Spirit Offerings

I have been giving spirit offerings daily for about two years now and it has quite quickly become one of my main spiritual practices. I tend to do one main offering everyday and maybe one or two ‘energy offerings’ while at work or out and about. The whole experience is fun and highly enjoyable for me and has benefitted me in a variety of ways.

 

There are many ways to give offerings. I tend to give them a glass or hot tea, candles, nuts or a small picture. You can even give an offering of a song that you sing or even a storytelling session- there are many appropriate and enriching things to give them.

These simple acts of generosity are fruitful ways to improve your spiritual life. Spirit offerings are a great way to open up to the universe and have a truly interactive experience with it. Not only is it fun to find and give offerings but the boons that come from acts of generosity to the spirits will far exceed your expectations.

I also give offerings to the many bodhisattva’s that exist within the Buddhist tradition, invoking them through mantra or through some other form of invocation and then giving them an appropriate offering.

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I came across a good quote about spirit offerings in, ‘The Sorcerers Secrets’ by Jason Miller.

“By making offerings to the ruling powers, local spirits, and even to the land and sky you are building a relationship, just like a relationship between two people. The older and more firm your relationship with the universe, the more apt it is to help you out when you need it. By serving the local spirits of your area you will gain allies that will not only respond when summoned, but act on your behalf of their own accord… On the other side of the coin, not all spirits are friendly. Some are naturally wrathful. Others act in retribution for actions that we take that have consequences in spiritual dimensions… offerings are [also] a pacifying practice that protects by offering an olive branch to hostile spirits and elemental forces.”

There are many traditions and rites that give a focus on giving offerings to disembodied beings (take your pick). Many of the original shamanic magical practices of early man simply involve giving the right offerings to the right powers for the benefit of the community or individual. Interacting with spirits is something that is deeply embedded in the history and culture of the distant past of humanity. These types of practices still exist in the world. Shamanic practices are still very much a part of communities within Mongolia for example. A shaman has a very specific role, travelling to and from the spirit world to talk to spirits for the sake of their community,  serving as a bridge between the spirits and their community.

In the western world spirit practices seem to be more formalised. There are hundreds of grimoires dedicated on to how to invoke, bind and interact with spirits. Ceremonial magic is a thriving (seemingly under the radar) practice and many societies and groups have been created in the west in order for modern magicians to work with spirits and interact with reality. Grimories like the Goetia have a whole list of spirits with diagrams, symbols, ritual instruments and so on to call up demons for various purposes.

I think that one of the greatest ways to interact with spirits are through simple practices. You could leave some jam and bread under a tree, you could leave some incense and a candle on a shrine, you could pour a libation on the ground and dedicate it to the spirits of the surrounding area…

The universe is there to help you. It is your divine right to interact with reality and allow the microcosm and macrocosm to enrich each other.

 

Blessings.

Aham Prema

 

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On the 4th February 2016 I woke up with a need to say the ‘Aham Prema’ mantra. Over the past few weeks I had realised that my mind had gone a bit off kilter and I needed to get to that place of equilibrium again. I needed to realign with my true values.

I began chanting Aham Prema on the bus to work, throughout the day, before I went to bed and while I was falling asleep. Over the following days I became increasingly devoted to reciting the mantra and spent a long time going over the mantra in my head while I was doing my daily activities.

Here is an extract from Thomas Ashley- Farrand in his book, ‘Shakti Mantras’:

“With this simple mantra, you affirm your own essential nature as one of Divine Love. The vibration of this mantra begins the process of transforming your entire body, being, nature, and spirit into an emanation, your own particular emanation, of Divine Love. “

The meaning of Aham Prema is simple. It means ‘I Am Divine Love’. If recited with devotion over a long period of time, it will completely change you and make you a living embodiment of love. When you invoke this quality in yourself, love will begin to permeate more strongly in every aspect of your life, every situation, every interaction.

It is a life transforming mantra.

It promotes self- love  and when this happens it gives the opportunity for you to love the universe more and for the universe to show you that love back to you. If you give out love, love will be given to you. This mantra can change your whole experience. Love is transcendental and selfless and it is what we truly are. Once love spreads throughout our being, it will change our behaviours into pure expressions of love. These expressions will have an effect on the rest of the universe, the butterfly effect will take it’s course, and you will contribute to the collective uplifting of all beings.

I am looking forward to see the changes in the universe.

Blessings

 

 

The Idea Consciousness

I have been trying to observe what comes into my mind at the mid-point between going to sleep and being awake. In that vague and abstract place, thoughts unfamiliar and illuminating have come to me. Many creative people keep a pen and paper by their beds every night for when this mental event brings itself into their awareness. However, what is this state and why is it so significant for so many creative people?

I began to investigate into this phenomenon. It became apparent that as you lose consciousness, your mind becomes closer and closer to your subconscious mind. For example, the author Robert Louis Stevenson used to ask his subconscious mind to evolve stories for him while he slept. Whenever his bank account was low, he would ask his subconscious mind to gift him with a good, marketable book. He said that this inner mind gave him complete books in small snippets, which he then put together and published.

Likewise, the recently successfully Japanese comic book creator, Hajime Isayama, who created the vastly popular manga series Attack on Titan, attributed all of his ideas as coming to him at a period every night he called ‘Super Enlightenment Time’: “When I’m half awake, just before I drift off to sleep, my mind gets flooded with information… subconsciously…”.

Is this true? Does the veil between the unconscious and the conscious becomes less dense in this state? Can writers and artists channel their art from this strange mind?

In his book The Power of the Subconscious Mind, Dr Joseph Murphy writes: “Within the subconscious depths lie infinite wisdom, infinite power, and infinite supply of all that is necessary, which is waiting for development and expression… Though invisible, its forces are mighty… you will find the solution for every problem, and the cause for every effect.”

This inner power has also been hinted at in psychology and mysticism. Carl Jung introduced the idea that all beings have both a personal and a shared mind in their ‘collective unconsciousness’. In the traditions of mysticism, this collective unconscious is called ‘the astral plane’ – a place where every single thought that any human has ever had exists.

This plane of existence can be touched upon and manipulated through the imagination. As certain mystic traditions state, humans can tap into the astral world and bring back remnants into their waking consciousness. This permeates the whole of the universe and is named as being ‘the foundation’ because it is from this that all matter is built upon. Every human being is connected to it and shares this one mind. In the Kabbalah, the sephirah of Yesod is attributed to the astral world and is also referred to as ‘the Soul of the World.’ Through astral projection, a mystic may be able to dive into this infinite world of ideas, concepts and experiences and gain great insights and inspirations. To the normal human being, we may touch upon this world through sleep and through the in-between, which is the Idea Consciousness.

The astral world can be understood as the unconscious mind, a mind that can be summed up as the collective mind of all life. When we are nearing sleep, be aware that you are closer to your unconscious mind – that you are disconnecting yourself from your conscious, individual mind and diving into the realm of an infinite world of ideas.

Sanskrit Mantra

I have been using mantras for various reasons for a while now. They are perfect tools for quieting the mind and getting in touch with the quiet, open space within you. I have made it my goal to chant at least one round of mantras per day for the rest of 2016 and to dedicate myself to at least three 40 day mantra disciplines this year.

On top of my regular practice I have been sitting down to ‘mantra meditate’ between 10 minutes to one hour per day, letting the mantra go around in my head, being aware of the experience as I create the mantra sound internally.

The mantra’s I am planning to work with are:

– AHAM PREMA- This phrase simply means, “I am Divine Love.” This mantra affirms and invokes the divine love in you and leads to deep inner transformation. The events of your life will run smoother and you will be infused with the holy love that is in you and in all things.

-NAMO KUAN SHI YIN PU SA- This is the mantra of Kuan Yin, the female version of Avalokateshwara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. She is known as one who, “hears the sounds and cries of the world”. I intend this practice to be purely devotional, bringing her presence and blessings into my life.

-OM SRI SHANAISHWARAYA SWAHA- This is the mantra associated with the planet Saturn. It helps to clear up karma and therefore will make your life run more smoothly and happily.

– OM MANI PADME HUM- Perhaps the most widely used mantra in the world. It is the mantra formula for Avalokateshwara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It roughly means ‘Hail to you, jewel in the lotus’. It is used as a prayer for many people around the world and is said to help in raise the world to a higher vibration.

Since using mantras I have been laughing to myself more regularly and I have become more aware of the subtle sensations in my body. My mind also seems to be much quieter and the experiences I have when I am half asleep have become more potent for some reason. My enthusiasm for my passions and life pursuits have increased.

Mantra recitation is getting to be one of the best and most important practices in my spiritual life apart from meditation. It brings you new and beneficial states of mind and the effects of each mantra tend to always be positive and are strong ways to progress spiritually.

On Self- Change and Spiritual Development

For those who are serious practitioners of the spiritual path it seems obvious to comment that self- change and development is hard. It can lead you into all sorts of inner and outer circumstances both painful and liberating. You have to churn out all of the difficult and uncomfortable aspects of your psyche and face them unblinkingly.

The spiritual urge is one of the greatest impulses in the universe. Reality is always pushing you to change and evolve and to jump on the spiritual bandwagon and ride the wave (I don’t know why I am using a metaphor of surfing on a bandwagon by the way… just go with it). It is the most painful, the most blissful and rewarding thing you can do with your life and probably the most natural (I’m talking about spirituality development… not surfing on a bandwagon).

Such experiences can turn you inside out. I’m writing this because I have recently got out a a particularly strange and confounding stage in my personal development. I was lucky enough to be on a retreat at the Adhisthana Retreat Centre in Hertfordshire (part of the Triratna Buddhist Order). Things were brought up that I had hardly been aware of for most of my life but were very familiar to me when they came bursting out from the depths. I felt very supported by the order members and friends that were around me during the retreat, letting me work through what was going on. It was a strange and necessary process and I expect there to be a few more of these experiences in the future.

… When I got out of the eye of the hurricane I felt warmer, different and grateful. I still felt the same on the surface level but I knew that something deeply had changed within me. I felt like rededicating myself more fully and devotedly to my spiritual path.

I wonder what the next hurdle will be in my spiritual development?

 

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On Nothingness.

What does it mean to know that everything is empty? Here are some meditations.

  1. There is nothing that you own.

(i.) Do you own your body? Your body is a ‘painted image’. It may look solid but underneath is a writhing mass of atoms and molecules, bacteria, cells and all forms of microscopic life. It is in truth a writhing mass. Not only that but every seven or so years, your body regenerates all of its cells and becomes a completely new body. This thing that many people identify themselves with morphs, grows saggy and eventually dissipates for one last time after consciousness has departed. All things change in this body of yours. Cells die and new ones come into being. The universe gives you atoms and takes some away from this so called solid object. What part of this body do you own exactly? This body (or should I say ‘these bodies’)  are always passing you by like cars as you wait to cross the road. It just isn’t you.

(ii.) Let us turn attention to your thoughts and your internal conditioning/ programming. What do these parts of your experience say about you? Thoughts are powerful things. They are strong contributors to your personal reality and if some thoughts are given persistent intention, they become part of your programming and unconscious motivations, shaping your personality and attracting either good or bad things to you, depending on the nature of these thoughts. These thought pop into your experience, stay there for a while, disappear or become part of your conditioning. Old conditioning eventually fades away and no longer affects your being. Old programming comes out, new programming comes in. In a matter of time you may become an entirely new person. This alone proves that your ego, your view about yourself is nothing but a series of habits. Your personality can be chopped and changed through conscious effort. You are not your personality.

(iii.) Do you own the things that exist in your life? Do you own your clothes, your house, your books, your TV etc. Think about it.

Do you own them or are they merely things that appear in your experience? You pass money electronically or through metal or paper/ cloth talismans… but then again isn’t the money that you use to buy these items also just also items and numbers that appear in your experience? Items come in and out of your experience.

2. What is the one things that stays?

All of these things come into your experience and then passes away. The baby version of you passes away and gives way to adult you. Cells die and drop off your body, being replaced by new ones. Experiences in your life come and go.

You are experiencing the process of being a human.

What stays?

You stay.

But if you are not these things then what are you?

You are nothing. You are nothing experiencing all of these things.

Everything is nothing pretending to be something.

What is this universe? The universe comprises of everything. The universe is the stars, galaxies, the sun and the planets that move around it, quasars, asteroids…

What is it that makes all of these things HAPPEN? What makes stars to be born? What makes the planets move around the sun? What develops the baby in the womb?

Nothing does all of these things. And you are nothing. You are the universe.

Look inside yourself. See that nothingness. That nothingness is the nothingness of the universe.