The Life of a Shiva Devotee
Section XVII - Preparations for Tantric Sadhana
So Nathji left me with the strange sadhu. How was I supposed to learn this practice with a man? He smiled at my worried look and said,Child, I have taught many people, and none have been harmed. Some gained knowledge, and some gained power. If you do not like the meditation, you are free to leave.I thought that sounded reasonable, and relaxed. I said, "What shall I call you?" He said, "I am Jvaladeva but you can call me Dadaji - it makes students feel less fearful."
So I came to study with Dadaji. He said that it was easier to travel inwardly when meditating in caves - there were fewer distractions. But he also spent time in the outer world. He said it was not good for health to be always in caves, as some sadhus were. First, he would show me the area.
We walked out of the cave, and around the ravine. There were many trees and flowers, and a few fruit trees with tiny fruits. He showed me the places where other sadhus had meditated, and places where Shiva and Shakti had appeared. There was a small shrine with a flat black rock, carved with a ten-armed goddess. It was daubed with red, and had dead flowers on it. He said, "First we will worship here."
So we sat down and he said to ask the mother for blessings. He chanted her names - Mata, Durga, Amba, Shakti. She was queen of the gods, Mahadevi, the beloved of Shiva, the lady of the mountains and valleys. She must bless my practice, or it will be a failure. I meditated and prayed with him, but I did not see her.
We walked to a small waterfall, and he said that there were river gods who blessed this place. We paid our respects, and explored the area until nightfall. Then we went back to the cave. He said that he did not eat at night, which was fine as I didn't either.
He asked how far my meditation had progressed. He said that now I was his student, and that I must be totally honest with him, and that I must tell him any conflicts or difficulties that I had. I told him of my experiences with the lord, my meditation with the gayatri, and the strange events of the sacred thread. I wondered at the events of the pilgrimage.
He said,Child, you have done well. You have seen the inner waters and traveled on them. In our meditation, we will study their currents, and find which ones will take you where. Let us begin by saluting Ganapati, to bless your new undertaking.
So I began to study with Dadaji. We would worship Ganapati, and he would inspire our meditation. He danced amid the rivers of pranayama, and led us inward. Ganapati acted as my guide, as we traveled the inner waterways. The currents of breath became river currents, and then ocean currents, as we entered the realms beyond the physical world. Much inner travel depended on knowing the direction of the currents.
Dadaji would tell me about them, and which currents went with which mantras. Then in meditation, I would see either him (in the form of a letter D), or Ganapati leading me on. The currents sometimes had different colors, and the light was associated with various qualities. Each mantra led me to the current, and gave a kind of subjective feeling. Some mantras had qualities of expansion (curiosity, pride, incorporation), others had qualities of contraction (hesitation, concentration, detachment, renunciation). Dadaji said that I must become familiar with them. They would be my friends and my family.
So the mantras became my inner friends, and Ganapati became my inner guru. Each day we traveled the pranic pathways, and I learned to control my breath and not breathe for many minutes. While my body was still, my soul was an explorer and a boatman and a captain, and I traveled the currents linking spirit and body together.
There is a place called the pranalaya, the place where all the pranas lead. It is a brilliant and multicolored ocean. Now I know it to be a reflection of the great ocean of Brahman. Once you go there, you can change pranic rivers, and go to another one. It is like a train station today. This is how people gain siddhis and psychic powers. They enter the essential energy of another person or thing. I did not wish to perform such magic, but all knowledge is useful. I came to know how to enter other minds and hearts, how to help or hinder the growth of plants, and how to gain musical or intellectual or artistic inspiration. It was all a matter of channeling pranic currents, and finding out which one did what.
I meditated all day. I even traveled in my dreams. At the end of a month, Dadaji said, "You have been here a month for the introductory period of study. Do you wish to continue?"
I said, "Yes, such knowledge is valuable. But won't Nathdwar expect me?"
Dadaji said, "No, he will be surprised if you return. The month was so that you would not feel trapped. He expects you in six months."
I was uncertain [about the time period]. "But you said a month", I said. Dadaji said, "Child, that was for your benefit. But we also spoke separately. He said that if you do not return, the old woman will keep the girl for six months, the proper span for learning."
I felt better, and said, "What does the girl learn in the process?" She didn't seem to have yogic ability.
He said, "Child, the ideal partner would have such ability. But if she is young, beautiful, virginal, and devoted, this can compensate for much. The girl will learn to serve and obey you, to help you in your meditation, and to get you back on track, if you are distracted."
I said, "That doesn't seem to help her spiritual development very much."
He said,She came in to be a wife, not a yogi. Does she look at you with detachment, or with love? Does she want insight into the universe, or a household with a protective husband, and children? Granted, those desires are inappropriate for those living as yogis, but Shiva put those ideas into the heads of her and her parents so that you would have a consort. She is not Parvati (Shiva's wife) the ascetic. She is Parvati the playful and dutiful. As it is, women rarely have much spiritual skill. Because of their lack of concentration, few yogis bother to teach them, or share information with them. I have heard of a few exceptions of strong spiritual women but they are rare.So we went back to practice, so that I would learn what the lord wanted me to know. I chanted mantras endlessly, RAM for fire, VAM for wind and darkness, HA for the heart fountain. BOM for the god's footsteps. The tantric mantras sounded like bells - SHRIM, HRIM, LRIM, KLIM, STRIM - and were the sweetness of pulling pranic energy through the sex organs, and into the heart. They ran like a current of icy intensity, in a river from the sex organs to the heart, and then through the head, and then into the pranic energies. Using the tantric mantras changed the feel of the pranic energies, like a hammer hitting a metal plate, making the current surge rather than flow. It also gave the prana an odd metallic feeling.
These mantras led to a river that circled Shiva's cave of light. One could simultaneously feel sexual, yogic, and devoted to the god worshiping him in surges of light and energy. I could easily see how people could fall. One had to balance all these qualities, dancing in the sweetness on the edge of yogic death.
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Introduction | The Bhairava or Spiritual Guide | Lives of Spiritual Weakness | Lives of Spiritual Awakening | Conclusion
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