Guilty Programming

Art by Sanjay Patel

Art by Sanjay Patel

Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman often is on my television often eveningly. Most of the time I don’t get to enjoy any of what’s on my television, let alone something as useful as this show – I’m (almost) eternally buried in school work. However, in an effort to spend more time near my beloved, I’ve been spending less time in my temple room and instead have been doing assignments on the first floor, in the dining room which connects to the family room where the only TV we own is situation centrally.

I’ve found, far more often than not, that Through The Wormhole is essentially Hindu in nature. In many episodes, no joke, the same laws of physics or… well, anything, the things that are discussed are eerily similar to the notions and concepts put forth by Sanatana Dharma. A recent episode was no exception. Icing on the cake however, was that a segment of the episode reminded me closely of a conversation I had with someone some time ago.

During our talk, he mentioned something about impure thoughts and working through them. Now, I’ll leave you to whatever conclusion you’re most inclined to regarding the definition of what an impure thought might be. Our talk included whether impure thinkery would affect one’s karmas.

I do think our thoughts ultimately affect our karmas. However, my take from the beginning was that impure thoughts don’t really exist. Lemme share…

1) Thoughts are just thoughts. Like literally anything else, the perceived goodness or evilness of a thought or anything else depends entirely on the one doing the perceiving. This is supported by quantam physics believe it or not. A recent article I came across on Facebook can be accessed here, and in plain English details that even “solid” matter only behaves they way it does when it’s being observed. To be sure, your table is only a table so long as consciousness is “watching” it be a table. Otherwise it not only becomes part of “everything everywhere,” but also literally flickers in and out of existence.

Thoughts are no different. Their flavor and indeed their very existence depends on them being observed. And when a human mind is being used as the tool to do that observing, you end up with “good” and “bad” because the human mind is a programmable thing that comes with all kinds of preconceptions.

This is why so many people ruin their own meditations. They struggle to sit back and watch the inside of their mind. For one, they think they are the mind. This is the first and biggest problem. If original sin exists, and is truly passed from parent to child going back to Adam and Eve, THIS is it. For another, they instantly become frustrated when a thought arises, because the preconceived notion of what meditation is starts a fire that every following thought ends up fueling. This is what happens when someone tries to make meditation happen. Interestingly, those thoughts are neither natural fuel for that fire, nor automatic. We label them as “bad” instead of letting them arise and fall away, and in doing so add them to the fire. Thoughts are just thoughts. None are inherently good or bad, and even after you label them thusly, they still aren’t truly either. Jnana Yoga is this realization in one’s life – it opens the way for a foundation to be set, it allows for progression from that starting point to occur, and Jnana is verily the culmination of full realization.

2) When we misidentify, we add those thoughts to the fire by labeling them good or bad… or impure. Whenever we do this, THAT’S the first chance they have to manifest within our karmas. Prior to that there’s no impression of those thoughts upon us. These impressions are known as Samsaras. Samsaras are like groves on the wheel of death and rebirth. Truly, regardless of how minimal or severe those groves are, a grove is a grove and it still needs buffed out. These groves are the karmas we experience. Being able to identify those groves specific of your karmas/karmic wheel is a part of Jnana yoga. Part of Jnana yoga means looking upon them with Truth as your light and as your sight, and this results in no longer making a mountain out of a molehill … or no longer calling impure something that has no actuality. When you manage to stop this you are resolving your karmas and may finally exit the wheel of death and rebirth.

This is actually something I could go on and on about. The Jnana texts are full of this kind of wisdom, shedding light on the nature of Reality. It’s never wrong to call a spade a spade, but deciding whether a spade is malevolent or beneficent… or impure – that’s where we often get ourselves into trouble.

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

My sincerest hope is that we can all learn to be free from the baggage we’ve inherited and so far have mostly either refused to question or been to lazy to question.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti





Chandogya Upanishad

Now, Once upon a time….

Tongue, Eye, Ear, Mind and Breath were arguing about who was the best among them. They appealed to their father, Prajapati, Force-of-Creation, for his opinion. “Sir,” they cried, “who is the best of us?” The wise Prajapati suggested a simple way to settle the dispute: “He by whose departure the body seems worse than worse, he is the best of you.”

First, Tongue left for a year, and when he came back he asked, “How have you been able to live without me?” And the others replied, “Like mute people, not speaking,” yet they were able to see, hear, think and breathe just fine. So the Tongue was not the best.

Next, Eye left for a year, and when he came back he asked, “How have you been able to live without me?” And the others replied, “Like blind people, not seeing,” yet they were able to talk, hear, think, and breathe just fine. So Eye was not the best.

Then Ear left for a year, and when he came back he asked, “How have you been able to live without me?” And the others replied, “Like deaf people, not hearing,” yet they were able to talk, see, think, and breathe just fine. So Ear was not the best.

Off went Mind for a year, and when he came back he asked, “How have you been able to live without me?” And the others replied, “Like children whose mind is not yet formed,” yet they were able to talk, see, hear, and breathe just fine. So Mind was not the best.

Finally, as Breath got ready to go, she ripped at the other breaths, “as a horse, going to start, might tear up the pegs to which he is tethered.” The others realized immediately that they couldn’t live without Breath. “Madam,” they cried, “thou art the best among us. Do not depart from us!”

And so the parable concludes, people don’t call these five the Vital Tongues, the Vital Eyes, the Vital Ears, or the Vital Minds, but the Vital Breaths(prana), “for the vital breath is all these.”

Om Shanti
P.S. In the context of pranayama and the profound effects of its proper usage, I’ve always wondered about the spirituality of people who smoke.

Neti, neti … or, God simply isn’t.

I work in an outpatient cancer treatment center. We offer chemotherapy and radiation therapy to patients who have cancer. As well, we are hematology specialists and see many patients with blood disorders, some of which, as with the cancer patients we see, will eventually claim the lives of the patient.

Resultantly, with death looming, many of our patients are (or become) very religious or spiritual. The spiritual ones I notice the most. They come in, always pleasant-even when near passing. They’re rarely stubborn or difficult when it comes to scheduling or handling their bills. There’s a kind of peace that seems uncommon. This “vibe” that I get from these patients communicates a type of universal, non-sectarian wholeness(…maybe that’s not the right word, but I’m not sure what is…) that carries them and doesn’t seem to waiver.  Then there are the religious.

The religious are an arguably different kind of folk. There are sometimes people who are both spiritual and religious. I feel safe saying that, as far as the norm in humanity is discernible, it’s usually difficult for humans to be both effectively. I dare say that those majoring in spirituality are less attached to religiosity. Conversely, humans excelling in areas of religious practice sometimes “miss the forest for the trees.”

In terms originating from my own religion, the religious are more likely to excel when it comes to bhakti(devotion). Sadly, I think more often than not, their bhakti is truly a quasi-bhakti since it’s often based in exclusionary dogma and other hateful mind patterns. I think it may also be directly dependent upon religious tactics(sadhana?). I also think many people claim to be “spiritual but not religious” as a means of feeling less guilty about being lazy. This cop-out works because no one usually questions it. Both ends of the spectrum have their shortcomings. You need both, balanced, to make progress.

And, while I’m not intending this post to revolve around bashing one or the other, I have an experiential confession to make: The religious are the only ones who ever say “God is good.” This is troubling to me currently.

The problem isn’t that the spiritual think God isn’t good. The problem is that the religious too often view God as partisan, sectarian, sway-able. As far as I’ve noticed there are only two times “God is good” is ever uttered.

The first, less selfish or dangerous, is when someone/a group of people is thankful. Just, simply thankful. This in theory is harmless. Afterall, shouldn’t we all be thankful? Of course we should be. The only error I see in this is one that involves assumption on my part. Knowing “people” as well as I do (having worked in public careers all my life), I’ve come to understand that it is VERY rare indeed to come across a truly selfless act. Most of the prayers that rise from a human heart, regardless of the best intention, derive from some kind of selfishness. If you look closely enough, you’ll see the same. Then, later on, when these wishes are apparently granted by G/god, the resultant conclusion reached by the beneficiary is “God is good.”

The second instance when I’ve noticed this being said can potentially lead to further egoic and ignorant behaviour. People say “God is good” when something bad doesn’t happen to them. The saddest part of this is that it usually means something bad happened to someone else. The upside here is, again, thankfulness. An appreciation for all that one has. But what about those who experienced whatever it was, the avoidance of which caused someone else to think G/god is so good for sparing them?

So here I go… G/god is not good. G/god can’t possibly be.

Before I go further, let me clarify that when I say G/god I don’t mean any divine conception at all which might be labeled to be one’s ishtadevata. Ishtadevatas, in their own ways, are incredibly vital to the human reaching for G/god. But even at that, they are essentially Ultimate Reality dummied down. This is for another post. For now, I’m essentially referring to what Hindus call Brahman.

The Brhdaranyak Upanishad gives us a great example. Summed up, this example of how to define Brahman is “Neti, neti.” This word, neti, is a kind of conjunction. The cleanest translation of neti seems to be something like “not this.” The idea here is that if you take any attribute or quality, and hold it up to the Divine, you’ll see that G/god is so very far above that attribute or quality that the only reasonable answer is, “Neti, neti,” aka not this, not that. Any quality or attribute we attempt to apply to G/god will fall infinitely short. This is because any quality or attribute is essentially personification/anthropomorphism (kind of).

The principle of Neti, Neti infiltrates some of our higher sciences these days. In many arenas, something is defined or measured not by its actual qualities/characteristics/dimensions, but by those qualities/dimensions which are clearly NOT applicable to what’s being studied or defined or measured. Sometimes, when deciding on dinner it’s easier to say what you don’t want, right? In that way, you end up not only knowing what will be for dinner, but also finally come to the actual experience of that dinner.

And so, you see, G/god can’t possibly be good. And in like manner, G/god can’t possibly be bad. Neither is any other term that could in any manner, in any context be applied to a human. It’s for this same reason that I’ve struggled for many years with the Christian concept of Heaven… pearly gates, streets of gold, harps, the whole shebang. How can anything that so closely resembles an earthly experience be true Heaven/Bliss?

G/god is no different. No?