World 1.0nly

Just another day, right? It can always wait until tomorrow.  Just one more minute, one more click.  Later, later, later.  Deferral, endless deferral.  This is the pattern that we must break. Train the mind to not go outside itself or get ahead of itself.  Train the mind to sit still, to exert no effort at all.  Call the thoughts, like chickens, back home to roost.  Do not get hooked on looking for the next big thing.  Do not get hooked on the many distractions.  The world will always offer another absorption, another chain of do more and be more.  The world will always offer you another opportunity to get ahead of yourself, to live outside of yourself.  Rarely will it allow you to just be.  In fact, sitting still is not possible within the prevailing mindset.

And even if you can sit still, even if you have training in advanced meditative techniques, can you train the mind to go back within, like the turtle withdrawing into its shell?  If you do puja and homa, can  you grasp the essence of the words you chant?  That everything is Vishnu, Vishnu, Vishnu?  That all is consciousness, including you?  That everything is That? That you are That?  As an old friend once asked, can you Be Here Now?  It’s not that hard, but it is very hard.  To sit still, yes, but to not let the thoughts go out and roam wherever they wish.  To not follow along with that old goat rope of believe and achieve.  And here’s the thing: when you get that little bit of silence, you might be afraid of missing out on something.  But then the world washes over you in waves, and you see how beautiful it is.

And how would life look different if I didn’t need you to think in a certain way about me?  What if I could let go of the need for you to think that I am beautiful or spiritual or [insert favored adjective here]? Letting go of caution, I could be free to be whatever occurs to me at this moment.  Spontaneity and play would once again become a possibility.  Living with true artistry would once again become a possibility.  To live without having to please others or myself.  To get out of the way and let be.  To participate in the unfolding mystery, to let it engulf me and have its way with me.  To merge with the secret heart of being. To feel the beginning-less origin making all things even now—each moment ancient, each moment brand new.


Doing nothing, happiness comes.  Thinking nothing, happiness comes.  Happiness arises at the end of striving.  Happiness comes when the striving for happiness ceases.  That’s the old trap, the old goat rope, to think that happiness lies out there, just beyond reach.  Just try a little harder, just do a little more, just make a little more money.  And of course that’s what the bosses want us to think, because they, too, have been deluded into thinking that they always need a little more and a little more.  So we entrap ourselves and entrap others.  We have to learn how to untie the knots that we have tied for ourselves, to break the chains of our bondage.

I can free myself by looking within.  Finding nothing there inside myself, I must have the courage to keep looking, to stare into that abyss of darkness.  I must have the courage to sit there in that nothing, in that gaping need, and do nothing about it.  I must stop trying to be fulfilled.  I must sit there reverently before this void.  And, whether I sit or stand, whether I work or I play, whether I open my wallet or keep it shut, I must continue to acknowledge and keep company with this dark night inside.  If I do not need to solve my problems, I am free.  If I do not need to medicate or abdicate or eradicate, I am free.  Then I can eat in peace and chant in peace, work in peace and pray in peace.


Gibberish. These words will not help.  Unless you truly and purposely set down all preoccupation.  Unless you have unwavering faith and devotion.  Unless you are willing to set aside the payoff that you get from distraction.  If you can truly listen, even for one second, happiness will be yours.  But don’t look for happiness.  Don’t allow yourself to be led by the nose.  Become sovereign over your situation by sitting still, by giving up the old panicked way of thinking.  Refuse to believe in fixes.  Know yourself to already be whole.  Perhaps alarm bells are ringing in your head now, that old self-preservation instinct, which says that you must go back to the old way of striving.  And yet where are the demons, except within ourselves?

Give yourself permission to be at peace, right now, wherever you may be.  Become extremely lazy, just for right now.  Become so lazy that you cannot be bothered even to think.  Set aside the heaviest of burdens, the human mind.  You will find it hard to stop thinking, nigh unto impossible.  Consider the wisps of thought that remain to be tendrils of incense drifting through the air of the holy temple.  This holy temple is the mind that has inquired into its own nature, and, therefore, has been cleansed of all impurity.  In this darkened, hallowed place, keep the lamps few.  Trim the wicks carefully.

For the ungoverned mind, it will do no good to visit Bodh Gaya or Rishikesh.  If I cannot stand to be with myself, it will not matter where I go.  Everything will become an elaborate avoidance strategy, a kind of show that I put on for myself and others, a puppet show.  Look at me being spiritual.  Look at me being sexy.  Look at this, look at that.  In order to be at peace, I must at first just be.  Then I will be prepared to receive the teaching.  Then I will be inured to all this useless garbage that passes for culture and civilization.  I wish peace for you, I wish peace for myself, I wish peace for the world.  In order for that to happen, the drive for more must stop.

A Mindful Morning Available for Pre-Order

mindful morning cover


My new book, A Mindful Morning: Start Each Day with a Clear Mind and Open Heart, is now available for pre-order from Amazon, with the official release on August 1st.  Here are the first few paragraphs from the introduction:

In devotional Hinduism, the hours before dawn are thought to be among the most auspicious for meditation, as the veil between the divine and human worlds is the thinnest during these hours. The morning rituals serve as purification for the day to come, to set the mind on the right track. Taking a few moments in the morning to collect your thoughts and check in with your emotions can do wonders for your ability to manage and dismiss stress throughout the remainder of the day. The modern rituals of drinking coffee and reading the news also prepare the mind to face the challenges ahead, and these, too, can be met with mindfulness. Mindfulness, an intentional and steady embrace of the present moment, comes from within.

Few of us claim to be morning people, but perhaps we haven’t given ourselves permission to savor the early hours, to appreciate the light of a new sun. The reflections in A Mindful Morning come from a variety of world philosophies and religions, and they will help you start each day intentionally. These moments of centering will help take the sting out of the morning commute and pressing schedule by easing you calmly into your day. Over the course of this book, you will develop strong inner reserves that help you remain at peace despite the trials of our frantic society, so you can move throughout the day consciously and purposefully as your best and most authentic self.

You may think that you do not have time for mindfulness or meditation, but just think about how much time you spend reading random bits of news and Internet ephemera. Think about how much time you spend tweeting or going on Facebook, or playing Minecraft or Candy Crush. Think about the time that you spend sorting through mostly nonvital e-mail. Think about the stuff that you have to do: compiling reports for work, taking care of the kids, paying bills, buying groceries, doing the laundry: The list goes on and on. You deserve a break of a few minutes, several times a day, to collect yourself and put your mind in a calmer state. You deserve a break from the constant stream of noise and information.

I wrote this book thinking that you, dear reader, have lots of competing priorities—that you do not, in fact, live in a hermitage on top of a mountain. I imagine you sneaking a few minutes here and there to center yourself. I imagine you setting down your cell phone and finding that comfortable chair or reading nook. I see you lighting a stick of incense for a brief time of sacred silence. I see you at your desk or cubicle grabbing a minute or two to take some deep breaths and engage in thoughtful reading. Know that, wherever you are, you stand at the center of the struggle of the ages learning how to live a peaceful life in the midst of the hectic world. May you find a welcome respite in these pages.



Chaitra Navaratri

Durga Puja Festival

Blessings on the occasion of the auspicious beginning of Chaitra Navaratri! The Divine Mother has drawn you to this website for a reason, so that you, through Self inquiry, meditation, and worship, might give Her your burdens and receive the gift of divine illumination.  She longs to scoop you, Her child, into her lap and comfort you.  She longs to use her divine weapons to fight the demons for you.  She takes joy in fulfilling the wishes of her devotees, in taking them to the highest bliss.  We only have to ask to receive her help and protection.

Please consider taking part in this Chaitra Navaratri Sankalpa, to chant 10008 repetitions of the Durge Smrtaa mantra as a group.  All the devotees will reap maximum benefit from taking part in this divine challenge given to us by Shree Maa and Swamiji.  Chandi Maa Ki Jai!!!

Nine Factors of Spiritual Growth

Salt Lake City, October 2015

The spiritual aspirant (sadhak) and the spiritual community (satsangha) are intimately bound with one another.  Indeed, the false opposition between the individual and the collective must be questioned, as all reality, temporal and eternal, manifests from Shiva-Shakti.  There is no “inside” or “outside” for the satsangha, as all beings are on a pilgrimage to their home in God.  These principles stem from an intuitive understanding that all things, living and non-living, human and animal, exist at the pleasure of the unseen divine love.  The divine play (leela) alone makes the illusion (maya) of separation appear.  The vision of love increases when initiates and non-initiates alike follow these precepts:

  1. Examine past faults in a light and unattached manner, seeking to purify flaws and bring positive actions to bear on the future.
  2. Act with strength of purpose, holding an unfaltering mental attitude.
  3. Serve at the feet of the deities (puja, homa) and engage in continual prayer, both mantra recitation and spontaneous conversation with the devas.
  4. Give to those who have less, either materially or spiritually, making the satsangha strong through mutual cooperation and respect.
  5. Seek to complete every action with lovingkindness, regarding no task as trivial.
  6. Always look for new opportunities to serve the community, bringing ideas into action.
  7. Make teachings available for those with little or no previous background, lending support where necessary.
  8. Look for service projects that will improve the natural environment and the lives of non-human creatures, laying the foundations for an improved relationship with the Earth.
  9. Put aside all doubt, taking refuge in the satsangha and dedicating life to service.

These principles, when followed daily, will rapidly accelerate the spiritual growth of individuals while simultaneously making the society vibrant.  They should be reviewed regularly as a spiritual exercise, with each precept adapted to local needs and conditions.

Parliament of World Religions 2015 Photos


slc temple

The Salt Lake Temple

slc vedanta

Swamiji Prasannatmananda of Vedanta Society of Berkeley

slc gandhi articles

Articles used by Ghandi, Ghandi Ashram exhibit

slc gandhi original document

Ghandi original document, Ghandi Ashram exhibit

slc jain temple

Jain Temple

slc tibet sand slc tibetan sand mandala

Tibetan Mandala Construction

slc beads

Tibetan Bead Seller Booth

slc jain chanting slc golden temple

Sikh chanting, Golden Temple model in Langar Hall

Ute Morning Prayers

Ute morning prayers

A few pictures can’t really capture the feelings of goodwill and harmony that embraced the gathering of 9500 people, representing all major faith traditions from around the world, who gathered in Salt Lake City, October 15-19, 2015.  The attendees were devotees, philosophers, activists, scholars, and performers of every background, united around the common theme of “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity.”  Not an unkind word was uttered among these delegates from supposedly antagonistic traditions, who discussed ways to address the major issues confronting humanity in the twenty-first century, especially women’s rights, global poverty, climate change, and war and terrorism.

Ashwin Navaratri

Durga Puja Festival

Shree Maa has given us a new sankalpa for Ashwin Navaratri.   It is a Mahishasura Mardini stotram by Shri Adi Shankara.  We will be striving for 1008 repetitions as a group during Navaratri, in addition to Chandi worship.  Sign up on the Shree Maa website if you can formally participate.  The Mandir will be live streaming as well throughout Navaratri.  Janyananda will be traveling to Utah for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. If you should happen to be going or live nearby, his talk is called “Sanatana Dharma and Earth Liberation: A Goddess-Based Path to a Sustainable Future,” and it will be in Room 355F at 2:00 p.m.  Janyananda will be talking about Sita, the scene from Ramayana in the Ashoka grove, the moments of grief before Hanuman arrives to comfort her. This will begin a discussion of the destruction of earth and the grief for what is happening to our planet.  He will also be meeting Hindu leaders and other religious leaders from around the world and will be seeking advice and blessings for the Society. May all of you have a wonderful Navaratri, and may the divine Mother in all of her forms bless you immensely!

Introducing The Sacred Thread Zine

sacred thread #1 cover

If you were a teenager in America in the 1980s or 1990s, and if you belonged to the punk or indie subcultures, chances are you or a friend had a zine (short for magazine, appropriate for a small magazine) that you made with a typewriter and old school cut-and-paste techniques.  Blogs have largely replaced zines, but there are still a lot of good ones out there. My favorites from the nineties were Cometbus and Pants That Don’t Fit.  Shout-outs also go to Fizgig, Henry Fanclub Maga, The B.O.A. Constrictor, and Window Copy. Cometbus, which always had great writing and artwork, is still around and has expanded into Microcosm Publishing. I don’t know what happened to Pants That Don’t Fit, but someone drop me a line if you know anything. Zines render that down-to-earth feeling that, yes, I too have have something to say, and no, I will not be hindered by the lack of an advertising budget.  Zines were ahead of the curve on LGBTQ issues and feminism, they reviewed bands from small and nonexistent labels, and they gave expression to idiosyncratic, first person points of view.  Reading a zine was like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a friend.  They were, and are, traded on a person-to-person basis or sold in independent bookstores and record shops.

In the best of that tradition, I offer you The Sacred Thread, a dharma punk zine for the 2010s.  The zine will be distributed on a very limited basis in physical form, via mail and at a few shops in Augusta, GA and Aiken, SC.  Or you can download it here. In this first issue:





This was a whole lotta fun to make, and there will hopefully be new issues quarterly, for starters.  Here are two versions that you can download.  First, for the hardcore dharma activist, who can make copies, fold, and distribute:

sacred thread #1 print, copy, fold

And if you can’t be bothered with print and just want to read online:

sacred thread #1 onscreen version

In the future, I hope the zine will feature more vegan recipes, more about skate/punk culture, and more mantras and spiritual practices.  Enjoy!

Save the Date!

For those of you who can come to the Southeastern United States, we will be holding a wonderful Kuchipudi dance event at the University of South Carolina, Aiken on November 20th, from 3-5 p.m.  The event is free, but there are opportunities for sponsorship/donation.  See the flier below for details.

Experiencing Shri Ganesha

Two Books on Liberation

Sabrina MisirHiralall recommended Krishna Dass’ autobiography, Chants of a Lifetime,  a wonderfully positive and uplifting book about the celebrated kirtan singer’s journey from jaded Western young person to lifetime devotee.  Like Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now and many other teachings, Krishna Das is a disciple of Sri Neem Karoli Baba, viewed by his followers as an incarnation of Lord Hanuman.  I can relate to Ram Das and Krishna Das when they speak about their beloved guruji:  I often had the feeling when listening to Swamiji’s talks that he also had the energy of Sri Hanuman.  There was just something about the intensity of his voice and his untiring nature that made me think of the monkey god.  And my tradition, too, is steeped in devotional songs, drawn from Shree Maa’s Bengali tradition.  I often think about how Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna would go into ecstasy just from hearing a kirtan singer in the precincts of Dakshineshwar.

chants of a lifetime

Krishna Das, in recounting his journey from what often sounds like self-loathing to contemplative release, recommended another book called Radical Acceptance, by psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. I found Brach’s book to be a welcome break from the flood of new age literature that recommends a sort of bootstrapping approach to self-improvement.  She leads the reader through a series of exercises in which, rather than trying to escape from our flaws, we simply look at them, as they are, without judgement.  This is a difficult discipline that is so much more kind to the ego self than the usual advice to just muscle through our shortcomings to a supposedly better state of being.  Buddhists and Hindus agree that the ego self is essentially fictitious and illusory, but that doesn’t mean we should run roughshod over it.  If we further shame the inner child, we may just make the situation worse.  Brach offers a gentle path out of the trap that is close to the Buddha’s original teachings.

radical acceptance

To just speak in a casual and off-the-cuff sort of way, we usually have in mind some sort of Ideal Life for ourselves, whether that Ideal is working as a stockbroker on Wall Street or meditating in a cave somewhere.  So far so good: we probably need some sort of goal in order to get out of bed in the morning.  But then it gets more pernicious.  We compare the life that we want to the life that we have now and perceive a massive gap between the real and the Ideal.  This gap or lack is so disturbing that we immediately set about trying to rectify it through mental and emotional gymnastics.  Blame and anger come into the picture.  If I am not living as I think I Should, there must be someone to blame.

The blame and anger can be directed inwardly or outwardly.  We can blame our parents, our children, our life partners, God, or the government.  This is a great trick because it gets us off the hook, but it comes at a tremendous price.  We walk around feeling disgruntled all the time, swearing and muttering under our breath at the slightest provocation.  So peace goes out the door right away, and it is even worse if we direct the blame inward, at ourselves.  This is where self-hatred comes into play, leading to depression and even suicide if it goes unchecked.  All of this is so painful that there is likely to be some self-medication along the way.  This is likely some form of addiction, ranging from mild and socially acceptable to severe and socially censured.

But maybe the real tragedy lies in missing the beauty and joy right in front of our faces.  We are so busy blaming and hating and medicating that we lose sight of the present moment, those little flickers of divine brilliance in everyday life.  We lose the ability to actually pay attention.  We buy into our own propaganda so much that we don’t actually make very much contact with reality.  Our filters, our sh*t-tinted glasses (pardon the expression–I can’t think of a better one) get so convincing and habitual that we can’t take them off.  We mistake our self-written scripts for reality itself, and that becomes a very difficult cycle to break.

So this is why we foolish people who still believe in the spiritual life practice sadhana.  We want to see the world as it is rather than believing in the very convincing (and very depressing) alternate realities that we have constructed for ourselves.  But the old Ego is very wily and can play the spiritual game as well, manipulating most any tradition into blame and anger.  So we must be very alert and pay attention very closely to the game being played between our ears.  The Hindu tradition views that game as a war between the demons and the devas.  Think about the Bhagavad Gita or the Chandi Path.  These are basically texts that teach us how to quell those ugly voices, those dark thoughts.  They are such simple texts in some ways, and yet they are the work of a lifetime.  We have to keep learning their lessons over and over again.

So I suppose it’s okay to have a goal in life and it is okay to fall short of that goal.  We must let the matter drop there and not crank up the blame engine.  We must have a moderate amount of ambition in life in order to function as human beings, but we must not let our shortcomings gnaw at us.  That was one of Ramakrishna’s only criticisms of the Christian tradition, that he felt it led people to concentrate on sin, sin, sin rather than the inner divinity.  Perhaps if we are more gracious with ourselves and with each other, we can find a less tortured way to liberation.