When the physiology and psyche are clean and pure, all experiences move from the surface to the depth of one’s being, undistorted. What then reflects back as the individual’s perspective is in harmony with all of nature.
However, each individual has what is called their unique “psychophysiological basenote.” The psychophysiological basenote is a distortion resulting from the sum total of one’s life experiences. For some, it is anger. For others, sadness, fear, distrust, self-doubt, or a longing for peace and love. The psychophysiological basenote can be likened to the color of glasses one is wearing. It determines the nature of one’s perceptions. So, when an impression or experience comes in, it reflects off of the psychophysiological basenote to some degree, coloring one’s viewpoint, perception, thoughts, and feelings. You could say it is the psychophysiological basenote that creates friction in one’s life, thusly creating Karma.
It’s interesting to note that even Vedic principles or principles that I teach in my classes are heard through the individual’s psychophysiological basenote. The intellect then rallies around the distortions. In that way, even knowers of the Veda or my teachings are not true Knowers. Over time, as the distortions clear, the vision and understanding becomes clearer. But that is a process that takes time and is facilitated through meditation and humble reflection. However, identification with the psychophysiological basenote is not easily brushed away. It is held firmly as one’s truth, one’s knowledge, one’s perspective.
There is a principle in psychology that a client’s positive transference (positive perception) of the therapist inevitably, at some point in time, becomes negative transference. That is as certain as a ball tossed up in the air will at some point come down. This principle also applies to the relationship of a student with their spiritual teacher. For that reason, traversing the path of that profound relationship with their teacher is sometimes viewed as the razor’s edge. In other words, one very easily slips off of that path in allegiance to one’s psychophysiological basenote.
Generally, the spiritual teacher first provides the student with fundamental principles about the nature of life and existence. For the student, that is a very inspiring and life-transforming period. During this phase of positive transference, it is often experienced as a time of euphoric infatuation with the knowledge.
The next step is more challenging, for that is when the teacher holds up the mirror to the student, showing them their distortions, in order to help them purify out their distortions. It is then that the student must remain steadfast. It is then that their anger, sadness, fear, distrust, self-doubt, or longing for peace and love can become triggered. If they are not careful, it is then that they enter the time of negative transference and remain there, and thereby lose their way along the razor’s edge.
Similar to what is said in psychotherapy, the real work with the spiritual teacher begins after the student moves through positive and then negative transference. As has been said, it takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond. The key then, as one progresses, is to keep a steady hand on the rudder.
It’s been said of war that history is written by the victors. I would expand that to say that the present defines the past. Our present mentality is very different than the mentality of the past. Just think how differently we think now than we did in the 80’s, the 60’s, the 50’s, and so on. Just try to imagine how differently people thought 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, or 30,000 years ago! And it is not just human mentality that is so malleable. It is also the earth herself – earthquakes, climate change, consuming rain, fires, and natural disasters. Some say even the constants in the laws of physics change over time. All these changes mold our history.
To get some insight into the diverse nature of mentalities, we can even look at the same moment in time in different parts of the world. The whole field of international law is so incredibly complicated due to conflicting mentalities. As some have said, “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”
Now enters the field of archeology. Though I tip my hat to them for trying, we can hardly venture a guess as to how limited archeologists’ perspectives on ancient cultures might be. A rather classic example might be the Egyptian Sphynx. I understand that archaeologists date the Sphynx at several thousand years, while geologists point out that water erosion dates it at 10,000 years. What happened to the missing 7,000 years? It seems we have no idea.
The salient point here can be summed up in one word: “humility.” We do well to view our history not through the judgmental eyes of current perspective, but rather through the eyes of humility. We can only barely begin to understand our history. The further back in time we go, the less accessible it becomes. Paradoxically, we can benefit a great deal by trying to understand our history: who we are and how we got here.
We do well, though, to not forget the humility inherent in true understanding. We can’t judge our past, we can’t put it in a box, or frame it in a rigid manner. We hold it dearly, but lightly.
We can even generalize this further. Do we really understand the other person sitting across from us and their history? It seems that Socrates had it right: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” The unbounded nature of the field of pure no-thing-ness that dwells within us as us, as our true Self, the unknowable.
My kids wanted a pet, so we bought an outdoor cat. Over time, quite naturally, I became very attached to him. When he passed away, it was hard for me. But as time passed, rabbits and birds became more plentiful around my house. It’s as if they now have become my pets.
It’s sweet to see the same birds every morning returning to their favorite spots in the yard – a favorite tree branch, atop the head of the Ganesh statue, the Surya statue, or a particular rooftop corner. It feels like they know me and enjoy seeing me every morning. Even the rabbits become increasingly comfortable with my presence. It feels like they know I am their friend and don’t feel a great need to scurry off. There’s a particularly large raven that has a favorite area in my yard. When I talk to him, he responds with a fluffing of his feathers or a combing of his side, similar to how my cat used to respond to my voice. I noticed two young hawks often circling above my house. They, too, seem to enjoy my presence.
When I was in high school, I remember seeing an African quote in a bookstore: “Look back at any tragedy five years later, and it will be seen as a gift.” Though it intrigued me, that quote never made complete sense to me, and still doesn’t. At the same time, the loss of my cat brought the friendship of the birds and rabbits.
Pliability is a beautiful notion with a profound implication on all levels of life. The quarterback, Tom Brady, talks about pliability on the physical level. The idea is that as a football player, for example, anything that comes his way, be it the impact of a tackle or the need to zig-zag, his body is free to move as needed to accommodate the situation.
There is a big difference between “pliability” and “flexibility.” “Flexibility” can mean the ability to stretch to a great extent in given directions. “Pliability” involves flexibility in every direction. But even more importantly, it involves an integration of the entire physiology with the nervous system. Feedback from the brain to the muscles occurs instantaneously, enabling movement to maintain its own inner stability – keeping its balance, avoiding injury, and maintaining integration of the entire physiology with complete spontaneity. So pliability has its foundation in something much deeper than the stretch-ability or flexibility of the muscles.
On the psychological level, pliability involves the ability of the psyche to adapt and deal with a diverse range of thoughts and emotions. Stability on that level involves an anchoring in what some might call the soul or a sense of inner Self. It is unfortunate, though common, for people to rely on rigidity instead of inner stability. They cling to rigid beliefs and fixed perspectives in an attempt to find stability in their lives. That is at the expense of pliability.
The wind blows the branches of the tree in many directions. A healthy tree bends with the wind while finding stability in the trunk. A rigid tree, by holding its branches fixed, can snap in the wind. Through rigidity, we understand little. Through pliability, we understand everything.
Some mistake rigidity for stability. For example, some people rigidly suppress unpleasant emotions, always striving to give the impression of stability, though false. Some blindly adhere to a belief system, twisting facts or judging as need be to uphold their rigid stance.
Wisdom is infinitely pliable. Stable, yet bendable. Wisdom embraces the paradoxical nature of life. Wisdom eludes the grasp of rigidity, but rests upon the stable foundation of the soul.
Now we can turn to the nature of pliability on the Transcendental level. Within the depth of the Transcendent lies the unbounded nature of all possibilities – ungraspable, undefinable, infinitely stable, but without any rigidity. When awake to that level, the limitless in-sight into the nature of life and the wisdom of the divine is free to well up through the deepest levels of a person’s being, uncompromised, and unobstructed by the limitations of fixity.
This is the key to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras. We don’t rigidly hold onto, but rather let go of a thought. Then what comes back is structured, not by our preconceived notions or fixed ideas. Rather, it is structured by the unbounded wisdom and organizing power of the Transcendental source of our being. This is called freedom. Freedom from the fixed limitations that confine and compromise our thoughts and emotions.
The notion of pliability can trigger fear and aversion in those who felt a rigid relationship with life was the key to fulfillment. It’s not so easy to see past things that we have clung to our entire lives. On the other hand, as we awaken to the pliable nature of life and to ourselves, we become free to feel more, to know more, to adapt more, and to move more wisely forward in our lives. Pliability is not just a philosophy. Pliability is a state of physiology to be cultivated, which is ultimately known as the state of enlightenment.
Everything fits together: physics, biology, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, etc. It all unifies and seamlessly integrates into a perfect whole. Where it all comes together is in the very depth of existence itself, what physicists call the Unified Field and what theologians call God.
You can see evidence of unification on a more superficial level through interdisciplinary studies, where a couple of different fields of knowledge fit together. We see different connections all the time, but at the very depth of our being, at the very depth of our soul, everything comes together into a unified whole, a state of infinite harmony, resolution of paradox, oneness.
You can understand unity intellectually, you can even feel it emotionally, or you may have a sense of it deep within your soul. You can even have it as a belief system, attitude, or philosophy. But you don’t fully understand unity until you live it from a state of integrated physiology which is rooted in that deepest level of life.
The principle is simple enough, but the universe that emerges out of that one simple thing becomes complex, riddled with contradictions, paradox, and unfathomable intricacies. Yet we live in a world that we attempt to fathom, attempt to find our way. Though the depth is ungraspable, it can be rested upon and thereby lived. As we evolve, we under-stand more and more. As it has been said, a mango tree’s branches, filled with fruit, bend down to rest upon the ground. Similarly, when filled with the fruit of wisdom, we bow down and touch Mother Earth in humility.
“I’m wondering what happens after life. I see the paradox of just living in a mystery, but I do believe there is some sort of experience after death. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to have fun and spread love after I’m dead. I know consciousness is eternal, but what kind of part do I play in this mix of energy and frequencies?”
Ultimately, every drop of rain gravitates back to the ocean. Like that, eventually, every soul returns to the Oneness, out of which it emerged. That is the highest heaven. However, the journey is long and winding.
Every mind, every consciousness, has a particular tone… a state, a quality. One’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs are expressions of that tone, just as the color of one’s glasses determines the color tone of everything one views.
When the body drops away, the awareness is left in a sort of dream world determined by that tone. However, that tone has a continuum of levels, from superficial emotions to deeper levels of one’s being, to a profoundly deep connection with the Divine Essence that underlies all of creation. The possibilities of what happens after the body drops away are as endless as the spectrum of human psychological states.
Those who have been transcending regularly through deep meditation sail past the mountains of Karma and rest at a very high level of heaven. Others may find a world that correlates with the negativity that has colored their lives. As one lives in that world, the identity with it unravels over time until the individual is freed of it. As ye sew, so shall ye reap. The more deeply consumed by the negative tone, the more time is required to unravel its grip.
However, we must not be too simplistic in this. You see, often it is the ‘good’ (so to speak) people who judge their negativity most harshly, while the ‘bad’ live with righteous indignation. However, deep inside, we all know better. So, who and what we are deeper inside (where we know better) is what determines what we create after the body drops away. In that sense, we become our own self-honest judge and jury. If the negativity does not reach too deeply into the psyche, then the hellish nightmare that correlates with it lasts just a short time and is just brushed away like cobwebs. If the negative behavior is judged as a serious transgression, the nightmare lasts proportionally longer. We all have our value systems, our judgement systems, but deeper inside we all know better than we may be willing or able to see, to admit. Yet, it is that deeper inner knowing, the inner judge, thatprescribes what happens after the body drops away. All we can do in the meantime is our best.
To live better, look deeper. Life goes on after the body drops away. Meditate regularly and do your best. Know that you will stumble, but fear not. You are not judged by your stumblings. It is the deeper theme, the driving force underlying the path you have chosen, that really matters. Ultimately, we all reach the highest heaven. How long that takes, what you endure in the meantime, is up to you. Meditation is your most powerful tool to move forward wisely. The winds of Karma may blow harshly in your face at the time, but just move forward, forward, always forward. In spite of our many stumblings, we should still strive to live life in a manner where we can put our head on our pillow at night and say, “I did my best”.
The part you play in the greater scheme of things depends upon your steadfast commitment to the journey home to your inner wisdom, what some call your inner Divinity or the place within where you are one with God. Whatever you choose to call it… well, a rose is still a rose.
The more you move forward, the greater your part in the well-being of all you touch. Your touch reaches further and further as you grow and grow, until ultimately, you become like the Sun, whose nurturing light touches us all.
I recently had a dream in which an ancient Hawaiian Shaman came and spoke with me. He talked about feelings and emotions. I can right now only remember one thing he said, “Emotions are funny things. Each time you touch one, it changes.” However, the feeling of my meeting with him said a great deal more to me, through feelings. When I woke up, I thought about it a while. I wondered if I heard that sentence somewhere and it just did not consciously register until the dream, but I do not believe so. Then I thought to search “Hawaiian Shaman” on the Internet and up came the following intriguing link about ancient Hawaiian symbols:
I spoke of this movie in the recent California class. It is a beautiful true story. Personally, I got choked up several times while viewing it. I am not sure if all people would react the same way I did, but I do believe it is a movie that you would like to watch.
What a precious gift is kindness. Don’t we all wish there was more of it in our lives! Isn’t the idea of a truly kind friend something we all cherish, but all too often simply long for?
Kindness sees, kindness understands, but kindness doesn’t judge. Understanding is not blind; judgment is blind. Understanding need not be all knowing. In fact, understanding knows that omniscience is the domain only of the divine. Yet, understanding is inherent in the kindness we mortals are capable of. We don’t have to look far to see that judgment and negativity seem to be the way of this world. Agni (fire) and Soma (water) make up this world. There is an excess of Agni in the world these days. It is the Soma nectar of loving kindness that supports and upholds the very fabric of life. Mount Soma was created to cultivate that nectar of peace and kindness. May we all hold one another in that light of kindness.
In my experience as a beginning musician, I stumbled upon an analogy that works in a limited way, but provides, I think, some valuable insight.
It seems there are essentially two approaches to learning music. One is to understand the theory and basically jam on the notes and chord progressions of the theory underlying a particular song or type of music. The other approach is sheer memorization. Memorizing, for example, where to put your fingers, and in what sequence. As a beginning musician, I found the memorization approach tedious and confining. In my observations of others, it seems like a common experience: they get halfway through a piece, hit a wrong note or lose their place, get frustrated, pound on the keys, and start once again.
In contrast, when I learn to jam, I feel free. Mistakes don’t matter because I can just flow right through them and they become part of the music. Now I understand that other people, and no doubt advanced musicians, would have a lot to say in agreement and in opposition to my perspective. So yes, the analogy does break down, but there is a real value to the point of the analogy as follows:
Life is to be lived in a state of psychological and intellectual freedom. It is the foundation of creativity and individuality. The indoctrination of mimicry is confining, limiting, and painful.
However, I’m not talking about anarchy here, or sheer rebellion. As with the laws of music, there are laws of nature. To succeed in life, we must live in harmony with those laws of nature, while enjoying the freedom of our own unique nature. There are laws of nature that we adhere to, but afford us a great deal of freedom. That way, we can jam with the freedom of self-expression in life without overstepping the bounds of natural law. That is the state of liberation. On the other hand, trying to conform to a memorized notion of proper behavior is self-limiting.
As a final note, I’d like to once again acknowledge that this analogy only goes so far. There are many great musicians who find tremendous unique self-expression by performing memorized pieces of music. However, understanding the essential concept of this analogy is something we all do well to understand.