In a dream, I went with my beloved to an ancient building in South India about 5 stories high with four sides and a large courtyard in the middle. It had become run down and the courtyard had turned into mud. It was raining, and dark, and the whole scene represented the degeneration of what the tantras had fallen into. Within the courtyard I reached into the mud and pulled out what looked like two glass marbles.
One was beautifully clear with an orange tinted sea shell embedded inside of it, like a sun-rise shell from the island of Kauai. Inside the sea shell there were 12 mystical scrolls written in what is called Dakini script, consisting not of words and letters as we commonly know them, but an unfolding transmission of almost unlimited depth, which I could read. The first scroll was an introduction to Tantra, including higher consort practice, as a legitimate path, and how a sincere practitioner should have confidence in this beyond all doubt. The remaining scrolls went into subtleties.
The second marble was dark colored and was meant to rest in the heart. This represented an anchor from far beyond and within, a non-dual awareness, which I innately knew. It also represented that the tantric wisdom and application transmitted in the first sphere was useless without that innate anchor which is rare and impossible to grasp.
THE HIGHER TANTRAS
There are a number of schools each giving opinions of how to enter the vast weavings and wisdoms of what this word ‘Tantra’ is indicative of. Some believe it starts as a synonym for more sensuous sex and the openings that occur with that. For some it is an interactive play of our physical and subtle realities, including more conscious relationship. For some it is more about ritual, mantra, and knowledge held within a tradition as a ‘way’ of conscious application and discovery.
Just as the ocean is large,
so are the number of approaches
flowing into and out of each other
within the vastness of our creation.
From my passionate love of sadhana such as mantra, pranayama, stillness, self-examination, grace, long sittings, and the transmissions that come from that space, I have come to understand that tantra as a path starts not with the senses, but far beyond them. This is realized by a purity of meditative application, again and again, where we nakedly reach within to open beyond the labels of self and world, bringing forth purity, space, and radiance. As this becomes familiar, it is called ‘non-dual’ awareness, and while one has always been there, it takes continued application to integrate into a play of conscious continuity.
Resting in this simple and profound awareness beyond the self-absorbed play of mind, provides the necessary foundation for a higher sense of tantra and its fruit. Without this, it is like a continual merry-go-round, around and around we go.
So the higher tantras, indicated by the dark colored marble in the dream shared above, gains power and grace through familiarity beyond the confines of individuality – and yet is present within embodiment.
This is not abstract, intellectual, or dull - but a stark,
unconditioned reality as awareness,
prior to thought,
from which we birth ourselves continually,
as the eternal inter-play of great mother.
While wonderful, for some the pure alive space by itself is not enough, the rarified endless realms of subtle play by themselves are not enough, physical embodiment is not enough, rather it is the way it all is interwoven together that is indescribable, and hence the eternity of creation.
In our upward journey, at first with glimpses and then stability, we experience ourselves as a living light like a clothing of primal mind within the formless directly revealing the secrets of creation and soul. This gives us a ‘perspective’ to evolve in a way that is frankly, impossible otherwise. One can do normal things, have normal thoughts and at the same moment be aware of so much, so many beings, and even that is just the play. It increases refinement, joy, experience, and freedom.
How does one rest in action, rest in this liberation, experience for oneself beyond oneself?
WHAT IS ETERNAL YOGA
Eternal Yoga, a term given to me at the end of a winter retreat in the Himalayas, is a set of practices where we go above our head to discover our eternal nature beyond conceptualization and individuality, while at the same time increasing our individual definition. This brings forth a conscious continuum where we know for ourselves what is our spirit, our soul, and the weaving into our embodiment.
It is not for everyone, but for some, driven from within there is no stopping on the way. We refine the thoughts, emotions, and body with positivity to bring a stability of vitality with no excuses. That means if one way is closed, we use another, with no one to complain to. The clarity of practice becomes a lifeline, because in that clarity we gain stability of application where we can bring our attention into an inner space and become absorbed in it. As the scattering stops, we can focus on a point, in a quality of energy, or in whatever form our chosen path is. So the tantric path begins as a yogic one using the tools of the trade to continually find support within.
It is at this stage, typically after a few years, that the path of Eternal Yoga becomes viable and rich, because we can apply ourselves. A second prerequisite is to develop a habit of self-empowerment where we realize that no one can realize this for us, and thus the sink or swim reality of overcoming doubt. Conjoined with this is a sense of wanting the best for everyone, the highest. This opens our heart, and without that there is no opening from which to begin our journey. It also loosens the bounds of self to experience in many beings.
BEGINNING THE PRACTICE
So with a meditative stability sit quietly and bring awareness to the spacious energy within your body and coming into it from below and through it. Next rest in the heart for a while. If scattered return to breathing techniques, movement, or other ways of becoming centered.
Leaving a part of yourself in the heart bring awareness just below the crown and feel its gradual opening. Now grow to include the space just above your physical crown. It is from this place that your chakras originate like reflections. Stay aware that your spirit like essence has taken the shape of your body and flows through it, which is an enjoyable and subtle feeling. Do not at this stage place your sole attention on the crown. You can also softly explore areas in the head, each of which has different qualities of subtle pranas corresponding to states of mind and awareness.
At first in this kind of activation, typically a combination of our seed thoughts and karmas increase, and combine with a projection of a busy egoic mind and emotions into that space. It is a phase of purification of the subtle body to continue through, and it helps to take the support of kriya and mantra in your sadhana and to be patient. Feel free to explore your sensitivity and extension, but do not project egotistically to try to gain what you want in the world into this space. Likewise stay in the body, not out of it – develop that sense of growing within it. Here we will increase a sense of soul, of primal elemental awareness, and insight.
The next step is to move further up about 3 to 6 feet. There is a dual action, one of which is spacious and one where you condense into a point like presence. This is a higher aspect of the mind which can embody over vast space, yet to stay awake within it we also need definition. Your point like presence will bring a keen awareness of your causal self. An advanced practitioner can awaken the kundalini in the body, which has the same causal essence from this place, or likewise effect a large field of energy. There is a bit more to it, but this shows possibilities. These are also places where we can bind our free ourselves, so our intention and purity is of the utmost importance.
Keep the connection into the body. There are subtle aspects of our behavior and patterns that do not reveal themselves in context until there is enough duality in their grounding, and for this we need the body. Also it is enjoyable to keep the connection and prevents a mental like quality from taking over the elemental balance.
One of the principles of Eternal Yoga is getting there by being there. Love is love, joy is joy, space is space, nectar is alive. We can touch in to a quality on any level of our being, and then learning how to rest of the subtleness of it we become it and into our primal nature. We are learning how to recognize the shakti of awareness.
THE ESSENCE OF THE PRACTICE
So far we have stayed within the realm of our individuality, albeit an expanded and more sensitive aspect of it. Stay with this aspect of the practice for a while, for example a number of months, and when ready in an almost playful mood we will go up, way up.
Going up is a psychological shortcut, and a refinement brings a sense of subtlety and transcendence.
Develop that pin-point brightness-sense above your head and then keep going up about 50 feet. You can use your visualization to a certain point, but then you need to let go of it, to dissolve it. If your visualization remains active, you are missing it, because the visualization is tied to your sense of self. You have to let go of it and just sense and know there is something that keeps going up, deeper, straight, and without support.
At some point, there is a very subtle almost ‘click’ where something effortless returns back down and around you, taking on form as shakti, light, and presence on the way. It is so subtle that you can easily dismiss it for your imagination, and yet it has a way of staying with you in a way that imagination does not. Consciousness no longer needs support but just is, and it is. This is the boundary between the individual soul and oneness. From that place vision can once again appear but in a different way.
Remain at the point where it feels like the energy effortless returns and bathes you for a few minutes and then return, all the while being careful to maintain a sense of the body. Initially it is better to keep it short. To stay here for many hours requires a retreat. There are many aspects to this awareness introduced here, many of which only make sense in that space.
Once one goes past that point consciously they become always awake in a subtle, profound, and indescribable manner beyond the relativity 24 hours a day, and there is no question about it.
Passing through this boundary is liberation in the true sense of the meaning, and it is a great achievement to even recognize this subtle boundary and rest there. Even many accomplished practitioners miss it. It also rests in the heart, but again most practitioners seldom go that subtle into the heart.
Again and again we do this. This kind of practice requires first a proper meditative foundation and purity combined. Then one is ripe for it. This is not about escape, although it can look like that for a time, as the expanded consciousness is an embrace from within.
Once a deep enough Samadhi has been entered, an aspect of oneself never leaves it. Between this and our bodily awareness, a very subtle-realized body spontaneously develops which becomes the focus of long sadhana. This very subtle aspect has all the abilities and is immortal, and as one becomes more and more conscious of this while simultaneously in the physical body, a siddha body of elemental participation and relationship develops.
SOURCE OF ETERNAL YOGA
Beloved reader, what a consistently built sadhana (daily spiritual practice) gives us, if we can stay with it, is in my opinion so, so worth it. In this day and age, we need spiritual inspiration amongst all the loud voices around us and tribulation, to know for ourselves, to experience what we are beyond the emotional and mental escapades of a limited existence.
The practices of going above the head started spontaneously about 5 to 6 years into a sadhana consisting of about 6 hours a day of formal meditative practice, combined with full time work and various sevas. I slept about 2 to 3 hours a night and was living in an ashram.
During an hour long chant each evening I started playing with a type of subtle non-physical breath above the head combining it with the energy of the chant. Around this time, in my heart a golf ball size of pure infinitely deep blackness started to stabilize, which scared me in ways that are difficult to explain. Around this formed subtle layers in which images and visions floated, for example seeing what would happen in the coming day, however those visions held little interest to me.
I continued to explore above the head going further and further, identifying various realms of being, and there was a simultaneous quality in the heart. I used to have poor abilities of visualization, and this was actually a blessing.
I passed through various phenomena and tests of holding energies extremely difficult to bear, by neither rejection or over fascination. Yogis do not do this kind of thing by themselves, even if outwardly lonely. There is a community of beings who are awake in the oneness, in the one body, blessing each other, and this becomes not only a love but also a tremendous practicality. One becomes very sensitive in this and it needs to be honored in the chosen lifestyle.
It took a year to have the courage to go fully into that blackness. One day, I did. My awareness quickly expanded many vast miles. I also expanded up not just through distance but through layers of being, beyond the soul and not going anywhere, in the center of my heart. The black hole disappeared, as it was no longer needed. What awakened, never went to sleep, 24 hours a day, regardless of outer tiredness or exuberance.
This is what it means to find the self.
Not the self of astral delights,
or subtle mental-emotional plays,
but to be itself.
It is the ultimate rest, and this is the anchor I alluded to in the beginning of the article. It gives us the non-dual perspective, in which we can then truly and fearlessly enter the great Tantra, the great relationship of life and the purpose we bring to it.
This is the start, the beginning in which we have already arrived. The journey is far from over. Over the next decade further stability was gained in getting there by being there. I left everything, and was living in a jungle in Kipahulu (on the island of Maui) while working on a farm; there I met Shantara, and a new chapter began. A number of years later after a retreat of several months in the Himalayas, meditating about 15 hours a day, without food for a number of months, an adept close to one of my masters asked me to teach this wisdom, giving me the permission, and named it Eternal Yoga. During this time it was a daily occurrence to be with these immortal beings, who continue to be my family.
The journey is still far from over, if one is always fresh and willing. We are living in a chaotic time of great change over the next 50 years. There are amazing, timeless masters who continue their sadhana not for a body, a personality, but for the love of what we are all of, becoming and transcending and transmitting through it all. How this interplays with the individual, the means of being here in physicality, is a great Lila. Will you join us in this play of great mother? How can it be described, to gain your freedom eternal, and seemingly give it up again, yet not. It is beyond what the thinking mind can make sense of - welcome to the depth; and in the words of one of the immortal masters - "I am everywhere that Love wants to be."
Further details about this practice can be obtained from the book Eternal Yoga: Awakening within Buddhic Consciousness by Virochana Khalsa.