Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kuan Yin












Digital montage by Graham Brown.
Like the Indian goddess Shri Jagadamba, Kuan Yin was said to have ridden a tiger.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shri Nimbarka

Shri Nimbarka is a philosopher saint from the 13th or 14th century AD, who is believed to be an incarnation of the Sudarshana Chakra (discus) of Lord Vishnu. He was born in the region of India now known as Andhra Pradesh, and taught the philosophy of Dvaitadvaita - duality and non-duality at the same time.
To illustrate this principle he used the analogy of a snake in a coiled state. The coil is different to the snake yet it consists of the snake. The myriad forms that we see in the world are different to the Self/Brahman and yet they consist of the Self. So in one sense, world and Self are different, but in another sense they are one and the same.

The god Brahma, disguised as a renunciant, once visited Shri Nimbarka. When they had finished discussing philosophy, the renunciant got up to take leave but Nimbarka told him that he should stay and accept a meal. Lord Brahma replied that the sun had already set, and it was against the rules of ascetics for a renunciant to eat after sunset. Nimbarka did not want to break the rules of hospitality, neither did he want his guest to break the rules of asceticism, so he placed some of his radiance in a neem tree where it shone as brightly as the sun, making a day of night. Lord Brahma was pleased with the saint, and gave him the name Nimbarka, meaning sun in the neem tree.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“He who is different from me does not impoverish me - he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves - in Man... For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.”
 

“I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind.” 


“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.”

“But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise.”

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”

“He who must travel happily must travel light.”

“The important thing is to strive toward a goal which is not immediately visible. That goal is not the concern of the mind, but of the spirit.” 




“We do not pray for immortality, but only not to see our acts and all things stripped suddenly of all their meaning; for then it is the utter emptiness of everything reveals itself.”

“Fais de ta vie un rêve, et d'un rêve, une réalité.” 
(make of your life a dream, and of a dream, a reality)


“The arms of love encompass you with your present, your past, your future, the arms of love gather you together.”

“Behind all seen things lies something vaster; everything is but a path, a portal or a window opening on something other than itself.”

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams...”

“Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.”

“For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have; and if you go to draw at the fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.”

“Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit.”

“if you want to build a ship, don't drum up the people to collect wood and dont assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

“In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude.”

“Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The World is a Bridge

Islam and Christianity are not as far apart as is generally believed. Indeed, a bridge was once made between the two faiths. 
The Muslim Emperor Akbar the Great had the following saying of Jesus inscribed prominently on the entry gate to the Mosque adjacent to his palace and administrative capital, at Fatehpur Sikri: 

"Jesus, Son of Mary (on whom be peace) said: The World is a Bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen." 

Visiting Fatehpur Sikri as a young backpacker, the English writer, William Dalrymple, was surprised to discover this inscription on a muslim monument, and later to find out that it is one of several sayings that Islam has retained but which western Christianity has lost.



These sayings of Jesus circulated around the Muslim world from Spain to China, and many are still familiar to educated Muslims today. They fill out and augment the profoundly reverential picture of Christ painted in the Koran where Jesus is called the Messiah, the Messenger, the Prophet, Word and Spirit of God, though – in common with some currents of heterodox Christian thought of the period – his outright divinity is questioned. 
There are also frequent mentions of his mother Mary who appears in no fewer than 13 surahs (chapters) and who is said to be exalted "above the women of the two [celestial and temporal] worlds" and, like Jesus, a "model" for Muslims. Mary is in fact the only woman mentioned by her proper name in the entire Koran, and appears more often in the Koran (34 times) than she does in the Gospels, where she is mentioned only 19 times.

-  William Dalrymple

Islamic nativity scene of Jesus' birth, circa 1720 (photo: National Museum, New Delhi)

Mughal Nativity Scene, National Museum, Delhi





Akbar the Great laid the foundations for the non-denominational religious neutrality of the modern, secular Indian state.



Read the full article

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sophia

Vladimir Solovyov (sometimes written in English as Soloviev) (1853-1900), was a Russian philosopher, poet and mystic. He is considered by many Western academics to be Russia's greatest philosopher. 
Solovyov had three encounters with Sophia, the Divine Feminine. 
The first encounter occurred in childhood. The second time he was in London, studying at the British Museum, and he saw her under the gold and azure dome of the Reading Room. He saw only her face, but he pleaded with her to see her full form. 

"She asked him to meet her again in Egypt. He went to Egypt and Sophia once again appeared to him in the desert at dawn. This time she revealed herself to him fully, completely transforming him. She also showed him a vision of the Earth transfigured, all of nature, all things, unified within her form as the Divine Feminine. After his return to Russia, Solovyov briefly taught philosophy at Moscow University, but soon left because he disliked university politics. He then moved to St. Petersberg where he wrote and taught. Solovyov taught an engaged Christianity of service and activism, in which the binding power of Sophia - the Mother/Wisdom/Love nature of God - could heal the world. For Solovyov art could be a modern form of prophecy to bring greater awareness of this mystical unity to humanity. Among his many works of poetry, his masterpiece is Tri Svidaniya or "Three Meetings" describing his three mystical encounters with Sophia. In his poetry, his encounters with Sophia are permeated with radiant azure and violet.
Solovyov was a good friend of the great Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky."
- Source Poetry Chaikhana

What is, what was, what shall forever be -
All, all was held here in one steady gaze...
The seas and rivers blue beneath me,
Distant woods, snow-capped peaks.

I saw all, and all was one --
A single image of womanly beauty...
Pregnant with vastnesses!
Before me, in me -- only You.


-Vladimir Solovyev, Three Meetings, 1875

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Make an Origami Lotus

















This could be fun for the kids to try on a wet day. YouTube is full of these wonderful instructional videos these days. So much easier than trying to follow diagrams in a book.
It's in Portuguese, but there are English subtitles. I probably could have found an English video of something similar, but I love the sound of Portuguese. Their word for red sounds like English vermillion.
Strictly speaking, there are no red lotuses, as far as I know; only pink or white. Waterlilies come in many other colours, however. The blue lotus, is actually a type of waterlily. 

Friday, October 07, 2011

Miniature Painting



















Graham Brown, Angel Reading, Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 cm, 2011.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Emptiness and Joy

"To enjoy Sahaja Yoga, in Niranand (absolutely without anything else but joy) then one has to know that he should give up all the myths with which he is living. All kinds of myths there are. Some people have myths: “We are very poor”. Some have myths: “We are very rich”. Some have this thing that “We are very unhappy”. Some have that “We are very happy”. All kinds of myths these are. These are all myths. What is the thing is the complete emptiness; complete emptiness. That is joy. This emptiness is filled with joy. Complete emptiness. Then you don’t expect anything from anyone. And this emptiness from within, it actually gives chance to compassion and love to enter into you. Supposing there is something in a pot already, what can you pour into it? What can you give into it? So if you are completely empty within, there’s nothing of this nonsense of the past and the future: the aspirations, the ambitions, all those things, and falsehood. If you just become empty, it is filled in with nothing but joy, and joy of such a eternal nature. You never asked for it; you do not look forward to it. It is there, all the time. And this is what I wish today you people can feel it: the quality is of compassion and love, fearlessness and courage and the complete emptiness. In this emptiness, then, you are not worried about what you have to achieve."
- Shri Mataji's Navaratri talk 1994

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Ganges

Here are some stills from the beautifully shot BBC documentary series Ganges.
The last image is a photo of a Hindu personification of the river, the goddess Shri Ganga.



























































































I once visited the Ganges at Haridwar. I recall the water seemed to be carrying flecks of mica, which gave it a magical glitter. Splashing some of the water on my head, and soaking my feet,  I found that a cold and various aches and pains I'd been nursing for several days, simply vanished instantaneously. Perhaps is was psychological, but the effect was unexpectedly dramatic. The water was too cold and the current too fast to risk a full emersion, though I did do this on a subsequent trip to the confluence of the Ganges and Jumuna rivers, at Allahabad, where the water is much warmer.

The Self is like the Ganga, which has its source in majestic peaks, originating from the purity of snow, and ultimately merges with the ocean of the universal.
A river has many 'selves' - sources, tributaries, rapids, wide slow meanders, deltas, mouths - yet all these aspects are inseparable from the Self of the entire river. The identity of a river is not altered by its currents and waves.
In Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, the protagonist learns from a river that time is an illusion. From the perspective of an object floating down the river, it seems as if passing things are lost irretrievably; but from the perspective of the river itself, nothing is ever lost. All the past and future are contained within the present moment. This is why meditation is such a powerful thing. Though it seems like it contains nothing, it contains all that ever was and will be. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Annihilation of ego

"Fanaa (فناء) is the Sufi term for extinction. It means to annihilate the self, while remaining physically alive. Persons having entered this state are said to have no existence outside of, and be in complete unity with, Allah.
Fanaa is similar to the concepts of nirvana in Buddhism and Hinduism or moksha in Hinduism, which also aim for annihilation of the self. Fanaa may be attained by constant meditation and by contemplation on the attributes of God, coupled with the denunciation of human attributes."
-Wikipedia

The 'self' to be annihilated refers to the ego, while 'Allah' is the Self of the universe.
The term Jihad originally referred to the struggle against one's own inner enemies: the false desires and aversions, and ego that drag us away from the Self. Like so many things in religion, a spiritual, internal concept has been debased into a physical, external one, and has come to be interpreted as war against others instead of the ego-self.

"In western societies the term jihad is often translated by non-muslims as "holy war". Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous. Muslim authors, in particular, tend to reject such an approach, stressing non-militant connotations of the word."
-Wikipedia

The Goddess fighting demons (symbolising inner enemies such as lust, greed and the ego), Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Goddess in Shelley

Alastor: or, The Spirit of Solitude

Mother of this unfathomable world!
Favour my solemn song, for I have loved
Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched
Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps,
And my heart ever gazes on the depth
Of thy deep mysteries.
-Shelley



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Foot-soaking

Mughal miniature painting of a princess cooling her feet in a pool of water.


Meditation is the best way of connecting with the Universal Self, beyond thought. Often, especially with busy modern lifestyles, the subtle energies in the body are not in balance, which disturbs the attention and makes it difficult to go into a state of thoughtless awareness. One method to balance the energies of the subtle body, as an adjunct to meditation, is to use water as a treatment. Foot-soaking is a simple and relaxing technique taught by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga. It is used to cool down the fiery sun channel on the right side of the subtle body, to bring it into balance. For an even more cooling effect, a bag of ice can be held on the right side of the body over the liver.
When I was a child, if I was feeling unwell, my own mother used to fill a basin of water with salt in for me to put my feet in. This seems to be a traditional treatment that has been forgotten about.
You can footsoak at the sea, as the water is salty. The salt acts to absorb the negative energy and toxins from the body. The soles of the feet seem to have larger sweat pores that can exude the toxins more readily.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Shri Ganesha Chaturthi Greetings

Shri Ganesha, Bangladesh, 11-12th century.


I was a little late posting this; Ganesha Chaturthi was on Thursday this year, and it's now the early hours of Friday. Anyway, this Hindu festival is an auspicious day sacred to the Elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati. Chatur means 'four', referring to the fourth day of the lunar cycle, at this time of year. The number four is associated with Lord Ganesha, who is connected with the earth and the foundation of all things.
He is usually depicted with four arms, (though often with more) perhaps representing the four directions of space, as He gives us our sense of direction. He also rules over the carbon atom, which has four valencies, and is the basis of life.
In Australia, the land of Shri Ganesha, this special day also coincides with the start of Spring, when the earth becomes fragrant.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Swa

In Sanskrit, the ancient Indo-Euroean language of India, Swa means "self" or "own".
Swedish, like most European languages is descended from an ancient Indo-European tongue very similar to Sanskrit, and reading a brief history of Sweden recently, I was interested to discover that the "Swe" in Swede is thought to have come from an old Indo-European word meaning "us" or "our own" (people). It suggests that the ancient term for self could be used in a collective sense. Today the word 'self' refers to something entirely limited to the individual.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Owner of the Organism

The Innermost principle of man's nature,
the so-called 'Owner of the Organism''
is unmanifest, unthinkable, unchangeable...
One person beholds the Self as a marvel,
another speaks of It as a marvel,
still another hears and learns of It as a marvel,
being instructed in the sacred esoteric tradition by a guru.
Yet, though having heard and learned,
no one has any real understanding of what It is.
-Bhagavad Gita


Below: Shri Krishna reveals his universal form (Vishvarupa) to Arjuna.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Treasure of the Heart(h)

There once was a pious rabbi who had a dream in which a voice told him to go to far off Prague, where under the great bridge to the royal castle he would discover a hidden treasure. This same commanding dream was repeated twice. 
He finally decided to go, making the long journey by foot. On arriving in Prague he found the bridge; but as there were sentinels posted there day and night, he did not venture to dig. However, day after day he returned and loitered around, unostentatiously trying to study the situation. 
Finally, he attracted the attention of one of the guards. "Have you lost anything, my good man?"he asked. The rabbi told him of his dream. The officer laughed and exclaimed, "You poor man, to have worn out a pair of shoes travelling all this way only because of a dream! Why I had a foolish dream once. A voice commanded me to go to Kracow and search for the home of a rabbi Eisik, son of Jekel, where I would find a great treasure buried in a dirty corner behind the stove. Imagine believing is such a dream." and he laughed again. 
Rabbi Eisik bowing politely bid the officer farewell. He then hurried back to Kracow. There he dug under the neglected corner behind his stove and found the treasure, thus putting an end to his poverty. 

In commenting on this tale, Heinrich Zimmer in The Choice is Always Ours writes: 
Now the real treasure, to end our misery and trials, is never far away; it is not to be sought in any distant region, it lies buried in the innermost recesses of our own home, that is to say, our own being. And it lies behind the stove, the life-and-warmth-giving center of the structure of our existence, our heart of hearts - if we could only dig. But there is the odd and persistent fact that it is only after a faithful journey to a distant region, a foreign country, a strange land, that the meaning of the inner voice that is to guide our quest can be revealed to us. And together with this odd and persistent fact there goes another, namely, that the one who reveals to us the meaning of our cryptic message, must be a stranger, of another creed and a foreign race.

The German Indologist, Heinrich Zimmer was one of Carl Jung's few male friends. After Zimmer's death in 1943, the well-known anthropologist Joseph Campbell (another great friend) edited his writings for publication. 
Zimmer felt that Western civilisation was at a crossroads; a turning point that had been reached in India around 700 BC: an encounter with the Self of the Universe.

Rembrandt, The Philosopher in Meditation.
A wonderful interpretation of the symbolism behind this painting here.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Last Threshold

A Hall
The road led straight to the temple.
Notre Dame, though not Gothic at all.
The huge doors were closed. I chose one on the side,
Not to the main building- to its left wing,
The one in green copper, worn into gaps below.
I pushed. Then it was revealed:
An astonishing large hall, in warm light.
Great statues of sitting women-goddesses,
In draped robes, marked it with a rhythm.
Color embraced me like the interior of a purple-brown flower
Of unheard-of size. I walked, liberated
From worries, pangs of conscience, and fears.
I knew I was there as one day I would be.
I woke up serene, thinking that this dream
Answers my question, often asked:
How is it when one passes the last threshold?
Czeslaw Milosz

Czesław Miłosz (30 June 1911 – 14 August 2004) was a Polish poet, prose writer and translator of Lithuanian origin.
Miłosz observed that those who became dissidents were not necessarily those with the strongest minds, but rather those with the weakest stomachs; the mind can rationalize anything, he said, but the stomach can take only so much. 
His nonfiction book The Captive Mind (1953) is a classic of anti-Stalinism.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Love over Ego


An early Chola Bronze Figure of Siva Nataraja. Tamil Nadu, South India. Circa 950-1000 A.D

This exquisite South Indian bronze represents Lord Shiva, the embodiment of Universal Self or Love.
He is shown with one foot subduing a dwarf demon, representing the ego and ignorance (the small self). One of the left hands gestures towards the other foot, signifying that the way to Self-realisation is through devotion (in Indian culture, the feet of divine beings are a particular focus of worship). Poet saints have often referred to the Feet of the Lord or the Goddess as a place of refuge from the devastating illusions of the world.
The upper right hand holds a damaru (small drum), a symbol of creation; while the far left hand holds the fire of cosmic dissolution. 
For the Self there is no Creation and end of the world. Self and World are one and the same. The world is brought into being, and annihilated, from moment to moment. There is no such thing as a time of creation in the distant past, nor a future doomsday to dread.
The fourth hand is held in the abhaya mudra (gesture of reassurance), telling the viewer not to have fear.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kamadhenu and Al Buraq

Kamadhenu, The Wish-Fulfilling Cow, with Shiva and Parvati, Indian calendar art.

The Hindi Goddess Shri Kamadhenu is sometimes depicted as a cow, but also as a winged cow with a peacock's tail and the head of a woman. This iconography is very similar to that of Al Buraq, the feminine angelic being who carried the Prophet Muhammad on Her back on the Night Journey, and who is an example of the Divine Feminine in Islam.
Read more.




Friday, June 17, 2011

Anatta

A parable is given in the Pali Stanzas of the Sister Elders. There was a mother, we read, who had lost six children: one remained, a daughter. But eventually this child too died, and the mother was disconsolate. The Buddha came to her; and he said: "Many hundreds of children have we buried, you and I, hosts of kindred, in the times that are gone. Do not lament for this dear little daughter; four and eighty thousand with the same name have been burned on the funeral pyre by you before. Which among them is the one whom you mourn?".
- Heinrich Zimmer, Philosophies of India.

It seems highly improbable that any one individual could have had scores of thousands of children with the same name, even if they had lived thousands of lives. And regressing only a few hundred lifetimes, one would reach a prehistoric period in which the name did not even exist. So the sense received from the Buddha's words is that "you and I" - the woman, himself, all beings that are and ever were - are the immortal, universal Self who has lived all lives, borne and lost all children. 
One of the central teachings of Buddhism is the concept of anatta (non-existence of self); which is often interpreted to mean not only that individual egos are an illusion, but that there is no universal Self either - all is void of being (sunyata). However, this story suggests that the Buddha did believe in the universal Self  described in the Upanishads. Though believe is the wrong word - He knew.

(painting by Waldmuller)

That is Self

"He through Whom we see, taste, smell, feel, enjoy, know everything, He is that Self.
Knowing that by which one perceives both dream and waking states, the great omnipresent Self, the wise man goes beyond sorrow.
Knowing that the individual self, eater of the fruit of action, is the universal Self, maker of past and future, he knows he has nothing to fear.
Born in the beginning from meditation, born from the waters, having entered the secret place of the heart, He looks forth through beings. That is Self.
- Katha Upanishad

The Indian actor Sabu, in a scene from the 1947 film Black Narcissus.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"There was no self"

One night in 1977, at the age of 29, after having suffered from long periods of suicidal depression, Eckhart Tolle experienced an inner transformation. That night he awakened from his sleep, suffering from feelings of depression that were "almost unbearable," but then experienced a life-changing epiphany. Recounting the experience, Tolle says:

I couldn’t live with myself any longer. And in this a question arose without an answer: who is the ‘I’ that cannot live with the self? What is the self? I felt drawn into a void. I didn’t know at the time that what really happened was the mind-made self, with its heaviness, its problems, that lives between the unsatisfying past and the fearful future, collapsed. It dissolved. The next morning I woke up and everything was so peaceful. The peace was there because there was no self. Just a sense of presence or “beingness,” just observing and watching.

Tolle recalls going out for a walk in London the next morning, and finding that “everything was miraculous, deeply peaceful. Even the traffic." The feeling continued, and he began to feel a strong underlying sense of peace in any situation. For a period of about two years after this, he spent much of his time sitting, “in a state of deep bliss," on park benches in Russell Square, Central London, "watching the world go by.” He stayed with friends, in a Buddhist monastery, or otherwise slept rough on Hampstead Heath. His family thought him “irresponsible, even insane." Tolle changed his first name from Ulrich to Eckhart, reportedly in homage to the German philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckhart. Tolle's books on spirituality have become best-sellers.

John Constable
Hampstead Heath with a Rainbow

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi once described Hampstead Heath, in London, as the "trigger" of the Heart Chakra of the World. It is a wild place miraculously preserved in one of the biggest cities on Earth, where William Blake would often walk.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Silence Quotes

"Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... "
-- Jean Arp

"We can do more work in the silence than we can by moving the lips and letting the mouth make a continuous noise. That interferes with our own thinking as well as with other people's. There is a stillness in a thinker's mind; there is a quietness in a thinker's presence, where even words are entirely unnecessary."
--Robert Beesley

"Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute."
-- Josh Billings

"Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together."
--Thomas Carlyle

"Sound has spoiled the most ancient of the world's arts, the art of pantomime, and has canceled out the great beauty that is silence. "
-- Charlie Chaplin

"Silence is a true friend who never betrays."
--Confucius

"The more articulate somebody is, the more suspicious I am of them. I like to feel that the important things remain unsaid. "
-- Daniel Day-Lewis

"The words the happy say Are paltry melody But those the silent feel Are beautiful-- "
-- Emily Dickinson

"A properly kept silence is a beautiful thing; it is nothing less than the father of very wise thoughts."
--Diodicus

"Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent."
--Dionysius the Elder

"Silence is the mother of truth."
--Benjamin Disraeli

"Sometimes the silence can be like thunder. "
-- Bob Dylan

"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

"Nothing more enhances authority than silence. It is the crowning virtue of the strong, the refuge of the weak, the modesty of the proud, the pride of the humble, the prudence of the wise, and the sense of fools."
--Charles de Gaulle

"I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind, yet, I'm ungrateful to those teachers. "
-- Kahlil Gibran

"Silence is argument carried on by other means."
-- Che Guevara

"We in the "developed" world seem to have many auditory strategies that insulate us from the presence of silence, simplicity, and solitude. When I return to Western culture after time in desert, mountain or forest, I discover how we have filled our world with a multiplicity of noises, a symphony of forgetfulness that keeps our won thoughts and realizations, feelings and intuitions out of audible range."
--Joan Halifax

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tron Legacy

The science fiction film Tron Legacy explores Buddhist/yoga themes of non-duality (advaita) and humanity's struggle with the ego.
Jeff Bridges, plays Kevin Flynn, a character trapped inside a virtual universe, the Grid, he has initially designed, but which has taken on a life of its own. His ego self has manifested as Clu, a ruthless perfectionist control freak seeking total domination of, not only the cyber world, but the 'real' world. 
Realising that direct confrontation with Clu (ego) only strengthens him, Flynn uses meditation to integrate himself with the digital world he has created, while his companion and confidante Quorra (played by Olivia Wilde) fights Clu's minions. She is a kind of shakti figure (divine feminine active principle) who acts while Flynn rests in a state of non-action. Quorra tells Flynn's son, who has entered the Grid in order to find his father, that Flynn is trying to "remove the self from the equation". 
Wilde describes Quorra as being like Joan of Arc, a child warrior, with innocence and optimism, led by some greater power.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Alcohol and Cancer

Forget safe drinking levels - any amount of alcohol could give you cancer. Alcoholic drinks and ethanol are carcinogenic to humans and there's no evidence there's a safe consumption threshold to avoid cancer, the Cancer Council says in the Medical Journal of Australia. There's convincing evidence that alcohol is a cause of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel (in men) and breast (in women), the council says in a position statement. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of bowel cancer in women, and liver cancer, and, because it might contribute to weight gain, it could also be associated with cancers linked to excess weight and obesity, the council says. It's bad news for those justifying the occasional drink as a preventer of coronary heart disease. "The previously reported role of alcohol in reducing heart disease risk in light-to- moderate drinkers appears to have been overestimated," the council said. Drinking alcohol might have played a dominant role in defining Australian culture for more than 200 years, the council says. "It is also an important cause of illness, injury and death, whether resulting from short-term episodes of intoxication or from long-term, chronic use," it says. The only way to reduce the risk of cancer is to limit your drinks or avoid alcohol altogether.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shri Chakra




















Also called S(h)ri Yantra, the Shri Chakra is a sacred Indian cosmological diagram consisting of 9 isosceles triangles, 5 downward pointing (representing 5 aspects of the Shakti - the primordial divine feminine power) and four pointing upwards (representing four aspects of Shiva - the primordial unmanifest masculine principle) forming a structure of 43 triangles, representing 43 deities, or aspects of the Self. 
The central diagram is enclosed within two lotuses, the inner of 8 petals, and the outer of 16 petals. Then three concentric circles. Around this is the bhupura (palace of the Earth) with four gates representing the four directions of space.
At the centre of the diagram is a dot known as the bindu, which represents the undivided Self, beyond the duality of male and female.
The Shri Chakra was described by Shri Shankaracharya, in his Soundarya Lahari (Wave of Beauty). Shri Mataji has commented that the diagram also represents the chakra system seen looking down from the sahasrara (Crown Chakra)
The central part of the diagram, is a lot harder to construct than it looks, as the lines must intersect accurately or small superfluous triangles will be created. Additionally, the apexes of the triangles must touch the horizontal lines. 
Here's a link to some interesting research on Shri Chakra: sriyantraresearch.com

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nikola Tesla

"What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the Earth and the elimination of egoism and pride. Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment."
- Nikola Tesla 1919
(thanks to Peter H for this quote)


Tesla studied Sanskrit, and used various terms from Vedic philosophy, in his scientific writings.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sage Kapila

Sage Kapila in his Hermitage, Illustration from the Ramayana, Kangra or Garhwal.



This miniature resembles some of the cosmographical paintings that are a feature of Indian art. The sage, like the innermost Self, sits at the centre of all things, in a state of Kaivalya (isolation, detachment).
Read more

C.S. Lewis' Vision of the Goddess

"The reason why I asked if there were another river was this. All down one long aisle of the forest the undersides of the leafy branches had begun to tremble with dancing light; and on earth I knew nothing so likely to produce this appearance as the reflected lights cast upward by moving water. A few moments later I realised my mistake. Some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it.
First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers - soundlessly falling, lightly drifting flowers, though by the standards of the ghost-world each petal would have weighed a hundredweight and their fall would have been the crashing of boulders. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys on one hand, and girls on the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who reads that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done. …
‘And who are all these young men and women on each side?’
‘They are her sons and daughters.’
‘She must have had a very large family, Sir.’
‘Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.’
‘Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?’
‘No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. …
‘Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.’
I looked at my teacher in amazement.
‘Yes’, he said, ‘It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life’."
(C.S.Lewis, The Great Divorce: a dream (London, 1946)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Self-rule

The Goddess Bhavani giving Her sword to Shivaji Maharaj.

According to legend, the Goddess Bhavani, presented Her sword to Shivaji Maharaj, to help him free the Maratha nation from oppression, and to establish self rule ("Hindavi Swarajya").

Without political freedom, or self-rule, it is difficult for a people to attain Self-realisation. For this reason Shri Mataji took part in the freedom struggle of India prior to giving Self-realisation.

The sword was given to the British Royal Family at the end of the 19th century, and - I like to think - acted as a kind of amulet helping to save Britain from invasion in two world wars. 
But perhaps now is the time for it to return to Maharashtra where it means most to people. 

Shri Bhavani is a form of the Goddess worshipped particularly in Maharashtra. Her name means 'Giver of life'.

Despite the persecution of his people by a so-called 'Muslim' Empire, Shivaji respected all religions, including Islam. The Muslim Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, was a fundamentalist, intolerant of other religions, and oppressed Hindus, undoing the interfaith reforms of his ancestor Akbar the Great. Shivaji wrote a letter to Aurangzeb, telling him that Islam and Hinduism are two complementary aspects of the Sacred. As in a painting, one is the outline and the other the colouring, he said.

May the Goddess free the oppressed peoples of the word from despotism and persecution.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

The First Mother










“This primordial nature is the breath of the Merciful God in his aspect as Lord. It flows throughout the universe and manifests Truth in all its parts. It is the first mother through which Truth manifests itself to itself and generates the universe”.

-Ibn al 'Arabi 

Ibn 'Arabī (1165 – 1240) was an Andalusian Moorish Sufi mystic and philosopher.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Neo-surrealism



Some Neo-surrealist images by Shana and Robert Parke Harrison

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monotheism

"We are told monotheism began with the Jews, that it was the great "spiritual invention of the religious leader Moses." This is not so. The worship of one God, like everything else in religion, began with the worship of the Goddess."

Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor
The Great Cosmic Mother

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Haruki Murakami

Many years ago a friend lent me a copy of Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It was unlike any other novel I'd read previously, not necessarily one I'ld recommend, but certainly unique. Below is his take on ego and the Self in relation to the Tokyo Sarin attacks by the pseudo-Buddhist sect Aum Supreme Truth.
A much debated point is whether the Tibetan Government-In-Exile leader the Dalai Lama XIV has met, endorsed or supported Asahara and Aum Shinrikyo. He did meet Asahara; he doesn't deny this, and there are photos to prove it. His inner circle members supported Aum Shinrikyo during the time when the group struggled to obtain the legal religious organization status. The Dalai Lama at least admitted that this error offered proof that he was not a “living Buddha” but it's a shame he neglected to tell us all that before making the error.
In Eastern spirituality, guru and Self are said to be one and the same. Surrendering the ego to the guru is surrendering it to one's own true Self. But the guru has to be a Satguru (true master) like the Buddha himself. To surrender to a false guru is disastrous. 

Of course, the individual is free to try to overcome desires and attachments and so on, but from an objective point of view it seems extremely dangerous to allow another, a guru, to take control of your own ego. Are there still many believers or ex-believers who don't recognize this?
   I don't think many have thought about it properly. Gautama Buddha said: "The Self is the true master of the Self" and "Keep the Self an island, approaching nothing." In other words, Buddhist disciples practice asceticism in order to find the true Self. They find impurities and attachments, and attempt to extinguish these. But what Mr. Matsumoto (Asahara) did was equate "Self" and "attachments." He said that in order to get rid of the ego, the Self must be disposed of as well. Humans love the "Self," so they suffer, and if the "Self" can be discarded then a shining true Self will emerge. But this is a complete reversal of Buddhist teachings. The Self is what should be discovered, not discarded. Terrorist crimes like the gas attack result from the process of easily giving up on the Self. If the Self is lost, then people will become completely insensitive to murder and terrorism.
   In the final analysis, Aum created people who had discarded their Selves and just followed orders. Therefore enlightened practitioners in Aum, those most steeped in Aum doctrine, are not truly enlightened people who have mastered the truth. It's a perversion for believers who supposedly have renounced the world to run around collecting donations in the name of "salvation."
Haruki Murakami
The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche  (interview with members of Aum Shinrikyo)

Self-Knowledge







"Knowledge of the Self is the only true knowledge."
-Unknown

"The Kingdom of Heaven is within you and whoever knows himself shall find it. Know your Self."
-Jesus, Oxyrhynchus Manuscript.

"Every human being's essential nature is perfect and faultless, but after years of immersion in the world we easily forget our roots and take on a counterfeit nature."
-Lao-tzu

"This above all, to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
-William Shakespeare

"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie."
-William Shakespeare

"But if a man happens to find himself he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the the days of his life."
-James Michener

"He who knows himself, knows the All"
-Hermes Trismegistos

"Learn what you are and be such."
-Pindar

"The greatest thing in the world is to know how to be oneself."
-Montaigne

"Resolve to be thyself: and Know, that he
Who finds himself, loses his misery."
-Matthew Arnold

"Gnosis involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself. And to know oneself....is to know human nature and human destiny.....Yet to know oneself, at the deepest level, is simultaneously, to know God."
-Elaine Pagels

I am not I
I am this one
Who goes by my side without my seeing him
whom, at times, I go to see
and whom, at times, I forget.
He who is silent, serene, when I speak,
he who pardons, sweetly, when I resent,
he who passes through places I am not,
he who will remain standing when I die."
-Juan Ramon Jimenez (1881-1958)

"It's wrong to say I think. Better to say: I am thought....I is an other."
-Arthur Rimbaud, 1871

"Love opens the doors into everything, as far as I can see, including and perhaps most of all, the door into one's own secret, and often terrible and frightening, real self."
-May Sarton Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Self as Infinite Beauty

Estranged from Beauty - none can be -
For Beauty is Infinity -
And power to be finite ceased
Before Identity was leased.

-Emily Dickinson

The Gentlest Mother

Nature - the Gentlest Mother is,
Impatient of no child -
... Her Golden finger on Her lip -
Wills Silence - Everywhere -

-Emily Dickinson


Dennis Doheny, Renewal

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Goddess in the Bible













In this detail from the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo depicts the serpent in the Tree of Knowledge as a female entity. Serpents are ancient symbols of wisdom associated with the Goddess. It's interesting that Michelangelo visually links, through juxtaposition and hair colour, the serpent of wisdom and the angel driving Adam and Eve out of Eden, suggesting almost that they were one being, a single aspect of the Self which manifested to push humanity out the blissful ignorance of a pre-human, animal-like state into a higher level of evolution.

For Wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. For in Her there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent and pure and most subtle. For Wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of Her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
- The Book of Wisdom of Solomon (Volume IV)


Book of Wisdom or Wisdom of Solomon or simply Wisdom is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach).
There are instances in the book of Proverbs where Wisdom is personified as a female. Female imagery begins the book of Proverbs in Chapters 1-9 and also ends the book in chapter 31. In Proverbs 9:1-6 she is depicted as a figure with a home inviting those in need of wisdom to enter. She says "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight." In Proverbs 8:15-21, she not only identifies herself as the divine companion, but also as the source of order in society and success in life. In chapter 31:10 she is personified as the ideal woman for an Israelite man in a section titled Ode to a Capable Wife. There is debate about the status and place of Woman Wisdom in relation to the divine. Some have interpreted her as a companion to the divine, an abstraction, an extension to the divine, or a Goddess. Further information about the nature of Wisdom is found in Proverbs 8:22-30. In these verses "wisdom speaks of herself as having been created before anything else and as Yahweh's companion and even assistant at the creation of the ordered world." It has also been argued that personifying Wisdom as a woman adds a mythical nature to proverbs. This would line up with the ancient Near Eastern view that every male deity had a female counterpart.
-Wikipedia

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Boteh (Paisley)


Resembling a twisted teardrop, the kidney-shaped paisley is Iranian and Indian in origin, but its western name derives from the town of Paisley, in central Scotland. 
In Tamil the design is known as mankolam and has long been used in India. It resembles a mango and has sometimes been associated with Hinduism. 
In Persian the design is known as boteh jegheh and it has long been used in Iran since the Sassanid Dynasty.
Some design scholars call the distinctive shape boteh and believe it is the convergence of a stylized floral spray and a cypress tree: a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity. A floral motif called buteh, which originated in the Sassanid Dynasty (200–650 AD) and later in the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (from 1501 to 1736), was a major textile pattern in Iran during the Qajar Dynasty and Pahlavi Dynasty. In these periods, the pattern was used to decorate royal regalia, crowns, and court garments, as well as textiles used by the general population. 
The pattern is still popular in Iran and South and Central Asian countries. It is woven using gold or silver threads on silk or other high quality textiles for gifts, for weddings and special occasions.
-Wikipedia

In Hinduism the design is symbolic of the goddess, or so I've been told. I seem to remember hearing on a TV documentary that the image of a cypress tree bowing in the wind was taken up by Islamic artisans as a symbolic motif representing submission to the will of Allah. My wife, who is from a Hindu background, calls the boteh a "mango design". 
-Jeronimus