Showing posts with label peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peace. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

May Justice Roll Down like Waters : a new era has begun

Visit my new blog inspired by the Autobiography of a Yogi and find there inspiration and courage for the years to come as our world and our nation struggles against the rising tide of conflict and rebellion.

Here's the link:

Swami Hrimananda

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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Are You Too Sensitive? Do Yogis have Moods? BOTH-AND is the Path of Yoga!

Today at the Mother's Day Service at Ananda Meditation Temple in Bothell, Padma, my wife, spoke on the subject (from the reading for the week) of Martha and Mary (from the New Testament).

Martha and her sister Mary are the hosts for Jesus who is visiting their home. I believe they might have been cousins, actually. Their brother is the famous Lazarus who, later and towards the end of Jesus' life, was raised from the dead in a rather dramatic scene. So Lazarus was probably also in the room. It seems the occasion was what we might call a "satsang:" an informal gathering of people at someone's home around their spiritual teacher. Most likely Jesus was giving an informal discourse; perhaps he was answering questions. I imagine that the house was somewhat small and the number of people there was limited to the family and Jesus' entourage of twelve plus disciples (including perhaps Mary Magdalene and/or Jesus' mother, Mary).

Martha, however, is busy in the kitchen, making supper. She's fussing, banging pots around (I would guess) and all hot and bothered. Her sister, Mary, on the other hand, is in the living room sitting peacefully on the floor (we imagine) at the feet of her teacher, Jesus.

No doubt in a bit of snit and in a mood, Martha, comes into the room and, perhaps even interrupting, asks Jesus to send her sister, Mary, to help her in the kitchen. Jesus responds, in front of everyone (demonstrating the intimacy of the gathering), by gently upbraiding Martha for losing her inner peace even while engaged in worthy service, saying that Mary had taken the "better part" by tuning into his spiritual vibrations and teachings. (In the Sunday reading, written by our teacher, Swami Kriyananda--a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda--it is explained that the issue is not what it appears to be: whether serving is better than meditating. Rather, it is not WHAT you do but HOW--with what attitude and consciousness--you do it!)

Padma used the story to illustrate the challenge devotees have in allowing moods to overtake us.

Padma also recalled Swami Kriyananda's story (which he writes in his own life story, "The New Path") where he had gotten into a mood and how, upon encountering his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, Yogananda snapped the young "Walter" (Swami Kriyananda) out of it and added, "No more moods now, Walter. How are you to serve others?"

Thoughts being "universally, not individually, rooted," it just so happened that last night, while Padma was preparing her talk, I was drafting this article on moods and over sensitivity among yogi-meditators. I hadn't even considered the reading about Martha and Mary that Padma was to speak on.

So a felicitous coincidence, I suppose.........Yogananda taught that moodiness, whether habitual, or simply a periodic episode, has its roots in past sense over-indulgence. But I have another kind of moodiness in mind tonight.

What about those well meaning people who find that their sensitivity to the sufferings of others upsets their own peace of mind? I mean, think about it: meditation is supposed to make you peaceful, right? As your inner peace gives rise to an expanding love and compassion for others you might find that your sympathy for their troubles causes you to lose your peace of mind! Selfish people, at least, are not bothered by other people's trouble! You'd think THEY were more peaceful! Well, then, hmmmmm....we have a dilemma, don't we?

I see two things taking place: the initial stage of the spiritual path, and a longer-term tendency among spiritual seekers.

When, in the beginning of one's spiritual efforts, the hard shell of ego begins to break and fall away, the heart opens and expands. During this initial stage of awakening a person can be somewhat vulnerable.

It's not uncommon to find "young" yogis suddenly falling in love with someone, engaging in excessive yoga practice, trumpeting dogmatic diets or long fasts, and any number of tangents caused by the awakening of uncontrolled creative energy not yet accustomed to remaining upwardly focused on divine love, selfless service, ego transcendence or the wisdom of superconsciousness!

Newly minted devotees, previously inured by the protective shell of ego indifference or self-absorption, find that their increased awareness and empathy can make them emotionally or psychically vulnerable to the vast amount of suffering of others.

But more than a temporary phase is the issue. For at each stage of spiritual growth we must walk the tightrope line between wisdom and love. Yet there is, however, a "left-leaning" inclination in spirituality that naturally feels the pangs of suffering of others. Under this influence, wisdom is challenged to know the boundaries of what is ours and what is not ours.

Even in the stories of saints working miracles of healing, you don't find that they heal thousands. Only a few in number are blessed in this way. Saints have the innate wisdom and divine guidance (and the spiritual power) to know how and who to heal.

Swami Kriyananda quoted his guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, who, when in a state of impersonal wisdom and uplifted vision, described seeing God "eating people." Images of god and goddesses dealing death and destruction are more or less commonplace in the East.

In the ancient teaching of duality, we are taught that death and destruction, evil and suffering, are the necessary counterpoint to goodness and virtue. Both are needed to keep the play of creation interesting and varied. Otherwise, it is said, we might discover too soon the secret behind it all: that it is all God, and God alone; God, the Creator, dreaming the drama of creation. When we unmask the divinity behind the creative play of light and dark, we begin the journey (like the Prodigal Son) to our home in God.

Some might recoil from this truth teaching as too severe and heartless. And, indeed, for the human heart, in many ways, it is difficult to accept. Thus most spiritually minded people incline to virtue and goodness, expressing sympathy and compassion, but stopping far short of transcendence of the sway of good and evil, of maya, the satanic force.

But in a world that has never known anything but a mix of good and evil, we would do well to attune ourselves to God's ways which are not "our ways." The law of karma rules the created universe and though there are subtler aspects to it, such as the redemptive power of divine love, the law of karma is exacting.

One sees in the lives of the saints (think Jesus on the cross, for starters) a courageous, positive, and bold acceptance of life's dualities, especially the less pleasant ones. Indeed, the middle path of even-mindedness is the very definition of the path to soul freedom given to us by Patanjali in the second stanza of his famous "Yoga Sutras."

It is the same truth discovered by Buddha under the Bodhi Tree. It is the unmasking of this Truth that sows the initial seed of faith that, as it grows, achieves ever-greater gnosis, faith, that behind the play of good and evil is the absolute good of God. The hand of goodness guides the great drama of creation towards the release of individual souls from the bondage of desire, ignorance, and suffering born of mistaken identity. Through the God-given law of karma and the gift of reason and intuition, stirred by the teaching and spiritual vibrations of God-realized preceptors, souls begin to awaken to the "truth that can make you free."

Thus, my real point here today is that a yogi (a meditator) should learn to balance sympathy and love with wisdom and faith. A proverbial BOTH-AND assignment! To achieve infinite consciousness is to absorb good and evil, dark and light into One unchanging and eternal state of Bliss.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people but these bad things can be the means through which their own past karma is erased or balanced. Or, it becomes an opportunity for them to practice non-attachment, acceptance, courage, or faith. Or, in the case of more spiritually advanced souls, their troubles become a vehicle by which they can even take on the karma of others. It is difficult to know the inexplicable workings of karma.

We don't start, however, by practicing non-attachment or pretending wisdom in respect to the troubles of others, especially those for whom we are able to assist in some way. We do this, instead, by developing non-attachment to our own desires, our moods, and our likes and dislikes. This can include our moods or sadness as a reaction to the troubles of others (especially when in lieu of helping, comforting, encouraging, or praying for them!)

For ourselves, then, when cold, don't complain; remain calm and endure it, at least for a little while, before calmly putting on a coat or turning up the heat. Accept, when you have no other choice, barbs of critique or less-than-tasty food with equanimity. See all day-to-day tests as coming from God as a way to purify your attachments. Start with the small things and work your way "up."

To the sensitive heart, the world's woes can crush all hope, all sense of divine mercy and justice, and the very incentive to seek God through wisdom and love. No doubt the ego or maya feels victorious when the devotee despairs or falls into moods, doubt or confusion.

Ironically, as the soul advances spiritually, the power to change outer circumstances and to help others (materially as well as spiritually) grows! This comes from letting divine power and energy flow through us rather than be pummeled by the ego's reaction to outward circumstances.

The young plant of spiritual awakening needs the protection of the company of like-minded and more seasoned devotees.

If you find, therefore, that you are "touchy" around what you hear (or believe) people say about you; or that the suffering of others crushes your equanimity and triggers moods and doubts, then it is time to emphasize wisdom and faith in God. Critique becomes an opportunity for self-reflection, perhaps for changing your ways, for forgiveness, and / or for even-mindedness. Sadness becomes an opportunity to be centered, even-minded, cheerful, and offering aid and help to others without regard to your own moods or sadness. Fear becomes an opportunity to affirm faith in God and courage of heart. You won't help anyone by being sad but by being calm, comforting, hopeful and even courageous. Work on yourself if you find you are too sensitive. Be like a doctor or nurse attending the needs of their patients with skill and equanimity.

Is it possible to feel both the suffering of another AND inner peace or joy? Yes, it is! And, without guilt! By meditation, especially, we know true joy as a living, divine presence. This inner joy can co-exist even when the outer surface of our mind and life is touched by sadness. We find that we can retain, in ourselves, a calm acceptance and joy. Yes: BOTH-AND is the way of the yogi.

Let our love and sympathy be practical and our response to it calm with inner eye of wisdom always scanning the horizon of intuition for guidance, acceptance, and practical compassion.

"I am strong in my Self; I am complete in my Self." The Self of self is the Self of all!

 Blessings to all in these "interesting" times. Be a peaceful warrior, not a peaceless worrier!

Nayaswami Hriman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

U-Kraine or My-Kraine? What is Right Action?

Russia's re-annexation of the Crimea has stirred up a lot of questions. Putin's counter denunciations of American unilateral actions throughout the world, including Kosovo, reflect their sense of national humiliation over the collapse of the Soviet empire. By all accounts, there are Russians both in Crimea and elsewhere who are proud and ecstatic about the peninsula rejoining "the motherland." Even Mikhail Gorbchev, architect of the Soviet dissolution, was quoted, applauding Russian retaking of Crimea! How differently we humans view what seems like the same circumstances.

Speaking of different views: you probably know that some people in the Middle East deny that the Holocaust ever took place! How many sincere Americans have questioned our own wars of intervention from Vietnam to Iraq, to name a few of our “adventures” into foreign countries. How about the 1950’s and the overthrow of an elected government in Iran favor of the installation of the Shah of Iran with covert CIA assistance (all for national security, of course!) How about American history in re slavery, racism, treatment of native tribes, and on and on? Is there anyone with clean hands?

On “the other hand,” are we Americans really just another chapter of the tale of humans grasping for power? Are we but the mirror image of the evil empire that fell after decades of the Cold War? We just happened to win that one?

What is true? Should the West do more than protest Russia’s unilateral action in Crimea? Should we do more than impose weak-willed, futile sanctions? Is this so wrong an evil that we should go to war? What if Texas wants to secede? Scotland? Northern California?

Abraham Lincoln fought to save the union in his conduct of the American Civil War. He was of course also against slavery. But initially his quest was simply to preserve the union: or, so, at least, he declared it to be, even if, as a consequence, slavery in the south was to be preserved as per the original Constitution. Whatever his thoughts on the matter, the question of a state or region's power to rise up and form its own nation is a darn good question. Some Southerners still fume about the whole thing.

I suppose, musing as much aloud to myself, that there ought to be a compelling moral or ethical reason for a state, province or some minority to secede. Secession must be a bit like disowning one's family to whom natural love and loyalty is otherwise owed. There would need to be, I believe, a case to make of mistreatment of one form or another to permit secession to occur. It shouldn't be merely be prejudice or selfishness in reverse---which, in a sense, the secession of the southern states of America essentially amounted to. What they saw as defense of their way of life was a commitment to the economic and social system of slavery. What they also sensed was the rising tide of northern industrialization that would, in time, eclipse the agrarian south for many decades to come--shifting money and power northward. Both reasons seem far too weak to bolster their case. Industrialization was a simple socio-economic fact for which no rebellion could have thwarted. Secession for this reason would have been futile anyway.

Ukraine, for all the outrage we might naturally feel here in the West, has suffered under its own leaders’ rampant corruption and mismanagement. I don't think I've heard the Russians of Crimea or even eastern Ukraine make accusations of mistreatment at the hands of Ukrainians. Their reasons for rejoining Russia are presumably more cultural and historical than economic or ethical. I am ill equipped to say anything intelligent or well-informed on that issue but I wonder, as many must surely also, what the right and moral response is to the annexation. Certainly wrist slapping sanctions are inevitable, politically, at least. Long term? Well, I can't imagine many Americans think it's worth WW 3!

Are we "just as bad" as the evil empire? Is it all merely a matter of perspective? Yes, and, well, No! Regardless of how poorly or well America may manifest the ideals on which our country was founded, those ideals stand emblazoned for the ages as the standard against which the body politic anywhere on this earth must be measured--including America.

But too many nations, newly formed since the end of WW2, are culturally and politically far, far away from being "in tune" with and ready to make the necessary personal sacrifices to manifest the ideals so eloquently put forth in the Declaration of Independence. How many former holdings of the colonial powers have made a tragic mess of their hard-won freedom?

With Indian independence in 1947 the slaughter was horrific. Genocide is still happening in Asia and Africa, e.g., and is too brutal for most of us to contemplate. Should the colonial powers have held on? Well, what difference does a question like that make at this late date? Conquest necessitates brutality and the imperial empires had run their course and suffered their own fate. The chaos that has resulted from the dissolution of those empires is evidently the price of freedom and the price is evidently very high. The American colonies paid a price for freedom, too.

Who would argue that America should have stayed out of WW 1? WW 2? Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan? Some would; most would not. Doesn't matter now....these things have their own course to run and there's no use in "crying over spilt milk." But, now, with Russia on the loose again? Should countries like America continue to be the world's police force? I say a resounding "Maybe!"

In fact what I feel is needed and is long, long overdue is a kind of "Cooperative Union" of nations of like mind. Not West vs East; not 1st world vs 2nd or 3rd world. But nations whose cultures and consciousness are forward looking, expansive and inclusive, and willing to work together for shared goals that express worthwhile human values and ideals. Is this just another form of interconnected treaties such as existed before WW 1?  I say “No,” because such an alliance would not be focused on mutual defense but would emphasizing mutual support and cooperation: culturally, economically, politically, and yes, if necessary, militarily.

How often has China and Russia defeated the legitimate role of the Security Council because, in essence, we don't share a mutual and cooperate set of ideals? I don't mind that such countries aren't ready for American-style democracy, but their own histories of ruthlessness towards their own people make our capitalistic excesses and self-interested maneuverings look like fist fights among school boys. We don't lack corruption and cronyism and there is much wrong with American life, culture and politics today, but there are certain values we share with other countries around the world (not just in Europe) that make for natural allies. Russia is simply not on our wavelength. Is China? That's more difficult to say because of the fast pace of change in what is generally a positive direction. But right now, my vote is NO.

I don't see how any culture or nation can join such a Cooperative Union if it doesn't possess some form of national transparency and accountability, a directional commitment to rule of law, and a culture working towards greater inclusiveness (within and without) and individual liberties. 

This union would not be allies AGAINST anyone, but constitute countries that can work together without having to deal with obstreperous nations constantly thwarting our efforts out of a lack of essential harmony and consciousness. A cooperative of nations could, then, more responsibly and ethically act from time to time to intercede in global hotspots for the protection and safety of innocent people. Doing so by common agreement would tend to mitigate too strong or too narrow a motivation of self-interest. Such a union would serve as a model and inspiration to other countries.

Well, that's my Sunday night two cents. I hope Ukraine will get their country back together but by golly they are going to have to work for it. They've lost something valuable and I suspect they lost it partly deserving it and partly because it is "in the stars" for Russia to flex its imperialistic muscles and revenge its humiliation. 

Is Russia a threat to peace-loving nations? Yes, no question about it. A friend of mine who has lived for periods of time in Russia told me a story I heard echoed in other forms about a man who was sent to Siberia under communism and to the end, however brutally treated he was, held Stalin in great esteem. Such is the blindness of human beings; such is the power of jingoism, like lemmings over a cliff. If Russians yearn still for empire and glory they happen to be about a century too late. It ain't gonna happen. They will be defeated if they really try to regain their lost empire and they will suffer even more than they have during this last century. It would trigger another world war and suffering would be worldwide but Russia would lose, I believe.

I hope this Crimea thing isn't like Hitler taking little bites of Europe and Lord Chamberlain declaring "peace at last" with each bite, but, we cannot really say for sure at this time, can we?

I don't mind whining a little bit about "Why help other nations who simply hate us?" Where is the boundary between helping and rescuing? We Americans are who we are and have done what we have done, but I think and hope America is learning some discernment, like wise parents eventually learn, that sometimes the kids have to get bruised and battered working through their own issues in order to grow up. We can't do it for them but we can stand ready to help if truly asked because we know that a rescue will merely “enable.”

Blessings to you on a fair Spring Equinox weekend where hope Springs Eternal and the promise of beauty and harmony, like a rainbow, shines before us.

Nayaswami Hriman

Monday, March 3, 2014

Give Peace a Chance?

Fighting in Ukraine: Russia vs the West? Sarajevo, 1914. One hundred years ago, the assassination of the Archduke, heir to the Hapsburg throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, triggered the outbreak of World War I, the war "to end all wars" among the competing trigger-happy, imperialist western powers. The first fifty years of the twentieth century saw violence and killing on a scale unprecedented in human history. The result has been the collapse of imperialist dynasties and empires. The residue, like acidic ashes, gave rise to the Soviet Union and to America as opposing imperialist forces. Each, though on different timelines, have been steadily weakened. Are they back at it? Will we never learn to be cooperative partners and equals with the rest of the world, especially its emerging nations and cultures? Must we always attempt to dominate?

Now, 2014, one hundred years later, a minor political flare-up in a small state resting on the fault line of east and west threatens to ignite Cold War and maybe Hot War tensions once again.

There exists a fault line through the Asia-European imaginary continental boundary that is not so imaginary and where tectonic cultural plates meet and all too often clash and thrash about for supremacy. Up through the near east (Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and right up the line to Scandinavia exists this (I wish it were) imaginary "fault."

The east in its higher values is expansive: Indian cultures inclines towards the impersonal, abstract and cosmic; China inclines to social ethics and responsibilities and harmony. In its darker side it inclines toward ruthlessness and an absence of value upon individual human lives.

The west in its higher values inclines toward individuality, personal liberty of thought and action, exploration of the material world, of nature through science and reason. The west in its darker side is domineering, arrogant, godless, prejudicial and exploitative.

(If I omit the southern hemisphere continents, well, they speak, or don't, for themselves. For whatever reason if any, the southern hemisphere has played a relatively small, perhaps insignificant, role in human history and culture in the few thousand years. Sorry to say this, but it seems self evident. If its a western prejudicial bias, well, there you have it, then!)

In the book, "The Yugas," by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz, (, the authors elaborate on a revolutionary view of history given to us by ancient cultures and specifically the culture of India as this view of history was modified, updated, clarified and corrected by a modern mystic and astrologer, Swami Sri Yukteswar (1855-1936), in the foreward to his one and only book, "The Holy Science."

According to this fascinating view of history, the planet earth and its human inhabitants are on a 12,000 year upward cycle of expanding awareness. The age we are currently in is not terribly enlightened but it is very energetic, rational, and technological. It is lacking, however, in wisdom. According to this account, the age we are in (which will last over two thousand more years before the appearance of a yet higher age), which they call Dwapara Yuga ("The Second Age"), warfare and insecurity (economic, planetary, weather, disease, political, etc.) will be unceasing. There may be periods, even some lasting a century or two, later on in this upward cycle, where peace will be experienced, but overall it is an age of energetic instability.

Well, who knows, eh? What we can see for ourselves, right now, is that on every continent, struggles by the have-nots against those in power and struggles between competing powers, parties, groups, nations, and tribes is unending. Armed now as we are with weapons of mass destruction (from automatic, rapid-fire guns to atomic bombs and everything in between), the causalities are shockingly high and shockingly inhumane.

Why would we expect such troubles to end anytime soon? People like you and I (why else would you be reading this blog), want it to be otherwise. Our own consciousness is peaceful and violence seems foreign to us. That fact, which is not unimportant, does not change the other and much larger fact of global violence and conflict.

Maybe we are still young adults and can still entertain roseate expectations, or not. So, shall we collapse in apathy and immerse ourselves in self-indulgence? Many have and many will continue to go this route. It leads to personal violence against our own health, happiness and well-being. So, in choosing that route, one is saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

But if you are reading this I would guess that's not the route you've chosen. We can give "Peace a chance" (John Lennon's song) by becoming "the change we seek" (Mahatma Gandhi). The odds of any one of us bringing the world to a state of peace by our own efforts is, well......I won't say it.

Our contribution and consciousness unites western individuality (sense of personal responsibility) with eastern expansiveness and cosmic view. As vibrant, conscious, living sparks of a higher intelligence, like points of light, we can reflect the light of wisdom and the healing rays of peace: first in our calm, centered, peace-filled heart; then, in the respect we show others; in the attentiveness, integrity, harmony, and excellence of our actions, no matter how mundane; and finally, in attunement with the great Will and Love of Life, the Spirit behind all seeming, we, as individuals, can know how we can be free from all violence.

Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952), author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," predicted that east and west (specifically, America and India) would work together to bring a higher consciousness into being during this energetic age. What he meant by "working together" wasn't explained but I suppose it ranges from the change of individual consciousness all the way "to the top" of international cooperation and exchange.

The tiny worldwide network of Ananda Communities and centers exists as a result of the efforts and dedications of thousands of individual souls. Our efforts provide a model and an example of how people who are otherwise from a wide range of backgrounds, can live together in harmony, serving creatively and being engaged, while yet retaining and refining our individuality towards our highest potential beyond mere ego consciousness.

It is a small step and it won't necessarily bring peace to Ukraine; or, will it? We may not know the consequences of our own consciousness and commitment to expressing it in outward effect, but we can make the effort and if we make no tangible contribution to the world around us, it will not be for lack of interest, but we will be changed for the better by the attempt.

Give a peace a chance!

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Law of Success

For a tree to grow strong and bear good fruit, it needs sunlight, water, and good soil. No success is ever achieved in a vacuum. While success can mean achieving any goal one has chosen, true success is that which brings lasting satisfaction of body, mind, and soul. To achieve name and fame or wealth at the expense of others by greed, lies, or exploitation is a one-sided and a fragile kind of success. It is not true success and whatever satisfaction it may bring is hollow.

Success requires a sensitive balance and dance between self-will and harmonious cooperation with other people, environment and circumstances. The sapling tree can be killed by too much water or not enough water; too intense of sunlight or insufficient sunlight. Scientists opine that the chemical and other combinations of ingredients that makes planet Earth habitable for humans is both complex and very delicate. We’ve yet to find another planet such as ours.

Success comes by creating friendships. When Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi) came to America in 1920, he made friends everywhere he went because he was friendly. He addressed people’s needs, from cooking a meal for them to giving them wisdom and practical teachings. He never used people but saw others equally as God manifesting in specific forms. He thus served God in others and did not think of himself.

Success also requires concentration upon the goal and the means to the goal, sometimes to the exclusion of all else but always by keeping one’s priorities clearly in view. Meditation serves one superbly to open the floodgates to a flow of intuition onto a field of calm sensitive awareness guiding that rive-like flow, laser-like, in the direction of one’s goal.

I have lived in an Ananda Community for over thirty-five years and have seen the power that comes from the combination of high ideals, practicality, and “the many hands that can a miracle.” Unless you happen to be an Albert Einstein, most of us would do well to understand that success comes when we work with and through and for others. At your workplace, be helpful. Think of the needs of your co-workers, your supervisor, and the legitimate goals of the company or organization. Do your best with excellence, creativity, and enthusiasm.

After a forest fire destroyed most of the first Ananda Community (Ananda Village, near Nevada City, CA), we banded together (eschewing the opportunity to sue the local county — a faulty spark arrestor on a county vehicle caused the fire) to find new ways to raise the money we needed to rebuild. Yes, some donations came in but most of it came through old fashioned hard work. But we were relatively inexperienced and without financial resources. We studied business methods, financing, and marketing, and we encouraged one another and our businesses to tithe and to use affirmations and prayers. We started a health food store, a cafĂ©, a print shop, a gift shop and a clothing store. Each of the these enterprises struggled greatly but bit by bit they came up and our member-employees found viable, if simple, means of support.

In time, the Community rose from the ashes and today when one visits you see a beautiful Village nestled in the hills, forests, and meadows of the Sierra Mountains. Homes of many types, shapes and sizes house families, monks, and singles in a charming and harmonious life of creativity, service, and devotion. A retreat center, office complex, grocery store, farm, dairy and community center serve the needs of both residents and neighbors alike.

Our local East West Bookshop in Seattle, too, is a testimony to the efforts of many individuals serving high ideals and attracting the grace to be successful. While the independent bookstore industry has been decimated this store has survived and flourished. It is the largest and most successful bookstore of its kind in Washington State. It is a resource center for new thought truth seekers and offers classes, books, gifts and, perhaps most of all, an uplifted environment staffed with devotees who see customers as their friends.

Here in the Seattle area we are engaged in purchasing a rural area farm. Some twenty individuals have pooled their resources. Small scale, organic farming is a tricky and risky business if seen from the standpoint of profits. But with the many hands and resources of a committed group of people which includes the talent and skills of a few who can guide the fledgling farm, we can create a success because we understand success is sharing and serving. In our case we are committed to principles and practices of sustainability and stewardship, serving God through our fellow man and in harmony with the earth and all creatures.

So it takes the initiative, courage and faith of individuals combined with the cooperation and support of others of like mind — God helping God — to achieve true success. This is an unbeatable combination, not only to achieve success but to achieve the success of weathering and resurrecting from in the inevitable setbacks, failures, and disasters which life can dish out.

The key, spiritually, is to offer the self to the Self of all. “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will and activity to the right step in all that I do.”

In the life of Ananda’s founder, Swami Kriyananda, now age 86, but still outpacing his staff and members in the worldwide network of Ananda Communities in the unceasing flow of writings, lectures, radio and TV shows, guidance, and inspiration, we see in real life the power of grace that comes from discipleship to life and to truth. “What’s trying to happen here” is the question he has taught us to ask in all things. Yet for all of his creativity, intelligence and talent, it is now primarily the outpouring of divine Bliss that one experiences in his presence. For a lifetime of living for God has brought to him the peace and lasting fulfillment that the soul was created to re-discover.

Initially the effort to view oneself as part of a greater reality and to cooperate with grace is an effort of will. As I have seen in recent Facebook postings, “Life begins outside your comfort zone!” But in time and as seen in Swami Kriyananda, that dance of Spirit and Nature becomes a powerful flow of Light and Joy.
When I first came to live at Ananda Village (just after the 1976 forest fire), it was definitely outside my comfort zone. But just having returned from over a year of travel in Europe, near East and India, I understood the value of stepping outside that zone to find the truth that “could make me free.” I never hesitated though I could not then know where it would lead.

In a more cosmic or Vedantic sense, rishis (both ancient and modern, like Paramhansa Yogananda) have taught that this universe is a manifestation of God. God is dreaming this material world and we, as sparks of His intelligence and joy, are co-creators. Yogananda used the analogy of the movies. You sit in the theatre and become engrossed in the movie, laughing and crying. You forget that the whole movie is a projection of light from the booth behind you (unseen). A beam of white light, merely, projecting the true-to- life sound and sight pictures of the movie. We need only turn our heads to the back (turn within, that is), and follow the beam of light to its source in Oneness if we would awaken from the movie-dream of life.

The other day, puttering in the kitchen at home, I suddenly had this intense feeling-experience of that flow of cosmic energy oscillating and vibrating all the objects around and I felt on the precipice of having it all disappear, just as would happen if the electricity in the movie theatre were suddenly to go out. It was both unnerving and thrilling at the same time. It was also brief!

The more we see ourselves as energy, and behind that energy, the Bliss of God oscillating all the forms and actions of life, the less we need to be always thinking about ourselves and the more we enter that flow that brings to us the true happiness (Bliss) that we seek. This, ultimately, is success and the law of success.

Bliss-ings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman

Friday, September 23, 2011

After the Fall - The Road Ahead?

What lies ahead of us after the Fall? What Fall, you may ask? America and European nations stand on brink of a fall in currency values and wholesale economic paralysis. No matter what form it takes: hyper-inflation, deflation, partial or complete, the results will affect everyone to varying degrees.

What, then, may the road ahead of look like after "the Fall?" We see the American Congress (seen as a symbol of American public opinion) in paralysis. Some say the government should uphold spending as a safety net to wholesale collapse. Others say continued spending in the face of such immense debt and deficits is irresponsible and, itself, responsible for wholesale collapse. As I have written previously, it probably doesn't make much difference as the result is the same.

For today, however, I want to roll the film ahead and peek behind the curtain of the road ahead. What are the consequences of a new economy in which the central government plays a greatly reduced role in the lives of its citizens (whether in America or in Europe)? Here are some possibilities:

1.     So long as major war(s) are not imposed upon us, we can expect a great reduction in public and governmental willingness to intervene militarily in off shore wars. If things go this direction (and not towards MORE international warfare), the reduction in military spending for personnel, facilities, and weaponry will result in the unemployment of thousands, with a concomitant ripple down affect.
2.     We saw how World War II was a major economic engine that drove the 1930's Depression from the national scene. While the Depression was not necessarily the cause of that war, we might see that a worldwide economic collapse or stagnation might generate warfare especially around energy resources, or as a window to more effective and devastating acts of terrorism. When things are tough at home, uniting against a common "enemy" can be "good" politics and "good" economics, if you know what I mean.
3.     Social services and support systems will be greatly reduced in their funding. Charity will shift to the private sector, the individual, and to the nonprofit sector with the result that many otherwise on some form of relief or subsidy will have a difficult time. Social unrest is certain to result and polarization of public attitudes towards the poor will certainly make things even more difficult.
4.     A renewed emphasis on both individualism and cooperation will surface. Faith-based groups, ideologue-based groups (green or cause oriented), and local partisans will form to tackle various needs and causes. 
5.     A large increase in part-time or shared jobs, telecommuting and other forms of shared, partial, or results-based (commissions, e.g.) jobs will occur. The trend to the use of subcontractors will continue to accelerate.
6.     Private, corporate, union and nonprofit pensions will be reduced.
7.     Despite the glut of homes on the market, more people will live together, whether related or unrelated.
8.     A small but growing exodus out of the cities will begin in the face of unemployment and harsher living conditions, including scarcity of food, social instability, and cost of utilities.
9.     The trend toward personal or small farms will accelerate. 
10. Communes, cooperatives, co-housing, and intentional communities will become visible and will grow in number and influence.
11. Small numbers of westerners will move to other countries and expatriates of such countries currently living in the west will return to their country of origin.
12. Government spending will shift toward infrastructure and jobs, and away from social services. 
13. A rapid increase in the use of barter clubs will be seen.
14. The high cost of public transportation may be strangled by lack of public funding and interest. Low-cost individual transportation systems (from bicycles, motorcycles, smart cars and hybrids), including telecommuting and living near one's workplace, will increase.
15. Energy conservation will become high profile and high priority in all sectors. 
16. Agri-business will lose substantial subsidies provoking more instability in food prices and boosting interest in individuals growing their own food (and locally grown produce).
17. Immigration into the U.S. will slow due to slow economy and tightened security and public attitudes.
18. Alternative forms of currency (not just bartering) will pop up here and there, greatly enhanced to the extent internet remains stable. 
19. Government efforts to regulate will become increasingly ineffective. Regulatory power will shift to the state and local levels, but even here, will be lax or inconsistent from place to place. Crime or lack of conformity to laws and regulations will skyrocket. Society will become far more random and chaotic while yet free and enterprising.
20. Travel will be greatly reduced and more emphasis will be placed on local recreation, sports, and holidays. People will tend more to stay at home or local.
21. Home improvement projects, especially low-cost and energy-efficient (with rapid payback), will accelerate.
22. Real estate prices, in general, will remain low, stable, or dropping for years to come (with various exceptions of course!) Commercial real estate will be the next sector to drop hard and fast. Malls will be devastated and big-box shopping will move even more strongly to the internet (assuming the internet remains reasonably stable).
23. A new growth industry in trade and labor skills will slowly build. Jobs in small manufacturing activities will slowly begin to build momentum as the economic and energetic incentives to make things locally or nationally grows.
24. A trend toward simplicity in technology, lifestyle, and household products will begin.
25. The trend toward non-impact exercise and interest in yoga and meditation will grow at an accelerating rate. Fewer people will be able to afford or have interest in high-tech gymnasiums, pools, and equipment.
26. Public interest and acceptance of non-sectarian spiritual values, beliefs, and association will begin to rise. This will threaten mainline and sectarian oriented churches and institutions. Mainline churches will suffer in membership and revenues, although there will be exceptions and some push-back as members turn increasingly to their faith for comfort.
27. Trend toward alternative health care and naturopathic and energy healing will increase rapidly both for economic reasons and for the lack of satisfaction with allopathic solutions.
28. Health care industry will be devastated, whether private or public due to economic pressures.
29. It would seem that conflict and instability in less developed countries around the world will increase. But this will be mitigated (perhaps) by economic paralysis. We will probably see an inconsistent and spotty pattern of conflict alternating with reconciliation, both at more local levels with less interference from developed countries. 
30. Against the prior point is an increase in the intensity of competition for natural resources among all countries and especially the (relatively) richer nations.
31. Increased attention and commitment to alternative energy sources will be slowed by economic troubles creating an inconsistent stop and start pattern of research, development and implementation around the world. Necessity will be the mother of invention and solutions will tend to be more local than global.
32. Lifestyles in developed countries hard hit by economic troubles will tend to polarize but in general will move towards traditional, universal, and simpler values: health, commitment, saving, hard work, community and family. I avoid the label here of conservative in favor of natural, balanced, and sustainable living in all levels: earth-oriented, health-oriented, family-oriented, community-oriented, and church-oriented values and lifestyles.
32.5 The public school system in America will continue its steady decline. Committed parents will continue to look for alternatives but economic woes will make traditional private school increasingly out of reach. Tutors, small non-profit schools staffed by dedicated staff and volunteers, after-school enhancement activities, character and holistic education, home schooling, and volunteer associations will sprout everywhere. Online and internet alternatives, especially in higher grades and education, will skyrocket almost as fast as costs and prices.
33. The BIG IF'S that can drastically affect all of the above are as follows: war, plague, and natural catastrophes.
34. War between nations is not difficult to imagine when global conditions become stressed and competitive. Terrorist use of small nuclear devices could wreak havoc and great suffering.
35. Pandemics are constantly being touted as just around the corner. Millions could be affected.
36. Natural catastrophes are seen, by the public at least, as increasing in both frequency and intensity of devastation. Predicted sunspot activity could herald global disaster for telecommunications, travel, and energy production. Meteor hitting earth is a popular fear as is a shifting of the poles (perhaps as a result of the former).
37. When the time arrives for a general subsiding of our troubles on earth, it seems that humanity will so yearn for peace, health, and prosperity that a long and gradual period of relative security and peace would undoubtedly result. 
How long a time frame is all of the above? Well not short like a recession, certainly. The trends above are long-term but are listed because I feel that in the few years ahead of us we will be able to discern their appearance. Those who live with faith, share with love, pray with devotion, and act courageously and creatively will fare well, spiritually for sure and likely in most other ways as well.

May we live in God's light and peace as His children!

Nayaswami Hriman