Archive for January 2, 2013
You are upset for having to have some confrontation, some choice to make, to stand up for what you feel is right, even when it means going against loved ones, family, friends, or bosses and co-workers! Although, what you think seems wise, it is not: you know no one confronts anyone. People are Souls, not bodies. Souls are eternal, bodies only house the Soul. The truly wise mourn neither for the friend nor the family. Just as the Soul remains in the body as it changes from childhood to old age. So, too, the Soul remains as we change from one body to another.
Remember that we experience physical sensations such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain through our senses. They are temporal, because they have a beginning and an ending. These experiences will eventually pass. If the mind is focused solely on ever-changing sensory experiences, it will not be possible to quiet the mental chatter long enough to realize one’s eternal Soul. That which is real, is non-changing is eternal; that which is unreal is nonpermanent. So the ever-changing world can be said to be nonexistent, because it is not permanent. Only the Soul can be said to exist, because it is the one thing that does not change. Knowing that the Souls of those you love are eternal and cannot ever die, fight this injustice.
The Soul is eternal; it always existed, and always will exist. It doesn’t move, create, or change anything. So if a person is really the Soul, how can the Soul-Person be confronted if the Soul doesn’t do anything other than exist? When clothes wear out, we don’t grieve too much about it; we simply buy new clothes. So too, the body is a covering for the Soul to wear in order for Self-Realization to have a form to realize its true eternal Soul. So when the body becomes old and unable to be a sturdy home for the Soul, the Soul casts off the old worn-out body and takes on a new one to continue the path to realize one’s true eternal nature.
Now, if this talk of Soul is too abstract, let us think from the mundane vantage; even from this view, there is no cause for grieving. From the point of view of life and death, we know that everything is born, lives, and eventually dies. So why grieve over the inevitable? If you should confront a course you feel is unethical, defending the helpless or the righteous, if you are disliked for doing your life-purpose, your God-given duties, then you shall go to heaven. If you are victorious, you shall enjoy heaven on earth. So for all these reasons resolve your mind and heart and fight the good fight knowing the true permanent nature of the Soul and the ever-changing and impermanent nature of life and see no difference between pleasure and pain, and winning and losing. Focus on the eternal, focus on inevitability, focus on duty, and you cannot incur sin. Sin is a function of the ever-changing world. It occurs when you focus on or get stuck in the relative world: this is sin. Acting beyond change, acting for eternity, takes you beyond sin. This is known as Self-Realization.
Now the spiritual kernel of Vedic philosophy is presented in the mechanics of how bondage is caused and how one can remove the bonds to realize their true nature, the eternal Soul. Let us now talk about yoga the action that merges the inner self with the universal Self, the realization of this eternal nature of Self. If you are sincere, even a small amount of time devoted to yoga delivers you from fear. For this wisdom will free you from the bondage of actions of cause and effect. Focus on your goals, or on the things that must be done without distraction. Avoid people’s words spoken or written just because they sound nice; that is, if they are the words of a charismatic person or a sweet talker. Listen to the essence or substance of what is being communicated for true value.
Some people only do good to gain fame and power. Some aim for heaven; a temporary resting place before returning to earth for continuing on the path of Self-Realization, rather than aim to realize their eternal life. Some people use knowledge as power or prestige or to gain wealth. How many people do you see worshipping knowledge above all else; above ethics, spirit, or compassion. In our modern age, intellectual knowledge is prized over common experience. The Vedic notion is that the highest, most important knowledge is Self-knowledge, because it is the only permanent knowledge. If a person does not seek this permanence, then of what value is intellectual knowledge? If this knowledge does not provide a lasting experience, what good is it? So Krishna says that even the most spiritual of books are only words unless they provide an eternal experience; that is a very profound view of the priority of one’s relationship with their Soul compared to the relevance of spiritual books.
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The physicist Leo Szilard once told a friend he intended to keep a diary "to record the facts for God." "Don’t you think God knows the facts?" his friend asked. "Yes," said Szilard, "He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts…Who has not had some confrontation, some choice to make, to stand up for what they feel is right, even when it means going against loved ones, family, friends, or bosses and co-workers? Here are just a few examples of the same situation that occurs in modern life. What do you do when you learn your company or boss is cheating the employees, the country, harming the earth or the citizens? What does a student do when their friend tells them about some mischievous plans they have to deface their school, or worse, to harm students at school? What do you do when a beloved relative, friend or teacher suddenly chooses a course you feel is unethical? What do you do when your friends tease or hurt someone just because they are different from you emotionally, culturally, or with regard to race or religion? What do you do when family or friends ask you to behave according to what are politically correct or culturally acceptable, yet you feel you are not being yourself? Do you stand up against the status quo or peer pressure and speak what you feel is right, or do what you feel is right whatever the consequence; even at the expense of being ostracized or worse? As a result of seeing this human side, we will have an anxiety attack. Unable to decide what to do, we become numb. So with the basic premise laid out, the underlying spiritual or ethical question becomes…How do you choose what is real? How do you determine what is important? Do ethics supersede relationships with loved ones? Do ethics prevail over peer pressure? Is war ever worth fighting when standing up for what you feel is righteous, gets others killed, hurt, or punished? Is there sin attached to your actions during war? Life doesn’t seem to be black and white, but rather many shades of gray. These are basic questions that people today are forced ask themselves from time to time.
It’s pretty tough to always be happy isn’t it? Why, we’d be foolish to think we could. But, on the other hand, what if we could focus more, organize better, and eliminate our friends’ constant interruptions? Surely some great strategy, time management tool would do the trick. Society tells us, in no uncertain terms, that accomplishments, possessions, and freedom of choice will make us happy. This is the pursuit we’re all going for after all. Society knows what we need to do. They call us consumers. The economy is based on consumption, not creation, not stores of goods, and not quality per se. It’s all about buying power and consumption, and therefore that’s how we measure our success and happiness.
In playing the game of life under society’s rules, our focus is on status, fame, duty, money, and the accumulation of stuff. We can’t help then become attached to this stuff. We judge ourselves and our friends and neighbors not by character and actions but by what is owned. We don’t really even know who we are. The focus is on the visible; the acquisitions, the accomplishments, the rewards. We’re somebody if others say we’re somebody. Our identity, and therefore our happiness, is in the hands of others. That’s a terrible place to be if we want to be happy in life.
I almost hate to say this because it’s so overused but in this case, it’s really true. It’s not our fault. We’ve been fed a bill of goods since we popped out of the womb. From then on, it’s been a slow process of indoctrination in to the system based on acquisition that simply has to have as many willing consumers as possible. They have us believing that happiness can be pursued and captured. All we have to do is buy, use and buy some more! They have us believing that happiness is something out there somewhere and that we must follow the system and earn our way to its rewards. Happiness results when you have enough money, possess enough stuff, and protect it, come hell or high water. No one has told us that you can’t go looking for something you haven’t lost.
Happiness isn’t a reward. True happiness can’t be earned. No one can make you happy. You can’t find it. At best, you can only be titillated by others. You can only be temporarily excited by externally generated gifts and awards and those are short-lived and inferior benefits compared to the joy and peace that lay deep within you already. When we’re young and carefree there’s nothing to block or crush our natural exuberance. We follow our hearts. We freely express ourselves as we frolic on the subway stairs. We’re not bound up with duty and structure. We’re not indoctrinated. We didn’t yet attach our identity to the possession of stuff.
You’ve very likely had the experience of driving somewhere you go often, like work, without observing a thing. You see things, of course. Your eyes are open. But how many times have you arrived at such a destination with the sudden realization that you really didn’t actually notice or remember a thing? Now, contrast this with a conscious walk in nature, or through a museum, or studying an interesting photo display at a craft fair. In these cases, you’re keenly aware of what you’re seeing. You are intently observing with your mind’s eye what you’re actually seeing with the physical eye. You see the richness of colors, the contrast in shapes, dimensions and depth, the texture of different objects. This is the kind of observing you must have of yourself and surroundings, all the time. But, there’s one important condition. Don’t judge. This will undermine your efforts. I’m not talking about a lack of awareness. You need to be able to fully grasp what is going on so awareness is critical. Judgment on the other hand is way beyond awareness. It’s an attachment to a position and a desire to be right. In this case, you no longer really see the truth. You can easily fool yourself. You’re unaware and learning ceases and it results in more blocks to happiness. Judgment and lack of awareness is what got us into this mess in the first place, and reversing these bad habits will bring us back.
Observation dissolves attachments and when you dissolve your attachments and not looking for identity in things, the built up blocks to happiness also dissolve. You don’t pursue it. You don’t earn it. You don’t get it from others. Happiness is already there. Embrace it. It’s not tied to what anyone else says or does for you and that’s very liberating. Through your growing awareness you uncover the peace and joy inside that is true happiness.
So, it’s not all that complicated after all. Keep it simple, observe yourself and allow happiness to bubble up to the surface.
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The word culture has many different meanings. For some it refers to an appreciation of good literature, music, art, and food. For a biologist, it is likely to be a colony of bacteria or other microorganisms growing in a nutrient medium in a laboratory Petri dish. However, for anthropologists and other behavioral scientists, culture is the full range of learned human behavior patterns. The term was first used in this way by the pioneer English Anthropologist Edward B. Tylor in his book, Primitive Culture, published in 1871. Tylor said that culture is a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. Of course, it is not limited to men. Women possess and create it as well.
You may find it surprising that much of Christianity originated from India. Over the centuries, numerous historians and sages have pointed out that not only has Hinduism had a predominant influence on Christianity, but that many of the Christian rites could be directly borrowed from Hindu Vedic India. French historian Alain Danielou had noticed as early as 1950 that a great number of events which surround the birth of Christ – as it is related in the Gospels – strangely reminded us of Buddha’s and Krishna’s legends. Danielou quotes as examples the structure of the Christian Church, which resembles that of the Buddhist Chaitya; the rigorous asceticism of certain early Christian sects, which reminds one of the asceticism of Jain and Buddhist saints; the veneration of relics, the usage of holy water, which is an Indian practice, and the word "Amen," which comes from the Hindu (Sanskrit) "OM."
Another historian, Belgium’s Konraad Elst, also notes any early Christian saints, such as Hippolytus of Rome, possessed an intimate knowledge of Brahmanism. Elst even quotes the famous Saint Augustine who wrote: "We never cease to look towards India, where many things are proposed to our admiration." Unfortunately, remarks American Indianist David Frawley," from the second century onwards, Christian leaders decided to break away from the Hindu influence and show that Christianity only started with the birth of Christ." Hence, many later saints began branding Brahmins as "heretics," and Saint Gregory set a future trend by publicly destroying the "pagan" idols of the Hindus.
Great Indian sages, such as Sri Aurobindu and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, have often remarked that the stories recounting how Jesus came to India to be initiated are probably true. Jesus sometimes wore an orange robe, the Hindu symbol of renunciation of the world, which was not a usual practice in Judaism. In the same way, the worshiping of Virgin Mary in Catholicism is probably borrowed from the Hindu cult of Devi. Bells too, which cannot be found today in Synagogues, the surviving form of Judaism, are used in church-and we all know their importance in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years, even up to the present day.
There are many other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity, including the use of incense, sacred bread (prasadam), the different altars around churches; which recall the manifold deities in their niches inside Hindu temples, reciting prayers on the rosary (Vedic japamala), the Christian Trinity (the ancient Vedic trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as the creator, maintainer and destroyer respectively, as well as Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord, the all-pervading Brahman as the holy ghost, and Paramatma as the expansion or son of the Lord, Christian processions, and the use of the sign of the cross (anganyasa), and so many others.
In fact, Hinduism’s pervading influence seems to go much earlier than Christianity. American mathematician, A. Seindenberg, has shown that the Shulbasutras, the ancient Vedic science of mathematics, constitute the source of mathematics in the antique world of Babylon to Greece. The arithmetic equations of the Shulbasutras were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians as well as in the edification of Egyptian pyramids, in particular the funeral altar in the form of pyramid known in the Vedic world as smasana-cit.
In astronomy too, the "Indus" from the valley of the Indus have left a universal legacy, determining for instance the dates of solstices, as noted by 18th century French astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly. The movement of stars which was calculated by Hindus 4,500 years ago does not differ even by a minute from the tables which we are using today. The Hindu systems of astronomy are much more ancient than those of the Egyptians-even the Jews derived from the Hindus their knowledge.
There is also no doubt that the Greeks heavily borrowed from the "Indus." Danielou notes that the Greek cult of Dionysus, which later became Bacchus with the Romans, is a branch of Shaivism. Greeks spoke of India as the sacred territory of Dionysus, and even historians of Alexander the Great identified the Indian Shiva with Dionysus and mention the dates and legends of the Puranas. French philosopher and Le Monde journalist Jean-Paul Droit recently wrote in his book, The Forgetfulness of India, that "the Greeks loved so much Indian philosophy that Demetrios Galianos had even translated the Bhagavad-Gita.
Many Western and Christian historians have tried to nullify this India influence on Christians and ancient Greece by saying that it is the West through the Aryan invasion, and later the onslaught of Alexander the Great of India, which influenced Indian astronomy, mathematics, architecture, philosophy and not vice versa. But new archeological and linguistic discoveries have proved that there never was an Aryan invasion and that there is continuity from the ancient Vedic civilization to the Saraswati culture (ancient Saraswati-Ghaggar-Hakra River).
The Vedas, for instance, which constitute the soul of present day Hinduism, have not been composed in 1500 B.C., as Max Muller arbitrarily decided, but may go back to 7000 years before Christ, giving Hinduism plenty of time to influence Christianity and older civilizations which preceded Christianity.
Thus, we can be aware of and point out the close links which exist between Christianity and Hinduism; ancient Vedic culture, which bind them into a sacred brotherhood. Conscientious Christian and Western scholars can realize how the world humanity’s basic culture is Vedic through proper research.
What can be said in New Year rhymes, which have not been said a thousand times? The new years come, the old years go. We know we dream, we dream we know. We rise up laughing with the light; we lie down weeping with the night. We hug the world until it stings, we curse it then and sigh for wings. We live, we love, we woo, we wed, we wreathe our brides, and we sheet our dead. We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear, and that’s the burden of the year.
Beginning of the year is a good time to hitch on to some good habits and best practices. Get wise, keep fit and have the faith! Remember, you have nothing to lose. Be a better person in body, mind and intellect. Attain peace of mind, and enhance your mental stability and equanimity. Kill pride, ego and arrogance and jealousy and don’t ever let jealousy trouble you. Start reading the Scriptures which have all the knowledge you need to make your earthly existence much more meaningful and wise.
Breathing exercise is a stepping step to staying healthy, fit and energetic. Spare a few moments and find out more about Pranayama. Reap the benefits of yoga for physical discipline. Mastering your mind through meditation may work wonders for your health and happiness. If you’re not yet a vegetarian, find out the benefits of being one. Discover the powers of Ayurveda: The ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda is a boon to mankind. Know all about Ayurveda and read the Ayurveda Encyclopedia.
The holy basil or tulsi is an herbal remedy for a lot of common ailments please be acquainted with the healing powers of this holy power plant. Prayers can make you strong! Discover the power of chanting various mantras. Whether you’re a Hindu or not, whether you belong to the East or West, experiencing the best of both worlds can be most meaningful. A place for prayers can change the way you relate to the divine. So can listening to devotional music. Visiting holy places and temples can be a welcome change from your humdrum routine. Remember, wherever you are, you’re not far from the Absolute!
Image Credit: Darrell Hargett
Albert Einstein; the great physicist said, "Time is the fourth Dimension," Vedas say that "Time is the first dimension." In the beginning there was nothing. This concept of "nothing" is beyond the comprehension of ordinary human mind! It is so because before the concept of time there was absolutely nothing which is known as the "Shoonya" or ‘Zero’ or complete silence. Only the yogis who have attained "Nir Vikalpa Samadhi" state can experience this "nothing" and none else can. It is a state beyond time or "timeless state."
Vedas say that from this nothing originated vibration known as the "Pranava" or the sound ‘AUM’. From this sound there emerged five symbolic instruments of creation of universe. These were known as the Five "Tan matras". From the Tan matras came five primordial forces called Space and Time, Atmosphere, Light, Fire, Liquids, and finally the solidification of all. The mixing of these forces resulted in creation of the universes, as we know it now. It is an accepted scientific fact that even the universes are time bound. The theory of relativity; so called because all facts are related to time, speaks of speed in relation to time.
Vedas speak time as the limiting factor for all creation. Every thing is time bound. So the question came as to what is the scale of time? The Vedic seers, who are known as the Rishis, Maha Rishis, Brahma Rishis and Deva Rishis according to their knowledge of time and creation, have equated "Time" in relation to the age of Brahma the agent of creation. His age is 100 years in a special time scale. Note: Brahma is the name of the creative agent which should not be confused with "Brahman" the Timeless primordial force behind all creation.
The Rishis found that as far as the earth and the life in it are concerned the motion around the Sun is enough as a time scale for knowing the changes which would occur with the movement of the earth in relation to the Sun. They also found other celestial bodies like the Moon, Mars, Mercury; Jupiter, Venus and Saturn cast their influence on the earth. The seers also advised that every action must produce a reaction which comes back to the source of its origin in due cycle of time. The word "Karma" means action. Newton’s third law of motion is based on this concept.
The Planets were found to be the best guides as to the type of forthcoming reaction good or bad in the moving time scale. Thus was born the science of Vedic astrology, which is known as "Jyotisha" or ‘illuminator’ in Sanskrit. Vedas are knowledge taught by teacher to disciple through the medium of sound. They cannot be learnt by reading or memorizing. An ordinary example can be cited to illustrate the point. Ordinary "Yes" means I accept. "Yes? Also means what do you want? ‘Yyeess’ means I have my doubts, ‘Yus’ mean’s reluctant acceptance, Yes sir means please tell me and so on.
Astrology is a part of Veda hence it is known as Vedanga (anga means limb). We call it Vedic astrology because it is based on time schedules stipulated in Vedas according to yogic meditational observations of the planets in motion around the sun in relation to the earth and its motions.