Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu ~ May All Beings Everywhere Be Happy

Amma prayersAbout 3 weeks ago I was browsing Facebook.  I have my doubts about the merits of Facebook, as when I spend too much time flipping through post upon post I feel my brain turn to mush and my productivity draining out of me, yet I do believe, when used responsibly, it can be a force for good.  And here is the proof.

On this occasion I came across a picture of Amma standing amid a crowd and the caption said she was leading the chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,” – a sanskrit chant that is translated as “May All Beings in All the Worlds be Peaceful and Happy.”

It was just a quick glance, I didn’t even click on the “read more” option and scrolled down to the squirrel in front of the Buddha statue and the mini-pig jumping in a pool.  I regretfully admit that I spent more time watching the video of the dog walking on its front legs for a full two minutes peeing than I did reading the post from Amma’s Facebook page.  But through the mercy and blessing of Amma, after I saw that picture I all of a sudden had that chant stuck in my head.

I have had chants stuck in my head before after attending a community satsang or burning a hole in my Krishna Das CD. But this was unusual because it’s not a chant I have chanted before and it’s not a chant I even knew at the time – yet I found it repeating itself in my head even as I was scrambling for the words.  It was like my mind was involuntarily half-mumbling this chant over and over, all of this going on internally as I was busy going about my day.

After a couple of hours of mumbling a chant I didn’t know I looked it up on you tube and found this version by Wah – and then I had something to listen to on the outside that matched what was going on inside.

Since I was being given this blessing (it is infinitely better to have a sacred chant stuck in your head than for example a song “all about that bass” which can also happen) – I gratefully learned the chant and joined in with my conscious mind whenever I did not have some other task requiring mental concentration.  I chanted under my breath at my desk at work.  I chanted as I drove to and from work or anywhere else for that matter.  I chanted as I walked my dog Peachy in the evenings.  I chanted as I cooked dinner in my kitchen.  I chanted as I brushed my teeth morning and evening.  And for almost two weeks I felt the chant going constantly in the background even as I was engaged in conversation or attending meetings at work.Amma 14

In first reading the meaning of the chant, it seems like a prayer – like a request, asking God or the universe or some all-powerful being somewhere for all beings everywhere to be peaceful and happy.  So I thought, great – what a good thing to do as I’m walking across campus to pick up the business department mail – even if it looks like I’m mumbling to myself, I might as well be praying for peace and happiness for all.  But as I continued to chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” I started feeling that it is much more than a prayer – it is a state of consciousness.

In chanting those words I was getting in touch with the part of God that holds for the peace and happiness of all souls, of all Her children.  I was noticing that each time I sat down to meditate I had an easier time going into a state of peacefulness, slipping right into a calm steady happiness as soon as I closed my eyes.  One time when I took Peachy down to the fort I sat down on the grass with some live musician playing in the background and plenty of tourists milling about, and as soon as I closed my eyes and focused on the chant I could feel the vastness and eternity of God that is IN and behind and underneath everything as this state of peaceful happiness.  I could feel this chant as God holding everyone – all beings in all the worlds – with this loving happy presence of peace.  I could feel all the tourists around me, the musician playing across the street, all the people in all of St Augustine being held in this Presence.  And not just now, but beyond time.  It was like I could feel this constant loving Presence of happiness holding all beings through all of time – through the most ancient days of this ancient city, I could feel this Presence, somehow connected from where I was sitting to these men and women from long ago.

I realized that this chant is not just a prayer – it is not just asking “May all beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.”  It is the actual state of consciousness of Peace and Happiness that is just a click away from all of us – right next to us, right under every cell of our beings – there It is, just waiting for us to shift, to let go into It.  So, in chanting this prayer we can merge with God’s own wish for all beings everywhere to live in peace and happiness, and in praying the same prayer God prays, we become just a little bit closer to God ourselves.

Amma 10Just a few days after this experience I saw yet another post that read “Amma’s intention is that each person somehow grow closer to God.”  So, for this blessing, I thank Ammachi and Facebook!

World Peace is Logical

2013-12-17 17.15.58I am currently auditing a college class in the Religion and Philosophy department.  After 20 years of being on an experiential spiritual path I wanted to experience the study of Religion and though there has been no chanting, praying or ecstatic unions with the Divine, we have had some great discussions.  On Tuesday three students gave a presentation about Jainism in which they spoke of the Jain belief that world peace will come from people individually finding inner peace. After their summary of the book they read on Jainism they presented some discussion questions for the class – one of which was “Do you think World Peace is possible?”

Sadly, but maybe expectedly, several students gave the answer that though World Peace is a nice idea it is not realistic and that because of “human nature” they don’t think it could ever be achieved. Finally, I raised my hand and said “Not only do I think World Peace is possible, I think it’s inevitable.” I heard one student in the back yell “Right on!”

Of course as more and more people find inner peace there will be world peace.  The idea that the world can change based on individual people changing is so obvious it’s hard for me to understand how anyone can think it’s not realistic. To me, it’s a “duh.” It is simply logical. It’s not even airy fairy or far out in the least– it’s just common sense. 

OF COURSE as individual consciousness changes the collective consciousness changes! Collective human consciousness, or “human nature,” is not some separate thing of its own, some detached creature or monster that will always be prone to war and violence and greed. I know we talk about it that way – just like we talk about “the economy” as if it’s a living thing in and of itself with headlines like “Stock Market Panics” or “Wall Street In Pain.” But the economy is made up of individual people. We created it, so we can re-create it and change it in any way we want to. And the same is true for our collective consciousness and the world we live in.

Collective human consciousness is by definition simply the sum total of all of our individual consciousness – it is literally made up of each person’s thoughts and emotions and as each person changes, the collective changes. That isn’t some difficult or far off theory or wishful thinking – it is simply what IS.

So of course as each person evolves and grows and becomes more loving, compassionate, understanding and peaceful, the collective will change also.

Here is a video of the movie director David Lynch and physicist Dr. John Hegelin talking about how people think of Peace as a nice little lady idea, but that there is electromagnetic and quantum physics science behind the creation of Peace from the Unified Field.

In addition to the energetic effects of the collective consciousness, there is the societal effect.  When these changes in individual consciousness happen, it affects everyone in that person’s circle of influence. That person will treat their co-workers differently, share their new perspective with their parents, speak differently to their uncles at Thanksgiving. They will raise their children to love their neighbor, to not hate the Other, to respect life and practice compassion. The more and more this is being taught in our schools and to our children, the more and more this will just become a part of normal life – as much a part of any culture as speaking a language or wearing clothes.

220px-ShivabalayogiFurthermore, just ONE individual consciousness can have a much greater impact than just their one share of the human vote. Look at Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa. You can even look at Oprah Winfrey or Angelina Jolie! And these are just our well known historical and societal celebrities. There are also the spiritual celebrities or consciousness heavy weights!  My friend Suresh was telling me over dinner how one day he was driving with a friend through Bangalore, India and all of a sudden he felt an immense pulse of Peace come over him.  He didn’t know why so he asked his friend what the building was they had just driven by and found out it was Shivayabalayogi‘s ashram and the Swami was holding satsang.  And the day I spent at the M.A. Center in San Ramon, CA when Ammachi was there I was completely uplifted into a consciousness of absolute peace beyond time and space!  I was aware of the sound and the beat of the music but I was witnessing it from the state of timelessness and the eternity of Stillness and Peace that is behind all things.  Ammachi’s being radiates such tremendous love and compassion that it is palpable – it was like I could physically feel a difference in my cells just from being in her presence. She adds much more peace to the collective consciousness than one little jerk can add negativity.

So, for many reasons, it doesn’t have to be 100% of people to change. It’s not like if 75% of people become peaceful there would still be the 25% who remain assholes and run around being violent and warring and carrying on. That is the beauty of collective consciousness – the collective can carry us, it can create a field of peace and calmness that forms our collective reality.

And for those who don’t believe in the power of ashram drive-by’s, there is peer-reviewed scientific studies that show that a small number of people focusing on Peace can have an effect on the greater whole. There are clips of this research on the Meditation and World Peace page, but in essence – for group meditation or prayer to have a scientifically measurable effect of peace on a society, it only takes the square root of 1% of a population. For a city of one million that is only about 100 people coming together in group meditation, creating a state of inner peace inside themselves to decrease the amount of violence for everyone in the whole city. And studies show that it only takes 1% of a population to have a personal practice of meditation or some form of centering prayer to stop the rise of violent crime rates in that society – so even our own individual changes in our personal lives create a scientifically measurable increase in peace for our society as a whole.

meditation_image_550_wThen you look at mainstream culture. Meditation is becoming more and more popular. It has proven health benefits and is being taught in all kinds of yoga classes, stress reduction seminars and success workshops around the world. If only 1% of the population meditating can stop the trend of rising violent crime – imagine what will happen when meditation is as common as exercising or brushing your teeth!   When 10% of the population meditates crime rates will decline by large percentages. When 20% meditates there will be greater coherence and peace in the society as a whole. When 40% of the population finds inner peace conflict will cease, peaceful solutions will be the only acceptable reality. Imagine what will happen when 51% of the population finds inner peace!

These are just percentages that I am imagining. As far as I know there isn’t any scientific evidence that shows what exactly will happen as each percentage point of inner peace is reached. And I don’t think that it even needs to reach 51% to have a tipping point. But my point is – World Peace is absolutely possible and achievable. As much as we can look at the news, at what is happening in Israel and Gaza or Syria and Iraq or Sri Lanka and many other places in the world – there is so much change and evolution of consciousness all around us that we just ignore or take for granted. It was only 140 years ago that we had slaves in this country! It was only 140 years ago when one human being could own another human being! As Louis C.K. puts it in the clip on the Video Inspiration page: “That is just two 70 year old ladies living and dying back to back – that is how recently you could buy a guy.” How foreign and distant and unthinkable does that seem to us now? How much has the collective consciousness changed in just 140 years?

Nehru & GandhiHow can it be considered so “unrealistic” that in another 140 years the act of war or the act of one human being murdering another human being will be just as unthinkable?  When in fact the act of one human being murdering another human being is unthinkable to MOST people already! And for some strange reason, those same people who wouldn’t even punch someone in the face think when nations murder human beings it’s just an inevitable part of “human nature.”  As Nehru points out – that is just silly:

“If two men fight in the streets the policeman separates them and everybody thinks how silly they are. But how much sillier and more foolish it is for great countries to fight each other and kill thousands and millions. It is just like two savages fighting in the jungles. And if the savages are called barbarous, how much more barbarous are the countries that behave in that way?”  ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

So here is my If and Then:  If human nature or the collective consciousness is simply made up of each individual’s consciousness and those individuals are changing and becoming more compassionate and peaceful, then the logical conclusion is a world that is more compassionate and peaceful.  So, that is why I say World Peace is possible.  World Peace is inevitable.  World Peace is logical.


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Changing Our Selves AND Changing the World

be-the-change-you-wantWhen Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world” he did not mean to just be the change on your yoga mat. Can anyone accuse Gandhi of sitting idly by in meditation – transforming himself inwardly as the world around him was unjust, brutal and violent? No. Gandhi did not simply meditate for peace and justice – he used the inner peace he found in meditation to take action and create real and meaningful change in the world.  The inner transformation through spiritual practice awakens in us a hunger for more love, compassion and justice in the world.

To me, what Gandhi meant is for us to have a unity of inner life and outer life – to have our quest for peace and justice in the world be reflected by peace and equanimity inside. Otherwise, we could be working for peace on the outside while raging with hatred against the world on the inside – and no matter what the anger or hatred is about, it is still putting out the vibrations of anger and hatred into the world, it is still polluting the collective mind. And, the nature of anger is that it cannot be contained or aimed just at one thing – it seeps out in how we treat those around us, those we love and anyone we come in contact with. So, if we are working for peace and we continue to rage inside, we are being counterproductive and working against ourselves and against peace.

Yet, I have often encountered people who say “Be the change you wish to see in the world” as a way to ONLY focus on change inside and not do anything in the outer world for change, to simply meditate every morning or say a prayer for peace before bed each night, but not think about the social impacts their choices or actions have on our world and the people around them. And yes, prayers and meditation for God’s Peace on earth are very good, but I don’t think Gandhi meant for us to ONLY change inside, to go to church on Sundays or take a yoga class on Thursdays and not take it any further than that. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “Union” – and how could you truly practice Union and realize the Oneness you share with all of life and then stand by and do nothing? When you truly realize the Union of life, the Union of God, you cannot sit by and watch the suffering of others and just say, oh well, I’m meditating.  I think our prayers for peace are meant to be ceaseless and to encompass all our actions in life.

The Dalai Lama has also said “Change only takes place through action, not through meditation and prayer alone.” And in a recent public talk when asked “What is the most important meditation technique at this time?” his answer was “Action,” – to meditate in order to take it into action.

There needs to be a balance of inner and outer focus. If we only focus on social activism and political action we get burnt out and bitter. There are plenty of politicians or social activists who start out with a mission for good and end up with toxic thoughts and angry actions. If we only focus on inner prayer or meditation we get self-absorbed and isolated in our own little world.  There are plenty of well-meaning people who set out to change the world by changing their own hearts but drift off into la-la land and lose touch with reality.

I think that the great spiritual leaders of peace and social change in our world have modeled this balance for us to apply in our own small ways. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and those who have changed entire nations through Love and Truth Force – they use their inner focus on the Divine or the spirit as a way to keep them inspired and in a state of love in their actions for change in the world.

Amma-5201There is also the truth that we cannot change the world simply by changing the outside circumstances – that to create lasting change we must create a change in consciousness. As the beautiful Ammachi put it “Simply transferring the world’s nuclear weapons to a museum will not in itself bring about world peace. The nuclear weapons of the mind must first be eliminated.”

So, to create this change in consciousness we must first do it in ourselves – we must first be the change we wish to see. And then through action, inspiration, education, osmosis, transmission and electromagnetics we can begin to change the consciousness of others – and thus, change the world.