Better Karma For All?

I love social media. It can actually border on some kind of meditative experience because it can sometimes have the effect of getting a person away from his own thoughts – but IF that happens (a very big if) then it usually is incredibly short-lived because within minutes of viewing social media a person has reconnected with his thoughts – in reaction to content viewed – and sometimes even more disturbed than before. I imagine prior to the advent of such prevalent and easily-accessed social media people were alone with their own thoughts more than they are now.

I was scrolling through Facebook recently and came upon a comment back-n-forth between one of my friended folks and one of his own friends. It was spawned by my friend having updated some photo of his to be one of him working out – a side view of himself to show off some bicep / tricep action. One of the first comments was about him eating beef… Which is almost ironic because people assume anyone with any sort of noticeable musculature MUST consume loads of animal flesh, yet there are vegan body builders with “swole” muscles all over their body. I’d think, if no one else, someone who is anti-meat would know that muscle building doesn’t automatically equate a carnivorous diet. But the guy doing the accusing below makes exactly that assumption. Lucky for him, this time he’s correct. I’ll attach screen shots of the conversation between them. Scroll beyond the images to continue reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here you can see a dialogue that started in an inflammatory way and then continued with the one accusing the other not just of consuming meat, but meat from the flesh of Hinduism’s iconic “gau-maata” and therefore of practical blasphemy – all because of the one guy’s bicep. I’ve written before that I find it incredibly risky to one’s overall karma to feel so strongly about avoiding meat. I don’t argue that a meat-free diet is better – for billions of people alive today it factually is. But for billions of others, meat in some form or other is factually necessary to their physical health. Our methods of farming produce, regardless of whether we’re talking fruits or vegetables, still contribute to the deaths of millions of animals annually. Vegetarians and vegans alike roll their eyes when it’s said, but animals die for every salad put in a bowl and for every ounce of hummus spread over pita.

So it seems to be a pretty obvious thing that, from the most superficial examination, while a meat-free diet is better than a meat-based one, it isn’t actually as better as non-veg folk usually think. And then there’s the mental-emotional-spiritual component to wrestle with – which is really what stands out to me. With even a basic understanding of concepts like karma and samskara one can discern that getting your panties twisted – on any level – about sentient beings being consumed by other sentient beings is potentially about as detrimental as choosing a burger from the menu.

But lets try to put all that aside for a second. Lets suppose that EVERYONE on the planet gave up eating meat. In fact, this is a probable eventuality. We know for a fact that current livestock farming practices are wholly unsustainable. We know for a fact that the oceans are increasingly fucked and that the things we eat from there are being over-fished and we’re seeing entire populations depleted. The current most obvious round of extinction is happening land-side but next great wave of extinction WILL come from under the waves. Soon enough we’ll have no choice but to find other ways of getting nutrients.

If the degree of ignorance currently so prevalent across humanity continues, it’s foreseeable that there will come a time when the planet is inhabited almost solely by an overpopulation of humans – there’d still be some plants (probably only ones we can still farm at that point), microorganisms (which we current cannot feed from), and some types of insects (many of which will also have gone extinct along with the land and water life forms). I don’t usually hear vegetarians or vegans lamenting the plight of night crawlers, ants, or crickets – and yet they (or similar creatures) are already a prominent part of human diet in some parts of the world. I find that odd, but I assume the reasoning is that an earth worm or grasshopper is significantly less sentient than a cow (never mind that scriptures tell us that God resides equally within all beings). Threaten to kill a cow and it will run from that threat. Threaten to smash a cricket and it will, for the exact same reason, try to escape. Why no outcry for the grasshoppers that end up on kebabs?

Really going down a rabbit hole….

For the sake of argument, let’s say that there IS less paap (sin) associated with eating “lesser” beings – which would include plants since they have their own base level of awareness and responses to threat, not unlike some insects. Let’s say the entire world is fed from veggies and maybe supplemented with fried crickets (or not – stick with plants only, if you want). Wouldn’t the entire world, under such conditions that no one was eating beings of higher sentience, then enjoy universally improved karma? Or maybe not, since sentient beings die for every salad produced?

How do we know the difference of karmic influence for a person eating one cow versus that same person eating 50 crickets? I don’t know how many fried crickets a person would typically eat in a year’s time, but even the most basic math says that eventually that person would consume however many crickets is the equivalent of having eaten a cow. The same math would on some level apply to accidental deaths of sentient beings that happen during farming. So then would the world’s karma be fucked again? Or maybe crickets, like plants, are so worthless that this would never be an issue? Maybe the amsha (spark) of God that lives in the lettuce and the cricket means less, is less divine? And what about the karma attached to a salad for which one thousand animals were accidentally killed during lettuce or carrot harvesting? If I want my salad and animals die for that, how is that terribly different from me wanting a cheeseburger and an animal dying for that? Vegans and vegetarians, do roll your eyes – but also answer these questions, if you please. If you think you can.

In Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness we give study to the idea of impressions (Hindu lingo = samsara). Meat-free eating is absolutely encouraged but not demanded by our hierarchy. It’s understood that, just as bad as biting into a lamb, is a traumatic reaction to biting into a lamb. Aversion is understood to be equally detrimental as attraction in the same degree. This might be weird to read but this is kind of where Heartfulness is a confluence of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufism. All of this is trapping and all of it should be moved beyond.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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Once You Know Better

 

“I still think 24…”

This was one of the final responses in a string of comments I was part of that spawned from a math word problem. People HATE word problems. In all fairness, I think virtually every word problem I’ve come across since school ended for me, and half of them while I was in school, hinged not so much on the numbers in the sentences but on understanding the words of the sentences themselves. Word problems are the devil, to be sure, and deficient understanding of grammar and word meaning will only help that devil catch you.

It would be one thing if word problems were more about communicating numbers through words and making sure the reader could still conclude the correct math, but instead they seem to be more about presenting a frustrating riddle. And I hate riddles. I know some people use them in interviews or tackle riddles for fun, but to me they hardly have value beyond determining just how long someone is willing to hit their head against a wall… And since I don’t like hitting my head against walls, I don’t do riddles. But I digress.

Word (math) problems, like riddles, are terrible beasts.

In the word problem I started off mentioning, there was some back and forth and differing answers. Some said the answer is 24 (as in the quote earlier). Some said 21. Some said 15, I think. My answer, as well as the answer of a few others, was 5. This happens to be the correct answer and those of us who answered correctly arrived at that answer through the problem’s tricky words. After there had been plenty of back and forth and it seemed clear that some feelings were being hurt (as is often the case when things seem so open to interpretation), I decided to turn to the Internet for a concrete solution. After poking around online I found that, indeed, 5 is the correct, not-open-to-interpretation answer as verified by the words and the resultant math. It might seem cold and harsh but there generally can be only one correct answer to a math problem (certainly some exclusions apply). All others are factually wrong. And that’s the difference between opinion and fact… In this case, the difference manifests between words and numbers associated with those words. After I presented the actual, factual answer to the word problem there was one person who responded with the aforementioned quote, “I still think 24…”

I think it’s totally fine to debate words using words. It’s healthy to discuss word meaning and word usage. Knowing word meaning and word usage is critical – in fact, you can’t even learn higher things like some forms of math without using words. That’s how important and powerful words are. Like Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon who is the essential gatekeeper and without whom it is said hardly anything is even possible, without words and their correct understanding and employment – you simply get stuck awfully fast.  Ugh… and I might have digressed again!

The point I’m trying to make is that, with many things, you CAN know the hard truth because it exists. Yes, much can be open to interpretation – but all that means is that the concrete answer might not be simply black or white, but rather falls somewhere in the large gray area in between. But it’s no less concrete or sure. When we think of things being black or white we misunderstand that – we liken it to being cut-n-dry. While they do imply certain cut-n-dry-ness, black and white are primarily just opposites. Extremes, purely in relation to each other. To say something sits in the large gray in-between might SOUND like it’s less certain and more open to wiggle room and interpretation, but it isn’t necessarily. It’s just that it’s simply not a polar opposite to something else. (This does come with a little wiggle room in some cases and would be when a statement like “Just because you’re right doesn’t mean I’m wrong” could apply. Still, that has no actual bearing on the truth of whatever the matter is.)

And yes, everyone is STILL entitled to whatever opinion they choose to carry. But, as already stated, none of that will ever change the truth of anything. Solid or sure truths are sometimes called facts. If your opinion differs from a fact – that’s fine and dandy. But you’re simply incorrect. You’re wrong. At and that point, you being incorrect is also a fact and not open to interpretation. Once you come to know better (once you’re presented with actual and true information which you maybe didn’t know beforehand and you are told that there IS a fact which applies to the situation — and that your willful opinion differs from that fact), then you’re choosing to be wrong and anyone else who also knows better will probably think you’re a fool.

I think most people understand this on at least a basic level. Where things really start going awry is when people seem to have a hard time understanding that and then also think that opinions weigh as much as fact. They. Do. Not. It’s each person’s important responsibility to first understand the difference between fact and opinion and then to decide if they would like to evolve their opinion to match the truth more closely, or else risk looking like a fool. The world needs no more fools than it already has. Let us each be responsible where we can be and be open to truth.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

The Real Thing

 

Babuji has masterfully done it all.

“If you read Babuji Maharaj’s diary entries dated 25 December 1947, first Lalaji Maharaj communicates about brahmarandra or bhanwar gupha, and on the same day Swami Vivekananda communicates about the seven rings of splendor in the Central Region. Now when you ask, ‘Where is bhanwar gupha?’ people say it is at the back of the head. They also say that the Central Region is at the back. There is nothing wrong with saying that, as it is also correct. But all these things are the reflection of the Real Thing which is in the heart. Actual bhanwar gupha is in the heart between points A and B. That hint is there in the text. And the seven rings are there in the heart, reflecting seven rings of splendor echoing at the back of the head. Echoing means that it is not the real thing; the real sound is in the heart. So, you see the feeling is felt somewhere but actually comes from another place.”

Daaji then commented on the masterful discovery of points A and B by Babuji Maharaj, and how the whole Hierarchy was so pleased about this discovery. “The research of Babuji Maharaj on point A and point B is really great. When he was going to Lakhimpur-Kheri by bus, he stumbled upon this discovery that if a person can meditate on point A and clean point B, all the passionate tendencies can be removed. So, they were dancing with joy in the Brighter World, you see. What a discovery! Then Lalaji ordered, ‘Ailan kiya jaye or jo jo log Shahjahanpur ke bahar hain unko khat likha jai ki har shaksh ko point A per dhayn karna padega, uspe murakba kiya jae aur jo shaksh nahi karega unki jimmedari sae ham alhada ho jayenge,’ meaning, ‘May this be announced, and all those who are outside Shahjahanpur be informed by letter, that every person should meditate on point A. For those who do not practise this, we will detach ourselves from their responsibility.’ He clearly said that we will not assume the responsibility for individuals who do not do these practices on these two points, A and B.”

 

(From Google Image search)

 

Daaji then went on to explain the true significance and extent of action of points A and B. “The extent to which points A and B can expand is limitless. It is not just about passion; it is all about superconsciousness. To remove passion is a very limited view. This is a fact. Once you remove passion, then points A and B expand limitlessly. How can there be the possibility of superconsciousness while entertaining passionate thoughts? To what extent can it expand and what depth does it have? To give you a small example, imagine when a boat is shattered to such an extent in the ocean that you cannot find even one plank of timber of it; so much of annihilation is possible. But because of desires, passion, which are concentrated at A and B, they work like a black hole, with tremendous vacuum power, holding our consciousness. Once you release those desires and passion, absolute expansion ‘happens’ as a natural consequence. That is why we do cleaning of point B and meditation at point A. It is not because of passion. The main thing is superconsciousness.”

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Discriminative Ability

While talking to a group of abhyasis at his apartment, the discussion veered towards the large number of electronic gadgets we use and our continuous attachment to them. Daaji explained the following point: “How can we expect people to exhibit discrimination when the mind is never free for vital aspects of life, to contemplate, to reflect? What do we do when we are free? We have options like television, video games, telephone chats, movies, etc. When we are occupied all the time with these options, we do not even capture a thought, what to say of reflection and contemplation. Conclusions need to be based on observations, but nowadays conclusions are based on impulse. Any form of addiction is a problem for us. These electronic gadgets are an addiction. Anything which takes us outward is an addiction. How can there be pratyahara when the mind is always outward bound?”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

No God, Mmmmkay?

 

A lot of people assume. And a lot of assuming people assume a lot. It’s really quite a mess and easily escalates itself into ever-bigger scenarios. This happens all through society (all societies) in many ways, not even just when dealing with assumptions. I think one area where this happens a lot is spirituality. People make so many assumptions. Some assumptions might be that spirituality is froo-frooey or only for those with their heads in the clouds. but that’s not necessarily the case. Some forms of spirituality are actually quite mundane and even scientific in their approach. Some spirituality is perfectly suited to those who don’t believe in magic at all.

 

Q: In everyday life, I meet people who do not accept that there is a soul. They don’t feel they have a soul. What can I tell them?

Daaji: It’s okay. You don’t have to convince them, and there is no need to get into an argument. Rather you can say, “Let us not call this entity a soul, or a causal body. Let us instead call it something that gives support to the whole system or life.” It is something that manifests at the moment of birth, and if at that moment the baby does not cry, the doctor taps the baby on the back to stimulate the breathing. If the baby still does not start crying it means that the life force has not come along. So that life force is still along with us now, until one day, in its wisdom, it decides to kick the bucket and say, ‘Okay, I am going now.’

The soul won’t realise that it has gone. It won’t find any difference at all, nor will it be shocked. The soul will see that everything is in order. It is only the people left behind here who are shocked: “Oh, what happened to her?” So you can call it the life force, or you can give any name to it. Something is there which keeps us going until we take the last breath. What is it? Put a question to them? Sometimes I joke when people say, “Why should I meditate on Divine Light, if I don’t believe in God?” So I tell them, “The idea is to keep your thought on something, so you might as well put it on the Godly presence in your heart.”

“But I don’t believe in God.”

So I tell them, “All right, then meditate on no God in your heart.” The main thing is not to fight with them. You can say, “I agree with you, but still let’s meditate.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti