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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

galadriel-profile-small

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

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

Whoa.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya namaha
Om Shanti

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WICKED Li’l Old Me

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

Everyone seems to have the understanding that holy people, or spiritually advanced people are only humble. After all, the meek shall inherit the Earth, no? (Bible, Matthew 5:5)

However, I’d like to convince you that humility can be a problem in a way identical to that of arrogance or pride. Some posts ago I mentioned that I believe many carnivorous humans are better off from a karmic standpoint, and spiritually, simply because of the ignorant, emotional, and often irrational aversion so many vegetarians have regarding the subject. The post seemed to go virtually unnoticed, which doesn’t bother me in the least, but based on my understanding of how thoughts, emotions, actions, and karma in general work, I really do feel that many who are vegetarian are at times hurting their own progress more than those who bite sentient beings for sustenance – not because of the vegetarianism, but because of the samsaras they build up around the choice. All of that hinges on something good and virtuous (non-violence, non-aggression, vegetarianism) being taken to an extreme.

Religions and spiritual traditions throughout time and around the globe are guilty of this in one context or another, to one degree or another. Of course, some religions are inherently more inclined toward the live-and-let-live model and so there are those who are perhaps “less” guilty of this imbalance. Still, guilty is guilty and people who live in glass houses ought not to throw rocks.

To a lesser degree I think this same principle is sometimes also at work when it comes to humility. Too many people are timid when it comes to displaying a warrior spirit in their own lives. A hymn from the Vedas, in part, says, “Ati Vinayam Dhoortha Lakshanam…” which translates as, “Too much of humbleness is an attribute of a wicked person.”

But how can this be? How can a virtue like humility lead one to wickedness?

Umm… how about by being emphasized or implemented in such a way or to such a degree that it becomes detrimental. Initially, the detriment would be applicable only to the immediate life state of the one exhibiting this imbalance. That person would end up essentially being walked on or abused throughout his or her existence, and while that saddens my heart, I can see, that on that level, it’s still only a localized misery – again pertaining to individualized samsara. If allowed to go further, however, the localization ceases and others begin to suffer, too – others who might need a so-called warrior, Vira, to help maintain or restore balance. The absence of this assertive warrior spirit is adharma, and this is why the Vedas tell us that “too much of humbleness” makes someone wicked. Too much humbleness is an imbalance and is adharmic. So much of the Hindu dharma points to the at-least-occasional need for exhibiting warrior-ness: everything from yogasanas to the Bhagavad Gita hint at this.

If someone tells you you’re going to hell for eating cows, tell them to mind their own damned business and worry about themselves not going to hell. If someone tells you your friend or guru is corrupt or fraudulent, hold them accountable for those accusations – if they refuse, they need to fuck off and you need to make them aware of as much, and if they can offer proof your life has been made better. If someone repeatedly and directly badgers you about your own ishtadevata or chosen scriptures, I do hope you have spine enough (and bhakti enough) to adhere to your spiritual home AND tell them to do the same.

So many people think that if one is humble they’re “good” and if they’re not, they’re not. But the truth is, humility is much like aggression in that it possesses degrees of expression. Ideally, humility is best expressed through patience, understanding and compassion – not necessarily meekness. If one keenly develops these traits, humility will manifest without compromising other areas and without leading to adharma/wickedness.

In posts like this, I eventually begin wondering if my point is lost. Like the vegetarian samsara post, it’s such a broad and deep subject that can be taken in so many directions. It’s actually a challenge to write about effectively without composing an entire book on the subject. If nothing else I’d like to leave you with just two recommendations:

1) Cultivate a keen inner awareness. Progress without this is infinitely more difficult.

2) Follow Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Sometimes we’re called to be warriors. Sometimes dharma, whether localized or general, depends on us being loud, assertive and even bossy. History has shown as much.

Om Jai Shri Ganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti