New Writings From Krishnamurti

imagesAlthough the renowned spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti passed away in 1986, his legacy is alive and well in beautiful, and way too dry, Ojai, California, home of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America. This fall will see them release a new book, “The World Within”, containing never before released material. This is a ‘compilation of Krishnamurti’s hand written notes from his personal diary that explore topics discussed in personal interviews with the people around him.” This excerpt was published in the summer/fall edition of ‘Foundation Focus’, the KFA newsletter. For more on Krishnamurti’s teachings, go to jkrishnamurti on line.

All spiritual teachers encounter the challenge of language. Words can have multiple connotations, and the same word can have radically different meanings to a broad spectrum of readers. Here Krishnamurti uses the word self to mean to “I” sense created by the ahamkara. We might call it the egoic self as it is composed of likes and dislikes, ragas and dveshas, and emerges as thought. Krishnamurti writes a lot about ‘thought’ and the suffering it creates, but also describes how to see through, or beyond thought to wholeness, timelessness, eternity. For those of you studying Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, note his reference to ‘svadhyaya’, self study, and the awakening of viveka, discriminative understanding, by activating the ‘buddhi’, the innate or non-personal intelligence, to realize Purusha, the timeless.

“The creator of time is the self, the consciousness of the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’: my property, images-9my son, my power, my success, my experience, my immortality. The concern of the self over its own state creates time. The self is the cause of ignorance and sorrow, and its cause and effect is desire, the craving for power, wealth, fame. This self is unified by the will of desire, with its past memories, present resolutions, and future determinations. The future then becomes a forum of lust, the present a passage to the future, and the past the driving motive. The self is a wheel of pleasure and pain, enjoyment and grief, love and hate, ruthlessness and gentleness. These opposites are created for its own advantage, for its own gain, out of its own uncertainty. It is the cause of my birth, my death. Thought is held by the will of desire, by the will of self, but sorrow and pain begin their work of awakening thought; and if this awakening is not maintained, thought slips into comforting beliefs, into personal fantasies and hopes.

But if the slowly awakening thought begins to gently and patiently study the cause of sorrow and so begins to comprehend it, it will find that there is another will: the will of understanding. This will of understanding is not personal; it is of no country, of no people, of no religion. It is this will that opens the door to the eternal, to the timeless.

The study of the self is the beginning of right thinking – that the self that is held in the will of desire. This self creates continuity by craving for immortality, but with it comes the everlastingness of sorrow, pain, and the conflict of the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’. There is no end to this save in the will of understanding, which alone dissolves the cause of sorrow.”

2014 YLT Weekend 9 Summary

Weekend 9: We are at the 3/4 Pole and heading home!
Continuing themes:
Spiritual Awakening,
Refining the Energy Lines and Patterns
Structural Refinement in the Asanas to Integrate the Teachings

Overall Theme for this Weekend:  Introduction to the Bhagavad Gitaimages-8

The major theme of the Bhagavad Gita is Spiritual Awakening, as described in the Vedantic mantra, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’. It is presented in the fundamental spiritual trinity: the guru or teacher (Krishna), the teachings (Gita), and the student (Arjuna). You also see this Buddhism with Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and, in a slightly distorted way in Christianity, with Father (Mother) as teacher, Holy Spirit as symbolic of the revealed knowledge, and Son (Daughter) as students.

‘Tat Tvam Asi’ says the teacher to the student, after presenting the teachings: that truth, that wholeness I have just described, is you. You are the Whole. You, at the ultimate core of your being, are limitless and free. This is true for all beings. This truth is just waiting to be ‘realized’. And nothing needs to be changed! The spiritual eyes open, and OMG, there it is, ever-present, and infinitely intimate . Krishna reveals this to Arjuna over the 18 chapters of the Gita. And, ideally, we find it revealed moment to moment in our yoga practice, and in life.

The Gita also discusses the two majors means for a spiritual seeker to arrive at this awakening. This is Arjuna’s ultimate quest. The first is known as the path of knowledge, Sanyaasa, which involves renunciation of all worldly connections to pursue spiritual knowledge and insight. Traditionally, this path is for older adults who have completed raising a family and participating in society, and is the fourth and final stage of life for them. Also, a young seeker who is spiritually and emotionally mature may also become a sunyaasi, but this is not an easy path for the young, as the temptations of life are relentless and powerful.

The second means of spiritual knowledge is the path of action, also known as karma imagesyoga. In the Gita, the path of karma yoga means that every action you take in life is used as a means to deepen your spiritual self knowledge. Seva, or selfless charitable work is one aspect of karma yoga, but not all. This is the path Arjuna must take, although, as we see at the beginning of the Gita, he is trying to weasel his way out of his karmic duty. Arjuna argues that sanyaasa should be his path, however, Krishna will not let him escape and explains that action in the world is a valid means of spiritual knowledge, if one understands the two main principles of spiritual action. These are described in the Gita as follows:

Chapter 2, verse 48

yogasthah kuru karmaani sangam tyaktvaa dhananjaya
siddhyasiddhyoh samo bhuutvaa samatvam yoga ucyate

Remaining steadfast in yoga, oh Dhananjaya (Arjuna), perform actions, abandoning attachment, remaining the same to success and failure alike. This evenness of mind is called yoga.

Chapter 2, verse 50

buddhiyukto jahaatiha ubhe sukrtaduskrte
tasmaadyogaaya yujyasva yogah karmasu kaushalam

One who is endowed with the samatva buddhi, sameness of mind, gives up both punya and paapa here, in this world. Therefore commit yourself to karma-yoga. Karma-yoga is discrimination in action.

One of the key themes weaving through the Gita is the relationship between the two paths to pursue self-knowledge, the path of action in the world, or karma-yoga, and the path of sanyaasa, the renunciation of the world. Sunyaasa is commonly known as a path of awakening, but Karma Yoga is not. Karma refers to any action performed, and also the results of those actions.  Punya refers to desirable results, and paapa to undesirable results. In these two verses, Krishna presents a two-fold definition of karma-yoga: samatvam yogah ucyate and yogah karmasu kaushalam.

With reference to the results of your actions, there is sameness, samatva, in your response. With reference to action itself, because there is a choice involved, a karma yogi always chooses to follow the rules of dharma, basic ethics and morality.

These two verses are commonly quoted and frequently mistranslated and misunderstood. Verse 48 is often found to say “give up the fruits of your actions” implying that a yogi doesn’t participate in the world and is not able to enjoys the fruits of creation. It is like saying you can cook a wonderful meal, but you cannot enjoy eating it. Of course this makes no sense at all. You may create a delicious feast, that pleases everyone. Or only a few. Or it may not come out as well as you would have hoped. A Yogi experiences all these possibilities as food for awakening, or as Ram Das wrote, ‘Grist for the Mill’.

Verse 50 is often translated as ‘yoga is skill in action’, but one can be a very skillful con artist, which is certainly not yogic. The principle here is discrimination. Can I be very clear as to what my actions are and why I am choosing to do them. A better translation might be yoga is ‘mindfulness in action’, or ‘wisdom and compassion in action’.

The underlying teaching here is that you are the author of your own actions. You can choose to do something, or not do it, or do it differently. As a yogi you would always act for the benefit of the whole, not out of self-centered interests. However, the results of those actions are totally out of your control. They may be exactly what you wanted, more than what you wanted, less that what you wanted, or the total opposite of what you wanted. Whatever the result, the yogi receives the result as prasada, a gift from the Divine. This is samatvam, eqanimity with what arises. There is nothing to give up, other than the attachment to a specific outcome. If your action was successful, fantastic. Enjoy the moment. If it was unsuccessful, that’s okay too. Experience disappointment if that is what arises, but recognize that the “Self” is unaffected by success or failure.

Now, as we are human, our unfolding life will continue to present situations where we act out of self interest, and bitch and moan when we things don’t go the way we want them to. No avoiding this reality. The yoga is in how we respond to these delightful experiences where our responses to reality are not quite up to Krishna’s ‘ideal’. Compassion is very helpful. Perspective also helps.

Asana Practice: Refining the flow of energy through the hip joints, at all times, in all images-1postures and movements.
1. Begin in the feet: arches ground the energy; create an imaginary ‘ankle to heel’ line, as long as the line of energy from ankle to toes. Talus is the keystone.
2. From femur head, drop weight down onto arches, grounding out through heels and toes, as knees and ankles slightly flex. This is the skiers tadasana, also used by all athletes as neutral gear, pre-movement. It allows a relaxed and alert energy state everywhere in the body.
3. Grow a tail to open the mula dhara in a third vector (the two legs are the other vectors).images-2 From here lengthen the spine through ears and crown chakra. From head to tail open energy channels in both directions. Now the chakra line/spinal energy line is now free of the hips and can flex and extend around the hips without collapse or holding on. (Relatively speaking, of course!)images-1

4. Flex and extend energy for imaginary back flip. In this second stage of a back flip, Mario Edwards uses his arms to amplify the tail vector helping to keep the spine long as he loads ankles knees and hips in flexion. In full sequence, there is an images-2alternation between flexion and extension of the legs as the spine stays long.

5. Take this feeling into down dog – up dog – down dog until you can integrate both actions into each pose, down dog in up dog, up dog in down dog.

6. One leg dog to flip dog, to one leg handstand on the wall. We’ll save the one christopher tungarm hand stand for another day. Christopher Tung looks like he is doing trikonasana, so I had to put this in! Notice the energy lines through his inner heels and inner ears, and heart center through grounding arm. Fantastic fish body pose. Love it!

7. Standing pose cycle using the back flip and fish body energy lines, trikonasana through revolved images-4parsvakonasana. Add the frisbee throw spiral lines for the twists. Find the flexion/extension action in the spiral.

8. Sirsanasa, sarvangasana, any transitional poses, savasana

2014 YLT Weekend 8 Summary

Theme of Weekend 8: Embryology for Yoga Students:
embodying the earliest days of embryological growth and development
as a yoga practice/meditation.

Out of the infinite, luminous emptiness of the present moment arises the entire cosmos, in a mind boggling multiplicity of forms. The forms to explore today are the echos of our embryological past, still emerging, available when we can be still and feel our inner depths.

Some general principles for contemplation:
1. Embryology for yogis is an investigations of the emegence and transformation of forms through fluid dynamics.
2. The morphology of the embryo is present in the adult human as possibilities of deeper integration.
3. Structures and cavities appear and disappear through time during development.
4. Growth is movement!
5. Not all cells grow/divide at the same rate. This leads to changes in both shape and function.
6. Cells grow by contact along lines of energy, like ants following a chemical trail.
7. Membranes and fluids are primary.
8. The first major differentiation of cells, known as gastrulation, gives rise to three primary types of tissue. The endodermal cells become the gut body, the mesodermal cells become connective tissue structures including the heart, and the ectodermal cells become the nervous system. Most of our explorations will be here. (See day 12 in the diagram below.)

550px-HumanEmbryogenesis.svg
Week 1: Conception, spherical energy: rolling, falling, tumbling, dividing, condensing, image_previewhatching, hollowing, fluidity, freedom.

Practice:
Rolling and Pouring, from “How Life Moves” to find omni-directional freedom, felt sense of weight, rotation/spinning in relaxed, supported, quiet environment. This is a very internal, meditative state. Savasana or other restorative poses can take us here as well.


Week 2:
Implantation; landing, attaching, making connections, establishing roots.

Unknown-1Practice: Making a connection with floor or wall, feel how a new level of stability allows more types of growth and movement. Attach yourself in one place and allow everywhere else freedom to move. Now we are moving outside ourselves to find support from the world around us. It is a more extroverted state, discovering the ‘other’.

Week 2: Gastrulation: differentiating into front, back and middle; expanding, differential growth. This is a huge shift in perception/awareness as the biological intelligence now differentiates into three modes of being/action/perception.

Practice: Explore each of these three places and modes of being before they complexifyimages and differentiate more completely. This can be done in any pose, as all embryological moments are available at any time, as fields waiting for imagination to re-ignite them. However, new students may want to stay on the floor where you can safely surrender to gravity and feel the awakening of the fluids and membranes. The fluid filled cavities carry nutrients, sound waves, and waves of movement.

Front body as:
Endoderm – yolk sac space- nurturing – gut body, eventually to become upper, middle and lower GI track; Feel the deep support of the yolk sac before it is drawn into the body and elongated. Feel it as expansive, soft, full. Kapha in Ayurveda.

Back body as:
Ectoderm – amnion to become amniotic sac, and primitive nervous system – brain – sense organs – skin;  Feel the deep support of the amniotic cavity before in encircles you, before the middle emerges as mesoderm. Feel the wide sensitivity of the future skin/brain/nerves. Vata in Ayurveda.

Middle body as:
Mesoderm: mediator; grows out from middle – all connective tissues, muscles, bones, ligaments, fascia, heart, kidneys and eventually limbs. Pitta in Ayurveda. Find the middle ground as place of balance in all planes and movements.

Week 3:  Yolk sac drawn into body as amnion grows around to complete sphere. Deepening the roots. The three layers begin there next level of differentiation. The ectoderm enlarges to become the neural plate and then the neural crest and neural tube. The neural tube will later become spinal cord and various sections of the brain. Mesoderm shows beginning of head and tail, heart. Bones and muscles will emerge. Endoderm begins lengthen to mouth and anus. Lungs, intestines and bladder will emerge.

Practice 1: Gut body; Hu breath or Vessel breath to active gut body – hollow tubular fluid consciousness. Wake up the fluids and feel the shifts in pressure as the fluids rebound around inside the membranes containing them.

Practice 2:
Emergence of the Mesoderm:  Lying on your back, feel the entire floor as your back body/ectoderm and amnion; the ceiling and space above you as your front body/endoderm/yolk sac. Take this into your cells so that all the cells behind your median plane become the ectoderm and all the cells in front become the endoderm. Now imagine the emerging of a middle layer growing along the interphase between endo and ectoderms. This is the median plane feel it spreading sideways and also lengthening to head and tail. Finally find arm buds, leg buds, head and tail emerging.

Practice 3: Coiling and Uncoiling: Rolling onto your side, use the mesoderm to begin to ‘coil up’ to come into a fetal position Keep the back long and feel the yolk sac being drawn into the body as you curl. Now, again from the mesoderm, begin to uncoil, extending through head and tail as you feel the gut body lengthening, carrying the spinal column into a mild back bend. Slowly and mindfully repeat this coiling and uncoiling. Bonnie Cohen calls this physiological flexion and extension as it is driven by the gut body action.

Practice 1:
Bring any of these explorations into any yoga pose or sequence of poses. Find where there deep inner movements and fluid waves can support you so there is less ‘muscling’ and more surrender in the poses.

Awakening Practice: Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita
The ‘Mahavakyas’ are four (or seven) sacred phrases for contemplation that appear in the Upanishads. One of them, tat tvam asi, is from the Chandogya Upanishad and is an instruction from a guru to a disciple. She is telling the student; That Brahman, that undivided wholeness we have been discussing is ‘you’.

Krishna and ArjunaThe Bhagavd Gita, Krishna teaching Arjuna, takes 18 chapters to unfold the wisdom of this one statement. Chapters 1 – 6 are about Arjuna, the disciple. They are about all seekers of spiritual wisdom who may be confused by the teachings. Chapters 7- 12 are about Brahman, the unbroken wholeness, as represented by Krishna. Arjuna at first sees Krishna in his human form as his charioteer. As Krishna gradually reveals more and more Arjuna gets a bit overwhelmed. Chapters 13 – 18, unfold the equivalence. Arjuna is Brahman.