12 August 2022

by Maria Porsfelt, Yoga & Tantra Teacher

“The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?” – Pretty Woman (1990)

Have you ever noticed how the ‘bad stuff’ is easier to believe? And how when you are ‘too happy’ you start to look for what might go wrong? Have you noticed how we often think we are being realistic if we look at something in a negative way? It is said that a pessimist always calls himself a realist. This actually expresses a psychological truth – that the ‘bad stuff’ IS easier to believe, and even attracts our attention more than good feelings and experiences do. This is called negative bias.

Studies have shown that negative news is more likely to be perceived as truthful. And as negative information draws greater attention, it can also be seen as having greater validity. This might be why bad news seems to garner more attention, and we only need to look at news headlines over any given week to know that the latter is true. Drama and scandal make the most delicious gossip.

Focusing on the whereabouts of local predators or enemies was much more important for staying safe than looking at the beauty of the flowers or a rainbow.

We all want to be happy, so why do we seem to look for the negative, and for reasons to feel bad? The explanation has a lot to do with evolution – or lack thereof, depending on the perspective! Keeping an eye out for possible dangers and threats was very useful for our cave dwelling ancestors, and was most likely a condition for survival. Focusing on the whereabouts of local predators or enemies was much more important for staying safe than looking at the beauty of the flowers or a rainbow.

Like the pain response, dwelling on negativity is a way of keeping us safe. And while we no longer need to be on constant high alert as our early ancestors needed to be to survive, negativity bias still has a starring role in the way our brains operate. Research has shown that negative bias can have a wide variety of effects on how people think, respond, and feel.

The amygdala uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news.

Negative emotions rouse the amygdala, the almond-shaped brain structure that psychologist Rick Hansen calls, “the alarm bell of your brain.” The amygdala uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news. Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences are stored in the memory very quickly, in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in the awareness for twelve seconds or more before they are transferred from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.

Not only do negative experiences imprint on our memory more easily, they also linger longer than positive ones. Generally, we are more likely to dwell on a negative comment or event than we are to take in a compliment or remember the details of a happy event. This negative bias can mean that you focus entirely on a negative aspect, even if the positive is equally or even predominantly present. You might spend a beautiful day with your family or your beloved, but in the end you remember the day mostly because of that one comment they made that bothered you.

To a large extent, emotions make up our life experience.

Research also suggests that negative bias influences the motivation to complete a task. People have less motivation if the incentive is framed as a means to gain something, than when the same incentive will help them avoid losing something. This can play a role in our motivation to pursue a goal. You are more likely to dwell on what you might have to give up to achieve that goal, or simply feel pushed by a threat of loss in your daily activities, than focus on what you will gain if you keep working towards something, or be inspired by the positive effects that achieving that goal will bring.

To a large extent, emotions make up our life experience. Imagine your life without emotions – seeing a beautiful view or having interactions with the most important people in your life with no emotional response. Emotions transform our world from a series of objective conceptual facts into a living, breathing experience, bringing us joy, sadness, longing, anger, laughter, and love. Emotions bring meaning to our life experiences, and are an important part of what it is to be human. But emotions can of course also be difficult and tormenting, making life very challenging.

…it is very important to become aware of negative bias and to counteract its effects.

With the meaning and depth the emotions you experience bring to your life, they also shape the way you relate to different people and events. Negative bias influences your relationships and your decision making. In relationships, for instance, you will expect the worst of the other, and you will focus on their flaws and mistakes. When making decisions that are influenced by negativity bias we will tend to focus excessively on potential risks, even if the chances for a positive outcome is greater, and then we can lose many great opportunities for filling life with more happiness and abundance.

Considering the huge impact it can have on our quality of life, on our experiences and the choices we make, it is very important to become aware of negative bias and to counteract its effects. And the good news is we can do something to counteract this tendency, that otherwise gains extra power because of its unconscious nature. Thankfully, any habit can be broken, even if it implies a negative attitude or perspective.

How to counter negative bias

  • Bring awareness to the ways in which you allow negative bias to impact your life
  • Learn to let your attention linger on the positive aspects for longer, so that they transfer to ‘long-term storage’. This requires patience and repetition, as the physiological part of the rewiring takes about 45 days, so consistency is key.
  • Remember you have a choice. It’s important to realise how much agency you have in letting bad comments stick with you or not. Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Refuse to consent to feeling inferior!
  • Be attentive to how you talk to yourself. Our inner dialogue is often very negative. Speak to yourself with the same kindness you would afford a friend.
  • In your love relationships make an effort to notice and acknowledge the positive qualities and actions of your beloved, and really savour the beautiful moments.
  • In your daily activities focus on and empower positive reasons that inspire you in your actions.
  • Make an effort to be at least as interested in success stories and positive news as you are in negative ones.

In time, cultivating these attitudes will create a huge shift in how you perceive life and yourself. From a certain perspective it can be said that emotions are about evolution – biologically and spiritually. Emotions bring our attention to different situations or attitudes. But also profound emotions are said to connect us to our soul, being an expression of our soul, and thus they allow us to discover who we are on a deeper level. But we need to be more aware of our emotions to shift from biological bias to the deep free expression of our soul, to connect to a more authentic way of being.

10 August 2022

by Magdalena Hau, Tantra and Yoga teacher

“A gram of practice is worth tonnes of theory.”

When properly assimilated, knowledge becomes wisdom, and we can start to see the changes such knowledge makes in our lives. We cannot simply touch knowledge on the surface, and then walk away from it imbued with deep understandings. No one can tell you how something is – you can only feel a deep understanding if it really moves in you. You need to taste it, digest it, and then allow its sweet nutritious value to seep into the soul of your being.

I can tell you how I make the most delicious cake in the world, but unless you savour it, you will never know how the cake is. And only when you really know how to make that cake, will you value its true worth.

From this perspective, the Yogis and Tantrics encourage spiritual practice as an important tool for individual evolution. It is an experiential path, not one of only reading books. Through practice and your own transformation, the knowledge becomes alive in your being, and the wisdom will sooner or later reside in your heart. If knowledge stays only as a sterile experience without living it, then it will stay on the surface and not echo and reverberate deeply within you. The teachings are guidance, but the most important ingredient is their actual use in life.

If knowledge stays only as a sterile experience without living it, then it will stay on the surface and not echo and reverberate deeply within you.

When we put in practice what we learn, we begin an eternal romance with transformation. We live in love with sadhana, with spiritual practice, we can clearly see when we easily slip into bad habits, and we learn to apply spiritual attitudes in daily life. We start to become truly independent as we know what we need to do and when, and we have the knowledge awakened within to live our lives aligned with universal principles and profound understandings.

Through practice we invite Divinity into our lives in an active way. Through practice we make our lives more sacred as we make a conscious attempt to turn the light on inside. No one can tell you what to think or how things are and make it truly believable. Deep understanding happens when we learn from our own direct experience. You need to see the results from the clinical trials of your life and your own experience.

We can learn a lot from children. They seek with a playful curiosity, and they learn from whatever they touch and see. Life unfolds during play, and they learn in their openness. In a similar way, by applying an open and non-sceptical attitude we can ‘see for ourselves’ the value of the teachings and be inspired by them.

With our hearts aspiring for true freedom, through practice we liberate the soul. By enthusiastically applying what we learn, we discover how the deepening of knowledge takes us beyond the limitations and inertia that can contain and restrict us. We see that through practice we become the connoisseur of active love in life, and each experience enriches our Heart, into the limitless freedom of our eternal nature. Through practice, we become aware of a freedom that can inspire our daily lives, that is truly authentic.

14 June 2022

THE SUMMER SOLSTICE YANG SPIRAL MEDITATIONS
Need a boost of energy? Close your eyes and imagine this. You are in astrological alignment in a physical spiral next to the ancient standing stones of Stonehenge at the exact time when this temple which was built in homage to the sun, is due to receive the first rays of the rising sun. As sunlight hits the altar stone, the music begins. You are immersed in a meditation, you feel the radiance of the sun, the ancient history of the earth beneath your feet and the expansion of your heart. At the summer solstice celebration we become like tuning forks and carry that exalted energy within us through the next weeks and months.

And if you are considering participating, you can find more information in the link below.


stonehenge solstice meditation
Moment of summer solstice, Stonehenge. 2019

“The spiral is a unique form of meditation where we stand holding hands. We form this in an anti clockwise direction, which focuses the energy towards the centre – yang energy. So the idea of this spiral meditaiton is to increase the yang energy which amplifies focus and awareness.”

Morgan Arundel, Yoga and Tantra Teacher
09 June 2022

Bagalamukhi

In the Bagalamukhi workshop we learned about the Power of Stopping and Fascination.


In this goddess we realised the incredible power that resides in moments of hiatus, of stillness, and in breaks… How can we drive a car well without breaks?
We cannot… Even our breathing has a pause, to be able to continue pauses are needed.

It is in these pauses, this stopping of Bagalamukhi that we can re-focus, gather our potentiality, remember who we continuously Are, the unfluctuating essence of (our) being(ness).


It is in these pauses, this stopping of Bagalamukhi that we can re-focus, gather our potentiality, remember who we continuously Are, the unfluctuating essence of (our) being(ness). Those moments are filled with tremendous power – power to create, to change direction, to become aware of something we didn’t before… where epiphanies can suddenly sprout from our inner wisdom, that we can appreciate and make sense of an experience… it’s the full stop at end of a sentence, or the page break that allows us to change the chapter and start a new one.


It is also in Bagalumukhi that we understand the beauty of the eyes, the eyes that make us become lost in a fascinating Universe, perhaps our beloved, perhaps the eyes of a stranger that absorbs us into a painting, or a piece of art where our mind just stops, fascinated by the beauty of something we can’t quite grasp that took us over, onto another dimension for a few moments… and time just… stopped. Where did we go?


During the workshop we did some exercises that help us realise that stopping is not always so easy, especially with the experiences in which we feel pleasure, we tend to want to keep that pleasurable moment going… stopping in the middle of an exciting conversation, stopping when our stomach is full but that delicious dessert is just calling us, stopping when our soul is asking us to stop, but the world wants us to keep going. The most interesting thing is the peace we experience when we do stop, when we consciously stop. It is also the power to say “No”, where a boundary can be traced, but not as rigid rule, but as a natural response from our soul.

The most interesting thing is the peace we experience when we do stop, when we consciously stop. It is also the power to say “No”, where a boundary can be traced, but not as rigid rule, but as a natural response from our soul.


At the end of the workshop we were gifted with the fascinating beautiful dance of Catherine, who left us all speechless, lost and fascinated with her incredibly feminine energy, transpiring through every move, look, gesture. Somehow she reflected a power that we women naturally possess, but are not usually so aware that we have when we just allow ourselves to completely embody and relax into our femininity.


Bagalamukhi is that goddess that makes you want to find out more and more, to discover more and more as she keeps you lost in her the gaze of her eyes, taking you into infinity…

Feedback from the workshop series:

spiritual community of like minded people on a path of transformation

The great goddess Bagalamukhi – the power of stopping and fascination.

09 June 2022

In this interview, our 4th-year Tantra student Vivienne interviews Tantra teacher Morgan Arundel about the Archetypes of the Soul, and how knowledge of the archetypes can be used to aid spiritual transformation.

While some people may have heard about the masculine and feminine archetypes – Warrior/Heroine, King/Mother, Lover/Fascinating woman, Magician/Initiator – perhaps not so many consciously use understandings of these archetypes to affect their evolution.

Here Vivienne discusses with Morgan why we should consider learning about these archetypes and how by understanding each one, we come to know ourselves more deeply. And if you want to go even deeper, Morgan will be running an entire workshop on this topic in our Oxford Centre on the 11-12th June, with Tantra teacher Magdalena Hau.


Vivienne and Morgan discussing archetypes

“Archetypes of the soul implies that there would be some fundamental patterns that exist at this level, at this soul level of the human being. These patterns end up expressing themselves into our personality. And when we look at those patterns, they help us understand our personality to a much greater extent.”

Morgan Arundel, Yoga and Tantra Teacher
30 May 2022

Gemini is usually described as having a quick mind, communicative, versatile, curious with a thirst for knowledge… and high intelligence as their superpower. On the shadow side there is talking too much, getting dispersed, mentally hyperactive, gossiping and acting superficially. We spoke to two Tara students to find out more.
Meet Camelia and Howard

Camelia, Tantra 3 London
howard gemini of the month
Howard, Tantra & Shaivism year 3

What are you most passionate about, and makes your heart sing with joy?

I love reading mystery fiction, I love teaching and guiding others to become their most empowered selves.

The Gemini air in me is definitely prominent as travel has always been a big part of my life (I worked in the industry for 8 years) and been to upwards of 60 countries (I want to get to 100!) exploring new places, the diversity of culture, meeting people and wonder at the natural beauty of planet earth. I find being in nature so centreing and at ease. Also being part of a community, sharing in activities, communal eating and I get energy from being around people. Companion comes from com pao (with bread) so it’s meant for sharing.
I’ve danced most of my life and can’t underestimate how good it is for the soul, connecting in the body to music and with the energy of others. It’s uplifting and I can find it very meditative and lose myself for hours in it

What attracted you to following a path of Spirituality and self-development?

I’ve always been drawn to spirituality since my early teens.

My path meandered in many ways for many years but really grew in this area over the past 10 years. In terms of self-development I embarked on Lifebook (a Mindvalley program) a few years back incorporating looking at a different area of your life for each month of the year (4 parts: beliefs, vision, purpose, and strategy). My spiritual path has particularly accelerated the past 3 years being part of Tara, on both Tantra and Shaivism courses.

Where do you feel you are most like a Gemini? Where do you feel you are the least like one?

I love connecting to people and expressing myself. I’m least Gemini in that I don’t change my mind once I set a goal.

Certainly, in terms of communication, my job is as an actor and I do training in business on it. Don’t get paranoid but I’ll be observing every nuance of tone of voice, body language etc…haha! Definitely resonate with versatility, not just in my work but I have a myriad of different interests, friend groups (though latterly I seek solitude a lot more and avoid the madness I used to love). I love learning new things and challenging myself but then on the downside, I often get bored when learning plateaus out and want a new toy so can spread myself too thinly. I can also be impulsive. Being on the cusp I definitely have some earthy Taurus traits..

What are you working on right now in terms of your spirituality or self-development?

I’m practicing Aparigraha – looking into all areas of my life where there is excess.

Certainly patience, equanimity, and looking to include more karma yoga.

What have you found most challenging on your spiritual journey?

Keeping long-term practice.

Whilst I know the theory it’s often hard in practice and can be disheartening at times when you don’t feel progress in some areas and when I don’t do as much practice as I’d like, though I try and tell myself small steps is still moving.

Geminis are known for their passion for reading and being eternal students. What book are you reading now if any, or subject you are studying and what book would you recommend others to read?

I’m reading Ikigai – highly recommend it.

I always have various reading materials on the go. Apart from reading scripts/learning lines each week and keeping up on Shaivism notes, I’m drawn to esoteric texts, currently: The Secret teachings of all ages (Manly P Hall), which I’d highly recommend and a book on geomancy. I read Jesus Christ Sun of God (David Fideler) last year which highlights elements of astrology in the bible as well as Greek gematria and sacred geometry hidden in the parables. A great read!

Also, Geminis are curious, with a thirst for knowledge, and love to use their high faculties of the mind to understand the world and reality…
–Tell us what things you tend to reflect, or explore or be curious about most, and if you can share with us one of the last epiphanies, deep understandings, or realisation you had recently?

The more you embrace all of who you are, the more easy it is to navigate the ups and downs of life

I’m always on the lookout for esoteric messaging hidden in art, literature, film, architecture etc. and I now see many things with fresh eyes, that previously went unnoticed. I’m also fascinated with the beauty of the natural world and happily while away time admiring the sheer wonder of fractals, spirals and vibrations playing out all around us.
One recent quote I saw struck a chord with me:
Nothing in Nature lives for itself, rivers don’t drink their own water, trees don’t eat their own fruit, the sun doesn’t shine for itself, a flower’s fragrance is not for itself. Living for each other is the rule of Nature.

What would you like to tell others about your feelings on being a Gemini sun?

Never ending curiosity, the thirst of knowing things, but not just knowing but really understanding them deeply, there’s that constant buzz almost like a mental activation…. but this comes from your soul, a sort of like hunger, desire for knowledge.

I guess with all signs, embrace the great aspects and the gifts it gives, be aware of the weaknesses, aim for balance with compatibility with others.

What is your life’s motto?

I don’t think is a life motto per se, but when I think I understand something I go and try look for the opposite and try to understand it as deeply as that one, I think that’s where the idea comes of the Gemini contradicting themselves, because we can see so many different angles and understand them and they can flip very easily in different perspectives. There’s always another angle, there’s always more to what I understand… maybe the motto would be what Socrates paradoxiacally said -” I know that I know nothing”

If you do only one thing in a day, meditate.
Smile and the world smiles with you.
You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing

17 May 2022

Dear treasured student,

Aspiration is a fundamental quality on the spiritual path. And while many of us begin our journey full of aspiration and enthusiasm, both can be dampened by the inevitability of spiritual tests and challenges. And, due to the very nature of the spiritual path, aspiration can come in waves. And while it is a constant necessity, sometimes we wish we had a little more.

To celebrate this wonderful quality and engine of transformation, and to bring aspiration back into awareness for the summer, Tara is offering a free place at this year’s summer camp*, June-July 2022, to one student who can demonstrate meaningful aspiration on the spiritual path. We are asking students to submit their entry based on one of the following:

  • Something that illustrates the importance of aspiration for you on the spiritual path
  • Something that demonstrates your aspiration on the spiritual path
  • Something that illustrates the importance of spiritual community and fraternity for you on the spiritual path

The submission can be in any format you choose; a letter, a video, a poem or whatever creative endeavour you come up with. The entries will be judged by a panel of Tara teachers, and based on who they believe demonstrated the most aspiration, desire to be part of a spiritual community and general enthusiasm for the spiritual path.

The competition is open to all Tara members only, including those who have already signed up to join the retreat. And while it would be wonderful if the prize goes to someone who really needs it, the focus of this task is not only the prize!

This task is also a very good opportunity to look at your aspiration on the path – both the highs, the lows, the great things that you have experienced. And also a moment to take stock and see where you aspiration is right now.

From this perspective, this exercise of self-reflection is truly worthwhile, even if you do not need the prize or cannot anyway come to the retreat.

Details:

  • Entries accepted from 16th May – 5th June
  • Please send entries to: kieran@tarayogacentre.co.uk
  • The winner will be announced on 6th June
  • One entry per student
  • You are free to choose the format of your entry – article, video, testimony, poem, etc. However, if it is something complex please check with kieran@tarayogacentre.co.uk before completing it to be sure it can be accepted.

* The prize is for a free camping place. If you wish to upgrade to house accommodation you can do so for just £100. All meals and retreat activities are included.

The are 2 forms of knowledge – knowing information about something and knowing where to find information about something.

British Library, Euston, London
16 May 2022

“When oil poured from one vessel to another flows in an unbroken stream, so too, when the mind in an unbroken flow thinks ceaselessly of the Lord, we have what is called para-Bhakti, or supreme love.”  ~ The Yogas and other works, Vivekananda

In this article you can discover:

  • What the path of Bhakti yogi is
  • Famous Bhakti yogis who walked this path
  • How you can prepare for the path of Bhakti Yoga
  • The importance of love and devotion in spirituality

The paths of Yoga

The path of devotion and love, Bhakti yoga, is one of a number of ‘paths of yoga’, with other notable paths being Karma Yoga, Jnana yoga, Raja yoga and Tantra yoga. The literal translation of ‘yoga’ in english is union. Therefore all these paths of yoga strive for the same goal – the union of Atman with ParaAtman, or the union of the individual with the universal, essentially uniting the aspirant with God.  

The different paths of yoga are thus alternative routes to reach the same destination. These different paths accommodate the different inherent qualities, desires, karma and predispositions of the various aspirants who wish to reach this destination of union with the divine. Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion, which is how the aspirants walk this path to achieve this state of union.

 Bhakti Yoga is often cited as the easiest path of yoga because it requires ‘only’ devotion, which is accessible to almost all beings. However, though it may be simple in its nature, it is not always an easy path, especially as it requires an opening of the heart or awakening of the soul to begin.

Continous and exalted remembering

The opening quote above cites the ‘unbroken flow of thoughts’ to the divine. This is a continuous and exalted remembering. All of us will have moments when we remember the divine, the absolute, God; when we pray, meditate, see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, fall in love… These moments come and go and are often triggered by outer stimuli. For the Bhakti Yogi however, this remembering is his permanent state of being. He constantly remembers the divine in each and every moment. He sees God in every being, every animal, every flower. There is nothing in manifestation that does not remind him of God and in no thing or moment can he fail to find God.

“When the soul succeeds in enjoying the bliss of his supreme love, it also begins to see him in everything. Our hearts thus become an eternal fountain of love.”

Vivekananada

On the path of Bhakti Yoga the aspirant devotes himself entirely to God, the divine, or the absolute reality. In its highest form, this devotion is pure and uninterrupted. The aspirant sees God in everything, and they see everything in God. They realise that the entire Universe is nothing but love – “Love is God and God is love.” This quote, or truth, revealed in the Gospel of John, shows the universality of this path and of the energy of love. Not restricted to the Hindu tradition, this path is found in all genuine spiritual traditions – Christianity, Islam and so on. It is this love that supports the entire manifestation. It is also the ‘obsession’ and vehicle of the Bhakti yogi.

Unconditional Love

Because the entire manifestation is God, and if he is to love God unconditionally, the Bhakti yogi must love everything in the manifestation, equally and unconditionally. And by loving everything in the manifestation, the Bhakti Yogi likewise loves God. This is a very high level of love that is difficult for the human mind to even comprehend, let alone manifest. But just as the tiny acorn would find it hard to believe that one day it could become a giant oak tree spreading its branches majestically and producing thousands of acorns of its own, so too can the aspirant with a tiny seed of devotion and love within his being nourish and foster that love, until it too grows into mighty branches of unconditional love. Not only sustaining itself but inspiring and nourishing the seeds within others to also grow and become.

In the East there are many examples of well-known Bhati Yogis. Ma Anandamayi, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rumi, and Kadir to name but a few. The culture and history of India provides a highly conducive foundation to this path of devotion. It is something almost inherent in the people there.

St Francis – a genuine Bhakti Yogi

But the path of devotion and love crosses all borders and all time frames. A prominent example in the West is Saint Francis of Assisi. Born into a relatively wealthy family, Francis had all the comforts of the time, and was set for a life of material success and prosperity. But in his early 20s St Francis began to experience visions, and to hear a voice that would alter his life dramatically. He renounced his inheritance, disowned his father and took up a vow of poverty. He devoted his life to God and to spreading the teachings of Jesus. Many devote themselves to God and/or sacrifice material wealth in pursuit of union. But what is often cited about St Francis however is his unconditional love for all beings.

Considered outcasts, even by the Church, St Francis would show lepers the same love and affection as he would a bishop. He bathed and fed them often, and prayed both with and for them. He showed no envy, anonymity, jealously or hostility towards his fellow man. Whenever he encountered hostility towards him his response was always one of love. He even crossed the enemy lines of the Christians into the Muslim camp in Egypt during a bloody war. And while there is no account of what happened there, he returned voluntarily and unharmed, which shows he must have been recognised as a man of love by the Sultan. Otherwise his fate would have been vastly different.

St Francis’s love did not stop at humanity. He is the patron saint of animals and is often depicted surrounded by animals. He saw other creatures as a part of God, and filled with God, and he afforded them the same love and devotion that he did his fellow brothers.

One story describes how St Francis stopped some Friars who were digging up flowers to plant food for the monks. The monks objected, saying that the crops were badly needed to feed the growing monastery. St Francis simply replied, “Let the flowers be, for they are part of God’s creation. The Lord will provide everything we need for us.” Such a faith in God is not possible without unconditional love and devotion. For St Francis all was God and God was all. The sum total of all love is God and therefore we should love all equally and unconditionally.

Walking the path of Bhakti Yoga

Some are born ready for the path of Bhakti Yoga, while others have potential, but efforts are needed before the devotion can truly take hold and effortlessly unfold in the aspirant. The ancient texts thus describe two levels of Bhakti Yoga. The first is Gauni, or the preparatory stages, and the second level is Para, or superior devotion.

The purpose of Gauni is mainly for the preparation of the aspirant for Bhakti Yoga. The supreme love, para-Bhakti, is inaccessible to those who remain impure, and so a process of purification is required. The Vedanta Sutras state, “The attaining of Bhakti comes through discrimination, controlling the passions, practice, sacrifice, purity, strength and the suppression of excessive joy.” Here, comparisons can be drawn with the namas and niyamas described in Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. While the outer application of these ideals is usually focused on nowadays, the inner application is far more important. Purifying the body through bathing is useful, but purifying the mind through awareness is far superior.

“Religious realisation, or para-Bhakti, is possible only when the mind is in a steady, peaceful condition of harmonious equilibrium. It is through this that one may begin to learn how to love the Lord.”

There is also a preparatory stage when entering para-Bhakti, the stage of supreme love. This preparation centres around ‘renunciation’. All paths of yoga include this aspect, albeit in different manifestations. The Karma Yogi must renounce the fruits of his actions while the Jnana Yogi must renounce the entire manifestation as an illusion. For the Bhakti Yogi, he must renounce all that is insignificant in favour of God. This is only a phase or process the yogi must go through, because as we saw above, all is God, even the apparently insignificant.

But until the Bhakti Yogi has truly experienced this realisation within his being, he must constantly renounce that which is lower for that which is higher, or that which is limited for something closer to infinity. For example, on the path of Bhakti Yoga, selfishness would be seen as a form of love – excessive love of ones self, and a very limited and restricted manifestation of love.

The Bhakti Yogi should renounce selfish love and instead embrace a more expanded love, such as love for another human being or a family. This expanded love should include the initial ‘object’, in this case the self, the person. In this way the Yogi truly expands rather than just moving his love.

This renunciation is not a ‘killing’ of something or a struggle. It is actually seen as the most gentle and natural of all the various forms of renunciation. While renunciation may appear to be a sacrifice, what we actually sacrifice is the limitations and chains that restrict the soul, so that it can become free, free to love, free to expand towards infinity and towards God. The only condition is that each sacrifice takes us closer and closer to God.

“The bhakti-yogi should not suppress any single one of his emotions; he only strives to intensify them and direct them to God.”

Once the aspirant succeeds with renunciation in the higher stage of Bhakti Yogi, his efforts then become effortless. He then understands the universal truth – God is love and love is God. But not merely as a mental or intellectual understanding. Rather he feels it deep in his heart as the ultimate truth of the universe. Everywhere he looks he sees nothing but the divine. Every word he hears, comes as if from the divine. Everything he touches is infused with the divine. This is his permanent reality in every moment. And through this universal energy of love that continuously springs from his heart, he is united, he is in yoga with all things and finally, united with God.


Summer Retreat: The paths of Yoga

If you wish to find out more about Bhakti Yoga, consider joining our summer retreat this June. It explores 5 paths of yoga, including Bhakti Yogi. In this way it’s an ideal opportunity to discover which path of yoga is most suitable for you. Details below.

“We all begin with love for ourselves, and the unfair claims of the little self make even love selfish. At last, however, comes the full blaze of light, in which this little self is seen to have become one with the Infinite. Man himself is transfigured in the presence of this light of love, and he realises at the last the beautiful and inspiring truth that love, the lover and the Beloved are one.”

Vivekananda
12 May 2022

In this interview, our 4th-year Tantra student Vivienne interviews Tantra teacher Foca Yariv, about death and the perspectives spirituality can bring to the subject, about which Eastern and Western approaches can differ hugely. Foca has spent a great deal of time studying Eastern perspectives on death, to find out what we can actually learn from them.

Foca has held a workshop at Tara entitled “The Art of Dying” almost every year. The title of the workshop is a bit of a loose term, because the workshop is very much about how to live, not only how to die. Based on some fundamental perspectives and ideas found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Todol, the Art of Dying workshop helps participants understand the nature of death and why the spiritual path could not exist without it.

In this (25-minute) interview, Vivienne quizzes Foca on everything from the Tantric perspective on death to the blockages people face relating to death, to how a change of perspective can fuel spiritual transformation.

While this interview is not a preview of the upcoming workshop, it does provide some hints as to what might be revealed. Listen to the interview, and if you have any questions feel free to post in the comments. We will respond to them!

And if you would like to know more about the Art of Dying workshop, or to sign up, all details can be found here:


Kali, the great cosmic power related to death

“If it wasn’t for death, which is basically the confinement of time, there would be no incentive of transformation. Hence, we can say that this is one of the greatest gifts that is given from the Creator to the creature, because it is mobilising us.”

Foca Yariv, Tantra Teacher
08 May 2022

Stages of Spiritual perfection, in and through love

by Nicolae Catrina

This book could rightly be called a handbook rather than a book. It is a very practical book written by one of the teachers in the Atman Federation. The core of the book is a journey through the 7 stages of love.

These are taken from the ancient Greek language, which has over 40 different words for “love”. In this book, Nicolae describes the 7 stage, some of which we can easily recognise. He also elborates on how we can achieve spiritual perfection using these stages and encouragingly, how we can reach God through any single stage.

It is a great resource for those interested in relationships and looking to transform through love and relationships. It is quite practical and the author gives readers intuitive examples to easily relate to while also providing practical suggestions and ideas couples or individuals can easily implement.

The book is available in the shop in our London centre but there are limited copies available. Grab it while you can….. 🙂

The spiritual guide is the catalyst of practical understandings. He or she mysteriously awakens a superior, supramental and perfect vision in our being.