Archive for May, 2011



His Holiness the Karmapa talks about how he was discovered to be the reincarnation of a revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism. In telling his story, he urges us to work on not just technology and design, but the technology and design of the heart. He is translated onstage by Tyler Dewar.

About His Holiness the Karmapa

Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, a revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism devoted to preserving and propagating Buddhist teachings.

Why you should listen to him:

The name “Karmapa” means “the one who carries out Buddha-activity,” and for seventeen lifetimes, a karmapa has embodied the teachings of Buddha in tibet. The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was born a nomad in Tibet in 1985 and recognized by the Dalai Lama in 1992 as the 17th Karmapa. The young boy was brought to the Tsurphu monastery to live and study for his life as a spiritual teacher and activist.

At age 14, he made a daring flight from Tibet, and now works from a temporary camp in Dharamsala, near his friend the Dalai Lama. (After the Dalai Lama, he’s seen as Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest-ranking spiritual leader, though the two men lead different schools within the faith.) In 2008, he made a long visit to the United States, where he spoke and taught at Buddhist centers around the country. And in 2009 he toured Europe, speaking about faith — but also about protecting the environment.

“The young Kamarpa is the most powerful Buddhist meditation teacher. His scholarship is excellent, and his youth and his presence makes a profound impact.”

Dzochen Ponlop Rinpoche, quoted in Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS.org

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The spiritual awakening begins with some kind of uneasiness, a generalized and widespread premonition that we are in the final times of a cycle.

The search for truth leads to spirituality, to a door in our heart that allows us to reach another type of knowledge: the inner one. Through that knowledge we can achieve mystical experiences; those are experiences from our soul or spirit that allow us to know the mysteries of life and nature.

In order to reach that knowledge, many people resort to certain practices: Yoga, Tai Chi, relaxation, meditation, techniques to activate chakras, astral projection, etc. All those are helping tools, but the true awakening is that of the consciousness. It is achieved with will, in a rigorous work upon ourselves that enables us to grow spiritually until we reach inner enlightenment.

Our planet is about to undergo a process of change. The time for a new era is coming close: a period when spirituality, love and peace will prevail. But before, great sufferings will come to this humanity.

Do you wish to be prepared for that?

This Sacred Earth: The 2012 Phenomenon is a documentary that uses the 2012 prophecies as a way to ask how we can fall back in love with Mother Earth to save both ourselves and the planet. Imbued with our trademark lightness of spirit, love of beauty and reverence for the natural world, this film takes you beyond fear and into hope and feel-good!

From our belief that a disconnection from nature is at the root cause of our planetary crisis, the film asks 17 wisdomkeepers from around the globe what each one of us can do to ensure the 2012 indigenous prophecy of a millennium of peace becomes a reality. Enjoy and learn, be empowered, uplifted and inspired, tap your feet to the music of Tribe World Ensemble and throw away your uncertainty about tomorrow.

“This Sacred Earth: The 2012 Phenomenon is a must-see film for anyone who needs a good dollop of hope about the planet, 2012 or themselves. There’s a lot of soul food and wisdom here to launch us into a new era of peace.

This film won a standing ovation at the Perth 2009 Conscious Living 2012 New Earth Festival because it is a heart – and hope – filled delight and changes people from the first frames.”

For many, times are hard. Wealth is something you might have known in the past. But there is less evidence of it now.

What about the innate wealth of an ordinary person? Not their possessions, lifestyle or money in the bank. The wealth of who they are, deep down. The wealth of their spirit. Your spirit, My spirit. The spirit that unites and makes up our common humanity. Our human community.

For those of us who feel unsure of our financial futures, how can we put money in its place and yet ensure a higher quality of life with greater health, well-being and happiness?

How? Wait, there is a little more yet before the how. Maybe for you, just getting through the week is challenging enough.

Have you grown accustomed to the idea that wealth is associated with money — alone? I have. I am in the process of changing my mind. The change is one that is happening from the inside out. Get wealthy first, and then go for for money second.

What on Earth do I mean by that? In so many ways, we are told that to be happy we need this that or the other “thing”. You know, a holiday in Bali, a sleek Porsche, Jimmy Choo handbag, the iPhone series 5 — maybe not yet available, but soon will be. All of these are wonderful in their way. Are they necessary for happiness? You can answer that.

I am all for a rich life, to enjoy the best that is on offer, materially and otherwise. The issue is that money and possessions can get “sticky.” That is to say we can become over-dependent upon them. Attached and fearing their loss, we become driven to protect and increase the supply, in case we lose the comfort and pleasure they give us. Very few of us in the so-called developed world suffer the deprivations of many in countries such as Kenya, where millions lack the most fundamental needs as we see them.

Fear of loss does not enrich well-being, peace of mind or prosperity. Prolonged fear depletes and, eventually, makes you sick.

The change of mind I refer to above is taking place from the inside out — from what I call the soul level, or inspiration. What if we were each born with all we ever needed to sustain and fulfill our lives? That within us we have extraordinary reserves of as yet untapped wealth in the forms of personal assets, talents, gifts, creativity — do you get the idea? These assets have of course to be played out in some way in the world to become useful, of value to others and fulfilled.

And when they are, life becomes very rich and rewarding, so much so that in their expression, you are fulfilled and have the experience of wealth. In this way, your wealthiness is very much in your own hands. What is more, the beauty of this is that in the fullness, you are not seeking “out there” for things to make you happy. You are happy. Period. And as your purchasing power grows, even by small amounts, so you may wish to participate in some of the wonderful things that money can buy.

A friend in her 70s, with a very limited budget discovered that she could go to her local flower market at the end of the sales day and pick up beautiful flowers at bargain prices to decorate her small apartment. Cut flowers speak to her of luxury. It is amazing how much you can get for a little when you put your mind to it. It pays us all to be savvy shoppers.

Of course you need money to cover life’s basic essentials. Maybe less than you think. It is amazing how you can develop a prosperous frame of mind, such that your euro, dollar, pound, yen goes further. It takes focus and discipline to buy simply what you need, no excess. It becomes a game. The game is fun.

5 Keys to Restoring Your Spirit of Wealth

1. Be a giver. Find something to give, if not money, your time, your love, your kindness, a smile. Giving affirms your natural wealth.

2. Be grateful. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, stop to count your blessings, some of those things you might take for granted — your friends, family, ability to talk and to listen, your education, nature around you. Write them down in a journal. Gratitude makes you feel full and raises your energy.

3. Be creative. Find new ways of managing the money you have, develop your sense of resourcefulness, use your imagination. Cultivate wealthy attitudes. Join with others to share innovations and ideas.

4. Look for joy. Find the fun in life around you, the smile on the face of a baby, the antics of animals, greet yourself with a smile in the mirror.

5. Simplify your life. Wealth could be less a matter of what you have, but what you are able to live without. Let go of the excess, give away, sell or throw out what no longer really serves or nourishes you.

If you are in a boring job that pays the rent, keep at it. But take some time to explore your dream of what your life can become. How would you really like to be living? What does wealth “mean” for you? What might a wealthy life mean for you?

Please join in the conversation. If there were a “wealth school” at which you could discover how to make the most of your life, and your money, what would you like to learn?

The Wealth Book – Anne Naylor – Part 1.mov

A growing understanding of our universe reveals two remarkable dynamics at work that together intensify and expand our feeling for the spiritual nature of existence. The first dynamic is the universe story: A grand narrative that portrays humanity as descendants of a vast, creative lineage of life that stretches over nearly 14 billion years. The second dynamic is the universe emerging as a fresh creation at every moment.

While the universe story provides a stunning narrative of the “horizontal” unfolding across time, the insight of an emerging universe adds the “vertical” dimension of the universe continuously arising in time. The vertical dynamic of continuous creation slices through all that exists and reveals everything as a single orchestration happening all at once. At every moment, we are a part of this grand unity of creation.

The unfolding of the universe through time demonstrates an amazingly powerful and patient process at work. The continuous creation of the cosmos in time reveals another, stunningly powerful dynamic. When we put these two extraordinary processes together at an intersection called “now,” it reveals how we simultaneously exist in a place of both creative freedom and profound communion. Being and becoming converge into an experience beyond words — and we recognize that we already live in the realm of the sacred.

Our awakening to a new understanding of the universe in both its horizontal and its vertical aspects represents a stunning re-imagining of where we are as a species. Realizing that we live at the intersection of both the horizontal unfolding of the universe and the vertical arising of the universe presents a view of existence that reaches beyond any particular nation, region, or ethnic group. We are bio-cosmic beings who are waking up to the fact that we live in an ever-emergent universe and our evolutionary task is to grow into the bigness of who we are, both personally and collectively. This vision of the human journey is big enough to honor the diversity of our past and to act as a beacon for our collective future.

Although the idea of an ever-emergent universe has ancient roots in human experience, it is also radically new as the frontiers of modern science offer a growing recognition of how dynamic the universe truly is. The universe is not static, sitting quietly in empty space; instead, the totality of the universe is everywhere in motion and being regenerated moment by moment — a process requiring the flow-through of a stupendous amount of energy. In the words of cosmologist Brian Swimme, “The universe emerges out of an all-nourishing abyss not only fourteen billion years ago but in every moment.” Moment by moment, the universe emerges as a single orchestration — a uni-verse or single verse of manifestation. Because nothing is left out of the regeneration of the universe, we are participants in a cosmic scale process whether we are conscious of it or not.

This insight is not restricted to science. Based upon decades of research described in my book “The Living Universe,” harvesting the wisdom of human experience is like watching a picture gradually come into focus and seeing an extraordinary image of the universe emerging before our eyes. Within each major tradition — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Indigenous, and more — we can find remarkably similar descriptions of the universe and the life force that sustains it: Christians affirm that God is not separate from this world but continuously creates it anew, so that we live, move, and have our being in God. Muslims declare that the entire universe is continually coming into being, and that each moment is a new “occasion” for Allah to create the universe. Hindus proclaim that the entire universe is a single body that is being continually danced into creation by a divine Life force or Brahman. Buddhists state that the entire universe arises freshly at every moment in an unceasing flow of interdependent, co-arising where everything depends upon everything else. Taoists state that the Tao is the “Mother of the Universe,” the inexhaustible source from which all things rise and fall without ceasing. Confucians view our universe as a unified and interpenetrating whole that is sustained and nourished by the vitality of the life force or ch’i. Indigenous peoples declare that an animating wind or life force blows through all things in the world and there is aliveness and sacred power everywhere. And many Western thinkers portray the universe as a single, living creature continually regenerating itself as it evolves toward higher levels of complexity and consciousness. Beneath the differences in language, a common reality is being described — our life is part of a larger life that is being continuously renewed. The universe inhabits us as much as we inhabit the universe.

The unity of existence is not an experience to be created; rather, it is an always-manifesting condition waiting to be appreciated and welcomed into awareness. The “power of now” derives from the entire universe arising at every moment as an extremely precise flow. When we are in the now, we are “reality surfing” — riding the wave of continuous creation. Each moment is a fresh formation of the universe, emerging seamlessly and flawlessly. It is the doubly powerful nature of life at the intersection of emergence and evolution that gives such intensity and span of meaning to existence, and awakens naturally a spiritual appreciation for all of life.

A Living Universe?

Duane Elgin takes us on a journey to explore what kind of universe we live in? Who are we? Where are we?

We recently went into escrow on our house, but don’t yet have a new house to move into. As excited as we are about our move (just across the San Francisco Bay from Concord to Marin County), it feels pretty scary to not yet know exactly where we’ll be living next month.

With this big change and a few others coming soon, I’ve been noticing how I deal with and relate to change. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship to change. I love the excitement, growth opportunity and newness of change. But, at the same time, I can easily fall into states of worry, fear and become overwhelmed when facing change, especially big ones.

How do you feel about change? While it may depend on the specific change (i.e. one we want versus one we don’t want, or one that seems exciting versus one that seems hard or even “bad”), most of us seek and fear change simultaneously. Even positive changes can be unsettling or downright upsetting. And, while each of us has a unique personality and perspective, many of us tend to be creatures of habit.

Change is one of the main “constants” in life, ironically. However, we don’t usually spend all that much time thinking about our relationship to change or specifically expanding on our ability to adapt to change — we usually deal with it from a place of survival, reaction or necessity.

What if we embraced change more consciously and learned how to not only “manage” it, but thrive through it? Whether you’re someone who enjoys change and handles it quite well, or you hate it and get totally stressed out by it, all of us can benefit from embracing change more deliberately and supporting those around us as we all go through the big and small changes of life — especially these days.

Here are some things you can do and think about as you deal with change in your own life — so as to more effectively and peacefully deal with it when it shows up.

1) Become consciously aware of your relationship to change. Knowing how you deal with change, what stresses you out about it, what allows you to navigate it most effectively and what kind of support you need as you move through the change process are all important elements of embracing change. It’s rarely the circumstances themselves that cause us stress or difficulty; it’s our relationship to them. By altering our relationship to change, we can become much more peaceful and successful in dealing with it.

2) Acknowledge and express your true feelings (especially your fear). When change occurs, there are usually a number of different emotions we experience. We tend to focus most of our attention on the details, specifics and circumstances, not so much on our emotions. However, it is our emotional experience and reaction that dictates much of our effectiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with change. Whether it’s something we consider “good” or “bad,” fear is almost always associated with change, because we’re moving into something unknown and often uncomfortable. By acknowledging and expressing our fear (and other emotions) in an authentic way, we can take back our power from the situation, get real about how we’re feeling, and move through it with more ease and grace. There’s nothing wrong with any of the emotions we experience during change, the problems begin to arise when we don’t express our emotions authentically.

3) Get support. As with most things in life, change is much easier to deal with when we get help. We don’t have to go through it all alone and there are probably many people in our lives who have gone through similar changes before and can support us in the process. Asking for and receiving help from other people can be challenging for many of us and can feel quite vulnerable. However, one of my favorite sayings is, “The answer is always ‘no’ if you don’t ask.” Getting support not only makes dealing with change easier for us, it allows other people to be of service, which is something most people love to have the opportunity to do.

4) Look for the gold. There is “gold’ in the midst of every change — even the most painful and difficult ones. When change is more “positive,” it can seem easier to find the gold in it. However, positive change can also be tricky because we don’t understand why we still may experience fear or discontent and sometimes won’t acknowledge these and other feelings due to our own embarrassment. With change that is more “negative,” it can often be hard to find or see the gold. When dealing with difficult changes in our lives, being able to authentically get in touch with the gifts, blessings and growth opportunities available to us can help as we navigate our way through the experience and also allow us to evolve in the process.

Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others in going through change. It’s not easy for most of us. By embracing change we become not only more effective in dealing with it, but more peaceful, present, and powerful in our lives.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the author of the bestselling books Focus on the Good Stuff (Hardcover, Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Hardcover, Wiley).

He’s the former President of the Board of the Peace Alliance, a non-profit organization committed to creating a culure of peace and campaigning to create a cabinet level U.S. Department of Peace.

Mike and his work have been featured on ABC News and the Oprah radio network, as well as in Forbes, Ladies Home Journal, Fast Company, Self, the Washington Post, many others. He’s also a regular contributor to Oprah.com and the Huffington Post. He has worked with clients such as Google, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Apple, Genentech, and more. Mike’s books have been translated into ten languages. For more information about his work, books, media appearances, and speaking – feel free to visit http://www.mike-robbins.com.

Change Makers – Mike Robbins

Mike Robbins, Author and motivational speaker in conversation with Gopi Kallayil on the Public Access TV show Change Makers. Mike is a former Stanford baseball player and the author of two books – Focus On The Good Stuff, and Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken


Deepak Chopra

Since 9/11 there has been a pervasive sense of anxiety in the world, and at the same time a search for spiritual answers. Is violence an aspect of human nature that can be cured, or are we caught in an endless cycle of violence that will never end? One of the most optimistic answers to that dilemma came from Buddha more than two thousand years ago. In the light of what he taught, I wanted to post my thoughts about the Buddhist solution and what it means for you and me as we seek to live in a troubling world.

Anyone coming to spirituality from the outside asks the same question: “What can it do for me?” There’s no universal key that unlocks the truth. However great the teaching, unless it can be made personal, it is sleeping. There’s no cut-and-dried case, especially today. You and I seek spirituality one by one, on our own terms. We have our own specific suffering that we want to heal. As old traditions no longer bind us together, isolation, ironically enough, has become the new tradition for millions of modern people. Feeling alone, unwanted, unloved, weak, lost, and empty is how the human disease feels today.

At no time in history have there been more stateless persons, refugees, overpopulation, and restless migration. Globalism makes the individual feel lost in the world, overwhelmed by its chaos, which always seems to be teetering between madness and catastrophe. Yet when people came to Buddha, they brought the same complaints. They felt helpless in the face of natural disasters, war, and poverty. They couldn’t comprehend a world on the edge of madness.

This dilemma has brought me closer to Buddha in recent years. I carry with me a few seminal ideas that have guided my life so far. One of them was expressed by Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Because the world is so huge, it came as a revelation to me–and also a mystery–that by changing myself I can affect the world. This idea was not original to Gandhi. It’s an offshoot of a much older idea, traceable to ancient India, which says, “As you are, so is the world.”
That, too, is a revelation and a mystery.

Most of us survive by pretending that the world is “out there,” at arm’s length, which gives us breathing space. We can pursue our comfortable lives without merging into the poverty, injustice, and violence that surrounds us. However, our comfort zone disappears if the world is as we are. The individual is suddenly thrust center stage, holding responsibility for troubles that begin “in here” before they appear “out there.”
This is the same as saying that the world begins in consciousness. Buddha was famously practical. He told people to stop analyzing the world and its troubles. He also told them to stop relying on religious rituals and sacrifices, which are external. Buddha was the avatar of the situation we find ourselves in today, because he refused to rely on the traditional gods or God. He didn’t use the social safety net of the priestly caste with its automatic connection to spiritual privilege. Above all, he accepted the inescapable fact that each person is ultimately alone in the world. This aloneness is the very disease Buddha set out to cure.

His cure was a waking-up process, in which suffering came to be seen as rooted in false consciousness, and specifically in the dulled awareness that causes us to accept illusion for reality. The reason that people resort to violence, for example, is not that violence is inherent in human nature. Rather, violence is the result of a wrong diagnosis. That diagnosis puts the limited ego-self first in the world, and regards the demands of “I, me, mine” as the most important things to attain. The reason that people react with fear in the face of violence is that the ego goes into a panic trying to defend itself and its attachment to the physical body. The answer to violence for both the aggressor and the victim is to see through the false claims of the ego and thus to come to a true understanding of who we are and why we are here. Buddha’s answer remains radical, but its truth offers a way out that may be our best hope for the future. Let’s examine his solution in detail.

(To be continued)

In this essential satsang, Adyashanti explores two fundamentally different motivations that human beings bring to spirituality. He first shows how the psychological desire to feel better and be constantly happy only leads to persistent suffering. He then reveals how the existential drive to see what’s really true regardless of our emotional state can free us to discover the simplicity and happiness of what we already are.

What is this thing called “self”? Does it actually exist? In this deeply penetrating satsang on the central teaching of the Buddha, Adyashanti invites a direct investigation and experience of who we are. By recognizing our impersonal nature, we can discover the one reality that is beyond the imaginary self.

When we say that everything is karma, is the result of causes previously set in motion, we have to extend our perspective of human karma far into the past; in fact, millions of years, to the very early period when man first tasted of the fruit of knowledge, and began henceforth to learn right from wrong. Obviously, from that long ago time we have had to be fully responsible not only for what we thought and did, but also to share in the responsibility for the effect that our thinking and acting has had on others throughout the ages.

We can see then that every one of the billions of human souls that have been in and out of existence on this earth during those thousands and thousands of centuries must have developed countless attractions and repulsions, and set in motion innumerable causes — causes which at some time, in some place, and under the right conditions, will inevitably express themselves as effects. But karma is by no means a merciless round of reaping and sowing, with never a chance to get out of the squirrel’s cage. Not at all. Life, everything, moves in spiral fashion, not in a closed ring or circle. That is where we make our greatest mistake when we first come across the idea of rebirth and karma.

If we assume that everything is governed by universal law, that the cosmos is founded on justice, then nothing could happen by chance; everything must be an expression of the operation of the law of balance, of the law of attraction and repulsion, action and reaction. Pursuing this to its logical consequence, every one of us on earth today must have experienced many hundreds of life episodes since that very early point in man’s history when we first recognized the difference between right and wrong in a self-conscious way. Certainly there must be a continuity of reactions, otherwise you would have a crazy universe, without rhyme or reason; and what better way could there be for the permanent soul in us to grow and evolve, and benefit by and through the effects of its past actions?

If we can grasp the long view, it is not difficult to feel the grand sweep of destiny that is moving civilization forward on its evolutionary path. There are bound to be times of terrible suffering because somewhere, some place, we have upset the balance by wrong thinking and wrong action. We can scarcely realize what an immense amount of karma each soul, to say nothing of nations and races, has engendered from long ago — a backlog of karma that must in time expend itself.

There are many more kinds of karma than just the physical aspect which insures that fire will burn and that if we go out in the rain we get wet. If karma is a universal law it must work universally — that is, on the divine, spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical planes. That means that we have a divine karma, a spiritual karma, a mental and an emotional karma, as well as a physical karma. Just as we often speak of man’s higher self as well as his ordinary personality, so we can say that there is an inner karma that pertains to his higher self, his guardian angel, that has its source in the divinity within, and an outer karma that belongs to the everyday personality.

At times something inside seems to push us into difficulties. In a way that is exactly what happens: the inner karma, the karma that springs from our higher self, does at moments make itself felt, and we almost feel led in a certain direction, perhaps even a difficult and roundabout way; but the karma that belongs to our personality seems to pull us in the opposite direction. So there is a conflict between the feeling deep inside that a certain path should be followed, and the contrary impulses of the outer nature. How can we reconcile this conflict so that the inner and the outer karma can work harmoniously?

We have to set our sights higher, take them off the lower and place them where they rightfully belong. Once we do this, we shall realize that our Father or guardian angel is continuously sending its impulses into our human self and, if our desire is to live so that the higher has predominance in all our thinking and actions, there will be no undue strain. But when under these inspiring influences we intuit that a particular path is right, if our concentration has been largely focused in our ordinary consciousness, we may feel terribly disturbed. There will be real conflict between the inner and outer karma, a conflict which will not cease until we make up our minds definitely to follow the lead of our guardian angel whose goal is the bringing of light out of darkness and the evolution of the less into the greater.

At first, many think that karma is either good or bad. It is neither it is only our reaction to the circumstances of life that brings either pleasant or unpleasant experiences. Actually, all karma is opportunity. Obviously, if we have lived many, many lifetimes, it would be impossible for an individual to carry in any one incarnation the full burden of his entire past. “God fits the burden to the shoulders” is a law that works universally, for nature is just all along the line and therefore truly compassionate.

The inner karma that originates from the divinity within and operates through our higher self quietly impresses the entire constitution with its influence. When the human self feels the touch of those divine promptings, it would do well to heed them and allow the outer karma as far as possible to conform with the inner. It is when we try to isolate our personality from the radiance from above that there is tension and conflict.

Life is not always a simple straight line of duty — sometimes we are presented with some real problems of decision, but if we can stand aside and view them from the broader perspective, we can be assured that our higher self will never forsake us in time of genuine need. We should be grateful for the kindly impulses that lead us into a new set of circumstances. When the inner karma appears to conflict with the outer, we can take it as a sign of progress, a sign that the personal self needs to look at things from a higher vantage point. That is the reason we have stressed the practical importance of trying to read the daily script of our lives, because our higher self in conjunction with the natural affairs of daily life, is trying to lead us into avenues of experience where the soul can grow in strength and understanding.

We have the responsibility to recognize that all karma is opportunity. I repeat this again because it is the fundamental key to meeting life without despair, no matter what the conditions or situations may be. The so-called pleasant situations may present an even greater challenge than the difficult ones: to handle them wisely, to recognize them not just as recompense for good in the past but rather as a means of sharing our blessings with all. I am speaking here of spiritual values, of course.

The unpleasant conditions in themselves represent a great opportunity because often the most difficult experiences, which at first seem like the bitterest of poison, in the end turn out as the “waters of life.” That is because our guardian angel, seeing our growing sensitivity to its behests, begins to impress us more strongly and “push” us into periods of trial. We have all had the experience that when we meet hardship and adversity squarely, they cease to overwhelm us, for the reason that our attitude of courage allows the inner and outer karma to work harmoniously together. Simply put, we have to learn to meet and handle wisely, without thought of ourselves, all the circumstances that flow from our karma — from ourselves.

Everything is karma, inner and outer, higher and lower, spiritual and physical; and the master of the inner karma is the divinity within that resides at the core of our being. The master of the outer karma is your and my human personality. Everything is consciousness, and our whole task of raising the lower by the higher consists in self-consciously transmuting the base metal of our ordinary consciousness into the gold of the divinity within.

The threads of karma are finely drawn, and not one is lost in the larger pattern of our evolution. Therefore, in the final analysis, there cannot be anything but justice, which is nothing other than the adjustment of equilibrium in action and reaction, cause and effect, sowing and reaping. Why do you suppose all great religions and philosophies have stressed this one teaching: the balancing of the scales of destiny? Did not the ancient Greeks use the scales as the symbol of universal justice and Order and Balance — a symbol which we in the West have faithfully preserved? Did not the Egyptians also emphasize this truth in their dramatic scene of the judgment as portrayed in their papyri and temples: the “weighing of the heart against the feather of truth”?

Everything in nature works toward harmony, toward bringing about growth from the less to the greater. Why then should man be an exception? If justice inheres in the physical realms, why not in the moral and spiritual areas of experience?

James A. Long

James A. Long was born on August 27, 1898, at York, Pennsylvania. Following a career in private business, he served as a management consultant during W.W.II in the office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, D.C., and was later transferred to the Department of State where he assisted in the changeover to peacetime responsibilities. While there he was sent as an Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations at the opening of the Second Session in 1946.

Mr. Long joined The Theosophical Society in 1935 and in 1939 became business manager of its American Section. He worked closely with Arthur L. Conger whom he succeeded as leader of The Theosophical Society in 1951. His administration was marked by an emphasis on the practical expression of theosophy in daily living. To this purpose, he founded and edited SUNRISE magazine as a bridge between theosophy and the public, each issue offering theosophic perspectives on relevant trends in science, philosophy, and religion, as well as studies in ancient and modern theosophy. Mr. Long died on July 19, 1971.

The ‘mystery’ of life for most of us is how, amid the infinite multitudes of being, each individual is born with its own unique characteristics and destiny. Is it true, we wonder, that some are blessed, or cursed, from the start; or do we indeed shape and design our own life-style in compliance with the balancing law of cause and effect?

Thinking back to the beginnings of time when the heavens and earths were ‘created’ and there was simultaneously life and motion, we realize how motion, as action-reaction, from then onwards stirred through all beings and propelled them forwards in evolutionary courses. Instinctively, the kingdoms of nature respond to this pattern, just as we do. From our moment of birth we initiate cause — a cry or a smile; and result — attention or love; and thereafter continuing, we fashion ourselves emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually by the causes — our thoughts and our acts — we set into motion. And during this process we are guided by conscience, our voice of experience that ever seeks justice and harmonious balance in our relations with others.

So infallible and intricate are the workings of this one supreme law of cause-effect, that it has puzzled and fascinated scientists and philosophers for ages; yet some ascribe its action to chance, or to an all-knowing, all-powerful God to whom unquestioningly they give obeisance.

“. . . thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,” Moses commanded the Israelites (Exodus 21:23-5). And upon this they established their system of justice, not always recognizing here a suggestive explanation of nature’s inescapable consequences. Fortunately Paul spoke more directly:

For every man shall bear his own burden . . . Be not deceived; God is not mocked! for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting, And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not, As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, . . . Galatians 6:5, 7-10

This metaphor of the sower is appealing and scientific. Certainly the law of action and reaction can be shown to operate in the physical world, as the Austrian botanist, Gregor Mendel, verified in his experiments with peas. In one, where he crossed dwarf with tall peas, he confirmed, in effect, Paul’s statement by demonstrating that while invariably all first generation plants produce tall peas, “in due season,” that is, in the second and succeeding generations, the dwarfs, or recessive and latent strains, reproduce themselves in mathematical precision. Applying this to the human level, he was able to lay down his remarkable thesis regarding the genetic inheritance of dominant characteristic units.

Charles Darwin in his way also verified this law of action-reaction: his theory of natural selection, even in its modified form, explains how causes — the hardy and adaptive ability of certain species of plants and animals — result in individual survival, and in the perpetuation of particular species. And earlier, Sir Isaac Newton expressed this same principle as the Third Law of Motion: that to every action there is equal and opposite reaction.

To these ideas our new biology adds further dimension, demonstrating, in color-coded units similar to a child’s plastic construction set, how the chemical DNA genetic code that is preserved within the nuclear heart of the cells of the body not only stores and faithfully reproduces the acquired variations of its, and therefore of our, three-billion-year evolutionary history, but how it also uses the dominant and recessive characteristics that we acquired by our past sowing to build us into the unique individuals that we are now.

These scientists, however, deal with physical conditions. To discover the psychological, mental, and spiritual causes that shape us, and how such subtle characteristics are transmitted from life to future life, we must turn to the scientific and religious literature of the East, where in cave and temple vaults ancient scrolls have been preserved which elucidate the mysterious workings of the law they call karma (literally action).

Most schools of Indian thought regard karma as the inexorable moral and scientific basis of life. The Buddhists, for example, believe that it is by karma that the whole world moves. By karma each individual is what he is: everything that he thinks, feels and does; everything that distinguishes him from others, is the result of forces, or causes, that he and he alone has set in motion. Thus, they recognize each living being as an architect who determines his or her own “merits and demerits,” suffering and success; who determines the family, race and religion he or she shall return to, and also the ‘heaven’ and ‘hell.’

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.

If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. — Dhammapada, 1:1-2

Therefore, if we would improve the fabric and the course of our life, we must, they explain, change our thoughts, that is, our will-intelligence-consciousness. For has not our karma — our bodily action, vocal action and mental action — originated in and been established into patterns of behavior by volition (cetana)? Once our will is directed toward spiritual goals the four principal kinds of karma, which generally take eons to dissipate, will quickly dissolve: (1) the action which brings results in this life; (2) the action which produces results in the next or future lives; (3) that which brings results from time to time; and (4) actions of the past that produce present conditions.

Understanding this and the teachings concerning the intricate interwebbings of the karma of the individual, family, races, and kingdoms, the Buddhist layman endeavors to follow the Noble Eightfold Path which leads step by step out of this action-reaction cycle of suffering and illusion: right understanding, right mindedness, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right attentiveness, and right concentration. And the Buddhist mendicant confidently pursues the Path, knowing that poverty, illness, handicap and ignorance are nature’s method of restoring equilibrium; and that they are to him opportunity both to help those who suffer, and indirectly, to test and develop his own self-control and compassion.

Another ancient Indian order, the Jains, embrace much the same teachings, adding with emphasis that no god, no sacrifice or act of repentance can stay the force of reaction set into motion by our thoughts, our will and our acts. It matters not whether these acts are mental or physical, past or present, intentional or unintentional. Believing that we alone determine our shape, complexion, behavior and every event in our daily life, the clear-minded Jains explain how this works: whenever a jiva — a conscious being, be it a god, human being, animal or plant, or dweller in the regions below — longs for and attaches itself to things of this world, such as food, clothes, people and places; whenever it gives vent to passion, such as anger, fear, greed, hatred or love; or whenever it clings to ignorance and false ideas, that jiva in so doing opens the doors of its heart to an influx of “karmic atomic matter” — karma-prayoga pudgala. This more subtle matter thereupon mixes and interacts with the ethereal substance of and surrounding the jiva and produces aggregates of molecular particles that either immediately color, cloud and weigh down the jiva, or accumulate as seeds and lie dormant, to ripen when conditions are appropriate for their expression.

Now, as each influx has its own particular origin, coloration (of six kinds), density, taste, fragrance, tangibility, intensity and duration, it follows that acts of self-control and compassion bring in a flood of beneficent karmic material that, depending on its nature, colors the jiva a luminous white, red or gold, and brings by attraction to the circumstances of its life, conditions that are harmonious and pleasant. On the other hand, reckless, selfish, cruel or sensual acts attract an invasion of heavy, dark and disruptive material that draws the soul downward to worlds of illusion, and brings confusion and painful conditions into the life.

Jain literature discusses in detail 148 varieties of karma which can affect and pervade a jiva as does “heat a red-hot iron ball.” These various kinds of karma fall into eight general headings: (a) Namakarma, “name-karma,” affects the ‘mask’ or personality — the heredity, sex, health, and details of the outward appearance — and the individuality or character, qualities of the inner being. (b) Ayushka-karma, “life-karma,” like a tether, limits the length of a person’s life and the amount of vitality he will expend. (c) Antaraya-karma, “hindrance-karma,” produces obstacles that frustrate one’s efforts to improve his life. (d) Gotra-karma, “family-karma,” determines social position — the family, occupation, marriage, religion, place of residence, and even the kind of food one will eat. (e) Vedaniya-karma, “karma to be known,” attracts to the doer experiences of pleasure and pain which, they say, are bitter-sweet to the soul, like tasting honey from the blade of a sword. (f) Mohaniya-karma, “delusion-karma,” causes emotional and psychological confusion; while (g) Jnana-avaraniya, “knowledge-concealing,” and (h) Darsana-avaraniya, “insight-concealing,” veil the mental and spiritual perceptions with ignorance and prejudices so that one is unable to recognize truth when he sees it, but turns away like a traveler who, seeking the king, is repulsed by the doorkeeper.

Considering this, it is obvious that the more active a person is, the more he enjoys and identifies with the objects, environment and knowledge of this world we perceive through the senses, the more he attracts to himself karmic tendencies. These aggregates, the Jains explain, actually form themselves into a ‘body’ — the karmana sarira (the linga- or sukshma-sarira of Samkhya philosophy). And as this body, unlike the physical, does not disintegrate at death but adheres to the jiva, it is the part of the individual that carries his dominant and recessive karmic attributes from one birth to another. This is the Jain way of suggesting the ancient teaching that we inherit our real character from ourselves, not from our parents, although we do ‘inherit’ or select from the family we are karmically drawn to, the qualities necessary at this time for our soul’s experience.

We create and predestine ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually, by the ‘food’ we take into our body, our mind, and into our soul. These philosophical thoughts help explain how we act, interact and react upon one another. This is especially true when the “eye for an eye” revenge-action syndrome is perpetuated. However, as we are continually making new, and exhausting or ‘consuming’ old karmic substance, we can at any moment refuse to retaliate in kind and thereby stop the back-and-forth flow of degrading karmic interaction. In turning in the direction of justice and love, we not only fracture old courses of action, but draw to ourselves a finer, brighter and more buoyant karmic matter.

Sooner or later this moment of decision comes to us all, comes perhaps during a time of affliction or of high aspiration. Our spirit will stir and awaken in revolt against the monotonous, low-level, repetitive action-reaction-action. Henceforth, if mind and will have been strengthened sufficiently, we can consciously take full charge of our lives. However, a permanent change requires inflexible will, courage and persistence — after all, have we not taken on the monster of all our past actions? Have we not, in effect, determined not only to search out, face and destroy karmic deposits imbedded eons ago, but from now on, to accept influx of only the highest quality material?

To assist in this venture the Jain “householder” is given as a course of physical and mental discipline “three jewels” of wisdom: right faith (insight), right knowledge, right conduct. In ‘purifying’ by faith or devotion, his attitudes, feelings and thoughts, he allows not even the smallest particle of weakness to enter his being, knowing that if it does, it will take root and grow. In studying their doctrines and observing the laws of life firsthand, he gains knowledge, including, no doubt, knowledge of what result follows which cause; what forces are engendered and how their momentum can be directed, transmuted or neutralized beneficially. And in controlling his conduct, avoiding excess, speaking truthfully with kindness, he practices ahimsa — noninjury — and, at the same time, establishes symmetrical patterns of thought and of action.

Then later, as an ascetic who so carefully “sweeps” the path before him lest he inadvertently cause discomfort or pain to another, the Jain adopts a rigid code of conduct designed to close completely the gates of his soul to the inflow of worldly matter. For by now he knows that even the most radiant karmic substance will cling to and enmesh him; by now he is determined to purify the entirety of his being from the slightest hue of the six karmic colors, so that his spirit, restored to its lofty state, will like a “crystal mirror” receive and reflect the splendors of infinite knowledge, power and bliss. Thus nirvana is attained, and he, released from the wheel of birth and death (samsara), may leave this realm of illusion.

This same mystical insight is expressed poetically in the Hindu Upanishads:

Verily, this Soul (Atman) — poets declare — wanders here on earth from body to body, unovercome, as it seems, by the bright or the dark fruits of action. . . . As an enjoyer of righteousness, he covers himself (atmanam) with a veil made of qualities; [but] he remains fixed — yea, he remains fixed! — Maitri Upanishad, 2:7

As a man acts, so does he become. A man of good deeds becomes good, a man of evil deeds becomes evil. A man becomes pure through pure deeds, impure through impure deeds.

As a man’s desire is, so is his destiny. For as his desire is, so is his will; as his will is, so is his deed; and as his deed is, so is his reward, whether good or bad.

A man acts according to the desires to which he clings. After death he goes to the next world, bearing in his mind the subtle impressions of his deeds; and after reaping there the harvest of his deeds, he returns again to this world of action. Thus he who has desire continues subject to rebirth. — Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad, IV, iv, 5-6

But for those seeking freedom from karmic encumbrances the Bhagavad-Gita gives inspiration and guidance. Especially where Krishna recommends to the aspiring Arjuna not inaction, but action — the path of Karma-yoga. However, the quality of action he prescribes is as that of inaction since it brings no stain, no entanglement in worldly matters. When one can perform the duties of life with passions subdued and heart fixed in devotion upon the supreme Spirit; when one can act, aware of the fruits of his actions, yet unconcerned, unattached, unswayed by pleasure or pain, gain or loss, victory or defeat, then to him spiritual knowledge comes naturally in the progress of time. “His mind is undisturbed in adversity; he is happy and contented in prosperity, and he is a stranger to anxiety, fear, and anger. Such a man is called a Muni — a wise man” (II, 55-6).

Thus we find that practically all of the philosophical schools of India have the capacity to turn one’s thoughts to the needs of the soul. Those dealing with karma are especially uplifting, showing that for each individual, this is the best of all possible worlds; this the best time to live. Here is the duty, the challenge, the unique opportunity that we by our karma have made for ourselves.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Prabhavananda, Swami, The Spiritual Heritage of India, Vedanta Press, Hollywood, i969.
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, ed., The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. 1, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture, Calcutta, 1958.
Zimmer, Heinrich, Philosophies of India, ed. Joseph Campbell (Bollingen Series XXVI), Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1969.


On Nov. 7, 2008, Cesar Millan (THE DOG WHISPERER) appeared on Fox News to discuss his new BOOK,
“A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY,” with Alan Colmes and
Alan’s dog Bonnie, a 14-year-old camera-shy Beagle.

Dog Whisperer Profile: Cesar Milan

Profile of Cesar Milan


Pythia Peay- Author and writer on spirituality, psychology and the American psyche

Those who despair over the gap between their vision of a more environmentally sustainable, just and peaceful planet and the world as it is can find inspiration in Corinne McLaughlin’s call to become practical visionaries: Those activists, she says, who remain steady in their work over time by keeping their “eyes on the horizon, their feet on the ground, and their hearts on fire.”

McLaughlin, a spiritual and political activist who has taught politics at American University, is coauthor of “Spiritual Politics” with her husband Gordon Davidson (author of the forthcoming “Joyful Evolution”). They are as well founders of The Center for Visionary Leadership and The Sirius Community, and are fellows of The World Business Academy and The Findhorn Foundation.

The following is an edited version of my interview with McLaughlin on her recent book, “The Practical Visionary: A New World Guide to Spiritual Growth and Social Change”.

Pythia: I’d like to start with a simple question. What is your definition of a “visionary”?

Corinne: A visionary is someone who sees the future with both insight and foresight: Insight into the deeper causes and meaning of events in the world, and foresight, or an intuitive grasp of the big picture, such as the trajectory of politics and popular culture.

Pythia: You write in your book that you’ve seen many visionaries fail to manifest their inspiring visions. What do you find is the biggest obstacle most visionaries face?

Corinne: The problem I find with a lot of visionaries is that they’re too far ahead — perhaps their vision won’t happen for another hundred years. That’s why I like to help people focus on “next step” visions that are more doable.

Pythia: Why is being too far ahead of one’s own time a problem?

Corinne: Thinking that something that is far in the future can come sooner leads to unrealistic expectations, as well as rigid and dogmatic perspectives. It can also prevent visionaries from seeing what’s possible right in front of them. Our work is to translate what we might receive from a flash of insight into things that are useful today.

Take for example the recent uprising in Egypt. I could hold a positive vision of how this could all turn out, but I know it’s not going to be as simple as that. It’s one thing to get rid of a dictator. The harder part is to create a viable democracy that empowers people. But what I found inspiring in Egypt is how, during the revolution, the people organized their neighborhoods, created street clinics to help the wounded, and cleaned up after their demonstrations. These may seem like small things, but to me they are examples of practical, effective visionaries at work.

Pythia: You write that as a young woman in the sixties you were inspired by people in government and their dedication to public service — such as President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy — to enter government service yourself. You then went on to work at various Federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development; you’ve even taught meditation to some government agencies. How did these first-hand experiences shape your development as a practical visionary?

Corinne: I believe strongly that social change isn’t just about demonstrations in the street against the wrongs in society. There is also the path of the social innovator who creates new institutions and the path of the reformer who goes within an institution and makes incremental changes. Based on my own experience, I learned that implementing a vision in an institutional setting involves working with conflict resolution and a whole systems perspective. It’s important, for instance, to have a multi-stakeholder perspective — in other words, you can’t just go charging in with your own ideas, you have to appreciate people’s different perspectives, then work to find common ground and bring the various parties to the table in a respectful dialogue.

Because I frequently encountered obstacles such as old, entrenched ideas, ongoing power struggles, or the lack of staff and money, I also learned to develop patience and detachment. In federal, state and local governments, administrations, philosophies, and policy initiatives change. If your vision aligns with the values of the current administration you’re working with, you can make some progress — but that could all change in four or six years.

Pythia: Together with your husband, Gordon Davidson, you’ve also taught the path of “Ageless Wisdom” for many decades. What has this spiritual perspective brought to your calling as a practical visionary?

Corinne: What I’ve taken from my spiritual study is the wisdom of living a balanced life. My spiritual path has also helped me to be more emotionally centered, to be more understanding of those that disagree with me, and to learn how to let go of some of my power issues so that I can be more effective and bring a sense of humility to my work — while still having the self-confidence to be effective.

Pythia: You write about how easy it is for activists to burn out, and list different ways that they can stay “spiritually sane.” What contemplative practices do you teach activists that can help prevent disillusionment?

Corinne: Many activists just see what’s wrong: they want to stand up to injustice and educate people about it. But I think it’s equally important for activists to hold a more positive vision of what’s right with their country: what’s going well, and what they’d like to grow or see more of. I also like to encourage activists to take some time each day to sit silently or take a walk in nature as a way to be in touch with their inner wisdom and peace — and to remember why they are on this path in the first place.

Pythia: Many people have the desire to bring about a better world, but don’t have an outlet for their visions or ideas. You say one place they can start is with their job.

Corinne: It’s important to keep in mind that we never know how something as simple as passing along an idea or asking an important question might impact someone. A first step on the path of being a practical visionary, for example, might begin by having conversations with co-workers, or by simply creating a better atmosphere at work. It could be setting up a brown bag lunch and bringing in speakers. For some people bringing spirit into the workplace means doing good quality, honest work, or finding a way to give back to their local community; if you’re the boss, it could mean finding ways to support your employees; for others it’s about protecting the environment.

If you’re not within an institutional framework, there are other things that you can do: You can begin by giving more support to those around you, such as your own family. You can bring more of your ideas and visions into your neighborhood and community, such as inviting people into your living room for a monthly dialogue. I did something like this around an area called “transformational politics.” I’ve also organized neighborhood gatherings where we’ve examined how we can better support each other, such as watering each other’s gardens during vacations, exchanging childcare or by borrowing each other’s tools.

I also encourage people to go on the internet and expand their vision by pursuing new ideas and learning what other people around the world are doing. These days it’s so much easier to find a support group around any idea you could dream of — just Google it! Inner work also helps by identifying those old attitudes that keep us stuck in the belief that there’s nothing we can do.

Pythia: Underlying everything you describe is the fundamental idea of inter-connectivity — that we’re all linked.

Corinne: Yes, at heart this is the spiritual perspective that we’re one human family, and at our core we all want the same thing: a good family, a healthy neighborhood and society where we can have meaningful work and pursue our dreams, and where we can have a sense of security. The media is making this sense of interconnection very tangible — it’s not some abstract idea anymore.

Pythia: Indeed in your book you refer to “the world’s that’s to come,” or the “new world that is being born.” Can you say more about what you mean by that?

Corinne: To me the “new world” is the world of practical visionaries creating solutions to the problems we’re facing today, whether it’s poverty, violence, environmental pollution, regulating corporations or the way we treat criminals in our social justice system. But it also refers to a set of common values, or “new world values”: This includes compassion; a sense that we are all in this together; the search for common ground and mutually beneficial solutions; a sense of a whole system and how each issue is interconnected with all the others; and honoring the good of the whole and the greatest good for the greatest number. There’s a sense of the value of long-term sustainability and prevention, versus fixing a problem after it’s occurred, like the BP oil spill. Over the years, I’ve found that when we examined what worked in all three sectors — non-profit, federal government or business — it was these kinds of values that contributed to an effective outcome.

I also describe these values as part of a “new world” because there is a sense of mutual recognition and support among people from different fields who share this common set of underlying principles, and who are helping to create these new solutions.

Pythia: You also write that one of the places we can catch a glimpse of this new world is in reruns of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek.

Corinne: The spiritual principles (in Star Trek) aren’t dated at all! For example, because of plots involving interspecies communication, the show dealt very cleverly with problems of racism, and different cultural customs around marriage and mating. The crew had to draw on principles like cooperation in order to accomplish things; they solved problems between themselves by using a mix of courage, patience and tolerance. There were episodes based on spiritual themes like loyalty, the willingness to sacrifice and to give support to the next generation. The writers also raised issues around psychic phenomena, and how some of these powers could be misused. In fact, it would be great if someone could categorize the lessons so someone could go directly to one of the episodes!

Pythia: Going back in time, do you believe the Founding Fathers were practical visionaries?

Corinne: Yes: They had a vision for a better world, and their visions have withstood the test of time. Indeed, when you say “the new world,” people usually think of America — it was even regarded as the new world at that time. The Founders also faced incredible obstacles, and had to be very practical politicians as well as diplomats.

Pythia: Do you have a favorite Founding Father?

Corinne: I would say Thomas Jefferson, for his connection to the earth and the way he understood the importance of the agrarian aspects of society, his sense of democracy and the way he challenged the established order, and his visionary writings that still inspire us. James Madison was also brilliant in the way he sought common ground among the Founders.

Corinne McLaughlin & Gordon Davidson speak with the Dalai Lama about Politics

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson (Visionary Leadership Experts) speak with the Dalai Lama about Politics and Governance. This scene is taken from the DVD: “Dalai Lama Renaissance Vol. 2: A Revolution of Ideas,” which is the follow up to the Award-winning documentary film “Dalai Lama Renaissance” (narrated by Harrison Ford).

Dalai Lama: Inner Peace, Happiness, God and Money

The Dalai Lama (in an excerpt from the film “Dalai Lama Renaissance”) speaking about Inner Peace, Happiness, God and Money. http://www.DalaiLamaFilm.com. “Dalai Lama Renaissance” is produced and directed by Khashyar Darvich

Mountains Reflected in a dragonfly’s eye. — Issa (1762-1826)

This exquisite Haiku brought to mind the striking words of a Japanese sage that “the very mountains can become Buddha.” If mountains have a buddha-nature, then the host of lives that compose a mountain — boulders, waterfalls, trees, shrubbery, grasses, lichen, and the thousand and one creatures that aerate its soil — must each have a buddha-nature which, in the course of ages, could become Buddha. And the dragonfly? Surely its metamorphosis from larva to the lovely winged thing that swoops low across meadows and ponds is an epitome of being and becoming.

What is the impelling force behind the process of becoming? This is a large theme, and elicited from contributors to our 1995 Special Issue on “Evolution: Miracle of Being and Becoming” a number of articles bearing directly and indirectly on this absorbing topic, each open-ended so as to leave our readers free to weave the varying strands of thought into a harmonious whole by the light of their own intuitive wisdom. Abandoning an either-or approach, they have sought viewpoints which embrace neither the stance of creationists nor that of materialistic evolutionists. The questions are as challenging today as they were 150 or more years ago: Did man ascend gradually from the monkeys to the apes, with mind, spirit, and consciousness as by-products of a series of chance mutations? Or is each of us the handiwork of a Supreme Being, a Personal God who continues today as since the Garden of Eden to create a new soul for every human being born on earth, so that there is no evolutionary history behind each individual soul? Are there other alternatives?

Addressing the scientific view, the article reviewing The Hidden History of the Human Race should be read by the evolutionist only if he seek truth uncluttered by prejudice, while microbiologist Catherine Roberts challenges the California State Board of Education to “recognize the inseparable link that exists between biological considerations and spiritual questions of ultimate cause and purpose.” The theory of “an inherent evolutionary impulse” rings truer today than when Alfred Russel Wallace first proposed it in 1858; a few avant-garde scientists are searching out “the hidden face of consciousness as the motivator” behind all evolution and beginning to perceive our earth as a living, sentient being, whose rhythmic processes move in harmony with solar and galactic cycles.

Along religious lines, the story of Adam and Eve and the Serpent receives fresh and appealing interpretation; instead of blaming Eve, Adam, or the Serpent, the Garden of Eden episode becomes a triumph of self-awakening. Other traditions view this event in terms of higher beings than ourselves lighting the fires of mind in early humans, and depict human sexuality in an evolutionary context where the methods of reproducing our kind have varied from “ethereal nonsexual beings, to more material androgynous ones, to today’s sexual mankind,” with a probable return over millions of years to androgynous and nonsexual forms of human reproduction.

What keys are offered to elevate the human race, a part of our nature still animal-like, another part portraying traits and qualities of soul and spirit that might outshine the angels? “Know Thyself!” said the Oracle at Delphi. Did we have knowledge of ourselves, we would glimpse in broad strokes not only our beginnings when divine beings imparted to us the elements of harmonious and creative living, but also something of our wondrous future as co-workers with the gods. The times are demanding that we view ourselves and every portion of the cosmos from within out. Regardless of outer form, we and every entity, micro and macro, are essentially beings of light, “sparks of eternity,” imbodying on earth as part of an aeons-long journey of self-discovery.

All the articles in this issue, while delineating different approaches to the Evolution theme, have as their basic motif the ultimate attainment of full self-awareness and godhood. Consciousness — whether we call it life, divinity, mind-stuff, or whatever — is viewed as “the ground of all being,” composing a chain of “interrelated consciousness-centered beings,” which undergo the full range of possible evolutionary experiences before ultimately returning home “to unconditioned be-ness consciousness.” Underlying all is the “irresistible urge” within its heart that propels every entity to find its “spiritual identity with the divine Self of the universe.” As the dynamic cause of evolution, consciousness undergoes a “constant ebb and flow of various activities of life, cosmic to human,” with destruction and regeneration of form being vital to progress and the means of releasing our spirit-soul to higher realms. Of great import is our need for “role models with a unified vision, a worldview that allows us to . . . sense the fundamental inner unity of all life.”

In truth, could we perceive the full death-and-birth cycle of every atom in nature we would see enacted before our inner eye the awesome miracle of divinity infusing and suffusing every portion of the universe. All is in motion, urged ever forward and onward by an impelling force that keeps every being, from protozoon to human, seeking to better itself and its environment, as it strives toward humanhood on its way eventually to imbody in full awareness the light, power, and energy of godhood.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1995; copyright © 1995 Theosophical University Press)

Grace F. Knoche

Grace F. Knoche was born in 1909 at the theosophical headquarters, then at Point Loma, California, and attended the Raja-Yoga School and Academy founded by Katherine Tingley. She joined the TS in 1929 shortly before Mrs. Tingley left on her last tour to Europe. Under G. de Purucker as Leader, she worked at the headquarters as a compositor in the Press, in the Secretary General’s office, and on the Leader’s secretarial staff. She assisted Dr. de Purucker in revising the Encyclopedic Glossary, and was on the committees responsible for reorganizing his Esoteric School materials, later published as The Dialogues of G. de Purucker (1948) and Fountain-Source of Occultism (1974). She continued her studies at Theosophical University, receiving a Ph.D. in 1944. At various times from 1933 to 1946 she taught violin, Greek, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Bible translation, and Qabbalah at Theosophical University, and painting and sculpture at the Lomaland school.

During the Cabinet administration after Purucker’s death in 1942, Grace served as private secretary to the Chairman of the Cabinet, continuing as private secretary to the next two Leaders, Colonel Arthur Conger and James A. Long. She worked closely with James A. Long on his new magazine, Sunrise, begun in 1951.

On Mr. Long’s death in 1971, Grace assumed leadership of the TS and became editor of Sunrise. For almost 35 years she encouraged the membership to assume responsibility for directing the course of their lives along universal principles, stressing that the same compassionate life currents that build and shape the evolution of the cosmos also inform the patterns of everyday experience. Always a collaborator at heart, Grace worked to establish a spirit of cooperation among the various theosophical organizations. She died in Altadena, California, on February 18, 2006, at the age of 97.
Books by Grace F. Knoche published by Theosophical University Press:

The Mystery Schools (Full-text online)
To Light a Thousand Lamps (Full-text online)
Theosophy in the Qabbalah (Full-text online in PDF format)

Recent studies on the nature of human consciousness appear to move around the central question, What is a human being?, without actually entering the kernel of the subject. The ambiguous situation in which those of us who study the concept of consciousness find ourselves might be due to the poverty of our vocabulary to convey the subtle thinking necessary to probe into it. Our language is mostly of the pragmatic kind, honed for the needs of technology rather than refined for penetration into the mysteries of being.

It is quite evident that a typical human being is different from any other species on this planet, and the main difference is suggested by the capacity of any man or woman to be self-reflectively aware. Equally important is our capacity to project our thinking into time and space, in other words, abstract thought. Humans are also concerned with the how and why of the cosmos and themselves. Memory and a kind of forecasting or foresight are tied in with this faculty to take account of past, present, and future at the same moment as we sit at home or in the office, reflecting or visualizing dimensionally. We also enjoy humor on many levels.

These capacities come with the inherent ability we have to think — a process that involves not only assessment of impressions taken in through the five senses, but also abstraction or generalizing from individual cases. That is, we can perceive principles or natural laws under which beings and earth-happenings operate. Our speculations, which are really formless, are not the automatic follow-on of what our senses tell us, but originate in an aspect of ourselves demonstrably beyond the capacity of the brain cells themselves to organize. It is more logical to conceive of the brain as the instrument of this nonsubstantial side of our being, functioning more like the telephone switchboard of some large enterprise, than as the originator of the things that we think, do, or say that are characteristic of a human being.

What then is consciousness if it is other than mere awareness, whether of surroundings or even the experience of the oneness of nature that is called satori by the Zen roshis? It seems that we can best suggest a meaning if we refer to it as the essence of a living being, a pulsating creature of light and spirit. We can visualize that there are stages of unfoldment of potential qualities as they emanate from this essence, providing outer expression for inherent capacities, the whole process being the evolution of consciousness rather than of its forms produced one from another. Expanding this idea, we can picture that growth is really the flow of the tidal stream of beings throughout the universe and is not limited to this planet of ours.

There is no doubt that on earth there is but one vast life-energy, and not several rivals for the limited space provided. If the latter were indeed the case there would be indications of divergent sources or discordant drives between species, whereas we have evidence there is an interlocking relationship of all earth’s beings. Scientists have designated this harmonizing a biosphere or ecological system. What affects one concerns the whole, and the responsibility upon us is great because of our decision-making ability, our freedom of choice and will power.

Freedom of choice, will power, imagination, and decision making are not discernible faculties of substance as such, but belong in the formless region of the human being, his essence or consciousness. It is in the sense that we are all centers of consciousness that some systems of philosophy have pointed to our infinite possibilities. For if godhood can be symbolized as a circle whose circumference is nowhere — because it is infinite — but whose center is everywhere, then we are all repositories of that center.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2002; copyright © 2001 Theosophical University Press)

Exploring the Mysteries of Consciousness
By Sarah Belle Dougherty

Awareness is the basis of all our experience, yet it remains mysterious. Intuition, imagination, emotion, reason, mind, instinct, creativity — few of us can give a fully satisfying explanation of any of these, although we experience them daily. Within us, however, is an awareness that goes radically deeper than the thoughts and feelings we usually identify as “ourself.” As mystics throughout the ages have affirmed, the consciousness which forms the very core of our being is identical with that at the core of every other being and thing. It connects us with each and all because it is the root of their existence also.

Why do we generally fail to realize this? Ordinarily, we are overwhelmed by the intensity of our sense perceptions and by our mental interpretations of them. Modern culture especially makes mind and intellect the arbiters of reality, but they have not always enjoyed such high prestige. Hindu philosophy, for example, classifies mind as the “king of the senses,” holding that, when unilluminated by spirit, its habits and limitations condemn us to inhabit a largely deceptive self-made world, a realm of illusion (maya). Many of these misconceptions and self-imposed limitations are collective and widespread, because most human beings are limited in roughly the same ways. Our challenge is to awaken from this self-restricting dream world and, transcending it, to behold successively more comprehensive vistas of reality.

What, we may wonder, does current research contribute to our efforts and explorations along these lines? The vast majority in academic fields still describe consciousness as a byproduct of the biochemical and neurological complexity of the brain, continuing the materialistic approach of the 20th century. However, other scholars and professionals studying the subject experientially are amassing evidence that points to very different conclusions. Reviewing and synthesizing over forty years of such investigations, psychiatrist and transpersonal psychologist Stanislov Grof asserts in The Cosmic Game (1998) that

Modern consciousness research has generated important data that support the basic tenets of the perennial philosophy. It has revealed a grand purposeful design underlying all of creation and has shown that all of existence is permeated by superior intelligence. In light of these new discoveries, spirituality is affirmed as an important and legitimate endeavor in human life, since it reflects a critical dimension of the human psyche and of the universal scheme of things. — p. 3

The evidence from modern consciousness studies is thus “in radical conflict with the most fundamental assumptions of materialistic science concerning consciousness, human nature, and the nature of reality. They clearly indicate that consciousness is not a product of the brain, but a primary principle of existence, and that it plays a critical role in the creation of the phenomenal world” (ibid.). Consciousness here is fundamental — to us and to everything else, including the cosmos as a whole — in the same way that substance is. Together they form two primary aspects of an underlying reality beyond the ken of manifested being.

Perhaps Grof’s most crucial statement is that “in its farthest reaches, the psyche of each of us is essentially commensurate with all of existence and ultimately identical with the cosmic creative principle itself” (p. 3). Hologram-like, each being is a microcosm, a portion of the many which contains in potential the originating One. In a certain sense we may think of the universe bringing itself into being through an act of cosmic creative imagination. We, too, are the ideation of our deepest self, and at the same time we continuously evolve through the creative visualizations of our everyday self, for imaginative projection has the power to shape reality.

Grof’s statement also implies that everything in this “ensouled universe” can be experienced both subjectively and objectively, including “all the elements of the material world through the entire range of space-time” as well as “various aspects of other dimensions of reality, such as archetypal beings and mythological domains of the collective unconscious” (p. 16). Because our consciousness encompasses all, limitless in scope and quality, we can learn by direct conscious participation — by becoming. We need not always be confined to being a “subject” examining an “object.”

But does this type of experiential, subjective exploration — whether ancient or modern — qualify as “science”? Grof argues that it does:

Many of the great spiritual systems are products of centuries of in-depth exploration of the human psyche and consciousness that in many ways resemble scientific research.

These systems offer detailed instructions concerning the methods of inducing spiritual experiences on which they base their philosophical speculations. They have systematically collected data drawn from these experiences and subjected them to collective consensus validation, usually over a period of many centuries. These are exactly the stages necessary for achieving valid and reliable knowledge in every area of scientific endeavor . . . — p. 4

Such observations foreshadow a future synthesis of modern science with more traditional spiritual and psychological knowledge. Such a union would produce a fresh new philosophical understanding of human life and the universe, not a return to unvalidated religious dogmatism and scientific ignorance.

In our search to learn more about the mysteries of consciousness, each of us, as a conscious entity, has the power and the means, if we will, to fathom nature in all its aspects. In G. de Purucker’s words, we can discover for ourselves “that original Truth, from which all great religions and all great philosophies sprang in their origin,” and “then know that Truth is ageless and deathless, but yet takes up its abode in every earnest human heart, where it awaits recognition in order to pour its flood of light into the waiting mind.” The key to both knowledge and wisdom remains the same as ever: “know thyself” — our real self — because to do so in fullness is to know ALL.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)

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