Examination

From time to time I am prompted by events to begin a post by noting that my wife is a straight-up yogini. This is one of them.

Last night I came home from work having had a bit of a frustrating time only to be confronted by another annoying situation that we weren’t expecting. And truth be told, over the last 3 days or so, it seems karma has been coming ’round little annoying bits at a time, and steadily. Sometimes you remember to embrace that, and sometimes you don’t. Last night was one of those times when I was not embracing it. I always keep it in check  but I was still visibly grumpy evidently. So whether I was indeed keeping it in check is debatable, I guess. My wife recognized it anyway.

The reason she’s a straight-up yogini this time is that everyone knows that when someone is pissed off, you’re supposed to say “What is your problem?” to which the person with the issue is supposed to respond by getting all angry because the other person called them on being angry.

But a yogini never does what she is supposed to do.

Instead she said “Why are you moody?”

I said “I don’t know” and went to be alone for a bit.

As I lay there in our bedroom, alone, her question resonated in my head. I couldn’t help but wonder whether I had in the brief moments since it happened, invented the softness in her voice as she asked me “Why are you moody?” But there was more. It was a softness but the words were perfectly chosen. She didn’t make me a “bad guy” for having this experience. She was inviting me to examine, from a observer’s point-of-view what was going on in my mind. To consider what unfulfilled attachments had led me to express myself grumpily. She did say “why are YOU moody?” but that is fine because one does have to take responsibility for his response to the day’s events. But in the end she was just asking me to figure out what outside events caused that moodiness.

I slept it off. You are allowed to do that, you know. But make sure that isn’t the full solution. First – or after, it doesn’t matter – you have to figure out what flustered you so that the best immediate response was unconsciousness.

Jai Maa.

 

 

Posted in ahimsa, American Hindus, anger management, consciousness, delusion, detachment, dharma, duality, Eastern Philosophy, emotion, feelings, gratitude, gunas, Hinduism, inspiration, karma, life, love, marriage, meditation, peace movements, philosophy, Sanatana Dharma, self help, self-realization, social commentary, spirituality, the self, Uncategorized, Western Hinduism, yoga, yogis | 4 Comments

On Loving Your Own (Religion) First

I attended Sathyanarayana puja a few nights back, which was held at our temple as a sort of “opening ceremonies” for Holi. For most of the puja, there was no one in the temple aside from the priest, his daughter, me and then about 45 minutes in this older Indian man who bore a remarkable resemblance to A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada from the side at which I sat.

Just an observation.

Then during puja there was a bit of a delay and the priest and this man got to making some small talk in one of the languages of India which I do not understand. I am not sure how they got from the verses before the delay, to what happened next, but after a few minutes, the not-priest was saying something like “Love your own culture, accept other cultures.”

He and the priest shot back and forth different versions of that same sentiment and finally came to “Love your own culture first, and then others.”I like this because it eliminated the idea of accepting which to me is very close to “tolerating” which is really just putting up with something, which doesn’t really do anyone any good.

By this time the priest was trying to engage me in the debate. I said something like “Makes sense to me.” but what I was really thinking was that no matter how you slice that aphorism it seems like a bit of “us and them” at play. What I wish I’d said was that while I did in fact accept my “own” culture (or in this case religion) first, it did not give me what I was looking for. Or I wouldn’t have been there at that moment.

Of course I tried not to be paranoid and think that it stemmed from “What is this European-American bloke doing here?” To be honest I don’t know the content of the verses that the priest had been reciting just before. It could have somehow sparked such a conversation, but I think it would probably be a stretch. But that is my hangup. Ultimately what I get out of the experience is my responsibility.

Whatever the context, there is a good lesson in the aphorism. Though any culture might take a look at what is going on within that culture in terms of accepting their “own” at the expense of accepting others, there is more. We are all born into a world, a culture, a religion, a locality and a family that is appropriate to our karmic situation “coming in.” I don’t know if we have much choice but to love it first. You can’t find what works for you until you know what doesn’t work for you, right? And you have to at least embrace whatever that first stop is in order to find out that it doesn’t work. What I want people to take away from this is that if you are going to “accept” anything, you have to accept and embrace what feels right to you. No matter what the culture barriers are.

Aum Namo Narayanaya Namaha!

Posted in abhishekam, American Hindus, avatars, Avatars of Vishnu, Bhaktivedanta, Comparitive Religion, current events, darshan, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, Eastern Philosophy, ego, Festival of Colors, Hindu Festivals, Hindu Sects, Hindu Temple, Hindu Temples, Hinduism, Hinduism in America, Holi, holidays, Indian culture, minorities, philosophy, pluralism, poojas, puja, pujas, religion, religious conversion, Sanatana Dharma, satsang, social commentary, spirituality, Uncategorized, Vishnu | 1 Comment

This Sentence is False.

You know that paradox where you start with the statement “This sentence is false”? And if it IS false, then it has to be true? But if it is true, then that makes it false again?

Hinduism says that all paths are equally valid. One of those paths is Christianity. Christianity says that Christ is the only way. Both play an equal role in the paradox as each precludes the other. The only difference is that Christianity precludes Hinduism straight off the bat, whereas Hinduism embraces Christianity into the fray but then Christianity excludes itself, immediately.

This problem – this oversimplification, if I’m honest – itself stems from another paradox. Because really the verse from Hindu Scripture where we get the idea that all paths are equal – “truth is one, the sages call it by many names” – refers to the path, the experience, the practice. Not the dogma. Not what it says in scripture. Which, again, is where we got the idea that “truth is one, the sages call it by many names” in the first place.

But of course even that isn’t the end of it. Because you see, that scripture is Śruti, or “that which is heard.” In short it is scripture that comes from direct meditative experience of the masters. Whereas other Hindu scriptures are Smrti, or “that which is remembered” which when it comes down to it, consists of commentary on the Śruti texts.

So “truth is one..” is not at its root, scriptural, but a self-referential truth.

But even so, in a world of dogmatic distinctions dividing the faiths, Hindus and Christians have been playing a game of “This Sentence is False” for roughly 2,000 years.

Aum Namo Nrsimhaya Namaha!

Posted in Christ, Christianity, Comparitive Religion, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, duality, Hindu Scriptures, Hinduism, History, meaning of life, meditation, New Testament, opinion, philosophy, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

This and That and This and That and This and That.

Last weekend I once again had the opportunity to have darshan with my current guru-ji Swami Vidyadishananda, via a live feed. Anyone who says that it is not the same as being in the physical presence of the guru…may be onto something, granted. Maybe. I mean what is “presence” when it comes down to it? Anyway, at the end of his discourse he always offers arati to this “virtual mela” and though I cannot smell the smoke, and cannot actually hold my hands over the flame and waft it over my person, press its warmth to my face, I still experience the arati in a way that is just as “real” as when it is taken in temple.

Swami V is a very (anything I say here will be a tremendous understatement) character. I’ve known it ever since one of the first times I saw him via webcast. I have yet to have physical darshan with him, but like I said, what is “presence” when it comes down to it? In any case I have experienced enough with him to hold me. At the end of the talk a strange swirl of light that I couldn’t explain seem to play upon his face. Not the first time. It always seems that when things like that happen there is a glint of awareness in his eyes. Kind of a “I know that you know” sort of connection. Most of you wont know what I am on about right now, and one might say “It’s just a light. Don’t get too hung up on what may be just siddhi.” True. And maybe that is the message whenever I feel this eye-to-eye connection with the Swami. “See this? Ignore it.”

It is tough though, seeing him only online, because much like reading a book on a mobile device affords the would-be reader the temptation to drift off or distract oneself online with something else that comes to mind, the same CAN happen when you are watching a discourse online. Perhaps that speaks volumes of the devotee’s dedication to the subject. Fair enough. And I don’t mean to compare one’s guru to the latest entry in the Oprah Book Club. But attention is attention. Something we all lack from time to time.

While listening to the Swami I found myself looking for an email from a friend, and had to replay various segments of the discourse. I found myself upset with my lack of focus, questioning what I was getting out of this talk that the Swami had offered for my betterment, if I wanted it. It is there for the taking. It is not being, and will not be spoon-fed to me. Just as I began to examine the source of my monkey-mind, the Swami said something about how we are continually shifting from one focus to another, pin-balling back and forth “from this and that and this and that and this and that.” Yeah…I don’t know the remedy for that distraction, but I think that in mere recognition of it, we disarm it somewhat. Recognition is awareness. Awareness breeds focus, eventually bringing you back to where you were before the monkey-mind began carrying on.

Aum Hara Aum Hara Sadashivaya
Aum Hari Aum Hari Narayanaya!

 

Posted in darshan, guru, live feed, Swami V, Swami Vidyadhishananda, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Car Parts

For a short time I worked in the office at a car dealership. I would receive inquiries from prospective car buyers either asking to set up an appointment for a test drive or asking questions about current stock, or about the various models and their options. I learned that there were a plethora of spare parts that could be added to or removed from the basic model of the, let’s say 2016 AMC Gremlin so I don’t sound like this is a sales pitch because who the hell would want to sell you one of those? But no matter the option package – the trim level as we said in the biz – all versions of it were still the AMC Gremlin. I underwent such an extensive “training” regiment upon hire there that I learned all of different types of spoilers and interior materials and exterior colors, security features, technology packages, etcetera ad infinitum, that I quite naturally began to think about the concept of “Neti, neti.” Obviously, right?

For those who don’t know, “Neti, neti” basically means “not this, not that” and it refers to a meditative technique in which one takes an internal stock of all of the different labels one puts on one self. One by one, the person recognizes that they are not in fact any of those things. I am not a husband, not an employee, not a writer, not a paraplegic, not a Hindu, not a human, not my body, not my thoughts, not my emotions, not my breath, and on and on like that till you get down to the deepest darkest regions within the Self.

So that’s what I was thinking about when I was numbing my mind, examining all of the things that make a specific vehicle what it is. I’ve already said the color of the paint and the texture of the seats don’t make it what it is. Whether it has bluetooth technology doesn’t make it what it is, and whether or not it can alert you to the fact that you are about to drift out of your lane doesn’t make it what it is either. I believe that those last two things probably come standard on certain models of vehicles, but that’s beside the point. It made me think, if you started to replace its parts with other cars’ parts, at what point does it cease to be a Gremlin? If you remove all of the doors and replace them with the doors of Dodge is it still a Gremlin? If you replace the seats with the seats from a Camero, replace the CD player and all the gadgetry with other stuff is it still a Gremlin? I would argue that yes it is. I mean eventually you’re going to remove something that is supposed to be standard on a Gremlin using specific Gremlin technology and someone’s going to call bullshit, I suppose, but you could say “Okay so it’s a Gremlin with the  _______ missing, big deal?” As I came to understand it, the factor that is truly essential to its Gremlin-hood is the engine.  You could equivocate the different features I rattled off with the “the personality” of the individual, and that would work in this little scheme I am developing here. But then what is the engine?

The heart?
The mind?
The soul?

Anything that comes to mind is a characteristic of the individual. Nothing that is all-encompassing as Brahman. Unless you consider the spark that makes all engines go, regardless of which assembly-line it came from. You can’t tell a Nissan spark from a Ford spark, or what have you. Spark plugs maybe, but I didn’t look that far into it. I do know that a spark is a spark is a spark though, and we wouldn’t even be considering watching Despicable Me in the back seat while checking your email with a soda in one of 16 cup holders were there not a spark.

Aham Brahmasmi
Tat Tvamasi

 

Posted in Brahman, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leading By Following

I am hard-pressed to related this to Hinduism but here it is anyway.

Since I haven’t written anything in forever, another blogger threatened to stop blogging as well. I don’t tell you this out of a sense of pride I derived from the idea that my idleness could bring down a giant in my personal blogging world. I tell you this because it led to a funny little interaction whereby I asked if it was because he was a follower. He said that was the best way to lead. I then told him that I was becoming an Evangelical Republican, which if you know me, is absurd. He said that if that was the case then he’d be happy to, as a follower, lead me astray (from that path).

A goofy little exchange on the surface, but as often is the case with this fellow blogger, it later struck me that there was more to it. I’m not kidding, this kind of stuff bounces around in my brain when I am trying to sleep. Surely he knew what he was talking about, but I decided that to lead by following could mean one of, or all of, or any combination of three things.

  • by espousing a prevalent attitude, we can lead others to adopt similar attitudes, sometimes without knowing that we’re doing it, other times fully aware that we are doing it.
  • reinforcing a person’s behavior by encouraging or simply tolerating it, thereby making them feel that they are on the right track. And kind of a macrocosm of this,
  • influencing a leader’s leadership by following and reinforcing the idea that said leadership is what is needed and wanted at the time.

The first bullet-point above is actually quite powerful in our time, when people are getting most of their news, accurate or otherwise, from social media – where “followers” happens to be a buzzword. Call it ‘meme mentality’. Opinions on issues like Monsanto, the anti-vaccination movement, and many other hefty issues of our day spread like viruses through social media. And they feed off of the uninformed LIKE and SHARE. How I come down on these issues is irrelevant, and not everyone who shares easy-to-digest images on these subjects on social media are uninformed. But by sharing – doing what the memes tell us to do – we are following. Two becomes a group, a group becomes a community and a community becomes a movement.

At this time is when bullet-point #3 comes in. I am just going to go ahead and skip #2 because as I said it kind of works in the same way.

Being heavily mentally embroiled in the electoral primaries going on in the U.S. – more so than is probably conducive to the meditative lifestyle, I admit – I naturally began to relate the leader/follower conversation to the last of these three. By following something that someone in a position of authority is doing or or saying, we lend credence to the direction of their leadership. That leader then comes to crave more of that. We see it all of the time in the way that politicians openly deny their conscience out of fear of how it will affect them at the polls. As politicians catch wind of the changes in attitudes among their constituents, they legislate accordingly.

Congressman Barney Frank once recalled asking another representative to support a certain bill of his, to which the representative said “Well, if it comes up after my primary, I can probably vote with you, but if it comes up before that, I have to vote against you.” This congressman was a prime example of being led by followers, to my mind. They say that in a democratic society we are in control because we command with our votes. You could say this is exactly how democracy is supposed to work; that governing bodies are there to serve the majority, who as we all know, rules. We hope for – but know better than to expect – a detached wisdom and philanthropy from our leaders that would make things work that way. And certainly there is something to that. I don’t know that that is all there is though. Not if our leaders are being led by their followers simply as a means to the end of being allowed to continue to lead.

All of these things point the way to the truth that “you get what you give.”

 

 

Posted in 2016 Presidential Election, blogging, consciousness, Conservative, current events, detachment, dharma, famous quotes, inspiration, Liberal, minorities, News, opinion, philosophy, pluralism, politics, quotes, religion, religious conversion, social commentary, spirituality, U.S. Election, Uncategorized, Voting, writing, yoga, yogis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Like and Share

I like Jesus. As I’ve said many times, probably more so since becoming Hindu. Because Hinduism is the path of the many and various merging into the One. I try not to take any religion too seriously, even my own, but I do revere the Christ.

His disciples, on the other hand, sometimes make me shake my head. For instance if you have a Facebook account you’ve likely seen this thing that is going around that goes something like this:

(Something about prayer in schools) OR
(Something about “Merry Christmas”, not “Happy Holidays”)

followed by something like:

“I bet 90% of you will ignore this” OR

(Something about the quote from Jesus about denying him 3 times, and then it goes ahead and gives the reader three chances to affirm the message followed by “Like and Share if you agree” thereby setting up dissenters for damnation, it seems to me)

I understand that a Christian’s religion commands him or her to preach the Good News of the Christ. That is one thing.

But to send out a message to your friends and family, and first of all telling them that you doubt that they will affirm the message, and second of all doing so on a forum where you know full well that when they do or don’t, you can keep tabs on it through your Feed…well that is not spreading the Good News, and frankly it is not even a show of faith. It is just grown-up peer pressure. And I have said as much in response to such a post. And I use the term “grown-up” loosely in this context.

Also, as you may know, in the U.S. we have somehow politicizing the religious festival of Christmas. That is ridiculous enough for me. But the fact that one minute they (mainly Conservatives, let’s face it) will say “Santa Claus” is Satan’s way of taking God out of the holiday and in the next breath they are deploring the fact that Christmas imagery (including Santa Claus) is being downplayed in the name of inclusiveness and political correctness is just stunning contradictory rhetoric.

Feeling the way I do about all paths leading back to the same Original Source, and depending on the message, I could just go ahead and affirm SOME of these Facebook posts. But I don’t, for a few reasons:

I don’t think it is possible to take prayer out of any place to begin with. To say that it is possible is to confirm that what you are really talking about is mandatory prayer, which no true believer should ever condone.

Also it’s none of my business what you wish people in December and none of yours what I wish others. If someone wished me a Merry Christmas and I did not celebrate it, I would be a grown-up and simply thank them but explain that was not my religion. Or I would just appreciate the sentiment, that another human wished me goodwill for Christ’s sake.

Hinduism is, for most of us, a religion of non-proselytizing. Though there have been a good number of well-known Hindu missionaries to the West, not many with an eye toward conversion like the missionaries that India received from the West. I do share things about Hinduism on Facebook. But whether people agree with the posts is none of my business. And whether they share it, even less so. I simply don’t care or need to know. It is an offering. Bridge-building. That is all it is, and I feel like that is what it is for any other Hindu who Shares anything about our Dharma. In fact I have never ever seen such a post that included a reminder to “Like and Share”. Certainly never a challenge to do so, or suggesting shame upon those who don’t!

Thank you for reading.

…and remember to LIKE and Share.

Posted in Abrahamic faiths, American Hindus, Bhaktivedanta, Christ, Christianity, Christmas, Comparitive Religion, Conservative, current events, dharma, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, Facebook, faith, famous quotes, Hinduism, Hinduism in America, holidays, India, Jesus, minorities, monotheism, News, opinion, Paramahansa Yogananda, philosophy, pluralism, politics, prayer, quotes, religion, religious conversion, Sanatana Dharma, social commentary, spirituality, Uncategorized, Vivekananda, Western Hinduism, Yogananda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments