"That by which we fall is that by which we rise."
~ Kularnava Tantra
In times of increased energy; during a Full Moon or Eclipse, at the height of great emotion, on the heels of a powerful spiritual experience or awakening, when something we believe to be greater than we thought to be possible happens...in these times, not only the light in us, but also any illusions we're carrying (known or unknown) are also magnified. And when illusions are magnified, it can feel painful, even like everything we know is falling apart. What is true North during these moments? How do we meet them productively without giving in to the ego's convincing chatter that something has gone horribly wrong and is only going to get worse?
How can we turn these experiences from poison to nectar? What can we look to for real, palpable support?
Don't get mad...'cause I'm going to say the 'd' word again. Discipline. The tendencies for the mind to look on the dark side are a form of discipline, habit turned to conditioning. Pavlov's dog; ring the bell, and the dog salivates after many times of ringing a bell and then giving the dog food, the dog then associates bell-ringing with impending food delivery.
So we've got these two forms of discipline or conditioning...the ones that have disciplined the mind to be invested in illusions and create suffering of any degree, and the ones that avail the mind to Truth.
When Socrates says "Know Thyself", he's not offering it out for the heck of it. How well do you really know yourself? How clear are you about the bells that consistently get you to salivate, even when there's no food in sight? Are you ready to unhook from the puppet-strings that make you act, think, and feel in ways that are wholly unproductive to your Freedom, to living fully in the present moment, and able to choose, really choose the best option for all concerned in the moment, rather than being led around by your conditioning.
For years, my sexual energy led me around like a dog on a chain. Something would trigger this sexual energy, and I would go on the hunt to act it out. Sometimes immediately, sometimes working out a plan. And I was never satisfied by the experience when it was arising in this way. Physical intimacy is only satisfying for me when my Heart is open and I don't need it. When I'm sharing it from a place of contentment.
Sure, I've been able to have a truck-load of peak-experiences, but most of them were merely spikes of adrenaline, and once over, left me feeling empty, unfulfilled, and like I still had a tremendous itch that not only could I not scratch, but didn't even know what the itch was.
It's Love. Self-Love. Self-Love which opens me to Universal Love.
When I'm connected to Self-Love, everything is fulfilling, because I'm already fulfilled. So anything I engage with becomes an expression of my fulfillment, rather than a futile attempt to get some person, experience, or place outside of me to lift me up, to complete me, which by definition, it cannot.
I have had to develop the discipline to Love myself. No Guru, holy book, sacred vortex, or special diet can do this for me. And when I'm connected to Self-Love, I can feel and be further uplifted by the Truth through various scriptures, amazing meals with friends, long silent meanderings through nature, the hummingbirds outside my window, or anything else that shows up in exchange.
This past Saturday night, I went to a puja, an ancient Indian ritual with powerful chants honoring and invoking the Truth that is already here through direct experience. On the drive over to Maha Yoga in Brentwood for the puja, I focused on feeling the breath moving through my body, the sensations of it, and all the ways I Love myself. This was my preparation. And I continued it throughout the puja.
Over and over again during the puja, I was amazed at the intense, expansive currents of palpable energy I felt moving in wave after blissful wave through my body and my Heart. These currents were emanating from within my Heart in response to the chants. And having been at this spiritual path business for a couple of decades, I've been to a number of chants and other rituals. And always from a place of looking to the ritual to give me something, something I wasn't finding within.
It's this ridiculously funny irony (at least to me)...until I find what I'm looking for on the inside I'll never find it on the outside.
How does that apply to turning poison into nectar?
When I'm connected to Self-Love, I don't see or experience anything as poison. I experience it as no different from anything else; another moment in time with choices to make or not. And actions to take or not, knowing that what I am doesn't change either way....what I Truly am. From this perspective, I can meet any circumstance with what it needs.
Do I always do this? No.
Am I developing my capacity to live this way all the time? Yes. That's discipline.
So the places where I feel like I'm falling are the places where I'm being shown my next exercise to develop Self-Love in the Universal Gym.