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08 May

Proper Attitude Towards Adversity

The past year has been fraught with changes and challenges. My wife retired due to health issues and I decided to close my office in order to help with her needs. In addition, I have been dealing with nerve damage resulting from a serious bout of shingles two years ago. Seems like we entered a season of life where such things happen, but, c’est la vie.

There is nothing on the spiritual path that can be separated from learning and lessons. Regardless of how much we may prefer alternate circumstances, the appropriate attitude is understanding how we can change in the face of adversity, not how life can be made more accommodating. It is said that yogis learn to be even-minded in the midst of life’s ups and downs. That has always seemed like cookie-cutter commentary to me but the reality is, it’s true.

When we identify with the body and life around us, we subject ourselves to the consciousness of being the body, the mind, and so forth. We identify with the world. This is not the correct spiritual perspective. The reality is we are souls inhabiting bodies. When we identify as children of the Divine we allow ourselves to engage with Spirit as heirs to the Kingdom, not mortal beggars subject to the will o’the wisp of fate.

The only way to accomplish this is to change our ‘center of gravity’ from dependency on outer gratification to realization of the soul’s qualities within. When able to touch and grasp a joy or peace that is independent of external causation, we realize more clearly our soul nature. Life continues to hammer these lessons home until we finally get them. The lesson plan may differ for everyone but it’s there. And even then the process may not cease. Why? Because this is a world of duality; wherever there is an up, there must be a corresponding down. Learning to be anchored within through meditation is a must; a grace and necessity cultivated through spiritual practice.

This doesn’t mean – as in my case – that we’ve perfected the art of living, but, we have a better handle on meaning, purpose, and method. Talk is cheap but life does not brook nonsense. Unless and until we take spiritual practices seriously, we remain at the mercy of whatever comes next. Yogananda counseled disciples to not take this life too seriously. He was right. It can be a torment to those who do, an entertaining drama – with ups and downs – to those who recognize it as a spiritual play. This doesn’t disqualify one from being human and feeling, rather, it helps one learn that both can be spiritualized to a higher standard. Looking at life through the lens of wisdom allows one to seek and see God in everything; to surrender to what’s trying to happen while simultaneously doing your best to remedy untoward circumstances. In short, learning to be even-minded and cheerful amidst upheaval by virtue of being anchored in and associated with the fruits of the soul.

As Spring is a season of rebirth and renewal, I invite you to delve more deeply into who and what you are, the essence of Spirit. There is no down-side to this exploration. Rather, it is an investment that pays great dividends when the winds of outer life shift from balmy to blustery. Seek the Kingdom within; realize the truth of your eternal Self, and you shall be increasingly comforted then, finally, free.

Blessings to you all.

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06 Dec

Another Version of Christmas

As most people know, December is a chaotic month blending shopping, socializing, Santa, and sundry religious observances. Amidst predominantly Christian rituals are sprinkled Chanukah and a variety of solstice celebrations. Not to ignore the latter, this article provides a broader perspective of the Christian Holyday and invites those who resonate with it to engage the season more mindfully, and, reverently.

Christmas signifies hopeful celestial foreshadowing yet is eclipsed by the celebration of Jesus’ redemptive mission at Easter. This is understandable, perhaps, if one views the Savior motif as unique to Christianity. I assert that it isn’t. The birth of a Christ – in this case, Jesus – is never inconsequential but must be viewed in context of a larger ongoing commitment of Spirit to humanity. As such, it entails a deeper significance and merits greater veneration than is ordinarily given.

What is the basis for my position? Let’s begin by exploring terms more fully.

The word ‘Christ’ may have different interpretations according to frames of reference. In mainstream Christian belief it hails from Christos, a Greek word meaning “anointed” and is equivalent to Mashiach or Messiah in Hebrew. To be a Christ, or Messiah, is to be “the anointed of God;” one specifically chosen by God for a special task – often as king. Subsequently, Jesus is oft-viewed as a ruler whose kingdom is divine. Interpretations of his mission vary according to diverse doctrinal perspectives but a common theme of atonement is shared with the redemptive act, self-sacrifice – in this case manifest as crucifixion, which served to uplift, reconcile, or help reconnect the children of God with their creator.

Less visible but no less ancient is a body of esoteric belief that views Jesus as a spiritual master who attained oneness with God. In this instance, the term ‘only begotten son’ or ‘Son of God’ doesn’t refer to a physical body but, instead, to the consciousness of God that permeates all creation. In Vedic scripture the universal Spirit intelligence is known as Kutastha Chaitanya and is synonymous with “Cosmic Christ,” the “Infinite Christ,” or “Christ Consciousness.” It is this oneness with God that was manifest by Jesus, Krishna, and other divine incarnations.

The reference to “other divine incarnations” implies that Jesus wasn’t the only ‘Son of God’ nor the only Savior to uplift humanity. Consider these parallel scriptures:

  1. New Testament

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3: 17

  1. Bhagavad Gita

“Although I am unborn, the Lord of all living entities, and have an imperishable nature, yet I appear in this world by virtue of my divine power.

Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, O Arjuna, at that time I manifest myself on earth.

To protect the righteous, to annihilate the wicked, and to reestablish the principles of dharma I appear on this earth, age after age.” BG 4:6-8

Depicted here is the Son of God as Avatar. Throughout history, spiritual illumination has come to humanity when God manifested in human form. The Sanskrit term, Avatar, literally means “descent of God” or “descent of divinity into flesh.” Religions originated with holy beings, or prophets, like Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Moses, and Muhammad. Each infused new vitality or redemptive clarity into systems that were sliding towards hypocrisy or worse. Swami Shivananda added a personal and devotional element to the drama: “If God does not come down as a human being, how will human beings love him? That is why He comes to human beings as a human being.”

What’s the purpose of all this? The answer is twofold: First, every Avatar has a specific mission and message. In simple terms it may be said that Christ revealed the supremacy of God’s love over human self-limitation; Buddha rejected hierarchical systems and taught people to be lamps unto themselves; Krishna preached spiritual balance and God-centered activity. Each theme was relevant to the age in which it was given. Secondly, Avatars serve as saviors, i.e. bearers of enlightenment, who re-establish virtue and spiritual truth whenever the world has lost its way. No matter where an avatar appears, their impact ultimately uplifts the world in a fashion governed by and in accordance with God-ordained roles.

The significance of this is paramount: God has an ongoing benevolent relationship with humanity. Paramahansa Yogananda taught that when Avatars incarnate, extraordinary amounts of spiritual energy flood the ethers. There is also an annual recurrence of that sacred infusion on their birthdays. To enhance receptivity to the Christ consciousness, Yogananda instituted an all-day meditation tradition at Christmas time.  This practice – and ones like it – deepen awareness of the Sacred Presence and help one derive uplifting benefit. Let this also be a reminder that God repeatedly seeks to awaken the sleeping divinity in humankind and usher its return Home. As stated in Psalm 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” Realize this, in addition to the natural import of the season – however you commemorate it – and rejoice in the caring love of Spirit eternally demonstrated by the Incarnations who bless us with their illuminating Presence.

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01 Aug

God is not a Four-Letter Word

Recently I purchased a Time (magazine) Special Edition: Mindfulness, The New Science of Health and Happiness. The front cover boasted a lovely young blond woman; closed-eyed, pouty-lipped, and looking on-so-serene. On the back was a montage of photos ranging from a food journal, a young hip black male sitting in pseudo-meditation posture amidst sidewalk strollers, an ocean-side book-reader, and a walk-in-the-woods gamboler. In big bold print was the theme of the issue: How To Be Mindful – Discover why slowing down and staying present leads to a happier, less stressed life.

As a meditation teacher I am only too happy when people begin exploring their inner dimensions. After all, for centuries the world’s major religions – at least the mystical components of same – have advocated harnessing meditation to search for God and the realization that one’s essential nature is part of God. This quest for understanding is fundamentally the deepest purpose of life and reveals the truth of Being through direct intuitive experience, not intellectual theory or speculative philosophy.

Unfortunately, there’s an existential disconnect between the core purpose of meditation and its modernized cousin, Mindfulness. According to Wikipedia, “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilized to develop self-knowledge and wisdom that gradually lead to what is described as enlightenment or the complete freedom from suffering.” For Buddhists, the method used for this purpose is called Vipassana or Insight meditation. Sincere practitioners are committed to consciously observing experiences in order to deepen insight into reality and attain spiritual liberation. Hindus and other meditative traditions may use different modalities but the endgame is identical, unity with God. The current Mindfulness model has eviscerated a profoundly esoteric practice to become a far lighter tool harnessed to therapeutically manage stress, cultivate emotional resiliency, and foster creativity.

This downgrade has come about for multiple reasons one of which is that the medical and psychological communities find non-theistic Buddhist thought complementary to secular science. Spirituality doesn’t ‘measure up’ in laboratory settings. In addition, there is an ever-increasing, world-wide shift away from traditional religion. Various news sources report this but according to a May, 2016 Huffpost ‘The Blog’ article, “An ongoing spate of recent studies – looking at various countries around the world – all show the same thing: religion is in decline. From Scandinavia to South America, and from Vancouver to Seoul, the world is experiencing an unprecedented wave of secularization. Indeed, as a recent National Geographic report confirms, the world’s newest religion is: No Religion.” In short, God has become fashionably unfashionable. Instead, terms like Consciousness have become favorable replacements because they don’t trigger sensitive ideological trip wires. Another boon for the Mindfulness trend.

Evolving times give rise to necessary change. With greater understanding of the universe comes the need to rethink modes of belief. What was once deemed ‘gospel’ is often seen now as political doctrine crafted by hierarchical systems to wield power over those they were allegedly tasked to serve.  I get it; down with misinformation and those who abuse it. That said, disregarding terms like God in favor of ‘Consciousness’ or other neutral language, while temporarily mollifying, doesn’t solve anything. It’s just putting lipstick on a pig, i.e. glamorizing what shouldn’t be. The problem isn’t about God, it’s about our limited understanding. Efforts to stamp out God or related verbiage is not enlightened, it’s ignorant. We strive to reformulate language to avoid being reminded of unpleasant human tendencies. We isolate ancient practices that conveyed transcendent experiences and repurpose them to accommodate mundane values and lives antithetical to realizing a greater existence. And this is done with a hubristic sense of self-satisfaction that revels in its smug smallness.

Clever spiritual synonyms, or the lack thereof, are meant to display freedom from archaic belief systems yet more accurately reveal an astounding absence of inner awareness or perception of higher realities. The term God simply refers to “the supreme or ultimate reality” (Merriam Webster) and is not something riddled with boogeymen or an antiseptic praise hunter sitting in a remote corner of the universe. More, the term implies there is an ultimate and supreme state of being versus lessor ones. Why then, in this world so bent on discovering new, advanced modes of technology, do we find the perennial pursuit of ultimate reality so undeserving of our time and inquiry? Why do we dilute opportunities to tune into higher states by focusing on bland pulpits that venerate the meaningless? Breathe, be in the moment, return to your breath, watch your thoughts, observe your feelings, your food, whatever. REALLY?! Is that the new form of spirituality? What does it actually do for you aside from distracting you from your smart phone, job, or romantic problems for a bit? Does it provide deep insight into the meaning of life or how to attain union with the Ultimate? No. For as much value as there is concentrating the mind and regrouping from sundry distractions, none of that is spiritually significant unless there is an accompanying purposeful transcendent agenda and means to attain it. Why? Because, simply put, we are in the world but not of it. Never have been, never will be. And there is no way one can realize this truth until they turn within in a meaningful way.

The inner world or spiritual domain does exist. However it doesn’t manifest unless one is privy to accessing it correctly. That is the basis for all the spiritual sciences. Yogic and Buddhist systems are perhaps best at having identified the Supreme Goal plus how to attain it. This isn’t a criticism against Judaeo-Christian traditions but an acknowledgement of older spiritual systems that have been refined over time. And, since Truth is One, what they realized can be found in all religions, albeit in less evident ways. Therefore, instead of strip-mining venerable higher sciences to attain better health or emotional equanimity, think about the far greater benefits realized when one follows the path these systems were designed for. Is it not better to grasp the deeper meaning of life and harvest its fruits than to frolic in the fleeting glamor of ignorant superficiality?

God is not a four-letter word. God is the supreme good, the Grand Ultimate. Choosing to not acknowledge this truth doesn’t change it but, rather, retards one’s ability to live life to its fullest. If you haven’t done so, reconsider your relationship with the Almighty. This is not a call to re-engage with faulty doctrine or meaningless rituals. Instead, it is an invitation to broaden your perceptions wisely. Study the lives of saints and mystics who have communed with the Supernal. Examine the quality of their lives; the joy, peace, and love they’ve gained and see if that’s not something worth pursuing. Investigate meditative practices derived from legitimate spiritual systems that have produced bona fide sages, venerable ones with direct experience of God. Follow a path proven valid by those who have used it to attain the Highest. Be a critical consumer but get away from superficiality and re-engage with God. Your version of the Divine may be personal, impersonal, or a mixture of both. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is pursuing a valid inner path because, ultimately, it’s what you’re meant to do. There is no greater fulfillment or enduring accomplishment than reuniting with your true Self. And that is God.

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03 Jul

Civility & Decency: Hallmarks of Personal & Social Cultivation

It takes little effort to notice the frequency of low-level behaviors demonstrated individually and societally these days. Regardless of whether they stem from matters of politics, social decorum, religion, gender, race, or innumerable kindred topics; all get rendered into a kind of perverse fuel that is disseminated through sensationalistic social media and press outlets. These, in turn, become converted to equally toxic reactive outrage. In fact, one can’t turn on a computer or read a news site without being inundated by an appalling glut of boorish anecdotes, deviant crimes, or sad demonstrations of humankind’s capacity for inhumanity; topics subsequently regurgitated by anyone boasting an opinion and means to express it. We’re almost conditioned to seek evidence of social/global improvement yet, upon finding so little, bemoan its lack and await the string of inflammatory responses sure to follow. Such behaviors, rather than being corrective or solution-oriented, merely promote cyclic patterns of negativity that generate further corrosive practices and incendiary attitudes.

Lamentably, the concept of leading by example appears to be losing valuable traction. Many fail to recognize how their actions impact others or, if they do grasp this, don’t care what kind of activities they put forward. People manifest base attributes when they suffer from cause-effect blindness, ethical ignorance, or when those wielding social influence fail to exhibit common courtesy or basic decency. Standards for such seem to lack relevance and are wistfully mourned by those yearning more civilized times. This engenders an almost rhetorical question: Why teach children self-control or rules of respectful engagement when adults in all strata of society increasingly fail to evince those qualities themselves? We’ve become afflicted by a dearth of high-minded deportment and substituted it with quasi neo-apocalyptic, Mad Max modes of violent expression. Devolution, not evolution appears to be the trend. Why? In part because our current President acts like a bad grade-school child. But his actions find significant resonance because mean-spirited, regressive attitudes are quick-fix, fear-based responses to the complexities that arise from an emerging global society. The challenges evoked by shifting populations and cultural diversity has rocked the foundation of previously familiar nationalistic stability. And not just in the USA. Multiple countries are pressed to address the repercussion of technological, environmental, and social changes. The world is in flux and people either expand to embrace it wisely or contract to contain it in a death throe. The truth is, however, this process can’t be denied. We are not going backwards.

No one person can stop wide-spread negativism by themselves; fortunately, everyone can do so individually and collectively. How? By being willing to behave correctly and doing so as often as possible. What does this entail? It means recognizing that each of us is empowered to create. What we do, say, and think does impact us and the world around us. We must be mindful, then, of our power and how to exercise it. The equation is not complicated: If you want a better society or world, then act, speak, and think in ways that beget harmony and uplifting benefit. Not doing so elicits the unenviable opposite. Sadly, we often fail to see how we unconsciously create the very things we wish to avoid. For instance, when we strive for peace angrily, or when we seek social equity through blame and shame, we foster the very adversity we sought to eradicate.  Therefore, we must exercise the universal precepts of doing no harm, being kind, and treating others as we’d wish to be treated. Sounds simplistic, but confronting base instincts is seldom easy.

Doing as suggested doesn’t require anything sophisticated. It can be done simply by shifting how you interact with others. If you aren’t doing so already, learn to pay attention, be kind, exercise courtesy, and engage thoughtfully. In other words, be respectful. Replace autopilot mode with sympathetic listening and amiable interchange. Develop the ability to commune with others, not just communicate. This can change the world one person at a time.  Consider this: Listening is more than just hearing words. It requires understanding; tuning in to the tones, expressions, thoughts or feelings that exist behind words. These must be weighed to grasp the full picture of what’s going on. Next, respond after considering how your thoughts, speech, or actions could be delivered and what their impact might be. Strive to speak when the time is right; act from a place of truthful benevolence. If this seems too unwieldy, just be kind; doing only that which won’t harm others or oneself. Like any skill, this becomes easier with practice and the results are so worthwhile.

Personal and cultural development have many features but, at their core, require embracing unity. We’re all in this together. Literally. There is no escaping the actuality that everyone, consciously or not, contributes to how the world is shaped. As mentioned before, if you wish to see a better society or planet, behave properly wherever you are. Refuse the influence of those who spread ignorance and defile virtue. Be a light in the world – even if it’s just a tiny corner. Model civility, demonstrate decency. Be polite, be kind, be thoughtful, be courteous, have manners. We each have the obligation to be mindful stewards of our lives as well as the planet. Since the divine dwells in all, your honorable behavior not only elevates yourself but make this world a finer place to live in and, subsequently, serves The Creator favorably.

 

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18 Apr

Easter Message

Resurrection+of+Jesus,+Hofmann+1867

I realize that Easter, Christianity, and the issues surrounding resurrection beliefs can be ‘gospel’ to some, explosive trip-wires for others. My goal in presenting the following is simply to commemorate a significant event in the life and mission of Christ Jesus while also adhering to a conviction that spiritual laws are universal and demonstrated by enlightened ones of all faiths throughout time. Legendary mythologist, Joseph Campbell, includes ‘Resurrection’ as the 11th step in the classic Hero’s Journey, something identified in innumerable historical tales from diverse cultures. The life and message of Christ Jesus was unique to his world mission, as were those of Krishna, Buddha, and other illumined masters. Resurrection has been referenced or demonstrated by Guru Nanak of the Sikhs and Swami Sri Yukteswar in the yogic tradition, yet it is clearly a most notable event in the Christian faith and one that deserves respect for its spiritual significance. It is the significance of this event, however, that I believe the masters wished to emphasize, not so much the event itself. Namely, what they accomplished others can too – God willing – once they realize their innate divinity. I believe that Jesus labored very hard to get people on board with the message of “Ye too are Gods” and “Seek the Kingdom within.” To that end, his trials and triumphs reflect what we need to strive for, and do, in order to be true disciples of the One Spirit.

A Yogi’s Appreciation of Easter & Resurrection

“Resurrection is not the power of Spirit in the body of Jesus only; Spirit is in everyone. Nor does man have to die in order to resurrect Spirit. The physical resurrection of Christ was only part of the lesson of his life. Every time you give up a weakness and feel happy in being good, Christ is resurrected anew. You can bring Christ Consciousness within you right now…..” PY

“…Resurrect your calmness from beneath the soil of restlessness; resurrect your wisdom from the enshrouding earthliness of ignorance; resurrect your love from beneath the sod of mundane human attachment − with its limited love for family, society, and country − to divine love for all.” PY

For a Meditation on Resurrection click HERE

 

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25 Mar

Spring Renewal: Virtue and Valor

Spring is typically seen as a season of both physical and spiritual renewal. Given the political upheavals confronting this country, and world, one could say that applies – but with steroids! It is hard to remain calmly centered during such periods but that is precisely what we must do while simultaneously acting to restore peace and righteousness to our nation and planet. In many ways what we are seeing outwardly is a reflection of the battle each of us is called to engage in inwardly. In Vedic tradition, the battle fought in the Bhagavad Gita is really a metaphor for facilitating the restoration of soul consciousness over material consciousness. And this is the spiritual battle classically fought within all disciples of all faiths throughout the ages. In short, each of us must remember who we are at our core, souls, and act in alignment with the dictates of Spirit-guidance, not, from fear, anger, or unfettered emotional reactivity. The world is a huge game board of infinite variety and cleverness that excels in drawing us out to engage in varied distractions – some good, some awful – that seem to make us forget our real place and divine purpose. Again, I emphasize that while situations around us abound in tremendous inharmony, we must re-double our efforts to cultivate and remain anchored in spiritual realization, then, act in whatever ways we can to restore peace and balance in our midst. My invitation is nothing new, “Seek the Kingdom within,” but with faith in Spirit, in your personal process, commitment to the cause, and patient resilience. Keep putting the right foot forward in ways both small and large. It is only through invoking and spreading Light that darkness can be diminished or defeated. So don’t despair, engage. And do by shining your own inner light more brightly through attunement with Spirit in whatever way you hold dear. Apply the fruits of soul cultivation – peace, love, joy – with another supernal trait, wisdom, to secure for yourselves and others, a society and planet worthy of bequeathing to future generations.

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08 Dec

Spiritual Understanding to Cope with Times of Change

My original goal with this post was to address political turmoil and global strife from a spiritual perspective. For example, Krishna told his Arjuna: “Get away from My ocean of suffering and misery! Give thyself single-heartedly to Me and I will lift thee out of the sea of delusion.” Likewise, Jesus said, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Okay, fine; but not quite. We’re too confronted with the perils of this period to readily set aside the external drama so easily. That doesn’t make divine counsel wrong, however. Rather, we need to understand why such advice is pertinent in order to more skillfully manage being in a messy soup of a world. Since the subject emerged as a dream-nature-of-reality theme, I felt my unenlightened perspective could ring hollow. Accordingly, I opted to present excerpts of Self-Realized wisdom that, hopefully, shall provide a measure of comfort to offset the dose of “I can’t believe it!” we’re faced with daily.

 

“Man is still striving to prove to himself that this world is not an ocean of suffering, but he will never be able to do so. Sometimes we feel sure we have caught the butterfly of happiness, but in the next instant it has darted away from our hand. Why not concentrate on the soul bird-of-paradise that resides in the bodily cage? Nourish it a little bit every day with the only food by which it can live: devoted meditation.”

“Don’t expect to attain unalloyed peace and happiness from earthly life…no matter what your experiences are, enjoy them in an objective way, as you would a movie. You have to find true peace and happiness within yourself …..If you lose your inner balance that is just the time when you are vulnerable to worldly suffering.”

“If you are attached to human happiness, you are in for a lot of trouble, because nightmares are inevitable along with the beautiful dreams. But if you will think of a dream as a dream, whether it is enjoyable or dreadful, you will have peace. When you realize that life is a dream, then you are free…. Therefore, the masters say, “Awake from both the beautiful dreams and the nightmares.”

“The sages of India since ancient times have spoken of the universe as a materialization of the thought of God. It is easy to say, of course, that this universe is a dream. But the verisimilitude of “life” in our everyday experiences makes it nearly impossible for us to believe that the world is nothing more than a cosmic dream. It is necessary that we first develop mind power in order to be able to realize that the universe is actually made out of the thought of God and that, like a dream, it is structurally evanescent.”

“We know that thoughts are invisible. But in dreamland they may be made visible by the force of energy. So originally this whole universe—in the form of God’s thoughts—was invisible, hidden within the cosmic stream of consciousness. Only when those thoughts were crystallized by God’s cosmic intelligent vibration, or energy, did they become visible to us as the material universe. So, although it is difficult to realize that this cosmic dream universe is merely a dream, we should endeavor to think along this line..”

“…do not take your earth experiences too seriously. The root-cause of sorrow is in viewing the passing show with emotional involvement….ever affirm, “It is all a dream. It will soon pass.” Then no trouble can be a great trial to you…”

“This show has a purpose: that you learn how to play the various parts of the life movie without identifying your Self with your role…The best way to dissociate yourself from your difficulty is to be mentally detached, as if you were merely a spectator, while at the same time seeking a remedy.”

“Learn to laugh at difficulties by remembering that you are immortal:…Whether you are suffering in this life, or smiling with opulence and power, your consciousness should remain unchanged. If you can accomplish even-mindedness, nothing can ever hurt you. The lives of all great masters show that they have achieved this blessed state.”

“…In the midst of negative conditions, practice “opposition” by thinking and acting in a positive, constructive way. Practice titiksha, which means not to give in to unpleasant experiences, but to resist them without becoming upset mentally…Be unruffled in everything you do…”

“God-peace is never-ending. It is the only real state of happiness. Nothing else can make you happy because only the joy of His presence is real….Why become helplessly involved in an endless panorama of events in order to discover that nothing in this world can ever make you happy?….become anchored in That which is changeless. The only changeless principle in creation is God…”

“You and I seem so real, these bodies so substantial; the whole world appears to be quite permanent. Yet this seeming reality is nothing but condensed thoughts of the Cosmic Dreamer…The moment we put our minds on the Infinite, we begin to perceive the natural state of our souls as individualized expressions of the Cosmic Self. ….freedom of mind will come when you realize that solids, liquids, and all other forms of matter are expressions of God’s thought. The best way to find true freedom is to meditate deeply…”

 

The world is endlessly stimulating. We lurch from one catastrophe to another, vent about who is to blame, then hope things will get better. And on it goes. The diversity of drama is amazing, and, incredibly successful at detracting us from Spirit. And that is the trick: Don’t be tricked! It is all a big drama. Sickness, health, loves, wealth, poverty, tragedies, disasters; they’re all exquisitely crafted plots on the stage of life. We really need to learn how to see them as such, rectify suffering wherever we can, and simultaneously seek true happiness and divine realization within. There is no other way to ride this roller coaster without getting sucked into the cogwheels and ground up. So, take a beat; breathe deeply, meditate on God, and learn to be in the world but not of it.

 

 

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28 Oct

Global Healing and Social Harmony Meditations

happy-world-peace-day-617
A thought came to me recently while meditating: Most everyone I know is frustrated by and discouraged with global strife, social turmoil, and political squabbling yet also uncertain how they, as individuals, can contribute something positive to offset rampant negativity. That’s when it occurred to me to initiate Global Healing & Social Harmony Meditations. Based on the distant healing teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, the following techniques serve on subtle levels to direct energy whenever and wherever needed and, accordingly, lay the framework for healing to materialize externally.

So, please use what is shared here – by yourself or in groups – and know that everyone’s input is of real value.

Here’s what to do:

1.) Convert your Body / Mind into a Spiritual Battery. Spend time in prayer and meditation. Go within and affirm your nature as a child of Spirit; one with the Divine. Call to God in the language of your heart to reveal Him/Her/It Self, then, be still & receive. Feel the Sacred’s subtle responses manifest as ever-increasing joy, love, or peace in your heart.

2.) Offer a Prayer invoking divine energy to flow through you. Remember that God alone is the Healer and Source of all healing. We merely serve as channels for this force to flow through us. Here is a prayer you can use: “Heavenly Father / Divine Mother / Infinite Spirit, Thou art omnipresent, Thou art in all creation; manifest Thy healing presence in all bodies, minds, souls, in all parts of the Earth, and in every society.” (Yes, this is a bit King James style so feel free to create your own prayer according to taste.)

3.) Send Healing To All Individuals.
Note: Do these exercises with eyes closed and focused at the spiritual eye or 6th chakra. This center is the seat of concentration, will, and spiritual perception.

– Rub the palms briskly, hold your palms up and facing out then chant Om directing healing energy to all Bodies
– Rapidly rotate the hands in a forward circular motion, hold your palms up facing out then chant Om directing healing energy to all Minds
– Repeat step one and direct healing energy to all Souls.

Note: As you do this you will increasingly feel a current or pulsing of energy flow out through your palms for the purposes specified.

4.) Send Energy for Planetary Healing.

Lower the arms then
– Rub the bare left arm briskly several times with the right palm.
– Repeat this to the right arm with the left palm.
– Then, rub both palms together until they feel hot.
– Separate the hands and feel life current pulsing through both arms and hands

Visualize the Earth floating between your hands.

happy-world-peace-day-617

 

 

 

 
– Gently move your hands in space over the earth & chant Om to fill the Earth aura with Harmony and Light
– Chant Om & send divine healing to all waters, glaciers, and icecaps
– Chant Om & send divine healing to all forests, plants, & creatures
– Chant Om & send divine healing throughout the atmosphere and air
Envision the Planet as Vibrant, Healthy, and Happy.

Drop the arms, rub the palms again to renew the sense of energy flow then raise the palms up once more and resume directing energy…

5.) For Social Healing

– Chant Om & send divine healing to races
– Chant Om & send divine healing to all nations
– Chant Om & send divine healing to all faiths
Envision all Societies Living Together in Love, Light, Cooperative Harmony, & Divine Understanding

When finished, simply stop, give thanks, and ask that Divine Will be done.

These techniques are of genuine value and much needed these days. I sincerely encourage readers to practice them daily, and if so inclined, to share them with others and join together in group practice whenever possible.

God Bless.

 

 

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26 Sep

Meditation is a Spiritual Practice

As a longtime yogi, meditation teacher, and student of the mystical, I’ve observed the various points through which hatha yoga and meditation have entered the US psyche. Not intending to be historically immaculate, I simplify timeline details using broad brush strokes. The process I reference was most significantly launched by Emerson’s Transcendentalism, the Theosophical Movement, and the eventual arrival of Swami Vivekananda in the late 1800’s. After teaching in America for several years, Vivekananda returned to India but his visit was subsequently followed by that of Swami Yogananda in 1920 (later re-titled Paramhansa Yogananda). Yogananda made the US his base of operations and taught until leaving the body in 1952. Following his death, a host of other Indian gurus visited, taught, and helped fashion the yogic meditation culture. Enter Buddhist traditions through Alan Watts and Shunryū Suzuki who introduced Zen to the West. Then, in 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn adapted ancient Buddhist Vipassana and hatha yogic practices to create a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. His standardized, 8-week course couched meditation practices in Western, scientific terms using a definition of mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” This non-theistic concept became readily accessible to, and absorbed by, a religiously skittish western audience who sought something esoteric yet ‘safe.’ And, it garnered ever-increasing popularity after Bill Moyers TV series, “Healing & the Mind,” showcased Kabat-Zinn’s work. According to Medical News Today, Mindfulness is currently the most common form of meditation in the Western world.

This is a truly significant statement and, for me, a simultaneously disheartening one. Not that I mind folks trying their hand at meditation. I laud them wholeheartedly. Rather, I object from the standpoint of being a purist. Meditation has traditionally been used in spiritual frameworks to deepen realization of our essential nature, its relationship with Source or Spirit, and the meaning of life itself. Instead of pursuing such goals, modern versions of Mindfulness effectively strip-mine enlightenment traditions to foster relaxation, reduce stress, improve health, and enhance job performance. This is not what any spiritual master sought, taught, or counseled.

Noting sensations and thoughts as secretions of the mind, arising and passing like clouds across a vast sky is noteworthy, even therapeutic, but meditation is far more than this. It redirects energy and consciousness purposefully, shifting awareness from external sensory perceptions to realms of ever-expanding subtle reality. As this inner process unfolds, the limited identification of self with body and mind is replaced by perceptions of unified oneness with All-That-Is. That state of realization; Oneness, Returning to the Source, Reunion with Spirit, is the true purpose of classical meditative endeavors. Thus, I encourage all meditation practitioners to take a deeper look at what you’re doing and why. If seeking awakened connection with Source, you are on the right path. If merely pursuing less painful means of engaging the world, you are bypassing bigger realities and selling yourself short. When all is said and done, Spirit is the ultimate goal of life because It is existence, joy, love, consciousness, fulfillment Itself. Until we return Home, i.e. reunite with the Sacred, we remain stranded in a world of delusive separation and malcontent. No amount of mindful awareness or being present in the moment can change that fact, only union with Source can. So, make meditation a spiritual practice; that’s what it is for and why that emphasis will serve you better.

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07 Sep

Political Correctness is not Spiritually Correct

It doesn’t take much review of current headlines to wonder if we’re truly going to hell in a handbasket. Even I, who firmly believe we’re headed in a positive direction of global unity and spiritual evolution, find it challenging to remain upbeat in the face of such unrelenting negativity. Since the scope of pernicious news topics is so broad, I’ve chosen to address a personal pet peeve, political correctness. The latter is spiritually offensive to me because it fundamentally denies or skews truth. More, it inhibits thoughtful consideration of complex issues and aligns self-righteousness with repressive behavior to quash free speech, thought, and action. Rather than facilitate mature policy reformation, political correctness’ shame-&-blame M.O. hounds anyone willing to consider the highly textured, multi-factorial nature of complex social scenarios and, instead, favors emotional diatribes that usually misrepresent facts, discount context, and justify myopic, self-serving biases.

Social modification requires meaningful dialogue and action based on perceiving levels of cause and outcome. Grasping causation, therefore, is often a key component to crafting reform. Without clarity of insight, the ability to mend situational wrongs is blunted or misdirected. Political correctness undermines such by decrying critical thinking and misrepresenting origins of issues. Case in point: If a person persists in overeating or eating wrongly – for whatever reasons – they will gain weight. This is simple biology. Until they accept responsibility for this cause-effect relationship and undertake necessary steps to alter their habits of thought, activity, and eating, the problem shall remain. Spinning scenarios to blame others or glorify unhealthy body types won’t change reality. When pressure exists to replace facts with revisionist beliefs, as championed by PC protocol, such behaviors undermine societal health and become systemically problematic.

Political correctness fundamentally rejects notions of personal responsibility preferring sanitized versions of life which appease its ideological doctrines. Conversely, the esoteric route to problem solving lay in thoughtful self-reflection. Much in life happens mysteriously, yet justifiably, due to subtle causative principles. From a spiritual perspective, we’re not hapless victims of unknown forces foisted on us by ‘others’ but architects of outcomes arising from choices and actions made consciously or unconsciously overtime. That is why when unpleasant life events occur it is advised to contemplate our possible role in fashioning such, then, devising ways to remedy situations – including by changing ourselves. Consider these statements of Paramhansa Yogananda:

The habits you cultivated in past lives have substantially created your physical, mental, and
emotional makeup in this life. You have forgotten those habits, but they have not forgotten you.”

“A man (person) takes birth in a certain family, a particular social and national environment,
owning to specific causes—his own past actions. Therefore man is the architect of his own destiny.”

“Your failure or sickness or other troubles started with unwise actions in past lives, and the effects of those causes have been brewing within, waiting for the right time to bubble over. Disease, health; failure, success; inequalities, equality; early death, long life—all these are outgrowths of the seeds of actions we have sown in the past…Each person has made himself the way he is.….Don’t blame God or anyone else if you are suffering from…upsets. You created the cause of the problem in the past and must make a greater determination to uproot it now.”

The reason I put all this forward is because I recoil at the decline of truth, understanding, and moral backbone so prevalent today. Like everyone else, I wish for a more just and equitable society. However, that doesn’t mean we can overlook the subtle infrastructure which contributes to its makeup. Dharma, or cosmic righteousness, won’t be trifled with nor tolerate fools. Life operates precisely and mathematically not by ungoverned whimsy. There are consequences to actions made in accordance with, or in disregard of, cosmic laws. As such we must realize that whatever exists in our lives does so by subtle principles like cause-effect and energetic-magnetic affinity. Individual, societal, and global activities are governed by these universal laws. Therefore, we must be willing to at least consider the potential contribution our own actions have wrought while also compassionately seeking to correct whatever is amiss. This commentary is not meant to deny the wrenching impact of life tragedies nor substitute PC thinking with spiritually-flavored blame doctrines. That is neither intended nor proper. Karma is too complex a doctrine for such simplicity. Nor are we victims of unalterable fate. As souls we possess free will and the inherent potential to modify karmic outcomes in ways to our liking. That said, we must also accept that every event has it roots in diverse energetic components. When the reflex to deny accountability is replaced with thoughtful consideration of our potential role in shaping life, we begin to approach and remedy life imbalances in ways that are more spiritually correct, and, enduring.

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