THE DASHING FENCER

Featured

8da3adf3c53bf14b391fd6a892025c43At a certain phase of my life, when I was desperately planning my escape from a city many would give their eye teeth (whatever that means!) to enjoy (Manhattan), I worked for a posh law firm and took every opportunity for overtime that I could, hoping to pay down my big fat mortgage, sell my adorable apartment, and flee to the Himalayas. One of my favorite lawyers to work for was the powerful head of the Real Estate Division and a multi-millionaire many times over.  During our post-midnight stints as he churned documents out and I whipped them into shape, he had let slip that as a young idealist he had dreamed of wandering India, ancient land of sacred cows and hoary temples, in quest of himself. But he had sold out when he won a scholarship to an ivy league outfit and even more when he had married a woman who wanted him to make more and more money so he could send their kids for horse-riding lessons and to vacations in Paris.

fb_img_1486272499213It must have been about 3 in the morning when my eyes fell on a photo on his desk. “Who’s that?” I asked, intrigued by the handsome and dashing figure of a young man dressed in fencing garb and brandishing a sword or whatever. He glared at me, offended. “That’s me,” he said. I laughed and shrugged, “how could I tell?” You have mask on.” But the truth was that that slender young man bore absolutely no resemblance to the pot-bellied rotund double-chinned bespectacled worry-wart before me. Continue reading

Advertisements

YOUNG SOUL, OLD SOUL

Featured

Kiri 16GB sd card 6243-1The New Age (which I happen to mostly detest and keep my distance for, for really it is all recycled material that they use often to great detriment of depth and richness) has popularized many buzzwords and one is that someone or the other is an old soul. Now when I threw the words “young soul” at a close friend one day in frustration, he blew up at me and said these phrases were ridiculous nonsense. Not so, I said, for to me the difference between an old and a young soul is as clear as the full moon shining over Arunachala on a balmy summer’s night.

An Old Soul is simply a human who has seen through the mesmerizing veils of Maya, the Cosmic Enchantress. He or she has either experienced the double-edged sword of samsara in this lifetime, or his knowing has emerged from countless past lives. Never mind, but this person is no longer enchanted by stately mansions surrounded by a forest of palm trees, obscenely plump bank accounts or stock portfolios, expensive vehicles, supermodels, celebrities of all kinds, or by those pampered creatures with access to the so-called good life. Why is this? Simply because this person now knows for sure that while there is a great deal of pleasure to be drawn from the world, this pleasure is invariably followed by pain, which is why the mystics refer to indulgence in a hedonistic lifestyle as licking the honey off a razor’s edge. And what about the Young Soul? Oh, he or she is still dazzled by the façade, that’s all.

c945ed890f540a675b775ccb608893f3Now for the critical question: is one better than the other? My honest answer is, while I would prefer to be an Old Soul, the essence of both is exactly the same—pure existence, awareness and bliss. Would you turn back as you ascend an infinite stairway and have contempt for those who have just begun their journey of comprehending reality? Not if you were wise and loving, for sure. An Old Soul was once a  Young Soul and a Young Soul will inevitably evolve into an Old Soul, but, and it’s a big but, this depends on consistent effort. Liberation is guaranteed to all of us, but no one is saying when. So its up to us to prolong the suffering or not.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to open our inner eye so we can discriminate between the real and the unreal, between true joy and the fake pleasure that comes from the reckless enjoyment of the senses!

NEW!!! My latest book – COPPER MOON OVER PATALIPUTRA – just went live on Jun 30th. Read all about it and on how to get your own copy here.
If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,173 other followers


Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.

EVERYONE HAS A HIGHER POWER

Featured

c54413c0d2a06f18743e8ad014a31eaeManhattan broke down my identity; in south India I was more or less confident that I could accomplish anything I set my mind on. I was popular, well-known in certain circles, and could have launched myself into a lucrative creative career had I wished to. Instead I suffered a deep dread of never leaving home and so I finagled my exit to a foreign country that I admired for many reasons. Yes, I loathed the deep-rooted misogyny, caste and class system I was surrounded by and longed for the freedom I hoped to find in America. But I was unprepared for the shocks to my system in the land of the brave and the free. Indeed, nothing was as I had expected it to be and I had to literally reinvent myself, alone, since my husband and in-laws were no help, and instead actively wanted to shove me into a box, lock me up, and throw away the key. You see, they had not expected an Indian woman to be feisty, independent and outspoken about her rights, and so they lashed out in me in a variety of inventive ways until I was deeply miserable despite abundant material comforts. My husband had promised that I could study creative writing and film at NYU, but now he ruthlessly nixed that idea and I found myself temping on Wall Street and in posh law firms, making a lot of money but still a prisoner of my new family and my husband in particular, who insisted on controlling our finances as well as the trajectory of our lives. Continue reading

CHEAP THRILLS

Featured

9e1a511e7a9166a72e30bd913768d213Growing up in south India at a time when the West was not as accessible as it is to Indians today, my first glimmerings of the wild life I (delusionally) believed all Americans and Europeans led was via the thrillers of writers like James Hadley Chase. Yes, I read Agatha Christie too, and more sedate authors, but it was the paperback thrillers I found most addictive, for they spoke of hippies and drugs and scarlet women pouting at bad guys and getting murdered—and of course there was always the unwary bystander or canny detective who got dragged willy-nilly into the spicy stew.

Oh, how exciting it was to get one of those books in my greedy hands and to devour it at a single stretch! There were times I’d read a book a day, and since it wasn’t easy to find this kind of material lying around then, I’d woo anyone who had a home library and was willing to share his/her hoard with me.

It was my brother-in-law, an academic and professor, who dourly pointed out to me the effects that reading what he called ‘trash’ would have on my impressionable mind. It’s a hard addiction to break, he warned, and when you need to digest serious stuff, you won’t be able to. I dismissed his warnings since I was doing very well in academics myself, and believed, with all the raw arrogance of youth, that I knew better than preachy fuddy-duddies how to separate study from fun. Continue reading

MOUNTAIN GODDESS

Featured

14876327_10155479883214199_334843953_o-768x575When I first landed in Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, straight from the frenetic city of Manhattan, I was lost and bewildered by a strange new world. Soon I found my way to the Tibetan Library, where every morning a beautiful old Geshe, aided by an English female translator, patiently taught us the ancient scriptures. I was sitting outside the small cafeteria when I saw a woman I liked on sight, nonchalantly rolling a cigarette. I asked her to roll me one, whereupon she handed me the fixings and retorted sarkily that if I wanted one, I’d have to roll it myself. Oh, I thought, amused, liking her even more, for she reminded me of folks in Manhattan who are also uncomfortably direct but also possess shining hearts of gold if you stick around long enough to get past the prickly surface.

We became friends, and I discovered she lived right above my beautiful apartment with the huge glass windows, through which I could gaze at the splendor of the snow-clad Himalayas. As a seasoned practitioner capable of handling any crisis, she was often impatient with me, rightly viewing me as a spoiled infant with no clue how to handle herself in a small Himalayan township peopled by hardy Tibetans (most of whom had bravely made their way over the mountains to be with their charismatic leader, who incidentally lived a mere ten minute walk away from me on the peak of a hill guarded by both Indians and his own people) and equally tough Indians. Continue reading

A writer needs more than talent to suceed – Julie-Ann Corrigan QUOTES FOR WRITERS (and people who like quotes)

BRIDGET WHELAN writer

patience
‘It takes ten years or 10,000 hours to write well.’

This is a truism. More than talent, a writer needs patience, hefty skin, and discipline. With these, you will be succesful.
Julie-Ann Corrigan

View original post

INTENSIVE CARE

65de284a09d3f427432db8daf3729bb9Ages ago, lunching with friends in a restaurant with a spectacular view of the Himalayas, a European woman began to boast about how close she was to her guru, and how integral her presence was to his inner circle of devotees. We listened politely, and this encouraged her to rave even more. Suddenly, a friend of mine, a cynical chap who had been around the block several times and appears to have no illusions about anything, interrupted her: ah, so you’re in Intensive Care, he said bluntly. Clearly you need the direct intervention and proximity of a guru, or your ego would completely destroy you.

I burst into giggles at her astounded expression, but while she may have thought he was trying to take her down a notch or two, I knew that as usual he was only speaking his mind and did not intend to deliberately hurt or insult her. Oddly enough, his words continued to resonate with me, because they certainly applied to my own condition.

A singer said this about Van Gogh—that this world was not made for men as beautiful as him. And there’s no denying that the goings-on of our planet can be hard to handle for anyone who is ultra-sensitive to suffering, simply because there are no barriers and empathy rules. Now I was born so sensitive that I would immediately burst into a storm of tears when I encountered a person or animal whose situation awakened my compassion. My mother referred to these mini-breakdowns as “crocodile tears,” not because she was unkind, far from it, but because she did not wish to encourage me in being ridiculously soft and therefore ill-equipped to cope with life’s hard realities.

83b2a51f4f6d5715320a27a71becac3aA few mornings ago, right out of the blue, a huge wooden door blew shut and almost broke my little toe. The pain was excruciating. I expected it to heal in a day or two, but I’ve been forced to stay home to nurse it, which is pure torture for someone as active as me, and whose threshold for both emotional and physical pain is abysmally low.

I put on my mystical thinking cap and studied my predicament. Why did this happen to me? One answer is that something majorly bad was supposed to happen to me, and instead (perhaps because these days I’m being such a “good girl”), the powers that be reduced that ominous would-be event to an almost-broken toe. (It’s an undeniable fact that I could be lying in a morgue right now, especially since I’m a bit of a speed freak on the highway and Indian truck, bus and lorry drivers are notoriously reckless.) I won’t bore you with the other thoughts that arose in this connection, but I will say that today I have such great faith in Arunachala in whose holy shadow I now reside, that I have no flicker of doubt that there is excellent reason for me to be held hostage at home.

I flashed back to soon after I got to Tiruvannamalai, some eight years ago, when I got drenched for hours while walking on the inner path that circles the mountain. I was in the company of a British friend who is a top-notch hiker. He quickly slipped into a rain jacket, but I was badly affected. There was nowhere to take shelter since we were on the inner path. By the time I got home, hours later, I was already shivering with fever. My friend left for England the next day and I developed a terrible flu and lay shivering in bed. Seventeen days later I was finally well enough to walk outside. I gazed up at Arunachala’s dawn glory and for the first time realized His power. I knew then that it was his fierce grace that had forced me to undergo that intense suffering—to burn away countless layers of ego that were preventing me from entering the Spiritual Heart. (Check out: ARUNACHALA, NOT ABRACADABRA )

This afternoon I gazed out of my living room window at the reassuring bulk of Arunachala. Don’t you think you’ve whipped me enough? I asked, as a wave of self-pity assailed me. Then I hastened to add that I had learned to trust Him, and that He had proven to me, time and time again, that when He heaped pain, disappointments and frustrations on my poor human head, enhanced peace, understanding and joy surely followed. Thank you for placing me in Intensive Care, I murmured gratefully; who knows what would have happened to maverick mini-me out there in the big bad world had you not drawn me into your protective embrace? We humans blindly put our faith in other humans, not realizing perhaps that they are just as limited than we are. Best to surrender to the cosmic powers that have genuine love and concern for our wellbeing.

303537_3128548673069_1069126392_nOne major difference between the mainstreamer and the genuine seeker of inner peace is the view/ attitude we choose to take. This too shall pass—powerful words I use on myself and on others when appropriate. Even this life, I remind myself, is just a tiny speck on an infinite lifeline. In truth we are pure existence, awareness and bliss and have had a million bodies and minds. When life aims yet another kick at our unprotected bottoms, and we go flying yet again into the mud and the slime of samsara, we must never ever give up ,for we live in duality and the tide will definitely turn, especiallly if we are patient and have faith. The trick is to turn our focus to Spirit and ask it humbly to heal all relative ills, and to never ever lose sight of our highest goal, which is permanent freedom from suffering.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who has no hesitation in whipping those he loves with his mighty psychic whip, but only to lead us to the blissful light of the Self!

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,173 other followers


Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.

Do Not Interfere If Possible

This is not easy for most of us to do – especially if we really care about someone – but it is essential not to interfere once we are firmly on the inner path – great invisible powers are already taking care of the cosmos, whether we can see this or not…thanks, Harsh!

Luthar.com

One day, one of the devotees came to Bhagavan Ramana and said in an excited whisper, “Look, Bhagavan! Just look at that man!” Everyone turned to look. We saw a gentleman who was asleep in the meditation hall, swaying back and forth. The devotee who had approached Bhagavan complained, “I have been watching this person for the past few days. He (pretends to meditate) but always sleeps in Bhagavan’s presence.” 

Bhagavan looked at the complaining devotee and said, “That man is doing what he came here to do. But what about you? Did you come here just to check on people, and see who is awake and who is asleep and who is meditating? Why don’t you mind your own business?” 

Seeing the overzealous devotee rebuked like this, all the others burst out laughing.

Bhagavan did not like it at all when people complained about others. He used to say…

View original post 139 more words

GO STRAIGHT TO THE BOSS

Featured Image -- 9732Ramana calls his simple teaching on Moksha
The Direct Path, and for good reason.
 
As another powerful guru told me ages ago,
There are hundreds of fine roads you could take, sweetling,
But tell me, do you really have the time?
 
Say a wise friend whispers in your ear a sure shortcut to Nirvana,
Which will lead to the extinction of the ego, mini-me,
That illusory entity who gleefully designs all patterns of pleasure and pain—
Would you not be a crazy fool to refuse her clear directions?
 
I was spoiled by teachers who spent eons
Elaborating on the nature of karma, rebirth, samsara
And other inscrutabilities of the relative matrix;
So it irked me that, no matter what a person asked Ramana,
His answer was always the same:
First find out who you are, he would blandly say,
And then you won’t have any more questions.
 
Recently it came to me in a flash why the great sage did this—
Because, if you finally figure out that you yourself are Parabrahman—
That the Divine has, for some inexplicable reason, reduced itself to human flesh,
That your true nature is pure existence-awareness and bliss,
And that an infinite ocean of joy is accessible to you
Via an atomic diamond-bright portal hidden within your Spiritual Heart,
All answers do come gushing up to the surface to be effortlessly picked up;
So be like a wily frog, waiting quietly by the riverside,
Ever ready to swallow that sparkling dragonfly.
 
303537_3128548673069_1069126392_nWhy the Direct Path?
Because, just as you would go straight to the boss if you had a serious problem
Not wasting time or spinning your wheels
Begging petty favors from his underlings,
Here too, Ramana shows you a way to avoid all false gurus and teachings,
And to plunge directly into the blissful waters of the Self.
 
Once this is done, the Inner Guru wakes up with an ecstatic roar,
Fusion is achieved, and in one mind-blowing moment of spiritual orgasm,
All vexing questions dissolve into nothingness.
 
Now you are the equal of God Vishnu,
Smiling mysteriously as a radiant lotus springs up from your navel,
Enjoying a molten expanse of ecstatic peace
That surpasses all mundane understanding.

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,173 other followers


Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.

ONE CUP OF TEA AND TWO BISCUITS

FB_IMG_1456878290224I read “Freedom at Midnight” right through from cover to cover in a single day when I was a teen and recall loving it. The authors (they work as a team) spoke of an infamous Nizam of Hyderabad who was a noted miser. This Nawab (ruler) had two sets of clothes and two grimy skull caps. He was so rich that he stored currency notes (big denomination, foreign) in his cellars and rats feasted on them, even as his poor citizens struggled to keep body and soul together. This was during the time of British colonial rule. One day the Nizam was informed that a new British high official was about to make him a formal visit and that he should prepare appropriately. Naturally this official was anticipating a sumptuous reception; instead, the bewildered man was led into a small room to meet the Nizam and offered a cup of tea and two biscuits. So much for grand expectations, huh?

I grew up with parents who were ultra generous. My father believed not just in living well but in being extra hospitable to the extent he could. My mother (I have rarely come across so naturally good and innocent a woman) tried to help everyone. For big feasts, she would spend weeks before the event preparing sweets and savories in the traditional Indian way, and not just for family and relatives, but for the poor. Oh yes, they both had their faults, but their high ethics and willingness to help others have left an indelible impression on me. (They have both passed on, but sometimes I pray that they will come back to me in their reincarnated forms, just so I can be good to them, as I rarely was when I was a young rebel.)

Coming from such a background, I didn’t believe misers really existed (except in fiction) until I got to know one in close quarters. He puzzled me because, unlike that crusty old Nizam, he could he exceedingly generous in certain ways. For instance he loved gourmet food and did not stint on it for himself or others. But he was a hoarder of other goodies, and perhaps the most secretive man when it came to his money and assets, of which he had a lot.

FB_IMG_1490599852235Since then I have met other misers. Like the man who indulged in gourmet food, and yet was laughably tight-fisted in all other ways, these too had their own peculiarities. One wealthy woman spends abundantly on herself, her home, her pets and her current boyfriend, but shrinks back from spending a single dollar on even a close friend—unless there was some benefit in it for her. (She is committed to the Eastern path and a fervent meditator too, so go figure!) Another guy, who boasts that he has so much money that he doesn’t know what to do with it, religiously counts his pennies and will even ask you what you plan to order when he takes you to a restaurant—lest you are going to eat the most expensive items of the menu. Ha ha ha, not. Another big businessman I know has enough money for generations to come, but continues to spend most of his time making new deals; despite his seeming generosity, and although he would vehemently deny this, he too can be both miserly and crooked. And so on and so forth.

I used to be shocked and revolted by miserliness, but now I actually feel a deep compassion for those so attached to their material possessions that they cannot allow Spirit to move freely through them. The beauty of Advaita is that it teaches us that we are all One—that we emerge from a single source (sat-chit-ananda) and will eventually return to it.

Though convincingly real, the three states of waking sleeping and dreaming are not “real” in the context of Advaita, simply because they come and go; and it is the I AM, a split off from the Whole, that is the root of our powerful sense of I, me and mine. In its pure state, the I AM is the Guru, the Light, Brahman itself; in its mischievous form, it is Satan itself, for it seduces us to spend all our precious time grubbing away in the material world. The job of the seeker (Advaita) is to first to isolate the I AM, and then to focus solely on it, until it realizes it has been outed, and can then be coaxed to become your ally. Since the I AM has emerged directly from Source, it knows the way back to paradise; if Grace is showering down upon you, it will finally lead you home.

According to classical karmic theory, all our actions return to us multiplied, good and bad. So if we give, we are actually going to receive much more in return. In fact, giving or generosity is the first of the Paramitas, the great virtues that lead to enlightenment. But in order to qualify as a virtue, giving must be free of the ego. I know many (and I am guilty of this too) who will give a lot, but are also convinced that it is their mini-me, their egoic self, that is doing this great thing. This sort of giving only produces “dirty good karma”— results that sprout solely in the material ephemeral world.

The correct way to give is to realize that in truth we own nothing, for ownership implies control. Can you deny that even a billionaire cannot take a single hair or nail with him when Death comes calling? We have what we have due to our own past karma, which has a shelf life. And so the genuine seeker gives as if it is the Self that is giving, forgetting entirely about the human element.

8b0491b2a715579b114da4fdb36d7daaMostly it is suffering (intense grief, loss of possessions, reputation, loved ones and relationships, etc) that finally opens the eyes of the miser to the self-destructive beliefs he or she has been nursing. In our true state, we are abundance itself; study the lives of the great sages and you will see that many refused to even handle money or have possessions (except for essentials), and depended solely on the Divine (their own Self) to provide them with all their needs. We don’t have to be like them, of course, for few are secure enough to do this, but we can become more aware of our basic oneness, and know that when we are being generous to those in need, we are actually giving to our own Self.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who leads us, if we are ready and willing, from the unreal to the Real!

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,173 other followers


Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.

Donald Trump and the GOP Are Terrorists

Incredible post! Thanks, Tina Frisco!

TINA FRISCO

Terror is defined as intense overpowering fear. Terrorism is defined as the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. A terrorist is defined as a person who employs terror, especially as a political weapon.

Millions in America and around the world are living in terror under the Trump administration. In the United States, seniors and the poor and disabled live under the threat of having our health care and housing ripped away. Congressional Republicans (GOP) regularly conspire, behind closed doors, to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and many other programs on which the most vulnerable depend.

It’s infuriating to hear the GOP refer to these programs as entitlements. THEY ARE NOT. We paid in to them out of every pay check we’ve ever earned. Eliminating them is nothing short of grand theft.

Edmund Burke Quote Background image courtesy of Pixabay CCO

When I became ill with fibromyalgia-chronic fatigue, I was…

View original post 3,294 more words

MAHAMUDRA – Samsara’s Seven Flavors (4 of 4)

ece0e5efb7e69f25bae5daa7f08c1338Say you’re a crack software designer with your eye on a dream posting in California’s Bay Area. The job dangles before you like a luscious red apple and then you get a call from a pal in Human Resources—sorry, she says, but they’ve given it to Bipin Ghatge. I know, it sucks, but what to do? He’s our Chairman’s nephew—didn’t you know?”

Foiled again!  You want to eviscerate that smug toady Bipin and shriek with wicked laughter as his guts slither out of his belly, but you don’t relish the idea of spending the next fifty years in jail. How about getting rip-roaring drunk? But that road to oblivion will make it impossible for you to endure Ghatge’s snide looks tomorrow. Your mind ranges like a bandit over all your options. Then the thought pops into your head that perhaps it is time to try Mahamudra meditation. You  actually remember all those seven points, flavors, as Mira called them, as if she was selling ice-cream.

PRACTICING MAHAMUDRA 

You slink home and drink a mug of  green tea with honey before parking your butt below your Buddha batik. You allow yourself to feel terrible about the loss of the Bay Area job. Ouch! You apply the first step of Mahamudra: that all things are imperfect—and deliberately designed to be so—because if you and the world were both perfect, how would you grow? Weird how just accepting the inherently imperfect nature of this world makes you feel better.

Impermanence. How many other disappointments have you dealt with in your thirty-one years and where are they now? Do you spend a second aching for that snooty chick who dumped you like a stack of dirty dishes crash bang into the sink of despair? Two months later, you met the amazing Aparajita—and isn’t she a whole lot sweeter? As for this job, there are a thousand like it, some that even pay better. Perhaps now is the time to leave a company that blatantly practices nepotism.

No ownership. There it was, that seductive project right within your grasp, and then, whoosh, it was gone, without your permission. Who owned it? Certainly not you! Maybe there are invisible laws governing every little thing….

No accident. This one is tougher to accept. You’re a straight-up sort of guy and you don’t care for mystical bullshit. But hey, what to do, man, accept that there are no accidents and see what happens.

c945ed890f540a675b775ccb608893f3No fixed judgment. You look back and see the myriad times you judged something to be good or bad, and how that good turned into bad, and vice versa. What about that English writer who invented Harry Potter? Loses her job, is barely making it on welfare, then waves her wand and brings the boy magician to roaring life. Abracadabra, soon she’s raking in millions. And what about Stephen Jobs, your one-time hero, who had everything material a man could dream off…to die at his peak?

Transformation. Yes, you can quit this company and accept that job you were offered last week. This new company plays fair and is run by an ethical board who respect their employees. Maybe by this time next year you will be working in the Bay Area….

Past karma.  Did you actually set up this whole scenario in some past lifetime, just to learn a lesson? Sounds kinda corny, but you’re willing to give this  notion a shot. You continue to sit quietly, allowing these new views of the current crisis to percolate into your deeper self. It’s bizarre, but once again it feels like the sun is shining down on your precious head. Hey, this meditation really does work!

f92f7dea9f17b0dbcc31e5be036538d6Freedom From the Matrix

The goal of our practice is not to put up with crapbut to eradicate suffering in all its forms. These were the words of the guru who taught me Mahamudra and so much else. That said, analytical antidotes to human suffering only help us cope with the endless pains of relative reality. Using only these seven flavors as antidotes to our suffering of body and mind is like using band-aids on deep wounds—although I’ve heard it said that a complete acceptance of the final flavor of Mahamudra (that all we experience is the result of our own past thought, speech and action, or karma) is powerful enough to transform lower into higher consciousness.

Mahamudra practice alone cannot lead us all the way to enlightenment, nor does it remove problems, but it lightens the sting of our suffering by revealing the true nature of samsara. According to Ramana’s Direct Path, the only sure way to become free of desire and fear is to burn the vasanas (karmic imprints) that run our behavior and create our relative reality. Once we’ve begun to unmask samsara, we must simultaneously begin to uncover our true nature by learning to sink into the substratum of our being, which, according to the great ones, is sat-chit-ananda, pure existence-awareness and bliss. The real journey of the committed seeker is an inner one which intensifies when we use tools such as Mahamudra to splash great arcs of light on to our individual paths toward the spiritual heart.

Om is the bow
The soul is the arrow
Brahman is the arrow’s goal
At which one aims unflinchingly.

~Mundaka Upanishad

Ψ

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,173 other followers


Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.

Right Speech & Donald Trump

dhamma footsteps

POSTCARD#317: Bangkok: Trump making mileage (one way or another) from outrageous actions that take place every few days. Maybe we need to take 5 minutes to look at Right Speech and Buddhist ethics. Trump becomes transparent then, because we are not held by his harmful performance . It is obvious, everything is intended to induce dismay, after that it’s like the weasel and the rabbit; hypnotic, chaotic speech, a wild stab in the dark, perplexing and puzzling manoeuvring of events.

As a rule, Right Speech is not something politicians are good at, but Trump pushes it to the extreme; wrong speech, the intention is to create disorder and our reality becomes an an illusion. Showmanship… probably not very different from how things were 2600 years ago when the Buddha encountered leaders like Trump. There have always been politicians manipulating the truth for all the usual reasons.

And that’s why…

View original post 319 more words

MAHAMUDRA – Samsara’s Seven Flavors (3 of 4)

df336b74b2581c8795affd937ba79cd8Flavor #1: All Things are Impermanent. 

All things inevitably vanish, like dewdrops evaporating in the morning sun; however, while intellectually we may accept this, in our daily lives we ignore the stark fact that not just our relationships and  possessions, but also our bodies and minds, are hurtling inexorably towards destruction. Let’s say my lover presents me with a magenta orchid in a delicate porcelain bowl. I  perceive this orchid as having permanence, but soon it begins to wilt and then it dies. And it is this same wrong feeling of permanence that we humans attribute to all parts of our lives and which causes us to suffer. For instance, I may believe that my marriage will last forever, and when divorce or death loom, I react with fear, disbelief and anger. Or I may be sure that my home will stay mine forever; then a financial crisis prevents me from paying the mortgage, and the bank repossesses it. Had I trained myself to see all things as transient, I could apply a major antidote to all the pains of mundane living— for the bald truth is that the orchid, home and spouse are but flashes on an infinite timeline, comets streaking across the screen of my life.

So the invisible machinery of karma is busily at work, giving and taking according to immutable laws about which we ordinary humans don’t have a clue. The good news is that if I practice seeing all things as impermanent, and digest the truth that I don’t really own a thing, I’m bound to experience increasing freedom and peace.

8b0491b2a715579b114da4fdb36d7daaFlavor #2: You Don’t Own A Damned Thing 

Most of us live with the feeling that we own our lives. But do we truly control destiny? Take my home in the hills, I bought it with an inheritance from grandma and really believed I owned it, but that didn’t stop the bank from stealing it away from me, did it? If I accept that I don’t control the destiny of my possessions, then I must admit that I don’t even own my relationships or even my own body and mind. If I did, I could stay young forever and be ecstatic all the time.

Why do even those who intellectually accept impermanence and the lack of ownership still get upset when they face loss? Because there’s a killer gap between what we can accept and the corresponding lag in our emotions. As we close this gap through personal practice, our suffering decreases. Master the art of accepting impermanence and the lack of ownership, and you turn into a really cool customer. Tragedy could strike, and while not discounting the initial shock factor, you’d soon learn to say, yes, of course, that’s the nature of relative reality: Everything is impermanent and I don’t really own a damned thing, so let’s get a move on.

Flavor #3: Nothing Happens by Accident. 

Mahamudra claims that nothing that happens is an accident. Say I stop for petrol in a quiet Himalayan town and bump into a pal I haven’t seen since high school. Not an accident—my friend was brought there by certain karmic energies, and so was I. This is a particularly important view to cultivate when we encounter tragedy—because it’s when things go drastically “wrong” that we go nuts. Accepting that a horrid experience is the result of our own past karma, and that we are in effect creating our own experience of reality by how we think, speak and act, can make all the difference to how we transcend the negative effects of hard times. Practiced with understanding, all these flavors can help ground us in the reality of what is.

609df17e7afd69d496563edfe63c57a7Flavor #4: Our Judgments are Mere Constructs. 

Who decides that a scallion should be called a scallion? We do. The problem is that humans forget that labels are merely mutually accepted constructs. Say a professor you admired stated that communism is the ideal state of government for everybody—and you believed him! Years later, the failure of communism-in-practice forces you to accept that his statement was a personal construct that does not universally apply. The truth is that whether we perceive an anorexic supermodel as the most beautiful creature on the planet, or as aesthetically repellent, is, in the end, merely a personal construct.

Mahamudra slowly begins to strip away our justifications for seeing as we do: first, we stop thinking that things last forever; second, we stop thinking that we control the destinies of our assets or our relationships; third, we stop thinking of things as accidents. And fourth, we stop thinking that our judgments are right. As you can imagine, if everyone practiced these four flavors, the conflict that flares up not just in our personal lives, but between castes, classes, races and nations, would dissolve into thin air.

Flavor #5: Transforming Problems

If a great chef and a lousy cook are given the exact same ingredients and asked to prepare a meal, chances are the chef would produce a feast, while the novice would offer up a mess. Well, Mahamudra says that the circumstances of our own life are like those ingredients—what we have on our plates is the result of our own past karma; what we do with them depends on our skill as chefs.

4392bca5339c3755a629be68e9b9bbf8Flavor #6: Our Personal Karma Creates our Reality. 

According to Mahamudra, everything that happens in our lives is the result of past karma. Long ago in a monastery in Dharamsala, a group of us listened to a high lama speaking on the nature of relative reality. “Everything you experience is only the result of your past thought, speech and action,” he pronounced. “You are the only one responsible for your happiness and your suffering.” We’d all heard this before, but this time it had terrific impact. A German lady sitting under a whirring fan raised her hand. “Are you saying that every little thing we experience is the result of our past karma?” He nodded. “Right,” he said. “Even the breath of that fan on your cheek is the result of your past karma. But keep in mind that while you cannot manipulate your current experience of reality, you can create a magnificent future by learning to think, speak and act positively.”

So these are the six flavors of samsara in a nutshell. And bizarrely enough, soon after I’d digested them, Angelica fought with me as we rode the subway back home from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights and I was shocked by her ferocity.

Flavor #7: Inherent Imperfection

Shaken, I rode the elevator to my apartment. The thought flashed that here was a perfect opportunity to see whether Mahamudra worked. So I sat in lotus position before my altar and watched the flow of my breath until I felt calmer. Then I pulled up the embarrassing scene in the subway. Other passengers had watched Angelica go nuts: some had smirked; some had shot us looks of irritation. Holding this scene in the foreground of my mind, I applied to it each of the six flavors of Emptiness. Tears welled up as I re-lived the humiliating experience, but when I was done, I felt peaceful and grounded. Surely Angelica’s outburst had been the result of some inexpressible agony. Compassion for her arose and I knew that Mahamudra did work!

A couple days later, Angelica called to apologize: she’d cracked up on the subway, she explained, because the following day was Mother’s Day and she’d dreaded spending it with the woman who’d battered her for years. Unable to deal with her volcanic feelings, she’d vented on me. Could I forgive her? It gave me a real kick to tell her that, thanks to Mahamudra, I already had.

fb_img_1487346238548

Now that I was further convinced of the power of Mahamudra, instead of running away from pain, I began to apply the six flavors to difficult situations and people. As I grew stronger in the practice, I began to teach it to friends. One fine day I added another flavor to my own practice—that samsara is inherently imperfect. This conclusion had leaped out at me while practicing the other six—for beneath my suffering I found lurking the insidious expectation that my life should be perfect. If we are already perfect in our essence—which is the liberating teaching of the East—and if we incarnate for some mysterious reason, then it follows that the identity we form, as well as the circumstances into which we are thrust, must be imperfect in order for us to grow. Today I accept that some inscrutable power has designed all of life to be deliberately imperfect—and that’s a thought which restores me to peace.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to help us strip away the unreal from the real, so we can rest in the peace and bliss of our immortal Self!

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,173 other followers


Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.