Nature and God

Daaji arrived at Ahmedabad airport to begin his trip to Mumbai. He was sitting with a small group in the lounge when the flight was delayed. He was remembering his travels with Babuji Maharaj. It was Babuji’s flight to Delhi after the Surat Birthday Celebrations. Babuji was at the airport waiting for a flight to Delhi. The flight was supposed to go to Jaipur first and then to Delhi, and Daaji was also travelling with him.

Daaji was waitlisted at number 136, so normally there would have been no chance of him getting on the flight. Soon the airline announced that there were sand storms around Jaipur area and the flight would not be landing there. Many cancelled their trip and so eventually Daaji got a seat. Babuji looked at him with a smile and said, “You are happy now!” Daaji happily recalled other incidents about Babuji. These small stories took everyone somewhere!

The spiritual life is about remembrance in the heart and love for the Beloved.

It was supposed to be a short flight to Mumbai, but it took a long time to land. During the flight, a lady walked up to Daaji and said, “You look like my son’s friend Marg!” She was happy and surprised by this unexpected meeting.

Later in Mumbai, at 5:45 p.m. in the evening, it was nice weather, so after finishing his work, Daaji went out to sit in the garden. A small group of industrialists had come to meet him. Daaji spoke to them about spirituality and how an experiential approach is the most practical one which leaves one with no ambiguity. He also spoke about the idea of being and non-being. Then he offered the guests the immediate experience of meditation with him. After meditation, there was a short informal interaction with newcomers about consciousness and Yoga. He encouraged them all to meditate and explore further.

Here are some snippets from the session:

“Quality of work drastically changes for good in the spiritual environment.”

“Meditation improves our moral and work ethics.”

“Evolution is not a matter of choice. It has to happen.”

“Many people argue: why can’t an all-powerful God change humanity for good? How can you change without willingness? One should invite change willingly.

If I have to become like my cherished personality,

“… I have to imbibe those qualities. If I have to become like that individual personality, I have to imbibe creativity in me if I dream to become like God – that is point number one.

“Then there are other qualities that can be observed in Nature: I have to become simple and in tune with Nature. What is Nature? Take trees, for example: they take the minimum and give out the maximum. So, am I able to receive the minimum, or nothing at all, and give the maximum? That is God-like. So, even though I may not have happiness, I have to give that. I then become that, and I don’t even care for it anymore. So the second principle, which comes from Nature, is efficiency – taking in the minimum and giving out the maximum.

“The third principle, also from Nature, can be seen when we observe the trees in the US, shedding their leaves just before the winter commences. They adjust themselves for the colder weather. The trees have to preserve all their energy and resources in their roots. They do not have the luxury of extra leaves on their branches. They shed them, sacrificing. In our case, are we able to adjust with the external in our relationships? To do so, we have to sacrifice some of our habits. It is better if we can adjust.

“The fourth thing is that Nature is its simplicity, NO complexities.

“The fifth thing that I find is automatism. For example, trees bear flowers automatically when the season comes. That automatic response is not there in us. Our response is, ‘What do I get out of this?’ Based on that we play with it.

“So these five things help us to be in tune with Nature and God.”

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Pipe Distribution

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

I receive a number of emails daily from the Sahaj Marg. There are newsletters, and daily inspiration emails, as well as a number of other kind of emails that are issued daily.

In one email from last week, something caught my attention. It is a Daily Reflection email and while the quotes recently have been a lot of things from Kamlesh-bhai, this one was something our last master, Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari ( Chariji ), had said. I’ll share his words below. (The source is Heartspeak 2004, Volume 2, Chapter “Giving Without Restraint”)

So it starts with your heart being a tiny pipe. The more you distribute, that pipe becomes bigger and bigger. It becomes a six inch pipe, a twelve inch pipe, until the whole universe is a pipe.

The thing that caught me about this is the use of the word distribute. I chewed on it for a minute by myself and then reached out to one of my favorite preceptors locally. She started to email me a response and then we agreed to chat about it after that evening’s meditation (it was Wednesday). That night, after meditation and after most of the others had gone, she and I chatted about this. I now can’t do our discussion justice – we discussed, among many things, what I have come to call a “vishwaroopa moment.” The immensely successful Oprah has what I think she calls “Aha moments,” and I think this is my mind’s equivalent of it.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Bhagavad Gita, it’s a conversation between Arjuna (a warrior and taxi driver) and Krishna (god, in a human body). Arjuna is pretty messed up and right there in the middle of the battlefield Krishna tries to enlighten the despondent Arjuna. He offers one approach and then another, example after example, and Arjuna just ain’t gettin’ it. Finally, Krishna’s like, “Look here, you fool….” and reveals his “true” form. Arjuna is given a vision of Truth and how very all-encompassing It is. He sees, literally, everything. All life forms, cosmic structure and activity, stars, teeth, eyes …. all before him – EVERYTHING. And, as expected, he freaks out and want Krishna to turn off the fireworks because they’re more than overwhelming. These moments (Oprah’s “Aha” and my “Vishwaroopa”) aren’t exactly synonymous. But for the purposes of this blog and this post, they are. They both represent a widening of knowledge and wisdom and understanding and experience. My conversation with the preceptor touched on a vishwaroopa moment, kinda.

She explained many things to me and collectively they added up to a very complete answer to my question – an answer so complete, in fact, that sooooo much was encompassed in it that when I tried to comprehend it as a single unit my mind’s eye kinda just stepped back all wide and whatnot and was like, “WHOA.” I’ll try to share, in a rather abbreviated way, what I took from our conversation that night.

  1. A part of the Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness practice is the rearranging of one’s consciousness.
  2. The movement involved in rearranging consciousness creates a kind of “vacuum.”
  3. In the aforementioned vacuum, there lies potential for greater and greater transmission, increasing in proportion to the growth of the aforementioned vacuum.
  4. The more we clean and practice this path of Heartfulness, the bigger (progressively) our “heart pipe” becomes.

This might not sound too fantastic from where you sit, but from where I currently sit on this path it’s incredible. It’s a Vishwaroopa Moment. Our lineage masters place so much hope in the abhyasis. Enormous faith is placed in us that we can be as effectual as they are – and so much of the picture has been revealed. You practice, rearrange your own consciousness (and in that process manage various impressions / samskaras and their related karmas), create the vacuum which is refilled with divinity of pureness, and as all this happens it continues and self-perpetuates – the pipe widens and eventually engulfs all and All. And so we come to know, experience, and be what Hindus call Brahman.

It’s amazing how much can be communicated by a master / guru in so few words.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Sapphire Blues

Me and two of my nephews

Me and two of my nephews

 

 

I read an online article not long ago about an ancient skeleton that was found in Spain and tests determined that the individual was blue-eyed … quite possibly among the first humans ever to have blue eyes. Apparently sometime around 7,000 years ago there was some kind of burp in a human family’s development and the first humans ever to mature with blue eyes were born. I think that far back into human history something like this would have been really incredible.

The Hindu dharma, by then, was already quite old. People had already been around for ages and ages. We had religion. I can only imagine that genetic mutations like this one or the one that causes red hair were then seen as quite a bit more magical than they are now. I’m sure these first blue-eyed humans were either practically worshiped or were the targets of what we now call superstition and possibly were seen as bad omens. ( The photo at the beginning of this post is of myself and just two of my nephews. Note that our hair colors and eye colors differ quite a bit. Please believe me when I tell you that we’re possibly the best AND worst omens that might ever come into your life! LOL )

Humans tend to do that. We don’t seem to naturally celebrate diversity. If everyone has brown eyes, then the ONE person around who has blue eyes has got to be bad. Right? Same with gingers. And, in a more modern context, certainly the same with gays. Ego is a bitch.

I remember in Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth,” that there is mention of consciousness manifesting itself through flowers – and that this was probably one of the earliest manifestations of consciousness on our planet. I already love plants and Tolle’s description of the vibrant colors of flowers on showing up on our planet really touched me. Surely a similar process (from the Consciousness side of Life) happened when blue eyes first opened. And just like the colors and shapes of flowers, I think the appearance of blue eyes here served (serves?) a purpose. I might be able to speculate what that purpose was / is, but I’d rather not. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is not to get caught up in the blue of an eye’s iris or the red of some rose. These things are fantastic and wonderful and beautiful. But they aren’t “real” and too much attention directed toward these things is what leads the human mind to link the blue of someone’s eyes to the drought plaguing that region or to victory in battle or … something. This is superstition. This is unnecessary. And this causes the formation of heavy samskaras that we carry with us for a long time – lifetimes even!

The gurus and sages of my lineage (going back to Patanjali and before) knew this and, in an evolutionary twist of its own kind, presented a path for humans to walk that helps with these samskaras. Aspirants receive a kind of “jump start” through the aid of our prefects and (for me) almost immediately one’s connection to a much bigger network of human evolution becomes practically palpable. With continued practice, deeper and deeper experiences are had. (The experiences are not the goal – but could in some ways been seen as “proof” of progress or evolution.) In my experience, it didn’t take long at all to feel the “bonds” of that evolutionary network while in the presence of others meditating. And I can tell you from my own experience that in a very short period of time even in greater audiences – anywhere in public, really – you can sense that same interconnectedness. This is one of the best aspects of our path, for me. It’s almost along the lines of our Constant Remembrance. What starts as a rather solitary experience (the “jump start” mentioned) grows into something experience consistently when in the company of other abhyasis and then widens even more and can be felt with those who haven’t even heard of our path. It’s an incredible boon to one’s personal evolution and little-by-little aids one in transcending those sticky places so many humans get caught… like blue eyes.

Ours is a brilliant kind of system that doesn’t require you to have already mastered a certain number of levels of spiritual or evolutionary attainment. You don’t need to manifest siddhis or have spent hours / days / years in solitude meditating. Our method does require work on the abhyasi’s part, but that should be understood as a given on any path one takes. By comparison to many paths, the Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg path is efficient and … dare I say it … quick. It makes me look so forward to experiencing the next steps for humanity.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Prayer

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

In the Heartfulness tradition (Sahaj Marg) we have a prayer – one prayer, that I’m aware of. It’s our “official” prayer if it can be said that we have one. According to one of our sites ( which you can access by clicking here ) this is a part of our practice employed at the beginning of the day and at the end. Abhyasis ( Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness meditators ) start and end each day in much the same way – a short prayer followed by meditation. In the evening we also “clean,” but that’s not for this post.

My default opinion regarding prayer is that it should be organic – living, and a bit unorganized. But, I can admit, that opinion of mine really only exists as a shell – hollowed out parts of prior religious experiences that don’t have much to do with spirituality. Many religious traditions use prayer and in many of those traditions prayer is something that comes pre-formulated. Hindus have mantras. Catholics have the Hail Mary. Even Muslims have pre-formed prayer that is recited at regular times and in certain ways – even their declaration of faith (Laa ilaaha illallah, waa …). So this is common to many paths. The more I think about this, the more logical it seems (to have formulated prayer, I mean).

I’ve said a number of times here on Sthapati Samanvayam that most of the prayer that seems to come from humanity is just noise – with not much of it amounting to more than, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” Even the Prayer of St. Francis, which has always really touched me is in that category to some degree. We beg, demand, and insist to our idea of God that something we think we need or want should happen. Sometimes we just state what we desire, but often times we bargain with It, “Dear God if you do such-n-such for me, I’ll do such-n-such for you in return.” Think about that – bargaining with your idea of the Creator of the Cosmos. If there even is a Cosmic Creator, what then, on earth of all places and from a piddly human creature, do you think It could possibly need? And if you get beyond the idea that God could “need” something from you, tackle the notion that God actually wants something from you. It’s hilarious, really.

And beyond that hilarity, it’s selfish on every level and in pretty much every instance. I mean, even when we pray for someone else’s safe travel there’s an element there that is self-protective. Yeah, sure, you want your loved one to make it home safe and sound – for their sake – but also for yours. No one likes the pain of losing loved ones to a car crash, right? So when you pray, “God please grant safe journey to my mom on her way home tonight,” you’re saying two things – “Get my mom home safely, for her well-being” and also “I’m not ready to experience the pain of that kind of loss, so keep her alive longer yet.” I mean, honestly, have you ever heard someone pray, “God, I’m fine with the idea that my mom may be killed by a drunk driver tonight, but I don’t think she’d like that so please get her home safely. Thanks.” Umm, I’ve never heard that. We might not outright-ly speak the selfish side of our prayer (or we might, whatever) but it’s virtually always there – at least when prayer is organic.

So, for me, a pre-formed prayer is usually “better” than the usual kind of prayer I think people use. There could be many reasons for this, but one that stands out in light of things I just wrote is that the prayer can be prayed without ego actively involved in the process. This is one time when taking the easy route perhaps has more merits. With a pre-formed prayer you are still engaged – you enter a prayerful bhav and you’re usually in a place that has that “vibe.” You probably will have your mala / rosary to count the repetitions. A lot of divine things still apply, but the part of you where the ego has the most effect is less involved and in some cases might be entirely absent.

In the Sahaj Marg prayer, there’s no asking. There’s not really any begging or pleading or bargaining. Our prayer is really just a statement…

O Master!
Thou art the real goal of human life.
We are yet but slaves of wishes putting bar to our advancement.
Thou art the only God and Power to bring us up to that stage.

In our practice, the word Master is used in two meanings. We refer to the gurus in our lineage as Masters and we call the Guru within the same. This prayer, to be clear, is not a prayer to the guru, but to the Guru. Our lineage masters are those guides on our shared path who help to direct and assist us on our journey to the Master within each of us. Naturally, we revere them and respect them and value them greatly, but they are in no way any kind of religious dictator or ruler. Anyone who has interacted with our masters or observed them via video, audio, or text will attest to as much. Our masters are gentle, patient, and not only possess but exhibit immense understanding and compassion.

So when our hearts speak, “O Master….” we’re calling the deepest and truest part of our existence as human beings. The Center and the Goal – which is indicated in the next line of the prayer. The next two lines couple nicely. We recognize a condition inherent to living a human life – we’re filled with wishes. This is the “Gimme, gimme, gimme” mentioned earlier. These wishes keep us from peace and keep us adding to our samsaric layers. We stop our own advancement and That which is already within us, which IS who we truly are,  is the only solution.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Maxim X

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

The final of the Ten Maxims in Sahaj Marg helps us conclude our day. Fitting, considering the initial maxims helped us start the day.  “At bedtime, feeling the presence of God, repent for the wrongs committed. Beg forgiveness in a supplicant mood, resolving not to allow repetition of the same.” This is another maxim that I’d like to offer a twist of my own on as I break it into its parts.

“At bedtime, feeling the presence of God…” Many religious people, traditionally speaking, pray at bedtime. But that’s not exactly what’s being talked about here. Prayer is talking to God. Not listening. Not feeling. Prayer is a making of noise – and I plan to write about the Sahaj Marg daily prayer in a future post. Imagine, though, getting into bed at the very end of your day and FEELING the presence of God. What would That feel like? I hope it would feel like the you-est of you. You climb into bed and under the covers, on your back and facing the ceiling with your head on the pillow. And then you feel the presence of God. Really, what would it feel like? At that point in the day, and certainly depending on the day you experienced, you could potentially feel (or think) many different things. But the presence of God? I’ll suggest that you strip away the happenings of the day that ultimately led you back to your bed where you started many hours prior. (This could, in a round-about way, be related to our practice of cleaning.)

The traffic you fought. The conversations with coworkers. The lunch you had. The win / lose experienced by your child at their volley ball game. Whatever comes to mind about the day – let it out the window. Keep letting the thoughts and emotions of the day pass out of your mind as quickly as they enter. Even if the stream of thoughts is steady and seems not to end, you should soon notice the part of your awareness or consciousness that is present before, during, and after each mental object. The part of you that is watching all that movement within your mind. That is you, the Real You. And that is non-different, qualitatively, from God. It’s tough to see and feel and know – and most people hardly do more than get a small taste at any one time, but it’s there. Always. That presence has been with you the whole day and is now with you as you bring the day to a close. Feel that Presence.

“…, repent for the wrongs committed.” Be careful with this one. I’ll suggest to you that the habit of listing so-called sins is a dangerous one and one that too predictably does more damage than benefit. In order to repent for your wrongs, you have to be able to cite or list them. That’s generally an unproductive thing to do. However, there’s no harm in being a bit aware of shortcomings and specifically those of the day that is ending. I just think this activity warrants a personal assessment of what defines a wrong.

“Beg forgiveness in a supplicant mood, resolving not to allow repetition of the same.” Begging for forgiveness strikes me as odd. The Goal or our Center …. “God” doesn’t keep a list of our sins. The same Being doesn’t – at all – punish us for shortcomings. As such, who are we begging for forgiveness? Ponder that, if you will. The real meat of this part of the maxim, from where I sit, starts with the word supplicant. If you can manage an aware feeling of the Presence and also become aware of your shortcomings for that day, then I think you’ll find a natural response is humility and supplication. And gratitude. And once all of that is on the plate, the natural response – which really should come naturally – is to resolve that tomorrow would be better (aka: resolving not to allow repetition of the same.)

There’s no need (or benefit) to beating yourself up at this point. The day itself has probably done a fair enough job at that. As you wrap up your day, feel that Presence which has always been with you, accept your truth with humility and supplication, and go to sleep intending that tomorrow will be better than today was. I hope this series on the Sahaj Marg Maxims has been helpful in some way. And if not, that’s okay, too.  🙂

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Maxim IX

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

 

“Mould your living so as to rouse a feeling of love and piety in others.” The ninth maxim. For anyone unfamiliar with the word, as it’s not a terribly common one these days, “piety” means a quality of being religious or reverent. Devoutness. Saintliness.

The first thing that struck me is that, by itself, this maxim could easily confuse people. On a number of levels it can tie into the things we’ve discussed in earlier maxims, but this feels like a maxim that would best be supplemented by commentary from the masters of our lineage. If it were a commandment or something in another religion it would likely come with lots of explanatory interpretations and guidelines on how to best implement it into the believer’s life.

In regard to the use of the word piety in this maxim I think there’s a new understanding that should apply. For one, the path of Heartfulness helps us see that religion is to be left behind just as kindergarten is. So I think to say that piety here means that we’re meant to invoke a feeling of religiosity in others is inaccurate. Reverence, though, is likely more applicable and more practical for today.

If you “mould your living” in a way that causes others to experience love and induces a feeling of reverence for who you are, how you conduct yourself, and the overall value of your life as a whole in relation to the lives of those witnessing your living.

I was recently talking with a friend. I’ve known this person for the better part of a couple years already and we were chatting about many things in life, including our respective significant others. We were both comfortable enough to share with each other things we think might be better in our own lives if they were maybe different. During this part of our discussion, although I forget the details of how it came about, it was said to me by this friend, “I think anyone would want to be your husband, but I feel like I’m not good enough.” It obviously gave me pause and then, as anyone who knows me can attest, I insisted a statement like that be explained immediately. I got my explanation and the conversation kept moving, but my heart broke right then with humility.

I’m never doing anything other than what feels natural and right and true to be “Joshua” right now. I try to conduct myself in the best and highest way I know to, given any circumstance I might find myself in. Never once, truly, have I thought to myself that I need to do this or that to be better person or to get more people to like me. Frankly, I don’t even try to inspire people. I guess that kind of thinking isn’t part of who I am. And yet, that’s what happens sometimes with my connections to others. People sometimes think I’m cool or talented or even wise…. too good for them, even. It baffles me and flatters me and humbles me and invariably surprises me.

It can be tough to accept that you’re setting some kind of example when that idea isn’t even on your radar – but that’s exactly what we’re called to do in this maxim. Readers, I would encourage you at this point in our study of the maxims to look back and assess. How much of the prior maxims do you incorporate into your life and what example does that mean you’re setting for others to witness? Do you feel the need to set more of an example? Less of an example?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Maxim VIII

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

 

“Be happy to eat in constant Divine thought whatever you get with due regard to honest and pious earnings.”

This is the eighth maxim in Sahaj Marg. At this point, I’m not concerned with whether it ties into the earlier maxims because, as discussed earlier, that’s not necessary. And besides, their practice and implementation will lead to a very natural connectivity anyway. I feel very strongly, though, that this maxim is one of the most important.

Today, most people who come to Sahaj Marg or Heartfulness will have at least a minimal interest in Eastern religion / philosophy / spirituality. If nothing else, they’re wanting to learn meditation. Many times when people are learning of Eastern practices, including those who are not Westerners, they get caught up in rules. Finite and concrete and rigid rules – which isn’t what they actually are, but are instead the manner in which the Western mind interprets them. This is likely in large part due to the influence of Judaism / Christianity / Islam.  Those rules are intended to help the aspirant reproduce results of someone who came before and attained a goal. At no time are they ever meant to be prohibitive of life in general or the living of it.

But, sadly, that’s exactly what’s happened with a lot of things. One area in particular is food or diet. To be clear – I do think there are “better” ways of getting nutrition. Ways that don’t involve suffering or such high levels of death. Ways that are more responsible with our planet and its available resources. Generally speaking, I also think most spiritual or philosophical people would agree that a meat-free way of eating is in line with these ideas. But that is not – in any way – to say that eating meat condemns a person to hell or to subsequent lives on the wheel of samsara.

The Sahaj Marg masters all advise us that a vegetarian mode of eating is optimal. Agreed. But it should be noted that nowhere (that I’m currently aware of) is it compulsory. Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t doom you. It doesn’t mean you can’t be Heartful or spiritual or philosophical.

A good friend of mine recently posted to Facebook about how he’d gone somewhere to get some food (fast food-ish, I think) and after getting home he realized his order was only half complete. So he went back and got the rest of his food. Then came home and ate it … and then realized he’d consumed beef. I think he wasn’t happy about the slip (he’s vegetarian and might be vegan, or aspiring thereto), but it clearly wasn’t the end of the world to him. And it ought not to be.

There are a number of places throughout Hindu holy texts that reflect the truth and sentiment of this maxim. In all that I’ve read where this is concerned, the one’s being spoken of (the eaters) are holy people. And in every mention, the truth is that holy people have no aversion to specific foods. They eat what they are given or what is available. Not in the way a scavenger would, but in the way that someone who sees the Reality and Ultimate Truth – The Oneness – behind everything.

It’s really not that far removed from the idiocy that says the left hand is unclean while the right is clean. Ridiculous. They are attached to the same body! Be happy to eat whatever you get, the maxim says. Additionally, you’re to eat whatever you get “in constant Divine thought.” I’m here to tell you that ANYTHING – any action, thought, word – done in Divine thought, truly divine thought, is pure. Defining divine thought is a tough thing and not something for this post.

When you eat whatever you get, with regard to earnings, and do that eating with divine thought – you experience oneness and The Center and The Goal. You have no aversion. You cease adding layers of samskara which must later be peeled away. This is a part of our progression toward The Goal that is every bit as big as eating is in every day life.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti