Sunday, October 31, 2010

From ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’ by Dr. Brian Weiss

THE BUDDHISTS HAVE AN EXPRESSION: “Don’t push the river. It will travel at it’s own speed anyway.”

“I’m an only child. They [the parents] didn’t have time to neglect more than one.”

……progression into the future can help us decide which path to take …………… In my group progressions ………. I try to take the attendees to tree stops on the journey to the future: one hundred years, five hundred years, and one thousand years from now ………

What have we found?

• In one hundred years or eve two hundred years the world will be pretty much the same as it is now. There have been natural and man-made calamities, tragedies, and disasters, but not on a global level. There are more toxins, more crowding, more pollution ………….

• After this period – it could be as near as three hundred years or as far away as six hundred – there will begin a second Dark Ages ………we see a vastly diminished population ……….

Some of us won’t reincarnate in that time. Our consciousness may have changed enough so that we’ll be watching from another place, from another dimension ………. some of us may reincarnate in other dimensions or worlds ……….

• And then the idyllic, fertile, peaceful land ……….. we will get to a place on this world so like the other side that bridging them will be easy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From ‘India in Mind’ Edited by Pankaj Mishra

It is better to go to the villages of a strange land before trying to understand its towns, above all in a complex place like India. Now, after travelling some eight thousand miles around the country, I know approximately as little as I did on my first arrival. However, I’ve seen a lot of people and places, and at least I have a somewhat more detailed and precise idea of my ignorance than I did in the beginning.

The two religious systems are antipodal. Fortunately the constant association with the mild and tolerant Hindus has made the Moslems of India far more understanding and tractable than their brothers in Islamic countries further west; there is much less actual friction than one might be led to expect

A professor from Ranikhet in north India……….Among the many questions I put to him was one concerning the reason why so many of the Hindu temples in south India prohibit entry to non-Hindus, and why they have military guards at the entrances. I imagined I knew the answer in advance: fear of Moslem disturbances. Not at all, he said. The principal purpose was to keep out certain Christian missionaries. I expressed disbelief.

“Of course,” he insisted. “They come and jeer during our rituals, ridicule our sacred images.”

“But even if they were stupid enough to want to do such things,” I objected, “their sense of decorum would keep them from behaving like that.”

He merely laughed. “Obviously you don’t know them.”

- Paul Bowles

This is invariably the case in the East; a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes.

- George Orwell

He was covered with the usual white rages: while around him, along that street on the periphery (if periphery and center have any meaning for Indian cities), the usual lugubrious misery, the usual shops little more than boxes, the usual little homes in ruins, the usual high stench which smothers breathing. That smell of poor food and of corpses which in India is like a continuous powerful air current that gives one a kind of fever. And that odor which, little by little, becomes an almost living physical entity, seems to interrupt the normal course of life in the body of the Indians. Its breath, attacking those little bodies covered in their light and filthy linen, seems to corrode them, forcing itself to sprout, to reach a human embodiment………..Every Indian is a beggar: even he who does not do it for a profession, if the occasion presents itself will not flinch from trying to extend his hand.

Whatever the Indian middle class is I have seen it above all in Africa, in Kenya, where there are some tens of thousands of Indians (brought there by the English to construct the railroad when the Africans were still unusable), who have become the lower middle class of the place. They have become completely washed-out. Unsympathetic to the Africans, they cultivate this family gentility around the shop which gives them the ease or even a little wealth to do so: while underneath lingers the pain of not yet being Europeans

………with turbans wound round the most beautiful hair, black and wavy, in the world ……….

Now, all the Indians are minute, thin, with the little bodies of children: they are wonderful until twenty years old, gracious and full of pathos afterwards

- Pier Paolo Passolini (1961)

Friday, October 15, 2010

From ‘A Yankee and the Swamis. A Westerner's view of the Ramakrishna Order’ by John Yale (Swami Vidyatmananda)

Anybody brought up to the reassurance of trousers at first feels exposed, undressed in a dhoti. The material is light in weight, and the garment is open to updrafts and likely to fly apart past the knee with each step. But I found a great joy in wearing ‘the cloth’. I admire its simplicity and cleanliness. One washes his clothes every day, just as he bathes every day. Being merely a long piece of yardage, the dhoti can be easily dried in the sun. It dries without a wrinkle, as though ironed. If you want it to look especially nice you may fold it precisely and place it beneath your mattress for further pressing. Putting on your dhoti each day is like wrapping yourself up in fresh air and sunlight.

I do not believe Indians go on pilgrimages with the idea of doing penance. The notions of sin and atonement do not seem to be motives in Hinduism……….I think, the main reason is different…..a reason that one cannot grasp unless he has a conception of the Hindu science of ‘vibrations’………..Different minds have different powers of projection and reception, depending on their relative quality of concentration. Mental atmosphere is thus believed to be transferable from mind to mind. The condition of another will affect me when I am in his presence and my state will affect him. These subtle vibrations are also thought to permeate and remain in gross material objects. You leave a trace of yourself in everything you have had contact with: a piece of work you have done; some article of clothing you have worn; the remainder of food on your plate………One needs to grasp this Hindu science of subtle vibrations if he would hope to understand much of Indian social practice. For example, the unfamiliar notions of darshan and prasad become logical on the basis of this idea……. ‘Darshan in practice is a form of happiness induced among Hindus by being in the presence of some great manifestation of their collective consciousness. It may be a person, place or thing, and may represent past, present or future, so long as it sets up the definite recognizable glow of suprapersonal happiness.’ This is needlessly complex. All we need to say is that darshan is getting good vibrations by being in the presence of them…………….taking Prasad is the same thing carried a step further…..Prasad is an actual relic of someone, which one accommodates to himself, with the object thus of absorbing its vibrations…….Food is considered especially conductive of vibrations. Enjoying food left by an impure person or prepared by a cook whose mind is unclean can affect one adversely, while eating the remainder of food touched by a holy man is believed to be very helpful

Thus, when an Indian goes on a pilgrimage, what he is really trying to do usually is to gather up holy vibrations…….The object of veneration in a temple is believed to be charged with good vibrations. Holy men who have worshipped it have left a residue of holiness……..A sacred place accumulates good vibrations.

……….In the Bhagavad-Gita there is the promise: ‘Howsoever you conceive of Me, if you really desire Me, I will come to you in accordance with your conception.’ Once designated as holy, an object of veneration will thus have the tendency actually to increase in holiness and to become holy. I set up some representation of divinity, I channel my longing, my devotion for God into and through it. Others come and do the same. Holy men also worship there. Vibrations build up and a genuine place of sanctity is established. In time the accumulation of earnest entreaty may even induce the Reality which is being celebrated there to infuse itself fully into the representation. Then the phenomenon appears of what is known as an awakened deity. (Yes, the word deity is used even for a lingam, a natural formation, a holy tree.)……….Most places of national pilgrimage are places where the deity is considered to be awakened.

……..Shaivism as the path of renunciation, austerity. Shaivism teaches the control and sublimation of our humannesses. It is an approach to god though emphasis on the impersonal…………..Vaishnavism stresses the personal, the intimate, and uses these to take us to God………..Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘A man born with an element of Shiva becomes a jnani; his mind is always inclined to the feeling that the world is unreal and Brahman alone is real. But when a man is born with an element of Vishnu he develops an ecstatic love of God. That love can never be destroyed. It may wane a little now and then, when he indulges in philosophical reasoning, but it ultimately returns to him increased a thousand-fold’

……They will ask you all sorts of details about your family, what the original cost was of possessions you have, the state of your digestive tract. But there is nothing insinuating in any of this. The questions are put without guile, innocently as a child would do. You cannot take offence……..I was brought up in the belief that the mark of a gentleman is his ability to keep confidences. But very little is kept a secret by Indians. All news is common property, as in a home.

It has been said laughingly that to the American it doesn’t matter whether something is pure, just so that it is clean; whereas to the Indian if something is pure that makes it clean.

………..eating in hotels and restaurants is rarely done by monastics because of the unhelpful influences likely to reside in the food. Food not prepared with devotion…………devised impersonally for making money by people with their minds full of gross thoughts – can adversely influence your spiritual growth……..Sri Ramakrishna could not even keep on the storage shelf in his room food gifts brought by visitors who were lustful, avaricious, or hopeful of getting some advantage as a result of their devotions.

…..a salagram stone…….just a smooth pebble about the size of a plum, black in colour, with a hole in it, and bearing some white markings. Salagram are natural formations………Sri Ramakrishna, remarking on he fact that the whole world is nothing but materialized spirit, pointed out that God manifests himself, however, more in certain things than in others. The salagram is one of these………..

Sri Ramakrishna compared holy places to bodies of water. ‘You may be sure,’ he said, ‘that there is God’s manifestation in those spots where people have practiced spiritual disciplines a great deal.’………….Yet from another standpoint Sri Ramakrishna made light of pilgrimages. He often said, ‘One who has it here [in the heart] has it there; one who has it not here has it nowhere.’ In other words, if devotion is unfolding, the process will be enhanced by association with holy places; but if it is not, no amount of traipsing about to temples and shrines will do much good

Benaras………..So many of India’s saints have journeyed there to walk in its streets and bathe from its ghats…….that the whole place is alight with faith…….Sri Ramakrishna…….spoke of the city as hardly material at all, but rather as composed of pure sattwa guna, of purity and truth.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From ‘Om. An Indian Pilgrimage’ by Geoffrey Moorhouse

And do thy duty, even if it be humble, rather than another’s, even if it be great. To die in one’s duty is life: to live in another’s is death


No other nation has even known such a natural diversity of tongues, the result, for the most part, of slow evolution since the beginning of mankind. No other country has lived with so complicated a past so equably, assimilating everything that has happened to it, obliterating naught, so that not even the intricate histories of European states have produced such a rich pattern as that bequeathed by the Mauryas, the Ashokas, the Pahlavas, the Guptas, the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, the Pandyas, the Cholas, the Mughals and the British – to identify only a few of the peoples who have shaped India’s inheritance. Nor is there another land that constantly provokes in the stranger such elation and despair, so much affection and anger, by powerful contrasts and irreducible opposites of behavior: wickedness and virtue, caring and indifference, things bewitching and disgusting and terrifying and disarming, often in quick succession. India has nuclear power and other advanced technology close by some of the most obscene slums in creation; she has never failed to hold democratic elections at the appointed time, yet these too frequently elevate men whose own votes can be bought with rupees and other emoluments, she has a high and mighty self-esteem and a taste for moral posturing which equals anything suffered by her people when the British were here; she has been capable of unparalleled generosity to her last imperial rulers, but she bickers endlessly and meanly with her closest neighbor and twin; she gave birth to the creed of massive non-violent protest and once practiced this effectively, yet in the first generation of independence she has assassinated three of her own leaders, starting with the begetter of satyagraha….. Such contradictions and anomalies as these run through India from end to end, and help to make her incomparable.

As does another characteristic. Religion, too, flourishes here as it does nowhere else. Other lands may surrender themselves totally to a particular faith, but in India most creeds are deeply rooted and acknowledged fervently. Virtually the whole population practices some form of devotion: the Indian without the slightest feeling for the divine, without a spiritual dimension to his life, is exceedingly rare.

Plenty of Westerners do not survive their initial experience of the subcontinent, fleeing in anxiety, in disgust and with indignation from its darknesses, condemned never to know it properly. But many more are vouchsafed in that first encounter a glimpse of something so enchanting, so inspiring, so utterly and attractively outside all previous experience, that they know they will return as often as possible, to be thrilled by it afresh

…few yards from the temple someone had spread his wares on a small trestle, which was all he required for the sale of spare parts for defective wrist-watches, each item salvaged from other broken timepieces: a great variety of watch faces, fingers, glasses, winding knobs, flywheels, casings, spindles, straps. Next to this speciality was an even narrower one, offering any of the few bits and pieces that someone might need in order to mend an electric torch. It seemed impossible that anyone could make a living this way, but India defies such assumptions more than any other country I have known: perhaps because the reworking of junk must come more naturally to a people whose principal creed sees life as a perpetually revolving cycle.

…….Raghu, 26, of Perumpayakkad, was returning home on Friday when a group of persons carrying deadly weapons attacked him.” Nothing more: just a brief paragraph towards the bottom of an inside page. Life could be very bleak in India: and was, for some, every day of the week.

………for India was, above anywhere else, the land where every distinction of faith, every equivocation, every contradiction, every doubt, every reticence was commonplace, often glorified and always accepted as if any variant at all was the natural condition of man. For that reason alone, I could have surrendered myself to the spirit of this country without any ifs or buts