Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Tyranny of the Discontinuous Mind

"The boundaries of objects are vague - and that goes for us too... Describing the world in terms of discrete objects is a useful fiction."

- Kees van Deemter, a computational linguist at the University of Aberdeen, UK, and author of Not Exactly: In praise of vagueness

Richard Dawkins calls this tendency to think in discrete categories "the tyranny of the discontinuous mind".

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Avadhuta Gita

All that exists in this world of forms
Is nothing but the Self, and the Self alone.
How, then, shall the Infinite worship Itself?
Shiva is one undivided Whole!

-Avadhuta Gita (The Song of the Renunciant)
Probably 9th or 10th century
Traditionally ascribed to Shri Dattatreya

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


North face of Mt Kailash

At the heart of the Sahasrara Chakra (the subtle centre at the crown of the head) is the abode of the aspect of the Self known in Hinduism as Lord Shiva. Though all the deities of the Hindu pantheon are believed to be aspects of the one Universal Self, Shri Shiva represents the unmanifested Self, which exists in a state of perpetual meditation, apparently withdrawn from the world. In Advaita philosophy, the distinction between Self and world is seen as illusory, and therefore the deities who look after different aspects of worldy existence are no less "spiritual" for their involvement with the world;  however, the ascetic deity, Lord Shiva, is often chosen by Hindus to represent the Self, because He is a pure essence at the heart of all things. He is considered to reside also in the heart Chakra. Lord Shiva is both remote, in the sense of being unaffected by phenomena, and the closest, because He resides in the heart. Because Self and world are one, meditation is not a withdrawal from the world, as many believe; it is a withdrawal from the mind's illusion of separateness. What better way to get a grip on reality than to become it.

The subtle centres are manifested at various locations on Earth. The Himalaya corresponds to the Sahasrara Chakra. Mt Kailash is located in a particularly remote and desolate region of the Tibetan plateau. Hindu texts describe it as being surrounded by seven layers of mountain ranges, rather like the heart of a lotus enfolded in layers of petals. Four great rivers of South Asia have their source near the mountain, and in yoga philosophy there are four subtle nadis, or spiritual channels, emerging from the Heart Chakra.
The Sanskrit word kailash means 'crystal', and the mountain does have a jewel-like appearance rising from the surrounding bare and arid terrain.