Automatic Heaven

images123

I came across an article posted to Facebook this early afternoon that made me gag. The article, which can be found here, details briefly an incident where a snipit of conversation between two cricket players was caught.

In the conversation one player, who is a Muslim, is telling the other player, who is a Buddhist, that anyone who converts to Islam automatically is allowed into Heaven. Automatically. This kind of pisses me off.

For starters, I’m pretty sure that’s not what the Koran actually teaches. I might be wrong, but I think that’s oversimplifying the doctrines of that religion and I feel like more credit should be given to the path itself. Some years ago Islam was the only religion I studied (this lasted for over a year) and during that time I learned many dark-n-wondrous things about Islam that many others might not know. It’s been a while, but I don’t recall anything so flat or sweeping.

The second thing that struck me is that it appears to somehow be okay for this Muslim man that someone would join his religion JUST for the prize in the box. How cheap is that? And I’m wondering what kind of person he thinks he’s attracting by discounting his own dharma in that way? I would assume an offer as simple and cheap as the one he’s making to this Buddhist would only really be attractive to someone so lazy in their own religious / spiritual life that avoiding Hell is their only real concern. There was no mention of “Islam will make you a better human” or anything like that. Just “join the club, and get the prize.” Pathetic, and frankly dangerous. I think it follows that if someone is lazy enough in their own effort or their own understanding and joins because it means “automatic heaven,” then my guess is that this same person is probably going to make a fool of himself at some point – inviting this kind of fool into one’s “religious club” seems to put the club at risk of looking stupid when this new (selfish and lazy) person inevitably shows his arse. Why would anyone care to risk that – especially when considering a religion like Islam, which is unfortunately already suspect in so many regards?

Thirdly, the offer as it was made implies that the Muslim not only understands very little about his own dharma but also the dharmas of non-Abrahamic believers. If you come from an understanding that Heaven isn’t the final stopping place, then what value is automatic admission through the pearly gates going to hold? Probably, temporary value at best. So to offer heaven to someone who sees it as a pit stop more than anything else seems about the same as making a bid deal out of offering a rented video to someone. They understand that they cannot keep the video, so what exactly is the favor being done here?

The last thing that bugged me about this is what was said to the Buddhist when he apparently refused the heavenly offer. He was met with a response like, “Be prepared for fire, then.” (The actual response may have been differently worded, but that’s pretty much what was said to him. I don’t have the article opened right now.) If one’s offer in conversion was truly as sincere as I’m sure this Muslim man would have everyone believe, then why was the reaction to the answer he received from the Buddhist, “Fine then, but you’re gonna be fucked after you die”? If that response is any indication of the personal development Islam is capable of, I’d say the Buddhist is better off staying with his current dharma. Sadly, I know similar behavior to be true of Christians, also. I know this because once upon a time I was guilty of nearly identical behavior.

The biggest question of all that this brought to my mind is: Where are the Hindus that do this? Where are the Buddhist attempting compulsory conversion of non-Buddhists to Buddhism?

Can anyone point me to resources that illustrate this behavior among Hindus and Buddhists?

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

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A Seat At The Table

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

In the disclaimer I offered back on May 25th of this year (which can be read here), I mentioned that there are many kinds of Hindus, and thus many expressions of Hinduism. The kind of Hindu I want to write about is the carnivorous kind. I hope you brought your big mind to class today. I also hope you have your reading glasses and ample time to not only read what is likely to become a rather lengthy post, but ample time to mentally masticate the suchery about to be included. Aum Ganesha!

Before I dive deeply into what I’m planning here, please allow me to be clear: I’m not condoning carnivorous practices among humans. It’s my opinion that our current methodology for farming meat products is not only wasteful and inefficient, but also immensely cruel. I also believe there’s more than enough scientific evidence to support the theory that humans are anatomically and physiologically designed to consume primarily plant material for our nutrition needs. Lastly, I do think, for various reasons which I may end up not going into very much, that humans – as spiritual and intellectual organisms – function optimally when abstaining from eating meat. Beyond that, I’m not mad at folks who chomp beasts.

From where I’m sitting, this topic is a source of contention and too many misguided, skewed intentions. In the middle ages, Christians hunted other groups of people who they perceived to be a threat of some sort. Mind you, those Christians didn’t simply decided against a group and then plot its extermination. There was something about one group or another that was perceived to be a detractor to the process of “saving” the world, or was seen as a roadblock of sorts for those attempting to gain entrance into eternal heavenly paradise. Everyone wants paradise and some people want it for others, too. This was the goal of Christians then, but what ended up happening instead were things like the Crusades where folks were literally hunted and killed for not being Christian. Interestingly, during these times even Christian priests were tested – by vegetarianism. If they refused to eat meat, they were accused of having been influenced by the religion of Manacheanism and would be killed. Some could read this as indicative of the violence inherent in Christian doctrine. I’ll let you take those thoughts where you will.

I find that something along these lines, although not to the same extreme degree, happens in Hindu/Buddhist circles. There are many many scriptural texts in the Hindu religion. Many of those texts strongly advise that eating sentient beings isn’t too far removed from eating another human and at times those same texts precisely detail the karmic and spiritual repercussions – sometimes with an amount of detail that causes me to question the validity of that kind of precision. What’s often overlooked, though, are the parts of the Hindu family that either say nothing about abstaining from meat, encourage killing in some contexts (perhaps for sacrifice or beacuse of so-called duty), or advise that being too against meat eating is no different from actually consuming flesh yourself.

That last bit is important. I personally know a numerous number of vegetarians and vegans who believe that abstaining from fleshy chews will save their souls all the while completely ignoring the inner landscape they’ve cultivated around the subject and all the resultant karma they’re incurring because of it. All of our external actions have seeds which are subtle, many being as subtle as our own thoughts and emotions.

Please understand that aversion is ultimately, qualitatively, no different than desire – both are dangerous traps! This is affirmed/confirmed in the Gita by Shri Krishna, himself. Ultimately, perception of “goodness” is meant to be avoided as much as perception of “evil.” The only possible benefit of cultivating an abundance of “good” is pleasantry of experience. Be sure – the two are essentially the same. Hating or despising the consumption of meat will put you in the same samsaric/karmic boat as those who actually eat meat. Karma is karma, after all, and even the smallest amount of the most subtle karmic expression is still enough to imprison one on the wheel of death and rebirth – preventing moksha from being yours.

I want to show that, while there may be plenty of Hindu Scriptures or accepted concepts that strongly encourage a meat-free life, there are also scriptures that proclaim the more ultimate benefit of transcending such preferences. I’ll write more about that later. One should also note that there’s a key difference between encouraging someone in a behavior and simply not condemning them for it.

I also want to briefly visit what is probably the most common reason for abstaining from meat: Ahimsa. Most understand the term to simply and broadly mean nonviolence. This is true, but at best this definition only half covers abstention from meat. That’s because, at best, “nonviolence” only half defines ahimsa. Taking the definition of a word like ahimsa to be fully encompassed by something like “nonviolence” is like saying Brahman is as simple as “God.” It’s simply not (completely) true. This form of simplicity is at work in other forms of fundamentalism where something important is whittled down to chewable bites, and then those bits are said to contain every flavor of the original. As with any other Sanskrit word, there are numerous layers of meaning, and saying ahimsa means nonviolence is like saying you are your skin. It should also be pointed out that true nonviolence is not possible in ANY life. This is something else that is key to remember and is a prime example of how fundamentalism works, even within Hinduism. You end up throwing out practicality and reason. Other layers of ahimsa are possible in life, with effort, and when ahimsa is applied to a spiritual context those deeper layers are what’s being pointed to, not simply nonviolence. With that said, ahimsa alone makes a great case for better living, but not specifically a vegetarian diet.

Karma is another word that’s quite often tossed around when arguing whether meat eating is massively detrimental within the perennial context. Everyone seems to be under the assumption that all killing is “bad” and that all “bad” actions create undesirable results. If this were really the case, the warrior caste would be lower than the Shudras and would certainly be doomed to hellish places lifetime after lifetime, and Krishna wouldn’t have advised Arjuna that to kill humans (humans he loved!) is the dharmic thing to do. This is further support that the concept of non-violence isn’t meant to be so encompassing. Surely, with God represented equally in all sentient beings, if there are times when it’s literally righteous to kill other humans, there must also be times when it’s okay to kill “lesser” beings – although not necessarily for food. Still, I have a hard time believing that someone who enjoys a hamburger is automatically somehow karmically worse off than a soldier… at least here in the Kali Yuga.

Three Hindu scriptures do sufficiently well at illustrating all of this – not that consuming flesh is ok, but that it’s worse (or just as bad) to have an aversion to it. Due to the current length of this post, I’ll save the actual meat of what I’m getting at for another post, which is just as likely to be as broad as it is long. Stay tuned if you care.

Jai Shri Ganesha!

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Gayshnava

Taken from Google Image search, "Gay Hindu"

Taken from Google Image search, “Gay Hindu”

Friday was an interesting day for me. The week has pretty much flew by, although Friday not so much. Russia’s been on my nerves in the worst way. It’s not often I recommend obliterating nations, but Russia is pushing it. Even the Middle East with all its own joys doesn’t get under my skin the way Russia is currently. In the Middle East at least they have “good reasons” for their dumb ideaologies. By “good reasons,” I mean religion. Everyone is dictated by Islam in those regions and while it’s not right to be that way either, per se, it’s at least a foundational starting point that can evolve. It’s spiritually misguided logic – it theoretically started out wholesome, and wherever it sits currently, it could also theoretically get back to square one. Russia is different though. The stuff coming out of Russia these days is just mean. Russia’s not saying that Jesus wants them to hunt gays. It’s saying its population is dwindling and gays pose a threat to reproduction and therefore the survival of the nation. That view violates so much common sense and even basic facts that I find it far more offensive than a Muslim who’s ignorant wanting to hunt gays. It’s a fine line, but a distinct one in my mind.

Along these lines, a friend on Facebook reposted something from Vaishnav literature wherein Prabhupad Swami had some pretty harsh words regarding gays, including that we’re lower than even the animals, which are already far lower than humans already. He went on and on as the devotees probed him on this. You can read that blissful knowledge here.

The best part of it all for me was that no one said, “Those are not true Vaishnavs!” One commenter did come close (he’s what another friend would rightly call Kraishnav), but otherwise it didn’t even show up on th radar. This is heard muchly within Abrahamic religions. Whenever Christians hunt people or Muslims bomb them, the other adherents of those faiths are quick to abandon their brothers and very loudly make sure everyone else knows, “They aren’t real Christians!” I’ve even heard a Buddhist monk do this in reponse to some other monks standing up against Muslim oppressors. It seems terribly egoic to me when people turn on their own brothers/sisters like that. It was nice that no one did that – today anyway.

Someone else commented that Vaishnavism is essentially “curried Catholicism.” I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair or accurate assessment, but it’s one I can relate to as having an element of truth to it.

But it all got me thinking… What if one keeps his mouth shut entirely? I mean, the whole event Friday on Facebook was really quite interesting. Somebody said something, others encountered that said thing and said something else in reponse, and then more and more people ended up saying more and more in reponse (in reaction?).

So if I have shitty or hateful or whatever views does it really matter so long as I keep my pie hole shut? My karmas are mine alone (mostly) and if I don’t project them in any manner externally (which, I’ll admit would be nearly impossible to do) then why should anyone else care about it?

I see this happen in the spa I work part-time at. One professional will be having a conversation and since the area is rather open and fluid, conversationsa are often blended and melted into each other, or at least overlapping. This often creates a “mind your own business, nobody asked you” kinda of situation. Prior to those interactions, relative peace is experienced. But is that really peace, or just relative, individualized ignorance?

Here’s what I think the REAL root of it all is: Jnana. And I mean both sides of the Jnana “coin.”

Jnana, I’ve said before, is experiential realization of Truth. It requires work on your part and no one else’s. If I want your advice to check my own thoughts against, that’s one thing. But if I haven’t invested enough work in my own Self, I won’t even really be (experientially) aware of what’s already inside me. This is simultaneously the starting place and the finish line, no joke. But if this doesn’t happen, a person not only has no secure foundation (afterall what’s clearer than your own personal, experiential, realization of Truth?), but also almost certainly has no clear idea of the Goal – also because they’ve not invested the work needed for experiential realization. So if one neglects the work that needs done, and has no realization of the secure foundation (not the same as having no foundation at all), and has no resultant sight of the Goal which would also need to be certain, then he/she is likely to rely on others in ways that the hope-filled think will give direction to their journey – this laziness is grave and is pretty much the reason the self-help industry is booming. Nothing wrong with a book telling you how to reach your higher Self, but just reading won’t work. This almost invariably means that the kind of ineractions I mentioned earlier take place.

To keep moving… What’s all the fuss about gayness and Hinduism? Superficially, Hinduism is pretty much literally the most liberating religion ever. Many religions are quite “free,” but within the context of history and orthodoxy, the freedom found in Hinduism simply can’t be surpassed.

Interestingly, Hinduism has a rich, albeit somewhat obscure, history of gayness. The Faithology website has a page on homosexuality within Hinduism which can be accessed by clicking here – and it does a fair job at detailing exactly what I’m talking about.

The site mentions the “third sex,” which everyone should read about. More popularly, though, the site also offers a few nuggets most might not know about. For instance, the Harihara aspect of God, is a male-male union of Shiva and Vishnu. This can’t exactly be said to be gay, but it’s definitely homosexual (according to a strict definition of the word) and stands in sharp contract to the more obviously hetero blending of “God” in the form of Shiva and Shakti. Also, Krishna’s own son, Samba, actually engaged in homosexual acts (which isn’t the same as being gay, but whatever) and is a known cross-dresser/transvestite. There’s also a version of the Ramayana that details the creation of the god Bhagiratha from lesbian intercourse.

Another WordPress post, also inspired by some of Friday’s interactionsw, was composed by the Facebook friend mentioned earlier who had reposted Prabhupad’s interview transcription. This post can be read here, and takes a myth buster form. In all actuality, the posted I just linked you (as well as my post here) could just about as easily contribute to the strife I was getting at in the beginning of this post.

In theory, we should all be able to hold any view under the sun about any subject under the sun, and it shouldn’t matter. Should it? Why does it? Have I already provided the answer, or do I need you to help enlighten me? Are you sure?

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Sweet Satan

Taken from Ek Akshara/Facebook

Taken from Ek Akshara/Facebook

After a recent post here, a friend (who’s been inspiration for a number of posts on Sthapati) suggested that other people aren’t actually extensions of one’s ego. I think he’s right, but in the rarest sense.

Most of the time, for most humans, others are an extension of the ego. Parents live vicariously through their children. Spouses develop codependencies, sometimes because their sense of self is so deeply reliant upon another. People often identify politically because of how they feel they relate to the politician representing certain views or goals. Quite often in life actually, and in many other arenas, people are an extension of one’s ego. Sometimes that means relative dysfunction, but far more often it’s a simple part of operating in this world – and it begins before we even cognitively recognize that we’re here.

For me Eckhart Tolle is a modern yogi. The man is shanti-incarnate and is one heck of a Jnanaguru. It doesn’t matter what he’s saying or talking about, for me, it’s impossible to listen to his voice and not be nearly blissed out. Please trust me, any person looking to change his own life would do well to study A New Earth. It’s not an enormous book, only about 310 pages, but the content is immense and makes wonderful protein for your brain and soul. I’m currently on my second time reading A New Earth, (the first time took me nearly a year!) and I find it even more valuable than the first time. To be sure, it was groundshaking the first time, but the content requires so much mental mastication (for me, to get the actual value), that unless you read it more than once you’re almost certain not to fathom fully all that you should from it.

At any rate, among the many jewels found within A New Earth, an excellent explanation of ego, its foundation, formation, perpetuation is laid out. If I were ever again to admit the valid existence of any notion like Satan or The Devil, which I do not on any serious level, I could only do so within the context of the ego. But, surprisingly for anything associated with The Devil, things aren’t all doom and gloom.

In the upcoming posts, please allow me to share more than a little in regard to all of this. I’ll be pulling from Tolle, my personal experience, and another source of spiritual guidance which I’ve found to be indespensible through the years: Hinduism Today magazine, specifically the current issue which places an oddly but sweetly graceful spin on the idea of ego & its purpose.

Stay with me here, and as always, your input or observances are welcome.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Another Seat at the Table

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

In the last post I struggled a bit, I feel. This topic of the human diet and what is supreme in regard to it is actually a big thing to consider and try to explain. Before continuing, allow me to offer apologies here for any confusion I might cause or miscommunition that might be my responsibility. I wrote about many things inherent to the diversity of Hinduism, and maybe a few other things. It was a lot and I feel like I mostly only touched on each of those things, which leads me to think it might be inappropriate to continue without going deeper into those topics.

I mentioned that, like so many other aspects of our religion, for every yes there is a no and every up corresponds to at least one down. Most people, especially Westerners, are not terribly aware of how truly immense and diverse Hinduism is. As Westerners not born into the religion or culture, our beginning stages often amount to somewhat of a scramble to understand as much as possible as quickly a possible, the result of which usually is that our minds only grasp part of the whole and then clings to that part because that’s all we feel we can understand. In Hinduism, literally everyone has a seat at the table. None are excluded on the path to liberation – that’s important to remember regardless of your sect. Hindus adhere to many different scriptural authorities. It’s important to remember that these authorities dont always agree.

One possible authority is probably the most-read of all Hindu scriptures – The Bhagavad Gita. In the last post, I mentioned that violence isn’t inherently bad and is even natural in life – and that the Gita supports this. A key factor pertaining to that concept, is equipoise. Krishna explains to Arjuna that the yogi (one who achieves union, aka moksha) is one who remains ultimately unaffected by life’s roller coaster-like happenings. This is the Yoga of Equanimity and is a key to vairagya and renouncing karmaphala. Do you see how it’s all connected?

Some might incorrectly interpret this to imply indifference or apathy. I don’t agree with that. It requires much work to govern both personal inclinations and aversions – a work that actually implies anything but indifference or apathy. It is a quite passionate endeavor indeed to consistenly remain equipoised. On a superficial level, what we eat doesn’t affect our soul, which remains untouched by anything happening within Maya. Multiple world religions affirm this.

Another text belonging to Advaita Vedanta, and which many Hindus revere whole-heartedly is The Yogavasishta, which states, “It is the actions of the mind that are truly termed Karmas…True liberation results from the disenthralment of the mind…Those who have freed themselves from the fluctuation of their mind come into possession of the supreme Nishta…Should the mind be purged of all its impurities, then it will become as still as the milky ocean undisturbed by the churning of Mandara hills; and all our samsaric delusion attendant with its birth and deaths will be destroyed…Those who without longing for objects avoid them can be termed as subjugators of their mind.” This may not say much about avoiding meat as food, but it does add additional support to my point that whether one eats meat or not shouldn’t be too key. Our mind’s actions are the bijas of all external karmas. Certainly, “outside” stuff can have an influence on the mind’s actions, but ultimately all possible outcomes related to that “outside” stuff are dependent upon what’s in the mind to begin with. This can also relate back to the Gita where we’re encouraged to follow our own dharma over someone else’s. For some, in this current life, the menu will only include plant material.

For others it’s simply not so – and I must insist, for the sake of your own karmas, that that’s alright.

Don’t worry – there’s more.

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Bad Breth(ren)?

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

Recently, someone came back into my life who had disappeared. This person is surely sweet and kind, and while I haven’t been able to spend much time with him, as another non-Indian Hindu I felt an almost-instant connection to him. We first met at my local temple. He’s a servant of Krishna through the ISKCON organization. Our time together was brief, to say the least. I’d no sooner learned a little about him, hoping to learn much more, when he disappeared. After he vanished, we reconnected on Facebook although soon enough he’d vanished from there too. Then he reappeared by means of a friend request. I naturally obliged, glad to see that he seemed happy and well. The last I knew he was somewhere in Appalachia, but he’s resurfaced in sunny Florida.

Just yesterday, only a week or so after reconnecting, he messaged me on Facebook. We’d had prior “comment discussions” wherein I’d persisted with the indication that I’m devoted to The Mother/Amma and Her Son, Ganesha. Our comments to each other felt a little awkward because he seemed convinced that I’d not given Krishna a chance, but generally these comments were innocent and superficial – then came the Facebook message.

“I wish you would study Srila Prabhupada. Pravin is such a bad influence. He is a very bad man.” Short & sweet.

The Gita tells us that one’s individual path (swadharma), even with all its potential flaws, is better than another’s. Krishna was telling Arjuna that he should always follow the advice of the Guru in his own heart. I’ve read through more than a few versions of the Gita more than a few times and I’ve yet to notice a single shloka, with purport or commentary (or nothing), that instructs a devotee to “share the good news of Krishna with everyone possessing two ears. Encourage all to follow Krishna.” (In fact, I’d point out that the opposite is the implication of Krishna’s words.) And yet, many times the case is one of proselytizing – which I find to be unHindu. In my response message I mentioned that this “typical” characteristic of the bhakti marg (bhakti is a part of all paths, but seems to prevail primarily among Vaishnavs) makes it something that’s not suited for me -although I do find both bhakti and Vaishnavism beautiful and worthy of my respect. I generally hate to generalize, but if a generalization happens to be generally true, from time to time I’ll generalize. I realize this means an unfair and sweeping application to some Vaishnav bhaktas, but for ease of communicating my thoughts – which are already tedious enough – I will sometimes generalize. I will also point out that no other sect of Hinduism has ever approached me or otherwise interacted with me in the manner specifically typical of vaishnav bhaktas. In all other experiences of mine – literally ALL other experiences – with various Hindu sects and denominations, I’ve never been badgered at all about my path like I have with vaishnav bhaktas. If you find this bothersome, do forgive me.

Superficially speaking, the message sent by my friend is innocent enough. It’s also a common occurance and typical. We all encourage others to go after what we see is the best – in any situation, right? Even better is when we KNOW something is “working” for us and we want others to experience the same. I think this is potentially noble and compassionate and is something virtually everyone does to some degree or another. However, herein lies an ugly trap. It’s one thing to broadcast one’s inclinations, in fact Hare Krishnas are pros at it. I do it frequently on my own Facebook page, and have even received remarks that for a Hindu I’m awfully evangelical. Still, I find distinction between broadcasting one’s inclinations and directly trying to persuade others to buy into them, too. If it’s not clear to you, this distinction I’m making, imagine the difference between having tattoos & choosing to wear clothing that shows them, and actively trying to convince others to get tattoos, too.

In subsequent messages, this friend has pointed out that “worship of all gods and demigods factually goes to Sri Krsna.” (There are other parts of this conversation that also bothered me, but I don’t feel they’d add much more to what I’m trying to communicate here, so I choose to leave them off.) As I’ve already pointed out, I’m familiar with the Gita and Krishna’s words. I know exactly what’s being referenced, and while I’m recognizing where this friend is coming from and the influences he’s under that are causing him to point this out, I’m struggling to not be offended – partially because I think his interpretation of this passage is skewed and partially because even before now I’ve made clear that I plan to stick to my own swadharma and not someone else’s.

Ultimately, this is inconsequential. I know where I stand and I’ve invested huge efforts into knowing exactly why I stand where I do – which is more than most people can say about their own journey. If that ever changes it’ll be because of my own personal growth, not because someone quotes the scripture of another sect to me. I understand wanting to share with others what you perceive to be valuable and beneficial knowledge, but I feel like a Muslim who’s listening to a Christian thump him with Bible verses. For one, it’s not pleasant. For another, Muslims have their own scripture, and even if a Muslim affords respect to the Christian Bible, it’s still not authoritative to that Muslim’s swadharma, even if it’s applicable. Like telling an Atheist they’re going to Hell – it’s pointless because “Hell” has virtually zero value to the Athiest.

So where to go from here? The part of my genetic makeup coming from my mother’s side (German, Native American, Catholic, Alcoholic) provides ample impulse to tell this “bhai” to go get fucked and how to do it. Some, however, would see that as mean. The rest of me, and thankfully the larger portion of my current self, is more inclined toward patience and a progressive insistence – simple reiteration – that I’m neither Vaishnav or bhakta. My patience, like my father’s, is typically miles long – but I’m not into repeating myself like this. Am I wrong in perceiving this pal’s messages the way I have? Is this just a matter of the best intentions gone awray? And if we say that, aren’t we just making excuses?

Dear reader, advise if you feel so inclined.

Om Shanti

Pratyahara

cropped-ganesha_ink.jpg

Like ninety million other people my Facebook newsfeed is a mixture of posts from people I know, specific things I’d like to know about/from, and miscellaneous other “incidentals.” One such incidental on my newsfeed recently was a quote of the Buddha. I noticed it in passing – or, rather in scrolling. It caught my eye and as I kept scrolling it ended up catching my thoughts, too.

The exact wording I now forget, but it was something along the lines of “share your enlightenment with others,” but using more words and going very briefly into why everyone should do this. Instantly, I felt conflicted.

The role or idea of the boddhisattva came to mind. Someone is a bodhisattva who has attained liberation and also has vowed to return to a physical life, lifetime after lifetime, for the sake of helping others attain liberation, too. That seems to fit the quote. Fine. Dandy.

However, the bodhisattva clique is rather small – and probably smaller these days than ever. So what about the rest of us? Well, any reason-minded person could tell you that when it comes to something like enlightenment, as with virtually everything else, we’re all at different places. Some have more money, and some are in the process of getting more. Some have bigger families, and some are in the process of growing theirs. Some have already long been invested the intense labor of Self-realization, and some are just starting.

All of that is also fine and dandy. In fact, it’s quite perfect – and here’s why: Freedom. Because I am where I am, and you are where you are, we’re both free to tackle our respective “next step” in whatever way we think will prove most productive.

Occasionally, those who’ve already rounded one corner or the next are able to yell back to those approaching that same corner and offer advice or guidance to make that process smoother for those people. It’s not a matter of seniority, superiority, or ego. It’s a simple act of kindness, with potentially immense implications for the journey of those at a different place along the road. It’s that simple. And yet it’s not that simple. No one wants to feel like they’re “less.” The truth is, no one ever is, but that’s not always easy to see for some people. Priorities and perceptions are so easily – and so often – skewed. Suddenly, there’s a bit of a mess. Someone labels someone else egoic, arrogant, prideful, or bossy, when what’s actually at work is that those same qualities are well and alive within the labeler and are hoping to remain not only undetected but also fortified.

And so, on one hand, the Buddha is as right as ever. Enlightenment SHOULD be shared. Everyone on the journey has someone to their front and to their back. We can all help and be helped – often simultaneously. Thus, enlightenment should ALWAYS be shared.

On the other hand, though, things are a bit darker. Many won’t seek help or otherwise ask for it, perhaps because they don’t realize how much they need it and perhaps because they’re simply too egoic, arrogant, proud, or bossy to allow for the help. This makes sharing one’s enlightenment risky business. Everyone seems to frown on unsolicited advice, regardless of how incredibly warranted, practical, or even necessary it might be. At this point, I’m reminded of the passage in the Bible where the “casting of pearls to swine” is discouraged. This leads me to my next conclusion.

I’m feeling the need, and have been for around a week already, to retreat. Pull back. Introvert myself. To contract. There are a few things I need to nail down for myself, but there are also a few people who need to learn to walk a little more on their own – and actually walk. It’s like wasting one’s breath. You can share your knowledge (enlightenment) with someone all day every day, but at the end of the day if the one you gave so freely to never makes the effort to implement that goodness in their own life, and create/realize their own enlightenment, you might have been equally productive simply holding your tongue instead – and in the process would have spared yourself the sad frustration of knowing the potential, but unrealized, blossoming of that other soul with whom you shared.

Sometimes, too, absence makes the heart grow hungry. A post or two ago I shared a story from the Upanishads about a gamble the senses were having with each other. It’s a cute story with a deep lesson. You should read it. I’m about to enter a similar gamble with myself and others. I’m sure it will be a boon to everyone, and I’m sure the absence of what little enlightenment I have to share will be filled soonly. You’re about to prove me right and you don’t even know it.

All the grace that is mine to give, I gladly forward on to you!

Om Shanti and namastu te.

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