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Sharing About Giving: Sparks of the Divine

Glittering Seashells

 

Amma tells us the mind will steal away your faith and your devotion. Can you believe after nearly 30 years with Amma that I could have even a moment of forgetting? Every day during guided meditation on Amma live, Amma reminds us not to let the mind wander. And every day I find my mind wandering.

 

She advises us to not go after the glittering seashells that may shine like diamonds but are not valuable. I was aware that this meant not to go after worldly objects, but my mind recalled my daily walks on the beach where I'd been thoroughly examining the seashells, most of them broken and white. None were glittering like diamonds. From a metaphorical standpoint, I thought that if I could only find these and pay them no mind, I'll have succeeded in keeping my focus on Amma alone.

 

A distracted mind and a reactive mind chase away devotion and the search for Liberation or moksha. The challenge for me in avoiding jumping into action, is that I was born with Aries Ascendant and several planets in Aries, probably the single most reactive sign in the zodiac. Say nothing of arrogance and an "I can do it myself" nature. Aries element is fire, and the planet is Mars. Volatility and clear focus are the negative and positive potentials for Aries. We have the capability of a warrior or an athlete for instantaneous action or response. I could often return a tennis ball no matter where it landed, catch just about anything thrown at me in surprise, return a volleyball slammed towards the corner.

 

In other words, I was capable of being quick on the draw before the warrior on the opposing side stood much of a chance. Translated into normal everyday life, I lacked the natural ability to wait before acting. For a spiritual seeker, such a reactive nature, coupled with arrogance, is a tormenting problem. For me to develop the ability to stop and wait, often felt like a losing battle. But I kept trying.

 

For some odd reason, a few years ago, I'd stopped a daily practice of the IAM Integrated Amrita Meditation given to us by Amma. Instead, I practiced another form of meditation. Astonishing as it was, I had given up on the meditation my Guru had given me, without asking her if it was alright to give it up. I gave it up, because I thought I knew best.

 

Then about a year ago, some health issues came up, and I could not stop clearing my throat or falling asleep during meditation, so the simple form of meditation I was practicing was no longer was possible, though I still got up every day at 4:00 AM to attempt it. Then one day I received an email about Amma's disciple Swamiji Atmananda's ongoing day-long Mantra I Meditation retreat. That was a game-changer for me—if I fell asleep, I'd drop my japa beads and wake up, and clearing my throat did not interrupt mantra meditation. Then Swamiji Dayamritananda Puri invited me to the streaming of Amma live daily. Oh, what a blessing that was. He must have known I needed saving at that point.

 

What Grace to be with Amma for four hours every day and on Pacific Coast time that meant 3:30 standard time or 4:30 AM daylight time. During the four hours Amma leads the MaOm meditation and White Flowers of Peace. Then an ashram resident or swami gives a spiritual talk. Then Amma leads Bhajans for an hour and a half. After that there is discussion about topics Amma has asked us to contemplate, usually from a scriptural verse. Things were looking up. And my throat was starting to clear up, too.

 

Simultaneously, I joined Swami Atmananda's Bhakti II retreat. Maybe he could help me transmute my reactionary nature and desire to win, into a longing for devotion. It was not a hard reach, as I've always had a devotional nature along with the warrior nature, and from the start I had an interest in the goal of Self Realization or Liberation.

 

My other reason to take the Bhakti retreat was to get some guidance about an experience I'd had. On Amma live we had been discussing Maya (Goddess of Illusion or Creation) for over a month, daily. The passage Amma wanted us to study and reflect upon, was from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verse 14, in which Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, Verily, this Divine Illusion (Maya) of Mine, made up of the three qualities of Nature, is difficult to cross over; those who take refuge in Me alone, cross over this Illusion (of Mine).

 

You may notice the paradox in the passage: that Krishna is saying He created Maya and if you focus on Him (Krishna), you can cross over this difficult and perplexing creation of His. Different ones, including children, would stand and give their take on it. As a result, we all were contemplating the concept of Maya on a daily basis as an intense inner study.

 

One morning, maybe nearly a month into the probing of the nature of Maya, while opening my refrigerator, Goddess Maya revealed herself in all her glory. All of a sudden the whole world glimmered and shone with a brilliance and vibrancy that was holy beyond holiness, bright like the birthing stars of a supernova. I began to bow down before everything. The almond milk, my porridge, the bowl, the floor, the coffee—everything took on the magnificence of the Creatrix, in constant motion and whirling around me like the Milky Way. This went on for some time and then my body/mind didn't seem to know how or what, and the experience gradually faded.

 

In the Bhakti II class, I asked Swamiji Atmananda about this refrigerator experience, and how could I learn to contain it. He said I needed to take Bhakti III. I had a laugh over that answer and so did he. No need to go into the contents of Bhakti III here, because all it did was to give me the intellectual understanding that my experience fell into the category of Spontaneous Devotion.

 

But this intellectual knowledge offered no advice or guidance on how to contain the energy I had experienced. But I was relentless. After the Amrita Silent Retreat Monthlong, I took Swamiji Atmananda's Nava Sadhana class (nine spiritual practices). The least I could do with the no-answer-to-my-question, was to dive more deeply than ever before into my sadhana, and most particularly surrendering my heart into Devotion.

 

During Swamiji Atmananda's nine sadhanas class, I was amazed to learn that my reactionary nature would arise because of desire and that the IAM meditation was the necessary practice to dissolve negative desires. Astonishing information.

 

I'd struggled for most of my life to get at the root of my anger tendency. Now I got it that my cravings lay at the bottom of any reactive surge which invariably manifested as anger, and sometimes jealousy and other negative passions. To learn that desire was at the root, after all these 50 years on the path, literally blew me away. So simple.

 

At this stage in my life, I'm not talking about gross or passionate yearnings like relationship, or sexual urges, or even big professional desires, but more subtle urges, that could have simply to do with wanting my way while trying to get past Bank of America phone robot, or reacting to criticism, or disagreeing with someone about something not really all that important. I wanted to be done with all of it, as I continued to feel unrest over my emotional reactions, no matter how small or large. By large, I'm referring to my earlier years when I would erupt into angry outbursts. I live in fear that this potential might still be alive in me.

 

That said, I have now resumed a daily IAM meditation practice. My arrogance tamed for the moment. And I'm paying close attention to the ways that my desires get in the way of a peaceful mind. Sometimes I list these negative uprisings, no matter how subtle, into a journal. Keeping track raises awareness. Amma often asks us to make such lists daily.

 

Now, let me back up to remind you about the glittering seashells and me continuing to be perplexed by the use of this metaphor during the MaOm guided meditation every morning on Amma Live Streaming. I was clear we're not to go after worldly desires.  But, still, I like it when a metaphor works. I want to be able to say, "Oh yeah, look at all those fake diamonds in the glittering seashells." However, this was not what I saw every day as I walked on the beach.

 

But, on the very morning after I'd resumed IAM, I was drawn to head out early for my walk on the beach, just after Amma live-stream had ended. It had been raining. Everything was wet. The air chilly and moist. The sun low on the eastern horizon. I was walking into the sun, noting the wavelets shining and sunlight shimmering on the swells. Then, lo and behold, I looked down onto the sandy, shell-strewn beach. You won't believe what I saw there—the rainwater on the seashells was glittering like diamonds. Diamonds all over the place. Glittering seashells. I'd found the fake diamonds of Amma's metaphor which were of an extraordinary splendor like the Creatrix Herself. Maya in all its sublime expression. Sparkling. I knew not to go after them. I stood in awe of them as phenomenon of Creation—the Shakti, the active and creative principle of the Goddess Maya that is forever changing. Shiva, the deep stillness that pervades all, and Shakti, the active exquisite beauty and ugliness of the entire range of Creation. Om Shiva shaktyai kai rupinyai namah—I bow down to the form of the Union of Shiva and Shakti within and without, in all Creation.

 

 

 

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Vision for Sharing about Giving

Imagine thousands of sparks shooting out from Amritapuri where our Divine Mother Amma blesses all who come to Her. The act of giving arises from compassion.

 

Amma tells us that "spirituality begins and ends with compassion." Those who live in Amma's Amritapuri ashram in Kerala, India, often describe it as heaven on earth. From this heaven on earth, Amma's wisdom and effulgence flows out worldwide to devotees and interested souls everywhere. We can create a heaven on earth no matter where we are.

 

When infused with sparks of love, we often are inspired to respond by giving. The stories in "Sharing about Giving" blog will help to encourage a world culture to regain its way of living that is based on the spiritual principles of Sanatana Dharma, the Way of Eternal Truth, the path of compassion and of the unity of all beings. Sanatana Dharma recognizes that everything is permeated with God-Consciousness.

 

Through giving, each of us has experienced this all-pervading Divinity, even if only for seconds. The act of giving selflessly takes us out of darkness and into light. When we give, we are filled with Amma's all-encompasing, Unversal Love. The giver and the receiver become One.

 

In "Sharing about Giving," we tell about the kind of selfless acts that effect a positive change in an individual and thereby a change in the family, the community, the world, and in all of nature. We are all born with gifts or talents.  Our Beloved Amma inspires us to express our individual dharma, our personal pathway in harmony with the universe.Our own dharma leads us towards the Dharma of all human beings—Liberation or freedom from suffering.

 

Our experiences and our practices of giving are simple but fertile gifts that can inspire others. We offer many sparks from our inner wealth to help make Sanatana Dharma available to everyone. You just never know where this blog might end up, to be seen by someone who needed Amma's love in the form of devotee accounts about giving.

 

Stories about our spiritual journeys offer a powerful way to give—every one unique, every one according to our essence and our particular life path, our individual dharma. Our accounts arise out of our lives dedicated to a daily practice of Amma's teachings, based in kindness, compassion, and humility.

 

Amma has asked us to share about our weaknesses, along with our gifts. And then to describe our transformation, how it came about, and how we rose up out of darkness and into light. 

 

"Sharing about Giving" is about raising awareness and passing these blessings—these sparks—on to others.

 

 

You are invited and welcome to submit stories

(see left panel for Submission Guidlines)

 

Amma_with_children.jpg

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New Moon in Aquarius

THE NEW THEME "SHARING ABOUT GIVING" BEGAN WITH THE PREVIOUS POST. ALL POSTS THAT FOLLOW WERE UNDER DIFFERENT THEMES, THOUGH THEY MIGHT BE SEEN AS RELATED IN THE SENSE THAT ALL THINGS ARE INTERCONNECTED. 

 

 

 

A big line-up in humanitarian Aquarius on this New Moon--the dazzling Sun with the nurturing Moon, fleet-footed Mercury, and Dark Moon Lilith. All these planets together in such close connection signal unique contacts with friends and associations, and ingenious ideas for change. If this line-up is strong in your chart, you might even write an article  or give a speech about the necessity for a profoundly inovative way to affect new ways of approaching life and making a difference. And, making a difference in small ways, if everyone does it, can bring about enormous change.

 

Our Lady the Dark Moon Lilith is in the mix of Aquarius planets (and you don't ever want to mess with her, or with anyone who reprents her). She's powerful and like Goddess Kali, will do all she can to cut away all the nonsense and the ego-involvements that interfere with clear and clean outcomes. 

 

Usually I'm not deep into politics, but last night Stacy Abrams gave one of the most inspiring talks I've heard in a long time. Her response to the State of the Union. To me her speech was the embodiment of this Aquarius line-up--her vision, her compassion, her  belief in the goodness of human nature, and her no-nonsense and cut to the chace words. 

 

Stacy Abrams began her speech by telling a story of how her family had only one car. On a stormy night they went to pick up her father who was walking home from work. He got into the car, soaking wet and chilled to the bone. Stacy's mother asked, "Where is your coat!?" He said, "I gave it to a homeless man." Stacy asked why. He responsed, "Because I knew you were coming for me and I knew no one was coming for him."

 

This is the age of Aquarius. 

 

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Let's Start Here

Newgrange, Ireland

 

Introduction to an archetypal view on astrology.

 

You find yourself wandering into an astrology wheel, meandering around from sign to sign, discovering stories there, stories written in ancient stones like petroglyphs, mysterious and compelling.

 

You find suns and moons and people and spirals, all etched into the stones. You close your eyes and sense an energy of those eons ago, with sacred fires burning, white-robed priests and priestesses chanting, tall ethereal spirit beings appearing from behind trees. A woman in a thatched hut deep in the forest diagnosing and healing wounds of flesh and emotion. A king who has lost his way while longing to seek counsel from the wise ones.

 

Etched in stones, you'll find spiral designs from ancient cultures all over the world.

 

We might decide these spirals are the astrology wheels filled with a layered plot indicating your destiny, a labyrinthine pathway to a spiritual discovery or even a pot of gold promised.

 

All the while you let  both knowledge and intuition guide you. The art of allowing insight to lead you on a journey into your zodiacal wheel. The art of allowing the astrological details—details passed down over centuries—to color your pathway. The art of plying the building blocks that form the foundation upon which you expand and illuminate your own life through story and archetype.

 

It's a never-ending maze of discovery and vision.

 

 

 

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Critter in Moss Coat

You're walking along, and there at your feet is a little critter, alive in the wood, with moss coat, emerging from its cave. Does it have two heads and one central horn, or is a moving picture, head to the right leaving its shadow on the left? They can do and be whatever they wish, invisible to most eyes to see, living there, in this case, right on the trail, in a gnarly twisting curling piece of wood. 

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Who Lives in This House?

Since I just arrived from Ireland where a farmer used to tell me about all the leprachauns he sees in the early morning hours, or late at night, dancing on the hill, the little ones with green jackets and red hats, I imagined a faery living in this tree here in Maine, in Acadia National Park. Why not? My friend Danny, who has a rath (hill fort) and a dolmen (tomb) right on his property in County Wexford, says that some leprachauns have picked up and landed in all manner of places outside of Ireland.

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The Case of the Turquoise Oar

Row row row your boat....whoops....well.....if your oar is stuck in a pond just carry on as no matter what you do or say, the truth is .....merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.

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Log Being

In Ireland I met many stone beings and now in Maine I'm meeting log beings. In the deep silence of the sea, behind the sound of waves, beyond the rush of the stream in the deep forest--all--lies the land of Nod. And I say the land of Nod is the land of inner Knowing.

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Sunrise in front of my cottage

I never tire of these morning skies in Inishowen. Every day different. Every day a vision of all the manifestations of light from the heavens above.

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White Cottage with Red Door

Whenever I would watch films about Ireland, I was captivated by the classical Irish cottage. Ooooo, I'd love to live in one of those. And now here I am.

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