April 19, 1983

Shri Gurubhyo Namaha!

The path today known as Heartfulness was once only known as Sahaj Marg. Going back many years and even tracing back to sage Patanjali, the modern expression of this path has seen more gurus. Known as Masters because the mastery they possess over their selves and their ability to point seekers toward the one Self within us all, these four have each brought a new phase of evolution to our marg. The first of the four gurus was named Ram Chandra (of Fatehgarh). He is now known more simply as Lalaji. His successor had the same name, although he was from Shajahanpur (Uttar Pradesh) and came to be known as Babuji.

Lalaji laid the foundation for our path’s modern structure. Lalaji seems to have resurrected a hybrid – part Sufi, part Hindu. He is know to have taught our simple form of heart-centered meditation but also would give seekers mantras and ayurvedic advice – whatever the seeker was in most need of, Lalaji helped them obtain. Our next guru, Babuji built upon the foundation laid by Lalaji and in his own way streamlined our practice. It was during his guidance that the primary focus of the path became our way of meditation and usage of things like mantras declined significantly.

Born in 1899, Babuji’s form was seen by Lalaji while he was in a super-conscious state and it was then known that the man we call Babuji would be the marg’s successor. One major thing taken from Babuji’s example is that one need not renounce a responsible worldly life to retreat into the Himalayas in order to see vital personal evolution. In fact, Babuji taught us through word and his living example that the householder life can be the very best proving ground for one’s spirituality. To be found among all his other teachings, he taught that we should not give too much attention to our weaknesses but instead focus on progressing and to always push forward and that not only is God simple, but also that the means to reach God are equally simple.

On April 19th, 1983, Babuji left and entered a loka we know as the Brighter World and from there he has sent (and continues to send) many messages through a French female medium. These Messages from the Brighter World now form a significant corpus of literature and always convey his essence to us while at the same time advising and gently prodding us onward as a community. Very late last night / very early this morning (USA, EST) there were global sittings to commemorate the samadhi of Heartfulness’s second gurudev. Tonight, I’m reciting the gurupadukastotram and doing other puja to honor Babuji. Below you will see an assortment of images take from various places online. I’m sharing them with you now to get a better sense of Babuji and what he means to abhyasis around the world.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Shri Gurubhyo Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Child

Daaji came back to the cottage and attended many meetings. A small group of children met him and one child looked quite serious, saying, “I have a question for you.” Daaji replied, “Please go ahead and ask.” The child to Daaji asked, “Master is in the heart. So why are people greedy to see him physically?” Daaji answered, “That is my question and my problem also.”

Daaji was so happy with this wise youngster. Later, the child’s father said that the whole morning he was upset watching those people who were demanding to see Master. Here again a small but profound incident showed that the wisdom of the heart does not depend on age or knowledge.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

About Mind

“We have to understand the function of the mind. We have a nose. What is the role of nose? It is to smell. Would you tell your nose to stop smelling things?  “I would like to smell only a rose and not this gutter.” It can’t be selective. The same thing happens with the eyes. The role of the eyes is to see things. The mind is also like that, you see. The mind is to think. To prevent its function from thinking is to go against its nature. So, in Yoga sadhana, we first train the mind to think on one object – the Divine presence. After that we go deeper, from thinking, which is a superficial function, to feeling. That is true meditation. When we shift from thinking to feeling that is the real meditation, where we no longer think of the divine presence but feel the presence. For that we need dedicated practice.” -Daaji

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Gotras

saptarishi

 

“Whenever you go to visit a temple in India, and participate in the doing pujas or rituals, the priest will often ask you to which gotra your family line belongs. Then you tell him your gotra, and usually the names of your father and mother, and he puts that into the recitation of prayers to offer to the deity you are worshiping, and to get blessings from that deity. In other cases, a person introduces himself to elders by stating one’s name and gotra. This is a form of acknowledging one’s ancestral ties and all that has been given by one’s ancestors.”

The above is how a post written by Steephen Knapp begins and in which he offers an explanation of what gotras are. You can access that post by clicking here. I have always seen this as a kind of barrier for me to participate in certain rituals wherein I know I’ll be asked to cite a familiar gotra. Surely, though, non-Indians DO have applicable gotras because the gotras are based off of the humanitary progenitors. It would be interesting to track down the gotra of various non-Indian peoples of our world.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Let Us Not Grow Weary

This has really been a year for me… not the same kind of year as 2014 was. Thank gods, or else I’d not be here now writing to annoy you. But still certainly a year I’ll never forget. I “lost” a dear friend back to our Source (there’s a post about this in the works and will be published here when the time feels right and the post complete) and I more recently feel like I’ve lost my country.

The election for United States President was recent and our new President-elect is Donald J. Trump. That night my husband and I stayed home and ate cheap pizza while we shared a bottle of wine. In weeks leading up to the election things were quite a roller coaster. One day things were up and another day things were down. Regardless of that kind of ebb and flow, which is natural to an election race, moments of being utterly baffled were a consistent thing for me.

Everyone everywhere knows politicians are liars who usually over-promise and under-deliver. Half of them are also cheaters and thieves and can be bought. That much should be a given, I feel. There’s never been a saint-politician and we shouldn’t expect there to be one anytime soon. With that accepted, I do think it’s a useful practice to pay close attention to a politician’s personal character – specifically how they see others and how they treat others. And that’s been the most baffling part of this election race for me. When contrasting Clinton and Trump the differences in character are like differences between salt and pepper, apples and oranges, night and day. Trump unapologetically alienates anyone who isn’t upper class, white, and male – and does so through the use of “locker room talk” and other more blatant behaviors exhibited through the likes of racism and misogyny and chauvinism (just to name a few). He has proven himself to be impulsive, petulant, immature, and disconnected from the reality of America today – both the why and what of our national reality. Never mind that he also has no idea how to successfully navigate the dance that makes up a political career in the USA because he has absolutely no experience doing that.

Early in, supporters were saying that he’s at least a good businessman and that this is what our country needs. Our country DOES need that, but Trump isn’t actually even a good businessman. He fails and files bankruptcy left and right and has been brought to court for refusing to pay people for their work. He’ll also be going to court again soon enough for charges brought against him regarding sexual assault – which he’s actually said he can get away with simply because he’s a man and a celebrity. There are plenty of reasons why someone on the Left or who isn’t a Republican might not vote for him – just from a political perspective. But all of that generally can be lumped up as just a difference of opinion. After all, everyone is trying to solve the same issues, just differently. Again, that much is expected. But where Trump really puts icing on the cake is everything he touches outside of politics – that’s the stuff I mentioned earlier – and since he has ZERO political background these things matter a bit more than they would with a career politician. But, at this point, I suppose it might well be argued pointing these things out is useless because the election has come and gone.

In Clinton’s concession speech, she said a lot of really heart-warming thing to say – all of which really just reiterated her whole campaign which is that we are stronger together. She said we owe Trump an open mind and a chance to leave – and that’s something I agree with strongly. However, as time distances us from that election night it’s become very apparent that there are those who don’t feel that way and now we’re having protests and practically having riots. I want to be very clear that burning effigies and flags and being violent are NOT ways to get what you want and neither are they ways to productively or effectively express how you feel. The initial perception this terrible behavior is that those engaging in this way are sore losers and angry.

And certainly to a small degree, that’s the case with some of the people. However, a statement which is truer and more reflective of reality is that those people are scared. The truth is that Trump is our president-elect and his party currently rules all the rest of our system of check-and-balances – which means nothing is going to be very checked or balanced. Given that, and the fact that he has vowed to do things that are bad news for everyone who isn’t a wealthy, white, hetero male, it’s no wonder people are freaking out and unsure of what to do with themselves.

After the election and prior to the major protests, I had about half a day of scrolling through Facebook to observe responses of those I associate with in social media. I wanted to wait as long as I felt necessary to get a sampling of responses before posting my own. Below, to finish this post, I’ll be attaching a number of images – screen shots from my Facebook feed. To the best of my ability I’ve blacked out images and names so as to minimize identification of those individuals shown. I think there’s one post that is my own which I didn’t black out and there’s one or two from Facebook pages which I understand not to be human individuals which I also didn’t black out. All of these were captured prior to the violent protests and you’ll notice the majority of initial reactions amount to various expressions and levels of shock and fear. It wasn’t until these feelings had built up a bit and needed more of an outlet that the protests started and this certainly isn’t what sore loser-ship looks like. This is the first face of what it looks like when people are afraid that their social welfare benefits will be slashed, that half their family might be deported and then blocked from returning by America’s version of the Great Wall of China, that their marriages will no longer receive crucial government recognition. That’s not being a sore loser. That’s being scared for your life.

Hopefully some greater good will come from this election and resultant presidency. Right now it’s awfully challenging to foresee any greater good whatsoever but perhaps, if nothing else, a tough lesson will be learned.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

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Dayton Vaishnavs

A couple Sundays ago a friend and I went to Dayton, Ohio. Our original plan was to venture to Tennessee. There’s a temple of Ganesha there which I adore and the drive is only about four hours – not bad for a day trip. Dayton, however, has a temple that I only recently learned of while in one of the city’s suburbs at the Sahaj Marg ashram. Truly, the Dayton temple isn’t far from the ashram, which is in Beaver Creek.

We took a single interstate almost the whole way there – a journey lasting only a little over two hours. The difference in distance between Indy / Dayton and Indy / Nashville (Tennessee) was definitely a deciding factor for us. We left out pretty early for a Sunday morning and actually arrived at the temple with just enough time to stroll around the temple grounds for a bit and take some pictures before going inside for the start of the Venkateshwar abhishekam.

The first thing that struck me is how small the whole area is. I think the temple itself as well as the grounds around it (including parking lot) could probably fit in the same space as the Indy temple’s area – and have at least 30% left over. The building itself is nice enough to look at and the shape seems relatively modern and conducive to worship as well as community functions. The gopurams on top of the worship part of the building are … diminutive.  Even for the smaller size of the building, they felt too small. Additionally, there’s a free-standing gopuram out front of the main temple that looks unfinished and also is in a degree of disrepair. It was surrounded by yellow, plastic caution tape. No work seems to be in progress though, so I’m a little confused as to what exactly is going on.

Soon enough we both made our way inside the temple… through the basement, which is where most congregants have to enter. We removed our shoes and were greeted right away by another devotee who recognized us as first-timers. We were permitted to snoop around the basement a bit and take some pictures. After about five minutes we found our way upstairs into the main worship area. This area was obviously far more ornate than the basement, but like most other aspects of the whole temple even the worship hall was quite compact. There are only four or five garbas total, and a number of the deities which are usually in respective garbas in other temples I’ve been to are simply raised images on the exterior walls of these handful of garbas.

We made it upstairs just in time for the abhishekam of Shri Venkateshwar to begin. Gladly, we seated ourselves and watched everything unfold. I think this is actually the first such abhishekam for Shri Venkateshwar in which He is the temple’s main deity. I’m used to seeing Him all gussied up and wearing golden hands and tons of malas. The form itself is quite a bit smaller when all the fancy is wiped away.

There were times throughout the abhishekam when a quick aarti is performed. In my home temple, most of these involve the light being “offered” to the congregants after being offered to the deity. The priest will finish offering it to the god and then turn and face the crowd to do the same, at which time we all raise a hand or two to received the light and wash it over ourselves. Congregational Light Abhishekam / Aarti for the god within each of us. This didn’t happen at the Dayton temple – not even once. It’s hard for me not to feel slighted in some way, but I imagine this is attributed to a difference in puja style or something? Surely Vishnu would be cool sharing His Light with each of us, so I don’t understand why the priests didn’t facilitate that.

After the abhishekam, everyone lined up in front of the garba for Shri Venkateshwar… half of us on one side of the carpet leading to him and half on the other side, forming a kind of human hallway. The priests made their way down both sides of the aisle to distribute prasadam and other blessings. When this was finished, we meandered a bit to have another look at things and then left to get lunch. After eating, we were on our way out of Dayton when we spotted a Half Price Books store – one I’d noticed when I was at the Sahaj ashram a few weeks prior. Naturally, we stopped in. I was lucky enough to come across, and buy, a New Testament in Pennsylvania Dutch, which isn’t Dutch at all. I’m happy to add this to my home library since it’s the only text I’ve ever happened upon in the language and it’s also the only “Bible” I have which is strictly the New Testament.

Thus concluded the day trip to Dayton, Ohio. I’ve since shared this story with my manager at work, a lovely Hindu woman with whom I often discuss things like this. She told me of a number of other Hindu temples in Ohio and I plan to visit them each as I am able.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

 

From a distance...

From a distance…

Getting closer!

Getting closer!

Getting closer

Getting closer

Finally arriving

Finally arriving

Temple outside

Temple outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside

From the outside - the free-standing "gopuram" which is in disrepair.

From the outside – the free-standing “gopuram” which is in disrepair.

Kalpa-Vrksh listing major donors

Kalpa-Vrksh listing major donors

From inside - Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside – Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside - Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside – Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside - Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside – Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside - Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside – Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside - Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside – Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside - Venkatesh abhishekam

From inside – Venkatesh abhishekam

Doors are closed - God's getting dressed!

Doors are closed – God’s getting dressed!

Doors are closed - God's getting dressed!

Doors are closed – God’s getting dressed!

Garuda

Garuda

Garuda

Garuda

:) Just us

🙂 Just us

Doors are closed - God's getting dressed!

Doors are closed – God’s getting dressed!

View of temple interior to the right of Shri Venkateshwar - Ram Parivar

View of temple interior to the right of Shri Venkateshwar – Ram Parivar

Doors are closed - God's getting dressed!

Doors are closed – God’s getting dressed!

View of temple interior to the right of Shri Venkateshwar - Shri Tripurasundari

View of temple interior to the right of Shri Venkateshwar – Shri Tripurasundari

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Navagraha

Navagraha

:) Just us

🙂 Just us

Siva lingam - Siva lingam

Siva lingam – Siva lingam

Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha

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View of temple interior to the right of Shri Venkateshwar - Ram Parivar, and some kid ringin' a bell

View of temple interior to the right of Shri Venkateshwar – Ram Parivar, and some kid ringin’ a bell

Lord Ganesha's Name plate --- not at the front of his garbgrha, but on a nearby window sill

Lord Ganesha’s Name plate — not at the front of his garbgrha, but on a nearby window sill

No Right

Image Taken from Google Image search

Image Taken from Google Image search

A month or two ago, at temple, a guest speaker mentioned during her talk that in many Indian languages there is no word for “right.” This isn’t “right,” as in the opposite of wrong but “right,” as in something one is entitled to.

Rights are a big thing here in the USA. As “the land of the free” I suppose it’s quite natural that someone’s rights are just about always being debated, contested, or voted for (or against). As a gay American my own rights are, and have been, the subject of a lot of heat recently and in recent decades my people have gone from being classified as mentally ill to now being able to marry in many places. A lot of progress has been made, and much more is needed. And, of course, for every step forward there are those who demand a step backward – locally and in a number of states there are efforts underway to legalize discrimination. Here in Indianapolis there was a bakery that made a lot of news because they refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. I usually try my best to adhere to the “live and let live” philosophy and so, while I thought it wrong as hell to refuse to do the job someone was willing to pay you quite well for just because they have matching genitalia, I have almost always been willing to leave room at the table for those haters. When I was a teen and being thrown out of my church for being gay, many people were furious on my behalf – but I never was. They believe what they want and I’ll do the same. Whatever. The flip side of that, I feel, is that karma is impartial. If you do something to harm others (or yourself) you should expect results that you will likely perceive as negative. In that light, it’s no surprise at all that the anti-gay bakery here in Indy has since gone bankrupt.

Before I get too sidetracked, lemme get back to my focus: Rights. Entitlement. The speaker at my temple that day mentioned the lack of this word in many Indian languages and she briefly discussed this. I can’t regurgitate everything she spoke of, but I recall that she related it directly to karmaphala – the fruit of one’s actions.

Let me relate this to another side story: I was recently on a video chat with two people who are likely some of the best human creatures I’ve experienced in this life so far. We chattered about many things, some dark-n-wondrous and some not. One thing we touched on briefly was my pal and the Gita study group he attends. He mentioned that he sometimes doesn’t say a whole lot in the study group and connected that silence to timidity in regard to what others might think of what he might say.

This bothered me a bit. Anyone who’s met me in person, can confirm that I say anything I think needs to be said. I’m often correct in what I say, but not always, and I’m always honest. I almost never concern myself with whether or not someone will think I know as much as I should or whether they will agree with me. I don’t have a right to that. I do my part, as best as I know how to do my part – and that’s the end of it. I’m not entitled to what comes next. The fruits of my actions / words absolutely will be connected to me in whatever way they will manifest in my karmas, but even that is none of my business. You do what you should – when you should do it. I tried to explain to my friend that he’s short-changing others by holding back. He’s potentially robbing them of an experience that could be significant. There are times, especially in that setting, when he’ll be the teacher -regardless of whether or not what he mutters is intelligent – and because of that it’s his dharma to say what should be said when it should be said.

Holding back because of what he thinks might happen from the side of the listeners is him being concerned with the karmaphala of his effort to share with the group – and he has no right to that. None of us do. We should do what we should do, whenever we should do it – and that’s the end of it. Think of the freedom afforded to the karma yogi who is able to separate himself from the karmaphala most others get muddied in! Krishna says much the same thing in the Bhagavad Gita – act, because you must and for that reason only. Never act (or not act) because of the karmaphala. Certainly, in today’s culture where everyone is busied with other’s perceptions, it can be challenging to simply let go of the “phala” mentioned by Shri Krishna. I hope we can all, at our own pace according to our personal evolution, learn to loosen our grip on the rights we think we have.

 

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti