Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Being and Becoming

Remain in wonder if you want the mysteries to open up for you. Mysteries never open up for those who go on questioning. Questioners sooner or later end up in libraries. Questioners sooner or later end up with scriptures, because scriptures are full of answers. And answers are dangerous, they kill your wonder. All the Buddhas of all the ages have been telling you a very simple fact: Be; don't try to become. Within these two words be and becoming, your whole life is contained. Being is Enlightenment, becoming is ignorance.

- Osho

Monday, November 28, 2011

The virtue of not knowing

"It's the people who don't know the answers who are going to heaven, I tell you."

- Character Mac McClintock in Anne Tyler's book Saint Maybe

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One thought, and there goes your volition

Parvati and Shiv were sitting atop Mount Kailash.

Parvati was nagging Shiv. “It’s so gross. How can you sit here immersed in bliss when there is so much misery in the samsara you have created? Why can’t you help relieve the misery of mortals?”

“But Devi,” protested Shiv. “I have nothing to do with individual misery. I merely created the samsara and hardwired it with a set of natural laws. All else is merely the result of an auto-generated process… whether it be pleasure or pain; happiness or misery.”

“Oh puhleaze!” sneered Parvati petulantly. “Spare me the gyaan. What kind of God would shirk responsibility this way? What kind of God wouldn’t be moved by the misery of the beings created by him? Huh. So much for your professed love… you can’t even do this much for me!”

Shiv knew if he didn’t do something soon Devi would go into a deep sulk and there would be bliss to pay. So he sighed and pulled Devi into his arms for a warm embrace. “Devi, how do I explain to you? Even I cannot play around with the natural laws I have set in place. I simply cannot remove all misery from samsara in one go. You see, the whole game is poised on dual opposites. Pull out any one and the whole system collapses. But, seeing that you are so upset, let me do one thing. If there is any particular individual you want me help, just point him out to me and I promise I’ll help him in any way I can. Just this once, okay? Just because I love you.”

Parvati was mighty pleased she had got her way with him finally. So there was a way around his armour of equanimity after all! But then, she realized with a start, there was a problem. She didn’t have any specific individual she wanted to help! Yet she couldn’t let her sweetheart’s offer, hard-earned as it was, lapse.

She peered down from Mount Kailash, right through the drifting clouds, and her gaze chanced upon a poor man dressed in rags and bent with age, carrying a large stack of firewood on his back.

She straightened her back, tilted her nose up, put out her right hand and pointed a delicate long finger downwards. “Him! I want you to help that man.”

Shiv looked down and saw the miserable specimen. With an endearing smile, he turned to Devi. “Some riches should help relieve his misery, don’t you think?”

Even as he uttered the words, a cloth bundle filled with gold ornaments materialised a little ahead on the path being trodden by the poor old man.

Now, let’s rush down to earth to pick up the other end of the story thread.

The poor old man’s name was Bhikku. He was sixty-five and had recently become a widower. His back was bent not by the weight of the firewood but because he carried a heavy burden of self pity. Life, he thought, had handed him a raw deal. Why did his wife have to leave him so early? Why did his children have to be such dunces? Why did he have to carry such heavy loads of firewood over such long distances to make a living? Why me? Why?!

Of course he was totally unaware of the bundle of riches that had been placed specifically for him a little ahead on his path.

“Why do all the bad things happen to me?” he continued to brood as he walked.

Just then a thought struck him. And he decided to see the whole thing from a completely different standpoint. “That’s not right,” he chided himself. “There are others more miserable than me. Blind men, for instance. Imagine going through life without seeing a thing! How agonising that must be! I am becoming a self-absorbed fool wallowing all the time in self-pity. I must break out of this pattern. Let me blindfold myself to feel compassion for blind folk, for a change.”

So saying, he rolled up his headscarf and tied it around his eyes, and blindfolded thus, continued walking gingerly up the path… and of course he bypassed the bundle of riches lying await for him.

Watching the scene from above the skies, Parvati was aghast.

However Shiv was not. He smiled inwardly because he knew too well that a single thought was enough to make mockery of a man’s concept of volition.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Seek out the expertise

If a law-suit has to be filed, one approaches a lawyer. To get rid of a disease, one has to call upon a doctor. In the same way, if God is wanted, the company of Sadhus must be sought.

- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A well formed question is half the answer

When you have a question, don't think about the answer. First think deeply about the question. A well formed question is half the answer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If Life hands you lemons...

When you're asking for apples and life hands you lemons, make lemonade. If you're on your way out and it starts to rain, at least you won't have to water the plants anymore. It is a matter of seeing things in perspective. The benefits may not be immediate nor obvious, but you have to know this for sure: Allah will never give you anything you can't handle. Nothing you can't triumph over. There will be problems. There will be struggles. But if they're not there, how would you know how strong you are?

- Khwaja Gharib Nawaz

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The wind in your sail

‘The breeze of Divine Grace is always blowing; unfurl your sail.’
- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Imagine

Imagine.
No harm in imagining
You do it anyway
All the time.

Imagine
you are a hollow reed.
Say, a flute.
And your seven chakras
are the seven nodes
for Existence
to play its music.
Through you.

And...
Sooner or later
you needn't imagine.
You will know.
The hollow reed
has nil say
In the music
that is played.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Bondage of Knowledge

In Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

After contemplation, shunyayogi says:

Wherever there is knowledge,
already there is ignorance.
When people think they know,
they have given birth to what they do not.

When people take possession of knowledge
they have caused the great chasm
between the Knower and the Known.
Misery.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Way of The Wise

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever

~ Tao Te Ching

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kashmiri mystic Lal Ded's wisdom

Some gems from Lal Ded, the 14th century Kashmiri mystic:


I saw a sage starving to death
A leaf floating to earth on a winter breeze
I saw a fool beating his cook
And now I am waiting for someone to cut
The love-chord that keeps me tied
To this crazy world.

>>


Love-mad, I, Lalla, started out,
spent days and nights on the trail.
Circling back, I found the teacher
in my own house.
What brilliant luck, I said,
and hugged him.

>>


You won't find the Truth
by crossing your legs
and holding your breath.
Daydreams won't take you
through the gateway of release.
You can stir as much salt
as you like in water
It won't become the sea.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Redemption: Gandhi shows a way out of Hell

Excerpt from Redemption Stories: Unwasted Pain by Mary Ciofalo:

The movie Gandhi inspired me - particularly one scene. In it Gandhi is fasting again to try and end the horrific riots between the Hindus and Moslems. A trio of Hindu men comes to tell Gandhi that they have stopped inciting their people, and that he must now end his fast.

One of them flings a piece of bread onto Gandhi's cot and tells him, "I am going to Hell, but you must eat and live."

Gandhi says, "Only God determines who goes to Hell. Why do you think you are?"

The man replies, "I killed a Moslem child."

Gandhi winces, then says quietly,"Why?"

The man replies, "They killed my wife and my son."

After a moment of silence, Gandhi says quietly, "I know a way out of Hell."

The Hindu man looks shocked. It is clear that he never considered redemption for himself.

Gandhi says, "Go find a child without parents and raise him as your own. But, first make sure that he is a Moslem child and raise him as a Moslem."

Friday, April 15, 2011

The limitation of Knowledge

Knowledge implies ignorance of what lies beyond what is known. Knowledge is always limited.

- Ramana Maharshi

Mahatma Gandhi's guidelines for economic, ecological and social fairness

* Nature produces enough to support our needs, but not more. If we take more than we need we may be borrowing from future generations or hurting nature.

* People have a right to an honourable livelihood and to have their basic needs met. Basic needs include a balanced diet, decent housing and healthcare, the education of children, and the search for spiritual self-realization.

* All other wealth beyond that belongs to the community. The community may grant more to individuals if it believes doing so benefits the general welfare, but such wealth is a privilege, not a right, and may not be allowed to injure the community.

- from the book Trusteeship by Mahatma Gandhi published by Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, India

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why the tortoise won

May be we have got the Hare and Tortoise fable all wrong. May be the tortoise won because he wasn't at all thinking of winning or losing!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Turning Hippies into Happies

...On the riverbank, sitting cross-legged, Shyamsunder rocked slowly back and forth."It was in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, January 1967. My friends and I had put together this big rock and roll dance at the Avalon Ballroom. We called it Mantra Rock Dance. Everyone was there to welcome 'The Swami' to the West Coast - the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, Quicksilver and Moby Grape, they all played. Even Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey were there. All the hippie heroes came."

Shyamsunder became excited and his body rocked faster. "Picture this scene. The whole place is pulsating with strobe lights and rock and roll, packed with wild, long-haired kids, most of them on acid. Then, about midnight, Srila Prabhupada walks quietly onto the dark stage and sits down cross-legged on an elevated seat. The place falls silent. Srila Prabhupada begins humbly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. A spotlight finally locates him, and gradually the crowd joins in the chanting. Then, one by one, the rock groups come on stage to join him, and the rest is history. For two hours, Prabhupada led the most incredible kirtan you can imagine. When he danced with his arms upraised, he won the hearts of thousands. Or as he put it later, "I have turned hippies into happies."

- from The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami by Radhanath Swami

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Reality behind Waking, Dreaming and the Deep Sleep

From the Prasnopanishad of the Atharva Veda

The setting: A group of six earnest seekers after truth, all of them earnest students of philosophy, gathered together, only to find that each one of them had a special problem to solve, and that none of the others could solve it for them. They decided by common consent to approach the sage Pippalada and have their problems solved. After a year of living with the sage at his ashram, meditating and practicing brahmacharya, it was finally time to for them pose their unresolved question to the learned sage.



…It was now the turn of Gargi Souryayani to avail himself of the opportunity to have his problems solved, and to proceed in a spiritual sense from darkness to light. He raised a metaphysical problem, which is peculiar to Indian philosophy. Ordinarily speaking we see the various levels of consciousness. He wished to know who it is that experiences these levels of consciousness.

This is a problem that every seeker after truth encounters. Perhaps Sage Pippalada had answered the same question to previous seekers after the truth who had come to him to know the nature of the Akshara-purush.

Sage Pippalada illumined the problem in his characteristic way.

He said, “During the waking stage we think waking alone is real; during a dream, the dream alone appears real; and during deep sleep, there seems to be nothing else. If we reduce all these levels of consciousness to their least common factor, we find that the experiencing Self alone is real. Waking goes away, dream goes away, sleep goes away but the Self alone remains, and knows the Self that has slept, or dreamt or is awake.

“Each stage is of value to us. The dream world is of value to us because it shows us how a whole world of reality can be a mere projection of the mind, and (when it ends) can be withdrawn into the mind. The sleep consciousness is of value to us, because it is, in a sense, the homecoming of the spirit - it is a withdrawal and merging into that from which it comes. Although in sleep one is aware of nothing yet one emerges from it with the consciousness “I have slept well”. Waking is of value to us because it is here that we should know the nature of that ‘I’. We would then realize that it is the residuary value of life. It is only that which gives value to the other levels of consciousness.

“It is like the Sun whose light reveals objects. Suppose there are no objects for the Sun to shine upon. Even then the Sun will continue to shine. It is the same with the Self also. Levels of consciousness may come and go, but the Self goes on forever. That is why, taken in itself, it is called the turiya, or the fourth level of consciousness. It is not something that is apart from these three. It is, if you choose to call it, the transcendent. In reality, it is the Akshara-purush, Brahman, who is the true seer, actor, knower, the undecaying eternal Self. That alone is all-pervading.

On hearing what the preceptor had to say, Gargi felt happy as if he had acquired the kingdom of knowledge.

- from Upanishadic Stories And Their Significance by Swami Tattwananda, published by Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Rama, Ravana and Sita

Who is Rama? He is the one who plays in everyone. And when Rama enters in the ten senses, he becomes Ravana. When you enter the ten senses, then your peace, Sita is lost. Sita means peace.

- Ranjit Maharaj (from Understanding Is Realizing)

The moon in day-time

The moon shines by the reflected light of the sun.
When the sun has set, the moon is useful for revealing objects.
When the sun has risen, no one needs the moon,
though the pale disc of the moon is visible in the sky.

So is it with the mind and the Heart.
The mind is useful because of its reflected light.
It is used for seeing objects.

When it is turned inwards,
The source of illumination shines forth by itself,
and the mind remains dim and useless
like the moon in day-time.

- Ramana Maharshi (from Heart Is Thy Name, O Lord)

Sri Arunachala


Arunachala Shiva,
Arunachala Shiva,
Arunachala Shiva,
Arunchala!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Little dust

"It is related (and the story is no less significant whether historically true or not) that after attaining Enlightenment the Buddha's first impulse was to abide in the effulgence of Bliss without turning back to convey the incommunicable to mankind. Then he reflected, 'Some there are who are clear sighted and do not need my teaching, and some whose eyes are clouded with dust who will not heed it though given, but between these two there are also some with but little dust in their eyes, who can be helped to see; and for the sake of these I will go back among mankind and teach.'"

- Arthur Osborne