Monday, August 25, 2008

Ananya Bhakti

Sanskrit Ananya means "without other"; bhakti means "devotion, love directed towards the Divine". The idea of a single Self - One without an other - is resisted by those who feel that, without a fundamental division between the individual soul and the Supreme Being, bhakti would not be possible (there must be an other to be the object of devotion).
The singular Self has no sense of subject or object, yet in It bhakti is not diminished at all, on the contrary, it is magnified infinitely, because the Self is nothing but pure devotion.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The left lobe

Jill Bolte Taylor was a neuroscientist working at Harvard’s brain research center when she experienced nirvana. Dr. Taylor says the right, creative lobe can be used to foster contentment. But she did it by having a stroke. On Dec. 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor, then 37, woke up in her apartment near Boston with a piercing pain behind her eye. A blood vessel in her brain had popped. Within minutes, her left lobe — the source of ego, analysis, judgment and context — began to fail her. Oddly, it felt great.

The left lobe of the brain is necessary for many important functions, including the ability to use verbal language; however, the interior monologue that most of us have running continuously in the left brain, and which is the basis of the ego, can make life joyless and limited.

The Kundalini, the energy awakened in the process of Sahaja Yoga, lifts the awareness out of both the left and right hemispheres and into the limbic area of the brain, without damaging its physical structure, and the capacity for language or analytical thought, unlike Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke.

You can watch a video of Bolte Taylor talking about her egolessness experience here:

Friday, August 22, 2008


Indian tribal painting of marriage dance

"... our civilisation is breaking down not because of a lack of independent reasoning, but of this re-linking step that forms a synthesised larger reasoning, perceiving and acting unit - a meta person."
- From a letter to New Scientist by Wade Schuette, USA

The word "re-ligion" means "re-linking" the individual to the whole. Instead, organised religion has become a divisive force.

Examples of meta-persons are: marriages in which neither partner dominates, and cultures. Schuette suggests that scientific rationality/reason must take this wider sense of personhood into account.
What seems irrational for the individual may be rational for the meta-person.
He also points out that the concept of meta-personhood is likely to be misconstrued as leftist ideology.

Universal Being

"You are a universal being."
- Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The word 'mysticism' sounds similar to 'mysterious', 'misty' or 'mythical', and because of this has become associated with things obscure, even obscurantist; however, a mystic is one who has a direct experience of the Self.
There can be nothing less obscure than the Self; after all, the Self is the seer, the experiencer, of all phenomena. By virtue of the fact that one 'inhabits' the Self, it is more concrete, in a sense, than the material world.
Mysticism is not occultism or parapsychology, it is simply the realisation of the advaita (non-dual) state.

The eye with which I see God
is the same with which God sees me.
My eye and God’s eye is one

and one sight, and one knowledge,
and one love.

- Meister Eckhart (medieval Christian

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oil Painting not invented in Europe

It's been discovered recently that oil painting was not invented in Europe, as previously thought. The division between Asia and Europe is largely an arbitrary one, and perhaps it doesn't matter where things originate; however, Eurocentrism is still alive and well, and blinding a lot of people to the cultural importance of 'Asia'.

Read more at:
The comment with the idea about the European Renaissance being a knock-on effect from developments in Asia, is worth investigating.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Feminine Aspect of the Trinity

Unusual depiction of a feminine Holy Spirit, flanked by Father and Son,
in a medieval church fresco.

Crosspost from:

"I recently ran across an interesting piece by a Baptist about his research and work with Biblical languages and his startling conclusions about who the Holy Spirit is revealed to be in Scripture. I think it is particularly interesting because of the conservative theological bent of Southern Baptists. It seems to echo some of the same things that Dr. Scott Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister and now Roman Catholic theologian has been saying.Here are some thoughts from R.P. Nettelhorst of the Quartz Hill School of Theology associated with the American Southern Baptist Convention. He asks on his site :

Is There a Question About the Gender of the Holy Spirit?

In my graduate Semitics program at UCLA, one of the languages I had to study was Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic written with rounded letters reminiscent of modern Arabic. Syriac was the language of people living in northern Mesopotamia, from at least 300 BC until the time Arabic became dominant in the region, around 1000 AD. Most of the Syriac documents available today were produced by a Monophysite branch of Christianity, today known as the Syrian Orthodox Church (monophysitism is the belief that Christ had but one nature). One striking puzzlement of the texts, at least to me, was the constant reference to the Holy Spirit as "she". I was aware, of course, that in Aramaic (and hence in the dialect known as Syriac) the natural gender of the word "spirit" was feminine; however, I was surprised to discover that this accident of grammar had resulted in a whole theology constructed around the femininity of the third person of the Godhead.
An example of Syriac theology is found in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas; it is usually assumed that this particular work was influenced by speculative gnostic Judaism because it contains the notion, that associated with God was a wisdom, or creative power - a spirit - which was feminine. In an invocation accompanying baptism, Thomas calls for the Holy Spirit:

Come, holy name of Christ that is above every name;
Come, power of the Most High and perfect compassion;
Come, thou highest gift;
Come, compassionate mother;
Come, fellowship of the male;
Come, thou (f.) that dost reveal the hidden mysteries;
Come, mother of seven houses, that thy rest may be in the eighth house.
(Acts of Thomas 2:27)

Come, silence that dost reveal the great deeds of the whole greatness;
Come thou that dost show forth the hidden things
And make the ineffable manifest;
Holy Dove that bearest the twin young;
Come, hidden Mother;
Come, thou that art manifest in thy deeds
and dost furnish joy and rest for all that are joined with thee;
Come and partake with us in this Eucharist
Which we celebrate in thy name,
and in the love-feast in which we are gathered together at thy call.
(Acts of Thomas 5:50)

After reading such materials I decided that Syrian Orthodox Christianity was somewhat heretical (though perhaps only through an accident of grammar), and so I wanted nothing to do with Syriac literature. I would find something else on which to do my dissertation. Then came the Spring of 1986. I was teaching advanced Hebrew, and I had decided to take the class through the book of Judges. As we read along, I noticed something odd about Judges 3:10: The Spirit of Yahweh came upon Caleb's younger brother...
In English, this passage from Judges doesn't appear startling, but in Hebrew something strange leapt out at me: "came upon" was a third person FEMININE verb, indicating it's subject "Spirit" was being understood as a feminine noun. Hebrew is not like Aramaic in its use of the word "spirit". While the word is exclusively feminine in Aramaic, in Hebrew it is sometimes masculine. Therefore, the question that came to mind was why had the author of Judges chosen here to make the Spirit of Yahweh feminine, when he could just as easily have made it masculine? Oh well.
I just shrugged my shoulders and went on, not overly concerned. Occasionally, I thought, one finds something inexplicable in the Bible: no big deal. But then came Judges 6:34. Again, "Spirit of Yahweh" was feminine.
At this point I decided to consult the concordance. Much to my surprise, every occurrence of "Spirit of Yahweh" in Judges is feminine. As I pondered that, I recalled Genesis 1:2, the first occurrence of "Spirit of God" in the Bible, and realized to my shock that it too is feminine.
Back to the concordance. Out of 84 OT uses of the word "spirit", in contexts traditionally assumed to be references to the Holy Spirit, 75 times it is either explicitly feminine or indeterminable (due to lack of a verb or adjective). Only nine times can "spirit" be construed as masculine, and in those cases it is unclear that it is a reference to God's Holy Spirit anyway. (Please see Appendix 3 for a complete list and detailed discussion of the usages.)
The New Testament references to the Holy Spirit are not helpful for conclusively deciding on the gender of the Holy Spirit, since "spirit" in Greek is neuter, and so is referred to as "it" by the New Testament writers.
The conclusion of all this is that our traditional assumption of a masculine Spirit is questionable; in fact, the evidence seems overwhelming that the Spirit should be viewed as "She", which does seem to make sense, since the other two members of the Godhead are labeled "Father" and "Son".
What are the theological implications of a feminine Holy Spirit? There are four:
A feminine Holy Spirit clarifies how women can also be said to be created in the "image of God". It has long been recognized that he Godhead must include some feminine aspects, since Genesis 1:26-27 explicitly states that both men and women were created in God's image.

A feminine Holy Spirit explains the identity of the personified wisdom in Proverbs 8:12-31:

I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
To fear Yahweh is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have understanding and power.
By me kings reignand rulers make laws that are just;
by me princes govern,
and all nobles who rule on earth.
I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
bestowing wealth on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.
Yahweh possessed me at the beginning of his work,
before his deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity,
from the beginning,
before the world began.
Where there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
before the hills, I was given birth,
before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.
I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon
on the face of the deep,
when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind....

Some commentators have tried to tie this personification of wisdom to the idea of Christ as divine "Word" [Gk. logos]. Unfortunately for this theory, the genders of the words in question get in the way. The gender of the word "wisdom" is feminine, and is therefore personified as a woman. This makes a direct identification of "wisdom" with "Christ" virtually impossible.
Other commentators have pictured "wisdom" as a created being, like an angel; better have been those who argue that the personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8 is simply a literary device, without objective reality.
However, if the Holy Spirit is feminine, then the identification is relatively easy: Genesis 1:2 pictures the Spirit of God hovering over the deep, active in creating the world, just as Proverbs describes. Both the Old and New Testament connect the idea of teaching and imparting wisdom with the function of the Holy Spirit (Ex. 31:3; 35:31; Acts 6:3; Ephesians 1:17; Luke 12:12; and John 14:25-26).
The third benefit of recognizing the femininity of the Holy Spirit is that it explains the subservient role that the Spirit plays. The Bible seems to indicate that the Spirit does not speak for itself or about itself; rather the Spirit only speaks what it hears. The Spirit is said to have come into the world to glorify Christ (See John 16:13-14 and Acts 13:2). In contrast, it should be noted that the Scripture represents both the Father and Son speaking from and of themselves.
Finally, a feminine Holy Spirit, with a Father and Son as the rest of the Trinity, may help explain why the family is the basic unit of human society."

In Hinduism, the Trinity is formed by Shri Shiva (Father), Shri Shakti (Mother) and Shri Ganesha (Son). ShivaShakti is described as a completely integrated whole - the word "subservient" implies a separation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Victor

The Buddha - it is written - was once asked whether he was a man or a god.
He replied: "I am neither a man nor a god, I am a victor".
He was referring to the fact that he had been victorious over his mind and it's constituents: desire and ego.

The one who realises the Self, does not become a god, nor does he remain an ordinary man, for he is identical with Infinite Being, which is beyond all categories. The individual cannot become 'God'. That which is unreal cannot become real.
The Bhumisparsha Mudra (Touching the Earth Gesture)
At the moment the Buddha attained victory over the ego, He touched the Mother Earth with His hand, signifying that the victory belonged to the Goddess. Enlightenment cannot be attained without Her Grace.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Newton by William Blake

The Enlightenment movement advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded themselves as a courageous elite, and regarded their purpose as leading the world toward progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition, and tyranny (which they believed began during a historical period they called the 'Dark Ages')
Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Enlightenment philosophers was the idea that one should have the courage to find out things for oneself, rather than blindly accepting received knowledge; "Dare to know", declared Kant. This attitude has freed humanity from a lot of suffering caused by superstition, intolerance and misplaced faith. But many artists and poets, such as William Blake, recognised that the increasing emphasis on rationality has a darker, unenlightened, side. Rationality is often the rationalisation used by the ego to justify and disguise its self-interest. Neuroscientists, such as Chris Frith, point out that very few mental processes are conscious. Most decisions are arrived at unconsciously and are justified afterwards (rationalised) by the conscious mind. This is largely a good thing - if we had to think about every little part of our lives, life would be impossible. But it means that a lot of what it considered rational thought is illusory.

Many apparently irrational decisions humans make on a day to day basis, turn out to be sensible when seen in a broader social context, for example. The rationalism of the ego is often irrational in the bigger picture. The equation: rational = good, depends on whose rationality we are talking about: the individual, society or the natural world. Einstein said that without religion, science is lame; and without science, religion is blind. But also science is blind without religion in it's true sense of joining (Latin religare) the individual with the universal Self. Without Self-knowledge, science is blind to the prejudices of the ego. But Self-knowledge is a frightening prospect to the ego, for it is the prospect of discovering it's own fictionality.

"In the 21st century, we are discovering more and more about the brain and the role of emotion, and challenging old ideas about how we learn, make decisions, act and remember. This is already beginning to make us revise our notions of what constitutes reason - and that, in turn, is bound to have consequences for our attitudes to reason and to the endeavours of scientists." -Chris Frith

In their book The Dialectic of Enlightenment, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno wrote a penetrating critique of what they perceived as the contradictions of Enlightenment thought: Enlightenment was seen as being at once liberatory and, through the domination of instrumental rationality tending towards totalitarianism.