Tag Archive: tantra

Found Exhortation (and the Women’s March on Washington)

I was volunteering today at William Penn House, which was providing a comfort station for marchers during the day, as well as being full to capacity with guests.

I was doing some work in the office when a woman who looked about my age came who was in town with a group of women from Long Island for the March.

She came in to William Penn House for a bathroom, not because of any connection to Quakers or the house. But while she was waiting in line for the bathroom she ended up in conversation with the executive director, who said that the board member volunteering downstairs was also from Long Island–perhaps she knew me. It turns out that we went to the same elementary school and lived near enough to each other that we rode the same school bus.

It is just one of the reminders I’ve had this weekend of how connected we are.

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Received Exhortation (Tantra?)

I’d seen a photo on-line, and discussion before and after a friend took to the street and the park to write exhortations, prayers, pleas.

I might not have seen it live had it not been directly on my way home later in the day. Though I had not gone looking for it, I recognized it when I saw it–the exhortation triggered by a planned display of bigotry, rage, ignorance and hate.

The exhortation to embrace diversity is a fundamental precept of the tantric yoga philosophy (my friend was making the exhortation based on different practices, but it hardly matters from what source one gets a true teaching). I always benefit from contemplating ever more deeply that the only way to experience unity/union is to ever more fully embrace diversity (while still, of course, practicingviveka–discrimination).

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Found Exhortation (Tantric?)

Some systems of yoga describe the body as consisting of five sheaths or koshas. The outermost sheath is the annamaya kosha, literally the food body. Food, here, is anything we ingest with the five senses. Including sights and sounds. The tantrikas think of themselves as rasikas–ones who taste the very essence of life, who through the practices refine their senses seeking to be able to discern the divine in all being. All sense perception becomes a fully creative, artistic endeavor.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Negation, Affirmation (and a new yard sign)

I went to a delightful brunch yesterday hosted by friend and neighbor K, who lives on the other side of the Hill.  A number of the guests turned out to live within a couple of blocks of me on the Northeast side.  In describing my house to those who lived farther from the Capitol than I (knowing my block was part of their usual walking path), I said, “mine is the one with the ‘War is not the answer‘” yard sign.  “Oh yes, I know which one it is,” was the uniform response.

K said she did not have the yard sign because she did not want a negative message in her front yard.  It served its purpose for a time, she claimed, but she wanted a more positive message.  I replied that if the sign said “peace is the answer” it would not have the same p0litical meaning.  People would just think, “yes, peace is nice, but whatever,” and keep walking.  We all agreed that was likely, but I left still thinking about the conversation.

One of the reasons K gave for wishing to turn the sign on its head, was she did not want something renunciatory, and she referenced the principle of “negation” in Buddhism.  I knew what she meant.  Advaita vedanta has a phrase, “neti, neti” or “not this, not this” which means extinguishment of the individual self and a life of the senses and mind to unite with the ultimate Spirit.  The Buddhist “nirvana”  literally means “void.”  I did not engage the conversation in such a way as to bring it to tantra lest I go too far in the direction of yoga geekiness, but the conversation certainly led me to think in that direction.  Tantra seeks to do exactly what K was seeking:  to turn the phrase, “not this, not this” into an embrace that will reveal truth and light by means of affirmation rather than negation.

Interestingly, though, I think a possible inspiration for K’s yard sign dilemma could come from from Buddhism:  metta meditation (note:  I have been offered this meditation in various settings and have practiced it many times, but it is not my regular meditation practice, so I hope I am not misinterpreting or mischaracterizing it here).  The theory behind metta meditation is to distance one from anger to cultivate calm.  In this creation of calm comes a general demeanor of loving kindness and compassion.  I personally become calmer by embracing and aligning with all my emotions, including grief and anger, but still find the languaging of the metta practice beautifully inspiring.

In that spirit, I suggest as a possible rewording of the yard sign that still serves the political message, the call to serve:   “may all beings be free from war.”

Or maybe FCNL should make a sign with the query:  “what do I do in my life to remove the causes of war?” Is that still a negative, if we are calling for positive actions to remove causes?

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