Teachers To Me

It’s fairly safe to say that most people on the planet don’t really enjoy being challenged in regard to their deeper levels of existence. And of those who say they do, I think a fairly small percentage are being honest – many might like the idea of being challenged because of some of the noble implications, but like so many other things when it comes to practical application and the resultant experience, many tend to become shy in the face of that experience.

Not me. Actually, there’s not much I’m shy about these days… a near 180 from my demeanor as a youth. Sadly, my extroversion as an adult has at times gotten me into pickles. But I’m glad for the stories, no less.

So… in a few of my circles I’m the wise one. In a few of my circles I’m just “a” wise one. I’m sorting out how I feel about that exactly, and will likely be sorting that out for a while to come, but I’m happy to help anyone whenever I am able. And I do.

Still, I’m grateful (again and again) for those who are teachers to me. They provide me, when it’s needed usually, the challenge I’m seeking for my very own personal “next step.” One such teacher is a drag nun in California, I’ve mentioned her before, and her name is Sister Unity Divine. You’re able to locate her online without much effort, if you feel inclined. What I’m sharing below is a video of hers regarding God and Unity and our individual identity. Her flavor is that of Kashmiri Shaivism, which is only slightly different than my own path.

The Sister helps me. She helps me remember the nonduality inherent in (virtually all of) Shaivism, and of why I adhere primarily to that marg instead of a couple others available to me. She also helps me remember things I already knew – things I’ve taught others many times, but myself need reminded of periodically. She helps me to be glad for my humanness and the (often insane) humanity of others – something I’m usually glad for only infrequently.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti


Very Full Indeed


I have a Facebook friend who annoys me frequently. He’s forever posting “red flags” about one thing or another: high levels of metal in our drinking water, the poisons put into our food by the makers of it, various kinds of pollution no one has ever heard of. He’s also posting similarly annoying “good” things like sweet-ass recipes no one’s heard of, interesting facts about our culture, and upcoming events of interest that one might not otherwise know about.

One thing he never neglects to post about, about twenty times a day, is how gay people are faring in political world. I don’t mean gay politicians, although he’ll post about those too. He’s a sentinel of sorts. He’s truly ever watchful. Many times I wish he’d just give it a rest. But I’m glad he doesn’t.

People need to throw a stink about things that aren’t right.

People often have marches or boycott or petition… make real fusses about something they want changed. This is great and is effective. Something also important, though, is simply showing support.

Today was a pretty big day for gays in the USA. If you aren’t sure what I mean, grab any immediate news and fill yourself in. The heat behind the push for marriage equality has built and built, and is finally coming to a boil.

Like boiling water on skin, living as a gay person is often quite painful. Unless you’re good at fulfilling the public’s general expectations of male/female roles, daily life is not just challenging – it’s awkward, and embarrassing, and frustrating. And, quite sadly, sometimes dangerous and deadly. Even gays whose lives are “convenient” enough so as not to have as many worries as their gay brothers/sisters, still face uphill battles just about anywhere they turn. My intention isn’t to turn this post into a “pity the gays” post. Many have said that gay is the new black. I’m not sure I feel this is a great comparison, but it’s truly close enough. Consider black history and the struggle blacks went through for equality – and how blacks STILL often face discrimination. There are many parallels in the modern gay struggle.

Not everyone can march on Washington or otherwise throw a fit about life’s injustices. But everyone can show support for their loved ones, and this is crucial. Even the most confident individual appreciates – needs – support from the people in his life that mean the most to him.

The Facebook app on my phone is spotty, and throughout the day today I wasn’t on much. Then between getting new furniture and making dinner, it was close to 9pm before I even touched the computer. And when I did….

Today was a nice day at the office. It was great to finally have the new living room furniture in place. And at dinner, I literally stuffed myself with good food. And then I sign on to Facebook and for a minimum of fifteen minutes I scrolled my newsfeed in awe.

So much red!

And now, while my heart was full from a good day, and my stomach filled from a yummy dinner, so the same is to be said of my spirit!

My brother posted as long of a status post as I think I’ve ever seen, broadcasting his opinion that support should be shown every day and not just in changing one’s Facebook picture. His own wife did change her picture, and I read in a few different places where she explained to others that she was doing it to show support for her “loved ones.” My step-aunt has been very vocal on Facebook for a few days already about the ridiculousness of this kind of discrimination. My Hindu bahin (sister) in Atlanta took pictures of herself wearing red in support. There were a few instances where I expected to see something and didn’t, but just about everywhere I clicked or scrolled I found that so many “in” my life care for my happiness and the happiness of those like me.

My beloved sat before his computer around the time I did mine. His experience seemed to mirror that of my own and he updated his status with, “I have to say regardless of what effect it truly has, I am very humbled and pleased to see so much red on my friend feed today. It’s good to know there are so many supportive people out there!”

Humbled, indeed! I write to you now with goose bumps, and a heart so full I can feel it in the lump in my throat as I hold back tears.

After spending the last decade of my life with the guy I call my beloved, it’s my sincerest hope that sooner rather than later I’ll be able to legally marry him, and worry less about many things. Regardless of when that day comes, and surely it will, please don’t wait to tell someone you love that you love them, or someone you support that you support them – or even if you just mildly care about someone, tell them.

People need to know it.

Om Shanti


Today is Election Day in my country. My beloved had the entire morning’s activities planned out for us when the sun set days ago. You see, he intended for us to awake very early, be out the door only minutes later, and among the first in line at our local voting location. The fact that this week happens to also be the week during which he’s due into the office an hour earlier than usual made this particularly painful. However, much to his relief, I’m sure, everything went virtually exactly as planned. We were, indeed, among the first in line at our voting site and everything went really well except for the machines didn’t work at first. Apparently, the voting machines all over my county (Hamilton) were giving the operators some kind of error when they tried recalibrating them. I have to admit, after hearing about some Ohio machines being owned by Romney’s son, it wasn’t too comforting to know there was a “problem” with the machines in my own majority-conservative locale. After about twenty minutes, though, things were somehow ironed out and the voting began. Within seventy-five minutes’ time my vote was cast and my tired butt was headed to work.

After all of this, and because I wasn’t able to rest my eyes, I pulled my phone out and began seeing what Facebook might be looking like already. At that time, still rather early, there wasn’t much going on. By the time I’m writing this, it seems the rest of god and the US population has awakened and are posting. One of the earliest posts for today that I noticed was a call from Sister Unity Divine. Her post was a simple request that folks recite the Rudram today while the election is in process. Her post carried a photo of Shiva Nataraj before a background of the American flag.



I’ve heard of the Rudram before, but I’m mostly unfamiliar with it. Since I arrived at work so early, I decided to take the extra time before other arrived for a little sadhana, and meditated on all Shiva means, focusing on His aspect as the embodiment of pure consciousness. It makes perfect sense to perform Shiva pujas and do other sadhanas pertaining to Lord Shiva, like reciting the Sri Rudram Chamakam. In an attempt to access a little knowledge about the Rudram, I used my work computer to Bing the Rudram and, as would be expected, found a Wikipedia result high on the list.

(Allow me to offer a slight disclaimer on using a source like Wikipedia. Certainly, it should never be cited as credible in academic writing. Beyond that, however, it should be noted that Wikipedia has upped its security requirements in regard to who is able to post/amend their entries, hopefully meaning there’s less actual crap to be found. Also, whether one considers an entry on Wikipedia as credible or not, anyone serious about their inquiry would do well to scroll to the very bottom of the result’s page to view the “Notes,” “References,” and “External Links” sections. Even if the entry itself contains pure bologna, which is very possible, one can usually find valuable information –or sources to such –at the bottom.)

Here’s what I’ve learned about the Sri Rudram Chamakam on this Election Day.

1) Rudra is a name for a fierce manifestation Shiva dating back to Vedic times, and during that period was associated with storms, wind, and thunder. A translation of Rudra is “The Roarer.”

2) The Sri Rudra, as a text, is a hymn pulled from the Yajurveda.

3) The Sri Rudram is an early example of sahasranama.

4) Although Shiva is viewed as the Supreme Godhead by Shaivites, Shiva is understood to be a non-sectarian aspect of Brahman who manifests in “myriad forms for the sake of diverse spiritual aspirants.”

5) Within the Sri Rudram, one can find the Shaivite Panchakshara((OM) Namah Shivaya) as well as the mantra Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya.

6) Dating back to Vedic times, Rudra is assigned the number 11, and of the thirty-three deities named in the Vedic pantheon, 11 of them are attributed to forms of Rudra.

The Shri Rudram seems to be associated with sacrifice. The sacrifice is meant to be external and/or internal. I find this terrific on account of the association between our consciousness (Shiva) and our external, material-based form. The external sacrifice referred to is one offered in a havan/homa/yagna, although in modern times everyone makes sacrifices in other ways, often much more personal in nature than a community coming together to toss oblations into a holy fire. The notion of internal sacrifice is something I’m very keen on. Humans (especially in Kali Yug) operate from a largely emotional and egoic place internally, the two often working together to create an immense and complicated cycle that proves instrumental to our entrapment in Maya and prolonging our journey toward Moksha. I recognize the value of external rituals, but for me personally the value of internal sacrifice has always been of greater value, although exponentially tougher to perform.



Sri Rudram is a useful thing to recommend on a day like today, as Sister Unity Divine has done. Speaking in the context of internal sacrifice, the entire nation would do well to consider this all day. If you haven’t already voted, you should be considering why you plan to vote the way you will. It’s a rare person, indeed, who honestly and objectively is able to look within and discern the ugly details behind the way he or she is planning to vote. Further, in the event that one’s hoped-for candidate isn’t the victor of today’s election, the Sri Rudram and the notion of internal sacrifice is definitely applicable.

It might make for an experience of growth if those who voted for the losing candidate make swallowing their pride into an internally sacrificial ritual. This is obviously easier said, than done.

Om Shanti

Gurupada Puja

Today is the full moon for July, and marks Gurupurnima. This holiday is a “limbo of great importance” to me. The source of importance is obvious to anyone familiar with the day. Purnima correlates to the full moon. In Hinduism, many holidays fall either on the full moon, or within a certain number of days before or after it. The “limbo” part of this, for me, is due to not having a dedicated guru -something else of high importance within the Dharma. With that in mind, in this post I’ll try to detail a few of the most influential gurus in my life.

The first guru worshipped in Hinduism is Sage Vyas. It’s said that Hinduism is the only major world religion without an actual founder. Sage Vyas, however, comes close. He’s known to have lived in ancient times and according to his personal sadhana, had attained a number of siddhis. Aside from being a masterful rishi, he is most noted for compiling/editing the Vedas, which are the foundational body of scripture for Sanatana Dharma. I think he’s also known to have composed a number of other Scriptures holy to Hindus. I adore Sage Vyas for obvious reasons and some reasons which are less obvious. His influence, the karma-phala of his efforts, reaches from modern Hindu religion so far back into history few can conceive. Additionally, a well-known story about the recording of scripture involves Sage Vyas dictating to my very own ishtadevata, Ganesha. Sri gurubhyo namaha!

The stage being set by Vyas thousands of years ago, my parents were 900% my first living guru. Truth be told, my birth mother hasn’t proven herself to be worth the flawed genetic material she managed to pass on, let alone anything of greater value. My father, on the other hand has truly beautiful karma. Part of that karma was that he’d eventually meet and marry my step-mother. The two, together, make an amazing, albeit typical pair and without their guidance my life wouldn’t have amounted to half of what it has. And while I’m still able to discern parts within my own makeup that are surely inherited from my birth mother, I’m honored to report that by far I’m the sum of the two that actually cared enough to raise me. I have the level head and generosity of my father, and like my step-mom, eternally insist on perfection in all the right areas of life, have some pretty decent reasoning skills, and also would likely have made a fair living as a lawyer (AKA I can argue just about anything, always have the higher good as my goal, and no matter what you say, you can be sure I’ll find a flaw in your logic and will end up winning the debate.) If gurus come into our lives (or vice versa in this case!) to help guide and shape us for our betterment, my parents could sit on their rumps for their next ten lifetimes and still succeed in this regard. Because of this, when I’m at temple and we sing the shloka, “Twameva mata cha pita twameva…“, which translates as “You (God) are mother and father…“, I’m filled with adoration and love for these two primary human figures in my life. Below is a picture of my parents and a younger brother (at his wedding, we’re not actually Christians for the most part).

Another guru influence in my life is that of Paramahansa Yogananda. If Vyas-ji was technically a first among gurus, and my parents were the second, then Yogananda-ji was certainly the third. I came to know of him actually in the most unexpected of ways, which I’m hesitant to share. But here goes:

In my early twenties a relationship I had been in came to an end. It had lasted about seven years and when it dissolved, you can imagine, I was still very inexperienced at life. On my own for the first time ever, I was mostly doing just fine. During this time, though, I had been approached by a man from my city’s south side who was seeking models. You see, he sold clothing items online… he ran some kind of website that was fetish-gear-oriented. I’ll spare you the details of exactly what garments I modeled, but the idea is that he was no longer young or lean or unwrinkled and needed a tighter, younger body to show off these things, which folks would then buy from him. Before anyone takes this info and runs with it, believe me when I tell you that the shadiest part of all this was that all photography was shot in his home, as opposed to an actual studio. But none of that is important except to lead me to tell you that this man happens to be a devotee of Yogananda. I had an Om or something on my necklace which caught his attention and started our conversation on all things Hindu. Both of us being caucasian, we commiserated at being the only non-indian Hindus we knew of in the entire state. From then on the modelling was entirely secondary (indeed stopped) and our dealings were mostly in the context of spirituality. He took me to the temple for the first time and gave me my first copy of Yogananda’s autobiography, which as so many others will verify, is life-changing. He also gave me my first copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a translation by P.Lal. Of all the different Gitas available, this simple version remains my favorite.

Since learning of Yogananda, I’ve been drawn to his teachings and have a large number of his books, as well as a book or two written by Yogananda’s own guru, Sri Yukteshwar. I love that Yogananda was so connected with western Christianity. He does well at showing dharma in the Bible. I’ve fallen just shy of joining his “sampradaya,” The Self Realization Fellowship for a couple of reasons, namely that it’s suffered a great bit of internal conflict which has veritably split the group, and it seems to be in decline. All that aside, this is to say nothing about Yogananda or his teachings which are truly liberating. And for that, he’ll always remain a dear teacher to me. Kriya Yoga might not be my best fit, but I’m not nearly done with him, and it’s my hope he isn’t nearly done with me.

Next of gurus influential in my life is Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma. She’s an avatar of Sri Durga. Known around our planet as “The Hugging Saint, and to myself and fellow devotees as Amma (Mother). Her life has been incredible and it’s apparent that She is mahashakti personified. Born into a working class family and pretty much forced into familial slavery, Her upbringing was rough to say the least. Virtually from Her birth she was a kind of lunatic for the Lord, constantly seeking union with Sri Krsna, and even today demonstrates what is known as devibhava for the benefit of others. Today She’s the founder of humanitarian organizations and Her own sampradaya which is truly unique, as well as Amrita Yoga. She’s written many great books and She’s also the creator of the Brahmasthanam. She spends hours and hours (easily 12-16hrs in a single day) seated and receiving Her “children” as She hugs them. The Mother never tires of this. She never stops for breaks for sustenance and offers Her love, freely, until all present have received. These hugs are known to be transformational. She also offers diksha/initiation as well as a unique meditative practice. She’s helping to clean up the current state of bhakti yoga, which She says should instead be called kamya yoga, because too often what we think is bhakti is actually desire-fuel devotion. As often as I’m able, I attend local satsangs and worship Amma for multiple hours on end. I also have a very personal story about a healing I received from Amma soon after coming to find Her. Amme Sharanam!

Someone else, who is also a modern-day guide, deserves recognition. I’m not sure this soul is someone many consider a guru of the level of Amma or Yogananda, but she is no less a spark of Brahman than they, and like them does her best -every chance she has- to uplift and educated and help. She can be found on Facebook and on Youtube. She and I belong to the same (gay) community and our hearts are more similar than not, although I’m no nun. It’s actually because of this siddha-yoga jiva that I own my first copy of the Guru Gita. Her name is Sister Unity Divine, and I find in her inspiration, strength, wisdom, and encouragement. My heart is truly glad to know of her and also to be benefitting from her life’s expression.

As I’m nearing the end of this (very, very, very  long) post I want to lastly give consideration to the inner Guru within each of us. It’s this Guru that all the others are merely an outward, seemingly separate expression of. You, at your deepest, most inner level, are non-different than the Source all other gurus lead you to. Any soul you may choose to follow, who indicates anything diffrently is… False. Believe it. Your truest Self is all that has ever been, all that will ever be, and all you’ll ever need. All else is only meant to help you experientially realize this.

Om Shanti!