VIII:17-18 The Day and Night of Brahmā, Part 1

Previously, we learned about the World of Brahmā, and that we must rise above this realm in order to achieve liberation from death and rebirth. In these verses we will get an idea of how long we have been on this journey to freedom and eternal happiness.

17
Those who know that a day of Brahmā is a thousand yugas, and a night of Brahmā is a thousand yugas, are day and night knowing people.

  • Brahmā – God as Creator
  • Yuga – An age

An age of Brahmā is a maha yuga, a Great Age. There are four ages within a Great Age, which, when added together, amount to 4,320,000 of our years. There are one thousand of these Great Ages in one day of Brahmā, and the same for one night.   

This gives us a another picture that is far bigger than our usual sense of time, and some idea of how long we have been on this journey to freedom and unending happiness. One lifetime is but a blip on God’s radar. This kind of time is beyond our comprehension, but there are some who do comprehend it: the “day and night knowing people”.

In the previous issue, we found that the World of Brahmā not only refers to worlds where those not liberated from death and rebirth will return, but that it also applies microcosmically to the human body. Lord Krishna is revealing all this to Arjuna for the purpose of demonstrating the process by which liberation is attained.

In Sanskrit texts, prana and apana are usually translated as ingoing breath and outgoing breath because the breath is the way the Life Energy noticeably enters and leaves the body. Life Energy functions as sun (prana, the warmth of day) and moon (apana, the cool of the night) in the body—days and nights of Brahmā. Their cycles are yugas.

18
From the un-manifest, all manifestation comes forth at the arrival of day. At the arrival of night they are reabsorbed into what is known as un-manifest, again.

  • Un-manifest (avyakta) – not manifest, invisible, not perceptible to the senses.

From the un-manifest, the night, things are beyond the range of our perception. Everything becomes perceptible by the senses with the arrival of day, to be dissolved again into the night.

These cycles of day and night are the yugas within the body as a whole. At the end of the day you go to sleep, and anything you perceive is not perceived by your senses but by your power of perception. We experience this in our sleep as dreams. 

Day and Night

We are all used to thinking of darkness as being associated with evil. So as you read, try to remember that ‘dark’ (night) is simply the opposite of ‘light’ (day).

Nowadays, we are bombarded with the idea of light as divine (silently suggesting that dark is the opposite of divine, or evil). Many people have had experiences of seeing this divine light in their meditation. This is all well and good, but it creates limitation when we ignore its opposite: darkness.  

Anyone can meditate. Everyone does meditate. Most people who meditate regularly, meditate during dawn or dusk, evidence of innate knowledge that this natural transition, when darkness and light are united together, is the key to a true meditative state. 

‘Day’ refers to any situation in which things are perceived through the senses, causing the attention to become externalized and taking the life energy with it. But the means of reaching our goal requires that the energy be internalized and concentrated so that we can reach a meditative state and equanimity (samadhi). So ‘day’ isn’t really the good guy after all. Night is more to the point.

Night is when we naturally sleep—the attention and prana are not leaving the body but are restrained within it (pranayama), and the gateways to external perceptions, the senses, are closed (pratyhara). 

Sleep is the most natural form of meditation. Persons practicing Experiential (Surrender) Meditation often report that they find themselves meditating in their sleep and having the most inspiring experiences. 

The real reason sleep is not given its due is not because of darkness being associated with evil, but because Yoga and meditation have become misunderstood as things we can only accomplish through control by using our will. Once this error is corrected, we come closer to understanding the mysteries of meditation. For instance, yogic teachings on such things as yoga nidra, ‘the sleep of union (yoga)’, finally become correctly understood. Then we find ourselves in possession of knowledge that is extremely valuable to us in achieving a true meditation state, equanimity and Divine Union.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 1.50.03 PMLord Shiva wears a sliver of the moon in his hair to suggest the dark of the moon. Shiva Ratri is celebrated on the darkest night of the moon each month for this reason. The word Krishna literally means ‘dark, black, the dark half of a lunar month’. So the importance of Night and darkness is inescapable.

  • Shiva Ratri – Shiva, ‘Lord of Yoga’, Ratri ‘dark of the moon’.

So now you can consider yourself a (somewhat) day and night knowing person.

Read a short personal note on the day and night of Brahmā.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
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Who Am I?

Sadhana:

I am with a large multitude of people somewhere that is not inside of anything. I know some of the people nearest me but most are strangers. Nevertheless, I feel quite at home and pleasantly comfortable with everyone. Then there is a sound that we are all very much drawn to, and soon, people begin to act strangely:

They (this is very difficult to explain) seem to become confused about the people around them; they are scrambling around looking for them, their parents, siblings, other relatives and friends, and can’t recognize any of them and begin to recognize people that they don’t even know as being people they do know. But these people are also confused and don’t recognize those who think they recognize them as their own people, and the situation becomes more and more complicated and confused, with people running this way and that, trying to find their people. No one can remember anything. No one can remember anyone.

People begin wandering around and taking things from other people (we are all carrying some kind of luggage). Someone sees something in my backpack and says that I have something that belongs to them so they take it. I don’t resist this, and soon, my own luggage is empty so I leave it where it is and move on. I am not disturbed about losing it or anything that was in it.

Someone asks me to identify myself as the daughter of a woman they are trying to claim a relationship with, so I do. I don’t see why this matters so much anyway. A man looks furiously at me, but does nothing. I move on.

I am walking along and watching all this craziness and thinking it over. As I watch I realize that the reason no one knows who their people are is because they don’t know who they are. And I realize, this is God answering the request I made to show me what is going on with this crazy world.

I recall the famous question, “Who am I?” that I had always thought was such a strange question—how is it possible that a person does not know who they are? I realize that what I am being shown is why people don’t know who they are — they identify themselves with their relatives, their belongings, their bodies, etc. People depend on others—people and things—and their relationship with them, to show them who they are because this is the only way they can have some sense of themselves. But this is the very thing that keeps them hidden from themselves.

I have always known who I am. What is going on is that I know who I am and those around me do not, and this mass of confusion is what all this life in this world looks like.

A few years ago, I was asked to address a meditation class at a local church and was surprised that when I arrived they were all sitting in twos across from each other saying, “Tell me who you are” with the partner answering. I was invited to join and sit with someone without a partner. As people answered this statement with various and multiple descriptions of their names, their backgrounds, their homes and belongings, family and friends, what they like and don’t like, their professions, etc. My answer was always the same: “I’m this one.” My partner looked at me like I was nuts.

In the beginning was the Word (the sound we heard in the beginning). Subsequent identification with Creation caused everyone to forget who they are, and to look to others for this to be revealed to them.

At the onset of Creation we became identified with prakriti—nature, otherness—and left the Garden of Eden, the Absolute. The rest is history. A trip into the Absolute will change this. In yoga this is called nirvikalpa samadhi, a subject we will take up in the next few articles.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Vs 1

Arjuna’s Depression

1
Dhirtarashtra said:  O Samjaya, about my sons of the field of doers, and the sons of Pandu of the field of dharma, eager to fight, tell me what they are doing.  

Characters:

Dhritarashtra – Dhritarashtra was the blind king. The name means, ‘one whose empire is firmly held’. 

Samjaya – The king’s minister. The name means, ‘victorious’.

What is going on:

A conflict is about to take place on the battlefield. Dhritarashtra, who was king and is blind, is asking his minister, Samjaya, to tell him what is going on between his son’s army and the opposing army. His son leads the armies of the Kurus. The armies of the Pandavas are lined up against him.

Because Dhritarashtra is blind, he tells his minister, Samjaya, who has the power to see at a distance, to tell him what is going on. The result is that we get to listen in as Samjaya reports events to Dhritarashtra. This is the source of a dialogue that makes up the content of the Bhagavad Gita. The dialogue is between Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, and Krishna, Arjuna’s guru and childhood best friend who has come over from the other side to drive Arjuna’s chariot for him. But this is another story.

The Two Fields
The field of dharma (truth, divine law, virtue)¹ and the field of kuru (doership, will, ‘ego’).

Think of ‘field’ as a scope of influence and action. The field of the Pandavas is dharma, Truth. The field of the Kurus² (from, kri, ‘to do’) is doership. These two, Truth and doership, have come together in one place to contend their right to rule the kingdom, thus implying that Truth and doership do not tend to get along well with one another.

What does all this have to do with you? 

As a king, Dhritarashtra represents a ruler. His blindness represents ignorance—he is unenlightened. Because he cannot ‘see’ and must have his minister relate events to him, we draw the obvious conclusion that this indicates perception that is indirect on the part of the unenlightened, whereas the perception of one who ‘sees’ is direct. So we have ‘ignorance’ as ‘ruler’ of the ‘kingdom’.

What rules you and your kingdom? You will find the answer to this question in what you want. Do you want Truth, or do you want to be in control? Do you want Truth to rule, or do you want to do everything yourself? The setup of this story seems to be telling us that there is no middle ground where this is concerned.

The rightful ruler is Truth, dharma.
Doership (will) has usurped the thrown.
A conflict is inevitable.

The conflict between the Kurus and the Pandavas represents a clash of opposing forces that occurs when attempting to right this situation. The clash is the coming together of two opposing energies in the body of the person engaged in this endeavor. This union of sun-energy and moon-energy (ha-tha yoga) in the body³ awakens the evolutionary force (kundalini). Once awake and active, the evolutionary force begins the process of doing what is necessary to correct the situation. This process is explained by Lord Krishna in His dialogue with Arjuna, his devotee, and makes up the content of the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God).

Ignorance, the state of the unenlightened, is indirect perception. Dhritarashtra represents ignorance as the ruler of one’s kingdom—your perception, actions, and life in general. But there is someone with you who perceives directly, and can ‘see’. This individual knows what’s going on, and will tell you everything if you ask. But it will be up to you to understand what is being conveyed to you by this individual … and by this scripture, for it is this individual who is conveying it.

FOOTNOTES:

¹ dharma means law, the true essence of anything, and Truth in the absolute sense, i.e., sanatana dharma, ‘Eternal Truth’.

² The physical place, Kurukshetra, is located north of Delhi near Pranipat.

³ The Kurus are of the race of the Moon, and the Pandavas are of the race of the Sun.

Jaya Bhagavan(Victory to God!)
Durga Ma
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Kundani, the Basis of Union (Yoga)

As the Lord of Serpents is the upholder of the Earth with its mountains, jungles and forests, so all the Tantras rely on Kundalini. — Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 3, verse 1.

Take a peek into some of my notes on this verse from an old notebook (on which I have minimally expanded), and some commentary from Kripalu.

° ° ° ° °

The Lord of Serpents is Lord Shiva

Lord = someone who has access to their power; authority; a master. A master is someone who cannot be mastered by the thing mastered.

Shiva = the True Self

Serpents = desires, plural.

Lord Shiva = one who has mastered desires.

Upholder of the Earth:
Earth = physical world = body. Upholder = supporter, sustainer, maintainer, protector.

Lord Shiva as Upholder of the Earth:
Mastery over desire upholds the Earth, the body, and supports, maintains and protects it … even from death? … yup. So desire is what kills you? … yup.

The true Self (Shiva) allows for mastery over desire by being beyond desire Itself. By “knowing” the true Self, which is by its very nature complete satisfaction, a desireless state is inevitable.

Conclusion: Anyone who does not cheat death, is not completely desireless.

Lord Shiva is the King of Yogis

King of Yogis = Raja Yoga master:
King = Raja
Yogis = those who have achieved union (yoga)

Tantras & Kundalini

Tantras = practices for attaining yoga (union)
Kundalini = little coiled one”, DNA, caduceus.

Mudra

It is kundalini that brings about mudra (seal). mudra is not visible, though mudras may be accompanied by kriyas and asanas that are. A mudra occurs automatically in Surrender Meditation, to seal prana in, and to seal impurities out.

Mudra is the advanced form of pranayama. Mudra lasts longer than pranayama, and is completely spontaneous, allowing for kundalini to do Her job.

The full awakening of Kundalini is Her upward flow when it lasts for at least twelve days with no will, not even subconscious will. It is mudra that makes this possible. Once this is in effect, Kundalini can penetrate and evolve the three granthis (tangles) of the three worlds (lokas). 

Will = The product of desire. It is desire that motivates one to try to make something happen (attraction) or stop something from happening (aversion) = will.

Being of nature Herself, it is nature that Kundalini evolves. Kundalini doesn’t evolve you because you are not nature, you are YOU, an already perfect, divine individual. Kundalini doesn’t need our help, She does it all on Her own. In fact, trying to help Her will only interfere and cause trouble.

Swami Kripalu’s comment on this same verse from Revealing the Secret
My notes will be indented from here on.

Ancient seers and wisemen, yoga teachers of the middle ages, and great yogis of the present age, have experienced kundalini, and so will yogis to come, for kundalini is necessary for the attainment of yoga [union].

Because the evolutionary force has coils (kundala), it is called kundalini ‘the little coiled one’. Some say kundalini has two coils, some three coils, and others say it has eight coils. Various seers describe it according to their own viewpoint [their own experience] in different terms, yet all their teachings are true.

The two channels, Ida and Pingala, originating from the gonads, are the two coils. The three coils are the three conditions of Nature: purity (sattvas), passionateness (rajas), and inertia (tamas). The eight coils are earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, buddhi (discernment), and ego (ahamkara), the eight main principles of apara prakriti [lower nature].

My notes . . .

The number of coils also refers to the number of passes kundalini makes over the period of one’s sadhana.

Back to Swami Kripalu:

Kundalini is the basis of all yoga practices and principles, i.e., the cessation of mental activity (citta vritti nirodha), and the union of the living person (jiva) and God (Shiva).

My notes . . .

You as who you think you are, i.e., a body and personality, is jiva. You as a Divine Individual are Shiva. The union of these two, is yoga. Union of the self with the Self. Samadhi is synonymous with yoga.

Direct experience of Truth occurs through ‘union’, a kind of samadhi, which is only possible through kundalini. Kundalini has shot up and fallen back down in a sixteenth of a second, but you’ve had a taste of Reality, an “enlightenment experience”.

Yoga Tantra  Kripalu continues…

The word yoga means ‘union’ and refers to the equanimity of that state. The word tantra means ‘a way of doing something’. So the way of doing yoga is yoga tantra. Yoga refers to the yoga mentioned in the Vedas (the ancient knowledge of North India), and the word tantra refers to the yoga taught in the Tantra (the ancient knowledge of South India). By the word yogatantra, two different traditions of yoga are suggested. The Vedic teachings, called nigama (to sit near’), are handed down knowledge. The Tantra teachings, called agama (coming near), are given knowledge. In ancient times, there were many divisions of the Tantra. Shaiva Tantra (the teachings of Shiva), and Bauddha Tantra (the teachings of Buddha), were some of the main ones. The followers of Tantra do not recognize the Vedic teachings on yoga (union).

Love,
Durga Ma
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Lakulisha and the Two Dog-tags, Part 2

Well, that was a pretty good story, but why did Lakulisha give me dog-tags instead of just zapping me? Truly, I do not believe, nor did I then, that such a saint would do something so peculiar for no good reason. The reason was mine to contemplate, and contemplate it I did, for more years that I care to admit—how, after so may years of sadhana, could I be so dense! It was as plain as a pikestaff, but by trying to make sense of it (both ‘trying’ and ‘make sense’ being the operative words here), the answer to this puzzle remained illusive. But eventually my ignorance was resolved, so now I can move on, and tell you.

It is a good thing to be able to understand mysteries, especially mysteries that involve ourselves and the things in our own lives that are important to us. It is my sadhana that is most important to me, but perhaps there are other things more important to you. Still, we both surely have one thing in common: the importance of our own selves! It is for this reason I thought you might like to be in on how my mystery unravelled, as this process is useful for many other things in life, such as sorting out the meanings of dreams and other mysterious circumstances.

The first step is to ask yourself what a thing is and what it signifies. For instance, consider what dog-tags are and what purpose they serve. (At this point you may want to reread Part One of this story, especially if you don’t remember what dog-tags are.) The answer is:

IDENTITY

Dog-tags serve the purpose of identifying the wearer. For many years I was comfortable with the realization that I was not a body, not a mind, not a personality, not feelings, actions or anything else my mind would have me believe; I was comfortable not being identified with any of these. But there was still a piece missing. I had been aware of this, but I had not found that piece. Now I can tell you what it was:

IDENTITY

The same word again (remember, there were two dog-tags), but with a different application altogether. There are always two dog-tags in a soldier’s kit. This is also the case for you and I. Our problem is that we are only inclined to notice one of them. If you are missing one, it is probably the same one I was missing.

De-identifying with what you are not is only the beginning. This will not serve you until you fill the gap with something else—you will either become self-deluded that you are enlightened, or you will be haunted by this sense of something being missing. This realization will leave a hole as big as the cosmos itself if you don’t identify with something else. But identify with what?

Cease to identify with Creation and identify with the Creator. 

It hadn’t occurred to me that the key wasn’t in de-identifying with what you are not (the first dog-tag). The key was to be found in what one identifies with (the second dog-tag).

Cease to identify with “stuff” and identify with its Source.

Living in Truth is not about being true to yourself, it’s about being your True Self. This begins with seeing your Self. I know that sounds strange (and yes, here comes another story), but in the realms of Spirit, things are often not consistent with what we like to think of as “reality”. In fact, they can be downright opposed to it, illogical, and not make any sense at all.

In my early days of meditating, I found myself crossing a bridge (how symbolic!), and having crossed the bridge to the other side, I noticed someone lying on the ground. She was smiling sweetly and naked as a jaybird, lying on her side, left side up. As I came closer, I observed two things in particular: She was enveloped in divine bliss, and she was me.

Me? How could this be? If she were me, then who was this “me” doing the looking? Yet I knew without so much as a smidgen of doubt that she was my very Self. Which presented another puzzle: What is this form of her’s? Why is there a form at all? And if she is me, why am I thinking of her as “her” as if she were other than me?

The experience was a wonderous joy, but remained a mystery for some time. I later learned about the five koshas (sheaths), which are what you might call five bodies, or five subtle forms. My “Self” had been wearing the ananda kosha (bliss body), the subtlest of the five.

This is what yoga (union) is all about: the union of the self with the Self. That is one way to put it. Union of you with Absolute God is another way, which isn’t really a different statement, but this is actually already a done deal (realizing it is the trick). Union of the self with the Self is more to the point.

This brings me to the conclusion of my story(s). I promised that learning the purpose of the two dog-tags would be enlightening. I meant that in more ways than one (as I often do). I hope you found it so.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),
Durga Ma
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Lakulisha and the Two Dog-tags, Part 1

I have decided to tell you a little story. The memory of a very special event that took place many years ago during a difficult time in my life, entered my awareness this morning in meditation. I have not shared this story with more than two people, but this morning I felt moved to tell it to you.

It happened during my morning meditation many years ago. I had begun remembering Lakulisha and the amazing experiences I had had that caused me to think of him as a “heart magnet”, for that he is indeed: His love is literally magnetic, drawing you to him in waves of joy so intense that you stumble over your own feet (if you happen to be on them). The memory of him brought about this same feeling of being drawn to him. It became so strong it was as if he were in the room with me, and I began to imagine that I could feel his presence, and couldn’t resist the urge to look. And to my astonishment, there he was, just coming out of my closet!

He was dressed in nothing but a ragged old loin cloth, looking like a bedraggled sadhu, and smiling widely. He was so solid, so “real”, that at first I thought, Who is this begger? Who do I know in this part of the world who looks like that who would be in my house, much less in my meditation room?

He was carrying something in his hand that I assumed was a begging bowl, so I went to him to pranam. We spoke briefly and I began to realize who he really was. I was stunned. His grin got wider.

In his hand I saw that he held not a begging bowl, but something that I couldn’t make out. He opened his hand and there were two dog-tags on a long chain, the kind of dog-tags soldiers wear so that when bodies are recovered from the battlefield they can be identified. I thought this was strange (mala beads would have made more sense). It was certainly unexpected. He held them out to me as a gift, which I gratefully, but uncomprehendingly, accepted.

He told me that one the two tags was very special and that I should open it. Well, I’d never heard of dog-tags that could be opened, but who was I do question; after all, I was talking to Lakulisha! So I tried to open one of them but couldn’t figure out how to do it. He said, no, that one didn’t open and to open the other one. So I tried the other dog-tag, and sure enough, it easily slid open. What happened next is the heart of my story:

From the opened dog-tag there emitted a light by which I was instantly encompassed, a light like that of the White Swami** (could Lakulisha have been the White Swami???) and bearing the same characteristics:

“There was simultaneously everything and nothing, an unimaginable light more brilliant than I could ever describe, timelessness, and though there was nothing physical about it, no sensation as we know it, I had a sense of floating. There was no thought, no memory, nothing left to want. Everything was perfect just as it was.” **

Well, that’s a pretty good story, but why did Lakulisha give me dog-tags? Why not just zap me and be done with it? This is the subject of the next installment, Lakulisha and the Two Dog-tags, Part 2, so please be sure not to miss it. I think you will find it enlightening. (I will try not to keep you waiting a whole week.)

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

** You can find this and the story of The White Swami in Living the Mysteries.