adapting

I have already heard it said before that when we move, it takes a while to get adjusted, and as we leave physical objects behind, there is possibility of a mental shift within us.

I believe that its almost impossible to leave places and familiar objects ‘behind’.
We carry so much like templates in our conscious physical and mental mind.

I used to have a wooden duck which stood on wheels that I could pull. It was definitely one of my favorite toys and I still have a picture of me when I was four years old, holding this duck in my arms.
Even without the picture, I can still remember so vividly this toy.

I think it is so with not only toys but especially people who were close and places where we lived. Our mind never loses them and we carry them around for all times.

Above is a picture of a beach in Trinidad where I was born and if you have travelled over the hills by car to get here and walked on these beaches and bathed in these waters, how can you ever forget?
For the salt of that sea flows in my veins and the sands of its beaches have left marks on my feet, and the air and the sun have colored and fashioned my skin and there is no way that time and place can ever wash it away.

The above is a picture of a new neighbourhood close to the market and down near the canal some roughly ten minutes from where I now live, and am settling in to the new sights and sounds. We are not far from the heart of the city and sometimes there are noises of traffic and an occasional helicopter flying over to give reports on parades etc.
The sound of police cars and ambulances are familiar as I used to live in an area close to hospitals.
Once inside my apartment is so quiet that at times one can feel more closer to the ‘observer’ and when that happens, then the other outside noises are things just passing, like life itself and there is no pain..only peace.

After the rush of the “off to work” hour in the morning all around here becomes so quiet and so peaceful and i love to walk down near the water and watch the ducks swim and smell the wild roses growing along the sidewalk opposite the colorful flower stalls and the fruit and vegetable markets.

Once in a while I would and sit and have a coffee and feel the sun slowly rise and warm us.

One evening I heard voices on the water and discovered some students learning how to paddle a canoe. They all seemed so serious.  I followed the path leading along for a good thirty minutes and was delighted to see a castor swimming on the other side. I wish the water was clean enough for humans to swim…..maybe one day!

A farewell ceremony

Above photo of the “Ganges” at Kashi ashram where the ashes of so many, including Ma’s
rest.

I just received this recording of Ma as she recited her River poem.  It was the same poem she
recited when I first met her at the Parliament of world Religions in Chicago in 1993.

http://llnw.libsyn.com/p/c/e/d/cedf5847fb66445e/Mas_River_Poem_Memorial.mp3?s=1338827894&e=1338828201&c_id=4588915&h=4e39d2ea98c7b274393a5e079e7db38d
In Chicago,
She stood there at the podium and recited and I listened and I cried and wondered why.

Why was this poem, recited by someone who I did not know, bring tears to my eyes?

Why did these words create such a profound stirring in my soul?

At the end of the program, I sought out some folks who were around Ma. She had already left.

The first one I met I immediately asked “Who is that woman who read the River poem?”

“What is this poem all about? Why did it make me cry?”

I was given a card with an invitation to come to an evening that Ma would be giving as an introduction to her workshop.

It was a room on the 7th floor of the hotel where the Parliament was being held

I went early that evening and on arriving, I noticed a small table with a photograph, near the seat for the speaker.

There was hardly anyone in the hall yet, and so i went up to see whose picture was there.

It was a picture of Nityananda, Swami Muktananda’s Guru!

I know him!  What is Ma’s connection with this man?

I found all my answers eventually.

One day, back in Canada, Ma wrote to me through her secretary.  He said:

“Ma asks you, what shall she call you?”

I wrote back:   “Call me what you want.”

She wrote back:  “Your name is Ganga das”  (means ‘servant of the Ganges”)

Of course, the Ganges is the River. I go back to my journal from India and read about my

stay near the River Ganges, my first bath in the River, I see the children playing by the river,

I see the cows straying, the widows who cry and all those things Ma mentions in her poem.


Second Peter 1:2-7

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of our Lord.

3 By his divine power, he has lavished on us all the things we need for life and for true devotion, through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.

4 Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion.

5 With this in view, do your utmost to support your faith with goodness, goodness with understanding,

6 understanding with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with devotion,

7 devotion with kindness to the brothers, and kindness to the brothers with love.

In a previous blog when comparing the teachings of Yoga, I spoke of the Yoga of knowledge which is not
a worldy one but rather a spiritual.
A knowledge of our inner self and of the Holy that dwells within.
It is not a knowing of the mind but rather a knowing of the heart.  It is not sufficient to know intellectually because we will never be satisfied until we experience and know with our hearts.
We have the words of St Augustine who explained how his heart was not satisfied until he discovered God within.

In the quote from St Peter, he explains how through this knowledge we receive grace and peace in abundance.

We also receive everything we need for life and not only for life but also the grace of true devotion.

Devotion, Bhakti (as it is called in Yoga) is also a gift, a grace without which, life can be such a bore!
But when we receive the knowledge of God, it fills us with all these gifts.

And Peter encourages us to share, as he says “share the divine nature”. Share these precious gifts and this sharing will protect us from the corruptions of this world.

He encourages us to support our faith with goodness and understanding. He does not want us to have a ‘blind faith’ but rather one with the same knowledge of what we are struggling against….he says “self control”.

Its like we are in the sea and there are currents and we must be aware of these and resist theses waters that are stronger than us and can drown us.

And so we persevere, never giving up, never being discouraged.

Constant Devotion and loving kindness to those who are in need.

This writing of Peter is a storehouse a treasure for our spiritual life.
Reading it over and over, each verse is a treasure!

Van Morrison puts it so beautifully in this song:

Van Morrison – When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCLyFGgVdZM14 May 2010 – 6 min – thescottishplayer01
Album: Avalon Sunset (1989)

About Mudras

In Hinduism
A mudra is a bodily posture or symbolic gesture. In Buddhist iconography every buddha is depicted with a characteristic gesture of the hands. Such gestures correspond to natural gestures (of teaching, protecting, and so on) and also to certain aspects of the Buddhist teaching or of the particular buddha depicted.
Here mudras accompany the performance of liturgies and the recitation of mantras. They also help to actualize certain inner states in that they anticipate their physical expression; thus they assist in bringing about a connection between the practitioner and the buddha visualized in a given practice.
The most important mudras are:
1.) Dhyani Mudra……………..(gesture of meditation)
2.) Vitarka Mudra…………….(teaching gesture)
3.) Dharmachakra Mudra…..(gesture of turning the wheel of the teaching)
4.) Bhumisparsha Mudra……(gesture of touching the earth)
5.) Abhaya Mudra……………(gesture of fearlessness and granting protection)
6.) Varada Mudra…………….(gesture of granting wishes)
7.) Uttarabodhi Mudra………(gesture of supreme enlightenment)
8.) Mudra of Supreme Wisdom
9.) Anjali Mudra……………….(gesture of greeting and veneration)
10.) Vajrapradama Mudra….(gesture of unshakable confidence)

1.)Dhyani Mudra * In this mudra, the back of the right hand rests on the palm of the other in such a way that the tips of the thumbs lightly touch one another. The hands rest in the lap. The right hand, resting on top, symbolizes the state of enlightenment; the other hand, resting below, the world of appearance. This gesture expresses overcoming the world of appearance through enlightenment, as well as the enlightened state of mind for which samsara and nirvana are one. In a special form of this mudra, the middle, ring, and little fingers of both hands lie on top one another and the thumbs and index finger of each hand, touching each other, form a circle, which here also symbolizes the world of appearance and the true nature of reality.
2.)Vitarka Mudra * The right hand points upward, the left downward; both palms are tuned outward. The thumb and index finger of each hand form a circle. The right hand is at shoulder level, the left at the level of the hips. In a variant of this teaching gesture, the left hand rests palm upward in the lap, and the right hand is raised to shoulder level with its thumb and index finger forming a circle. In a further form of this mudra, the index finger and little fingers of both hands are fully extended, the middle and ring fingers somewhat curved inward. The left hand points upward, the right downward.
3.)Dharmachakra Mudra * The left palm is turned inward (toward the body), the right outward, and the circles formed by the thumbs and index fingers of each hand touch one another.
4.)Bhumisparsha Mudra * The left hand rests palm upward in the lap; the right hand, hanging over the knee, palm inward, points to the earth. Sometimes the left hand holds a begging bowl. This is the gesture with which the Buddha summoned the Earth as witness to his realization of buddhahood. It is considered a gesture of unshakability; thus Akshobhya (the Unshakable) is usually depicted with this mudra.
5.)Abhaya Mudra * Here the right hand is raised to shoulder height with fingers extended and palm turned outward. This is the gesture of the Buddha Shakyamuni immediately after attaining enlightenment.
6.)Varada Mudra * The right hand, palm facing out, is directed downward. When Shakyamuni is depicted with this mudra, it symbolizes summoning Heaven as witness to his buddhahood. This mudra is also seen in representations of Ratnasambhava. In a variant, the thumb and index finger of the downward extended hand touch one another. Frequently the abhaya and varada mudras are combined: the right hand makes the gesture of fearlessness, the left that of wish granting.
7.)Uttarabodhi Mudra * Both hands are held at the level of the chest, the two raised index fingers touch one another, the remaining fingers are crossed and folded down.; the thumbs touch each other at the tips or are also crossed and folded. This mudra is frequently seen in images of Vairochana.
8.)Mudra of Supreme
Wisdom
* The right index finger is grasped by the five fingers of the left hand. This mudra, characteristic of Vairochana, is the subject of many interretations in esoteric Buddhism, most which have to do with the relationship between the empirical world of manifoldness and the principle that is its basis-the unified world principle, the realization of unity in the manifold as embodied in Buddha.
9.) Anjali Mudra * The palms are held together at the level of the chest. This is the customary gesture of greeting in India. Used as a mudra, it expresses “suchness” (tahata).
10.)Vajrapradama Mudra * The fingertips of the hands are crossed. This is gesture of unshakable confidence.

(https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DYSWVuZINJLWm37jt6esRnq2ZTWPPWMtYMoSgfmEe4s/edit

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/mudras.htm

*In Buddhism

* Gesture of Turning the Wheel of Dharma
The thumb and index finger of the right hand stand for wisdom and method combined. The other three raised fingers symbolize the teaching of the Buddhist doctrine, which leads sentient beings to the paths of the beings of three capacities. The position of the left hand symbolizes the beings of the three capacities, who follow the combined path of method and wisdom.
* Gesture of Meditation
The nerve channel associated with the mind of enlightenment (Bodhichitta) passes through the thumbs. Thus, joining of the two thumbs in this gesture is of auspicious significance for the future development of the mind of enlightenment.
* Gesture of Bestowal of Supreme Accomplishment
The gesture of the right hand symbolizes bestowal of supreme accomplishment. That of the left hand symbolizes meditation. Together, they stand for the Buddha’s power to bestow supreme and general accomplishments on his disciples, while he meditates.
* Gesture of Pressing the Earth
The right hand gestures pressing the earth to bear witness. The position of the left hand symbolizes meditation. Together, they stand for the Buddha’s overcoming of hindrances while meditating.
This gesture ‘of touching the earth’ or ‘calling the earth to witness’, commemorates Gautama Buddha’s victory over temptation by the demon Mara.
* Gesture of Turning the Wheel of Dharma while in Meditation
The gesture of the right hand stands for turning the wheel of Dharma, while that of the left hand symbolizes meditation. The two conjoined symbolize teaching the Dharma while in meditation.

After observing theses hand-mudras which I have seen in India and elsewhere, I have wondered about the position also of the fingers we see in Christian icons. I wondered firstly what do they mean and what also baffles me is where do they come from.? Jesus was, we all know , a Jew and so also were the apostles. Raised and brought up in Judaism, at what period in the Christian Church do the first paintings of icons appear?
When Christians make the sign of the cross and say “Amen,” the hands are brought together, thumbs touching the heart, fingers pointing upwards.  This certainly did not come from Judaism, so where did it come from? I am yet to know.

Now, look at this  http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/what-does-this-hand-gesture-mean-in-ico
Symbolism of the Blessing
The fingers spell out “IC XC”, a widely used four letter abbreviation of the Greek for Jesus (IHCOYC) Christ (XPICTOC).
The three fingers of Christ – as well as spelling out “I” and “X” – confess the Tri-unity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The touching finger and thumb of Jesus not only spell out “C”, but attest to the Incarnation: to the joining of divine and human natures found in the body of Jesus Christ.

Then, see what this man wrote:   (http://theyogaphile.blogspot.ca/2007/03/mudras-in-christian-imagery.html)

Christian Imagery and Mudras
I’ve spent my entire life as a practicing Greek Orthodox Christian. Greek churches are breathtakingly beautiful houses of worship that are decorated with ornate carvings and Byzantine-style paintings. I’ve been looking at Byzantine imagery of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and various other angels and saints for as long as I can remember—but it wasn’t until I began practicing yoga and learning about mudras that it my eyes registered what I’ve been seeing all these years.

Prithvi Mudra
Mudras have been depicted not only in Buddhist/Hindu imagery for centuries, but in Christian as well. Christ is often painted with His right hand in prithvi mudra, in which the tips of the thumb and ring finger are joined.Prithvi mudra is said to provide stability and cure weaknesses of the body and mind.

Icons of Christ and Saint Nicholas with hands in prithvi mudra.

Another interesting realization I had is that occurrences of prithvi mudra aren’t limited to Byzantine religious icons alone. To this very day, Greek Orthodox priests often hold the fingers of their right hand in prithvi mudra while making the sign of the cross during a spoken blessing, say over a meal. Prithvi mudra is also known as the Sign of Benediction or Blessing.

Pran Mudra
There are also depictions of Christ with His right hand in pran mudra (little finger and ring finger connect with the thumb), which is said to increase vitality and protect the body against disease. Of course, one can hardly avoid the most obvious mudra in Chrsitian imagery—anjali mudra—Christ with prayer hands at heart center. I don’t know about what others think of all this, but I am completely and utterly fascinated by it. Because this is yet another common thread linking Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism—three belief systems that I am increasingly intrigued by as I learn more about them.

Some final thoughts: I’ve written this before, but I have to write it again. I’m completely blown away by the fact that the more I study yoga, Buddhism, and Hinduism, the more apparent it becomes that in life, everything is connected in the most divine and mysterious way. Think me a kook if you’d like, but I tell you that the more I seek knowledge, the more it comes to me—even when the questions haven’t yet formed in my head, the answers are appearing everywhere—in my own research, through the exchange of information with others, through happenstance and circumstance. Maybe it’s the Law of Attraction, or maybe I’m finally waking up. Whatever it is, in the words of Oprah, what I know for sure is there more to this world than meets the eye. There is some wisdom well beyond us, and all our religions and beliefs and numbers are just bits and pieces of the puzzle.

Curious?
If your interest in mudras and the commonalities in Christianity and other religions is piqued, there’s some very interesting writing out there on mudras, the similarities between Christianity and Buddhism, the ancient Indian/Greek relationship, symbolism, and more. I encourage you to do your own reading and exploration—but definitely check out these sources out:

Rolph