Q: Is Shaktipat, this spiritual force something that we should call on before we meditate, or is it something that’s just there?
Mark: This is something that doesn’t really flow from the power of a single teacher, but from the cumulative force of the lineage – an assembly of spiritual intention that comes from a line of spiritual teachers. It provides a stable presence of spiritual awakening that you are connected to when you connect to the teacher. So it’s present. Just think of the session, think of me, and it will assemble and manifest inside.
Q: Is my inability to go further into an expanded state of consciousness more likely to stem from inner resistance or lack of more Shaktipat experience?
Mark: Both are possible, and the advice is that you generate a very deep resolve to practice dharma – to do sadhana for the sake of yourself and also for all sentient beings. Give rise to that resolve and resolutely carry it out, so that when you are faced with difficulties that would cause you to turn directions, you will feel the strength and the courage to continue forward, which is what is most important. One of the most effective aspects of spiritual life is duration – you simply don’t stop.
Q: It’s challenging and difficult to hang out with a siddha. The question is how do you find the balance between making it tolerable to go through difficult things doing sadhana, versus using more of your time and energy trying to pursue things in life that are enjoyable?
Mark: Where the pressures of spiritual life arise is that your individual karma is accelerated; your positive and negative actions are amplified. Shaktipat is the explosive force that awakens all of those seeds. What has essentially happened in Shaktipat is an equilibration – your positive and negative karma have become equal. This gives rise to the opportunity of grace, which is a quality of force that begins to accelerate the expenditure and resolution of your karma. Some of it is just turned directly into energy, bypassing the fulfillment process of manifesting and appearing in your life.
Q: With Shaktipat, what if the kundalini doesn’t go through all the chakras to the brain?
Mark: The fact is that the kundalini bounces around. What’s happening when that’s occurring is that that force is opening, awakening and impacting all of the systems. What’s important is to come to a way of dealing with that constant and growing pressure. The most dramatic aspect of Shaktipat is the downloading of the brain under the pressure of its descent, because it goes beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before. The advice is ways very simple: start with the breath because the breath connects you to the mind and the body. With this, they will start to grow together.
Q: It seems like there’s a lot of suffering in this world, so I’ve been using the practice of sending and receiving by trying to generate love in situations wherever I go. But it seems overwhelming at times, and I wonder if that approach will bear fruit in the end – to keep placing oneself in the presence of suffering, and using oneself as the instrument to bring it to resolution.
Mark: This is a massive subject. Taking and sending is that you essentially take on the suffering of others, and offer to use your spiritual force to alleviate the suffering of others. It’s a very powerful practice of selflessness and selfless service. It’s important to attenuate your taking and sending to an aspect of your meditation practice. You want to make a point of keeping your spiritual force very strong as you go through that process, and you want to be strategic about its placement. There are many ways to do that; and one of the best ways to learn them is by doing the practice.
Q: How do you pick a hierarchy, a Guru? You speak of the immense power and glory that are the manifestations of your teachers and their teachers.
Mark: There is an event of hierarchy in that there is a radiation and lineage that originates beyond time, flowing into the present. One of the deepest manifestations is the thread of the Guru-disciple relationship: there’s a being that has experienced and realized the truth, and there’s a being that has recognized that this being has experienced and recognized the truth; and in recognition of that, in the very act of recognition, that consciousness is transferred from the teacher to the disciple. This is how dharma stays present in this world system.
Q: We were talking about the unconscious, the effects of meditation on the unconscious, and clearing karmic imprints. So I’m wondering whether there’s an equation between the unconscious and the karmic imprints as we might carry them around in the subtle body?
Mark: The karmic artifacts that are carried around in the subtle body are just that. They’re genuine artifacts. They’re not conceptual, they’re like objects, like an artifact; they’re assembled samskaric data, like-unto-like. They assemble along lines of sensory activity, emotional causation, association of classes of behavior, just to name a few. The qualities of that karma generate electrical impulses, the content of which condition the brain, which conditions the mind. There is a tendency to press the origins of karma into subconscious and unconscious terrain; and over the duration of multiple incarnations, their origin is forgotten. That is the illness, and the Guru’s grace is the medicine. It is powerful enough to be injected into you so that you can be healed of the karma.