Refuting the mystical, metaphysical concept of the existence of individual, discrete selves (while bearing in a non existent mind, that there is no universally accepted theory as to what the word "existence" means)
I don’t really know whether art can exist without a certain degree of tranquillity or spiritual poise; without a certain amount of quiet you can have neither philosophy nor religion nor painting nor poetry. And as one of the specialties of modern life is to abolish this quiet, we are in danger of losing our arts together with the quiet of the soul that art demands.
Deborah Stevenson, Time out of Mind, paper collage. Image used with kind permission of the artist. See more of her work at deborahstevenson.com
Try to meditate.
Meditate more, so that you reach that inner being.
And this inner being is the vast ocean of bliss
which exists inside every one of us.
-Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, 1983
According to several Indian teachings, including that of Guru Nanaka, the founder of the Sikh religion, the inner Self and the universe "outside" are one and the same. No part of the infinite cosmos, with all it's countless swirling galaxies, is outside the ambit of who you are.
One of the main obstacles to meditation is the mind's objection to being quietened - something it tends to see as a form of limitation. However, contrary to the mind's expectations, genuine states of meditation are characterised by a sense of expansiveness in consciousness; something Buddhists call the Vast Mind.
The poet and translator, Patricia Donegan, uses the composition and reading of the Japanese Haiku form as an awareness practice, a means of realising the Vast Mind. In her book, Haiku Mind, she writes: "to create and appreciate this tiny form of poetry, one needs a vast mind like the sky."
Detail from an illustration to the Markandeya Purana, a Hindu text containing the Devi Mahatmyam, an account of the heroic martial exploits of the Goddess Devi as she protects the world from evil forces.
"Just imagine to yourself that the purpose of your life is your happiness only - and then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing. You have to embrace what the wisdom of humanity, your intellect and your heart all tell you - that the meaning of life is to serve the divine will which sent you into this world: then life will become a constant joy." -Leo Tolstoy
The American writer and opponent of slavery, Henry David Thoreau, was influenced by the ancient spiritual texts of India.
He wrote that the waters of his beloved Walden Pond "mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges".
He adopted some of the precepts of yoga philosophy, and even considered himself a yogi.
He was particularly drawn to the Bhagavad Gita, the Song of Lord Krishna, deity of the Americas, and the Visshuddhi (throat) Chakra. Thoreau played the flute; also the favourite pastime of Krishna.
In an 1849 letter to his friend H.G.O. Blake, he wrote about yoga and its meaning to him:
Free in this world as the birds in the air, disengaged from every kind of chains, those who practice yoga gather in Brahma the certain fruits of their works. Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully. The yogi, absorbed in contemplation, contributes in his degree to creation; he breathes a divine perfume, he hears wonderful things. Divine forms traverse him without tearing him, and united to the nature which is proper to him, he goes, he acts as animating original matter. To some extent, and at rare intervals, even I am a yogi.
Thoreau's birthday is coming up on the 12th of July (a sensitive retiring Cancerian). He was born almost 200 years ago.
“The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night... All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.”
... Innocence is often thought of as a quality projected outward. It means, literally, ‘not harm’. If a person is innocent, they aren’t going to harm you. But another way to consider the idea of harmlessness is that which is unharmed. It is a place within our own self, untouched by harm. Hans Christian Andersen believed in an untouched innocence at the core of every person. “She cannot receive any power from me greater than she now has,” says the Finn woman of Gerda in The Snow Queen, “which consists in her own purity and innocence of heart.”
Children had special access to this innocence – animals and grandmothers did as well – but the innocence was inside everyone. Innocence could be hidden and emerge, or it could be apparent and then corrupted. See, for example, the devil’s mirror in The Snow Queen, which had the peculiar power to make everything good and beautiful seem like nothing. The loveliest landscapes looked like boiled spinach and the very best people became hideous or stood on their heads and had no stomachs.
To be wholly innocent was rare. To be wholly innocent, for Andersen, meant to be wholly yourself. It meant that you were free from the distorted reality of the devil’s mirror. There is a connection in Andersen’s work between innocence and reality, then, because innocence is truth. And just as truth is eternal, so is innocence. Though many of Andersen’s tales are tragedies, ending in death or humiliation, they all affirm the importance of a life lived toward an eternal, personal truth. This is what Andersen meant when he said, “Every man’s life is a fairytale, written by God's fingers.” This doesn’t mean that every man’s life is a fantasy. It means that every man’s life is a quest toward reality.
- Stefany Anne Golberg
Rie Cramer's 1931 illustration for The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
There is often confusion amongst practitioners of yoga over the qualities of the "2nd" and "3rd" chakras of the subtle body.
The Swadisthana Chakra, corresponds to the colour yellow/orange and the fire element, while the 3rd Chakra, the Nabhi (Navel centre) corresponds to the colour green and the water element. However, you often see contemporary chakra charts where the reverse is indicated.
I feel that the confusion has arisen because the Swadisthana Chakra actually orbits the Nabhi Chakra. So perhaps they should not necessarily be thought of in numerical order. Sometimes the Swadisthana is located in the 2nd position, and sometimes in the third, depending on where it is in its revolution.
It makes sense, though, to think of the Swadisthan as the 2nd Chakra, as it represents creation, the phase of existence preceding the evolutionary stage. The stage of evolution/preservation is at the Nabhi level (3rd centre) with its 10 Avatars or incarnations of Vishnu in progressively higher forms from fish to man.
Traditional depictions of the Hindu god Vishnu reclining on the cosmic ocean (see illustration) help us to properly understand the nature of these two closely connected chakras.
Lord Vishnu presides over the Nabhi Chakra, through which he and his consort Shri Lakshmi sustain the body at its centre, the navel level. He is shown reclining on a green cosmic ocean, and with greenish skin. There is a clear connection with the water element.
Lord Brahma, god of creation, sits on a lotus (chakra) growing from Lord Vishnu's navel. This is symbolic of the creative Swadisthana chakra orbiting the Nabhi chakra as a sub-chakra satellite.
In Indian mythology, as all over the world, creativity is associated with the fire element, which is yellow/orange.
In Hindu culture Shri LakshmiVishnu is the aspect of the Divine who provides wealth. Shri Lakshmi is often depicted dispensing gold coins. Perhaps this is why the Nabhi often is associated with gold or yellow.
The Nabhi Chakra (also called the Manipura - City of Gems) manifests physically as the solar plexus. According to Wikipedia, the solar plexus is so called because its many radiating nerves resemble the sun. This may be the reason that the Nabhi chakra is associated with the fire element in some systems - the sun being fiery.
Ultimately the qualities of the chakras, and the aspects of the Divine which govern them, are closely allied anyway, and best experienced for oneself through thoughtless meditation, rather than argued over on a mental level.
Phra Mae Thorani is a Thai and Laotian Earth Mother goddess sometimes depicted beneath images of the Buddha.
The water she wrings from her hair represents detachment, which drowns the demons sent to distract the Buddha from attaining enlightenment.
The Buddha is often depicted with one hand touching the Earth, as a sign that he is seeking the Mother's aid in attaining liberation. This Earth-touching gesture is called the Bhumisparsha Mudra, and signifies the moment when the Demon Mara (delusion) challenged the Buddha's right to gain enlightenment. Mara claimed that his own spiritual achievements surpassed those of the Buddha, and his countless demon soldiers attested to this. The Buddha, in turn, called on the Mother Earth to attest to his worthiness. The testimony of a deity as important as the Earth Goddess trumped that of Mara's army.
Reading about The Buddha's use of the Mother Earth reminded me of the importance of regularly sitting on the ground (weather permitting). It gives a firm foundation to one's meditative practice, and an 'earth', in the electrical sense, for superfluous or unbalanced energies in the body and mind.
While sitting on the ground you can respectfully ask the Mother Earth to remove your physical and spiritual problems. This is something Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi has recommended.