Archive for February, 2011
Central Australia land energies (1) are perhaps some of the most amazing I have encountered. That may be multiple reasons for that but there is no question that this place is beautiful and sacred. This map shows the location as Ayers Rock which is the colonial term for the place best known as Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
My impressions of central Australia came from a trip which had essentially 3 phases and will result in 3 separate posts. This post is mostly about the first phase where we started at Uluru and Kata Tjuta. The perfect beginning to the adventure. The presence of spirit there is massive and impossible to miss. Our discernment progressed each day as our subtle bodies became familiar with the ancient land energies and the seemingly endless array of beings. It was a tour of the cosmic ladder on a grand scale. Ancient presence holding the land, imprints of different ancient forces that shaped the land, Aboriginal ancestors minding the land and so much in between.
For me, exploring land energies in Australia in 2009 was a kaleidoscope of presence and forces and ultimately a journey into the consciousness of time. I doubt that there many places like this in the world today where the consciousness of time reflected through the land is so accessible.
From these places we can tune into Gondwana when Australia was connected to the western end of Tibet and parts of south east Asia. 600-500 million years ago Australia, Antarctia and India formed a nucleus of continents which gathered in the southern hemisphere. Another continental cluster, including components of Africa and South America, was also pushing southward. The two groups compacted into a single vast icepack of continents and shockwaves echoed through their linkages. This is referred to as a titanic jostling where Australia’s main internal seam gave way under the compression. It fractured and heaved into a chain of mountainous folds and overlaps that bisect the continent. This 2000 km birth scar of the supercontinent can still be seen in Australia.
This incredible force, a shockwave, crushed Australia and passed through Antarctica. One of the shockwaves reached Australia 640 million years ago. The effects were felt far inland, the evidence appearing mainly in central Australia. Over a period that might have lasted tens of millions of years this huge internal seam gave way once more, buckling and fracturing under the pressure, it gradually rose thousands of metres into the air, leaving the continent bisected by a 2000 km chain of snow capped peaks.
Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the remnants of debris from the intercontinental collision and joining of continents. These magical places commemorate the birth of Gondwana. (2)
We arrived at Uluru at sunset and were immediately pulled into what seemed a breathing organism that was Uluru. And it just happened to be the full moon.
In the morning, after a cold sunrise, we made our attempt to pay respects to the Anangu custodians of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. We were incredibly fortunate. We took a cultural tour of the Mala walk run by the Anangu. That morning Happi Reid an Aboriginal Elder decided to be the Aboriginal guide for our tour. Apparently a rare event for this respected Elder to join this tour. We were honored to have her formally introduce us to the land of her people.
Tuning into Happi was a feast of vision. She held a beautiful connection above her head and walked gracefully on clouds. Everything about her was delicate and as gentle as a soft breeze. It was such a gift to meet her and be introduced to her world of spirit.
I loved Uluru. Its force was compelling and raw. We walked the base and sat and drank the presence where ever we could. Managed a few quiet tune-ins and meditations around the base of the rock but had a hard time getting away from the crowds. We of course did not attempt to climb the rock. The traditional land owners request that people do not climb and we respected their wishes.
Kata Tjuta was different. So soft and subtle and yet more powerful in a totally venusion way. Not nearly so many people go there and there is so much to see that they tend to be spread out so its relatively easy to find privacy to sit and tune in. We arrived for sunrise of course. Although my own view is that sunrise was a bit overrated. Sunset seemed much more active.
We started with the Walpa George walk has Mount Olga on one side. The force of the energy here really shook me. At times I had to hold onto something to prevent falling. Well there was a single block 7 km deep of presenced rock below me. Eventually we managed to sit and tune in at the end of the gorge and a beautiful presence arrived to help. From then I was fine.
The gorge is totally feminine and sexual. At one end it reminds me of a cervix and at the other end a vagina. Phenomenal presence at the enclosed part where the two heads meet.
Next was the Valley of the Winds walk. An incredible experience, about 8 km in total going high up to the top of one of the ‘many heads’ and coming to the top of a valley that was breathing massive presence. Then climbing down into the valley which led into the centre of Kata Tjuta. We were in the belly of the presence and some magical stuff happened to our subtle bodies. Its only from the Valley of the Winds walk that you can get a true sense of the magnitude of Kata Tjuta above and below. It was clear to me when the 7 km of rock that had been beneath me was gone. A bitter-sweet parting.
Finally Kata Tjuta at sunset. From this angle it is just one tiny corner of the monolith that is this magnificent place.
(1) Samuel Sagan defines Land Energies as the way a place makes you feel.
I recently attended an interfaith musical concert which began with the Call to Prayer from Islam. Until then I had forgotten how much I missed the 5 times daily call to prayer heard in the cities and towns of Turkey. My heart opens when I hear this call.
My hotel in Istanbul was very near the Blue Mosque and others in the old city of Sultanahmed. The Blue Mosque is properly known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. There I heard the call to begin and end my day, as well as throughout the day, from two mosques who synchronized their call. It was similar in Konya were I stayed near 2 mosques.
Here are some views of the Blue Mosque. The first is the best possible view of could get of the 6 minarets (1) and the 6th one is just barely there in the background. The Wiki site has more views of the Mosque with all 6 minarets. (2)
I was told a wonderful story about the 6 minarets of the Blue Mosque which is also told by Wiki (2). At the time that the mosque as being built, 6 minarets was considered presumptuous since it matched the number of minarets of the mosque of the Ka’aba. It seems that the Sultan did not request 6 minarets but the architect misinterpreted his request based on the literal understanding of his instructions from the Sultan. The architect was charged with the task of building a mosque that would outshine the magnificence of the Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia) which is just across the street. Perhaps the architect thought that 6 minarets would help because Ayasofya has only 4 minatets. (3)
“The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the two mosques in Turkey that has six minarets. The other one is the Sabancı Mosque in Adana. When the number of minarets was revealed, the Sultan was criticized for being presumptuous, since this was, at the time, the same number as at the mosque of the Ka’aba in Mecca. He overcame this problem by ordering for a seventh minaret to be built at the Mecca mosque.
Four minarets stand at the corners of the mosque. Each of these fluted, pencil-shaped minarets has three balconies (ṣerefe) with stalactite corbels, while the two others at the end of the forecourt only have two balconies.
Until recently the muezzin or prayer-caller had to climb a narrow spiral staircase five times a day to announce the call to prayer. Today a public address system is used, and the call can be heard across the old part of the city, echoed by other mosques in the vicinity. Large crowds of both Turks and tourists gather at sunset in the park facing the mosque to hear the call to evening prayers, as the sun sets and the mosque is brilliantly illuminated by colored floodlights.” (2)
This glorious daily ritual chant lands on the people and the place in a way that I have no words to describe so I will not try. You can see for yourself and experience for yourself.
The Adhan website provides a wealth of information about this Muslim practice (4).
“Chant used to call all Muslims to prayer, salat. Adhan is sent out from a minaret, either sung by a muezzin present in the minaret, or transmitted from a loudspeaker with the help of a cassette recording.The function of adhan was forseen in a dream by one of the first Muslims, who saw a person calling out for prayer from the roof of a mosque. The Prophet agreed to adding this element to the salat. and the first person calling out the adhan was the black slave, Bilal.In the earliest times of Islam, the adhan could be transmitted by a person walking through the town streets, or from just the simple roof of the mosque. Later, with the general introduction of minarets, these came to be regarded as the proper place for the muezzin to call out the adhan.”(2)
Each Call to Prayer during the day feels different. For me the first and the last were the ones that moved me the most. Of course they are all equally glorious.
Here are recordings of each of the daily Call to Prayer.
The Morning Call to Prayer
The Noon Call to Prayer
The Afternoon Call to Prayer
The Evening Call to Prayer
The Night Call to Prayer
My fascination for pushing certain limits includes personal change. What is it really about? For some, change simply means re-inventing ourselves in order – the much discussed make-over. For others, change is taking on a completely different interest in life – such as charity work, or meditation or reiki. For others, change is simply about dropping bad habits, like giving up alcohol or cigarettes. Some people hit what is considered a mid life crisis and buy a Harley Davidson or a tiny and very fast sports car.
There are so many approaches to changing unwanted patterns in ourselves that examining them would take more time than I have available in one lifetime. Psychology, psychotherapy, perhaps psychiatry, and of course self help modalities do this very well. However without a spiritual dimension, it could be said that these approaches can only go so far and may lack a certain richness and unique flavour of joy that I would argue can only come from a spiritual underpinning of personal change for the individual.
The best known spiritual transformational paths can be found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam. These are ancient traditions and rest of spiritual processes. There are many branches and cults within each and not all of those branches and cults have substance or integrity however there are plenty that are awe inspiring. I have not studied each of these paths in great detail however I have studied them sufficiently to recognise the processes and the spiritual depth and heartness that can be found within them.
Perhaps what works well is to start with the basics, such as psychological support, and then develop into a path that has greater dimension for the person?
Buddhism and Sufism are two paths that offer both. Buddhists speak of psychotherapy and enlightenment. (1) Sufis speak of three principles: the self, ego, soul/psyche (Nafs), heart (Walb) and Ruh (Spirit). (2)
Dr Samuel Sagan, speaks of transforming consciousness and awakening as part of first hand experiences of consciousness. An aim of the Clairvision School techniques is to put the individual in the drivers seat to direct their own development and transformation. (3)
The psychology of a spiritual path is of great interest to me. I have explored with great interest Sufi devotional practices and will use that path as an example here because I know more about the Sufi path than the Buddhist path. The Sufi path is transformation from the heart through service and devotion to God. It is this process of unconditional opening our heart to God that underpins all Sufi teachings.
For me, the most obvious distinction between primarily western approaches to self examination and change, and spiritual paths to transformation – is heartness. Of course there are many other distinctions but there is no spirit without heart and developing heartness and strength of heartness is what emerges in those who follow devotional paths such as Sufism, Hinduism, Budhism, and of course, Judaism, Christianity and Gnosticism.
From this very personal and individual realisation, I have developed a simple way of filtering messages from different spiritual traditions. If the speaker or the literature has no heart, I don’t waste my time.
For heartness to be a guide for someone’s spiritual path, it must have strength, which could also be described as will. Marshmallow heartness is not going to take us very far in any direction simply because it can’t support will and a lot of will is needed to transform. In my experience, many so called ‘New Age’ traditions, rest on what I describe as marshmallow heartness. That’s nice for them but it’s not for me and my approach to transformational change.
Rick Warren strikes me as someone who has followed his heart from his Christian standpoint. (4) This talk he gives on TED regarding life purpose is exceptionally inspiring in the simplicity of his heartness. In the talk he makes many references to the emptiness of the material life and transformation through change.
What are some of the basic principles of personal change? There are many more but in some ways they all lead back to these principles.
First and foremost – change is a process, not an intervention. We cannot expect change to happen because we do something with that aim. We can only expect change, by actually changing. My teacher often says “You can’t fix your problems but if you change, your problems simply go away”. (5)
Self examination is a critical step: Understanding what we are hungry for. What we think we are hungry for is usually just the first layer. Stripping away those layers is essential. If we simply take the first desire, we are often disappointed because fulfilment of that desire does not satisfy the hunger. Some spiritual teachers will often give the student too much of what they hunger for. At first that may seem counterintuitive but often it is not until we are absolutely fed up with the desire that we think we want, that we can move on to discover other deeper desires.
Stepping aside from the pride of the small ego: This is a complex spiritual and psychological issue, however my own experience is that the pride of the small ego is a barrier to our deeper self. Unless we are prepared to forego the small ego’s desire for satisfaction through pride, we tend to go around in circles. The Sufis tell a wonderful story on this topic (6). A Sufi scholar went to a Sufi master after hearing him speak and pleaded:
“O master! For thirty years I have been fasting in the daytime and remained standing at night in prayers. I have left all my passions. But I feel in my heart nothing at all of what you are talking about, although I believe in what you say and I know that you are telling the truth”. The master replied:
“Even if you fast for three hundred years and keep standing in night prayers for three hundred years while you are (in the state in which) I see you, you will not experience one atom of this knowledge.”
“The man asked, ‘Why, O master?’ The master answered, ‘Because you are veiled by your own self’”.
In other words, the scholarship of the man had taken him as far as he could go on his spiritual path. His next step required him to let go of who he thought he was and become someone different. To change. To become more of himself.
In the example of the Sufi scholar, intuitively we imagine that he would not be expected to give up Islam in order to be enlightened. I think not. But I do think that he would have to need to give up many belief systems that no longer served his path. It might be the belief that if he meditated and if he prayed he would find knowledge of God. Personally I think that the master was pointing to a certain arrogance that may arise from the belief that we are entitled to receive Grace when we meditate and pray.
The only way we could discover what could be discarded and who we really are, is to follow a path of self examination, seeking self knowledge – the critical step involved in the spiritual path and the desire for transformational change.
The Ancient Greek aphorism which was inscribed on the forecourt of the Temple of the Great Apollo at Delphi says:
“Know thyself”. (7)
With this Ancient Greek aphorism in mind, it seems to me that seeking self knowledge has been the critical step on the path to God, and the gods, for a very long time.
(6) Sheykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, The Sufi Science of Self-Realization. The Institute for Spiritual and Cultural Advancement. Louisville, KY. 2006.