Monthly Archives: April 2007

Moroni, or moronic?

Wow, who knew angels were trademarked? Guess the Mormons are getting as bad as the Scientologists.

No religion is not a joke, but any religion worth believing in ought to be able to take a joke. If your faith isn’t strong enough to overcome a little fun, what’s the point of it?

Salt Lake Tribune – Angel Moroni gone, but new coffeehouse T-shirt still resolutely ‘irreverent’

Coffee makers here have turned potential trademark infringement into grounds for inspiration.
    In March, the LDS Church asked Just Add Coffee to stop selling a popular T-shirt that featured coffee being funneled into Angel Moroni’s iconic trumpet. (The angel tops most LDS temples and figures prominently in the religion’s scriptures.)
    The Taylorsville store owners complied, but the spat spurred a new design, with the angel removed, that might prove even more marketable.
    It shows a giant hand from the sky pouring the java – which the LDS Church urges its members to abstain from drinking – into a disembodied trumpet.
    The caption: “The Lord giveth, and a church taketh away.”

Via Boing Boing.

Moksa

Try to do everything in the world with a mind that lets go. If you let go a little you will have a little peace. If you let go completely, you will have complete peace and freedom. Your struggles with the world will have come to an end. — Achaan Cha

Moksa literally means “liberation”, to be free. In the flow of our practice, it is the action of letting go. We do our duty, live abundandantly, express gratitude, and let go. Moksa is the state of nonattachment, the releasing of the fruits of our actions, our efforts, our hopes and dreams. …

At the end of each of my classes, I say, “We show up, burn brightly, live passionately, hold nothing back, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.” — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

Letting go used to be very difficult for me. I find it easier now to let go of my attachments. The thing I’m working on these days is letting go of my aversions. That still seems difficult, somehow. I’m noticing my aversions now, trying to be less hostile to the things I don’t like, the people who annoy me, the yoga poses I don’t like doing. I caught myself last night at the moment I switched off in yoga class to a pose I was doing, refusing to do it. I still didn’t do it, but I noticed the aversion to the pose. The next pose I didn’t like, I noticed the aversion, and did the pose anyway. It wasn’t so bad, really.

Now to try this with the activities I don’t like, like cleaning and organizing things. Perhaps it won’t be so bad, really, and I’ll feel better when the chores are done….

But still, I need to detach from the results, whatever they are. Moksa

Why we need Universal Health Care Coverage

So people like Twisty have a chance to survive without going broke.

I Blame The Patriarchy

The FDA just approved this drug for patients with mondo HER2-positive breast cancer. Lucky for Glaxo-Smith-Kline! And lucky for the 4 or 5 women on the planet who can fucking afford it! My insurance company doesn’t feel like coughing up. I’ll be on it for a year, assuming it doesn’t kill me, to the tune of 40 large, not including the creepy radioactive MUGA scans every 90 days to make sure my heart is still beating.

But that’s nothing. My father, who has pancreatic cancer, has on his bathroom vanity a bottle of pills that cost $5000 for a month’s supply. He calculates that so far it has cost him about three quarters of a million dollars to stay alive for the past 3 years.

I have yet to find a single thing about cancer that isn’t fucking inconvenient as hell, but this kill-the-poor bullshit takes the fucking cake.

Fucking megameditheocorporatocracy.

Pet Food Fiasco

We were caught up in the pet food recall today – had to take back our Natural Balance Venison and Brown Rice to exchange. Fortunately the company is being great about it, no paperwork, just exchange for a different type of food that wasn’t in the recall.

We went with the organic food – hopefully less problems that way.

Mostly it makes me wonder what else the FDA has been screwing up on lately, and what the hazards are in all of our food these days. Whatever, I’m going organic as much as possible anyway. Wish I lived in a better area to grow my own food as well. I’m really looking forward to that twenty acre golden ranch someday – in a nice agricultural area that’s easier to garden in than my piddly foot of topsoil. Yeah, I know, raised beds, but try getting my hubby to build it. I’m looking at this company though, and may just do it.

Purusartha

According to the Yoga Sutras, the four aims of life are
dharma, artha , kama and moksa... Dharma is the active observance of spiritual discipline. It is the weaving together of the yamas and the niyamas into a way of life. If dharma is the creation of a life in balance on a spiritual plane, then artha is the creation of a life in balance on the physical plane. Work, family, money — all are brought into balance and are in keeping with one’s spiritual values. Kama is enjoyment of the fruits of one’s labors. It is not enough just to plant the garden and cultivate it with care; we must set aside time to enjoy it as well. Moksa is the final aim of life, liberation. Dharma, artha, and kama are our actions; in moksa we surrender the fruits of our actions to the universe. We let go of everything and hold on to nothing.

We are all performing the purusartha in our own ways, just as our parents did and our grandparents before them. We do not need yoga in order to work toward a happy, fulfilled life. Yoga simply gives us an outline. The purusartha brings together all the work of this path. They are like the forest, while the individual limbs of yoga are the trees. Use the purusartha as a means to keep sight of this forest as you immerse yourself in the trees ahead. — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

It is not necessary to be religious to be ethical. The ethical standards which specify the right and wrong means of achieving security and pleasures are based on commonsense. An irreligious person can be completely ethical by commonsense standards. To be ethical is to be fully human – not controlled by mere instincts. A man can choose the wrong means to gain his ends. With a mind capable of rationalization, he can always abuse the freedom of choice given to him; he can ignore commonsense ethical standards. When he does so, he does not fulfill his role as a human being in society. Society establishes rules to prevent and alleviate the suffering such abuse of freedom of choice can cause others through criminal and civil laws.

Sometimes one can be clever enough to abuse freedom without transgressing man-made laws or, at least, without being caught. At this point religious ethics enter the picture. One must learn to distinguish between commonsense ethics and religious ethics. Religious ethics confirm commonsense ethics and add a few more.

The religious ethics called dharma, found in the Veda, confirm commonsense standards, specify further religious “do’s and don’ts”, and add the concept of punya and papa – results produced by good or bad actions, now or hereafter.

According to dharma, human action has an unseen result as well as an immediate tangible result. The unseen result of the action accrues in subtle form to the account of the “doer” of the action and, in time, will fructify, tangibly, for him as a “good” or “bad'” experience – something pleasurable or painful. The subtle result of good action, punya, fructifies as pleasure; the subtle result of bad action, papa, fructifies as pain. Papa can be defined as sin. Sin is the choice of either a wrong deal or a wrong means in the pursuit of an acceptable goal. This choice will bring an undesired result; the very kind of result that the doer wanted to avoid in the first place. Papa is paid for in terms of undesirable experiences. The word punya has no good English equivalent. It indicates the result of a good action which is not seen , but which will bring later a desirable experience, something that is pleasing.

Dharma occupies the first place in the four categories of human goals, because the pursuit of security, artha, and pleasures, kama, need to be governed by ethical standards. Artha, striving for security, comes second, because it is the foremost desire of everyone. Everyone is obedient under the doctor’s scalpel precisely because everyone wants to live. Granted life, one then wants to be happy, to pursue pleasures, kama. I want to live and live happily; and both pursuits, the struggle for security and the search for pleasure, must be governed by ethics.

The last category is the goal of liberation, moksa, ranked last because it becomes a direct pursuit only when one has realized the limitations inherent in the first three pursuits.

Moksa, like dharma, is a peculiarly human pursuit not shared by other creatures. Even among human beings, liberation is a concern of only a few. These few recognize that what they want is not more security or more pleasure but freedom itself – freedom from all desires.

Everyone has some moments of freedom, moments when one seems to “fall in place”. When I “fall into place”, I am free. These fleeting moments of falling into place are experienced by all human beings. That everything is in place is evidenced by not wanting anything to be different in the circumstances of the moment.

When I do not want anything to be different, I know that I have fallen into place with what is. I know fulfillment. I need make no change to become contented. I am, for the moment, free – from the need to struggle for some change in me or the circumstances. If I fall into place permanently, requiring no more change in anything, my life would then be, fulfilled, the struggle over. The pursuit of moksa is the direct pursuit of that freedom everyone has experienced for brief moments when everything has “fallen into place”. How can that freedom be gained? What kinds of bonds deny that freedom?

Moksa becomes relevant when one realizes that behind one’s struggle for security, artha, and pleasures, kama, is the basic human desire to be adequate, free from all incompleteness, and that no amount of security or pleasure achieves that goal. So when a mature person analyzes his experiences, he discovers that behind his pursuit of security and pleasure is a basic desire to be free from all insufficiency, to be free from incompleteness itself, a basic desire which no amount of artha and kamam fulfils. This realization brings a certain dispassion, nirveda, towards security and pleasures. The mature person gains dispassion towards his former pursuits and is ready to seek liberation, moksa, directly.

-Swami Dayananda Saraswati

raga and dvesha

Attachment is that which dwells upon pleasure. — yoga sutras

Aversion is that which dwells upon pain. — yoga sutras

The man whom desires enter as rivers flow into the sea, filled yet always unmoving — that man finds lasting peace. — Bhagavad Gita

The next two hindrances are raga (attachment, desire) and dvesha (aversion). Within these are the more specific hindrances of attachment to pleasure, or sukha, and aversion to pain, or duhkha. Sukha and duhkha in themselves are simply natural human reactions. Sukha and duhkha become raga and dvesha when attachment is present, for it is in the attachment to pleasure and the aversion to pain that we get into trouble. — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

Pleasure and pain are part of life. We humans seek pleasure and avoid pain in the pursuit of happiness. But ironically, when we cling to pleasure or even cling to the aversion of pain, it instead brings suffering and loss of happiness.

Raga and Devesha, attachments and aversions, come from holding onto memories of the past. We hold onto knowledge, concepts and expectations of how life should be or should not be. We hold onto life with fixed ideas, ideals, and principles. And we hold onto possessions, people and things in hope of happiness.

Rohit Mehta says in his book, Yoga, the Art of Integration, “Man seeks security and continuity for that which is forever in a state of flux. Life is eternally dynamic and therefore ever discontinuous.” “Life can be experienced. It cannot be held.”

We seek security by holding on. But true internal security comes only from letting go. When we hold on, we are attached and in bondage and not free. True freedom and happiness comes from letting go and opening up to the present moment. In the present moment our hearts and consciousness can open and connect with the sacred core inside and the sacred in all of life, connecting us with true security and happiness.

There is a story from ancient India about a musk deer that was born with a scent of musk on his forehead. But he spent his whole life seeking and searching for this wonderful scent that seemed to be somewhere out there just around the next corner, not realizing that the scent was there already as a part of himself. — Ingela Abbott

The Tao of Gonzo

Heh. Too funny!

FRAMESHOP by Jeffrey Feldman

THE TAO OF GONZO (a.k.a., The Spiritual Side of Twisting the Truth)

Verse 1:

“I now understand that there was a conversation between me and the President.” –Tao of Gonzo, Apr 19, 2007

Ah, yes. Here we are introduced to a moment of deep spiritual contemplation. There are times in our lives, he is saying, when we understand the experiences we have when we are having them. I ate a sandwich, I understand. I drive to work, I understand. But there are other times when we have an experience, but we do not understand the experience as such at the time. For argument’s sake, we could call these “moments we are breaking the law.” For example, if we are having a conversation with the President and his advisers about illegally circumventing the authority of Congress, it may be difficult to understand that it is happening at the time. One might say, I am having this conversation, but is this really me? Is this really a conversation? Is this really a law and if it is not a law, then can I be breaking this law in this conversation that may or may not be happening? These are moments of spiritual drift, vagueness of identity. Am I undermining the Constitution? Hard to say. Am I in violating the public trust? Hard to say. Am I in charge of my own actions? Not clear. They are moments of great spiritual questioning, wonderment, lack of understanding.

It is only when we revisit these moments of spiritual doubt under duress of, say, being convicted of perjury by a Senate committee–only in these moments does our spiritual fuzziness snap into sudden focus. Ah, yes! Like rings on the duck pond, the ambiguity recedes to the shores of self-doubt, leaving behind a moment of clarity. Indeed it was a conversation. Indeed it was the President. Indeed it was a conversation. “I understand that there was a conversation between me and the President.” Which is to say, “Now, unlike before, I am able to see. I can understand that my own actions were indeed actions and that I did indeed experience them.” I understand, now.