Monday, June 27, 2016

Finding Peace in a Peaceless World

(Note: This will be sent to members and students of Ananda Seattle)

We’d be willing to bet that you may be finding that you are busier than ever before; that life is moving faster and more unpredictably than ever before. What’s going on? Is this some conspiracy? Is it toxins in our water, air, or food?

Paramhansa Yogananda’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, published only one book in his life: “The Holy Science.” In its introduction (written in 1894), he made a number of predictions for the 20th century and into the future based on a very technical analysis of astronomy using ancient Indian teachings and science. Among those predictions included the prediction that the average life span of humans would soon begin to increase. Another similar prediction relates to the average height of humans.(1)

The National Center for Health Statistics says that in 1907 the life expectancy for men was 45.6 years; by 1957 it rose to 66.4 years; and, in 2007 it reached 75.5.

Quoting from the website Our World in Data (org), it says that average height over the last two millennia hovered around 170 cm. “With the onset of modernity, we see a massive spike in heights in the developed world.”

But the most important prediction Sri Yukteswar made was that humanity would very soon discover that all matter is, in essence, a condensation of energy. That year was 1905 and the person who did that was Albert Einstein. Einstein proved that energy and matter are interchangeable! At its most elemental level, we call this the dawn of the Atomic Age. (1)

As humanity reaps the windfall (both blessings and curses) of this discovery, it has, and continues to rapidly convert the “matter” of fixed ideas and customs (politics, religion, science, art and culture) into a maelstrom of high energy potentials! The pace is not about to abate any time soon, because  Swami Sri Yukteswar further predicted this trend would continue for some two thousand years! We can only hope, for the sake of everyone, that the rate of change will gradually diminish.

This shift of awareness is upending and challenging traditional attitudes, customs, and power structures. From the “hard” view that matter (including our bodies and ego) are the bedrock reality to the “soft” view that we are all connected and interchangeable, is a rough and tumble journey generating conflict and confusion everywhere.

We see the past vs the future; haves vs have nots; sustainable living patterns vs destructive ones; racial conflicts; gender revolutions; international, national and local conflicts; global vs local interests; religious conflicts; personal liberties vs social mores or responsibilities; political upheaval; and on and on! Paramhansa Yogananda warned audiences that future conflicts and catastrophic events precipitated by the transition from one epoch of human awareness to a higher one would have to come first before a prolonged period of peace born of the new awakening.

Into this maelstrom of lifestyles, conflicts and confusion has come the gift of peace: the practice of yoga (meaning, meditation supported by physical yoga). This is the gift of the “gods” (meaning our higher nature, divinely inspired).

The practice of meditation, supported by hatha yoga, was brought to the West in 1920 by its foremost proponent, Paramhansa Yogananda . “Divine vision,” Yogananda wrote in his classic life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” is “center everywhere, circumference nowhere.” In a world view of billions of galaxies with no discernable center, we can discover that “the kingdom of heaven” is “within you.” There is no certitude or safety in money, position, reputation or talent. The source of our calmness, strength, and happiness lies in the “portable paradise” of peace within us.

If you want to walk with courage, confidence, and calmness amidst the “crash of (our) breaking worlds,” meditation is for you.

Take the time, therefore, each and every day, to put aside the world of duties and distractions, affix your inner gaze at the point between the eyebrows, open your heart, and calming your breath, come to the only reality there is: THE PRESENT MOMENT. This “point of singularity” is the “throne” of God, creator of all that is and it is your very SELF! “Be still,” the Psalmist counsels, “and know that I AM God.”

Joy to you,

Nayaswamis Hriman and Padma

(1) See either the Introduction to the book, "Holy Science" published by Self-Realization Fellowship, or, a more complete and fascinating analysis in the book, "The Yugas," by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz, published by Crystal Clarity Publishers

Saturday, June 18, 2016

War and Peace : reflections on American culture under attack

Although there is no lack of killings, suicide-bombings, and terrorist attacks around the world, the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, have hit home for Americans. The worst such shooting yet in American history has sparked a firestorm in part because the tragedy combines the volatile and extreme perceptions related to LGBT culture, ISIS ideology, and the hedonistic decadence symbolized by the nightclub scene.

What cries out to me as an allegory or a dramatic story is the contrast between the self-righteous and angry self-appointed upholder of moral law bringing down punishment upon the wild and crazy hedonists. It is reminiscent of a movie scene right out of Cecil B. DeMille's TEN COMMANDMENTS where Moses comes down the mountain to find his people worshiping the golden calf and engaging in all manner of immorality to the beat of drums, dancing disheveled and half-naked.

Is not the so-called loose morals of modern times a major gripe with the fundamentalist mentality everywhere and anywhere? (Christian, Moslem, Hindu, etc.) In the shootings in Paris last year, didn't the main focus of the shooting take place at a rock concert with a group whose name was something like "Eagles of Death?" Such places make easy targets, and not merely literally, but symbolically.

In Orlando, FL, the allegory is far richer than that. Alcohol, perhaps drugs, sex, LGBT's, and sensual music! What an incendiary target. (For the record, for all I know, the music at the Pulse Club was mellow and the atmosphere one of calm, table conversation! I'm speaking of perception, not necessarily reality.)

Our nation itself is struggling with these contrasts. It's not just east vs west in the way the killer and most people are defining this. Our nation has been struggling for decades, if not since its birth over two centuries ago, over the balance between personal liberties and social mores.

I believe that the long term direction of the evolution of human consciousness is weighted in favor of personal liberties, including their misuse. But I also believe that where the affirmation of personal liberties is strongest, the counterweight of individual responsibilities is needed. I'm not talking about nightclubs, here, but something much larger. Our national dialogue has been over balanced in the direction of "me, me, me."

Whether selfishness, corruption and greed are greater now than before, or, as I think is more likely, our tolerance of them in public life has steadily shrunk, the national conversation needs to emphasize our individual responsibilities toward the greater good of all.

Where is the conversation about the responsibilities of citizenship? I hear too frequently, "What's in it for me?" Where is the conversation of decency, moderation, reason, respect, sobriety, modesty, self-discipline, and cooperation -- all the attitudes and behaviors which, like oil in a motor, lubricates the commerce and intercourse of society at large? [In mentioning citizenship, I accept that at the present time in history, we weave a delicate balance between enfranchising people to vote and encouraging citizens to be educated about the machinery of government and the principles upon which it is founded.]

As a nation and as an example to other peoples, we've far too often affirmed our freedom and right to "do what we want" again and again. How about affirming the freedom to make the choice to do what is right and good: by the health of our body; the integrity of our commitments and relationships; the honesty and quality of our commerce; the beneficial results of our science; and our genuine interest in the welfare of all nations and peoples.

Where is the acknowledgement in social and political conversation that we should strive towards maturity? How often do we say that self-indulgence is immature and harmful: to ourselves but also to others. When and where, besides church, do we remind ourselves that a mature adult is one who, inter alia, holds in check-and-balance emotions such as lust, greed, anger and negativity? Is it not natural that maturity clothes itself in modesty (of dress, behavior, and self-expression)?

Has anyone ever mentioned that human happiness comes not from technology, high position, money or talent but from maturity, and not from immaturity? When will our national self-image and culture grow out of the adolescence of the 20th century? The "cowboy" image of America is not something to be proud of: boastful, insensitive, and aggressive as it is. [Not a slur on real cowboys, mind you!]

In other words, lets shift the America dialogue about who "we are" from "what I want" to "what is right and good for me and others." We don't need legislation or rules for this. It takes, instead, a shift in consciousness. (How much more smoothly would our legislative bodies function if its members were actually this mature?)

Let the tragedy of Orlando result not only in an outpouring of sympathy, but let us recognize that an attack upon our nation and culture (whether from within or without) cannot be sustained if our national character reflects universal values that all people respect and admire. Such values necessarily result in peace, health, and prosperity.

May the light of wisdom shine upon you,

Nayaswami Hriman

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why We Need Community

Note to friends: Ananda Community Open House: Tomorrow! Stay tuned for a follow up article with some reflections about American society. "Just sayin' "

Our nation mourns for the latest victims of violence in our country even as calls go forth for finding preventative solutions for the future. Could this Saturday’s annual Open House and Solstice Celebration held by Ananda Community in Lynnwood  be relevant to the serious challenges in our time?

We certainly think so. The modern trend of globalism is neither all “good” nor all “bad.” It is complex and besides being an historical fact and a cultural fait accompli, it is, among other things, a trend that is bringing people of every race and nation in contact with one another.

What we see in decline, however, is a sense of community. Our urban and suburban neighborhoods tend to be a transient admixture of people and families with little in common, and their paths rarely cross.

On July 30, 1949, at a speech given in Beverly Hills, Paramhansa Yogananda proclaimed that “I am sowing into the ether” the seeds of the community ideal for the future. He predicted that a new pattern of conscious, intentional and sustainable living would “spread like wildfire.” The “wildfire” part still awaits a future ignition but the increasing violence in the world will unquestionably be one of the sparks. Economic challenges, no doubt, will be another.

The stage is being set and Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, who was present in the audience that fateful day, vowed to do his part. Before his passing in 2013, Swami Kriyananda had founded nine such communities throughout the world, including the Ananda Community in nearby Lynnwood.

The concept of intentional communities is not limited to its residential forms. Virtual communities or associations of those inspired and committed to serve their own local area or the world at large, all count as “communities.”

Our invitation to you, therefore, for this Saturday’s Solstice Celebration and Open House is an opportunity for all of us to register “our answer” to mindless violence by coming together to affirm our kinship with one another and all life. The power of harmony and friendship will always win, but it takes conscious efforts on our part. 

Since time immemorial, the Summer Solstice has drawn people together, recognizing intuitively that the powerful rays of the sun at its diurnal zenith symbolize the healing and energizing rays of the Divine Light within and without.

Blessings to all,
Nayaswamis Hriman and Padma McGilloway

Note details of the Open House:
Come rain, sun, thunderstorms! It will be fun and memorable no matter what!
Saturday, June 18, 3 to 7 p.m. 20715 Larch Way, Lynnwood 98036
3 p.m. Grounds are open; parking in the back. Tours, refreshments, childrens activities, music, summer fun faire booths with food, organic produce, clothing, gifts, books and healing services!

5 p.m. Solstice Celebration : a theme of family featuring music & ceremony
6 p.m. Vegetarian dinner (free)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Beam Me Up! How We Rise Spiritually!

I am Underwater:

A fish doesn't necessarily know that it is in water. The medium of water becomes the "given" and is assumed. "If there was a sound, continuous since birth and omnipresent until death, what would you call it?" "Silence." If there is a YOU, consistent since birth, identified with the same, if slowly changing body, a family, an environment, culture and customs, what do you call it? ME. 

You are Other:

If I am ME, then you must be YOU, and you are NOT ME! When, therefore, we contemplate God, we contemplate that which is not ME. As I cannot BE YOU, then I cannot BE God. Or so says logic.

Out of the Labyrinth:

If we encounter the Vedantic and metaphysical teaching that we are children of God and that our destiny is to reclaim our divinity and soul freedom by becoming ONE with God just as a wave is in separable from the great ocean, how then do we find our way out of the labyrinth of ME vs YOU?

My Help Cometh from the Lord:

There has been no time in known history where nations, tribes and peoples were not guided by spiritual teachers, prophets, or guides. In all walks of human life, there are leaders among whom there are, however rarely, great and inspired geniuses. In any successful group dynamic and enterprise, leadership emerges and proves essential. "Help" as if "from above" enters the picture at every crucial juncture of human history. As our intellect and intuition are centered in the heart and the brain (and not the stomach), and as ideas appear as ideas in our mind or heart, so too is all life guided silently and invisibly from a higher realm which we cannot see. 

While you may justly claim that "I had an idea," you cannot say from "Whence cometh" the idea. We do not know where our inspiration and good ideas come from. We only know they simply appear, full blown (sometimes) whether in dreams or in our waking hours. It is true that we usually attract ideas by putting out the effort to think things through, to put our mind to the task of solving problems, and otherwise by intense mental or physical effort in a given direction, but the solution itself, we cannot otherwise account for its timing or substance. At the same time, only Einstein received E=mc2. I didn't. No poet did. Neither did a composer or a housewife. We get inspirations (usually) that are personal and pertinent to my life. [Habitual dreamers, those who live in make believe worlds of their own imaginings, may receive all sorts of ideas but they never bear fruit.]

From Whence Cometh the Lord?

Just as you cannot account for the appearance of an idea in your mind, neither can you account for your own existence. You, too, simply appeared: to yourself as an infant, toddler, child and an adult. If however, "you" are a soul and not a body, then we are like prodigal children caught in a foreign land, seeking our way home. We need a spiritual "Einstein," an alchemist, to show us how to convert flesh into spirit. We need a guide. Only one with the proven power to go between the two worlds of Spirit and Matter can teach you how to do it. Do you need to eat? To breathe? Can you stop your heart and breath at will and leave your physical form behind, and then return at will? Why then imagine you do not need an enlightened teacher to show you the way?

Letting Go

We cannot fall asleep consciously for the simple fact that the subconscious state is not the conscious state. To enter the state of sleep we must "let go" of the conscious mind and "fall into" sleep. Sleep is a lower state of awareness. In sleep we are either unaware or our dreams are an incoherent jumble (most of the time). 

Superconsciousness lies at the opposite end of the consciousness spectrum. Unlike sleep, we are, in superconsciousness, vibrantly alive and awake. But like sleep, superconsciousness is not under the control of the conscious mind. And, therefore, like sleep, it also entails a kind of letting go. Swami Kriyananda, in his landmark book on consciousness, "Awaken to Superconsciousness," describes this process as "upward relaxation [back] into superconsciousness." The conscious and subconscious states are but derivatives of the superconscious mind.

The experience of superconsciousness is not the product of an intellectual assent or mere affirmation of will. It is a state of being which is very subtle relative to the vibration or frequency of ordinary thoughts and emotions. Superconsciousness lies as a horizon line between the lower state of sleep and the conscious state of wakefulness. To use another image: think of superconsciousness as the top point of a pyramid: the two lower and opposite corners are the states of the conscious and subconscious mind. To ascend to superconsciousness we must strip away the heavy baggage of passing thoughts, heaving emotions and body awareness that the very light balloon of pure awareness might rise.

The Movie

Our conscious mind and subconscious mind are more like the appearance of reality on a movie screen: the hero and the villain, as it were; day and night. Both emerge from the singular beam of superconsciousness from the projection booth of Spirit. The images are caused by the darkening imprinted dots on the film. These are our restless, body-bound thoughts and emotions. The beam of light is otherwise unaffected by the film crossing over it. The images on the screen continue until the film is over or the operator removes the film to reveal just the pure beam of light on the screen.

The Transmission

To switch metaphors, but like a transmission of radio signals, superconsciousness requires a sender and a receiver. The sender has to have a sending "unit," which is to say, must be already in superconsciousness, while you, the receiver, have to be turning your dial to the frequency of the sender. Bit by bit you refine, clarify, and purify the frequency of your receiver, thus showing your readiness and attunement to the sender's wavelength and frequency. This is the guru-disciple relationship. As St. John in Chapter One of his gospel writes of Jesus Christ: "To as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God." 

In meditation we learn to focus calmly but deeply and intently, at the point of singularity (this horizon line) in the forehead. There, awaiting the transmission "signal" given to us by the guru's invisible presence, our breath can be snatched away (temporarily, at first) as we enter into this sacred land of the soul. [It is not necessary that the guru be in a human body at that time or physically present for us to receive his transmission, for we are speaking of higher states of consciousness which are independent, indeed the very source of, material and physical realities.] 


Superconsciousness is not born of ego. It is a state unto itself: universal and omnipresent, stripped of the characteristics of ego (memory, desires, senses, personality, and bodily identification). The ego therefore does not possess the right frequency to tap into superconsciousness alone. The ego frequency is, as stated earlier, derived FROM superconsciousness and is a lower vibration, rate of frequency and so on. 

No mere book or course or ordinary (if brilliant, witty, and even wise) teacher can take us to this "land beyond our dreams" (as Paramhansa Yogananda called it). A true teacher is one who already is awake and living in superconsciousness and who can transmit it at (the command of divine) will.

"Beam me up, Scotty!"

Joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda