The Prana of Dirt

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil ca. 2000

I love gardening. It’s something I think I get from my mother’s side of the gene pool. She liked having houseplants (though not to the degree or quantity I and her mother do) and my mother’s mother is a pro when it comes to African violets – at this moment I bet she has over a dozen in just one window. As often as I can, I try to have plants inside and outside my home and I’m often intentionally selective with their placement. Some plants will on their own try to dictate conditions under which they’ll grow – and they’re mostly right. A cactus, generally, will NOT grow in a swamp. However, I take such as “suggestion” and like I mentioned in my post about the Deading Dance, in my home things are often done … differently. Plus, I think there’s also a good bit of … umm … magic that goes into gardening. It should always be encouraged that sage or lavender or both be planted near entries and exits: doors, driveways, gates, etc… But none of that matter for this post really.

You can’t garden without dirt. And while dirt can sometimes stain and can almost always get under fingernails, it is precious. You wouldn’t be here without it. Literally. I have always enjoyed the smells dirt can have. After a rain, during a rain, when it’s super duper dry. Nobody wants a dirty house, but I’d be totally happy if my clean house smelled like dirt. It’s great stuff. I think the Buddha knew that, too.

I recently picked up a book called An Offering of Leaves by a Jewish-ish gal called Ruth Lauer-Manenti. I found her book at a second-hand book store I really ought to own stock in for as much money as I spend there and I was able to bring her work home for probably something like $6. I knew even before making the purchase that this book would end up living in the “General Hinduism” section (if that’s a thing) of my library. And I liked that each chapter seemed to start with some kind of Sanskrit stanza (this appeals to me because I take a lot of tattoo inspiration from these bits!) Beyond that I wasn’t sure I’d much enjoy the book, but could tell it would be good for stop-n-go reading, so … why not?

I had the book for at least a few days before deciding to dig into it and that really just means that it sat on my nightstand for a further few days before I actually opened it to read. The last part of the first chapter hit me hard, but in the sweetest way. I’ll share it now…(I’m going to add brackets to make it clearer who is speaking)

“There was a student, and every time he went to learn teachings from the Buddha he brought gold as an offering. He had so much wealth that he could bring a lot of gold. Then, many years passed, and this man spent all his wealth. He no longer had any gold. There was one special teaching coming up that he wanted to go to. He thought, ‘Well, I have nothing to offer. How can I approach the Buddha empty-handed?’ So he decided to go to the Buddha and ask. ‘Dear Buddha,’ he said, ‘I want so much to go to the teachings, but alas I’ve spent all my wealth. I have nothing to bring you. What should I do? I don’t want to come empty-handed.’ The Buddha said, ‘Oh, your wealth is gone?’ The man said, ‘Yes.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘Oh! Gold is no longer there? You have no more gold?’ ‘This is correct,’ the man replied. ‘I have no more gold.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘OOohhh! Your wealth is finished?’ ‘Yes, it is finished dear Buddha. I have finished with my wealth.’ ‘Oh!’ the Buddha added. ‘Well, you have one garden. Don’t you?’ ‘Yes,’ the man responded. ‘I have one garden.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘You grow beautiful things out of that garden, don’t you? So many beautiful things grown in your garden?’ ‘Yes,’ said the man. ‘Beautiful, nice things grow in my garden.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘Your dirt is very fertile. So it’s a beautiful thing to grow out of that dirt.’ [the man said…] ‘Yes. The dirt is full of nutrients.’ [the Buddha said…] ‘Ah! It’s good dirt, is it not?’ ‘Yes, it’s good dirt,” said the man. [the Buddha said…] ‘Bring me some of that dirt. You have so much of it. Beautiful things grow out of it…. bring me some of that dirt.”

When I read this I made a short post to Facebook about being moved to tears because of dirt. Honestly, I was moved by a number of things: To a degree, I can relate to the student who became a wealthy adult. I have far, far more than I need and like the wealthy man I’m happy to give and I feel bad if I find myself in a situation where I can’t. I can relate to the Buddha, too. Whether they realize it or not, I’m generally very aware of the perception others have of me and as baffling as it is to me, there are those in my life who feel like they need to bring something to me to sit at the same table. Like some kind of payment is part of the picture.  Like the Buddha, gold is the last thing I expect anyone to have or to bring. And like the Buddha, I can see value in things others might overlook or otherwise undervalue. A simple, cheap bouquet of flowers, of all things, means more to me than about any other present I might ever receive. So if I were the Buddha, it’d absolutely be something I’d tell someone to do: Bring me something from your garden.

But dirt is where the Buddha blows me outta the water. I love dirt. And I love the things that grow from it (both flora and fauna). But you’ll notice from the story that the Buddha had to tell the guy TWICE of the beauty growing out of the dirt. When I say beauty growing out of the dirt, I don’t mean flowers – and neither did the Buddha. Had he meant that, then he would have told the man to bring one of the beautiful things growing from his fertile dirty.

Beauty is itself growing out of the dirt. There is also beauty of growing out of the dirt. Latent, potential beauty of the dirt. All these aspects and fifty more.

I have had a close relationship with dirt for AGES. It’s practically a generational thing (again, from my mother’s side) and I still don’t think it has ever – even once – crossed my brain space that when my hands are caked in mud, I’m holding the potential … of everything. Of every thing. That superficial realization startled me. It almost made me sick, to think of it more deeply and as I did I just found myself crying a little. It was a peaceful little cry, but one that came from deeper within than I expected. It might sound silly to say, but I think I went to bed that night a different person.

The Buddha understood the prana of dirt. Now, thanks to a Jewish yogini’s book from a second-hand store, I’m beginning to also.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Daaji & Ganeshji


From a recent Heartfulness news letter….

Two elderly sisters from Babuji’s time had come to Kanha to visit Daaji. During a long discussion with them on various topics at Gokul Point under the neem tree, Daaji’s thoughts flowed one after the other in a natural way.

“In ancient times, the figure of Lord Ganesh was known for bringing happiness and joy. Look at how much joy such a jolly figure brings! Imagine for a moment, Lord Ganesh is taking his vehicle, a little mouse, on a walk while it is raining, carrying his tiny little umbrella. When you look at the image of Lord Ganesh it provokes joy and happiness. But I have another understanding too. In Sahaj Marg we believe that we move from animal man to human man to divine man. When you see the image of Lord Ganesh, it shows an animal that wants to be human and there is also one image of Ganesh with an umbrella dancing in the rain which I would say is a blissful state. It is hilarious. So, he is a combination of an animal and a man who is now blissful. So it is a total journey depicted with this image. You cannot depict ‘beyond bliss’ with a pen and pencil. Also, Lord Ganesh is depicted riding on a mouse. You know, an elephant can’t sit on a mouse but you can carry the mightiest with a humble heart. You have to be humble to carry the Lord in you. You have to become small to carry the big – egolessness.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


From a recent Heartfulness newsletter…

“Autophagy happens when we fast, so that the body has an opportunity to rejuvenate. Otherwise we are always busy assimilating and metabolising food. You see, Ekadashi has a logic behind it, a scientific reason behind it. When you observe the tides in the oceans of the Earth – the high tide and low tide – they are in sync with the lunar cycle. Now, our body is almost 70% water so imagine what the lunar cycle does to our system. Its effect starts becoming pronounced from the eighth day, and by the fifteenth day the effect is maximum. So, to nullify the lunar effect we fast on the eleventh day, which is the midpoint. Farmers also use the farmer’s almanac based on the cycles of the moon to plant above-ground crops, vine crops, root crops and grains, clear ground etc. All living creatures respond to the lunar cycles.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

A Certain Lunacy

Every generation sees change to the world it didn’t anticipate. It seems to be an on-going joke with every new generation that the ones before it (which are still living) are crotchety, grumpy old people who dislike whatever happens to define modernity simply because the change of the times is something older people struggle more and more to keep up with. (In defense of older people everywhere – things ARE changing faster than they ever have in world history and so it IS tougher and tougher to keep up with!)

I can picture my great-grandparents rolling their eyes that my grandparents got to work in factories and offices instead of in the field and factories – such a posh life working indoors! “Young people have no idea how easy they have it today!” And my grandparents probably were grouches about the generation following them. “Damned hippies! What’s this crap about peace, love, and flower power?!?! Get a job and keep it!” My parents’ generation has worked really hard (often responsibly and often irresponsibly) to give my generation the easiest life we could have – we were probably one of the first generations to really want for nothing…. for the most part. Now they are the generation griping. “Kids get trophies JUST for showing up! Everyone these days is so sensitive – so easily offended!” The very people who themselves worked their fingers to the bones to spoil so much of my generation are now vocal about how people today need to toughen up and work hard for what they have in life. Complaining about the perceived faults of subsequent generations seems pretty par for the course of being a human. What will be my generation’s complaint? Although time will tell if I’m wrong, I think our biggest complaint will relate to those who came before instead of those who came after.

From the reading I’ve done, it seems like those who are coming after my generation (there are a few “generations” between what I would consider to me mine and the generation my generation is currently producing) are making their own way. Articles I read and people I speak with indicate that there is a different set of priorities at work with those groups. They seem to be mostly responsible. They recognize the world’s current and unnecessary weaknesses and exploitations and want to change them – or at least not be contributors. They’re spending their monies differently. There seems to be a bit of a break between my generation and the ones coming of age at this moment. And my generation, mostly, doesn’t seem to care about those differences. We don’t care that they not only don’t want to own homes but also are willing to pay three mortgages worth of rent on a space the size of my bedroom closet – all just to be in the city. In the past, the older people were annoyed or upset whenever those coming of age broke from what existed. My dad’s generation caught shit from their dad’s generation just for letting their hair grow. My generation doesn’t care so much about forcing what is on those who will be.

What seems to send my generation into orbit is the rigidity of attitudes and beliefs of those who came before. To be clear, the rigidity is the issue more than the other. My generation is saying “Be a voice, not an echo.” Those starting to come after us are saying, “This is my voice and I’ll say what I will in whatever language I choose.” But those from generations before mine are perceived to mostly say, “God – you’re whiny! Why can’t your voice be more like mine – AND – in English? What’s wrong with mine?”

I have a feeling this will show itself to be a new cycle of things. Growing pains may be scary severe…. old habits die hard, they say. Right?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Chakra Journey


The following was taken from a recent Heartfulness newsletter which is sent out to abhyasis. The words are those of Daaji and I’m adding this here for additional visibility and also to highlight some of the more esoteric and mystical aspects of the very simple path of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness. If you’re reading this and 1) not an abhyasi or practitioner of Heartfulness meditation, or 2) don’t possess much of the Sahaj Marg library, or 3) have experienced only the “surface level” of our path (which itself at that level is still quite deep), or 4) all the above – then this might be confusing to you. No worries. Just read it and keep moving.

“Polarity exists in the Heart Region; opposites are there. Once you cross the Heart Region or Pind Pradesh, all the dwandwas (opposites) related to the pancha bhutas are dropped. If you are still stuck between dwandwas it is an impossibility for you to enter the Cosmic Region. So polarity finishes in the Heart Region. Then, what remains in the Cosmic Region? More and more of less and less of the ego. It is no longer a matter of opposites; it is only the extent of the ego that is refined. Then, once you enter the Central Region, it is a different ball game again; more and more of less and less of bliss, to the extent that it is zeroed out.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Don’t Hatch


“When love shines supreme in the meditating heart, whatsoever it may touch is alchemized.” This is a quote taken from a piece written by Daaji and shared back in September of last year. You can read it here. I wanted to share this because it’s something I sometimes struggle with… I’m not saying I struggle with letting love shine or the other things mentioned in the post. Surely, some struggle is to be expected in the human life – maybe even a lot. Our path of Heartfulness also teaches that these struggles build character and experience, and when used properly they lead to an ever greater capacity to be emptied of our worst and filled with only subtle openness and divinity. That much is fine. Dandy even. An area that seems to be one of my sticking places is in the marriage of the “above” and the “below.”

My earliest years as a practicing Hindu brought to my spiritual arsenal a bag of tricks which are fantastic aids indeed for the one trying for self-evolution. I can tell you first-hand, dear reader, that there are “tantras, mantras, and mudras” which will bring a person benefit. (Of course, some of these also come with ample room for misuse and this has been well-documented in many cases.) My current meditation practice, which is now known globally as Heartfulness (prior, see SRCM, Sahaj Marg, etc…), is by far the simplest tool I currently possess and employ (and is also immensely effective) which does so well at helping to marry the mundane to the magical (the “above” and “below”). Daaji also wrote something mentioning the idea of an egg, broken from within. This imagery spoke to me.

Most people, at some time in their life, have seen a baby bird hatching from its egg. It usually goes something like this: The eggs begins to wobble a little or move on its own. Then perhaps the smallest of sounds can be heard from within. Faint scratching. Tiny movements. Then, after a little while the observer might see or hear a crack. Then another. Soon a tiny piece of the eggshell itself might fall from the structure and you’d be able to see in – or at least see a small bit of the life that’s inside. From there, the progress seems to move a bit faster. Maybe what happens next is that the existing cracks lengthen or widen a bit. Maybe more pieces are chipped off from the inside. We all know the end result: A broken egg and a hatchling experiencing new life outside the confines of that shell – the only existence it’d known prior to that moment.

I think there’s good wisdom here that anyone can learn from. Some lessons that I’ve taken from this include: The magical and the mundane are not different. There should be no struggle to marry them because they are inseparable. Chicks hatch from eggs millions of times every day – that’s as mundane as it gets. And yet, it’s wholly magical too because of the process itself. Also, no one would encourage the hatchling to stay within the shell indefinitely. Symbolically, we can see that indicates a stifled and unexpressed life but more literally it also means death. Anyone trying to convince the chick to stay inside the shell is doing harm and a chick that doesn’t make effort to break the shell itself is more than just lazy – it’s suicidal. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, there are many things expected of that new life. That life is an irrevocable part of a massive web connecting us all. It was formed inside the shell for the purpose of staying there only the shortest possible time needed for the minimum development required to break that shell and then subsequently to be an active player in the game of life. Anything short of that is adharma.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

The Purpose of God


“God has created the world so that every flower may grow in its right standard. But the lashes of time have made it to forget the purpose of God. So, some feel the life as the purpose of enjoyment, others feel the life monotonous. But the question is: What is life? It is a state of being which should remain permanently, as long as we live, thoroughly in contact with the Being, smelling at each step the fragrance of the Being.” – Complete Works of Ram Chandra, Vol III

I know some people will read the above quote and get caught on the first sentence. There are some who will read it and, if they don’t get caught on the first sentence, will get caught on the second sentence. Some still, may catch on both. That’s fine. Eventually they will be able to move on to the richness found the latter sentences. Truthfully, part of me did and does also catch on the first couple sentences – and probably for the same reasons others will, too. After all, what does “right standard” mean? What does the “purpose of God” even mean? Throughout human history so many people – too many people – have been sure they knew the precise and only real answers to what a “right standard” and “purpose of God” mean. Strangely, this certain knowledge of God’s right standard and purpose has invariably meant death – not to the ones who thought they knew, but to others near them.

Saying you know right standards and purpose of God is as foolish as saying the Sun rises in the East, and thinking it’s actually the truth. Yes, sure, the Sun seems to rise in the East. And for spatial and relational purposes, etc… the Sun seems to do just that and so it’s fine to make that reference. But for those who can see the bigger picture, or even know the bigger picture theoretically, that’s not true. There is a perception, possible only because of a very limited view. And so it seems like the Sun rises in what we call the East (which itself isn’t really even a thing – we live on a sphere, for Pete’s sake. We can go east, but there is no place which is the East and where we can arrive – and so the Sun can never rise from there.) We know the Earth travels around the Sun and rotates while it does that. Many of us understand that the “Sun rising in the East” is really our place on the Earth completing yet another spin in this pattern of travel. The Sun stays put. It doesn’t rise. And yet, those who are able to understand an even fuller picture know that even saying the Sun stays put while we cycle around it is false. Our Sun also travels through space, quite unfixed. This illustration of how limited our views usually are should be sufficient to know how terribly foolish it is to ever claim to know the purpose God has for something or what its right standard is. If most of us incorrectly perceive something as simple as the concepts of spinning or rotation, then what are the chances we’ll correctly perceive God’s “purpose” or “right standard?” At best, the most enlightened among us can probably only claim to know a fraction of those truths.

And really, the next sentence kind of says just that. Some see things one way while others have a different view. Now, those who get caught on the first to sentences will read what I just wrote about others having different views and they’ll say, “Well the view of others is just wrong.” And this is a big part of why those minds will remain on the so-called “square one” and will continue for some time to be caught on the first two sentences. As before, that’s fine.

The last sentence, however, is what we should aim for. Don’t bother with determining the right standard for something or with figuring out the details of God’s purpose. You probably can’t do anything about changing either of those things, anyway. And if you could figure them out completely and truly and risked wanting to change them, what would that mean for yourself? See, more questions and no additional answers come from that effort.

Aim for staying permanently and thoroughly in contact with the Being. That’s it.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti