The Summer of Flux

by Aranyakananda

I have been told by a dear friend and the greatest proponent of this blog that I have (until a couple of days ago) let far too much time pass between blog posts. It’s true. In order to get myself back on track and to pacify my friend, I do have a couple of things coming along. I posted something on the last day of July and then nothing in August and nothing in September. In August I was off having some of the nicest times in recent memory, seeing Paul McCartney with my wife, and then visiting with a friend out in California (not the friend mentioned above, whom we also had a visit from in July, another key factor in making this summer so memorable to me and my wife). I then spent the first two weeks of September in the hospital with a – seemingly – unrelated illness which is closely associated with my having spina bifida

I say seemingly because I’ve been reading Swami Kriyananda’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras and in a couple of places he’s mentioned that one should never wish for good things because they “inevitably” are followed by their polar opposite. This is part of the Law of Karma, it would appear he is saying.

Surely hoping and wishing for “good” things is an example of attachment, which leaves us more and more succeptible to the ups and downs of the world, given our stronger expectations and given how hopes and wishes help to so clearly define good and bad in our minds. But I don’t think that hoping for some fun, thrilling experience necessarily causes its opposite. Not exactly, not this way. Maybe I was going to have the illness I had anyway, and maybe the “high” of the thrills my wife and I experienced this summer made the low all that more noticeable, shook me out of my peaceful state more than it otherwise would have. But that is all I am willing to concede.

Am I wrong?

Jai Harihara!

Posted in book review, books, Brahman, consciousness, current events, Depression, detachment, disabilities, dualism, duality, Eastern Philosophy, ego, healing, Hinduism, karma, Kriya yoga, life, opinion, paralysis, Paramahansa Yogananda, Patanjali, philosophy, religion, Sanatana Dharma, Self-Realization Fellowship, Spina bifida, spirituality, Swami Kriyananda, Uncategorized, Western Hinduism, wheelchair, writing, Yoga Sutras, Yogananda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Give a Damn (But Not Just Because You Have Two of Them)

by Aranyakananda

This is going to be a short one.

It has become evident to me that there are two ways of looking at donating belongings to charities. One seems to have become to definative outlook in America. That is the one in which one gives what he doesn’t need. The other, which to me seems to be overlooked and disregarded is this: You give away what you have and you see that other people need.

I am not saying one should give away what he does in fact need, and I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t been as thoughtful when it comes to giving in areas I know there are a need in my community/country/universe. But does one’s not-needing have to be the deciding factor, over the need of others? Certainly the act of letting go of something you do not need is a valuable karmic act in that it will lessen attachment to a collection of things in your life simply because you like having it around. But when I go into second hand stores sometimes, I see a lot of items cluttering up the shelves that, quite frankly, nobody needs.

Hari Aum

Posted in American Hindus, current events, dharma, Eastern Philosophy, editorial, ego, Hinduism, inspiration, karma, life, love, meaning of life, opinion, philosophy, self help, self-realization, social commentary, spirituality, Western Hinduism, yoga | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Vishvarupa and the Probability Waves

by Aranyakananda

The title of this post is not my fictional band’s name. It is about a theory put forth in a very unique book I’ve just finished reading, called “The Yoga of Time Travel” by Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D. It is unique in its connection of yoga with time travel, though more and more physicists, and scientists in general are seeing the spiritual side of their research.

Physics is something that boggles my mind in general, but this book caught my eye. In reading it, I was struck by Wolf’s interpretations about certain passages from the Bhagavad-Gita. Namely, Wolf says that when Krishna reveals his universal form, his Vishvarupa, to Arjuna, what he is really showing him is that he, Krishna, having already announced that he IS “Time”, also contains all possibilities/results to any given situation/action. So essentially, Krishna is saying that in him we become timeless, or rather experience the timeless state which is the True Nature of Things, the experience of the temporal dimension being but a symptom of imprisonment in the material world.

Wolf’s theory has to do with what are called possibility waves and probability curves. It is a concept that Dr. Wolf took several chapters to explain so my attempt at explaining it here will be dreadfully inadequate. Basically what it comes down to is that every event has its basis in possibilities. They combine to form probabilities which become the event we experience. In “letting go” of our ego, we in turn let go of our attachment to the current state of being, i.e., the present, opening us up to possibility of seeing different versions of the past and future given different possibility waves.

One might think that ego-attachment would lend itself to being “stuck in the past” as it were, but not according to Dr. Wolf. Fine. It is largely theoretical anyroad, though some of it is demonstrable.

But getting back to Vishvarupa:

In Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 11, Sri Bhagavan Krishna reveals to Arjuna that he is Time itself, and then reveals his Vishvarupa, his Universal form, to the great warrior. The Vishvarupa is usually depicted as Krishna as usual, but with countless heads of various visages (usually including those of the various gods), and countless arms holding countless weapons. Wolf contends that this symbolism is meant to indicate that, as Time, Krishna contains within himself all possibilities. Herein lies the key to the complicated “Time Travel” aspect of Wolf’s book, when one gives himself over to the suggested way of conduct put forth by Sri Krishna.

Interestingly the next book I picked up after “The Yoga of Time Travel” was one I’d bought months ago but never really started, “Demystifying Patanjali” a Yogananda assessment of the Yoga Sutras, as remembered by his disciple Swami Kriyananda. According to his translation of the Sutras, 2:36 and 2:39 related to this subject nicely.

Sutra 2:36 reads: “To one who is firmly established in truthfulness, his very word becomes binding on objective reality. (Whatever he says must come to pass)”

Not expressly referring to “time travel” but more so control over the flow of events which is much of what Wolf’s “time travel” is.

Sutra 2:39 reads: “One who becomes established in non-attachment develops the ability to remember his past lives.”

According to Dr. Wolf, in practicing non-attachment one slows down ones experience of time and – though extremely unlikely it seemed to me, given the logistics involved – indeed may collect understanding of the past. Wolf describes what, beyond yoga, would be necessary for this to occur, some of which one might equate to a “time machine” like the one in H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”.

Though I don’t know that this book really delivered what the title promised in relation to yoga, it was a fascinating read even for a physics pre-beginner like me. The discussion of the spiritual aspect of time travel did not even begin until page 183 out of 212, though sparing references to yoga, meditation and Hinduism were made early in the book.

Take a look at it. You’ll likely get much more out of it than I could possibly put into this blog post. But I wanted to note its having passed before my eyes.

Aum Hara Sadashivaya
Aum Hari Narayanaya

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by Aranyakananda

Last night gave us a rare opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse, which turned the mood blood-red for the second time this year. To misquote Peter Noone, I “don’t know much about astronomy, but I do know” that this is a rare enough occurrence to give pause to sky watchers worldwide.

It held a different meaning for me. The thought passed through my brainspace last night that in observing this eclipse, we were all able to have an experience that was very symbolic of the life we live in the material world. What we were seeing was a shadow of ourselves reflected back to us off the moon. Not only when we look in the mirror are we seeing but a shadow of our True Self reflected back, but when we receive feedback from “others” (whatever that means), it is yet another type of shadow of our true nature that we are processing, but, like in the case of the Earth’s shadow on the surface of the moon) the reflection of ourselves we process from feedback from others, is framed first and foremost by that person’s opinion.

That is why I like to remind people that “other peoples’ opinion of me is none of my business.” Not only is it not healthy to really worry about, but its like playing a game of Telephone. The data about who you really are passes through so many filters along the way that by the time you get it, it is worthlessly skewed.

Hari Aum

Posted in American Hindus, astronomy, Brahman, consciousness, current events, Dharma religions, dualism, duality, Eastern Philosophy, ego, existentialism, Hinduism, inspiration, life, meaning of life, meditation, News, opinion, philosophy, science, social commentary, spirituality, Western Hinduism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rathangapani – Life Upon the Wheel

by Aranyakananda

Just a note to avoid any confusion. This blog used to be called “Rolling with Vishnu.” Since the change in name and a possible change in appearance/layout, I wouldn’t want to lose connections I have made with regular readers.

I have long felt that “Rolling with Vishnu” was a little bit “cute” actually being a blog about a Hindu with Vaisnav leanings who is also in a wheelchair. Secondly, it suggested a certain degree of duality that I was not comfortable with. Oddly enough, upon discussing the pending change with a very regular reader and a most appreciated critic, it seems the new title, “Rathangapani” suggests even more of the same duality.

Though I am not a Gaudiya, I have always been attracted to the concept of the charioteer as a metaphor for spiritual living. The word “Rathangapani” according to Eknath Easwaran, means “He who guides the wheel of the chariot with his hands.” Being that I am in a wheelchair, this metaphor hits close to home on a gross level, and so I was at first concerned that this title would be taken wrongly. But I am not referring to my body, and I am not referring to an external God.

I remain convinced that the “charioteer” is already there tucked away in each jivan’s consciousness or maybe subconsciousness, but it is there buried for us to find, and consider our GPS as we navigate the cosmic roundabout that is the Wheel of Samsara. It is the Truth, the Self. That is the “He” who “guides the wheel.” All else is Maya, and that is about as close to duality as my little worldview that I am laying out for you here gets. We are always offered by circumstances the way of dharma, or the way of adharma in any situation. And just as in the Gita, the charioteer is the pull toward the way of dharma. I know there is a pull both ways. But Unity in Brahman is the only possible outcome. But for a while, we go round and round. And that is why this weblog is now sub-titled “Life Upon the Wheel.”

As for the two different references to wheels, that of the Cosmic Unity and that of the Jivan/chariot, you’ll just have to dwell on that. They too, may just not be the “two” that they seem to be. That is in fact the beauty of Hinduism. Though we see things in a wide variety of ways, Truth is to be found in all paths.

As for “He who guides the wheel…” as I said, I think that is a choice we make.

May it always be so.

Aum Hara Aum Hara Sadashiva
Aum Hari Aum Hari Narayana
Aum Shanti, Aum Jaya!

Posted in American Hindus, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Bhagavad-Gita, blogging, Brahman, consciousness, disabilities, Divine Consciousness, dualism, duality, Eastern Philosophy, ego, Gita, God, Hindu Scriptures, Hindu Sects, Hindu Temples, ISKCON, Krishna, Krishna Consciousness, life, Maya, meaning of life, meditation, non-dualism, panentheism, pantheism, philosophy, pluralism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Out Templing with the Wife

by Aranyakananda

I am beginning to suspect my wife is lovely. Last week she and I realized that it was the first weekend in time out of mind that we did not have anything planned. At first my wife said that was great because she wanted to just be home and relax for once. Since her job is infinitely more stressful than mine, I was fine with that. Then, one day, out of the ether as it were, she asked me if I wanted to go visit one of the very few Hindu temples in the state of Minnesota. It was one that we had intended to visit with a couple of friends who visited earlier this month from out of state, but time did not allow. I think my wife recognizes that I sometimes neglect to name the things that I really want, a visit to said temple being one of them. The Sri Venkateshwara (Baliji) temple is about 90 minutes from our home, so when she asked me, I said “Are there other things you want to do in the city?”

She said no.
I was amused and she was further endeared to me by this random loveliness.

So we drove up there, actually taking the opportunity to make further arrangements for a trip we will be taking up there next week. But the main thing was the temple. As she got ready that morning she said “I don’t know what to wear.” To which I responded “You don’t know what to wear? I’m the one going to have darshan with my Ishta-devata!” which gave my wife a giggle and amused me in retrospect, understanding that when one comes before God, less than a single damn is Given about what the devotee is wearing as long as he/she comes with devotion and love.

The Sri Venkateshwara Temple is in Edina, MN and we found it a bit difficult to find via Google map. I think the road it is on is a fairly well-traveled one, but the Temple is a bit tucked away. But we found it. And once we did, even though there was a ramp leading up to the front door, there was a sign which suggested that wheelchair access was to be found around the back of the building. So we did as suggested. Once inside, shoes off, we found the sign which claimed to point to the elevator. Unfortunately this led us down an unending labyrinth of hallways, checking every door we came to thinking the elevator had to be hidden somewhere. We did not find it until we came all the way around to the front part of the building. Turns out had we gone in the front the elevator would have been immediately apparent.

After the very human and therefore obligatory grumbling, we took the elevator upstairs and came into the inner sanctum, and into an immediate state of peace. It is smaller than the Hindu Temple of Minnesota in Maple Grove, which I may write about at a later date. We came to Venkateshwara on a very quiet Sunday morning, and the temple is carpeted so probably much quieter even when there are more than the 4 devotees (counting myself and my wife).

We found Sri Ganesha, I offered many pranams, then began the circumambulation. The Ashta-Lakshmi, the 8 forms of Maa Lakshmi dwell within this temple, which was lovely. And alongside Sri Venkateshwara (w/Bhu-devi and Shri-devi) is a Vishnu murti. And that is the extent of the murtis. As you can see this is a very Vaisnavite temple, which felt like home for me.

After visits and meditations on each one’s presence within this old jivan, my wife and I took a stroll around again because on the walls are mounted golden plates depicting the Dashavatara. So, though we actually went backward, it was still nice to take my wife around and tell her my version of the significance of each avatar. She asked questions, and corrected me when I told her the second avatar was a fish. Anyway I told her later that was my favorite part of the visit, to have that time to explain that part of my religion with her. Could have been in more depth, but I didn’t have time to run down the entire Vishnu Purana.

There were two priests and we did take in a short puja to the deity for which the temple is named just before leaving. The priests were quite friendly and probably having gained a sense for new-comers, the priest allowed me to take aarti then offering the flame to my wife, whispered “do just like he did.” During the few times she has taken puja with me, she generally does just watch what I do, and follow, but it was still nice.

There is no bookstore or gift shop as there is at the Hindu Temple of MN, but they did have a small table with some DVDs, one in particular of the Hanuman Chalisa, which I find to be lovely every time I hear it, and a few copies of Autobiography of a Yogi, which, if you know me, you will know that made the Sri Venkateshwara Temple dear to me straight away.

As my wife and I drove around later trying to plan our route between our hotel and a venue we will be attending next week, I could still taste the water from the puja, and it brought me back to that place of simplicity and Oneness. The difficulty finding the place and in finding the elevator once inside was definitely worth the while. I may visit it again next week, but if not, then some other time for certain.

Okay so this was not really meant to become a “temple review” as there is no sense in such a thing, I think. But I just wanted to give you an account of my thoughts upon the atmosphere.

Jai Hari Aum!

Posted in American Hindus, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, disabilities, Eastern Philosophy, Ganesha, God, guru, Hanuman, Hindu Temples, Hinduism, Kalki Avatar, Krishna, Lakshmi, Lord Hanuman, Lord Rama, meditation, myth, mythology, Narayana, paralysis, Paramahansa Yogananda, poojas, pujas, Rama, religion, Sanatana Dharma, Self-Realization Fellowship, Shakti, Spina bifida, spirituality, Uncategorized, Vaishnavism, Vishnu, Western Hinduism, wheelchair, White Hindus, Yogananda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Would You Rather…

by Aranyakananda

A good friend of mine died in January. From time to time I get to thinking about things he used to say. Little bits of wisdom, whether they appeared as such or just talk. One of the things he used to say when someone expressed their anger at a situation was “Oh well, it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.” Literally meaning it is better to be angry than to be urinated upon.

And I get what he was doing. He was saying whatever just happened could be a LOT worse. Almost anyone would agree that they’d rather the former than the latter. Interestingly this little couplet of my friends’ brings with it a situation wherein the first may very well be the direct result of the second.

From what I have learned in Hinduism, about karma, etc., I am starting to wonder if the above-quoted aphorism was accurate. First and foremost you never want your inner peace to be dictated by outside forces. However the whole point of living a spiritual life is NOT to come to a state wherein you will suffer any disgrace that may befall you. Ahimsa is not about letting the world trample all over you. But there is a proper response for everything. In this case the response to the latter does not have to be anger. And I am certainly not saying that I would rather the latter than the former. BUT I think the misfortune and discomfort of the latter is little compared to what one can do to oneself, to infect one’s immediate environment by allowing oneself to become angry. To allow getting “pissed off” to become a way of life, a conditioned response. Of course there is such a thing as “righteous indignation”, or being “pissed off” for a rightful cause. And I think being defiled in such a way may be one of those times. You don’t just let someone go around doing that in a civilized society.

Something to think about. We all tend to have a mental hierarchy of goodness and badness of all possible things. But Hinduism has turned a lot of my conditioned hierarchies of thought on their head, and this just might be one of them. Depending on how long I think about it.

Shanti, Jaya!

Posted in ahimsa, American Hindus, consciousness, dharma, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, Eastern Philosophy, ego, famous quotes, forgiveness, friends, Gandhi, Hinduism, humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment