Friday, December 30, 2011

Dust of the Feet

Tonight I meditate upon Radha, of which whose devotion was so great to Her Lord Krishna, that if we had a tenth of that devotion, I believe we'd be instantly liberated.

There's a story regarding Krishna that, having such a terrible headache, his entire kingdom was in turmoil because they couldn't figure out how to cure it. After all, what mortal medicine could cure God? The problem, however, wasn't the medicine. The issue was the element of self-deceit even among His greatest bhaktas. No one felt they were good enough to serve their Lord— to give back for all the wise counsel He had given them.

Tiring of the headache, Krishna sent some men to gather the dust from the feet of the gopi, the milkmaids. Applying this, said the Lord, will be a cure for the headache. When His advisors found a couple of milkmaids and made the request, they were more than happy to help their Lord. Collecting the dust, the men returned, only to discover the headache having already been cured. Krishna taught the men it was the selfless service of the women that cured the headache. One cannot be selfless if one's self-image is one extreme or another. Both self-conceit and self-deceit are harmful in both living physically and spiritually.

Conceit, thankfully, has never been an issue with me. The other, however, has been a plague to me since I was quite young. I've had many a time when I have been low, even to the point of being self-destructive. There's even been times that, like most of those in the story, felt that what I am and have was never good enough for Devi. I was too contaminated from my selfish iniquity to properly serve Her. This was similar to the "filthy rag" complex apparent in Christianity, where one feels one does not deserve the grace of God.

However, I do. We are all deserving of living a good life in communion with the Divine. Moksha, liberation, is one of the four things which all seek and it's the only one guaranteed. Some of us just take a few more incarnations than the next person to get it right. However, it is something that everyone, because we all hold the infinitum of the Divine within, deserves and will get. The beginning of it? Bhakti. Devotion.

The gopi also show us that faith the size of dust (or mustard seed if you will!) is a sufficient start in working towards the Divine and, ultimately, liberation. It doesn't take much. Just believe. Study. Meditate. The roadway to Deity might be dirty at times, but it is by our very feet that we get there. After all, if dust was all it took to cure God of a humanly ailment, imagine what just a little more can do! Just believe. Do. Find liberation.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011


Nearing midnight, I contemplate upon Kālī, She Who Takes Away the Darkness. May She be merciful.

Another Autumn, another set of major changes in my life. This is the third one in a row where I find myself facing difficult decisions based upon alterations in the life I previously lived. It's such changes that truly challenges me on every level, because it is the very idea of change that I have difficulty accepting.

Most recently, bizarre circumstances ripped many things I held dear from beneath my feet. In a matter of a few days, I lost a lot and it bothers me deeply. On some level, I expected it to happen. My reaction, thus, was initially that of ambivalence. Other emotions came into play thereafter. I sought and acquired help. It still stabbed deeply.

Attachment is suffering.

Damn, it is.

Fortunately, I found myself in an environment a bit less stressing than I previously imagined. In fact, unforeseen events made null my biggest source of concern and I could not but see a providence led by Her hand, her mudra of protection, held high. Therefore, I sit now in a neutral state, observing whatever may come next. May She be merciful.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Beneath the Rough -- Where is the Diamond?

Long have I looked.

And Toiled.

I have turned the Earth over and over and strip-mined the soul.  Soiled have my hands become in my labors and withheld has become a number of wages.  Still, I keep digging, looking for that glimmer of Your priceless jewel.

It's been awhile since I have blogged.  I have experienced a wane in my spiritual depths but the fault is my own.  A recent survey into death, through the research of a book suitable for explaining it to children, reminded me of my own final wish:  For my ashes to be placed at the lotus feet of Kali at one of Her temples.

Our ashes, our carbon remains, puts me into the perspective of that diamond.  The soil and mineral rough that covers the diamond relates to our physical, disillusioned self-- the asura Ego-- while the diamond itself is our true Self, Atma, that changeless reality indistinguishable from God.  As guilty as any other, I have found myself devolving to a focus upon that false exterior.  The trials and tribulations of life succeeds in hiding the diamond beneath.  In order to find it, we still must dirty our hands.  We must continue to work.

Just as Kali appears black to the physical eyes, a glimpse beyond with the eye of Atma displays Her radiance, gleaming across the Three Worlds in a splendor absolutely incomparable.  But, to see Her, we must first see ourSelves, and just as the soot of endless aeons disintegrates and self-knowledge become manifest, so shall simultaneously the darshan of She Who Takes Away the Darkness be granted. 

I must.  We must keep working.  Damn the dirt and damn the irrelevant matter that veils Truth.

You are there, Mother, are You not?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Navratri: Nine Nights to Perfection

Today, I offered five repetitions of the Prapannarti mantra and Kali Sahasranama in context of my puja, and celebrate the second night of the nine-night festival, Navratri.

Why is it nine nights? I meditated upon this, and here are my feelings.

It is nine nights because it calls us to perfection. Nine is a perfect number. All multiples of nine comes back to nine. 9x3=27 2+7=9, 9x5=45 4+5=9, 9x12=108 1+0+8=9, ad infinitum. It is no mistake that Durga emanates nine times, as Navadurga. Devi manifests eight more times as the Matrikas in Chandi, totalling nine, whom emanate to the 64 Yoginis, a multiple of nine, or as 81 in some traditions. Kali (or Sri, depending on tantrik kula) manifests nine more times, and including Herself, makes the Dasamahavidyas. Then there are Navagrahas and I could go on, but the central nature of nine is paramount in importance because it is that call to perfection.

Navratri seeks to perfect us collectively. The ugra expression of Devi as Chandi/Durga facilitates that ability in us as we experience Her through each night. When She slayed Mahiasura, it was said that, because he was killed by Her weapon, He was able to go to Her loka. If the incarnation of the Great Ego can transcend, what is our excuse?

We just have to surrender our egos. Sometimes this means we have to encounter Devi head-on and get pierced by Her trishula for it to happen. The best Mother will hold your hand through life's challenges, but She will slap it when you misbehave, too. And, if that still does not get your attention, She will pierce your heart at Her feet.

In Navratri, our egos identify with the hoards of asuras, and near the end, we are called to surrender as the story comes to a close. The sooner we do so, allowing our ego to be slain, the sooner we reach perfection, atma-jnana, and moksha.

Jai Jagatambe!
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Sun will Rise Again

These last few evenings have been unpleasant as I witness the tragedies that rock Japan and the loss of a friend who transcended this life just before the first quakes hit.  Unrelated in event, the same in the divine lila (play), I sit silently and mourne, ache, and contemplate upon the cycle that we must observe and inevitably experience.  May Chandi cut away any doubts of this.

Life.  Death.  Rebirth.  The vicious waves of samsara consumes until we detach from it.  This requires swimming against currents whose strength cannot be replicated by any natural disaster.  Mountains can, indeed, be moved more easily than the mind of a person fixed on duality.  But, there remains something even more powerful than that:  Hope.  In times of personal crisis, it has been the only thing that has pulled me through.

It is my hope that we do not consider the tragedy as one to Japan, but as one to all of us.  We need to stop looking at others by skin color, nationality, gender, religion and other transient identities.  That only feeds the duality that churns samsara and promotes our suffering. Just as I find loss in the passing of Julie, so do we experience tragedy in the loss of our own, of those of us who just happen to be in the country of Japan. 

An observation, a question:  Why do we so easily find unity following such disasters?  It thrills me to see us come as one to help each other during such times.  Yet, it perplexes me that, during all other times, we become individuals, often ones in apathy of others unless our gain is in concern.  Think upon that.  Give me your own answers, if you will.  Why can we not keep submitted our ego all other times?

Nonetheless, brothers and sisters of Japan: Remember, you are the the Land of the Rising Sun.  It may appear to be sitting upon you now, but just as rebirth follows death, you shall also be see the Rising Sun once more.  Until then, you stay in my prayers, and my prayers remain in the unity of us all--and, a hope that as the waters recede, so does the dualist current that keep us apart.

To Julie, sitting now in the splendor of her devaloka, I love you.  I know that life gave you a terrible hand but you endured through it.  I was not always there for you as I should have been, and I hold only myself accountable for it.  Your heart gave out because it was too open for this world to accept.  If given rebirth, may Devi give you an abundance beyond your dreams.  I miss you... Tarpayami, dear one.

Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nine Quotes from the Upanishads

"All the gods waited upon the Goddess (and asked): ‘Great Goddess, who art Thou ?’  She replied: I am essentially Brahman. From Me (has proceeded) the world comprising Prakriti and Purusha, the void and the Plenum. I am (all forms of) bliss and non-bliss. Knowledge and ignorance are Myself. Brahman and non-Brahman are to be known –says the scripture of the Atharvans. I am the five elements as also what is different from them. I am the entire world. I am the Veda as well as what is different from it. I am the unborn; I am the born. Below and above and around am I.  I move with Rudras and Vasus, with Adityas and Visvedevas. Mitra and Varuna, Indra and Agni, I support, and the two Asvins.  I uphold Soma, Tvastir, Pusan and Bhaga, The wide-stepping Vishnu, Brahma, Prajapati. To the zealous sacrificer offering oblation And pressing the Soma-juice do I grant wealth; I am the state, the Bringer of Wealth; Above it all, place I its protector. Whoso knows my essence in the water of the inner sea, Attains he the Goddess’s abode."  --Devi Upanishad 1-7

"The Mother of the Universe sustains Her abode –the Destroyer’s Face, the Circle of t The core of sounds, the span of time, The Eternal, half the lunar month; With sixteen (She sustains the core of their abode.  Or, worshipping the digit of desire in its man forms, Enthroned in the three cavernous homes and in Of the rounded breasts and face set in the sphe The man of desires gains that which he wants. Dressed fish, goat’s flesh, Cooked rice, pleasure of sex Who offers to the Goddess great, Merit and success for himself achieves."  --Tripura Upanishad 10-12

"Om. The Goddess was indeed one in the beginning. Alone she emitted the world-egg. (She) is known as Love’s Part (IM). (She) is known as the half-syllabic instant after OM.   Of Her was Brahma born; was Vishnu born; was Rudra born. All wind-gods were born, celestial minstrels, nymphs, semi-human beings playing on instruments, were born (of Her), all around. What is enjoyed was born; everything was born (of Her). Everything of Power was born (of Her). The egg-born, the sweat-born, the seed-born, the womb-born, whatever breathes here, the stationary as well as the moving, and man were born (of Her). "  --Bahvricha Upanishad 1-2

"Seated in the spotless lotus Coloured as its pollen heaps Bearing in her lotus palms Lotus pair and symbolled promise Of fear dispelled and boons bestowed; With jewelled crown and ornaments diverse Wondrously adorned –Let Sri, Mother of the world entire, Promote our fortunes ever."  --Saubhagya Lakshmi Upanishad I-3

"Faith, grasp, intelligence Thou art, Goddess of Speech, spouse of Brahma; Thy home, the tongue-tip of devout Souls; Thou the giver of virtues, Such as restraint of mind’s movements.   Obeisance to Thee, O Bhavani ! Whose tresses deck the crescent moon. Thou art the stream of nectar that Extinguishes samsara’s heat."  --Saraswati Rahasya Upanishad 40-41

"I am Brahman, ever manifest, pure, first, endless; there is no room for the slightest dallying with aught else’ –thus think, having become blemishless; achieve Nirvana (permanent peace) having purified and quietened all movements of the mind.  Know that none of the things seen here is there; it is all like ‘the city in the sky’ and ‘water in the desert’.   On the other hand, what is nowhere seen, at all, is not given (as an object); beyond the range of the sixth sense, mind, O sage --assimilate yourself to That.   Grasp: I am That which is the indestructible, infinite, Spirit, the Self of everything, integral, replete, abundant and partless."  --Annapurna Upanishad I-19-22

"Enthrone the supreme vidya, the Divinity in the heart –the Divinity styled Kama, the Primeval One; whose form is the Fourth; who transcends the Fourth, who exceeds all; who occupies all seats consecrated with holy spells; who is surrounded on all sides by deities seated on the main and subordinate seats; who pervades all parts (from Prana, vital breath, to naman, name); the deity who is replete with delight; who is in union with the supreme Spirit; who is in the heart; whose gift is immortality; who is complete and who is possessed of senses; who, forever, is uprisen; who comprises three groups; has three abodes, and is the supreme and most excellent Maya;." --Tripura Tapini I-39

"The supreme divinity, Lalita, is one’s own blissful Self.  Of all this the distinctive apprehension is the red glow. Perfection (ensues from) exclusive concentration of the mind. In the performance of meditation consist (various acts of) respectful service. The act of oblation is the merger in the Self of distinctions like I, Thou, Existence, non-Existence, the sense of duty and its negation, and the obligation worship."  --Bhavana Upanisad 27-31

"By Srirama’s (light of total liberation) presence enabled The universe She sustains; All embodied beings She brings forth, sustains and withdraws. Sita must be known; She is the first cause; As Om is She that cause, Declare the Brahman-knowers.   Now, therefore, inquiry into Brahman.  She here is all the Vedas; all the gods; all the worlds; all renown; all virtue; all ground, effect and cause; the great Beauty of the Lord of gods. She has a form which is different and yet the same. She is the essence of the intelligent and the inert. She is all, from Brahma to stocks and stones. She is embodied, owing to distinctions of attributes and activities. She assumes the forms of gods, sages, men and Gandharvas; of demons, fiends, spirits, ghosts, goblins, etc.; and of the elements, sense-organs, mind and the vital breaths.   That divine Being is threefold through Her power, namely the power of desire, the power of action, and the power of knowledge." --Sita Upanishad 7-11

Friday, March 4, 2011

Attachment is Detachment

It is often said that a Shakta, in contrast to other dharmi sects, has such a love for Goddess that he or she will forego liberation, of being absorbed into the infinite supreme and thus freed of the cycles of reincarnation, in order to spend time in Her presence in Her respective loka.  It is such a level of devotion towards Deity that all should strive to obtain, because once we yearn for Her and reach out for Her, She will return the embrace and cling onto us even harder.  Like the hold of a lover seemingly gone forever, our sufferings lapse because we are relieved of a separation anxiety that seems to have afflicted us since birth.  In that embrace, we experience bliss.

It is our attachment to the transient world that creates a detachment from realizing our inner divinity, the atma, and therefore from experiencing the state of sat-chit-ananda in knowing the boundless love of the Mother of the Worlds.  That is why we continue to return time and time again to the physical world.  It is the Law of Attraction overclocked:  like attracts like.  If we constantly cling to the idea of having the New Best Thing™, of bowing down to the bottomless stomach of status and material hoarding, we will return to that very world.  If, instead, we cling to Devi, it is to Her that we then go. 

This is not to say that the material world is evil and its sensual pleasures are to be avoided.  The yuga of asceticism is long behind us.  One can be well-to-do and surrounded by creature comforts and still have the capacity of experiencing atma-jnana, moksha and the fullest of Goddess.  It is, after all, not what we have but rather how it is acquired and, of course, our priorities.  If it is acquired through shafting your neighbor or the objects of the senses are to keep up with the Jones', then you are simply adding to the divisions of the world as opposed to bringing it (and yourself) to Oneness.

Sanatana Dharma views the world panentheistically.  Panentheism means "all within God", in contrast to the notion of "all is God" of pantheism.  Pantheism is rather flawed because if you deduct "all" (as in the world around us), then logic would suggest that Deity would non-exist.  In panentheism, all things exist within the divine current and the Divine would exist even if we cease to do so.  Obviously, something started all of this, preserves it and will end it at the ebd of this yuga, only to start it again.  This is shakti, power, the fluid, transcendant and immanent Devi.

Because all things exist within Devi, nothing can be inherently "bad".  The physical world is not "sinful" and we are not born damned.  It all, instead, goes back to what you do with what you are given.  You can detach from the world while it.  You can attach to Devi while having a fantastic lifestyle.  Creating more suffering to ourselves is the last thing She wants.  We just have to learn that this is not the whole of the world. 

Instead of becoming a hardcore renunciate, we need to see things through atma-vision:  that is, to identify "I" as atma, "I" as Devi, because it is our real nature.  In doing so, our mind is tuned to Her and we cling to Her.  Through it, we see the Oneness in all things;  we reconcile the manmade opposites of us/them, good/bad and holy/profane on a vision both egalitarian and with equinamity.  This is the prescription for this yuga, after all, the remembrance of the Name (of your ishtadevata) and this brings liberation.

By transcending attachment to such transient objects and ideas, we sieve off the false assertion of detachment to Deity.  We have never been detached from Her.  Our seperation anxieties are a delusion- a bloody lie!- acquired by allowing ourselves to feel like "filthy rags", by allowing ourselves to feel superior to the other, by feeding the Ego and starving the spirit.  Want to be part of the real revolution?  Stop lying to yourself.   In the truest sense:

I am God.
You are God.


We are God.

So, start looking inward and discover that.  TVs burn out, clothing becomes torn, food spoils and we all grow old, but That which is within you does not change as She is forever.  Don't wait a dozen incarnations later to think about it. The fact that you are reading this may even suggest it is time for that introspection.  Only you can do it.

Jai Jagatambe!