Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Swami Kriyananda

These past few days Ananda members, students, community residents, and friends from all over the world have gathered at Ananda Village in California to celebrate Swami Kriyananda's 85th birthday. As I write, Padma is one of a panel of speakers there paying honor and tribute to Ananda's founder, spiritual counselor, friend, and guide to thousands from around the world.

Name and fame have not been his life's goal, nor is outer acclaim any measure of success by all but the most fleeting measures. We honor Swamiji (SK) for his personal dedication to God and his guru first, and only secondly for his accomplishments. For the latter we are grateful because those accomplishments have been the medium that has inspired, taught, and involved all who honor him today. But those would have been hollow and not sufficiently magnetic to have transformed so many souls were it not for the deeper, more intangible power of his personal effort blessed by divine grace.

Swamiji's search for meaning and truth has been one that has surveyed the entire landscape of human striving. It has not been a narrow and desparate grasping for well-worn dogmas at hand. As with many fellow truthseekers it involved turning away from the past and the orthodox creed of his upbringing.

He tells the story of his "conversion" walking late one night at the beach in Charleston, South Carolina, after he had left college (for good :) ). Politics, arts, orthodox religion, social-isms of every stripe: none of these have the power to transform human consciousness. His thoughts and ruminations intensified as he walked. He HAD to know. At every dead end he found that G-word: God. At last he could avoid God no longer. But who is this? A bearded man on a throne in some antiseptic corner of distant space? One ready to toss each of us into the burning pits for eternity for our missteps or failure to join the right faith? Surely the vast expanse of space shown to us by science is adequate to suggest that the creator of this universe must be vaster still?

God MUST be conscious, SK reasoned. Indeed, consciousness ITSELF! Ok, vast, yes. Infinite, well, certainly. But whence comes this I-ness in each little, otherwise insignificant human? Whence comes the obvious consciousness of even the lowliest worm who, when prodded, recoils in response? If God is the creator of all things and is consciousness itself, then all must have been created from His consciousness. Thus consciousness must be at least latent in all things.

In this way each of us partakes in some small measure in God's consciousness. As SK wrote in his autobiography, THE NEW PATH, "We exist, because He exists." Surely we must have the capacity (perhaps the opportunity, the duty, even) to manifest Him more or less perfectly and to deepen our awareness of God at the center of our being. He wrote: "What a staggering concept!"

SK's conscious spiritual journey from this point unfolded rapidly and descended quickly to a practical application when, having discovered Paramhansa Yogananda's story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," he took the first bus to California to meet the great spiritual teacher there. The first words he uttered to Yogananda (PY) were, "I want to be your disciple." But even a week or two before he had never heard of a guru, nor yet a thousand other terms, concepts and phenomenon he encountered in the modern scripture which is PY's autobiography.

The thesis of PY's life teachings are summarized in but a few words and phrases. The first comes to us from ancient times from the adi (first) Swami Shankyacharya who defined God as "Satchidananda." PY loosely translates this as "ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss." It is bliss that all are seeking, whether ignorantly or wisely.
The second pithy summary of PY's teachings comes to us in many forms down through ages, no less than from the Old Testament and Jesus Christ: "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, and strength; and, love Thy neighbor AS Thyself." In more modern language, PY used the term Self-realization as the goal of union with God (the product of our devotion and His grace). "Love thy neighbor" is summarized in the term "fellowship," service to God through our fellow man. This universal teaching takes now the form of the art and science of meditation as the basis for right action in daily life.

To return, now, to Swamiji's life, it is these high ideals that have inspired SK's life and service. These ideals are universal and available to all men and women, without discrimination. The practice of yoga-meditation, especially kriya yoga, has been brought to the West and to the world as the practical instrument of soul awakening in individual hearts.

For while Ananda is a church, our teachings are broad and universal, even if, for those dedicated to the work of Ananda, we are also disciples of PY. We see no contradiction in our personal devotion to God through the Self-realization line of gurus and the universality of these teachings. Only the actual technique of kriya yoga is reserved for those who recognize that this technique is a divine gift channeled thorugh this line of masters. Grateful recognition of that gift and conscious attunement with the masters of this line are what unlock the power of kriya yoga to accelerate our path to liberation.

SK's writings, with rare exception, are to be read by anyone, regardless of faith or spiritual path. Some of his books (on leadership and education, for example), make no reference whatsoever to his spiritual lineage. As his guru before him, SK's vision is far ranging in both time and space and are for everyone. Inspiration, once aroused, can guide us to the next steps. No one, least of all SK, intends that his writings, music, and communities are only for the "faithful."

This juxtaposition of universality with a specific focus is new to religion. It provides for those who serve the work of Ananda a necessary and inspiring dynamic tension lest our dedication become narrow and self-enclosed. It also offers an example in all walks of life in understanding how to be loyal while yet avoiding narrowness. In marriage, business, health, politics, and family life, this example of BOTH-AND has the potential for the expansion of consciousness necessary to convert competition into cooperation, and conflict into harmony.

On this theme, therefore, we are grateful for both the universality of Swamiji's consciousness and the personal wisdom, friendship, and true divine love he has offered to everyone he meets. He remains in service even against the challenges of old-age and ill-health. It is the fountain spray of divine bliss that rewards his apparent self-sacrifice.

Happy Birthday, dear friend,

Nayaswami Hriman

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Patanjali's 8-Fold Path - Samadhi - the Final Stage

This is the eighth, and final, blog article in this series on the 8-Fold Path, known as Ashtanga Yoga, of Patanjali. Samadhi is the name given to us by Patanjali for what amounts to both the goal of our soul's striving and the only and eternal reality there is, and out of which all things created have been born: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss. This latter phrase is a loose translation by Paramhansa Yogananda of the term "Satchidananda" given to us long ago by the Adi Swami Shankacharya of ancient India. The term applies to God: the Eternal Spirit. It is lasting happiness that we seek: pure and simple.

In the stage of samadhi the soul finds its true home. Having shed the three encircling bodies of the flesh, light, and thought (physical, astral, causal), the soul merges back into the Great Light of God, the Infinite Spirit, Bliss eternal. But there are various stages of samadhi as taught in the scriptures of India. Paramhansa Yogananda simplified, and clarified, these stages into two.

The first stage, sabikalpa samadhi, is reminiscent of our description of the seventh stage, dhyana. In sabikalpa samadhi the soul achieves Oneness with God but returns to ego awareness. While the same is said of dhyana, the difference is that in samadhi the soul passes beyond the 3 bodies, beyond the 3 cosmoses and into the Bliss sphere of God, beyond all duality and vibration. In dhyana, the Oneness achieved is Self-realization as the soul, not as the Infinite. The soul here being that individualized spark of the Infinite that exists within creation.

Yogananda taught that like the caged bird finding the door open, the soul flies into sabikalpa for brief periods at first. The progression from sabikalpa to nirbikalpa is one that, to my knowledge, he did not give an account of. He did teach that the soul is not yet free in sabikalpa and can yet fall again, spiritually, by attachments and desires which may yet be stimulated.

As the bird takes time to gain confidence in his flying from the cage, we cannot say how much "time" is required to achieve final liberation once the soul experiences sabikalpa samadhi. As yet the book of life is not yet ended.

In sabikalpa samadhi the physical form is inert, fixed, and appears even to be sleeping or dead to the casual or unknowing observer. But, by and by, with ever deeper forays into the Infinite Spirit, the soul sheds ever more its more limiting identities and attachments. At one point, though it returns to ordinary wakefulness, it retains its awareness of its Infinite source and identity. Thus is achieved the final stage of nirbikalpa samadhi and one becomes a jivan mukta (freed while yet living incarnate).

Yet at this point, past karma remains. The jivan mukta forever freed from ego affirmation or fresh new desires has a train of box cars of past incarnations to unravel the knot of ego-identity and doership. The soul now has no compelling need to rush, as time and space have been transcended. Yet if the soul wishes he can work out such past karma in any number of ways: on the causal plane, by incarnating into multiple bodies (for speed and efficiency), or by just taking his time. Perhaps the jivan mukta uses the karmic chain to remain and to help close disciples.

Yogananda taught that we cannot achieve liberation without liberating at least six others. This apparently simultaneous equation is hopefully semantics more than literal, but the point remains that we cannot achieve freedom for ourselves alone. What else would be Infinity if not union with all souls, in sympathy, love, and compassion?

Still, most souls, once freed from past karma as well, are said to vanish into the Infinite. Only if called forth by the devotion's frost of prior disciples and the will of God, would such souls appear. When at last the jivan mukta achieves final freedom, he becomes a siddha. If a siddha returns to physical form it is only to assist others and such a one becomes an avatar -- a savior. Some do so in the public eye, others unseen, each according to the divine will and the unique patterns of such soul's eternal thumbprint.

An avatar is said to have unlimited spiritual power to uplift other souls whereas a jivan mukta may have only a few disciples or a siddha somewhat more limited scope.

I've seen in my own service of teaching and of spiritual community that one can see how different souls are attracted together in seemingly mysterious ways which, over long (perhaps vast) periods of repeated incarnations, can evolve into a guru-disciple relationship. Thus it is not difficult to imagine how each soul helps free other souls, even, more or less simultaneously. Also, however, one soul may fall spiritually, perhaps greatly (or so it would appear). Yet that soul's guru-to-be by the inextricable linkage of karma finds that soul and in some way renders spiritual and material aid.

There are stories of the disciple who advances faster than the guru and who, therefore, in the bond of spiritual friendship, helps the guru who may have fallen. Here, then, we do not refer to the "sat guru" but, well, lacking a term, a guru-to-be. Indeed one's sat (savior-avatar) guru may be, say, Jesus Christ, but one may have a twin soul with whom one's path of ascension is linked. But here we edge toward an abyss of unaswered questions.

Apparently it must be so that to liberate (at least) six others, one need not be an avatar. One might be part of a larger spiritual family the head of which is an avatar, however. Swami Kriyananda writes that upon the death of one of Yogananda's most advanced disciples (Sister Gyanamata), Yogananda pronounced that she was free. Then, answering a silent question that arose in Kriyananda's mind ("Well, then, where are her six disciples?"), Yogananda added, "She had disciples." Clearly Yogananda was the sat guru, you see?

Terms such as salvation, freedom, liberation, or enlightenment have various meanings according to intention and context. Ultimate freedom will always be the state of nirbikalpa samadhi from there is no loss of beatitude, regardless of whether incarnate or in the Bliss sphere. But such usage can also mean "final" freedom, even from past karma. It just depends. Certainly many who are considered saints are not liberated in the sense of nirbikalpa samadhi: they may be wise, compassionate, devotional, or self-sacrificing. The state of samadhi may be withheld from them as they perform their God-given, karma-guided earth duties. Only later, perhaps on the astral plane, do they receive their reward, or, late in life, or, upon death.

It's very likely that among church-ordained "saints" few have achieved (in that incarnation) nirbikalpa samadhi. Thus it is that the "gifts of the Holy Spirit" can manifest long before final liberation. No doubt that's why the church abstains from its blessing until the saint is safely dead and buried! Yogananda said very few of the saints he wrote about (other than his own line of gurus) in "Autobiography of a Yogi" were free.

When, in daily life, we act with the consciousness that we are part of all, we partake of the attitude of samadhi. Yogananda recommended that we read and memorize his poem, Samadhi. (You may email me for a free copy taken from the original edition of his autobiography as published by Crystal Clarity Publishers.) I recite it everyday and have found its subtle influence growing steadily together with his presence.

He said he wrote it on the New York subway, riding up and down the line, unnoticed by anyone! His poem, Samadhi, is the latest in the line of mystical literature given to us by the great ones down through the ages. Attempting to describe the undescribable, it uses our English language and images we can relate to in this day and age. It is vibrant with spiritual power.

Think Samadhi; feel Samadh; radiate Samadhi to all.

Thank you for participating in this 8-fold blog series. I don't write for sound bites but only from inspiration, but I would be happy to receive any suggestions.

Blessings to all,

Nayaswami Hriman

Friday, May 13, 2011

8-Fold Path - Step 7

We come now to the seventh stage in the 8-Fold Path. The name given to this stage by Patanjali is "Dhyana." This term is usually translated simply as "meditation!" Obviously, there's more to it than this.

But first, a disclosure: we've run out of elements! Viewing the 8-Fold Path from the point of view of the elements of creation worked so long as we were still within duality, the play of opposites. Now, however, we come to Oneness: or at least the beginning stage of Oneness.

First, so let's go back to the term "meditation." If you've been reading this blog series all along, you know that in the previous stage, SUPER ETHER ("Dharana"), we perceive higher realities but we retain our sense of separateness. (As in "I am feeling peaceful.") So now, in the stage of dhyana, we enter into such states (we identified eight aspects of soul consciousness in the last blog) such that our separateness expands (or merges) into the state. Here's where our intellects go on tilt, along with our language skills.

How can the ego merge with Peace (or Love, Wisdom, Aum sound, Inner Light, etc.) being thereby dissolved without having some aspect of ourselves LOST? This reality being described can only experienced, not described. "You have to have been there!"

Nothing is lost in this state of Oneness. Everything is gained. Think of it this way: the ego expands into the state of super-consciousness. Consider, for a moment, that in this process ego has been already stripped of lesser identifications: with the physical body, e.g., and with states of consciousness born of duality. So what is it, then, that expands or merges? Pure consciousness or self-awareness. Consciousness cannot be destroyed, only expanded. And not in time or space, merely, for we are speaking of an abiding consciousness and reality that is eternal and omnipresent--just behind the restless sway of maya (duality).

Paramhansa Yogananda described the ego as the soul (to the extent) identified with the body (and personality, likes and dislikes, memories, etc.). The ego has no lasting reality of its own for the very things it holds to itself are evanescent and always changing, destined for the ash heap of time and space.

The soul, by contrast, is eternal. It never changes, never is born or dies. In this view, even the concept of "expanding" misses the mark somewhat. It's perhaps more like "waking up," or, as Patanjali himself describes the process, "smriti," or memory. It's the ultimate "aha moment." Peace (and each of the other aspects) are consciousness itself. They are like facets of a diamond: not separate from one another. Peace produces joy. Joy, love. Vitality, wisdom. And so on. The eight aspects of superconsciousness are, in fact, holographic: each is contained in the other.

Going back to the process of the experience, what happens is that the meditator enters into dhyana for various lengths of time but always returns to ego consciousness. This can, of course, extend over many years and indeed lifetimes if the individual keeps returning to his bad old ego haunts, only to climb back up the tree of life back to this stage. More practically speaking, each foray into superconsciousness burns up and purifies more karma and refines the body and nervous system to survive in the rarified atmosphere of superconscious.

As Emperor Soul steadily reclaims his kingdom, he is preparing himself for the next and final assault: the merging of the soul (a separate spark of divinity) back into Spirit. Hence the subject of the next blog and the eighth and final stage: final union with God, which Patanjali calls Samadhi.

As we affirm attitudes and states of superconsciousness both in daily activity and in meditation, we begin to attune ourselves to this state of the soul. Experiment, therefore, in meditation with visualizing one or more of these states. You can experiment with one each week. Here are some seminal suggestions which are perhaps best used after your meditation techniques as a prelude to entering the inner silence past doing into Being:

PEACE. Visualize the full moon bathing the landscape of your mind with rays of ineffable peace. Let the peace-light enlighten every cell of your brain and body, then, have it surround you in an aura of peace. Then send rays of peace out from your heart in blessing of all beings.

WISDOM. Visualize the sun at midday. Not a shadow or nook remains untouched by its healing rays. Feel not just its warmth but its enlightenment. Let its powerful light dissolve all sense of separateness.

ENERGY. Imagine that within yourself, like at the center of our earth, there exists a cauldron of molten fire. All lower elements such as earth and water are being assimilated into the fire of vitality. Being at your own center, it fires you with the desire and enthusiasm (and strength) to go within, into the inner silence. There the molten fiery prana begins rising through the volcanic chamber of the spine upwards its exit at the spiritual eye.

LOVE. Visualize Divine Mother - beauty, compassion and wisdom incarnate --- coming to you with the reassurance of Her eternal love. Let Her love fill you and dissolve all sense of separateness.

CALMNESS. You are floating in deep space: billions of miles below, above, and in all directions. Stars, planets, and galaxies all float in your mental space. You are calm, confident, and connected with all life. Nothing and no one can harm you, for you are One with all things created.

AUM. Imagine you are hiking in the forest. Step by step the sound of a roaring waterfall grows steadily louder and surrounding all space by the time you reach the waterfall’s edge. You sit beside it and begin to absorb its healing soothing vibrations until you are lifted out of yourself into the remembrance of your true and eternal Self.

LIGHT. Visualize a golden light at the point between the eyebrows. Feel this golden light flooding you with its enlightenment dissolving you as you gradually merge into it.

BLISS. Begin at the heart center. Feel the bubble of joy that resides beneath all restlessness. Let this bubble expands upward to the spiritual eye and then all around of you. Feel a bursting smile within you. Let that bliss expand outward in all directions until nothing exists except that Bliss.

During the day, you can create an affirmation or find one for each of these in Swami Kriyananda’s book, “Affirmations and Prayers for Self-Healing.


Nayaswami Hriman

Monday, May 9, 2011

Advice on which direction to sleep

The following text comes from the writings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Question: What is man’s relation to the earth?

         Answer: Each of us has a living relation to the universe. Our body may be compared to the earth. The rivers are the arteries, the stars are the eyes, vegetation is the hair. The same chemicals of which the earth is composed make up our body. The earth goes through the same processes of life which we go through. Just as we have more water than solids, so the earth has more water than solids. The earth is the biggest cannibal of all, for it not only eats vegetation but flesh as well. It eats up all living things and gives them back again in other forms.

         We have motion; the earth has motion. The earth has life; we have life. We work out a  certain destiny; the earth is working out a certain destiny. The earth has the same pattern as the body. The north and south poles of the earth are comparable to the human spine, and there are seven magnetic centers in the earth corresponding to the seven occult centers in the spine of man. As our body has billions of cells, so the earth is holding billions of tons of molecules and protons of light together.

Tremendous Vibrations

         Our bodies and nervous system are subject to the tremendous vibration of the earth, and also the stars. When we go higher and higher in spirituality, we begin to feel all the forces around us and gradually grow conscious of them. Thus we begin to understand the wonders of creation.

         Our mass thoughts and actions can change conditions in the world. In order to have a harmonious vibration on earth, we must live a pure life.

         Some places have more holy vibrations than others. When too much sin is created on the surface of the earth, it explodes in earthquakes, floods, eruptions, and so on. The vibrations of the earth are upset. The sinful vibrations are finally absorbed by the earth.

Earth Currents

         We should live outdoors as much as possible. We cannot live without air or light or the vibrations of the earth. When we sit on the earth, we receive healing currents.

         In meditation the devotee should not sit directly on the earth because he receives the currents of the earth, which tend to keep his thoughts earthbound. If he sits on  blanket, he will find that his body currents will be cut off from the earth current, and his body will then be free from magnetic disturbances while meditating.

Head towards East

         When lying down, the devotee should have his head toward the East and his feet to the West so that all the currents will go down his body. The impurities then cannot go to the head.

         The head toward the East means wisdom. The head to the South means longevity. The head toward the  North means sickness and even early death, because there are so many cross currents. The head toward the West gives dreams. The head, therefore, should be either to the East or to the South with the feet to the West or to the North. This is important to know.

         The greatest of all sins is ignorance—not to know what lies in our body. What wonderful beings we are! And the Sustainer of this universe is knocking at the gate of our heart, trying to walk in through the portals of silence and make within us a garden of happiness with the roses and blossoms of immortal qualities. If we will only let the Divine Gardener come in, we will see that all the weeds will wither and the Divine Gardener will grow the blossoms of immortality peace, and joy eternal.[1]

[1] From Talks and Articles by Paramhansa Yogananda   Inner Culture, November 1939

Sunday, May 8, 2011

8-Fold Path - Step 6 - SUPER ETHER!

The 6th Stage of the 8-Fold Path of Patanjali is called "dharana." I don't recall the literal translation of this Sanskrit word but it refers to that stage of meditation in which one or more of the eight aspects of superconscious are experienced. From the standpoint of our theme of the elements, Yogananda calls this stage SUPER ETHER. We saw in the prior blog post that the 5th stage was ETHER (space). We described that space as the calmness which precedes action. Well, SUPER ETHER is a reference to the even finer medium which is thought or consciousness itself. This, then, is consciousness before it enters a spatial awareness.

Imagine day dreaming. You are staring out the window completely lost to thought. Perhaps you don't even hear someone calling your name. Your eyes are open but you are not seeing any objects. Your mind is elsewhere. With the fifth stage (ETHER) representing the ability to shut off the five senses, it is natural that the next stage takes place on the astral plane and its perceptions are those of subtle realities.

In meditation, "dharana" means that meditator experiences peace, wisdom, energy, love, calmness, inner sound or light, and bliss as the observer. "I am feeling peaceful," for example. The meditator may hear the inner sounds of the chakras or the symphony of all of them -- the sound of AUM. He may see astral light in the forehead (behind closed eyes), or, the spiritual eye itself (3 concentric rings of gold, blue, and white).

But throughout the experience the observer ("I") is separate and aware of his separateness from the states being observed and felt. This is, in another sense, the "thinking, separate mind." Technically one doesn't have to be "thinking" a long line of thoughts in this state, but one is consciously self-aware even as one feels uplifted into a state of deep peace, love, or is receiving a flow of intuitive insights (as wisdom), and so on.

This state has its center at the base of brain and is considered to be the negative pole of the 6th chakra. It is aligned with the part of the brain called the medulla oblongata. Here also is called the "Mouth of God." As the physical mouth is the entry point to the physical body for the sustaining value of food and water, the medulla oblongata (in the astral body) is the entry point for Life Force (known as as cosmic consciousness, and also as prana). Just as a corpse cannot be revived by food and water but must first be "alive," so too that "aliveness" is caused by a flow of Life Force from the astral body which in turns receives that intelligent (causal) energy (astral) through the opening of this chakra.

When we leave the physical body at death, we leave through this doorway after rising through the tunnel of the deep spine, known as the sushummna. The light at the end of this tunnel is often reported by those who have had near-death experiences but who return to life. The light seen is the light of the astral world to which we go (in our astral and causal bodies) after "death."

The negative pole of the 6th chakra is also the seat of our I-ness, our sense of separateness, and of ego. Here ego is neutral, neither "good" nor "bad," just separate. We need ego to function in the body. When ego becomes prideful, energy is blocked at this center and the result may include a tightening of the muscles around the medulla which pulls the head back and gives the decided appearance of a person "looking down his nose!"

When we speak of the next two centers we will see that this one, the seat of ego, is the last great spiritual test of the soul in its upward journey towards Cosmic Consciousness and Oneness with God. As great as are the delusions of sense objects and of maya, the greatest test is the "pride which goeth before the fall." It is our sense of ego.

So here we see posed our human dilemma: we can see the promised land (peace, wisdom, love etc.) but the "I" cannot enter it, because I am still the observer and Peace still, yet, but an object (pleasant enough, to be sure). This basic existential relationship will only elongate and be exaggerated as we go down the spine and out through the senses into the material world. Once our soul does this it gets caught up for untold lifetimes pursuing will-o-the-wisp dreams of complete fulfillment: in possessions, positions, human love, pleasure, wealth and power.

Oddly enough those pursuits are somewhat easy to pierce the veil of delusion, but, alas, only mentally. For when one disappoints us, we simply move on in search of yet another. So, instead, here at the literal threshold of Oneness we see this promised land but, like Moses, we cannot enter it -- yet.

For the meditator on the upward path to Self-realization, however, this is a decided improvement and reward for the efforts made to date. I have said previously that these stages aren't to be taken literally or only sequentially. It's just easier to explain them intellectually in that way. For many of us have very profound experiences of superconsciousness (peace, wisdom, power, love, calmness, sound, light, and bliss), but they are fleeting and inconsistent, and, indeed, sometimes a "one-time shot." Often a person has such an experience and its purpose, spiritually speaking, is to ignite one's resolution and inspiration to embark consciously upon the inner path. After that, when the honeymoon is over, we have to do the hard daily work of spiritual disciplines and introspection.

We can bring this stage into daily life by affirming peace (etc.) in our actions, our thoughts, and our hearts as we go about the busy-ness of living. This is mere affirmation unless supported by actual inner experience in meditation, however. As we view life and others, so we become ourselves. Hence a focus and affirmation of higher values helps us, in time, to unfold and become those states of consciousness. Hence the positive and necessary value of the stage of dharana and the element of SUPER ETHER.


Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm Still Here

I'm still here. I will finish the 8-Fold Path series, soon. Life at Ananda Seattle has been very full. Today the residents of Ananda Community set aside a day of retreat: meditation, service projects, meals, discussion, and chanting together. We dedicated the day not only to a re-affirmation of our ideals and way of life, but to the memory of Narada (James) Agee, a resident and friend-to-all who died suddenly less than two weeks ago, on April 26. We hope to post a blog entry soon on the AnandaSeattle/blog with a simple biography and stories of inspiration from friends around the country.

At home we had guests - Padma's cousins from Austria visiting. It was enjoyable even if in our enjoyment the emails and inbaskets silently accumulated. So, no excuses but it's been a full time. Underneath a quiet satisfaction holds a space where ripples and rumbles of challenges: personal, family, friends, work and Community -- come and go. Quantity and quality vie for supremacy. Depth and breadth rise up like Ike and Mike in a comedy routine. The only thing to do is to show up. You have to be present to "win."

The world (is it just mine? I doubt it) seems to be an unsettled place right now. Even Spring can't make up her mind. So, onwards to the 8-Fold Path series.

Aum, Hriman