Sunday, November 11, 2018

Quote of the Week 387 - Silence and Solitude


Quote of  the Week 387 - Silence and Solitude
[Dialogue with Ramana Maharshi; D = Devotee posing a question; M = Ramana responding to the question]

D: Is a vow of silence useful?
M: The inner Silence is self-surrender. And that is living without the sense of ego.

D: Is solitude necessary for a Sannyasin [one who takes vows of renunciation]?
M: Solitude is in the mind of a man. One might be in the thick of the world and yet maintain perfect serenity of mind; such a person is always in solitude. Another may stay in the forest, but still be unable to control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is an attitude of the mind; a man attached to the things of life cannot get solitude, wherever he may be. A detached man is always in solitude.

D: What is Mouna [This term designates a person who is practicing not speaking for a period of time as a spiritual discipline or condition; Ramana often went into this state for extended periods]?
M: That State which transcends speech and thought is Mouna; it is meditation without mental activity. Subjugation of the mind is meditation: deep meditation is eternal speech. Silence is ever-speaking; it is the perennial flow of ‘language’. It is interrupted by speaking; for words obstruct this mute ‘language’. Lecturers may entertain individuals for hours without improving them. Silence, on the other hand, is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity…By Silence, Eloquence is meant. Oral lectures are not so eloquent as Silence. Silence is unceasing Eloquence…It is the best Language. There is a state when words cease and Silence prevails.

D: How then can we communicate our thoughts to one another?
M: That becomes necessary if the sense of duality exists…

D: Why does not Bhagavan [an honorific, referring to Ramana Maharshi] go about and preach the Truth to the people at large?
M: How do you know I am not doing it? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around? Preaching is simple communication of Knowledge; it can really be done in Silence only. What do you think of a man who listens to a sermon for an hour and goes away without having been impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another, who sits in a holy Presence and goes away after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is the better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out Inner Force?
            Again, how does speech arise? There is abstract Knowledge, whence arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and thought of the spoken word. So the word is the great-grandson of the original Source. If the word can produce effect, judge for yourself, how much more powerful must be the Preaching through Silence! But people do not understand this simple, bare truth, the Truth of their everyday, ever-present, eternal experience. This Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone unaware of the Self? But they do not like even to hear of this Truth, whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond, about heaven, hell and reincarnation.

--From Maharshi’s Gospel, Books I & II
           
           


Monday, October 29, 2018

In Light of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Tragedy


I wanted to share here an email that I just sent out to members of two Inter-spiritual Contemplative Groups that I help coordinate. The group last night focused on the shootings at the Pittsburgh synagogue.

To all who have ever attended an Inter-Spiritual Contemplative Group:

In the wake of our gathering last night, and in approaching the coming holiday season, I feel moved to share some thoughts.

Some shared last night how important these groups are for them. I am not one to be overly-sentimental or wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I do want to express to all of you how important these groups are to me also. Although I have endured my own personal trials and tribulations, I have no complaints. I have experienced great good fortune to the extent that there are times that I feel like “my cup runneth over.” A big part of that good fortune is having the opportunity to participate in these gatherings with you. I am not one to think much about personal legacy, but I will confess to feeling a great sense of gratification that I salvaged these groups from near extinction, and that so many wonderful people have been attracted and committed to helping facilitate them so that they continue to run smoothly and with great meaning. I am not personally inclined to much outward social activism. These groups are a major contribution of my focus and efforts on spiritual activism, which is a more subtle and delicate undertaking.

Some expressed last night a perceived emotionality in recent days and a sense of a Great Sadness that has been hovering over us for quite some time. I suspect that many of us have felt these same feelings, as they seem pretty palpable, almost like a wave about to crash upon us, a great wall of despair that we are struggling with all of our might to hold off from crumbling on top of us. Someone asked about historical cycles. Yes, I think the pendulum swings and will always swing, and that it is good to maintain some “long view/big picture” perspective. In preparing for last night, I considered presenting Alice Bailey’s Great Invocation, particularly for a couple of its lines. It is something that was an integral part of the Christian Kabalah training I took. I went and reviewed it, and my long-time issues with it remain, so I didn’t bring it along. However, I will make reference to those few lines that do resonate with me. They refer to the human race as having the obligation to infuse life with Divine Love and Light, and to “seal the door where evil dwells.” There are significant matters that are our obligation individually and collectively.

In closing, I would like to invoke one of my newer and favorite slogans: “Despite it all, don’t forget the joy.” Despite it all, there has always been and will always be Divine Nurturance, Grace, Providence, Benevolence, Guidance. There will always be poignant moments that touch the deepest part of our humanity for us all to experience. They may not cancel out the negative, but the positive, the worthwhile – expressions of pure beauty and the sheer exuberance of life – exist alongside the negative. There are magnanimous forces at work beyond our individual and collective resources. They do not relieve us of our responsibilities; they call on us to connect with and channel them in productive and positive manners.

I do not want anyone to think that this is some kind of farewell speech. While I feel that I could leave bodily existence at any time without regret and in satisfaction of having led a full and meaningful life, I think I still have some things yet to do. And I’m not saying that I know what they are. It is useful to regard life as a constant, mysterious unfolding, with many turns that cannot be anticipated.

I will sign off for now with a few more of my favorite platitudes:

Embrace Mystery

Find your inspiration and follow it

Endure

Om Shalom,

10/29/18

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Quote of the Week 386 - Tragedy and Heartbreak


Quote of the Week 386 – Tragedy and Heartbreak

Heartbroken about the tragedy in Pittsburgh. Another moment of shevirat hakeilim, of the shattering of the vessels. How broken and shattered our world has become! Praying for the families who lost loved ones. Praying for all of us.

Thinking of my son Adir who is a Conservative rabbi at Har Zion Temple in Oak Park Illinois and all my other friends who are rabbis and congregants across America. 

Let us respond to the hatred and darkness by filling the world with love and light. Let us raise up the sparks wherever we find them. Let us strive to see the divinity in every human being.

--from my dear friend, Rabbi Yoel Glick

Quote of the Week 387 - Silence and Solitude

Quote of the Week 387 - Silence and Solitude

[Dialogue with Ramana Maharshi; D = Devotee posing a question; M = Ramana responding to the question]

D: Is a vow of silence useful?

M: The inner Silence is self-surrender. And that is living without the sense of ego.

D: Is solitude necessary for a Sannyasin [one who takes vows of renunciation]?

M: Solitude is in the mind of a man. One might be in the thick of the world and yet maintain perfect serenity of mind; such a person is always in solitude. Another may stay in the forest, but still be unable to control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is an attitude of the mind; a man attached to the things of life cannot get solitude, wherever he may be. A detached man is always in solitude.

D: What is Mouna [This term designates a person who is practicing not speaking for a period of time as a spiritual discipline or condition; Ramana often went into this state for extended periods]?

M: That State which transcends speech and thought is Mouna; it is meditation without mental activity. Subjugation of the mind is meditation: deep meditation is eternal speech. Silence is ever-speaking; it is the perennial flow of ‘language’. It is interrupted by speaking; for words obstruct this mute ‘language’. Lecturers may entertain individuals for hours without improving them. Silence, on the other hand, is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity…By Silence, Eloquence is meant. Oral lectures are not so eloquent as Silence. Silence is unceasing Eloquence…It is the best Language. There is a state when words cease and Silence prevails.

D: How then can we communicate our thoughts to one another?

M: That becomes necessary if the sense of duality exists…

D: Why does not Bhagavan [an honorific, referring to Ramana Maharshi] go about and preach the Truth to the people at large?

M: How do you know I am not doing it? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around? Preaching is simple communication of Knowledge; it can really be done in Silence only. What do you think of a man who listens to a sermon for an hour and goes away without having been impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another, who sits in a holy Presence and goes away after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is the better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out Inner Force?

Again, how does speech arise? There is abstract Knowledge, whence arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and thought of the spoken word. So the word is the great-grandson of the original Source. If the word can produce effect, judge for yourself, how much more powerful must be the Preaching through Silence! But people do not understand this simple, bare truth, the Truth of their everyday, ever-present, eternal experience. This Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone unaware of the Self? But they do not like even to hear of this Truth, whereas they are eager to know what lies beyond, about heaven, hell and reincarnation.

--From Maharshi’s Gospel, Books I & II

CURRENT TEACHING SESSIONS

Upcoming Torah-Veda Events:

Date: Saturday, December 8, 2018

Time: 11 AM to 1 PM or whenever; please plan to stay beyond 1 pm for the latkes potluck fest

Location: Residence of Elaine and Steve Gold; 3562 Castlehill Ct., Tucker, GA 30084

In the spirit of inter-spiritual adventure, you are invited to attend a special Hanukah season Tish-Satsang gathering:

In addition to the simulating activity described below, afterwards, we will have a potluck lunch enhanced by a homemade latkes workshop led by Elaine Gold. A pleasant time is guaranteed for all.

What and why is this?

There is a perceived need among segments of our community who are disaffected with traditional communal/religious/spiritual institutions for new, different, and more meaningful avenues for communal expression of spirituality. One where there are no designated leaders/clergy, with everyone else consigned as designated followers/congregants. So here is one effort to address that need and afford everyone a chance to be a leader and participant. Totally unscientific and limited market research has indicated a favorable response to this idea.

While “tish” is a Yiddish word related to a table, its historic meaning relates to a communal gathering of the spiritually-inclined around a table. “Satsang” is a Sanskrit word with a similar connotation of a gathering for spiritual inspiration, “sat” meaning “spiritual truth” and “sang” coming from a root connoting community.

Format:

We will assemble in some semblance of a circle and begin with twenty minutes of silent meditation, so bring a meditation cushion, chair or blanket. Following the meditation period:

1) A hat containing numbers will be passed around, with each participant taking a number.

2) A facilitator will call out a number. The participant holding that number will “have the floor” for 30 seconds to 5 minutes to do anything legal, with the idea to share with the group something of a spiritual/inspiring nature, loosely and broadly defined. There are no limits on what the participant can do while they “have the floor”, and they can enlist participation by others. Examples: sing a song, lead a chant, drum (including inviting others to drum), play an instrument, play a cd, dance, read (poetry, fiction, non-fiction), tell a story, share a piece of art, deliver a dvar, enact a play, tell us about your week, roll a ball around, play duck-duck-goose or musical chairs, show and tell, do nothing, guide a meditation, etc.

3) When your number is called, you can “pass”, but the idea is to come willing to participate. Nothing much will happen if there are too many “passes”.

Also, due to time constraints, there will only be enough time for around 9 participants to present. We welcome everyone to come prepared to present, but please don’t be too disappointed if your number is not called without the allotted time.

4) No-one is to interfere while somebody else has the floor, although, as described above, that person can enlist participation by others. Even if you might elect to pass when your number is called, you should come expecting that somebody else might seek your participation when their number is called.

5) After each period, there will be a short period for comments/discussion, followed by the next number being called.

In addition to the latkes noted above, please bring some potluck goodies to enhance our lunch.

Bring whatever else you want, including musical instruments, drums/other percussion, books, art, etc.

Please RSVP to me by December 6, so we have some idea of how many people are coming.

Thanks, and hope to see you then.




Announcing Publication of New Book, DIMENSIONS: Navigation the Spiritual Spectrum


I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum, now available at Amazon, in paperback print and Kindle versions. It is easily found by searching my name, or by searching the full title and subtitle. You can also click on the image of the book in the right hand column of this blog.


What a great way to start the New Year, cozying up to a fire, real or imagined, and reading a new spiritually inspiring book, sure to become a classic!


DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum

Grounded in the traditions of Torah and Veda, Steven J. Gold takes us on an oceanic tour of the depth and breadth of spiritual consciousness. Sharing personal stories and insights into various traditional scriptures as examples, he urges us to adopt a spiritual worldview, to “ponder infinity, awake and arise,” to “find your inspiration and follow it.”


“The chapters…are records of what happens when Steve’s right mind, and heart, are given full freedom to wander where they wish. As discoveries and correlations are made, his well-trained left mind and sharp wit give his observations shape and form…” – Brother Shankara, Resident Minister, Vedanta Center of Atlanta


“Universal Ice Cream: Dive deep into Steve’s wonderful book to help find your favorite flavor on the Spiritual Spectrum.” – Rabbi Mitch Cohen, Spiritual Leader, Congregation Shalom B’Harim, Dahlonega, GA

“Steven J. Gold’s Dimensions is an exploration of spirituality from the inside out. If you are looking for a guide through the pathless land of truth, read this book.” – Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The World Wisdom Bible



Interfaith/Inter-Spiritual Contemplative Groups

Please check out the following, which is an ongoing activity that may be of interest:


http://www.interfaithci.org/contemplative.html


Or


http://www.neshamainterfaithcenter.org/specialevents/#contemplation