The Symbolic Life
of Yoga and Tantra


The Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra is a series of six-week courses and two-week seminars that explore the rich traditions of Yoga and Tantra, including 

The format for Sunday Morning Contemplation was inspired by two traditional forms of contemplation: from the West, lectio divina: lectio or read, meditatio or reflect, oratio or respond, and contemplatio or be still;  and from the East (as taught in the Upanishads): śravana or listening, manana or reflection and nididhyāsanadhyāna or meditation. The different starting points (reading and listening) of these two traditions are due to cultural differences, the (medieval) West being a literate culture, and the (ancient) East being an oral culture.

Our process Sunday mornings will embrace both starting points: listening and/or reading selected texts. The teachers and texts chosen have inspired and informed me in the past, and I believe their teachings' have much to offer us today. I will read from preselected texts, slowly with pauses between verses or quotes, and accompanied by a quiet background of music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However the screen will display the text as it is read so those who are not comfortable with eyes-closed listening can either read along or turn off the sound and read on their own.

Before the reading begins, I will provide a 10 - 15 minute overview of the chosen teacher's life, the origins of their text, and a brief explanation of the terms and language we'll encounter in the reading. If there is any time left over after the reading has ended, participants can either leave or stay a short while for discussion.  For further information, click here.

If you are reading this, you can attend the Sunday Morning Contemplation. There are no further fees or registration required. Come every week if you wish, or come randomly or once. Sunday Morning Contemplation is a live, weekly event. Donations are always welcome, but this is left to your own conscience.

The required Zoom meeting credentials for attendance are:

Click: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 842 6784 9565
Passcode: 764744

A PDF document containing all the readings for the morning's contemplation will be available for download to all participants after the event. Videos will eventually be available as well for download or streaming.

Thursday Class Schedule:

December 2023
January 2024
February 2024
No event found!



About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives