I went through a period of profound purification caused by Tapas (spiritual austerities) the past two months.
While we go through this heavy, dark period of Angst and depression,
the mind is not fickle about helping us forget that the purifying aspects of tapas is not only a part of the
but an essential clearing out of samskaras--old habits/tendencies etched in the fabric
of our subconscious minds.
In the midst of this round of purification,
the elephant I was wrestling in the dark was unadulterated Fear.
Fear, in any form, always comes back to fear of Death. Always.
For me, it was not so much my own mortality I was fearing. I made peace with
my mortality years ago. I would have to in order to navigate my way through life
with these spinal cord injuries and severe nerve pain.
A decade ago I used to say I had no fear of death,
I only had fear of living the rest of my life
in this hellish pain.
I was not wrestling with fear of my own death, it was more a fear of those around me dying.
Not being physically able to care for myself compounded the angst. (It's not surprising to me that dealing with unadulterated fear was at the center of my tapasya. In the past ten months, 13 friends and family members have died. Yama's been a busy god of death in my area as of late.)
During the purifying process, we tend to feel once removed
from the Self within-- the Atman, our truest and highest Self (aka God, Pure Consciousness, insert your word of choice here ______).
It's not that we forget that the Self/God dwells within the Heart Center,
we simply cannot access this sanctuary freely. Our mind helps us forget the portals of entry, be it chanting, meditating, practicing hatha, kriya, or jnana yoga. We don't feel it's innate pull, the longing to get back. This causes more angst, and, as mentioned above,
the mind is not going to remind you how to access the Self within.
The ego enjoys dragging us back down
to its state of ignorance.
It's at this time that some lose faith;
they feel forsaken.
It's at this time we must Trust.
If God, in the form of Pure Consciousness,
has created everything, everywhere,
how could God ever leave?
Where could he go that he is not already?
If God is everywhere,
He cannot leave.
Hence, there is no "finding" God/The Self within and without,
only discovering and remembrance of That which always was present, even if we weren't.
Once we realize that our angst, depression, and heaviness of Heart
is a causal effect of tapas--
once we remember what we forgot (that we are the Self within),
we sometimes get angry at God for hiding His presence from us.
This is a good time to contemplate the word grace.
The Nataraj, the murti (sculpture) of Lord Shiva dancing while
crushing the ego under foot,
has a five-fold function,
one of them being the ability to veil Himself from us, and
another being the giver of grace that enables us to experience Him again.
At the moment we remember the Self within--
that glorious energy center within that sages, seers, and mystic poets
have aptly coined the ocean of bliss,
that is when we bow our heads below our Hearts
and say thank you. Thank you for taking us back to ourSelves.
As the residual ash of tapas disappears,
we find ourselves back in union with our true nature.
I experienced this today in the form of crying tears of joy
45 minutes into meditation.
I Witnessed myself not as my body,
but as the one who knows I have a body.
Not as the one who is in pain,
but as the one who knows I experience pain.
I became The Witness, experiencing pure awareness.
Jesus revealed Himself in my Heart Center,
along with Hanuman, Krshna, Bade Baba Nityananada, Baba Muktananda, Swami Chidvilasananda Paramahansa; all of the great bhaktas were dancing within,
reminding me they had never left,
but were only shadowed by the ignorance of the small mind.
And so I say Thank You
For showing me what I need to hold on to,
and what I can leave behind.
Thank you for this gift of tapas that felt like hell,
but left me stronger and wiser.
And perhaps chipped away at that pesky ego that keeps me bound.
So Much Love,
Photo & Essay © 2015 D.L. Bhakti Brophy
All Rights Reserved. Jai Bhakti™