Category Archives: Spiritual Musings and Conundrums

Amma is a Non-Denominational Spiritual Leader

Amma has Hugged Millions Worldwide

Amma is for Everyone – Her only Religion is Love

“Lending a helping hand to a neglected soul, feeding the hungry, a compassionate smile towards the sad and dejected—this is the real language of religion. We should invoke God’s compassion in our own hearts and hands. Living only for oneself is not life, but death.” – Amma

Amma is a non-denominational spiritual leader. Buddhist monks, Catholic priests and nuns, Muslims, Jews and people from numerous religious traditions go to receive Amma’s blessings of unconditional love. Amma has frequently said that her only religion is love. While Amma, well respected in religious circles, was named one of three presidents of Hinduism by the 1993 Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago, Illinois, she still acknowledges,

“The basic, underlying principle of all religions is one and the same Truth. Different religions are suited to different people for their spiritual development, and therefore no one religion is superior to any other.” She has also emphasized, “We are all God’s children.”

In 2002, Dr. Jane Goodall presented Amma with the Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence, given in recognition of her lifelong work in furthering the principles of non-violence. During the same event, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, She gave the keynote address at the Global Peace Initiative of Women and Religious Leaders.

I’ve been attending Amma’s public programs in the United States every year since 1990.

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Spirited Spiritual Pissing Contests

Spirited Spiritual Pissing Contests.

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Spirited Spiritual Pissing Contests

My Guru Is Better than Your Guru

Your guru sucks, I say – not exactly in those words, but you know what I mean. My face is all intense as I tell you what I think of your guru’s opinion on architecture. Of course, your guru happens to be my ex-guru and this somehow gives me permission to voice my opposition to your point of view without crossing over the line. “My guru has more important things to do than consider the pros and cons of whether my house, or any one’s house, faces east, west, north or south!”

And I start a mini-rant after you have joined us at our table in the coffee house where I sit with my friend blogging and processing the events of the past week. I wasn’t looking for a fight, but you started it and I intend to finish it (I had just finished a number of repetitions of my mantra that evidently had not taken effect).

I ‘m only going after you because you started it. You said my house would bring me poverty and lack of creativity because it is not proper vastu (according to your guru’s system called, Maharishi Sthapatya Veda (MSV). MSV is a set of architectural and planning principles  based on “ancient Sanskrit texts – kind of like Feng Shui, but Indian. Whatever…

Here’s the deal, Dude, when you take on my house, you take on ME, because I AM my house. No matter how long or how many years I’ve meditated, I’m ATTACHED to MY house and no one gets to disrespect it. I defend it and I really don’t care who your guru is, I believe my house faces the perfect direction.

So here we behaving like a couple of 16-year old boys flexing our muscles and insisting, “My dad can kick your dad’s ass….”

We have both meditated for about 80 years, collectively, and our ego’s are still on high alert ready to defend themselves and our turf with “fighting words.” In fact, all the meditation seems to have enhanced our reflexes.

Yet, I remember a previous generation of adults who had the good sense to never discuss spiritual matters or religion at the table which is what new-agers always do. We sit in cafes and talk about our latest visit to ashrams, or the latest strategy to  attain nirvana. I don’t remember our parent’s generation sitting at the dinner table with friends saying, “So, Marge, you’re Catholic, and I just want to ask you one question, how can Catholics believe all that crap about eating the flesh and blood of Jesus?”

They simply left those matters alone, wisely understanding, such questions are a recipe for unpleasant disagreement, and that matters of spiritual belief are personal. The word discretion is, for our generation, sometimes equated with repression, denial, or an unhealthily rejection of transparency. Thus, our tendency to over-communicate sometimes leads to guru bashing. Guru bashing leads to pissing people off unnecessarily.

Perhaps, the coffee house is not the place for spirited spiritual pissing contests.

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October 22, 2012 · 2:59 am

Oprah Winfrey Visits Fairfield Iowa

Oprah meditated with the group of TM sidhas at the Golden Dome for women.

Oprah and Other Celebs Endorse TM

Oprah, who has long been closely associated with a number of famous TM’ers, such as Deepak Chopra, has finally joined the ranks and become an official TM initiate and advocate. She is now connected to this controversial movement and given its meditation the Oprah stamp of approval. Maharishi captured the hearts and minds of a generation of youthful seekers, including celebs such as, The Beatles, Donavon, and Mia Farrow. And his teaching continues to resonate with many rich and famous followers—Clint Eastwood, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Oz—to name a few. David Lynch, who is a staunch supporter and practitioner of Transcendental Mediation (TM), continues to provide funding for the Maharishi Schools and a variety of programs that promote the teaching of TM worldwide. He continues to fund a program that makes TM available for soldiers recovering from PTSD; he has already committed to helping 10,000 Vets across the country.

I Learned TM in the 70’s

In the 70’s, I became one of Maharishi’s followers, and took to my mantra like a duck to water, became immersed in long meditations accompanied by yoga, and eventually became a TM Teacher. I remember the hours I spent listening to the guru’s lilting voice and giggles along with his promise that his meditation technique could enlighten the masses and create heaven on earth. He energized a generation that was disillusioned with organized religion, a world of war, and racial strife, and the paradigm of gross materialism.

So, where do I stand? Well, like many who have been avid followers and strayed from the straight and narrow teachings of any path, I feel I’ve saved the baby and thrown out the bathwater. I love doing a mantra meditation (not necessarily TM) and I still read all kinds of Eastern scriptures and teachings—not necessarily Maharishi’s—that’s how I’m wired. I guess I consider myself a reincarnated Indian. I’m grateful for the gifts and for the practice that helped me give up a wicked cigarette addiction, binge drinking, and drug usage. Maharishi opened me to a universe of concepts that have influenced me and enriched my life. The late 60’s and early 70’s were both exhilarating and dangerous times, and I emerged miraculously unscathed, in large part, due Maharishi’s influence.

But, I have long since dropped away from the TM movement or organization, preferring a more eclectic view of spirituality and preferring to think for myself (another blog altogether) than to follow the seemingly endless do’s and don’ts and should’s and shouldn’t(s) generously and frequently offered by the organization and its late founder. The TM movement has always claimed it is not a religion, but offers a simple meditation technique that can become a part of anyone’s daily practice. Yet I found that once you join the organization’s fold, the rules and regulations abound.

And, I predict that Oprah, who I respect very much, and who by nature seems to be an open-hearted and genuine seeker, will continue to embrace all the branches of that illusory Tree of Knowledge. Oprah has shown she likes variety—in shoes, in reading material, and in teachers. I think she will continue exploring and synthesizing the wisdom of the great teachers and teachings all over the world.

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October 21, 2012 · 12:49 am

Life After Death?

What do you think?

Heaven is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife

My Thoughts:

It seems that science has melded with meta-physicians and is blowing apart the false belief systems created  by the limited minds of human beings. Quantum Physics has opened the doors to multi-universes that are ever-expanding. The world of “Fringe” seems plausible. The esoteric teachings of all traditions have long understood that human beings are energy systems with the potential to experience alternative realities and  spiritual enlightenment. And most of us on the planet believe in reincarnation – we understand our bodies are temporary vehicles designed for our journey in this material world – that what we see is not all there is. In fact, what we see is an illusion. And, aren’t we in many ways, grateful for this knowledge. We want to believe there there is more to the great mystery of our human experience than we ever could have imagined.

I like to think, when it is time for me to leave this earth, my work is finished and my contract is complete, and I will  move on to other dimensions where I can continue to evolve and experience more. I want to think when I’m ready to pick up where I left off, I’ll get another chance to return to another body to continue “the hero’s journey.” Then, there may come a time  when I’ll be ready to get off this earthly wheel of karma,”  and I’ll be ready for other adventures that are inconceivable to me in my present state of consciousness. I know I don’t know what I don’t know.
It’s nice that every so often, one of us returns from a near death experience to give us the heads up – it’s not over when our brain is dead!

That’s how I see it today. What do you think?

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Darshan: Hugs from the Divine Mother

During these 10 seconds of eternity, you forget what planet you are on. In her embrace, there is no genocide, only tenderness. There is no global warming, only compassion. So, for 30 seconds a year, you are off the hook, lifted to some other plane beyond politics and the wars with what is—-free at last. You forget the arthritis in your lower back and the pain that spreads down your upper legs. You do not blame yourself for not being on a rigorous regime of exercise. You forget that you still owe some taxes that you put of paying, but the bill from the IRS is there waiting when you arrive home. You are wise enough to know your bills have not disappeared, so you put off opening the mail as long as you can. Your suitcase sits on the bed in your guest room, and you prolong unpacking and doing the dirty laundry. Your guru did not magically remove the stains on your white t-shirts or wash your underwear while you slept.
Of course for those 30 seconds you stopped asking questions and were free at last, someone who was sitting twelve feet away was pissed because the guy who had been sitting close to the guru’s feet for that past two hours was obstructing his view. While your mind stopped screaming and you were not asking why war—why sickness, why suffering, why sunlight, why sky, why ocean, why us—someone else was furious with the woman who was rude at the bookstore.
Someone once told me, “Why is not a spiritual question,” and I was tempted to ask, “Why?” But when I contemplated this koan, I saw the wisdom in not asking a question that simply leads to another, and another, until we land full circle back at the beginning, and none the wiser. For those few seconds, nothing mattered but her smell of roses. You wanted only to breathe deeply from her warm body, as if she were your breath and blood.
When you return home, of course some local ashramites will immediately become engaged in some painful drama, as one woman feels she worked too hard without enough support from others, and her feelings were hurt by something someone said, and she doesn’t think the guru had paid her enough attention. I realize we humans simply cannot stop ourselves. Who would we be without the power struggling bitching and moaning? It’s terrifying to consider. Would we be living like walking flat-liners through this world of opposites, as if everything is actually okay when we all know it sucks and is actually not okay because we are not okay and anything that we touch cannot be okay? Or would we actually be able to have peace on earth and all get along? Will we have to resign ourselves to our 30 seconds of peace a year in the arms of our guru as the only way to be free from the illusion that nothing is okay and never will be?

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Ashram Politics…

Returning from the Ashram

It has been my experience it is possible to be in Nirvana one moment, and in the very the next moment, descend into the depths of that all too familiar, confining, egoistic hell. Just because you have spent hours sitting at the feet of some enlightened being, who may even be recognized throughout the world as at least on par with Mother Teresa, when you return home from a two-day retreat with your guru, you will probably find you are still living there. You will probably still turn on the television to watch Court TV if that is your habit. You will still desire the coffee that comes from the cappuccino machine at the BP gas station, where you will continue to stop each morning before work, and, putting your $1.25 on the counter, walk out with that sugary concoction of the total bastardization of coffee, and guilt-trip yourself on your way to work. Had you chosen the freshly-brewed, organic blend from the container on the counter, you would be sipping it throughout the hour, it would have been the conscious choice – it is of course, a Fairly Traded brand. However, the first thing you do when you return to town after having spent two days with your guru, is stop at the BP and fill up your cup with that sweet, foamy, liquid blend of chemicals, sugar, and artificial flavoring. At least, you rationalize, you did not pick up the glazed doughnut.
Your beloved guru may kiss you and take you in her arms, whispering sweet nothings in your ear, the promises of bliss, and for a moment you are able to simply be. You are able to taste a moment’s freedom from the world you have been battling with every day of your life. You are, after all, at war. You are in constant battle with what is. It starts when you open your eyes in the morning and wish you could close them and go back into the void, a tendency you have fought against since childhood. It continues as you wish you did not have to go to work, but would rather read your novel. You resent having to face, once again, the call of duty—the bills to pay, the dishes to wash, the demands of your job. If only you could see the face of your guru in the dishwater, see the face of God in the garbage. But, for about 10 seconds, while you rest in your guru’s arms, you are simply loved. So, for 30 seconds a year (the equivalent of three hugs), you have this blessing, this gift—she enfolds you in her embrace and presses you to her; you feel like Neo being unplugged from the matrix, as she releases you from mortality.

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June 8, 2012 · 9:39 pm