Overview

Here at TiltedCandle, I use my understanding of modern hypnotism to unpack ancient spiritual practices and identify common elements in different ancient techniques.

This post indexes the good stuff you can find here on TiltedCandle.

Ultra-short menu:

Blurbs for each one …. More

What Are You Saying? — Writing The Best Spirituality Blog Content

Earlier I argued that people skim blogs more than read them, and this means a good spirituality blog is written to be skimmed.  They’ll slow down to focus in on what they don’t know.  When you hide your ideas in cluttered writing that assumes the reader already understands you, your readers will not learn from you. http://wp.me/p2ukOd-92

I had a terrible boss once who, when you asked a simple question, would tell you everything she knew about the subject.  If you asked where you should park, she would tell you the history of the parking lot, explain the company’s relationship with the property owner, contrast this with other locations, and somewhere in there, if you were lucky, would be where you could or could not park.

After a couple weeks, I learned to nod — “Uh huh.  Uh huh.”  — and ignore her.  My ears would sharpen when she said something relevant to what I wanted to know.  That’s how people have learned to read internet material, for similar reasons.

We do not naturally write the same way we read.  Most people tend to write long-winded, assuming our readers will read every word.  Especially spirituality blogs.  Writing and clarity are learned.

Write your posts in a logical structure so your readers will understand you clearly.

Blogging is basically magazine writing.  It’s a little bit of sales, some technical writing — might not be about technology, but it’s still “how-to” — and some thesis-support, argumentative writing.  All this is done in a “report the facts” newspaper style.

Usually you provide value by telling your readers how to solve a problem.  So there’s a how-to element.  The form is to convince your reader the problem merits attention.  That’s sales.  Finally, you must convince them your solution is worth trying, which means presenting arguments and evidence.

–This kind of writing is a spin-off of sales.  In many ways it’s like writing a sermon, but it’s not bound to a text and the mode of discovery is tangible. More

Blogging Tips To Write The Best Spirituality Blogs

Looking over spirituality blogs to see how it’s done, I find that many of the blogs with the best content have the worst organization.  Since I understand well how to organize a blog, I’m writing this post for the benefit of the online spiritual community.

You might think that good organization comes second to good content, but ask:  What good is great content if people can’t find it?

Spiritual blogs have three types of problems.  They are problems in the writing, problems in the organization of the articles, and problems in the layouts.  The content is great.  Spiritual bloggers are spiritual people.

The writing problems I’m seeing are not problems in writing — they are problems in not writing.

Think about how you read things on the internet.  You skim.  Everyone skims on the internet.  You skim because you are not certain that the information is what you’re looking for, and you want to weed through what is irrelevant to get to what is relevant. More

End of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series

Hamburger Heaven

Culturally, Hindus don’t eat cows.  A Hindu man living in America once told my father he eats cows when he’s over here because, “In this country you have a different breed.”  But in India, he didn’t eat them.

(4 Yogas Main) This ends the TiltedCandle series on Hinduism’s 4 Yogas. Boiled down to the basic drivers that make the 4 Yogas go, we have: wp.me/p2ukOd-5W

  • To identify with the soul and not the body.
  • To love God.
  • Selflessness by priority: to become selfless in devotion to the common good.
  • Selflessness by wisdom: to know the mind of God so well one’s Self is simply not important.

You can see each driver is essentially the same pattern, adapted to different functions of the soul: using deep understanding, or love, or the tendency to take action, or mental focus. Therefore you can put yourself through the same pattern with your mind, your heart, your will, or your identity.

A monk who meditates for a living and a worshipper who participates in ecstatic dance are not really doing different things.  They are using different parts of their humanity to do the same thing.

The pattern of Christianity, to love the world, is not fundamentally different from the Bhakti notion of loving God. In fact, when Christ was asked what the most important commandment was, he said, “To love God. The second most important, which is like the first, is to love your fellow man.”

More

Raja Yoga — The Way of Meditation (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

English: Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978)

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906 – 1978)

(4 Yogas Main) The Yoga of Meditation is for the experimental type.

The steps in this process are:

0. As a preliminary step learn physical stillness and mental focus.
1. Learn to direct the attention inward, shutting out the external world.
2. Focus on the object of meditation until there is no self, until forms dissolve.  There is then only the object of focus.

Buddhism can be classified as a kind of Raja Yoga, in much the same way Christianity can be considered a kind of Bhakti Yoga.

The disadvantage of this kind of yoga, of course, is that it is hard.  However, if you are the kind of person who likes abstract thought, you should know that it can be a vehicle to approach the Divine.

Kurt Godel is known for his incompleteness theorem, which proved that any non-contradictory form of proof could not demonstrate all possible truths expressible within its own system.

Godel is not known as a man of God, but that appear to be what he was.  He seems to have used a kind of “math yoga” to approach the Divine.

Rudy Rucker, before he became a science-fiction writer, was a mathematician who met with Godel several times.  This is of special value to us because Rucker was already leaning toward mysticism, and talked with Godel on the topic of using mental focus to contact the Absolute.

Rucker, in his Infinity and the Mind, reports asking Godel what he meant when he said he does “objective mathematics.”

Everyone believes that the Empire State Building is real, because it is possible for almost anyone to go and see it for himself.  By the same token, anyone who takes the trouble to learn some mathematics can “see” the set of natural numbers for himself.  So, Godel reasoned, it must be that the set of natural numbers has an independent existence as a certain abstract possibility of thought.

I asked him how best to perceive pure abstract possibility.  He said three things.  i) First one must close off the other senses, for instance, by lying down in a quiet place.  … ii) It is a mistake to let everyday reality condition possibility, and only to imagine the combinings and permutations of physical objects — the mind is capable of directly perceiving infinite sets. iii) The ultimate goal of such thought, and of all philosophy, is the perception of the Absolute.  Godel rounded off these comments with a remark on Plato: “When Plautus could fully perceive the Good, his philosophy ended.” More

Karma Yoga — The Way of Work (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

English: Mother Theresa with Dr. S. Brahmochary

Mother Teresa with Dr. S. Brahmochary

(4 Yogas Main) Karma Yoga — The Way of Work — is for the active type of person. There are two modes.  wp.me/p2ukOd-5S

A. emotional mode. Work with no attachment to success, focused on one’s duty to the community.

B. reflective mode. Witnessing of self, focused on duty with no notion of profit.

In either mode, the essential ingredient is selfless devotion to service.

In modernity, the one person most known for selfless devotion to service is undoubtedly Mother Teresa.  She was already a nun, traveling to her new home convent in Calcutta, when she got what she described as “the Call within the Call,” to serve the needs of the poor and hungry.  She explained that this was a command from heaven.

More

Bhakti Yoga — The Way of Love (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

Krishna and Putana - ISKCON desire tree

Krishna and Putana – Hare Krishna (ISKCON) painting

Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Love, is for the passionate type of person (4 Yogas Main).

The process is:

  1. Adopt God as an object of obsessive love.
  2. Connect to God using every form of love:  parent-child, friend, lover.
  3. Adopt a specific manifestation of God — in Hinduism, a particular diety — as your primary image and symbol of God. Make all others secondary.

The Hare Krishnas are the most well-known for Bhakti Yoga.  Their group worship consists of singing and dancing.  The musician sings a round of the chant, which is in Sanskrit (the sacred language of India — think of Latin in Europe), and the congregation repeats it.

Typically this begins with the congregation half-singing, half mumbling the chant — just like Christians singing hymns in church — but they get more and more into it, more and more worked up, like teenagers at a pep rally.

Individual worship may consist of chanting, reading the Bhagavad-Gita, saying rosaries, or so forth.

The purpose of all this is to get the person worked up and emotionally involved with the diety.  The Hare Krishnas have the goal of so fixating on their desire to be with God that they are totally focused on this at the time of their death.  The name of this mental state is “Krishna consciousness” and the effect is to ensure that they go to Krishna in the after-life.

Hindus often regard Christianity as a kind of Bhakti yoga.  Christ said that the most important commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your being.  He also said that the second commandment, which is like the first, is to love humanity in the same way. More

Jnana Yoga — The Way of the Mystic (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

Carl-Jung-mod

Carl Jung as a young man. Carl Jung would be the exemplary Jnana yogi of modern times.

Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge, the way of the mystic (4 Yogas Main). It is the yoga best suited to the reflective type of person.

The process of Jnana yoga is:

1. Research the theory of the soul.
2. Realize its truth by metaphor.
3. Identify with the soul, not the body. Be the witness — observe your Self as if from an impartial observer.

The theory of the soul.  In modern terms, one may benefit from learning dream interpretation and studying  Gestalt therapy.  Properly ‘psyche’ means ‘soul,’ and psychology therefore means the study of the soul.  Modern psychology that is framed in the terminology of hard science, considering consciousness to be an effect of chemical reactions in the brain, is less useful for these purposes.

Therefore you might read Carl Jung or study dream interpretation.  Dream interpretation is particularly useful here because it is the study of metaphor.

Carl Jung is a master of understanding dreams as parables, and sees them in the same light as myths.  They are part of the uncanny working of the human mind.

Why metaphor?  Metaphor is a kind of reverse dream interpretation.  Here you are using the same symbolic meaning encoding process to realize a teaching with your dreaming mind.

Identify with the soul.  The soul is that which radically survives death.   Hindus believe that the bodily spirit in some part and to some degree survives death, to become reincarnated as a new person.  But it is the nature of the bodily spirit to become embodied, and that comes along with inherent problems.  Things for embodied people don’t work out, or when they do work out it is by its nature temporary. More

The 5 Abstentions and the 5 Observances (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

Facepage of the October 2007 issue of Hinduism...

Facepage of the October 2007 issue of Hinduism Today

(4 Yogas Main) Once a person decides to seek enlightenment, there are 5 Abstentions and 5 Observations that are a preliminary step to the productive work of the relevant Yoga.

5 Abstentions:

  • doing injury
  • lying
  • stealing
  • sensuality
  • greed

5 Observances:

  • cleanliness
  • contentment
  • self-control
  • studiousness
  • contemplation of the Divine

On the one hand, this is basic stuff.  On the other, to actually live it requires great devotion.

There’s a story of a holy man who saw a beetle drowning in a pool of water, and used a branch to fish it out.  It fell back in, and he helped it out again.  They kept on like that, one falling in and the other helping it out, until the man’s student said, “Master, why do you keep doing that when you know it’s the creature’s nature to fall into the water?”

He replied, “Why do you ask when you know it’s my nature to help it out?”

The 5 Abstentions and the 5 Observances are part of the path of spiritual renunciation.  You can think of them as prerequisites to any of the 4 Yogas.

Normal People Are On The Path, Too (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

The general teaching in Hinduism is that everyone is on the spiritual path. (4 Yogas main)  This is understood as a long-term evolution of the soul that proceeds through many lifetimes.  Reincarnation teaches that after death we will be reborn as humans (or possibly as animals) and that we have been through many lives leading up to this one.

People who have not progressed far are on the path of desire.

The Path of Desire More

Previous Older Entries

Admin

Invisible font color EFCB9B

Continuations Map

Continuations Selections

TiltedCandle posts are in the public domain.

wordpress stats plugin
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

%d bloggers like this: