Fifty Shades of Psychology

A few weeks ago I finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I feel like it took me too long to get through, but I don’t often read fiction and the time I can dedicate to that kind of leisure activity sometimes is scarce.

I started reading the book after it was suggested by a Facebook friend. Historically, suggested reading leaves me frustrated and let down. A book about five love languages comes to mind. The vast majority of all books ever suggested to me have been books I finished and absolutely hated. Usually, good reading just finds its way to me.

Fifty Shades of Grey is …. well, a grey area for me.

The writing is very clearly by a female author – you could guess this probably without even knowing the author’s name. In discussing the writing style with a female coworker (who has not read the book, and likely won’t – she’s also not seen the movie.) she said that much of the writing I was choking on was typical of female writers. I recall that, for the bulk of the book, one of the main characters, Anastasia, was found to be blushing at every turn – like, about 5 times per page – apparently immensely bashful. And the other main character, Mr. Christian Grey, while not bashful at all, is almost always described – in practically every scene – in the same way. The color and condition of his hair, his eyes, and the way those stupid grey sweatpants “fall” on his hips. That was very tiring and made me wonder why a billionaire had such a limited wardrobe. I found myself quite often skipping entire sections, multiple paragraphs at a time just to avoid the superfluous descriptions.

Some people focus on the fact that this book (and the ones that followed) technically counts as smut. And I suppose it does. It’s true that there are a number of parts in this first book that count as such. But, in my opinion, for a book centering not only around a sexual relationship but specifically around a BDSM sexual relationship, the writing is rather… innocent. I feel it’s likely not nearly as graphic as it could be.

Quite honestly, some of the scenes in the book are enough to get anyone hot and bothered but what really kept me reading was the psychology involved. Even the raciest scenes from the book really aren’t terribly stellar – save for the mental part of it all. She’s the younger of the two, not quite a college graduate when the book begins, and ridiculously inexperienced – It’s only a couple weeks prior to college graduation and the only male she’d ever kissed prior to all this was her dad. Grey, on the other hand, is older (although not by much), completely independent, successful, very rich, and not naïve in any form whatsoever. His sexual life appears to have begin while he was in his mid/late teens.

Many times I wanted to smack the author. I would finish reading a section or a chapter and find myself thinking, “Really? REALLY?” and wonder how in the world anything like this could ever become the money-making phenomenon it is. Three books to start out, then a movie, and now a fourth book (which has already had drama of its own, being stolen and whatnot). Ridiculous.

Still the back and forth between the two, while sometimes absolutely lame, really gets one thinking about human interactions. Or it did me, anyway. I think in lots of ways and on lots of levels all of us are playing these “Dom” and “Sub” roles. It goes far deeper than just who holds the riding crop and who squeals in pain (delight?).

Interestingly, the Sub in all of this is the one with the true control. The Dom is perhaps recognized as the active force in the relationship and its interactions. And truly, the Dom is that. But the Submissive is the one with the real and total power. It apparently takes a very strong, determined, and dedicated entity to fulfill successfully the receptive role in Nature / Life, and I think this is paralleled in true spirituality.

In Sahaj Marg we speak of “becoming” instead of “experiences.” A lot of the work abhyasis do is to remain open and permissive of the “will” of our evolution and integration. This is not unlike the way Anastasia has to be open to the will of her Dom – open to the various things he has planned and the path on which he intends to direct her for very specific purposes, including his idea of punishments. (In the book her habits of rolling her eyes and biting her bottom lip are almost always getting her into trouble.) And yet, as open as she must remain for the exchange to work, she remains absolutely 100% in control. The book makes this clear more than once, and it’s no less true in spirituality. Our gurus are often referenced as “master” and in many stories they behave quite a bit like strict Doms – their punishments and lessons often seeming enigmatic or harsh at the time. But just as in this book, our gurus / masters can’t have the intended effect without our permission and complete willingness.

In Sahaj Marg we reference our “Masters.” Here is an interesting blend of what could be considered the Dom / Sub. The masters of our lineage guide us in ways that are often beyond our understanding and comfort – and there are accounts of this relationship even being somewhat harsh. Additionally, each Sahaj Marg master has emphasized that no work can be done on or through the abhyasi without the devotee’s full participation, namely willingness and permission.

It’s not about forcing anything or pain for the sake of pain or amusement. It’s a true and deep example of how “no pain no gain” is in many instances very valid. Our spiritual evolution requires active participation: our submission (permission) and willingness. Without these no Guru, no Guide… no Master can serve the higher purpose and our growth is incredibly unlikely.

When I first came to Sahaj Marg, I struggled with the gurus being called masters. Seemed cultish to me. But I find it very fitting. These individuals are truly masters. Like Christian Grey who came to BDSM far ahead of Anastasia, our gurus mastered the path that we’re following now and are the ultimate insofar as capable guides are concerned. And, like Anastasia we’re the submissive / permissive and retain the entirety of control and responsibility.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti




I’ve said before that as humans, we’re in a unique position among the Earth’s inhabitants of being able to govern our own life experiences, above the instinctual lasso that binds other life forms. A big part of this is the absolutely immense capacity we have for being able to watch and learn, or read and learn, or hear and learn… It this point in human history, with nothing new under the sun, we’re very able to know without learning the hard way.

In that spirit, I find myself most often quite ready, willing, and (mostly) able to share wisdom and experiences collected in my current life. The purpose is two-fold: For my own reference later in my journey, and for whatever benefit any reader might take. And quite often, lately anyway, I’ve been learning and allowing myself to be guided through the teachings of the Sahaj Marg Masters/Gurus. I’ve yet to be let down – quite the opposite! At this point I’m certain that if I’d tackled the writings of the Masters, then I’d not have stepped away from the Marg the first time.

In addition to the fabulous readings, in recent weeks my meditations and the transmission received have been particularly potent and effective. Unlike the reading, however, my experiences with meditation and transmission are far more challenging to express here. In fact, they are often difficult to express during my own Sahaj journaling. And, naturally, the things I am able to express while journaling are meant for the journal only.

I really wish so many others who are not currently abhyasis could have the same. I know others’ own experiences are valid for the place and time in which they are gained, and I respect and value that difference, but this doesn’t make me wish less that these experiences could be communicated and shared.

Until things change again, all the grace that is mine to give I gladly forward on to you.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Know What?


A short time ago I asked a precious pal of mine whether he thought Self-Realized souls in human bodies know they’re perfected. He chewed on that question from 17:43 until his response came at 18.59, after which time his answer was, “Yes.” He went on to explain that he thinks they “just know” even if they don’t fully understand it or recognize it from birth. He brought up that some are simply wise beyond their years and than many, after they realize this, would perhaps still not think they are “perfected.”

I think I can agree to all that, although I might have originally been going in a different direction.

A long time ago I read somewhere that, “The eye itself cannot see itself. Brahman cannot see Brahman.” I’m sure if that were googled, the source might be found, but I’m not doing that right now. At any rate, it makes sense, right? When was the last time your eyeball was able to see itself (without the use of some kind of reflective surface)? Pointing out that Brahman cannot see Itself, to me, ties back into the Impersonality of It and even of how I’ve written about God being love, but not being loving.

In the book I’m reading currently, “The Call of Spirituality,” the question of whether a Master can know he is a Master is asked. The conclusion reached is that when a Master reaches his Master’s state, he knows his Master – but doesn’t know his own state – which happens to be pretty well one and the same (yoga). I think in this situation the loss of traits like ego and samskaras are part of the reason why one can achieve elevated states and not be filled with the knowledge of that achievement. So what, then?

Part of the answer to the aforementioned question is that the Master can look “downward” to his own disciples to gain perspective on his own state (which is like that of his own Master). Chariji indicates, “By seeing our Master we come to know what he is and what he looks like. He can know his own condition when one of his disciples reaches that stage. Therefore, after understanding his own Master, the Master understands himself.” Surely this phenomenon accounts, at least in part, for why we often reference our gurus as mirrors. To help put this into an understandable perspective, a girl understands the qualities of a mother (who and what a mother is) by watching her own mother (or even another mother). But to know about motherhood, she has to give birth, become a mother, and experience it.

I think this kind of implies a hierarchy of sorts where to know your Goal and to progress you must look onward and upward toward That which you’re reaching and progressing. But to actually know and maybe even measure your progress, you have to look downward – so to speak. Perhaps you can’t know the heights you’ve reached without looking to see how far from the ground you are.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Good Company

Naga Sadhu

Naga Sadhu

I recently went to my favorite book store, Half Price Books. I have made a promise to myself that I’d frequent the place less because I need clothes currently more than I need books and since I’m not as likely to shop for clothes, this will hopefully help balance me a little as well as eliminate some bills I have, which will in turn contribute to another goal. None of that is actually very relevant right now, though. I went and bought a book ( more than just one actually ) and I wanted to share a bit from it with you.

The title is “In the Company of a Siddha,” and pretty much the whole thing is a series of documented interviews with Swami Muktananda. This lineage, I believe, comes from Kashmir Shaivism and his sect focuses a bit more on the practice of devotees receiving shaktipat from the lineage leaders – gurus who are qualified to bestow that kind of thing. There’s part of an interview between Muktananda and several interviewers from a German (Munich) newspaper called Esslinger Zeitung that I found interesting. I’ll have to double check the book, which isn’t in front of me currently, but I think the interview I’m pointing to took place not much prior to the Baba’s mahasamadhi. Knowing this, I get goose bumps – most people simply never know when someone else’s last moments as they currently are might arrive.

This dance in life is quite literally unstoppable. It is what allows for physical existence. It’s the very process of maturation. And it also serves as the means to transcend our material bonds, allowing for escape from the wheel of death and rebirth. It is supreme and all will have to bow to it at some time or another.

The impermanence of the human lifespan isn’t what I intend to focus on for this post, though. Rather, I want to discuss a little about the impermanence of religion. I think Baba Muktananda’s words in the interview I’ve mentioned do well at expressing what I believe in my heart of hearts. The words are shared immediately below.

EZ: You know the condition of people here in the West. What do you think are the reasons for it? Is religion wrong? Is the church wrong? Is society wrong? What is the cause of it?

BABA: It is hard to say where the fault lies. You cannot say that the fault lies in religion because if it is a true religion it cannot be wrong. If a religion is founded by a great being, it cannot be false. Maybe the followers are at fault. Westerners take a lot of interest in outer pleasures and think there is truth in them. They take very little interest in the inner Self. That is why misery has increased.

EZ: People here who begin to take interest in the inner Self, don’t go back to their old religions. They take interest in the religion and philosophy of the East. What is the reason for this?

BABA: After people take interest in the inner Self, for them orthodox religion is dry. You should understand what religion is. In Sanskrit the word for religion is adhva, which means “a path.” One who has become absorbed in the bliss of the Self no longer takes interest in the path.

EZ: A path is just a means to reach the goal.

BABA: Yes. When you are thirsty, you look for water. After you quench your thirst, you no longer need it. A saint once said, “When my mind has become soaked in the holy river of the heart, why should I take a dip in the Ganges?” In the same way, one who has become immersed in God’s love takes no interest in formal religion.”

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

The dance of life, Shiva’s Tandava Nrtya, that’s mentioned above applies to everything everywhere – including humans and how they rely on religion. From the human perspective this dance is a fine one, indeed! On one hand, humans are encouraged to find within religion and spiritual practices the structure necessary for growth. That growth though, is meant to enable the transcendance of religion, which was itself only ever meant to be a tool. When a tool has served its purpose, it should be placed aside. I think many humans find problems – indeed create additional problems – by remaining ignorant of a tool they possess, possessing improper understanding of that tool’s usage to begin with, and inadequately understanding when to set that tool aside – although the last issue is less of a burden because for some this happens somewhat naturally, depending on what path their maturation has taken.

It’s important for someone to do the homework necessary to remove this kind of ignorance. Hinduism, being an experiential religion, mandates that you can’t simply know or feel. You can’t just read about Truth. Singing and dancing ecstatically will only get you so far. You must make yourself transcend. You must make your path. You can get far on knowing and feeling, but without experience you’ll be missing a big part of the picture.

I would encourage you, dear reader, to exercise your “knowing” and your “feeling” and use that experience to realize Shiva-ji’s Nrtya, His Tandava. Without fear, actively dance in this life. Dance through it. And then, when maturation and karmas coincide, dance beyond it.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti