Sunday, June 30, 2013

Silence in Rishikesh

I just could not work today, so I decided that I had better get out of the ashram. I packed my kartals and RRSN and headed for the Ganges where I used to give classes, on the ghat near Sadhana Mandir. But it started raining.

Having the cooped up consequences of nearly six weeks without going outside. The clouds were rushing towards the mountain, at first there was a hanging cloud dropping from the black and grey above, all of which surrounded the mountains across the Ganges with mist. The hanging cloud had broken away and was moving swiftly towards the mountain. At first it looked like she had hands outstretched towards it, and then the shape changed and it looked like she was kneeling in prayer, until she merged with the mists and rain.

I went inside the Sadhana Mandir and it was 4.10, so I asked a woman in the meditation hall I could do kirtan for a while. She gave me permission and so I sang Bhaja Hunre Mana and Radha Ramana. Then I went out and talked about Radharani to a couple of old guys who hang out there, old Swami Rama followers, I would guess. They remembered me from my classes on the ghat.

Then I did kirtan on the main road walking back to the ashram. Hare Krishna. I was thinking of Gaura Hari Avadhuta and getting a bit of a kick out of it. At any rate, when I got back to the ashram I was feeling pretty good and I came to meditation pretty much cured of my blues.

Of the many books I have been reading since coming here, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book was definitely a potent influence. That woman is amazing, when you think of it. She is a convert to the modern world, you could say. And it gives pause for thought, of course. Her life was brutal and her picture of Somalia is dreadful. And the effect that coming to Holland had on her, her encounter with "civilization" really made her question the Islamic world view and civilization. She is really good at just telling the facts in a very straightforward way, but it has accumulating power. And drama too.

It took a tremendous amount of courage for her to "convert" to modernity, she does not have to make much of a case, the story itself makes the case for her. So I was impressed by her courage and also by the positive side of Western culture that so impressed her.

Nevertheless, just let me say: What I have learned in this ashram has been invaluable. I came here for a reason and I have made a bit of progress in yoga and meditation, and these things are positive and essential for the culture of a spiritually potent bhakti, which is what Sahajiyaism is all about. It is about para bhakti, the bhakti that comes when you are Brahman realized. The dual is only perfected in oneness. If you don't know what oneness is, then how can you experience twoness? Or twoness in oneness? Or oneness in twoness.

This sadhana that I talk about is about achieving union with another soul. This goes beyond the body and mind. But we don't seem to be able to stop playing these games, and quite frankly, they are becoming more and more tedious to me as time goes by.

I am doing three hours of meditation each day. I would probably do more but for Yoga Tarangini and sleeping. And a bit of music which I am having to cut back on. The YT over the last couple of days required comparing the manuscripts and entering the alternate readings in both the transliterated and the Devanagari texts. Painstaking but necessary.

I am trying as much as I can of the YT recommendations for practice. And along with that I have been reading the I Ching and another book on Taoism. And now I just picked up this thick volume on Zen and the brain, which has a great section on mysticism. Which made me pensive again on the question "Who am I? Where am I?"

I don't feel so bad about trying the Zen/Taoist/Yoga method. I don't feel any more contradiction any more that I have to protect myself against the evil Mayavada. I know where I stand, but at the same time, I know that there is nothing outside of Krishna. This is all a part of my great Radha-Krishna prema adventure. My wonderful life.

It is a good thing I don't have a real life. I tried to work (well it is Sunday) but fatigue got me and I took a nap in the morning and another in the afternoon. I feel a bit better now, but hardly clearheaded. I really want to get some things done today, so I am not going to write much right now.

I picked up a small book of Anthony de Mello's last meditations, The Way to Love. Each meditation is based on a passage from the Gospels, but he sounds more like a Buddhist than a Catholic. He talks mostly about detachment from our preconceived notions, beliefs, fears, etc. One passage that made me think was about using our object of love for our own gratification. I did not bring it with me so I cannot quote verbatim, but he says that we try to remake the person in a way that adjusts to our concept of our own happiness, which he says is not real but only a mental construct, an image, an imagination.

So he gives a little test: Can you give the other person complete freedom to be themselves as they are, to pursue their own self-realization without interference, without trying to change her? If you cannot say this, then you are revealed as a selfish manipulator, and if you can, then you are free from the suffering that your attachments cause you.

There is no doubt that all of us pressure the ones we claim to love to be whatever it is we imagine them to be in our mind's eye, what we would like the other to be.

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