Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
September 2005

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

“Spirit is center everywhere, circumference nowhere.” This is just one of many aphorisms from Master that is enough in itself for a lifetime of meditation. Through it, we can discover everything else.

Each of us approaches life from our own point of view. Perspective determines everything else. Because the soul has identified itself with the ego, we have become engrossed in Maya. Mistakenly we believe, “Where my body is there I am.” We have lost contact with our omnipresence.

Recently we saw a remarkable documentary called March of the Penguins, filmed in Antarctica. The lives of penguins in one of the harshest places on the planet are, as you might imagine, rather limited. Survival and reproduction pretty much sums it up. But even with that small repertoire, the film was beautiful, and deeply moving.

Penguins, like all creatures, are just like us: Egos on the spectrum between delusion and Self-realization.

Penguins are farther down the spectrum, so they have less awareness than we do, but their awareness is not fundamentally different from ours, it is only a matter of degree.

The human nervous system is capable of perceiving infinity; the nervous system of animals is not. Human beings are the highest species, because we have a higher potential for realization. Not that all of us, by any means, have realized it.

In the movie, when predators attack the penguins—in this case, seals or seagulls—we naturally root for the penguins. But if it had been a movie about one of those animals, we would have sided with them. Or if it had been about fish, we would have mourned when the hungry penguins decimated whole families of that species.

No one was doing anything wrong. Each was acting as God intended. Spirit is center everywhere. How we feel about the divine play, however, when it is acted out on film, or, in “real” life, depends on our perspective. “Circumstances are always neutral,” Master said. Whether we see them as happy or sad depends on the predisposition of our hearts.

We have put bird feeders in the little garden outside our apartment here in the community. It is endlessly entertaining to watch the feathered creatures visit the all-you-can-eat buffet we provide for them.

But every so often, we also feed a cat. They, too, see our garden as an all-you-can eat buffet, if they are quick and stealthy enough to nab a dinner. We tend to root for the birds, so when a carnivore also eats from our garden, it is easy to feel that we are responsible for the death.

But could we cause even one bird to die just by willing it? And is the bird sad, or was he, perhaps, eager, even desperate to evolve to a higher bird level, or to escape bird consciousness altogether? Did he long to be a cat and now blesses us from the astral world where he is waiting to be reborn?

And what about the self-esteem of the cat? Does it help him move up the spectrum of consciousness to develop his courage and quickness as a hunter? If we were the devas in charge of cats, wouldn't we cheer when one of “our” cats got a bird? You see it is all about perspective.

There is an odd story told about Master and one of his most advanced disciples, Oliver Black. Apparently, Mr. Black had a sentimental attachment to all creatures, which Master wanted him to overcome.

The two of them were out walking one day, when they came across a thick stream of ants crossing the sidewalk. Carefully and deliberately, Master stepped on the ants, until all of them were dead. Mr. Black was horrified. Master turned to him calmly and said, “Oliver, it was their time to go.”

Master was as much in the ants as he was in his own body. He was as much on the astral and causal planes as he was in the material world.

From our point of view, it seems terribly important that the ants continue as ants. But from the point of view of omnipresence, isn't it inevitable, in fact, desirable, that divine consciousness, manifesting as ants, eventually withdraw from that form and manifest again in another way? Who would want to be an ant forever?

Don't misunderstand. Lack of compassion is not a spiritual quality. The more we meditate on “Spirit is center everywhere, circumference nowhere,” the more we revere all creatures, all creation, even that which seems inanimate. Everything is a manifestation of God.

But this also means, that every experience comes from God, no matter what form it takes. And every experience has an equal capacity to bless us. “Circumstances are always neutral.”

These ideas may seem a little far out, perhaps more than you bargained for. Don't try to eat the whole spiritual meal in one bite. It will give you indigestion! But do pick up a small spoon and begin to nibble. These attitudes are the building blocks of our spiritual life. Our likes and dislikes cause us endless suffering, and bind us to delusion.

Swamiji says, “The only thing that holds us back from realizing our oneness with God is a little veil of delusion that says, "I want this," and "I like that" The more you get rid of such desires, the more you see that it is simple to be omnipresent.”

Blessings and joy from David and me,

Asha