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Meet me in New Hartford, Connecticut, May 1 – 7, for satsanga, two great retreats, and a Life Reading. Explore these events:
The next issue of the Bhagavad Gita (ch 1, vs 2-6) inexplicably disappeared without a trace. It is just gone, not even in the ‘trash’. I will try to remember what I wrote and get it to you asap. Meanwhile, I will be posting a journal for a few days in the hope of keeping you happy and coming back.
Got a call this morning that mom is not doing well and Dr doesn’t expect her to last long. Thought about getting a taxi to the airport and finding the first flight to Kansas City. Realized that was rash and got online to discover that the only non-stop flight would leave before I got there; booked the next flight out at 7 pm.
Got word to two neighbors that I would be leaving, sat down, and the phone rang again. My mom is gone. My mom is gone and I wasn’t able to be there with her when she left her body. I so wanted to be there for her. But her pastor was there, and a social worker, with whom I spoke; very nice; I was glad she had been there.
Everything went smoothly to get to the airport and to the gate. I don’t walk well, so this was a blessing. Further blessing: first class was vacant so I got into first class with a very cheap upgrade, so the flight was also easy and I got fed, something I hadn’t thought about and which was essential if I wasn’t going to burn out on the first day. There would be much to do.
Found a decent hotel with a shuttle.
Had a good sleep. Got going earlier than expected. Caught shuttle to airport to rent a car. Got to Clinton in time for meeting with Lyle (uncle) after finding and booking a hotel. Went to the funeral home to make arrangements for mom’s service and burial. Scheduled for Monday. Viewing starts at 10, service at 11, then burial.
Went to meet with mom’s pastor at Church of Christ. The three of us talked about her for two hours. Made arrangements with pastor to do her service. The women want to have food for everyone after burial. People there seem to be in awe of her. She had attended church regularly, driving herself there every Sunday until she went into the nursing home where pastor took communion to her every week. He visited her often, as did other members. Was glad to hear that she had so many people caring about her. She would have been 100 on July 20.
Uncle Lyle took me to dinner afterwards around 7. Hadn’t eaten since breakfast at the hotel. Had driven straight down to Clinton and been busy making arrangements all day.
Mom had some money in her checking account, and this would come to me as her only child. First thing I did was start giving it away … to her church, and to Uncle Lyle, whom I thought really deserved it, he did so much during the time I was bed-ridden myself for so many months, and he is so tired. He is 86. But I really must stop this kind of behavior. My situation is drastically dire. There isn’t enough money left to support me for many days. I must get practical and figure out how to put what money is left to work for me, rather than giving it all away and then going through what’s left and ending up on the streets after all (not joking here).
Jane called after I got in. Jane is an old high school friend that lives near by. She said, “I’m here. Use me”.
Can’t get to sleep. Too tired. Ate some left-overs from dinner at 3 am hoping to knock myself out. Emailed the funeral home to ask them to do the obituary. I can’t do it. My mind is not working. Need to sleep. Need to get grounded. Will call Jane tomorrow.
Woke at 7 after only 2 hours of sleep. Immediately went to thoughts about yesterday, cheating memory of dreams out of recollection. Fooey!
Will call Jane today. This super excellent human being has her feet on the ground. Talking to her will cause this mind to be more sensible about things and maybe I’ll get my own feet on the ground! Jane is a BFF, truly.
Everything I hear about young girls today makes one think they are all back-biting little snoots. Is this what is really going on these days, or is this just “good copy” for media moguls who think that only bad things are of interest to people, and only bad things sell? Hard to tell for someone who is so out of the loop.
My own experience growing up was very different. All of the girls in my class in school were super nice, nice to each other, and nice to those who were less fortunate than they. It was rare that anyone did anything that hurt someone else. I only remember one or two times this happened, and when someone messed up, that person cleaned it up right away.
Old saying: “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.”
Dhirtarashtra said: O Samjaya, about my sons of the field of doers, and the sons of Pandu of the field of dharma, eager to fight, tell me what they are doing.
Dhritarashtra – Dhritarashtra was the blind king. The name means, ‘one whose empire is firmly held’.
Samjaya – The king’s minister. The name means, ‘victorious’.
What is going on:
A conflict is about to take place on the battlefield. Dhritarashtra, who was king and is blind, is asking his minister, Samjaya, to tell him what is going on between his son’s army and the opposing army. His son leads the armies of the Kurus. The armies of the Pandavas are lined up against him.
Because Dhritarashtra is blind, he tells his minister, Samjaya, who has the power to see at a distance, to tell him what is going on. The result is that we get to listen in as Samjaya reports events to Dhritarashtra. This is the source of a dialogue that makes up the content of the Bhagavad Gita. The dialogue is between Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, and Krishna, Arjuna’s guru and childhood best friend who has come over from the other side to drive Arjuna’s chariot for him. But this is another story.
The Two Fields
The field of dharma (truth, divine law, virtue)¹ and the field of kuru (doership, will, ‘ego’).
Think of ‘field’ as a scope of influence and action. The field of the Pandavas is dharma, Truth. The field of the Kurus² (from, kri, ‘to do’) is doership. These two, Truth and doership, have come together in one place to contend their right to rule the kingdom, thus implying that Truth and doership do not tend to get along well with one another.
What does all this have to do with you?
As a king, Dhritarashtra represents a ruler. His blindness represents ignorance—he is unenlightened. Because he cannot ‘see’ and must have his minister relate events to him, we draw the obvious conclusion that this indicates perception that is indirect on the part of the unenlightened, whereas the perception of one who ‘sees’ is direct. So we have ‘ignorance’ as ‘ruler’ of the ‘kingdom’.
What rules you and your kingdom? You will find the answer to this question in what you want. Do you want Truth, or do you want to be in control? Do you want Truth to rule, or do you want to do everything yourself? The setup of this story seems to be telling us that there is no middle ground where this is concerned.
The rightful ruler is Truth, dharma.
Doership (will) has usurped the thrown.
A conflict is inevitable.
The conflict between the Kurus and the Pandavas represents a clash of opposing forces that occurs when attempting to right this situation. The clash is the coming together of two opposing energies in the body of the person engaged in this endeavor. This union of sun-energy and moon-energy (ha-tha yoga) in the body³ awakens the evolutionary force (kundalini). Once awake and active, the evolutionary force begins the process of doing what is necessary to correct the situation. This process is explained by Lord Krishna in His dialogue with Arjuna, his devotee, and makes up the content of the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God).
Ignorance, the state of the unenlightened, is indirect perception. Dhritarashtra represents ignorance as the ruler of one’s kingdom—your perception, actions, and life in general. But there is someone with you who perceives directly, and can ‘see’. This individual knows what’s going on, and will tell you everything if you ask. But it will be up to you to understand what is being conveyed to you by this individual … and by this scripture, for it is this individual who is conveying it.
¹ dharma means law, the true essence of anything, and Truth in the absolute sense, i.e., sanatana dharma, ‘Eternal Truth’.
² The physical place, Kurukshetra, is located north of Delhi near Pranipat.
³ The Kurus are of the race of the Moon, and the Pandavas are of the race of the Sun.
Jaya Bhagavan! (Victory to God!)
Have you ever heard someone say, “You only get what you deserve”? Hearing this bit of karmic wisdom, your mind starts scanning its contents for bad things that have happened to you in the past, and immediately lays the blame on you for all of it: “It couldn’t have happened to me if I didn’t have it coming.”
“Nothing can happen to you (or for you) that you don’t have coming.” “You can only get what you deserve.” Such statements, while minimally useful to some, are virtually useless, even harmful, to most. Though they have a grain of truth to them, they are incomplete, and can take you on a journey through a kind of self-battering, and seriously impede your spiritual development.
Dharma – Law. The established nature, character, peculiar condition or essential quality of anything.
Karma – Action. From, kri, meaning ‘to do’. One’s destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.
The Dharma of Karma - The law of cause and effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Over the past few years, inspired by a passage in Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, I have been giving a lot of thought to the workings of karma. In this particular passage, the immortal Babaji is sitting around a fire with his disciples, when he picks up a burning brand and touches one of the disciples on his shoulder, burning him. Stricken with horror, one of the company asks him why he did it. Babaji explains that he did it to rid this disciple of his karma to die a horrible death by fire, and precedes to lay his hand on the burn and heal it completely.
This got my attention. What happened to “equal and opposite”? How was a small burn, lasting only a short time, going to short-circuit this fellow’s karma to die a horrible death by fire? This could only mean one thing: I had to rethink my understanding of karma.
I thought about throwing a ball against a wall, and how the ball never seems to come back quite the same way—it comes back, but usually at an angle and at a lesser velocity. I thought of boomerangs and other things, and there always seemed to be a good possibility that a reaction could vary.
How does this relate to us and our karma, and what changes the reaction?
When we take responsibility for our actions, we have thrown the ball, we have created karma. Karma doesn’t care if an action is good, bad, or neutral, it will still bind us. But we care because we don’t want bad things to happen to us, so we try to do the right thing.
A few years ago, I realized that a decision I had made a long time before in the name of doing the right thing, had been a terrible mistake. I had made this decision believing that nothing bad could happen if I didn’t have it coming anyway, and took a terrible risk. The outcome was not only harmful to me, but it enabled the other person involved to continue harmful behavior, which was harmful to him, and to those whom he would harm.
I spent years afterward listening to my mind accuse me with, “You only got what you deserved”. This seriously handicapped my sadhana with self-denigrating thoughts and beliefs of unworthiness. This is not humility, it is negative reinforcement, the most powerful and effective means of growing the ego.*
Taking the Blame
Don’t let this happen to you. If someone socks you in the jaw, it’s on him. Do not let people tell you that you must have had it coming—you don’t really know this for certain—and not to blame. Even if you do have it coming, if he hit you, that’s on him. He is responsible for that sock on the jaw, it was his action, his choice. Not yours. So don’t take it on. Surely you have enough of your own karma? And consider this: the act of taking it on creates more personal karma.
What affects, or changes, the returning trajectory, the reaction, is us—all of us. Because we are all interconnected, what one of us does affects the rest of us to greater and lesser degrees. These variable effects alter the karma of every one of us, helping or hindering our forward movement toward happiness and fulfillment. Understanding this inspires us to follow fundamental principles for successful living° so that we not only serve ourselves in removing obstacles and oppressions, but we serve everyone else as well, at the same time.
Yoga teaches that all action occurs in nature, and that what we really are is not nature and does nothing at all. What we really are is divine. We acquire karma because of our ignorance of this Truth, but when we realize Truth directly, we become free of the influences of karma.
Now we see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face.
—1 Corinthians 13:12
Having surrendered all actions (to God), the embodied one sits happily, the ruler in the city whose gates are nine (the physical body), neither acting, nor causing action.
— Bhagavad Gita, ch 5, vs 13.
* The word ‘ego’ is used to indicate the sense of oneself as the doer of action, from the Sanskrit, ahamkara, ‘I do’.