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Understanding the Dhuni (Part Two)

Updated: Mar 26

In this essay we will explore the Tantrik fire ritual known as the Dhuni. I will be sharing some of my own personal insights from my experimentation with this particular practice over the past 9 years. The intention is to bring some illumination and applicable inspiration to this esoteric rite, to honor the practice itself and to optimize results for those interested in their own exploration.

I'd like to begin by outlining a few important points to reflect on. The first is this: when it comes to the esoteric practices, while much can be said, the bottom line is in a person's subjective experience. How are we to say what something IS or ISN'T for someone else? Doing so would rob a person of the uniquely powerful gems of wisdom cultivated within the personal journey. Thus, experimentation and exploration are highly valued as key pieces of the puzzle of understanding anything in the spiritual or mystical dimensions. This is what makes personal practice (sadhana) so important in the mining of the esoteric gold mines. In the INO, the International Nath Order through which the practice of the Dhuni was first introduced to me back in 2015, one of the primary teachings is that each person must THINK for themselves. This discourages power-lording hierarchical spiritual systemization and instead encourages attainment as the end-all, be-all of keeping wisdom traditions alive, actually and fully, for instead of mental ideals of "realization" the wisdom in these spiritual sciences is activated and embodied within the practitioner as a living fire. We have to remember that the goal of Yoga and Tantra is freedom from bondage, and it is a slippery slope you can find yourself on when one thinks that they "know", for in some cases "knowing" can perpetuate even more separation and division.

We must distinguish now between "knowing" and knowing. The word gnosis comes to mind. In the gnostic mystical traditions, gnosis was a form of "knowing" akin to direct experience; it relates to an embodied, felt sense of the immediate present moment. Intuition fits in here. When we are come to the realization that our experience of life is ultimately linked to the patterns of our mind and mental activity, we can begin the spiritual quest of re-wiring our conditioning, undoing and freeing ourselves the karmas that obstruct our true "seeing" of Reality. After all, our sense perceptions are limited and our mind is thoroughly convinced that what we perceive through our sense organs is "true". Our egos build their entire construct around our subjective experience, never once (or rarely) questioning what is beyond the veils of nefarious self-deception. The yogi is one who decides to question one's own rationality and choose to peek beyond this veil. In yoga, the not seeing of Reality is known as avidya, which literally translates to "not-seeing" (a = not, vidya = seeing), but in many places is translated as ignorance. They suggest that all suffering is rooted in this first klesha -- the klesha or obstruction of ignorance. Patanjali made it very clear in the Yoga Sutras that for someone seeking the Supreme Reality, or capital T Truth, we have to calm the modifications of the mind to reach the ultimate state beneath mental activity, where true seeing can be realized. Unless and until a person achieves the one-pointed concentration of mind, where the habitual whirlwind of excess mental effort is no longer coloring our perception, one's perceptions will be limited and distorted by the neurological filters we place on Reality. Thus, the practice(s) of Yoga is one in which we can channel our efforts towards a singular object of meditation, with the intention of realizing the Divine substrate behind all of life; it is here that the Dhuni fits in nicely to our experimentation, as the Dhuni provides a particular structure and pattern which allows the practitioner to enter into a highly focused state of concentration and move beyond the default filters of mind and ego. Within the rite itself we encounter states of "knowing" that surpass the mind's attempt to grasp at knowing. Gnosis is the self-evident result: an immediacy of "knowing". Words fall short to describe this phenomenon but for those in which are practiced, you will understand what I mean.

Another point to be reminded of is that a primary purpose of Tantra is twofold: one is to achieve freedom, or moksha, from this world and two is to be able to enjoy (bhoga) being here. That is to say that Tantra is a spiritual system and methodology meant to assist the Tantrika (practitioner of Tantra) in becoming free from the world while also living IN it. This is distinctly different from the ideas of the Vedic culture, out of which Tantrik thought emerged, which suggested that a person would want to renunciate the world completely to be free of its entanglements. Eastern mystical ideas that are found in parallel across multiple spiritual traditions of the times (such as Buddhism) argued that the entire world was/is bondage, and for someone who craved for the Ultimate, they would have to completely give up their engagement in the world to achieve the final lasting peace of nirvana, i.e. the bliss of liberation. Tantra presented the radical and revolutionary idea that we could achieve freedom in our very own lifetime while also simultaneously being involved in worldly affairs. This appealed to the householders at the time, and 1500 years ago, around 500 AD when the traditions Tantra began to first appear in the Indian sub-continent as a viable spiritual path, many people embraced this revolutionary idea. Of course, this did not mean that tremendous amounts of sadhana were not encouraged, or that the incredible tapas of the ascetics was avoided entirely, it just meant that we could do our work IN the world while also simultaneously seeking to free ourselves FROM it.

For the Tantrikas, or for those of us seeking to enliven and live out the mystical path of Tantra, we have to consider the implications of what is being suggested here. Unfortunately, it is easy to fall into the trap that we are generating freedom for ourselves when in reality we are creating even more bondage. This must be examined carefully by each individual, and the motivations behind our behaviors must be thoroughly questioned. Only when we think critically for ourselves about our true aims and desires in this life can we come to our own conclusions about what we really want. Each person will decide for themselves, and this decision will ultimately shape their path.

Back to the Dhuni.

The mechanics of this rite seem important to review, as in the study of the mechanics we can uphold a particular structure and pattern of entry into the mystical dimension. As we have been alluding to, the experience of the realities beyond the mind are impossible to describe in detail, but we can share the methods and experimentation which led to the possibility of their exploration. By maintaining the structure we can enter into a repeatable and diagnostic framework whereby results are noticeable. This is one of the things that makes the Dhuni such a powerful group practice. With a clear and consistent method of entry and exist into the ritual space, we are able to generate presence in a much greater degree than if we were to be bumbling around with an ever-changing variety of tools. Instead we rely on a consistent set of tools and techniques to lead the person "in". In this case, the "tools" that remain consistent in the Dhuni are clear: mantra, asana, dhristi, yantra, & sankalpa (intention). There are of course more aspects than this woven into the practice of the Dhuni, but those presented are our base and starting place.

I think it is wise to consider the process of inner alchemy that is the result of our patterns of arrangement. The steadiness of the asana (firm and yet relaxed), the repetition of mantra, the focal point of the gaze (dhristi), the geometry of humans around the fire (yantra), and the intention of the rite (sankalpa) are all designed to generate an experience of internal heat, known as tapas, which leads to the transformation of our individual and "denser" thought patterns. Our limited personality structure, which is a structure, goes through an intensification & purification phase where the energy moving through our system increases to such a voltage that a bit of de-structurization occurs. There is a breakdown of the obstructions in our neurology & nervous system as this current sweeps through us, carry with it into the fire any of the distorted forms of perception that are clouding our true SEEING from taking place. This can, or course, be destabilizing and frightening from the standpoint of the ego. There is a literal death taking place in the process, hence the point in the ritual where we honor the destructive aspects of the Shakti -- notably, Bhairavi, Durga and Kali. We are uprooting and purifying tendencies of the mind that are actually not serving our intention to SEE and BE WITH Life, as it is (not as we are projecting it to be). When we realize that much of what we see or experience is typically clouded by our projections, we come to the ritual space with that much more devotion and longing to be with the Divine. However, come with humility for we don't get to decide what we hold on to....

The ritual space itself is not personal. Kundalini is not personal. It's not even human. It doesn't give a hoot about your personal desires for this or that. She only wants freedom and transformation, as that is Her very essence. She is the Dragon, and when you hop on, you better hold on and pray sincerely to be released of your craving for stability, as She is going to take you with Her to whatever places in your psyche you need to feel and release for the final liberation and SEEING to take place. We are dealing with Fire -- literally and figuratively. The communion that happens with the Great Spirit is not predictable, and the reason the space itself is made to be predictable and consistent is to manage the tremendous voltage that can and wants to come through it. If you come to the altar in pursuit of Truth, you may end up like Arjuna seeing Krishna for the first time. For those who can stand the heat, or rather submit themselves to it, transformation is imminent. For those who are unable to be submissive and humble to the structure presented, the Shakti will continue Her journey of BECOMING in some other way as She leaks out of the holes in one's energetic body. After all, She wants to get INTO the world and She doesn't care so much about our egoic desires. That is Her beauty and generosity. When we embrace the sheer grace that is available to us in our submission process, we end up strengthening the container that is holding Her current. A central channel opens up and into it we pour our fears, doubts, worries, and even our beliefs as the Power sweeps through us. We become a conduit for the current. This isn't about who has the Power versus who doesn't have the Power -- the Power is all around us. She is inside of us, inside of our cells, beating our heart, and inspiring us to get up and LIVE. This is about opening to the sheer force of that Power and allowing Her presence to be felt. To be known. If and when we open ourselves to THE Power, it can feel like we are "giving our power away" but really what is happening is that we give (what we perceive to be) "our power" to That Which is All-Powerful. And thus, Power flows through us. Huh. Funny how that works, right?

Thus the Dhuni and the mechanics of the ritual allow us to collectively tap into this Divine current in a safe and structured way so that we can each have our own subjective experience of what I am referring to. The gnosis of this is what changes us. Until our gnosis is complete, our personal attainment can remain half-baked and stuck in the mental field. With practice we take these "results" all the way down into the level of the cells and the vibrational field of our existence, beneath the thoughts. The mantras themselves re-pattern the vibrations in our body and to help us align harmoniously with the bigger forces at play. We end up creating more "space" internally for the deity to reside, which is to say we become familiar with its force and the flavor of the Supreme Reality that is trying to make its way through us. As we become familiar and "compatible" with these forces, we try less to figure it out with the mind and instead enter into a vibrational, energetic responsiveness with and to life. This is what is meant in the Tantras when they say that "the deity becomes installed in the body". Our personality becomes less obstructive to the Divine Current that is moving through, in whatever expression it is taking. As Tantra is a method and system designed to help us move from a limited personality to a less limited personality, this is what we are talking about. The expansion of our individual awareness to experience bigger and bigger Realities. Moving beyond the subjective experience and towards a more objective one.

This path is not for the faint of heart. The fire of transformation that is created through one's consistent effort will bring up all the residue from the psyche and energetic body to be cleared. As was mentioned previously, for those who can stand this heat, prepare to be changed. It is wise to examine one's motivations and inspiration at this point, and their purpose for engagement in these practices. For someone who wants to cling on to their world and maintain some semblance of "I am in control", it would be wise to stay away. For those who are ready and willing to surrender to the current of life, to completely enter into communion with the Moment, to purify the subtle body so that it can handle actually submitting, and to embrace the path towards ecstatic bliss suggested by the mystics, then carry on. The Dhuni is waiting for you.


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