Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Four Goals of Life, aka the Purusathas

We will all die. Therefore, the purpose of life is to cease all this struggle, to go outside under the blue or cloudy or dark sky, and vanishing into the light itself or sun or star, vanish into enjoyment of the pleasure of the senses and the sense of mind. Death is infinite: enjoy today as if it is your last day.

We will be dead forever. Therefore, practice morality as if each act were judgement for forever. Rehearse each day for forever. If there is no afterlife, then at least you lived a decent live for the insignificant time you existed. Time is infinite: act wisely today as if it is you last act.

Space is infinitely abundant. Therefore, seek to own and possess as much space as possible with all your effort, knowing that gain, profit, spending and getting are a constant joy and teacher of wise frugality for as long as you live. Space is infinite: get rich today as if it is your last provision for the future.

The field of consciousness is unfathomably profound. Therefore, seek to know the source of consciousness and thereby become liberated from bondage to death, time, space and individuality. Consciousness is infinite; seek liberation in consciousness only.


There are 4 classical Indian life-goals, called the purusarthas:

Moksha (liberation)
Dharma (morality)
Kama (desire)
Artha (wealth)


Seeking desire, die exhausted.

Seeking living space, die rich and powerful.

Seeking decency, die satisfied.

Seeking to be enlightened, Go Beyond ego, existence and life, to the All, illuminated by the Light of the Self.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Acting Out On Negative Urges

"Acting out" is jargon for bad behavior. The phrase "acting out" implies that it is OK to have negative thoughts and urges, just so long as one does not act out on them destructively. The phrase "acting out" is commonplace in personal development circles, where such urges are welcomed as stimuli for character growth.

Today I came across a fascinating concept that makes the idea of acting out more practical. Here it is:

We don't have to act on negative urges the moment we become not willing to pay the price for acting on such feelings.

In other words, the solution to negative urges is to expand awareness of the cost of acting on them until one no longer wishes to act. Freedom comes from asking "What are the costs of my acting out?"

The root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between acting out of negativity and exercising restraint in service to growth, is that negative urges produces backwardness because they do such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, and to worship.

The ultimate cost of acting out on negative urges is that it undermines the dignity and integrity of whole person. Such a cost is never worthwhile.

Tell yourself:

This defect of character will fall. It cannot withstand the exercise of faith, truth, and freedom.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

[Masturbation, Tantra and Self-love, by Margo Woods]

This article is obscure but I think important and deserving a wider audience

[Bruce's comment: It is okay to be sexual. Sexual energy is not only beautiful and valuable, but it's also a way to experience God, or Tao. This book provides an extremely effective to experience this - to make love to oneself, without shame. It is the key to healthy society and healthy relationships between men and women. It is an alchemy that is needed to open the heart and creates the love: not only the self love, but the love of any kinds.

If you do not have the open heart nor the willingness to experiment; or if you are irritated by the idea of masturbation, please simply skip this page and go back to the previous level. But I promise you that if you dare to experiment following this book, the return will be miracle.]

"Some Statistics according to Kinsey's research in his book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" (Alfred Kinsey, 1948), a true eye opener:- 35% of all American males had sexual relationships with other males at some point in their live; 65% of all females masturbate - and more frequently, as they get older; 94% of all males had masturbated at some time in their lives, and that the other 6% was obviously Baptist ministers who lied to save their necks; Even at age fifty, over half of the males are all masturbating during the course of a single week; Some respondents whacked off twenty-three times a week in early adolescence; and even at age fifty, a few hardy souls were putting in two dozen shots a month. "

"You cannot truly experience love without having experienced self love."

"We all have our favorite masturbation stories, and favorite almost-got-caught stories. The wonderful thing about masturbation stories is that they give us full range to our fantasy for. "

"I cannot spot the difference between the act of intercourse and the act of masturbation, except for the delicious presence of another person."

"If this is nothing else to be learned from this book, it is that self love - without shame, with good humor, with a willingness to experiment - is the key to a healthy society and healthy relationships between men and women."

"Love for the self can be translated into a means of achieving energy release, spiritual growth, and a method of plumbing new artistry in thinking, feeling, writing, and growing. It's an alchemy that is needed to open the heart and creates the love: self love or any other kind."

"First, working with the sexual energy in this way helps the inner child to grow up and to have more strength to break the parent-induced patterns. It also gives him/her a sense of confidence, centering, and personal identity which are necessary to become a whole person. Secondly, my experience with opening the sexual energy in myself and others is that it is not a handicap in relating to other people, but rather an asset. I have become more loving and more powerful and more attractive. I have not been rejected on account of my heightened sexuality, nor am I crazed or horny all the time."

"If you delay your orgasm and raise the energy up in your body, you will eventually reach a level of energy at which orgasm does not bring you down. And in the meantime you will benefit from the effects of that energy flowing through your body whether you have orgasms at the end of your sessions or not."

"The Sexual Revolution has begun. Everyone, or almost everyone, know it's OK to be sexual. Human beings are sexual and passionate by nature, and it is not difficult to remove the negative conditioning and allow the natural human being to replace the conditioned one."

"Sexual energy is not only beautiful and valuable, but a way to experience God.

"To make love to myself, to masturbate, and to stop at the point just before orgasm, put my attention in my heart, and let the energy go up to my heart. The exact point to stop is the point where I know that one more stroke will make me come. "Just take your hand away, and let the energy go up to the heart." After each rush of energy to the heart I was to resume masturbating, repeating the cycle, until there seemed to be no more energy, or I felt like stopping. There was no prohibition against orgasm, only the requirement to delay it, letting the energy go to the heart first. Delaying my orgasms in this manner, I found, made them more intense."

"Exercise every day and makes it a part of my life. The simple exercise has proven to be a method of internal alchemy, a method by which I have begun to make changes in my psycho-physical system and thus changes in my states of consciousness."

The heart-opening experience: What I mean by that is, the experience of being in love but without another person to be love with, "Pure Love." In other words, I was in love with everyone and everything, felt totally at peace and physically beautiful. I was loving and clear and loved. I became Love Itself. My heart was clearly opening bit by bit. I became more loving, and more able to express love to others, more patient, more open, and less afraid of other people or their disapproval. I began to see my heart as a psychic organ as well as a physical one. I could put my attention in my heart when talking to a friend or client and know, in some inexplicable way, what they needed from me and how to give it to them."

"I became more magnetic and more satisfied with the ease and pleasure of my sexual experiences. It seems that the most important ingredient of sexuality if that personal magnetism, that magnetic attraction. With it, sex is easy. Without it, sex becomes a hassle and a chore. The masturbation exercise, without a doubt, increases one's personal magnetism. I also began to see that my vitality, my aliveness, and my enthusiasm were increasing noticably. Friends remarked how wonderful I looked, how alive I was. I began to learn that I could direct the energy to any part of my body, not only my heart, and began using it for healing, directing it to any place in my body that wasn't feeling right."

"Work with the heart center first. For one thing, you will probably not be able to generate enough energy to make it all the way to the head at first, but the most important thing is that the heart is a great safety valve. If the heart is open, even a little, there is no tendency to heart oneself or others. Love wishes everyone well."

"The problem that I see with many people who are taking this spiritual path is that they try to work on the upper centers before they work with the body and the heart. Work on your heart first. When you start to feel yourself loving the people in the supermarket and crying at parades you will probably be ready to work on the other centers. One of the most interesting aspects of this process has been that I have developed an unshakeable sense of identity and Oness about ourselves. This is the self love which is talked about so much in books and workshops these days. Have you ever asked, "How?" when the workshop leader said that it is important to love yourself?"

"The way of using the sexual energy produces self love more intensely than any other exercise I have ever tried. **One learns to love oneself by making love to oneself. I want to give you enough in this book that you can duplicate all of the experiences of myself and my students and learn for yourself how simple and easy and joyful sex can be. Love your body. Realize that what you don't like is not only conditioned by a Play-boy/Playgirl image of what is beautiful, but is one of the many ways you keep your body frozen and incapable of transmitting sexual energy. In so far as you don't like your body, you freeze your sexual energy. Realize also that you can change your body if you want to. Take a long baths, relaxing, and washing yourself tenderly with your bare hands. Give extra attention to the parts of your body you don't like, massaging them gently and lovingly."

"As for the masturbation exercise, the only thing to remember is that it is extremely simple - raising the body's sexual energy almost to the point of orgasm, and instead of letting the energy go out into the orgasm, allow it to come up in the body, up to the heart. It happens that, at the point just before orgasm, there is a channel open in the body, nad if you rest at that point and put your attention in your heart, the energy which has been generated will flow naturally upwards toward the heart. You don't have to do anything; it just happens. Don't worry about what it feels like, or if it is happening, just do it! Begin and adventure with yourself to see what your sexual energy is all about. Rediscover the physical system you were trained to ignore. "

"If you have difficulty talking yourself into a masturbation session, or in making love to yourself regularly, remember that you are conditioned away from that activity. Take the position that masturbation is now your meditation."

"Start your session by touching and loving yourself with your hands or soft fabrics all over your body before you go for your genitals and other erotic zones. You may have an orgasm at the end of a session if you like, or you may find that you come by accident, and that will probably end your session for you. Men particularly will need to stop each round far short of orgasm till they learn what the point of no return is for them."

"The idea that a man must have orgasm or risk physical pain is erroneous. It certainly does not happens to men who are moving the energy upwards. The biggest problem you will have with this exercise is not how to do it, because it is extremely simple, but your own training against masturbation."

"The pleasure you experience will do more to work against your negative conditioning about your body and your sexuality than anything else you can do or think."

"I suggest you have a session with yourself every day, as a meditation, for three months, and see what the results are for yourself."

"It is necessary to include a word about sexual fantasies. I can't imagine making love to myself without fantasies. They seem to create the experience for me. I suspect that much of the problem and lack of enjoyment people have with masturbation, in addition to their belief that is wrong, is that they do not use their fantasies. All of us have a potentially rich fantasy life. So go on with your fantasies. They won't hurt you - not even the weird ones."

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Froglessness, a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh


The first fruition of the practice

is the attainment of froglessness.

When a frog is put

on the center of the plate,

she will jump out of the plate

after just a few seconds.

If you put the frog back again

on the center of the plate,

she will again jump out.

You have so many plans.

There is something you want to become.

Therefore you always want to make a leap,

a leap forward.

It is difficult

to keep the frog still

on the center of the plate.

You and I

both have Buddha Nature in us.

This is encouraging,

but you and I

Both have Frog Nature in us.

That is why

the first attainment

of the practice –

froglessness is its name.

Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Rudolf Steiner, thought gnosis, will gnosis, and feeling gnosis.

Rudolf Steiner's six exercises effect thought (1), will (2), and feeling (3), then infuse positive thought into feeling towards equanimity (4), positive thought into will towards full open-mindedness (5), and unify will and thought with feeling in a positive evolutionary way (6).

I am reading Roy Wilkinson's superb introduction to anthroposophy online, and it stimulating excitement and a sense of energy in me to read about how the inner life of the soul functions.

However, I find the six exercises a little hard to apply easily. So here are my notes on the first two exercises, informed by my existing understanding of gnostic meditation:

Thought gnosis.

Build a mental picture of an entire field of accurate facts, holding them all in mind, then one by one eliminate the facts while retaining the entire picture. When the picture is eliminated completely let go completely into voidness of thought, and rest for a while until thought upsurges again.

It it best to read a short chapter or paragraph of a much loved spiritual teacher and create a mind map of their words to begin. Just assemble all the understandings they give, with no interpolations of your own ideas. Then eliminate one idea after another until only the energy field of the ideas remains.

I suggest starting with a paragraph of the Upanishads, a chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, or the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of the biblical book of Matthew.

Will gnosis.

Build up a field of interconnected intentions, values, and associated emotionalised ideas, such as a goals list, a prcoess plan, or a mind map of your intended actions. Feel the sense of motivation, then as you release each portion of the intentions, feel the sense of motivation lessen and diminish until you have let go of all willing and experience voidness of intention. Observe this void and notice if and when will re-arises of itself.

Feelings gnosis.

Take a non-verbal piece of music which seems full of feeling to you. Listen to it several times until it is by memory. Replay it mentally in full. Then replay it backwards. Then simply eliminate a piece of the music and note the feeling quality of the music that remains. Then eliminate piece by piece the entire composition until one is left with silent feeling alone.


You can expect these exercises to great augment thought, will and feelings over time. Patience and persistence is key.

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Macrocosm and Microcosm

There are two paths, the path of ecstacy and the path of the mystic. The ecstatic might be said to be lunar and thus learn lessons (saturn) in a haphazard nonlinear manner. The mystic may be said to be solar, that is, fixed in dedication, and thus the saturnian impacts are pure and clear.

The solar mystic feels more keenly the true nature of suffering as his own karma. The lunar ecstatic experiences rapture as release from the ego, and a loss of distinct self as well as distinction between true and false, fact and fancy.

The ecstatic in ecstacy penetrates his astral body tightly and feels himself to become a lunar mirror, illuminated with reflections of pure and indistinct consciousness. Like a sleeping person he forgets his ego in the feeling body of the astral. Like a sleeping person - since in sleep a man forgets both ego and astral body - he is disadvantaged in that he cannot distinguish true from false whilst in the state of rapture.

The microcosm is the objective real world of sustances and worldly meanings as experienced by the etheric body and the physical body. It can be languaged as earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, but as Plato points out in the Timaeus, these are just processes of one single substance in constant flow. In this sense it is the archetypal lunar sense of actuality, of felt experience as quality in and of itself.

The macrocosm is the objective energetic kosmos of integral structure, pattern, and flow: ego and astral body engage it. The ecstatic penetrates and grips the astral and the ego is made rarified; the mystic penetrates the etheric and the ego is made dense. Thus one might see the spheres of Geburah and Chesed exemplified. Or one might see Ken Wilber's clarifying pictures as the solar imperative, making sense of the universe.

To summarize: in expanding into the Macrocosm, the ecstatic's Ego becomes evanescent or rarified, whereas in shrinking into the Microcosm, the mystic's Ego becomes concentrated or densified through impacts with reality.

The hermetic four cherubim are the sins of omission. The eagle is omissions of thought, the lion omissions of feeling, and the bull omissions of will. Finally at the boundary of the microcosm itself stands the human, omissions of spirit, who is the Lesser Guardian of the Threshold.

One might visualise the pentagram with the accretions of past actions, errors of omission and comission, which slow down the flow of energy through the corners and back out into the macrocosm. The angles of the pentagram symbolise the sensory-nervous-hormonal reality of the bodymind, which can only generally focus on about five inputs at once. At one focuses attention on an input to the bodymind, it holds back the free flow of invisible spiritual energy and creates or forms an organ.

The senses hold back the flows which created them, forming the eye from light. The body holds back the flow which created it, creating matter from energy. The microcosm is the holding pattern of the macrocosm which created it, creating the individualised consciousness of the microcosm, the ego-I.

But it operates in reverse too. What the eye holds back from light effects in turn the source of light. Thus what I as microcosm hold back from freely flowing is what the macrocosmic spirits also hold back. The spiritual realm responds directly to our restraint from natural action. This concurs with the Kaballistic teaching, and also wtih the 12 step teaching of steps 6 and 7 of "doing what you don't want to do, and not doing what you do want to do."

Here is the process: through discernment, one notes a tendency to lie, or to steal, or to hate a certain kind of person. So when the tendency arises, instead of acting out of the tendency, one surrenders the urge and the satisfaction associated with the urge to the spiritual urge, the macrocosmic field. You turn it over to God. Thus the lower nature of the microcosm is denied free action, and the higher nature of the macrocosm is stimulated to act on our behalf. Through perseverance in practice the microcosm becomes transformed to more accurately carry the light of the macrocosm. All this arises through the simple process of surrendering self-centered actions, thoughts and feelings to a higher power.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Six Exercises for Basic Esoteric Development of Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner gave six exercises which are fundamental to his meditative work.

No. 1 - The Control of Thought

The first exercise has to do with the control of thinking. It is designed to keep our minds from wandering, to focus them, in order to strengthen our meditative work. There are several versions of this exercise. Here is one version:

Select a simple object - a pin, a button, a pencil. Try to think about it exclusively for five minutes. You may think about the way the object is manufactured, how it is used, what its history is. Try to be logical and realistic in your thinking. This exercise is best if practiced faithfully every day. You may use the same object every day or a new object each day, as you choose.

No. 2 - The Control of Will

Choose a simple action to perform each day at a time you select. It should be something you do not ordinarily do; it can even be a little odd. Then make it a duty to perform this action at that time each day. Rudolf Steiner gives the example of watering a flower each day at a certain time. As you progress, additional tasks can be added at other times.

This exercise is as hard as it is simple and takes a very strong intention to complete. To start you might think of it as you think of a dentist's appointment - you do not want to be late. It can be helpful to mark your success or failure on the calendar each day. If you completely forget at the time, but remember later, do it then and try to do better the next day.

No. 3 - Equanimity

The third exercise is the development of balance between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the heights of pleasure and the depths of despair. Strive for a balanced mood. An attempt should be made not to become immoderately angry or annoyed, not to become anxious or fearful, not to become disconcerted, nor to be overcome by joy or sorrow. Rather should your natural feelings be permitted to be quietly felt. Try to maintain your composure. This leads to an inner tranquillity and purer feelings of the soul.

No. 4

This exercise is the development of a positive attitude to life. Attempt to seek for the good, praiseworthy, and beautiful in all beings, all experiences and all things. Soon you will begin to notice the hidden good and beautiful that lies concealed in all things. This is connected with learning not to criticize everything. You can ask how something came to be or to act the way it is. One way to overcome the tendency to criticize is to learn to 'characterize' instead.

No. 5

For this exercise, make the effort to confront every new experience with complete open-mindedness. The habit of saying, "I never heard that" or "I never saw that before" should be overcome. The possibility of something completely new coming into the world must be left open, even if it contradicts allyour previous knowledge and experience.

No. 6

If you have been trying the earlier exercises of thinking, will, equilibrium, positivity and tolerance, you are now ready to try them together two or three at a time, in varying combinations until they become natural and harmonious.

For more information see Guidance in Esoteric Training, by Rudolf Steiner:

Or click on the title of the this blog entry to go to the full list of basic Steiner books.

TheCenter and circumference of a sphere in Steiner.

"In order to understand the center point of a sphere, you must understand the circumference."

This sentence adapted from Rudolf Steiner evokes the whole symbol of pisces excellently, and also reminds me of da Vinci's strategy of seeking the boundaries and limits of a field in order to understand its essence. I am also reminded of the description in Timaeus of the body of the cosmos as sphere - what remains in the center of the Platonic cosmos but that which is beyond it, the Creator itself! This saying applies just as excellently to the ten kaballistic spheres or sephirot.

The primacy of subjective experience in the process of coming to understand cannot be overestimated. Perhaps, even, such a subjective experience of the unity of center and circumference in a given sphere of activity is the sole aspect of wisdom that can last forever.
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