Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

28 October 2007

The Seven Deadly Sins

Jyotish recognizes seven "grahas" (otherwise known to English speakers as the sun, the moon, and the five classical planets). One can map various virtues to each graha, as done before in this blog:
The Sun represents the causal soul and the virtue of faith (astikya).
The Moon represents the emotional mind and the virtue of contentment (santosha).
Mercury represents the discriminative/intellectual mind and the virtue of wisdom (prajna).
Venus represents the energic/pranic body and the virtue of love (agape-karuna)....

Mars represents physical actions and the virtue of vigor (virya).
Jupiter represents the site of enjoyment (rasa) and the virtue of generosity (dana).
Saturn represents the site of dissatisfaction (dukkha) and the virtue of temperance (tapas).
It would be even more useful if the grahas could be linked to vices, as well. The seven deadly vices (from the Christian tradition) are helpful here:
The Sun represents the virtue of faith and the vice of pride.
The Moon represents the virtue of contentment (or happiness) and the vice of envy.
Mercury represents the virtue of wisdom and the vice of intellectual greed.
Venus represents the virtue of love and the vice of sensual lust.
Mars represents the virtue of vigor and the vice of hatred.
Jupiter represents the virtue of generosity and the vice of material gluttony.
Saturn represents the virtue of temperance and the vice of sloth.
Each person's astrological chart is dominated by a graha or two, indicative of the person's characteristic virtues and corresponding vices.

21 October 2007

Inherit the Winds of Katrina

There's an interesting situation down in Louisiana: Bobby Jindal has just been elected governor.

What makes this interesting is Jindal's position on Intelligent Design in the schools.

The Logic of Illusion

The Advaita school of Vedanta, and the Wujudiyyah school of Sufism, both teach that existence is not-two, or not-more-than-one. In simple terms, all is God.

The idea that all is God is quite logical, given certain commonly accepted definitions of God. If God is truly "infinite" in all ways, then God is indeed not simply "in all" or "everywhere", but simply "all". All of this is God, utterly and indubitably. Whatever is not apparently "God" is, thus, not really real; it is false and an illusion.

Does this mean that the world in which we live, should be thought of as "false", an "illusion"? Should the blue sky, the singing birds, the vast ocean, the cup of coffee, the bright face, the sonorous speech, should all of that be dismissed as false and illusory? Should we try to negate all of that, in the search for the really-real God?

Not at all. To start from the assumption "God is the only reality" or "God is all" is to put the cart before the horse, to violate the true logic of illusion. As an Avatar once said, "God cannot be explained...God can only be lived", pointing to the spiritual fact that God is not subject to human understanding, or human conceptualization, or captivity within human thought. God can only be lived; God can only be loved. And the living-loving of God starts from the living-with-and-loving-of our world, our fellow non-human creatures, and our human brothers and sisters. This true love of God means the surrender of our selves, and the ultimate realization of God as the true Self. This realization involves a radical revolution of consciousness, the implicit knowing that change, instability, and finiteness are not real, are indeed false and illusory.

The realization of God as truth, as reality, does not mean that the blue sky, the singing birds, the vast ocean, the cup of coffee, the bright face, or the sonorous speech, are then negated into "nothingness". They were already "nothing" to begin with -- that is, as entities existing independently of God. Instead, they are "gated" into Somethingness, into reality and truth, into God. But, from the everyday perspective, all these things do seem to exist independently of God; and from the God-perspective, such an existence is truly illusory and false. True existence, whether that existence takes the form of the world, life, or humanity, is existence-from/of/as-God.

The proper approach to Wujudiyyah or Advaita doesn't start with "believing" that the appearances around us are illusions, or with negating the matter/energy cosmos in which we live. Such a path could easily divert us from the proper critique of existence-independent-of-God, and into a mere negation of existence itself. Instead, the proper logic starts with living with God, loving God, and thus loving the world, others, and ourselves; and then letting that process reach its radical conclusion, in its own sweet time.

18 October 2007

The Birth of Illusion

Thus though the whole world of duality is only an illusion, that illusion has come into being for a significant purpose.
-- Meher Baba, Discourses, vol. 1, 6th ed. (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented Inc., 1967), 164.
"Illusion" was the term Meher Baba often used to describe the world of everyday existence; of the five elements (water, fire, air, earth, ether), the subtle fabric, and the mental factors; of hot and cold, near and far, lust and hate. As seen from the quote above, though, "illusion" did not refer to non-being and total non-existence. Illusion, in fact, possesses being and does exist. Otherwise, how could illusion ever be perceived, conceived, or known? But there's something about illusion that separates it from non-illusion, or reality. Reality is that which does not change, that which is totally stable, that which is infinite. In short, reality is God. God, being infinite, is the only reality. From the perspective of the everyday world, however, God is not the only reality; God is hardly any reality at all, it seems! The world, our bodies, our energies, our feelings, our intellect, our causal-souls, are all changing, none are stable, and not one is infinite. (In traditional Buddhist terms, the world is anicca and dukkha.) And yet, God is non-changing, stable, and infinite -- indeed, God is the really real, and the only true existence -- mocking our perceptions and conceptions of what we think the world is. Thus, that which is "illusion" is that which is changing, non-stable, and finite; since, from the God-perspective, only God is really real and thus all else must be not-really real, or illusory. But the not-really real is indeed real, from the world-perspective. Indeed, the not-really real is God, since God, being infinite, contains everything, both the really real and the not-really real.

Illusion (the changing, the non-stable, the finite) is real, but it is not reality. Illusion is a "play" (Latin: "ludere", "to play") with"in" reality, a play with a cosmically important function. This is God's play. We're just actors in it, but actors acting with a purpose. How can you beat God, dear reader?

11 October 2007


Even if YOU don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic™ knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic™ will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing.

Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.
My results:

1. Hinduism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (98%)
3. Mahayana Buddhism (98%)
4. Jainism (83%)
5. New Age (83%)
6. Unitarian Universalism (82%)
7. Sikhism (79%)
8. New Thought (71%)
9. Reform Judaism (71%)
10. Orthodox Judaism (70%)
11. Liberal Quakers (70%)
12. Bahá'í Faith (67%)
13. Scientology (65%)
14. Theravada Buddhism (63%)
15. Islam (59%)
16. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (50%)
17. Taoism (48%)
18. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (47%)
19. Orthodox Quaker (47%)
20. Secular Humanism (36%)
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (32%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (31%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (28%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (22%)
25. Nontheist (22%)
26. Roman Catholic (22%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (22%)

07 October 2007

Rumi at 800

The Poet Rumi at 800.

Eight hundred years ago this week, in the mountains of a Persian-speaking realm now known as Afghanistan, a great mystic poet of the Islamic world -- and now the whole world -- was born. In his lifetime, Jalaluddin Rumi and his family fled before invading Mongols, across what's now Iran and into Turkey.

Today, his ecstatic, sensual poetry of love and spiritual seeking fills volumes of the hottest-selling poetry in America. Where contemporary Islam can look severe, Rumi looks lush, sounds gorgeous, and reads like heaven.

This hour, On Point: the great mystic. Reading Rumi at eight hundred.

06 October 2007

The First Couple

There's a lot hidden within the pages of Bereishith (also known by its Greek-derived name, "the book of Genesis"), not immediately apparent to the first perusal. The rabbis have only scratched the surface, and the Kabbalah guides one to the gate that each must open for each-self.

Take the story of the creation of Adam and Eve. Layers upon layers exist within that set of narratives. Let's just take one layer, the production of Eve from the rib of Adam. The first true human had not-quite-yet-human ("NQYH") parents. The NQYH couple initially responsible for the first true humans mingled gametes and the fertilized egg resided within the female of the couple. Usually, when the first true member of a species appears, it appears in the form of one particular individual. In the first true human case, something else happened, something you don't see very often. The female member of the NQYH couple came from a long line of females who inherited a particular genetic predisposition: the tendency to ovulate two eggs simultaneously. On the day that the first true human experienced conception, the NQYH female had ovulated doubly, in the manner of her own female ancestors. Both eggs, once fertilized with two different sperm from the NQYH male, developed into embryos, then fetuses: one fully human male fetus and one fully human female fetus. When these dizygotic twins (or "non-identical twins") breached, the male one appeared first, then the female followed, an event that eventually gave rise to the story of HaShem creating Adam before He created Eve.

03 October 2007

God and Evolution

During the second half of the nineteenth century, it became common to speak of a war between science and religion. But over the course of the twentieth century, that hostility gradually subsided. Following in the footsteps of the Second Vatican Council, John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate established a commission to review and correct the condemnation of Galileo at his trial of 1633. In 1983 he held a conference celebrating the 350th anniversary of the publication of Galileo’s Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, at which he remarked that the experience of the Galileo case had led the Church “to a more mature attitude and a more accurate grasp of the authority proper to her,” enabling her better to distinguish between “essentials of the faith” and the “scientific systems of a given age.”

From September 21 to 26, 1987, the pope sponsored a week of study on science and religion at Castel Gandolfo. On June 1, 1988, reflecting on the results of his conference, he sent a positive and encouraging letter to the director of the Vatican Observatory, steering a middle course between a separation and a fusion of the disciplines. He recommended a program of dialogue and interaction, in which science and religion would seek neither to supplant each other nor to ignore each other. They should search together for a more thorough understanding of one another’s competencies and limitations, and they should look especially for common ground. Science should not try to become religion, nor should religion seek to take the place of science. Science can purify religion from error and superstition, while religion purifies science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each discipline should therefore retain its integrity and yet be open to the insights and discoveries of the other....

-- Avery Cardinal Dulles

This Great Love

A Rumi Meditation.