Tarka #02: On Illusion

In this issue of Tarka, On Illusion, we engage with the intersection of the modern, virtual world and the legacy of philosophy and contemplative practice that values imagination, dream states, and the significance of illusion.

Tarka Issue #2

On Illusion

  • Historical, Polemical, and Experimental Essays
  • Introductory Articles on Key Topics
  • Interviews with Pilar Jennings and Jeffery D. Long
  • Three Book Reviews
  • Articles on Practice and Translation

Articles from this Issue

What is it Like to Be a Human?

—Animism as Embodied and Embedded Activism

“The simulation’s leaking.” 

Two of my friends sit at my kitchen table, comparing notes on a person they have just discovered they both know, in their very different social circles, on opposite sides of the country. It’s a crazy coincidence, and I can see why the idea of living in a simulation is an attractively dystopian explanation for the uncanny, mysterious, or synchronistic. That said, I don’t find the simulation story to be a very compelling narrative for making sense of my life beyond joking around about it. The idea that I might be living in a simulation seems to rest on unexamined notions that qualify perception as brain-centered, hierarchical, and mechanistic, and which cast me in a passive role. Instead, I experience my selfhood as a sense of agency, surrounded b

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

VR and Somatic Inquiry: Visualizing or Somatizing Balance?

The use of visualization within the healing art form of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy has expanded rapidly over the 20th century, in large part beginning with the system of Ideokinesis developed by Mabel Todd, author of The Thinking Body.1. Ideokinesis evolved from the work of Mabel Ellsworth Todd and her students Barbara Clark and Lulu Sweigard.  Sweigard invented 9 “lines of movement” that when visualized through the body result in improved alignment (mechanical balance) and movement performance.  There are no specific training programs in Ideokinesis per se.  However Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Anna Halprin’s, Nancy Topf’s and Eric Franklin’s programs have their roots in it to varying degrees. Glenna Batson, Irene Dowd, Pamela Matt, Marsha Paladin, and John Rolland as well as their students have taught or still teach in Europe and throughout North America.  It i

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

The Language of Image in the Clinical Setting

The language of image is one we speak every night as we dream. It just takes a little prompting for us to be able to develop our latent facility with this language. Simple questions, such as “What does this image remind you of?” open the messages from images in powerful ways. 

People who listen to the images of their dreams find this out very quickly. In traditional societies where ‘the journey’2 was practiced, it was often paired with the practice of listening to dreams. 

Many ancient societies considered dreams to be primary sources of guidance. Cultures ranging from ancient Japa

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

How Could the Body be the Self?

The Aparokṣānubhūti or “Immediate Awareness” is often taught as a classic primer of Advaita (non-dual) Vedānta philosophy. Although it is attributed to the early eighth century philosopher and teacher Śaṅkarācārya, it was more likely written in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, partly in response to the growth of haṭha yoga. Its first ninety-nine verses teach a traditional Advaitic method, which the commentator explains is for the superior or what I will call the A student, while the remaining forty-five verses incorporate a unique version of rāja yoga, including a fifteen-part system, for the mediocre or B student. The text focuses on the fundamental misunderstanding of mistaking the body for the self, just as in the classical example, one might mistake a rope in the road for a snake at night and act out of fear, because one’s vision is clouded by darkness. In other words, it explores the ways in which we get ca

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

Advaita Vedānta – Recognizing Nonduality through the Upaniṣads

The Upaniṣads, the ancient oral texts within the corpus of the Vedas, are the world’s earliest extant discussions of nonduality. They develop an integrative vision that reveals the hidden connections tying individuals to the world. The Upaniṣads raise questions about our personal identity. How should I understand my body, mind, and consciousness? And what is their relationship to the world and to God (or if there is a God or many gods)? Such lines of inquiry are the epistemic seeds for psychological integration, ethical virtuosity, and most importantly for the discovery of genuine happiness and an unshakeable internal freedom within life’s vicissitudes. 

Over the centuries, several Vedānta traditions within the umbrella of Brahmanical Hinduism arose with differing metaphysical interpretations of the Upaniṣads, including qualified nondualism and dualism; however, the Advaita Vedānta tradition

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

Illustration by Naomi Alessandra

Adventures in Consciousness

Excerpt adapted from the book Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep © 2016 Andrew Holecek, used with permission from the author and the Publisher, Sounds True, Inc.

We begin our journey with lucid dreaming. “Lucid dreaming” is when you realize you’re dreaming, but without waking up from the dream. You’re fully conscious within the dream and can do almost anything you want within it. Lucid dreaming is the ultimate in home entertainment. Your mind becomes the theater, and you are the producer, director, writer, and main actor. You can script the perfect love story or the craziest adventure. Lucid dreaming can also be used to solve problems, rehearse situations, and work th

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

Healing By Being Awake: The Shamanic Rite of Jagar in the Himalayas

The whole Himalayan village of Dunagiri was on fire, it seemed. Along with it, my body was ablaze with fever. Already mid-June and the monsoon rains hadn’t yet arrived. And along with the feeling of no-relief in sight, I’d been suffering with amebic dysentery for several months. Daily my fever was rising along with the hot season temps. 

I wasn’t alone in my suffering. Our cook, Panditji, had lost several cows due to suspicious illnesses within the same time. And his elder brother’s son had run off suddenly for no reason. 

These were no coincidences, Panditji assured me. An ancestor must be disturbed. We needed to find out what they wanted—and all our problems would be solved. 

I wasn’t shocked by his proclamation. I’d already lived in this remote Himalayan village for six mon

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

Illustration by Naomi Alessandra

Yantra

A yantra is a meditative ritual device used in South Asian Tantric traditions. It is a blueprint of energy of a specific field of consciousness. Although yantras are sometimes described as representing a deity, each yantra is more than a symbol.  A yantra is a literal matrix of divine consciousness. Yantras are an expression of consciousness in an abstract form that follows precise mathematical equations and ritual procedures in its design and construction.  

Eastern philosophical traditions have ascribed countless names to express absolute consciousness (Brahman, Kali, Paramaśiva, Tripurāsundarī), yet this formless undifferentiated state ultimately cannot be defined outside of our direct experience. Yantras serve as a bridge between relative and absolute planes of reality.  A yantra gives access to the deity on the relative

This is Member-Only Content

To access, click here to activate a Digital Subscription with a 2-Week Free Trial (no credit card required).

From the Introduction

The idea that “the world is an illusion” an that reality might not actually be as it appears may seem counterintuitive, a topic more at home in fantasy literature and science fiction than in therapy and philosophy. Yet almost every religion addresses illusion, to some degree, and highlights the imagination as an effective tool to engage with it. This suggests that perhaps there is more to truth than what is encountered through objective reasoning. Fantasy, fairy tales, myth, science fiction, sacred geometry, iconography and abstract, impressionistic art all work to communicate truths that run deeper than mere objective, surface analysis. But if imagination binds as frequently as it transforms, how are we to know which forms of illusion are true?

Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Journal Managing Editor

Subscribe to Tarka Journal

A Quarterly Journal of Yoga Philosophy

$29.00this issue only

Tarka #02:
On Illusion

  • This Print Issue Only
    Tarka #02: On Illusion
  • Future Issues
    Published Quarterly
  • 4 Digital Issues of Tarka / Year
    You will receive a link to download
  • Premium Web Content Access
    Premium articles + curated content, mini-trainings & practice resources
  • EPTV Streaming Video Library
    Includes 250+ hours of our original series, lectures, talks & workshops—accessible on the website or through our App (Apple TV, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Roku)
  • Private EP Community
    Engage in conversation with other Embodied Philosophy Members!
Buy now
$14.99 / month

Tarka Print
(includes Digital Subscription)

  • This Print Issue
    Tarka #02: On Illusion
  • Future Print Issues
    Published Quarterly
  • 4 Digital Issues of Tarka / Year
    You will receive a link to download
  • Premium Web Content Access
    Premium articles + curated content, mini-trainings & practice resources
  • EPTV Streaming Video Library
    Includes 250+ hours of our original series, lectures, talks & workshops—accessible on the website or through our App (Apple TV, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Roku)
  • Private EP Community
    Engage in conversation with other Embodied Philosophy Members!
Subscribe Now

Tarka Subscription | Frequently Asked Questions

If you subscribe to a Basic digital membership, all the written content on the website will unlock, including articles from past issues. You will receive downloadable access to the most recent Tarka PDF file, including any future issues as long as you are subscribed. If you subscribe to a digital Tarka subscription only ($4 per month), you will receive the PDF version of Tarka anytime it comes available. If you subscribe to the print+PDF option ($9 per month), you will receive the PDF to your email and the most recently published issue to your mailbox (U.S. Only).
With the digital subscription, you will get access to a downloadable PDF of the latest Tarka Issue. With a print subscription, you will receive the PDF version and the most recent print issue to your mailbox and all future issues (in print and digital), so long as you remain subscribed.
Please check out the Tarka homepage (embodiedphilosophy.com/tarka) to find information on how to contribute, or navigate to our submissions page (embodiedphilosophy.com/submissions).
Any article that is locked is behind a payment gateway for our Basic digital membership plan. There are many other articles in our archives that are not gated in this way.
Tarka accepts contributions from scholar-practitioners, writers, independent researchers, scientists, therapists, meditation and yoga teachers and anyone working rigorously at the intersection of research, scholarship and contemplative practice.
The Latest Issue | Tarka Issue #4

On Death

In this issue of Tarka, On Death, we explore the topic of death from the perspective of contemplative traditions – including various ways of understanding and relating to the dying process, consecrating grief and loss, and practices designed to alleviate the suffering generally associated with death.
Unlock Digital Access or Get Print Access
Tarka Submissions

Become a Writer for Tarka

We are always looking for new scholar-practitioners, researchers, writers and teachers to join our Tarka community of contributors. Below are a list of forthcoming Issue topics. If you would like to submit an abstract for consideration, please follow the link below.
  • Issue #4: On Death
  • Issue #5: On Queer Dharma
  • Issue #6: On Spiritual Citizenship
  • Issue #7: On Tantra
Submit to Tarka
  1. The journey is an adaptation of the shamanic journey, which contributes to personal transformation in the clinical setting. The shamanic journey is a method of altering one’s state of awareness through the use of repetitive sound, most often a drum.