On 2006

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Yogash Chita Vritti Nirodha

This is the Samadhi Pada (Chapter or Book 1), sutra #2 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It appropriately follows the first, "Atha Yoganushasanam" - which basically means "And now, the science of yoga..."

This sutra (#1;2 - Yogash Chita Vritti Nirodha) has taken on numerous meanings for me. It has many different levels of understanding - as does ALL of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These aren't straightforward lessons, oh no, these are the multicolored, multilayered gems that grow with us as we grow. Never standing still. Never one dimensional.

"Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuation of the mind" is one interpretation. And as I get older and my practice(s) deepen, I am always brought back to this sutra.

My mind betrays me at every turn, at every opportunity. I am either living in the delusion of the past or in the fantasy of the future. I am ALWAYS it seems, living in some construct of my mind's own making. Living in a story of my own creation. And these never-ending stories have become a prison of which I am becoming more-and-more aware.

As within, so it is without.

I've been listening to Rage Against the Machine at work these last couple of days. This puts me in the 'fighting mood' as it were. Not to be taken literally of course. More so, it makes me look at the world we live in and feel the incredible frustration, disappointment and anger that this EXTREMELY powerful band was able to capture and convey through their music. I wish they were still around. We as a society need the kind of 'kick in our complacency' that these guys were able to deliver. Where have their like gone?

Then I read an interview article this morning with Tias Little about how he has completely embodied the teachings of yoga and expresses them throughout every aspect of his life. He is a brilliant teacher and has a simple, but powerful message. Don't do yoga, allow yoga to do you. Of course I speak of the yogic lifestyle - not just the asana/Hatha Yoga practice. The life of mindful contemplation of the present moment is the freedom we seek from the prison of our own frenetic minds. When we embody the lessons of yoga - we connect not only on the level of the micro - but also on that of the macro. I will admit that my own meditation practice (and I use that word rather loosely), is haphazard at best. The practice of asana comes much more easily to me. I am learning to 'quiet' myself a little more each year. The Mysore Ashtanga practice has helped me with this to a great degree. If it weren't for this 'quiet time', on an almost daily basis, I would have to say that I probably wouldn't be in the 'place' where I could even conceive of writing this blog - much less attempt its subject matter - namely myself under a microscope. Public therapy.

Quiet down. Get out of your own mind - out of your own way. You are NOT your thoughts. Associate with 'higher vibratory energies' - activities, friends, work, food, media, etc.

"Does this path have a heart?" and "To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life" (Carlos Casteneda).

You (Barry) MUST lead a disciplined life. If I don't, I am lost.

Much love and peace to you all - everyone - everywhere.

OM Shantih,


Be ever mindful of your thoughts!

I recently worked (again) with the 'teacher plant' salvia divinorum. This is a very powerful psychoactive entheogen that I approach with a high degree of reverence and respect. It's traditional use is by the indigenous curanderos (healers) of the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, Mexico. Without going into a long discourse on the nature of teacher plants and what we can learn from them, let me just say that the lessons imparted during a SD session are unlike anything you may encounter in the 'real world'. First, the 'real world' is but one of many and the true nature of it is that of energy and consciousness. I'll leave it at that. Many intrepid explorers and healers have preceded me on this type of journey - going back thousand-upon-thousands of years. Of note are the likes of Aldous Huxley, Carlos Castaneda, Terrence McKenna, Ram Das (Richard Alpert), Timothy Leary, Daniel Siebert and a host of contemporary notables - typical found in the community of alternative medicine, the study indigenous peoples healing/spiritual practices, and the study of the nature of consciousness and our physical world/reality. Unfortunately this type of study requires one being somewhat discreet as the negative connotations of 'drug use' are pervasive and negatively impact the responsible use of entheogens by respectful adults simply asking the fundamental questions of human existence and experience -"Who/what am I?", "Where do I come from and where am I going?", "How do I heal myself, others, the planet?", "How do I serve the greater good and how do I live to my highest potential?", "Can I talk to you God, do you hear me, and can I (please) hear you?".

The great masters and teachers do not require the assistance of a teacher plant such as SD to divine the answers to these (simple to them) questions. But there are very few 'enlightened' masters in the world and they are not readily accessible! So, the consummate searcher/explorer that I am requires a radical (but practical) approach. This is NOT a recreational pursuit or pastime. The teacher plant will NOT tolerate being treated with such disrespect. As it stands, I am terrified of its use. But the very core of my being is even more terrified of NOT using it and remaining ignorant of the wisdom it can impart. Let this be a warning to you.

During this last session, it became startlingly apparent that we 'construct' our perceptive reality by the thoughts we choose to think. This may sound a little vague or worse, smack of a typically overused pseudo-spiritual platitude, but the experience was that of 'real-time' construction of reality (see Terrence McKenna's reference to machine elves) according to the 'direction' of my thoughts. We can choose to think in negative/cynical/pessimistic terms, or we can make the choice to think optimistically and remain positive in our daily outlook. The choice is ours to make and I now have a new-found respect for the much misunderstood notion of "the power of positive thinking"! This practice isn't easy in our complex and sometimes harsh world. So, I think our task is to find what is important (positive) and to strip away that which is negative. We are definitely influenced by the company we keep, the media we choose to consume, the foods we eat, the practices/past-times we pursue, etc. Ska Maria la Pastora (SD) is telling us to be mindful of our habitual patterns of thought and to make a conscious effort to focus on the 'sweet' as opposed to the 'bitter'. We co-create our reality, but we alone create our life experience and it's trajectory. That journey can be full of beauty, peace and compassion, but we must make the choice to pursue and live beauty, peace and compassion. You won't find it by constantly associating with (and consuming) violence, malice, pain, suffering, ugliness, vanity, greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, etc.

OM Shantih,


Does this Path have a Heart?

So I woke up at 5:00AM today with my mind FULL of thoughts and memories of innumerable mistakes and examples of foolish and even reprehensible behavior. As one passed, another exploded into my mind to easily take its place. After a while I found it rather comical that I could easily 'will' another shameful example and yet couldn't remember a single example of something good I had done. It's as if my mind was 'blocked' or stuck in one mode (negative/bad memories) and refused to switch channels. I thought of the 'big mind' technique of meditation and of the various players in our mind and knew that my self-critical mind was in full control. This of course didn't help one bit and all I could do was to simply ride it out! Ugh.

I was scheduled to go on an IMS/Vipassana meditation retreat this past week. It was a 14 day program. At the last moment I chose not to go because of practicalities (money) and such. Here I am looking for work, behind on my bills and I'm contemplating going away for 2 weeks on a meditation retreat! Funny how we always seem to have either plenty of time on our hands but not enough money or vice versa.

It's so very difficult to ACTUALLY believe that things are as they should be. Particularly when you take the time on a regular basis (sadhana) to check in and simply observe. For me the practice of yoga, meditation, therapy/counseling, introspection, reading books by the great masters, etc. is that 'checking-in'. As difficult as one's external situation is or can be, it can always be comforting to find a bit of peace in your spiritual practice.

But when your internal world is under assault, it's hard to find a still point. That's when a spiritual practice shows us the way...

I am contemplating my options and opportunities as far as a new F/T position is concerned. I've been out of work since late August. The time-off has been good - more time with Dana and Lefty, but the usual stress is always present. A pattern I see repeating itself as far as the work search is concerned is that if I go for money, the commute is horrid, the environment lousy, the work stressful, the hours long, etc. but if I happen upon a gig where those characteristics are actually good, then the money isn't. What's with that? I suppose it's the reminder that you should simply take the opportunity that represents the best chance at personal and professional growth (follow your heart) and turn a blind eye towards the salary. Kind of a variation on the theme that if you follow your heart or do what you love, the money will come (eventually).

Speaking of following one's heart, I came across one of my favorite quotes yesterday:

"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that a path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free from fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once whan I was very young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I understand it. I will tell you what it is. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are a path going through the bush or into the bush...In my own life I could say that I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor's question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart and the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
by Carlos Casteneda

OM Shantih,