Saturday 17 December 2016

Heart and Mind

It is common in "New Age" beliefs to place the heart and the mind in opposition and say something along the lines of; heart and feelings are good: mind and thinking are bad. I have heard so many versions of this formula over the years. From a tantric perspective this is wrong. The Sanskrit word "citta" which is often translated as mind, is seen as the centre for both thoughts and emotions. It would be better translated as heart-mind as both are closely connected and give a limited sense of our self as a separate being. The heart-mind perceives duality and sees everything through the filter of good or bad; useful or not;  safe or dangerous. Thoughts and feelings are equally caught up in this evaluative, dualistic dance which leads towards desires or attachments and fears. Mostly they lead to fears; as we also fear the loss of what we are attached to. The only way out of this is to come to the subtle appreciation of awareness and how it creates its experience of reality in everyday life, moment-to-moment. Awareness of awareness fundamentally shifts that experience. This is non-dual tantra. Being caught in fears prevents tantra which is why traditionally tantra was the path of  virya or the warrior.  At a very ordinary level it is the denigration of the mind and thinking which leads to some of the vast irrationality that pervades public life at the moment. Donald Trump did not appeal to people's ability to think clearly!

Friday 30 September 2016

Tonight is the start of Navaratri; honour and celebrate Shakti!

Tonight is the start of Navaratri a ten day festival to celebrate Shakti and the forms of feminine wisdom and virtue in our lives. 

The first three nights (tonight, to Friday) are in honour of Kali, the fierce form of the goddess who destroys impurities and the things that no longer serve us. She gives us strength and motivation and empowers us towards spiritual growth.

For the second part (Saturday to Monday) of the festival the goddess is Lakshmi who is seen as the Mother and is often seen as connected to spiritual wealth.  She is often depicted on a fountain of milk holding symbols of wealth and abundance. She can give us clarity.

Tuesday to Thursday nights the goddess is Saraswati who represents wisdom and knowledge. She is generally shown playing a rudra vina a stringed instrument as she is connected to music and the arts. She creates beauty and gives us wisdom.

On the tenth day (Friday 29th) all forms of the goddess are worshipped, sometimes in the form of Durga. 

So, find a woman, and the goddess inside yourself (men and women) and honour her. Start with your mother, sisters, lovers.  Shakti creates all life; everything we can see comes from Her!

Wednesday 22 June 2016

The Politics of Fear or the politics of Vision

The Brexit debate has been dominated by fear.  Generally fear of immigration, economic fears or fear of rabid racists and bigots gaining power. Sadly it seems to be easier to influence people through fear than it is to influence people through vision.  This is simply because we are all affected by past trauma and restimulated fears.  Unless we can clear past trauma we will all stay stuck. 

So people like Martin Luther King or Gandhi, who proclaim a vision; inspire but in the end do not decisively lead.  My dream for this referendum was that Jeremy Corbyn,  a man of undoubted sanity, vision and ethics compared to most politicians and leaders would share a vision of this country welcoming of refugees and facing the world as an example of political, economic and environmental sanity, with; devolution of power,  and economics based on stability and fairness, not growth. A sort of Iceland and Norway combined with a touch of Costa Rica. 

The world is certainly safer with small independent countries rather than large power-blocks. Most of the world’s problems are global not regional; not even a region as big as Europe.  I am amazed how many people would rather play on fears or on personalities rather than on vision.  To say that you cannot be in favour of Brexit because many very unsavoury people are, is like me saying I can’t be a vegetarian because Hitler was.  There are ways of clearing trauma at an individual level and collectively. Such healing will be necessary after the referendum whatever the result.  

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Why I will be voting for Brexit....

....because I am a citizen of the world,
.....because big power blocks cause more disruption on the planet than lots of small ones,
         (uniting the States may have stopped Texas invading Alabama but it created the USA)
.....because imperfect democracy is the best system we have got and the EU simply isn't democratic,
         (its not democratic because Hitler was voted in to power so they are suspicious of it );
.....because the only natural boundary for Britain is the sea; the next boundary is the planet;
.....because there is no natural entity called Europe; where is its eastern edge, Turkey, Jordan...?
.....because whatever happens we are still an island exactly the same distance off  mainland Europe;
.....because Iceland (not in the EU) has managed to jail the bankers, wipe out debt and has the fastest growing economy since 2007;
.....because Norway (not in the EU) is a very peaceful and civilised country without the extremes of wealth and poverty found in UK;
.....because larger aggregates of power increase complexity and are therefore anti-democratic;
.....because all the real problems are global not local and best tackled by global institutions like the United Nations;
.....because large power blocks increase alienation and therefore violence or apathy, 
            (how many people know the name of their MEP or understand anything about the European Parliament - it can't even propose laws).

In fact, the real issues are nothing to do with immigration or economics which all boil down to numbers.  It is about a vision of where we as a human race are heading and the institutions that can support that. Of course saying you are in favour of Brexit risks being seen to be alongside; bigots, racists, fascists, Little Englanders, people who want to live in the past, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and numerous other odious characters.

Europe probably needs the UK and if we leave it may collapse in chaos or become more fascist (in a rather bureaucratic way). If we leave then it is likely to strengthen intolerance at home rather than a global perspective. 

I hate the fact that the debate is so polarised into two side both of which I dislike as people and arguments based in fear. Voting on my vision for the world; I would definitely vote to leave the EU and want Britain to adopt the sort of policies that Iceland has.  Voting on a strategic basis about which lot I think are the least harmful, I'm unsure but on balance I think I will still vote to leave.

Saturday 21 May 2016

Dr. Wilhelm Reich

Reich died in jail in America nearly sixty years ago, after having most of his books burnt on the orders of the American government. As a young psychiatrist in Vienna, in the mid - 1920 he had been a brilliant pupil of Sigmund Freud and part of the inner circle in the growing world of psychoanalysis. Many of his ideas are in use today; often unacknowledged However, many distorted idea and rumours were circulated about him and his work during his life and after his death. 

I became interested in Reich's work in my late teens sensing that his connection of the body, energy,  sexuality, repression and political ideology were key. His book Character Analysis showed some of his approach; based in the early work of Freud. In 1933 he published The Mass Psychology of Fascism and soon after had to flee Hitler; ending up in the United State. You can listen to a recent radio interview on Reich. Click Here.

After he died, on his orders, all his papers and laboratory notes were all locked away for fifty years. They are now available and at last a film is being made which will give an accurate account of Reich and his ideas using his original notes. The film has been funded through crowdfunding. It has been shot and now money is needed to edit it. They have now got about half the money they need. I have made a small contribution. If you would like to do so then Click Here to go to Crowdfunding Page.

Saturday 30 April 2016

May Day

Today is Beltane and tomorrow, May Day; a celebration of sexuality and fertility and the union of the Goddess and the God. 

It is a time of fertility and abundance. Celebrations include, circling the Maypole for fertility and jumping the Beltane fire for luck.  The myths of Beltane state that the young God has blossomed into manhood, and the Goddess takes him on as her lover. Together, they learn the secrets of the sexual and the sensual, and through their union, all life begins.

Beltane is the season of maturing life and deepening love. This is a time to celebrate the coming together of the masculine and feminine creative energies. Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desired the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms and unite.

The flowers and greenery symbolise the Goddess and the Maypole represents the God. Beltane marks the return of vitality and passion of summer. The word tantra in Sanskrit comes from a root meaning of weaving and this is "English tantra"; dancing around the maypole and weaving the ribbons around the maypole as the two sets of dancers move in opposite directions. 

Next weekend, 6th - 8th May we have the first workshop of our couples tantra training called Deepening Love. It is possible to do this workshop as a couple on its own or as the first of three (the others are in July and October). Email me or See Website Information for more information or to book. 

Monday 7 March 2016

Tonight is Mahashivaratri

Maha Shivaratri, the spiritual night of Lord Shiva, is considered to be the most sacred night of the year. There is fasting during the day and the puja goes on all night with mantras to Shiva and anointing the shivalingam with water, curd, honey, and flowers.

     It happens the night before the new moon and is a chance to honour Shiva and the masculine principle of consciousness and awareness. For everything is consciousness and it is on this foundation principle that the world is danced into being through the awesome creative power of Shakti.  

     There has probably never been a time in history when the principle of the Divine Masculine needs to be honoured and affirmed as it does now, for it is precisely the qualities of the Divine Masculine that can create the space and the safety for good mothers and mothering to happen - and tomorrow is International Women's Day. Far too often, in many cultures across the world women are trying to hold both poles of masculine and feminine at the same time and be mother and father to their own inner child and to their "outer children". Men are physically absent for many reasons or emotionally absent from their own lack of connection to the Divine Masculine and their historic lack of good enough mothering and fathering. They then end up as wounded, disconnected and dangerous; perpetual teenagers fuelling the cycles violence that are destroying the Earth. Celebrate the masculine as the force of awareness, consciousness, presence and the Truth of who we really are. 

There are practices in tantric kriya yoga, (for men and women) to support awareness and presence. They involve opening ajna chakra; the third eye. Next weekend (11th - 13th March) we are running a workshop in teaching an ancient powerful method; the Cobra Breath to do this. See Transcendence Website for more details. Click Here.  

Thursday 11 February 2016

Awesome Tantra

I have just spent three weeks in California and Hawaii (someone had to do it!) and thought that I would write some impressions. Hawaii is beautiful and like a very laid back part of America with the Union Jack still on its flag. The locals drive around in pick-up trucks with nothing in the back. I've seen this in other places in America.  I think they need to signal that they could bring back a moose or a buffalo if they had to.

We are divided by a common language and I had to remind myself that the meaning of a word is its use. To Americans everything is “awesome” which in English would be “rather good" and produce the mildest forms of pleasure or approval.  It seems that awe is easy to produce these days. Its use as approval, removes it from fear and as Stuart Sovatsky reminds us “fear and awe are close cousins in erotic matters”. The same revision of a word seems to have now completely happened to the word “tantra”. It’s use at the tantra festival I was at seems to be synonymous with “intimate yumminess”.  Now I am all in favour of intimate yumminess but its connection to tantra is small. A few others recognised this but hey we were having a good time so….what the hell! 

Yet a word like “tantra “and all the varied and historic associations to the word cannot, I hope, be so easily destroyed.  In the UK it may be that the era of tantra festivals is ending in favour of love festivals which may be more accurate if it is in the sense of making love. Traditionally, tantra is not a great deal to do with human love or intimacy (Gasp!! and the Kama Sutra is not a tantric text).  If it is love it is more likely historically to be bhakti or love and devotion to a goddess or to a guru or teacher. The intimacy in tantra is principally intimacy with the whole universe or more accurately, the resonance and identity of the individual with the whole universe, The union of the microcosm with the macrocosm.  Human love and intimacy may be a secondary by-product of tantra in much the same way that toned thighs and flat tummy may be a result of yoga but that traditionally is not what yoga is for. Even yoga asanas are principally to produce a seat for meditation and possibly to open the spinal pathways for the flow of kundalini energy.

Does it matter if words change? Not really, provided, that the wisdom of millennia isn't lost in a present day obsession. "Orgasm chasers" is what one direct realisation tantra teacher calls them. Tantra - and one one of the meanings of tantra is simply "methods" or "practices",  has time tested ways, which work.  In March we will be running a weekend workshop (4th - 6th)  to explore this. Do come. Click link for more information