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.

 

Ekapada Shiva – an unusual Yogic form

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A Shiva with only one foot, replicating a Lingam shape, sometimes with Vishnu and Brahma emerging from him, the Ekapada Shiva is one of the most striking creations of the Yogic aspect of working with forms. It has a Tantric variant also, found in Shakti temples, where he is more Bhairava than Shiva, and which may provide a clue as to the sadhana aspects of such a rupa. For the Yogis used to create devatas in specific rupam for very precise reasons, to help in particular types of transformations of consciousness. It is perhaps not particularly co-incidental that this form of complete stillness is most widely seen in the same areas where Shiva is also known as the Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance.

 

 

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I am not particularly concerned with the historical development of this rare form. The details can be found here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekapada.

My concern is why Shiva Nataraja would be depicted in such a manner. There had to be very good reasons indeed at a time when sectarian abuse of each others devatas was rampant and such a form was so easily open to  perjorative interpretations. Swami Vivekananda was the first modern Hindu to speak up against western psycho-sexual interpretations of the Lingam as a phallus alone – a process the West is still addicted to, ref Wendy Doniger.  He clearly stated that the lingam was the Yupa Stambha, the central pillar present in all yagnas, representative of the Axis Mundi, which in Yogic terms is the spine up which the kundalini travels. The energy body of a high level yogi automatically arranges itself into a lingam shape; it is incredibly stable as a side effect. Such forms are anthropomorphic representations of that yogic insight, rather like the mukha lingams, lingams with faces on them which would be a difficult task if they represented the phallus.

 

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Another form of Shiva also has this lingam like shape and is associated with Brahma and Vishnu. That is the famous Pillar of Fire Shiva, Lingodbhava ,which is an interesting name in itself. The bhava is the sensation, the vibration, the perception, the feeling. The bhava of a lingam is shown in forms that devotion creates.  [while also taking the opportunity to put down the worshippers of Brahama and Vishnu- sectarianism was always a reality.} The Ekapada implies stillness lack of movement, rather like the forms of the Jain tirthankaras, who according to some schools, freeze into these still forms after final attainment, for even the smallest movement is karma and they are free of that taint! The area where the Ekapada is found, South India, Rajasthan Orissa were very much the catchment area of Jainsim too and the theological idea must have been well known to all of them.

 

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There is certainly an aspect of asserting superiority over other sects in this Ekapada form. Or an attempt to assimilate them. Both processes could have gone on simultaneously. But the Tantric shrines where Bhairava is in Ekapada form shows that the process could flow the other way also. . We are told that it originates in the obscure Vedic deity Aja Ekapada which may be true. The yogic sandhana roots seem clear once we read that Aja Ekapada  – The unborn one footed – was almost always associated with Ahi Budhnya – the serpent of the ocean – so much so they were thought to be twin or the same god. This is formless consciousness associated with the creatrix serpent of the kundalini. So the roots are clear for those who know how to see it.

 

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The single form Ekapada {Vishnu and Brahma  attached is also called Tripada} is almost always associated with attendants who are tapasvis, so it is a hard sadhana aspect of Yoga. The unusual rigidity and stillness of the form is also a clue, this is like shambhavi mudra practice, where everything is stilled, every sensation, every external and internal input is stopped, and the experience of inner akasha is allowed. Brahma and Vishnu, creating and ongoing aspects have to be stilled to experience the essence of consciousness that is Shiva. At least that is what arose in my understanding and my samyama on these things is usually pretty accurate. I do not urge this conclusion upon anybody, it is my insight. The yogis of South India used to create rupams all the time and the clues as to the purpose of so doing were always available for those who meditated upon them. I am reasonably sure I am on the right track here!

 

 

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/

Sri Aurobindo – the Brahmarishi of Evolutionary Spirituality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

    samadhi of sri aurobindo and mother


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

 Sarvam Shivamayam!

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

 

Teaching the Sacred India Tarot Oct 6-7 2012

I held a workshop in understanding the Sacred India Tarot and how to use it, not only for readings but also as a spiritual process. The event was held on October 6 and 7, 2012 at the World Trade Center in Mumbai. We had 17 participants – all ladies – so the infusion of Shakti into the pack was dramatic and vast.

Shown above is an altar with the two grace cards of the deck created by my friend Poonam Ahuha who organized the entire event with her typical grace and class. I cannot thank her enough.

We had decks and posters of images from the pack available for sale both days. The Ganapati was a favorite, as was the meditating Shiva.

Day One: I had to declaim a bit as some participants were having their first experience with the Tarot and also, I think, my unique take on Indian culture and spirituality! As a group they were amazingly sincere in their desire to learn and evolve.

Day 1 continues.

Day 2 second half. We had got to doing spreads – this is the Swastika spread created by yours truly! We had the inevitable debate that this is the ‘wrong way’. It is somewhat disconcerting to see how disconnected we have become from our own culture and spiritual practices that most Indians would feel the other anti-clockwise swastika is the ‘right’ one. We do our best to spread light one group at a time….

Looking up advanced meanings of the cards

I have very dramatic body language it would seem…

This looks intense but I think it was some sort of point about neatness in spread layouts as the sygil would be disrupted….

Some point being elucidated

Another Swastika spread…

It was a very high intense energy session, a veritable vortex. Jane Adams who illustrated the Sacred India Tarot says that “Readings, especially in a group, energise the deck tremendously” So much Shakti must have infused the deck. It was a real privilege for me to lead this event.

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 is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator for two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Rohit Arya on The Path of Opposition to attain Liberation

Yoga, being what the Japanese call sugoi – both awesome and weird at the same time – has explored all possible methods to reach God or attain liberation. The strangest however is to pick a fight with God and get him to kill you! Called the path of Vipareetha Karani – oppositional action – or the Krodha Marga – the Wrath Path –  it is a peculiar wrinkle in the yogic scroll. Yet it is also consistent with Yoga’s central thesis, all paths, all actions lead to liberation if performed with awareness.

The common examples for this strange path do not rouse confidence in being able to repeat such actions. For the teachers usually fall back upon mythology and cite the usual suspects – Jaya and Vijaya. These worthies were the doorkeepers of Vaikunta – Vishnu’s heaven – and one day they offended some Rishis, who are enlightened sages and also have very touchy temperaments judging by all the evidence! Jaya and Vijaya were cursed to be cast out of heaven and be born multiple times in the three worlds. Birth in such worlds means the accumulation of karma and possible devolution of the soul, forgetting God and the true nature of the Self – i.e. become like the rest of us – so this was serious. Upon consulting Vishnu as to the catastrophe which had visited them, He gave them a mitigating  offer. Many lifetimes as good souls devoted to Him, or 3 incarnations as terrible demons, who would be killed each time by Vishnu. Naturally they choose to become demons.

The late Aghori master, Vimalananda  had a theory that there is nothing so fortunate as being cursed by a Rishi. They are Powers who have evolved even beyond the gods, the devas, so being noticed by them, being acted upon by their Shakti, as in a curse, will always end up well for you. In the interim it may seem like a torrid time, but the conclusion proves you have rapidly evolved! This seems to hold good. Jaya and Vijaya kept incarnating as beings who literally ruled the Universe for a time overwhelming the gods! Such power, glory, wealth luxury and success had never been attained by living beings ever before or since. It is a little hard to feel sorry for them. These are aspirational stories at this point of the 21st.

The first round they incarnate as the Asura brothers Hirnayaksha and Hiranyakashipu and have to be taken out by Vishnu in his Varaha{Boar} and Narasimha{Man-Lion} avatars. They completely dominate the universe before their ends. The second round is as the Rakshasha brothers Ravana and Kumbhakarna and this time Rama has to finish them. As usual they rule the universe in unparalleled splendor before the end. The third time they do not get so much power, they are the somewhat nonentities of the Mahabharatha, Shishupala and Dantavakara, who are only unrelated humans under demonic spirit possession, but still rich and powerful Kings until Krishna puts them down.

Given that in each incarnation the Jaya persona tries to steal Vishnu’s spouse – Hiranyaksha spirits away Bhudevi the Earth goddess, Ravana steals Sita who is her incarnation, and not wanting a repeat Krishna runs away with Rukmini before she could be forcibly married to Shishupala – given this scenario, one wonders what the original sin was. Making eyes at the wife of the boss, who just happens to be the support of the Universe, the rishis seemed to know something. I am just saying. It is merely a theory, and more psychologically consistent. The Hiranyakahsipu/Kumbhakarna/Dantavakra who was Vijaya never had this trouble with desire for another man’s wife – in fact he was always famously happily married and after his stint as Prahalada’s father and being torn apart on the Lap of Narasimha, he spent the next incarnation basically in Yogic trance,{mistaken as sleep} as Kumbhakarna, and Dantavakra, we never know why or what, he is just quietly and efficiently killed by Krishna when he tries to assassinate him.

So these are not hopeful stories for mere mortals. Such a path may be apt for supernatural beings but how is it relevant to us? Ramakrishana was the first to say that the anger they had against Vishnu concentrated their awareness upon nothing but him. Even great devotees did not have such single minded unwavering focus upon God! To be remembered is what God wishes and he rewards that, though the nasty acts they performed have to be paid for with a violent death and collapse of their empires. The Sufis hold similar ideas, one famous poem beginning, “I shall learn devotion from Shaitan…” In their myths, God invited the angels to pay respect to Adam after creating him but Iblis or Shaitan, – Satan- refused to do so. The theologians hold it was his pride; he was a being of Fire, while Adam was merely of Earth, a denser, more trapped level of consciousness.

The Sufis say however that he was standing for a deeper principle out of his devotion – one should bow only before God! They even go to the extent of saying that he sustains himself in his exile with the memory of God’s banishing word – “GO!” These are deep waters indeed, but Goethe has his Mephistopheles present himself as,

Ein Teil von jener Kraft,
Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.

Part of that power which would
Do evil constantly and constantly does good.

––Mephistopheles, lines 1335–6.

So the Vipareetha Karani seems to be an intuitive understanding of mystics.

The incomparable Ramana also spoke about this ‘God wants your attention’ trope. He began by saying that it is very dangerous to curse or abuse or wish ill upon anybody, but especially spiritual people. If you abuse an enlightened man then any negative residual karma within him attaches itself to you, delighted to have a chance to manifest, instead of withering away! If you wish to gripe and grumble and be harsh then do so with God – he only wants you to be aware of him and the sheer intensity of your communication will be taken note of, not your childish behavior! This is hugely hopeful. It also indicates the unique relationship Hindus have with their gods, you can love them and also abuse them. Fear is practically nonexistent. Tantra has an incredible saying in it – “To worship a God you must become a God.” You must raise your internal energies and consciousness until it vibrates at the exact frequency of the energy being called a deva. Then you are transformed by en-theos, the god within. Of course, self -delusion is a danger. So is derailment because power has come into your hands. But as these stories show, the universe has a mechanism to fix that, it is called Karma. Every living thing in the universe is subject; there is no injustice in the end.

Jaggi Vasudev is a great proponent of ‘Intensity’ and he says it is understandable that for most people being angry is their highest experience of Intensity. Many yogis deliberately cultivate this fiery side of their nature, it transforms the inner systems and leads to liberation. So the point of the Vipareetha Karanai is not to become a cosmic gangster, but to Intensify oneself until the Universe has no choice but to give you what you want. The so-called wrath path, the Krodha Marga is therefore one of Consistent Intensity. Great rishis have terrible tempers as a byproduct of their intensity, but their fundamental nature is compassion. The Golden brothers, {Hiranya means golden}, did spectacular penance, actually Tapasya which means “to raise the internal heat” tapasya  described as being beyond the capabilities of the gods, unprecedented. So too with Ravana and Kumbhakarna.

Ravana is probably the most accomplished person in all mythology; he wrote books on medicine, music and dance, invented the Rudra Veena, was a full Master of Vedic lore, and also wrote the Shiva Tandava Strotram, which may be the most popular devotional hymn ever written for Shiva and is a masterpiece of Yoga, being basically a necklace of bija mantra initiations. The best conclusion to puja for Shiva is supposed to be the recital of the Shiva Tandava Strotram. It is only in India that such things are possible!

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

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