God’s Favorite Month

Back in June I read a blog post published by someone I no longer associate with but whose writing I sometimes enjoy reading. This young man, like myself, is gay and Hindu and non-Indian. Despite our differences, having those things in common means we understand certain things on the same level – which is nice. His post, which can be accessed by clicking here, was about Purushottama Masa, a leap month in the Vedic calendar. (The modern calendar observed here in the West has what we call leap years, but it’s really more like a leap day – a day that isn’t recognized on the calendar except in certain years. This is probably why the young writer called Purushottama Masa a leap month – it’s a month that isn’t always in the calendar.)

It’s explained in the post that Vishnu (Hari-dev) values this month immensely – so much that it’s his favorite month and he rewards devotees who up their sadhana during this auspicious time. It’s pointed out in the post that this increase in favor manifests as added benefits. So whatever punya you might normally accrue from, say, one round of mantra jaapa, is magnified during this leap month. Maybe during this month, because it’s God’s favorite, one round of jaapa counts double? Triple? Only god knows, I bet.

He goes on to focus the post not around it being god’s favorite or the added benefits, but of the importance of making every day and every offering as valuable as something offered so uniquely as in Purushottama Masa. I agree with that in general, but I often have an eye for details and the indication that this month is god’s favorite really stood out to me.

Please believe: Any god that has favorites is no god at all.

Throughout humanity’s history of god, we have claimed to know god well enough to be able to speak on god’s behalf – telling or explaining to others what’s okay with god and what isn’t, what god favors and what isn’t favored. Throughout humanity’s history of god this has proven to be immensely dangerous, almost invariably. After all: Jews are god’s “chosen people,” Christians know their jagadguru to be god’s “only begotten,” Islam’s idea of jihad couldn’t be pursued on any level without knowledge of what is holy in contrast to what is unholy, and Hindus apparently know god’s favorite month (among other things).

I don’t know why this tendency exists. Probably ego prospering withing Maya. Regardless of culture or time, it seems like something humans are bound to do: Fuck god up. We can’t be happy with our own unique first-hand experiences. We don’t usually want to rest in those experiences and treasure them as private peeks at our Source. At a minimum we often try to codify. In extremes, we kills others for not accepting what we know to be true. And the rest of the time we engage in all manner of in-between ridiculousness.

I think Sahaj Marg’s assessment that religion is like kindergarten is very fitting and very true. From kindergarten you get stick figure drawings, coloring outside the lines, and maybe some shaky handwriting. Yeah it’s sweet. It feels innocent because it’s a beginning and because it’s a beginning it actually holds tremendous value. But no one is meant to stay there. You leave kindergarten behind as soon as you possibly can and failure to do that usually means something really unfortunate like a learning disability or maybe even trouble at home. It’s like in a previous post when it was mentioned that Jesus was like, “Guys, c’mon! Stop being children of God. You have to grow up now.”

The quote pictured below was said by my current guru’s guru and I think it does a fine job expressing why we should leave religion behind as quickly as possible. Regardless of the innocence possibly expressed in stick figure drawings, they are still crude. Very crude representations of a much bigger reality, right?





Religion, especially if it tries to convince you that god has a favorite anything or a preference of any sort, is like saying a five-year-old’s stick figure representation of her mother is a sufficient and entirely accurate depiction of that woman. I don’t think the mother of the five-year-old is offended by the stick figure drawing. Not at all – the mother doesn’t really care. Being the mother, she understands that, for a brief time, that’s the best the child can do. Certainly, if god even had an opinion on religion, then god would view religion the same way: It’s the best some humans can do, at one stage or another in life.

But stick figures aren’t accurate – not even close. And kindergarten is meant only as a beginning.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Me, Myself, and … Nope. Just me.

Taken from Google Image search

Taken from Google Image search

I went on a bike ride last night. Alone. This makes the (at least) third time recently that I’ve asked the Best to join me and have been refused. The most recent reason was that eating microwaved bratwursts in front of the television beats summer night bike rides with me. Earlier last night, before the Best arrived home, I had a chat with the Beloved. He used to awaken WAY early just to work out. We would drive to work together and then go to the gym after work. It made accountability for going to the gym way easy – in fact, mostly there wasn’t a choice in it.

However, for the last eight months things have been considerably different. Around the end of last year I took a new (far more demanding) position at the office and also the Best moved in with us in an effort to mitigate some of the karmic reflux he was receiving. These two changes alone were fairly devastating to the pattern of life my Beloved and I had worked diligently for many months prior to establish. Prior to last December, life was literally easy.

During these last eight months my daily life isn’t all to have changed. My waist size has, too. And my thighs. And my ‘nother chin. And my energy level. Blah blah blah. In fact, although I recognize a significant element of “happy” in my life (and I really AM quite happy), I definitely feel comfortable describing myself as rather “blah.”

So in my conversation yesterday with the beloved I reminded him of our “used to be” life and how I missed it. We also discussed that I would far rather come home and nap after work than I would go to the gym – despite the fact that I keep a packed gym bag in my car and am always recharging my FitBit Flex and iPod Touch. You see, most days for the duration of the day I delight in the idea of going to the gym and improving myself. And then just before leaving the office, something happens within and quite suddenly I feel my bed calling to me in a very real way.

The truth is, if the Beloved and I still drove to work together this wouldn’t be an issue – mostly because it wouldn’t be allowed to be an issue. But we don’t. He refuses to get up early as he once did (and as I currently do). I’ve begged him to arise earlier JUST enough to ride together to work (not even that he would have to work out so early, as he used to) which would eliminate the possibility of me skipping the gym, but he refuses. (He has different plans for his own fitness and is very fond of working out before our massive television to the voices coming from DVDs in the T25, P90X, and Insanity collections.)

I tried telling him that my ballooning dimensions are essentially his fault since he refuses to do this one little thing to help me, his own Beloved, in this tiny little way. He wasn’t buying it. And he shouldn’t. Years ago, I paid >$400/month for him to have personal training at this gym. We did this for many months (aka $$$$$$$$), before I finally had to tell him I wasn’t able to continue affording that luxury on his behalf. At the time, upon hearing that news, he threw a tantrum of sorts and mentioned how he needed those sessions for “accountability.” I felt guilty as hell, but it didn’t change the fact that the money simply wasn’t there. Interestingly, now that I feel I require the accountability assistance, what I’m told (by him) is that I need to suck it up and just go – that I need to just find and maintain my own willpower and motivation and just …. go to the gym.

It’s a little hurtful not to get what I’ve given, but I suppose the bigger truth is that he’s right. My ego and pain body would LOVE to recycle these thoughts and feelings and reverberate the overall “poor me – why no one helps me the way I help them?” kinda internal drama. Only ego expects to get when it’s given and the pain body lives on the whole “poor me” scenarios.

I’ve mentioned ego and the pain body, which I first learned of through Eckhart Tolle. He’s not exactly a Hindu sage, however this stuff still applies to my path as a Hindu. I’ve always known that effort on the part of the aspirant is mandatory. We might receive little nudges or boosts from our guru or from pleasant patches in our karmas, but the onus is no less on the individual to make the journey back to the Origin.

Adopting Hinduism as my path, with a Ganapatya/Shaiva focus, has really driven home this truth. From the wisdom of the Gita we’re encouraged by Krishna to not only do what we must but also not to despair because no effort is ever wasted – this is an important component in the truth that is Karma which might be for another post but definitely points to another component which is that effort is mandatory.

From the perspective of the abhyasi practice of the Sahaj Marg this couldn’t be truer. As an abhyasi, I maintain as close a relationship as is possible with the current guru of the lineage – the development of my spirituality directly relates to this. Additionally, there are other components of the Sahaj Marg path that also directly relate to my personal progression and spiritual development – much of which rests squarely on my own shoulders.

Whether we’re talking the temple or the gym, the matter at hand changes very little. I can be seeking siddhis or enlightenment or spiritual subtlety. Or I can pursue the flattest abdominals and pectoralis muscles people could dangle from. The difference is negligible and the point remains the same. I have to own my development and progression, and so do you. No one can do this for us and everything else is a lame excuse. My prayer is that we’re able to recognize when we’re fooling ourselves and that we’ll awaken into a subtle light that shows to us not only the value of seeing how meaningful our actions are, but also the clearest path for those actions.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

A Seat At The Table

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

In the disclaimer I offered back on May 25th of this year (which can be read here), I mentioned that there are many kinds of Hindus, and thus many expressions of Hinduism. The kind of Hindu I want to write about is the carnivorous kind. I hope you brought your big mind to class today. I also hope you have your reading glasses and ample time to not only read what is likely to become a rather lengthy post, but ample time to mentally masticate the suchery about to be included. Aum Ganesha!

Before I dive deeply into what I’m planning here, please allow me to be clear: I’m not condoning carnivorous practices among humans. It’s my opinion that our current methodology for farming meat products is not only wasteful and inefficient, but also immensely cruel. I also believe there’s more than enough scientific evidence to support the theory that humans are anatomically and physiologically designed to consume primarily plant material for our nutrition needs. Lastly, I do think, for various reasons which I may end up not going into very much, that humans – as spiritual and intellectual organisms – function optimally when abstaining from eating meat. Beyond that, I’m not mad at folks who chomp beasts.

From where I’m sitting, this topic is a source of contention and too many misguided, skewed intentions. In the middle ages, Christians hunted other groups of people who they perceived to be a threat of some sort. Mind you, those Christians didn’t simply decided against a group and then plot its extermination. There was something about one group or another that was perceived to be a detractor to the process of “saving” the world, or was seen as a roadblock of sorts for those attempting to gain entrance into eternal heavenly paradise. Everyone wants paradise and some people want it for others, too. This was the goal of Christians then, but what ended up happening instead were things like the Crusades where folks were literally hunted and killed for not being Christian. Interestingly, during these times even Christian priests were tested – by vegetarianism. If they refused to eat meat, they were accused of having been influenced by the religion of Manacheanism and would be killed. Some could read this as indicative of the violence inherent in Christian doctrine. I’ll let you take those thoughts where you will.

I find that something along these lines, although not to the same extreme degree, happens in Hindu/Buddhist circles. There are many many scriptural texts in the Hindu religion. Many of those texts strongly advise that eating sentient beings isn’t too far removed from eating another human and at times those same texts precisely detail the karmic and spiritual repercussions – sometimes with an amount of detail that causes me to question the validity of that kind of precision. What’s often overlooked, though, are the parts of the Hindu family that either say nothing about abstaining from meat, encourage killing in some contexts (perhaps for sacrifice or beacuse of so-called duty), or advise that being too against meat eating is no different from actually consuming flesh yourself.

That last bit is important. I personally know a numerous number of vegetarians and vegans who believe that abstaining from fleshy chews will save their souls all the while completely ignoring the inner landscape they’ve cultivated around the subject and all the resultant karma they’re incurring because of it. All of our external actions have seeds which are subtle, many being as subtle as our own thoughts and emotions.

Please understand that aversion is ultimately, qualitatively, no different than desire – both are dangerous traps! This is affirmed/confirmed in the Gita by Shri Krishna, himself. Ultimately, perception of “goodness” is meant to be avoided as much as perception of “evil.” The only possible benefit of cultivating an abundance of “good” is pleasantry of experience. Be sure – the two are essentially the same. Hating or despising the consumption of meat will put you in the same samsaric/karmic boat as those who actually eat meat. Karma is karma, after all, and even the smallest amount of the most subtle karmic expression is still enough to imprison one on the wheel of death and rebirth – preventing moksha from being yours.

I want to show that, while there may be plenty of Hindu Scriptures or accepted concepts that strongly encourage a meat-free life, there are also scriptures that proclaim the more ultimate benefit of transcending such preferences. I’ll write more about that later. One should also note that there’s a key difference between encouraging someone in a behavior and simply not condemning them for it.

I also want to briefly visit what is probably the most common reason for abstaining from meat: Ahimsa. Most understand the term to simply and broadly mean nonviolence. This is true, but at best this definition only half covers abstention from meat. That’s because, at best, “nonviolence” only half defines ahimsa. Taking the definition of a word like ahimsa to be fully encompassed by something like “nonviolence” is like saying Brahman is as simple as “God.” It’s simply not (completely) true. This form of simplicity is at work in other forms of fundamentalism where something important is whittled down to chewable bites, and then those bits are said to contain every flavor of the original. As with any other Sanskrit word, there are numerous layers of meaning, and saying ahimsa means nonviolence is like saying you are your skin. It should also be pointed out that true nonviolence is not possible in ANY life. This is something else that is key to remember and is a prime example of how fundamentalism works, even within Hinduism. You end up throwing out practicality and reason. Other layers of ahimsa are possible in life, with effort, and when ahimsa is applied to a spiritual context those deeper layers are what’s being pointed to, not simply nonviolence. With that said, ahimsa alone makes a great case for better living, but not specifically a vegetarian diet.

Karma is another word that’s quite often tossed around when arguing whether meat eating is massively detrimental within the perennial context. Everyone seems to be under the assumption that all killing is “bad” and that all “bad” actions create undesirable results. If this were really the case, the warrior caste would be lower than the Shudras and would certainly be doomed to hellish places lifetime after lifetime, and Krishna wouldn’t have advised Arjuna that to kill humans (humans he loved!) is the dharmic thing to do. This is further support that the concept of non-violence isn’t meant to be so encompassing. Surely, with God represented equally in all sentient beings, if there are times when it’s literally righteous to kill other humans, there must also be times when it’s okay to kill “lesser” beings – although not necessarily for food. Still, I have a hard time believing that someone who enjoys a hamburger is automatically somehow karmically worse off than a soldier… at least here in the Kali Yuga.

Three Hindu scriptures do sufficiently well at illustrating all of this – not that consuming flesh is ok, but that it’s worse (or just as bad) to have an aversion to it. Due to the current length of this post, I’ll save the actual meat of what I’m getting at for another post, which is just as likely to be as broad as it is long. Stay tuned if you care.

Jai Shri Ganesha!

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Just thought you should know…

Taken from Google Image search

Taken from Google Image search

At the age of 33 now, it seems pretty inherent to who I am that I want people to know what I know.

Some, whose understanding isn’t quite “there” yet might perceive this to be me pushing my views or trying to make people agree with me. Although I’ve known people I definitely thought would benefit from thought pattern adjustments, this is (technically and practically speaking) different from pushing my views onto others. In fact, one of the few things that can make a Hindu a “bad” Hindu, in the same way that there can be “bad” Christians, is attempting to persuade others that they should be on a different path than they are. Hinduism is THE religion of “live and let live.”

Still, I’m confident in my own path as it is currently, and as I grow and develop my awareness through practicing Jnanayoga (as well as a few other yogas) I become increasingly at home with my Self. As this process unfolds, one finds that the work already done has a carrying effect.

Think of money. When you have more than you currently need, you are sometimes able to spend less time on the clock getting more money. So, you can occasionally coast a bit and know your bills are still getting paid. I recognize, sometimes more clearly than other times, that I am far from “retirement,” but I have also gotten enough work under my belt to occasionally take some time off and coast a bit without actually getting behind on my karmic bills. (Truly this is a recipe for moksha, but that’s an entirely different post waiting to happen!) Often, during the “free” time I’ve earned, and also quite often while still on the clock, I find it beneficial to myself and others to share what I know. Sure, that might sound a little off, but it isn’t really.

I find myself sharing what I know to be true for ME. I can certainly only ever speak in regard to my personal Truth as experienced through my personal effort and what makes the most sense to me in this world. However, sharing serves two purposes: First is making folks aware of what I think and knowing it usually rubs up against what they think and know, and hopefully (again depending on their current development) causes them to check what I share against what they think they know, and secondly will hopefully create dialogue enough that I end up challenged in return – the benefit of which is, of course, a Self reassessment. If you’d like me to go into either of those things more deeply, you’ll need to speak up and then watch for separate posts.

A big part of Jnanayoga and seeing/experiencing/realizing Truth is peeling away all that isn’t. There’s A LOT that isn’t. Jnanayoga and Advaita Vedanta have an expression (and Hindu scripture (the Upanishad and Avadhuta Gita) tells us) that Truth is “neti, neti.” It translates roughly as “not this, not that.” I think about the only way one is able to strip away the things that are neither “this” nor “that” is to experience – and that often means exploring and testing. How can you know where you stand or where you want to eventually stand if you aren’t sure of where you shouldn’t stand?

Please don’t ever stand where you stand simply because someone told you to. Don’t stand there because others before you stood there as well. It’s my hope and definitely is your responsibility to absolutely know why you stand where you do and where that will take you. If you’re not very certain, in the purest way, question it. The only thing that is ever threatened in this context is your own ignorance.

Om Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Jnana Crazy

I came across the video posted below on a friend’s Facebook page today. It’s of a well-known song, and I really enjoy this sing-able version of it. I’ve included the lyrics, too, in case you’re not familiar. Look only a little deeper into the words of this song and you’ll taste some Jnana. One of the most karmically beneficial skills my adventure into Jnana Yoga has provided me is the abibility to, at times, leave my mind aside and see not only how crazy everything here is, but also the peace of seeing what “so pleasant about that place” where even the mind cannot touch. Good stuff!

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you’re out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Possibly [radio version]
Probably [album version]

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that’s my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you’re in control

Well, I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
And I can die when I’m done

Maybe I’m crazy
Maybe you’re crazy
Maybe we’re crazy

Yantras, Mantras, & Murtis – OH MY

I’ve been thinking about something lately. Transcendance. I’ve known of or have been a part of a number of groups who ultimately forego all images of the Divine – not unlike Muslims. The Sahaj Marg is a prime example: Clearly Hindu. And yet essentially shuns all images of the Truth and has even been known to resist the label of “Hindu.” The reasoning, in digest version, is that these end up being things that bog down the human soul’s progress toward growth. Since attachments are essentially what keep us here, no murtis mean one less attachment.

Of course, everyone recognizes the value of an external focus. In the context of spirituality, or personal development in general, we (at least) start out being helped by external focus points. We pray to crucifixes, or statues, among other ritualistic suchery. In the beginning, this serves us well. It helps us to bring ourselves out of the claustrophobic encasement built by the mind and ego. First we learn to recognize Truth as separate from ourselves – in God, in our religion, in humanity. And as we grow that recognition, and serve It, we (hopefully) eventually come full circle and realize that the Self we see in God, our religion, in humanity – is within us. In fact, IS us. Sometimes you have to leave home in order to return. This can, of course, lead to issues if one fails to continue growing and persistently relies on that Other. As long as that Other is viewed as the Other and not one’s Self (which would change everything entirely), peace can never fully be realized. The Other is what this post is meant to be about.

In Hinduism, one has more freedom than anywhere else to choose their path to God and that includes the Shape they perceive God to have. Resultantly, Hinduism arguably offers the widest range of established Shapes. The Shape I’m most inclined toward, at least currently, is Ganesha.

I’ve been reading through “Loving Ganesha,” by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. It’s a fairly immense book, although not endless. As I’m working through it for about the fourth time, and thoroughly enjoying every word of the Satguru’s, I began to wonder about all this… structure. And it came to me: What if I had no Ganesha murtis? Could I not perform the pujas in the book? Would it be useless to chant the Ganesha Sahasranam if I only had access to a murti of Vishnu? What if I knew only Vishnu puja, but had only a murti of Kali?

I already knew the answer according to my typical logical workings and my own personal tradition centered around Ganesha, but I decided to ask others for their input. After all, THOUSANDS of years of contributions have gone into the development of what we know to be murtis and puja formulations. One can find tome after tome of Scripture detailing exactly why you do what you do and how to do it. Why does one use red flowers in Ganesha puja as opposed to dark purple ones? Did you know that each murti, when formally created, must adhere to very strict guidelines or it’s considered flawed? Have you ever paid attention to the Sanskrit sounds produced during one mantra or Sahasranama, versus another? You’re meant to be conducting very specific energies, and so you’re supposed to be forming very specialized sounds with your mouth. The same can be noticed in the various mudras employed by temple priests when performing pujas for the temple’s deity. From a standpoint of orthodoxy (which I’ve been known to pick and choose from), any aspiring pujari needs to know these things – and many others! – if he’s to be taken seriously by the community he hopes to serve. I’ve found that most Hindus might not know the exact right way about worship, but they can invariably discern the “wrong” way.

One source of input on this topic has come from the friend I mention frequently. Although I’m not sure I’ve put this exact question to him, the response has typically been that too much could be lost among the details and that one shouldn’t necessarily compromise what’s in the heart for the sake of the ritual itself. In theory, I’d agree with this. It’s a little more bhakti-centric than I was hoping for and than I am inclined to accept entirely, but the meat of that answer is something good for chewing.

To gain additional perspective, I took this question to a closed Facebook group I belong to for LGBT Hindus. Initially, some seemed puzzled by my question. This is almost certainly my fault, as I tried to keep the wording to a minimum for the sake of brevity. Some answers received were quite general and along the lines of, “Whatever your tradition allows is fine.” Yep. That’s true. No argument there. Additional sentiment received was similarly bhakti-centered, “You can worship any form of God through any form of God, as long as your heart is in it.” Fine. Fair enough. Again, I don’t disagree.

Still, I’m looking for something more substantial than heart-felt emotion. Something more calculated – like Hinduism itself. After all, the very religion we Hindus adhere to isn’t exactly a religion of the heart. I mean, sure, it is. But to say Hinduism is a religion of the heart would be an incredible disservice. Anywhere one looks within Hinduism, we see structure and knowledge. THIS is the house we Hindus live in. Everything, literally everything, is precise. The Sanskrit language we speak and chant in, mudras, yantras, mantras, and yes, the very shape of our temples and murtis are all exactly and precisely and concretely revealed and formulated. The rishis didn’t “feel” or “love” Sanskrit mantras into being. Mantras have a scientific and verifiable connection to the universe. The rishis transcended emotion and tapped into these deep, real, and concrete mysteries and just as systematically provided them to us. I digress?

So what if we were to ignore the structure provided for us by our beloved rishis? Would that mean Ganesha puja performed with a Hanuman yantra or a murti of Brahma is negated? If it doesn’t mean that, then what is the exact value of the effort (aka those very yantras, mantras, and murtis) of those rishis thousands of years ago and what does that mean for the current and future face of Hinduism? Could there be detrimental effects of this kind of mish-mashing? There are certainly tales of malevolent effects of misused, or even just mispronounced, mantras – even including spinal paralysis!

If I can say this without sounding condescending, I think the group I posted this question in isn’t used to questions that force one to go so deep into the value of things. In fact, 99% of the entre response thread that resulted was contributed by a Kraishnav who spent two-thirds of his entire effort in the conversation simply trying to convert me to his sect, saying that I should not only read the Gita “AS It Is,” but that my question is bogus and all worship of the so-called demi-gods goes to Krishna anyway. I really wanted to spit.

At any rate, a concrete and educated answer from other sects remains elusive and my hope for a substantial dialogue with others to deeply discuss this remains unfulfilled. Maybe I’ll try again later.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


Taken from Google Image search, "Gay Hindu"

Taken from Google Image search, “Gay Hindu”

Friday was an interesting day for me. The week has pretty much flew by, although Friday not so much. Russia’s been on my nerves in the worst way. It’s not often I recommend obliterating nations, but Russia is pushing it. Even the Middle East with all its own joys doesn’t get under my skin the way Russia is currently. In the Middle East at least they have “good reasons” for their dumb ideaologies. By “good reasons,” I mean religion. Everyone is dictated by Islam in those regions and while it’s not right to be that way either, per se, it’s at least a foundational starting point that can evolve. It’s spiritually misguided logic – it theoretically started out wholesome, and wherever it sits currently, it could also theoretically get back to square one. Russia is different though. The stuff coming out of Russia these days is just mean. Russia’s not saying that Jesus wants them to hunt gays. It’s saying its population is dwindling and gays pose a threat to reproduction and therefore the survival of the nation. That view violates so much common sense and even basic facts that I find it far more offensive than a Muslim who’s ignorant wanting to hunt gays. It’s a fine line, but a distinct one in my mind.

Along these lines, a friend on Facebook reposted something from Vaishnav literature wherein Prabhupad Swami had some pretty harsh words regarding gays, including that we’re lower than even the animals, which are already far lower than humans already. He went on and on as the devotees probed him on this. You can read that blissful knowledge here.

The best part of it all for me was that no one said, “Those are not true Vaishnavs!” One commenter did come close (he’s what another friend would rightly call Kraishnav), but otherwise it didn’t even show up on th radar. This is heard muchly within Abrahamic religions. Whenever Christians hunt people or Muslims bomb them, the other adherents of those faiths are quick to abandon their brothers and very loudly make sure everyone else knows, “They aren’t real Christians!” I’ve even heard a Buddhist monk do this in reponse to some other monks standing up against Muslim oppressors. It seems terribly egoic to me when people turn on their own brothers/sisters like that. It was nice that no one did that – today anyway.

Someone else commented that Vaishnavism is essentially “curried Catholicism.” I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair or accurate assessment, but it’s one I can relate to as having an element of truth to it.

But it all got me thinking… What if one keeps his mouth shut entirely? I mean, the whole event Friday on Facebook was really quite interesting. Somebody said something, others encountered that said thing and said something else in reponse, and then more and more people ended up saying more and more in reponse (in reaction?).

So if I have shitty or hateful or whatever views does it really matter so long as I keep my pie hole shut? My karmas are mine alone (mostly) and if I don’t project them in any manner externally (which, I’ll admit would be nearly impossible to do) then why should anyone else care about it?

I see this happen in the spa I work part-time at. One professional will be having a conversation and since the area is rather open and fluid, conversationsa are often blended and melted into each other, or at least overlapping. This often creates a “mind your own business, nobody asked you” kinda of situation. Prior to those interactions, relative peace is experienced. But is that really peace, or just relative, individualized ignorance?

Here’s what I think the REAL root of it all is: Jnana. And I mean both sides of the Jnana “coin.”

Jnana, I’ve said before, is experiential realization of Truth. It requires work on your part and no one else’s. If I want your advice to check my own thoughts against, that’s one thing. But if I haven’t invested enough work in my own Self, I won’t even really be (experientially) aware of what’s already inside me. This is simultaneously the starting place and the finish line, no joke. But if this doesn’t happen, a person not only has no secure foundation (afterall what’s clearer than your own personal, experiential, realization of Truth?), but also almost certainly has no clear idea of the Goal – also because they’ve not invested the work needed for experiential realization. So if one neglects the work that needs done, and has no realization of the secure foundation (not the same as having no foundation at all), and has no resultant sight of the Goal which would also need to be certain, then he/she is likely to rely on others in ways that the hope-filled think will give direction to their journey – this laziness is grave and is pretty much the reason the self-help industry is booming. Nothing wrong with a book telling you how to reach your higher Self, but just reading won’t work. This almost invariably means that the kind of ineractions I mentioned earlier take place.

To keep moving… What’s all the fuss about gayness and Hinduism? Superficially, Hinduism is pretty much literally the most liberating religion ever. Many religions are quite “free,” but within the context of history and orthodoxy, the freedom found in Hinduism simply can’t be surpassed.

Interestingly, Hinduism has a rich, albeit somewhat obscure, history of gayness. The Faithology website has a page on homosexuality within Hinduism which can be accessed by clicking here – and it does a fair job at detailing exactly what I’m talking about.

The site mentions the “third sex,” which everyone should read about. More popularly, though, the site also offers a few nuggets most might not know about. For instance, the Harihara aspect of God, is a male-male union of Shiva and Vishnu. This can’t exactly be said to be gay, but it’s definitely homosexual (according to a strict definition of the word) and stands in sharp contract to the more obviously hetero blending of “God” in the form of Shiva and Shakti. Also, Krishna’s own son, Samba, actually engaged in homosexual acts (which isn’t the same as being gay, but whatever) and is a known cross-dresser/transvestite. There’s also a version of the Ramayana that details the creation of the god Bhagiratha from lesbian intercourse.

Another WordPress post, also inspired by some of Friday’s interactionsw, was composed by the Facebook friend mentioned earlier who had reposted Prabhupad’s interview transcription. This post can be read here, and takes a myth buster form. In all actuality, the posted I just linked you (as well as my post here) could just about as easily contribute to the strife I was getting at in the beginning of this post.

In theory, we should all be able to hold any view under the sun about any subject under the sun, and it shouldn’t matter. Should it? Why does it? Have I already provided the answer, or do I need you to help enlighten me? Are you sure?

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti



One of the books I bought while in Chicago recently is, “The Book of Ganesha” by Royina Grewal. I’ve only read the introduction and part of the first chapter, but it’s already been really interesting. Some of what I’ve read I’m not sure how I feel about – stuff like the Aryan Invasion Theory, which this book seems to support. But generally, most all of what I’ve read would be classified as myths surrounding Ganesha’s origin. I love this stuff.

After reading through a number of origin stories I came to one I was less familiar with. Actually, I was familiar with it superficially, but hadn’t looked into it much. As it turns out, the following story is one created by Vaishnavs for, what I perceive, are very obvious purposes.

“Such was the popularity of the elephant-headed deity that the Vaishnavas also wished to claim Him as their own and developed myths to establish the connection of Ganesha with Vishnu. One presents Ganesha as an incarnation of Krishna, with Shani instead of Shiva as the agent of beheading. And it is Vishnu who revives Ganesha and grants him his special status.

(And the story goes…)

Shiva advised Parvati, who wanted to have a son, to propitiate Vishnu and observe vratas (fasts and rituals) in his honor for a year. “Then,” he said, “The lord of gopikas, Krishna himself, will be born as your son.” Parvati observed the vrata, and to her immense joy, Krishna was born to her as an infant of unparalleled beauty.

All the gods came to pay homage to Parvati’s new son. The great ascetic Shani, son of Surya, was among them but he kept his eyes cast down and would not look at the child. When Parvati asked him the reason for this, he explained that once he had been so absorbed in the contemplation of lord Vishnu that he had not noticed his wife’s attempts to gain his attention. Furious that her fertile time would pass unfulfilled, she had cursed him, saying that anything his eyes rested upon would be destroyed. It was because of this that he would not look at the child.

Parvati and her attendants mocked Shani, and she demanded that he admire her son. And so with great fear, and only out of the corner of his eye, Shani looked at Parvati’s infant and his glance instantly severed the child’s head. Vishnu, moved by the mother’s grief, flew off on Garuda towards the north. He brought back the head of a young elephant which he joined to the headless body of Parvati’s son, reviving him. Vishnu blessed “Krishna-Ganesha” thus: May your puja be performed before that of any other god. May you be situated in all venerable beings and may you be the best among yogis. This is my boon to you.

Thus ends the Vaishnav origin of my ishtadevata. Does anyone else find it “typical” that Vishnu is in the spotlight so much in this rendition?

1) Parvati had to appease Vishnu to win His favor, which took a year.
2) After winning favor, Parvati is the lucky gal who gets to birth the all-star, Krishna (Vishnu).
3) All the gods paid homage to Her son, who is Krishna/Vishnu
4) An ascetic devotee of none other than Vishnu had the curse (power?) which severed the head of the infant Krishna (an interesting paradox, indeed).
5) Vishnu, who came to adore His own infant form, was also the one who saved the day by getting a new head for the baby AND being responsible for reviving him.
6) A wond’rous boon was afforded the babe, who is Krishna, by Sri Vishnu – just because?

So Vishnu gave the blessing, which was conveniently His own appearance. Then somebody who loved Vishnu “too much” was responsible for the child’s death, which allowed Vishnu – who had arrived solely to adore His own infant self – to become the hero and fix a mess that, at best, He’d only indirectly caused. And as icing on the cake, he gave a boon to His infant self.

Say what?

A better-known version of Ganesha’s origin seems more balanced, impartial, and frankly more reasonable: Shiva (traditionally known as the master of all yogis) had been away for a while meditating (as the master of all yogis would be inclined to do) when Parvati decided to create a child/guardian of Her own body. Shiva comes back and ignorantly makes a mess of the situation because He isn’t aware that the child is essentially His. When Parvati sees the mess, She threatens to annihilate all of existence in Her grief. To prevent this, Shiva ends up with an elephant head, which he installs on the child’s body and restores to life. Then because He’s the one who made the mess to begin with, He not only makes everything right again, but adds icing on top with a boon that requires “sacrifice” on His own part – which is to give Ganesha dominion over His (Shiva’s) gunas, among other aspects of the boon.

I personally find this version to be far less lop-sided than the Vaishnava version. From the beginning it follows basic foundational concepts of Hinduism: Parvati, the Mother, is where everything comes from and it’s from Her body that Ganesha is formed – like everything else in existence. Her very upset threatens the entirety of existence, which makes sense because “everything” is energy, aka Shakti, aka The Mother – which further supports that Ganesha should have come from Her to begin with. Then Shiva, the one who jacked everything up because of His own yogic imbalance, is the rightly one who made everything good again through His own effort and sacrifice – aka the Law of Karma.

And finally what you’re left with is Ganesha: The universal symbol of Hinduism regardless of sect, second only to Om itself – which He’s also uniquely recognized as the embodiment of. His strange form transcends reason and conceptual limitation, just as with Brahman Itself. His form is also a poetic combination of natural and supernatural, magic and mundane, creator and creation – signifying not only the indefinable nature of our Source, but also that He’s the harmony found perfectly situated at the center of every paradox. He rules all karmas, as no substantial action should be started without Him, and no barrier can be erected or removed without Him. He’s known to be the ruler of the Muladhara Chakra and is known to be “centered in the chest where the breath is felt” which tells us that He’s the closest to us, the most easily accessed, the true Starting Point, and intimately connected to our very existence. No other conception of God is worshipped successfully without first worshipping Him.

I could probably go on and on, but I bet you’re about to hurl. Fair enough. Every once in a while I just gotta make a post like this and get it out of my system. Thanks for tolerating.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

When Prayer Finds You

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

I don’t care for prayer. The whole concept, at least in its common application, bothers me. Why would something like a human have any NEED to talk to god? In my experience, the vast bulk of what’s said to God is selfish (even when we’re praying for other people!) and the act itself is the opposite of listening to/for God, which I find infinitely more beneficial. Plus, if God is really God, It already knows the contents of our hearts and usually by the time that stuff finds its way through the filters of our minds and mouths, it has been twisted anyway. So the idea of sitting down and talking to God seems distracting, arrogant, and quite frankly a bit silly.

Having admitted to that, I want to make a distinction. Hindus pray, too. And often times, informally, our prayers are made of the same stuff as any other person’s. However, we also have a different way of communing with our Source. The Sanskrit verses of our many scriptures are much more than “prayer.” Without going into it much (but I’m going to anyway), suffice it to say that the sounds that make up the Sanksrit language, which Hindus use religiously, are designed such that they each carry a specific vibration – literally a sonic frequency that parallels other frequencies throughout the cosmos and which are immensely subtle. Those subtle vibrations and frequencies correspond with deeper levels of reality (which has been proven by quantum physics), and in that way, when the sounds are sequencially combined and intoned, it’s very literally like sending God a text message.

I think sometimes, similarly, God sends us text messages.

My own established liturgy which I use in worship (of Ganesha) is fairly set-in-stone. It’s not technically, but it rarely alters or is amended. Truth be told, I’m far busier than I’d like, to be able to add more to the menu. However, a day or two ago something popped into my head, quite unexpectedly.

“Om Maha Ganapatim, Manasa Smarami”

And it repeated itself. And has continued to do so. I have a mantra that I employ when I settle down for a bit of japa. But this random addition to my internals has been a welcome addition and has also proven to be a powerful and easy and addicting “walking meditation.”

One of the meanings I found online for it is as follows:

Mahaganapathy! My namaskarams to you. I meditate on You, the Great God Ganapathy. You are the one who is worshipped by great sages such as Vashishta and Vamadeva. You are the son of the Great Lord Shiva. You are always adored by ‘Guruguha’, Lord Skanda. You have a beauty and shine with the brilliance of a thousand ‘manmadhas’ – Cuipds. You are the embodment of peace and tranquility. You love great poetry and drama. You have as the vehicle, as a mount, a small mouse. You love the modhakas, a variety of sweet made of rice and coconut. I bow to thee. My lord, Maha Ganapathy.

To be honest, the first two sentences are actually about all that’s technically said by the phrase itself, but the rest is a mix of implied meaning and meaning attached to translations of the rest of the krithi that this is pulled from.

I was fortunate enough to locate a nice recitation on Youtube. I hope you enjoy.

I chant it to myself frequently these days and I sing it, too. When taking the recycling – Om Maha Ganapatim Manasa Smarami. When walking to the men’s room – Om Maha Ganapatim Manasa Smarami. On a walk with my dogs, sitting in my car, cooking food, or cleaning out the cat box – Om Maha Ganapatim Manasa Smarami. It actually makes for a great cadence to coordinate with one’s footsteps. And the best part is, I never had to make it stick. It was given to me and it was effortless to accept.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti

Sweetest Satan

Image taken from Ananta Vrindavan Images

Image taken from Ananta Vrindavan Images

Hinduism Today magazine has long been one of my favorite publications. It’s a wonderful and credible source of Hindu vidya, and although the publication was founded by monks from a Shaivite lineage, the magazine itself often contains considerable information pertaining to many of Hinduism’s other sects. The magazine is officially Shaivite, but I think most readers would find it actually quite Smarta. The lineage leading up to the modern day Saiva Siddhanta Church is old and very much intact, and the fact that it manages to have such an immense and open presence here in the West, while remaining so very orthodox is great. For a while I saved every issue, and then as an act of nonattachment I stopped, and now I am again. Some issues carry more weight than others, but every single issue is my favorite issue.

In the most recent issue of the magazine published, there’s an article titled, “From Bondage to Liberation: Explaining the ego’s initial subjugation of the soul as a form of Shiva’s grace.” It couldn’t have come at a better time, considering the formation of these posts, and I feel it offers a warm-n-fuzzy feeling or silver lining to the information presented leading up to this post. I hope you agree.

Grace is a funny religious term. I don’t like it usually. Same goes with the notion of mercy. For one, the difference between the two is often poorly understood (as with myself) or misunderstood entirely (as with many people, in general). The simplest definition of grace that I’ve been able to find is “unmerited favor,” which pretty closely matches my current understanding. The connotation is one of doing something nice for someone even though they don’t necessarily deserve it. There’s nothing inherently wrong in that notion, as far as I’m concerned, but I don’t really understand God to operate in that kind of mode. To me, to suppose God shows grace to humans is rather negating to the concept of karma, which itself is fairly supreme. I can see gurus showing grace and mercy, and in some cases I think this is exhibited in the form of the guru mitigating a devotee’s karmas for the advancement of that devotee. But I digress.

So… back to ego and grace and Hinduism Today’s Satguru Bodhinath Veylanswami. According to the article in this issue of the magazine, egoity is named “anava mala.” According to the Mrigendra Agama, anava mala is the “individualizing veil; egoity.” Also according to this Agama, the grace of Shivashakti is bestowed upon not only sentient beings, but also upon “inert things,” and this acts as an intensifier to that anava mala.

Superficially, this sounds counterintuitive. Why would God’s grace intensify our egoity? To be clear, the Mrigendra Agam clarifies, “…but not with the intention of making the soul suffer. Whatever action is done by Lord Shiva, it is indeed and effective and unfailing help to the soul. It cannot be considered otherwise.” The text continues, detailing that liberation cannot happen until the anava mala is removed entirely.

“But even when the power of anava mala becomes ripe for such maturation, its intensification does not, and cannot, take place of its own accord. It is seen that always and by all means, the non-intelligent object, in this case the ego, is kept in action only by an intelligent being,” states the Mrigendra Agama. The Agama then likens all of this to a physician who’s applying a stinging medicine to a wound. The sting is technically painful to the patient, but certainly for his own good. Later, the Agama continues, “Even so, for the sake of the removal of anava mala, the experiences should not be considered as afflicting or aggravating activity, but rather as healing, for they drive the soul’s evolution through the understanding born of its experiences.”

“Since Shiva is all-pervasive, His immediate and active presence in all objects and beings cannot be set aside. But where there is no need for His action, He remains neutral and free from any action… For those souls in whom anava mala is reaching its phase of maturation and removal, Shivashakti descends immediately and unfolds in the form of grace. Grace is indeed the compassionate function which makes the intensities of anava mala’s bonds ripe enough for removal.”

Later on we’re explained that a specific form of Shakti manifests to help the loosening of the ego through intensification. “Tirodhana shakti is a pure and asupicious power, which takes command of and works in concord with the ego’s obscuring potencies in order to sytematically work through them.”

This deep and metaphysical explaination closes with, “Grace is, in actuality, the cognitive power of the bound soul brought about by its evolution through the ego’s dominion and the maturing process of the inert bond. The simultaneous occurance of cognition and the ego’s intensification is considered to be the bestowal of grace” and that this explanation applies identically with the preponderant states of karma and maya, the soul’s other two bonds (anava mala being the third bond of the soul preventing liberation).

Certainly by now, your head may be swimming. Fair enough. But where do we stand? I’m feeling like it might be appropriate to bring this post to a close and attempt a summary in another. Of course, why not have skipped all these many words and just cut right to the summary? It’s not my style. The friend who’s been mentioned before in these posts encouraged me to write a paragraph of 20 words. It made me chuckle. 20 words isn’t a paragraph (for me). It’s a sentence.

One more post. Then I’m done. I promise.

Om Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti