There are laws of nature inherent to our world. Different animal species have their natural behaviors. Plants, the movement of planets, the changing of season—all things have their nature. We humans are part of nature. We have our nature. Living life in accord with our nature is what it means to live in harmony with natural law. The idea is that we have certain inalienable rights determined by nature, by natural law. It is considered the responsibility of government to uphold those rights, as is referred to in our Declaration of Independence.
However, there is an opposing philosophy. The idea is that we humans can, and must, overcome our nature. We can think and use our intellect to thereby know better than what our own nature dictates. Katharine Hepburn said to Humphrey Bogart in the movie, The African Queen, something like, “Your nature, sir, is what you are on this earth to overcome.” Sadly, it is considered then, the responsibility of government to overcome our nature, determine what human behavior should be, and to enforce that behavior.
I believe that in a stressed out, unhealthy world, people confuse their nature with their distorted perspectives. When the stresses and strains in the psychophysiology are released, people behave in harmony with their true nature spontaneously. The intellect and government would thereby naturally and spontaneously support living in harmony with nature. Yet, we must keep in mind that we can justify anything with the intellect and do. Until the hearts and minds of the people are free from stress and strain, our beliefs are not consistent with our true nature. At this time, what we feel and think is our nature is really just stress and strain dictating what we believe.
It is not hard to see that we live in a time when judgement, anger, and polarization seem to be in our nature. Peace and harmony is a shared ideal, but it is not what rules. Our world, our nations, our communities, and our associations are plagued with such distortions. We view others through the colored glasses we look through to see the world. That is what we believe. Thus, that is what we create.
I, for one, dedicate my life to creating a world where we live in peace and harmony with nature… our true nature… Mother Nature. In spite of judgement, suspicion, and blame, may we all come together to bring forth such a world for all humanity. It is achievable, but we must look beyond the horizon… beyond the toil and turbulence that dominates so many. Yes, the path to a better world can be painful and challenging. Yet, if we keep a steady hand on the rudder, it is attainable.
Life could be so simple… just keep your balance. Yet, from time to time, we all lose our emotional balance. The real problem is that when people lose their emotional balance, they do not think they have lost their balance. They think they are right, and live by the code that dictates. Only deeper inside, where few are able or willing to go, do they know the truth of it.
Upon occasion, when the wise lose their balance, they strive to regain it as quickly and honorably as possible. A balanced apology or simple acknowledgement makes a monumental difference.
When a strong wind blows, even the mightiest of tree branches bend, but the tree does not crumble. Upon losing balance, there is no need for a gushing, self-deprecating apology… an honest, heartfelt acknowledgement or balanced apology counts for more… and the sooner, the better. Thereby, when one loses balance, they do not lose respect, but gain it.
These days, in my short early morning drive from home to the temple, there are lots of rabbits all along the road. They so clearly reflect my feelings to me. When I am calm and peaceful, they remain still, as I drive right by them, not even moving off the road. If I am in a hurry, they scurry off into the bushes when they sense my distant car approaching. With great accuracy, they spontaneously feel me through my driving.
Last night, I was chatting with a person from the ashram. We were trying to articulate feelings and mindsets. No words seemed to work just right. What seemed to sort of work for one of us just felt blatantly incorrect to the other. There was a huge gap between the feelings we felt, and the words we used to try to articulate those feelings. The more words, the bigger it seemed the gap became. Yet I could tell that we were both feeling the same thing. Assigning words to the feelings only undermined our communication.
We humans rely heavily on words. Animals are not burdened with words. Maybe that is why so many people love their pets. With pets, we stay with feelings unencumbered, unfettered, uncompromised, undistorted by words.
When someone says something, we tend to hold on to how their words affected us. That is rarely completely consistent with the feeling, the motivation, behind those words. The words, then, take on more significance than the feeling they were intended to convey. When we reflect on the interaction, we reflect on the words that were said, that clouded the communication, not the feeling behind them.
Words are most often defining, limiting, and misleading. Feelings are pure, honest, and genuine. We do well to give lots of space around words that we share. We do best to feel what is behind those words. Sincerity lies in the feelings that lie deeper than the meaning of the words we use. Words, at best, point in a general direction.
When we try to communicate with another, we do well to pay more attention to the underlying feelings than the meaning we assign to their words.
Duality breeds duality. Or, as the ancient Chinese put it, “yin creates yang.” Duality is the mentality of humanity. It permeates all our thinking. Our politics are all about which perspective is good and which is bad. Our legal system is all about who is right and who is wrong. Humanity even took the concept of Oneness in God to the dualistic perspective of God and devil—good and evil. For goodness sake, even our computers are based upon the binary system, the x’s and o’s of ‘yes’ and ’no.’
We all say we want peace. We all want love and harmony. But the very foundation of how we have been trained to think propagates separation, the polarization called duality. Along the lines of what Victor Davis Hanson said, we instinctively define people, countries, etc. not in terms of their majority of positive traits, but rather in terms of whatever shortcomings may exist in their history. If anybody or anything has to be perfect in order to be good, or if a country’s history has to be perfect for the country to be good, then nothing, nobody, and no country is good.
Yet, the dualistic mentality is not so easy to get past. Even what has been said here sets up the polarization of duality versus unity. This world is the world of duality (relativity). However, the root, the essence, the foundation is unity. Not just theologians, but also modern physicists tell us that. Unity can be experienced from deep within our being; not as a concept or emotional longing for love and light, but as a physiological reality.
For thousands of years, it has been called “enlightenment.” However, the dualistic hype around the word has rendered it more meaningless than meaningful, more misleading that enlightening. Suffice it to say that unity at the very depth of our being is not so easily lived day to day, moment to moment. Being in the world of duality but not of it is not understood or even perceived from the perspective of duality.
Our holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and those of religion in general) are meant to enliven our sense of unity. Every Sunday, in fact, is about Sun-day—the Sun being the One, central, unifying core that the world of duality revolves around.
Family, community, patriotism, team spirit, etc. are all principles that revive the unification, the glue thatupholds, feeds, harmonizes and strengthens all of life. Without unity, there is no peace and no love. After all, it is our sense of oneness with another that is called “love.”
The 4th of July is meant to feed the harmonizing unity of patriotism. Have a happy and harmonizing holiday everyone!
Relative existence is born of and constructed in perspective. For each soul, each Atman, there is a unique perspective: a unique relationship with all that is.
Life can be viewed as the pursuit of Truth. The Cosmic Joke can be then stated as: There is no Truth in the relative. The relative is the field of imperfection.
Yet, reaching for the perspective that is Truth is the way of the world. Clinging to one’s current perspective as truth is the theme that attempts to navigate the waters of life.
To understand is to see beyond the field of perspectives. To understand is to transcend relativity. Live in the world with perspectives, but not be of it… not be lost to it—not be lost to perspective, not even your own. That is the path of Wisdom. Your true Self is the Transcendental depth of your being, freed from perspective.
It is a huge step forward when you can take a step back and view the relationship between your thoughts and emotions. Unlike computers, we are emotionally based. Of course, we do have the ability to think rationally. That, in and of itself, birthed the industrial age with all the technology we have grown to be so dependent upon.
However, what underlies our behavior is more emotion that rational thought. What we think matters little. How we feel about those thoughts makes all the difference. And what determines how we feel has more to do with our inner psychological landscape than anything else. Psychologists tell us that we can track those feelings back to the first five years of our life. It is during those years that the tonal quality of our psyche is developed. There are plenty of common one-line phrases regarding this, such as, “People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest” (from “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel).
As a teacher, I have to believe I can help people with their relationship with their thoughts and emotions. I really want to believe that we can together take a step back and look and how we behave and why. I have to believe that in so doing, we can heal our wounds, distortions, and biases. And, I still do believe there is truth in that. However, our psychological dynamic is rooted deeply in the physiology of the mind. Working with that can be likened to massaging a muscle. It can relax and get better. But under the stress of daily life, it returns to its habitual state. It takes time and regular massage to keep it healthy.
So many times, people have heard my teachings and sworn they would never forget them. But it is not so simple. Like a massaged muscle, the old distortions quickly return. Yet, over time, if we stay with it, things do heal.
Of course, the greatest tool of all to help calm, settle, relax, and heal the psyche is the Surya Ram Meditation. The technique is known in various circles, but various Mantras are used with various results. The Surya Ram Meditation employs the knowledge of Mantra held by our Vedic Pandits for thousands of years as healing, natural, and evolutionary. Deep inside, deeper than any distortions of the psyche, we are all eternally healthy. Our path of evolution is simply to rest into that—to heal.
Most every photograph I take is from my same bedroom window. How the view touches my heart in the moment determines the time to capture the scene.
Weather, like life, covers a full spectrum of possibilities. Sometimes the sun shines brightly over the beautiful landscape. Sometimes the stormy winds blow.
After each photo is taken, it never seems to adequately convey the personal experience with the feel of the weather against my skin, the scent in the air, the flow of the clouds and the motion of the wind. Yet months later, each photo acts as a portal that carries me through space and time to an appreciation of the moment somehow more poignant than the moment itself.
Perhaps it is all in the context of the greater whole. Perhaps it is when we take a step back to reflect upon the numerous scenes and episodes of life that our experiences gain their deepest meaning.
Everyone, it seems, loves wise quotes. When we hear wisdom, it touches a place deep within us that is one with the Divine, that is eternally wise. Though that inner wisdom calls to us, so few are able to live wisely. People are behaving foolishly and lashing out everywhere. Let’s consider why this is so.
Though deep inside we are eternally one with the Divine, there are many psychological, intellectual, and emotional distortions on the more superficial levels of our being. When we are calm, settled, and reflective, those more superficial levels are still. So, at those times, the wisdom within shines forth and permeates all levels of our lives. At those times, wise quotes resonate with our depth and well up through our being. To experience this is to experience Bliss, Divinity.
However, when in life we are disturbed, that deeper wisdom level of life is overshadowed. At those times, when we need wisdom most, we are unable to embrace it. We act instead from the superficial distortions. Sadly then, all too often, it is the superficial distortions that determine the course we follow as we navigate the waters of life.
This can be likened to the ocean. In the depth of the ocean, everything is still, quiet, and serene. Nothing is agitated. Yet on the surface of the ocean, storms rage. As we navigate those waters, we take on water, tip, churn, and perhaps even crash upon the rocks off-shore. Yet, when we are anchored to the depth, we weather the storms.
As we meditate, we become more and more fully anchored to the depth, the wisdom within us. Through proper meditation, the spiritual, mental, emotional, energetic, and physical levels of life are purified, as the distortions are healed. We more and more live in harmony with the Divinity and wisdom that eternally dwells at the depth of our being.
But do take note: Living in harmony with the Divine does not look the way we may think it should look! People identify with their distortions, mistake them for the Truth, and thereby judge the wise as unwise or worse. History tells us that quite clearly. After all, they crucified Jesus. Some hated Lord Krishna (by which it is said some attained liberation because all they thought about was the Lord!). But I digress.
Contemplation, inner reflection, is also a valuable tool along the path to living wisely. That has a purifying value. However, it is a highly elusive path. You can justify anything with the intellect, and people do. Often, our reflections can simply be justifications of poor behavior: rationalizations. Few are willing to contemplate their behavior, other than to seek a way to justify it. So, we do well to be humble in our reflections. Humility is the flip side of wisdom. With the loss of humility comes the loss of wisdom.
When the waters on the ocean of life are undisturbed, people generally behave quite honorably, quite wisely. But only the truly wise behave honorably when the daily disturbances of life arise. So, we do well to pick our friends based upon how they behave in troubled times, not how they behave when everything is calm and serene. But, after all, we are all human. As illustrated in the Ramayana, even the wise may behave improperly from time to it. Yet, it is the wise who are able to acknowledge their imperfect behavior to themselves and to others. Only the wise can acknowledge, regain their balance, and move forward wisely. We will all act out from time to time. How we deal with that makes all the difference.
So, please do more than relish wise quotes in your quiet moments. Look beyond the mountains of judgement and negativity that consume you and your world. Look beyond that mountainous horizon to the light of the Sun, to the Divine. Meditate. Reflect and ponder. Strive to live a life of wisdom.
You can afford to believe in yourself. I mean really, really believe in who you are, deep inside. And, you can learn to come from that place within you. All too often people do not do that. There is an underlying doubt that undermines people’s confidence in themselves.
If the underlying doubt is there, it will manifest and compromise your life in every arena. Life will reflect that doubt back to you as a confirmation, a validation, that such doubt is the truth. Of course, we all have doubts. The trick is to not allow it to overcome the deeper reality, which is that you can believe in yourself. Sure, you will make mistakes. Sure, you will have failures. But those things do not say who you are. Who and what your are is much deeper and more exquisite. It is only when you give in to the doubt that you compromise your life. Believing in, and coming from, that deeper place of inner knowing, that deep inside you are more than just okay, more than just good, is a key to life. Mistakes and failures do not determine who you are. Do not lose yourself to the doubts those things try to tell you about who you are. That deeper place inside is who you are. Stay loyal to it. Believe in it. Maintain your allegiance to it.
I am not speaking of denial here. Lack of self-confidence is often shrouded under the cloak of arrogance and ego. That is just denial. People do not want to admit to their lack of self-confidence, and put on a facade of arrogance. They pretend to be smart, tough, wise, or powerful in an attempt to convince not only others, but also themselves.
Confidence has no need for that sort of denial. Confidence in one’s self has no fear of weakness, foolish mistakes, etc. Confidence knows full well that those things are superficial and can be surmounted by coming from a deeper place inside. Now, for some practical examples:
Some overweight people feel that they can simply not lose weight. Some people feel they can simply not gain muscle. Some people feel they cannot succeed in school or in business. They convince themselves that there is something wrong with their physiology or psyche… or perhaps resign to the idea that it is just ‘their Karma’. More often than not, the problem is lack of confidence. With confidence, we find a way. We do not accept that we are failures. We just realize that we may have failed at something, but it does not define us. We find a way. It is self-confidence that leads. Believe in yourself. Again, that is not denial in the form of arrogance. It is, in fact, a humble commitment to finding a way that is true to and consistent with the Divinity within. That lies far deeper than petty ego. It is not faith either. It is an inner knowing of the nature of life, your life, and all life. Deep inside we are all Divine. Stay loyal to that goodness within. You rest into that place when you do the Surya Ram Meditation. As you awaken to it, you live it more and more.
This does not mean that anyone can succeed at anything. True self-confidence is not that limited. True self-confidence knows that you do not need to succeed at everything to be great. True self-confidence keeps on going until one finds their greatness, and lives it.
To find your greatness, overcome arrogance, overcome petty ego, know that greatness is who you really are, and remain committed to that. It is an exquisite reality of existence that everyone, in their essence, is great, Divine. Regardless of what may occur in life, regardless of what may be reflected back to you through life experiences, stay loyal to that greatness, to that Divinity within. That, in and of itself, is the key to greatness.
I was recently chatting with someone about a situation they found themselves in, when they said they were committed to “not attaching negative stories to it all.” I was instantly impressed with that phrase. For me, the implications were vast regarding the human mentality: how we think and function.
Everything in relationships tends to be about the story we attach to it. This applies to our personal relationships as well as how we view relationships between others. It all becomes about the story we assign to the relationship. That is simply how we think. Even television shows and movies are all framed in terms of the story we create around the happenings. The story creates white knights and villains, good guys and bad guys, the noble and the evil, the victims and the perpetrators. Conflicts, disagreements, and judgements arise, not so much as a result of the occurrence of events, but rather due to the stories attached to those events. Even our legal system is more about the story we can paint the events with, rather than the events themselves. Opposing sides paint the events with contradicting stories. Individuals then cling to, and impose upon others, the story, the bias, of their choosing.
Imagine a world where events were not framed in stories. Opposing viewpoints were not etched in the stone of opposing stories. People were not defined in terms of a story. Stories tend to assign black and white absolutes to the shades, hues, and perspectives that life is composed of. Imagine a mentality that is free from the imposition of the confining, defining, and crucifying limitations of a story. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is good? Who is bad? Opposing groups each cling to the story they lose themselves to. Remarkably, that is the way people function. It is the way this world compels people to function.
To understand one another is to see beyond the stories. For there to be peace in this world, good versus bad must be replaced with love and understanding. Needless to say there are extreme cases that can be considered black and white. However, in the case of our lives, such things are very rare, if they occur at all. Yet we tend to frame things in a story that assign black and white to our ongoing interactions. We then try to convince others to believe our story. Alliances are thusly created. An ‘us against them’ world becomes the global consciousness we immerse ourselves in. Animals attack one another and fight to the death. Chickens select the weakest in the pen and peck it to death. We humans must learn to see and live beyond that.
Imagine a world free from such narrow vision. I have said this in so many ways throughout the years:
Simultaneous, yet contradictory realities
The only true knowing is knowing you know nothing
To understand is to stand under, not to over-stand
The flip side of wisdom is humility
Freedom from identity with perspective
This means freedom from the stories we attach to our lives, to others, to everything. “Not attaching negative stories to it all” means emancipation, freedom, and peace. Peace and wisdom is something that happens within us as we see beyond the stories.