The highest Teaching i know of

A few days before Sarada Ma passed on, a lady came to visit her. Seeing the Mother ailing, the lady was distressed and wept. The Mother’s words (“Sri Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play”) to the lady were Her last recorded words.

“Learn to make the world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; the whole world is your own.”

 There is no proviso here — No one is a stranger. The whole world is your own. Every person, every being, every thing — is our own, Every person, every being, every thing is family.

i have not come across any higher Teaching than this — both as a guide to living, and as a means of communion with the Divine.

Chapter 6 of the “Maha Upanishad” (a text that was composed probably as early as 300 BC) has a conversation between a young person, Nigadha, and a sage, Ribhu — an incredibly deep conversation (translated by A. G. Krishna Warrier) that covers the nature of reality, the ultimate truths, and how to live. In Verses 71 and 72, we read the following: “Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger…..the entire world constitutes but a family…”

One of the haikus of the 18th century Japanese Buddhist Issa reads (in “The Spring of My Life: And Selected Haiku” translated by Sam Hamill):

“In cherry blossom

shadows, no one,

really, is

a stranger now”

Towards the end of a sermon titled“On Being a Good Neighbor“, that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote and revised many times between 1962-63, we find him saying: “As you leave this place of worship my friends go out with the conviction that all men are brothers, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

Each person, every sentient being is family; every thing is family….the boundary of our home is the edge of the Cosmos. Let us live by this. 

Peace 🙂

The photograph of Sarada Ma is from the Vedanta Society of Sacramento

The sacredness of each moment

By Pooja Bhatt — Maartiste

Sherry Turkle, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology makes a strong case in “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” that “A lot is at stake in attention….it is how we show what we value.

Simone Weil, the French mystic and philosopher, teaches us that attention, this directing our mind to “what we value”, changes us, and others. In “Gravity and Grace”, (a book of selections from her notebooks published after her passing in 1943), we read: “We have to try to cure our faults by attention….If we turn our mind towards the good, it is impossible that  little by little the whole soul will not be attracted thereto in spite of itself.”

The Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg goes a bit further. In “Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness”, she writes:

The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.

When we cultivate attentive awareness, William Mahony (Professor at Davidson College) explains in his commentary on Verse 77 of the “Narada Bhakti Sutras” (“Exquisite Love: Reflections on the spiritual life based on Nārada’s Bhakti Sūtra”), a Sanskrit text composed probably in 10 AD, “each moment becomes sacred.” 

Simone Weil, i think, would agree. She writes: “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer….”

The poet J. D. McClatchy sees something deeper. In the introduction to the anthology of poems titled “Love Speaks Its Name”, he writes:

Love is the quality of attention we pay to things.

Peace 🙂

The Love that rocks the cradle is the Love that lights the stars

Sometime in 1615, Katharina, a 68 year old lady was accused of witchcraft in a town in Germany. About three months after the accusation, one of her sons who lived in Austria received a letter from his sister that their mother was in trouble. 

The son, Johannes Kepler, was then at the height of his life — engaged in work that would make him, along with Copernicus and Galileo, one of the seminal forces of modern astronomy, and science. As soon as he heard about his mother, Johannes moved (with his family) to Germany. He would spend the next six years mounting a defence for her.

This was a particularly devastating time. Ulinka Rublack, the historian and Professor at Cambridge, tells  us (“The Astronomer and the Witch”) that

About 73,000 men and women were tried for witchcraft and 40,000-50,000 executed in Europe between 1500 and 1700….Seventy-five per cent of those accused were female.

Execution often meant being burnt in a stake. In August 1620, Katharina was imprisoned, and spent the next 14 month enchained in a cell.  

Johannes was, by then, an unflinching voice conveying that the Universe was governed by natural laws, not by Divine dicate. Owing to this, he was already engaged in struggles with the Establishment. 

Faced with formidable opposition, and his inner turmoils, Johannes responded with his best. Using all the “intellectual habits” he had cultivated, he indomitably put together “a pioneering defence”. In early October 1621, his mother was “absolved” and freed.

This piece of history has my heart not because it is an episode in the still-ongoing battle between those who seek Truth, and those who traffic in falsehood & deception, but because it is also the story of a son’s love for his mother.  Johannes, Ulinka writes, “put his existence on hold” as he marshalled everything he had to defend his mother, and free her. Indeed, he risked being accused himself.

It is not hard to figure out why he did this. Love — mother’s Love.  

The effect of a mother’s Love is such that even a monk, Swami Vivekananda, was moved to write to Haridas Viharidas Desai, on 29th January 1894 (“The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”) that “If there is any being I love in the whole world, it is my mother.”

Photo by Annie Spratton Unsplash

In the introduction to his translation of “The Bhagavad Gita”, Juan Mascaro writes:

Love is the power that moves the universe….The radiance of this universe sends us a message of love and says that all creation came from love, that love impels evolution and that at the end of their time love returns all things to Eternity. Even as the rational mind can see that all matter is energy, the spirit can see that all energy is love, and everything in creation can be a mathematical equation for the mind and a song of love for the soul.

We get a glimpse of the Love Juan speaks about, an aperture to the Divine, from our mothers — and from people who love with the love of a mother.

Johannes’ mother passed on a few months after she was released from prison. Her Love gave us the person who was among the first few (in modern times) to fortify us from superstion, dogma, and much of the fraud that is hawked as religion.

Peace 🙂