People refer to my ability to get last minute tickets this year as some sort of miracle, when the magic is truly attributed to a lack of attachment to outcomes and a trust that life will put me where I belong. I planned to buy tickets at the last minute like the cool kids and thus decided that I probably wouldn’t go when the tickets sold out and people started hawking them for thrice the price. Even if I could have afforded it, I refused to pay more than ticket price as making money by scalping tickets goes against the basic gifting-economy premise of Burning Man and I did not want to contribute to the demise of such beauty for my own desire to party. Theoretically I was fine with the idea of missing it and even relishing the convenience of extra time for planning out my September California silk-selling mission. Though my smallest riteous voices couldn’t believe that I would not get to kiss the dust, for my body wanted saturation by the dust.
About a week before the event started a ticket fell in my lap via my first silk painting student, beautiful Katha—a burner whom I was helping to paint a silk scarf for every pretty person in her camp. At first I wondered if I might be crazy to take on such a huge extra project to coincide with my own end-of-summer production crunch and now I understand that my path to the mystic dust lay in the joy of helping another with art and love (of course!). So one ticket came and then another soon after that from a long lost friend who had moved to Florida. The process of getting these impossible tickets included hours and hours of painting, catching up phone conversations and a morning coffee break with my favorite KEXP (Kexp.org) radio personality, DJ Riz; a pleasant beginning to a beautiful trip!
Once Vanessa and I decided to jump, we flowed towards the desert in the smooth hap-hazard minimalist fashion I had fancied 6 months before. In years past I planned to the hilt, worked to get involved with big camps and projects— only to feel insufficient in my contributions and to return with a grand unused portion of supplies. We had about 3 days to pack and plan for a week of survival in the desert and a month afterwards of selling our wares on a slow drive home up the coast. We brought only what we would need to survive, to make art, a few gifts and too many costumes, confident that our perfect niche would find us once we got there.
Five minutes after arriving on the Playa, as we looked for a place to park and peruse, Admiral Steve came up to our confused window and invited us to camp with his Pirate Camp for the night. We accepted and gently pulled into a perfect spot—quiet but right in the middle of the action at 3:00 and Bong/Birthday. Pope Lenny, King of Lenny camp, took one look at us and invited us to stay forever and ever. This turned out to be the most nurturing, sweet, gentle group of people I have had the fortune to camp with. Vanessa’s first Burning Man experience was surrounded by very nice guys who were free of ulterior motives and interested in what she had to say because she is interesting. She was protected, understood and supported by a home base—a gift. I captured the feeling of freedom and openness that I associate with this festival, which I experienced my first time and have been attempting to recreate in the ensuing years. I did not feel judged or pressured to do anything beyond what I felt like doing, I was appreciated for my contributions and pleasure at being surrounded by these wonderful new friends.
This was my 5th encounter with Burning Man Land. This party is not always easy and not always fun. There have been years in the past where it relentlessly assaulted me with my every denial, laziness, and fear amidst a hail storm of discomfort, heat and dust until I cracked from the burden of over-saturation, of deep realization. Throughout these formative years as I’ve passed through my twenties, I take my body-mind there every two years or so to test my resiliency, to confront my ego, to solidify my truth. For the culture of Burning Man and the landscape insists that we live more and more for the moment, that we let our deepest selves out to play and to engage in the world, that we respect and emphasize the contributions that we have to make as individuals.
If I am cutting myself down in life then the people and place scream at me, slap me, throw me up closer to the stars, insist that I fill my 50ft tall presence. When I am too high, my ego too grandiose, it then cuts me down; cuts my head clean off. We live in a time where it is necessary to act fast, to amplify our intuition, to create the world that we want to live in and Burning Man is a premise to collectively test out and strengthen this capacity. I used to fight it, to resist, but over the years I have learned to accept it, flow with it, trust that my desires coincide with my mission this time—at Burning Man and increasingly more in life.
That being said, this year was gentle, easy, fun because I accepted what is going on in my life right away and had the rest of the week to enjoy. A deep twin soul friend, Aaron, had died young and suddenly a week before I left and I was truly afraid that my heart would stop too. I realized that though I was frightened at this prospect, the thought of ending this life wasn’t unpleasant. On some level I was feeling like an important part of me had ended; it had experienced everything in this life that it was interested in and left only a shadow behind. It took one night of sleeping saturation with the lithium-alkaline dust to bring a full realization of my current nature; to elicit a confrontation with the notions I was avoiding in my waking life. I understood that my heart has been absolutely broken lately and then the physical pain-pressure of fear and loss on my heart that had been present for months just lifted. Chronic pains which I had been poking at with yoga, meditation, acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropractic evaporated over the ensuing days in the heat of laughter, sunshine and art.
I woke up again as I have many times.
I told everything yes. I spanked many people with my little horse spanker. I laughed hard until my stomach hurt. I danced. I slept where I felt like sleeping. I ate when I wanted to eat. I sang songs. I painted on people. I burned my friend in the temple. I cried. I breathed deeply. I ran around naked(ish). I rescued my precious self from being buried alive asphyxiated by a mound of fears and requirements. I realized again (and again and again) that I will die alone with only my memories and I that must function accordingly. I released any notion that I cannot survive on the talents and gifts that I bring to this world. I simplified my requirements to include only what I truly want. I absolutely stopped censoring myself. I shot out of there like a cannon ball into the gypsy diaspora that is my deepest home; wandering, making-selling-trading beauty, opening ever more to the nature of light, perpetuating this feeling of bliss….Perhaps indefinitely this time? It is a choice that I can make every day.
Does life always tie itself up into a neat little bow? Each time things are ultimately utterly perfect I am reminded of the faith that I should have, for the path to this point is usually a symphony beyond human ability to compose—but for retrospect. Day in and day out, life pumps along to a rhythm of wonder, surprise, reluctance, assurance, fear, love….
This notion decorated and sprinkled itself atop my recent trip to Europe…
We flew into Paris where we Couchsurfed with another Indian-white French lady combo and took breakfast with a mildly famous French photographer. A weekend was spent perusing museums and neighborhoods, then we took an Easy Jet to Barcelona Sonar Festival—the destination that evoked the whole Euro-trip.
The Barcelona atmosphere was sarcastically joyful; a deep-rooted sultry rhythm permeating the schedules of the locals, making for a certain quality of life and a population that generally witnesses a full spectrum of daylight every day. The sardonic beauty that permeates the works of Picasso, Dali, Goya, pulls back the curtain to reveal a taste for darkness, an interest in sadness, a full exposure to what is under the lemon yellow sunshine and the clear night sky.
In retrospect, we were glad that the waiter sent us to the alley-street where all the hookers hung out when we asked him for directions to a good underground flamenco club. I was wearing my new Italian lady shoes for the first time and got to stumble along cobblestone blocks and blocks like a rockstar, watching the tourist scene diminish in the haze of Little India. I had never before seen a lady who was positively a hooker. The garish or sometimes pretty leaning and waiting figures are now burned into my mind for the forseeable future. The club-closet was closed, we lived through the hunt and found a fabulous Indian food restaurant—the easiest vegetarian food option available in Barcelona. Next time I’ll be sure to bring my nerve to take pictures of the ladies.
As the feeding frenzy of tour-ville dissipated, a calm filled the empty spaces and I began to understand the Barcelona natural feeling. People take their time here and relax in the afternoon to digest food or enjoy the sun. Children play in the streets. There are gatherings in the square often and music everywhere.
People are dramatic in a relaxed way. There had been an uprising in the Plaza De La Rambla about three weeks prior and people were still camped out in this upscale main shopping square, making protest signs and talking up the travelers about their woes. There didn’t seem to be any movement to disband them and they were pretty comfortable…even dressing up the statues and making tree-forts.
We pre-paid for passes to Sonar Festival and barely used them. There were other shows everywhere and a club giving a free party on the beach where some of our favourite Sonar musicians were moonlighting. The club thought it would make some dough by renting comfy glamorous waterproof beds to fashionable people for $300 after 6:00pm. The few who took the bait spent half of the party in an attempt to entice people from the free side of the party to join them, and the other half of their party on the free side. I floated in the Balearic Sea gazing at an industrial horizon, impervious the chemistry of the water; alone, save for the handful of other people present and some of the world’s best house producers. My husband, Raja and I spent our Second wedding anniversary evening dancing in the sand to Tobi Neumann live—the man who did the soundtrack for our wedding video (part one and two.
I spent one day and one night at Sonar, drawn near by Aphex Twin and M.I.A.
By day it was a fun in the sun feast for the ears. At night I was shuffled into a large warehouse, spewing with lasers, kiosks and confused tourists jittering about like electrodes. It was reminiscent of the sort of stadium raves that I blundered into and quickly back out of in the early days before I knew the language of posters and fliers. I think that Aphex Twin could make anyone dance any time anywhere, but M.I.A. has turned into New Kids on the Block and Barbie; gyrating about like the air is made of penises. Didn’t she once desire to prove the capabilities of one life to her impoverished and disenfranchised youth compatriots? What is it about fame and money that often cheapens or dilutes the heart’s mission? When I wasn’t dancing, I pined for the free party on the beach.
There is a Dog Man: a tall turbaned brown man, one seemingly turbaned by fashion choice rather than cultural necessity. He marched around tourist-land Barcelona dragging behind him about 7 dogs on leashes—all of them pit bull mixes of some sort. He walked with purpose—often like a man possessed and seemed to have serious business with shady characters in hidden nooks of old cathedrals. I imagined that when he wasn’t grappling with another nut, he must talk with himself and twitch around. We would spot him every day or two and point him out to one another—keeping tabs and entertaining ourselves by making up stories about what he might be up to.
One sad day throughout fatigue, arguments, saturation by the cattle-like behaviour of the average tourist and disenchanted by the shopping-consumerist disease that is taking over even the oldest places, I wandered alone through the marketplace vaguely searching for something inspiring and drifting further into hopelessness. The most beautiful chanting wafted gently through the alley-way—at first perhaps an illusion, but growing louder as the acoustics of the buildings collected the deep tones of the bhajans. I turned a corner and there was the dog man sitting in lotus chanting in a trance with a pile of dogs sleeping on each other and his lap as cars and trucks drove by, tourists gawked and took photos, Maya ensued. I was transfixed and immediately reminded of what is important about life.
After listening, absorbing the beautiful music for a while I walked up to the dog-man to thank him for the levelling that my hungry soul needed so direly desperately. In The Queen’s English he chatted me up about Indian travelling like a pro and then explained to me that he had been living in Barcelona for two years, chanting like this most of every day and playing his flute to feed himself and his dogs. As a matter of fact, he said “my dogs taught me how to move from fear to love.” Simple. Reminding my deepest layers of what is truly important about life and the effectiveness of my guestimations about the lives of eccentric others.
I danced away under his spell….
Travel is generally associated with personal growth. One major reason why is perhaps the appreciation that people crave what they are accustomed to. The fineries, luxuries and flavors that one has grown up with eventually begin to beckon with promises of ease and comfort. While in a foreign place we must adapt to its customs for there is nothing but this available. Pizza is adulterated by masala, salad is wonky and the dressing has bright yellow mustard in it, and what I wouldn’t give for a bowl of unsweetened, organic, sundried, raw granola……Thin, fluffy clean pillows….a ban on trash burning….anonymity….
Extreme gratitude for people that ignore each other when passing on the street would tempore an ego somewhat and one can always benefit from shifts in the ego.
How to become a citizen of planet earth?
-visit homes of the locals
-share home-cooked food
-Make art with children
-Paint people’s portraits
-Ride the janky bus
-Have a conversation
-Learn the dances and crafts
-Learn the languages
-Welcome people to your city
-Give them insider’s tips on events and attractions
-Invite people to your house
-Teach the dances and crafts
-Have a conversation
Share my version of this place that is my home. Can you believe this place? Capitol Hill is wonderful. Drag queens accidentally glance at my naked body at night through my apartment window—there is nothing sexy about this, people hardly notice. It’s a ten minute walk to the deep woods and people meditating everywhere. I’m surrounded by people who geek out on their art freak whatever in the dark for five months a year and celebrate every day of sun.
Currently we are toying with a life devoid of owned cars or cell phones and haven’t really missed either enough to cut it off with wheel chairs and semi-attached micro-satellite dishes. We have a medium-sized apartment with big windows that is always warm. Raja just got his record players and I’m shopping for a torch. It’s quiet and close to everything. Neighbours don’t mind if we have loud parties once in a while.
I painted a Ganesha mural on the Coastal Highway in Encinitas, California at a place called Yoga Swami. Recently the city established some building code that made backyard yoga structures illegal and Yoga Swami was forced to pack up its yurt and take its show elsewhere. What to do with the mural? Anyone who paints over it would suffer dire juju consequences and it has such potential for more dog and pony time.
(there’s a huge front side too…see the web link)
Luckily I made friends with Wes, one of the top 5 best people in all of California, who just happens to be a carpenter. Ideally this would result in he and I powering through a weekend cut down the fence and make a transportable hang-able extravagaza. The mural will live on! Everyone is waiting to find out what is legal, but I think that this jives absolutely with reason.
There is a very obvious stream of communication going on between myself and all sorts of others across the country, world etc which does not involve a telephone or a computer. More and more information is becoming ethereal. Everything fits on a thumb drive or in my pointer finger.
Speaking of this weekend, I am painting at an all-night arty party in a warehouse in South Seattle this Saturday. There will be digital and analog music, dancing, teaching, learning, talking, listening and tea. E-mail me or comment if you would like to know where it is.
Went on a morning date with Papa this morning—one of my favorite things to do in India. He makes me wake up at 5:30 in the morning, but it’s worth it. For after the pain of early rising there awaits a sunrise and Papa’s version of Chandigarh-land….a wonderous world to behold. He takes me on joy rides to visit temples and such—microcosms of the various mindsets of India all present in this quiet little town.
Today we went to the Jain Temple to visit the Nanga Babas. Jains are very interesting and lovely sect. Mahaver, their guru, lived around the same time and led a similar life to Buddha. Both gurus came from royal families and gave it all up for a life of spiritual seeking. They initially came up with comparable theories and then the religions that spindled out of their realizations, respectively, turned out very different.
Jains are focused on ahimsa, non-violence and work very hard to avoid hurting any living creatures. They are vegetarian, vegan (a difficult feat in India) and some even go as far as to wear masks over their mouths to avoid inhaling insects. Their monks start out somewhat clothed and as they progress in learning and esteem, wear less and less clothing until they reach the highest enlightenment and get to run around naked.
I was encouraged to take pictures (twist my arm, sure)…enjoy!
Here’s a beautiful stone relief of Nanga Baba meditation bliss land. Notice Nanga Baba’s huge gear and his tendency to fly around on a little lotus boat…
The life and times of Nanga Baba…his naked meanderings….This is Mahavir-the bravest and he invented Complex Numbers…
The beautiful temple…Jain sect is well endowed….wonderful peaceful place!
Me and Papa with the temple guru—almost Nanga Baba and another monk… The monks all pulled out their cell phone cameras and we had a photoshoot. Nanga Baba gave me a nice book and a poster of him posing as Krishna. Very sweet man, gentle eyes.
Another Nanga Baba guru…a fully Naked Baba….looks like a happy guy!
Nanga Baba show flier….
Nanga Baba saving a lady from her cage…
If you meditate naked it won’t hurt when lions eat you…
I infer that the general direction moves from non-harming towards a return to the garden of Eden….
Here’s a poem about Jainism from my little book that I got from Nanga Baba:
The Britishers didn’t know
The nature of water that India has,
That gave birth to the queen
Like Laxmi Bai,
Veer Shivaji, Teepu like
Glorious kings India had
And more like saints
Emperor like Rana she had.
Forest made his dwelling
No adoption of fleshy food.
Mercy shown to animals
Took the bread of wood.
The Cows each house had
Rivers of milk flowed.
Each home milk had,
The Cows worshipped.
Milk was poisoned
And tea was introduced.
Relation with Cows shattered,
Got the Cows slaughtered.
Here weeps Cow, the mother,
Why does my soul sleep?
Relation with cattle is great,
Mother is our Cow.
Animal slaughtering needs prevention,
Let animals be free.
Stop Slaughter houses
Cease. Stop. Cease.
Killing, bloodshed Cease.
—So apparently India is so bloody because of those dastardly Brits…
Anonymous asked: Erin - did you do all the jewelry work? I was touched by your sax comments by the way!
Yes I made all of that jewelry…The pearl ring was my first creation…
I was touched by your performance…that was such a special moment in my life!
Dream Pulse Bracelette-Labradorite
Lucid Heart Pendant-Labradorite
Calm and Understanding Ring-Pearl and Moonstone
Psychic Earrings-Solenite and Moonstone
Raja’s Man Pendant-Solenite and Rutilated Quartz
Raja’s Man Bracelette-Solenite
Good Love Magnet Pendant-Rose Quartz and Citrine
Shola’s Ajna Chakra Ring-Tourmalinated Quartz
Thank You Bahgsu….I knew you would treat me well!
It is challenging to make sense of a place that I love because if its disgusting attributes. Though sometimes it stretches my patience to its very limits, the outcome of every escapade is a deep learning and gratitude for the growing pains inflicted. India has been good to me, it has softened my hard parts and hardened my soft areas—thus granting me a sort of balance that cannot be found in seeking; a balance that can only be achieved by acquiescing to life. India encourages one to give up, to give self to the higher powers and to believe that all is for the best.
From this land of pain, powerlessness, filth, love, bliss and beauty comes a system of well being and beliefs that is based on a person performing daily the practices necessary to one’s individual nature, spending quiet still time each day allowing thoughts of past and future to lift, allowing life to go on around with no personal interference and using the tools available to attend the divine nature in every aspect of being. India’s pervasive doctrine allows a person who does not perform correctly, to try again and again until they get it right, until they do everything they need to do—even if it takes endless lifetimes, they will eventually go to the next different place and have a whole new set of concerns. Though people will have something to say about the way that others live because the culture is nosey, theoretically every person’s idea of what they need to do is correct, every belief system is welcome, each human plight is acceptable because it is part of one’s individual path. One cannot do anything other than that which they are doing. Nothing is bad or good, everything just is.
Like taking a bath in a dirty pond, I have escaped the heat of hell and cleansed myself of attachment to that which no longer serves me in the cool, polluted water. I emerge fresh, cleaner than I was—or at least differently dirty and perhaps smelling funny to those who think they can afford to ignore the putrid bath. I am free of affectation by so many things that once disturbed me, like waiting, fear of getting hit by cars, human faeces, being told no, my own inability to focus, my perceived shortcomings, physical discomfort, and lack of amenities. The most beautiful women I’ve ever seen dripping with jewellery and beautiful saris emerge from dilapidated shacks or jump off of the back of a truck to dance through puddles of sewage collecting cow chips and sorting through garbage. It is impossible to find intolerable that which a hundred people around me will happily endure.
Most of the people here are in survival mode. They are happy to have food on the table, electricity, their loved ones around them, occasional treats. I came here with a huge list of necessary comforts that I’ve since abandoned. After living in mud huts that are luxurious compared to the tin shacks down the street, I am comfortable sleeping anywhere. After months of cold showers using a bucket, I no longer crave long hot showers or baths. I used to feel squeamish at the notion of spreading the usage of toilet implements (brushes, buckets, etc) to wider fields or touching certain things or walking near human excrement—though there was no physical contact with faeces, human discharge in general, eating food that had been left out or cooked in a dirty kitchen, etc. After having no choice but to suffice with the community hole in the ground and make-shift plastic cup in a bucket of water for cleaning that had never been washed, hugging lepers and eating food that they made for me, stepping over a beach full of morning poops to join my friends in an ocean swim, walking in the dark through fields infested with black cobras, drinking the most amazing fresh squeezed juice on the planet out of a glass recently used by any number of strangers and barely washed in a bucket-full of questionable water, I understand that I am not physically affected by many things that bother my intellect.
Tantrics are thought of as witches here in India. If some villagers’ children get ill and husband loses his job, it will be assumed that they have been cursed by a Tantric. Movies portray them as vicious malevolent, skull-wearing, psychotic priests with yellow finger nails and googling eyes, who will curse you and steal your babies. The Indian stigma against Tantrics comes from the Agora Tantrics who take this idea of basking in everything to an extreme. These are the guys that are running around naked, covered in ash of corpses, holding up a left arm for twelve years, pulling a jeep around with a penis, abstaining from eating or they eat anything that comes their way. They take their understanding of enlightenment from preoccupation with a source of divinity that strings everything together and perhaps people are afraid of them because they are wild, powerful—as this ability to see God in everything is a great source of power.
As we age we accumulate and pass on to our progeny a set of pre-existing conditions, requirements, opinions, apprehensions, pre-conceived notions and judgements that cloud reality. Many people find that their life becomes consumed and composed by a series of fear-based aversion or cravings based on their own past experiences or the things they’ve heard from others. This prevents one from receiving life as it is, for each moment is new and there is no way to guess how something might act or feel. This also adds stress, fatigue and disease as energy is lost in an effort to avoid or control many aspects of the flow; it is kindred to swimming upstream. After a bit of research one will understand that Tantra is the practice of accepting life as it is, avoiding dichotomy between good and bad, abandoning judgement as much as possible to reveal the world as a child might see it…Everything is confronted as if for the first time. This is actually the closest view of reality and the highest form of optimism—to allow curiosity to supersede fear.
I am a huge advocate for finding a teacher and studio where one feels at home and devoting oneself to an informed practice of yoga, for this gives a person a knowledge of different asanas, pranayama, meditations, mantras and understanding of proper alignment—a set of tools necessary to safely explore and to heal themselves. A good instructor is often able to tune into the needs of the classroom and wonderful heights can be reached collectively. At some point one has to use what they have learned. I developed a dependence on classes with an instructor to guide and others around to compare myself to. I learned everything that I know about asana from these circumstances and was weary of letting them go, for when practicing alone I felt like a deer in headlights at the prospect of being able to do any type of movement that I want to. Even when I became an instructor, I would channel the universal everything for my class and experience great juju with everyone, but was somehow afraid to really do this just for myself.
In India it is difficult to deny an exploration of my own practice. While I have had the opportunity to study with some wonderful teachers, my most profound learning experiences about yoga in India have happened while practicing on my own. The understanding that I am here, where the Rishis originally developed the yoga system, has given me license to listen deeply to my own inklings; to take time every day to follow the whispers of my inner voice while omitting the ego as much as possible. At this point in my study of yoga I understand that an asana practice is simply time put aside to move as the body wants to move, to open and cleanse the energy channels that want to be opened in preparation for meditation and to make it possible to find bliss in a variety of postures.
My practice in solitude feels more like a true asana practice. It begins and ends when I want it to and it amplifies to a degree that is comfortable for me on that day. It is good for a beginner to be encouraged to move beyond their fear and to explore their true physical limits, but many people in this situation get competitive or hard on themselves and push in wrong directions for want of acknowledgement from peers. This is absolutely not asana practice; this is aerobics, gymnastics, and ego-stretching. A true asana practice is based on compassion and curiosity about the state of the body; sometimes the body will feel energetic, strong and want to be pushed, stretched; other times it feels tired, weak and it wants to be nurtured, breathed into, energized, and loved.
There is a string of energy that pulsates into every part of our being—every part of our presence on this earth that we can imagine. The point of asana is to bring that energy into the parts that aren’t getting enough and meditation is simply to see every part of the universe inside as it is now. When we go too far into a posture, the first thing that happens is the good feelings stop pouring into the appendages involved, then our breath stops or gets shallow, we feel apprehensive, we feel danger. If one eases up at the point before this happens (and this point changes every day) and sends love, nurturing to those parts through those open channels, they will find a stronger presence from members involved and an ability to go deeper later; they will find that during meditation, they are able to explore that area of the body with greater clarity—which is the purpose of asana in the first place. If one pushes beyond that stopping point, they will find that injury occurs and that place closes off energetically in an effort to heal itself without interference from ego—a force turned malevolent by its over-reaching breadth of influence.
One of my teachers told me that to prevent depression, I must do sun salutations every day to appease the sun. So my personal practice started with a vow to do at least six sun salutations on the beach at sunset and to meditate every day even just a little bit. This seemed an easy vow to fulfil, but I find any such vow to be quite challenging. Sometimes I put off these sun salutations and am forced to do them quickly, sluggishly, with a full stomach—but I do them with compassion and always feel better, reconnected because of them. Other times a hankering for other poses pops up within the sun salutations and my practice lasts for hours and my body does amazing things—drawing energy in from outlandish places and like an alchemist, passing it through my being in different ways, turning it to gold and spreading it out to the ends of the earth. I meditate sometimes before asana practice, where I get visions of the poses that my body wants and sometimes after asanas where I could explore the changes that have been made, the wild open energy channels and vibrations—functioning much like a prolonged savasana.
The longer I keep this daily practice of listening to the universe, the more intricate my practice becomes; I began to develop new poses, to understand how to fit various aspects of the practice together, to realize why pranayama, mantra, meditation, etc. are necessary. I’ve read many books and heard many theories, but nothing compares to the learning received from my own practice. This practice is a play time, like a healing time—where I can do anything I want with no requirements and my body becomes something mysterious and interesting, something new every day to explore. With this great compassion, I have been able to touch my foot to extremities that I hadn’t imagined before, but also the smallest movements become infinitely beautiful, deeply challenging and opening. This pervades other factions of life until everything becomes the first of its kind that I have encountered, a source of great entertainment, something to be regarded with understanding. This ability to look with compassion and healing at the intricacies of my inner world extends itself to the people and things that I touch with senses or perception, encouraging an ever-deepening understanding of my environment and a stronger ability to treat it as it wants to be treated. An effort to confront life with curiosity, innocence and no judgement, I believe, is what originally gave way to the concept of Tantra.
It has been established that matter is ultimately composed of various combinations of the same sorts of particles. If we wish to be pure in thought and free from the misery of confusion, we cannot then react to some things with aversion and other things with desire, for it is all essentially the same. So this leaves us with a choice, we must either avoid pleasure and enjoyment of our senses—the doctrine of the ascetic, or we must embrace everything that comes at us equally-the basis of Tantric practice. Both methods provide us with the ability to face anything with equanimity, leaving us unaffected by this system of love and hate, pain and comfort, bliss and agony, thus attaining a heaven on this disgusting beautiful planet, living in a world that just is.
The simple practice of setting aside time to be open will lead one to many understandings, bring new practices and deepen one’s ability to feel. For some people this may mean getting rid of everything owned and retreating to the mountains or running naked screaming through the city streets eating poop and sleeping with dead bodies, for others it may entail devoting oneself entirely to their family, or their cat, or their job scrubbing floors— God lives in everything. It is said that there are as many paths to enlightenment as there are people, or beings. People don’t usually come from elsewhere to India and find enlightenment, they come to India to learn how to look, how to appreciate what they have and then they find enlightenment in their day to day life. A guru can inspire and help a person begin to explore their inner universe, but it is the guru that lives inside of each one of us and acceptance of that which composes life which will show the way to liberation from bondage.