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25 August, 2008

Renunciation of the World

He who abandons his worldly home
Finds his true home.
He who retains the home of his own ego
Feels miserable in any home.
If one gives up wealth,
One lives in riches:
If one gives up pleasure,
One comes to relieve the pain of others.
He who gives up his life
Never dies.
He who abandons a soft bed
Sleeps on a litter of flowers.
He who abandons thoughts of others’ women
Obtains access to a queen.
He who abandons deceit and lies
Acquires the gift of prophecy.
He who abandons slavery to the mind
Finds all his whims realized.
He who gives up everything
Acquires everything.
He who has no desires
Finds his deepest desire realized.
He who abandons taste
Tastes the nectar of immortality.
If one asks for nothing
One finds what pleases the heart.
Renunciation gives you the three world,
This the Veda proclaims.
He who remains unkempt
Washes off all impurity.
He who retains the home of his own ego
Feels miserable in any home.


Source: Songs of Enlightenment by Swamy Rama Tirtha
Translated from the Urdu and Perisian by A.J.Alston –
Heritage Publishers, New Delhi, India.1983.

17 August, 2008


There was a cage formed of mirrors,
With a fresh rose hanging in the middle.
The flower was one, but each reflection
Was a separate object of love
To the nightingale caged within.
Every time the nightingale flew towards a flower,
It received a rap.
What it thought was a flower
Was only a reflection.
When it flew towards it,
It knocked its head against the glass.
When it looked to the right,
There was the rose.
When it ran to the left,
It suffered the same fate.
When it flew forward
It stubbed its beak.
And when it fell
It received another wound.
But once it turned back
And lifted up its eyes,
There was the real rose smiling.
Feeling startled, it thought
‘Let there be no more deception.
Is this a real rose
Or a rose only in name?’
It flew up at once to the rose.
Now there was joy, no cage, no mirrors.
It was free.
O Man, this is your condition
Encompassed by the world.
He in search of whom
You are wandering from door to door
Is shining peacefully within your heart.


Source: Songs of Enlightenment by Swamy Rama Tirtha
Translated from the Urdu and Perisian by A.J.Alston –
Heritage Publishers, New Delhi, India.1983.

09 August, 2008


The power of awareness would make no difference in our lives if Nature had outfitted us all with the same responses to experience. Clearly, this didn’t happen; no two people share the same perception of anything. The face of your beloved may be the face of worst enemy, the food you crave may cause nausea in me. These personal responses have to be learned, which is where differences originate. Learning is a very active use of the mind, leading to very active changes in the body. Perceptions of love, hate, delight, and nausea stimulate the body in extremely different directions. In short, our bodies are the physical results of all interpretations we have been learning to make since we were born.

Some transplant patients report an uncanny experience after receiving a donated kidney, liver, or heart. Without knowing who the organ donor was, they begin to participate in his memories. Associations that belonged to another person start being released when that person’s tissues are placed inside a stranger. In one instance, a woman woke-up after a heart transplant craving beer and Chicken McNuggets; she was very surprised, because she had never before wanted either. After she began to have mysterious dreams in which a young man named Timmy came to her, she tracked down the donor of her new heart, which had come from the victim of a fatal accident; when she contacted his family, it turned out that the victim was a young man named Timmy. The woman was stunned to discover that he’d had a particular fondness for drinking beer and had been killed on his way home from McDonald’s.

Rather than seeking a supernatural explanation for such incidents, one could see them as a confirmation that our bodies are made of experiences transformed into physical expression. Because experience is something we incorporate (literally, “make into a body”), our cells have been instilled with our memories; thus, to receive someone else’s cells is to receive their memories at the same time.

Your cells are constantly processing experience and metabolizing it according to your personal views. You don’t just funnel raw data through your eyes and ears and stamp it with a judgement. You physically turn into the interpretatation as you internalize it. Someone who is depressed over losing his job projects sadness everywhere in his body—the brain’s output or neurotransmitters becomes depleted, hormone levels drop, the sleep cycle is interrupted, neuropeptide receptors on the outer surface of skin cells become distorted, platelet cells in the blood become stickier and more prone to clump, and even his tears contain different chemical traces than tears of joy.

This whole biochemical profile will alter dramatically when the person finds a new job, and it is more satisfying one, his body’s output of neurotransmitters, hormones, receptors, and all other vital biochemicals, down to DNA itself, will start to reflect this sudden turn for the better. Although we assume that DNA is a locked storehouse of genetic information, its active twin, RNA, responds to day-to-day existence. Medical students at exam time show a decreased output of interleukin 2, a critical chemical in the immune response that fight cancer. The production of interleukin 2, is controlled by messenger RNA, which means that the student’s anxiety over passing his examns is speaking directly to his genes.

This point reinforces the great need to use our awareness to create the bodies we actually want. Anxiety over a medical exam eventually passes, as does depression over a lost job, but the aging process has to be countered every year. Your interpretation of how you are aging is critical to what happens over the next four, five, or six decades. In neurological terms, a brain signal is just a set of energy fluctuations. If you are in a coma, these signals are meaningless; when you are alert and aware, the same signals are open to infinite creative interpretations. Shakespeare was not being metaphorical when he wrote Prospero’s line “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” The body is like a manifest dream, a 3-D projection of brain signals as they transform themselves into the state we call “real.”

Aging is nothing but a set of misguided transformations, processes that should remain stable, balanced, an self-renewing but deviate from their proper course. This appears as a physical change, yet what has really happened is that your awareness—whether in your mind or your cells doesn’t matter, you can bring your body’s biochemistry back into line. There is no biochemistry outside awareness; every cell in your body is totally aware of how you think and feel about yourself. Once you accept that fact, the whole illusion of being victimized by a mindless, randomly degenerating body falls away.