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
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

Friday, December 28, 2018

Flow of Brahma vs the "Ineluctible Quiddity" of Maya

2019 Is soon to Dawn! The Flow of Brahma!

At this writing, Padma and I are at Ananda Village near Nevada City, CA. I calculated that there is approximately 50 minutes more sunlight here in December than there is in Seattle!

And as much as one welcomes the sunshine when the days are short and the air is bone-chilling cold, so too does one welcome the time of rest and sleep after a long day in the company of two toddlers, our grandchildren!

Thus it is that we are part and parcel with the never-ending flux of light and dark, warm and cold! Have you ever noticed how much we tend to both enjoy and then complain of life's never-ending change? 

Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in his now world-renowned life story ("Autobiography of a Yogi") that it is only when the individual soul awakens to the prospect of the "anguishing monotony of repeated rounds of birth, life, and death (replete with the three evils of mortal existence identified by Buddha: illness, old age, and death), that God sends a guru to guide the soul into the safe harbor of ego transcendence.

It is only in our own calm center that the "ineluctable quiddity" of life's unending flux can no longer touch us.

In the simplest terms of New Year's Resolutions, learning to be calm and even-minded "amidst the crash of breaking worlds" is the practical essence of the practice and the goal of yoga.

Yogananda counseled, "What comes of its own, let it come." This is not passivity; it is a combination of courage, faith, and even-minded cheerfulness. 

But what we can change for the better by the application of our God-given will power (like diet, exercise and yoga), we should strive to achieve.

What gives New Year's resolutions a bad reputation is that the intention to "be good" is too often just a natural part of the "ineluctible quiddity" of yin and yang. Thus, by January's end the high hopes of our resolutions vanish like fog beneath the summer sun.

We suggest, then, that you bolster the power of your resolutions not by emotional intensity but by going to your calm center and feeling intuitively the value, the sustainability, and the truth of your intentions to live in harmony with your own (higher) nature. 

To use a simple example of a resolution to eat a healthy diet, try visualizing the day-to-day reality of having fresh fruits and vegetables (as an example). Savor each bite and learn to re-train the palate to notice and enjoy the variety of natural flavors, textures, colors, and vitality inherent in fresh foods.

In vowing to meditate daily, tune into the natural pleasure and joy of being quiet, still, and self-aware: like the Rogers and Hammerstein song from the King & I, "Getting to Know You."

Imagine yourself becoming comfortable with your Self, enjoying the company of your soul's ever-wakeful, ever-blissful presence and guidance. Imagine basking in the smile of the guru's grace as a sparkling stream of inner peace, vitality and light.

Live more in the "space between words," the "space between activities," finding at your center a comfort, pleasure, and satisfaction born of Soul-experience.

When we live calmly, yet energetically too, our inner Self begins to guide us toward right thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Less and less must we be an ego-disciplinarian, constantly having to assess and judge ourselves (and everyone else) but, instead, living in the "flow of Brahma." 

We hope and pray for all of us that the new year to come with find our souls, newly reborn with the inner Christ presence of Christmas shining ever brightly with truth and love. 

Nayaswamis Hriman and Padma

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