End of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series

Hamburger Heaven

Culturally, Hindus don’t eat cows.  A Hindu man living in America once told my father he eats cows when he’s over here because, “In this country you have a different breed.”  But in India, he didn’t eat them.

(4 Yogas Main) This ends the TiltedCandle series on Hinduism’s 4 Yogas. Boiled down to the basic drivers that make the 4 Yogas go, we have: wp.me/p2ukOd-5W

  • To identify with the soul and not the body.
  • To love God.
  • Selflessness by priority: to become selfless in devotion to the common good.
  • Selflessness by wisdom: to know the mind of God so well one’s Self is simply not important.

You can see each driver is essentially the same pattern, adapted to different functions of the soul: using deep understanding, or love, or the tendency to take action, or mental focus. Therefore you can put yourself through the same pattern with your mind, your heart, your will, or your identity.

A monk who meditates for a living and a worshipper who participates in ecstatic dance are not really doing different things.  They are using different parts of their humanity to do the same thing.

The pattern of Christianity, to love the world, is not fundamentally different from the Bhakti notion of loving God. In fact, when Christ was asked what the most important commandment was, he said, “To love God. The second most important, which is like the first, is to love your fellow man.”

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Bhakti Yoga — The Way of Love (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

Krishna and Putana - ISKCON desire tree

Krishna and Putana – Hare Krishna (ISKCON) painting

Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Love, is for the passionate type of person (4 Yogas Main).

The process is:

  1. Adopt God as an object of obsessive love.
  2. Connect to God using every form of love:  parent-child, friend, lover.
  3. Adopt a specific manifestation of God — in Hinduism, a particular diety — as your primary image and symbol of God. Make all others secondary.

The Hare Krishnas are the most well-known for Bhakti Yoga.  Their group worship consists of singing and dancing.  The musician sings a round of the chant, which is in Sanskrit (the sacred language of India — think of Latin in Europe), and the congregation repeats it.

Typically this begins with the congregation half-singing, half mumbling the chant — just like Christians singing hymns in church — but they get more and more into it, more and more worked up, like teenagers at a pep rally.

Individual worship may consist of chanting, reading the Bhagavad-Gita, saying rosaries, or so forth.

The purpose of all this is to get the person worked up and emotionally involved with the diety.  The Hare Krishnas have the goal of so fixating on their desire to be with God that they are totally focused on this at the time of their death.  The name of this mental state is “Krishna consciousness” and the effect is to ensure that they go to Krishna in the after-life.

Hindus often regard Christianity as a kind of Bhakti yoga.  Christ said that the most important commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your being.  He also said that the second commandment, which is like the first, is to love humanity in the same way. More

Jnana Yoga — The Way of the Mystic (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)

Carl-Jung-mod

Carl Jung as a young man. Carl Jung would be the exemplary Jnana yogi of modern times.

Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge, the way of the mystic (4 Yogas Main). It is the yoga best suited to the reflective type of person.

The process of Jnana yoga is:

1. Research the theory of the soul.
2. Realize its truth by metaphor.
3. Identify with the soul, not the body. Be the witness — observe your Self as if from an impartial observer.

The theory of the soul.  In modern terms, one may benefit from learning dream interpretation and studying  Gestalt therapy.  Properly ‘psyche’ means ‘soul,’ and psychology therefore means the study of the soul.  Modern psychology that is framed in the terminology of hard science, considering consciousness to be an effect of chemical reactions in the brain, is less useful for these purposes.

Therefore you might read Carl Jung or study dream interpretation.  Dream interpretation is particularly useful here because it is the study of metaphor.

Carl Jung is a master of understanding dreams as parables, and sees them in the same light as myths.  They are part of the uncanny working of the human mind.

Why metaphor?  Metaphor is a kind of reverse dream interpretation.  Here you are using the same symbolic meaning encoding process to realize a teaching with your dreaming mind.

Identify with the soul.  The soul is that which radically survives death.   Hindus believe that the bodily spirit in some part and to some degree survives death, to become reincarnated as a new person.  But it is the nature of the bodily spirit to become embodied, and that comes along with inherent problems.  Things for embodied people don’t work out, or when they do work out it is by its nature temporary. More

The 5 Faculties and the 5 Strengths (part of the 7 Sets series!)

English: Vietnamese devotional statue of the h...

Vietnamese devotional statue of the historical Buddha

The 5 Faculties and the 5 Strengths are the same 5 items. (7 Sets index) Really this is one set. The difference is only whether you have attained the virtues.

Some translations have Faculties and Strengths, while others have 5 Roads to Power and 5 Pillars of Strength. It’s a road to power when you’re on it and a pillar of strength when you have attained it.

Or you could say it’s a road to power when you’re cultivating it and a pillar of strength when you’re using it. Since using these virtues and attaining them are inimately linked, there is probably a good reason the Buddha linked them the way he did.

The 5 Pillars of Strength, the 5 Roads to Power, are:

1. Conviction
2. Persistence
3. Mindfulness
4. Concentration
5. Insight

Sometimes #5 is translated “discernment.”

Insight, #5, is the most useful and important. Making this point seems to be the Buddha’s primary purpose in mentioning this set.

The reason insight is the best of these is that it naturally leads to cultivation of the other 4.

The 4 Right Exertions (part of the TiltedCandle series on the 7 Sets!)

The 4 Right Exertions are the moral actions of the psyche to lead one to attainment. (7 sets main

This painting depicts Devadatta on one of his ...

) You can use the term “wrong” here. It means evil, bad, or simply unskillful — they are interchangeable in terms of leading you toward or away from enlightenment, which are the only terms relevant.

Endeavor, arouse persistence, uphold and exert one’s intent for the sake of:

1. The non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not arisen.
2. The abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.
3. The arising of good, skillful qualities that have arisen.
4. The maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude and culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. More

What is “Faith” Really? — A Commonly Misunderstood Word

“Faith” is sometimes understood as belief in a doctrine, sometimes as confidence a religious narrative or spiritual point of view. wp.me/p2ukOd-2s

A man praying at a Japanese Shintō shrine.

A man praying at a Japanese Shintō shrine.

Those understandings of “faith” are OK.  But I want to say they’re OK as far as they go.  Consider why faith is essential in the battle against evil.

I do not personally believe that strong faith is essential to ensure one’s own salvation.  There is no punishment that arises from lack of faith.

Faith is incredibly powerful in the confrontation with evil and in delivering one from suffering.  Deep faith causes one to be immune and impervious to ills and afflictions of all kinds. More

Adoration, a love song to God

'Adoration of the Magi' - Murthly Hours

Adoration is a love song to God, writ and sung by Erin Zintdle of the Ragbirds.  A beautiful song.

From the lyrics:

I want to come to your house God
And climb inside your window…

It is the immediacy of God, the felt sense of God as a person, that is so touching here.  It seems I’m not the only person who finds this song touching.  It got into one blogger‘s head, and she posted a list of things she wanted to do with God.  Among them was, “eat macaroni…”

The song is off the album “Yes Nearby.”  The band bio explains:

Zindle and Moore began their relationship busking on the streets of Ann Arbor with Celtic and gypsy fiddling over tricky beats of tambourine, Middle-Eastern doumbek and tabla. In 2005 the duo gathered three band mates and began to record Erin’s original songs. This recording was released a few months later as The Ragbirds debut album “Yes Nearby”.

The Ragbirds

The Ragbirds (Photo credit: GarnetJ)

…which regretfully says little enough about the thoughts and life experience that lead up to the song.

Listen free online.  There’s not an mp3 you can download for free, but you can listen for free.

God’s Love Is Unconditional

 

God’s love for humanity is unconditional.  We’re his children.  He does not love me more than you.  He does not love Jesus more than Hitler, does not love you less than Jesus or the Buddha.  God is well pleased with Jesus, and doubtless he is displeased with Hitler.  This is because of how they related to God’s other children.

In cultivating unconditional love for humanity, I am seeking to make myself more Godlike.  I did not understand that until I was well on my way.  I just decided it was what I wanted to do, not for religious reasons.  In fact, I was an atheist at the time.

I don’t think much of sympathy.  I live in a sleeping bag under a tarp.  I break into out of the way places when it rains sometimes. Sometimes when I beg for money people see me and flinch and look away, because seeing a beggar makes them feel pain.  I myself do not hurt. I don’t feel pain at begging for money and it doesn’t harm me.  I kind of want to tell them I’m doing fine and there’s no reason for them to hurt, but it’s a long conversation.

I talked to a Christian woman once who felt pain at the thought of the damned.  She cried while she talked to me.  I told her the same thing I’d like to tell those people who flinch when they see me and look away:

Sympathy is an inherently evil emotion.  Get rid of it.  Cultivate compassion instead.  It’s much better, much stronger stuff.

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