When I was in kindergarten, one of the things I remember most clearly aside from the Reading Rocket (a big plastic silo-like structure, black with silver stars on it) was that whenever we were to sit down and listen to the teacher teach, whenever we were to really sit and really listen, we were asked to sit “Indian style”.
For many years before I knew anything about meditation or Hinduism or India or anything related to it, I assumed that this referred to those often called Native Americans. It was actually not in any way different from the lotus position.
So looking back, it makes me think that as un-PC as it could be seen for teachers to ask us to “sit Indian style” they were actually quite forward-thinking. As forward-thinking as one can be by making use of milleniums-old wisdom. Somewhere along the line I guess they’d learned that sitting in the lotus position was the best way to open up perceptions, improve focus and and for the gods’ sakes get a bunch of five-year-olds to settle down and shut up for a minute and a half. In any case it was a good foundation for all future learning.
Jai Hari Aum.
Posted in American Hindus, Aum, autobiography, chakras, dharma, Dharma religions, Eastern Philosophy, Hinduism, Hinduism in America, Indian culture, inner peace, inspiration, life, meditation, opinion, Patanjali, perception, philosophy, Psychology, religion, Sanatana Dharma, science, self help, self-realization, Uncategorized, Vedic culture, Western Hinduism, White Hindus, yoga, Yoga Sutras, yogis
Tagged attention, concentration, focus, Hinduism, Indian Style, Kindergarten, learning, Native American, political correctness, reading rocket, teaching
This one does not hold as much immediate import on a day-to-day basis as the last two posts do as far as I am concerned. Because (1) it has to do with transmigration, a subject that, to most, cannot be proven, and (2) even if it could, we don’t control what our next life is to be anyroad. Well, I would argue that we do in fact have a great deal of control over that, though so much of that ability is slipping through our fingers day by day with every single decision we make that we don’t often take the time to realize that we are shaping our eternal future right now.
But this post is just about two words. Reincarnation and Rebirth. I just finished a neat little book called “Buddhism for Dudes” in which the difference was described fairly clearly. As an aside, the book is hardly just for dudes, as the intro tries to claim. There is nothing in it that woman can not find applicable. Just a few anecdotes are more dudecentric, but that is natural, having been written by one. But it also subtitled “A Jarhead’s Field Guide to Mindfulness” when there is really only one major anecdote about mindfulness at war.
The way the book explains reincarnation and rebirth is roughly like this: Reincarnation is like General George S. Patton’s claim that he had and would continue to return as generals in all of the world’s great conflicts.
This assumes there was something essential to his everlasting transmigrating soul that gravitated toward armed conflict. It’s a little like when a baseball fan says someone is “Lou Gehrig incarnate” or a rock n roll fan says someone is “Jimi Hendrix incarnate.” These are a little more specific incarnates than a warrior coming back as a warrior, but you get the idea. An incarnate, it seems, is more of an archetype, rather than an individual jivan, developing and evolving through transmigration.
Rebirth is described as a result of ignorance of our true nature. Our true Self. Rebirth seems to be more the word we are looking for in the Hindu context. Surely our dominating traits in this life determine the next step we take toward moksha, in the next life. Though “reincarnation” as defined above borders on the description of an avatar, assigning attributes like “warrior” to one’s ever-lasting transmigrating soul is just the type of ignorance and ego-attachment really, that results in “rebirth” as defined above.
Posted in American Hindus, autobiography, avatars, books, Brahman, Buddhism, Dharmic Faiths, Eastern Philosophy, ego, History, Maya, myth, opinion, reincarnation, religion, transmigration
Tagged Buddhism for Dudes, George S. Patton, Hinduism, karma, rebirth, reincarnation, transmigration
Contentment and satisfaction are two more states of mind that often get confused, and unfortunately often at great risk of inner peace. Like in the last post I am not going to go by any dictionary definition, but by my own perceptions of the terms.
Satisfaction is a fulfillment of the countless ebbs and flows of coming and going desires. It is reacting (see last post) to the needs of the moment. Totally impermanent. Desire relies on being repeatedly satisfied so that they can repeatedly come back. And its that repetition that carves out the deep pathways in our consciousness which makes it so much easier to continue the repeated action.
Contentment has nothing to do with fulfillment of desires. Contentment is a feeling that one might maintain regardless of a desire’s fulfillment and regardless of their coming and going. It is inner equanimity in an unstable outer world.
In other words, Maya feeds on satisfaction, not just the lack thereof . Moksha is almost defined by contentment.
Yesterday was a very dark day for the world. On 9/11/01, a few thousand people died in New York and on two other locations where terrorists used planes as weapons. Yesterday 129 died in Paris. Surely the number of people personally affected by 9/11 was more than Paris. And surely the various attacks that have been undertaken in the name of an ideal add up to make Paris look like a tea party. You cannot quantify tragedy. Just that it happened, that (1) there are people whose ideologies are so deeply ingrained in their psyches that they’d commit such acts, (2) that there are things going on in the world that the killers themselves see as so horrific that they consider their own subsequent acts as justifiable, and (3) that there are governments that are determined to continue the status quo no matter what the cost in the wake of these events, which pretty much puts the world in a continual spiral toward total obliteration…well…it kind of makes a blogger lose his train of thought.
This refusal to let go of one’s ideologies, when it refers to religion (the root cause of so much strife in the world) is referred to as religiaholism. Addiction to one’s belief systems and the inability to let them go regardless of evidence presented to the contrary, regardless of the outcome of such stubbornness. Also known as fundamentalism. But it is not always restricted to religion. An ideology is an ideology. They are tattooed in the collective consciousness of humanity, often to negative and unsettling ends, as we’ve seen this weekend.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about words. This seems like a reasonable place to begin a series of posts on words with subtle but important differences. This one is Response vs. Reaction. This is one of the most indelible lessons I learned with interactions with a Hindu practitioner of the Samkhya philosophy who I met at my temple in 2010. There are various ways you could define both response and reaction. To me, reaction is of the emotions, and response is of the intellect. Response is objective to various facets of the situation. Reaction often comes along with a pre-decided assessment of the situation.
Which one sounds more healthy? Which one sounds like it will provide the world with the more productive outcome to the Paris situation? Which one do you think we will get from those whose decisions will ultimately color the outcome?
As a universal household, our reaction/response to what happened in Paris has potential to be just as fundamentalist, just as religiaholic as the acts we are reacting/responding to. In fact we’ve seen it happen over and over and over again. Or our actions can come from a place of intellect. But one thing we can’t forget is that emotion isn’t purely heart-driven and intellect isn’t just the brain. After we’ve used our intellect to help determine the best course of action, our actions can be guided by the heart. Because this may be yet world-wide situation where no course of action is possible whereby no damage will be done. But guided by the heart, it can be minimized.
Auṃ pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ!