I’m often the “bad guy.” In my family people know that if something needs to be said, regardless of whether it’s comfortable or not, it’s likely to come from my mouth. I’m also known for not sugar-coating very much at all when I speak. In a recent yearly review with my manager, it was mentioned more than once by her that my communication is very direct and clear and that people always know what I think, whether good or bad. (For the record, this was cited as a strength which I bring to the company and one for which my manager is glad to have me on her team.) I’ve also been asked to review a few tools at work and the Indian gal (whose first language is not English) who asked me said like, “We want your bad feedback.” Of course, she meant that she wanted me to offer what she knew I’d bring to the table anyway: Very open, honest, and direct discussion, even if critical.

This kind of trait in someone is often valued, but not appreciated – if that makes sense. Everyone values the idea of having someone they can super trust, but most people end up just getting pissed because of the honesty that comes with that trust. And often, a big part of that is the frequency of spades being called spades. People are so used to judging spades for being spades that they might gloss over an instance of spadery being called such, but without that usual judgement. They just assume judgement is happening. This is something that is part of the exhausting work placed on the shoulders of someone like me: Seeing spades without judgement and always having to explain the lack of judgement to others – which also means explaining that they too can call a spade a spade without judging. I’m repeatedly baffled that people struggle so much with this. People are terribly judgmental – so much so, in fact, that it becomes automatic too much of the time.

Maria Wirth, as I’ve written here before, is an inspiration. Back in May of this year she published a post to her WordPress blog which talks about this to a degree and goes into the importance of it. Of course, a bit of her point DOES hinge on making the call to label something as good or bad, which is usually a form of judgement. But she makes her point in a very civilized way and I encourage you to click here to have a look for yourself as she’s far more eloquent than I am.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Universal Intellect

A while back I came across a post on an Ismaili blog I follow. I enjoy studying Islam and Sufism. Almost no one here studies Islam except those practicing and even they don’t usually study their own religion any better than Christians typically do. And Sufism shares many parallels with Hinduism and my path of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness.

If you click here you’ll be taken to the blog I’m talking about and to a post that examines “Mi’raj” – the night of the spiritual ascension of the prophet Mohammad. The first thing a reader comes to is a quote from an Imam stating that the ascension to be discussed is attainable by all who actively aspire to it, and not just a “chosen one.” This is important. In so many spiritual paths (which end up being more religious than spiritual) true higher attainment is seemingly reserved for those who are God’s favorites or God’s “begotten.”

I’ll allow that most paths have someone to help show the way. In reality, this shouldn’t be necessary but often feels necessary because people are either convinced that they are clueless, convinced that they are incompetent, or might just be lazy (among other potential reasons). My path of Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg has its own “tirthankar” – and has had. In the modern era, we’re on our fourth in succession. Lalaji, then Babuji, then Chariji, and currently Daaji. Each has served our path in unique and invaluable ways and the current one, Daaji, is really taking us in new directions. He’s placing so much emphasis on the Master or Guru within. When I went to see him in New Jersey around the end of the June, one of the very first things he shared with those gathered was that problems begin when we seek the Guru outside ourselves. #SatDat #Truth

To go back to the Ismaili post I mentioned, there’s a story mentioned wherein the prophet rides a winged horse from one place to another. The Ismailis understand this to be symbolic of something quite deeper than the story initially conveys. I’m with them on this – I have serious doubts about whether winged horses ever existed on this planet, let alone that the prophet of Islam ever rode one from Makkah to Jerusalem.

This Ismaili post uses a lot of Arabic religious and spiritual vocab which I’m not familiar with. Many of them I could probably render in Sanskrit here but I won’t. You would be better and more efficiently served to just check out the post yourself. I wanted to draw attention to this because this post does a fine job at paralleling what Hindus already know and have talked about ages before Islam surfaced on the planet – realization of Absolute Reality. I dare say that you can even skip around – pick a random place and just start reading and then jump to another place – you’ll have little difficulty connecting the dots. Give it a look over and see what you think.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


I subscribe to a blog here at WordPress called Isma’ili Gnosis. I don’t read all of the posts that are published because I prefer to spend my already terribly limited time doing other things that are a little more applicable to my personal path.

Isma’ilism seems to be Sufism. And in many ways, on a number of levels, Sufism is closely related to my path with the Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness…. “path of the Heart” and all that. Honestly, I think it’s because of having spent a couple of years studying Islam intensely and now walking a path that carries its own “flavor” of Sufism that I can stomach Islam really almost more than I can Christianity.

There’s a post on the Isma’ili Gnosis site that I want to draw your attention to. It’s a post meant to explain the “strongest argument for the existence of God” and as you would expect it’s a long and kinda meaty post. You can find it here. I’m not sure I stand by every word of the post itself, but a lot of it is legit from where I sit. The second full paragraph was something that struck me. It reads,

“Two major reasons for the growing popularity of atheism and agnosticism among people today are that a) most people are not exposed to the classical concept of God within their own religious tradition and instead are made to believe in an anthropomorphic image of God and  b) the positive arguments for God’s existence are poorly understood and misrepresented by both atheists and people of faith.”

To be clear, I really don’t take issue with “the growing popularity of atheism and agnosticism.” It’s my firm belief that those paths are no less valid than any other and I also firmly believe that anyone walking either or both of those paths will absolutely and undoubtedly arrive at whatever my own final destination is. There can be no other option.

Beyond that, I agree with the two other points in the paragraph. As far as “a” is concerned, a huge problem of today – in all kinds of contexts – is that no one really knows what they’re talking about. We settle for snips-n-clips from lots of different places, half of which oughtn’t be trusted – and we assume those tidbits of info are the sole and whole truth. This, dear readers, is wholly dangerous. It’s because of this that, for example, Christians, are almost universally ignorant of the real depth of their own holy texts. (I’ll generalize here because in this case it’s pretty well safe to.) The texts that now make up what is known as the Christian Bible are quite varied in regard to original intent, original content, original language, etc… And much more than just those things, never mind additional factors like cultural norms of the time and other such things that really should be taken into consideration. Christians today – generally – have very little recognition that their own cherished path originally amounted to what we now would absolutely label as a Middle Eastern cult… which even today are problematic. And Christians aren’t alone in this systemic ignorance. All that to say … Point “a” is correct. Too many of us known too little about the things we cling to.

A side effect of this terrible ignorance is the mention of an anthropomorphic image of God. I’ve written here probably more than once about what a terrible idea it is to humanize God and how faulty any conception of God is that exhibits traits that too closely resemble human behavior. It. Is Dangerous. And it is dangerous whether you revere Christ or Krishna.

Point “b” from the paragraph quoted here is also important. On Facebook, I follow a variety of groups from all walks of life. There’s a “godless and irreligious” group whose posts I see. And really, even outside of Facebook posts this remains true – I’ve visited atheist websites and I own a number of atheistic books. Something I have noticed is that Atheists mostly only have stones to throw at the Abrahamic religions. Seriously, I’ve viewed A LOT of atheist material and I don’t think it’s too inaccurate to say that not more than 3% of all I’ve ever seen has been directed toward Dharmic religions. Almost always their “targets” are Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I think this is indicative in its own way but this also seems to be the other side of the coin of what’s mentioned in regard to positive arguments simply not being known by either side.

Anyway, read the post. Because I said. It’s for your own good.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

God’s Favorite Month

Back in June I read a blog post published by someone I no longer associate with but whose writing I sometimes enjoy reading. This young man, like myself, is gay and Hindu and non-Indian. Despite our differences, having those things in common means we understand certain things on the same level – which is nice. His post, which can be accessed by clicking here, was about Purushottama Masa, a leap month in the Vedic calendar. (The modern calendar observed here in the West has what we call leap years, but it’s really more like a leap day – a day that isn’t recognized on the calendar except in certain years. This is probably why the young writer called Purushottama Masa a leap month – it’s a month that isn’t always in the calendar.)

It’s explained in the post that Vishnu (Hari-dev) values this month immensely – so much that it’s his favorite month and he rewards devotees who up their sadhana during this auspicious time. It’s pointed out in the post that this increase in favor manifests as added benefits. So whatever punya you might normally accrue from, say, one round of mantra jaapa, is magnified during this leap month. Maybe during this month, because it’s God’s favorite, one round of jaapa counts double? Triple? Only god knows, I bet.

He goes on to focus the post not around it being god’s favorite or the added benefits, but of the importance of making every day and every offering as valuable as something offered so uniquely as in Purushottama Masa. I agree with that in general, but I often have an eye for details and the indication that this month is god’s favorite really stood out to me.

Please believe: Any god that has favorites is no god at all.

Throughout humanity’s history of god, we have claimed to know god well enough to be able to speak on god’s behalf – telling or explaining to others what’s okay with god and what isn’t, what god favors and what isn’t favored. Throughout humanity’s history of god this has proven to be immensely dangerous, almost invariably. After all: Jews are god’s “chosen people,” Christians know their jagadguru to be god’s “only begotten,” Islam’s idea of jihad couldn’t be pursued on any level without knowledge of what is holy in contrast to what is unholy, and Hindus apparently know god’s favorite month (among other things).

I don’t know why this tendency exists. Probably ego prospering withing Maya. Regardless of culture or time, it seems like something humans are bound to do: Fuck god up. We can’t be happy with our own unique first-hand experiences. We don’t usually want to rest in those experiences and treasure them as private peeks at our Source. At a minimum we often try to codify. In extremes, we kills others for not accepting what we know to be true. And the rest of the time we engage in all manner of in-between ridiculousness.

I think Sahaj Marg’s assessment that religion is like kindergarten is very fitting and very true. From kindergarten you get stick figure drawings, coloring outside the lines, and maybe some shaky handwriting. Yeah it’s sweet. It feels innocent because it’s a beginning and because it’s a beginning it actually holds tremendous value. But no one is meant to stay there. You leave kindergarten behind as soon as you possibly can and failure to do that usually means something really unfortunate like a learning disability or maybe even trouble at home. It’s like in a previous post when it was mentioned that Jesus was like, “Guys, c’mon! Stop being children of God. You have to grow up now.”

The quote pictured below was said by my current guru’s guru and I think it does a fine job expressing why we should leave religion behind as quickly as possible. Regardless of the innocence possibly expressed in stick figure drawings, they are still crude. Very crude representations of a much bigger reality, right?





Religion, especially if it tries to convince you that god has a favorite anything or a preference of any sort, is like saying a five-year-old’s stick figure representation of her mother is a sufficient and entirely accurate depiction of that woman. I don’t think the mother of the five-year-old is offended by the stick figure drawing. Not at all – the mother doesn’t really care. Being the mother, she understands that, for a brief time, that’s the best the child can do. Certainly, if god even had an opinion on religion, then god would view religion the same way: It’s the best some humans can do, at one stage or another in life.

But stick figures aren’t accurate – not even close. And kindergarten is meant only as a beginning.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Wirth’s Wisdom

Periodically another blogger publishes a post and, while they are invariably a bit long-winded (that’s saying something coming from me! lol), they also invariably possess an excellent viewpoint balanced with reason and devotion and much life experience. I would encourage everyone to check out her blog and her “About Me” page to learn some of her background.

I’ve included a link here to a recent post of hers that I found to be particularly logical and well written. It deals with violence in religion and makes some incredible and valid points. Do give it a look.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Automatic Heaven


I came across an article posted to Facebook this early afternoon that made me gag. The article, which can be found here, details briefly an incident where a snipit of conversation between two cricket players was caught.

In the conversation one player, who is a Muslim, is telling the other player, who is a Buddhist, that anyone who converts to Islam automatically is allowed into Heaven. Automatically. This kind of pisses me off.

For starters, I’m pretty sure that’s not what the Koran actually teaches. I might be wrong, but I think that’s oversimplifying the doctrines of that religion and I feel like more credit should be given to the path itself. Some years ago Islam was the only religion I studied (this lasted for over a year) and during that time I learned many dark-n-wondrous things about Islam that many others might not know. It’s been a while, but I don’t recall anything so flat or sweeping.

The second thing that struck me is that it appears to somehow be okay for this Muslim man that someone would join his religion JUST for the prize in the box. How cheap is that? And I’m wondering what kind of person he thinks he’s attracting by discounting his own dharma in that way? I would assume an offer as simple and cheap as the one he’s making to this Buddhist would only really be attractive to someone so lazy in their own religious / spiritual life that avoiding Hell is their only real concern. There was no mention of “Islam will make you a better human” or anything like that. Just “join the club, and get the prize.” Pathetic, and frankly dangerous. I think it follows that if someone is lazy enough in their own effort or their own understanding and joins because it means “automatic heaven,” then my guess is that this same person is probably going to make a fool of himself at some point – inviting this kind of fool into one’s “religious club” seems to put the club at risk of looking stupid when this new (selfish and lazy) person inevitably shows his arse. Why would anyone care to risk that – especially when considering a religion like Islam, which is unfortunately already suspect in so many regards?

Thirdly, the offer as it was made implies that the Muslim not only understands very little about his own dharma but also the dharmas of non-Abrahamic believers. If you come from an understanding that Heaven isn’t the final stopping place, then what value is automatic admission through the pearly gates going to hold? Probably, temporary value at best. So to offer heaven to someone who sees it as a pit stop more than anything else seems about the same as making a bid deal out of offering a rented video to someone. They understand that they cannot keep the video, so what exactly is the favor being done here?

The last thing that bugged me about this is what was said to the Buddhist when he apparently refused the heavenly offer. He was met with a response like, “Be prepared for fire, then.” (The actual response may have been differently worded, but that’s pretty much what was said to him. I don’t have the article opened right now.) If one’s offer in conversion was truly as sincere as I’m sure this Muslim man would have everyone believe, then why was the reaction to the answer he received from the Buddhist, “Fine then, but you’re gonna be fucked after you die”? If that response is any indication of the personal development Islam is capable of, I’d say the Buddhist is better off staying with his current dharma. Sadly, I know similar behavior to be true of Christians, also. I know this because once upon a time I was guilty of nearly identical behavior.

The biggest question of all that this brought to my mind is: Where are the Hindus that do this? Where are the Buddhist attempting compulsory conversion of non-Buddhists to Buddhism?

Can anyone point me to resources that illustrate this behavior among Hindus and Buddhists?

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti



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

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

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

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

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

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

No. But maybe.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti


Taken from Google Image search, "Gay Hindu"

Taken from Google Image search, “Gay Hindu”

Friday was an interesting day for me. The week has pretty much flew by, although Friday not so much. Russia’s been on my nerves in the worst way. It’s not often I recommend obliterating nations, but Russia is pushing it. Even the Middle East with all its own joys doesn’t get under my skin the way Russia is currently. In the Middle East at least they have “good reasons” for their dumb ideaologies. By “good reasons,” I mean religion. Everyone is dictated by Islam in those regions and while it’s not right to be that way either, per se, it’s at least a foundational starting point that can evolve. It’s spiritually misguided logic – it theoretically started out wholesome, and wherever it sits currently, it could also theoretically get back to square one. Russia is different though. The stuff coming out of Russia these days is just mean. Russia’s not saying that Jesus wants them to hunt gays. It’s saying its population is dwindling and gays pose a threat to reproduction and therefore the survival of the nation. That view violates so much common sense and even basic facts that I find it far more offensive than a Muslim who’s ignorant wanting to hunt gays. It’s a fine line, but a distinct one in my mind.

Along these lines, a friend on Facebook reposted something from Vaishnav literature wherein Prabhupad Swami had some pretty harsh words regarding gays, including that we’re lower than even the animals, which are already far lower than humans already. He went on and on as the devotees probed him on this. You can read that blissful knowledge here.

The best part of it all for me was that no one said, “Those are not true Vaishnavs!” One commenter did come close (he’s what another friend would rightly call Kraishnav), but otherwise it didn’t even show up on th radar. This is heard muchly within Abrahamic religions. Whenever Christians hunt people or Muslims bomb them, the other adherents of those faiths are quick to abandon their brothers and very loudly make sure everyone else knows, “They aren’t real Christians!” I’ve even heard a Buddhist monk do this in reponse to some other monks standing up against Muslim oppressors. It seems terribly egoic to me when people turn on their own brothers/sisters like that. It was nice that no one did that – today anyway.

Someone else commented that Vaishnavism is essentially “curried Catholicism.” I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair or accurate assessment, but it’s one I can relate to as having an element of truth to it.

But it all got me thinking… What if one keeps his mouth shut entirely? I mean, the whole event Friday on Facebook was really quite interesting. Somebody said something, others encountered that said thing and said something else in reponse, and then more and more people ended up saying more and more in reponse (in reaction?).

So if I have shitty or hateful or whatever views does it really matter so long as I keep my pie hole shut? My karmas are mine alone (mostly) and if I don’t project them in any manner externally (which, I’ll admit would be nearly impossible to do) then why should anyone else care about it?

I see this happen in the spa I work part-time at. One professional will be having a conversation and since the area is rather open and fluid, conversationsa are often blended and melted into each other, or at least overlapping. This often creates a “mind your own business, nobody asked you” kinda of situation. Prior to those interactions, relative peace is experienced. But is that really peace, or just relative, individualized ignorance?

Here’s what I think the REAL root of it all is: Jnana. And I mean both sides of the Jnana “coin.”

Jnana, I’ve said before, is experiential realization of Truth. It requires work on your part and no one else’s. If I want your advice to check my own thoughts against, that’s one thing. But if I haven’t invested enough work in my own Self, I won’t even really be (experientially) aware of what’s already inside me. This is simultaneously the starting place and the finish line, no joke. But if this doesn’t happen, a person not only has no secure foundation (afterall what’s clearer than your own personal, experiential, realization of Truth?), but also almost certainly has no clear idea of the Goal – also because they’ve not invested the work needed for experiential realization. So if one neglects the work that needs done, and has no realization of the secure foundation (not the same as having no foundation at all), and has no resultant sight of the Goal which would also need to be certain, then he/she is likely to rely on others in ways that the hope-filled think will give direction to their journey – this laziness is grave and is pretty much the reason the self-help industry is booming. Nothing wrong with a book telling you how to reach your higher Self, but just reading won’t work. This almost invariably means that the kind of ineractions I mentioned earlier take place.

To keep moving… What’s all the fuss about gayness and Hinduism? Superficially, Hinduism is pretty much literally the most liberating religion ever. Many religions are quite “free,” but within the context of history and orthodoxy, the freedom found in Hinduism simply can’t be surpassed.

Interestingly, Hinduism has a rich, albeit somewhat obscure, history of gayness. The Faithology website has a page on homosexuality within Hinduism which can be accessed by clicking here – and it does a fair job at detailing exactly what I’m talking about.

The site mentions the “third sex,” which everyone should read about. More popularly, though, the site also offers a few nuggets most might not know about. For instance, the Harihara aspect of God, is a male-male union of Shiva and Vishnu. This can’t exactly be said to be gay, but it’s definitely homosexual (according to a strict definition of the word) and stands in sharp contract to the more obviously hetero blending of “God” in the form of Shiva and Shakti. Also, Krishna’s own son, Samba, actually engaged in homosexual acts (which isn’t the same as being gay, but whatever) and is a known cross-dresser/transvestite. There’s also a version of the Ramayana that details the creation of the god Bhagiratha from lesbian intercourse.

Another WordPress post, also inspired by some of Friday’s interactionsw, was composed by the Facebook friend mentioned earlier who had reposted Prabhupad’s interview transcription. This post can be read here, and takes a myth buster form. In all actuality, the posted I just linked you (as well as my post here) could just about as easily contribute to the strife I was getting at in the beginning of this post.

In theory, we should all be able to hold any view under the sun about any subject under the sun, and it shouldn’t matter. Should it? Why does it? Have I already provided the answer, or do I need you to help enlighten me? Are you sure?

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

In my last post (and in another) I mentioned briefly that I’d gone to a seminar of sorts, which turned out not to be what I expected.

Jeffrey Armstrong was the speaker, and speak he did! His website indicates that he’s a “Western Master of Eastern Wisdom.” I suppose on some level that’s true enough. The flier I saw at my temple enticed us with tag lines like, “Dharma is not religion” and “Brahman is not God.” In truth, that’s exactly what Jeffrey Armstrong taught us, although not the way we were expecting. His approach was to teach us how to explain the tough concepts within Hinduism to non-Hindus, a lesson that came in the form of a vocab lesson.

I mentioned that a dry-erase board was at the head of the class with Jeffrey, and was divide down the middle by the word transcendental. Facing the board, to the left of the middle was a number of religious words most people are familiar with… given to western culture through Christianity or Islam. On the right of the board were religious words of dharmic/Sanskrit origin.

Anyone who’s seen the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” will recall the father of the main character, Tula. He was slightly loony, “fixing” everything with Windex. For me, an endearing trait of that character was his “ability” to trace any word, from any language, back to a Greek origin. Such was his pride in the Greek culture he was born into.

Jeffrey Armstrong wasn’t born into Hindu culture or religion, but his enthusiasm was no less. The hours we spent with Jeffrey Armstrong that night were in listening to him teach us how words like God and Heaven were inadequate for Hindus to use when speaking to non-Hindus about our Faith. As a wordie, in virtually every example provided by Jeffrey Armstrong I found myself getting goose bumps. (I nearly swooned when he admitted that he reads dictionaries for fun. I’m the ONLY other soul I know to have done this.) I literally LOVE studying language and its evolution – and Jeffrey loved teaching just that. An interesting twist, though, was that every “Do Not Use” word that Jeffrey dissected seemed to have a Vedic/Sanskrit/Hindu origin, which often left me thinking, “If that word has such a terrific source, why is it so inadequate?”

But whatever. His point stands: So many – in fact virtually ALL – religious words coming from western religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are mostly inadequate and inappropriate for describing Hindu concepts. In honor of our own path, and for preciseness, we should be leaving “their words” for use by “them” and begin more faithfully employing the words that best serve “us.”

There’s a catch, though. “They” don’t know or understand “our” words. Plus English is everywhere. So while Brahman does NOT mean the same thing as God (both literally speaking and figuratively), it not only has no English equivalent, but also remains the closest equivalent in the mind of the non-Hindu. Thus, in my mind, the word “God” remains employable in my conversations with non-Hindus – even if it requires add-ons to help its meaning better approximate the meaning of Brahman.

What say you, dear reader?

Om Shanti



Almost a week ago I found myself headed into the spa where I hold part time hours taking care of clients who’ve been with me for about the last decade (almost). I always feel honored when someone is on my books. I’m humbled and flattered that someone would pay what I charge for my work – and come back for more! One such person truly has me feeling both flattered and honored and I thought to bring her here for you to know about.

Her name is Ayesha. For obvious privacy reasons, I’ll spare you further specifics of her identity, but suffice to say that she is a petite woman of Pakistani origin. For about as long as I’ve known her, she’s adored my work. Whether I feel particularly proud of that work has been irrelevant. She would also smile so much when I called her to my chair that seeing her glee would be cause enough for my own smile. Over the years, because of my decreased hours at the spa and because of her own work and home commitments, it’s gotten to where I only see her about once every three months. Also over the years, she’s allowed her hairs to gain length – considerably.

From the beginning of our relationship, Ayesha and I have always maintained a good line of communication. She understands that I’m white, but also Hindu. She is actually quite cute when I’m telling her something and she responds to everything with either, “nai’n” (shortened nahin, which is Hindi for no), or with a quick and animated series of “haa’haa’haa’,” which is a shortened, but still nasal, version of the Hindi word for yes. (An aside about the difference between Hindi and Hindu: Hindu = a person either of eastern Indian origin or of the same religious persuasion. Hindi = a basic national Indian language, derived from Sanskrit. Aside form the connection with Sanskrit, Hindi has nothing to do with Hinduism, officially.)

Religiously, Ayesha has identified herself to me as a Muslim. As with some Christians, she seems to be an exception among her religion. She’s incredibly, genuinely, sweet. She happens to also be kind of liberal, socially. By that, I mostly just mean that she doesn’t cover her head in public. However, last Saturday when I called her to my chair her head was covered. It was something I noticed immediately, but certainly didn’t flinch at. What she told me soon after seating herself in my chair touched me, and I want you dear readers to know about it.

She’d just returned from a three-month stay in Pakistan. As I mentioned, she doesn’t have much of a history of covering her head like many Muslim women do. Even the women in her family back in Pakistan don’t do it. All that’s fine. Dandy, even. Everyone knows that some Muslim women cover their head and others do not. The reasons for doing it or not vary as widely as the women themselves.

Where Ayesha’s story gained interest to me was her mention of her guru. Muslims don’t have gurus, generally speaking. Muslims do have their own clergy, per se, but the notion of a lineage of disciples and teachers isn’t something terribly common or prominent within the structure mainstream Islam. Sufism, the deeply mystical and far more esoteric vein of Islam, might recognize some kind of guru/devotee relationship with lineage, but this is something I’m more unfamiliar with. At any rate, Ayesha mentioned not only that she had a guru, but that her guru is a female. I was so pleased. I really can’t even say. She further explained that her guru has pretty much only Ayesha as a student, but that she herself is still a growing student of yet another guru who has numerous students. And there you have it… lineage. Students continuing to learn and grow and taking on newer students, etc…

I’m a little foggy as to how any of this comes into play with Ayesha’s independent decision to cover her head. She was clear that the women in her family discouraged her, and that her own husband, who Ayesha admitted is more spiritually advanced than her own self, also discouraged her – he told her that something like covering your head won’t get you closer to God. Ayesha went on for a while about all the things she was learning from her guru and about a few changes she’d implemented in her life. It was wonderful and interesting to hear her explain these changes and the notions that brought them and how her life has changed since coming to her guru and since deepening her spirituality.

One very interesting development had really made an impact on the sweet person Ayesha is. She admitted that, since just about forever, she’d been uber nice to everyone – even when she wanted to be super frowny. She thought that if her outward behavior was sweet and entirely docile, that she’d have no offense (read: sin), and that when Judgement Day rolled around and she stood before Allah and everyone else (you should investigate the Muslim afterlife and Judgement Day!) that she’d have almost no one to apologize to or seek forgiveness from. Her guru, through lessons in intention which are on-going, has helped Ayesha to understand the immense value of sincerity and being in touch with not only her Self deep within, but also her surface self. Such lessons!

Ayesha recognizes that covering her head in public is unnecessary. Neither her husband, nor her guru, nor her God are asking or demanding her to do it. She’s taking something technically unnecessary and turning it into a sadhana. Something unrelated to her actual relationship with the Divine or her Self is becoming, by Ayesha’s will, a strong tool for growing and improving that very relationship. She might identify as Muslim, but this is quite Hindu, actually. The ordinary is thoroughly pervaded by The Extraordinary. The seemingly unnecessary holds the same potential for transformation as that which is deemed vital. There is no difference, except in your perception. Be mindful of that, and realize life’s potential for you – life’s power for you!

By the time of her appointment, Ayesha had already made the decision that, literally, only her husband and her hairdresser (me!) would she uncover her head for. I can’t tell you how humbling this is for me. My approach and philosophy toward doing hair has always been different than the other professionals around me – even when it was my bread and butter. This has made all the difference in my career. One of the prime aspects of Karma that is often overlooked is that you have entire control over what you give – and consequently what you get. I can’t say enough how much of an opportunity working in the hair industry has provided me to flex my Karma Yoga muscles. The supremely best part of when the fruits of your actions stop taking center stage as the impetus for those actions is the wonderful things that result. You’re provided the chance to touch numerous lives – which conversely means that numerous lives will touch yours.

Om Shanti