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Posts tagged ‘Practice’

  1. Book review: The Wanton Green

    The Wanton Green A key feature of contemporary Paganism is our relationship to place. Curiously though, there seems to be little in the way of in-depth exploration from within the Pagan community of how we make and sustain our relationships with places, nor of place-making as a social or political practice. There are some excellent scholarly books examining place-making – such as Corinne G. Dempsy’s Bringing the Sacred Down to Earth: Adventures in Comparative Religion (which I reviewed
    back in July) and Adrian Ivakhiv’s Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona which argues that “sacred spaces” are heterotopic – where meaning is created, contested, and negotiated by different groups. Hopefully, The Wanton Green (Mandrake Books, Oxford, 2011, 222pp, p/bk) – an anthology of contemporary Pagan writing on our relationships with places – will inspire further explorations of Pagan approaches to place-making. Continue reading »

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  2. Heart Practice – I

    “The emissional energy of Sambhu thus abides everywhere. Out of it [arises] the ensemble of motions of the liquid bliss of joy. So indeed, when a sweet [song] is sung, when [there is] touching, or when [there is the smelling of] sandalwood and so on, when the state of standing in the middle [the state of indifference] ceases, [there arises] the state of vibrating in the heart, which is called precisely “the energy of bliss,” because of which a human being is with-heart.”
    Abhinavagupta, Tantraloka

    “A heartfelt practice requires attentiveness to the stillness and movement of experience – to the multiple tightenings, contractions, fluidities and expansions of immediate somatic experience. Attentiveness is the doorway to a new curriculum of breath, silence, and listening – listening in the body, listening to feeling, listening to the ordinary experiences of life – hearing [and seeing] with the heart. It is in the ordinary, disregarded or forgotten phenomena of the everyday that we discover insight and freedom. From the ordinary we distill the essence of human/heart experience.”
    Diana Denton, The Heart’s Geography: Compassion as Practice

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  3. Practice Notes: Wot, no circle?

    “Infinite and endless creations are threaded on me as pearls on a string. I myself am the lord that resides in the causal and subtle bodies of the jivas. I am Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. I am the sun, moon, and stars. I am the beasts and birds, the Brahmin and the untouchable. I am the noble soul as well as the hunter and the thief. I am male, female, and hermaphrodite. Whenever there is anything to be seen or heard, I am found there, within and without. There is nothing moving or unmoving that can exist without me.” Devi Gita

    Pretty much all of the Pagan public rituals I have participated in over the last decade or so have shared a common feature – some kind of circle – which does not feature in my own practice of tantra puja. Whenever I facilitate open pujas, some of the commonest questions that arise are related to the differences between contemporary Pagan ritual processes and tantra puja as I practice it, so this post is an attempt to reflect on these very basic distinctions and how they are underwritten by very different ritual ontologies. Continue reading »

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  4. Practice notes: on the garland of names

    “What you’ve done can’t be helped;
    the day is almost over.
    On a jeweled island
    Siva sits in Siva’s house.
    Contemplate Her always.
    Prasad says,
    Durga’s ambrosial name liberates.
    Repeat it without ceasing;
    drench your tongue in nectar.”
    Ramprasad Sen (trans. Rachel Fell McDermott)

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  5. Approaching Lalita: three modalities

    “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 is mine be some form of worship of you.”
    Saundaryalahari

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  6. Dialogue II: Teacher-pupil exchanges in the Upanisads

    “Just as the plot or story of my own life is created by other people – the heroes of my life, so aesthetic vision of the world, its image, is created only by consummated or consummatable lives of other people who are the heroes of this world. The first and foremost condition for an aesthetic approach to this world is to understand it as the world of other people who have accomplished their lives in it…”
    Mikhail Bakhtin, Art and Answerability p111

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  7. Intensities: Spreading outwards

    We did the ritual at the stump of Jenny’s cherry tree, and afterwards walked in silence down to the beach. Continue reading »

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  8. Tantra keywords: Relational

    “This vision, relational being, seeks to recognize a world that is not within persons but within their relationships, and that ultimately erases the traditional boundaries of seperation. There is nothing that requires us to understand our world in terms of independent units; we are free to mint new and more promising understandings. … the traditional view of the bounded individual need not be eliminated. But once we see it as a construction of our own making – one option among many – we may also understand that the boundary around the self is also a prison.” Kenneth Gergen, Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community (p5)

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  9. 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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  10. Tantra keywords: Wonder

    I’m working on an article at the moment, attempting to explain what for me, are some of the basic orientations of my approach to Tantra practice. Rather than seek safety in definitions, I thought it’d be more interesting to examine my own perspective on Tantra practice by highlighting a few keywords – and so I’m beginning with Wonder. onwards…

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