Meditation: Radiance Sutras
By Dr. Lorin Roche
I don’t know about you, but when I meditate, my mind does not go blank. It’s an inner wilderness adventure. I close my eyes and blam, it’s wild in here. There is a whirl of thoughts and feelings, a hundred sticky notes of things to do. When I tend to each thought, it reveals itself as a sizzling little packet of energy in motion – an impulse to take care of something in the outer world, a relationship between me and someone or something else.
What my brain perceives as a thought is the magnetic charge of my connection with the world. At first the thoughts are slightly painful, a mild electric shock, but as I accept them, they give me energy. When I give them space, the thoughts change the way they flow. It no longer feels like they are in my head; they are flows of energy from the outer world, through me, and into the world again. I am some kind of quiet tornado, made out of magnetism and streaming energies.
As I awaken to this flow, the whirl turns into a hum and the hum turns into OM, a dynamic and harmonious vibration. The OM sings to me. I hear the OM, feel it vibrating; see it glowing. It leads me home, into my essence, my essential nature.
Meditating in this way I transition from chaotically wild to wildly serene. I become as peaceful as a river undulating through a mountain gorge. It always amazes me that this works. The more I embrace the wildness, the more peaceful I can be.
In the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva sings to Shakti:
There is a current of love-energy that flows
Between Earth below and the Sun above.
The central channel of your spine is the riverbed.
The streaming is as delicate and powerful
As the tingling touch of lovers.
Radiance arches between above and below.
The whole attention resting in the nerve,
Vibrating in the center of the spinal column,
Tracing this current between Earth and Sun,
Become magnetism relating all the worlds.
madhyanādī madhyasamsthā bisasūtrābharūpayā
dhyātāntarvyomayā devyā tayā devah prakāsate 35
madhya –in the middle, also, the intersection of two rhythms; nadi – energy vein in the body; madhya samstha – situated in the middle; bisa sutra – like the tubular stalk of a lotus stem; rupaya – by means of the appearance or the form; dhyata – meditated upon; antar vyomaya – by means of inner space; devya taya – by Devi; devah – by the Divine; prakasate –is revealed.
By tradition, madhyanadi refers to the middle energy flow, sometimes called sushumna. A literal rendition of this sutra might be, “In the central pathway of the spine, there is a vein through which the life force flows. Within that vein, there is spaciousness. By means of that space, by means of the Goddess, the divine is revealed.”
We do not make the pranashakti flow by willpower; we don’t have to push the river. The current of energy is a gift of the Goddess. A consistent yoga practice helps prepare us in body and mind to receive the gift. The revelation described in this sutra can happen to you spontaneously when in the presence of great beauty, outside on the Earth under a huge sky – the mind goes silent in awe, and there is a tingle of contact with the divine. We are graced when this happens, for it happens by itself, by means of Devi.
Yet this elemental power and beauty is our nature, both wild and serene. The dance between these opposites is the stuff of love, creativity and vitality. When we are outside in the wilderness, we often remember something about ourselves, something essential. We enter a bigger space, become absorbed in our connection to that larger body. We feel more in balance. It is the same when we turn our attention inward in meditation. We encounter the wild space of the inner world – the flowing currents of all our passions and energies as they move into deeper harmony.
As a meditation teacher, most people I talk to are startled at how wild their mind is, and think this means there is something wrong with them. Quite the contrary, this is the pulsation of your relatedness to life. Trying to suppress passion only succeeds in creating war with our inner nature – and deprives us of our vibrancy and enthusiasm. Accepting the intensity of the energies is a challenge, and yoga is a way of embracing that challenge. This sutra reminds us of the big picture. The wilderness is right here, inside us. Our bodies are not hermetically sealed little bubbles floating in infinity. We are conduits of love energy, continually dancing with the larger forces of life.