“This above all: to thine own self be true.” We are all familiar with this famous quote from Shakespeare. But the questions must be asked: What is this “self” of ours, and what must we do to be “true” to it? What is our true nature? Often when people change the direction of their lives due to discontent, unfulfillment or disillusionment they will say “I felt like I was living a lie.” What does it mean to live the truth?
Consider the language we use on a regular basis. How often do we use possessive adjectives to describe the things and people of our life? This is mine. That is yours.
If we bring our awareness to how much of life’s conflicts arise in the separation of ourselves from God and others, we will begin to realize the challenge in the life of yoga. For where we can find oneness in such separation?
On Mother’s Day we reflect on the divine qualities of Mother: selflessness, unconditional love, a patient, understanding, and compassionate heart.
We all know what it means to have a “mother’s intuition,” but all souls are potentially intuitive. And yet, for many of us that faculty lies dormant. We often go against our intuition. We lack confidence. We lack clarity.
How do we develop our intuitive faculties?
Always remember to draw from that sacred, infinitely vast cosmic life energy from its source within you. It is that very life-giving power that pervades the whole universe. Awareness of that power helps to cultivate the light of intuition.
Through the conditions of constant change and conflict of desires, how do we witness the perfection of soul. Will the peace of a balanced mind and the elegant beauty of equipoise direct us to a state of higher living? Is there an art as well as a science of yoga?
The inspiration for this Sunday’s service comes from a beautiful hymn we look forward to singing together during the service: “Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh." In my mind this phrase has an interesting and inspiring double connotation. Does it mean that whatever befalls us in life God is always (still) with us? Or does it mean that in calmness (stillness) we realize the presence of God? Does it refer to the idea that “if I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there." (Psalm 139:8)? Or, to the sage guidance given in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”?
What will lift our consciousness to the supreme source of all? What will elevate our thoughts to that which is noble and sublime?
There is the mighty forest that raises our vision to towering heights. And there is the exalted cathedral which inspires our voice to soar in worship.
There are majestic mountains that both span and scale our horizon. With them we climb eternally higher. There are the stars of the sky. And by their light they remove the boundaries of our universe.
Look upon the lotus as a symbol of the purity and bliss of the soul that dwells within all creation. Look upon the cross as a symbol of ascending power of the eternal, and immortal reality of God.
What power of soul will arise within us?
What does it mean to be a disciple? The truth and ideal as taught and exemplified in the life of a sage or prophet may not bring the same inspiration among followers. Some will identify with the personality, but not with the source of the truth espoused. Some will be transformed in their consciousness and conduct. And others, though attracted to the teachings, may be totally unchanged in their individual lives. Where is the fertile ground for true discipleship?
We all have moments when we ask ourselves or are asked by others: What is my religion? What do I believe?
Countless philosophers have studied and asked endless questions of the creator and the created, only to find that they must continually ask new questions and study the truth of existence ever more. What is the goal of this constant search?
How do we study God? Do we read scripture? Do we pray for enlightenment? Do we call upon nature? Do we seek a guru? Perhaps we may take comfort in our ideal that to study God, to study the soul and its activity throughout life will lead us on a path to a greater knowledge, love and existence.
The poet-composer Rabindranath Tagore, wrote: “In the freedom of consciousness we realize the sense of unity with our larger being, finding fulfillment in the dedicated life of an ever-progressive truth and ever-active love.” In order to study God, should we not study life itself?
As we draw nearer to the blessed Holyday Easter, perhaps our minds are contemplating one of the most dramatic and poignant moments in the history of all religion: that of Jesus of Christ Consciousness on the cross. Jesus’ final words before departing this plane of consciousness were “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” the ultimate expression of resignation. But must we wait until the final moments of our life on earth to practice resignation? Or, is there a way to practice this in day-to-day living? What did Saint Paul mean when he said “I die daily”?
Unfolding the perfection of love, truth and beauty is the activity of the soul, ever revealing itself. How do we guide this effort that we may unearth its treasures? Do we look to nature for her example? Do we direct our lives toward an ideal? What is the nature of unfoldment?
What is single-pointed concentration? How can it be achieved? If your work is all-absorbing and you put your body, mind and heart into it, the result is complete self-dedication. In such dedication, time and effort are practically unknown. The practice becomes timeless and effortless. When attachment and worry are present, time can be experienced as long and the effort difficult. But when the devotee sees only the source of devotion, there is no other desire than to keep the spotlight of the mind ever focused on that source.
Upon my recent visit to India I joined an international delegation to attend the Kumbh Mela. Not only did I encounter an age-old cultural and religious practice but I also had the opportunity to meet individuals from across the globe, each one seeking a path, a practice, a dedication to a greater knowledge.
The kumbh takes place at the confluence of three rivers known as the sangam. It is the meeting point of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati river. And yet, it was the confluence of people I saw—of various cultures, ages, and interests that raises the question: Who is a seeker? Where and how do we seek?
During each Sunday service we say these words from The Eternal Truths of Absolute Monism: “Truth is One, men call it by various names”. We know that God is Truth and that we are constantly surrounded by the manifestation of God as Truth. But how do we gain the wisdom of discernment that allows us to recognize the highest and purest truths? We will explore how we recognize and express truth in our daily lives and where we can find assurance that we are indeed following paths leading us to the Absolute Truth.
In the Sermon on the Mount we find these words of wisdom given to us by the blessed Nazarene: “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The words “all these things” refer to material items such as food and clothing mentioned in previous verses. Are we then to believe that if we seek the kingdom of God in our lives, these “things” will be given to us gratuitously and without any effort on our part? This would seem to be a rather shallow and impractical interpretation. We will explore the deeper implication of these most sublime and uplifting words.
Let us try to get to the heart of the matter—why do we hold so tightly to things, to emotions, to desires? Sometimes it seems impossible to loosen our grip. Our attachments are so strong, they overpower us. We become lost in the trappings of our own mind and body. How do we free ourselves?
Think of all the ways we attempt get to the purest essence—to the indispensable quality that determines the true state, to that substance without which it would not exist. That is our path of self-dedication, self-purification and self-realization.
The third of the “Five Pillars” of Islam is charity. The first two pillars, faith and prayer, are thus brought into full manifestation by the human spirit through the third pillar—through acts of benevolence, compassion and love.
On the path of enlightenment we must remember that the light of soul shines through our every deed. With that thought in mind, what activity of spirit do we perform?
Our prayer is our self-dedication to God, to a higher ideal, to awareness of our consciousness and to that which we aspire. Thinking thus, how do we pray? Even God-realized souls need prayer. From the Gayatri mantram to the prayer of Moses in the psalms, to Jesus teaching the Lord’s prayer in his sermon on the mount, to the salah or namaz with five daily prayers facing Mecca—the language and form of our communication may vary according to culture, but our divine communion is much more than the words we utter. It is our realization as well as our aspiration.
We are all familiar with the myth of Midas whose touch instantaneously turned any object into gold. But we may ask what is the true value of gold? Can you eat it for sustenance? Burn it for warmth or illumination? The value of gold is what we assign to it. Is gold valuable to a dog, a horse or an elephant? “Value” is a subjective quality which we project and assign outwardly to various objects of this world. What truly is of the highest value to us? It is the golden light of God which touches and pervades all things and brings enrichment, fulfillment and happiness to our lives. To quote from a prayer by Swami Premananda, it is that “mystic light” which “illumines the whole universe” and transforms all things into “symbols of purity and holiness, beauty and perfection.” The ability to perceive that golden light of God in all things is the true Midas touch.
A carpenter will care for the tools that apply shape and function to the craft. An artist will clean the brushes and preserve the paints for application to canvas. The musician will tune the instrument and listen for the perfect pitch. But what steps do we take to awaken our soul to its divine purpose?
What is the foundation of our faith?
Let us begin this new year with a sublime thought. A student of religion may commit to memory and recite by heart the Qur’an, the Bible or the Gita. But to live such a divine message requires a mental, emotional and spiritual commitment.
Consider the teachings of great souls on this earth. What mystic stories and parables do we hold dear? What messages inspire us to walk a noble path?