On 2007

Browsing all posts on 2007


“I guess it’s time for me to abide in faith”. These words from “The Dark Night of the Soul” by Gerald G. May, M.D. really struck a cord with me. The context is when you are undergoing a ‘spiritual crisis’ of sorts – when you ask yourself if you believe in anything anymore or even care about it. I think we are so caught-up in the need for results or the need for clarity that we often fail to see the wisdom in the uncertainty. This great book talks about the ‘darkening’ of our senses, perceptions, intellect, intuition and soul in terms of divine ‘obscurity’. It is in the obscurity of our lives that God is doing his greatest work in us and through us. This must happen at a level that is inaccessible to us, obscure to us – to the ego – in order to allow for the miraculous to happen. We simply get in the way of grace and the ‘darkening’ or obscuring is the way in which God makes it ‘safe’ for our passage – otherwise we wouldn’t go where it is we have to go.

I have been questioning everything these last few years. My relationships, my family, my work, my decisions, my values, my faith, my yoga practice, my teachers, my ideas, etc. Sometimes my frustration with one or all of these facets of my life leaves me in a place of despair. Why can’t I seem to ‘get better’? Why doesn’t my life ‘improve’? Why is everything difficult? Why are my decisions all crap? How can I find peace? Why won’t God talk to me?

Then, in a moment of ‘alignment’ (grace?) everything appears to be fine – perfect even. I experienced such a moment a couple of weeks ago at an ashram in southern India. I was at the nightly puja in the magnificent Hanuman temple. Swami-ji was chanting something beautiful in the background and the Pundit was performing the ritual for blessings in the inner temple and tears just started rolling down my face. The moment was exquisite. The moment was pure beauty and that indescribable mix of joy and sorrow. Joy for the ‘perfect’ moment and sorrow for the knowledge that the moment wouldn’t last.

I was blessed to have been able to spend three weeks in Mother India. It was my first trip there but it most certainly won’t be my last. It’s as if I found another home-away-from-home in as much as Encinitas, CA was (is) for me – as I related in a previous posting. The Dharmikam Ashram is a very powerful and beautiful place and Swami-ji (Guru) Hanuman Das (Balachandran Nair) is a great, fierce man of God. A true warrior sage and healer. To witness his life’s work (the Dharmikam Ashram), his unconditional love and sense of duty, everyone's love of him, the healing work (Kalarichikilsa), the Indian children learning Kalaripayattu, the indescribably beautiful Hanuman Temple, the villagers, the staff and workers, the volunteers, the humbling devotion, the disciples, the other visiting westerners, etc. is a very moving experience and leaves one feeling very blessed to have been a part of it - if even for a short period of time. And the poverty of the people and the area (and the country) makes you count your blessings and be grateful for having been born an American. Yes, gratitude is one of the principal lessons that the Guru and the ashram teach.

The ashram is quite small – currently seven rooms for visitors – but this is what makes it so special. I feel as if I’m one of the lucky few that have been able to spend time with Master (Swami-ji) while the ashram is still small. Who knows what the future will bring? I’m just not someone who goes for the large ‘crowd’ or organization. So I feel very fortunate to have found my way to him – perhaps before he is ‘discovered’ by a larger audience. While a visit to a large ashram with hundreds if not thousands of other devotees may be a special experience of its own kind, I prefer an intimate situation.

Now I am back in New York City. It made the change to winter while we were gone. So coming back means many adjustments – a different practice, different clothes, different food, different pace, different season, different energy, different me, etc. I decided to quit my job. I’m tired of living in fear and holding onto something (a miserable something) just for fear of losing it (especially a paycheck). I want to live a life where fear isn’t a factor in my decisions. I want to live a life where love is the universal factor and the motivating force. I don’t know what’s next for me. I have lots of ideas but no planned steps. The path ahead is obscure. I guess it’s time for me to abide in faith.

OM Shantih,


PS – I’ll try to post my India photos gallery ASAP. It’ll be on DharmaBuilt.com

Burn away that which does not serve me

It’s my new mantra, but with it comes a certain amount of trepidation. Often personal and spiritual growth comes as a result of upheaval or drastic change. I can honestly say that my own ‘growth trajectory’ always shot up after first having various circumstances of my life plummet or fall apart. A loss, a break-up, a breakdown, an injury, a realization of a long-standing denial, suffering the consequences of shameful behaviors, uncertainty around work or income, catastrophe, tragedy, etc. Why is this? Why must we suffer so much before having a moment of clarity? My own personal metaphor/vision is that of being in the prizefighting ring and having the living shit beaten out of me by some colossus (Mike Tyson in his prime comes to mind) – only to keep staggering to my feet to defiantly offer-up my chin for the next blow. It has taken me years to understand that this is another of my own self-imposed conceptual models that manifests itself to my unconscious bidding. Once again Abdi Assadi helped me recognize my own twisted masochism in this. Who is this person that takes, no, WILLS and even WISHES the beating in the first place?

Why not envision another way? Why not become your own proverbial phoenix and simply burn away those ideas of ‘necessary suffering’ as well? With Abdi’s help I’ve recognized in myself something that is so prevalent in Western society – self-loathing. It permeates our being (and society) to the very core and we have been force-fed this idea that we must suffer in order to ‘get somewhere’ – in order to break free – in order to become a ‘better’ person – in order to finally accept ourselves as who we truly are. No pain, no gain. Bullshit.

It’s fear. We hold onto even our ‘suffering’ in the midst of the mystery or possibility of something else – something different – something unknown. Sometimes I feel that I would rather hold onto something ‘bad’ as opposed to not having that something to hold onto at all. Fear of the unknown is a very fundamental thing. Fear of the possibility of even more suffering – but unfortunately it’s that very fear that keeps us trapped and ultimately keeps us from the possibilities of true freedom.

I have been living in fear for most my life. This has been a very recent realization. I had often thought that I was a fearless man. I’ve faced harrowing circumstances, often just to ‘test’ myself – to face my fears, but I now know that these were distractions for the ego. Smoke and mirrors. My most harrowing ordeals simply stare back at me from the bathroom mirror every day. They lurk at the base of every breath I take and reside in the tension I carry in my hips and shoulders. What would it mean to really live in the moment without fear? What would it mean to not continually grasp at the future with greedy, clawing fingers hoping to ‘get something’ that will satisfy us to the extent that we’re at peace with ourselves in our lives?

Sometimes it is in the letting go that we actually gain the most. For me it’s the letting go of the fear of being alone, the fear of never having enough, the fear of never being able to take care of myself, the fear that I’m not good enough, the fear that I’m in the wrong place, the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, the fear that my decisions are all crap - all ultimately based upon the fear of dying. As Abdi told me, it’s like you’re holding onto something so hot it’s burning you – but you refuse to drop it because you’re afraid to. And for what? So burn me then. Burn me until I drop you. Burn me clean. Forge me anew. Cleanse me. Heal me. Free me!

We can’t have a conditional relationship with God. We can’t pray for healing, clarity, peace, abundance, love, etc. and yet have the conscious (or unconscious) desire to hold onto the things that keep us from having all that in the first place - blindly hanging onto some dysfunctional status quo. Just as the prayer in the last posting says, we must surrender our fears – we must surrender EVERYTHING to God and the universe. Offer-up yourself to the fire (or the light if that’s easier for you) of purification so that you can finally live a life without fear.

To live such a life would be a wondrous thing.

OM Shantih,


Just be open – you are guided

Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of thee;
Thou only knowest what I need;
Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself.
O Father, give to Thy child that which
he himself knows not how to ask.
I dare not ask either for crosses or for consolations;
I simply present myself before thee,
I open my heart to Thee.
Behold my needs which I know not myself;
see and do according to Thy tender mercy.
Smite, or heal;
depress me or raise me up;
I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them;
I am silent;
I offer myself in sacrifice;
I yield myself to Thee:
I would have no other desire than to accomplish Thy will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray Thyself in me.
- François de Salignac Fenelon,
Archbishop of Cambray, 1651­-1715, AD

My closest, greatest teacher (Abdi Assadi) has to constantly remind me of this fact (posting title) but I’ve struggled with the idea of it my entire life. More-and-more I look at myself and see the problems with my mind – the way it works – the ‘monkey mind’ as it were. It’s extremely difficult NOT to be your own greatest obstacle/enemy, especially when you have significant ‘childhood woundings’, caretaker tendencies, and self-esteem issues that you’re working through.

I recently came across the Web site for Steve Pavlina and specifically his blog posting for working with intentions: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/06/how-intentions-manifest/

Steve says, “Whatever you imagine with enough energy will eventually manifest. If your thoughts are clear and focused, you’ll manifest your desires relatively quickly and easily. If your thoughts are jumbled and chaotic, you’ll manifest a seemingly random and haphazard life for yourself.”

Also well put was, “Regardless of whether I think the universe is objective or subjective, I know that my dominant thoughts are the key determinants of my results in life. My thoughts control my decisions, and my decisions over time control my results. When I really understood that, I assumed a new level of responsibility for every thought that went through my mind. I decided to take conscious control of my thoughts no matter what. I saw that I could no longer afford to have my mind haphazardly dwelling on things I didn’t want.”

I read his posting a couple of times and really appreciated his message. I looked at his biographical information and came to appreciate it even more. It seems that some of us must hit ‘rock-bottom’ before we can begin our ascension. Another teacher of mine (Rolf Gates) said that (and I’m paraphrasing from memory), “I had to be utterly and completely humbled before I was willing to surrender to guidance from a higher power”.

It is an interesting type of masochism that works in me (us?) that wants to continually validate the idea that the universe is conspiring against me or at least ‘deaf’ to our intentions and prayers. I can honestly say that my mind has an unhealthy affinity for gravitating towards the negative. It’s self-sabotage at the level of thought – and these tendencies are the ‘intention killers’ that Steve Pavlina talks about. Every time I think that I can’t do something, I’ll fail at something, something won’t work-out, something will go wrong, I won’t be supported, etc. – that’s EXACTLY what happens. I’ve grown extremely adept at manifesting the things I don’t want because I focus on them at the level of thought MUCH MORE than the things I do. Interesting stuff! I mean, my ego is EXPERT at this – and the ego LOVES being the expert. The great masters tell us that this is the ego mind continually trying to CONTROL everything – and it asserts control by negating the limitless possibilities of the universe. Basically, the mind doesn’t want us to believe that there is another power (other than itself) that is actually in control – another power (the only power) that we’ve forgotten by design – the power we must strive to remember, honor and access.

I remember Myron Stolaroff (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myron_Stolaroff) speaking about “being above the line or below the line” in meditation (podcast: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=110 - an astoundingly beautiful tribute to Dr. Albert Hoffmann on the occasion of his 100th birthday). My understanding of this concept has a lot to do with the noise of the mind, a kind of ‘thermo cline’ – like barrier that separates realms of thought/being (emptiness/receptivity). If I can remain ‘above the line’ I am in a place where the negative tendencies of the ego mind can’t go – if I fall ‘below the line’, I am at their mercy and lost in suffering.

I am not a good meditator. I do not have a consistent practice. My Ashtanga hatha yoga practice is the type of ‘moving meditation’ that I can easily grasp on a consistent basis because it suits my personality type and perhaps my level of spiritual development. I wish I could do better in this regard. I am too easily distracted. Consistent meditation is too difficult for me. Funny thing about these thoughts – I’ve done it yet again…

OM Shantih,