Sunday, November 30, 2014

What If Books Had Never Come Into Existence?

I have just returned from a very interesting convention on the Upanishads here in Rishikesh. There were some eminent scholars speaking on the subject, each with his own point of view and his own particular way of explaining the importance of this fundamental Hindu spiritual text. I have recently taken an interest in the ancient texts of the Rishis as I, too, believe that in them, an important key can be found to open yet another door that will lead me further down this path that I have chosen; a torch to lighten the way through the darkness of my self-inflicted blindness. 
While I found all of the speakers to be quite erudite and eloquent, I couldn’t help but take note that all of them repeatedly and steadfastly stated that to find moksha, i.e., enlightenment, the words in the Upanishads held the answer. Now, I am not here to challenge that thought nor can I uphold it as resolutely as the learned scholars did this morning however, a question has been echoing inside my mind since returning home: 

What if there had never been any books? What if the written word had never existed? No Gita, no Bible, no Upanishad, no Koran nor Torah? Would humankind still not have the same questions? Wouldn’t we still have the same problems and doubts? And would we be more willing to search inside ourselves instead of flipping through pages of another’s experience? And, I ask myself: how would my life differ? Would I be any closer to knowing who I am? 

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Gratitude is a form of love. Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other so be thankful when each occurs. If one is not thankful, one is not fully loving and if one is not fully loving, he or she is not fully living. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The War Within

Taking sides in a war is creating another kind of conflict. But it does teach us about human conditioning and how social, cultural, and political conditioning keeps us in shackles. If we choose sides, it’s only because we are puppets in the political game. Choosing a side undoubtedly creates a division and division is conflict, which is how wars begin in the first place. From both a physics and spiritual point of view, our timeline is a continuum; it has no beginning or end. So just for discussion’s sake, if we look at the timeline of forever, every country at one point or another has been in a war. Every country has obliterated or killed. So it is fair to say that a country that is not in war at the present, was once in a war in the so-called past and most certainly will be in a war in the so-called future. Time cannot be divided because it is a continuum so where does that place us? We are all the same because we are all in the same timeline.  
It is interesting to consider that the Israelis and the Palestinians were born of the same father, Abraham. If we take a look at history, we will see that the most vicious and heinous wars were the civil wars. Makes one think about the concept of brotherly love, doesn’t it? 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Woman's Path to Enlightenment

I just read a fascinating interview in Spanish on Irina Tweedie, an illuminated English-Russian woman who had spent the second half of her life (after she turned 52) living in India with a Sufi guru in his ashram. He told her something very interesting about spiritual transformation that she mentions in this interview. You see, the guru did not give her any special practices or 'sadhanas' to perform while she lived in the ashram, he was just there with her, and he just allowed her to be. What he told her was:  'A boy/man needs to perform a lot of sadhanas because a man's energy functions in a totally different way than that of a woman. Women need almost no sadhana. She reaches the realization just by being a woman.'

What he said rings true to me. This of course does not mean that for a woman reaching a higher level of understanding or enlightenment is any easier, in fact because of how society has (under)developed it is probably much harder. It is not at all easy for a woman to even tap into her true feminine nature and nurture it because women have to deal with so many practical responsibilities of everyday life; husbands, children, homes, etc., so a women's path is not made less arduous just because their is no 'instruction or practice'. And, most importantly, the right male element is needed to 'ignite' the transformation in her. It is probably more than one significant male figure that lights the path in a woman's life. (This is of course true for men, too, since they are born through a woman). This Sufi guru was absolutely in symbiosis with his own feminine side and that is why he understood women so well.
What are your thoughts on this?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Disappointment and crossing the bridge.

Why do get disappointed with people? What is expectation and how does it control and manipulate our lives? What is this shield that the ego uses so skillfully and from what imagined fear is it giving us the illusion of being our protector? Running from one situation to another, from one relationship to another, from one place to another, never stopping long enough to really look at our lives to see what the universe is telling us and how to take advantage of what the universe is offering us. We live in a society that teaches us that sitting still is a waste of time…so we move, we dismantle, we ‘start all over’, we run run run.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meditating: Eyes wide open!

I read a story a while ago that has remained in the back chamber of my mind but lately when I sit down for morning meditation, the words of that story have been surfacing to haunt me. So this morning I really looked at this story and I allowed the words to seep into my consciousness until a light shown through them. The story goes something like this: a head monk was about to do his daily meditation but he felt thirsty so he asked his disciples to fetch him a glass of water. By the time they returned, the head monk had fallen into a deep meditation… deep that he came out of it 30 years later. And the first thing that came to his mind was his thirst and he wondered why his disciples had not yet brought him the glass of water.
Mediation is not about staying in one place. The mind must not become dull. If meditation is to be real, it must be a 24-hour affair. How can one meditate and not be connected to the world around him? Is meditation a halting of the mind? That cannot be. Meditation is alive, flowing, the mind does not stop, the neurons continue to send signals to itself and to the rest of the body. That is its job. And it is clear that a quiet mind is not a stagnant or dull mind. Meditation is awareness and that happens with the eyes wide open, the mind wide open, and above all the heart wide open. Although, I do find sitting down in quiet, ‘dark’ meditation relaxing and, at times, rejuvenating, I wonder…how can I meditate and remain in complete touch with the life around me all the time. What is the point of meditating, quieting my mind, if as soon as I ‘come out of’ the meditative state, my mind is in the same chaotic mess it was in before? I do not want to ask for the same glass of water 30 years later. So, it seems to me that since meditation is awareness, and the awareness must be constant, then meditation must be in such a way that one is always meditating. So the way one meditates changes. It is no longer the ‘I will sit down and quiet my mind, etc, etc,’ it is ‘I will be aware of everything inside and outside of myself all the time.’ It can only be this way, otherwise it is like a game that one starts and finishes. We are not machines to be turned on and off.

So is there any point in sitting down for a quiet, in-depth meditation? Yes, I believe there is. It is a time when we can really look at a question, we can place a situation at the center of our being and search through it until we see it from all sides, until the light shines through it and the question inevitably disappears. One never knows how long the inquiry will last nor how long it will take for the light to shine through and dissolve the question….hours, days, months, years….who know? But I can guarantee that it eventually does.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Duality, the union of the Energy Forces

In yoga, we often discuss the theme of duality and how to become one, unique, through a transformation of the body and the mind. But this morning it occurred to me that all in Nature, all in life is a balance through the duality, and not fighting or questioning the duality. It is not through the annihilation of the so-called opposing forces but a blend, a synergy, an amalgamation of these forces that a bond, a unity can be created. So in both energies, all energies are present. By eliminating one or the other, we polarize the energies, which only makes the unity impossible. How can a match create a flame if we keep the match far from the wood? To annihilate or ignore one energy is a slow death, a suicide, because the one part cannot exist on its own.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Key to Happiness


Q: What is right and what is wrong?

M: Generally, what causes suffering is wrong and what removes it, is right. 

The body and the mind are limited and therefore vulnerable; they need protection which gives rise to fear. As long as you identify yourself with them you are bound to suffer; realise your independence and remain happy.

I tell you, this is the secret of happiness. To believe that you depend on things and people for happiness is due to ignorance of your true nature; to know that you need nothing to be happy, except self-knowledge, is wisdom.

I AM THAT, 371.  Nisargadatta Maharaj 

(I pray that one day, in some lifetime to have the clarity that this man had. I am working on it, fearlessly and constantly.)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My first encounter with the Vedas....

A friend of mine and also a very knowledgable man on the Vedas, Siddhartha Krishna from Rishikesh, kindly suggested some good books in English on the Vedas and Vedanta for me to read. I have not yet had too much time to read them, but today I picked one up (Initiation to the Vedas by Raimundo Panikkar) and opened it up randomly. This is the first phrase I read, so my first encounter with the Vedic thought:
Antaram mrtyor amrtam:
'Death does not die and thus within death itself there is immortality'.

I am speechless.
If one can truly assimilate and absorb this reality into every cell of ones' being, and know it as Truth, then no more questions need to be asked. The greatest fear which is of death, vanishes and one is left totally fearless.
It is the Ultimate Truth.
I am about to embark on a very interesting journey. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep

I just read this beautiful poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye so I wanted to share it with you. I tell people close to me that should I die tomorrow, not to cry because I have died happily. From a purely materialistic, physical point of view, there is really nothing more I want to do on this Earth. I have lived 20 lifetimes in one so I can ask for no more. Now is the time to concentrate on the inner part of my soul, the real me. So when the time comes I will be able to say the words of this poem:
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Don't trust the props, don't trust the words

I was doing my yoga self-practice this morning in my teacher’s yoga hall – there were about 20 of us there today. There is always someone who needs assistance and our teacher is always available, even if it takes time away from her own practice. She adjusted the person in need and gave some props, as is the custom in Iyengar yoga. The girl asked her how the props would help her and my teacher answered, ‘ Find out for yourself. And don’t always use the props. Find out how they can help you and then, work in a way where you don’t need them anymore. Don’t become dependent on the props and don’t trust them.’ This is what she said Guruji had always told her. I agree. One shouldn’t depend on anything or anybody, really.  
(A few minutes earlier we had been talking about religion and philosophy and most of the people in the class believe in some religion or philosophy or another. Some have or are looking for gurus or some kind of answer from above or beyond. I no longer follow any religion, although at the core most of them are quite beautiful. Philosophy, too, can be very interesting, even fun at times, although in truth, it never goes anywhere. Just words going around and around in circles.
I suppose if I believe in anything it is in total freedom. Freedom from social, cultural, political, and religious influences. I am a rebel.)
So while everyone was nodding in agreement to Usha’s statement about not clinging to the props, not using them like crutches and, above all, not to trust them, I said that it is the same thing with religion and philosophy. Don’t trust everything you hear, find out for yourself, don’t cling to words. Words are like props. They must be dropped and one must find out for one’s self.  Words are attached to second-hand knowledge so they will never be real. To know is to experience and no one can do that for you.
Words can chime like a bell that awakens you or they can be a crutch that you lean on or a safe haven in which to hide when the fear of living the life experience overtakes you. Second hand knowledge that only sounds true, yet has no depth because the experience does not support it. 

Leave the props, don’t trust words. Find out for yourself or as my mother used to tell me, ‘Use your (own) head.’ The day I was able to transform those words into reality was the day that I took my first step towards freedom.