Greenery

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The picture above is of something near-n-dear to me. It’s my “asana.” To be clear, the only definition most people know to apply to that word is along the lines of “body posture.” Everyone almost invariably thinks of Hatha Yoga and yoga mats and teachers at the front of the class twisting their bodies into poses the students could only hope to achieve. According to Patanjali, asana is a firm but comfortable posture. Wikipedia mentions some Purana (I think) wherein Shiva, the Supreme Yogi and guru of all yogis, provides 8,400,000 asanas. Of that number, 84 make up the “heart” of yoga poses, and of those 84 apparently only 32 are necessary here on Earth. However, another definition that I’ve encountered (although I forget where) is that an asana is the “mat” on which one sits during meditation (think of the animal skin Shiva is usually shown as sitting on during his meditation). And so, my asana. I came to me from Ikea and probably cost not more than $20, American. Methinks it’s made of cotton and is very durable but not terribly heavy.

I love my asana because of its weight and because of what it’s made of and its color. I usually wrap myself or my legs in it during meditation, but when it’s folded up it makes a great cushion on which to sit for the same purpose. I obviously keep it clean and I’ve been known to use things like Febreeze or other fabric sprays because the pleasantness of the smells seems to help facilitate meditation.

The Sahaj Marg employs a heart-centered meditation / transmission technique. The heart chakra (Anahata Chakra, अनाहत चक्र) is kind of like the “action center” for this sadhana and the color associated with that center of the body is green. Long before I came to Sahaj Marg, green was my favorite color. It’s the color of life and growth. It’s the color of some foundational plants in the vegetarian way of eating. And despite the common misunderstanding that red is the color of love, anyone familiar with any of the esoteric arts will advise you that green is actually the color of love which in my mind, in certain contexts, also makes it the color of God. I suppose this makes my association with Sahaj Marg somewhat serendipitous on a superficial level. I’m fine admitting that it might be entirely in my head, but wrapping myself comfortably in the “aura” of the chakra in question seems to help me dissolve into meditation more readily. Additionally, it’s important to keep items like this reserved for that one use only. This blanket will never be used to cover something up, or to wrap up in against the cold (unless I happen to be meditating in a cold place), my dogs / cat will never have access to snuggling up with this blanket.

I have lots of possessions but there aren’t many items in my life that hold a ton of meaning for me, from a spiritual standpoint. I have mandirs and murtis, ghantas and diyas, etc… many of which are quite special to me. But there’s only this lone asana. With all the symbolism I’ve attached to the object and all the “vibes” it’s been infused with (both from myself and my Guru), it’s no wonder this is a special thing to me and I kind of felt like a show-n-tell post might be warranted. I’ll close with a recent and short story that involved my asana.

I was at the home of a prefect recently for a sitting (in the Sahaj Marg sense of the term) and it was just the two of us (although another sitting was taking place in another part of the home). Their home is absolutely beautiful. The “ashram” part of their home has lots of natural lighting thanks to wonderfully placed and large windows. For my sitting I sat with my back to one of these windows – actually in my favorite place to sit when I’m there. The chair in which I sat is a retro-modern style: boxy and firm, but comfortable and possessing soft angles. Just outside the window are a couple larger bushes / smaller trees. While there, a short but intense summer thunderstorm rolled through with lots of thunder and heavy rain. After the sitting, my prefect painted a mental picture for me of a sight seen by herself: I was there in the chair, slightly wrapped in my green asana and sitting before the window – eyes closed in sadhana / meditation. The trees and sky were the backdrop and the storm passed through, with the sun still ahead of it. This allowed for a layering effect, I imagine: The chair, me, the asana, the window, the trees, the heavy rain, and the sunlight penetrating all of the scene. I jokingly and rather vaguely posted that night on Facebook that I was “nearly a vision” and “nearly glorious.” The greater Truth, though, is that “I” was actually a very small portion of the “vision” experienced by my prefect. In my interpretation, she saw the layering of Nature and the blessing of living in harmony with it – all things working together. This relates to some of the Maxims of Sahaj Marg and brings about a condition of joy and equanimity with myself. I’m exactly where I should be and I am headed, precisely on my own journey, to our common Goal.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Inimical Brotherhood

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

There have been a lot of posts on Facebook recently about the goings-on in the Middle East. A tiny Muslim sect (Ahmadi) made the spotlight recently when the homes of its believers were attacked and some of the adherents killed. Then there’s the whole Israel / Gaza business. It’s really enough to make one sick to his stomach. Something else that could definitely induce vomiting would be antics of some Christians who are not only faux-fasting to get the Lord’s attention regarding marriage equality, but also are terribly convinced that homosexuals are literally about to round up the Body of Christ and begin a concentration camp-style extermination of said believers.

Naturally, when events like this are brought to light (For the Middle East these violent days seem unending, and for Christians these idiocies seem similarly perpetual.) it can be very challenging not to lump the few and the many together in one ridiculous, ignorant, hateful pile.

Certainly, in everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – there are exceptions. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, chefs, politicians, police, and newspaper delivery folk all are groups, like any other, that contain an assortment of individuals both saints and sinners. And it should go without saying (although I’m saying it now) that generalizing and judging according to stereotypes is also an act of immense ignorance which leads to prejudice and all manner of human ugliness.

All of this is fine. Dandy, even. But in my mind, a question begs to be answered: Where are all the good ___________ ? (pick the name of any human group you’d like, and insert) I do believe that the nasties of any group are usually a very small percentage of its population. And I believe said nasties typically seem to have the loudest voice. But that’s not really any kind of excuse or accounting for why the good’uns don’t stand up to be counted. If I were a Christian (and I once was) and it became apparent to me that a segment of Christianity was ruining our “reputation” (for lack of a better word), you bet your butt I’d be speaking up. And I’d like to think that if I were in an Islamic country being tormented by a relatively small group of extremists, that myself and my brothers would stand up together and stomp them into the ground. But I don’t see those things happening as one would expect, or at least hope.

When a section of Christianity shows its ass, you might see a tiny group stand up and say something to refute the ass-showers, but even then it’s almost invariably done in a way that itself is more accusatory toward the ass-showers than it is redeeming for Christianity as a whole – which, to me, comes off more as a type of irresponsible avoidance than a valid and redemptive counter argument. Never mind the unfortunate fact that those who do speak against the ass-showers are themselves invariably a very tiny percentage of the overall group – so even if one can come to the conclusion that most Christians aren’t ass-showers, the conclusion that most Christians are of the “good” kind feels still out of reach. And what about our Muslim brethren? There’s no way in the world I believe that most Muslims are hijack-prone bomb fanatics. I studied Islam intensely for over a year and I know for a fact the path contains Truth. But where are all the “good” Muslims when some of these atrocities are happening? Why don’t Islamic attempts to stop suicide bombers ever succeed or even make the news?

I’ll never purposely make a case for someone to maintain discrimination against another group, but I sometimes feel like all I can do is passively shrug my shoulders when I hear some buffoon ignorantly spout off a host of stereotypical things. I could easily speak up (anyone who knows me, knows this is way true) and have spoken up in the past, but I never seem to have much ground to stand on. Where’s the proof that “most” active Christians aren’t ridiculous and hateful? There’s definitely abundant proof of the contrary. And what should I cite when speaking up for seekers within the religion of Islam? Tens of thousands of Muslims will take to the streets and practically riot when a mere picture of Mohammad is drawn and published (and not even one meant to be taken too seriously), but the masses are silent when Muslim extremists hunt down Hindus and slaughter them after destroying their houses of worship. (Before anyone skewers me too badly here, I do recognize what a nightmare it must be to live in such areas and I know that when someone arrives at your door and puts a gun to your face, you don’t argue, you submit. But the bulk of the world’s Muslim population are 1) not Arab and 2) do not reside in these harsh areas. These non-Arab Muslims make up the Islamic majority, not the civilians of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, and these Muslims could speak up quiet easily and quite comfortably AND with the added boon of the money of their western lifestyles to back them up.)

Please believe me, keeping your mouth shut when you need to open it the widest is not just cowardly, but it’s also gross. If what’s in your heart and mind don’t manifest in your words and actions, especially when it counts, then you might as well call yourself indifferent to the misery and sorrow of other beings because you’re being about as helpful. Naturally, there’s a time and place for everything and no one should abandon common sense or safety when taking a stance, but for most of my readers there has never been a time when you should keep silent and not stand for those who are weaker. Avoiding this kind of selfless duty because of timidity or a lack of confidence has got to be one of the most offensive forms of adharma I can bring to mind.

It’s all a huge tragic (and unnecessary) mess, obviously. The optimist in me brings new hope to the table each day. The realist in me, though, calls a spade a spade and continues to wait for the actualization of the optimist’s hope. I mostly tell the pessimist in me to shut its pie hole. It mostly listens.

At the end of the day, I don’t really care if all Christians are bigots or just a few. It doesn’t matter to me if all Muslims are terrorists or just a few. What matters to me is how I use my own voice and that I resist being too passive or indifferent when I see bullshit. In this spirit, I’ll close with my current guru’s words which, in this context, will be my governance, and I’ll point out that love is not passive. Ever.

“In life it is always possible that the people whom we consider as friends turn against us and similarly those whom we treat as enemies help us. So do not worry about others’ activities. Continue to show your love to all irrespective of whether they are friendly or inimical. You should understand that love begets love.” – Chariji, from Spiders Web Volume 2

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Re-pocalypse

Post-Apocalypse-London

Today was super productive for me. I awoke earlier than usual for once and made it to morning satsangh. (I usually forego Sunday morning satsanghs during the summer season and instead attend on Wednesdays. The time of satsangh will shift in the fall by a good 90 minutes and I’ll then do my best to attend both, weekly.) After satsangh I went grocery shopping in what had to have been the emptiest grocery store in Indiana. It was heavenly. After that I grabbed a “breakfast” at Starbucks and took my car through the car wash before coming home to unpack said groceries, take the dogs out, and start laundry. Soon after those things, I spent a full 90 minutes scrubbing and vacuuming my car – removing everything from wheelchair scuffs to pop-tart crumbs. (Btw, it turns out that my next oil change will fall right around the time my car hits 100,000 miles!) After the car stuff, I managed a very short nap before running into town to get my hairs cut shorter – something I badly needed. The Best managed this for me, and since we were together I snatched him with me as company while I brought my lunch groceries into the office (saving me from lugging them in tomorrow with everything else I usually bring on Mondays) which was followed by us grabbing a Greek lunch. By the end of today I will also have finished reading the most recent issue of Yoga Journal to arrive in my mailbox, as well as the latest Hinduism Today. And only a short while ago, I finished the latest Sahaj Marg book I’ve been reading, “Reality at Dawn.” None of these things are particularly incredible, but for me this makes for an unusually productive day off. That last one, though, is the reason for this post.

Near the end of Reality at Dawn there is a chapter by the name of “My Vision.” I really had no idea what to expect from a chapter with that title, but I was surprised. The book itself was written by the Marg’s current grand-guru whom we call Babuji. Since coming to the Sahaj Marg, I have nearly always felt a bit more drawn to Babuji and I was glad to read one of his books. The start of the chapter is something that already escapes my memory, but I recall that the bulk of the chapter is rather prophetic and paints quite the picture of how the end of the world may well look, and also what may be some of the main contributing factors. Babuji also details slightly some of what the “after” will be like for survivors and the first generation following.

It shocked me a little – mostly because it’s been a minute since I last read something of that nature. I have to say, much of what Babuji detailed is totally applicable even today.

Despite the surprise of reading a chapter wherein the end of the world is spelled out, it wasn’t terribly alarming. Maybe that’s because of my familiarity with Shaivism and the rudimentary understanding so many have in regard to him being the Destroyer and his Nrtya causing everything to “melt.” I think I’m also at peace with ideas of the end of the world because I know it’s not really the end. Everything, even God, is cyclical in Hinduism. In Hinduism, “every new beginning” really “is some other beginning’s end,” to quote Semisonic’s “Closing Time” song.

As a Hindu I can know peace because of this. Life/Love is all that truly exists, albeit in differing energetic forms. In “A Course in Miracles” one of the first verses I learned and which has stuck with me is, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” Peace, indeed! You can hold hands with the Destroyer and know true, lasting, and deep peace because nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists. This is hope and this is what would surely carry me through any possible end-of-times scenario I might experience, for as much of it as I’m able to live through. Everything, on the most minuscule of scales, is coming to an end all the time. Literally. And then, after that ending, there’s more. The same will happen on any scale, even if that scale is cosmic. There’s no need to fear, regardless of how tragic those endings might eventually be, and as a Hindu/Abhyasi I take refuge in knowing my karmas and samskaras are being worked on. Each satsangh, each sitting, each book I read – every effort of each day – is for my progression and betterment of my surroundings and the beings therein.

I think no one in their right mind would welcome an apocalypse, per se. But from where I currently stand, it’s possible to see it coming and watch the progressive arrival with the serene smile of a raja yogi.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Me, Myself, and … Nope. Just me.

Taken from Google Image search

Taken from Google Image search

I went on a bike ride last night. Alone. This makes the (at least) third time recently that I’ve asked the Best to join me and have been refused. The most recent reason was that eating microwaved bratwursts in front of the television beats summer night bike rides with me. Earlier last night, before the Best arrived home, I had a chat with the Beloved. He used to awaken WAY early just to work out. We would drive to work together and then go to the gym after work. It made accountability for going to the gym way easy – in fact, mostly there wasn’t a choice in it.

However, for the last eight months things have been considerably different. Around the end of last year I took a new (far more demanding) position at the office and also the Best moved in with us in an effort to mitigate some of the karmic reflux he was receiving. These two changes alone were fairly devastating to the pattern of life my Beloved and I had worked diligently for many months prior to establish. Prior to last December, life was literally easy.

During these last eight months my daily life isn’t all to have changed. My waist size has, too. And my thighs. And my ‘nother chin. And my energy level. Blah blah blah. In fact, although I recognize a significant element of “happy” in my life (and I really AM quite happy), I definitely feel comfortable describing myself as rather “blah.”

So in my conversation yesterday with the beloved I reminded him of our “used to be” life and how I missed it. We also discussed that I would far rather come home and nap after work than I would go to the gym – despite the fact that I keep a packed gym bag in my car and am always recharging my FitBit Flex and iPod Touch. You see, most days for the duration of the day I delight in the idea of going to the gym and improving myself. And then just before leaving the office, something happens within and quite suddenly I feel my bed calling to me in a very real way.

The truth is, if the Beloved and I still drove to work together this wouldn’t be an issue – mostly because it wouldn’t be allowed to be an issue. But we don’t. He refuses to get up early as he once did (and as I currently do). I’ve begged him to arise earlier JUST enough to ride together to work (not even that he would have to work out so early, as he used to) which would eliminate the possibility of me skipping the gym, but he refuses. (He has different plans for his own fitness and is very fond of working out before our massive television to the voices coming from DVDs in the T25, P90X, and Insanity collections.)

I tried telling him that my ballooning dimensions are essentially his fault since he refuses to do this one little thing to help me, his own Beloved, in this tiny little way. He wasn’t buying it. And he shouldn’t. Years ago, I paid >$400/month for him to have personal training at this gym. We did this for many months (aka $$$$$$$$), before I finally had to tell him I wasn’t able to continue affording that luxury on his behalf. At the time, upon hearing that news, he threw a tantrum of sorts and mentioned how he needed those sessions for “accountability.” I felt guilty as hell, but it didn’t change the fact that the money simply wasn’t there. Interestingly, now that I feel I require the accountability assistance, what I’m told (by him) is that I need to suck it up and just go – that I need to just find and maintain my own willpower and motivation and just …. go to the gym.

It’s a little hurtful not to get what I’ve given, but I suppose the bigger truth is that he’s right. My ego and pain body would LOVE to recycle these thoughts and feelings and reverberate the overall “poor me – why no one helps me the way I help them?” kinda internal drama. Only ego expects to get when it’s given and the pain body lives on the whole “poor me” scenarios.

I’ve mentioned ego and the pain body, which I first learned of through Eckhart Tolle. He’s not exactly a Hindu sage, however this stuff still applies to my path as a Hindu. I’ve always known that effort on the part of the aspirant is mandatory. We might receive little nudges or boosts from our guru or from pleasant patches in our karmas, but the onus is no less on the individual to make the journey back to the Origin.

Adopting Hinduism as my path, with a Ganapatya/Shaiva focus, has really driven home this truth. From the wisdom of the Gita we’re encouraged by Krishna to not only do what we must but also not to despair because no effort is ever wasted – this is an important component in the truth that is Karma which might be for another post but definitely points to another component which is that effort is mandatory.

From the perspective of the abhyasi practice of the Sahaj Marg this couldn’t be truer. As an abhyasi, I maintain as close a relationship as is possible with the current guru of the lineage – the development of my spirituality directly relates to this. Additionally, there are other components of the Sahaj Marg path that also directly relate to my personal progression and spiritual development – much of which rests squarely on my own shoulders.

Whether we’re talking the temple or the gym, the matter at hand changes very little. I can be seeking siddhis or enlightenment or spiritual subtlety. Or I can pursue the flattest abdominals and pectoralis muscles people could dangle from. The difference is negligible and the point remains the same. I have to own my development and progression, and so do you. No one can do this for us and everything else is a lame excuse. My prayer is that we’re able to recognize when we’re fooling ourselves and that we’ll awaken into a subtle light that shows to us not only the value of seeing how meaningful our actions are, but also the clearest path for those actions.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Pawn

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

I’ve never set foot inside of a pawn shop. (Btw, why aren’t these places called “stores”? They’re always “shops.”) Pawn shops are, to me, like gas stations and liquor stores – I simply shall not enter inside. It annoys my Beloved, sometimes greatly. But back to pawn shops… So, you have something and you get something ($$$) for it, right? I know there’s more to it that just that, but stay with me here. Now tell me, who would go into such a place with say a Faberge Imperial Egg? According to the Faberge website, the most expensive one sold was the 1913 Winter egg which, I think, sold for a little over 3 million dollars. What folly for the owner of that treasure to go into a pawn shop, be offered $10, and accept! Not just folly, right? Tragedy!

Why is that? Because, for a number of reasons, the Winter Egg of 1913 has been determined as worth far more than $10.

Doesn’t it seem as though the same would (should!) apply to humans? (For the record, I fully believe that this also applies to non-humans, but I’m trying to keep the scope within reason right now.) As a Hindu, this baffles and saddens me – that humans are more familiar with and more certain of the value of a manufactured egg than they are their own worth. No one would take less cash for something than it’s truly worth, especially if that cash was genuinely needed. But humans not only discount but also flat-out ignore their own value ridiculously often.

In my earlier years as a Hindu, I was considerably drawn to Yogananda and his teachings. Same goes for Vivekananda, although I still drink a bit from that fountain. One thing I learned from both is that, as sparks of the Divine we’re children of God.

This is interesting, no? Being a child of God? What does that even mean? I don’t know that I’m the most authoritative person on the matter, but I can tell you it means it’s your duty to know your worth and to live as though you know that value.

When kings and queens have children, those children are known in very specific ways: they aren’t just children, they are princes and princesses. Right? Those titles are outward symbols to let everyone else know, “Hey – Don’t mess with me because not only is my dad the king, but also I’m destined for the throne my self!”

Now before we take this whole prince/princess talk too far in the direction of ego, let’s relate it back to the point being made: There’s a value assigned to being the child of a king and that value must be recognized. Plain and simple.

Why is being a child of God any different? It isn’t. Please believe me.

As a child of God, you’re to know your value and worth. You’re to know the source of your very existence in the very same way a prince or princess does. This is simply calling a spade what it is, and unless you begin abusing that knowledge there’s no ego in it. In the very same manner no one in their right mind would pawn a Faberge egg for $10, no one in their right mind is willing to discount the immense value inherent to who they are. Else, that person is suffering unnecessarily and may well not be in their right mind – filled instead with delusion and excuses for why they should tolerate being valued for only $10.

Even from a godless perspective the same holds true. On the most basic level every human is made of flesh and bone. Excepting differences that could easily be called “cosmetic” (skin color, eye color, height, weight, ability/disability, ancestry, nationality, religion, etc…), each human is far more like the next than not. This means, a literally as is possible, that each has the same value. It’s not complex reasoning or high philosophy of any sort.

Dear reader, it is a supremely sincere prayer in my heart that you should know this – that you should have this Realization. Everything is within you, and as such you are worth the sum total of every thing – and then some! Please know it and live this truth. Stand up for yourself when you should and in the way that you should – in a way that makes clear that you are no different. Stand up for others because of this immense value, too.

Anything short of this is surely pawning yourself for $10.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

The Used Bouquet

Sometimes life is a real trip. Sometime mid-day on June 25th, my beloved pings me on our office instant messenger sending me a link to our local newpaper, the Indy Star. I sat in disbelief as I read the article and soon found myself re-reading the second sentence over and over. It said gay couples are able to marry “immediately.” Immediately! And immediate wasn’t soon enough for me.

I pinged my beloved back asking if it was real. I then spent the next 20 minutes at my desk weeping as discretely as I could. Everyone knew it was an historical moment. But being a Hindu has taught be that knowing isn’t enough unless it’s coupled with some form of experience. Knowing history is being made is entirely different when you’re directly affected by that making. It shook me to my core to read that – immediately – I could go marry the person I’ve loved and felt married to for over a decade already. All the benefits (and misery!) heterosexual couples have known (and too often taken for granted) were finally something others had to legally recognize as mine too. Whether the validity of my marriage is affected by legal recognition is not the point. The truth doesn’t change with legal recognition – if gay marriage was never legalized in my lifetime, then it would still not affect the validity of my marriage to Wayne. But the truth of my life commitment is now legally protected and knowing that, I sat at my desk with wet eyes and trembling hands.

As soon as I could get a grip, I messaged him back with something to the effect of, “Let’s go do this RIGHT NOW.” He balked at the offer. The next twenty minutes of communication between us was an unfortunate back-n-forth wherein I practically begged him to leave our office with me and go get legally married … and him offering excuse after excuse for why we shouldn’t right then. He’s nowhere nearly as impulsive as I am and at one point he said he wanted to plan ahead – to which I replied that all I’ve done is plan ahead and ten years is more than enough time. The truth of all that is simply that he’s not wanting to make the evening news in any way and he also knew well that there would be push-back from the local conservatives which could ultimately mean our marriage would be negated and he didn’t want to run to get something that was possibly going to be taken right back from us. That’s fair enough, but a compromise had to be reached: If we weren’t going right then, then we’d definitely be going soon otherwise. I told him I was hurt and didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

That evening we met back at home but there was nothing to discuss really: He got what he wanted in the first round and now it was my turn. We went to our county’s courthouse and quickly found out that they weren’t offering the same extended hours as the main county of Indianapolis. In the process though, we met an officer on duty that night who was friendly to us. He explained that we should go to the local government website to be prepared with whatever we might need to bring and advised us that the building would reopen the next day at 0830. This officer was far friendlier than the other cop on duty right then and as he spoke to us I wondered to myself just why… could he be gay, too? Yes, he could be. And indeed he is. Shortly after tearing a scrap of paper from a binder he carried and writing on it the web address we should review, he let us know that he and his spouse have been together 26 years already and were married in New York when they were first able. We congratulated him and he wished us luck.

We went home and chatted for a couple hours with the Best before sleeping. The next day, bright and early, we awoke and rushed to the courthouse. Others had beaten us to the Clerk’s office that morning. A couple would check in at the window, handing over their driver’s licenses and $20. They were then advised to sit at one of two computers and fill out the official application – which still offered only bride/groom settings. After completing that application, the waiting began. There were nearly a dozen couples ahead of us, including one heterosexual couple. As the names of the couple were called to come back faces lit up with smiles and a few minutes later, when the couples came back out into the lobby, cheers and soft applause were awarded to them. In our case, we were the second-to-last couple to be called back and while we were in the back, the last couple was called. As it happened, we finished before the last couple and so as we re-entered the lobby there was no one to cheer for us… Something just fine with us both, actually.

We’d learned earlier that morning that the Magistrate was performing weddings at 1100 and 1500 for another $80. We weren’t sure we wanted to do it right then, but at the last minute decided to go for it. We went to the first scheduling and there were about eight other couples there also. We were the sixth newly weds that morning. The first couple to go was a lesbian couple who had clearly planned for the moment with semi-formal dresses, a friend to be with them, and a wedding bouquet. When they came back from having gone before the judge, everyone congratulated them (something that happened with every couple). There was no one to toss the bouquet for, so instead they passed the bouquet along to the next couple. And, in turn, as each couple exited the court room and was congratulated, they passed the bouquet to the next couple due in.

Some people wouldn’t be okay with that, but I found myself really touched and very glad to have the used bouquet. It seemed to symbolize the similar journey and struggle each of us as a couple had undergone leading up to that moment. By the time the flowers reached us, they were definitely beginning to fall apart, but I found that symbolic to: Sometimes when the goal is reached there’s less of you than there was on the journey before that moment. Some of of the couples were actually pretty old. I imagine they felt like the flowers that were beginning to wilt, and yet the moment was no less. The moment wasn’t about being dressed nice (one couple was in shorts and flip-flops!). The moment wasn’t about being old or young. It wasn’t about a hand-me-down bouquet. It was about so much more!

Of course, the battle clearly isn’t over. The recent ruling really only means that the United States, as a nation, will recognize my relationship with legal protections. Locally, however, the battle’s not over as a stay was put into place only a couple days after the ban was struck down as unconstitutional. They stay will put things on pause until the matter is settled at the state level. The weddings that were performed before the stay happened are effectively in legal limbo – and why not? My marriage to someone of the same gender definitely poses a threat to different-gender marriages everywhere and also the very foundation of civilization.

It’s likely that when the appeal finally makes its way to court the result will be that Indiana will fully recognize hetero AND homo marriages. Maybe then, once the coast is truly clear and we can be sure this hard-earned equality won’t be taken back from us, we’ll have a ceremony of sorts (of the Hindu sort?) and a reception.

Until such time, the support the Beloved and I have received has been touching – to say the least. Shortly after going before the Magistrate the Beloved and I were in Minnesota visiting a friend who is super dear to me and his wife (who I had no idea would end up being so immensely dear to me!) and very unexpectedly received our very first wedding gift – a lovely framed thing from the Target Corporation which is, by far, one of the best things ever. Immediately upon returning from Minnesota we were due to meet my parents and siblings for a family vacation – during which more than one member of my tribe, including the Best, conspired behind our backs to provide us “official” wedding cake complete with two groom. And just this last weekend, my favorite Hindu “bahin,” Bhoomika, and her mother sent us wedding gifts, too – a “scroll” to hang on our wall and sweaters knitted by Bhoomi’s mother’s mother.

The Beloved and I are likely to still celebrate our “real” anniversary which is June 2nd and not our wedding anniversary which is June 26th – although we’ll celebrate that, too. (He thinks I just want a fancy dinner out twice! LOL) By the time we were married, we’d already invested over a decade of our current lives into June 2nd and that’s our real anniversary.

Since getting married, a number of people have asked if “married life” is different than before. I wanted to respond with something like, “Had we not been “married” for a decade already prior to getting married, the answer might be yes.” In truth, all newly-granted legal protections aside, hetero and homo marriages are the same. Obviously. So the real answer, at any rate, would quite simply be “no.” 🙂

P.S. The following post will be almost entirely pics taken of some of the things mentioned above.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Guru Tattva

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Today is the full moon. I think it officially waxed full sometime very late last night (according to my local time) or very early this morning, but today is called Guru Purnima and is a special day associated with the current full moon (purnima) wherein we offer special emphasis on the honor of our gurus and life teachers.

The Sahaj Marg recognizes Shri Parthsarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji) as our current Satguru, and abhyasis everywhere were blessed with Chariji’s darshan either in person or via live telecast through one of the Marg’s websites. The telecast was to include a multi-faceted service followed by a sitting with our gurudev. This was actually the first time I’ve been able to do this with Sahaj Marg, and while it was short-lived and required being awake into the very early morning here locally, it was definitely worth it. We’re unsure how many more of these might be possible because of Chariji’s advancing age and declining health. I hope many abhyasis were able to partake. This evening I’ll be doing my own guru puja quietly at home but I wanted to share a bit regarding guru bhakti – things I have gathered from a book I grabbed up while in Minnesota recently. The book’s title is, “Guru Bhakti Yoga” and its author is Swami Sivananda who authored over 300 volumes and I believe founded The Divine Life Society.

In this book, one reads that to be a guru one must be “…pure in thought, word, and deed, who has mastery over the senses, who has knowledge of the scriptures, who is truthful, serene and who has God-realization.” It’s also mentioned that the Guru is the root of dhyana, is the place of pilgrimage and that there is no difference between Guru and ishtadevata.

There are branches of guru bhakti also spelled out for us. These include the following:

1) Aaptam – strong faith in the Guru’s words and loving obedience of his commands.

2) Angam – please, personal service, etc… Protection of the body of the Guru, washing his clothes, bathing him, and so forth.

3) Daanam – surrender and dedication. This includes possessions and wealth.

4) Sadbhaava – taking the Guru as God and never as man. If one serves the Guru with the bhaava that the Guru is God, then that disciple is blessed with dhrishtam (jnana and bliss obtained by upadesha) and adhrishtam (bliss enjoyed after death).

One of the final chapters of the book amounts to what is essentially a vocab list called, “Guru Types.” I’ll share with you below some entries from the listed terms.

1) Guru – Preceptor, one who initiates into the mysteries of the Self.
2) Paramguru – The Guru’s guru, grand-guru.
3) Paratparaguru – Great-grand guru.
4) Parameshtiguru – Great-great-grand guru.
5) Kulaguru – The family’s guru.
6) Vidyaguru – A guru who teaches the scriptures.
7) Jnanaguru – A guru who teaches or transmits highest knowledge.
8) Sikshaguru – Trains and moulds the character of a disciple.
9) Dikshaguru – One who initiates into the order (Sanyasa, etc…)
10)Adiguru – Orginal guru.
11)Jagadguru – One whose teachings can be followed universally.
12)Advaitaguru – One who propagates the doctrine of Non-Duality.
13)Upaguru – Subsidiary or secondary guru.
14)Chidguru – Guru who is the embodiment of consciousness.
15)Maunaguru – Guru who remains speechless
16)Brahmansrotiyaguru – Guru of theoretical knowledge of Reality.

There are also numerous other terms included in the book, and maybe I’ll write about them some other time, as some are kind of amusing. For now, I’ll close with three prayers suggested by Swami Sivananda.

Happy Guru Purnima!

Aum Shri Gum Gurubhyo Namaha
Aum Shri Satguru Paramatmane Namaha
Aum Shri Gurave Namaha
Aum Shri Satchidananda Gurave Namaha
Aum Shri Gurusharanam Mama

Aum Sahanaavavatu
Sahabau Bhunaktu
Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai
Tejasvinaavadheetamastu
Ma Vidvishavahai

Aum Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshvaraha
Guru Sakshaat Parabrahman
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha

Aum Shri Mahganeshaya Namah
Aum Shanti