Essence

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 , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

Posted in agnosticism, agnostics, American Hindus, autobiography, avatars, bhakti, books, dharma, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, Divine Consciousness, duality, Eastern Philosophy, ego, famous quotes, guru, inspiration, Maya, opinion, philosophy, Sanatana Dharma, self-realization, spirituality, Western Hinduism, yoga, Yogananda | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Buddhism without Beliefs, delusion, ego, emotion, feelings, meditation, perception, the self | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

He’s Got High-igh-igh Hopes

by Aranyakananda

Since the first of the year I have been back in the position of searching for a job. I have had a part time job for the last 3 weeks or so but I know that will slow down in summer and I need something steady so I have been digging around the job boards.

It’s one of those things I wrote about a while back, how every 4-5 years I encounter a major setback. In that post I promised to encounter it when and if it came again with a better, more mentally healthy attitude than I previously had.

I’m doing fine in that respect, but there is one thing. I think when you abruptly lose a job like I did, you are bound to be bent on getting back to full-time as soon as possible, and therefore every job you apply for is “the right one” in your mind. Even at the expense of the actual right one. And why else would you apply in the first place if you didnt think it was the right one? But I have also noted that I have developed quite “high hopes” on one or two of them, presently.

How does one maintain “high hopes” without the fallout should what you hoped for not come to pass? In other words, is having high hopes perfectly healthy as long as you can live without the fruits of these hopes in the end? I mean a steady income will at some point become necessary but what I mean is, if I can have high hopes for this job, but at the same time know that other opportunities are out there, and maintain a healthy detachment from the fruit of the act of applying.

I find high hopes are constructive IF I can wield them properly. Meaning if I put high hopes on a particular application I am sending out then I will naturally put more effort into the cover letter for example. But what that means is I have to have a little bit of intuition to tell me which ones are reasonable to have these high hopes on.

Maybe it would be healthier to put away the high hopes so that each application receives equal effort, given that as I said I wouldn’t be applying for it in the first place if I didn’t think it was “the one.”

Aum Gam Ganapatiye Namaha
Aum Hreem Shreem Lakshmibhayo NamahJai Hari Aum

Posted in American Hindus, detatchment, employment, job search | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Cleanliness is Next To Godliness and Godliness is Apparently Calculable

by Aranyakananda

First off I don’t really believe that old aphorism that “cleanliness is next to godliness”. If that were true, I’d be going straight to Hell in a handbasket, I am sure. But the idea fits well with another – and equally implausible – connection to “godliness” I have been seeing around the “interwebs” these days. Numbers. No, not the fourth book of the Torah. Actual numbers. Calculations. Statistics. Percentages. A points system for God’s sake! A friend tells me there is a Buddhist blogger out there who devised a points system for weighing the karmic badness to assign to the killing and/or eating of various types of animals.

If that were not baffling enough, I myself have come across a chart which shows how the “spiritual efficacy of a Gurumantra is dependent on the spiritual level of the person giving the mantra.” The chart goes on to assign a percentage to the “spiritual level” of the guru imparting the mantra, and a percentage to the “amount of divine energy (Chaitanya)” in the imparted mantra.

I don’t understand how one can assign such a value to a person (guru) for starters. The whole idea is highly suspect.

It goes on and on in that vein but the reason I am actually posting this today is because I was recently reminded that I had started it by a comment a friend of mine made asking me “Isn’t cleanliness next to godliness?” another concept which is highly suspect. I responded “Yes but so is filth.” I think many of the sadhus of India would agree. But I suppose it is a question of intent. One can corrupt one’s surroundings with one’s filth. Hell, one can BE corrupted by one’s own filth. Or one can wear it as a sign that he cannot be swayed by the various temptations of either filth or cleanliness. Do you judge godliness based on physical cleanliness when one might be spiritually filthy?

These aphorisms need to go, and the calculations I’ve referred to, though there is always room for discussion of such topics at the table of spiritual discourse, I personally am at a loss for what value they have. Maybe someone can help.

Jai Hari Aum.

Posted in blogging, Buddhism, consciousness, Dharma religions, Dharmic Faiths, dualism, duality, famous quotes, gunas, Hindu Sects, Hinduism, Indian culture, Judaism, mantras, opinion, philosophy, pluralism, quotes, sin, spirituality, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Vegetarianism, Western Hinduism, White Hindus | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Grihastha Conundrum

by Aranyakananda

For many reasons it has been about 2 months since I last posted here. For one, I’ve been sick for about 2 weeks, and during that time I’ve been looking for a job. The company I until recently worked for closed the department I was employed in without a moment’s notice on December 30. I am all set to go back to an old job on Feb 2. Aside from all that upheaval, I’ve been attempting to get back into a little bit more creative thinking in my life in general. How I want to spend my time. How I want to make my money. How the latter can lead to more freedom in the former.

Etcetera.

I have been working on making more of an effort at meditation after 2014 kind of turned into a disaster spiritually. But all is well. And I actually wanted to talk about one of the above factors. The job search.

I have one lined up as I said but it is a job that tends to be erratic in hours per week, and sometimes there is no work. So I have kept looking and I found a good one this morning which seems to be what my previous work has lead to. I have always looked for that. A job that seems to be the “next step.” Market research gave me confidence on the phones. Collections gave me strength of character and an authoritative voice on the subject matter. Inside sales gave me the ability to “know the product”. And I found a job listing for a sales job that was a lot of cold calling, selling ad space, and a major boost in income from anything I have ever experienced.

I was thinking about how I would go about presenting myself in my cover letter when I realized that the company mostly caters to Catholic churches.

I am not bringing this up because I am a Hindu and I want to be all prejudiced and exclusive and whatnot. I don’t intend to be any of those things. Especially the whatnot. In fact I have been consistently impressed with the current pope. But I am not yet trusting of the church in general and it seems that the job would involve a lot of what in the end would amount to promotion of the church.

Herein lies the conflict for me because as a householder it is my responsibility to “make ends meet.” Like I said I have something coming first week of February but it may not be steady after a few months. But do I shirk my own personal convictions in order to assure that my dharma as a grihastha is being fulfilled?

I honestly don’t know. With the long history of forced conversion in India, I have a hard time considering making my living helping the Catholic church promote itself. I am sure other opportunities will come. I am just not sure I am at liberty to let one pass untried.

Jai Hari Aum

Posted in Abrahamic faiths, American Hindus, autobiography, Catholicism, creativity, current events, dharma | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 , , , , , , , | 4 Comments