From the beginning there never was a secret, every mystery you have ever wondered about has been hidden in plain sight.

We are the Ātmeśvara Mārga School, and if we took ourselves seriously enough to have an "official" voice, this would be it. We are dedicated to the process of human integration, of moving from the segregated, mechanistic, conditioned state, to the Integrated, unconditioned state of the awake, adult human.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

knight in shining armor

Remember the Tin Man? Protected, yes. But immobilized by his armor. Lacking in life experience and doomed to merely watch from the sidelines. Longing for some heart.

Who, or what, can protect you from experiencing pain? The fear of pain and discomfort is one of the biggest blocks to the awakened state. I was driving down the street recently and a flash of brightness caught my eye. I noticed that up on the roof of an auto parts store was what appeared to be a medieval knight in shining armor. Above it all, looking down on the street, the silver metal flashed in the sun, but revealed nothing of what was beneath it.

The pain of truth is temporary, but the pain of lies goes on forever. In the awakening process, the remote, protected knight must strip away her armor, come down from the roof and stop pretending to be a participant from afar. The metal plates must be peeled away, one by one, so the tender flesh beneath is revealed, and may revel in the bright light of truth. The vulnerability of this process is often painful and is best undertaken with gentleness towards self.

Truth is. As simply as that. Can you remove your armor, one piece at a time, to allow the experience of truth? At first it feels like there are many bits to Truth, but that's more a condition of the small ways it filters in. Once the armor of un-truth is completely gone, Truth will be experienced as it is- that which cannot be simpler. In the meantime, keep de-armoring yourself. Come down off that roof. Become unguarded.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Leaving lonely

All is illusion; separation and connection, both.

My teacher recently remarked that he remembered the day he realized he no longer experienced loneliness. How at a certain time, the feeling was no longer there. What does it take to lose loneliness?

To confront the illusion of separation is welcomed. We long for the cozy togetherness of One. Dismantling the illusion of connection is one of the greater challenges of the awakening process. The paradox is that the process of gaining ultimate oneness is a lonely one. In order to achieve it, we must leave the comfort of false camaraderie behind and tread a solitary path strewn with long, lonely stretches of self confrontation.

It takes courage and determination to make this journey. In a sense it is akin to the processes of birth, differentiating and growing up. How painful it is to leave the comfy warm womb and get squished through the dark birth canal. The solitary way to leaving loneliness is a reminder of learning to sleep through the night. A child must learn to comfort herself in order to have a good night's rest. How painful (for us and for others) to begin differentiating in toddlerhood. And growing up - in order to become one with the larger community, we must leave the comfort of family and stand on our own.

How much of the connection we think real, is actually a shared illusion? A common painful story? A way of continuing the false separation? We bond over negative experience....I need you to tell me I'll be alright...I need you to help me feel good about myself...I agree to do the same for you and we'll both feel better about it. Even in the places where we try to make the relationship about accountability rather than co-dependence, we are still dancing in the duality of You and Me.

In the quest for enlightenment, we must learn to recognize false camaraderie when it offers a comforting distraction from the task of learning to be fine with our own company. This loneliness is a temporary condition which will dissolve when we are willing to be with it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In the Gap

Can you "hold space"?  This is a term thrown around a great deal in the world of personal growth. We are asked to hold space for our feelings or those of another. What does this actually mean? As it is used in this way, it means to contain experiences. However, "space" is the gap. Space is the emptiness between matter...feelings...experiences...stories....stuff.  

Sometimes the space between words stretches out. A gap occurs which may feel uncomfortable. This is a time of power. In the gap we can open focus to see the larger picture. In the gap we can become aware of the ratio between matter and space. Our "stuff" is reduced to mere protons, neutrons and electrons. It is a good practice to become comfortable with, or at least accepting of the gap, rather than attempting to fill it. Can you imagine holding space for the emptiness, which in fact, is the much greater portion of what is?

Let yourself be in the gap.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Diminishing Returns

Awakening is often likened to subtraction. Peeling away layer upon layer of un-Truth so as to find the pearl of Truth in the center. The initial motivation for most in this process is to find relief of pain or depression, or to gain peace of mind, unity with the divine, or enduring joy. These desires for an outcome, or some sort of return, keep Seekers seeking, doing the work to "get something."

While seeking the awakened state we are asked to let go of so many things. One of the most difficult may be attachment to a guaranteed outcome. The price of awakening is everything. The outcome is nothing.

So when in the awakening process the time comes that it seems like all the work is for nothing, this is a moment of Truth- and one which may be incredibly uncomfortable. But rather than cling to pylons of belief about what we may "get" out of it- out of anything for that matter- let go and drift out into the open sea of the unknown.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Doing the Five Tibetans

Here is a brief Instructional video on how to do the Five Tibetans along with some of the modifications we use for people with physical challenges.

It might be a little difficult to learn the Tibetans from a video alone (though not impossible) but if you have attended a class this will be a good reminder of the process.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Space: The Final Frontier

In the journey to be awake, much time is spent in looking for what is real. Noticing feelings, reactions and stories. But when you get right down to it, what is this reality we seek to dance with? How much of it is based on assumptions? Is there a solid foundation anywhere on which to stand?

Quantum physics teaches that in spite of our perceptions of a solid world, emptiness takes up the vast majority of "space". The deeper into space we go, the harder it shakes established beliefs- about Self and the Universe. Stare long enough into the void, and precious stories dissolve. Some very primal fears must be confronted. Fear of no center. Fear of no meaning. And ultimately, fear of no Self.

Exploration of this frontier of vast and unknown space can be approached as an adventure or as a dreaded mission. Or it may refused as well. Consider beginning with small spaces. Notice the empty places inside your own body. Notice the space outside yourself.

This is the beginning of contact with reality.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mechanics of Giving

In the quest to be an awakened being, recognition of mechanical patterns is a vital step. Where it can get sneaky is where the habit is a "good" one. Exercise. Teaching. Volunteering.These are good habits.

For example, how could generosity be a problem? We "should" be giving human beings, right? It's important to help others when they need it, right? Taking the should out of the equation is the first step. Removing value judgments from our actions is essential, and oh-so-challenging for most people.

The term Enlightened Self-Interest is one which may be appropriate in being honest about why we do our acts of service. Examine the motivations behind giving. Do I give to get? Do I give to feel good about myself? Do I give so I won't feel bad about my own good fortune? Generosity in itself is a lovely thing if we can be conscious about it, are willing to root out expectations and be in clarity with why we do what we do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shen Haung Chi Kung

We are very excited to introduce this rarely taught health and longevity art, developed in the Taoist temples of the Hubei region, China.

Shen Haung Chi Kung works to develop “chansiijing” (reel-ing silk energy) and to free the spine through “string of pearls” and “swimming dragon” exercises. Shen Haung Chi Kung creates a strong and supple core, floods the joints with Synovial fluid to remove toxins and bring nutrients, thereby helping to fight the process of aging.

Shen Haung Chi Kung practice strengthens both “post-birth” and “pre-birth” Chi. The practice consists of four distinct elements, the warm up, the standing set, the moving set, and the cool down. The Warm up takes the body’s joints through various “range of motion” and complex rotation exercises to prepare the body for the next two sets. The Standing set is designed to help the individual gather chi in preparation for the next set. The moving set circulates the gathered chi, flushing the system of stagnant energy while revitalizing body and mind.

-Supple Joints
-Strong Core
-Dynamic Energy
-Flexible Spine
-Youthful Vigor

Dates: May 21- July 9th
Time: Thursday’s 7-8:30 pm
Location: The Armenta Studio
955 Wealthy Street SE Grand Rapids
Fee: $100

To register, email:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Falling Down

Things can be going along quite nicely, the path feeling smooth, the messages all thumbs up. We cannot help but dance for joy in the music of our lives. Suddenly something is in the way, the road no longer smooth. We trip. Maybe we fall. We look around, did anyone see that clumsiness? Possibly all those who moments ago were our cheerleaders. Possibly nobody at all.

One of the big challenges on the path of our lives is how to deal with these falls. If the stumble was caused by our own unawareness, do we stand accountable for our actions? Do we become discouraged and just sit on the side of the road pouting in self-pity over a skinned knee? If the fall was seemingly caused by another's action, do we waste energy in anger and blame?

Developing an ability to keep moving forward whether the road is smooth or bumpy is key to reaching our destination. A key in this is of course, holding the non-attached view of our journey. (Take advantage while down of noticing what things look like from below- there could be important information there). Another is remembering to continue both being accountable and being kind to our selves in doing so.

Look at babies becoming toddlers: they fall all the time. They may bump something in the landing. They may cry for a moment, but they don't blame someone else, or give themselves a hard time. And they get back up. Because the most important thing is their desire for mobility.

How strong is your desire for mobility? Are you willing to keep getting back up?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Rest of the Story

There is a story of Gautama that is usually only told in part. The part that is spoken of is often quoted by people who would like to make a spiritual path that is comfortable for them, one where they can pick and choose their lessons.

"The Buddha asked his disciples how they would get across a river. 'With a boat', they replied. The Buddha asked, 'When you arrived at the other shore, would you carry the boat with you or would you leave it on the margin?', The disciples replied,'We would leave it on the margin and go on without it'.The Buddha said,'In the same way, when you arrive at the other side of the river, you may leave the boat of doctrine and practice.'"

Here is the rest of the story:

Buddha and his disciples came to a river and taking a boat, crossed. The Buddha then delivered the parable given above. The disciples, understanding the meaning of the story, left the boat and followed Buddha on his journey. In a few hours they came to another river. Buddha sat under a tree laughing, and waited for his disciples to go back and fetch the boat they left on the shore of the first river.

It is not a "thing" that you get, it is a process.
It doesn't matter what poetry you quote
The poet means what he means,
not what you wish he meant.

No matter how often you call a weed a rose,
You will never change its scent.
And the only river that matters
Is the one that you find at the end of your life.

The question is, when you reach the banks,
Have you developed the strength and discipline
You will need to make it to the other side.
Or will you be swept away into oblivion.

Thinking about enlightenment
is not the same as being awake.
The map is not the territory,
but if you insist that you are in
Ifsfahan when you are in Shiraz,
you will never make it to Mecca,
no mater how good your map is.

The saddest ones of all Are the ones who,
thinking they see the shore,
Leave the boat in the middle of the river.
And then tell us that breathing water
Is enlightenment.