Compassion – The Ecstasy of the Human Being

“Deep, deep down in the neutral stage of equilibrium consciousness, I am touching now a very, very fine subject, come along with me… Deep, deep, deep down in the center of the equilibrium of the human projected elevated consciousness, which is the central psyche of even the atom of the atom of the atom of the atom of the atom (let me go on talking as much as I can) there in that depth, there is a one little ray of light out of which grew the whole totality in existence.  In that far out consciousness man knows that his feelings are to be experienced on planet earth through the projected structural life which is on the soul. That is why Jesus said, “Judge not anyone, judge yourself.” – Yogi Bhajan, 10/11/73

Work on your own issues of disharmony and put yourself in balance. Learn how to love yourself before you start falling head over heels in love with someone else. Clean shop before you start telling others how to clean up theirs. It’s easier to point the finger at someone else’s “imperfections” instead of looking at your own. Only through your own inner work and self-examination, through your own patience and tolerance with your self will you be able to be patient and tolerant with others. And most important, forgive yourself so you will be able to forgive others.

I saw two things on the internet today that I am thinking of now as I write this.  First, a teacher who challenged us to dismiss the labels “high functioning” and “low functioning” and to consider that each and every one of us moves through time and space at our own pace. Instead of classifying someone as being slower or faster, in particular slower or faster than what society deems normal,  understand that everybody has their own rhythm and style. You can get into someone else’s rhythm IF you are hooked into your own. Having compassion doesn’t mean that you feel sorry for someone or that you are in a better place than them. Compassion is a positive thought, like love, that produces “hope, courage, determination, and inner strength. In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are seen as two aspects of the same thing: Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness.”- Dalai Lama XIV

Second, an article that suggested that taking acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, reduces your sensitivity to other people’s pain, both physical and psychological. The title of the article was Taking Acetaminophen Might Reduce Your Empathy Hmmmm.  I suppose that by turning off feeling your own pain, you are turning off your empathetic response. It’s a known fact: people abuse drugs, food and alcohol to eliminate or hide emotional and physical pain. Which causes more problems on top of the problems you were trying to get rid of. So, if we follow the logic of this newsletter, then turning off our feelings..whether you use tylenol or not, turns off our feelings towards others. All the more reason to experience our feelings and process them…which is where Kundalini Yoga and Meditation come in.

The great thing about Kundalini Yoga is that it gives you the strength to handle whatever feelings your heightened awareness brings you… and it nurtures compassion.

“Man in his nature to know and not to know wants to do sometime what he wants to do, but this heart center, the fourth center of consciousness is the center of totality. From this center come the mother; it is the bosom of the mother from where comes the milk. It is the human being. It is the love of the male throughout his life, whether he is a one day child or he is a eighty day child. It is that center if this get blocks, man does not know dimension.” -Yogi Bhajan

Dimension you could think of as perspective. Or the experience of other realms outside yourself. Dimension gives life its flavor. Not knowing dimension is living a flat life; a life without feeling. Like being in a skyscraper and only having access to a handful of stories in the middle.

“I always say between this and this is the border line.  This is very important, the prana cleans the blood, oxygenates the blood, heartbeats, all happens in this ribcage.  It is the center of compassion.  If one can produce God on this earth, it is only through compassion.  If one can perform miracles,  it is all the power of compassion.  If one can sacrifice, it is all through compassion. If one can be truthful it is also compassion; if one can be selfless. All good facets of the being are through compassion …and that is the heart center.”

 

If compassion is so beautiful, essential and powerful that it can produce God here on this earth;  why is everyone so blocked? Why is everyone so afraid of opening up to feeling stuff…except for anger and hatred? It seems that the good feelings are harder to handle than the bad feelings. It’s easier to complain than to hold your tongue. Why is it so difficult to forgive ourselves? The heart center is where is all happens; where heaven and earth come into divine balance yet we cut ourselves off from feeling the elevated connected cosmic consciousness that we share with all forms of life. In the wake of so much violence so very recently, it makes me very sad to think that we could all be becoming less human, less compassionate, and less forgiving.

“It is the beauty, it is the dignity, it is the ecstasy of the human being… Do you think all the people we hang are guilty, all the people we kill are rotten? All are who are enemies they have no feelings? They are not humans? They don’t have needs? Life is equally precious to a man as well as to an animal and actually the living projection of the soul is the living life which in the subconscious man knows this is the most beautiful gift the Creator could ever give to the self, whether it is animal or it is a plant… anything.” 

It’s time to focus on the ecstasy of the human experience and it starts with you. With all of us. Yogi Bhajan said that you have to see at what center of consciousness you are projecting and if you can bring your all action through the heart center,  you’ll know what you need to do.  All action that is judged through the heart center (aka the fourth center of consciousness) will result in forgiveness. He said it was different than the sixth center of consciousness which teaches humility, suffering, and sacrifice; sacrifice being different than forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is total forgiveness and it is the highest act of performance of a human intelligence, it is highest act of performance of human existence, it is highest act of self-realization, it is highest act of paying attribute to Creator, you have not been created to forgive, you are a creature to act and react. Don’t misunderstand. Your construction is that way, you act and react, learn it and feel it, and understand yourself, otherwise you always commit mistakes. You are act and react, you are a karma, you are a sequence and consequences, you are an action and reaction – complete and absolute. There is nothing you can get out of it, but there is a levitated form of you, there is a higher form of you, there is a deluxe form of you, there is a special self of you, and that is forgiving self of the being.”

Sat Nam

Raghubir

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Independence Day and Creative Happiness

Saturday is Independence Day and what is independence anyway and why are we all so afraid to lose it?  Why are we always trying to break the rules, break the law of life in our efforts to become more “free” or more of an individual? Does NOT following the law of life bring us more happiness and freedom? It’s obedience and fearlessness that brings freedom.

HOW MANY OF YOU THINK THAT BEING OBEDIENT MEANS LOSING YOUR INDEPENDENCE????
HOW MANY OF YOU THINK THAT BEING OBEDIENT MEANS LOSING YOUR INDEPENDENCE????

“Real king of king is that who conquers his heart and conquer hearts, not heads. That’s the difference. Earth, wealth, earth, wealth and power is earth, is head. Heart is consciousness, love and kindness. You have to make a choice what you want to obey. You want to obey your passion or you want to obey compassion? And if you obey law of compassion you shall, first commandment of that is, you, thou shall not react. Thou shall not react, thou shall not harm, thou shall only serve, thou shall be good and thou shall only give goodness from your heart. Thou shall be kind, thou shall share, thou shall always be in service, thou shall always be humble and thou shall always be graceful. Five and five ten. This you have to write on your heart and you have to obey and you have to be and that is the obedience which will bring you perfect happiness.”  – Yogi Bhajan, 5/21/85

We all behave like high school teenagers. In the art classes that I teach at LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts), I always find at the beginning of the first semester, that the students go out of their way to ignore directions. They always look for ways to NOT follow the assignment, to be different, defiant, to be “more creative”, to break the rules. They think that they are being more artistic, more individualistic, and more unique.  They are not being “cool” and they are certainly not being creative.  They are just being rebellious.  I always tell them, “the sign of true creativity is to follow the rules yet make it look like you broke them”.  Being creative, prosperous, happy and loving is not achieved by living from the head.  It’s by living from the heart. When you can wrap your heart around an assignment, you can not only make it original and unique, you can OWN it. That is what creative happiness is all about.

“Creative happiness is the law of life and creative happiness comes from very fact of character. Character is commitment and obedience of values. Where you characterize yourself. Your commitment – you obey, you do not, you cannot deny commitment.

People think obeying means getting brainwashed, obeying means losing your independence, obeying means, obeying means so many things. To you obeying is a very dreadful thing. No it is not, obey law, is it dreadful? obey the doctor prescription, is it dreadful? obey the law of health, is it dreadful? On Tuesday do not park the car and let the street get cleaned, it is dreadful? ” – Yogi Bhajan, 5/21/85

NEW PLACE OUTER SPACE HAPPY FACE

When Life Gives you Kumquats…Make Marmalade

A Kumquat tree in front of your house is a fine thing indeed. Beautiful tree, exquisite smell when its flowering, and a festive display of orange oval orbs when its fruiting.  But what can you do with a little kumquat besides picking one off the tree and popping it in your mouth? How can you celebrate the abundant good nature of a kumquat tree when the winter is on its way out in Southern California? You make marmalade.

kumquats

I’m not going to present anything original here because there are others who have done it before me and have done it well.

If you are looking for something traditional, tried and true…

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 8.06.50 AM

David Lebovitz’s Kumquat Marmalade
About three 1-cup (250ml) jars

Many of the little rings of kumquats will, unfortunately, come apart as you cook the marmalade. The reward, however, is gorgeous jars of tangy marmalade that you’ll be happy to spread on your morning toast or serve with a bit of cheese after dinner. I served mine with Comté, but a nice goat cheese or another nutty mountain cheese, like Gruyère, would pair nicely with it.

It takes a bit of patience to slice and pluck out all the seeds from the kumquats, but you can get 2 to 3 jars of marmalade for your efforts. I use a small serrated knife to slice off the stem end, then start slicing the kumquats crosswise, until I get close to the center. Finally, I stick the tip of the knife into the area where the seeds are and slip them into a small bowl. Because the seeds are rather large, any that you miss you can usually find just by doing a little scanning of your pile of sliced kumquats.

I use oval Nagami kumquats, which are more puckery than the round Meiwi kumquats, which you sometimes come across. Do try to get organic or unsprayed fruit from your local market or natural food store. The kirsch is optional, but it does nicely round out the flavor of the marmalade. You can substitute another liquor, such as gin, Grand Marnier or Cointreau, light rum, or a dash of brandy. Or it can be omitted, if you wish.

  • 2 lemons, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (450g) kumquats, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • (Reserve the seeds from the lemon and kumquats)
  • 5 1/2 cups (1,3l) water
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon kirsch or other liquor

1. Put the lemon slices in a large non-reactive pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lemons are translucent, about 5 minutes. Drain. (Discard the water.)

2. Put the blanched lemons back in the pot. Tie the seeds from the lemons and kumquats securely in a piece of cheesecloth or étamine, and add the seed sack to the pot along with the sliced kumquats and water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let stand 24 hours.

3. The next day, put a small plate in the freezer. (Optional: If you have a candy thermometer, you can clip it to the side of the pot.)

4. Add the sugar and salt to the pot, and cook the marmalade for 30 to 45 minutes over medium heat. Remove the bag of seeds and when it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze the seeds in the cheesecloth using your hands or place it in a ladle and press it with the back of a soup spoon (being careful not to break the fabric and release the seeds) over the jam pot to so the pectin goes directly into the marmalade mixture.

5. Continue cooking until it has reached the jelling point, about 220ºF (104ºC) degrees, if using a candy thermometer. To test the marmalade, turn off the heat and put a small amount on the plate that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a few minutes; it should be slightly jelled and will wrinkle a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it wrinkles slightly on the chilled plate when you nudge it.

6. Remove from heat, then stir in the kirsch (if using), and ladle the mixture into clean jars.

Note: I store my jams and marmalades in a cool place, often the refrigerator if not planning to use them within a few weeks. if you wish to can or preserve them, you can check out these canning tips.

and if you are looking for something with a little kick….

try Kumquat Habanero Marmalade by Kaela from Local Kitchen

kumquat-habanero-marm

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb kumquats
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 medium habanero pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 3 ½ cups sugar (regular white cane sugar)

METHODS

  1. Day 1. Slice kumquats cross-wise into rings, popping out and reserving seeds as you go. Place seeds in a tea ball or cheesecloth bundle. Add kumquats, water, seeds, and minced habanero to a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Remove and discard seeds. Return fruit mixture to the preserving pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a boil and continue to boil over high heat, stirring only as necessary to prevent sticking, until marmalade reaches the set point, about 15 – 20 minutes. I used the frozen plate test and stopped cooking at 218 degrees F.
  4. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars to ¼-inch head space. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Once jars are out of the water bath and have cooled for approximately 30 minutes (still very warm to the touch) turn upside down and shake gently to distribute kumquat peel evenly through the jelly. Return jars to upright position and allow to cool undisturbed overnight.

Yields about 5 cups.

kumquat-habanero-marmOPTIONS

  1. Batch #1 was made as above; for Batch #2, I used three tiny (about equivalent to two medium) red habaneros, and increased the sugar to 4 cups. This resulted in a quite spicy marmalade, more of a hot pepper jelly with a kumquat under note.
  2. Disturbing the processed jars after they come out of the canner can sometimes inhibit or interfere with set: in this case, I wanted kumquat peel to be evenly distributed throughout the preserve, and in neither batch did the shaking seem to have an impact on the final set.
  3. Red habaneros can be harder to find than their orange cousins, so of course you can use orange: I just liked the color contrast of the red. The original recipe stipulates a halved habanero that is removed prior to cooking; for a milder preserve, go that route.

STORE- Canned, store in a cool dark spot for up to 1 year.

And if you don’t have tons of kumquats to work with, try this small batch recipe from Urban Preserving….

a pound of kumquats

Kumquats aren’t like other citrus fruit. Instead of having a tart rind and a sweet interior, they keep their sugar in the skin and have their pucker on the inside. It took me years to realize that the best way to eat them is to pop them into your mouth whole and take a big bite. That way, you blend the flavors into a single, delicious marriage.

If eating whole kumquats isn’t your thing, don’t think that there isn’t a place for them in your life. They just happen to make a luscious, if slightly energy-intensive, marmalade. Because they demand a lot in the chopping department, I find that it’s best to keep your kumquat marm batches tidy and contained. That makes them downright perfect for my every-so-often Urban Preserving category.

Take one pound of kumquats and wash them. Pick them over well to make sure that you don’t have any that are turning to mush (I bought mine at an Asian grocery story, tied up in a mesh bag, and the ones in the center were liquifying). Cut off the stem end and slice the kumquat into quarters.

kumquat ribbonsWhen all the kumquats are quartered, use a sharp paring knife to cut away the inner membrane and any seeds (reserve these! They will provide our pectin). This leaves you with a small piece of rind with some pulp still attached. Then lay these stripped quarters rind side up and chop them into ribbons (I warned you that it was energy-intensive).

finished marm

When all the chopping is done, you should have about two cups of chopped kumquat bits, and a scant cup of reserved seeds and membrane. Place the seeds and membrane in the center of a square of cheesecloth and tie it up well so that nothing can escape.pectin bag

Place the chopped kumquat in a large pot with 2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used plain white sugar, but you could easily use unrefined cane sugar. Just know that your finished product will be a bit darker). Pop the bundle of seeds and membranes in there too.

Bring to a boil and cook for 15-25 minutes, until it reaches 220°F. The wider your pot, the faster it will cook (I used a 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset, and my cooking time was right around 20 minutes). Once it has reached temperature and seems quite thick, remove marmalade from heat. Funnel into two prepared half pint jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a small batch canning pot for 10 minutes.

two half pints of kumquat marmaladeI personally love to cook marmalade in small batches. If you are a creative sort, it gives you the opportunity to try out different things without making “too much” of a commitment.  When a recipe yields about a pint, you get to keep one and share the other! I have included links to the original recipe on line so you can visit their blogs and find more fun stuff to make.

Sat Nam,

Raghubir

NEPALESE EYE CANDY #2

Twilight Stroll in Outpost

Even the mundane looks sublime at Twilight. After a neighborhood party, here’s what I encountered walking to my car.  I am sure people pass some of these things everyday and never stop to look. I’m not saying these images are masterpieces, but they made me stop to consider how much we take for granted. Someone had to design or make these things;  someone had to make the choice to place the illuminated cross on the hill.

At Twilight, the garden lighting, the moon, the street lamps, and the cross on the hill all take on a special power. And I think that power is the power to make things exceptionally beautiful.

Gurdwara Musings with Baba Siri Chand

One of Guru Nanak’s two sons was named Siri Chand and old stories indicate that Guru Nanak knew that Siri Chand had a destiny to become a great yogi. What follows is Yogi Bhajan explaining how Guru Nanak directed his son to work with the yogis to help shift their consciousness. Up until that point, the yogis went up into the mountains and meditated; running away from life’s responsibilities and not dealing with what is going on in the “real world”. Guru Nanak changed all that by teaching how to have the experience of enlightenment in day-to-day existence. Guru Nanak, however bestowed the Guruship of the Udhaasee on his son Siri Chand; The Udhaasee Panth being the “original” religion Guru Nanak started.  One of his devoted disciples, Lehna became Guru Angad,  the second Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak’s successor. The renunciate and spiritual aesthetic Baba Siri Chand maintained leadership of the Udasi sect and enjoyed close and influential relationships with the five succeeding Sikh Gurus and their families during his exceptionally long life.

“One hundred-years is a total karma, if you have to live. The only body which surpassed that age group was Baba Siri Chand, and that was for a special reason. What happened? Why did Baba Siri Chand live 150, 152 years and then his body aloped? Elope means to run away. But alope is also a Punjabi word and means to totally get disintegrated into the tattvas.

At the time of Baba Siri Chand, there were Riddhee Siddhee Yogis (yogis with occult powers) who would scare the householders to death. They would come and do weird things to the householders, the villagers and the common folks. So Guru Nanak assigned the job to Baba Siri Chand, his son, to see that all yogis were straightened out before he, Baba Siri Chand, left the planet Earth. Baba Siri Chand had to live for 150 plus years to do that stuff. 

The first religion that Guru Nanak started was the Udhaasee Panth. Then Guru Nanak made Baba Siri Chand the head of the Udhaasee Panth in his lifetime. People who followed Guru Nanak up to the time of Guru Gobind Singh were all called by the name of Nanak Panthee, those who followed Nanak’s path.” 

– Yogi Bhajan, 7/24/78

Sat Nam