LOVING ANIMALS STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART…

leslie-cow“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Giving from the heart is said to be the first of the great virtues that lead us to permanent freedom from suffering—and not just giving to family, friends or to those important to us in the mundane world—but to animals desperately in need of love, food, shelter and healing—yes, to dogs, cats, cows, snakes, monkeys and other animals in dire straits, sensitive and defenseless beings who’d bless your heart of gold for making their thorny lives just a little sweeter. In fact, while the world might consider you a reckless idiot for giving generously when the wolf is pounding on your door, the radical seeker of enlightenment is taught to give especially when the chips are down—for it is giving, minus the ego, that burns the bad karma that weighs us down. That said, it is such a delight to be able to give to the unfortunate—without strings and straight from the luminous heart! Continue reading

Me & The Capricious Sorcery of Cyberspace…

SHIVA IN PURPLE AND BLUE“Oh, I don’t ever worry about Mira being lonely,” a friend declared at a farewell party in Manhattan, thrown to celebrate my terrifying decision to leave mainstream life for the unknown quiet of the Himalayas. “She walks down to the grocery store alone and returns with a hundred friends.”

An exaggeration? Yes, but true in essence: for I was thrust into this world with an openness towards all beings, regardless of gender, age, caste, tribe, or income. You could say I was destined for the philosophy I would espouse as an adult—of Advaita-Vedanta, which teaches, in its most simple form, that all beings emerge from One and return to One.

My quest for a home in which I could focus solely on spiritual and creative goals finally led me to put down roots in a small south Indian town. I was drawn down south from the region of the Himalayas by the cleansing fire of Arunachala, the sacred mountain millions believe to be the living embodiment of Shiva, God of Paradox and Destroyer of Illusion—who burns away our insidious attachment to ephemeral body and mind so we can experience the immortal bliss of our Self. Continue reading

The Ego Is Not Your Amigo – Part 1 of 2

Arunachala

Arunachala

One twilit Sunday evening, a friend and I embarked on the 14-kilometre Giripradakshina trek. In  this specific case, Giripradakshina refers to the ancient practice of circumambulating the sacred hill Arunachala—which rises majestic from the center of the intriguing ancient temple town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, south India.

Taking off from Ramana Ashram, we made our way through a segment of crazy busy highway until we reached the serpentine tree-shaded mountain path (Girivalam) road populated with varying types of sadhu—from the often belligerent itinerant hoping to escape a tricky mundane situation by donning the orange robe that bestows instant spiritual status and garners support from many quarters—to the true renunciate of radiant countenance. Continue reading

LOVING ANIMALS STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART…

leslie-cow“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

As ho ho ho time looms again, perhaps you’re open to giving away a wee bit of what’s been lavished upon you by this spectacular cosmos—and I’m not talking about special gifts to family, friends, clients and other people/causes connected to your own well-being and way of life, but this time to dogs, cats, cows, snakes, monkeys and other animals in dire straits in a far-away world—marvelously sensitive and vulnerable beings who’d likely bless your heart of gold if only they could—for making the rest of their lives just that teeny weeny bit sweeter.

Pity most Indians don’t hark to the profound words of the Mahatma—possibly because the great majority of us are still ignorant of the wisdom he poured into the coffers of this vast and paradoxical nation that bristles with such sharp inequities. Based on what I see here in Tiruvannamalai, the rural poor—many illiterate and struggling to keep it all together in a rapidly changing world—don’t treat animals as if they even had rudimentary feelings—except when those animals are of commercial use. As for the wealthy—contrary to standard international thinking, there is a large segment of Indians who enjoy far higher standards of living than their counterparts in the west—they tend to treat their pets exceedingly well, some spending great amounts on gourmet food and vet care, but those are in the minority. Continue reading