Actions are Sacred

August 19, 2014 Comments Off on Actions are Sacred

Figueras_KeepHands

Tell your hand: “Oh hand, how sacred you are? You are unity personified. One finger cannot lift a cup; when one finger moves to pick it up, all of you, though different in sizes and shape, rush to help and hold the cup! You don’t care for or observe any difference. Such is the unity inherent in you, amongst your fingers. Oh hand, you are very helpful in preserving the human body, you remove troubles through your hard work and you help others. Why do you sometimes act in a manner that develops enmity? Today there is no unity in any congregation, society or religion. However, you know no hatred. Please never indulge in wrong actions.” Thus instruct and guide your hand so that your actions become sacred. When your thoughts, words and deeds are sanctified, all the other instruments also follow suit and thus you attain liberation.

(My Dear Students, Vol 5, Ch 2, Mar 9, 1993).

– Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Thought for the day as written at Prasanthi Nilayam  12th August 2014

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The Higher Bird & Lower Bird

August 19, 2014 Comments Off on The Higher Bird & Lower Bird

 

Mandukya Upanishad_Rishi Angiras

Mandukya Upanishad_Rishi Angiras

One of the stories related to Rishi Angirasa is mentioned in the Mundaka [or Mandukya] Upanishad. A householder by the name Saunaka carried his firewood and reached the forest where Rishi Angirasa was. He approaches the Sage reverently and beseeched “O Holy Sage, teach me that through which the whole universe can be known.” Rishi Angirasa goes on to explain the two different kinds of knowledge on this Earth. The lower knowledge he stated, are the sciences, hymns, rituals, grammar, poetry astrology etc. The higher knowledge is that which leads a man to that which never dies. The Indestructible.

Rishi Angiras explained this further says “This body is like a tree in which two birds live. They look alike. The lower bird is tasting the fruits of the tree and some are sweet and others are sour. The higher bird is just watching the lower bird. One day the lower bird is tired of everything and starts to weep. The lower bird sees the higher bird which is calm, unattached and at peace. The lower bird hops towards the higher one. It suddenly realizes that the upper bird is also just himself, his true Self . Knowing this, his grief disappears. He realises that the Ego was not real, the Self was real, the observer of all.”

More from the Source: https://khushyoga.wordpress.com/category/the-himalayan-tradition/

 

The Angiras Rishis

Source http://www.spirit-web.org/veda/the-secret-of-the-veda/the-angiras-rishis

THE name Angiras occurs in the Veda in two different forms, Angira and Angiras, although the latter is the more common; we have also the patronymic Angirasa applied more than once to the god Brihaspati. In later times Angiras, like Bhrigu and other seers, was regarded as one of the original sages, progenitors of clans of Rishis who went by their names, the Angirasas, Atris, Bhargavas. In the Veda also there are these families of Rishis, the Atris, Bhrigus, Kanwas etc. In one of the hymns of the Atris the discovery of Agni, the sacred fire, is attributed to the Angiras Rishis (V.11.6), but in another to the Bhrigus (X.46.9). [[Very possibly the Angiras Rishis are the flame-powers of Agni and the Bhrigus the solar powers of Surya.]] Frequently the seven original Angiras Rishis are described as the human fathers, pitaro manusyah, who discovered the Light, made the sun to shine and ascended to the heaven of the Truth. In some of the hymns of the tenth Mandala they are associated as the Pitris or Manes with Yama, a deity who only comes into prominence in the later Suktas; they take their seats with the gods on the barhis, the sacred grass, and have their share in the sacrifice.

If this were all, the explanation of the part taken by the Angiras Rishis in the finding of the Cows, would be simple and superficial enough; they would be the Ancestors, the founders of the Vedic religion, partially deified by their descendants and continually associated with the gods whether in the winning back of the Dawn and the Sun out of the long Arctic night or in the conquest of the Light and the Truth. But this is not all, the Vedic myth has profounder aspects. In the first place, the Angirases are not merely the deified human fathers, they are also brought before us as heavenly seers, sons of the gods, sons of heaven and heroes or powers of the Asura, the mighty Lord, divas putraso asurasya vrah (III.53.7), an expression which, their number being seven, reminds us strongly, though perhaps only fortuitously, of the seven Angels of Ahura Mazda in the kindred Iranian mythology. Moreover there are passages in which they seem to become purely symbolical, powers and sons of Agni the original Angiras, forces of the symbolic Light and Flame, and even to coalesce into a single seven-mouthed Angiras with his nine and his ten rays of the Light, navagve angire dasagve saptasye, on and by whom the Dawn breaks out with all her joy and opulence. And yet all these three presentations seem to be of the same Angirases, their characteristics and their action being otherwise identical.

Two entirely opposite explanations can be given of the double character of these seers, divine and human. They may have been originally human sages deified by their descendants and in the apotheosis given a divine parentage and a divine function; or they may have been originally demigods, powers of the Light and Flame, who became humanised as the fathers of the race and the discoverers of its wisdom. Both of these processes are recognisable in early mythology. In the Greek legend, for instance, Castor and Polydeuces and their sister Helen are human beings, though children of Zeus, and only deified after their death, but the probability is that originally all three were gods, — Castor and Polydeuces, the twins, riders of the horse, saviours of sailors on the ocean being almost certainly identical with the Vedic Ashwins, the Horsemen, as their name signifies, riders in the wonderful chariot, twins also, saviours of Bhujyu from the ocean, ferriers over the great waters, brothers of the Dawn, and Helen very possibly the Dawn their sister or even identical with Sarama, the hound of heaven, who is, like Dakshina, a power, almost a figure of the Dawn. But in either case there has been a farther development by which these gods or demigods have become invested with psychological functions, perhaps by the same process which in the Greek religion converted Athene, the Dawn, into the goddess of knowledge and Apollo, the sun, into the divine singer and seer, lord of the prophetic and poetic inspiration.

In the Veda it is possible that another tendency has been at work, — the persistent and all-pervading habit of symbolism dominant in the minds of these ancient Mystics. Everything, their own names, the names of Kings and sacrificers, the ordinary circumstances of their lives were turned into symbols and covers for their secret meaning. Just as they used the ambiguity of the word go, which means both ray and cow, so as to make the concrete figure of the cow, the chief form of their pastoral wealth, a cover for its hidden sense of the inner light which was the chief element in the spiritual wealth they coveted from the gods, so also they would use their own names, Gotama “most full of light”, gavisthira “the steadfast in light” to hide a broad and general sense for their thought beneath what seemed a personal claim or desire. Thus too they used the experiences external and internal whether of themselves or of other Rishis. If there is any truth in the old legend of Shunahshepa bound as a victim on the altar of sacrifice, it is yet quite certain, as we shall see, that in the Rig Veda the occurrence or the legend is used as a symbol of the human soul bound by the triple cord of sin and released from it by the divine power of Agni, Surya, Varuna. So also Rishis like Kutsa, Kanwa, Ushanas Kavya have become types and symbols of certain spiritual experiences and victories and placed in that capacity side by side with the gods. It is not surprising, then, that in this mystic symbolism the seven Angiras Rishis should have become divine powers and living forces of the spiritual life without losing altogether their traditional or historic human character. We will leave, however, these conjectures and speculations aside and examine instead the part played by these three elements or aspects of their personality in the figure of the cows and the recovery of the Sun and the Dawn out of the darkness.

We note first that the word Angiras is used in the Veda as an epithet, often in connection with the image of the Dawn and the Cows. Secondly, it occurs as a name of Agni, while Indra is said to become Angiras and Brihaspati is called Angiras and Angirasa, obviously not as a mere decorative or mythological appellation but with a special significance and an allusion to the psychological or other sense attached to the word. Even the Ashwins are addressed collectively as Angiras. It is therefore clear that the word Angiras is used in the Veda not merely as a name of a certain family of Rishis, but with a distinct meaning inherent in the word. It is probable also that even when used as a name it is still with a clear recognition of the inherent meaning of the name; it is probable even that names in the Veda are generally, if not always, used with a certain stress on their significance, especially the names of gods, sages and kings. The word Indra is generally used as a name, yet we have such significant glimpses of the Vedic method as the description of Usha indratama-angirastama, “most-Indra”, “most-Angiras”, and of the Panis as anindrah, “not-Indra”, expressions which evidently are meant to convey the possession or absence of the qualities, powers or functionings represented by Indra and the Angiras. We have then to see what may be this meaning and what light it sheds on the nature or functions of the Angiras Rishis.

The word is akin to the name Agni; for it is derived from a root ang which is only a nasalised form of ag, the root of Agni. These roots seem to convey intrinsically the sense of pre-eminent or forceful state, feeling, movement, action, light, [[For state we have agra, first, top and Greek agan, excessively; for feeling, Greek agape, love, and possibly Sanskrit angana, a woman; for movement and action several words in Sanskrit and in Greek and Latin.]] and it is this last sense of a brilliant or burning light that gives us Agni, fire, angati, fire, angara, a burning coal and angiras, which must have meant flaming, glowing. Both in the Veda and the tradition of the Brahmanas the Angirases are in their origin closely connected with Agni. In the Brahmanas it is said that Agni is the fire and the Angirases the burning coals, angarah; but in the Veda itself the indication seems rather to be that they are the flames or lustres of Agni. In X.62, a hymn to the Angiras Rishis, it is said of them that they are sons of Agni and have been born about him in different forms all about heaven, and in the next clause it is added, speaking of them collectively in the singular; navagvo nu dacagvo angirastamah saca devesu mamhate, nine-rayed, tenrayed, most Angiras, this Angiras clan becomes together full of plenty with or in the gods; aided by Indra they set free the pen of cows and horses, they give to the sacrificer the mystic eight-eared kine and thereby create in the gods sravas, the divine hearing or inspiration of the Truth. It is fairly evident that the Angiras Rishis are here the radiant lustres of the divine Agni which are born in heaven, therefore of the divine Flame and not of any physical fire; they become equipped with the nine rays of the Light and the ten, become most angiras, that is to say most full of the blazing radiance of Agni, the divine flame, and are therefore able to release the imprisoned Light and Force and create the supramental knowledge.

Even if this interpretation of the symbolism is not accepted, yet that there is a symbolism must be admitted. These Angirases are not human sacrificers, but sons of Agni born in heaven, although their action is precisely that of the human Angirases, the fathers, pitaro manusyah; they are born with different forms, virupasah, and all this can only mean that they are various forms of the power of Agni. The question is of what Agni; the sacrificial flame, the element of fire generally or that other sacred flame which is described as “the priest with the seer-will” or “who does the work of the seer, the true, the rich in varied light of inspiration,” agnir hota kavikratuh satyas citrasravastamah (I.1.5)? If it is the element of fire, then the blazing lustre they represent must be that of the Sun, the fire of Agni radiating out as the solar rays and in association with Indra the sky creating the Dawn. There can be no other physical interpretation consistent with the details and circumstances of the Angiras myth. But this explanation does not at all account for the farther description of the Angiras Rishis as seers, as singers of the hymn, powers of Brihaspati as well as of the Sun and Dawn.

There is another passage of the Veda (VI.6.3-5) in which the identity of these divine Angirases with the flaming lustres of Agni is clearly and unmistakably revealed. “Wide everywhere, O pure-shining Agni, range driven by the wind thy pure shining lustres (bhamasah); forcefully overpowering the heavenly Nine-rayed ones (divya navagvah) enjoy the woods [[The logs of the sacrificial fire, according to Sayana.]] (vana vananti, significantly conveying the covert sense, `enjoying the objects of enjoyment’) breaking them up violently. O thou of the pure light, they bright and pure assail [[Shave the hair of the earth, according to Sayana.]] (or overcome) all the earth, they are thy horses galloping in all directions. Then thy roaming shines widely vast directing their journey to the higher level of the Various-coloured (the cow, Prishni, mother of the Maruts). Then doubly (in earth and heaven?) thy tongue leaps forward like the lightning loosed of the Bull that wars for the cows.” Sayana tries to avoid the obvious identification of the Rishis with the flames by giving navagva the sense of “new-born rays”, but obviously divya navagvah here and the sons of Agni (in X.62) born in heaven who are navagva are the same and cannot possibly be different; and the identification is confirmed, if any confirmation were needed, by the statement that in this ranging of Agni constituted by the action of the Navagwas his tongue takes the appearance of the thunderbolt of Indra, the Bull who wars for the cows, loosed from his hand and leaping forward, undoubtedly to assail the powers of darkness in the hill of heaven; for the march of Agni and the Navagwas is here described as ascending the hill (sanu prsneh) after ranging over the earth.

We have evidently here a symbolism of the Flame and the Light, the divine flames devouring the earth and then becoming the lightning of heaven and the lustre of the solar Powers; for Agni in the Veda is the light of the sun and the lightning as well as the flame found in the waters and shining on the earth. The Angiras Rishis being powers of Agni share this manifold function. The divine flame kindled by the sacrifice supplies also to Indra the material of the lightning, the weapon, the heavenly stone, svarya asma, by which he destroys the powers of darkness and wins the cows, the solar illuminations.

Agni, the father of the Angirases, is not only the fount and origin of these divine flames, he is also described in the Veda as himself the first, that is to say the supreme and original Angiras, prathamo angirah. What do the Vedic poets wish us to understand by this description? We can best understand by a glance at some of the passages in which this epithet is applied to the bright and flaming deity. In the first place it is twice associated with another fixed epithet of Agni, the Son of Force or of Energy, sahasah sunuh, urjo napat. Thus in VIII.60.2, he is addressed “O Angiras, Son of Force”, sahasah suno angirah, and in VIII.84.4, “O Agni Angiras, Son of Energy”, agne angira urjo napat. And in V.11.6, it is said “Thee, O Agni, the Angirases found established in the secret place (guha hitam) lying in wood and wood (vane vane)” or, if we accept the indication of a covert sense we have already noted in the phrase vana vananti, “in each object of enjoyment. So art thou born by being pressed (mathyamanah), a mighty force; thee they call the Son of Force, O Angiras, sa jayase mathyamanah saho mahat tvam ahuh sahasas putram angirah”. It is hardly doubtful, then, that this idea of force is an essential element in the Vedic conception of the Angiras and it is, as we have seen, part of the meaning of the word. Force in status, action, movement, light, feeling is the inherent quality of the roots ag and ang from which we have agni and angirah. Force but also, in these words, Light. Agni, the sacred flame, is the burning force of Light; the Angirases also are burning powers of the Light.

But of what light? physical or figurative? We must not imagine that the Vedic poets were crude and savage intellects incapable of the obvious figure, common to all languages, which makes the physical light a figure of the mental and spiritual, of knowledge, of an inner illumination. The Veda speaks expressly of “luminous sages”, dyumato viprah and the word suri, a seer, is associated with Surya, the sun, by etymology and must originally have meant luminous. In I.31.1 it is said of this god of the Flame, “Thou, O Agni, wast the first Angiras, the seer and auspicious friend, a god, of the gods; in the law of thy working the Maruts with their shining spears were born, seers who do the work by the knowledge.” Clearly, then, in the conception of Agni Angiras there are two ideas, knowledge and action; the luminous Agni and the luminous Maruts are by their light seers of the knowledge, rsi, kavi; and by the light of knowledge the forceful Maruts do the work because they are born or manifested in the characteristic working (vrata) of Agni. For Agni himself has been described to us as having the seer-will, kavikratuh, the force of action which works according to the inspired or supramental knowledge (sravas), for it is that knowledge and not intellectuality which is meant by the word kavi. What then is this great force, Agni Angiras, saho mahat, but the flaming force of the divine consciousness with its two twin qualities of Light and Power working in perfect harmony, — even as the Maruts are described, kavayo vidmana apasah, seers working by the knowledge? We have had reason to conclude that Usha is the divine Dawn and not merely the physical, that her cows or rays of the Dawn and the Sun are the illuminations of the dawning divine consciousness and that therefore the Sun is the Illuminer in the sense of the Lord of Knowledge and that Swar, the solar world beyond heaven and earth, is the world of the divine Truth and Bliss, in a word, that Light in the Veda is the symbol of knowledge, of the illumination of the divine Truth. We now begin to have reason for concluding that the Flame which is only another aspect of Light, is the Vedic symbol for the Force of the divine consciousness, of the supramental Truth.

In another passage, VI.11.3, we have mention of the “seer most illumined of the Angirases”, vepistho angirasam viprah, where the reference is not at all clear. Sayana, ignoring the collocation vepistho viprah which at once fixes the sense of vepistha as equivalent to most vipra, most a seer, most illumined, supposes that Bharadwaja, the traditional Rishi of the hymn, is here praising himself as the “greatest praiser” of the gods; but this is a doubtful suggestion. Here it is Agni who is the hota, the priest; it is he who is sacrificing to the gods, to his own embodiment, tanvam tava svam (VI.{11.2), to the Maruts, Mitra, Varuna, Heaven and Earth. “For in thee”, says the hymn, “the thought even though full of riches desires still the gods, the (divine) births, for the singer of the hymn that he may sacrifice to them, when the sage, the most luminous of the Angirases, utters the rhythm of sweetness in the sacrifice.” It would almost seem that Agni himself is the sage, the most luminous of the Angirases. On the other hand, the description seems to be more appropriate to Brihaspati.

For Brihaspati is also an Angirasa and one who becomes the Angiras. He is, as we have seen, closely associated with the Angiras Rishis in the winning of the luminous cattle and he is so associated as Brahmanaspati, as the Master of the sacred or inspired word (brahma}; for by his cry Vala is split to pieces and the cows answer lowing with desire to his call. As powers of Agni these Rishis are like him kavikratu; they possess the divine Light, they act by it with the divine force; they are not only Rishis, but heroes of the Vedic war, divas putraso asurasya vvah (III.53.7) sons of heaven, heroes of the Mighty Lord, they are, as described in VI.75.9, “the Fathers who dwell in the sweetness (the world of bliss), who establish the wide birth, moving in the difficult places, possessed of force, profound, [[Cf. the description in X.62.5 of the Angirases as sons of Agni, different in form, but all profound in knowledge, gambhravepasah.]] with their bright host and their strength of arrows, invincible, heroes in their being, wide overcomers of the banded foes”: but also, they are, as the next verse describes them, brahmanasah pitarah somyasah, that is, they have the divine word and the inspired knowledge it carries with it. [[This seems to be the sense of the word Brahman in the Veda. It certainly does not mean Brahmanas by caste or priests by profession; the Fathers here are warriors as well as sages. The four castes are only mentioned in the Rig Veda once, in that profound but late composition, the Purushasukta.]]In footnote:Rig Veda This divine word is the satya mantra, it is the thought by whose truth the Angirases bring the Dawn to birth and make the lost Sun to rise in the heavens. This word is also called the arka, a vocable which means both hymn and light and is sometimes used of the sun. It is therefore the word of illumination, the word which expresses the truth of which the Sun is the lord, and its emergence from the secret seat of the Truth is associated with the outpouring by the Sun of its herded radiances; so we read in VII.36.1, “Let the Word come forward from the seat of the Truth; the Sun has released wide by its rays the cows”, pra brahmaitu sadanad rtasya, vi rasmibhih sasrje suryo gah. It has to be won possession of like the Sun itself and the gods have to give their aid for that possession (arkasya satau) as well as for the possession of the Sun (suryasya satau) and of Swar (svarsatau).

The Angiras, therefore, is not only an Agni-power, he is also a Brihaspati-power. Brihaspati is called more than once the Angirasa, as in VI.73.1, yo adribhit prathamaja rtava brhaspatir angiraso havisman, “Brihaspati, breaker of the hill (the cave of the Panis), the first-born who has the Truth, the Angirasa, he of the oblation”. And in X.47.6, we have a still more significant description of Brihaspati as the Angirasa: pra saptagum rtadhtim sumedham brhaspatim matir accha jigati, ya angiraso namasa upasadyah. “The thought goes towards Brihaspati the seven-rayed, the truth-thinking, the perfect intelligence, who is the Angirasa, to be approached with obeisance.” In II.23.18 also, Brihaspati is addressed as Angiras in connection with the release of the cows and the release of the waters; “For the glory of thee the hill parted asunder when thou didst release upward the pen of the cows; with Indra for ally thou didst force out, O Brihaspati, the flood of the waters which was environed by the darkness.”” We may note in passing how closely the release of the waters, which is the subject of the Vritra legend, is associated with the release of the cows which is the subject of the legend of the Angiras Rishis and the Panis and that both Vritra and the Panis are powers of the darkness. The cows are the light of the Truth, the true illumining sun, satyam tat… suryam; the waters released from the environing darkness of Vritra are called sometimes the streams of the Truth, rtasya dharah and sometimes svarvatr apah, the waters of Swar, the luminous solar world.

We see then that the Angiras is in the first place a power of Agni the seer-will; he is the seer who works by the light, by the knowledge; he is a flame of the puissance of Agni, the great force that is born into the world to be the priest of the sacrifice and the leader of the journey, the puissance which the gods are said by Vamadeva (IV.1.1) to establish here as the Immortal in mortals, the energy that does the great work (arati). In the second place, he is a power or at least has the power of Brihaspati, the truth-thinking and seven-rayed, whose seven rays of the light hold that truth which he thinks (rtadhtim) and whose seven mouths repeat the word that expresses the truth, the god of whom it is said (IV.50.4,5), “Brihaspati coming first to birth out of the great Light in the highest heaven, born in many forms, seven-mouthed, seven-rayed (saptasyah saptarasmih), by his cry dispelled the darkness; he by his host with the Rik and the Stubh (the hymn of illumination and the rhythm that affirms the gods) broke Vala by his cry.” It cannot be doubted that by this host or troop of Brihaspati (sustubha rkvata ganena) are meant the Angirasa Rishis who by the true mantra help in the great victory.

Indra is also described as becoming an Angiras or as becoming possessed of the Angiras quality. “May he become most Angiras with the Angirasas, being the Bull with bulls (the bull is the male power or Purusha, nr, with regard to the Rays and the Waters who are the cows, gavah, dhenavah), the Friend with friends, the possessor of the Rik with those who have the Rik (rgmibhir rgm), with those who make the journey (gatubhih, the souls that advance on the path towards the Vast and True) the greatest; may Indra become associated with the Maruts (marutvan) for our thriving.” The epithets here (I.100.4) are all the proper epithets of the Angiras Rishis and Indra is supposed to take upon himself the qualities or relations that constitute Angirashood. So in III.31.7, “Most illumined in knowledge (vipratamah, answering to the vepistho angirasam viprah of VI.11.3), becoming a friend (sakhyan, the Angirases are friends or comrades in the great battle) he went (agacchat, upon the path, cf. gatubhih, discovered by Sarama); the hill sped forth its pregnant contents (garbham) for the doer of the good work; strong in manhood with the young (maryo yuvabhih, the youth also giving the idea of unaging, undecaying force) he sought fullness of riches and won possession (sasana makhasyan); so at once, chanting the hymn (arcan), he became an Angiras.” This Indra who assumes all the qualities of the Angiras is, we must remember, the Lord of Swar, the wide world of the Sun or the Truth, and descends to us with his two shining horses, har, which are called in one passage suryasya ketu, the sun’s two powers of perception or of vision in knowledge, in order to war with the sons of darkness and aid the great journey. If we have been right in all that we have concluded with regard to the esoteric sense of the Veda, Indra must be the Power (indra, the Puissant, [[But also perhaps “shining”, cf. indu, the moon; ina, glorious, the sun; indh, to kindle.]] the powerful lord) of the divine Mind born in man and there increasing by the Word and- the Soma to his full divinity. This growth continues by the winning and growth of the Light, till Indra reveals himself fully as the lord of all the luminous herds which he sees by the “eye of the sun”, the divine Mind master of all the illuminations of knowledge.

Indra, in becoming the Angirasa, becomes marutvan, possessed of or companioned by the Maruts, and these Maruts, luminous and violent gods of the storm and the lightning, uniting in themselves the vehement power of Vayu, the Wind, the Breath, the Lord of Life and the force of Agni, the Seer-Will, are therefore seers who do the work by the knowledge, kavayo vidmana-apasah, as well as battling forces who by the power of the heavenly Breath and the heavenly lightning overthrow the established things, the artificial obstructions, krtrimani rodhamsi, in which the sons of Darkness have entrenched themselves, and aid Indra to overcome Vritra and the Dasyus. They seem to be in the esoteric Veda the Life-Powers that support by their nervous or vital energies the action of the thought in the attempt of the mortal consciousness to grow or expand itself into the immortality of the Truth and Bliss. In any case, they also are described in VI.49. 1 1, as acting with the qualities of the Angirasa (angirasvat), “O young and seers and powers of the sacrifice, Maruts, come uttering the word to the high place (or desirable plane of earth or the hill, adhi sanu prsneh, VI.6.4, which is probably the sense of varasyam), powers increasing, rightly moving (on the path, gatu) like the Angirasa, [[It is to be noted that Sayana here hazards the idea that Angirasa means the moving rays (from ang to move) or the Angirasa Rishis. If the great scholar had been able to pursue with greater courage his ideas to their logical conclusion, he would have anticipated the modern theory in its most essential points.]] give joy even to that which is not illumined (acitram), that which has not received the varied light of the dawn, the night of our ordinary darkness)”. We see there the same characteristics of the Angirasa action, the eternal youth and force of Agni (agne yavistha), the possession and utterance of the Word, the seerhood, the doing of the work of sacrifice, the right movement on the great path which leads, as we shall see, to the world of the Truth, to the vast and luminous bliss. The Maruts are even said to be (X.78.5) as it were “Angirasas with their Sama hymns, they who take all forms”, visvarupa angiraso na samabhih.

All this action and movement are made possible by the coming of Usha, the Dawn. Usha also is described as angirastama and in addition as indratama. The power of Agni, the Angirasa power, manifests itself also in the lightning of Indra and in the rays of the Dawn. Two passages may be cited which throw light on this aspect of the Angirasa force. The first is VII.79.2,3. “The Dawns make their rays to shine out in the extremities of heaven, they labour like men who are set to a work. Thy rays set fleeing the darkness, they extend the Light as if the sun were extending its two arms. Usha has become (or, come into being) most full of Indra power (indratama), opulent in riches and has given birth to the inspirations of knowledge for our happy going (or for good and bliss), the goddess, daughter of Heaven, most full of Angirasahood (angirastama), orders her riches for the doer of good works.” The riches in which Usha is opulent cannot be anything else than the riches of the Light and the Power of the Truth; full of Indra power, the power of the divine illumined mind, she gives the inspirations of that mind (sravamsi) which lead us towards the Bliss, and by the flaming radiant Angirasa-power in her she bestows and arranges her treasures for those who do aright the great work and thus move rightly on the path, ittha naksanto angirasvat (VI.49.11).

The second passage is in VII.75, “Dawn, heaven-born, has opened up (the veil of darkness) by the Truth and she comes making manifest the vastness (mahimanam), she has drawn away the veil of harms and of darkness (druhas tamah) and all that is unloved; most full of Angirasahood she manifests the paths (of the great journey). Today, O Dawn, awake for us for the journey to the vast bliss (mahe suvitaya), extend (thy riches) for a vast state of enjoyment, confirm in us a wealth of varied brightness (citram) full of inspired knowledge (sravasyum), in us mortals, O human and divine. These are the lustres of the visible Dawn which have come varied-bright (citrah) and immortal; bringing to birth the divine workings they diffuse themselves, filling those of the mid-region”, janayanto daivyani vratani, aprnanto antariksa vyasthuh (Riks 1-3). Again we have the Angirasa power associated with the journey, the revelation of its paths by the removal of the darkness and the bringing of the radiances of the Dawn; the Panis represent the harms (druhah, hurts or those who hurt) done to man by the evil powers, the darkness is their cave; the journey is that which leads to the divine happiness and the state of immortal bliss by means of our growing wealth of light and power and knowledge; the immortal lustres of the Dawn which give birth in man to the heavenly workings and fill with them the workings of the mid-regions between earth and heaven, that is to say, the functioning of those vital planes governed by Vayu which link our physical and pure mental being, may well be the Angirasa powers. For they too gain and maintain the truth by maintaining unhurt the divine workings (amardhanto daivya vratani.) This is indeed their function, to bring the divine Dawn into mortal nature so that the visible goddess pouring out her riches may be there, at once divine and human, devi martesu manusi, the goddess human in mortals.

Source:http://www.spirit-web.org/veda/the-secret-of-the-veda/the-angiras-rishis

What is Dharma? by Shukavak N. Dasa

August 22, 2013 Comments Off on What is Dharma? by Shukavak N. Dasa

Dharma_Wallpaper_by_jerrydmills

A Hindu Primer
by
Shukavak N. Dasa

Copyright © 2007 Sanskrit Religions Institute
All rights reserved.

What is Dharma? 

The Dharma of Police

Dharma is one of the most important themes within Hinduism. One often sees dharma translated as religion, duty, or even righteousness, but in fact, there is no single direct translation for dharma. Religion, duty and righteousness are not wrong; they are simply included within the idea of dharma. The word “dharma” comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to “uphold” or to “sustain.” From this perspective, the best way to think of dharma is to say, “that which upholds or sustains the positive order of things: the nation, the community, the family and ultimately even the universe.” At a social level, every individual has a particular dharma according to their place in life. Children have a dharma, parents have a dharma, teachers have a dharma, the police have a dharma and even the head of a nation has a dharma. One of the dharmas of a child, for example, is to obey parents and to study. Parents have a dharma to protect and look after children: to make sure they are educated, fed, housed and trained. It is sometimes written on the sides of police cars: To Serve and to Protect. This is a statement of dharma for police. A head of state has a dharma to protect the country and to provide a secure environment for its citizens. If everyone performs their dharma: children obey parents, parents look after children, citizens uphold the laws of the land, the police enforce the law, a head of state protects the nation, then the family, the community and the nation are “upheld” and there can be prosperity. This is dharma, and it all follows from the idea of dhri, to uphold.

Graffiti as adharma

The opposite of dharma is “a-dharma.” What this means is obvious. If children fail to obey parents, if parents do not train and discipline children, if the police misuse their power and fail to protect, if the head of state fails to act in the interest of the nation, then adharma exists, and when there is too much adharma, there will be a break down of the family, society or the nation. The nation, the community, the family and even individuals cannot prosper when too much adharma reigns. There is a saying, “Protect dharma and dharma will protect you.”

Individuals have different dharmas at different times in their lives. A child has a certain dharma that we mentioned above, but the same person as an adult has different dharmas to focus upon. And still later in life, there are other dharmas that need to be stressed. When one is married, one should not live according to the dharma of a child. If an adult adopts the dharma of a child this is adharma. A child cannot follow the dharma of the police. If an ordinary citizen tries to follow the dharma of the a head of state it results in adharma.

The Wheel of Dharma

The ancient Hindu social system was called Varnashrama Dharma and the great epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are built on this system of dharma. In the Ramayana, the hero Rama exhibits the ideal execution of the dharma as a son and king. Sita, his wife, illustrates the dharma of the ideal woman and wife. Hanuman, the divine monkey, exhibits the dharma of a devoted servant in the way he serves Rama. The evil Ravana, the villain, is the very personification of adharma as he kidnaps Sita and tries to usurp Rama’s kingdom. In the end adharma destroys Ravana. In the Mahabharata, a great war takes place as dharma and adharma collide in a cosmic struggle over good and evil. In the end, good triumphs over evil. Dharma always rules over adharma. This is the way of the universe.

The word dharma is also used in a different way within Hindu philosophy that can also be understood from the root dhri. Every constituent of matter: liquids, metals, gases, fire, and so on have different dharmas. For example, the dharma of water is liquidity and wetness. The dharma of ice is solidity and coldness. The dharma of fire is heat and light. In other words, whatever it is that makes water, water or ice, ice, or fire, fire; what “upholds” the state of being water-ness, ice-ness, or fire-ness, etc., is dharma. These ideas occupies an important part of Hindu philosophy and even though they are subtle, I think the reader can see how even this use of dharma comes from the root dhri Indeed, the idea of dharma is paramount within both Hindu religion and philosophy.

 

Source: http://www.sanskrit.org/www/Hindu%20Primer/dharma.html

Learning ~ 3 Barriers To Study

September 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

images-1“Study technology works on everything in Life. Life is light. You can make
light do anything you want to.  Photography means ‘light writing.’”
In learning photography I came across ways to learn.”
“The first barrier to study is Absence of Mass or Physical Object one is studying.

The second barrier to study is Too Steep a Study Gradient

The third barrier to study is All becomes distinctly blank beyond a word not understood or wrongly understood.” ~L. Ron Hubbard

volunteer-ministers-study-bookletarticles on:
Grammar is the way words are organized into speech and writings so as to convey exact thoughts, ideas and meanings amongst people. It is essentially a system of agreements as to the relationship of words to bring about meaningful
communication.”

Word Clearing – Education Understanding “The relay of ideas from one
mind to another mind or minds depends upon words, symbols, sounds, pictures, emotions and past associations. Primary amongst these, in any developed culture, are words. These can be written or spoken.”

TeachingIf one wishes a subject to be taught with maximal effectiveness, he should:

1. Present it in its most interesting form.
2. Present it in its simplest form (but not necessarily its most elementary).
3. Teach it with minimal altitude (prestige)
4. Present each step of the subject in its most fundamental form with minimal material derived therefrom by the instructor.
5. Stress the values of data.   Form patterns of computation in the individual with regard only to their usefulness.
6. Teach where data can be found or how it can be derived, not the recording of data. Be prepared, as an instructor, to learn from the students.
7. Treat subjects as variables of expanding use which may be altered at individual will.
8. Teach the stability of knowledge as resident only in the student’s ability to apply knowledge or alter what he knows for new application.
9. Stress the right of the individual to select only what he desires to know, to use any knowledge as he wishes, that he himself owns what he has learned.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mis-understood or not-understood are terms used to define any error or omission in comprehension of a word, concept, symbol or status.

Most people go around thinking that a misunderstood is just something they obviously don’t know–a “not-understood.”

A “not understood” is a misunderstood, but there are additional ways a person cn misunderstand a word. [excerpt from the Student Hat]

A MISUNDERSTOOD WORD OR SYMBOL IS DEFINED AS A WORD OR SYMBOL, FOR WHICH THE STUDENT HAS:

1. A FALSE (TOTALLY WRONG) DEFINITION: A DEFINITION THAT HAS NO RELATIONSHIP TO THE ACTUAL MEANING OF THE WORD OR SYMBOL WHATSOEVER.

2. AN INVENTED DEFINITION: An invented definition is a version of a false definition.  The person has made it up himself or has been given an invented definition.  Not knowing the actual definition, he invents one for it.  This is sometimes difficult to detect because he is certain he know it; after all, he invented it himself.

3. AN INCORRECT DEFINITION: A definition that is not right but may have some relationship to the word or symbol or be in a similar category.

4. AN INCOMPLETE DEFINITION: A definition that is inadequate.

5. AN UNSUITABLE DEFINITION: A definition that does not fit the word as it is used in the context of the sentence one has heard or read.

6. A HOMONYMIC (one word which has two or more distinctly separate meanings) DEFINITION: A homonym is a word that is used to designate several different things which have totally different meanings; or a homonym can be one of two or more words that have the same sound, sometimes the same spelling, but differ in meaning.

7. A SUBSTITUTE (SYNONYM–a word which has a similar but not the same meaning) DEFINITION: A substitute definition occurs when a person uses a synonym for the definition of a word.  A  synonym is not a definition.  A synonym is a word having a meaning similar to that of another word.

8. AN OMITTED (MISSING) DEFINITION: An omitted definition is a definition of a word that the person is missing or is omitted from the dictionary he is using.

9. A NO-DEFINITION:  A no-definition is a “not-understood” word or symbol.

10.A REJECTED DEFINITION: A rejected definition is a definition of a word which the person will not accept.  The reasons why he will not accept it are usually based on emotional reactions connected with it.
The person finds the definition degrading to himself or his friends or group in some imagined way or restimulative to him in some fashion.
Although he may have a total misunderstood on the word, he may refuse to have it explained or look it up. ~L. Ron Hubbard

Scientology Handbook

Golden Verses of Pythagoras

August 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

4 TGolden Verses of Pythagoras*

Preparation

Worship the Immortal Gods* by making your sacrifice: keeping your faith, honoring great heroes, living in harmony in the world.

Greek Gods on Olympus

 

Purification

Honor your mother and father, and your relatives.

Choose for yourself a wise friend; heed his advice and learn from his example; do not quarrel with him for trifle reasons.

Remember about the law of cause and effect in your life.

You are given the ability to overcome your passions: greed, laziness, lust, and anger; use it and restrain yourself!

Do nothing shameful, be you with others or alone! Preserve your honor!

Practice justice in your words and deeds; follow the dictates of the mind and the law.

Remember that all people are destined to die.

Remember that the earthly boons can be easily given to people and so easily they can be taken from them.

As for the misfortunes that are sent to people according to their destinies, you have to endure them patiently. Strive nevertheless to alleviate the pain as much as you can. And remember that the Immortal Gods never send to people trials above their strengths.

There are many possibilities people can choose from. There are bad and there are good ones. So, look carefully and choose for yourself the noble Path.

If among people delusion prevails over truth, the wise steps aside and waits until truth reigns again.

Heed to what I am going to tell you:

Do not let deeds and thoughts of other people confuse you; let them not prompt you to do or say anything evil!

Listen to others’ advice and deliberate yourself! Only fools act thoughtlessly, without consideration!

Do not try to do work of which you are ignorant, but learn first what is necessary — only then will you succeed!

Do not neglect the health of your body. Give to the body food, drink, and exercise in measure — so that it strengthens and knows not surfeit and slumber!

Keep your life in order. Abandon any luxury, for it can make other people envious.

Be afraid of becoming a stingy person, but fear also to squander goods like careless people do.

Do only that which will not lead you to destruction! Therefore, before acting, deliberate on your every step and deed.

 

 

Perfection

Before sleep closes your eyes, remember thrice your deeds of the day. Consider them as an impartial judge and ask yourself: “What good did I do? What did I fail to do that I should have done?” Thus review everything you did throughout the day. Reproach yourself severely for all wrong deeds! Be glad about the good ones!

Reflect on these instructions and practice them! With their help you can approach Perfection! The warrantor of this truth is He Who put in us the basis for Divine Realization and higher virtues!

Address the Gods with fervent request for help and get to work!

Standing firmly on this Path, you will know everything about the Immortal Gods. You will know also about people, about the difference between them, about the One Who contains them in Himself, being their Foundation. You will know that the entire universe is a Single Whole, and that in the Eternal there is no dead matter.

Having known this, you will make no mistakes, for nothing will be hidden from you!

You will know also that people themselves cause their calamities due to ignorance! They are free in choosing their destinies!

Wretches! They do not see that the desired happiness resides in them, in their own depths!

Only a few can cast away afflictions with their own efforts, for most people are blind to the law of the formation of their destinies! Like wheels they roll downhill carrying the burden of their past misdeeds toward others, the burden which controls their destinies until death comes…

Instead of seeking occasions for a quarrel, people should avoid it, conceding to each other without arguing…

O omnipotent Zeus, are You alone capable of saving the human kind from afflictions by showing them the veil of ignorance which blinds their eyes?!

But we should not abandon hope of saving people from the darkness of ignorance — for every human has a Divine root and the nature can reveal to people its mysteries. Once you know them, you will realize what I foretell you!

Heal you the soul! This will reveal to you the way to Liberation!

And abstain from eating flesh: this is contrary to your nature and will prevent you from purifying yourself!

So if you want to become free from the earthly fetters, follow this understanding given to you from above. Let it control your destiny.

And after you transform the soul completely, you can defeat death and become an Immortal God!

Pythagoras

The Precepts of Pythagoras

August 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

69bfa15f46fa45a0da1ef5b2d99754bcexplained byDonald Tyson

(Plato’s ghost instructs the poet Milton, by William Blake,1816)

The precepts of Pythagoras are a collection of short instructions or commandments on various activities, intended to act as a guide to proper and judicious conduct for the members of the Pythagorean brotherhood. They are expressed in symbolic terms, and must be interpreted to be correctly understood. The number of these precepts varies from collection to collection. I have used the collection of the French writer M. Dacier, found in his book The Life of Pythagoras, with his Symbols and Golden Verses, together with the Life of Hierocles and his Commentary upon the Verses (London edition of 1707).

Dacier presented seventy-five precepts, which he chose to call symbols. I have not adopted this term since it is bound to confuse modern readers. Many of the precepts are open to more than one interpretation, and some are difficult to fathom. The explanations should be received as a guide to their understanding, not as a final statement of their meaning.

Concerning these concise instructions, Dacier wrote:

Symbols are short Sentences, and as it were Riddles, which under the Cover of plain and natural Expressions, represent to the Understanding the Analogical Truths we would teach it. These sorts of Symbols were, as I may say, the Infancy of Morals; for not having need, any more than Proverbs, either of Definition or Reasoning, and going directly to inculcate the Precept, they were very proper to instruct Mankind, especially at a time when Morals had not yet been methodically treated. Thus you see why they were so much in use, not only in Egypt, but in Judea, and In Arabia, as we see by the Proverbs of Solomon, which are full of them; by the Story of the Queen of Sheba, who went to prove the Wisdom of that Prince with these sorts of Riddles; and by the Story of Samson: And they were yet more proper for Pythagoras, who after the Example of the Egyptians, endeavour’d to teach his Doctrine without divulging it and without hiding it.

Many if not all of the precepts appear to be common folk sayings from the period in which Pythagoras lived. He adopted these saying for his own, and gave each of them an esoteric interpretation with moral and spiritual significance. In this way his followers could say one thing, and be understood by the average person on the common level, yet at the same moment say quite another thing with a much more subtle and complex meaning for those who had been initiated into the Pythagorean teachings.

The precepts have much the same effect on the mind as the Zen koans – brief, enigmatic sayings designed to spur transcendent thought. They were probably discussed and debated at great length between Pythagorean brothers.

They could be spoken openly before the uninitiated, but their inner meanings were sacred mysteries within the sect, and in consequence no complete explanation has come down to us. It is said of Tamycha, the wife of the Pythagorean Mullias, that she bit off her own tongue and spat it into the face of the tyrant Dionysius rather than be forced by him to reveal the esoteric meanings of the precepts.

Although the precepts are to be understood symbolically, they were followed in a literal sense by Pythagoreans. For example, one of the most famous is “abstain from beans.” The followers of the sage took this so much to heart, they would rather allow themselves to be killed than walk across a bean field.

I.

Go not beyond the balance.

The balance or scale was the ancient symbol of justice. It represented a just measure of worth, and hence by extension both lawful and honorable dealings. The aphorism is a warning not to exceed the bounds of the just laws of the nation. It is not a prohibition against violating arbitrary edicts that are unfair but are enforced only by the threat of punishment; rather, it warns against disgracing the dictates of the goddess Justice, whose laws are always based on fairness and truth.

II.

Sit not down on the bushel.

Dacier observed that the bushel, or choenix, was the measure of grain given to each slave for his sustenance. A bushel basket is most easily used for a seat when it is inverted, and in this condition cannot be filled. To sit on the bushel basket is to be slothful, and the consequence is deprivation. Honest work is the way to provide for the necessities of life.

A bushel basket can also form a seat when it is filled, if we rest upon its contents. Another possible interpretation is that we should not be content with the measure of a slave – that is, should not merely accept what is given us, but should strive to better our lot in life by working beyond the degree that is required for mere survival. A familiar saying that expresses somewhat the same idea is “Do not rest on your laurels.”

III.

Tear not the crown to pieces.

It was the custom in ancient times to wear wreaths of flowers about the head during banquets. Dacier suggests three possible interpretations: that we should not spoil celebrations by displays of worry or grief; that we should not transgress the laws of the state, which are its crowning glory; that we should not speak ill of princes, that is to say, of those in positions of power.

Of the three, I am inclined to believe that Pythagoras intended the first meaning. The crown of flowers worn at feasts represented a union of its members. Each flower symbolized one of the celebrants, and the chain of stems, the good cheer that bound them together. To rend this crown by nervously picking at its petals, as undoubted many a worried guest must have done while revelry went on all around him, is to break this sacred union of happiness with a display of discontent. No one is more resented by party-goers than a melancholy individual who inhibits their enjoyment. It is a display of bad manners that can have unfortunate social consequences.

IV.

Eat not the heart.

The popular expression “eat your heart out” has an ancient lineage. Homer used this expression of Bellerophon, saying that he was “eating his own heart” with despair. This precept cautions us not to give in to discontent over our condition in life. Prolonged brooding and melancholy are self-destructive and accomplish no useful end.

V.

Stir not up the fire with a sword.

Do not inflame to violence the anger of others by your words or deeds. It is to “add fuel to the fire” and to “pour oil upon the flames,” to use two more familiar expressions. Fire symbolizes anger, the sword symbolizes strife or conflict.

There are two interpretations as to how this stirring up to violence takes place. Either the Pythagorean precept cautions against opposing or contradicting an angry person, lest that anger be turned against you; or it cautions against encouraging anger by giving counsels of violent action. I believe that Pythagoras intended the second meaning. To incite to violence those who are enraged is a despicable act of which Pythagoras would have strongly disapproved.

VI.

When you are arrived on the frontiers, desire not to return back.

Dacier interpreted this to mean that when we reach the appointed time of death, we should not timorously cling to life. However, “frontier” can be viewed more generally as any challenge that confronts us. If we accept this broader meaning of the term, then the message is that when we accept a difficult task or a hardship, we should not try to back out of it at the last minute. It is a caution against getting “cold feet” in the face of opposition.

VII.

Go not in the public way.

This is a counsel to avoid the easy avenue of popular opinion in favor of the narrow path of independent thought. It is particularly applicable in occult or spiritual studies. Those who accept popular opinion about difficult questions will never attain an informed understanding of the matter. They must seek their own unique way to the truth if it is to acquire meaning in their lives. It is the difference between truism and living truth, between the unexamined life and knowing oneself.

VIII.

Suffer no swallows about your house.

Swallows are proverbial for their incessant twittering. Silence is necessary for a philosophical way of life. This is a caution against engaging in idle conversation for its own sake, merely as a type of social interaction. It is specifically condemned around the home. It is one thing for an enlightened man or woman to indulge in casual talk while in society, where silence might be misinterpreted as rudeness, but it is another thing to bring this noise home, into what should be a haven of stillness and reflection.

IX.

Wear not the image of God upon your ring.

Hands commit all manner of actions, base and noble, coarse and refined. A divine image should always be treated with respect. This is not possible when it is worn on the person as an article of jewelry. To avoid profanation, it should not be worn. Pythagoras would probably not have approved of the wearing of the cross by Christians, for this reason. It too easily lapses from a reminder of the divine to a mere fashion accessory.

In ancient times, rings were often used as seals for legal documents. A more symbolic interpretation is that we should not invoke the name of God to justify our personal, selfish actions.

X.

Help men to burden, but not to unburden themselves.

It is no act of kindness to help others live easy, slothful, unexamined lives. The human spirit thrives on challenges that must be overcome by an application of effort and ingenuity. It sickens where all needs are met without work. In the absence of doubt there can be no learning. The true spiritual teacher is one who knocks out the underpinnings of conventional thought and leaves the student bewildered and confused, because then he is forced to think and act for himself. Questions are the wealth of the soul.

XI.

Shake not hands easily with any man.

A handshake is a bond of trust. It represents an accord or agreement. Do not pledge your support or compliance to anyone unless you are sure they merit your respect.

Another interpretation is that you should not make hollow displays of camaraderie toward those to whom you do not feel genuine affection and trust.

XII.

Leave not the least mark of the pot upon the ashes.

A bubbling pot represents a quarrel, and a fire represents anger. When the fire has burned itself out and the pot has ceased to bubble, make no reference to the original cause of the dispute.

XIII.

Sow mallows, but never eat them.

The mallow is a flowering plant related to Venus, goddess of love. Its juice was used to treat bruises, stings, swelling, redness and irritation of the skin. It is a soothing balm. To sow mallows means to be gentle toward others and forgive their errors. Never to eat them means to be more critical of your own mistakes and transgressions, so that you may improve your own nature.

XIV.

Wipe not out the place of the torch.

The torch symbolizes the light of the spirit. Even when that light has temporarily been extinguished by base thoughts or evil actions, do not wipe away the memory of its purifying radiance from your mind, for by remembering the occasions on which you acted with honor you may be able to reignite it at some future time.

XV.

Wear not a straight ring.

A plain iron ring was the emblem of a slave in ancient times. You should not allow others to constrict your speech and control your thoughts through the promise of favor or the threat of punishment, but should always think freely and act according to your own conscience.

XVI.

Feed not the animals that have crooked claws.

It is dangerous to offer help or shelter to those who are by nature thankless and unfaithful. Crooked claws are the weapons of predatory beasts.

XVII.

Abstain from beans.

This is the most famous and most obscure of all the Pythagorean precepts. One popular ancient interpretation was that it means to abstain from politics, because it was the custom in the days of Pythagoras to choose officials by casting white and black beans in a vote.

The answer may be more simple. Beans are universally known to produce flatulence. For this reason the Egyptian priests abhorred them and would not eat them. Pythagoras is supposed to have acquired some of his wisdom from the Egyptians, so it is not unlikely that he also adopted a number of their customs. In a general sense, this precept means that you should avoid those things that generate corruption and foulness, even though they seem palatable in the beginning.

XVIII.

Eat not fish whose tails are black.

To eat is to symbolically accept something within yourself, and to make that thing a part of your very nature. The tail of a fish is its motivator, the means for its actions. Thus, we are cautioned not to accept into our hearts those who have winning smiles and pleasant words, but first to look to their deeds and the purpose behind those deeds to determine their true worth.

XIX.

Never eat the gurnet.

The reference here is to the red sea-mullet, or gurnard (erythinum), a red fish with a large, spiny head. Dacier asserts that this fish is the “Emblem of Blood,” presumably due to its coloration. The term “gurnet” also signifies the pomegranate and the garnet stone, both bright red in color, both symbols of blood, but it is the red fish that was intended by Pythagoras.

We may interpret this precept as a prohibition against eating blood, in a poetic sense – that is, against seeking the blood of others through acts of revenge.

XX.

Eat not the matrix of animals.

The matrix is the womb, and here represents sexual passion. Animals symbolize the brute nature in mankind. To eat the matrix is to indulge in sex only for physical gratification. Pythagoras is cautioning his followers not to allow themselves to be consumed by erotic desires.

XXI.

Abstain from the flesh of beasts that die of themselves.

Beasts that had died of sickness or other causes were not considered fit offerings to the gods, because their vital energy was less than beasts that were sacrificed while still living. The gods fed on the spiritual vitality (pneuma or spiritus) present in the blood of the sacrifices.

By directing that his disciples eat what the gods eat, Pythagoras implied that in order to awaken their divine nature, his followers should nourish themselves on life rather than on death.

XXII.

Abstain from eating animals.

Animals represent the lower nature. Eating is a process of taking into the self and making one with the self. The meaning is, do not accept and emulate the arguments or habits of irrational human beings.

XXIII.

Always put salt upon the table.

Dacier recorded the saying of Pythagoras that “Salt was the Emblem of Justice; for as Salt preserves all things, and prevents Corruption, so Justice preserves whatever it animates, and without it all is corrupted.” If we understand the table to symbolize the place of business transactions or bargaining, as indeed it does today, then the meaning of this precept is to always use justice in business dealings.

XXIV.

Never break the bread.

This can only be understood fully when we know that both the Greeks and Romans used to divide their bread into four parts by impressed lines into the dough before it went into the oven.

Many interpreters have found this saying of Pythagoras obscure, since obviously bread is made to be broken when eaten. Some have compared the bread to human life, presumably on the basis that bread is called the staff of life, and believe the saying cautions against tearing your life to pieces by pursuing conflicting purposes; others that it commands concord toward those with whom we have dealings.

Dacier has come close to the most likely meaning when he asserts that the saying signifies we should not be stinting in our displays of charity – that is, we should give the whole loaf rather than breaking it up into parts. However, I do not think Pythagoras referred to charity so much as hospitality towards friends and guests.

In my view, the meaning is that when we share our house and table with others, we should give them the entire loaf, even if we go hungry as a result, because by dividing the loaf, neither we nor our guests will have enough, but by giving all to our guests we can at least insure that their needs are satisfied.

XXV.

Spill not oil upon the seat.

The “seat” is the place of power, because rulers, law-givers and officials pronounce their judgments while sitting down. Hence the saying the “seat of government.” To spill oil upon the seat is to pay bribes in order to get unjust considerations. It is similar to the saying “grease the palms” and also to the saying “grease the wheels of justice.”

Dacier believed that this precept meant that we should not flatter great men. This is a plausible interpretation. Flattery is a kind of bribe. However, I believe the meaning encompasses both bribes of flattering words and bribes of gifts or money. The reason we should not bribe officials is that even though we may gain victory in our immediate dispute, through bribery we both dishonor ourselves, and also corrupt an institution that is required for the healthy functioning of the state.

XXVI.

Put not meat into a foul vessel.

Specifically the Greek word amis, a chamber-pot, is used. Do not pour nourishment into a chamber-pot, which is by its inherent nature designed only to receive wastes. Do not cast away your time and energy giving good advice to those who are unfit to benefit from it.

XXVII.

Feed the cock but sacrifice him not, for he is sacred to the sun and to the moon.

The cock is the watchful herald of the dawn. The sun and moon are the eyes of heaven. You should support those who are vigilant about moral and ethical behavior, and should not condemn them even when their observations inconvenience your own wishes, because their words support the voice of your conscience.

XXVIII.

Break not the teeth.

Both Greeks and Romans used the expression “to break the teeth” when talking about satirizing or reviling someone. This is a caution not to publicly mock others.

XXIX.

Keep the vinegar cruet far from you.

This precept is somewhat similar to the previous one, but whereas the one above cautions against using humor and wit to tear down the character of another person, this precept forbids the use of sour, vicious words for the same purpose. We should not use bitterness and malice when talking about others.

XXX.

Spit upon the parings of your nails, and the clippings of your hair.

The hair and nails are the dead products of the physical body. They were considered unclean by those who sought to exalt their lives spiritually. This is why Egyptian priests, and indeed many ancient priest casts, shaved the entire body. Pythagoras is saying, leave your old, dead life in the flesh behind you and take up a new life in the spirit.

There may also be an occult meaning. By spitting on the hair and nail clippings, we repudiate them and separate them from us. This makes them less effective for use in works of black magic directed against us.

XXXI.

Make not water against the sun.

The sun here represents daylight, the public view. You should turn your back to the sun, which is to say, conceal your actions in shadow, when you urinate. In a more general sense, Pythagoras is counseling modest behavior. In his day public toilets were a rarity, and most urination and defecation were done in the open. To expose the sexual organs was to risk provoking erotic feelings in others. This was contrary to a spiritual life. Dacier noted that it had been said that no one ever saw Pythagoras urinate, which, if true, indicates a high degree of modesty.

XXXII.

Speak not in the face of the sun.

We should not reveal our innermost beliefs and feelings in public, but should preserve them to share with those who merit our trust. It is wise to remain silent in social gatherings or public places, and to listen while others talk. One who does not speak cannot betray himself.

XXXIII.

We ought not to sleep at noon.

This saying can be taken in a literal sense to mean that we should not be slothful, but should be up and about in daylight hours doing the work that needs to be done.

Why, though, did Pythagoras specify noon rather than daybreak or daylight? Noon is the height of brightness, when everything is most clearly exposed and illuminated. Perhaps Pythagoras is saying that we should not close our eyes to the obvious, when it is staring us in the face, but should accept truths even when they may be inconvenient, or may be matters we do not wish to see.

XXXIV.

Stir up the bed as soon as you are risen, and leave in it no print of your body.

The straightforward sense is that we should make up our bed as soon as we rise, so that we are not tempted to lie down in it again in the same place.

More abstractly, we should wipe out the memories of what we did and the things we enjoyed while lost in a physical life, so that having turned toward a spiritual life, we are not tempted to resume old habits. This can best be done by changing our behavior so that little things we do each day do not remind us of destructive desires and urges.

XXXV.

Never sing but to the harp.

Pythagoras rejected all musical instruments other than the harp as unfit to accompany songs of praise to the gods and heroes. The meaning is that we should devote our thoughts and words to higher matters of the spirit, not waste them on trivial, everyday affairs of no importance.

XXXVI.

Always keep your things ready packed up.

Keep your affairs in good order, because you never know when disaster or death may strike. Maintain a state of preparation every day that is the same as the condition you would strive to attain if you knew that your death was imminent. Leave no necessary task undone. View each day as the day you will leave your home in the physical body and take up a new home in the spiritual body.

XXXVII.

Quit not your post without the order of your general.

This is a condemnation of suicide, a practice that was looked upon as acceptable, and even noble, by most men and women in the ancient world. Pythagoras asserts that you have been placed in this life by a higher power, and that it is your duty to fulfill the term of your life, even if it is fraught with difficulties, just as it is the duty of a soldier to stand his post regardless of his personal inclinations.

XXXVIII.

Cut not wood in the way.

Iamblichus believed this meant that we should not divide the truth for our convenience. Dacier suggests that it means we should not lower ourselves to functions that are beneath us. I am more inclined to think that it signifies we should not use up and destroy the provisions and blessings of life that will be needed by those who follow after us.

In ancient times roads were usually walked. The better roads were lined with trees to provide shelter from the sun and wind. It was a constant temptation of travelers to break off branches from those trees for their cooking fires, since they were conveniently close, but in doing so they deprived travelers who followed after them of shade, since such depravations eventually killed the trees.

Pythagoras is cautioning us not to let considerations of our own convenience destroy the blessings that would otherwise descend upon our children after we have passed on.

XXXIX.

Roast not that which is boiled.

According to Athenaeus it was the custom of the Athenians to sacrifice to the Seasons with boiled meat, because they were seeking moderate weather, and the flavor of boiled meat is softer and milder than roast meat.

Hence, to roast what is boiled is to make hard and sharp what is mild and soft. Do not respond to a gentle approach with harshness; do not repay charity with selfishness; do not express anger when receiving an apology. Rather, repay mildness with mildness.

Athenaeus put another interpretation on this precept. He believed it meant that when we have enough simple fare for our basic needs, we should not seek luxury and stimulation of the senses. This may well have been the common understanding in the time of Athenaeus, but I believe the better interpretation is that we should not respond with hardness when treated with softness, as I have indicated above.

XL.

Avoid the two-edged sword.

The two-edges sword is the symbol for slander. This is a caution not to have any dealings with slanderers, and also a prohibition against slander. You should not speak ill of others, lest others speak ill of you.

XLI.

Pick not up what is fallen from the table.

In ancient times, what fell from the dining table became the food for slaves and beggars. Food falling from the table was looked upon as a type of divine intervention, and having touched the floor, it became unclean and could not be replaced on the table, which was regarded as sacred.

The meaning is that you should be charitable toward those who are in need of help, and not seek to deprive them of what little blessing has fallen their way.

XLII.

Abstain even from a cypress chest.

Cypress wood was used for the best coffins because it tended to preserve the corpses laid in them. Pythagoras directs that you should not devote wealth and care on the bodies of the dead, because they have no part of the souls that have departed from them. They are vacated husks and should not be accorded more importance than this. A common theme of the lowness and unimportance of the flesh, particularly flesh that is dead, runs through several of the precepts.

XLIII.

Sacrifice an odd number to the celestial gods, and to the infernal an even.

Odd numbers represent concord and harmony because they cannot be divided into two equal parts that are composed of whole numbers; even numbers stand for division and discord because they can be equally divided into two parts. The celestial gods were considered harmonious, the infernal gods disordered. The overt or exoteric meaning is that when you make a sacrifice, you should sacrifice an odd number of things to the celestial deities but an even number of things to the infernal deities – for example, three white fowls to Athena but two black fowls to Hades.

Dacier had a very good insight about the esoteric significance of this precept. He believed that the inner meaning of Pythagoras was that when sacrificing to the infernal gods we should offer material sacrifices – that is, things that can be divided because they are physical. When sacrificing to the celestial gods, we should offer only spiritual sacrifices – that is, things that cannot be divided because they are not material in nature. I believe he is correct in his interpretation.

XLIV.

Offer not to the gods the wine of an unpruned vine.

Wine made from the grapes of a cultivated vine is more concentrated and better in flavor than wine from a wild vine, because the wild shoots of the vine, when left untrimmed, sap the goodness from the grapes

Commentators on the writings of Plutarch thought this percept meant that we should not offer bloody sacrifice to the gods. However, Plutarch himself believed it was the intention of Pythagoras to exalt agriculture as a holy activity, by saying that we should only offer fruits of the land that had been cultivated. In my view both of these interpretations are incorrect.

I believe the explanation is that offerings should not be made to the gods by those who are uncultured in spiritual discipline. Pythagoras is saying that the sacrifice of a person who has practiced austerities and has curbed his wild, animal passions is more pleasing to the gods than the sacrifice of a person still tormented by the urges and needs of the flesh. Indeed, he seems to go so far as to indicate that it is unfit for a man who is spiritual untutored to offer anything to the gods, that it is a kind of profanation.

XLV.

Never sacrifice without meal.

It was the custom of the ancient Greeks to sprinkle barley-meal, or barley mixed with salt, upon the heads of their sacrifices before they were killed. The obvious interpretation is that no sacrifice should be made to the gods without the use of barley to consecrate the victim.

In a more general sense, Pythagoras may have been saying that sacrifices to the gods should not be one-sided or unbalanced, that they should consist both of flesh and grain in order to render them more temperate.

Dacier speculates that it was the philosopher’s intention to covertly indicate that no bloody sacrifice should ever be made, but that meal cakes should be shaped into the images of sacrificial beasts and offered to the gods.

XLVI.

Adore the gods and sacrifice barefoot.

To go without shoes is a sign of humility. The shoe elevates the heel from the ground. An elevated heel has always been a symbol of divinity, which is why high-heeled shoes are so popular today – they exalt the wearer. In general terms Pythagoras advises that we should approach the gods in a spirit of humility, aware of our moral failings and shortcomings. In adoring the gods, we present an offering from the lower to the higher. Adoration cannot be done in a spirit of pride or arrogance.

XLVII.

Turn round when you worship.

Plutarch thought this precept was Pythagoras’ way of telling his followers that they should imitate the motion of the universe during worship, by rotating their bodies. Dacier believed that the meaning was that worshippers should adore the immensity of God by imitating the turning motion of the celestial spheres.

It seems to me that a more occult interpretation may be applied. Turning the body creates a vortex of esoteric energy that opens a channel between the divine and the mundane. The whirling dervishes rely upon this channel to send their prayers to heaven, by spinning their bodies in a spiral dance. In Western magic, circumambulation around the magic circle at the beginning of rituals serves much the same purpose.

Dacier observed that ancient temples always opened toward the east. Pythagoras may have been saying that we should not worship the idols of the gods, but should turn and worship the light of the sun shining in through the open doorways of the temples, that illuminates all of the natural world. Pythagoras would not intend this in a literal sense, that his followers turn their backs on the temple statues of the gods, but rather that they should turn their hearts to the larger universe when adoring before those statues, and should not mistake the statues of the gods for the gods themselves.

XLVIII.

Sit down when you worship.

Dacier remarked that in the time of Pythagoras, prayers were offered either standing or sitting. The practice of kneeling during prayer had not yet been invented.

His interpretation is that we should not rush through our devotions, but should only pray when we have the time to do it properly, with a tranquil mind. If the mind is impatient, constantly turning to other affairs, the prayer will not be effective, and will be an insult to the deity to which it is offered. There is merit in this view.

I might add that sitting emulates the posture of a king, who is always associated with the throne, the seat of power. The king was understood in ancient times to be the highest member of a society, the one nearest the gods who acted as their agent by passing on their decrees to lesser men and women. Pythagoras would not have intended that we merely adopt the physical posture of a king, but that we also strive to assume the dignity and honor of a king, so that we might be worthy of higher communication with the gods.

XLIX.

Pare not your nails during the sacrifice.

Hesiod made much the same comment when he wrote: “During the festival of the gods, cut not off with iron from the part that has five branches, the dry from the wet.” The five branches is the hand, the dry from the wet is the dead nail from the quick.

Iamblichus likened the nails of the hand to distant relatives of the family, and interpreted the saying to mean that a good householder should not fail to invite even the poorest and least respected member of the family to the feast that followed the sacrifice.

The simpler interpretation is that when we are engaged with holy things, we should not perform mundane duties. Our minds should remain turned to matters of the spirit.

L.

When it thunders, touch the ground.

Thunder was taken to be an outburst of displeasure from the gods. By touching the ground, we express humility, and turn away this divine wrath.

Even on the purely practical level, it is not a bad idea to touch the ground during thunder storms, since a person standing is more likely to be struck by lightning than a person crouching.

LI.

Regard not yourself in the looking-glass by the light of a torch.

We should assess our own worth in a true light, not use excuses and hypocrisy to attempt to paint over our defects, merely because this false image of our own nature is less painful to us.

LII.

One, two.

Dacier commented that by the Monad Pythagoras represented God, and by the Duad the natural universe. His interpretation was that we should know God first, and nature second. While this is an admirable sentiment, it is not possible – we gain an understanding of the divine only by acquiring experience with nature.

My own view of the meaning is that all things emanate from the Monad. It might equally well be expressed, “from the One, all duality.” I can almost see a Pythagorean pointing his finger to heaven as he utters the first word of this precept, then pointing to earth as he speaks the second.

LIII.

Honor the marks of dignity, the throne and the ternary.

According to Dacier, Iamblichus thought Pythagoras meant to imply that the Italic sect of philosophers should be preferred over the Ionic, on the grounds that the Italic sect was wholly incorporeal whereas the Ionic sect was confined to the body.

Several Christian interpreters believed that by the ternary Pythagoras intended the Holy Trinity. Dacier pointed out that the Holy Trinity was unknown in the time of the sage.

His own view was that the “marks of dignity” represent the officials of the state, the “throne” the ruler of the state, and the “ternary” the three hierarchies of the gods, angels and heroes.

Dacier was probably near the correct view of this precept. However, “marks of dignity” may stand for the symbols of the state rather than state officials.

Another explanation occurs to me. This may be a reference to the various parts of the tetractys, a symbol venerated by Pythagoreans above all others. Perhaps the “marks of dignity” are the ten dots that make up this figure, the “throne” is the bottom row of four dots that constitutes its base, and the “ternary” is a reference to its triangular shape.

Of course, all these parts of the tetractys have their own symbolic meanings. The ten dots are the numbers from one to ten that Pythagoreans believed to give substance to the entire universe; the four dots at the base may have signified the realm of earth and physical matter; the three sides of the triangle may have stood for the perfection of heaven.

LIV.

When the winds blow, adore Echo.

Echo was a nymph punished by Hera for helping Zeus commit infidelities. She was condemned not to speak, but to inhabit the wild places and only to repeat the words of others.

The meaning suggested by Iamblichus was that we should honor and love the resemblance or image of the divine essences and powers. This seems unsatisfactory.

Dacier put forth a very clever interpretation after that of Lilius Geraldus, saying that the winds signify wars and seditions, and Echo stands for uninhabited rural places. The meaning would be that when warfare or civil unrest threaten the state, the followers of Pythagoras should return to the countryside and wait it out.

LV.

Eat not in the chariot.

This is taken to mean that we should not be concerned with our bellies when more important matters of the spirit call for attention. It is a caution to remain vigilant.

Within us a war is constantly being fought between the urge to satisfy our physical desires, and the necessity to deny them that we may attain to higher purposes. The charioteer is the will that guides, the chariot is the body, and the horses are the passions that urge the body along. It is the task of the will to rein in the passions in order that the body be conducted through life in the most fitting manner. If the horses are allowed to run free, disaster is inevitable.

LVI.

Put on your right shoe first, and wash your left foot first.

The right side of the body is active, the left side passive. Putting on the shoes represents industry and action; washing the feet stands for luxury and ease. My interpretation of this precept is that we should do everything in its proper season – we should be energetic and endure hardship where endurance is required, but we should take care of our needs when we have the opportunity to do so. It is folly to continue to deny ourselves the necessities of our comfort when there is nothing to be gained by such denial.

LVII.

Eat not the brain.

A theme similar to that above is continued here. We should not consume our mind with an excess of study and deep thought, without from time to time refreshing it with rest.

LVIII.

Plant not the palm tree.

Dacier remarked out of Plutarch that the palm tree becomes useless when it has been transplanted, and gives only a wild kind of fruit that is unfit to eat. Perhaps this precept might better read “transplant not the palm.”

The meaning is that we should not engage in unprofitable works based on an airy fantasy of gain, but should focus our efforts on those tasks that are really necessary and sure to yield good results.

LIX.

Make the libations to the gods by the ear.

A libation by the ear is music. The meaning is that the gods should be honored not only with sacrifices and prayers, but with songs of praise. Pythagoras was the first in the ancient world to recognize the therapeutic value of music, and also its value in evoking a reverent frame of mind in those who listened to it.

LX.

Never eat the cuttlefish.

The cuttlefish is a squid-like creature. It is the habit of the cuttlefish when threatened with danger to excrete a black ink that obscures the waters all around it, by which it makes its escape.

To “eat the cuttlefish” is to accept its habits. Hence, we are warned not to have anything to do with false persons, because they will only lie and abandon us in times of difficulty, and will say or do anything to save themselves.

LXI.

Stop not at the threshold.

Do not go through life always hesitating, or wavering back and forth, but choose your path and boldly follow it. No good ever comes from delaying a task we know must be done. A doorway is not a place for standing, but for passing through.

LXII.

Give way to a flock that goes by.

A more modern expression that means much the same thing is “go with the flow.” It is unproductive to oppose popular opinion when it is at its height. You will merely exhaust your energies and achieve nothing. A better course is to bide your time until opinion begins to change, and then add the force of your argument to the opposite swing of the pendulum.

LXIII.

Avoid the weasel.

Dacier states that anciently it was believed weasels gave birth to their young through the mouth. For this reason the weasel became the symbol for speech, which is born from the mouth. This false belief about the weasel came into being because this animal was often seen carrying its young from place to place in its mouth.

The weasel is also proverbial for its treacherousness and viciousness. The precept warns against having any dealings with those who speak falsely and are not to be trusted.

LXIV.

Refuse the weapons a woman offers you.

Women were considered unsuited to ancient warfare because of the relative weakness of their bodies. When they employed weapons in myth or folklore, it was usually in a vengeful or vindictive manner against those who were caught unawares and unable to defend themselves. Hence, the weapons offered by a woman signify weapons of revenge or treachery, which we should decline to accept. In a more general sense, we should always decline to enter into treacherous or vengeful dealings.

LXV.

Kill not the serpent that chances to fall within your walls.

The serpent signifies a foe. A serpent within your walls is a foe who has fallen under your power. You should always deal mercifully with your enemies when you have them in your power, particularly if they are dependent upon you for the necessities of life.

LXVI.

It is a crime to throw stones into the fountains.

Those who are a source of benefit to others should not be abused. A fountain of clear water refreshes the entire community. It should never be stirred up or blocked. By the same token, good men and women should never be mocked or frustrated.

LXVII.

Feed not yourself with your left hand.

The left is the sinister side of the body, which is to say, the side associated with evil doings. This precept teaches us that we should always earn our daily bread honestly; more than this, that it is better we starve than obtain food in a dishonest manner.

LXVIII.

It is a horrible crime to wipe off the sweat with iron.

Do not take by force or the threat of violence what another has earned with his labors.

Iron is the metal of Mars, the god of warfare and strife. Sweat often represents bread, because in past times agriculture required hard physical work. To “wipe off the sweat with iron” is to steal bread at the edge of a blade.

LXIX.

Stick not iron into the footprints of a man.

Despite Dacier’s strenuous assertions that this precept has no connection with the magical practice of pressing iron nails into the footprints of a man or horse to cause them to become lame, it seems to me that the literal interpretation must be understood as a prohibition against this specific type of black magic.

However, the precept also has a broader and more abstract interpretation which is equally valid. A footprint is the trace of one who has passed on, and in this sense represents the dead. To thrust iron into the footprint of a human being is symbolically to kill his reputation, which remains vulnerable to injury even after death.

LXX.

Sleep not upon a grave.

Again, a folk superstition becomes the instrument for conveying a moral message. We do not sleep upon graves because we do not wish to contract death by some magical contagion. But more broadly, this is a prohibition against living in ease and sloth upon the earnings of our departed parents and relations, who have provided for us an inheritance.

LXXI.

Lay not the whole faggot on the fire.

If a campfire is built using only the projecting ends of sticks, it will burn more slowly than one in which the sticks are stacked one on top of another. As the ends of the sticks burn down, they can be progressively shoved further into the fire.

The meaning is that we should conserve our resources, and not squander them all in a brief span of time to make a bright display of wealth.

LXXII.

Leap not from the chariot with your feet close together.

If you do so while the chariot is still moving, you will quite probably fall over. Instead, you should prepare yourself for your landing by bending your knees and spreading your feet to make a stable support.

This precept conveys the necessity of preparing ourselves before we leap into any new situation. We must look before we leap, and more than this, must use the knowledge we gain from that preview to make ourselves ready for the change we are about to make in our lives.

LXXIII.

Threaten not the stars.

I understand this precept as a caution against arrogance and vanity. We should not presume to make threats or demands of those greater than ourselves, who have done nothing to injure us, or we risk having them turn their displeasure upon us with terrible consequences. Specifically, we should not seek to intimidate those who have been set over us in a lawful capacity to regulate aspects of our lives.

For the ancients, the stars were the regulators of life on the earth. Everything proceeded according to the angles of their rays, and nothing happened without their concord. To threaten the stars is to threaten the gods who control our fate. It is the worst sort of hubris. At best, it is to be no better than a small dog yapping at the heels of a horse – at worst, it may provoke an impatient kick.

LXXIV.

Place not the candle against the wall.

A wall in impenetrable to light. In order to illuminate a room most effectively, a light source should be placed in the center, so that its radiance can expand equally on all sides. Lighting is less efficient when sources of illumination are set in corners or against flat surfaces.

Symbolically, a candle flame represents enlightenment, knowledge. A wall represents thickness, stupidity.

The meaning is that we should not seek to instruct those who obstinately refuse to learn. We should not waste the light of our knowledge on persons unfit to make optimum use of it, but should devote our resources to teaching those who can best benefit from the instruction.

LXXV.

Write not in the snow.

Snow quickly melts, and whatever may have been inscribed on its surface soon passes away. We should not seek to impress our teachings on shallow, flighty minds incapable of retaining it, since it will quickly be forgotten.

In a more general sense, do not devote your labors to impermanent things. Concentrate the limited energies available during your lifetime upon matters that will endure.

 

Source: http://www.donaldtyson.com/precepts.html

Handling Anger : Applying Antidotes

August 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

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Below is a summary of various approaches to anger. They obviously will be most efficient when used with a calm and concentrated mind, either during meditation or at the moment you realize that something needs to be done about your anger. Obviously, the problem during an actual difficult situation is to have a calm and concentrated mind – a regular meditation practice can be of great help then! One of the best ways to really make progress with understanding and changing the functioning of our own mind is to try out analytical meditation, combined with these clues, see also Meditation on Anger.

ANTIDOTE 1 – Patience.
Patience is the main antidote to anger. As common wisdom says: just count to 100… During this time, any of the below methods can be effective. The most effective method will depend on the actual situation. Especially in our age of rush and intense change, patience may not be seen as a positive quality, but take a minute to think impatience can easily give rise to a general feeling of anger.

ANTIDOTE 2 – Realisation of the Noble Truth of Suffering.
Once one understands that problems and frustration is a basic fact of life, it can reduce our impatience with our own unrealistic expectations. In other words: nothing is perfect, so don’t expect it. If I believe that things should be perfect, it is almost unavoidable to feel disappointed and hurt.

ANTIDOTE 3 – Understanding Karma.
As explained in the page on Karma, the real reasons for our problems are our own actions, which are in turn caused by our own negative states of mind. If someone makes us angry, it can have a sobering effect if we dare to think that the real reasons for this situation are our own past actions, and the person is just a circumstance for our own karma to ripen.

ANTIDOTE 4 – Changing or Accepting.
Basically, we can find ourselves in two types of unpleasant situations: ones we can change and ones we cannot change.
– If I can change the situation, I should do something about it instead of getting all worked-up and angry. Not acting in such a situation will cause frustration in the end.
– If I cannot change the situation, I will have to accept it. If I don’t, it will only lead to frustration and a negative and unpleasant state of mind, which will make the situation only worse.
For some reasons unclear to me, Westerners (including myself) appear to have big problems with accepting unpleasant situations which we cannot change. Could this be a result of impatience (a form of anger) with imperfection (an unrealistic expectation)?
Do consider the wisdom in the following remarks (from an online discussion – forgot the writer.):

“How does this effect my Buddhist practice?
It doesn’t.
These reported events are like an arrow shot at my heart but it lands at my feet.
I choose not to bend over, pick it up, and stab myself with it.”

ANTIDOTE 5 – Realistic Analysis.
For example: someone accuses me of something.
– If it is true, I apparently made a mistake, so I should listen and learn.
– If it is untrue, the other person makes a mistake. So what? Nobody is perfect. I also make mistakes, and it is all too easy to label the other as “enemy”, in which case a helpful discussion or forgiving becomes difficult.
It may also be worthwhile searching for the real underlying reason of the problem. Of special importance is to evaluate one’s own role in the situation: my own fears, insecurity, being very unfriendly, or not being blameless (like leaving home much too late for an appointment and blaming the 5 minutes delay of the train).

ANTIDOTE – Realisation of Emptiness.
See the page on Wisdom. To summarise it briefly, if one deeply realises the emptiness of inherent existence or interdependence of the other person, the situation and oneself, there is nothing to be angry about. The realisation of emptiness is therefore the ultimate means of ridding oneself of unrealistic negative emotions like anger.

ANTIDOTE 7 – Equanimity.
Equanimity means that one realises the basic equality of all sentient beings; others want happiness, just like I do. Others make mistakes just like I do. Others are confused, angry, attached just like I often am. Is the other person happy in this situation, or just struggling like I am?

ANTIDOTE 8 – Openness
Be prepared to be open for the motivation of others to do what causes you problems. Talking it over and being prepared to listen can suddenly make a problem acceptable.
Did you ever notice the difference when a plane or train has much delay and nobody gives any reasons for it? People very quickly become irritated and hostile. Then when the driver or pilot explains there is a technical defect or an accident, suddenly waiting becomes easier.

ANTIDOTE 9 – Relativity.
Ask yourself if this situation is actually important enough to spoil your own and other people’s mood. Is this problem worth getting upset in a life where death can hit me at any moment?

ANTIDOTE 10 – Change Your Motivation.
In case a situation is really unacceptable, and another person needs to convinced that something is to be done or changed, there is no need to become upset and angry. It is likely much more efficient if you show of understanding and try to make the other understand the need for change. If one needs to appear angry for some reason to convince the other person of the seriousness of the situation, one can think like a parent acting wrathful to prevent the child from harming itself.
In general, to be really effective one needs to reflect on quite a number of aspects in one’s own mind like; forgiveness, peace of mind, fears, self-acceptance (no acceptance of others is really possible without self-acceptance), habits, prejudices etc. A list of aspects to start with is given in the page about the mind, under the 26 non-virtuous mental factors.

ANTIDOTE 11 – Watch Your Hands.
An interesting suggestion from Jon Kabat-Zinn, from ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’:

“All our hand postures are mudras in that they are associated with subtle or not-so-subtle energies. Take the energy of the fist, for instance. When we get angry, our hands tend to close into fists. Some people unknowingly practice this mudra a lot in their lives. It waters the seeds of anger and violence within you ever time you do it, and they respond by sprouting and growing stronger.
The next time you find yourself making fists out of anger, try to bring mindfulness to the inner attitude embodied in a fist. Feel the tension, the hatred, the anger, the aggression, and the fear which it contains. Then, in the midst of your anger, as an experiment, if the person you are angry at is present, try opening your fists and placing the palms together over your heart in the prayer position right in front of him. (Of course, he won’t have the slightest idea what you are doing.) Notice what happens to the anger and hurt as you hold this position for even a few moments.”

ANTIDOTE 12 – Meditation.
Last, but certainly not least, meditation can be the ultimate cure to completely eliminating anger from your mind. In the beginning, one can do analytical meditations (like this meditation on anger), but also meditation on compassion, love and forgiving reduce anger as well. Ultimately, the realization of emptiness eradicates all delusions like anger.

Buddhist teaching from http://viewonbuddhism.org/anger.html

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