HuffPost, Y’all

Daaji, the “global guide” for Heartfulness and Sahaj Marg, now has a regular blog postings at the HuffPost Healthy Living site. You can find it by clicking here. The first post you’ll see here is that Daaji discusses “How to Put Your Heart Into Living” and breaks that approach up into ideas dealing with “How do we compromise our intrinsic good?” “How does the heart speak?” “Easing the burden: the play of heart and mind” and “How to integrate the heart and mind?”

Before diving into these areas of discussion, Daaji gives a few examples of when ignoring the heart and its connection to the brain lead us awry. “There are many issues at play. The most powerful arise when we ignore the intrinsic goodness and the intrinsic peace that exist in all of us,” he says, to gently remind us of what Eastern Dharmas have told us for many thousands of years and which is a trademark difference between spiritual paths originating in the East versus those from the Middle East or West.

When discussing the usual compromise of intrinsic goodness experienced by each of us, Daaji rightly points out that the whole mess begins with us labeling things and experiences and then being caught between these labels of our own making. Here in the USA, that is very apparent – and something about which we’re in deep denial. Regardless of the context – whether political, religious, sexual, economic, you name it – we do nothing but label and categorize things and experiences and then find ourselves caught because we’re so buried in self-created madness that we lose the right ability of discernment.

The first thing shared with us about how the heart speaks is that which is really common sense, but which most people gloss over: When we do what we ought to the heart is at peace and is silent, but when the opposite is true the heart protests! All of this hinges on simplicity and being in tune with Nature – relating back directly to the Ten Maxims.

The heart and mind, Daaji says, are always interconnected and when mindfulness and heartfulness are in perfect synchronicity they function as one and purpose in life is experienced and realized.

In closing we focus on integration – what Sahaj Marg and Heartfulness are really all about. Daaji mentions the need for observing “inner weather” – not too far off from the many times I’ve mentioned here about tending to one’s inner landscape or inner garden. We learn to still the mind, connect with and through the heart and find ourselves evolving and as Daaji pointed out, “… we steer through life wisely, steadfastly, sans regrets.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shri Gurubhyo Namaha |Aum Shanti

Advertisement

Daaji

Kamlesh D. Patel ( Daaji )

Kamlesh D. Patel ( Daaji )

 

Each lineage of wisdom has a succession of those individuals who are tasked with passing the wisdom. These same people are also responsible for the evolution of the path. Sometimes this means taking things in a new direction and sometimes this means buckling down and securing the wisdom against changes. When I was a teen I went to a church that, in one particular hallway has portraits hanging of each of the church’s pastors, in order of succession, going back to the founding and building. In Hinduism and other eastern traditions, this traceable line of gurus might lead backwards in time to a major historical figure or perhaps even a mythological figure. To go back to the example of the church from my youth, it would be like the hall of pastors having portraits of each pastor, in successive order, going back to (and including) figures like Martin Luther and Jesus of Nazareth.

In the lineage of my path, we focus on the modern-most four gurus. We do trace back to sage Patanjali (from around 400 C.E.), but our most recent four gurus only date as far back as the century before last. Starting with the earliest of these four one encounters Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur. He was known as Lalaji. I’m not sure I know why he was called Lalaji. After him came Shri Ram Chandra of Fateghar, who was known as Babuji. I think, and I might be wrong, he was called Babuji because of the name of his professional employment (Babu means something like “Clerk” in his mother language). After Babuji, there came Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari. We called him Chariji, and I think it seems obvious that this affectionate name came from the tail end of his last name. Chariji dropped his body in December of 2014 and his successor, which was announced a good while before Chariji’s passing, is Kamlesh D. Patel.

Kamlesh, almost from the very beginning of his time as our spiritual leader, discouraged us from calling him “Master” as the ones before him were often called. (To be very clear: This usage of the word master is in reference not to dominion over devotees, but rather to dominion over his own self.) Practically immediately, Kamlesh simultaneously discouraged us from calling him Master while still giving space for abhyasis whose minds needed that, to do that. For a period of time, up until quite recently, there seemed to be a middle ground reached in regard to how he was called by us. Normally, one would hear Kamleshji or Kamlesh-bhai … either understood as expressions of affection as well as respect, and still recognizing that he came from where we currently stand. The feeling of these is one of kinship or relation and although the one does end in the same -ji as the earlier gurus (Lalaji, Babuji, Chariji), Kamleshji or Kamlesh-bhai both feel more cumbersome than the names we used with the earlier gurus.

Very recently, however, it would appear as though a new choice is on the table for Kamlesh-bhai. That new appellation is Daaji. To be quite honest, I’m not sure when this came about – though I did learn tonight at meditation that it’s a name he’s used for quite a while already and which children apparently started. I receive lots of emails from a number of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness sources and I don’t recall reading anything official about a name change – maybe I missed it somewhere in the mix.

Immediately, given what experience I have with Indian languages, I thought it sounded like an affectionate form of calling someone “grandfather.” In researching this a little, I found that in Gujurati, Hindi, and Punjabi the word for grandfather is “daadaa.” (pronounced daah-daah) Kamlesh was born in Gujurat, India – so it could make sense that “daaji” is a combination of daadaa and the suffix -ji, which we use to express deep respect. However, tonight at meditation I also learned that daaji is a term of respect and endearment for the younger brother of one’s father. In a way this feels like a nod to Chariji.

I think Daaji is a wonderful next step in how we’re calling our guruji. It flows easily within the mouth. It’s simple, like nature (See our Maxims). And it seems more in line with names used by the earlier gurus. And so we have it – Daaji. You can learn more from him by clicking here.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

I’m sorry

It’s been said so many times that the best way to learn is to teach. I experienced this first-hand as a teen when I was “preaching” to Sunday school kids and had to prepare lessons for that and also a little while after that when I was in high school and taught German. You have to be prepared for what you want to communicate in the teaching as well as any potential exceptions to the lesson and any questions you might encounter from students.

In my own life, I’ve been a teacher to many – both in the sense that I mentioned before wherein I was physically standing before a type of audience for the purpose of imparting knowledge and also as a kind of “life teacher.” Grown-ups, young people, friends, family, and strangers alike have come to be for advice. This isn’t bragging, it’s just a fact. People have said to me that they perceive me to be someone who “has it together” and it creates a sense of trust. I’m flattered and honored to help anyone in any way I’m able and if all they need is advice then my work has been made easy. But this comes with a responsibility and one that I think I’ve failed at miserably.

I’ll back up a bit and share some of a story that was told to me a few weeks ago during a dinner with a prefect. We’d met for dinner for what I thought was strictly business – some questions and loose ends that she and I needed to review and try to nail down. As I should have expected, our conversation steered itself wherever it would and we talked about lots more than anticipated, some of which might be shared here later down the road. At one point she shared with me a couple experiences of hers from time when she was in the presence of our last guru, Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (Chariji). I’m probably remembering the exact details wrong, but in one of the stories, a meal was being shared with those present including herself, Chariji, and a number of other prefects from different nations. The story meandered a bit but over the course of the dinner, as I understood, the different nations as they were represented at the table were focusing quite intensely on each other’s flaws or weaknesses… or at least this was part of the conversation… and I think it even started with talk about Americans.

Chariji was an active part of the discussion and, as any true teacher would be, played the role of a mirror to those engaged. As those present were being taught a very tough lesson about judging and finger-pointing (and who knows what else) the prefect telling me the story said that her own experience of the moment was of the energy being quite intense and heavy feeling. With that intensity, she began to feel herself wilt – like some kind of flower in the noon hour heat of Indiana’s very humid summer. Being an advanced soul himself, Chariji was able to sense this response in her. As he was sitting right next to her, he turned to her and gently said, “I’m sorry.”

There was another story she told me also involving being in his presence and him, at one point, saying to her, “I’m sorry.” This made me cry right then. I made an attempt to bring our dinner to a quick close, but she (seeing my upset) wouldn’t have it and insisted I sit back down and talk to her. She hadn’t even realized what a deep message she’d given me. This kind of wisdom is truly dark and wondrous and I wasn’t expecting it. Our guru’s awareness was so keen that he was able to sense her subtle response to the exchange taking place. That’s a sensitivity that I think I have yet to hone – which, to me, feel dangerous.

I wept at our dinner because instantly, as if Chariji were there to transmit the lesson himself, I was very aware of lessons I’ve given to others which were probably very tough to swallow. Lots of medicines are tough to choke down and that doesn’t in any way mean they aren’t the right medicine or that they aren’t what’s needed to cure the ailment in question. All of that, more than anything else, really speaks to the point in personal evolution the student is in at the time. But there’s a certain absence of compassion or … something … when a teacher knows the lesson is tough (as I have known some of my lessons are tough) and keeps pushing the student. Thinking about all the times my lessons have been tough for the students to internalize and realize and how I’ve continued to push … just about makes me sick to my stomach. It feels so irresponsible.

Recently, in Minnesota, I was telling a friend and his wife about this. Stupidly, I got kind of choked up while telling it – I really just can’t even believe myself sometimes. They were so understanding. My husband was in the car then, too, and I could see it in his eyes. Probably because he’s been a student a few times, himself. Even he could see the value in a teacher who says, “I’m sorry.” My friend and his wife seemed very understanding. They were quick to try to soothe my feelings. They reminded me that it’s okay. That my manner of giving wisdom is just my own and there’s nothing wrong with it. I think boot camp was mentioned, which makes me smile a little even now – I will definitely put someone through boot camp. They reassured me that even teachers are growing and evolving.

This is challenging for someone like me to accept – not because of the idea that I have more growing and learning to do, but because of the realization that my actions could be perceived as careless. Worse yet is that I’m not certain how to move beyond that. I only know to trust my evolution.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Come Correct

I pull inspiration from many sources. These various sources are a big part of how I became who I am and also who I am becoming. On Guru Purnima each year, I make an attempt to celebrate and honor all the teachers I’ve benefited from – the list usually includes my parents, traditional gurus (some with bajillions of followers), and even drag queens (drag nuns, to be precise). Beyond the main or big teachers in my life, there are those certainly are teachers but perhaps on a lesser scale. This group also includes drag nuns, as well as family and friends, etc… Someone who falls in this second category is a blogger who is known as Maria Wirth.

She’s a German woman living in India and she’s about the only other blogger I know and read who writes posts as long as some of mine are. This is a good thing, and a bad thing. When you’re as long-winded as we are you can be sure that the only people actually reading what you publish are those who value your words and really want to read them. It seems like everyone else just gives up and stays away. I have found Maria to be very balanced and experienced and patient in life. Her perspective and mine often mirror each other (at least insofar as what she has written) and I can relate to many of her opinions.

Something she wrote about not long ago was political correctness in speech. The post, which I encourage you to read for yourself, can be accessed by clicking here. It starts with her recounting a conversation she was a part of in which she said something that kind of made others raise their eyebrows. (Mind you, she knows what she’s talking about in the post – I can verify that.) Shortly after her words, a friend, someone else who was also in the conversation, told Maria that she agreed with Maria’s words but was too scared to say them. Why was she scared? Because it was politically incorrect to say what Maria did. (Side Note: There are many bigoted people around who spout their nonsense and then when they catch hell for it claim that they are victims of nothing more than saying something unpopular. That’s not the case here – although it is something Maria addresses, which is why you should spend the time reading the post I linked you to!)

I related instantly. In my own life, it’s usually only I who says the things I say – and certainly only I who says them in the way I do. I think my life’s equivalent of the what the friend said to Maria is that people here say I can get away with what I say and how I say it because I’m me…. like there’s something fancy about my Joshua-ness. I’ll be among the first to admit that my Joshua-ness is unique. It should be, in the same way that your you-ness should be unique. Plus, I’ve worked really REALLY hard in my life thus far not just to evolve into who I am but to continue that evolution as necessary and even more importantly to be comfortable and secure in that process as well as the results.

But so what? Me being me doesn’t afford me any additional sparkle over anyone else in regard to speaking honest and sometimes blunt truth. The same goes for Maria and, like Maria, I’d not say something for the sake of expressing judgement. Most of the time calling a spade a spade carries no inherent judgement. We’re so used to assuming there’s something about being a spade that is bad that when a spade is called a spade we interpret that – quite wrongly! – as judgement or to be offensive. This is ridiculous because it only highlights the judgement in our own heart – and then we ignorantly mistake it to be judgement coming in the words of the person calling the spade a spade. So ridiculous. We really are sometimes asleep behind the wheel.

It’s worth looking inward to discover and assess why we open our mouths in the ways we do – and more importantly, why we don’t.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Billdings Deestroied

PERKINS 1

 

 

PERKINS 2

 

 

The two pics above are of pretty much the same thing – the demolition site of what once was a Perkins restaurant. I’m writing about this because it’s the first place my husband and I exchanged I-Love-Yous. In fact, not far at all from this location is the place we met for our first date. (Marsh parking lot – we went to the far west side of Indy to a Mexican restuarant for dinner that night.) I couldn’t tell you how many times we ate at this Perkins, but it wasn’t often. We would go there only occasionally with friends or something… the last time I was there, I went alone and had quite an interaction with a homeless man. Regardless of how much or how little we went to that place to eat, it would always stand out in my mind because of that one dinner we shared.

We were both so young – in our early 20s! Both of us were skinnier and both of us had far longer hair and we were both far more naive and emotional, and unexpectedly in love. I think neither of us expected to feel toward the other the way we did. But we went with it. I recall meeting him in the parking lot that night – the weather was warm so it had to have at least been autumn but was probably early summer. It was late enough that the sky had already darkened – which for Indiana spring / summer / autumn means after 8:30pm. We parked next to each other and when he got out of his car he held a small stuffed animal and a rose as presents for me. I couldn’t have cared less about the stuffed animal, but flowers have been / are / always will be my favorite gift to receive. I remember thinking it was so sweet of him… I had no idea that these gifts were a sign of how our dinner would go.

We were seated, and I think we had ordered, and were sitting talking to each other while holding hands across the table – something we’re not likely to do now (you tend to outgrow that kind of juvenile stuff as you age together. It’s still nice and fun but feels less necessary once you know the other isn’t at risk to run away). Holding my hands across the table, he was suddenly quite nervous. He was so timid and kinda quiet and said, “I love you.”

And I froze.

And then he cried. Before I knew it, I had upset him. Without making a huge scene, he cried openly right there and made it clear, “I said it because thought you would say it, too!” Seeing pain in others has always been jarring to me and made for a quick call to attention. I snapped out of my frozen state and returned with, “I love you, too” and then tried to explain why my response was tardy. Things were smoothed out, the night moved on and so did our lives together.

As long as I live, all dementia and Alzheimer’s aside, I’ll always remember that night and that Perkins location. My ex and I were together for 7 years and he was my first (and only other) real relationship and I couldn’t tell you the how or when of our first I-Love-You. But I’ll never forget that evening with Wayne. It’s quite an impression I carry.

Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg is a meditation practice which is supplemented by a “cleaning” practice. Our cleaning and meditation do much for removing impressions that are sticking around long after they should. To be clear, removing burdensome impressions doesn’t mean forgetting. Events in our lives (inclusive of the words and sounds and sights and feelings, etc… that make up those events) are never necessarily good or bad, but we categorize them as good or bad based on our temperament and outlook and other influences like culture and language and religion. Because of those influences, and the resultant categories we create in our minds, we carry impressions. And so, dinner with my husband isn’t just that – even though it really is JUST that. Because of the aforementioned influence, I assign a category and lots of associated importance or … whatever … to something that simply and naturally just is. The real tragedy here is that letting something be as it is is far more beautiful than any significance our minds and concoct.

So we make mountains out of molehills and, as you can understand, mountains are far tougher to carry – thus our store of samskaric impressions. To further illustrate this, there’s a story about a woman and two Buddhist monks. The two monks were traveling by foot when they came to a stream or river where a woman was fretting about crossing. She wasn’t able to cross the water … for some reason I now forget – maybe because she didn’t want her clothes to get wet or something. So one of the monks picked her up and carried her over the water, to the other side. The two monks then continued their journey. Some miles down the road, the second monk couldn’t keep it in anymore and verbally lashed out at the first monk – scolding him for his nerve to touch a woman, let alone carry her, and yelled at him for compromising his monkhood at the risk of lust, breaking vows, etc… To all of this, the first monk (who had carried the woman) responded simply with,”Brother, are you still carrying that woman? I put her down miles ago!”

I don’t need that Perkins location to remain standing for my husband’s love to be real or valid, or nor the same for my love of him. But, quite ridiculously, there’s a part of me that feels offended at the demolition. That’s an impression that needs to go and, thankfully,  through my Heartfulness practice of meditation and cleaning I’ll eventually be successful in releasing that impression. After all, any love that is stuck to a landmark from 12 years ago is a dead love, and no love I care for.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

9pm Sitting

A couple days ago, I went to the home of local prefects for our mid-week meditation group / satsangh. The group was small – myself, the two who own the home we were meeting in, a recently-married couple who met through satsangh (I think) and who gifted me a lovely composite photo of all four of the Heartfulness gurus (my first and currently only picture of the newest guru in our parampara / sampradaya), and another woman.

As usual, the meditation was quite nice and exactly what I needed. In fact, it was more than I hoped for. I went so very deep that the gentle call at the end of the meditation, which is usual for us, “That’s all” struck me as a thunderous kind of boom and brought quite a jolt. Sometimes you fall asleep in meditation. Sometimes you simply go so deep that you’re awareness seems to stop labeling or identifying anything and you are only that Observer – which can’t quite name what is being observed. And sometimes you remain aware of your thoughts and can see them coming and going and you can almost literally feel the process of thought formation and movement – but as something that is distinct from you, the Observer. I had, at that time, experienced the separation of Me from my thoughts and basked in that for a short while before sinking even deeper and coming closer to dhyanam. As total peace was really beginning to encompass me I heard, “That’s all” and while I’d not lost total awareness of body consciousness, I was far enough gone that the gentle call to end the meditation almost knocked me out of my chair.

Once the meditation group had dispersed, I stuck around for a brief chat with a prefect who has been helping to coordinate efforts with the local Hindu temple (www.htci.org) and also the downtown Indianapolis campus of IUPUI. I’m happy to be helping to create flyers that can be distributed and posted in those places which will help others learn of Heartfulness meditation. This kind of seva is overdue for me and is something I’ve sought for a while.

Normally, the night would wrap up after the evening meditation but there was not only the meeting but also our current guru, Kamlesh-ji or Kamlesh-bhai was set to give a global sitting at 21:00 local time here, and which I think was to be around 08:00 locally for India. The sitting here concluded after roughly 45 minutes and was really something else. It struck me that the sittings of the Masters have their own flavors. When the evening sitting was over, I mentioned briefly that the difference between Kamlesh-ji and Chari-ji (the guru before him) is like the difference between a Tootsie Pop and a Blow Pop. Both are from the same source. Both have roughly the same shape, which is somewhat unique. Both carry an inner sweetness which is different and yet very much the same. That sweetness is, of course, the Divine Current experienced in our meditation.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Bad Words

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

A short time ago, a friend and I were talking about bad language. Swear words. I use them often. There’s a “study” that makes rounds on Facebook every once in a while that apparently legitimately indicates that people who swear regularly are statistically more honest. One of my favorite things about my maternal grandmother is her swearing ability. Truly, par excellence. She can fit 6 swear words into a 4-word sentence without violating any rules of grammar. Swear words are descriptive in practically artistic ways. I speak English and much German and I’ve encountered swear words in French and Gaelic and I’ve noticed that calling someone a certain swear word in one language doesn’t necessarily translate to the same in another language. I could provide you examples, but I won’t.

Why won’t I? Because it’s likely – even very likely – that you are already programmed to think swear words are really and truly bad words. So many people have believed this that you could say there’s an alternate vocab list that can be used instead and which let’s the user off the profanity hook. For instance, if I say darn or shoot then you probably wouldn’t flinch. You know exactly what I’m meaning to say, but for some stupid reason there’s a difference in your head between shoot and shit, darn and damn. Trust me, there isn’t really.

But we typically think there is, because of impressions we carry. Those impressions can go quite deep – so deep we’re no longer aware of how they influence us. It’s said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Pulling a gun’s trigger is pulling a gun’s trigger. If you’re intending to hit a “bad guy” but instead hit and kill an innocent bystander – does that change anything about you firing the gun? Nope. You intended to hit a person and so you fired a gun. Sorry about your bad aim and that innocent’s unfortunate karma, but nothing changes in that situation just because you intended a different target.

When I was a teenager I had a friend – a sweet Christian girl named Stephanie who only a month or so ago died of cancer. She always wore glitter eye shadow. Always. If anyone was ever the human equivalent of a Care Bear, Stephanie was. (That’s not a jab at her). She was kind and sweet and nearly always smiling. And when she stubbed her toe or someone made her mad she would say, “PINEAPPLE!” – and she said it with gusto! For any situation where I might say shit or damn or drop the f-bomb, Stephanie would use the word, pineapple. Similarly, I’ve heard people say things like, “Bananas!” or “Fudge!” When I was growing up and yet living at home, my brothers and I weren’t allowed to say “freakin'” because, as my mom once made very VERY clear to me, “That’s about as close to FUCK as you can get!”

You see? There’s no difference. If I say fudge and I mean fudge, then I’m saying fudge. Simple. Equally as simple, and yet somehow twisted among the impressions we carry regarding this, if I say fudge and I mean fuck – I’m still truly just saying fuck. You can argue that there’s a difference and that saying fudge when you mean to employ the f-bomb is somehow better, but the truth is that sugar-coated poop is still poop.

The programming or impressions that most of us carry regarding this are something that should be managed in a healthy and effective manner. Sometimes, when I’m engaged in my Heartfulness meditation practice, things like this surface and knock my socks off. Sometimes you don’t realize how frankly ridiculous you’ve been until you enable yourself to step aside briefly and see from a different angle, as the Observer. Without this, it’s like walking across a dirty floor time after time and always having dirty feet as a result. We come to recognize dirty feet as a norm, but shouldn’t. It’s good – and necessary – to stir that dirt up and get it off the floor so that our feet can become, and stay, clean.

In our meditation practice there’s a cleaning that happens. A lightening of these sorts of burdens. In fact, this is a significant part of an individual’s process of self-evolution and integration. It’s healthy. In order for us to move forward and become a better Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Atheist or Manager or Cashier or Mom or Dad or Prostitute we need to take a look at these things that are weighing us down unnecessarily and discard them as the lunacy they are.

Another bit of dirt clinging to the bottom of your foot and which you might want to look at is the reaction you had when I mentioned becoming a better prostitute. Thanks for reading.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti