Nasty Compassion

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I asked a question recently on Facebook. The purposes of doing that were more than one, although some individuals seemed to struggle with the idea that a question might not really be asking what it appears to be asking – and what I mean by that isn’t to say that the question wasn’t asking what it appeared to be asking, rather that to these folks what it appeared to be asking was ALL that it was asking. It’s invariably in these times I find myself somewhat disappointed by the lack of depth people seem to be applying. I mean, in many discussions applying depth of thought doesn’t require MUCH effort and if people aren’t doing even that then why would I reason that they are employing depth elsewise in more “labor-intensive” areas of their own existences? It’s like, if you wont do the easy stuff why would there be any hope or expectation that you’ll do more than the easy stuff? The overwhelming trend among humanity in this regard is indolence. In addition to that, it’s apparently very very easy for side trails to nearly entirely derail a conversation or thought process. But whatever.

So the question I asked on Facebook (which is probably not the best choice of environments) was, “Is there a time when you can say to someone, ‘You’re not good enough and it’s clear you have no desire to improve. You have to go’ and that still be an act of compassion?”

The first round of answer-comments was exactly what I expected and amounted to something like, “Depends on the circumstance.” These people indicated that it’s okay to say such a thing – in the right environment like, say, in athletics or business. There was even one person, with whom I’m practically always at odds, who said it would be acceptable to say such a thing even in the context of personal relationships, although it should perhaps be worded differently. (That last bit was something I found very interesting: Apparently you can totally tell someone to go to Hell, but if you say it nicely, then it’s somehow more okay, more acceptable,  more compassionate.)

The next round of answers definitely did more than scratch the surface. I think mostly because I commented, adding another layer to the question that involved recognition that people often identify with their own actions and are often identified by others according to their actions, and how poorly we tend to be able to truly love sinners while hating their sin. But in a way, even this second round of answers left me feeling like my real question was still being missed. The answers in this round of comments were noticeably, umm…. long-winded although a bit more intelligent. The answers received in this round of comments also left me scratching my head a little. The responses ranged widely. There were lengthy explanations about how it’s flat-out wrong to say something like that to someone because it could destroy their spirit, however you CAN essentially treat someone in the same manner if only you can justify it on your end. For instance, keeping your children from seeing their grandparents because of the environment they are associated with and which  you want to avoid exposing your child to – that’s fine, but you just can’t SAY it to the grandparents because destroying spirit through words is apparently more damaging than when it’s done through actions. On the other end of the answer spectrum was one that simply stated something like, “Love doesn’t need adverbs.” (This was in response to part of the dialogue pertaining to “tough love.”)

One chunk of the conversation could probably have summed it all up. In this chunk I’d explained the mental associations made when we call a person’s actions sins and what that often means for our perception of the person doing those actions. A friend commented asking if it would be less judgy to call the sinner the “doer of the sin.” When I said I thought no, his response was another question, “What about hate the action not the actor?” To this I replied, “How does saying the same thing differently actually change what’s meant?” Which brought from him, “How are different words the same thing?”

It was right then that I did a face-palm. A rose by any other name is still…. A ROSE! No? Many times different words mean exactly the same thing. You can sugar coat, or use entirely different vocabulary. Dress it up any way you prefer. You can apply it anywhere always, or you can be as inconsistent as you want with how you apply this – but the truth is non-changing. Chances (overwhelmingly) are that if you are in any way judging the actions, you’re also almost certainly judging the actor.

To illustrate this: Gay people are quite familiar with how “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is the biggest crock of shit ever. Church leaders and politicians everywhere attempt to employ this in some form or another and the only thing that ever has resulted is judgment and discrimination. The church of my youth (specifically my old youth pastor), upon learning I’m gay, even told me, “There’s no place in the church or anywhere else in the youth for someone like you…” And then literally 3 seconds later advised me that I’m “welcome to attend worship anytime.” They stopped seeing me as a person when they learned that I’m gay and saw me only as a gay person – that is, they refused to know or accept me apart from my actions.

So how does this fit into the discussion about compassion’s role in telling someone they are not good enough, that you’re aware they have no desire to improve, and that you have to disassociate? It’s tricky, for sure and relates directly back to the notion of “tough love” which was touched on briefly during the Facebook comment thread.

I think, based on the comments on Facebook, that most people don’t really understand what tough love means until they feel they have no choice but to employ it, and it’s likely that even then they resort to all manner of mental gymnastics in order to feel more comfortable with it inside their own head.

Tough love essentially says, “This has to stop and it’s your responsibility – not mine – to not only make sure it stops but also to face the resultant karma.” It’s not very different at all from “you made your bed, now you lay in it.” The verbiage you choose matters not in the least. The truth is unchanging. What is, cannot continue and you – as a person – are absolutely linked to the actions in question. And if you – as a person – are inseparably linked to the actions requiring change, then it’s probably fair to say that you as a person are facing similar change, too.

I think, in truth, there IS a difference between the so-called sinner and his sin but for practical purposes here in our physical existence, the two are too closely related to be able to separate. For most of us, our actions are a direct extension or manifestation of who we are inside – or who we want others to think we are inside. Some people abstain from profane language because they are not profane on the inside or because they want their exterior, as seen by others, to appear as such. A friend of mine has told me that he prefers to almost always wear shirts with collars because in his mind it presents an image of “professional” and hints at what his income level might be or what he wants it to be. I, myself, tend to prefer more casual clothing because I’m a casual person and I want to seem approachable to others. Some women might never wear clothing that rises above their knees because they are modest or at least want to appear modest. Just pick something – excepting the advanced souls among us, most of us do most of the things we do either as a manifestation of who we are or to create the appearance of that.

With that in mind, I really think it’s impossible (from a practical standpoint) to separate the sinner/sin, actor/action, doer/deed. But that doesn’t mean telling someone something to the effect of “You’re not good enough and you’re not trying to improve and you have to go” is without compassion – even if it’s tough to grasp something like that as a compassionate thing. In fact, if you’re at all okay with the idea of loving the sinner but hating their sin then you’re essentially okay with the same because of our actions being an extension or manifestation of what’s within.

You can’t logically say, “I love you, I just don’t love what you do” because the two are very very intimately related. This is why I’m wondering if it’s not somehow simpler, cleaner, less drama-filled, and even more compassionate just to say, “You’re not good enough. You gotta go.” The compassionate side of tough love is to be placing the one this is being said to into a condition of self-evolution – the inner must change to have that reflected outwardly.

Sure, it cuts to where it’s needed REALLY quickly and perhaps not gently. But isn’t that what we’d all really prefer anyway and who says compassion is supposed to be gentle? After all, the alternative seems to equate pulling a Band-Aid off – one hair at a time. And I’ve yet to meet anyone who prefers that method.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

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Irons. Fire.

This has been a week – and it’s only half over!

The start of this week meant our home has been on the market for sale for a full week. It was only yesterday though that we had our first showing. Who knows what, if anything, will come from that. Tomorrow is already scheduled for a second showing. Of course, we want to show it once, receive an offer, accept that offer, and then sell our home. Just like that and every bit that fast – and if good ole Saint Joseph knows what’s good for him, he’ll help us out a little. But that’s more than a little unrealistic. And yes, I did just threaten a saint. That’s how I roll.

Even before our home was on the market we found another to purchase. I think there can be value in in checking out a number of options before settling on the one you want, but I also think that when the right one comes to you, then you can know it and looking into others just wastes time. That’s what happened in our case with viewing homes. We’d done more than a little online shopping, and there were a number we thought we might consider – with one in the obvious lead for first place. One house we tried to schedule a showing for, but the sellers apparently needed more notice than we were able to provide so that wasn’t shown to us. We viewed the one that was in “first place” mostly to confirm that it was as wonderful in person as it looked online – and it was. The Beloved and I are handy in very selective ways, so we have to be careful about what we get ourselves into because it could easily be over our heads. We made an offer that night and after some pretty frustrating interactions with the seller, a little over 24hrs later a deal was reached. We’re now in the process of ironing out the details of the mortgage, getting an appraisal and an inspection scheduled, closing, etc… I believe we’re set to take possession of the new property “on or before” November 21st… So, Happy Thanksgiving to us, right?

Everyone says that our current home will sell super fast. I can tell you it won’t sell fast enough for us, but I’m hopeful. This has, however, brought some interesting ideas and options to the table that I don’t think we knew we might be able to consider. For example, if we sell our current home we’ll not have to be concerned with paying on two mortgages AND we’ll walk away from that responsibility with $$$$ in the bank. But we’re also entertaining the idea of keeping it and turning it into an investment property, which would change how it sits on our credit reports (in a good way), would mean a few extra dollars in the bank on a monthly basis, and then years down the road as we enter retirement age it’ll be paid off and if we sell it then it would be a huge chunk of change for the retirement process (like, well over 130K, before taxes). If we went that route, we’d hire a property management company to do all the “landlording” and finding renters, etc… We’re still sifting through those ideas. I can tell you it’s interesting being the first same-gendered couple to buy a home, jointly, with all the same components that any other hetero and legally married couple would have. My ex and I built a house together but this was something like 16 years ago and long before marriage equality in Indiana and it was a different experience than I’m having now.

In other non-housing related news, last night the Beloved and I went to see Fleetwood Mac in concert. We had floor seats, for which we paid handsomely. It was pretty fantastic. Christine is now back with the group which apparently is remarkable. She’s pretty old now, and in fact they are all getting up in years. And Christine sounds more like a man when she sings than I do. Mr.Fleetwood is absolutely guano loco. GUANO LOCO. Lindsey is a trip. Very “new agey” and I really wish he wouldn’t make some of the faces he makes while playing, but whatever. And, of course, Stevie. I have no words to express how I feel about her. Her upper lip seems a little big or heavy or something but she’s the white witch and I will always love her.

In other worldly news, this Saturday marks our fourth (I think?) annual Pumpkin Carving Party. Last year held the record attendance but this year is already looking to blow that record out of the water. It was almost too much last year, so it should be interesting to see how this year’s gathering works out with even more people present.

And, of course, tonight is the next and newest episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show – an episode I’m particularly looking forward to on account of a new character being introduced. A man with a 13-inch cock! Lordy! Makes me want to find a circus or freak show and join up PRONTO. And on that note I’ll end this post. Lots to be done today.

Happy Diwali!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

Himmel

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Himmel is the German word for Heaven and sometimes also Sky. A little over a week ago I think I might have tasted of this Sky.

The person previously known as “The Best” completed another year of existence and we celebrated by going out to dinner with my family. (Tonight will be another birthday dinner for him, with Wayne’s family – who couldnt be available for the first dinner because of some kind of sports playoff or other such nonsense.)

Those in attendance included myself, the birthday boy, my parents, one of my brothers and that brother’s wife. They drove in from out of town to get dinner with us and, per his choosing, we dined at an eatery called Bagger Dave’s. It’s a burger place and not terribly cheap. It is terribly delicious, though, and I enjoy their veggie burger and wide assortment of beers.

While we dined and drank we chatted about all manner of things: a little politics, some television, work related frustrations, family lunacy, etc…

It was quite heavenly for me, as it almost invariably is. It also brought to mind a conversation had while the Beloved and I vacationed in Minnesota to see a good friend and his wife. While we were in Minnesota, we ran all over the place visiting places to shop and temple sites. Usually while on vacation to somewhere I’ve never been before things are almost rigidly scheduled. Each day comes with a list of things to achieve in order that we could make the most of seeing things entirely new to us. We do our best to stick to our schedule, but when things don’t go as planned we improvise and reroute our intentions so as to continue making the best of it all.

One thing there wasn’t nearly enough of while in Minnesota was down time spent lounging and chatting with those dearest and nearest right then. Of course, I mean to say that we would have loved to spend more time just chillaxin’ with the friend and his wife than we did. We did, however, have one evening of chatting which will remain with me for at least as long as I retain my current physical form.

After running all over the place, the four of us went to a grocery and had a pizza made fresh for us, which was then brought back to their dwelling and consumed while we chatted and drank beverages. When I say, “we chatted” I really mean I conducted an interrogation.

I’m inquisitive by nature but when you grow up people just call it being nosy. I don’t care. I want to know things and I want to know people and I want to know how someone works and why they work that way. This leads to interrogations. Just accept it. Having spent the last decade and then some with the Beloved, I have a pretty good handle on what his answers to my questions might be. And the good friend, too, is someone I’m in contact with frequently and there are already many times when I’m able to predict his responses to things (he’s able to do the same with me, so we’re even). It was, however, my first time seeing, hearing, and hugging – indeed experiencing on any level – the friend’s wife, Prems. So she was my target. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure she was super willing to be my victim, but I don’t usually take things like that into consideration, so it’s little wonder why I went on with the questioning.

I wanted to know what Prems believes. I asked her many questions, the specifics of which now escape me, but they all pertained to her thoughts and beliefs in regard to God, the soul, afterlife, heaven/hell, karma, reincarnation….Y’know, that kinda stuff. I recall that there were many times when her answers required me to ask additional questions based off of those answers. It was mandatory and she obliged, and to be clear it wasn’t just a back-n-forth between Prems and me. Her husband and mine both engaged in the conversation too, and believe it or not there were times when I manipulated the conversation to specifically pull wisdom from my Beloved. (If I’d asked the same questions of my Beloved, just the two of us, he’d hardly be willing to humor me, but in a group setting he’s sometimes more willing, so I took advantage of the opportunity.)

I remember, as an answer to one of my questions about heaven or hell or the afterlife or something that she described something almost like “memory lane” but not quite. She mentioned the possibility of hanging out with our loved ones after we die. Just enjoying each other and enjoying seeing each other once again. Maybe this was what she said heaven might be like or some kind of stopping place before re-entering existence. I don’t recall exactly, I just recall her saying it. I also recall thinking to myself that I wasn’t sure if I could buy that entirely, but I was really relieved to know that she at least had thoughts about this subject and  that they equated peace for herself. It was pure, mostly god-free, beauty coming from Prems and I loved the fact that it was all her own. This all happened months ago, but I still smile – and often – because of it.

This is where the first part of this post comes back into focus. Sitting around chatting, laughing, disagreeing, commiserating, and eating with those dearest to us is heaven. Nothing is sweeter to me than seeing my family change and grow as I do. My parents, my siblings, my nephews, and my friends are all miracles to me – I’m not even kidding. Of all the murtis available to humanity, this is Ganesha’s realest form and the one I worship with the most sincerity. In the most mundane of ways these people (my family and friends like Prems and her husband)  in my life amuse and amaze me and this, increasingly, is where I find God’s presence to be the strongest, most concentrated, and truest.

Prems is right. Be sure of it.

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

Genie in a Bottle

Saint Joseph of Nazareth

Saint Joseph of Nazareth

 

 

So… As I’ve grown and changed over the duration of my life so far I’ve found myself less and less inclined toward being attached to ritual of any kind. My life still entertains a number of rituals, some mystical and some mundane but the over all less and less. Generally speaking, the increase of freedom I know in my life is directly proportionate to the decrease of ritual therein.

I have, however, in the past had a tendency to implementing ritual the most when it’s needed the most. And is that not what it’s for, after all? Ritual could be described or defined as an algorithm. It’s a set of steps in a set order that solves a problem. There are lots of different kinds of problems, so naturally there are many different ways to tackle these and solve them. To be clear, when I use the word “problem,” I don’t mean it strictly in its typical negative usage. I think there are lots of so-called “problems” that are good to have. Good problems.

I think, too, that it makes me rather typical that I care most about ritual when I perceive a greater need. I don’t feel bad about it, though. Using ritual just when you need to solve a problem or accomplish something isn’t any better or any worse that using a hammer when you need to drive nails or a screwdriver when screws need tightened. Ritual serves a purpose and nothing can be better than knowing and honoring that purpose.

Two years and one day ago I employed ritual like nobody’s business and achieved a goal I’m still unsure I’d have succeeded at otherwise – or at least, I perhaps wouldn’t have succeeded so terrifically. And I’m right back at it – and crossing religious lines to do it!

 

We’re selling our townhome and I’m told that the Catholic Saint Joseph is the man to make it happen. The maternal side of my gene pool is very Catholic so some of these things I’m a bit familiar with. Still, St. Joseph isn’t super familiar to me. In fact, it wasn’t until I decided to do some homework that I even realized that this Joseph was the step-dad of Christ Almighty. A dear Lutheran friend of mine insisted that I give Joseph a shot. Willingness wasn’t much of a stretch for me. Here’s what I understand about the ritual surrounding using St. Joseph helping to sell one’s home.

 

1) St. Joseph was THE family man and a prime example of what fatherhood should be.

2) St. Joseph is the saint of departing / departed souls, selling houses, and maybe a few other things.

3)  If you have a back yard, you bury him upside down, facing the property and exactly 3 feet from the structure.

4) If you have only a front yard (as with my property) then you bury him right side up, facing away from the property, exactly twelve inches into the ground.

5) If you have zero yard, then you can simply place him on a shelf or some other prominent place in the home.

6) The image of St. Joseph is supposed to be owned as a gift from a friend and not bought by the person selling their home.

7) There can be found a prayer or two that a person is supposed to say to invoke the blessings and intercession of the saint.

8) Once the sale is a success, it’s said that St. Joseph is due lots of glory and credit and so forth. Some literature on the matter even indicate that Joseph is supposed to be exhumed and brought with to the new home location.

 

I don’t know Joseph well at all. It took me a bit of reading before I even realized that THIS guy is the same as the one who was an adoptive parent to Jesus. I’m not planning to “be” Catholic or anything, although that would thrill my grandmother. I just want my house to sell, and sell quickly, and Saint Joseph is apparently just the hammer needed to drive that nail.

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

Ashvamedha

The videos included in this post are the two mentioned in comments from the post before this. They are somewhat lengthy talks (as far as YouTube videos go) by a Doctor from the Oxford Center for Hindu Studies.

I this first video, which is the longer of the two, the speaker details pretty well how vast the collection of Hindu scriptures is and goes into some detail about selective Hindus can be in identifying which scriptures they will or will not adhere to. I found this interesting because it’s one of the aspects of the practice of Hinduism that I think really sets it apart from the other major world religions.

With many of the other major world religions there can be found a prevalent habit of picking-n-choosing which holy literature is most valid or applicable to today’s living. In their context (the context of the Abrahamic religions, for example), however, believers are quite literally talking from both sides of their mouth. They’ve already attributed ultimate sanctity and supreme authority to their holy texts and maintain that claim all the while they select which parts of the same text support the current goal or focus. Naturally, this leads to contradiction and hypocrisy – which I have found to be inherent in Abrahamic religions, specifically. You end up with a religion saying one and ONLY one text is holy (Only the Bible, or only the Q’uran), and then in that same text find them pointing to words that say you should kill someone wearing clothing made from cotton-polyester blends or who eats shrimp (Leviticus) while ignoring other parts of the same textual body that says we should love people as much as we love our own self (New Testament).

In Hinduism, according to the video, Hindus have an historic tendency to abandon entire bodies of scripture when then become irrelevant or create situations like the one mentioned above with the Abrahamics. An example cited in the video is of Gandhi’s stance on widow remarriage. The Manu Smriti / Dharma Shastras are clear that widows are not allowed to remarry. But this was challenged in a big way. Another example was that of wives seeing their husbands as gods – despite poor behavior on the husband’s part, including things like adultery. The speaker was among a group of Hindus and asked the women present about if they do this or would be willing to, and laughter was the answer he received in addition to a lady who went so far as to say that scripture was evil. For Hindus, it seems, the relationship to scripture is sacred insofar as the scripture itself makes sense and serves the purpose of benefiting the greater good, otherwise the scripture risks losing its sacred status in a very real way.

This next video is one in which worship itself is discussed a bit more. The speaker still touches a bit on scripture and its value, but relates it the actual process of worship within Hinduism. He points out that there are different varieties of Sanskrit, some of which are so poorly understood that there are yet words in our Vedas the meaning of which is not likely to be known ever. I appreciated this video because he discusses what murti wrship really means and does so in an intelligent way. He provides answers to some common questions that probably most Hindus would agree on and speaks some about the differences of belief within Hinduism in regard to prana, pranaprathistha, whether the murti is actually god or just the carrier, whether we really are in the presence of god when a murti is worshipped or whether we might be just as effective worshipping the god-amsha within instead. And I also really liked how he was knowledgeable about the Vedas and other better-know Hindu scriptures in regard to how little they actually “support” murti worship.

These videos are definitely informative and an overall good resources that may well answer a few questions for the wondering mind. If you have a free hour, or so, I would encourage you to watch these. If they don’t change your mind on one thing or another, then they may well at least help you understand the larger Hindu picture. It’s probably not entirely what you think.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Seeking Converts: Apply Within

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As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I practice a form of Raja Yoga that has been systematized for the modern grhasta into what is now called Sahaj Marg. My first six months with it kind of led me to put it aside, actually, and view it as a valid-but-not-for-me path. About a year after that (I think), there was a change of heart and after assessing a few things in my life, the Marg felt like a better fit than it previously had. Since that time, I’ve practiced as faithfully and diligently as I have been able while living the householder life (S.M. is actually quite suitable for those living as householders) and I attend satsangh as often as I am able. From time to time, in waves it seems, I’ll write here about concepts or beliefs pertaining to this path. On that note, and leading into the rest of this post, I want to make very clear that Sthapati is not a “Sahaj Marg blog” and never will be. It’s a Joshua/Dhrishti blog and will be.

Still, web searches on the matter will turn up this blog and a number of other online resources for Sahaj Marg, both official and unofficial, legit and bogus. I wonder if it’s because of this that an issue of Sahaj Sandesh was written as it was. The Sahaj Sandesh is an email newletter of sorts that kind of is usually pretty specific – it might mention points of interest regarding upcoming events, or provide a status update on the health of our guru. Those kinds of things. Recently, the Sahaj Sandesh came as a warning, and considering the amount of writing I’ve done about Sahaj Marg here on Sthapati it hits rather close to home. Immediately below, I’ll post the October 5th Sahaj Sandesh and maybe you’ll understand why.
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“Dear sisters and brothers,

“We see ever-increasing instances of people spreading ‘news’ from Manapakkam through social media like Facebook and messaging platforms like SMS, Whatsapp, etc, which is factually incorrect and even misleading. While the intentions of the concerned abhyasis may not be bad or harmful, this leads to widespread dissemination of wrong and at times undesirable information. Please note that any ‘news’ or information for abhyasis will only be done through the official Mission channels like Sahaj Sandesh, or through functionaries of the Mission.

“Abhyasis are also reminded that whenever they use these platforms for sharing unsolicited audio, video or photographic material, they are violating the Mission’s copyright laws and are advised to refrain from doing so. Please be assured that for the willing heart, there is sufficient material to read, hear, view and digest already available in the Mission without having to resort to such content for spiritual motivation.

“With sincere prayers,
Kamlesh D. Patel”

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This kind of rubs me in two ways. The first, and probably the most obvious, is that it looks a lot like abhyasis like myself are advised against doing what I have done (and am doing right now). “Don’t share our information” is what this issue of the Sahaj Sandesh boils down to. I’ve never shared anything that is “factually incorrect” and have cited the source for every Sahaj Marg quote or video or anything that I’ve shared here. So, in my case if something I shared was “factually incorrect,” then it was incorrect when I received it from the works of the Sahaj Marg Masters. And since I’ve not really done any slandering, per se, of this material, I would also find it difficult to believe that anything shared here on Sthapati would be “undesirable” as indicated in the Sandesh. Maybe I’m too focused on myself and Sthapati in this context with the egoic part of my mind wrongly thinking this is somehow referring to me (like I’m THAT important), and maybe there are other things, of which I’m not currently aware, that this Sandesh is actually referring to. At this point, with my very limited knowledge, I’m going to remind myself that nothing I’ve shared here, to the very best of my ability, has been “factually incorrect” or paints the Marg in any “undesirable” light. So for Sthapati, things will likely remain business as usual.

The second way this rubs me is more positive. All copyright threats aside, I find it really reassuring that there was emphatic mention that those who seek will find. You don’t have to go shoving anything in anyone’s face because if they want it and if it’s meant for them to see, then it will find its way to their face anyway. Personally, I don’t feel like Sthapati has shoved anything in anyone’s face in any remotely unsolicited manner. As with anyone who finds official and legit Sahaj Marg websites, Sthapati and its “Sahaj Marg” posts will only turn up if someone 1) goes looking for them or 2) is a subscriber to Sthapati which carries the implication that the subscriber already has interest in whatever content might appear on the blog.

Still, one of the most appealing aspects of my experience with Hinduism is that it doesn’t seek converts. Certain Hindu paths are definitely more prone to “advertising” than are others, but I think I would say that even most of those paths still allow space for potential converts or devotees to say no and leave. With that in mind, this Sandesh reminds me of a response I once received from a past temple president here locally when the Indian mother of my “bahin” in Atlanta called to my temple here in Indiana and asked about a conversion puja (or something, idk exactly how she worded it). The response she received from the then president was along the lines of “absolutely not.” He stated that the temple had no interest in doing anything that even remotely looked like it was seeking converts. Of course, her own local temple was more than happy to perform an equivalent puja for me, if only I made the trip.

So there you have it. Honestly, I’m not sure what this means for future posts on Sthapati. I will continue to share insight gained as I walk my path, and with credit being given where it is due, I’m likely to cite any current or past Sahaj Marg Masters – that’s the point of Sthapati, which is spelled out on the “Samyag Akhyate” page. Although, out of respect for Brother (and next guru) Kamlesh’s request, perhaps I’ll be less direct with this kind of material? I don’t know. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Easy, Sleazy Slut

Often my department is the loudest block of cubicles on our floor. We’re a mixed group and sometimes get quite chatty. But today, another section was actually a bit louder as they were making lunch plans.

A remote employee was in the office and those who work with him on a regular basis were trying to organize a group lunch out. There’s another man in the group who is vegetarian. I happen to know this man and he’s not pushy about anything but sales. I know for a fact that he wouldn’t make an ordeal out of wanting not to eat meat, but would instead probably just order from the menu what he was comfortable with.

As I’m overhearing the conversation surrounding the lunch location, I hear a lady pipe up and reference this dude with, “Well he’s the picky eater!” as though it was a hassle for someone to be selective in their food choices.

I think this is another instance where, like the military general mentioned in a prior post, people aren’t aware of what they’re actually saying it when they say it. Like saying, “I could care less!” when you actually mean that you COULDN’T care less. In that instance, you’re literally and mistakenly saying the exact opposite of what you mean. As with the general, this lunchtime lady wasn’t aware of a difference existing between being picky and responsible.

Another interesting thing I noticed is that we’re expected to be a bit “picky” with things like our clothing, our cars, our education, our housing, and our sexual partners – to name only a few – and if someone slacks in those areas people usually have something to say, implying that pickiness is good. We’re supposed to have standards, after all. Anyone who isn’t picky to some degree about their clothing is labeled a slob. And anyone who isn’t picky about their sexual partners is labeled an easy, sleazy slut. Even fitness buffs who refuse to eat junk food in any form aren’t called picky – People might say instead things like, “Oh he doesn’t eat the good stuff!” or “He only eats healthy!” but whatever they might say, it’s not actually critical.

Of course, when it comes to food the aforementioned value of standards goes out the window. Anyone “picky” with what they eat or won’t eat where meat is concerned is somehow a pain in the ass. I think people are a pain in the ass when they order $30 of food in the drive thru, or when they ordered their Starbuck’s at 130 degrees and it’s only 125 degrees when they get it and complain, like they can tell a 5 degree difference. I can even see vegetarians being a pain in the ass if they insist on making a religious or political campaign at every meal and can’t be around others eating meat without contorting their faces in displeasure (judgment). But simply abstaining from foods not possible without a self-aware life form dying a fear-filled and sad death is not being a pain in the ass.

It’s being kind.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti