Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

This is one of the most popular and powerful of all of the Vedic mantras.  It calls upon Lord Shiva, "the Three-eyed God," to grant protection, abundance, and enlightenment to the devotee.  I have put together a short video to help facilitate the chanting of this great mantra.



OM tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhim puṣṭivardhanam

Urvārukamiva bandhanān-mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt


"We invoke and do homage to the three-eyed Lord [Shiva], creator and protector of the three worlds, whose immanent fragrance of energy and bliss enhances the life and joy of existence all three times. O Rudra, destroyer of evil and suffering, giver of bliss, Release me from the bonds of mortality like the ripe melon falling off the stalk and redeem me into the infinite presence of Immortality."

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ahimsa for All the Cecil-the-Lions of the World

The Cecil the Lion issue happening in the news has had a predictably polarizing effect.  Here's what this swami thinks.  Below I quote a Facebook friend who prompted me to address the issue:

I don't understand the desire to kill an animal for sport. It's not an accomplishment; you've got a gun.



My response:

I understand it. I disapprove, but I understand. As a kid with a bb gun, a logical leap (even if based on poor logic) of testing my skills was shooting birds. The first time I ever shot a bird, it was a robin. When I had hit it, I ran up to it and picked it up. Seeing and feeling this other creature die in my hands because of me, my stomach sank and I knew everything about it was wrong. But I also had this conflicting sense of urgency to hone hunting and survival skills; for what reason I don't know. And it was more challenging and interesting to run around shooting birds than soda cans or whatever else. So a few days later, I had rationalized the activity and was back at it. Once you rationalize it and have done it a couple times, you get desensitized and can ignore your conscience pretty easily. Eventually, if you keep it up, you'll find yourself in a situation that where you're confronted with your conscience again. I imagine some people just carry on suppressing it and becoming increasingly numb. For me, it was when I inadvertently killed 3 baby birds. I stopped shooting birds after that. Then, after I was grown, I was visiting a friend who owned a farm/orchard, and he pointed out how the birds are destructive to his crops. At the time, I carried a handgun for self defense. So I suddenly had a way to rationalize killing things that wasn't at odds with my worldview at the time, and we went on an innocent bird killing spree. In retrospect, that was super fucked up, but that's what I did.


Presently, based on insights and convictions obtained through meditative practices, I am strongly opposed to killing any creature except in legitimate cases of self defense. Also, in learning more about the state of the world in an environmental sense, and the effects of our hubris as a species on that, it became clear to me that there are SO MANY pragmatic reasons not to even kill animals for food; especially the way that we, as a culture, do in the West (i.e. factory farms). This idea that our advanced state of evolution entitles us to behave this way is a logical fallacy. As I pointed out on another thread recently, karma will fuck you back. I like that, so I think I'll keep using it. Anyway, these attitudes and values will quickly annihilate our species if we insist on clinging to them.

To me, it seems to be a combination of a certain degree of numbness to one's inner/spiritual reality and a very particular variety of mental retardation that makes this an option for people. So, yes, I do think you're unevolved and stupid if you eat factory farmed meat, more so if you spout rhetoric defending that position, because there isn't a legitimate argument for it. I think subsistence hunting is wrong morally, but that's more of a belief than something I can prove empirically, so I won't name call if that's how a person rolls. I will hope that they somehow are opened up to greater levels of compassion though. And having said all that, I think it's worth softening the blow of claiming that the majority of people are literally suffering from a form of retardation by re-stating the fact that I exhibited the exact same variety of retardation until exactly the moment that I decided not to. In this case at least, it's a choice. The only important distinction between any of us is the compassion in our lives, and how that informs our choices. Info helps, but only inasmuch as it feeds our sense of compassion. And the good thing here is, since it all comes down to choices (of which there ARE definite right and wrong options), making the right choice offers the very real possibility of profound transformation and redemption.

An act of courage

If you eat meat, I don't think I'm better than you, but I KNOW I am making better choices than you. I know that your poor choice is negatively impacting you and me both, and I hope that you will come around.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Authoritative Guru Gita Book Release

I am very pleased to announce that The Authoritative Guru Gita of H.H. Mahamandaleshwar Paramahamsa Swarupananda Vishwa Guru Maharaj is now available for purchase HERE!


Sanatana Dharma (AKA Hinduism) is founded upon the Guru-disciple relationship. The Guru Gita is the most comprehensive work on the subject. While there are many versions of the Guru Gita, this effort contains an original translation of the complete version, which consists of 352 couplets (called shloka-s). Additionally, this book, The Authoritative Guru Gita, includes a commentary that is notable for a few different reasons. First, it provides insight into the philosophies and traditions that the author (or authors) of The Guru Gita draw from: namely, Kashmir Shaivism, Shri Vidya, and, possibly, some form of Vaishnavism. All of these fall under the broader umbrella of Tantra in this case. The commentary found here is also practical in nature. It is intended to serve as an aid in the practice of the yoga associated with the Guru Path. Incidentally, The Authoritative Guru Gita also includes the full 352-shloka Guru Gita in its original Sanskrit (in Roman script rather than Devanagari) in order to facilitate the chanting of The Guru Gita, which is one of its purposes. Finally, the above-mentioned commentary is noteworthy in that it was composed at the request and under the close supervision of Mahamandaleshwar Swarupananda, one of Hinduism's eighty Mahamandaleshwars. By definition, a Mahamandaleshwar is a theological authority, the weight of whose stance is second only to four Shankaracharyas. Thus, this truly is the authoritative position on The Guru Gita.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chanting of the Ganapati Atharvashirsha

I chanted the Ganapati Atharvashirsha and set it to photos I took of the various murthis of Lord Ganesha at the ashram of my Guru, Mahamandaleshwar Swarupananda. 

The Ganapati Atharvashirsha is a late Upanishad.  It contains the distilled wisdom of non-dual Advaita philosophy.  Here that supreme, all-pervading Principle, who is also the Guru, and who also is the Self, is honored in the form of Lord Ganesha.

Eventually, I will post a video blog offering a simple translation and some commentary.  For now, please enjoy the chant and the darshan of my Guruji, his Guruji, and Lord Ganesha.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Swami Anantananda Giri @ 2014 Olympia Sync Summit


Here is the video of my presentation for the 2014 Olympia Sync Summit. Much thanks to Alan Green, Sync Book Press, and everybody associated with the event for all their hard work making the event possible, producing all these great videos, and for participating. OM Namo Narayana!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

I am concerned with the frequency that I hear people asking this question or echoing the sentiment that it is somehow detrimental to do good things in the world.  I'm going on the record to call B.S.  Do you want to know what I hear whenever someone says this?  What I hear is, "I am looking for an excuse to be selfish."  The fact of the matter is that karma exists.  It doesn't take much effort to see it at work, although it must be taken into account that this law of cause-and-effect sometimes works in such a way that we don't reap what we have sown until later lifetimes.  We should also keep in mind that the law of cause-and-effect applies to thoughts, words, and deeds alike.

People who cultivate an attitude of gratitude don't necessarily have more to be grateful for, but they're more likely to recognize what they do have to be grateful for.  People who occupy their minds with love, and whose actions are motivated by that mindset, attract the love and admiration of others.  They are healthier and happier than they would be if this were not the case.  This is a prerequisite for good, harmonious relationships because healthy people respect themselves enough to stay out of the drama of volatile people, at least to the extent that there is an option.

If a person's attitude is one which is nurtured by love and gratitude, their words and actions will follow suit.  This brings good karma in general.  Past karma (including past-life karma) is a factor, but what goes around does indeed come around.  On the other hand, a few hollow gestures aren't going to go so far.  What might outwardly appear to be a good deed isn't so wholesome if it is motivated by greed, narcissism, other forms of self-interest, or if it is accompanied by suspicion. 

Nothing personal, Dos Equis Guy.

When someone has expectations of people in return for good deeds, these are not good deeds, they're  business transactions.  If you don't have the foresight to put your terms and conditions in writing, then that says less about the existence of karma than it does about your poor business acumen.  A good deed can never hurt if there aren't any expectations attached to it. When someone thinks a good deed entitles them to something, though, that's a recipe for disappointment.

Some times a good deed isn't reciprocated, appreciated, or even acknowledged.  So what?   That's on the recipient.  A good deed is done for its own sake.  Or maybe for the sake of making it so that there is a even just a little more good in the world.  That doesn't mean putting oneself in a compromising situation, abandoning prudence, or making a martyr of oneself. 

I don't believe in good people or bad people.  People are just people doing the best they can with the understanding and the circumstances they have to work with at any given moment.  By putting in a little effort toward improving the quality of our thoughts, words, and deeds, we are seen as "better people", our subjective experience tends to improve, and our understanding of reality matures.  The higher our understanding, the more it becomes obvious that doing the right thing is the best thing for ourselves and others alike.  This shift in understanding can be accelerated by taking up a spiritual practice.  These are easy changes that we can make which make all the difference in the world.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Danger of "Us" VS "Them"

To paraphrase Nietzsche, the danger in fighting monsters is that of becoming a monster oneself.  Why do we feel the need to fight monsters?  First we must perceive "I" as distinct from "an other".  At the heart of the matter, all is resolved into Oneness.  But when we fail to perceive this, the sense of separation prevails.  This is the root of all of our troubles.  When we perceive some other who is somehow deemed a threat or is sufficiently "bad", the tendency is to get up in arms.  This fuels the psychology of separation even further.  There arises a battle between "us" and "them".  In a neat little twist of irony, Reality proves that, ultimately, we are all One...even via the medium of our misguided efforts at preserving the separate self at the expense of the others who threaten it.  We become the monster we fight.  We're not different from it.  The only reason that we don't generally see this is broken empathy and short attention spans.

A terrible thing happened to Jews during the German holocaust of World War II.  It was the attempted, and partially successful, genocide of an entire race of people.  Men, women, children, it didn't matter.  I met a woman who was a holocaust survivor when I was eight-years-old.  The pain that was still with her all those years later was palpable.  It was a terrible tragedy and a crime against humanity.  

Today, the nation of Israel, still dredging up the collective pain of a persecuted people, has become the persecutor.  Israelis and Palestinians occupy the same territory.  Some of the people of Israel have done some unsavory things to some of the people of Palestine.  Some of the people of Palestine have responded in kind.  This has turned into an ever-escalating back-and-forth cycle of hatred and retaliation.  Now the State is poised to wipe the Palestinians off the face of the earth altogether.  The Palestinians have been fenced into the tiny Gaza strip.  The infrastructure to support life has been systematically destroyed.  Men, women, and children are being bombed daily - presumably along with militants - in schools and hospitals.  Politicians and citizens alike have openly declared in various ways that complete and utter genocide is the only desired outcome. 

Was every WWII era German a racist?  I know from historical examples that this was not the case.  You couldn't get me to believe that every Israeli or every person of Jewish descent condones the actions of the Israeli State.  Yet it seems that the State, the stated purpose of whose inception was to find asylum from racism and persecution, is (apparently quite successfully) promoting the exact same racism and persecution upon the Arabs of Palestine.  Fighting one particular monster, some Jews at least have become that very monster themselves.



And what of the Arab survivors and refugees of Palestine?  They will now be faced with the same choice.  Essentially, that choice is whether to continue feeding the perception of "Us" VS "Them" - Arabs VS Jews in this case - with hate, or somehow chalking it up to a tragedy and trying to move on - refusing act out of hate or fear.

While all of this is going on, the Western world (and India) continue to be whipped into a frenzy about militant Islam.  Some Western women are still begrudging their now-remedied but historical status as second-class citizens.  As a result of this, men are being presented by some as the cause of this problem or that.

In other news, people are currently alternating between protest and rioting in Ferguson, MO and getting worked up all over the country, and abroad, over the unfolding events.  The reason is that police shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old young man.  The officer in question is white, while the young man in question was black.  Naturally, this has raised issues of the use of excessive force by police and the question of racial motivation on their part.  Additionally, peaceful protestors are being met with force by authorities.  I don't know what happened.   I wasn't there, but I do know that police do abuse their power.  At the same time, I know that people act crazy enough at times that they must be met with force.  The matter should be investigated thoroughly and justice should be carried outThe problem is escalated, however, when it becomes, in people's minds, an issue of "police" VS "citizens" and/or "black" VS "white".    By all means, justice should be carried out.  I do believe that the standard police are held to should be raised, monitored, and enforced.  But we should all strive to remember that we are all people and refrain from oversimplifying our outlook to one of "Us" VS "Them", which can only perpetuate the cycle.

Men and women; Germans, ethnic Jews, and Arabs; black, white, brown, yellow, and red people; Muslims, Christians, and Hindus: All are part of the human family.  Everybody is going to have the occasional family member who is just a dick.  I'm not saying that that dick-head family member shouldn't be dealt with appropriately.  What I am saying is that we should abstain from putting labels on the parties involved and join some group.  Life would be better for everybody if we could just learn and apply this one simple lesson.

Taking this a step further, we should all strive toward the non-dual awareness of the Self.  That Self is the underlying Unity of everything.  To know That is pure Bliss.  It is pure Love.  To know this is to know that everything in the world is perfect insofar as it serves the purpose of the world perfectly.  Whether we, as its co-creators, create a harmonious heaven on earth or continue to promote strife, we always have the option of taking refuge in the Peace of Consciousness-absolute.  This is the only safe bet.  We should realize our unity with That because That - which is none other than Peace, Love, Bliss; which brings contentment and equanimity - is the only thing that is permanent.  So long as we reside in the world, apparently cut off from our true nature as the all-encompassing Consciousness-absolute, change is the only constant.  Therefore, take shelter in the Real.  Abide in that which is everlasting, stainless, and unshakable.  Meet me in the place where "you" and "me" cease to be; where there is only one seamless Unity.  May we meet there, merged in Divine Love.  Only then can any conflict truly and permanently be resolved.

OM Nama Shivaya!  Hara, Hara, Hara Mahadev!