaneously. The sun like Shiva is the guru, the source of life which is literally as well as metaphorically true. The Moon has famously been the lord of emotion and hence Devi controls it and the left eye. Shiva wears the moon on his head – Chandrashekara – to symbolize his complete integration of emotions as well as to stress that his responses come from awareness, not instinct. Devi’s head naturally pulses with the Sun. Her power of impulse and instinct is not unaware; it is suffused with the shakti of evolving consciousness, it flows from the Source.

The left nostril connects to the Ida nadi or lunar channel for the Kundalini Shakti to flow. It is cooling, calming, intuitive and creative, traditionally known as feminine. Hence it is depicted as cool waves or water, which is pretty accurate as a sensation of breathing in thru that nostril once you are deep into kundalini or pranayama.  The right nostril connects to the Pingala nadi or solar channel and is fiery, energetic action oriented and masculine. The breaths flow like fire, generating heat and energy for action. As is clear from the imagery and all the teaching of the tradition, neither aspect can subsist independently or without active support from the other vibration. They are not separate, they cannot be separated either. Life is troubled when such futile attempts are made to privilege one side or the other.

The erect serpent at the center of the brows is the fully active Ajneya chakra. It is also one of the points where the Ida and Pingala cross each other forming a grand marma or spiritual junction of power. It is the highest point at which you can keep the kundalini energy in waking consciousness and also carry out your work physically. It also confers a lot of power and occult ability as well as wisdom. If the Kundalini rises higher then you go into deeper Samadhi, At this juncture waking and physical action consciousness, including talking and writing, cannot be maintained together. The inverted triangle at the forehead is the spiritual Yoni, the Matrix of creation of generation, distinct from the lower yoni that is controlled by the svadhishtan chakra and is the Eros impulse. When your kundalini rises to this point you can send a surge of energy into the world and what you wish is manifested. It is a process requiring great responsibility and it is fortunate it is beyond most people! Even to keep the energy at ajenya is fearsomely difficult. Even higher than that the kundalini rises to experience the blue pearl, Sun and Moon conjunct, about which I will hold my peace. It is important  – that is all I will say.

aztec ardha

Shiva is indeed the Purusha, Man Primal also known as aware consciousness while Devi is Prakriti, Woman as the Activating Force, the dynamic principle of the Universe, the unfolding action of life that takes place across the backdrop of Witness Consciousness that is Shiva. To be Integral which is the point of Yoga is to have both aspects function optimally, in harmony and as required rather than in simpleminded alternation or even lopsided dominance of any one side at a time. To live life privileging one side is to make an immense blunder.  The Ardhanarishwara, the Masculine- Feminine, Shiva and Shakti merged, united, Integral has always been the ultimate goal and aspiration of the Human Endeavor in the culture.     

Sarvam Shivamayam!

 Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week.

Sri Aurobindo – the Brahmarishi of Evolutionary Spirituality

aurobindo by Jane

Sri Aurobindo was the most prolific writer-guru (68 published volumes of densely brilliant erudition) that India ever produced – until Rajneesh. And yet, curiously he said and wrote what he had to communicate in just six and a half years  – between August 1914 and January 1921 – and then never wrote a word and almost never spoke for the rest of his very long life. This sort of contradiction was characteristic of the bizarre spiritual drama that was Aurobindo’s life.

To begin with, nobody was less likely to end up as a guru, far less the first Indian guru with a great western following. When he was born in 1872, his England educated physician father had totally swallowed the Raj notion that India was a degenerate nation while Britain was the pinnacle of human glory.

The good doctor then attempted a project that curdles the blood even today to think about. He decided he was going to deracinate his son – he would make his son English to the point of caricature. He began with the name, and it was seven year old Ackroyd Ghose who was sent off England for schooling. The lad had been kept in a weird bubble of induced Englishness, his only language being English and with no notion that he was living in India amongst Indians. He sailed with specific instructions from the doting parent that he was not to make the acquaintance of any Indian or undergo any Indian influence”. He further added, in what would become on of life’s celebrated ironies, that ‘his son learns nothing about any religion whatsoever.’

Dr. Ghose was obviously ignorant of history, for the last time this experiment was tried in India, Prince Siddhartha ended up by becoming the Buddha! In the minds of his followers that is what became of Ackroyd too, the heat and pressure exerted merely becoming a cosmic process to provide the glittering diamond that is Aurobindo.

For a while it seemed that the doctor’s project was succeeding. Ackroyd ended up one of the 20th century’s most overeducated young men. He was the supernova of Forsters’ King’s College at Cambridge pocketing any academic prize he condescended to contest for. He relaxed by composing poetry – in English, Latin and Ancient Greek. Dante and Goethe and Cervantes were read in their original languages as well as any French writer worth the name. This formidable erudition once saved him from arrest as a dangerous revolutionary later in life in India. The old-school tie investigating officer was flabbergasted that this man was reading Homer and Virgil in the original – and to his mind such people could not be conspiring against British rule.

Young Ackroyd went in for the Indian Civil Service exam, then the height of Indian aspiration. However he refused to show up for the mandatory horse-riding test, the customary perch from where the sahibs administered India. It caused unprecedented consternation, and in later years, was seen for what it was – the first rejection of the West by an Indian who was still alien to his people.

The experimental parent died of shock on hearing the mistaken news that his son’s returning ship had sunk. Ackroyd landed in India and, free of parental shackles, set about acquiring Indian ness with the same superb efficiency he displayed in England. Bengali – his mother’s tongue, though never his mother tongue – was first and then Marathi, Hindi, Gujarathi (the languages of courts he served in as royal secretaries) followed. Sanskrit gave him the key to all of India’s religious, cultural and spiritual treasures – and it forever changed his ideas too. He got a job at the court of Baroda which was not onerous; it gave him ample time for spiritual practices. Through in all ways he began to practice up to five hours of pranayama a day! This had significant effects in activating many artistic aspects of his personality, which till then was limited to literature. He began to develop the first of many siddhis also but he was clear that the breaths alone would not suffice in his spiritual goals.

At this stage he met a Maharashtrian Brahmin  named Lele who he recognized had access to a deeper level of consciousness though he was certainly less intelligent and knowledgeable than the student. The instruction was breathtakingly simple. “ As you sit in meditation you will see thoughts trying to enter your mind. Prevent them from doing so and cast them out.” Aurobindo had a deep capacity to obey, which was what made him such a gigantic leader, and he followed what he thought were quixotic instructions without wavering. Within three days he was in deep Samadhi and his attainments were becoming magnificent. He experienced deep Vedantic non-dual states which aroused anxiety in the devotional Lele who felt they were diabolical states of consciousness. Aurobindo refused to degrade his Truth in such a manner and they had a falling out. He was never satisfied with the classical realizations of Yoga and pushed the bounds of Yoga in a manner that had not been done for two millennia. He ended up rejuvenating and raising Yoga, consciously evolving it to meet the new circumstances of the Yuga. This will be unpleasant music to most schools and teachers , but Aurobindo went so far ahead on the yogic path that most of the universe is still playing catch up. But this was still in the future. He had a long row to hoe as yet.

Far from being on the bottom of the heap, India was the only hope for a world gone mad, precisely because India was not like the rest of the world. The British philosopher, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson would later write in his book On the Civilizations of the East that “The real antithesis is not between East and West, but between India and the rest of the world”. Ackroyd would accept that conclusion, but to him that was a mark of distinction, of honour. Meanwhile, the young Ackroyd had rechristened himself Aurobindo and began a political career that was characteristically brilliant and short-lived like all his other efforts.

Bande Mataram, Jugantar, his newspapers became colossal headaches for the Raj as his editorials were subversive to the point of genius, but sedition could never be proved. Incidentally these editorials served as a sort of blueprint for India’s freedom struggle. Social unity, the cause of the motherland, eradication of untouchability and discrimination against women, non-cooperation, the boycott of foreign goods, national schools to instill national values in education, democratic principles of government – they are all to be found there. His book ‘On Nationalism’, a collection of editorials also foreshadows the belief that social action without spiritual underpinnings is futile – an idea Gandhi used to great effect. Gandhi even offered Aurobindo the leadership of the Congress party and country if he forsook seclusion, but Aurobindo refused to meet Gandhi in a sensational snub that still embarrasses those who know and try to hush it up. Aurobindo’s mass popularity was such any time he so chose, he could have all India follow him in a freedom struggle. However he was on to bigger game.

India’s freedom was assured, or so his spiritual intuition told him. That thus became a side issue, albeit important. What of the freedom of all human souls? And was he, Aurobindo, going to turn away from this challenge for the easier task of freeing India?

The road to this staggering conclusion was paved by the British. Exasperated by this hornet, they shut him up in Alipur jail for a year to await trial. Aurobindo, always the demon of action, plunged wholesale into his Yoga practices and honing up on Indian scripture. In jail he ascended spiritual planes at a rapid clip – and was soon stuck. He had no data, no guides as to how to go forward. He stated that the spirit of  Swami Vivekananda came forward to help him, as there was nobody living who could guide him at his level of attainment. Aurobindo was refreshingly free of the display-humility so prized in India. He knew he was India’s genius, and that was that. (He did however highly esteem Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and never spoke disparagingly of anybody unless provoked) The Alipur jail experience confirmed him in his new vocation, as well as in his new opinion that he had made a grave error in fighting the West with its own tools, its own concepts and its own rules of engagement. In this new philosophy of evolutionary consciousness, even evolutionary Enlightenment that he named Integral Yoga, he discerned that India had a catalytic role to perform. From now on he would fight at a plane India was naturally preeminent – the spiritual.

He moved to the French territory of Pondicherry, like Plato unwilling to let the British sin a second time against philosophy. This was where the torrent of books was let loose, commentaries on every scripture possible, as well as the longest epic poem (and spiritual evolutionary handbook) in English, Savitri. He would begin comparing Valmiki and Vyasa – authors of the two great Indian epics, demonstrate some of the finest literary criticism possible and abruptly break off the project because it was all clear in his mind now and he did not need to put it in words. Incidentally Aurobindo broke the record of P.G. Wodehouse who had the largest writer’s vocabulary in the English language. The previous champion was Shakespeare. He also articulated what i consider to be the greatest sentence in the English language. “All life is Yoga.”
’nuff said.

419930_196670147131304_210116128_n Aurobindo was what was called an automatic writer in his day and what is called a channel today. He was in the grip of a higher force that relentlessly drove him on for up to 10 hours each day, and requiring no revisions at the end. He was demonstrating what it meant to be a seer once again, he saw rather than thought these things. Of his writings the only real way to comprehend their range and original brilliance is to go the texts themselves. They are masterful expositions of the life spiritual and the quality of English is dazzling in a euphemism loving, Net-contracted Esperanto world we live in. While in Pondicherry, he picked up the 4 major languages of South India – and the consequent access to the respective cultures, but this was all par for the course by then. In his writings he was seeking to synthesize all the spiritual ways before him; to be exact to find a ‘third position” synthesis between the thesis -antithesis of India-West.

The philosophy was primarily a Vedantic one, with generous dollops of Yogic practices and the byways of the Tantra, and hanging from a fundamental evolutionary theory which held that man as he now exists is but an ongoing process towards the attainment of the Superman with Super consciousness. He named this ‘Integral Yoga’.

This was dynamite even from an Indian perspective. For one, he openly proclaimed that India had erred in divorcing matter from spirit, and the body got good press for the first time in almost a thousand years. Then he formulated the concept of a supreme Personal-Impersonal God, above and beyond the non-sensory realization of the Absolute or Brahman. This Super God, if you will, was the Purushottamma and he brought in his erudition and the Bhagavad-Gita to validate this Purushottamma. His Essays on the Gita provide further light on this topic as well as his commentaries on the Upanishads.

Then he sprang a further surprise by providing the most brilliant and consistent explanation as to why the Vedas are the supreme scriptures of Hinduism, even if nobody reads them! Rejecting all notions of the Vedas being nature-worshipping hymns by migrating hordes, he laid out The Secret of the Veda in the book of the same name. For the first time in 2000 years an accomplished and practicing mystic was revealing the inner working of a complex spiritual path. Naturally nobody believed him. The shift of ideas required would be too disconcerting and anyway, Western scholars said they were nature hymns, and that, as we all know, should be conclusive. It seems a bit thick that a practicing Spiritual Master is told he is wrong about his own verifiable experiences with his own scripture while academics and scholars know better, but the world is not a very sane place to begin with. Taken all together, Aurobindo’s writings are nothing short of a revolution in India’s philosophy.

404107_10151171868262239_833656121_n But Aurobindo tired of this because he had a new idea to follow. In part he was now free to follow this, because he had a partner to shoulder the burden of spiritual needs for the inevitable community that had sprung round them. This person was Mirra Richard, better known as the Mother, and it is inconceivable today to realize what havoc Aurobindo caused in India when he declared this Frenchwoman a Master and his equal partner in spiritual work. For Indians have always assumed, and most them still do assume, that a Western human can only be a disciple. Mastership is India’s monopoly, the key as to why the land is ‘superior’ to the West, even if miserable in almost everything else. And now a white person was being set up above all the innately spiritual Indians. A few of them never recovered from this depressing comedown and mutterings against the Mother and her Western ways was a constant.

Aurobindo felt free now to take on an ‘experiment’ that was either galactic effrontery or unthinkable bravery. He proposed, as a realized being, to consciously bring about the next transition, or the next stage in human evolution. To direct evolution consciously, even Aurobindo was aware that nobody had ever dared such a thing before. Nevertheless that was his goal now and he pursued it with no distractions and almost no other thought from November 24, 1926 to his death in 1950. He lived in his rooms, rarely visible to the public, speaking almost as little. Fasts for almost a month, sleep deprivation, endless pacing and reportedly endless writings – though these seem to have merged back into the cosmos once they cleared up whatever points he was exploring.

His disciples say that he made possible the descent of the Super consciousness. What is beyond doubt is that he created a new template, a new pathway in the morph genetic fields of spirituality because even today there are spiritual masters in both the West as well as India who say their only work is bringing light-energy to the world. Aurobindo’s ashram also began new trends in conservative India. This little talk I gave in April 2013, on the anniversary of his reaching Pondicherry touches a few interesting points about his myriad contributions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nr0ZJ1VjZ4

Women could join, then families and finally schools which imparted the best education. This template too is copied faithfully. The Mother would go on to create Auroville – an attempt to create Utopia based on practical considerations.

 Meanwhile Aurobindo, was being visited by Aldous Huxley and the South American poet Gabriela Mistral nominated him for a Nobel Prize. That last would have been a curious triumph for Ackroyd but it never came to pass.

Aurobindo himself died in 1950. He is revered as a Big Brain, and enough pedestals have been put up to honor him and ensure that reverence circumvents the need to examine his revolutionary thought. Aurobindo, for all that he even wrote the ‘The Foundations of Indian Culture’, is too universal for Indian tastes, too intellectual and active for a bhakti-passive nation. As always he seemed to be ahead of his time. Perhaps another couple of hundred years and some more descent of Consciousness will do the trick.

 

    samadhi of sri aurobindo and mother


I wrote this in 1999! A few additions have been made. The sketch of Aurobindo is by my friend Jane Adams, artist on The Sacred India Tarot. It has been used all over the Net without attribution! This is the joint samadhi of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

 Sarvam Shivamayam!

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week.

 

The Sacred India Tarot{and its creator} gets some praise

dev kohli and sifu

After the 2 day foundational course in The Sacred India Tarot which I conducted at The Integral Space on August 10 and 11, 2013 this gratifying feedback….

 Taking the Sacred India Tarot with Sifu Rohit Arya is like taking a plunge into the vast culture that came before its conception.  Charismatic, sharp and funny, Sifu Rohit has a magical way of telling the stories behind the artwork and the symbolism of the cards themselves. A most concise introduction to a labor of love, Sifu Rohit painstakingly researched, analyzed and created the unfathomable Sacred India Tarot. Who better to teach it’s course? An unparalleled teacher, Sifu Rohit bridges the traditions and practice of the western tarot and integrates the mystical Indian traditions. A sense of history and spirituality is perfectly balanced in his teachings. This beautiful deck and enlightening course is like no other. The discussions on vast Karmic lessons, correct usage and the respect for wisdom which Sifu Rohit imbues to his students, is what one expects from a master practioner. The cards come to life under his guidance. The misconceptions and secrets of the tarot practice combined with the understanding of the Sacred India Tarot inspire a student to use the tarot as a tool for personal growth. A sense of empowerment is a big gift from learning under Sifu Rohit. Being a person who has attended several tarot workshops, The Sacred India Tarot course is a treat to experience with Sifu Rohit’s tutelage of tarot as a discipline. Here lie the secrets that most conventional tarot courses will not divulge. So, one leaves the master with a sense of power in the cards as well as faith in the future.”   Divianshu Kohli Bij, 25 years  from USA, studying to become a therapist.  

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week.

 

Kita Brahmari Nyaya the Law of Caterpillar and Butterfly in Yoga

Kita brahmari nyaya epitome

 Yoga has unique observations on the psychological process of change and about the mind and its power. “We become what we focus attention/emotion on” This is the Law of Caterpillar and Butterfly, or the Kita {the slug} Brahmari{the insect} Nyaya{ the law}. Buckminister Fuller  once mused that “ ‘There is nothing in a caterpillar which tells us that it will become a butterfly.” According to the Yogic tradition the caterpillar whilst in the cocoon meditates so intensely upon the form -the rupa- of the butterfly that it transforms from an ugly slimy crawling thing to an actualization  of beauty that takes flight! As a metaphor for the spiritual process and its goals this is just about perfect.

Yet Yoga insists this is not a symbolic statement but a literal truth. By intense focus upon a desired locus, human or divine, we are transmuted into the thing itself or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof! This is the theory behind Bhakti Yoga. Constant contemplation of, and mediation upon, the form or rupa of the deva or guru changes you forever. First you imbibe the qualities, then they infuse you till your very physical appearance alters, to say nothing of your personality and abilities. In India at least it is very common to meet disciples who have spent years with the guru coming to resemble him to an astonishing degree.

frawley 1

The great yogi and teacher David Frawley for instance looks just like Ganapati Muni who was an associate of Ramana Mahrishi!

Considering one is American and the other was a South Indian Brahmin and many years and no actual contact separate them, one concludes that there is something to this theory.

 7-manu-indiatarot

Paramahamsa Yogananda once said that he meditated upon the cocoon a couple of days before it was due to burst and he found there is a stage when the cocoon is suffused with light, everything becoming practically liquid light, before it congeals into the shape and form of the butterfly. The mystical artist Alex Grey seems to hold similar views from the evidence of this painting.

kita brahmari nyaya alex grey style

Light of course is the Prima Materia of Yoga, the foundation of life and its evolving cause.

The Daosit Master Chuang Tsu once had a dream that he was a butterfly flitting about. He ruminated on a consequent dilemma in front of his students ” Am I Chuang Tsu dreaming he is a butterfly or am I a butterfly dreaming he is Chuang Tsu?” The power of the Brahmari to provoke spiritual processes is ancient therefore.

Modern science has given us this scan.

Chrysalis_1

I leave it to individual judgments whether it confirms or refutes this theory.

In terms of spiritual growth and even simple change for the better, it is an intriguing path. Intense contemplation married to emotional intensity brings about the desired results. It sounds like all the manifestation systems out there and perhaps with good reason.

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Addendum on August 13th, 2013

The blog got a massively popular response but the best one was on Facebook from Spiritual Teacher Shivo Osho. I include his exchange with me here

Shivo Osho Rohit, I went through your blog and I faced the same dilemma which I have always pondered. I would request you to respond to my questions. You have mentioned “By intense focus upon a desired locus, human or divine, we are transmuted into the thing itself or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof! This is the theory behind Bhakti Yoga. Constant contemplation of, and mediation upon, the form or rupa of the deva or guru changes you forever. First you imbibe the qualities, then they infuse you till your very physical appearance alters, to say nothing of your personality and abilities”. Well, I must say what you had said is true. However, I cant understand this as the peak truth or peak realization. For me, the key question is “How do you know what to focus upon? What you want to become, does it come from your spirit longing or from your ego desire to become like someone? Can you really find out what your spirit longs for, till ego is still the driving force? Isnt it of utmost importance to first understand what your true nature is, before trying to become someone?” Also, about Bhakti Yoga, I have heard that disciple becomes like guru and I have also seen many examples of that in my own life. But again I fail to understand this. For me the key questions are, “Isnt it more important to be devoted to life / divine rather than to your guru? Isnt is more important to discover your unique existence rather than become what your guru is? Doesnt life want you to discover who you are and not try to become the photo copy of your guru? What will make life celebrate, you becoming like your guru or you discovering your own unique place in the cosmic scheme of things?”

Rohit Arya I totally agree with you! I was merely reporting the traditional perspective.It has not been said in the blog that this is the peak truth, merely this is how it works. I add here that the best gurus have disciples who are authentic originals. The next level have shisyas with great similarities while the least attractive are the clone factories. The longing to be like someone perhaps comes from the perception that they are more evolved than you? The idea seems to be that some improvement is better than none. Many schools will say that the guru is the full experience of Life so becoming like him is actually the peak. I do not think so but that’s whats they hold. They will consider your perspective to be droha – impertinence and sin! I am of your views on this with the small point that this was one of the ways yoga enabled people to manifest change in desirable manners. It works but is not complete in itself. All skills are needed on the path.

Shivo Osho Thanks Rohit, for such an amazing answer…
Shivo Osho Rohit, I spent a long time in an organization, where being total gurubhakt was the ultimate sadhna and gurudroh was ultimate sin. However, my realization is that ultimate sin is not to listen to life,what it has intended for you. Life never repeats itself, it has not even made two leaves of the same tree exactly same, so why would it want you to be exactly like guru? I realize the true guru is the one who inspires his disciple to tread on the path to discover his own uniqueness. True bhakti is to discover your own unique place in the grand cosmic scheme and fulfill that without interference from ego.
Rohit Arya I do not have a single thing to add to this! I concur absolutely.

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week.