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