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Spiritual Practitioners – the Movers, the Shakers and the Disturbed

A Maddening Mantra

Several years ago, we had a Tibetan Buddhist client – I’ll call him ‘Jan’ – who’d been given a mantra by his lama, to be recited the traditional  100,000 times. In fact, all this lama’s novice disciples – of whom there are many – were given the same mantra to be recited the same number of times.

The reason Jan made an Energy Solutions appointment was that after he’d chanted the mantra many times for several weeks, he’d had a nervous breakdown. Then he was hospitalised and put on medication. This pattern had happened twice already, and he felt he was going downhill again. The Buddhist organisation to which he belonged said he should carry on regardless – he was just undergoing a ‘spiritual cleansing’ process.

Jan said he’d recently attended a Buddhist training camp where he’d met a visiting lama. The visiting lama had suggested he practise another mantra instead of the one his root lama had given him. Jan was confused – should he practise the mantra ‘given’ by his root lama? Or should he practise the one suggested by the visiting lama?

Spiritual Practitioners – the Movers, the Shakers and the DisturbedI asked Jan to perform the first mantra, and then the second, while I observed his energy body responses as he recited them. The first mantra caused a massive contraction at his lumin (‘6th chakra’), the energy vortex in the middle of the forehead, fracturing it at the centre. The second mantra brightened up Jan’s lumin, causing the centre to advance.

Put simply: actions that contract or fracture chakras are harmful; actions that advance chakras are beneficial. So for Jan, according to his energenic response, the mantra from his root lama was harmful for him and the one suggested by the visiting lama was beneficial for him – quite the opposite of what he was inclined to believe.

When a chakra’s energy contracts, certain stresses are generated. The stresses generated due to the lumin contracting include (depending on the area of the lumin that is affected): reality avoidance (e.g. not dealing with your leaking roof, or not paying your bills), addictions, and/or a (controlling) desire to belong  – i.e. an attachment to belonging – e.g. to a place, person, group, belief system, organisation, etc..

When the centre of the lumin fractures, (i.e. when a stable lesion appears in the 6th chakra), it effectively ‘does your head in.’ For example, anyone who suffers from clinical depression or anxiety has an underlying fracture in their lumin. Another type of lesion in the lumin, (which controls the functioning of the frontal lobes of the brain and the autonomic nervous system), is always present in cases of chronic fatigue.

I explained (and demonstrated) to Jan how each of the mantras affected his energy. He was, naturally, somewhat alarmed. He said he would ‘ask permission’ to change his mantra to the one given by the visiting lama. He also said that since he was living on benefits (government aid) and, due to the costs of his illness, didn’t have enough money to eat towards the end of the month, he was going to ask for temporary relief from paying his monthly tithe to the organisation of which he was a member.

We didn’t hear from Jan again except for a curt note to the effect that he would be continuing with the mantra given to him by his root lama and that he’d been denied permission to curtail his tithe since he risked spiritual harm as a consequence. We later heard from a mutual acquaintance that Jan was still doing his mantra and was ‘living’ on a permanent intake of anti-depressants.

However, Jan’s personal troubles aside, this blog piece isn’t so much about the effects of mantras, or membership of any particular organisation, but more about the various kinds of spiritual practitioners that we come across in our work. Let’s call them the ‘Movers,’ the ‘Shakers,’ and the ‘Disturbed.’ Jan was a textbook example of the Disturbed – of which there are very many.

The Disturbed

‘Disturbed,’ in this instance, refers to consciousness that is being damaged by awareness-development practices. Meditations, mantras, movements and postures (e.g. yoga asanas) are generally considered to be harmless – to do either some good or nothing at all. This common assumption arises through lack of awareness – ironically, the same awareness that naturally appears through effective practices . . .

We see, time and time again, spiritual teachers delivering techniques, or employing energies, that cause disturbance, or exacerbate pre-existing disturbance, in some or many of their students. No awareness development practice is inherently harmless for all people. Think of meditation as a potent medication, like an antibiotic. If it’s the right medicine for the infection, it can work well. But if it isn’t, it not only doesn’t work but may also cause new problems. There is no medicine that is suitable for everyone or every problem.

Disturbed people tend to fanatically practise methods they’ve been given in spite of experiencing negative physical or psychological consequences. They often tell themselves, or are assured by their peers or teachers, that they are going through a purification process or ‘healing crisis.’ Whilst healing crises can certainly occur at times, they do so as a consequence of previously blocked energy starting to advance. But if, instead, the body’s energy contracts, this only causes crisis – no healing involved.

It’s very hard for the rigidly Disturbed, who commonly appear as the ‘righteous’ or ‘true believers’ of the spiritual world, and who tend to deny any possibility of error within their faith, to change their ways. Since they are often being affected by the practices they’ve been given in the same area that controls their decision-making abilities, the lumin, they have very little awareness of how much they are being increasingly disabled by their practice. It’s a vicious cycle. And since the application of inappropriate practices is so widespread – from living room meditation groups to mainstream religions – the Disturbed find no shortage of company. And so seem quite normal to one another in their collective, and therefore mutually-reinforcing, disturbance.

Typical hallmarks of Disturbance can include:

  • Intolerance
  • Blind faith in another (or in oneself)
  • ‘Haloing’ a teacher – who, therefore, cannot make mistakes
  • Hysteria in group events
  • Anger as a reaction to dissent

We are, of course, looking at types of spiritual practitioners here, but we could just as easily be looking at human nature en masse. Disturbance appears, in one or other forms, in most groups of people. So, in the end, we can only observe ourselves and be alert to when we too succumb to the allure of the Disturbed.

The Shakers

In contrast to the gradual disintegration of the Disturbed, ‘Shakers’ are those whose practice simply makes very little progress. In spite of their best efforts, their energy barely advances. They hope to advance but, instead, they simply ‘shake’ in place – like a car in which the accelerator and brake pedal are being pushed simultaneously.

Spiritual development has a certain underlying physics – or ‘energenics.’ If the essential energenic process isn’t occurring within an individual, they don’t spiritually develop – their spirit energy literally doesn’t grow. Even though there are many different forms of spiritual development, the basic process is always the same and, essentially, very simple:

  1. Empowerment
  2. Cultivation
  3. Stabilisation

Spiritual development depends on the ascension of the heart – energy flowing up from your heart chakra to your crown and beyond. Different practices or traditions stimulate different chakras to act as supports for the heart’s ascension. But if the heart doesn’t ascend, a spiritual practitioner, however optimistic they may be, doesn’t experience much stable change within him or herself. Only the heart’s ascent transforms repetitive karmic cycles – both internal and external – into higher awareness or increasing communion with the Spirit.

‘Empowerment’ is the process of receiving an energy – one traditional name is baraka – that can be used as a vehicle for the ascension of your spirit [energy] from your heart [chakra].

‘Cultivation’ includes the practices, disciplines and tasks that increase the flow of baraka within your energy body. A bit like changing a trickle of water into a river, thus amplifying your spirit’s ascent.

‘Stabilisation’ is making the flow of baraka a permanent presence in your life – as opposed to having a ‘high,’ or a peak experience, now and then.

Shakers shake because of one or more missing elements in the process. Cultivation without empowerment is very common, (e.g. through learning meditation from a book or an ineffectual teacher); partial empowerment then weak cultivation is also not unusual (e.g. by attending a spirit/power place and inadvertently receiving an incomplete empowerment there); cultivation without stabilisation (e.g. by receiving an empowerment from a preceptor but not being given the life practices needed to support it) is commonplace in even the most well-known schools of awareness development.

Although less noticeable than the Disturbed, Shakers are the most common type of spiritual aspirant – not particularly disturbed but also not making much progress. They tend to be one or more of the:

  • Intuitive – ‘if it feels right it must be good’
  • Political – looking good but not practising much
  • Addictive – chasing the latest buzz

Ultimately, Shakers are happy to feel part of whatever teaching, faith or group they identify with – but without much result, for their life or consciousness, other than, hopefully, becoming calmer and more relaxed as time moves on.

The Movers

Movers account for the minority of spiritual practitioners. They have received at least one complete empowerment from a person, place or other source of baraka; they practise at least one resonant (with their energenic needs) cultivation method; and they live with a form of intent (way of life) that stabilises some of their ascending heart energy.

Becoming a Mover rarely happens overnight – it’s usually preceded by considerable shaking and, more often than not, a fair amount of disturbance. All of which is par for the course. We are divided beings – we may, to a certain extent, aspire to higher awareness but we also tend to wish for an easy life, many pleasurable experiences and, with a bit of luck, the next winning lottery ticket. Our somewhat diluted spiritual aspirations can, even at the best of times, cause us to be somewhat shaky.

But as lSpiritual Practitioners - the Movers, the Shakers, and the Disturbedong as your heart is ascending sufficiently, you can weather the passing storms of  disturbance, and persist regardless of your (usually unwitting) resistance to [increasing] the presence of the Spirit in your life. Spiritual progress is never a question of where you’re at but, rather, where you’re headed. The baraka you are able to accept may be weak at first but it will constantly hold your heart through the days and nights regardless of your karmic ups and downs.

Milarepa was a much-honoured Tibetan Buddhist Mover – famed for his initial homicidal Disturbances, followed by his frequent Shaking at the hands of his preceptor, Marpa, then, later, for his profound Movement as a nettle-eating, green-hued, yogi living in a cave. However, it’s easy to illustrate concepts with exaggerated examples. Not so easy to see, in our own lives, how we tend, less dramatically as a rule, to be disturbed, to shake in place and, hopefully, to move now and then.

Moving with the Remembrance of Happiness

Everyone who sincerely aspires to develop spiritually recognises, at some level, their need to change. They are no longer afraid to acknowledge some of their weaknesses. But then, the question is, ‘how?’ How to become more aware?, to know the Spirit?, or however else you conceive of your need for growth and liberation. Obviously, hopeful philosophies notwithstanding – ‘it’ll all be alright in the end,’ or ‘everything is perfect right now’ – your choices are critical. They lead to empowerment, cultivation and stabilisation. Or they don’t. So how can you tell?

People tend to rely on their feelings and, to a lesser extent, their minds – ‘If it feels right, or if it sounds true, it must be what I need.’ In many spiritual circles, intuition rules the day. But, unfortunately, intuition isn’t hard to influence – countless Disturbed gurus swell the ranks of their followers through knowing how to make an impression. And, although more subtle, Shakers aren’t so very different in this respect. Spiritual organisations are overflowing with the disillusioned and the re-illusioned. It may be politically correct to say that everything is okay in its own way, but if you sincerely wish to realise the spirit in your life, it isn’t helpful. Critical insight is essential. Every choice you make makes a difference to you and your future, for better or for worse.

In the Shendo – the community of the Way of Life – we learn to listen to our heart. And this really is a learning process. Perhaps, fundamentally, the only one anyone really needs. Your own spirit, which resides at the root of your heart chakra, can show you your path – but this isn’t as simple as sitting down, trying not think, and listening to your heart. If it were, we (i.e. mankind) would be creating a very different kind of world right now.

A Remembrance for Spiritual Practitioners

Although there are many ways to strengthen your awareness of your heart, one of the most direct ways is to regularly ask yourself the question, “Being Of Service?” This self-enquiry is called the remembrance of Happiness because it amplifies your awareness in a way that strengthens the flow of happiness qi through your body. This is one of the four fortune qi that determine the kinds and quantities of wisdom, inner strength, happiness and success that you experience. Happiness qi is concentrated in the sternum, just above the heart chakra.

Doing what you need to do for others – as opposed to doing things for yourself, or doing things you don’t need to do for others (even though there may be all kinds of good reasons for doing them) – leads to happiness through cultivating your heart-awareness. It may sound simple in theory but, in practice, it can be very challenging. The remembrance is repeated, internally, every few minutes, with attention to the meaning of the question. If you try this you will discover that you

(i) tend to forget it

(ii) don’t want to be of service (e.g. to a certain person or at a certain time),

(iii) lack the energy to be of service in that moment,

(iv) can’t figure out what ‘being of service’ means

And so on. It’s a challenge. But the nature of this constant meditation is such that it purifies your energy body in ways that cause you to Move – to gradually change yourself and your life in increasingly energy-ascending ways. The Remembrance of Happiness takes you away from the fixations of the Disturbed and the self-involvement of the Shakers even as it takes you towards the Spirit in myriad forms.

In our work, we are often privileged to witness individuals cultivating their energy to the point at which they can choose to Move – rising to the challenge of an obstructive karma, no longer stuck in place. It’s, literally, a moving moment. The spirit within the heart glows brighter when life is practised in an ascending way.

Being a Mover is inherently transformational – regardless of how your life may feel from one day to the next. Even when times are hard, it puts a certain spring in your step – an edge if you will. Everyone gets challenging karmas, but stable awareness, higher than it was before, generates novel responses and new solutions to problems that once seemed insurmountable. Your spirit’s continuing ascent guarantees your ability to make progress under all circumstances and in all conditions.

Every moment, there is a perfect opportunity to be of service – to cultivate your happiness qi – through recognising what you need to do for others. With the help of the remembrance of Happiness – and by acting in response to it – the spirit within your heart will show you the way to empowerment, cultivation and stabilisation – to the Spirit in all things. It leads you towards whatever it is in the world that will make your heart sing.

Of course, as for any path, you have to put one foot in front of the other (just waiting for things to get better leads nowhere except stagnation). But if, as a sincere spiritual practitioner, you attend to your heart as you ask yourself, again and again, ‘Being of Service?’ – it will always show you the way.


Extracted from Paths to the Shendo by Stephen Kane

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