One God, Many Forms – Guru Purnima Memory

Sathya Sai Baba

“God’s limitless compassion for humanity, makes him descend to earth in human form, to show the world the path of divinity and righteousness. All the spiritual Masters, who have established dharma, (righteousness) and have shown the world the spiritual path at all times, in all parts of the world, are such incarnates. There is an intrinsic bond between ones individuality and God-consciousness, it is God-Consciousness alone that manifests itself in all forms of life. Divinity and God-consciousness are latent in every living entity.”

~Sathya Sai Baba

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 – A Guru Purnima Experience –

A devotee’s story
  
He has an uncanny style of teaching and many a time it comes in the most realistic way, inducing us to stir our thought process. A devotee from Australia had such a wonderful experience during a Gurupurnima Festival at Prasanthi Nilayam in the mid seventies that the devotee learned the greatest lesson that God was (Is)  One and the entire creation was blessed to be within His Aura !



My friend and I were sitting fairly centrally, about one third of the way back despite the invitation to sit near the front and towards the side: the position was fortunate as otherwise, I doubt if the following wonderful experience could have been possible.

In His Divine discourse, with Dr Bhagavantham translating, Swami spoke about prophets and teachers of the great faiths, showing that the Sai faith embraced them all. Later on, Swami discoursed on the role of the Guru, but I heard little or nothing of this, because apparently inexplicable, my mind seemed to wander and I wondered casually if I could see Dr Bhagavantham’s aura. The dark background curtain absorbed the aura; so I switched attention to Swami to see if His aura could be discerned despite the curtain and concentrated hard to see at least His aura.

Suddenly, unbelievably, Swami’s hair seemed to have disappeared! His hair had become a sort of clear transparent aura. Amazed, my concentrated gaze then discerned within this frame a quite different head of hair, shoulder length, black, with a slight wave, and Swami’s face became the face of Christ, a Jewish Christ, not the blonde Christ of the Medieval Italian artists. I gazed at this phenomenon with great interest and no religious emotion. As I gazed, the face became that of someone I could not place—possibly Zoroaster or Buddha or perhaps some teacher unfamiliar to me — and throughout the subsequent events these two animated faces recurred, to assure me that I was not inducing these visions.Having thus gained and held my attention, Swami then gave a great blessing and an emotional jolt, for there was my revered Ramana Maharishi, white haired and slender faced, utterly unlike the former visions. I was a devotee of the Maharishi, whose writings have given glimpses of reality, and had been feeling disloyal because of the new found devotion to Baba. Baba settled this disquiet by showing that there was no difference between Gurus. This indeed was the main purpose of this blessed experience.


The following visions were brief and were mostly of the Hindu deities or personalities which had become meaningful to me. Rama, a brief but distinct and repeated glimpse of Ganesha, Shirdi Sai Baba and Lord Shiva. Recently I had seen a photograph of Sathya Sai Baba in which He had been depicted as Durga on Her lion, and I wondered if I might be able see Baba in this Goddess form ever. Instead, I had a breathtaking vision of Tripura Sundari — Lalita — Goddess of the Three Worlds, exquisitely beautiful and very alive.

I was wondering why Krishna did not appear. Then there was Krishna! Periodically I yearned to see Baba Himself, with interesting consequences: I saw Him at His various ages, His face always an oval of Light; at times He dissolved into pure Light with no form at all. Now and again, in response to mental request, I saw Baba superimposed over other visions of Him talking animatedly. His face—how could I adequately describe it? —clearly visible but not of solid matter, more, like a series of points, the nucleus of matter.What was Baba’s purpose in allowing these visions?

So many lessons were learnt that evening, apart from the precious knowledge that Ramana was one with Baba, that all were One and we were one with The One. Maya, illusion—the unreality of constantly mobile matter and its reality as pure Light. The Formless God who could assume any form He liked and the response of those forms to our own mental creativity.


I had recently been thinking deeply about Maya, and in Ooty I had mentally, half seriously asked Baba to show me His real form. “God can be seen in concrete form—but it is still only in the devotee’s mind. Form and appearance is determined by the mind of the devotee. Minds and interpretations differ.” (Teachings of Ramana Maharishi: Osborn ) “Visions of God are as real as your own identity. Objects bear relation to the state of the seer. Visions of God have their place, below the plane of Self-realization.” (Talks with Ramana Maharishi.) Beloved Baba, to give so much to one as ‘unworthy’ and unprepared as I am! And to how many of those many thousands did He communicate, while delivering what I could only presume to have been a profound discourse?

How blessed are we to be within His aura! Beloved wonderful Baba!II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II

– Courtesy SSB Central Trust – Puttaparthi
Swami

I chose this story because it rang true for me. I have also seen Swami’s aura. You can find the story on this blog. Swami’s Halo:

Have a very happy Guru Purnima 2021 – Sai Ram

The Wonders of Bayeux – Photography

photos by Eve

 

 

Construction of Bayeux Cathedral began in the Roman period, under Bishop Hugues, to continue under William the Conqueror’s brother, Bishop Odo (11th Century). Following serious fire damage during the 12th Century, the cathedral was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 13th Century. Construction of the central tower began in the 15th Century, under Bishop Louis d’Harcourt, to be completed only in the 19th Century following major work by Eugène Flachat.

 

 

 

Excerted from an interview with Ram Dass. A Conversation with Ram Dass by David Ulrich 2017 for Parabola Magazine.

“The soul is not part of the incarnation. It comes into the incarnation. And the soul is not afraid of death because it has done it so many times. And now the ego is individual, and the world at this moment is ruled by nations which are egos. And I find, for example, that the United Nations is very ineffective. But then what would we substitute? We could substitute wise beings from different religions or different states—philosopher kings, if you will.

If you want oneness in society, you have to teach people to go inside instead of going outside, because if they want peace, they need to find it within. I remember being at a peace rally. Everybody was yelling, “PEACE PEACE!” That isn’t peace!  Peace is inside, in me and in everybody else. If you want peace, you go down in.”

 

Sometimes a visit to a catheral like the one in Bayeux can also bring you down into the heart. The tranquility and sacred atmosphere of this beautiful interior – once the crowds have left – can be felt. It is easy to sit down and breathe deeply and find that peace in the depths of your own sacred being. We stayed for three glorious days but three days is not enough to discover all the wonderful sites in this special Normandy town. Today I offer some of my photos of the elegant cathedral in Bayeux. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo is provided by the Calvados Tourist Office. Photo from the crypt.

 My photo was does not have the same clarity .

 

Remembering The Day In Puttaparthi – More Sathya Sai Memories

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I remember on the day Sathya Sai Baba left us five years ago, someone wrote these few words about how radiant Baba had been. Time and time again we were to read similar accounts from those who visited Sai Baba over the decades he gave darshan. So for the last time, I shall report these simple but beautiful words again.

 

“Baba’s face was radiant and his smile so beautiful. He was walking towards me. I could hear my heart pounding loudly in my chest as he came closer. Baba now stood close to me. My attention was focused on his lotus feet. As soon as the border of his orange robe exposed his feet, I stretched out and rested my head on them in a state of total surrender. My head lay on his feet  for a while. Baba then gently moved back and walked away.

Baba walked around the hall slowly, raising his hand in blessing now and then. After some time had passed, to my astonishment, I realized he was walking towards me again. He searched in the crowd, and when his eyes sought mine he stopped and stared. I noticed  his large penetrating pupils, they seemed to be the color of amber, I was  completely taken aback, stunned and dazed. I sat there dumbfounded, in a trance. When I regained my awareness, Baba had already left.  All the devotees were getting up and leaving.

On the journey back home, I was silent, I felt strange and tranquil.”

 

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Remembrance Day-By Terry Reis Kennedy

April 24, 2016

 

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The sun burst upon me like a blast of heat from a furnace as I stepped outside of my house, Sai Prem, on Coconut Grove. It was only 9 a.m. and my clothes were already dripping with sweat. I made my way towards the ashram in a daze of grief, of bliss, of ineffable mixed emotions.

I walked through the tiny streets of Puttaparthi town remembering how I used to run to the main road when word rustled through the air that Sai Baba was out in His car, on the way to visit the students, or His pet elephant Sai Gita, or patients at the hospital. I was crazed with joy seeing Him in His car. I was not the only one.

We hurled flowers at the windows, we touched the doors; we were Gopis and Gopikas that not even the police could stop. Swami loved our madness as He smiled out at us, sometimes even having the driver stop the car so He could have a word with someone. The blasting heat, the monsoon downpours, nothing could keep us away from Him. Before we had a cover over the mandir He would often stop the rain when He came out for Darshan. He loves us that much.

And today it is the same. It was the 5th anniversary of my Sat Guru, the Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s leaving—the day He chose to exit His body, a day the Hindu’s say, “He took Mahasamadhi”, meaning the day He returned to the Supreme Consciousness He is, the Great Quietude. In plain America English, He died. Yes, He is immortal. We are all immortal. But for me it was a day I felt pressed into a mold of mortality. Everything I’d lived for, been living for, seemed to have vanished.

Until I got home to my writing desk where I could record my thoughts, I felt barely part of the world as I had known it. Luckily there was a message from my editor at Bangalore’s Deccan Herald asking me to write a recollection of Sai Baba’s life and to have it done in two hours. Most of my professional life I’ve spent meeting deadlines. I was so relieved to have another deadline to meet. As I typed the remembrance I realized what a gift My Baba had given me….a deadline. But in this case it was a lifeline. By having to go to work, to be of use, to focus on readers that would be wanting the news of Swami’s passing, I felt purposeful. There was no time for crying.

Within hours of completing that news story millions of people from around the world were on their way to little Puttaparthi to say good bye to Sai Baba, the “man” who had changed the face of India and the world. The God we loved, the One Who had loved us beyond our understanding.

Today, five years later, He remains the same for me. As I continued on my way to the ashram the crowds grew thicker. I heard that 40,000 people were in Hill View Stadium eating their free breakfast provided by the Central Trust, Baba’s Trust, ensuring Swami’s devotees that nothing has changed for them. Puttaparthi town continues as before. Swami will never leave His home. He had promised us and He had promised His mother Easwaramma. The breakfast plates were also carried home to those who could not walk to the stadium. Everyone got fed, the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich.

As I neared the Ganesha Gate entrance, I saw that some people were going up Gopuram Road to the stadium and some were coming down carrying their gifts of saris and dhotis, heading towards the ashram. As I entered and passed through the security check I felt lighter, less hot. A slight breeze was turning the leaves and swaying the bougainvillea blossoms. Incense wafted towards me.

After hearing Swami’s discourse from years gone by I found myself smiling at the youngsters who smiled at me. “From which place did you come,” their perennial question made me happy. Though I have lived in Parthi for 25 years I told them the truth they wanted to hear. I replied, the United States of America. Oh, the USA one of them said, as if to let me know how informed she was.

In spite of the heat, in spite of the crowds I managed to get into the Ladies ‘side of the dining tent. And I was served a heaping plate of south Indian delicacies, foods of a region that I have come to love…slowly, very slowly. It was like an arranged marriage, Telugu country and me. First I found I could not adjust. But Mother Sai taught me how to accept the things I could not change, and to change the things I could—that meant transformation. I learned how to grow where I was planted.

Today, I heard a little voice inside me say, “Remember Who loves you, Baby.” And I remembered. Thank you, Bhagawan, for my life.

“I” Or “Me” Or “Mine” – Spirituality

Source Beauty Of the Arts
Source Beauty Of the Arts


The undisciplined mind is like an elephant so have suggested that, if we are to be genuinely happy, inner restraint is indispensable. We cannot stop at restraint, however. Though it may prevent us from performing any grossly negative misdeeds, mere restraint is insufficient if we are to attain that happiness which is characterized by inner peace.” ~ Dalai Lama quotation from Ancient Wisdom, Modern World

I am not ashamed of my very human responses to the painful and difficult things of life. I get angry, hurt, and despondent just like anyone. I do things that greatly embarrass me at times. I have plenty of shadow stuff to work on, just like anyone. But I have learned that *whatever* arises in my thought, and heart, is something that needs my attention, something that I need to look into, with curiosity, compassion, and loving-kindness.

It doesn’t really help to think, “I shouldn’t be thinking such thoughts or having such feelings.” It’s too late. You already did! These feelings or thoughts, which arise due to causes and conditions, we identify as “I” or “me’ or “mine.” And it does not help to deny it or to suppress the arising. Yes, sure, it’s a red flag, maybe even a neon sign flashing for immediate attention! The arising thought or feeling may point to some serious stuff. Our moral sense of the wrongness of something is *essential* to a healthy being. Never try to suppress or ignore your moral nigglings and alarms! But the first step to freedom is being honest enough with ourselves to admit the “truth” of what has shown up for our attention. And the “truth,” in this sense, is simply *what is* — yes, I am feeling this, yes, I felt that, yes, I am thinking this, yes, I thought that, yes I am doing this, yes, I did that. Just the facts, ma’am!

I find that genuine regret and remorse only arise when I am unmindful of some painful arising of feeling as “I” or “me” or “mine” and don’t give it what Buddhism calls “appropriate attention.” Some thoughts and feelings can be looked into and quickly dismissed; others may require deep self-investigation and courageous path-finding. If you really listen to your heart, you will know what to do.

But don’t ever be ashamed of being human and for having your human feelings. You can’t control the thoughts and feeling that arise as “I” or “me” or mine.” They come unbidden, whether we want them or not. And they tell us all about ourselves, sometimes more than we want, or even sometimes can bear. That’s OK! The good news is that what we can always own, and should own, is our *response* to what arises as “I” or “me” or “mine.” Let that response be mindful, attentive, curious, wise, patient, and compassionate.

Sometimes, we may think we are our own worst enemy, and I suppose in a certain sense that’s true, in that we cannot escape the effects of our own unskillful, selfish, ignorant thoughts and actions. But we are also our own very best friend, for everything we think and do tells us something about us we need to understand and know. If we will only get to know ourselves and investigate ourselves, we will indeed find we are our own very best friend. As we learn this, we become, as the Buddha once said, lamps unto ourselves, and the light in our hearts will take us all the way home.

Eve in Collusion with Steven G.

Breath Of The Greater Life –

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Amogasiddhi mandala (female aspect) Upper storey, Sumtsek, Alchi
 
“Just as a white summer cloud, in harmony with heaven and earth freely floats in the blue sky from horizon to horizon following the breath of the atmosphere – in the same way the pilgrim abandons himself to the breath of the greater life that… leads him beyond the farthest horizons to an aim which is already present within him, though yet hidden from his sight.”  -Lama Govinda

What does compassion mean? it means to be compassionate to all including self.For those of us striving to be more conscious in our actions, and perhaps, more spiritual, the task requires compassion as well. But compassion does not mean becoming a “door mat” for someone to walk all over you. Yet this is often the case.  Rather, compassion means creating a mental and emotional space in yourself to allow other people to be themselves, even if you don’t understand or agree with them. It’s not an easy task when faced with an ordeal in a relationship, or faced with fair-weather friends. Compassion does not, however, mean that we let others intrude into our emotional space. Nor does compassion mean that the others count  more than you. As we grow in spiritual strength, we may find that we are no longer comfortable with certain persons or lifestyles. They do not seem to fit in with our new lives . What seemed, at one time,  to be nourishing or at least neutral, is now perceived as toxic. We are no longer comfortable with our old ideals. We have moved on.

This sometimes happens with family members, spouses and friends. I am noticing that, for many of us, this phenomenon looks like it is increasing. One reason might be that people are less stable than before. They do not hold to old values as in years gone by. Perhaps it is because things are speeding up and more seems to be happening in less time. Perhaps it is simply the price of self-evolution. As we pass over a line in ourselves from unconscious to conscious (I should probably say semi-conscious, to be more exact), we may find ourselves having to set boundaries with past relationships. This can be very challenging to say the least. For those of us caught in this dilemma, I suggest,  the book  ‘The Way of the White Cloud.’  (see below) where we see all things and all situations as essentially devoid of substance. What appears to be very real at the moment becomes only a memory. The apparent solidity of things and the gravity of a situation is actually a mirage, an illusion. Buddhists call this samsara. And we are caught up in it by virtue of having an embodiment. The art of living, from this viewpoint, is to live and take action without getting caught up in the snares of the illusion.

-The Way of The White Cloud by Lama Anagarika Govinda

http://www.arya-maitreya-mandala.org/content/lamagovinda.htm

 

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Fresco painting of Tara (upper floors Tumtsek, Alchi)

 

 

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mandalanSumtsek 2nd storey. Centre of mandala.
Vairocana “The omniscient Lord’ (female aspect) (Alchi, 12th cent)

The Buddha of Great Compassion – Metta Teachings

http://web.singnet.com.sg/~alankhoo/Avalokitesvara.htm

The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion

The Sanskrit name “Avalokiteshvara” means “the lord who looks upon the world with compassion”.

Translated into Chinese, the name is “Kuan Shih Yin”or Quan Yin.

Kuan: observe
Shih: the world / the region of sufferers
Yin: all the sounds of the world, in particular, the crying sounds of beings, verbal or mental, seeking help

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering.

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is has great powers and can help all sentient beings.

His skilful means are limitless and he can appear in any form in all the six realms of existence to relieve the suffering of the sentient beings who live there. He vowed to rescue those who call on him when they are in suffering, for example, when caught in a fire, shipwrecked or facing an attack.

In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha said that if a suffering being hears the name of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and earnestly calls out to the bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara will hear the call and relieve that being from his suffering.

According to the Huayen Sutra, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into forms that suit the nature of those to be helped. His manifestations or transformation bodies are countless.

e.g. if a boy or girl is about to gain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into a boy or a girl to teach the child.

e.g. If a monk is about to attain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into a monk.

In short, he can appear as a monk, a nun, or a normal person like you and me. The purpose of such transformations is to make people feel close to him and willing to listen to his words.

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In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because of Kuan Yin’s great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine, most of the bodhisattva’s statues in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 – 907) have appeared as female figures. In India, however, the bodhisattva is generally represented as a male figure.

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In her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase with water or occasionally, a lotus flower.

The willow branch is used to heal people’s illnesses or bring fulfillment to their requests.

The water ( the dew of compassion) has the quality of removing suffering, purifying the defilements of our body, speech and mind, and lengthening life.

In Buddhist art, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is sometimes shown with eleven heads, 1000 hands and eyes on the palms of each hand (Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva). The thousand eyes allow the bodhisattva to see the sufferings of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow her to reach out to help them.

Sometimes, he is represented with one head and 4 arms. This is the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, worshipped by all Tibetans as “Chenrezig”, the Holder of the White Lotus. It is in the male form which has two hands in the praying gesture while the other two hands hold his symbols, the Crystal Rosary and the Lotus Flower.

There is a sacred place for the worship of Kuan Yin in China – the Putuo Mountain. It is actually an island located near the city of Ningpo, in Zhejiang Province. There are many stories of Kuan Yin’s miraculous appearances at Putuo Mountain.

Actually, anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don’t have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you lack skilful means, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands, you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring peace and tranquility to this world.

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The Mani Mantra (The Mantra of Universal Protection) : OM MANI PADME HUM

 

would like to add a great big thank you to those people who like – it helps me enormously to know just what you all like and would like to hear more about… thanks ~ 🙂

Compassion – Metta Teachings

I thought this might be interesting to you folks. I really enjoy the writings on “Metta,” Loving Kindness and like to add them to the blog from time to time.  This little piece says so much about  Compassion and how it can be achieved and that is by taking one small step at a time.


“Compassion is not a magical device that can instantly dispel all
suffering. The path of compassion is altruistic but not idealistic.
Walking this path we are not asked to lay down our life, find a
solution for all of the struggles in this world, or immediately rescue
all beings. We are asked to explore how we may transform our own
hearts and minds in the moment.

Can we understand the transparency of division and separation? Can we
liberate our hearts from ill will, fear, and cruelty? Can we find the
steadfastness, patience, generosity, and commitment not to abandon
anyone or anything in this world? Can we learn how to listen deeply
and discover the heart that trembles in the face of suffering?

The path of compassion is cultivated one step and one moment at a
time. Each of those steps lessens the mountain of sorrow in the
world.”

Pema Chodron – Buddhist Nun

photo source: Jeff Moore

Metta Or Loveliness – Metta Teachings

Metta embraces all beings and all conditions, without exception.

I have posted this you tube seveal times before, having enjoyed the chant. This is a newer you tube  but the  Metta chant is once again by Emee Ooi.


Metta, which can be translated from Pali as ‘love’ or ‘loveliness’ is the true nature of metta. Everything in the world can blossom and grow with the power of metta. When we look deep into our hearts and find our own  ‘metta,’ we can then open our hearts to all.  Metta is the first of the brahma-viharas, the seat of the heavenly abodes. The others are compassion, sympathetic joy or gladness and equanimity – all of these emotions steam from metta.

Metta refers to a strength of heart that can stay steady in the face of pleasant and unpleasant circumstances. Sometimes we may not feel warm-hearted, yet with deep commitment to no hatred and dedication to care for all beings we express loving kindness and the intention of good will in challenging circumstances.

What is the purpose of metta practice?

The Buddha first taught loving kindness to a small number of monks who were practising meditation  in a thick forest haunted by tree spirits. The monks were terrified of spirits and wanted to go somewhere else, but the Buddha  told them to stay, with instructions to cultivate metta. As the monks became skilled in metta, the tree spirits stopped their harassment  of the monks and began to appreciate their presence. They went so far as to serve the monks during their retreat. The Buddha had already told them  that he would protect them from all harm and he had. What actually happened, was the loving energy that vibrated from the meditating monks, had good results on the trees spirits, who were lifted by the beauty of the peacefulness.  The Buddha’s ministry continued with excellent results in metta.  He taught metta to a wide variety of students and in a number of distinct situations. He taught metta as a method for gladdening the mind, as a way of strengthening concentration, as an offering of generosity, as a way of meeting both verbal and physical abuse, as a way of overcoming fear and as a way of living in concord in community. Metta is a heartful practice that serves profound purposes.

Tibetan hanging painting symbolising a state of exalted consciousness, surrounded by subsidiary states.

(c.1800 Gouache on cloth.)

The bud

stands for all things,

even those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on the brow

of the flower,

and retell it in words and in touch,

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.

–Galway Kinnell

 

I have to thank Sharon Salzberg for this poem. It appears in her book ‘Loving Kindness’