The Blackball of the Black arts

Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘Friend, if you want to realize Me, you will not succeed if  you have even one of the eight occult powers.’

It is very troublesome to possess occult powers, the disastrous effects of which is illustrated through following parable

Once upon a time a sadhu acquired great occult powers. He was vain about them. But he was a good man and had some austerities to his credit. One day the Lord, disguised as a holy man, came to him and said, ‘Revered sir, I have heard that you have great occult powers.’ The sadhu received the Lord cordially and offered him a seat. Just then an elephant passed by. The Lord, in the disguise of the holy man, said to the sadhu, ‘Revered sir, can you kill this elephant if you like?’

The sadhu said, ‘Yes, it is possible.’ So saying, he took a pinch of dust, muttered some mantras over it, and threw it at the elephant. The beast struggled awhile in pain and then dropped dead. The Lord said: ‘What power you have! You have killed the elephant!’ The sadhu laughed. Again the Lord spoke: ‘Now can you revive the elephant?’ ‘That
too is possible’, replied the sadhu. He threw another pinch of charmed dust at the beast. The elephant writhed about a litle and came back to life.

Then the Lord said: ‘Wonderful is your power. But may I ask you one thing? You have killed the elephant and you have revived it. But what has that done for you? Do you feel uplifted by it? Has it enabled you to realize God?’ Saying this the Lord vanished. 

One cannot realize God if one has even the least
trace of desire.

By Arhan

Transcendental Consciousness

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Do whatsoever you are doing, but remain a witness to it, and immediately the quality of your doing is transformed.
 

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One morning, Weintraub went to a restaurant and ordered bacon with his eggs. He was an orthodox Jew and his wife kept a strictly kosher home, but Weintraub felt the need just this once. As Weintraub was about to leave the restaurant, he stopped in the door frozen with terror. The sky was filled with black clouds, there was lightning, and the ground shook with the rumble of thunder.
“Can you imagine!” he exclaimed. “All that fuss over a little piece of bacon!”

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Let me emphasize the fact. You can do your prayer every day unconsciously; then your prayer is a sin. You can become addicted to your prayer. If you miss the prayer one day, the whole day you will feel something is wrong, something is missing, some gap. Your prayer has become a mechanical habit; it has become a master over you. It bosses you; you are just a servant, a slave to it. If you don’t do it, it forces you to do it.

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You may be doing your Transcendental Meditation every day regularly, and it may be just the same. If the quality of unconsciousness is there, if mechanicalness is there, if it has become a fixed routine, if it has become a habit and you are a victim of the habit and you cannot put it aside, you are no more a master of yourself, then it is a sin. But its being a sin comes out of your unconsciousness, not out of the act itself. No act is virtuous, no act is a sin. What consciousness is behind the act — everything depends on that.

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By Arhan

Be and then make

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Once there lived among the green hills a hermit. He was pure of spirit and white of heart. And all the animals of the land and all the fowls of the air came to him in pairs and he spoke unto them. They heard him gladly, and they would gather near unto him, and would not go until nightfall, when he would send them away, entrusting them to the wind and the woods with his blessing.
 
Upon an evening as he was speaking of love, a leopard raised her head and said to the hermit, “You speak to us of loving. Tell us, Sir, where is your mate?”
And the hermit said, “I have no mate.”

Then a great cry of surprise rose from the company of beasts and fowls, and they began to say among themselves, “How can he tell us of loving and mating when he himself knows naught thereof?”

And quietly and in distain they left him alone.
That night the hermit lay upon his mat with his face earthward, and he wept bitterly and beat his hands upon his breast.

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We must become the change we want to see.

By Arhan

Wholeness is Ecclesiastical

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In the valley where the mighty river flows, two little streams met and spoke to one another.

One stream said, “How came you, my friend, and how was your path?”
And the other answered, “My path was most encumbered. The wheel of the mill was broken, and the master farmer who used to conduct me from my channel to his plants, is dead. I struggled down oozing with the filth of laziness in the sun. But how was your path, my brother?”

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And the other stream answered and said, “Mine was a different path. I came down the hills among fragrant flowers and shy willows; men and women drank of me with silvery cups, and little children paddled their rosy feet at my edges, and there was laughter all about me, and there were sweet songs. What a pity that your path was not so happy.”

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At that moment the river spoke with a loud voice and said, “Come in, come in, we are going to the sea. Come in, come in, speak no more.Be with me now. We are going to the sea. Come in, come in, for in me you shall forget you wanderings, sad or gay. Come in, come in.

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And you and I will forget all our ways when we reach the heart of our divine mother the sea.”

By Arhan

Morality breeds hypocrisy

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Morality is concerned with ideals – how you should be, what you should be. Therefore, morality is basically condemning. You are never the ideal so you are condemned. Every morality is guilt creating. You can never become the ideal; you are always lagging behind. The gap will always be there because the ideal is the impossible, and through morality it becomes more impossible. The ideal is there in the future, and you are here as you are, and you go on comparing. You are never the perfect man; something is always lacking. Then you feel guilt; you feel a self-condemnation.

self-condemnation can never transform you. Condemnation can only create hypocrisy. Then you try to pretend, to show, that you are what you are not. Hypocrisy means you are the real man, not the ideal man, but you pretend, you try to show, that you are the ideal man. Then you have a split within you; you have a false face. The unreal man is born, and tantra is basically a search for the real man, not for the unreal man.
 

Of necessity, every morality creates hypocrisy. It will do so inevitably. Hypocrisy will remain with morality. It is part of it – the shadow. This will look paradoxical because moralists are the men who condemn hypocrisy the most, and they are the creators of it. And hypocrisy  cannot disappear from the earth unless morality disappears. They both will exist together; they are two aspects of the same coin. Morality gives you the ideal and you are not the ideal; that is why the ideal is given to you. Then you start feeling that you are wrong, and that this wrongness is natural. It is given to you. You are born with it, and you cannot immediately do anything about it. You cannot transform it; it is not so easy. You can only suppress it; that is easy.

But there are two things you can do. You can create a false face; you can pretend to be something you are not. That saves you. Then you can move more easily in the society – more conveniently. And inwardly you have to suppress the real because the unreal can be imposed only if the real is suppressed. So your reality goes on moving downward into the unconscious and your unreality becomes your conscious. Your unreal part becomes more dominant and the real recedes back. You are divided, and the more you try to pretend, the greater will be the gap.

By Arhan

Awareness is the key for Enlightenment

A young man, who had a bitter disappointment in life, went to a remote monastery and said to the Master, ”I am disillusioned with life and wish to attain enlightenment to be freed from these sufferings. But I have no capacity for sticking long at anything. I could never do long years of meditation and study and austerity. I would relapse and be drawn back to the world again, painful though I know it to be. Is there any short way for people like me?”

”There is,” said the Master, ”if you are really determined. Tell me, what have you studied? What have you concentrated on most in your life?”

”Why, nothing really. We were rich and I did not have to work. I suppose the thing I was really interested in was chess; I spent most of my time at that.”

The Master thought for a moment and then said to his attendant, ”Call such-and-such a monk, and tell him to bring a chess board and men.”

But the attendant said, ”Sir, that monk does not know how to play chess.”

The Master said, ”Don’t be worried. You simply call him.”

The monk came with the board and the Master set up the men. He sent for a sword and showed it to the two. ”Oh monk,” he said, ”you have vowed obedience to me as your Master, and now I require it of you. You will play a game of chess with this youth, and if you lose I shall cut off your head with this sword.”

And the man does not know much about chess. Maybe he can recognize the chessboard, or maybe he has played once or twice when he was young. But to put this man against this young, rich man, who has never done anything but play chess, is simply a death warrant. And then the Master says, ”You have surrendered to me, and you have told me I can do anything I want with your life or with your death. Now the moment has come. If you lose I shall cut off your head with this sword.”

And a naked sword is there in the hands of the Master, and he is standing just close by. ”But I promise that if you die by my hand, you will be born in paradise. If you win, I shall cut off the head of this man. Chess is the only thing he has ever tried hard at, and if he loses he deserves to lose his head also.” They looked at the Master’s face and saw that he meant it: he would cut off the head of the loser.

They began to play. With the opening moves the youth felt the sweat trickling down to his heels as he played for his life. The chessboard became the whole world; he was entirely concentrated on it. At first he had somewhat the worst of it, but then the other made an inferior move and he seized his chance to launch a strong attack. As his opponent’s position crumbled, he looked covertly at him. He saw a face of intelligence and sincerity, worn with years of austerity and effort.

The other was a beggar – a BHIKKHU – his eyes were silent and calm. He was not disturbed even by the idea of death. He was playing because of the Master’s request, and he had surrendered himself so there was no problem in it. Even if paradise were not promised, then too, he would have to follow. He was playing calm and quiet. His eyes were very silent and very intelligent – and the young man is winning! and the monk’s moves are going all wrong! The young man looked at the monk – the grace, the austerity, the beauty, the silence, the intelligence.

He thought of his own worthless life, and a wave of compassion came over him. He decided: ”To let this man die is unnecessary. If I die, nothing is lost to the earth. I am a stupid man, I have wasted my life, I have nothing. This man has worked hard, disciplined his life, has lived a life of austerity, a life of meditation and prayer. If he is killed that will be a loss.” Great compassion arose in him. He deliberately made a blunder and then another blunder, ruining his position and leaving himself defenseless.

The Master suddenly leant forward and upset the board. The two contestants sat stupefied. ”There is no winner and no loser,” said the Master slowly. ”There is no need to fall here. Only two things are required, ” and he turned to the young man, ”complete concentration and compassion. You have today learned them both. You were completely concentrated on the game, but then in that concentration you could feel compassion and sacrifice your life for it. Now, stay here a few months and pursue our training in this spirit and your enlightenment is sure. He did so and got it.

By Arhan

Ultimate success brings ultimate failure

All the religions born in india have accepted the story of Mount Sumeru.  The purpose is that only chakravartins – and a chakravartin is an emperor who has conquered the whole world – are allowed to sign their names on Mount Sumeru when they enter into paradise.

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One great emperor died with a great desire, because there is nothing greater than signing your signature on Mount Sumeru. It was the tradition of those times that the wife of a man who died would commit sati, and the kings used to have many wives, not just one.

When this emperor reached the gates of heaven with his hundreds of wives who had died with him on the funeral pyre, the gatekeeper said to him, ”You take these instruments and sign on Sumeru, but don’t take anybody else with you.”

The emperor said, ”These are all my wives, and what is the point of signing on Sumeru if there is nobody even as a witness? I want all my wives to be with me to see it.”

The gatekeeper laughed and he said, ”I have been here … for generations we have been the gatekeepers. Before me, my father and before him, his father … as long as existence, our family has been on this gate. And everyone on this gate has given the same advice that I’m giving to you. You will be thankful for it. If you insist, I will allow – but then don’t be offended.”

The emperor could not understand, but perhaps the gatekeeper knows more about things … He went alone and was simply amazed at the gatekeeper’s compassion. Because he could not find a small place anywhere on Mount Sumeru to make his signature. All over there were signatures and signatures and signatures.

The meaning is clear: ”You are not the only one. Millions of emperors have passed before you.” He said to the gatekeeper, who was with him, ”This is very humiliating. I used to think I would be the only emperor who is going to sign. And this whole mountain, miles and miles … there is no space for a signature!”

The gatekeeper said, ”Do one thing – another advice that we have been giving since my ancestors. Here is the instrument. Remove somebody’s name and put your name. And this is not new; this has been happening for centuries as far as I know, my father knew, my father’s father knew. You have to remove somebody’s name and create space for your signature.”

The emperor said, ”But that takes all the joy out of it. Somebody will come and remove my name.”

The gatekeeper said, ”That, of course, is going to happen. It is up to you.”

This is the failure of success.

By Arhan

Blessed he who constantly thinks of the Lord

Jaya and Vijaya, the guards at Vishnu’s abode, were vain and rude and were cursed to be born thrice in the world of mortals. The contrite guards were subsequently permitted one concession : they would be killed in each of their separate births by one of the incarnations of Vishnu. Thus, first they were born as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, next as Ravana and Kumbhakarna and last as Shishupala and Dantavaktra.

While the first two pairs were leading characters in their times, Shishupala remains a minor character in the Mahabharata and Dantavaktra, almost a nonentity.

Shishupala for all his show of valour remains a man of straw. In fact his only distinction was that he died at the hands of Krishna. He is also remembered as the jilted suitor of Rukmini.

Shishupala was son of Damaghosha, king of Chedi, by Srutadeva, sister of Vasudeva. Vasudeva was the father of Sri Krishna. Shishupala was born with three eyes and four arms. When he was born a heavenly voice proclaimed that his extra eye and arms will leave him when someone seats him on their lap and that person would also be responsible for Shishupala’s end.

Once when Krishna visited his aunt Satyavathi, Shishupala was an infant. Satyavathi told Krishna that Shishupala was handsome just like Krishna. Krishna took the baby from the cradle and sat down with the baby on his lap. At that moment the extra eye and arms left the body of Shishupala. Krishna was surprised. Sathyavathi told him about the heavenly voice which had said that Shishupala would die one day in the hands of the person who held him in his lap. She made Krishna promise that he would pardon Shishupala hundred times before he kills him and Krishna agress.
Yudhishtra the eldest brother of the Pandavas had organised a Rajasuya yagna in their capital city of Indraprastha. After the rituals were over Yudhishtra called Krishna to partake the offerings made for the yagna. He told Krishna “As per Bhishma’s advice I wish to give you these offerings as a mark of respect.” Shishupala, the king of Chedi was witnessing this and seethed with anger. He got up from his seat and voice his displeasure at Krishna, a mere cowherd being honored first. He went on calling Krishna names and engaged in a verbal duel.

With his sword drawn, he charged towards Krishna, sitting undaunted by the disruption created by his cousin. Krishna was keeping count of his sinful words and finally when the limit of endurance had been surpassed, the discus went flying and sliced the neck to dislodge Shishupala’s head. The miracle that occurred after his death, left the onlookers flabbergasted. A bright radiance emanated from the lifeless body and entered into Krishna. Emancipation of a wicked person like Shishupala doubly convinces us the merciful attitude of the Lord.

The Lord blesses those who constantly think of him even if it be out of enmity like Shishupala or Kamsa.

By Arhan

The Spirit of Karma Yoga

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We should act not because the actions will produce such and such result or avoid the
activity because we think the results produced may not be of our interest. Actions should proceed
from the sense of duty. One has to do his duty no matter what the consequences are.

The structure of all messages in Gita is deep and subtle. In the first part of this verse, Lord Krishna
suggests that our duty be but to act, never to be concerned with the results. In the second part,
Lord Krishna identifies the consequences if we pre evaluate the results of our actions. If we start
our action with prior expectations, then results of our actions can bring either disappointments or
over confidence. Those who do not wish to face disappointments will be afraid to act and those who
are successful will be arrogant! They both lead to a dead-end straight with eventual failures!
Gita asks us to evaluate the consequences of the two feasible mental framework. If we develop the
mental framework to conduct our duties without looking for the fruits of our action, we can accept
success or failure. Actions with such a mental framework are self-propelled without incentives.
Instead, if we specify the results before the action, we divert our attention more to the result and
less to the action. When our expectations are low, we don’t pay full attention to our duty. If our
expectations are high, we face disappointments when the results fall short of our expectations.
The subtle message of “Karma Yoga” is deep and there are several other explanations:
First, time is not a parameter in spirituality and consequently action is continuous and it never
ends. Results imply an end of an action and consequently results are ruled out. That is why the
scriptures gave so much importance to the duties which have no beginning or end!
Second, all entities of the universe are interactive and consequently neither the action nor the
results of the action can be separated. Even within an intellectual framework, the results of any
action is “uncertain” due to the presence of many actors. For example, the stock broker will tell the
buyer of stocks that there is no guarantee for getting back the money invested! The future price of
the stock market is decided not by a single buyer or seller but by the collective decision of all the
buyers and sellers in the market.

Third, let me present this quotation from Gandhiji describing the Gita Ideal:
“I am a devotee of the Gita and a firm believer in the inexorable law of karma. Even the least little
tripping or stumbling is not without its cause and I have wondered why one who has tried to follow
the Gita in thought, word and deed should have any ailment. The doctors have assured me that this
trouble of high blood- pressure is entirely the result of mental strain and worry. If that is true, it is
likely that I have been unnecessarily worrying myself, unnecessarily fretting and secretly harboring
passions like anger, lust, etc. The fact that any event or incident should disturb my serious efforts,
means not that the Gita Ideal is defective but that my devotion to its defective. The Gita Ideal is
true for all time, my understanding of it and observance of it is full of flaws.”
Harijan, 29 February 1936. (“What is Hinduism?” Mahatma Gandhi, National Book Trust of
India, page, 95).

Finally, the Vedantic notion of becoming Brahman implies that the actions become spontaneous. A
spontaneous action has no cause or effect. A good example for a spontaneous action is the
blooming of flowers. The flower plant blooms whether we appreciate or criticize. Such actions
essentially become inaction and generate total peace and tranquility. Are we capable for such
spontaneous actions? The answer is yes! If a child falls accidentally in a swimming pool then
someone jumps immediately to save the child. At times, people who do not swim will also jump
onto the pool to save the child. This is human instinct (spontaneous human dharma) or temporary
realization of the True Human Nature. Becoming Brahman is the permanent realization of the True
Human Nature. When we start conducting all our actions spontaneously with the yagna spirit, we
just do the action without looking for alternatives!

Gita Verse
karmaNi eva adhikaaraste maa phaleshu gadaachana
maa karma phala hetuH bhuH maa sanghaH astu akarmaNi

We only have the “right” to conduct the action and certainly we have no control over the results of
our action. We should avoid using the “results” as the motivating force of our action. We should
free from our attachment to inaction. The message will become crisp and clear if we understand its
full meaning carefully.

We are part of the nature and we need to understand our ‘rights’ and our ‘limitations.’ We only
have the skill and power to conduct our action. Our skill can help us to set up the goals and we
should use the full energy to accomplish the goals. But we have no control over the outcome of our
actions because we are not the only participants. Consequently the results are more likely different
from our expectations. The results can be more, equal, less or even opposite to our expectations. To
avoid misery at the end, we should willingly accept the outcome as nature’s gift (prasad).
Overconfidence due to success and disappointment of failures will cultivate the habit of
attachments to inaction.

By Arhan

SIGNIFICANCE OF NAVARATHRI

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Nava-ratri literally means “nine nights.” This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter.

During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as “Durga,” which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as “Devi” (goddess) or “Shakti” (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.

Along with the nine forms of Durga, obeisance is paid to the Trinity of goddesses as well.

1st — 3rd days: The first three days are dedicated solely to the worship of the goddess Durga. During this period, her energy and power are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a different manifestation of Durga. On the first day, Kumari is worshipped, which signifies the girl child. The second day is dedicated to Parvati, who is the embodiment of a young woman. On the third day, Kali is worshipped. This form represents the woman who has reached maturity.

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On the first day of Navratri, barley seeds are planted in a small bed of mud. This mud bed is kept in the pooja room. By the tenth day, each seed has sprouted into a shoot which is between three and five inches long. After the pooja performed on the tenth day, the shoots are plucked and given to the attendees. They are said to be a blessing from God.

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4th — 6th days: These three days are devoted to the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and peace. Although these days are dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess Saraswati is invoked on the fifth day. This day is referred to as Lalita Panchami. On this day, all the books and other literature are gathered in one place. Then, a ‘diya’ or lamp is lit in front of them to call upon the goddess Saraswati.

7th — 8th days: The seventh day is dedicated to worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of art and knowledge. Prayers are offered to her, seeking spiritual knowledge. The knowledge of the spiritual world is said to free us from our earthly bonds. This, in turn, will bring us closer to God.

On the eight day, a ‘yagna’ is performed. This comprises of a sacrifice, which is offered to the sacred fire. The sacrifice honours the goddess Durga as well as bids her farewell. The sacrifice or offering is made out of clarified butter (ghee), rice pudding (kheer), and sesame seeds.

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9th day: The ninth day is the culmination of the entire Navratri celebrations. This day is referred to as ‘Mahanavami’. On this day, a Kanya pooja is performed. Nine young girls, who have not yet attained puberty are worshipped during this pooja. Each one of them symbolises one of the nine forms of goddess Durga. Each girls feet are washed, as a mark of respect for the goddess. At the end of the pooja, each girl is given a set of new clothes as a gift from the devotees.

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By Arhan