Category Archives: Uncategorized
Dear Loved Ones, far and wide!
I am currently spending my second winter in a row on cold and snowy eastern
Long Island, NY. Besides working to make money in order to be with my guru, Amma, I am able to write and publish books in the relative solitude here. And so, I
am pleased to share my latest book with all of you.
Entitled “Love Is In My Mother, The Moon,” it is a book of poetry, so if
you’re into that kind of thing please feel free to check it out here:
It’s available in a paper or an e-reader edition and you can even download
a large free sample in the Kindle edition.
One of the regulars at Amma’s ashram put together a video of him rapping. It’s great and has incredible shots of India, both street life and wild. He used a drone for many of the shots. If you’re so inclined to watch a profound and meaningful rap video, it’s here:
A delight from a fountain of musical delight: Janapriya.
Just donated to ‘Equip midwives in rural Haiti’. Give $1. Change a lot. https://onetoday.google.com/p/2-auy8oS
Walking With Intention Day 21 by Kilaya Ciriello – http://wp.me/p2K7eP-2yV
For those of you who don’t already follow Sreejit’s “SEEKER’S DUNGEON” blog, I highly recommend it. This link is for a piece that I wrote for his “WALKING WITH INTENTION” series of posts.
My first impulse was to write about what intent and intention means within the teachings of Don Juan (from the works of Carlos Castaneda) but it spontaneously morphed into this inquiry into the free-will vs. Destiny debate.
I have to admit that, privately, I often ask myself what is the point of intention, if even being able to ask about it requires Divine Grace.
I use questions like that to put the ego in its place and make space for a contented, celebratory faith. If I fall into the trap of thinking the whole world is on my shoulders, I will never find peace and love in life. Of course, if I remain content with my own miserable emotions and don’t make inquiries or spiritual practices, I won’t know lasting peace or joy either. Another fine line to dance upon.
Janapriya is a shockingly talented one man orchestra who happens to be fun to watch as well. Support him on patreon and support joy in the world.
“WRONG THOUGHTS (VIPARYAYA) OCCUR WHEN AN IDEA ABOUT SOMETHING DOESN’T MATCH WHAT THE OBJECT ACTUALLY IS.”
The most common examples of “viparyaya” are cases of mistaken identity. For example, if we see a rope in a darkly lit place and think that it is a snake, our mind is filled with “viparyaya.” When a group of blind men, after touching an elephant, each come up with a different answer as to what they were touching, they experienced “viparyaya.” When a rope is burnt, it often retains the appearance that it is still whole and usable. Seeing a burnt rope and thinking that we have a rope with which we can tie up our dog is also a case of “viparyaya.” In all cases, the object we are cognizing is not what we think it is and so, it is wrong knowledge or misconception.
It is interesting to keep in mind that in this sutra, Patanjali is listing another type of “knowing,” all of which must be let go of in the practice of Yoga. Yoga as he stated earlier describes a mind that doesn’t change in the process of knowing or not knowing things. The yogic mind is somehow always the same. But the important point here is that Patanjali is describing all the different types of thoughts that the Yogic mind is unconnected with. It’s not that the Yogic mind is connected with right thoughts or knowledge (pramana) and disconnected with wrong or false knowledge (viparyaya), rather it is disconnected or unaffected by both equally. This tells us that he is describing a very uncommon, hard to imagine even, state of mind.
“CORRECT THOUGHTS, ‘PRAMANA,’ COME FROM EITHER YOUR OWN DIRECT AND ACCURATE PERCEPTION, ACCURATE LOGICAL INFERENCE (REASONING) OR THE TESTIMONY OF A TRUSTWORTHY SOURCE.”
Patanjali gives us three different ways that we can arrive at holding a factual, accurate thought in our mind. Remember that even a factual, correct thought can cause us pain or pleasure depending on our current emotions. The thought, ‘Joe So and So has died,’ for instance, may be a fact (pramana) that can cause us tremendous pain if Joe was our father and can cause us joy, perhaps, if Joe was our foremost business competitor. Remember also, that even a factual thought, a pramana, is part of the fluctuations of the mind that must subside in our journey towards yoga, as Patanjali states in the earlier sutra #2.
“Anumana” is the Sanskrt word for logical reasoning in this sutra and it covers all of not only philosophy but also mathematics. Mathematics is, in essence, the science of pure reasoning (adding, subtracting, dividing) not as much with ideas but with symbolic representations of ideas (numbers). And as the modern physics shows so clearly, mathematics has produced some of the most advanced thinking in the past 70 years or more. Even earlier than that, scientists used math to infer the fact that there were more planets beyond Saturn that we couldn’t see. Moreover, scientists used math to infer the existence of elements (that we weren’t aware of yet) from mathematical “holes” in the table of elements.
It is interesting to note that the word “pramana” describes the state of having a true or factual thought but it doesn’t indicate how much confidence we have in that thought. We may read something from a trustworthy source, something from the teachings of Jesus perhaps, that is a fact of life, but we may not have much confidence in it. It is a pramana, a fact, but we may have doubts about whether it is or not. We may even share it with others as if it was a fact but deep inside we may not be so sure. Pramana therefore describes a thought that is actually correct whether or not we are aware that it is correct.
Much of mathematics involves inference that will not be accepted as fact until it has gone through quite extensive testing. Only after many years of experimentation do we realize whether the thought was factual or fancy. Similarly, in our personal lives, we may hold a “pramana” that we use to guide our decisions and only after many years of using this “pramana” do we realize whether it has steered us astray or has been an accurate reference point in order to make decisions. Only experience tells us whether something is a “pramana” or not but Patanjali states that whether we know about a thought’s accuracy or not, it’s truth or lack thereof is independent and solid.
“A warrior thinks of his death when things become unclear.
The idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit.”
—Don Juan quoted within
The Wheel of Time by Carlos Castaneda, pg.39.
The Wheel of Time by Carlos Castaneda, pg.39.
“One of the great aids that the shamans of ancient Mexico employed in establishing the concept of the warrior was the idea of taking our death as a companion, a witness to our acts. Don Juan said that once that premise is accepted, in whatever mild form, a bridge is formed which extends across the gap between our world of daily affairs and something that is in front of us, but has no name; something that is lost in a fog, and doesn’t seem to exist; something so terribly unclear that it cannot be used as a point of reference and yet it is there undeniably present.”
Some of you may have already read my book, THE SCORPIO RING OF FIRE, in which I describe how I came to realize the importance of the idea of death to living life and also how I began to develop a personal relationship to that idea. As I outline in that book, I took Don Juan up on his advice to consider my own death when making decisions in life. I also took his advice on different types of exercises designed to help make such a difficult consideration. I can certainly say that Don Juan’s promises were not empty; they did deliver on their promises to me.
The most valuable result of a healthy relationship to my own death has been what Castaneda calls in that above quote, the formation of “a bridge.” If I had to describe that bridge in the simplest terms I would call it a connection, or a junction, created between the practical, subjective reality and the Absolute, objective one. Don Juan was not the first spiritual teacher to impress me with the importance of creating such a bridge. I had imagined that anything that could shift my consciousness out of the “me-first” orientation that was its default would be valuable in providing relief to the heaviness of life. Religions often describe this same bridge in terms of the figure of God. They describe it as a connection to God, developing faith in God, deriving joy in God, etc.
But this “bridge” is not confined to the simply religious. In Plato’s works Socrates continually implored everyone to re-orient their lives in the same way. Socrates asked his fellow citizens to reground their lives in the Absolutes of philosophy and rational thinking. By considering the Absolutes of philosophy we come to identify with them and then we eventually change our ideas about death. Thus, Plato quotes Socrates in his work “Phaedo:” “Is not philosophy the practice of death? . . . . What does [success for the soul] mean other than she [the soul] has been a true disciple of philosophy and has practiced how to die easily?”
Knowing “how to die easily” is valuable for the reasons that Castaneda gives above: it creates that valuable “bridge” between this fixed and limited world and the other, unseen and yet ever-present and completely perfect one. Spiritual practices are thus practices in “dying easily” and have as their first goal, overcoming fear, as their second, overcoming the false ideas about death that created those fears, and then as their third, building the “bridge” to the Absolute, to the Divine, to the Eternal.
“You’ve been Living in a dream world, Neo.
to the desert
of the real.
What is the Matrix. . . ?
The Matrix is a computer generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into an ordinary battery.”
Morpheus speaking to Neo within the movie “The Matrix.”
Science fiction, right? A conspiracy theory, for sure. We’ve heard all this before: one small group is controlling and dominating a larger group using indoctrination and manipulated systems of education. Not possible, right? Or is it worth considering.
There may not be an unseen group of people or machines that are feeding off of us as a species but is this model familiar to us on another level? Are we, as humans, similarly feeding off another species in a highly controlled and manipulative manner? The industry of providing food for humans in the form of animal husbandry is just that, no? A large scale system in which one species is bred within controlled conditions in order to be the food of another. Is there a similarity between what the machines are doing to humans within the movie, The Matrix, and what humans are doing to animals on planet Earth?
What supports the animal farming industry? Ignorance, largely. The public, who eat the meat of caged and drugged animals, do not see how their food is prepared. What percentage of humans would stop eating most meats if they experienced first hand how that meat was created? I would guess a high percentage only because I believe that human beings are inherently sensitive, caring creatures who don’t like to see anything suffer unnecessarily. But what they don’t know, doesn’t affect them. Could this type of hidden truth be The Matrix of our world? In other words, just as the machines of the movie The Matrix don’t let people know about the background to their lives because they wouldn’t be willing to participate in it if they did, aren’t the industrial forces of meat production keeping humans in the dark about the background story to their products because people wouldn’t buy it if they knew?
In this way, the idea that The Matrix introduces, that our world is not “real” in the way that we think it is, is relevant and worth considering. Not so much science fiction when we look at it in this light.
What if we apply the idea of The Matrix to other areas of industry? If people experienced or witnessed how the objects in China are made would they buy things “Made in China” with such enthusiasm? Probably not. If the American public could see or experience the lack of free speech within China and the violent governmental suppression of any criticism of itself that happens routinely there would they be so enthusiastic about sending it all their hard earned money? A few of them might even think twice about buying that bag of 1000 disposable plastic dishes, all made in china, for their next dinner party and look to use something else instead. They might actively seek out substitutes that are made somewhere closer in values to what the U.S. stands for.