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A Woman's Guide to Tantra Yoga
By Vimala McClure, Michael B. McClure
New World LibraryCopyright © 1997 Vimala McClure
All rights reserved.
Your Perfect Nature
Some people, no matter what you give them, still want the moon.
— Denise Levertov, Adam's Complaint
Gaze, for a while, at the vast expanse of the ocean. Its surface is turbulent, waves crashing, spewing millions of water droplets into the air. But as you dive deeper, the turbulence subsides; at its depths is silence and peace. Ordinarily you may experience only the surface of your mind's potential — the crashing waves of emotion, millions of thoughts like tiny drops of water flying in every direction. Meditation helps you dive deeply into your mind, and in the process, uncover hidden treasures.
As you discover the deeper aspects of your mind, you become better able to control your thoughts, your actions, and your reactions to the external world. "Who am I?" "Where did I come from?" and "Why am I here?" are questions whose answers are revealed as your feeling of individual existence merges with infinite awareness.
In another way, your mind is like the ocean reflecting the image of the moon. It is possible to see the reflection of the moon on the water only when the water is calm, not when the waves are turbulent. Similarly, pure consciousness is only revealed when your mind is calm and still, when the agitated waves of thought and desire cease.
The old materialistic concepts about the origin and composition of mind and matter are dissolving as we learn that matter is nothing but bottled-up energy, a pattern of waves in endless motion. Everything, from matter to thought, is made up of these waves. Physicists are beginning to recognize that intelligence is at the source of all creation. Physicist Lincoln Barnett was perhaps speaking of the connection between matter and spirit when he said, "In the evolution of scientific thought one fact has become impressively clear: there is no mystery of the physical world which does not point to a mystery beyond itself." Through the science of intuition, or the practice of meditation, you explore these mysteries, discovering the subtle substance from which the universe evolves, which we call infinite consciousness, or Brahma.
YOUR PERFECT NATURE
There is a hunger for limitless freedom and happiness within every person. We seek freedom from the bondage of time, place, and person. We want to surmount time, replacing walking with supersonic travel; we try to expand our spatial boundaries with instantaneous communication and transport systems, stretching even into outer space. We attempt to surpass our personal limitations with dramas, masks, stories, personal love (trying to merge with another) and with endless attempts to create the "new me." All these attempts lead to exploration, invention, and efforts at social, political, economic, and sexual freedom. But the only absolute freedom is to go beyond material progress and reach for expanded consciousness.
This reaching, this search for something greater, is our innate nature, our dharma. Everything in the universe has its nature. Dharma is that which maintains the structural integrity of something, without which that entity could not exist. The innate nature of fire is its capacity to burn. The nature of most of the animal kingdom is to eat, drink, procreate, and sleep; various species have their species-specific dharma, such as the honey-making nature of bees.
The most significant quality that sets human beings apart from animals has to do with the evolution of our minds; we can call it our "perfect nature." We, too, have the animal instincts for self-preservation, but we also have a longing for the Great. It is that part of you that remains unsatisfied with appeasing the animal instincts, that propels you toward fulfillment — the search for infinite happiness. But unending happiness and self-actualization can never be yours by simply fulfilling your desires with material things or intellectual ideas, which are finite. Even personal relationships are temporary; your family and dearest friends will one day pass away. The only way the desire for infinite happiness can be fulfilled is by establishing yourself in the infinite, by merging your consciousness with all-knowing supreme consciousness. Whether you consciously know it or not, this is your goal. This is where your perfect nature is taking you.
The Four Parts Of Your Perfect Nature
According to the ancient teachings of Tantra, there are four components of your perfect nature: expansion of mind, vibrational flow, selfless service, and consciousness. Meditation is the practical means whereby your perfect nature can be realized. Meditation helps you, step by step, through specific practices, to achieve that realization.
First you learn the practice of mental expansion (called vistara in Sanskrit). As you go about your day-to-day activities the mind is absorbed in countless objects and sense impressions. No matter how hard you try, you will find it impossible to stop this natural flow of your mind. It is always jumping from one thing to another, often in such a manner as to work itself into a frenzy, creating both physical and mental stress. The Indian saint Ramakrishna once characterized the mind as "a mad monkey stung by a scorpion." The mind must always have an object; you can use this natural tendency and give it an "infinite object" on which to focus.
The ego, or the part of the mind that can say, "I exist," is always focused on the external world. The consciousness — the part of you that can say, "I know I exist" — witnesses the ego's activity. When you meditate, you reverse the outward-going process, training your mind to focus instead on the infinite, beyond form or thought. The ego makes you feel as if you are a separate individual entity. It must have a finite object or thought with which to be involved in order to maintain its existence. Given infinite consciousness as its object, the individual sense of "I" merges with the infinite "I." It is unable to contain this feeling of infinite awareness within the limited scope of its existence. What evolves from this practice is a state of absolute peace, which is beyond description because it is beyond the busy workings of the mind.
The outward expression of mental expansion is the realization of the oneness of all creation. This universal outlook prevents you from encouraging any division in humanity. You are inspired from within to work for the unity and elevation of all and to remove the barriers that separate living beings from one another. Expansion of mind lends compassion to your outlook and enables you to accept the problems of the world as your own.
The second aspect of your perfect nature can be called "vibrational flow" (called rasa in Sanskrit). This sounds a little esoteric. What does it mean? We know from physics, as well as from Eastern teachings, that everything in the universe is composed of vibration.
According to Tantra, your mind, as well as the physical universe, is made of the thought waves of infinite consciousness. Nothing is truly external. In each being, the combination of all its wavelengths — physical, mental, emotional — is its individual vibration. Each of us, because of our previous experiences, our environment, our desires, and stage of development, has an entirely different vibrational expression than any other being. But infinite consciousness is beyond all of our individual tendencies. Infinite consciousness is the combination of every vibration in the universe; its vibrational flow is the flow of the entire cosmos.
Another important component of meditation comes into play here: "living meditation," the practice of merging your individual rhythmic vibration with that of the infinite, while trying to keep your mind immersed in that flow at all times. You come to realize that your individual flow is that of the Supreme, and so all of your actions are in harmony with it.
Happiness, attraction, or congeniality results when the vibrational expression of one being is harmonious with that of another. Conversely, irritation, stress, even hatred results when those same vibrational rhythms oppose or clash with one another. You've probably experienced a sense of being "in tune" with someone ("I liked you from the moment I met you") — or the opposite ("The minute I saw him, I knew we wouldn't get along"). When you are able to bring your individual vibrational rhythms into harmony with infinite consciousness, an inner calm and happiness ensues that is not affected by the finite world. Your understanding of others increases. You are in harmony with the creator of all vibrational expressions, and you are able to adjust your own expressions accordingly. Thus, you are no longer tossed about by attraction and repulsion, but empathy, understanding, and deep love for all creation gives you a pleasure much finer than you have ever experienced.
The third part of your perfect nature is selfless service (called seva in Sanskrit). Service is giving fully of yourself without expectation of reward. It is the result of mental expansion and vibrational flow. The person who meditates regularly eventually gains the expansion of mind to perceive consciousness in all creation. She also gains the harmonious relationship with the universe that enables her to work selflessly for its evolution and transformation.
Service and meditation are like two lovers who are never happily separated. It is impossible to progress in meditation without developing the impulse to care for others; the universal love that grows as a result of the mind's expansion compels us to serve. Service is an extension of meditation. The thought, "I am an expression of infinite consciousness, serving the infinite in you" helps to uplift the mind and prepare it for meditation. When you serve, your thought is that "infinite consciousness has manifested before me in this form in order to give me a chance to serve." In this way the limited ego is kept in perspective, the mind is immersed in the thought of oneness, progress in meditation is assured, and your service ensures the progress of your fellow beings.
The fourth and final aspect of your perfect nature is actually the goal — infinite consciousness (parama purusa). It is your very essence. It is perfection. Although every living being, every atom, cell, and subatomic particle, every rock, every plant, everything in the universe is in essence that consciousness, we humans have the unique capacity to know our divinity, to realize our perfection in the spiritual realm. This faculty also gives us a responsibility to the world in which we live: to develop ourselves to fulfill our great potential.
This sense of oneness with the infinite is more than mood-making. Fritjof Capra writes, in The Tao of Physics, "The basic oneness of the universe is not only the central characteristic of the mystical experience, but is also one of the most important revelations of modern physics." Many physicists and others who study the origins of the universe are coming to the conclusion that oneness is the natural state from which everything arises.
Meditation is not a magic cure-all that can be taken in doses to work overnight. Your approach is definitely an important factor in your selfrealization. Although there is no failure in meditation, your attitude can make the difference between ease and difficulty. Cultivating the right frame of mind is very helpful if you are serious about continuing your practice, because it supplies the internal inspiration and enthusiasm that will fuel your meditation and color your thoughts and actions throughout each day.
The essence of Tantra Yoga is the joyous affirmation that "there is nothing that is not divine." Instead of proclaiming, like many traditional philosophies, "God is not this, God is not that," the Tantric affirms, "All is God; I am God." By recognizing that all forms in the universe are manifestations of the same consciousness, your attitude becomes positive and dynamic. You see the universe as the arena for spiritual endeavor. Perceived and utilized properly, it reveals, not veils, God. Rather than concentrating on admonitions of "don't be this way, don't do that," you concentrate on the positive, using all your physical, mental, and spiritual potential as part of your path. Meditation is not a process of elimination, but of inclusion, expanding your awareness of that consciousness infinitely.
In the progress toward truth, let us notice that each step is from particles to waves, or from material to mental; the final picture consists wholly of waves, and its ingredients are wholly mental constructs. It seems more and more likely that reality is better described as mental than material.
— Physicist James Jeans
Discrimination and Nonattachment
You might think that to such a person, discrimination and nonattachment would be negative concepts. But understood properly these two functions of the higher mind are integral to the positive approach of Tantra Yoga.
Discrimination is knowing what is lasting and what is not, being able to perceive the eternal consciousness within the passing show of the material world, and knowing that attachment to finite objects ultimately can only bring pain and suffering. In this age, it is increasingly easy for us to remain aloof from suffering and death. Because we are not faced with it every day, we become oblivious to our connection with it. We fail to realize that one day we too must die — we too must suffer the pain of loss. The impersonal way in which we are exposed to pain and death, via movies and television, only serves to further separate us from its reality and to desensitize us to the suffering of others.
When faced with the shock of loss, we long for some kind of eternal base for our lives — for the knowledge that will enable us to understand these events and thus cope with our fear and loneliness. Many people turn to religion, but turn away again after their crisis has passed and their mental stability has been restored. This is because often religion can offer only a temporary solace that is no real base in itself. Religions that require faith that is not firmly rooted in personal experience or knowledge, that do not give specific practices by which that knowledge is acquired, often fail to offer the continuing growth and the real answers that the rational individual seeks.
Meditation is a practical connecting link to the eternal base. Rather than acting as a crutch in times of distress, it is a tool with which you can find real answers from within. The realization achieved through meditation is not faith or belief, but knowledge, and as scientists, psychologists, and philosophers have shown us, fear and all of its accompanying anxiety can only be banished by knowledge. The realization attained through meditation enlightens religious beliefs, enabling you to understand the deeper meaning of your chosen religious teachings and apply them to your life.
When that connecting link is established through meditation and you gain some personal experience of your goal, you will begin to gain a sense of discrimination — the ability to place finite events and objects in their proper perspective with the infinite from which they have all evolved.
As it reveals the subtler aspects of your mind, meditation brings you to this fine sense of discrimination, which in turn leads to nonattachment. According to some philosophies, nonattachment means avoidance of the things of the world. Thus some spiritual seekers have mortified themselves to renounce the pleasure and pain of the body; have tried to create aversions in their minds to the natural instincts of eating, sleeping, and sexuality; and have escaped from society to live in jungles or caves far from the "temptations" of worldly life.
Volumes of psychiatric research have shown us that repression is never successful. Such methods of dealing with attachment merely create more obstacles for the practitioner, because they require the mind to be absorbed in negative thoughts rather than in truth. If you adopt such measures you will ultimately turn away from your goal; repression forces your mind to be more deeply entrenched in those things from which you are trying to escape. Although solitude may remove you from the immediate agitations of the world, it does not remove those agitations from the mind, which is their source.
Excerpted from A Woman's Guide to Tantra Yoga by Vimala McClure, Michael B. McClure. Copyright © 1997 Vimala McClure. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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