“For starters, there is no such country as “India,” and not a single scripture or text in the whole of South Asia has ever mentioned this name. The true name of the country has always been Bharata, an ancient Sanskrit term which means “engrossed (rata) in divine illumination (bha)”—referring to a land which has ever specialized in the science of spiritual illumination above all.

Just as there is no India, there are no Hindus or Hinduism either. The religion had previously been known as Sanatana dharma (the eternal law), Vaidika dharma (law of the Vedas), Arya dharma (the noble religion), or Manava dharma (the religion of mankind).”

Read the full article here by Hariharananda Kriya Yoga

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There is no Yoga without ahimsa (non-harming). Just by breathing we are part of a cycle of life and destruction. The cells in our very own bodies are dying. It is an inevitable part of our existence that harm will be done. What we can do to avoid it we must. We must eat but we can choose to hurt less by eating vegetarian foods for example. We can pollute less by walking.

With every action we should think how we can live with the least harm done- not just to ourselves but to any and every being on this planet.

This is an intricate and complex and even paralyzing idea. That is why they give us guidelines in yoga for how to live our lives.

Read the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras and Ayurvedic texts. But in a down-home personal way, just inform yourself about the world today and naturally you’ll be inspired to do the right thing….

Thank you Josh Fox for bringing the issue of Fracking to our attention.

Education is the first step before action. Action is where we have the opportunity to live according to Dharma.

Weekly Step 3: Rest

June 21, 2012

It is my belief that many western women are getting menstrual cramps and bad moods because they are not resting when they really need to. In fact, I feel it is essential for us all to tune in to ourselves and take rest. When you’re in the whirlpool you can’t see the chaos spinning around you because you’re spinning too. But when the water gets calm the dust can finally settle and clarity is unveiled. So too, when we take rest, solitude, silence and check out, we allow ourselves to let the chaotic, the mundane, the annoying, and all the ways we are caught up in our lives to finally settle down. When this happens, there will emerge little by little more clarity about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, whatever you choose to look into.

Remember however that after we stop shaking the jar, the liquid still moves for a while before it settles, so give yourself some time if you can to see the results.

I know some people don’t stop because they are afraid of what they might find if they did: the monsters in their minds or the fears they hold tucked down becoming clearer and in that clarity uglier. But the truth is, that is only a fear too.  Clarity within oneself is nothing to fear, it is an unimaginable strength and power. To know oneself and to be clear about what is within yourself and what is not is a skill you deserve.

The subtle strength and power born from clarity of the self needs not show it’s power over others nor does it cower away from the projected power of others. I believe Mahatma Gandhi exemplifies this skill quite well.

I suggest for the next week you commit to taking rest, silence & solitude.  Let the dust settle while you retreat. How? Just sit on your porch and gaze at the fields for a while. Shell some beans for half a day. Do something and nothing. Just allow yourself to take a break from anything mentally, emotionally and/or physically engaging. Take a break from social calls, internet, phones, family. Whatever are considered your duties, try to get a break. If you do meditation, this is a perfect opportunity to re0commit to your practice.  Make a schedule. Take a long weekend and make your ideal schedule for three whole days of solitude. What would you do with yourself? Not to check anything off your list of to-do’s but do the things you never put on that list of to-do’s. Like taking a walk.

If immediately you can not get so much time alone then make a plan. Until that plan you can devote 30 minutes each day or whatever is available in your schedule until you can take that longer break. In reality, rest is in the mind these days. If you can rest your mind and let everything flow around you while remaining undisturbed, that is ideal. But, for most of us it helps if we can settle the things around us to help settle us inside. Do what you can. Everything counts.

And now, for my three long days and nights of total rest…… My cocoon time.

Weekly Step 2: Let go

May 14, 2012

Really, just let go. Whatever it may be, however right you may be, and no matter how hurtful/bad/wrong/etc…

I read this sentence a few weeks ago and it struck a chord:
“Let go, let go, let go of me, little dog, and I will let go of you”.

Are there things you wish would transform or go away about yourself? So called demons or ego that pull you in directions you really don’t want to go?

Sometimes we feel like victims to these forces, but the truth is we are holding on to them and until we let go of them, until we empty our pockets, they will always be there. We are holding on to so much. For example, we want to let go of anger but when someone tries to hurt us, and we know we are right about it, anger is our ‘justified’ reaction to shield us. In order to let go of it we would have to face our pain and our feeling of vulnerability. That’s hard and we think it’s less painful than holding on to our anger/ grudge/ fill-in-the-blank. The question is: Is it?

This week- relax, breathe, and let go.. no matter what it is or what you think about it.

A phenomenal book to help you with this week’s step: ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer.

He advises the following:
1. Observe, don’t participate.
2.Don’t feed the energy whirlpools.
3. Relax and release from the pull (the urge to go there). The moment you feel your energy or your mind shift: relax your shoulders and the area around your heart.
4. Open your heart in face if anything and everything. Let it flow through you.

One step at a time. This week, let it go.

Please, share your experience!

How to climb a mountain? One step at a time.

This week, we will focus on looking within. As often as you can and at least every hour we will check-in with ourselves.

That’s it.
You can try….
How am I doing right now?
Where am I?

Not your mental head, not your emotions, just the I that is always there with you.

Often we are in ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’ land- ‘I can’t believe she said/did ___’. Now whenever you find your attention absorbed in thoughts and emotions about others, bring it back in. What about me?

This is ‘I’ week.
Find yourself and don’t let go.

I always found small goals to be more attractive in my mind than really big ones- regarding the personal growth sector. Run three miles every day or run three every day this week only… invariably I will be more committed to the shorter term commitment. It always feels less daunting and like I will get a prize or something at the end. Open-ended goals seem to lose their holding power in my mind.
In that spirit I have undertaken weekly goals for self-improvement. Many of these are simple and universal ideas from the great spiritual traditions. We read about them, agree with them, and then hope we’ve already got enough of them in practice and that’s where it usually ends.
Each Monday is the start of a new week.
This week has been “Silence and Introspection”. Like a little mantra whenever I feel the urge to chit chat or complain about something or argue my opinion or watch other people doing, thinking, acting (and even judging what I observe); I start reminding myself of my goal this week and allow it to soothe me back into shape.

It has been mostly very successful- even when I didn’t keep my mouth quiet, I was able to reflect later if it would have been better to have kept to myself or say what I did.

These are all about looking at ourselves in closer detail and with manageable steps for spiritual or call it human progress/purification.
The good news is we can return to any one week and try it again later if we really felt it was good for us. But keep the time frames short so they don’t get lost in the closet and stay fresh in our minds and consciousness.

Do you have any suggestions for a week?

and, no I did not fall off the gravitational force of the planet. I am still living here on the Indian subcontinent.

I haven’t had many thoughts- well, inspirational thoughts- to share. That’s it. Sometimes the choices we make, the things we truly desire and then come true, turn out to be a little different then we had imagined. So that’s where I have been, under the microscope. Peering into the DNA of what I am all about.

Other than philosophical, spiritual and political musings I have taken to textile arts. I am learning and working in the ‘material’ world. I’ve been wondering what this blog is all about and where to take it from here. Until I have that answer, please browse and enjoy. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this blog, let me know what you like or would like to see.

Peace be with you.

Like a Bank Clerk

December 29, 2011

There is a wonderful Indian analogy and advice for yoga practitioners, indeed for all.

Be like a bank teller.

When the clerk receives two thousand dollars he does not get bloated with pride and ego. Nor does he cry when he hands out four thousand dollars to another client.
A bank teller remains equal tempered in his position, steady as things come and go. He doesn’t have sticky hands, clinging to the money.

We too should be steady as things (materials, relationships, money, health etc.) come and go in our lives, not clinging or repelling anything.

And by doing this, we will always be content with whatever comes and whatever may go realizing that our happiness does not depend on either of these two.

The Monk and the Sword

December 20, 2011

This is a powerful story I have been told a few times here in India. It goes something like this….

There is a Monk in the forest who has relinquished all worldly life and material possessions. He is only living for his sadhana practice, a practice of stilling his mind from any thoughts. One day a man comes through the forest and meets the monk. He asks the monk, who is sitting under a tree in meditation, if he could leave his sword there for a while and if the monk will watch over it until he returns. The monk doesn’t see any problem with that and tells him to leave it there by the tree.

Some days have passed with the sword sitting there next to the monk. The monk goes to fetch some water from the nearby river. He takes only a couple steps and looks back at the sword. He thinks, ‘what if someone takes it while I am gone? That man would come back and be upset with me. I should carry it with me.” He doesn’t even know how to hold a sword so he takes it awkwardly and carefully to the river.

One day, on his way to the river a thought arises in his mind: “Oh, what if I hold the sword like this, as the soldiers do?” and places his hand on the handle. He feels the sword and thinks to himself how nice it is to hold the sword. With the sword in his hand, a thought enters his mind that he should see how this sword is used,  so he just takes one swing and cuts a stalk of a plant growing out of the earth.

In the following days, that man does not yet come to take his sword back, and the monk who was sitting quietly in the forest has started to cut down many things. Even he has begun to kill animals. When the stranger finally comes to reclaim his sword, the man who was once on a path of meditation and liberation is now a mighty hunter and ‘king’ of the forest.

This story is told to illustrate the powerful effect objects have on our psyche. There are many traditional Indian customs around material objects (mostly lost today). If a person came to your house and wanted to give you something but it was something you didn’t need or want, they would say ‘You keep it for me. If it is with you, it is the same as if it is with me.” This dually acknowledges that we are one, a fundamental idea behind Indian philosophy and culture. Very strictly it was their practice not to let one single pin inside their house if it was not necessary. Quite contrary to what we see today across the globe.

They had good insight as to why such rigorous boundaries should be maintained. Even a pin will have an influence over my mind. According to the Indians, all objects were created for an intention of use. That object inherently desires to be used as it was intended for. This is how the sword laying simply under the tree with the monk draws his thoughts to it and how he is pulled by it’s main purpose of existence: to kill.

I have experienced this and I have seen it with other people.

The computer is a very strong tool we have created. I left mine in storage when I came to India. I didn’t have a computer in my house for over a year. I read books and did other activities that made me very happy. Until…now. Now we have a computer and internet. When I enter the room where it is kept I feel this desire, without any impending reason, to use it, to check my email, write on this blog, research some topics etc.

I agree that we should carefully evaluate the impact of any object we take into our homes. Though they may be very good tools for us, such as the computer, what is its effect on us? Should we keep it in the home or elsewhere?

Our homes are filled with materials. Why are we so happy when we do a spring cleaning and throw stuff out? Would we be even happier if we took that up to a new level and really evaluate what is essential, keeping only those items?

They say here that by keeping any material we are then tied to protecting it. It causes us to develop attachments which lead to sorrows if we loose these objects and thus require many efforts to protect them from being lost. If we can lessen our material life, we will have more money from our jobs, less stress about protecting the materials we own and hopefully detachment that will free us from suffering when materials are lost or broken. We will have a clear mind that is not under the influence of objects which are not appropriate for us.

Traditionally an Indian would never ‘Buy two, get one free”.

They would buy one.

Dear India,

I come from America. Many of you tell me how wonderful you think our culture is, especially the youth.

I can not help but see much of my culture influencing yours: television programs, fashion styles, popularity of eating in hotels, mass migration of Indians to America and Europe for jobs and education, corporate style businesses, politics, popular love marriages, shopping malls and even skin whitening creams.

But as these new fashions come I am watching what they are replacing. The English language replaces native languages in schools. White skin is prized over dark shades in advertisements and TV serials. It is rare that I have seen a woman under 30 years wearing a saree or a man in dhoti and upper-cloth.

There is a revolution happening in my country right now. Many cities in each of our 50 states are protesting our existing infrastructure. An estimated 951 cities in 82 countries are participating in this rebellion of the globalization of consumer culture. Why are we, the richest culture in the world, so unhappy?

I feel in some way responsible for the changes in India, and because I was born and raised in that culture I can share some information with you. My culture is not what they tell you on Television, in advertisements or in Hollywood. Journalist Chris Hedges describes it in the following statements:

The corporate culture, epitomized by Goldman Sachs, has seeped into our classrooms, our newsrooms, our entertainment systems and our consciousness. This corporate culture has stripped us of the right to express ourselves outside of the narrowly accepted confines of the established political order. It has turned us into compliant consumers.

Profit. Globalization. War. National security. These are the words they use to justify the snuffing out of tiny lives, acts of radical evil. Goldman Sachs’ commodities index is the most heavily traded in the world. Those who trade it have, by buying up and hoarding commodities futures, doubled and tripled the costs of wheat, rice and corn. Hundreds of millions of poor across the globe are going hungry to feed this mania for profit. The technical jargon, learned in business schools and on trading floors, effectively masks the reality of what is happening—murder.

Get back into your cages, they are telling us. Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television. Invest your emotional energy in the vast system of popular entertainment. Run up your credit card debt. Pay your loans. Be thankful for the scraps we toss. Chant back to us our phrases about democracy, greatness and freedom. Vote in our rigged political theater. Send your young men and women to fight and die in useless, unwinnable wars that provide corporations with huge profits.

My ancestors, the natives, who lived in harmony with the land predicted the outcome of the European settlement in America:

“…Either the White Man would bring peace and harmony or attempt to totally destroy the Indian’s [Native American’s]  way of life and take all his possessions and the land. If the latter occurred, (which is clearly the case today) there would come a time when the [Native American] people would appear to be almost non-existent. Yet, one day, they would rise out of nowhere, as the white race is falling due to their own ignorance and destruction, to lead a spiritual revolution, so all people on this continent would become attuned to the Great Spirit. To hold fast to the traditional ways even if it seemed that everything was against them. To protect Four Corners at all cost, because there is great power under the land that if it is allowed to escape, great destruction would result. Today, the Indians [Native Americans] are going through the test to hold onto their traditional ways and protect the land. The White Man’s society is trying to swallow the Indians [Native Americans] up. Many of their people, especially the young, are falling prey to the White Man’s ways.” (1)

Unfortunately my ancestor’s words were true but few listened. Now, more and more people in my country are giving up money and rich lifestyles,  changing their priorities and values, choosing to live with less material comforts in hopes to regain health and happiness. They are coming to India to learn these invaluable lessons because we have lost it.

Maybe you feel you are getting richer by following the model of the west, that your lives are improving. Now you have cars for transportation, television entertainment, and you can buy more materials that, for now, make your life easier. Our model wants to turn every Indian into a consumer who will spend their hard-earned money on objects that they don’t really need by creating unnecessary desire. There is documented research that compares consumerism and happiness of people. The ones who consume the most are the least happy in the world. If you are happy as you are, you do not need anything. Our system thrives on keeping our people in a state of unhappiness and discontent with their lives, so that greedy people who worship money over God will get rich. My culture may appear to have given you prosperity, science, education and healthcare advances but I beg you to please consider the costs and disadvantages.

Where have all the oxen gone?

We have sold you a system which relies entirely on a limited supply of fossil fuels, a system that creates enormous waste rather than food for other creatures, a system which is cutting down your forests and polluting your Bharat. Our culture developed chemical weapons for wars. The companies who make these chemicals wanted more profits so now they have convinced our farmers and yours that we should spray these warfare chemicals onto our food. Every family in India is affected by the greed of such corporations. Most chemicals (including food preservatives), most of our science and medical practices has not been time-tested, particularly not tested on humans but we are seeing the results and they are not good. India, you have the capacity to be a great leader of the world, but not by following our footsteps- we are collapsing.

Please turn back now before it is too late, before your parents and grandparents die and there is no one to help you find your way. My culture is a dead-end road. Innovation is not a bad thing but look to your elders and ancestors for advice. Your traditions have been tested over time for centuries. In fact, India is the oldest living culture, dating back to the rshis. There is a reason why your traditions exist even if you do not know why today. Follow them and educate yourself on why they are so important and why my culture is coming to India to learn them. Be proud of your wise culture and traditions because once the thread from your ancestors to you is broken, it will not be like before and you will someday regret it. Your mother and father will someday die. If you do not learn your mother’s cooking, which came from your grandmother and her mother, what will your children eat? Who will cook these wonderful dishes if you don’t learn them yourself? Your ancestor’s knowledge is your greatest asset and heritage. What will your western educations and lifestyles give your children in comparison?

My money is worth more than yours, my house is probably bigger and more well-built, our roads are better, my rice and daals are clean from insects and stones and so many more comforts. What I am telling you is that my children will not have the same comforts in their future. But you India, you still have time to look at the big picture and make the wise and sustainable choices for your ancestors and your future generations.

India, you are rich. Richer than all the western countries combined. Rich in priceless treasures your ancestors have struggled to preserve for you. No one can take these treasures away from you. They are lost when you forget them.

Love,

America.

 

 

 

For more information and resources:

(1) Transmission by Native American Elder Thomas Bancyaca

http://www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/prophecy/banyacya.html

Speech at the United Nations: http://www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/prophecy/hopi.html

(2) Declaration by my people against existing infrastructure:

http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/

(3) India ranks higher score than any western country on the World Happiness Index:

http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

(4) Chris Hedges Columns: http://www.truthdig.com

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