Happy Birthday Swami Sivananda! Concepts of Divine Life

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Sivananda authored more than 200 books, handwritten

Sivananda authored more than 200 books, handwritten

Swami Sivananda was born September 8, 1887. As a young man he studied and practiced medicine, traveling to Malaysia for a time. While there, he received instruction on yoga after curing a wandering monk. Soon after this, Sivananda turned inward and began his own spiritual search, eventually reaching Rishikesh, the holy town in India where the Ganges plains meet the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. After ten years of intense spiritual practice, Swami Sivananda began teaching yoga through direct instruction and writing. His spiritual teachings are gathered and shared through the Divine Life Society.

These concepts of the Divine Life are shared by Sri Swami Vekatesananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda.

  1. Recognition of the universal truth that we are Immortal Spirit encased in mortal human sheath. There is divine spark in everyone.
  2. Strive for integral perfection of the personality: sublimate your emotions, purify your thoughts, strengthen your will, enlighten your intellect, control your mind and curb your senses. Your thoughts must be sublime, your speech noble and ennobling and your actions selfless and humanitarian.
  3. One’s inner life and external conduct must be integrated: be good and do good.
  4. Social well-being and individual salvation are two sides of the same coin; atheism, materialism, and sensualism threaten both. One should live in the world and yet not be worldly. Society is a training ground for the individual soul, enabling us to cultivate virtues and to serve others, and test and evaluate our inner spiritual worth.

Work to integrate three aspects of life: Man and the world; Head, Heart, Hands; Man and God

  1. Man and the World: If you cut yourself away from society, if you shrink from your duties in life, there will be a disintegration of our personality and the society too will suffer. Therefore Swami Sivananda exhorts us to ‘Serve all. Love all. Give or share with others, what we have.’
  2. Head, Heart, Hands: Convert one’s own heart into God’s Abode, pure and God-loving. Illuminate the mind with Divine Light, the Light of highest wisdom. Use this vision to see through the veil of illusion that is separation, that one is distinct and separate, and that one must deprive others for survival. See all of creation as one Cosmic Soul.Cosmic Soul With the love of God in the heart, and understanding of God in the mind, love all and serve all, and share what you have. Do this without pride. Goodness becomes natural, spontaneous and overwhelming.
  3. Man and God: Goodness paves the way for Godliness. Intellectual understanding moves to direct experience, by seeing the Divine Spark in oneself and all beings. Past wrongs veil the heart and are purified through pranayama, repetition of Holy Names of God, study of scriptures, and keeping the company of holy ones. With meditation and Realization, the rays of the mind are concentrated inward, the veils of illusion are completely burnt, and Truth is realized. This is an ineffable, direct and immediate experience. One realizes that one is, and has ever been, God in reality. A realized being is the greatest benefactor of humanity, an inspiration to all and a becon of light to society.
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Being Still

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Tracy Cochran

The good news is my voice is back. The bad news is my voice is back. As I reported last week, I have been without a voice of late, just whisper, sometimes soft, sometimes rasping. I had my hair cut last week and the din of the hair dryers and music and conversation was too much for my whisper. Usually I love to tell stories and talk with my kind hair cutter, but I just couldn’t participate.

Sitting back, it dawned on me that I could go beyond being silent. I could practice the stillness I try to practice on the cushion. A new world opened. I saw more. I heard more. I felt more. I felt that I was part of a greater whole. Right there in a haircutting salon.

When you become still, you become attentive. Life opens up and becomes larger. You discover moments inside moments inside…

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Questions for the Scientific Buddha

Third eye, lotus at the place of the heart, Scientific Buddha

This cosmic order is disrupted by the Scientific Buddha. He appeared in the world before the teachings of the buddha of our age, Gautama Buddha, had been forgotten, before his teachings had run their course. The Scientific Buddha was not predicted by a previous buddha, nor did the world await his coming. And yet he has served a useful role. He was born into a world of the colonial subjugation of Asia by Europe. He fought valiantly to win Buddhism its place among the great religions of the world, so that today it is universally respected for its values of reason and nonviolence. We might regard the Scientific Buddha as one of the many “emanation bodies” of the Buddha who have appeared in the world, making use of skillful methods (upaya) to teach a provisional dharma to those temporarily incapable of understanding the true teaching. For this, the Scientific Buddha was stripped of his many magical elements, and his dharma was deracinated. The meditation that he taught was only something called “mindfulness,” and a pale form of that practice. He taught stress reduction, something never taught by any other buddha in the past, for previous buddhas sought to create stress, to destroy complacency, in order to lead us to a state of eternal stress reduction, that state of extinction called nirvana. Having taught his version of the dharma, it is now time for the Scientific Buddha to pass into nirvana.

Read the full article at Tricycle Magazine: “Scientific Buddha” by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.”

Our Greatest Passion

Reflecting Pool

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”

Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel (Jewish theologian and philosopher, 1907-1972)

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Rabbi Heschel with Dr. King at a news conference

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MLK: A Double Victory

“…And we will still love you.”

Love Your Enemies

Below is one of the most enduring and inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. quotes of all time. Not only does it expell once for all the absurd notion that non-violent enemy love is cowardly but it also shows that such self-sacrificial love is even practical.

I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say:”We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is…

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Happy Birthday First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt! (or, “For gosh sakes, here comes Mrs. Roosevelt!”)

66 year anniversary of the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt drafted the document. Worth revisiting in light of CIA torture and police militarization in the news: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Truth Bomb Trails

October 1, 1994: First Lady brought White House position into 20th-century; Advocated for peace + justice

Robert J. Day, The New Yorker Magazine, June 3, 1933 Robert J. Day, The New Yorker Magazine, June 3, 1933

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first 20th-century first lady. Contrary to previous first lady’s, who stayed in the background and served as a representation of domesticity, Mrs. Roosevelt openly campaigned for causes during her time in office, including public disagreements with the President.

“For it isn’t enough to talk of peace. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

She openly advocated for the rights of labor, African-Americans, Native Americans, Japanese-Americans (during a time when many were forced into internment camps) and human rights throughout the world. Both as the first lady and later as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, Roosevelt used her platform and influence as a force for good…

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The Thanksgiving Address (or, Words Before All Else)

To all our relations.

Truth Bomb Trails

thanksgiving address
While American schoolchildren are taught and re-tell tales of “pure” and friendly Europeans crossing the Atlantic to escape oppression, Presidents pardon a single bird while 45 million perish and nearly twice as many watch modern-day gladiators sacrifice themselves in the name of entertainment, the Thanksgiving Address, which comes from the Iroquois (also known as the Haudenosaunee or Six Nations), reminds us of our necessity and, therefore, gratitude to the natural world. The Tracking Project describes it as:

A spiritual address to the powers of the natural world, these words are used to open gatherings in order to bring the minds of the people together as one and align the gathered minds with Nature. The roots of these words reach back thousands of years to the very origins of the Haudenosaunee as a people.

Along with the Great Law of Peace (Kaianeraserakowa) and the Creation Story, the Thanksgiving Address…

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Life as a spiritual journey

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The path of the journey is difficult but the task simple. Overcome fear and let go of doubt. Connect the mind to the heart where the eternal rests.

The mind is connected to the heart through the breath. Consciously holding the mind on the breath will lead the mind to the heart. In the heart, the mind can rest.

The mind is like a child who is satisfied with only the comfort of her mother. No matter what else the child is given, it is never enough. Until the child reunites with her mother, there is no peace. When the mind reunites with the heart, then there is peace.

The environment best suited for concentrating the mind is silence. All of creation vibrates with the original sound. In silence, the vibrations of the heart connect with the cosmic vibrations of the Universe.

When the mind connects to the vibrations of the heart, the mind illuminates. Habits, thought patterns and ways of being fall away, let go, surrender. The energy centers within the body connect through the spine, bringing light to the dark places of the mind. This is the power of the heart.

As the heart enlightens the mind, the mind’s understanding of the world falls apart. The mind loses itself.

When the mind loses itself, one’s identification and attachment to the mind weakens. Transformation begins on the physical plane of existence: relationships end, careers change, illness arises. Mental and emotional shifts follow.

When the mind loses itself, the ego dies. The death of the ego feels like turmoil, pain, and suffering. These are stepping stones, the path itself, of the spiritual journey. The ego is reborn as a phoenix: love, peace, harmony.