The Pupil and His Divine, a Harmony in Five Measures – 1

Sri Aurobindo

 

The Listening Post

[Although formatted to fit your screen, the poem was originally written in 2014. It’s in the form of a dialogue with multiple speakers: the poet, his divine, various people in the audience, including children, and even a hostile being. Paying attention to punctuation and listening to the poem read, the voices dramatized, play key roles in interpreting it.]

You can see whatever you want.
I’m eraser not found you come in here.
We’re a friendly service.
Pull on it make sure it’s there.
It revolutionizes
your whole universe.
Wisdom is as free as doorways,
long direction movement
wrapped around your skin.

What the hell is going on?
That facility to hear playback,
all the universes spinning and you got a sound.
We pop in your head.
It arranges things,
continually adds to your bank account.
Completely unborn children
spend all their time
(Alright then I got plenty of time)
warming up to this sound.
It’s their pleasure arrangement.
Like packed honeycombs they are born.
I’m sorry you’re not very easy to control.
The baby knows a greater TV.
It’s his home channel.

We see our voices,
images in the air on the notebook of sight
the inner eye sees.
They’re often read.
Language can’t describe their variety
unless you had infinity’s notebook.
You can open up this vision,
this paper weight of silence
in the magnet of your thinking
that reaches beyond itself.

Large voices will attract,
entertain your ear.
There is no limit to its development.
You can construe it,
order it around,
when you want it to say something.
There’s mixture there,
an unaffordable see.
It costs dearly vision.

This eye of sight
can see the world in view
and work about to change it
starting with you.
It habits this land,
makes it build bridges
to further understanding.
Low and behold a new bridge is built.

We widen our view.
It goes without thinking.
We are in the cockpit of a larger plane
I’m going to fly around.
We silence our music,
give it greater strings to play.
Then it listens further
than the frontiers of time.

I see the images:
a waterfall of words that pressurize silence;
large freedom hills
naked as the Sun;
a camera that reads music.
Those’ll get yah warm.

A greater life is calling.
We seem to think we’re fine.
I’ll destroy your music
If I can’t stomach your thought,
so the Pied Piper says.
Wouldn’t want to hear about it first.
We’re not living.
We’re dead ants.
We suffer our measure
and drink it as wine.
Come to think of it,
we’re fine.

Can we escape?
We have this infinity’s ear
that helmets in the sight
to what larger there may be.
I’m giving you airplane.

I mean what stopped it?
It’s not broken.
We can try to remember it
some close to a dream.
It slips in like a spiritual thought
and says something new.
The listening is active but your father can’t come in.
Thought will override the program.
You must keep it on its knees.
We wait our season.
Right in the place where people are talking,
you give it an in-look.
That means you wait for something to happen
in the beginnings of sleep.

His day would go quickly he was trying to clean up.
Not a hat could be found.
He reached into his vision.
Just take that other one.
Just take His one.
I’m not going to talk to you about it
off guard.
A teacher does my thinking in moments of silence.
He is my vision’s partner.
We dock a few lines.
Ever hear of the master worker.
I’m the arrangement.
He’s actually there.

One hundred:
I can hear a reflex pointing our research first.
It aggrandizes the dime.
This snake has many things
at its garbage disposal.
Open your eyes and smile.
Village your truth.
Do you hear mouth here?
I hope you’re able to separate your hairs,
I mean lines.
A rough text point,
this signals your thinking.

We infinity our truth.
These are infinity’s guidelines.
I hold them out straight.
Infinity would never believe it.
You’re supposed to catch on.
I’ve rounded your thinking
with the history of milk.
You must be a pauper to drink it.
It orders only silence.
You listen in need.

We pull the kid out.
I’m about your thought,
your merry-go-round.
I follow the leader
of what you drink.
There caution sorrow,
disappointment’s ring
if you go off on some tangent.

Listen to spiritual practice.
You’d need to listen wide.
A dream fashions from this same fount,
and you can take us anywhere.
I come from a higher place than that.
I come from infinity’s window.
I’ve ordered your thinking
along these lines:
there is a listening post,
your higher heart.

Good word.
Sit in there
come clean,
Recover.
I can get richer,
but I’ve spent all my dime.
Listen again.
To be read over,
listening silence.

Help You From the Rear View Mirror

(The full movie can be seen here: https://youtu.be/dFyt4ejRiJI The article on the film was originally posted in July 2015 at: https://theawakenedstate.net/help-rearview-mirror/)

Who’s Driving the Dreambus? (2009) That’s an insightful and inviting title for a film that interviews some of the people in contemporary non-duality spirituality (Advaita) who say or are said to be Awakened: Tony Parsons, Jeff Foster, Timothy Freke, Genpo Roshi, Gangaji, Toni Packer, Amit Goswami, and Guy Smith. It’s described by the filmmakers as “a feature-length documentary exploring life’s most profound mystery, ‘Who am I?’”

Explore that mystery it does, and from an extraordinary perspective: a rare station of consciousness experienced by people from all faiths and all cultures down through the ages, hence panhuman, one considered spiritual or elevated because it’s beyond the ego, a state ontologically hard to define and equally difficult to divine who’s actually there and who’s just able to sound like they are, difficulties that have been a major source of debate and division in spirituality since the beginning I’d imagine because we’re talking about realization, here called Awakening.

While the film does explore the ontological question, the latter question of which of those interviewed is in that state and who isn’t this film does not bridge or even discuss. Only the title suggests it, asking, from one possible interpretation, which one of those interviewed is driving the dreambus, that here meaning something in the neighborhood of the bus to Awakening, in other words, who is Awakened? And when you interpret the title as asking is there anyone driving the dreambus (if anyone’s really there in the driver’s seat at all), dreambus here meaning this dream of a body and a world, neither does the film bridge existence, nor, in my view, even the spiritual path.

According to those interviewed there is no spiritual path (or anything else: you, I, or the world) because everything is one, or it just ‘is’, some mystery we cannot hope to penetrate. For us staring fruitlessly at that impenetrable mystery, it boils down to a nullity of everything in oneness or ‘isness’, and in fact when your consciousness is seated there you experience that nullity, and you no longer have a self-reflective consciousness, no I or inner chatter, hence Silent Mind and no-self it’s also called, and it’s as though you live in the infinite vast because there are no objects in your consciousness and no boundaries between you and everything else save the body and some little sliver of something never in view.

It’s quite a shock to go into the Silence, what it’s called in other circles, and if you visit that place if only for a moment your whole view of things shifts to that ‘nullity in oneness’ when you return to normal mind, so convincing is the experience, like you know it’s the background of everything, or so it seems, a pure undifferentiated consciousness, basic raw awareness and nothing else, the One, who doesn’t from that perspective even appear aware, since all sense of God and soul vanishes too with the loss of a self and a center.

If this really were the ultimate place in consciousness and oneness we can get to and dwell in, in all infinity and beyond, in all the universes and what’s bigger than universes, then I’d say mainstream science is on the right track with its reductionist materialism, reducing everything to material process, meaning that everything is the result of that, consciousness too just the interaction of chemicals in the brain and spinal column. And I’d say that because it amounts to the same thing as science in saying consciousness has no higher purpose, no intent in it or beyond it except that which hapless creatures such as ourselves put in it, creatures that in reality do not even exist: in other words, meaninglessness, where nonexistence is supreme.

However, in that station itself, and here’s the difficulty of seeing beyond it, there is that peace that passes understanding and in most cases, not all, an unbounded joy not dependent on outer circumstances. Attachment and desire are no longer a problem because they don’t arise. Contentment in nothing and the sheer freedom that entails makes not only ego consciousness but also any other possible station appear a state of bondage, and so it’s understandable if you’re there or have been there to feel that there’s no station beyond (because there’s nothing here in the first place!).

Experientially, though, at the fullest manifestation of the station described above, at its deepest in emptiness and silence, which none of those interviewed seem to have experienced or to even know about, not only the mind shuts off but the respiration and heartbeat too, and, if conditions are right, you feel at the base of the spine something like a rocket blasting off (the kundalini smote stark awake), a rocket that appears to take the seat of the consciousness up out the top of the head. I say appears because I aborted the ascension when I experienced that deepest state of Silent Mind (you can read a brief description in a published essay here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/winged-information-a-peer-into-the-mountaintop-donny-duke/)

Based on that experience and ones where I did go into the regions (or chakras) overhead, though not from the Silence, and what I’ve read of others’ experiences, it stands to reason it’s from that deepest emptiness that you go up out through the crown chakra to either leave phenomenal existence in Nirvana, if that indeed is the case (I suspect it’s not so final), or go up into the higher self, or Supermind as it’s called in an Indian yoga. It depends on where you’re orientated to go, on your soul’s orientation, not your mind’s choice.

Like being in the emptiness, this is not iffy business, and there’s no guessing involved. It cannot be confused with an out of body experience because you remain very much within You, though an overhead extension of you you’re probably not aware you have. You go out the top of your head, all your awareness, the seat of your consciousness, and see from there, hear from there, have no feeling of being in the body below you other than seeing it down there inhabited by the little self shut up in its little prison, though this describes an unmanifested Supermind several meters above a little self on the earth plane. What position it has in relation to the body when it’s manifested is beyond my knowledge, but, according to the Integral Yoga, the full manifestation would mean a divinized body and earth too, what the hope of the New Age and of the kingdom of heaven on earth hint at, though Supermind is beyond heaven and the cosmic Gods, beyond the confines of the cosmos. You can find a detailed description of that experience here: http://www.shift.is/2015/03/whats-bigger-than-the-universe-hang-on-whats-bigger-than-everything/

In that higher self you do experience an individual existence, though it’s egoless like the Silence, know yourself as the true individual that is evolving little selves through time, that line of many lives you ride above, bringing them to it, an individuality based on oneness, the One, but here it’s aware, not a nonexistence as it seems in the emptiness, though it’s still an ever impenetrable mystery. You know yourself as a symbol of That, as if it has impossibly provided a driving car of timelessness in time to bring all to it.

One in the essence of consciousness means, if you really are, that you see and act at multiple poles of experience at the same time, have an all-vision of everything happening and all-being of everything that exists, or have some concentric degree of that like in Supermind, and you can see through anything you look at, for example see through whatever roof or ceiling separates you from your little self, seeing the essence or nature of anything that meets your gaze. The utter stillness, peace, joy, and compassion for all are no longer grounded in emptiness but in fullness unimaginable, fullness of being.

Nor is this the ultimate station of consciousness, what you know seeing from Supermind because you’re pointed more up to the regions above than down to the little I, unlike the cosmic Gods, who are primarily concerned with little lives like ours. There’s no end to the evolution of consciousness. From Supermind you go to ever more all-encompassing stations of consciousness all the way to the One, to express in a linear fashion what isn’t linear, which, as it appears from this ‘one pole of experience’ at a time existence, you can never get to but only are always becoming. In Supermind itself, however, you are the One, and that there is an ever more all-encompassing seeing of the ‘all at once’ does not negate either your being or becoming, contrary to non-identity described above where you aren’t the One or anybody else for that matter.

In no-self you only see oneness and live in its vast store content with your see, and, also in contrast to Supermind, you’re both in the body and in the one pole of experience existence, though without an ego or any other sense of self and identity. Another contrast is in the emptiness you’re in a blissful ignorance unaware and unconcerned with either life after death or the past and future, as those interviewed repeatedly point out. According to the Integral Yoga, that has as its foundation a knowledge based on many experiences of the higher self and not only on one as I have, in Supermind, however, nothing is unknown to you, though you might have to bring something into view if it’s not, and you live in the now of the eternal moment, in undivided time, which is a seeing of the past, present, and future at the same time, what can only be possible when you move, live, and have your being in multiple poles of experience simultaneously, naturally.

I’m not a fan of New Age spirituality, but I give it credit for keeping this hope alive, this ancient and hidden knowledge of who we are up top, albeit confusedly. Contemporary spirituality as a whole laughs at New Age thought, but it cannot see out of that box of emptiness, due to such an influence of Buddhism, particularly Zen, on spirituality today. In fact, it’s often said, by those interviewed and others similarly minded, that seeking is fruitless because you’re already there (but ask yourself this: is it manifested yet?), and so spiritual practice, if it’s admitted at all, is centered on mindfulness and/or meditation, stilling the thought, not identifying with the I or any separation or distinction.

If you practice Avaita, or non-duality spirituality, you may or may not think, read, eat, exercise, or whatever, in a way that’s conducive to that mindfulness, but chances are you probably do. You don’t, however, as rule accept divine or spirit aid, the guidance of your soul, the help of your animal powers, use sequent number, synchronicity, power spots, and significant calendar days such as full moon, your birthday, the solstices and equinoxes, or even give serious attention to dreams, visions, and inner voices (all of which I use avidly). Here too New Age spirituality saves us from putting to sleep completely the ways and means of ascension, although at the same time it has everything thrown together in such a pell-mell fashion it’s not easy to choose between what helps and what definitely doesn’t.

Even to go into that place at the top of mind I’ve called the emptiness and the Silence (there are so many names for it, attesting to its panhuman existence) you need all the help you can get, and so how much more so to get to Supermind, or, to say it differently, not only to get to that emptiness but through it to the fullness of Supermind, to be orientated there. The trick is to be able to discern what help is natural to our individuality and humanity as whole in a divine transformation and what is not or frivolous. It’s tricky, like walking a razor’s edge, because when you begin to open the inner consciousness so many things come flooding in it seems pointing to your heights, not only the all too plentiful purposeful distractions orchestrated by powers hostile to divinity, but also “distractions in gold cuffs” my muse (the muse of poetry) calls them, because they can also be divine distractions, like getting sidetracked from your own divine transformation with Jesus, Krishna, some other divine name, or a divinely inspired book, though avoiding all the distractions, divine or undivine, in no way precludes an indispensible, integral, and unconditional surrender to the Supreme, without which a divine transformation isn’t possible. Nor does it preclude using and adoring some divine name as your guide to get there. They just wouldn’t be the goal.

If, however, you are content with gold cuffs and the cosmic Gods (“the story Gods” in my muse) and want nothing more than to draw ever nigh to some divine person, have no drive to exceed the human formula and go up into Supermind (who would also be coming down to you), then you’ll be in good company and on hallowed ground, but just make sure it’s your soul’s choice. A good question: where would aliens or channeled entities fit into all of this? Or, I should ask, do they?

So far this may seem like just a bunch of philosophy, but shot through it are brief descriptions of my personal experience (which is by no means exhaustive), else I couldn’t describe what I’m describing, and so it’s more the result of experience than thought, hence engaged philosophy. Though we all have our personal truth, our uniqueness in Spirit, that silent empty station of consciousness is at the top of everyone’s mind, since it’s truth in its most basic sense, meaning simply what is, not a name or ideal to believe in, and everyone has a higher self above them, as both become visible when you reach them with the seat of your consciousness, your awareness. In other words they exist independent of belief.

You don’t have to take my word for it; see for yourself if you are able. I didn’t believe in Supermind before experiencing it, had no idea it was even there. I did know about the emptiness, but upon experiencing it I found it to be as ineffable and hard to describe in language as mystics for thousands of years have said it is. Nothing really prepares you for its hard to bear intensity. For reasons that probably has to do with enabling me to see out of that box of emptiness, seeing something’s beyond it, I first experienced Supermind and then a year later the Silence (several times since that initial supramental experience I’ve gone overhead some distance, though not yet again to that height). Even having seen what’s above it beforehand, that emptiness was still overwhelming. I greatly needed spiritual aid.

After the Silence I was devastated. I had seen that the world is an illusion and a cheat, myself included, and so there was no reason to continue spiritual practice, or even school for that matter (I was studying Classical Greek in the university at the time). In fact, there was no reason to do anything except wait for death as comfortably as I could. If I would’ve stayed in the Silence, while adjustment to it would be difficult, it would’ve been much easier, since you are like I said content, and so the meaninglessness is just that, nothing at all. It’s hard to give the picture of my utter despair because it wasn’t depression; the peace from the experience lasted weeks.

About two weeks after the experience, as I was on the verge of stopping everything, sadhana, school, what have you, I flung myself on my bed one afternoon and was enveloped in flaming vision. It happened without any trigger. All was in storm at sea at night, and a purple sky was sending down lightning bolts on water just a slightly different shade of violet than it, water that was mad with waves. Riding on the waves not the least bothered by the storm was a young Caucasian woman on a white horse dressed in traditional American Indian buckskin, not as a squaw but as a warrior. As I looked into her eyes I found myself looking through innumerable eyes at the same time, hers included, not all eyes there are but saw as she saw through all the beings like her, and it was as though they were one being seeing and experiencing existence through all those many eyes, though each one was its own distinct personality acting on its own scene, which was in identity-unison with all the rest. Just a flash that seeing was, and then I was back behind my own eyes looking at her again riding so expertly that storm. She looked at me and gave me a smile that held within it all I hold dear about love, and she said, in a line of poetry I lost, something like, “Nirvana expresses itself through the forms.”

The vision vanished just as quickly as it had appeared, but it put my whole world back in place. It used the word Nirvana for That because I was studying Buddhism at the time, and voice and vision uses what you know and believe in. To interpret what she said I was told that existence is not meaningless because the One, or whatever you want to call the Absolute, expresses itself through existence, or samsara as the Buddhists would call it. In other words, these symbol lives and worlds are real because That is behind them, what they are in reality. So the world and its inhabitants and all above it are a living symbols and not illusions, and that makes all the difference in the world.

That woman on the horse was a representation of my Supermind, what became apparent to me afterwards, whose nature is expressed in the symbols of the vision, i.e. a rider of storms, feminine in a masculine role, and ‘Western’ or ‘White’ but dressed in the life of native or tribal culture, all of which is proving to be my basic nature also, of this little self too. Though at the time I called her (them) the Nirvana people, because I was using the symbols of Buddhism, all those many eyes were the one Supermind, something I only glanced at when I was in Supermind so briefly I was there and such a shock it was just to see through everything as I did. At the time I had no name for it, as I was years from encountering the Integral Yoga, and I just called Supermind ‘who I really am’.

When I was able to integrate the experience of the Silence with that of Supermind, in my understanding, I left Buddhism’s ideal behind, though its thought and technique to get to the emptiness are unparalleled, which I yet use, since that no-self is a way station on the way to the Truth Consciousness (Supermind) and must be experienced and surpassed. Also a good question: where does God fit into the picture? I think I might venture to answer that one. Supermind is the first rung on the ladder of God above or beyond the universe, in other words, God from there on up.

Now, after saying all this, I can go back to the beginning and say that there is no spiritual path, not because all is one and therefore negated, but because all is One and at the same time the path to return there, and that’s a supreme positive. So life itself is the spiritual path, afterlife too. Existence is that whether we realize it or not. We evolve despite ourselves, although we can certainly speed things up conceiving of for convenience sake a spiritual path. And while on that path there are check points, like emptiness and Supermind, as well as other things, the soul change (surfacing the soul) for one, they aren’t the destination, just take you closer to it, and so they hold no all-importance, and making them the goal is as much of a trap as ignoring them altogether, believe me, but it is good to know of them, since your understanding and not only your heart take you forward on the path, and what the mind sees it can identify with, like what the soul envisions creates a world or a universe.

So relax, though you are God like many think, maybe even yourself, you’ll only know yourself God when you can see through innumerable eyes at the same time, and you would also have superpowers.

As far as the question of being Awakened or not, I think the film in question gives a good picture of how different that is from being in ego consciousness when it shows that not as a philosophy but as a radical change of consciousness on the part of those interviewed. Are you there?

I’ll finish with poems from my Twitter feed https://twitter.com/donnyduke7/media

Original Sin

My must suggested the subject, and I made the shot and developed it

Original Sin

In a sunny corner of remote earth
the bite of it all
challenged orthodoxy.
This was in Nature’s plan.
Green-gold it moved.
This conducted harmony
operating on discords –
not a packaged plan,
neither from the stars.
It brought in cities beyond the universe.

We bask in its revelry –
a riot of God
on lone isles of trust.
Wonderful it wore shoes.
Naked impulse did not light its lamp.
A renegade,
it brought all to bear on noontide.
Light held its room.

Yes, we sing in darkness’ lair.
We deliver anthems
without knowing on which we rest.
It came to us unclothed,
and we saw naught but sin.
What distance orthodoxy
from all that abounds in this place.

 

This poem came complete via the inner voice while I was sitting and waiting for a room darshan on Mother’s birthday at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 2015. It was originally posted in the old blog of Douglas and I, The Chipmunk Press. It bears mentioning that I went to the Samadhi the next day after writing the poem and inwardly asked where I should put the poem, and I heard my muse answer:

To the question in Sri Aurobindo's room:
are you there?"

Mahakali On The Wall

Recently here at Harm’s End we were able to finally do something we’ve wanted to do for a while which is upgrade our satsung room with some dark blue carpet and a fresh coat of white paint on the walls. We also got some nice meditation cushions, and the final touch was some nice pictures of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo to hang on the walls.

To get the pictures Donny and I went to a place in town called Harpagon Workshop, which is a department of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and which has a very large photo gallery with thousands of pictures of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of all different sizes. In addition to shopping for the satsung room, I was also on the lookout for one more picture for my room, one that would be directly across from me as I’m sitting in my chair. Shortly after we arrived at the gallery one picture really popped out at me of the Mother standing at the top of a staircase. I was drawn strongly to the picture, and thought it would be good one for my room.

Later on, as Donny and I were admiring the picture newly hung on my wall, he told me that this particular photo was the first image he ever saw of the Mother. It had been on the cover of a book called The Sunlit Path, which is a compilation of the Mother’s writings. I was also already familiar with the photo as well as that book, but Donny told me something I didn’t know about it, and that was that it was taken on the Kali Puja day when the Mother came down the stairs, and then gave blessings to all the ashramites. I found that very interesting since I had drawn the card that represents Mahakali1 that day from The Eternity Game, and I took it as confirmation that this indeed was the photo that was needed for my room. I also thought this could herald more involvement from that particular aspect of the Divine Shakti in my sadhana which is good news since the name of that card in The Eternity Game is ‘Power’ and its aspects are ‘Transformation’, ‘Rapidity’ and ‘Height.’ In the description of the card Medhananda states that:

Her way is a rapid transformation by the sudden and immediately effective removal of all obstacles opposing her divine will.2

For that to happen though:

she insists that we take our seat on the highest heights of our consciousness; only then can she shatter our limitations and smallness. Only when our aspiration mounts like a flame will she remove the enemies from our path.3

So getting Mahakali’s help isn’t easy, but maybe I’m nearing the point where that sort of decisive and irrevocable help is possible. I hope so. I did have one experience of Mahakali’s help a year or so ago on a day when I was caught up in a strong movement of anxiety. I had drawn the Mahakali card for that day and remembering that prompted me to call on her for help. It wasn’t instantaneous, but shortly after that the anxiety quickly lifted leaving me feeling peaceful. That wasn’t the end of my trouble with anxiety, but it showed me the possibility of Mahakali’s intervention.

It bears mentioning as an endnote to this post that after these events occurred I saw they would make a good article showing synchronicity, and had been planning to write it over the coming weekend. On Saturday I also drew the Mahakali card, which prompted me to follow through on writing the article, and I also took it as a sign that writing it was timely and fit with my process.

Notes and References

  1. Mahakali is one of the four aspects of the Divine Mother referred to by both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their writings and talks.
  2. Medhananda, The Eternity Game, pg 53
  3. Ibid

 

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.

Experience on the Summer Solstice

 

I feel there’s a reason why ancient cultures gave such importance to astrological events like equinoxes, solstices, full moons and such things as planetary alignments. Basically they’re days of power, a day you can get a boost for your sadhana or your dream life if you’re receptive. Usually for me, if there’s any effect at all during these times (and a lot of times there isn’t), it’s on the level of dreams. I’ll have a powerful dream or a lucid dream. However during the last summer solstice, which was paired with a full moon, I had a little spiritual uplift that I think was shown in a dream I’d had the night before. The part I’m going to share however is just the end of a much longer dream since it’s only the end that’s really relevant as far as the spiritual uplift that day was concerned.

I put my backpack on and walk down the street and eventually find myself in some woods.  There’s a stream there and in the water I can see these birds, about twenty of them, that have the heads of peacocks but bodies more like an ostrich’s. They’re about as tall as a man and in the dream I regard them as peacocks.  One of them comes up and peers at me curiously though a gap in the trees.  I can see that we’re at a delta where this stream meets the ocean.  I go down into the water which is only about a foot deep and a very beautiful bluish green.  The whole scene is very beautiful as well. The peacock/ostrich birds are moving out into the ocean, and I’m walking with them.  Though the birds are big they don’t seem aggressive nor do they seem to be bothered by me.  If I remember correctly their ostrich-like bodies are black or greyish black.  It’s getting close to sunset and I want to watch the sunset with the peacock/ostrich birds.

One thing I’ve started to notice recently and have shown in a couple of recent blog posts is how a beautiful natural scene in a dream seems to be showing a nice ‘scene’ trying to manifest inside you in your waking life that day or a day or so afterwards. I believe that was the case here. So let me tell you what happened. On the day of the solstice, in the late morning, I went for a ride in my kayak. While I was out, I encountered one of my favorite water birds around here, a roseate spoonbill, roosting in a mangrove tree. I don’t often see them when I’m kayaking so I just sat there for a while admiring the bird and its beautiful pink plumage. When I returned home I noticed I felt cleared out as I often do after a spin in the kayak, since I can get fully immersed in nature. I noticed also that my thinking was elevated, and I found myself naturally pondering some things I’d recently read by Medhananda and Nolini Kanta Gupta and was looking at the world through the lens of those ideas. It didn’t require any hard mental effort or tapasya though. It was just happening naturally and spontaneously. For the most part I can’t remember exactly what I was reading at the time, but I do recall one little aphorism by Medhananda that was on my mind:

Spirit is tremendously solid.
It is like diamond.
In comparison
matter is only a cloud
of probabilities.1  

A little later I took our dog Rosie for a walk. As we walked I was really feeling the stillness in the plants, and while that’s not a common experience for me it wasn’t the first time that’s happened, and I’m sure a lot of people have felt the stillness in plants. This time though, I could also feel the joy that was in the plants, and I caught it a bit by contagion and was feeling joy inside me as well as I walked. I was also appreciating how beautiful and unique the plants were, seeing them the way you might when tripping on psychedelics but to a much much lesser extent. There was one group of plants I encountered that were nothing but huge leaves on stalks which had been planted to hide a fire hydrant. When I looked at those plants, there was something so delightful about those big leaves that I couldn’t resist the urge to go over and touch one, giving a little laugh as I did so and feeling delight similar to what I think a small child does when they do something like that. That delight continued on the walk, and the uplift continued after that. It might have still been there a little bit when I went to bed. I honestly don’t remember now. It wasn’t there the next day when I woke up though.

So what I think happened here was I was able to open to the amplified energy that was available that day and benefit from it in this altered state of consciousness, which was foreshadowed by the beautiful sunset scene in my dream. This idea that a beautiful dream scene is symbolic of a beautiful uplift in waking life is still a working hypothesis for me, but one I’m getting more and more evidence to support. Recently, I had another dream where I was looking at a beautiful blue lake ringed by breathtaking mountains on the far side, and two days later there was a definite shift in consciousness in the evening, a state of peace and quiet. It wasn’t as strong as other experiences like that I’ve had, but it was definitely there.

One thing that I feel is important to point out is the beauty of these dream scenes is beyond the greatest beauty you can see in the physical world or even in normal dreams. I can’t really explain it any better than that, but if you start to have dreams like this I think you’ll see what I mean, see that it’s a certain class of dream or has a certain type of dream substance that can embody that beauty. It might be a glimpse of what Sri Aurobindo calls the subtle physical, but I can’t say for sure.

Regarding the peacock/ostrich birds in the dream I should point out that Sri Aurobindo has said that a peacock is a symbol of spiritual victory and that fits with the fact that I had a little spiritual opening. The fact that the rest of the body was like an ostrich is interesting since the thing that most quickly comes to mind when I think of the symbolic meaning of an ostrich is sticking your head in the ground. If I’m remembering correctly that the color was black that would indicate a hostile force. So I’d guess the element of spiritual victory is still marred by an element of sticking my head in the ground and maybe also a hostile influence. I think the birds in the dream were also connected to the encounter I had with the roseate spoonbill even though the dream birds were completely different. I always enjoy the sight of a roseate spoonbill because pink is the color that symbolizes the psychic being or soul in the integral yoga.

So in closing I think it’s important to try and keep yourself clear every day and not just on days like full moons and solstices. Knowing, however, that you can get a little boost on days like that is a good motivator for keeping yourself clear especially on those occasions.

References

  1. On the threshold of a new age with Medhananda, pg 165 by Medhananda

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