May 01, 2010

Spiritual Media

Recently a member of the Many Rivers community passed me some information about a new media company that has formed that has the ambition to build a media empire serving the QoL Market ("Quality of Life"). The organization, One Degree Media, was founded by a team of media saavy professionals with long standing interest in spiritual and self help subject matters. In fact, one of the founders of One Degree Media was among the original business organizers behind the EST movement. Reviewing some of their prospectus material (see turned out to be an occasion for my reflection on this sort of media outreach and the notion of a great awakening of human conscious that must be near at hand.
First off, One Degree Media is a business venture in the category I would call spiritual entertainment. I don't say that to dismiss the effort: even our small bookstore sells lots of books and CDs I would put in the category of spiritual entertainment. But it does mean that One Degree Media is about selling product and making a profit. In the end this means that the basis for discrimination around what constitutes good product will be how well it sells. "The Secret," the Eckhart Tolle franchise, Madonna's interpretation of qabalah, etc. will all be hot commodities in this new venture. But none of these hot properties necessarily brings people closer to taking the steps needed to engage in a genuine path of self-transformation. I don't doubt that under the mantle of One Degree Media, there might even be useful teaching materials produced, but like in other areas of life, such content will be the minority of the offering. In my experience, genuine spiritual work at the level that I find interesting is not a big seller. Will the content that One Degree Media produces offer better impressions to the World than say Fox News? No doubt. Will it usher in a new age of spiritual enlightenment? Not likely.
The notion that we are in the midst of a grand movement of spiritual awakening is an interesting one to me. If I examine the proposition in terms of what I see going on in the world, I can argue the opposite case just as convincingly. The romance with cultural exceptionalism seems characteristic of every age of human kind. It typically comes in the form of either the myth of the Great Awakening or the myth of the Imminent Apocalypse. It is not uncommon to see spiritual communities and teachers (teachers who are otherwise quite impressive and deep in their practice) held sway by these myths.
The Fourth Way tradition (whose ideas and practices are a strong influence on our Tayu practice) offers a somewhat different mythology well worth considering. In the Fourth Way mythology, we exist within a vast hierarchy of interchanging cosmic energies of varying densities. The creative outpouring of the Absolute is progressively stepped down via transformative processes to be utilized by Nature for various purposes of which we as humans may have little understanding. Life on earth including human beings exists to help bridge the gap in this ongoing exchange of forces between energies at the Solar level and energies at the earth and lunar levels. One of the purposes of this exchange is to "feed the moon" so that the moon can continue in its own evolutionary process of becoming a planet.
Humans and life in general fulfill this purpose regardless of whether we are conscious of it. When humans exist within a culture of enlightenment and people interact and live their lives with greater consciousness, the energies required by nature to feed the moon are more naturally available as a byproduct of our conscious emanations. When humans exist within an unconscious, ego-driven culture, the energies required by nature to feed the moon are extracted primarily at the time of death or through the release of negative emotion. In this latter case, nature utilizes overpopulation, short life spans, disease, wars, violence, etc. as the means to extract the required energies. So whereas it may be good from a conscious human perspective to cultivate a harmonious culture of enlightenment, nature will adapt and extract what it requires whether humans are conscious or not.
The conditions of human life today, this mythology continues, are such that nature tends to want to keep us asleep. Our social and psychological universes have evolved to pull our attention outwards onto the phenomenal realm. We remain hypnotized by the stories we tell ourselves and each other about the nature of our existence. And all of this suits the aims of nature just fine. Humans are much better managed when under hypnosis. But this state of affairs may not suit the aims of an individual human being.
According to this mythology, humans have another possibility available to us that is somewhat independent of the aims of nature. We have the possibility of evolving our Being to the Solar level and in this way transcending the laws and limitations to which we are subject in the ordinary hypnotized mode of human existence. In this sense we are experiments in conscious evolution. Whereas most forms of life exist under the laws of nature to serve the ends of energetic transformation on the Earth, humans have an additional possibility of evolving our level of Being to an entirely different octave. Terrestrial nature may be indifferent to this possibility, but higher beings from the Solar realm are available for help. There is no obligation for us to avail ourselves of this possibility, and there is no inevitable evolutionary movement toward global awakening (though at times it may appear that there are great rises and crashes in collective human consciousness). The path of individual transformation itself can be quite challenging and demanding, but it is available to each one of us.
I don't suggest you accept this Fourth Way mythology as a dogmatic truth. Rather, I offer it as an alternative lens through which to view such things as the so-called consciousness movement and the limits of what organizations such as One Degree Media may be able to achieve. In today's climate of romantic optimism about evolving humanity, this mythology is likely to seem like a "downer" (no Great Awakening). I have recently, however, been reading a series of Fourth Way commentaries by Maurice Nicoll written in England during the middle of World War Two. At that time, when the prospects for humanity looked exceptionally dim, this mythology must have seemed like a godsend (no Imminent Apocalypse). For me, this mythology serves as a sword of discrimination that helps to cut through the pretense of modern spiritual entertainment and return me to the foundational questions of our Work: Who am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing it?

June 04, 2009

Fly Me to the Moon

Recently in our Tayu workgroup we have been discussing the arising and functioning of strong mechanical sexual impluses and practical ways of working with such manifestations. In working personally with such phenomena, I have been struck by how easily the raw energetic yearning for contact can generate an unending series of plausible fantasies that if unchecked tend to seep into all my interactions with the particular object. There is no reasoning with these fantasies - much like the hydra of myth, if I attempt to cut off one head, then seven more grow back.
But the energy state behind the fantasies has a distinctive feeling sense. When that feeling is in front of me and I am aware of its presence, I have found that I can put it down as an act of conscious suffering. "Suffering" is the operative word, because when I have put the feeling down (as in choosing not to give it any attention in this particular moment), there is a corresponding feeling of loss. This sense of loss, however brief, has been for me painful as though I am giving up a promise or an ideal. And in the process of dealing with particularly powerful currents of this kind of energy, I have had to endure many such moments of sacrifice and loss.
Gurdjieff has often talked about becoming food for the Moon. In some of my recent studies of tarot, I have likewise come to associate this quality of seductive, sexually charged, fantasy making with the Moon card of the tarot deck. When our attention is given over to this stream of energy unchecked, we indeed become food for the Moon. Our vital energy can become sapped much like that of a junkie strung out on the promises proffered by a powerful narcotic - always promised, never delivered. Conscious suffering as a practice in this domain can neutralize the magnetic attraction of such streams of energy until such point that the energy gets redirected and the particular fantasies fade to the background.
Beyond the practice of conscious suffering, I have also found the Centrum of Gravity Question practice useful. These compelling sexually charged fantasies have for me had a character of yearning for completion by uniting with the particular object. But the so-called objects have always been my projections rather real people. As such, this yearning is in fact a powerful drive for completion by uniting with something in myself that I am not in touch with at the moment. Call it an emotional dislocation or a hole. The Centrum of Gravity Question to hold in conjunction with the arising of the yearning is something along the lines of, "What is it that I am missing in myself that would be completed by this object?" The key to this practice is not to generate a bunch of answers at a psychological level in response to the question, but rather to use the question to hold open the sense of emptiness or lacking underlying the yearning. By directing attention to the emptiness and being willing to be with that on an ongoing basis, we can indirectly effect a filling in of this hole.
The act of Conscious Suffering in which we willfully remove attention from the seductive fantasy making process induces a sense of loss felt most acutely in the Emotional Center. The Centrum of Gravity question engages the Intellectual Center to hold open the space surrounding this loss with a quality of perspective. The combination of the two practices can allow the naturally arising sexual energy of the Body Center to be realigned and reconnected with the functioning of the organism as a whole.

May 12, 2009

Teachings on Love (7): From Lust to Ecstatic Union

There is a way to enslave the arising of lust in the midst of physical intercourse to the service of a higher manifestation of love. To experience this phenomenon for more than an instant requires exceptional luck, or extraordinary good karma, or many years of unselfish service in practice. The practice approach is of course the most reliable path, for then one can recreate the conditions for its repetition as required.

To achieve this effect, lust must be subsumed within something much larger and greater than itself. Most people experience lust in one direction only: instead of subsuming lust within themselves, they find themselves subsumed within a compulsive craving that seems beyond management or escape. Higher manifestations of love are unattainable from such a place. Minnows cannot through imagination make themselves bigger than the sea. They must find extraordinary means to expand far past their usual limits.

The surest means for growth of human consciousness is the creation of the habit of pure Witnessing of all that is. Despite lust’s intensity, Witnessing is no less effective in transformation of it than with other phenomena.  As the Witnessing function of Self-Observation (and other meditative techniques) strengthens with practice over time, consciousness unfurls in a gentle, radiative expansion. If extended far enough, for long enough, then the tender embrace of love cultivated through Witnessing  inexorably loosens the white-knuckle grip of lust. But this work demands a dedication that few are able or willing to make. 

Those who persevere, and refuse to settle for false coin, surely experience the loosening of the grip of lust.  When the shift happens, the practitioner may redirect the tenacious energies of lust to further intensify the clear Witnessing of the inexpressible beauty of the beloved. The context thus created retains lust as an element during sex, but one that has been relegated to a more becoming status, because the practitioner can see every facet of the partner, and not simply a delusional fantasy generated by desire.  The beloved is perfect, without need of amendment or reform.  In that place of true Witnessing, no judgment clouds vision, and all that is, is as it should be. The practitioner sees both “virtues” and “flaws” of the beloved alike as exquisite adornments inherent in the being of the beloved.

In that eternal moment, lover and beloved partake of a mutual Presence enabled by grace. Thus ecstatic union shreds the dark of night.

But do not debase this ideal with the delusion that this achievement is cheap or easy, or that you personally have ever even approached it for more than a lucky instant. Resting in this place demands payment comprised of a purity of rigorous practice that only saints achieve—but who ever said you couldn’t aspire to holiness?  Be honest with yourself about your past and present capacities; but simultaneously recognize that the fervent yearning toward greatheartedness is the birthright of all. In sacrificing lust for love, serve well, and you will be well served.


April 12, 2009

Teachings on Love (6): No Struggle to Love

There can be no struggle to love. Love is anti-competition. Struggling pushes love farther away. In spiritual practice, we struggle to release the obstacles we place within ourselves to generate and experience love. But struggle has no purchase on love itself, for love gently enfolds all struggle, all agitation, all fear into itself. Love accepts and exalts all mistakes. It gives itself freely, and extends its calm assurance to fill the place of pain.

-Rob Schmidt

© 2009 Tayu Order, Inc.


Teachings on Love (5): Love as co-creation

Love is a co-creation. Love is co-operation in the literal sense: it is the space within which lover and beloved operate together. Co-creation of love rectifies the misunderstanding that separation is fundamental. Co-creation helps us see, beyond words, that union is more real than separation. Together we co-create every blessed thing! 

-Rob Schmidt

© 2009 Tayu Order, Inc.

April 07, 2009

Teachings on Love (4): Resistance to Love is Futile

Resistance to love is futile. Love always wins in the end. That said, the human social universe brims with the energy of resistance to love. People armor themselves against love across the full range of their experience, in their self-presentation in the most mundane conversations, up to and including the most intimate forms of mutual intercourse.

But what are we afraid of?  What is the nature of love?  Genuine love is infinitely variable and unique in each of its manifestations.  Love shows a different face to every blade of grass. It has no ultimate peak, except in full union with God.  Genuine love has no post-orgasmic let-down after its expression, although love can be experienced as manifesting as pulses or waves, as well as an inexorable radiation.  That’s why resistance to love is futile, because love keeps moving. Love is like the water in a dam that naturally seeks out even the slightest flaw in the obstacle that opposes it.  Wherever  there’s a chink in the armor of resistance, eventually love will find and exploit that weakness, because love never stops.  All resistance to love has such flaws.

Even death does not stop love.  My mother and my teacher have both been dead for more than a decade, yet the love I share with each of them still flowers abundantly in my heart.  Amazingly, that love feeds me as much, if not more now than when these two beloveds still walked the garden path in their bodies. Self-delusion, your mind may mutter.  But try and see if it doesn’t work that way for you too, by putting your resistance to love aside.  Open your heart without qualification and see what happens.  Build a chamber in your heart where the commotions of the mind do not penetrate, and test the quality of love.

-Rob Schmidt

© 2009 Tayu Order, Inc.

Teachings on Love (3): Giving Love, & Lust

Because love is both giving and receiving, those who seek only to receive find the well of love runs dry. If only they could see that! But so many mistake the nature of love as blindly one-sided gratification: “Look at me, look at me! Love me NOW, give me what I want NOW or I’ll be really mad!” Love supplies our essential needs with abundance, but is a miser toward desires. A child needs love and attention, but an adult needs to both give and receive love and attention.  Without flow in both directions, love doesn’t have a chance.


Attraction between bodies is natural, and is neither good nor bad. When attraction becomes entwined with ego/android habit energies, we can call that lust. Lust too is neither good nor bad. But when sexual energies are captured by the ego/android, then those energies are diverted from manifesting as love.

-Rob Schmidt

© 2009 Tayu Order, Inc.