The Blame Game

by Aranyakananda

I find opportunity to shore up my own understanding of what I stand for in some of the oddest places. Often it is in my interactions with people, and making mental note of who I most identified with while observing a disagreement. Even something as banal as a LIKE on Facebook tells me a lot about my personality. Just last week it was just such a situation where I discovered a bit of what I considered to be a potential “contradiction in my worldview” as I reported to a friend. It sort of upset me. Let me break it down for you.

I’ve come to take it for granted that for all misfortune that befalls me, I need look no further than myself as to the cause. That may sound drastic and a little too simplistic, but I mean it in a “grand scale” kind of way. Karma, transmigration, and all that, you know. Often with the quotes of various gurus and philosophers that I post onto Facebook, I try to gently make others aware of this possibility, a possibility which I take as fact but understanding that others don’t. I do so because I honestly believe that it is an outlook that can vastly improve a person’s quality of life. The idea that I can improve myself, improve my future, improve my world even, by my actions NOW. That no one but me can do so. And that every one else can do the same, for themselves. One day last week I had just finished posting at least a couple of things which pointed to this Cosmic Truth, one of which was a quote from Teddy Roosevelt to the effect that if you spent your life kicking the people responsible for your woes you’d end up with a mighty sore backside. Then I saw another post from a Conservative family member which kind of threw me a curve ball. And I recognized it fairly quickly. It read thusly:

“Why is our government so willing to help illegal minors when so many of our own children are homeless and need help?”

Never mind the “our own” nonsense, if you would. My knee-jerk Liberal response was something like:

“Because according to some people, it is their fault that they are homeless.”

I said “something like” this because I don’t know what I actually typed. Because I later took it down. Because it went in direct opposition, seemingly with my other posts on my own timeline. Surely one can re-post a “quote” without it being his own point of view. It could merely be a conversation starter. I rarely do that unless I make it obvious by attaching a snide comment of my own. I did not do this with the quotes about personal responsibility because I meant them. There is too much complaining and blaming in the world, I think.

I took some time to consider it. Some may say “rationalizing” the contradiction. But I felt there must have been a reason it happened. And I honestly came to believe that both could be true. Because one mentions fault, the other mentions responsibility, you’ll note. I said I hold reincarnation and karma as fact, but I am reasonable enough to know you can’t prove them, and certainly not the details of a past life which led to this one. Therefore, going back to the post from my Conservative cousin, though some people are indeed homeless due to very poor decisions in this life, not all homeless people can be said to be at “fault”, even if it is karmic reflux. In this life, that is not their “fault”. I am well aware that there are societal forces at work against many people in this world. But I am not going to get political here.

No matter what, our current circumstances are ALWAYS our own “responsibility”, hence the Roosevelt quote. I like to take “responsible” to literally means “able to respond” and that is what I try to do. Respond to my circumstances in the most reasonable way I am “able” to. Not react. Respond. It is not my “fault” I am a paraplegic, but it is my responsibility to do with this life what I am able, for example.

Too simplistic? Convoluted reasoning? Rationalization for contradictory spirituality vs. politics? We may never know.

Aum Shankaranarayanaya Namaha
Jai Hari Aum

Posted in American Hindus, blogging, consciousness, Conservative, current events, dharma, Eastern Philosophy, Facebook, guru, Hinduism, inspiration, karma, Liberal, life, meaning of life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Second Chance

by Aranyakananda

I never push my way of devotion or any other religious practice on anyone. But I do try to keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities to help. By this I don’t mean I will go up to someone and say “you look like you need my spiritual advice.” But I try to NOT be aloof to people who are in their own way asking for help. I think it goes back to a few years back when my cousin asked me for a good Nhat Thich Hanh book. Not being a Buddhist, I was familiar with his name but not his work. I don’t know if it was one of those “I’m a Hindu, which is not the same thing as a Buddhist, come on!” kind of things or if I was just taken aback at being asked my opinion, but I think my response to the request was a little bit..well aloof. My cousin later died. I don’t harbor guilt but I do know I could have been more helpful. Even if just finding out why she was looking into the subject, and maybe offering information on an author that I did know more about, knowing full well and making it perfectly clear that I am no expert.

Last week a co-worker noted a book I was reading, “The Science of Being and the Art of Living” by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She asked me if it was good an whether I could recommend any books about how and why to meditate. Though three years removed from my cousin’s death, I immediately recognized this as an opportunity to help. I responded with a resounding yes. I was also pleased that she asked if yoga and meditation were the same thing. I immediately sent her an email explaining that some of the books I may recommend would include a heavy element of specific spirituality, namely Hinduism, but that it was in no way my intention to impose my beliefs upon her. She understood. It was nice that though a Christian, she was interested in taking a look at the Essential Self from a pluralist point of view. Hopefully she will see yoga as a science which is applicable to anyone, its principles universally applicable.

Upon examining my own bookshelf that night, I recognized that I had pretty much no books on how to meditate but rather books that gave the reader things to meditate upon which would of course have them meditating before they really had to worry about how to do it. I never coul bother much myself with books on how to meditate, or guided meditations, as it were. It is entirely experiential and I found that reading about what you should be experiencing and then running along and trying to create that feeling was pointless.

Anyway, I took a copy of “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle to this person. Because two people I know have already told me verbatim that it “changed my life”. Though I don’t know that it did that for me, it was a book of incredible depth yet I followed every word. That is a big deal, trust me. And it is a book that is probably the most universal of any on the subject, lacking the “vocabulary words” associated directly with Hinduism that many of my books contain. And, as I discussed above, it was a book that gives the reader plenty to meditate on. It didn’t tell me to, it just had me doing so automatically.

The rest is up to the person I lent the book to, but of the books I own I thought “A New Earth” was the one that gave my friend the best opportunity to see her life in a new light. Because there are thousands of books out there that tell you how to meditate and defining the meditative experience that don’t open up a single door for the yogi. Again that responsibility rests on the shoulders of the reader in the long run. But Tolle does an incredible job of guiding the reader without telling them what to see or what they should be experiencing.

Incidentally, what are your favorite books on How To Meditate or Why To Meditate?

Aum Hara Sadashivaya
Aum Hari Narayanaya.

Posted in American Hindus, books, consciousness, current events, dharma, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, Eastern Philosophy, Hinduism, inspiration, meaning of life, meditation, philosophy, pluralism, religion, science, self help, self-realization, social commentary, spirituality, Uncategorized, Western Hinduism, work, yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in agnosticism, agnostics, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Bhagavad-Gita, book review, books, Brahman, consciousness, Creation, current events, detachment, dualism, duality, Eastern Philosophy, ego, Gita, God, Hinduism, Ishvara, Krishna, Krishna Consciousness, life, meditation, Narayana, New Age, New Thought, non-dualism, opinion, Paramahansa Yogananda, philosophy, physics, quantum physics, quotes, reincarnation, sci-fi, science, science fiction, spirituality, Swami Kriyananda, Uncategorized, Western Hinduism, yoga, Yoga Sutras, Yogananda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reflections

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 , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments