Two Thousand Sixteen

This year is finished – and by virtually everyone’s account, it’s been something else! Between celebrity deaths, the most unfortunate presidential election ever known to the USA, natural disasters, and so much more… I think most of us are ready to say good-bye to 2016, even if we’re apprehensive about what 2017 might bring.

At the close of 2015 I published a post (which can be accessed by clicking here) in which I discussed how we keep moving – regardless of whether we want to or whether we feel able to, or anything else. We keep moving. It’s our only choice. And that lack of choice is something we ought to be glad for. Had we the option NOT to move forward, things – all of life, actually – would likely come to a grinding halt and then be more miserable than our worst day imaginable.

According to many sources, personal and professional, I’ve gathered that 2017 is arriving with very great risks. Donald Trump is about to be the President, terrorist attacks like the horror of 9/11 are already statistically more likely than they have been in a decade (thanks to him skipping so many intelligence briefings like George W. did), who knows where the national or global economies will go, and god knows what else we might be in store for. When considering all these things and more, there’s plenty of reason to be scared or at a minimum pessimistic about the next calendar year. But let’s not – or at least, let’s try not.

I was last night playing board games with some of my nephews. Often, when I’m around them watching them be who they are memories of my own youth come to mind. Things were so different. We were spanked whenever we misbehaved. We felt lucky to have some of the technology they take totally for granted – and we almost had to earn it (having a TV in my bedroom was a REAL treat), whereas they simply expect it. They say and do and watch and hear things that my brothers and I weren’t allowed to say or do or watch or hear. And they don’t blink at any of it. And I’m sure that when I was younger, those who were in older generations thought the very same of me and my brothers and cousins. How easy we had it. How spoiled we were.

Every generation experiences life differently from the way the one before it did, and despite the constant known as change, this isn’t likely to change. The real matter at hand is whether that which has come and gone can be let go of in favor of that which has arrived. As I spend time with the nephews and practically marvel at the (new) life they seem to be experiencing, I can lament that they sometimes call me “Josh” instead of “Uncle Josh” or I can move with it – perhaps being especially thankful of the times when they use my title while refusing to get stuck on the times they don’t. (I wouldn’t in a hundred years think to call my uncles or aunts by first name only, and to this day still address them using their familial titles. Even in my own generation, between my siblings and I, we often call each other by our relational titles instead of using our names.)

I think it’s wise to do the same as we depart from 2016. We could go on about how things were. We could likewise get our panties in a bunch about the direction we think we see things headed. But it seems to me that the wisest, most productive, and most responsible approach is to value how things were while letting it all go and also being glad for as much as we can while we do the only thing we can do – move forward.

Quite frankly, I’d not be surprised at all if 2017 saw the world spin off its axis and fling itself into our Sun. Seems awfully par for the course at this point. 2016 may well have been a terrible year, in general. But my heart organ experienced so much beauty and consequently knows so much gratitude and growth. In the same way my generation has been the foundation for the next, 2016 is what 2017 will stand on. I encourage you to welcome it as openly as you can, allowing for it to unfold as it will – with its own beauty and growth.

In the spirit of leading by example, I’d like to share here some pics I’ve taken throughout 2016 (and maybe late 2015?) which show some of my most cherished moments and people. (My apologies for some of them being a bit grainy.) There are so many pics, you’re likely to get bored – but keep scrolling. You might just see yourself featured. As we welcome 2017, all the grace that is mine to give I gladly forward on to you.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

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My beloved parents

My beloved parents

 

Me and my sister

Me and my sister

 

Me, my brother, my sister-in-law, my husband

Me, my brother, my sister-in-law, my husband

 

Me and my sister-in-law

Me and my sister-in-law

 

My spirit animal

My spirit animal

 

My sweet friend, Leah (RIP)

My sweet friend, Leah (RIP)

 

Me, my mom, brother, brother

Me, my mom, brother, brother

 

My dear friend in Australia

My dear friend in Australia

 

Friends playing HOLI!

Friends playing HOLI!

 

Guard competition!

Guard competition!

 

Brother, William

Brother, William

 

Me and Premanandamagandagita

Me and Premanandamagandagita

 

Me and Forrest-bhai

Me and Forrest-bhai

 

These best people

These best people

 

Bitches in the woods

Bitches in the woods

 

Me and brother, Jeremy

Me and brother, Jeremy

 

Taking care of the dead with my sister

Taking care of the dead with my sister

 

Monumental Yoga, 2016!

Monumental Yoga, 2016!

 

Me and Bob, adventuring in New York!

Me and Bob, adventuring in New York!

 

Hospital prone, this one!

Hospital prone, this one!

 

Amazing hearts in New Jersey!

Amazing hearts in New Jersey!

 

Brotherly love, plus Bennett!

Brotherly love, plus Bennett!

 

Joshua and Bennett in those cars!

Joshua and Bennett in those cars!

 

Radiance!

Radiance!

 

Oh Lord!

Oh Lord!

 

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nephews galore!

nephews galore!

 

My mother-in-law

My mother-in-law

 

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Chris and Rob!

Chris and Rob!

 

My work family!

My work family!

 

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> 500

On September 26th, 2011, I started this blog. And today, just over five years later, while publishing just under five new posts, I crossed the 500-posts mark!

According to my keen ability to use a calculator, five years is 1,825 days. And 500 posts divided into that reveals an average of one post every 3.65 days.

A truer picture of what my velocity here would show is more along the lines of 60 posts within a seven day period followed by three months of writing nothing. But whatever – an average of one or two posts a week seems healthy. Thank you for reading!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Evolutionary Sequence

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Daaji: In the evolutionary scheme there are 4 main subtle bodies. There are many others that are difficult to define. The first subtle body that came into existence is chit. Then came ego. Then came manas and buddhi. So which came after which? Well it is not important. What is important is that consciousness envelops all the other three. That is important.

Q: We say God has no manas. But God also doesn’t have chit, buddhi or ahankar. It is pure causality. So when all my subtle bodies evolve, that is when consciousness becomes pure potentiality.

Daaji: Yes, the pure form of consciousness is then manifested.

Q: So is that how the film of consciousness expands?

Daaji: It is the ego that affects the width of the film. Ego is like a black hole. It can have the greatest pull upon our consciousness. It just will not allow the consciousness to expand. By becoming more and more humble, consciousness will have the opportunity to expand infinitely. And of course desires also affect thinking and intellect. So cleaning helps get rid of these layers.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Witness

Daaji: Another important thing in the Gita that is very widely misunderstood is this concept of Saakshi bhava, meaning to be a witness. There are certain meditation practices that talk of observing yourself. Observing and witnessing are two different things. In observing you are actively involved. When you are witnessing, you are simply there. For example, some crime is happening and you are simply there. You don’t participate and support an outcome.

Witnessing happens at many levels. Initially we cultivate the habit of witnessing what we are doing and saying, etc. Second, we witness at an emotional level. Third, we witness at a vibratory level. At what level are we witnessing? From which level are we witnessing?

For example, when I see someone I think, “Oh! She is wearing green and red.” I can also witness what is her mood, her emotional state. I can also witness her spiritual state. So what are you witnessing? And what are your intentions? Why are you witnessing?

Q: So intentional witnessing is observation?

Daaji: Yes, it becomes observation.

Q: So Lord Krishna was referring to this aspect?

Daaji: Yes, the need to be a witness. You are witnessing your own self.

Q: Is that the difference between using the mind and the heart?

Daaji: You tell me!

Q: With the mind I am observing … I think.

Daaji: You see the mind will always observe and the heart will always witness. Mind reacts, heart responds. Mind and heart are the two poles of the same thing, thinking and feeling.

Now if you look at it from the perspective of the subtle body, from what level are you seeing? Is thinking closer to the Source or is feeling closer? It is better to be guided by closer proximity. For example, at work when you need to get the CEO’s view, do you ask the janitor or the Secretary of the CEO? Who is more reliable?

So meditation is the art of accessing the inner being for verification all the time.

Q: That’s a beautiful definition!

Daaji: In such a state, intercommunication becomes redundant.

Q: Because you are with the Source?

Daaji: Yes, you are directly with the Source. Would you go running to your mother all the time? At a higher level when your mother prepares you thoroughly you don’t need her all the time. She is doing her work and you are doing yours. Both are happy. Only in crucial circumstances, you look to her for advice, and that too for verification.

There was a time when Puyja Lalaji Saheb used to dictate letters to Pujya Babuji Saheb. After a few years, in 1954 or 1955, Lalaji Saheb chided our beloved Babuji, saying, “Do you think I am your clerk to keep dictating and answering your letters? You write on your own now!”

[Saying this, Daaji burst into laughter]

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

From Microbes to Mammals

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My life is strangely compartmentalized. There’s the family compartment, the professional compartment, the Joshua-Only compartment, the love compartment, the lust compartment, the Godness compartment, the morals-and-morality compartment, the Godlessness compartment, the materialist compartment, etc… I have so many compartments.

Naturally, some appear to overlap – like the love / lust compartments or the love / family compartments. In reality, as far as I can tell, they don’t overlap but only seem to. I know pretty well when I’m loving and I know pretty well when I’m lusting and, believe it or not, I know pretty well when I’m accessing love to facilitate lust or lust to facilitate love. This is, in my experience, one thing people too often mess up. For the average bear, it’s too easy to become confused. Blurring these lines is like setting your ego loose in a wide, open field to fun amok. It’s generally a bad idea but all of that is something I’ve written about before and will maybe write about again – but not now.

So… there are these instances in life when it seems like any two compartments might be one-and-the-same or at least blurring a bit, but they aren’t. One instance, however, wherein I think there might actually be a blurring is, of all compartments, one of the borders between the Godness compartment and the Godlessness compartment. Neither can actually, really, or truly answer the question of how we all got here. I mean, to a degree, they both can: I’m here because my parents were here. They were here because their own sets of parents were here before them, and those parents’ parents’ parents … on and on … but only so far back. In the Godness compartment, usually, we reach a brick wall when we trace back far enough to figures like Adam & Eve or some other set of figures who supposedly got the whole human thing going here on Earth. In the Godlessness compartment, we can mostly trace ourselves to an even earlier point in history – perhaps successfully back as far as the dawn of life on the planet but that’s pretty much where the evolution story stops. And, I suppose, rightly so.

Religion tells us, “We know we go back as far as such-n-such point and just before that point – POOF! – like magic, it all just happened because of The Divine’s Word.” Science tells us, “We know we go back as far as such-n-such point and just before that – POOF! – like magicless magic, it all just happened because of the Big Bang.” However they arrive at it, they both reach the same point – eventually, each story gets to a place where something has to come from nothing. From the Godness standpoint, that’s all the sense that’s needed. God is magic, right? No other explanation is required. But from the Godlessness standpoint, a lot more work is needed to come to a conclusion which is our sure commencement.

Occasionally, though, as I’ve been trying to say, the two come together – or at least they appear to from where I stand. As a person of the Hindu persuasion, there’s no real conflict between the Godness and the Godlessness. Any Hindu who claims there is conflict there is terribly deluded and under the spell of Abrahamic oppression. Surely, superficially there are real conflicts. But nothing superficial is really real and nothing superficial should be taken very seriously. Time and time again Hindus have seen science catch up to what we call religion or spirituality. I say science is “catching up,” but that’s not really what I mean. What I mean to say is that the two are increasingly complementary. On an ever greater scale, the two help each other to explain each other.

I think an article I happened across back in January of this year helps to illustrate this. You can read it by clicking here. It’s a long-ish essay which was written (I think) in January of this year, too. A geologist started down a path of thought after his kid’s toy broke. The toy, as it is described, reminds me of those Magic Rocks or whatever we call them here. You have a container, some water and a solution, and then you drop colored “rocks” into it all and they start growing and whatnot. Do you know what I mean? His kid had one of these and one of the rocks broke and he took a look and now we have this essay to read.

The author, Tim Requarth, thinks he might be onto something where the origin of life is concerned. From the Godlessness perspective we know well how matter came / comes into existence. And we also know energy is never lost – never really ever created or destroyed. But the marriage of the two is where things always get messy. Nature itself provides tons of chances for the two to mingle. But that’s only the first, super small, step. If you can energize matter, that’s great. But you need to not only energize it, but also need to have just the right form of matter energized and then to keep it energized in just the right way so as to possibly cause just the right chemical reactions which would enable that energized matter to sustain itself long enough to keep sustaining itself – aka survive, thrive, and reproduce.

YOWZER! What a challenge! No wonder religion uses magic and science has these kind of gaps in its theories.

“But in Russell’s mind, the origin of life and the source of the energy it needed were a single issue, the two parts inextricably intertwined.” – This is where I started to smile while reading. Hindus have always known that the two parts are inextricably intertwined. Maybe if you read the essay, too, it will make you smile as I did.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti