Showing posts with label Paramhansa Yogananda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paramhansa Yogananda. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.



Monday, January 21, 7.30 p.m. Free – East West Bookshop, Seattle
[https://www.anandawashington.org/featured-events/]
This even will be LIVE on Facebook

To many of us, it seems that the principles upon which our country was founded are in short supply these days. What can we do about it? Unless, like Mahatma Gandhi or Dr King, you plan to start a national movement for peace justice and equality, you can at least stand up and be counted! And next Monday night you have an opportunity to do just that!

Next Monday night we honor the lives of M.K. Gandhi and Dr M.L. King in a public tribute that would be just the kind of occasion where people like you and I can come together. The tribute includes music, audio and video tracks, and readings from their speeches and writings.

Paramhansa Yogananda stated that America and India represent the twin ideals of material and spiritual harmony (and their concomitant social ideals, justice and equality) so needed in our rapidly changing and growing world. He did not mean that India and America have perfected these ideals. Instead, he meant that India and America have the karma to lead the way in demonstrating the importance of these ideals for the benefit, indeed survival, of all nations.

For this was our nation founded; for this was born the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Abraham Lincoln. For this, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King lived and died. Dr King said that one who had nothing for which he was willing to die was not fit to live. An extreme statement, no doubt, and obviously not the karmic destiny for most individuals. 

But certainly, next Monday night is an occasion for us but to be together. You will be energized and inspired by the experience. As the years go by, fewer and fewer people have lived through the turbulent years of the civil rights movement in America. The message of Gandhi and King is, more than ever, relevant to the challenges of our times. Come and show your support for social change through nonviolent means and inspired by universal, spiritual ideals.

Blessings to you,

Nayaswamis Hriman and Padma

Ananda Washington

P.S. Anyone wishing a copy of our script, please write to us at friends@anandaWA.org

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Angels on High: the Fall from Grace and the Soul's Rise to Freedom

In the 1947 movie, “The Bishop’s Wife,” an angel (in the form of actor, Cary Grant) comes to the family of a Protestant bishop in an answer to their prayers. 

Problem is, the angel finds himself attracted to the bishop’s wife (played by Loretta Young). After answering the couple's prayers (with a few twists), the angel departs knowing that an immortal cannot be with a mortal. This plot, mostly na├»ve and innocent by today’s standards, struck a chord with me in respect to the great themes of history related to the “Humanity’s Fall from Grace.”

Are we not taught that we, too, are angels, children of God, made in the divine image? As immortals, do we not inadvertently “fall in love” with the mortal scene and imagine happiness will come through the never-ending, ever-changing passing drama of life? Are we therefore not unlike that angel, Cary Grant? Except that we take much longer to wake up from the illusion before withdrawing and vowing, some day, “never to return.”

Like the more modern movie, “Groundhog Day,” we tend to make the same mistake over and over, year after year, lifetime after lifetime. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote that until the ever-watchful soul awakens the ego to the prospect of the “anguishing monotony” of repeated rounds of birth and death, we are not ready to begin the journey, like the prodigal son, back home to our soul’s eternal joy in God.

This seemingly circular track of life, this broken and repeating record, is the “hell” that is spoken of in scripture. Hell is not a forever place but it certainly feels like one when we are caught in the addiction to matter and to soul-stultifying ego identifications. The pathways to perdition are endlessly labyrinthine, but the way to freedom is “straight and narrow.”

Thus it is that the “Fall” is easy but the climb back is more difficult. Mired by habit and circumscribed by the hypnosis of countless lives as a spiritual “pauper” imprisoned in the cage of the human body, the royal soul needs help: first to be reminded of its royal status, and second to be given the tools and the power to rise! This help which “cometh from the Lord” comes in the form of the true guru, one who is Self-realized.

Here, now, in the season of Christmas, we celebrate the birth of one who comes to free others. But Jesus is not the only such a one, because in every age to all people, according to their heartfelt prayers for redemption, God sends such a one to help.

Christmas is not just an abstract event far away in time and space which is endowed with spiritual significance. It is a very human event. Indeed, what could be more natural than the birth of a child! 

This newborn “Christ” is, like all infants, innocent and sweet. As we humans see in newborns new hope and promise, so this divine child brings new hope and promise to our souls. But unlike the hope most newborns bring to their human parents, the birth of an avatar brings the promise of the soul's redemption and return to its spiritual home, a "kingdom not of this world.” 

But like all infants, this newborn will need protection, care, feeding and training. Thus, too, do our souls need protection, care and feeding. And this is the role of the avatar, whether in the form of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Yogananda or others.

The claim that Jesus is the “only” one narrows the Christmas celebration to professed Christians. This makes Christmas a merely sectarian religious holiday. But Paramhansa Yogananda explained that the term “Only begotten” refers to the divine consciousness that underlies every atom. Our souls were created to re-discover that truth of who we are. And any soul which has achieved this realization is, like Jesus and the others, a living “son of God” but none can contain the Infinite. None can be the “only” one. 

“Only” refers to the omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal consciousness of God present at the still heart of all creation. It is the “only” reality that exists in the creation that is without flux or change. It is the “only” reflection of the Infinite Spirit, who is the progenitor beyond all creation and who remains untouched by the creation of which it is an invisible part! 

When an individual soul achieves this Self-identity, he can say, as Jesus and the other immortals have said, “I and my Father are One.”

May you in-joy a blessed celebration of the living Christ within and without!

Swami Hrimananda





Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Jesus the Yogi Christ : Why Celebrate the Birth of Jesus?

Christmas is for Everyone

Perhaps You-Too have discovered You-Tube? There you can learn that Jesus didn't really die on the cross but escaped to either India (Kashmir to be exact) or, to the south of France (with Mary Magdeline, of course). You might be surprised to know that an exact reckoning determined that Jesus was born on March 2, 4 B.C. (They forgot to calculate the time?) Like the Never Ending Story of science (which blows our minds every few years or decades), who knows: maybe they are right!

But what novelists, speculators, con men, scoffers or archaeologists will never change is the fact that Jesus Christ changed world history. His message and example conquered the Roman Empire (which crucified him), and in the process changed western history (and by extension, world history). More importantly, given that such “conquest” proved a mix bag to say the least, he “conquered” the hearts of countless souls down through the centuries. Witnesses to his life and thousands of others who only heard about him have given their lives willingly and joyfully to bear witness to their faith.  

Never mind that atrocities have been committed in his name or that countless followers are glued to their unyielding and untested beliefs, for ignorance and ego can be found everywhere, and not just in religion and spirituality. Never mind the “miracles” described in the life of Jesus, though, are not the discoveries of modern science every bit a miraculous to us even today? Just because we use technology doesn’t mean we have a clue about how it works! Imagine a time traveller from, say, just two hundred years ago coming to Seattle. Has not science so opened our imaginations that we can imagine “raising” the dead? Why just consider the testimony of near-death experiencers!

Truth is more vital than facts. Truth changes lives. Facts soon get lost. Eyewitness accounts demonstrate the unreliability of our five senses, our perception, and our memory! In contrast to mere facts, what about the miracle of forgiveness? The miracle of returning love for hatred? I think of Gandhi or Martin Luther King. What about helping a neighbor in need?

The spirit of Christmas is the simple, but life-changing, recognition of our shared humanity. That tiny babe in a manger so long ago is but a symbol, for what new-born is unlovable? No matter what your beliefs about that tiny babe, the reminder and the affirmation that love can be (re)born even in spite of those who would seek to destroy it, is a truth that we resonate with on a deeper level than ego. That both common “shepherds” (i.e. ordinary people) and “kings from afar” would both come to a humble manger to bow down to this truth is a symbol more powerful than any platitude eloquently expressed.

Who among us would fail to welcome society’s celebration and a reminder of our shared humanity? Especially now in these times where “getting mine first” is elevated to a philosophy, a veritable religion. Yes, like all things, Christmas can be materialistically milked for money or mere feasting.  But this “greatest story ever told” (why the greatest? Because it’s your story and mine, too), is a truth worthy of celebrating.

How should we celebrate Christmas? With gift giving, Christmas decorations, and feasting? All of those have their place for many. Who doesn’t enjoy an exuberant show of beautiful Christmas lights? By the way, did you know that the very first time a nativity scene (a live one, by the way) was created was by St. Francis in Italy in 1223?

All outward celebrations aside, followers of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the now famous book, “Autobiography of a Yogi participate in a tradition that he began which is to set aside a day of meditation on the “formless Christ”. By “formless Christ” he meant the universal divine consciousness, intelligent and wise, that resides in every person and, indeed, in every atom of creation. This divine Self, he taught, is the invisible intelligence and the pure and noble impulses that have their source in the Creator and Sustainer of all life. Yogananda taught that the “second coming of Christ” is an event that takes place in the human heart after first having been awakened by the “Christ” in human form (i.e., the guru) which can be designated as his “first” coming.

“Jesus” was the man’s name but “Christ” was the title bestowed upon him. “Christ” signifies that he had achieved realization of his innate divine nature. While we all possess this innate divine nature, few have sought it, and fewer have yet to “become One with the Father.” Whether this takes one lifetime or a thousand, it is for this purpose we were created. It is our destiny to achieve this oneness, but it is only by the free choice of our hearts that we begin the journey “home” to claim our royal birthright just as in the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son. (You might find it interesting to know that the title of “Christ” is etymologically connected with the word “Krishna” and carries the same significance.)

Let us, then, honor the tiny babe in a manger whose shining face is our face when we love all without condition. Let the purity of a newborn’s trust and openness be nurtured in our hearts during this holy season and in every day of our life. Love is the redeeming power of the universe and it never fails to resurface no matter how dark the days may get. 


Happy Christmas to all!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ego: the Last Temptation! The Dark Night of the Soul

Some of you may wonder why I would write about something so distant from our own state of consciousness and the pressing needs of our daily life? 

And you would do right to ask this question. But as someone wise once put it, "If you don't know where you're going, anywhere will get you there."

Or to quote the old Hermetic doctrine: "As above, so below."

We can learn much from the lives of those who have gone before us on the spiritual path and achieved soul liberation. 

In exploring this subject, please permit me a certain randomness befitting of reflections that are necessarily intuitive or, at worst, speculative.

I've mentioned this before, but I've always found it curious that both Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. considered themselves a failure just about the time each was assassinated. (Though Rev. King seemed to have had a deep spiritual experience the afternoon of his last speech (before his assassination), in general he was disheartened about his life's work.)

Paramhansa Yogananda told Swami Kriyananda in answer to Swamiji's question to his guru, "When will I find God?" that "You will find God in this lifetime but death will be your final sacrifice."

Success in any endeavor, whether material, scientific, inventive, artistic, or spiritual, requires effort and self-sacrifice. (Never mind those born with the proverbial "silver spoon." Such cases have nothing practical to offer us by way of example.) For "the pearl of great price" is not to be purchased cheaply. 

Christianity may have had a corner on the market of institutional organization and succession, but India has cornered the "market" on building a "database" of the unfoldment of the soul's inner life. 

The yogic traditions have evolved a veritable science which details changes in consciousness and their manifestations as the soul progresses towards "moksha" (freedom). 

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is among the most renown and most clinical of such chronicles but by no means the only one. Countless stories from the lives of great saints form a body of knowledge illustrating the stages of awakening. 

The Bhagavad Gita depicts the "Everyman devotee" as losing heart early on in the spiritual journey, especially when encountering the army of habits, attitudes, and past actions which stand between him and "heaven." The beloved scripture of the Gita assures us that no spiritual effort is ever lost and should one fail to achieve freedom in one life, the next life will afford the opportunity to continue the journey.

Among the key ingredients of the climb up "Mount Carmel" (or, if you prefer, Mt. Meru) is faith and courage. Also essential is devotion. The fact that the devotee's devotion, faith, and/or courage fails him or her with cyclical frequency is the story of the soul: the "Greatest Story on Earth." The need for a guide to take us up the mountain of karma is a prerequisite that we see in the lives of those who conquered the peak of liberation.

Yoga describes this upward journey through the unfoldment of certain soul qualities and through their outward manifestation in certain gifts or powers. This article doesn't intend to explore these but a simplified description for illustration purposes might be useful.

We must first be convinced that false, deceptive or hurtful attitudes and actions must be released. We must learn the importance of truth-telling, contentment, non-violence, moderation and the like.

This leads us to being centered within our selves: self-contained, as it were. It's like preparing to climb Mt. Everest: we must decide to go and to let go of all other activities; we must gather our supplies and our strength for the climb. Our commitment must be unshakeable and we must have training for the rigors ahead. Our intention must be one-pointed and courageously heart-felt and pure of any other motives and distractions.

Once the climb begins in earnest and as we ascend our mind's focus becomes narrow: narrow in the sense of what a climber experiences from one moment to the next; one hand-hold, one toe-hold, one ice axe arrest; one cable hold to the next. The world around us recedes as our mind focuses on the present moment with great intensity. Far below us in the plains lie the busy-ness of the world but here, on the steep slopes of ice, snow and wind, there is only our next step. 

Death by cold, avalanche, starvation, or fall lurk around us every inch of the way. We increasingly rely upon our mountain guide for the way is narrow and steep. 

The spiritual path, as most truthseekers experience it, is a battle that takes place back down on the plains, long before our arduous ascent up the mountain. The gathering of supplies and training has to do with releasing false and hurtful habits and adopting new and spiritually healthy ones. 

Using the symbol of the cross, with its vertical and horizontal planes, these first stages deal mostly with the horizontal. Arms outstretched, we draw in and away from identification with and attachment to the world of the senses and the world of desires and fears which are centered around the ego and body.

But the climb up the mountain deals with the vertical plane of the cross. The preparations for and training for the ascent is crucial. Unprepared we might never make it. Hence, most of us are dealing with the horizontal: our relationship with the world around us.

Suffice to say, how often on the horizontal plane does our courage and faith fail us, even if momentarily. Preparing for the vertical ascent is itself a great victory (and a necessary one). The failures, discouragements, and doubts are, in themselves, mini-versions of the dark night of the soul (even if nowhere near the "last temptation").

Do you recall the temptation of Christ in the New Testament? Thus had Jesus conquered and cauterized all human attachments and, in the desert wilderness of inner silence was poised or at least "fit" to ascend to the Father, Satan ("Maya" or the Conscious Delusive Force) appears to test him. The horizontal plane had been withdrawn inward and only the vertical remained.

Satan then tempts Jesus to use his dominion over all nature (the power indicative of conquering the horizontal plane of earthly attachments) to bring him food (after his 40-day fast); to exercise earthly and material powers (e.g. as a conqueror or emperor). 

This is the last test: the test of ego and the test of power over all creation. Buddha faced the same test under the bodhi tree: Maya also appeared to him to test him. Buddha, too, responded exactly as Jesus did: "Mara (Maya), Mara, I have conquered thee (or, "Get thee behind me Satan").

In the science of yoga, the negative pole of the sixth chakra is the seat of ego-consciousness in the body. It is located at the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain (seat of our lower brain functions, the so-called "reptile" or "fight or flight" functions). 

In the rising power of Kundalini ("the entrenched vitality of our mortal delusion" - Swami Kriyananda, "Art and Science of Raja Yoga), it has one last test: to offer itself into the Divine Light. In the soul's journey, the ego slowly and in fits and starts intuits the goal of life as transcendence from both the horizontal plane of creation AND the vertical plane of separate existence. 

As step by step, the ego invites the hidden and locked Kundalini power to uncoil, together they win victories on both the horizontal plane and the vertical plane. At first, as mentioned above, the horizontal plane is the primary focus. But at each step the soul force of divine grace is what vitalizes the ego's will and intention to victory. 

As the horizontal "plains" far below in the lower psychic centers of the chakras fall away, the soul increasingly focuses on ascending the vertical plane. Here too there are many knots to be untied in the invisible world of consciousness. Far more subtle and spiritually dangerous are the distractions and temptations which lie in the upper centers (chakras).

"Pride goeth before the fall." While pride associated with worldly wealth, power or pleasures is continually under assault from other egos and the forces of duality in the world, spiritual power emanates from within and cannot so easily be taken from us. India's spiritual wealth is filled with stories of the temptations of pride from spiritual power.

But when the ego is stripped and made clean of all attributes, self-definitions and attachments, what remains is pure consciousness and consciousness is its own vitalizing reward. Many saints remain in an I-Thou relationship with God for even lifetimes.

In the life of Paramhansa Ramakrishna, it was his guru, Totapuri, who with great force broke the spell of Ramakrishna's love affair with Goddess Kali so that Ramakrishna could enter cosmic consciousness in the state of samadhi.

As the great master, Moses, led his "people" to the Promised Land but could not, himself, enter into it, so too the ego can lead the "people" of its own self-definitions but must die before the Promised Land can be entered. 

So, too, the great warrior, Bhishma, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (in the epic of the Mahabharata) had the boon to die only when he willingly surrendered. For he also symbolized the ego.

The stories from the lives of saints continue in this vein to state that the final sacrifice the soul is asked to make is to surrender its separate identity (the ego) into the great Light of God.

Paramhansa Yogananda's most advanced disciple, whom he named Rajarsi Janakananda, faced the darkness before entering final liberation. After years of spiritual consolations afforded him by visions and visitations by his guru and great saints and many other deep inner experiences, there, at last, came a time when only darkness appeared within. 

He had to face this darkness. The darkness that faces the soul is the seemingly real possibility of extinction, of complete annihilation of one's existence. With no guiding, welcoming light, nor the smiling countenance of his guru, neither reason nor logic, nor books on the subject could assure him that the darkness was not real; at this moment, one's "rod and staff" are solely faith and courage. 

We can write or talk about this all day but, just as when most humans face the very real possibility of physical death, there's no play acting left, so too the soul must confront its own extinction in order to pass the last test of its life. 

St. Anthony of the Desert faced this after decades of prayer and solitude in the Egyptian desert. When the tomb which was his home began to crack and crumble, he cried out to his guru, Jesus. 

After Anthony had passed this final test, Jesus appeared to him. Anthony asked Jesus, "Where have you been all these years?" Jesus smiled reassuringly, "Anthony, I have always been with you!" But we, like Anthony, are not permitted to know that until we have passed the final test of darkness. And why is this? Because only in complete oneness is our realization safe from doubts. 

We have no choice in life but to someday face the death of our human body. But we can postpone forever facing the dark night of the soul. "I will wait," says God. But our destiny is to conquer Maya and so shall we conquer, for time itself is but an illusion. But so long as we measure time, why wait? 

When the great Buddha encountered the three-fold sufferings of human life (illness, old age and death), he vowed to conquer them. And so must we. When our soul tires of repeated rounds of rebirth on the wheel of samsara, it too will cry out to Divine Mother for help. Why wait?

The little darknesses of our daily or weekly crises of faith and courage are "baby steps" which can prepare us for the big step. Whether it be lifetimes or this life, let us remain "awake and ready" for we can never know the hour or the place, for "He comes like a thief in the night!"

The realm of Infinity is beyond light or dark. It is the realm of eternal bliss which is God. When we conquer Mara, we will view our past lives of joy and sorrow as but a great novel with a victorious ending!

Joy to you,

Swami Hrimananda


Monday, October 15, 2018

Family Opposition to your Spiritual Path

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (from 1901 to 1909).

Or, to quote Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the popular spiritual classic, "Autobiography of a Yogi"), “An easy life is not a victorious life.”

Most of us won’t have our personal victories chronicled in a movie, book, or news article but all of us face challenges which, for us, are sufficient “unto the day” to test our commitment to our spiritual ideals and practices. Maybe it is the discipline to get up the morning early enough to meditate; or, to be kind instead of cold to another person; to be positive when our inclination is to be grumpy or to gossip.

For those whose spirituality has turned toward the east, towards yoga and meditation, or towards discipleship to a guru, we often encounter resistance, displeasure, doubt or sarcasm from our family and friends. Some of this might exist even if our spirituality were to have taken a more orthodox form but certainly it is true for people such as followers of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Resistance to the spiritual life comes from a lot more than just a family member. This resistance exists in our own ego and subconscious mind as well as in the minds of others. More than this, even, is the overarching, cosmic impulse toward separation from God which is called many things: maya, delusion, or the satanic force. 

But as it relates to those close to us, to what extent for the sake of harmony should we bow to their displeasure and rein in the time we devote to spiritual practices or participation? 

Jesus Christ (no stranger to opposition) has something to say on this question. He gave to us this counsel:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
He that findeth [that is to say, that clingeth to] his life shall lose it: and he that loseth [in other words, that giveth up] his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

I don’t think it gets clearer than this. However, not every seeker or devotee possesses the same commitment to the spiritual path and thus, in actual practice, each must find his or her own way on this issue. We want to be long-distance spiritual runners, on the one hand, and at the same time, we love, respect, and seek to be loyal to our nearest and dearest. If reason alone could persuade them of acceptance of your inspiration and spiritual life that would be lovely but I know from experience that it is often not that simple. 

Trying to convince another person of the validity and power of one's newly acquired spirituality can almost always be depended upon to backfire. The fact hasn't stopped far too many initiates from trying this well worn but weed-infested path. I personally was spared this all-too-frequent temptation but many of my friends succumbed. It would be sometimes years before the subject could ever broached again.

Besides, religion, along with sex, money, in-laws, food and child-raising, is among the most taboo or difficult topics to broach between spouses or close friends. 

But the principle of standing firm on one's spiritual path remains valid even if how, when, and to what extent to do so remains very individual. It is worth saying, and this entire article is an admission of it, such opposition is a personal test for many, many devotees. Until our soul awakens us to the earnestness of our search, we might falsely imagine our spiritual life is simply another form of being a "weekend warrior." "Magnetism is the law" and the company we keep largely determines the direction of our soul's journey. Can the devotee continue to meet his drinking buddies at the bar and then head off to group meditation? Hmmm, think again! 

If for you, the accommodations you must make to the opinions of others seem stifling to you right now, I suggest you seek wise counsel but remember the adage that “patience is the quickest way to God.” How often have I seen that in time and with patience (and steadfastly walking the inner path), it is the loved one who comes ‘round to an acceptance of one’s spiritual path and practices? But this won't happen if your own commitment to the spiritual path is wishy-washy. They will only respect you if you are loyal to your own principles.  

If this is your test, are you patient? Or, are you a “pleaser” or perhaps even a coward? Or, are you judgmental and defiant? Maybe your commitment to the spiritual path is, itself, lukewarm, or plagued with doubts? Only your backbone knows! There is no rule except your own conscience. But hold fast to the need for firmness, courage and commitment and know that your own attachment to the opinions of others or fear of their displeasure is your own spiritual test. Not to deal with it is to create a block to your spiritual growth. 

May I suggest an experiment? In order to see which end of the spectrum between patience and courage you need to work on, try carefully choosing occasions to calmly, kindly, and lovingly assert your need to engage in your spiritual practices or life! (including satsang, retreat, pilgrimage, service, etc.).

Then, observe your reaction and that also of the other person. If you are nervous and fearful, you may need to be more courageous. If in response to your assertion, the other person refuses to acknowledge your need, and anger arises within you, you may need to work on patience.  

Generally, when your assertion is centered in deep calmness and righteousness, you’ll find approval or, in the case of rejection, you’ll remain calm (but not indifferent) regardless of whether you proceed or back down. 

But heed this warning: don't excuse your own lack of courage or commitment to your spiritual path with the claim that familial harmony is the higher priority or dharma. In most circumstances, it IS the priority but, to quote the scriptures of India, "When a higher dharma conflicts with a lower dharma, the lower ceases to be dharma."

In such a case the "dharma" includes your opportunity to be strong in yourself in walking your spiritual path but without being antagonistic or resentful toward the other. The harmony sought is first and foremost an inner harmony and only secondarily an outer one (which circumstances and karma may sometimes render impossible). We can't nor should we control how other people receive our sincere and pure intentions.

Is it possible that the conflict might justify ending the relationship? This question is too delicate to answer even in generalities in an article like this. But it certainly CAN be a justification. For such a question you need competent and wise spiritual counsel (and not just psychological counsel).

In all cases, strive to see the divine presence in others, even those who might oppose your spiritual efforts. See in them not their egoity but their shining souls within. Similarly, rise above familial attachment as in the thought “you are mine” in favor of “We are each a child of God, made in the divine image. We are God serving God” walking the path of life toward truth, each in our own, unique way. Whether you need more courage or more patience, either way, your loved one acts as an instrument of the divine will because, either way, the test is yours. (It is also theirs but you should respect their free will to deal with it in their way.) 
Victory requires the courage of conviction!

Joy to you,
Swami Hrimananda


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares: Yogavatar (1828-1895)

September 26 (today, as I write), 1895, Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares left this earth plane in a conscious exit in the presence of a group of disciples. His birth, in 1828, was on September 30! Thus we have a convenient few days to give Lahiri focused reflections.



The significance of Lahiri Mahasaya's life can be summarized to include:

  • He was the param-guru (guru of his guru) of Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the widely acclaimed AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI). Lahiri Mahasaya exercised a profound influence in the life of Yogananda.
  • It was he who was commissioned in 1861 by the incomparable Babaji to spread the practice and teachings of Kriya Yoga.
  • Though a Brahmin and a yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya was NOT a Swami; he was married; had children, and was a career accountant during British rule. He, therefore, showed how one could live IN the world even while making definite spiritual progress toward soul liberation.
  • Despite rigid caste customs at the time, Lahiri Mahasaya (LM) initiated individuals from all castes and various religions without regard to gender, status, or position.
  • He discouraged fruitless theoretical discussion of the scriptures and preferred direct, intuitive realization of their message. "Solve your problems through meditation" he counselled. 
  • LM performed civic and community service in addition to his spiritual training in kriya yoga and spirituality.
  • LM gave inspired interpretations of traditional Indian scriptures that unlocked keys to a broader and universal understanding applicable to everyone.
  • LM studied, practised and then reduced to practical simplicity and application the tangle of yogic practices so that anyone could learn their essence and make significant spiritual progress.
  • LM gave down-to-earth practical counsel to those who came to him sincerely for help.
  • LM guided individual "chelas" (disciples) with words that were "mild and healing."
  • Besides, Paramhansa Yogananda, LM initiated many saints and highly advanced disciples, and, others with influential worldly positions.
  • In the presence of many disciples, LM casually exhibited yogic powers of breathlessness, sleeplessness, cessation of pulse and heartbeat, unblinking eyes (for hours), and a profound "aura" of peace.
  • In accordance with ancient practices, he gave for the cure of various diseases a specially prepared "neem" oil.
  • LM transformed the seemingly mysterious practices of yoga into a definite scientific practice.
  • LM demonstrated to close disciples all the signature powers of a great saint and avatar, including bi-location, resurrection, healing, levitation, raising the dead and much more.
  • Paramhansa Yogananda proclaimed LM a "Yogavatar," or incarnation of Yoga.
  • Yogananda wrote of LM: "His uniqueness as a prophet lies in his practical stress on a definite method, Kriya, opening for the first time the doors of yoga freedom to all."
Lahiri Mahasaya Maharaja-ki, Jai!

Joy to you,
Swami Hrimananda

reference: Chapter 35, The Christlike Life of Lahiri Mahasaya, from AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, by Paramhansa Yogananda.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Is Life Addictive? A Virgo Ruminates

I got a good laugh a few years ago when a knowledgeable astrologer burst my bubble and insisted I was a "Virgo!" I had developed the habit of excoriating Virgos as those with a tendency to obsess with the details. 

Prior to that, I used to think I was a well-balanced Libra! Accordingly, I never considered myself to have an addictive personality and in that, at least, I think I am correct. But I've come to see "addiction" from a new perspective: one that I choose to call a Vedantic view.

It used to be that the term "addiction" applied to drugs (from nicotine to heroin) and alcohol. Now, however, the term applies to any self-destructive habit (over-eating, sex obsessions, gambling, fanaticism or binging of any kind, and numerous other harmful habits).

"In for a penny, in for a pound" suggests that life itself is an addiction: desires so pressing and so varied as to be as innumerable as they are ubiquitous. Think of the million and one hobbies, which though not destructive, are compulsive and at least "keep people off the streets!"

Once we strip the term "addictive" of its overtly negative connotations, we can say that life itself is addictive because "life is habit forming." Consider the strength behind the compulsive desire for human love; children; approval and recognition; success and security; pleasure and comfort: just to name a few.

From the perspective of yoga and from the general perspective of orthodox religion with its obsession on sin, life can be seen as an impulse away from the perfection of the soul (made in the image of God) and consisting of a flow outwards seeking fulfilment in egocentric experiences and possessions ((materialism-sin). 

For most people, human life is nothing less than the search for satisfaction pursuing life's myriad promises of happiness. If so, what could be more addictive than this? Few even question it; fewer can imagine (until it's too late) that these promises will prove false. 

Add to this view of life the possibility of our having lived countless previous lives (with countless more to come) conditioned by the consequences of past actions, desires and fear and you may suddenly feel like the giant in Gulliver's Travels held captive by countless small threads. No wonder the concept of determinism or fatalism haunts our darker moments. Isn't this how it feels when one is deeply depressed? Like there's no way out?

Leaving aside the present consequences of past actions, think of how often we seek to cure our boredom or malaise by chasing new forms of excitement; new partners, jobs, hobbies, travel; of how "hope springs eternal" in ever new forms of preoccupation. Think of the near-universal obsession humanity possesses for vicariously experiencing (through movies, books, etc.) war, love, adventure, crime, drama, intrigue, and violence. We are too often desperate for stimulation lest we question whether we are still alive. 

Admittedly, those who don't seek new sources of feeling alive may well be wishing they weren't. But must life always swing from one extreme to another?

There is a way out. It is the third state of consciousness: inner peace; contentment; acceptance. And, while we perhaps imagine such a state as passive and all but comatose, the truth is far different.  

There are those who, however statistically few in number they may be, are calm, centered in themselves, quietly confident, and possessed of strength and willpower while focused one-pointedly on what's before them. These can be saints, scientists, business entrepreneurs, parents, teachers: in fact, any outward role can be accomplished while living in (but not merely for) the present and for the goals present actions are intended. A saint will be focused on God while an inventor will be focused on his invention but while the former may lead to the beatitude of certitude and the latter to but a passing experience, the experience of calm, one-pointed concentration has its own reward.

For most humans, life IS addictive. It is "restless by nature" (and I mean that literally). Our reptilian past-biases incline us to fear and competition, or fight or flight. 

The practices of (physical) yoga and meditation are consciously designed to calm the "natural tumult" provoked by the five senses and enhanced by memory and imagination. Both physical yoga and meditation are properly included in the term "yoga. Yoga bestows presence of mind and body. 

At the center of this tumult is the inner peace mentioned above. In that state, we are in the eye of the storm of "I." In this state, the "I" subsides and a higher Eye becomes the Seer and viewer of the parade of life. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote: “When this “I” shall die, then shall I know “Who am I!”

Take for yourself the identity and self-image of a wise and noble seer: a Moses; a mystic; a Christ; Buddha; Lao-Tse; Yogananda. In various ways, each counsels us to move through life as a great actor playing various roles with excellence, artistic flair, and enthusiasm while never being anything but the unique and individual you: always the same and untouched by the drama and the script you have to play.

Enjoy both being entertained, and entertaining others, yet while remaining cognizant that the "drama of life has for its meaning that it is simply a drama." (Paramhansa Yogananda: Essence of Self-Realization). 

Yes, you can cry and grieve, just like those great actors in a Shakespearean play. But in the end, you are purified, made clean and whole. In joy or sorrow, your response is the one appropriate to the script of your life at that moment. But act nonetheless with inner freedom, remaining a little apart from your actions, being mindful, self-aware and in touch with the river of inner peace.

Don't be an addict of life. Those who addicted to the drama of life are compelled to experience the highs and lows without end in what becomes, to the soul at least, a living hell. (The ego may crave the drama for fear of the silence but it is simply mistaken and habituated to restlessness.) 

Consider the toddler who bursts into a tantrum ("Tantrum yoga") one moment and squeals with glee the next. Consider that you can barely remember what you were thinking five minutes ago. Your memories of last year or your childhood are but fleeting and static. Think of all the emotional cloudbursts of pleasure and pain you have experienced. Can you even remember more than just a few? 

Life is a river that flows toward the sea of peace, joy, and calmness. Do what is yours to do; what you are called to do by righteousness and do it with enthusiasm, creativity, and concentration. At the same time, and such is the paradox of existence in the realm of duality where "All is flux" (Pantha rhe), do it even while not feeling that you are the Doer; rather, see yourself as a channel through which "life" flows but doesn't stop as it wends its way to the sea.

This inner peace can be called "God." For this Peace is alive and Self-aware. God can respond and guide you should you form a deep and loving relationship with Him/Her who is our Creator, our Life, our true Self. And THAT who is without name, gender, or form. 

We "worship" God by seeking inner communion with God's manifestation in our consciousness in the various forms such as inner peace, unconditional love or joy, light, energy or the sound of the wordless Word. In this, we cannot help but feel gratitude, sacredness, reverence, and humility. 

Addiction is our natural, egoic state. Therefore, working to transcend its influence should be a natural and joyful one. Through the daily practice of yoga, the memory of this higher and original state of our soul can reawaken. This state is the "third rail" of happiness and fulfilment.

Let inner peace be your "addiction," 

Swami Hrimananda




Saturday, September 1, 2018

Why Celebrate Labor Day?

Welcome to America's annual celebration of labor: Labor Day! What exactly is there to celebrate? Or, to contemplate?

1. Swami Sri Yukteswar is quoted by Paramhansa Yogananda in "Autobiography of a Yogi" saying, "Those who are too good for this world are adorning some other. So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service. He alone who has fully mastered the breathless state is freed from cosmic imperatives. I will not fail to let you know when you have attained the final perfection." Whew! 

2. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna counsels Arjuna: "Action is a duty, but let not your ego crave the fruits of action. Be not attached either to action or to inaction." (2:40). "No one can remain actionless for even a moment; all are compelled (by Nature), whether willingly or unwillingly, to be active, driven by the qualities (impulses) of Nature. One who forsakes work (in the name of divine aloofness from activity) cannot reach perfection. (3:4,5). Our physical nature compels us to feed, clothe, shelter, and protect our bodies. We are dependent upon and an integral part of the world around us.

3. When I see a person begging on the street I think to myself, is not the real tragedy the lack or failure to be creatively engaged and serviceful? In America, at least, finding food, shelter and clothing isn't (technically) all that difficult. While such is the basic prerequisite to being serviceful and engaged, it's the lack of creative engagement that drains the spirit. How often have you wondered, seeing such a person, "If he would only ask for work, then perhaps he could feed himself!" Well, of course, I am greatly oversimplifying a complex and very individual situation (consider, e.g., substance addiction, mental illness, and lack of basic needs) but I think replacing beggary with service holds a secret to overcoming the karma that puts one in such a depressing circumstance.

4. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in Him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) The creation is a great drama and not just for the comedies, tragedies, joys and sorrows that vie constantly for supremacy. We should cherish the world, life, and our legitimate duties and creative impulses and inspirations as a means of rejoicing, acknowledging, and fulfilling the manifestation of the "Son" (the indwelling divinity within us and all creation). The creation IS God in vibration and in joyful intelligence. Serving and doing our best to live a God-centered life, a life of joy, wisdom,, compassion and creative activity honors the "Christ" in creation and in our souls. We potentially manifest "Christ consciousness" in joyful, creative service.

5. It used to be common for acquaintances to greet one another with the question, "How are you, keeping busy?" I used to wonder what was so special about "keeping busy?" Most people I know feel they have "too much on my plate." Maybe this (mindless) greeting was a holdover from the Depression of the 1930's when fear of losing or having a job was uppermost. We should learn to be "calmly active, and actively calm" as Yogananda would put it. Let, therefore, our "labor" be one that is calm, conscious, "present," and intentional!

6. Lastly, should you be burdened by what strikes you as an unsatisfactory role in life, begin first by affirming gratitude for the opportunity to serve in whatever way life gives to you. By accepting what is, you can fulfil your duties or experience your circumstances with a pleasant state of mind. This is the first step to working out whatever past action of your own that has placed you in this situationThink about how you can do better or how you can help others, even if in silent thought and prayer. Draw into your consciousness the love of God and share that love with all. Even if you are bedridden and cannot serve in any obvious outward way, you can serve those who serve you with your smile, your love, your gratitude and your sincere wish to help them through prayer.

Let us, then, honor "Labor Day" as the creative manifestation of God IN and AS creation through the active engagement of our soul expressing itself through the vehicle of the human form in the great play ("lila") of life. Celebrate whatever health, intelligence, education or talents you might have been blessed to receive in this life that you might serve as a channel of divine blessing bringing joy, intelligence, and love into this world of duality. Be grateful for the creative energy of countless others whose contributions and discoveries make our own life safer, more healthy, and more productive.

Let us "honor" the labor of love out of which God has become this creation by "laboring" with His love!

Blessings,

Swami Hrimananda

PS: Tomorrow (Sep 2, 2018) is the day on which Hindus celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Who Was History's First Guru?

I had promised another "deep" topic from my vacation: Who was the world's first true guru?

If the soul needs a guru in order to achieve enlightenment, how did the first guru get enlightened?

Could an "alien" guru have come to earth and initiated someone? If so, this doesn't really answer the question; it merely moves it off to some other planet! So even if this is a possibility, it isn't really more than a sidebar to the main question.

The heart of this deep and all but useless question has two parts: 1) Is the teaching that "we each need a guru in order to achieve enlightenment" a true teaching? and 2) if so, how then did the first guru achieve enlightenment?

Since I am not here to question the teaching of whether we need a guru, I am sticking with the second question. It's not that I am afraid of the first question. Instead, my summer vacation meanderings are purposely useless and thus oriented towards the second question.

The deeper heart of such questions revolves around the role of God in human history. In the prior blog in which we discussed the "soul of dirt" I shared that Paramhansa Yogananda taught that science would never find the "missing link" between, say, monkeys and, say, humans. I opined (entirely personal speculation) that, at a minimum, Yogananda was perhaps and in effect simply affirming the view that the human body (with its potential for transcendent consciousness) could never be the mere result of a mechanical process based on biological impulses such as the law of survival or procreation.

Yogananda's actual words were more straightforward and resemble the words of Genesis in the Bible stating matter of factly that God intervened into the process. But as he uncharacteristically failed to explain any further, we are left with what seems like just another dogmatic religious statement. It is natural (well, for me, at least) to want to bridge the gap between those apes we so uncomfortably resemble and our divine soul-self. A win-win or BOTH-AND, as it were, seems required.

Certainly, the common speculation that highly evolved beings from another planet arrived on earth and did some "experimentation" is not an unreasonable one, though it simply postpones the core question off unto some other planet.

Here are some interesting tidbits from Yogananda's teachings that may hint at how the first guru came of age:


  • Humanity enters into a high age of consciousness on the basis of a cycle of ages that requires a 12,000 year half cycle to go through each of four stages. The highest stage is called "Satya yuga" and in this age humanity is said, generally speaking, to "know" God and to perceive divine realities.
  •  
  • In such an age or in the consciousness of one who has achieved the equivalent of Satya Yuga consciousness, children can be conceived in a non-sexual manner (not unlike has been demonstrated with certain animal species which, though normally reproducing in a sexual manner, have shown instances of conception without sexual means.) This is done through the will center at the point between the eyebrows, Yogananda wrote. Though Yogananda was careful to avoid a definitive statement on the conception of Jesus by a virgin, he made it clear that this was possible though not a requirement for the conception of an avatar.
  •   
  • Souls are born on different planets according to their own spiritual development.

  • There are entire planets whose inhabitants are either highly evolved (spiritually) or the opposite. He stated that when or if the inhabitants of a planet's achieved complete identification with the highest consciousness (and possibly also the lowest), that planet might be dissolved.

  • Yogananda commented that there was some truth to the UFO sightings in the late 1940's or early 1950's.

  • Yogananda's famous life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," gives multiple instances of physical reincarnation by enlightened souls. He endorsed the teaching of Jesus' physical resurrection also.

  • Yogananda made references in his writings that indicate he perceived that deities and other astral and causal beings are assigned certain executive functions in the creation, maintenance, and dissolution of the physical cosmos or parts thereof. Some of these functionaries are souls that have evolved to earn the role of serving in these functions in such a way as to suggest the functions are separate from the souls who are responsible for the functions. He wrote about angels, fairies, goblins, demons, and various astral entities commonly ascribed to earth wisdom or scriptures.
So, cherry picking from among some of the teachings of Yogananda's as listed above, let us consider the following:

1. Perhaps an enlightened being did come from another planet.

2. Why couldn't an astral entity (angel, e.g.) simply take human form on earth, perhaps during the highest age, and conceive the human race (whether asexually or sexually)?

3. According to the Bible (Adam and Eve) and other creation tales, the first humans were in fact enlightened (though evidently not liberated and thus not free from temptation). Though the Adam and Eve story is also clearly an allegory of the soul's fall from grace (higher consciousness) and while the appearance of prophets and messiah later in the Bible represent the appearance of the guru in human history, who is to say that at the inception of the human race there wasn't, in fact, the "antidote" to delusion: a true guru?  The story of the "Fall" necessitates a journey first away from God and then, like the story of the Prodigal Son, a return to God. This takes place in the context of time and space lest there be no recognizable human story. After all, it is also an axiom that the "guru (only) appears when the disciple (the soul) is ready (with eyes to see)."

4. Just as only a few humans in history were privileged to witness the resurrection of an avatar, the Theory of Relativity is no less true just because few have ever duplicated Einstein's equation, E=mc2. Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle! Why should ignorance be the standard for truth? What we know today would seem miraculous to those born even a few hundred years ago.

5. The necessity for some form of divine intervention might also symbolize that higher consciousness is NOT a product of the subconscious mind but a "bolt of lightning" of intuition, from the superconscious mind. How could sub-conscious forces produce a superconscious form (the human body)?

So whatever the actual mechanics of the explanation for the appearance of the human body AND the appearance of an enlightened soul (avatar/master), an extra-ordinary, a suprasensory event or cause surely must be required.

From a Super-duper, not sub-gum, Duff(er),

Swami Duffananda



Monday, August 20, 2018

Reflections from Vacation: Does Dirt Have a Soul?

Paramhansa Yogananda once stated that “I remembered my incarnation as a diamond!”

What do you do with THAT? Does every grain of dirt or rock possess a soul? If our souls are “as old as God” how do we get to the human level? Did we start at some exalted level and then became dumber, rock-like, as it were?

These are, admittedly, seriously Unimportant questions. Fitting for a lazy, summer afternoon when all of the world’s problems have finally been solved while sitting on the deck enjoying the view.

Here are some things as I believe I have learned them in the context of Vedanta and the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda:

God created all things.

God created all things by becoming them and planted within them the seed of His own intention to create. And why? It is the nature of Bliss to share.

God is beyond His own creation and remains untouched by it. God is Satchidanandam: ever-existing (immortal), ever-conscious (omniscient), and ever-new bliss (omnipresent).

God’s nature is triune: FIRST: There is the “Father” Spirit who is the source of creation and yet beyond and untouched by His creation. SECOND: There is the Mother of creation, or Holy Ghost, the initial and primordial vibration of God out of which all creation is made manifest, sustained, and withdrawn. This is the “Word” or “Comforter” in whom (by deep experiential attunement) “all things are known.” As all things in creation are vibrating, so the Aum Vibration (the Divine Mother) is the underlying reality, undifferentiated, of all things and thus described as a “virgin,” meaning untouched by the specific qualities (good, bad, indifferent) subsequently manifested by each item in creation. THIRD: There is the “only begotten son of God” which is the vibrationless reflection of the Father-Spirit which resides as the indwelling divine intelligence at the still, unmoving heart of every atom of creation. By planting His “seed” (or “His vibrationless bliss & His intention to create) in the womb of the (vibrating) Mother of creation, God ensures creation’s perpetuation.

The outflowing pulsation of the Holy Ghost (the Aum vibration) into creation steadily picks up “speed and substance” as it moves through the levels of creation. It begins to acquire a sense of its separateness, enjoys that I-ness, and begins to actively pursue perpetuating itself and the creation as a separate force, being, and entity from God. It is called maya, or the satanic force. It seeks others of like mind to further draw away from God into its own orbit of increasing darkness, no longer comprehending the light which gave it initial birth.

This outflowing force is countered by the soothing sound of the in-flowing power of Aum to draw all beings back to its Source in Bliss.

We are made in the image of God. We must, therefore, possess a triune nature as well.

There are three levels of creation: FIRST is thought (causal-intentional-idea-blissful); SECOND is energy (feeling-finer electrical and atomic forces-light-astral-subtle and prototypical life force and subtle forms), and THIRD is matter (objectified creation).

The soul appears on the casual level; the ego appears on the astral level; the human body appears on the physical level as a necessary extension of the ego’s desires and attachments.

Paramhansa Yogananda described the ego as the “soul identified with the body.” This identification is temporary. The ego is a “bundle of self-definitions” and a bundle of countless impressions (vasanas), actions (karma producing vrittis), and samskaras (tendencies). Implicit in Yogananda’s definition is that ego possesses at least a modicum of awareness of itself as distinct from other selves: hence, a key attribute of ego is self-awareness.

Animals, nations, races, etc., have a mass karma which has its roots in their identification with their species and behavior and qualities of its nature.


Does dirt have a soul? If all things ARE God in manifestation then all things exist in the three-fold creation of casual, astral and physical. Thus all objects partake in the essence of God and thus can be said to have a soul at least in the sense of possessing at its heart the blissful intelligence and intention of God (beyond creation). It is that seed of intelligence that permits each object to manifest and sustain itself AS itself, so that dirt look like dirt, and chickens behave as chickens.

But: and there’s always a butt in the crowd, where’s the ego in dirt? The ego in dirt lacks self-awareness, so for all practical purposes you can say there’s no ego there. While certainly the divine causal consciousness of dirt has manifested the outer form of dirt, self-awareness is NOT manifested, though it is, by necessity and definition, latent. To quote an ancient sloka: “God sleeps in the rocks.” Still, dirt IS dirt and retains all of dirt’s manifold and wonderful attributes (which I will not bother to name). The existence of dirt suggests a rudimentary intelligence but there is no evidence an ego.

On the fungible level of dirt, minerals, gasses and the like, the innate God consciousness at their heart may be a kind of soul-force but they exhibit no sign of separate, self-awareness beyond the rudimentary intelligence that guides such forms of matter to behave in ways appropriate to their form and function.
Soul-force at this basic level can presumably merge and divide endlessly without distinction, gain or loss. All creation is, in effect, an infinite variety of divine sparks whose uniqueness relates to the form assumed.

We love nature and most animals because, inter alia, they are relatively ego-less. The ego arises with the perception of separateness which has latent within it the implicit potential for self-awareness. Thus a worm wriggles away if pricked with a pin just as simple cells and lower life forms attempt to avoid being eaten. The latency of self-awareness can evolve as the forms themselves contain an ever greater potential to express it. Some animals (dogs, horses, etc.) are more intelligent, or, put more correctly, more self-aware than others (think, e.g., chickens).

Yogananda claimed that the “missing link” would never be found because the appearance of the human form was not a mere accident or result of a mechanical or mindless evolutionary biology prompted by the impulse to survive and procreate. Instead, the human form, he insisted, resulted from an act of divine intervention. (I posit that his statement might have been a way to affirm that behind evolution is a superconscious, or divine, intention whose purpose was and is to evolve a form capable of achieving cosmic consciousness. But, so far as I am aware, he never explained this.)

To God, who is Infinite, time has little meaning. It might take “forever” to evolve the human body to be capable of perceiving God directly through intuition (in cosmic consciousness) but “what is time to Him?”

In the great drama of life from the God’s-I point of view, the purpose of the “drama of life is the fact that it is but a drama.” The creation exists as a great riddle the solution to which is to unmask the illusion of separateness and reveal the substance of creation as Ekam Sat: God alone exists. 

As a dog becomes identified to a human and to human voices, surroundings, comforts and behavior, it is not difficult to imagine that as the dog becomes increasingly self-aware and human it will attract a human body in its next life.

Thus the ego can be seen as an emerging self-awareness that identifies increasingly with its outer form and with protecting, defending and enjoying that form. Lower life forms suffer less or perhaps not at all when killed, chopped, destroyed (by nature, other animals or by humans) because they have relatively less egoic self-awareness.

Ironically, therefore, it could be said that dirt has a “greater soul” than most people because no apparent ego! But of course, having solved all the world’s problems, we might still not get this quite right, either.

I think the obvious is obvious: dirt doesn’t really have an ego (at least so far as WE are concerned). Nor does dirt seem to have the potential to realize its essential nature as a soul. It would appear that in the ordinary course of the soul’s awakening there is a long period of many incarnations in human form wherein the ego appears, plays, and, in time, decides to play no more and, instead, chooses to seek ego transcendence (freedom in the Infinite bliss of the soul).

What a story: the greatest story ever told and it’s not a dirty story, either!

Joy to you!

Swami RelaxAnanda

Next installment might be for your summer enjoyment: “If one needs a guru to become enlightened, how did the first guru get enlightenment.” [Submissions will be judged on brevity not accuracy.]