December 24, 2015

O' Cosmic Birther

O cosmic birther of all radiance and vibration!
Soften the ground of our being and create a space within us 
where your Presence can abide. Fill us with your creativity 
so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what 
each being needs to grow and flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that binds us, 
as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes. 
Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true 
purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth-power 
and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again.

- Neil Douglas-Klotz from Original Prayer: 
Teachings and Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus

December 1, 2015

Awaken to Wisdom

Wake up! It is time to wake up!
You are young, strong, why do you waver,
why are you lazy and irresolute?
This is not the way to wisdom.

Be strict with speech, control your mind,
let not the body do evil.
This is the way to wisdom,
these the three roads leading to it.

Meditation brings wisdom,
lack of meditation is folly.
These are the two roads,
one leading forward, one backwards.
Choose the right one,
the one that leads to wisdom.

Not one tree – cut down the whole forest!
There is danger in the forest.
Cut down the forest of desires, O man,
and discover the road to liberation.

Take the ego like an autumn lily-
and snap it with your fingers!
Proceed then on the path to Nirvana
with one who has reached as your guide.

“This I choose for my winter home;
this for the monsoon, this for summer.”
-The words of a fool.
He fails to see his final destination.

Like floods that come and sweep away 
a sleeping village, death descends on the drowsy 
mind greedy for children and cattle.

Nothing saves!
Not father, not sons, not kinsmen.
They cannot save a man from death.
Therefore, think deeply.
Like the wide and virtuous man,
stay on the path that leads to liberation.

Be a lamp to yourself,
Be like an island.
Struggle hard, be wise.
Cleansed of weakness, you will find heaven,
The land which few find.
Life is over, and you stand
In Death’s presence.
O unprepared for the journey,
There is no rest on this road!

Be a lamp to yourself,
Be like an island.
Struggle hard, be wise.
Cleansed of weakness, you will find freedom,
From birth and old age.
As a smith removes flaws in silver,
A wise man removes flaws in himself,
Slowly, one by one, carefully.

Iron breeds rust, and rust devours iron,
So ill deeds devour their doer.
As a house unrepaired decays,
Goodness unrepeated declines.
Neglect of one’s appearance decays it,
Neglected, the mind stagnates.
Impure the calculating giver;
Impure are all evil deeds
Now and forever.

But nothing is more impure, 
O man, Than ignorance.
Cast aside ignorance, and all becomes pure.
Life is easy for the shameless crow-strutter,
The mischief-maker, the minder of other people’s business,
The insolent and the evil-minded.
Hard is life for the humble man,
Hard for the pure, the clear-thinking,
The disinterested, and the gentle person.

Who takes life, tells a lie,
Covets others’ wealth, commits adultery,
And surrenders himself to strong liquors,
Even in this world, digs his own grave.

Listen, O man!
Indiscipline begets evil.
Avarice and ill deed bring long misery.
No fire like passion, no jailer like hate,
no snare like delusion, no torrent like craving.

How easy to see the faults of others–
we winnow them like chaff.
How hard to see one’s own!–
We hide them, like cheating at dice.
How will he destroy his own passions,
who rouses them by watching others’ faults,
who is forever finding something to condemn?

There is no path in the sky,
there is no refuge anywhere!
All is of the world, worldly–
only the Buddhas are free of the world.

There is no path in the sky,
there is no refuge anywhere!
Nothing in the changing world is unchanging–
only the Buddhas are free from change.

Of paths, the best is the Eightfold,
the Four Truths are the best truths;
the best virtue is detachment,
best among men he who follows Dhamma.

This is the path.
It leads to insight. It liberates.
Follow it.

Mara the temptress is helpless before it.
End your suffering. Follow it.
This is my path, preached
after the arrows fell away from me.

Work out your Nirvana with diligence.
The Buddhas only set examples.
Those who follow Dhamma and practice meditation
are freed from the traps of Maya the temptress.

Whatever consists of component parts must perish.
It is wisdom to know this.
This knowledge destroys grief and leads to liberation.

Whatever consists of component parts is not the real self.
It is wisdom to know this.
This knowledge destroys grief and leads to liberation.
- Excerpt from Dhammapada

Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man.

-  Swami Vivekananda -

November 10, 2015

Kali Ma


The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds,
It is darkness vibrant, vocal.
In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics
Just loose from the prison-house,
Wrenching trees by the roots,
Sweeping all from the path.
The sea has joined the fray, 
And swirls up mountain-waves, 
To reach the inky sky. 

The flash of lurid light 
Reveals on every side 
A thousand, thousand shades 
Of Death begrimed and black — 
Scattering plagues and sorrows, 
Dancing mad with joy, 
Come, Mother, come! 
For Terror is Thy name, 
Death is in Thy breath, 
And every shaking step 
Destroys a world forever. 

Thou Time, the All-Destroyer! 
Come, O Mother, come! 
Who dares misery love, 
And hug the form of Death, 
Dance in Destruction's dance, 
To him the Mother comes. 

- By Swami Vivekananda

Sri Ramakrishna describes his first vision of the Mother:
"I felt as if my heart were being squeezed like a wet towel. I was overpowered with a great restlessness and a fear that it might not be my lot to realize Her in this life. I could not bear the separation from Her any longer. Life seemed to be not worth living. Suddenly my glance fell on the sword that was kept in the Mother's temple. I determined to put an end to my life. When I jumped up like a madman and seized it, suddenly the blessed Mother revealed Herself. The buildings with their different parts, the temple, and everything else vanished from my sight, leaving no trace whatsoever, and in their stead I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness. As far as the eye could see, the shining billows were madly rushing at me from all sides with a terrific noise, to swallow me up! I was panting for breath. I was caught in the rush and collapsed, unconscious. What was happening in the outside world I did not know; but within me there was a steady flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother." On his lips when he regained consciousness of the world was the word "Mother".

"Every Manifestation of Power 
In the Universe is Mother.
She is Life."

- Swami Vivekananda

October 24, 2015

Ma Durga

To look upon God as Mother 
is the purest and highest form 
of spiritual practice.
-Sri Ramakrishna

Vande Mataram
(Translation of Bankim Chandra's song)
by Sri Aurobindo

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving, Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease,
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother, I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands,
When the swords flash out in seventy million hands
And seventy millions voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call, Mother and Lord!
Thou who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foemen drove
Back from plain and sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath,
Thou art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother, lend thine ear.
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue, O candid-fair

In thy soul, with jewelled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free.

Durga Durga Ma-Ha-May-A 
Na-Mah DurgaYa
Namo Na-Mah

October 1, 2015

No Thought Zone

Sri Ramakrishna says retire to solitude and seek him with tears and spiritual discipline. Free of family and friends pray to God and make efforts to realize him. Churn the butter of the mind in solitude and focus on the heart center, the butter of love & devotion will prevail. In Silence, stillness, solitude as the inner witness is realized. Free from outer distraction by practice of Meditation we realize the oneness (Atman) within.

Seeking our true nature we connect with our inner peace devoid of ripples, thoughts and waves, distractions. The conscious awareness of the infinite space inside our heart will reveal inner purity, truth, love & bliss.

Thought vibrations (vrities) of the mind carry real force... Energy. 
Because it is our special nature, our true divine nature, we must keep our thoughts in check. The goal is to increase the space between thoughts. Happiness, calmness, and the underlying joy of the Atman will be realized as the veil of Maya is lifted.

Peace will result when we can train the monkey mind by meditation practice and prayer. This is the power of stillness and refusing to engage or quarrel over worldly matters. 
Stop yacking and chattering!... Disturbance is caused by our break with our divine peaceful silent nature. Rather, think and then say.... Listen and observe. Find space in between... Let the divine shine... Try to connect with silence outside and silence inside will happen. Hold the tongue in non reaction and the victory will be yours. Love is greater than hate. Greater than external silence is inner silence. Be the observer.... Be the witness.... Be silent.... "Beginner's Mind".

Even the space between words on a page gives us the opportunity for divine silence. Like the space bar on a computer keyboard, our language has a built in silent pause where the still bliss of our inner nature will reveal itself, if we will only stop and take notice.

A fixed time of day and meditation location is crucial to making progress on the Raja Yoga path. Sunrise 6am, 12 noon, sunset 6pm, and midnight will give a boost to our spiritual practice. Concentration of mind on our (Mantra) divine name, or chosen Ishta will create a space of stillness where self realization can become manifest.

Grow joy thru inner silence. God is in our hearts and we are in the heart of a God. Self realization can be kindled by noticing the beauty of nature, by the calm peaceful mind of the observer. When ever we feel Oneness it is really the True Divine Love of God in our soul. Such is the sweetness of The Lord.
From "Stillness & Silence" lecture by Swami Sarvadevananda

September 13, 2015

Sri Ramana Maharshi

With blazing bright, unwinking eyes
He gazed and drunk in my whole Being.
Swept off by such enchanting beauty
His utter slave I have become.
-By Sri Muruganar from "The Garland of Guru's Sayings"

Take refuge in silence. 
You can be here or there or anywhere. 
Fixed in silence, established in the inner ‘I’ 
You can be as you are. 
The world will never perturb you,
If you are well founded upon the tranquility within. 
Gather your thoughts within. 
Find out the thought center and discover your self equipoise. 
In storm and turmoil be calm and silent. 
Watch the events around as a witness. 
The world is a drama. 

August 1, 2015


PRANKRISHNA: "Sir, what is the nature of the life after death?"

MASTER: "As long as a man remains ignorant, that is to say, as long as he has not realized God, so long will, he be born. But after attaining Knowledge he will not have to come back to this earth or to any other plane of existence. The potter puts his pots in the sun to dry. Haven't you noticed that among them there are both baked and unbaked ones? When a cow happens to walk over them, some of the pots get broken to pieces. The broken pots that are already baked, the potter throws away, since they are of no more use to him. But the soft ones, though broken, he gathers up. He makes them into a lump and out of this forms new pots. In the same way, so long as a man has not realized God, he will have to come back to the Potter's hand, that is, he will have to be born again and again."

by Mahendranath Gupta (M)

This is the message that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 

“Jeremiah, go down to the potter’s house. 
I will give you my message there.”

So I went down to the potter’s house 
And saw him working with clay at the wheel. 
He was making a pot from clay. 
But there was something wrong with the pot. 
So the potter used that clay to make another pot. 
With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be.

Human life is unpredictable. It may end after twenty years or today. Nobody knows when it will end, so it is better to acquire something soon for the journey. Who knows when the call will come? If you go to an unknown land empty-handed you will suffer. Because you were born, you must die. It is true, after death you will have to go to a different place. At any cost, collect all provisions for that journey and keep yourself ready. When the call comes, start your journey with a smiling face. There will be no fear or anxiety if you know definitely that you have what you need for the way.

When you have the noble desire to realize God and an opportunity to lead a good life, please use it wholeheartedly and attain the Truth. Hold tight to God firmly. Let the body go, but don’t give up. Have faith in yourself. “I am a human being, and I can do everything”−have this kind of faith and move forward. You will reach the goal. Your life will be meaningful. Coming and going are painful. Stop this dreadful cycle of reincarnation. Be the Lord’s eternal companion.

- Swami Brahmananda 

The mind has to be made malleable like clay.
Just as clay sticks wherever you throw it, 
So the mind must be made to dwell upon 
Whatever object you concentrate it.

There was never a time when I was not,

Nor you, nor these others.

Nor will there ever be a time to come

When we shall cease.

As one passes in this body

Through childhood, youth and old age 

Even so is the taking on of other bodies. 

This does not trouble the wise. 

Of the non-existent 
There is no coming to be. 
Of the existent 
There is no ceasing to be.

That by which all this is pervaded
Cannot be destroyed.

As one casts off worn out clothes
And puts on others that are new
Even so the Self casts off worn out bodies
And assumes others that are new.

Weapons cannot cut this Self
Fire cannot burn it.
Water does not make it wet
Nor the wind, dry.

It is eternal
Changeless and

It is the same forever
It is said to be unmanifest
Inconceivable, and
Without change.

Knowing it thus
You should not breathe.

July 4, 2015

Freedom To Be Happy

After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. 
The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does one follow the other. 
What we want is neither happiness nor misery. 
Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains, 
One iron, one gold, behind both is the Atman,
Who knows neither happiness nor misery. 

- Swami Vivekananda

June 8, 2015

Purifying Fire of Austerity

The Soul That Does not Live in God is not Alive

Spring makes red and white flowers appear on the trees,
But the spring that is the origin of colors is colorless.

Understand what I have said, and give up all talk;
Run to the Origin without color and unite yourself to it.

Annihilate yourself before the One Existence
So that thousands of worlds leap out of you

And your pure existence flames out of itself
And goes on and on birthing different forms.

Of course, none of these forms will last.
Happy is the one who knows this mystery!

Happy is he who gives his life to know this!
He leaves this house for another far more radiant.

You cannot understand this mystery through reason;
The Way to Knowledge winds through suffering and torment.

If you do not feel pain, you do not look for healing.
The soul that does not live in God is not alive.

She seems like a soul, but does not deserve the name:
She has not been made alive by the Beloved.

The soul is given life by the four-elements
Like a lamp that burns through the night:

The light is from oil and wick, it is not eternal.
While the oil exists, the lamp burns, but then goes out.

The one made alive by God will never die.
He lives through God and not through gold or bread.

God is the Light, the Eternal Source of Lights.
The Light is causeless, as is His fiery radiance.

Like gold, God’s value comes from His pure, perfect essence.
- Poem by Sultan Walad (Rumi's eldest son)

May 10, 2015

Sacred Art

This week the Gomang Monks have been visiting Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. They are busy working on a world peace sand mandala which they will sweep away just hours after completion. My son and I have gone three times to watch their progress and sit with their peaceful focused energy. Not surprising front row access to this event has been easy to get as Buddhist are few and far between in this neck of the woods. To me this mandala crafting process was a reminder of life's inevitable changes and the impermanence of our daily sufferings. Even beautiful, time consuming, hard earned, endeavors pass away. Whoosh!!!... they are gone... blown away by the wind! 

The Paradox of Our Age
We have bigger houses but smaller families
More conveniences but less time
We have more degrees but less sense
More knowledge but less judgement
More experts but more problems
More medicines but less healthiness
We've been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor
We built more computers to hold more information
To produce more copies than ever, but have less communication
We have become long on quantity, but short on quality
These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion
Tall man but short character
Steep profits but shallow relationships
It's a time when there is much in the window
But nothing in the room.

May 5, 2015

Pre-Internet Brain

Remembering to seek that still small voice of God in our daily meditation practice may be the hardest challenge facing modern spiritual seekers. Perhaps our reliance on electronic devices has become so en grained that it over shadows our need for a relationship with God. Our meditation practice squeezed out between our busy lives and new instantly accessible information. Our electronic devices, a buzz with rampant activity, a dizzying distraction of sound bytes that have little lasting meaning. Yes! Some days I do miss my Pre-Internet brain. It can be very challenging to be a spiritual being in an age of distraction. Therefore, we must set aside time and silence our personal electronics. Vow to unplug them for the weekend and form a lasting connection with our true divine nature. That understood, I whole heartily believe we can use the World Wide Web to the glory of the Supreme Godhead. Digital media is the future and it's here to stay. It's not going away! Its value being one of the first ways many of today’s young people will ever hear the harmonious message of Vedanta. Prompting some to take action and reach out in face to face fellowship with other devotees. Some may be drawn to learn meditation, read spiritual ebooks, hear a lecture online, or even attend a puja at their local Vedanta Society. Through Internet and its power to inform and transform our spiritual universe expands exponentially. May the new digital media be used to the glory of Brahman!

Artist and writer Douglas Coupland (see photo) probes the way that contemporary life and digital technologies affect our understanding of the world around us.

April 5, 2015

Jesus and the Resurrection

Hail glorious day so long foretold,
With joy we greet thy light;
Our hearts are all attuned to praise
For earth seems glad and bright,
Today among the choirs of heaven
Break forth the sweet refrain;
Praise to the Lord of Paradise,
Who died, but rose again.

Hail glorious Easter day!
That saw our Saviour burst the tomb,
And death despotic sway.
Our Saviour slept, while Mary wept
But rose this blessed day.

Dear Jesus, source of life and love,
To Thee our songs ascend;
Thou art to us a guiding star,
Our elder brother, Friend,
This earth would be a dreary waste,
A wilderness of pain;
But for the peace and love of Him,
Who died, but rose again.

Hail glorious Easter day!
That saw our Saviour burst the tomb,
And death despotic sway.
Our Saviour slept, while Mary wept
But rose this blessed day.

And when at last Thy welcome voice,
Shall softly bid us “Come;”
Then shall our trusting hearts rejoice,
To hear Thy “welcome home,”
And in that blessed home above,
We’ll join the sweet refrain;
And all our praise to Thee be given,
Who died, and rose again. 

March 30, 2015

Shine On

I am awestruck by the wisdom of fortune cookies these days. Is the Dalai Lama secretly writing these messages? Really, these are profound words from the mouths of cookies. Given at the end of a Chinese meal, their heady wisdom a conversation starter to be sure. Today, a clever note in a fortune cookie gave me much to reflect upon. This simple message of truth sounded like something my Swami would have said, reminding me of a fundamental Vedantic principle. That is, consciousness is the SHINE. It is the source of illumination, the very light by which the material world is reflected to our eyes. Apart from objects we see in the waking world, consciousness never, ever, changes. Irregardless of whether we are in the waking world or in dream sleep, the eternal conscious witness is always present in all three states: waking, dreaming and sleeping. Cosmic consciousness watches for eons and eons apart from the body mind complex. Blazing forth like a thousands suns, shining forever as pure, perfect, God consciousness. The God who shines love within, is the same God who reflects love without. And that's the way this fortune cookie crumbled today!

Melting into the Light, I am the unattached Light that shines.
The Light shines, the Light which is Brahman.
That which I am is nothing but Brahman.
I exist and I exist as the Light of Brahman.
I myself, offer myself, into the infinite Light which is myself.
OM peace, peace, peace be unto us all.

February 18, 2015

Sri Ramakrishna the Peacemaker

Under the gen­tle breeze of mercy,
Waves have risen in the Ocean of Form­less­ness;
Merged in the undi­vided, with­out begin­ning or end,
Thou, through Thine inscrutable power,
Hast assumed a human form.
On the side of the mind there is a realm unknown
Where nei­ther the sun nor the moon can enter,
But even there Thine infi­nite smile
Sheds its rays and lumines with charm­ing light.
Thy body is made of love
And puts to shame the God of Beauty;
And what sweet light Thine eyes bestrew!
Who­ever sees Thee longs to offer at Thy feet
His body, life and mind.
Many ages, come and gone, have awaited Thee,
But today all doubts have van­ished;
Oh, receive the gift of all I have—
I ded­i­cate my life to serve Thee!

This hymn was writ­ten about Sri Rama­kri­shna by Swami Pre­me­shananda. 
The Eng­lish trans­la­tion is by Swami Ashokananda.

An Inspiration for this Age

February 11, 2015

Swami Sarvadevananda

I bow down to the Sadguru
The spiritual teacher who dispels the darkness of ignorance.
Who is the embodiment of Brahmananda
The inexpressible absolute bliss of Brahman.
Who bestows that supreme joy on others.
Who stands alone entirely unattached.
The very personification of spiritual wisdom who has gone 
Beyond the pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain, 
Heat and cold, that characterize relative existence.
Who is vast as the sky.
Who is indicated by the great Vedic phrase of the Mahabharata, "That thou art."
Who is one without a second, eternal, stainless, and immovable.
The witness to all that arises who has gone beyond all states of mind 
And is free of the three gunas: tamas, rajas, and even sattva.
To him the true Guru do we bow down in adoration.
Om, shanti, shanti, shanti

January 12, 2015

Fear Not!

Banish all fear and weakness. Never weaken your mind by thinking of past mistakes. Sin? Sin exists only in man's eye. In God's eye there is no sin. One glance of the divine and the sins of many, many births are wiped away.

The greatest strength of character is to live in harmony with all. Never utter one word that would hurt another. Tell the truth, but never a harsh truth.

Life is like a stream, fast ebbing away. The day that is once gone can never be recalled. Make the best use of your time. If you leave it till the last moment, it will be too late to cry, "Alas, alas!"
- Swami Brahmananda

- - - - - -  

Swami Vivekananda's letter to Swami Brahmananda

(Translated from Bengali)

U.S.A., 20th November, 1899


Got some news from Sharat's letter. . . . Get experience while still there is a chance; I am not concerned whether you win or lose. . . . I have no disease now. Again. . . . I am going to tour from place to place. There is no reason for anxiety, be fearless. Everything will fly away before you; only don't be disobedient, and all success will be yours. . . . Victory to Kali! Victory to the Mother! Victory to Kali! Wah Guru, Wah Guru ki Fateh (Victory unto the Guru)!

. . . Really, there is no greater sin than cowardice; cowards are never saved — that is sure. I can stand everything else but not that. Can I have any dealings with one who will not give that up? . . . If one gets one blow, one must return ten with redoubled fury. . . . Then only one is a man. . . . The coward is an object to be pitied.

I bless you all; today, on this day sacred to the Divine Mother, on this night, may the Mother dance in your hearts, and bring infinite strength to your arms. Victory to Kali! Victory to Kali! Mother will certainly come down — and with great strength will bring all victory, world victory. Mother is coming, what dear? Whom to fear? Victory to Kali! At the tread of each one of you the earth will tremble. . . . Victory to Kali! Again onward, forward! Wah Guru! Victory to the Mother! Kali! Kali! Kali! Disease, sorrow, danger, weakness — all these have departed from you all. All victory, all good fortune, all prosperity yours. Fear not! Fear not! The threat of calamity is vanishing, fear not! Victory to Kali! Victory to Kali!


PS: I am the servant of the Mother, you are all servants of the Mother — what destruction, what fear is there for us? Don't allow egoism to enter your minds, and let love never depart from your hearts. What destruction can touch you? Fear not. Victory to Kali! Victory to Kali!

- - - - - - 

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