Practice: Like Breathing

Buddha Sun

For those interested, there’s a new post up at Samma-Samadhi.

Comments are welcome, as always!

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Sanatana Dharma

vishnu-sanatana-dharmaVishnu….

At the risk of stirring the religious pot (i.e., please take no offense if the following challenges your religious beliefs)….

Perennial religion, before categories, before sects, before divisions:

Sanatana Dharma looks upon a person as a part and parcel of the mighty Whole, but never regards him as “the Measure of all things.” In the West, “person” is a supreme and final value, while Sanatana Dharma regards person as a part of the Whole, having the same vital essence as all other human and sub-human creatures of the universe. This cosmic view of Hinduism transcends the sectarian or group dogmas and paves a way for the coexistence of all creatures under the Vedic principle of Vasudev Kutumbhkam, meaning “The Universe is One Family.” This principle guides the humankind towards universal harmony through acceptance and tolerance.

Sanatana Dharma recognizes that the Ultimate Reality, which is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization, cannot be limited by any name or concept. The potential for human wholeness (or in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, liberation, transformation, blessedness, nirvana, moksha) is present in every human being. No race or religion is superior and no color or creed is inferior. All humans are spiritually united like the drops of water in an ocean.

Therefore:

* Don’t enforce one belief, one way of worship or one code of conduct for all. Do not attempt to destroy different forms of worship, claiming your own way to be the only right one. Such enforcement of uniformity would be un-natural and contrary to the Divine Law. It hinders the progress of a human being in his/her journey to the state of divinity.

* Give importance to sincerity of heart and nobleness of conduct in the field of religion. Do not claim to have obtained from God, exclusive and irrevocable power of attorney to be a dictator and to persecute others on behalf of God, because they do not agree with you.

* Don’t claim to have bound the Boundless God. Do not create inter-religious wars and massacres, forcing your claims and dogmas on others.

* Give a person freedom to think, freedom to believe, freedom to disbelieve and freedom to adopt a way of worship, which suits his/her temperament. After all, what is important in worship of God is the sincerity of heart, not the outer form of worship.

* Don’t divide the human race into conflicting armies and camps of Holy believers and Unholy Others.

In other words, one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

We’re all living our dharma, we’re all on the Path.

Who are we to decide what’s “right” for anyone else?

Who are we to believe that God is more present in one religion than another?

Who are we to limit the Divine in any way?

About the Progenitor of God Alone

A good Muslim friend of mine wrote to warn me about the God Alone movement, which was initiated by a man named Rashad Khalifa.  Khalifa was an Egyptian scientist who claimed to find a “Qur’an Code” based on the number 19, which he asserted as proof that the Qur’an has come down to us in uncorrupted form.  He ended up in Tucson, AZ, where he was assassinated in the early 90’s.

The above video is a straightforward presentation of the anti-Khalifa position, which is in line with traditional Islam.  I do appreciate having access to this information as I continue to self-educate around the religion of Muhammad.

Thanks, also, to my friend (you know who you are!) who was not afraid to take me to task over a very touchy subject.

Mooji

My wife just turned me onto this gentleman, Mooji, who apparently was a devotee Papaji.

It seems like every other person in our hometown of Boulder was a devotee of Papaji.

Over the years I’ve probably attended 20 or 25 satsangs with devotees of Papaji, of whom Gangaji is the most famous example.

This is “neo-advaita” teaching, which purports to give the “ultimate view” that resides as the final stop along every spiritual journey.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how to get there, other than to repeatedly say what you shouldn’t do — i.e., “neti, neti.”

You’ve probably heard variations of it before:  “Consciousness is all there is.”

Gee, thanks.

What’s so enticing about neo-advaita teachings is that they are packaged as “not for just anybody.”  While the rest of us poor schmucks are out here beating our heads against the wall, enlightened neo-advaitins are “just being” in a state/non-state of absolute is-ness… or something… and it’s the simplest thing… so long as you are one of the chosen few whose capacity is deep and wide enough to “get it” in fairly short order.  Of course, there’s nothing you can do to “get it,” because it either happens or it doesn’t happen… but, then, there’s nothing actually happening, and for that matter there is no “one” for whom it happens, or doesn’t happen.

Suffice it to say, you just want to shoot yourself in the head after a few years of this stuff.

At a certain point in 1997 or so (can’t be sure, but give or take a year), I had for a close Internet friend a self-confessed Nisargadatta/U.G. Krishnamurti (both of whom I continue to respect and love, by the way) devotee named “El.”  As she was gruff and tactlessly honest in all her communication, she was universally disliked on the big neo-advaita discussion boards to which I belonged, but for some reason I was truly drawn to her.  Just when I was perfecting my neo-advaita pitch and putting it out there from an authoritative perspective (i.e., I was just sure that it had “happened” to me), El brutally knocked me off my high horse… and after three days of licking my wounds, it dawned on me what a beautiful favor she did me.  When I expressed my thanks, she said, “Okay, now you’ve got a chance to go all the way.”

I’m still working on it, but I can definitely say that I am thankful for having moved beyond neo-advaitaism.  It took three or four years after the above-mentioned event before I finally dropped it completely, at which point I stopped ignoring the “signs of absorption” that had been asserting themselves since the very early 90’s… and I found a meditation teacher who could not only explain what was happening to me, but who could help me devise a lifestyle that allows “jhana” to do its spiritually-transformative thing with me.

Still a work in process, but let me just say that, having been a “jhana yogi” for four years, I can watch Mooji’s satsang with a mixture of thanksgiving and tolerance.  My teacher would say that Mooji is “established in second jhana,” and that sounds about right to me.

More power to him.

He could very well, in fact, have it absolutely right.

Old Time Religion


Per Jonathan Ott:

“Shamanic ecstasy is the real “Old Time Religion,” of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion, it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder… is no religion at all!”

I’ve been going back to my own spiritual roots these past several months, from which I escaped some 26 years ago and have dutifully avoided ever since. When I haven’t been avoiding it, I’ve been criticizing it, as though it has nothing to do with who I’ve become at age 45.

I’m talking about Christianity, of course… and specifically, the form of Protestant Christianity associated with evangelicalism, fundamentalism, fire and brimstone.

My father is a Presbyterian minister (who, thankfully, has migrated away from his Pentecostal roots into the far left wing of his denomination’s contribution to “Liberation Theology“). His father was a Pentecostal tent preacher who went on to found a large Full Gospel Tabernacle in Fresno, CA. My father’s father and uncle were also preachers. So, you can immediately understand why I had to rebel in a big way in order to put distance between myself and my family heritage.

[UPDATE: My father just emailed with a clarification on the above paragraph. I’ll just paste what he wrote here:

Full Gospel Tabernacle had been in existence for some years before my dad got there as pastor in about 1941. It was an old barn of a building with open rafters and hard seats, individually attached to the floor, kind of like a theater, but with no cushions. We tore it down and built a new building on the same spot in the early 50’s. Then, in 52 or 53, dad left with about 50 others to found Peoples Church, meeting in rented halls until we could buy land at Cedar and Dakota Streets where the first buildings were erected, mostly with volunteer labor.

Thanks, Dad!]

What I’m finding, some nine months after my mother’s death, is that you cannot ever get away from your family heritage.

For all my Buddhist meditation, my Hindu cosmology and my Sufi-inspired devotional ecstasy… I cannot help but be drawn back to my true spiritual roots, the fertile ground from which my experience of the Sacred sprouted.

Using some of the modest amount of money my momma left me, I’ve been buying up all sorts of Bibles, as well as evangelical “Bible helps” like concordances, word study dictionaries, interlinear Bibles, commentaries, sermons, systematic theologies, topical Bibles, Bible dictionaries/encyclopedias, Bible software, hermeneutic texts, Biblical criticism texts. I’ve read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelations twice in the last year, having never so much as read a single chapter beforehand.

Truth is, I am embarrassed to be seen with any of this material. I do all my studying at home, usually in conjunction with my still-rigorous daily meditation practice (three hours a day, as well as into the night when I manage to remain lucid in the sleep state). When a new book shows up in the p.o. box, I quickly slip it into my backpack and wait until the bus takes me home before I bust it out for a look. After spending the first 19 years of my life being forced to attend church, usually three times a week (Sunday morning and evening, Tuesday choir practice, Wednesday Bible study… which was more like a bull session amongst serious stoners), I’ve prided myself on being anything but a Christian. As I frequently say, the only times I’ve set foot in a church since 1982 have been for weddings and funerals — and I’m not the only one, because most of the weddings have been held outside the church, and funerals are usually done at the funeral home. When I got into Eastern studies, as well as astrology, Tarot and other oracular symbol systems, I proudly rode the bus with a Baghavad Gita or Dhammapadha held high in front of my face. I’ve felt no compunction against gently opening an English translation of the Qur’an at my favorite coffee shops.

But the Bible? No way.

Winding our way back to the point of our post — Shamanism — let me say that it is the issue of ecstasy that drives my current investigation into evangelical Christianity.

Like Jonathan Ott above, I’m finding that, outside self-described “charismatic” churches from within and without the Pentecostal fold, there is not a lot of institutional support for the cultivation of religious ecstasy. The church within which I was raised, Calvary Presbyterian Church in Fresno (which, I believe, no longer exists), was known for its silent congregation — no clapping or shouting, just polite recitals of well-worn hymns, combined with certain Scripture readings weaved into the liturgy — and even as a young child I would ask my father why there was no “experiential component” to our religious routine. He would just laugh and ruffle my hair.

Later, I would find that monastics from the Orthodox and Catholic traditions have left us a body of ecstatic writings, and from these I have been able to find a measure of validation for the “charismatic gifts” that have arisen from my meditation practice. The Christian Mystics would often equate the Holy Spirit with Sophia, or the Divine Feminine, and they would have to hide Her presence between the lines of their writings in order not to end up burning at the stake — but She is there, undaunted, performing her work of spiritual awakening within her lovers.

What about the Bible, which purports to be the inspired Word of God for Christians down through the centuries? Did Paul and the other early Christians have to hide the Spirit between the lines?

Have you ever seriously read the Bible? I’m talking about just plopping it open and beginning to read, day after day, until you reach the last page and immediately start over again at the beginning. I’m not talking about reading the Bible out of a fear of everlasting damnation in Hell, but rather as an act of spiritual thirst. Have you had this experience?

My reason for asking is, I am curious as to whether or not I am the only one to discover in the Word an actual living, energized, intelligent, transformative Presence that has a gradual building-up effect within the earnest reader. One may even say that diligent exposure to the Word is availing of true healing, from the inside out.

Am I the only one?

Maybe so — but I think not.

Let me just say that, when you read the four Gospels, Acts, Romans and the other early-church letters, you cannot help but be impressed by the Presence of Spirit. You cannot help but marvel at the life those early Christians led, totally surrendered and dependent on Spirit, to the point of giving up all worldly connections in order to answer a higher Calling. You cannot help but pine after that sort of fervency, tied as it was to intimate connection with Spirit that moved the early Christians well past faith into the realm of undeniable Truth.

The Shaman pictured above understands this connection with Spirit, this higher Calling.

I do believe that this Calling is available to us today, should we ever manage to distance ourselves from worldly concerns long enough for Spirit to integrate into us.

We may, unfortunately, also need to distance ourselves from the mainstream expressions of our chosen religious institutions, as the ecstatic has been all but banished from their current expressions.

In the absence of institutional support, we may need to make do with our individual contemplative practice, combined with immersion in the Word (i.e., Divinity written down, made available for those who are ready to receive), until Spirit deems us ready to assume our Calling.

God willing, new institutions will arise that recognize the religious centrality of the ecstatic.

Perhaps one has already begun to spring up… who knows?

Names of God, Take Two

I thought I’d elevate (unedited) to the front page a comment by our good friend Gariban, who contributes to the world’s spiritual understanding by translating Sufi writings into his native Turkish language.  This man knows about the names of God.

My Dear friends thanks for opening a conversation about the names of God, 99 Names of God were explained clearly in the Qur’an by God and authentical sayings of prophet Muhammad(PBUH). There are books of information about these names clearly stating the names, name-adjectives and adjectives of God and how they are manifesting in the universe and on us. One of the most beatiful and comprehensive book in this area was prepared by Shaikh Tosun Bayrak Al-Jerrahi in Newyork. The name of the book is called “The name and the named”. You can obtain one from amazon I think.

My dear friends, Let me share my opinion with you by commenting on a verse from bible in this case:

“If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep becomes lost, then the man will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill. He will go to look for the lost sheep. Right? And if the man finds the lost sheep, the man is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 sheep that were never lost. I tell you the truth. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost.” Matthew 18:12-14 (ERV)

Who are these 99 sheeps?
I will humbly try to explain what I understand from this verse with my poor knowledge in islam. In islam 99 names of ALLAH is known. ALLAH is a unique name and it is not equivalent to the name “God”. Equivalent of God in islam is “Ilah” or with the terms of Jesus in aramaic”Alahi”. Explaining the difference between the word “GOD or ilah in arabic” and “ALLAH” is another matter, long to explain here. Debates about this difference are turned in to battle due to illiteracy in knowledge.

Those 99 names what we call “Asma ul Husna” are the sheeps which are bound to the One. They all come from the One.

These 99 names manifest within the universe. But manifests with all names as “ALLAH” on the perfect man only. The word manifestation is a dangerous word and used wrongly in Christian literature. It is perceived as entering in to something and many Christians think that God manifested in flesh as Jesus. So they come up with crazy statements saying Jesus is God and fall in blasphemy. The person who coloured with the names of God and acts with the qualities of these names are not GOD. They are the people who beat their ego and become pure servants to GOD. They are neither joined to GOD nor separate from HIM. They are prophets or Insan-Al-Kamils(perfect human being, saints etc. although there are differences between the titles on saints in Sufism). Name “ALLAH” brings all the names together and combines them in to ONE. So When a person says ALLAH, he says all 99 names without knowing. ALLAH lended a bit of his names to human being . So in the seed of every human being, there are his names and adjectives in different combinations as potential!…

” And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful.” Al-Bakara 2/31.

“Say: “Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names…..” Al-Isra 17/110

See a list of names in the following link”http://www.islamicedfoundation.com/99names/99names.htm”

Human does not own these names, they are his 99 sheeps given to him for a period of time. Human can not be named with all of these names either. For instance “Ar-Rahman:compassionate one” is a special name of ALLAH and can not be used by a human being. Human has to use these names by acting in accordance with the laws of God. If he behaves according to the names, then he is coloured with this name. He needs to milk these sheeps to drink from their milk. But he needs to tackle the wolf(his ego, Nafs-I amara, evil commanding self) first as he is constantly attacking to him.

These 99 names are like the elements within the periodic table. They work in mysterious combinations and make alloys and composites. Sometimes these composites define other names. That is why the complete list of names are known only by ALLAH. This prayer said by prophet Muhammad sheds light on this issue:

(O Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, that You make the Qur’an the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety)

To benefit from the name “Al-Wahhab: The giver who gives without expecting any benefit for it”, he spends from what he has for the others without expecting anything from them. If he does this, he activates this potential name within him. He gets the benefit of that milk. If he shows mercy to God’s creation, he gets the milk from the adjective “Ar-Raheem: the merciful”. The person gets closer to God by getting the taste of these milks and being coloured with the colours of these sheeps.

“Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, said, “Allah has ninety-nite names. He who ‘ahsaha’ [enumerates them, believes in them, ponders their meanings, worships Allah by them and supplicates with them, and acts by them according to one’s belief in them] will enter Paradise. He is God other than whom there is no god, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the King, the Holy, the Source of Peace, the Preserver of Security…” The hadith continues to list ninety-nine names of Allah. ”

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Whoever ‘ahsaha’ will enter Paradise. (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Who is the lost sheep that man was looking for?
Well , I guess When we first recognise that 99, we will find 100th inshaallah(with God’s willing)!…

AND ALLAH KNOWS BEST…

With peace and love
Gariban

Thanks once again, Gariban, for bringing your knowledge and wisdom to this blog.  Your friendship is more valuable than you know…..