On Thurs 7 Aug 08 @9PM I had a deeply moving and spiritual experience when I lit candles and deeyas for Tibet. This was in unison with everyone in my time zone and done globally. I'd like to explore this and share my experiences with you and hear yours as we participate in universal collective prayer events together. I hope to work together with all the universe's beings as we move toward the ideal of Universal Collective Prayer.

Come join me in Universal Collective Prayer!

May God Bless Us All!

UCP-Universal Collective Prayer is produced by Meady's Musings Production . Copyright 2006-2011

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The God Series:Episode 1-Formless

Today as I launch the God series I approach you my readers in the same free flowing formless manner in which I perceive God! I don't know where I want this to go and I don't know what shape or form it will take or evolve or unfold into! ‘Neti neti!’- The famous Vedic Sanskrit two liner that announces ‘I am not this! I am not that!’ comes to mind and my estimation of it seems to suggest if ‘I am not this’ and ‘I am not that’ then perhaps I'm either nothing or everything!

So I launch the God series today with the discussion that God can be perceived as formless. Of the major modern religions I think Islam focuses on this formlessness the most! So much so that there is strictly no use of imagery or iconography what so ever when discussing God or Allah in Islam. However most Eastern religious traditions although on the surface may appear to be shrouded in iconographies also at their core embrace this formless concept or perception of God. My understanding is though that for instance in Hinduism it is believed that not everyone can perceive God as formless as their minds are not able grasp this and so they need more concrete things and manifestations to be able to grasp the infinite. Hence the Bhaktivedantic approaches where for instance God is perceived in the form of Krishna. Here the devotee is asked to focus on God in a particular form to start with but even then the devotee is eventually shown and expected to see when he is ready that God transcends this form.

However, like with most things in life, balance is the key and one can always argue that when is too much too much? Can a devotee on this path never end up seeing the forest from the trees and get lost forever in the world of iconography and fixation on a particular form! Hardly likely though at least in Hinduism since even then the devotee is usually exposed to a myriad of forms and so that alone should give a signal to him that God is not one particular form or shape. And then too in Hinduism the devotee has an eternity of infinite lifetimes to figure it out so what’s the hurry already? LOL!

Yet it can be said perhaps when one becomes a true bhakt they may tend to fixate on the one form and maybe…however the flip side to the discussion is…well is there a risk when we just go with the ‘cold turkey’ approach and see God as formless straight up like in Islam well do we then run the risk of never quite being able to connect with God in that manner as if we had transitioned from form to formless? That will always be an ongoing debate. I don’t see one as better over the other to me it is more for one to choose the path this is best suited for him or her. Or like in my case take a bit from each one and make your own mix!

But now on with the discussion about the perception of God as formless! As I told you I take a bit from this a bit from that and create my own mix. So I consider myself a Shiv Bhakt but in this case I see him clearly as explaining the concept ‘neti neti’ because when you describe the attributes of Shiv you see clearly that he is neither this…neither that…he is everything! So God is formless because he is everything?!

Now on with the dance that is UCP because who says I’m going to launch some academic discussion here without the song and dance after all then it just wouldn’t be this thing or dance I call UCP would it?! So here now in the words of one of my favourite Shiv things – the Rudra Ashtakam if you focus closely on the lyrics you will learn that he is everything!

The God series will continue on Friday when we will discuss the perception of God as the Divine Mother!

Lyrics to Rudrashtakam (Shiva Stuti) :
1-Namaa miisha mishaana-nirvaana rupam
vibhum vyaapakam brahma-veda-svaroopam
nijam nirgunam nirvikalpam niriham
chidaakaasha maakaasha-vaasam bhaje ham

I bow to the Ruler of the Universe, whose very form is Liberation,
the omnipotent and all pervading Brahma, manifest as the Vedas.
I worship Shiva, shining in his own glory, without physical qualities,
Undifferentiated, desireless, all pervading sky of consciousness
and wearing the sky itself as His garment.

niraakaara monkaara-moolam turiiyam
giraa gnaana gotiita miisham giriisham
karaalam mahaa-kaala-kaalam krpaalam
gunaagaara samsara paaram nato ham

I bow to the supreme Lord who is the formless source of “OM”
The Self of All, transcending all conditions and states,
Beyond speech, understanding and sense perception,
Awe-full, but gracious, the ruler of Kailash,
Devourer of Death, the immortal abode of all virtues.

tushaa raadri-sankaasha-gauram gabhiram
manobhuta-koti prabha sri sariram
sphuran mauli-kallolini-charu-ganga
lasad-bhaala-balendu kanthe bhujangaa

I worship Shankara, whose form is white as the Himalyan snow,
Radiant with the beauty of countless Cupids,
Whose head sparkles with the Ganga
With crescent moon adorning his brow and snakes coiling his neck,

chalatkundalam bhru sunetram visalam
prasannaa-nanam nila-kantham dayaalam
mrgadhisa charmaambaram mundamaalam
priyam sankaram sarvanaatham bhajaami

The beloved Lord of All,
with shimmering pendants hanging from his ears,
Beautiful eyebrows and large eyes,
Full of Mercy with a cheerful countenance and a blue speck on his throat.

pracandam prakrstam pragalbham paresham
akhandam ajam bhaanukoti-prakaasam
trayah-shula-nirmulanam shula-paanim
bhaje ham bhavaani-patim bhaava-gamyam

I worship Shankara, Bhavani’s husband,
The fierce, exalted, luminous supreme Lord.
Indivisible, unborn and radiant with the glory of a million suns;
Who, holding a trident, tears out the root of the three-fold suffering,
And who is reached only through Love.

sadaa sajjanaa-nanda-daataa purarih
prasida praslda prabho manmathaarih

You who are without parts, ever blessed,
The cause of universal destruction at the end of each round of creation,
A source of perpetual delight to the pure of heart,
Slayer of the demon, Tripura, consciousness and bliss personified,
Dispeller of delusion…
Have mercy on me, foe of Lust.

na yaavad umaanaatha-paadaaravindam
bhajantiha loke parevaa naraanam
na taavat-sukham shaanti-santaapa-naasham
praslda prabho sarva bhutaa-dhivaasam

Oh Lord of Uma, so long as you are not worshipped
There is no happiness, peace or freedom from suffering
in this world or the next.
You who dwell in the hearts of all living beings,
and in whom all beings have their existence,
Have mercy on me, Lord.

na janaami yogam japam naiva pujam
nato ham sadaa sarvadaa sambhu tubhyam
jaraa janma-duhkhaugha taatapya maanam
prabho paahi apan-namaamisha shambho

I don’t know yoga, prayer or rituals,
But everywhere and at every moment, I bow to you, Shambhu!
Protect me my Lord, miserable and afflicted as I am
with the sufferings of birth, old-age and death.

rudrastakam idam proktam viprena haratosaye
ye pathanti nara bhaktya tesam sambhuh prasidati

This eightfold hymn of praise was sung by the Brahman to please Shankara.
Shambhu will be pleased with whomever heartfully recites it.

karpoora gauram karunaavataaram samsaara saaram bhujagendra haaram

He is white like camphor and the very incarnation of mercy and compassion,
The only good thing in this world, wearing a king cobra as a garland

sadaavasantam hridayaara vinde bhavam bhavaani sahitam namaami

It is always springtime in the lotus of His heart I bow down to Bhava (Shiva), as well as to Bhavani (Parvati) who accompanies Him

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