Who Do You Choose to Be? An Invitation to the Nobility of Leadership

This beautiful and very direct invitation from Margaret Wheatley was recently shared in Daily Good.

Wheatley affirms that true leaders are those who know our greatness as human beings and lead from that place of knowing, even in the face of the insanity of our times.

Leaders are not only heads of organizations or teams. They are also leaders of families; parents, aunties, uncles, grands, our elder sisters and brothers, and they are our neighbors, our community members. So, I invite us ALL to hear her wise words.

She makes a profound statement that caused me to straighten my back and remember my commitment to the service I do in the world and endeavor daily to deepen within my local community.

Leaders must reclaim the very thing our culture has so casually given away: Time to think together and learn from our experiences. Without question, this is the most critical act of leadership. It is how we restore sanity and possibility to our work within our sphere of influence. It is how we work with the dynamics of living systems and use our intelligence in life-preserving ways as all other species do.

As we struggle to stay in the good of the world, we do what we can, where we are. We love one another into being our greatest selves, no matter what the times.

Read the Article Here

My Place Is Where Truth Lives

What business is it of mine
this world of praise and blame?

My place is where truth lives

Tend the fire of wisdom
in your own home hearth
and leave the stories of is and is not
to those who don’t know

come, sit by the flame
close the windows facing the street


let the throng pass and go their way
we will be here to welcome them
when they return

~ Rev. P

Truth is never “alternative”. Universality is what makes it Truth.

The purpose of Kriya Yoga as a philosophy and path of practice is to experience Truth directly by stilling the turnings of the mind.

In the current culture of digital information exchange, there are seemingly endless media outlets and few filters to protect us from discovering agitating content.

When we simply seek to be informed about the events in our world we sometimes travel through a minefield of charged discussions and flaming egos that can unexpectedly throw fuel on our own inner embers. As meditators, does this remind you of anything? It reminds me of my own mind when sitting down to meditation practice.

What business is it of ours, this world of praise and blame? We are on a different path, a path leading to direct experience of truth. When we are met with a consciousness of divisiveness and unconstructive, distracting behaviors – whether in the environment or in our own minds – remember, all is practice – all is yoga.

In these trying moments, we can stop, breathe, and return our attention to the discovery of what is true in the present moment.  In this present moment, the only moment there is, we can access the wisdom to respond. Sometimes the response is simply the breath and attention. A simple action, yet powerful beyond measure. Even if the world appears to be urging us toward action, it matters not. What matters is that we bear witness to Truth, whether in action or in stillness.

In this culture of information overload, let our actions be discerning, thoughtful, and useful. Do what you know you should do and leave the rest.

All is practice – all is yoga.

Dharma 365!


Dharma 365!
A Year of Living Purposefully
A Life-Changing Year-long Web Course created by Yogacharya O’Brian

Learn More


Dharma 365!
is a year-long, online program created by my spiritual teacher, Yogacharya O’Brian, that is accessible to all and can be entered into at any time during the year. This course is designed to support individuals in living their lives in the highest way through immersion in dharmic studies and yogic philosophy.

In the words of Yogacharya O’Brian…

Capture the vision of your extraordinary life, then live it—thought by thought, word by word, action by action. Every day, delight in the beauty and grace of being fully alive.

Dharma is the spiritual foundation or profound order that exists in all creation. Learning what this spiritual foundation is for our lives, and how to cooperate with it, is the secret to our greatest happiness and true success. Who would set sail without a compass? Discovering your dharma is discovering your north star—the sure guide to living with higher purpose every day.

Enroll today and begin the journey of your extraordinary life!

End of Year Contemplation

new-years-day-1913100_1920I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! I am profoundly grateful for the year behind me and for the time we’ve spent in meditation and spiritual dialog together.
I am thinking of you as I prepare my end of year ritual and I share it again with you. If you are inspired, please join me by doing this practice in your home on New Year’s Eve or at a time of your choosing near New Year’s Day. If you do, I’d love to hear from you about your experience. I will be sharing mine.
Rather than looking to what we might change or begin in the new year, this New Year’s ritual is primarily focused on integrating, crystallizing, and celebrating all the learning and blessing of the past year. I share this as one way to honor the end of a calendar year. I hope it inspires you.

Reflection, Contemplation, Integration, Gratitude, Generosity.
Begin by reflecting upon the most significant events or milestones of your life in the past year. Name them in factual, non-judgmental,  uncolored ways. Keep the description concise for the moment. You will have the opportunity to add detail in the next step.

Consider these three categories.
Spend time in reflection and make a list of significant events.

  1. Body (transformation related to form, relationship with or wisdom of the body, or the essential life force)
  2. Mind (Mental, emotional transformation, acquisition of wisdom, or refinement of mind and emotions)
  3. Spirit (spiritual insight, transformation, or deepening of self-awareness)
Now, focus on no more than two events in each category and journal about each through these suggested lenses.
  1. Contemplation: Sit quietly and bring to mind each event. See them as an observer and seek to have the deepest understanding of the event and its impact upon your life.
  2. Integration: Examine the stage of integration that you feel you have reached regarding the event. Are you still learning about it? Have you grown in wisdom because of it?  Has this experience already become a part of you? Is there anything more you need to do to access the wisdom or gift of this life event?
  3. Gratitude: Express your gratitude for what the event has brought into your life, how it may have increased your awareness or activated a transformation.
  4. Generosity: Describe how you can pass along what you’ve received for the benefit of others.
To continue your process of integration, contemplation, and celebration you can write one word for each category of Body, Mind, and Spirit which summarizes and crystallizes the year and place these somewhere in your home as a reminder of your journey in 2016.

If you chose to join me in this contemplative ritual, dive deep and truly enjoy the process. Write your own 2016 story on this New Year’s Eve. Consider this writing a sacred scripture much like your own “bible”, full of wisdom and spiritual gifts. Let the words of wisdom you have written guide you into the new year.

Optional: The Burning Bowl
If you choose, at the completion of this process you can take these journal writings and burn them. Let your reliance be upon being fully present in lived experiences and moment to moment awareness of what is real and true. Take into your being all that has come to you in this year of life. Merge with it.

Let the flames licking the pages be a reminder of the ever-changing nature of life and the renewal of mind and consciousness. Everything is in a state of becoming and we are always becoming new.  Embracing this truth frees us from attachment to things and from clinging to the outcome of our actions. We are woven together with all other beings in an interdependent world of change. The suffering caused by our belief that things will not change can be transcended and we can be free.

May we each embrace change as an opportunity to grow beyond our perceived limitations, learning our strengths and weakness. May we meet change as a call to check our intentions, our spiritual maturity, and our integrity. May change constantly rekindle the fire of commitment to our practice and help us grow into full expression.

Happy New Year. May this new year be your finest ever.
Rev. P

Long Night Meditation Dec 20, 4:48 pm (PST)

On Tuesday, December 20th at sunset (4:48 pm pst) I will begin this year’s Long Night Meditation that will cross the threshold of the Winter Solstice at 2:44 am. I will be online meditating via Hangouts from sunset until 8 pm. I invite you to join as you are able. Each of you is held on the altar of my heart as I meditate through the night ’til dawn.

I am meditating and praying to honor the dark time, when seeds (of spiritual growth) are being nurtured below the surface of conscious awareness. During this time of meditation, I am also honoring the return of the light that begins officially at the hour of the Winter Solstice (2:44 am). This is a powerful symbol of the journey of awakening.

It is my spiritual heritage in Kriya Yoga that inspires me to extended meditation at this time of year. Paramahansa Yogananda always offered an all-day meditation during the winter Holy Days. My teacher and her teacher follow his example in their own way. And I, in my own way follow the soul call to turn within during the dark time of winter.

My intention is to hold vigil for our world as we move forward into the next cycle of the sun. Spirit is speaking to my heart and whispering that now is the time for women to step into our power and lead this nation in a revolution of the heart. Women must remind us all that we belong to one another, in the sense that we are born from each other and are truly sisters and brothers in the absolute. I hold vigil for all women as they discover what talents and gifts they will bring to this revolution of the heart.

This night I also hold vigil for you, my students and sisters in spirit – that you may be strengthened in your practice.

May our prayers and intentions bless all those who are in need of love, prayer, healing, shelter, food, companionship, and compassion. Please add your prayers to this vigil. Pray for our world and for one another. Do this in whatever way is natural for you. Symbolically place your own prayers and spiritual goals upon your altars.

Call or email me if you have questions or for any other reason at all. I love hearing from you.

Wishing you peace and blessing,
Rev. P

PARTICIPATION TIPS:

If you are joining for opening prayers, please join us a little before 4:45 pm to pray in and meditate with me for the first 30 minutes (or more if you choose).

** YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN IN THE MEDITATION AT ANY TIME
AND AS OFTEN AS YOU LIKE.**

After the start, I ask that you “come and go” quietly (mute your microphones) so you won’t disrupt meditation. There will be a bell signaling the 30 minute mark. And the Om chant, approximately 5 minutes after, will signal the beginning of the next 30 minutes of meditation.

Whether or not you are able to join me between 4:48 pm and 8:00 pm, know that my heart is with you throughout The Long Night.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.17

Moving forward from instruction on the categories of the movements of thought, Patanjali describes for us the particulars of the journey toward mastery over these turnings of thought.

In Sutra 16 Patanjali refers to”the highest dispassion” as a complete lack of craving with awareness of the True Self as an individuation of the Infinite. Along the meditative journey to this goal there is a first or lower level of highest dispassion that is samprajnata samadhi and within it are distinct stages that are now explained.

Samadhi is the mind’s natural state, Illumination and stability are its intrinsic virtues. The power to move and the power to flow are the mind’s inherent capacities. Its basic function is to illuminate the objects of the senses and present sensory experiences to fulfill the purpose of Consciousness within. A stable transparent mind perceives without distortion and presents objective experience to Consciousness without adding its own interpretation.
~ Pandit Rajmani Tigunait:  
SUTRA-1-17_760_427auto_intTranslations:
Concentration upon a single object may reach four stages: examination, discrimination, joyful peace and simple awareness of individuality. Source: How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali  (Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood)

Due to the nature of the object of focus the first stage of spiritual absorption, known as saṃprajñāta samadhi, is four-fold: vitarka anugata, vicāra anugata, ānanda anugata, and asmitā anugata. Source: The Secret of the Yoga Sutras (Pandit Rajmani Tigunait)

 
As fluctuations in awareness cease to obscure perception, one may experience the samadhi of wisdom (samprajnata samadhi) through four levels – reasoning, reflection, bliss and the pure sense of individual existence. Source: Offerings Winter 2009-2010 (Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian)
 
As fluctuations in awareness cease to be influential, one may experience samadhi along with subtle thoughts, partial Self-knowledge, and perceptions of bliss. Source: The Science of Self Realization (Roy E. Davis)
 
Rev. Priya’s Commentary: When we engage in our sitting practice and grow more and more still in body and mind, four identifiable stages can be realized. On the gross level (material, surface layer of awareness) concentration on an object becomes firm and fixed, and is associated with the name and form of the object. As we begin to reach a more subtle awareness, the gross appearance of the object fades and we begin to know the experience as mind and matter in a dance of relativity and ultimately as intelligence experiencing in body/mind. This releases us from habitual identification with the objects of sensual experience and a state of blissful freedom follows. This stage is known as ananda anugata and is the revelation of our own inherent joy that resides within the body/mind below the turbulent surface of restless thought. This now becomes the focus of contemplation. The fourth stage is asmita, or I-am-ness. In this state one simply rests in the pure awareness of being an individualized unit of the Source. This is oneness consciousness and the culmination of prajnata samadhi: the samadhi of wisdom.
Sutra image source: yogainternational.com

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.12 – 1.16

We continue on from the previous sutras, where Patanjali provides descriptors of the various mind states. Now we move into instruction for how to achieve mastery over these states.

source: yogainternational.com

image source: yogainternational.com

1.12 Translations

They are controlled by means of practice and non-attachment. Source: Isherwood, Prabhavananda – How to Know God

That can be controlled through practice and non-attachment. Source: Pandit Rajmani Tigunait: The Secret of the Yoga Sutras

Thier inhibition is by practice and detachment. Source: T. Leggett: Shankara on the Yoga Sutras

Fluctuations and modifications in the individualized field of awareness can be restrained can be restrained, restricted, and removed by meditation practice and dispassionate non-attachment. Source: Roy E Davis: The Path of Light

Cessation of the turnings of thought comes through practice and dispassion. Source: Barbara Stohler Miller: Yoga The Discipline of Freedom

 

Souce: Yogainternational.com

Souce: yogainternational.com

1.13 Translations

Ardent effort to retain the peaceful flow of mind free of roaming tendencies is abhyasa. (practice) Source: Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Practice is the effort to maintain in the cessation of thought. Source: Barbara Stohler Miller

Abhyasa-practice is vigilance in remaining there. Source: Vyas Houston – The Certainty of Freedom – Yoga Sutra Workbook.

image (Meditation) Practice is the steady flow of attention that stills thought waves. Source: Yogacharya Ellen O’Brian: Offerings Summer 2009

Of those two [practice and dispassion], the effort for being firmly established in that state [of controlled thought waves] is called practice. Source Baba Hari Dass: the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Study Guide Pada One

1.14 Translations

 

image source: yogainternational.com

image source: yogainternational.com

It [persistant practice] becomes firmly grounded when it has been practiced for a long, uninterrupted time with earnest devotion. Baba Hari Dass

 

(Meditation) becomes stable by intentional, persistent, uninterrupted practice. Yogacharya Ellen O’Brian

This practice is firmly grounded when it is performed for a long time without interruption and with zeal. Barbara Stohler Miller

That becomes firm only when done for a long period of time, with no interruption, and with reverence. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

 

image source: yogainternational.com

image source: yogainternational.com

1.15 Translations

Dispassion is the sign of mastery over the craving for sensuous objects. Barbara Stohler Miller

The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving for objects seen or heard about is non-attachment. Source: Swami Satchidananda The Yoga Suras of Patanjali

Vairagya-non-attachment is the full knowledge (declaration) of (one’s own-the seer’s) mastery (on the part of one who is) not clinging to visaya-objects, (already) experienced or described (by others). Vyas Houston

Dispassionate nonattachment is accomplished by renouncing cravings and instinctual urges. Source: Roy E Davis: The Path of Light

 

SUTRA-1-16 yogainternational1.16 Translations

Higher dispassion is a total absence of craving for anything material, which comes by discriminating between spirit and material nature.  
Barbara Stohler Miller

The higher (vairagya)-non-attachment) is the non-clinging to the gunas (primary forces of creation*) due to identity with purusa-the self. *sattva-light/ rajas-energy, activity/tamas – inertia, matter. Vyas Houston

The most accomplished renunciation results from Self-realization which enables one to disregard and transcend the actions of the cosmic forces regulated by the constituent attributes of nature (the gunas).  Roy E Davis

Note: See page 19 in Roy’s booklet: Word Meanings and Philosophical Concepts To Know  for further information on Gunas. You should each have a copy of this booklet. If you do not, let me know and I will send you one.

Rev. Priya’s Commentary: Cessation of the mental processes happens through firmly grounded, unceasing practice and dispassion – a lack of craving for sensual objects (objects that engage and stimulate the senses). The highest dispassion is the complete freedom from desire for anything material, drawn only to the spiritual – to that of spirit nature.

It is a common, mistaken idea to think that one must achieve a certain level of spiritual mastery to maintain a practice like this – one with such detailed and scientific design – but it simply requires emotional maturity, faith in the teachings, and the will to dedicate oneself to practice. Combine these attitudes with sustained practice, and dispassion follows. This method generates the clarity and evenness of temperament necessary to open the way and sure the ground for seeing and knowing Ultimate Reality, commonly known as God. Continual purification of body-mind through practice and the growing dispassionate attitude, which trains our attention on the goal, steadies us and ultimately releases us from habitual attractions. Then our awareness is purified sufficiently to perceive the subtle and luminous reality of our true Self in The Infinite.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.6 -1.11

Patanjali’s aphorisms now flow from Sutra 5 into Sutras 6 through 11 which describe the modifications or turnings of the mind.

There are five categories of mental modifications and they are either helpful or not helpful, obstructing or non-obstructing, pure or impure, tainted or untainted.

  1. Valid knowledge: Direct perception or sense perception.
  2. False knowledge: Misperception or misunderstanding.
  3. Illusion: mind colored by a thought that has no basis in reality. Fantasy.
  4. Sleep: The mind overcome by tamas guna, partial or complete loss of conscious awareness. The experience of nothingness.
  5. Memory: recollection of something previously experienced. Impressions brought forward from the storehouse of mind which color the mind by their arising.

The mind weaves in and out of the five categories of modification at all times and our work as spiritual practitioners is to remain aware of these states and ultimately overcome them. As they are all modifications veiling original, essential or pure awareness, they are slated for removal. But, as with everything in the sense realm, we first learn to live effectively while they are active, come to know and understand their presence and power, then use them to our advantage as objects of meditative contemplation.

Affirmatiowoman-1197149_1920ns for controlling the mind:

I examine objects taken in by the senses and contemplate their ultimate reality, their validity, and see through to their true nature. In this way, direct perception is useful.

I contemplate deeply the discovery of misunderstanding until I am able to avoid it in the future.

I do not indulge in fancy and fantasy and limit my mental musings to useful purposes. I use my imagination constructively for contemplation of higher realities.

I avoid indulging moods conducive to the passivity of mind and engage in sleep appropriately for restoration of body-mind. The resulting awareness of rest from active thought is healing and provides a glimpse into the states beyond reasoning.

I remain consciously aware and allow memories and latent impressions activated by sense stimuli to inform my life in positive ways while being aware of their ability to modify my current perceptions and trigger unhelpful reactions.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.5

Following the Sutras 1-4, which describe the goal of yoga as the cessation of the turnings of the mind, are the sutras categorizing these turnings of mind.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.5
The mental processes are of five kinds; some are pure and some are tainted.
(translation by T. Leggett)

The turnings of thought, whether corrupted or immune to corruption, are of five kinds.
(translation by B. Stohler-Miller)

Modifications of awareness are fivefold (and of two kinds). They may be afflicted, painful, impure, and imbued with restricting influences; or not painful, not impure, and devoid of restricting influences.
(translation by R. Davis)

Our constant companion, for better or for worse, is the mind. To enjoy a fruitful and joyful life we must be in right relationship with the mind, and so the world.  What does that mean? Being in right relationship is to limit the time spent entertaining mind states that are not useful and increasing periods of useful mind patterns.

The Yoga Sutras say there are basically five categories of mind states. Additionally, each mode is either useful to the path of awakening or a hindrance to awakening. At this time, we will focus on the two types (pure or tainted, useful or a hindrance) and will explore the five categories next time.

The mental processes, when they show up as disturbances, are caused by a confusion of the reflection of Self with the reflection of an object.  Another way to say this is – we forget that whatever is presenting itself is always an expression of Supreme Consciousness (Self). Our attention is turned toward the world as opposed to being turned toward the Sacred Center and then we identify with the world in error. So, the Universal nature of what is presenting is not seen but the particular, thingy-ness is. For example: I see a man acting out instead of seeing Spirit’s expression being blocked by personality. When I am turned outward toward the world I begin reacting to the personality rather than seeking dialogue with Spirit indwelling the individual.

Thoughts, actions, or speech that support oneness and awakening are pure – those that lead us away from oneness are tainted.

f lotus

Suggested, On-going exercise for study: Contemplate the sutra presented and write how this sutra speaks to and through you. Share that in your blog or in an email if you feel led.

Yoga Sutras 1.1-4

So many of us wonder why we came into this world- and why we didn’t have an instruction manual sent with us. It seems the instruction manual for the physical body is already in our DNA – and the bodily functions from metabolism to regulation of oxygen and self-healing are all onboard. But what about the manual for the mind? That instruction manual does exist and, in my opinion, it is Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is a series of progressive teachings on the nature of the mind offered by the sage Patanjali around 300 AD (it is believed).

As each of you have witnessed, life’s demands are many and our minds and emotions are often buffeted about in a way that seems out of our control, or at least out of our immediate control. The Yoga Sutras help us to understand how the turnings of the mind ripple out and return a distorted image of the world to us.

The teachings begin with outlining the goal, then a definition of yoga, followed by details of the means to achieve the goal (how to restrain the mental fluctuations). Next, the physical and mental abilities that the practices enhance are discussed, including the pitfalls they present which might lead us astray if we’re not careful.

And finally, so we will know what result we are looking for, there is a description of full liberation of consciousness or Kaivalya: meaning complete aloneness or Self-reliance. A great gift of the sutras is that we are given tools for how to know if we are making progress toward this goal.

The text is laid out in a style that is meant to support memorization. Each is a thread or string in a series of abbreviations of a larger exposition that is offered verbally . The abbreviation can be memorized and each one flows right into the next. What a way to be self-reliant, to carry the teaching in your mind without the need of written reference!

Now I won’t ask you to memorize the entire text- but I wanted you to know that this was the purpose of the format.

The way we will study the sutras together is to take it bit by bit. This will be the underlying framework for our spiritual studies going forward. This week we revisit the first four sutras and I ask that you memorize these – in English.

After reviewing the commentary of Roy E. Davis in The Science of Self-Realization (available here) 1.1-4 RoyEDavis and any other texts you have access to, restate them as you understand them, in your own words. Be creative – and have fun! These first four sutras are key. They truly explain the crux of the matter and set the stage for awakening.

Review video dharma talks including discussion of these sutras below.

Sutra discussion begins at 4:58 on this video.

 

 

 

 

Sutra discussion begins at 4:10 on this video. Alas, this recording was cut off and is missing Sutras 3 & 4.