This is part two of the adventures in Advaita Vedanta... will you travel with me a while?

Saturday Satsang

 Hari OM

Some words from the MasterSwami Chinmayanandaji was a renowned saint. 

Once, a 'secular' minded journalist, who generally showed Hinduism in poor light, vis a vis other religions, asked a question to Swamiji:

Q: Who is the founder of Islam?
A: Prophet Mohammad.
Q: Who is the founder of Christianity?
A: Jesus Christ.
Q: Who is the founder of Hinduism?

Thinking that Swamiji has no answer,
the lady journalist proceeded: There is no
founder and hence, Hinduism is not a religion or Dharma at all.

A: Then, Swamiji said: You are right. Hinduism is not a religion. It is a Science.

She did not understand that.

Swamiji put some more questions to her.
Q: Who is the founder of Physics?
A: No one person.
Q: Who is the founder of Chemistry?
A: No one person.
Q: Who is the founder of Biology?
A: No single person. Many many persons, from time to time, contributed to the wealth of knowledge of any Science.

Swamiji continued:
Hindu Dharma is a Science, developed over the centuries, contributed by saints and sages for giving the right direction to society. Islam has only one book -Quran. Christianity has only one book -Bible. But for Hinduism, I can take you to a library and show you hundreds of books.
Hence, Hinduism is a scientific religion- called Sanatana Dharma - Eternal Dharma.

Words Beginning With... Z

zaiNt> zaiNt> zaiNt>
OM… ShaantiH-shaantiH-shaantiH
Aatman… peace, peace, peace

The three repetitions of peace are to be concentrated on separately as "may there be peace in our bodies/speech/mind as we reach for Aatman." The 'sh' here is one of three 'ess' sounds in Sanskrit, each a little harder than the other. This is the 'hardest' being pronounced with the tongue full on the back of the teeth and held a little flat. Think 'zebra'. That's the closest and is why this is appearing here.

This is chanted at the end of prayers, at the end of puja worship, as a prayer in its own right and as a blessing to others. It is a fitting close to the A-Z month.

The challenge held within these thirty days was, for me, to present a flow of deep and meaningfuls, a place to ponder in a more considered way. 

In this closing stage, I feel it important to impress upon the reader that, whilst there are rites and vigils and other such things associated with religious activity, Advaita itself is precisely what it purports to be and is not a religion per se. It is a tool for assessment and practice by which we can see our condition and do something to improve it. One of the great joys for me in taking it on to advanced levels is that it allowed me to return to Biblical scriptures with a fresh and critical eye and gain so much more than I ever believed possible. Advaita belongs to no institution and can be freely applied by all. There are advocates for Advaita Vedanta in the faiths of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. None lose by its study. There is only gain.

We all have within us the potential for a 'Damascan' experience. Whether we are ready for that or not depends upon our karma, our praarabdha and our guna. If we do have such an experience, it is almost impossible to convey the sense of the profound and Divine. As I commented on another lady's blog in response to her 'Damascan' reveal; "When we receive revelation, much of the world is too ready to be scared and condemn. We who are listening will always find the path to Him which suits us best. For some, that may be Catholicism, for others Methodism, or Mormonism; but equally those of Islam and Sanatana Dharma. What is important is to always be listening to that Higher which we call God. Problems arise when there are claims of “only” and “my”… All faiths practiced well are joyous and freeing to the spirit, and the participants condemn no other."

Thank you all for sharing this month of letters with me. Love and Blessings,

Words Beginning With... Y

Yaatraa - journey, expedition, way...pilgrimage

Let me put it to you, dear readers, that we have been on a yaatraa together, you and I. Through what country? To what destination? Through a few words of the Sanskrit language and the meanings that can be brought out from them. Through the territory known as Advaita Vedanta. Departing from the akshara Akara and landing here at the penultimate post, the last 'sleep' before reaching the goal of this particular sojourn. Today, fellow travellers, we reach the letter 'Y' according to the English alphabet—the akshara Yakara.

The Sanskrit alphabet, known as Devanagari, is longer (even longer if all archaic forms are used) than the English, so there was no danger of running short of a route to traverse. It has been a typographical yaatraa. Devanagari also runs in different sound order, but it matters not to take a more circuitous route, enjoying the scenery along the way. When we pause here for breath and look back, does not the picture start to form, the landscape and its undulations make sense?

Those of a tamasika nature would look at the 'way' and perhaps make a few steps, but they will readily find distractions, furnish excuses for not continuing. Let them be. They need the dark nooks and crannies for now.

Those of rajasika quality will be determined to travel, but it will not be done comfortably or without complaint. Some straights will be fine, along with the occasional downhill and slow corner… but oh, those hills—so many hills to climb within ourselves. There may be argy-bargy, questions tossed, even some barbs thrown. "Why are we doing this again?" Eyebrows knitted, shoulders knotted, muscles tensed and heads throbbing. Mostly though, they will stick through, just in case there's something in it for them.

The sattvikas are gently finding their footing. They are pulled along by the allure and promise of something truly worth the finding. Our own True Self. They will have been seeing land which looked and felt familiar yet was presented in a different light. The realisation of the common threads, complimenting or even obliterating the differences.

"What's this?" you are asking, "Yamini-amma's rocker is fully off the porch now!"

No, dear ones, a yaatraa is not only for the legs and lungs. One might say it is not even for… rather, it is for the mind, intellect and the essential "I". Walking established routes to places designated sacred is an excellent exercise, but they are designed to make us overcome the body and, ultimately, that monkey mind, the judgmental intellect and the ailing spirit. They do help us to focus on our saadhana - our daily devotional practice and contemplation. For those with good fitness, there could be some attempt at yaatraa in its common application.

Where to then?
For the Christians, there is the Camino de Santiago.
Though the Eastern Orthodox church has other choices.
Other Christian places to go… and there is also the Mormon Trail.
For the Jews, there are the Pilgrimage Festivals.
Muslims can take the Hajj to Mecca.
Zoroastrians have the Yazd and Six Pirs.
The Baha"i have a list too.
Buddhists may choose The Astamahapratiharya.
Sikhs will always include a visit to the Darbar Sahib, among other sites.
In Australia, the Aboriginal families 'walk the songlines'.

For Hindus, yaatraa can be walking to the nearest mandir (temple). There are lots designated as especially sacred. However, many folk make plans for the Himalayan yaatraa called the 'Char Dham' - the four holiest abodes. Take it from one who has walked many lands, to walk in the Himalaya is to know something other than land, or sky or ocean or air… There are countless places on this Blessed and Beautiful globe that can embrace you, hold you still and return you refreshed and ready for more life. There is only one place where it is possible to touch Heaven as it reaches down and touches you.

That doesn't mean one cannot have a full and meaningful journey sitting in one's own living room! Again, take it from one who has experienced, it is entirely possible to travel on your own floor. All that is required is an empty mind, a full heart and quashed ego—total surrender and supplication. Make a yaatraa into the core of you. You may be surprised at what you discover.  

Words Beginning With... X

Kshaama - forgiveness
(There is no 'x' in Sanskrit - 'ksh' is the closest sound.)

This post is connected with a reference to forgiveness made in the "Q" for Kharu post. Please note, the first part of this post was written on a different blog and in the context of a regular feature at that time, "The Hindertwig Tales." In 2018 the day conveniently fell for the writing of the 'fable'...


Low Sooz was brazen. Hill Bert had no idea she had it in her. There was a bit of him which started to wonder. Did she have her own agenda in rising through the ranks? Each night, though, she returned to him on their favourite patch of froth moss, and he was reassured. She was his great love, and he could imagine no other.

Every time, Low Sooz requested his forgiveness. There came the day he wondered at this.

“What to forgive, Soozma? We have agreed on this action between us.”

“Yes, my sweet, but if I do not ask your forgiveness each day, I fear I will never be able to forgive myself. That would lead to forgetfulness, and our road would be fraught with mud and fog.”

“Well!” he declared in return, “again, I am reminded how very wise you are. You are the Master of the art of Hinderness!”

“Master? Surely you mean mistress?”

“No, my sweet. Until we have something to add to the language, I mean Master. I do not believe there is any who can better you. You are equal to all, yet stand apart. I do not only love you, Soozma; I am in awe of you.” He paused, gazing into her luminous eyes. “Soozma, whatever it is that we must do, we do because there is a greater call. Our leader has asked it of us. You will not require my forgiveness, but I give it anyway. Forgiving ourselves… well, that may be harder, the deeper this play takes us. You are right to not let us forget. Forgive whilst things are small, or we may not be able to forgive at all. Is it not so?”

Low Sooz gleamed. Her smile was so gentle, and the look in her eye so understanding. Hill Bert thought that if he never woke tomorrow, heaven could not be this fine.

"Yes, Hillbee… but then to forgive would be greater still."

© Yamini Ali MacLean 2018

It can be tough to rise above our ego-self both to ask and to say sorry. Please think about this, however... Forgiveness, if applied, does heal. However, if pain continues or worsens, then forgiveness has not been applied, only words spoken. 

Just as there is capital 'ell' Love, there is also True Forgiveness. No grudge held, no festering, no revenge plotted. If we learn to say 'it's okay, I forgive you',' without it being in our hearts and minds, we are not only misleading the forgiven but damaging ourselves as the forgiver. Conversely, if we learn to say sorry for the small things each day, with genuine intent, knowing how to seek forgiveness, we can also find it in ourselves to forgive daily. Our 'forgiveness muscle' gets good exercise so that when the real test comes, we can find that space in our hearts to ask and to give forgiveness. 

Forgetting is not a required part of forgiveness. However, if forgiveness has truly taken place, the remembering can be viewed as if on a screen; the incident may be unpleasant but can not directly affect us. True Forgiveness releases bonds of the past no matter how strong or how tenuous. Only then can we start afresh. 

Learning to properly seek and give forgiveness is one of the most empowering things you will ever do for yourself.

Words Beginning With... W


Sanskrit does not have a 'w'; however, the letter 'vakara' is here softened, with the lips more together and less tooth on lip, giving something approximate to 'wvuh'. 

As it has been the underlying philosophy of these A-Z explorations, it seems appropriate to define the subject a little more specifically. Vedanta, as was mentioned previously, is translated as 'end of knowledge'. One learns, however, that it is actually an all-pervasive knowledge when researched to the fullest. In reaching that 'end', it all comes round to the beginning...if one subscribes to Advaita.

There are six schools of philosophy in Sanatana Dharma (the more correct name for what is generally referred to as Hinduism), of which Vedanta is one. Within Vedanta, there are further variances of understanding.

DVAITA; Dualism. We are we, and God is God, and the two remain separate. The senior guru of this school of thought is Madhavaachaarya. Even on reaching moksha, the jiivas remain separate from perfection, which is the Paramaatman. Divinity can only be Brahman's.

ADVAITA; Non-Dualism. All this is That, and That is All this. Adi Shankaracharya is the acknowledged propagator of this philosophy. This is the oldest school of Vedanta, and it states that Brahman is the only reality and the world is illusory (Maya). Ignorance of this Reality causes suffering, and liberation can be obtained only by True Knowledge of Brahman. It states that both the individual self and Brahman are the same, and knowing this causes liberation. The quintessence of Shankara’s philosophy is Brahman alone is real; this world is unreal, and the individual soul is non-different from Brahman. At no time are we anything but Brahman; we just have to rediscover this for ourselves. We are Divinity.

VISHISTAADVAITA; "Unique" non-Dualism - version falling between dvaita and Advaita. Ramanuja acharya proposed this model. It is a qualified monism; God and the individual souls are inseparable, just like the fire and spark. In liberation, though the jiiva understands Paramatman, it does not merge into It, thus keeping Brahman separate at the final stage. The Divine Life can be lived, but Divinity is Brahman's alone.

Words Beginning With... V

ivvek vEraGy
Viveka, vairaagya; discrimination and detachment

Each of the words presented in A-Z here has related to ‘Vedantic saadhana' (practice). It is immensely practical and as pertinent to life now as it was millennia past. We can all use words or phrases to make life more positive for ourselves, regardless of where we are on our life path.

For the serious student, there are some very succinct ‘codes’ in the Saadhana Chatushtayato give the names of the four practices, they are, Viveka, Vairaagya, Samadhi-shatka-sampatti and Mumukshatvam. The latter refers to the fact that the seeker, to progress with these saadhanas, requires having such determination, such fervour, it's as if their hair is on fire. Have a sense of urgency in spiritual research! The penultimate saadhana has a clue in its name that it is split into a further six categories; shama (control of thoughts), dama (control of senses), uparati (withdrawal - keeping oneself to oneself), titiksha (forbearance, fortitude), shraddha (faith - not blind belief, but trust in the Higher) and samadhaana (contemplative turn of mind in daily activity).

Before engaging in the more 'nitty-gritty' parts of saadhana, it is necessary to understand why one would follow this particular path and how best to do it.

Viveka is the application of upayoga, plus lots of raising doubts, questioning, to discern the Real from the UnReal. In Vedantic terms, this means seeing the world/Maya for the illusion that it is and seeing only Brahman everywhere, in, through, around every rock, creature and human being. Viveka doesn't get caught up in small talks, gossips, flights of fancy. It sees clearly and cannot be tricked.

Vairaagya supports viveka by endeavouring to loosen attachments to the material. This is not to say that one must become cold and unemotional. Not at all. However, it is the control of one's emotions that allows the mind to move cleanly through troublesome times. There is no useful purpose served in wailing and gnashing of teeth; those things can be cathartic, but they must not be allowed to overwhelm and muddy the waters of discernment. Learning the art of self-containment is what vairaagya is about.

When V&V are in harmony, the shatka-sampatti readily can be applied and further support the purpose of viveka, reaching towards the goal of Unity with Self.

What use is this to the regular reader here, you who have so willingly come along for this ride? Thinking a little more about what is worth investing your time in and what is not; prioritising the importance of things - for so much of what goes on in life really doesn't matter - no, it really doesn't. Learning to keep emotions in check is a lifetime's work but is worth attempting. We can have feelings, but expressing them appropriately in place and time is a skill that can be developed. It will serve well - whether or not one is taking up a spiritual and devotional activity.

Words Beginning With... U

%pyaeg, %pin;d!, %TpilnI
Upayoga - analysis; Upanishad; Utpalinii - lotus

As we enter the A-Z challenge's final stretch, it is timely to look at how to approach philosophy, a vital part of the Vedantic philosophical literature and a significant symbol used by many Eastern philosophies.

UPA - is the prefix to the first two words; unsurprisingly, it means 'up'. More widely, it is 'higher', 'above' and other related words.

YOGA - this has become one of the 'usurped' words, like karma. Ashtanga yoga - the exercise discipline -  is familiar to almost everyone, but it relates specifically to the physical. Philosophy is taught with it, to varying degrees, but most practitioners are merely interested in the immediacy of the physical.

More correctly, 'yoga' means 'path' or 'way'. In terms of the Bhagavad Gita, where each chapter is called 'yoga', it refers to teachings of life's ideal. It, therefore, pertains to the pursuit of knowledge. In the case of ashtanga, it is, then, 'pursuit of knowledge of the eight parts (of the body)'.

Upayoga is to apply one's higher thinking faculty to the pursuit of understanding - in short, to analyse, to use logic.

It was one of the great attractions of Advaita Vedanta for yours truly that there was no spoon-feeding or doctrinal page-thumping. On the contrary, the challenge was to keep up with one's own thinking and intellectual prowess. It was demanded. One of Gurudev's favourite jibes at the end of exploring a text or part thereof was, "THINK!" Often, during the course at Sandeepany, we would find ourselves being stretched further, not quite believing that we had any 'little greys' left to activate! More than once, this phrase circulated within this student; "just when I thought I had my best thought thunk, along came more thinking, and that thought was sunk."  No matter how often a thing is repeated, regardless if you have heard the tale before, if you are genuinely listening, are fully open, you will always find something new, something more profound, something you missed.

NISHAD - to draw near. If left open as 'nishada', it refers to a musical note. It can also be a mountaineer. It is not unwarranted in reference to spiritual research, for it can sometimes feel like climbing a mental Everest! The Upanishads are part of the triumvirate of source texts for Advaita Vedanta. Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras and Upanishads. 

The name carries clues as to their purpose; 'draw close to the Higher'. They are found in the final sections of each of the four Vedas and might be considered (loosely) as the 'New Testament' of Hindu practice. The term 'Vedanta' literally means 'knowledge ending'. In gaining this Knowledge, all other knowledge becomes homogenous. When one reads the Upanishads, all other scriptures open up as if new to one. However, not everyone can approach these writings and gain from them as intended. Thus, the Bhagavad Gita offers the same wisdom in a form more accessible to the reader with a more pressing need. (For the interested, this book set is highly recommended - Indian residents, check here. There are also CDs and DVDs of Gurudev's discourses on the Gita.)

UTPALINII - there are very many words for the lotus in Sanskrit. It is so that one can picture the plant in its various parts and presentations. In this case, it refers to the whole plant, from root to bloom and can be used about lotus grouping. Why is the lotus so prominent a symbol?

It represents the epitome of overcoming odds despite living in a swampy, dark, dingy, smelly mire. Its broad leaf repels all that falls upon it - an example of how to let troubles drop from our shoulders; its tall stem brings the bloom far above the gloom - an example of how reaching to the Higher can give us a clearer point of view; and its beautiful blossom is the promise and result of efforts made to rise above - an example of how seeking the Higher Self can result in a blossoming of our inner being, which does not worry itself from where it came, only that it can bask in The Light. What is more, the lotus does all this quietly, uncomplaining, with grace and charm.

Whatever our lot, remember the lotus. Become the lotus.

Words Beginning With... T

Tamas - darkness

We all have tamasik phases in our lives, but one notable time that can be generalised is our teenage years. Few escape it.

Rebellious to authority, indolent and entirely self-absorbed. Seeing the dark side of everything and struggling to see the positive. Seeking to live only through the senses and desires. Tamasik-dominant personalities contribute little to society. They are the vice-prone, easily-led characters looking for cheap thrills to escape real life and work as little as possible to gain as much as they can. There is no caring and sharing in this personality trait. This is why it was said earlier that it is difficult to think of this as a 'virtue' as per the term 'guna'. However, it is karma at play, and the jiiva is learning lessons, experiencing consequences and furthering itself along the greater course of karma, which is a virtue for sure. The quality of tamas is, of itself, certainly not virtuous!

To have a 'slob day' every now and then is fine. Have a weekend without showering, cooking or even getting dressed. It can relieve tension… but consider instead having a sattvik weekend, where you seek to raise the vibration for release from stresses by walking in nature, reading a good book, share good conversation, instead of sinking into self-pity and sloth. The danger of tamas is that it captures us and holds, making it difficult to withdraw. It is easy. On the other hand, Sattva requires discipline and effort, and unless we can see the value, it does not hold us. After a sattvik weekend, though, we generally find ourselves refreshed and ready for another week of whatever the world throws at us. If we have sunk into tamas, we are rarely revived, often hung-over from one thing or another. We do not feel good about ourselves.

Tamas has a propensity for foul entertainments such as 'slash movies' and horror/terror in general, "reality" tv, and disturbing music. It will look for mind-altering substances and make inferior food choices.

Fast food delivery is certainly convenient. They are addictive, however, and we need to assess the quantity we are consuming. We may not realise it, but a predominantly tamasik diet can make us angry and greedy, can even affect our decision-making process for the worse and compromise our judgments. 

To raise ourselves from the tamas, we need to incorporate more rajas. To lift ourselves from rajas, we need to integrate more sattva. Sattva and tamas, to the casual eye, can look very similar. Both will not be particularly interactive with the world. However, the difference will be that sattva sits straight and alert, even in meditation, whilst tamas stoops and sleeps in meditation. Sattva misses nothing; tamas misses much. When something needs to be done, sattva will act accordingly. Tamas won't even see the need.

Tamas is represented by the colour black.

Words Beginning With... S

Sattva - spiritual essence, vitality, courage, existence… (long list!)

The simplest way to describe sattvika nature is 'pure'.  Every single one of us is born sattvik. Then the sanchita karma kicks in and determines whether we retain that or have to work through our vaasanas in the state of rajas or tamas. Regardless of our current state, if we are not already in a sattva-predominant nature, then we can make efforts to reach there.

What is sattva, and why would we want to be it? The sattvika personality knows how to be still, how to be quiet. Sattva is cheerful and accepting, content and unperturbed. It can see the troubles of the world but does not carry them. It moves only when necessary, takes only what is required, seeks to return more than was taken. Sattva is capital 'ell' Love; it is compassion and the ability to provide a haven for the hurt and needy. Sattva is serene, watchful, has no desire beyond spiritual gain. Sattva is clear about what is "I" and what is not. It knows how to be in the world but not of it. There is both detachment and clarity. We can all find a bit of the sattva within us at times, but to be classed as sattva personality, it needs to be instinctively and predominantly present.

How do we work towards more sattva in our lives? Less careless living; instead, listening to uplifting music, reading fine literature and philosophy, films which carry a message of high human values. Embracing the quiet; appreciating nature, little moments with friends and family, learning to make appropriate boundaries between work and self-time, keeping better company. Taking up self-improvement; be prepared to self-assess without ego, spend time with ourselves to do that, watch for the excuses as to why not…

Then there is the diet, which should consist of foods that are nourishing, soothing and help sharpen the mind, making it more aware and active. Sattvik foods are vegetarian and eaten in moderate amounts.

In fact, what reads as Sattvika can often look like the food pyramid that health centres might distribute. Many countries now understand the need to eat better quality and less quantity, and of more vegetable and pulses, and encourage their citizens to this… but it is essentially the ayurvedic diet and has been around for millennia. Nothing new under the sun!

To be sattvik is to walk upon the earth lightly, to be ahimsa. It is represented in the colour white, in which all colours unify.

Words Beginning With... R

Rajas - restlessness

In the post on the Gunas, there was a little array of meanings, the last of which was "virtue". This pertains more specifically to today's subject. The trigunas are often spoken of in Vedanta. The three dominant qualities of the personality also applied to certain things and their effects upon that personality. They are generally referred to in unison, sattva-rajas-tamas. Due to the flow of the alphabet, today we shall look at the middle of the three. This is fine because it is the one with which the greater number of folk can identify.

Let it be said at the outset that all of us have all three qualities, and in any given situation, from one day to the next, we can fluctuate to some degree with how they present. However, there will always be one of the three which is the primary quality of our life. This leads to our being described according to our dominating guna.

Rajas and Tamas may not necessarily be thought of as virtues, particularly the latter. However, these temperaments are to be considered concerning one's karma, and anything which provides for our learning may be regarded as a virtue.

What, then, does it mean to be rajasic? The short-form translation gives a good point. It points to the personality who must always be doing something - or being seen to be always doing something. Without rajas as part of our makeup, nothing would get done. It's the get-up-and-go virtue. In its positive aspects, it keeps us keeping on. Rajas needs to be active, and the most obvious activity is to work. Be that housework, career and employment, hobbies, volunteering, pioneering, planning… rajas is on the run. It likes to be involved and has a strong sense of duty. Some amount of rajas is necessary to be goal-oriented and fund the determination to reach that goal. Rajas is the acquisitive personality - what's in it for 'me'; acquire, build, retain. The world leaders will all have rajas dominance in their personality if they are to be successful.

What has to be watched, though, is that our rajasik nature doesn't fall into egoism. The trouble with having to act in the world is that we can become attached to it and have expectations of outcomes in relation to those actions. Rajas can become domineering, bullying, demanding. It can have a sense of being always in the right and brook no opposition or countenance any possibility of a different perspective. Rajas can become inflexible and kharu.

Rajas is what most of us see in the transactional part of our lives. Without an element of tamas, the personality can become tiresome and overbearing. Without sattva tempering both those things, there can be no real compassion or softness, no stillness and quietness. Rajas is required to survive in the world, but if it is the dominant guna, the personality bearing it can become worn out, exhausted, sick, depressed. Rajasika-dominant personalities must take care of diet and rest, and recreation to balance themselves. There will be a tendency for those of rajasik nature to live fast and play hard. Their diet is likely to consist of items that boost and stimulate. None of which is majorly problematic if one is in full interaction with work and exercise - but of course, it is the usual rule that moderation is best. Even a sattvika person will take some rajasik foods when needed for a mental and physical boost. For rajas to be useful but not destroying, it needs to be balanced, and the best way to do this is to encompass more of the sattva into life.

Rajas is represented by the colour red.

Words Beginning With... Q

Kharu - cruel, harsh, foolish, desirous of improper or forbidden things (covetousness)
'kh' is the closest to 'q' in the Devanagari script.

Whatchya say?
Why use such a word here? When discussing self-improvement methodologies and philosophy, there can be a tendency to focus on the 'up'. Positive affirmation and all that. That's great and appropriate, but something I experienced when I committed fully to Vedantic practice was the bringing in of the negative.

The swamis and sadhus can be most loving and supportive, but when they see that one is truly on the path, they will surprise one - nay, ambush! - so that the grime and untouched corners of one's being get properly cleaned. It can seem most harsh - (says the ego).

It is a simple fact known by all who have seriously attempted any form of self-development program that the negatives have to be faced. Think housework; unless you take out the rubbish, the house will, eventually, start to stink, and no amount of incense or proprietary perfumed sprays are going to cover it. Politically, we can point to all the positives that have developed to create a society, but all too readily avert our eyes and minds from the battles with the dark side and the costs to some areas to benefit others. This can only go on for so long before it all becomes a festering mess.

We all have kharu in us, but not all of us can recognise it and make amends for it. Even in the small day-to-day things; the harsh word to the loved one at the end of a tiring day, the silly joke that backfired on our colleagues, the jealousy we felt when someone else got something we wanted ourselves. You know it - sorry is the hardest word. To ask for forgiveness is, for many people, a submissive thing. It means quashing the ego, and it can be almost impossible for some.

Forgiveness will be addressed a little more in a later post, but it is important to know that it exists and that it is an empowering thing - not just to ask for it but also to give it. It greatly helps in overcoming the kharu at all levels.

The whole world can seem to be driven by kharu. How to counteract it? As always, it comes back to the individual. Each must ensure that they are as clear and unobstructed in their personalities as it is possible to be. If that means coming face to face with the hard facts of who we are, so be it. Brushing things into a corner, pulling the curtains over the facts of history, only leads to the potential for 'time bombs'. Almost without fail, life will find a way to shine the torch on those corners, to pull back the curtains, and if we have not prepared ourselves, it will hurt.

Sometimes, we are the bearers of truth in a situation that has been obfuscated with others' interpretations of events or their investment in who they want us to be (versus who we are). We then receive their kharu upon us. The hurt felt has to be measured against our ego; is there some truth in what they feedback to us? Is there anything worth the effort of correction? Are they totally missing the point, and is it time to move on? Are they even directing cruelty specifically at us, or are we, in our ego, taking it upon ourselves when it has nothing to do with us?!

It's a complicated business, this becoming whole, congruent human beings. When faced with the aachaarya who keeps demanding 'who are you?', it is only when we can face the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, warts, kharu and all, that we can respond even remotely close to who we actually are.

Words Beginning With... P

Preman - affection, fondness, joy, kindness, tender regard

Love - with the capital 'ell' - is the Universal Love, unconditional, unselfish, unstinting. It seeks no reward, no kudos, has no expectation of receipt. Preman is Pure Love and even in the worldly plain, holds no strings, makes no demands, states no ownership, and is a bottomless well of compassion, affection and kindness.

To apply prem in our daily life, we need to be secure within ourselves and clear about our understanding of Love of the capital variety. It is a commodity that is often taken for granted. The mistake is to think it abundant. It is certainly freely available, but the ability to tap into it and work with it and live it… well, takes some doing.

Even the noblest of people can get lost in the myriad other connotations of love. The love that permeates the world in all sorts of guises and can as often be nothing more than lust, jealousy, anger, greed, and so on, all dressed up with a cherry on top to fool the unsuspecting and the needy.

Needy, yes. All of us, every single one of us, wish to be loved - but what that is to us is as individual as ourselves. There is the expectation of something coming our way - even among the most giving of us. Almost certainly, we all know of at least one person about whom it is said they have such love to give but who seek attention through that love, or control, or drama… indeed 'love' is the most abundant emotion we have available to us. Yet, it is the most abused, misused and discarded.

In fact, for many, the idea that a Love which makes no request of them, which has no expectation that they can return it, is as alien as the atmosphere of Venus. They have learned that there is always a cost, a charge, for love, and they expect to pay it. They can be suspicious of motives, be greatly in fear of it, and seek to second-guess the bearer of Love.

So demeaning has been the experience of love, by some, so sceptical have they become, that there is a refusal to believe such an Unadulterated Love can exist. This is beyond sad.

Those of us who can, who have seen, felt and experienced the capital 'ell' Love have a duty to vibrate and spread it to the world. In thoughts, words or deeds, whichever is appropriate and of which we are capable.

There is room, though, to ask the Parent to listen, to cry in His Ear...

My prayer is that all can come into the embrace of Prem, that all will feel its healing and be lifted.

Words Beginning With... O

A.U.M. The primordial sound. "O"rigin.

 मृ॒त्युरा॑सीद॒मृतं॒  तर्हि॒  रात्र्या॒ अह्न॑ आसीत्प्रके॒तः।
आनी॑दवा॒तं स्व॒धया॒ तदेकं॒ तस्मा॑द्धा॒न्यन्न प॒रः किञ्च॒नास॑॥२॥
Then there was neither death nor immortality
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.

को अ॒द्धा वे॑द॒  इ॒ह प्र वो॑च॒त्कुत॒ आजा॑ता॒ कुत॑ इ॒यं विसृ॑ष्टिः।
अ॒र्वाग्दे॒वा अ॒स्य वि॒सर्ज॑ने॒नाथा॒ को वे॑द॒ यत॑ आब॒भूव॑॥६॥
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

इ॒यं विसृ॑ष्टि॒र्यत॑ आब॒भूव॒ यदि॑ वा द॒धे यदि॑ वा॒ न।
यो अ॒स्याध्य॑क्षः पर॒मे व्यो॑म॒न्त्सो अ॒ङ्ग वे॑द॒ यदि॑ वा॒  वेद॑॥ ७॥
Whence all creation had its origin,
whether it was fashioned  or whether it was not,
He, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
He knows - or maybe even does not know.
( excerpts; Rg Veda 10;129)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
(John 1 KJV)

All languages of the planet have a sound, and most have a graphic form (letter) for 'a'. Sound is formed in the larynx and can only ever start with this expression. "A" represents the spark, the beginning. As sound moves through the mouth, it reverberates in the palate and becomes more of the 'oo' sound. This is the sustenance of sound, the continuation of the universe. As the sound exits the mouth, the lips close gently around and cut it off. The lips cause the sound of 'mm' and represent the destruction of that sound, leading into the fourth state, which is an apparent silence (turiiya), during which the inwards breath is taken for the renewal of sound to take place.

Made up of the movement of sound in the mouth, given three letters, the sound is homogenised as OM.

In Hindu philosophy, it is accepted that the Rsis of ancient times, in their enormous capacity for meditation, heard the sound of the universe, the reverberation of shrishti - that which we perceive as creation. In recent times, the 'silence' of the cosmos has been broken as science catches up. The Rsis understood physics, the unseen particles which modulate, coagulate, create, remain, disintegrate and recycle. They understood the importance of sound in the process of generation.

There are many ways to view the power and substance of the cosmos. Many refer to That as 'God'. It's as good a word as any but comes with the inherent problem of keeping that power and substance separate from us. The majority of the population who subscribe to spiritual faith do so with a view of 'God' as something other (dvaitam/dualism). In what form is not relevant. The point is that it is challenging to comprehend a Formless, Immutable, Eternal Presence with which we are integrated. Our limited selves need the comfort of form and circumscribed function. Mankind, therefore, created the 'gods later than creation'.

That, from which all this arose, had-has-will never have form. That which 'breathed' and created the first sound and, by default, vibration, set in motion this which we call creation. OM was the first sound, the opening word, and that word became 'God'.

OM is still not That; it is only the breath of That. That sits in the turiiya, the silence beyond the breath. All this (us, world, cosmos) sits there also. The purpose of meditating upon the OM is to find our way to turiiya and then to moksha. Re/Union with the Self - Realisation of The One, (advaitam/non-dualism = singularity).

What's that you say? Can't do it? Fearful? All tosh?

No worries. I was there once. Secure in what I knew. Then came the time where what I knew couldn't help me. The time comes when one is stripped so naked inside, the universe opens and swallows - and everything 'known' becomes nothing. The jiiva, separated from That, keeps manifesting physical forms until it reconnects.  Thus it might, in one life, completely deny anything beyond the physical, what can be seen and touched. In another life, it may start to comprehend something a little more, but it will be 'charismatic' and filled with a level of dream and fantasy. Then there will be lives of seeking, but still missing the connections… then will come the life where all the dots get joined. All lives, all paths are valid to the jiiva on its journey back 'ome.

OM waits for those ready to return. Even if they never knew they'd departed.