This evening we celebrate the Harvest (both moon and equinox) at Ananda in Bothell, WA. It's a popular and celebratory event led, this year, by the staff of Ananda Farms on Camano Island.
Tomorrow's Sunday Service theme revolves around intellect vs intuition. It has often been said that "There are two kinds of people in this world...." For those of us with a bent toward "eastern philosophy" and its doctrine of duality, we find this common dichotomy fairly useful, even if sometimes humorous and generally superficial. Such, then is the "half empty or half full cup" of life.
There are the Eeyore's of the world (the somewhat melancholy and doubtful donkey from the tales of Winnie the Pooh) and there are the Tiggers (the unfailingly bouncy, optimistic "tiger" in the same series).
We are often asked which are we? Which do we aspire to be? (One does imagine there are some other choices, but, well, never mind!)
But life, like you and I, are unendingly a mixed bag: both within our moods and consciousness, and, in the circumstances that befall us. We can no more banish sorrow than we can manufacture happiness by affirmation alone. Rather, the question becomes at what latitude do we normally live: at the frozen poles, the temperate zone, or the equator?
The great sage Patanjali, author of the "Yoga Sutras," the "bible" of meditation and higher consciousness, defined the state of yoga (unbroken joyful contentment and God-realization) as the result of a permanent state of being which is unaffected by the flux of nature and the flow of opposites (whether sensory or mental).
In medieval times, the cup was half-empty. The emphasis toward this state (whether in eastern or western philosophy) was on endurance; fortitude; forbearance; self-discipline; and faith. These were the means to overcome the exigencies of the flux of nature and life.
I have long been deeply inspired by a 20th century mystic who embodied the "path of the cross" so beautifully: Padre Pio. (A friend gave me a book on his life, though I have many times studied Padre Pio's life.) Having been raised a devout Catholic during the '50's, this "path" is familiar to me and not entirely off-putting. The cross of suffering that he accepted, he accepted with calm acceptance and joy. His sense of humor was delightful. His guru, Jesus Christ, enabled and epitomized this stoic path of even-mindedness amidst pain and suffering long ago for the benefit of the West. While Jesus is depicted historically as a "man of sorrows" how could he have attracted hundreds if not with what we all want: joy? Nonetheless, the path of the cross is a true path.
"For us now the payment has been exchanged for calm acceptance and joy." These words from the Festival of Light ceremony which we conduct every Sunday, in turn, reveal the new dispensation of truth that has dawned upon humanity at the beginning of a new age of awareness. The Festival of Light continues saying, "Thus may we understand that pain is the fruit of self-love, whereas joy is the fruit of love for God."
It is the ego that experiences physical pain, or the pangs of self-mortification and discipline. "The ego hates to meditate; the soul loves to meditate," taught Paramhansa Yogananda (author of "Autobiography of a Yogi"). Yogananda taught that Jesus' suffering on the cross, for example, was not for himself but for the ignorance and suffering of those who rejected him. That he experienced a moment of the "dark night of the soul" when divine consciousness fled from him on the cross shows not his spiritual weakness but the final exam each soul must face before the resurrection of his soul's realization that "I and my Father are One." He demonstrated this test for those who would follow him and take up their cross.
Yogananda stated that he came to proclaim this new dispensation of greater understanding. No longer does endurance and rock-like faith alone characterize spirituality in this age; no longer does that "way" inspire true devotees. Instead, the joy of seeking Him and sharing Him is the "way" for our times.
We Americans and the West are "tiggers:" optimistic; upbeat; eager to overcome obstacles that a better way of life might be found. "Eventually, eventually? Why not NOW?" This was how Yogananda delightfully described the American culture which he so admired.
But both "ways" are valid and true; each must be balanced and embraced. In the life of Swami Kriyananda, we see the joy of his soul overcoming tremendous obstacles such as physical pain and suffering, persecution, misunderstanding, financial hurdles and restrictions, and the obstinacy, ignorance and unwillingness of some who professed to support his public work and serve with him. Despite enormous challenges, Swamiji's productivity spiritually and creativity would have been the work of four Swami Kriyanandas in most people. Spiritually he helped inspire and uplift countless souls; creatively he authored many books, a new genre of music, and a worldwide network of intentional communities.
He explained to us that although Yogananda was known publicly as charming, magnetic, loving and a charistmatic spiritual teacher, to his close disciples he emphasized both attunement and the necessity to "carry one's cross." He himself took onto his body physical suffering for the sake of his disciples' karma saying that "astral entities" (Padre Pio might say, "devils" or "demons") were attacking him. He pointed out that the agony of the cross lasted three hours but that his own (and others') suffering lasted much longer.
Swami Kriyananda, thus, too carried many crosses throughout his lifetime. Yet, the grace of divine attunement to God and gurus manifested as light and joy, even-mindedness and energy, that outshone the darkness of challenges. To give birth to Ananda worldwide, he performed years of "tapasya": the redemptive and creative power of accepting suffering with faith and equanimity.
My "zen" way of putting this goes like this: "You can't get out alive!" Meaning: to achieve Self-realization, the ego must die. What seems like "death" to the ego is nothing more than the alchemy of transformation. In God, nothing really dies or is lost. (How can infinity exclude anything?) But we are made to believe that by the hypnotic power of the delusion of separateness (one of the definitions of "kundalini") we will "die." This is the final test: the dark night of the soul.
Infinity is BOTH-AND. We must untie the knots of past, bad karma AND find the joy of the soul as the guiding light of action.
Now: raise your cup and drink it to the lees and beyond!
Joy to you,
This blog's address: https://www.Hrimananda.org! I'd like to share thoughts on meditation and its application to daily life. On Facebook I can be found as Hriman Terry McGilloway and twitter @hriman. Your comments are welcome. Use the key word search feature to find articles you might be interested in. Blessings, Nayaswami Hriman
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Joy or Sorrow? Cup half full, or, half empty? Eeyore or Tigger?
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