Varaha Jayanti - Agni Purana 1.3

Vishnu was next manifested by the form of a boar. The sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti had a son named Hiranyaksha, who became the King of the Asuras. Hiranyaksha, by his righteousness, pleased Brahma so that Brahma granted him any wish: Hiranyaksha wished to be invincible in battle. Hiranyaksha thus went to war with the Devas, and because he was invincible in battle, utterly defeated the Devas and conquered the Devaloka. In the course of his war, he also conquered Varuna, the Ocean.  Hiranyaksha was unstoppable! He became King of every world.

Of all his domains, Hiranyaksha enjoyed most of all the ocean, and came to live in Varuna's palace under the waters. But he also loved the Earth, and so he pulled Her down into the ocean to live with him, causing Her considerable misery.

By now, Brahma understood that, despite his good intentions, he had permitted something terrible to happen by granting this wish. So he led the Devas to Vishnu and asked that Vishnu do something about Hiranyaksha, and his despicable treatment of the Earth. The Devas should be restored to the Devaloka, and the Earth should be brought back from the ocean's depths. Vishnu agreed something should be done. In the form of a boar, Vishnu entered the ocean - and frolicing and playing, swimming in the vast waters.  This attracted the attention of the Earth, who fell in love with Vishnu; she called to him, and this is how Vishnu was able to find the Earth.  He dived down, and lifted Her in his tusks, carrying Her out of the waters.

Hiranyaksha did not know that this boar was Vishnu, and thought it was an ordinary boar coming to steal his love. So he attacked the boar. Soon, it became apparent this was no ordinary boar! As they fought, Hiranyaksha saw the boar's feet were the vedas, his tusks were sacrificial stakes, his teeth offerings, his mouth an altar, his tongue the sacred flame! Too late, he understood: it was Vishnu, in the form of sacrifice itself! Vishnu bent time, and the battle stretched on for a thousand years.  Vishnu wore down the will of Hiranyaksha, tiring him; the more Hiranyaksha fought with Vishnu, the more he admired Vishnu, and became reluctant to keep fighting. Hiranyaksha then at last understood he had done terrible wrong, and regretted that he had asked to be invincible: it was that gift that spurred him to try to conquer every world, and even fight Vishnu. Now, Hiranyaksha's pride was subdued, and he asked Brahma to take back the gift given him, and asked Vishnu to end his shame. Brahma agreed, and Vishnu gored Hiranyaksha with his tusks.

Upon seeing Her champion victorious, the Earth fainted, and began to sink under the ocean again. Once more, Vishnu lifted her up.

The Earth had fallen in love with Vishnu, and Vishnu recognized Her as his Consort; they married, and had a son, Naraka. But the Earth asked Vishnu for two gifts for their child: that he be all powerful, and have a long life. Despite the good intentions, these gifts ultimately led to Naraka becoming evil, like Hiranyaksha, and required both Vishnu (as Krishna) and the Earth (as Satyabhama) to subdue him, as well.

Mahalaxmi Vrata: Sacrificing Home and Work

The intent (Vrata) of action defines when it is fulfilled: the vrtrahatha, for example, is the strike, the blow in a battle that brings final ending to the conflict, restoring justice, and success - the ending of hostilities (that was the intention with which opposition was met with opposition).  It is best understood in this context: a Vrata is an act of abstinence which is conducive to continence. It is the moment when further action may be abstained from without violating duty; as such it is an act of self-restraint, of consciously recognizing there is no need to do more.

This does not mean that action stops: after a battle, Sraddha must be given to friends and enemies alike - it is insufficient to ignite the sacrificial fire and lay the sacrifice upon it, the sacrifice must be consumed.  Words must be finished before it may be said they are "well spoken!" ("Svaha!").  It is insufficient to arrive at the destination to complete the Tirtha, it must be departed from.  But Vrata is the moment when success is assured, and the duty of completing the action is all that remains.

The Laxmi Vrata welcomes Laxmi into a place, into a work; Laxmi would not arrive there if it was not already "Hers."  "Her Home," "Her Work," is presented to Laxmi.  It is a profoundly personal practice, the method of which depends on the Vrata, the purpose, to be achieved.

It is easy to become attached to our home and our work, either thinking it belongs to ourselves, or to those we made for.  This can cause considerable distress.  Sacrificing it is difficult, but the rewards of detachment are numerous.

Begin by reciting the names of Laxmi: this will facilitate your understanding of Laxmi.  Of course, no one knows every manifestation ever made, but focus at first on the ones easiest for you to comprehend and remember. Some remember the radiant Sita... or Radha dancing for an eternity with Krishna.  But others might find it easier to hear Laxmi in their mind as a song, or see Laxmi as a color - or in the very tangible form of precious metals, or their own wallet.

Eventually, you will understand that you can only understand Laxmi in terms of your own personal experience and identity, and will see Laxmi in your own form: your ability to perceive and understand is limited.  Your home and/or work, what you are sacrificing, was yours - and you are giving it up. But it was always Laxmi's, even when it was yours.  Understand that your love of home and work manifested Laxmi, the energy required to give those forms purpose and action.  Their purpose, your purpose, was to bring you closer to understanding Laxmi - and you have succeeded.

Try to understand that Shakti, the energy without form, has already manifested form into motion and action.  Complete the sacrifice: continue your homemaking, your working.

No nuclear strike

Arjuna was reminded of the duties of a warrior. He was told that the Pashupatastra should not be used without sufficient need, for when used, it will harm everything - no being will be safe anywhere. Even the land will become poisoned. Such a weapon certainly must never be used against a weaker enemy, one which can be potentially overcome by more conventional weapons, even at great cost.


Not stupid

Anyone who understands they do not know something or remember something is not stupid, but actually very wise. There is no shame in ignorance. The Vedas were broken in four, and then again, countlessly. "I do not know," "I do not remember" - there is simply too much information for any one person to know, we must explore the limits of our understanding together; even Brahma and Ganesh could not rely on their memories, frenetically writing their notes, and at times collaborating with others who knew more or were more able than even they were! This is living and working together, respecting truth, constantly perfecting and growing; this is friendship. Friendship is the purpose of practice. Eventually, our personal understanding must inevitably improve with time and effort, and we become better. Just as by the persistent efforts of generations our society improves with time as well.

The beginner and the expert face different challenges, and each envies the other. The beginner only notices the expert's skill and experience, thinking that would alleviate their weakness at the unsurmounted obstacle before them; the expert, having broken through that obstacle only to find another of greater magnitude, looks upon the beginner's newness, and remembers when it was easy to learn something new, and the vigor they held before they wearied in exertion. Yet neither the beginner nor the expert has mastered yoga. Yoga is a practice of exertion, of endurance.

The Jnana Yogi envies the physique of the Hatha Yogi, the Hatha Yogi envies the mental power of the Jnana Yogi. Would it not be better for them to love the other's success, and rely on it, like a friend?

This is why success is guaranteed to every Yogi: because they intend to achieve it. And may, despite whatever failings they have, rely on their friends to help them as a vehicle in that success.

Not two, not one

What difference there is between a sunbeam and the sun is seen because of a perceived disparity where none exists. Is there a difference between You and Me, between Left and Right? What difference is there between the one who manifests Vishnu and the one who manifests Shiva? There is not "two," not even "one." For "one" implies there is a difference between "none" and "some," when neither can exist without the other.

I hope it isn't poisonous - Artha Veda 6, 71

Whatever food I eat, whatever I require to sustain me, whether gold, or bloody meat, I hope it was sacrificed rightly. Whether sacrificed rightly or not, my heart is glad, unburdened by doubt. Even poison may taste sweet, so I hope that what sustenance I take and swallow is good to eat. I take hope, and confidence, for Agni accepts and eats all which is presented, whether sacrificed rightly or wrongly, willingly or unwillingly.

Travel by night

To those who lived in ancient times and knew Krishna, there seemed reason for optimism in the new Kali Yuga: for in the Kali Yuga, it was (to them) easier to achieve success. However, though success may be achieved merely by thought, action, and intention, the conditions for performing Yoga have become more difficult, and it is neither easier nor more difficult than it ever has been. True, a star becomes easier to see as the night rises, but though it is difficult to lose our way under such guidance, there are other difficulties to traveling at night which discourage even experienced travelers from wandering in the wilderness without the light of day.

Water which falls from the sky finds its way back to the ocean, and back to the sky - no matter where it lands, whether on a mountain, or in a rushing river. It finds its way to the ocean not by any skill, but because of its nature. Success is guaranteed in every Yuga, though not without difficulty.

Yajna

It is easy to become attached to our past, or even our present, that we cannot undertake what is necessary to obtain the future we desire.  Do not be bound by your Karma.  Like Indra, ignite the fires of Agni, and lay all that is and was, your very self, on the fire.

Strength of Will is Irrelevant - Bhagavad Gita XVIII, 59

Krishna said, "If, filled with egoism, you think 'I will not fight,' such resolution is only vanity. Your nature will compel you against your will" (Bhagavad Gita XVIII, 59). There is no strength to the will and resolution of the human spirit which can be broken merely by hunger, thirst, fear, cold, heat, or other comforts and discomforts, or even baser instincts. Speculation on the freedom of that will is rendered irrelevant by the karma, the action, by which all are bound to take through their Dharma, their nature, their duty. Better it is to consider our ability to change our nature, that we need not be compelled by comfort and discomfort, or any base instinct. It is by self-control that we become Brahmans.

The Purpose of the Buddha's Enlightenment - Kalki Jayanti

Illustration by the talented Nina Paley
Kalki is filthy, wicked, fecal, deceitful, disgusting, not someone you'd associate with. Like we might see ourselves. Can you love yourself?

If you could live in the Satyayurga, would you travel back in time to today and set things right? Time is an illusion, but your duty is not. Remember the people you knew, all the beings and places you knew, and return to help them. Travel to every time and place, and set things right.

But could you help yourself? Would you be your friend?

Kalki is the next manifestation of Vishnu, the result of perfecting the teachings of the Buddha Gotama, the previous manifestation of Vishnu - for manifesting Kalki was the purpose of the Buddha's enlightenment, just as the Buddha achieved Krishna's purpose, and Krishna achieved the purpose of all the other avatara.

It is difficult to celebrate the birthday of someone like this, especially when that someone has not yet been born - until it is understood that difficulty is part of the celebration.  When we understand neither birth nor death are terms which apply to someone who exists beyond Time, someone who isn't a "someone" at all, we are closer to achieving Kalki's purpose.

The Story of Kalki
A long time ago, there was war between the gods and demons. The demons managed to defeat the Devas, who in defeat sought the protection of Vishnu. Vishnu assured them, Vishnu would manifest as a Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana. As a Buddha, Vishnu would restore the Dharma: then, all the demons, indeed all beings, would become Buddhists and live contentedly in their own worlds (lokas), at peace. The Devaloka would be restored to the gods by the demons, who would willingly give up all possessions; even the vedas would be given up.

Vishnu would manifested as a Buddha at the end of the age of Kali, when people lost the path of the Vedas. They became criminals, violating their duties - and concerned only with Artha, disregarding Dharma and Kama.  They become robbers and plunderers. When even the Kings neglected their own laws, they began to devour each other, sustaining each other like cannibals.

But Gotama turned the wheel of Dharma, his weapon, the Dharmachakra, and already the transformation is underway.  Once the Dharma is restored and all the worlds were at peace, Vishnu will again be manifested - this time as the son of Vishnuyasha, the "enjoyment of Vishnu," in Shambhala (an Asana name: place/time/action). The sage Yajnavalkya would be Vishnu's priest, he will be instructed and armed by all the previous avatars of Vishnu, and the four Ashramas and four Castes would be restored when all beings begin to again venerate the sanctity of words, and become righteous. This will utterly destroy all doubt and unbelief, all criminality will be destroyed. This will be the dawn of the Satyayurga.

Manifesting Kalki
Krishna, the manifestation of Vishnu precedent to the Buddha, taught a method of Vedasamnyasa, of renouncing the Vedas: this is not Atheism, but detachment from spiritual materialism, a rejection of superstition for reason and logic.  Ritual is but a tool by which we can strengthen ourselves, and others.  To properly renounce the Vedas requires taking them up: just as it is impossible to relax from an Asana without having taken it up, or to permit a sacrificial fire to extinguish itself without having ignited it.  This requires understanding the Dharma instructed by all previous manifestations of Vishnu.

Follow in Vishnu's footsteps; manifest each avatar in its place, and discover the unspoken truth, the hidden and secret knowledge of Kalki for yourself.  Indeed, move beyond belief in things like separate times, and spaces separated by distance, reality is both tangible and may be fully explored: you are an explorer, this is your purpose, exploration.  This is not to say that they cannot be explained or expressed, only that the path leading to them is full of wonders which you will find words inadequate for - and as you will find, as with any Tirtha, pilgrimage, the journey is as important as the destination.

Seek the celestial weapons your past and future selves hold for yourself; take joy in your being, disgusting as it may seem to you - and and destroy your own criminality; take Yajnavalkya for your personal Priest, study the secret knowledge and bring an end to the Vedas to restore your Dharma.  Then, like Kalki, you will have transformed your former criminality to become your vehicle.  Upon this white horse, you can ride forth from Shambhala with your flaming sword held high, to free the world, to rescue the gods and all the beings from their Karma!

Kalki's name connotes "wrong," a "filth" or "paste," "fecal odor," "dirty," "deceitful," like what is found at the bottom of a sick, tepid pool of water - someone you "would not associate with."  On such a journey as is required of you, you will become filthy and roadworn and weary.

But it is a journey not only worth taking, but one which you must take: do not ever forget, victory in Yoga is your birthright.  Now is the time to lay claim to what is yours.  Success, Yogi!

The Buddha's first enlightened lesson - Udana 2.1

Understandably, the first lesson Gotama gave to human students at the Deer Park is cherished, but the very first lesson Gotama gave upon his enlightenment was to Mucalinda, the Snake.

When Gotama just realized full enlightenment at Uruvela, beside the river Neranjara, he sat for a week recovering his strength, experiencing the bliss of freedom. Now, it happened that there came a great rainstorm out of season, with cold winds, and unsettled weather. With this came mosquitoes, gadflies, and all kinds of irritations. So Mucalinda the Snake, King of the Nagas left his palace and encircled Gotama's body with his coils and covered Gotama's head with his cobra hood to keep Gotama warm, sheltered from the rain, wind, mosquitoes, gadflies, and the other unsettled weather and irritants.

When the weather cleared, King Mucalinda removed his coils from Gotama's body and stood before the Buddha, in Bhakti Yoga. Gotama said to the King, "Detachment is blissful - if you are content, have learned the Dharma and see. Such bliss is actually non-affliction; expressed by restraint toward other beings and all irritants. One who overcomes desires for pleasure and aversion to pain is blissful, this is possible by abolishing the conceit of "I am.""

Vishnu was perplexed: Vishnu Purana 4.6.

Chandra, the moon, was the grandson of Brahma. Chandra was jealous of the wife of Brihaspati (Planet Jupiter), Tara. Everyone warned him of his jealousy, and tried to help him, but he was driven insane by the jealousy. So, taking a small force of his soldiers, he invaded Brihaspati's Kingdom, and Brihaspati's palace, kidnapping Tara, taking her back to his Kingdom as his own. When she was his captive, he raped her, and impregnated her.

When Brihaspati discovered that his wife had been kidnapped by Chandra, he immediately sought the help of all the other planets - but they were no match for Chandra, and Chandra's armies. They sought the help of many other friends, but Chandra, were just too strong. The gods were called upon to help - and Chandra received the help of the demons, who were always ready for an opportunity to fight the gods. Soon, every being in every world was fighting on one side or another of this war.

Whenever the gods and demons fight, Vishnu intervenes. In the ceasefire, he negotiated the release of Tara, and reparations. Chandra was cured of his insanity, and performed severe penance, and even earned the forgiveness of both Tara and Brihaspati.

But Tara was still pregnant. She did not want to bear the child of her husband's enemy, her captor, her enemy. So she attempted to abort the fetus. Yet it was too late for that - and before she could abort the child, Tara gave birth. The baby was born healthy and beautiful; but then war almost broke out again. Both Chandra and Brihaspati claimed fatherhood of the child: for Chandra was the biological father (from raping Tara), and Brihaspati was the husband of the mother. Chandra wanted to make things right; Brihaspati, too, wanted things to be right. The arguments grew heated, and even Vishnu was perplexed how to avoid a new fight!

Brahma came forward to settle the dispute: while everyone was arguing, no one noticed the child had already achieved the Ashram of Brahmacharya; he therefore had chose his father, and was a child of Brahma. Brahma adopted the child as his own, calling him "wise," Budha, for knowing his father when no one else did.

King Ashoka Day

We celebrate King Ashoka, who died 232 years before Christ was born. Upon learning the Dharma of Gotama, he adopted Ahimsa, and gave up war.  He freed those peoples he had conquered, and made reparations for their dead. When it was learned that he adopted Ahimsa, and gave up war, he was attacked. His response was diplomacy, and this succeeded in restoring peace without bloodshed. He then sent diplomatic missions across the world to establish friendship among all nations, and to teach Ahimsa - and the Dharma. In an edict declaring his policy of Diplomacy, not war, he said,

I conquered the Kalingas eight years after my coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died (from other causes). After the Kalingas had been conquered, I came to feel a strong inclination towards the Dhamma, a love for the Dhamma and for instruction in Dhamma. Now I feel deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas.

He was the first monarch to guaranty the right to freedom of religion.  His proclamation is still remembered:

Those who are content with their own religion should be told this: I do not value gifts and honors as much as he values that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions. And to this end many [Officers of State] are working. The fruit of this is that one's own religion grows and the Dhamma is illuminated also.

He created highways, and rest stops along the highways where travelers could find safety, shelter, rest, and trade.  He provided universal healthcare. He provided for the welfare of wildlife and other animals, not only with reserves and preserves, but through veterinary and other care.  He protected species from being overhunted, and overfished.  He protected the quality of the water.  In so many ways, he was the model of our most modern ideals.

But when he died, his family fought bitterly over the vast empire, and it dissolved.  In anger against the Buddha, his wife (who, like his children, did not practice or study Buddhism) cut down the tree where the Buddha found enlightenment.  In the following years, Buddhism left India - for a time.  But the missionaries whom Ashoka had sent ensured Buddhism survived in far-away places, as far as Africa, Europe, and East Asia.

No image of Ashoka remains, but his words, and his law, were beloved by his people, and preserved.  This is some of what he said,

Indeed, I am deeply pained by the killing, dying and deportation that take place when an unconquered country is conquered. But I am pained even more by this: that Brahmans, ascetics, and householders of different religions who live in those countries, and who are respectful to superiors, to mother and father, to elders, and who behave properly and have strong loyalty towards friends, acquaintances, companions, relatives, servants and employees, that they are injured, killed or separated from their loved ones. Even those who are not affected (by all this) suffer when they see friends, acquaintances, companions and relatives affected. These misfortunes befall all (as a result of war), and this pains me.


There is no country, except among the Greeks, where these two groups, Brahmans and ascetics, are not found, and there is no country where people are not devoted to one or another religion. Therefore the killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains me. Now I think that even those who do wrong should be forgiven where forgiveness is possible.


Now it is conquest by Dhamma that I consider to be the best conquest. And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni. Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following my instructions in Dhamma. Even where my envoys have not been, these people too, having heard of the practice of Dhamma and the ordinances and instructions in Dhamma given by me are following it and will continue to do so. This conquest has been won everywhere, and it gives great joy -- the joy which only conquest by Dhamma can give. But even this joy is of little consequence. I consider the great fruit to be experienced in the next world to be more important.


I have had this Dhamma edict written so that my sons and great-grandsons may not consider making new conquests, or that if military conquests are made, that they be done with forbearance and light punishment, or better still, that they consider making conquest by Dhamma only, for that bears fruit in this world and the next. May all their intense devotion be given to this which has a result in this world and the next.



Formerly in the kitchens of the Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi, many hundreds of thousands of living animals were killed daily for meat. But now, at the time of writing this inscription on Dhamma, only three animals are killed, two peacocks and a deer, and the deer not invariably. Even these three animal will not be killed in future.

Everywhere in the empire of the Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi, and even in the lands on its frontiers, those of the Colas, Pandyas, Satyaputras, Keralaputras, and as far as Ceylon, and of the Greek king named Antiochus and of those kings who are neighbours of that Antiochus, everywhere the two medical services of the Beloved ofthe Gods, the king Piyadassi, have been provided. These consist of the medical care of man and the care of animals. Medicinal herbs whether useful to man or to beast, have been brought and planted wherever they did not grow; similarly, roots and fruit have been brought and planted wherever they did not grow. Along the roads wells have been dug and trees planted for the use of men and beasts.

It is good to be obedient to one's mother and father, friends and relatives, to be generous to brahmans and sramanas, it is good not to kill living beings, it is good not only to spend little, but to own the minimum of property.

In the past, kings went on pleasure tours, which consisted of hunts and other similar amusements. The Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi, when he had been consecrated ten years, went to the tree of Enlightenment. From that time arose the practice of tours connected with Dhamma, during which meetings are held with ascetics and brahmans, gifts are bestowed, meetings are arranged with aged folk, gold is distributed, meetings with the people of the country side are held, instruction in Dhamma is given, and questions on Dhamma are answered.The Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi, derives more pleasure from this, than from any other enjoyments.

Try to understand

If we basically respect those we disagree with, and think they are reasonable, we understand that they believe what they do and act the way they do for a reason - it is easier, with this assumption, to understand why our beliefs are different than theirs, and to correct our own beliefs (if the facts require).

The Body's Chakras - weapons of Vishnu

"Chakra" is a word used to describe the basic instincts which unconsciously drive every being, through cycles of distress - and which permit the transcendence of that distress toward the freedom from distress. "Chakra" is also the word that connotes wheel (circular, cyclical), and describes the discus or frisbee-like weapon of Vishnu. These instincts are the weapons of Vishnu: for Vishnu has mastered them, and they cannot injure those who have manifested Vishnu (by mastering them, as well).

Though countless in variety (for example, the instinct of self-preservation is extremely varied, with instincts to avoid high places, dark places, spiders, snakes, or even to self-sacrifice to save what we have made or what we love and identify as our "self"), these instincts are classified and grouped to facilitate study - and mastery:

The two basic instincts are the pain and pleasure responses; these motivate (or "energize") the other instincts. "Energy" is used in the sense of what brings action and form, like a wave has no form until it motivates water through action into the form of a wave.

On either side of our body, there is pleasure and pain. Pain and pleasure are not experienced the same way among all beings. Most commonly, beings seek pleasure and avoid pain. But some seek pleasure and seek pain, some do not seek either pleasure or pain, some avoid both pleasure and pain. Some seek pleasure and do not avoid pain, some do not seek pleasure and avoid pain... and so forth, in all combinations. And some beings are incapable of feeling pleasure, or pain, or both. Beings find themselves in various lokas, "worlds" of Hindu cosmology based upon their response to pleasure and pain. As some are lefthanded, others righthanded, others ambidextrous, and others undexterous (clumsy), and still others without one or both sides properly formed, so are we borne to a world of pain and pleasure.

The significance of this is seen when an instinct is felt that causes pleasure or pain.

The first of these instincts will be used as an example: the instinct regarding change. Growth / decay, continuance / change. Change is painful and continuance is pleasurable, growth is pleasurable and decay is painful - and for the most part, beings attempt to seek growth and avoid decay, seek existence and avoid change. It is the instinct of survival itself: of killing, and eating. Killing animals, plants, fungi - even cannibalizing our fellow humans. Guided by instinct, we eat too much or too little, we do not necessarily eat what is nutritious, we sometimes eat what is poisonous or even intoxicating. Meditating on our ingestion, digestion and excrement allows us to overcome our instinctual response (whether it is to seek or avoid) and instead act consciously, logically. We develop rational behavior by such meditation - and bring an end to our distress, mastering this Chakra, as Vishnu has.

After mastering this, we meditate on the next instinct: individuality or isolation is painful, community and socialization is pleasurable; reproduction and familiarity are the means of seeking community and socialization while avoiding individuality and isolation. Meditate on your sexual identity, on your sexual organs, on what you have made and is "yours," on your family, your friends, your society - and your self. De-identify. You are not man or woman, you are not this or that, you are not a child or a parent, of this nationality or that nationality, your identity is an emergent property of various co-dependent phenomenon. Like a fire is dependent on fuel, air and spark - and disappears, having no existence in of itself, when one or more of these fail - so too is your identity without form. You do not need to fear the pain, or desire the pleasure.

After this, meditate on your navel: understand your connection to your world, the co-dependent nature of your existence. Are a mother and child distinct? Are they ever distinct? Is Vishnu any different than Brahma, connected by the same umbilical cord (which is Shiva)? Are they different than their umbilical cord (Shiva)? Power and control are pleasurable, vulnerability and weakness are painful - but are illusionary. You cannot ever be ultimately powerful enough to avoid distress. But you do not require any more power than you already have, you are already strong! Understand the first truth: there is distress, and it is unavoidable.

Feel your strength, feel your heartbeat, your breathing. You will come to know the pleasure of acquisition, the pain of loss. Like breathing, like the heartbeat, there is gain of air, gain of blood - and loss. There is a moment of holding on, and rest, and contentment - which is transitory. You are never content, and desire ever more air, more blood. Stop seeking gain and holding on, stop avoiding loss and letting go. Your body will one day die; your identity, conditional upon that body, will die. That is your nature. Understanding the second truth: it is the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain which results in the distress.

Turn your attention to your throat. Shiva swallowed the poison; you are in distress, too: catch it in your throat! Savor every drop, and you will grow accustomed to the bitter taste. From your throat, sense your tongue: is bitter worse than sweet? Is sour worse than salty? Up, down, left, right, wrong, good, bad, clockwise, counterclockwise - we turn this way and that, writhing from belief itself. We believe better or worse, different, this and that - and do not see the codependent nature of things, our subjective perspective. Turn from your tongue to your eyes, ears, nose, and skin - your senses lie to you; turn to your mind, it interprets poorly, irrationally. Turn away from seeking and avoiding, understand rationality. It is the desire for relief from the distress which motivates the distress. Let it go. Action has reaction; only non-action has no reaction: do not add to your distress by further action. All that has begun must end, all that is born must die, your distress will end if you do not add to it. Only non-action, Dharma, duty, will result in this.

Open your third eye, and see the noble eightfold path: see your Dharma, know your duty. This brings a termination to the side chakras, the left and right, the dextrous, the undexterous, etc. You have mastered your instincts - but then can understand that this mastery was itself instinctual.

This wisdom is the crown of yoga, the raja yoga, the top of your head. Take hold of it by letting go of this last instinct - by permitting yourself to feel the instincts, be guided by them, yet retain rational control. Discover the full maturity of your humanity! Merge the rational with the irrational, the logical with the illogical; your nature with your Dharma. Accept your duty, your form.