Measuring the Mystery
Birthday Tribute to our Teacher
Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with
the people of the world.
My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and
I am ever blissful.
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the dead trees become alive.
— Kakuan, 12th-century Chinese master, “In the World” from 10 Bulls
The longing to attain liberation is called “mumukshutva” in Sanskrit. It’s the burning desire to know truth and the willingness to sacrifice everything else for the goal of attaining the Knowledge of the Self that can only be revealed by the one who has walked before us. We know we are in the presence of our spiritual Guide, when our heart is unmistakably attracted. It’s astonishing how this recognition can strike, and when it happens, we gradually yet willingly begin to lose the grip on the frames that order our life. It seems as if a magnet draws all our thoughts towards the one who mirrors our own beloved Self. And once the Self has become the horizon of our inner longing, we become receptive, ready to learn—and to unlearn. Truly, the job of the true teacher is the most sacred and highest service that can be offered, as a soul has come to be transformed. These beings who selflessly nourish others with pure knowledge and the nectar of Grace are rare, and it is even rarer to encounter a Siddha who lives fully in this world and who teaches us “to bring the Divine to where it rightfully belongs: to this life, this relationship, this interaction.”
On this special January day today, the birthday of our beloved Teacher Igor Vamadeva Kufayev, we bow to the mysterious force that has brought us into his presence. We give thanks to the unfathomable blessing of Grace bestowed upon us, and offer our deepest gratitude to the late Inna, the dear Mother of our teacher who gave birth to Vamadeva in the sacred land of Uzbekistan. We celebrate the great gift of birthing the shared vision of sister- and brotherhood, and life lived in Bliss.
There are innumerable things to be grateful for when it comes to our teacher’s presence in our lives, but today we want to sing the glory of a Siddha Master capable of opening us to the vision of this world as the fertile playground of the Divine. The tantric teaching needs to be alive and ever-new, cascading like a mountain stream from the heart of an enlightened teacher in order to awaken others. Today, we bow to the greatest of all blessings: the initiation into sādhana through the transmission of divine power. This work has many aspects, but one of its supreme teachings lies hidden in the tantric perspective of the very nature of experience that our teacher unlocked for us at a most recent immersion in Germany, by pointing out that “there is no such thing as an individual who is lost in the gaga land and trying to find its way home. It’s always Consciousness, it’s always Shiva. Shiva in the state of forgetfulness gives rise to the individual; and the individual in the state of Self-remembrance is nothing other than Shiva.” Being attuned to this teaching gifts us with the proper understanding and possibility to extract the fullness of every experience, from where blossoms of rasa and creative inspiration will inevitably be brought forth.
Dripping water from a flower vase need not be wiped away, for it may be suggestive of dew and coolness.
— Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea
With our cups of green tea raised, we send waves of love and joy to you from all over the world, beloved Teacher Vamadeva, and wish you a most Happy Birthday!
Your presence among us is a blessing, and we humbly bow to the earth where your feet touch the ground. Thank you for teaching us to embrace the everyday mystery, fully and without reservation. Thank you for guiding us how to savour the nectar hidden in every experience, while remaining like the lotus from which the dewdrops roll without leaving traces. Thank you for your immeasurable service to us as your students and to all of humankind at a time where this teaching—like an oasis in the desert—offers the saving grace to quench the thirst of the heart.
May you and your beautiful family be showered with blessings today and all days. May your work be protected and may it serve and guide countless beings to re-claim their essential nature. May you be always surrounded by an ocean of love, laughter and beauty. And most importantly, may you always have a home full of exquisite Japanese tea!
With great Love, Joy and Reverence,
Jai Guru Dev
Your students and Team Flowing Wakefulness
Sādhana as a Way of Life
by Igor Kufayev
There is a classical definition of sādhana as “that which supports.” Sādhana is also generated from the terms “being established in truth” or “being established.” And, in a way, when properly understood, all there is, is sādhana. There is nothing other than sādhana. Once understood, what does this mean? What is that which supports us here?
So it has these components, these aspects, which are not just about, “Oh, how good is it for me?” It’s not just about how good it is for so-and-so. At a certain point, one needs to have that entrance where one has to have a classical, traditional definition of sādhana. And if we are to look into the accounts of spiritual fostering, into the accounts of making it, then there was always—in absolutely all cases without exception—initiation into sādhana, and initiation of sādhana. The best example I used to give is Anandamayi Ma. Considered to be a saint at birth, with wonders already at an early age, she was a difficult child to begin with, in a sense. Her parents thought that she slightly displayed the signs of being even retarded—slow—in the way she used to be transfixed in these stages of samādhi. She later was recognized, while still in her teens, as the supreme incarnation of the divine. Later on in her life, she was initiated, when she was given into marriage, into sādhana—and given to it for 12 years, as it is customary in Hindu-based spiritual traditions.
This is a very humbling example. And I like that example for its being humbling. Because it’s someone who was already born as an exceptionally advanced being, who was suddenly given into sādhana for 12 years. It really, really adjusts certain consumer-oriented mentalities of the spiritual seeker who constantly hops around, in hopes for some quick, lottery-like ticket in terms of what this exemplifies. It’s this way with all traditions. Some sādhanas are more spectacular; others are more arduous. For example, in The Daughter of Fire, we read about the sādhana of a lady who is in training to become a force to reckon with. We see the power of initiation—the powerhouse—and what she had to go through at the feet of a very, very strict, astute teacher.
But you’ve asked: What is my definition of sādhana? My definition of sādhana is nothing other than that it’s the way of being; it’s the way of life.
This is what I’ve arrived at. And I’ve realized also, with that, that I have been practicing sādhana all my life, before I even knew it. Even as a teenager, when I felt sluggish, I would run in the morning. I would wake up and not just run—because I would feel that it’s too physical—but I would steal some roses on the way, come back home, put them down and paint them before breakfast.
So, of course, I was very naïve. I tried to cover every ground. I wanted to be physically fit, but I also wanted to be a bit of a poet, and a bit of a rascal, right? But these are all the elements of sādhana. Whatever I did—whether drawing a skull from every possible perspective, so that as an artist I knew what is beneath the muscles and the skin, to have a greater grasp of this visual language in order to express myself in the way I was trained—it was sādhana. Every activity had become sādhana… until suddenly, there was nothing other than spiritual sādhana. There was this distinctive phase when there was nothing in life other than sādhana, spiritual sādhana. I actually slept, gave the body rest, and ate, only because I was doing sādhana—not the other way around. I was not giving a hoot how much I had in the bank account. And there were times of windfall and times when the pennies needed to be counted, but to me it was only “Okay, do I have enough to keep the sādhana going?” It was not at all in any other way. I didn’t even know what sādhana could give me. It completely had me, you see? But then the question also is asked: is my sādhana over? What is over is a certain aspect of sādhana. Certain aspects—meditative practices, chanting, certain exercises—are over. There’s much less, much less dependency on what the body is other than its essentials. Because the body is simply a transitory phenomenon and looked upon with a smile of lovely acceptance—bewilderment even of how it can be. It doesn’t matter, of course, when someone comes to you and examines you, as in, you know, “I have this pain and that pain”—of course I still do, and you have to keep the conversation going. But deep down, you’re lying to everyone, because you know you’re totally okay. Nothing can ever happen to you, because it’s just ridiculous even to begin to think about what can happen. It’s a delayed reaction. When you know it’s a delayed reaction, you know it for that.
Has sādhana finished? No. But you’re asking me, and I cannot tell you where the sādhana begins and where it ends—I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s the way of life. And I wish for everyone who gives themselves to spirituality to understand that sooner or later. Because I’ve met so many people who were burnt out—burnt out spiritual seekers. Burnt out because they thought sādhana is a phase where they’ve made it, and then they can live. It’s a delayed reaction. Nothing is made and then lived.
You cannot enter the river even once. You are that river already. That river flows through you, as your Self, as your being. And, in that, everything one does is sādhana because one is already established. One becomes the support—the support of other—because one is a support to oneself.
Once one is a support to oneself, it can carry—in everything. In architecture it’s like that. If a column is strong, then it can carry a structure which is horizontal. If it’s strong enough, it can carry a horizontal structure. If a column of light is bright, it does the same. It supports the horizontal aspects of life—all of them without exception. Other than that, I don’t know much more about sādhana….
– Igor Kufayev – excerpt from Darshan during weekend immersion ‘Tantra – The Inner Marriage’ in Mallorca, 2017
To watch the video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgcMIEfSdEE
All images: courtesy of Flowing Wakefulness
Image 1- Tree and orange orchards in Mallorca, December 2021
Image 2- Igor Vamadeva in his garden in Mallorca, December 2021
Gallery of images- Rose offering & Igor Vamadeva’s tea setting
Image 3- Dancing roses
Image 4- Igor Vamadeva with his daughter Ramana, August 2013