Hurry Up and Wait

My life is a relatively busy one. I use the word relative because I know of people whose lives are far busier than mine – either because they want that busy-ness or because they need to be doing everything they do just to live. Usually, the busy I deal with is a mix – stuff related to school or work, or both, and things I want to do. I’m fortunate enough that, for the most part, regardless of what’s on my To-Do list, I have a lot of say in what I choose to do. That’s an excellent thing to have in life, but one I forget about too often.

I’ve written here before that 2014 was THE year from hell. In discussions of various types with various people I’ve revealed just how dark 2014 was and the reasons for why it isn’t allowed to repeat itself are just as dark. But a part of why 2014 was so miserable is that I felt like I had too much on my plate that had to be dealt with. School felt very demanding. Work was, indeed, the most demanding I’ve ever known and very stressful. My birth mother’s body died (BTW, today is the 55th anniversary of when that human body was birthed). I bought a house and all the wonder that comes with that kind of thing. Then also other usual stuff almost everyone else faces like trying to see family and friends as much as is wanted or needed, trying not to be a burden on others’ lives, stress from the holiday season, … y’know, the usual.

Throughout all of that, I’m sad to report, my meditation practice waned a bit. To be clear: I never stopped meditating. Sahaj Marg is an important force in my life. But I don’t recall having any sittings in 2014. I rarely went to satsanghs either. I read a lot of our masters’ books (mostly Chariji’s, since he has been the most prolific writer out of the last 3 masters) and I did keep up with my practice at home. But I still felt out of touch. When the rest of your world seems to be spinning out of control, a meditation practice that is meant for “human integration” can be vital.

We’re now wrapping up the sixth month of 2015, and it’s been entirely different. I’ll spare you all the details of exactly how life is different, but it is. It’s different enough that I’m nowhere near the dark place I was this time a year ago.

But still, there are days when I feel overwhelmed by the householder (grhasta) dharma. It’s Sunday morning as I’m writing this and I’ve slept in later than usual, although I didn’t have a late Saturday night. I’ve been physically awake for an hour right now and all I’ve done is hit the bathroom, open all the blinds in my house to let in gorgeous sunlight (something rare lately in Indiana with all our rain!), let the dogs out, made some coffee for myself, and nest here in front of the laptop in my loft to write these words in English.

In the back of my head (and in the front of it) know the various “wants” and “needs” I should address today include: meditation / puja, mowing my yards (before more rain and house guests arrive!) and trimming, laundry, school work, yoga / jogging, going to my in-laws to pick up things needed for later this week, some minor gardening, and probably sixty other things that will creep in as the day passes.

The list of things to do isn’t very big right? Seems like it should be easily managed through the course of the day. But even a list like the one above hits me and is somewhat debilitating. I find myself mentally listing what should be accomplished today and with each new item thought of I’m a little more paralyzed. There’s a need within myself to ferret out the most productive way to do everything. The idea of inefficiency is stressful. Entire days have gone “wasted” because my To-Do list felt too immense to productively manage – so I did nothing! NOTHING. Well, not absolutely nothing: I’d find the effort within me somewhere to feed myself a few times, to maybe put some porn in front of my eyeballs, and to maybe also do a small amount of laundry (probably only because I could nap or otherwise be unproductive while the loads were going through their cycles). By virtually every standard, the day would go wasted – all because I started off wanting not to waste the day.

Another friend or two has expressed feeling similarly. It’s madness. Dysfunctional, right? Why are people immobilized by thoughts of doing things? I’m guessing the cause of this debilitation is multi-layered. Components include things like depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, inability to properly prioritize… those kinds of things seem like good culprits.

In a strong effort to make sure 2014 doesn’t repeat itself, I’ve really tried to approach a lot of life differently for 2015. A month or two ago, the local abhyasi community was studying the concept of cheerful acceptance. I missed some of the group study where this was covered, but I’ve done my best to read up about it on my own. That concept, as well as a few others in Sahaj Marg (many having to do with our 10 Maxims – I am about to start writing a series on each Maxim, actually), are part of the difference 2015 holds.

I still have a horrifying, terrible, paralyzing To-Do list for today. And as of the typing of these words, I still don’t know how any of those things will be accomplished or even how today will go. But I’m able to recognize and accept that regardless of how many things are on the list for today – or the nature of those things (how big they seem) – the day will be far bigger than the list as a whole.

I might get all of the list completed. I might complete less than half of it. That doesn’t really matter. What currently seems to matter more is feeling life in my days. People talk about “living life to the fullest,” but I’ve found that people who use that phrase often don’t seem to know what it means. It rarely means you have to go sky diving or eating fried scorpions in a Chinese street market – although those things can qualify. You could be repotting a philodendron in your back yard and live life to the fullest while you do that.

Half way through 2015 I’m able to say that the aforementioned paralysis isn’t as total as it has been in the past. Coming up to the loft this morning with my coffee in-hand and the To-Do list swirling around in the space between my ears I still felt a moment of anxiety: SHIT there’s so much to do. But it passed almost entirely, and quickly, too.

As I wrap up this post, that debilitating fear continues to leave me. I’m thankful that my personal evolution, my integration (my heartfulness practice), has afforded me a greater capacity to live more fully now instead of the way I lived before. The likely result is that I’m about to go live the shit outta mowing my yard. Then I’m going to live the shit outta doing some laundry while I finish up some gardening (living the shit outta that, too). With any luck, I’ll finish those tasks before yoga starts in the early afternoon. And if not, then I’ll live the shit outta life while doing some other things.

Have a good Sunday, reader, wherever you are. And whatever you’re doing in life today, do the shit out of it.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Advertisements

Loving Lonely

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Life can be tough sometimes – and for lots of reasons. Something I personally struggle with is affording importance to people in my life when that isn’t reciprocated by those same individuals. Luckily, this is something that smacks me in the face only occasionally.

Most of us need friends or loved ones or spouses. Some of us – I suspect a great many – need friends AND loved ones AND spouses. I think, for those whose current lives don’t include people who could be labeled as friends, loved ones, or spouses, there are likely others in life who at least point in the same direction: People such as amicable coworkers, cashiers at stores frequented, or just familiar faces at the gym.

I think it’s probably always been true of people in general, but definitely seems like a symptom of modern times that our problems present themselves as their own solution – a false solution we quickly and mistakenly believe – only to later realize that the solution presented by our problem really just perpetuates the problem itself. This kind of mental math should fall within the realm of common sense, but too often it does not.

An example of this is smoking: Someone starts smoking perhaps to be social. Then, after becoming addicted, realizes what a hindrance smoking actually is to being social – sometimes even around other smokers. (Smokers are statistically less social than nonsmokers… a trend that only increases the longer a person is a smoker.) Smoking is also expensive and additionally is the root cause of many health issues (literally can be the cause of everything from lung cancer to a dick that won’t work when you want it to). All of these things (financial strain, health deterioration, and the social component) are stressful to the individual. So the individual smokes to (falsely) feel relief from the stress. (This is particularly foolish because smoking only creates a physical / chemical sensation that mimics a feeling of relaxation – the body’s physical response to smoking is actually not congruent to the true experience of relaxation or destressing. And obviously, the issues that made the smoker feel stressed are completely untouched by the fact that smoking has occurred. To be clear: smoking will not pay your bills with money you still don’t have after finishing a cigarette. The stress and stressor actually remain.) So smoking is the foundational cause of the same stress from which it promises relief.

Many of us do the same thing, on a bigger, less precise scale, in life with our human relationships. In our heads, we place so much importance and emphasis on stuff like our job or the presentation we have to put together, on our volunteer programs, on our gym memberships or personal training schedules. Many of us fill our lives with these things that, in the end won’t matter much at all. Many of us do this because we’re lacking the human connections we’re truly needing. We think busying ourselves will take our mind off of it all. What’s worse is that we’ve talked ourselves (in many cases) into believing that if we do these things we’ll find opportunities for those connections: If I volunteer, then maybe while volunteering I’ll meet a nice person with whom I can connect. If I dedicate to my job, maybe I’ll be promoted and the increase in my income will make me more of a catch. If I spend 100 hrs a week with my personal trainer, then the results will mean that others will want to be my friend or maybe more.

The truth is that all of these things can bring those results – not unlike the way smoking can mean increased sociability at first. But there’s a tipping point (probably different for everyone, and probably encountered sooner than anyone realizes is the case) whereupon these things become a true hindrance to the benefits or blessings we think they’re designed to bring. To try to roll them all into one: A person who’s so busy with work or volunteering won’t be free enough to allow what they actually want to take place.

Thus we have the saying of someone being “married” to his work. In the same way we say you have to love yourself before you can love someone else, you have to be able to give that which you hope to receive – this is a part of the essential foundation of the concept of karma. If you want a husband, you have to be able to be a husband. You can’t be a husband if you’re too busy with life to actually exercise that ability. The same obviously applies to anyone hoping to have close friends, etc…

So, personally, I’ve refused to ever be married to work or to pass up on connecting with others for the sake of being involved with a task or a project or a goal. There are times when you truly have to handle business, but people, not power point presentations, are important. It’s the people in our lives that make us feel less lonely, less weird, less messed up – less singular. And that’s precisely what a lot of us seek, desperately.

The flip side of this is that there are those among us who are willingly available to these human connections and those with whom we’d connect aren’t. The result is that we’re prioritized in the same way work projects and volunteer opportunities are – only we will usually fall lower on the priority ladder than those things. For the person who can’t be “bothered” because of time spent on presentations and personal trainers, we’re the ones who aren’t bothered with. I suppose this is why we sometimes hear the advice never to make someone a priority for yourself when to them you’re only an option. It hurts a little, and sometimes it hurts more than a little.

Why are so many of us blindly not available to that which we would receive?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

“Here I Am”

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Around the beginning of June 2015 my local temple was fortunate enough to hold a very auspicious event. It began on the full moon and lasted for 5 days and was the inauguration and consecration of our “new” 10-million dollar construction. The work is not yet quite complete, but the timing was right and the work was complete enough that the event was held. If I ever find the time, then I do plan to publish something here detailing my experience, as I was one of the only people to be there each day all day- who wasn’t a full-time volunteer or a priest.

Different people joined me on different days and on one day, for a few hours, my sister and another girl, Danielle, who I’ve known since she was born came and visited with me. My sister arrived first and we had fun together. One thing I always enjoy when bringing “unfamiliar” people to the temple is “dotting” them. You wouldn’t think such a small gesture would weird people out but it sure does.

My sister and I at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

My sister and I at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

They arrive, then I might show them around just briefly – or not – before we find our way before God and the gods. We (I) quickly prostrate and pranam to the murtis and then I walk them up with me to place a small dot, either of vibhuti or kum kum or both, on their forehead in the area of the ajna chakra.

This is something most recognize as a Hindu thing. Here in America, if the word “Indian” comes up in conversation it’s not uncommon for the speaker or the listener to specify or request clarification (as if context isn’t enough) on what kind of Indian is being mentioned, usually by asking or stating, “Feather, not dot” or vice versa, depending on what the case may be. “Feather” indicates a Native American Indian person and “dot” indicates an Asian Indian. (YES – Indians are Asians!)

My sister was dotted and, as any young person would today, within minutes had snapped a selfie or two. She snap-chatted one such pic to her current boyfriend… I think a pic of just me with my “dot,” though. His response was that it appeared as though I have a “Here I am” dot on my forehead, like might be seen on a map or GPS. We both giggled at his remark.

My sister and I at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

My sister and I at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

Later, as I continued to think about that it struck me as a little profound. To be clear that wasn’t his intention. But still….

The ajna chakra is an important center within the body. Lots of people just call it the “third eye.” In Sahaj Marg, our focus is primarily the anahata (heart) chakra (maybe I can write a post about that some other time), but they are all connected. Many sources say the ajna chakra isn’t the highest center in the body and indicate that there is / are another center or two above it… sometimes you’ll find mention of even more than two centers being above the third eye. Other sources indicate that the ajna is the highest chakra in our system.

My sister and I at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

My sister and I at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

During my time at the temple that week my parents were able to come up for a few hours. While they were with me, a man came around with a tray holding two “bowls” with vibhuti in one and kum kum in the other. My parents were hesitant to engage, but he persisted and even offered a bit of explanation to them: He said that putting a dot in the area of the third eye will direct others’ attention to that area of your body and their gaze essentially sends energy (psychic energy?) to that chakra and helps to awaken it or something. So, depending on who you talk to or what you read you’ll hear different things about this center in the body.

To return to something from earlier, the comment made by my sister’s boyfriend, I think it’s a little bit great that it was referenced as a mapping system’s “Here I am” dot. This area of the human body is known to be a very important center for our current existence – surely, one of the reasons so many people come to view their body as a “temple.” This is a prominent “throne” in the temple of the body where God is known to sit / reside. In Hindu belief, the sound or resonance associated with this center is none other than Aum, which is synonymous with Ganesha who interestingly is formally associated with the lowest chakra in the human body – This relationship and association makes me smile because Ganesha is my ishtadevata and seeing what is essentially the same association “in the beginning” as we do at the end reinforces my bhakti. Anyone who meditates frequently enough will likely have a fancy experience involving this area of the body.

Me and Swamiji from the Shri Ramakrishna Mission at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

Me and Swamiji from the Shri Ramakrishna Mission at the 2015 Mahakumbhabhishekam for HTCI

At any rate, we are not really our bodies. Right? We’re the “stuff” that is nameless, formless, essence-less, and which is ultimately impossible to describe. If the ajna chakra is in anyway the (or at least “a”) seat of the soul, then surely my sister’s boyfriend wasn’t too far off in joking that our foreheads were indicating “here I am.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Too

Image taken from google Image search

Image taken from google Image search

Once in a while things that are common will strike me in a new, uncommon, way. Recently, this happened with the statement, “I love you, too.”

For as far back as I have memory, I’ve always noticed two things about telling someone you love them (or, rather, responding to being told that someone loves you). It seems that there are two ways in which this exchange occurs.

1) Someone says, “I love you” to you. You respond in turn with, “I love you.” Usually this response involves tonal emphasis on the final “you.” Like, “I love YOU.” (Although, obviously not in the obnoxious way the all-caps version can come across.)

2) Someone says, “I love you” to you. You respond in turn with, “I love you, too.” Like the response before, this response also usually carries emphasis on the final word – in this case, “too.”

I’ve heard both ways be used by many people and their loved ones. In my family, we tend to employ the second variation. “I love you, too.” I’ve always been fond of that one, probably because that’s what I grew up hearing and saying, but I think now I’m even fonder of it.

What’s the difference? Really and truly, there probably is no difference. But recently it seems to me that there really and truly is a difference and as you likely already could have guessed that difference hinges on the one difference between variation one and variation two: TOO.

I just used a phrase I first years only a couple years ago by a psychology professor. “Really and truly.” In class that day there was another student, a friend of mine I see not often, who had a pill bottle somewhat prominently displayed on his desk next to his book and phone and whatnot. I think the pills were some kind of anxiety medication, I don’t actually know. I also think that being able to see the pills within his reach somehow made him less likely to need them: He knew help was within hand’s reach so he was less likely to need that help. But she spotted them, and promptly told him to put the pill bottle away. He was either reluctant to do so, or was just moving slower than her patience was willing to tolerate, and so before he could (would?) put them away she verbally prodded him to do what she had asked. She said something like, “No… You need to put those away now please. (nodding her head at him) Really and truly.” I remember feeling glad not to be him and also getting caught on her usage of “really and truly.” It’s safe to say most Americans (and probably most English speakers in general) often don’t consider the difference between the word really and the word truly – unless, perhaps, one of these words randomly hits someone as being more applicable to the emphasis intended or desired. But I think it’s rare and I also think really usually wins out over truly so even when we mean truly we say really.

But the words aren’t the same, are they? Despite any linguistic parallels, they (should) have different meanings. Without actually referencing a dictionary, I’ll suggest that really is mostly synonymous with “very” and truly is synonymous with “actually.” With that difference understood, suddenly the professor’s words make more sense. The student actually (truly) and very much / to a great degree (really) shouldn’t be showing off his pills. Like: Not only don’t do that thing, but also understand that it’s important you don’t do that thing.

He put the pill bottle away.

So how does that story relate at all to the “I love you” stuff from earlier? Well, same difference. It’s about word choice and what you’re actually communicating.

When most people are told, “I love you” what they intend to communicate in return is that they love the person who is loving them. Despite my entire upbringing, what I feel is most appropriate to communicate that is simply, “I love you” in response to having heard it. Further, we employ this linguistic logic in other areas such as greetings. When someone says, “Hello” you respond with an equivalent, right? No one says, “Hello, too!” Instead, we simply say, “Hello” in return. Is something like, “How are you?” ever met with, “I’m well. How are you, too?”

No ma’am. And in reality, the response to “I love you” should probably be only, “I love you.” (See variation #1 above.) The difference I’m getting at, though, is why I’m glad my family and I say it “wrong.” You see, the word too means things like “additionally” and “also.” When you respond with, “I love you, too” you’re saying the equivalent of, “Also do I love you” from which the listener should infer, “This person, in addition to other people, loves me.”

I think it’s a sweet thing to subtly remind people that they are loved by more than the person with whom they are having the exchange and this awareness makes me glad for my family’s habit – even if it’s somewhat accidental. Beyond that sweetness this is an important thing to do.

Do you agree?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Ecclesiastes 1:9

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

The Bible (in the verse indicated in this post’s title) says that “was has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” These days, even people who aren’t familiar with the Bible will sometimes be heard saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” This, especially when paired with other parts of the Bible, could be supportive of dharmic notions like karma and reincarnation. Strangely, one thing Christians are usually pretty certain about is that their dharma is not only supreme among belief systems but also is supremely unique – surely in direct conflict with things indicated in their own holy text.

As Hinduism is pretty much the oldest living religion today, it’s probably not unfair to say that most other religious or spiritual paths possibly derive from Hinduism, and if they don’t directly derive from it they are almost certainly influenced by it. If you disagree with this idea, try to think of an example of anything – anything at all – that wasn’t in some way affected or influenced by what came before it – and the effect or influence seen is usually more pronounced, I think, when what came before is of similar nature. For instance, the way houses are built now is directly influenced by the way houses were built long ago.

However, I came across an article recently that does well at pointing to just a few elements of the Christian faith that are either certainly from Hinduism or are almost certainly from Hinduism. I’m sharing a link to the article here and I am including the full text below as well. An errors found below are my own and I apologize for these typos.

To be clear, the truth of this isn’t to say that other paths are less valid or are incomplete or are actually “Hindu” paths (regardless of what some opinions might be) or even to suggest that anyone owes Hinduism anything – except perhaps respect and recognition. Someone else being right doesn’t mean you are wrong anymore than having a parent means you’re less of an individual. And someone or something else having an influence on you doesn’t mean you are less valid or independent. 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha |Aum Shanti

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

You may find it surprising that much of Christianity originated from India. Indeed, over the centuries, numerous historians and sages have pointed out that not only has Hinduism had a predominant influence on Christianity, but that many of the Christian rites could be directly borrowed from Hindu ( Vedic ) India.

French historian Alain Danielou had noticed as early as 1950 that “a great number of events which surround the birth of Christ – as it is related in the Gospels – strangely reminded us of Buddha’s and Krishna’s legends.” Danielou quotes as examples the structure of the Christian Church, which resembles that of the Buddhist Chaitya; the rigorous asceticism of certain early Christian sects, which reminds one of the asceticism of Jain and Buddhist saints; the veneration of relics, the usage of holy water, which is an Indian practice, and the word “Amen,” which comes from the Hindu (Sanskrit) “OM.”

Another historian, Belgium’s Konraad Elst, also remarks “that many early Christian saints, such as Hippolytus of Rome, possessed an intimate knowledge of Brahmanism.” Elst even quotes the famous Saint Augustine who wrote: “We never cease to look toward India, where many things are proposed to our admiration.”

“Unfortunately”, remarks American Indianist David Frawley, “from the second century onward, Christian leaders decided to break away from the Hindu influence and show that Christianity only started with the birth of Christ.” Hence, many later saints began branding Brahmins as “heretics,” and Saint Gregory set a future trend by publicly destroying the “pagan” idols of the Hindus.

Great Indian sages, such as Sri Aurobindo and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, have often remarked that the stories recounting how Jesus came to India to be initiated are probably true. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar notes, for instance, that Jesus sometimes wore an orange robe, the Hindu symbol of renunciation of the world, which was not a usual practice in Judaism. “In the same way,” he continues, “the worshiping of Virgin Mary in Catholicism is probably borrowed from the Hindu cult of the Devi.” Bells too, which cannot be found in Synagogues, the surviving form of Judaism, are used in church – and we all know their importance in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years, even up to the present day.

There are many other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity, including the use of incense, sacred bread (prasadam), the different altars around churches (which recall the manifolddeities in their niches inside Hindu temples), reciting prayers on the rosary (Vedic japamala), the Christian Trinity (the ancient Vedic trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as the creator, maintainer and destroyer respectively, as well as Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord, the all-pervading Brahman as the holy ghost, and Paramatma as the expansion or son of the Lord), Christian processions, and the use of the sign of the cross (anganyasa), and so many others.

In fact, Hinduism’s pervading influence seems to go much earlier than Christianity. American mathematician, A. Seindenberg, has, for example, show that the Shulbasutras, the ancient Vedic science of mathematics, constitute the source of mathematics in the antique world of Babylon to Greece: “The arithmetic equations of the Shulbasutras were used in observance of the triangle by the Babylonians as well as in the edification of Egyptian pyramids, in particular, the funeral altar in the form of pyramid known in the Vedic world as smasana-cit.”

In astronomy too, the “Indus” (from the valley of the Indus) have left a universal legacy, determining for instance the dates of solstices, as noted by the 18th century French astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly: “The movement of stars which was calculated by Hindus 4,500 years ago, does not differ even by a minute from the tables which we are using today.” And he concludes: “The Hindu systems of astronomy are much more ancient than those of the Egyptians – even the Jews derive from the Hindus their knowledge.”

There is also no doubt that the Greeks heavily borrowed from the “Indus.” Danielou notes that the Greek cult of Dionysus, which later became Bacchus with the Romans, is a branch of Shaivism: “Greeks spoke of India as the sacred territory of Dionysus, and even historians of Alexander the Great identified the Indian Shiva with Dionysys and mention the dates and legends of the Puranas.” French philosopher and Le Monde journalist Jean-Paul Droit recently wrote in his book, The Forgetfulness of India, that “Greeks loved so much Indian philosophy that Demetrios Galianos had even translated the Bhagavad-gita.”

Many Western and Christian historians have tried to nullify this India influence on Christian and ancient Greece by saying that it is the West through the Aryan invasion, and later the onslaught of Alexander the Great of India, which influenced Indian astronomy, mathematics, architecture, philosophy – and not vice versa. But new archeological and linguistic discoveries have proved that there never was an Aryan invasion and that there is a continuity from the ancient Vedic civilization to the Saraswati culture.

The Vedas, for instance, which constitute the soul of present day Hinduism, have not been composed in 1500 B.C., as Max Muller arbitrarily decided, but may go back to 7000 years before Christ, giving Hinduism plenty of time to influence Christianity and older civilizations which preceded Christianity.

Thus, we should be aware of and point out the close links which exits between Christianity and Hinduism (ancient Vedic culture), which bind them into a sacred brotherhood. Conscientious Christian and Western scholars can realize how the world humanity’s basic culture is Vedic through proper research.

–Stephen Knapp

Wasted Punya

This past week I took time away from work for the purpose of going to my temple’s “Maha Kumbhabhishekam.” After talking with a friend, I’m wondering if there aren’t maybe a few different occasions for which this ritual is performed. To be clear, for the last many years my local temple ( Hindu Temple of Central Indiana ) has been in a mode of planning and organizing and fund raising for the construction of a “proper,” Indianized temple. When I first started walking the Hindu path, all our local community had was a community center that was basically one small room – although in a free-standing building. After some time we moved into another building on the opposite side of the city. I don’t recall whether the new building was built or whether it was purchased – I think it was built for us. But it was a beige box. It was more than one room, but not much more than that, although with more space for devotees. Then after more years the aforementioned planning and organizing and fund raising was started – all of which culminated in the big event which took place last week.

June second is the anniversary I share with my beloved. This year the date marked our eleventh year cycle of togetherness. The very next day was the beginning day of a five-day Maha Kumbhabhishekam held by our temple to inaugurate and consecrate the new construction and rehouse the gods (moving them from their old location in the beige box to their new homes in garbas within the new sanctum sanctorum.

As this is pretty much literally an once-in-a-lifetime event for Westerners (even for Indians, in many cases) I decided to take PTO so that I could attend each day. I awoke each morning quite early so that I could be there before most other people – and I was successful in that endeavor, most of the day I was beat to the temple by only the priests and a handful or two of volunteers. And there were some days when I even beat some of the priests. I stayed all day each day, no less than 8 or 10 hours except the last day. My longest day was 13.25 hours, and on each day I went home only after the rituals were done, missing only some dancing and singing (and other basic cultural performances) which was held at the end of each day except the last. I’ll be publishing a pretty massive post here as soon as I can get to it wherein I’ll explain what I saw and experienced on each day.

As I was living through these days I posted often to Facebook. In response to one of my posts, a Facebook friend who resides in India commented, advising me that even to attend such an event is said to benefit / bestow blessings that will endure for generations after. I don’t know how many generations, but the very first thought that came to my mind is that I have no uterus. Neither does my beloved. Adoption is increasingly unlikely for us, and the logistics of other means for creating or obtaining human children are also prohibitive.

This friend of mine specifically stated, “generations,” not subsequent births. So, I’m thinking that if I don’t benefit from this karmic merit in my current life and if I cannot somehow forward these benefits to my nephews, then perhaps when I leave my current existence this punya will simply dissipate into the ether? And if it does, will all beings everywhere be benefitted? My understanding, from a Sahaj Marg perspective, is that the here and now would be affected most directly. The atmospheric condition would certainly be altered and also the unique conditions of those present. In Sahaj Marg we place some emphasis on peeling away the layers we’ve built up over lifetimes and during this lifetime. Perhaps there’s something about attending these spiritual events that helps in that effort? (To be clear, while my understanding of Sahaj Marg is that these kind of ritualistic things aren’t to be clung to, they aren’t necessarily or expressly prohibited – just that they can be a trap for us, like most parts of religion.)

What if it’s all just jibber-jabber?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

An-Nuur

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Today is one of those days at work…. There’s practically nothing for me to do – at least not until the developers on my team package some stuff up and deploy it. Then it’ll be the usual game of “hurry up and wait.” Until then, surely the most productive use of my time is to reread details of this week’s mahakumbhabhishekam at my temple, to add details to the plans for my July vacation, and to blog here.

It’d been a little while since I last logged in here, and as with any other instance of logging into WordPress for the first time in a while, the first thing I accomplished was catching up on my “newsfeed” of blogs I follow that had published posts since I last logged in. One of them smacked me in the face as soon as I saw it. It can be viewed here if you feel inclined.

It is a Rumi quote. Typical of the Rumi I’ve read, it is short, sweet, and yet very profound. It also, in a very gentle way, asks, “Didn’t you know?” which is something I’ve seen a lot with Rumi, too.

Didn’t you know? This question is such a sweet way of saying, “Listen to the Truth I’m about to share with you.” It also, at least with Rumi, usually points to something each of us has likely forgotten – forgotten because of Maya and living within a phenomenal level of existence where so much seems too topsy-turvy from where we sit. So many shiny things distract us and make us “forget” things we’ve known forever – since the beginning of everything.

In the same quote, he next tells us that our light is the light that brightens the world. This melted my heart almost instantly – the place where I sense my own light, the heart chakra, is a place I go to when my ego and other head nonsense seem too relentless. The Sahaj Marg practice is the only yoga I’ve engaged in that has specifically helped the practitioners know and experience this light – the very One that lights the world.

Something else that came to mind when I read Rumi’s words is the “flameless flame” itself (my words, not part of Rumi’s quote here) which is producing that important and vital light. This is the flame within that Sahaj Marg teaches is so subtle that from a practical standpoint it can’t actually be perceived but should instead only be “supposed.” We start with the supposition of that Light, that Flame. It’s such a mild and peaceful, even gentle flame. Right? It’s constant and truly it never flickers. Neither is it ever disturbed or affected or extinguished by the goings on of the phenomenal life.

And yet, flames are quite active things. Fire and the light produced by it has always held much symbolism for the human mind and because this has been true since forever it’s something quite easy to move right on past and not give a second thought. But let’s secondly think.

As a human creature, whenever we’re seeing a flame it’s because of the magic of chemistry. Something combustible is undergoing real alchemy – it’s really and truly changing into something else and in that specific process heat and light are being generated.

From a standpoint that isn’t as deep as we could go, in order for our light to … well, light, we need spiritual combustion. In Sahaj Marg we often refer to this as integration or evolution. In other paths, you might hear of karmas being “burned away.” Same thing.

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

All of this requires a catalyst – something to spark that fire. This could be almost anything for the human being – and not necessarily something we currently recognize as spiritual or as having anything to do with God. After all, Atheists are no less capable of personal alchemy. It’s important to realize that the work isn’t finished once we see that the fire has started. It must be fed and nurtured and kept going – like a sacred dhuni in the heart of who you are.

That takes action. And the burning itself is action. And, in various ways, it can require effort to exhibit the light that has been generated by that Fire. I think in some cases one isn’t required to do much, if anything, to light the world. In most cases, probably, it’s something we have to make an effort toward – something we SHOULD make a conscious effort toward.

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Lastly, Rumi didn’t say that we’re responsible for lighting the whole world. Noticing that, it seems clear that we’re only responsible for lighting whatever is within natural reach of our light. For some, the range will be bigger than it will be for others. That doesn’t matter. What’s important is investing the effort needed to cultivate a healthy visibility of the light coming from the Fire within.

“It is your light that lights the world.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti