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Posts tagged ‘Practice’

  1. Bringing the gods to mind: on visualisation – I

    Seeing is one thing,
    looking is another.
    If both come together,
    that is god.

    If you look for an elephant,
    he comes as an elephant.
    If you look for a tree,
    he’s a tree.
    If you look for a mountain,
    he’ll be a mountain.
    God is what you have in your mind.
    Annamayya

    Reflecting on the theme of beauty back in May reminded me that I wanted to start a series of posts on the subject of visualisation – particularly with respect to tantra sadhana which – together with gesture and utterance – is one of its central practices. Continue reading »

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  2. Recollections of an occasional pagan activist

    Scene: meeting of Leeds Anti-Fascist-Action, some time in 1986:

    “Okay, I’ve been asked to come and facilitate a magical action. I know some of you are very skeptical about this, which is okay by me. Feel free not to participate. You might think it’s all a bit silly. You could just think of it like some of the Agit-Prop stuff Danbert and co. did in the town centre a couple of years back. A lark, nothing more.

    So … you won’t mind then when I ask you to meditate on the swastika….” Continue reading »

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  3. On Numinous Sound: some opening thoughts on Mantra

    The King of Mantras, O dear One! is at all times engendered by the union of Śiva and Śakti, and by that of the Yoginīs, the Vīras, and the Vīrendas. Thus constituted, delighting in the utmost bliss, the Goddess, whose nature is vibration [spanda], of innate beauty, once known, is to be freely worshipped.
    Yoginīhṛdaya 2, 17-18 (transl. André Padoux & Roger-Orphé Jeanty)

    At the end of the last post in the Saundaryalahari series, I promised that I would say something on the subject of mantras. This is a vast subject, and even with over a quarter-century of study & practice at my back, it is still a topic which I would approach only slowly. Before diving into the historical & philosophical complexities of mantra, I thought I’d begin then, with some reflections on my own early encounters with mantra-practice. Continue reading »

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  4. 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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  5. Reading the Saundarya Lahari – XV

    “…those who always ponder over this [fivefold act of the Lord], knowing the universe as an unfoldment of the essential nature [of consciousness], become liberated in this very life. This is what the [sacred] tradition maintains. Those who do not ponder like this, seeing all objects of experience as essentially different, remain for ever bound.”
    Kṣemarāja, Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam

    Now for some brief discussion of verses 26-27 of Anandalahari. Continue reading »

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  6. 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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  7. Practice notes: glittering

    The ancient masters have shown how to suppress it [the mind] through detachment and repeated practice. [Instead], we will teach how to obtain suppression with no effort. (v.12)
    This is just like what happens when a rumbling thunder gradually vanishes: once the thunder has completely vanished, the mind too, due to its resting on it, becomes extinguished. (v.14)
    The adept should fix his exclusive attention on any pleasant sound coming to his ears, till the moment in which the sound, having disappeared, becomes the cause of the supression [of the mind]. (v.15)
    In this practice, the sensorial faculties, which are the instruments of perception, are to be brought to a state of ‘equality’. Equality comes from escaping from attachment, as well as from the extinction of aversion. (v.18)
    If one is running without being determinately aware of his own efforts in making steps, and, consequently has his mental activity free from intentions and constructs, the supreme Self shines in him.(v.24)
    Whatever longing he may experience for any object, like food and so on, he should satisfy it as far as possible. Thus he will become full and without support.(v.28)
    Verses from Svabodhayamañjarī (transl. Raffaele Torella)

    Continue reading »

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  8. Practice Notes: Joy in meeting

    “On the occasion of a great delight being obtained, or on the occasion of delight arising from seeing a friend or a relative after a long time, one should meditate on the delight itself and become absorbed in it, then his mind will become identified with it”.
    Vijnanabhairava (transl. Jaideva Singh) v71

    In the previous post for this month I gave some short reflections on an “opportunistic practice” – grounded in verse 92 of the Vijnanabhairava. I’ve been reflecting on the possible consequences of this kind of approach to practice – and I think it is less about achieving – temporarily – a particular state, condition, or even a “result”; but rather, a process of habituating oneself to a general “stance” or attitude – that any moment of engagement can (potentially) unfold into an intensification of wonder, joy, delight (see Tantra keywords: Relational for some earlier reflections).

    Verse 71 of Vijnanabhairava roots this unfolding of delight in everyday, human encounters and the recollection of of those moments of feeling: on the occasion of delight arising from seeing a friend or a relative after a long time, one should meditate on the delight itself.

    i don’t think this requires any further comment.

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  9. Practice Notes: Opening to sky

    “When one concentrates on one’s self in the form of a vast firmament, unlimited in any direction whatsoever, then the citi śakti freed of all props reveals herself”.
    Vijnanabhairava (transl. Jaideva Singh) v92

    Continue reading »

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  10. Heart practice: On the Adoration of the Senses – II

    The worship of oneself must be done with elements that are pleasing to the senses.
    Yoginīhṛdaya, 3.8a

    Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer, my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture, my walking a ceremonial circumambulation, my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice, my lying down, prostration in worship, my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself, let whatever activity of mine be some form of worship of you.
    Saundaryalahari, 27

    In the previous post in this series I gave a brief discussion on what could be thought of as a ‘tantric’ perspective on the senses. Now I will move onto describing the “short form” of this practice, which takes the form of a short puja sequence. Continue reading »

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