Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome 2015: Adieu to 2014!

Those who follow mainline world news may wonder what is there to welcome but flaming hotspots of war, disease and violence? But as each morning lets us begin a new day, so each year offers us the opportunity for a fresh perspective. Though to turn away in a yawn or a scoff may seem the better part of realism, the human spirit needs refreshment every bit as much as the human body needs nightly rest or daily nutrition.

If I were a psychic or a saint I could make some intriguing predictions about 2015, but predicting is a fool's game to play in print. But it is a good moment to step back and ask "What directions have I been taking? Are these the directions that will bring to me happiness or pain?" And, as we are part of a much larger world, we might also ask ourselves "What events in the world around me seem to hover, ready to strike? What, if anything, should I do in anticipation?" As a yogi and devotee I wonder, "What is God, through my karma and my guru (Paramhansa Yogananda), guiding me to focus on for my own spiritual growth? How can I serve Thee and to do that which will make me free?"

The more years I spend on this planet the more I am convinced that reality, happiness, truth.......are found in "God alone." This sounds a bit much unless one dives a little deeper. "God alone" is a code phrase for being centered; unruffled amidst the "crash of breaking worlds." It is code for having a "God's eye view" of life, and, more importantly, MY LIFE! Not only in "don't sweat the small stuff," but hold steadfast to faith and ultimate goodness in the big stuff, too. Devotion, prayer, meditation, and active service together build a fortress of inner peace.

It also refers to the intuitive realization born of lifetimes of living and seeking that no human dream or goal or experience, whether laudatory or debased, can bring more than a fleeting peek of true happiness. This is one of the gold rings of the true Trilogy. This is the wisdom of what, in India, is called Shankhya philosophy. It is, however, universal to the unfolding of human consciousness even if it is but the first step towards wisdom. (The second gold ring is the awakening, or "smriti," of our divine nature and of Divinity as the only reality. The third is the ever-expanding realization of that nature.)

Few people are born with this insight. In most lives it comes, if it comes at all, with living a God-centered, truth-centered (versus a Me-centered) life. However, even Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says, "Out of a thousand, one seeks Me......" And, in viewing the drama of human lives, that's probably closer to the real odds given by the "Las Vegas" wheel of human karma.

Honestly, I don't know how people find any sustaining happiness, creativity and contentment in this world without a faith that is rooted in a robust sense of centeredness and divine Presence. How many humans, by the time life comes to a natural end, have succumbed to disillusionment, ennui, and regret. Some, too, augur into self-made hells of hatred and bitterness. Others, simply into pain: physical or emotional; others, too, into the escapist world of the sub-conscious mind. And yes, admittedly, there are good people everywhere who live to a ripe old age: happy, grateful, and content. This latter group is to be commended for having done so seemingly devoid of any faith but I wonder how deeply rooted this state is (for those of us who believe in reincarnation). Who can predict whether the karmic wheel will fall on this coveted space? Is there anyone who can, by force of will power alone, ensure such a happy destiny? I doubt it. Those who have achieved it seem to have been born with it.

Looking back over 2014, can you discern a direction to your thoughts and attitudes? Actions and responses? A pattern to events and relationships? Imagine railroad tracks extending from these patterns forward past the veil which hides the future? Peer into and past that veil. Where do they lead? Was 2014 a victorious year for conscious, sustainable, ideal-focused living, or, well, is it time to renew your "vows?"

Diet? Exercise? Yoga? Meditation? Education? Service to your community? These should be on your review and to-do list. Yes? TV, movies, internet, overspending, sloth etc etc...........say no more?

Economists tell us 2015 is looking up. Being somewhat a contrarian by nature, I figure that when the bulls or the bears are stampeding, that's the best time to reverse course. The Dow at 18,000? Based on, what, exactly? I'd say be very conservative before leaping into the idea that 2015 is going to be a banner year economically. Grow food; nurture conscious-living friends and community, refresh your spirit on retreat; in nature; and, yes, for some, in pilgrimages or other ideal-inspired travel. Share generously but wisely, relative to your means, of course.

Politically: ditto all the way. More of nothing from the U.S. Congress. Poor 'ol Obama: intelligent, wise and well-meaning: stuck in the mud of a divided nation. Our national culture is suspicious of the federal government and for good reason: both on principle and on experience. Obama came on the scene when our nation was broke and bereft of consensus and confidence. Yet, some of the issues we face nationally and internationally require strong leadership and bold, though perhaps unpopular, initiatives. Sigh. Ditto internationally: east vs west (a replay?). Asia vs. the west (unfinished karma)? Hard to see our way forward, isn't it?

The solution is local, not global. The solution is individual, not collective or political. This is the hard lesson that our planet must learn. It is neither easy to do, nor pretty to watch. Ananda describes this solution in terms of intentional communities: people with shared (but universal) ideals, cooperating creatively, and with individual volition and initiative. Affirming and working with the positive.

You see: ours is an age of individualism. Yet, none are an island unto ourselves; nor could we be in this world of globalism that we have created. Individuals, not nations, must acquire conscience; integrity; self-effort; creative-thinking, health-mindedness and high-mindedness. Despite the enormous power of the "haves," the others CAN change the tide of history by being "the change we seek."

Think in longer rhythms, in other words. For the few who can leave the cities and start a new life, perhaps with others, go for it!

Last year we (Padma and I) were given Vedic astrology readings. Having reached the landmark of 60 years (ok, a tad north of that), it seemed a good time for a higher altitude perspective. Sure enough, changes are afoot! This phase of life tends naturally to be a time to begin pulling back from well-honed skills in order to mentor others and/or to serve in a broader way, and thus it was the message of the "stars" to us, as well. We expect to go further afield of the Seattle area to serve the work of Ananda. We shall see!!!!

So, time to reflect and renew and put the shoulder to the wheel of happiness, health, and "heaven."

A blessed and ever-New Year!

Nayaswami Hriman