Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sanctuary in All Creation

“As the World-Honoured One was walking with a congregation he pointed to the ground with his finger and said, "This spot is good to build a sanctuary." Indra, emperor of the gods, took a blade of grass, stuck it in the ground and said, "The sanctuary is built." The World-Honoured One smiled.”

………….Zen ‘Book of Equanimity’: Koan 4

Limitless in your divine choice,
A lowly entity you take to hand,
Then moulding with infinite wisdom,
You shape a colossal golden body,
A chalice of virtuous attributes,
You then plant and nurture him,
A mastermind in his own domain.
Every creation a purpose serves,
No matter how insignificant its role be.

Upon reading the above sited Koan from the ‘Book of Equanimity’, I wrote this verse. Koans send powerful messages to the seeker of truth.
Sanctuary has multiple meanings. A sanctuary is the consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar. An animal sanctuary is a place where animals live and are protected. In modern parlance the term is used to mean a place of safety. The Buddha, walking with his disciples, probably meant to indicate a place for the sangha where the protected atmosphere can be conducive for the teacher and the taught, a sacred place for seeking one’s own enlightenment.
It takes the divine mind of Indra to understand the meaning of what the holy one was trying to convey. In a simple and everyday act of making a blade of grass to sprout, he demonstrates the meaning that there need be no specific space-time to realise the absolute truth.

Coming to the verse, all creations are essentially from the very same fundamental constituent; namely vibrating energy. There are only 35,000 types of genes in every human being but yet the complexity of this life form is incomprehensible. Right from the genius of Einstein to the evil dictator of Hitler, from the spiritual masters like Jesus to the demonic Autocrat like Idi Amin, it is the same combination of genes. Yet the level of consciousness is so different.
Yeast, a lowly substance and a very simple life form, contains approximately 6000 genes which is one sixth of the human genome. Examine the functional spread at these two ends of the spectrum and we are left awe struck. But every creation has a purpose and discrimination based on the role we play is worst alienation that can happen to intended divine or cosmic plan. A blade of grass sprouting takes as much divine intervention as that is required for a disciple to achieve enlightenment.

Knowing this great truth the Buddha smiled.

Love to you all

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Conditioning Verbal Action

If you are tempted to reveal
A tale to you someone has told
About another, make it pass,
Before you speak three gates of gold.
These narrow gates: first, “Is it true”
Then, “Is it needful? In your mind
Give truthful answer. And the next
Is last and narrower, “Is it kind?”
And if so reach your lips at last
It passes through these gateways three,
Then you may tell the tale, not fear
What the result of speech may be.
…….. Ancient Arab saying

In his teachings the great Buddha said:
“And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty, if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world. Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord. Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large. Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma (teachings), & the Vinaya (Discipline). He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal. This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.”
….. Anguttara Nikaya 10.176

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean’…….. Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'” … Matthew 15:10-20

Let extreme care be taken as to what comes out of our mouth, for no power on earth or in heaven can erase the effect it has on the receiver. Let our speech be like the narrow beam of light, highly focused and effective.

Love to you all

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

Today is the festival of Ganesh Chathurthi. A day to worship the God who removes all obstacles.During my recent visit to Norwich, U.K, my daughter and her troupe performed a dance drama “Shiva’s third eye” in classical Bharathanatyam style. The story is very relevant to today’s festival and tells how Ganesha got his elephant head.
The story goes as follows:
“Though Ganesha considered as son of Shiva and Parvati, the Matsya Purana, Shiva Purana, and Skanda Purana ascribe the birth of Ganesha to Parvati only, without any form of participation of Shiva in Ganesha's birth.
Once, while Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste with which she was preparing to cleanse her body, and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated and severed Ganesha's head with his trishula (trident). When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very angry and sad. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once. Unfortunately, Shiva's trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha's head so far off that it could not be found. Finally, an elephant's head was attached to Ganesha's body, bringing him back to life.”

There is a great spiritual revelation in this story.
First, Ganesha symbolizes a pure Sakthi (energy) creation. It denotes that every creation is untainted and pure. This is the ‘Original Blessing’ that Christian mystic Matthew Fox talks about in propounding his philosophy of creation.
Second, Ganesha fails to recognize the divine arrival (consciousness) in the act of denying access to Shiva, the true consort of Sakthi (Parvati). This is the ego dominated state of consciousness which becomes rooted in action oriented awareness.
Third, Shiva’s act of decapitating Ganesha denotes the removal of the ego dominated human mind. The human mind has become conditioned through evolutionary consciousness not to recognize the divinity that is present close to us and within us. True divine action totally eradicates the ego, symbolized here by the human head being dispatched to a location where it can not be found and
Fourth, is the act of bestowing of an elephant head by Shiva, the deity who bestows higher and transformative consciousness through his third eye.
The myths involving Elephant have profoundly influenced humanity through history. In depth psychology, dreams filled with Elephant carry messages of transformation and spiritual power. Elephant in one’s dreams can signify the emergence of one’s Highest True Self. The Self, deep within the Collective Unconscious, only emerges when one has done one’s shadow work and integrated the contents of the Unconscious with Conscious Mind. This cannot be done by oneself, but is a sign of the Grace of the Divine and gift of Love of the As Above.

This whole episode is a beautiful depiction of transformation towards higher consciousness. This is the reason that Ganesha is offered a primal place of worship so that he removes all the impediments due to our ego so that we can approach the divine for offering our supplications.

Love to you all

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Curse of the Fig Tree

“Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.".” …. Matthew 21: 18-22

This is one of the difficult passages to explain in the Bible. A number of questions come to our mind.
Joseph Chilton Pearce, the Neuro-cardiologist and author of books like “Biology of Transcendence” says “it’s interesting that, Jesus never, he never cursed either the Pharisee or the phonies on the one hand nor did he curse the Roman soldiers on the other. He cursed the barren fig tree. What does this mean? All he asks is that you take your life force and you give it to the life force.” Bearing fruit means living to one’s full created potential.

The Pharisees were doing what they are supposed to do namely; uphold the Laws of Moses to the letter as they were taught. Though they could not elevate themselves beyond literal interpretation they were giving their life force to the assigned role. The Roman soldiers and Governor were doing their job of imposing the rule of Rome in the territories they had conquered. The fig tree symbolises every created consciousness. But the fig tree, according to the Jewish Encyclopaedia a symbol of the coming of the Messiah, was created to bear fruit so that it could seed a veritable growth of divine consciousness. Once it had failed to comply with it ordained destiny, its existence is meaningless. This is the reason that Jesus imposes a curse on the fig tree.

The conversation that follows with the apostles is of great importance. Every human being has a dual purpose in his creation. The first is the evolution in the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual domain towards a higher potentiality (human role). The second is the altruistic role of an empowering agent of change of humanity towards a higher level of consciousness (divine role of drawing all creation to the Godhead). Jesus’ curse and making the fig tree wither demonstrates the operation of the second role of weeding out non messianic elements from creation. This is the role of every true apostle. We have the responsibility of what John the Baptist did in preparation for Jesus ministry.
“It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"-- "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'” …… Mark 1: 2-3

Every negative element in our lives, the fruitless trees and the mountains of impediment in our spiritual progress, can be rooted out if we have deep faith in our ‘creation assigned’ messianic role and if we constantly intercede, through inner awareness, to the spirit that dwells in us all.

Love to you all

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Song of the Chosen One

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”
…… Luke 1: 46-54

Him none by hearing know; He knoweth no decay;
He hath no kin; naught asking, heareth all!
While people of the land beheld, here on this earth
to me, a cur, He gave a royal seat;
To me, a dog, all things not shown before, He showed;
all things not heard before, He caused to hear;
And guarding me from future ' birth,' He made me His.
Such is the wondrous work our Lord hath wrought for me
………. Tamil poem Thiruvasagam Ch 3: 28

Both the songs glorify the spirit whose awareness makes the ordinary into an extraordinary entity.
The first song by Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the spontaneous outpouring of joy and gratitude when she greets her cousin Elizabeth. Elisheva, the Hebrew name, means “my God is abundance”. The abundance of blessings and privilege that Mary has received is vocalized through this song. When one opens the door of a room that has burning incense, the smell immediately pervades the entire ambience. So also when we open up our heart’s door to the ever present Spirit there is a fulfilment that only a person who has the keen inner awareness can sense.
This is the reason that the great Tamil poet Manikavasagar sings “Him none by hearing know”. This is to imply the utter futility of seeking the divine through our worldly senses.
It is only divine grace that finds us. Even to lead us to the door which has to be opened to let the divine fragrance to migrate into one’s soul, the divine wisdom has to guide us.

In this world we have immutable laws of nature such as heat always flows from a hot to a cold object when brought in contact. So also water flows from a higher to a lower plane. This is the reason that Spirit chooses the humble and lowly state of a person to be a prerequisite for operation. Mary says “for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant ……… he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” and Manikavasagar says “To me, a dog, all things not shown before, He showed; all things not heard before, He caused to hear”

15th August is always celebrated in the Christian calendar as the feast of “Mary’s Assumption”
The elevated state of Mary, both by the divine spirit and by the church today, is because of her humility and the willingness to let go so that the divine plan can become operative.
This is what we must do in our own lives so that we can sing along with Manikavasagar “And guarding me from future ' birth,' He made me His. Such is the wondrous work our Lord hath wrought for me”

Love to you all

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

State of a Divine Lover

“Happy are the days of them that are infatuated by love for Him, whether they be sorrowed by separation from Him or made joyous by His presence.
They are mendicants who fly from worldly sovereignty; in the hope of meeting Him they are patient in their mendicity. Oft have they drunk of the wine of anguish; be it bitter, they remain silent. In the remembrance of Him patience is not bitter, for wormwood is sweet from the hand of a friend.
They that are captive in the coils of His love seek not to escape; they suffer reproach, but are monarchs in the seclusion of their meditation, and their way is not known. They are like the temple of Jerusalem, splendid of which is the interior, but whose outer wall is left in ruin.
Like moths, they burn themselves in the fire of love. Their beloved is in their breasts, yet do they seek Him; though near a fountain, their lips are parched.”....from Gulistan by Sadi (1184-1283)

The state of a divine lover is enumerated in various spiritual traditions. The longing for Krishna by the Gopis (cowherds) is beautifully depicted in Gita Govindam by Jeyadeva. The Song of Solomon eulogises the beauty of divine wisdom (Sophia). Though there is joy and sorrow through association or dissociation from the Godhead, it is only in removing oneself from the trappings of this world and becoming a mendicant or beggar in the eyes of the material world, one can reach a state of feeling the presence or absence of the divine alter ego.
In this state of existence anguish becomes a bitter potion and patience and silence are stages of preparation for the ultimate encounter with the divine. The bitter vinegar that Jesus drank symbolizes the rejection by the world of a spiritual seeker and the silence before the Roman authority a deep void between the illusion of earthly existence and the true nature of the Spirit.
Sadi beautifully captures the state of the divine lover as one who is pleasurably captures in the entwining coils of God’s love. The seclusion they achieve in meditating upon the Lord is the equivalent of the dance of the Gopis in Brindhvan, the Rasa Lila which takes place in the heart of every true devotee. It is an inner state or beauty. The last two sentences in the above quote; “Like moths, they burn themselves in the fire of love. Their beloved is in their breasts, yet do they seek Him; though near a fountain, their lips are parched” can be understood better if we look to Narada Bhakti Sutra 23, which says “displays of devotion without knowledge of God's greatness are no better than the affairs of illicit lovers”

We can learn the deeper meaning of this Sutra from the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We learn that all the Gopis had spiritual bodies. This is another proof that Krishna's pastimes with the Gopis are supramundane. When Krishna played His flute in Vrndavana on the full-moon night of the autumn season, the Gopis went to Him in their spiritual bodies. Many of these Gopis are eternal companions of Krishna, and when He exhibits His transcendental pastimes within the material world, they come with Him. They are like the moth that singes itself in the flame and is desirous of becoming the flame.
But some of the Gopis who joined Krishna’s pastimes within this material world came from the status of ordinary human beings. By always thinking of Krishna as their beloved, they became purified of all material contamination and elevated to the same status as the eternally liberated Gopis. These are the categories of souls that are longing for union that are near the fountain yet with parched lips.

Love to you all

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ultimate Consumer

The Eater (is Brahman), because both the movable and immovable (i.e. the whole Universe) is taken (as His food). …. Brahma Sutra I.2.9

In Prasna Upanishad, Sage Pippalada answer the first question put to him by Kabandhi on the nature of birth of all things. The sage’s reply also explains the verse sited above.
He said:
“The Lord of all creatures became desirous of progeny. He deliberated on knowledge. Having brooded on that knowledge, He created a couple – food and Prana – under the idea, “These two will produce creatures for me in multifarious ways.”
….Prasna Upanishad 1:4 .In Sanskrit 'rayi' means matter or food and is feminine and 'Prana' means life and is masculine.
The emergence of duality of the Godhead is explained. Food and prana are defined the role of the consumed and the consumer.

A passage from the Kathopanishad can now be taken up for discussion. We read in
Kathopanishad I.2.25:
“Who then knows where He is, to whom the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas are (as it were) but food, and death itself a condiment?”

This text shows by means of the words ‘food’ and ‘condiment’ that there is some eater. Who is this eater? Is it the fire referred to in as eater:
“Soma indeed is food, and fire eater”………….. Brihadaranyake Upanishad I.4.6.

Or is it individual soul referred to as eater “Two birds living together, each the friend of the other, perch upon the same tree. Of these two, one eats the sweet fruit of the tree, but the other simply looks on without eating.”… Mundaka Upanishad III.1.1.

Swami Krishananda in his commentary of this verse says:
“The two birds are the Jiva and Isvara, both existing in an individual compared to a tree. They exist together as the reflection and the original. They both manifest themselves in different ways in every individual. From the characteristics of the Jiva it is possible to infer the nature of Isvara, and from the nature of Isvara it is possible to determine the potentialities of the Jiva. Both the Jiva and Isvara have a common substratum which is Brahman and which is the reality of both.”
Hence the eater is Brahman and the food is the totality of manifestation.

This is the reason that the Brahma Sutra mentions the ‘what is movable and what is immovable’ as the two aspects of manifestation namely; Jiva and Isvara. Jiva is moved and moulded aspect of creation while the Isvara is the in indestructible aspect of the same creation. The entire universe is re-absorbed in Brahman. All things movable and immovable are here to be taken as constituting the food of Brahman while Death itself is the condiment. The eater of the whole world, the consumer of all these things in their totality can be Brahman alone and none else.

This thought is reflected in Jesus saying "No one comes to the Father; but through me" .... John 14:6. Most often this is explained as a process of salvation but the deeper truth is; Jesus is the material manifestation of the divinity which is the Father. All material manifestations have a destiny of final merger with divinity which has created it from itself. This is again beautifully explained in the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene "The Saviour said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots." .... Ch 4:22

Love to you all

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Truth – A Divine Process

“My dear one, do not be overly troubled,
No one can burn the truth....
The words symbolize my marvelous Godhead.
It flows continuously
Into your soul from my divine mouth.
The sound of the words is a sign of my living spirit
And through it achieves genuine truth.
Now examine all these words---
How admirably do they proclaim my personal secrets!
So have no doubts about yourself.”
……. Mechthild of Magdeburg

Mechthild was a German medieval mystic and Benedictine Catholic nun who, in the thirteenth century, had a great insight into true spirituality. She wrote ‘The flowing light of the Godhead’ and the above passage is taken from this book. It is said that she was the inspiration for Dante to write ‘The Divine Comedy’

The above passage reflects the anguish of all true seekers and their experience of being marginalized and discarded. This fate was suffered by even the most enlightened souls. Most prophets of the Israelites were cast out and had to fend for themselves. This is the reason that Jesus says “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”… Luke 9:58
Realized Truth is a difficult entity to digest as the current status of the human psyche blocks this new level of consciousness. Every person who understands a deeper level of truth immediately becomes isolated from the mainstream due to non conformance to existent perceived reality. In modern times, this rejection happened to Galileo, Bruno, Teilhard Chardin and many more scientists, philosophers and thinkers. This is why in her vision Mechthild is consoled by God “My dear one, do not be overly troubled, No one can burn the truth....”

Truth is not a commodity. It is a plenum of existence from which the divine spirit flows. It is the outpouring of spiritual essence into all creation and manifestation. From a potency of existence into an actuality of form. This is the reason that the ‘word’ which is pre-existent in thought is given a form or meaning only in utterance through the ‘sound’ and is given as a process map for divine communication. This is the simple way of putting it in a human language. As the recipient of divine communication, the human soul once aware and tuned to this fundamental process, realizes in its innermost being what the sound and the words really mean. The words are the cosmic potentialities and the sound or emanation is its deeper manifestations known only to a realized soul.

In the few lines, describing her vision in which God speaks to her, Mechthild reveals a great principle.

Love to you all

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Message of the Thunder

Swami Krishnanada expounding on the three virtues set out in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:

“On one occasion the gods, the human beings and the demons all observed self-restraint, Brahmacharya, Tapasya and austerity for the sake of gaining knowledge from the Creator. Having observed great austerity they went to Brahma, the Creator Himself, and said, "Give us instruction."

They went in Three groups. One group of the celestials, the gods, denizens of Indra-loka, paradise, who enjoy all sorts of pleasures, second the men of this earth plane, and third the demons, extremely cruel in their nature. To the gods he said, "I give you instruction. Listen! Da." He said but one word, "Da". "Do you understand what I say?" "Yes, we understand." "Very good! So, follow this instruction." Then he looked to the human beings, "Do you want instruction from me?" "Yes!" "Da," he said again. "Do you follow what I say?" "Yes, we understand." "Very good! Now go and follow this instruction." Then the demons were called and he said "Da" to the demons also, and the demons, like the others said, "Yes, we have understood what it is." "Go and follow this instruction." To all the three he told the same thing, but the meaning was taken differently by the different groups. "Da, Da, Da," he said. That is all he spoke.
The celestials, the people in paradise, are supposed to be revelling in pleasures of sense. They are fond of enjoyment. There is no old age there. There is no sweating, no toiling, no hunger, no thirst, no drowsiness and nothing untoward as in this world. It is all pleasure and pleasure, honey flowing everywhere in paradise. They are addicted to too much enjoyment. So the instruction to those people was Da-'Dāmyata'. In Sanskrit Dāmyata means, restrain yourself. Dāmyata comes from the word Dam, to restrain. Subdue your senses. Do not go too much in the direction of the enjoyment of the senses. That was 'Da' to the celestials. Kama is to be controlled by self-restraint.

Human beings are greedy. They want to grab everything. Hoarding is their basic nature. "I want a lot of money"; "I have got a lot of land and property"; "I want to keep it with myself"; "I do not want to give anything to anybody". This is how they think. So, to them 'Da' meant Datta - 'give in charity'. Do not keep with you more than what you need. Do not take what you have not given. Do not appropriate what does not belong to you. All these are implied in the statement - be charitable. Charitable not only in material giving but also in disposition, in feeling, in understanding and in feeling the feelings of others. So, to the human beings this was the instruction - Datta, give, because they are not prepared to give. They always want to keep. Greed is to be controlled by charity.

And to the demons, who are very cruel, who always insult, injure and harm other people 'Da' meant Dayadhvam - be merciful to others. The third 'Da' means Dayadhvam - be merciful. Do not be cruel and hard-hearted. Demons are hard-hearted people. They eat, swallow, destroy and demolish everything. Anger is to be controlled by mercy. So, these three letters Da, Da, Da instructed three types of individuals in three different ways. All instructions were conveyed by a single word only; a single letter, but the meaning was conveyed properly to the individual groups concerned.

These three groups are to be understood as three characters of individuals in this world, those who are blessed with intellect and good life, those who have material plenty and those who have power to dominate.
T.S. Eliot composed a poem “The Waste Land” to bring out this teachings of the Upanishad.

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Only at nightfall, ethereal rumours
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands


Love to you all