Nitya Teachings

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Isa Upanishad 12-15

7/10/12

Mantras 12-14

 

Those who worship non-becoming (the

unmanifest) enter into blinding ignorance;

again those who are delighted in forms

of becoming, they enter into darkness

which is still greater, as it were.

 

What pertains to the world of becoming

is different, they say. That which pertains

to non-becoming is different, they say.

From the wise who have explained that

to us, thus we have heard.

 

Whoever comes to know the world of

becoming and destruction, both of them

together, crosses over death with

destruction and attains to immortality

with the world of becoming.

 

         Three mantras nearly identical to the previous group unite the manifested and unmanifested, or becoming and non-becoming. The division is often given as being and becoming. The dialectical pattern they sketch out can be used to unite any and all dualities, for anyone who wishes to cross over the death of ignorance and attain the immortal state of fearlessness.

         Mantra 13 can be confusing if we read it that the wise have pointed out the differences in the two horns of the dilemma, but that isn’t the intent. The “they” is ordinary linear thinkers, not the wise. The wise teach dialectical yoga, in which both sides are brought together. While religions are famous for their intolerance and narrow-mindedness, Edward O. Wilson, in The Social Conquest of Earth, (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2012), exemplifies the separatism of highly intelligent people who likewise insist that their view is “different,” that they are right and their opponents are wrong. In comparing religious and scientific myths, he writes:

 

Can these two worldviews ever be reconciled? The answer, to put the matter honestly and simply, is no. They cannot be reconciled. Their opposition defines the difference between science and religion, between trust in empiricism and belief in the supernatural…. If the great riddle of the human condition cannot be solved by recourse to the mythic foundations of religion, neither will it be solved by introspection. Unaided rational inquiry has no way to conceive its own process. (8)

 

Of course, there are a number of ways to reconcile science and religion, if such is your intent. But humans have evolved to position themselves as opponents to a perceived enemy, which undoubtedly was helpful for survival in hostile environments once upon a time. The rishis are trying to lead us now into a healthier dimension that can be entered from the relatively benign environment of the present. All we have to do is let go of our insistence on difference and instead look for the similarities.

         I suppose I shouldn’t overanalyze the Wilson snippet, but it’s worth noting that he equates introspection with “unaided rational inquiry,” which are not the same. Introspection is how we go beyond rationality to access the deeper aspects of our being. Wilson is forced by this error to assert simultaneously that the unconscious is inaccessible and that brain science will uncover all its (entirely physical!) secrets “within a generation.”

         Here’s one way to reconcile science and religion: they are collective attempts to explain the human condition. Each new insight may make the previous conception obsolete in some respects, but the conflicts are over who accepts what insight, not the goal itself, which in every case is understanding. People argue and fight over their turf, but that is merely a choice they make to truncate their vision. They could just as easily accept the kernel of truth in even the wildest theories, but due to previous conflicts—serious ones, like religious fanatics burning scientists at the stake—partisans cling to defensive postures. Yet it is possible to guard our safety and still bring a unitive understanding to the field.

         Nitya resolves this paradox brilliantly in his commentary on Darsanamala. Here’s a favorite quote from it I have shared before, which still hasn’t caught on in academia, apparently:

 

As a result of the conditioning of the faithful by the established religions, and of the skeptics by the categoric statements of science, man has become bifurcated in his sense of his true beingness. Having thus separated him from his true ground—that substratum that gives rise to all beings—those responsible for this have largely repressed in him the sense of wonder and delight in which one who knows his true being lives all the time. Looking in vain for some religious statement or scientific formula which will neatly encompass the whole mystery of being, so that we can file it away in our box of consumer goods and calendar maxims, we have forgotten that the mystery we seek to penetrate is our own mystery. (56)

 

I can think of no better example than Nitya’s paean to the humble spider in his commentary on these mantras. Where the scientist strives for detached observation of minute details, and in the process pulverizes any sense of meaning, Nitya is raised by a similar but more open observation to a mystical height that informs him with wonder and delight. Omitting the value factor, the ananda, simultaneously removes the joy. And what’s the point? Truth is an amalgam of three essential aspects: sat-chit-ananda, or existence-consciousness-meaning. Even science has known for over a hundred years that existence cannot stand on its own, separate from consciousness at least, if not meaning, but scientists keep trying anyway.

         There are so many ways this plays out. The Isa Upanishad is urging us to bring this to bear everywhere in our life. Chapter XII of the Bhagavad Gita addresses the exact same dichotomy in great depth. The Gita also focuses on karma and jnana, action and knowledge, close cousins to the manifested/unmanifested duality of these mantras. Let me quote myself, from the introduction to Chapter III:

 

  It is quite common for neophytes to believe that spiritual wisdom and action are distinct and separate categories, and that action must be curtailed to make room for wisdom. When the duties of everyday life impinge on our peace of mind, we often imagine that if only we could get away from our problems, we could be more spiritual. Many popular spiritual pathways are designed to minimize activity in order to free the psyche. The Gita does not accept this as anything more than wishful thinking. Activity is not only crucial to a healthy life, it is unavoidable. Thought being unconnected to action can even be dangerous, allowing wild fantasies to plague the mind and lure it into seductive sidetracks. The mind is much more stable when it is grounded in action. So we should treat the conflicts we find ourselves facing not as obstacles to be evaded, but as opportunities to refine our behavior.

 

         Jan liked a favorite idea of Nitya’s found in this commentary also, that all creatures are co-creators with God. God or the Absolute needs us to manifest manifestation. We are the very implements to implement a universe. How else could it happen? Whatever we do brings something new and miraculous into existence. Like spiders spinning beautiful and useful webs, we should spin out our lives. And like the scientist—to say nothing of the untutored spider—we really have no idea of the source of our dynamism. Very often the myths we employ, whether scientific or religious, only obscure the channeling of creative energy into manifestation. If the baby spider had to be instructed, it would have to carefully work up to web building. But knowing nothing and totally untutored, it makes them all perfectly.

         This concept made several class members eager to try to bring some fresh energy into their lives. We all agreed that we have learned in childhood to suppress our creative urges, lest we be humiliated or punished for them. Now that we are adults, however, we could dare to follow our bliss if we can tempt it to come back. That is a primary reason for meditation: to sweep away the obstacles we have put in place to bottle up the Absolute that is our very nature, always trying to blossom forth to create new forms of beauty. If the class can encourage even one more drop of free creativity, it will be worthwhile.

         Scotty knew precisely what the rishis are getting at. As an artist, he now has confidence to approach his canvases fearlessly, but there was a time when he would think, “I have to figure out how to do this painting.” Whenever he thought of himself as the doer, the creativity immediately dried up. So that had to go. This is what acting with expertise means. We don’t have to rely on any creation myth to sustain us, but can dive directly into life as we love it. Thinking in terms of a co-creative partnership with some invisible factor helps mitigate the ego’s destructive clinging, opening doors to new possibilities.

         We talked about various techniques of how to subvert our defenses to allow new patterns to emerge, which is a perennial challenge for creatures designed to seek stasis in habitual situations. We are soliciting examples of success, small or large, for you to report on in the future. Their size doesn’t matter.

         The trick, as both Deb and Michael admitted, is that some inspirations are very worthwhile and others are garbage, and our task is to sort out which is which. Our default setting is suppress them all, but then our creativity drops to zero. Yet even searching them as they enter our awareness is disruptive. It’s a very tricky business. It definitely helps to reassure ourselves that what comes along is likely to be okay, because we have to correct for the heavy emphasis on self-censorship already in place.

         And here is where we can give the E.O. Wilsons of the world a pass: he got down on his knees before the humble ant, looked closely with minimal preconceptions, and then insights started pouring out. While rejecting everything resembling the Isa Upanishad, he was nonetheless following its advice perfectly. We can embrace his conclusions while seeing their limitations too. He has been a masterful co-creator in his own unique way, with something he is certain does not exist. So be it. As Nitya says of enlightened seers, “They do not upset the faith of simple folks.”

 

Part II

         Here’s a clip from my Gita commentary, on III, 19, which bears on how to avoid some pitfalls in promoting our innate creativity. Chapters III and IV are eminently germane to this important feature of spiritual life:

 

19)         Therefore always remain detached, engage yourself in actions that are necessary; indeed, performing actions with detachment man attains to the Supreme.

 

         For the first time the Gita mentions detachment, which is one of several buzzwords like sacrifice and worship in dire need of revaluation. Simplistic interpretations lead to psychic deadening, quite the opposite of the Gita’s intention. Does a dispassionate attitude mean nonparticipation in life? The usual assumption is that it does; yet the usual assumption is wrong. As with dualistic vs. unitive action, there is a subtle distinction involved that makes all the difference.

         We adopt a negative, unhelpful form of dispassion as children, when our enthusiasms are thwarted by adults and we have no way to express ourselves as we wish. We learn to turn off our own feelings and sit in a sullen, resentful stillness, which adults often consider acceptable. After all, to them being still is being “well behaved.” If we’re well behaved we are left alone to work out our personal programs in secret. This is a very common behavioral quirk that gets easily laid over the transcendental concept of dispassion. We think we are supposed to suppress ourselves in the interest of some externally ordained divine program. It’s an extension of following the rules of polite society.

         Suppression of action leads to chaos in the psyche. It will appear to be exemplary behavior for awhile, and may fool other people, but it has an extremely corrosive effect in the long term. The process of severing ties with the world that passes for detachment is often cruel and unnecessary. The Gita prefers expert interaction with everything one encounters.

         Krishna is teaching that detachment is not the mere withdrawal from action, not simply the antithesis of impulsive behavior. By balancing the urge to act with the stillness of inaction, a neutral, poised state of mind emerges as the synthesis, which is the optimal attitude. We can most easily see this in the artist who holds all extraneous thoughts in abeyance while simultaneously plunging ahead with the production of the work.

         In a nutshell, when one is satisfied in the Self, fully absorbed and grounded in the eternal Absolute, it is easy and effortless to view fleeting events from a detached perspective. In ordinary life we fixate on the changing and forget the eternal aspect of what we encounter. We are now being asked to reincorporate the eternal into the transient. Both the lasting and the temporary belong together in a total realization of the nature of the universe.

         Lastly, it bears mentioning that the necessary actions Krishna is referring to are things like taking care of the body, activities really and truly mandated by nature. Religious-minded commentators always imagine that their particular favorite ideology is “necessary” but that is an unwarranted interpretation contrary to the spirit of the Gita.

 

7/17/12

Mantras 12-14 (new)

 

Into blinding darkness

enter they who worship non-becoming.

Into darkness greater than that, as it were,

enter they who delight in becoming.

 

Other is that which pertains to becoming, they say,

that which pertains to non-becoming is another.

Thus we have heard it from the wise

who have explained that to us.

 

One who knows both of these together,

becoming and destruction,

having overcome death with destruction,

enjoys immortality with becoming.

 

         The Isa Upanishad’s example of how to perform wisdom yoga is now applied to becoming and non-becoming. As mentioned before, the same technique can be applied to any duality, especially those where the polarities are in conflict, where each side insists that theirs is the right way and the other is wrong.

         Nitya starts off with an unusual use of the terms rupam (form) and akriti, which he defines as shape. (By shape he apparently means the form’s functionality, how it does what it does.) They are paired so that form is the unmanifest aspect and shape is the way it manifests. As Bill noted, Nitya is here using form to mean latent potential, while shape is its functional actualization. Michael pointed out that in art it is exactly the opposite: the shape is a geometrical configuration of the abstract essence, while the form is the fleshing out of the shape with all its details. It took us awhile to get this all sorted out.

         What threw us off a bit was that usually in the Gurukula, nama and rupa, name and form, comprise the horizontal axis. Form is the objective or positive pole, and name is its conceptual counterpart, standing for all the ways we describe and think about objects. These are transformed as the potential becomes actualized, in other words as we move up the vertical pole over time. In this essay Nitya has moved form to the vertical axis, with shape as its horizontal manifestation. It’s important to note the switch, which is fine as long as we recognize what’s going on. The structural scheme of the horizontal and vertical can be used in any manner of ways, as long as the poles remain integrated.

         Akriti makes a perfectly fine horizontal pole. You can see it’s related to prakriti, nature, which is a classic horizontal image when paired with purusha, spirit or Self, as the vertical. A-kriti is a single event of doing, while pra-kriti is all the events of doing taken together. Nature is the collective doing of all the potentials being actualized.

         Susan insisted that we give examples of this polarity, since becoming and non-becoming are Vedantic clichés and don’t readily make sense to most of us. This was a very welcome request, and we hope to have additional contributions from willing participants in the future.

         First, we should have a clear definition of just what sambhuti-asambhuti means. Bill’s duality of potential-manifest is perfect. We can add action and thought, life and death, moving and still, and caring and unconcerned, to name a few. Moni added the known and the unknown. Whichever we choose, Nitya’s essay is an eloquent testament to the importance of integrating both aspects, to rise above the lopsided approach we so easily fall into.

         Susan herself gave an excellent example, of childrearing. It is quite natural for a parent to control their child’s life, especially early on. As the child grows, the control must be reduced and sovereignty granted. But the parent may bring in traumatic memories that make their control somewhat obsessive. Being a wise parent is a continuous struggle to correct for the distortions and extraneous demands that are otherwise brought in without reflection. The parent is in a power position where they could just insist, “do it because I say so!” This only works until the child becomes strong enough to insist on their right to independence. So control and freedom vie with each other and have to be intelligently paired by the caring parent. It’s a perennial struggle.

         There are also plenty of parents who are too preoccupied with their rajas or tamas to pay much (or any) attention to their kids. When children have to figure everything out for themselves, the results can be very dismal. They need, if not control, at least an example of how to act. Nitya puts this poignantly:

 

Parents, teachers neighbors and such elders occupy themselves with the responsibility of bringing coordination to the child’s faculties so that they will begin to see what relevant functions are “out there” in the world to fit into their daily programs. Where there is no coordination or knowledge of the appropriate shapes and the consequential relationship of one shape with another, the child is disposed to a state of inaction such as we see in an imbecile or an idiot. Certainly it is to be lamented when a child is lost in this sad way. In the present mantra such a state of asambhuti is considered to be one of despair. It is like a blind person to whom no aid is given to establish an orientation in the world. Less and less knowledge means less and less coordination. The idea of having a purpose and one’s commitment to it comes only when a person can appreciate how efficiently one can use one’s many faculties to implement a number of useful activities.

  A normal human being does not get enough opportunity to discover even twenty percent of their innate potentials and possibilities for achieving technical skills. Here technical skill is a blanket phrase which covers all other skills—moral, aesthetic, intellectual, organizational and spiritual. The world is like a super machine of cosmic dimension. Every person in the world is so placed that they have a vital role to play in maintaining the world in its maximum harmony. If a person is not conversant with their assignment in this world, it is like becoming insensitive, and thus a dysfunctional part of the world. One becomes acutely benumbed with one’s asambhuti. Even in disastrous situations of dire consequences the insensitive person does not see oncoming danger and succumbs to it. So it is only appropriate to say that a person lost in asambhuti or the inability to program is in a perpetual position of losing opportunities and even of losing life.

 

There are also parents who are ferociously controlling, or who employ religious terrorism to bolster their control with the fear of hellfire. It’s impossible to say which is the greater darkness, really, between excessive control or none at all. I think that’s why the Upanishad says “greater darkness, as it were,” because both approaches taken in isolation lead to greater darkness, or spiritual deadness. When integrated, they lead to immortality, meaning fearlessness, confidence, a feeling of fitting in or acting well. Integration leads to integrity.

         Nitya mentions the benefits of the so-called Green Revolution and the deadly dangers of genetic manipulation. John noted that nowadays they are no longer separate issues: further crop yields are being sought mainly through tinkering with genes, with terrifying implications. There is strong evidence not only that insects are evolving into “super bugs” immune to genetically modified pesticides, but the modified genes are surviving in human digestive tracts and even being transmitted to fetuses. (See for instance, “Nature fights back - bugs devour GM Monsanto corn with a vengeance,”

http://www.naturalnews.com/036254_GM_corn_rootworm_crop_failures.html

         The class generalized this to technology in general. Technological innovations almost always have an upside and a downside. A naïve but persistent belief among humans is that technology is inherently good; therefore anything that can be developed should be developed. This is pure sambhuti, action without intelligent control. Very often there are grave doubts about the new gizmos, but those who stand to make a quick profit are able to steamroll the opposition and unleash their scourges into the marketplace. The poster child is the Ford Motor Company’s decision that it would be cheaper to field lawsuits for wrongful deaths than add a cheap device to its Pinto automobiles that would prevent the incineration of the occupants, so they decided not to add the protection. In the forty years since then, the number of potential victims of corporate malfeasance have risen from a few dozen at a time to everyone and everything.

         As John said, we are now at the point where we are capable of destroying the planet. Those ill-considered attitudes weren’t so obviously deranged in a world of small and isolated effects of our actions, but their impact is now global, and some creative asambhuti is desperately needed. Our darkness may soon move beyond blinding to simply fatal. Nitya does not mince words:

 

Those who blindly pursue the negative possibilities of sambhuti precipitate wars, weapons and destructive devices of science. They can interfere with anything, even the genes of the vegetative or animal world and destructure what the world has taken millions of years to achieve and stabilize. The dangers of sambhuti are enormous and diabolic.

 

         We do what we can about large-scale issues, but most of us are not privy to the reins of power. We feel helpless, as the profiteers have purchased and disarmed all the regulatory apparatuses that once were in place to counterbalance their urge to press ahead at all costs. The Upanishad’s advice needs to be applied right where we live, inside and outside.

         Many people feel as powerless about their immediate circumstances as they do about global problems, and that’s a correctable tragedy. Their negative asambhuti sabotages their fitful attempts to ignite their sambhuti, their creative becoming. The requisite integration is to bravely beat back the tendency to either combat emptiness with unending busyness or avoid activity because it can never be perfect enough. We continually rationalize our choices, no matter how detrimental they are. A yogi takes on rationalization itself, and refuses to capitulate to it.

         Who wouldn’t want to overcome death with destruction and replace it with life-giving excitement in constructive activity? And yet we pass up nearly every opportunity for creative change in favor of the comfort of known conditions. Our reluctance is not even a real prison: it is a painted image of bars projected in front of our eyes, but it works just as well. No, it works better. We might try to saw through steel bars, but the imaginary ones defeat us before we even think of trying. Thankfully we have the exhortations of the wise rishis to press us to extricate ourselves from our malaise and begin to actualize more of our potential.

 

Part II

 John H wrote of an experience with fellow dialectician Plato:

 

The “generation of opposites” was an insight I actually experienced in the reading of the Phaedo, by Plato. I truly wish that I could get that kind of high every time I read. I was, I think, seventeen, and reading that wonderful copy of “The Last Days of Socrates,” edited by W.T. Jones and sitting on a lawn in Ashland, Oregon, on my way to becoming, I thought, an actor. In fact, I was on my way to not-becoming an actor, but that’s a different story. Socrates talked about how we will understand hot to the same degree we understand cold. In a sense, he was trying to uncover the secret, and this pun is intended, of “degrees.” The degree to which you understand light you may also understand that same degree of darkness. Rasputin said it another way - the tree grows highest whose roots are the deepest. Anyway, that was an a-ha moment for me and I’ve seen it played out so many times. There is a man in 20th century Germany who is terribly charming. Dogs and children love being around him and he loves to be around them. A man who likes to be liked so everybody likes him. He is very loyal to friends and kind to strangers. Yet - this same man, Adolf Hitler, can envision and sign the death warrant of millions of people. Jesus, I think it was, said that to hate this life is to find it. There’s tons and tons of examples. The elders who penned these verses Nitya has so carefully and perfectly interpreted got this millennia before I did and certainly took it to heart better than I did. I would learn that “knowing” something doesn’t necessarily mean I will know how to utilize that knowledge in the most beneficial way. Like the seasons, I had to blossom, bear fruit, shed leaves and die some myself to get more from the insight I learned reading Plato.

 

7/24/12

Mantra 15 (old)

 

The entrance to Truth is closed with

a golden disc. That, you, O Nourisher,

open (so that I) established in Truth

and Law, may see.

 

         One of the most potent of images from all the Upanishads led to a lively discussion, with a cornucopia of connections contributed by everyone. Last night was definitely a candidate for “Class of the Year” status at the annual (and nonexistent) Gurukula Awards ceremony.

         Deb started us off by cutting to the chase: the golden disc represents the attractive illusions that regularly distract us from being fully present. We have become content with a substitute reality that we unwittingly superimpose on everything we encounter. This is much more than a spiritual conundrum: it touches every aspect of our lives, sapping the joy out of everything we do. Yoga is a way—or better yet, a confluence of all the ways—to reclaim the joy and delight of every moment.

         Jan wondered why the numinous principle here was addressed as Nourishment, rather than the Absolute. For one thing, the unadulterated Absolute is a relatively recent addition to the Hindu pantheon, I believe postdating the Isa. It is certainly implied but not named in many Upanishads. But more importantly, using that particular term tells us why we bother—because truth is nourishing. We become discontent with our static imagery because it fails to nourish us, to feed us with understanding, excitement and meaning. The socially accepted palliatives, indulgences of all types, don’t satisfy us deep down in our very soul, so we must reach out to something beyond our habitual limitations.

         It is important that the rishi addresses the principle of nourishment behind the illusion, despite being already established in truth and law, or satyam and dharma. Everything we do, even our concepts of truth and law, is limited to being some kind of image, so in a sense we have to transcend ourself to attain the unclouded vision that restores light to life.

         The Law meant by dharma is very much an inner impetus, the truth that springs from within. It is not some outer set of laws writ in stone that we are commanded to follow, popular as those are. The rishi’s prayer is that we find a way to open ourselves to our living inner reality, evading the encircling nets of all the hard and fast rules littering the landscape.

         Susan was reminded of the Gita’s Chapter XI, where Arjuna, also well established in an excellent conceptual outlook, was granted a peek at the truth behind the everyday scenes that lifted him clean out of himself. Actually the next mantra, 16, is even more closely aligned with Chapter XI, reading in part, “Oh Nourisher, let me see that most auspicious form of yours; that Purusha who is there, he is my Self.” Arjuna also begs Krishna to let him see his true form in almost the same words, in verse 4: “If You think that it is possible for me to see it, then do You, O Master of Yoga, show me Your never-decreasing Self.”

         After his vision of the Real, Arjuna begs to have his golden disc image restored, but Krishna ignores his request. This reminds us of our tendency to take refuge in our illusory concepts, because familiarity puts our mind at ease. The brain is an organ designed to seek a steady state, by moving toward pleasure and away from pain. But what then? To the rishi, the steady state is a living death. We are called to go beyond it to a dynamically alive state. The steadiness is a means to an end, and not the end in itself.

         The class’s task was to mine the mantra for as many of its implications as we had time for. Of course, the first is God. We may start out with a very pure notion of God, but pretty soon it grows arms and legs, perhaps a beard, takes on a location and an attitude, picks up a scepter or a trident or a dorje. Then it becomes “our” God as opposed to someone else’s God. We argue about it, maybe even fight about it. Whatever God is has been converted into a shining image, a simulation, and the more it loses its connection with a transcendent noncondition the harder we cling to it, trying to draw nourishment from its empty, desiccated husk. Anyone who dares to point out our folly must be nailed to a tree or otherwise wiped off the face of the globe. We fight to defend the golden disc while we pointedly ignore the reality it represents.

         Our idolatry, which is the generic term for this, has negative effects ranging from religious beliefs down to utterly mundane matters. Today I’m a poster child for the latter version.

         Yesterday I was running for exercise along a woodland trail with a very uneven surface including rocks and roots. Everything was fine as long as I kept up my focus and paid close attention, but after a few miles my mind began to wander. As is typical, it produced a “handy substitute” image of the trail so it could drift off into other areas. That might have been fine except that, since it was now an image of the trail rather than the actual trail I was following, the fine details were absent. Most importantly an unobtrusive root, which I tripped over, was left out. My very painful fall included a severe bruise on the thigh, and I had more than two miles yet to hobble to get to my car. Needless to say, the rest was less fun that the earlier part.

         I have mentioned the book Everyday Survival, by Lawrence Gonzales, before. It’s an excellent compendium of reasons like mine to stay alert and awake at all times, because it really matters. It reminds us of the many ways we slip into semi-consciousness and miss important information. Sometimes it can be a matter of life and death, but more often it simply it spells the difference between a good day and a bad one. I’m pretty sure most of us feel more nourished by a good day than a bad one, and the aftereffects are much less binding.

         Nitya notes the social pressures that offer us simulation after simulation, and stimulation after stimulation, to turn us away from a sincere search for the real:

 

Gold is the living myth of the social man. Unless one cuts across the unreality of this actively projected myth, one cannot get to an identity with the Supreme Truth.

 

Even more than gold, God is the living myth of the social man, and we have to excise the unreality of our conceptions or we will never know the essence that we name God or the Absolute or simply Truth. This idea is fundamental to any search for meaning, since if we are content with our golden calf substitute we will never even begin looking elsewhere.

         Deb recalled an interview with Mary Karr, author of the brilliant memoir The Liar’s Club. As an insecure and confused young adult, she would enter a room full of people and pigeonhole everyone there. She was sure she knew all she needed about each person. Later on she realized she didn’t even know herself, so it was ridiculous to imagine she knew anything about the rest. That’s exactly the kind of defense mechanism that provides the illusion of security while blocking any possibility of having a living experience. We think we’re being clever and intuitive, but all we’re really doing is cutting ourselves off from the potency of what might have been.

         Michael and most of us along with him, recalled family gatherings or parties where our attitudes determined the type of time we had. It takes courage to be open, because our brain evolved to be suspicious of the unknown, and we add to that negative memories and fantasies. It's much easier to cop an attitude and keep a cool distance. We can be totally cut off in the midst of plenty, unless we make an effort to be unguarded.

         Fred wondered how a yogi enters a room. With an open mind, ideally. If nervous impulses or other projections arise, the yogi dismisses them as impediments rather than reinforcing them as facts. They especially discard the need to be on the defensive. Many in the class agreed that if you put yourself out there, wonderful (and nourishing) things may happen. Not always, of course, but the only way to find out is to be open to the possibility. Brenda suggested asking questions and listening, which is easy enough and works very well. There may be some tension because everyone else in the room is making judgments, thinking they know who you are, based on your clothes or hairstyle or skin color, or other superficial indicators. Something in us responds instantly to those social pressures, and it takes a conscious effort to drop our automatic responses and remain innocent.

         Jan expanded the idea of the claustrophobic room to watching a sunset, as an example of a readily available artistic opportunity. (There was a very nice one taking place out the window at the time.) We obscure the direct experience of it by thinking, “I am watching a sunset. Isn’t it beautiful!” Doesn’t this spoil the perfection, by converting it into a concept? Yes and no.

         This was followed by a hue and cry about people in museums nowadays who photograph every piece of art with their phones, and then move along without even a passing glance at the actual, full-sized art. They are just checking off “seen it” in their minds, and perhaps will try to impress a friend later by showing it to them on their tiny screen. The truncated experience of ancient times that the rishis wrestled with has become several layers deeper with all the simulacra, the imitation versions leaping and careening up and down in front of us. Instead of discarding the whole miasma, we—along with our society as a whole—keep polishing up the disc to make it shine more brightly, so that its faint, reflected light will keep us enthralled for just a little longer, until the next entertainment comes along.

         Fred pointed out that we can’t just suppress our thoughts and concepts and then have a pure experience. They are also part of the deal, proof that we’re alive, so to speak. But the more we are absorbed into our experience, the less we will need to define and isolate it. Bill reiterated some favorite advice from Kotagiri Roshi, from the book You Have to Say Something, to try to have the experience before thinking about it. Thinking can come later, but it disrupts the immediacy of the experience, so hold it back for a moment if you can.

         The golden disc can also be seen as a symbol of our carefully crafted and well-polished personality. Instead of throwing ourselves open to the universe, we have built a shield to hide out in, and we identify it as who we are. It isn’t a dark iron fortress; it is a beautiful, shining, jewel-like production, the best we can manufacture. A dark dungeon is more noticeable than a golden aura anyway, more likely to invite well-intentioned people to try to open it and free the committed prisoner inside. We have learned from early on that the appearance of contentment is a very good way to be ignored. Because we use contentment or pleasure as our measuring rod, we seldom if ever look beyond it to regain our authenticity.

         Any category of human endeavor can be clarified by relating it to this mantra. I have been thinking of care-giving this week, as an example. Part of almost everyone’s golden self-image is that they care. But in many cases it is a rote concept adopted early on to disguise selfishness. We are taught to care, and we respond that we do; we protest that of course we care, but really we don’t. The people who actually care and give care to others stand out immediately. The rest have “I care” stamped on their golden disc, so they are free to go about their selfish business with less interference, but don’t expect them to put into practice what they pretend to possess.

         Caring and nourishing are closely related. People in need are nourished by actual care, and are not sustained by ersatz care. Discriminating the real from the fake, the truth from its veiled representation, the golden disc from the sun it superficially resembles, is the task yogis happily shoulder every day of their lives.

 

Part II

         Synchronicity strikes again! This was my morning reading while I iced my leg, as though the author wanted to be in class with us. From Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore, (Harper Collins, 1992) from the chapter Gifts of Depression:

 

Nicholas of Cusa, certainly one of the most profound theologians of the Renaissance, tells how he was on a journey, on a ship in fact, when the realization dawned on him in a visionary way that we should acknowledge our ignorance of the most profound things. Discovering that we do not know who God is and what life is all about, he says, is the learning of ignorance, ignorance about the very meaning and value of our lives. This is a starting point for a more grounded, open-ended kind of knowledge that never closes up in fixed opinions. Using his favorite metaphors from geometry, he says that if full knowledge about the very base of our existence could be described as a circle, the best we can do is arrive at a polygon—something short of sure knowledge.

  The emptiness and dissolution of meaning that are often present in depression show how attached we can become to our ways of understanding and explaining our lives. Often our personal philosophies and our values seem to be all too neatly wrapped, leaving little room for mystery. Depression comes along then and opens up a hole…. Depression makes holes in our theories and assumptions, but even this painful process can be honored as a necessary and valuable source of healing….

  In recommending some positive effects in saturnine moods, I don’t want to overlook the terrible pain that they can bring. Nor is it only minor forms of melancholy that offer unique gifts to the soul: long, deep bouts of acute depression can also clear out and restructure the tenets by which life has been lived…. In our melancholy, inner construction may be taking place, clearing out the old and putting up the new. Dreams, in fact, often depict construction sites and buildings just going up, suggesting again that the soul is made: it is the product of work and inventive effort. Freud pointed out that during bouts of melancholy the outer life may look empty, but at the same time inner work may be taking place at full speed. (142-144)

 

Later Moore adds:

 

  If we persist in our modern way of treating depression as an illness to be cured only mechanically and chemically, we may lose the gifts of soul that only depression can provide.

 

The entire book is highly recommended. Moore is a former Catholic monk who became a psychotherapist, and had a close association with the Jungian psychologist James Hillman, among others.

 

Part III

Two relevant and contrasting poems:

 

The World From His Song

by Li-young Lee

 

The sparrow on my rooftop shouts,

"All roads be blessed." His voice a ring

for the finger of the beloved.

 

And he wouldn't work harder at his song

if all the world prized it

nor temper what sounds like ardor

if a public thought him wrong.

 

He says singing redeems the body's loneliness.

All praise is homage to an older praising,

a drastic sum and ruling mean,

earth's urging the grapes to a clearer fate,

sun's pressing them to a more potent praise.

 

Flying fixes the heart to the sky's wheel, he says.

Salt cures the spirit.

Light is a fractal script.

Imagination is branched, flowering,

and each fans the buds himself.

 

He says every atom burns.

Hunger rends the kingdom by mending,

marrying voices and wings.

 

Singing builds a throne

for hearing, sets up a swing

between our one night and our day.

 

It's all song, all singing, the body's seat

and number, the mind's pleats, time's hem.

 

The voice is a sighted brink.

Its mission is to sort the world.

The tongue is a mortal flower.

The dew at last. The guests arrive.

The child learns his name,

a virgin bell. And even that iron note is God awake in two worlds.

 

God seeks a destiny in all things fired

in the kiln of the sun or the mind.

 

That's the word from his song.

 

Mick sent a poem from his teacher, Papaji:

 

Be Quiet,

say unattached to your thoughts and don't make effort.

 

To be bound takes effort, to be Free takes no effort.

Thought obscures and will never reveal That, so don't think.

 

Peace is beyond thought and effort.

This is why Keeping Quiet is the key

to the storehouse of Love and Peace.

 

Identify yourself as the Quietness, as this Nothingness

and be careful not to make it an experience

because this is mind tricking you out of it

with the trap of duality; the trap of witness and witnessed.

Being is Being; there is no witness and no witnesses.

 

After letting go of object

do not hold onto the subject either, let go.

 

Be Quiet.

 

The purpose of life is to be at Peace,

to Love all beings, and to know who you are.

 

Know your Self and you know everything.

This Immaculate Knowledge alone is,

Emptiness alone is.

How can you come out of This

if there are  no limits to it?

 

The appearance of a manifestation

is but the play of this Emptiness.

Know who you are, Here and Now,

by simply Being Quiet.

 

Part IV

         From John H:

 

A great Mantra and great discussion!!!

  I am also reminded of Michel de Montaigne, the height of the Renaissance in France - who wore a medallion around his neck that read: Que Se Je? Or, what do I know? He wrote his essays, bearing in mind that he was trying to really understand what he knew, and discovered that he didn't know as much as he thought he did, and by learning that in each essay, he knew more. Isn't that a wonderful spin of the mandala of wisdom? His essays are wonderful, incidentally - and I am especially fond of the one he wrote on cannibalism - where he carefully tweaked the tiger's nose - that is to say, the Mother Church - by discussing the matter of transubstantiation, or where Jesus becomes the cracker you get at communion and the grape juice becomes his blood. He had to be careful, that Montaigne. But what do I know?

 

Part V

         A very thoughtful class member wrote a long note about mantra 15, which includes a key idea that I consider critical to share. Most of it is too personal for public airing, but I’ll clip in a couple of important slices. The gist is that we must not think of only the highest realization as having value. It’s fine to strive for transcendence, but all of immanence is also beautiful and utterly miraculous. In the language of this mantra, the golden disc is not an enemy, it’s the sum total of the wonders of life, the universe, and everything. Its goldenness makes it loveable. It’s just that there is more to the whole picture than meets the eye.

         The value of the mantra is to help us see our shortcomings and overcome them, but it backfires if we become obsessed with said shortcomings and focus unduly on them. As with everything, we have to walk a fine line of discrimination, not exaggerating one way or the other. We should cherish the golden disc of our personal visions even as we try to peek behind it to see what more is available to us.

         Often we hold up someone we admire as a paragon of virtue, and then feel inferior to them. This distorts the reality that everyone, no matter how saintly or vulgar, has to cope with a golden disc of concepts and percepts that limits their openness to truth. Conferring a halo on them is unfair to both them and us. Many of the most effective people in social life are blissfully unaware of the limitations they are beset with, but that may not be the unadulterated good fortune we’d like to imagine. Anyway, this is an important issue I hope to hear more about, in class and via email. Our friend wrote:

 

I understand and embrace all that this mantra is saying but its exhortation (or that of the commentary) makes me feel quite the failure because I realize how often I am in a substitute reality. I guess the recognition of this is a useful thing but it is very disturbing. I think it's important to emphasize that this journey takes time — more than a lifetime — but that the true joys we find along the way are wonderful.

 

After this pensive person compared themselves unfavorably with an impressive friend, they added:

 

But why feel less? Why make the comparisons? Does it start with one's siblings? Why do we care what others are doing so much? Why do we grieve and rage about our failures? Do we wish we could be the best at everything and never make mistakes? If that were true, would it be all that great? No, of course not. We wouldn't be able to relate to anyone. But I guess we must compare ourselves to those who are more talented and coordinated and clear minded because we strive to be better….

  When I was thinking about class, I was thinking about the kind of downside of the golden disc. Or maybe it's the opposite? Truth is also masked by our exaggeratedly bad picture of ourselves. Or maybe it is masked by what seems to be the golden disc of someone else's talents and abilities. Either way, we are far from truth.

 

We should notice that caring, extolled in the original class notes, can also be an oppressive attitude if overdone or twisted to include envy. We need to care neither too little or too much, but get it just right so it motivates and uplifts us. This is likely true of all the virtues, and possibly the vices as well.

         The note of anguish is authentic. This is a perfect example of what Thomas Moore calls the Gifts of Depression, cited in Part II. This friend could have just smiled and gone about their business after class, but instead certain negative feelings impelled a deeper look at the subject, and a lot of insight came out of it—a very revealing self-examination. I don’t think it was fun, but hopefully it was transformative. I know it has been for me, and I suspect for some of you, too.

 

7/31/12

Mantra 15 (new)

 

The face of truth is covered

with a golden disk.

That, O Nourisher (Sun),

may you remove

so that I see

the truthful performance of duties.

 

         Modern people recoil when we see the word duty, and if we translate dharma as duty, we fear it as well. It conjures up working for someone else, abandoning our comfort zone for material gain. But “the truthful performance of duties” that is satya dharma means we are in resonance with our inner guidance system. The whole point of looking behind the golden disc of conceptual reality is to reacquaint ourselves with our inner voice, our dharma, free of the distortions that are so familiar that we mistake them for truth. That kind of duty is something to eagerly seek and carry out. Acting in concert with our dharma is nourishing in the best sense, and the farther away from it we drift, the more we will have a sense of something important missing; losing touch with our inner nourishment breeds a hunger that is difficult to satisfy, though the world abounds in substitutes great and small. Normally, we either hide the hunger behind various entertainments or neutralize it with chemical deadening agents.

         In his commentary, Nitya describes a continuum of freedom. The most restrictive states are called hell and the less restrictive are called heaven. Identification with the ego tends toward hellishness, while expansiveness comes from “a wide consciousness where the individual and their ego are considered irrelevant.” The golden disc contains the entire gamut. The caste system names broad swathes of the continuum, and reveals that freedom has a greater or lesser appeal to people depending on their temperament.

         Humans have a strong tendency to feel less anxious in restricted, well-defined roles. That’s a pernicious version of the golden disc: we feel relief when we fall into a routine that allows us to drop our guard, but the routine itself is not necessarily the truth we seek. Yet most people are content to stop feeling bad, and spend their lives trying to block out painful feelings. Our higher potentials as a species are rarely explored, because we are always going the opposite direction, seeking surcease of sorrow rather than true nourishment.

         Society is the reinforcer of routines and restrictions, advocate of limited freedom within narrow boundaries. Little wonder that those who promote freedom are driven to the periphery, marginalized and ignored. This is a battle waged within each of us, as much as in the outside world. It can feel like freedom when we submit to society’s demands in concert with the brain’s predilection for habitual patterns, but it is really only a negative release from pressure. It is actually a trap if it is taken as the attainment of a final goal, though useful enough as a preliminary resting place for a battered psyche. We can safely accept the narrow confines only if we refuse to identify with them, and use them as a ground from which to continue our forays into the great mystery of being.

         It’s true that the golden disc includes beautiful and excellent qualities along with abysmal and negative ones, and much of our work is to move toward the former, to replace our hells with heavens. What meaning is there in a universe if its lumps of gold remain lumps instead of being worked into beautiful ornaments? What would life have been like if no one had ever stretched strings over sounding boards to make music with? Do we transcend it all, or should we put our energies into making the disc interesting? Since this is paradoxical in the extreme and can easily defeat our spiritual thrust, these final mantras of the Isa Upanishad take the form of a prayer to something Beyond that can help us make our breakthrough. Imaginary or not, seekers of truth need to posit something outside our familiar territory to aspire to, lest we reduce our vast beingness to a circumscribed vestige and try to satisfy ourselves with that.

         The Gita’s Chapter XII recognizes that humans have a preference for clearly defined truth; that abstract, indefinite truth is more challenging to relate to. We’ll take a golden disc over an unknown truth any day. We are happy with a God, our God, and feel lost without one. Krishna says, since both are true enough, conjure up a smiling face of the Absolute if you want one. But the instructions of the rishis are to always remember that whatever our imagery, it is limited, and we need to at least recognize our limitations. It is when we imagine our limited view is the right one that we get into serious trouble.

         The idea of God is the perfect example of the paradox of the golden disc. Nothing is so consoling and encouraging of excellent behavior as God. It inspires us to live well and generously, and to transcend our petty sense of self. But God quite easily becomes a static image, and then it takes its marching orders from the ego. The ego’s God doesn’t like certain types of people, and wants us to take their possessions or wipe them off the face of the Earth. At the very least we must convert them. Our God okays all sorts of questionable behavior as long as it’s done in His name, by true believers. Belief, a purely egotistical quality, becomes the measure of legitimacy, and pretty soon Gods is ratifying whatever we feel inclined to do. The original inspiration to greatness has subtly changed to be an enabler of mediocrity—or worse.

         Since no one in the class believes in any old-fashioned God, we tried to discover what epitome of the golden disc we worship. What is the hub of truth we cycle around? For Susan, like so many people, it is home. She feels safe at home; free to develop in her own way and at her own pace. When she slips, she is held up by her home, and isn’t afraid that she will drown in a hostile sea: it is her port in a storm. We contrasted this familiar concept with the Indian ideal of sannyasa, where a person keeps changing locations so they never become fixated on any abode. Since the universe is nourishing, it works well for the bravest among us. But for the rest, it suppresses our dharma rather than releasing it. By satisfying perhaps our greatest need, the need for a home, we discover a base from which a million flowers can flourish. We don’t have to spend all our time wondering what the next stop will be and where it will be found: our mind is free to explore new avenues. Safety may be a crutch from an absolutist perspective, but it is something we must have to function well, one way or the other.

         Moni talked about how helping people is her ideal. She works with social outcasts, who meet rejection wherever they turn. Moni is steady and looks for the divine in each person. Unlike many others, she doesn’t reject someone because they aren’t socially acceptable. It’s like their personalities are their golden disc—more like a tarnished, battered tin disc—but Moni looks for the truth of their essence behind their façade. This allows her to be very effective and also placate her clients. They are relieved to be treated as human beings for once, and deeply appreciate her loving care, even if she can’t do very much for them in a practical sense. This was really great advice: we should always look to the divinity of even the most execrable people, and then we will act in their best interest. We will know the satya dharma, the truthful duties we should perform. Otherwise we will add to their misery, and very likely our own too.

         While the class doesn’t have a God, most of us do have gurus. Nitya used to say that Indians put their gurus on pedestals and worship them, so they don’t have to take their advice. This is not just an Indian trait. Most of the people who were attracted to Nitya, for instance, felt an erotic attraction for a brilliant, charismatic and handsome teacher with all the right accoutrements: beard, robe, dark skin, twinkling eyes, genius intelligence. No one could say he wasn’t loved by all. But only a few of those lovers took his teaching seriously enough to impact their lives. When he wasn’t physically present, they had no interest in the subjects he spoke so eloquently about, and they carried on as if they had never met him.

         So many egos boast of their association with such-and-such guru, as if that conferred a special status on them. I suppose it does, to the gullible anyway. But those who have taken their teachings to heart have no need to flaunt their upbringing.

         Yoga these days is a good example of a golden disc. The hatha yoga that is now popular was invented as a preliminary step to calm the body so that it can dive into meditation and the study of the psyche—in other words, to peek behind the golden disc. But it is most often considered the whole point. People “do” yoga, and then go on with their lives, refreshed, but believing that is all there is to it. Everyone compares what kind of yoga (or other practice) they do, and how high they feel from it, how good it is for the body. “My golden disc is the one that best represents the Absolute. Aren’t I special?”

         The Isa rishis urge us to take another step, to go beyond our milieu and see what else there is that we are leaving out of our philosophy. I guess we have to accept a certain amount of dissatisfaction with our version of the disc, or we will never seek farther than it. That goes against our psyche’s main thrust, which is to build a fortress to keep pain out and pleasure in. But being satisfied with that pinches, it binds us to a smaller version of ourselves than we could have if we dared. In That Alone, Nitya urges us to take an active role in our development:

 

It is up to you to make your consciousness bright or dull. If you decide, “Oh, this is the time to mourn, to sit and become boorish,” you can. Or you can realize it’s nonsense, just nonsense, to get into depressions. Instead you could think, “My Self is a treasure, and each passing moment is to be enriched with the treasure of my own Self. Every possible relationship I may get into here with the things that are presented to me in the wakeful, I will also enrich. If the Absolute is all joy, all bliss, there is no reason why this moment also should not be like that.” (433-4)

 

         We all agreed that the point, as far as we were interested at least, is not to eradicate the golden disc and leave only emptiness—nirvana as void—but to enrich our disc with the fullness of the entire scheme. We rectify our disc by reminding ourselves of its Source. We topple God off his pedestal the minute he exemplifies our petty ego fantasies instead of representing truth. We repair our home life when it is damaged by our selfishness and intolerance, harmonizing its parts with intelligent insight. We press our art to incorporate a transcendent aspect and not remain trite and formulaic. We strive to express new ideas in our writing and conversation, rather than merely repeating the same old saws. And we reach out to the whole universe, or God, or the Sun, so that we can be refreshed, and be refreshing.

         The sun is the source of all nourishment here on Earth. It is an interesting coincidence that the name of our sun, Sol, sounds exactly like soul. The sun is the soul of our world. Nourishment is the continuous flow that underlies everything that transpires here below. We reach up to our Sol in gratitude for its nourishment. We imbibe its blessings, and then radiate what we can to those around us. It’s a very uplifting and inspiring model, a kind of song, sung in myriad ways. Our true inner voice is not a monotonous repetition of what we know, it is an outburst of exuberant singing that nourishes us along with the occasional companion. With Li Young Li, in the poem reproduced earlier, “singing redeems the body's loneliness.” He adds:

 

It's all song, all singing, the body's seat

and number, the mind's pleats, time's hem.

 

         We are here on Earth but for an instant. Let us resolve to make our instant beautiful with song and dance and celebration.

 

Part II

         Anne wanted to know how we can be sure we are grounded in truth, since it’s so hard to tell the difference between reality and our projections about it. The class gave endless examples of people lost and disoriented, whose golden disc was battered and insubstantial, and who never thought there might be something more to life than mere subsistence. When we are wracked with the inability to even meet our basic needs, we will naturally view transcendence as a satirical fiction. Ideally, a society should provide for everyone’s basic needs, and then everyone would at least have the opportunity to realize their potential. Currently, the civic idealism that burst forth a few hundred years ago is being derailed by rampant selfishness, and more and more people are being cast into the flames. That’s what happens when you take life’s blessings for granted: many of them were hard won battles, and needed to be guarded from decay, and we dropped our guard because those blessings seemed so natural, so right. But they are rights that are fast eroding. Anyone looking for a raison d’être need look no farther than this.

         In any case, I promised to find a wonderful passage in Nitya’s writings about how we know we are grounded in the truth of our own dharma. Maybe another alert reader knows where it resides; I can’t remember. He said that when you wake up in the morning, filled with joy and a sense of purpose, eager to carry it out to the best of your ability, that is your indication. That continuous inspiration does not come and go, it is a steady light that guides and sustains you. Conversely, if you are confused and full of doubts, you should be still looking. That isn’t the place to rest on your laurels, but often we do anyway.

         Searching for joy in Nitya’s writings was a delightful diversion this morning, however. He has written such fabulous things, which I never get tired of! Here are a few samples, just for the joy of it. From Love and Blessings:

 

The intrinsic quality of self is being joyous. The joy that is spoken of here is not to be confused with sensuous pleasure, or sentimental elation. True joy manifests in the free flow of one’s energy going into everyone like the radiation of light and receiving back in your heart the gentle breeze that brings the loving care of all. When your outside and inside harmoniously resonate like a throb which is at once of your psyche and of the entire cosmos, you are in a true state of joy. In that there is a recurring memory which is not tainted with expectation and obligatory memories of the world. There is only the sense of fulfillment in giving, and receiving is only incidental. (553)

 

From Meditations on the Self, a book filled with joy throughout:

 

No one can attain to the status of the Absolute without cultivating an overwhelming love for it. When such a love fills our heart, our vision changes. Relativistic considerations are caused by patterns of love and hatred engendered by partial visions. When the mind is filled with an overflowing sympathy, its resultant neutral vision will liberate us from all lopsided obligations and tribalistic or clannish vested interests. When all the unhealthy feverishness of life leaves the mind it becomes cool and collected and will be filled with a sense of wonder at the vision of the Absolute.

  In the reciprocation of identity that naturally becomes established between the self that admires and loves and the Transcendental Self that is seen and adored, one experiences the ecstasy of Union. When the seeker attains to the status of a seer and continuously experiences the neutrality of spiritual vision and the abiding joy of the Absolute, it becomes a matter of course to accept such a condition as permanent. This is the true state of Blessedness. This is the intimation of Immortality. (46)

 

 

Lastly, from That Alone, page 147, a riff that can be read a thousand times:

 

The passing moments of our lives are to be made lively and rich. One thing I have learned in my life is that the moment that comes will not come again. It’s gone. You can see the moment approaching. Receive it with open arms. Glorify it by enriching it with your joy, finding a new value, a new sense of direction in life. Have a renewed sense of wonder. Thus, that moment becomes eternalized in your life, it is a moment to be remembered and to be proud that you could live it so well. Then you can move on to the next moment; this one has already been immortalized in you. What you have achieved in that moment is your eternal repository. Wonderful! You feel fulfilled. You are filled with gratitude: “Oh, I lived this moment so wonderfully!” This is your own life, in this very world, with all these amenities given to you in the here and now.

With this understanding you are eager to race to the next moment because it is going to be wonderful, going to be beautiful. It will yield so much. You see the promise of the future already in it. It is going to be still more wonderful than what you have already lived. Then you pass on to the next with joy and grace. The day opens up with such beauty, such promise. There is nothing like life, nothing like this world, a world where you can make friends, a world where you can create beautiful things, a world where you can share beauty with others and where you can make others part of your own self. A world where there is such an abundance of love and sharing.

The only thing is that you shouldn’t drift into darkness. Don’t look at the world as something horrid, but as beautiful, divine. Every bit of it. Then we know we are the creators of our own fate. Not through this individual ego with all its vagaries, but through a full affiliation with the eternal, supernatural light that enriches everything. Only then will we have the strength to become masters of the situation, the whole beauty of creation, the beauty that has painted the petals of the flowers, which has given shape to the butterflies and birds, which makes the mountains look awe-inspiring and the oceans look vast, which makes the clouds float so gracefully overhead. This is where we find our true freedom.

You belong to the same overmind of beauty. Not with your ego but with your spirit. Participation in it will reveal to you the divine artist in you, the divine musician in you, the divine intelligence, the divine creator, the divine lover, the divine unifier, the divine peacemaker within you. It’s such a blessing to be in this world, to be born here and to live here. This body of ours will fall away just like a candle burning out. But before it burns out the candle gives off a lot of light. What does it matter that it is eventually extinguished? It has lived its moment of light. We live surrounded by smoke and darkness. Make up your mind that you will live this day, each coming moment, in all its worth and beauty, and that you will share it with all. This is the great teaching the Guru offers us.

 

Scott Teitsworth

rsteitsworth(at)yahoo.com