Gender Identification and Spiritualism [ October 2004 ]


Lili Masamura

I quote from "Kali the Mother" by Sister Nivedita, how Ramakrishna referred to himself: "He never used, it is said, the expression "I" and "mine", preferring "he who dwells here" (indicating His own heart), or usually, "My Holy Mother". The dressing up as a woman period in the life of Ramakrishna was in the nature of a spiritual quest and not to be construed as a constant in his life. There is a great difference between simple base deviant behaviour patterns for the purpose of satisfying bodily urges and nothing beyond this, and the intentional assuming of a particular behaviour pattern in order to pursue spiritual attainment. Intention here counts for a very great deal! I have long been of the opinion that if transvestites and the transgendered started using their "tendencies" in this way, and looked to either Krishna or Shiva Ardhanarishwara to guide them, they would have the opportunity for tremendous spiritual insights!

malyavan_tibet

The spiritual realm is transcending gender. It's the quality of activation of the higher chakras.

Transcending gender in the physical body is either due to over identification with the object of desire OR a tamasic nature because of which the embodied being is not able to forget the previous incarnation from the depth of consciousness. This is again because of over identification with the body and base desires.

There are many temples in india, where some form of spiritual dressing up as the feminine is done by male priests as an act showing laying down of the ego. It is done both for the worship of shiva and shakti and not just shakti.

So yes, they are very different and not to be confused with one another.

I dont know why you mention Krishna, except for the fact krishna is the manifestation of vishnu, the diety of swadisthana(water chakra), i dont see him taking on a feminine form.

Vishnu is considered neuter, and the famous story of him being mohini and resulting union with shiva and origin of Sasta(Ayyappa, also saturn).

seed_crystal

So in shakti or in shiva worship, gender is considered base? You mention male priests dressing up as the feminine to "lay...down the ego". Is it considered the same for female priestesses who dress as male (a laying down of ego)?

In another post you made some ... interesting comments regarding how Dianics procreate, what they might do with male babies, and where they would get the sperm. I am a Dianic witch. When I want sperm or to procreate, my husband and I manage this in a traditional manner. I would raise any sons I might have with love for who they were, just as I love my husband for who he is, and love my father and brothers and nephews for who they are. It saddens me greatly this even has to be said here.

Can we get back, as kalipadma has asked, as others have asked, to "the longstanding, HISTORICAL, Goddess-worshipping traditions of India"?

Devi Bhakta

Dear Seed Crystal:

For what it's worth, I thought I'd weigh in on this thread.

*** So in shakti or in shiva worship, gender is considered base? ***

Shakti and Shaiva worship can be very similar in many ways, but also have a few fundamental differences. Broadly speaking, Malyavan Tibet's statement about "over-identification with the body and base desires" reflects a more Shaiva bias. Shiva worship leans toward celibacy and monasticism; transcending the flesh by denying the flesh (as is also a common approach in Christianity and Islam, of course). Shakti worship tends to focus on transcending the flesh by embracing the flesh. Tantric practices (which are usually very Shakta-oriented) see the manifest world as a tool through which we can reach the unmanifest and the transcendent.

I think what Malyavan Tibet was getting at in his comments, is that "over-identification" with gender at a certain point (a very, very advanced point that very few reach) becomes a drag. Shaktism (and most all of Hinduism for that matter) uses human metaphors to describe universal truths. Why? Because we are human. Tantra invites us to test what that means. By embracing as sacred the things that orthodox society might consider profane, we begin to chip away at our own prejudices and assumptions. We move beyond the objectification impulse "This is me. This is mine. That is she. That is hers. She is female. I am male. They are poor. I am rich. I am this color. They are that color. I am of this clan. They are of that clan." ... All the easy differences by which our lower natures define who we are.

As the orthodoxies that bind us fall away, we begin to realize just how limiting our body-identification can be. Because beyond our body-identifiers -- male and female being as good as example as any -- we are souls. Through many births and rebirths, we are male many times and female many times. In any given incarnation, we simply do the best we can with who and what we are.

I think you'd agree that a person who defines her-/himself in terms of their profession might seem oddly lacking in some essential human quality. Surely we are more than what our employers regard us as? Same thing with a person relies on their belongings -- prestige cars, prestige vacations, trophy houses, trophy spouses, etc -- to boost their self-importance. We say that these people are focusing too much on the material. So do all of the world's religious traditions in their various ways -- over-attachment to one's worldly belongings is not conducive to spiritual advancement.

Well, Tantric Shaktism simply kicks that up to the next level: Over-attachment to one's own body-identification is not conducive to spiritual spiritual advancement. At a certain point, saying, "I'm a woman and you're a man" is no different than saying, "I've got a Ford and you've got a Toyota." It's a distinction that is useful at a certain level (like paying fees at the Motor Vehicle Registry), but useless at more exalted levels (like determining what kind of person you are, ethically or spiritually).

Granted, our male or female identity reaches infinitely deeper than our other possessions, and so it burdens us with a lot more baggage and carries a lot more social and spiritual implications than does the car we drive or the house we live in. But ultimately, so the scriptures teach us, it's just another label we've got to get past.

You note that Malyavan Tibet "mentioned male priests dressing up as the feminine to 'lay down the ego.'" And asked, "Is it considered the same for female priestesses who dress as male (a laying down of ego)?"

I don't think Malyavan Tibet's statement means that ritual cross-dressing is a humbling or ego-deflating experience in the sense of, "Oh, I'm dressed as a woman; how embarrassing." I think it's better understood through Ramakrishna's example -- just as a method of further detaching one's mind from identifications that are ultimately just "possessions" to be shed. To loosen up one's gender-identification just as you might want to loosen up your profession-identification or possession-identification. So I guess a woman could achieve the same thing, if she lived in a context in which wearing male clothing was considered transgressive and unorthodox enough to shake up her usual sense of self.

You say, "I would raise any sons I might have with love for who they were, just as I love my husband for who he is, and love my father and brothers and nephews for who they are."

I think that gets to the heart of a lot of what has been argued over here. Your answer is nice to read because it expresses what we would hope any religious pursuit would give us -- a sense of love, empathy, compassion and kindness that extends beyond our immediate selves, or "our kind."

Whenever a person -- of whatever religious tradition -- begins using that tradition to reinforce a belief that s/he is "better" than some "other" defined by whatever difference, it's a pretty sure bet that they're no longer on the spiritual trajectory and instead have got got a serious social ax to grind.

Thus, Christian fundies who kill abortion doctors for Jesus, or Muslims who crash planes into buildings for Allah ... or witches who abhor men for Diana ... have reached a spiritual deadstop. And they've got to drop a few of their psychic suitcases before they advance any further.

Omprem

Excellent post. In it you say, "By embracing as sacred the things that orthodox society might consider profane, we begin to chip away at our own prejudices and assumptions. We move beyond the objectification impulse 'This is me. This is mine. That is she. That is hers. She is female. I am male. They are poor. I am rich. I am this color. They are that color. I am of this clan. They are of that clan.' ... All the easy differences by which our lower natures define who we are.

As the orthodoxies that bind us fall away, we begin to realize just how limiting our body-identification can be."

Could you expand on how 'embracing as sacred the things that ...[are] profane' leads to moving 'beyond the objectivication process'. Does not intelligence, confidence, diligence, humility and an inner sense of self, all of which are part of the so-called ascetic appoach of Shaivism, lead to the same thing? Why is it necessary to embrace the profane and run the risk of being a tamasic prisoner of the senses and passion? What is it about the psychology of a person that leads him/her to Shaktism?

This is not an argumentative question but a request for more clarity.

Devi Bhakta

Hi Ellen:

I appreciate your argument; it sounds like you've though it through, and I'll let it stand on its own merit. My only interest here is to note a few points as regards Shaktism:

*** Personally, I have reservations about these "balance" metaphors ***

The idea of balance is valued in the Shakta Tantric traditions because it appears to be a governing principle of the entire cosmos. Ideologies that deny balance contain the seeds of their own destruction. Balance, a function of Sri MahaLakshmi, preserves. I understand your concern that currently prevailing social systems are so far out of balance, that what is *currently* proposed as true balance is actually a false approximation. That is possible; societies to eventually must faces the consequences of imbalance. However, for metaphysical and purposes of Tantric theory and practice, I believe the balance metaphor is apt, effective, and objectively true. Any flaw would come from the individual human practitioner who brought her/his own prejudices to bear upon the equation.

*** Here we are presented with a quite different picture of the sacred feminine ... as a kind of personal identity problem, something difficult to be transcended. ***

If my post conveyed that to you, then I have ineffectively represented the system. Neither the "sacred feminine" nor the "sacred masculine" are "problems to be transcended." *Human* sexual identity is, however, at a certain level -- that is, if one's goal is Self- Realization (which is, after all, the ultimate goal of all the Hindu systems).

*** Who wrote all the books explaining Shaktism as a way of transcending gender and escaping from the processes of nature? How many of them were women? ***

Hinduism and its Tantric subsets are some of the only world spiritual traditions who can truthfully reply, "Quite a few." It is historically certain that there were female rishis among the authors of the Vedas, Hinduism's most ancient and sacred source texts. As for Tantra, "all the books" you refer to were actually not set down to writing until around 1000 AD; before that, however, the oral tradition stretches back millennia. Tantra has always welcomed women gurus, and one well-known aphorism states that an initiate with a female guru is "eight times more fortunate" than one with a male guru. Although it is impossible to say who exactly set these ancient oral traditions to paper, it is virtually certain that the traditions themselves passed down the lineages of both male and female gurus.

*** What social and economic classes did the authors belong to? ***

Tantric Shaktism is notable for its refusal to exclude anyone on the basis of gender, caste or social position. The sole criteria for initiation was (and remains) spiritual competence, self-discipline and devotion. It was not (and is not) about male or female, rich or poor. It was (and is) about spiritual realization.

*** I am far more interested in how Indian Goddess traditions can benefit the lives of ordinary women, in India and the US both, than I am in learning how to attain advanced meditative states myself. ***

Then Tantra may be of limited interest, because the system is primarily a practical set of instructions on achieving specific spiritual goals. It is not, and does not pretend to be or try to be, a social system.

Having said that, Shaktism, like any true religious system, manifests in its purest adherents by any number of good social works. As an immediate and current example, I'd mention one of the forement living exponents of Tantric Shaktism, Sri Amritananda Natha Saraswati, and his Sri Vidya Trust (SVT), a nonprofit organization headquartered in Devipuram, India. SVT is involved in a number of developmental activities including non-formal education, empowerment of women and low-cost housing for the rural poor:

GOAL: To improve the quality of life and achieve greater self- reliance by forming local cooperative village banks, encouraging small business enterprises and organizing women's groups to deal with the problems of exploitation, alcoholism and discrimination.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 15 villages in the vicinity of Devipuram have formed women's cooperative banks, the capital for which is provided completely by the local women. The combined capital of these banks currently totals Rs. 200,000 with 2 annual rotations. Loan recoveries have been close to 99% or better, compared to nationalized banks' performance in the rural sector of less than 40%. Many local, income- producing enterprises have been funded in the past year by these banks.

In 1994, with the help of OXFAM of India, SVT and a group of ten other voluntary agencies organized a conference of women's groups at Anakapalli in which over 10,000 members participated. These women, along with representatives of the eleven voluntary agencies, were able to discuss their problems, distill their common experiences and needs, and then suggest solutions for improving the quality of their lives. From the consensus emerged an action plan that was well received by the Indian government. This process demonstrated the effectiveness of organization and cooperation in bringing about social change.

SVT women's groups participated in a state-wide movement that resulted in the successful modification of policies regarding the sale of government alcohol in the villages.

The women's cooperative banks have provided an important alternative to the usurious lending practices of private money lenders.

IMMEDIATE PLANS: To expand the women's bank program to over 100 villages and achieve total capitalization of Rs. 5,000,00 to 10,000,000 (US$ 150,000 - 300,000) by the year 2000.

To encourage small business development in the 100 villages.

To encourage and support the organization of women for the achievement of their educational and social goals.

**********

Seek, and you will find other, similar examples. But still, Shaktism is not a "female religion" or a "male religion." It is a human religion, in which women and men alike share age-old Hindu spiritual goals. You may not be interested in "attaining advanced meditative states," but these women and men are. And yet, these pursuits have not, I think you will agree, stunted their compassion or their social activism. In face, Shaktism has and continues to enpower its adherents to perform such work on an ever-greater scale.

Again, I do not question the urgency or passion of your social concerns. But I must clarify that if you seek to the expose patriarchal "truth" behind Tantric Shaktism, you are barking up the wrong tree. It is an ancient system, with an incredibly complex and sophisticated networks of scriptural canons and ritual systems. It is not "feminist" in any Western sense of the word, nor will it satisfy a Dianic Witch's standards of political, social or spiritual correctness.

It is what it is, and may stand judgement as such. But do not judge it as what it is not.

malyavan_tibet

Excellent post and excellent questioning here.

The good and evil are like two sides of the same coin, which is again a changing aspect (duality).

There are some interesting stories in kathasarit-sagara where a king performing tapas is tested by being exposed to blood, lake filled with pus, excrements and all the decaying things in the world. But in the end by his unshakeable detachment to the external changing reality he is rewarded with a heaven , beautiful lakes, golden swans, woman, dancers, musicians, all things of beauty and purity.

There;s mention in robert svobodas book abt telank swami worshipping shiva linga with his own faeces. The aghoris sometimes dwell on cremation ground eating decaying corpses etc.

To hang out in the depths of hell but come out as if nothing has happened is sattwa, lightness and not tamasic.

Omprem

Ellen McGowen wrote : " I am trying to get past all the male voices speaking for Devi so that can hear Her speaking through Her women's voices."

There is no difference between male voices speaking for Devi or women's voice's speaking for Devi. In either case, there is a fatal distortion if those speakers see or feel a world polarized between male and female. The way to spiritual liberation is to move beyond the world of opposites, to resolve those 'opposites' into their commonground. When one has moved beyond the opposites and moved beyond space and time, ego and desire, one speaks for Devi not as a male or female but as a Seer, Sage or Saint.

Cathie

Omprem writes: There is no difference between male voices speaking for Devi or women's voice's speaking for Devi. In either case, there is a fatal distortion if those speakers see or feel a world polarized between male and female. The way to spiritual liberation is to move beyond the world of opposites, to resolve those 'opposites'into their commonground. When one has moved beyond the opposites and moved beyond space and time, ego and desire, one speaks for Devi not as a male or female but as a Seer, Sage or Saint.

How can there be no difference? They live in different bodies. Each person whether male or female offers a unique perspective. What Nora says is not identical with what Devi says or with what anybody says. Otherwise we wouldn't all be here in a group. Otherwise one person wouldn't prefer one guru over another. No two people are the same, so how can a man and a woman be the same.

If you mean they have come to regard one another with compassion and respect, then I understand. Qualitatively, it is different and enjoy hearing the perspectives an Wisdom of men as well as women.

Sadly, women are not as inclined to take on the authority and express it openly.

Even two theoretical quantum physicists cannot speak about quantum-physical reality the same and that topic is not even obviously related to gender, so gender has nothing to do with it in a way, but everything.

Detective_Mongo_Phd

Omprem wrote : There is no difference between male voices speaking for Devi or women's voice's speaking for Devi.

I agree with Omprem for once here, and must say that if one is humble in front of their own woman then they fulfill all necessary religious prerequisits also for the Path. One can only relate to the Goddess with as much faith as shown in daily life

Omprem

Cathie wrote : "How can there be no difference? They live in different bodies. Each person whether male or female offers a unique perspective."

Different bodies, different perspectives are both true at a very elementary and dense level. But the entire purpose of sadhana or spiritual practice is to change our consciousness and rise above our conditioning and the imperfect information of the senses and see beyond the names and forms to the common background of all, i.e. Brahman.

Bodies and perspectives are only different configurations of energy. If, through intense and continuous sadhana, one manages to change the vibration of their consciousness they will see a different universe. As this process of becoming aware of other planes of existence continues, eventually one recognizes that their true self, their soul, is exactly the same as the soul of anyone or anything else and is the same as Brahman, the background from which the universe arose. Here, one is literally God Incarnate. There is no sense of difference.

Those different perspectives and bodies to which you refer are the result of ego and desire plus incomplete and imperfect understanding and vision . Regarding each other with respect and compassion is part of the initial step to overcoming that sense of difference. To me, compassion means recognizing human aspirations and frailties but without judgement and guilt because you see them as souls on the way to recognition of their own divinity who make mistakes and learn from those mistakes during their journey.

We all eventually over many lifetimes arrive at the same place and share the same view. Some of us, through sadhana arrive a little earlier. Some who linger to indulge in the senses, desire, and judgement take longer.

Detective_Mongo_Phd

Lili Masamura wrote : These, and the reading I have done on Ramakrishna, that is. If your mind is sincerely fixed upon attaining God, you are in no danger whatever of falling into Tamas with these methods. I know; this is how I attained. It is only the deluded and insincere who fall from the Path with Left-Hand methods.

-----The left hand path is the path of seeing the divine in tamas. Ultimately all evil things as well break down into their components as soon as they relax and become spiritualized and assimilated.

Omprem

Who knows if the stories attributed to supposedly highly-evolved spiritual leaders are real or apocryphal.

Your story of Ramakrishna seems a bit too over the top to be believed. Why would he find it necessary to sit by the Ganges with a handful of shit and the other hand full of money and find it necessary to ponder the relative worth of both? Was his intellect so dense that he could only use this graphic means to arrive at the conclusion that neither was more or less important or desirable than the other and that in the end neither was of any consequence? This story makes no sense unless one assumes that he was either very tamasic or very rajasic and needed such a dramatic gesture to capture his attention and intellect. You would probably not want to accept that he was anything less than sattvic. Even if it is claimed that he was just demonstrating what he already knew, one can suggest that to do so involves an ego that still has yet to be fully under control.

Learning to meditate in such places as you describe is yet another attempt to teach a lesson graphically. What is it about the personality of these people or their teachers that makes it necessary for lessons to taught graphically? How is the acseticism of Ramkrishna and the Tibetan novices different from the mortification of the flesh practiced by those great Catholic saints of past centuries, especially the sixteenthe and seventeenth centuries.

And more to the point of this thread, how are the methods you describe any less ascetic than the Shaivite methods? In fact, I would say that the Shaitvite methodology is almost libertine compared to your descriptions of the `left hand path'. In the yoga world, sannyasins withdraw from the world to learn their lessons, purify their consciousness and raise prana. They are reminded that the true test of their spiritual focus will be when they return to interact with the world. Shaivites learn that desire is merely the ego misguidedly seeking to maximize its happiness using flawed information received from the outer projection of the senses without the moderating effect of a rigorous intellect being applied to that information. Isn't this what Ramakrishna was attempting to do. The only difference seems to be that Shaivites don't have to play with shit to learn anything.

It seems to me that the types of lessons to which you refer are somewhat obvious to anyone who has done any work on themselves and do not required the techniques that you describe to teach them unless the student is excessively tamis or sattvic.

Although I am left-handed, I find that your `left hand path' is both unnecessary and unconvincing.

Ellen wrote : " Those metaphors were introduced during patriarchalization. Patriarchy first created this problem of percieving diversity as opposition through a concepual error that arises from masculation."

Oh, please. Give us break. This is such utter, self-serving nonsense. Most of us on a spiritual path are attempting to decondition our thought processes, emotions, and consciousness. You are gleefully deepening your conditioning to a concrete-like consistency. Your motto seems to be, "Don't bother me with the truth, my mind is already made up."

In reading your manifesto, I am reminded of a quote by William Sumner, "Ideals are very often formed in the effort to escape from the hard task of dealing with facts."

The facts are that our senses give us the illusion of a world that is composed of separate objects. Conditioned by this mistake, some of the more inquiring infer that we are individuals with individual souls. With this sense of individualism, arises ego. We have a desire for happiness and an intention to avoid unhappiness. We tend to see the world and its inhabitants as either conducive to or obstructing our march toward happiness. And, of course, we tend to see happiness or, at least its means, as lying outside of ourselves. From the first illusion of separation arises longing, fear, conflict, estrangement , abuse, war, death and resentment. We are only too quick to blame others for our unhappiness. But we have no one but ourselves to blame. Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards. Most never understand the lesson.

Two other quotes seem appropriate here:

"Our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us." -Marcus Aurelius

"Egoism is the anesthetic given by a kindly nature to relieve the pain of being a damned fool." -Bellamy Brooks

Happiness will never be achieved as long as the senses are projected outward and not rigorously monitored by the intellect and as long as the ego is allowed to retain its licenticious sway over us. We cannot blame others for our state of spiritual awareness. At all times, under all circumstances, we have only one freedom, and that is the freedom to choose how we respond to the events of our lives. We have no rights, we have only responsibilities. Our main responsibility is to make ourselves capable of choosing how to respond in a positive, sattvic way to the events of our life. As Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead stated, "I think every human being should be a conscious tool of the universe."

But first you have to tune into what underlies the universe. Hatred and polarization doesn't get you there.

Detective_Mongo_Phd wrote : "The left hand path is the path of seeing the divine in tamas. "

Now we seem to getting closer to the answer to my question. This quote seems to be saying that the left hand path is intended for those of a tamasic nature with the intention of bringing them to a realization of their true divinity using methods to which they can relate

sankara menon

I disagree on that. Kaula is not tamasic but the higher reaches of sadhana

Kalipadma

None of the three appears unalloyed. There is always a combination of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas.

I do not see Tantra as a path for people in whom Tamas predominates.

I seem to recall one Sage defining "Left Hand Path" as the path of Shakti (Goddess/Energy), of Immanence, and the world of Form. Right Hand Path is he path of Transcendance, and the world of Ideals. As I said elsewhere, you need both views to have a complete comprehension

Devi Bhakta

I'm with you and Kochu on this one.

The Tamas ~ Tantra correspondence is a case of the right terms being used in the wrong combinations. Or as Mark Twain put it, a case of knowing the words but not knowing the tune.

The whole thing is just infinitely more complex and nuanced that that.

Cathie

kalipadma writes: I seem to recall one Sage defining "Left Hand Path" as the path of Shakti (Goddess/Energy), of Immanence, and the world of Form. Right Hand Path is he path of Transcendance, and the world of Ideals. As I said elsewhere, you need both views to have a complete comprehension.

I like this definition of left hand and right hand paths... It seems to me much preferable to the common notion in my country that "left hand path" involves cursing people while "right hand path" involves only positive magic.

Though I could see how when the feminine is degraded and untrusted, Her path might have become distorted through lack of understanding to mean "black magic" or "cursing" as She also has been cursed by Patriarchy in the West. Of course I am making the assumption that right hand path is associated with Masculine Deity since you said Left hand path is Shakti or Goddess, and typically I have read that immanence is associated with the Goddess and the Feminine while Transcendance is associated with the Masculine ( stemming from biological reasons such as women have the womb which is inside ( immanent ) requiring intuition and introspection for women to "see inside" to their feminine processes, while men have the Phallus which is external/objectivily-observable leading to peeing ina Transcendent arc and all sort of worldly accomplishment that looks outside the body and into the world.

Thanks for this definition. Truly.

swastik108

SophiasHeaven writes: I hate to be asking another question that everyone else knows the answer to but me, but what is Tamas? Is Tamas the "worldly nature"?

There are essentially 3 fundamental qualities that pervade creation

Sattva- is the centripetal force that draws together and creates. It concentrates energy and thus binds the world together, therefore it is associated with Vishnu who embodies it.

Tamas- is the centrifugal force associated with darkness and inertia. It aims to pull apart and disperse energy. If concentrated energy is light (sattva) disintegrating energy is darkenss. It is the liberating force which returns all to formlessness. It is assocaited with Rudra for reasons like this.

Rajas- is the revolving tendency from which comes all motion and interaction between the gunas. It is personified by Brahma and through it all action takes place. It compliments the other two.

These three while being seperate in principle are truly interconnected. There are many ways to look at the Gunas. From a material standpoint Tamas would seem lowest since in the physical world disintegration does not lead to success,

but from a spiritual viewpoint action (Karma) entangles one more with the physical world.

In the Shiva Purana Brahma narrates:

"Vishnu is of Sattva attribute, I (Brahma) am of Rajas and Rudra is of Tamas attribute. This is only in view of the activities in this world. But in fact and in name it is otherwise."

2.16.38
"Vishnu is of Tamas nature within but externally Sattva; Rudra is of Sattva nature within but of Tamas nature outside, I am of Rajas nature throughout."

2.16.39
The three powers are seen as the expression of the formless Shiva according to the Purana. The expression itself is the Goddess Shakti who is of the 3 natures.

As a trinity Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva are often referred to as "preserver, creator, and destroyer" this should give you a basic concept of the Gunas. Calling Shiva a destroyer sounds a little loaded to me and I prefer to think of him as a transformer.

I would also like to say that I believe the 3 Gunas are associated with the 3 colors Red, White and Black. My guess would be Sattva white, Rajas Red and Tamas Black, but I am not certain. Anyone know the answer to this?????

Omprem

Tamas, Rajas and Sattva are known as the three gunas. They are qualities of the phenomenal world and have been compared to the three strands of the rope that binds us to the illusory world. These gunas are present in varying degrees in everyone and everything and they continually change their quantity. Sometimes you are tired or resistant to change or overcome with fear, and are thus Tamasic. Other times you are charge fearlessly ahead and accomplish much in the world and are thus Rajasic. Other times, you are filled with a sense of purity, devotion and wisdom and are thus Sattvic. The couch potato is tamasic, the type A person is rajasic, the saint is sattvic: but not all the time.

As long as we have attachment to the things and events of this world we under the thrall of the gunas. Sattva binds us with an attachment to happiness, Rajas binds us with an attachment to activity and Tamas binds us with an attachment to delusion. Tamas wants to destroy us, Rajas wants to bind us to the world through busyness and rob us of our spiritual treasures, and Sattva sets us on the path to spiritual freedom but also binds us to the resulting happiness. Tamas can be overcome by Rajas, Rajas can be overcome by Sattva, and Sattva can be overcome by overcoming the ego.

Only God or Brahman stands outside of these three gunas Cathie wrote There's so much to keep track of. I feel as tho my head is amid a cloud of Hummingbirds in flight, as you all navigate with great ease agility and swiftness these complex and intricate questions, as if they were great bushes of Flower.. I know there was another this morning, about this topic, in addition to Devi's. And several replies to the question of the 5-M's. Each one ads a little to the picture. So much to consider ! :-)

Omprem

All things in good time. It does take a bit of practice to get used to the vocabulary and, more importantly, to the concepts behind the words, but the effort is worth it.

It may seem as if we disagree with one another and debate over whose path is better, but we know that each path has its own merits and is intended for people of a specific personality and karmic load. Paths are many but Truth is One.

sandeep

Lili wrote : I know; this is how I attained.

If you know you have attained, ..........no attaining as yet has taken place.

Lili Masamura

Well, Ramakrishna does not seem to have been oblivious of his own attainment, so you can spare me (and everyone else, by extension) the quasi-profound cliches...Attainment is available to all who are sincerely desirous of attaining God, so this statement of mine is neither a brag or a boast, it is a simple fact. The Bhagavad-Gita says everything about attainment that need be said... I tried the method and it works. The trouble is for most, is that sincere desire to reach God is almost nonexistent, which is the nature of the Kali Yuga. Therefore, those of us that do have a sincere desire for God, attain rapidly! Those who have a sincere desire to attain by means of obsolete and obscure methodologies will attain also (Eventually!). The direct method of offering one's self up unconditionally to the Divine is certainly not for everyone, but it worked for me.

childofdevi"

lili masamura wrote : Attainment is available to all who are sincerely desirous of attaining God, so this statement of mine is neither a brag or a boast, it is a simple fact. The Bhagavad-Gita says everything about attainment that need be said... I tried the method and it works.

What is the method you are referring to? There are at least half a dozen methods described in the Gita.




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