The Teachings of Don Carlos

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don carlos

The titular ‘Don Carlos’ refers to Carlos Castaneda. But of course, the ‘Don’ is really a reference to Don Juan Matus, who initiated Castaneda into the Toltec tradition of Shamanism. In his book, The teachings of Don Carlos, Victor Sanchez aims to articulate Castaneda’s many genre-defining works into more clearly defined practices. It is clear that Sanchez too, has authentically explored shamanism as a spiritual lineage. And while he definitely succeeds in bringing down Castaneda’s works into useful and more clearly articulated practices, much of the spirit of Shamanism, which was so vividly communicated in Castaneda’s work, is missing here. Sanchez’s book is therefore useful […]

Shambhala – the Sacred Path of the Warrior

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shambhala

Like much of Chogyam Trungpa’s writing, this little book is somewhat deceptive. The language is so simple. But soon the attentive reader realises that she is being spun into a many-layered world of vast depths. Shambhala – the Sacred Path of the Warrior is one of two Trungpa books released by Shambhala meant to contain ‘secular’ teachings. Of course, the Lama remains rooted in his Buddhist lineage. But this little volume, being part of Trungpa’s Shambhala vision, was delivered in the spirit of providing everyday teachings to westerners, unadorned by the ‘other-worldliness’ of traditional Buddhist teachings. As the name suggests, these teachings tap authentically and […]

Spiritual materialism

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‘The mind can wind up embroiled in very unhealthy states of mind. And easily get caught up in what might be most appropriately described as delusion. Although we would not see it that way. … [We easily] zone along on auto-pilot most of our lives. Meanwhile thinking, “Oh, yeah, we know what’s happening. We know who we are and where we’re going.” … How much do we actually know with certainty, who we are? … All of this are just obsessions around self-centeredness. … From that point of view, it is not like meditation is saying, “you should know who you are.” It is much […]

Alchemical meditation

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Alchemical meditation

‘Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss or tranquility, nor is it attempting to become a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes. We provide space through the simple discipline of doing nothing.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from The Myth of Freedom Meditation is something we do To change our lives we have to change what we do and how we live. We soon become saturated by the cultures into which we were born. This is true whether we […]

The mystery of meditation

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mystery of meditation

‘Not much to offer you – just a lotus flower floating In a small jar of water.’ – Ryokan, from One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens The paradox of letting go of ‘recipes’ Poetry comes closest to communicate what happens in meditation. The events and landscapes of the soul are as vast and limitless as the galaxies out there. ‘As above so below.’π At moments, perhaps, meditation brings us to truly ‘see’ Ryokan’s lotus flower in the small jar of water. And ‘something happens’. It is as if a vortex opens up and we feel the most incredible […]

Longing from a vanishing world

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the message

‘We must allow ourselves to be disappointed, which means the surrendering of me-ness, my achievement. We would like to watch ourselves attain enlightenment … with miracles and earthquakes occurring and gods and angels singing and so forth. This never happens. The attainment of enlightenment from ego’s point of view is extreme death. It is the ultimate and final disappointment. Treading the spiritual path is painful. It is a constant unmasking, peeling off of layer after layer of masks.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from The Myth of Freedom Blessed evening It was a beautiful autumn evening. We were sitting outside on the patio under the trees in […]

Love is naturally transgressive

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love is transgressive

‘When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. … For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. … But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.’ – Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet Taboo Those who are absorbed by the values and culture of their society often experience others who follow their […]

Consensus culture

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Consensus culture

‘Something in the psyche wants to subvert whatever is there, turn it under and upside down, examine it from the bottom, find some odd detail that will capsize the accepted view, … the cultural assumptions by which we live but which we do not see clearly. Still a romantic at heart, I want nothing less than to change the culture, to make it a psychological, soul-serving culture. But changing culture can be done in small ways, just as small snapshots may be just as compelling and significant as billboard-size blow-ups.’ – Lyn Cowan, from Tracking the White Rabbit Consensus culture is a culture of rules […]

Crafting a sense of soul

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soul-making

‘[P]sychic reality can only be grasped through non-rational awareness … [by] the fool (in the positive sense) … who does not follow a straight path, who surrenders the security of a rational, one-sided attitude … [whose] spontaneity is not destroyed by the tension between opposites, and so can follow every path, without being determined by reason or collective norms.’ – Françoise O’Kane, from Sacred Chaos Spirituality and transcendence Most of the various schools or centres of spiritual and metaphysical teachings breed cultures of goal-directedness, of achievement, of levels of advancement and hierarchies, of progress and of linear formulas for how we should change or be […]

The discipline of openness

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The discipline of the path

‘It takes tremendous effort to work one’s way through the difficulties of the path and actually get into the situations of life thoroughly and properly.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism Openness When we hear the word ‘discipline’ we usually understand it to mean forcing ourselves into doing things against our will and our instinct. We feel we have to hold our breath lest we slip up or make a mistake, until we get to that goal the discipline is supposed to help us achieve. But in fact, this kind of discipline is only an obstruction to cultivating soul and being on the […]