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.

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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

I finished reading some of Chris Hedges recent articles posted online. They are written like a love letter to someone dear to him. They captivate and draw me in with the passion, heart and accuracy of his words. Though he is a learned man, quite intellectual, his writing is such that this is not stale journalism- rather it pours out from the bones raising prickly hairs on my arms with such accuracy. This is resonance. Please see the following excerpts I find more than exceptional…

A glass tower filled with people carefully selected for the polish and self-assurance that come with having been formed in institutions of privilege, whose primary attributes are a lack of consciousness, a penchant for deception and an incapacity for empathy or remorse. The curious onlookers behind the windows and we, arms locked in a circle on the concrete outside, did not speak the same language. 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. These are words designed to make systems operate, even systems of death, with a cold neutrality. Peace, love and all sane affirmative speech in temples like Goldman Sachs are, as W.H. Auden understood, “soiled, profaned, debased to a horrid mechanical screech.”

We seemed to have lost, at least until the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, not only all personal responsibility but all capacity for personal judgment. Corporate culture absolves all of responsibility. This is part of its appeal. It relieves all from moral choice. There is an unequivocal acceptance of ruling principles such as unregulated capitalism and globalization as a kind of natural law. The steady march of corporate capitalism requires a passive acceptance of new laws and demolished regulations, of bailouts in the trillions of dollars and the systematic looting of public funds, of lies and deceit.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. We are forced to surrender our voice. These corporate machines, like fraternities and sororities, also haze new recruits in company rituals, force them to adopt an unrelenting cheerfulness, a childish optimism and obsequiousness to authority. These corporate rituals, bolstered by retreats and training seminars, by grueling days that sometimes end with initiates curled up under their desks to sleep, ensure that only the most morally supine remain. The strong and independent are weeded out early so only the unquestioning advance upward. Corporate culture serves a faceless system. It is, as Hannah Arendt writes, “the rule of nobody and for this very reason perhaps the least human and most cruel form of rulership.”

Our political class, and its courtiers on the airwaves, insists that if we refuse to comply, if we step outside of the Democratic Party, if we rebel, we will make things worse. This game of accepting the lesser evil enables the steady erosion of justice and corporate plundering. It enables corporations to harvest the nation and finally the global economy, reconfiguring the world into neofeudalism, one of masters and serfs. This game goes on until there is hardly any action carried out by the power elite that is not a crime. It goes on until corporate predators, who long ago decided the nation and the planet were not worth salvaging, seize the last drops of wealth. It goes on until moral acts, such as calling for those inside the corporate headquarters of Goldman Sachs to be tried, see you jailed, and the crimes of financial fraud and perjury are upheld as lawful and rewarded by the courts, the U.S. Treasury and the Congress. And all this is done so a handful of rapacious, immoral plutocrats like Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs who sucks down about $250,000 a day and who lied to the U.S. Congress as well as his investors and the public, can use their dirty money to retreat into their own Forbidden City or Versailles while their underlings, basking in the arrogance of power, snap amusing photos of the rabble outside their gates being hauled away by the police and company goons.

Those who resist—the doubters, outcasts, renegades, skeptics and rebels—rarely come from the elite. They ask different questions. They seek something else—a life of meaning. They have grasped Immanuel Kant’s dictum, “If justice perishes, human life on Earth has lost its meaning.” And in their search they come to the conclusion that, as Socrates said, it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. This conclusion is rational, yet cannot be rationally defended. It makes a leap into the moral, which is beyond rational thought. It refuses to place a monetary value on human life. It acknowledges human life, indeed all life, as sacred. And this is why, as Arendt points out, the only morally reliable people when the chips are down are not those who say “this is wrong,” or “this should not be done,” but those who say “I can’t.”

There are streaks in my lungs, traces of the tuberculosis that I picked up around hundreds of dying Sudanese during the famine I covered as a foreign correspondent. I was strong and privileged and fought off the disease. They were not and did not. The bodies, most of them children, were dumped into hastily dug mass graves. The scars I carry within me are the whispers of these dead. They are the faint marks of those who never had a chance to become men or women, to fall in love and have children of their own. I carried these scars to the doors of Goldman Sachs. I had returned to living. Those whose last breaths had marked my lungs had not. I placed myself at the feet of these commodity traders to call for justice because the dead, and those who are dying in slums and refugee camps across the planet, could not make this journey. I see their faces. They haunt me in the day and come to me in the dark. They force me to remember. They make me choose sides. As the metal handcuffs were fastened around my wrists I thought of them, as I often think of them, and I said to myself: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, I am free at last.”

Read the full article: Finding Freedom in Handcuffs

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. Stand by mutely as our bipartisan congressional supercommittee, either through consensus or cynical dysfunction, plunges you into a society without basic social services including unemployment benefits. Pay for the crimes of Wall Street.

The process of defection among the ruling class and security forces is slow and often imperceptible. These defections are advanced through a rigid adherence to nonviolence, a refusal to respond to police provocation and a verbal respect for the blue-uniformed police, no matter how awful they can be while wading into a crowd and using batons as battering rams against human bodies. The resignations of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s deputy, Sharon Cornu, and the mayor’s legal adviser and longtime friend, Dan Siegel, in protest over the clearing of the Oakland encampment are some of the first cracks in the edifice. “Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators,” Siegel tweeted after his resignation. 

Read the full article: This Is What Revolution Looks Like

Thank You Chris for using your extensive and refined skills for the people of this planet, the earth herself and all the living creatures.

#Occupy The Self

November 20, 2011

Our ego is the the 1% and the heart is the suppressed 99%.

What is the use of tearing down Bank of America when we ourselves have similar corruptions in our own minds, greedy and deceiving not only our friends and families but even our very selves? What are our self interests and what is the ‘self’ in which these interests claim to serve?

Numerous examples are there….

Without any solid evidence we blame others and even prosecute them in our minds, words or actions. We ourselves don’t want to be wrong or to take responsibility. ‘Who took my _____?’ Then we discover later that actually we misplaced ____ ourselves. Often even after recognizing our error, we won’t apologize because of pride.

We’ll interrupt others speaking because our ego feels it is more important. Observe how the television, advertisements, etc. talk to us, not with us. There is generally a one-way communication channel with the 1%.

The 1% hungers without satisfaction for more. We receive gifts, food, shelter, money, clean air to breathe and earth to walk on without any gratitude or recognition. We feel we deserve what we get that is good. What we have is never enough- there is a new this or a latest that which we are craving and consuming. We too are trapped in the mindset of exponential growth syndrome, insatiable hunger. The corporations are no different, increasing bonuses and profits without any sight of satisfaction or a sense of what is enough.

We give gifts not from our hearts with humbleness, we give gifts because we want something in return. Corporations give us a token, discount, or a ‘sign up for a free ____’, so they snatch us and our wallets to spend spend spend. Where has generosity gone? Where is genuine customer care?

Though we may acknowledge the fuel-burning jets are contributing to global warming and all it’s implications, we still can’t restrain ourselves at the grocery store from buying those out-of-season specialties that have come from those very jets. Often we are completely deluding ourselves when we think we’re better than anyone else because we shop locally or organically. Look in your pantry. Who among us doesn’t consume sugar, chocolate, coffee, tea, and countless other luxury commodities which have now become to us ‘essential’ commodities.

What about our healthcare? Do we take care of our own health or contract it out to others? Are we serving the 99% when we push our bodies to stay up late for a t.v. show, to over-exert ourselves, to consume take-out and too-good-to-resist junk food? Are we taking care of our ‘subordinates’ health like our children when we don’t have time to make their food and serve them processed foods?

Sometimes we keep our selves misinformed under the guise that ‘ignorance is bliss’. We are afraid of the Truth and what changes that may imply. If we acknowledge certain things are simply not working for us, we will be obligated to change those things. So really, our ____ isn’t so bad. If we really look, we know. Of course we know but we choose to ignore or we control the ‘media’ input to ourselves. Likewise, if the corporations acknowledge even a fraction of the Truths about themselves and their actions, they would be forced to change.

 

Let’s not be hypocrites. Ought we to ‘fight the good fight’ on both frontiers? Let us redefine the world we want to inhabit by redefining ourselves and leading by example. Look with scrutiny at the truth of our own state. Leave no stone unturned. If everyone led this movement by example of the very principles which we are asking for from others, there certainly would be a shift and that shift would be within the hearts of the people. Why not take this outrage as a great opportunity to practice. Practice generosity. Practice Truthfulness. Practice non violence in your thoughts. Practice all the noble qualities.

Ghandi’s wise advice: “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Before anything

October 20, 2011

Before anything:
Before the universe was created
Before you were born
Before a thought arises
Before a storm
Before a vibration ripples through the air
Before the meditative state

Before ANYTHING.

There is silence.

Deepen your understanding of inner and outer silence before you attempt to understand anything else.

When hard times hit

June 28, 2011

How else will we find the truth unless we ask for it, and how do we decide to ask for it unless prompted by some doubt? So the conditions for doubt arise in our lives.

Wherever we feel insecurity, darkness, fear, sadness; that is exactly the place begging for us to ask questions. That is the morning light of a new consciousness and we must see it through for full transformation.

Until this point it is assumed that everyone should wish to know the truth- why would anyone want to live under the haze of illusion? This is one of my principle assumptions but it is simply not true. Why? One who’s fear is that they are really unloveable would be terrified of the truth because in their minds this could possibly be true and to know this, really know it as fact would be unbearable.

How to escape this self-imposed psychological imprisonment and slavery to fear?

If you suspect someone you love is cheating you or lying to you, that is a huge suffering. You may go on for years in anguish too timid to find out. But what is the WORST thing that can really happen? If they are, then definitely there may be some difficulty at the beginning but you know one thing for sure is that you will put an end to it.

Religions, friends and mothers can all tell you the good loving truths that make you feel at peace and have the potential to dispel all your myths-turned-fears but it is you and you alone who must desire to know these truths for yourself. Otherwise though they may be true, your scepticism will blind you.

The only way I know how to overcome this dilemma is by experience. Experience of suffering for a long time in that ‘affraid to know’ place: denial and constant telling myself stories of how things must be a certain way- pretending to know rather than really ever asking. When finally I got very depressed (condition and opportunity arising for me to ask some serious questions) it came from within very strongly that I should know truthfully EVERY singly thing in my life that causes me suffering. To only suffer a little, a ‘tolerable’ amount, to let some things slide is still unhappiness and suffering. To eradicate any trace I decided that no pain caused be truth was worth a prolonged ‘behind-the-scenes’ pain- ignorance and illusion.

One day you may wake up and whether you want to or not you may see the walls of the prettified castle you built around yourself crumble down. Because you were too afraid to look outside of those walls you now see how you could have spent all those years outside of that illusion or delsusional happy state, or mediocre state or good enough state. You will not get that time back.

Are you seeking the truth for everlasting peace? Are you afraid of suffering and why? Are you ready to love yourself so fiercely that you’ll ask any question? …and then really listen for the answer?

Freedom

June 3, 2011

“The world will trouble you as long as any part of you belongs to the world. It is only when you belong entirely to the Divine that you can become free.”

-Shree Anandamayee Ma
From ‘Death Must Die’

Time

May 12, 2011

“Time ripens all things”

wanting

June 17, 2010

In wanting is the suffering of  inadequacy. Paying attention to the moment when you meet someone and want something from them or listen to a story that stirs wanting you will find that behind this is a sadness, an insecurity and a feeling of lacking. Wanting something outside of yourself implies that you are not whole and complete the way you are, that you are missing something.

In nature, a pink flower looks to a blue flower. It is true that you do not have that which you are wanting, that you are not blue. The wanting blinds you to the reality that you are already perfect the way you are, that a pink flower serves one kind of bee and the blue serves another.

Allow things to enter your life and to enrich it with a simultaneous understanding that life is merely celebrating your existing perfection.

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