“I have decided to stick with love…
Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The sign of a great man…
“I have decided to stick with love…
Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The sign of a great man…
Over these past few years, I have wondered if the things I teach can even be taught. We all share many facts of life, but how we string them together to form a mosaic or world view of life is individual and personal, although colored and even directed by the winds of social time and place, dictating to so many their personal beliefs and convictions.
I, like so many, am fond of the Socrates quote, “The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing. For years, I felt that the message of those words was self-evident, requiring no explanation or commentary. But what one feels, knows, and wants to believe are generally, and certainly in this case, three different things.
I, like so many, feel the truth in Socrates’ words. There is a depth of wisdom and profundity to it that rings true to the very depth of my being. It feels to free my soul from the confines and constrictions of social, political, and philosophical bounds. It feels to release me from indoctrination, limitation, and narrow vision.
It is such a relief to see the emperors of convention revealed as ultimately hollow and baseless. Deep inside, in a place where words and convictions cannot touch, we all sense, feel, and love the abstraction of Truth: the only true knowing lies beyond the convictions of perspective.
I, like so many, question what convention dictates as ‘knowledge.’ Yet, convention takes that Socrates quote and files it away in the shoe box of “I get it”, tucked neatly away upon the back shelf in the closet of what so many call ‘truth and knowledge’. We must remember that innovation, progress, and discovery always come as a surprise—a contradiction of what we previously knew to be the way things were. Knowledge is fluid; not a solid, rigid structure. The only true knowing is ‘no thing.’ Yet, we cling to things as what we know.
I, like so many, want to believe that, at least to some degree, my objective and subjective world views, spiritual convictions, and ‘educated’ perspectives are my gateway to Truth. However, it is seeing past those things which leads us in the direction of ‘true knowing.’
After years of teaching, I have come to realize that often Socrates’ quote is only understood as some theoretical abstraction or spiritual understanding of Ishwara—the transcendental reality or essence of all that is. The here and now applicability of that quote eludes most of us, if not conceptually, then certainly when it comes to living our daily lives. In life, all too often we swing from one branch of the tree of conviction to the next. We string the series of convictions together to weave that web, that mosaic, of a world view, forming a world of feelings, knowings, and beliefs that define us. And, we find solace and security in being so defined. That then is called “knowledge”.
Years ago, a student walked away from my discussion of this, vowing to repeatedly tell themselves, “I know nothing. I know nothing.” Essentially, striving to convert knowing nothing into a knowing. It just does not work that way. Yet, the habit of clinging to one branch of conviction to the next seems unavoidable.
Another time, a student put up her hand in class and said, “I know I love my children.” I smiled and, turning my back to face the chalkboard, said, “I am not going to touch that one,” as the classroom chuckled. Then I said, “But I do have some questions: Who are you? Are you the personality that loves and identifies with your children? Or are you the transcendental truth beyond the personality? And do you love them because it feels good to you? And if so, is there a selfish component to the love? Now, I certainly do not say this to undermine what you say. My motivation is only to point out that true knowing is not a thing. It transcends anything and everything. It is, as Socrates said, no-thing.” Everyone smiled and class continued.
Now I understand that this could make someone feel ill at ease, but it highlights an important point. Living from the place of knowing no-thing is very different from conceptualizing no-thing and concluding we have tapped the quote for all it is worth. True knowing is a state of being, of physiology, not philosophy. When it comes to living our lives, deep spiritual understandings go only as deeply as we are. Our level of evolution, our level of consciousness, dictates that. Not our feelings, ‘knowings,’ or beliefs.
On some level, I have found it disheartening to see how ineffective my words have been over the past decades of teaching. On the other hand, I am well aware of the progress so many of my students have made. I understand that when life is most challenging, the teachings are most readily abandoned in the name of those convictions that have woven the web or mosaic of who we are and what we know.
After all, evolution is not an on-off switch. It is a process, like the waves of the ocean upon the shore, slowly, over time, wearing away the rough edges of the pebble, until, in time, the pebble is smooth and rounded—like the smooth and rounded surface of a Shiva linga, radiating pure Consciousness… the only true knowing.
This poet’s struggle with knowing and not knowing on the level of daily life may provide some more perspective here…
Fire and rain. Yang and Yin. The Sun and the Moon. Agni and Soma. The world needs these two poles to spin around. This is a universal principle that applies to all levels of life and existence. The moment the universe manifested, Oneness (Is-ness, pure Consciousness) birthed this duality, called relativity.
Yet everything cycles. Night turns into day. What goes up, must come down. Yin births yang, and the cycles of life go on and on.
These days, there is far too much fire, too much Agni in our world. People hate. Wars rage. Tempers are quick to judge. Self-righteousness divides the people into an ‘us and them’, right and wrong mentality. We all do well to observe how these principles emerge not only in others, but more importantly, within ourselves. This is the age of Kali Yuga, when Rakshasas dwell within the hearts and minds of the people.
The Veda is eternal at every point in creation. All verses go on simultaneously, eternally, and everywhere. One facet of that diamond of omnipresent Is-ness tells of Shiva and Vishnu in conflict. Mother Nature (Shantadurga) takes each of them by the hand and brings peace between them, peace to the universe.
Today, there is a need to bring our world back into balance. More Soma is needed for peace and harmony to reign. Soma must always be maintained as the fires of Agni eternally burn. Mount Soma was born in dedication to this eternal need, so acutely felt in our time. Soma is the nectar for the Gods: “Flow Soma in a most sweet and exhilarating stream for Indra to drink.”
Yet it is said that as the universe comes back into balance, disharmony becomes enlivened. When the red hot sword is plunged into the cool water, the caldron spits and hisses its fiery storm. Yet, the sword is tempered and stabilized.
We see this mechanic today in our world. The climate of human mentalities seems more polarized than ever. People hate, judge, take sides, dig in their heels and fight. Yet there is a deep mechanic here, as the sword of Agni is being plunged into the cooling waters of Soma.
So as we see and experience the raging conflicts of our time, take comfort in the understanding of this underlying mechanic and keep a steady hand on the rudder of your life. We will get through this. Those dedicated to the process are the front line angels of our time. The principles are there, in the Vedic literature, as they are in the laws of physics. Knowledge of the light of life, of the nature of life, illuminates the way.
I received this quote in an email and thought to share it with everyone:
“Acquire Knowledge. It enables its possessor to distinguish right from wrong, it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless, it guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery.”
~ saying of The Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace.
The difference between our modern level of wealth versus primitive humanity is not based upon money, gold, or treasure. It is based upon knowledge. Money is not true wealth. Knowledge is wealth.
I was originally just sending the following to a friend, but now feel like it is a nice blog also.
To be completely honest, I was not all that impressed with this poem… until I read the last line. I learned from it. I believe it will make me a better writer. So much said in just one line…
When my daughter was just a little girl, I asked her if she knew what I taught in my classes. She responded, “How to be nice and not be mean.” That was so sweet, and in a very profound sense, so right.
What’s on the inside shows up on the outside. If deep inside we are peaceful and wise, then on the outside that ‘goodness’ shines through. If on the inside, we hold anger, resentment, etc., then that is what emerges on the surface.
Decades ago, it was just considered good manners to express one’s self politely and with dignity. These days, it seems vogue to do the opposite. Some say social media is partially responsible. Accusers no longer face the accused. Social media keeps people at a distance, free to lash out and vent at will.
Some say the drug and hippie wave from the 60s and 70s inspired people to act poorly, letting whatever was inside to be openly expressed. Manners and decorum were rejected. Indignant behavior was considered being true to one’s self. I say that is not being true to oneself. That is being true to one’s issues, inner demons, and inner distortions born of unresolved emotional wounds. Negativity, judgement, anger, and rage are the result of tired darkness within the human soul. We can learn how to express ourselves, but do so constructively with dignity, honor, and respect.
In this regard, being ‘nice’ means having a healthy soul unencumbered by inner emotional wounds. As the soul heals, we spontaneously express ourselves in a positive, not negative, manner. We behave constructively, not destructively. Character assassination of those we judge gives way to wise and reflective speech and behavior. We learn “how to be nice and not be mean”.
To do this properly lies far beyond the realm of suppression of our impulses. Rather it is a matter of purification of our hearts, of our souls, of our minds. That is called by various names: human evolution, psychological health, spiritual growth, etc.
Certainly, there are times when anger may be an appropriate response. But in this world, there is far too much of it rooted, not in wisdom, but in unresolved emotional issues. Certainly, it is normal and natural to have moments of anger. However, there is a problem when life-damaging bias and negativity do not soon quiesce into helpful, positive, useful, kind wisdom, communion, and understanding—what my daughter called: “how to be nice and not be mean”.
Feeling and even expressing anger is natural at times. However, if it is used to verbally attack, offend, ridicule, gossip, degrade, or condemn another, then it has crossed the line into simply being mean. To be nice is not to suppress one’s self, but rather to constructively articulate and express oneself with supportive and loving kindness, sincerity, wisdom, and understanding. Which is to say, to be in a state of oneness with all that is—in other words, the highest meaning of the word “love”—what my daughter called: “be nice and not be mean”.
Expressed in the words of an innocent young child, “how to be nice and not be mean” is the ultimate accomplishment of human evolution.
Facts matter little. It is your relationship with those facts that makes all the difference. If you doubt that, just watch the evening news… everything from the extreme left to the extreme right, even split decisions in our Supreme Court. One may wonder why, if the court is truly supreme, the justices usually disagree. Now it is easy enough to come to conclusions about that, but just generalize this principle and then take a look at how we humans function.
Back when I was a kitchen director in the ashram, I had a standard rule: No quotes of the Master allowed in the kitchen! Why? Because people would take an isolated quote to justify their perspective on just about everything: how to prep veggies, how to behave in the kitchen, what to eat, etc., etc. So one might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” The answer: For every quote, there is an equally valid, yet contradictory quote. That is why the field of relativity is called “relativity.” It is all relative. And relative to what? Relative to your relationship with the facts.
Facts are like dots on a page. Connect the dots one way, and you get one perspective. Connect the dots another way, and you get another perspective. Like dots on a page, connect them one way and you see the face of Buddha. Connect them another way, and you see Attila the Hun.
So how do people usually connect the dots? It is generally based more on their conditioning; psychological makeup; biases; life experiences; indoctrination; provincial, social, and subcultural orientation; rather than their wisdom. This even permeates the field of spirituality. People may read and memorize the same scripture, but they connect the dots all different ways. Sadly, if a person has memorized enough spiritual facts or quotes, they may conclude they are a spiritual scholar, Master, Guru, etc. They may then conclude that they have wisdom! But that is not wisdom.
So how do we cultivate wisdom? Certainly, learning what facts and principles we can helps. But what it really amounts to is what lies deeper than the facts and principles. It is about cultivation of the depth, the fiber, the fabric of our being. That is what evolution is all about. That is what proper meditation cultivates. There are deeply spiritual people that know few spiritual facts, yet are wise and therefore truly spiritual. There are those who know many, many spiritual facts, yet are not really very wise or spiritual.
When everything is going well and everyone likes everyone else, it is easy to be ‘spiritual.’ We find out just how spiritual a person really is when things get difficult. How we connect the dots is the best indicator of how spiritual we truly are. Yet we judge how spiritual another is by the barometer of our own level of understanding, our own level of spirituality. Basically, how we, ourselves, connect the dots. We then project our world view upon others. When wisdom is most needed, it is most often abandoned, as people revert to their conditioned responses, their conditioned ways of connecting the dots.
So the wheel of life spins ’round and ’round. As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” That is to say, you know that which lies deeper than ‘things,’ deeper than facts. After all, the Transcendent, Ishwara, lies deeper than the dots. It is being established in that deeper place that enables one to wisely connect dots.
Consciousness equals ‘Is-ness.’ There is only one Consciousness. It is called pure being, the unified field, Ishwara, etc. Every person, every being, is rooted in that Consciousness uniquely, which births individuality—Jiva.
That one Consciousness is eternal. On the deepest level of our individuality, we too are eternal. That is what eternal life means. On that very deep level… everything is one—unified. On the surface, everything is perceived as separate… the field of relativity—the field of Karma. When the surface overwhelms the depth, it is called ignorance—ignore-ance: ignoring life’s fundamental nature by being so overwhelmed by the surface, by Karma.
Just as every drop of rain gravitates back to the ocean of oneness, the natural tendancy for every individual is to gravitate back to oneness, away from ignorance and back to one’s own true nature. That tendancy is the fundamental force of the universe. It is experienced as the most profound quality of love.
When one no longer ignores, but rather is awake to the depth, one lives in a state of eternal oneness—eternal love. Such individuals live ‘in the world’, but are no longer ‘of it’. This is not an attitude, religion, or philosophy. It is the normal, natural, state of physiology—the result of evolution, gravitation back to one’s own true nature.
Of all that was said and done after the passing of President Bush, what had the most impact upon me was his son telling us that his dad is now in Heaven holding the hand of his wife and hugging his daughter Robin, who passed years ago. Karma separates us from the ones we love in so many ways. But Karma, though so often overwhelming in life, is, in the final analysis, superficial. Love resides deeper than Karma.
It is only the unfortunate who cling to the Karma of life. For most, at least upon passing, such superficiality drops away. The traumas, toils, conflicts, and hardships drop away. We might say they melt away. What moves to the forefront is the love we have within us. There we commune with all we love. That place within us all is called Heaven.
We love so many. We love our family, those living, and those who have passed. We love our friends and those with whom we have shared a common cause, a common community, a common stream of life. For Karmic reasons, we can, in life, find ourselves estranged from those we love. It may be due to loss of life, distance, time, misunderstanding, conflict, or circumstance. But even if, during the toil and haste of life, we are unable to recognize it, what remains after the body and story drop away, is that which underlies it all. And there, in Heaven, we all reunite through that enduring fiber of love.
Many of our universal principles can be succinctly represented in one sentence or phrase, e.g. “Steady hand on the rudder”, “Forward, forward, always forward”, “Positive, positive always positive”, “Being, merging, knowing and doing”, “Dare to be great”, etc. I have so much respect for great writers. So much can be said with so few well written words. Stephen Covey beautifully expresses so many universal principles with the following quotes. Enjoy!