Showing posts with label meditation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meditation. Show all posts

Monday, January 31, 2022

The Wizard of Oz: a modern spiritual allegory


(Note: the inspiration for this interpretation came as I contemplated the ebbing life of Nayaswami Anandi who left this earth just a few days after. Why this inspiration? I cannot say, perhaps the theme song "Over the Rainbow" was a subliminal connection, but I used it as the focus of a talk at Sunday Service on the day of her passing, January 30, 2022. See Ananda Washington YouTube channel and the Service entitled "Mystery of the Avatara." Link at bottom of this article)

A modern spiritual allegory can be found in the wonderful, popular, and delightful original movie "The Wizard of Oz."

Based on the story published in 1900 by author L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz was made into a movie in 1939. I first saw it as a child in the 1950's when it was aired on television.**

Here then is the allegory that unfolded into my mind as I recollected the story:

We, like Dorothy, are orphans for our souls are made in the image of God and, as St. Augustine put it, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." No one seems to understand us. They want to take away our daydreams which are in fact a memory of the pure happiness of the soul. Little Toto, her dog, represents her tiny but energetic and wise soul memory. 

At first, when life wants to steal our happiness we want to run away but our own sincerity (represented by the kindly Professor Marvel who reminds us that our loved ones will be saddened by our absence) beckons us to face reality courageously. But it cannot be found by seeking the innocence of childhood and the safety of the past.

So we can't go back home to childhood; we must move forward through our karma. But we are too often swept up in the tornado of adolescent and young adult years by the whirlwind of life's passions and confusions, and we find for a time that everything we hoped for and thought was true is "gone with the wind."

But our sincerity grounds us and out of the maelstrom, we land (sometimes hard) into a new world of spirituality and find that we have "killed" the "wicked witch of the West," she who would entice us to seek worldly goals. We are not in Kansas anymore! We may have crushed the wicked witch of material delusions but the wicked witch of ego aggrandizement is still very much alive. She is far more powerful and is bent upon preventing us from finding soul happiness. 

Though confused we pray for guidance and suddenly, Divine Mother, the kind witch of the East, appears to point us in the right direction and to give us the ruby red slippers of sadhana (meditation and spiritual practices). She says we must travel to the Emerald City (of superconsciousness) to find our guru, the wizard who can tell us how to find our true home (traveling via Aum). Clicking our red ruby slippers three times, chanting "Aum, Tat, Sat," we ready ourselves to embark upon our journey. 

With our goal clarified, the little Munchkins of our thoughts, intentions, and actions cheer us on to the "yellow brick road" of the spine. The astral world is golden-yellow and so, then, is the path to our home in Aum. But it is a lonely, interior path and it winds its way facing the obstacles of our own karma, energized by the leering, haughty witch ego hiding behind the trees of life. The yellow brick road represents the winding astral channels of ida and pingala, clogged at times with our karma and hiding the straight and narrow path of the sushumna. 

While yet alone we need help; we need companions. Our companions in life are the three paths of yoga, the "organs" of perception, feeling, and action. When we come to the inevitable crossroads of life, we need wisdom. But the scarecrow of our confused and restless mind must learn to concentrate and develop the intuition to know which path to take. Our resolve can rust our determination like a Tin Man in the rains of karma if we do not use the oil of devotion so we can continue our journey. (Like the foolish virgins of Jesus' parable who failed to keep the oil of their lamps topped off.) Our resolve and our wisdom are yet not enough. It takes lion-like courage to not only go onward but to resist the temptations and distractions along the way. 

As we journey along we encounter temptations to rest and to sleep in daydreams of happiness in the Elysium fields of the subconscious. But wisdom and devotion support our resolve even when our energy and enthusiasm flags. At last, we reach the Emerald City of superconsciousness. There we are welcomed by saintly vibrations and purified by the inner light but even now we cannot rest for the wicked witch of Ego remains at large. To achieve the blessing of the guru we must do our part and return to the world of our karma to do battle with the usurper of our soul kingdom.

We sally forth into the battle but the monkeys of body-consciousness, desire for comforts, material desires, approval, and recognition strive to imprison us. Little Toto--our soul memory--comes to our rescue by calling up our soul-wisdom, devotion, and courage to liquidate the ego and triumph with the capture of the "broomstick" of our spine now upraised by the power of Kundalini--the symbol and power of the transformation of the ego into the light of the soul. 

Now it is revealed to us with Toto's intervention that the guru is a human incarnation of God! In the human form, the guru might seem quite ordinary to those without "eyes to see," but the Wizard of Oz has power over life and death and access to the "controls." The guru awakens us to the "inner Toto" of soul-victory and now departs in the astral balloon of light, promising to us to send the Comforter, the Divine Mother to bring to our "remembrance all things." This is when Divine Mother reappears to remind Dorothy that she has always had the power to ascend, for she is none other than the immortal soul clothed temporarily in human form, just as was the guru. Tapping her ruby red shoes of sadhana three times and chanting AUM, TAT, SAT Dorothy re-awakens to her home in AUM, and in Divine Bliss.

Swami Hrimananda!

** A summary of the plot of the Wizard of Oz can be found at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_(1939_film)

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Do You Need a Guru? Celebrating Guru Purnima

Today as I write it is the full moon and with it India's annual mid-summer day of honoring and celebrating one's teacher, especially one's guru! If I understand the festival, Guru Purnima, correctly, Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists celebrate this holy day. It just so happens that the weekly readings at the Ananda temples around the world land on this very same subject: Do You Need A Guru? Tomorrow, Sunday, July 25 is the day Ananda holds dear as "Babaji Day." To add yet more to this, tomorrow at our temple near Seattle we will conduct, coincidentally, a discipleship initiation for a few aspiring souls. So these are at least four good reasons to write this article!

I use these excuses and this occasion to talk not generally about the role of a guru but more specifically about the life and role of one such great yoga master of the twentieth century: Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the now-famous "Autobiography of a Yogi").


Most of you who will read this already know that Yogananda's guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar of Serampore, Bengal (India), made an important and shocking correction to the Hindu calendar in 1894 in his book, "The Holy Science." In the introduction to this book, he announced that according to Hindu astrology and Oriental astronomy planet Earth entered the ascending cycle of the second of four ages called Dwapara on about the year A.D. 1900.

Any student of the history of science and technology would not be the least bit surprised. The defining discovery of the twentieth century took place only a few years later by Albert Einstein who in effect declared the death of matter and the birth of the age of atomic energy.  

Religionists, on the other hand, eyeing the decline of adherence to traditional values and religions and the rise of atheism and materialism have declared the death of God-fearing civilization and the birth of an age that surely will culminate in the end times.

From the standpoint of spiritual awakening, this new age would certainly seem ripe for the appearance of a new Buddha or Christ. Swami Kriyananda, the founder of Ananda's worldwide work, lived with and was trained and commissioned by Paramhansa Yogananda in the last years of Yogananda's life (1893-1952). Swami Kriyananda concluded that Yogananda must surely be a world teacher for this new age of Dwapara. 

But unlike the personality cult surrounding the religion that revolved around Jesus Christ, it is far more likely that Yogananda's role will be seen somewhat more like that of the Buddha: a wayshower. Of course, true disciples will tune into Yogananda as true disciples always do to their guru but by virtue of Yogananda's teachings their understanding will already be grounded in a more universal understanding that Yogananda is one of many avatars sent by God to fulfill specific missions of spiritual upliftment in times of need.  

There are many reasons to see in Yogananda the role of a world teacher for this age. And there were during his life and are now many spiritual teachers on the planet. Comparisons are odious and unnecessary. Instead, some of the characteristics that identify Yogananda as having an important role in human spiritual evolution include that he struck a careful balance between East and West; indeed, he consciously lauded the best aspects of each. He didn't seek to convert his followers into Hindus nor yet did he pretend to be a converted Christian. He taught yoga and meditation and yet built churches and held services remarkably familiar to Westerners. He drew inspiration from the Christian Bible as well as from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. He showed their underlying similarity rather than declaring one greater than the other. 

He expressed great devotion to his guru-lineage as well as to the One God, the Infinite Spirit. He affirmed Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) while at the same time taught that the way to the One was through the Other (I-Thou). He loved saints while he had experiences of cosmic consciousness. He spoke of heaven and hell but as temporary waiting stations on the soul's long journey to God. He spoke of the evolution of the species but averred the special creation and status of the human form.  He affirmed the truth of all religions yet discerned that not all affirmed the highest teaching of union with God. He recognized the equality and yet the differences of the sexes and yet insisted the soul has no gender before God. He taught union with God as the goal of the soul's creation while explaining that consciousness is forever and nothing of our past lives is ever destroyed or obliterated. 

He praised Western technological and commercial efficiency but bemoaned our sectarianism and materialism. He loved India's deep spirituality but hoped that India would raise its standard of living through education, hygiene, and renouncing stifling caste taboos.

Yogananda urged students to get back to the land and form small self-sustaining communities which would grow their own food and have a lifestyle that was both efficient and God-centered. He didn't reject modern labor-saving technology but decried "installment method" consumerism as a modern form of servitude. 

Yogananda created devotional chants and poetry; started gardens and farms; schools for children; a yoga university; encouraged art and theatre with an uplifting message.

Interestingly, apart from the popularity of his life story and notwithstanding the universal respect for him and his contributions, very few outside his own followers, students, and modern-day disciples seem to acknowledge his role in this new and very uncertain age. Phillip Goldberg did the first real biography of Yogananda and included a chapter about Yogananda in his book, "American Veda," but overall it seems that Yogananda has not yet taken his place in history. But history is written "post facto" and many of us believe that in the future Yogananda's life will be seen as a pivotal contributor to the awakening consciousness of Dwapara Yuga.

For members of Ananda worldwide, we also believe that his strong emphasis on the importance of small, intentional communities (which he said would one day "spread like wildfire") will bear the fruit of recognition at some future date. Many alive today agree that humanity's lifestyle is in an unsustainable downward spiral of the consumption of earthly resources. This can only end in great calamity and presumably great suffering. Yogananda himself predicted as much. One easily imagines that this is what it will take for humanity to change our entrenched attitudes and habits. But this particular story also has yet to play out. 

As with all the great world saviors, Yogananda is alive and well on planet earth but perhaps more so for he came especially for us and in our times. He no longer requires a human form to guide anyone who seeks his help. You need not be or consider yourself to be his disciple because his love and wisdom are available to all just as it was when he walked the earth and thousands flocked to hear his words and be in his aura.

Jai guru! 

Swami Hrimananda


Friday, July 16, 2021

Yogic Brain Washing! The Power of Meditation

 At night we cleanse our minds of our daily thoughts and preoccupations. This is especially so when we enter the dreamless state of our sleep cycle. For our computer hard disk, we periodically are advised to run the programs DISK CLEAN, or DEFRAG or run a VIRUS SCAN. 

Meditation, properly practiced, does for the mind what deep sleep and these software maintenance programs do for our computer and hard disk.

It is difficult to overcome the chatter of the subconscious mind during meditation. Dubbed the "Monkey Mind," restless thoughts are perhaps the greatest obstacle to satisfyingly deep meditations. The problem is not just restlessness, however. It is not just a habit. The mind is programmed to remain conscious and in control, presumably for the maintenance and protection of the body. This simple fact accounts, at least metaphysically, for why some people have difficulty surrendering to the sleep state.

And yet the gift of meditation comes, like the sleep state, when we surrender our thoughts into the silence of a higher, more conscious state of awareness. Consider what it is like to stare out the window at a lovely garden or a panoramic scene, a sunset, a mountain. For a few seconds, you gaze at the scene and it takes your breath away, or, at least your thoughts--even if just for a moment. Watching an engrossing movie or video can do something similar; so, also when engrossed in a book or writing a story, painting a picture, or dancing.

In other words, we experience this state of mind that is above our active thoughts in various activities even though we don't contemplate why or its effects (which are very calming and satisfying). Like the sleep state, however, being engrossed in an activity, while pleasant, isn't pure in the sense that the object of our attention is something outside our own awareness.

Meditation can turn our attention to the state of awareness it-self: without color, name, form, condition, or expectation. To enter and deeply relax into this state of pure awareness is to wash the fevered brain of many impurities of anxiety, likes, dislikes, desires, fears and fantasies. It is truly an existential experience.

For many meditators, this description does not appeal or invite. Instead, many prefer to enter that state in the presence of a divine being by some name or form. Alternatively, one can meditate upon an idea (like peace) or any mental object that inspires one. 

Such a practice is equally rewarding even if the testimony of great rishis and masters suggests that there comes a point when the guru or deity vanishes and we are left on our own at least temporarily to face our own face; or, the face of seeming emptiness, or darkness. But few meditators actually get to this point for it takes great courage of heart and strength of will to meditate to such a deep state. Nonetheless, it is a matter of, shall I say, disclosure to mention it.

For the rest of us, however, even "a little practice of this" will cleanse the heart and mind of the burden of our ego's preoccupations. Seconds or minutes of mindful clarity, transcendent of the intrusion of thoughts, clear as the vast blue sky and swept clean by pure, cooling summer breezes of Being will wash the brain and revitalize the soul's innate happiness.

Is it easy to achieve this experience? Yes, and, well, No! For starters, guess what? You have to actually WANT to enter into this space. The "wanting" has to be positive and energized, grounded in calm feeling, and propelled by what I call "soft" willpower. 

Here are a few hints that you may find helpful. Whatever else is your meditation technique, during your practice make sure your inward gaze is raised just slightly as if you are peering through the point between the eyebrows at some not too distant object. This position needs to be soft and gentle, not strained or forced. Think about how we often look up when we are trying to remember something. During meditation, the goal in the use of this technique is to remain in visual contact with that point behind closed eyes throughout your meditation. Normally, the eyes will "drop" whenever thoughts intrude or your attention goes elsewhere. When that happens just bring your visual focus back to this point without making a mental fuss over it. Don't give up. Just keep on re-directing.

Secondly, focus one-pointedly on the details of your technique: for example, observing the flow of breath; inwardly chanting a mantra; visualizing a divine Being. Most techniques will require two or more focal points of awareness.

Generally, at least two, or preferably three "objects" of focus are needed to create a magnetic aura of concentration that has enough magnetism to cauterize or hold at bay thoughts popping up like ads on YouTube. Beneath these focal points of concentration is the underlying feeling of calm but joyful expectation of entering the sanctum sanctorum of "thoughtlessness" (pun). This feeling acts as a motivator or generator of that soft willpower I mentioned earlier. You cannot force a higher state of mind. It comes, as Jesus put it, "like a thief in the night" just when you don't expect it. And when it does, feel free to abandon your technique or simply continue it if you feel too.

But after your technique, the gold standard is to be able to drop all "doing" and enter "being." Rest in the after-poise of your meditation technique sitting in the sunlight of calm Self-awareness above the clouds of interposing thoughts. Even a few seconds of this spacious mind will bring relief and cleansing to the brain.

Is this the end-game, then, of meditation? No, not even close. Rather, clearing the deck of conscious and subconscious thoughts is simply to clean and prepare the vessel of your awareness to receive inspiration from what Paramhansa Yogananda dubbed the Superconscious Mind. You could call this the soul or the atman or anything else if you prefer. 

Is this the end game? By no means. The end-game is endlessness and the purpose of this article is to talk about the process of "brain-washing!" Whatever else may come is between you and your divine Self. First things first!

Blessings to you,

Swami Hrimananda, your own Self

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

How Has the Autobiography of a Yogi Impacted You?

The Autobiography of a Yogi has been read by millions of people all over the world since its publication in 1946. A common feeling after having read it, is “What next?” An invitation to take courses or lessons is offered but somehow, for those who take that step, there’s too large a gap between the inspiration of the former and the hard work of the latter.

This common experience is like watching a good movie: you’re on the edge of your seat at some points; crying with sadness, another; laughing here and there, and, finally, by the end, you feel good and are glad you watched. Maybe you spend a few minutes afterward or later thinking about the movie, BUT, you go home and life returns to normal. No real change in your life has occurred beyond momentary inspiration, a little bit of serious thought, and the pleasure of passing entertainment.

We received on the website the question below from a student in college that expresses the concern that nothing lasting will come of his experience in reading the “A.Y.” Here’s what he says:

“I am and student and I started reading this book a few weeks ago and as of now, I am on chapter 4. I want to know that what kind of knowledge and wisdom will I get after reading the whole book? This book’s knowledge is respected by the people around the globe but still I am not able to figure out what sort of knowledge and wisdom I'll get apart from kriya yoga and experiencing inner self?” 

Dear Student,

You are asking practical questions related to your goal of education. Well done! 

Many years ago when I first met Swami Kriyananda (a direct disciple of Yogananda and the founder of Ananda worldwide), I heard him say in a public talk that "Faith is the most practical thing of all." This seemed contradictory to me at first. Later he would sometimes add "Action is clarifying." The value of taking action on the inspiration one receives cannot be understated. Ideas are of the mind but it is the heart that can motivate us to act and make real our inspirations.

At the time, I was "fresh" from college (a euphemism, merely, I was happy to be done with college) and very much in the mindset that you express: fascinated with ideas but unsure of what to do. And yet, it is good to ask questions like this.

First of all, rest assured that the Autobiography of a Yogi is saturated with knowledge both of this world and of the subtler worlds. It is a distillation of India's ancient knowledge and is drawn from direct, personal perception and not just book-learning. It is saturated, also, with "how-to-live" wisdom and expresses faith in the unseen truths that operate this world invisibly, subtly but inexorably. In short, it has changed the lives of millions of people.

Often, the change is a delayed reaction. For many, the "AY" plants seeds of faith. These seeds may sprout later in life when the person is ready to water these seeds so that they blossom into flowers of wisdom and yield the fruit of Self-realization. At the same time, how often have I heard students of meditation express regret that they didn't act on the inspiration they first had at the time, decades earlier, they had read the "AY."

However, your question is wise because what you are seeking cannot be found in a book; it cannot be found outside yourself; it cannot be found without diligent effort. Like a miner deep underground digging for gold buried in the dark rocks of the subconscious mind, you will have to earn it for yourself. The "AY" shows what is possible if you make the right effort. It will not make the effort for you! 

Wisdom is not of the mind; it is of the heart. Wisdom is not in the skies but lies buried deep in the earth of your Being. 

So, you are right to question but right also to keep on reading. Just as your studies will benefit the rest of your years on earth, so too will the "AY" if you receive it in your heart. 

May the Light of Wisdom shine before you,

Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA USA

 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

"All is fair in Love and War" -- Happy Valentine's Day, 2021!

 

“All is Fair in Love and War” 

Valentine’s Day 2021



Perhaps it all started with Adam and Eve. Formerly innocent in their nakedness, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil opened their eyes to their differences and the attraction between them as man and woman. Thus, it is said, humanity fell from grace, from favor in God’s eyes.

It has no doubt puzzled far wiser heads than mine to reconcile what seems like the perfectly reasonable and useful knowledge of good and evil or the attraction between men and women with the cause of humanity’s fall from divine favor. But there it is. We have to deal with it. Besides, some might say, what’s wrong with knowledge, or romance and sex?

The sexual aspect of this fall is not easily dismissed though it is often ignored by a focus upon the nature of the knowledge of good and evil. One must assume there’s no difference as the two are clearly related to each other in the story.

Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the famous and popular story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” explains this conundrum in his writings and in his life story. While I’ll refrain from a complete recap of Yogananda’s commentary on the Adam and Eve story, he wrote that sex temptation (“touch”) is the “apple” in the center of the garden (of the body). The sex nerves are stimulated by the movement of Life Force of the body (the coiled up spinal energy, the “serpent”) which arouses the feeling aspect of human consciousness (the “Eve’) which draws into its orbit the reason aspect (the “Adam”). Intoxicated by desire, reason succumbs.

The purpose of placing the story “In the beginning” is to state that our origin as souls is pure and free from gender identity and its related “good and evil” impulses. The purpose of having an Adam and an Eve as characters, personifications of humanity, is to contrast our mind with our heart and to imply that the distinction can be problematical when separated but blessed when united. Furthermore, the story belongs to each and every one of us as “the scales fall” when we reach puberty and begin to notice the other gender. Once, whether in time or in life, our reason and feeling faculties were One, innocent of distinctions, like children. Upon our adolescent awakening, our single eye (unaware of differences) divides into two physical eyes, seeing the differences, so to speak, when sexual impules are stimulated by changes in the body.

So here we have Valentine’s Day celebrating the unveiling of this knowledge into endless variations! Curiously, the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are not just monotheistic but patriarchal. Other faiths, including so-called “pagan” faiths, celebrate this everlasting play of male and female in the stories of the gods and goddesses and in human life. Matrimony only became a sacrament much later in Christian history, in the 12th century. It was justified as being a symbol and a reminder of the union of Christ with his church as his mystical body. It was thus not a celebration unto itself.

In the Old and New Testaments, it is stated that the basic teaching there is that we should “love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.” And the second part is “like unto the first: Thou shalt love thy neighbor AS thyself.” Thus, the impulse here of human love is first re-directed toward God and then expanded into impersonal or equal love for all. (No mention, that is, of romantic love.)

How far we have come! Gay, trans, pan, poly and every possible variation. Like those temples in India with erotic sculptures, our culture, too, is in the midst of an orgy of sexual and romantic adventurism.

So, how do we reconcile these seemingly conflicting points of view? Perhaps it's less of a reconciliation (which suggests equality) and more of a progression, a direction. At the heart of the issue there is an existential element: do we worship the adventure and play of the creation for what we can enjoy in it and get from it, or, do we see the One, the Divine, playing through the many, playing all the parts and in each part revealing aspects of the One? Might the former evolve into the latter? Or, is it safer to turn away from the creation altogether and focus on God alone?

Just now I read on Facebook that yet another of the young Ananda monks has bit the dust, or is the apple? (He didn’t say. He just said he’s no longer a monk but we usually know what that means or at least where it leads.) As I grew toward adulthood in the 1960’s I observed what probably was in the cumulative was thousands of nuns, priests, and monks leave their vocation only soon enough to become wed.

How can we love someone we have never met? God, for example! Just as Darwinists speak of the evolution of species, so too in any given human life we might find that romantic love leads to family love, which expands over the years to include service to a larger community and a deepening of the friendship between the two who started adult life together in marriage. This is the progression that is easily observable though of course not universally true.

What is meant by “all is fair in love” is mostly the simple fact that once the heart’s feelings are aroused (whether romantically, sexually, or both) there’s very little one can do to stop the emotion from its natural course (even if that ultimately means being thwarted for unrequited love is a staple of life and drama).

From the New Testament: Luke: 7: 36-50

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.

37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?

50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

You see, even on a human level, love, as it is perfected, goes from self-satisfying to self-giving. This is both the natural and the soul (sole) purpose of the attraction, whether romantic or otherwise. We are compelled by romantic or sexual impulses, and compelled by biological ones (re children, siblings or parents) but with a friend, we have what, in principle at least is the purest form of friendship: given without compulsion but on mutual affinity and recognition.

There’s another side to the Adam and Eve story. It is the teaching that each of us, as a soul, has a soul-mate. Yogananda acknowledged this teaching but did not give it much emphasis because the human interest in romance is so deeply embedded that he didn’t want his teaching to be twisted into a love-cult, so to speak. Besides, the soul is neither male nor female. Thus, one’s soul-mate is inherently free from gender compulsions or attributes. Think of soul qualities, rather than human differences. A soul that inclines to go more by thought might be best mated by a soul that goes more by feeling. The existence of soul-mates is said to take place at the beginning of creation when the one soul is divided into two. The temptation to say this is male and female is almost overwhelming but it is not what Yogananda taught. It is in this that we can see Adam and Eve as reason and feeling and the serpent and apple as relating to each person internally, not externally, in male and female forms. But their story would have been a lot less interesting if it were devoid of that “which makes the world go ‘round.”

Swami Kriyananda described divine love as bliss in motion; or bliss in relationship; or in creation. Bliss is One; Love is two.

When Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, is asked whether it is best to seek God as the Absolute (as One) or in the I-Thou relationship, Krishna replied unequivocally that for “embodied beings” the I-Thou relationship was easier, meaning more natural. Yogananda worshipped God in the feminine form, in his life, as Goddess Kali. This is NOT the worship of the creation for itself or its gifts but the worship of God AS the creation, donning the mask, as it were: neither denying God's handiwork nor, being fooled by it.

Yogananda frequently made the point that while God IS and HAS all things, He does not have our love (attention, interest and seeking) unless we offer it to Him. “Love—the tie that binds”—is the one thing missing. And as the woman of many sins was forgiven for she loved much, so too it is axiomatic that love for God is perhaps the quickest way to soul freedom. But, it is also NOT as easy as it sounds. As I wrote earlier, how can we truly love someone we have never met? And distracted by our need to love and be loved, it is far easier to fall in love with the face in front of us (like Queen Titania in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream")! [Why do we say "fall" in love? Adam and Eve "fell" too.]

Swami Kriyananda taught us that in India couples are instructed to see in one another the Divine enshrined in one another’s forms: the Infinite Spirit or the Divine Mother. Thus, it is the divine way that human love is intended to become ever purer, ever more expansive until it becomes the pure love of God.

On that journey and with that intention, “All is fair!”

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Swami Hrimananda

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Who am I? What is the Universal Religion, the Perennial Philosophy?

Today I fielded this question from a Hindu in the United States:

"I have read from many sources, that Hinduism or originally known as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal way is non-sectarian, and can be applicable to anyone regardless of religion or race. I am Hindu, but don’t understand how the Bhagavad Gita for instance is non-sectarian, as Lord Krishna Himself says he is the Supreme God. I don’t see how a Christian/Muslim would be able to agree? Some of the teachings are universal, but many other religions do not believe in reincarnation either. Please clarify."

Dear Friend,


Paramhansa Yogananda made a distinction between "churchianity" and true religion (or "Sanatan Dharma"). Specific to the example of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita that you mention, the same use of the personal pronoun "I" is found in the Bible as spoken by Jesus Christ. Thus, one has to step back from such statements to understand the broader context of what and who is this "I." 

The famous "Tat twam asi" ("Thou art that" or "Aham Brahamasi" I am Brahma) and similar statements from the very ancient texts of the Vedas and Upanishads hold the key to the underlying revelation of Advaita Vedanta. This refers to the teaching that underlies the form-centric expression of truth as manifested in formal sects or religions. It states that the only truth or reality out of which all diversity and creation comes and which sustains and unites all visible and invisible things is the One: the Infinite Spirit.

The One has divided Itself into three: the "Father" (Sat) beyond creation and untouched by the creation; the "Son" (Tat) invisibly immanent in every atom and every thought as the Intelligence and Feeling which animates all; and, the Holy Spirit (Aum), the Divine Mother in the primordial form of the Aum vibration which is the "stuff" of multiplicity, name and form.

This teaching of Oneness can be perceived as the basis for Hinduism (Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism) by fairly easy investigation; for Christianity and the Abrahamic faiths with a bit more investigation. When Jesus was criticized for saying "I and my Father are One" his response was to quote the Old Testament of the Bible, saying "Do not your scriptures say 'Ye are gods?'"

In Judaism is the famous mantra, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!" Jesus' beloved disciple, John, wrote "To as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God."

Indeed, this was the core mission of Paramhansa Yogananda which he described as the Second Coming of Christ: uniting the original teachings of both Krishna and Jesus Christ. Yogananda focused specifically on the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament to illustrate this teaching but this focus is easily expanded into other scriptural texts and religions.

At the heart of divine revelation is the question (and the answer to) "Who am I?" Jesus asked his disciples this very same question as Krishna answers it in the Gita when he gives to his disciple, Arjuna, an experience of his cosmic Self. This experience shows that the man Krishna is not the true self but is an incarnation of the Infinite Spirit of all creation and who appears in the consciousness and form of Krishna. This appearance, or avatara, does not purport to limit the Infinite (a contradiction in terms) but is intended to show Tat twam asi. ("Thou art THAT")

Your question is not unlike the question "Is my cup half full, or, half-empty?" One inclined toward dogma and a sectarian attitude sees the half-empty cup that limits God or truth to their own faith. One inclined toward inclusion sees the cup as half-full, inclined toward universality.

The time for knowing the "truth that can make us free" (that is, bring healing and acceptance to the world's religions) has come, Yogananda pronounced (as have countless other hearts and minds).

Part of the conundrum in the history of religion as we perceive it is that the teaching that we, too, are "THAT" finds practical expression in the appearance of the "avatar:" one who HAS ACHIEVED the state of Self-realization. This teaching would not be real if there were never any person who embodied this realization! Moreover, to make matters a bit more complex, to achieve such a state cannot be done (by definition) by the imprisoned self. A savior, or true (sat) guru, is needed to unlock the soul from the prison of ego-identity. So naturally, a Krishna or Christ, taking human form, becomes the object of worship and is treated as separate when the core teaching is WE ARE ONE! (Sigh)

Such is the paradox of duality, you see. We are not ONE until we are ONE. I hope this explanation is not too mental or esoteric. 

We need to walk our path with integrity. Jesus repeatedly used the expression (connected to certain statements of deep truth) "for those with ears (or eyes) to hear (or see)." We recognize truth; we don't create it. So you and I, also, must walk step by step towards our spiritual unfoldment: both watching our step (meaning not go beyond our own experience of what seems true to us) and at the same time keeping our gaze focused on the horizon of Eternity beyond name and form. So take from this what feeds your soul and let go of the rest for perhaps another time.

Blessings to you on your journey on the greatest adventure this is!

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA

Saturday, January 23, 2021

In Praise of a New President - The Infinite Light Shineth in Darkness

 


This last week the nation breathed a sigh of relief for what seemed to be the end of a nightmare. I don’t mean this to be as political as it may sound, for I am relating to the presidential inauguration in the context of our reading today (Sunday, Jan 23, 2021): the Infinite Christ.**

The drama of the history and karma of nations must go its own way. Those who seem to be leaders are largely but puppets or at least manifestations of the greater dramas taking place. (On the basis of this intuitive truth arises many an imagined conspiracy theory.) Political leaders, as well as you and I, can either cooperate with higher guidance or succumb to lower impulses, but for all of us the forces that influence and propel us exceed the power of anyone’s conscious mind unless such be a divine incarnation. We stand in the center between those influences with which we are in tune, even if those influences are at war with each other. But the influences remain independent of our cooperation and go their own way.

For example, what about those millions of indigenous or aboriginal peoples around the world whose cultures have been wiped out by the “conquistadores” of the modern age? Were all of those cultures so “bad” that they deserved annihilation? How could that possibly be? Like a fungus that wipes out a species of tree or the meteor the dinosaurs, their destruction is impersonal. But in the case of genocide, “woe to them that are the agents of destruction” for they shall reap some, but not all, of the karma for their participation in the suffering of others. But be not deceived, however, for the forces in motion were already present requiring only the assistance of those who would respond to their invitation. 

So you see, there are the impersonal forces of creation and destruction but then there are our personal choices to accept their influence.

I say the nation has breathed a sign of relief because, if nothing else, the leader of the nation has re-affirmed the truth principles upon which “we stand.” For my purposes, and for all the difference it might make or not to the outcome of our nation’s history, the first thing in an act of creation is consciousness, intention, and the degree of alignment with the highest truth towards which we can imagine. Actions are always going to be circumscribed by the nature of duality; they will always be only relative good or relatively bad. Out of compassion, the government might pass legislation to feed the poor but there will be some for whom being fed excuses the need to feed themselves! And on and on. You can’t win this game on an absolute basis.

Language can clarify but also obfuscate. Good and evil are not the same as darkness and light though in casual speech we don’t differentiate. Good and evil, pleasure and pain are necessary attributes of the duality that keeps the creation moving and continuing. But darkness is a progressive diminution of the divine light which is the central and eternal reality of creation. One without a second. But as awareness fades with its increasing identification with matter, name, and form, so does its awareness of its own central reality as light. In the presence of light, darkness simply “misses the point” and cannot comprehend the existence and meaning of Light. Darkness is the absence of light; not the opposite! The light is always there, shining in the darkness.

That’s what today’s reading is about. The “Proud Boys” cannot see (meaning acknowledge) the pain of those whose lives were trumped by a privileged race while their own pain at the loss of their way of life is invisible to those who either never had one or those who have embraced change and prospered.

But the Light is always there. The darkness vanishes as if it had never been when we comprehend its presence. All we have to do is “improve our knowing.” Paramhansa Yogananda describes “Self-realization [as] the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.”

Unlike turning on the light switch in a darkened room whereby the darkness instantly vanishes, the Light of higher consciousness is more likely to grow gradually, more like the spreading light of dawn from which the stars of material desire may, at first, flee and slowly fade away. There are, however, some stars that are the last to disappear and others that can even be seen even in daylight.

If you run over someone with your car, your punishment will be much greater if you intended it than if it was an accident. The intention, in other words, makes a difference to you as the Doer though not to the one who was “done-in.” If the victim of your inattentive driving was killed, your remorse cannot bring him to life, nor assuage the grief, anger and demands for compensation from his family. You, too, will suffer certain consequences but the accidental nature of your acts lifts those consequences far above those of murderous intent.

The son of a dear friend did precisely this: he killed someone through negligent driving while under the influence. He went to prison. The family of the victim was outraged as well as grief-stricken. A young person’s life, filled with promise was snuffed out in an instant. But the prison experience has changed the life of our friend’s son dramatically for the better. Though always a kind and sensitive soul, his young adult years were lost in dreams and fantasy until his action and consequent imprisonment woke him up to become an adult. The victim paid a high price, to be sure, but it is our sincere hope that the son, still young, will be energized to do good in the world if for no other reason than to pay tribute to the loss of life of the other.

In the Bible, in the gospel of John, he describes John the Baptist as “not that light but was sent to bear witness of that light.” We are like John the Baptist: we have come to bear witness, to reflect, to affirm, and to live ever more fully in that Light. Like John the Baptist, we “baptize” our consciousness with only the water of our efforts while God in the form of the guru bathes us in the “living water” of redeeming grace. Both are needed.

And what is this Light? While in meditation and in higher states of consciousness we can perceive that invisible subtle light out which comes the electrical forces from which arise material objects, but the essence of even that Light is consciousness. This is why so much is made of mind-full-ness. The more self-aware we are; the more conscious we are of ourselves and the needs of others, the more that Light grows.

The experience of the inner light energizes and validates the outward expansion of our sympathies just as, in turn, expansion of our sympathies attunes our consciousness to the inner light, should we seek it in meditation. It has other manifestations, however: including the one we speak of the most: Joy!

A life of expanded awareness necessarily brings greater satisfaction even if the price of that is the burden we feel for the suffering of others. This is the dichotomy inherent in the dual nature of the outer world. This is why we need the validation of the inner world to remain strong and not suffer the defeat of our high ideals by the world around us. “The poor ye shall have always but me ye have not always.” Duality will always exist but the "Me" of the divine light should be sought above all.

An experience of transcendence—the light of the soul whether experienced as joy, freedom from egoity and pain, love without conditions, or inner peace—is one that “ye have not always.” Thus we are encouraged to meditate and pray daily to contact that Me, that Thee, that I AM which is the “light of men.” The price of spiritual awakening is that we see, and in time, carry the cross of the sins of the world which rejects the light uncomprehendingly. By this I mean we work to help others in whatever way is ours to do, seen or unseen by others. The "cross" is only that challenge to the ego to soldier on in spiritual practices, attitudes, and actions towards purification and transcendence. 

It is this that shines in the uncomprehending darkness of restlessness and at the center of the sway of maya--the play of opposites. Think of the thousands who came to hear Yogananda speak. The New Testament says in at least two places that five to seven thousand people came to hear Jesus. Perhaps their souls were “stirred but not shaken” sufficiently to stay awake.

And thus it is that a living Christ in human form—Jesus Christ, Babaji, Krishna, etc. etc.—is in the world, and the Christ consciousness with which his soul is identified was the maker of the world, but the world “knows him not” as he really is. So, we, also do not know who we really are. “It takes one to know one!” as the boys of my age used to say on the playground.

Those who lived with and around Yogananda, for example, varied to the degree they could recognize the awakened Christ consciousness in that form. Idolatry of form is the bane of human life and of religion, generally, but it is better to embrace a living deity than give a yawn as he talks to you. One can hardly blame devotees for insisting that their guru is God, just as in the amusing story we heard today in the reading.** For every devotee who sees God only in their beloved savior, there are a thousand others who aren’t even interested. There are, in other words, worse errors to make.

To see divinity in human form is to have had some intuitive recognition of divinity in one’s own form. I recall as a boy I would volunteer once a week to be an altar boy at an early morning mass at a monastery of cloistered nuns. One particular morning as I knelt during the mass, the sun rose and poured through the stained glass window just above the altar. It suffused my being with such intensity of light and joy that I nearly forgot to ring the little bell at the Eucharist. The experience has stayed with me always though at the time I had no vocabulary, no understanding of its significance or of its invitation to seek it repeatedly within. The general church teaching was that such “consolations” are the grace of God and are not to be sought. There’s some value to this counsel "lest we boast" but it is an incomplete teaching for we should “love the Lord our God with heart, mind soul and strength. Meditation and practices like Kriya Yoga have been given to us as a means to do our part to invite the divine light to dwell within us.

Last Fall when, after moving from one apartment to our present one, my back started to trouble me and I ended up with a bulging disk. Thanks to repeated sessions with Peony Lee I am here to say I now remember what “normal health” is like. But during the worst of it, I could not imagine another reality except pain, sleeplessness, and immobility. At the time I dreaded going to bed for the nightmare would begin once the activities of the day could no longer distract me. Now, however, I have to think back to remember what it was like. When you suddenly remember where you left your wallet or keys, it’s like the anxiety and fillibuster around their whereabouts vanishes like the darkness at the flick of the light switch. Pain or forgetfulness simply disappears as though they never existed.

And so it is when, like “a thief in the night” the Light of God steals upon our hearts. But like the ever-watchful virgins awaiting the Cosmic bridegroom, we must keep the oil of our devotion and wakefulness alive and vital.

I rejoiced, then, to hear our newly elected President re-affirm the precepts of equality, respect, truth, and inclusiveness that soul qualities even if, at the same time, we know that in this world of troubles these ideals can never be perfectly manifested.

Life will always present us with trials but Hope for a Better World, Ananda’s theme for the year 2021, is more than optimism that humanity will find solutions to the pressing issues of our times. It is Hope for A Better World based on the awakening of higher awareness in the consciousness of humanity at large. Consciousness directs energy and energy guides action. This Light shines in the darkness of our present state of polarization but we need only to look up to receive its guidance! It is our souls that are in bondage, not the world we live in. It will remain in duality but we can be free--even now!

Joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda!

Our prayer at Ananda is taken from one of Paramhansa Yogananda’s prayer-demands and should you wish to join us in its daily repetition goes like this:

“Lord, fill this world with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.” (repeat 10 tens)

“Lord fill ME with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.” (repeat 3 times)

(If possible repeat the prayer five times each day)

** The reading at the Sunday Service is Week 4 - The Infinite Christ from the book "Rays of the One Light," by Swami Kriyananda based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Available at www.CrystalClarity.com 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Meditation Tips: Overcoming Subconscious Images and Influence


A question came in today and it went like this: "Recently when I meditate, I visualize graphic content where I have to shake my head to snap out of it. I feel these visions are coming up from previous jobs and/or lives, bringing up anger and distrust in humanity. This is very unsettling. I understand it is coming up for me to process suppresse​​d emotions, yet it effects how I relate to others. How can I overcome this? 

 Dear Friend,

The intrusion of subconscious images and memories is one of the side effects of meditation. One's meditation technique and motivation for meditation play key roles in the influence of the subconscious on our meditation. 

There are several aspects of what you are reporting and they come from different approaches. Let me list some of them:
  1. There is value in the instruction that responds to these images with the guidance that says to us: "When negative images appear in the mind, do not react: do not suppress them; simply observe them with a calm, steady mind until they dissolve like fog under the noonday sun." This instruction can be related to Patanjali's second sutra "Yogas chitta vritti nirodha" (The state of yoga comes when the mental and emotional reactive processes are stilled.) This practice requires the ability to concentrate deeply without emotional response. Accordingly, this approach DOES NOT always work when the images are overpowering. This is the stoic, or gyanic, approach.
  2. Energy control (karma yoga). This approach, based on raja yoga, encourages the meditator to raise the prana/energy to the higher chakras and thus bypass or lessen the influence of the memories stored in the lower chakras. This approach instructs the meditator to anchor the attention at the point between the eyebrows AND to awaken the natural love of the heart in order to raise that feeling upward to the Kutastha (point between the eyebrows). Then, when and if negative images appear to the mind, simply hold steady with one's attention at the spiritual eye reinforced by devotional pulsations from the heart center upward. Here, too, however, it is important to stay calm and centered in the spine. The more one reacts emotionally to such images the less control one will have in facing them or transcending them.
  3. Bhakti. The devotional path is greatly helped by the suggestions above but for some people devotion (alone) is their Ishta Devata, or Chintamani. Accompanied by prayer or mantra and offered upward from the heart, devotional fervor, the grace of the Mother, can dispel the gloom of past lives, all of which, Swami Sri Yukteswar explains, are "dark with shame." 
  4. General. Transcending the past, the hidden subconscious memories, should never be a process of denial or suppression. ("Of what avail," Krishna asks, "is suppression!") At the same time, their stored up energy exists and can be best countered by putting out conscious, intentional and present-tense energy upward toward the seat of the soul (crown chakra--approached via the point between the eyebrows). A practical view of this is to suggest a multi-level approach to your sadhana: yoga exercises (or Energization Exercises taught by Yogananda--see YouTube or the Ananda meditation app); prayer including healing prayers for others; mantra and chanting; breath control (pranayama); and silent, inner communion. Supporting sadhana can be daily service in the spirit of nishkam karma (non-attachment), spiritual reading and study, satsang with other devotees, seeking the company of saints, pilgrimage to places made holy by the presence of saints and masters, and living according to the precepts of yama/niyama. 
Lastly, the only reality is here and NOW. Calmly dismiss images from the past as easily as you would turn off the tele-vision like a rerun of an old sitcom or Bollywood movie. Respond to these with dis-interest! You can even address them like old friends from whose company you have decided to depart. "Oh, you again! Hey, sorry, I'm just NOT interested, thanks for the visit but I've got more important things to do." What did Swami Sri Yukteswar say about the time, as a child, that his mother tried to scare him by saying "There's a ghost in the closet"? He marched over to the closet; opened the doors; and guess what? NO GHOST. He concluded the story with the lesson: "Stare fear in the face and it will vanish."

OK? I've given you lots to "chew on!" Bite it off and chew it! (As Paramhansa Yogananda would say).

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA

Saturday, December 26, 2020

What is the quickest way to Self-realization? Self-inquiry?

A friends writes and asks:

what is the quickest way to self-realization? is it self inquiry? 

Dear Friend!


That's what my generation used to call the "$64,000 question!" (From a 1960's game show, I think). Or, surely you've heard the Roman idiom: "All roads lead to Rome!"

Well, you ARE asking a good and valid question. Paramhansa Yogananda came to the US in 1920 (died in 1952) and brought the advanced meditation technique which he called simply: Kriya Yoga. He described the kriya technique as "the airplane route to God" in contradistinction to what he called (drawing upon his Indian heritage): "the bullock cart route!"

But speaking of transportation methods and roads that lead to "Rome," it is also true that not only do all true spiritual paths and techniques lead to the same goal but even in life itself "the dice are loaded." So I could respond by saying, "There is no one path that is best. It depends on what inspires YOU to dedicate yourself to it!"

"Self-inquiry" is a term used in the tradition that is sometimes called Gyana Yoga. I myself am a big fan of Ramana Maharshi (I recently visited his ashram in India for the second time). RM's reply to your question would indeed be "Self-inquiry." But he too taught that one should employ whatever approach suits one's temperament, karma, and spiritual needs. "Self-inquiry" is an introspective approach. RM did not actually teach meditation techniques as such. A true non-dualist wouldn't even practice meditation nor give his body any attention. (RM went through a stage early in life where he would only eat what was fed to him and he sat in a dark and dank basement, eaten up by insects but without noticing it.) But his life, and the approach he represents, presupposes a relatively high level of mental focus and power. The "gyanic" approach is wonderful and I embrace it also, but by itself it tends to be inadequate for modern life because few people are truly mindful, that is, few have even the semblance of control of their thoughts. (Memory and concentration are big issues in today's digital culture.)

However, you have asked this question and you have asked it of us, at Ananda. And, our response, to be responsible (pun intended), is to say that our founder, Swami Kriyananda (personally trained by Yogananda), felt that Yogananda was the avatar of this new age, just as Jesus Christ was the avatar of the first two millennia in the West. While this is not a dogma, it is a belief or feeling. And why? Well, a few points for you to consider (on the topic of the efficacy of what Yogananda brought: Kriya Yoga):

  1. The Kriya technique was given to Lahiri Mahasaya by Babaji in 1861 to be revived from centuries of priestly secrecy and human indifference. Essential to the teachings of this lineage (Babaji/Lahiri Mahasaya/Swami Sri Yukteswar/Paramhansa Yogananda) is that planet Earth and humanity have ascended into the second (of four) ages (called Dwapara). 
  2. Ours is an age of discovery of finer matters and electricities; technology; travel; communication. 
  3. Religious dogmas, rituals, and sectarianism will gradually be replaced by a deeper understanding that each true faith tradition represents a call to go within and to seek and know God within you (and from that experience, therefore, within all creation). Yogananda said that in this age of another at least 2000 years, the concept and motive of Self-realization will be the dominant motivation of spiritual seekers no matter what faith tradition they embrace.
  4. The essence of God-contact within comes, then, from meditation. Kriya Yoga, more than physical (hatha) yoga, or breathing exercises, works with and towards the subtle, astral body's energies to life our consciousness towards divine states wherein the Self can be realized.
  5. The practice of Kriya doesn't, itself, require or prevent outward religious affiliation. It is given, however, in the context or relationship of discipleship to the lineage from whom it is received. But this doesn't necessarily prevent continued participation in one's cultural or given religion. The disciple-guru relationship can be seen, in our age (Dwapara), more like one's personal teacher. (Like Jesus, great saints lived centuries after Jesus' physical incarnation. Why? Because an ascended master is not barred by the lack of a physical form.) For Christians, Jesus is considered in this lineage, but for those in other faith traditions, they can continue to honor and practice their faith while having, in private so to speak, their kriya and kriya masters. One with no faith tradition but with sincere dedication to know the Self, Kriya is surely supreme! (There is a sentence in the "Autobiography of a Yogi" that says "Through the use of the Kriya key, persons who cannot bring themselves to believe in the divinity of any man will behold at last the full divinity of their own selves.")
You can find and read the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI online for free (www.Ananda.org). Read Chapter 26, Kriya Yoga, to learn more about it. But I would remiss in not sharing my own life's experience in urging you to investigate Kriya Yoga as "the airplane route" to Self-realization in this age.

Blessings to you on your journey,

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Racism & Violence: A Statement


Acts of Violence & Racism: How Should We Respond?

The members, staff, students and friends of Ananda share in the sadness and righteous outrage of yet another racially motivated murder. How can we not, both as people and as an organization that seeks to represent universal spiritual values, wonder “How long must this continue?” Our very teachings aver that we are all children of God and that behind the appearance of our separateness lays the one divine heart. The teaching of ancient India is that “We are THAT”— Tat twam asi — the Infinite Spirit made manifest. How then can racial distinctions be other than superficial?

Society’s awareness of and intolerance of such acts of violence is growing. As with the original movement of “Black Lives Matter” or the “Me Too” movement, the outrage felt by sensitive souls reflects a growing compassion even as it expresses moral outrage. There is reason for cautious optimism that attitudes and behavior are changing; they MUST change.

How, then, to respond? Anger does not quell anger. “Eye for an eye” leaves us all blind. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. died defending the principle of non-violence, non-hatred, and non-anger responses to prejudice and violence as expressions of our oneness in God’s love. Their unearned sacrifices bestowed great blessings on humanity.

We express our heartfelt compassion—our hearts ache for those abused and mistreated—and we stand by them in solidarity as the world cries out ENOUGH, let's all work together to put this old hatred and distrust behind us.

It is important, however, not to be drawn into fear or anger or any other form of negativity by the delusive power of mass consciousness. Those who wish to express their righteous indignation should do what they feel to do but when we lose our own equilibrium, our own inner peace, then we too have been infected by the virus of negativity. The best thing most of us can do is to direct our sympathy, compassion and prayers towards those who need it the most.

The stress of isolation, fear and suffering from the pandemic, and hardship and fear surrounding our economic future are already enough to trigger emotions out of proportion. Remaining, therefore, calm and even-minded is vital at this time. This is something each of us can do to help.

Lasting change in human behavior comes from an awakening of consciousness: seeing life through the eyes of another; seeing in others, our very Self. Meditation, yoga, and spiritual community are Ananda’s focus and these are by no means an insignificant contribution to positive change.

Those great spiritual teachers who have inspired the worldwide work of Ananda demonstrated in their own lives the courage to accept all who were sincere, regardless of their social status, often enduring the taunts of their society. The true races of humanity are based not on color, status or culture but in consciousness. So let us strive to uplift our own and others’ consciousness in compassion, service, and devotion.

additional thoughts beyond the statement above:

What can I do? Simple: be the change you seek! What is needed to combat racism is more than legislation, education, and other important opportunities. It is a change of heart; a change of consciousness. Ananda's worldwide effort to establish intentional spiritual communities that bring together all of who are sincere in their commitment to live by high ideals and to live cooperatively, harmoniously, and sustainably is perhaps the most important contribution to serving by example as well as precept.

Meditation offers the single most universal, nonsectarian daily practice that can change the world for the better. And it doesn't take 100%. 1% to 10% would do it.

Nonetheless, be prepared for increased unrest worldwide; increased risks for many challenging things from weather to war to depression. Thus the need for communities, virtual or residential, of high-minded, self-sacrificing Warriors of Light. 

You cannot do it by yourself. Post on Facebook or carry a sign on a corner if you like but BE the PEACE that is within you and SHARE with all even when you are in difficult straights. This is not your world. We are here but briefly. Let's make it better by being better. Beyond that it will continue in its own way just as it did before you arrived and as it will after you leave. 

We need perspective; we need inner peace; we need joy in our hearts. Pray, meditate, serve. Lastly, resist mass consciousness by staying centered in your Self. What is yours to do will be revealed minute by minute.

Blessings to you!

Swami Hrimananda