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    Share: A Letter to My Yoga Teacher

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010, 3:32 AM [General]

    I took part in an international Full Moon Meditation on New Years Eve. The following letter was an email I sent to my former yoga instructor, Jean. I wanted to share these thoughts with my BeliefNet friends.

     

    NAMASTE, Sister Jean! Happy new Year to you and yours. Last night I took part in the Full Moon Meditation for the first time. I was visiting my best friend's house and he accommodated me, finding me a quiet room, pillows to sit on, a small blanket to cover me. I meditated deeply from 10:00 to 10:30 p.m. and kept my focus on the full moon and all the prayers for a miracle of healing for the world that we all share. It was beautiful and blissful. I want to thank you and AHYMSA for inviting me to participate. It felt very worthwhile.
     
    I was talking to my friends about how chaotic the world around us is, millions of people all with their own competing ego-agendas, and the net effect of all those vibrations is the social disease and chaos we see every day on the news. But instead of jumping in and competing with all that other noise, what I'm trying to do is focus my own consciousness on the interior silence and stillness. Rather putting my energy out there in the street, clashing with all the other egos and ambitions and head trips and ideologies and complaints, etc., I'm working on my calm center to make my own consciousness as smooth and gentle as I can. If I'm turned inward and not out there fighting social injustice or poverty, some people might think I'm not really doing anything. But they don't know the power of the combined consciousness of people connected to the Source. Not only by meditating together on the full moon, but also by our own, individual practice of Pranayama, breath meditation, and all the varieties of yoga and devotion we do, at any time, we make a contribution and have a great potential to bring a healing presence to the consciousness of the Earth.
     
    There was a scientific study done on the healing power of prayer. Two groups of patients with a mixture of equivalent maladies and injuries were followed. One group had a team of a dozen or so people praying for them to heal; the other group did not. None of the patients or doctors involved knew who was being prayed for and who was not. At the conclusion of the study, it was found that the patients who were the subjects of prayers over a period of several weeks or months healed and recovered more quickly and completely than the group not prayed for. That shows the power of the combined consciousness of a small group of well-intended people sending positive thoughts and prayers to help others to heal and mend. We can make a difference.
     
    I was concerned for a while that I might never find that service to God and humankind, some obvious and overt way of making myself useful. Although I may still find ways to help out here and there, I've realized that I have been given such gifts, such grace, so that I may, first and foremost, allow myself to be transformed. Doing good must begin within myself, first. As my heart becomes a beacon of spiritual radiance that can have healing effects on others and make my little part of the world a better place, I know that living moment to moment in awareness and appreciation of the grace and blessings that have been so generously bestowed upon me is really the essence of my job on this planet. The rest will take care of itself.
     
    I think of you often. You are a special person, and very dear to me. May the new year bring you many blessings and great joy.
     
    da

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    Book Group Discussion Inspires Writing

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009, 4:19 AM [General]

     I was in this discussion group about spiritual books, led by Rose, a yoga teacher, whom I believe was once a student of the famous and venerable Swami Rama. Most of the eight or so people attending (in an actual room, not on-line) are yoga teachers or students. Rose does a guided meditation for the first fifteen minutes or so before we start talking about topics in the book we're on. This group meets every other Monday evening. This was my second time attending. The book was Light on the Path/Through the Gates of Gold, written (down) by Mabel Collins, around 1885. The Victorian prose was pretty dense, and in some places hard to grasp. I resisted its meager charms at first, but have found many nuggets of very clearly-stated truths within its pages.

     Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed the guided meditation. The discussion started out covering a chapter on the topic of Karma. We talked a little bit about how those of us who are "on the path," so to speak, become conscious of the karmic nature of our actions. We become aware that there are consequences to our actions that can come back on us. The further along in spiritual development we are, the quicker it may hit us ("instant karma"). But as we progess and learn, we gradually lose our focus on consequences (rewards or punishments) to ourselves, and begin to act out of kindness or compassion toward others in a natural way, and without attachment to the fruits of our actions. I called it the consciousness of virtue, behaving in a virtuous way, not because we are afraid not to, but because we have learned to see what is needed for a good outcome, not for ourselves, but for the life-forms around us, whether people, animals, plants, or the Earth itself.

     The next section was about the Pursuit of Pleasure, how it is in our nature to seek sensation. The book was saying that if not for pleasure-seeking or the need for sensation, we might not even bother to breathe. It's fairly standard stuff to say that the pursuit of pleasure motivates us, and that pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin; as much pleasure as we seek and experience, we will receive an equal measure of pain or suffering. As we try to repeat or duplicate some pleasure, we don't enjoy it as much as we did the first time, and we become disappointed. It may drive us to pursue other, more exotic or extreme forms of pleasure.

     On the other hand, as a spiritual aspirant, a yogi must learn to relinquish pleasure-seeking behaviors, to become detached, to attain a desireless state. That's a difficult lesson for most of us, and a hard road. It is not an all-or-nothing, once-and-for-all type of endeavor. It cannot be accomplished in some final way, by a decision or an act of sheer will. Fighting with ourselves about our desires, trying to suppress our wants and needs, doesn't really work. The swamis teach that we simply have to understand that our myriad desires are illusions, holding our attention in the illusory world. Desires we cannot obtain give us unhappiness and frustration; desires we do obtain will ultimately disappoint us, and have karmic after-effects, as well.

     I talked a little bit about how I have been dealing with some things I wanted in my life that I had to let go of. It's been challenging and painful. Did I need those things to be there to sustain my life? No. Did I have to have them (love, money, recognition) in order to be happy? I used to think so. But what is happiness of that kind based on? I've been going through a process of surrendering those desires, and part of that is to swallow the bitter fruit of my disappointment with myself and my life. I bought that bitter fruit with desire and ego-needs. So I cry my bucket of self-pity tears for what I couldn't have and never acquired or accomplished. Then I saw that my self-pity was an old, unwanted, family heirloom; it was fifty-year-old pain I didn't want any more.

     Letting go of deeply-felt desires and emotional needs is a long-term project. Some days will be better than others; some days, the desires and needs will gnaw at my guts, and some days, I will feel free of them. It is not a wholesale change, now-and-forever. But it is a shift in consciousness. Every day, I have the chance to find myself liberated by the only mechanism that works: meditation-awareness, my self-sustaining ajapa-japa, the breath mantra, and the awareness of pranayama in my body. It's so abundantly clear, it's so easily available to me. And it is that mindfulness, staying in the living moment, in my heart chakra, riding the waves of breath, that carries me, that can give me peace, that can make me feel loved, that brings me into a deep serenity where I can feel supremely satisfied.

     In the group, there was some discussion about how it's a struggle to maintain focus during meditation, that everyone finds it hard. And spoiler that I often seem to be, I said that I didn't find meditation difficult at all. It only takes me a few breaths and I can get really deep, because I have a very effective technique (the Soaham Sadhana), and because I love the way it feels. That serenity has a sweetness to it that is so pleasurable to me.

     The question was, is finding more and more pleasure in meditation a good thing? Didn't the swamis say to trade the thousand desires for the one? I've experienced so many great pleasures in my life, had what can be called "peak experiences," both sensual and spiritual. I've also suffered greatly at times, terrible pain, terrible fear, terrible regret and disappointment and loss. I know that my soul had to have those experiences, and that I was changed by them, guided by them, instructed by them. At this stage in my life, I can seriously say I've had enough of them. It's so liberating to stop asking the world for the satisfaction I now understand it can never really give me.

     Is desiring the elixir of serenity, the joy and the feeling of love that arises in meditation, somehow counter-productive to the commandments of asceticism? Honestly, I never took the vow to become an ascetic. I am not a sadhu, nor a nihilist. All that self-denial is unnecessary, in my view. I'm doing what I want to do. I gain satisfaction from that which gives me pleasure. More and more, it is the Yoga-Consciousness, the flow of Prana, the sat-chit-ananda, that I seek to be immersed in. And it makes me happy, when nothing else does.

     There is a dynamic of being engaged with the world. As we interact with people, situations and events, the mind deals with the discrepancy between our perceptions of how things are versus how they should be. That creates "work." The food is not cooked, but we need to eat, so we cook the food. The food was good, but now the dishes are dirty, and we have to wash them and put them away. I have to go here, I have to go there, I have to do this and that and the other thing. Why? Because there is a discrepancy between the way things are and the way they should be.

     For those aspiring yogis or meditators who struggle, who talk about how hard it is to maintain focus, I want to ask, why do you bring the consciousness of discrepancy with you into meditation? The point of meditating (or one of them, at least) is to go into that room inside oneself and leave the outside world outside. You are not engaging people, events or situations with discrepancies that require your action to resolve them. You are meditating to find your center, to become one with the One. All you have to do is do nothing! When your mind wanders, let it wander off. You don't have to follow it! Your breathing and your mantra, stillness and silence are all present with you, they are where you are. There are spaces between thoughts when you can hear silence. You can keep dipping your awareness into them by the power of breath, and the whisper of mantra.

     Self-realization/spiritual-realization/God-realization are not attained by struggle, by fighting a battle with yourself or anyone else. You are an aspirant, or a yogi, or an enlightened one, because the Universe desired it for you, and you desired it for yourself. It is the same desire, by the same being, the ultimate, true Self. That is not the kind of desire we know of in the world. It has no karma, it has no bitter fruit or consequence of suffering.

     I don't mean to belittle anyone who struggles with meditation, when the mind wants to pull you out of meditation so it can go resolve some discrepancies in your engagement with the world. (How can I sit here doing nothing but breathing, trying to stop thinking, when there are so many issues, so much work to be done, so many problems? So much to think about!) It takes time and patience and perseverance and lots of practice, but with a good teacher, and the use of a good method, over time, meditation becomes smoother, easier, and quieter. Soon you learn to enjoy it; then you find that you crave it. It refreshes more than sleep, yet it awakens you in ways not yet imaginable.

     PEACE and BLESSINGS,

    Yogi da

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    On Hidden Reward as Motive for Seemingly Selfless Acts

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 1:39 AM [General]

    In discussing acts of generosity to the less fortunate, charitable giving, helping the homeless or giving a quarter to a panhandler, it has been said that we do not do it without thought of personal reward, because it makes us feel good to do it, ergo, that's why we do it. In philosophical repartee, the question of altruism is often colored by the stigma of hidden personal motive: are any acts truly altruistic? The implication is that there is always some reward, some self-interest, behind acts generally perceived as selfless.

         In the context of behaviors congruent with religious or spiritual dicta, those of us who feel personally charged with living up to ideals may indeed be doing so under the influence of the notion of spiritual advancement. At some point, skeptical minds may accuse us of false piety, simply on the basis of that supposition: there is always a personal motive, some reward we seek to obtain, hence, we are hypocrites, pretending to act selflessly, well aware that we have hidden motives, some thought of what we gain.

         If altruism is impossible, then we all fail equally to live up to a misperceived ideal, in that the ideal itself is flawed, by nature. If, on the other hand, it is not impossible, then we can assume that some good-hearted folk manage to act selflessly, without the hidden personal gain, and good for them. Mother Teresa, for example, served others, gave care where it was needed. To question whether her motive was that it made her feel good, and implying that there's something wrong with that, is beside the point, and rude.

         Does the panhandler care why the quarter was tossed in the cup, or whether the giver's motives were pure? Of course not. And so what if it makes us feel good? What's so bad about feeling good? Who's to say that doing good in the world must be untainted by any scintilla of reward-motivated purpose? Doing good is still good, regardless.

         My point is that to be personally motivated to act with compassion and generosity to our fellow human beings (or animals, or the planet at large, for that matter) does not detract from the goodness of the act. Business companies raise millions for the United Way, at least partly because of the P/R value. Charities that benefit from it do not object.

         So in the case of religiously-motivated, selfless service and generosity, does it matter whether the doer benefits? If I believe that attaining the next level of spiritual realization requires me to give to the poor, show compassion, act more selflessly than I had before, does the spiritual "reward" I seek counteract or contaminate the goodness of the work? Does it turn my hope that my actions might be useful to God and humanity, more than to myself, into a cynical charade? Those who might accuse by that sort of rationale may be distrustful of the idea of selflessness because they deem themselves incapable of it, and refuse to imagine that others may be more attuned to a genuine, transformative Spirit.

         We are all imperfect, and, to quote a friend, every idealist is a hypocrite. But we try to live up to a higher standard of good behavior and good works, motivated by the sense that it behooves us to counteract, within ourselves, the mean, the petty, the stingy sort of dealings with others that we know are all too easy, because of ego-attachments. If we aspire to transcendence, to spiritual consonance, or simply to serve God by doing good, there are no valid cynical arguments that could disparage our intentions.

    Yogi da  (14 Sept. 2009)

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    Inspiration, Part Two

    Saturday, July 18, 2009, 9:49 PM [General]

     In the beginning of my previous essay, I mentioned that there were two sources of inspiration on my mind. Besides Robert Wright on Bill Moyers' program, the other inspiration was, believe it or not, Rev. Billy Graham's "My Answer" syndicated column in my hometown newspaper. It didn't inspire me because I agree with him, but because he articulated the exact doctrine that I fundamentally refute. He wrote:

        "The Bible isn't just the words of men--it's the Word of God, because God directed its writing...When you read the Bible, therefore, you are reading God's message to us."

         I've read enough of its history to know how the Bible was compiled, edited, had sections removed and other sections added, and was translated from one language to another over centuries, leaving me with no faith at all that God had a hand in its composition. Such a belief is based on a superstition: whatever the result of something is, it must have been God's will--particularly in regard to winning and losing sides in battles over who is to be king or rule an empire. The winner must have been God's choice. With all the rancorous disagreements and the machinations of competing factions, with all the re-writes and deletions and insertions and mistranslations, still, at the end of a centuries-long process, are we left with an extant text that was exactly the way God wanted it to be?

        It's a ridiculous idea. In everything I've learned about God over the last fifty years, there has never been a single indication that this "God's Word" myth regarding that over-touted book might possibly be true. It has always been the decision of flawed human beings to include or exclude various written texts in collections to be regarded as "scriptures," and that inherent fallacy applies to every scripture-based religion in the world. Certainly there are wise and inspirational things written in all of them, but the idea that anything that ended up in a particular text speaks directly and absolutely for God is a huge mistake. It substitutes reading, reciting, and theologizing for the experiential essence of the living Spirit, which is made more mythical than real because of it.

         At best, believers accept on faith, then find ways to sense God's presence and plan in their lives through religious practice or observance. But that sensitivity is tenuous and easily lost, because it's a relationship with (supposed) sacred writings, with theological concepts, with the rituals and trappings of the religion itself. Participation in a service can evoke a strong emotional response often mistaken for a spiritual experience. But is that really a relationship with God?

        In something I read recently, I found I was not the only one with an opinion that religion can actually be a way to hide from God, using scripture, beliefs, rituals and rules to create a structure in which participants can pretend to be engaging God in an obedient way, when it's really a neurotic effort to stave off deep-seated fear. It's a continuation of the superstitions of prehistoric peoples who tried various rituals and sacrifices to appease and calm the gods of thunder, lightning, the wind and rain. If it appeared to work (by coincidence), it was retained in the culture and evolved into a religious rite.

         It's easier to engage an institutional fantasy of God through the imagination than it is to confront the mystery and the power of the real God, whose Spirit lives within us. To know God where He can really be found requires a different approach. It is an individual, personal quest to become spiritually conscious. It requires the suspension of both belief and disbelief, a quieting of the mind, turning the senses inward, and releasing our grip on the web of illusions we think of as reality in this world. Finding "The God Experience" in deep meditation is glorious and real far beyond the imaginings of religious thought, and shows us for ourselves that which atheists deny and religions only talk about.

         At risk of repeating myself (as I often do, sorry), I can understand the indignation of scriptural believers who may be outraged by my refutation of their beliefs. It is inevitable that we humans will find ways to disagree with the beliefs of others; that's why there are so many different religions, and different denominations or sects within them. My purpose is not to disparage or ridicule, but to advance the cause of truth. I am merely one small voice of dissent saying, "That book is not all it's cracked up to be," against a stupendous torrent of Bibliolatrous preaching in America every day of the year. How often do Christian Bible-believers or Muslim fundamentalists rage at others for not believing in their book as they do? Those who proselytize their absolutism in a way that is contemptuous of the beliefs of others have no fair basis for complaint if their message meets resistance and rebuttal. If they feel insulted by that, then, oh, the irony.

         The world must be deemed big enough for all of us, regardless of our beliefs or lack thereof. Differing ideas can be discussed and debated without stooping to name-calling, bigotry and hatred. If we can get along despite our religious differences, we will be closer to the "moral axis of the Universe," and fulfilling God's will regarding "Peace on Earth, good will toward men."

     

    da

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    Inspiration from More than One Source

    Saturday, July 18, 2009, 9:37 PM [General]

    I have received inspiration from two disparate sources for my next "sermon" -which, though I am loathe to admit it, is probably an accurate term for what my writings are. I find myself in a slippery area, waffling between "sermon" and "discourse," as between "religious" and "spiritual." It's the nature of such distinctions that they are notoriously difficult to pin down, as we owe much of what passes for definitions of such things to history and culture, and yes, religions--yours, mine, and others'.

         Thanks to author Robert Wright, some new synapses have begun to form in my brain after seeing him on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, discussing his new book, The Evolution of God. He has gone to a good deal of trouble to research and analyze how the three "Abrahamic" religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have competed and interacted with each other over the centuries, from hostility to mutual tolerance under varying conditions. His larger thesis is on the evolution of God, i.e., how the idea of God is a "construct" that has evolved over time in a multi-religious milieu.

         This is a kind of social theology, very intellectual and well-reasoned, where any absolute statements about the nature of the divine hold no currency. Human societies on this planet have evolved within this setting, and conceptions about who/what God is and what He represents morally have also evolved. Wright spoke about "alignment with the moral axis of the Universe" as a measure of how successfully these religions become mutually tolerant while at the same time approaching a higher understanding of "the divine" or "the transcendent," even as he admits difficulty with the meaning of those terms.

         Bill Moyers asked Wright a lot of very thoughtful questions, and I found Wright's answers remarkably cogent and eloquent. I've had the impression from past programs that Moyers is a man of faith in some fairly traditional, Southern Protestant way, but as his landmark programs with the late Joseph Campbell about the power of myths had shown, he is intellectually honest and open-minded. Robert Wright is a serious, "big-picture" thinker who is cautiously optimistic about humanity moving in the right direction, with religions having some chance of overcoming their destructive attributes and making the world better off with them than without them.

         Since I am new to his ideas and have not read his book, I can't say whether I agree or disagree with his conclusions, but I always quibble with the kind of agnosticism he and even Moyers display, which assumes that ultimately, no definitive statements about the nature of God will ever be possible. He is whatever we think He is; even if there is some divine and/or transcendent essence or supernatural power that creates us and may also hold us accountable in terms of that "moral axis," we can only speculate, or "believe."

         Though Wright objects to the kind of adamant, hard-core anti-religious ideology held by scientific atheists such as Richard Dawkins, both men have that one thing in common: neither believes that anyone can know for sure whether or not God actually exists, and both believe that whatever God's attributes are deemed to be, they are constructs of human imagination.

        My contention is always this: knowing God by direct perception within one's own consciousness is actually possible, and there are many people, meditators in particular, who experience this. It is ultimately subjective, of course, but we mystics know what orthodox religious groups, agnostics and atheists all claim cannot be known. It is unfortunate that the word, "mystical" has a connotation that invites incredulity. In my view, throughout religious history, only the mystics have ever gotten it right.

         Which brings me back to this idea that while I have a lot of anti-religious opinions and sentiments, my mystic inclinations tend to place me in the "religious" column, after all. Whether I know something about God with more certainty than other religious thinkers, or I only think or believe I do, I still end up a kind of theologian. I advocate for God, and for a certain way of understanding the most proper and beneficial relationship between God and ourselves. I may be in the smallest religious minority on the planet, with a total membership of one, but the deeper I go into yoga and mysticism, the more devout I want to be. I am becoming more serious about living up to what it means to be a devotee of the divine "Self" that is described in the Upanishads (my current reading material).

         I know from history, however, that religions can make mistakes. The one mistake that they all seem to make is the sanctification of ancient texts, calling them "holy scriptures" or even "The Word of God." Most of what I have learned about God and religion have come from sources other than "scriptures." There are a lot of good books, and I find that God sends me clues toward higher realizations by way of lots of different books, films, television programs, and conversations with other people. I don't hold any of those as sacred, but for me, they are more meaningful because they are part of a dynamic, living interaction between me, God, and the mysterious workings of the Universe as a function of God's intentions to educate and enlighten me.

     

    da

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    Notes of A Fortunate Soul

    Sunday, July 5, 2009, 5:47 PM [General]

     I am no one important to the world (I am but a humble yogi). Yet I am the most fortunate of God's creatures. Who is more blessed by God's Grace than I? Surely no one. Others may hold high office or great wealth, or power, or social status. Others may have great learning and intelligence and even wisdom. But surely few have been answered at every turn, in the most immediate way, for every fervent prayer and wish to know the Truth.

        So many confirmations have come to me of God's existence in reality, of His compassion for a lost soul with a child's heart, his generosity in revealing to me the transcendent joy that is His gift to us. I cannot explain why the spiritual journey is more arduous for some than for others like myself, but God-realization is not an impossible ideal, only attainable through self-abnegation, asceticism, or strict religious discipline. It can be attained by anyone willing to abandon preconceptions and conditions, and open oneself to a wide-open Universe of possibility.

        God is not limited to the concepts religions impose on Him. Any set of theological beliefs specific to a particular religion will fail to encompass the reality of God. A true seeker will accept that he does not yet know what God's reality may be, and must enter into a process of allowing it to be revealed in whatever form that reality may take. Acquiring God-Consciousness to any degree is an attainment resulting from prayer to the unlimited, Universal God, and the practice of mysticism-allowing the mysterious to remain so. The spiritual phenomena that are the essence of the God experience are best absorbed whole, without intellectual analysis, without the intrusion of dismissive or judgmental thoughts. Naturally, many interesting thoughts come out of the mystical experiences of deep meditation, but whenever we are in the midst of observing them, within our own internal, conscious awareness, it is the quiet mind, suspending both belief and disbelief, description, opinion, analysis, and so forth, that takes full advantage and absorbs the spiritual nourishment coming through the pipeline from God's realm.

       In other words, let it be what it really is; let it reveal its true nature to your inner observer, and you learn at the same time your own true nature. The formless and chaotic energy manifesting inside your own skull, separate from conventional modes of thought, carries the secret code messages from God that will transform your consciousness from its limited, individual state into the Consciousness of Truth, connected to the Universal Consciousness and to those of all other, similar seekers in the world.

       The key to this endeavor is to learn to practice deep meditation. There are a number of techniques in the repertoire of Hindu/yogic and Buddhist/Zen disciplines. Seek out a guru, swami, or yoga teacher to get you started. If you are already meditating, more power to you. Don't be discouraged, don't fight it, don't judge your experience or lack thereof. Stay with it. Remember that it's not about becoming something that others want you to become, but about your transformation from an egoistic false identity incapable of joy, into who and what you really are, deep within--joyful, purposeful, and content.

     

    NAMASTE

    Yogi da

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    Nevermind About Religious Ideas

    Saturday, May 23, 2009, 3:20 AM [General]

    Om.

    Sa...Han...Sa...Han...Sa...Han...Sa...(Breathe).

    The only reality is Cosmic Consciousness. I am (that I am).

    I thought I was an important person. I was wrong.

    I thought I had something important to say. I was wrong.

    I thought God loved me. I was right.

    Om.

    Sa...Han...Sa...Han...Sa...Han...Sa...(Breathe).

    PEACE = STILLNESS = SILENCE OF THOUGHT

    Religions try to tell people what God wants us to BELIEVE. They are wrong. God is not about beliefs. Beliefs are mere conjecture. They have no substance. They are fantasies only. God is not a fantasy. God is real. What does real God want us to do? Find Him. Where can He be found? Not in any of those books. Not in religious ideas. Not in beliefs. Not in rituals. Not in laws, rules, restrictions, requirements of dress or diet. Not in zealotry, bigotry, or hate toward people who don't believe what religions demand.

    God has sent a thousand great teachers, prophets, incarnations, avatars, gurus of divine truth. All have said that to find God, become still and look within. Again and again, we fail because the task is supremely simple, and through religious thought we make it absurdly complex.

    Be still. Chant God's name through the breath, in a whispered thought, until the mind is silent. Then the nature of Spirit will make itself known to you. Light will come to the inner eye. In that light is truth.

    All else is folly, empty talk. Even this. My religion is right here, in stillness and peace, in love and light. It is perfect, for me. Yet it does you no good at all.

    The true seeker does not need more words, more ideas, more thoughts, more concepts, more images, or mere advice. Yet advice is all I can offer. Take to heart these two words that are like a sign upon the door that says, "Enter Here." The most important words for the true seeker are these:

    DEEP MEDITATION.

    I have no more to give you.

    Sa...Han...Sa...Han...Sa...Han...Sa...(Breathe).

    Om.

    NAMASTE

    da

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    The Forgiveness Process Revisited

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 4:23 AM [General]

    Belief in forgiveness, in general, is a noble sentiment. But forgiving is often difficult, for the simple reason that when we have been wronged, injured, insulted, betrayed, and so on, we feel justified in our anger and resentment. How can we forgive if the hurt cannot be undone, and no apology or reparations are forthcoming? So often it's not a simple nor easy thing to do, to just forgive. Sometimes I think resentment is everyone's favorite poison, and I've been as sickened by it as anyone else. Something happened to me today that upset me, insulted me, and made me feel resentful. OK, I'll try to forgive. But how?

    It's called The Forgiveness Process. It takes a lot of intention and practice to make it work. "To err is human, to forgive, divine." What that actually means is this: forgiveness requires us to pray for God's help, because as mere humans, we can't forgive, we don't know how. We don't understand what it really is or where it comes from. Forgiveness begins when we recognize that it is no longer the original injury that hurts us, it is the burden of our resentment toward the person who hurt us that won't let us heal. Once we find the intention to forgive, so we can let go of that poisonous resentment and heal, then we need to pray to God for help: "Please, God, help me to forgive, so that I may be forgiven." We can't do it alone!

    We all have a need to be forgiven, to be relieved of our own guilt, just as we need to forgive someone else, to be relieved of our resentment. We pray to God for healing and love, first for ourselves. As we make this prayer, we promise to share the love God sends us with others, especially in forgiveness toward the transgressor. God's love and healing energy can be felt as it passes through us and on to someone else. That's why very generous, kind, caring, loving people who give selflessly to others are so joyous in God's love - they're passing it on, so the current flows through them and lights them up!

    When I learned the Forgiveness Process, I went through and consciously asked God's help to forgive everyone in my life who ever hurt me, including family members I loved, but had to admit I resented in various ways for certain things that happened when I was young. Many of those people were dead already, but I did it anyway, to be healed of some very old, deep-down pain. This process means going through and thinking of each person, individually, and each hurt, and praying to God specifically for help forgiving each of those.

    Over time, by meditating and praying for God's help to forgive in this way, some core cleansing and healing of the soul can take place. It makes us more capable of being kind, compassionate, generous, loving people, and a conduit for God's love to be expressed in the world. That is a blessed life, and we should believe we are capable of becoming that kind of person.
    PEACE & BLESSINGS,
    da

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    To Orthodoxists Regarding Heresy

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 3:08 AM [General]

    I found an article on Beliefnet from an orthodox Christian viewpoint where they were trying to define "heresy," to get a grasp of what the word actually means, if anything. There were some statements made that were both informative and provocative. I have an interest in this issue, which is difficult to summarize, so I'm just going to post here what I wrote for a comment to that article.

    If you want to understand heresy, let's look at some, shall we?

    I find this question interesting because my spiritual path has led me to re-examine my Christian roots from time to time. Orthodoxists would surely consider me a heretic, but I don't mind. The very concept of heresy has always struck me as foul, superstitious and morally indefensible. I have a long list of complaints about orthodox theology, but primarily, I object to the dogmatism of establishment churches and their spokespersons for the myriad ways they attempt to control the narrative of the life and death of Yeshua bar Yusef, and to suppress variants that call into question any of their erroneous (historically untrue or downright fictional) beliefs. I challenge the vocabulary of orthodoxy: there is no such thing as "heresy," there never has been. It's just a weapon used in power struggles among ambitious factions in the church-state hierarchies of history, a handy accusation to eliminate competition. It surprises me that the very word is even still in use.

    I'm interested in Christian orthodoxy as it compares to Gnosticism/ mysticism, and from a historical perspective. Is it heresy to claim (shout from the rooftops) that the true story of the real Jesus is quite different from what is taught in churches today? That the Bible is an unreliable document, the product of manipulation by very flawed human beings with various agendas, in the Second and Third Centuries A.D.? The editing, the removal of sections, the insertion of invented material re-written much later? That belief in scriptural inerrancy or authority to determine what is orthodox or heretical, is absurd?

    Is it heresy to claim that Jesus spent the "missing" years, age 14 to 28 or so, in India and Tibet? The Legend of Saint Issa is clearly about Jesus, this great, mystical figure from Judea. He meditated in a Buddhist monastery for five years straight, and came out more God-realized and radiant than anyone before or since. He's known and remembered and revered by millions in that part of the world, and those people understand him far better than Western Christendom. Is that heresy? Is it heresy to claim that Jesus is greater than orthodox Christianity gives him credit for, because he ATTAINED his divinity, and was much bigger in the world than your (purposely limited) narrative allows?

    "A belief so fundamentally problematic that it renders human salvation via Christ impossible." Again, I challenge the underlying assumptions: 1) Whether you can make that call, or discriminate through an orthodoxy test, whether that is the case or not for anyone; 2) Whether salvation is a thing that really happens after death ONLY if the decedent has passed the orthodoxy test regarding the "correctness" of a BELIEF. Do you actually speak for Christ on this question more than anyone else does, because you are so certain that your beliefs are correct and any variants are hell-bound heresies? You have the lineage, the heritage factor; your antecedents were always orthodox because they were the establishment and could define orthodoxy however they wanted to. But it doesn't make them - or you -- right. Beliefs are never more than conjecture at best. In essence, they are nothing at all, mere figments of thought, and as such, are without consequence. Actions, behavior, yes. But beliefs?

    Forgive me if I sound rude. Perhaps I am so far outside the norms that I don't even qualify as a Christian. So, is it heresy to feel a deep and abiding connection to the divine through the person called Jesus the Christ, but to have gnosis, mystical insight, and a belief system substantially at odds with your own? To deny that salvation is even necessary, because there is no Hell? The Old Testament is wrong about a lot of things; the vengeful, angry, jealous God was never real, and Jesus surpassed even the Buddha in compassion for all who suffer in the illusions of this world. If Jesus can save ANYONE, He will save EVERYONE. If that's heresy to you, then you orthodoxists need not concern yourselves with our salvation. Tend to your own. We're already in good hands.

    PEACE & BLESSINGS,
    da

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Messages from God, Amazing Stuff!

    Thursday, April 23, 2009, 12:32 AM [General]

    My last entry here was about my sister's breakdown and the chaos that ensued. Family relationships can be SO complicated. I was thrown off center for a few days, and it was a long, stressful week. In that journal entry, I was talking about ways I had found to cope with the chaos and bring myself back. That post was deleted, but this is the sequel, nonetheless.

    That day when I suddenly felt better and I went out running around in the sunny afternoon, I found this incredible store called "New Age People," full of beautiful spiritual STUFF, and I went around taking in all the beauty and color and inspiration that I saw. Finally, this book appeared right in front of me, and I knew I was supposed to buy that particular book, The Yoga of Jesus. The author was Paramahansa Yogananda, who wrote Autobiography of a Yogi, a very famous book among truth-seeking college-age hippies in the early 1970's. This book is so perfect for me, it was a wonderful gift, to have been guided, as I wandered around, to find it.

    It took me a few days to clear my head and re-center myself, but I got there, just in the nick of time. My sister called to ask if we could talk and whether she could come back to the house. I was ready, I was OK after doing all the right stuff to straighten out my energies and be with my inner peace again. So between then and tonight, my sis has told me a number of stories of her experience, being in transitional housing, group living, like a half-way house for these poor, homeless, mentally-ill folks coming out of the mental hospital. She found herself giving to others worse off than herself, little kindnesses and acts of generosity, and it lifted her heart. She has a precious 17-year-old son who is now not speaking to her, and at the place she was staying was a kid her son's age whose mother is not speaking to him. Alone in a room together at midnight, he poured out his heart to her, told her things he's been through, and she ministered to him. She's a mom, she knows how. And she recognized that God was showing her things, creating learning opportunities for her. She felt she had made a leap forward in her spiritual growth because of all these things that went on. Also, when she was trying to meditate and pray, God put a couple of messages in her mind. One was, very gently, you have to stop trying to hurt yourself. You want to come back to Heaven, and you will, when it's time, but stop trying to hurry the process.

    The other message was more urgent. My sister is a "sensitive," and her therapist (who is a highly evolved person, a Reiki master and I-don't-know-what-all) understands what she's going through, and verified this for her. The vibrations in the world are becoming very intense, it's a critical time for our planet. God told my sister to pray for an army of angels to walk the earth among us! She said, "I know it's not just me, it's a message He's sending out to all believers."

    She said she recognized that it could be perceived as the product of her mental illness, but it was so real to her. My sister is pugnacious, stubborn, argumentative, etc. but she's an idealist, kind of a crusader, she demands justice and fairness where it seems to be lacking. As a sensitive, she is also an activist. She has a cause now, to help people like the ones she met at the halfway house. Nobody donates anything for them, nobody tries to help them, and they are the most needy, i.e., what Jesus called "the least of these."

    It's all very deep stuff, but my sister and I understand each other so much better now than we did before. She's going to be OK. She's going to serve God by helping people, and be a happier person for it. I'm going to continue on my path, as I understand it, and apply myself to the purpose of my life: God-realization. I understand my role, what my "assignment" is. I am a Soldier of PEACE. By necessity, being a pacifist is a very passive role. The more peaceful I become, the more centered I become, through the practice of meditation, and staying conscious of my connection to God as it has been revealed to me, then my soul expands beyond the limits of my physical body, and this energy field that emanates from me radiates love and peace. I don't know what God wants me to DO (well, sometimes I do), but I know what He wants me to BE. Becoming THAT is my job, my assignment, my service.

    Tonight I prayed with all my heart, please God, send us an army of angels to walk the earth among us. I'm going to ask others to join us in this. Anyone who believes in God or knows God, and anyone who believes or understands that angels are real, powerful, spiritual creatures, I want to ask to join us in a simple but fervent prayer: please God, send us an army of angels to walk the earth among us. I hate all the apocalyptic, end-times paranoia, but it might be true. Great trials may be coming. So, calling all angels, we need all the help we can get.

    PEACE & BLESSINGS

    da

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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