असतो मा सद्ग गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर् र्गमय
मृत्योर् र्मा अमृतं गमय ॥Oṁ
asato mā sad-gamaya
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya
Om. Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.
Imagine you live in a dimension where you have total control. Nothing happens without your permission, and everything you want to happen, happens. For a while, you’d probably enjoy innumerable pleasures and luxuries. Then, after not so very long, you’d get bored, and you’d invent adventures for yourself that seemed to include challenge, such as rescue a damsel from a fire-breathing dragon. But even that would pale eventually, because you’re always in control. The challenge isn’t real, because there is no possibility of failing. Sooner or later, you fall into boredom, ennui, and jaded lassitude – in other words, all the signs of a consciousness in stagnancy. Then one day, a magical machine appears that you didn’t put there. There’s a big button on it, and next to the button a sign. The sign says, «If you push this button, anything could happen: joys beyond your wildest dreams, and fears beyond your wildest nightmares; or more probably, both. If you push it, you will forget you pushed it and be plunged into a world of infinite possibility. Will you take the chance? Will you go on the adventure?
– Tantra Illuminated, p 86.
Of course, at this point in time, the button has already been pushed. And now you are drawn towards waking up, to return to where you came from before you pushed the button. Back to being in control. That is Lila, God’s play. The way of love. The way of the coiled one. Back and forth, back and forth.
Our life journey is awakening from what we misunderstand to be our self and otherness, to what truly is our Self. The path of moksha/bodha, liberation/awakening, is a path of disillusion. Letting go of attachments. Letting go of the way things are, letting go of right and wrong. Letting go and letting go more. Melting the calcified images that we carry around that obscure the ever present reality of true nature.
As a practitioner of yoga you are most likely interested in digging deeper; to find what lies beyond the beyond, not simply dance across the surface of life. What you will learn is that our world is a natural process, not a collection of objects. Every element of every animate being and inanimate thing in the universe is constantly in a changing pattern. The planets are in constant motion, their position in relation to each other and the other astral bodies are in continuous flux. The seasons are ever shifting. Our bodies, and the cells of which we are made of, come into this world, grow, sustain, deteriorate and die. Our emotions are never constant, we move back and forth between happiness, sorrow and anger. Even our intellectual convictions rarely stay fixed for very long, and according to the Vedanta, this may seem real, but it is not. This cycle of life, the delusions of samsara, is from what we would like to wake up.
You are consciousness looking through your eyes perceiving reality from your unique vantage point of view.
What you are being in awareness of, is truly a perfectly designed dream for you to learn and grow, to feel and know deeply both pain and love, and life in all facets possible.There are many levels through which one may recognize this. In classical Tantra yoga philosophy, there are 36 tattvas, or principles of reality. From Earth, to the highest level of The Benevolent One.
Consciousness is the ground of all. There are three normal states of consciousness, which are experienced in all living beings. Jāgrat, waking state, svapna, dream state and sushupti, deep dreamless state. In the waking state, thoughts consist of memories of past and future and reality is the physical world within time and space. The dream state has the potential to help us resolve unfinished actions from the past. Dreams can free us to live with less confusion by integrating the conscious with the unconscious. In deep dreamless sleep, our ego is asleep, merging with the Divine Self. Not until we experience the deep sleep merger with the source while still awake, not identifying with anything, have we found the deathless state of turya, the fourth state. The nature of Self, our essence nature, which is bliss, ecstasy and boundless freedom.
The yogis want to pierce through the veil of Māyā to rid themselves of the rose colored glasses to see reality as is. No matter how challenging it might be. They are drawn towards moksha, not bhoga. They are the ones that wake up in the dream, recognize it as a dream, yet stay on. Playing their part in life. Contributing to the wellbeing of others. Living life to the fullest of their capacity by uplifting the lives of other beings. They are the ones who have the ability to break through the fourth wall. The jivanmuktas. Occasionally, actors will cross the invisible barrier by interacting and communicating with the audience. Talking about the play as a play, mixing characters and the performers may even forego their roles and play themselves for a moment. The breaking of the fourth wall can feel surprising, refreshing, fun and bridge the viewers with the running play on a meta level. As a curiosity, bhūmika means role, level or opportunity. Classical Tantra talk about turyātitā, the final state. Beyond the fourth, although not the fifth. When you awaken, everything around you changes and awakens along with you. You see everyone as part of the whole: you feel all one yet at the same time, alone with God. The magic is still magic. It is simply living life. For eternity. In the miracle of love.
What is the flavor of liberation? Complete aliveness. When you are free of mental constructs, when you know you do not know, you remain open; like a child, you are in free-fall-fullness of life again. You encounter reality as a raw revelation, as an inexplicable awesome mystery inseparable from the mystery of your own existence. You discover that you are falling and there is no ground to hit; which is called flying. Anything is possible.
Off the Mat:
- Spend the month (or lifetime) with movie nights, opening up for the unimaginable.
- The Matrix. Dispatches from elsewhere, series. The institute, documentary. The greatest showman. Aladdin. Vanilla sky. The map of tiny perfect things. Avatar. Groundhog day. Inception. Russian doll, series. Primer. Predestination. Dark, series. Frozen 2. His dark materials, series. Kumaré. Being John Malkovich.
To Read for Inspiration and Immersion:
- Tantra Illuminated, and The Recognition Sutras, Christopher Wallis.
- Magic is a Shift in Perception, Sharon Gannon.
- Dream yoga, Andrew Holecek.
- Read stories from the Mahābhārata and other adventurous literature.
Songs and Lyrics for Inspiration:
- Who am I – Estas Tonne.
- Adventure of a Lifetime – Kenzie Nimmo (or Coldplay).
- I have a dream – ABBA.
- Irony – Christopher.
- Dream a little dream of me – Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald.
- Dream on – Aerosmith.
- Vivir mi vida – Marc Anthony.
- Another day in paradise – Phil Collins.
- Everything I wanted – Billie Eilish.
- Magic carpet ride – Mighty Dub Katz.
- A whole new world – Mena Massed.
- The Greatest Show – Hugh Jackman.
- Dream – Alan Watts.
- I’m coming out – Diana Ross.
- Time to wake up – Radharani.
- Wake me up before you go-go – Wham.
- The miracle of love – Eurythmics.
- O – Coldplay.
- Free fallin’ – Tom Petty.
- Freedom – Maychild.
- Pilgrim – Nithin Sawhney.
- Loin – GIMS.
- Imagine – John Lennon.
- Revelations – Yoko Ono.
Dream Yoga practices:
- Awakening practice, every day: jump up and down when something strange, funny, or out of the ordinary happens.
- Say to yourself: «I am dreaming, I am dreaming, I am dreaming.» This will help you recognize that you are dreaming, and wake up to lucidity in the dream without waking up out of the dream world. (More techniques in the book Dream Yoga, by Andrew Holecek.)
On the mat:
- Let your yoga mat be your magic carpet, which takes you on adventures and rides beyond your imagination.
- Storytime – read excerpts from wondrous stories, poetry, and lyrics from great songs to emphasize listening.
- Use music that puts the class in different realms of experience.
- Chant the Moksha/Mahāmrtyunjaya mantra and explain the meaning and story behind it.
- Build the class as a miniature version of a lifetime, starting in child’s pose or savasana, ending in savasana.
- Life has its own purpose – with waves of ups and downs, being perfection as is.
- Let the asana practice be a practice of movement, back and forth. Let the body move within the asana, not holding, but yielding, rocking. Letting go of old patterns by moving and swaying; thus lubricating the joints and surrounding muscles, tendons and fascia. Opening up where we are holding back, for free flow of prana.
- Life in each asana – embodiments, try out different point-of-views by being a bird, a mountain, a crocodile etc. -you are not your roles although you have roles.
- Play! Play with inversions, fly, dance (see The magic 10 and beyond, by Sharon Gannon), or do something in class that you rarely do, or never have done, for the sake of changing things up. Shift the perspective, so that you as a teacher become part of the play, not just the watcher/architect/facilitator.
- Teach and practice trataka; see the shadow of the flickering flame on the screen behind the eyes.
- Teach and practice Yoga Nidra – let the body sleep yet «the you» stays awake.