Teenage Assault

 

Recently I had a line followed by a vision from my muse that I think is an example of prevision. Though as prevision usually goes, I didn’t know what it meant until after the fact. The line and vision were:

Tomorrow morning.
(Vision of a group of teenage or 20 something boys throwing rocks at a building.)

A lot of times I wouldn’t have given much thought to that line and vision, but for some reason I had this feeling something was going to happen, and whatever it was, it was represented by the vision of the boys throwing the rocks at the building. What I was thinking it might mean though would be some kind of attack on our house from the outside. If you’ve read this blog you know that Donny has put some ideas out there that a lot of people would find hard to accept, and so we live with the possibility of some kind of backlash coming from that sooner or later. As it turns out the vision portended an assault on the house, but of a different kind then I was envisioning.

So the morning after the line and vision something good happened at first, and that was that our friend Midhun, who is on break from University, showed up to stay with us for a while. What’s good about this is that while Midhun is still a teenager he’s made sadhana the aim of his life. So despite his age, Donny and I regard him as a fellow sadhak and were pleased by his surprise arrival. Later on though two other boys, Asa and Sudhan, who we’ve known since we started our kids program twelve years ago, showed up unannounced as well wanting to hang out for a couple of days and play video games and otherwise indulge their vitals. I won’t go into details, but that made things a bit of a circus, one that really disturbed the house for a good part of the day. Since my return to India, Donny and I try to limit the presence of extra kids in the house since it shifts the balance of the energy in favor of the vital. Or I should say more in its favor because the vital always has the upper hand to some extent, since Donny and I are outnumbered here by people with no interest in the spiritual life.

When I told Donny the line and the vision he agreed with me that it was prevision and symbolic in the sense that, while no one literally threw stones at the house, we still had a ‘teenage boy assault’ on the house. I wasn’t able to interpret the vision or make use of it before ‘the assault’, so I’ve offered this example as another illustration of how things are arising from the inner and forecast symbolically in inner phenomenon such as dreams, visions and muse before manifesting in the outer. Though I don’t have much experience to speak of in the matter, Donny can attest to how the muse can be very specific and correct about things like who will be showing up at our house, but it’s also often the way I describe here, symbolic and the context not apparent. And sometimes, like in this case, I got the ‘what’ right (a disruption to the house), but was wrong about the ‘how’. I think though these are just points to be aware of and not get flustered about as one carries on with the yoga and learns about the workings of these things. I think what’s more important is your motivation, so what I do is try to remember to continually offer my muse and my dreams to the Mother, and ask her to use them to provide guidance and help me progress toward a change in consciousness.

A Film Camera For Mugu

About nine months ago or so I was still living in the USA and corresponding via email with Donny about one of our young people at Harm’s End, Mugu, who is 17. The issue was Mugu had dropped out of the class he was taking to prepare him for what in India is known as the 10th Standard examination. It’s the equivalent of a high school diploma in the USA, and is a difficult exam requiring a long preparation, and Mugu didn’t have either the initiative or the discipline for it.

So we were wondering what to do with Mugu, and I brought up as I had in the past that Mugu seemed to have a thing for photography. Rather than putting him in some kind of class, Donny put forth the idea of getting him a film camera and teaching him film photography. My response was that nobody uses film cameras anymore, and that they’re a major expense compared to a digital camera, which, after the initial investment in the equipment itself, can take thousands and thousands of pictures. So I basically vetoed the idea, and as I would find out later Donny was actually okay with that. He thought a nice digital camera would be fine as well.

Then nothing happened for a while after that. I didn’t bring it up again because even though I was okay with a digital camera, I’m a cheapskate, and it would be a big chunk of change for a good digital camera with multiple lenses. I also know how irresponsible Mugu is, and was worried about the camera being lost or stolen. Then Donny brought up the film camera again, and again I argued against it. So he sent me a formation he had gotten from his muse on that matter, one that he felt had come from our teacher, the Mother, which said:

A digital camera
not the appliance he needs.
A professional camera
with lenses
develops his creativity.

Don’t mix tobacco in it.
A digital camera,
there’s a
camera
ain’t a camera
his art would say,
his art,
not mine, yours
or ours —
his camera.

 A boy and his needs.
He needs a camera
just to help him
become a good man.
Become a good man,
that’s our field.
Creativity lost his show
there’s no camera.
Digital not included.1

Now as clear as that was I still wasn’t ready to give up my position on the matter, mainly I think at this point because I didn’t want to be wrong, nor to be overruled by someone’s else’s guidance. My vital also has some problems with jealousy over the fact that I can’t get a formation like that from my muse, can only get some lines here and there or small groups of lines, and that also made the whole thing hard to swallow. So I continued to argue, pointing out that what might be spent on film alone over the course of a year would buy a very nice digital camera with multiple lenses. So Donny sent me another formation that had come a while before but that he hadn’t shared with me. This one said:

Professionality
a camera,
a camera
professionality.
Digital camera
is the wrong lens.
Now get it
Like you’re supposed to
a lens camera.
Douglas don’t want to buy the camera,
Don’t want to
Because it doesn’t make sense
to his practical
intelligence.

 Creativity deserves a chance.
You’re not thinking how involved he’ll be
with a professional camera.
A great occupation
color
photography.
Develop sway talent.

Would you listen?
Douglas has his own opinion.
How are we doing today?
Develop his own opinion.
That’s roll call,
Orange wares. 

Grand market
shopping
must be in town.
Oh it is.
Professional camera
with lens,
telephoto one,
wide angle,
and the one you use mostly. 

A lot of creativity
has room to play.
Amsterdam
doesn’t take him home.
Creativity rules.
What do we do for money?
Trust sweetheart,
just trust
and work.
There’s sadhana.2

Well after reading that I gave in, though the vital didn’t like it at all. By that point I was planning to come to India, but I wasn’t sure when, so Donny and I started looking online for a used film camera in India rather than waiting for me to buy one in the USA and bring it when I came. The search proved much more difficult than either of us were expecting and when we finally ordered a camera we didn’t read the fine print in the listing on ebay.in, and got one that was sold “as is”, and was basically broken. At this point I thought I could ask my mom if I could have my grandfather’s Canon AE-1, which had been sitting in my dad’s closet unused for years, to give to Mugu, and she said I could. So when I came to India back in December I brought that camera with me.

Then we ran into more obstacles. Both Donny and I had assumed that in a country as large as India there would be websites where you could easily buy the chemicals and darkroom equipment, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. You could find things scattered around on amazon.in and ebay.in but a lot of it seemed to be coming from the USA. So we went to a website in the USA, and could find everything we needed, but the shipping was almost as much as the cost of the chemicals and equipment. We had decided to just eat the cost, but then it occurred to me to call Auroville and try to find out if anyone there had a dark room, and knew how to order the supplies in India. From Auroville I got the name of an American man, John, who has lived in Pondicherry for many years, and was formerly an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I gave John a call and he invited Donny and I over to his house where we had a long talk, and he also gave us the name of man in Mumbai who could supply us with everything we needed. The way it all wonderfully worked out was just more confirmation for us that we were indeed doing the right thing with the film photography.

So we got all the chemicals and equipment to start Mugu with black and white photography. All that remained was a dark room, which is almost completed. Once it is John has offered to come over and give us some pointers from his long experience with film photography. There’s every reason to hope this will be a very positive thing for Mugu, and give him a much needed focus and creative outlet, one that will help him, if Donny’s muse is correct, to be a better man.

Notes

  1. Copyright Donny Duke
  2. Ibid.

My Mind Relief From Madness

About a month ago my mind and vital was in the grip of something. I don’t remember what now exactly, but it was something that had been troubling the  mind and holding it under siege for a couple of days. I wanted to get free of the movement but was having trouble doing so. Then I received these lines from the muse in the morning:

Don’t muddy the mind courts (Came at the end of a dream where I was watching a performance of the hip hop group Run DMC)
My mind relief from madness
Mooning.

The first line’s advice was pretty clear, and motivated me to really try and throw the disturbing thoughts out of my mind, but I was having only limited success. Then all of the sudden, in the evening, I noticed my mind got abnormally clear, and it didn’t take much effort to keep it clear. There was no peace or joy or anything, just a quiet, fairly focused mind. Still it was a welcome respite.

Sri Aurobindo says, among other things, that the moon is a symbol of the spiritual consciousness which is above our normal human mind. One of the main movements in the integral yoga is for the sadhak to not only ascend to this level (or levels I should say) of consciousness, but also for it to descend and transform these lower levels of mind, life and body as well with its peace, silence, light and bliss. So what happened here I think is I got ‘mooned’ by a descent from the spiritual consciousness which quieted my mind and gave me relief from the mind’s madness. It didn’t last and was gone the next morning, but it broke the momentum of the disturbing thoughts, and I was able to move past them. I imagine it was important that, prompted by the muse, I was making a strong effort to throw out the thoughts myself. That I feel opened the door to the descent from the spiritual consciousness.

Now as the reader has no doubt noticed, the first line came at the end of a dream. This is a fairly common occurrence, but I have to admit I often can’t make any connection between the lines that come at the end of a dream and the dream itself. A lot of the time the lines don’t seem to have anything to do with the dream.  Here though I can see a correlation between mud in the mind and hip hop music, which overall has a pretty low vibration, one that appeals to the less enlightened parts of the human vital.

Does anybody else see anything in these lines that they want to share in the comments?

I Want Struggles To Be Light

A few days ago this line from the muse came to me in the morning.

I want struggles to be light.

You can definitely play around with multiple interpretations of a line like this because of the different meanings for the word ‘light’. One interpretation jumps out right away if you take ‘light’ in the sense of something being not heavy or not dark in color. Read this way the line is saying that I want a lighter load of struggles.  There’s no doubt I feel that way often, and I’m sure most people reading this can relate to that sentiment. Another idea though along these lines has to do with my belief that what really makes struggles and pain so dark and heavy is this consciousness we live in which is a state of identification with this mind and body. But as many spiritual teachers have said throughout the ages, if you can enter into a consciousness where you’re identified with the divine, or oneness or whatever you want to call it then you realize that this mind and body isn’t you, is more like a shirt you’ve put on, and you don’t take what happens to them so seriously anymore. Then, even though life’s challenges are still there, they’ve lost their heaviness, and you no longer suffer from them. You deal with them from a state of Light or Knowledge and not a state of Ignorance.  Hand in hand with that idea is a complementary take on the line where ‘light’ means spiritual illumination. This gives the sense to me of struggles being spiritually illumined and transmuted.

Another interpretation that occurred to me takes ‘light’ in the sense of a ‘means of igniting something’ as in “Hey buddy, you got a light?”. It’s a less obvious reading of the line and one that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me if I hadn’t been thinking a lot about something I’d read in the Mother’s Questions and Answers a few days before. I’ll share the quote first before I get into the interpretation.

Quite naturally we ask ourselves what this secret is, towards which pain leads us. For a superficial and imperfect understanding, one could believe that it is pain which the soul is seeking. Nothing of the kind. The very nature of the soul is divine Delight, constant, unvarying, unconditioned, ecstatic; but it is true that if one can face suffering with courage, endurance, an unshakable faith in the divine Grace, if one can, instead of shunning suffering when it comes, enter into it with this will, this aspiration to go through it and find the luminous truth, the unvarying delight which is at the core of all things, the door of pain is often more direct, more immediate than that of satisfaction or contentment.1

So like the Mother says here I think the line could be interpreted in the sense of changing my attitude so that struggles and pain become more a means of advancing on the spiritual path, more a means of igniting my aspiration to go through them in order to reach that ‘unvarying delight’ than something that holds me back when I have  resistance to the pain or depression about the pain. Backing up this idea, I feel, is an experience I had with Medhanada’s Eternity Game two nights before I received this line and a few hours after I’d read the above quote from the Mother. That quote is part of a longer passage where she says a number of things one of which is “When pain comes, it comes to teach us something.”2 As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, probably my biggest difficulty is contending with the constant chronic pain in my back and knees. So that night after reading the Mother’s words I asked the Eternity Game, “What’s the purpose of this pain?” The card I drew was ‘Dwarf’.

Europe 1997.3 25

In the Eternity Game this card represents the mental being, and as you can see its aspects are ‘Quest’, ‘Next Step’ and ‘Intelligence’. Medhananda gives detailed commentary on all the cards in the game, but he also gives short one sentence descriptions.  The short one he gives for the ‘Dwarf’ card is ‘advance, take the next step.’3 I took this as confirmation that I have to try and take the mental attitude the Mother recommends towards the pain so it becomes more a means of progress. I should point out that for me the fact that my reading of the  Mother’s words was followed by synchronicities with both the Eternity Game and my own inner guidance in just a matter of a few days stresses the need for this change in attitude. It’s not easy to do, and to truly surrender this pain is something I’ve been aspiring for for a while. Hopefully this will help me to take the ‘next step’ with that.

So that’s my take on things. Please feel free to share other ideas in the comments!

References

  1. Questions and Answers 1957-1958  by the Mother pg 41
  2. Ibid pg 42
  3. The Eternity Game by Medhananda pg 133

 

 

Divine Whispers: Allegiance

Allegiance

A number of years ago I wrote an article about a synchronicity I had with the book Star Wars: Allegiance in which I tried to show how just about anything can be a source of guidance. Since then that book has been sitting in a drawer in the guest bedroom of my house, and while I’ve donated many other books like that to the library, and more or less stopped reading that type of book, I still found it hard to part with it because of that connection.

About a week ago though, I decided to give the book to Nick, the son of my co-worker Rhonda. Nick loves Star Wars, but like many in this ipad generation he never pulls his head out of his tablet or his laptop and actually reads a book. I decided I would give the book to him in the hopes it might stimulate some interest in reading.  So I took it to work and did so. After he’d left to catch the school bus Rhonda told me that that day was actually Nick’s 13th birthday, and that I’d brought him a birthday gift without knowing it. That made me smile and was confirmation for me that giving him the book was the right thing to do, even if he never reads it. But more importantly this little wink from the universe gave me a chance to marvel once again at how there’s a plan, a purpose in the unfolding of the universe. I believe that purpose is for this universe to evolve into what, for lack of a better phrase, you could call heaven on earth, a world of light, beauty, goodwill, peace and harmony.

It seemed appropriate in light of all this to repost this article, called Divine Whispers: Allegiance, on this leap year day, which is celebrated in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as the Golden Day. Though progress has been made since I wrote this article eight years ago there is still a ways to go. I take this Golden Day and this posting as an opportunity to rededicate myself to the work of giving my allegiance completely to the Divine.

Divine Whispers: Allegiance

As a boy, one of my greatest loves was Star Wars, and I spent many hours immersing myself in that fantasy world as I played with my toys. Eventually I gave up my toys but my hunger for Star Wars found a new outlet in a succession of new novels and comic books, authorized by George Lucas, chronicling the further adventures of Luke, Han and Leia. A time came though when I even gave those up as my attention turned more towards things divine. Recently however a new Star Wars novel entered my life in such an incredibly synchronic way with a message for me that was so direct and personal that I realized yet again that you can’t discount anything as a potential divine messenger. To illustrate that fact using this particular occurrence is the purpose of this article.

Our story begins not long ago in an american book store far far away. On that day I walked into Barnes and Noble booksellers with $8 left on a gift card and an intention to spend it. As soon as I passed through the door my gaze fell upon a display for the newest Star Wars novel in paperback. It’s name was Allegiance. As soon as I saw it I felt something click inside of me accompanied by this strong feeling that this was the book I had come here to buy. In addition, the whole display for the book seemed to pop into focus in a way that made it stand out sharply from everything else around it. I paused for a moment to reflect on this as it seemed to me to be a very clear intuition that buying this book was in tune with my process. The mind however couldn’t see what purpose it would serve to read something mainly designed to entertain the vital, so I decided to have a look and see what else was available in the store. It seemed to me I should try to find something that had a bit more food for the soul.

After browsing for a while I was able to find only one book that seemed like it might be worth reading. So I went to the science fiction section where they had a few more copies of Star Wars: Allegiance. My vital was of course attracted to the book but it seemed to be willing to live without it. Thus I took the book in my hand and with a rare attitude of complete detachment concerning the outcome I asked the Mother to give me a sign that she wanted me to buy it. Having done that I opened the book and began to read. What I read was a passage where Luke was receiving inner guidance from the voice of Obi Wan Kenobi speaking inside of his head. Now I am not unacquainted with startling synchronicities, but I must admit that I was blown away by this. What clearer sign could I have gotten than Luke receiving guidance from his teacher? Though I was still unclear as to what purpose reading this book would serve, my doubts in regard to buying it were dispelled. Without further hesitation I went up to the counter and bought the book.

I found it quite easy to fall back into my old vital groove and I devoured the book ravenously. As I read I remained attentive in order to discern what the book had to teach me. One of the noteworthy things about the book was that it explored the phenomenon of voice and vision in a way I had not seen in other Star Wars novels. The passage I read at Barnes and Noble was one of several in which Luke receives guidance in this manner. Star Wars is of course quite yogic in some respects i.e. the Force, the guru/disciple relationship etc., but it was still interesting for me to see this coming up in a modern work of popular fiction. To me this would seem to indicate that this type of occult phenomenon is on the rise in the human collective. I found myself wondering if this was all the book had to show me, but it turned out it had a much more personal and specific message for me, one regarding my allegiance.

The events in Star Wars: Allegiance take place shortly after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope. In the book a disgruntled Han Solo is vacillating on whether or not he wants to fully commit himself to helping the rebellion. There is a struggle between his mind, which knows he should help the rebellion, and his vital, which would rather be free to pursue his own interests.

It took me some time to see it, but finally it hit home that the divine wanted to show me that I was in the same situation as Han. Let me explain. Here in Pondicherry I am involved in a collective sadhana with my fellow Chipmunk collaborators Donny and David. As David pointed out in the December 2007 issue of The Chipmunk Press it’s not an easy situation for any of us. As a result I had a mental/vital split like Han. My mind for the most part had consented to the group process since it knew that it was following the will of the divine. The vital however was not happy about the level of difficulty and sacrifice involved and desired (much of the time) to be free of the situation and responsible once again for no one but myself. These sorts of mental/vital splits are par for the course for a struggling sadhak, and of course the best way to deal with it is to throw out the vital uprisings and suggestions. To do that effectively though the mind has to be resolute and mine was still somewhat divided. Thus the antics of the vital were at times given free play and the result was a lot of personal suffering.

I had been aware of this problem for quite some time but found myself unable to resolve it until I read Star Wars: Allegiance. Seeing the divine point out my divided state in so blatant and conscious a manner had a definitive impact on the mind and a lesser but still significant effect on the vital. The mind has now taken a firm resolution to accept my place in the divine scheme of things and to throw out the rebellious suggestions of the vital. The vital itself is not so one pointed and still has its movements of revolt, but there is a more general attitude of consent to the situation even if it is a somewhat reluctant consent. Whether this state is permanent only time will tell. It seems however that something fundamental has been achieved.

By the end of Star Wars: Allegiance Han has finally made a decisive turn as well. In the final pages of the book Princess Leia asks Han if for the moment he can commit to just one person even if he can’t commit to the whole rebellion. Han’s comrade Chewbacca was formerly a slave of the empire and is very enthusiastic about the rebellion. Therefore, Leia asks Han to commit to Chewbacca, and out of love for his friend he does so. As I read this I realized I was getting one more piece of advice. I was being reminded once again that I don’t need to commit myself to a cause or to a process; I owe my allegiance to one person and one person only, the Mother. The rest is just details.

In conclusion I feel it is necessary for me to offer a word of caution to the reader. External signs and happenings are a means though which the divine can communicate with us. I have found however that to rely on them too heavily can lead one astray. I don’t know if Sri Aurobindo would have done so but I consider this type of phenomenon to be within the realm of the intermediate zone. That being the case there is the risk of much misguidance and confusion when one places too much confidence in these things. I know this from personal experience. Thus, I would recommend moderation with such things as the “Mother please give me a sign” method which I employed in this example. It is possible however to receive reliable guidance in this way. Just try to make sure in those moments that you are surrendered and without preference like I was and you will get the guidance you need if you truly need it.

Living The Dream (literally) As A Street Performer

Dreams can offer guidance on all kinds of things.  Many years ago I had a dream that sent me on a brief career as a street performer.  Let me tell you the story.

Back around the turn of the century, I was living in Cusco Peru on tourist visas.  Those visas were only good for 90 days, so every three months I would head to the Bolivian border to go out of Peru for a few days and then come back with another 90 day stamp.  On one of those trips I was staying in a hotel in Copacabana on Lake Titicaca and had this dream.

I’m in front of Buckingham Palace in England and I have a crowd around me. I’m street performing telling jokes and doing pretty well.  When I’m finished I’ve got a large stack of dollar bills for my efforts.

Since I was a teenager I’ve loved telling jokes and could remember just about any good joke I’d hear.  Before the dream, I’d never thought though of doing it as a busker.  I didn’t really need the money, but it seemed like a fun way to meet people and hopefully pick up some chicks.  So I started to compile a list of my jokes, but it wouldn’t be until I left Peru for good some months later that I’d begin my career as a street comedian as I traveled through Bolivia.  I started out working in plazas in front of big crowds and passing the hat like I was doing in the dream, but gave that up in lieu of going to places where people were sitting outside drinking and then telling a few jokes at each table.  As the dream indicated I did pretty well, though the dream exaggerates as dreams often do.  I had good jokes and I am funny, but the secret of my success was I told the jokes in spanish, and for the Bolivians my gringo accent was hilarious.

Later when I got to Brazil, I was able to speak passable portuguese in a few days and continued my comedy career.  In fun loving Brazil though, I found myself being invited up on stage at times at bars and clubs and handed the microphone to tell a few jokes.  I also did a few actual shows where I was the headliner.  As in Bolivia, I was a hit with my gringo accent.

Since I was doing it mainly for fun and not for money, I mostly worked on weekends.  All that preparation was good though, because after a few months in Brazil I suddenly found myself cut off from both my bank accounts and having to rely on jokes to survive.  My debit card for my account in the United States had expired a few months before, and since I had a bank account in Peru with over $5,000 in it I hadn’t bothered about getting another one.  The ATM fees for the Peru account we’re quite high though, and I would only withdraw money from it once a month.  That was fine for a while until suddenly I found the account had been frozen due to lack of activity and was basically told I would have to show up in Peru to get it unfrozen.  So for about two weeks, as I waited for a new bank card from my USA account and fruitlessly tried to get the Peru account reactivated, I lived off jokes.  It wasn’t easy, and if I hadn’t been staying with friends I would have had a hard time paying the cost of a hotel and covering my food too.  Finally Fed-Ex brought my new debit card, and I celebrated by buying pizza for my friends. Eventually too with the help of another friend I was able to get my bank account in Peru reactivated and withdrew all the money as fast as I could.

After this financial crisis my comedy career continued in Brazil as well as in a later trip to Central America. While in Central America though, I came to the firm resolution to leave things like sex and partying behind to begin the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s yoga in earnest.  It would still be a few months before I went to live at the Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham Ashram in Lodi California, but that was the turning point.  After going to Lodi and later to India, I continued to tell jokes from time to time to friends and people I’d meet, but after a while that just dropped away and I haven’t told anyone a joke in years.

In closing, I should say that, as in a recent post I wrote on dream drugs, I haven’t shared this dream and subsequent happenings because they hold any insight as far as sadhana goes.  It’s just to show people what’s possible, and also to show how dreams meet you where you are.  To be honest, when I look back at that epoch of my life, I still can feel a little vital thrill at the memory, but the more enlightened parts of me wish I had spent that time doing other things.  I guess though I just wasn’t ready to leave the vital life behind, and my inner being knowing that provided the guidance via the dream.  And while I am funny and the gringo accent was truly hilarious, the other and perhaps primary reason for my success was that it fit with my process, was what I needed to be doing.  I think that’s why in the dream I was in front of Buckingham Palace, it was my ‘royal road’ at the time.  And though I’ve moved on from telling jokes, the comedian is still there and he comes out sometimes in my writings and video work in the form of satire.  Perhaps one day I’ll return to performing comedy, but if so it will definitely be in a different form, one that would have the divine and the quest for the divine in some way as its basis.  We’ll see what unfolds.

The Strength is on the Distant

This line of guidance from the inner voice came to me some months back:

The strength is on the distant

The first interpretation that jumped out at me was the yogic technique of distancing yourself from undesirable lower movements, looking at them as not oneself and detaching rather than struggling with them. Looking at the line that way helped me to free myself from the weakened but lingering siege of a strong vital reaction that had gotten in the day before the line came.  Do any other interpretations jump out at anyone?