Odilia Carmen Chirica

Odilia Carmen Chirica

Singer, writer, speaker, coach, counsellor, muse... mostly a thinker - simply just BEING.

"There was once a brahmin priest who earned his livelihood by performing religious services for the people in his village. He was known for his devotion to the god Vishnu, and people regarded him as a holy man. Among his hundreds of followers was a shepherd who wanted to see God - even though he had no idea of what God was. His sheep did not require much attention, so he had plenty of time to visit the priest and barrage him with questions about God. "Why does Vishnu have four arms?" he would ask. "Why does he always sleep on a snake? Why does he have a lotus growing from his navel? Why does his wife just sit next to him without doing anything? If Vishnu is God, then who is Shiva? Which of them is the most powerful? Is there any God higher than Vishnu and Shiva? Which kind of God is the most powerful and kind to human beings?" 

The priest gave the shepherd all kinds of philosophical answers, even explaining the symbolic meaning of the different limbs, weapons, and other characteristics of the gods, but the shepherd was so dense he could not grasp any of these theological answers. Finally, in frustration, the priest thought of how to explain God in a way that made sense to the simple man. He convinced the shepherd that 

God looks like a sheep - the healthiest and most beautiful sheep ever known. He then instructed the shepherd to go into the forest and pray to this Sheep God and not to eat, drink, or sleep until He appeared. Delighted, the shepherd did exactly as the priest instructed. 

On the third day, God came. But he looked like Vishnu, not like a sheep. "I am pleased with your devotion," Vishnu said. "Tell me, what boon do you wish from me?" 

Startled, the shepherd asked, "Who are you? You are beautiful, but what are you doing here in the forest?" 

"I am God," Vishnu replied. "You have been praying to me." 

"God looks like a sheep," the shepherd retorted. "You are a fake. Don't waste my time." 

So Vishnu left. An hour later the Sheep God came. He too said, "I am pleased with your devotion. Tell me, what boon do you wish from me?" 

This time the shepherd was overwhelmed. He got up and greeted God, yet he wondered how a sheep could speak in human language and suspected that he was being tricked again. So he said, "You look like God, but why are you speaking in the human tongue?" 

Immediately God emitted a magnificent bleat. Then he said, "That is how I usually speak, but unless I speak your language, how can you understand?" 

The shepherd was still a bit skeptical, so he asked God to come with him so his priest could verify that he was really God. 

"Wonderful," God replied. "Lead the way and I will follow." 

"You might change your mind," the shepherd replied. "Let me take you by the ear." 

So it was that the shepherd arrived at the home of the priest leading God by the ear. "Look, sir!" he called. "God is here!" 

Annoyed, the priest came out and shouted at the shepherd. "It's a sheep, idiot! You have lost your mind."

The shepherd began praying, "O God, help my priest to under- stand you." 

The priest was also praying: "O Lord, help this foolish man to understand you." 

As they prayed, God appeared simultaneously as Vishnu to the priest and as a sheep to the shepherd. At least, that's how they perceived it. 

When the priest fell at the feet of Vishnu the shepherd thought he was prostrating to the Sheep, so he too prostrated. 

Both were happy because they had seen God. They were grateful to each other for a few hours - but by the next day they had resumed their old habits."

... to your realization, In Lak`ech,  #OdiliaCarmen
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"Maulana Rumi has given us a beautiful illustration of a loving prayer that a simple and unsophisticated shepherd boy was muttering in his own humble way as Prophet Moses passed by him. He was saying:

O God! where art Thou? I would like to serve Thee. I would knit for Thee woolen garments and comb Thy hair. I would like to serve Thee with milk, curd, cheese and clarified butter, tend Thee in Thine illness, kiss Thy hands and massage Thy feet. I would like to make a sacrifice of all my sheep and goats for Thy sake.

These words of the shepherd boy sounded as heresy to the Prophet, who in a rage began to reprimand the boy saying: "Shut up your mouth, O infidel. Why are you talking like a fool? Withdraw your insolent words or else God will curse us with hell-fires for your blasphemy. God is not a human being and He does not stand in need of any of the things that you offer Him. He is a spirit, without any hands and feet, and you have insulted Him with your idle talk." Stung to the quick, the simple-hearted boy tore his clothes, ran to the wilderness and wept bitterly for having incurred the displeasure of God. In the intensity of his agony he lost his consciousness, and behold, he saw within him the Light of God and heard a sweet and kind voice assuring him that all his prayers, sincere as they were, were acceptable to God and He was greatly pleased with him for his offerings. On the other hand, when Moses went into his wonted meditation, he felt that God was sorely vexed with him for having driven a loving soul away from Him. God reprimanded him,

You came into the world for uniting people unto Me, and not for separating those who were one with Me, and spake thus:

Everyone remembers Me in his own words and according to his own inner feelings. I have accepted all that the shepherd boy offered Me spontaneously in his innocent and unpolished words as they may appear to you, but I am highly displeased with you for having driven him from his communing with Me. I am not affected by words alone, for whatever they be, they do not in any way sanctify Me but purify the heart of him who utters them. I see not to the glossy words but to the heart and the inner sincerity that lies therein behind the words, for it is from the abundance of heart that a man speaks, no matter in what broken and uncouth words he may give expression to his feelings. O Moses! there is a world of difference between the learned, entangled in the etiquette of polished speech, and the love-stricken hearts that give vent to what is within them, the withered souls in the waste-land of the heart, lost to all sense of decency and decorum as you would call it. Don't you know that even the Government does not impose any land revenue on a land that is banjar or a waste. A martyr in God needs thy care and attention. The religion of love is quite different from the religion of set formalism and ritual and for the lovers there is no religion higher than that of God Himself. A jewel remains a jewel even if it has no hallmark on it.

When Moses heard these words, he felt terrified and went to the jungle, found out the shepherd boy and said, "I have brought for you happy tidings. God has accepted all your prayer and your seemingly heretic words are as good as those of a devout and your devotion is the light of your body. Whatever comes to you from within, utter without any fear." The boy replied smilingly, "O Moses, I have now far transcended all the barriers of the flesh. Your rebuke was enough to bring in me a great change. Now I know the Great One and my condition is that which no words can portray." www.ruhanisatsangusa.org

... to your realization, In Lak`ech,  #OdiliaCarmen
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 The Fivefold Pattern of the Witching Way 

by Robin Artisson

from 


"Most people have the understanding that to claim to belong to a traditional witch “group ”, one must go through a period of learning, join a group, be vouched for, and be initiated. This is how many modern groups do work. 

I think this is a very problematic formula, however, because most people fail to see beyond it. They seek out groups or join them for the sake of membership- but groups don’t make witches or mystics; Fate makes witches and mystics. 

This standard formula of “joining the group” fails to take into account that the true purpose of "Traditional Groups" is not to build membership and share rituals. The purpose of a serious spiritual grouping is to achieve Wisdom and Illumination. No wise, thinking person would ever make the claim that Illumination and Wisdom ONLY come from membership in a special group. 

In truth, Illumination and Wisdom come from the Soul of the World itself, from the Unseen worlds, from Spiritual Beings, from other mysterious forces, and from within. What "groups" do, is merely speak a symbolic language, hoping to channel these very things. "Groups" do not and cannot originate these things, nor make them happen in their members with any certainty. Groups may serve some useful purposes, but without members coming to them already aware of the deeper origin of Wisdom, they are doomed to fail as groups, for the same reason exoteric churches all gradually fail. 

There is a period of learning involved in becoming a Traditional Witch or Mystery Initiate. There are vouches, initiations. But they do not come only from groups. To understand how we all partake of these things, we have to understand the deeper pattern. 

The Period of learning can occur totally between a person and the Land itself; the group you join are the Pale People, or Hidden People, the dwellers in the Underworld; you are vouched for by your own devotion to the Unseen and by your own heart’s weight, and the heart of authentic initiation occurs totally within the Underworld, which is simultaneously inside the individual.

Some organizations try to take control of this process, act as "guardians" of it, teachers of it, but I believe that this is haphazard at best; it leads often to a certain abuse of power and a harmful egocentrism that does more harm than good. No group is supposed to be about its members, titles, leaders, or their activities, but about the Greater Fate of Illumination. All members of a true grouping of the Old Rite will seek to cast away identity and worldly titles and powers to the great Darkness of Wisdom below, and all are submerged in the singular desire for the dark and light Illumination of the Mysteries, and for kinship with the potencies in the Land.

The true “group” is a group of people who know a certain humbleness, and who seek a common spring of eternity, driven by a common thirst- a thirst for the Other and for Illumination, not thirst for temporal powers and offices that are far less. They protect the Land and the true keys to Wisdom because they have given up all for them, and received all back in return, not because they jealously desire to secret up power in some vault. 

They know the disastrous consequences of egocentrism- they know how the ego- centered, power hungry human destroys the Land and abuses power and other people; this is why the path is kept shaded with secrecy, and for no other reason. When those of pure heart, ready to cast away all for the wisdom born of the Underworld and ready to sacrifice for Love of the Land show themselves, they are taken into the group and introduced to its mysteries. There is no other qualification. It is a strange love, a strange desire that the Old Ones use to lure people to the ways of the Hidden Craft. Human witches cannot and should not stand in the way of this, for in so doing, they fail in their true role as guardians. 

The "outward" initiations that people in groups perform are supposed to be mere representations of a great and timeless pattern of Transformation, great and timeless realities that no human being or group can claim a monopoly on, as they underlie all works of art, culture, and inspiration. 

The Path of Initiation, in Traditional Folklore, as well as (more generally) in the Western Mystery Tradition, has several stages, that manifest in outward events, but are primarily Innerworld realities: 

1. The "reaching out" to the powers of the unseen world; the "petition" at the Hollow Hill or the Faery Mound, a stage by which the limitations of the human being are defined through perception and understanding, and the "leap of faith" or the "longing for the beyond" is felt and expressed, from human to what is beyond human; this is the “earth” or Land experience.

2. The 'year and a day' period (or a set period of a fixed time) of internal growth, or the "spiritual hermitage", or the trial-time; also, at times, instruction by Otherworldly beings or their representatives; This is the station of the circling airs, that communicate knowledge. 

3. The descent into the Cavern of the Black Water and the Two Torches, or the Initiatory Chamber below, (The chamber or cavern of Enody or Zerinthia) to the source, or to the presence of the Initiatrix in the Innerworld/Underworld, the Pale Woman under the Hill, Queen in the Meadows of Elfhame, who brings about (a normally traumatic) ego death in the candidate, and bestows the Innerworld birth, purification, and regeneration, (which at this stage is largely unconscious in immediate depth and effect, but which is necessary to further transformations, and which grows on its own into new, long term understandings).

This represents the first "intrusion" or "appearance" of the outside forces that were called to the initiate in stage one. Their very appearance turns all things "upside down", and destroys and transforms all things. Nothing can ever be the same again after this initial contact with trans-personal forces. This is the Underworld Initiation in which old patterns of thinking and living are destroyed and newer, better patterns are regenerated and the personality of the initiate is altered forever, and made better, wiser, capable of experiencing life in a new way. This is the descent into the dark waters below. 

4. The meeting of the Devil or the Otherworldly Guardian and the Trial, followed by the bestowal of a first stage Transformation. This stage is the fetch-awakening, at the threshold of the soul, wherein the Puckril, the Familiar or 'Fetch Beast', is identified or bestowed. This is the merging of the human nature and the animal nature; this is also a further "arrival" of outside forces that were called by the soul of the initiate. This is the kindling of the Cunning Fire. 

5. The meeting with the Fetch Mate, or Otherworldly Lover- the Congress of the Incubi/Succubi, the Faery Marriage between the mortal and the immortal, this world and the next, soul and spirit, or the "Wedding Chamber" sacrament of the Gnostics; This is the final culmination of the divine chain of events set into motion by the call of the initiate, the merging and union of the balanced human nature (a balance achieved by the merging with the Puckril) and the divine nature. This is the “invisible mystery” or the spirit-essence of all. 

It is strange but true that even though the initiate "travels" or journeys to the locations where these forces interact with him or her, their original call set into motion a chain of events that led seemingly inescapably to those beings or forces- and thus, what looks like personal quest is anything but- it is not even a summoning; it is actually those forces coming TO the initiate. 

Only the ego of the outsider or the half- wise views it as effort on the part of the initiate to "reach" them- in reality, whe n the initiate travels to reality, reality is traveling to the initiate. 

The Great Forces answer. The purpose of the "time of learning" is to show the initiate how to be aware of their answer- this is why trance techniques and other consciousness- alteration methods are taught at this time. After that point, everything that happens to the initiate is in reality an answer from the Otherworld, and this is what the initiate comes to understand, eventually. 

After these five stages are achieved, The Witch or Initiate's "Fate" is transformed; altered into a new path of internal growth that causes a unknowable route into a new condition, beyond this life (and beyond the death of the candidate). 

The route of this new condition is the Third Road to Elfland, the destination is Mastery, the Faery/Fetch Metamorphosis or the Deathless Transformation into the ranks of the Hidden Company, or the Grand Array. 

During the remains of an initiate's life, the affects of these five experiences, and the further attendant transformations, cause Wisdom to blossom in the soul of the candidate (as the soul is now united with the Spirit) and it causes the special modes of perception and understanding to open in the candidate (gradually) that are the source of many mythical seership abilities and the like. 

"Magical" abilities (and I hate to use that term) are also sometimes gained, though this is a far more poetic idea than the term "magic" expresses. Knowledge and real Wisdom, direct experience of the Unseen world, and the ability to "reach into" the self, or the depths, to directly experience and mediate extra-sensory reality, causes what seem to be like "powers" or abilities to understand and influence some events in life.

But this is only a tiny matter of a greater growth. 

The five-fold initiatory pattern leads to internal transformation, a "road change" from the straight road of the common person, moving slowly through Fated time, onto the Crooked Path, or the Third Hidden Road, which is the attainment of a "Second Destiny" of types. It's very subtle, and does not happen overnight. 

This pattern is embedded in the workings of the cosmos itself; we can see it in ourselves and in Nature- the acorn, pulled by the draw of Fate and Nature away from the origin tree falls into the underworld, where after a time, and when outer forces reach it- (light, and water from above) it sprouts and grows into a new being- the fertilization in the seed occurring within, but spurred on by outside forces.

In reality, even the "outside" forces are part of a whole reality, of which the seed may ignorantly think of itself as "apart" from- but the truth is found in Holism. Did the acorn go the ground, or did the ground go to the acorn? Both occurred. There is only one reality, one system, one chain of Fate. Did the sunlight and water reach the acorn, or did it reach them? Both occurred. Do not let false divisions impede your ability to see the truth of Holism.

One might wisely then ask- "did the whole chain begin when an initiate decided to make the original petition to the forces beyond him or herself, or did that decision and petition come from another place make the initiate? 

When you can answer that question, then you will see how Fate calls all things to initiation and transformation, eventually, and without exception. 

This entire pattern can be realized through working groups that have the means and understanding to REALLY bring about these five transformations, but at heart, all of these transformations (and whatever symbols people use to represent them in the outer world) are not physical, blunt realities; they are internal, otherworldly mysteries that emerge through all things. 

They come from the Unseen. A group is very unique and special indeed if it can really bring about these transformations in a systematic, direct way- most groups cannot, because 99% of people have not gone past the first one or two "steps" on the initiatory path. Most people who call themselves occultists have not even gone past the first. 

Luckily, a person can walk this entire path alone. In fact, even before you realize it, you are on this path, whether you belong to a group or to no group. 

Groups that tell you otherwise are just trying to get your obedience or money, or both. I'm not saying that a good group of humble, like- minded people, poets and mystics, shouldn't be worked with if you find them; but good luck finding them. The wise would do well to look to themselves, within and beyond, for the emergence of this pattern. The simple act of looking shows that it is occurring. "

... to your realization, In Lak`ech,  #OdiliaCarmen
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 By Shri Gurudev Mahendranath Paramahams (Dadaji), Values Magazine Article 1970s. 

The name of Shri Bhagavan Dattatreya has occurred sometimes in these essays, but he is still practically unknown outside India. More lamentable still is the fact that although still worshipped by millions of Hindus he is thought of more as a benevolent God rather than a teacher of the highest essence of Indian thought. In the basic essence which runs through the 3 patterns of thought which I have classified as the Diamond Dharmas, we find their earliest expression in the Guru teachings of Dattatreya, which preceded them all and later became embraced in Brahma Vidya.

Shri Dattatreya was a dropout of an earlier age than the period when Veda and Tantra merged to become one single cult. It was men like Dattatreya who helped to make this possible. Three of his close disciples were kings, one an Asura, and the other two belonging to the warrior caste. Dattatreya himself was regarded as an avatar of Maheshwara (Shiva), but later was claimed by Vaishnavas as the avatar of Vishnu. Not such a sectarian claim as it appears, as Hindus regard Shiva and Vishnu as the same, or as manifestations of the Absolute taking form.

The teachings of Dattatreya, during his lifetime, were most probably adjusted to meet the needs and understanding of the disciples. We have an example of this in the case of Parashuram, a Brahmin who became a disciple of Dattatreya. In accord with the Guru's correct assessment of his stage, he was first initiated into the rituals for the worship of the Mother Goddess (Shakti) in her form as Tripura (destroyer of the three cities or Gunas). In time, Parashuram developed to understand the higher teachings, and his opportunity for understanding might have been lost in confusion if it had not been done gradually. Parashuram has a great story of his own, and will be dealt with later.

The gems which can be described as the higher teachings of Dattatreya (often used in a shorter form as Datta), come to us in many ways. The least obvious and most important was the way in which he lived. If chance had not given him several disciples of an unusually high level of understanding, it might have been the only medium through which we could know him. Another is the scripture or wisdom texts which record their teaching. They are found in several ancient Upanishads, a Tantrik text known as Haritayana Samhita, a work of three sections. The last section, Charya Khanda, or section on conduct, has been lost, and some believe destroyed. The other important works are two Gitas -- the Jivanmukta Gita and the Avadhuta Gita. The latter is a wonderful complete compilation of the highest thought given to and recorded by two disciples, Swami and Kartika.

The Upanishads describe Dattatreya with glowing praise and enumerate his great qualities. Typical of most dropouts of the ancient Pagan world, he lived completely naked. But this was a great spiritual era when all world renouncers were mostly naked or near naked. The Sanskrit idiom used to describe this condition was digambara, having a literal meaning of 'clothed in the sky' or 'sky as garment', but also an idiomatic meaning that the sadhu was one with his environment. This was the world of Shiva- Shakti where the way of life of Nature was the highest ideal. Civilisation and cities had already appeared, but men knew that only artificial men could live and be produced in them.

The manner and way of life of these ancients was something beyond words and explanations yet sufficient in itself. Brahma-Vidya had no meaning if theory was not put into practice. Academic and theoretical knowledge was helpful towards realisation but alone it could not reach the goal. Physical patterns were considered vital and essential to help overcome the past conditionings of the mind. Before the soul could be free, the mind must be made free, and the body had to be free before the mind became free.

While we are forced to accept that nudity was a regular part of sadhu practices, the true and fuller meaning might not be so obvious. There may have been important factors well known in the past but lost to us today. A vast number of religions have had forms of religious nudity. Even the Old Testament records an incident where David, the King of Israel, reverted to an older Pagan custom and danced naked before the shrine of the Lord in the temple. It could not have been a sudden spontaneous act, but a practice rooted in ancient tradition. Even in India it is only a few years ago that people visiting the famous ice linga at Amritnath were only permitted to enter the cave completely naked. Today, most sadhus dress and some overdress, and a few may even display themselves in costly silks.

In the ceremony of Sannyasa Diksha or initiation into Sannyasa life, the candidate is required to walk at least 7 paces completely naked to where the Guru sits and receives and repeats the Priasha mantra. Many sects still require a sadhu to be naked if he does puja of his Guru or Sect Guru, or when meditating if he has passed beyond the relative stage of worship.

In some religions it might have been an expression of going before God impoverished, or as a simple innocent child, or in one's natural primordial state. Yet there is still some subtle aspect which may be beyond all these. Today it is one of the best spiritual "shock tactics" to make people wake up or start a chain of thought. This, however, could hardly apply in very ancient times when nudity was so common. Shiva or Maheshwara and his Consort were always considered and described in texts as being naked. This might have served as a pattern of life for those who desired one-ness and were prepared to undertake the discipline to make it possible.

Dattatreya left home at an early age to wander naked in search of the Absolute. There is no room for doubt that he was an historical figure and seems to have spent most of his life wandering in the area between and including North Mysore, through Maharashtra, and into Gujarat as far as the Narmada River. One scripture refers to a disciple finding Datta meditating on Gandhmadana Mountain. He attained realisation at a place not far from the town now known as Gangapur. Legends about his birth are many and varied, and the place he died is unknown. It is stated that he was born on Wednesday, the 14th day of the Full Moon in the month of Margashirsha, but of year and place there is no reliable information. Scholars speculate it must have been not less than 4000 years ago, or even earlier.

In spite of legends which made him the son of a Brahmin couple, it would not appear that he had much time for them although he avoided any concepts of caste distinction. More often his teachings denied any importance being attached to the caste system in true spiritual life. He did not suggest that in worldly relations the caste system was needless or defective, but tried to show that there must come a standard of understanding where they had no meaning.

Those who look for analogies with Christian ideals will find none, nor the meaningless precepts and platitudes which entangle most Western thinking. He taught no concepts of the brotherhood of man, non-killing, or love one another- They were for people who loved to live in the crowd but feared it- Instead he taught men the essence of wisdom which would disentangle them for ever and the way one must think and live if the expression ,dropout' was not to become only a meaningless gesture- I am avoiding the use of Sanskrit texts and even single Sanskrit words as much as possible- A few are unavoidable and must be explained, but the English medium, on all levels, is quite capable of conveying any relative concept known to mankind- Those who do not understand Sanskrit only find Sanskrit shlokas like udders hanging on a bull -- a useless ornament- Those who do know the Sanskritlanguage can revert to the source and need no help from me- This is only an effort to express a difficult teaching in simple words, The search for the Absolute, the Supreme Reality, is not one where we will ever witness mass realisation- Only a few in any age have the karma and mind impressions from past lives to make it possible- This does not mean that realisation and liberation are reserved for a tiny select minority- It is a supreme attainment from which none can be excluded, but it must be conceived as a process which continues through many lives and rebirths, and over countless periods of time. The safest guide an individual or guru can have of one's stage in this long process is the sincerity and intensity of the individual as it manifests in the present incarnation. What has taken hundreds of thousands of lives to develop might still be very difficult to mature in only the one present span. This means that all spiritual life is a matter of investment in those values and yogas which will one day come to maturity. The punishment for neglect is not the wrath of God, but countless lives of misery, pain and frustration. The reward for the diligent is to escape entirely from these things and attain the only true bliss of the Supreme Reality.

There are three Sanskrit words which form much of the essential structure upon which realisation and liberation depend. They were much used by Dattatreya and constantly repeated in the Tantrik or non- Vedic Agamas. Oddly enough, they are rarely used in Hindu life today, though they exist as words in most Indian dialects. None of the 3 can be easily translated into a single English word, but fortunately the language is rich enough to convey the meanings with even greater intensity.
The three words are pratibhasahaja and samarasa. Each must be explained separately, perhaps developed in the future. They not only have a unique beauty and charm of their own, but they also represent three great stepping-stones to the Absolute Reality.

Pratibha It means vision, insight, intuition, inner understanding, unconditioned knowledge, inner wisdom, awareness, awakening. In Zen they use the word satori. It should not be confused with enlightenment or realisation. Patanjali in his wonderful theoretical textbook of varied yoga practices known as the Yoga Aphorisms or Sutras, sees pratibha as the spiritual illumination which is attained through yoga discipline to enable the disciple to know all else.

It is then the insight or illumination which is the open gateway to the final goal. It is the inner transformation which enables the aspirant to distinguish Reality from the sham. In some way it can be visualised as a bridge between the mind and the Real Self. It produces changed people and clarity of thinking as well as being an infallible guide in all undertakings. Some few people are born with it, but seldom to more than a small degree.

Even this can eventually be obscured by social life and its conditioning. It cannot thrive in a world where we permit others to do our thinking for us. The more it is used, the more it increases in intensity. Pratibha is not related to careful thought or deliberation. It is instant in operation and spontaneous in manifestation. For the average Zen student this was regarded as a sufficient attainment. Only those who seek Buddhahood and Enlightenment go further. But this is also a stage which, if once reached, requires no further guidance from a guru or master. Sometimes it is even spoken of as pratibha-shakti -- the power of illumination. It is most easily developed by meditation or contemplation, and is independent of all religious patterns.

Pratibha is not even exclusively a spiritual concept. Those who have developed this faculty are more likely to succeed in the material world than the others. Modern Japan claims that most of the big names in industry and commerce today were once successful Zen students. Datta uses the word frequently in the Avadhuta Gita to show that the difficult ideas and the puzzles not easy to understand are cleared away instantly for that disciple who has developed the inner faculty of insight-illumination known as Pratibha.

Pratibha is the real Divya Chaksus -- the Third Eye which has so much captivated the mystical aspirations of the West. It is not really an "eye" so much as a miraculous vision or knowledge capable of plucking the gems of mystery and wisdom from the immaculate universe. It is the Philosophers Stone which has the divine power to transmute the sordid world of base lead into a golden mass of wonder and harmony. But only when you really want it can you get it.

Sahaja When we review the vast procession of naked, ragged and unkempt dropouts who illuminated the dreary passages of history to leave wisdom on which lesser minds could ponder, have we not cause for great wonder? What is it that made these men so different from the men of the mass- produced, vulgar rabble who populate the earth? The answer is that the former had Sahaja.

Man is born with an instinct for naturalness. He has never forgotten the days of his primordial perfection except inasmuch as the memory becomes buried under the artificial superstructures of civilisation and its artificial concepts. Sahaja means natural. It not only implies natural on physical and spiritual levels, but on the mystic level of the miraculous. It means that easy or natural state of living without planning, design, contriving, seeking, wanting, striving or intention.

What is to come must come of itself. It is the seed which falls to the ground, becomes seedling, sapling and then a vast shady tree of which the Pipal or Ashvattha is a classical example and used in wisdom teaching. The tree grows according to Sahaja, natural and spontaneous in complete conformity with the Natural Law of the Universe. Nobody tells it what to do and how to grow. It has no svadharma or rules, duties and obligations incurred by birth. It has only svabhava, its own inborn self or essence to guide it.

Sahaja is that nature which, when once established, brings the state of absolute freedom and peace. It is when you are in your natural state, in the harmony of the Cosmos. It is the balanced reality between the pairs of opposites. As the Guru of the Bhagavad Gita says: "The person who has conquered the baser self and has reached to the level of self mastery: he is at peace, whether it be in cold or hot, pleasure or pain, honoured or dishonoured." Thus sahaja expresses one who has reverted to his natural state, free from conditioning. It typifies the outlook which belongs to the natural, spontaneous and uninhibited man, free from innate or inherited defects.

In all the Golden Dharmas sahaja flourishes. In Taoism it was the highest virtue (re). In the earlier Zen records it is the main plank of training along which the disciples had to walk. The masters demanded answers which were sahaja and not the product of intellectual thinking or reason. The truth only came spontaneously.

Sahaja in Chinese became tzu-jan or Self-so ness. Taoism openly lamented the loss of the peculiar naturalness and unselfconsciousness of the child. Lao Tzu saw that Confucian ethics (which have their counterpart in the modern world) crushed the original natural loveliness of the child into the rigid patterns of its conventions. 

Retirement from such a society became the outer symbol of freedom from the bonds and bounds of conventional society. Taoism, as Brahma-Vidya and Zen, saw retirement or renunciation as the only possible way for men to recover sahaja. Thus the greatest quality of children again became recaptured by saints and sages.

Artificial clowns throng the world: Only children and saints know sahaja.
Dattatreya tried to each men that if they had sahaja there was no need to do anything to prove it. It manifested only by the way one lived. Sukhadev, the great naked Mahatma who expounded the Bhagavad Purana, stood, when a young man, naked in the presence of his father, the sage Vyasa, to be initiated into the Brahmin caste with mantra and sacred thread. This was a moment such as we have just mentioned, when the natural unspoiled boy was to be ushered into a world of concepts, ideas and obligations, and all naturalness would be lost.

Sukhadev decided to keep his sahaja. Taking to his heels, he ran from the house and took to the path which wound itself along the side of a river and into the jungle.
As he came to the river some young women were bathing naked in the water. They took no notice of Sukhadev and he only glanced and ran on. But Vyasa the father was hot on his tracks, and following the young man to induce him to return. But as Vyasa approached the river, the young women screamed, rushed for their garments and covered themselves as he drew near. Having observed their complete indifference when his naked son ran past, and this modest but demonstrative display at his own approach, Vyasa could not help wondering at the contrast.

He stopped by the now covered women, and asked for some explanation of such widely different behaviour towards his naked son and his decorously dressed self. One of the women explained: "When your son looks at us he sees only people and is not conscious of male and female. He is just as unconscious of our nakedness as he is of his own, but with you, Maharaj Vyasa it is different." Sukhadev had sahaja, and the women knew it. He knew it, and never lost it. His father never caught up with him and he never returned home. He became one of India's many great saints, not living in any fixed place, but only in the fullness of the immediate present.

The three Sanskrit words Pratibha, Sahaja and Samarasa are related even in meaning, interlocking with each other and together to form a 'Holy Trinity' of liberation. The 3rd, however, is the greater and by far the most interesting, for it is the one single magic word which contains the Absolute, the Universe, and the World.

Samarasa This unique word, completely absent from Vedic texts, is found again and again in Tantra, Upanishads and all the best of non-Vedic literature. In one short chapter of the Avadhut Gita it occurs more than 40 times. This whole Gita would be impossible to read and understand without knowledge of this word.

One of the unique but mysterious features of the Sanskrit language is how many words can be used at three separate and distinct levels of thought. Even whole verses have this remarkable feature. It is one of the factors which have made translation into other languages so difficult. The difference presupposes three groups of people. First there is the literal meaning intended for the householder or worldly man, and a guide to better thought and action. The second is the meaning on a higher level intended for the mumukshi or hungry seeker for God. Here the same words take the reader from the mundane level to the higher level, and the implications. The third is the meaning intended for the soul who has attained or is nearly ready to attain liberation.

This play of words is not unknown in other languages 'A dog's life' would have a different meaning to Diogenes of Sinope, a harassed householder, or to a dog itself. There is little wonder that the sages warned against public reading of many scriptures and confined them only to disciples or near relatives. It is also one of the features which has made the Sadguru indispensable to the sincere disciple.

The Tantrik or non-Vedic teachers used the word samarasa in its mundane meaning to suggest higher truth. Samarasa can mean the ecstasy attained in sexual intercourse at the moment of orgasm. Using this, as many other worldly things, to draw an analogy between the moment of sexual bliss and the spiritual bliss of realisation, it was thought men and women would better understand absolute concepts from the examples of relative life.

Going higher, it means the essential unity of all things -- of all existence, the equipoise of equanimity, the supreme bliss of harmony, that which is aesthetically balanced, undifferentiated unity, absolute assimilation, the most perfect unification and the highest consummation of Oneness.

To Dattatreya it meant a stage of realisation of the Absolute Truth where there was no longer any distinction to be felt, seen or experienced between the seeker and the Sought. Gorakhnath, who wrote the first texts of the Nathas, explains samarasa as a state of absolute freedom, peace and attainment in the realisation of the Absolute Truth. He placed it on a higher level than samadhi.

Samarasa implied the joy and happiness with perfect equanimity and tranquility, maintained after samadhi had finished, and continued in the waking or conscious state. In this sense it is a form of permanent ecstasy and contemplation which the saint maintains at all times. Zen maintains the same concepts, but nothing comparable with pratibha, sahaja or samarasa are found in any of the Black Dharmas of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In the Tantrik-Buddhist school which existed for about 300 years between the 7th and 10th centuries AD, samaras and sahaja hold a prominent place, and were also adopted by Tibetan Lamaism. The Siddha and Natha sects used samaras instead of the word moksha. In this way the word became used to express the highest ideal of human life. It is much elucidated in the Agamas of the Shiva-Shakti tradition.

Samarasa is not just a matter of outlook or adjustment of ourselves with the world and its innumerable divisions, or to try and adjust the world to ourselves. One ends in greater conditioning, and the other in frustration. Samarasa must be regarded only as the culminating point of real yoga. The true yogi does as Dattatreya did -- seeing himself in the world and the world in himself, the most perfect harmony of man and nature.

Pagan India was never a world of universal spirituality. Although it was the cradle of the highest spiritual concepts, the spiritual truth seekers were always, as even now, only a minority. Its great saints and sages were even fewer. Most people sought the world and worldly things, but did, at the same time, accept the authority of teachers and gums. How many, then, could possibly understand ideas of samarasa, and moksha, and who was truly competent to be regarded as authorities on the difficult way to understand concepts of realisation and liberation?

Tae answer was their acceptance of the wise authority of those liberated souls who had won the goal. It was not mere blind faith, but the faith born of confidence in those those who had undertaken the yoga and attained the goal. There have always been these great souls and there will be in the future. Most of them live and die in obscurity. The true seekers will always find them even if the worldly public never hears of them.

Side by side with these great yogis hidden from the world are the wisdom texts and traditions of great yogis who have gone before. This is the medium by which the real seeker develops the enthusiasm to find the living. Of the ancient past, Dattatreya rises above them all.
But this, the greatest of men, the public have consigned to the inferior position of an object to worship and the resort of those who seek favours.

Students of Tao and Zen will see deeper into these these lines. Speaking of the Absolute Reality, Dattatreya says:
"It is not pervading, or that which could be less pervading: there can be no place for it to rest nor can there be the absence of such a place. It is something as well as being nothing. How can it be explained?"
Then the play of words, but still leaving the problem defying intellectual answering:
"Break that distinction between broken and unbroken: Do not cling to the distinction of clinging or non-clinging."

The level of conception is far beyond ordinary conventional thought. They are like koans used in Zen monasteries. Thus Dattatreya becomes the boat which carries us beyond, beyond.
Dattatreya aimed at the negation of the thought behind things and ideas because conflict exists, not so much in the things and ideas (such as words), but those meanings with which we associate them. Even a correct meaning becomes devoid of value if it is not apprehended. The simple naturalness of sahaja and the supreme ideal of samarasa, must never be lost in meaningless and petty wrangles between philosophies, concepts and mere human ideas.

Onto the great platform of the greatest of all controversies, and which still rages today -- the Dvaita and Advaita and Non-Duality concepts -- he declares both are true and both are wrong. Since the Absolute is beyond all classification or expressions, neither term can be applied to it. What proceeds from the Absolute as creation or manifestation cannot be entirely a delusion, but must have a relative reality. Creator and creation imply duality, so in this sense it is correct. But also if there is perfect unity, even identity between creator and created, then to speak of non-duality is also correct. It is not actually so important to solve these problems as to be able to stand aside from them completely. When one truly realises oneness then duality and non-duality are only meaningless words and the symbols of delusion. This, for the moment, must suffice. What more do you need to know.?"

... to your realization, In Lak`ech,  #OdiliaCarmen

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by St Bonaventure attributed to the Tree of Life by Frater FP
INTRODUCTION
St Bonaventure was a Franciscan Monk born in central Italy in 1217. He joined the Order in 1243, and wrote a number of masterpieces including a biography of St Francis, and many other treatises. The most widely-known of his works is that dealt with here, "The Soul's Journey into God", a dense summa of medieval Christian spirituality. It is based on a vision of the Seraph, the six-winged angelic creature which had provided St Francis his critical mystical experience, and it was whilst meditating on this vision that St Bonaventure realised that "...this vision represented our father's rapture in
contemplation and the road by which that rapture is reached." The actual Latin title of this work is Itinerarium mentis in Deum, and it is of interest to this present work that Itinerarium can be translated as "plan for a journey (itinerary), which is part of the function served by any initiatory system, for example, the Book of Coming Forth by Day, the Kabbalah, or the Bardo Thodol.

THE STAGES
The Journey of the Soul is divided first into three general stages, being Purgation, Illumination, and Perfection. Each of these responds to first, the human nature, second, the effort of the individual, and third, the action of God as Grace. The actions of the three stages are usually given as;

Purgation: Announcing; Leading; Declaring
Illumination:Ordering; Strengthening; Commanding
Perfection: Receiving; Revealing; Anointing
    These actions may be laid onto the Tree as a very general schemata of the processes undergone by the Initiate, and follow a similar development of pattern to that found in Alchemy.
    Bonaventure divides the Journey into six stages, taking the Seraph as the symbolic matrix of the description, and these stages take us from the condition of the mortal man to that of the Contemplative residing in the mystical experience of the "Superluminous Darkness" of God. I have ascribed these stages to the Kabbalah and the Initiatory System from Malkuth to the Abyss, as Bonaventure, like many mystics of the time, ceases his description at this level, although hinting at further states beyond. As Brady notes in his preface, the Journey takes us "... into the cloud of unknowing, which is itself perhaps the most perfect knowing here below of the One inThree." I take this "One in Three" to refer to the Upper Sephiroth of the Tree above the Abyss. It is the contention of the Initiate that States can be opened entirely annihilated. This as sertion may have been unspeakable for such as above this Abyss, where identity merges with God as no-thing, and the Self is Bonaventure due to its potential for interpretation as heresy (see Katz, "The Life of Bernadette Roberts", in ICOM archives for further of this theme).
    The condition of the mortal man is pictured as that of a "poor man in the desert". However, this situation is deemed redeemable, as the Franciscans followed the doctrine of exemplarism; that all creation is a set of moments in the inner dynamism of God. That is to say, by observing the events of nature, one could come to know the dealings and nature of God. As Bonaventure words it; "This is our whole metaphysics; emanation, exemplarity, consummation; to be illumined by spiritual rays and to be led back to the highest reality". The journey is also related to the description of Solomon's Temple and I have accordingly divided the following synopsis.

    THE COURT BEFORE THE TABERNACLE
    ZELATOR (Malkuth)
    The first stage is that of imposing technique to exercise the natural powers which sow the seeds of initiatory progress, and avoid "sin" (i.e. automatic attachment to the apparent). These natural powers are grace, which is awoken by prayer; justice, which is awoken by leading a good life; knowledge, which is activated by meditation; and wisdom, which is brought into being through contemplation. The quickening of these latent faculties by the practices given brings the Initiate to the "Valley of Tears" and the commencement of the second stage. The Valley of Tears can be seen as symbolic of the 32nd path of the Tree leading from Malkuth to Yesod, and is also indicated on the Moon Atu of the Tarot.

    THE SANCTUARY OR FORWARD AREA OF THE TABERNACLE
    THEORICUS (Yesod)
    The second stage of contemplation is the observation of the "vestiges" of God, which is performed through the "mirror of things perceived through sensation". The Latin root for "vestige" primarily means "footprint", and it can be seen in a similar way to the chief Mayan God, who was only known by his "footprint", that is, by his passing, rather than his presence. Bonaventure observes, according to his reading of Aristotle's physics, and Augustine's, that the world is "generated", and that "everything that moves, is moved by something else". During the main work of the Theoricus, which is observation, one may come to recognise a unity running behind the apparent world.
    The third stage of the journey is the successful conclusion of the work of the Theoricus, whom has come to see that one "will be able to see God through yourself as through an image, which is to see through a mirror in an obscure manner."

    PRACTICUS (Hod)
    The third stage continues with the study of natural, rational and moral philosophy, which illuminates the mind, and thus, "illumined and flooded by such brilliance, unless it is blind, can be led through itself to contemplate that Eternal Light", which is a key experience of the Initiatory journey. That is to say, the reason, as it becomes refined and tested, eventually concedes its own place and limitations, and loses the power to confuse or enslave the identity. It is, like each of our false separations, "led through itself".

    PHILOSOPHUS (Netzach)
    Citing the Canticle of Canticles as a key text for stage four reveals much of Bonaventure's belief about the work and events characterising the stage. Indeed, the emotional world is much in evidence in his descriptions of "the fullness of devotion, by which the soul becomes like a column of smoke from aromatic spices of myrrh and frankincense", "intense admiration, by which the soul becomes like the dawn, the moon and the sun", and "the superabundance of exultation, by which the soul, overflowing with delights of the sweetest pleasure, leans wholly upon her beloved". It is to this stage that Crowley recommended the work of Liber Astarte, which was a devotional rite seeking to unite the Philosophus with a particular deity through devotion.
    The practical aspect of this stage is in the "hierarchical operations" of perfecting or arranging our soul as in the "heavenly Jerusalem". That is to say, we must configure ourselves in accordance with our own personal revelations, as attained previously.

    THE HOLY OF HOLIES
    ADEPTUS MINOR (Tiphareth)
    The fifth stage is the attempt to gain the apex mentis seu synderesis scintilla, the highest part of the soul, from which mystical union proceeds. Whereas the prior stages have been concerned with enquiry and resultant revelations, the middle stages are concerned with "being" and "direct knowing" of the "eternal and most present; utterly simple and the greatest; most actual and unchangeable". Here words begin to loose relevance to actual direct experience of that which is "greatest precisely because it is utterly simple".
    In Kabbalah this is denoted partly by the symbolism of the Veil of Paroketh which separates the lower four Sephiroth from Tiphareth.

    THE MERCY SEAT AND SOLOMON'S THRONE
    ADEPTUS MAJOR (Geburah) and ADEPTUS EXEMPTUS (Chesed)
    The sixth and seventh stages of the Work are described with analogy to the two Cherubs facing the Mercy Seat. The discernment of Geburah and the joy of Chesed are pointed to as connected to the contemplation of the trinity (i.e. the Upper Sephiroth of Binah, Chockmah and Kether). A "perfection of illumination" is attained at the end of the sixth stage, and the seventh stage is given to the "passing over of the Red Sea" into the "Superluminous darkness" and "unknowing", which I would suggest describes the stages of the Abyss and Binah in the Initiatory System. From that point, Bonaventure hints "to the friend to whom these words were written, let us say with Dionysius;

    But you, my friend,
    concerning mystical visions,
    with your journey more firmly determined,
    leave behind
    your senses and intellectual activities,
    sensible and invisible things
    all nonbeing and being;
    and in this state of unknowing
    be restored,
    insofar as it is possible,
    to unity with Him
    who is above all essence and knowledge.
    For transcending yourself and all things,
    by the immeasurable and absolute ecstasy of a pure mind,
    leaving behind all things
    and freed from all things,
    you will ascend
    to the superessential ray
    of the divine darkness.


    AFTER THE PASSING OVER
    MAGISTER TEMPLI (Binah), MAGUS (Chockmah) and IPSSISIMUS (Kether)
    As a conclusion, Bonaventure notes that during the final stages of contemplation and work, it is acceptance of death or unity with the "fire" which alone can achieve a successful conclusion, in order that we may "pass out of this world to the Father". If the work of the lower Sephiroth is characterised by enquiry, and that of the middle Sephiroth by being, then the work of the upper Sephiroth is that of transcendence.
    Bonaventure's prose is extremely straightforward, despite a tendency to repeat a theme by listing aspects of it from many angles, and as such is quite accessible to the student of Mystical attainment.

    This fire is God,
    and his furnace is in Jerusalem. (Isa. 31:9.) 

    ... to your realization, In Lak`ech,  #OdiliaCarmen
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