A Union of Opposites (4-final): breathing with Pythagoras

(Above: the famous Pythagoras triangle is approached as a breathing experience)

So… how are we going to ‘breathe with Pythagoras’?

We shall use the 3-4-5 properties of a right-angled triangle, translated into a breathing pattern. As we saw in the previous post, we know these are harmonic, and represent squares. If you followed the symbolism, you will remember that the sequence point-line-surface represents the emergence of the physical world; which is continued by the cubes – the key to 3D space. For this exercise, we’ll stay with squares.

The first thing to do is to establish a breathing count. Let your breathing settle and take a few easy breaths. Check you are not carrying tension in your midsection by gently easing your diaphragm down as you breath in, allowing your chest to fill, naturally.

Breath out, fully, but without effort, then take in what you feel is your natural, unstressed amount of air to a count of three. Be deeply aware of this and remember its duration. Try to keep this ‘length of breathing’ in your mind and use it as a basis for the rest of the exercise.

Close your eyes and breathe out. As you do so, see the formation of a brightening point of light in your mind (the red circle with white border)

As you continue to breathe out, let this mental picture of the small circle get brighter.

Now, holding the image of the small circle, breathe in for the three count. See the dot becoming a red line whose length is three units, growing from right to left. As you approach the end of your in-breath, see the line running out of length, as in the diagram’s base.

Hold the breath for a count of four as you travel from the same point but vertically upwards, (i.e. at 90 degrees). The two lines have formed a right angle to each other. See the place where the two lines merged becoming a small, solid square, as in the diagram.

Now imagine that you are the top of that line, looking to make a perfect join with the original line of three units; at the point where the small circle began. Breathe out, as gently as you can, for five units, closing the gap and making the figure complete. Then imagine you are the whole of that line, looking back at the small, solid square. Breath in while looking at the square, then return to contemplate the small circle, where you breathe out to begin the cycle, again.

You have come back to the beginning, back to the start of creation.

Repeat this for a maximum of ten breaths. Return to it after a rest if you wish to continue.

If you would like to combine this with the previously described ‘elements’ exercise (Part 2), use these symbolic attributions:

East – the small circle.

South – the line of three units.

West – the line of four units.

North – the line of five units.

And returning to the East-overhead, use a picture of the the circle shrinking to nothing as the final image. You will have symbolically cycled in and out of manifestation, involution and evolution.

(Note: If you suffer from any breathing difficulties or blood pressure, you should consult your doctor before doing any such exercises)

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (3)

A Union of Opposites (2)

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

A Union of Opposites (3) breathing with Pythagoras

As a schoolboy, struggling with mathematics, the name Pythagoras struck terror in me. I remember staring at the hated formula below and thinking I’d never get it…

In non-gobbledegook, the equation reads: (a squared equals b squared plus c squared). I can hear the teacher’s voice now, confident that everyone would find it intuitive!

Outside, the summer was passing, yet there we were in a hot classroom with dry as dust letters that could also be numbers… And not just that – not that the numbers themselves weren’t bad enough – we had to ‘square’ them as well! What sort of torture was that?

The language of mathematics eventually became a friend, but not before I had to talk myself down from the night-terrors of squares and equations. So, as a prelude to creating some unusual and powerful breathing to go with last weeks’ ‘elements’ exercise, let me share some of the insights about the inner work of Pythagoras, one of the greatest scientist/philosophers the world has ever known.

Years after that childhood terror, and as competent with maths as needed for a career in computing, I came across the diagram below, and realised there was a much better way to teach this stuff…especially if you had a philosophical leaning and wanted to understand the inner meaning of all numbers – of the key to the very idea of quantity, itself.

(Above: a different way of understanding ‘squared’ numbers.
image source )

The Greeks were wonderfully literal in their descriptions. They knew that when you multiplied a number by itself, in this case, ‘a squared’, it also described the AREA marked out by two lines of equal length (the boxes above), set against each other at a ‘right angle’; for example, box a, above, times itself, or a-squared. That square would have an internal space – an area – of one line length times the other. In this case, they are both the same number, so the result is that number multiplied by itself – or turned into a SQUARE.

If you contemplate the properties of the above diagram, you can see the clear linking of the square and the right-angled triangle.

Pythagoras was fascinated by triangles, seeing that many things in nature had two different aspects that were resolved by a third connecting them. In this way, the world moved forward, harmoniously. His most famous triangle is below.

(Above: the most famous triangle of Pythagoras)

The elements are as follows:

1. It has three sides, and three angles, hence it is a ‘tri-angle’. Ignore the large numbers in the diagram, for now. Their significance will emerge, later.

2. Two of the sides join in a special angle of 90 degrees. This is the same angle as that within a square, in fact, it is the only angle in a square. A square is a very special figure, as we shall see, later. The little square figure indicates that this triangle’s core angle is 90 degrees, otherwise known as a Right Angle.

3. There are three sides to this triangle. The longest side is always opposite the square figure that indicates the Right Angle. The longest side opposite the Right Angle is called the Hypotenuse, which originally meant ‘that which stretches under”.

4. Something that ‘stretches under’ or ‘runs beneath’, like a root on a plant, is a foundation that supports the rest of the structure. In the case of the right-angled triangle, the Hypotenuse of the triangle – that which unites everything, is reflected from the square sign opposite. Neither can exist without the other. The square sign – the right angle – has no dimensions. It is a fixed ‘understanding’ of squareness that is the basis of a unique relationship between two lines. The square is found throughout the universe. Most of the time it is invisible.

5. The square is also the basis of the dimensions of physics and mathematics. A point has no dimensions, just a theoretical position. The line has one dimension, which is length, this is the first use of numbers and direction. The parts of the line have to maintain a consistent direction or it’s not a straight line. ‘Straightness’ becomes foundational, like our square, in everything that follows. Straightness is an extension of Square as an underlying principle.

6. Beyond the straight line, which could go on forever and get dull, there is a need for creation to become more sophisticated in its unfolding of ‘form’. The combination of a square angle (90 deg) and another straight line defines the next dimension, that of an area, generally known as a ‘surface’. The surface is continuous across two dimensions, it’s no longer just a line, and it has an area, whose dimensions are the multiple of each line. A triangle is a surface, the simplest of surfaces, and in its architecture we can see all the principles of creation, plus one more: the two extensions from the original point, created by the ‘square’ or right-angle are ‘resolved’ or ‘made useful’ by the hypotenuse, that which stretches under, or joins, connects, unites, limits.

The process of the creation of form, on which all else in our material world is based, is therefore seen to contain an ongoing inner process, the reflection from the origin (the original square) to the limit of the extensions, in the form of the link between the original invisible square as right-angle and the largest side of the triangle.

In next week’s post, we will continue this foray into the mind and work of Pythagoras, and the further implications of his work. Before closing, however, it’s interesting to reconsider the most famous of the Pythagorean triangles, below, in the light of the above and the following questions:

Q1: can you locate the origin, the primary square, the first length, the second length and that which ‘stretches beneath’, linking the whole creation back to the origin?

Q2: Can you translate the Pythagorean equation below into its ‘action’ in the world, in line with the ‘creation story’ above?

(As a side note, a triangle, explained in this way, has sometimes been compared to the symbol of the Bow of the Archer…)

In the closing post of this ‘Intention’ series, we will consolidate the answers to the above into a single breathing exercise to add to the journey of the elements in Part 2.

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (2)

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

First the loss, then the joy…

Unbearable, this song of light
That ends the day before soft night
A gradient of blue to gold
A harmony, exquisite folds
Will live its life in seconds told

Content to live and die, this dome
This perfect bowl of evening’s home
Retains no anguish in the face
Of life as change and death as wrought
By turning Earth in solar thought

So should I rise past ego’s fear
Embracing every moment’s splendour
Content with presence, golden orb
Of Self, embarked on journey’s passing
And to this life let will Surrender

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

A Union of Opposites (2)

(Photo by the author and ©Copyright)

In Part One, we looked at the subtle meaning of the word ‘elements’, and how spiritual paths like Yoga and the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT) view them as essential components of our being.

If these energy states are the foundations of our conscious existence, why do they not arrange themselves in a harmonic way? The answers lie in knowing which part of us has been given control of our daily lives. In terms of Yoga, this ‘decider’ is viewed as a kind of ‘information body’; one that also carries a Karmic burden from our past.

Psychology views it as the personality – an accumulation of responses to the largely survival and emotionally-based challenges by which we learn to protect our ‘selves’ in the world. Both point to the inescapable fact that we need to ‘transcend’ the personality and wrestle with its fears and desires, if we are to make true spiritual progress. Our effort, plus the struggle, creates a third condition, in which we may make real change to our-selves.

This is not to diminish psychology. The ‘ascent of life’ in the form of efficient organic responses, carries forward the potential of more effective and integrative consciousness, by which matter becomes increasingly aware of its environment and itself…

Yoga’s approach is powerful, because it gets to the core of the issue: our everyday selves are based upon accumulated, reactive information. We overlay this with what we believe to be ‘right’. This is not reactive, but is for the good of the greater whole.

As in previous posts, the nature and force of our intention is vital. We hinted, last time, that there is a direct relationship between intention and the elements. This will be explored in the form of a practical exercise, in what follows.

Psychology dedicates itself to the restoration of the stable personality – the ‘self’, allowing those who have been damaged to resume their normal functioning in the world. Generally, psychology is not concerned with the spiritual, though there are notable exceptions, such as the work of Carl Jung, who well understood the elements and their place in the scheme of human consciousness.

Yoga has an intrinsic understanding of the Elements as the key to the foundation of the human. The energy centres that ascend up the spine – much like the WMT’s Middle Pillar on the Tree of Life – include the elements. I’ve appended a diagram of the Chakras to illustrate their positions:

(Table image source link)

Yoga’s temple is the body; with its interpenetrating layers. It is one of the finest conceptions of ‘divinity in matter’. In the West, we are less attuned to these ideas, and seem to respond more readily to a symbolic journey.

The WMT offers the basis of an interesting alternative to the yogic approach. This utilises the directions of space to represent the elements and their ‘signatures’.

We imagine ourselves to be in a cubic glass container (with no ceiling) whose walls are perfectly formed and glowing (within the material of the glass) with the mixed energies of the four elements. As such, they are not arranged in an orderly way, and are less able to serve us.

Designate one of the walls of the glass cube to be the East, the start of our rotation of the elements. Face this direction.

You can choose your own colour or pattern attributions if you wish, or adopt these: Pale yellow for the East; bright gold for the South; dark blue for the West and a rich and fertile earthy-brown for the North.

Extend your hands upwards over your head and and join them so that fingers 2-4 are intertwined and folded. Your first (index) fingers are aligned, raised and pressed together, and the thumbs crossed over each other, as in the photo below.

(Above: using the hands to create a living ‘intention’ symbol)

Your hands in this position form a potent symbol of INTENTION. By moving the balanced and locked fingers together, we are actively harmonising of opposites to produce a new, and higher, creation.

Now bring your raised hands down to point to the glass wall in front of you – the East. Look into the chaotic and swirling colours within the glass wall. Within your mind (or out loud if you can) speak your Intention that they resolve and assume their rightful energy. Then see in your living image the restoration of the pale yellow colour, flowing with peace and loving energy, but, above all, intelligence. At the same time feel a link between this cleansing and the energy within your heart chakra. Feel the same colour developing, there.

With the colour and the intelligence of the symbolic East wall of your cube established, let its light energise you and restore a great peace to your body.

We are now going to take this sense of intelligence, order and rightness around the other three directions of the compass and, at the same time, move vertically along the chakras.

To begin this, take a final look at the restored and orderly East face, with your hands still pointed there. Then raise your joined arms and rotate your body one cube face clockwise to face the South. As you make the rotation, be aware of a descent of the intelligence of the heart (and East) to the level of the navel.

Facing the South, take a breath to establish your Intention, then lower your arms and hands to point at the South face, issuing your command to order and rightness and extending the controlling intelligence and discrimination. See the swirling colours resolve to a beautiful gold, then feel the warmth of the overhead sun burning away any negative emotions you may have. Simply be with the sun, and let it feed you with the warmth of its power and rightness.

When this feeling is established, let the energy of the wall be reflected in your navel, slowly, but be conscious of the control coming from the heart centre, directed downwards. Raise your arms again, and, as you turn, visualise the descent of the sun energy, wrapped in the intelligence of the heart, to the level of the West face, linked with the Water element and centred at the root of the genitals. Feel the cleansing and cooling Water element wash away the disorderly colours of the West face. Feel and see the blue water wrapped in the gold of the sun, and, in turn, the pale yellow Intelligence of the heart.

Make the third turn to face the North in the same way. Link the North face with the basal chakra in the muscles of the anus. Apply an internal tension to this part of the body, seeing the colours of the North resolve into the rich and fertile earth colour, taking its place like a seed, embedded in the other colours.

Now make the final turn, but keep the hands raised while moving the accumulated energies up the spine to a place between the heart centre and the throat. Raise your head to ‘look to the heavens’. Gaze on your joined hands with their living symbol of Intention. Then gaze beyond them and offer the energies to the direction of your Higher Self, only. Feel you whole spine tingling with the harmonious joy of your being, with its elemental energies restored and balanced.

In next week’s final post in this series, we will describe one or two powerful refinements to this exercise of the Elements. If you have been able to practice this, you will gain additional focus and energy from these…

Other posts in this series:

A Union of Opposites (1)

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

From no-thing

From no-thing do you come?
Not did, for did is burned
But do, as in a breath
Drawn in and then returned

From no-where do you come?
Not where, for where
Would fix the place
From which you show
your laughing face

From no-when do you come?
For when would break the flow
Into before and after glow
And birth begin a tale
That only times my watch of you
Not whence, but hence…
The life unfolds

And am I not as you
But eyed?
My skin your petal’s blush
Against the sky
And thus I see we never died
Nor will, nor can
Within this son of Man
Who waits within
The coming of a higher kin

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

WHAT’S UP DOC? Lines of communication…

Presentation from, The Jewel in the Claw workshop, April 2018…



For those with eyes to see…


Floor Set up

Altar, placed centrally on chequered floor and covered… With, placed on it, top-hat, upended, with, placed in it, rabbit mask and ears x2, and ‘pack-of-cards’, all also covered. South and North lined with nine chairs for Companions.  Adjudicator 1 (male) to sit on central chair of South. Adjudicator 2 (female) to sit on central chair of North. Two chairs in East. One chair in West.

Bugs and Cara initially sit on chairs in East. When all Companions have entered and are seated Cara and Bugs rise to stand, simultaneously, and Cara walks clockwise to stand in front of the west chair.


Bugs: Friends, Britons, Countrymen…Welcome to our presentation. In keeping with our Shakespearean theme this year, we have determined to develop some of the concepts of the weekend…

Cara: Horizontal Polarity!

(Bugs and Cara walk anti-clockwise. Bugs to stand before West chair. Cara to stand before East chairs. On the way, Bugs hands Adjudicator 2 Gold Parchment with a sonnet printed on it. On reaching the West Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Love!

Cara:  recites the Shakespearean sonnet as a ‘lover’…

Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of your desire?

I have no precious time at all to spend,

Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,

Nor think the bitterness of absence sour

When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought

Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,

But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought

Save, where you are how happy you make those.

   So true a fool is love that in your will,

   Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

(Adjudicator 2 ‘follows’ the recital from the Gold Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara and Bugs switch positions again but this time they move clockwise. On the way Cara hands Adjudicator 1 Silver Parchment with the sonnet printed on it. On reaching the East, Bugs declares…)

Bugs: Loathing!

Cara: recites the same Shakespearean sonnet but this time as a ‘loather’…

(Adjudicator 1 ‘follows’ the recital from the Silver Parchment. On finishing the reading Cara moves clockwise to the South to collect Adjudicator 1 and leads him to the central altar. Bugs moves clockwise to the North to collect Adjudicator 2 and leads her to the central altar. Both Adjudicators follow the central line of the ‘board’ and square corners around the altar, to stand facing each other centrally as directed by Bugs and Cara. Once at the altar they are asked to verify that both the scripts are the same. When they have done so they swap parchments and then are led to opposite seats and re-seated.)

Bugs returns to East.

Cara returns to West.

(During the following exchange they circle the altar, alternating between East and West as they speak.)

Bugs: Ladies and Gentlemen, please, a hand for our adjudicators…

Cara: And so, we see, that, Horizontal Polarities are interchangeable, and represent two sides of the same coin…

And we can also see, that, opposite ‘emotions’ can be evoked by the self-same words?

Bugs: The written word, it seems, needs context…

Cara: But if we cannot trust the written word what can we trust?

to be continued…

A Union of Opposites

(Photo by the author and ©Copyright)

Anyone having a basic knowledge of the history of philosophical thought will be familiar with the ‘quaint notion’ that the world is made of a mixture of four ‘elements’ – Earth, Air, Fire and Water; with possibly a fifth, the Quintessence.

Given to us by the Greeks, from probably older sources, this idea was seen to be displaced by the advance of science into the composition of matter – specifically the discover of atoms.

From an objective perspective, this is correct; but the ancient minds, lacking our science, built a system to explain the world that relied upon the ‘laboratory of the subjective’ – more specifically the retort of the ‘self’. Sympathetic insight and logic were two of the tools employed.

Modern psychology has given us accurate behavioural maps of the psychological self. Where, then, is the fit between the ‘elements’ and the parts of the ‘me’?

The artful science of Yoga may provide some clues…because, surprisingly, Yoga makes use of the ‘elements’, too.

Yoga means simply union. Yoga’s origins can be traced to northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in ancient sacred texts called the Rig Veda. In the yogic view of reality, the elements are types of energy that blend, in a divine union of the physical and emotional natures of us all. Surprisingly, yoga devotes little time to what we view as the psychological self, viewing it (to paraphrase in my own terms) as like being in a market full of the freshest fruit and vegetables, yet hearing only the competing voices of the owners of the stalls, as they vie for our attention.

The desired state of attention is one where we are only present to the beauty of the produce, in all its natural splendour; yet capable of switching ‘back on’ a stall-holder or two, in the event we find a new vegetable we don’t know how to prepare, or whose cost we have to ascertain.

I’ve referred to this mixture of intention and attention in previous posts.

So how does this level of intention relate to the four elements that make up our ‘energetic being’?

Yoga views everything real within the human vehicle as a body. These ‘bodies’ are like sheaths of increasingly fine experience. The idea of this is mirrored in the ‘temples of the mysteries’ of the Western Mystery Tradition (WMT), which assigns one of four (compass) quarters to the traditional four elements.

Uniting the two reveals some of the keys to this schema of the human. The East, the place of the officiating priest, is allocated to Air (intellect). The West, the place of the priestess, is allocated to Water (Emotions); the North (Physicality) to Earth; and the South to Fire (the Transformative force, the summer sun at noon).

An intrinsic part of yoga’s teaching is that the four energy types that comprise our real self are responsive to our intention. They are there to respond to our will, and can, with a little consistency on our part, transform our lives.

The basic Hatha Yoga teaching that promotes this is called ‘Bhuta Shuddhi’ – the cleansing of the five elements. It is traditionally taught in small classes, but we can glean some if it’s benefits by combining our knowledge of Yoga with the WMT, making a ‘temple’ of the space around us.

The fifth element is Akasha, translated as space. This needs to be explained, separately, and represents a higher perspective on the whole.

In next week’s post, we will describe one method to create this ‘space of the personal temple’, and describe how you can, using your own words and symbols, make interaction with your four energy bodies a more conscious part of your life.

[Recent posts related to intention and attention:

Intention chooses Heaven

Intention chooses Heaven (2)]

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Intention chooses Heaven (2)

(Image by author)

In Part One, we looked at the personal development of equanimity as an important step in attaining an inner state that allows room for new, and deeper, aspects of consciousness.

Equanimity takes us into a ‘new space’ within ourselves. We are aware of the world and its ups and downs, but we don’t react to in the way we used to. Instead, we have a heightened consciousness that is present yet detached from the stream of experience that’s coming at us. By not identifying ourselves with the content of that stream, we awaken something within, something that is calmer and far more out true nature.

This generates a need to understand the inner nature of the stream of events that we experience. We begin to question it in a different way. The idea of ‘accounting for our actions’ is well established in our Western minds in the West. The word ‘Karma’ began to filter into western consciousness in the early years of the last century, fuelled by a perception that the East possessed ancient truths which, combined with the West’s grasp of science, would enhance and enrichen our lives.

There were many interpretations of karma. Some saw it simply as cause and effect, with one’s actions producing a moral response from a ‘greater authority’, rewarding or retarding our perceived journey towards some distant perfection.

The Buddhists interpreted it differently. They perceived that if and understanding of karma was approached from a basis of personal equanimity, it offered the possibility of self-development ‘in the moment’. This was mirrored in the ‘Fourth Way’ philosophy of Gurdjieff, which spoke to the modern men and woman of the first half of the last century, needing to reconcile a society being changed, drastically, in each decade.

Gurdjieff spoke of a ‘third force’ that had the power to resolve seeming paradoxes. Not action and not reaction, this force could only come into being in special circumstances.

Because equanimity is a mental and emotional state detached from the flow of events, we can understand that our ‘now’ inherits the results of past actions but also gives us the potential to exist in a deeper state where karmic inheritance is secondary in power to a deeper consciousness.

I remember an admonition from an old Rosicrucian text read in my teens;

“When the consciousness arrives at this point, all judgement is suspended because we have become part of the unfolding of reality, not a reactive opposition to it…”

Does this detachment mean we don’t care what happens in the world? We do look at the world differently from this vantage. For a start, we realise that we live only in our world. This is not to say that experiences are not shared. They are; but each is different for the soul experiencing them. There is no exact commonality of experience, for it is composed of the product of what is happening plus how we react to it; and those seemingly small differences can result in an entirely different lived episode.

An early business mentor told me I needed to study really successful executives in dynamic corporate environments for I would find they spend the majority of their time listening… Only within a quiet synthesis of the present will they act.

In a belief system where karma operates rigidly, with the past actions determining the present, there is little room for free will. The Buddhists and Gurdjieff saw that actions truly in the now shape in ‘real time’ the present as well as the future. This restores action in the now to the causal level, and to the extent this happens, restores to us a degree of free will. For Buddhists, this is symbolised by flowing water. Too strong a flow and we can do little but secure our footing. But if the flow is gentle, then we may have much greater freedom. The skill would be in knowing the difference…

Both Buddhism, and the Gurdjieff method speak of a new type of action that is only possible at that quiet level of the self, where the egoic nature is silenced, and this new ‘quiet room’, seen previously only from the outside, is entered. Within this deeply peaceful space the greater Self can act in a way that makes it part of the unfolding wave of reality.

It’s easy to begin this journey into the self via the kind of guided meditation presented here:

When you are falling asleep tonight, visualise a fisherman’s net in your mind. See it clearly; feel its texture and colour. Imagine you are running your fingers over the small holes and testing their strength. Let your fingers travel to the point where the material of the net gives way to the stronger ropes that pull the loaded net from the water.

Tell yourself you will awaken with this image in your mind for use on the day that follows.

The morning after, hold in your mind the intention that when you feel yourself getting angry or impatient at any point during the day, you will cast this net around the perceived circumstances. Then imagine dragging the net out of the water and standing over it, look it at the ‘catch’. See the emotions normally generated by such circumstances struggling inside the net, resisting your work in ‘landing it’.

When this happens, see yourself smiling and let your hand slide back over the main ropes and ask yourself this question: “Who is holding this rope?”

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog.

Intention chooses Heaven

(Image by author)

The words stopped my reading… I mean I read them and had to go back to them, immediately – not even finishing the sentence before returning.

Intention has long fascinated. It’s one of those vitally important words that belong with a handful of others, like memory, or will, or detachment, or even truth. Each of them carries great import when, and only when, it’s placed in its correct hierarchy of spiritual importance to mankind. It’s hard to imagine how important these words are. Familiarity has dulled their powers, but that can be fixed by conscious exposure to their reality.

The rusty object can be dug from the earth and, with time and dedication, lovingly restored to the mantelpiece.

“Intention chooses heaven”

I was reading a Buddhist text quoted in a favourite author, Tiramit, in which the placing and importance of ‘intention’ was clearly spelled out.

In the book of Genesis, we are admonished: ‘But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. This instruction, far from being some general command, is a specific psychological reference that a certain pattern of thinking will take us away from ‘heaven’.

Good and evil is to like or dislike. By liking or disliking we engage with the elements of life which draw or repel us. Instead of ‘seeing the heavens reflected in a calm sea’ we create the waves that prevent us from seeing the starry sky.

So how do we get back to bathing in the eternal calmness of starlight? One of the keys is to understand the proper place of intention; and to do that, we must examine our own lives in detail to find out what stops us using the full power of this human faculty.

Intention is not simply will. Will is a kind of sustained emotion. It keep our effort focussed on a goal, a direction. Intention is to find that focus in the first place; moreover, to find a space within us where we can see the possibilities with the greatest inner clarity and calmness.

The article referred to when the Buddha, sitting under the Boddhi tree, was assailed by the demons of Mara. He repelled them by calling the Earth to witness the large number of perfections he had accumulated over ‘past lives’. Tiramit’s post invites us to interpret such ‘past lives’ in two ways: literally or figuratively. If the latter, then it invites us to review the highs and lows of our present lives in a way that is attentive yet dispassionate – seeing everything we have done, accurately and honestly, yet not allowing either negative or positive feelings (dislikes or likes) about each experience to arise. We make it simply part of the wave that was and is our lives. It is truth, if viewed in this way. It therefore simply becomes an ‘is’, or as the Buddha would have said, it is ‘thus’…

Such reviews of personal history are a time-honoured method of arriving at a state of equanimity. We need to acknowledge the power that like and dislike have held over us. We need to see that the world’s accolades of material gain are not those belonging to the inner consciousness. Very different qualities are valued by our inner Self.

And get past being the victim or the star of the show…

Within equanimity, we are alert to but not identified with, events. We see our past as important only in that it got us ‘here’; and here is immediately relinquished to the movement of the now, ever fresh and ever full of potential – but if equanimity prevails, that potential has been subtly altered. It’s like an equilateral triangle: balance the like and dislike of the two base points and something wonderful happens at the third…

Our true, inner power in the now is to be present to it, which, in turn bring its sense of presence to us. The world becomes intelligent as teacher. This marriage of attention and power invites a new state of intent, as we clearly see the right way forward and move consciously along a front that unites our inner and outer worlds.

A full understanding of this requires that we investigate what is actually meant by ‘Karma’, rather than the petty ‘action and judgement’ modes of its comprehension.

We will discuss the ‘law of Karma’ and its deeper implications, in next week’s Silent Eye post.

The Dhamma Footsteps article is here.

©Stephen Tanham 2021

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog