Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fact, Formulation, Prayer: The Three Essential Truths, Part I

 We are all called to a certain kind of work during the course of our lives. The kind of work that's required is somewhat different for each generation, because conditions change, and the outer form of inner work must change with them.  This is why teachings need to evolve, and new approaches need to arrive; the world is a constantly changing place, where every instant completely re-creates the universe and the cosmos, requiring new and flexible responses.

So we are not in the spiritual work that existed a thousand years ago, or one hundred years ago, or fifty years ago, or even yesterday. We are in today's work.

 Today's work requires an understanding perhaps a bit different than yesterday's understanding.  Yet all work relies on a single understanding common to every era: we need to understand that we have very little understanding.

 In the course of my own intimate efforts,  I've discerned that each of the three centers has a specific Truth, or understanding, related to it. In passing these three truths on exactly as they were given to me, one ought to understand that they form a core, a basis, of approaching this question in a relatively simple way, even though—as we shall see—each one unfolds a very complex set of associations that reveal aspects of inner cosmology we may not contemplate very often—or perhaps at all.

 The three essential truths are as follows.

 We are vessels into which the world flows.

 This is a fact; the truth of the body. The statement is a fact, not a speculation. Understanding this Truth organically changes the relationship to the body.

This first Truth loosens and can ultimately untie the first granthi, or "knot" of illusion, as described traditional yoga teachings.

 There is no "I." There is only Truth. The way to the Truth is through the heart.

 This Truth, the Truth of the mind, is presented as a formulation, which is appropriate to a Truth of the mind. We are trapped in a mind that distinguishes us as "I." This individuation into ego is a fundamentally flawed conception, bearing no actual relationship to the way the universe is ordered. The formulation not only states the actual condition of the cosmos, but also indicates the action necessary to correct the flaw.

Fully understood, this Truth unties the second granthi.

Lord, I call to thee from the depths of my iniquity. I have not delivered myself sufficiently unto thee; I know not how.

 This Truth, the Truth of the emotions, or Truth of the Heart, is presented as a prayer. This is because only submission, surrender, can correct our essentially flawed conception; and only  acknowledgment of our position, combined with energy from a higher level, can help us achieve this action.

Fully understood, this Truth unties the third granthi.

 We have three centers: body, mind, emotion; but we truly don't understand them. We think we understand them, which is already the problem. The thinking presumes to have something in it that it does not in fact have.

In traditional kundalini yoga, it's believed that the three granthis have to be pierced using a higher energy. This action is understood to be both forceful and potentially dangerous, according to yoga tradition. Piercing the knots through force, however—cutting the knots—is not the aim of a modern inner work.  The idea is essentially outdated, if it was ever in date in the first place. Conditions on the planet, and in mankind, have changed since that work originated, and perhaps it was not properly understood to begin with, because cutting the knots is not what needs to be done. They must be loosened, gently, and working on the three truths can help accomplish that.

Each of the three essential truths is a mystery designed, in essence, as a koan for contemplation, a proposition to investigate. The entirety of the teaching as it exists today and ought to be understood is encapsulated in these three simple koans.

Yet they need to be penetrated themselves in a three-centered Way, according to a set of new understandings quite different than our usual ideas about things.

 Over the next three posts, I'll examine each one of these Truths in a bit more detail.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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