DAWN OF THE NEW YEAR

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Evolution isn’t just possible, it’s mandatory

When we make a New Year’s resolution, we are asking ourselves to evolve. Sometimes the agents driving this desire for change are shame, guilt, and remorse. Although understandable, these change drivers are seldom effective, and are usually counter-productive.

Sometimes we wish to be more desirable as a sexual partner, so we seek to improve ourselves physically. Sometimes we wish to shed “bad” habits, to lessen self-suffering, to become better people. These wishes are not in and of themselves wrong, they are usually motivated by the ego, childishly wishing for some instant change of identity, often emulating a media figure with a manufactured image. When we inevitably fall short, we feel worse, and believe ourselves (erroneously) incapable of evolution. We give up.

Suppose our goal is to have a meditation practice. We have heard others praise the virtues of consistent meditation. We may get the idea in our heads that we already know how meditation is done, so we sit down on a hard mat, or on the floor itself, back unsupported, and try to imitate a lotus posture. We close our eyes and try to think deep “spiritual” thoughts. We can’t keep it up long, before irreverent and worldly concerns interrupt our reverie with loud and relentless chatter. We have failed. We have once again proven ourselves beyond redemption. This meditation idea is definitely not for us. Shame, guilt, and remorse have won again.

If we keep seeking, we may eventually be fortunate enough to discover that meditation techniques are not magic, they are natural and easy, when entered into with a sincere and humble spirit. All we need to admit is that we don’t know. We become teachable. Then a sufficient teacher will appear.

Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe.

Deepak Chopra

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The Force

The Vedic Worldview in Popular Culture - Part 1

There is only one thing. This statement can be used to encapsulate the foundation of Vedic philosophy. The one thing is also called Brahman. In Star Wars it is called the Force.

The Veda is the basis of the oldest system of science and civilization known to man. It is also the basis for the popular film series Star Wars. While a student at UCLA in the early 1970's, Star Wars creator George Lucas learned Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation technique. Reportedly, he still meditates daily.

Disclaimer: I am not a fan boy. I have only seen the first two of the many films in the series, but the impact on western culture is pervasive and undeniable. 

Here are some lines from the films that define and describe aspects of the Veda:

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
Yoda - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
Obi Wan Kenobi - Star Wars (1977)

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Yoda - Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

This invented fictional universe, this backdrop for a space soap opera, turns out to be a more profound creation than we could have perceived at first viewing. Lucas' desire to convey the deeper truths of our lives in an easily digested fashion has been wildly successful. Kids may not know who Joseph Campbell was, but they certainly know Yoda.

Next week: The Vedic Worldview in Popular Culture - Part 2 - The Beatles

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.
-Joseph Campbell