Agni Lost / ज्ञानयुक्त भक्ती, Jnanayukta Bhakti (devotion guided by knowledge)

I’ve mentioned in other posts about how influenced I am by Shri Eckhart Tolle. If I can be honest, I’m hoping to be further influence by him. It does a person good, and I’ve been clear on my recommendation that each person should read his work, A New Earth, which is pretty much timeless.

In some of the earlier chapters of A New Earth, he details SO many things that are tough to chew for the every day human. However, things change a bit after about a third of the book, and assuming you’ve invested in the foundation information in those early pages, the rest becomes a matter of application.

This application was tested recently. I have a good pal, who I think sometimes cringes when I quote him here or post to Sthapati inspired by him or our conversations. This will (almost?) be one of those times.

Recently, he advised me that I sometimes “forget that even though Ganesha is Aum ITself, and therefore a stone’s throw away from BRAHMANity, that doesn’t stop other Ishtadevatas from being the absolute best possible path for someone else.” I know precisely where this originates, although it came to me quite unexpectedly. And if I may be honest, it stopped me in my tracks.

Although I’ve already composed a great many words on this, I’m not sure they’re all to be shared. I can share, however, why this gave me pause.

My first reaction – and that’s all it was, a reaction – is that this is inaccurate of me. However, a result of Jnanayoga is that reactivity rules one less and less and I refused to react initially. Immediately, I set out to discern the Truth about this statement.

Is this a case of misunderstanding on my friend’s part? Perhaps he’s misperceiving my words and sentiments? Would this be his ego getting in the way of messages I mean to actually convey or have I used the wrong words when I write? Or, just as bad if not worse, is MY ego the culprit here? Perhaps, as much as I keep my ego in check, I slipped and some of my words were flavored in this way? I suppose this is likely as long as I retain human form. Maybe all the above? Maybe none of the above? Is it possible my bhakti rubs (or rubbed) his own in the wrong way? I’ve seen this happen a bajillion times, since much bhakti in many bhaktas (and people in general) still rests on the more superficial levels of our humanhood.

All these potentials as well as so many more which I care not to list here could be on the table. It’s because of all these and the many others that I’m not likely to post the numerous other words I’ve written about all this.

Ultimately, none of them matters because of one fancy word: Responsibility. My responsibility is to my own development. And until others seek me in such a way, my responsibility is to none other. There’s a quote I read once, “I’m responsible for the words I say, not for how you understand them.”

There’s HUGE immense truth to that, although I don’t really fully agree with it. However, it’s precisely because of this that I’m given pause. I also find it to be my responsibility to communicate well and effectively. On that note I can admit to also taking on the (pretend) responsibility of guiding the understanding of others. It’s because of these factors that my posts are invariably never quick reads. At any rate, it seems clear that I’ve failed…somewhere.

As silly as it’s going to sound, a character from the Lord of the Rings comes to mind. She some kind of great elf witch or something. Her name is Galadriel. She seems to come from good stock, and she’s virtuous enough. But she’s not without deficit still. When Frodo and his band arrive in her woods, she welcomes them and sees into each so that she can know. She’s also presented with an opportunity – she’s definitely powerful enough to take the ring they carry and make herself even more powerful. But in Tolle’s terms this is ego, and luckily she recognizes that this opportunity is also a test. Like anything else in existence, it can be directed variously. She realizes this and also recognizes that as long as she has to make a choice, she’s not “there yet.” The way she puts it is that this opportunity, or test, would potentially make her “great and terrible.” (Terrible having a different meaning than is mostly used or understood today) She recognizes that being great, terrible, or any combination of the two is of no benefit – both must be transcended.

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When my friend shared his perception with me, I was faced with an opportunity – a test of my own karmas, both current and future. Should I have attempted to clarify with my friend? Would that have been an honest attempt or just my ego self-preserving? Would it matter either way, and is it even my responsibility? Tolle would ask me if I’m “less” because of anyone’s (mis)perception or because of my own ego. The answer is no. The answer also parallels that of Galadriel’s when she’s able to see the ring for what it means – she indicates that she’s passed the test, but also that she will consequently withdrawal to the West. (I think?)

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For a few days now I’ve also done a bit of a pull-back. As the days have passed recently clarity has come, but not entirely. Although I can’t retreat to the West as Galadriel did, I can and will remain in puja and sadhana. This is required to minimize the chances of future failure, and also to enter future failures with more clarity than I did this one.

Whoa.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya namaha
Om Shanti

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Circularity

A reposted pic that came on my Facebook newsfeed recently said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I’m adding that pic to this post for your viewing enjoyment. This struck me, actually, and it reminded me of the quote by Alexander Hamilton that “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” I think the superficial understanding/interpretation of these two is bologna, and I plan to explore them in more detail here. Tune out now, if you care not.

Let’s take the second one first. So, apparently, if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything. I don’t think so, really. I think one implication here is something like, “If you don’t know where you are, you might end up anywhere.” (Which, conveniently enough, ties into the other saying being examined in this post!) My husband is actually a great example of why this is bullcrap. He’s not religious in any way, but he does know devotion. He doesn’t focus on humanitarian stuffs, but cares much about the well-being of our society. He votes, and usually Democrat, but he’s not officially affiliated with any one side. He shirks the label of vegetarian, but he’s like 98% plant-based in his eating. In more than one area of his life, it could easily be said, he doesn’t actually stand for anything. And officially, he pretty much refuses suchery. Yet, he’s actually quite clever and reasonable and is by no means a person I’d suspect would “fall for anything.” I think this particular phrase, from someone of western culture and of the Abrahamic background, is typical. In a billion other religions and cultures around the world, folks have been encouraged to know their path and stick to it. But historically this has been taken to extremes in the West by the Abrahamics, who perpetually insist that not only must you be wrong for them to be right, but that if you’re not for them you must automatically be against them. And so, for people of that mindset, it naturally reasons that if you stand for nothing you’re an idiot who will fall for anything. My spouse refuses to stand for most things (at least in the way most people would expect someone to stand for something), but he is by no means someone who falls for anything. In his case, it’s almost more a matter of avoiding the drama of standing for something else (for the record, this is not the same as being lazy!). I’m probably not doing him justice in this encapsulation, but he’s the best example I could think of right off. And that’s that. Standing for nothing does not equate or necessitate falling for anything. And so we move on.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

I think, in short, this implies that if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never really arrive. Unfortunate, aimless, wandering is the tragedy implied here. No? As with the previous saying, I think the inadequacy of this one is solved when taken from a dharmic perspective.

In most parts of most dharmic religions, a central understanding revolves around the concept that all comes from the same Source. The other side of that coin is that all returns to the same Source. Also understood, is that the Source (Brahman) is beyond all classification. “Neti, neti,” we say in Hinduism. Not this. Not that. The Source is not only everywhere we look and in everything we see, but simultaneously transcends all of phenomenal existence. Something else that highlights this point is known as Om Purnam, and it goes,

“Om purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacchyate. Purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavashishyate.”

This translates roughly as, “That is infinite, this is infinite. From That Infinite this infinite comes. From That Infinite, this infinite removed; The Infinite still remains.” It can be kinda lofty  to wrap your mind around at first, but it’s one of the best descriptions of Brahman, the simultaneous Source and Destination, that I’ve found and because of this I’ve had it tattooed around my left wrist/forearm.

So, coming back to our original topic, it’s quite literally impossible and illogical to not only not get where you’re going but also to mostly even to cognitively know where you’re going. It then reasons that not only are most folks who read things like the sign above misinterpreting it, but also are reading the very Truth! It’s technically easier for the human manas/buddhi/ahamkara to know where it’s not going that where it is, while at that exact moment and forever after, any road will get you there.

Om shanti