Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Time

Outside in this city of images of Los Angeles, the world swirls about in madness in this time of celebrating the birth of Spirit and inner Peace. All of Nature, in this time of the longest night, reminds the humans to quiet one’s life and look inside, to make room for contemplation. But in this city, and all the cities of this land, the bright lights of advertisement signs pull us away from traveling upon our breath into the cradle of our souls. And to the malls we run.

O fools, run you hither and tither
To buy things that will only fade away.
With smiles and bright packages
You give gifts that will last
As long as a thought.

You scurry around
Like rats on a warehouse floor,
Cursing and fighting each other
Over crumbs you plan to give with love.

Review your gifts
And see what you wish to get.

What promotion might you receive?
What appeasement of a familial should?

What does the Master give
At this time of celebrating
The birth of the Master?

Nothing more important
Than the blessing of a smile.

Why does the Master smile?
For he sees things as they really are.

He smiles at himself.

Under the heavy foot of time,
As gifts break
Or are torn asunder
Or crumple into tangled shapes,
The smile of the Master never fades.

Why should it fade
When the Master is safe from time?


Smile with the knowing of who you are
In the Peace of the Spirit
Of this day.

Go into the quietude
Of the cavern of the Self
And know the Truth.

There is no one to give a gift to;
No one from whom to receive.

Be your Self.
Free from the rampage of time.

And smile.

Smile upon your Self.
And thus smile upon the world.

-- excerpt from my book, Footprints Along the Shore of an Incoming Tide.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Expectations

"Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your self-realization."--Nisargadatta, I Am That

The mind likes its orgasms and says you are not fulfilled until you have them. So we have created a culture full of O's, with our entertainment, our consumption of things, our vain pursuits. Even in our spiritual lives, when we turn away from the fruitless material quests, that habit of looking for the Wows still holds sway, and we think we have to have Hollywood-like moments where angels descend and burning bushes speak and flying saucers land and aliens tell us that we are the One to become divine, to become accepted by God. Sure these things can happen, just like orgasms can happen, but they come and go. Mere phenomena. Looking for such experiences, which is the allurement of psychotropic drugs, is what Trungpa called "spiritual materialism."

I have a 4-year-old son who finds the wonder in the commonplace as he watches a leaf fall or finds a mushroom on a stump. If we really want the Wows it is all around us because it is within us. We don't need to manufacture it or seek it out. The real ecstasy is just being oneself, whether in a state of excitement or in tranquility. It does not matter. The rider of this physical/emotion/mental/spiritual roller coaster is the one to be focused upon, who smiles enigmatically amidst the screams and ahhs of this adventure.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Underground History of American Education

The Underground History of American Education, by John Gatto is a must read for anyone who has or will have children going through school and for all teachers. John Gatto, who was a long-time public school teacher, who was given the award of New York's Teacher of the Year, has done extensive research to the roots behind our "failing" public school system.

Personally, I as a child loathed school. I felt it a prison and escaped daily, drifting away in day dreams while the teacher droned away about something I had no interest in. It was only when I went through my Waldorf Teacher Training and subsequently when I became a Waldorf teacher that I found that education can be a fulfilling experience for both student and teacher alike. In comparing my experience in teaching in Waldorf education and hearing the experiences of teachers teaching in the public system I could not teach in the public school system and have felt that what the children was subjected to was criminal, for instance, this new push to have kindergarten children have less and less free play so they can focus on academics to prepare them for 1st grade. This book has laid it out clearly in horrifying details as why it is criminal and to the intentions behind this compulsory education.

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." --President Woodrow Wilson

Look at what we have created: a society where its citizens predominantly go through years and years of a boring and pretty much worthless education that does not teach citizens how to think and question, how to love and make their world more beautiful, how to work with their hands and do meaningful work. Then when the schooling ends most likely these citizens will land a job where there is no security and more meaningless work is done until the citizen's only reward for this heartless occupation are diminishing wages to consume gadgets and unhealthy food that only brings suffering to the earth and no relief to the void in their souls. Society, thanks to the likes of Carnegie, Ford, Morgan, Rockefeller, has become a social factory of consumers, with an elite at the head of the pyramid. And our President, who has promised hope for change, wants our children to stay in school until dinner time and to increase the days out of the year our children are subjected to state indoctrination.

Wake up! people, and protect our children from living a senseless existence.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Real World

As I found myself today with my mind spinning over the faults in my world, the imperfections of myself and others, about how the world should be by the way I want it to be, I finally got a chance to sit quietly in contemplation. I then randomly opened "A Course in Miracles' and "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi" and I was gently brought back to my knowing.

Sit quietly and look upon the world you see, and tell yourself: "The real world is not like this. It has no buildings and there are no streets where people walk alone and separate. There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things they do not need. It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim. There is not loss. Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever."--ACIM

Does the realized being tell you that the world is full of pain? It is the other one who feels the pain and seeks the help of the wise saying that the world is painful. Then the wise one explains from his experience that if one withdraws within the self there is an end of pain. The pain is felt so long as the object is different from oneself. But when the self is found to be an undivided whole who and what is there to feel? The realized mind is the Holy Spirit and the other mind is the home of the devil. For the realized being this is the Kingdom of Heaven. "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." That Kingdom is here and now.--Ramana

Friday, August 7, 2009

I have just finished Anastasia, by Vladimir Megre. It was recommended to me by a friend who owns a metaphysical bookstore after I told him about a dream dealing with Russians. This true story is about a very worldly Russian business man and his meeting with Anastasia who lives out in the middle of Siberia, with little or no clothing, no shelter and her food supplied to her by the creatures and plants around her. For most readers this story will be far fetched to be believed. And I had my doubts halfway through it, even after having the joy of meeting such extraordinary people in my journeys. However, after attempting to connect with her and getting an immediate "electrical charge" and a subsequent dream, I have no doubts that this being exists. And we are lucky that she does. She is a complete embodiment of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, of what an evolved Human is to be. This book is filled with her amazing insights that are reminiscent of Rudolf Steiner's. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to invite some sweet purity into their lives.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Rider in the Sky

O God, I saw in the sky the other day
Wisps of cloud in the shape of a horseman,
Scattering the other clouds with his cry.

The walls of city towers shook,
And the birds in the sky flew silent;
Yet no one in the city did hear;
No one in the city did see.

Who was this rider across the sky?
Was it truly one of the four the preachers and priests
Have thumped over their congregations’ heads
With the threat of the wrath of You?

I cannot but laugh at the thought of You filled with wrath.
It is like the sky filled with fish.

I know this horseman,
Whose name is Death,
Has been sent not from You,
But from human minds.

How is it that the Eternal
Can know this specter called Death?
Can water know this thing called dryness?

Only those who continue to believe
They are nothing but a bag of flesh and bones,
Who know not the Self,
Will meet this lord of death,
Who rides howling across the sky.

Yet the very ones who created such a god,
Stare straight ahead as they speed down the road,
To lock themselves in little cubicles
And to turn on the magic box.

Lest they see that ride,
Lest they hear that cry.

O silly ones, who close your eyes and ears,
This rider comes not to destroy.
He comes to be released from time’s unending task.
He cries to quit, to walk away from his job.

But no one hears him.
No one sees.
So he must rip apart bodies and draw away breaths,
To knock down the towers and tear away the cubicles,
Until his creators have cried out:


Until they have looked inside and found the Eternal Self,
Where Death is dissolved like a spider’s web
Licked by a dancing flame.

O seeker of God,
Know that this rider of the winds
Is the greatest of friends.

He will only touch you
If you see me and you,
And you chase after this and that,
And think your happiness is but outside.

While, at the same time,
you build security boxes
To keep that same outside from coming in.

Janaka has heard this cry
And has seen this ride,
And has laughed with his pants around his ankles,

As the rider galloped to run him down.

--"Footprints Along the Shores of Time," Janaka Stagnaro

Friday, July 31, 2009


From "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi"

D: Can fasting help realisation?

M: But it is temporary. Mental fast is the real aid. Fasting is not an end to itself. There must be spiritual development side by side. Absolute fasting makes the mind weak too. You cannot derive sufficient strength for the spiritual quest. Therefore take moderate food and go on practising.

I opened up the book to that passage. This is the end of my fifth day on the Master Cleanser lemonade fast. It is a fast I have done many times. It is a great aid, I find, in not only giving my body a rest but quieting the mind with more sattwa (purity). Other fasts I have found overly taxing and debilitating. With this fast I am fully functional and with lots of energy. I have fasted for 14 days and I will see with this one. I highly recommend this fast.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Religulous": Rationalism vs. Faith

Last night I watched with my family the movie "Religulous." The docu-movie was about Bill Maher, an in-your-face-comedian, satirist, going around interviewing primarily fundamentalists and extremists from Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Many parts of the film was witty and his quick wit and mind logically ran circles around most of the interviewees (although admitedly he chose pretty easy targets). While I agree that fundamentalist interpretations of the various holy writs lead to unthinking dogma and thus to blind, and at times, dangerous followers, I found the film left nothing else to offer people after his mind cut faith to bits. The movie and Bill's role reminded me of the left rational side of the brain trying to make sense out of the right irrational side. The logical side cannot make sense of the metaphysical world that is beyond cause and effect and the senses.

Religion, I believe, has a very valuable place in the world as a system of thought and codes, and each, through the saints and mystics, are shown as paths to the one summit. However, eventually, like a beloved worn garment, all religion must be cast aside in order for one to come totally naked without any pre-conceptions about the Beloved, Great Mystery. That which Is lies beyond all words and thoughts.

Bill Maher, while he may have been like Socrates in the film challenging peoples' "knowing," he could not lead us to that place beyond words, but only left us in the stark field of his jagged judgment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Self is One

The Self is One. Unmoving, it moves swifter tnat thought. The senses do not overtake it, for always it goes before. Remaining still, it outstrips all that run. Without the Self, there is no life.

To the ignorant the Self appears to move--yet it moves not. From the ignorant it is far distant--yet it is near.It is within all, and it is without all.

He who sees all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings, hates none. To the illumined soul, the Self is all. For him who sees everywhere Oneness, how can there be delusion or grief?

--"Isha Upanishad" from The Upanishads:Breath of the Eternal, translated by Prabhavananda and Manchester

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Be still! and KNOW,--I AM,--GOD.

KNOW I AM in you. KNOW I AM You. KNOW I AM your LIFE. KNOW All Wisdom, All Love, All Power abides in this Life, which is flowing freely through your entire being NOW.

I AM the LIFE, I AM the INTELLIGENCE, I AM the POWER in all Substance,--in all the cells of your body; in the cells of all mineral, vegetable and animal matter; in fire, water and air; in Sun, Moon and Stars. I AM that in you and in them which IS. Their consciousness is One with your consciousness, and ALL is My Consciousness.

--"The Impersonal Life"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guru Purnima--Honoring the Teacher Within and Without

"The Guru is both external and internal. From the exterior he gives a push to the mind to turn inwards. From the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quietening of the mind. That is Guru's grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self."--Ramana Maharshi

In the Indian tradition the full moon at this time is the day to honor your teacher. As someone said, if one has only oneself as a teacher then one has a fool for a guide. We all need teachers in any field we want to excel and master, except the very small minority of geniuses. Unfortunately, we get mixed up with being devoted and appreciative to a teacher, especially in the spiritual realm, to being consumed in an infantile adoration. Such adoration neither helps the teacher nor the student.

The teachers that have helped me along the way have been legion. In fact, I must say that everyone and every event (whether painful or pleasant) has offered to be my teacher in one way or the other, whether I was conscious enough to realize it at the time.

However, there are some teachers who have profoundly changed my life. There is Ramana Maharshi, whose glance has taken me to the Silence beyond the mind, and who whispers to me when I get all caught up in trying to figure this mystery called life and death--"Who are you?" There is Jesus who has taught me forgiveness by reminding me that I am eternally perfect and that no action could ever taint my Being, and has showed me the power of miracles by asking to see the Christ in all creatures. There is St. Francis who has taught me the joy of simplicity and the love of all creatures and manifestions of Nature. There is Ramakrishna who has taught me that all paths lead to the same Oneness, whether it is devotion to an Ideal Form or the realization that there is No Other. There is Rudolf Steiner, by his creation of Waldorf education, who has opened up a path of service in a world that had previously offered nothing for me. There is Karunamayi who has given me spiritual tools of mantras and who opened the door to Saraswati, the Goddess of art and knowledge, and who is a living embodiment of Sattwa or pure sweetness. To the great poets of Hafiz, Rumi and Kabir whose words have influenced mine in their unabashed devotion to the Beloved. Then there is Krishna who fills my heart and washes my face with tears, and Rama who has donned me with his golden armor of dispassion to take what the world throws at me. And finally Shiva (also manifesting as Yama), the Still Center, watching all things turn to ash and saying: Neti neti--I am not this, not this.

Blessings to all these and to all the great Masters who guide humanity out of ignorance and into the Light.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Unchanging Self

Some say this Atman (the Self)
Is slain, and others
Call It the slayer:
They know nothing.
How can It slay
Or who shall slay it?
Know this Atman
Unborn, undying.

Never ceasing,
Never beginning,
Deathless, birthless,
Unchanging for ever.
How can it die (with)
The death of the body?

--"The Song of God: The Bhagavad Gita," Prabhavananda & Isherwood

My favorite translation of the Gita

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Walking in Balance

"Seek the truly practical life, but seek it in such a way that you do not become blind to the spirit working in it. Seek the spirit, but do not seek it out of spiritual greed, but rather seek it because you wish to selflessly apply it in the practical life in the spiritual world."--RUDOLF STEINER

I have just returned from a week of studying at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks. For 12 hours a day I was filled with inspiration and ideas in the art of teaching 7th grade in preparation for the coming school year. All the the rich knowledge that I am to plow into as my class prepares to go into the year of the Renaissance means absolutely nothing to me if it was just for myself. Yet, being a teacher of a class of wonderful souls, this knowledge becomes an offering to them to help inspire them in their road of becoming beautiful human beings.

I see teaching, and everything for that matter, as simply an opportunity of being present, of having an open heart, and being open to inspiration from above. The classroom is but a setting and the work but props for love to find itself from one to the other.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Krishna Das

Last night my neighborhood in Santa Rosa had a healthy potluck and then we walked over en masse to chant along with Krishna Das. As usual his music created a highly charged devotional setting. It has been a while since I have had the joy of doing kirtan (Indian devotion call and response) and it felt good to weep devotional tears. While there is only One in Truth, the wonderful and mysterious leela, or divine play, which has the One appearing as many, is joyous to play as devotee and the Beloved. There is nothing in the material world that can offer anything that compares to the bliss of feeling the loving Presence of God. Regardless of traditions, whether they be Gregorian chants, Tibetan, Native American, Sufi, Vedic, etc., the intention and power behind them are such a spiritual balm for me.

In all of my lives you have been with me; whether day or night I remember.
When you fall out of sight, I am restless day and night, burning.
I climb hilltops; I watch for signs of your return; my eyes are swollen with tears....
It's your beauty that makes me drunk.--Mirabai, Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Celebrating Father's Day

Father! - to God himself we cannot give a holier name. ~William Wordsworth

I have just returned from a bike ride with my younger son. Besides the joy of being with my child on this day that celebrates fatherhood, I also felt the silent tangible embrace of That Which Is that can be so readily apparent in Nature for me. I called my father and left a message thanking him for his role of being my father. Although he is by no means without his shortcomings, knowing that there is a far greater "Father" has allowed me to forgive my dad his human imperfections and to accept mine as well in regards to my fatherhood. Fatherhood is but a role, a challenging one at that. It is an ongoing art form that can never be perfected. There can never be a perfect parent on this imperfect earth , every human, even if the most enlightened, has to work in the prism of being in a human body. My dad was one prism I have had the pleasure of being a son to, I am one prism and every father is a prism;but there is only one light shining through us all--our true Father.

I want to thank my earthly father for showing how to be: stoic when needed, strong, able to sacrifice one's own personal wants for the greater good of the family, able to tend an ailing wife for so many years, a gentleman with good manners, impersonal, one of few words in speaking while having a love for words, one who is disciplined and orderly, one on the outside who loathes (like Emerson) the herd, simple in one's needs, one who one who loves to travel . . .

May everyone find something for which to thank their dad and forgive them for all the mistakes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Just as a dreamer is foolishly alarmed at his own dreams or as a fool is deluded by the serpents created in a magic performance, so also the man ignorant of the Self is terrified."--Tripura Rahasya

Where is the fear when there is no other? Fear can only happen when there is a belief that there is something outside omnipresent God. Which of course cannot be by definition alone. And if one is inside of God and God is inside (which has to be if God is omnipresent), and thus no separation between God and the Self, then fear is only a delusional thought of the ego that believes it is separate, alone and confined to a body that is only here a moment and awaits the inevitable hand of death.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Love includes All

"...exempt no one from your love, or you will be hiding a dark place in your mind where the Holy Spirit is not welcome. And thus you will exempt yourself from His healing power, for by not offering total Love you will not be healed completely."--A Course in Miracles

The Law of Love is simple: What you give you receive. If you offer love to all, then you will receive all of Love and be loved fully.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Heat of Spring

The Heat of Spring

Spring has come to this Bay
And with it a burning—
A burning so hot
It has cooked the waves of my dreams,
Washing me upon the shores of Consciousness,
In a bubbling bath of time.

In my hands I hold bloodied shears
Over the feathered pile of wings,
Reminding me of chickens plucked in Cameroon,
Soon to be washed down by beers.

I have tried, God,
You know I have,
To fall from my knowing of You,
To plunge into this House of Matter—
A house with a great wardrobe of pressed costumes,
Waiting for bodies to adorn;
Not one of them fit for flying.

And so I’ve cut and cut
And sometimes torn,
Trying to forget Your Name.

Then, just when I think
I have found my tailored suit,
Trimmed and measured by the footsteps behind,
Your Name I hear once more,
Uttered by one of Your Lovers,
And again such a fashionable garment
Becomes ruined by the sprouting of wings.

Oh, how the nights burn and burn
With its molten waves of dreams,
Cooking me just like one of those chickens.

However, I know, God, I know,
That behind the scorching heat
Of shredded wings,
Comes the cool Hand of fog.

--Janaka Stagnaro