FALCON BOOKS INTERVIEWS
EXPLORING ENLIGHTENED LIVING
THROUGH HERMETIC MEDITATION
With Purnacandra Sivarupa[no_toc]
Falcon Books is presenting a series of interviews with seasoned Hermetic practitioners and those who follow a spiritual discipline. The aim being to share the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of these seasoned practitioners with those just beginning the path and as an inspiration to us all. The focus of these discussions are guided towards the spiritual seeker.
Presenting today an interview with Purnacandra Sivarupa some may know him as ‘In Peace Profound ‘who shares his wisdom on Facebook and has a blog with the same name please view it here In Peace Profound. His blog focuses on Perennial Philosophy, metaphysics,, and his own journey into the religion of Saivite Hinduism.
When I discuss Bardon, people often ask me, given that I am now a Saivite Hindu and practitioner of Yoga, and no longer identify as a Hermetist, “How far did you get? Did you get to step 10?” My answer: I got to step 10, and am still there. I have met a few who have claimed to have “completed” the tenth and final step, but was never convinced. The tenth step is focused on realizing final Unitive Realization, and that is not the work of a few years, not does it leave one’s personality as egocentric and obsessed with “magical powers” as when one began. If anything, Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics when practiced with patience, diligence, and sincerity will prepare you for and lead you toward wherever your true spiritual home may be.
Firstly Falcon Books would like to cordially welcome Purnacandra Sivarupa and thank you for sharing with us your time and wisdom with us.
Maybe to start with a contemplation on this poem that you wrote in 2013. Would you be happy to expand your experience and the outcome as a way of introduction to your journey.
Tried for Truth (2013) by Purnacandra Sivarupa
In my social life
I am forced to start over;
my personality was burnt to the ground
in a livid conflagration
whose pain I was not spared by merciful asphyxia,
but made to feel all the way down.
I learnt of friends whose smiles for me remained,
and discerned those who would be as anvils
as the blows rained upon me.
Old friends made anew,
new friends made venerable,
false friends left to flutter and fade
like misprinted book leaves ripped and tossed away.
I do not rise again from my own ashes, triumphantly,
but offer myself up as bhasma
to grace, as laurel crown,
the shining brows of those whose love stays true.
Purnacandra Sivarupa:: Interesting that you chose this particular poem. It came out of a period of time when I had to figure out who my real friends were. More important than the social aspect, though, is the lesson that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how difficult, a solid spiritual practice and engagement with the Divine can carry you through.
Falcon Books: What would you say has been the most challenging aspect of your spiritual development ?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: I would say the greatest challenge is how the spiritual life forces me to constantly reevaluate my own patterns of thought and behavior. You can’t take anything for granted anymore, not even your own ideas and emotions. In the modern school of occult Hermeticism embodied in the works of Mouni Sadhu, Valentin Tomberg, Papus, and so on, it is commonly recognized that many of our thoughts are actually not our own, but invade our minds from our environment, the people around us, the media we take in (consciously or otherwise). It is therefore important to me to be vigilant and deliberate with my own mental environment, and that is far from easy; the mind gets away from us and causes most of our problems.
2. Falcon Books: For those seeking a spiritual path what advice would you offer ?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: This is actually one of the big reasons why I point people to Franz Bardon. The first four or so steps of Initiation Into Hermetics, even if a person never goes past them, is the foundation of a lifetime regardless of where else the spiritual life goes from there. For those who don’t feel quite ready for that sort of commitment, though, I couldn’t do any better than to recommend what Patanjali does in his Yoga Sutras: Body conditioning, self-study, and attentiveness to God. (II.1) Pay attention to your health, pay attention to your mental hygiene, and pray, pray, pray!
3. Falcon Books: As you walked along your path how have you been able to balance ‘being in the world but not of the world ?’
Purnacandra Sivarupa: It’s a constant effort. I have met a small handful of people who seem to have this one down pat, but for most of us, I think it’s a matter of cultivating equanimity. The world is not an evil place, as some would have it, but it is overflowing with challenges for our inner lives. The studies of history and astrology are of great help for me, as they both reveal how much that happens in the world is karmic in nature. Neither one makes me feel as if things are predetermined, but certainly everything happens according to established patterns. Once we start to recognize those patterns, it becomes much easier to hold ourselves aloof from them and observe. It’s sort of like meditation on the macro level.
4. Falcon Books: Could you please share with us your journey to Saivite Hinduism what brought you there and the benefits that are offered to you?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: It’s been more of a calling than anything. I don’t necessarily refer to myself as a Hindu, these days, though the term fits and serves as a useful shorthand. I am blessed to practice Yoga and Tantra under the guidance of a mentor and a Guru in the greater Nath tradition. I came to this point through years of experiences in which my eyes would flood with tears at the sight of certain images of Siva, and in which I found myself spontaneously writing devotional poetry to Him. Much like Bardon, the traditions of Yoga and Tantra make use of devotion to a personal deity while recognizing the transpersonal Divinity underlying all forms, and on that personal, devotional level, I felt irresistibly drawn to Siva. I think it’s in Memories of Franz Bardon that a recollection is given of Bardon suddenly turning to a student and demanding, “Who is your personal deity?” If he appeared before me and made that demand of me, I could instantly respond: Siva!
Nath practice has given me not only a solid devotional base, but also a deepening meditative practice, a very adaptable ritual structure, and—most importantly of all—access to a teacher who is the most adept spiritual practitioner I’ve encountered.
5. Falcon Books: Since to follow a system like Bardons requires a high degree of discipline what gave you the endurance and drive to carry on working through to step 10.
Purnacandra Sivarupa: I first started, as so many do, in search of magical powers. That was enough to sustain me for a bit, but very quickly the process of learning about my own inner workings and my proper relationship to the macrocosm took up the bulk of my interest. Discipline and endurance sort of come of themselves, after a certain point, or at least that’s been my experience. Perhaps that’s one of the roles of grace: we create or open up the channels and grace flows into them.
6:.Falcon Books: How would you say your life has changed since entering the spiritual path and now where you perceive the world? How has your interaction and perception of the world changed?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: These are big questions, not easy to answer. Craig Williams, author of Cave of the Numinous, a wonderful book on Tantra, often uses the phrase “sacramental vision” in conversation. He means by this the experience of sensing the essential Meaning of phenomena in and through the phenomena themselves. Modern kabbalist David Chaim Smith speaks in terms of dissolving the barriers of perception which keep us from consciously experiencing the ocean of Meaning in which we perpetually swim. In the Natha tradition, it is the experience beyond dualism and nondualism. The goal is for this experience to be perpetual, every moment of every day, even during sleep, but even a taste of it is life-changing.
7. Falcon Books: For those facing great challenges on the path, what encouragement would you offer them?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Whatever image of the Divine you feel drawn to, inflame yourself in praying! Prayer gets a bad rap, these days, especially among many of those interested in “magic” and “the occult”, but prayer is the greatest key to spiritual health and an undefeatable attitude that I know. Prayer doesn’t have to be a bunch of words, but can be just a silent abidance in the Presence of the Deity. Bathing in grace like this each day is refreshing and strengthening in a way that nothing else is. Get close to Nature; if possible, spend time in the woods, in the water, in the mountains, wherever you feel drawn. In any case, get out of doors, get exercise, breathe fresh air, let the light of the Sun and the Moon wash across your skin. This all sounds trite until you really need it, and then it can save your life.
8. Falcon Books: Is there anything you would like to particularly share with us all?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: I think it’s fantastic that there are people like you out there keeping Franz Bardon’s wisdom alive and making it accessible to those who need it. I once spoke on the phone with Gerhard Hanswille of Merkur, probably about a decade ago, and he said something that I will never forget as long as I live: “The practice of Hermetics is nothing without love. Trying to practice Hermetics without love is like trying to drive a car 100 miles per hour without any gas.” I think that’s the thing. It isn’t always easy to keep it in mind, but it’s worth the effort to try.
Specific Bardon Related Questions
1. What would you consider the most valuable aspect of the Bardon Training?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Like so many other spiritual practices, I think the biggest thing is how much you learn about your own mind. Even if a person gets nothing else out of the practice, that’s already enormous.
2 .Falcon Books: For those who are starting out what advice would you offer?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Take the early steps seriously. It is easy to become tempted to skip the basics, thinking that you’ve seen it all before, especially if you’ve worked with some other system or some organization, but take it slowly and engage with each and every practice to the full as you go. It’s worth the extra effort.
3.Falcon Books: Some will be aware that you have posted a series of blog posts on IIH are you like to continue this?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Yes, I fully intend to post more on IIH and Bardon generally. There’s so much to say! Besides which, I understand that not everybody wants or needs a “religious” focus at any given time, and Bardon presents such a good spiritual practice for those people who feel the need for spirituality but don’t necessarily feel drawn to a particular tradition just this moment. I love discussing Bardon with people to this day and am always happy to point people in his direction when I think it will really help them. If my writing does that at all, or even just makes other practitioners of Bardon’s works feel a little less alone in the Work, I’m quite happy with that.
4.Falcon Books: How do did you come to know of Bardon’s training system and what Inspired you to follow it with such vigour?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: My friend Chris, who I met through a local coven when I was living for a time near Atlanta, GA, introduced me to Franz Bardon’s works. I took one look at IIH on the shelf of a local occult bookstore and immediately bought the whole “main trilogy”! I didn’t actually start to practice any of it, though, for another six months or so. But from there, it just felt so natural to me to keep going. I’m sure I missed a few days of practice, here and there, but by and large I stuck with it just because it fit me like a glove. Incidentally, Chris is, to this day, like a brother to me, even though we live far away and don’t get to speak a lot. I think we bonded over Bardon.
Falcon Books: There are are a number of sticking points that people seem to struggle with along the way could you please could offer some comment on the following;
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Sure, I’ll address my experience with these one by one.
1. Falcon Books: Step 1 – vacancy of mind – Do you have any tips that may aid the practitioner in achieving this ?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Vacancy of mind is a tough one, and this probably took me longer to “master” than anything else! What is hardest about it, though, is that we throw up so many obstacles in our own way. I suggest taking the approach of Natha Yoga and Dzogchen meditation: The more you worry about distractions from outside and the thoughts which spontaneously try to pop up inside, the more you create a barrier of your own frustration over it. Try to relax and enjoy the exercise. Don’t battle the thoughts which arise, but simply acknowledge that a thought arose and let it drift off. They’ll run out of energy soon enough. Once you’ve experienced a “blank mind” a handful of times, you’ll find it becoming a more natural state of mind to be in and the effort it takes to achieve it will go down considerably. In short: Stop banging your head against the wall, and just relax. However long this process takes for you is fine, and worth every moment.
2. Falcon Books: Step 2 – Visualisation Please could you offer some of advice for those working on visualisation.
Purnacandra Sivarupa: Visualization, or imagination with any of the other senses, are just a matter of practice. Treat it like a game and it won’t be so hard. You’ll probably find that one or more senses are far easier to master than others, and that’s normal. The ones that are more difficult for you, you’ll master in exactly the same way but it’ll take a bit longer. As before, relaxing into the process is necessary, but so is making it fun for yourself. Bardon gives so few explicit instructions because he expects everyone to be smart and creative enough to fill in the blanks as needed for themselves. An example from my own experience: I was having a devil of a time isolating my sense of taste, especially as pertains to the flavor of “bitterness”. So, I chose to see this as a way of improving my discipline as well as an excuse to get a bit creative, and I found a quite bitter (but safe!) herb and simply made myself taste it and nothing else for a few minutes a day until I had the taste memorized well enough that I could use it as a jumping off point in imaginally experiencing “bitterness” in isolation
3. Falcon Books: Step 3– How do we distinguish between our external behaviour and the internal element actually transmuting ?
Purnacandra Sivarupa: As I see it, external behavior (pardon my American spelling!) and the internal elements are intimately linked. Still, it can be helpful to spend some time meditating on the internal element in relative isolation. When doing pore breathing of the elements, Bardon advises that we visualize ourselves as being surrounded by the element, imagining that the whole universe is composed of nothing but that element with ourselves in its center. There are two reasons for doing this. The first, and most obvious, is that it isolates that element in our imagination, but the second is just as important: it isolates us from the external world. This is similar to the Yoga practice of pratyahara, where the senses are “turned inward” so that it is as if the outside world did not exist for us. I bring this up because this function of such a visualization is what allows us to isolate the experience of the element itself. When this visualization is used during pore breathing of an element, it can be maintained while we hold the element within our bodily systems and this helps in keeping at bay any and all distractions from the element in question. We may then take some time to contemplate the element within us and experience it more directly as it is transmuted. I hope I have properly understood the question.
4 . Falcon Books: Step 5 – Could you explain the difference in experience with entering the depth point of a thing and entering into the spatial centre, as sometimes it can be easy to misinterpret this,
Purnacandra Sivarupa: This is the most interesting of these questions, metaphysically speaking. The spatial center of an object is just what a physicist would call its center of gravity; there’s nothing particularly special about this spot, except insofar as you might want to balance the object and keep it from falling over. I think the confusion comes from Bardon’s terminology, as “depth point” has something of poetry to it rather than being a literal phrase. Everything has a depth point, whether animate or not, but the depth point is not a physical location at all. Instead, it is something like the source of the object’s meaning. Another way to put it is this: the depth point is that conceptual position where the object and the subject meet. By “placing” ourselves there, consciously, we come to understand the object no longer as an object but as a subject, as an actual center of experience. If I place myself in the depth point of a rock, for example, I do not merely experience the inside of a rock, but experience what the rock experiences. The depth point is also where that object is “anchored” in the Akasha (the element of Space in Hindu philosophy), so finding the subjectivity and meaning of any particular being or object also allows us access to Meaning-as-such. This is actually one way to gain some experience in that “sacramental vision” I mentioned earlier: Meaning may be accessed through the heart of any phenomenon.
A big thank you to Purnacandra Sivarupa from Falcon Books for taking the time to answer all these questions !
To find out more about Purnacandra Sivarupa please visit his website where you will find lots thought provoking insights regarding the spiritual path.