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What is View?

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

I talk a lot about View here on Living Tantra. I even capitalize the word. It must be important, but what does “View” mean?

Here’s a funny story that will help you to understand.

Let’s say I meet a man. He tells me “hop like this.” He demonstrates a few hops.

I start hopping.

The man shouts some encouraging words. “Good going!” “Nice form!”

Now, there I am hopping up and down.

I have no idea why I am hopping. I don’t know where all of this hopping is taking me. I don’t even know where I am. I just know that my old life wasn’t working for me, and I’m ready to try anything.

So, I make up a story. Hopping must be beneficial for me. It gets me off of the ground. I go up when I hop. I’ve heard somewhere else that up is good. Up is better than down! I decide then and there that the point of hopping is to eventually be able to stay up. I concentrate very hard on “up.” “Up, up, up, up,” I chant to myself.

I notice I am getting tired. And thirsty. And my feet hurt. But this is all good. I must keep going and overcome. Once my body no longer bothers me, I will be able to stay up.

Suddenly, the world goes dark. I can no longer feel my body! I have transcended! Yippee!

Next thing I know, a nurse is shaking my shoulder. I am in the hospital on an I.V. being treated for dehydration and exhaustion.

This is how many people approach their spiritual lives. We begin a practice without any knowledge of our unique condition, the aim of the practice, or the correct attitude to cultivate while doing it. For instance, in most U.S. yoga classes, Surya Namaskar is a staple series of poses. Yet this series is not good for every type of person. And there are many other practical and esoteric aspects of this practice beyond simply going through the motions.

Or a friend tells us about a meditation class. We go to it and learn a technique involving a lot of concentration, or continuous observation of our thoughts or our breath. We think this is meditation, and no one tells us differently. A person could spend an entire lifetime practicing these techniques, not realize the wider context in which one might undertake these activities, and never move on to discover true contemplation.

Another thing that commonly happens is that people apply the assumptions of the Judeo-Christian tradition to a yogic practice. In the vacuum created by the absence of View teachings, the View we learned as a child–”up is good”– rushes in to fill the empty space. This transcendentalist View creates limitations and the possibility of strange results, such as mistaking disturbed prana, or exhaustion, for enlightenment.

View teachings give you the correct context and the correct orientation for your practice. View teachings are like instant clarity shared with you by your teacher. Your teacher has embodied insight gained through many years of sincere practice. She imparts this to you along with instructions about what to do. She tells you what attitude to adopt while practicing so that you don’t go off on a tangent based on your own egoic self-concept or received ideas.

For instance, many of us long for spiritual experiences and signs that we are great. We have a tendency to over-interpret inconsequential events and fool ourselves into thinking something “amazing” has occurred. If you spend your precious human lifetime in a state of attachment to “amazing” experiences, you will never actually Self-realize. So, you have fed your ego, but you remain in a state of malnourishment. A teacher gives you correct View so that you can recognize these patterns and relax them.

Many people also have a harmful relationship to effort. We strain and struggle, or we are slothful and lazy. These are both symptoms of wrong View and the energy imbalances that the activities spawned by wrong View engender. Let’s say we are always fighting and struggling through our spiritual practice. We want to get to the “top.” And we very much like spicy foods. And we gravitate toward strenuous, heat-producing types of practice. All of these things, the concept of fighting and struggle, and our eating habits, are connected.

It is famously said that View is the orientation, View is the practice, and View is the fruit.

View teaches us how to live in tune with Nature. We practice living in tune with Nature. And we gain the capacity to live in tune with Nature.
The supreme fruit of View teachings is the capacity to fully embody the View in our daily lives.

View teachings guide every aspect of the Tantrik practitioner’s life and keep you from going off track when you are in danger of falling into mistaken ideas and practices due to your attachments and ignorance of Nature.

Ignorance of Nature is nothing but non-realization. Realization is nothing but living the View or knowledge of Nature.

In Matriseva,
Shambhavi

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