Monday, January 31, 2005

Quote to Remember

The following quote is something that I need to be reminded of regularly (as I am "in my head" too much) and applies not only to yoga, but to anyone who seeks God or walks the spiritual path.

"The young, the old, the extremely aged, even the sick and the infirm obtain perfection in Yoga by constant practice (Yoga=union with God, not just physical postures). Success will follow him who practices, not him who practices not. Success in Yoga is not obtained by the mere theoretical reading of sacred texts. Success is not obtained by wearing the dress of a yogi or a sanyasi (a recluse), nor by talking about it. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. "

(Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 1, verses 64-6)

While typing this out, I wondered what the text would look like with a more universal application and came up with this:

"The young, the old, the extremely aged, even the sick and the infirm find union and connection with God through practice and action. Only the one who acts in accordance with one's beliefs finds this union and truly knows God. We do not find this union simply by talking or by reading our sacred book(s). It is not obtained by saying the right things or by charading. Only the one who "lives it" has truly found what she/he is seeking."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Oh, you've GOT to be kidding me

In Tuesday's post I wrote about Divine Order and how everything happens exactly as it's supposed to happen.

That was before I saw the preview for the movie "Son of the Mask" starring (what has to be) the brother of the damn CGI dancing Ally McBeal baby and Jamie Kennedy.

I'm starting to see holes in my worldview.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Do it

Ok, do yourself a favor (and my wife) by visiting my wife's blog. She's so sad that no one ever leaves her comments. Go check out her funny perspective on things. Now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

On "Garden State" and Waiting for Perfection

Well, I never made it to Gethsemani. During this past weekend various events unfolded that spoke to my intuition saying that perhaps now was not the time to go. I have postponed my trip until later this year.

Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Kevin, I also watched the movie "Garden State" this past weekend. The film immediately jumped into my Top 10 list of favorite flicks. It spoke to me on so many levels and is both humorous and profound. And strangely enough it helped ease some mental dissonance that had been created while reading Paramahansa Yogananda's "Second Coming of the Christ" (a commentary on the 4 Gospels of the Christian Bible). Let me explain.

While this book ("Second Coming") is amazing and insightful, I do find one aspect of it with which I find I cannot resonate. Yogananda continually alludes to a philosophy that says that matter (our physical world) is BAD and the world to come (heaven/illumination/enlightenment) is GOOD. Time and again he speaks of how the goal of life is to eventually escape this Satanic and unbearable world and forever enter into the world beyond forms.

The problem with this philosophy is the same as the problem with Christianity's view of heaven and also its fascination with The Rapture (see "the Left Behind" series). In this view, the 'NOW' is constantly unbearable, incomplete, and marred. Physical form is simply something to be overcome: this world is incomplete and the next world is perfection. We put Salvation and Goodness OUT THERE somewhere and therefore have license to ignore the Salvation and Goodness of our present moment/circumstance.

"Garden State" helped me see the ridiculousness of this philosophy. The film is a story about regaining FEELING and EMOTION - both very "earthy" and "worldly"experiences. See, I believe that physical existence/life is to be embraced, created, and lived, not overcome. Spirituality can help us understand that this world is not ALL there is (that our true existence belongs outside of this world) but I don't believe it is to help us to leave this world behind entirely. Blogger Isaiah very frequently talks about Divine Order - that everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to happen. I believe this world is of Divine Order - we are here for a reason: to experience life with all its pains, joys, sensations, relationships, and apparent tangledness. Life is for the living. When I die I will experience nothingness and an escape from the world of form, but while I'm here, I'm going to live damnit. God is equally in the world of form as God is in emptiness.

Andrew Largeman: Fuck, this hurts so much.
Sam: I know it hurts. But it's life, and it's real. And sometimes it fucking hurts, but it's life, and it's pretty much all we got.

While spirituality teaches us that this life is NOT "all we've got," there is truth in this quote and it is this: Live fully. Experience and savor the variety of emotions and feelings of this world. Even while doing this you can still keep in mind that this world is maya (or illusion) and that no matter what you experience it will never hurt, harm, or affect your Eternal Soul.

Henry Miller said "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware: joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." Embrace your worldliness... your earthiness! Union with God, Salvation, Goodness, Peace, Perfection are not just future events - they can be found here as well. If we choose to Wake Up, we can see that they are indeed here and now - all around us in this crazy playground called The World.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

On Retreat

From Monday (Jan 24) through Wednesday (Jan 26) I will be taking a private retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani monestary in Kentucky. Gethsemani is the former home of famed monk and writer Thomas Merton.

I will spend a couple days in silence - reflecting, meditating, reading, planning, walking, etc. I will not be able to post until sometime late next week and at that point will share my experiences.

Until then, be well! Peace! Namaste!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Casting Shadows

A few days ago I walked into my Yoga/Meditation room and was struck by beauty. The sun was coming in JUST RIGHT through the window - casting a shadow of the Buddha and one of my "bookcases" upon the wall. I had to shoot this picture:

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Gleaning Meaning

I stumbled across this parable today in the Gospel of Thomas:

"Jesus said: The Kingdom of the Father is like a woman who was carrying a jar full of grain. As she walked along a handle of her jar broke off and grain trickled out, but she didn't notice. When she arrived in her house, she put the jar down and found it empty." (saying 97)

In the notes on that page it says that such a saying as this is "a unique example of what a parable of Jesus would have sounded like to an audience of his own time. If you find saying 97 shocking or puzzling or even flat-out incomprehensible, then you probably hear it as it was heard then."

Having said that, Jesus told stories and parables partly so that we might wrestle with their meaning. So, I ask you, the readers of this blog, to give your interpretation of this parable. There is no single "right" interpretation...such parables are vague so that we can each glean our own truths from it.

So, take a moment, read the saying a few more times, close your eyes, let the passage sit in your being in silence, and then when finished share with us what this passage said to YOU.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bitten of more than I can...


I am a complete book junkie. And right now I'm in the midst of TOO many books at once. Here we go:

  • "The Book of Secrets" - Deepak Chopra (almost done)
  • "The Better World Handbook" (just skimming: awesome ideas on little things to do make a difference)
  • "Light on Yoga" - Iyengar (haven't started)
  • "Anatamy for Hatha Yoga" (Studying a couple pages a night... over many years)
  • "A Brief History of Everything" - Ken Wilber (not sure I'm going to read this one)
  • "Gandhi on Christianity" (browsing)
...and on its way to my house:
  • "The Second Coming of Christ" - Yogananda (SUPER excited about this commentary of the 4 Gospels by Yogananda)
  • "Work with Passion" - Nancy Anderson
  • "Paths to God" - Ram Das (reflections on the Gita)
  • "Moving Toward Balance" (Yoga) - Rodney Yee (an 8-week practice)
  • "The Thich Nhat Hanh Collection" (3 books in one)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Gandhi on Preaching the Gospel

Question (Missionary): What is the most effective way of preaching the Gospel of Christ?

Gandhi: To live the gospel is the most effective way most effective in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. Preaching jars on me and makes no appeal to me, and I get suspicious of missionaries who preach. But I love those who never preach but live the life according to their lights. Their lives are silent yet most effective testimonies. Therefore I cannot say what to preach, but I can say that a life of service and uttermost simplicity is the best preaching. If, therefore, you go on serving people and ask them also to serve, they would understand. But you quote instead John 3:16 and ask them to believe it. That has no appeal to me, and I am sure people will not understand it. Where there has been acceptance of the gospel through preaching, my complaint is that there has been some motive.

(Q) But we also see it and we try our best to guard against it.

G: But you can’t guard against it. One sordid motive vitiates the whole preaching. It is like a drop of poison which fouls the whole food. Therefore I should do without any preaching at all. A rose does not need to preach. It simply spreads its fragrance. The fragrance is its own sermon. If it had human understanding and if it could engage a number of preachers, the preachers would not be able to sell more roses than the fragrance itself could do. The fragrance of religious and spritual life is much finer and subtler than than of the rose.

'Perception is Reality'

Some spiritual teachers would have us come to realize that the outside world is a complete illusion and that our reality (all we experience on a daily basis) is simply interior, personal, electromagnetic impulses. They would say that the reason we all experience the same reality, then, is because (not unlike The Matrix) we are all hooked up to the same Operating System.

Whether that is the case or not, I really don't know.

What I am realizing, however, is how much our interpretations and perceptions certainly do become our reality. In other words, its just a good reminder that how we respond to the happenings in our lives makes all the difference.

We can either choose to see the world as full of accidents and chance or we can see everything as intentional and meaningful. We can interpret interactions with others as mundane or as interactions with Divinity. We can let the day roll by without paying it any mind or we can see every encounter, highway billboard, overheard conversation, and freak coincidence as a message from God.

"Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Ok, I'm done for a while...

"What kind of bike do you have?"
"Eet's a Sledgehammer."
"Dang. You got shocks... pegs... LUCKY!
...ever take it off any sweet jumps?"

So I think I've watched Napoleon Dynamite probably* 7 times in the past week and half. I really didn't want to like this movie since it's pretty much* the "It" movie to watch now-a-days. But, alas, it has captured me in its captivating spell.

Curse you, Napoleon, for stealing multiple hours of my life. You're such a flippin' IDIOT!

(*ever notice how many times Napoleon says 'probably' and 'pretty much'?)

I've got Good News!

It just so happens that Yahoo is my internet 'homepage.'

And every morning when I check my email I see the daily news in the right hand corner - 6 or 8 headlines about happenings in the world.

Today, like many days, over half of those headlines were about deaths. Now, I realize that we need to be aware of tragedies in the world, but this morning I had just "had enough." I silently wondered if there were News organizations, websites, or newspapers that were determined to share only the POSITIVE, or at least a BALANCED version of, the news.

As it turns out - other people are WAAAY ahead of me. (See Yahoo Category for 'Good News' here).

As I browsed through the different 'Good News' sites, I found this one to be the best: The Great News Network. Free of advertisements, this site gives updated news under the following categories: Environment, Health, Media, Science, World Events, and World Markets.

Swing by there and check out this really cool site ... and while you're doing that, I'll be resetting my 'homepage.'

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Black Elk asked the thought-provoking question: "What is an advancing civilization advancing toward?" This topic has intrigued me as of late - the issue of Progress.

There is no doubt that through technology and progress we have made significant strides in many arenas - perhaps most importantly in health, medicine, and heralding the rights of some people groups. For example, I took my daughter in for her vaccinations yesterday and I know that the shots they gave her may very well save her life. These shots, no doubt, came about through technology. And the Civil Rights movement, through 'progress' has helped shape our world's view of equality.

And yet...

I cannot help but ask myself:

  • Where are we headed?
  • When is enough enough?
  • When will we say 'THIS IS IT!'?

Indeed, this is the fundamental error. We don't believe that we are 'enough' JUST as we are. We consider ourselves "in lack." We project salvation and perfection to some future imagined state that will never arrive. So we pave over woods and streams and build more, we work harder, the advertisers tell us that their products will fill us up so we buy more stuff to make us feel complete - and because those things can never "fill us" we start the insane cycle over again - and again -

But this got me thinking, especially in regard to last week's post about the CYCLES of life: Through all of this technology, have we progressed anywhere? Are people happier now than 500 years ago? More peaceful? Have stronger families? Less crime? Less war? Is the gap between the rich and poor growing smaller? Is there an astounding sense of fulfillment in our modern world?

The unfortunate answer is no. None of those, actually. And I'm not being cynical or judgmental, it's just FACT. And yet technology has become the Golden God that is to be sought after no matter the 'negative' effects it brings to our land, our health, our families, our lives, our world.

Put simply: You are enough. You have enough. You don't need one more thing. Try not to buy the lies of advertisements that tell you that you'll finally be happy when you have what they're selling. Why do we expect tomorrow to be better than today? - Yes, everything moves in circles. Even our progress will someday subside and return back into nothingness - let's hope by CHOICE rather than CALAMITY, though it will happen either way. Don't put so much stock in the future. Live today - this moment - like it's all you'll ever have or need. Indeed, it is.