Monday, September 10, 2007


Discussion of Grace:

Self-surrender is the condition of the perfect working of Grace. It may be partial or complete; but in any case it tends towards Egolessness, and anticipates in some measure all the good that there is in Egolessness. The surrenderer, says the Sage, need not worry about his own good and evil actions of the past; their reaction would not work to his disadvantage; for Grace would dispose of them so as to turn them to his advantage. The whole function of Grace is the elimination of the sheaths, after which the real self alone will remain.
Grace is not something special; it is really universal; it is the only power for good there is, and all alike participate in its goodness; but the ego interferes and discounts its work; by self surrender this interference is made less and less, and the work of Grace becomes more and more effective.

...The Sage was asked by someone what he should do to deserve Grace; the Sage answered; "Are you asking this question without Grace? Grace is in the beginning, the middle and the end; ; for Grace is the Self; but because of ignorance of the Self it is expected to come from somewhere outside of you."

Maya Yoga, Page 213-214

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fasting on Yom Kippur

My husband was hoping he could fast on Yom Kippur. But he doesn't really know how to switch into low gear, which is what you need to do when you fast. Maybe he would choose that day to clean all the screens in the house or something like that. Last year he babysat and fasted. NOT A GOOD DECISION.

This year I was hoping he'd babysit again, there's something I've been invited to do which I don't want to miss. When we talk about it, he says, well, I guess I don' t have to fast. He points out that usually when people fast they hang out at the temple all day. Contemplate. Not something you can do with three kids to tire out. I ask him if maybe there's another way to purify.

He says that according to Rabbi Andy Bachman of Temple Beth Elohim, the fasting is not about purification. As he understands it, you give up your daily comforts to make room in yourself to be comforted by God alone. You let yourself go naked before God. Sounds like an act of faith and trust. You hand the remote control to God and see what programs he has for you. No ad men make money off that.

I just found this in my email, from Jennifer, who runs an A Course in Miracles meetup group. Sorry for the religion mish-mash, but I like what it adds to the train of thought above.

Although in truth the term sacrifice is altogether meaningless, it does have meaning in the world. Like all things in the world, its meaning is temporary and will ultimately fade into the nothingness from which it came when there is no more use for it. Now its real meaning is a lesson. Like all lessons it is an illusion, for in reality there is nothing to learn. Yet this illusion must be replaced by a corrective device; another illusion that replaces the first, so both can finally disappear. The first illusion, which must be displaced before another thought system can take hold, is that it is a sacrifice to give up the things of this world. What could this be but an illusion, since this world itself is nothing more than that?

It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean? It cannot mean that you have less because of it. There is no sacrifice in the world's terms that does not involve the body. Think a while about what the world calls sacrifice. Power, fame, money, physical pleasure; who is the "hero" to whom all these things belong? Could they mean anything except to a body? Yet a body cannot evaluate. By seeking after such things the mind associates itself with the body, obscuring its Identity and losing sight of what it really is.

Once this confusion has occurred, it becomes impossible for the mind to understand that all the "pleasures" of the world are nothing. But what a sacrifice,--and it is sacrifice indeed!--all this entails. Now has the mind condemned itself to seek without finding; to be forever dissatisfied and discontented; to know not what it really wants to find. Who can escape this self-condemnation? Only through God's Word could this be possible. For self-condemnation is a decision about identity, and no one doubts what he believes he is. He can doubt all things, but never this.

From Section 13: "What is the Real Meaning of Sacrifice" in Manual for Teacher from A Course in Miracles.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Exiled from Happiness

p. 22, Maha Yoga

It may be said that desire is the cause of our being exiled from the happiness that is within us, and its momentary cessation just allows us to taste a little of that happiness for the time being.

I know this is true, from watching myself, and my kids, encounter unattainable lollipops. It's been a long time since I've heard anything that resembles the phrase I used to hear, "ignorance is bliss." It seems like that way of thinking is less a part of our culture now than it ever has been. We are accumulating/improving/avoiding robots. Too much technology. Too many options. Too much information. Degenerate times...big challenges.

The Serpent and the Rope

From Maha Yoga by K. Lakshaman Sharma, about Ramana Maharishi, or the Sage of Arunachala. This book was recommended to me by Andy at The Healing Place on Garfield in Park Slope. Thanks, Andy!

The passage is long and may get a little tedious, here's what I take it to mean:

The world and our identities are very convincing illusions created by the mind. Only a direct experience of non-duality (the true Self) can reveal the truth.

All the rest of us have to go on is faith and rhetoric. And hopefully, grace and intuition.

When a rope is first mistaken for a serpent, and then recognised as a rope, the serpent ceases to appear. That does not seem to be the case with the world. Even when it is known that the world is only an appearance of the real Self, the world continues to appear. This is the objection raised by one that has heard the teaching and been more or less convinced. The correct explanation is that mere theoretical knowledge does not dissolve the world-appearance, but only the actual Experience of the Self. But this explanation may be premature at this stage. Hence the Sage needs to convince us that a false appearance may continue to be seen even after it is known that the thing is false. This is illustrated by the analogy of the waste land on which a mirage is seen. The mirage is a false appearance, just like the snake, But it continues to be seen even after it is known that there is no water in the place. We thus see that the mere fact of an appearance persisting is no proof that it is real. But then a further doubt arises. The disciple says, the case of the mirage is distinguishable; the water of the mirage is conceded to be unreal, because even though it does not cease to appear after the truth of it becomes known, its unreality is proved by the water not being available for quenching thirst; the world is not so, because it continues to serve innumerable purposes. The Sage dispels this doubt by appealing to the experience of dreams. The things that are seen in dreams are useful; food eaten in a dream satisfies dream-hunger. in this respect the state of waking is in no way superior to the dream-sate; the use of dream-objects seems as valid within the dream, as the use of waking-objects within the waking state. A man that has just eaten a full meal goes to sleep and dreams that he is hungry, just as a dreamer, having eaten a full dream-meal, wakes hungry. Both are proved false in sleep. This much we have seen from the dream-analogy, that a thing may seem to satisfy a need, and yet may be an illusion. The fact is the need and its satisfaction are both equally unreal.p. 66-67

Dualist Gripes

I always forget that these things that are troubling me or aggravating to me are a mirror showing something that I need to learn about. Forgetting this, I get into a mind that wants to change the world so that I will be happy and comfortable. Treated the way I wish to be treated. Amused the way I want to be amused. Protected the way I wish to be protected. I get swept away ruminating on how the world should change, how he/she/it should change. As if I knew better than god how the world should be.

The practice of developing an accepting mind, a mind that affirms reality (the things our mind/self are showing us) is a long and complicated project, with many levels of significance. Christ's view as I understand it from A Course in Miracles: learning to love, to forgive is really about becoming comfortable with ourselves, and discovering our true nature. Recognizing our oneness with God. By forgiving, we climb steps by which we overcome the world, which is an illusion created by the ego. By resenting, we stay locked in the dream that we are being tormented by the world, when we are in fact being tormented by the beliefs and feelings held by our egos, dark and uncomfortable issues we project onto the world becuase that's how the mind works. We are
tormented by the tension of a dreaming Self that thinks it's a self.