Introduction to the Tapestry of Being Mandala
Excerpts from “The Tapestry of Being:
Talks on Practical Mysticism”
Orientation in Subjectivity
are an endless variety of teachings, techniques,
and practices promising spiritual awakening to help us live
happier, more fulfilled lives. While this is great, it can also be
confusing. On what basis do we know how to choose what
serves us? Without a unifying center, how does it all hang together?
We want to walk our own path, but we also want to
make sure we are going somewhere worthwhile.
is just the start of a road that no one before
us has traveled. We do not need another program, but
instead, an orientation in subjectivity. What does this mean?
In my case,
after years of working with groups of people
describing their own spiritual lives unfolding, a picture came
into focus. There’s a full spectrum of living that is potentially
available to us, and perhaps this vision may give those who
read this book a sense of what is possible to grow into, even
among those who have already significantly awakened.
I began to
understand this perspective intuitively long before
I had words for it. The language about it emerged over
time. I still feel that I have not found the perfect expression of
it, but enough to begin to convey its essence.
orientation is the way that I came to relate to
traditional spiritual understandings in a postmodern world.
The foundation of this orientation developed from trying to
make sense of my own direct experience and the experience
of those I worked with without falling into a new dogmatism.
of Being is a practical approach to teachings
on the subjective dimension from different sources, times
and cultures, and a way to make use of them now. It is about
trusting that the vast subjective inheritance of humanity is
worth exploring and using, even for those of us who are not
allied with a single religious tradition. A large part of why I
began teaching the Tapestry is that I found that people using
non-dual spiritual teachings were often using many different
processes without having a perspective that held those
things together in a way that made sense in their totality.
I found that many of those people, like me, did not always
want to have to choose just one particular worldview. Instead,
they wanted to relate to life as it revealed itself to them, and
yet to honor those who came before us and to receive what
they have to offer.
So, the Tapestry is one larger context in which to find your
way; it is a template, or a way of approaching things, rather
than a map to follow.
We Are Each a Unique Tapestry of Being
Over time, my own view and way of teaching developed. Central
to this approach is the notion that the world’s traditions
are our common heritage and are resources for us, regardless
of which of them we find ourselves more (or less) committed
to. With this foundation, it then puts your own experience
front and center.
The traditions focus on perfecting specific potentials in
life. I see our evolution moving toward being able to skillfully
make use of all that came before us to bring forward new
amalgams of transformation while appreciating and respecting
the ancient sources. From this perspective, in the end, it is
our own path that we walk, and all teaching is pointing to our
unique situation and contribution. You weave it yourself, and
your tapestry will be different from anyone else’s.
The Tapestry approach shows how to make use of the
many different techniques, perspectives, and practices that
are available in such a way that they deepen a singular unfolding
process rather than cluttering it. At the same time, it
avoids the trap of chasing certainty and allows you to open to
new possibilities and ways of thinking when you are ready to.
It helps you to keep your balance in the face of the unknown. I
don’t know if this way of using spiritual paradigms is new. Sacred
teachings employed as a means of orientation to mysteries
rather than as a set of answers to mysteries may indeed be
ancient, but few people have related to the traditions that way.
It seems to me that the belief that one can treat any particular
system of thought or way of life as the total answer is not
a very useful one. The idea that it is possible to have the instructions
to life that remove the mystery (and danger) from
it is not believable anymore, nor does it seem desirable. So
the notion of guidance takes on a new significance today as
many people consider themselves to be outside of any particular
tradition, and “spiritual but not religious.” They don’t
identify with being under the authority or control of any organized
group with claims to have “the” truth.
The Tapestry Mandala
The Tapestry Mandala is a visual representation of spiritual
life with each “node” on the tapestry being an area of awakened
living. It sometimes happens that one part of our life
is developed in isolation from, or in direct opposition to,
other parts of ourselves. An example would be a reliance on
our identity as Consciousness to the exclusion of human relationships.
Some spiritual paths subtly encourage this, even
when they don’t realize that’s what they are doing. However,
the suggestions here come from the Tapestry’s inclusive, integrative
view of spirituality.
Every node is distinct from every other node, but the
Tapestry Mandala contains a spectrum of colors to convey
the sense of continuity, showing how one dimension of the
spiritual life is related to another and how they flow into each
other. Also, within each node, there are shades of the next colored
node on the spectrum because the distinction between
the nodes is gradual and seamless. In the history of humanity,
there have even been fields of study that focus on the particular
shades of each color. However, I will not be making
anything like a thorough listing of all that, but rather I will
give the gist of each of the six stations on the Mandala with its
colors on the spectrum and a description of how you can use
this approach in your life.
Here are the six nodes of the Mandala:
Transcendental Divine Identity
Energetic Presence Identity
Embodied Human Identity
Embodied Human Relationship
Energetic Presence Relationship
Transcendental Divine Relationship
A Process: Awakening, Embodiment, and Fire
Along with the Mandala itself, there is a particular metaphysical
picture that we will explore throughout the book.
From this view, at our foundation, we are Unchanging
Awareness, the Ground of Being. At the same time, each one
of us also appears as an individual sentient being—a moving,
changing, embodied person living in a world that seems separate
from us filled with other seemingly separate beings.
The primary form of spiritual awakening that we’re pointing
to here is insight and recognition into our nature as this
unchanging awareness. When we awaken, we see that we have
always been free from every appearance. Resting in this freedom,
we may become aware of the current of feeling referred
to as Shakti, energy, bliss or grace. If we are attentive to this
dimension of vibration, feeling deeply into it, an integrating
sense of authenticity can begin to inform our lives.
There is also the possibility to embody more of this energy
and for it to overflow into a felt sense of non-separateness and
one-ness with all of our experience. With this expansion, we
can feel our individual sense of I-am-ness become a current
that pervades all experience.
It may be helpful to remember that this feeling of connectedness
does not come exclusively with the sensation of pleasurable
bliss. Our process will blossom only if we are willing
to meet whatever uncomfortable feelings there also may be.
As we embody more of this energy over time, the habits
of the body and mind that we developed from the perspective
of separateness are challenged and exposed to our now
non-separate sense of experience. Rather than being buffered
from the feelings that arise, we are now non-separate, yet
open and available to whatever is happening inside.
The “vertical dimension” is the Consciousness that transcends
personal identity, and is the context in which this
transformation happens. The Transcendental Divine Identity
is always already the case, without seeking or horizon. It is
the baseline or the ground of everything, and in itself, it does
not have any content, yet it is filled with potency for manifestation
that comes forward and becomes the life lived. But
in and of itself it is the formless ground of Unconditioned
Awareness, untouched and unaffected by any transient phenomena.
The “horizontal dimension” is this process of your life unfolding
as the embodiment of a flow of ever-changing energy
and states. It is an emphatically unique and personal process.
You are embodying the energies of the universe and expanding
your sense of identity. Yours is a unique Tapestry of Being.
You have a special song to sing, and whether grand or humble,
you are here to play a part that no one else can.
What’s more is that there is no singular “you” to be, you
are a continuously unfolding mystery, not a static object; in
that sense this process is trans-personal. As we continue the
awakened life, we see that different situations and people
bring inherent qualities to fruition; the world of relationships
reveals more of who we are. There is a direction to the process
coming from inside you toward fuller authentic expression,
and the universe appears to conspire with you in this. Who
you become continues to surprise you and is ever beyond the
person you previously took yourself to be. Your devotion to
the Intelligence and Love that orchestrates your sojourn calls
This process can be both humbling and empowering and
requires compassion. You find that you are more fully present
with the immensity of life,
12 o’clock position / Red
Transcendental Divine Identity
You Are Freedom Itself
Here you explore an ever-deepening recognition and claiming
of your nature as Consciousness Itself.
At the 12:00 position, the top node of the Mandala, there is that aspect of
spiritual life that is the realization of our Timeless Nature.
This has been given many names, but it is ultimately beyond
∙∙ Unbounded Awareness
∙∙ The Self
∙∙ Consciousness Itself
∙∙ Spacious Awareness
∙∙ Buddha Nature
∙∙ Christ Consciousness
∙∙ The Conscious Principle
∙∙ Nature of Mind ∙∙ Intrinsic Awareness
∙∙ Unconditioned Awareness
Red is the node of spiritual awakening into our nature as the
principle of Consciousness Itself, our Transcendental Divine
Identity, our Conscious nature as emptiness or formless Awareness.
Consciousness Itself is never an object that is known, but
is rather the underlying context and awareness of everything
that arises within it. It never changes and is without apparent
attributes. It is simply Consciousness that is aware of change
Just as there are many shades of the color red, so there are
many shades or types of teaching having to do with this node
of life. All the teachings of non-duality point to this Red area,
the essence of which are direct teachings on Pure Awareness.
2 o’clock position / Purple
Energetic Presence Identity
You Are a Multidimensional Field of Radiant Energy
At the 2:00 position, the second node of the Mandala, there
is that aspect of the spiritual life that is the experience of our
nature as Radiant Being. This is your Energetic Presence
Identity, where you are radiance and vibration. In the Purple
position, we are exploring the field of being and current of
feeling that flows through (and ultimately is) you and all that
As we move into Purple, we are speaking about the Energy
of Consciousness rather than Consciousness Itself. There
are specific forms of spiritual awakening within this realm,
although the Energy of Consciousness is different from Consciousness
Itself. The Purple node pertains to the field of radiant
energy or vibration that comes into manifestation and is
the substance of all that we experience, while Consciousness
Itself is never an actual object of awareness.
In the Purple node, awakening is to our nature as Bliss, Presence
or Shakti. These are perceptible and are ways of speaking
about the natural power that emanates from Unconditioned
Awareness or Consciousness Itself. This energy and peace are
inseparable from unmanifest Consciousness Itself but they
are perceptible and can be experienced and felt. This field of
homogeneous energy is Purple as it emerges from Red. It is
still a kind of non-duality, in that it is felt as one’s self even
though it is something experienced.
As we move through purple into shades that are closer
to Blue such as Indigo, we are embodying energy instead of
being it. The energy there shows up as particular meridians,
channels, chakras, and auras, which are part of us rather than
4 o’clock position / Blue
Embodied Human Identity
Discovering the Dignity of Your Divinely Human Nature
Embracing our humanity, we meet the vulnerability at the
heart of our life, and we contact the finiteness of our mortality.
It includes our personality, and our soul as well as our
particular flesh and blood body-mind. It is about living in
the subject/object world as the individual center of our lives.
Here, we establish boundaries, acknowledge needs and desires
and own the limited nature of our lives.
The Blue node comprises our traits, tastes, body type, ethnicity,
and gender. This node also includes delight in the senses,
the arts and the earth itself. Those aspects of our humanity
that are possible only in relation to others begin to move us
into the Teal zone as we approach the Green node and Relationship
6 o’clock position / Green
Embodied Human Relationship
The Catalytic Magic of Awakened Relationships
Green is the dimension of awakened relating where the multiplicity
of the distinct otherness of every human (and every
other embodied being) is honored and respected. In relationships,
appropriate ways of expression and letting in the truth
of others is a continual challenge. Interacting with others in
mutual sensitivity as we recognize both our unity and our
uniqueness creates a safe container for transformation.
The Green node of embodied human relationship further
reveals what began in the Blue node. There are certain aspects
of what it is to be a person that come forward only in relationships.
The world of others is the whole world of multiplicity.
Even as we are conscious of our boundaries and differences,
we also become aware of the field of energies that connect
us. We become sensitive to each person’s own unique energetic
nature as we move into the zones that are Chartreuse
and approach the Yellow node.
8 o’clock position / Yellow
Energetic Presence Relationship
Unseen Help: Becoming Sensitive to Numinous Presences
This is the node where we uncover and develop our capacity
to know that we are never alone. Here, we reclaim our heritage
as residents of a spiritual universe, becoming sensitive to
the numinous, and able to contact unseen help.
This Yellow dimension is the node of our awareness of, and
our relationship with, the presences of both incarnate and
discarnate beings: angels, saints, masters, guides, buddhas,
bodhisattvas, gods, goddesses, nature spirits and departed
loved ones, as well as the spiritual or energetic presences of
people who are alive now but who are not in our physical
In a spiritual gathering, there may be a feeling of presence
with which we can commune. It also can be that you
feel different presences while being outdoors in nature. Many
cultures cultivated the idea of being in communion with the
spirits of nature or the energies of particular places.
If you cultivate awareness of these diverse Energetic
Presence Relationships, you may begin to recognize all energy
as something you can be in relationship to as if in one
This leads us into the realms of worship and devotional traditions.
Yellow into Orange goes into Transcendental Divine
Relationship, and that is relationship with the All-Pervading:
The Being that is being everything. You begin to relate to the
energy of the universe as a single lover or beloved.
10 o’clock position / Orange
Transcendental Divine Relationship
Devotion: Your Unique Relationship with Your Unique Divine
The Orange node is your experience of God (or Goddess)
as you understand and experience that One in your life. This
is the realm of devotion to the Divine Person in the particular
way they reveal themselves to you. All forms of prayer
and acknowledgement of synchronicities become reminders
that there is simply one Beloved with whom you are in a private
dance. Here you open to and acknowledge the Source
of Guidance in your life that is always present and personal
Like human love, the ultimate relationship is about heart
and feeling communion. There are many different traditions
related to the node of Transcendental Divine Relationship.
Some mystical devotional paths emphasize the way in which
we are embedded in and dependent upon the Divine. We
are in the position of surrender. We become transformed by
the reception of grace. We become holy and even divinized
through participating in the energies of God.
So, while there’s a way in which the Divine is never separate
from us, there’s also a way in which the Divine is simultaneously
distinct from us. Devotion needs “two” in order
to feel the current of love, yet for non-dual devotion this is a
And yet, the more you love All-pervading Presence, the
more you find yourself in communion with it, and the more
the sense of separation disappears. It’s an ecstatic merging
with the Supreme Power. Devotional mystics often use a sexual
metaphor when speaking of this merging where Orange
turns into Red. Relationship with Divine Radiant Presence
outshines and absorbs everything else: As we move beyond
words, there is non-dual dissolution. At this point, it is the
Coral zone, approaching the Red node of Transcendental
The Tapestry is an orientation for individual free souls
Whether we function as part of a group or on our own, it is in
a spirit of freedom. In a sense, the Tapestry lays out an almost
universal orientation for spiritual living. It’s generic in its description
but is always a unique and individual brand as each person lives it.
The distinctiveness of our own expression and
revelation is central to this understanding.
As an orientation, it faces you toward your life in such a
way that you have a sense of moving forward with spiritual
progress happening through you, much more than that you
are “doing it.” It is also just as much about sinking more deeply
into each moment now—savoring the quality of Being,
itself—in such a way that you can see beyond the concept of
So life unfolds as a spiral path where you find yourself going
through the same spaces you were in before, but differently.
So it’s not a strictly linear process. At the same time, you
will not feel you are just going around in circles, but instead,
you will be aware of how you’ve changed. In this case, the
next “level” is the form your existence takes when you give
yourself to where you are now, experiencing it as an increasing
wholeness. You don’t avoid one state to cling to another;
you embrace whatever state you find yourself in, in such a
way that it naturally moves you into the next.
One cannot know much about another’s progress. Our
next level can be a deeper version of the one we just left behind,
but no one else may see that. This journey “around the
Mandala,” or through the Tapestry, uncovers your union with
everything through the various nodes of experience. In this
way, we use the Tapestry Mandala to help us as we weave our
own personal Tapestry of Being.
As we move along our unique exploration through the
nodes of experience, it is all founded in Consciousness Itself.
I describe Consciousness Itself as being both embedded in
life, and also beyond all possible experience. Our life is discovered
as an ornament and a manifestation of that which never changes.
Our appreciation for all we live, both the highs and the
lows, becomes a natural form of worship. Experience is seen
both through the shared lens of objectivity and the secret intimate
lens of Radical Subjectivity. Being reveals something
exclusive to you, in particular. Your life is a living conversation
describing a private revelation never known to another
soul. You discover yourself as a singular juncture of countless
threads; a precious yet transitory expression that gracefully
points to that which is beyond experience.