Universal Intellect

A while back I came across a post on an Ismaili blog I follow. I enjoy studying Islam and Sufism. Almost no one here studies Islam except those practicing and even they don’t usually study their own religion any better than Christians typically do. And Sufism shares many parallels with Hinduism and my path of Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness.

If you click here you’ll be taken to the blog I’m talking about and to a post that examines “Mi’raj” – the night of the spiritual ascension of the prophet Mohammad. The first thing a reader comes to is a quote from an Imam stating that the ascension to be discussed is attainable by all who actively aspire to it, and not just a “chosen one.” This is important. In so many spiritual paths (which end up being more religious than spiritual) true higher attainment is seemingly reserved for those who are God’s favorites or God’s “begotten.”

I’ll allow that most paths have someone to help show the way. In reality, this shouldn’t be necessary but often feels necessary because people are either convinced that they are clueless, convinced that they are incompetent, or might just be lazy (among other potential reasons). My path of Heartfulness / Sahaj Marg has its own “tirthankar” – and has had. In the modern era, we’re on our fourth in succession. Lalaji, then Babuji, then Chariji, and currently Daaji. Each has served our path in unique and invaluable ways and the current one, Daaji, is really taking us in new directions. He’s placing so much emphasis on the Master or Guru within. When I went to see him in New Jersey around the end of the June, one of the very first things he shared with those gathered was that problems begin when we seek the Guru outside ourselves. #SatDat #Truth

To go back to the Ismaili post I mentioned, there’s a story mentioned wherein the prophet rides a winged horse from one place to another. The Ismailis understand this to be symbolic of something quite deeper than the story initially conveys. I’m with them on this – I have serious doubts about whether winged horses ever existed on this planet, let alone that the prophet of Islam ever rode one from Makkah to Jerusalem.

This Ismaili post uses a lot of Arabic religious and spiritual vocab which I’m not familiar with. Many of them I could probably render in Sanskrit here but I won’t. You would be better and more efficiently served to just check out the post yourself. I wanted to draw attention to this because this post does a fine job at paralleling what Hindus already know and have talked about ages before Islam surfaced on the planet – realization of Absolute Reality. I dare say that you can even skip around – pick a random place and just start reading and then jump to another place – you’ll have little difficulty connecting the dots. Give it a look over and see what you think.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

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Gnosis-ery

I subscribe to a blog here at WordPress called Isma’ili Gnosis. I don’t read all of the posts that are published because I prefer to spend my already terribly limited time doing other things that are a little more applicable to my personal path.

Isma’ilism seems to be Sufism. And in many ways, on a number of levels, Sufism is closely related to my path with the Sahaj Marg / Heartfulness…. “path of the Heart” and all that. Honestly, I think it’s because of having spent a couple of years studying Islam intensely and now walking a path that carries its own “flavor” of Sufism that I can stomach Islam really almost more than I can Christianity.

There’s a post on the Isma’ili Gnosis site that I want to draw your attention to. It’s a post meant to explain the “strongest argument for the existence of God” and as you would expect it’s a long and kinda meaty post. You can find it here. I’m not sure I stand by every word of the post itself, but a lot of it is legit from where I sit. The second full paragraph was something that struck me. It reads,

“Two major reasons for the growing popularity of atheism and agnosticism among people today are that a) most people are not exposed to the classical concept of God within their own religious tradition and instead are made to believe in an anthropomorphic image of God and  b) the positive arguments for God’s existence are poorly understood and misrepresented by both atheists and people of faith.”

To be clear, I really don’t take issue with “the growing popularity of atheism and agnosticism.” It’s my firm belief that those paths are no less valid than any other and I also firmly believe that anyone walking either or both of those paths will absolutely and undoubtedly arrive at whatever my own final destination is. There can be no other option.

Beyond that, I agree with the two other points in the paragraph. As far as “a” is concerned, a huge problem of today – in all kinds of contexts – is that no one really knows what they’re talking about. We settle for snips-n-clips from lots of different places, half of which oughtn’t be trusted – and we assume those tidbits of info are the sole and whole truth. This, dear readers, is wholly dangerous. It’s because of this that, for example, Christians, are almost universally ignorant of the real depth of their own holy texts. (I’ll generalize here because in this case it’s pretty well safe to.) The texts that now make up what is known as the Christian Bible are quite varied in regard to original intent, original content, original language, etc… And much more than just those things, never mind additional factors like cultural norms of the time and other such things that really should be taken into consideration. Christians today – generally – have very little recognition that their own cherished path originally amounted to what we now would absolutely label as a Middle Eastern cult… which even today are problematic. And Christians aren’t alone in this systemic ignorance. All that to say … Point “a” is correct. Too many of us known too little about the things we cling to.

A side effect of this terrible ignorance is the mention of an anthropomorphic image of God. I’ve written here probably more than once about what a terrible idea it is to humanize God and how faulty any conception of God is that exhibits traits that too closely resemble human behavior. It. Is Dangerous. And it is dangerous whether you revere Christ or Krishna.

Point “b” from the paragraph quoted here is also important. On Facebook, I follow a variety of groups from all walks of life. There’s a “godless and irreligious” group whose posts I see. And really, even outside of Facebook posts this remains true – I’ve visited atheist websites and I own a number of atheistic books. Something I have noticed is that Atheists mostly only have stones to throw at the Abrahamic religions. Seriously, I’ve viewed A LOT of atheist material and I don’t think it’s too inaccurate to say that not more than 3% of all I’ve ever seen has been directed toward Dharmic religions. Almost always their “targets” are Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I think this is indicative in its own way but this also seems to be the other side of the coin of what’s mentioned in regard to positive arguments simply not being known by either side.

Anyway, read the post. Because I said. It’s for your own good.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

An-Nuur

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Today is one of those days at work…. There’s practically nothing for me to do – at least not until the developers on my team package some stuff up and deploy it. Then it’ll be the usual game of “hurry up and wait.” Until then, surely the most productive use of my time is to reread details of this week’s mahakumbhabhishekam at my temple, to add details to the plans for my July vacation, and to blog here.

It’d been a little while since I last logged in here, and as with any other instance of logging into WordPress for the first time in a while, the first thing I accomplished was catching up on my “newsfeed” of blogs I follow that had published posts since I last logged in. One of them smacked me in the face as soon as I saw it. It can be viewed here if you feel inclined.

It is a Rumi quote. Typical of the Rumi I’ve read, it is short, sweet, and yet very profound. It also, in a very gentle way, asks, “Didn’t you know?” which is something I’ve seen a lot with Rumi, too.

Didn’t you know? This question is such a sweet way of saying, “Listen to the Truth I’m about to share with you.” It also, at least with Rumi, usually points to something each of us has likely forgotten – forgotten because of Maya and living within a phenomenal level of existence where so much seems too topsy-turvy from where we sit. So many shiny things distract us and make us “forget” things we’ve known forever – since the beginning of everything.

In the same quote, he next tells us that our light is the light that brightens the world. This melted my heart almost instantly – the place where I sense my own light, the heart chakra, is a place I go to when my ego and other head nonsense seem too relentless. The Sahaj Marg practice is the only yoga I’ve engaged in that has specifically helped the practitioners know and experience this light – the very One that lights the world.

Something else that came to mind when I read Rumi’s words is the “flameless flame” itself (my words, not part of Rumi’s quote here) which is producing that important and vital light. This is the flame within that Sahaj Marg teaches is so subtle that from a practical standpoint it can’t actually be perceived but should instead only be “supposed.” We start with the supposition of that Light, that Flame. It’s such a mild and peaceful, even gentle flame. Right? It’s constant and truly it never flickers. Neither is it ever disturbed or affected or extinguished by the goings on of the phenomenal life.

And yet, flames are quite active things. Fire and the light produced by it has always held much symbolism for the human mind and because this has been true since forever it’s something quite easy to move right on past and not give a second thought. But let’s secondly think.

As a human creature, whenever we’re seeing a flame it’s because of the magic of chemistry. Something combustible is undergoing real alchemy – it’s really and truly changing into something else and in that specific process heat and light are being generated.

From a standpoint that isn’t as deep as we could go, in order for our light to … well, light, we need spiritual combustion. In Sahaj Marg we often refer to this as integration or evolution. In other paths, you might hear of karmas being “burned away.” Same thing.

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

All of this requires a catalyst – something to spark that fire. This could be almost anything for the human being – and not necessarily something we currently recognize as spiritual or as having anything to do with God. After all, Atheists are no less capable of personal alchemy. It’s important to realize that the work isn’t finished once we see that the fire has started. It must be fed and nurtured and kept going – like a sacred dhuni in the heart of who you are.

That takes action. And the burning itself is action. And, in various ways, it can require effort to exhibit the light that has been generated by that Fire. I think in some cases one isn’t required to do much, if anything, to light the world. In most cases, probably, it’s something we have to make an effort toward – something we SHOULD make a conscious effort toward.

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

Lastly, Rumi didn’t say that we’re responsible for lighting the whole world. Noticing that, it seems clear that we’re only responsible for lighting whatever is within natural reach of our light. For some, the range will be bigger than it will be for others. That doesn’t matter. What’s important is investing the effort needed to cultivate a healthy visibility of the light coming from the Fire within.

“It is your light that lights the world.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

From India

City_Dwellers

 

Some time ago I placed an order with the Shri Ram Chandra Mission online bookstore. Unlike the order prior to this one, my shipment was received in a very timely manner and – unlike any other time I’ve ordered in the past – a tracking number was provided! The only cause for frown this last time around was that about five of the items I ordered came as DVDs which was a big surprise to me because I only ever intend to order books.

Lately, though, the abhyasi community has been talking about and learning about the concept of “cheerful acceptance.” Obviously, this is something deeper than it sounds, but I can tell you – from a fairly superficial level – that getting DVDs when you almost never sit before the television and especially when you’re expecting books, definitely gives one a chance to practice cheerful acceptance.

Anyway, I’ve been making my way through these DVDs, watching them in order of the dates they were released. This morning I watched, “India in the West” (part one). The video, like many of the others, is of our late Master Pujya Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari telling the story of how the SRCM was introduced to the West. His own father was one of the first from the Mission to visit other countries for the sake of the Mission – and that story is a bit fantastical. Some years later the Master currently recognized as the second modern Master of our lineage (he’s not the actual second Master, of course) began traveling outside of India and the rest is history.

It’s amazing to read or hear of how small things start sometimes and then to recognize their wonderful growth. From this documentary alone, and really also from other books, I’ve learned that there was a time when an entire nation or another might have had just ONE practicing abhyasi. Just one – yet now there are centers and ashrams in many places with many abhyasis.

One thing said in the documentary that caught my attention will, here, be a quote of a quote. Chariji was quoting my now great-grandmaster Babuji during a moment when Babuji was speaking to European abhyasis. I didn’t jot down the exact wording, but Babuji said something to the effect of, “I am liberating you from India.”

Hey Bhagwan!

These words instantly brought to mind a conversation I had about a month ago with another abhyasi. He’s Indian, but looks Pakistani. He manages to maintain a “full” figure and yet remain diminutive (something I’ve noticed in many Indian men). Our conversation started out very basic and was prompted by my car’s license plate which is a specialized plate reading, “GANESHA.” He recalld driving behind me the first time and noticing the plate – and then being shocked when he pulled up next to me and saw “white” skin. He was very curious about my knowledge of Hinduism and, like so many other Indians I’ve had this same talk with, he remarked that it’s very likely I know more of our religion than even he does, having been born and raised in India and still being very traditional in many ways despite his life in America. I’m not bragging in the least about this – I’ve heard it more times than I care to recount and each time it makes me a little uncomfortable. We can maybe talk about that in another post.

So… as our conversation was nearing its end he asked me about my view of Ganesha, method of Ganesha puja, and puja timing and all that good stuff, and brought up that our masters have said a number times in a number of ways that we’re “not to worship images” … or something like that. I answered to him that I’m not a “slave” to the ritual of worshipping Ganesha, which is really what the masters’ warnings are about. I do take into consideration the “proper” methods and timing and all that good stuff, but that I can essentially “take it or leave it.” I’m not sure if it’s entirely honest to say one can “take it or leave it” regarding something for which a person has a pretty clear preference. But what I told him is close enough to the truth that my conscience rests easy. I also think this “take it or leave it” business is somewhat hinted at, in very different terminology of course, in the Bhagavad Gita.

I’m kind of getting sidetracked here, but what I’ve meant to get at is that this nice young man with whom I chatted was very clearly under the control of tradition. I mean, we even talked about it – he admitted that, like many Catholics, there’s a tendency with Indians to blindly follow whatever they’re told tradition says is right, without even knowing why it’s supposedly right. And so, there’s a certain freedom I have as a non-Indian Hindu that he will struggle to achieve because from the time he was an infant, every square inch of his life was dictated by Indian tradition. He may well struggle to have Indian spirituality without the Indian religion.

This can be good for people who seem to need a pre-established structure in order to feel comfortable in an identity. But it’s truly this same structure that limits things like understanding and experience. On a grosser level it’s very obvious for Christians and Muslims who insist that their Dharma is the only valid one. For Indians / Hindus, this manifests no less – just differently, and in a manner that usually allows for other Dharmas to also be valid. So with the Abrahamics we end up with, “My path and only my path, for everyone, regardless.” And the Dharmic version of this is considerably more tolerant but often doesn’t involve hardly any more understanding than that of the Abrahamics.

Although other sages from India had already left India’s borders to touch the West, at the time SRCM was reaching out of India much of Indian spirituality was limited to within the borders of that nation. I think it’s because of this that my Master’s master’s master, while speaking to Europeans, said what he did. “I am liberating you from India.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

lärm

images

 

It’s been a minute since I was last here on Sthapati and I have plenty to catch up on. Something that comes to mind, that I think I’ve been meaning to write about is religious noise.

A long time ago I saw a quote of Mata Amrtanandamayi Ma (Amma, the Hugging Saint) wherein she was to have said something along the lines of, “Those who are busy crying out to the Lord, are likely never to hear Him.” Those aren’t her words, but are some kind of approximation. The exact wording escapes me but the lesson she was communicating touches on something that is central and foundational to Hindu spirituality.

I was reading recently on a blog called the Vaishnava Voice and in a post there the author kind of touched on this in a round-about way. Kind of.

Most people who are familiar with Hindu philosophy or religion or spirituality are also likely familiar with the concept of bhakti. And I think it’s fairly safe to say that the image of bhakti that often comes to peoples’ minds is along the lines of the Hare Krishna movement. They’re well-recognized for their public kirtan events. A number of other instances of the expression of bhakti have involved components of religion that many in the western world recognize as very charismatic. In order to best express our devotion to The One we should dance, and holler, and bang or mrdangas. Right?

Too, many Christian circles are fond of this approach. Some seem very closely related to the Kraishnavs – they enjoy their guitars and drum sets in church and getting people to whoop and holler and roll around on the floor speaking in angelic tongues is a sure sign that you and they are surely saved. And in other Christian circles, like the Westboro Baptist Church, being vocal and very loud about the ills that plague modern humanity is the preferred expression of devotion to the Lord. As an aside, but not entirely, I’ve not known of any bhakti tradition (Hindu or otherwise) that wasn’t in some manner, to some degree, focused on one’s merit before the Lord Almighty. Everyone wants brownie points with the Most High.

I think, though, that something is perhaps “wrong” here. I use that word very hesitantly because as a Hindu I believe everyone has a place at the table, I sincerely do, but I’m not sure what better English word fits there. If you pay attention to virtually every Hindu approach to spirituality, you’ll see that the real direction bhakti is intended to be pointed toward is INWARD.

I’ve been surprised, as I dive deeper and deeper into Sahaj Marg literature and practice, to learn how very pro- bhakti it really is. To be clear, our path is more appropriately categorized as something “Raja” or “Jnana,” but still. Our last guru was a Vaishnav and our practice is an anahata chakra-centered blend of Sufism and Hinduism. It’s probably fair to say that until really dedicating myself to the Sahaj Marg, I made efforts to steer myself away from much of bhaktidom. While respecting and allowing space for paths like the Hare Krishnas, I certainly had no inclination to be even remotely associated with them. And I even kept a healthy distance from most Vaishnav-related things because of how many parallels there are between that chunk of Hinduism and Christianity as a whole.

I dare to say, though, that true bhakti makes your heart and soul dance – not your body, that’s like playing in the shallow end of a pool.  And in my experience, when truly intense and electrifying devotion arises within oneself, the result has been stillness, peace, wisdom, and even some transcendental happenings that have very little to do with the outer world except for losing awareness of it.

I think whether one is an Islamic jihadist, a Kraishnav, or a conservative Christian (all of which are far more alike than not), you might be missing the real benefit and purpose of your path if “making a joyful noise” (or whatever your own version of that is) takes center stage. How can one benefit from the “still small Voice” (biblical reference) within if you’re too busy crying out to the Lord to hear It?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Movies

Sometime around the 27th of December, I came across this piece online about “How Movies Embraced Hinduism: Without You Even Noticing.”

I read it, and recall being a little disappointed in the actual content – I think, based on the headline / title, I expected there might be a little more substance to it, but whatever. In my opinion, pieces like this are good for getting people interested in Hinduism, or – for those already interested but perhaps not sure where to start – for giving a snipit of some of Hinduism’s foundational and shared beliefs. I recall first learning about Hinduism and almost immediately finding parallels between learning about Hinduism and how I learned the German language.

You see, I studied German formally for a number of years, and quite soon tested out every level offered by my school. After demonstrating my proficiency and speaking to the board, I even taught it for a little over two years – allowing me to watch my peers catch up.

I started by taking the “first year” German class. It wasn’t terribly challenging, but I think most year one classes aren’t meant to be. Then, that following summer between school years, I spent the whole school break out by my family’s pool soaking in the sun’s rays and reading a German-English dictionary. Yes, I read the dictionary. It had been a gift to me from a woman who worked for my mother at the time. She’d married a soldier (now deceased) she met while he was stationed in Germany decades earlier, and the dictionary she gave me was a “German” German-English dictionary – this meant that even the English side of the dictionary was in German. That’s fine and dandy until you find yourself looking up 17 words in order to learn the one you originally set out to learn.

But it was actually real fun for me, as I’ve always loved language. I drank up everything that Woerterbuch could offer as quickly as I soaked up the many goldening rays of the sun. That much explains why I returned to school knowing vocabulary that was light years ahead of myclassmates, but something I’m still unable to explain is the grammar. I started second year also knowing, almost fully, German grammar. It must have been something I picked up unknowingly while making a deliberate effort to add words to my vocab list. Half way through that year I tested out of everything, as I have mentioned and the rest is history.

But that story parallels my own process and experience of learning about Hinduism. I often set out to learn one thing or another and in the process of fully learning about and understanding that one thing, I almost HAVE to learn about the 500 things that are in some way related to it. It can make learning a bit slower, but the thoroughness and depth cannot be matched.

And so, despite being somewhat disappointed in the article from The Guardian that I linked to earlier in this post, I also find value in it. It doesn’t actually explain much, in my opinion. But it explains much more than the vast majority of movie watchers would otherwise ever be aware of and might somehow spark an interest they didn’t know they even had.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha – Aum Shanti

Tales of Discovery

Babuji4

 

I have an opportunity to contribute to the content of a book being written by Sahaj Marg. Abhyasis have been requested to send in our stories regarding the circumstances, karma, life details, etc… of our coming to Sahaj Marg.

This chance makes me smile – something that happens a bit less these days.

As I sit and begin to remember life leading up to my encounter with “The Marg” and stepping onto it as my spiritual path, I can think of lots I could tell – but none of it seems sufficient or appropriate.

As someone who enjoys language in just about every level, it’s rare to find me in a position wherein I’m at a loss for words. Yet, that’s exactly how I feel.

It’s not unlike trying to describe the feelings experienced when I think about having memories that predate the very existence of some of the people who are now ultra dear to my heart – the mystery that age and aging is. It’s similar to the “caught” feeling I experience when even thinking about how much of my heartspace is occupied by my first gurus – my parents. It’s almost like some things become cheapened when brought to the level of language, and I’m afraid words will also fail while I attempt to “tell my story” of coming to Sahaj Marg.

But stories are meant to be told, no? Surely each aspirant’s tale is as valid as the next, regardless of the chosen wording.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

A Parody of What’s Inside

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About two weeks ago I experienced a night that was a doozey. I work in the medical IT field and, as it’s the most constantly-evolving field I’ve ever known, there are always changes that put demands on our professionals. One such demand recently placed on me was the requirement to participate in our Windows Services monthly patching. Because of things like this in my life, it’s not uncommon at all that I end up missing satsangh with local abhyasis. I really hate that. The truly fortunate thing, for me, is that Sahaj Marg is a “householder” path and since I’m a very busy grhasta type guy it suits me increasingly well.

I missed another Sunday satsangh that morning because of last night’s patching (which was really this morning’s, 00:00 – 06:00) but lucky for me one of my local prefects emailed out to all the abhyasis the text which was shared and read to everyone after the morning meditation. I found the timing impeccable and the text much needed

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The Universe is You

It is like when you run a marathon, twenty-six miles. Well, for the practised marathon runner the eighteenth mile, nineteenth mile, they are pretty easy. Then he starts to feel fatigue. At the twenty-fifth mile, he’s almost falling. Then comes the second wind. From where does it come? It is coming from within himself. He is drawing upon resources hidden in himself of which he was never aware until he exerted himself to the point of extinction.

Therefore, spirituality says, “Die before you die, and you shall see what is the glory of death itself, what it opens out beyond into: the eternal life that is promised.” It only means doing what the runner is doing, you see: that you run until you are almost collapsing, and then you find the miraculous awakening of fresh powers inside yourself, from inside yourself, of which you could never have dreamt, because you never exerted yourself to that level before. Spirituality says, “That is the outer world; here, you do it inside.” Close your eyes, meditate, and the feeling comes that I’m diving deep into some sort of a bottomless hole, very dark. And then the tendency, sometimes the need, is to open one’s eyes to reassure oneself that one is still in this world of human beings. That is the danger.

It is like the runner stopping at the fifteenth mile to see, “Oh, do I have that hidden resource that Chari was talking about?” You can’t feel it. It’s gone, you see. It’s like, you know, the petrol tank. Sometimes we used to have – I don’t know whether you still have – an emergency small tank which you opened up when the main tank went dry. Some drivers were careless; they left it open all the time. So when it stopped, it stopped finally, because the reserve petrol tank was always open. The idea of a reserve tank is the capacity should be reserved for those emergent occasions when there is no gas station nearby. Then you open it and move to the nearest place. But if you are leaving it open all the time, you have lost the capacity to have control over it, which is what we are doing with our physical energies: draining them to the last possible drop of essence and then, when the need for a reserve comes, it just isn’t there.

So the sensible human way of living is not to drain your reserve capacities unnecessarily – in any field. One of the reasons for morality, for celibacy, is that: reserve your capacity for the ultimate spurt. Don’t waste it on your routine jogging and your swimming: yesterday I did nine, today I did ten, tomorrow fourteen. Then the reserve tank becomes meaningless; it hardly exists for us.

So, you see, when we go into meditation, we learn all these things: that I have to die in my meditation to be reborn in that meditation, and to come out yet the same Paul, the same Bill, the same whatever you are, you see. But with a very, very different outlook on life; with a very, very different inside that has now been opened, changed, cleaned up, refurbished in some mysterious way. Therefore, every time we sit in meditation and we go deep into it, we come out new – renewed, you can say. That is why meditation is refreshing. That is why meditation is never exhausting, you know; however deep you go into it you come out fresh. Pains are gone, aches are gone, more of the heart – which is a very great need. There is solace derived from ourselves, from within ourselves, by ourselves. So we see that, in a very real sense, we are becoming independent of the universe. We seek no solace outside, we get it from inside. Others take renewal from outside, we get it from inside. The others take renewed strength from outside, we get it from inside. Then we find the ultimate experience: that within me is the universe. Not this which I see outside, however vast it might be – ten million, ten billion light-years big, so what? It is only a parody of what is inside. This has no limit that can be measured in terms of light-years. You cannot measure this at all. It is truly infinite.

Being truly infinite, its resources are truly infinite, its potentials are truly infinite; therefore, spiritual law says, go within and you are going towards infinity; go outwards, there is only repetition of the same experience, nauseatingly repeated again and again. But you think you are enjoying a new thing every day. So spirituality says, beware of the external life. That is only a mirror image of your self, you see, like when you stand in a hall of mirrors, and you are there alone, yet you see a hundred of you surrounding you. Here, the Atman, the soul, sees itself reflected in so many other existences. Whether they are real or not, who can say? You think I am real to you, I think you are real to me, perhaps both of us don’t exist. It is in some dreamer’s mind, cosmic dreamer’s mind, you see. It’s frightening. It’s also fascinating.

Frightening, because it is almost impossible to imagine that I don’t exist. We are always afraid of death. That’s a very natural fear. But to be told that perhaps, my dear friend, you don’t exist – even now – would be awful, wouldn’t it? But when you plunge into yourself in meditation and if, by Master’s grace, by the solemnity of your experience, you are able to experience those spiritual states where you find first nothing, then you find yourself all alone, and then you find that the universe into which you are put all alone by yourself is really you…!

The universe is you. You are there as something experiencing yourself in a cosmic form. Then comes this, you know, really brilliant, fascinating experience that “I am the Universe.” Which means you are part of me, everybody is part of me, you are me in a sense, you see. Then comes the possibility of true love, true sympathy. Not because of some charitable instinct of doing good to others, but because in you is also my existence. In keeping you alive, I keep myself alive. In feeding you, I feed myself. In looking after your welfare lies my welfare. In a very real heartfelt sense – not out of a sense of charity, not out of even a sense of brotherhood, but out of a sense of an absolute need – like a car will not run if one of its tires is punctured. We are not being altruistic when we stop and patch up that tire. It will not move if the spark plugs are gone. It will not move if its fuel pipe is cut. So the functioning of the automobile depends on the functioning of every part that is put into it. No part is more important than the others, because all need to function before the car will move.

Similarly, if God is ever to be having peace of mind and contentment and happiness, He must ensure a universe that is content and happy and peaceful. And we, at our scale of existence, have also to ensure it. That is the true need for brotherhood in yoga. Not some artificial Christian sort of brotherhood, you know, where we slap each other on the back and say, “Oh, how wonderful this is! You are here and I am here and what more do we want?” That’s too artificial, too much of an imposition on ourselves. But when I see inside myself that I am the universe and you are all of course in the universe and therefore you are part of me – not just somebody I have to look after, but somebody whom I have to look after if I have to look after myself…

Can you have a bath without wetting your feet? “No, no, I hate my feet, you know, I’ll have a bath like this.” It’s not possible. The whole has to be wet, the whole has to be soaked, the whole has to be dried. In that wholeness, in the consciousness of that wholeness now arises my awakened being, and we see this vast unlimited glory that we are all one. Not in the sense that we are all together, therefore we are one; [but] wherever you may be, wherever I may be, we are still one.

… If I am the universe, whether I feel it or not, whether I perceive it or not – because yoga, meditation, the ultimate truth only enables me to see as I am, not as I am something to be in the future, you see – then by virtue of that fact we are already one organism.

(Excerpts from Heart to Heart, Vol. 1, pp. 99-105, talks by Shri. P. Rajagopalachari)

Not Fair

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A week or so ago I published a post regarding some frustration surrounding my relationship with someone I had considered my Best. Shortly thereafter, in fact the next day, we had a nice long chat. The result of that chat amounts to two realizations: The first is that I should maybe give more effort at recognizing and acknowledging what progress he does make, however much or little that might be. And the second isn’t so much a realization as a clarification between us. In our discussion, I feel I made it clear that I cannot continue to see him as I have because it’s essentially unfair to him.

That realization, and using that realization to govern my thoughts and actions going forward, have meant some real change on my part. Everyone knows it’s total shit from a bull’s ass when someone breaks up with you and they’re like, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But this experience has shown me that there sometimes can be truth to that. From the most genuine place inside myself, I sincerely feel that it’s unfair of my friendship with this human to have expectations that he simply isn’t likely ever to live up to. The reasons why he won’t pertain to his personal development and are all entirely on him and completely his own responsibility – plain and simple. But from my side of the fence it’s important to recognize the lunacy that I might be carrying: Turkeys are not capable of long distance flight. It’s terribly unfair to fault a turkey for being a turkey and being unable to fly like sparrows. The reality of what a turkey is has to be met and accepted, for at least as long as it takes the turkey to evolve into something capable of flying longer distances. Right?

In a rather unexpected turn of events, it would appear that this lesson has somehow also landed in the thoughts of my Beloved.

A little back story: Our neighbor lady has recently swapped her male companions and the new guy is a “composer.” By “composer,” I mean anything but what you’re thinking. He’s not a composer. From my own experience, the best he could be considered would be a “mixer” and I wouldn’t be surprised if he fancies himself a DJ or something. He’s a younger male (maybe early 20s), he’s fond of dragging one of their kitchen chairs out front and reclining on it in a way that just looks like slouching – all while wearing only her sunglasses and some camo cargo pants. It’s very clear that, in addition to a legit composer, he also sees himself as some kind of Armani model. Priceless, to say the least.

My Beloved and I have discussed this young wannabe a number of times in the recent weeks since he moved in. My Beloved is actually quite affected as his favorite place to hang out within our home happens to be probably the closest point between our property and the neighbors’ which means that my Beloved is subjected to the “composing process” more directly than I.

Last Friday, as we were deciding where to grab dinner he says, “Josh, we have to move.” We discussed what that would mean and require and then almost immediately reached out to a realtor friend of ours. I can tell you all about the difficulty in getting your home “staged” for showing while still living there – a process made even more difficult by a third adult who’s in the mix because he has nowhere else to go, yet who doesn’t seem to understand the urgency of trying to sell one’s home at the end of the prime home selling seasons.

I’m getting kinda wordy and side tracked here…. What I’ve been meaning to get at is that during our discussion, my Beloved actually said to me with his mouth something to the effect of, “I don’t think it’s fair to our neighbor that we can’t tolerate his work with music.” And the result of this view is that we’re now planning to sell and move as soon as we’re able.

The situation with the neighbor and the one with the person I’ve referenced before as my Best are obviously very different. However, I’m now entertaining questions in my mind about when it’s most appropriate to “lovingly step back” or to “lovingly disconnect” (as a Christian friend of mine is so fond of saying) for the sake of allowing others to be who they are for as long as they insist on not evolving and when it’s not appropriate. In the past, this wouldn’t be something I’d do. I’m confrontational and as directly honest as I’m able to be in any situation.

If how and where you’re walking ends up with my toes stepped on, do I let you know as much in no uncertain terms and expect you to become more aware of your own walking or do I simply move to stand in a different place?

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

“श” के मंत्र

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In a recent post I mentioned some about stilling the outside of a person and also stilling the mind and how these relate to the progressive development of a person. In that post I also briefly mentioned a fancy little mantra I’d been made aware of by a friend who’d received it from one of his own friends.

Before I share that, I want to make very clear that this isn’t a “real” mantra. In any established tradition that employs mantras, it’s very rare to find the absence of specifics that dictate things like: what a mantra is made of, how it can be used, how often it should be used, the effect it is meant to have, risks associated with its misuse. And many other stipulations.

In my opinion, those varied rules are a really mixed bag of legitimacy and bullshit. In some cases they serve as safeguards and in other cases they don’t seem to be good for much more than unnecessary policing meant primarily to shuffle devotees into one line or another (a subtle form of crowd control, which religion is terribly good at but which spirituality rejects).

None of that really matters in the case of this particular “mantra,” though. One of the first benefits experienced by anyone employing a mantra is a developing single-pointed-ness of the mind. And it’s in this aspect that we’re able to relate this mantra to the aforementioned post. Are you ready for the mantra?

Here it is: Shhh.

That’s it. It was mentioned so basically by my friend that at first I only smiled a little and then allowed our conversation to move on quite easily. However, like many other humans, I am sometimes prone to recycling negative energy through the emotions attached to certain stories of what I have experienced. I’ll mentally review a circumstance I found myself in and how I was wronged by someone or how I wronged someone or what I should and would have said if my tongue were a little quicker on the go. (If you care to learn more about this kind of nonsense, read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.)

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Shhh. (breathe in) Shhh. (breathe out) Shhh. (breathe in) Shhh. (breathe out) Shhh. (breathe in) Shhh. (breathe out) Shhh. (breathe in) Shhh. (breathe out) Shhh. (breathe in) Shhh.

I’m using my mind (mental recitation here, not with your actual mouth!) to literally tell my mind to shut it. It’s that simple. I like this because it’s such a direct form of communication, which is a style of communicating that I’m known for using. And in my experience, it hasn’t mattered whether you’re very upset in the moment or whether this is used as part of the daily sadhana. You needn’t slow your breath, either. The message of “Shhh” is fantastic because, at least for English speakers, the message is inherent. You likely won’t be thinking of what “Shhh” technically communicates because you’ll be busy feeling it and experiencing it. The breaths in and breaths out, the duration of the mantra, the space in between all of these – will all lengthen naturally as this “mantra’s” effect begins taking.

I wouldn’t bank on this to scrub your karmas or develop siddhis of any sort. But if you simply wish to go deeper than you might otherwise and carry with you a relatively clean mental or emotional slate as you dive, if you wish to settle down after a tumultuous moment, if you only seek to know a very simple stillness that you might otherwise not have known – then this might just be where you could start.

Shhh.

Try it sometime. I dare you.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti