HOW TO VET A SPIRITUAL MENTOR

I wrote this piece on request by the Adhyatmikta page on Facebook. The admins have added a segment at the end dealing specifically with Tantra gurus while my post was a bit more general purpose.

This was how they led in….
A set of fantastic guidelines penned by Sri Rohit Arya on how to vet a spiritual individual/Guru. Particularly relevant to our times when things are not always as they may appear to be.

POINTERS TO VETTING A SPIRITUAL PERSON

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A common question asked by those interested is – How do we know if the person set up as a Guru or spiritual expert is genuine? What do we look for? What are the signs of credibility or warning? This is a long and fascinating topic but before one ventures an answer something must be realized. What you would find acceptable and credible is more about you, your svabhava and your limits of acceptance than it is about gurus in general or particular. With this caveat in place we can move on.

Pointers to vet a ‘Spiritual Person”

Don’t delude Yourself.

Because you wish for a guru or a mentor don’t be credulous or gullible. What parameters are you employing to judge this person? Is there learning present? Intellect? Wisdom? Scriptural Knowledge? Manifest Shakti? Personality that seems spiritual? What is the visible track record and demonstrated credibility of this person and HOW DO YOU DEFINE any or all of the above?

What you seek demonstrates who you are and while you MAY find what you seek it may NOT be what you need to grow spiritually.

Always look for the impact of this person on others. What sort of disciples does this person have? All cut from the same cloth? All of similar ages, or diverse? All from same strata of society or diverse? Are they bright brainy people or buffoons you will run screaming from? Is there excessive deference? Cult like behavior? Are the disciples and students impressive in their own right, or does the Teacher suck all the air in the room out? Are they people with meaningful lives or those who do nothing but spirituality? What do people not inside the group say about them? Do these people have any friends or even life outside the circle? Does the Teacher? Again, the value you place on any or all of these questions reveals who you are.

What is the person like?

Is there bombast and incredible claims or a focus on the teaching? Claims of being reincarnations of famous teachers, being under direct guidance of great Masters of the past and directly chosen by aliens from other worlds to be the channel of light that will bring illumination to all souls, these are not good signs. In any case people claiming to be reincarnations of famous masters is a good enough reason to avoid that place. The parampara, processes and sadhana are obviously useless for they are not producing new enlightened people. The old lot are being endlessly recycled. Nothing could be more insulting to genuine traditions. There is a tiny chance it might be true but in general not a good development. If on their personal pages and groups you find comments like “When I was Veda Vyasa 5000 years back” it is a pretty good reason to clear out pronto. When you find comments that “Yes, I was told yesterday by Vishwamitra that you are indeed Veda Vyasa” you run, not walk for the exit. These are real examples by the way. Actual people said these things and meant every word.

Is the person willing to reveal the lineage or all they all beings from other dimensions? Has the person been instructed to teach by the Guru or has there been a schism and independent dukan has been opened? What does the person say about any of this?

What is the experience of meeting them like? If you meet them do you feel creeped out? Do you feel challenged? Does the talk, the satsangh and the meditation leave you peaceful and energized or drained out? Do you feel calm or agitated? Pay attention to creepiness. No real teacher will ask for illegal and immoral behavior as such. Immoral may have wide notions of interpretation but illegal is the law. Access may be restricted but when you do get it what do you feel? Is that something you wish to repeat or no?

Do you wish for supernatural things to transpire when meeting them? Most of these ‘abilities’ are very simple conjuring tricks. Some of them are the real deal, but they have nothing to do with spirituality per se. In the guise of spirituality are you seeking for a better standard of living? Too many testimonials are just about that. Is the person a miracle monger or a person who has sensible perspectives? Do they promise miracles or do they prepare you realistically for the long hard slog that genuine spirituality requires.? Any set up that guarantees ‘abilities’ or even enlightenment according to a time table, with the option to speed up the schedule according to increase in donations, hmm…

What are the personal behaviors like?

Does the person sit in a plush environment and preach austerity? Between professions and behavior is there a large gap? What are their notions of acceptable behavior for seekers and do the rich and influential get exemptions? How are people in general treated? Is there a deliberate hustle going on? What is the relationship of the teacher and his outfit to money? Lofty proclamations of service go hand in hand with donation demands? What is the treatment of genders? Access and answers, do they adhere to a system or is it all dependent upon whim and size of donation or potential usefulness? Is there a reputation for nastiness, berating students or exploiting them? Are people free to speak up or is everybody cowed and repressed? If there are many rumors of greed and sexual shenanigans they could be spiteful attacks. They could also be true. Pay attention.

What is the group mindset like?

Is there a lot of balderdash masquerading as spirituality? Are you assured you are the reincarnation of somebody famous? Is famous past lives a vital part of everybody’s self image in the place? I think I have met every famous person who ever lived on the planet in six thousand years of history in this short lifetime of over fifty years. There are so many Cleopatras, nobody who was a slave cleaning the floors. In general any group that prioritizes New Cage notions is not going to help in genuine transformations. Foo foo foo notions instead of actual practices that demand time and commitment are dangerous. Is there support and access for all the inevitable issues that will come up or are you at the tender mercies of people so recently hatched the egg yolk has still not dried? Or even worse celebrity “teachers”. When you sign on for the course do they hustle you with classic cult behaviors designed for inclusion, flatter you that you are now a special person with access to unique knowledge and also isolate you from the world? Are authentic practices being taught which have grounding in dharmic traditions or is it all wind usually pulled out of the rear end? What is the level of commitment expected and are standards rigorous?
So much for the approached.

Now a brief word for the approachee. CAVEAT EMPTOR. BUYER BEWARE.

While that is a perfectly valid position to take – don’t be a jerk. You are seeking and the other party is under no obligation to fulfill the terms of the imaginary contract you make with them in your head. You may have many expectations, but it is not the job of the Teacher of guru or the organization to fulfill any of them. All of them have their own unique ways of dealing with things. If you do not like it or disagree, move on.

If you have certain mental image of how a spiritual teacher should be and the person violates that, the flaw may be in your expectations. It is a great mistake to assume only the phate haal kangal types are the genuine spiritual people and all the others are less than… If you insist on diet and brahmachanrya filters too well that is your right. Insisting on a certain age, gender, learning, attractive appearance all of these are completely beside the point of spiritual transformation. The most unexpected might be the most useful. It is also better to have full access to an unknown guru than an occasional glimpse from afar of a person with millions of followers. Access cannot be overestimated, but it has to be earned and deserved, not demanded straight off the bat.

A person who is unexpected, who shakes up your mental rigidity, who holds you even as you feel your mental constructions of self dissolve, that person can certainly help you, even if he or she is not the guru proper. It is not so well known that from the point of view of rnanubandhana it might well be that you will meet a famous and powerful teacher but he has nothing to give you while a much lesser person can give you everything of his attainment. Don’t be a fool about this. Don’t have ego issues that I am smarter or more educated. Perhaps. But the other person may have something valuable you don’t.

To expect endless access, endless answers and all for free while you make up your mind may seem very reasonable to you but the other side may just see their time being wasted. Value is a two-way street. If perceived that you are there merely to take, many of them will correctly shut you out. Just as you will assess and evaluate, you will be judged too. If found wanting, it may not always be because the other side did not appreciate the glorious blessings you bring to all existence by merely existing.

Stay grounded, stay alert and best of all is to trust in the Divine. When it is time you will be guided to the Teacher you require.

* * * * * *

A few additional points from the Page admins:-

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1. To add to this, when it comes to Tantrica Gurus the bar is both strict yet simple. The primary idea of Tantra is a bifurcation into the major path and the minor path, one that leads to a communion and permanently transformative vision of the Ishta Devata, or an attainment of specific abilities. Unlike other paths Tantra does not rescind or tell you that siddhis are not be attained, if a seeker is so tuned, or a guru thinks fit, s/he may certainly do sadhana to acquire them. Their use of course is a matter of wisdom and guidance. In any case the point is that Siddhis are perfectly legitimate in this path. So, when a seeker approaches a Tantric master one must be clear on what exactly one is looking for. If the highest is the goal, attainment of communion and the resultant transformation, then find out how many people have been able to attain the same under the direction of the said Guru, test them, test them well and thoroughly. Otherwise if there are claims of supernatural ability then ask for a demonstration. A genuine Guru will of course never display a siddhi merely to make a demostration of it, however if s/he does possess siddhi-s it will be put to use someday or the other, when circumstance so demands. Be patient and wait and observe. Without an external manifestation all claims of supernatural abilities are just that, claims, with no basis. If someone claims to have communion with a deity, then too observe and watch. For each deity has his or her unique nature and abilities and those will be reflected in the individual. This is a natural stage of sadhana, rare stage no doubt but a sadguru is also a rare term not to be trifled with in casual manner. Unless the bar is set clearly in the mind, and judged accordingly, one is most likely to get disillusioned in time.

2. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa used to say that always observe a spiritual man when he is alone, and when he is in public. Is there a difference in behaviour? Is there a tendency to hide things – that’s a trigger for the necessity to hide or create projections is a certain sign that there is some agenda in the mind. An agenda of course is a normal human thing, but impossible when a mind is truly enlightened. The Self has no agenda, neither does a man who has really attained to a transformative and ulimate communion with a Devata – specially one of the major devata-s.

3. On being asked where and how does one judge true enlightenment, Sri Ramana Maharishi used to say you can only figure out an enlightened man if you are yourself in that state, otherwise you will only speculate. Good advice to remember at all times. In other words, if one follows common sense and applies the fundamental ideas of spirituality, one maybe easily able to tell who has NOT reached the ultimate stage. But it is impossible to say with certainty who has actually reached the ultimate stage, unless one has reached the Self himself/herself. Then it’s a different matter anyway.

4. Always judge an individual, spiritual or otherwise, by their actions and the gaps between their words and actions. Actions are what makes a man, words – well even politicians are good at.

5. Ramakrishna once sagaciously adviced one of his core disciples who was cheated at the local market,” I asked you to be a devotee, not a fool.” Prescient advice and valid for all times.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is  the Founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha and a Lineage Master in a Kundalini path of Yoga. 

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THIS BUSINESS OF BEING A MODI ‘BHAKT’

I have been avoiding this issue as there is no sane way to speak about it which does not offend somebody. And being offended is a national pastime now. But it needs saying from a spiritual figure. Since none of the established gurus are doing it I am stepping up. So here goes. May Nataraja preserve me.

If you are a devout Hindu please do NOT say you are a bhakt of the Prime Minister. The word Bhakta is one of the greatest contributions of India’s spiritual culture. It represents an exalted consciousness and a path to mukti – liberation. It does NOT cover being an enthusiastic partisan of a politician. By using it in such a manner you have degraded and denigrated a great spiritual term.

You are NOT a bhakta. You are a partisan or a fan – which is the diminutive of fanatic. You are a chauvinist, after Nicholas Chauvin who adored Napoleon and refused to accept that Waterloo had taken place because – “The Emperor can never be defeated.” The word chauvinist has been ruined because the feminists overused it, but that crowd are all descendants of Bhasmasura so that is not surprising. Whatever they touch they befoul, but in the name of the Sanathana Dharma, why are you lending yourself to such besmirchment of bhakti? Without the spiritual effort needed, the requisite tapasya, you want the title for free?

One of the signature moves of the Breaking India forces is to demean and insult Hindu spiritual concepts as being nonsensiccal and trivial. In using the word bhakt in such a context you have handed them a crushing victory. You have fallen into a ditch they dug for you and the happiest people to see the use of this term will be the likes of Sagarika and her unspeakable husband, or the conversion agenda funded NGOS harridans like Trupti Deai and Teesta Setalvad. Evey sickularist and presstitute must be laughing their heads off every time they see this horrible usage in the mouths of their fiercest enemies.

Now this is not the same thing as picking up a insulting tag and wearing it as a badge of honor. When Hilary called Trump’s people Deplorable they reversed it in one day and made it a rallying cry. They took what was negative and made it a positive source of energy. When the word Bhakt is used in this careless unthinking manner you are taking a transcendental spiritual concept, a state of being that can liberate you, and dragging it through the mud and slime of party politics. That is unacceptable.

When this crowd began to chant “Har Har Modi” in the run up to 2014 it was to his eternal credit that he shut it down instantly. Quite apart from the trivialization of another spiritual chant there is a dangerous power in the phrase that would have devoured him. The chant is raised only in dire circumstances of war and actually it is ‘Hara Hara Mahadeva’ but it releases a certain sort of dangerous Power that is best left dormant unless the situation is critical. Fortunately he angrily instructed that such foolish demonstrations should cease and they did.

It is okay to be an admirer of somebody you think is a great man. When I saw him stand up to Vajpayee in 2002 who was mouthing liberal nonsense of ‘raj dharma’ I loved Modi instantly. I told everybody that this man was the future Prime Minister of India. This at a time when people doubted if he would get one year in the CM seat. Modi was the only success the Hindus had in the days of grahan that was the UPA calamity. So I get it, perhaps much more than most of you who clambered abroad the bandwagon only after his third term began. But your personal admiration does not trump the sanctity of sacred words or sacred concepts. So please stop this. Please cease describing yourselves as Modi bhakts. As Hindus you know better. You can and must do better.

Sarvam Shivamaym!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha. He is a yogi of the Kundalini Patanjali streams  of Parampara and a Bhakta of Nataraja.

 

Where Karma dies in the seed – Perur Pateeshwara Shiva temple

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A kshetram so powerful in dissolving karma that the sacred tamarind tree has seeds that do not sprout. The Perur Shiva temple near Coimbatore city in Tamil Nadu has sculptural marvels and is an unknown treasure for yogis. The Shivalingam is svambhu and of a quality and vibrational energy that is distinct and somewhat strange until you realize what it is doing… stilling the constant movement of karmic potential.  This temple is called Melai Chidambaram or Chidambaram of the West and while it may not match the peerless kshetram of Chidambaram it is of immense value in itself.

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Elaborate carving everywhere though the current structure seems to be of late Nayak period… 17 century or so

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Part of the Sthala Purana, Kamadhenu the divine cow worshiped a Shiva lingam inside an anthill hoping to become the next Brahma. Why she wanted such a thankless job is never revealed in the story. Her calf, annoyed at being neglected kicked over the anthill. Kamadhenu was appalled at this act but Shiva being Shiva was deeply amused and granted her a slew of wishes plus bonus blessings for mere mortals who visit the site. Our temples are always generous in the matters.

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It is the Kanaga Sabhai, the hall of Nataraja that is the stunning aspect of this temple. I had thought that the Elephanta caves Shivas were the pinnacle of Shaivaite art but something was left in the toolbox yet and this miracle of sculpture emerged. 8 larger than life murtis, part of the stone itself… just astonishing… or they would be were they not locked up behind ugly cages now.

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This comfort with the unaesthetic and ugly is a strange aspect of modern Hindusim…

the Kanaga Sabhai was built in 34 years, from 1625 to 1649 by the architect Kambanarchari… under the patronage of the Nayak kings. it is a deeply symbolic structure… suffused with Shaivaite theology…

The Kanaga Sabhai has 36 Pillars representing the 36 tenets of Saiva Sidhanta. There are fifteen steps situated at three different levels. Each set of five steps represents the Panchakshara –  the five letters of the sacred Mantra of Shiva, “Om Na Ma Shivaya” The garbha griha of Nataraja has four pillars representing the four Vedas…Nine windows stand for the nine grahas or celestial objects of Hindu thought and also the nine dvaras or openings of the human body. As explained before the temple is deemed to be capable of granting liberation from karmic influence. It is interesting to note that the Dhayana lingam created by Jaggi Vasudev at the Isha foundation which is about 20 kms from Perur is also supposed to plant a seed of liberation within you, which dries up all other karmic seeds. Must be something about Coimbatore that helps to drop karma….

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Nrithya Ganapati, the dancing form

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Urdhava Tandava murti, an esoteric aspect of Nataraja and his 108 karanas

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One of the most brilliant interpretations of Bhadrakali ever seen

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Skanda of the six faces, his sixth face is inside the pillar

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Veerabhadra in his wrath at the Daksha Yagya

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Old illustration showing Veerabhadra and also a rare form of Agni Veerabahdra, the one one the right

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the pics are sourced from the net as permission to shoot is a huge huge pain

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Bhikshantana moorti… Shiva as the nude yogi…it is also Interestingly called the Sarva Loka vaseekara murti, the enchanter of all the Worlds

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19th or early 20th century photograph, of veerabhadra… it now needs protection in a cage, such is so called progress

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Gajasamhara murti, just extraordinary in its power

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A senseless practice that the ASI of Tami Nadu is addicted to , slathering all murtis in the name of protection and making them dreadfully ugly and even shapeless

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Another old illustration

The Great Gorakshanth is also supposed to have spent significant time at this temple. His spot is a grove and is unmistakable in its fierceness. I have said this many times before, but the yogis and temples of South India are beyond belief, they actually succeeded in making a kshetram of the whole land. Today the consecrated space has fragmented but even spots remain for those who are serious about their yoga…

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, 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 founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles 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/

Of hustle and mendicancy in teaching spirituality

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Teaching spiritual processes in urban India has become such a sad business. I have begun teaching my Yoga only in April this year and some interactions are surreal. There are too many people peddling wares purporting to be spiritual. Which is an issue but not as important as the fact that they are dependent upon those things to survive. This makes them desperate. The purchasers of such wares – they are rarely students – thus get an inordinate position of power. This is destroying the credibility of serious teachers as well as serious processes as the marketplace logic that prevails ensures a wheedling fawning mendicancy when it is not outright hustle. Those who think they are Seekers tend to act from that assumption. It is pretty obvious most of them have never met or engaged with a real Yogi, they would have got a sharp wake up call. It is even more obvious that this cringing marketing of supposedly valuable and life transforming processes is a disaster.

So pervasive has the hustle become that people engage from a place of profound suspicion and disdain. I do not market except by accident – all new students are word of mouth – but the significant majority of them come with this weird attitude – “I have money, now sell me, you sad case.” They have been educated to be so by the prevailing ethos. When I refuse to shrink or seek alms, or apologize for my prices, all of which seem to be the prevailing norm, they are astounded. Some of them are offended. The prevailing power dynamic is so askew that cancelling appointments more than once and expecting you to accommodate them seems to be the norm. When I refuse to tolerate such misbehavior there is incomprehension. What, no gratitude for the crumbs I deign to dole out at my convenience? The second cancellation is when I drop the person. This actually bewilders them. Such are the realities.

The other commonplace is the personal meeting. Everybody seems to want one. Quite other than the fact that it indicates you place no credibility in the friend who recommended me there are other issues. They expect to be wooed. They want to be called up and persuaded, pleaded with. When told ‘this is the date, place and time, turn up,” there is shock. After four books, as many ongoing blogs and over 100 teaching videos, what further credibility will a personal meeting confer? But the norm is to bow and scrape, to submit oneself to judgment and scrutiny.  So now I quote a stiff fee for the personal meeting and that is the end of that. This entitlement to the time and knowledge of others even before a single shekel has changed hands is very educative. Teachers have to insist on their dignity. It is not only for the famous.

People are not used to be being told “You are doing so many processes, why add one more?” Strange people abound; they have taken diksha from as many as five gurus. While they are disturbed, and need therapy not sadhana, what sort of vetting or questioning is being done on the part of these organizations that give away initiations en masse?  How are the basic rules of the Yogic traditions contravened with such insouciance? Since such a situation can be explained only by the prevalence of money grubbing, the caveat emptor mindset is not entirely wrong. What about the karma involved? Does anybody care? Is anybody aware?

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 founded the Arya Yoga Sangha and leads multiple meditation circles 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/

No, I do not have trikala jnana

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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/

Asking God for things and Manifesting in the light of Matthew 7

‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:’

I love the Bible. It is an astonishing book, being both a spiritual and literary classic. Perhaps there are about six or seven books which are both. I am a Hindu – Integral Yoga – but I love the Bible. You can get absorbed in the language – the King James version only for me, thank you very much –  and the sheer power that flows from it. Yes there are appalling passages in it, but almost all old scriptures suffer from the flaws of their human transmitters. Who cares about the rubbish? When you are a Yogi, your internal energy knows what is enduring truth and what are specific cultural limitations of a previous time.

I am trying at present to manifest a few things so i was looking up the techniques to get off the rust. In one of those by now normal co-incidences I first stumble upon words of The Mother, Mira Alfassa, shakti of Sri Aurobindo, and she stated categorically that you can ask anything you want! There is no question of appropriateness or shame, you want something you ask for it. The Divine may delay, or in some cases refuse, for your spiritual good but there was no sin in asking. Indeed unless you asked, it could not flow towards you! That was the occult rule.

Then I read Paramahamsa Yogananda saying we are all children of the Divine Mother and Father and we have the full right to ask for anything we want! He went to the extent of saying we should harass God as a child does its parents, for we have the right to do so. Again, the advice was to ask with full Power and Intent.  Now this sounded very familiar, this insistence on asking to accomplish, so I dug out my Bible and began flipping thru Matthew and sure enough there in Chapter 7: 7-11 is a comprehensive toolkit on the process of manifestation.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

There you have it, the full process. There is nothing about ‘deserving’ in there, in fact Jesus knows full well most of us do not – ‘being evil’ – but God will give if you ask Him.

This is just about the most fantastic thing ever.

He is saying this after seemingly excluding people –

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

But that is a yogic perspective. Some aspects of power and spirit are to be communicated only when people are ready. As I am fond of saying{according to my students}, “There are no secrets in Yoga but there is appropriateness.” To get what you desire however comes with no strings on the part of the Divine – you just have to ask. Jesus is a great favorite amongst Yogis for he is spiritual kin to them

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Yogis care only about personal experience and ability, not theology. If the books match their experience – they usually do – well and good. If not too bad for the books. Yoga is practically unique in all spiritual traditions in acknowledging evolution, of techniques, of Consciousness and it never puts a full stop to possibility. The living words of a Master take precedence over books.

So I am going to make a nuisance of myself asking!

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five 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 has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rohit Arya_Sacred India Tarot#Creating the Death card

In creating the Death card, usually one of the most feared and misunderstood cards of the Major Arcana, we had the choice of going with Yama who is the designated figure in the mythological ethos or go with Kali – who is psychologically more accurate. In the end we kept both of them in, a masculine and feminine polarities choice, and I am glad we did. I also wish to say something about the Issues surrounding the Death card. Today the  norm all over seems to be to treat the card symbolically, as a transformation, a process of change and so on and so forth.  While not inaccurate, the Tarot was created in historical circumstances when life expectancy was only about 40 or 50 years and the Death card would have been literally true in a reading for a good long while. To pretend it was not so, and could still be so, is foolish.

Sacred India Tarot

Notes on its Creation:  Card 13, Death (1):

Lord Yama

In November 2001, Rohit wrote to Gautam:  “Urgently send Jane a message that I am in a bit of a fix as to the Death card.  Yama is right, but so is Kali.  Only problem is, Kali has bad odour outside, and weight of conditionings may be too much to overcome.  On the other hand, Kali provides balance;  Laxmi, Saraswathi, Kali – red, white and black gunas, just as the male deities Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are represented.  This needs some thought, what do you feel?  I am slightly prejudiced in favour of Yama, as it gives an opportunity to give a Vedic perspective.  Perhaps we should ask Jane?  Or even better idea, have two Death cards, for various levels of awareness, with text to justify both – a male Death and female Death.  I think no pack in the world has such a concept, it would be wonderful …”

The Sacred India Tarot has indeed, two cards for Death:  Lord Yama, and Mother Kali as the shakti power.   We now tell our story of the first one, Yama.

Here to begin with, is the western Tarot representation of Death:

Death – Key 13 of Jane’s Hermetic Tarot deck.   In the west, this Arcanum symbolizes “movement” – “the Imaginative Intelligence” of Nature, associated with the sign Scorpio and the reproductive force.

Here is a poem, first drafted by Alan Jacobs:

The reaper wields his scythe of dread

to harvest life, leaving chaff for dead.

All are re-born, in heaven or earth

with Nature’s labour, time since birth.

Most fear the Enigma’s spectral tread.

But some there be, who Death don’t rue.

Death distils an essential view.

The force enquires within the quest!

To look for real ‘I’ in the bones is best

to flower a Mystery, sure and new.

“The dead must bury their dead,” said the Preacher.

The moving image is our teacher.

(Alt. – Within an apple’s flesh, the core is best, For seed itself to find, a life fecund and new.

Or:  To seek within our flesh the bone is best …

**

Rohit’s Article:  Yama – Forerunner, First Man, God of Death

Yama in Hindu mythology is usually known as the god of Death.  He is also supposed to conduct a Last Tribunal where the good are rewarded, and the evil get their lumps.  This does not in any way increase his stature in the popular imagination, where he has frankly, no place at all.   At best it is resignedly accepted, it is better the process of death and punishment for sins be regulated.  His realm is supposed to be dank and gloomy, filled with assistants who are visual variants on his own form – colossal, green skinned, red-robed, and of terrible appearance, accentuated by the fact that he rides on a buffalo and carries a fearsome mace and the deadly noose with which the soul is snared and removed from the body.

None of this does any justice to Yama as he used to be – a great ethical examplar of the Vedic and Upanishadic times.  He was also the first great Hero amongst Men, ascending to divine status because he was not afraid to learn the riddle of death by dying.

All the Vedic gods have lost stature, but Yama is a really sad example of decline in a culture.  The name Yama means “The Restrainer”.  Further refining it, we get “The Restrained One.”   This is not surprising, considering his origin.  In a magnificent dramatic irony, Yama is supposed to be the son of Surya, the Sun god and giver of Life.  Life cannot proceed without intimate acquaintance with death.  Indeed, death clears the old out of the way of Life.  The Veda is clear that Yama’s great achievement on behalf of the race of men was to find the way home which cannot be taken away.  It is by dying that man achieves immortality, and Yama was the first to discover this secret.

Not without trouble, however!   For Yama and Yami were the first humans to be born, the Primordial Twins so beloved of mythic structure.  Yami was in no hurry to learn the Eternal Secret.  She would much rather Yama learnt with her what it was to be fruitful and multiply.  This was acceptable by the standards of myth and all Genesis tales:  the first couple usually populated the earth through incest.   Yama is having none of it, and rejects Yami’s specious argument that even in the womb, which they shared, they were designed to be man and wife.  She also urges upon him his duty to the world.  If they are all that live, they owe it to life to procreate and trust that posterity will be indulgent with the moral implications of what they had to do.  The verses where she urges him on in this expedient course of action, are some of the most blatantly erotic written in any human language:

“Desire for Yama overwhelms me Yami –

to lie with him in a common bed

as a woman to her husband I would yield my body.

Like chariot wheels let us surge to and fro!”

 

Yama’s answers are a standing monument to ethical imperatives, a blanket repudiation of expediency and comfort zones.  He simply refuses to lower his standards, no matter what the emergency.  Evil has no extenuating circumstances.  “Shall we do now what has been diligently spurned hitherto?  Shall we who speak truth, now countenance wrong?”

For him all actions are to be judged in the light of Ritha, Cosmic Law.  It is better the earth remain unpopulated than be filled with the fruits of sin.  He has greater, and more justified, confidence in the universe than Yami does, for life does not snuff out, contrary to her dire predictions.  This refusal to procreate sinfully, is Yama’s true victory over death, for Men reproduce hoping to cheat Death with every new generation.  For immortality is gained not in using one’s children to cheat death, but by experiencing Death itself as a door to immortality.

Yama does not begin as a god.  He earns that distinction.  He is merely a man to begin with, but he is not afraid to grow into his full potential.  He is not afraid to travel beyond the veil.  He is the first man to die, and the first man to learn about death without any fear of it.  That makes him the Lord of Death.  Indeed, so great is his power over death, that he is even called Mrityu, Death itself.  Since he was the first sinless man to cross over, he becomes Lord of that realm, and is also entrusted with a new responsibility, guarding the Dharma.  Hence his title Dharma Raja – Lord of Dharma.

It is a remarkable concept.  Death alone can reveal the true ethical and moral stature of a human life;  while that life is being lived, the issue always hangs in balance.  The judgement seat of Yama thus evolved in later myth, helped by his assistant Chitragupta, India’s Recording Angel who has every deed of a life stored away in his infinite ledgers.  This is the classic Weighing of the Scales, a great and momentous decision that only the first Man, the Forerunner, who showed the race of man the path to salvation, is entitled to take.   It dramatically represents Shaw’s famous phrase: “Life levels all men, but Death reveals the eminent.”

Yama’s death had another interesting consequence.  For Yami went into a great inconsolable gloom, that rapidly threatened the Universe.  The gods urged her to let it go, to forget the death of Yama and get on with living.  To all their remonstrance, she had only one answer – “Yama has died but today, and you want me to forget so soon?”

Since the First Days had been created without any nights, this was indeed an insurmountable difficulty!   To help put some distance between Yami’s distress and the event causing it, the gods invented Night.  Thus came into being the morrow, the passage of time and the dimming of memory, which assuages grief.  “Night and day together let sorrow be forgotten,” says the Veda about this.   Also, Yama seems to have traveled to the south to learn about the great transition of Death;  he has been deemed the guardian of the South quadrant, and it is also the direction of death.  To sleep with your feet pointed south is regarded as an invitation to travel on the long journey, and is avoided in Indian culture.

… … …

Yama has a great role left to play in the KATHA UPANISHAD, where the boy-Rishi Nachiketas travels to his realm, seeking instruction from the only god who really knows the secret and mystery of Death.  This text is one of the glories of Indian literature as well as philosophy, and it is worth perusing in its own right.  Yama tries to dissuade the boy from asking to learn about matters even the gods prefer to avoid in ignorant bliss, but seeing that his resolution would not be shaken, he fires from both barrels in a tremendous opening statement of truths.  “The Good is one thing.  The Pleasant is another.”  He then takes the boy through ever ascending realms of Awareness and ends up with a blunt statement of reality about the Path:

“Steep as the mountain slope, sharp as the razor’s edge is the Path.

Nevertheless – Arise!  Awake!  Stop not till the Goal is reached!”

In the Mahabharatha, Yama is the father of the ethical Hero Yudhistara.  He is also famous in the text for having a contest with the wise Savitri, who is determined not to let the Lord of Death and Righteousness have the soul of her husband Satyavan.  Yama holds out as long as he can, showering boons on the devoted girl in a vain attempt to distract her from her purpose, but she is in every way his intellectual equal, and her love is too strong for him to resist.  He is only too glad to admit defeat, and restore the Prince to life.

Sri Aurobindo used this myth to write the longest poem in the English language – Savitri.  It is also a text of ascending levels of awareness of the Spirit.  In the Mahabharatha, there is also another famous section, where Yama takes on the form of a Yaksha spirit, and questions his brilliant son on virtually everything.  These questions of the Yaksha are a compendium of aphoristic brilliance and wisdom.  The final question he asks, is perhaps the most apt:

“What is the greatest wonder of the world?  Every day thousands of men go to Yama’s abode, yet no man thinks of the implications of his death.”

Yama has many names, all of which indicate in some way or other, his role as Cosmic Judge and upholder of the Just.  He is Samana “the Settler”, Dandha-dhara the bearer of the Rod – symbol of authority and punitive powers – Pitri-Pati, or Lord of the Manes (ancestors).   Yama is also known as Kritana, the Finisher.  Everybody comes to him, sooner or later, and the myriad self-deceptions that everyone thinks make up life, are of no use any more.   Greater Life is possible only if we remove all tendencies to evil.  If we do not, Yama will find them out and judge us on them.

To know Yama, is to know that you live by what dies within you.

**

From the KATHA UPANISHAD:

Nachiketas:   “When a man dies, this doubt arises;  some say ‘he is’ and some say ‘he is not’.  Teach me the truth.”

Death:   “Even the gods had this doubt in times of old;  for mysterious is the Law of life and death.  Ask for another boon.  Release me from this …”

Nachiketas:    “… All these pleasures pass away, O End of all!  They weaken the power of life.  And indeed how short is all life!  Keep thy horses and dancing and singing … I can only ask for the boon I have asked.”

Death:     “… There is the path of joy, and there is the path of pleasure.  Both attract the soul.  Who follows the first comes to good;  who follows pleasure reaches not the End….

**

Nachiketas:   “Tell me what you see beyond right and wrong, beyond what is done or not done, beyond past and future.”

Death:   “I will tell you the Word that all the Vedas glorify, all self-sacrifice expresses, all sacred studies and holy life seek.  That Word is OM.  That Word is the everlasting Brahman;  that Word is the highest End.  When that sacred Word is known, one is great in the heaven of Brahman.  Atman, the Spirit of vision, is never born and never dies.  Before him there was nothing, and he is ONE for ever more.  Neverborn and eternal, beyond times gone or to come, he does not die when the body dies.  If the slayer thinks that he kills, and if the slain thinks that he dies, neither knows the ways of truth.  The Eternal in man cannot kill;  the Eternal in man cannot die.

“Concealed in the heart of all beings is the Atman, the Spirit, the Self;  smaller than the smallest atom, greater than the vast spaces.  The man who surrenders his human will leaves sorrows behind, and beholds the glory of the Atman by the grace of the Creator.  Resting he wanders afar;  sleeping he goes everywhere.  Who else but my Self can know that God of joy and sorrows?

“When the wise realize the omnipresent Spirit, who rests invisible in the visible, and permanent in the impermanent, then they go beyond sorrow.”

Rohit’s Notes:

“Please do not portray Yama in any sort of hell like condition.  He is the great judge, as well as the first who went forth.   Yama was the first man to die, and he became the Lord of death and Judge of all men.  He is green in complexion, while his clothes are bright red in colour.  His eyes are red too, but they are somewhat reptilian in that they never blink.  He carries a golden mace and a fearsome noose in the right and left hands respectively.  We will send a picture, but the common perception of Yama is both distressing and mistaken.  His head should have a warrior’s helm, NOT the absurd buffalo horned Viking helmet so beloved of Indian art.  He rides a buffalo, but that is an optional extra for the illustration.

“Yama’s body should indicate great muscular development, and he should be a young man.  The popular images show him to be fiercely moustached and impossibly pot bellied.  None of that.  In the Vedas it is very clear that he was in the prime of his life, and so greatly handsome and virile that his own sister fell in love with him and tried to tempt him into an act of primal Incest.  He was the first Man, as well as first god, to pass over and learn the great Mystery of death – knowledge that makes him privy to wisdom denied to the other gods.  This is clear from the Katha Upanishad and the dialogue with Nachiketas therein.

“Yami his sister refused to stop mourning for him, and answered every remonstrance of the gods who felt this was overdoing grief, by saying ‘Yama has but died this day and you want me to stop grieving for him!’  In order to help her to heal, they invented the night, so that she could sleep, so that time might be counted off in days, and healing and acceptance begin.”

Correspondence:  Jane –  “Many thanks, the texts for Yama and Kali (for the creation of Kali, see next post) are most illuminating.  I had begun the Yama drawing, and it is along those lines already.   Rohit’s essay on Yama is so good … I have a bad cold today and unable to work.

An early impression/sketch for Yama, while reading Rohit’s notes.

Jane’s Notes/Journal:  23 August 2002

“Alchemy is either deteriorating or re-arranging my formerly rude physical health.  Quite poorly yesterday, with very sore fiery inside-linings, face, eyes and streaming.   Last night I at last got going on SE (Self Enquiry the Ramana Foundation Quarterly) as the current task, inspired by Rohit’s excellent article on Yama – who I began to draw for India Tarot the day before – which I follow up by typing in the whole of the Katha Upanishad, and will include some of Aurobindo’s Savitri with Yama as well.  It works as soon as I feel ‘led’ by the Companions in this task, and no longer a disgruntled editor …

“Mrs B rang to announce she’s off to Brockwood for the weekend, and I told her of my nightmare, and she reminded me of my “little friend” here dying last week (Alexander) and the kind of demands this couldn’t help making, and what it feels like to be them, and the ABYSS we both know, which is in its way, death, the terror of indefinition;  and how fascinating it all is…   Thus:  permit this hinterland, and let it, if it will, unknot.

24 August 2002

“SE will grind along alright now that Yama gave it a kick start;  the magazine becomes automatic and time-passing work, convinced that it is useful.  I copied out the whole of the Katha Upanishad, and exciting passages from Aurobindo’s Savitri…

25 August 2002

“Yesterday I went for a walk and a doze on the Heath, and when I came back I spent the whole evening on Yama, it is now a beautiful painting, my favourite of all the cards I have drawn so far.  It combines the boy Nachiketas with the version of Mrs Yama too – the erotic Yami – and includes under Lord Yama’s buffalo, those sprouting hands, feet, leaves and flower-buds in the dark, of the Western Tarot version as death’s harvest (scythe).  In the east, Yama does it with a noose.  Yama rides mildly through the shadowed forest, his mace is like a lamp, his noose a source of Light, his green skin complementary to his eyes and the fiery red cloth that swathes him.  The buffalo is white.  Young Nachiketas, who inquires into the depth of eternity, attracts his interest and attention.   But Yami his sister, dramatizes the traditional tokens of grief and death in a twilit region.  This region however, is one of abundant fertility and transformation.  She and Nachiketas seem to represent night and day.  Lord Yama presides over these states from a region beyond them, which includes them.

The green and red of Yama himself in this painting, against flowing greys and violets, enchants my inner eye.   Magic is in it.  He is the wisdom god Yama, with young Nachiketas;  it has a deep and subtle feeling. 

“Gautam sent from Bombay by email, colour images of Kali and of Ganga.”

From the KATHA UPANISHAD:

In the secret, high place of the heart, there are two beings who drink the wine of life in the world of truth.  Those who know Brahman, those who keep the five sacred fires, and those who light the three-fold fire of Nachiketas, call them ‘light’ and ‘shade’.

May we light the sacred fire of Nachiketas, the bridge to cross to the other shore where there is no fear, the supreme, everlasting Spirit!

This by which we perceive colours and sounds, perfumes and kisses of love;  by which alone we attain knowledge;  by which verily we can be conscious of anything;  this in truth is That …  When he knows the Atman, the Self, the inner life, who enjoys like a bee the sweetness of the flowers of the senses, the Lord of what was and of what will be, then he goes beyond fear;  this in truth is That …

The goddess of Infinity who comes as Life-power and Nature; who was born from the elements, and rests, having entered the heart;  this in truth is That.  Agni, the all-knowing god of fire, hidden in the two friction fire-sticks of the holy sacrifice, as a seed of life in the womb of a mother, who receives the morning adoration of those who follow the path of Light or the path of work:  this in truth is That. Whence the rising sun does come, and into which it sets again; wherein all the gods have their birth, and beyond which no man can go ;

Who sees variety and not the unity, wanders on from death to death.

The soul dwells within us, a flame the size of a thumb, is the soul;  the Lord of the past and the future, the same both today and tomorrow:  this in truth is That.  As water raining on a mountain-ridge runs down the rocks on all sides, so the man who only sees variety of things, runs after them on all sides.  But as pure water raining on pure water becomes one and the same, so becomes, O Nachiketas, the soul of the sage who knows.

**

I will now speak to you of the mystery of the eternal Brahman; and of what happens to the soul after death.

The soul may go to the womb of a mother, and thus obtain a new body.  It may even go into trees or plants, according to its previous wisdom and work.  There is a Spirit who is awake in our sleep, and creates the wonder of dreams.  He is Brahman the Spirit of Light, who in truth is called the Immortal.  All the worlds rest on that Spirit, and beyond him no one can go.  This in truth is That.

As fire, though one, takes new forms in all things that burn, the Spirit, though one, takes new forms in all things that live.  He is within all, and is also outside.

**

The Tree of Eternity has its roots in heaven above and its branches reach down to earth.  It is Brahman, pure Spirit, who in truth is called the Immortal.  All the worlds rest on that Spirit, and beyond him no one can go.   This in truth is That.  The whole universe comes from him, and his life burns through the whole universe.  In his power is the majesty of thunder.  Those who know him, have found immortality.

**

When the five senses and the mind are still, and reason itself rests in silence, then begins the Path supreme.  This calm steadiness of the senses is called Yoga.  Then one should become watchful, because Yoga comes and goes.

**

One hundred and one subtle ways come from the heart.  One of them rises to the crown of the head.  This is the way that leads to immortality;  the others lead to different ends.

Always dwelling within all beings, is the Atman, the Purusha, the Self, a little flame in the heart.  Let one with steadiness withdraw him from the body, even as an inner stem is withdrawn from its sheath.  Know this pure immortal light;  know in truth this pure, immortal Light.

And Nachiketas learnt the supreme wisdom taught by the god of after-life, and he learnt the whole teaching of inner-union, of Yoga.  Then he reached Brahman, the Spirit Supreme, and became immortal and pure.  So in truth will anyone who knows his Atman, his higher Self.

Extracts from the Katha Upanishad, Juan Mascaro translation

Correspondence: Gautam and Rohit:   -3 September 2002

“The Death cards are to die for.  Yama:  This is a brilliant card … only minor correction, the horns make it look more like a bull than a buffalo.  We are sending you a reference for the same.   Kali (this painting was done again) – This is the most powerful representation we have seen in a long time.   However …”  

 (See next post, in this series.)

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five 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 has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga