by Aranyakananda

In my last post I referred to a moment of clarity and calm which “in retrospect was probably the wisest course of action.”

Not long after I accepted the job offer that I received yesterday, June 25, it was my solemn duty to call one of my current part-time employers to give them my notice. I am going to be out of state for a few work days during the next two weeks, but I intended to make my last day two weeks from today just because the new job begins the following Monday, and I thought I’d give them as much of effort as I could. So I called the supervisor and told her the news, and let her know very clearly that I was perfectly willing to work until July 10 and had no intention of slacking. She said she’d talk it over with the higher-ups and get back to me. Soon after she wrote me and said that my last day would have to be today, June 26. So it was upsetting but not as upsetting as it would have been had I let myself get elated at the new job waiting for me. It’s a fine balance.

Granted, I need some time out of my wheelchair anyway before I start back full-time so it may be for the best. But on some different level it was not what I wanted. I wanted to keep working for one thing to leave them with a good impression, and honor the fact that the former owner (their mother) before she died was my mother’s good friend.  And I did not want to lose out on any wages if I didn’t have to. It is what it is though.

It made me wonder about the nature of “decisions” that we make. I had fully intended to just get some information from the current employer to see for sure whether I wanted to move on, whether the near future there could offer me what I need. I’d accepted the other job just to secure it BEFORE talking to the current employer probably because part of me knew what was about to happen…would happen. Before I knew it I was telling her that I had a new job and was calling to give my notice. Truthfully she figured out that I was trying to suss out the benefit of staying vs. going. She blurted out “Someone snagged you away with full-time didn’t they?” So it goes.

Decisions though. Are they always ours? I strongly feel they are. But what is this “ours” that I just referred to? I think each person has an intellectual side and an emotional side. My emotional side didn’t want to leave that company that way, so soon. My intellectual side knew that my body needs the rest or I’d be no damned good to anyone, and it was worth a short amount of down-time. I think my intellectual side regulated the situation by blurting out that I had a new job offer

So I am not working Monday through Wednesday next week, and then we’re on vacation. After that I’ll be a fully functioning cog in the machine again.

I promise my next post will have nothing to do with employment or income.

Aum Hara Sadashivaya
Aum Namo Narayanaya

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When The Sun Shines…

by Aranyakananda

A strange thing happened yesterday. Okay actually a stunning thing happened yesterday with a very strange result.

If you read my last post, you’ll know that after six months of being under-employed, I got another part-time job to fill the void, and I started last week Thursday. So I’ve had seven work days. Yesterday, the stunning thing that happened was that I got an email from a the other company I work for part time, about a position I interviewed for several weeks ago (and rather poorly, I felt) which said they’d like to extend the offer. A phone call was arranged and I accepted. It is a full-time inside sales position all in one place saving me and my wife a lot of running around, and gaining more income, and a job that I am more confident in, if I’m being honest.

So here’s the strange thing that I originally referred to above. Even when I got the other job I started a week ago, I was relieved and I was happy, but I did not collapse in a heap crying “Thank you, Lord!” or anything. I did conduct my own modest little bhakti ceremony at home, but beyond that, it was just on with business as usual. When I got the email yesterday I was thrilled, but again no major shift in my demeanor. It started to come on, but something stopped it. I remember very specifically yesterday feeling excited that I’d gotten a job with a function, hours, and income that worked for me (the job I started last week was only going to pay me $10 an hour and that probably would have went on for 6 months before any chance of a raise) and all of a sudden the sense of elation that I knew was coming seemed very tedious. I swear something inside of me gave me a wordless lecture in a flash about being unmoved by circumstances. Something asked me why should I go back up when the nature of the world is change and what goes up must come down and all that. It is often forgotten that inner peace, yes, has to do with calm during the storm, but also has to do with avoiding elation when the sun shines. That is not a negative thing. It is healthy. It promotes the ability to have a steady, even-minded response in all circumstances.

So I relaxed, enjoyed the victory with peace of mind rather than the usual fluctuation. Subsequent events have shown me in retrospect that this was the wisest course, as you will read in my next post. Don’t worry it is nothing tragic or devastating.

On a side note, my dear wife has been reading a book called “E-Squared” by Pam Grout which offers “Nine do-it-yourself energy experiments that prove your thoughts create your reality.” The first experiment is meant for the experimenter to prove to herself that “there is a loving, abundant force in the universe.” All you have to do is ask It to reveal Tatself. My wife asked It to do so in the next 48 hours, to reveal to her in such a way that she’d be sure. Now I was not expecting the Lord Vishnu Himself to come, standing before her with the chakra spinning and the mace swinging and all that. But I assumed it would be something that would be a game-changer. And make no mistake, she and I both fully expected that something WOULD happen to make It known to her. She is taking this completely out-of-the-blue job offer as that thing. I think it is just a start to It being revealed to my wife. All in good time, and it has to start somewhere. And we are both well aware that God is much more than a wish-granting comfort machine.

Jai Hari Aum.
Tat Tvam Asi!

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by Aranyakananda

I think in a response to a comment to my last post, I suggested that the next post here would have something to do with the death of Drona in the Mahabharata. Well this is the next one and it’s got nothing to do with Drona. Call it an unintentional untruth. It’s been so long since my last post that I’d forgotten all about that particular stream of thought and probably so has anyone reading this, so I don’t know why I bring it up. Alas.

I just opened a “New Post” in my WordPress account, and went to create a title for it, and when I saw the world “Title” already there in the text box I thought that to be fitting to what I want to say, so why not leave it?

Last Thursday I started a new job. A second part-time job to put my income back to a reasonable facsimile of what it was back in December when the department I was working in closed unceremoniously. But this is not going to be about the Blessed Preservation from Lord Narayana, nor is it in praise of Maa Lakshmi for having reinstated me to a place of a reasonable amount of “wealth”, or at least a living wage. Though both of those sentiments are valid depending on where one is at in this life.

This post is about self-image. My new job is as an appointment setter for the agents at an insurance company. And it is spiritually creamy enough that the company that hired me happens to be the one formerly owned by a very good friend of my mother when that friend was still living. For that reason, I do feel driven to do right by this old friend of my mom’s. But there is more.

My title is “Marketing Manager.” It’s all a blur because I found out on Tuesday that I’d been selected to take this position, and by Thursday at 7:30am I was at my new desk. So I’m the “Marketing Manager.” This is interesting. I have been a supervisor off and on at my other job for years, and at one point for about 2-3 months I was sort of the “manager” of the entire call center there. But I am coming off a 6 month stretch wherein my whole life has been devoted to finding a job to help recover the income I’d lost along with my old job. There were some VERY low times. Some very confusing and frustrating and depressing times. To be honest, I don’t know how much of a “spiritual life” I have after all that focus was spent and wasted in self-pity, disillusionment, and misdirection. I don’t know how to salvage what I’d built previously but I am going to try. Surely writing here will help.

But all of a sudden I am a manager. It is not a stressful job, per se, though I do see hints of how it may become so. But that directly relates to why I find it so interesting. The job itself is interesting, but what I mean is, simply, me having the job in the first place.

Why I find this so interesting is that as a Hindu I try to be mindful not to attach any undue meaning to names and titles or any other conceptual device one might employ to put oneself in a box. American, man, husband, son, paraplegic, manager. They don’t mean much when it comes down to Eternity, and the Eternal Self. And yet there are moments in which they genuinely do mean something to that moment in time in which one finds oneself. The title “Manager” has got me seeing my life in a new way. I have spent most of my adult life feeling a lot younger than I am and not in a good way necessarily. Not that I really felt belittled by the world, though that does happen too as a man with a disability. But there have certainly been times when a job like this working in a professional environment of this caliber seemed beyond my reach. Being “the” marketing “manager” rather than just a faceless member of a team or a call center, has put me in a position of responsibility that is sure to test me – sure to show me more about my current self than I now know.

So, the title “manager” can be of service to me while not ballooning my ego. Its importance really doesn’t have a lot to do with no longer being “faceless” or with “standing out”. And I won’t attach a “sense of purpose to the job.” That is far too maudlin. But it has served to re-motivate me and give me a drive. Without that, one can easily miss the much larger implications of this particular incarnation he finds himself in. So the job is not a sense of purpose unto itself. But possibly a conduit toward self discovery. I have got myself thinking of about many different projects now. I have not had even close to enough time to think about all of them. But I have probably noted here before that one of my swadharmas is to write. I am now thinking of:

– writing a memoir of a disabled man running the rat race in America

-I am considering a book about the various faces of God with my wife and a friend.

-another friend is going to write and produce a one-man play/soliloquy about his experience as a disabled man in the pursuit of romance

– I am even researching starting a business with a friend, a new bus service for the disabled in my community which fills in some considerable gaps in the existing system.

All in all I’d say that is motivation. Purpose is larger though. Something I must regain sight of, through meditation.

I sincerely believe that even inflating the ego a bit wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, in this very particular instance. My self-worth as a husband and income-earner, etcetera, was so entirely deflated for a while there, that it needed inflation just to function, stably. And hey, you need enough ego to get by. Getting out of bed in the morning requires some degree of ego. It’s like I recently told a long-time friend of mine from California, attachment is not always that bad of a thing when you consider that it can be a matter of comfort OR it can be a matter of compulsion. Comfort is the “lesser of two evils” if you want to get serious about it. Certainly this “I need a job” thing teetered on the edge of compulsion. And even as I write this it occurs to me that compulsion really IS “attachment to comfort.” So you’re just going to have to sort that one out.

Toward being able to provide comfort for my wife, the job is important to me. But talks with her and other friends have helped me to recognize how that husband-dharma goes far beyond earning a paycheck. So I am grateful for the opportunity to be reminded of that, as much of a downward spiral the last six months have felt like.

In the end it comes down to recognizing going forward that the Self is not affected by any of the above factors, and the part of me that found it necessary for certain demands to be met, is not in fact that Self.  I must reconnect with That.

Hari Aum Tat Sat

Jai Hara Sadashivaya

Jai Hari Narayanaya

Aum Namo Narayanaya Namaha

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by Aranyakananda

Events have been unfolding in the lives of people around me. Events that have been doing so for longer than I am comfortable admitting. Because I could have probably done something about it over the years had I been stronger of character and known the right course of action to take.

I was like Dhritarashtra, always saying “It is out of my hands. Fate is playing out.” Well I never said that about fate, but I never felt it was my place to step in while seeing a person mad with power bringing his own kingdom to ruins, shall we say, metaphorically.

I won’t go into too much detail about it because though its greatly affected me, it is not for me to say. It is not my life. And it has gotten to a point that it is out of my hands to do something even if I could. I have to wait in order for what is right to unfold. I am effectively in exile from the situation.

I am effectively Yudhishthira, saying be patient, be vigilant for the right time when this person will no longer have mad power over those he’s held captive for so many years.

It is strange how delay and patience can end up feeling like they were the same thing. Inaction. I waited and waited out of fear and uncertainty. Now I wait and wait out of a sense of duty (dharma) toward another person, trusting that they know what they are doing having finally taken personal action.

Oddly, an elder of mine is Duryodhana in this little drama I am describing so vaguely. And I suppose I am a bit of Arjuna too since I came into this long struggle not wanting to fight with loved ones.

Yato dharmastato jayah
Jai Hari Aum
Aum Shankaranarayanaya Namaha!

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by Aranyakananda

I dreamed I was in a large, outdoor courtyard with a concrete floor. I was there because in the concrete I’d had the life story of my grandfather (who died almost two years ago now) engraved. But I wanted to make some changes. Somehow I was able to change what was already carved into the concrete with a special tool, and I was in the middle of doing so.

Only I couldn’t figure out how to say it, so I left it and decided to sit down and do a puja over the tribute. I happened to be carrying a pot of flowers.

Only when I went to do the puja, I realized the flowers had died while I was trying to make the changes in the concrete. So I took the flowers and the soil out and set them aside and I tapped on the edge of the copper pot 3 times as one would ring the ghanta in the temple to wake up the gods. It wouldn’t really ring though.

Just as I did this, about nine men in orange robes came out of the ether into my awareness off to the side on another area of wide open flat concrete. They sat down in a circle and began chanting a long mantra. I left the pot and went and sat down with them.

Hari Aum Shanti.

Posted in American Hindus, bhakti, dharma, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, Eastern Philosophy, gratitude, Hinduism, mantras, Sanatana Dharma, spirituality, Western Hinduism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yes, Master.

by Aranyakananda

Anyone who has been fortunate to find his or her true Satguru in this life will often refer to this person as “Master.” The Master’s word and will becomes as good as Scripture. Master, as in…I don’t know, “overlord.”  But in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, Paramahansa Yogananda gave his own definition of a “master”:

One who has realized himself as the omnipresent soul, not the body or the ego.

There is nothing hierarchical in this definition other than the implied suggestion that others apart from him/her have not realized the same.

But there is more. Not that Yogananda-ji’s definition doesn’t suggest that such a one would tell the truth all of the time. But great gurus have been known to test their students in various ways. Surely they test the student’s ability to suss out untruth from time to time, no? Cross training in recognition of Maya?

The biggest problem with my theory is that it leads to the inevitable conclusion that if 500 devotees read one of Yogananda’s discourses in “Man’s Eternal Quest”, each could decide from him/herself which words are in fact such a test.

And far be it from me to argue with the great Masters: Vivekananda, Yogananda, Ramakrishna, etc. But I try to maintain a healthy level of inquisitiveness toward all words I receive from any of the above listed or other Holy men and women anyway. I first wrote “wariness” instead of “inquisitiveness.” But I changed it because it is not that I don’t believe the Master and the truth he unfolds, but because I know that words do not always come at face value. The meaning could come in the Master having said the words, not in the words themselves.

A great master often employs great subtlety.

Jai Gurudeva Aum

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A Vicious Circle of Feelings and Perceptions and Feelings

by Aranyakananda

I was given the book “Buddhism Without Beliefs” by a friend recently. It is one of those books I had seen many times in Barnes & Noble and considered buying and even flipped through because it is not too big and therefore not too expensive and thought it was just provocative enough to be worth investing in. But I never did, so I was interested in reading it when my friend passed it on to me.

And it was a good read for the most part. Some of it got very dry but it had some nuggets of insight that will likely stick with me.

One of them was about perceptions and feelings. To most people there is probably a subtle difference between the two. Meditation reveals a veritable gulf between things that until then had been a subtle gap.

My perceptions of a person inform my feelings toward that person. The tough part is that my perception can be informed by feelings as well.

Say I have an enemy. You’ll ask me why that person is my enemy. I’ll say because he’s a jerk. You’ll ask what he did that makes me think he’s a jerk. I’ll say he said this or that to me on the bus one morning. Well there you go. I don’t know why he said this or that to me on the bus that morning. I have already let my incomplete perception of the situation paint the full picture. This perception informs my feelings toward this person.

Granted having a bad day is no excuse to say “this or that” to a person and maybe they really were a jerk for that moment. But still I’ve made up my own set of circumstances beyond the fact of that person’s external response toward me that day on the bus. So not only have I possibly perceived wrong, but whatever his reaction was toward me, whatever it made me feel colored those perceptions. Which, as I said color my feelings toward that person as a “jerk” today.

The question is where does this all start? What is the beginning of this seemingly never ending cycle. This wheel. And it’s not necessarily a linear set of causes and effects that goes back to the “beginning of time” whatever that is. It is more about uncovering hidden fears, and prejudices within you.  We all have a personal myth we’ve created. So it does require some meaningful, honest meditation on the lower self, the personality.

So it’s all about “blame yourself first” then, right? Maybe. Maybe “blame” is not the right word, depending on the situation. “Discover” or “study” is probably better. All I can blame the other guy for is the look on his face. It was my interpretation that caused me to think he was a jerk.

Hari Aum Shanti

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