• megna paula

Higher Purpose and the Hotel California

Hinduism is like the Hotel California: there is plenty of room; you can check out, but you can never leave.

No Hindu will ever convince you to convert to Hinduism because there is no conversion process. You want to be a Hindu? Great, you are. You want out? There’s no process for that either. Believe anything you like, choose any god you like, and if it doesn’t match a current Hindu god or goddess, there is plenty of room in the pantheon for another. Jesus is popular in India, as is Christmas: the more gods, the more holidays, the better. Oh, do you only want one god? That concept is the starting point of all the faces we celebrate.

The one god of ancient India has any number of names: 108 names, or 1000, or more, or less, depending on who you ask, and when. Around 500 BC, Patanjali chose Ishvara, as in: Ishvara pranidhana, the foundational philosophical principle of the yogi lifestyle. Directly translated, it means that the yogi is devoted to Ishvara, lives for the higher purpose, beyond human societal rules, or selfish desires.

Ishvara can be shown as Shiva, the first yogi, the god of ascetics. Shown in dreadlocks, eyes closed and third eye open, mostly naked, usually high, awakened to the ultimate reality, far beyond societal norms, Shiva dances the cosmic dance of destruction.

(Some dance to remember/some dance to forget)

When we look to escape the cycles of human existence, we try to stop the endless craving/satisfaction, pain/pleasure, but the cosmic cycles are eternal: destruction/creation. It is the law of conservation of mass, which tells us that energy is undying, in dynamic flux, a constant transformation where birthing is dying is birthing.

To see beyond our narrow visions is to live with a higher purpose in mind, devoted to the cosmic energy, which is also called Atman. If you prefer god, or spirit, or atheism, or any other dualistic/monotheistic concept, that’s all folded in. The primary concept to look at is this: the sacred.

What is sacred? Or secret, or treasured?

Sacred is what we honor, respect. Secret is what we hold to ourselves, what exists but we take the time to deny its existence to others, or some others, or even to ourselves. Treasure, or luxury, is what we revel in, the indulgence in what is not-necessary, something special saved from the commonplace.

When we make our luxuries secret, we hide what we treasure, we keep something precious to ourselves. This creates separation and the energy drain that goes along with it. We spend energy protecting, hoarding, saving, and so cannot use the treasure, or our own energetic resources, well or enjoyably.

When we pair the sacred with the secret, we have yogic teachings: the esoteric, what is earned and taught directly from teacher to student, not available on mass media despite all appearances otherwise. There is depth, and that necessarily means inaccessibility.

To have a sacred luxury, we elevate our actions and possessions from common to sanctified. These are rituals, turning daily motions into acts of worship, turning mundane to divine.

When we step outside of these categories of separation, we move to a higher purpose where nothing is kept apart, everything is shared, everything is sacred, all actions are for Ishvara, or for the whole of humanity, beginning with the wholeness of the yogi.

This is not an easy process.

The human mind has difficulty with vastness, with conceiving the infinite; the human body does not do well with excess. In nature, there is no excess: there is abundance, which is shared among humans and animals. Anything that is not consumed is naturally composted, returned to earth, recycled by other living entities.

Today, we measure everything except for greed. Our excesses make us not just fat but crazy: we are so far removed from nature that we find it increasingly difficult to return/recycle the abundance that we cannot consume. That is for the material: the food, the clothing, the technology that goes quickly out of style and accumulates anyway. When it comes to space-time, we bound ourselves with increasingly minute measurements, flirting with over-consumption (rushing through time; languishing bodies in space) and constantly seeking more: energy, focus, time, rather than savoring the limited space-time that we have as mortals in modern conditions.

(Her mind is Tiffany twisted)

If most of us have so much, and some of us do not, why is it so difficult to share? Storing for perceived future difficulties is part of the farmer’s mentality, and cold weather mentality, counter-intuitive for the warm-weather hunter-gather mindset that trusts in the abundance of nature and mobility of humanity.

We evolved in small communities (before community was a trending topic), close-knit tribes of about 100 humans, which is about the population of a Hotel California, or a modest sized Indian family.

To give you perspective on the ancient yogi mindset: Patanjali was philosophizing at the cusp of the transition from hunter-gatherer to totally-settled. The transition between cultural norms is when value differences are most stark; they are reflected in the yogi philosophy. When humans were nomadic, possessions were minimal. Accumulation restricted ease of movement and elevated communal strife, jealousy, thievery. Most hunter gatherer societies have social norms that create total equality among members.

(Relax, said the night man/ We are programmed to receive)

Ancient yogis were traditionally nomadic, rejecting society and societal values (sedentary, householder life) to wander forest ashrams, live off the land, and return to natural values. Today, our nomads work in tech and communities are created by investors and entrepreneurs designing the return to human nature. Yoga reconnects the human mind with the mystery of thee unmeasurable, and a renewed vision of how humanity can live happily ever after: sharing our time, our space, and vision of a higher purpose.

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