What is Inevitable for All Living Things?

golden-ratio-cosmic-constant-617x416Lately, I’ve been chanting the Purnamadah a lot.  It is the first verse of the Isha Upanishad, and it goes like this:

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate

The sanskrit word Purna can be translated in many ways – Complete, Whole, Fullness, Brahman or Reality, but personally the translation I like to use is the word Perfect.  Thus, the translation would be:

Om. That is perfect, this is perfect;
from the perfect, the perfect becomes manifest;
When the perfect is taken from the perfect,
Only the perfect remains.

k8aiVTo me, this chant is a meditation on the immutable perfection of God and God’s whole entire complete full reality called the universe.

Even when you take the perfect out of the perfect, the perfect is still there.  There is nothing that can be done by anyone anywhere in any way that would take away from the perfection of God.  “When the perfect is taken from the perfect, only the perfect remains.”

And from God, the Creation was manifested – so the whole universe is also immutably perfect.  Yes, we have entropy, we have decay, we have a cycle of life and death, we have lions eating gazelles and we even have atrocities taking place on the planet – but remember, Evil is like Peeing in the Ocean, a miniscule percentile of urea in a vast ocean of good.  Underneath it all is the immutable perfection of the Divine Creation.  “From the perfect, the perfect becomes manifest.”

milkyway_800This chant helps me when I am dealing with things that would seem to be less than perfect.  Instead of focusing on “woe is me” or “why is this happening” or going down any number of rabbit holes into negativity and small self-centeredness, I chant “That is perfect, this is perfect…”  And it works.  It helps me to see that behind everything that is happening in my life is an immutable perfection of God loving me, teaching me, molding me.  Everything that I experience is part of God’s creation for my life and is somehow giving me more compassion, more understanding, more inner strength and brings me closer to God.

A few days ago, I plain and simply just had a bad day and at the end of it, I chanted Purnamadah for 45 minutes before bed.  The next morning I felt so happy I wanted to hug everyone at work.  Mind you, I work in a business office, not normally an environment conducive to group hugs, so I had to contain myself – but I only contained my hugs, not my happiness.

pandavas2This chant on the Perfection of God and all of creation reminds me of my favorite story from the Mahabharata.  The Mahabharata is an ancient sanskrit epic about the battle between the good Pandava brothers and their less-than-good cousins the Kaurava brothers.  It being the longest poem ever written, it is all very complicated and I won’t go into it here, but my favorite part takes place during the seven years that the Pandava brothers are living in exile out in the wilderness.

The brothers all come across an enchanted lake.  The nature of the lake’s enchantment is such that when you see it, you immediately get intensely thirsty and want to drink, but before you drink you must answer all of the lake’s riddles, and if you drink without doing so, you die.  So, one by one the brothers come to the shore of the lake, give in to their thirst and then die – until the eldest brother, Yudishthera, comes to the lake and is the master of his thirst.  When the lake says to him “Before you drink, you must answer my riddles,” Yudishthera says “Very well, and if I answer them all correctly, you must bring my brothers back to life.”

Yudhistira_and_YakshaSo, the lake asks a series of riddles, all of which Yudishthera answers correctly without hesitation, and thus, all his brothers are restored from death and they may all drink from the enchanted waters and carry on through the rest of the epic poem to victory.

The riddles are a long string of esoteric or philosophical questions, such as “What is the cause of the world?” with the answer “Love” and “What is the opposite of your self?” with the answer “Myself.”  But the one that really got me, the one that makes this my favorite part of the longest poem in the world is this:

“What is inevitable for all living things?”

Being as philosophical and esoteric as I thought I was when I first heard this, I thought the answer would be something like “Death” or “Change.”  However, the correct answer that Yudishthera gave to save his brothers was “Happiness.”

Happiness is inevitable for all living things!

Summer-happiness-photoContemplating this tidbit from the Mahabharata made me ecstatically happy for days.  I would walk around seeing random people in a grocery store or post office and think “you are going to be happy!”  I felt like I was going to burst with the wonderfulness of the inevitability of happiness!

It felt kind of like the other morning after chanting the Purnamadah.  And really, they are both contemplations on the same thing.  No matter what it looks like right now, no matter what is going on in my life or what things could cause me stress and unhappiness if I let them – that is perfect, this is perfect.

There is an immutable perfection of God behind everything and happiness is inevitable for all living things!


For the beautiful Shantala chant:

For the Indian epic or its excerpt, the Bhagavad Gita:

 Or if you prefer the movie version (and there is no shame in that):

Doubt is a Virtue (or How Doubting Thomas Got a Bad Rap)

1279824593jesusthomasDoubting Thomas got a bad rap.

Why would we consider it a bad thing to ask questions?  Why is it more virtuous to simply accept a belief without any examination or query?  If you think about it, it’s actually good to think about it, it’s good to think about things before accepting them blindly.

Doubting is a good thing.  Blind faith is not really faith at all.

Jesus taught in parables.  Jesus told stories that he did not interpret – instead he left the interpretation and the contemplation up to us.  Even the interpretations that are in the bible are not part of the quoted words of Jesus, but rather the commentary of the author that is added by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  If Jesus didn’t want us to question or think for ourselves, he could have just spoken his teachings in the form of commandments for jesus parablesus to accept.  But he spoke them in the form of stories for us to think about and pray over so that we could realize the truth for ourselves.  And if we stop doing this and simply accept the interpretations presented to us by the priest or pastor or pope, then we aren’t internalizing the teachings the way Jesus intended. 

A few days ago, my good friends Terry and Sarah introduced me to a “radical theologian” by the name of Peter Rollins.  We listened to a few chapters from one of his audio books, and it was captivating (and not just because of his Irish accent).  I looked up his website and saw the books he has written – and even though I haven’t even had time to read them yet, the titles themselves are thought-provoking:

  • The Divine Magician – the Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith
  • The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction
  • Insurrection: To Believe is Human; to Doubt, Divine

“To Believe is Human, to Doubt, Divine.”  Yes – to doubt is a virtue; to question and to contemplate is divine.  This is the practice of self-inquiry from the East – turning our focus inside to realize from within the truth of the Self and of God.  This is the “Inquire Within” of philosophers from every culture.  Even Plato’s Allegory of the Cave taught this – do not accept the shadows on the wall of the cave as truth, set your mind free, leave the cave and see for yourself what reality is.

To quote from more than just the title and include the back of the book as well (not that I’m recommending judging a book by its cover, in fact, that is expressly what I am advocating against, but it’s only been a couple of days and I promise if I actually read the books I’ll write about them from a more informed perspective later, but for now…):

Holy-Spirit-Fire“It is only as we submit our spiritual practices, religious rituals, and dogmatic affirmations to the flames of fearless interrogation that we come into contact with the reality that Christianity is in the business of transforming our world.”

Thomas asked questions when Jesus presented a teaching, not as some form of betrayal or undermining, but because he was internalizing the words that Jesus spoke and letting them transform him.  He was making the understanding of the truth Jesus was pointing at a part of his being.  Thomas doubting Jesus was a sign of respect.  In the gospel that was attributed to Thomas, which was later thrown out of the bible and ordered to be burned by Emperor Constantine and the Nicene council, he didn’t focus on Jesus’ birth, biography or even his crucifixion.  The Gospel of Thomas is simply a collection of Jesus’ teachings.  For Thomas, it wasn’t Jesus’ life story that was important – not even the virgin birth or the miracles and hoopla surrounding his life and death.  What mattered to Doubting Thomas was the truth that Jesus taught.

annunciation-midNow, I love everything about Jesus – the miracles and hoopla included.  And I think that God can do anything God wants and to split an atom in the womb of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit would be a piece of cake.  I don’t have any issues with anyone who chooses to believe that is what happened.  And I absolutely feel the presence of Mother Mary as a vibrant holy being filled with tremendous love and compassion here and now, so I have no qualms about people praying to her.  She is a saint and a Bodhisattva in her own right – an enlightened soul who is present to help those who ask her for healing.

It’s just that the virgin birth is not a necessary part of my love and faith in Jesus Christ – or Mother Mary, for that matter.  I cannot say with certainty if it happened or not, but it doesn’t matter to me and to argue about it seems silly.  If God had not split the atom in Mother Mary’s womb through the Holy Spirit but had as a matter of historical fact split that atom through more tradition means, it would not make Mother Mary or Jesus any less holy in my eyes.  Mother Mary would still be a being of vast compassion and Jesus would still be an embodiment of God’s love and grace – and his teachings would still hold the seeds of our spiritual freedom in knowing God.

I see this in the title “The Idolatry of God: Breaking our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction.”  In a sense, if we simply idolize God and Christ and do not doubt or question or contemplate, but just accept our religion because it’s more virtuous to have faith or because it’s more comfortable to feel certain than to question, this is not a very solid faith.   It is in practicing the virtue of doubting, of “inquiring within,” that we can really FEEL the truth for ourselves and decide what we truly believe in, not as an outside certainty, but as our internal faith.  And while there is nothing I love more than adoring God and I think it is right to give Him thanks and praise, I don’t want to replace the faith of my own inquiry with a blind idolatry of God.

extremism-islam_2526444bHiding out within a set of beliefs that is already put forth for you from someone else is in a way not very responsible.  God gave us our minds with the ability to think, God gave us free will – so it is honoring of God to actually use them.  In fact, on one side of the spectrum simply accepting someone else’s version of religion is downright dangerous.

We see this in extremism – when followers of fanatical religious leaders who spout hate and even violence do not doubt what they are told – and the results are horrific.  But we also see this in the less extreme ways where religious beliefs spawn prejudices or social norms that are exclusive and discriminatory – as in gay or lesbian human beings not having the same rights as any other human being.  And even though I have never been a religious extremist, I experienced the trappings of this mychristianextremismself by accepting someone else’s certainty as my own and feeling like it was wrong for me to doubt or to question.  It kept me disempowered from listening to my inner voice, the living word that exists in my heart and it was quite a struggle for me to embrace the virtue of doubt and listen to my true faith again.

This is why I love the title “the Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith.”  It is in the process of doubting the edicts of religion that we come to true faith.  And true faith is only between you and God – it is beyond religion.  These are the mystical teachings of Jesus that Thomas loved so much because through his doubt he came to internal knowing.

Faith is not about certainty.  In a way, faith is the opposite of certainty.  Faith is being a willing and humble participant in the mystery of God.  To quote from Peter Rollin’s Wikipedia page (that other cliff notes way of judging a book by its cover) “he views faith as a particular way of engaging with the world rather than a set of beliefs about the world.”  Faith is an active process – a verb, a living and flexible transformative power.

I do not pretend that I can know God with certainty, I can only trust the living loving Presence of God and do my best to follow Her. As Bishop John Shelby Sponge says in my very first post:

“The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, by any human creed, by any human book is almost beyond imagination for me. God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t believe my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”

So, if we all honor our traditions and walk through our respective religions towards the truth of God that they point to, then we can heal our humanity of the wounds that religion has inflicted and live together in faith.  If we all incorporate the practice of Doubting Thomas into our religious experience, we could all stay humble and flexible and live in harmony with other seekers similarly doubting their teachings of God.

bloemen-vraagtekenDoubt and Faith are two sides of the same coin – it’s the paradox or Yin and Yang of belief.  The process of doubt gives our faith depth and dimension.  True internal faith is humble enough to not need certainty but to contain within itself its opposite – the virtue of doubt. 


If you’d like to read Peter Rollins books before I do, here are the links:

God’s Limitlessness & Lamps

DISCOURSE 4 - SIGNIFICANCE OF LAMPI am in the process of searching for the right new housemate.  As I’ve shared in a previous post, God manifested the most amazing little blessed home for me and also gave me a wonderful room mate and dear friend all through synchronicity, surrender and prayer.

Well, now my dear friend and house mate has moved away to pursue her artistic and professional dreams, so my own motto of “You only need one” when manifesting something you need (i.e. one job, one parking space, one housemate) has turned into “Well, actually, God, in this instance, I need two.”

Sunday morning I was talking to a sweet friend who asked me if I had found a housemate yet and I said, no, not yet.  She said that God would find me the right one, in the right timing – but maybe I’d need to be patient because God had a lot on his plate right now with terrorism and some pretty big world issues that were higher priorities.  And yes, I agree – ending senseless violence in the name of religion is of highest priority. (Or senseless violence in the name of anything or indeed any violence at all, for can any violence really be sensible?)  However – it struck me that God is not limited.  I think She can take care of the big stuff and the small stuff all at the same time without breaking a sweat.

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Table lamp from God

And just a couple of weeks ago, to show me that God is taking care of me in every single way, however small, God gave me a lamp.

The table lamp in my living room was broken.  I only had the overhead light and it is bright and harsh and anything but relaxing.  In the evenings I had to choose between semi-darkness or full-wattage light.  I had been wanting to get a new lamp to replace it, several times I had almost gotten in my car to go down to Target, but I always changed my mind because I didn’t think it was sensible for me to spend the money right now.

Then I had my sweet friends Vilasini and Suresh over for dinner.  After our lovely meal and spiritual conversation, Vilasini said to me “We have this lamp that’s just been sitting in our closet, do you want it?”  Suresh went out to the car and came back with a gorgeous table lamp.  I was astonished!  How could they bring the one thing that I had been needing?  I hadn’t said anything to anyone.  I had never mentioned how much I wanted a lamp for my living room.  But here they arrived at my house with a lamp.  How does God do that?

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Table lamp from Target

It was a lamp Vilasini’s father had bought when he had gone to visit her in India while she was at Chinmayananda‘s ashram.  They didn’t want to just get rid of it or give it to a thrift store, it was special – but they didn’t want it sitting useless in their closet, either.  It is absolutely beautiful.  It has a carved wood base and a beautifully painted design in teals.  It matches my end table and my couch perfectly!  I could not have picked out a better lamp for my living room in a hundred years and it’s so much more exquisite than anything I could find at Target for any amount of money.

This is one of the most amazing things about God – that God can love ALL of humanity absolutely and also love little ME completely – perfectly Universal and Personal at the same time.  I never feel that God doesn’t want to hear my prayers or that my life is too miniscule for God’s care.  If I just love God, God cares for me in all ways.  Just when I was starting to worry a little bit about my housemate situation and finding the right person, God shows me that it is all perfect and not only is God holding Light and Love for all the world’s major problems, She is taking care of my indoor lighting needs, as well.

So, I am reminded once again to have faith.  I know that God manifested a whole new life for me out of nothing!  God gave me a home, a community, a purpose, a Peachy.  I know that She also has a second perfect housemate for me – or a way for me to be able to live alone if that is my highest.  God is caring for my soul and awakening me to more and more love AND bringing me beautiful Indian lamps to make my living room feel cozy.

Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detail

Busy white guy with beard

And this manifestation of the perfect lamp in no way detracts from God’s focus on healing humanity of violence and terrorism.  God’s focus is not limited, God is not confined by time or space.  It’s important to remember that we are made in God’s image (limitless & perfect) and not to project our own limited image onto God (white guy with beard who can only do so much in His busy schedule).

What it feels like to me is that God is absolute perfection!  And simply by BEING That Perfection God holds for the perfection of ALL things at ALL times.  So, God “working towards” the perfect love and compassion of the human heart and the healing of all violence is in a sense done in the same “Act” of holding for the perfect table lamp or the perfect healing of a friend’s surgery or the perfect new job.  God answers all our prayers, no matter how “small”, simply by BEING Perfection, BEING Love, Being Peace, Being Light.  We offer our prayers with sincerity and love into God’s Perfection and we receive Perfection in return – Perfection is reflected back to us.

Something like that.  Of course, as in all things God, there are myriad ways and nuances, multiple yes’s and paradoxes – but this is what I’m feeling right now.  I feel like God is right here for me as my best friend, my Beloved, right here with me in my daily life, in my heart, with me at all times and in all things – in God’s vast expansive limitlessness and the mundane specificity of lamps.

heart lamp

Straight and Narrow Path ~ Spine of Shiva

530735302_e447c704feI am a firm believer that any book or bible can only help point the way for us to experience the living word of Love and Truth that is in our hearts.  There are many teachings in Christianity and, indeed, in every other religion, which gets taken out of context and twisted into something unrecognizable from the original intent – often times even quite the opposite of what the Teacher, Prophet or Messiah had in mind.  Yet, if you truly pray with an open and yearning heart and contemplate the words, it can lead you back to the original meaning.  This is the point and practice of Mystical Christianity.

Even though I have never read the bible cover to cover, I have had the experience of being in prayer or meditation and suddenly understanding a phrase or a verse that I have heard repeated all my life without knowing what it really means.  One such phrase is “the straight and narrow path.”

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” 

right_roadThis bible verse from Matthew 7:14 has been used for centuries as a way to justify a very straight and narrow religious point of view and all kinds of discrimination or prejudice for those the particular church deems not straight or narrow enough.  But I experience that the phrase is not about being straight as in heterosexual or even straight as in upright and rigidly conforming to religious norms.  And narrow does not mean narrow-minded.

One summer years ago I had just dedicated my life to God and at this particular time that meant I was not working “out in the world.”  I spent my days mostly alone, working at my desk and taking care of my ministry’s retreat center and sweet little temple.  I would water the plants on the decks and in the temple and then take the opportunity to kneel at the altar and pray or meditate.  I wore all white just because I felt like it, and I do admit, some days I would put my white sarong over my head and dress up like a novitiate, just for fun, just because it felt good to me, even though no one else was around to see me – or I guess specifically because no one was around to see me.  (Otherwise the only opportunity I had to dress up like a nun was once a year on Halloween.)

41w5HDcnoKLThroughout the day I would stay tuned into my heart.  I know we often talk of the Temple within the heart, and it is most often used as figurative speech, but I actually would feel my little inner self inside my little inner temple in my heart.  It was like I could tune in to my heart and feel myself kneeling at the Temple in my heart, sometimes prostrating, and sometimes, when I was feeling less than surrendered, I could feel myself standing or restless, not quite in the mood to be empty or devoted.

One day as I knelt before the altar in the temple, I looked at the picture of Jesus and poured forth my love for Him and then closed my eyes with my hands on my heart.  I tuned into the Inner Temple of my heart and could feel myself kneeling with my head bowed to Christ.  All of a sudden I experience myself kneeling inside a column of white light.  It was the most exquisite, peaceful, soft and radiant white light I’d ever felt.  And I could see it as a straight and narrow column or path connecting me to God.  And it didn’t have anything to do with behavior or moral code or do’s and don’ts or should’s – the only thing that helped me stay in this beautiful exquisite blissful straight and narrow column of white light was my focus on loving God.

That was it – that was the mystical meaning of the straight and narrow path that I felt from the living word in my own heart.  I don’t know what mystical scholars or ecclesiastical books might say about what was meant with those words in the bible, but my experience of those words was about the simple and profound power of devotion.  The straight and narrow path I felt inside of me is about keeping my focus steadily on loving God.  It’s not about anything else, and it’s certainly not about judging someone that we deem to be off the straight and narrow path that we have self-righteously drawn out for ourselves.

Shiva NatarajAnd, as is usually the case, this mystical meaning of the straight and narrow focus on God can also be found in other religions with different words.  Last weekend I was over at a friend’s house and they had just acquired a new Shiva Nataraj statue.  They invited us over for puja, to bless and consecrate the new addition to their temple room.  We chanted the Om Namaha Shivaya 108 times and afterwards I stayed in the little room standing in front of the Nataraj.

Shiva is the Hindu aspect of God as the ultimate yogi, the ultimate meditator with absolute pure focus solely on God.  As I was standing in front of the Shiva statue I all of a sudden felt my spine become straight and narrow in single pointed focus on God.  I could feel Shiva’s spine as a focus so straight and narrow that it felt like a thread – a thin, glimmering, golden thread of light.

I was reminded of my experience of the straight and narrow column of light connecting me to God.  Shiva’s spine is also the straight and narrow focus on God, and it has nothing to do with renouncing or not renouncing the world, it has nothing to do with do’s and don’ts or should’s, it only has to do with getting into the state of consciousness where you are residing in single pointed focus of loving God.

The straight and narrow path is internal.  It’s all an inside job.  The mystical truth is between you and God.  And whether you practice devotion to Christ or meditation with Shiva, the straight and narrow path is found in the temple of your own heart.

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The Radical Equality of Oneness

crowd-of-peopleI recently watched a spiritual documentary, a movie meant to be inspirational for living our life purpose, which it was.  However, there was this underlying premise that I found kind of bothersome.  Some of the best-selling authors and motivational speakers kept making comments like “Most people live in a trance, unawakened and on auto-pilot.”  There was reference to shopping mall consciousness and the general apathy of the larger part of humanity.  This kind of judgmental attitude towards billions of people on the planet struck me as actually contradictory to living my soul purpose, which is to love my neighbor as my Self.

In order to inspire us to live life to the fullest and really examine our passions and purpose, do we really need to think ill of most people?  It feels kind of like flippantly saying “everything is an illusion” – it is kind of rude.  And it seems not only unkind, but untrue.

5-inspiring-photograph-helpI find that “most people” find ways to express love in their lives – small ways, big ways, medium ways, all kinds of ways.  There are billions of people all over the world who do all kinds of good things – loving their children, supporting local charities, volunteering at local churches, feeding the homeless, giving to the Humane Society, sending care packages to soldiers overseas, donating their old clothes to thrift stores, taking care of their aging parents, helping a neighbor fix their garage door…  I could type all day long and the list would not come to an end.  These are all ways of expressing love and soul purpose.

I guess some best-selling authors or motivational speakers might not see a housewife’s passion for pottery as her fulfilling her purpose or going on her hero’s journey, but it IS her way of centering herself, meditating and putting love into what she does – not just in ceramic coffee cups or vases, but in all her actions as a human citizen.  Why is that “less than” doing a series of success seminars or writing books on how to live your dreams?

man-meditating-black-color-light-SSI also hear this underlying judgment of “most people” in spiritual circles sometimes.  Some of the sweetest most well-meaning people I know talk about how we have to hold the Light for all the un-spiritual people of the world or how we are part of the 2% of those who are focused on awakening.  I am absolutely certain that I have said similar things many times, so in a way I am grateful to this movie for pointing this separation attitude out to me.  I intend to be more conscious, loving and inclusive in the future.

And it might be true that those who meditate on the Light of God hold Light for the whole planet.  I know there are great Masters and yogis in the Himalayas who spend their lives in service to the consciousness of humanity by holding the focus of God in meditation and prayer (though I doubt very much that they look down upon “most people”).  In our kirtan at Chinmaya last weekend, as we were chanting the name of God and proclaiming the victory of Lord Rama I could feel the energy ascending, radiating out in all directions and manifesting the Victory of Love on Earth!  I’m sure that was a good thing.

But there are many good things and many ways that most people hold Love and Light, too.  I want to be careful to not hang on to any subtle separation that divides the 2% from the 98% or creates any kind of us/them thinking or spiritual elite.  I don’t want to go around thinking that meditators are cooler than other people.  I am not separate from my sisters or co-workers or friends, I am not separate from all the kind-hearted people at my church who may not meditate but who have a sincere love for God and who try to be the best neighbors and grandmothers they can be.

parentWe are all part of the world we are creating together and we are all doing our parts to the best of our ability.  Who am I to say that my part is any more important that anyone else’s?  What would happen if all parents in the world stopped loving their children?  What would that do to the vibration of human consciousness?  I can’t even imagine how much upliftment and love all the parents of the world add to humanity!  Is it more or less than the amount of love people on a path of spiritual awakening contribute?

What would happen if all the dogs and cats in the world stopped being cute and opening human hearts to feel love? What would that do to the sum total of love in the world?  For that matter, what would happen if crickets stopped chirping their eternal Om?  How would that change the vibration of the planet?

What would happen if all those people who “just” go to church on Sundays stopped going to church?  If all the millions if not billions of people who go to churches and synagogues and mosques and temples to sing praises and honor God for an hour or two every week stopped doing that?  When I started going to the All Saints Cathedral I’d watch everyone standing in line going up for communion.  Some people would hold their hands in prayer, some people would stand in line glancing around at the people coming and going, but they were all participating in becoming one with the body of Christ.  Who am I to say that the person holding their hands in prayer is worth more spiritually?  Who am I to say that this person is contributing more than that person?  All I see is that something holy is happening and so many people are participating and it makes God happy and it’s 662026beautiful.  It could be that the 98% who focus on God one hour a week do more for human consciousness than the 2% that focus on God 40 hours a week.  I don’t think there is really a way to do the math, but the point is, it’s all good, we’re all contributing love to the world.

We are all an intricate whole.  We are all doing our parts and adding our vibrations of love in our own ways and we are all dependent on each other.  I don’ even know if I COULD  be focused on God or awakening if it wasn’t for all the people in the world loving their sons and daughters or their dogs and cats or their spouses.  If all those billions of people stopped holding love in their hearts and their daily lives, if all the artists and craftsmen of the world stopped putting love into every stitch, would there even be enough love in the world for me to focus on loving God?  Maybe the world would fall into such a low vibration that I would just fall into chaos and despair?  Could I even hope to awaken without everyone else doing their parts in the collective consciousness?

Instead of thinking of “most people” as living in an unconscious trance, I should be grateful to every single one of them for all the ways they help to lift me up!

I read the online bio of one of the speakers in the movie and it said “so-and-so is a major, major player in the spiritual transformation taking place on the planet today.”  It struck me as almost strange to say that.  Is that what we should want?  As a spiritual blogger, peace activist and someone wanting to help all of humanity live in Peace, Love and Happiness, should I, too, strive to be a major, major player?

MLK 1I know that there are great teachers and wondrous leaders in the world, of course, and I admire and love them and am grateful for all their inspiration and the power of their love.  But Martin Luther King could not do what he did without the nameless guy walking behind him, the nameless son of a nameless mother who feared for his life as he marched.  There were thousands of those nameless someones who marched and stood with Martin Luther King in countless unknown ways.  There were also all the nameless people sitting in their living rooms watching the protests, watching the injustice, feeling horrified as the peaceful protesters were beaten and arrested, simply for asking for equality.  Could the world have changed without those people feeling their hearts touched and crying alone in their homes?  Could we have changed our collective consciousness without any part of the whole?  We were all doing our part and in that way Martin Luther King is no greater than the nameless sons and daughters who marched with him or the nameless fathers and mothers who watched with wrenching hearts on the television set.  Or if he is greater, at least he is not separate from any one of us.

I think that if there is anything that makes a great leader great, that makes someone a “major, major player” in our evolution, it is the ability and the humility to see ourselves in all of humanity, to see ourselves as part of a greater whole and to love that wholeness as our Self.  There is a radical equality in Oneness, and to truly hold the Light for the planet is to remove any subtle judgments or separation, to see the beauty and perfection of “most people”, and to simply LOVE.

Sun light love

Everything in Moderation, Even Moderation

c71154b62e816f03e6f0a6ccfebe0326Given that it is the beginning of the New Year and the store aisles are featuring weights and scales and exercise videos and the collective consciousness is rife with excessive resolutions about moderation, I thought it would be a good time to contemplate both sides of the spectrum, and the middle of the spectrum, as it were.

The West has the adage “Everything in moderation.”  Buddhists have the Middle Path.  Islam has the path of Enlightened moderation.  In Hinduism there is the balance between Advaita and Dvaita, seeing the world as illusion AND as real, being at once detached and engaged.

It seems that moderation is also the rule of nature.  Temperatures are not too high or too low (Global Warming notwithstanding), animal populations have a balance of death and new life and lions only kill one gazelle at a time.  Inside our bodies this middle path is called homeostasis – even in our bones we have a balance between bone production and bone destruction.

And I do believe that moderation is a good thing – a little bit of potassium is necessary to live, too much can kill you.  It is clear that the excesses of Western Civilization have had devastating effects (killing a lot more than one gazelle at a time) and can lead to catastrophic effects (aforementioned Global Warming).  And physically, one glass of wine in the evening may have health benefits, but 5 or 6 is detrimental not only to the liver but to the quality of one’s life on many levels.

In Religion, moderation is a key to compassion and respect of all human beings and cultures.  Moderation is what keeps us from going to extremes of self-righteousness which leads to fanaticism and the most hideous of extremes – hate in the name of love.

Spiritually, moderation is a very important quality.  Without moderation we can get lost in our relationships, our emotions, our attachments, our attainments, even our suffering.  I have learned the painful lesson that without moderation we can lose our connection to that still small voice and listen to the sometimes louder voice of outer extremes.  A spiritual path without moderation can even be dangerous.

Yet, in contradicting myself again, I also believe it’s not good to practice moderation to the extreme.  We don’t want to be so moderate that we are passion-less.  We don’t want to be so middle of the road that we don’t stand for anything.  We don’t want to be so detached that we don’t care.  We don’t want to be so moderate that we hold back our full self and live a half-hearted life.

There are a few things that should be done fully, completely, 110%, no holds barred, do or die, no limits, go for it like there ain’t no mountain high enough!

Loving God is something I recommend doing to the extreme.  That one I am sure about – don’t hold back for any reason.  I guess some would say you should love God in moderation because you need to also feed your family and pay your bills – but I say Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might – and do so WHILE feeding your family and paying your bills.   God wants your children to eat.  God loves your children absolutely, so I would even venture to say that loving God in excess will help you feed your family.  If you are doing something in the name of loving God that somehow interferes with your children eating, then it’s not really loving God.  There is absolutely no reason you can’t take care of daily life while loving God with absolute abandon.

thakur_hriday2I guess sometimes you can love God so much that you go into a state of ecstatic rapture and are not able to write checks, but even so, I say go for it.  It only takes a minute to write a check, so then you have hours to reside in ecstatic bliss.  And if you plan on doing this frequently, like Ramakrishna, make sure that you have someone around you to write those checks for you and to put your loin cloth back on if it falls off while you are in a blissful state of oneness with the Lord.

Most of us don’t need to be concerned about not knowing when our loin cloth falls off because we are so busy loving God to the extreme, like Ramakrishna, and if that is a concern, I’d consider that good fortune and not a reason to love God any less.

Loving our neighbors as our Selves is also something I recommend doing whole-heartedly.  I believe as a soul incarnated here, I am to love my neighbor as I love God – unconditionally, completely and without limits.  And just as there are those who say love God in moderation, there are also those who say love others in moderation – you need to also take care of your self.  And yes, this is true.  We do need to not only eat and sleep but also replenish ourselves emotionally and spiritually – and if we don’t, we will not be able to continue giving.  Yet – this moderation does not mean that we need to LOVE any less.

Indeed, this need for moderation in sleep and food is often confused for an excuse to limit loving – but again, loving your neighbor as your Self does not mean that you do not eat or sleep – it simply means you LOVE your fellow human beings with your whole heart and strive to love them as God loves them.  There is absolutely no reason you can’t eat and sleep while loving your neighbor as your Self.

And it is very important to distinguish between this energy of pure love and its distant dysfunctional cousin, co-dependency.  Giving away your Self to a man or a woman or a parent or any other ego identification is NOT love.  And this same co-dependence can even be acted out in a cause – giving your whole self to feeding the hungry, but from a place of guilt or anger or escaping what you don’t want to face in your own life.  So – in the case of co-dependence, moderation IS good.

MotherTeresaHowever, this is not LOVE.  What I am talking about is LOVING thy neighbor as thy Self in the extreme, no limits – like you are loving God.  When feeding the hungry comes from that place, it is far from dysfunctional, it is saintly and Divine.  Co-dependence in human relationships is the opposite of loving your neighbor, just as fanaticism in religion is the opposite of loving God.  Mother Teresa was not a religious fanatic or a co-dependent do-gooder.  Her mind was balanced and her heart was open and flexible, and she loved humanity to the extreme.  She loved humanity as she loved God.  We should all be a little more like her.

Moderation and extremism is a complicated issue.  It is full of paradoxes and contradiction, open-ended questions and infinite possibilities on both ends of the spectrum and in the extreme point in the Middle.  However, if I were to conclude something , it would be this:

Live life to the fullest, but don’t get addicted to dare-devil sports that will kill you cave-diving when you’re 21.  Love God with all your might, love thy neighbor as thy Self  – to the extreme, and do so with a very high level of discernment and balance of mind.  Extreme love also requires extreme consciousness or it can turn into the opposite of love.  Everything in moderation, even moderation.

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Painting by Jim Thompson at www.art-mind-soul.com