Right now, I’m plowing my way through the 500 or so pages of The Yoga of the 18 Siddhas: An Anthology. (We saw images of them in at least one of the temples we visited on our Namarupa Yatra nearly a year ago.) These Southern Indian sages are a less known lineage and branch of study. We’re all more familiar with Northern Indian Tantric “counterparts.”
A lot of it, to my surprise, is very proscriptive: Do this, and this, plus this to reach Samadhi or Siva-Consciousness. (The Siddhas are from the Saiva tradition, so the metaphors are of Kundalini and snakes and the nectar of immortality.) Here’s an example, from Bogar:
Directing the vital breath in the sitting posture will stop ageing;
Converting the physical body to ten million suns
Which will exist for three aeons time
Driving away desires and achieving contentment.
Other verses are more — to use one of our favorite words — esoteric. And the language itself, Tamil, is referred to as “twilight language”: Its meaning is obscure to begin with (the perfect language for poetry, then).
Verses like the above get to the heart of one notion of samadhi: eternal life. But it comes through that there is an opposite way of thinking about eternity, not just the grand expanse of time and space and existence. There also is making the present moment last. “Be here now,” as one noted contemporary sage has written.
This is, of course, one core idea to meditation. As I’ve been reading through these poems, a way of thinking about it — new to me, at least — bubbled up. It sort of involves math, so I apologize in advance for that.
You have to imagine two objects and the distance between them. (Back in high school, where I think I first was introduced to this idea, it was a boy and girl across the classroom.) You then have one object move half the distance toward the other. Then the other moves half the remaining distance closer. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
And even if you repeat it infinitely, or forever, the two object never will touch. Some distance — half of what just was — remains.
It occurred to me one night that being here now could be discovered or explored in a similar way. If one could focus first on this moment, and then try to divide it in half and focus on one side, and then divide that in half and focus on one side, and continue to do so, one would remain forever in the here and now, never getting out of this one particular moment.
This is something that our go-to Sage at this blog wrote, in Auguries of Innocence:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
In this case, we think, he wasn’t being ironic.
Posted by Steve