Albert Einstein famously said " Science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind".. Advantage of science is that its discoveries are mainstream..and its discoveries follow a peer-reviewed and repeatable process which can be tested by anyone, so inclined. Religions can become negative when they are run like an institution, can get very fundamentalistic, The religious scriptures are experiences of the mystics, and it is not a repeatable process. Though these days, with increased information sharing, we are seeing more and more convincing evidences of mystical experiences that only a few were privy to, in the past. Scientific methodology doesn't accommodate miracles, and science do not yet have tools to understand the spirit.....On the other hand, we have religious teachers going and teaching without any proof.
Vivekananda once said " Science and religion will meet and shake hands"
One such topic is the belief in angels, gods and goddesses and how such alien intelligence can be used to help with worldly problems.. "Our scientific and technological civilization has killed our belief/trust in angels, gods and goddesses and we have dumped them. But if you talk to people, they will say that God has dumped them :) :) Religious texts often remind us that human life is the most precious gift, because it is the highest state of evolution of the soul, where the pursuit of God is possible. We often appreciate everyday things in life, like a new car or a house or other innumerable things in life...but how many of us remember God, thank god or appreciate the free air or nature or just the fact that we are alive!
Just because we can't see the angels and gods with our eyes, it does not mean that they don't exist.. If you revisit the scriptures of various religions, you will find a different story. Many ancient traditions and cultures seem to have perfected the art of contacting these subtle beings from other galaxies and use them to help with human situations..In Indian tradition, they are called "devas or devatas", literally meaning "bright beings"...somewhat like "angels" in the Abrahamic religions.
In Old Testament, for example, God tells Moses that "whereever you go, my angel will go and protect you, and will tell you everything before it happens"
In Bible, when Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers, his disciple Peter drew his sword to fight with them, but Jesus said "No, don't fight, put the sword down; those who live by the sword, will die by the sword...if my father had wanted to help me, HE WOULD HAVE SENT AN ANGEL!!" So Jesus seem to be in touch with the angels!
So an angel (or a god or a goddess) can do that human beings cannot!
Jesus did several miracles in his life and he attributed all of it to the "Holy spirit" ...If we listen to people like Benny Hinn, who wrote extensively on Holy Spirit, we will see that the Holy Spirit is a BEING, a persona!
It was the Holy spirit who helped Mother Mary to conceive Jesus (hence she is called Virgin Mary), all miracles of Jesus were possible due to Holy spirit, and it was the Holy spirit who helped Jesus to resurrect.
In Hinduism, you will find pretty extensive array of literature on gods and goddesses...so much so that there are particular gods for for doing particular things! (not that they can't do other things)..For example, Ganesha's special abilities to remove obstacles!
In the recent times, Obama revealed that he carries around an assortment of objects including a Cross, Hanuman statue, etc,saying they gave him inspiration if he is ever feeling 'tired or discouraged'.
I lost my father in 2014 and that is when I really started digging into the spiritual aspects of Father's day!
The father may be present (if you are lucky) or absent..but we still carry our father within us, in our DNA, in our genes ..and this is a scientific fact...We inherit many things from our parents,grandparents... our body, many features and even behavioral characteristics, our strengths and weaknesses...it is just amazing how much we are connected with our forefathers!
In spirituality, it is lot more involved than just genes and DNA...it is said that even our mind and soul are deeply connected with our parents, grand parents etc.. Many cultures even have the practice of giving a grand father's name to a new-born child, as there is deeply held belief that these soul groups reincarnate in the same family, again and again.
In India, we have this practice called Tarpanam, an offering made to ancestors! This is a ritual which can often produce dramatic changes in one's life with a small investment in time. Serious life situations in finance, health and relationships have dramatically improved after performance of these rituals...
This is very different from sitting in meditation trying to grapple with the mind...While performing ancestor rituals, there is a natural connection, love and emotions involved, greatly helping the process. Ancestor rituals are typically a case of "mutual help" ...see notes below.
We will revisit the topic of ancestor rituals and how they can help our life situations at a later time. The only point I want to make now is that taking care of one's aging parents (including father) is of immense importance not only from an ethical standpoint....From a spiritual standpoint, once that person leaves the bondage of the body, that spirit gets the abilities to know and control some of our destinies as well.
Thank you for attending our session last Sunday.. Thanks to Kumarji for facilitating a very lively and entertaining discussion on a topic which is otherwise esoteric and hard to comprehend! Three of us further continued the conversation for another hour after the meet up, outside the building :)
Thanks also to the references made to other upanishadic texts as well.. Advaita (Non-duality or the path of knowledge) is considered as the most direct path to enlightenment is the essence of all Upanishads, as exemplified in the work called "I am That" by the great master, Nisarga Datta.
On another note, another wonderful person named Praveen has kindly contributed the following books to our spiritual library. We are much obliged to him.
We will shortly update our list of books to share at http://www.neospirituality.org/books-to-share.html
Our next meet up would be on Sunday, July 1st.
" When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." Lao Tzu, 533 BC
Most of us need success in both material and spiritual pursuits! We discussed previously, how our thoughts decide pretty much everything! ..and the most powerful thought is the name of God!
The names of God, regardless of which tradition one belongs to, are the most powerful thoughts. Repeating it over and over again is called repeating a mantra and probably is the easiest way to stay in touch God, throughout the day.
The Meaning of Yahweh!
One famous mantra in the Indian context is Na Ma Si Va Ya ... the letters of which are typically identified with each of the five elements of creation.
It is interesting to note that in the Jewish tradition, the last two letters "Yah Weh" , was the god of the Israelites, whose name was revealed to Moses as four Hebrew letters (YHWH)...also known as Jehowah! As Judaism became a universal rather than merely local religion, the more common noun, Elohim was begun to be used. Also, the divine name was regarded as too sacred to be uttered!
In our prior posts, we discussed two mantras below for specific puposes. You may check our blogs/youtube for more info on these sounds.
" You have to give up strategizing, and then surrender. That is the time that God can enter."
Our next meet up will be on Sunday, June 3rd, and we have an interesting speaker, Kumar Padmini, who will be talking to us on a verse from the Katha Upanishad ( the book that was translated as "A Dialogue with Death" by Eknath Easwaran..we have this book in our library). In spite of the title, the book is more about life than death :)
Na tatra suryo bhati na candra tarakam
nema vidyuto bhanti kutoyam agnihi
tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam
tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati
There the sun does not shine, nor do the moon and the stars. These streaks of lightning do not shine there either, (so) what to speak of this fire? That, shining, makes all others shine. By virtue of its luminosity, all these (manifestations) are illuminated.
My own understanding of this verse is that at an individual level, the self or consciousness (or life energy) resides in all of us, without which the organs of the body or the mind, cannot function. At a macro level, the same energy resides in everything, whether it is sun or moon or stars, without which they cannot function!
It may be worth noting that in vedic astrology, all these planets (and earth) are actually considered conscious beings !
Anyway, great topic and relevant...most of us consider us weak and burdened with issues...our problems are much bigger and we are always too small to handle them...we are never good enough for Mr. Mind... scaring us with this or that... ..and here is this verse telling us everything is shining only because of the Self, which is present in us as the Observer!
Happened to hear about his wonderful lady called J Z Knight , who is channeling a spiritual being called Ramtha, who lived about 35000 years ago! Not sure whether this being has any connection to Rama of Indian mythology! Amazing information on how neuro-science, quantum physics, brain and religion are combined in her beautiful channeled information.
J Z Knight is the founder of Ramtha's School of Enlightenment
Change Your Mind Change Your Life - Larry King : Interview with J Z Knight
Gita verse 2:48 starts with " yogasthah kuru karmani" meaning "perform actions, being established in yoga". Ofcourse, yoga doesn't mean physical yoga here, but being established in Self, which is one's true nature.
Just thinking loud here....Why do people blame God when something goes wrong but don't thank God when everything is good and great? Meister Eckhart, the German theologian, philosopher and mystic says "If the only prayer you ever said in your entire life is "thank you", that will be enough." Thousands of planes fly and land safely, but if one goes down, God suddenly becomes the culprit !!! Children goes to school every day all over the world, and when there is one school shooting, suddenly God is at fault for not protecting the innocent children..God is obviously responsible for World hunger, global warming, poverty in Africa, child abuse, homosexuality, natural calamities, not to speak of every silliest of inconveniences that can happen to us in day to day life (including if the traffic signal doesn't turn green, soon enough !!! :) :) :) Why can't people learn to thank God, when things go well, to be fair?
Why do Fundamental Questions Arise? Amma Bhagwan
The answer may be that it is just the nature of our minds.. We heard of the expression "doubting Thomas" which is a reference to Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.
In Gita again, Krishna says "samshayatma vinishyati" meaning a person who is always doubtful is destroyed.
Again, this emphasizes the fundamental spiritual position that faith is needed... at least as much as a "mustard seed"...if not a pumpkin seed :)...to move mountains! Mind will continue to ask questions....we probably need some logical explanation to satisfy the immediate curiosity, but ultimately all doubts are not ceased until one recognizes one's own true nature.
For those of you who don't know about Brahmakumaris (BK), they are a spiritual organization completely run by women! You don't see guys talking about spirituality in BK:) Check out https://us.brahmakumaris.org/ .
They are headquartered in Mount Abu, Rajastan, India.
Had the good fortune to meet up with a BK teacher when I first started meditation.. I did it only for about 3-4 months, then dropped off.
They suggested that I buy a meditation aid at that time..which was a bulb with a orangy covering and when lit, will give out a light like the picture below.. The instruction was to look at the light and then focus on the brow-chakra ..Found it very interesting when I started, and practiced it very sincerely for some time.. Was even thinking of going to Mt. Abu once, but never happened :)
( I was looking up online for additional info on this now, but couldn't find much)..Not sure whether they changed it these days.
Based on our understanding of third-eye and activating the mid-brain area by focusing on Ajna chakra makes complete sense. Orangy light is also associated with a lot of healing powers. Great mediation technique.
BK consider the supreme godhead as Shiva Baba, as the god of all religions...., is considered as a spiritual guide of BK, whose objective is to awaken the humanity and remove evils. Shiva Baba is a supreme soul and a point of light
Beliefs of Brahma Kumaris are:
Happy Mother's day!
Karen Armstrong, born 1944, is a former Roman Catholic nun, well known for her books on Abrahamic religion. Her most famous work is
"A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam." When she was 17 years old, Karen Armstrong was in search of God. To find Him, she entered a Roman Catholic convent and became a nun. When she started her new life, she faced a number of struggles, including the fact that she couldn't pray.!
"Most of us can relate life only to a MFS reality (Money food and sex). There are people who sit in wheel chairs and still look at the interest rates on their deposits and yelling at people around them for not taking care of them enough!" So many people are obsessed with the world even at the fag end of their lives ...but to die with that kind of ignorant consciousness in somewhat unfortunate..
Death is just the end of the physical body...but life continues in a different form and dimension. To recognize our own unlimited aspects while alive, would be the greatest thing that can happen to a human being.
We have to be committed to the model of flowing with the higher mind or higher self, then we will see that we have a much bigger rewards instead of a small mind directed logical and survivalistic life. This is called evolving from a mind intelligence to a soul intelligence.
When Jesus was talking about "eternal life", the people were asking for "fish" and "bread"..They were poor and was more worried about their daily sustenance. Who wants eternal life ?!! Most people cannot relate to it as they are burdened by life itself...and the numerous problems..
Pilgrimages are often advised in many religions.. When things are completely beyond the logical mind, visiting certain spiritual power centers have given many people great insight to right course of action. Divine can see what humans cannot. A new direction opens, and a greater life path is unveiled.
The question was why are the prophetic people/saints have to face a painful death (like Jesus was crucified, Bahai founder was assassinated, even saints like Ramana /Ramakrishna had cancer and had to face a very painful death..
The answers we provided were;
- you cannot basically get an intellectually satisfying answer to this question (Kumar). No guarantees in life.
- you should not judge a person by the way the person is dying.. Our understanding of a smooth death is limited and we should not be thrust on saints (Vijay)
When Ramanujam, the famous mathematician went to England, Prof Hardy asked him how he got his equations....and wanted to know the steps.
Ramanujam could not provide the steps ...all he said was that he got the equations from a goddess, which obiously does not fly in the western world!!!!
This is something that we can see with many spiritual people...THEY JUST KNOW....no steps involved!! No logic or reasoning... no steps...
Saints use logic later to explain things they know..so that a common man can understand it or it will be better perceived by the rational world.
"Life is tale a told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,signifying nothing!” -Shakespeare
God is rich and it is said that if you take one step towards God, God takes 1000 steps towards you! But the first step is needed from us.
Osho was once asked "Why spiritual people are poor?" the answer he gave was "because they are spiritual people.. not material people". He even sais at point the "spiritual people are spiritless people" meaning they kind of lost their motivation and resigned to whatever is happening in the material world!!
A true spiritual person ideally should be more successful than a material person!! (Wish) If we can manifest our thoughts, have miracles in our lives and if we have the wisdom from revealed scriptures, we should have the ability to more successful than one who do not have that understanding!
The Baha'i Faith regards all the Holy Books to be successive chapters in their essence of the same God, Whose Authors are the Divine Instruments of His Will. "All the Prophets of God proclaim the same Faith." and "This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future." Baha'u'llah
Faith is in believing and trusting the Divine! But over the last couple of hundred years we have mostly lived a life based on reason and rational thinking. There are lot of things that faith can do..faith in believing and trusting the divine. but we have lost the sensibility to God...and we are unable to relate to God!...though in the dollar bill we still have it "In God We Trust"!! but we ended up with trusing just the Dollar :)
"The first step to creating a different consciousness (whether spiritual or material) is changing our current mindset. Changing our mindset is a prerequisite for creation, because it is your mind that creates our reality. Quantum physics calls it the “Observer Theory” which says the observer and the observed are the same. The concept of the “observed is the observer” is also within the eastern mystical traditions where they say “you see what you want to see,” and “you become as you think.”
In the Bible it says ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God created everything with the word.’ What is the word? The word is simply a mantra.” The Word and the Mantra are not different. That is why in most religious traditions, we will find extensive use of Mantra... in fact, religious scriptures are abound with numberous great Mantras.
We talked about Mantra and sound in the past...."Sound creates reality. That sound creates reality is also the finding of modern String Theory that says sound is the fundamental founding block of matter.
Hope everyone is doing well. Our next meet up will be on Sunday, May 6th and we are planning a general discussion on “Various Meditational Techniques and personal experiences”.
Siamak has also kindly agree to talk on Baha’i faith followed by some Q&A. Many people don’t even know about Baha’s faith which originated in Iran (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_Faith)
As fyi, Bahais accept all religions are true and believe that “Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God”
By the way, during our last meet up, we had an excellent talk on Sikh religion by Kamal. Found it very interesting. Also thanks to Monica for her talk on Reiki, specifically her demo on “Energy ball” and how the healing process works. Really helpful to broaden our spiritual horizons!
Spiritual Get-together/Cultural event:
Couple of people suggested that it may be a good idea to have a get together with some food and cultural programs of spiritual nature, whether it is dance, songs, music etc. Each one of these art forms can convey spiritual messages in a deep & powerful manner (as much as intellectual discussions). Also, it provides an opportunity to meet up with the families. Just want to throw this idea and remain open to comments. We haven't figured how to structure this or decided on a date or even a month , but may be two or three months out.
Here is the translation of the beautiful poem:
Moko Kahan Dhundhere Bande
Mein To Tere Paas Mein
Na Teerath Mein, Na Moorat Mein
Na Ekant Niwas Mein
Na Mandir Mein, Na Masjid Mein
Na Kabe Kailas Mein
Main To Tere Paas Mein
Oh Follower, Where do you search me?
I am always with you
Not in pilgrimage, nor in statues
Neither in solitude
Not in temples, nor in the mosque
Neither in the Kabha nor in Kailash
I am with you, oh follower
Bande Mein To Tere Paas Mein
Na Main Jap Mein, Na Main Tap Mein
Na Mein Barat Upaas Mein
Na Main Kiriya Karm Mein Rehta
Nahin Jog Sanyas Mein
Nahin Pran Mein Nahin Pind Mein
Na Brahmand Akas Mein
I am always with you
Not in prayers, nor in meditation
Neither in fasting
Not in yogic exercises
Neither in renunciation
Neither in the soul, nor in the body
Not even in the infinite space
Na Mein Prakuti Prawar Gufa Mein
Nahin Swasan Ki Swans Mein
Khoji Hoye Turat Mil Jaoon
Ik Pal Ki Talas Mein
Kahat Kabir Suno Bhai Sadho
Mein To Hun Viswas Mein
Neither in the womb of Nature
Not in the breath of the breath
Seek earnestly and you will discover me
In but a moment of search
Listen with care, says Kabir
Where your faith is, I am there.
As mentioned earlier, to understand Christ's resurrection, we have to understand that we are not just physical bodies. The real person is LIVING in this body as the life energy and will leave the body at the end. Once we recognize our non-physical nature, then the Christ's Resurrection makes complete sense!!
Once the body falls, our identity becomes our subtle body which is indestructible!
Personal relationship with God: Bible preaches primarily a path of devotion and places a lot of emphasis on the personal relationship with God! God is the solution to life!! We need to engage in a conversation with God, toss our problems to higher powers than always trying to figure out the solutions with our minds! This is called surrender and stops the mental chatter significantly. A new wisdom dawns at that point.
Mind prevents miracles by asking questions on a continuous basis. Faith allows miracles to happen. and allows the greater forces in the universe to lend their assistance to us. That would be "living in spirit" and not "living in body"! Bible refers multiple times to the body as a "corruption".. Unfortunately, we live in a faithless society. For want of faith in God, we have to put our faith in money and expect money to solve all problems
“The kingdom of the god is within you” is a powerful statement. So we have to go within to find the kingdom...but we always search the kingdom outside the body. God is the life energy in us.. How to contact the God who is hidden within us? Jesus did say “ I and my Father are One” ..He ofcouse was not referring to his body. That means Godliness is hidden within each and every one of us. But this is not obvious to us because of our identification with the body...and we suffer for the body. .and hence transcending the body/mind is the goal.
Yes, the pineal gland has a retina, cornea and lens! hence it can very well be called as an eye!
We talked about the pine-cone shaped pineal gland and couple of videos referring to it as the "seat of the soul".
Please do RSVP for our upcoming meetup on April 1st is https://goo.gl/bwyqBR , if you plan to come . The agenda & other details are below.
Suffering is the nature of the world; whether physically, psychologically, emotionally, we all suffer on a daily, hourly basis :) Unfortunately, this is true for everyone, the rich and poor alike! The National Science Foundation published an article regarding research about human thoughts per day , 80% of which are negative :) According to the research, the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are apparently negative.
We talked in our earlier posts on how our thoughts influence us and no lasting transformation is possible without changing of thoughts! The mantras/holy sounds help us change our thoughts and hence act as powerful catalysts for change.
One of the topics for our discussion next week is “Why do we worship God?”. As we quoted earlier, according to Gita (7:16), “Four types of people seek Me – the distressed, the seekers of Knowledge, Wealth seekers and the men of wisdom.”. Some of the key life issues we touched are relationship, wealth and healing with relevant mantras for the first two, namely KLEEM and SHREEM BRZEE. You may refer to our blog posts for details of such information.
The Communion / The Last Supper:
According to Bible, The Last Supper is the final meal on a Thursday night that Jesus shared with his disciples in Jerusalem before his crucifixion on Friday. During the meal, Jesus predicted that one of his Apostles would betray him. Judas was specifically identified as the traitor. In the course of the Last Supper, Jesus breaks some bread, says a prayer, and hands the pieces of bread to his disciples, saying "this is my body." He then takes a cup of wine, offers another prayer, and hands it around, saying "this is my blood of the everlasting covenant..."
Portrayal of bread as the body and wine as the blood signifies the flesh and blood existence of our own bodies. Breaking of the bread has to be understood in terms of getting out of our own intense identification with the body (thus forgetting our true nature). Christ's resurrection three days after crucifixion (on Easter Sunday) signifies the fact that soul is indestructible and even after the body falls, our astral/subtle bodies remain. For souls, who are not under the bondage of sin (karma), this is the beginning of a new life (though death is not a pre-requisite for it, as evidenced in the life of several living masters). Such states are mentioned in various names in various traditions like for example, as Salvation, Moksha (Liberation/Freedom), Nirvana (state of emptiness), etc.
In our previous posts, we discussed about third-eye (mentioned in vedic texts as the seat of the mystical powers) identifying its location as the pine-cone shaped (or eye shaped) Pineal Gland. This is also referred to as the “seat of the soul” in ancient texts.
In Vatican, the center of the Roman Catholic Church, one of the largest statues is the statue of a pine-cone, 4 meters in high with two peacocks on either side ( see below).
Genesis 32:30 : Jacob named the place Peniel (which means "face of God"), for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared."