6/06/16 Monday Night Class: Sun Mantras, Ganesha, and the Incredible Lightness of Being…

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This week’s class fell on 6/06/16 which got me thinking about the significance of the number six. If you stop think about it, the number six is composed of 2 3’s and/or 3 2’s. The 2’s represent opposite poles and the movement towards balance. The 3’s represent a unifying synthesis, the sacred trinity we find in so many traditions. When you put that all together, you can see why you end up with a number that is connected to the exuberant amazing glorious expressive, and most of all life-giving Sun…

Here’s a quote from Vicki Noble’s Motherpeace Tarot:

Sixes: Exuberance

The Sixes are full and expressive, a peak number, always expansive and positive in some way. Six represents exuberance or triumph, being on top of things. Like the Sun sitting at the center of the solar system, Six sits at the center of the Kabalistic Tree of Life and radiates out in every direction, saying, “yes!” Six represents a moment of decisive action or a climax of some sort, a moment of glory.

Which all seemed an excellent jumping off point for a class that constellated around the fifth Sun mantra, the creation story of Ganesha, and the inner possibility of soaring…

ॐ खगाय नमः
om khagāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Khaga, who travels the sky like a bird…

I love all the Sun mantras, but this is one that always jumps out at me. I love the image of light traveling through the sky like a bird. I also love the way “light” as in light and “light” as in lightness are so connected. Which gets me thinking about the incredible lightness of being we feel in the presence of people who are, well, full of light. People who have a buoyancy of spirit and soul that soars like a bird. And what a delight (there’s that word again) to have them in our lives. Because let’s face it. Most of us lean towards the heaviness of being. We are gravity-based creatures. And that’s not just the gravity of Earth. There’s a potent gravitational force in the demands of daily life, in the stress we hold in our bodies, in the narratives and belief systems that can (and often do) keep us down. Although we don’t like to admit it, many of us prefer to be stressed out. It’s familiar, provides solid reasons for everything that’s not working in our lives, and most of all, distracts us from remembering we are finite being living in an unfathomable mystery we will never be able to control. The irony being that the Mystery does seem to be made of light…

 

Here’s my opening dharana on the mantra Om Namaha Shivaya  as a bird with two wings:

 

And here is this week’s dharma talk, a weaving of the well-known creation story of Ganesha from the Shiva Purana with 5th Sun mantra. I’m interested in what it takes to foster the incredible lightness of being embodied in Ganesha and articulated in this mantra. One point I didn’t get into in this talk is looking at Ganesha as a threshold keeper. If you look at the two common epithets assigned to “him,” Lord of Beginnings and Gatekeeper of the Sacred Feminine, you can see what I’m talking about. But what does that really mean, to be a threshold keeper. Ganesha resides in the space between, embodying a perfect balance, a lightness of being that makes it possible to ride on the back of mouse without crushing it. In my opinion, this is the reason for spiritual practice. So that we can walk lightly on the Earth, lightly through ups and downs of daily life, and perhaps most important since it makes these first two possible, walk lightly within ourselves…

 

 

The Glow of Your Presence
Hafiz  [English version by David and Sabrineh Fideler]

Where have you taken your sweet song?
Come back and play me a tune.

I never really cared for the things of this world.
It was the glow of your presence
that filled it with beauty.

Monday, 5.23.16 Class: We Cling to the Present Which Has Already Become the Past Because We’re Terrified of the Future: Om Bhanave Namaha and the Kleshas

The literal translation of the fourth Sun mantra, ॐ भानवे नमः om bhānave namaḥ is “Salutations to Bhānu, the bright splendor of light.”  I’ve also seen it translated as “the diffuser of light.” Thinking about this week’s class, I was intrigued by the notion of diffusing, less as an aspect of the Sun — more in the way the mind diffuses light. Specifically that innate light otherwise knows as the inner Self. Which is the light that actually illuminates the mind so we’re even aware we’re thinking, let alone having peak experience enlightening flashes of insight.

When the mind is crystal clear, this inner light diffuses in its bright splendor aspect. When it’s not, the light diffusing through the mind’s lens (or lenses), will be distorted. Sometimes just a bit. Sometimes so much that it’s obliterated in the opacity.

Which brings me to the kleshas, those lovely lenses so brilliantly articulated in the great text of yogic psychology, Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra. If you’re new to this blog and/or unfamiliar with this text, do visit May 15, 2011 in the Archive. For a quick reference, here you go:

The Kleshas
Avidya is the lens that clouds our ability to know our true nature, which according to Yoga is light.
Asmita is the lens that tricks us into buying into that small sense of self that is prone to suffering.
Raga is pleasure, which, when tangled up with avidya and asmita, gets us all caught up in clinging to what makes us feel good.
Dvesha is aversion, which when tangled up with avidya and asmita, creates a profound separation from everything and anything we label as “bad.”
Abinivesha is clinging to life (or any situation) because we fear death (or change).

Needless to say, the mind is a complex instrument, managing any number of receiving, perceiving, discerning, projecting, remembering, associating, etc. functions at the same time. And the kleshas are right in there, wreaking havoc in the process. So this week’s talk explores the relationship between the kleshas and this fourth Sun mantra.

Here’s the opening dharana:

Here’s my dharma talk:

There were new people in the room this week so I spoke a bit about mantra.  Here is that clip:

 

Finally, here are this week’s readings. First two poem from Coleman Bark’s translation of the poetry of Lalleshwari, Naked Song.  Although Lalla would not have known the Yoga-Sutra, you can see how in both these poems, she is teaching about the kleshas.

 

Two From Lalleshwari

1.
Wear just enough clothes to keep warm.
Eat only enough to stop the hunger-pang.

And as for your mind, let it work
to recognize who you are,
and the Absolute, and that
this body will become food
for the forest crows.

2.
Enlighten your desires.
Meditate on who you are.
Quit imagining.

What you want is profoundly expensive,
and difficult to find,
yet closeby.

Don’t search for it. It is nothing,
and a nothing within nothing.

 

And a Sheikh Nasrudin story and commentary from Swami Muktananda’s, Where Are You Going? A Guide to the Spiritual Journey:

 

Once Sheikh Nasrudin woke up early in the morning, before it was light. He called his disciplele, Mahmud, and said, “Go outside and see if the sun has risen.” Mahmud went out and came back inside.

   “It’s pitch black,” he said. “I cannot see the sun at all.”

   At this, Nasrudin became very angry. “You fool,” he shouted. “Haven’t you got the sense to use a flashlight?”

   That is exactly what we do. To expect a spiritual technique to reveal the indwelling God is like expecting a flashlight to illumine the Sun. A flashlight cannot shine beside the Sun. Like the Sun, the Self is always shining with its own effulgence. What sadhana can illumine the Self. Only through a subtle and sublime intellect can we know it. We meditate and perform spiritual practices only in order to make the intellect pure enough to reflect the effulgence of the Self.    

Baba did teach a great deal from Patanjali and in this quote, although he’s not using technical language, he is very much speaking about spiritual practice as a way to clean and polish the mind (here referred to as intellect) so that nothing hinders, obstructs, distorts, or extinguishes the shining bright splendor of the Self.

May 20, 2016: We May As Well Love It Cause It’s Not Going Away…

The last time I checked in here, it was November and I was settling into my new home. What I’d not yet begun to write about was my discovery and subsequent love affair with the Surya Namaskar mantras. These mantras came to me in April 2015 and after a few weeks of singing them, it was clear they were the centerpiece of our next album in The Mantra Project collection. That album, Mantras of the Sun,  released April 22, 2016 and debuted at #2 on iTunes World Music Chart. I’m developing a new blog devoted solely to these mantras and my own contemplations of the Sun. More on that when it goes live. In the meantime, if you’d like to listen or buy it, it’s available wherever music is streamed and/or sold. And if you have any problems finding it online, please visit my website, suzingreen.com.

The Sun mantras are elemental mantras, embodying twelve aspects of the Sun. For me personally, working with them has been an ongoing revelation. Early on in the process, I realized how much I’ve taken this extraordinary star that just happens to be our Sun, for granted.  It is after all the source and sustainer of life on Earth, always there even when we don’t see it. The absolute center of our solar system, it’s way more than a metaphor or archetype. It’s a fully embodied form and rather amazing mirror of our own inner light.

For those who visit this blog who don’t attend class or have not been to Mantras of the Sun concerts, I’ll include the mantras at the end of this post.

We’ve now had many classes constellated around these mantras. Over the coming months, as I’m able to blog here, I’ll post more content from this last year of Monday Night Class. Rather than go back to the beginning however, I’m posting material from this week, Monday, May 16, 2016. The contemplation for this class was “Generosity” and the mantra we focused on was:

om sūryāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Sūrya, the self-luminous light

 

Here’s the opening dharana: 

 

As I wrote above, the topic for class this week was “Generosity.” And if you think about the Sun, I think you’ll agree, among its many aspects, generosity is a key one. The Sun shines down on this entire planet, offering its life giving energy in the forms of light and heat and asking nothing, NOTHING, in return. You want a role model for right living, perhaps I should call it “light living,” make friends with the Sun.

 

Here’s my dharma talk from May 16:

[audio

 

Here are the poems and the story:

Making the House Ready for the Lord
Mary Oliver

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice – it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances – but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

 

 

The Place I Want to Get Back To
Mary Oliver
 

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness
 
and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
 
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting
 
on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
 
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
 
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
 
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
 
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.
 
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

This post is already so long I’lll end with the mantras and include the Jataka Tale  I told on my next post. Here are the mantras.

THE TWELVE SŪRYA NAMASKAR MANTRAS
ॐ मित्राय नमः
om mitrāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Mitra, the friend of all
ॐ रवये नमः
om ravaye namaḥ |
Salutations to Ravi, whose radiance hums
ॐ सूर्याय नमः
om sūryāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Sūrya, the self-luminous light
ॐ भानवे नमः
om bhānave namaḥ |
Salutations to Bhānu, the bright splendor of light
ॐ खगाय नमः
om khagāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Khaga, who moves through the sky like a bird
ॐ पूष्णे नमः
om pūṣṇe namaḥ |
Salutations to Puṣan, whose cleansing light gives strength
ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः
om hiraṇyagarbhāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Hiraṇyagarbha, the golden egg resplendent as the sun
ॐ मरीचये नमः
om marīcaye namaḥ |
Salutations to Marīci, the shining particle of light
ॐ आदित्याय नमः
om ādityāya namaḥ
Salutations to Āditya, the son of Aditi, the mother of the gods
ॐ सवित्रे नमः
om savitre namaḥ |
Salutations to Savitṛ, the vivifying power of the sun
ॐ अर्काय नमः
om arkāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Arka, whose flash of light is a song upon the earth
ॐ भास्कराय नमः
om bhāskarāya namaḥ |
Salutations to Bhāskara, the beautiful splendor of light

Monday, July 6, 2015: What We Say is Way Less Important Than What We Are…

We’re currently in a cycle of teachings that constellate around a very important piece of inner work: the balancing act of creativity – how we express ourselves to ourselves and in the world — and compassion – how we interact within ourselves and in the larger world. When these two aspects are out of balance, we open ourselves to all kinds of not so great mental/emotional states. Creativity not held in compassion can be crippling while compassion not held in creativity can be devouring. When they work together however, we can truly live in Beauty…

Along with the exploration/contemplation of Creativity and Compassion, I’ve been adding a parallel immersion of mantras of the sun ….This has been a very rich and profoundly integrative cycle of teachings and practice. I will most likely gather these talks into a small book to be offered as a companion piece to our new album, Volume II of The Mantra Project. This album was initially inspired by the surya namaskar mantras and has now expanded to include all mantras of the sun. We’re looking at a late fall release.

In the meantime, I want to begin posting dharma talks from this time.

Here’s my dharma talk from June 8, which this blog post is titled after:

Here is my talk from June 1:

And here is the introductory talk I gave back in April that introduced this cycle of teachings to Monday Night Class.

There are many poems and other readings from this time that I will post here over the coming weeks. Slowly making progress in that endeavor. For now, please enjoy these talks.