Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hrimananda: Many are the Pathways to Truth

Hrimananda: Many are the Pathways to Truth: "Religious sectarianism is an afront to people of intelligence, sensitivity and goodwill. It's no wonder the number of non-affiliated but rel..."

Many are the Pathways to Truth

Religious sectarianism is an afront to people of intelligence, sensitivity and goodwill. It's no wonder the number of non-affiliated but religious-minded people continues to grow.

In Paramhansa Yogananda's now famous story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, confronts the young swami-in-training (Mukunda, the future Swami Yogananda) and his adverse attitude toward organizations. Sri Yukteswar bluntly (was he ever NOT blunt?) asks Yogananda whether he would have found such wisdom if true teachers, current and past, were not willing to share their wisdom with others.

It was then that Yogananda vowed to do what he could to share with all the wisdom he had received. Thus, in short order, he embarked upon a life of self-sacrifice and service. Not many years later he came to America and against great odds and opposition began a nationwide (indeed, international) spiritual work.

I meet many sincere seekers in my work of teaching meditation, and in my association with the local East West Bookshop (in Seattle, WA). Among such people I find a distinct reluctance, even disdain, for participation or commitment in any form of organized spiritual work. This is understandable considering the bad name religion has earned for itself around the world. (Is not religion but organized spirituality--at least in principle?)

Oddly enough, despite sixteen years of Catholic education (grade school through university), I never felt the weight or burden of the organization. I took what inspiration I was blessed with and left the rest at the curbside. So I can't say I am a "recovering" Catholic. I treasure the inspiration and the great tradition of the saints and of mystical union that has been (more or less) preserved.

At Ananda, too, in my over thirty years of participation, I see the necessity of organization as separate from my inner relationship with God and Self.

What Swami Kriyananda has been saying in more recent years includes encouraging high-minded souls to join together in affirming their ideals. He points out that more good can be accomplished by cooperation and harmony than by separation and independence.

Ours is simply not a time nor an age where disappearing into the caves or hermitages either satisfies Spirit-seeking souls or serves the spiritual needs of those around us.

Yes, organizations are a pain. Indeed, both Yogananda and Kriyananda call them "evil" though in both cases I think more for effect than for absolute! After all, is not the creation, including our bodies and personalities, being dual, a kind of evil--at least if one defines evil as that which obscures the transcendent Divine nature of all things?

To grow spiritually we must learn to accept things as they are and be willing to serve and sacrifice. Self-sacrifice ("Yagya" in the Vedas) is a term that, in American culture at least, seems only to apply to military service! (Ironic, no?) We are, I believe, in the beginning throes of having to relearn this universal truth: all good comes from sacrifice.

Furthermore, to refuse to commit is all too often an affirmation of ego-separateness, perhaps hiding behind the veil of disdain and critique. It is a common truth that pride hides fear.

Therefore, I encourage those of goodwill and high ideals to "make your ideals practical" (advice Yogananda gave to Kriyananda long ago) and get involved. Better yet, committed. Like the old joke about breakfast: "The chicken's involved, but the pig's committed!"

Only by merging ourselve into a greater reality, expanding our sense of Self, can we ever find true and lasting happiness.

Joy to you,


Friday, September 24, 2010

Hrimananda: Fall Equinox Service Recordings!

Hrimananda: Fall Equinox Service Recordings!: "Dear Friends, we wanted to share with you the Fall Equinox service (Saturday evening in Bothell, WA, September 18) recordings. There are 3 s..."

Fall Equinox Service Recordings!

Dear Friends, we wanted to share with you the Fall Equinox service (Saturday evening in Bothell, WA, September 18) recordings. There are 3 separate tracks: the introduction and chanting; the music, and the talk.

As the event was very well attended and well received, we thought you, too, might enjoy having access to it in this way.

Introduction and chanting:





Sunday, September 19, 2010

Intuition is Simple; the Intellect, Complex

In an age where complexity is growing exponentially, sensitive and aware souls cry out for simplicity. Not necessarily the simplicity of camping or farming (neither of which are really simple at all), but, in reality, a simplicity of heart and a state of inner peace.

Don't you find that, as I am doing right now, sitting at the computer, using a cell phone, driving, working over a spreadsheet to be a bit unnerving especially day after day? There is in our modern, electromagnetic lifestyle a tangible visceral feeling of being edgy, slightly nervous, and a tad bit anxious.

Few of us are in a position to join the Luddites and banish all electronic devices from our lives, nor do most of us even want to. Fortunately there is a simpler solution and, as you might have guessed, it's INSIDE you!

I have had the privilege and blessing to have known Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. Now here's a man who actually likes the latest gadget. At the same time he is completely lacking in any trace of excitement about any of them, nor is his peace of mind imposed upon in the slightest by them. Oh, yes, he's lost his share of documents by a power outage or some other computer glitch (whether due to his own actions or otherwise).

What he has that I want to have more of is that simplicity of heart, that clarity of mind, and that deep relaxation of form that is reflected in his natural but erect posture, his quick smile, deeply calm eyes, and ever-new, creative solutions and new ideas that flow seemingly without effort from, as he describes it, his "fertile brain."

The antidote to modern complexity is a flow of movement of thoughts, feelings, and actions from within oneself. The crushing influences (electromagnetic or human) that crowd around us can stifle any sense of our true and unique Self. Combining periods of quiet, inward reflection and stillness born of the science of meditation techniques with an active life that stays in touch with one's own center (good posture helps a lot, more than you might suppose) brings such vitality, poise, confidence, and in-joy-ment to life that you will never want to slump back into your "bad old haunts" of lousy posture and reactive tendencies.

So, sit up straight but relaxed! Look up. Now, open your palms upward on your thighs or even hold them up a few inches above as if a gift is about to dropped into them! See? You can't help but smile, relax, and be ready for new opportunities!

Intuition, Paramhansa Yogananda explained, is the soul's power to know God. Now that sounds mighty big. But bring it down to size in this way: the power to know anything instantly, without resort to cumbersome reason, blood, sweat or tears, or even Google, is something worth having. And it's right inside you: in fact you may find it at the point between the eyebrows, or in your own heart (depending somewhat on your own temperament).

Those who live by inspiration, by inner guidance, and by intuition (all words for the same level of consciousness) are those for whom life is a steady flow that brings the cool jet stream of inner peace, vitality and wisdom. Even in writing this little piece, I had the idea that perhaps I should say something about what is, in fact, today's Sunday Service topic at the Ananda Centers around the world. I had no idea what to say until I began typing. I was confident something could be said. There is no emphasis upon me: truth is truth. All I need to try to do is to tune into it. And, in fact, that's what I have tried to do.

Blessings, Hriman

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Equinox : Time to Reflect

Fall is in the air. The burning colors and hues of red and yellow are beginning to appear. The Fall breezes re-fresh the intensity of the summer sun whose strength is beginning to wane but whose brightness remains cheerful and caressing. Yes, here in the northwest, the rain has returned, perhaps a little too quickly for many of us. But the harvest of summer memories of fun and sun, inspirations and perspectives that relaxation and rest can bring, and the revitalizing effect of the solstice's ascendancy.are abundant.

The Fall reminds us that we will "reap that which we sow." This wondrous universe is but waves, tall, proud, or humble and subtle, upon the great ocean of consciousness. These waves are essentially Light and vibrations of Aum: intentions made manifest!

We cannot therefore hide the fruit of our actions from the seeds of our thoughts and emotions which which we have planted in the Spring of our life and in the soil of our consciousness. Fall represents the harvest of our intentions which are comprised of the seed of our thoughts, the rain of our emotions, and the soil of our karma that allows them to grow and bear fruits.

There is a saying that we are born with the face God gives us, but after forty we wear the face that we have created in this life. Well, don't take that too literally but it's the same idea, isn't it?

I know that early in life, I, perhaps like many of you, felt the call of high ideals and of the spiritual life. Like many, young adulthood had some detours and distractions, but the time came when the call returned. How many people I have met who say, one way or another, "Oh, yes, I saw (or read) "Autobiography of a Yogi" twenty years ago but now it calls to me again, and that's why I have come to Ananda!"*

In that great book, which many consider a scripture in its own right (you can open the book on any page and find inspiration appropriate to your own needs in that moment!), Yogananda writes "The trivial preoccupations of daily life are not enough for man; wisdom too is a native hunger." No matter how successful you have been in your pursuit of income, health, career, or human love, these, however sought by humankind with great effort, can never satisfy us. When we consider that most people are in fact NOT all that successful in achieving material and ego comforts, the dissatisfaction is compounded exponentially. For what successful person can view the world around them without compassion? So even if WE achieve our natural human material goals (and so few do), can we truly rest content when see the suffering of others?

Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda, gives us an example of unstinting service to humanity with the message of Self-realization. There is no security in this world of unceasing change except in the transcendent state of God's omnipresence. The key to that is right attitude, right action, and inner communion.

May the fruit of your soul's efforts be sweetened by the grace of God's transforming Light.

We invite your to join us in celebration of our Oneness in Spirit at our Equinox Service, Saturday night, September 18, 7:30 p.m. at Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell, WA. It's free, open to all, and a very popular event that draws friends, family members, students, and local community. There is a power in the Fall crisp air that invites us to go within and be rejuvenated by the soil of God-contact.



*Autobiography of a Yogi, 1946 First Edition by Paramhansa Yogananda

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is Eternity?

Eternity is a big idea, isn't it? The opposite can be experienced in the unceasing flow of restless and usually trivial and self-centered thoughts that preoccupy our attention throughout the day. More outwardly, the ephemeral experience of transitoriness is found in the unending attempts we make in action or in thoughts to stimulate our senses and get a quick but fleeting high: food, sweets, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, daydreams, TV and entertainment, sights, feelings, music, sex and romance, money, travel, recognition and position. These, in turn, are countered like the troughs of rough seas, with depression, despair, pain, suffering (mental or physical), disappointment, dislike, revenge seeking, criticism, judgement, gossip and so much more.

It is not until we achieve even a limited degree of self-awareness (and meditation is the preeminent discipline that accelerates this awakening) do we become aware of this constant flux. With awareness we begin to tire and to become weary of the constant flux. Thus it is as a person and his body and mind age, excitement, stimulation and their opposites begin to loosen their hold upon him because his nervous system can no longer tolerate the extremes (physical, emotional, and mental) that result. This may be some combination of exhaustion and wisdom -- or not! In truth, we discover that what we thought was life is but death (to our soul's true and eternal nature). As Paramhansa Yogananda put it in his now famous story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," it is when the soul feels "anguishing monotony" at the prospect of endless rounds of birth, life, and death does it rebel and seek a higher and permanent beatitude. Then, and only then, does life become truly life: abundant and joy filled.

But herein we enter the borderland, the wilderness that surrounds eternity. The soul must needs traverse that seemingly endless emptiness (wilderness) wherein the flux of opposites has ceased. By itself this is NOT eternity. It is a place and a rite of passage. It is purification and cleansing. Once again, meditation is the intentional process and methodology that takes us to this hinterland of consciousness.

In this process we glimpse the promised land that awaits us: a state of being wherein joy reigns unbroken upon the throne of consciousness. Endlessly beguiling however and not a static state of boredom and malaise, joy (the bliss of the soul) is both ours for ever and yet ever-new. Afterall, it is eternity itself. It has no border, no condition, no fixed and final description. Perhaps illogical but intuitively sound.

Blessings, from the shores of Eternity! In joy,   Hriman