Back to Basics Series Part 2: The Search Continues…

At home, and at school, I was taught, and constantly reminded, that I needed to work hard and get good grades so that I could go to College.  Why?  So that I could get a degree, and with that degree, I could get a good paying job.  Why?  Because then I could afford to buy a nice house, a nice car, and attract a nice wife, and support nice children, and buy many of the nice comforts in life.  Why?  These things will make you happy.  After all, you don’t want to end up digging ditches for a living.  Can you imagine how miserable that would be?

Hummmm, I thought, maybe the ditch digger’s misery is no worse than the misery I would have to go through to get good grades, and to work my way through college, and to work for a corporation in order to get a good paying job, and to throw my hard earned money in buying goodies and people who may or may not make me happy?  After all, when I looked around at everyone in the neighborhood, they had all these things, yet, they didn’t seem to be very happy.  The next door neighbor was an alcoholic.  The man down the street, was a drug addict, another man had a gambling problem and was often visited by heavy looking thugs, several of the neighbors were engaged in wife swapping, my friends’ mothers were stressed out about the lines in their face or a couple gray hairs which made them look old, my parents were constantly bickering, and practically everyone was struggling to keep up the facade of being successful and happy.  And these were the country club set—the so-called successful people in life.  Did I really want to grow up and become like them?

infant-in-spirit

Shortly after graduating from high school, I realized I was not who I thought I was: a medium sized, 17 year old body, with brown hair, green eyes, and enough smarts and abilities to help me succeed in whatever endeavor I chose.  This was a very liberating realization, but at the same time, it was a death of sorts.  My attraction to the material world, and to all that was previously meaningful to me, was dwindling, dying away; and my attraction for the spiritual had been awakened.  It could be said that I had been reborn in the spirit.  But I was an infant in the spirit.  My spiritual knowledge was almost non-existent, and I didn’t know what to do—what action to take with this newly found world view.  Where does one begin when searching for his essence and function in life?

It will be worthwhile to take a look at the enlightening 3-part video series based on the life’s essential questions viz. essence, position and function offered by Science of Identity Foundation. This video discourse is spoken by Acharya Das, a student of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa.

Does it mean that I need to join a religion or church?  That was what I was thinking as I knocked on the front door of the pastor’s cottage at one of our neighborhood churches.  “What can I do for you, son?”  The pastor was tall, red-faced, and had a slight pot belly.  Through the screen door, I could see that the dining room table was set and that he was in the middle of lunch.

“Sorry to disturb you.  I have been going through a bit of a crisis and I was wondering if you have a little time to talk with me about it?”

“Yea, what’s the problem?”

“Well, you see, I had this experience where I realized I’m not this material body, that I’m spirit in essence, but I’m not sure how that all works and how I should conduct my life in a way where I can retain that realization.  Similarly, what about God?  Can you teach me about God—His Names, qualities and attributes?”

“Look kid, I’m real busy at the moment.  What I can tell you about God is that He is a Mystery, and that he works in mysterious ways.  Why don’t you come back on Sunday and listen to my sermon?”

“Yea sure,” I somewhat disappointedly said.  “Yea, sure…..I’ll do that.”

After visiting several other churches of various denominations and talking to pastors, deacons, fathers, priests, elders and so forth; and after repeatedly being told that God is a Mystery; I came to the conclusion that churches had a useful function in society, but were pretty much useless for one who is seriously seeking self-realization or knowledge of God.

Then, somehow, I was reminded of a verse in the Bible were Jesus stated that the Kingdom of God is within.  Having accepted this truth, I realized that my journey must turn inward, and that meditation was a vehicle to go within.  But how would I meditate?  Was there a certain technique to it, or was it just a process of self-analysis?  Who could teach me the proper way to meditate, what would I have to do, and where could I learn such things?

Well, lo and behold, not more than a few hours after these thoughts, I came across a poster advertising Meditation.  All I had to do was abstain from drugs and alcohol for two weeks and pay a $15 dollar fee.  In return, they would give me a personal mantra and teach me several techniques for meditation.    Well, abstaining was no problem, but at the time I was in between jobs and low on money.  Also, charging for spiritual knowledge didn’t sit well with me.  In my mind, that which is spiritual is the opposite of that which is material.  And since everything material has a price tag on it, then that which is spiritual should be given away freely.  And, besides, spiritual life is about love, and love cannot be bought or sold.  It is a condition of the heart.  Anyway, I put aside my doubts, and decided to go ahead and pay for the meditation class.  But in the end, all I could scrounge up was $13.95.

Surely, I thought, they would understand my situation and accept my money along with an IOU for $1.05.  I would be getting paid two days later and would be glad to pay the balance then, with interest.  But it was a no go.  The guy even had the nerve to say, “No money, no honey.”  Then he slammed the door in my face.

Encounters like this taught me, early on, that there are lessons to be learned from each and every experience.  This particular one taught me that the spiritual landscape is over populated with wolves in sheep’s clothing.  There are many people out there posing as concerned individuals, or spiritually advanced personalities, who are, in reality, using others for their own personal gain.  They pose as benevolent human beings, who have the utmost concern for others’ pain and suffering, but factually, they make their living by exploiting and manipulating vulnerable people for their own gain and/or purposes.  In contrast, a real spiritually advanced person is one who is self-satisfied, satisfied from within.  That satisfaction comes from being linked up to the pleasure potency, or loving potency of the Supreme Spirit.  Therefore, because he is full from within, he has no need for external gains. Instead, such a person externally radiates the love he is experiencing from within and is genuinely compassionate towards others and concerned for their welfare.  This type of person is very rare, but essential for guiding us on our path towards the Truth.  As such, it is mandatory that we develop the ability to distinguish between the self- interested pretender and our self-satisfied benefactor.

There are many easy methods of meditation that is available freely and it is easy. Anyone can practice meditation effortlessly by resting your heart and mind in the beautiful sound of the sacred mantras. The below videos will help you know to practice meditation by simply listening to these hand picked kirtan music sung by Jagad Guru and friends:

Eventually I learned that along with the Kingdom of God, God, Himself, is within. The Vedic literatures refer to Him as the Paramatma, or the Lord in the Heart.   So there are two souls in every body: the individual soul, and the super-soul, or the Paramatma.  The individual soul is trying to enjoy the fruits of his actions, whereas the super-soul is waiting for us to turn to Him, and is instructing us from within.  So, for starters, meditation is a process of quieting the mind and senses to the point where we can hear the Lord’s instructions from within.   When we begin to act upon those instructions, God starts taking an active interest in our lives, and suddenly the impossible becomes possible.

Have you ever been outside on a dark, dreary, cloudy day?  The clouds were very thick, and even though it was midday, there was little light to be seen.  Then, suddenly, a small ray of sunshine poked through the clouds and shined upon you.  You reveled in the joyfulness of that warm, soothing beam of light shining upon you.  But, alas, the clouds eventually covered that comforting beam again, and you were back in the dark?  Well that’s kind of how I was then.  I had received a small ray of God’s sunshine but, for the most part, it had dissipated, and I was still very much in the dark.  The ray had opened my eyes to the existence of the Supreme, but I was still covered by the darkness of material life.  However, now that I had faith in His existence, the Supreme Spirit began to invisibly take control of my life.

For instance, after learning how to silently meditate, I started to look for knowledge from the writings of many of history’s wisest men, especially our writers, poets, and philosophers.  The Transcendentalists were of particular interest to me:   people such as Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, Fuller, Whitman, Coleridge, Carlyle, Goethe, Tolstoy, James, Pound, Huxley, and many of the Indian swamis and Tibetan lamas.  I may have processed only a small portion of their bountiful knowledge, but I did start to notice some reoccurring themes.  And within these reoccurring themes, a few points stood out above all the others. It was as if the Lord had highlighted these points and framed them within a neon box, and the florescent lights were flashing, “Read this, Take note of it, It is Important.”

Learn meditation from self-realized yoga master Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa. By this video you can not only know how to make your meditation practice effective, but also how to practice at home.

The Science of Identity Founation attempts to present all helpful tools, resources and inspiration for your personal spiritual journey. You can also find many similar videos based on meditation and spiritual journey here.

The first thing that became clear to me was that many, if not most, of these authors had been profoundly influenced by the Bhagavad Gita book.  In his book “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau stated: “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”

Similarly, Aldous Huxley found the Bhagavad Gita “the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind.” He also observed that the Gita is “one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed.”

Tolstoy, Emerson, Whitman, Pound, Hesse and so many other literary greats also found wisdom and inspiration from the Gita and other Vedic literatures. Likewise, many inventors, psychologists, and intellectuals were inspired by the Gita. Einstein, Tesla, Schweitzer, Jung, and James are but a few.

Then, of course, the great Indian saints were even more explicit in their praise of the Gita.  Adi Shankara, the incarnation of Lord Shiva, and the original guru of the Mayavadi schools of thought, stated that:  “From a clear knowledge of Bhagavad-Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled. Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures.”

Similarly, Madhavacharya, the head of the Brahma Sampradaya (aka Gaudiya Vaisnava Lineage), also revered the Gita, and its mother book the Mahabharata:  “The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and pollen is the essence of flowers.”

In the late 1960’s, however, it was not common knowledge that so many great persons had been influenced by the Bhagavad Gita.  Personally, I had never heard of it.  Yet, the Lord was arranging my life in such a way that nearly every book I read had a reference to the Gita.  Even if a book contained just one obscure reference, I would manage to pick that book up, randomly open it, and surprise, surprise, that one little obscure Gita reference would glare out at me like a huge Hong Kong neon billboard.

The second recurring theme which grabbed my full attention was the need for a spiritual teacher.  The Indian authors used the word “guru.”  Plato had Socrates, Aristotle had Plato, Thoreau had Emerson, and so forth.  In the eastern tradition, it was mandatory that before becoming a teacher, one must first, themselves, be a student of a self-realized teacher.

It will be very beneficial to know about the Yoga view of the self and the need for an enlightened teacher. Please take a little time and listen to this short video by student of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupanda explaining on the same subject and we can receive the required guidance.

This process is clearly mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (4:34) where Krishna states: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master.  Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him.  The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”

Certainly, I learned a lot from my research and readings during that time; however it became crystal clear that these two essential points out-shadowed everything else: one needs to read Bhagavad Gita and to find a self-realized spiritual teacher in order to make rapid spiritual advancement.  I now realize that nothing was an accident, each incident was transcendently arranged for my benefit.  If I was a professional researcher and was consciously scanning the works of authors from the Western World, looking for material about the Gita or the need for a spiritual guide, I would most likely have better luck looking for a needle in a haystack. But, with God, all things are possible.  He guided me in selecting the books, He guided me in finding the passages, and He impressed upon my heart, and mind, the importance of those passages. Therefore, the next steps in my spiritual journey had already been determined without my conscious knowledge.

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After some time, I found a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in an old metaphysical book store.  I started reading it with great gusto, but soon found that I couldn’t understand the vast majority of it. Of course, a few texts would click from within my heart, and were very enlightening, but they were few and far apart.  I would often read a verse over and over again, but I still couldn’t grasp its meaning.  In my defense, the copy I had bought was not a good translation.  Later, I found a better translation and it made much more sense.  But its true meaning was still hard for me to capture. Finally, I came across a purport to one of the texts in which the author mentioned that for one to truly understand the Bhagavad Gita, one must study under the tutelage of a bona fide spiritual master and in the spirit of devotion.  Well, that was the final impetus I needed.  I immediately decided that I was going to sell all my possessions and travel to India in search of my spiritual teacher.

First, I dropped out of school.  Then, I bought a ticket to Europe.  From there I would travel overland to India.  I also bought my traveling gear: sleeping bag, knapsack, water container, utensils, light clothing, and so forth.  I was all excited, packed, and anxious to go.  Only problem was that my flight didn’t leave for another two weeks.  No problem, I thought, I’ll hitch hike up to Canada, visit a good friend, and be back in plenty of time for the flight.

But the powers above had other plans for me.  When I returned from Canada, I found that my gear had been stolen and that the ticket I bought was counterfeit. I had purchased it from a fraudulent travel agency, and they had skipped out of town while I was away.   So there I was: devastated.  I didn’t have enough money to buy another ticket to Europe, couldn’t get back into school, had quit my job, and didn’t even have a place to stay.  What was I going to do now?

Other Suggested Readings:

chaitanya-dancing
Enlivening & Inspiring – Sing and Dance to these Music
life-is-complicated
Back to Basics Series Part 1: Simple Living High Thinking
lotus-blossom
Cleansing the Heart by Singing the Holy Names
vedic-sriptures
Authority: Real And Apparent
life-is-complicated

Back to Basics Series Part 1: Simple Living High Thinking

Shortly after graduating from High School, my entire life was shattered. It was the summer of 1968 and, until then, I could have been a poster boy for the “All American role model.”  My grades were above average.  I was an all-around athlete. I’d been offered scholarships to several Universities, and I had realistic hopes of making the 1972 Olympic team as a pole vaulter.  I also had a nice girl friend, and was welcomed in just about any click at school: the so-called in-crowd, the jocks, the surfers, the nerds, the 4-Hers and most of the others. I’m not trying to brag or anything, just stating that I was basically your average all American Joe,and that life was going relatively well.  Of course, life is seldom great in high school, but my future looked promising.  Then, to my dismay, everything dear to me fell apart and faded into oblivion.

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By the end of June, I had moved out of my parent’s home and rented a house with some friends. Like most kids with newly found freedom, we were in the party mood. At one of those parties, I got a little too intoxicated; and feeling dizzy, I sat down alone and leaned against a wall. My roommate was playing his guitar nearby, and my somewhat altered mind was quickly captured by its wonderful sounds. I had never heard such beautiful music before.

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authority

Authority: Real And Apparent

Learning is a vital part of human existence. Whether it is learning on a physical, emotional, intellectual, artistic, or spiritual level, every single person has had to learn something from someone or somewhere. It is engrained into our psyche to learn from others who have more experience than ourselves. It is a natural instinct to watch and learn, or to inquire from others on how something is done. Children at a young age will ask a million questions.kids ask questions - learning from others

Throughout the different stages of life we grow, and with that growth our inquiries also grow from simple questions to deeper ones. And most of the time there is always someone available to answer our questions. But sometimes we might learn the answers ourselves through our experiences, through our own self discovery.

But nonetheless learning from those more knowledgeable than us is always present.

We learn from our parents, from our friends, from our teachers, from our peers, from our co-workers, from our bosses, from our spouses, etc. The learning never stops and neither do the questions.

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we weave

Oh, The Tangled Web We Weave

“SEVEN seconds, my dear friends.  SEVEN seconds.  That’s how long it would take for Mr. Browser to click away from or go on clicking towards YOU—your company, your product,” said the Facial-Care-faced guy in an impeccably tailored pin-striped GQ-inspired suit, some hotshot guru for business and market development in Asia Pacific for a leading net-system software.

“Ergo, marketing strategies have to be calculated at lightning pace. Throw away all you learned at business school,” added this amiable vanguard of the WorldWide Mess—er, Mesh.  “Don’t you ever doubt it: businesses will inevitably have to formulate new models at breathtaking speed.  Oh yes.  It’s a whole new ballgame.  An exciting, challenging ride to a great new world of unimaginable opportunities. Grab every chance you get.  You snooze, you lose.”

It wouldn’t be wild to surmise that almost the entire audience of dry-cleaned, cellphone-infected, espressoed-out yup-yup-yuppies listening to him that day were as awestruck as I at the forecast on the imminent tidal web—er, wave of internetization coming to sweep us into a world of clicking relationships.

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Make Fitness Enjoyable

There are so many people these days who have a negative mindset towards health and fitness; this is so unfortunate because on the contrary, it is the exact opposite.  Yes, there are many fanatics out there who are putting out negative messages to people, giving extreme advice to do fad diets and exercise routines that are unreasonable but this is not what’s necessary to live a happy, healthy life. If you simply think of fitness as a lifestyle, you can reach your goals happily and without suffering.

fitness lifestyle

The first step to obtaining a balanced life is to start taking small steps towards your goals. For example, replace something that is not healthy in your meal with something green. Instead of zoning out on your phone for twenty minutes, go on a little walk in nature and do a little yoga to get your blood cells flowing. Just the other day I was reading an article from some fitness personality that was saying that you should go on the treadmill rather than walking or jogging outside because you’re less likely to burn the necessary calories. As this may work for some people who think with calculating methodical mindsets, those of us with a more whimsical approach to life just cannot process this positively. Instead of slurping down that soda that’s full of sugar keeping those pesky pounds hanging around, make yourself a refreshing water infusion with lemon and mint. Remember that being extreme is a double edged sword, therefore moderation is your friend in the beginning.

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introspection

5 Reasons You Need Yoga In Your Life

We all need something. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a trip to the movies, or a sandwich, we all need something. Often times the things we actually need are elusive to us. Running through the hectic chaos that we call modern life, we often overlook the simple way of life. A quiet moment of peace, a walk in the park, or even your everyday sunset. We know we are missing something, but we’re either too busy to get it, or we are too focused on the hundreds of other distractions that arise daily. One thing we could all benefit from is a healthy dose of yoga now and again.

Here are 5 reasons you need yoga in your life right now

  1. Mental clarity – the power of being in the now
  2. Emotional peace and balance – whether in our personal or professional lives
  3. Physical Strength and Longevity – being in touch with your body leads to long term health
  4. Self-awareness – being in tune with how your environment is affecting you
  5. Self-discipline – being able to set goals and stick to them.

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Death by Overdose

I just read a figure that shocked me.  In the US over 40,000 people die from drug overdoses each year.  To be accurate, the last available statistic was 46,471 overdose deaths in 2013.  For comparison there were 35,369 car accident deaths.  In fact in many countries, including the UK, and Australia, over dose deaths overshadow road deaths.   This implies a huge number of people hooked on some type of mind altering substance, either illicit, or prescription.  In fact, prescription drug abuse is the larger part of the problem. The US Drug Enforcement Agency recently reported that prescription medication abuse is higher than use of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA and PCP combined, and kills more people than heroin and cocaine combined.  And then there is that elephant in the room; alcohol abuse.   Oh yes, we will admit there is a problem with alcoholism, but that is not us of course, not in our room.  The fact that 6 o’clock comes and I’m anxious if there is no sight of my favored tipple, is nothing to do with addiction!

International-Overdose-Awareness-Day-1

Actually we all take shelter in something, even if it is as innocuous as chips and the watching of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” or whatever other mind filler the black screen can offer up, or reading the latest trivia on our favored internet channel. So we can’t consider ourselves “better” than a drug addict.  It’s just that our situation appears less immediately dangerous.  We don’t tend to die from TV overdose.

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Enlivening & Inspiring – Sing and Dance to these Music

Listen to this Vibrant, Uplifting & Energizing musical video. This contains the chanting of holy names which don’t belong to any sect, country, or it is owned by someone other than the Supreme Person. In fact is a matchless gift by Him to help us realize our true position and discover ourselves, so that we can be happy and satisfied. We are fortunate to receive this gift from bonafide spiritual personalities from time immemorial.

In scriptures, it is rightly mentioned, “…The Holy Name alone can render all benedictions to living beings…”, this sufficiently confirms the necessity of our embracing these matchless gift of Supreme Person i:e the Holy Names.

The video is a masterwork with the images of devotees of the Lord dancing to the names and becoming happy from the heart. Additionally, the beautiful flowery animations and the transcendental pictures of the Supreme Person is a feast for the eyes. The visuals of budding saplings substantially hint at the spreading of seeds of love in our hearts. This is the growing love for the Supreme Person, if we have the love of the Supreme Person, we can actually be happy and satisfied from within. This is sung by Jagad Guru Chris Butler and other people follow after him.

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Cleansing the Heart by Singing the Holy Names

Listen to this wonderful devotional singing of Holy Names. These singing of Holy Names (or mantras) spread joy and happiness in the heart. This is not something falsely described to gain appreciation for the video. There is a deep reason behind this – these names possess the complete potential to purify from all kinds of uncertainty and anxiety. Because these names are not ordinary names and they do not belong to this material world.They descend from the eternal world through bonafide teachers.

These are transcendental, in other words these are spiritual sound vibrations. With gradual hearing to these names, you can taste the actual happiness. Such happiness far surpassed the short lived pleasures that are craved by most of the worldly people from material activities.

These holy names have originated from the Supreme Person (or God), who is omnipotent. He can descend in the form of His Names, it is so described in Holy Scriptures that the Names of God and God Himself are non-different.

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Enjoy Transcendental Singing of Holy Sounds

Experience a new sunrise in your life. Never miss this invaluable opportunity to be a part of the group singing of holy names – chanting the name of the Supreme Being – ‘Nitai Gaur’.

This joyful singing of holy names in a group is conventionally named as Kirtan – where a person leads the chanting of holy names and others follow the same.

 

Not Nitai Gaur is the only holy names – there are millions of names of God that can be chanted. From ancient times, it has been described that singing and chanting of the holy names have a profound effect on the hearts and mind. It washes away our deeply seated worries. 🙂

Undoubtedly we are always more or less overwhelmed by worldly things. If someone takes this message of holy names with faith and sincerity into their heart, he will experience a real change.

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