Spiritual Determination

Wherever I travel I meet dedicated, sincere souls who are working hard to maintain Srila Prabhupada’s Society. They are inspired by his personal example, by the words in his books, and by the determination of his disciples and grand-disciples to preserve his work and not lay to waste his lifetime of effort. It is a tribute to his brilliance that in the midst of Kali-yuga, when it is far easier to find fault and flake away, his transcendental creation ISKCON has held together and continues to provide spiritual succor to the distressed and spiritually bereft. And it is a tribute to his sincere followers that despite the potential for disagreement and dissent, despite the deficiencies – both the personal and the collective – they continue working together with hope and confidence. This is love. In January 1976, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Bhurijana Dasa: “Unless there is loving feeling, how is it possible for you to always make offerings to me? The spiritual master is always instructing his disciples and they in turn are always trying to serve their spiritual master. It is a reciprocal relationship of love.”

And again in January 1977 Srila Prabhupada wrote to Mrs. Polly Perlmutter, the mother of Sravanananda Dasa: “Yes, our Society is depending on love and respect; we are bound by love.” We are bound by love. And by self interest we are rent asunder. Therefore Srila Prabhupada told us in 1977 “Your love for me will be tested how after my departure you maintain this institution.”

On a morning walk on August 11 1976 when Srila Prabhupada was visiting Tehran, he told us about passing that test: “To be recognized by Krsna as He says, na ca tasman manusyesu, one has to pass examination, severe test of examination. All the big, big devotees we see. Narada Muni, before becoming Narada Muni, he had to pass through severe examination, test–Faith means that you are meant for giving some service to Krsna. You should stick to that service, that path, in spite of all impediments. That is the passing of test. Generally, just like we are meant for preaching Krsna consciousness. So there may be severe test, but still we will remain determined. This is wanted.

“There may be so many impediments, punishments, still you should do that. That is test. Not that as soon as there is some difficulty I give it up. There may be severe test, but still we shall not give up. We must go on. That is determination.” “Passing the test means executing the order of the spiritual master,” Nava-yauvana said. Prabhupada agreed. “Yes, that is spiritual life. One has to take order from the spiritual master and execute it, despite all impediments. That is determination.”

Do we pass the test?

From this fallen soul’s perspective and experience, I think so. We may not get 100%, but a pass at least. ISKCON continues on as a united preaching force, and as long as it does, that is the passing of the test of love that Srila Prabhupada set for us.

More at: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=3218

Posted in Bhakti, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Inspiring Story – The Coronation of Sita Rama


One evening, many years back…

A big crowd had assembled for the Darshan of Mahaswamigal at the Kanchi Sri Matam. Swamigal came out of his room, stopped for a bit and looked closely at the crowd of devotees and sat leaning on the wall. One by one devotees filed past the Maha Swamigal, saluted him, expressed their problems, got remedies and moved on. In the line of devotees, holding a small boy’s hand tightly was standing a middle-aged person. Streams of tears rolled from his eyes. The small boy was blinking and standing without any motion.

The man came and stood in front of Periyava, worshipped by prostrating, and got up. The small boy also worshipped. The Mahaswamigal, who tightened his eyes and looked at him closely, inquired supportingly, “You are Mylapore Auditor Shankar Narayanan right? Why are you standing like this with eyes smudged with tears? What is the difficulty for you? ”

When Periyava asked, sadness increased further for him. Crying uncontrollably, ” Yes Periyava. Now, I have an unbearable difficulty. Don’t know what to do at all…You are only my God. Somehow have to solve and give me. No other go!”, he again prostrated on Periyava’s feet and worshipped.

Periyava who understood the situation, said with affection, ” Shankara…Don’t worry for anything! You sit over there for sometime…. After they all speak and leave I will call you!”, and showed his hands on the opposite side.

” Your Order Periyava… I will do exactly so!”, said the auditor and moved a little aside and sat opposite. About half an hour later, the devotees had the darshan of the Archaryal and left. Except the two young men who serve the Swamigal, nobody was there. Swamigal signaled and called Auditor Shankara Narayanan. Auditor Shankar Narayanan came and worshipped. Acharyal eagerly saw the auditor and asked, “Shankara…. Practice and all are going good right? You are only the ‘leading’ Auditor right … why ask about practice?

That’s Ok. Your father Panchabakesha Iyer is in Tanjore only right? He is doing fine right?”

Immediately auditor wiping his tears and hugged the young boy near him started wailing, as he said, ” Practice and all is going very good Periyava. Dad and mom have gone to my younger brother who is in Bombay. It’s been two months. For me only sadness has incurred Periyava. Not able to bear it…You only have to remediate it. ”

That walking God understood in seconds that some sadness related to the young boy has very much affected auditor Shankara Narayanan’s heart.

” Should not cry Shankara.. Whatever it may be men should not cry! That’s Ok…Who is this child? Your son?” , asked Swamigal.

“Yes Periyava. He is my son only. ” Name Chandramouli. For him only Periyava suddenly..” , so said Auditor Shankara Narayanan and stood without being able to talk further as the sadness caused a lump in the throat.

Immediately Acharyal with a face filled with worry said consolingly, ” Shankara! What happened to him suddenly? Chandramouli is studying in school right … Tell in detail without panicking!”

Shankara Narayanan wiping his tears, ” Periyava… Son Chandramouli Mylapore is studying in 7th Std at P.S. High School. 12 years Old. Talented in studies. He is the first in class. Twenty days before, speech stopped from the morning. When asked, he shows in action, ‘Can’t talk’. Since then not going to school. He is having food, tiffin and all well…. He sleeps well. All that is fine Periyava. But, speech alone is not coming…What will I do..You only should do mercy and make him speak!” prayed so with tears flowing out of his eyes.

Swamigal observed silence for sometime. Then asked to auditor, “Do you take son to temples, tanks and all? Chandramouli have Bhakti towards God right?”

“Has a lot Periyava. After saying Kanda Sashti Kavacham, Anjayaneyar and Ramar Slokas and all every morning after taking bath by standing in front of the God pictures only he will leave to school. At home there is a big Kodhanda Ramar picture Periyava. Tanjore Picture from my Grandfather’s period that is. Every morning – evening worshipping it, he keeps worshipping Sita Raman’s holy feet multiple times. “I like Sita and Raman very much”, he keeps saying frequently. Weekly twice or thrice he goes to Kapaleeshwarar, Mundaka Kanni Amman, Luz Anjaneyar temples and all and does Darshan. To such a good child it had happened like this Periyava ”, Shankara Narayanan could not control his sadness. He started crying hard again.

Acharyal who consoled him, asked after thinking deeply for sometime, “Have the habit of taking him to the Upanyasams that are held in Mylapore ?”

“Have the habit Periyava! Sometimes I take him. Even on the evening of the day before he lost his speech, I only took him to the Ramayana Upananyasam held at the Rasika Ranjani Sabha. He listened reverently. Next day it happened like this!”

Acharyal asked laughing, “Are you coming to say, it happened like this because of listening to Ramayanam ?”

“Rama Rama! Not like that Periyava! I was coming to say that it was from the day next to that!”, said Auditor, slapping his own cheeks.

“That’s Ok. Who did the Upanyasam?”, asked Periyava.

“Shri Vathsa Jayarama Sharma, Periyava!”

“Wonderful…Wonderful…Son of Somadheva Sharma. Good Lineage. Ones who have learned a lot…Letting that aside Shankara. Did you show your son to any Doctor?”

“I showed Periyava!”

“Which Doctor?”

“Doctor Sanjeevi!”

“What is he telling?” – Periyava.

“After doing all the tests, ‘Two nerves have been affected in the Larynx. It may become alright after an operation’, he said Periyava.”

“Didn’t say it will definitely be alright?”

“Didn’t say confidently like that Periyava..Somehow you only should make the speech come back for him Periyava. You only should save! “

Acharyal spoke after a small silence. “You do one thing Shankara. Taking son Chandramouli, go to the temples in this town, do darshan, pray and come. In the night have food at the mutt itself and stay. Morning take bath, if you have rituals, after completing that and all, come and see me at 10’O Clock!”

Words said by the Acharyal were very consoling for Shankara Narayanan! The two of them went for Temple Darshan after worshipping Periyava.

Next day morning 10’O Clock. That walking God had already come and sat. Not much crowd. Five to Six people were waiting. Everyone had darshan and left.

Shankara Narayanan stood tying his hands after worshipping Acharyal. Chandramouli also worshipped and got up. Swamigal looked keenly at him and spoke: “Shankara…Do one thing. Take Chandramouli also along, do Complete Abhishekham ( Purnabhishekam ) to Ambal at Mylapore Shri Kapaleeshwarar temple and make him do that darshan. Aftewards, what you do…See if the same Shri Vathsa Jayarama Sharma tells Shreemath Ramayanam somewhere else…If he says so like that in any Temple or Sabha…You do one thing. From Sundara Kaandam to Shree Sitarama Pattabhishekam, take Chandramouli along with you and make him listen! The day when Shree Sitarama Pattabhishekam completes, what you do…buy nice Mountain Banana (a type of Banana) and give it to the hands of ‘Pouraanikkar’ (the person doing the Upanyasam,) and both of you prostrate and worship him.

Pray to that Pattabhisheka Shree Sitaraman and Pouranikkar in your hearts…That Pattabhiraman will save. Don’t worry at all… Go and come”, and told to give Prasadham to both of them and sent them that absolute reality.

Auditor looked everyday in the Daily newspapers whether Shri Vathsa Jayarama Sharma’s Shreemath Ramayanam narration happen anywhere in Chennai.

On that day’s newspaper the happy news that, ‘On Mylai’s Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Shrivathsa Jayarama Sharma’s Ramayana Upanyasam will be held in 9 days’, had come out.

That day was the starting of the Sundara Kandam part. Shankaranarayanan went with Chandramouli to Shirdi Saibaba Temple. Heart-rending narration. Chandramouli lost himself into it and listened. Sometimes tears flooded his eyes. During those moments, Shankara Narayanan caressed his back and comforted him.

That day was Shreemath Ramayanam completion day. Good crowd at Mylai Shirdi Sai Baba Temple. At night 10.30, Shri Vathsa Jayarama Sharma completed saying the benefits of listening to Shri Sitarama Pattabhishekam. One by one they worshipped him and got up. Also Shankara Narayanan. Chandramouli also worshipped him and got up. He gave a dozen of Bananas to Chandramouli and asked him to offer it to Shri Vathsa Jayarama Sharma and worship him. He did so.

He, who took the banana bunch with happiness, showed it and offered it to the holy image of the Shri Rama Pattabhishekha and Shridi Shri Sai Baba image. Afterwards, he tore two fruits from it, gave it to Chandramouli, and blessed him by saying, “Child…You will be fine. You itself eat both the fruits!” After coming out of the temple, Chandramouli ate both the fruits.

Next day morning one miracle happened. Chandramouli who brushed his teeth in the bathroom and came out, called out loudly, “Amma, Coffee ready? ” His father who was reading the newspaper and mother who was in the kitchen came running to the hall with a shudder. Chandramouli was standing there smiling.

“Was that you who shouted is the coffee ready, Chandramouli!” the mother hugged him with overflowing happiness and kissed him. Shankara Narayanan kept him on his shoulders and danced happily. Chandramouli started talking fluently like before. All the people who knew came, saw and felt happy.

That evening 5.30 PM. Swamigal was seated alone at Kanchi Shri Shankara Mutt. Not much crowd. Shankara Narayanan arrived in a van with ten or fifteen people.

Auditor worshipped Swamigal along with Chandramouli and got up. The first question that Acharyal asked laughing: ” Chandramouli….Now, you are able to speak well right ? Wonderful…Wonderful! Everything is due to the mercy of that Sitaraman!”

Immediately that Chandramouli shouted aloud, ” Hara Hara Shankara…Jaya Jaya Shankara…Kamakoti Shankara…” Everyone stood astonished.

That absolute reality spoke after sometime: “Shankara…Now I am telling, listen. The reason it happened like this for Chandramouli is nothing else. By his nature itself he has had love and devotion beyond limits towards Sitadevi and Shri Rama. If there is a hardship for them, he cannot bear that! At first, on the day when he was listening to the Upanyasam, Shri Jayarama Sharma must have told the part where Ravana was kidnapping Sita and going. What I am saying is correct right, Shankara…?”

Auditor who stood astonished opened his mouth and agreed, ” Exactly Periyava..Exacty! That day he narrated that part only in a heart rending manner!”

Swamigal continued: “The moment he heard that a demon was carrying away the Sita Devi towards whom he has unlimited devotion and love, internally he got the situation of being stunned. Speech also got stunned. Nothing else. What’s the only remedy for this? I felt that if he hears with his ears from the mouth of the same narrator that ‘Mother Sita has been retrieved back without any difficulty for her’, the whim that is occupying his mind and speech will go away. That’s why I told to do so. With Sitaraman’s mercy everything went well. Chandramouli… You will be very fine!”

Everyone who heard the speech of that walking God stood astonished.

Source: Jaya Jaya Shankara Hara Hara Shankara! Maha Periyavar – S. Ramani Anna


Posted in Bhakti | Tagged

Leadership In Service

Nashville police chief shares message, responds to questions

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson posted the below message originally on the Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County website this afternoon. Anderson shares a message to police officers and answers questions related to recent protests in Nashville and around the country.

A Christmas Message for the MNPD from Chief Steve Anderson


To All Employees:

It is the holiday season and this has been a good year. My sincere thanks for the work you do every day to make this a successful police department. The Nashville public is especially pleased with the work you do and has even more confidence in you as events have unfolded over the last few weeks.

Over the last weeks, across the nation, and here in Nashville, we have witnessed many protests and demonstrations. Some of the demonstrations have been peaceful. Some have been violent, with significant property damage. Here in Nashville, persons have gathered to express their thoughts in a non-violent manner. I thank all involved for the peaceful manner in which they have conducted themselves.

I also thank you. As a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, you have responded to these events in a manner that clearly shows that this is a professional police department staffed by professional individuals who respect the points of view of all persons. Again, thank you for showing the Nashville public that, individually and collectively, they have a police department they can be proud of.

Obviously, as you have come to know over your police career, not everyone will understand or agree with the manner in which we have responded during these demonstrations. In any endeavor we undertake, decisions should be made with a view toward producing the best outcome for all of Nashville. Our decisions must be made with this in the forefront. However, in that we work for the public, public opinion should be given consideration in the decision making process in matters such as this.

Below is my reply to one such email I received. I have removed the name and other identifying information from the email in order to respect the privacy of the individual.

Again, the Nashville public is very proud of you and the work you have done over the last years. The confidence and support of the public is continually and loudly expressed to both me and the Mayor at any time we are out in the public. Thank you for making this a very impressive police department–another thing we can celebrate during this holiday season.

I wish you and your family well during the holidays and I am predicting, thanks to the work that you do day in and day out, that we will have another very successful year.

[Email Received]

Chief Anderson,

I wanted to send you this email to express my frustration and outrage at how the situation of these protesters is being handled in Nashville. The first night protesters marched here after the incidents in Ferguson they never should have been allowed to shut down the interstate. Instead of at least threatening to arrest them, they were served coffee and hot chocolate. I don’t feel that is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. It sends a message that they can do whatever they want and will be rewarded. Then, this past week, more protesters march around downtown for 3 or more hours and once again, no arrests, and it took THP to keep them from getting on the interstate again. Saturday night, marching and “die ins” at Opry Mills mall. How long are we going to allow these people to disrupt our city?

I have a son who I have raised to respect police officers and other authority figures, but if he comes to me today and asks “Why are the police allowing this?” I wouldn’t have a good answer. If any other group of people wanted to march around the streets they would have to get a permit weeks or months in advance, and I know it’s not possible to get a permit to obstruct traffic and walk on the interstate.

Please understand I am not trying to disrespect you or your department, I just want myself and my family to feel that our city is safe, and right now we don’t feel that way. Is this going to be allowed to continue until someone gets hurt? Protection of the city should be coming from MNPD, not THP. I also understand that you get direction from the mayor’s office, but these actions are putting the department at disharmony from the majority of the citizens. At some point you are going to have to answer this question to yourself – “Am I following or giving orders that help or hurt the community?” In closing, if these recent actions have been due to pressure from the mayor’s office, please reach out to the people of Nashville, there are many who will gladly contact the mayor’s office as well.

Sincerely, ________ __________

[Reply to Email]

Mr. _____________

While I certainly appreciate your offer to intercede on my behalf with our Mayor, you should know that the Mayor has not issued any order, directive or instruction on the matter with which you take issue. All decisions concerning the police department’s reaction to the recent demonstrations have been made within the police department and approved by me. Therefore, any reasons or rationale supporting your proposal as what would be the best approach for all of Nashville, and not just a method of utilizing the police department to enforce a personal agenda, should be directed to me.

In that your thoughts deserve consideration, I will attempt to address some of the issues you have raised:

• Has consideration been given as to whether the response of the police department “help or hurt the community.”

It is our view that every decision made within the police department should be made with the community in mind. Obviously, there are some matters in which we have no discretion. On matters in which we do have discretion, careful consideration is given as to the best course of action, always with the welfare of the general public in mind.

That has been the consideration on this issue. Certainly, in comparing the outcome here in Nashville with what has occurred in some other cities, the results speak for themselves. I stand on the decisions that have been made.

• “These actions are putting the department at disharmony from the majority of the citizens.”

While I don’t doubt that you sincerely believe that your thoughts represent the majority of citizens, I would ask you to consider the following before you chisel those thoughts in stone.

As imperfect humans, we have a tendency to limit our association with other persons to those persons who are most like us. Unfortunately, there is even more of a human tendency to stay within our comfort zone by further narrowing those associations to those persons who share our thoughts and opinions. By doing this we can avoid giving consideration to thoughts and ideas different than our own. This would make us uncomfortable. By considering only the thoughts and ideas we are in agreement with, we stay in our comfort zone. Our own biases get reinforced and reflected back at us leaving no room for any opinion but our own. By doing this, we often convince ourselves that the majority of the world shares opinion and that anyone with another opinion is, obviously, wrong.

It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter. We can still disagree and maintain our opinions, but we can now do so knowing that the issue has been given consideration from all four sides. Or, if we truly give fair consideration to all points of view, we may need to swallow our pride and amend our original thoughts.

And, it is only by giving consideration to the thoughts of all persons, even those that disagree with us, that we can have an understanding as to what constitutes a majority.

• “I just want myself and my family to feel that our city is safe, and right now we don’t feel that way.”

I have to admit, I am somewhat puzzled by this announcement. None of the demonstrators in this city have in any way exhibited any propensity for violence or indicated, even verbally, that they would harm anyone. I can understand how you may feel that your ideologies have been questioned but I am not aware of any occurrence that would give reason for someone to feel physically threatened.

• “I have a son who I have raised to respect police officers and other authority figures, but if he comes to me today and asks “Why are the police allowing this?” I wouldn’t have a good answer.”

It is somewhat perplexing when children are injected into the conversation as an attempt to bolster a position or as an attempt to thwart the position of another. While this is not the type of conversation I ordinarily engage in, here are some thoughts you may find useful as you talk with your son.

First, it is laudable that you are teaching your son respect for the police and other authority figures. However, a better lesson might be that it is the government the police serve that should be respected. The police are merely a representative of a government formed by the people for the people—for all people. Being respectful of the government would mean being respectful of all persons, no matter what their views.

Later, it might be good to point out that the government needs to be, and is, somewhat flexible, especially in situations where there are minor violations of law. A government that had zero tolerance for even minor infractions would prove unworkable in short order.

Although this is unlikely, given your zero tolerance stance, suppose that, by accident or perhaps inattention, you found yourself going 40 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone and that you were stopped by a police officer. Then, after making assurances that licenses were in order and that there were no outstanding warrants, the officer asked you not to speed again and did not issue a citation, but merely sent you on your way.

As you have suggested, a question may come to you from the back seat, “How can I respect the police if they will not enforce the law?” In the event this does occur, here are some facts that might help you answer that question.

In the year 2013, our officers made over four hundred thousand vehicle stops, mostly for traffic violations. A citation was issued in only about one in six of those stops. Five of the six received warnings. This is the police exercising discretion for minor violations of the law. Few, if any, persons would argue that the police should have no discretion.

This is an explanation you might give your son. Take into account, however, that the innocence of children can produce the most profound and probing questions. They often see the world in a very clear and precise manner, their eyes unclouded by the biases life gives us. This could produce the next question. “If you believe that the police should enforce the law at all times, why didn’t you insist that the officer write you a ticket?”

I don’t have a suggestion as to how that should be answered.

I do know, however, that this is a very diverse city. Nashville, and all of America, will be even more diverse when your son becomes an adult. Certainly, tolerance, respect and consideration for the views of all persons would be valuable attributes for him to take into adulthood.

Mr. ______, thank you for taking the time to express your position on this matter. I assure that your thoughts will be given all due consideration. We will continue, however, to make decisions, on this and all matters, that take into account what is best for all of Nashville.

Steve Anderson
Chief of Police

Source: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/davidson/2014/12/26/nashville-police-chief-shares-message-responds-to-questions/20914171/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,


You are without attributes Even so, you are over kind to devotees
You are desireless Yet you make this marvelous creation
You are formless Yet you are the Eternal Enlightened Being
You are the Lord of all Yet you are helpless before love
Thinking of you all the time Sages and yogis are absorbed in your contemplation
Your spirit pervades the Vedas You are the One adored
None is greater than you You are the strength of all
Having found you There is nothing more to seek
Until we find you We wander, Lost, without a haven
For those who taste the nectar of your lotus feet Even salvation is valueless
O Lord, you are truth, consciousness, and bliss Your power is eternal
Unequalled, imperceptible, auspicious, excellent O God unmanifest
Praiseworthy, you are the object of our devotion
Unconquerable, yet love attached you to your devotees
Sacred, holy, lotus-eyed You are embodied with the lotus of Lord Vishnu You are the liberator
You are One, yet you have many forms You have no beginning and no end
You are incomprehensible, unique Incarnate supreme being
You are Brahma, the creator You are Vishnu, the preserver
You are Shiva, the destroyer of this creation
Compassionate beloved One glance from you bestows everything
Your love and kindness gives us so much What can we ever give you
What is there in this universe that is ours Everything is your creation
Our obligation is eternal To you, the Source
Helper of the helpless Lord of Lords
We are immersed in the fragrant ocean of your love and compassion
You have no beginning and no end Glory to you, Immortal One
The universe worships you All praise to the controller of illusion
Vishnu, you are the perfect being
Vishnu, you are the Lord of the world Glory,
Glory to you, O Lord The Omnipresent Supreme Being
All-pervading Vishnu, you are unique Eternal Shiva, you govern the laws of maya
O Magnificent One Giver of everything that is good You show us the path of wisdom

Adapted from: http://www.maharajji.com/Divine-Reality/sri-siddhi-ma-sings-a-beautiful-bhajan-to-baba.html

Posted in Guru, Sai Baba | Tagged , ,

At the Dog Park

I took my dog, Jake, out for a walk in the park this morning. The wind was cold, and the trees were icy and barren. Jake didn’t care how cold it was. Immediately, he shot like a rocket across the park after a squirrel. I called to him, but he was too caught up in all the excitement and snow. Eventually, he settled down, and the white stillness of the park returned.

So it is with my inner life. I see that my thoughts can be just as noisy and reckless. I can’t change my dog’s nature. That is how dogs are. Sometimes though, Jake hears my call and recognizes that I am his master, or at least that I am the one that feeds him, and he obeys. What if we could have a similar gentle attitude towards our wandering mind that we find ourselves in so often, and instead of reacting against it, see it as a friend?

Maybe I am just chasing after squirrels a lot of the time; however I can also recognize that all these inner noises, clamour of associations, and busyness prevent me from the direct experience of life. Behind all of that, there is always a quality of stillness, whether I recognize it or not. Jeanne de Salzmann speaks about this stillness in her book “The Reality of Being.” She writes:

I have to see that there is a space between thoughts. A void that is reality, and I need to remain as long as possible in this space. Then another kind of thinking appears, clear and intelligent, a thought of another level, another dimension.

The idea that there are two worlds or two rivers is found in many spiritual traditions. The first is the world of our day-to-day functioning with all its dogs of commentaries, opinions, ideas, as well as the emotions that move through us like the weather. The second world is completely different. It’s related to silence and seems composed of an entirely different order. This second world is always beckoning to us, but it is hidden behind the veil of the first world. Siddhartha describes this second world beautifully as “a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”

The key, I think is not to be in one world or the other, but to witness and be related to both worlds at the same time. The Buddhist teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya provides a wonderfully clear description of this practice in his book Awareness Alone Is Not Enough:

When you are on your own, your attention will tend to be all ‘in here’. When you are with others, it will most likely be all ‘out there’. Why does it all go ‘out there’? It is because you are more interested in what is going on ‘out there’, because you are not really interested in what is going on ‘in here’. When the attention is all outside, thoughts and emotions will come unnoticed and things will build up.

“[The yogi says, yes, this is the problem! I try to maintain internal awareness but when the awareness wants to go out, it affects the quality of awareness.] OK, the outside is important but so are you! Why not be aware of both, why not go for 50/50? There are of course variations. In some circumstances it might be 60/40, etc. You need to experiment, learn in different situations…

To make an effort in this direction, I try simple exercises; for example, in the morning, I say to myself: “I am going to try to be as present to myself and the world around me today whenever I pass under doorways throughout the day.” From this deceptively simple task, I gather snapshots of myself. It’s really not about getting the task right or wrong, but to see how I am moment by moment. For the most part, I see that I forget the task most of the time. Why do I forget? If I’m lucky and remember the task underneath a doorway, I wonder what part of me remembers. Essentially, I’m attempting to break up habitual patterns and awaken from a hypnotic sleep by putting myself into question. I’m making an effort to step outside the incessant story I have of myself, that usually runs on auto-pilot and bear witness to how I really am, moment-to-moment.

In short, these exercises are a struggle to bring the action of an inner world into my daily life. Similarly, when I practice meditation in the early morning, I’m seeking a way that that will hopefully relate both worlds and inform my daily life. The temptation is to be lost in the inner or the outer. Is it possible to be in manifestation, yet related to an inner silence at the same time; to be in-between the meeting of the horizontal and the sacred vertical axis? In the busyness of life, this is near impossible, but I have to try. The real challenge of being a witness and reconciling both of these forces of life truly begins as soon as I get up from the meditation cushion. Back in the dog park, I whistle to Jake and prepare him to come back home.

Source: http://lukestorms.com/2016/02/02/at-the-dog-park/

Posted in Awareness

Being Special

Being Special

To be special you don’t really have to do something special or spectacular.

In fact, being special is a possibility for each one of us. Yes, you are special.

To be special is to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.

Value the contribution you make, value the action itself and make the most ordinary act – special!

Source: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/bkindia/UVHNpuP5sZY/CA6qRcQhCwAJ

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Choiceless Awareness

Awareness isn’t something mysterious that you must practise; it isn’t something that can be learnt only from the speaker, or from some bearded gentleman or other. All that kind of fanciful stuff is too absurd. Just to be aware, what does it mean? To be aware that you are sitting there and I am sitting here; that I am talking to you and you are listening to me; to be aware of this hall, its shape, its lighting, its acoustics; to observe the various colours that people wear, their attitudes, their effort to listen, their scratching, yawning, boredom, their dissatisfaction at not being able to get from what they hear something to carry home with them; their agreement or disagreement with what is being said. All that is part of awareness, a very superficial part.Behind that superficial observation there is the response of our conditioning: I like and I don’t like, I am British and you are not British, I am a Catholic and you are a Protestant. And our conditioning is really very deep. It requires a great deal of investigation, understanding.To be conscious of our reactions, of our hidden motives and conditioned responses, this also is part of awareness.You can’t be totally aware if you are choosing. If you say, ‘This is right and that is wrong’, the right and the wrong depend on your conditioning. What is right to you may be wrong in the Far East. You believe in a saviour, in the Christ, but they don’t, and you think they will go to hell unless they believe as you do. You have the means to build marvellous cathedrals, while they may worship a stone image, a tree, a bird, or a rock, and you say, ‘How silly, how pagan!’ To be aware is to be conscious of all this, choicelessly; it is to be aware totally of all your conscious and unconscious reactions. And you can’t be aware totally if you are condemning, if you are justifying, or if you say, ‘I will keep my beliefs, my experiences, my knowledge.’ Then you are only partially aware, and partial awareness is really blindness.Seeing or understanding is not a matter of time, it is not a matter of gradations. Either you see or you don’t see. And you can’t see if you are not deeply aware of your own reactions, of your own conditioning. Being aware of your conditioning, you must watch it choicelessly; you must see the fact and not give an opinion or judgement about the fact. In other words, you must look at the fact without thought. Then there is an awareness, a state of attention without a centre, without frontiers, where the known doesn’t interfere.

The Collected Works, Vol. XIII,188,Choiceless Awareness

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