Sacred Mountain Retreat

Key Understandings and Terminology

by Virochana July, 2002

Cultivating a Body of Nectar

Ariel Dolphin DrawingWithout bliss, the path is dry and filled with pursuits and doubts of the mind. Without bliss, experience comes and goes, yet nothing much changes. Bliss is timeless, it reveals our true nature, it consumes and creates – bliss is the fuel for the spiritual path.

In a couple of classes, as we began, I asked, “Who has experienced real, mind-blowing, full-of-light, consuming bliss?” Many of these people have been on the path of spiritual awareness for more than a decade, and to my surprise, each time only one or two raised their hands, and often with some deliberation.

Spirituality, the art of knowing our spirit, is a very blissful affair. Nectar is our essence that makes spirit knowable in form and creating a body of nectar is a science that any of us can do. The first book of this series, Cultivating a Body of Nectar, gives methods to create enough clarity and vitality to cultivate the nectars of bliss.

Bliss consumes dogma, religion, prejudices, and fantasies. It lifts us naked and in silent depth, it implodes and explodes. Bliss can hold the straightest face, walk the cleanest line, be the most grounded and make the most sense. In happiness, tranquility, compassion, even sadness and anger, a blissful being, always forgetting, never forgets who they are, because it is our nature lied bare and beautiful.

The spiritual path we present is not about instant fixes, rather creating a foundation by which we can achieve lasting results. A body of nectar is cultivated, not instantly made manifest through fantasy and wishing. Through this body of nectar, we are fit to obtain all of who we are, for we have a body that can be it all. Let us start…

Preliminaries of Yogic Development

Peru_Ollyantambo2_200Preliminaries focus on grounding, connectivity and presence through the yogic path of self-development. There are many methods and much skillful wisdom for this purpose. With this foundation, we can reach for the sky with our feet in spirit-nectar.

Practicing techniques without integration into our everyday life only gets us so far – and, why not adjust our lifestyle to create an atmosphere of discovery and richness? Areas of relationship, emotion, sexuality, self-responsibility, motivation, morality, diet, attitude, what we do for work and environment are all a vital part of self-development. There is not so much a formula; rather, an obviousness of approach and emotional richness that becomes apparent as we continue. The details are usually somewhat different for each of us and at different times in our lives.

There is a saying, “More practice, less drama. Less practice, more drama.” The movement of energy and deepening awareness that occurs through yogic practice clears away much of the toxic and neurotic aspects of our life. We become centered in our peace and being. In the first few years of practice, it is necessary to be more interested in the radiance of our being than in the endless content of our emotions. Then, and only then, can we really listen to what our emotions are saying to us, from a soul perspective, and thereby use the energy of emotion as an integrated and necessary part of our enlightened clarity.

Yogic development revolves around a combination of passive and active practices. A kriya is an active practice that often uses a combination of breath (subtle and physical), visualization, mantra, posture, and even dynamic movement to create and deepen a nonverbal presence, which in turn supports meditative strengthening, deepening and discovery. In short, kriyas help to clear agitation, introduce us to the potential of our body and mind and make us fit enough to apply ourselves one-pointedly.

Passive practice is giving up into the surrender that realization is more than a technique. It is meditating through the natural wisdom of open awareness. Passive meditation is possible when the agitation of the mind cannot pull you in a million different directions, because the inner space is much more seductive, natural, alive, and vast than the quibbling and apparent force of the outer mind. There is not so much any one technique as a readiness for it. A typical example is still, silent, non-eventful meditation. At first, most people will have to move through agitation, and then boredom. If you can simply remain with and inside yourself, after a while your radiance will peek through the boredom. It is inevitable, because there is nothing else going on. Your life force is becoming one-pointed in its own natural intrinsic quality of bliss, and this bliss, when truly known, holds a much greater attraction for the outer mind than anything of the world can. If anything else is going on, you give up on it, not because you have to, but because you want to (although at first, you give up on it through faith in the practice). When you really give up, not like a depression, but in a way of letting go of anything or any one or even your own idea of self, you relax into a radiant-emptiness. There is an inner sense of space. It is a very open feeling – which in time develops a true awareness, where our innermost sense of effortless, aliveness, and natural awareness, is a continuum into everything that is. We experience this continuum simply through resting in the non-dualistic nature of our inner aliveness, not through effort.

Refined spiritual sensations and experiences need to have a space in which to occur. This is why we create the sense of space inside of us. Without this openness, it is difficult to trust that the spiritual path has more validity than the struggle. We simply give up on our intellect, grasping, and pride as anything that is going to get us anywhere. This openness, the experience of radiant-emptiness, is the only way to move past doubt.

Kriyas will open up an inner space, which will give you an initial feeling of the oneness of existence (the one flavor). Nevertheless, it is transitory. Through the passive practices, you discover it independent of props. A person can do many techniques, but they just become part of the wheel of endless experience until a person gives up on the wheel. When a person is willing to apply this aspect of the path, then they are truly ready. Everything else is secondary: work, happiness, accomplishment, bliss, our personality, everything is the scenery. Later, we reintegrate with the scenery in a very spectacular way. However, if we try to do it from an egotistical sense, it just becomes an egotistical extension.

Passive practices are not appropriate in the beginning; rather, one has to be ripe for it. You have to have had enough experience to know that there is something more. The active techniques get you clear enough so that you actually have the capacity to sit and ground within the vastness of inner space and discover something else. A core of prana is developed that can support an awareness that is rich and effortlessly nonverbal, and within that, you deepen into and relax within your true nature. A passive practice is not going for a walk, or taking a sleep. It is a very deep penetration of dissolving and then rediscovering ourselves. To really open up and let go requires a magnetic grounding inside of our bodies. To ground inside our bodies requires connectivity. Then we let go from an inner core, and the effect is total. Spacing out is not a very effective passive practice. This is not about dullness, sleepiness, or excitation, rather, a deeper presence that we are beyond grasping. It is often the first experience of unconditioned bliss, even if only a cozy bliss. The two ways of practice, active and passive, work hand in hand.

The working together of active and passive practice opens the tantric path. Through the specifics of particular techniques and the skill of relaxing our ego, we learn how to remain within our inner core. Within this originality of ourselves, we do not have to imagine or try to create emptiness and radiance, rather it is the original and natural condition. When we go to the ocean, we do not have to imagine what water looks like, because it is the scenery, it is the environment, and in this case, it is us.

Eternal Yoga

Eternal Yoga is a way of discovering our eternal nature. In this practice, we go above the head to aid this discovery. Through the success of Eternal Yoga – we will understand what our body, soul, and spirit is – beyond any doubt!

With this understanding, we can build upon our initial foundation to go all the way on the spiritual path, achieving liberation within eternal awareness. By bringing forth a bigger expanse, we have the opportunity for much greater self-definition. In radiant clarity, we will learn how to release the contraction of our individual grasping so that we gain freedom within our true nature.

Becoming aware of our continuum of spirit, soul, and body, awakens the effortless light within which, by silently acknowledging, we enter into non-dual awareness. Awareness of this light is what makes possible further growth on the spiritual path. Through the activation’s of Eternal Yoga, we gain the ability to see and overcome our seed karmas. The Blessing Presence so developed becomes the conduit of transmission and merit that makes our continued growth possible[1].

During this time, we become aware of the Ascended Masters in a way that is not separate from us. Non-dualism becomes more than just a word as “We get there by being there.” Spirituality starts to warm-up in a very special way – we begin to realize that, for us, enlightenment, ascension, and bodies of light are actual possibilities.

Transmission

CrystalAdvancement along the paths of Eternal Yoga and tantra is dependent on transmission. Transmission is a direct sharing that occurs within the Body of Oneness. Thus, the essence of transmission is always non-verbal. For example, to feel the presence of the Ascended Master El Morya is the transmission of his presence. From such a transmission, you can get a taste for and understand things that are impossible to explain in words alone. As an analogy, a happy person tends to share, to give a transmission of their happiness to others, simply by being who they are. Therefore, if you are not happy, by hanging out with a happy person, some of it might start to rub off on you. This is much more effective than reading about happiness in a book.

On the spiritual path, we use various skillful means to help create the atmosphere for transmission. For example, placing a picture of a loved one on your dresser helps you to feel that person, to connect with them. Likewise, we can use images of the masters, sacred words, gratitude, and the cultivation of enlightened qualities, such as an open heart, to help prepare the space for connection and to facilitate the connection itself. Most importantly, clearing our mind of clutter and preparing the inner space allows us effortless connection in perfect timing.

Eternal Yoga as a practice is a cultivation of atmosphere and refinement into sacred space. However, in regards to realization, it is an instantaneous path. To illustrate what this means, consider two different ways of connecting to the master, Padmasambhava. You could buy a Tibetan tanka painting and read some books about this incredibly great master. Then you could visualize the tanka painting everyday. You could visualize yourself looking exactly like Padmasambhava and imagine yourself doing all the things he did. You could also visualize all his companions surrounding you, being sure to get every color, detail, expression correct according to what you have read. The idea is that eventually we might actually connect to this master and through transforming ourselves into his image, obtain enlightenment. This is a possibility.

In Eternal Yoga practice, we take a different approach. We lift our consciousness and transform our own image. We examine our own nature. We practice continually returning to our own presence beyond the need to grasp at it. In this direct approach, nothing remains hidden. We honestly earn what we achieve. To attune to a master, there is no need for elaborate visualization. We simply attune to the presence, in the same way you would become aware of the presence of your spouse or loved one. We let the ever-changing details naturally fill in through direct awareness.

Thus, to attune to a Master, we first attune to ourselves and deepen our awareness within the space of Oneness. We may pick up the feeling of Padmasambhava from a past connection, or from another who has had that connection, or simply the Master noticing you. It is an honest connection, either it is there or not. We also recognize that whenever we think of someone, even hear that person’s name, on some level we have a connection. We cultivate the space of this awareness in the purity of our own being. There is aliveness on our side that meets an aliveness of another. Through gaining subtle awareness, we become aware of our subtle connections. It is instantaneous and effortless, not contrived. The work is simply preparing the grounds of our own being, and then we participate in the universe and meet other beings who are also participating in a similar manner. This is the family of the Masters, all living in the Body of the One.

Tantra

While the popular understanding in America of the word tantra is about sex, a truer understanding is “development of a refined energy body.” As a path, tantra starts with development of the inner temple and concerns itself with the continuum and the continuity of conscious presence. Tantric practices, at times, work with passion and blending; thus, sexual union is an invaluable aspect, provided the ability and awareness of working with refined energy is already present.

Tantra is awakening from our inner depth – outwards. Mistakenly, many try to go about this from the other direction, and simply go in circles[2]. When we are ready, Eternal Yoga practices give us the inner awareness necessary for tantric cultivation.

The book, Tantra as a Complete Path, gives wisdom and a few practical methods of further awakening within this core. As we advance, we are able to use our desires, passions and characteristics as the basic energy to enlighten our natural state. It begins by sharpening the vision gained in Eternal Yoga, of making everything appear more transparent, less solid and as the outer skin of an underlying divinity. In doing so, we ignite an inner core of presence within our body, and through further skillful application, we create an inner temple from which our appearance radiates forth. The possibility of bringing forth an eternal body of consciousness presents itself within this development of the nectar body.

Tantra is a path of a thousand corrections along the way. If you have a rigid disposition, are tightly bound in social consciousness, or do not understand the how and why of various practices, then you will not intuitively be able to make these corrections. Sensitivity to these thousand plus corrections requires that we listen, and it is one of the reasons that an experienced teacher is necessary. A skillful teacher helps us to hear what we are listening for – and in the process, returns us to our self. A few advanced souls can get this feedback through subtle interaction with a teacher, but most require a physical interaction.

Tantra is a path of intensity and transformation, where we intensify our passions while bringing them into the emptiness of our inner temple. The bliss within that indivisible union reveals the perfection that underlies everything. We let go, while simultaneously radiating profound existence in all its varied peculiarities and plays.

The Great Perfection

The Great Perfection is a view, not a technique. The Great Perfection is the state of enlightenment. Through deepening, transmission, and surrender, we taste the Great Perfection and then diligently blossom this awareness into fruition.

Your heart literally sings a song of indescribable beauty, manifesting as creation itself. Within you is a pinpoint of eternal depth that at any and every moment is everything. You, me, the room you are in, and the book you are reading is all the same space and everything within this is simply as it is. The mind is space, love is space, space is nectar and through the nectars of space in the bliss of the one, we have creation. We are here – ignorant or not, in hell or heaven and perfection underlies appearances of stench and perfume alike.

The Great Perfection is being in non-dual awareness. Entering into the Great Perfection is the fruit of Eternal Yoga. The Great Perfection is remaining in the underlying reality of spirit throughout the continuum of manifestation.

Non-dual awareness, when used as the underlying empowerment of a practice, such as the tantras, has several themes:

  • We get there by being there.
  • We know how to get out of our own way.
  • There is an underlying effortlessness of awareness.
  • You effortlessly know how to use space as a support of consiousness.
  • You are aware of all of this within your heart.

The Great Perfection is both the beginning and the end. Eternal Yoga helps us to enter from the level of higher-mind into the Great Perfection enlightenment. How we then choose to encompass every aspect of life into our realization decides whether we broaden the continuum of our awareness and embrace the skillful means of the tantric path or continue solely within the buddhic light of the Great Perfection.

In the United States, this was presented through a profound, yet seldom-understood and greatly misrepresented approach called the “I Am.” The I Am teachings of Saint Germain are a very simple, direct, and, at the same time an extremely advanced approach. Unfortunately, most use the teachings as an extension of the ego – I Am, rather than a true awakening within the Body of the One. It requires a lot of deepening to properly receive and apply these transmissions.

Masters of the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon present the Great Perfection as a path along with the underlying transmissions. Some ignorant teachers present the idea that you first progress through the tantras to get to the place where you are ready for dzogchen teachings. This has created a lot of confusion as to what the tantric path is, isolating it as transformative techniques of a dualistic nature, essentially treating the tantras like kriyas.[3]

When teachings of tantra and the means to cultivate the broadening of the Great Perfection enter into a religious structure or mass teaching, this sort of distortion is inevitable (by trying to fit the tantric path within a social framework, when it cannot be so tightly contained). The work of the great masters, while perhaps being of great service to many, has always been to bring in one person at a time. As far as the inner teachings are concerned, there is no such thing as a mass teaching.

In truth, to enter the tantras, you must first taste the Great Perfection. Without a non-dualistic view from which to apply the tantras, you will only be working with a set of techniques. Developing a yogic foundation gives us enough clarity and non-verbal awareness to practice the techniques of Eternal Yoga. Through the insights and refinement thus gained, we become ready to enter the tantric path.

Both tantra and the Great-Perfection paths have the same empowering truth – both are a cultivation of non-dual awareness. Journeying the tantric path develops skilful means, giving us an ability to benefit more people. Tantra uses skilful means and transformation to recognize the Body of the One and thus broaden our view of the Great Perfection. This broadening eventually results in the penetration of a body of light all the way into the physical.

The Great Perfection approach, by itself, uses pure awareness and its inherent energy as the path itself, awakening within and as the light of the soul. There is nothing to embrace, no vows to keep, nothing to transform, just pure awareness itself revealing itself. There is a popular Dzogchen saying, “The sickness of effort has been overcome.” As applied by the Masters, there is never a one or the other approach. Emphases might be on the purity of the Great Perfection or the skillful embrace of the Tantras, depending on the disposition and perfection of the moment – inwardly they are not separate.

In a sense, the Great Perfection path is also tantric in nature, in that upon advancing upon it we become intimate with the underlying elemental light-play of form and formlessness. Because the practitioner has learned unwaveringly to remain aware, this transmission of the light-play remains ever-present: lifting, connecting, deepening, and absorbing our everyday awareness into the power and presence inherent within it.

To progress upon the path of Great Perfection requires an infinite ability of fluidity through grounding beyond the nature of outer realities, and its one absolute dependence is in bringing forth a relationship with a Master or masters whereby the transmissions may occur in consciousness. In fact, it is impossible not to have a connection with a Master, for its domain is the Body of the One, which is composed of Masters, i.e., those who are awake. Without this, there is no heart; without the heart, there is no depth, and without depth, we are simply in a dualistic mind-set.

Dream Yoga

There are two aspects of dream yoga. One is cultivating the ability to dream with clarity and lucidity. In such dreams, we can do practice, project ourselves, gain understanding, perform service and transform the nature and content of our dreams.

A more advanced aspect of dream yoga is not about dreams at all, rather absorbing our pranas within our central core and maintaining radiant primal consciousness while we sleep. This is an aspect of tantric practice.

We all, regardless of spiritual practice or not, at times have pertinent and lucid dreams. However, dream yoga is experiencing this consistently.

Dream yoga is an incredible valuable part of practice. Success in this is a reflection of our daytime practice. Trying to gain mastery in this area without a strong daytime practice is extremely difficult, if not impossible. In times of intense practice, such as during a retreat, dream clarity and remaining awake within our core while asleep often occurs spontaneously and as a kind of after effect – a continuation of our daytime practice.

Motivation

WC_alter_225Within our growth through these methods and transmissions is a concurrent refinement of our motivation, which is simply an opening of our heart. As we clean our own house, the ambition to achieve greater enlightened activity and presence changes from a self-centered activity to altruistic love and compassion. Far from the mushy heart, this is tremendous clarity born of and blended with wisdom beyond a conventional mindset. The desire to benefit all beings as the cause of our enlightenment and as a radiance that breaks through our contraction is simply reflective of the deeper radiant nature of reality. The ascended body is nothing other than manifest radiance from within the Body of the One. The growing change of motivation within us is a clear sign as to our readiness to embrace the next stages.

Tantra blossoms into a free-flowing, blessing power through a heart-centered, good-natured, yet not naïve attitude.

The tantric path is to be or to become a Blessing Presence.

Any other motivation plays havoc, because it is afraid of loosing something called self.

Until a person is comfortable and clear in regards to relationship, sexuality, and intimacy, they are not yet ready for the tantric path. Being able to work with energy in a conscious, empowered and surrendered way (required in relationship) is part of this path.

A Teacher

In the more common spiritual paths, such as religion, the outer yogas, self-reflection, purification, etc., it is helpful but not necessary to have a teacher. However, as we fully enter the tantric path, a teacher or teachers are necessary for reasons of transmission and because of how quickly we enter into difficult areas of our psyche. The relationship with a teacher is very sacred. Only those people who live in sacredness can understand this relationship. The tantric path requires divine intimacy, respect, and wisdom with a teacher to facilitate the necessary ongoing transmission.

In the oneness of life, we learn something by first experiencing a feeling or a sense of it and then embodying that feeling under our own image so that it becomes a natural part of our being. This is the primary function of transmission, i.e., the direct sharing of divine experience.

Without transmission, there is no real clear understanding of where we are going. It is all just words. There are many scriptural accounts of how students have undergone years or decades of service, preparation, and growth to enter into a space where transmission can occur, and where they are consciously aware of the transmission. Once profound transmission is experienced, then it is only a matter of application and stabilization – for the result has already been attained on a seed level. We get there by being there. While I am talking about profound transmission, the many thousands of small transmissions, the nuances we pick up from enlightened company and communion, are a vital part of the spiritual path.

A teacher on the spiritual path is someone you have given authority to. Thus, this person can question you, provoke and stimulate you, and communicate to you in areas you may not otherwise allow. Obviously, this requires surrender. Confusion arises in some people because they equate surrender with giving away their power. However, real surrender is impossible in a framework of dis-empowerment or blind worship. Real surrender will not occur as long as the lower mind plays around in confusion and in a toxic way. You must still do the work. Thus, a real relationship with a teacher is a mature and advanced state of sensitive communion and responsiveness. The outer mind becomes still.

For most people tantra is about passion and blending. Emotion, feeling, and passion are, as we become clear, the voltage that makes all this possible. As this happens, our feeling ability opens up an inner, all-pervading space, which is infinitely delicate and embracing. There is an inspiring beauty of using attachment, desire, intimacy and emotion to fuel our awakening within the natural state. Without a close relationship with someone who understands what we are being refined into, this process will become a circus and not yield the type of fruit that allows the work to begin on the Ascended Body within the space of one lifetime. A tantric teacher will use the power of emotion to bring forth definition within the emptiness, not within a mindset fixed on social conditioning.

Ascension

Ascension is a western term for an aspect of the Tantras where we transform our physical body into a body of light that remains active within the physical and subtle realms.

The ascension occurs through unveiling a way of seeing, whereby we experience everything as an elemental light quality – in totality. This vision[4] is not unique to the ascension; however, in the ascension, rather than dissolving the body into it, or loosing awareness of the body altogether, we transform our body into a direct, active expression of this elemental mind.

There are various levels of mastery within the light body. For example, there are masters who can temporarily project such a body as a penetration of their forever-existing extremely subtle body. There are those who effortlessly sustain it, those who can only sustain it within the consciousness of the earth and those who can sustain it anywhere in the universe.

How regular physical people perceive such a Master is a combination of a person’s sensitivity, interior language, and a manipulation by the Master of the visual ability of others to perceive them. For example, there are yogis whom we have had contact with that are visible to some people and not to others.

A fully developed body of light can only come about by the desire to benefit others; otherwise, because of self-absorption, it would not come about in its fullness. It is a gift from the Body of the One – for the Body of the One. This body is not, in wisdom, the same as ghostly apparitions or a temporary karmic projection from a being in god-like realms.

footnotes:

[1] It is only through this awareness that the process of liberation can begin, in the context of liberation within a lifetime or two.

[2] Working from the outside in is the subject of the preliminary yogas, lifestyle adjustments, replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, etc. – not the tantras. The outer yogas and similar approaches are much more effective and giving of fruit for this stage of practice.

[3] In the presentation of the Tibetan tantras to the west, there is often lacking the small, family-like atmosphere in which the Master teaches. Often ignored is the requirement of years of discipline. Thus, trying to keep things sacred, yet not receiving the heart application, we end up putting ourselves into a spell, or else lose the sacredness required. Through the foundations and atmosphere of intimacy with enlightened beings, we relax into the non-dual awareness necessary to begin the practices, and inwardly receive the true, ongoing teachings.

[4] This vision is more than sight. Sight is used for simplicity in trying to explain the unexplainable.

In Service to Awakening,

with Love

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