Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In Honor of Gita Jayanti

                                                                           ( Courtesy of Google Images)

All around the world hearts are lifted in gratitude today in recognition of a revered spiritual text which is oftentimes referred to as "The Song of God". Today, Gita Jayanti, celebrates the birth of the Bhagavad Gita. 

Since the very first time I read the Bhagavad Gita my heart was captured by the truths it contains.  Every time I have returned to a verse or a passage its meaning becomes even more clear as it penterates itself deeper within my consciousness. It is certainly an inspired text I would highly recommend reading.

In the introduction to his translation of the Bhagavad Gita, scholar and spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran writes, "It offers something to every seeker after God, of whatever temperament, by whatever path. The reason for this universal appeal is that it is basically practical: it is a handbook for Self-realization and a guide to action."

The Bhagavad Gita takes place on the battlefield of Kureksetra. It primarily consists of  dialogue between  Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna is a devotee of Krishna, and Krishna is serving as Arjuna's charioteer but is God in human form. On the battlefield is many of Arjuna's relatives who are determined to fight against him. Arjuna grows faint and begins to lose resolve. He turns to Krishna and laments, "My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning."   (1.29) Verses later he expresses his view that it would be better to die unarmed than to take any of the lives of his relatives. "Better for me if the sons of Dhrtarastra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield." (1.45) What follows is an unforgettable exchange which continues to be a source of direction in which those seeking to explore their consciousness, unravel layers of ego, and become more aware and devoted to the Divine within, go to drink deep its nectar. (Verses found in Gita As It Is: Translation by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

Renown spiritual master Radhanath Swami says this regarding the Gita's setting:

"The Gita had been spoken on a battlefield because life is a battle. Life is a battle , where evil perpetually attacks good and our sacred ideals are destined to be tested. We would all be confronted with grave dangers and demons within and without. There was much to be gained with facing these aggressors with integrity and faith. Krishna's timeless call culminated in the practice of selfless devotion, determination, and spiritual absorption as the means to access a power beyond our own to overcome all fear-the power of God's love."
 ~The Journey Home, p. 183

I will conclude this post in honor of Gita Jayanti with a passage from the Gita that Mahatma Gandhi often said contained its entire essence. It is one that Eknath Easwaran highly recommends anyone who takes up his form of passage meditation to memorize. I hope you enjoy and encourage you to leave any thoughts or comments in the comments section. Thank you! :)


Tell me of those
Who live always in wisdom, ever aware
Of the Self, O Krishna: how they talk,
How sit, how move about?

Sri Krishna:

They live in wisdom
Who see themselves in all and all in them,
Whose love for the Lord of Love has consumed
Every selfish desire and sense craving
Tormenting the heart. Not agitated
By grief or hankering after pleasure,
They live free from lust and fear and anger,
Fettered no more by selfish attachments,
They are not elated by good fortune
Or depressed by bad. Such are the seers.

Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs,
The wise can draw in their senses at will,
Though aspirants abstain from sense pleasures,
They will still crave for them. These cravings
Disappear when they see the Lord of Love,
For even of those who tread the path,
The stormy senses can sweep off the mind,
And keep their minds ever absorbed in Me.

When you keep thinking about some objects,
Attachments comes. Attachment breeds desire,
The lust of possession which, when thwarted,
Burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgement;
You can no longer learn from past mistakes.
Lost is the power to choose between the wise
And unwise, and your life is utter waste.
But when you move amidst the world of sense
From both attachment and aversion freed,
There comes the peace in which all sorrows end
And you live in the wisdom of the Self.

The disunited mind is far from wise;
How can it meditate? How be at peace?
When you know no peace, how can you know joy?
When you let your mind heed the Siren call
Of the senses, they will carry away
Your better judgement as storms drive a boat
Off its safe-charted course to certain doom.

Use all your power to set the senses free
From attachment and aversion alike,
And live in the full wisdom of the Self.
Such a sage awakes to light in the night
Of all creatures.That which the world calls day
Is the night of ignorance to the wise.

As the rivers flow into the ocean
But cannot make the vast ocean overflow,
So flow the magic streams of the sense-world
Into the sea of peace that is the sage.

They are forever free who break away
From the ego-cage of I, me, and mine
To be united with the Lord of Love,
This is the supreme state. Attain to this
And pass from death to immortality.

(The Bhagavad Gita 2:54-72, translation: Eknath Easwaran)


Friday, December 21, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Small Wonders

Early this morning I read the last chapter of Alan Watts' autobiography, "In My Own Way", which was entitled "The Sound of Rain". There was a definite irony as I read Watts' words expressing the truth that "the rain doesn't need a translation", as at that time a soft rain was falling steadily outside my window. I turned to open it, staring outside at the grass scattered amidst patches of mud and heaps of leaves across our back yard. I inhaled the morning, cool and refreshing, and then sat back down turning to the next page.

Upon concluding, I took our dog Olive outside. Chanting quietly, as I usually do while I'm out walking our dog, I strode with purpose to the back yard.  I looked up while Olive nosed around the tree line skirting the perimeter of our property and could feel my heart suddenly leap forward in flight. It was stopped only it seems by the hindrance of flesh and bone.

The slender arms and fingers of trees were adorned with the translucent jewels of newly fallen rain. Precariously perched between salvation and peril they patiently awaited their inevitable fate of falling to the ground and being absorbed into the earth. They seemed perfectly fine with that.

I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe at the sight of them. I thought briefly how silly I must look now peering closely at a drop so delicate, so beautiful, with what seemed the whole of the universe within its tiny vessel of mostly emptiness. Reflections of upside down trees, earth and sky, shone back out at a world too busy to notice. But I noticed. And I reveled in the view. So much so that I went in the house to get my camera.

My camera is very basic so it took some time to manage to snap some shots that weren't blurry. The pictures I took really don't do any real justice as to the perfection of form and beauty that these drops possessed at that moment in time. But they are at least fairly clear.

I thought I'd share them here. I hope you enjoy them.


Have you ever been caught in wonder at something that you usually overlook? Feel free to share in the comments section. Thank you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secrets: A Poem

I rose early today and after reading for awhile and watching morning rise outside my window I began to write whatever came to mind. Purging my consciousness of stray thoughts that have been curled up tight in its corners dark and hidden.  I scribbled six pages of what most would probably consider contradictory nonsense. That's inconsequential to me, however, because when words and thoughts seem to flow out like that I feel so alive and it causes my consciousness to greet the day with appreciation and wonder. I hold my kids that much longer, drink in their beauty that much deeper.

After dropping my daughter off at school I thought I'd try to take what I wrote and make a philosophical kind of poem with it which would attempt to reveal a snapshot of  some of the ideas that took form during my moments of contemplation this morning. But it just didn't happen that way. Instead I wrote down what preceded that time altogether.

This is a poem which had a spontaneous birth. I hope you enjoy it. I'd love your thoughts. Thank you!


Morning Secrets

Morning spills her secrets outside my window.
The narrow branches splitting off like fingers
from the thick outstretched arms of trees
are laced with the brilliant translucence

of newly birthed frost.  They take in with glee
what her loose tongue has to share-
jewels of miraculous vibration.
And shine their remnants right back out at the world.

To the old man, shuffling with intention up the sidewalk,
bent over and stooped, bundled in warm wool,

breath preceding his figure in vaporous clouds.
To the woman driving by, too distracted to look out and wonder,

her windshield slowly melting away the beauty of the morn.
And below my steady hand,  poised with anticipation,
Is a blank sheet of copy paper the children use to draw on,
Inviting me to spill my own secrets.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turning Point: Heading in a New Direction (My Response to Recent Questions from Readers)

Throughout the last couple of months a number of my readers have asked me to write a post clarifying my position as to what my beliefs are. Such a clarification, some have said, would help them and other readers understand the perspective I come from when writing my posts.  

I think my last post alluded somewhat to the perspective I have been gravitating to spiritually. However, what I think those who have expressed inquiries into my beliefs really want to know is what I would label myself as. Am I still a Christian? Am I a pantheist, a Hindu? For I have spoken fondly and reverently of Sri Krishna as expressed through the Bhagavad Gita and have quoted numerous times in the past from the Upanishads, stating that I get much spiritual direction reading from them as well as from works like the Tao te Ching. I have also expressed my belief that all of life is interconnected and have shared my slow turning away from the idea in a personal God. And yet my mentioning of religions that do express a personal belief of God tends to leave some of my readers perplexed as to where I personally stand.

I can only say that at this point  my beliefs are fluid and continually evolving. I readily admit that I simply don't have everything figured out yet and am unable to put myself in one camp or another, subscribing to this or that label.  Though it can be uncomfortable to proceed from the ever-shifting vantage point of fluidity, it is the only way I seem to be able to proceed spiritually with any genuine sense of authenticity and certainty. Yes, what a paradox; I find a degree of certainty in the very state of uncertainty! Maybe that can be compared to finding permanence in impermanence.

Never before have I been able to relate more to these words of Alan Watts, found in his book "The Wisdom of Insecurity" on page 24.

"But you cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. Indeed, you cannot grasp it, just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket. If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To "have" running water you must let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and of God. "

While I can see beauty in what many religions and spiritual paths have to offer, especially the Eastern ones,  I think that trying to subscribe to any one of them would make it only a matter of time before I was branded a heretic by followers in whichever one I tried to follow. So deeply is skepticism woven into my very nature. As soon as I think I have found a path that perhaps I can align myself with, doubts and questions taunt me and I find what I perceive as flaws in the presuppositions that define them. I think my days of subscribing to any organized religion may be over.

I believe to pursue the truth with any sense of integrity means to do away with all presuppositions. I can't help but feel restricted spiritually by the artificial boundaries that  religions seem to erect.  I immediately feel compelled to test them and eventually go beyond them.  Some seem to find comfort with recognizing and accepting these boundaries and I respect, honor and sometimes envy that. I, on the other hand, find myself feeling rather claustrophobic at the idea of them.  

I tend to view God/reality as something bearing a lot more depth than religions generally express. I believe that throughout the various  wisdom traditions  there have been mystics who have had deep revelations into the true nature of man and the universe. These revelations have undoubtedly been the inspiration to truths that many religions have found ways of turning superficial. Perhaps my current perspective is a strength,  maybe it will lead to my ultimate spiritual demise. More than a few have voiced the idea that it will lead to my eternal separation from God, even to hell.  Those are repercussions, though, that I do not fear. For God, whom I equate with reality, is closer to me than my very self. Separation from God is impossible for "He" is found at our nature's core.  That, I do believe whole-heartedly. And I no longer believe in hell. So, that is also not a concern as I move forward.

So, after all of this, where exactly am I at? I am at the point where I am merely enjoying the act of learning as much as I can about different religions and philosophies for the sake of exploring the underlying parallels that can be found between them. I am concentrating my studies more on the various Eastern philosophies and religions, particularly Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism.  I see all of reality as being interconnected; as an ever changing and infinite organism of interrelated parts.

I am enjoying the spiritual disciplines of chanting, meditation and mindfulness. I believe that the truth can be revealed to us experientially in the present moment and that we can train our minds to become more and more aware of the presen through spiritual disciplines but we need not be bound to them. I view them as tools; sometimes they are helpful and sometimes they can be a hindrance. Oftentimes what is needed is the letting go of all effort. It is then that understanding breaks upon one's consciousness. Sort of like how when you are looking for something you end up finding it when you stop looking for it. I have found immense value and inspiration in the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the writings of Alan Watts and Eknath Easwaran as well as philosophers like Ken Wilber whose philosophy of spiral dynamics in particular has helped me understand the direction my journey is taking me.

I know this blog started off as one that held a strictly Christian theme. That has certainly changed! I hope that readers will bear with this change as my perspective continually evolves and my understanding hopefully deepens.
As a result of my changing views, this blog has now reached a turning point in terms of the material it will cover and is heading in a new direction. I plan on continuing to write about different religions and philosophies even though I might not subscribe to them because I believe it's important for all of us to develop a deeper understanding and empathy into what people believe in order to begin to not only see the similarities that we all have with one another but also to have a healthy appreciation for the differences. 

 I also am looking forward to introducing some new content into this blog from other fields of study other than just religion and philosophy like, for example, neuroscience, psychology and astrophysics.  I think these areas of study are also essential in exploring when trying to ascertain a more complete view of reality.

I look forward to sharing my next post which will relate the experience I recently had of attending a Shin Buddhist meditation meeting.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments section! Thank you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Abandoning Pursuit

"On the one hand there must be the understanding that there is nothing, nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing that you can do to improve, transform, or better yourself. If you understand this completely you will realize that there is no such entity as 'you'. Then, if you have totally abandoned this ambition, you will be in the state of true meditation which comes over you spontaneously in wave after wave after wave of amazing light and bliss."
~ Alan Watts' paraphrasing words of wisdom from Krishnamurti, spoken in a private conversation
    (In My Own Way, p. 118)

I could not have come across this passage at a more spiritually ripe time. I read it this morning after the day in which I had the realization that to receive true understanding into the reality and nature of things what is needed is for me is to abandon the pursuit for it entirely. That to be filled with revelation and insight, it is necessary to be empty of any preconceived ideas as to how to attain it. For we are already full of what we need to know. It is merely a matter of flicking the light switch on.

One has to just find the switch, located somewhere on the walls lining the interior that lays within the corridors of one's consciousness. If the walls are covered with so many maps, pictures and mirrors reflecting shifting illusions resembling those of which can be found inside the fun house of a carnival, then one's inner eye can canvass its surface until , as the saying goes, "the cows come home" and still be lost as to its whereabouts. What is needed is to take down even that which appears beautiful, to strip all adornments mercilessly off the walls, so that all that is left is the switch itself. When turned on what appears makes what once lined those walls seem amusingly dull and artificial anyways.

The realization came to me that to simply be is all that one needs to do in order to realize the mysteries of life. In this state, intuition flows freely and  sadhana (spiritual disciplines), take whatever form is needed in that moment. I have often been perplexed and torn regarding which technique of mediation or contemplation I should be practicing for I am often drawn to different ones yet feel as if I should choose just one particular path. Enough worrying about technique, enough fretting about form. Form shapes itself from the space we create by simply allowing life to flow as it will in each eternal moment.  It is then one may be led to chant, to dance, to draw, to simply breathe or become a mirror reflecting the love and light that fills every crevice of one's consciousness.

I am realizing that there is no right or wrong way. There just, "is". And it is in this state that I can emphasize with the phrase from the old hymn, "All is Well with my Soul", with the exception that there is no soul. All is well with my Self, for it is finally allowed to simply be its Self. It's simply allowed to be, simply be, unfiltered. The thick and grimy film covering the mirror within is scraped clean and what is left is pure awareness.  And I realize that that is my true nature.

What a relief it is to simply witness life, this vast and infinite web of existence filled with shifting illusions that dance and flirt with one another. Taking center stage they playfully dart behind folds in a curtain that continually opens and closes much to the audience's delight and dismay, entirely dismissive of their cheers and sighs. It all makes me want to laugh. Laugh at how simple and obvious it all is and yet how complicated and artificial we tend to make it and how seriously we consider our  interpretations of it. We take them so seriously that we wage wars and impose death on others to hold fast to the illusions we choose to cling to. We hate others for selecting different illusions because it threatens our own sense of security because deep down we know that it is all bunk but we so desperately seek something permanent to give us hope and security.  That fact doesn't make me laugh though. The fact that our near obsession with our egos and investment in our own self-made delusions leads to so much misery and suffering. That makes me want to mourn and fiercely shake the slumbering world awake.

When listening to a beautiful song, or playing an instrument, you don't over-analyze what you are doing at that moment. You merely feel and allow your creativity to flow in that moment. In that moment you just are. Creating. In every moment, consciousness just is, creating. Filtering itself through the lenses of our varied egos and having fun with it. I'm beginning to realize that there is no point in over analyzing our deepest questions in order to extract the answers. That is just mere mental speculation based on our own presuppositions of the truth. That is our ego playing around with different variables, projecting interesting patterns into our awareness that might or might not have any relevance to the answers of our deepest inquiries. I'm starting to realize that the answer is simply found in allowing oneself to embrace fully each and every moment. It is then that we begin to, "know" the answers-not through means of the intellect but through experience. Not through words, but through revelation.

Words limit the expression of spiritual truths. That's why so many, from Alan Watts to Thomas Merton and countless of others, merely had fun with words and never took them too seriously. Words are symbols for concepts that define realities based on other people's or group's interpretations of reality and therefore are highly subjective.

I abhor hunting. I believe taking any life does injustice to the sacred nature of life itself. One illustration, however, that comes to mind right now is a hunter perched high above the forest floor atop a tree stand. He sits still, hears the sounds of nature reverberating through wood and brush, waiting patiently for his prey to come into view. Deer are smart and perceptive. Their senses and intuition finely tuned for survival. There is no point in noisily bumbling about blazing a trail through the wilderness in search of one. Try that and the closest deer will be miles off and you will never even see a glimpse of its sleek brown coat. There is no path that will lead you to one and there is no point in making your own path. All you need to do is sit and wait and the object you so desire will eventually appear.

I am discovering this is true with spiritual truths and knowing. It is our first instinct to go off in hungry pursuit for the answers we so desperately seek.  To locate and bring down the truth as if taking down a wild stag, pouncing upon it and savagely feasting upon the flesh of knowledge, sucking the marrow clean from revelation's bones. The seeker becomes wild in his pursuit for truth. But I am finding there is a much more dignified and effective way of coming about it rather than feverishly pursuing it like a rabid animal frothing at the mouth. Like the hunter in the tree stand, we merely need to tuck ourselves up in the tree of contemplation and wait. Patiently. Being ever mindful and allowing the truth to come and rise above the horizon and, in its light and almost painful in its brilliance, flood us with knowing.

When waiting, if we empty ourselves of expectations, a miraculous happening begins to occur. Thoughts, emotions and feelings arise and we realize we can objectively witness these elements that we once perceived as being "us". Because we can witness them, we are not them. Our reality cannot be bound and indeed transcends these superficial and illusory variables that define our ego. We are emptiness and emptiness is full.  Bursting with potential and energy-to create, to love, to heal, to transform. Our bodies and our egos are merely instruments in which the universe is playing itself out. Reinforced within me at this time is the very notion that we all, truly are, One.

In this context the ego need not be rejected as if it were something ugly and something needing to be discarded. As long as it is seen for what it truly is it can be appreciated. It is what gives our existence texture, flavor and color but should never be taken too seriously. The trick, I believe, is to have fun with the ego, but to not allow it to "stick" to our interior which reflects our true nature. To not buy into  and become attached to the illusion that it defines us. To let it work for us and not against us. Spiritual disciplines can be instrumental at this point in helping us maintain this  perspective.  As already mentioned, I have come to accept that whatever discipline we take on, at any given moment, should not be done because we feel we have a duty or obligation towards it but instead should merely be done because it is the best instrument at that given moment in time to be used to redirect our internal compasses back towards pointing itself to our true Self. 

I could write more but will end this post for now for it is already longer than most people would probably prefer a blog post to be. Greatly appreciated are your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Teaching Children the Gift of Not Knowing

The world manifests itself in majestic displays of colors and complex patterns. Creatures that compete with scenes found in the depths of our wildest imaginations already known and yet to be discovered creep, slither and swim through the realms of earth and sky. 

Even the most simplest of displays, a leaf in a child's outstretched hand, holds within it amazing wonders in terms of what lies deep within on a microcosmic molecular level.

Reality itself is a complex web of factors constantly interacting with one another and it is a marvel to behold. Oftentimes, our children can come to us with questions in regards to how things work and why things are the way they are. As parents, we wish to give them the answers they seek.  Sometimes it's difficult as a parent to concede to not knowing the answers to our children's most pressing questions. We feel as if we should. Many of us, instead of admitting to not knowing the answer, will make up overly simplistic responses in order to momentarily assuage their curiosities and redirect them towards other pursuits that don't challenge our sense of comfort. This approach, however, does not give them the actual answers and hinders the cultivation of critical thinking which our world so desperately needs its inhabitants to develop in order to solve the many problems it faces.

As I've wrestled with my own questions lately I have realized that admitting to myself that I don't know the answer to something does not produce within me the sense of self-defeat but rather it elicits a sense of liberation and hope that further intensifies my curiosity and intrigue. It also magnifies my appreciation of the infinite mysteries reality has to offer us. 

There's a sense of freedom in not knowing all the answers to life's questions. Freedom because by admitting we don't know something we are refusing to be bound by artificial answers which create the false illusion of knowing that keeps us confined within our own self-made prisons of ignorance.  By admitting that we don't know an answer we create the space in which we are given the freedom to earnestly seek for it and the hope of actually one day finding it.

My children, like most, are full of questions and one of our favorite activities lately is to have them nestle beside me in bed, laptop before us. I beckon them to ask anything that they have been wondering about and assure them that we will try to find out the answers together.  We've had lots of fun together and this pursuit has proven to be one of mutual discovery for all involved. Even when I do know the answers to questions posed, by looking deeper into the subjects at hand with them I have found my own understanding of such subjects broadening. 

I have been teaching my children that there are things that are simply not discovered yet, answers that aren't known, and that that is okay and actually a very exciting thing. If we knew everything there was to life there would be no mysteries. And there is truly a joy in discovering the mysteries of life. Not knowing is a gift because it opens the doorway to discovery.

I think it's important to admit to our children that there are things we don't know because this reinforces the fact that learning is a lifelong process. We are always students and our classroom is reality itself. 

Annika Harris is working on a new book that covers this very subject-of not knowing. I absolutely love the premise for this book and invite all of you to watch this short video describing it. Her publication,  I Wonder, will hopefully come out sometime soon. This is one book I plan on buying and reading with my children.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pride's Passing

Humility lit the spark
ego provided fertile timber
And on that sordid pile
of fleshy wood and flame
Pride breathed her last
'neath Love's fierce ember.

 "I'm happy and that makes me think that I'm either going crazy because who would be happy with all that I am going through..? Or on to something. I just have let go of so much of my ego lately that I can't help but feel my soul has a lighter load to bear. I feel a bit more liberated. "

That is what I wrote recently to a friend in response to the inquiry of how my day was going. Things have been challenging lately.  I know many of you can relate and have no doubt even more struggles than myself. It can take all the strength  we can muster sometimes to stay positive in and not get seduced by this reality of dancing illusions that catches our fancy and plunges us down the alleyways of delusion. To block the razor sharp arrows skillfully aimed and hurtling at the small pockets of peace we try to build around ourselves and our families. Often I take heart in the law of impermanence.... This too shall pass...this too shall pass...

An awareness of choice broke through my consciousness yesterday as I was taking a shower.  I have been in a difficult situation and it's easy sometimes to allow myself to get overwhelmed by it. To help solve the situation there were things I needed to do and say which would require me to lay down my pride and take up the banner of humility. Not always an easy thing to do. However, by doing so, the problem would find its solution and I would be helping someone I loved.

I thought about pride, how it's a symptom of the ego, and how it only binds us to suffering. I could tangibly feel and observe the energy of pride within me and it felt like a burden. I breathed it in deep and then exhaled and merely, with intention,  let it go...let it all go...Realizing its longevity in my consciousness was a choice. It was such a liberating moment spiritually. Immediately a deep peace came to me. Conceiving a beautiful joy it infected any seeds of negativity with spores of light that caused all darkness to flee in that moment.

It was a spiritual experience that provided me the hope and clarity I needed that morning. The clarity that I am not my thoughts, not my emotions, but that eternity rests within the center of my consciousness longing to shine outwards. The hope that, as with my attachment to pride I could someday recognize and release myself gradually of all other attachments that bind me to my ego. That, if I allowed it, this could be a real step in my spiritual progress. 

In the Bhagavad Gita 15.5 it says:

Not deluded by pride, free from selfish attachment and selfish desire, beyond the duality of pleasure and pain, ever aware of the Self, the wise go forward to that eternal goal.  (Eknath Easwaran's translation)

Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says in the purport to his translation of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, "When one is free from the delusion caused by pride, he can begin the process of surrender."

I have come to accept the truth that to find the Truth one must surrender one's self-will.  How else can we achieve the objectivity and clarity to perceive things as they truly are? Pride is certainly a component of self-will. This is an idea that has been echoed throughout the ages by the world's mystics. I have a long way to go and very well might never fully achieve this goal in this life, but I feel there is no greater endeavor for me to embark on than this one. The more we empty ourselves of self-will the more the mirrors within us that reflect the Divinity within will be scraped clean.
The more we empty ourselves the more we will be filled with God's love which we then can extend to those around us. The more we rid ourselves of the desires and attachments that we think bring us happiness but only breed misery the more we cultivate the desire within ourselves to draw closer to God and when that happens all around us benefit.
"As our desire to draw closer to the Lord within us deepens, it draws self-centered desires into it like tributaries into a great river. The power of that love swells until it becomes cataclysmic; we begin to inspire other people through the transformation we have wrought in ourselves."
~ Eknath Easwaran, Original Goodness
 Releasing oneself of pride clears the pathway to forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.  I feel really blessed to have witnessed the death of pride within me and only feel relieved at its passing. Now I just have about a million more other attachments to release myself of! :)


What  attachment(s) have you recently let go of or are working on releasing yourself of? Please share in the comments section! Thank you!

Friday, September 28, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sometimes I Wish

I always welcome the opportunity to  try something new so I decided to join 28 other bloggers in a "blog hop". The theme is "Sometimes I wish". I want to thank Janaki of Memoirs of a Homemaker for her wonderful introduction to my blog. Tomorrow please be sure to visit my fellow blogger Dave and his blog Mostly Sincere. He will be continuing the blog hop and I know you won't want to miss his post!

Here is my contribution to "Sometimes I Wish":

Sometimes I wish that there was nothing at all to wish. That all my heart desired was fulfilled and I could rest, contented, in the peace and presence of God my soul craves. That, like an instant download, my soul would be impregnated with a file that had access into the answers to the most profound mysteries of man.

Sometimes I wish the world, and my home in particular,  would hum in harmony continuously. Like a living St. Francis prayer where when one member experienced the seed of doubt planted in their hearts another would uproot it and carefully, hollowing out a small area of fertile soil, bury a seed of faith in its place. Where when there was injury and misunderstanding forgiveness would always be a natural response. Where when darkness would creep into the consciousness of one, the light from the others would dispel the icy shadows that steal peace and whisper lies. A place where love would bind the wounds that bleed out hope and compassion would be the poultice that cures the infections that cause bitterness to fester.


Sometimes as I come across those who judge me for what I believe or don't believe, what I drive or don't drive, where I live or don't live, what I wear or don't wear,  I wish that people would not allow the exteriors of life, sometimes simply beyond one's control, to define others. Instead I wish the whole world would take the words of Martin Luther King jr. to heart and judge others by the content of their characters.  

Sometimes I wish that more people would realize that within us all is the spark of God and together love has the potential to shine that much brighter. Together we could cure the madness that chokes this world. 

I think wishing is productive so far as it helps us realize our priorities and aspirations. But to wish for everything to be perfect is obviously impractical and an impossibility.  For life exists in opposites in this material world. There cannot be an up without a down, light without darkness, joy without sorrow. And it is in our moments of depravity in which we are prompted to dig deep within ourselves to find our greatest qualities and allow them to rise above the surface of our experience and act them out in this continual play called life. It is when darkness enters onto the stage that our souls recognize the need for light, it is when hope pirouettes into view to much applause that despair bids her adieu, when love descends from the rafters to illuminate every corner that the curtain closes on hate.

So, perhaps my final wish, is that my heart and mind would begin to live out the below verses in the Bhagavad Gita. That no matter what waves come crashing at my heart's shore I shall remain steadfast, my gaze and devotion, fixed on God. For then I can become an instrument of His peace and begin to not just have wishes but make some of them come true, at least in my own small corner of the world.

"That one is dear to me who runs not after the
pleasant or away from the painful, grieves not, lusts not,
but lets things come and go as they happen.

That devotee who looks upon friend and foe with
equal regard, who is not buoyed up by praise nor
cast down by blame, alike in heat and cold, pleasure
and pain, free from selfish attachments, the same
in honor and dishonor, quiet, ever full in harmony
everywhere, firm in faith-such a one is dear to me."
    Bhagavad Gita 12.17-19

Do you have any wishes? Or thoughts to mine? Please share!

Friday, September 7, 2012

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane author of http://samuelmichaels.com/. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Transient Nature of Sorrow

                                    A recent picture of Noah running along the beach of our town's lake.

I've achieved a new record for my blog. One that I'm not very keen on achieving. The month is nearly over and this is my first post and maybe last post for August. It's been a busy summer and I'm looking forward to settling down into a steady routine this fall as the kids get used to their new teachers and classes. My daughter will be going into third grade and my son will be entering his last year of preschool.

Though I believe I've made some spiritual progress lately in terms of my practices and understanding I have been struggling with some personal things. We all have them. As a result, in those off moments when I am not centered, a sense of unease and restlessness, of despair even, creeps into my consciousness. I have to remind myself of the transient nature of sorrow. The impermanence of our feelings and even our situations in life. Everything rises up and eventually fades away. Happiness, peace as well as pain are all temporary conditions.

The Bhagavad Gita tells  us that one who is fixed on God should remain steadfast and centered, devoted to Him, in all situations and conditions.

"They are dear to me who run not after the pleasant,
Or away from the painful, grieve not over the past, lust not today,
But let things come and go as they happen...
Alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain,
free from selfish attachments and self will,

Ever full in harmony everywhere,
Firm in faith-such as those who are dear to me.
But dearest to me are those who seek me

in faith and love as life's eternal goal."

 (Bhagavad Gita 12:17-19)

That is a fine philosophy to accept and I do accept it. However, when the storm's waves break upon the shores of our own lives it can be an easy reality to momentarily forget or put into active practice . My mantram has been instrumental during these times when I have had enough resolve to utter it, either inwardly or vocally. As soon as I reach out to it, as soon as I begin uttering the names of God, like an anchor it draws my consciousness beneath the turbulant waves of its surface down towards the still waters of its center. Slowing everything down.  One of Eknath Easwaran's eight points of spiritual practice is to slow things down. And the mantram certainly helps to do just that. And as a result greater clarity is achieved and oftentimes a tangible sense of peace.

This morning I woke with a heavy heart. My mind was everywhere other than where it should be-fixed in the present moment. Instead, not following my own advice, I let it be pulled this way and that; down the dark corridors of the past and up the shady paths of the future where eerie winds whistle through creaky pine trees that tower overhead, taunting me with their malevolent poise. They whisper to me. Daring me to go forward into the unknown which seems so dark and foreboding. 

Like my mind, my actions drifted; perusing this website and then another, half reading articles, half listening to songs on youtube. Knowing that I should get my japa mala beads out and chant or perhaps sit still and practice passage meditation. Instead, I waved aside my spiritual disciplines and settled into the mediocre. Waving aside the only medicine that could take away the problematic symptoms that fester within and begin to bring healing ointment to the very roots of the problems that cause them.  I began to wonder if I am some kind of emotional masochist. Why feel such feelings when one doesn't have to? Why dwell when you can overcome your condition? Perhaps the reason is because sometimes we all just lack strength to pick up the medicine and drink it down when it is before us. It's much easier to just lay there and look at it. Maybe we could call it spiritual inertia.

And then my son came wandering downstairs. When I saw his small frame drifting down the staircase and eventually his big blue eyes peeping around the corner of the banister it was like all despair was scraped clean from my consciousness. I held out my arms and it was as if I embraced love itself. I held him close and inhaled the scent of his sandy blond hair while feeling the strong body of a boy that four years ago sprang forth from my own body kicking and screaming.

All ten pounds of him were placed in my arms and I remember feeling a sense of relief for I was never quite sure how he was going to come out. He was conceived during a dark time in our family's history; a time of stress, a time one wouldn't consider very compatible to that of nurturing a baby in one's womb. Mother's are supposed to happy when expecting but I was anything but and feared how the child growing within me was going to come out. If he'd be a reflection of our external circumstances at the time. If he'd come out frail and small. No, not our Noah. He came out like a viking and has been thriving and conquering all that is before him ever since. Charming and sweet, spontaneous and passionate, intelligent and agile. Walking at nine months he masters everything he endeavors. If I had to describe him in one word I would choose the word: driven. 

Now holding my son in my arms this morning I felt peace, hope and pride. And a deep, deep sense of gratitude. And gratitude, like a hammer, has a way of smashing through the illusions of the material that bind us to suffering, allowing a holy light to filter through to our awareness.

I had another post I had been working on and thought of publishing today but instead wrote a poem about this morning's moment I had with Noah and thought I'd share that instead. The intro to this poem is almost a post all of its own. That was not my intention but just sort of happened.  The poem isn't edited but I figure if I don't share it now I won't share it and I felt like sharing...So it is as it is...simple as that. I already caught that I repeated the same word twice in the first stanza, which annoys me. More important than the form, I think, is the poem's sentiment.

Hope you enjoy! 

~ Namaste ~


Hopeless as I rise

until I look into your eyes
it's like a million suns rise
drowning all my heart's cries.

Wrapped up in gentle bliss,
What can be more pure than this?
Innocence at dawn's first kiss,
A love my heart cannot dismiss

Brings my soul to its knees,
to the Author of mysteries.
May my heart never be blind to see
Each moment pregnant with Love that frees.

Thoughts? Please share them in the comments section. Thank you!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Love's Sweet Nectar: A Poem

 " O Lord, in whom alone we find peace
May we see your divine Self and be freed
From all impure thoughts and all fear.

O Lord, from whom we receive the mantram,
As a weapon to destroy our self-will,
Reveal yourself, protector of all."

~ Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.5-6
(Translation by Eknath Easwaran)

Like an arrow my mantram has buried itself deep within me. Shattering illusory layers of ego it has caused my spirit to be flooded with a current of light and love that has been released from deep within. It's as if an underground spring of freshly flowing water from eternity itself has been struck and now passes through me, nourishing my parched soul with its transcendental nectar. 

There is something so holy and precious regarding the names of God. Upon every tongue in every corner of the world vibrations in praise of a God who is universal rise up in devotion. The names might differ, but they are all directed towards the same reality. Recognition of the Eternal. I have found that in my case the names of God found in the mahamantra draw my heart deeper into the realization of God and His infinite nature and  begin to connect me to His love. I have learned that through chanting and mantram repetition that there is so much that is illusory that at first glance we take as reality, as permanent. That to find true peace we must destroy that which binds us to these illusions. The juncture at which our souls are bound to the material is the fertile womb which conceives all the miseries and suffering we experience.  To see these illusions for what they are is to find true freedom in the presence of the Eternal from where our souls first came.

It's hard for me not to write about a practice that has provided me with so much spiritual inspiration. Below is a poem I recently wrote and included my mantram within it. Next post will have to do with something other than mantrams...it's a film review...and I am looking forward to everyone's thoughts on it. I will try to provide more diversity in my posts in the future but for now they have reflected my amazement towards the deep effect that mantram repetition/chanting the holy names of God can have on one spiritually.

I hope you enjoy the poem. I'd love your thoughts.Thank you!

Love's Sweet Nectar

When love washes away all pain,
When knowing God is your only gain,
When His mercy remove's illusion's stain;
Your soul learns to dance with the rain.

There is no greater feeling than This-
Being held by the hands of Eternal Bliss.
The nectar is so sweet to taste,
You run into His arms in all haste.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

When he holds you in His hands
And whispers to you of greater lands;
Those woven by His higher energy
Where from the material one is finally free.

When He says, yes this child is mine,
And His peace washes over you sublime;
Your inner heart kneels before His presence within,
The mundane becomes just background din.

True freedom is conceived from a soul who surrenders,
To hearts devoted to Him, His Mercy He renders.
Everything we need is in His holy names
They lead us back to Godhead from where we first came.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Boredom's Abode

Recently the realization dawned on me that it's been quite awhile since I've been bored. In the past there would be periods of time when I'd be infused with a restless energy and yet see no avenue in which to channel it. Even when I seemed to have plenty of legitimate things to do. Boredom would permeate deep into my consciousness, dulling my awareness and stifling my sense of peace. I'm not sure about anyone else but I particularly don't find boredom to be a favorable condition.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines boredom as, "the state of being weary or restless through lack of interest." We are restless yet are unable to focus and become engaged on any one particular pursuit. Boredom is a condition that has the potential to breed misery as it gives rise to dark waters thick with obscure anxieties and random thoughts that infect our actions with their toxicity causing us to bear bitter fruit. I wonder how many destructive habits are first conceived in  boredom's fertile womb which teems turbulently with a quagmire of restless energy impregnated with the mundane and illusory?

I have been practicing passage meditation, mindfulness and mantram repetition for some time now and though I have had glimpses of insights and have encountered sporadic spiritual experiences and often share those here, I had not realized until recently how my whole perception of life has been altered. Not just my perception of life but how I am living life itself.  In a way much like how one would adjust the settings on a telescope to sharpen the image of the object desired to be viewed, both my gross senses-those which perceive the tangible manifestations of God's energy playing itself out in the material world and my inner senses-the receptors in my consciousness able to receive and open up to His Divine presence, have been sharpened and defined. Making life anything but boring.

To have one-pointed attention at the task in hand is part of Eknath Easwaran's eight point program . To experience life, now, as it happens, and not be caught up by fleeting thoughts, brings rise to an amazing transformation of perspective.  Nature itself brings my heart to its knees in wonder at the miracles and wonders that resound in every cell and complex process that defines our physical world. Every leaf, every droplet of water, brings a sense of awe. Even in life's most darkest moments I am finding appreciation and beauty. And  hope. For with each new breath we take is a new beginning. I am learning that to be present fully is to live fully.

Being fully present not only reaps the benefit of being able to view each moment with a renewed sense of gratitude but using that technique to apply it in pursuing our tasks helps those tasks, however seemingly banal, become more engaging. Not being caught up in non-related thoughts and being subjected to a state of "monkey mind", we are able to conserve greater amounts of energy to devote to the task at hand. This causes us to perform our actions with greater precision and devotion while noticing the details that we once might have missed. 

It is often in the intervals between specific tasks where we get swept up in thoughts that toss us to and fro like the waves of the ocean. Battering our fragile consciousnesses against merciless rocks that jut out within the landscape of our soul's interior.  It's easy at times like those to become too fragmented and distracted to ever become focused enough to be firmly situated in a state that is fixed on God or the present. At that point it's easy to become restless. What to do, what to do..and we look towards trivial and mundane pursuits to appease the restless energy that taunts us.  Times like these can get the best of anyone. I know they've gotten the best of me in the past. One common example I think that many of us can be subject to, is to eat when we are bored. I know exactly when my children are getting bored. They ask for a snack! Of course there are times when they do need a snack but if they've recently had one and I can visibly see their interest in an activity tapering off I can almost guarantee that soon I will hear a request for one! Over-eating and other unsavory habits are certainly prompted along by boredom.

This is where my mantram has saved me. I could write about it all day. It has become so integral in every area of my life. Many a time it has proven to be the savior of my sanity as it has anchored me to peace and bliss. Between moments of one-pointed attention I draw forth my mantram.  Like a sword it slices through illusion freeing me from spiritual lethargy. Depending on the atmosphere where I find myself, if I'm in public or alone, I either chant it vocally or internally. And if I am alone I often implement the aid of my japa beads to keep count and maintain focus.  Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare  Meditating on the names of God, I find myself anchored to the present and lift my thoughts and heart up to Him. In return,  a sense of clarity and peace wash my heart clean of its residual stains of attachment and I feel as if my heart is drinking the most luscious elixir, one that could only find its source from  the Divine. Such a transcendental exchange leaves boredom's abode safely tucked into the shadowy folds of the past.

In conclusion, the absence of boredom was an unexpected, albeit very welcomed,  byproduct of my spiritual disciplines. So my personal formula to eradicate boredom is a combination of mindfulness and chanting/mantram repetition. Do you have a method that helps you stay focused and attentive throughout your day? I'd love to hear it in the comments section. Thanks!


Thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Please share in the comments section. Thank you!

* More information on mantram meditation/chanting can be found  on my previous post: here