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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How service becomes virtue signalling

Have you noticed that when people start by speaking of their desire to do seva{service} it somehow, over time, becomes about their tyag and balidan {sacrifice}? There is a grim inevitability to this progression, almost like it is a natural part of aging or something. There is really only one answer to this virtue signalling. It is a rude answer but it is also true. “Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you. You choose to do this because it felt good. What do you want now, a medal?”
This is why I prefer the greedy and selfish. I don’t like them but I prefer them. They are transparent about their self interest, and there is no bear trap in waiting where suddenly you are expected to repay and reward virtuous actions of the past.
As a Guru I get a lot of this. People feel obliged to signal their disinterested virtue and desire to improve society. The moment I see the ‘Improvement’ strand in somebody I back away. That is how things are done in religious circles. Most organizations are held up by what is essentially slave labor, long hard hours of unpaid and unrecognized work but since it has cultural sanction, it is not seriously challenged. I consciously chose not to go that route knowing it would limit growth but I could not cast myself as a slave driver. Now I am virtue signalling! But I have never blathered about seva so I can risk it.
I freely confess I was shattered and disheartened when Narendra Modi of all people, got onto the moral high horse of sacrifices made. It completely demoralized me. Then I became angry. How dare he pull this stunt on us? If this is so important to you then take a leaf out of Nehru’s book and give yourself an award. But dont make such undignified exhibitions in public. This is the Congress playbook and we, quite reasonably, expected different from him. My personal take is that working between 14 to 18 hours a day or whatever the myth making number so beloved of fans, has left him with very little time to do serious sadhana. He probably got into the ‘this is karma yoga’ mindset. This man who was the most hard nosed and unshakeable personality is now weeping copiously at every opportunity, One RSS person complained to me about this new sentimentality on display and my answer was a} why tell me? and b} check out if the weeping fits occur on days near Pournami, the full moon. Of course they do. Modi had the karmic potential to become a liberated soul but this time round it has settled for being a great ruler. That happens in yoga all the time.
Now the point of this post is not our PM. I still think he is the best man we have – even if I think he has made a catastrophic blunder. So the fanboys and fangirls may please spare me their ululations and ignorant enthusiasms designed to bring me into the light. I do not abide sanctimony from anybody.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha – a Kundalini based system of the Integral{Arya} Yoga. He is a Yogi, Author and Polymath.

Rohit Arya_ Creation of Sacred India Tarot Grace card Ganesha

NOTES, EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE

AND PROCESS WORK

ON THE MAJOR ARCANA 2001 – 2002

GAUTAM, ROHIT, JANE

12 June 2001, from Jane’s diary:

“They want an artist to do an Indian Tarot which some sensitive ones have developed, incorporating Vishnu & Co, and the project is Secret, and will be produced in the same class as the new Ramesh book.  They don’t want treacle-colour Indi-Ikons, but …  the other kind of India – VEDIC INDIA.  All these years of Indian mysticism and Kabbalah training, exchanging trade –  now materializes! – we never know what next to be called upon!”

“He rolls boulders in your path aside – what could be better attributes for a god?

Correspondence, Rohit:  “The dancing Ganesha should not lose his quality of being an Earth energy first, but some sort of cosmic or outer space interpretation would be welcome.  His trunk should be turned to the left as that is the version of Ganapati that interacts with the world and welcomes and blesses people.  The sitting Ganesha can have his trunk turned to the right, as that is the spiritual version and symbolic of the inner quest.   Ganesha is always depicted not with an elephants head as really happened in the myth, but with a human head that looks elephant like.  It is usually a pink or sometimes white head.  I would like to try out an actual elephant head on a human body and see how that looks.  If it turns out to be too weird looking, we can go back to the norm.  If it does not, then we will have a unique and creative perspective, which also has the virtue of being scripturally accurate.  I love the idea of having the pentacles inscribed on the head, so please retain that for this illustration.  I really do not know what else I am to say, as your knowledge of Indian culture makes me hesitant to make anything except the broadest suggestions.  Please also look at the accompanying article on Ganesha, which we have put up on our website – it may give you some ideas for another point of view.   Emotion:  Happy, dancing Ganesha….”

In my drawing, Ganesh doesn’t hold an axe, he holds a mace.

Jane:The rat (his vehicle) I see as a humorous touch, the small one who gnaws through ropes.  Do you want Ganesh’s head as an elephant with or without headdress?  Can easily alter minor details.  You mentioned having “the pentacles” inscribed on his head.  Did you mean this design, or what?

 

 

 

“I have tried to combine stability with ‘pan-cosmic’ states of being, in this design;  also he should seem ever so slightly shocking and terrible as Lord of the Ganas, and guarding his mother, so I visualize the completed design (if it succeeds) with the impression of him a little against the light – the light behind him/Paradox.  Have put his trunk in his left hand, as you said.

 “I have found a friend who says he can scan and compress email images to send – I can ask him to do this once or twice a week until we have your London contact set up.   If it works OK, I can send you Ganesa and Rudra.  These two are now in colour, and complete, bar finishing touches, refinements and minor alterations to headdresses or facial expression.  I have left Rudra’s headdress vague, because it could be a Siva matted locks conch shell hairdo?  Or the proto-Siva headdress – is this the one that all the Nataraja wear?

Ganesha, now coloured in, is more gentle and playful in mood.  He dances in his OM which is in a four gated mandala, with his Rat and a little puja of incense and a few sweets.  The Sri Chakra on his trunk is now smaller.  He touches earth auspiciously.”

            Jane’s notes:

 

Dancing Ganesh remover of obstacles, is at first himself the obstacle:  so we worship him first before any creative process.  He unblocks the poet.  As an EARTH energy, through his dance the Spirit touches ground to manifest.  The square Yantra emphasizes this playful dance within the Tamil OM sign, with reddish and ochre tones.

Around Ganesh’s head is a circular blue aura – heaven or Spirit, entering the Earth:  the idea of squaring the Circle.

The Yantra on his trunk combines one ascending male triangle with two descending female/shakti triangles.  These male and female principles evolve from the primal element to polarize as shiva shakti – the kernel of the great Sri Chakra Yantra.

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_ the Shiva lingam in the Centre of India

The Dighori temple in Madhya  Pradesh  has a Spatika  {white moonstone} Shiva lingam reputedly the largest such lingam in the world. It is situated at what seems to be the exact geographical centre of India, but its power is that of a yogi who created a sthala peetham, a ‘spiritual process in potential’ which can be accessed by those who share the karma and the lineage.

I stumbled upon this temple entirely by chance. I was in Pench Tiger reserve , facilitating a corporate workshop for people taking initiative in rural development and sustainability. Wishing to visit the actual sites where this quite remarkable work was going on I was told we would be taken to a village which is near this ‘famous’ Dighori temple. I had never heard of it.  Then I was told it was also famous for being the birthplace of one of the Shankaracharyas, heads of spiritual orders and about the only strained equivalent chaotic Hinduism has to a pontiff. There was still no flicker of response from me, a situation that seemed to pique and slightly offend my helpful fount of information. Then I was told  it is the largest Spatika lingam in the world and I perked up. Spatika is white moonstone crystal and an entire Shiva lingam made of that signified that some very advanced yogi had been at work. It is difficult to energize properly such a substance; it holds enormous spiritual reserves if done correctly, but the inherent fragility of the materiel makes it very brittle and prone to crack when the energizing process  is  powerful.  Spatika uses and enhances the Ida or lunar energies of the Kundalini Shakti predominantly to calm and strengthen the energies of the organism or indeed of the surrounding environment. A full scale Shiva lingam, temple size,instead of personal puja space, that would be something to see and experience. So we went.

The temple is situated between Seoni town, mentioned in the Jungle Book as home to Mowgli’s pack, and the city of Nagpur. There is a high scale of agriculture but the jungle is also present everywhere, in the backdrop at the limits of vision. Several times the road takes you through actual deciduous forests. They are not very good roads, a fact casually acknowledged by a cheerful sign – “If the bridge is under water, please do not use it!’  You have to turn left from the highway on the way to Nagpur when you leave Seoni to access Dighori temple. Electricity has reached here, and so has the occasional stretch of tar and concrete, but browsing unremarked amongst cattle and goats were nilghai, twisty horned antelopes! Only the ignoramuses from the city seemed to find that notable, but it only underscored the omnipresence of the forest, at the edges of consciousness, a molten subtext of the wild to the apparent myth of pastoral we found ourselves in. It was beautiful, and there were people, even at ten in the morning, displaying evidence they had no loos at home. The jarring it proceeds on urban sensibilities, and the completely oblivious acceptance showed by all was a mini-education about the problems facing this impossible country. In the manner popular now all over India there was a concrete archway at the beginning of the actual road leading to Dighori temple. Madhya Pradesh favours large serpents and tridents to signify we are in Shaivite country.

As we approached I began to feel, not a pull, not an attraction, but a distinct Force, a pulsing power. I have been a yogi for a while now and such places vibrate strongly with me. It was not unpleasant, but it was not comfortable either. The previous night, as I was about to do my final meditation routine and retire for the night I began to shiver uncontrollably till my teeth chattered. This was strange but I put it down to an unaccustomed hi-impact AC! Under the blanket my Manipura, the navel chakra basically exploded. No other words will suffice, just an eruption of heat and power. It spread all over my body but I felt more power was flowing to the chest and arms than the legs. These sort of weird experiences have become quite regular now and I do not pay much heed to them or get overly excited. As soon as the cold stopped I sat down to meditate and fell asleep! That was noteworthy, for I was still conscious and aware but I could also hear myself snoring. I was locked into position and  there was nothing much I could do except to let it play out. After almost 100 minutes I  really fell asleep and woke up quite stiff and cramped still in my sitting posture. Now as I approached the Dighori temple it was clear some sort of clearing had been done first.

The temple has well maintained lawns and even a water tower. It is the middle of interior India so this is quite a disconcerting sight, a faux 15th century South Indian stone temple replicated in concrete and whitewashed, with these Trishulas all over. An aarti was going on, worship with chants and lamps, in which the armed policeman was enthusiastically participating. It was surely a violation of rules but his devotion was sincere. The din of the aarti – specifically designed so that inauspicious and negative comments though articulated will not be audible to the deity –  made all conversation moot. Also we had no time there, this was a bonus, an attempt at understanding the important markers of the cultural milieu. This is what I garnered from my brief time there.  These are a result of my Samyama, my mediation upon the subject. I offer no evidence per se I merely state this is what I feel is the significance of the temple. Photos of the lingam are not allowed.

The temple has been situated by a great yogi at the spot where he did his sadhana and attained his realization as did his gurus before him. From the clue in the name and the forest environment I understood they were Aghora yogis. Before he passed on he accumulated his knowledge, his experiences and his particular spiritual system into an energy package and deposited it inside the Spatika lingam. The lingam has seven copper bands around it which also means it has been created as a Master in pure energy form, each band representing one of the principal chakras and providing some material substance to embody otherwise uncontrollable energy. That is an ancient feature of all correctly created Shiva lingams, it functions at the energy level of a real guru and his chakras with none of the problems of dealing with his individual karma and human personality! Inside this Spatika lingam however he has created a sthala peetham,   a knowledge bank, a repository of his parampara or lineage and all their techniques. It can be accessed by somebody who is in the lineage and who has the require adhikara, the karmic deservedness or right. The ellipsoid form of the lingam the white crystal used – both hugely resistant to entropy at a spiritual level – ensured that the energy and the knowledge it carries will be stable for essentially millennia. I could not access it, it is not my path. But being in the Kundalini system I could recognize it and feel its incredible power.

Spataika works predominantly with the Ida or lunar channel of the Kundalini. The previous night I had a full blown episode of the Pingala or solar channel even though my Ida normally works even better than the Pingala. Some sort of balancing out was obviously in play, too much lunar input could have damaged my system so the Pingala activated in that quite unexpected manner and made me feel I was inside a volcano. The more I do Yoga the more astonished I am at how incredible the wisdom of the body is, specifically the energy sheath known as the pranmaya kosha. It remembers everything we have ever done, in every form of sadhana we have ever done, and insight and intuition are, as I have learnt, not mental process but purely body consciousness of the pranamaya kosha.  Whatever energy input I received from the spatika lingam is not at a conscious or verbal level; I just sensed it flow into me. The lingam  is so powerful they have a separate brass plated lingam to do abhishekam with and give charanamrita to drink from. That should tell you something. People who drink the water or milk used on the spatika are likely to have extraordinary reactions and it has wisely been avoided.

The clues are everywhere. The Nandi or bull vahana of Shiva has an extraordinary kundalini sarpam or snake emerging from his hump  – Anahata  – and reaching the Sahasrara between the horns. I will not say more here, I do not feel I have the right to reveal it as yet,  but those who can comprehend what is being communicated will grasp its full import. I have never seen this displayed in this public manner, that Nandi is unique in all India which abounds in peculiar Nandis, all displaying some aspect of yogic technique which can be achieved at the sacred spot they are in. The relative inaccessibility and obscurity of the temple also means that whatever process has been initiated by the founding yogi is working itself out in its own time. The temple is as close to the geographic centre as makes little difference but he has placed this white moonstone lingam over the solar plexus of the energy body of the land! Yogis never think small but this is indeed magnificent. In doing so he decided to consciously intervene in the evolution of the spiritual process of the land, which had become somewhat awry owing to the turbulent history it had endured. One day the person with the adhikara to access the parampara will land up there and then this temple will no longer remain obscure. Till then it is a peaceful little diversion. I am going back whenever I can. I may not be the one who can reach in but the Lingam has so many gifts; to access them takes time and I was barely there for ten minutes. Next time I am going to try and contact the Founding yogi and ask for his inputs and instructions. In the meantime I do my part in making this awesome place known to all serious yogis.

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_ 3 blocks to motivation in a spiritual process or sadhana

A spiritual process – called sadhana in Yoga – is a fine thing to have and sufficiently common for people to realize it is not easy. Most sadhana is simple, not easy, and as in all other aspects of life, one loses motivation rapidly. I offer what I think are the 3 prime reasons sadhana suffers and what can be done in integral response .

I had been thinking about the motivation problem elsewhere and have written about it on my blog about Work and Success. Great stuff – view here

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/rohit-arya-_the-3-leaks-to-motivation/

I was then faced with a challenge. If, as I hold, “All Life is Yoga”, then these leaks or blocks to motivation should not be peculiar to the work sphere alone.  A little thought showed me that I was making the mistake of compartmentalizing  life.. The  leaks hold with as much validity in sadhana perhaps even more so. Yet spiritual processes may have their characteristic issues so a further effort on my part may not be amiss.

Tiredness

Bodhidharma was a South Indian prince who took Buddhism to China. The new monks were full of enthusiasm for the new faith but they simply could not sit long enough to mediate.  Bodhidharma taught them a variation of his martial art tradition, Kalaripayattu, the oldest known martial art in the world and still practiced in India, to condition themselves – and also defend themselves from brigands and villains who thought non-violent monks were a gift from heaven. This became Wu Shu, better known as Kung Fu and most magnificently kept alive in Shaolin. But the core issue remains. Most mediation styles require if not effort, at least endurance, for the benefits and grace to kick in. This is one of the most common reasons people fail in sadhana. They say they have no time but actually they get weary long before any dramatic changes occur internally. I speak feelingly, and from personal experience.

Hatha Yoga in fact was invented and designed to correct postural flaws and lack of stamina, the two major impediments to practising yoga proper which is mediation.   In actual fact the asanas or postures arose in meditation as a response to needs of the students; the current approach is to reverse the process but that is a matter for another time. Most people take about ten minutes merely to settle down into a simulacrum of stillness at the physical level. The mind takes considerably longer. At about the 25 or 30 minute mark, both physical and mental processes tend to slow down but the body, habituated to inertia over lifetimes has an inner mechanism that activates approximately around the 41 minute mark. Up to the 48th minute you are in profound discomfort. If you can tough it out to the 50 minute the body usually relaxes and settles into a deep state of grace and flow, but most people are in such agony and they feel so completely wasted that the posture breaks, the mind screams even more than the joints and you ‘fail’. After a few such disheartening episodes, you lose motivation and decide meditation or sadhana is not for me.

Those who practice pranayama may face this problem even more acutely. So much tiredness is released from the stored up inertia within the muscle memory that you think you are tiring yourself instead of releasing weakness. The body is a vital component of success in spiritual process, contrary to the usual belief, so having an instrument that is capable of rigour and stamina is paramount. Absolute stillness requires absolute fitness! An interesting aspect of mediation is that long practice – I am talking years now, not months and at least half an hour a day – causes the body to recalibrate itself into its ideal weight and fitness levels. Significant and even dramatic healing may occur. This requires a commitment to the long haul however, and people are usually too fatigued to stay the course.

Boredom

Till you get to the grace of the still mind, mediation and spiritual processes seem like the most futile waste of time ever designed by a mocking fiend. Since there is nothing to do, and we are all conditioned to believe that not doing is a moral blemish, meditation feels profoundly unnatural at first and above all it is boring. Yes I know you will find endless paeans to the joy and bliss and high of mediation – they are all by people who got to the other side and have now forgotten how bored out of their skulls they were initially.  Unlike boredom in other domains, boredom in sadhana is particularly difficult as you cannot distract yourself, do something different, or employ any of the tricks that work! Boredom in sadhana is brutal because what you are bored with is yourself. This is not a pleasant or a popular realization and is a dangerous cross roads in the path. People prefer to abandon the path rather than accept they may be mistaken about their splendid uniqueness in the world .

There is only you… that is the harrowing part of this. You have to stay with it, accept it, even forgive it if need be, but you are what you are and until you comprehend that and integrate it there is no way forward. Once done, naturally, infuriatingly, boredom ceases! To stay put however requires that you do not get tired. If you are tired as well as bored, the chances of breaking through to any sort of insight or accomplishment go down drastically. The only real help here is faith, and the example of those who have gone before you. They got past it, so will you, if only you stay the course.

Frustration

Frustration flows from thwarted desire. Mediation is supposed to reduce desires but in many cases it merely hones a keener edge to the desire. You seek virtue, but very often people seek excitement. They want grand and significant experiences, especially if others they know are reporting such things. They want to progress faster than they seem to be accomplishing at present. In sadhana, breakthroughs happen in leaps or jumps… they are not accretions which can be visibly measured, incremental measures of gratifying comparison.  The energy builds up, pools and collects itself and then bursts out, explodes to the next level, including the previous level now transcended. It usually happens at a time that is most inconvenient from a personal perspective also!

The optimal attitude to maintain I have explained in the other blog. I quote parts of it here –   “To work you have the right, but not the fruits thereof” Karmanye vaadika raste, maphaleshu kadachana. Now I do not imagine that Krishna would be against success, his entire life was argument enough against that. Nevertheless this was his prescription for integral action.   It is easy enough to say it teaches optimal functioning. If you are always looking at the fruit, the result, you are distracted from performing skilfully the action which will enable you to achieve that fruit. Yes of course.

The deeper wisdom of this too popular verse conveys is that outcomes cannot be controlled as we would desire.  When I grasped this it caused an internal explosion.  Let me hasten to add I have no patience with fatalism – the Niyati outlook, it is all kismet, in the stars. I believe in and practice Orenda, which is the Huron word for the Sanskrit term Purushartha. It implies, in both traditions,  invoking the power of the human will against the aspect of destiny that is ranged against you. It is the awakening of personal strength to alter what the insistence of prarabdha, activated karma, is trying to dole out to you. The direction of fate need not be your docile path. You can consciously intervene. I am Aghora – we refuse to accept the hand that karma has dealt us, but, and this is vital, the result of our response need not be what we desire. It could be, indeed very often it is, better than that we desired!

Yet and I cannot overstate the case, the leaps, the take-off, they occur unexpectedly and suddenly but only because there has been a steady input of sadhana or spiritual process over  time. The wait is part of the process sometimes as the organism may not be ready for a premature awakening, especially in the Kundalini systems of yoga.  Frustration in such a scenario is therefore avidya, ignorance of the process you have entered into. These supposedly arid periods are of vital significance and import; not to know that is tragic; to grumble about it is futile; to abandon practice is idiocy.

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 the Editor of The Leadership Review, a corporate trainer, 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 first workshop

The workshop was held on April 21 2012 at The World Trade Centre in Mumbai at the Sunflower hall on the 30th floor. Yogi Impressions are the publishers of the Sacred India Tarot. This is my first attempt at a photo essay type blog

Just before the workshop began, posing with some of the prints from the Sacred India Tarot deck

You can see the Ace Lotuses{cups} the meditating five faced Shiva, and the two bonus grace cards provided in the deck Ganapati and Mahaavatar Babaji

all set

I have never stood next to a poster which was displaying my work before! It is  a great feeling…

My publisher – and great friend – Gautam Sachdeva. He is an author of spiritual books too! This was the poster outside the session room

The camera was acting up so I froze up a bit but still we got a really great shot.

The Wild Card – the Zero card of the Major Arcana… here Rudra Shiva

The Empress – Mahalaxmi

A long shot of the audience during the session – this is the Emperor

The tremendous power that is known as Mahakali. These magnificent illustrations are by an English lady called Jane Ada

The Masculine aspect of the World Card in the Sacred India Tarot is the Ananda Tandava Murthi, the Bliss Dancer better known as Shiva Nataraja. Both Death and World cards are depicted with a Masculine and Feminine aspect, and with two bonus cards they make up a total of 82 cards in the deck!

The Feminine aspect of the World, the Mahashakti. I look suitably eerie and Tantrik here!

After the session with my Guru, Santos Sachdeva, author of the unbelievably awesome Kundalini Trilogy books on meditation. The hat is my trademark!

Iti .. i.e. Finis!

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 the Editor of The Leadership Review, a corporate trainer, 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 _ Shiva, the Bliss Dancer

Dance is an exuberant leap of life towards its source.Just as a tree bursts out of its nourishing soil to seek the sun, so too does the dancer seek out the creative source.

This need not be a conscious process.

It need not be a decision, a desire, a demand, or a destination.

It just needs to be dance.

The child sways to music long before it can talk. Or walk.

The soul never forgets how to dance, though minds and bodies may be ashamed of it.

To dance is to affirm life.

Which means that to dance is to risk.

Risk is not popular; systems that eliminate it are.

With dance you risk – ridicule, unwelcome self-awareness.

But also at risk is stagnant thought and depressing plainness.

When dancing, no one is ordinary.

A system of dance should not be confused with dance and dancing.

“We cannot dance”, means we don’t know a system.

So long as we can move, we can dance.

If this means something to observers, fine. If it means nothing, even better.

Does it mean something to you, something beyond the hotch-potch of clichés and assumptions and social conditioning of what dance is and what it should do?

Don’t enter a state of hot air about “Transcendental experience” and ” Being one with the universe”. A dancer has no time to think and feel such things – dancers are too busy dancing. Dance is not a vehicle for personal expression; dance is about your personality interacting with the world. Hence the importance of dance in cultures across the world, its primacy in ritual and magic.

Movement has its own language which language is usually inadequate to clearly express.

Dance with wit, with idiosycracy, with crankiness even.

Don’t dance in other people’s minds.

Not even in your own mind.

If the body is true, the mind and soul follow. So does the world.

For the world, Jagat comes from Ja – that which is born and Gat – movement.

Jagat is that which is born out of movement.

Dance is movement at its best and its purest – at its worst and ugliest – hence dance expresses the world peculiarly well.

Hindu mythology captued the essence of this insight most magnificently in the Ananda Tandava Murthi better known as the Nataraja, king of dance. But Ananda Tandava means the ‘Bliss Dance’ and Shiva is therefore The Bliss Dancer. The Lord of the World, Vishvanatha  Shiva is also the all-pervading consciousness. The World is thus the Dance of Bliss which is Shiva.

“Dancing gods must come” said Nietzche, unconsciously echoing the Nataraja who is also Nrityashila – habituated to dance. For Shiva like all dancers, not only expresses the personal view of the world but embodies it in the physical form.

Another great form of movement,  the martial arts, shares these insights with dance.

Without humility, there is no pride.

Without ignorance, there is no learning.

Without fear, there is no courage.

To dance is not just about art or craft or skill or dedication and achievement.

It is about the appetite to dare, to be exuberant, and to be yourself.

To dance is to make this moment, now, worth living.

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 the Editor of The Leadership Review, a corporate trainer, as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga