Lotus Feet

Probably 4 years ago I found a ceramic Krishna murti in a second-hand store. I took it home and it has ever since had a central place on my home mandir. Some time later I found it laying down for no apparent reason and upon further examination found that the feet – Bhagavan Krishna’s Lotus Feet! – had broken off.

I glued it back together and put it back where it belonged. And by “where it belonged” I mean right back where it was on my mandir. From time to time I come across a passage in this book or that one about the taboo of worshiping through a murti that is damaged. I even Googled and asked around a bit on proper procedure for giving a broken murti a water burial. All I was able to find is that it really should be a river rather than a pond or lake. I suppose that has to do with the river, symbolically merging with the Oneness that is representative of the Ocean.

Fine. But I wasn’t able to find anything on the actual burial. Sometimes I still find it difficult to find specifics like that living in the U.S.A. Are there mantras that should be uttered beforehand or after? Is there a Sanskrit word for this “ceremony” if there even is a “ceremony” for it beyond the dropping of the now-vacated statuary into the water? That it itself would have been most helpful in finding more information, I am sure. But nothing.

The ceramic Krishna murti has held up since the one incident. And though my life has had ups and downs since, I certainly see no reason to attribute them to the worship through this damaged murti. Surely my sadhana has not been empty. And for that matter, let’s go back to what I said in the last paragraph about how the statue was “now-vacated”. I am not even sure that is true just because it was damaged. For one thing I am sure that a crack does not result in all of the godstuff falling out of it. For another thing, I am sure that a murti, when it comes down to it, little more than a focal point. It contains no more godstuff than the copy of “The Gospel of Ramakrishna sitting to my left as I write this. God is where you find it.

If you tear up a $100 bill and then tape it back together it is still worth $100. And I once read that there is a baseball card from 1909, the Honus Wagner card that could be thrown into the street and run over by a car and it would still be worth more than that car. I am getting off topic and I hate to use such analogies in relation to the murti, but I insist that if God has just once been invited to be present during sadhana that included this murti, and the murti subsequently turned to dust, that pile of dust would be every bit as sacred as it was while in the form of the Gopāla.

Currently I plan to leave the murti where it is.

Jai Sri Krishna!



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“Through him, She…”

I am finally reading the “Gospel of Ramakrishna” which I picked up over the summer. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a Sanatana Dharmist in the truest sense I can think of. He tested every path for himself: From Daulism to Advaita, from Shaktism to Vaisnavism, to Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism, to Islam and Christianity.Without delving into flat out pluralism or polytheism.

He found that all paths lead him back to Brahman. In worshiping God as Master (worshiping Rama through the eyes of faithful servant Hanuman), Father, Mother and Lover he found that all paths led back to the formless, attribute-less, undefinable Oneness, Brahman.

I recall that in my previous experience as a Christian I’d often hear folks say “Through Him, I” did this or that, meaning by the Grace of God, or in Jesus’ Name, they were able to do something. The account uses phrasing in relation to Ramakrishna’s samadhi with Maa Kali that caught my attention:

“Through him, She…”

In other words, through this frail quiet man then called Ghadadar, Maa Kali worked. Depending on the philosophy of those you associate with you will hear Hindus say we humans “do” nothing. And sometimes you will hear others say that God “does” nothing, that God is the Supremely Aloof Allness. Usually that refers to Brahman. But God, in this case Kali, is not Brahman, but an active (shakti) manifestation of That. It “does”. We do not. I guess that adds up for me. We act because we have to. It is a part of the dharma that makes the world go ’round, ya know? But we do not “do” or at least should not think of ourselves as “doing.”

Some people do not like the idea that we are “an instrument of God” but I view it as a helpful mindset to keep ego at bay. Other than that – and with all gender pronouns being understood as equal – both “Through Him, I…” and “Through him, She” suggest some individual divine favor. It’s a close race and between the two I can’t rightly say which suggests it more. If anything I can say that “Through him, She” is less dualist, but almost not even noticeably so. But their is definitely something refreshing about reading the phrasing with all of the Glory given over to Maa Kali.

Jai Maa!

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The Quantum Album: 4. Live Die Repeat

I watched the Tom Cruise action flick “Live Die Repeat” with my wife this weekend which doesn’t have a thing to do with the Quantum Physics theme of the last few posts, but it sort of set of a chain of thoughts and conversations that tie it back to the series I’ve been doing.

From the very beginning of the movie -even before, having read the synopsis- I was preparing myself to pay close attention to what was going on in this film, knowing that it had ties to rebirth and all that Hinduey stuff. The movie surrounds the plight of Cruise’s character who is a pencil-pushing desk-jockey high-ranking officer of the U.S. military who thinks he’s above actually getting his hands dirty in the war that is going on, but is unwittingly sent to the battlefield. It’s complicated but one way or another he finds that when he dies he is sent back to the same office where this whole mess began for him. He has to go back in to die in the battle again and again, each time gaining a seed of knowledge that can help him in his next go-round. It is basically “Groundhog Day” but with guns and explosions.

So obviously I latched onto this and in my in-movie chit-chat with my wife, we both branded it as a “Hindu movie”. Later two other people came into the picture who were the Cruise character’s advisers along the way, and eventually his entire platoon gets on-board with whatever it was that he was trying to accomplish. Honestly I should have watched it again before writing this but alas the DVD had to go back to the public library. I am sure that if I watched it closely enough I could force each character into the roles similar to the Pandavas of the Gita, which were themselves allegories of certain character traits common to every jivan. There were entities known as the Alpha and the Omega which at first seemed like they could have been Atman and Brahman.

I am sure I could have done that. But that is my point. The whole thing got a little hazy for me when I lost track of what was happening in the film because I was trying to figure out exactly who or what everything represented from a Hindu angle. But then it dawned on me. “Maybe it doesn’t represent anything that has anything to do with Hinduism. Maybe it’s all in my head.”

The very general Hindu themes were definitely there, anyone would agree that Cruise’s character was in a sense “reincarnating”. And many would argue that each time we take a new body there is a -however subtle- residue of understanding that we picked up last time around that helps us to gain a good head start this time. Some might say that is what instinct is. An impression from previous lives. And again maybe there was more there had I watched it more closely. Doesn’t matter. Anyone from any spiritual angle could do the same with any movie I suppose, and there was probably more in “Live Die Repeat” that speaks to the Hindu than there is that speaks to the Catholic, say. But nonetheless it was that realization that it was all illusory that was a bit embarrassing but also a bit of a breakthrough.

Just the other day I had another conversation with another American Hindu friend of mine who is currently pursuing a degree in physics. And without having read my recent bloggings, our conversation led him to some fairly harsh words for those who try at all costs to “spiritualize” natural phenomena. I maintain that one could argue that everything can be spiritualized. He argued that if one does that, you have to take pantheism to such lengths as to make the equations (by which we come to understand phenomena) God. Which I still don’t see a problem with, quite frankly. And I am a firm believer that one should take inspiration from where you find it.

At any rate, what it comes down to is this: I am not in any way an expert or authority figure on the subject of quantum physics, or any other subject for that matter. But people are going to see what they want to see in any situation, depending on what angle they are looking at it from. The trouble for me is that, yes, if you really don’t understand quantum physics and you latch onto some aspect of it and make it evidence to back up whatever point of view you have toward the Holy Infinite or whatever you want to call it, you might miss the point and do a disservice to what quantum physics really does tell us.

Whatever the hell that is.

And we all know there is enough misinformation out there on any number of topics.

Also you might miss what would otherwise be just a really great movie that isn’t really an allegory at all. Then again, who’s to say a movie isn’t an allegory just because the writer did not intend it to be? What is the standard by which we say whether your truth is or is not true, relative to mine?

asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya
Aum shanti shanti shanti.

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The Quantum Album: 3: Timespace of the Subatomic Flea

One of the more – oh I don’t know – mystical elements of Quantum Physics is the idea that “time” is a “dimension” just like the three others we are familiar with. And this doesn’t really relate a lot to Hinduism other than it serves to bridge the gap between what would otherwise be a very dualistic “time AND space”.

My mind has connected time and space for me through an odd little quirk which I am not sure how to explain in words but I’m going to have a go at it anyway.

When reading things of the universe, I usually have no trouble at least forming an idea of a unit of time or distance times a thousand, or times a million or a billion, etc.

But when you go the other way around, when you start talking about a nanosecond, or one second x -1,000,000 or whatever it is, I can’t fathom such a small unit of time. It’s that proximity to the finite zero that I have trouble with. One second alone goes by in such a snap that one-millionth of that time is just…un-experience-ably brief.

But here is where it gets weird. Whenever I read about such a unit of time, something at some point kicks in, and automatically my brain causes me to imagine myself as a subatomic micro-organism. In that micro-size (in other words, the amount of space occupied) I am able to imagine what that one-millionth of a second feels like. It is only in bringing myself down to the ground floor of being, in the dimension of space (size), that I can begin to know what the same would be like in the dimension of time.

Approaching what you thought was absolute zero, time reveals itself as infinite in both directions. If you keep splitting a mustard seed in half and had the tools to continuously do so, you would never get down to nothing, you’d just keep getting half of what you had before. The same is true with a unit of time. Stillness, Oneness, Peace, is at absolute zero. But how do we get there if we can divide the “moment” infinitely? I think the answer has to do with the expression “center nowhere, circumference everywhere.” I know, I know, in Eastern philosophy the “center” is supposed to be the goal, but if you aspire toward the circumference, the all-in-all in every moment…that is Aum.

I am suspicious whether this “perception of the nano-second as a bug” thing has anything to do with the relativity of lifespan. As a human being I have the instinctive knowledge of what my life expectancy is, roughly. And therefore the shorter the amount of time, the less important it seems in the “grand scheme” of a lifetime. Sometimes humans let hours, days, years fly by without a second thought of how we are spending them. If we lived a trillion years would a month be just as imperceptible or unimportant? I am not trying to suggest I am somehow channeling the experience of a subatomic flea or something. But if you take yourself out of your body and adjust the entire experiential paradigm under which you are programmed to think, things can shift drastically.

Aham Brahmasmi
Tat Tvamasi



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The Quantum Album: 2. Live Metal

Coming from a Catholic background it is hard to conceptualize the Great Beyond as not a place where “I” go when “I” die and “I” enjoy everything “I” enjoyed in life forever and ever amen, etc. Over the years I have gotten really good at it though, to a point where the scenario I’ve just described actually reads very foreign as I read it back to myself.

What really complicated it was when another idea was chucked into the mix. That everything is Brahman. Certainly not just people, not even just people and animals, and not just people, animals or plants either. Rocks! Rocks and other elements are Brahman! That stumped me for a while because I thought “rocks are nothing but dead plant material. Plants have at least some level of consciousness. Rocks don’t.  They certainly don’t transmigrate. The plants themselves die and the physical makeup of the plant becomes the rock after a billion years or so. But the Brahman-stuff, the life force within it, goes away and comes back as a….squirrel and then when he dies the life force goes away and comes back as a  lion and then a guy like me, etcetera etcetera ad infinitum amen as it were.”

But rocks, and all elements, all precious metals and whatnot, are all made up of “life” on a cellular level. A lump of iron is teeming with subatomic particles which, even though they are 99.9999999999996% empty space, are “alive”. If they stopped functioning as we’ve grown accustomed to them functioning, as little as we really know about how the hell quantum physics really works, every inanimate object would fall into a zillion pieces and cease to “be” whatever it is. There is dharma in being a damn rock!

Not that Brahman has to be a living thing, in retrospect, but it just helps to visualize when you can think of it as something that is “alive” and therefore floating down the stream toward Moksha. And anyway if you subscribe to the “We are all stardust” theory, we are all made up of the same elemental junk that the rocks are made up of anyway.

I don’t know. Maybe that is just me.

Aham Brahmasmi
Tat Tvamasi

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The Quantum Album: 1. Layers

In the near future, a series of posts will be titled similarly to this one. This is to indicate that they are intended as part of a “series” all inspired by reading I’ve done and meditation I have done on the subject of quantum physics. Consider this Track 1 from The Quantum Album.

Sometimes I sit back and watch the wind sweep by and I realize that with every gust, the earth in front of me is being altered if only on a most undetectable scale. Or I watch the rain come pouring down, and notice how the mud is flowing out of the grass into the street. And again I know the world is not the same as it was. The same plot of land is ever changing.

Or I notice how with every round of training groups we recruit at my office, by the end of the project most of them are gone but some of them stay on and become a long-term member of the team, while over time others leave. Employees retire or pass away, and others take their seats, or move away from their usual seat because of a technical issue at their station, and they decide they like it at the new place so that becomes their seat. Old pictures come off the walls and are replaced by new ones. While that is going on, the walls are repainted. Sometimes the office just gets a new vending machine, or various options in the old vending machine are updated. The company goes by the same name but it is ever changing

Or I notice that in the decade my wife and I have been in this town, the population has risen from about 95,000 to 107,000 and is expected to double in the next generation due to medical facilities being developed at this very moment. Along with these facilities is a string of senior living apartments, general population apartments, grocery stores, convenience stores, and all manner of other signs of a burgeoning civilization popping up like pimples on a teenager. Old buildings are coming down and new ones are coming up, or new businesses are replacing old ones in the same old building. The reach of the city limits is expanding but the face of that which has always been this city is evolving every day it seems. It goes by the same name but it is ever changing.

In every case layers of history are being added all of the time. Impermanence is everywhere. The dance of Shiva is played out in every moment.

And then I think about an amazing fact that I learned a while back – that over a certain period of time every cell in a person’s body dies and is replaced so that from one point in time to another your body is made up of an entirely new set of cells. And yet you are the same person.

Quantum physics is a subject I have become very interested in over the years. I don’t know how any Hindu could not be. There is a theory in quantum physics called the Holographic Principle which I am sure I have written about in passing at some point. The theory goes, in short, that the observable universe is not necessarily (but maybe) an illusion, but a hologram. Just as how in a hologram multiple to myriad bits of information are held within a small space, the holographic principle of quantum physics seems to be saying that the cause and the effect, the past and the future are all held within the moment. I find that in observing the changing physical and societal world around me in these ways, I am able to contemplate timelessness and changelessness.

Aham Brahmasmi

Tat Tvamasi




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A Short Rant on Vegetarianism

noun: vegetarian; plural noun: vegetarians
  1. 1.
    a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.
noun: meat; plural noun: meats
  1. 1.
    the flesh of an animal as food.
noun: animal; plural noun: animals
  1. 1.
    a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli.
noun: fish; plural noun: fish; plural noun: fishes
  1. 1.
    a limbless cold-blooded vertebrate animal with gills and fins and living wholly in water.

Bearing the preceding string of definitions in mind, can anyone explain to me why people continue to ask vegetarians why we don’t eat fish? Yeah, I get it, “fish is seafood” but they are animals.  I have actually had to explain to some folks that the whole purpose of being a vegetarian is to not eat animals. I am not writing this post to put vegetarians on a pedestal or to denounce meat-eating in any way. I just never cease to be baffled as to the source of the cognitive dissonance about vegetarians eating fish.


Aham Brahmasmi
Tat Tvamasi Aum.


Posted in ahimsa, American Hindus, Eastern Philosophy, editorial, Hinduism, minorities, philosophy, religion, Sanatana Dharma, social commentary, spirituality, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Vegetarianism, Western Hinduism, yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments