“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

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.

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.

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

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.

I have been doing a lot of work in the last several months to shed myself from our cultural brashness and enter into a new state of honesty, truthfulness and purity. Moving from this point back into the world of marketing and sales is where I’m treading in uncharted waters. How do we truthful, open-hearted yogis, or at least attempting to be so, launch our own business within the current socio-economic order and remain integral and in-tact? What is the yogic business model? Can one even exist?

On some level, it feels wrong to charge a set amount for something I am doing from my heart. I prefer the dana approach- where people donate what they can and want to. It feels more like I offer something as a gift and they return with a gift if they like. As a yogi to maintain that higher self without attachment or desire for the result is very important. So is survival.

Idealistically one can come up with some really beautiful sounding theory, but then trying to work it out is another story. Like the other night- Dario and I went to the Zendo and did meditation for a couple hours. Dario asked me how it went. I said “I had in mind this lovely meditation I would do: Focus on the third eye while chanting Om over and over. I started chanting …and…third eye- what? When you’re on the battlefield of your mind, there’s no room for poetry- I could barely keep up with my Om’s.” When I start imagining pitching myself, going on interviews, etc, it’s like a battlefield. What does integrity mean on that? Truth. Love. Non-Attachment. What I think it comes down to is asking your community to also respond with these same qualities.

At Spirit Rock Meditation center in California, their bookstore doesn’t have any staff. You are responsible for checking yourself out, applying taxes and appropriate discounts all on the the presumption that the community will mirror the morals the business upholds. It’s beautiful. Can it work everywhere?

What do you think?

I am finding myself now focusing on my consumption habits and impulses. I try letting the desires, impulses and ‘needs’ pass by attempting to locate the root cause of wanting something. Chocolate, I really want that chocolate cookie. Well, I realized, I just want something sweet. What do I have that is sweet? I could be just as satisfied with tea and honey actually. And how often have I bought a cookie and it was too sweet for me?- Often. And if I still really want the chocolate cookie, well I will just go home and make a batch- quadruple the cookies for half the price. And not only that, I decided I will make only a couple cookies now and freeze the dough so the next time I crave, I just pull out a couple more, stick them in the oven and in 8 minutes (faster than I could run to the store) I’m in heavenly bliss.

Kripalu’s March Newsletter contains the following article I found very insightful:

Surviving a Financial CrisisLongtime yogis, authors, and cofounders of the sustainable investing firm Abacus, Brent Kessel and Spencer Sherman share their wisdom for these economic times.

Contrary to what we might at first think, everything that we do on our yoga mats and meditation cushions has so much to teach us about our personal financial lives—and about the global financial challenges we’re all facing.

In yoga practice, when we overstretch one part of the body, we usually pay the price in another joint, tendon, or muscle. When we’re injured, an astute teacher will direct our attention to the larger joint that is “upstream” of the injured area. So if our elbow is suffering, we’re very likely misusing the shoulder or upper back. If our knee is aching, the roots of our pain can often be located in a flaccid thigh muscle, an overly flexible hip, or just a plain lack of core strength.

Our economy is no different. The muscle which appears broken right now is the credit market, and by extension, the stock market and real estate values. But the “upstream” culprit is our own overconsumption—a result of our desire for things, including everything from electronic goods to houses, too many of us were willing to buy on credit items that we actually couldn’t afford. To survive this recession together, we must individually become aware of the insatiability of our own Wanting Minds, a term coined by the Buddhists to describe that part of us which can never have enough.

creating awareness

Awareness is the critical first step, but, to be effective, it must also lead to informed action. As you go through your life, see if you can first notice, and then let go of just one impulse of wanting per day. You may want a new stylish coat for this winter, or a laptop computer, or perhaps something as trivial as a chai latte. Instead of rushing out to satiate your impulse, create a noticeable pause between sensing your want and taking action on it. This won’t be effortless, because the things we buy do often bring temporary relief, and we’re now going to be foregoing that.

The big mistakes that we make with money happen when we’re jumping to the future, trying to avoid our present experience, and almost always, when we’re “barely breathing.” Going shopping to numb the pain in a relationship, or lack of a relationship. Selling everything out of an investment account to not experience further losses, or the fear of running out of money.

The practice of yoga teaches us to use the breath to bring awareness to the moment, and is particularly useful in those moments when we want to do something, anything, to escape our suffering—whether it’s being caused by an asana, a relationship, or sitting at the dining room table paying our bills. Breathing into these moments slows us down, creates space. In reaction to a rumble of financial insecurity, we may think “I’m not going to be okay. I need to do something. Spend. Save. Give money to someone.” This is the best time to simply breathe. The breath is here as long as we’re alive. It’s the cycle of death and rebirth. It is the foundation of our life force, of which money is but one manifestation.

spend, save, give

Whether we tend toward over-spending, over-saving, or over-giving, if we can become much more curious and spacious right when that emotional tremor first arises, we then have the sacred opportunity to just be with that first wave of emotion, or anxiety, or emptiness. If we stay present with our direct experience without rushing to our familiar money habits, then the sense of emotional need passes, and usually much sooner than we expected.

So does this actually effect our financial bottom line? When this emotional need passes, so does our need to go shopping, which saves real money, and by extension, our life energy. When this need passes, our excessive frugality passes, and we now have the opportunity to use our money to be generous with others or ourselves. When this need passes, we stop lending and giving money to friends and family and begin taking as good a care of ourselves as we do of others.

Robert Frost said, “The strength of a man is in the extremity of the opposites he can hold.” As we increase our capacity to witness and bring awareness to the emotional disturbances that are almost always the precursors to our financial actions, we are then able to choose to cultivate the opposite financial habit. This is real financial freedom, when we are able to choose to act financially in ways that allow us to ride out the waves of crisis in all forms and create lasting nourishment for ourselves—and that’s got to be good for the planet as a whole.

Brent Kessel and Spencer Sherman are both practicing yogis and the authors of It’s Not About the Money (HarperCollins 2008) and The Cure for Money Madness (Random House 2009) respectively. They are the cofounders of Abacus, a nationwide sustainable investing firm.

Maintenance

February 26, 2009

Yesterday my practice went like this:

6am: Wake Up

6:30-7:15: Yoga

7:15-7:45: Meditation

7:45-8:30: Breakfast and Getting ready

8:30-9:00: Walk to work reciting Loving Kindness Mantra

9:00-2:00: Work and get stressed out

2:00-2:30: Meditation and Abhaya Mudra (dispel fears and grant boons)

2:30-5:00: Work and Stress Out

5:00-6:00: Walk home chanting Loving Kindness Mantra again

At 6:00 I walked through the door to the apartment and told Dario what a stressful and emotional time I had at work. He reminded me that sometimes we practice for maintenance rather than enlightenment (especially here in NYC). He said “Could you imagine what you might be feeling had you not done all that practice today?” Indeed, I know what kind of miserable condition I would be left in at the end of my day and I realized, I actually felt very good standing there talking to him. In fact, I laughed all night long with real enjoyment for the rest of my evening. And for that, every moment of my practice is worth it.

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