March Madness

by David Life |
March, 2018
om purnam adah purnam idam, purnat purnam udachyate, purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavashishyate

That is the whole. This is the whole. From the whole the whole becomes manifest. From the whole when the whole is negated, what remains is whole again.

From Yajur Veda and the Isha Upanishad

Audio translation of the purnam mantra provided by Manorama.

“Realize that your true nature is that of pure light only, and both the perceived, and the perceiver come and go together. That which makes both possible, and yet is neither, is your real being, which means not being a ‘this’ or ‘that’ but pure awareness of being and not-being.” – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

There once was a great cosmic shopping center within which were two completely separate worlds known as This and That. Due to marketing strategies and competing brand identities This and That came to a condition of war and threatened each other’s existence.

The ruler of This was a fine king named Thisius, and the ruler of That was an equally fine king named Thatsus. Both of these rulers believed in the Free and Open Market, but were influenced by greedy and self-serving advisors that urged them that it was necessary to out-compete each other to survive. This competition was not destructive until both kings began to manufacture WMDs.

The people who lived in This world were called These and the residents of That world were called Those. Both These and Those were locked in a vicious battle to destroy each other and to dominate the cosmic market. The results of this battle would determine the future of All That Is. These and Those alike, fought desperate battles in the basement of the great cosmic shopping center and many lives, and much blood and wealth was lost. The war lasted for lifetimes and became known as The War to end All Wars, or The Great Liquidation.

At the end of The War to end All Wars, the few These and Those that remained standing were fierce and stubborn about dominating the markets of time and space. They began to breed more human beings for the sole purpose of consuming their products. These careful planners knew that there was a need to develop a new priest class of human beings who preached a religion of Liberation Through Acquisition of This and That. Although neither This nor That any longer had a factual existence after the great war, human beings still believed that they existed, and that human Happiness was predicated on knowing the way of Liberation Through Acquisition. The fulfillment of human life was the possession of This and That. Through a revolutionary cloning technology this mentality of buying or stealing Happiness became the dominant human trait. Human beings believed that anyone who beheld the Book of the Way from Here to There came to possess This and That and was called a “Knower of the True Way and a Holder of Happiness.” This was Liberation Through Acquisition.

Our perception of wholeness or completeness is based on a narrative of impoverishment. The only way to be whole is to impoverish the life of someone else. We rush to be the first to the electronics store for the new iPhone, or the grocery store before the hurricane strikes. Even though very few of us have ever actually experienced true deprivation we live in fear of not having enough. Consequently, we never have enough and struggle to get more. The poor among us never have enough, and the rich also suffer the same fate. Nothing can buy happiness. Nothing can buy contentment.  Nothing satisfies our hunger as we grow unhappy.

As Swami Beyondananda says to promote his product–(an empty box labeled “Nothing”)–“No matter what your problem is, Nothing will help; Nothing is known to cure baldness; Nothing gets out those impossible stains; Nothing is completely safe to eat; Nothing lasts forever; Nothing beats sex; It’s the ultimate enlightenment tool because the secret to everything is Nothing; if you understand Nothing, you understand everything.” The key to understanding Nothing is to break down the word into it’s components No-Thing, No-This, No-That will help your problem. Only in realizing the wholeness of everything will you find fulfillment and contentment.

Teaching Tips

  1. Read I Am That, transcriptions of talks by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Don’t miss chapter 77: ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ are False Ideas. Sri Nisargadattta and Sri Brahmananda Saraswati were gurubhais. Their teacher was Baba Bhagavandas of Mumbai (not the American kirtan singer,) who taught ‘The form of Truth is covered by a golden disk. Oh real seeker, open the golden disk so that you may see the Truth…Each soul is indeed that great Purusha who dwells in the sun.” The sun is given to all freely, and cannot be bought or sold, not even in vacation packages to the Carribean!
  2. Refresh your reading of Sri Brahmananda Saraswati, like The Causes of Suffering and the Cause of Freedom where he writes: “The Purusha is identifying itself with Prakriti, that is to say, with the not self, the body and its accouterments, and becomes deluded and ignorant, groping in the darkness of avidya…”
  3. There are many articles online about shopping providing happiness. This idea has really led to addictive behavior in people that drives world economies. It really seems that we have been genetically programed to seek happiness by shopping. Investigate themes in class like the real meaning of “happiness.” Do we shop for spiritual stuff (gurus, yoga styles and accessories)? Are possessions a burden or a blessing? Do we ever really possess anything, or do we really just borrow it temporarily? Does this mean that poor people, who cannot shop, are irrevocably unhappy? This can lead to some lively discussion.
  4. Investigate the idea of money as coupons representing our life-force investment that are redeemable in various ways. Ask, “How do you want to spend your life?”
  5. Approach yoga asana as a process of “becoming,” “discovering,” or “remembering.” Clean up your language – eliminate instructions like “Holding shoulder stand,” “Take trikonasana,” that imply that the asana is a “thing” or object that can be held, taken and owned. Speak to yoga as “who we are,” rather than “what we get, or buy.”
  6. This month emphasize asana for more breaths by gradually increasing the breath count over the month in each asana. Try to de-emphasize quantity of asana and emphasize quality and depth of experience. Get the students to talk about their tendency to equate quality to quantity, or, quality in a yoga class to novelty, rather than consistency. Discuss the ideas of “practice” vs. “entertainment.”