Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not This Not That

I find it VERY interesting that I continuously identify with things somewhat unconsciously.  This morning, I read an article about the Indian Holocaust - the murder of millions of Hindus by Arabs,Turks, etc over 800 years. And I'm thinking "How could they do that to us?"  

US?  Really?  Since when was I an Indian?  Sure, I've had a strong identification with the Vedic/Indian culture for decades and was initiated as a Brahminical priest 40+ years ago, in India,  but that doesn't make this American/Scandinavian-bodied white boy an Indian. In fact, the very purpose of my initiation was to recognize 'Aham Brahmasmi' - I am NOT this body, I am part and parcel of God, beyond all bodily designations.

And yet, that identification remains.

What is particularly ironic is, while identifying as Indian, the Indians simultaneously bug the heck out of me.  Not actually the Indians per se, but the fact that when I joined our Krsna movement years ago, there was hardly an Indian to be seen, other than the Founder/Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, who started it.  Now, at least locally, it is almost entirely Indian bodied souls who visit the temple, interspersed with a few whities like me. So, on the one hand, my ire is raised when I think about the Indian Hindus being slaughtered by the millions, the same ire is raised when I think that MY Hare Krsna movement has been conquered by those same Indians.  I really don't blame them. After all, it IS their religion, and I am a relative late-comer to the party.  But there IS that damned identification.

Similarly, I watched a video on how incredible efforts to build tiny house shelters for the thousands of homeless in California is stomped on by the local officials - confiscating the homes, breaking them, taking parts, etc.  Now, I'm certainly not homeless, nor do I live in California, yet still, I identify with the victims almost as if I am one of them. I'm not. Yes, there is certainly a healthy dose of empathy and compassion, which is good, but I don't need to identify myself as a victim. 

I am constantly identifying myself as one thing or another, completely in opposition to the idea that I am NOT this body or this mind.  But we WANT to identify with something 'out there': I am an old man; I am an American; I am spiritual but not religious; I'm a Hare Krsna; I'm an ex-hippie (more hippie than ex); I am This; I am That.  It's like there's this NEED to be a part of something - to have understandable parameters, boundaries, definitions - almost as if I NEED something to Defend!  

In Sanskrit, they say 'ahara, nidra, bhaya, maithuna' - we have a need to eat, sleep, defend and mate - they are the basic requirements/rights of every living entity - humans AND animals. Lately, they're even getting mixed together, as, in an attempt to improve my health, my doctor and my wife are trying to take away my "eats" (really 'treats'), and I am defending them to the max!  What good is this life if I can't enjoy my God given right to eat unhealthy food?  In fact, I even use my "I'm not this body" philosophy to defend my eating less than healthy food - "What does it matter if my body dies? I'm not this body!"

Even amongst my 'spiritual peers', those who share, more or less, the same Vedic philosophical background, there are huge gulfs between various factions - Where does the soul originate?; what are the true qualifications for the Guru?; what is the ultimate spiritual outcome?; etc etc etc.  And, the way in which these factions sometimes speak to, or about each other, you'd think they had stolen candy from a baby, and THEN kicked the baby in the head...repeatedly!   

Ultimately, what I'm finding, is it can often be very difficult to integrate any kind of belief system with a working and practical model for living. How do you 'believe' one thing, but act in another - something which is referred to as 'Cognitive Dissonance' - a tendency to either believe one thing but act differently, or even to hold two distinctly different and opposing beliefs simultaneously. It tears us up. 

A case in point - garbage.  No one WANTS to contribute to garbage, but it is virtually impossible to NOT create it. Buy ANYTHING and it is wrapped in plastic, put in a box, and then put in another bag, so you can carry it home. Sure, you can "bring your own bag" - Whoo hoo! - but there's still the first two coverings. I mean, for thousands of years, the vast majority of our history on our planet, there essentially WAS no garbage, at least nothing that wasn't for the most part biodegradeable and would simply disappear back into the earth in a few minutes, days, weeks or years.  Now, every one of us is producing huge amounts of garbage which sits for aeons, and it's almost impossible to avoid it. Our very lifestyles, even the simplest, is detrimental to our environment, if we're using electricity, any electronics, automobiles, even bicycles, which still require a manufacturing process to produce them.  So we fight to STOP garbage, and at the same time, our God-given right to produce it to the tune of 2.6 TRILLION pounds per year! How do we live with this? How do we live LIKE this?  But who of us is willing to go back to living simply, raising every morsel of our own food and making our own clothes, shoes, houses, furniture, wagons, candles, from materials in our immediate vicinity?  It is a post-modern dilemma!  And all because we identify with This or That.

But our identification, much like this rather rambling blog, is Not This, Not That! :-D

हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे    
हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे