Saturday, May 26, 2012

In Praise of Lord Ganesha

I don't know how else to express this, but at this moment I am feeling divine love. It's a surge of pleasure emanating from my heart, filling me with happiness.

I could explain it yesterday... I recognized that my karma was turning around, and I had a feeling Lord Ganesha was responsible, and thinking that thought filled me with joy. Today, though, I made mistakes and blunders where it was harmful (though not by much) to others. I felt like a klutz.

And yet at the same time as yesterday, I am feeling the sensation of divine love from my chest. Pure joy radiating from my soul. Does Lord Ganesha love me? I'd like to think He does. I feel I have evidence now.

Well, Lord Ganesha, I don't know if you read this blog (what does God need with the Internet? LOL), but I want to say: thank you. Thank you with all of my being. I believe in you, and in return, it seems like you believe in me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

I'm not an Indian, so pardon my white-boy attempt at praise in Hindi (or whatever language this statement of praise is in): Jai Shri Ganesh!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Karma Breaker

It's been said by many advocates of meditation that it's a way to accelerate karma, burn negative karma, or even transcend karma altogether. After taking a meditation course in Ithaca, NY this weekend, I think I'm closer to understanding just what such statements mean. My understanding of karma is still limited, but the Hindu concept of karma is still the one that makes the most sense to me, and learning more about meditation helps me understand that better.

It's become clear to me that meditation and karma are somehow linked, although exactly how I've yet to discern. How does meditation, and the joy and inner peace it brings, advance one's goals of lasting happiness in this lifetime? That is, what is its true effect on our physical lives? Does it really make our material lives any easier to live by giving us what we want? From what I understand of karma, the concept of accelerating or "burning" one's negative karma would have a component or result in our physical lives, since what we have done in the past influences our future karma. How meditation reduces the influence of our negative karma is a bit of a stretch for me.

If you ask me, I think how meditation accelerates our karma and gives us happiness is not by changing the physical events that happen in our lives, but rather our attitudes toward them. After all, it has been said that happiness is not born out of our circumstances, but our attitude towards said circumstances. I personally think meditation doesn't necessarily alleviate our bad karma, but rather prepares us mentally for it so we do not suffer.

Or maybe karma is affected by meditation in a way I do not grasp yet, and that meditation has an effect on our physical fate. I do not know. All I know is that right now, my karma outlook is looking good. ;-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Bhagavad Gita on Dystopia

The topic of dystopia is increasingly being discussed these days, at least in the United States, because as scary as it seems, the thought of the United States becoming a dystopia is increasingly teetering towards becoming a reality. Now, I realize the USA isn't a dystopia yet, and I know it could get much worse. Still, the fact that dystopian laws are even being considered in this country makes this topic an important one to discuss - especially the question of how responsible the citizens of a dystopia are for the actions of its dystopian government.

It seems as if historically humanity has been of two minds about how responsible an individual citizen is for the actions of his/her government. On the one hand, the Nuremberg Trials say a citizen can be held responsible, considering how the Nazi officers who claimed the defense of "just following orders" were found guilty of war crimes regardless. On the other, the Geneva Conventions have made the practice of "collective punishment" - the practice of punishing all civilians in a particular area for the actions of just a few - a war crime. Whenever collective punishment is used in war - such as the more recent war in Iraq for example - most of the time there has been an outcry (though in some cases it gets the slip).

For those that personally know me, you'd know that one of my beefs with other people is when people blame and punish someone else for something they have no control over. That's why I get so upset when in the discussion of international issues someone blames Americans in general for causing a particular problem - while it may or may not be true, it's illogical, I think, to blame me personally for it since, being born here, I have no control over my citizenship. Nor do I have control over my fellow citizens and what they do. I know I can't be apathetic, but being responsible and being apathetic are two different things. Regardless of how responsible I am for any particular global issue, you can't accuse me of not caring - and it's the caring part that matters. Therefore I feel that in general, citizens can't be blamed for what their governments do, unless they either directly side with the government in question or are otherwise apathetic.

The Bhagavad Gita can back me up on this, I think. I realize that there are aspects of the Bhagavad Gita that would be implied to say otherwise - after all, Arjuna is going to war, and war, by its very nature, disregards who's truly responsible and who isn't. Once there is violence, the gloves are off, and as the old saying goes, it's not about who's right, but who's left. This is one reason why I am deeply opposed to war; while I don't consider myself a total pacifist, the fact that war doesn't make any distinction between innocent and guilty is why I'm opposed to war in general. However, it is my opinion that the Bhagavad Gita in general agrees with my stance on guilt, innocence, and just how much citizens are responsible for the actions of their government. After all, even though Arjuna is going to war, he's definitely not willing to do so and is torn up about it. The whole first chapter is dedicated to this internal conflict of his.

In the first four chapters, there are plenty of statements that say it's a person's level of compassion that counts, and the intent of action, and not necessarily the consequences. Consequences are important to consider, yes, but the consequences shouldn't cloud the perception of the person doing the action if that person genuinely has a good heart. To put it another way - one shouldn't be constantly afraid of consequences and thus be paralyzed with fear of doing any action whatsoever. I know as a white male American citizen there are several aspects of my daily life that cause harm to others in some way, from the products I buy to the taxes I pay. But I can't simply stop living my life. After all I have the right to live, as such is the concept of dharma - that everything has a role and a place in the universe. Otherwise, what is the point of reincarnation?

A couple of passages in particular strike me as being supportive of my statements. For instance, in chapter 2, Krishna says to Arjuna: "Arjuna, the prominent among men! The person whom these (sukha and duhkha) do not affect, who is the same in pleasure and pain, and who is discriminative, is indeed fit for gaining liberation." To me, that says those who don't resort to blanket judgments, those who regard everyone as an individual and not as part of a stereotype, are good people. I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly, as I have stated earlier. The other passage I will quote, from chapter 3, said by Krishna: "Even a wise person acts in keeping with his or her own nature. Because all beings follow their own nature, of what use is control?" To me this says that one should not be concerned with controlling the actions of others. One should just live one's life and not judge others.

It is my hope that I can do something one day to stop the United States from spiraling into dystopia. But until then, I intend to live my life the way I want to, for if I succumb to the judgment of others, I will fail my own dharma. And if there is one thing I don't think I should fail, it's at living.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Light Club's To-Blog List

This may seem like a spoiler sheet for what's to come, and I know I
shouldn't limit myself too much when it comes to blogging. But artists
work better with constraints (or at least I do). I figure if I make a
laundry list, so to speak, of stuff I should blog about AND make that
list public, then I believe I can better adhere to it because I trust
you readers would be disappointed if I didn't. ;)

So what can I blog about that would enhance the Light Club? Well...

I could discuss contemporary issues relating to yoga and Hinduism,
such as:

-The commercialization of yoga (some might say overcommercialization)
-Vegetarianism and its related topics
-National and world politics from a yoga perspective

I have books on Hinduism and yoga in my library I can review:

-"Yoga: Its Scientific Basis" by Kovoor T. Benahan
-"The Power of Now" by Eckhardt Tolle
-"The Science of Self-Realization" by His Divine Grace A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (whew!)

...and of course I can actually finish/discuss the Bhagavad Gita.

Hopefully this will be an accurate list of what is to come in my blog.
If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the Comments

Pardon My Dust

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (whoever you are - thank you :) ) might have noticed some posts going missing just now. Well, this is an attempt to make my blog more useful and less like a thought dump of random emotional ranting. Like I promised I would a few posts seems even though I promised to make this blog more relevant to others and less like just a place for me to rant/etc., I personally think thus far I've failed to deliver on that promise. So I'm trying again, and in an effort to do so I'm removing those posts that I think were detrimental to this blog. Don't worry, they're still saved on my blog, but they will not be visible.

It's occurred to me that there could have been a number of things I could've blogged about instead of just my random emotions - there are plenty of issues related to modern-day yoga, Hinduism, and its related topics that I could've offered commentary on and written about. Instead, thus far I've just opened the dark recesses of my mind for the world to see...sometimes to...undesirable results.

I figure it's time for me to put up or shut up. I need to make this blog more meaningful if it's to be of use to anyone, let alone myself. Just writing things down isn't doing it for me anymore - I need to feel like I'm writing something meaningful. So once again I'm putting my foot down on my brain (not literally, thankfully) to get it to stop writing just garbage.

Expect more meaningful content in the future...and please, if you don't think the content I've written in a particular blog post is meaningful, please let me know! That's one thing I'm hoping to increase through a refocused blog - more reader interaction. And I hope this reader interaction will be of benefit in the form of constructive criticism. If something is not adding to the conversation and is just my emotional ranting, then please say so. (Although try to be nice about it...say so, but do so constructively.)

Namaste and hope to have you reading soon.