Can’t Get No Tripti-Yoga
Meditation by Dr. Lorin Roche
A meditation on satisfaction & dissatisfaction inspired by The Radiance Sutras, a new translation of the vijnana bhairava tantraTripti
-yoga – “satisfaction” - (Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p 454)
Keith Richards said something the other day on the radio that really struck a chord in my heart. He was talking about growing up in a bleak London suburb, in soul-destroying concrete housing. When he heard the music of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Elvis, that was just starting to pulse through England, his world turned from dull grey to Technicolor. And it is still that way for him, he said – the music still thrills him. He is still that hungry teenager craving redemption through rock ‘n roll.
Think of the wild joy we all feel when we rock out to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." It feels like total rebellion, and at the same time it speaks to something primal in the human heart. The song is so deeply true that it takes us beyond itself into the realm of spiritual teachings. Without a doubt, it’s one of the all-time great rock songs. Simultaneously it is something Buddha could have said: Suffering exists; Suffering arises from craving for existence. The song came to Keith in the middle of the night and woke him up. He recorded the guitar riff and a few words, then went back to sleep. The tape, he says, had two minutes of the song and forty minutes of him snoring.
For me, the experience of the world turning to Technicolor came through listening to mantras. On the surface, you’d think this is a different path, but maybe not. Maybe I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor listening to the rock ‘n roll of the universe in the Song of God. Surely, I am as desperate and broken as Keith – it is just that I received intense deep training, in that tantra-yoga way, in how to slip into the vibrant silence at the basis of a mantra and find a stunning amount of healing. If I hadn’t had that, as a teenager, I am sure I would have found heroin. In yoga, I learned to ride the waves of dissatisfaction into the realm beyond, satisfaction itself. Every mantra is a statement of the possibility of satisfaction – “dissolve into me and I will take you there.” The I AM presence at the center of each mantra is the wholeness beyond all these parts. Every mantra says, “You can sip of this elixir even while here in a mortal body.”
When I encountered the teachings of the vijnana bhairava tantra, I learned to melt into a mantra and dissolve with it into the spacious silence that music emerges from. I still need it. I am still electrified by the juicy power of silence that floods my body after a mantra fades away.
In yoga, the world is sound and reality is a four-stringed guitar:
–The outer sound, that which we hear with our ears. Vaikhari. This is the least powerful level of sound, even though it is really great.
– The inner sound that we hear in our minds. Madhyama. This is more powerful, because it is inside you.
–The vibration just before it becomes audible to inner hearing; a luminous pulsation of energy. Pashyanti. More powerful still.
–The beyond–space, the potentiality of resonance. The ocean of silence. Para.
Secretly, I think the Lord of Music has added more strings in the past few thousand years – who is to say that God cannot innovate? But let’s go with these four for the sake of discussion.
Meditating with a mantra is the skill of listening to sound on all these levels. You don’t just say the mantra out loud. You listen to the subtler strings as well, and allow the beauty to carry you away into the silence. This is a profound dissolution, which has echoes of orgasm, that little-death, sleep, and something more - the utterly refreshing sense of an individual body renewing its contact with the universal body of love. A fresh start, a new breath, a rebirth, and you get a new astrological chart. We crave the same thing in music: carry me away, cleanse me, save my life. The energy that carries us into the ecstasy of a good concert, or the sublime bliss of a good meditation, is the same: the desire for oneness, to become one with the music of life, to merge with the fundamental pulsation of creation.
People seem to think that mantras are peaceful, that they are the transcendental song of life, always vibrating everywhere. Of course this is true, but the mantras we use are also saturated with despair and broken-heartedness, if we look up the stories associated with the major mantras: Shiva and Shakti. Rama and Sita. Krishna and Radha. Their lives are a combination of occasional bliss and incandescent terror. Shiva and Shakti were in love and wanted to marry, but her father refused, so she threw herself into the sacrificial fire and burned to death. Rama and Sita were married, but Ravana captured her and kept her hostage. With the help of Hanuman Sita was returned, but people were gossiping – maybe she had sex with Ravana, the demon-king. And maybe, therefore, it is Sita’s fault that there was a miscarriage in the village. So they tested Sita by making her walk through fire. Krishna and Radha were in love, but Krishna was a player, and the astrologers said they did not match up for long-term happiness. Also, in some versions, Radha was already married, with no possibility of divorce, so their love was condemned to be unfulfilled except in the hot nights down by the river. It was a passionate, illicit love. Heartbreak from one end to the other. The stories embedded in the mantras are as raw and primordial as any rock song blasting out its endless ache of lust and longing.Arati
is Sanskrit for dissatisfaction, so we could say the plot of these mantras is propelled by arati-shakti, the power of divine discontent. It’s what makes us search, and propels us on our journey through the universe. These stories point to eternal yearning for union, everlasting bliss, and the risky adventure of being incarnate in a body. Even the gods, when they take on bodies, are in for the ride. This is because divinity meets us where we are. By chanting their names, doing mantra yoga and listening to all four strings of God’s guitar, we make the voyage from yearning to fulfillment.
The teaching in the VBT (the vijnana bhairava tantra) is, throw yourselves in to your practice, don’t hold back. Let everything you are, all your desires, give power to your meditation. Every ache in your heart adds to the arati-shakti of your sadhana. Anything you think is unworthy in yourself, the gods suffer that also. Bring your rebel rocker, bring your loneliness, bring your exuberance, bring it all, and let your meditation be the inner music of your dance with life.
Links to the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English DictionaryTriptiArati