The three things that are universal according to Indian Buddhism are impermanence, suffering, and delusion. When I was expressing the three universals, Roshi Sazaki stopped me and said, “Just suffering, enough. Just suffering, enough.” My friend said, “What’s wrong if he builds a bridge for us through this?” Roshi stopped me, “Just suffering is enough.” Isn’t that the reason for spiritual practice, suffering?
Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras and said the purpose of Yoga is ceasing to identify with the mental modifications. Otherwise you’re building habit energies, called “vasanas.”
Mantra is a phrase or a word that is supposed to relate to the name of God. It is not something someone made up, although there is one local teacher teaching mantras to Americans that he did make up. These mantras have been revealed to the Rshis, the great sages in India. (I think the Japanese word for Zen Master, Roshi, comes from the Indian word for Master, Rshi.)
I’m going to break apart some of the mantras and tell you their meaning. Remember, mantras were not invented. The most familiar way of using a mantra is the repetition of the name of God. That repetition can be spoken aloud. When you do it aloud you usually have the 108 beads, the mala, and you use it to help count. People in India will promise to do a certain number of malas a day. A hundred and eight repetitions multiplied by the number of malas. It might be fifty, it might be a hundred, it might be thousands.
For instance, once an Indian man taught me a mantra. It is a mantra to attain material wealth. (Repeats mantra rapidly) If you can remember that, you can write it down. (laughter) The mantra is repeated constantly. (A yogi may repeat it with every breath, and too, mentally.) You can repeat it aloud; you can mumble it. I’ve seen people in Banares sitting and mumbling it. For Indian people it seems hard to repeat it mentally. The most effective use of mantra is manasika japa, mental repetition. A yogi, someone who is devoting his entire life to attaining moksha (attaining liberation), repeats it until he and the mantra become one.
A Story: Ram at the Wall
There is a story of a yogi who was walking around a complete renunciate, and when he came to a temple he did what often yogis do, they go to the back wall and relieve themselves against the wall. This man, this yogi, repeated the mantra “Ram,” short for Rama. (Rama, the Avatar, is one of the incarnations of God.) As he walked along, all the time the yogi repeated, “Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram.” He went to the wall and as he was relieving himself, he was openly repeating “Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram.” The priest came running out from the temple and said, “You shouldn’t be repeating the name of God while you’re relieving yourself!” The Yogi said, “I’m sorry,” and he stopped repeating the name, “Ram, Ram, Ram.” The moment he stopped, every cell in his body cried out, “Ram, Ram, Ram!” The priest shook his head and blurted out, “Such rules are not for a man like you!” Tantra teaches that every cell in the body can be brought to a point of ecstasy. Are you willing to make the effort?
By the use of causal sound, we remake ourselves. And what do we remake ourselves into? We remake ourselves into potential joy. Some say that the transcendental sound of Om is heard only by real yogis. But some of you who meditate a lot, I am sure, have heard it.
Seed mantras are called bija. These seed mantras are aspects of the supreme mantra, Om. Bija mantras are seed letters directly derived from the fifty primeval sounds and are very powerful. Each has an important inner spiritual meaning. Also, each devi, god, or goddess has his or her own bija, dedicated to him or her.
The following sounds are some of the eleven seed mantras and their meanings. The first seed letter is Haum. Ha, the first part, is Shiva; and au is Sadashiva. Included in Haum, nada is sound. And bindu means the point from which everything comes, a dot with location but without extension. Nada and bindu together in Haum mean that which dispels sorrow. With the mantra Haum, Lord Shiva is worshipped.
The next bija is Dum: da is Durga and u means to protect. Here, nada means mother of the universe and bindu means the action of worship or prayer. After Dum comes Kreem: Ka is Kali, ra is Brahman, and ee is Mahamaya, and so on with the rest of the remaining eight bija.
Sri Vidya says one must only do the mantras with initiation. Those uninitiated should not do the mantras. The mantras could harm one if not properly repeated. The last thing Sri Vidya discusses is mantra meditation. Is the greatest mantra meditation Om or pranava? Om contains all other sounds in it. Do not, if you live in the world, meditate on Om or use Om because Om is the mantra of the renunciate. If you begin chanting Om (and there are groups who do), pretty soon you’ll be a renunciate though you don’t set out to be one. Your friends will fall away; you’ll lose your money. Chanting Om is like a sign on a store that says, “We’re a non-profit organization – although we didn’t set out to be one.”
It has been very tempting to me, many times, to use Om. Recently when I left California, I went to the desert for ten days and had a retreat. I was a hermit for ten days. I’d love to repeat Om, but I want to be active in the world. So I didn’t use Om at all. Instead, I did a lot of T’ai Chi Chih and meditation.
One of the T’ai Chi Chih teachers advertised in Sacramento that she was teaching Raja Yoga. I was surprised. I didn’t know it had ever been taught in this country. So I wrote her and asked, “Are you teaching Yama, Niyama, and so forth?” She’d never heard of these things. She was just teaching a meditation and calling it Raja Yoga. There are eight steps to Raja Yoga:
1.) Yama. These are conducts that are prohibited, the “don’ts” – violence, lying, stealing, coveting;
2.) Niyama. This is the positive side, the attitudes to be cultivated – purity, contentment, perseverance in selfless service, study of the Self, devotion to God. In India, they say it is absolutely necessary to have the moral side first before you get on to the other steps;
3.) Asana. These are the physical postures. This is Hatha Yoga. Some of you have probably studied Hatha Yoga, the postures, the mudras, and so forth. Do any of you know what Hatha Yoga means? Ha means sun, tha means moon. There is a very deep meaning to that. The preliminary steps in Raja Yoga are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and pratyahara;
4.) Pranayama. This is the science of prana; it is not the science of breath. You know how you translate prana into Chinese? Chi. Chi and prana. Pranayama is the science of prana or chi;
5.) Pratyahara. This is the science of withdrawing the senses from the field of the senses. It’s a very subtle point. If you can withdraw the senses from the field of the senses, you are oblivious to pain. A true yogi can have his teeth drilled without any Novocain and he’s not going to feel it. This could even be dangerous. Ramurti Mishra calls withdrawing the senses from the field of the senses “dehypnotization.” The mind has been hypnotized and vasanas and habit energies have been formed. A very big part of the dehypnotization is going back to where you started, or to what the Chinese call the “uncarved block.” It has to do with the practice of pratyahara.
These five are preliminaries and yet, some people in America may believe that Hatha Yoga, standing on your head or something, is the end goal in Yoga. Hatha Yoga is actually just one of the five preliminaries. Only after you’ve done the five preliminaries, are you ready for the next three:
6.) Dharana, which is translated as concentration;
7.) Dhyana, which is meditation;
8.) Samadhi, which, in Raja Yoga, is the end result. Samadhi is the super conscious state. There are two levels: one with characteristics, saguna, called samprajnata-samadhi, and one without characteristics, nirguna, called asamprajnata-samadhi.
Samadhi is the end goal in Yoga, but it is only the middle of Buddhism. When we talk about Buddhism later, there is another step after samadhi that is prajna, meaning wisdom. The last three steps of Raja Yoga are not separate. Concentration turns into meditation, meditation turns into samadhi.
Professor Nan in Taipei
When I was staying in Taipei, a man called me at near midnight from the lobby of the hotel and said, “I want to talk to you.” I said, “I’ll come down and we’ll have tea.” He said, “I don’t want tea; I want to talk to you.” And he came up to my room and talked to me for several hours. What he was doing was determining if it was worthwhile for his Master to see me. When I eventually went and saw the Master, he insisted in going into the next room, which was the meditation room, to see if I knew how to sit properly. So we sat. He had a translator; the Master didn’t speak English and I don’t speak any Chinese. He said to me, “Pick a spot on the wall.” (And I did.) “Now close your eyes and see
that spot. Keep seeing it.” I knew what the purpose was. This is dharana, concentration, only in the Chinese sense. I had a tremendous experience. The translator said, “Tell the Master your experience.” He said this to me three times. He knew I was having it. I didn’t tell him because, in Japan, they taught us not to speak of our meditation experiences. I later regretted not telling him my experience. After the meditation, the Master eventually gave a banquet for me. We had wine and food in a downtown office building.
When I got on a freighter coming back from Taiwan, there was only one book in the library, The Secret of the Golden Flower. What a strange book to be in the library. Reading it, I found described there the exact experience that I’d had with the Chinese Master. From this concentration on the spot on the wall that I’d seen when my eyes were closed, and through the power of the teacher, I was given a tremendous spiritual experience. This is dharana, from which comes dhyana and samadhi.
Instead of focusing on a spot on the wall, some schools have used candles as a focus point. You’ve heard about that because they use candles in the West. Others have used other things. There are more subtle concentrations. That is Raja Yoga.
Taking Time To Develop
Teachers who have come here from abroad have started students right away with concentration, meditation, and samadhi. But the great Indian teachers have said, “No, you don’t start with that. You start with the five preliminaries.”
Yogis practice something called the dumo heat, or tummo in Chinese. Dumo is Tibetan. Have any of you read Meditation for Healing? In it, I wrote a description of the dumo heat. You also know that I left out a couple of parts because I don’t want you to try it by yourself. I practiced for two years without a teacher and I ended up with internal bleeding and a lot of other things. I didn’t have anyone to turn to. Finally, when I had the experience, it was overwhelming.
I have lived with yogis in the Himalayas who go down to bathe in the Ganges before 4 AM in the morning. It is pretty high up. The animals would be bathing at that time, too. Everything seemed relaxed and happy until a tiger roared. When that happened, everyone scattered and a couple of monkeys fainted. The first time I heard a tiger roar, I thought it was thunder. Some of the yogis came out of the water and didn’t even bother to dry themselves. This is the result of cultivating the dumo heat. Can you imagine how cold it is at 4 AM up there? All they have on is a little G-string and nothing else. I’d see them in the middle of the day lying out in the road somewhere, sun bathing.
I knew a new yogi who had come there from Bombay. He said, “If they can do it, then I can do it.” He went down and bathed in the water and when he got out, he didn’t dry himself. By that evening, he was deathly sick. He hadn’t spent any time developing the dumo or internal heat.
There is a type of yoga that is in Tibet (some of you, I know, have had experiences like this) in which you’re taught to open the aperture of Brahma (the spot at the top of the head.) There is a book, Kundalini, written by a very interesting man, Gopi Krishna. His books are all so true. To awaken the Kundalini, he imagined a stalk, a lotus coming from the aperture of Brahma. There is a mantra (although I’m not going to give it to you), which if repeated, will encourage the aperture to open. The purpose of opening the aperture is that as you die, you can leave consciously through that space. You’re supposed to know that you’re going to die and leave consciously through the aperture. The Tibetan yogis practice this. The trouble is that once in a while it opens prematurely. The yogis get out and can’t come back in, and they’re not ready to die. There are a lot of dangers with this practice.
During my first night up near Laksmanjula, it was a rainy night with a storm blowing outside, and one of the holy men went out of his head, crazy. He had been practicing Kundalini Yoga without a teacher. The next morning they came and took him away. The holy man was smiling and laughing. They led him away, smiling, to a clinic that would treat him. A lot of practitioners have this experience because they go off and don’t have proper guidance. This is life or death stuff. It’s pretty rough.
Another example of improper preparation happened in Japan when at midnight a Japanese Zen Master, followed by some of his students, regularly went out to a frigid waterfall, stripped down and stood under the waterfall (this was in the winter) concentrating on a spot two inches below the naval, the t’an t’ien. (I have a picture somewhere of five people doing this. Four are comfortable and the other guy is in such agony you can’t believe it.) One of the monks seeing him do it, said to the other monk, “Well, if he can do it, then I can do it.” He went out at midnight, stood in the waterfall, got deathly sick, and had to be sent home. You cannot practice Yoga or practice Zen if you’re sick.
Yoga is a Science
Remember this about Yoga, which few people know: Yoga is a science. Yoga is not a religion. This is important because, when I told you last week about the science of Yoga, I told you that Yoga philosophy is that of Samkhya. Yoga is atheistic. How many people would believe that? This does not mean that the yogi is not a spiritual man. I asked one teacher, “Out of all those who come to study Hatha Yoga with you, are they all religious?” He said, “Not at the beginning, but after they’ve been doing it awhile, yes.”Yoga is a science. It is about cause and effect. It is practice and experience versus faith and theology. Ramana Maharshi said, “Go back the way you came.” That is, go back and erase the causes. When you erase the causes, the vasanas, the habit energies, fall away.
Yoga says, “Dissatisfaction with the misery of the world leads to the search for pleasure.” All you have to do is read the papers to see this happening. But this search for pleasure causes attachment and disturbs the mind. Then we have the vasanas, the habit energies. Repeat the pleasurable and shrink from the unpleasant. Can you have up without down? The search for pleasure leads to suffering.
One time, I was riding in a car with a gestalt psychologist. He said to me, “Actually Yoga and Zen are not very much different from what I do.” I said, “I can correct that for you with one sentence.” He said, “What’s the sentence?” I said, “For spiritual practice, the pleasure principle must be attenuated. You must do away with the pleasure principle.” He said, “Oh, don’t say that, Justin!” It threatened his whole way of life. He wasn’t doing the same thing.
By controlling the breath, mind is controlled and vice versa. For those of you who do meditation, when you learn certain breathings, you will be aided in mind control. In Seijaku, the toning with movement will still the mind, making it possible to control the otherwise difficult-to-control mind.
Another Yoga tenet: vasanas do not belong to you. You are the creation of these tendencies. Do you understand the subtle difference? These vasanas and habit energies that go on life after life are what create you. What is the weapon they use? Chi. So, in that sense, chi is the means by which the Absolute (divinity) manifests. It is the link. I don’t want to say the link between God and the everyday world, but I have had spiritual experiences in which I have seen it.
Chi is that which forms the soul. Yoga says you can be anything you want in the future. All you have to do is do away with these vasanas, these habit energies, which means attenuating the pleasure principle. Our habits are based on the notion, “I have found this pleasurable and that unpleasurable. So what I want to do is keep the pleasurable and do away with the unpleasurable.”
A Story: Maharshi & the Pleasure-Pain Continuum
I want to tell you a story, which is rather humorous. I was very close to Maharshi when he came to this country. He had me sit in his office while he interviewed people. (Let me say this about the Maharshi. He was a very sweet man, and he proved to me over and over that he was a man of great yogic powers. I want to make this clear beforehand because I don’t want you to misunderstand.) I sat in his office, meditating, while he was having these interviews. And the things I would hear, I couldn’t believe. Here is one story someone told me. A doctor came to see Maharshi and wanted to be initiated. Maharshi asked this man, “Why do you want to learn to meditate?” He said, “Well, I’m having two experiences. When I go to bed at night, go to sleep, I am taken to a fairyland where there are the most beautiful babes you’ve ever seen.” (This was his expression.) “And there is one long orgy. I have never known such pleasure.” Maharshi said, “Well, what is it that you want?” The doctor said, “Then my consciousness is transported to a dead body in a cemetery. The body is eaten by worms. There I am. You can’t imagine how horrible it is. If I learn to meditate, what will happen?” Maharshi said, “All that will be behind you, it will all disappear.” The man didn’t want it all to disappear. He wanted the first part to continue. As I understand it, he died shortly thereafter.
I hope my talking about all the yogas didn’t remove all the Zen from you. They’re so different. The Indian temperament is so different from the Chinese and Japanese temperament. But, in truth, the one who really practices Zen, the monk, he is a yogi, too. There’s so much you can say about these different paths. There’s so much material here (pointing to notes) that is so valuable. How should one present it without it being too academic? You can present the essence of Zen without sounding stuffy.
A Story: Throw It Out
I’m going to tell you one Zen story. It illustrates Zen’s feeling of emptiness or Void. Chao Chou, a Chinese man whose name in Japan is Joshu, was a wonderful teacher. (My teacher, Roshi Sazaki, took his name from Joshu.) Chao Chou started practice at sixty, reached Zen enlightenment at eighty, and taught to 120. What a remarkable guy.
One of his monks said to him, “If a man comes here carrying nothing, what should I tell him?” Chao Chou said, “Tell him to throw it out.” “Well, if he’s not carrying anything, how can he throw it out?” “Okay, then let him to carry it out.”
It’s very humorous, but there’s deep meaning. The monk is asking, “If a man comes here who’s found emptiness and has a sunyata personality, has completely reached that goal, there isn’t anything to tell him, is there?” Chao Chou is saying “I have no time for such a guy. He’s fixated on it! Fine, he’s reached it, let him throw it away!” Zen continually emphasizes, that after the enlightenment, after you’ve
succeeded, forget it. Go back into the world and make the complete circle. Live as an ordinary person again. So then the monk say, “If he’s not bringing anything, he doesn’t have anything. How can I tell him to throw it out?” “Tell him to carry it out!”
In other words, it isn’t enough to reach the final goal. You’ve got to block the goal out. Pretty difficult stuff. I love that story because when I tell it, people always laugh. He comes here carrying nothing, what should I tell him, tell him to throw it out. That has deep meaning to it. All the very simple stories in Zen have deep meanings, but you have to realize what they’re really talking about.
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I emphasize that Yoga is a science. It is not a religion. It does not matter if you’re an atheist or a believer. These practices will bring these results. Practice and experience.
Yoga says, by controlling the breath, mind is controlled. And vice versa. Ramana Maharshi, a great teacher, said the highest form of worship is the repetition of the name of God while the breath is held. Very often I chant the Gayatri Mantra (which some of you know):
Om Bhuh Bhuvah Svah Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dyo Yoo Nah Prachodayat.
We sing it rather than chant it. Ramana Maharshi said that the first four words in the Gayatri Mantra – Om Bhuh Bhuva Svah – are the sounds of creation. So when you’re chanting the Gayatri Mantra (which is the one mantra in India that is felt to be for all people of all castes, of all places, at any time), the first four sounds according to Ramana Maharshi are the sounds of creation.
In regard to yogic practice, remember this truism: these tendencies do not belong to somebody, somebody is the creation of these tendencies. Your tendencies do not belong to you; you belong to the tendencies. You are the creation of the tendencies. So, you want to remake yourself? Just change the tendencies.
Two Stories: Astral Travel & a Warning
Several times when I’ve talked, I’ve been asked about astral travel, which seems to be easy for most yogis. I’ll tell you two stories about it. I would suggest that anyone except the most experienced yogi skip astral travel. Some of you here might have practiced it. There are people who definitely do. There is one discipline, which teaches you how to astral travel. It is very dangerous. I’ve known some people who did it unconsciously. They didn’t know how or why, and they were terrified. Others do it because it seems to be great sport. Then they have to rest all the next day because it’s terribly tiring, the mind in particular is very fatigued. It is dangerous.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean by dangerous. A friend of mine, Martin M., decided to go to Japan and become a Zen monk. He’d been there before. When I came to Kyoto, I went to see him for a couple of days. After a while, I said, “Martin, are you going out of your body during meditation, during Zazen?” “How did you know?” he asked. I said, “Well, all the signs are there: the fatigue, the fact that you’re always cold. And there are a lot of other things.” He answered, “Yes, I am. And it’s getting harder to come back to the body when the bell rings!”
Of course, this is the big danger. What if you do some astral traveling and you don’t get back? Then you have a problem. I said to Martin, “That’s not Zen practice at all. Does your Master know about it?” He said, “No, he doesn’t.” I said, “That’s strange, he’s a Master, he should have recognized it. If I can recognize it, the Master should have caught it right away and taken steps to correct it.”
Martin continued astral traveling and the next thing I knew, he was back in the States. I heard he’d had a nervous breakdown and had to be sent home. Years later I met him here in Albuquerque. He came to visit a woman named Maria Chabot. He was driven in a car, sight seeing, to Santa Fe. When he got out in the country and he couldn’t take the vastness, he said, “Take me back, take me back!” He couldn’t take the open countryside, so obviously he hadn’t come out of the nervous breakdown. This is one example of astral travel.
A Second Example
Once I was having dinner in Hollywood with Charles Lutes and his wife, Helen. Those of you who’ve had any experience with Transcendental Meditation know that Charlie Lutes was the head for a while of the American T.M. branch. After dinner, walking along with nothing in mind, Helen said, “Why don’t we stop in the Cherokee Book Store and look at some books?” “Okay.” As we walked through the door, the man behind the counter said, “Is there a Lutes with you there?” Charles said, “Yeah, but who’d know I’m here? I didn’t even know I was going to be here two minutes ago.” “Well, there’s a telephone call for you.” Charlie got on the phone and when he came back he was shaking his head. Some fellow who does astral traveling and lives at the other end of San Fernando Valley, a long distance away, was cruising up and down Hollywood Boulevard and saw Charlie entering and thought it would be a great trick to call him on the phone and talk to him. That is very dangerous. It is tempting because it is a new experience, and you think it’s something great. Astral travel has nothing to do with spirituality. It is best to stay away from astral traveling. I talked to Swami Krishnanand, called Saint Krishnanand, about this and about the stories of bodies flying through the air. What they’re describing is actually astral traveling.
By controlling the breath, mind is controlled. By controlling the mind, the breath is controlled. That is a very important part of Yoga. Yoga says, “Misery is due to multifarious thoughts.” If the thoughts are unified and centered on a single item, there is no misery. Happiness is a result. Then even the thought “I do something” is absent. Nor will there be an “I” in the fruit of action. This is Yoga. An “I” in the fruit of
action, in yogic terms, is not your right. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna said, “You have the right to action, but you do not have the right to the fruit of action.” Of course the fruit of action will be the result of karma. Those of us who do things because we want a reward for it are doing just the opposite of what the yogi says. Yoga says people identify with their emotions and not with Reality. After a while, you live in a dream world where your emotional changes are like tumbleweeds. They have nothing to do with Reality.
Three Stories: Who Am I?
Those of you who’ve been with me in T’ai Chi Chih have heard me say over and over again, “Your task in this life is to find out who and what you are. You can’t find out what you are until you find out who you are.”
Here are two stories about two different men trying to answer the question “Who am I?” When Rabindranath Tagore, the great poet of India and a great translator (he translated the Kabir poetry I read the first night), asked himself “Who am I?” this is his response: “The first day’s sun asked at the first manifestation of being, ‘Who are you?’ No answer came. Year after year went by. At the last sun of the day, the last question uttered on the western seashore, in the silent evening was, ‘Who are you?’ Rabindranath got no answer.” He must have been an unhappy man, a tortured man, albeit a very brilliant one. He didn’t know who he was.
Contrast Rabindranath’s response to the question “Who am I?” with Tako-san’s answer. Tako-san was a very simple man who lived in Japan. He founded a place called Itoen, a small organization called the Conscience of Japan (I’m afraid Japan needs it now), a place you have to be invited back to every night. The sole purpose of Itoen is to give help to others. They go out in the daytime and do various services. Tako-san had been a Zen Buddhist monk. When you hear this quotation, you wonder if he didn’t continue as a Zen Buddhist monk. When he asked “Who am I?” this is his response: “Who am I? With one rice bowl, a thousand homes, alone I roam for countless autumns, being neither empty nor phenomenal, returning to life without pleasure or pain. Warm days and green grass at the river’s bank. Cool breezes sweeping calmly beneath the bridge. Should you ask, by chance, who are you? A bright new moon floating over the water.” See, he knows who he is. “A bright new moon floating over the water.” What a difference. Tako-san is, I think, a happy man.
One time, some T’ai Chi Chih students came with their teacher to see me in Carmel. They’d come quite a long way. We sat in my house overlooking a garden. As always happens, one asked about reincarnation. That’s not a very accurate term. I answered, “I’m not very sure what you mean by reincarnation. Is this what you mean? There is a tree in the yard. Leaves are falling from the tree. It is autumn. It is the nature of the tree to shed its leaves in autumn. But they’ll be back in the spring time.” The student immediately piped up, “But they won’t be the same leaves.” My answer was: “Why identify with the leaves, why not identify with the tree?” She was getting into individuality, speaking about herself. We hate to give up our individuality. I actually think that people love their suffering: “Doctor, don’t take away my suffering, what would I have left?”
Mind and breath, as thought and action, fork out into two branches. But both spring from a single root. That is something for you to think about. Mind and breath spring from a single root. Is there anything more basic than breath? Knowing the Self is being the Self. Self cannot be objectified. You can’t make an object out of yourself.
Two Stories – Sufi Style – about Nazrudin
The Sufis teach by way of stories, but they’re a different type of story from the Zen story. I’m going to tell you two having to do with Nazrudin, who was thought to be a joyous fool. Of course he wasn’t a fool. In the first story, Nazrudin was sprinkling powder outside around his home. A friend said, “What are you doing, Nazrudin?” He said, “I’m doing this to keep the tigers away.” “Tigers? There are no tigers around here.” “Works pretty well, doesn’t it?” Humorous story but there’s a lot in it.
In the second story, when Nazrudin was a boatman, a ferry boatman, he rowed people across the river. A great scholar came and got into the boat. He spoke to Nazrudin and when Nazrudin answered him, the scholar said, “Gee, your grammar is terrible, didn’t you ever go to school? Don’t you know anything?” He kept pestering Nazrudin all the way. “You’re an idiot!” he exclaimed to Nazrudin. Nazrudin turned to the scholar and said, “Did you ever learn to swim?” “No,” the scholar said. “Well you better learn in a hurry because the boat is sinking.”
The Two Tantras
For those of you who practice meditation and mantras, the last thing I want to say about Yoga is a real message of hope. By the use of causal sound, we remake ourselves. We remake ourselves into potential joy. Tantra feels that every cell in the body can be brought to a point to joy. That is Tantra.
Many scholars don’t know that there is a difference between Tantra and Tantra Yoga. I had one person say to me, “Teach me Tantra.” This person had heard about the left hand Tantra, the sexual Tantra, although it’s misunderstood. I’m going to tell you a little about this before we get off this because that is part of Yoga, too.
Indian Tantra is the worship of Shiva and Shakti. Tantric Buddhism in Tibet certainly has nothing to do with worship or anything to do with Shiva or Shakti. It is a form of Buddhism, Vajrayana, the diamond form of Buddhism. They’re two completely different things and yet people (scholars) get them mixed up.
Tantric Buddhism called Left-hand Tantra in Tibet
In Tantric Buddhism, in Tibet, there is what is called the left hand Tantra. One practice that they teach is, in my opinion, derived from the Chinese, what is called the backward flowing method. I’m afraid it’s principally for the male, not the female. The backward flowing method is to take the energy from the sexual excitation and transmute it into something higher. I once taught a young yogi how to do that because he was very upset. He was twenty-two years old and was having nightly emissions. He had read that the ojas, the semen, should never leave the body if you’re a yogi. He didn’t have much control over it at night. I told him to set his mental alarm to wake up at 1:00 AM and do the macrocosmic breath. Some of you who have read my book Meditation For Healing have seen references to the macrocosmic breath. Make nine circles of the breath in a certain way. He did the macrocosmic breaths and, not only did he not have that problem again, but he’d wake up in the morning with so much energy he’d go for long bicycle rides before the day started.
I will finish this little bit about the left hand Tantra. In the left hand Tantra, the young yogi is shown how to have intercourse with a young woman. There were volunteers for this (not for the usual sexual experience.) But first the yogi has to cultivate the ability to worship this woman as the goddess. Then when he has the actual intercourse, there is to be no orgasm. No giving out at all. Then at a certain period, both the man and the woman lie back. It is said that after about an hour there comes such an ecstasy that’s beyond anything in the world. It will last for about an hour. Many have said that it’s too much to take. How many will go through this sort of discipline in order to experience this spiritual bliss? This is a spiritual act though it is greatly misunderstood. There are people who don’t know anything about it who are writing books in the West and trying to pep up people’s sex life by teaching how to do this (of course, for a price!) The karma from charging money for what is actually a spiritual practice is not very good.
Now we leave Yoga, although we could talk about it for months and go into the various aspects of it. Probably more has been written about Yoga and Indian Buddhism than any other two subjects in the world.
This article is published in Gateway To Eastern Philosophy & Religion.