Two Thousand Fifteen

This year I think I interacted with more young people than usual. Well, more people who are younger than me than usual. It makes you feel old, quite frankly.

I know I should recognize this as natural – and I do. It’s a simple fact that the longer I live, and the better the quality of life becomes around the planet, then the greater the number of people younger than me becomes. Our aging population is growing, too. I recognize that. But for me, right now, what is standing out more and more is that I’m moving into that “aging and aged” group and am able to see, as an almost distinct sub-population, all those who are younger.

Thinking of where I’m headed, naturally, makes me think of old / older people. Old people are as much of a trip as young people. One thing I generally find true of all old people is that they’ve seen a lot. Current grandparents and great-grandparents have seen a number of wars and depressions and recessions and …. so much. And yet they keep moving. Some, like my maternal grandmother, are very resilient and strong beyond measure. I’m baffled by their energy – the quantity AND quality of it. Nothing holds them back. They just keep moving forward plugging along. Others are less resilient but still keep on keeping on – although, perhaps because of scars they carry they might hobble instead of zipping around as my grandmother does.

I’m not sure which end of that spectrum I’ll land in. In so many ways I’m very much my grandmother’s grandson. There’s fire in our bones that can be hard to manage let alone put out. But I’m still quite aware of parts of me inside that seem to be more feeble than they ought to be already. It really makes me wonder. Regardless of which kind of “old person” you might encounter or relate to I’m sure, like me, you’ll learn this one thing from them: Gotta keep moving.

The older generations teach me that you do what you can, as best you can, when you’re supposed to do it. And then you keep moving. You could be fighting joblessness, cancer, emotional instability, or a paper cut. It’ll pass, you can be sure of it – but you must keep moving. And the real kicker in this is the realization that to keep moving is truly your only option. It’s practically not even a choice. Everything keeps building and you keep moving with the build. Do a little or do a lot. Do all of it well or fail miserably in the process. Those are just the details – and regardless of those fine points Life will move forward. Bank on it. This lesson stands out to me right now as 2015 comes to a close.

2014 was quite literally nearly the end of me, and yet here I am writing to you, dear reader and friend, as a full year later has already come and gone. Looking back on 2015 makes me happy. I mean, for starters I’m alive. So … that’s a plus. I managed to juggle work, school, home, and spiritual lives with relative success and without serving jail time. I’m also mostly healthy, mostly wealthy, mostly good looking, and mostly sane. Despite the tougher times that also came with 2015 these are all really good things to look back on for my year-in-review. I hope you can say the same for yourself.

This is to be the final post here on Sthapati Samanvayam for the year 2015. Between now and then let us keep moving into the new year, together.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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2015 in Review

 

Hi Readers,

Every year near the end of the year WordPress issues blog holders a report of various activity from the whole year prior. Mine came yesterday and I thought to share some of it with you. I could repost a link here that would show you the whole report, but I’ll just share parts of it instead…

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

This blog averaged about two posts per week and the most popular post was one titled, “Samadhi Samadhi.”

This blogs busiest week days were either Monday or Wednesday.

This blog’s top 5 posts were as follows: “Sahaj Marg: The Breakdown” (from August 2012), “Samadhi Samadhi” (from December 2014), “Hanuman Bahuk” (from December 2012), “Heartfulness” (from May 2015), and “Ganesha Loka” (from August 2013). This is at least the second year in a row that many of my most popular posts were from at least a year before – WordPress says my writing has “staying power.”

Readers found me most consistently through Facebook, the wester-hindu.org website, WordPress Reader, and a Shia Sufi blog.

People from 109 countries read Sthapati Samanvayam in 2015. The most readers came from India (just under 6,000), then the USA (just under 5,000) and the third largest readership came from France (just under 400). Australia, Canada, and Germany were the 4th, 5th, and 6th places, respectively.

There you have it – Sthapati Samanvayam’s 2015 in a snapshot. Thanks for being a part of it!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Sapphire Blues

Me and two of my nephews

Me and two of my nephews

 

 

I read an online article not long ago about an ancient skeleton that was found in Spain and tests determined that the individual was blue-eyed … quite possibly among the first humans ever to have blue eyes. Apparently sometime around 7,000 years ago there was some kind of burp in a human family’s development and the first humans ever to mature with blue eyes were born. I think that far back into human history something like this would have been really incredible.

The Hindu dharma, by then, was already quite old. People had already been around for ages and ages. We had religion. I can only imagine that genetic mutations like this one or the one that causes red hair were then seen as quite a bit more magical than they are now. I’m sure these first blue-eyed humans were either practically worshiped or were the targets of what we now call superstition and possibly were seen as bad omens. ( The photo at the beginning of this post is of myself and just two of my nephews. Note that our hair colors and eye colors differ quite a bit. Please believe me when I tell you that we’re possibly the best AND worst omens that might ever come into your life! LOL )

Humans tend to do that. We don’t seem to naturally celebrate diversity. If everyone has brown eyes, then the ONE person around who has blue eyes has got to be bad. Right? Same with gingers. And, in a more modern context, certainly the same with gays. Ego is a bitch.

I remember in Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth,” that there is mention of consciousness manifesting itself through flowers – and that this was probably one of the earliest manifestations of consciousness on our planet. I already love plants and Tolle’s description of the vibrant colors of flowers on showing up on our planet really touched me. Surely a similar process (from the Consciousness side of Life) happened when blue eyes first opened. And just like the colors and shapes of flowers, I think the appearance of blue eyes here served (serves?) a purpose. I might be able to speculate what that purpose was / is, but I’d rather not. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is not to get caught up in the blue of an eye’s iris or the red of some rose. These things are fantastic and wonderful and beautiful. But they aren’t “real” and too much attention directed toward these things is what leads the human mind to link the blue of someone’s eyes to the drought plaguing that region or to victory in battle or … something. This is superstition. This is unnecessary. And this causes the formation of heavy samskaras that we carry with us for a long time – lifetimes even!

The gurus and sages of my lineage (going back to Patanjali and before) knew this and, in an evolutionary twist of its own kind, presented a path for humans to walk that helps with these samskaras. Aspirants receive a kind of “jump start” through the aid of our prefects and (for me) almost immediately one’s connection to a much bigger network of human evolution becomes practically palpable. With continued practice, deeper and deeper experiences are had. (The experiences are not the goal – but could in some ways been seen as “proof” of progress or evolution.) In my experience, it didn’t take long at all to feel the “bonds” of that evolutionary network while in the presence of others meditating. And I can tell you from my own experience that in a very short period of time even in greater audiences – anywhere in public, really – you can sense that same interconnectedness. This is one of the best aspects of our path, for me. It’s almost along the lines of our Constant Remembrance. What starts as a rather solitary experience (the “jump start” mentioned) grows into something experience consistently when in the company of other abhyasis and then widens even more and can be felt with those who haven’t even heard of our path. It’s an incredible boon to one’s personal evolution and little-by-little aids one in transcending those sticky places so many humans get caught… like blue eyes.

Ours is a brilliant kind of system that doesn’t require you to have already mastered a certain number of levels of spiritual or evolutionary attainment. You don’t need to manifest siddhis or have spent hours / days / years in solitude meditating. Our method does require work on the abhyasi’s part, but that should be understood as a given on any path one takes. By comparison to many paths, the Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg path is efficient and … dare I say it … quick. It makes me look so forward to experiencing the next steps for humanity.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

For Humanity

Image taken from the Heartfulness website

Image taken from the Heartfulness website

 

Image taken from Heartfulness website

Image taken from Heartfulness website

 

Image taken from Heartfulness website

Image taken from Heartfulness website

 

Click Here: Meditate for Humanity

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

One Year

Rev Master interacting with the delegates at the Cottage.

Rev Master interacting with the delegates at the Cottage.

 

I realized a day or so ago that it’s now been a full year since the last master of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness path left his body.

I recall quite clearly that much of 2014 was miserable for me. For me, 2014 started in the December prior when I changed positions in my department at the time. Only a few months prior I had moved into my company’s Application Support department. By December I had moved to a slightly different position within that same department. I had just started to get my mind around the new work I faced in coming to that department and then had to switch gears almost entirely. A month later (January, 2015) I entered the on-call rotation … quite prematurely. It was at this time that my stress levels really started to increase to a level that became tough to manage.

Due to demands of school and work, I began to let my heartfulness practice slip. The year progressed and I did the best I could – eventually reaching out to my physician for help managing the stress that remained incredibly prevalent in my life. Around the end of summer, my husband and I began shopping for a house. By Thanksgiving holiday we found one, and bought it – and my birth mother died. In fact, the holiday and the major purchase and the death all occurred within a week’s span. Everyone in America knows that Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season and life is crazy busy from then through the new year holiday.

It was in December that the guru presiding over my spiritual lineage when I came to Sahaj Marg attained samadhi. It was under Chariji’s unique leadership that our path gained most of its current published literature and it was under his guidance that our path really began to be known outside of India’s borders. Each of our masters have been uniquely instrumental in the evolution of the path as well as the evolution of humanity – our newest Guide, Shri Kamlesh-ji is certainly no different.

There was, in very early December, a moment when I thought I might also leave my own body. This event actually came tragically close to being actualized. A person can only take so much, right? For reasons I won’t go into right now, I’m still here. but Chari-ji left his own body soon after I almost left mine.

Hindsight is almost always 20/20 and it’s often much easier to look back on an event and say, “Oh – I get it now.” But often at the time, so much is outside our scope of understanding or vision. It can be really tough in those times to remember which end is up. Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari is now with the masters who came before him and Kamlesh-ji guides us. It’s amazing how quickly a year passes. A whole year.

I miss Chari-ji at times. I’m immensely grateful for Kamlesh-ji’s guiding hand. And I’m glad to still be here and participating in the great evolution happening.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Drummers From the Stolen Book

While in high school, music was a big part of my life. I was in concert band, pep band, and marching band as well as concert choir and I sang at church. I almost certainly would have been even worse at math than I already am (and have always been) were it not for music. I remember once, my choir teacher Mr. Kennedy, telling the class that the most perfect instrument in all of the world is the human voice. It’s really true.

This time of year is the one time of the year when the majority of the music to cross my mind or lips is from sheet music. The rest of the year I’ll hear songs at the gym or on the radio or on the rare chance that I have my violin out to practice, I’ll sight read some lines then – but this time of year, every year, I read from a stolen book of hymns. I thieved the hymnal from the church that kicked me out for being gay. To be clear, I had already taken the book of songs home to practice my “Christian kirtan” before I was tossed out and simply didn’t return it after the ugliness that occurred when they learned I am gay. So, every Yule season (or, for me, a prolonged Diwali season) I pull the book from my home library and send up a form of musical prayer – usually when I find myself with some alone time in the evening before bed. The a cappella noise I make comes from a place so deep within my heart that going through a few Christmas hymns suffices as puja for that evening. (I still meditate, though, after singing.)

One song that always resonates with me is “Little Drummer Boy.” I’m sure the “pa rum pum pum pums” annoy most people, but there’s so much more to that song and I hope to share some of my interpretation with you here in this post. I’m certain you haven’t thought of the song in this way before. So the sake of keeping this as short as possible, I’ll go through the verses while omitting “pa rum pum pum pum.” Keep that in mind as you continue reading.

“Come they told me” … “A new born king to see” … “Our finest gifts we bring” … “To lay before the king” … “So to honor him – When we come” – This is religion. Pure and simple. “They” told me to come see something they already had knowledge of – the new born king. This is the essence of all religious function: To pass along a higher experience so that others can have the same experience. The mention of bringing the finest gifts to offer to the king reminds me of dressing nice on Sundays to go to church. It’s so sad that today we seem to have lost the realization that WE are the offering and gift. When you dress nice on Sunday to go to church or temple or wherever, it’s not because God will be offended that you would have worn jeans or shorts and it’s not really so that you can impress others in your religious community. You’re dressing up the best offering that could possibly be made to whatever your idea of The One is – yourself. There is no better or purer offering.

“Little baby” … “I am a poor boy, too” … “I have no gift to bring” … “That’s fit to give our king” … “Shall I play for you” – This is precisely what I mentioned when I opened this post. There should be the understanding deep within that I could wear the finest clothes to temple or put the biggest check in the hundi (or offering plate, what have you) and none of that is actually a gift to god. None of it. Those things only matter to the humans seeing the clothing or counting the zeros on the check. None of that helps god. None of that pleases god. None of that matters to god. And please know that none of it is expected by god. None of it. None of it. None of it. God sees right through those suits and dresses or kurtas and saris – directly into the core of your being, into your heart. Instead, we should “play” for god – we should give the music of the soul – ourselves. This is why I sing the songs that sit deepest inside my heart.

“Mary nodded” … “The ox and lamb kept time” … “I played my drum for him” … “I played my best for him” – When you offer the song of your heart, instead of your fancy suit, all of nature will not only listen but will sing with you. Mary, often called the Mother of God, nodded – you have divinity’s audience! The ox and lamb kept time – all parts of the world of phenomenon will assist you and join in. The rest is simply a matter of giving your best and most sincere. Some of us might play drums. Some others might play the flute. Irrelevant. You oughtn’t worry about someone else’s offering or how they offer. Give what is yours to give and give it all – play what is natural and flows naturally from your heart.

“Then he smiled at me” … “Me and my drum” … “Come they told me” … “A new born king to see” – The smile mentioned here is not god favoring you or even just blessing you. The smile is the light found within yourself when you realize that the “offerer,” the act of offering, the offering itself, the process of the offering being received, and the receiver are not distinct at all. You and your offering are the path meant for you and nothing is sweeter or more beautiful.

Below is a video of a version of the song this post has been about. Listen to it, and contemplate your own offering and what that means to you. If you feel inclined, leave a comment or contact me directly and share!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Gnosis-ery

I subscribe to a blog here at WordPress called Isma’ili Gnosis. I don’t read all of the posts that are published because I prefer to spend my already terribly limited time doing other things that are a little more applicable to my personal path.

Isma’ilism seems to be Sufism. And in many ways, on a number of levels, Sufism is closely related to my path with the Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness…. “path of the Heart” and all that. Honestly, I think it’s because of having spent a couple of years studying Islam intensely and now walking a path that carries its own “flavor” of Sufism that I can stomach Islam really almost more than I can Christianity.

There’s a post on the Isma’ili Gnosis site that I want to draw your attention to. It’s a post meant to explain the “strongest argument for the existence of God” and as you would expect it’s a long and kinda meaty post. You can find it here. I’m not sure I stand by every word of the post itself, but a lot of it is legit from where I sit. The second full paragraph was something that struck me. It reads,

“Two major reasons for the growing popularity of atheism and agnosticism among people today are that a) most people are not exposed to the classical concept of God within their own religious tradition and instead are made to believe in an anthropomorphic image of God and  b) the positive arguments for God’s existence are poorly understood and misrepresented by both atheists and people of faith.”

To be clear, I really don’t take issue with “the growing popularity of atheism and agnosticism.” It’s my firm belief that those paths are no less valid than any other and I also firmly believe that anyone walking either or both of those paths will absolutely and undoubtedly arrive at whatever my own final destination is. There can be no other option.

Beyond that, I agree with the two other points in the paragraph. As far as “a” is concerned, a huge problem of today – in all kinds of contexts – is that no one really knows what they’re talking about. We settle for snips-n-clips from lots of different places, half of which oughtn’t be trusted – and we assume those tidbits of info are the sole and whole truth. This, dear readers, is wholly dangerous. It’s because of this that, for example, Christians, are almost universally ignorant of the real depth of their own holy texts. (I’ll generalize here because in this case it’s pretty well safe to.) The texts that now make up what is known as the Christian Bible are quite varied in regard to original intent, original content, original language, etc… And much more than just those things, never mind additional factors like cultural norms of the time and other such things that really should be taken into consideration. Christians today – generally – have very little recognition that their own cherished path originally amounted to what we now would absolutely label as a Middle Eastern cult… which even today are problematic. And Christians aren’t alone in this systemic ignorance. All that to say … Point “a” is correct. Too many of us known too little about the things we cling to.

A side effect of this terrible ignorance is the mention of an anthropomorphic image of God. I’ve written here probably more than once about what a terrible idea it is to humanize God and how faulty any conception of God is that exhibits traits that too closely resemble human behavior. It. Is Dangerous. And it is dangerous whether you revere Christ or Krishna.

Point “b” from the paragraph quoted here is also important. On Facebook, I follow a variety of groups from all walks of life. There’s a “godless and irreligious” group whose posts I see. And really, even outside of Facebook posts this remains true – I’ve visited atheist websites and I own a number of atheistic books. Something I have noticed is that Atheists mostly only have stones to throw at the Abrahamic religions. Seriously, I’ve viewed A LOT of atheist material and I don’t think it’s too inaccurate to say that not more than 3% of all I’ve ever seen has been directed toward Dharmic religions. Almost always their “targets” are Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I think this is indicative in its own way but this also seems to be the other side of the coin of what’s mentioned in regard to positive arguments simply not being known by either side.

Anyway, read the post. Because I said. It’s for your own good.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti