Thursday, 27 February 2014

Maha Shiva Ratri: Celebrating Shiva’s Holy Night : Devdutt Pattanaik

Why is Shiva-ratri one of the few Hindu festivals to be celebrated in the not-so-auspicious dark half of the lunar cycle? Why is it celebrated just as winter draws to a close? These are questions to which "real" answers may never be known. However, one can always speculate. Speculation helps one explore sacred mysteries and thus gain insight into the divine.

The traditional story is that on this night a thief climbed a Bilva tree, which is sacred to Shiva, to give his pursuers the slip. He spent the whole night on the tree, plucking leaves that – unknown to him – fell on a Shiva-linga. This act of unintended piety earned the thief an eternal place in the lord's heart. Stories running along these lines are narrated on Shiva-ratri as devotees hold an all-night-vigil in Shiva-temples. But these narratives tell us why Shiva should be worshipped during Shiva-ratri. They do not tell us what makes Shiva-ratri sacred.

One story, popular in some parts of South India, says that it was on this night that Shiva drank Halahala (Vish), the cosmic poison churned by the gods and demons from the ocean of milk. The goddess Parvati did not want the poison to enter her husband's body, so she caught hold of Shiva's neck. The gods did not want Shiva to spit the poison out. So they began singing songs in praise of Shiva. With bated breath, the gods stayed awake wondering how Shiva could save the world without annoying his wife. Finally, at dawn, Shiva locked the poison in his throat for eternity until it turned his neck blue.

The all-night-vigil on Shiva-ratri commemorates Shiva's benevolence.
The unconventional tradition of worshipping Shiva in the dark half of the lunar cycle is not surprising considering there is nothing conventional about Shiva. He is the only god who does not adorn himself with flowers or jewels. He smears his body with ash, wraps himself with elephant hide and tiger skin and bedecks himself with serpents, wild Dhatura flowers and Rudraksha beads. He intoxicates himself with hemp (cannabis), is surrounded by wild and fearsome Ganas and lives on icy barren mountains. The crescent moon on his head – the same moon that can be seen in the skies on Shiva-ratri – offers another possible reason why the 13th night of the waning moon is sacred to Shiva.

The moon-god Chandra was married to the 27 Nakshatras, lunar asterisms, but he preferred only the company of Rohini. The neglected wives complained to their father, Prajapati Daksha, who ordered Chandra to change his ways. When the moon-god did not, he was struck with the dreaded wasting-disease. As the days passed, Chandra's luster waned. No one came to his rescue for fear of incurring Daksha's wrath. In despair, Chandra turned to Shiva who placed the moon-god on his forehead where Daksha's curse had no effect. The crescent-moon on Shiva's head is a reminder of how Shiva's grace saved the moon-god from oblivion. Those who fear death, those who cannot come to terms with the fleeting nature of existence therefore take refuge in the cosmic ascetic who has transcended the eternal cycle of birth and death.

In Tantra, the moon represents the cooler, submissive and fleeting aspect of Nature. The sun represents the warmer, dominating and eternal aspect of Nature. Together they represent the totality of life, the union of opposites. While Shiva represents lunar energy, Vishnu represents the solar. Shiva transcends worldly life, Vishnu actively participates in it. Shiva did not want to marry but Vishnu coaxed him into the cycle of existence. In Shiva's willingness to be Devi's groom one finds the reason why Maha-Shiva-ratri is celebrated just before the arrival of spring. It must be remembered that in the Hindu calendar, the festival to follow Shiva's holy night is Holi, the festival of fertility, love and joy.

Shiva's marriage to Parvati is a major theme of Shaiva lore and is often narrated during Shiva-ratri. The union transforms the hermit into the householder and couples world-rejection with world-affirmation. With the Devi by his side, the yogi becomes a bhogi. A balance is achieved between the spirit and the flesh, the ego and the infinite. Maybe that is what Shiva-ratri is all about. A time to stay awake through the night contemplating on the dualities of life – of mortal desires and immortal bliss, earthly obligations and heavenly aspirations, material needs and spiritual demands. When the balance is met, when Shiva is in the arms of Shakti, when the dance is in perfect harmony, there is truth, awareness and bliss – sad, chit, anand.

Tonight is Mahashivratri - Om Namah Shivaya!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Some Wisdom ... some common sense

1. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs is not one of them.
2. Never cancel dinner plans by text message.
3. Don't knock it 'til you try it.
4. If a street performer makes you stop walking, you owe him a buck.
5. Always use 'we' when referring to your home team or your government.
6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
7. Don't underestimate free throws in a game of 'horse'.
8. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
9. Don't dumb it down.
10. You only get one chance to notice a new haircut.
11. If you're staying more than one night, unpack.
12. Never park in front of a bar.
13. Expect the seat in front of you to recline. Prepare accordingly.
14. Keep a picture of your first fish, first car, and first boy/girlfriend.
15. Hold your heroes to a high standard.
16. A suntan is earned, not bought.
17. Never lie to your doctor.
18. All guns are loaded.
19. Don't mention sunburns. Believe me, they know.
20. The best way to show thanks is to wear it. Even if it's only once.
21. Take a vacation of your cell phone, internet, and TV once a year.
22. Don't fill up on bread, no matter how good.
23. A handshake beats an autograph.
24. Don't linger in the doorway. In or out.
25. If you choose to go in drag, don't sell yourself short.
26. If you want to know what makes you unique, sit for a caricature.
27. Never get your hair cut the day of a special event.
28. Be mindful of what comes between you and the Earth. Always buy good shoes, tires, and sheets.
29. Never eat lunch at your desk if you can avoid it.
30. When you're with new friends, don't just talk about old friends.
31. Eat lunch with the new kids.
32. When traveling, keep your wits about you.
33. It's never too late for an apology.
34. Don't pose with booze.
35. If you have the right of way, take it.
36. You don't get to choose your own nickname.
37. When you marry someone, remember you marry their entire family.
38. Never push someone off a dock.
39. Under no circumstances should you ask a woman if she's pregnant.
40. It's not enough to be proud of your ancestry; live up to it.
41. Don't make a scene.
42. When giving a thank you speech, short and sweet is best.
43. Know when to ignore the camera.
44. Never gloat.
45. Invest in good luggage.
46. Make time for your mom on your birthday. It's her special day, too.
47. When opening presents, no one likes a good guesser.
48. Sympathy is a crutch, never fake a limp.
49. Give credit. Take blame.
50. Suck it up every now and again.
51. Never be the last one in the pool.
52. Don't stare.
53. Address everyone that carries a firearm professionally.
54. Stand up to bullies. You'll only have to do it once.
55. If you've made your point, stop talking.
56. Admit it when you're wrong.
57. If you offer to help don't quit until the job is done.
58. Look people in the eye when you thank them.
59. Thank the bus driver.
60. Never answer the phone at the dinner table.
61. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
62. Know at least one good joke.
63. Don't boo. Even the ref is somebody's son.
64. Know how to cook one good meal.
65. Learn to drive a stick shift.
66. Be cool to younger kids. Reputations are built over a lifetime.
67. It's okay to go to the movies by yourself.
68. Dance with your mother/father.
69. Don't lose your cool. Especially at work.
70. Always thank the host.
71. If you don't understand, ask before it's too late.
72. Know the size of your boy/girlfriend's clothes.
73. There is nothing wrong with a plain t-shirt.
74. Be a good listener. Don't just wait for your turn to talk.
75. Keep your word.
76. In college, always sit in the front. You'll stand out immediately.
77. Carry your mother's bags. She carried you for nine months.
78. Be patient with airport security. They're just doing their jobs.
79. Don't be the talker in a movie.
80. The opposite sex likes people who shower.
81. You are what you do, not what you say.
82. Learn to change a tire.
83. Be kind. Everyone has a hard fight ahead of them.
84. An hour with grandparents is time well spent. Ask for advice when you need it.
85. Don't litter.
86. If you have a sister, get to know her boyfriend. Your opinion is important.
87. You won't always be the strongest or the fastest. But you can be the toughest.
88. Never call someone before 9am or after 9pm.
89. Buy the orange properties in Monopoly.
90. Make the little things count.
91. Always wear a bra at work.
92. There is a fine line between looking sultry and slutty. Find it.
93. You're never too old to need your mom.
94. Ladies, if you make the decision to wear heels on the first date, commit to keeping them on and keeping your trap shut about how much your feet kill.
95. Know the words to your national anthem.
96. Your dance moves might not be the best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun then sitting on the bench alone.
97. Smile at strangers.
98. Make goals.
99. Being old is not dictated by your bedtime.
100. If you have to fight, punch first and punch hard.

Which one is your favourite? Why? Leave a comment :)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Christina Makisi - i miss you

This is a conversation between me and an enlightened spirit who made a brief but bright appearance in my life.... I wish Her well .... With my gratitude and efforts ...

Christina Makisi Speaks ...

if Shiva did not play, there would be no universe. I love that.

yes, no importance of winning or losing, it is the art of playing. now, as life plays its game, can you observe it without the slightest hint of taking your attention from it? not even a moment. I am showing you my inner being. from morning until i go to bed, there is this fullness of awareness in watching/listening to the mind/body all day and all night. please this is vital. not meditation, for that man has mad a mess of. this is simple watchfulness which comes as you are learning and understanding yourself; your thoughts and emotions and attitude. simply let the inner watchfulness take place.

as you go into oneself, you discover, you are the mind that is watching. then, through insight, there is the realization that beyond the mind, there may be something there that is not a part of the mind. the thinker realizes that it is nothing but thought. without thought there is no identity called Aseem. when the mind realizes that it is a false thing of time-space and causation, it questions this fact deeper and deeper. and, when you least expect it, the mind and all one took as real vanishes. this Divine silence comes into your being in which words cannot describe or capture. this comes uninvited as you cannot be conscious of it. it is the total ending of 'you.' that is why these words may seem abstract and vague when in fact your conscious mind cannot fathom what is beyond the mind. so, it is like I am speaking to that eternal essence that transcends conscious and unconscious to come into being as spirit can speak to spirit. blessed be.

the knower is a product of the known as the thinker is a part of thought. the thinker comes into being due to labeling, identifying and a lack of attention. so, through attention, which is not a thing of the mind enters your being, the false comes to an end. the false depends on inattentiveness. as long as you are inattentive, you are feeding the false, the illusive and the unreal. the Real comes when you see that the false is false and drop it altogether. The Real has no relationship to the false. as long as one is living and being in the false, truth cannot come to you. that is why the whole idea of finding God/Truth has no meaning as long as one is still living and clinging to the false. see the false, watch it, deeply. watch every thought, emotion and so on with rapt attentiveness. the lack of attention that brought the false into being comes to an end as attention enters to bring complete change.

the moth drawn to the flame is to be completely burnt within until there is nothing left. nothing at all. even the slightest ash of 'you' spoils the temple of your being. to be completely empty is to be the temple in which the Divine may enter.

go into what is fear. fear is thought/thinking. do you see this? watch it within yourself so that it is your own understanding. like being afraid of death. why? because the mind is there 'thinking' about it consciously or unconsciously. thought is the enemy. thinking is the culprit that feeds fear; which is the fear. seeing this within yourself gives tremendous energy. it releases you from a great burden.

you have become so attached and hidden behind so many images and illusions. drop all of them. that which gives you comfort also gives you decay and decadence. to cling to anything has no meaning. it all weighs you down. can you cling to Truth? can one be attached to Truth? no. so, whatever you are clinging to, be it a deity, an idea or a belief, obviously it is not the Truth. Truth has neither form or name. whatever can be held, touched and worshiped by the mind is not Truth.

Go beyond all such things when you let go of everything.

the thing is, knowledge cannot free you as knowledge itself is a slave. one may know a thousand texts and a thousand guru's but it will now awaken you. it is up to you to actually go into yourself. that is the book to be read; your own mind/thoughts/feelings. read that book from moment to moment and the end of it is not to another chapter but the total ending of everything you think you are. in the end, you discover that which cannot be written. blessed is he who goes beyond all books, knowledge and guru's.

Aseem Seth
There are so many things to distract the mind. Video games, YouTube, fantasies ... How to overcome these addictions?

Christina Makisi
simply observe them without the slightest interest in avoiding them. do not push anything away as a distraction or addiction. have fullness of attention when you are doing anything. the living flame of attention burns away the divisiveness of all activities. attention. not 'you'. understand?

If you do not do this one thing first and foremost, the knowing of 10,000 wise Sayings will profit little to nothing. without first entering the door of death, you will remain blind. Come face-to-face with inward death and see it for what it is. no one can tell you, you must do it within yourself.

Enter the doorway and see for yourself if there is that Reality which is not of this world of knowledge. Then, through self-knowing, you will truly understand what is spiritual freedom.

"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." ~ John 13:17

Aseem Seth
Amen Devi Amen

Please explain your last line in your previous message ..." Attention. Not 'you'. Understand?"
What is the living flame of attention? How do I identify it? How do I grasp it?
What is attention? How is it different from concentration?

Christina Makisi

again, you are trying to get 'knowledge.' attention is not knowledge. its not a thing of the mind. it is beyond the mind. seeing yourself, your thoughts/feelings from moment to moment points the way into nothingness.

attention is all-inclusive 'seeing'. concentration is the narrowing down of something by pushing and resisting other things to focus on a particular thing. so, drop the idea of concentration.

stop trying. there is no effort in this. trying implies a practice, a resistance. stop trying to resist. it is the art of being without trying to anything other than whatever you are.

knowing oneself is paying attention to oneself. that is all. don't think so hard about it. from the moment you get up in the morning letting that watchfulness take place in the totality of attention throughout the whole day and night. doing it is the learning. do not try to learn something to practice.

it is the artless art. no one can do it for you. simply listen to your own being and that points the way.

cease trying to become something other than what you are.

if you negate the 'I', perhaps love will awaken in you.

love is not an emotion. its not sentimental. its not feelings but the art of going beyond all worldly sensitivities.

If there is fear within you, then, there can be no love.

the 'I' is the unhappiness. they are one and the same thing.

because of division and duality, the 'I' thinks happiness is something that is separately attacking it. in actuality, the 'I' is unhappiness.

the 'I' is the conscious mind that is filled with resistance of the present moment. this 'I' is actually a dead thing perpetrating itself as being alive. but, how can it be alive when its a product of the past? it is trapped in the past of time but has the power to project the illusion that it can enter the present moment. but, this illusion has to be seen for what it is in order to be spiritually free.

there is no happiness if the 'I' is there. happiness comes when the 'I' is not.

I was never born.

yes, but, it doesn't 'see' this fact. by seeing this fact, you are then free of it. the freedom that comes from the negation of the 'I' transcends ones idea of happiness. true happiness is devoid of a cause. it is not a thing of the mind which is time. this happiness is timeless, causeless and beyond the 'I' consciousness. the ending of you is the awakening of this happiness.

forget the definition, taste the fact. the doing/living it is all that is important.

not HOW. when you say, how, then you are again back in the realm of using time instead of attention.

HOW... how means you are asking for a thing, a practice, a particular pattern to get from one point to another. this is not like that. spirituality is not time bound. you do not go from unhappiness to happiness. you end unhappiness and discover happiness JUST IS.

what is confusion? confusion means one does not see, yes? so, see that you are confused without trying to escape the confusion. then you are moving effortlessly. not from one state to another.
whatever state you are in is perfectly alright. simply observe the fact of it. do not try to jump into something other than.

you are. its just you want to remain conscious of it. flow with your life without the slightest resistance.

good. if you are frustrated, simply observe that fact. the fact is the key. use facts! not trying to reach non-facts. being frustrated is not a problem! trying to NOT be frustrated is!
do you understand what i mean by non-fact? if you are frustrated and confused, that is a fact. do not try to become clarity because that would be a non-fact. stay with the fact and observe it. the seeing of the fact in attentiveness burns it away. this is very simple but you are thinking so hard.
let's look at it from another point.

what if i told you that Christina does not think? her mind is still, quiet. it doesn't move at all in this stillness.

now, ask yourself, why does Aseem, who is also human like Christina, why does his mind move with thoughts/feelings/emotions?

question that and see into it. do not just brush over it. look into it.

Aseem Seth
Because it is scared. It defines its being by movement. If it stops moving it will die. Like planets move around the sun, electrons around the atom, the universe expands at the speed of light. It is all movement. There is no stillness

Christina Makisi
yes, that is it, there is the fear of coming to an end if there is not movement! that is it! lets go into this.
so, we see together, clearly that there is the fear of the 'I' consciousness that if there is stillness/quietude/silence there is annihilation? the mind being 'noise' has this intense fear that as long as it keeps making noise it exists and if it doesn't it is over, it is dead, right.
now, christina, who is also human says, see, i am here with you and my head makes no noise and yet I am alive.

yes, we will continue later. take care. and please go into this. Namaste

N.B. - These conversations took place on facebook between Christina Makisi and me on 10/11/12 & 11/11/12 - she was in her early 20s when she spoke to me.

  • I miss you
  • 16 November 2012
  • Christina Makisi
    Christina Makisi

    No need to miss me. I am always within you. I am love, which is whole, how can you ever be separate from me? please, continue to work on understanding oneself. we will speak when I return from my trip.
  • 16 November 2012
  • Aseem Seth
    Aseem Seth

    Bon Voyage Mother Be careful ... You take my heart with you

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Circle of Samsara - the Significance of the Wheel in India

The Wheel is the Center of the Indian National Flag

In philosophy, the wheel represents time as well as space. Time is constantly moving like a wheel. Time, in the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain scheme of things, is cyclical. The world is, according to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythologies, shaped like a disc that rests on the back of a turtle and is surrounded by oceans of milk and treacle.

The wheel also indicates the radial nature of Indian thought. The same idea (hub) manifests in different forms (spokes). And the same form (hub) can be interpreted differently (spokes) by different people (located at the rim). The center represents stillness and the elemental bindu from which all things emerge: it is the seed. The rim then is the manifested form, the fruit of the seed.

If the centre is Brahma, the creator, then the rim is Brahmanda, Brahma’s creation. If the centre represents zero, shunya or nothingness, then the rim represents everything-ness or infinity. The wheel then indicates mandal, the space created by the rim of the sky and the earth. It marks the frontiers of infinity. We can see in these ideas how the number zero acquired its shape.

The wheel starts appearing in some of the earliest Indian coins indicating royal status. Gradually we see a man carrying it. This is the Vasudeva of Jain mythology. Gradually it becomes the chakra of Vishnu, the regal form of God in Hinduism. He is Chakra-pani, he who holds the disc. This wheel whirs around Vishnu’s index finger and serves as a weapon, striking the enemy when hurled and then returning back to Vishnu’s hand like a boomerang. Vishnu uses this wheel-shaped weapon to help the elephant-king Gajendra escape the vicious jaws of a crocodile, who represents material attachment. Thus the wheel offers liberation or moksha. Krishna uses the wheel to behead Shishupala, who insults him many times. He uses it to destroy the city of Kashi that rises up against him and to teach the sage Durvasa a lesson in humility. Shiva Purana states that the hermit-god Shiva gave the wheel-weapon to Vishnu. Vishnu named it Sudarshan, a thing of beauty, whose rotating saw like action removes negativity and brings in positivity.

In the Mahabharat, the wheel serves as a weapon during the war at Kurukshetra. Abhimanyu uses it to defend himself from attackers. Karna is killed as he tries to free the wheel of his chariot stuck to the ground. In Jain Agamas, a rotating wheel appears before the emperor of the world, Rishabha, and then moves on to his successor, Bharata.

Temples in India often have the wheel motif. This is seen most spectacularly in the sun-temple at Konark Orissa, where the temple is visualized as the great chariot of the gods. Wheels of the sacred chariot of Jagganath in Orissa are objects of worship, for it is wheels that take Ram out of Ayodhya and Krishna out of Vrindavan; devotees hope that the wheels will bring them back into the lives of the devotees.

The Wheel of Samsara

The Wheel of Vipassana

Source: 1st Published on 14th July, 2013, Mid-day as Wheeling through Space and Time by Devdutt Pattanaik