Don’t Hatch

 

“When love shines supreme in the meditating heart, whatsoever it may touch is alchemized.” This is a quote taken from a piece written by Daaji and shared back in September of last year. You can read it here. I wanted to share this because it’s something I sometimes struggle with… I’m not saying I struggle with letting love shine or the other things mentioned in the post. Surely, some struggle is to be expected in the human life – maybe even a lot. Our path of Heartfulness also teaches that these struggles build character and experience, and when used properly they lead to an ever greater capacity to be emptied of our worst and filled with only subtle openness and divinity. That much is fine. Dandy even. An area that seems to be one of my sticking places is in the marriage of the “above” and the “below.”

My earliest years as a practicing Hindu brought to my spiritual arsenal a bag of tricks which are fantastic aids indeed for the one trying for self-evolution. I can tell you first-hand, dear reader, that there are “tantras, mantras, and mudras” which will bring a person benefit. (Of course, some of these also come with ample room for misuse and this has been well-documented in many cases.) My current meditation practice, which is now known globally as Heartfulness (prior, see SRCM, Sahaj Marg, etc…), is by far the simplest tool I currently possess and employ (and is also immensely effective) which does so well at helping to marry the mundane to the magical (the “above” and “below”). Daaji also wrote something mentioning the idea of an egg, broken from within. This imagery spoke to me.

Most people, at some time in their life, have seen a baby bird hatching from its egg. It usually goes something like this: The eggs begins to wobble a little or move on its own. Then perhaps the smallest of sounds can be heard from within. Faint scratching. Tiny movements. Then, after a little while the observer might see or hear a crack. Then another. Soon a tiny piece of the eggshell itself might fall from the structure and you’d be able to see in – or at least see a small bit of the life that’s inside. From there, the progress seems to move a bit faster. Maybe what happens next is that the existing cracks lengthen or widen a bit. Maybe more pieces are chipped off from the inside. We all know the end result: A broken egg and a hatchling experiencing new life outside the confines of that shell – the only existence it’d known prior to that moment.

I think there’s good wisdom here that anyone can learn from. Some lessons that I’ve taken from this include: The magical and the mundane are not different. There should be no struggle to marry them because they are inseparable. Chicks hatch from eggs millions of times every day – that’s as mundane as it gets. And yet, it’s wholly magical too because of the process itself. Also, no one would encourage the hatchling to stay within the shell indefinitely. Symbolically, we can see that indicates a stifled and unexpressed life but more literally it also means death. Anyone trying to convince the chick to stay inside the shell is doing harm and a chick that doesn’t make effort to break the shell itself is more than just lazy – it’s suicidal. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, there are many things expected of that new life. That life is an irrevocable part of a massive web connecting us all. It was formed inside the shell for the purpose of staying there only the shortest possible time needed for the minimum development required to break that shell and then subsequently to be an active player in the game of life. Anything short of that is adharma.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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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

From Staten Island

Dear ones,
We have laid the foundation for Heartfulness sufficiently so as to approach Sahaj Marg in a gradual and progressively deeper manner when it comes to the introduction of multitudes. We now need to execute well and build a good edifice. There is a need to make sure that there is less noise in the system and it is everyone’s responsibility to work quietly and together in true harmony.
The places we are serving, via U-Connect or C-Connect or any other Connect initiatives, now need to be consolidated. Let us revisit our efforts and see how to make them more effective. Let us take stock of our actions and inactions. Let us find out what has worked and what has not. Based on this, let us re-group, re-orient and double up the number of volunteers within the organizations we have been catering to, by identifying key seekers from within such organizations who can co-ordinate with us. Pay special attention to such individuals via interactions and special sittings.
As volunteers, we must become extra vigilant with our practice and style of communication. Let our mutual interactions amongst us become an example. Many organizations are so appreciative of our teamwork and the dedication of volunteers. I am sure the Great Master who says that all is counted in the ledger of Nature must be making a special note of sincere efforts in taking the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Movement to the next level. Let us further fine-tune our efforts and deliver with greater efficiency.
Let us resolve once again to deliver better than ever before.
With prayers to our beloved Master for His love and blessings.
Kamlesh

Holy Rut

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

I belong to a closed Facebook group that posts a lot of really interesting things that I might otherwise not see. I’m grateful for this and for the group, and a lot of the posts I’ve seen in it, but I feel like it’s also shown me something I suspect is terribly prevalent throughout humanity and am disappointed by – in fact, more than once I’ve considered leaving the group because of this thing (among others). This thing is our addiction to externality.

We love our rituals and religions. For those inclined toward suchery, a huge chunk of one’s identity can be placed into religious practices. For many, indeed most, this is a natural part of one’s development. There’s no harm in this. One, however, can become trapped in this and what eventually happens is that religion and its rituals stick around long after they’ve gone dead. To share a quote I placed on my Facebook page recently by Chariji, “In fact, all spiritual traditions speak of religion as the kindergarten through which we have to pass.”

Sri Parathasarathi Rajagopalachari, who comes from a Vaishnav family and is the third and current master of my Parampara / Sampradaya, has said a lot on this matter. He tells us that every religion in the world says the same thing, “Seek within,” but that we have mostly lost sight of this and that our rituals have instead become the aim. He also cautions us about becoming too religious saying, “Religion enforces an externalization of the mind in man’s search for God. Mysticism or spirituality internalizes the search and directs the mind to the heart of man where the search really should commence.” (These words and others are surprisingly “bhakt” considering the history of this lineage.) Beyond these words, he went on to say that he’s not suggesting religion is dead, but that it should instead evolve “like I evolve, you evolve, like my child evolves.”

While speaking to a friend about this, it was mentioned that there’s a time and place where religion and ritual are needed. I fully agree. Certainly, for each of us, there’s a time and place where we’re the most benefited from this. But I would assert that we still have to be on guard. People are often fools, after all. People are often asleep behind the wheel – as any study of the ego will reveal. And this is the Kali Yuga, a period of time when we’re most likely to become misguided. I personally have known and currently known a number of people who could be (and eventually will be) even “more” than they are because they refuse to budge in their growth. I think this is why I’ve ranted more than once about folks being lazy. We tend to find a rule book we like, and then get comfortable.

Sri Chariji Maharaj (Sri Parathasarathi Rajagopalachari) says where religion ends, spirituality begins, and where spirituality ends Reality begins. He goes on to say, “…and where Reality ends, then commences that stage of the ultimate existence which for the lack of better word he calls Bliss. Now it is clear from this that religion has to have a definite end in the pursuit of our goal.”

I don’t plan to cease adoration of my beloved Ganapati. In fact, here soon, I’ll be observing the monthly Sankashti which follows every full moon. Although I no longer am as steadfast as I once was, I’ll continue my japa sadhana. I’ll continue abstaining from meat and will still go to temple. These things, of course, are all religious observances for me (well, except for the vegetarianism) and although I don’t “need” most of them (hell, sometimes I don’t even want some of them), I’ll still enjoy them. My lesson here is that we can too easily end up identifying with and clinging to things that are meant eventually to be left behind. I fully believe that most humans linger behind in certain areas long after they should – long after they’re actually able to transcend. It’s like staying in kindergarten long after you have mastered your ABCs and 123s.

Aum Sri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Cupid Schmupid

A few days ago, on Facebook, a best of mine posted a mostly bitter status update that sounded like a moody teenager. He ranted about Valentine’s Day. He’s single and while he does very well without a “better half,” he would much rather have it. His post, in his own words, amounted to the sum of a very whiney “It’s a stupid holiday.” One person commented with something like, “Agreed! It’s just a stupid commercial holiday anyway.”

Umm… ALL holiday’s are commercial. Literally. Unless there’s a holiday that doesn’t involve you going to any store for any reason, it’s commercial. So, since commercialism is the ruin of all holidays let’s throw them all out, yeah? No. Regardless of the origin of any given holiday, or the degree of commercialism involved, each and every holiday is what you make it – and it’s also what you don’t make it. I see a strange parallel here to karma.

If for you, Christmas is about the birth of your Satguru (Jesus), then that should be your focus during that celebratory time. If, for you, Christmas means shopping … so be it. Although both approaches hold different value, neither approach is less valid. The same can be said about any holiday, including Valentine’s Day. Lamenting the apparent commercialism of a holiday simply implies that you have lost your own sight or that you sense you’re left behind by the progression of the holiday through time and culture – in which case I might suggest you re-evaluate what you actually think the holiday means to you, because something like this likely indicates you’re actual conflict is with yourself. All holidays undergo evolution just like religions and people and life in general.

In the world of phenomena, where we live and operate, anything that hopes to remain must be able to change. Shiva, the god of destruction, doesn’t destroy life, He allows for and encourages its continuance! Anything that is preserved as it was is stagnate and in the process of decline and death, or never possessed life. Change is a primary symptom of life and often indicates growth. Paradoxically, while we often equate change with destruction, nothing can exist if it doesn’t change, and the destruction we perceive is usually that of the subtle attachments we held for something that was never meant to last, or at least wasn’t really ours to be attached to. That which ceases to change – or at least seems to maintain – might seem preserved, and possibly for a short time it is, but there’s no actual power in this, and ultimately it becomes outdated, ineffective, and petrified – much like some people’s views of holidays.

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Life is about learning. No? From the lowest level of conscious life on this planet, learning is a must – and it’s a blessing. In life forms that are “below” the human level, consciousness of differing degrees is found. And, in many cases in direct proportion to the degree of consciousness, there are degrees of learning capability.

In virtually every sub-human existence, pain in some form is an absolutely necessary part of the learning process. 12-stepping addicts everywhere would agree that this is true in every instance, never mind sub-humans. Most of the animal kingdom operates on a majority instinct level, and learning happens as a matter of survival for the most part -either to avoid pain altogether, or to lessen current pain. When learning for survival provides an organism (or a population of organisms) enough of an “edge” in its existence, sometimes consciousness begins to expand. I have a feeling that this is a foundational element of nature’s evolution, and is also a huge part of why evolution is, typically and literally, painfully slow. In “A New Earth,” by Eckhart Tolle (a book everyone should read, at least once) this “blossoming” of consciousness was first evident in flowers. His words on this, which I think I recall coming early in the book, are very eloquent and powerful, and enlightening. (Through his own dedicated effort, Tolle is certainly a modern living Jnana Yogi. Believe it.) There are many sub-human forms of life on Earth that don’t learn ONLY in this way. Many mammals and some bird species (among an entire host of other life forms) are known to have “deeper” components to their lives. These components point to a level of consciousness much closer to that of humans, although these beings are still primarily governed by instictiveness.

Human life, on the other hand, has allowed its animalistic components to atrophy a bit in favor of a more developed consciousness. An unfortunate aspect of this trade is a simultaneous increase in ego, but that’s for another post. One of the biggest benefits of this swap, however, is the developed capacity for humans to learn without the aforementioned pain so often necessary for other animals. In truth, there are a number of animal species who have been discovered to have this capacity, too, but only in humans is this particular evolution of consciousness so well-developed and potentially (depending on the human individual) so finely tuned. Here, precisely, is where human consciousness has one of the greatest gifts. We can learn by the usual and common method of pain, but that mustn’t be the only way we learn. Indeed, we’re one of the only animals on the planet who are able to learn solely by observation, and we’re certainly the only organism on the planet to be able to learn so thoroughly in this way.

At this point, I’m recalling a common saying among my Nichiren Buddhist friends. I think it comes from the Daishonen’s sayings somewhere, but the idea is that through chanting we’re able to tap into “Myoho,”  and transmute our karmas into something more, thus elevating our life state. I’ve known these great and optimistic humanists to be fond of speaking about “turning poison into medicine.” To me, this points at even deeper component to the human existence. We’re not only in control of our learning, but we’re responsible for it.

As we find ourselves in the middle of the yearly holiday season, many of us would do well to take a look at our “poisons” and search how we might turn them into medicines for our betterment. A poison might be defined, superficially, as anything that seems to rob us of happiness. Anyone who’s followed my writing at all, might be aware of how deeply I adore my parents. For me personally, few things in my current existence are likely to be as painful (…potentially poisonous…) as the eventual death of either of my parents. Certainly, I anticipate very few things with as much dread and immense pre-emptive sorrow as either of these two events.

With this in mind, my heart and thoughts go out to anyone who’s lost a parent, and faced such (potential) poison. Sadly, I’m able to list a number of acquaintances who fall into this group, from this year alone. For this post, and for sake of a wonderful example, I’d like to mention someone who is perhaps surprisingly, and definitely increasingly dear to me. And that’s my mom’s brother’s wife, Wendy. What I know about Wendy tells me that she’s a truly great human. Without spilling everything about her, I can surely say that she loves her family and friends and is loyal to them. She works hard in her career, like so many others. She does her best to enjoy life. And she fights her battles as best she’s able and keeps moving, knowing she has to be strong for the next. One of these battles, recently, was the loss of her own mother.

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Three days from now will be Wendy’s first Christmas holiday without her mother. Without a doubt this season will be a trying time for her. Certainly, Wendy has experienced ups and downs in her time managing her grief. You can find her story about the poison she faced here.

One thing I’ve noticed is that she’s consistently able to “turn poison into medicine.” She could easily be paralyzed by her loss. I know I would be. She didn’t have much time at all to prepare for the poison she was about to face. Instead, she continues moving forward. She still works. She still loves her family and friends. And she’s investing more of her time in pruning her internal landscape in very practical and hopefully effective ways, which will be the surest sign that the poison she’s experienced has been transmuted into very powerful medicine.

As humans, we don’t need pain to learn. Ideally, we’d be gifted with both the foresight and the time to prepare and learn on our own so that the Universe and our karmas don’t have to facilitate this learning for us. For those of us, like Wendy, who aren’t allotted ample time for preparing for what we don’t want to come, it’s my hope that we can at least enter into such unfortunate experiences with a fully human awareness and, like Wendy, with the capacity to take that experience and turn its poison into our medicine.

As this year and holiday season comes to a close, my prayer is that your awareness and mine will expand and cause our hearts to swell. Realize what an incredible boon you have, being born a human. What an immense opportunity has been awarded to you to assume the responsibility for your own growth. Face the poison in your life, and let the divine with you change it into medicine for your betterment and healing.

In the coming year, all the grace that is mine to give I gladly forward on to you.

Namaste