Tag Archives: Conciousness

Contemplations on Supreme Consciousness

Everything is supreme consciousness. Supreme consciousness is as the heart of all things and simultaneously permeates all things. It is muted by the laws of maya, the veils of the koshas, and the bondage of the malas, appearing to be something other than it is. Atman, pure divine consciousness is as much a part of every living thing, as death is the fate of all things living.

Maya creates delusions of appearance. Also from maya arises illusions of reality. Such illusions are tied intrinsically to perceptions of identity, perceptions of ego, and perceptions of self in place. The essence of supreme consciousness is an eternal dance of Shiva and Shakti, the knowledge and the expression, the energy and the form, united and forever bound. In the Koshas, maya is the Shakti (the creative force of the universe) pulling us away from ourselves while simultaneously manifesting all that is beautiful about life itself.

Revealing themselves in five sheaths the koshas expressions are explained as follows. Annamaya Kosha, the physical sheath or even more literally the sheath of food. The body needs food for survival, without food hunger limits perception of the divine. Pranamaya Kosha, the energy or prana sheath is the vital force which produces the subtle vibrations related to breath and connects the physical body to its senses allowing the Atman to animate in the manifest world. Pranamaya Kosha ties perception of divine to the senses, if it is not tangible it does not exist. Manamaya Kosha, the sheath of the mind. The mind is the supervisor of information reception and distribution. Manamaya veils the capacity to clearly perceive thoughts and emotions without doubt and illusion. Vijnanamaya Kosha, the sheath of wisdom, the knower, the judge, the discriminator. In the delusion of the veil of maya the Vijnanamaya Kosha attaches wisdom to the story that is written by the outer sheaths. The koshas simply tie our identity to their veils of delusion. Liberation from these veils of consciousness enables supreme consciousness to reveal itself as the eternal center of experience and knowing. As the veils of the Koshas are lifted, perception expands.

In consort with the veils of the Koshas are the malas, the delusions of impurity. Anava-mala, Mayiya-mala, and Karma-mala all manifest in the human experience to create the illusion of finite and mundane experience. Anava-mala generates the experience of feeling incomplete and imperfect, it is the primary structure that creates the basis of the limited illusion of finite life. Mayiya-mala forms the perception of separation, the “I am alone and will always be alone” thoughts. Karma-mala creates and sustains the perception that one is unable to do anything of worth or value, that all efforts are without aim or satisfaction.

Why would supreme consciousness manifest itself hidden in the veils of such limited perception? Why would feeling incomplete and insecure be built into the fundamental principles of human being? Why would the capacity to know oneself as the essence of the nature of the supreme be veiled from consciousness by design?

It is said that the reason for human life in general is that supreme consciousness wanted to experience itself so it veiled itself from itself to be rediscovered again. In rediscovery is the revelation that generates such a spaciousness within that the amrita, the nectar of the bliss of knowing the nature of the divine becomes so sweet its flavor cannot be ignored. In revelation is connection, in connection is bliss. In life is forgetting so the dance can be done over and over again. Forget, remember, experience bliss, forget, remember, experience bliss, and on and on. The experience of the bliss becomes the incentive to stay committed to the practice of remembering. Over time the waves between remembering and forgetting get closer, get smaller, and are perhaps completely washed away when all that remains is supreme consciousness.

Additionally, when we allow ourselves to perceive everything as supreme consciousness than we allow ourselves to remember that are never really truly alone. Through such a perception we remember that we are connected by the web of consciousness, the breath of life, that from which all arises and all returns. We remember consciousness is what is at the heart of all energy and is what enables energy to align intelligently, to manifest into life forms that are more than rudimentary and single celled. We come to know without question that consciousness is what generates thought and simultaneously the energy that turns thought into action. If all of life arises from consciousness than all life is connected through consciousness. Even when the energetic imprint varies, it is consciousness that makes the imprint. So while an experience of life is so often singular, it is also an experience of consciousness as a whole, which ties all things together. Consciousness is the thread of connection, from nothing to something, from breath to action, from thought to form, from heart into the world.

Through the awareness of consciousness and the realization of deepest connection as a result of the web consciousness weaves we have the great opportunity to step out of questioning and self-consciousness and into confidence and community. The veils of maya lift, the bondage of the malas is broken, and all that remains is the supreme self. Self with a capital S.

 

With love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,

Genevieve

 

 

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At The Heart Of I…

Over the course of your life you may have found yourself contemplating the dimensions of your experience of existence and embodiment, asking questions like “Who am I?” And “What am I?” Not only will these questions open doorways to deeper understanding of the nature of embodied being, they will simultaneously guide one down a path of negation, pealing away the layers of what one is not. In non-dual tantric yogic philosophy one can mine their way to the heart of who and what humans are, as well as an understanding of the of individual self by unfolding the five layers of consciousness.

These five layers of consciousness or five strata of self are much like a matryoshka doll. Within which nested layers of being and suffering reveal themselves proceeding from the gross to the subtle. From the grossest layer of Vastu, the stuff we accumulate to the subtlest layer of Cit, divine consciousness, we can map, almost with simplicity the ontology of the makeup of our reality.

The most outer layer is not considered one of the five. This layer is Vastu, the stuff we accumulate over the course of our lives. Vastu, or stuff, reveals itself as a part of personal identity in statements like “I am rich” or “I am poor”.  Such identification has little to do with what is at the heart of conscious being and more to do with the identity and value of that identity placed on the object. Making an association to self identity based on things in which we attach an “I am” or “I have” or “my” concept almost always leads to suffering. Such suffering, and the causes of such suffering, are the first point of negation of self awareness to face while journeying to the true heart of what is.

Passing though the gate of new awareness of self beyond ones stuff and things, one arrives at the true fifth layer of consciousness Deha.  Deha, the physical body, is much like the Vastu layer in that there is an “I am” identification associated to it. Perceptions of awareness such as, “I am tall” or “I am short” and so on are cognitive identifications with the layer of consciousness that is the physical body. Again, associating with the body, just like associating with ones stuff in such a way leads to suffering. Suffering arises as a result of attachment. In similarity to the attachment and value we place on the things we possess, we place value and attachment on our physical identities. And like our stuff which will fade, break down, and decrease in value, our bodies too will fade and over time wither and die.   In the search for the truth of what lies at the heart of the dimensions of self, one finds themselves on an adventure through the layers of their self awareness not only in relation to their perceptions of being, but also of suffering. Where there is attachment there is the potential to suffer. In the concept of “I am thin” there is the converse of “I am fat” each carrying a weight of attachment, each a false layer of true identity.

As the layers of stuff and physical body are negated as the source of true identity, the next layer of Citta, the pure consciousness of thoughts and feelings is revealed. This layer of consciousness is expressed in statements such as “I am smart”, “I am stupid”, “I am happy”, and “I am sad”.  In non-dual tantric philosophy the mind and heart are not two things, they are two ends of a single spectrum. The difference between thoughts and feelings is that thoughts are vibrations with a cognitive expression of language and explanation. In contrast, feelings are vibrations that are felt and with a greater affective charge. This difference is not absolute but rather one of degree.  Again, like the previous layers of being that one can identify with, here too, arises the great potential to suffer. As the mind is so active and quick to change, identifying with the mind can lead not only to suffering by believing illusion but also by locking into a thought pattern that is destructive. Such mental rigidity often is the result of the fear of not being in control. Yet nothing is certain and we are very much not in control, not even of our own minds. Once we learn to ride the waves of thought in our minds, we come to experience less suffering. Such mindfulness sometimes leads us to a state of amused observer watching our minds pettiness, quickness to irritation, and desire to attach itself to fleeting emotions. The emotional body, much like the mind is flippant and fleeting. Like the mind, when we learn how to ride the waves of the vibrations of our emotional experience without becoming attached to a story around such emotions, not only do we experience more peace, we also become closer to the truth of what and who any of us actually are.

Digging deeper and pulling back ever more veils of perception we arrive at the layer of Prana. Prana is the vital energy of the body often called the life force, and is the layer at which individuality is transcended. The movement of prana is intimately connected to breath and it is vital for life to continue. Prana serves as the interface between the body and the mind, though it is more subtle, and fundamental than either. As the first layer of the subtle body, prana reveals itself in statements such as “I am tired”, “I am energized”, “I feel wired”, and “I feel blah”. The amplification of, and depletion of prana is responsible for our general energy levels, and many of our moods. The levels of prana in our body are affected by the food we eat, activities we participate in, the sleep we get, and thoughts we think. Though it is easy to identify with the pranic body, over-identifying with the pranic body can put us at the mercy of our moods, which in turn can prompt impulsive action that our mental, physical, or emotional body may not benefit from. Identifying that pranic changes arise from energy stores, and changes in our moods are a result of such changes in the pranic body, enables us to not attach our identities to our mood-based experiences. Rather than be the mood we are experiencing we can respond to the change in the pranic body with some good nourishing food, or sleep and avoid snapping at our loved ones.

Moving more deeply into the subtle body we are invited to move more deeply into subtle perception as well, as we arrive at Sunya, the layer of the transcendent void. This is the layer of awareness that is all pervasive and formless. The most familiar state in which our awareness occupies this realm is in deep dreamless sleep. Most people do not identify with this layer in their conscious awareness. However, this is the layer many meditators refer to as “the gap”, and can become more of a known territory to anyone through regular mediation. Too much time here, however, may draw one out of the ability to function well and with ease in the world. Leaving one failing to adequately take care of their body, and becoming unable to easily relate to others. Penetrating to the heart of the void we arrive at the heart of absolute and divine consciousness, Cit. Cit is beyond all other layers, yet pervades them. Cit is the core of all existence and remains mysterious because it is omnipresent while completely unnoticed. It is all embracing and existent in all forms of awareness, including the most contracted forms of awareness in the previous layers. It is because this core of being is simultaneously transcendent and immanent that when we identify with it we can experience any state as divine. In other words, identification with the heart of divine absolute consciousness enables us to experience everything as divine and eliminates the expression of one way of being topping the pyramid of divinity. As consciousness at this level is all-pervasive it subsumes such hierarchal status.

In non-dual tantric philosophy this state of liberated awareness is the one in which we know our true nature. It is being the mantra~

“purno ham”
I am that which encompasses all things.

When we realize ourselves as divine consciousness then we also realize that we are in fact all the layers of the self that we had previously negated as well. Negation in this way is a tool used to reach a deeper affirmation at the heart of I.

With Love, Always, In All Ways,

Genevieve

What Lies Beneath

The yoga journey is fundamentally rewarding even when extraordinarily challenging. So much of what takes place on the mat or in the meditation practice translates to our lives outside of the practice. It is truly no wonder that people have been utilizing it for thousands of years. I myself have only been on the train for nine years and have seen the power of transformation steeped in the cauldron of the yoga practice sweep through every aspect of my life. The more I practice the subtler yet more inspiring the challenges get.

In the beginning is a valuable and profound unfolding of the physical body, a revelation of joy in the fulfillment of strength and flexibility gained through attaining new heights in the asana. Over the journey the challenge crosses over into relationships with others and with behaviors that for the first time get attention and fall away from being habitual and done mindlessly, inviting a knowing of Shraddha (belief structures our lives operate on that are empowered while unconscious), and ultimately its transfiguration. Then like a good flow class the practice aligns with life to throw one into the deep well of pain, challenge, transformation, and in the end transmutation. The Tapas, the burning away of the desire to be comfortable in the known, morphs into an all-consuming desire to align with something greater than self, which arises when we sweat on the mat and as life falls apart. In the renunciation and reconciliation life gets put back together again. In the wake and the puddles of sweat or tears there is quiet like the stillness before the gestation of a seed and its great journey into mature life.

This has been my journey and I know I am not alone as I see similarities in my story with those of others. This is life, it’s not always easy, it’s not always pain free, and it’s not always about the next big pose. This is where the real yoga starts to show up and we are asked of ourselves to be present for the journey rather that the results of our labors. When we allow ourselves to be present for the journey then no matter the result we gain. This is the gift of our lives not only our yoga practices, when we realize that sometimes the only way out is through.  Even if that journey is just getting through a book a friend recommended that you do not enjoy, you will probably find in the end something of value was waiting for you to just unveil it.  Not unlike precious gems hiding in the deep belly of the Earth, we often find our most valuable meanings in life in the deep darkness of the underbelly of our being.

“When you are in conflict or doubt, or are afraid, when you lose hope or lose people that you depend upon, move beyond the pain and fear; there is an awareness there. An awareness that has always been there. In your loneliness and suffering and darkness and fear, silently, behind it, the awareness is waiting for us to return. This awareness is the field of consciousness from which all life came, the absolute energy that precedes all and is beyond all and is within all. It is within you.

We all have this in common, but we have been convinced that we are alone. This energy, though, that compels one cell to become two, that heals wounds, that spins quarks and planets, is within us all. And all language can do is rest on top of it, or point to it, never really describing it. This force, this undeniable compulsion to come together-we know that it’s there and we all know when it’s absent and we all know that we must be open to it now. And in spite of its ethereal and indefinable nature, we all know that it’s love.” –Russel Brand

It is there in the midst of it all when we become quiet that we find ourselves in the presence of the consciousness that pervades the universe. This consciousness is always present and always available to us to experience. In its company we feel the tenderness of embrace as well as the brightness of inspired transformation. In the presence of its company we withstand the travails of all challenge. In presence we see the beauty and experience the rewards all along the path of our journeys.

Happy spring, may you fee blessed by the challenges that call you to the doorstep of your transformation.

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve

21 Days of Yoga

Below is a personal accounting of a student's recent journey through her just completed Autumn Yoga Challenge.  So powerful is her story that we felt compelled to share it with everyone.  Thank you Kelley.

I have been practicing yoga off and on since my early 20s when my sister and I used to go to the Solar Yoga Center in St. Louis. It was there that I learned poses. It was there that I learned to take a cold shower with peppermint soap before committing to meditation. I still love the smell of peppermint soap because of it. I never took my yoga practice any deeper than that, but I have continued to practice off and on. I ended up at Shree for one of those occasional classes.

Then at the beginning of September my husband had a major surgery, my beloved dog died, and my beautiful youngest brother, he was 22, unexpectedly died. There was day-to-day to manage. As a firm believer that life comes as it does, I tried keep moving. But my ability to focus had come to a halt. My sleep and waking time was blurred. As a writer and thinker, I have always relied on words to help me explain my emotions. I have relied on words to help me figure things out, but now I was at a loss for how to deal with the pain. There were no words to “talk” through the sorrow. It seemed simply to sit in my body. In a silent and what felt kind of random decision, I joined the 20 classes in 30 Days-Autumn Challenge at Shree.

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The Chit of It

If you have found yourself ever asking the deeper why questions of life; ontological questions about the nature of existence, epistemological questions about the nature of consciousness, teleological questions about the specific purpose of reality, phenomenological questions about what consciousness experiences, and the weightiest of them all, questions of theodicy which pursue the reasons for suffering and evil, and the nature of pervasive good, well, perhaps we could call you a philosopher, a seeker, far out, or just a student on the path.  No matter the title or identity gained from being a deep thinker, what has the potential to arise as a result of these questions, aside from a common occurrence of more questions, is an understanding of the nature of Sat Chit Ananda, and the necessity of the Chit.

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