Something to fill up the emptiness that we all know is deep inside. We pour endless amounts of content into our consciousness trying to fill the void – movies, music, books, magazines, twitter feeds, celebrity news, world news, political news, celebrity gossip, our personal gossip – but it’s all just empty junk that we are trying to fill our souls with.
Everybody needs a moment of peace and quiet every now and then. But nowadays that moment is just getting harder and harder to find. Our minds become more and more conditioned to the increased pace, the stepped-up speed at which the stream of empty content comes rushing our way, and so instead of blocking some of it out, our minds start to let more of it in. I wonder at what point are people going to just freak out and realize “Whoah. I have WAY too much useless information filling up my life.”
At what point is society going to stop and look at the cliff towards which it is headed?
Probably not till we’re already half-way down in free-fall. And then it will be too late. We’re not in our early 20’s with budding career possibilities and so much potential anymore. Suddenly we’re in our early 40’s, up to our necks with debt, house payments, car payments, maybe kids, maybe a career that we’ve ended up caring about. Our life is starting to be over before it’s even begun.
And we’re still assimilating more information. More stuff to fill our minds and the incessant need for something to fill our hearts. Our minds want to be active; they need to be active – and we don’t know any better way than to feed them with the information provided to us by the very helpful media – masters of providing endless streams of useless information.
When was the last time anyone stopped to think “Wait a minute. Why do I need to know about what actor X is doing in his life? How does it actually help me to know where actress Y took her vacation?”
But no. Fame is a powerful and strange thing that we cannot resist – its’ definitely important enough to warrant a large chunk of our time being devoted to it.
What people need to understand that the mind is not something that is out of one’s control. The mind is not and independent entity that cannot be brought under reign. We are also not the mind. “Even the most precious possession i.e. the brain is also not the mind.” The mind is a tool, and if we don’t learn to control it, it will end up controlling us.
We are in fact the viewers of the mind, much like we go to the cinemas to view a movie screen. We are the soul residing within the machine of the body, and we are watching the mind, observing all the information it displays to us. If we feed it good information, we will be viewing relevant and helpful images. If we feed it garbage and irrelevant content, we’ll get garbage back from it.
So if you think about it, the mind is actually a very useful tool and is separate from the self. This important topic is made very clear by the teachings & explanations by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda. All perception takes place in the mind only. The video from Science of Identity Foundation emphasizes the same in details. Watch it to know more..
Regardless of music’s being considered ‘good’ depending on personal preference or perspective, it is a fact that the majority of popular music today is worse than that being made 20 years ago. Style, beat, and genre, etc, are all subjective to personal opinions but it is undeniable that popular music’s content has suffered greatly in the past twenty years. In today’s top 40 hits you will hear from rappers all about their exploits as womanizers, drug users, party-goers and of course their badass reputation as a gangster; their puffed-up-chest stab at boosting their false ego and prestige above all others. Rock music has all but disappeared from the mainstream scene and whatever is left is strongly influenced by pop and hip hop, both lyrically and stylistically.
The devolution of music has a majority of reasons, not only in the evolving state of the music industry but also in the downward shift in public consciousness. Another factor is the changing shape of the landscape for emerging artists. And as more ‘talents’ are fed to the corporate music machine, less and less of the talent in song writing is coming from artists themselves. A YouTube hopeful can now get a record deal and be given songs to sing not of his/her own agenda but of that of the music label to which they are signed.
Hip hop and rap have taken a major upswing in the recent past few years and have taken their content right along with them to the top of the charts. Songs regarding women as sexual objects and not human beings, about a life of partying at the clubs and living in and out of a haze of intoxicants and drugs are a total commonplace thing. What was reserved twenty years ago to just rap or hip hop genres is now full mainstream music.
Music has been around since who-knows-when. It’s safe to say that it’s been around forever. And it’s obviously important. Music affects us in a way that not much else can. It has its own emotional and psychological territory, as well as its very own place in history. The aspect of music that very few people hear however, is of how it can also be a useful tool for spiritual enlightenment and self realization. Music can be used in the most effective spiritual practice in existence known as sankirtan, or kirtan. The kirtan process began in India some 500 years ago, originating from Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. This process of kirtan was widespread by Lord Chaitanya and His disciples due to its powerful spiritually cleansing effect. Today kirtan is widely regarded as one of the easiest and most effective ways for one to make spiritual advancement and develop spiritual understanding.
The way in which the kirtan program works is simple: a leader sings or chants certain mantras to a congregation, ranging from as few as 3 people to as many as a concert, after which the congregation repeats it back in turn. In case you’re wondering what a mantra is, unlike what most modern new wave teachings propose, it is not some far out word or strange scriptural hymn. A mantra is a name or a combination of names of God, handed down from authentic spiritual masters or preceptors, that purifies the mind and consciousness, and brings us closer to God and to self realization.
Now you may be thinking this sounds like a pretty formal solemn kind of practice of singing together but this is what separates kirtan from most other spiritual practices: it’s loads of fun. There are no hard and fast rules to the performing of kirtan. It can be done with guitars, with an accordion, with violins, with drums, or with all of the above. It can be practiced in almost any style of music, with any number and variety of people and voices. The key is to receive a bona fide mantra from a bona fide source. You don’t want a made in China brand, you want the real thing. And unfortunately in today’s world the real thing by way of mantras is all too rare and uncommon.
Today I wanted to talk about sectarianism and religion, objectively from a neutral standpoint. Religion undoubtedly plays a large part in human culture and civilization, and has been at the forefront of historical events. A large part of historical events have been directly or indirectly caused or influenced by religious belief. Christopher Columbus was inspired by his faith to set sail for the new world. Mahatma Gandhi secured India’s independence via messages inspired by spiritual teachings. Missionaries have always gone to new places and converted existing civilizations. The Crusades may be the biggest historical event tied to religion. The September 11, 2001 attacks and the war on terrorism are spurred by religion.
The problem is that religion as most people know it is an imperfect concept.
Religion is associated with different gods, different philosophies, different beliefs. But this is a contradiction.
Real religion by definition is the cultivation of one’s relationship with God, with the Supreme Being. It does not fall into categories like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. It is not subject to any one faith.
And this points to a glaring contradiction in people’s belief of God. Accepting that there is a God means accepting the existence of a Supreme Being. Referring to this Supreme Being as God means that He is above all laws and limitations subject to everyone in this world. People cannot decide that the “real God” belongs to Christianity or Islam. Or Hinduism or Buddhism.
Accepting the reality of their being a God means that there can only be one. If there is a Supreme Being, there cannot be other supreme beings challenging Him. There is no devil that can oppose God, and there are not multiple gods fighting among each other for the most followers or the most power.
Suggesting that there is a God means that you have to accept that there is indeed only one God. And since God is all powerful, and Supreme, is it hard to understand that He can have many names?
If real religion is the development of our relationship with God, then it must be possible that there are different “religions” or different ways that people develop their relationship with God. And this is the reality. Different people worship God in different ways, under different names, and in different cultures. But all religions are different branches of the same tree. They are all different methods of relating to God. It is also important to know our position and relationship with the Supreme Being.
And the teachings of religion have nothing to do with sectarian violence or religious wars. The teachings of God are all the same, and they all promote the same ideals and values like honesty, tolerance, compassion and self realization.
Fighting in the name of religion, or declaring your religion the only true religion or God is not real worship of God, and is not real religion.
Real religion is the understanding that there is a Supreme Being, and that we are all His eternal servants. Once one understands this, where is there room for conflict?
If there is a God, a Supreme Being, then we have to understand and accept that He is unfathomable and that we cannot understand Him with our limited intelligence. A Supreme Being is supreme. That is what makes Him God. We cannot impose any rules or regulations on God. We cannot decide that we know God’s will. We cannot decide for ourselves what He looks like, or who His children are.
And this is where you can start to find bona fide religious teachings, that originate from God, or that come from His representatives who appear in this world as saintly persons. Also on the other hand, we know for a fact that Jesus Christ was a real person who really lived some two thousand years ago. We know that he really did the things that people say he did.
Some might say, “How do we know that his walking on water was not some form of illusion or trickery? How can you prove that it was divine?”
Good question. How can one prove anything? Many people obviously witnessed the acts of Jesus Christ and saw that they really happened. And if Jesus Christ has stated to those people that he is able to perform these miracles or wondrous acts by the hand of God, then how are we to prove it?
This is where faith comes in. Faith means surrendering to the fact that God is beyond us, and that we cannot scientifically prove everything about Him. We cannot understand Him or everything He does.
One could argue and say that maybe Jesus was a time traveler from the future and that he brought back the necessary technology in order to perform his feats. Or that maybe he was just a master magician and illusionist. But if this is the case then how could he bring a man back to life? Or change water instantly into wine? Or create enough food for his thousands of followers? Or indeed walk on water? And if they were not miracles, then why has no one been able to again repeat these things with all the modern technology in the world?
These are acts of God that we must simply have faith in as being acts of God. This is acknowledgement of God’s supremacy, of His position as God, and a step of surrender in accepting Him as God.
And in having some faith, we can start to understand the true meaning of religion.
I just had a long phone call from a friend who had trekked off to help an old family acquaintance/distant distant relative, way out in the wop wops in Australia. This was a rich family with many properties, and that word in Australia implies very large land holdings indeed. Usually such properties were/are used for meat production, raising “beasts.” (As a practicing yogi, attempting to live to a standard of ahimsa, or non violence I am vegetarian. No further comment at this time!) The last time she had visited them was 30 years ago with her mother and they had stayed in a gracious old Queenslander.
The then matriarch of the household had been both artistically and practically inclined and these propensities were expressed in her many hand carved furniture pieces, as well as beautifully carved doorways and architraves. Maybe a decade ago death came and the carver went. Family squabbles over the will and who should get which property or live in which homestead have meant that a number of these old houses have stood empty for years, floors littered with rat poison, and rat and mouse traps. My friend was distressed by the use of rat sac, because it causes so much pain in killing those animals unfortunate enough to eat it. Not a quick death and not a pretty one.
But she was also distressed, disturbed, by the state of the house she had stayed in as a younger woman. It was a ghost of its former self. Wallpaper was hanging from the wall. Windows were broken. Valuable antique furniture was out on the verandahs, being destroyed by the elements. She could picture the entrance of dingos and other wild life, and see the evidence of termites. This experience was repeated as she was taken to each of these remote forsaken old homesteads, travelling along dirt roads where seasonal storms meant that plants had just been returned to a temporary green, and that there were continual bodies of water lying alongside and over the road, not yet having soaked into what had been the impervious rock like surface of the long time water starved soil.
I read her the following poem by a dead NZ poet, Dennis Glover, which these old farmhouses recalled to me.
“When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm The bracken made their bed and Quardleoodleardlewardle doodle The magpies said Tom’s hand was strong to the plough and Elizabeth’s lips were red and Quardleoodleardlewardle doodle The magpies said Year in year out they worked while the pines grew overhead and Quardleoodleardlewardle doodle The magpies said But all the beautiful crops soon went to the mortgage man instead and Quardleoodleardlewardle doodle The magpies said Elizabeth is dead now (it’s long ago) Old Tom’s gone light in the head and Quardleoodleardlewardle doodle The magpies said The farms still there. Mortgage corporations couldn’t give it away and Quardleoodleardlewardle doodle The magpies say”.
The difference with the situation my friend was describing was that there were no mortgage corporation or financial difficulties involved, but rather family dissent and squabbling. But that is a side point, I was heading towards a bigger issue. She told me how the experience reminded her of a series on television which projected what would happen to all the edifices, the buildings, the bridges, the monuments, the very roads themselves, produced by our civilisation, if humans suddenly all died out. Without the constant human effort to maintain, for instance, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it would rust, disintegrate, buckle, and eventually bow to the law of gravity, sinking into the ocean it currently arches above. Dust and dirt would cover the roads and seeds would germinate, their roots tearing up the asphalt, until there would be no road to be seen.
The series had been produced prior to 2011, but time was shown to be capable of destroying the Twin Towers just as effectively as any flown planes, if in slower motion. I said I could certainly understand the feeling of sadness, of nostalgia for what once was and was no longer, that she was experiencing, but that there was an important point to be learned from this. She said, what, that everything can revert to Nature again so easily? And yes that is true, but that wasn’t quite what I was getting at, and she clicked… Ahh, everything is so temporary. And so it is. In this world, nothing lasts forever.
I was clearly in a poetic mood so I read her Shelley’s classic Ozymandias:
“I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear —
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.’ Nothing we create will last forever, neither our statues, nor our reputations. And as my friend then noted, neither will the natural features, the mountains themselves wear down.”
Yet I, the living entity within the very temporary mortal body, the atma, am eternal. As such I feel always a contradiction, a disjunction between my natural eternal nature and the temporary environment I find myself in. I develop attachments to people, places and things, just to have them ripped away from me. I identify with the form of my temporary body, and never feel safe or at home because deep down I know it is not going to last. The clock keeps ticking, very slowly, but very surely. I get attached to where the hand of the clock is pointing, and like a vine I grow around its current location, but as the hand moves onwards, ticking another stroke, the fronds I have wrapped around the second hand are ripped off, and I grow more fronds wrapping them around the current situation, the place the second hand is right now, only to have them ripped off again at the next fatal tick.
The experience is continued suffering, like the story of Prometheus who was punished by being bound up, his body liver eaten each day by vultures, then growing back at night, just to experience the same thing again. If this seems extreme, consider the range of suffering we can experience, related to this conflict between our natural desire for eternality, (natural because we ARE eternal, and even if we don’t realise that now, on a deeper level, it is a part of our existence, and the effect of that will always be there. So sometimes the suffering is less intense – we call it nostalgia, a hopeless desire for things past.
I described to my friend a poem on the subject that I could no longer identify or rediscover, in which the poet describes being a child seated under his mother as she played the piano, and the intense nostalgia the memory brings. (If anyone knows this poem, I’d love to find it again, I find myself nostalgic for the poem on the subject of nostalgia… sometimes we like to poke a bruise to see if it still hurts.) And sometimes that suffering is overwhelming, as when a loved one dies, or we ourselves are ripped from our body. We need to know what is true lasting and eternal love. Nostalgia Do you too know the feeling Of years’ impressions peeling back at the sound Of guitar’s riff stealing through cobwebbed sad centres? Or the sight of lad walking Beside mother, talking, Sunshine on blond hair blowing around? Such memories abound.
And the tug is revealing How tightly bound. The cog rolls relentless The flesh grown around rips at each second’s sound Like vulture torn body, Prometheus bound. But fortunately, although we are eternal our bonds are not… We can choose at any time to turn towards the eternal, and develop our attachments in that realm. In that realm there is no second hand, there is no time, there is no dissolution. If we wrap the tender fronds of our attachments around the eternal Supreme, we risk nothing. Time cannot conquer such bonds; instead we are moved into the eternal atmosphere, even while still in our temporary bodies in the temporary world.
This is the point of yoga, union with the Supreme, a loving union, soul to Supreme Soul, an eternal personal relationship that provides everything the eternal personal soul could ever desire.
When we use the term happy , most often things like having fun watching the movies, playing some video games, eating some delicious food or experiencing some time on the beach comes to the mind. But is that really satisfying, and is that what happiness is all about ? If it is then surely many would agree that this kind of happiness is very temporary, unsatisfying and is superficial. It does not lead to contentment and harmony.
I desire happiness, in fact we all desire deep satisfying and lasting happiness.Where can we find it, where will we find the happiness that can quench our aching empty hearts, and let us experience real contentment, satisfaction, tolerance and care for each other. Currently because we are so empty we are trying all sorts of things to satisfy ourselves and end up fighting among each other for things which we believe will satisfy us. Unfortunately none of what we desire in this material world ever fully satisfy or make us deeply happy. if it did then all the rich nations would be full of bliss and won’t hanker for more.
In today’s world there is so much hatred, fights, anger and disharmony in the society. Even for small things we have wars and fights, things get really ugly very easily nowadays.There is fight over territories, racial wars and so on, someway or other there is quarrel nowadays. Mostly it is because of an attempt to get happiness or satisfaction in some way or other. Someone thinks if i get a million dollars i will be happy and satisfied, another thinks if i get a big job i will be happy, and so on, but we never stop to think that, people who already have those things are not really happy and we see those examples everywhere in our lives.
So we have to apply our intelligence to look for happiness in right directions or sources. From timeless scriptures & spiritual teachers, we have repeated mentions of where lasting peace and happiness can be found. The holy names of the absolute truth or sacred holy names of supreme person is the source of all happiness and blissfulness. This is where true happiness and satisfaction is to be found, in various scriptures there are plenty of clear mentions of how the sacred names heard from the lips of bonafide teachers is the source of permanent shelter & happiness.
Focusing on hearing the sacred sounds will gradually satisfy our hearts and help us to taste real lasting happiness.
I was walking through the nearby natural garden which has a river flowing through it, I noticed that the water doesn’t look as clean and clear as it was before. I have been noticing the change for quite a while, then I realized that we are really damaging the environment at a very fast pace. In like 6 months, the color of the river has darkened considerably and I could see lot more debris in the river as well. The trees in the garden were lot fewer and the air was not as fresh as 12 months ago.
Things are changing fast, really fast, something needs to be done or else we might as well make the world a difficult place to survive for our coming generation or even our kids. Millions of acres of forest area are getting deforested every year as I speak by giant corporations and also traders. The damage caused by pollution is very deep and its impact is long lasting as well. But people don’t seem to realise the seriousness of it. If each one of us decides to do something for the earth and its resources, then surely we can improve things a lot. Small things done by everyone will have a big impact on the earth and make things much better and cleaner. So I describe below some serious examples and simple steps we can take to negate pollution.
We have all probably heard about the world and environment being polluted and how dangerous this is, but most people don’t really bother to learn what really pollution is, what is causing it and most importantly, what its effects are. It is important that we know all of this because that way we know what we are dealing with and how to deal with it. To start off, the first thing that we need to know is that there are three types of pollution and that they are all very important. They are land, air and water.
So many times, we are fooled by perception and fail to know the real thing. A very simple example is the illusion in the desert, it looks so real, yet when we go near it we find that it is false. Similarly so many things we perceive as being truth or real is actually false. We think that we are the body or this body is mine, or that we won’t ever die because very soon medical science will make us immortal and so on. But deep deep inside we know that these are not true, and we also see plenty of examples in the world as well which clearly states that we are in illusion and not being realistic.
Many people think, that if they think +vely then the world will be a good place or things like the world is a great place already but we don’t see it. Unfortunately that is not a fact, millions of people are going horrendous, painful situations in this world every DAY, millions are suffering from tough diseases, many are suffering from family problems, many are suffering from lack of basic necessities of life.Millions are dying every day in some way or other. Things are getting worse for the environment, health and social peace etc as well, so there is no respite.
It’s about time to question or ponder about our existence, purpose and why are we here? where are we heading and what is this all about ? Let me know how you go. Keep a look at the next series of posts.