Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kathmandu, half way to heaven? By Gaby

One remarkable particularity of Tantra is to propose the view that the "micro" aspect of the universe reflects the "macro" aspect and vice-versa. More than that, there is a "continuum universe" from micro to macro that we are somewhere in between.

Gokarna, a yajna at the Shiva Temple
This view is expressed in various ways like the famous "So above, so below" but you can also find it in the not less famous "Samsara equals Nirvarna", meaning, there is no duality between the "here and now" and the "heavens" or the looked after state of union (yoked) with the Absolute. No need to run away from the world to find an illusory Nirvana.

We can also find similar meaning in the message of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, (not a usual reference Tantric scripture though):

BG III- 11  With this (sacrifice) may you sustain the deities so that the deities may sustain you. Sustaining one another, you shall obtain the supreme good.

BG III- 12  For, sustained by sacrifice, the deities will give you the desired “food”. He who enjoys their gifts without giving something in return is but a thief.

BG III- 13  Good men, consuming the sacrificial leavings, are released from all guilt, but those who cook for their own sake are evil and “eat” the karmic fruits of wickedness.

Like always in eastern philosophy, without a practical application, it would be considered futile or simply a "brain" exercise. WIthout even attempting a religious or spiritual explanation, taking Nature or Earth as an example of our macro universe, the above verses becomes quite clear: we need to sustain our environment so it can sustain us, and those who are just taking (without giving back) are called "thieves" and will end up eating the karmic fruits of their responsibility.

Looking at our bodies and all its functions as an example of our micro universe, here again it is clear that without providing the body with sacred sacrificial food (activity, equanimity, clean air/water, organic food etc) we are just robing ourself of health and I am sure you can figure out for yourselves what the karmic fruits can be.

Like in Varanasi (India) the ancient inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley wanted to embeb this ideal in their daily life.

Bhaktapur, Durbar Square

Since we are the middle cosmos, (between the micro and the macrocosm), they organized the environment in a way that would  constantly remind of our middle position, just like building a city-size Mandala (or Yantra) in which we would evolve; a spiritual landscape (some use the word faith-scape).

A place where Gods, (as representant of the macrocosmos) and humans live together in harmony. Each corner or angle representing a power point where to place a specific deity with a specific function to energize, protect, fertilize etc.

In this way you will find around the cities of Patan, Bhakatapur and Katmandu, 4 holy hills, 4 main Vishnu temple, 4 main Ganesh temple etc and by drawing imaginary lines between these power, you would draw a sort of Mandala with the city at the center. Each power point you will find a lingam, a pool of water (kund) a large tree (usualy a ficus religiosa) a temple, a fountain etc.

Obviously this goes along with a well organized calendar of festivals during which all respective deities would be worshipped to make sure none is neglected, and routes to allow pilgrims to go around, perform "yatra", along these imaginary mandala lines, stopping in each power point to pay respect making sacrifices (yajna).

Shanku, VajraYogini Temple
Each angle or corner of the mandala is considered Thirtha, a passage, a gate, a ford, a connection with the other world (the Ultimate or Absolute). Doing a Yatra along the lines of the mandala is a powerful way to connect with the Absolute.

Doing a yoga training in Kathmandu today still allows to benefit of that unfortunately vanishing energy and to refuel at the source of the yogic science and the reason why Nepal is called Sadhana Bhumi. See previous blog article in this respect. When practicing in Nepal, the mighty Himalayas will remind you of the macro by their majestic aspect and mere size. The meso-cosmos, as seen here is everywhere. The micro-cosmos will be the subject of our study and inquiry through our sadhana. Of course the spirit of all the enlightened master who have chosen to reside in the Himalaya will be helping us on our path.

Today's modern urban imperatives are unfortunately ignorant of the macro and micro cosmos.  And despite the economic model is falling apart everywhere, only the eco-cosmos is to be maintained at all price and our gods are called automobiles, supermarkets, petrol stations, airport etc.

In Kathmandu, despite being the most polluted city in Asia, projects are cutting trees to increase the size of the roads to allow more cars to travel (and only the rich have cars here), and it seems the brand-new car show room receive more attention than the temples.
Nowadays, everybody takes, but no one gives, as it is the major tenet of capitalism. We take all our resources from nature but do not give back anything, except pollution, because it would destabilize the eco-cosmos.

Let see what karmic fruits we will have to eat. My feel is that they will be very bitter, if not poisonous.

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