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.