Thanks to our teachers

Waiting for moonlight, Ashland, Oregon

Waiting for moonlight, Ashland, Oregon

Happy Guru Purnima!

It is the peak of the lunar cycle in the Hindu month of Ashada (June-July). It is Guru Purnima, a day set aside to give thanks to our teachers. Today we drink strong chai, eat sweets, and walk in the full moonlight, all the while thinking of those who have inspired us along our spiritual journey.

In the worldview of the Veda, we realize that our teachers are all revered spiritual leaders as well as those circumstances, both good and seemingly bad, that lead us down the path to enlightenment. A teacher can also be a fellow traveller on life's highway, one from whom we learn a useful lesson.

Meditation, practiced daily and diligently, leads us to an awareness that our entire existence in these bodies on this planet is for learning and evolving. Therefore, our celebration of Guru Purnima becomes an acknowledgement of ourselves as eternal students, and hopefully brings a sense of gratitude for this awareness.

Have a walk in the full moon this evening and enjoy the beauty and bounty of consciousness!

Veda Vyāsa, divider of the Vedas, was believed to be an embodiment of Vishnu. He wrote the Indian classic Mahābhārata, which contains The Bhagavad Gita. This day is said to commemorate his birthday, sometime close to 5000 years ago.

Ved Vyasa

Ved Vyasa

Day of gratitude

East view, Fryman Canyon, Los Angeles California

East view, Fryman Canyon, Los Angeles California

Unlocking eternal happiness

In the western world, we have a tendency to turn our holidays into occasions of stress, expectation, and worry. Each person seems compelled to magically convert what could be a personal sacrament into a measuring contest. How much do you have? Do you have a perfect loving family? Do you have as nice a home as Uncle Fred? Did you drive up in as nice a car as Mrs. Anderson? What does that say about you?

We could use this event to ask other questions. Have we been given these miraculous bodies that serve us faithfully and heal themselves if we listen to them? Have we been given another sunrise, another day on this amazing planet that will also heal itself if we don't block out its voice with our own selfish concerns? Have we been given the quiet, subtle voice of God to listen to if we can only become quiet enough?

The answers are always yes. The day is always this day. Throw away the measuring stick and serve someone. Happiness does not need to be sought, only uncovered.

"One should know as to how to live in the world and he will be happy. Your body and wealth is useful in the world and your mind is useful on the path to God. Do not apply too much mind in the world than necessary otherwise it would be a waste and a loss to both material and spiritual aspects of life. Just like putting more than necessary gum to paste the envelope. The gum will be wasted and the envelope will be spoiled."

Guru Dev
Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati

The (seemingly) Mundane

Morning light, living room.

Morning light, living room.

What lens are you looking through?

Imagine yourself walking a city street. You have a simple errand to perform. Go here, get this thing, and return. Depending on your world view, it can be an enjoyable and adventurous task or a nightmare.

In scenario one, the adventurous task, you start off with simple gratitude that you can walk. You may even encounter a fellow human that is elderly, stooped over, barely crossing the light in time, having a relatively rough go of it. Or you may notice someone who has given up on the idea of walking, circling for an empty parking space in their car, frustrated and agitated.

You, on the other hand, have the energy and strength of limb to point yourself in a direction and get there. You may not always be so abled. Old age, disease, injury or other circumstances could to hamper your ability to be a city pedestrian. Do you feel smug in your blessings and move on? No, you start to notice that the old woman walking in the crosswalk is doing so in good humor, trying her best. You smile at her and assist her up on that difficult last curb step. She thanks you, and you have a short, pleasant exchange.

Both you and she have an excellent shot at having a good day because of the lens you have chosen to view the world through.

In scenario two, the nightmare, you are resentful, distracted, worrying about some aspect of your existence you find vexing. You expect others you encounter to understand your impatience, you sigh with resignation, grit your teeth and persevere. This light takes forever! You find yourself punching the walk button with more force than necessary. That woman turning out of the driveway doesn't see you, she almost runs you over. You notice with a certain perverse satisfaction that she is illegally talking on her cell phone. See? The world is going to hell in a hand basket. This city is annoying, and it is only going to get worse. When you are expected to wait your turn in a line, you roll your eyes and tap your foot. Don't they know you have better things to do than this?

You return exhausted, depleted. Your mission to wrest personal satisfaction from this world is a disaster. Perhaps you'll have better luck tomorrow.

Scenario one highlights a sense of oneness with humanity, with the flow of nature. Scenario two focuses on separation, on lack, on competition.

The choice of which lens to use is always yours to make.

I am a light junkie. I am always cognizant of the quality of light nature provides and the wonderful way it plays with my mood. For all of its apparent faults, the city displays never ending subtly shifting light. When I notice this and honor this, even the most snarled up traffic situation or blighted urban surroundings have qualities that I can appreciate.

Boat on the Ganges, Vrindavan, India.

Boat on the Ganges, Vrindavan, India.