Martin Luther King, Jr. 739 words, 16K views, 28 comments
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On Dec 8, 2010Somik Raha wrote :
Love reading all the reflections. Some random thoughts..
1. Zero and Infinity: Zero is infinity turned on its head. If infinity is God, then zero must be God turned on its head, which by definition, should still be God. Why I like zero more than infinity is that zero has no beginning and no end - it captures so simply in one stroke the greatest truth of nature - what goes around, comes around. Infinity says the same thing in a more twisted manner. :) I was reminded of the ancient Sanskrit aphorism:
"This is complete (zero). That is complete (zero).
From this completeness (zero) comes that completeness (zero). When that completeness (zero) is taken away from this completeness (zero), what remains is still completeness (zero)."
From zero comes zero - that is the foundation of all science (from nothing comes nothing). Removing zero from zero leaves zero - that is the foundation of all math. So much for the distinction between science and spirituality. :)
2. Significance of Temple: Going to physical temples is not part of my habit-pattern. And yet, when I do go once in a blue moon, I find a concentration of goodwill, a space where it is legitimate to forget my ego and still my heart. Where it is legitimate to recognize the infinite realities that make each moment possible. It does not matter which temple it is, and what the specific beliefs might be - the science of spirituality is such that the effects are very similar as long as the pursuit is beyond the smaller self. I totally agree with Sanjeev - one can create a temple in one's own home with one's intention and consistent action.
On that note, I find Wednesdays to be a temple, for all practical purposes, where we not only work on deepening our awareness but also support each other in doing so, thereby recognizing our interconnections.
3. Knowing the Difference: Catherine asks: How to stand strong and stay in control and not give in to emotion, but keep the heart pure and still act with the emotions of courage and love? How to know the difference?
There are many levels to this question. The second question can be answered by developing thoughtful tests for oneself. If there is even a trace of hatred for someone else in an interaction, then the heart is not pure. Is it possible? Yes - when a parent, with decisive force, yanks the toddler away from the power socket before its fingers make contact, there is not a trace of hatred - just compassion leading to decisive action.
The first one is much harder to answer. The wise folks say there are four broad paths by which we can practice deepening our connection with ourselves. People usually turn the knobs on one of them while also having the other three in their lives to a lesser degree. These four paths are: love, science, intellectual inquiry and action. Those who have the ability to believe in God usually choose the path of love, and use the attachment to God to break the attachment to smaller things. The trap in this path lies in the development of fundamentalism, where one starts to take one's own belief as the only way to go.
The path of science involves scientifically observing one's mind, stilling it, and seeing what lies beyond the mind. The metaphor for the mind is that of a lake with ripples. As long as the ripples exist, it is very hard to see through. When the water is calm, only then can we see what lies beneath the water. In this path, no God-belief is needed, but it is also hard and requires more strength than the others. The trap in this path is the discovery of special abilities which can become a huge distraction and stop the process of exploration.
The path of intellectual inquiry is for those who like logic, and need all their life philosophy to be logical. It is the use of logic to ultimately transcend logic and get to the same end. The trap in this path is that we can get stuck with dry intellectual debates and not deepen in awareness and understanding.
The path of action is for those who find daily survival interfering with the above three paths :). For them, action becomes the means of transcending the ego, by treating work as worship. The person being served is treated as God incarnate (or as one worthy of our full presence and attention in more secular language). Through service comes growth, wisdom and understanding, and no separate worship is necessary. The trap in this path that we may delude ourselves in thinking we are serving in a detached manner, when in reality, we are feeding our egos.
In general, all of us have some elements of each of these paths in our lives. Typically, we turn up the knobs on one or more of these, depending on our natural inclinations. The wise ones tell us that although the paths look very different, the understanding that comes at the end is the same (like a mountain in Hawaii, having very different landscapes depending on which side you're climbing from, but with the same view at the top :).
In summary, the value placed is not on the destination (being unable to lie, always standing up for the truth, etc.), but on the journey, where each step is honored along with all the steps that came before it, and all the steps to follow.
Finally, if there must be judgment of how we are falling short right now, then it must be balanced with how far we've come, to get the encouragement to continue on. If there is no judgment, just a fierce determination to accept the whole truth about the present moment and be totally open to the next, life is a lot easier. That is what I loved about MLK's message - total acceptance of all my faults at this time, and a total determination to keep trying to work on myself.
4. Catherine writes: I'd like to know some real heroes or saints in my own lifetime. People that really did make a difference and didn't have to "die trying." And didn't have a solely personal agenda of their own.
If the intention is deep enough, then the saints you seek will find you.
For myself, I resonate deeply with this yearning which I went through many years back. What I am now learning is to recognize the saints who surround us in life. The other day, I watched Nipun's talk which also reminded me of something the Dalai Lama said recently at Stanford, that for nine months, we are gifted sustenance and love, without any expectations. Almost every one of us. In my life, as I think about my parents, they are my saints - always giving, and never asking for anything in return, and always full of gratitude when I send tiny gifts for them. Whenever a friend, mentor or colleague gifts me love and presence with no expectation of reward, they become a saint of that moment. In other words, saintliness is not a destination, it is a process, that is far more consistent for some people and less consistent for others.