Autophagy

From a recent Heartfulness newsletter…

“Autophagy happens when we fast, so that the body has an opportunity to rejuvenate. Otherwise we are always busy assimilating and metabolising food. You see, Ekadashi has a logic behind it, a scientific reason behind it. When you observe the tides in the oceans of the Earth – the high tide and low tide – they are in sync with the lunar cycle. Now, our body is almost 70% water so imagine what the lunar cycle does to our system. Its effect starts becoming pronounced from the eighth day, and by the fifteenth day the effect is maximum. So, to nullify the lunar effect we fast on the eleventh day, which is the midpoint. Farmers also use the farmer’s almanac based on the cycles of the moon to plant above-ground crops, vine crops, root crops and grains, clear ground etc. All living creatures respond to the lunar cycles.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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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

The Purpose of God

 

“God has created the world so that every flower may grow in its right standard. But the lashes of time have made it to forget the purpose of God. So, some feel the life as the purpose of enjoyment, others feel the life monotonous. But the question is: What is life? It is a state of being which should remain permanently, as long as we live, thoroughly in contact with the Being, smelling at each step the fragrance of the Being.” – Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol III

I know some people will read the above quote and get caught on the first sentence. There are some who will read it and, if they don’t get caught on the first sentence, will get caught on the second sentence. Some still, may catch on both. That’s fine. Eventually they will be able to move on to the richness found the latter sentences. Truthfully, part of me did and does also catch on the first couple sentences – and probably for the same reasons others will, too. After all, what does “right standard” mean? What does the “purpose of God” even mean? Throughout human history so many people – too many people – have been sure they knew the precise and only real answers to what a “right standard” and “purpose of God” mean. Strangely, this certain knowledge of God’s right standard and purpose has invariably meant death – not to the ones who thought they knew, but to others near them.

Saying you know right standards and purpose of God is as foolish as saying the Sun rises in the East, and thinking it’s actually the truth. Yes, sure, the Sun seems to rise in the East. And for spatial and relational purposes, etc… the Sun seems to do just that and so it’s fine to make that reference. But for those who can see the bigger picture, or even know the bigger picture theoretically, that’s not true. There is a perception, possible only because of a very limited view. And so it seems like the Sun rises in what we call the East (which itself isn’t really even a thing – we live on a sphere, for Pete’s sake. We can go east, but there is no place which is the East and where we can arrive – and so the Sun can never rise from there.) We know the Earth travels around the Sun and rotates while it does that. Many of us understand that the “Sun rising in the East” is really our place on the Earth completing yet another spin in this pattern of travel. The Sun stays put. It doesn’t rise. And yet, those who are able to understand an even fuller picture know that even saying the Sun stays put while we cycle around it is false. Our Sun also travels through space, quite unfixed. This illustration of how limited our views usually are should be sufficient to know how terribly foolish it is to ever claim to know the purpose God has for something or what its right standard is. If most of us incorrectly perceive something as simple as the concepts of spinning or rotation, then what are the chances we’ll correctly perceive God’s “purpose” or “right standard?” At best, the most enlightened among us can probably only claim to know a fraction of those truths.

And really, the next sentence kind of says just that. Some see things one way while others have a different view. Now, those who get caught on the first to sentences will read what I just wrote about others having different views and they’ll say, “Well the view of others is just wrong.” And this is a big part of why those minds will remain on the so-called “square one” and will continue for some time to be caught on the first two sentences. As before, that’s fine.

The last sentence, however, is what we should aim for. Don’t bother with determining the right standard for something or with figuring out the details of God’s purpose. You probably can’t do anything about changing either of those things, anyway. And if you could figure them out completely and truly and risked wanting to change them, what would that mean for yourself? See, more questions and no additional answers come from that effort.

Aim for staying permanently and thoroughly in contact with the Being. That’s it.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

The 37th

 

Yesterday (the 26th) at around 5:06am the prior year of my life became history and a new one has started. For me observing this New Year has usually been more significant than observing the one marked by western calendars. If you want to read what I wrote about on last year’s New Year (for me) you can click here and visit that post.

On my New Year I often spend time in reflection and meditation, reviewing how the prior year has gone and thinking about what to allow onto my plate for the coming year. Keep reading if you’re interested in this year’s New Year thoughts and observations and plans.

  1. Although much of me is the same from last year, much of me is very different. Between work and home lives, family life, religious or spiritual lives (I maintain the two are independent of each other), and all the other things that go into the making of a person – I continue to evolve. I’m so glad for this! Every inch of progress made in my personal evolution is intended and sought after with a hunger I still can’t name. My darling husband, my precious family, my many sweet friends, and my path with Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg / Hinduism continue to challenge and shape me in fantastic ways! Regardless of what kind of “me” you might consider me to be, I am a continually improving me and few things could make me happier.
  2. The world I inhabit is also different and evolving. It becomes increasingly (and sadly) true that someone’s silence speaks louder than any words their mouth might form. What people speak about and how they speak about it can say just about all you’d need or want to know about them. But where they place their silence says volumes more.

 

If you clicked the link I provided above you would have been taken to a list of 36 random things (plus one bonus item) about me. I have reviewed this list and find that virtually none of it has changed. So if you knew me a year ago, you can count on at least that much remaining true. However, below you will find a list of things either I simply didn’t include last year but which were just as true then, or which are true now and might not have been a year ago.

 

  1. Addiction is a disease. Literally. People who think addiction simply comes down to making a choice aren’t totally wrong – but they are being overly simplistic…. and so they are wrong enough. It is not at all as simple as the decision not to do something and anyone who thinks that is just as sick in the head as the person with an addiction.
  2. Skinny is not always or automatically sexy or beautiful, and neither is it any sure sign of health. Please believe. Anyone who self-describes as “fit” simply because their waist is 30″ is full of shit.
  3. Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” – just read it. And then reread it.
  4. I’m gonna start studying Judaism soon.
  5. I happen to LOVE crochet. And I’m good at it.
  6. Autoimmune issues are a thing. Like, a real and nasty and painful thing.
  7. I love my new home. Getting here was painful and started to kill me (kinda literally) but has been SO worth it.
  8. Although it’s how I primarily identify, I don’t always feel like I’m a male human. I’m not saying I feel like a female human, either. I’m learning something significant about myself here. When I mentioned it to my husband over dinner he gave me some side eye and said I might be queer. Isn’t that nice?
  9. I am (apparently) too despicable to tolerate for some people. Or for just one person, anyway. That’s not always been super pleasurable to digest, but I’m okay with it. It seems to have been Nature’s way of clearing out dead vegetation in favor of new, vibrant growth. I’m having fun trusting that process & making kind new friends often which I suspect will have a positive impact on my next year of life. Some of those friends are pictured here with me.

 

Alright – that’ll do. This is me as I head into another year of life – let’s see how 37 turns out! Jaya Ganesha!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

A Child’s Toy

 

The thought of people generally does not go beyond the point of liberation, which they take to be the final limit of human approach. But that is a wrong idea. As a matter of fact, liberation is one of the lowest attainments on the divine path; hence it is just like a toy for a child to play with. Beyond that there is yet a lot to be achieved. The infinite ocean lies still ahead, which is but a limitless expanse. Have your eyes fixed upon That and That alone, and go on and on to trace It out.” – Ram Chnadra, The Complete Works, Vol I, page 334

Every path is unique, despite any parallels it might have between other paths.  Sahaj Marg (Heartfulness) is no different and I think the quote above illustrates that to a degree. Certainly, we are unique in other ways. But in most of Hinduism and Sufism the idea of liberation is where things stop. After all, what more could there be once you are free?

To back up a little, let’s discuss what this “liberation” is. Most of the time, in contexts like this one, liberation means liberation from samsara. Samsara is the wheel of death and rebirth. Some view this wheel as a kind of trap but it isn’t. It’s merely a result. When we don’t direct our reactions and responses in a responsible manner, then the resultant karmas (both good AND bad karmas) bind us further to this wheel. And so we go on experiencing death and rebirth, cycle after cycle, until our personal evolution is such that we are able to step off of that wheel like an exhausted hamster and then finally to know peace. This is what most people, in this context, consider liberation to be.  (Side Note: There are branches of believers who have the understanding that God will, through immeasurable and unwarranted grace and mercy, wipe away the factors (what we call samskaras & karmas) keeping a person from reaching heavenly liberation, thus bestowing liberation to the one who believes. This is a lie.)

Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness doesn’t dispute the aforementioned idea of liberation. What makes Sahaj Marg unique in this context is that, in our understanding, this liberation isn’t the actual end goal. A lot of what spiritual aspirants take to be significant spiritual progress and developments are understood within Sahaj Marg as simple sign posts. Indications of progress, sure, but nothing more – certainly nothing to be distracted by or focused on.

In a way, we treat these experiences and developments much like any thought that arises during meditation – notice it if you must, but keep moving. Liberation is no different. It’s like our guides and gurus are saying, “Okay so you stepped off the wheel of death and rebirth. Congrats – Now keep moving.” An interesting thing to note here and which might surprise most people is that this liberation – escape from endless cycles of death and rebirth – is seen as a very low attainment and like a child’s toy. Most people would immediately disagree. But it is certain that those people view their current reality through a different and probably lens. After all, to a kindergartner learning the alphabet is daunting and quite an achievement. The idea of getting to Junior High is hardly something they understand, never mind finishing that and moving on to High School or any form of education thereafter.

The lineage of Sahaj Marg guides have always stated that religion is like kindergarten. And they’ve always gently encouraged us to keep moving. From where they sit, they speak to us kindergartners and encourage us onward. “Beyond that there is a lot to be achieved.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

The Off Ramp

 

It’s not uncommon at all that I see the most mundane and seemingly random thing – then find myself reminded of something deeper and contemplating the mysteries of life. I know – super boring, right? It’s not actually. It’s fun for me, never knowing when I’ll learn something new and possibly profound. I never tire of seeing the All reflected in every thing. Something like that happened to me this morning on the drive to work. Kinda.

So… I take two interstates to work. Leaving for work just five minutes later or earlier can make ALL the difference in the commute. It can mean the difference between seeing an accident happen right before you and getting stuck in place for an hour while it’s cleaned up, or seeing an accident happen right behind you and wishing them the best as you leave them behind. Regardless of when I find myself leaving for work there are always those on the road that seem to have the understanding that their time means more than anyone else’s or that they are an inherently better driver than anyone else. #RoadRage Today I was nearly finished with my usual morning trek when I saw something happen that struck me as very indicative of today’s human person.

So, I’m nearing my exit. The exit lane is in place for a full mile or more before actually breaking from the interstate proper and that whole time it consists of TWO lanes. Right as the actual off ramps start, the two lanes part ways – one lane (my usual lane) heads south from the exit and the other heads north from the same. I don’t actually have road rage much these days but one thing that gets me close is this part of the commute: People have had well over a mile to get in the lane they need to get into but for any number of reasons seem only take that action at the last possible second. Maybe they don’t want to wait in the line that is forming in their needed lane. Maybe they’re on their phone and not paying attention. Maybe they’ve not had coffee yet and are asleep behind the wheel. Doesn’t matter – whatever – but it invariably (and I mean that) creates a situation of necessarily cutting someone off with far less room than is safe or else taking the wrong lane of the exit. This morning I saw this very thing happen – twice – with two vehicles doing it to each other!

There was a convertible ahead of me in my lane (left lane), and a semi in the other lane (right lane). At the last minute the semi realized he was in the wrong lane and made the unsafest mad dash to change lanes before he had to cross more median than he was already going to have to cross. This made the guy in the convertible super pissed – who at almost the same time decided he too was in the wrong lane and did basically the same thing to someone else in the right lane, which had been done to him by the semi. (Side Note: Knowing what I know about the usual traffic in these two lanes, I think the likely truth here is that the semi actually didn’t realize where he was until it was almost too late and the convertible was probably mostly just trying to cut ahead in a long line of cars.) It was obvious by the horn honking hand gestures and facial cues thrown by the driver of the convertible that he was not at all happy with the semi driver.

This amazed me as indicative of a bigger, very unfortunate truth.

The convertible driver was totally planning to “cheat” other drivers. Absolutely. In his world, his time literally is more valuable and more important than that of all the drivers he was preparing to cut in front of. Or perhaps it was something a little simpler like he was running late and trying to minimize his tardiness. Maybe he didn’t really *want* to be a complete dick, but this time he had to make an exception. Either way, he knew what he was doing and had planned it all along… before the semi interfered.

So essentially he was mad that someone else did something to him which almost ruined his chance to do that thing to others. This is our society today. We’ve not only gotten to the place where we’re fully okay spitting on others to get ahead (which is already a pretty bad place to be as a society), but also that we become angry when someone else spits on us in a way that prevents (or nearly prevents) us from spitting on others. We see this in more than just traffic patterns, too. In the USA, it is prevalent and evident every time our politicians legislate something that they exempt themselves from. Ah the joys of Kali Yuga! What heavy and severe samskara we must carry as a society – such egregore – to have reached a place where this is something so many consciences are fine with.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Drag

 

The Gita teaches us that the same Spark resides in all things. But not all things look alike. Surely there must be a difference between me and you and the rock and the dead chicken on your sandwich?

Nope.

Any differences that can be detected – any differences which appear to us – are, at their best, the most superficial. Only fools look at the sea and think the waves at the surface are the seas’s entirety. Even sciences are now confirming that the differences you and I think we’re seeing that distinguish us from each other and from the rock and from the chicken breast on your sandwich really aren’t real.

So, if you and me and the rock and the chicken patty aren’t actually different, then what are we? We’re the Same. We’re the One. We are All There Is.

But, we’re the One as It wears different masks. In the very same way a woman might wear a certain lip color to work, but different lip color to church, and yet different lip color on a night out… The appearance and presentation changes slightly, but the Wearer is not changed. We are God’s various lip colors – we are the God in drag!

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti