Automatic Heaven

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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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Quietism

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I went to mid-week satsangh recently. It’s always a mid-week breath of fresh air when I’m able to attend and I’m very grateful for it. The gathering was really small: myself, another abhyasi and the two hosts (one of which is usually responsible for conducting the sitting). The other abhyasi present was a face I had seen only once before, a young male whose appearance reminded me of some friends I have from Pakistan. I regret not getting his name.

The sitting was wonderful, as it usually is, and felt very beneficial – as it usually does. Once it was finished, the four of us sat around briefly and chatted about various things, one of which was the mostly-rumored-but-probably-true Sufi roots of our practice. Sadly, there’s very little existing documentation that details much of this, but apparently the current guru’s guru’s guru was a student of a Naqshabandi Sufi master. You’ll hear me mention Lalaji from time to time – it was his guru who was the Sufi master in question, as far as I understand it.

To be very clear: The Sahaj Marg is not Sufism. Although I wouldn’t object to the practice of whirling, it needs to be said that, despite some great parallels, our practice really is different from Sufism.

So… this conversation made me think a bit. I certainly identify as Hindu. Much of the terminology employed in the Sahaj Marg is what many would consider “Hindu.” Lots of other stuff to do with the practice and our organization(s) definitely carries a Hindu flavor. And yet there is this pretty much undeniable Sufi/Islamic influence… maybe even what one would call a foundation.

This strikes me because just about everywhere you turn within Hinduism you will find references to the Vedas and other terribly ancient texts as the foundation, and therefore supposed validity, of one’s path or lineage. In Sahaj Marg, I think many would agree, we often reference sources like the Vedas however we don’t afford them much direct authority. I also think many would agree that in the Sahaj Marg experience is the greatest authority – which is actually quite Hindu. So just about everywhere I dig with this path I end up finding just about as much “Hinduness” as I do “not Hinduness.” It’s a really weird balance and kind of reinforces something that’s been in my head for a long time: That Sufis are really kind of just, like, islamic Hindus.

So, all jargon aside, am I really a Sufi?

No. But maybe.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

The Original Stir

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“If I seek courage, I must have courage inside me. It is a quality, it is not a thing. Courage is not in a spear or in a gun – it is a quality. Happiness is a condition; joy is a condition. God is a principle. Therefore, he in whom this principle is present is a divinized being. There is no such thing as God, other than this. If there is a God it is only the existence of this pure principle everywhere. It cannot be somewhere, at some time, at some place. If it is a principle it must be everywhere, at all times – everywhere. Therefore it must be here; therefore it must be now. And being a principle, it must pervade everything, too. Therefore we come to this definition of God as omnipotent, omnipresent, omni-pervasive.

“But we make the mistake of saying, “He is everywhere, He is in everything, He is in all times.” Then we have the feminists coming up in arms and saying, “Why He? Why not She?” So you see this ridiculous situation of personalizing a God, which is what we have been doing through the whole of human life. Whether in a fish or in a boar, or in a Samson and Delilah – God is in his hair, and when the hair came back he regained his strength. Or God is in the wishbone of a whale or a chicken. Or God is an idol or in a pillar or in a cross or just in an empty blank wall. So God cannot be located in space or seen in the context of temporal time.

“Therefore, anybody who claims to have seen God or touched God is either misguided or a liar. There is nothing to see. I cannot see what is in me, others must see what is in me. Therefore, we can see God in others, we should never be able to see God in ourselves. That being so, a divinized person cannot know he is divinized, much less can God know he is God.

“Something which Babuji Maharaj said: “God cannot know he is God, because when he is knowing that he is God, there is God and the other” – duality comes into existence at once. So if God cannot be conscious, God has no mind. Sahaj Marg’s teaching is very emphatic on this, very definite. God can have no mind, because if he is conscious there will be periods of unconsciousness – He can go into a coma, He can lapse into sleep. Therefore, we have these funny rituals of God being woken up in the morning, put to sleep at night. So we are fooling with God, imagining he is a bigger human being than we are… In a way it is right because it is a special presence. In a way it is wrong because He cannot be present when He is already there. It is not a new presence. But you can think of it as the air in this room which is still, not moving, therefore you don’t feel it. If it starts to move you feel it as a breeze. So air, when it is unmoving, you don’t feel, when it moves, you feel.

“Therefore, when the divine principle moves we feel it as a presence. What makes it move? It is the expression of the divine principle in you which makes it move. When you use the word in English: “It was a moving experience. The music was moving. His condition was moving. I was moved by his love for me,” – what is this ‘moved’? It is precisely the stirring of the divine principle in the heart, which for a moment comes into action, very much like the kshob (original stirring) of Babuji Maharaj. And when that kshob happens inside your heart, that divine principle is let loose and love flows.”

(The above is an excerpt taken from Love & Death.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

The Heart of Man

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

I’ve been writing a lot more lately about things to do with Sahaj Marg and my experiences therein. This post will be no different.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how “heart-centered” this marg is and what a balanced role bhakti plays within this marg’s practice / sadhana. A big part of our meditative practice focuses on region of the heart chakra, also known as the Anahata Chakra. This is interesting because the Sahaj Marg springs from the Raja Yoga / Patanjali way of spirituality and brings with it an emphasis on the mind, its workings, and control over it. For the Sahaj Marg, however, the heart is where all the action happens. We work on knowing our Self, controlling the waves within the mind, living simple lives, etc… but progress really happens in the human heart.

I have a day book of sorts – not exactly a calendar but each page of the book corresponds to a day in the calendar year. It reminds me of Christian devotionals that I used to read through during the course of a year, only mine now is Hindu. I had gotten behind sometime around the middle of January and as I was catching up last night I came to an entry that touched me in light of everything this year has brought as well as from the context of my walk with the Sahaj Marg.

The wisdom of one of the days in January is a quote from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and is as follows,”What is the soul? The soul is consciousness. It shines as the light within the heart.”

Adhering to a practice that sees God and our Self as the most subtle light within the heart – so subtle in fact that we don’t picture this Light so much as “suppose” it – this short quote obviously speaks to me. Indeed, it makes me smile.

Whatever your path, I hope it helps you to develop sufficiently so as to experience the inner Light which so subtle it can’t be seen, but only known.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Anahata Chakra, from Google Image search

Anahata Chakra, from Google Image search

A Sweet Girl

Taken from Google Image Search, "Stillness"

Taken from Google Image Search, “Stillness”

The last job I held was at a cancer treatment center and blood specialist. It was really rewarding work, although I stayed for only two years. While there, there was a woman who was my supervisor who is about as mixed a blessing as someone can be.

On one hand, I adore(d) her because she really does have a good heart and I think her commitment to being “traditional” is cute in some ways. She isn’t always the smartest worker, but she always works hard and cares about completing her assignments. She bakes THE BEST confectionary delights – no joke.

On the other hand, she is often immesnely frustrating to work for or with. All finances aside, she’s just about the sole reason for why I ever even left the clinic. I was really happy there, but just couldn’t put up with the manic-depressive way she managed sometimes. I won’t go too much into all that.

Her name is Pam. And one of her goals is to “be a sweet girl.”

I think the story is something like, her mother or grandmother or aunt charged her with this command when Pam was growing up. Pam keeps a post-it note on the front of one of her computer monitors reminding her to be a sweet girl.

I want to be a sweet girl, too. At my new job, in Pam’s memory and for my own subtle benefit, I now also keep a post-it note on the front of one of my computer monitors. Of course, because people sometimes frown on a 33 (almost) year old male reminding himself to be a sweet girl, my note is written in my first second language – German.

It’s interesting how all people can touch you and affect your life… and consequently your karmas. I know I can improve on being a sweet girl. Often I fail miserably. I don’t let it get to me, though – or at least I try not to. It’s infinitely more important to more pay attention, not to the times you’re anything except a sweet girl, but to picking yourself up and trying again for that sweetness.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Sivayogi

meditation-as-medicine

The mind is in itself the cause for one’s happiness and misery. That mind which is possessed of wisdom, manliness and cheer is a friend, while that which is otherwise is a foe.

The mind that is sullied by the passions of attachment and hatred gives rise to misery and several other painful experiences. Hence one should wash off these impurities of the mind with one’s own wisdom and manliness and make it crystal pure.

To get rid of human misery, it is the mind and not God that is to be pleased. Without purity of mind no salvation is possible.

Motionlessness of the mind is itself salvation, while its motion is worldly bondage. Get the mind absorbed in itself and it will then merge in ecstatic Bliss. That is indeed the cessation of all misery and the attainment of final beatitude.

Brahmananda Swami Sivayogi (1852-1929)
-As taken from Hindu Blog