The next to last vrtti of the Anahata Vortex is contention. In general, contention is a way for the ego to defend itself against uncertainty by summoning up reasons and arguments to convince others or oneself of being right. We convince others through verbal argument, we convince ourselves through mental argument, through our inner thought conflicts. So often, when one argues with another in an effort to convince, one is really only unconsciously trying to preserve the projections of the mind from falling into doubt and uncertainty. The separate ego always needs to think that its position as center of its universe is secure.
It is all too easy for the contentious mind to fall into lower propensities like hatred, ambition, fear, shame, lack of confidence and so on. An offended ego can even come to blows with another. Since contention is a reaction to our own inferior, unaccepted and rejected parts of ourselves like shame and guilt, human beings want to project this discomfort onto somebody or something else as a psychic purge. The people who are really like us in our most hidden ways are the people who are most threatening and should be judged accordingly. When we make judgments against others we not only condemn them but our own shadowy parts as well. And so with this form of contention and judgment we create a rift and boundary between self and others and also between self and other parts of self.
From a spiritual perspective one sees contention as an attempt to defends one’s projections of how the ego fits into its personal, social, and spiritual realities. Normally, a person is not very secure within. Our beliefs are adopted from others or we anxiously or unconsciously cling to some “ideology” to secure our footing in reality. It is this very weakness in lack of true awareness that creates the need for contention. Behind most ideologies is fear and insecurity and the ideology attempts to assuage this tension. We often believe in something or someone out of ignorance, desperation, laziness, or superficial conformity. It is important to realize these parts of our personal “ideology” so we don’t fall into complacency and one-sidedness.
In the deeper sense contention is indecision. “Is this morally correct?, am I really living to my full capacity?, am I in harmony with my universe?” It is quite natural and even useful in the expansion of the mind if indecision is not carried to far. All realizations are a result of clash and cohesion. When contention internalizes it begins to touch a truer reason, balanced with intuition and compassion in the spiritual heart. Here the mind is safe and secure and can finally begin to use the discerning intellect to ask the right questions. The mind begins to ask, “Who, which part of me, is thinking this and with what motive and intention?” Through this discernment and self-knowledge we eventually learn to simply let the Witness into the thoughts and feelings, to let it purify them. This spontaneously and unintentionally changes the mind by internalizing the thoughts. If a photon is changed by our expected perception of it being a particle or a wave, then just imagine how would our thoughts and feelings and even our entire mind is changed by simply being witnessed by the Supreme Consciousness within. To surrender the mind into the sublime silence of the Witness creates a reverberation of grace as an echo from this silence. All mental distortions and problems, no matter how great, may be straitened out by making the mind parallel with the Witness, by becoming one with my source.
How can one be centered in the Witness when the mind is so confused, split, and unconscious of itself? Unifying the mind with the essence of awareness makes the mind full of this awareness and purifies all the little dark, hidden caves for psorax. By relating with the most subtle entity the mind begins to mimic that entity, instead of the shadow. Mind always wants to merge into Shiva, into Consciousness. This is its fundamental attraction. Only by going seeing beyond the mind can we truly see the mind. Mind is not the fundamental being; it is not the Witness, but is being witnessed. One can see one’s whole life, past present, and future merging into an Eternal Now from this perspective. Rilke asked, “Who really lives this life anyhow, is it you God?” The mind is known to the Witness as its own little self, a little wave on its own ocean, a self-becoming progeny being constantly and eternally born out of its Infinite being.
My friends once asked me why I didn’t get angry with a mechanic who once took my engine out, apparently reinstalled it by putting everything in its place but only tightened the nuts and bolts with his fingers. I say that somebody like that is already self-condemned. The best thing I could do for him was to rebuke him so as to try to induce a little compunction so that his attitudes no longer serve to degenerate him to even deeper levels of deceit. We condemn ourselves through our selfish and ignorant actions and may continue to suffer the reactions for a very long time. I am capable of feeling empathy for another and try to understand his point of view no matter how distorted it may be, and my only desire in wanting to reprimand him be that he reform himself so as not to continue tobe just another burden on human society. If I am capable of this state of mind, then the Macrocosmic mind must be capable of so much more. What we call god is not an avenger or punisher, but only a savior. While it is true that the laws of karma are inviolable even for god, there are subtle mechanisms that the Macrocosmic mind has evolved through the microcosm to bring erring minds back into harmony with existence. Compunction is not shame or the desire to induce shame or any other negative tendency into another. Compunction is a very deep and self-reflective pattern of very rational thoughts and emotions that save one from the self condemnations of shame. Everything that this little mind of ours does is interacting with a great universe, a conscious and intelligent system that pre-exists us and is a lot more aware than one could ever imagine. The blind and selfish mind only becomes aware of this after much suffering. Having burned oneself with the fire of suffering and alienation over and over, one finally begins to awaken and see the law of cause and effect at work.
To an awakening mind there will always be an opportunity for the intelligent moral order of the universe to create conditions of grace so as to call and welcome all microcosms back into unity with the Macrocosmic Consciousness. The signs are all around but due to selfishness and separation we cant allow ourselves to really understand them. Grace is for all but is only understood through a mature mind. This soul naturally desires a subtler form of existence and once shown the way it is only quite natural that there is a bit of compunction and compunction for having existed away from union in suffering and delusion. Compunction can only exist where there is truly a notion of discernment or viveka (the 6th propensity) to contrast and reflect the errors of the separate ego. When one truly knows that the inability to understand ones fears, attachments, resentments andambitions have locked one into an absurd existence with no real purpose, the idea of continuing or falling back into the vain traps of the ego becomes unbearable. One never wants to return to such a state because it is based in suffering and delusion. Compunction serves as a microcosmic expression of the laws of action and reaction and how they are embedded in ourmental structures and is a check and balance system for maintaining harmonious conduct with the universe. To have experienced the great wonder of existence, to have encountered a little bit of the infinite presence in a few clear moments of grace, and to sustain them through meditation and devotion will always keep ones direction onward.
Although I speak of compunction as the last mental vortex of the spiritual heart, it can just as well be considered the first if we count from below upward. Its controlling sound “tha”, is the densest vibration of the Anahata Vortex. It couples “ta”, a sound dominated by staticity and inertia with “ha”, the sound of centripetal movement. Compunction, or “tha,” therefore serves as a propensity that leads all of the dross and density of the human heart back into the purity of pure spirit. When there are no vrttis to create pride or compunction that perturb the essence of the spiritual heart, one becomes empty of form and intention but full of Infinite Consciousness. One’s self is sacrificed to the heart of the universe. While it is true that all actions of the microcosm are compensated with reactions, there are some profound patterns in the mind that truly lead the microcosm into union. These actions don’t rebound with reactions but rather dissolve themselves into the Macrocosm. “Be altogether lost in Shiva, like an arrow in its target.” Because the devoted mind really does begin to flow and find grace it is received and absorbed into the life of the universe, reactions of pain and sorrow begin cease because the ego puts up fewer and fewer projections of separation and makes fewer errors based on them. The influence of the Vishuddha Vortex enters here. Spiritual practice, no matter what name or form, must be a practical vehicle to re-align the microcosmic mental flow with that of the Macrocosmic thought projection which is this universe. To bring the mind with all of its desires, feelings and ideas into the light of the I-Witness transforms and expands the limits of the microcosm. Contemplating the ever-present Atman within one’s very own I-feeling, the microcosm undergoes spiritual, mental, and biological evolution; the structures of the mind change and vibrates on higher frequencies, and the body that it incarnates undergoes subtle metamorphoses in the nervous and endocrine systems to accompany and parallel the mental changes. Participating in evolution as a responsible individual is the greatest duty that a human being has toward the collective evolution of humanity to something truly dignified and deserving of the divine potential within.
The Free Self
When the vrttis of the spiritual heart are understood and liberated, their energy retires inward into pure idea. One feels that from the center of the chest extends an element of a subtle, invisible air that is not bound by anyform of gravity in this universe. From this realm of light and vibrant pulsing ideas manifest the entire physical universe. This universe is dominated by the play of the centripetal and centrifugal forces in a constant combat that can only be regulated by the Macrocosmic Mind that has spawned them. In this Aerial Factor we find the nexus between the abstract and material worlds. Although the aerial factor is a form of energy bound by the Macrocosmic process of creative involution, the consciousness thatpenetrates there isn’t split into particularities of time, space, or person. The I-feeling is still pure and undivided. Idea is more real than matter. To move up from here is complete dissolution of the phenomenal self into Spirit, to move down from here is the materialization of this self into the physical universe. A yogi may delight in this ecstasy: to let oneself flow outward only from the spiritual heart and aerial factor so that your being may touch every particle of the universe. Everything becomes familiar and pure, even what is impure wants to change and transform. But even this cannot be sustained by us forever, it is the drama of the Macrocosm that will go on forever and ever. There is a part of you that gazes down upon this as well.
To just go inward from here is to deliver to Shiva so many quantum, so many packets of energy, that have been trapped by Shakti’s great gravity into material form. All the star-stuff that we have taken in through digestion, through perception, through ideas and interaction are finally brought into the Intuitive Mind and liberated from all form through your recognition that only Shiva exists both within and without. We transmute creation into godhead each time we truly remember home. Mind is but the entity that regulates the within and the without, the centripetal and centrifugal. Macrocosmic mind, or Shiva, sustains and projects the desire of the entire cosmological order. The microcosmic mind was what contained and projects this whimsical bundle of ideas and impressions in time and space with a notion of your person.
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