Once You Know Better

 

“I still think 24…”

This was one of the final responses in a string of comments I was part of that spawned from a math word problem. People HATE word problems. In all fairness, I think virtually every word problem I’ve come across since school ended for me, and half of them while I was in school, hinged not so much on the numbers in the sentences but on understanding the words of the sentences themselves. Word problems are the devil, to be sure, and deficient understanding of grammar and word meaning will only help that devil catch you.

It would be one thing if word problems were more about communicating numbers through words and making sure the reader could still conclude the correct math, but instead they seem to be more about presenting a frustrating riddle. And I hate riddles. I know some people use them in interviews or tackle riddles for fun, but to me they hardly have value beyond determining just how long someone is willing to hit their head against a wall… And since I don’t like hitting my head against walls, I don’t do riddles. But I digress.

Word (math) problems, like riddles, are terrible beasts.

In the word problem I started off mentioning, there was some back and forth and differing answers. Some said the answer is 24 (as in the quote earlier). Some said 21. Some said 15, I think. My answer, as well as the answer of a few others, was 5. This happens to be the correct answer and those of us who answered correctly arrived at that answer through the problem’s tricky words. After there had been plenty of back and forth and it seemed clear that some feelings were being hurt (as is often the case when things seem so open to interpretation), I decided to turn to the Internet for a concrete solution. After poking around online I found that, indeed, 5 is the correct, not-open-to-interpretation answer as verified by the words and the resultant math. It might seem cold and harsh but there generally can be only one correct answer to a math problem (certainly some exclusions apply). All others are factually wrong. And that’s the difference between opinion and fact… In this case, the difference manifests between words and numbers associated with those words. After I presented the actual, factual answer to the word problem there was one person who responded with the aforementioned quote, “I still think 24…”

I think it’s totally fine to debate words using words. It’s healthy to discuss word meaning and word usage. Knowing word meaning and word usage is critical – in fact, you can’t even learn higher things like some forms of math without using words. That’s how important and powerful words are. Like Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon who is the essential gatekeeper and without whom it is said hardly anything is even possible, without words and their correct understanding and employment – you simply get stuck awfully fast.  Ugh… and I might have digressed again!

The point I’m trying to make is that, with many things, you CAN know the hard truth because it exists. Yes, much can be open to interpretation – but all that means is that the concrete answer might not be simply black or white, but rather falls somewhere in the large gray area in between. But it’s no less concrete or sure. When we think of things being black or white we misunderstand that – we liken it to being cut-n-dry. While they do imply certain cut-n-dry-ness, black and white are primarily just opposites. Extremes, purely in relation to each other. To say something sits in the large gray in-between might SOUND like it’s less certain and more open to wiggle room and interpretation, but it isn’t necessarily. It’s just that it’s simply not a polar opposite to something else. (This does come with a little wiggle room in some cases and would be when a statement like “Just because you’re right doesn’t mean I’m wrong” could apply. Still, that has no actual bearing on the truth of whatever the matter is.)

And yes, everyone is STILL entitled to whatever opinion they choose to carry. But, as already stated, none of that will ever change the truth of anything. Solid or sure truths are sometimes called facts. If your opinion differs from a fact – that’s fine and dandy. But you’re simply incorrect. You’re wrong. At and that point, you being incorrect is also a fact and not open to interpretation. Once you come to know better (once you’re presented with actual and true information which you maybe didn’t know beforehand and you are told that there IS a fact which applies to the situation — and that your willful opinion differs from that fact), then you’re choosing to be wrong and anyone else who also knows better will probably think you’re a fool.

I think most people understand this on at least a basic level. Where things really start going awry is when people seem to have a hard time understanding that and then also think that opinions weigh as much as fact. They. Do. Not. It’s each person’s important responsibility to first understand the difference between fact and opinion and then to decide if they would like to evolve their opinion to match the truth more closely, or else risk looking like a fool. The world needs no more fools than it already has. Let us each be responsible where we can be and be open to truth.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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The Real Thing

 

Babuji has masterfully done it all.

“If you read Babuji Maharaj’s diary entries dated 25 December 1947, first Lalaji Maharaj communicates about brahmarandra or bhanwar gupha, and on the same day Swami Vivekananda communicates about the seven rings of splendor in the Central Region. Now when you ask, ‘Where is bhanwar gupha?’ people say it is at the back of the head. They also say that the Central Region is at the back. There is nothing wrong with saying that, as it is also correct. But all these things are the reflection of the Real Thing which is in the heart. Actual bhanwar gupha is in the heart between points A and B. That hint is there in the text. And the seven rings are there in the heart, reflecting seven rings of splendor echoing at the back of the head. Echoing means that it is not the real thing; the real sound is in the heart. So, you see the feeling is felt somewhere but actually comes from another place.”

Daaji then commented on the masterful discovery of points A and B by Babuji Maharaj, and how the whole Hierarchy was so pleased about this discovery. “The research of Babuji Maharaj on point A and point B is really great. When he was going to Lakhimpur-Kheri by bus, he stumbled upon this discovery that if a person can meditate on point A and clean point B, all the passionate tendencies can be removed. So, they were dancing with joy in the Brighter World, you see. What a discovery! Then Lalaji ordered, ‘Ailan kiya jaye or jo jo log Shahjahanpur ke bahar hain unko khat likha jai ki har shaksh ko point A per dhayn karna padega, uspe murakba kiya jae aur jo shaksh nahi karega unki jimmedari sae ham alhada ho jayenge,’ meaning, ‘May this be announced, and all those who are outside Shahjahanpur be informed by letter, that every person should meditate on point A. For those who do not practise this, we will detach ourselves from their responsibility.’ He clearly said that we will not assume the responsibility for individuals who do not do these practices on these two points, A and B.”

 

(From Google Image search)

 

Daaji then went on to explain the true significance and extent of action of points A and B. “The extent to which points A and B can expand is limitless. It is not just about passion; it is all about superconsciousness. To remove passion is a very limited view. This is a fact. Once you remove passion, then points A and B expand limitlessly. How can there be the possibility of superconsciousness while entertaining passionate thoughts? To what extent can it expand and what depth does it have? To give you a small example, imagine when a boat is shattered to such an extent in the ocean that you cannot find even one plank of timber of it; so much of annihilation is possible. But because of desires, passion, which are concentrated at A and B, they work like a black hole, with tremendous vacuum power, holding our consciousness. Once you release those desires and passion, absolute expansion ‘happens’ as a natural consequence. That is why we do cleaning of point B and meditation at point A. It is not because of passion. The main thing is superconsciousness.”

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Discriminative Ability

While talking to a group of abhyasis at his apartment, the discussion veered towards the large number of electronic gadgets we use and our continuous attachment to them. Daaji explained the following point: “How can we expect people to exhibit discrimination when the mind is never free for vital aspects of life, to contemplate, to reflect? What do we do when we are free? We have options like television, video games, telephone chats, movies, etc. When we are occupied all the time with these options, we do not even capture a thought, what to say of reflection and contemplation. Conclusions need to be based on observations, but nowadays conclusions are based on impulse. Any form of addiction is a problem for us. These electronic gadgets are an addiction. Anything which takes us outward is an addiction. How can there be pratyahara when the mind is always outward bound?”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

No God, Mmmmkay?

 

A lot of people assume. And a lot of assuming people assume a lot. It’s really quite a mess and easily escalates itself into ever-bigger scenarios. This happens all through society (all societies) in many ways, not even just when dealing with assumptions. I think one area where this happens a lot is spirituality. People make so many assumptions. Some assumptions might be that spirituality is froo-frooey or only for those with their heads in the clouds. but that’s not necessarily the case. Some forms of spirituality are actually quite mundane and even scientific in their approach. Some spirituality is perfectly suited to those who don’t believe in magic at all.

 

Q: In everyday life, I meet people who do not accept that there is a soul. They don’t feel they have a soul. What can I tell them?

Daaji: It’s okay. You don’t have to convince them, and there is no need to get into an argument. Rather you can say, “Let us not call this entity a soul, or a causal body. Let us instead call it something that gives support to the whole system or life.” It is something that manifests at the moment of birth, and if at that moment the baby does not cry, the doctor taps the baby on the back to stimulate the breathing. If the baby still does not start crying it means that the life force has not come along. So that life force is still along with us now, until one day, in its wisdom, it decides to kick the bucket and say, ‘Okay, I am going now.’

The soul won’t realise that it has gone. It won’t find any difference at all, nor will it be shocked. The soul will see that everything is in order. It is only the people left behind here who are shocked: “Oh, what happened to her?” So you can call it the life force, or you can give any name to it. Something is there which keeps us going until we take the last breath. What is it? Put a question to them? Sometimes I joke when people say, “Why should I meditate on Divine Light, if I don’t believe in God?” So I tell them, “The idea is to keep your thought on something, so you might as well put it on the Godly presence in your heart.”

“But I don’t believe in God.”

So I tell them, “All right, then meditate on no God in your heart.” The main thing is not to fight with them. You can say, “I agree with you, but still let’s meditate.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Alison

 

Tonight my husband and I went to Ikea to do some light shopping (he wants some new furniture for his He-Man room) and while there we decided to get dinner. This visit to the store was probably the fifth time I’ve been since it opened in late 2017 and was the first time I didn’t have to park a football field away or sift through crowds to get through the place or wait in long lines at the cafeteria or checkout.

While eating, a certain song started playing over the Ikea store’s sound system. It was a Wild Cherry song called, “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” It’s a song I hardly ever hear and which actually predates me by four years. At the risk of sounding like a old man, it reminds me of a time when pop stars had to possess far more quality than they seem to need now. Back then, artists didn’t really have anything in the way of voice scrubbing or synthesizers to “fake” music. But that’s neither here nor there.

At first when the music came on and my mind picked up on it I boogied a little in my seat while biting into my meal. I imagined how I might dance to the song, were I to stand from the dinner table. While seeing myself dance around before my mind’s eye, I was soon joined by an unexpected guest. Her name was Alison. It’s not Alison anymore because she’s dead. Her name is either Nothing or else perhaps she’s transmigrated, taken a new human body, and been born again as someone else with a new name. Before Alison died last time, she worked where I do. I never really interacted with her. In fact, I’m not really sure what she did for the company aside from thinking I remember hearing that she was in our legal department. I think she was a smoker and I think that’s what killed her, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of, though, and it’s the reason Alison joined me for a dinnertime dance tonight, is that she LOVED to dance. She’d dance with anybody or she’d dance by herself. I know this only because the one real memory I have of Alison is from one company holiday party. The Wild Cherry song came on and for a few minutes Alison was the only person on the dance floor, utterly unaffected by that fact. She had shoulder-length, fine, bleach blonde hair and when she danced she would do a certain movement with her head and neck so as to cause her hair to fly a bit. Alison wasn’t a tiny gal by any means and I think that limited her range of possible dance moves. Her generation, the one before mine, also seemed to be fonder of more generalized ways of dancing. You just got out there and moved. You might do a certain, specific dance move sometimes but a lot of what I’ve seen is just good ole rug cutting. Just get out there and jam! Alison would get out there and shuffle her butt all over the place!

(Back at Ikea) While the song was playing still, and when I found a quick second to stop dancing with Alison, I returned to the dinner table and mentioned her to my husband. He worked there even before me and he was well aware of Alison and her “prowess” on the dance floor. His face lit up a little when I mentioned the song playing and my clear memory of Alison gettin’ out there and doin’ her stuff. (FACT: My husband’s face should ALWAYS light up. His smile is darling. His blue eyes are amazing. And the smile lines at the outside corners of those blue eyes not only make me melt but also fill me with all the gratitude – so lucky am I to be with him. It’s the handsomest vision of God I’ve known.) I was glad that my husband was seeing in his mind what I saw in mine.

As the song finished and my dinner dance with Alison from the legal department ended, I found myself unexpectedly overcome. Literally. I had to put my head down and in a very real way fight back tears and I almost openly wept there in the Ikea cafeteria. Trust me – my husband would confirm that my version of openly weeping is NOT gorgeous. But I was so overcome, and even now recounting it causes me to cry some. You see, the SOLE memory I have of this human is that of her dancing. If I were to bump into her family and reminisce at all, the ONLY thing I would be able to say is, “Boy – she LOVED to dance!”

I’m not fooled into thinking that lonesome dancing is all there was to Alison. Like every other human, she entered this life with baggage. She carried that baggage throughout her life’s duration, and when she departed this life (…if cause and effect mean anything in this universe…) she probably took some of it with her. But it – my memory of her – strikes me as wholly precious. She could have stayed on the sidelines like I was at the company party – talking with people about how the President is terrible or how the parking garage badly needs repaired. But she danced. What kinda world might we inhabit if we lived our lives in such a way that the only memories anyone had of us – the only memories we gave to others – were sweet and simple and the kind that make handsome husbands broadly smile?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Look Another Way

 

Just about every day on my way to the office I take the same route. And just about every day on my way from the office I take the same, but different than the first, route. My second route involves the interstate for about 3 miles. Between my on-ramp and the next exit over there’s always a burp of road during which my radio signal goes out. I don’t know if this happens for people listening to “normal” radio in their cars, but for me listening to satellite radio in my own car, there’s a brief bit of silence experienced whenever I hit that patch of road. If I’m going somewhere between 55 and 65 MPH, then I’d say the silence has a duration of about 4 seconds. Not long, but noticeable.

Another exit over(now two exits from my on-ramp) is where I get off if I’m going yarn shopping – which I do, far more than my budget says is healthy. That off-ramp curves a lot to the left and especially so as it connects to the major road right there. Because of that curve, it’s nearly impossible to take that exit and not see a massive and massively tall telecommunications tower. Or…. some such kind of tower, anyway. When stopped there and waiting on a green light, my satellite radio signal is interrupted just as when I’m going over the one patch of interstate. At this exit it is very clear that the tower is the reason my radio goes out right there.

Because of knowing that the tower at the second exit causes my radio to go out, for the last six hundred years of my life whenever I’m on that interstate and about go to over that “dry patch,” I look to my right (south) and try to spot the tower which must be there causing the signal’s interruption. And for the last six hundred years of my life I’ve failed to see it.

One day about two weeks ago – seriously, only two weeks ago – a thought crossed my mind that I ought to look north right there. I did and I feel almost embarrassed to admit that I was surprised to see the tower I previously would have sworn ought to be on the south side of the interstate! As soon as the surprise of that awareness wore off I was left with the realization that not only had I been looking the wrong direction the whole time but also that whole time I was practically obstinate about my thoughts and how they guided me.

For really no good reason, aside from failing to assess what was in my own head, I missed out on a perfect answer to what I questioned. In hindsight, I can now recognize that the south side of the interstate – in the area I was looking – has no place for such a tower. There are houses and businesses and schools and churches and parks. None of that mattered enough to me to ever cross my mind because I was so busy thinking what I already thought without ever really looking at what it was I was thinking or why. In that same area, but on the north side of the interstate, far more open space was available and no real proximity to homes, etc… got in the way of making that space the better option for that tower. That fuller realization – seeing the bigger picture – seems so obvious in retrospect.

I almost titled this post, “Look the Other Way,” but that didn’t communicate what I wanted. I’d already been looking the other way. We all do it, and usually too often. Looking the “other way” can take a variety of forms. Sometimes it’s done because we’re uncomfortable with what we’d see or have to face if we look another direction. Sometimes we look the other way because we’re lazy. I think sometimes, too, we look the other way because we feel we’ve worked hard to get to the view we currently have and looking another way instead of the other way would mean more work or somehow suggest outgrowing where we’ve gotten ourselves – that can be daunting and often brings feelings of wasted effort. It’s important to recognize, too, that looking the other way is always willful. We do make LOTS of choices and seemingly without even realizing we are but looking the other way, even when we don’t realize it, is always a choice being made somewhere inside you. The choice being made says, “I refuse to see…”

I encourage all (myself, included!) to look another way. Maybe the direction you’re already looking is just fine – but you can’t possibly be sure of that unless you look another way. You have to see what else is there.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Daaji & Ganeshji

 

From a recent Heartfulness news letter….

Two elderly sisters from Babuji’s time had come to Kanha to visit Daaji. During a long discussion with them on various topics at Gokul Point under the neem tree, Daaji’s thoughts flowed one after the other in a natural way.

“In ancient times, the figure of Lord Ganesh was known for bringing happiness and joy. Look at how much joy such a jolly figure brings! Imagine for a moment, Lord Ganesh is taking his vehicle, a little mouse, on a walk while it is raining, carrying his tiny little umbrella. When you look at the image of Lord Ganesh it provokes joy and happiness. But I have another understanding too. In Sahaj Marg we believe that we move from animal man to human man to divine man. When you see the image of Lord Ganesh, it shows an animal that wants to be human and there is also one image of Ganesh with an umbrella dancing in the rain which I would say is a blissful state. It is hilarious. So, he is a combination of an animal and a man who is now blissful. So it is a total journey depicted with this image. You cannot depict ‘beyond bliss’ with a pen and pencil. Also, Lord Ganesh is depicted riding on a mouse. You know, an elephant can’t sit on a mouse but you can carry the mightiest with a humble heart. You have to be humble to carry the Lord in you. You have to become small to carry the big – egolessness.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti