SPIRITUALITY & GOD/DESS

What is SPIRIT?
Spirit is the term used to indicate the source of blessings or gifts which inspire, support and even push us to gain wisdom and the freedom that comes from wisdom. Wisdom can also be described as direct, dependable knowledge of the absolute truth of who we are, why we were born and why we will die.

What is GOD/DESS?
GOD (or GODDESS) is the term commonly used to describe Spirit as something we can have a personal relationship with, in which real two way communication can occur. Addressing (or praying to) God (or GODDESS) is a way of declaring that Spirit has the power to interact with us on our level.

Why do we need Spirit or God (GODDESS)?
Nothing in our physical world has the power to give us wisdom. Acquiring wisdom is a miraculous/mysterious affair that can only happen with the blessing of Spirit. This spiritual force is counter to the physical forces of the material world and that is why we can call it something special: “Spirit,” or “God,” or “GODDESS.” Spirit teaches us about the value of wisdom, shows us the path to wisdom, inspires us to tread that path, assesses our efforts on that path and finally CAN reward us with wisdom for those efforts.

We need Spirit or God (GODDESS) because the natural influence of our physical lives is to push us away from wisdom and into greater and greater ignorance. We need Spirit or God (GODDESS) because wisdom is better for us than ignorance. Wisdom creates love in our hearts and peace in our minds. Ignorance creates anger in our hearts and anxiety in our minds. The benefits of spiritual wealth (wisdom) are greater than the benefits of material wealth because only spiritual wealth actually gives us what we want: true happiness. No amount of material wealth can ever give us what we truly want, happiness, because that wealth can disappear as fast as it can be gained whereas wisdom, once gained, gives us happiness and cannot ever be lost.

What is SPIRITUALITY?
Spirituality is the choice to go after wisdom in spite of the physical/social demands for comfort and security. Spirituality is the waging of a war against the pressures of material anxiety in order to attract and make proper use of the blessings from Spirit. The specifics of that war, including the timing of victories and defeats, come from Spirit and the only choice we can make is how fast we advance when we win a battle and how long we stay down when we lose a battle. That choice is a result of our attitude and can shorten or lengthen the duration of the war. The perfect attitude is infinitely patient and generous, courageous, indefatigable and zealously enthusiastic. Such an attitude is a certain sign that the war is almost over with Spirit, the victor, and wisdom, the prize.

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The Middle Path — on soundcloud

A spoken word track to return us to the middle of the road, back from the edges, away from extremes, a reality check on our “spiritually” ambitious egos! lol. Have fun with yourself! If you don’t then no one else will.

What is Yoga, Really?

Yoga means spiritual practice. Yoga is a series of changes to your behaviors and a way of guiding the timing and sequence of those changes. Yoga is reprogramming. It is developing new habits that create greater happiness AND success in life. Remember that spiritual success in Yoga is not JUST internal happiness but IS ALSO external success as well. Yoga is meant to fulfill our every desire on levels we don’t even know are possible. In fact, the Buddha taught that the real difference between spiritual and non-spiritual people is that non-spiritual people are content with what are really petty desires in life. They don’t know what’s really possible and so, they are happy with what they have. And this is one of the many seeming paradoxes in Spirituality: discontent with your life as you have lived it is necessary in order to put forth the effort required to experience REAL contentment. And contentment with a materially oriented life can block you from putting in the effort necessary to gain an even higher, more stable type of contentment possible through effortfull spiritual practice.

Yoga is divided into 4 separate types that all lead to the same goal which is a type of direct knowledge that eliminates all sorrow in life and replaces it with a peaceful loving joy. All types of yoga involve 2 principle activities: meditation and the development of virtue. Meditation is the cultivating of inner peace and the cultivation of virtue is learning how to love and effectively express that love. How you practice meditation and develop virtue looks differently within each of the four types of yoga.

2 of those types of yoga are geared towards renunciates and 2 of those are for householders. Renunciates must simplify their lives down to the bare bones while householders can keep their lifestyles and all their possessions.

These yogas CAN be mixed together, however, taking one exercise from one and one exercise from another ONLY AFTER one yoga has been selected as the primary yoga. Chosen as a primary yoga, the first two push you to become a renunciate while the second two are easier to practice as a householder.

The 4 types of yoga are Jnana, Kriya (sometimes also called Raja), Karma and Bhakti. These 4 divisions are present in all forms of Spirituality although some traditions might artificially emphasize one over the others.

Simply stated:
Jnana Yoga is purely mental contemplation. Daily affirmations are a good example of Jnana Yoga practice. The idea is that if you repeat the same thing over and over to yourself eventually you will believe it, feel it and act from this new point of view.

Kriya Yoga is about aggressive willpower. It centers on pushing past the normal limits of the human body. The stretching that happens in yoga studios across the US are a type of Kriya yoga. It is meant to involve the level of training that an Olympic athlete would undergo.

Karma Yoga focuses on rendering service to others. It tries to make the world a better place or to help someone else who is already doing that. In karma yoga you go beyond your own limitations by thinking about the needs of others. It centers on compassionate action towards the poor and needy.

Bhakti Yoga is all about the heart and is focused on developing faith in the Ultimate Goodness behind all of life (which some choose to call God or GODDESS but using a name is not strictly necessary). Prayer and religious ritual are the principle examples of bhakti yoga but music and even dancing can be also be involved.

All Yoga is based on the “fake it till you make it” principle. So, for example, you don’t have to have faith in order to practice bhakti yoga. Practicing bhakti yoga WILL lead you to develop faith by learning how to act AS IF you had it. Similarly, you don’t have to know who you are or what life is about in order to practice jnana yoga. You will gain that knowledge first hand by studying and repeating that knowledge to yourself over and over. Also, you don’t have to feel compassion towards others to practice karma yoga. You will gain that compassion in the process of interacting with others in an effort to help them. And you don’t need to have courage, fortitude and discipline in order to practice Kriya Yoga. You will gain those traits by adopting it’s specific exercises.

Meditation comes in 4 different styles, corresponding to the 4 yogas. And meditation, in each of its 4 forms, must always be coupled with the development of virtue if real progress is to be made.

Jnana meditation is like Buddhist vipassana practice where attention to everything is emphasized and the changing nature (or emptiness) of all things is to be observed.

Kriya meditation involves mental tricks to help you sit for longer periods and can involve special visualizations. The branch of kundalini yoga is an example of kriya yoga meditation. Kriya meditation can involves special hand gestures called mudras and special breathing techniques.

Karma yoga meditation and bhakti yoga meditation involve the heart. These meditations artificially create feelings of loving kindness for others, love for life or the present moment in all its particulars and love for the over-arching blueprint or Divine architecture of life (using an image of God/GODDESS, or not). These meditations are meant to be practiced WHILE active in the world. You don’t need to sit still for these meditation types.

Again, the first two yogas, jnana and kriya, naturally push one to simply life while the other two are just as easy to practice in a life with lots of material responsibilities. In the second two, the complications of normal life are used as opportunities to go deeper rather than seen as hindrances to progress.

And also, the 4 yogas are not exclusive to each other. You can mix and match practices from different ones but it is helpful to carefully pick one as your primary focus that truly suits you. Success in one yoga will automatically lead to success in the others. The end result of all 4 is the same state of liberation produced by possessing both Ultimate Wisdom and Supreme Love.

A New Book Published!

Dear Loved Ones, far and wide!

I am currently spending my second winter in a row on cold and snowy eastern
Long Island, NY. Besides working to make money in order to be with my guru, Amma, I am able to write and publish books in the relative solitude here. And so, I
am pleased to share my latest book with all of you.

liimmtm-cover-for-kindle

Entitled “Love Is In My Mother, The Moon,” it is a book of poetry, so if
you’re into that kind of thing please feel free to check it out here:

https://www.amazon.com/Love-My-Mother-Moon-Amritapuri/dp/098880154X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484696822&sr=1-1&keywords=love+is+in+my+mother%2C+the+moon

It’s available in a paper or an e-reader edition and you can even download
a large free sample in the Kindle edition.

Blessings,
Kilaya Ciriello

Another KSFR Radio Broadcast on the Moon Phases

KSFR, Santa Fe’s NPR station, broadcasts a show called “MOONWISE” that is organized by an old friend of mine, Merrylin LeBlanc. I joined Merrylin on a number of her broadcasts of MOONWISE this summer. We mostly spoke about, what else . . ., the MOON. I shared with her the system of interpreting the MOON based on its 28 day cycle, called the DAY PHASES OF THE MOON, while Merrylin shared her expertise in the EIGHT phase system perfected by Rudhyar. This one is on the last 14 days of the Moon’s cycle, called the “waning” half of her cycle. Click the link to access the podcasts. You can stream them or download them for later listening.

http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-august-20-2016-waning-moon-cycle-with-kilaya-ciriello

 

I will be doing one more show with her on my most favorite topic of all: THE SCORPIO RING OF FIRE! As some of you might know, I wrote a book with this title on the sign of SCORPIO and its significance to all of life everywhere (not just birth chart Scorpios). I hope to expound on some of the concepts I wrote about in that book in my next show with Merrylin.

You can buy this book on AMAZON either in print or KINDLE form or you can download a SAMPLE for free! Check it out here:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Scorpio-Ring-Fire-Astrological/dp/0988801507/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1419013271&sr=1-1

 

Some Recent Radio Broadcasts on Astrology

I have spent a beautiful summer in Santa Fe and got the chance to be on a local radio station as well. KSFR, Santa Fe’s NPR station, broadcasts a show called “MOONWISE” that is organized by an old friend of mine, Merrylin LeBlanc. Merrylin and I met years ago when I lived in Santa Fe and we were both members of the now-defunct Santa Fe Astrologers’ Forum. Merrylin and I used to run a clinic where we (along with other professional astrologers) gave readings to anyone who came. The unique thing about this was that we all collaborated on the readings. What a great experience that was! Normally, astrologers are completely alone (like psychologists) when they give readings which I think is somewhat limiting. It is better to collaborate! Especially when you are collaborating with such a top-notch experienced astrologer as Merrylin!

Anyway, I joined Merrylin on a number of her broadcasts of MOONWISE this summer. We mostly spoke about, what else . . ., the MOON. I shared with her the system of interpreting the MOON based on its 28 day cycle, called the DAY PHASES OF THE MOON, while Merrylin shared her expertise in the EIGHT phase system perfected by Rudhyar. So we had loads of fun! Enjoy. Click the links to access the podcasts. You can stream them or download them for later listening.

8/6/2016  http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-august-6-2016-waxing-phases-of-the-moon-with-kilaya

6/25/16   http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-june-25-2016-moon-phases-with-kilaya

6/11/16   http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-june-11-2016-28-moon-phases-with-astrologer-kilaya

2/27/16   http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-february-27-2016-moon-phases-with-kilaya-ciriello

 

These two shows focused on interpreting the current new moons of the summer so they are a bit less interesting after the fact, so to speak:

7/30/16  http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-july-30-2016-leo-moon-cycle-with-kilaya

7/2/16   http://moonwise.libsyn.com/moonwise-july-2-2016-cancer-moon-cycle-with-kilaya

 

I will be doing one more show with her on my most favorite topic of all: THE SCORPIO RING OF FIRE! As some of you might know, I wrote a book with this title on the sign of SCORPIO and its significance to all of life everywhere (not just birth chart Scorpios). I hope to expound on some of the concepts I wrote about in that book in my next show with Merrylin.

You can buy this book on AMAZON either in print or KINDLE form or you can download a SAMPLE for free! Check it out here:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Scorpio-Ring-Fire-Astrological/dp/0988801507/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1419013271&sr=1-1

 

Spiritual RAP

One of the regulars at Amma’s ashram put together a video of him rapping. It’s great and has incredible shots of India, both street life and wild. He used a drone for many of the shots. If you’re so inclined to watch a profound and meaningful rap video, it’s here:

http://tinyurl.com/h7f6qn5

Book 1, Sutra 51: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra

“WHEN THAT WISDOM BORN OF SAMADHI IS RELINQUISHED THEN EVERYTHING ENDS AND THE YOGI ENTERS THE ‘NIRBIJAH SAMADHI’ OR SAMADHI WITHOUT SEED.”

 

With this sutra Patanjali closes a circle that he opened with “yogas citta vrtti nirodhah” (sutra 2). Within “nirbijah samadhi” the yogi has a mind “free of fluctuation.” In the intervening 49 sutras Patanjali has taught us about a process of arriving at this state of mind. He has emphasized unrelenting energetic practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagya) as essential components. Along with energy, he has listed faith, a purified memory and samadhi as components of the path to this state of mental freedom. He has taught us the use of meditation (samapatti) to reach and develop samadhi. And in this sutra Patanjali explains that in the final stages of yoga even the wisdom concerning the purpose of existence, itself, must be released in order to completely free the mind of all disturbances.

Once that wisdom itself is relinquished then the yogi is “nirbijah,” or without a center. The mind, at that point, is truly free. It has no definable center and so, cannot be assaulted or disturbed from any direction. As the Buddha says, the mind at that point cannot be located anywhere by anyone or anything. The mind is established free of all thoughts, perceptions or investigations because it is completely anchored in its own form, “svarupe avasthanam,” as sutra 3 states. And that form is not located anywhere in either space or time (mostly due to a purification of the memory faculty which I discussed in the commentary connected to sutra 43).

This concludes book 1 but does not conclude all that Patanjali has to tell us about yoga. As we have seen so far, Patanjali is writing in a very beautiful style that becomes easier to interpret once we see its patterning. This treatise is called the “Yoga Sutra” for a good reason. “Yoga Sutra” literally means “necklace of wisdom.” This is a very fitting title because this sutra, as we have seen, must be taken as a whole. In other words, each “bead” of wisdom must be considered relative to the next one and also relative to all the other beads on the string.

The two important observations related to this that I have made so far is that (one) we can correctly interpret any given sutra by comparing its key Sanskrt terms with the same terms used in other sutras. In other words, all uses of the same Sanskrt word, taken together, can help us decode any one given use. And (two) we can rely upon Patanjali’s repetition of all the key themes. As we will see in the further books, 2-4, Patanjali will be describing the key terms and stages of yoga over and over in slightly different ways. Book 1 is therefore not isolated from books 2-4 and vice versa. Taken together we have the best chance of really understanding yoga, its practices, its principles and its goals.

I suspect that in my future posts we will discuss the same topics, ideas and even the same Sanskrt words that we have seen already in book 1 but our understanding will deepen and hopefully, with more understanding, our appreciation and enthusiasm will increase as well.

 

 

 

 

Book 1, Sutra 50: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra

“THE ‘SAMSKARA’ CREATED BY THIS NEW WISDOM STOPS THE CREATION OF ANY OTHER TYPE OF ‘SAMSKARAS.'”

 

I have retained the Sanskrt word, “samskara,” here because of its complexity. “Samskaras” are commonly translated as “subliminal activators or residual impressions.” Simply stated, they are the latent tendencies that support our habits, which are themselves created by past actions. This gets even more complicated because “samskaras” are also inherited from past lives. So we are born with certain “samskaras” and we are constantly creating new ones in our lives. The old ones surface to create impulses to act in certain habitual ways. Those old ones then get exhausted but identical new ones are created by our re-enactment of past habits.

“Samskaras” imprison us within the wheel of rebirth. In other words, the latent tendencies and impulses that we die with lead to being born again. Although Patanjali has not told us that yoga is concerned with ending the cycle of rebirth we can logically connect “samskaras” to “vrttis” or disturbances of the mind. Later in book 4, sutras 8 & 9, Patanjali will talk more about “samskaras” and connect them to “vasanas.” Either way, it is certain that within Patanjali’s system “samskaras” must come to an end in order to reach the highest level of samadhi, as he will describe in the final sutra 51.

The wisdom born of samadhi causes these latent and unconscious tendencies and orientations to dissipate. Under the influence of this wisdom, we see only the underlying purpose or meaning to life and its objects. Seeing only the central purpose of life, the yogi is therefore not paying attention to anything else and so becomes naturally detached, “vairagyam.”

As Patanjali says in sutra 12, it is “vairagyabhyam” which causes the ending of mental disturbances, “citta vrtti nirodhah.” So the “prajna” of samadhi therefore generates an ever increasing “vairagya.” This is why the realization of “nirvicara samapatti,” the state of meditation in which this greater wisdom (which the Buddha calls “prajnaparamita”) arises, is the end of any effort that the yogi has to put forth. After that wisdom arises it has a life of its own, naturally terminating existing “samskaras” with its own “samskara.” And in the next sutra, Patanjali will tell us that this final “samskara” of the wisdom itself ends on its own naturally, completely freeing the mind of the yogi. Then the yogi has reached “nirbijah samadhi” which Patanjali will describe in the next, the final, sutra of book 1.

 

 

 

Book 1, Sutra 49: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra

“THIS WISDOM DIFFERS FROM THAT DERIVING FROM CONVENTIONAL LEARNING OR ONE’S OWN INSIGHTS BECAUSE IT IS FOCUSED ON THE SPECIAL PURPOSE UNDERLYING ALL OBJECTS.”

 

Patanjali is telling us why the wisdom, “prajna,” produced by samadhi is so special and different from other types of more conventional wisdom. The specialness of the samadhi wisdom is derived from the very profound purpose underlying the objects that becomes clear to the yogi. That special purpose is called “artha” and Patanjali tells us about this “artha” (and its importance) in not less than 17 sutras.

In sutra 43 Patanjali describes the process of this special “artha” arising in the consciousness of the yogi and the monumental effect that it produces: “When memory is purified and there is a realization of emptiness then meaning alone stands forth without sense impressions. This is called nirvitarka samapatti.”

“Meaning” is interchangeable with “purpose” and both give us the definition of “artha.” We are all looking for the fundamental meaning of life which is the same as our purpose for existing and when we find it, true wisdom dawns, as Patanjali tells us in this sutra 49. Wisdom is “True” in the highest sense because it is about THE purpose, “arthatvat,” Patanjali tells us here. That purpose, in fact, is the “other” or hidden object, “visaya,” behind all objects. And that purpose is also the inner most core or seed, “sabijah,” that is the only thing remaining as an anchor to the yogi established in this stage of samadhi. As we shall see in the final sutra, 51, of this chapter, there is one higher stage, “nirbijah,” or without seed, for the yogi to reach. Even the underlying purpose of life, the “artha,” has to be relinquished for the mind to be completely freed of all disturbance.