No Hope

Kanipakam-GanapathiToday, on our way back from a hospital we passed a church. It’s a church we’ve passed a hundred times. No biggie. And like many churches these days, the need a sign out front to broadcast religious phrases. Fine. Dandy.

Today, though, the message bothered me. I mean, more than it usually does. One side of the sign read, “Evolution: You’re an animal with no hope” and the other side of the sign read, “Bible: You’re the image of God, with Jesus as hope.” It’s amazing we didn’t run off the road with as much as we were rolling our eyes.

I don’t want this to come off as arrogant or anything, but I feel more than a little bad for folks who adhere to a way of life or thinking that seems to perpetually put them in conflict with the very existence they have.

I believe in God and in evolution. I think there are a billion ways to marry the two concepts and I’d reject anything that would try to make me doubt one or the other. Further, to claim that something like evolution means a human can have no hope is mean and ridiculous. The notion falls in line with the essential Church doctrine that humanity is inherent flawed and evil (at least since The Fall). Something I can’t stand.

As if that slap in the face didn’t do the job, the other cheek was more subtly slapped by the message on the other side of the sign. “Go to our holy book and learn just how evil you are and the place your only hope in an external source, as specified by us, because you’re not able to do anything else of worth.”

Then… god help me… an old friend of mine, who I pretty much only communicate with via Facebook and who is a Christian in the absolute loosest sense of the word decided that it would be an equality statement to post a verse from the biblical book of Hebrews. The verse seemed made up of two basic sentences. One implied that “the one who makes men holy” and “the ones who are holy” are of the same family. The other indicated that Jesus is not ashamed of the holy ones. Typical.

I pointed out that the verse he posted has two implications: That there are people who are unholy and that Jesus is ashamed of those people.

His response (at least, as of the last time I checked) was that I shouldn’t inject my personal views into the Bible. My only response was that I wasn’t projecting, just doing what he is doing which is to take the verse by itself and understand it as such. He insisted that the verse is pro-equality, which I don’t buy. I asked him if any of the surrounding verses actually support the idea of equality because the one he posted simply doesn’t.

As it stands, I think I’ll ignore any responses made to that post hence forth and instead spend the rest of tonight in sadhana and hitting the sack a little earlier than usual.

Beginning’s Beginning

I think this first video details how many westerners feel. I’m annoyed that a grown man can’t stop from laughing when someone from across the globe has a name that sounds like something else.

LOVE the explanation of Shiva in this second video. And a wonderful aarti as a thanks-giving ceremony! Factoid: North India is apparently less orthodox than the south.

The first time I’ve seen a sadhu actually answer a cell phone. Ganesha is typically known as the personification of Om, and I love that the guide explains Om as The Beginning and The End.

Ganesh – Ganesh – Ganesh! Love the puja. The swami/teacher does well at explaining a fundamental difference between east & west spirituality, involving sex, even! I think this guy asks a great question of the swamini… pay attention! And listen to her answer. 🙂

At the beginning of this last video, he begins to verbalize jnana. They visit a unique Kali temple… by far this is the most graphic of the videos. I adore the end. Life = Dharma = Spirituality. Religious or not, we’re all the same, seeking The Same.

Tryambakam?

I daydream frequently. I’ve always been fairly imaginative. I like to tell stories when the mood hits and while I was in hair school, if we had spare time at the end of the day, grown people would literally gather around me while we looked through the haircut picture books… I’d point to some hair model and would tell their life story. Everyone loved it. One might expect that suchery would captivate children, but it was incredible to see half a room full of adults sitting, fully captivated while I blathered away about the people in the books.

When it comes to seeing what’s not there, or building a picture within my mind’s eye, I’m usually a pro. It’s usually something I’m capable of rather effortlessly. But when it comes to visualizing with intent, with a deeper meaning or purpose, my mind and imagination halt.

According to http://www.definitions.net, visualization is defined as “1) to recall or form mental images or pictures. 2) to form a mental image of. 3) to make perceptible to the mind or imagination. The WordNet website from Princeton defines visualization as “visual image: a mental image that is similar to a visual perception” ( wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). And according to the almighty Wiki, one of the word’s meanings is “to form a mental picture of something that is invisible or abstract.”

This is fine. Dandy even… if you’re trying to simply imagine or be creative or something simply for the same of the visualization. But I immediately begin to struggle when it comes to employing visualization in spiritual practices.
A good ole friend of mine from way back in high school has taken a path in life that is far different from my own in nearly every way –but we’ve always agreed on the scientific basis of spirituality and of the mystic foundations of reality. For some time now, he’s been active in Chios. I’ll admit now, that I’m poorly versed in the ins & outs of the Chios system. I can say that it deals with different energies that make up reality, particularly in the context of humanity and the human experience. I’ve listened in on a number of their Google+ Hangouts and while they are indeed welcoming and interesting and informative, they seem rather… pretend. I don’t know. I can genuinely say that I have no judgements about anyone investing their time and effort in the Chios system. I sense truth there. But much of the system, and indeed much of the exercises done during the Hangouts, seems to hinge on creative visualization involving colors and shapes. Needless to say, I’m having difficulty buying into the idea that if I visualize myself being a green triune, that I’ll be able to manipulate someone else’s aura and help seal tears and leaks.

Recently, I finished a book, “Loving Ganesha,” which is published by the parampara/sampradaya I’m seriously considering becoming a member of. The lineage is pretty sweet, and I may post on it sometime in the future – it seems to be literally the only lineage I know of that maintains the degree of authenticity that it brought with it when it departed the motherland of Bharata, and is also very open to westerners and non-Indians. But this book, while seriously explaining much of anything to do with Shri Ganesha in minute detail, also indicated that Shri Ganesha is the One Hindu deity that is pleased so easily and is the most accessible to all devotees anywhere. I agree with that much. However, part of this easy access is that simply visualizing Ganesha in one’s mind’s eye brings Him near and immediately puts on into His presence – indeed, this practice of visualization is said to be very helpful when forging a relationship with Ganesha.

I hate to be a doubting Thomas, but I’m not sure I buy this either.

I do agree that, depending on the seeker and his baggage, forging a relationship with the Divine and drawing near to the Divine isn’t necessarily a complex feat. But I don’t know that simply picturing God in one’s mind is enough to immediately and powerfully bring one into practical darshan.

I’m clearly going to have to chew on this one for a bit – I don’t feel like letting part of my personal development and progression to be left up to intentional daydreaming, which is what visualization feels like to me. Maybe I just need to practice visualization a little more, and with more sincerity. Until then, I’ll likely trust in what I know works for sure for me: scientific, systematic, regular, and concrete puja/sadhana.

Om Shanti

Little Boy Blue, Come Blow Your Horn…

…The sheep are in the meadow! The cows are in the corn! Where’s the little boy who looks after the sheep? Under the haystack, fast asleep!

Is there anywhere, any place at all, within the Catholic Church that isn’t touched or overshadowed by pedophilia or other sexual immorality? When this institution collapses (it’s already crumbling), the face of the earth will surely change.

Viper’s Sting – Barbados Lime Is Just the Thing!

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There’s a dark and wond’rous mystery that lives in my temple room. It’s a little nerve-wracking, very encouraging and somewhat thrilling. I’ve been meaning to speak about it, but I hate jinxes. It’s so weird.

Dwaraka

Dwaraka_Matte_01My beloved loves television. Most evenings, from the time dinner preparation begins until after he falls asleep, the television is on. It’s to the point that if I’m gone and return home, where’s he’s been the whole time, and I don’t hear the television when I walk in, I nearly immediately hit panic mode. I literally shove off whatever I’m lugging in the door and immediately seek him out to ascertain that he is well and unharmed.

Tonight, as with most nights, the television played while we ate. We do our best to watch from the dining room – which isn’t difficult, especially for him. He almost directly faces the television from his place at the dinner table. This evening while we ate, H2 channel was showing another of their Ancient Astronauts shows.

Let me be clear. I believe there is intelligent, evolved, life “out there.” I do. I am, however, more convinced that God sometimes wears an elephant face or that God plays/played a flute and herded cattle than I am convinced that Earth is currently and occasionally visited by hyper-evolved aliens.

Tonight’s episode of Ancient Astronauts did well at blending both of those ideas, though.

The episode mentioned, at length, the Bay of Khombat off of northwest India, as well as the city of Dwaraka which lies beneath water even farther north and west. Apparently, both places do an almost incredible job at proving ancient Hindu texts as being accurate and true.

For the record, while Hinduism’s holy texts are often, umm… colorful and fancy, they’ve often been proven to be scientifically sound and surprisingly accurate. This aspect alone makes me love my chosen religion. Our scriptures have been preserved in an almost supernatural way, but entirely naturally, and they remain unedited – unlike the holy texts of various other world religions. Further, the more Hinduism becomes known and familiarized within the West, the more natural appeal it holds and the more legitimacy it gains. Hinduism has never fought or tried to stifle science and this is a source of immense pride for me.

Back to the show… apparently these underwater sites are quite fantastic finds. The Bay of Khombat is amazing on its own and the ancient city of Dwaraka holds connection to god Krishna and a huge ass war. Of course, the ancient astronaut theorists were all over the descriptions of this war, after which Krishna eventually departed His city and water overtook it. The details of the war definitely can be construed as having an alien element. Literally, lots of mention of crazy flying vessels with amazing navigation capabilities, shooting intense light beams (lasers) and all that other stuff E.T. enthusiasts live for.

Fine. Dandy. But I just don’t buy that Krishna was an alien or that aliens were involved in a terrestrial war there – or anywhere else on our planet. So much else from a vast array of Hindu texts has proven to be quite literally true, when at first thought to be mostly figurative. I can’t imagine after all that, that the final war at Dwaraka was actually an alien thing. It also doesn’t make much sense to me to hold the idea that intelligent life, more advanced than ours, undergoes inter-stellar travel just to ultimately perform experiments and play hide-n-seek with us. That, however, is for a different post.

Om Shanti