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Showing posts from August, 2010

Ramana Maharshi on the Householder's Dilemma

This Q&A addresses the question I believe every secular mystic must confront: How to live spiritually while dealing with the demands of everyday life.Q:  How can cessation of activity (nivritti) and peace of mind be attained in the midst of household duties which are of the nature of constant activity?

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:

As the activities of the wise man exist only in the eyes of others and not in his own, although he may be accomplishing immense tasks, he really does nothing. Therefore his activities do not stand in the way of inaction and peace of mind. For he knows the truth that all activities take place in his mere presence and that he does nothing. Hence he will remain as the silent witness of all the activities taking place.
Bhagavan is reminding us here that the Sage exists as the silent observer, entirely apart from his body/mind. The activities of body/mind are not his activities. He is free from attachments, and his serenity is not disturbed by the constan…

Spiritual Surrender

Our human existence can be characterized as a series of challenges. Life presents us with one situation after another in which we must choose among many possible courses of action, one of which is not to act at all. Behind those choices is another very important choice, which is whether to be guided by ego or by Spirit. 
Ego almost never chooses inaction. Ego's modus operandi is to stir the pot, to find threats in every situation. Because it is convinced that the Universe is hostile, ego reacts either defensively or aggressively, whatever it believes will best serve its own perceived needs without regard to the needs of others. Ego scorns inaction as passive surrender to the omnipresent enemy.
Spirit, on the other hand, inhabits a cooperative Universe in which love and acceptance are the moving forces. It does not feel threatened because it knows that it is immortal and unchanging. As manifested in us as individuals, Spirit counsels us to act for the benefit of all. In many cases, t…

Thinking About Immortality

Death and dying are subjects that are so taboo in our society, that we often refuse even to think privately about them. The Google dictionary defines "morbid" as "Characterized by or appealing to an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, esp. death and disease." I suppose that interest in death and disease can be carried to such an extreme that it can be characterized as abnormal and unhealthy. The same is true of any other subject; the pathology then is related to obsession, rather than to the topics themselves. But we often behave as if any consideration of death and dying were a sign of mental illness, and as if any reference to the subject were extremely bad manners.

The very aversion that we demonstrate to the topic of death is an indication of the great importance we attach to it. I have alluded to the subject before. Physical death is inevitable. It seems very likely that ego, which is attached to the physical body, must die …

Buried Pain

I suspect that many people hesitate to go within because they are afraid of what they will find. It is true that most of us have buried many painful memories and emotions. But even though we have placed them out of reach of our ordinary awareness, their negative influence remains. The only way to eliminate the adverse effects of buried pain is to uncover it and release it once and for all. Doing so removes one impediment to spiritual awareness. The process becomes progressively easier as you learn that you, not the pain, are in control of your life.

The Power of Patience

Another powerful quotation from the Dalai Lama shone like a jewel in the mud on my Facebook page today.  Here is the quotation:
"The most important benefit of patience consists in the way it acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger - the greatest threat to our inner peace, and therefore our happiness. The mind, or spirit, is not physical, it cannot be touched or harmed directly. Only negative thoughts and emotions can harm it. Therefore, only the corresponding positive quality can protect it."
Facebook - or the little slice of it that is reflected on my page - seems to be increasingly devoted to the expression of individuals' social and political imperatives.  As such it mirrors our ever more polarized society.  Dialog seems to have largely vanished from the forum of opinion, to be replaced by strident voices shouting from soapboxes on every corner.  People are more devoted to their own ideas, prejudices and agendas than they are to other people.  In sp…