Obvious subconscious is obvious
Rose Croix
I dreamt I had a pet lion. He was an adolescent who had not yet grown his mane. He had an injury which meant his teeth weren't quite right, and he needed help to eat. He was very loving and docile, and followed me everywhere. Sadly, as he grew more mature he became very protective of me, and friends and family feared being attacked by him. His name was (get this!) Ariyeh.

Unlike in this Tarot card, Ariyeh wasn't red. He was the dusty tan colour of earthly lions. I guess he hadn't got old enough yet.

"Our mental patterns are determined by self conscious interpretation of experience. Let observation and attention (the Magician) be faulty, superficial, negative or fearful, and the resulting sequence of subconscious reactions is bound to be destructive. Then the spoken word and unuttered speech of thought (the Chariot) will be vehicles for a destructive pattern, and we shall set wild beasts at our own vitals... Change the pattern and you change the result. Make it accurate, profound, courageous, positive. Then you tame the lion and he becomes your servant." --- Paul Foster Case

Rose Croix
I had a difficult dream. It wasn't a nightmare, it was just emotional. In this dream, I was a teenager, and I had realised I was a transsexual, so I had started dressing as a woman. I was wearing a beautiful black shift dress with small flowers in red and yellow on it. I was in love with a cowboy teenager, and he was in love with me. And we held hands in the gay cafe, and smiled at one another. And I wore my dress, and he loved me with my dress on. His smile was like the morning sunlight on white snowdrops, and stars danced in his eyes whenever he looked at me. I felt complete. Moreover, and most importantly, there was a community of people that we were a part of, and we all supported one another for being just who we were, just as we were.

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Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi)
Rose Croix
"I cannot tell if what the world considers 'happiness' is happiness or not. All I know is that when I consider the way they go about attaining it, I see them carried away headlong, grim and obsessed, in the general onrush of the human herd, unable to stop themselves or to change their direction. All the while they claim to be just on the point of attaining happiness."

"Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness."

"The universe is the unity of all things. If one recognizes his identity with this unity, then the parts of his body mean no more to him than so much dirt, and death and life, end and beginning, disturb his tranquillity no more than the succession of day and night."

"The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror; it grasps nothing; it refuses nothing; it receives, but does not keep."

"The sound of water says what I think."

Rose Croix
Oh I did not sleep well last night. I had a series of terrible and vivid nightmares. First was being incarcerated for a crime I didn't commit; and being stabbed to death. Second was being deported for some unknown reason; and never being allowed to see K again. They're probably two halves of the same dream, honestly. In the background, coyotes howled: they were there in the physical world too.

The interesting bit was the lucidity. (Nightmares generally are more lucid, I find.) I wake up, realise I'd been dreaming about being incarcerated; then whilst awake, and partly asleep, the bit about being shanked in prison happened. I recall now thinking at the time: well I wonder where being in prison would have led; and then deliberately (though half asleep and diminished in self-awareness) driving the dream into the direction of corporeal death. In other words, I created my own nightmare.

Or did I? Whilst I was driving to yoga, I pondered whether I actually had any control over the process, or whether I was being carried along by some subconscious force, with the illusion of choosing to continue the dream. Certainly I was not fully there; not sufficiently to realise that following that path was probably a bad idea. But following this doubt more completely really makes me wonder how much of my waking consciousness has the same quality; largely carried along by the momentum of prior interactions, with precious little space available for making truly free decisions. There is some such space, but it's like blowing to sheets of paper apart to create it. In the vortex chain of thoughts, there is a tiny space from one to the next wherein if one can insert a mental 'wedge', one can head it off at the pass.

Yoga was marred by a lump of snot in my right nostril I hadn't properly blown away. Owing to the momentum alone I didn't stop the practice to blow my nose. I feel I've somehow conquered an obstacle thereby: one less thing that gets in the way. Next thing I know, I'll be going without bothering to brush my hair. Anyway, it turned out it wasn't snot at all: I blew my nose afterwards and nothing came out. Some sort of nasal swelling.

On the plus side, yoga did completely reset my mental state. I found myself thinking afterwards: ah, now I feel like myself again. Without conducting the asanas to flush out the detritus of the last twenty four hours (and a bit extra for the sake of purification), I am too clouded up to recollect myself. It's an interesting thought.

The drama of yoga
Rose Croix
On yoga, I have little but positive things to say. My energy levels are through the roof in a manner I really didn't imagine. This is unlike my previous yoga 'phases', I think because I am committing myself to a very regular practice. It's just as well that I do have so much energy for this, because there is a real sense in which this period is a long uphill struggle to reach the next plateau, and I can't really let off for fear of falling back.

How much of that is physiologically true and how much purely psychology I find difficult to say. Certainly the body is more plastic, but every morning I wake up and it is pretty much as stiff as it was when I began; though after the initial series of asanas it quickly loosens up. It is as though every time I practice, or every time I wake up, I have to reify the entire path from beginning to reach current 'level'. Perhaps that is just how it is.

Psychologically, the practice has been having a very interesting effect. I've mentioned before various recalcitrant thoughts that arise. They have been intensifying over the last few weeks, and sometimes I find myself consumed with great oceans of self-deprecation during the first fifteen or so minutes of practice. I think it is good to just press through this. I'm not by any means invoking it, merely observing it when it comes, and letting it pass by. I won't deny sometimes I get a little vigorous at such thoughts; I don't think that's wise on the whole as it's only encouraging them.

There's a curious physiological correspondence to note here as well. At first I feel angry thoughts; and these seem to correlate to my ankles not touching the floor in downward dog, but are generally related to the early inflexibility that is before I have warmed up. Ankles not on the floor; am I even getting anywhere; what's the point; I'm never good at anything; yada yada.

After that passes away, I'll experience a deep fatigue; O not this pose again, I've got no energy for this, I really want to go back to sleep. This during standing balancing poses and paschimottanasana.

Then there's comparatively quiet and diligent period during which I am simply following the flow and enjoying the experience; this is the seated poses. I reach my peak during this period, and I am always excited by how things feel different each time, and how much I am actually walking the path, and how things are actually improving, in spite of my earlier negativity (which is long since forgotten by this point). Oh, that said, sometimes the hip openers on the floor elicit some sensations of grief and upset, related to the tension held in hip joints. My hips are tight; I've mentioned this before.

At the end of that is the back bend series, and I'm doing various things to correct an inflexible and weak thoracic spine at the moment. This is proving quite emotionally difficult: I am actually feeling small amounts of nausea as I open my chest against the wall, and the tightness in my shoulders.

Then the actual back bends, which are varyingly hellaciously uncomfortable or gloriously uplifting depending on how ready my upper back is feeling; regardless of which, I come out of them feeling victorious.

Lastly, we come to the inversions in the closing sequence, and I enter this wonderfully calm and centred state, and I feel free and opened and rested, pretty much regardless of what came before.

This new sense of openness comes with a cost, which is that I am now pathologically sensitive, and unable to watch the news, or see anything gory or grisly, etc, etc, without feeling a profound and agonising weltschmerz. I won't deny I've felt this way before, but it is notably stronger than before. In some ways I feel like I am removing layers of armouring and so things are affecting me more profoundly (or rather I am more connected with myself to experience the profound effect that has always taken place). I don't know whether that is wise or not; I think in the past being too sympathetic and resonant has put me unduly at the influence of others with more venal concerns. Something to be mindful of; but given that I am, I think that shows I still have the necessary defences available.

I have one further thing to note, which is on Thursday this week, whilst I was doing my closing mantra, I had a vision of an Indian guru of some kind. I keep thinking of Shirdi Sai Baba, but this guy had a longer beard, and was older. He was sat on a tiger skin, and in the background was this terribly kitsch scene of stars and galaxies and nebulae vividly glowing in blue and violet. I sensed but did not see that the lower half of his body was serpentine in character, which might put him down as Patanjali; and that would make sense given the opening mantra is an invocation to him. It was a very lucid scene. He was teaching me how to pronounce the mangala mantra properly. It was quite lovely, though I refrain from making too much of it.

Rose Croix
So I have been on the hunt for art to decorate our house. The idea struck me to obtain a complementary thangka to the kalachakra one I already have. I thought perhaps a deity in yab-yum: Yamantaka springs out at me. I still haven't found a suitable thangka - evidently in the West the ones that are easy to obtain are all slightly wrong somehow. I've seen images with the weaponry missing, or with the wrong colours. Most commonly the images are distorted and the various features twisted up and strange; eyes in the wrong place, mouths that aren't symmetrical, that kind of thing. Basically somebody copied a copy of a copy and the result is effluvia.

I'm toying with the idea of painting one myself, but that's a lot of work; and wouldn't it be better spent on other things.

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Calendrical whimsy
Rose Croix
Happy approximately π day.

We could make it more accurate by taking 3.14 as the date, and (0.)1593 as a fraction of that day; which put the international π second at 03:49:23 this morning. Not exactly party hour, but that's π for you.

Personally, I feel more for e. He's so transcendent he doesn't even fit in the calendar.

Rose Croix
This morning I felt very strongly that it was all an enormous waste of time. Why bother? These thoughts seem to arise quite frequently before I start practice. I say to myself: you never think that before you take up the violin, or do some gardening, or any of the other things in your life. Why should this be an exception? Answer: I'm physically lazy, and don't want to exert myself. I look for excuses and rationalisations or just plain moods to get out of doing it.

These thoughts entirely vanish as soon as I start the sequence. It has its own momentum. In fact I sort of lost consciousness of what I was doing partway through, and found my body had continued on with the next few poses without losing my place. I'm not sure I can legitimately claim that was a transcendent moment - I think I just got caught up in the rhythm and the movement.

My knee is slowly improving and healing. I've been doing lots of work to prepare my hips so that they are able to open more, so that the knee doesn't take the strain in lotus poses. Today I gave it a try. The left knee is happy. The right knee was much better, but I was cautious anyway, and only gave it a half lotus. I did feel the beginning of the familiar strain across the side of the kneecap, so I cut way back. This is consistent. My hips are asymmetrical in their resistance - the left hip joint doesn't like internal rotation, the right is unhappy with external rotation. The disparity is striking. I keep wondering what happened before to make it so obviously different.

And after the practice? I feel firm and solid and adamantine, like my strength has gone into my bones and my core. This is good. This is a great foundation. I feel secure and stable in this place, ready to reach further for the next thing. And that will be? I think given I never finished the kriya practice (chakra dharana and other related mudras), I should go back to it. I took it as far as manipura, and then I found I couldn't maintain the momentum, like I was over-reaching somehow, and losing balance. Sure enough, irritable bowels! Not yet, though, not yet. In time. Planting footsteps; footsteps like an elephant.

It's interesting that many aspects of my life right now are about learning to lay back whilst also going. Here's an example from driving: do you lean forward, press up against the guy in front, raging away to get to your destination sooner. Or do you slacken off, relax back, go at a more relaxed pace, and enjoy the ride? The difference amounts to maybe five or ten minutes of journey time, but the experience is SO MUCH BETTER. I have always been that kind of driver; always flying close to the line to get ahead somehow, in this insane competition with these fictional characters I plant in the other cars. Now I have discovered it does nothing for me. It's self-created stress that is totally unnecessary.

It used to be the same with the dog. Do I begrudge him his daily walks around to sniff the roses and do a dump? I certainly used to. I was keen to get on and do this or that or something else. Then one day I realised I actually enjoyed it, and he enjoyed it too. We were together, doing a thing that took but a few minutes of my day, yet made such a vast improvement to both our qualities of life. And our relationship improved greatly. Same idea: press ahead to the future, or lay back whilst also going?

OK, fine, it's a basic idea. BUT IT IS TRUE, and I have it in myself, and that is what matters. It isn't a dead line of text on a page or a dry idea blown this way and that in a dust storm. It is moist and fecund; it has germinated in me.

Niche interests
Rose Croix
So I have a total obsession with Italian Baroque Violinists and their compositions. I've gone through a succession of monomanias, where I would listen to nothing else for weeks and weeks. I think the first was with Vivaldi. I don't deny it was Quattro Stagioni that caught me, but his concerti and sonatas are fabulous; and not least because they're pretty playable for an learner too. Then it was Corelli, then Albinoni, and then it was Veracini. And now, the ultimate, is the impossibly fabulous Geminiani.

The Italians particularly do it for me because they are masters of drama and flourish. The Germanic composers always feel a little held back; composers from Romantic countries are freer, but the Italians are masters at hyperbole. We have catastrophe, death, exaltation, glory, folly, and all these other great ideas; but at the same time, it's totally capricious and a big play, heart on sleeve and tongue in cheek. Two seconds after they've musically spilled their heart out to you, they're off talking about finance or something. Look how much we can feel whilst it not mattering. I like that a lot.

Geminiani! So this may come across as something of a straw man argument, but bear with me. Firstly you have to understand that baroque music is highly structured. For all its frills and scintillation and sparkling glamour, it is very formalised in its arrangement and harmonic underpinnings; I would say very much more so than the classical and romantic period works which follow it. This is one of the reasons it is good stuff for beginners: there's not too much in the way of technical surprises, but it nevertheless carries much drama and musical interest. Bach exemplifies this extremely well: his music is almost painfully and mathematically precise. In fact, some of his less well-known compositions are, I think, virtually tedious, because he so slavishly adheres to the maths. But in his best works, he can fly you to touch God and never set a foot wrong.

Now why I particularly love Geminiani, is that he does this remarkable thing of strictly following these harmonic rules, whilst being utterly crazy in every other possible respect. When he's got a faster piece going, it is incredibly dazzling, groaning at the seams with brio, and sparkling wit, and panache. We have all sorts of polyrhythm, off-beat accents, witty counterpoint, crazy trills, and everything else you can possibly imagine going on; and the whole lot comes fast and furious, in a breathtakingly deranged way. And yet, and yet, he is so solid on the structure; he even seems to use it as a trampoline in places. By way of illustration, here's my favourite piece. I only wish it were longer!

It's my GOD GIVEN RIGHT to go through that door
Rose Croix
On the subject of servant's quarters and doors...

When K was digging up trees, he jabbed his eye severely with a thorny twig. We went to the military hospital to make sure it was OK. It was - he'd scratched his conjunctiva, but he is recovering well.

Not one to turn down a lesson in spiritual matters, I failed a test at this place. Understand that we, as a gay couple, are subconsciously always on the back foot. Especially so in a military institution. Are we allowed? Does it matter if? Is it OK that I go with him into the triage room?

Of course I am allowed. Nobody said a damn thing to the contrary. But I still feared being told to go away, and in fact I successfully told myself to go away. There was a big door with the word STOP! written on it in a red octagon. YOU SHALL NOT PASS it lied, your love for one another is not welcome here.

And I listened to it.

I should've gone through that door, and been with him. I've loved that man for over ten years. It's my GOD GIVEN RIGHT to go through that door. It was I, coward, who obeyed the lies.

Oh well. I don't beat myself up. I just think it's interesting that after all this time I still have a sort of institutional bent about me, like Morgan Freeman: "Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can't squeeze a drop without say-so." Something to work on.


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