Part 1: Intro
Two years ago, in another blog series—How I Came to Live in a Spiritual Community in the Northern California Foothills—I told the tale of the events that led me to leave my job and career in computer science, and eventually leave Los Angeles to go live in a spiritual community with a population of 200, in the foothills of northern California. Tonight, two years later, sitting on my bed in my condo on the 36th floor of a residential high-rise in the busy city of Bangkok, Thailand, I decided that it would do me, and maybe some other people, some good to look back and recount how on earth I ended up here.
In the spring of 2015, when I had quit my job with a programming languages research group, a flurry of creative grace was enveloping me. It had been a couple of years of becoming acquainted with the teachings of yoga (outside what one presumes by checking out a class in a yoga studio). I had found a great deal of presence of mind and inner happiness, become a certified yoga and meditation teacher, and spiritual poetry and writings and ideas were flowing through me seemingly seamlessly. Even though I was leaving my academic research work at the top of my career, and a field that has always been mind-candy to me, I had no qualms about it, or any intention of returning to it. A retired programmer and researcher. Sounded fine to me. I had found a better and bigger cake to stuff my face with: Self realization and God.
Part 2: Hard to Dig, Easy to Fill
Things were pretty great up there at my spiritual commune. I spent several months as part of a Karma Yoga program. Living the quiet life in the peaceful nature, doing some cleaning shifts at the retreat, some classes on the teachings of yoga, morning and evening yoga and meditation practice. The good, peaceful, life. I was in joy.
Back then I wasn’t doing much thinking. But a lot of just being. That’s why I was light and happy. The peaceful, simple daily routine had afforded me to be. Others there occasionally spoke of my “natural joyfulness”. Joyful? That’s one word I hadn’t traditionally seen myself having any relations with. If anything, I had always considered myself deep, melancholic. But if I were thinking, if you had asked me, I might have thought I had found it! The golden key of happiness through devotion to a divinity within me and all around, and inner contentment. Happiness through that which is unchanging is itself eternal.
Evidently, however, I hadn’t reached the end goal, but just a short respite. Neither had I acquired the key to enlightenment. I had simply taken a refuge in a temporary place and time that allowed me to avoid any activity that revealed my lack there of!
After several months I graduated from the Karma Yoga program, and began integrating more into jobs at other departments in our commune. Before I knew it, half of my work hours were being spent with the tech department, given my background, where I was to develop a prayer mobile app for the organization. And that’s how cracks began to appear. Big ones. I thought I had left the world of software and programming for good, and here I was pretty excited about getting into mobile app development, using my skills to serve my spiritual community.
One day, as I was working at the tech department office, one of my good friends passed by my desk. But I barely noticed. “Are you OK?!” she uttered. Having previously only seen me while we’re both working at Karma Yoga shifts, I guess she almost couldn’t recognize me, in my state of total lack of presence, fully lost in the mind and the serious “problem” at hand, as I was staring at my laptop screen. “Yeah” I mumbled and resumed my typing. This seemingly small event remained with me, as it turned out to be telling of what was to come for me. The main next challenge in my evolution was upon me.
There’s no falsehood in this statement: Happiness through that which is unchanging is, indeed, eternal. The only caveat is, there’s no guarantee that one’s present attention remains with that which is unchanging! There’s a whole world out there, always calling you in! That’s the predicament of human mind!
Pure presence in the moment, along with the joy that comes with it, do indeed always live underneath our mud of mind and emotional distractions. Alas, it seems like digging through the mud to get to the joy takes a whole lot of effort, while filling it all back up with that mud takes but a few seconds!
Part 3: One Body, One Track
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I hadn’t failed, by losing myself to my work. Rather, I understood, that I was just graduating to the next grade, in the school of personal development, by picking up my life’s work once again. The challenge: reliving the inner calm and joy I had on and off experienced off the job, now on the job. Or to take it to a grander scale: outside the world, now in the world.
Several months ago, before moving to Asia, one day my dad mentioned in passing something about my lacking enough confidence, and how much more could I have done if I had it. I didn’t admit it out loud, yet silently I acknowledged that he was right. As far back as I remember, my shyness and lack of confidence, in social situations, personal relations, and to a lesser degree at my career, have hindered me a great deal, preventing me to realize my full potential.
The thought remained in the back of my mind all the while, until a few weeks ago, when I finally picked up a self-help audio book on confidence. I’ve never been big on self-help books, so this was somewhat unprecedented, and a big step—acceptance. Accepting that, though I hated to admit it, I did lack confidence and that I needed another person to help me with it.
The book starts with an activity to make a list of your goals: “What do you really want?” It was a revelation and an alarm, as I discovered I couldn’t quite put my finger on, or clearly picture, whatever the heck it is that I wanted. I realized, even if I had a genie in a bottle, I couldn’t fucking describe to him what I wanted. I had no clue myself! It’s too fuzzy and unclear. Yeah, I have a vague notion that I want to do well at my job, but if I can’t see what “doing well” really looks like, how am I supposed to manifest it, or get there? Yeah, I do seem to have a desire for a love connection and companion, but I can’t seem to picture it. I do and don’t want a relationship. I want freedom. I want to give and feel love. I don’t want anybody to be in my shit. I want to be alone with my happy self. What the fuck! This exercise was really useful and powerful. I recommend it. It motivated me to at least make an attempt to formulate, a bit more concretely, where do I want to be.
After finding the path of yoga in 2013, going through the motions of hopping on the spiritual path, I quickly lost interest in anything “nonspiritual”. I wouldn’t watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a song, unless it was on a spiritual topic. Moreover, I would sneer inside at all the self-help stuff: money, dating advice, what have you. “I’m above all this crap! After all, I am after enlightenment and freedom! Who cares about this petty worldly stuff.”
This is a common trap that individuals like myself, who’ve “become spiritual” tend to fall into. We begin to view the spiritual journey as a separate track from the ordinary life; that if you want spiritual progress, then you should check out and get off the worldly track, and hop on the spiritual track. But this is complete bull crap.
I began to notice in myself and others around me, a lot of undeveloped aspects, because of lack of practice and ripening in the real world, in the name of a spiritual focus.
The truth is that there is only “one” of us—one body. All the layers of our bodies—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual—are profoundly connected and interrelated, as one being. Only when all our body sheets arrive at a complete harmony and stillness together, as one being, then magic can happen. Only then can the Self be fully realized. Only then enlightenment can be ours.
Can you imagine hearing: “Thus, Siddhartha become the Buddha, the Awakened one. Yet, he was still a little shy around women, didn’t project his voice well in public speech, and had a funny reaction in his stomach whenever a certain villager walked by.” I don’t think so! I think for Siddhartha to have become the Buddha, he had to harmonize and perfect his entire being, every layer of his body, all together.
Now, half way into my home for two and a half years at the spiritual commune, a process had started in me that was bringing my work and attention back to the larger world. I was coming to a realization that there’s no two parallel tracks! There’s a single track. Personal development and spiritual advancement are one and the same. I think we cannot cheat life, by skipping grades. I think we have to become good at this life thing. I don’t think we can say: “Yeah I’m lacking motivation to directly contribute to the world, have a low self-esteem, and don’t seem to get along with people or have much enthusiasm for life. But who cares because all I want is to find freedom and God!” Bull crap! Because, guess what. This is God! Not until I improve myself in all areas, from the mundane and physical to the spiritual levels, will I be able to take steps forward towards my highest potential.
Part 4: Attachment Test, Freedom Prize
Another few months went by. I had now completed the windy year-long procedures that one had to walk through in order to become an “official” resident at the commune, all designed to ensure a good fit for the both sides. It was time to be assigned a full-time job(s), which like anything else at the tiny community, was never an individual decision. I have to share a story about this time.
As I said before, my main contribution had been at the tech department. Now with plans to take the role of the main developer for a new meditation app that was to be made, I was assuming I’ll just be signing on the job automatically. Having been one of the proponents of the idea myself, I was quite excited to get it going. A few days before the end of the previous program I was on, our HR person approached me and wanted to have a chat. She said the yoga retreat could really use a person at the front desk, greeting people and answering phone calls. While I was startled for a few seconds, I quickly noticed a powerful sensation inside my heart: the openness and freedom in realizing that none of us could really know, with certainty, where and what we’re going to be or be doing tomorrow. I felt really free. It felt like a ton of “ideas” and “concerns” where flushed out of my mind, making it empty and free to be present in the moment, simply because they were irrelevant now!
It turned out that it didn’t matter anyway. The next day, after a chat between my boss at the tech office and the HR lady, it was decided that I was needed full-time for the app development. This quick change, and the quicker change back, made me wonder whether, deliberately or not, this had been a test to measure my attachment to my role and job.
While in this case I did well, more often than not I have struggled with this. Here’s what I shared in a post recently:
My whole life, I feel, is a process of “Neti Neti”—Sanskrit for: “Not this. Not that.” Life, it seems to me more than anything else, is one giant devil’s advocate. Whenever I think I’m a big shot, it brings me an experience to feel I’m a nobody. If I feel I’m a nobody, it tells me through some experience that I am somebody. If I ever feel I know something, sure enough it’ll soon bring me to a place where I feel I know nothing. If I ever feel I’m good looking, it makes me feel I’m ugly soon enough. If I agree with it and settle on being ugly, soon I start to feel handsome. If I decide that I’m depressed, it brings me a moment’s experience of joy. If I feel I have found joy, sooner than later it’ll bring me down with something. If I decide I want to be a monk, it’ll tell me to open up to human love. If I look for love, it’ll close every door on my face. If I ever decide that I have found a purpose in life, it’ll soon demonstrate to me that those who don’t think of purpose are the happiest. If I give it up and decide life’s got no meaning but to just be, it’s soon going to tell me I have great work to do.
It is a great leap in personal and spiritual development to ease and eventually drop the hold of our minds about our own self-identities in this life. There’s great empowerment in the embracing of “I am not THAT”, whatever THAT happens to be at this moment. This attitude is by no means a cop-out. Rather, it enables us to do whatever that’s in front of us from a place of full vision and power.
A similar momentous and freedom-inducing event happened to me about a year and half later, at the instant I realized I was leaving my commune soon, not to move to San Diego, California, as I had planned, but Thailand. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Part 5: Expanding Inside-Out
I began my full-time job to work on a new meditation app. I wasn’t getting much better at staying present or joyful while at the job. I just wasn’t as shocked anymore to find myself so out of presence so often. I was more aware of being unaware! I was getting used to going in and out of presence, like a hundred times, during my days. So I began a discipline to help me get better at this. I started taking microbreaks, lifting my eyes off the screen for a few seconds, to close my eyes, or to look at Yogananda–my guru–whose pictures were in abundance on the building walls at my spiritual community. In the mornings, before entering the office, I would take a minute to close my eyes, face the sun, and salute the Divine Mother within and without. All this was helping. Yet I knew well by then that my wanting to stay present throughout a day’s challenging and mental activities is more of a lifetime goal than a “21-day challenge”.
The app development project was going well, and now I was having other ideas for new apps, such as one to support a K-12 school educational organization that is affiliated with our spiritual community and organization. At the same time I was keenly aware of us being severely under-resourced. To be able to deliver this and other project ideas in any reasonable time, we needed a small team of developers, not just me. However, there was no one available in the community with the experience and programming skills that I could team up with. This situation led me to a new idea that ended up defining my current life work’s trajectory. It was because of this situation that the present time finds me in Thailand and involved with a technology education company.
I thought, “What if I created a crash course on programming and mobile app development, and offered it to the community?” Wishfully I thought, out of the 200 residents, maybe 10 people might be interested to join, and maybe a couple would come out at the other end with enough skills to help me carry out the app development ideas.
Two or three people did start taking my class, but all but one quickly dropped out. One person however ended up persevering through the end, but my efforts did not produce any real, immediate help. However, with my new interest in software development education, and my initial 1-student “pilot” class at the commune, I began to think bigger about education.
First, I realized that if I shared this class online, then many more can benefit from it. A month or two later I produced enough material to put the programming and mobile app development class online as a Udemy course. Several months later I produced two other courses on Udemy, this time with a focus on technology education for K-12 schools. To this day, nearly 20K students have signed up for these courses. I’m not sure how many actually started or finished these online courses, and sadly for me most of it was free enrollment 🙂 Yet we can be sure this was a clear boost from the initial reach of 1 student in the pilot class at my spiritual commune! The seed, however, was started there.
Then, I began thinking about creating a mindfulness-vocational training program. At our community we had the yoga and meditation retreat, many great teachers on the subject, in the peace and quiet nature of the California woodlands. But we also enjoyed an uncharacteristically fast internet connection there (thanks to a strand of an optical fiber cable passing through nearby), as well as many residents of the community who were experts in their own past or present professions: top-notch singers and musicians, chefs, techies like me, etc. The idea was to create a hybrid, intensive training program, where people can come to the retreat for vocational training in some area (cooking, programming, etc.) while also learning and practicing yoga and meditation in a serene environment.
While this development was happening, my taking on an interest in computer programming education, and while I was having other app development ideas, I realized I would not be able to carry on these projects in my current role at the tech office. The organization’s priorities and limited funding didn’t allow it to support most of them. I shared this with my boss, asking if I could change my role from an employee to a part-time independent contractor, so that I could take on my own ideas. My boss was very understanding and supportive. Within a few weeks I got what I asked for.
Later on, when I was able to look back at the events of the past months and years, events related to many aspects of my life there, some time in the middle I started to become aware of an interesting transition and progression that was taking place. Without my own intention or planning, I was gradually moving farther and farther away from the core of the community and organization. In 2013, when I had found one of the city centers of our spiritual organization in Los Angeles, and later on when I moved to the commune, I had essentially dived in head-first. After a year or two of life at the commune, however, a reverse process had begun. The development above was just an example of this movement.
Another aspect of this process had to do with my decision to become a monk. In my previous blogs I talked about how I came to decide to make it official: to take my Brahmacharya vows, and move into a monastery that existed in our commune. The swami in charge, however, had suggested that for a while I continue with the normal community membership process, moving into a group-living situation, while I could first practice being a monk inwardly. Later on it became pretty clear to me that the monastery life was positively not for me. I don’t mean being single, that seems to be very much my life. I mean being a part of an order, and following rules and observances, etc. My nature is non-conformist. I thrive on going the reverse direction as I’m told. I don’t work well with others. I’m more of lonely-wolf type of a guy. In any case, I felt sufficient amount of feeling and guidance to decide not to pursue going in the direction of joining a monastery or an order. If anything, for some reason this event seemed to germinate and magnetize within me a push in the reverse direction.
I ended up staying in the group house for a full year. I loved the experience for the most part. It offered me a perfect balance, imposing some much-needed discipline for meditation practice, while allowing me to live independently for the most part. After the year was over, instead of finding housing in one of houses inside the commune, I ended up becoming a housemate with a family at a house which was just outside the community. It wasn’t that I intended to move away from the community. It just so happened that one of my colleagues who was about to rent a ranch house off-property needed to find a housemate and asked me if I was interested. The timing was right and it felt right, so I went with it. Somehow, it seemed to be aligned with my transition at the time from the core of the community and organization towards the peripheries–a literal confirmation! A day and night difference between the temporary idea and the outcome: from the highly-controlled monastery life at the core of the community, into not even living in the commune but somewhere off-property, in complete isolation and sovereignty.
Part 6: More Transitions Come
In spring of 2017 I had to make a quick trip to homeland Iran for a family thing. This was around the time the transitions I have been telling you about in this blog were happening, in my life at the spiritual community in the foothills of Sierra Nevada.
One thing that I haven’t yet mentioned of my life in this period is my difficulties in meditation. Meditation takes center stage in everyone’s life in this community. Before moving my life there, and in the beginnings after my move, I had an easy time meditating. But now, a year or two later, I had entered into a period of my life when I was increasingly struggling to get my body and mind still, to be able to meditate. This trend has continued to this day. I intellectually know that there’s no reason to judge or label meditations as good or bad. I know it’s not about the experience. However it is, it is perfect. I can’t help a part of me, nonetheless, which associates this development with some kind of spiritual falling, or backtracking.
In any case, on this 2017 spring I was going on this overseas trip. As it is usually my habit, I had hardly left anywhere since settling into the commune. My nature is content or lazy, depending on whether one likes to give it a positive or negative spin.
Something interesting happened. As soon as I set foot outside, even in the airports, my heart was feeling an overwhelming amount of love. I felt love for everyone passing around me, and felt love of God in them, even if it was dormant. This continued to a less or more degree throughout the trip. On both of my departing and returning very long flights to and from Middle East, I happened to watch the movie La La Land. Somehow this movie, in the context of my loving state, reminded me and re-awakened in me the feelings I had experienced during my only romantic relationship, which had ended several years before. Something in me shifted that was separating that romantic relationship, and its human emotions, joy, and suffering that was involved with it, with my newfound spiritual life that had replaced it afterwards. Something in me decided that it too was a beautiful, sacred part of me and worth sharing with the world. I needn’t hide it anymore. It too needed to be celebrated as part of my seeking God.
Once I settled back home, the result was a long blog series—The Love of My Life. Many of my close friends and family to this day interpret these writings as pathetic stuck energies of a guy who can’t let go of a past relationship of many years ago. I don’t mind their misunderstanding. My whole life I have been misunderstood. People always project onto others based on their own struggles and levels of consciousness.
In reality this event of my opening up to my past romance and sharing it with others was another equation as part of the massive transition that was coming to me. It was part of a movement that allowed me to see the ordinary and the sacred, the physical and the metaphysical, the spiritual and the worldly, all as different sides of the One reality. I was starting to no longer see one as being higher and worthier, and other as lower and something to be ashamed of. No longer seeing one as God, and one as not God. My inner eye vision was shifting and the differences were blurring more as the days passed by.
Part 7: From Transitioning to Crumbling
The waves of transition were hitting at me seemingly with an ever increasing force, until no longer it felt like my perceptions were just transitioning; rather, it felt like a toppling of my entire perceptions.
Five years before, when a heartbreak and reading of the Autobiography of a Yogi book had led me to discover and step into the spiritual life, I had felt as if my whole world and perceptions were entirely turned upside down. Throughout this time, I felt as if I had touched something that was somehow immune and isolated from the worldly life. I identified it as something separate, holy, and on a higher plane. Now, five years later, this time was my “spiritual” world’s turn to be crumbling down in front of my eyes. It felt as if a huge wave had come, crashed into my spiritual sandcastle, and washed it back into the ocean of all life. Then said: “OK, show me what you got. Show me what you learned, now.”
My likes were turning into dislikes, and dislikes into likes. The electronic music that I had replaced with spiritual chants and mantra music were calling me close again. As you may know, this period of spiritual shaking for me had been accompanied by a creative enthusiasm for writing and sharing spiritual inspiration with others, in the form of blogs and social media posts. No doubt I had received an incredible amount of encouragement and fulfillment from sharing. All of a sudden, I started to feel a bit funny about what I was doing. I started to question my mind. “Why do I keep having to share every little thought that comes to me? Why am I polluting the world with my half-baked understanding of things?” “Is it all in my mind,” as someone in my community once suggested to me? “Am I pretending to be an arbiter of truth,” as another friend there once told me. “Is it all just to satisfy the ego?” I was being inspired to be more quiet, to preach and write less. It felt like a wiser thing to do, to know that I’m not wise and be quiet.
And I started to question some of my held beliefs about the “love of my life” experience, which I had recently been sharing in a blog series. Perhaps I had just been idealizing the one romantic experience I had, out of proportions. Perhaps the idea of “the only love of my life”, or having fulfilled all my desires for love, was simply my resistance, some idea I had made up in my mind to avoid more challenges or pain. It was around this time, when once my mom said to me: “You should open up to human love again.” I replied at once, honestly expressing my internal feeling: “Why?” For several years I had been counting myself a “free” or “informal” monk. But her words clearly made an impression.
My understanding of spirituality was evolving also. At the time, I had started reading Ram Dass’s “Be Here Now”. Being a follower of Yogananda, the Autobiography of a Yogi Book, we had our own answer to “life and everything”, so up until then I hadn’t picked up many other books from other gurus and traditions, such as the “Be Here Now”. But somehow this book now felt like it was sweetly aligned with the realignments that were occurring in me. I started to understand true renunciation as simply not being in the mind. To be going fully with the flow, without allowing any ideas that originate in the mind to interject, even if the idea is “I am a monk”, or “I have to meditate twice daily.” To want whatever Divine Mother wants for you at any given moment, with no personal attachment or agenda getting involved.
The immeasurable inspiration that I have been drawing from the people and what went on in my spiritual community, my home for the past five years, seemed to be burning out rather rapidly. On the contrary, every time I traveled outside, whether to the nearest little town or farther away, I drew immeasurable inspiration, often. I would meet a gas station clerk or a Starbucks employee, who would be greeting a customer with a big warm smile, trying to make a person’s world a little better and warmer, all amid the chaos of the city, and probably in his or her own life. I would think to myself,
Here I am, living in the pristine unadulterated vibrations of my spiritual commune, doing all the “spiritual” things… But can I honestly say that I am happier, more in the present moment, giving more light and love to the people I encounter each day, making more of a difference, than she or he here?
At home, in my spiritual commune, the trend was reversed. I started to become more sensitive, in a less than an inspiring way, to all that was going on around me.
Part 8: An Accidental Rebel Is Born
Back in my community, without my own intention or doing anything, I started to experience occasional uncharacteristic frictions with this or that person. I truly believe all this unfolding was part of a wave coming my way, designed for the purpose of steering me on the next steps on my journey. That’s why I don’t take anything personally. Nor do I wish to share anything negative about my experiences around this time at the community, which were not few or small; that would be irrelevant, discouraging, and unjust to someone else. The spiritual community were I lived is an outstanding place to be. It was just my time to step along, onto the next mission.
I will tell you briefly about a couple of such instances, just so you get an idea of the kind of personal transformation I was going through.
Around this time, as part of the big transformation that I was undergoing, I had started to enjoy and appreciate a plethora of recent spiritual “mantra” music, created by yogi-artists, especially from the followers of the path of Kundalini yoga. I had wished to see a similar creativity brewing among the followers of my own path.
So I posted a message on the community’s online bulletin board about wanting to gather up a band to create and play music around our own chants and teachings. I received some enthusiastic replies, along with a few strongly discouraging responses. There was one that particularly put me off. It essentially told me that “If I was on track to join the order, which all long-time members of the community belonged to, then it was best to forget my plans and join the community’s choir instead.”
There was one too many things here that ran opposite my instinctive principles.
One, it advised me not to do something new and creative, and instead do what everyone else does. As far back as I remember, I have always thrived in doing exactly the opposite of what everyone else does.
Two, it talked about joining a formal order. Even during the time I was contemplating joining the Brahmacharya order (to take monk vows), I felt highly conflicted. Things like orders and formalities seem to be foreign to my nature. I think to myself, “If liberation means letting it all go, if it means washing oneself off of all ideas, becoming totally free, then what does God have to do with orders, and vows, and such?”
I came out of this incident a steadfast rebel, especially adamant not do such things as join the choir or an order of any kind.
Another incident around this time occurred when I performed a stand-up comedy routine. Again, I had never dabbled into comedy, but this time of transitions had lots of surprises up its sleeves for me. One day I found myself constructing lines for a stand-up comedy sketch, around the topic of spirituality in my own path, inside jokes about my own community. For several weeks ideas were coming piece by piece, until I had enough material to want to give it a go. I did a sample for my own housemates and they received it graciously. Before long I got an invitation to perform at a private Thanksgiving party. The jokes were mostly well received, but I noticed during my sketch a few people were visibly put off, who were curiously all men. One person became really quiet and went to sit in the back as soon as I started talking. Another one left the party early, only to send me an email the next day to tell me that he had left early because of my intruding and unfunny act. He was clearly offended.
Seeing cases like this broke my heart in a way. I saw jealousy, lack of basic maturity, revenge, short-mindedness, emotional and sexual repression, brainwashing, or anger, from people who have been meditating and doing all the “spiritual” things for years and decades…
Since I mentioned my, fortunately for everybody, very transient dabble into stand-up comedy, it’s only fair to give you the treatment in the next part!
Part 9: An Accidental Stand-up Comic Is Born
You guys know my name is Hesam.
It comes from Arabic name Hussam, which means “sword”.
Now I have no idea why my parents called me sword.
I think they chose my name in the middle of a fight.
“The only thing that completes this marriage right now is a… sword!”
Been looking to get a spiritual name.
First choice is Paramavatar. Don’t think it’s taken. What do you guys think?
Ultraswami was a close second choice.
But my friend Rick blew my mind away when he said he’s a Not-a-Swami… yeah… And I live with him I know that’s right. He is definitely not a Swami.
Other choices are Rajasananda, ananda (or bliss) through rajasic (restless) energy.
The other option is Tamasananda, ananda (or bliss) through eating tamasic (unhealthy and down-pulling) foods.
I don’t have an English name. That way I can use Thomas if I’m Tamasananda or Roger if I become Rajasananda.
Meditation! The soul loves to meditate. But I sure don’t!
But my soul just loves it… so I told my soul why don’t you do it while I’m asleep. He said OK… the soul is always awake, you see.
So I’m getting like 8-9 hours of meditation a day, … effectively. So I think I’m all set.
It’s been 9 straight nights now that I cannot stop myself from repeatedly chanting AUM Guru, when I’m taking a shower.
That is because our water heater is broken. True story.
I’m so stoked we have launched this global movement called Be the Change! You heard it right?
We’re asking for everyone in the planet to pledge their daily meditation minutes, so we can together get to 1M hours!
How about a round of applause for Be the Change? Yeah! Great cause…
But you know, I was thinking maybe we can have some other movements in parallel, or instead, cuz honestly I think they’d be more magnetic…
For example, how about Give a Change? This will work better I think given that most of us here aren’t financially super well off over here…
Or if you don’t like that, how about Be the Change-less? Isn’t being with God, the changeless in all the change, the whole point?
I have this ability to perceive knowledge intuitively. It happens when I concentrate deeply at the point between my laptop’s two top screen corners where there’s a webcam. It’s called the zeroth eye.
The other day I taught Hong-Sau to my laptop.
Every time it did a disk write I told it to mentally make a digital sound “pong”.
And on a read I told him to sound “ping”.
Pong-ping is a mantra. It’s a digital one. It means I am 0.
Pretty soon my laptop got good at it and became memoryless. It went to memorylessness. It went perfectly still.
I thought it had reached samadhi but it turns out it had just frozen.
What do you guys think of the astrological bangles? They’re great right… I got one right here. You guys all have it…
Expensive piece of equipment this one… We must be really afraid of karma!
When I was buying mine I was like, how much 2000? Oh heck with it, give me 5. I wear all over my body. What have we “done” in past lives?!
But yeah, it’s expensive. Couldn’t Sri Yukteswar say it should be plastic, fiberglass, and silicone? Instead it had to be copper, silver, gold.
It protects you from bad karmic rays, or at least reduces the effects. Right? Right?
That’s totally false! The day I got this, I thought I’d put it to test. So I thought I’m gonna go and slap somebody in the face. I thought either it’s not gonna come back, or at least come back softer.
So I went and slapped the first person I saw in the face. He slapped me harder! I’m like what? This is broken.
Do you guys think about the astral world at all. Kind of cool ha? Frankly, I think it’s not as good as it sounds!
Don’t mean to dampen your enthusiasm! But it is!
Do you ever think if you could ask one thing from Master and get an answer from him, what would you ask? Ever wander that? Yeah? No?
What I would ask him is: “Will there be any laptops in the astral world?”…
Like I’m saying, you gonna go there and watch the hays of yellow or whatever you’ve never seen and see the snow tickling your face and it’s still nice and warm.
Honestly, I see myself after 5 mins. like this: “Wow look at. so beautiful… you think I can buy a laptop from someone here. I need to make an app…”
Think about the stuff gets boring pretty quickly. You should’ve learn that lesson on earth for God sake. Didn’t you?! …
So I think if there’s no laptops I’m gonna reincarnate pretty quickly back here.
Plus, I think it’s gonna be pretty darn uncomfortable up there in the astral world…
You know what Sri Yukteswar said about the astral world? …
He said: “The earth-liberated astral being meets a multitude of relatives, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, and friends, acquired during different incarnations on earth, as they appear from time to time in various parts of the astral realms. He is therefore at a loss to understand whom to love especially; he learns in this way to give a divine and equal love to all, as children and individualized expressions of God’.”
Don’t you see how awkward that’s gonna be?
I mean I’m gonna get there. Soon I’m like: “Oh hey Rachel! How you doing? …. Hey Stephanie. hehe. What you doing here? Oh hi mom. Mom? What you doing with Uncle Jack? Eieeew!!”
Also it is said that in the astral world souls can freely change the forms they appear in…
So you I mean you gonna wake up one day in bed and you’re like: Who are you??!
You guys all know your yamas and niyamas, right?
yamas are the donts: and niyamas are the dos.
They’re like the Ten Commandments but more enlightened… They’re great!
Lately I’ve discovered a lost limb of 8-limb ashtanga yoga, which is actually navanga yoga or the 9-limb yoga.
I did this as my humble way to usher the new dwapara age for the humanity. I know… You’re welcome, humans.
This is a first time I’m going to reveal them. Right here.
New yama: Screenyama or non-screen. controlling yourself from staring at your device’s screen for at least 5 minutes!
New niyama: Prananiyama or breathing! Something we forget often!
New yama: non-liking: resisting the urge to like every single post you see on Facebook
New yama: Watchyama or non-watch: Ability to refrain from looking at the clock less than 10 times during a half-hour meditation.
We really do love our chants here.
Lately I’ve been thinking how to make our chants even more personal and relatable.
So I thought some modifications might help. For example:
Have you guys heard “I need nothing I’m free… in my self I am free…”?
I thought I’m more attuned to the chant if it says “I know nothing I’m free… in my self I am free…”
“In this world Mother no one can love me… In this world they do not know how to love me”
If you still hold some hope, I thought to be more sincere we can chant:
“In this world Mother send someone who can love me. In this world send someone who knows how to love me.”
Ever felt embarrassed chanting “I want only Thee Lord only Thee” because while you’re chanting you’re reminding yourself those other things you really want?
Worry no more. You can chant this variation to reduce being self-conscious about this “I want mostly Thee Lord, Thee mostly Thee.”
What’s you guys’s favorite chant? Door of my heart?
Mine is: “When thy song flows through me” Love this chant.
But you know I thought it could be a little more up-to-date to address some of our more immediate concerns these days…
So again, here’s the extension:
And financial freedom is sweet, and debt a dreaaaaam..
And house is sweet, mortgage a dreaaaaaam…
And pope is sweet, and Trump a dreaaaaam
As you know, here at this community we have our own vocabulary…
We say things in a certain way. I’m especially saying this for those of you who might be newer, so you don’t get into trouble… like I did….
Here’s an example.
“Just see what’s trying to happen dude?”
“What’s trying to happen? What you mean?”
“You see what I’m sayin, you’re in not your spine?”
“In my spine? I have a spine.”
“Just be in tune dude.”
“I just tuned my guitar!”
And when, for example, you want to ask somebody out, we don’t just say:
“Hey, you wanna grab a cup of coffee maybe?”
Instead you gotta say: “Hey, you want have some satsang sometime? fellowship in truth?”
If you want to complement someone’s beauty, we definitely don’t just say “you look hot!” or something like that. No, no, no!
We say “Your inner beauty is well manifested by your illusory outer expression today.”
And if it’s about to get serious and stuff: “Maybe you wanna be one in that light earlier than some day?”
Part 10: Turning the Page to an Education Career
In the aftermath of my several incidents of “friction” in my spiritual commune, I knew my life there would be neither the same nor long-lived. As I encountered people on a daily basis, some would approach me in private and tell me how much they admired my courage for speaking up, or for not conforming. At the same time, it was not hard to see, in the eyes of yet others, the disappointment, fear, or even disgust. I had been left with somewhat of a blemished heart—a blemished heart about everything: myself and my spiritual path, my writings, the people at the village, our work at the city centers, our practices and way of life. The whole idea of living a simple life in a remote small place, isolated and protected from the “outside” larger society was losing its appeal to me, rather quickly.
It was around this time when one of the old timers at the community—the great and humble soul who had founded the school at the village—sought me out to catch up and hear the latest. I told him about my recent frictions. He was, as always, totally understanding and supportive. I also shared with him an idea that had flashed into my head recently: “What if I were to start a branch of our schools in Los Angeles?” He was clearly intrigued by the possibility, as it had been a long-time wish, but told me “You would first need to get more experienced teaching”. He told me that there was indeed an urgent need for a teacher in the Palo Alto (California) branch of our school. That got me excited. Perhaps all this fuss was to nudge me out of my life at the village, so that I could serve in a different place, such as the Palo Alto school?
Despite the supposedly urgent need for a teacher, I heard nothing from Palo Alto. Interestingly, up until then the thought hadn’t even occurred to me that I might as well ask our own school at the village, about any needs for a teacher! And so it happened. Soon I started teaching an introductory computer science and programming course, which I had originally created online for Udemy, to some of the high and middle schoolers. Then I officially started as a part time teacher at the village school, teaching subjects such as computer science, programming, math, and yoga. I especially enjoyed doing a history of math and biology class for the middle schoolers.
I had found a new passion, as well as a new challenge! I wasn’t trained as a teacher. I really enjoyed my time (2 school terms) as a part-time teacher at the community’s school. I got to learn from some superb teachers there. As it so happened, the school runs somewhat autonomously from the rest of the village and its leadership. This was a divine gift. For I knew it was the only place I could bear to serve and enjoy this ending period of my life at my spiritual commune.
Without this experience teaching at the school village, I wouldn’t have my job today as a K12 technology education curriculum and content developer. In the next parts, I would tell the tale of what next steps from this point brought me to Bangkok, rather than Palo Alto or Los Angeles.