Watching My Mind
This week, astrology inspired an elaborate fire ceremony in the “Homa” building. It’s a beautiful small stone building created for the purpose of performing fire ceremonies on special occasions. This occasion had something to do with Saturn. Anyhow, all I know is that I was asked to live stream the ceremony online, if possible. I’ll spare you the details of why it took me all day to make that possible in the building that doesn’t have an internet connection … It was finally working with 10 minutes to spare!
The ceremony started. I didn’t know how long it would go on, but I was ready to man the video camera for the whole thing. Standing. The first hour went by, and the fire still wasn’t started! At the beginning, many papers were being read from. I think it was details about people who had sponsored the homa or requested to be remembered and included. After many beautiful mantras and traditional puja offerings of flowers, incense, food, etc, the fire was eventually lit. The room was pretty crowded with probably 30 people. I was loving the ambience, even though I didn’t understand the details about the occasion. Unfortunately, the exhaust fan was not keeping up with the smoke that was being generated! The windows were then opened and that helped to reduce both the smoke and the temperature. Nonetheless, my eyes were burning from all the smoke. What could I do? I closed my eyes. The video guy closed his eyes! LOL. Every so often I opened them to adjust the camera.
With my eyes closed, and the loud mantras being chanted by three priests, and the smoke, and the crowded conditions, I decided to spend my time interpreting the meaning of the fire ceremony based on the Vedanta teachings that I’ve been immersed in for the past seven months. The essence of the teaching is to stop identifying with this body, mind and ego. To realize that you exist even without these “vehicles”. To constantly live in pure awareness of your true Being, which is ever present, ever shining. I decided to imagine that the fire was burning up my ego. Then, I would remain vigilant to find out what was left when the ego was gone. Wow. With the ego gone, it was such a relief! All mental tension disappeared. No ego >> No tension. What a blessing! Then I noticed tension returning, and I noticed that the tension had a “form” that emerged out of ego. What was the form? Preference. I realized that my ego-based preferences were the cause of any tensions that would arise in my mind. Wow. I had found a simple way to defeat the ego — Give up preferences! So simple! But what is simple is not always easy. By this time, the ceremony was soon going to end. Everybody stood up for the closing prayers, etc. Fortunately, those who were in front of me left a gap so that the camera could still see the fire pit. Then something very interesting happened. A man arrived from outside and was looking for a place to stand. He was walking along the back of the crowd and was going to pass me. We had eye contact. I’m sure he must have seen the camera on the tripod. Nonetheless, he decided to stand right in the gap in front of the camera. This gave him an excellent view of the fire, which he could not see otherwise, being short as he was. Hmmmmmm. I found out that I had a preference. I preferred that he would not stand there! My blissful peace of mind suddenly was eclipsed by preference. It was such a graphic confirmation of the conclusion I had just reached about “preference” that I had to laugh at myself. I soon discovered that I could lift up the camera and tripod to get a view over his head. (I certainly did not feel that it would be right in this case to create a distraction for everyone by requesting him to move out of the way.) All was well for a few minutes, then I noticed that the HDMI cable had pulled out of the broadcasting device due to lifting the tripod. I realized that I had a strong preference that that should not happen! Another confirmation that preference is linked to losing peace of mind. Soooo, on one hand, I feel so grateful for the realization about the part that preference plays in my moment to moment living. On the other hand, I see that to defeat preference may take some time. It starts with noticing when it appears. Preference may always be a part of life. It may be appropriate and helpful, too. The challenge I see before me is to detach preference from my peace of mind. This, I believe, can only happen when I let go of ego. Such was my Homa experience.
I realize that this is a longer newsletter than usual. This is most likely the last edition before I head back to Mount Shasta on January 6th. The initial inspiration behind writing these newsletters in the first place was to keep my Mount Shasta friends up to date about how I’m doing in Pennsylvania while I’m gone from home. Now there are many friends and family receiving it who are not at Mount Shasta. I could continue to write newsletters when I’m at Mount Shasta between now and when I return to Pennsylvania at the end of May. Just let me know if you’d like that. Otherwise, I’ll take a break till May.
Holiday Blessings and Love,
QUOTES FROM MY NOTES
Unfortunately, when our desires are fulfilled, we are still not satisfied. More flames of desire flare up. In spite of this repeated experience, it doesn’t occur to us that desires fail us. They fail to lead to a life of fulfillment.
Actually, the desire behind all desires is to be free from desire. Think about it.
Start to see God more and more in all people and all things. If you can’t see God in the city yet, at least see Him in nature. If you can’t love all people yet, at least increase the circle of people you love without expectations. Love them as they are.
Don’t let your desire for happiness and love be like the desire of the man trying to find his glasses when they are on top of his head. Looking all around outside does not help.