Friday, February 23, 2018

Myths of Mortal Gods

"Sometimes gods die for the benefit of their people (sacrifice), in which case they're a savior. Other times the god is reborn, actually or symbolically, representing regeneration or seasonal rebirth." ……Alan Watts
In many spiritual tradition that flourished after the onset of agrarian age such as the Indus valley civilization, the Egyptian civilization or the Greek and Hebraic civilization and later the Mayan Civilization, the mythos of sacrificial God and Divine reincarnation was a common theme.
In the various avatars of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of creation, Lord Rama’s story of disappearance from earth happened when he entered voluntarily into the Sarayu River. In the Krishna Avatar he is killed by the arrow of the hunter Jara.
In the Egyptian mythology, the story of Isis, Osiris and Horus in the third century BC was typical of the theme of the virgin birth of Horus, Horus was a redeemer of health and humans in their earthly form; not of souls needing salvation from sin and eternal punishment. Horus the Child was one of a number of so-called 'child gods' of ancient Egypt who appeared in the form known as Shed (Savior) but was a savior from earthly troubles, not eternal ones. The legend of restoration of Horus from death on the intercession of Isis by Thoth is the resurrection theme seen in the Egyptian mythology.
“Examples of gods who die and later return to life are most often cited from the religions of the Ancient Near East, and traditions influenced by them including Biblical and Greco-Roman mythology and by extension Christianity. The concept of a dying-and-rising god was first proposed in comparative mythology by James Frazer's seminal “The Golden Bough”. Frazer associated the motif with fertility rites surrounding the yearly cycle of vegetation. Frazer cited the examples of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis and Attis, Dionysus and Jesus Christ.
In the study of comparative mythology, Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung point to the dying deity motif in various mythologies such as Baldr in Norse mythology to the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl in Mayan mythology to the Japanese Izanami.
After having some background on this powerful mythological theme, let us examine some practical understanding of the life process from a cosmological perspective.
When we look at nature, both in our near vicinity or on a global scale, we see that birth and death are universal phenomenon. In our evolving consciousness, humans witnessed this when they moved from being hunter gatherers into settled agrarian societies. The process of growing food and replenishment of all that nourishes the individual and family as the very rudimentary requirement for survival became a vital daily function. In planting and germination of the seed, its growth and harvest as well as in nurturing domesticated animals and feedstock from birth to slaughter for meals was witnessed as purely in an objective mode. At the individual level birth and death was witnessed as something inevitable and not to be abhorred and was integral in nature with the early human’s psyche. With the onset of increased rational thinking and especially with the installation of monotheistic religion, humans were indoctrinated into believing that they have only one life and then we are faced with the uncertainty of eternal reward or damnation. This introduced and increased the fear element into the human psyche when they face death. This is because we have consigned all the deep meanings of mythological symbolisms to a story or fantasy of human imagination deprived of better occupation.
When we lift our eyes to the heavens and look at the stars and how over the ages they have evolved, we can have a more realistic process of thinking about our own existence. Let us see our own Sun. The Solar system and our own Earth is roughly 4.6 billion years old and our Milky Way galaxy is about 13.2 billion years old. This means that our Sun is a middle aged star and it has already gone through three life cycles of creation or birth as well as death. The elements in our body like calcium, Iron and Oxygen are from exploding stars or death of stars. When we eat and nourish our bodies with elements such as Calcium, Iron etc. they come from the very cycle of birth and death. It would be extremely unnatural to perpetuate life and not participate in the cosmic process of eternal revival. What I have written so far is on the physical level but then there is the underlying substratum of vibrating energy of consciousness which is the binding and nurturing force. In truth only through this substratum we receive our individual identity.
The mythology of mortal Gods should evoke our thinking to accept this cyclic process of birth and death or creation and annihilation.
In his book “The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying”  The great Tibetan Buddhist master Sogyal Rinpoche writes:
”When I first came to the west, I was shocked by the contrast between the attitudes to death I had been brought up with, and those I now I found. For all its technological development and achievements, modern western society has no real understanding of death or what happens in death and after death.
I learned that people today are taught to deny death, and taught that it means nothing but annihilation and loss. That means that most of the world lives either in denial of death or in terror of it. …”
Life is cosmic process and let us participate fully by going with the flow.


Love to you all

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mythos and Logos

Since I am teaching a course on “Science  & Theology – From Conflict to Confluence”, I thought, for the benefit of my students as well as my blog audience,  I will share two very deep insights. The first from a Nobel prize winning Physicist of the early twentieth century and the father of Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum physics, Niels Bohr and the second from the contemporary Franciscan Theologian Fr. Richards Rohr. OFM, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, promoting universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition.
"We ought to remember that religion uses language in quite a different way from science. The language of religion is more closely related to the language of poetry than to the language of science. True, we are inclined to think that science deals with information about objective facts, and poetry with subjective feelings. Hence we conclude that if religion does indeed deal with objective truths, it ought to adopt the same criteria of truth as science. But I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary. The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won’t get us very far." …………., Niels Bohr “Subjective vs. Objective Reality and the Uses of Religion in a Secular World.”
“The Judeo-Christian creation story is told in the form of a cosmic poem (Genesis 1). The realm of myth, art, and poetry can heal and create coherence, connection, and deep trust for the human psyche much better than prose that “tells it like it is.” Rather than orient us toward solving a problem, symbolic language and images turn our focus toward being itself, toward meaning, purpose, and inner life forces. They evoke the depths hidden beneath the practical, self-centered ego, and speak to our personal unconscious—as good therapy does—and our collective unconscious too—as story and myth often do.
There are several levels of knowing and interpreting reality—a “hierarchy of truths,” as Pope Francis calls it.  Not all truths are of equal importance, which does not mean the lesser ones are untrue. So don’t fight useless battles against them. Something might be true, for example, on a psychological, historical, or mythological level, but not on a universal level. Fundamentalists think the historical level is the “truest” one, yet in many ways literalism is the least important meaning for the soul. Facts may be fascinating, but they seldom change our lives at any deep level. I do believe the “historical-critical” method of interpreting Scripture is a helpful frame, without which fundamentalists create a fantasy that looks a lot like their own culture and preferred class perspective.
Scholars since Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) have been making good use of a distinction between logos, or problem-solving language, and mythos. Logos language includes facts, data, evidence, and precise descriptions. Rob Bell describes how “logos language and thinking got us medicine, got us airplanes. . . . For the past three hundred years we have had an explosion of logos language. . . . But the problem is, there are whole dimensions of our existence that require a different way of thinking.”
Bell rightly says, “The Bible is mostly written in mythos language. . . . Good religion traffics in mythos. . . . Mythos language is for that which is more than literally true. . . . Evolutionary science does an excellent job of explaining why I don’t have a tail. It just doesn’t do so well explaining why I find that interesting!” We need mythos language to express the more-than-factual meaning of experiences like falling in love, grief, and death.
Good religion, art, poetry, and myth point us to the deeper levels of truth that logos can’t fully explain. Early Christians knew this; but the Western Church spent the last five centuries trying to prove that the stories in the Bible really happened just as they are described. For some Christians, it’s imperative that the world was created in six literal days, otherwise their entire belief system falls apart. Christianity came to rely heavily on technique, formula, and certitude instead of the more alluring power of story, myth, and narrative. These give room for the soul, mind, and heart to expand. Ironically, from such an open and creative stance, we can actually solve problems much more effectively.
The whole point of Scripture is the transformation of the soul. But when we stopped understanding myth, we stopped understanding how to read and learn from sacred story or Scripture. Children delight in hearing the same fantastical stories over and over again because they are open to awe, mystery, and discovery. Oh that we could all read the creation story with similar childlike wonder and open-heartedness!” ………….Fr. Richard Rohr from “Daily Meditation – Creation”
The beauty of the advancements in current sciences and new findings and hypothesis proposed in Biology, Physics and Cosmology points to a realm of pure abstraction through the use of new language of higher dimensional manifolds and mathematical concepts which are akin to the language of mythology.
Love to you all

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Humanity as Cosmic Pilgrims

In Bhagavad Gita lectures Srila Prabhupada defines the Supersoul as Adhiyajña, and the soul as Adhibhūta.
The Adhiyajna or the Logos is the perennial source from which a human being is breathed into or breathed out of a cosmic body or vesture. Each is a blessed beneficiary of the ceaseless cosmic sacrifice, from dawn to dusk, from birth to death. The meaning of sacrifice must be understood here in its proper context. The word ‘sacrifice’ comes from two Latin words meaning ‘to make holy’. Hence the material manifestation of man is made holy through the investiture of Adhibhūta. At the initiation of manvantara (the end of man) and pralaya (the cosmic dissolution), it is through gratitude and devotion to the Logos as Adhiyajna (the concept off true worship), maintained over many lifetimes and ascending through ordered levels of manifestation, that human beings fulfill the true purpose of their cosmic existence. This gradual ascent is the work of the whole of evolution, and in the end it takes the host of immortal souls to the great day of 'Be-With-Us', which is not a fixed locus or final epoch but a sublime state of spiritual consciousness or in human terms Krishna Consciousness.
In Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky puts the above concept in her own illustrious way:
“It must not be supposed that the Logos is but a single centre of energy manifested from Parabrahmam; there are innumerable other centres...and their number is almost infinite in the bosom of Parabrahmam.' Hence the expressions, 'The Day of Come to us' and 'The Day of Be with us,' etc. Just as the square is the Symbol of the Four sacred Forces or Powers – Tetraktis – so the Circle shows the boundary within the Infinity that no man can cross, even in spirit, nor Deva nor Dhyan Chohan. The Spirits of those who 'descend and ascend' during the course of cyclic evolution shall cross the 'iron-bound world' only on the day of their approach to the threshold of Paranirvana.” …..............Secret Doctrine i 134
For the information of Christian believers, this resonates with the evolutionary trajectory proposed by Teilhard de Chardin as the Omega Point culminating in the Divine Logos. Teilhard argued that the Omega Point resembles the Christian Logos, namely Christ, who draws all things into himself, who in the words of the Nicene Creed, is "God from God," "Light from Light," "True God from true God," and "through him all things were made." In the Book of Revelation, Christ describes himself thrice as "the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." The Divine manifestation in the human nature of Krishna or Jesus must be referred as Krishna consciousness or Christ consciousness (Teilhard called this as Cosmic Christ). We dilute and distort this beautiful and spiritually empowering concept when we assign only the historical and physical dimension of a Divine manifestation.
In his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy “ Pope Benedict XVI, wrote:
“And so we can now say that the goal of worship and the goal of creation as a whole are one and the same—divinization, a world of freedom and love. But this means that the historical makes its appearance in the cosmic. The cosmos is not a kind of closed building, a stationary container in which history may by chance take place. It is itself movement, from its one beginning to its one end. In a sense, creation is history. Against the background of the modern evolutionary world view, Teilhard de Chardin depicted the cosmos as a process of ascent, a series of unions. From very simple beginnings the path leads to ever greater and more complex unities, in which multiplicity is not abolished but merged into a growing synthesis, leading to the “Noosphere”, in which spirit and its understanding embrace the whole and are blended into a kind of living organism. Invoking the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, Teilhard looks on Christ as the energy that strives toward the Noosphere and finally incorporates everything in its “fullness’. From here Teilhard went on to give a new meaning to Christian worship: the transubstantiated Host is the anticipation of the transformation and divinization of matter in the christological “fullness”. In his view, the Eucharist provides the movement of the cosmos with its direction; it anticipates its goal and at the same time urges it on.” (emphasis added by the book’s author)
Let every moment of our lives, which is a Divine gift for restoration of our true Divine nature, be spent in constant endeavor towards a sacrificial worship, making holy, through every thought, word and deed.

Love to you all

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Divine Dancer

"The mask, the costume, and the living of the role through to the end: by this device man detached himself from his personal pains and joys—just as a dancer does in a dance. Human life was literally sublimated, and man's body became, as it were, the vehicle of a god; that is to say, a symbol of the play of eternity in time." ………The Ecstasy of Being, Joseph Campbell
Only a person who could feel the emotions induced by mythology  deeply within himself could write these beautiful words.
This also resonates with what William Shakespeare spoke through the mouth of Jaques in “As You Like It”:
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.”
It is Joseph Campbell who identified that In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. a framework for all the life journeys of heroes in mythological stories.
Our life purpose is this adventure. We come to be victorious and to be transformed to return to our home.
Each one of us in this world are in a monomyth in our spiritual journey. The physical body is only a vehicle. This theme is common in many spiritual traditions.
In the Bhagavad Gita, the chariot as the body, the horses as the senses and the Divine charioteer clearly symbolizes the Divine instructions and guidance we receive in our physical and spiritual life through the path of Bhakti, Karma and Jnana to return to the Godhead.
The Merkabah mysticism of the Jewish mystic tradition signifies the vision of Ezekiel where he witnesses the glory of God carried in a chariot by four angels, four beings, four faces and driven on four wheels all signifying the four dimensional existence of the vehicle which is the manifest image of God. The image of the ‘Seraphim’, the angels that are in the images of flashing fire ascending and descending signifies the life force in the body of creation. The chariot itself is driven by the ‘likeness of man’ sitting of jeweled throne, signifying God as the prime mover.
Like the vision of Ezekiel, the duration of the human life is but brief. We do not see with the wisdom of Ezekiel the true revelation of life but get rooted in the outward sensory perceptions which reside in surface realities. As Campbell says; we devote our attention to the mask, the costume and the role that we take on that dominates our life. We do not pay attention to the inner self which is playing the role.
I have had the personal experience of how impressionist we can become. Once I was travelling on a flight from Chennai to Tiruchirappalli, which is a very short journey of forty minutes. One of the greatest film actor of the time, Sivaji Ganesan, was sitting in the front row. The plane, being a turboprop, had only about twenty rows of seat. Being a very illustrious actor many people struck up a conversation with him. I was amazed how his normal conversation was almost fully theatrical. I think this is what acting various roles for over 300 films can do to you. Imagine the roles we play every moment of our lives.
We forget who we are in reality and what is our origin and what is our destination. To illustrate this let me close this article with the quote from the sixth chapter of one of earliest Assyrian myths; “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. This chapter is aptly named “The Return”
“Utnapishtim said, ‘As for you, Gilgamesh, who will assemble the gods for your sake, so that you may find that life for which you are searching? But if you wish, come and put into the test: only prevail against sleep for six days and seven nights.' But while Gilgamesh sat there resting on his haunches, a mist of sleep like soft wool teased from the fleece drifted over him, and Utnapishtim said to his wife, ‘Look at him now, the strong man who would have everlasting life, even now the mists of sleep are drifting over him.' His wife replied, ‘Touch the man to wake him, so that he may return to his own land in peace, going back through the gate by which he came.' Utnapishtim said to his wife, ‘All men are deceivers, even you he will attempt to deceive; therefore bake loaves of bread, each day one loaf, and put it beside his head; and make a mark on the wall to number the days he has slept.'”
Utnapishtim is the man of wisdom and his wife symbolizes the prompter, our inner voice and she says: “…………., Touch the man to wake him, so that he may return to his own land in peace, going back through the gate by which he came.”
The gate through which we come is the entrance to our physical realm and our true waking up is the return to the land from where we came.

Love to you all

Monday, January 15, 2018

Metaphor of the Promised Land

Today the whole of America celebrates the “Martin Luther King” day.
 “And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out, or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man.” ………..Martin Luther King, a few days before he was martyred
Promised land is a metaphor for ecstatic spiritual experience.
Ecstasy comes from the Greek word ‘Ekstasis’ which means to "to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere". Let me digress a little here into Existential Philosophy where the sum total of one’s consciousness is the result of the exterior world through one’s senses and hence we always stand outside of ourselves. This then provides us with a situation where in to stand outside of oneself means outside of one’s objectively modulated consciousness. This is in contrast to the term ‘enstasis’ which means from "standing-within-oneself" which relates to contemplation from the perspective of a speculator. This therefore means that in ecstasy  one has to undertake a subjective experiential journey away from our usual psychic space. There is a double negation from a logical perspective. Hence we may conclude that in ecstasy, the removal to elsewhere, one has to move away from dualities.
This ‘elsewhere’ is the promised land. In our lives we are given glimpses of the promised land from time to time from mountain tops of spiritual experience. We ignore these wonderful moments thinking that the promised land lies in the future, in some heavenly reward.
When we read the Bible, we always attach the metaphorical reference to God’s promise of the promised land to Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses and the children of Israel to a geographical location. But this level of thinking comes from a low level of spiritual consciousness. If we examine the situation at various context we can see that Abraham, who was son of an idol maker, is taken to new land which is symbolic of new level of spiritual consciousness. When Abraham sets out from the land where he lived, the land was struck with severe famine, this is spiritual starvation, and he moves to the land of Egypt, which is a symbol of spiritual wisdom and abundance.
Why I make this claim is that the great depth psychologist, Carl Jung, assigns Egypt as the place of spiritual wisdom. In his book “The Seven Sermons to the Dead”, which is he writes in the name of Basilidas of Alexandria, he says,; Alexandria is the city where the East meets the west”. His very first lines of the first sermon says:
“The dead came back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought. They prayed me (Basilidas) let them in and besought my word, and thus I began my teaching.”
Jerusalem was notorious for a place desired by the worldly powers and has a materialistic significance.
The vision of the promised land is always from the mountain top, signifying a very level of spiritual consciousness. Moses was shown the promised land from Mount Nebo before he died.
It is apt for Jesus to manifest his Divine consciousness, through transfiguration, on mount Tabor.
Martin Luther King says: “………... I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
In everyone’s life we are shown the promised land. The experiences we have when we touch someone’s inner wellbeing, when we experience love and compassion, when we bestow an act of kindness without any expectations or when we behold the creation of the Divine on a clear dark night with millions of stars and the Milky Way arching on the vault of the sky, these are the glimpses of the Promised Land.
Fr. Richard Rohr, a great contemporary Franciscan theologian says:
“Even Pope John Paul II said at a Vatican conference on June 28, 1999 that heaven and hell were primarily eternal states of consciousness more than geographical places of later reward and punishment. We seem to be our own worst enemies, and we forget or deny things that are just too good to be true.”
Let enjoy heaven on earth like Gandhi, Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela and many other souls who had the vision of the promised land during their lives.
Love to you all.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Esoteric significance of “Rāsa Līla”

(Lord Krishna’s blissful dance with the 10 Gopīs)
“Go” (cow) in Sanskrit also stands for the 10 senses.
Gopīs refer to the devotional inclinations of the mind (citta-vtti in Yoga) that control, guard, protect, nourish and herd our senses. Lord Krishna is the Supreme Lord of the senses (Hṛṣikeśa).
Rādhā Rāni (personified love and devotion) and her 9 attendants direct all our 10 senses away from the impermanent world towards the Lord of the Senses, the only Eternal Blissful One. When every sense is directed towards the Lord, who is the supreme abode of ultimate bliss, “rasa” (nectar of bliss) starts to flow from our heart into our life. This is the esoteric significance of Rāsa Līla (the Divine Play). This divine play is being played in everybody’s heart (vaikuntha), but only the devotees can partake in the bliss after becoming aware of it.” ………….The Great Upanishads - FB
Citta-vtti occurs in the very beginning  of Patañjali's  Yoga Sutra. This stanza says: “Yoga citta-vtti nirodhah” which means the essence of Ashtanga Yoga is the removal of the modification of consciousness. The method is defined through the eight limbed path in the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali. In the above passage the very attributes that are needed to modify the mind or consciousness is illustrated through a symbolism of the “Rāsa Līla”. Lord Krishna is seen dancing simultaneously with Radha as well as with all the nine Gopīs. This is because Radha and the Gopīs are an integral part but different dimensions of the very nature of the Divine. The symbolism of these attributes is explained below.
Rādhā, is the personification of devotion and worship which signifies a deep personal bond between the creator and the manifested. This is the reason that she is the primary escort of the Lord and dances in the very centre of the manifestation of consciousness in the created world. This also denotes the all-pervasive nature of the Divine consciousness as an integral part of the manifested consciousness.
Gopālī  is the personification of the authentic nourisher of the senses. In this world, we are constantly nourished and fed by maya or illusion through various perceptions which are rooted in purely the external objective attributes of a deeper consciousness. If we remain rooted at this level we are not in a position to appreciate the holistic and interconnected and integral nature of every objective manifestation.
Pālikā is the guardian, protector, nourisher and signifies the constant vigil and protection that is needed to lead us into the deeper nature of the manifest world to seek the Divine union.
Dhanyā is the personification of the blessed one who has been bestowed with Divine Grace or wisdom. To ascend from the Muladhara or the earthly domain to the Sahasrara or the cosmic domain, not only our personal effort of elevating our consciousness through sadhana or spiritual exercises is needed but the assistance of the Divine in drawing up our intention into its own bosom is very much needed.
Viśākhā is the symbolism of a branchless, singular and focused attribute. It is the laser sharp intensity that penetrates the thick koshas or covering in which the supreme consciousness lies buried within us.
Dhaniṣṭhikā is the symbolism of spiritual wealth which is acquired through various spiritual exercises and constant practice of any form of Yoga, namely; Bhakti, Karma, Jnana or Raja Yoga.
Anurādhā  symbolizes the one that follows in worship. This is the qualification which opens up the path which lies hidden to the lower levels of consciousness.
Somā  is the attribute of the reflected radiance, soothing like the moon light. This is the first stage of the living a Divine presence in one self. As the moon, which though in direct contact with the Sun, provides the soothing light to lovers in the world, when one reflects the Divine presence he or she becomes an instrument of bond of all creation to the Divine.
Ābhā is the personification of a spiritual adept who has gained the radiance to illuminate the spiritual path which leads to the portal of eternal bliss and
Tārakā is the one that leads to the other side of the river. She symbolizes the boatman of Siddhartha who tells him:
"The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth...in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future...Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man [are] only separated by shadows, not through reality...Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence." …………Hermann Hesse in “Siddhartha”, Chapter 9.
Let this beautiful symbolism lead us to deeply understand the impermanence of the world and our own eternal nature.

Love to you all

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Giving Birth to a Deeper Wisdom

When the new Sufi master came to Baghdad from his native Nishapur, in Khorasan, his fame had long preceded him. He had a great reputation for his high spirituality and his own approach to ‘Ishan’ (“perfection”), but also a reputation for his unorthodox methods of teaching. A small group of aspiring disciples, all well dressed and well behaved, and with pious demeanour, had gathered at the inn to welcome him, but also even teachers and students from the nearby university gathered at the inn. As time passed, the crowd was growing impatient. The sheik certainly took his time.
As always on such occasions, among the expectant crowd there were also beggars and bums and other bystanders. One of them turned out to be particularly annoying. All in rags, unkempt beyond description, and smelling badly of wine. The bum inching his way closer to the pious-looking, anxiety-ridden disciples. Taking his time, between hiccups, he examined them intently, one by one, which made the boys even more nervous: the last thing they wanted was to be found out by the great master in such unholy proximity.
Thank goodness, it now appeared that the bum was drifting away. As he was doing so, however, he addressed himself to the embarrassed youth, in such sober, educated Persian that their prayer beads suddenly froze in the palms of their hands: I’ve come for nothing, methinks. What am I to teach you? By the looks of you, you’ve all reached a state of purity compared to which I am nothing. My ways are messy, my teachings tentative, and my quest, far from pure, always gets entangled with my flesh, with my earthiness and my complicated commerce with the world. I am a failure, whereas you — just look at you! — you seem to dwell with the angels already! Now, if you will excuse me … And, with that, he slipped out of the inn. It was then, the story adds, that people at the inn realized that the sheik they had been waiting for had just left them.
A beautiful story to celebrate Christmas. When Christ was born he had no place even in the inn and his place on earth was in a stable within the proximity of animals and as the Bible says he was wrapped in whatever ragged clothe that was available. While Christ lived on this earth, he was not seen with the Pharisees, who were considered wise, but he was seen with the poor, tax collector, the sick, the out castes of society like the Samaritans and people who needed his touch and wisdom.
Today, we live in a world that celebrates surface values, the clothes we wear, the makeup we apply, the degrees that we acquire, the position and power we hold etc. But the most important thing always slips our attention. Namely acquiring wisdom. This wisdom is not the wisdom of the books or intellectual mastery but wisdom of a meaningful life rooted in humanity and in Divine image
There are two types of intellectual knowledge one can acquire. The first, which predominates in the world today through science and technology, is knowledge which exploits the ecosystem and human beings. This type of knowledge has resulted in creating extreme inequality and destruction of the ecosystem.
The second type of knowledge can be acquired through a deeper understanding of the biodiversity, the interrelationship between all existence and the responsibility that we have through our evolved level of consciousness to safeguard, protect and enrich the life of all creation.
In his path breaking encyclical Pope Francis has brought out this very well:
“In this universe, shaped by open and intercommunicating systems, we can discern countless forms of relationship and participation. This leads us to think of the whole as open to God’s transcendence, within which it develops. Faith allows us to interpret the meaning and the mysterious beauty of what is unfolding. We are free to apply our intelligence towards things evolving positively, or towards adding new ills, new causes of suffering and real setbacks. This is what makes for the excitement and drama of human history, in which freedom, growth, salvation and love can blossom, or lead towards decadence and mutual destruction.” …………Laudato Si - Chapter 2 section 79
Jane Goodall studied the Chimpanzees in Congo most of her life and she says:
“Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.”
Dr. E. O. Wilson, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology at Harvard University and called "the father of sociobiology" and "the father of biodiversity" Is an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author who spent nearly 40 years in the Amazon forest researching on the leaf cutting ants writes:
"I think we ought to have another go at the Enlightenment and use that as a common goal to explain and understand ourselves, to take that self-understanding which we so sorely lack as a foundation for what we do in the moral and political realm. This is a wonderful exercise.“
Let our celebration of Christmas take on a new meaning - as a celebration of a new birth of this holistic awareness and our responsibility as the empowering consciousness and truly as a creation which is in Divine image.
Love to you all

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Birth – Fully Savouring the Moment

The Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches this wisdom through the ceremony and meditation of tea (a Buddhist parallel to the Christian Eucharist):
“You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy. If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone. Life is like that. If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it. Worrying is worthless. When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment. Then you will begin to experience joy in life.”
Recently when I was in our ancestral village my chauffeur asked me why people in the village, in olden times, lived up to a very ripe old age without all the new diseases which are prevalent today. My answer was very simple, there was no pollution and then he said our village also has no pollution, the air is sharp, there is food and water. The answer to this is the following part of my article.
Pollution comes in many forms. It is not only what we generally categorize as ; air, water and food. Even in villages we have lost the art of providing snacks for children. The wholesome nutritious peanuts and sprouted beans have been replaced with packaged snacks which are very tasty but unhealthy. Milk which used to be plenty in our village is replaced with milk from the milk vendour of questionable quality. Water for drinking comes from bottled water. The second type of pollution is noise pollution. It is not the audible noise but the high frequency communication noise from mobile phones to TV screens. In cramped houses the children sit hardly a few feet away from the screen. The visual contents of television leaves much to be desired as it puts extremely high stress at the psychological level especially for young children. The third type of pollution is the stress pollution. Irrespective of wherever we are, whether in the village or the city, There are innumerable causes, such as family, social, religious, work place and personal expectations, which induce high levels of stress.
Practically no one lives without stress. These stresses are injected into individual from self-imposed expectations over which one has no control except the subject experiencing the stress.
Hence wherever we are we live in a highly polluted environment. This does not mean that we have to run away looking for a clean environment. This is impossible as we are the creators of the environment and wherever we go we take this environment with us. There is nice episode told to novices in meditation.
A young Buddhist monk in Tibet went to his master and asked him to teach him a very deep level of meditation which he saw the master practice. His master could sit for hours without any lack of concentration. Knowing the sincerity of the aspirant, the master taught him for many years but warned him that he could only guide him and it is up to him to master this intense spiritual practice. It was then, there arose a vacancy in a monastery in Kolkata for a monk to guide the spiritual seekers. The master assigned the task and told the young monk, who told his master that he has made great progress, to take up the position in Kolkata. On reaching the monastery in Kolkata and after a few weeks the monk called up his master in Tibet and told him that he could not meditate as there was too much noise in the environment. The advice the master gave him was that the noise was not in the environment but in the young monk’s mind.
This episode tells us that if we are not totally awake to each moment on what we are, whether drinking a cup of tea or juggling with any task given to us in the process of life, we allow the exterior pollution to dominate.
It is worth reflecting how time is defined in our life. We measure time in a calibrated way and keep track of it in our mind and generate our past and future with their associated worries and anxieties. If we live in the moment, time becomes highly nonlinear. With practice the graph of time becomes an inverted parabola or inverted bell curve from a straight line, which practically every one of us experience. Masters, like Buddha, who practiced extreme mindfulness are able to experience infinity. This is the great truth why infinite wisdom is hidden in the present moment.
In the Gospel of Thomas in Saying 18  Christ says:
The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Christ said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."
The end will be where the beginning is …..will not taste death. What a beautiful way of defining how to live in the present moment. Every moment is a birth of the Self and the true meaning of celebrating Christmas is to birth this renewed consciousness in our lives.

Love to you all

Friday, December 8, 2017

Lesson from Phaethon Myth

Phaethon, the son of the Greek sun god Helios. Ancient myths told the story of how this rather insecure-sounding young god was challenged to prove he was related to Helios, who was said to pull the sun across the sky
To prove his divine provenance, Phaethon decided to have a go in his dad’s chariot and was unable to control the horses, who then ran wild across the sky dragging the hot sun with them. Humanity was almost destroyed in the subsequent chaos, which scorched the Earth, burned vast amounts of vegetation and created the great deserts of Africa. The Earth was only spared when Zeus blasted the horses with a thunderbolt, killing Phaethon in the process. Here’s what the Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the myth in his famous work, Timaeus:
“There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. ‘There is a story that even you [Greeks] have preserved, that once upon a time, Phaethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt.”
This myth resonated with what we are doing to ourselves through shallow thoughts and reasoning in the area of development of technology and sustainability of the ecosystem.
Let us take for an example the use of fossil fuel such as coal, oil and gas which are drawn out of the very innards of the earth. These resources have developed over millions of years and the unbridled rate at which we are consuming these resources is equal to the action of Phaethon in driving the horses of Helios in the Greek mythology. A deep reflection will point out that it took the Sun’s energy millions of years to convert decaying vegetation into deposits which is utilized not only to conserve and convert nature’s waste into useful structures of trapping the latent energy but contain the pollution of the atmosphere. By burning the fossil fuel and converting its energy content at a rapid rate, we have polluted the atmosphere with greenhouse gas such as Carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide.
There is a saying in the 12th century wisdom traditions of the Iroquois tribe of native Indians of America which states as follows:
“The Seventh Generation philosophy mandates that tribal decision makers consider the effects of their actions and decisions for descendants seven generations into the future. There should a clear understanding that everything we do has consequences for something and someone else, reminding us that we are all ultimately connected to creation.”
The irresponsibility with which we approached the technical development in the Industrial age has to give way for more eco-sensitive and life oriented decisions in future developments of science and technology and our own responsibility to the entire ecosystem.
Like Phaethon, we have not evaluated our core strengths and the holistic thinking and skills needed to control the vehicle which has tremendous potential to destroy the whole of humanity.
The thunderbolt of Zeus is the ethical and moral principles which destroys all devious paths and keeps us on the straight and narrow. It is the ethical and moral principles on which every decision in future technology development has to take place. Be it in the development of Artificial Intelligence or Gene manipulation, the extreme foresight that is needed to guide us should take a front seat. This is the reason why today we are talking of Spirituality Based Leadership. Spirituality is not a my belief system but the acute awareness of our connectedness to the entire cosmos.
In the spiritual Vedic tradition the symbolism of the chariot and horses are again brought out as to why one should develop a singular focus, as was the strength and capability of Helios, who could keep the horses in tight control so that the Atman or Soul which is symbolized by effulgent Sun could trace the correct path. I quote the verses from the Katha Upanishad:
“Know the Atman as the Lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot; know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind again as the reins. They say, the senses are the horses and their objects are the roads; the Atman, the senses and the mind united, the wise call the enjoyer. He who has no discrimination and whose mind is always uncontrolled, his senses are not controllable like vicious horses of a driver. But he who has understanding and whose mind is always controlled, his senses are under control like good horses of a driver. But he, who has no discrimination, and whose mind is not under control, and who is always impure, does not reach that goal, but enters into the round of births and deaths.” ………..Katha Upanishad Chapter 1 Section 3 Verses 3-7.
The lesson we learn from the myth of Phaethon and from the symbolism of the scriptures should takes us into deep reflection.

Love to you all.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Free Thinker – An outcast from Society

“I was strolling in the gardens of an insane asylum when I met a young man who was reading a philosophy book. His behaviour and his evident good health made him stand out from the other inmates. I sat down beside him and asked:
‘What are you doing here?’ He looked at me, surprised. But seeing that I was not one of the doctors, he replied:
‘It’s very simple. My father, a brilliant lawyer, wanted me to be like him. My uncle, who owns a large emporium, hoped I would follow his example. My mother wanted me to be the image of her beloved father. My sister always set her husband before me as an example of the successful man. My brother tried to train me up to be a fine athlete like himself.
And the same thing happened at school, with the piano teacher and the English teacher – they were all convinced and determined that they were the best possible example to follow. None of them looked at me as one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.
So I decided to enter this asylum. At least here I can be myself.” ……………..Kahlil Gibran
This is an apt story for what happens in society even today. Our education system, our parenting  and social milieu are all out to get the individual to be modelled after their own perceived identity of being that which suits us.
This mindset has evolved in our society due to two reasons. The first reason is the prevailing religious influence of western religions which played a powerful role till the 18th century. The unquestionable imposed belief system and the concept of that human beings are powerless entities requiring hierarchical power structure to dictate what is good for them created a society of mental slaves. 
The second reason is; with the advent of scientific achievements from Galileo to the 20th century, the authority of the scientific knowledge started to assert its influence. In classical Newtonian thinking, the first law of Newton states that “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” This classical mechanical billiard ball model imposed the need for a higher level of external energy to convert inherent potential to a well-directed destination.
Recent scientific studies in biology has discovered that there is an inherent potential bestowed on every living system and this potential has the unique capacity to emerge as its own kinetic energy capable of propelling itself toward its full realization in an act of co-creation, this is called “Autopoieses”.
This lack of understanding leads to imposition of an external will in moulding the inherent potential and results in stunted growth or decay. As Humberto Maturana, the Chilean  Biologist, Cybernetician, Scientist  and philosopher says:
“Only love expands intelligence. To live in love is to accept the other and the conditions of his existence as a source of richness, not as opposition, restriction or limitation.”
This open acceptance of the other as he or she is, is the process of nurturing free thinking, thereby opening the flood gates of one’s individual intelligence and creative capacity.
In spiritual traditions, Buddhism encouraged free inquiry. Buddha believed that every individual had his or her own path to enlightenment.
In “Kalama Sutta” - The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry, the Buddha says:
"Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumour; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blameable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.”
This advice is given by Buddha, not only for the self but also for those who come under your influence.
Let us be free thinkers and allow the full freedom for others to benefit from their own inner reflection.

Love to you all 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Crippling Self Deception

Why does the vast majority of people in this world believe in a very limited perception of GOD. This anthropocentric view evolved through ignorance and fear. God has been assigned an unassailable objective domain.
"Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of 'I know.' Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its dogmas." ………….Eckhart Tolle
Today, when we have solid knowledge on the vastness of the universe, with the latest count of two trillion (2,000,000,000,000) galaxies, each with billions of stars, what is so special about humans that God has the task of minding our business. There could be billions or trillion of conscious beings in this cosmic creation and yet through our egoistic mental attitude we think we are special.
We ignore our teaching when we say God is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Christ said "the kingdom of heaven is within you" and It is only through this power of God, which arises from the level of cosmic consciousness, that man is able to fathom the depth of the Universe and recently come to the conclusion that our universe itself may be one of 10500 (10 followed by 500 zeros) universes, which is described as the Multiverse.
As a young person, before I entered college, I had a strange experience which taught me a big lesson in life. I was studying for four years wanting to take up a life of dedication to serve as a priest in the Catholic tradition. But due to my ill-health and a very intrusive questioning on some matters which were on the imprimatur list, I was told that I had some other calling in life.
It was at this juncture, feeling totally lost, I returned home to my very disappointed parents. I was told that I should take the council of a Capuchin priest, who was our distant relation,  and went to meet him at an ashram on the banks of river Caveri.  I had not called him for any appointment as there were no facility at home to make a telephone call. I landed up at the ashram and found that this venerable priest had gone for the last rites of a dying man and would return in about an hour. To while away the time and being a warm afternoon, I decided to go and sit by the river bank. At the place I sat, the river bed was about three feet below my dangling feet and the water’s edge was six feet away. I was so depressed that I shut my eyes and was lost in a flood of thoughts about what the future was in store for me. I must have spent about thirty minutes in this confused contemplation. I was suddenly woken up by the cool waters touching my feet. Then a sudden thought flashed across my mind. “Go with the flow”. Feeling more positive I got up and went back to the ashram and found that Fr. John of the Cross, the man I had come to meet has come back and I called on him. I had earlier played chess with him and he taught me some very good opening moves. When I told him the purpose of my visit. He said “Life is very vast and there are many paths to take. You are good in chess so you are a good logical thinker, so take engineering or science for your college studies and do not stop learning. Flow like a river.” When he concluded, I felt a shiver run down my spine. This synchronized Divine touch which was bestowed by the river and then by this venerable priest launched me on this wonderful path.
To be very sincere, I had never prayed for Divine guidance on choosing my path but I am sure that this guidance came from a deep unfathomable source.
Why I bring out this experience is that we are very limited when we get locked into the prison of externally dictated guidance. This is like a swimmer getting caught in a whirlpool or vortex. He or she has no freedom and cannot take the many paths that the open waters offers. You get drowned in the misery of a false sense of hope that somehow the answers would come from out of the waters, a helping hand from heaven.
Christ sum up the concept of the Heavenly kingdom as follows:
"If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." ……….Gospel of Thomas, Saying 3
The vastness of the multiverse proves to us the infinite domain of the Divine and as individual perceivers of this vast domain, it is simply not possible to have this perception unless it comes from our own internal unmitigated source.
The allegorical story of Satyakama Jabala in chapter IV of Chandogya Upanishad is a wonderful narration to illustrate this deep listening and learning.
When Satyakama Jabala, who was the son of a courtesan, went to learn the Vedas from a Sage, the Sage, seeing his truthfulness, does not want to impart the ultimate knowledge of the Vedas in the Gurukulam along with the other students but sends Satyakama to tend four hundred cows, and come back when they multiply into a thousand. The symbolic legend then presents conversation of Satyakama with nature, with the bull, the birds and fire, to grasp the deep truth of the nature Brahman (the metaphysical ultimate reality – here symbolically represented by the thousand cows).
Let us open up our minds and move away from given belief system and analyse critically the truth hidden around us, especially in mythologies and ancient sayings and by learning to listen deeply to mother nature.

Love to you all.