Humility is not only valued and encouraged as a necessity for spiritual development, it is necessary that we develop some humility simply to be able to have the least bit of happiness and peace in a world where we are obviously not in control of everything. Even very materially opulent and powerful people have only limited and temporary control at best over the environment, other living beings, even their own minds and bodies.

If we are not humble – if we think the world should revolve around us – then we will be constantly frustrated, disturbed, disappointed, anxious, enraged, and dissatisfied. We cannot experience any real peace or joy if we are constantly at war with reality. In such a state, nothing is good enough for us and so we do not truly value or appreciate what comes to us – even those people and circumstances that could offer us an opportunity for real and lasting happiness. If we are puffed up with false pride, we are blinded to the most joyful aspects of life and even to the loving nature of our own heart.

Oftentimes, we have some fear of humility because we think it will make us unhappy, but actually just the opposite is true. When we are humble, we can easily accept and appreciate what comes to us and see the opportunities and gifts that are present in every situation. When we are humble, our heart becomes happy in the most simplest of kindness because we intuitively understand the essence of what we are being offered.

kindness acts

If we are sincerely interested in having peace and happiness in our lives, then certainly we will want to develop humility. Fortunately, humility is not some artificial quality that we have to try force ourselves to take on or some heavenly virtue we have to try to raise ourselves up to attain. Humility is our natural condition, an integral aspect of our eternal, spiritual nature. This spiritual nature has simply become covered by the misconception that we are the material mind and body that we are temporarily wearing.

According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bonafide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.

When we understand that we are not the material clothes we are wearing, then we can see the futility in seeking happiness through trying to be superior to others. Any superiority of the body and mind – real or imagined – only exists on the material level. Material happiness is superficial, fleeting at best, and does not actually satisfy us because it does not actually touch us – the eternal spiritual being wearing the material mind and body. Because we are spiritual in nature, we can only be completely happy and fulfilled in realizing our true loving nature in connection with our spiritual Source.

In the yoga scriptures, the recommended method for linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus puts themselves in the direct presence of the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.

Through the daily practice of mantra meditation, we are increasingly purified of material misunderstandings and misgivings. As the false ideas of self fall away, we begin to experience ourselves as we truly are – as separate from the material mind and body we are wearing. We increasingly understand the difference between the mental ideas we carry in our mind of who we are and who we actually are. The more we know the difference, the less interested we are in playing the false prestige games of trying to be better than or superior to others – games based upon identification with the material clothes.

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As I write this, millions of people around the world are making plans to travel somewhere, millions of people are already traveling and millions are returning from a place they have traveled to.

Why do we travel? Oh yes, I know all the usual answers. To see other countries, to meet people who speak a different language, to have a unique experience, to get away from it all. But what it is that has us working like dumb animals for a year saving the fare money plus our spending money, to then have it all gone in a short burst of time, that is over before you know it and we are back exactly where we started, poorer, not much wiser and any lingering memory of the time spent away is quickly swept aside by the reinstatement of life as it was before we journeyed forth.

In America everyone wants to go to Hawaii for their holidays, in fact many people all over the world want to go to Hawaii to the tune of approximately 8 million visitors a year. But isn’t it ironic that Hawaiians like to go to Las Vegas or Disneyland or California for their holidays. The paradise we seek, thinking it will somehow change us or give us something we don’t have is not paradise for the people who live there. They travel to find another paradise.

hawaii vacation spot

For the sake of a better word we can call this type of traveling, ‘Horizontal Travel.’ Everyone is traveling in this way trying to extract that exotic experience, that incredulous adventure, trying to change one aspect of their lives or another. Everyone that is except for a few wise people who know very clearly that this type of travel is, in the long run boring, passé and flat. It does not have built into it the long lasting component of ongoing pleasure or happiness, the things that we are seeking when we first decide to take a journey into unknown lands.

Everyone wants happiness. This is not a very difficult thing to understand, we think that by changing our circumstances even for a few short weeks we will somehow get the sunshine, the happiness in our lives that we so earnestly desire. Horizontal travel is limited and temporary. In fact, horizontal traveling can be dangerous and painful and ultimately the journey of horizontal travel called life ends in death. We endlessly move from one place to another sometimes on short journeys that entail such inconsequential importance as going to the corner store for our favorite ice cream to the greater ventures that might include taking a yearlong world tour. But all the journeys we take for the sake of “broadening our horizons” will never satisfy us.

tahiti island

We continuously search for that elusive happiness that seems to be just at our fingertips. If I go to Tahiti I will be happy, if I make enough money to travel the world I will be happy, if I could only redecorate my house it will seem like a new place and I will be happy. On and on we make plans and arrangements to somehow rejig the pieces of our lives in pursuit of a happier state but often those plans go awry and even if we get the thing we are aiming for, very soon the thrill, the newness wears off and once more we are in the same situation, longing for change, yearning for inner contentment.

The problem is that we are traveling horizontally and not vertically. There is another type of travel and it is recommended by the great saints and sages who are able to travel internally. They use their time and energy and efforts to traverse a different route. Theirs is not the temporary gross travel that has a built in limited time and enjoyment factor. They are making the pathway vertically to the transcendental dimension, beyond this material universe. They travel on spiritual sound. In the Vedas we hear about one wonderful transcendental traveler called Narada Muni. He has access to all the planets in the material and spiritual realms. He carries with him an instrument called a vina and while he travels he sings the Names of the Supreme wherever he goes. He is able to travel anywhere and everywhere. There is no limitation.

It is one thing to travel in the physical body but it is another thing to become self-realized and know that you are here for a limited time only. No matter how much gross horizontal traveling you do, it has to end somehow, either by lack of interest, lack of money, countless diseases or inevitable death. When one comes to know who they are, then they are traveling the inner pathways, traveling with the sacred names of the supreme person. He is also called Paramatma, the Supreme spirit and we are Jiva atma the partial spirit. Similar in quality to the Supreme but not in quantity. If you really want to travel far and wide be picked up by the Supreme Person. This is the road recommended by the sages. The road of Bhakti Yoga.

This road of Bhakti Yoga is the pathway through all the troubles of this world, all the loneliness, all the longings and yearnings. This road of traveling with the Holy Names is the simplest method. You don’t have to work like a dumb animal to do this, you don’t have to go to another country, you don’t have to hassle with border patrols or customs, and you don’t have to worry about being overweight in your luggage. This road leads to the one person and the one place where there is no more anxiety.

One can still be traveling horizontally in this world to fulfill their duties and obligations, be it to family or work or whatever aspect of keeping the body alive we are involved in, but this does not mean we can’t be traveling vertically on the inner road. To travel horizontally to find happiness is a waste of time, it will never bring the satisfaction and happiness we seek. If we travel vertically on the road of the Holy Names it will lead us to Bhava, love for the Supreme and all other beings, this is higher than anything there is. Happiness is here, peacefulness within is here, contentment and love are here. There is no higher goal.

Become a traveler. Become a traveler on the road that will lead to happiness not on the road that leads to emptiness over and over again. The roadway is there, the Supreme Person is waiting for us to take those first steps on that road, waiting to pick us up and bring us home. Travel the road of Bhakti Yoga they commend, travel and be happy. Travel and find peacefulness.

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Finding True Love

09 Jan 2015

It is natural to long to be in a loving relationship with another person. And not just any loving relationship. We want a relationship that we can totally surrender into – a love that is so solid that we can rest our minds and hearts completely in it. We want a deep, pure, lasting love. Love that is absolutely fulfilling and true in the deepest levels of our being.

This is why we like fairy tales and romantic stories where couples fall completely in love with each other, are completely satisfied in this love, and live happily ever after. We are attracted to this idea because it is a reflection of a reality that we know in our hearts actually exists. And so we try to recreate this love in our own lives.

We search constantly for our perfect mate. Every time we meet a potential dream guy or gal – when we feel that little spark of sweetness light up within us – we think there he is or there she is. This is my true love, maybe. Maybe this is the person I have been searching for all my life. If the other person also feels a spark, then we might pursue the feeling together – trying to determine if the spark means this is the One. Or not.

And maybe we finally find someone who seems to light us up in all the right ways and we marry. But after one year, five years, ten years, are we still feeling in love?  Are we experiencing that deep-to-the-core, boundless, blissful love that we long for in our heart of hearts? Are we so completely satisfied and secure in our love that we can rest our minds and hearts completely in it?

If not, then why not?

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Karma is referred to as being the scientific law of ‘cause and effect’, the ‘As you sow so shall you reap’, ‘action and reaction’ or the more commonly heard phrase, ‘What goes around, comes around.’ If one does a particular action then there has to be a reaction to that action. If there is good action then one receives good reaction and if there is bad action then there is bad reaction. This very basically is the law of karma.

When people hear the word ‘karma’ they have different notions of what exactly it is.  Recently in a national broadcast on this subject, there were interpretations and commentaries from people from different walks of life. Buddhists, Hindus, philosophers and professors of Eastern Philosophy proffered their notions and ideas. For as many comments that were heard, there were as many varied opinions about the nature of karma.

The interesting thing on listening to these ‘so-called’ professional personalities was that each one of them chose a concept around karma that they felt comfortable with. They put forward belief systems that fitted with their own particular levels of comfort or discomfort.

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