Speaking of reading and knowledge, do we really know the full nature of even the first letter of the alphabet?
Tantric adepts experience t...moreSpeaking of reading and knowledge, do we really know the full nature of even the first letter of the alphabet?
Tantric adepts experience the movement through which the Word (Vac) evolves from an unconditioned, supreme state (as experienced in meditation) down to the gross sound vibration as perceived in this world and which thereby brings about the gradual emergence of the cosmos.
Each of the Sanskrit phonemes (varnas) is really a living entity, a different movement in the gradual condensation and solidification of the pure energy of Vac, Goddess of Speech, and will bring successively into existence each of the thirty-six ontic levels, the tattvas, of which the entire manifestation consists.
A is the totality of the limitating power not submitted to maya, beyond hearing, uncreated, wondering at its own essence: that of the waveless sea of consciousness resting in the great light of the Absolute. It spreads from the first to the last stage of emanation, being the condition of the fullness of the supreme "I" in its total awareness of the universe, as produced by the self-effulgent spreading out of the Energy.
Although on one level a phoneme, ontologically, A corresponds to a level of the Word too elevated to be considered in terms of ordinary phonemes. It stands at the level of spontaneous sound, the phonic aspect of the supreme reality, which is produced without any "striking," whether of a percussion or from the contact of the respiratory breath with the organs of phonation, and so forth. It is even beyond the "unstruck" sound. It is the root thereof, the initial stir of sound-vibration beyond struck and unstruck sound. No one utters it, no one can possibly hold it in check. It is self-uttered, and dwells within the heart of all sentient beings.
A is all pervading. Being pure energy of consciousness, on the transcendent plane of the Word, it is no doubt beyond all manifestation. Yet, it can be philosophically considered as twofold: first as beyond the universe, and in this case its being known as avarna should be understood in the sense of "non-phoneme," and second, as the source of the energy, the origin of all phonemes, the starting point of manifestation, which is then within it in seed form, A being within the manifestation of the universe, as its essence, its background.
According to the great Kashmiri Tantric saint, Abhinavagupta, "The power of absolute freedom or autonomy is called A. In it the objectivity has not yet begun to develop and it is therefore essentially a reflective awareness whose inner nature is that of a pure interiorized mass of consciousness (antarghanasamvid). It is the Self. Having realized the nature of A, the unbounded consciousness of one's own Self, one has thereby fulfilled the prerequisite for knowing other things.
If the Knower is not established, the process of Knowing and the Known are without a basis. The entire edifice of knowledge is without a foundation. Because, who is the Knower? Some sensations given through the senses? Some fleeting stream of thoughts? Some ever-changing perceptions of objects? From the standpoint of consciousness, these are too pitifully transient to warrant the status of Knower.
Every volume in the SUNY Series in the Shaiva Traditions of Kashmir is a gem.(less)
Frangipani is Viate's second offering in her Tahitian trilogy. Although the first-person narrative seems to float along on the surface quite innocentl...moreFrangipani is Viate's second offering in her Tahitian trilogy. Although the first-person narrative seems to float along on the surface quite innocently, Vaite uses her main character Matarena's seeming simplicity as a guileless mirror with which to reflect the effect of colonization on the native Tahitian psyche. The various Tahitians populating the novel suffer a loss of identity in which they are neither really Tahitian nor assimilated to French ways.
Understanding Woman is Matarena's endearing way of saying The Virgin Mary. When Matarena has really got the blues, she sits in the church and pours out her troubles to that omni-compassionate being. The Virgin was also one of the most powerful weapons Europeans used to conquer and "civilize" the Tahitians, as well as most of the South Pacific, which they then turned around and used as testing grounds for their atomic weapons. However, by all accounts, the Tahitians at first European contact were a healthier, happier and prouder lot than they have become under European domination.
In Frangipani Matarena transcends her identity crisis by finding her voice and becoming transformed into a form of Understanding Woman. She becomes a being who wisely comes to an understanding of the French and of the Tahitians.
The citizens of the Pacific atolls have lived in relative harmony with their very fragile and resources-limited natural environment for 2,000 years. They were aware of the dangers of over-population and that the meagre resources they owned needed to be preserved, for their very survival. Thus, they have thrived for two millenia in a situation in which the entire human population now finds itself. It is we--the "civilized ones" who should learn from the South Seas Islanders while we can. After all, some island nations are slated, under current projections, to soon disappear under the waves. (less)
"I have never once in my life seen a fanatic with a sense of humor, nor have I ever seen a person with a sense of humor become a fanatic,...morepages 88-99:
"I have never once in my life seen a fanatic with a sense of humor, nor have I ever seen a person with a sense of humor become a fanatic, unless he or she has lost that sense of humor. Fanatics are often sarcastic. Some of them have a very pointed sense of sarcasm, but no humor. Humor contains the ability to laugh at ourselves. Humor is relativism, humor is the ability to see yourself as others may see you, humor is the capacity to realize that no matter how righteous you are and how terribly wronged you have been, there is a certain side to life that is always a bit funny. The more right you are, the funnier you become."
Being the account of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, treasurer of a Spanish expedition to the New World who, shipwrecked in Florida, made his way west, fo...moreBeing the account of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, treasurer of a Spanish expedition to the New World who, shipwrecked in Florida, made his way west, following the setting sun, went native, became a healer, and finally reunited with (and the irony is is the last word) Christians.
When I was a kid, any truly respectable stretch of coast in Santa Barbara, any reputable expanse of sand with a good name and a suitably high opinion...moreWhen I was a kid, any truly respectable stretch of coast in Santa Barbara, any reputable expanse of sand with a good name and a suitably high opinion of itself, began to attract its own elite coterie of surf bums. Suddenly the waters off points such as Miramar, reefs such as Hammond’s, coves such as Campus, and river mouths such as Rincon found themselves a-bob with blond-haired boys astride surfboards, awaiting waves. At one secluded beach, where vast lawns and orchards aflutter with butterflies basked beside the sea, and where the waves swelled and peeled translucently over the summer sandbars, a metaphysically inclined cult of surf bums emerged. The core members of our tribe were, beside myself: Whooper, The Goose, Modoc, Chaddy, The Hog, The Ace, Stein, and The Ravin’ Baby Ese Animal Gargantua Cabron. We were brought together by a couple of simple facts. First, my big brother, The Ace, owned a woodie that ran well enough to get us all to the beach. But more importantly, as we sat eating lunch at La Colina Junior High, we shared one deep secret—isolated by steep cliffs, miles of sand, and a guarded gate that opened only to members lay one of the most lyrical beach-breaks on the entire coast—Hope Ranch Beach.
Every summer a new new covey of nymphs would lie thin and thoroughbred atop their beach towels on a summer’s morn, absorbed in their solar devotions, transistors tinkling, lifeguard slouched sleeping atop his white wooden tower, four or five long surfboards top-down on the wet sand, their owners stretched out on the warm dunes, lulled by the lapping of little wavelets, swarms of flies buzzing lazily above heaps of beached seaweed, seagulls screeching and pecking at the remains of a watermelon rind, College Point hazy off to the north, Woff Woff Point dimly to the south, and, shining silver in the haze—indolent, indifferent, and self-contained—the great Pacific, the majestic Pacific, the wide stretching, everflowing, endlessly rolling Pacific.
The surf was not always flat. On mornings of windswells, the haze usually loafing over the summer shoreline would ghost away, the sky would blue, and above the roaring surf the warm air would tingle with salt spray. The covey of nymphs would come to life, plunging through the waves while straining to keep bikinis in place; the lifeguard would wake up; and a few of us surfers would be out in the water, spread along a mile or so of sun-drenched beach. From time to time one of us would take off on a surging swell of blue water, drop to the bottom of the wave, lean into a turn, and then squat on his board as a bellowing, hollow vortex of Pacific curled over him. A day later the beach would be dead again, the nymphs, surfers, lifeguard, and kelp flies somnolent, and the Pacific—now once again slumbering behind ever-shifting veils of mist—would resume its long silvery daydream.
The aforementioned Woff Woff Point got its name because Hope Ranch is a private beach. However, those of us addicted to its waves had located places we could sneak in. One of these places was through the magnificant, lush Bryce Estate. To deter such intrusions, the elderly inhabitants of the Bryce mansion had guard dogs that we had to outwit as we snuck, guerrilla style, through the fifty-two acres of their foliage, known formally as Forestel.
The Bryce's library consisted of some 3,000 rare volumes, including the original handwritten version of Mark Twain's "The Jumping Frog of Calavaras County." Far from the mansion, in a shady grove of pines overlooking the Pacific, was a play house as large as a Japanese tea house. On days of flat surf, we would sometimes loll about in hidden nooks of the estate, especially in the little house. It was in that children's play house that I discovered something that changed my life completely.
For, as a result, I undertook a journey to a faraway atoll in the South Pacific. When I returned home from that mere speck of coral lost in the vast blue expanses of the balmy southern latitudes all I could think of was to build a sailboat so that I could return. And so I began. When the work was completed, I set forth on many incredible voyages. I must admit at this point in my narrative, however, my very first voyage, to that tiny atoll, had been through the pages of Charles Nordhoff's tale, Pearl Lagoon. I had discovered it on the shelves of the play house. So compelling was Nordhoff's narrative, that it really was not reading, it was actual travel and I was transported to in my spiritual body to that atoll and dwelt there for years.
Sixteenth-century Spanish mystic San Juan de La Cruz wrote extensively of the Dark Night of the Soul, of the spiritual obscurity that can precede awak...moreSixteenth-century Spanish mystic San Juan de La Cruz wrote extensively of the Dark Night of the Soul, of the spiritual obscurity that can precede awakening in the dawn, enfolded in the embrace of the Beloved. For this reason, he came to be known as The Spiritual Doctor. He diagnosed and prescribed remedies for so many situations that can deter seekers from spiritual life.
In the Tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, darkness is no impediment to spiritual awakening. Just as Wordsworth proclaimed that poetry is emotion recollected in tranquility, the great Kashmir Shaivist Abhinavagupta described a deep inner peace that underlies every emotion, and thus every experience. He called this 'shanta rasa,' or the essential peacefulness at the core of every emotion, whether experienced in drama, in poetry, in music, or in life.
It is no wonder then, that in Kashmir Shaivism, contemplation of the ebony darkness of a moonless monsoon night is one of the many ways of transcending the world.
Immersed in this unflinching Tantric aptitude for embracing any and every human emotion, which all are but thin veils simultaneously concealing and revealing spiritual essense, Sally Kempton, a seasoned voyager in these realms, takes on any and every obstacle to meditation that can arise, revealing each as a divinely given invitation to discover what beckons just beyond.
She illumines these matters with throroughness, authenticity, authority, and love.
For those fascinated by intellectual culture snd the pretentiousness of many its trends, these wry portraits rival Milosz's dark expose of Eastern Eu...more For those fascinated by intellectual culture snd the pretentiousness of many its trends, these wry portraits rival Milosz's dark expose of Eastern European Communism for their psychological insight. (less)
The Archdruid being a snide appelation a mega-developer gave David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club. For decades he was a one-man environmental move...moreThe Archdruid being a snide appelation a mega-developer gave David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club. For decades he was a one-man environmental movement. McPhee, a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, takes the reader into the vortices of three of Brower's major battles.(less)
Any young Indian poet of this era would have had, first of all, to undergo a thorough study of Sanskrit grammar, beginning at the age of six. By the a...moreAny young Indian poet of this era would have had, first of all, to undergo a thorough study of Sanskrit grammar, beginning at the age of six. By the age of eight, he or she would have memorized the first 1,000 sutras of Panini's grammar, and not long after that, the full 4,000 sutras. Having accomplished that, he would then learn to apply the rules of grammatical analysis to domains such as logic, philosophy, poetics, mathematics, and numerous other disciplines.
It is for this reason that so often philosophical, mathematical, and logical themes appear in these poems.
Poetry, of course, is untranslatable, but often Brough's renderings, like flashes of monsoon lightning, reveal blinding visions of court life that would otherwise remain eternally obscured.
Many good things spread throughout Europe from their source in Renissance Italian commedia dell'arte drama. This play, by Carlo Gozzi, is a fairy tale...moreMany good things spread throughout Europe from their source in Renissance Italian commedia dell'arte drama. This play, by Carlo Gozzi, is a fairy tale involving a wicked step-mother, a magic bird, and a pair of orphans. Having read it, I wish I could see it staged.