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Posts tagged ‘Embodied’

  1. Heart Practice: approaching the tantric body-in-practice – II

    “Enveloping, embracing, and caressing me both inside and out, moving in ripples along my skin, flowing between my fingers, swirling around my arms and thighs, rolling in endless eddies along the roof of my mouth, slipping ceaselessly through throat and trachea to fill the lungs, to feed my blood, my heart, my self. I cannot act, cannot speak, cannot think a single thought without the participation of this fluid element. I am immersed in its depths as surely as fish are immersed in the sea.”
    David Abrams, on air, The Spell of the Sensuous

    “The tantric practitioner lives within the maṇḍala, lives within the yantra, lives within the vision of divinity such that the symbolic world of the text becomes the lived world of the body. Representation in text, icon and rite coalesce in the experience of the lived body.”
    Gavin Flood The Tantric Body

    To continue from the previous post in this series I now want to focus on approaching particular tantric body-practices. Continue reading »

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  2. Heart Practice: approaching the tantric body-in-practice – I

    “The most immediate and concrete means of persuading people of the reality of divine power is to involve their bodies.”
    Thomas Csordas, Somatic Modes of Attention

    I’m going to progress this series by considering various themes related to the “tantric” body-in-practice. This is a massive subject, and I’ll begin by outlining what I mean by the “body-in-practice” and why this is a useful way of considering practice(see Tantra keywords: Embodied for some earlier reflections). Attempting to discuss the various different modes of tantra practice can be a tricky proposition, as it is, I often find, difficult to seperate them easily – as they work across different domains. In exploring Nyasa for example, at some point one will have to deal with how nyasa intersects with mantra-vidya. In considering mudras, it might be desirable to discuss how mudras ‘work’ across several registers simultaneously – from the broadly cosmological, the social, and the personal; as energetic movements through space and and at the same time, public, dialogical gestures. Continue reading »

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  3. Heart Practice II: the goddess dwelling in the heart

    The Heart is the subtle vibration of the triangle which consists of the incessant expansion and contraction of the three powers, and it is the place of repose, the place of supreme bliss. This very Heart is the Self of Bhairava, of that which is the essence of Bhairava, and of the blessed supreme Goddess who is inseperable and nondifferent from him.
    Abhinavagupta, commentary on Paratrisika-laghuvritti, transl. Paul Muller-Ortega

    So, Mind, call out “Kali! Kali”;
    meditate on the Mother’s form.
    In this way, that cloud-coloured Syama
    will dance, always
    dance, in your heart.
    Kalyankumar Mukhopadhyay (transl. Rachel Fell McDermott)

    Placing one’s chosen deity in the heart is a core element of tantra practice (see, for example Reading the Saundarya Lahari – III-2 for some related discussion and an example from the Todala Tantra.) I have been doing this now (as the beginning phase of formal puja, as formal meditation, and, increasingly, as a day-to-day, moment-by-moment rememberance) for nigh on twenty-five years, so it’s probably high time for me to make some reflections on this particular aspect of sadhana. Continue reading »

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  4. A few links of note

    Here’s a few links to articles which relate to some of the themes on enfolding that have captured my attention of late. Continue reading »

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  5. Multiplicious Becomings: tantric theologies of the grotesque – IV

    “Dismantling the organism has never meant killing yourself, but rather opening the body to connections that presuppose an entire assemblage, circuits, conjunctions, levels and thresholds, passages and distributions of intensity, and territories and deterritorializations measured with the craft of a surveyor.”
    Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

    “The Supreme Lord fashions the body and the senses, corresponding (to the sphere of) duality by the power of Maya, while through His power of knowledge He generates Mantras. Their body is the self-awareness which is the expanse (akasa) (of consciousness), and they denote the wonderful diversity of things.”
    Ksemaraja, commentary on the Spandakarika (Dyczkowski, 1992)

    For the final part of this extended essay I will focus on Sitala and her relationship with disease and possession. Continue reading »

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  6. Metaphor, Metonymy & tantric interpretations – II

    It seems likely, for example, that advanced practitioners of yoga and other psychophysical practices would develop rather distinctive image schemata appropriate to their experiences and sadhana, transmitted by specific gurus and teaching lineages.
    Quoted from Glen A. Hayes in Whicher, Carpenter, p164 (2003)

    Continue reading »

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  7. Metaphor, Metonymy & tantric interpretations – I

    “metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” George Lakoff & Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By

    In a post last year I made a brief mention of Lakoff & Johnson’s groundbreaking work on embodiment & metaphors in relation to understanding tantric terms. This is a theme I want to expand on in 2011, so for the first post in this series, I’m going to discuss some thoughts I had after reading A.K Ramanujan’s famous essay “Is there an Indian way of thinking”. Continue reading »

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  8. Tantra keywords: Embodied

    “I praise the circle of deities innate within the body, an elevated assembly continually present, the end of everything, vibrant and the essence of experience.”dehasthadevatacakrastotra

    For this post, I want to discuss some “Tantric” themes which relate to embodiment – in particular, whilst stressing that Tantra constitutes an embodied practice, I also want to point towards a key difference between South Asian and “western” esoteric epistemologies – that underwriting Tantra’s embodied practice is what might be called an embodied theology. Continue reading »

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  9. Theorising Practice II: Habitus/Hexis

    One of the consequences of the mind (theory)-body(practice) divide in contemporary approaches to magic (and more widely, spiritual development in general) is the notion that the spiritual/magical is set apart from the material/everyday world. There is a pervasive belief that materiality (and the concerns that relate to it) is a burden to be overcome; that development requires that the concerns of the body be transcended. This kind of discourse tends to privilege abstracted knowledge over bodied experience. Yet all practices (including those understood as inwardly turning, such as meditation or visualisation) involve our bodies. Continue reading »

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  10. Scented bodies

    This morning, descending the pristine stairwells of the office, I’m hit by a blast of smells from the restaurant on the ground floor. Continue reading »

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