Monday, November 22, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again: Death & Reincarnation

The mystery of death, its suffering and its cold finality, have preoccupied humans for probably longer than humanity itself. The possibility of continued existence through successive rebirths is also an ancient belief.

One minute a person, often a loved one or maybe a patient in your hospital, a passenger in a car nearby, or a soldier in the Humvee ahead of you, is there and the next moment he or she is gone. It's an eerie and startling experience.

Once in college as I was studying in my curtained off garage study and meditation room, an accident took place late at night. I heard a scream and then sudden silence. A car had struck a motorcycle outside my house and the cyclist was lying dead on the street. There was no one else around, apart from the driver of the car. The night was silent and this poor soul had been swallowed up by it.

Another time deep in the woods I watched an inexperienced canoeist paddle out to help some boys whose canoe had tipped over as they steered away from the deadly rapids and falls towards the portgage trail. But as we, and his wife and children watched in astonishment from shore, the self-appointed rescuer, not in control of his own canoe, literally paddled out and right over the falls -- never to be found. The look on his face only yards away from us as he realized in horror his slow-motion, surreal mistake will never be forgotten. His wife's tortured screams and shock still ring in my ears.

The lights go out and the building is untenanted. What a mystery.

We, identified as we are with our bodies, cannot help but feel a sense of loss and grief in the face of death's silence. Paramhansa Yogananda, the renowned master of yoga (life force) and author of the classic story "Autobiography of a Yogi," described the death experience on many occasions and in some of his writings.

Meditation as practiced by a master is, quite literally, the conscious reeanctment of the death experience but without its finality. Thus such a one is competent to speak of it. We also have descriptions from those who have had the near-death experience.

Death resembles our nightly sleep experience in some ways. Just as when we fall deeper into sleep, the body and its senses become insensate as our life vitality withdraws from the body. But at death with the last breath our life force makes its final exhalation journey to the base of the astral spine before beginning its return journey and ascension up the central spine (sushumna). In this ascension our life force is squeezed and compressed and many people feel anxious or fearful. In addition, at this moment our physical body has ceased breathing. Much of the struggle against the cessation of the breath cycle has already taken place earlier such that at the final exhalation there is not necessarily further struggle. The life force by this moment is so internalized that awareness of the body and breath has vanished.

As our life force (astral body) squeezes into the sushumna and begins to rise in its tunnel, we are entering another birth canal and often feel a similar level of stress and anxiety as we observe in a new-born during its progress through the mother's birth canal. The near-death report of going through a long dark tunnel is in fact a description of this phase. The light at the end of that tunnel is the light of the astral regions into which we are about to enter: being re-born onto the astral plane!

The light welcome us and comforts us as our life force exits through the region near the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain (the negative pole of the sixth chakra). The expansion of our astral body upon its exit is like the diver, out of breath, breaking the surface and taking in much needed air. It is a relief to come out of the tunnel!

As the physical mouth takes in food and water, the "mouth of God" at the medulla (the astral body) takes in life force to sustain the physical body. Just as food and water cannot revive a dead person or as water into a battery cannot revive a dead battery, so too does the physical body rely most essentially on life force (known as prana, chi, cosmic energy, etc.). Thus there are corroborated stories of saints who, to demonstrate this truth, are given the grace to live without food or water--for decades. Therese Neumann in Bavaria in the 20th century was one such saint who was repeatedly examined by medical doctors.

Still, the death experience can be anxiety filled and dreaded, especially to those unprepared for it especially in how they have lived. The more we live for bodily comfort and pleasure and for ego-affirmation the more we feel deprivation and fear for losing control and awareness in the body. The more a person lives on a higher mental, emotional, or spiritual plane the less attached to the body and the more likely one is to be calm and peaceful. Death, it has been well said, is the final exam of how we have lived our life.

It is not always so, of course: cases of instant death; prolonged unconsciousness and so on. But it is often the case.

One of the great mysteries is to what extent do we remain conscious and to what degree is the after-death experience a pleasant or unpleasant one. This is as varied as the cosciousness of humans and cannot be but merely generalized.

Death deprives us of the body. To the degree one cannot exist without sensory stimuli, one feels the deprivation presumably as loss, as loneliness, and as suffering. This can be temporary as part of the death process or it can remain: depending upon the intensity of one's identification with the physical body. We can call this sensory deprivation.

Like a fish out of water or a climber reaching great heights, our experience depends largely on the degree to which, during life, we have experienced the "oxygen-less" (breathless) altitudes of superconsciousness. Deep and (near) breathless states of meditation are achievable by anyone willing to make the effort to meditate using proven methods of meditation.

Those of great artistic sensitivity or scientific, inventive, philosophical, or other high states of mental concentation and ability also may remain conscious in the astral state. Those who possess great compassion rendering humanitarian service and engaged in prolonged hours of self-forgetfulness which lift them beyond bodily identification also experience more readily the airless astral regions in comfort and joy.

But most people who receive the comfort of the Light upon exiting the body cannot, for very long, sustain conscious awareness in these higher altitudes of the astral region without falling back asleep for having been deprived of the vehicle of their physical body.

Before doing so, however, first two things are commonly experienced. One is some degree of comfort: whether described as being welcomed by loved ones, previously departed, or by God, angels, or one of the masters. Relief at having survived what they thought was death is no small part of the joy one feels upon entering the astral realm.

Another is the reading of the book of life. In some timeless moment we see, if but in an instant, a re-run of the life just lived. We may discover to our surprise important scenes we hadn't noticed. But we receive as if from the soul's even but temporary awakening a God's eye view of our life.

This is the judgment so often referred to. It is Self-judgment however even if we, having failed to become acquainted with our Higher Self, experience that Self as "Other" and therfore as a Judge.

But as I say, those who cannot but briefly sustain this high altitude of superconsciousness then fall asleep. Old age can bring suffering of all levels and many in fact desire and need, as we do nightly, their earned repose. Those who can remain awake on that high plane do so. For those I refer to the chapter, in Autobiography of a Yogi, entitled "The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar." In this chapter he describes the astral and causal regions.

A sideline to the astral realms relates to the effect of shedding the confinement of the physical body. Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple and founder of Ananda, describes how, uncorked form the physical form, our feelings and states of consciousness are greatly intensified on the astral plane. If we have a calm, peaceful and harmonious consciousness we expand joyfull into that. If we have lived with lust and desire, anger and resentment, we expand into the seemingly endless hell of such states which, deprived of a physical body, can find no outlet, no fulfillment.

Just as near dawn we begin to stir from our deep nightly slumber, so too souls begin to stir when the time of their rest is soon to be over. And, like we at night, they too may have intermitten dreams of loved ones or scenes from their prior life during this astral sleep. But near dawn, we stir, sometimes fitfully, for the next life's lessons and tasks (and desires) call to us.

Yogananda taught that when a couple unite sexually, and sperm and ovum unite (these are not necessarily simultaneous, I know), a flash of light occurs on the astral realm. I once read in National Georgraphic that when the sperm penetrates the husk of the ovum, an electrical charge goes off! At that moment, those souls whose time it is to return all rush, competitively, to enter that womb. But only those souls who have some relative vibrational harmony with the consciousness of that couple (we could say karmic resonance, too) are attracted to this light. Thus begins, as Yogananda put it, our first race for survival: a portent to the endless contention and effort required to live in a physical body.

What then is reincarnation? Reincarnation posits that individual souls return to new bodies repeatedly over vast epochs of time as the consequence of past actions (which include past desires).

It is said that this process is necessary because our immortal and changeless soul has misunderstood its true nature by identification with the passing drama of its many physical forms and the cumulative effect of the likes and dislikes, actions and reactions which arise from it. These many lives offer the soul the opportunity to learn and grow towards Self-realization (or to postone those lessons). Self-realization is the realization that we are the soul and not the body or personality. This soul, or Atman, is destined to become one with the Creator but this destiny must be obtained by its willing choice, not by compulsion.

Surveys show that the majority of humans on this planet subscribe to or accept as plausible the idea of mutliple births.

Yet the fact of death is undeniably final as it relates to our body and the personality which had inhabited it. Countless, however, are those who claim they have had some post-death contact with their loved one. Many are the stories of near-death experiences attesting to our disincarnate and deathless reality.

What aspect of our Self continues and what aspect is lost? There are remarkable and many stories of children with clear and convincing memories of their past life. (The relatively recent story, "Soul Survivor," is worth reading.)

Since we can safely say that most humans DO NOT remember their past lives (except perhaps in flitting glimpses or oddly familiar feelings about others, places, or objects....but just occasionally), something is lost, to us at least. Of course isn't memory loss in THIS lifetime a serious problem? Why should we fret, then, over loss over memory due to the intensity of the after death sojourn in astral sleep. Interestingly, it seems that dying takes place early as year after year our memories fade, as if in anticipation!

If the power goes out when your are sitting at your computer in the middle of multiple programs, your work is at least partially lost. If a program crashes and cannot be restarted, the data remains on the hard drive but, without the program, cannot typically be accessed. When you delete a file, only the index of how to find that file is erased. The file itself remains on the hard drive. Deleting that index is somewhat akin to the loss of the physical body. But the matrix of the astral body retains the data for later use and recovery. The conscious mind may have no access to it, however.

Each life is indeed unique: as to time, space, circumstances, events, and the resulting combination of attitudes, habits, and insights the grow up around this unique time-space experience. But when we die, those external circumstances whose influence is undeniable disappear and with them those merely superficial incidentals of our personality which depended upon them.

More deeply ingrained attitudes are like data files that remain intact in the matrix of the astral (energy) body of light. We are using light in modern technology as a transmitter of voice, data, and video signals. So it is not difficult to imagine a body of light in which a matrix of qualities, memories, tendencies, and attitudes reside.

Unlike computers, however, that which IS ("I AM"), the Infinite consciousness contains all thoughts, all past, present, and future. Thus in truth (in God's infinite consciousness) NOTHING is lost. But until our souls awaken and then merge into God, we only recover bits of data from our past. Hence it is that Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras explains that one who has achieved perfect non-attachment to his body and all objects remembers his past lives.

This does not mean that those children who are born with clear memories of the former life are necessarily great saints but, for reasons we cannot see, they are blessed with that memory perhaps to bestow a message to their families and others with "eyes to see."

Thus we mustn't feel badly to the degree of our grief and sense of loss, whether for ourselves or for others at the time of death. We can strive, however, to live with faith and to live on the higher plane of God-realization, compassion, concentration, and nobility of character. From the great heights of the mountain peaks of consciousness beyond bodily identification, we see the valleys and hills of life below as one great panorama.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Prodigal Son Returns!

The story told by Jesus in the New Testament of the prodigal son who returns to and is welcomed back home by his father is one of the most inspiring allegories of the scriptures of east and west.

Where in this story is there any hint of eternal damnation? Is not error, ignorance, and self-destructive attitudes and behaviors hell enough? How many millions suffer from poverty, addictions, abuse, disease, and exploitation? Hell, who needs hell? It can be right here in our own hearts and minds! Besides, when you are truly in the midst of suffering, does it not SEEM like it will never end?

Are WE the cause of our suffering? How can we explain the suffering of a child? The annihilation of an entire culture? Is life itself to blame? Is suffering just built into the matrix of life? Is it God who punishes us? If so, do we deserve it or is God capricious?

These are among the great questions of life, to be sure. Just as only a handful of people in this world can truly comprehend the grand mysteries of science such as string theory, quantum physics, relativity, and the time-space continuum, so too only a few great souls truly grasp the grand mysteries of our human experience. Who, among millions who use computers or cell phones, truly understand the inner workings of even these (now) mundane devices we so depend upon?

The pearl of life's wisdom is not sold cheaply in the marketplace of bookshops but is only found, hard-won, in even-mindedness and calmness on the threshing floor of daily life and in the hermitage of inner silence.

Why, then, should we be surprised if the great drama of life is veiled and seems to us a mystery, an enigma? Paramhansa Yogananda was once asked about a possible "short-cut" to wisdom. He smiled and replied that such a short-cut would make it too easy and that God has so veiled the truth that we might seek Him for his love, not merely his wisdom. Besides, he quipped, most people, if given a chance to talk to God, would only argue.

He went on to say God HAS everything; God IS everything. He "lacks" only our love, our personal interest, and our attention. Most humans on this planet wouldn't have it any other way, so engrossed in the pursuit of life, liberty, pleasure, and human happiness are they.

Yet, like the prodigal son, when the famine of disappointment or disatisfaction strikes again (whether clothed as material success, or, failure) and we gnash our teeth in despair at the thought of the anguishing monotony of continued rebirth, and we look heavenward (inward) for the truth that can make us free.......then the dawn of wisdom appears in the eastern sky.

You see, until we have stepped out of the drama, we cannot see the drama for what it really is: a drama. Caught up in our roles, we cannot see that both the villain and the good guy are but actors. It's true that the villain is slain and the hero victorious but even that doesn't necessarily appear so from the outside looking in. We cannot see the cause of our suffering or the seeming whimsey of success as but part of the drama and our likes and dislikes of it all as the result of our identification with it.

But there is a way out. Someone once said, "The only way OUT is IN!" Indeed! The story of prodigal son describes the pathway home.

Turning now to the story itself in the New Testament, at first, famished as our souls become for kernels of wisdom, we take apprenticeship with spiritual teachers, teachings, and practices; in this process, we may be asked to feed others who are even more needy than we (the "swine" in the story). Then, as the Bible describes, we "come to ourself" and remember the happiness (bliss) we once knew in our Father's home.

Then, armed with that remembrance, we begin our journey, retracing our steps homeward. In what direction do those steps lead? As Jesus put it elsewhere: "The kingdom of heaven is within you." Thus he, a great yogi, counsels as does Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, the inner path of meditation.

The door the leads to "heaven" are the doorways of the subtle (astral) spine known as the chakras. These lead to the inner kingdom which, in turn, leads us to our home in God's eternal presence. Kriya yoga is an advanced technique of meditation that is aptly described as the key to these doorways. It is designed to accelerate our inner path and ability to become sensitive to this inner world of energy and consciousness. This is the "stuff" of the higher worlds from which the material world appears and is sustained.

We retrace our steps in a way not unlike reversing the process of birth, or, as is often said, becoming "born again." Not physically of course, but energetically. We become baptised in this inner spine of energy and divine consciousness. The rest of this description is the teaching of raja yoga training and need not be dwelled upon here.

Be ye of good cheer, for the good news (paraphrasing Christian vocabulary) is that the keys to the inner kingdom have been given. Meditation is for everyone and kriya yoga unlocks the power to be free.

Blessings to all! Hriman

Monday, November 8, 2010

President Obama visits India!

My friend, Larry Rider, sent me quotes today from some of Obama's remarks in India. In light of Paramhansa Yogananda's oft quoted prediction that someday India and America would, together, lead the world into a new age of cooperation and balancing material with spiritual needs, I find some of the quotes rather remarkable.

But before I share them, the background for their appeal lies in a broader understanding of the needs of our rapidly changing planet.

When I think back to my childhood in the 1950's in a small town on the California coast (Pacific Grove - part of the now famous Monterey Peninsula), our lives seemed so quiet and insulated compared with today's clamoring diversity. But even then, the hints were there. For starters, Monterey was a fishing town comprised of many Sicilian descendents.

It had once been the capital of Alta California under Spanish rule and even briefly the capital of California when first a territory of the United States. As a boy I was aware that there still existed large tracts of land owned by blue-blooded, almost royal families who were descendents of the original Spanish land grants.

Spanish language, culture, cuisine, music, and dress were ubiquitous and proudly affirmed as part of our heritage. Indeed, our towns and streets were mostly Spanish named. The architecture, which I still to this day love so much, was the adobe buildings with the red-tiled roofs, geranium flower boxes, and the miniature courtyards offering greenery and respite from the dusty streets.

Pacific Grove, where I lived, had been founded as a Protestant church camp. But it had become a small town and had its own African-American quarter. Their church, which shook joyfully each Sunday with gospel music, was right up the street from my house. One of my boyhood friends went to church there every Sunday. We took turns going to one another's homes to play. No one - either in his family or mine - ever hinted that there should be anything different or awkward between us.

The residue of a former "Chinatown" was only blocks away, adjacent to the famous Cannery Row, among whose largely abandoned sardine factories, I played as a child. It had once bustled with the rich and mysterious color of the orient. As youngsters, we heard stories of opium dens and mah jong gambling establishments --all very appealing to our youthful imaginations.

On the weekends I played with the children of a family of Japanese descent who ran a dry-cleaning business and a grocery store. Their grandparents' home was filled with oriental paintings and furniture. I remember sitting quietly in the living room one day (while my friend went upstairs to speak with his grandmother) gazing at awe at the mysterious carvings, swords, and tapestry-like scenes of traditional Japan.

So, there it was, all around me. But I remained, as a child, insulated with my Irish-Catholic family and faith, with my Catholic school and parish church, and the many families who, surrounding it, comprised a kind of community. I could not have imagined the diversity we now know day-to-day in America and around the world.

Paramhansa Yogananda looked past the simple mixture of nationalities to the driving impulse of consciousness that brought them together. Yes, the promise of prosperity and freedom of America has been for two hundred or more years the engine driving this admixture. Fueled by rapid advances in science and commerce, together with heretofore seemingly inexhaustible natural resources around the world, the world has changed rapidly.

But what is missing is the heart and soul of an emerging world culture. We may have the power to change our lives and our world but not the yet the wisdom not to destroy it (and ourselves) in the process. Assimilation maybe a fact but it is not necessarily a harmonious one! What is needed is an expression of spirituality that matches our material might.

And that's where India comes in. India has nurtured and preserved an underlying spiritual revelation that matches the grand vision, both macroscopic and miscroscopic, that science offers to us. No other orthodox theology or tradition on the planet is so far reaching in its embrace as to be described more often as a philosophy than a religion.

I am not referring to India's culture, necessarily, as we encounter it in the 21st century. Nor yet even its strictly orthodox, Brahaminical theology, rituals, and deistic pantheon. I refer to what in a past higher age was self-described by India's rishis as "Sanaatan Dharma," or, the eternal religion.

This is not intended to be yet another sectarian boast. Rather, it is a revelation based on personal realization by "spiritual scientists" which are as real and as practical as the experiments of modern scientists. Sanaatan Dharma describes the universe as a manifestation of divine consciousness and the purpose of evolution as the creation of Self-awareness adequate to achieve this realization in a state of Oneness.

It is this grand vision of spiritual reality that offers humankind a concommitant spiritual version of a "unified field theory" that great scientists have sought for centuries.

So, back to President Obama! His statements are naturally politically, economically and technology oriented, but behind these is an acknowledgement of a central role that India has to play and for a special relationship in that role to America.

Here then are some of his statements that, in their essential recognition at least, echo the words of Paramhansa Yogananda several decades ago:

Obama hailed Mahatma Gandhi, who used peaceful non-violence to help India gain its independence, and he noted Gandhi's influence on Martin Luther King and the non-violent resistance that typified the American civil rights movement: Obama spoke revealingly of this by saying:

"I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as president of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared and inspired with America and the world," the president said.

Obama lauded India's rise on the world stage, saying "India is not simply emerging; India has already emerged."

He envisions, he said, U.S.-Indian relations as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."

He said India has overcome critics who say the country was too poor, vast and diverse to succeed, citing its Green Revolution, investments in science and technology.

Obama praised India's democratic institutions: its free electoral system, independent judiciary, the rule of law, and free press. He said India and the United States have a unique link because they are democracies and free-market economies. "When Indians vote, the whole world watches. Thousands of political parties. Hundreds of thousands of polling centers. Millions of candidates and poll workers, and 700 million voters. There's nothing like it on the planet.

Blessings, Hriman

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thank You Darwin!

I read once in National Geographic how researchers were analyzing human love and attraction and attempting to show that this, too, was but an outgrowth of our genetically programmed impulse for survival and continuation of the species.

I've never understood all the fuss about the law of survival. It seems so obvious (to anyone perhaps but a scientist) it should never have received tha attention it has garnered.

I suppose some of these "Darwinists" also interpret great works of art and acts of personal self-sacrifice in terms of the law of survival, as well. But the attempts reek of the sterile laboratory of dry, myopic reasoning.

Consider that long before Darwin, Adam Smith published the (then) shocking assertion that self-interest was the motivation behind all human action. Ah, yes,yet another fact of human nature revealed to us that is otherwise so obvious as to never having merited particular attention by people with common sense and a higher vision of life.

And then there's the "pursuit of happiness" enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Who's to argue with these great "revelations?"

Now all told, none of this is either shocking or blasphemous in its own right. The issue I take with it all is twofold: 1) It's simply and truly inadequate to explain anything meaningful to human existence, and 2) Scientists and nonscientists alike have made bold attempts to make a philosophy of life (and in some cases a religion) out of such pedestrian observations. The modern age seems to have gloried in the most banal realities of human existence.

Returning, then, to Darwin and his army of devotees, we can say that competition and survival have been elevated to the heights of the greatest virtue in social theories, pyschology, politics, and the arts. Both communism and capitalism owe their stark, dark, and banal dogmas to the deification of the mundane realities of self-interest and material needs.

Again, who would argue with obvious fact of competitiveness (and its potential benefits when held in check). It's just that the 19th and 20th centuries which promoted this "philosophy" managed to slaughter hundreds of millions of people, wipe out entire species of animals and plants, and bring this earth rapidly towards potential self-destruction!

In other words, philosophy DOES matter. Social values DO MATTER. The Founding Fathers of America created checks and balances to hold at bay the self-interest that they wisely knew was the engine of human motivation. At the same time, they themselves were guided by and extolled for everyone high ideals of the social good, belief in God and recognition of divine love and virtues.

According to the teaching of duality, however, all things have their opposite. I have noticed that since the Sixties, the science of ecology is reawakening a steadily growing and enlightened self-interest that is the necessary counterweight to competition and materialism. Ecology contains an implicit philosophy of interdependence and places a high value upon mutually supportive diversity. At heart, these are, arguably, spiritual values and, in fact, only to some degree, scientific ones.

Of course, religion ought to offer such insights but science and religion have been at odds for centuries, with religion steadily losing ground and science gaining respect and becoming the religion of modern culture. Religious principles founded on a priori beliefs and sectarian dogmas have earned the disdain of intelligent and high-minded people all over the world.

So, if science is the modern religion then it must needs be science that will save us! And that's where the message of ecology seems to have played a role.

Still, science, whether pedestrian or elevated, cannot satisfy the deeper and eternal questions of humankind, nor can it satisfy the heart. For wisdom, too, Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in his famous life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," we have a hunger (not just for food and shelter).

This is where and why the life-affirming and all-encompassing ancient Vedanta philsophy of India has encircled the globe offering hope for a better world. Vedanta is incomplete with the knowledge, science, and art of how to attains its cosmic vision of the creation and the purpose of creation.

That art and science is the personal and nonsectarian practice of meditation and Self-realization. Science will never be enough to transform civilization. At every great turn of history, it is the saints and men and women of universal vision who guide humanity away from the rocks of self-destruction towards the shores of true survival.

Blessings, Hriman

P.S. If you'd like to learn more about this subject, please obtain a copy of Swami Kriyananda's (J. Donald Walters) insightful landmark book, "Out of the Labyrinth." It's sequel, equally inspiring and forward looking, is "Hope for a Better World."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Voice of America

Now that the mid-term election has (finally) come and gone, we hear talk of the American people wanting fiscal responsibility in our government spending. Of course, who's going to argue with that, right?

On a collective level I think the message (whether in thought or speech, individual or public) reflects a kind of therapy whereby we, as a culture, are preparing ourselves to live within our OWN means. There is, I believe, a deep recognition that our standard of living is, and has been steadily, declining and will continue to do so. In part this is our "just desserts" for our excesses, and, in part, it is the process of globalization and long-term trend of balancing out the long-standing extremes of rich and poor (at least relatively).

Long-term and on an essential level we are in a process of making a cultural about face from materialism to a Spirit-centered life. Now, of course, most will be somewhere in the middle even when we arrive, but the direction remains nonetheless necessary and positive overall. Paramhansa Yogananda, before his passing in 1952, predicted a traumatic period of hyperinflation and instability and stated that Americans would be "half as rich but twice as spiritual!" (A generalization, merely)

What few seem to acknowledge in the here and now of political dialogue is that balancing government budgets means massive layoffs and removal of benefits. We see this acknowledged more openly in the budget proposed for Britain. This, combined with the massive federal deficit, will bring us, in the Biblical sense, "seven" years of famine. You can take THAT to the bank!

The hope is that individuals and businesses will be relatively relieved of burdensome taxation (don't bet on it) and thus create jobs. But interest rates are incredibly low (lowest ever) and ironically government debt is, at the moment, virtually interest free (relatively, of course).

Not that I am a pessimist. Indeed Yogananda, and Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda, who has, for decades, warned audiences of this very process in a spirit of hope: hope for a better world. The one we've been living in is, in every way possible, unsustainable! A new generation of children-becoming-adults will need to, and hopefully be able to, take up the standard of a more balanced life.

Imagine some day when the nations of the world enjoy, more or less, the same or equivalent standard of living. At that point, nations or combinations of nations which form sufficiently large enough market for certain goods, will have no need to import them from afar. Say, America, or north America, as a general market or trading zone. Assuming the volume of computers needed in this market is adequate to fuel their manufacture within the trading zone, then computers will be (once again) made domestically. And so it will be for virtually every other daily necessity.

So why wait? We cannot go on forever buying from China with nothing to trade in exchange. So we either figure out what they can buy from us (rather than our debt), or we begin making our own products again. Is this protectionism? Call it what you want: how about sheer survival?

Rather than a stark and aggressive solution that would be resisted by others, why not a cooperative approach that can provide benefits to all participating nations? For example, China, faced with a slowdown in American purchases, wisely began to redirect their investments into their own country's infrastructure, consumer products, and other needs. That's a win-win, so far as I can see.

There are solutions, in other words. We just have to think bigger and more inclusively. Imagine the food, e.g., that can be grown within a 50 or 100 mile radius of your city or town? Virtually everything needed for healthy living.

For many of us as devotees and members of Ananda, this is yet another sign of the need for small communities of like-minded souls, striving for high ideals though simple living and intelligent and creative cooperation. So, why not be an optimist. Sure we need to go on a diet and that's hard, at first, but rewarding at last.

Blessings, Hriman