In this article, taken from a recent issue of Prabuddha Bharata, Babaji expounds on the Eternal Truth through the portal of Universal Religion. The Truth is One, and the sages merely call it by different names.
The Twenty-Four Aspects of Mother Kali, then, represent in book form an attempt to remind humanity of their divine parentage, of their divine nature, of their source of origin. It is hoped that those who are still asleep to this supreme verity called the Divine Mother of the Universe will have their inherent spirituality awakened; that those who have fallen into complacency or despondency will have their commitment to this non-dual Truth of existence rekindled; that those who are already abiding in this Truth will further exult in this sublime Essence of pure Being and continue to spread the pure light of Timeless Awareness to all inhabitants sporting consciously or unconsciously in the boundless ocean of the Universal Mother’s ineffable Grace.
Many do not believe in the innate divinity of mankind. Some are verily antagonistic to the very idea. Others, who have even allowed such a sententious thought room in their minds, only default to a position of eternal separation wherein they admit human beings capable of doing good but judge them all intrinsically fallible by nature. Thus they conceive human beings as ever disparate or dissimilar with God, who is perceived as being somewhere outside of them or, at best, only occasionally entering into the human condition under miraculous conditions. Thankfully, there are also the nondualists, who have experienced indivisible Awareness within themselves and have rendered even this universe blissful by gazing through the “Single Eye of Truth.” Jesus of Nazareth was one such, stating, “I and my Father are One.” Out of the antiquitous Treta Yuga, Sri Ram was another: “The embodied being is actually all-pervading and endless. It is one without a second, unaffected by anything, eternal, pure, and of the nature of Consciousness.” Lord Buddha of India took the nondual view: “Freed from reckoning by the material shape, feeling, perception, or consciousness, is the Tathagata; he is deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, as is the great ocean.” From among the greatest of Christian mystics, Meister Eckhart explains: “Those who would see God must see as God sees.” More currently, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Bengal states: “When the mind merges in Brahman the individual soul and the Supreme Soul become one. The aspirant goes into samadhi. His consciousness of the body and knowledge of the world disappears. He does not behold the many anymore. His reasoning stops.”
Included in the pages of Nectar’s Spring issue are articles to inspire us on towards practice and attainment of all things noble that we cherish and seek after. From unassailable truths to heartfelt devotions, from fervid aspirations to unwavering probity, from refined emotions to words of well-considered reformation, from sedulous and sincere striving to the selfless sacrifice it entails — it is all here in Nectar. May all beings imbibe the nectar of nonduality, and feel the salubrious effects of its revivifying presence.
Given this conundrum, it is no wonder that the key of innate spirituality and its superlative aim is held out again and again, from age to age and lifetime to lifetime, by truly compassionate beings who have tasted freedom and spare no efforts in order to share it with suffering humanity. And they often initiate the process of its discovery in seeking and suffering beings by pointing out the need for an intense yearning to be free. “Cry, oh mind, with a real cry,” sings Ramprasad Sen, “and the Mother of the Universe will not be able to withhold Her sweet Presence from you any longer.” “Beings cry jugs of tears for mates, money and materials,” states Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, “but shed not one tear for God.” Furthermore, our intense yearning to be free must lead us straightaway to the path, the teacher and the specific formula for the attainment of divine life which best suits each individual’s karmas, abilities, and capacities. The thorough breakdown of all that impedes — doubt, fear, misconception, inordinate desire — is brought to bear in life by the cultivation of spirituality via hands-on practice. Without it, there adheres in the mental body a whole host of various forms of attachment, call them what you will, many of them masquerading meekly as freedom. As Sri Shankaracharya poignantly puts it: “When I was a baby I was attached to my mother’s breast; when I was a young man I was attached to a young woman; when I was old I was attached to anxiety; but to the Supreme Brahman, alas, I was never attached."
Nectar of Nondual Truth leans decidedly towards a religious pluralism free of both the hypocritical sense of superiority and the problem of a complacent religious discernment. That is, equality based upon nonduality, combined with a tenacious scrutiny and inspection of all wisdom teachings, will ensure the vision and purity of the allimportant spiritual realm. Thus, the peoples of the world will forthwith be able to steer clear of the mistakes of the past springing from a lack of, distortion of, or misunderstanding of essential and eternal spiritual principles.
The life-giving waters of Vedanta, Jainism, Vajrayana Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, and Bhakti and Karma Yogas all flow predominantly through the pages of this enlightening issue of Advaita-satya-amritam. Book reviews inclusive of world religions such as Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism also form little liquid pools of its conscious content, while eddies of Sufism, Yoga, Tantra, and Western Philosophy also play with in it — all carried on the powerful but unseen Truth-tide of Nonduality. Read on, dear soul, read on. Get immersed in the Waters of Eternal Life which, like a well-spring appearing near the thirst-filled road of embodiment, brings both peace and Self-realization to the transmigrating soul.
We welcome to the present issue of Nectar a follow-up article on Jainism, a radio interview from the 1970s by Lex Hixon on “Divine Mother Transmission,” an article in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition on destroying delusion by the honorable Anam Thubten Rinpoche, and another article by D.S. Lokanath out of Portland, Oregon. Additionally, we are very gratified to see another of our guru’s articles in print, transcribed from a host of programs I myself recorded at the Vedanta Society of Oregon when he was still alive. In tandem with his discourse, I have offered a fresh article called “The Illusion of Change,” designed to complement the nondual message so expertly put forth by him. May the guru be pleased!
The theme of this issue is peace — individual, terrestrial, mental, and spiritual. Health for the body, preservation of the earth, healing for the emotions, purification of the mind, inspiration for the intellect, inner guidance for spiritual life — all levels of the human life-experience must be consciously catered to with sensitivity and devotion based upon knowledge. For, it is obvious that the many proffered “healing” systems current today which profess integration of body, mind and spirit fall ridiculously short of doing anything beyond mere physical therapy, ignoring almost completely the mind and soul of mankind. Though claims of holistic healing run rampant over the pages of contemporary magazines, the real orientation, directed grossly at gathering, storing, and protecting wealth, is most ponderously placed upon physical health and exercise combined with cosmetic solutions and techniques. These are duly predicated on man’s external existence alone, and designed mainly to satisfy the voracious and vulpine vanity of the body-oriented person inhabiting a materialistic society. Regarding the mind, if it is ill, bored, or imbalanced, a pill is supposed to suffice to put it right, or an extended period of study among the dry, dusty and philosophically anemic volumes of “higher learning” comprising our much vaunted and over-rated fields of Western secular knowledge. For the spirit, the “soul,” there is the growing popularity of overpriced, undernourished seminars, retreats or intensives, designed to bring a being face to face with oneself. Unfortunately, that “self” is, again, the body, for if one can relax it, stretch it, fill it with good food, massage it, steep it for hours in healing waters, run it around the grounds, engage it in sports, and indulge it in some dancing in the evening, the spiritual criterion of “holistic healing” is deemed satisfied and the “spirit” is considered rejuvenated.
Nectar of Nondual Truth concentrates mainly on the nondual element of religion, philosophy, and spirituality, but maintains a close watch on all other perspectives as well. This is because true nondualism is never narrow and exclusive, but latitudinous and all-encompassing. The contents of these pages are a testament to that universal orientation. From the seriously sought after humility which Christianity enjoins upon its monastic communities, to the duality-dissolving, mind-unifying insight which radical nondual Buddhism epitomizes, the avid seeker of Truth perceives the One working among the many in order to reveal to them the One. If that revelation of homogenous unity gets expressed via the treasures of religious tradition, or instead happens to appear in the serendipitous setting of the spontaneous
This unfortunate outcome in the individual family unit is mirrored by the undernourished spiritual life of contemporary living beings in general, due not only to their own debilitating complacency around purificatory practices, but also due to their lack of appreciation, their ambivalence, and even their hostility towards the sacred traditions of the world — religions adhered to by the same-selfed brothers and sisters of the multifarious but inseparable family of mankind. On the other hand, after sincere and one-pointed commitment to Truth is attained, followed up by a firm dedication to one’s path, a sedulous practice, and an unswerving devotion to God and Guru — all constantly cultivated — the onset of spiritual maturation will occur as a matter of course.
In the pages of this bold and well-intentioned journal, as well as in the hoary leaves comprising the revered scriptures of the world, the idea of Nonduality, Advaita, persists. Regardless, there are always and predominantly two things on the minds of living beings, whether they are awakened or unawakened: those are Reality and relativity. The unawakened either do not know about Reality, do not think of It, attempt to escape it in themselves, or remain antagonistic to It. If they accept it at all, in what the seers call the beginnings of spiritual awakening, there is still the considerable problem of overcoming procrastination, prevarication and compromise and swiftly approaching It. As for relativity, the world of name and form perceived via the five senses as being ultimately real, those unawakened to the Divine Verity mistake it to be the Reality, “bartering the infinite wealth at the center of their being for a world of mere colored glass,” as the poet sings. Thus, through lack of natural realization, and unconscious of the underlying presence of Brahman, they default to what the senses report and dictate, and remain satisfied — even through persistent suffering and obvious limitation — with relative existence and what it has to offer.
To this fine end, then, we are to laud and applaud all Nectar contributors towards this singular principle, writers and spiritual leaders from both different walks of life, and from various traditions as well. They are fine examples of the potential of a people united in a world of beings and societies who only grant lip-service to such high-minded causes, but seldom follow through in action and in realization. As Swami Vivekananda has pleaded, “When will man finally be friend to man?”
With such salubrious teachings well-considered, we offer our current helping of Wisdom-Nectar, mainly of or based on the Vedanta. In past issues we have highlighted many of the world’s religions, thereby rendering heartfelt service to the excellent principle of Universality and the harmony of all religions; a timely theme, considering the state of the world and its affairs. But we, as Westerners — videlicet, temporarily embodied souls appearing in a Western setting but espousing no personal or permanent location other than the all-pervasive Atman — feel an inborn affinity with the timeless and eternal Vedanta and feel it has an especial message suited for these times. We thereby and herein emphasize it in a series of intriguing and galvanizing articles designed to preserve yet percolate our precious consciousness, keeping it pure and pellucid.
To Labor is to pray, to conquer is to renounce, to have and to hold is as stern a trust as to quit and to avoid. Life itself is religion. The farmyard and the field, the workshop, the study, the studio are as true and fit scenes for the meeting of God with man as the cell of a monk or the door of a temple. Art, science and religion are but three different ways of expressing a single truth.
On the cover, in the scriptural quote for this issue, we find the rishis of ancient India referring to this nondual Reality in terms of “something hidden.” It is indicated by religious traditions as the Pearl of Great Price, the White Dove Ascending, the Bourne of Freedom from Fear, the Ultimate Quest and other expressions which indicate both the beauty of and the difficulty involved in finding this Treasure, and infer the huge amount of self-effort that will have to be undertaken to succeed in this most excellent endeavor. But purity, practice, patience and perseverance — what can stymie the aspiring soul who approaches Divine Reality with such resolve? If one wants to see patina exude from a copper penny, one places it in a damp atmosphere and watches for days, weeks, even months, until that green substance finally issues forth. What a huge amount of work and effort is involved in gaining a few drops sesame oil from hundreds of seeds! Reality is “hidden,” then. Nature is Its sporting-ground, the universe Its Cosmic Mind, thought-force is Its power to create, revealed scripture is Its revelation, and forms and objects are solid reminders of both Its power to create and Its transcendent and unlimited nature. Yet, all of these are reflections, are insentient material principles. The one Spirit, though It pervades them, is independent of them, and they all get their existence and their ability to shine with reflected light from That. It is Svarupa, to quote the ancients, Essential Being, and everything, everyone else, is Svarupavishranti — always resting in this one essential Being.
Universality is beyond interreligious harmony and outstrips eclecticism. It breathes free, grows, and expands in the rare and exalted atmosphere of the open mind of the sincere and dedicated aspirant. Like the headiness of breathless heights one feels on pilgrimage in the Himalayan mountains, or the inspiration felt by taking pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or the power present when going on Hajj to Mecca, just so Universality verily transports the human mind to lofty experiences of Consciousness felt nowhere else — not even in the life heavens or the causal realms!
Of the many and remarkable subjects, tenets, and axioms that grace the pages of this issue of Nectar, perhaps ahimsa, nonviolence, takes precedence, and vies for the lion’s share of our attentions and consideration. Another important philosophical facet, that of time, corresponds subsequentially, for humanity needs more of this graceful quality in order to work out its tendencies towards harmfulness and realize the utter and ultimate futility of all acts of aggression.
Like previous offerings, this issue of our one-of-a-kind religious magazine has a rich store of wisdom teachings contained within it. One only has to turn to any of its many pages to find a glowing testament to the Truth and its veracious expression through so many illumined vehicles. In this regard we humbly offer our gratitude to the enterprising writers, authors, teachers, and practitioners who generously contributed both time and wisdom towards this positive outcome. Though this work of religious and philosophical egalitarianism may not reflect it outwardly, it is quite a task to find even a small host of open-minded individuals to share essential parts of their respective traditions in a congenial manner in this day and age. That it has been accomplished, and will continue to be, is valid and substantial proof that the spirit of Universality is alive and well in the world. Both care and effort must be taken in the future to ensure that it will never die out.
Herein, sandwiched between wise and heartfelt literary offerings by life-long dedicated writers and practitioners of the Vedanta, living and passed, lie complementary writings on some of the most respected spiritual traditions of the world, all in Nectar-like fashion. And, as usual with Nectar of Nondual Truth, the underlying theme which connects all of these beings and their mature perspectives together is that of Universality. Just as the Formless Reality called Brahman makes up the unseen but pervasive substratum for all that lies in the diverse realm of name and form, so does the eternal tenet of Universality support and weave together all religious traditions. When recognition of this great truth dawns on the human mind, it is immediately free, on so many levels.
The mysteries of the soul have evaded mystics, sages, and gurus for centuries. Humanity has long yearned to discover the answer to our existence, and many spiritual traditions have evolved to provide those answers through sacred texts that facilitate journeys of transformation and discovery. Yet, never before have all of the spiritual traditions been distilled so simply into one easy-to-follow path—a path of love and devotion.
In this long-awaited follow-up to The Journey Home, New York Times bestseller The Journey Within guides readers through the essential teachings of bhakti yoga. World-renowned spiritual leader Radhanath Swami draws from his personal experiences to demystify the ancient devotional path of bhakti, capturing its essence and explaining its simple principles for balancing our lives.
His down-to-earth writing simplifies spiritual concepts and answers timeless questions in a heartfelt narrative that brings this sacred philosophy beautifully to life. What is love? What is the soul? Who is God? How can we live in the physical world without losing touch with the spiritual?
In concise and approachable language, Radhanath Swami sheds light on how to answer these vital questions and offers solutions to life’s challenges with the simplest of resources. Reach beyond the material world and journey within to discover the beauty of the true self.
How is music made sacred? Is it sacred already? Is all dance divine? Does all poetry reflect the divine muse within? Do all works of art speak of the highest realization? Does it really matter, or is all realization, like beauty, in “the eye of the beholder?” Possibly some of these questions may find answers in the following pages. But if not, suffice to say that where the medium is purified — where a lustral regimen has been adhered to — there, spiritualized expression will reach its zenith. When sensitive artists, seeking the highest, place their gifts and talents in action and offer the fruits of such before the world, they must first and necessarily have subjected them to purification and intensification. Any instrument, whether it be a metal tube or a fleshy tube, a wooden box with strings or a metal box containing film, a tome of writings, a paintbrush, or the human body, is always under the control of consciousness. Like different conditions of water — some fit for drinking, some for swimming, some for washing dishes and some only for carrying waste — the consciousness of human minds is also pure or impure, as the case may be. In artistic endeavor, then, as in spiritual practice, purification of what is limited or impure renders the medium fit to emanate the truth or essence of any given expression, such as inspired choreography, a masterpiece on canvas, an original composition, a unique film, or a work of literary genius — all which have the ability to transform lives. So here is the acid test with regards to true artforms, at least for the discriminating person. As is consistent with all modes of existence — with work, dreams, visions, relative experiences of all types — if they help reveal the divine essence in human nature and assist human character by way of positive accretion, then they can be said to be real, authentic, and ultimately meaningful. Otherwise, too much distraction and wasted energy plague them, as well as their host, all amounting to “vanity and vexation of human spirit."
In view of all this, when one considers ultimate solutions, there is nothing that compares with that of Universality. Universal religious outlook, universal philosophical perspective, universal compassion, universal service of mankind, a more universal mindset — even a more universally-based business and politics — all would be welcome alternatives to the ponderous and ineffective arsenal of methodical weapons that nations and peoples are presently utilizing to try to stem the tide of pervasive human suffering. True, religion nowadays has become an obvious caricature of itself, and philosophy has turned into a job and a career instead of a means for the revelation of truth. Even altruistic service, after the many attempts it has made towards drying up the ocean of human misery, has shown us its limitations and its downside.
The Holy Science was written by Sri Yukteswar at the behest of Mahavatar Babaji. In it, Sri Yukteswar compares Sanskrit slokas to the writings of the New Testament. Also explained is the great cycle of world ages (yugas), of which there is currently a transition.
"Like [having] a professional guide walking alongside you answering your many questions. . . . A must for your next China visit!"—Travel Answer Man Online
Compact, affordable, reliable, a delight to read—these qualities are what has made China Survival Guide so popular with first-time and seasoned China travelers. This third edition has a brand new section on train travel, plus updates and fresh recommendations. Includes practical strategies for lodging, walking, haggling, medical and bathroom emergencies, etiquette, crowds, and learning the twin arts of patience and persistence.
Frequent China visitors Larry Herzberg and Qin Herzberg are professors of Chinese language and culture at Calvin College in Michigan.
The pursuit of contentment is an innate part of the human experience, arising from a fundamental sense of lack or inadequacy—all the things we believe to be wrong with us when we compare or judge ourselves. In our search for peace and happiness, we may find ourselves fighting the shadows within us, trying to repress or disown certain qualities, especially our anger, violence, discomfort, craving, and disappointment. But in order to stop this fight, we must expand our understanding beyond the dualities of good versus bad, right versus wrong, and beautiful versus ugly, and accept the parts of ourselves we’ve tried to deny.
Pulling from Eastern traditions including tantra and yoga, and focusing on the feminine principle of divine energy also known as Shakti, this book bridges the divide between dualistic concepts and non-dual philosophy. By exploring the symbolism of the Mahavidyas (Kali, Tara, Tripurasundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Tripura Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi, Matangi, and Kamalatmika)—each with a veiled face representing a destructive quality that perpetuates ignorance and suffering, and a true face representing the wisdom that stimulates profound transformation and liberation—you’ll learn to embrace and incorporate every aspect of who you are.
With practices, self-inquiry prompts, and stories from the author’s own spiritual seeking, this exploration of the divine feminine will gently reveal the source of your fear, pain, and suffering, showing you that when you allow those parts of yourself to arise and simply be, you can finally begin to heal, overcome your limitations, and open to the light and beauty of your true nature.
This book offers a treasury of practical wisdom distilled from the Leveys’ intensive study with many of the world’s most respected authorities of the contemplative science and wisdom traditions, and an introduction to the mind-fitness disciplines necessary for personal mastery, wisdom, creativity, compassion, and resilience in times of increasing intensity and accelerating change. Given how many people needlessly suffer from overwhelm, exhaustion, and preventable stress-related illness, the Leveys’ wisdom is needed now more than ever! This book is an inspiration for complete beginners, long-time meditators, and everyone in between, who seek to deepen and expand their practice.
Dr. Joel and Michelle Levey were among the very first to bring mindfulness and mind-fitness teachings to mainstream organizations beginning in the 1970s. They have taught tens of thousands of people in hundreds of leading corporations, medical centers, universities, sports, government, and military arenas – including Google, NASA, World Bank, Intel, M.I.T., Stanford, and World Business Academy. They are the founders of Wisdom at Work (http://wisdomatwork.com).
Originally published in hardcover as Simple Meditation and Relaxation(Conari Press, 1999) and in paperback as Luminous Mind (Conari Press, 2006).
Qin Xue Herzberg, a graduate of Beijing Normal University, has taught Chinese for decades and has been an upper-level Chinese professor at Calvin College for ten years.
Larry Herzberg did his PhD work in Chinese and founded the Chinese language programs at Albion College and Calvin College.
Qin and Larry live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and are co-authors of the popular China Survival Guide as well as Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings.