2004 November

The War Within
Deepavali is freedom from fear
Introduction to Crystals
Gayathri Devi
Mother Kali
Mata Amritanandamayi
The Penance of MukundaBook
Review: Death must die
On Love
Sri Yantra
Guidelines to inspired living

Selected Articles

The War Within

by Swami Shankarananda

The war within is associated largely with confusion. What then is confusion? It would be safer to say confusion is doing what is unnecessary and failing to do what is necessary. This is our condition on this journey. We fight with our family and friends, but fail to fight our worst enemy, our own self-will and separateness.

We have been so conditioned to search for happiness and sense-pleasure that defying these urges appears to be a denial of life itself. Actually, the opposite is true. As we progress on the Spiritual Path, our vision begins to clear and our passions begin to come under our control. We discover that we have been pursuing agitation instead of joy, and material accumulation instead of security.

The curious thing is that we are convinced we can isolate pleasure as our own private possession, although it has escaped our grasp time and again. We may have failed in the past, but the next time we think we will succeed for sure and we go on trying. This reminds me of a story about our flair for chasing pleasure and profits.

Two dogs (Alsatians) were trying to catch a rainbow over a water sprinkler so that they could take it to their doghouse. One after the other they would jump into the spray and snap at the rainbow hovering there. As soon as one had finished his jump, the other would follow right on his heels as if to say, “You don’t know how to do it. Let me show you,” over and over again. This is what we do when we try to catch the rainbow that is personal pleasure, power, profit and prestige. Even though we go through the experience many times, we do not seem able to learn from it.

It is not surprising that we follow passing pleasure instead of abiding joy, when we consider the extensive influences of the mass media and the widespread use of advertising that we are exposed to from childhood. We are conditioned to believe that we are our body, senses and mind, and that happiness lies in satisfying these whims and desires. We have become so accustomed to telling Mr Ego, “You say, I do,” that the very idea of questioning his authority by training the senses and changing our attitudes, makes us tremble in anxiety. Mr Ego has no control of the Real Self, the Absolute Truth. You can realise the Absolute Truth by dispelling confusion and thereby stopping the war within.We are all suffering from a very contemporary malady: paralysis of the will. This is the reason for many of our problems. We all say we want to put an end to this war, yet go on making missiles, guns, tanks and bombs in our thoughts of brutality, violence and assault, arming oursleves in the name of peace. We are alarmed about violence, yet we let our children watch hour after hour of violent TV programmes. We are concerned about mind pollution, but we pour pollutants by the ton into our minds, rivers and oceans. By so doing we make prana unfit. We lack the will and wisdom to translate our desires into effective action.

Mother Kali
by Mahavishnu

Kali, the Divine Mother, has been largely misunderstood in the West. As a result, people have labelled her as something evil rather than a source of joy. Who or what is Kali?

I recently had the opportunity to read Elizabeth Usha Harding’s book, Kali: the Black Goddess of Dakshineswar. It indeed did clear many doubts, but I must admit that it created a few more.

Most major religions do not acknowledge the feminine power of God. Hinduism is totally different. Worshiping the Mother as God is a most natural thing to do, for if a child falls, does he not cry for his mother? The Divine Mother is the Kundalini Shakti (dormant snake) sleeping in us, and without worshiping her, we may never know ourselves. The Mother is energy, and matter cannot exist without energy.

Kali is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood forms of God. The ordinary mind perceives Kali as hideous and absurd, whilst the enlightened are acutely aware of her radiance and beauty. While most religions believe in a God that is all good and a Devil that is all bad, Hinduism speaks of one Universal Power that is beyond good and evil. This is the science of non-duality that the Sages of India talked of. The same fire that cooks one’s food can burn down one’s house. So, is fire good or bad?

Kali comes from the word ‘Kala’, or time. Thus she is the power of time which devours all. She is the colour of the darkest night - a deep bluish-black. In physics, all colours disappear in black, just like all things dissolve in Kali. Her hair is loose and indicates freedom. She possesses three eyes, the third being for wisdom; her tongue protrudes and many believe that this is a gesture of coyness because she stepped on the body of her husband. Both a more philosophical interpreta-tion relates this to the gunas. Kali’s tongue symbolises the red Raja Guna, her black shin stands for the Tama Guna. One should conquer the Tama Guna (delusion) by increasing the Raja Guna (literally, one better than tama, one less than satva); and then conquer the Raja Guna by cutting it out with the Satwa Guna (teeth). Kali wears a garland of fifty human skulls, called Varnamala. Each skull represents a letter of the alphabet. Thus she is the One who controls sound.

Mata Amritanandamayi
(Excerpt from Mata Amritanandamayi: A biography)

Here is a mystic accessible to anyone and everyone, with whom you can converse and in whose presence you can feel God. She is humble but firm as the Earth. She is simple yet beautiful like the full moon. She is Love, she is Truth, she is the embodiment of Renunciation and self-sacrifice. She not only teaches but she does. She is a giver of everything and a receiver of nothing. She is soft like a flower, but hard like a diamond. She is a Great Master and a Great Mother. Such is Mata Amritananda-mayi.

She was born in full awareness. Having undergone or displayed (we know not which) rigorous sadhana (spiritual discipline), she then embraced the entire world with love and compassion of indescribable dimensions, the love and compassion that is her very fibre and being.

From her tender childhood she sought out the Divine Mother and Father even without the guidance of a Guru. She withstood the attacks of her kith and kin, of rationalists an miscreants all of whom tried to destroy her. All alone in the midst of this battlefield, she confronted everything unperturbed and with steadfast courage. At the age of 21 she outwardly manifested her state of God-Realisation and at 22 began to initiate seekers of Truth into spiritual life. By the age of 27, the Holy Mother had established the spiritual headquarters of her international Mission in the house of her birth. Five years later there were nearly 20 branch Ashrams throughout India and abroad. At the age of 33, in response to the invitation of her devotees in America and Europe, the Holy Mother made her first world tour inspiring and uplifting many people around the world.

Above all, she has counselled, wiped the tears and removed the burdens of thousands and thousands of people forma ll walks of life and from every corner of the earth. It is left to you, dear reader, to decide who and what she is through the intuition of your heart . . .

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