Never Hit a Woman

I grew up being told, “A man should never hit a woman.” This was mostly programmed into my young self by people on my mother’s side. They are a fine mix of German and Native American ancestry. And when you add in Catholicism and alcoholism, you have a fine mix indeed. Growing up, there were very few family gatherings with that side that didn’t involve someone getting pissed at someone else and some kind of knock-down-drag-out hurricane happening either in the house or the front yard. It was rarely between men or between women, but almost invariably between men and women – if that makes any sense. So, like, my mother and step-father or my grandmother and grandfather. Never (or very rarely) between, say, my uncles.

So, I always found it interesting that the people who beat on each other the most were the ones preaching the most about how evil it was to do just that. That’s how it goes, though. Right?

A few weeks ago I saw a video online about an incident that happened on a subway. Someone recorded the whole bit on his phone (he makes a stupid appearance in the video) and the video shows a pretty brazen young woman who seems to have lost control over her own tongue. I don’t know how much of what happened before the recording started, or how much continued beyond the recording, but the meat of it seems to amount to the aforementioned gal running her mouth rudely, confronting a number of people in the process but focusing primarily on one guy in particular, and then the climax is reached when she smacks him “upside” his head and he returns in like manner. Of course, when he does all hell breaks loose. The video is below for your viewing.

 

 

Before I continue allow me to make something VERY clear: Hitting anyone is never acceptable. This is true regardless of gender or race or … you name it.

With that in mind, I hesitate to say she had it coming to her – but didn’t she? I mean, as a Hindu this is a very clear and immediate depiction of how karma works. I’ll admit that it’s a pretty simplistic example, which in the past I’ve shied away from for fear that others would understand such simplicity as all-encompassing. But in this case, with these people on the subway, the energetic exchange seems fairly straight-forward.

Things often, in many contexts, build up to a boiling point and then pop. As I said, who knows what didn’t make it to into the video, but it’s clear that this woman was an instigator throughout. For the bulk of the video, you almost cant even tell exactly who she’s directing her ridiculousness toward and I feel that’s partly to do with him remaining so low-key about it all. While she showed her ass, he seems to at least try to stay controlled. Judging by his stature, he clearly could have done much more than simply pop her in the mouth / face.

Isn’t that what the Universe does to us sometimes? The human previously known as The Best has been whacked in the face a time or two by the Universe. It sucks a whole bag of bumpily dicks, but it’s a necessary wake up call sometimes. Right? And I think, if a person who’s been whopped by the Universe once or twice looks back with reason and maturity, they would humbly admit things like they had it coming, they were out of control, they needed the wake up call (or smack).

Violence is never okay. Plain and simple. But all universal wake up lashings aside, why does gender have to come into the equation at all? In my view, it’s not MORE wrong for a man to hit a woman than it would be for a woman to hit a man. Growing up in a family where 50% of my blood relatives engaged in violence almost regularly, I can say that both genders are equally – and I do mean equally – capable of creating pain. Naturally the same is to be said about receiving pain, as well. The man in question shouldn’t have done what he did, but what about her role in what she received? Does / should that actually have anything at all to do with gender?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

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The Fourth Stage

“God and the soul are no doubt one in principle. That which is Brahman ( God ) is also the soul. Brahman and jiva, the two are the same. Remove the greatness from God and the smallness from the soul, then the reality of both, which is movement and contemplation, will remain one and the same. Atma means movement ( ath ) and contemplation ( man ). Brahman means ( bruh ) expansion and ( man ) contemplation. This is their characteristic. Movement and expansion are the same thing with a difference of degree. Just as the Brahman has its own world, so too the soul has its own world. The difference is in omniscience and limited knowledge, in being great and small. Both of them create their own worlds and destroy them. Brahman also wakes and sleeps just as the soul does, and goes into the state of deep sleep as is evident from the names Vishwa, Taijasa, Prajna which are characteristics of jiva; and Virat, Antaryamin or Avyakrita and Hiranyagarbha which are characteristics of the Brahman.

“Brahman is free from opposite states, whereas jiva or individual soul lives in contradictory states. Misery is the result of the individual soul being a part and because it is desirous of happiness, it experiences misery. There is wholeness, perfection, and fullness in Brahman. He wants neither living ( life ) nor happiness. Therefore, there is no sorrow for Him.

“The Brahman has no idea even of His completeness and perfection. Whatever attributes are found in Him, they are only from the point of view of the jiva. The Brahman does not call Himself Satchitananda. He neither believes in karma nor does he call Himself perfect. It is the jiva only that thinks Him so, and keeps Him as its final goal. If the Brahman says that He is complete, then it means that He has the idea of part and whole and, when the knowledge or idea of the part creeps in, He ceases to remain complete or perfect.

“It has no feeling of bliss in it. It is perfect, complete, and It alone is Brahman.”

-taken from Truth Eternal, by Ram Chandra of Fategarh

A Parody of What’s Inside

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About two weeks ago I experienced a night that was a doozey. I work in the medical IT field and, as it’s the most constantly-evolving field I’ve ever known, there are always changes that put demands on our professionals. One such demand recently placed on me was the requirement to participate in our Windows Services monthly patching. Because of things like this in my life, it’s not uncommon at all that I end up missing satsangh with local abhyasis. I really hate that. The truly fortunate thing, for me, is that Sahaj Marg is a “householder” path and since I’m a very busy grhasta type guy it suits me increasingly well.

I missed another Sunday satsangh that morning because of last night’s patching (which was really this morning’s, 00:00 – 06:00) but lucky for me one of my local prefects emailed out to all the abhyasis the text which was shared and read to everyone after the morning meditation. I found the timing impeccable and the text much needed

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The Universe is You

It is like when you run a marathon, twenty-six miles. Well, for the practised marathon runner the eighteenth mile, nineteenth mile, they are pretty easy. Then he starts to feel fatigue. At the twenty-fifth mile, he’s almost falling. Then comes the second wind. From where does it come? It is coming from within himself. He is drawing upon resources hidden in himself of which he was never aware until he exerted himself to the point of extinction.

Therefore, spirituality says, “Die before you die, and you shall see what is the glory of death itself, what it opens out beyond into: the eternal life that is promised.” It only means doing what the runner is doing, you see: that you run until you are almost collapsing, and then you find the miraculous awakening of fresh powers inside yourself, from inside yourself, of which you could never have dreamt, because you never exerted yourself to that level before. Spirituality says, “That is the outer world; here, you do it inside.” Close your eyes, meditate, and the feeling comes that I’m diving deep into some sort of a bottomless hole, very dark. And then the tendency, sometimes the need, is to open one’s eyes to reassure oneself that one is still in this world of human beings. That is the danger.

It is like the runner stopping at the fifteenth mile to see, “Oh, do I have that hidden resource that Chari was talking about?” You can’t feel it. It’s gone, you see. It’s like, you know, the petrol tank. Sometimes we used to have – I don’t know whether you still have – an emergency small tank which you opened up when the main tank went dry. Some drivers were careless; they left it open all the time. So when it stopped, it stopped finally, because the reserve petrol tank was always open. The idea of a reserve tank is the capacity should be reserved for those emergent occasions when there is no gas station nearby. Then you open it and move to the nearest place. But if you are leaving it open all the time, you have lost the capacity to have control over it, which is what we are doing with our physical energies: draining them to the last possible drop of essence and then, when the need for a reserve comes, it just isn’t there.

So the sensible human way of living is not to drain your reserve capacities unnecessarily – in any field. One of the reasons for morality, for celibacy, is that: reserve your capacity for the ultimate spurt. Don’t waste it on your routine jogging and your swimming: yesterday I did nine, today I did ten, tomorrow fourteen. Then the reserve tank becomes meaningless; it hardly exists for us.

So, you see, when we go into meditation, we learn all these things: that I have to die in my meditation to be reborn in that meditation, and to come out yet the same Paul, the same Bill, the same whatever you are, you see. But with a very, very different outlook on life; with a very, very different inside that has now been opened, changed, cleaned up, refurbished in some mysterious way. Therefore, every time we sit in meditation and we go deep into it, we come out new – renewed, you can say. That is why meditation is refreshing. That is why meditation is never exhausting, you know; however deep you go into it you come out fresh. Pains are gone, aches are gone, more of the heart – which is a very great need. There is solace derived from ourselves, from within ourselves, by ourselves. So we see that, in a very real sense, we are becoming independent of the universe. We seek no solace outside, we get it from inside. Others take renewal from outside, we get it from inside. The others take renewed strength from outside, we get it from inside. Then we find the ultimate experience: that within me is the universe. Not this which I see outside, however vast it might be – ten million, ten billion light-years big, so what? It is only a parody of what is inside. This has no limit that can be measured in terms of light-years. You cannot measure this at all. It is truly infinite.

Being truly infinite, its resources are truly infinite, its potentials are truly infinite; therefore, spiritual law says, go within and you are going towards infinity; go outwards, there is only repetition of the same experience, nauseatingly repeated again and again. But you think you are enjoying a new thing every day. So spirituality says, beware of the external life. That is only a mirror image of your self, you see, like when you stand in a hall of mirrors, and you are there alone, yet you see a hundred of you surrounding you. Here, the Atman, the soul, sees itself reflected in so many other existences. Whether they are real or not, who can say? You think I am real to you, I think you are real to me, perhaps both of us don’t exist. It is in some dreamer’s mind, cosmic dreamer’s mind, you see. It’s frightening. It’s also fascinating.

Frightening, because it is almost impossible to imagine that I don’t exist. We are always afraid of death. That’s a very natural fear. But to be told that perhaps, my dear friend, you don’t exist – even now – would be awful, wouldn’t it? But when you plunge into yourself in meditation and if, by Master’s grace, by the solemnity of your experience, you are able to experience those spiritual states where you find first nothing, then you find yourself all alone, and then you find that the universe into which you are put all alone by yourself is really you…!

The universe is you. You are there as something experiencing yourself in a cosmic form. Then comes this, you know, really brilliant, fascinating experience that “I am the Universe.” Which means you are part of me, everybody is part of me, you are me in a sense, you see. Then comes the possibility of true love, true sympathy. Not because of some charitable instinct of doing good to others, but because in you is also my existence. In keeping you alive, I keep myself alive. In feeding you, I feed myself. In looking after your welfare lies my welfare. In a very real heartfelt sense – not out of a sense of charity, not out of even a sense of brotherhood, but out of a sense of an absolute need – like a car will not run if one of its tires is punctured. We are not being altruistic when we stop and patch up that tire. It will not move if the spark plugs are gone. It will not move if its fuel pipe is cut. So the functioning of the automobile depends on the functioning of every part that is put into it. No part is more important than the others, because all need to function before the car will move.

Similarly, if God is ever to be having peace of mind and contentment and happiness, He must ensure a universe that is content and happy and peaceful. And we, at our scale of existence, have also to ensure it. That is the true need for brotherhood in yoga. Not some artificial Christian sort of brotherhood, you know, where we slap each other on the back and say, “Oh, how wonderful this is! You are here and I am here and what more do we want?” That’s too artificial, too much of an imposition on ourselves. But when I see inside myself that I am the universe and you are all of course in the universe and therefore you are part of me – not just somebody I have to look after, but somebody whom I have to look after if I have to look after myself…

Can you have a bath without wetting your feet? “No, no, I hate my feet, you know, I’ll have a bath like this.” It’s not possible. The whole has to be wet, the whole has to be soaked, the whole has to be dried. In that wholeness, in the consciousness of that wholeness now arises my awakened being, and we see this vast unlimited glory that we are all one. Not in the sense that we are all together, therefore we are one; [but] wherever you may be, wherever I may be, we are still one.

… If I am the universe, whether I feel it or not, whether I perceive it or not – because yoga, meditation, the ultimate truth only enables me to see as I am, not as I am something to be in the future, you see – then by virtue of that fact we are already one organism.

(Excerpts from Heart to Heart, Vol. 1, pp. 99-105, talks by Shri. P. Rajagopalachari)

One Lovely Blog Nomination

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Thanks to another lovely blog for their One Lovely Blog nomination

Thank you, Buddhasutra, for your nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award. Please check out their awesome Blog for inspiration and uplifting posts. I am humbled by interest in Sthapati and accept the nomination by rules set out below.

 

One Lovely Blog Award

The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer and up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and also to help the new blogger to reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow bloggers who choose them. This award recognizes bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog logo to your post.
  • Share 7 facts or things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform the nominees by commenting on their blog.

 

Seven facts about myself

  • I am always putting more on my plate than I know what o do with.
  • I was born on 8/26/80, very early in the morning.
  • I love spending time in parks, surrounded by nature and being in rivers. And I love language.
  • I am a became a vegetarian, but have recently had thoughts that this might not be right for me.
  • My first name is Joshua, and I’m convinced it’s about the best first name a guy can have.
  • I have a birth mark in a discreet place and which I didn’t even know about until I was a teen.
  • I have a knack for remembering, in pristine clarity, the most random things but cannot seem to remember the same kind of material others easily retain.

 

My Awesome Nominations

This is a list of 14 blogs that have inspired me to like, understand, and comment (in no particular order). Thanks to all for their contribution to my journey. Please keep sharing!

Rathangapani

My Lord Ganesha

The Truth Warrior

Mahesh Patil

Jnana Nanda

Hindu Blog

Poems and People

Ganesha Lila

Jnana-Dipena

Manjarisharma’s Blog

Rajarshi14’s Blog

Maria Wirth

The Hindu Perspective

My Life | the Ups and Downs

 

Thank you and happy writing!!

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

Opposites Attract?

In Sahaj Marg, there is an idea that God is without attributes. In fact, this idea remains so important to those within the Marg that it’s understood that assigning too much emphasis on forms of the One or assigning attributes to the One is seen as a distraction to one’s spiritual and personal progress. Paired with this understanding is the knowledge that anything that can be said to be “good” can also be said to be “bad” and to deny this is to perpetuate imbalance which will certainly prevent liberation, let alone anything beyond.

Occasionally, I’ll bump into non-Marg literature expressing the same or similar ideas and recently this happened as I caught up on reading posts on the Hindu Blog, one post of which simply quoted Swami Vivekananda. Few would argue with much of what the swami has said, as he’s very widely respected and revered. For me, it’s a nice affirmation when the notions of my path parallel those of another. The quote is below and will close this post.

“Evil is everywhere; it is like chronic rheumatism. Drive it from the foot, it goes to the head; drive it from there, it goes somewhere else. It is a question of chasing it from place to place; that is all… to try to remedy evil is not the true way. Our philosophy teaches that evil and good are eternally conjoined, the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. If you have one, you must have the other; a wave in the ocean must be at the cost of a hollow elsewhere.

“Nay, all life is evil. No breath can be breathed without killing some one else; not a morsel of food can be eaten without depriving some one of it. This is the law; this is philosophy. Therefore the only thing we can do is to understand that all this work against evil is more subjective than objective. The work against evil is more educational than actual, however big we may talk. This, first of all, is the idea of work against evil; and it ought to make us calmer, it ought to take fanaticism out of our blood. The history of the world teaches us that wherever there have been fanatical reforms, the only result has been that they have defeated their own ends.

“All ideas of making the world perfectly happy may be good as motive powers for fanatics; but we must know that fanaticism brings forth as much evil as good.” –Swami Vivekananda

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

Nanak ki Jai

Someone who used to be a client of mine and who is now a friend of mine on Facebook recently posted a link to an article on India Times called, “10 Guru Nanak Lessons That Make Sense Even Today.” That article can be accessed here. It’s an easy and quick read, but I’ll share the ten lessons here below anyway.

 

1) Never Forget the Poor. I’m sure the good Guru had more than these ten lessons and I have no proof that this is “Lesson Number One.” But, I’m pleased that this lesson is Number One here and now. There’s a brief story about Nanak receiving some rupees from his dad when he was only 12 and was encouraged by his father to start a business. What Nanak did was to spend the entire amount on food and then gave that food away to the poor. His father’s questioning led him to state that what he had done is “true business.”

 

2) There is One God. The first sentence in the details of this lesson is, “Using religion to segregate people into categories is awful.” That pretty well speaks for itself. Before coming across this article today, I happened upon a Facebook post that surprised me. It was a post by a transgendered (M-to-F) devotee of Krishna. I would think that someone born into an exterior that didn’t match their interior would lend that person toward being more open, forgiving, compassionate, and accepting of those who are different even from herself. However, according to her post which I think might inspire a post here on Sthapati, none or very little of that seems to be true.

 

3) Women are Equal to Men. You wouldn’t think this would need to be said but in the Guru’s time this was practically revolutionary and in many places even today this is still something that is missed.

 

4) Running Away to a Forest Won’t Give You Enlightenment. Just about any time people reference going off to a forest to attain enlightenment I scratch my mental head. I know this tradition is ancient and often productive. But I feel like, at this point in human history, this is misunderstood or something. It feels similar to situations where Christians or Muslims take a verse from their holy scriptures too literally and then attempt to apply it too literally. Guru Nanak ( and my own gurus from within the Sahaj Marg) teach that it isn’t necessary to physically separate from the common and mundane life to achieve mystical union with The One or to attain moksha or even that which is beyond moksha. Whether you see common life as filled with pitfalls or temptations or distractions, there is no better place to transcend.

 

5) These Five Evils are Probably Ruining your Life. The list includes: Ego, Anger, Greed, Attachment, and Lust. I think these are pretty universally recognized among religions as at least the roots of evil. In my own view, I think any definition of “evil” should be investigated thoroughly because categorizing one thing or another as evil, has almost always meant the creation of misery and hatred. Still, the Guru is probably right. I think “Anger” is a composite emotion that necessarily requires inspection. Attachment, Greed, and Lust feel very closely related – and could even be considered different shades of the same color. And Ego is likely the one behind the wheel where these five are considered.

 

6) Find Your Own Guru. The photo that accompanies this lesson in the article is a man who, I think, holds the world record for the world’s largest or heaviest (or something) turban. I’ve seen him in videos and he is clearly a kind, compassionate, and devout Sikh. Where this lesson is concerned, the key to it that stands out for me is this: Your Own. There’s nothing the matter with having a Guide that you share with many (even millions) of other devotees. But these two words seem to imply something deeper: Why is your teacher your teacher? I would suggest that if you have adopted a guru, or been accepted by one, for reasons like satisfying the need for a feeling of community, or because of how “visible” this guru is to the masses of humanity, or because the guru seems to promise success in progression toward and attainment of liberation from the wheel of samsara, then your guru isn’t your own. It’s probably your ego’s guru.

 

7) Be Selfless. Apparently, “For Nanak, the concept of selfless service was a way of life.” I think this is tough for humans today. Too often, we’re concerned with how much we’ve been wronged or how much has been taken from us. It’s not about that. Or shouldn’t be.

 

8) Fight Superstition of Any Kind. I love this one. So many branches of Hinduism and Buddhism – and many other paths! – are infiltrated with superstitiousness that is too soon wrongly understood as legit. Many of our religious and spiritual rituals are of great value and worth, but they are also too often taken with understandings that don’t challenge the practitioner to see beyond the obvious.

 

9) Simplicity is Beautiful. This article states that for one to practice Sikhism there are only three “rules,” which are: Sharing with others, Making an honest living, Remembering God at all times. Sahaj Marg has a maxim that somewhat parallels this lesson on the beauty of simplicity. We’re advised to be simple, as Nature is simple.

 

10) Travel. Nanak was clear that pilgrimages weren’t mandatory but he still taught that much learning can be gained by experiences had in traveling. Guru Nanak was quite the trekker!

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti