Teachers To Me

It’s fairly safe to say that most people on the planet don’t really enjoy being challenged in regard to their deeper levels of existence. And of those who say they do, I think a fairly small percentage are being honest – many might like the idea of being challenged because of some of the noble implications, but like so many other things when it comes to practical application and the resultant experience, many tend to become shy in the face of that experience.

Not me. Actually, there’s not much I’m shy about these days… a near 180 from my demeanor as a youth. Sadly, my extroversion as an adult has at times gotten me into pickles. But I’m glad for the stories, no less.

So… in a few of my circles I’m the wise one. In a few of my circles I’m just “a” wise one. I’m sorting out how I feel about that exactly, and will likely be sorting that out for a while to come, but I’m happy to help anyone whenever I am able. And I do.

Still, I’m grateful (again and again) for those who are teachers to me. They provide me, when it’s needed usually, the challenge I’m seeking for my very own personal “next step.” One such teacher is a drag nun in California, I’ve mentioned her before, and her name is Sister Unity Divine. You’re able to locate her online without much effort, if you feel inclined. What I’m sharing below is a video of hers regarding God and Unity and our individual identity. Her flavor is that of Kashmiri Shaivism, which is only slightly different than my own path.

The Sister helps me. She helps me remember the nonduality inherent in (virtually all of) Shaivism, and of why I adhere primarily to that marg instead of a couple others available to me. She also helps me remember things I already knew – things I’ve taught others many times, but myself need reminded of periodically. She helps me to be glad for my humanness and the (often insane) humanity of others – something I’m usually glad for only infrequently.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti


33rd Appearance Day

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

In the past, on my birthday, I’ve written about how birthdays are one’s personal new year and how I use the day to establish resolutions (which I don’t ever really do) and assess things in life, set a few new goals perhaps. It really is like a January 1st for me. This year is different, though. I have no interest in setting goals or personal resolutions on my body’s very own new year.

In recent weeks, however, I’ve been assessing a few things. A few things that are actually really very and truly important to me as an aspiring/developing Jnanayogi. In an earlier post, I mentioned the value is perpetual assessment and questioning. To be clear, I don’t mean to doubt. I mean to explore and to experience and to know.

Occassionally, I find nuggets that really hit home and help me do that assessing and either show me that I need to adjust or confirm that the direction I’m pointed in is correct for me. Recently I visited a blog that is one such nugget. I’ll encourage everyone to visit and follow that blog, which can be found here. Below, I’ve copied/pasted a lengthy post from there titled “Spirituality of the Intellect.” For me, this title is fairly synonymous with Jnana Yoga. If you read the post, and if it makes even a little sense to you, and if you implement some of this wisdom in your existence, you can be sure that so much else will fall into place. There are, of course, many other valuable and enjoyable posts on the blog which I also encourage you to read.

Om Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Spirituality of the Intellect.

One of the oft repeated assertions in spiritual circles is that the mind and intellect is a hindrance to true spirituality. This is only a partial truth, an oversimplification of the diverse possibilities of a misunderstood and ill-defined (in normal parlance) part of the human organism.

The mind is but a lose term for a collection of psychological processes-drivers of a human being. It can be broadly classified into 3 parts. First the sensory mind, also called manas, which controls and reacts to influences that reach the mind through the sense-organs. This part of the mind is driven by instinct and compulsive reactions. Then the chittah, repository of all impressions and influences, also called samskaras. Everything that a normal human being ever does, howsoever insignificant, plants an impression in the chittah. At odd times, in otherwise uncalled for situations, the chittah can throw up random, arbitrary images from an semi-forgotten past. The third part of the mind is a mental ahamkara. A very subtle I-sense whose job it is to endlessly and mindlessly oppose, sometimes in a secret and subliminal manner, any part of the human being that is asked to transform itself in the process of sadhana. The ahamkara will do just about anything to hang on to the old personality including all its various likes/dislikes/automatic-movements/passions/desires/comfort-zones ETC, for only by the survival of the older flawed frontal-personality can the ahamkara’s own existence be justified. Often people wrongly translate the word ahamkara to mean pride. Pride is just one manifestation of it, equally expressions of humility or pity or even friendship (or any human relation) can also be a work of the ahamkara. Any refusals to change the flawed habits of the surface personality is a work of the ahamkara fighting for self-preservation.

From this chittah, is thrown out another aspect of the mind – the part which in the realm of pure-thoughts. This is buddhi. In most people the buddhi part of the mind is inseparably tied to the manas and the chittah and the ahamkara. Therefore the thought process is driven in a very subjective manner by the randomness of the conditioning present in the chittah or the compulsive, reactive nature of the manas, or is taken for a royal ride by the ahamkara churning out comfortable but insincere logic to justify the preservation of the flawed, frontal personality. The Buddhi thus becomes severely distorted and defeats the very purpose of its own existence. Such a mind is terrible master.

On the other hand, if the Buddhi is taught to function without being influenced by the sensory mind or the repository of random impressions and conditioned thinking, or be at the service of the ahamkara, then it can work in an objective and non-distorted fashion, searching for the truth as it is, and a trying to find the route to that truth. Such an intellect, unsoiled and pure, is never outraged by anything for agitation is foreign to its nature, can look at all possibilities however obnoxious or repugnant in complete calmness, and weigh them on well defined parameters of judgement. To do this the intellect has to slay the demons of the sensory mind and chittah and ahamkara, at least temporarily if not permanently, which is the higher aim. The Rig Vedic Rishis named this pure intellect as Indra, one who has won the battle against indriyas (sensory mind, manas), the mighty slayer of the demon vritra (meaning envelop), and hence named vritahan.

Once this pure intellect is developed and instilled and one learns to operate from that platform of pure-reason, one must ideally head for the next stage of pushing the frontiers of the mind and intellect into a higher region of functioning, where by default the intellect can integrate apparently contradictory lines of thought in a harmonious manner. Even higher than this stage is an intellect with a natural illumination and unfailing intuition, which can known things by dint of a process that seems to bypass normal logical constructs. Beyond this intuitive mind, lies a vast Cosmic Mind, the mind of the Great Gods where like a Universal game of chess one see innumerable possibilities on every side, gigantic divergences, near-infinite karmic-chains and their exact repercussions right down to the minutest details. It functions not from the premise of piecemeal analogical building blocks of reason, for such a lower method simply cannot handle a universal complexity of unspeakable proportions, but from a perspective of spontaneous knowledge that does not need to strive. And then there is a mind beyond this too, the mind where direct knowledge of Truth comes by the inalienable oneness of subject and object, of viewer and the viewed, or the experiencing-agent and the experienced-subject, where everything is simultaneously and equally divided yet undivided. There is no point thinking of it from our normal mind. Whatever one may think, whatever one can think, will be inevitably flawed for sure, because this is as far beyond the ranges of the average human mind as a normal man is to a cockroach.

The one singular disadvantage of the intellect, though, is its habit of moving in endless circles when it hits a logical road-block. If one falls into that trap, the intellect hinders the seekers progress. However if one is well aware of limits of pure intellect, one can very well use it as a stepping stone into a higher range of the mind and beyond. But to imbibe the essence of these higher platforms of the intellect, one must first develop the pure intellect – uncluttered by manas, chittah and aham, which is the beginning of the spiritual planes. And therein lies the problem for 90% of people, as the mind in most has not learned to offload the retarding, retrogressive weights and soar high above on its own wings. Therefore the spirituality of the intellect is off-limits to most, and consequently the intellect gets unduly demonized.

Hinduism’s Second Star

The second star designated in Thatte’s booklet is that of Advaita, NonDualism. This is huge for me. From my earliest memories I’ve been spiritual. Winter has always been my least favorite season, but as a young child I can recall looking out my parents’ front door windows at snow swirling down. I sensed the wind. I felt a hint of the temperature on the cold glass. I saw flake after flake swoosh to the ground or a tree branch and pile up on the flakes before it. All of this is very superficial and something anyone can see, but I saw Something behind all those aspects of a snowfall. I had no idea what to call that Something because the family I was born into isn’t religious, but I perceived It no less. For me now, the saddest part of that memory is that I assumed that Something was on the other side of the front door’s window. It must be out there.

As I entered my teens, I familiarized with Christianity through the means of a local Baptist church. I’ll spare the many details of this part of my life. For what seemed like a long time this new chapter satisfied me religiously and spiritually. Still, as with my early childhood, That was external. It should be noted that within every branch of every Abrahamic faith, the vast majority have a very orthodox understanding of an external God. This trait, in my estimation, is a defining characterist of those streams of humanity’s perception of the divine, and frankly I feel this is a sad testament to the state of human affair in recent millenia.

If the Abrahamic faiths can be noted for their distant god, surely the Dharmic faiths should be noted for the opposite trait as something which is equally defining. This is where Advaita/NonDuality comes in and is also why it’s particularly important to me.

“Advaita Vedanta maintains that everything is derived from Brahman and Brahman resides in everything. The Upanishads teach us that the world comes from Brahman and returns to Brahman.” (Thatte, 2010)

All throughout most of Hindu theology nowdays one encounters the notion of Atman. Invariably, this is presented as the human soul and is essentially defined as a spark of the Divine which resides in every entity. This Atman comes from Brahman in the same way a spark comes from a fire. It’s because of this, that hindus have the mantra/prayer, “Aham Brahmasmi,” “I am Brahman.”

Thatte goes on to explain that it’s because of all this that one does not need an external medium to seek God. Because your deepest Self is nondifferent to God, knowing your self(aka self-realization) automatically is synonymous to knowing God.

This is phenominal. Truly, I believe the Abrahamic faiths, at their cores, teach this. Today though, it’s much tougher to discern that from their doctrines. Part of why this is amazing is that it allows the flood gates to open for the experience of God. If God naturally resides in me then I don’t must follow some prophet, else I’m damned. Each person is free, even before the grand self-realization process has begun, to find their own path Home. In my opinion, this is foundational for any real and true spiritual or religious effort. Also, on a very personal level, the fact that this is(currently) a huge difference between Hinduism and the Abrahamics is enough for me to sense the truth there. My time with Christianity didn’t end well or quick, really, and while I honestly hold no actual grudges against individuals I can’t help but find comfort in anything that isn’t Christianity.

Back to the booklet…

Thatte’s practical take-away for this star’s chapter is that: Since each of us is essentially Atman, all should be treated with respect and reverence, just as we’d treat the Supreme Being.

Star three is somewhat a continuation of this star. It deals more with the Sould and its universality.

Om Tat Sat Om