All posts by Paul Nieto

Tiger and the Fox – Massud Farzan

The Tiger and the Fox – A Spiritual Story by Massud Farzan

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap.
A man who lived on the edge of the forest, seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think:
“If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don’t I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?”

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton.

Close to losing consciousness, he heard a Voice which said:
“O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the disabled fox.”

Commentary:

This is a great story. In today’s world how many people want to “manifest” things? They pay great money and spend much time reading books and watching videos trying to find a shortcut to easy wealth and an easy existence.

Click to see books by Massud Farzan at Amazon.




The Social Reform Candidate

A steampunk short story exploring the darker hidden motives and attitudes of social and political reformers in an alternative historical timeline..

The carriage came to my office door promptly at eight o’clock. Bennett Wilson was always a prompt man. His driver opened the door of the Clarence coach. The driver showed me, then he opened a Moroccan leather covered box after I seated myself in the back.

“You never know,” he said.

“Yes, it’s true.” Inside the box was a well-polished custom nickel trimmed R Johnson Flintlock Pistol. The detailed engraving on the nickel was superb.

“Already loaded I assume?” I picked it up to admire it, the barrel pointing away from the driver.

“Indeed sir.”

Carefully I placed it back in the black leather burgundy velvet lined box, the barrel facing downward as the box was designed. The driver nodded and closed the door. Quickly he climbed into the driver’s seat and took the reins. I admired the fine leather seating and brushed velvet with the brass trimmed carriage interior as the two horses went into a trot. The wheels rumbled against the brick street boulevard.

The Smog and drizzle hazed around the kerosene-lit streetlights. The moon was barely visible through the brown smog. Factories belched out thick smoke all around us as we passed through the industrial center. The sound of steam engines became louder than the sound of the carriage wheels. Soot from coal furnaces and boilers covered the buildings. You could taste the gritty smoke. On the street, several dirty faced workers were walking home, some of them children.

“Ah, look there. It’s the rich,” I heard one man say. He pointed at the carriage as we passed. His face was dirty with smudges of grease and black dirt. His soot covered denim overalls and leather boots looked as though they would need to be removed before he entered his home.

“Yes, I may seem rich tonight,” I thought to myself as the carriage passed.

Outside the bars, occasional women, overly dressed for the neighborhood, stood in the drizzle underneath the kerosene street lamps. Some had umbrellas to keep from getting wet. Their high society dress in a working-class area made their occupation obvious. They waived at the carriage as we trotted by them, one of them raising her bustled skirt just above the knee.
“Hey give me a ride,” another one yelled. I looked out the window and our eyes met. She flashed a smile as I stared into her big brown eyes. I smiled back.

“Not bad,” I thought.

We approached the west end of town. “Hold steady now Mr. Thompson!” The driver warned me. He brought the horses to a canter. Quickly we passed through the slum district, an area with much less lighting and well-known for crime. The carriage wheels growled loudly along the cobblestone street. We passed two small gangs walking the sidewalks. Would any of them have tried to board the carriage if we were not moving so quickly? Such things made the newspaper headlines weekly.

 

Thirty minutes must have passed. “We have arrived,” the driver said.

The Wilson mansion was well lit with many outside lamps. He must have used a barrel of kerosene every month to keep them lit. The inside was brighter. Wilson had some steam powered Wool rich direct current generators in the back. Most of the mansion was lit by electricity. Only the richest could afford that.

“My labor platform for the Senate will help the workers of this state, and the entire country,” the former governor said. The interview seemed to be going well. I sensed my editor at the Arlington Times would be pleased.

I could not help noticing that his personal library was enormous. Eight rows of seven-foot-high double sided books shelves filled most of the room. In the closest section I recognized some names; Freud, Jung, Pavlov, Klein, Piaget, Asch, Watson, and Milgram. We sat in plush velvet covered chairs at a Horner carved oak winged griffin library table. We sipped on Laphroaig Scotch on ice from elegant French crystal tumblers.

“The hours are entirely too long, Wilson said. “The manufacturers are taking advantage of the workers.”

“Agreed.”

“The ghastly practice of opening the doors fifteen minutes late and penalizing the workers for half a day’s wages must stop. Forcing the worker to stay late for free because of unreasonable quotas is flagrant. A sixteen-hour work day is inhuman. I would never do that to my workers.”

Former Governor Bennett Wilson, the candidate for the U.S. Senate, was an ice baron. He started young. He worked hard and squeezed out his competitors until there was only one other operation left in the Arlington area. Next, he worked his way down the river before widening his territory leaving only one main competitor. Shortly after, the two men became friends and one drunken New Year’s Eve they joked at fixing prices. The rest was history. They bought out companies in other cities and replicated the process eventually forming a trust that controlled eighty percent of the Northeastern seaboard ice market.

“What about trusts?” I asked as I pulled out my notepad and pencil to take notes of the interview.

His gray bushy brows raised. His bright blue eyes rounded.

“Some say the larger entities and co-operatives, for example, the sugar trust, the steel trust, tobacco, and farm equipment pick the pockets of the rich and poor alike.” I said.

“Nonsense!” Wilson said. He stroked the hair of his well-trimmed brown beard with his index finger and thumb. I suddenly noticed how young he looked for his age. “That is business, and business is business. What I am talking about is releasing the poor of all those long hours. And the children, don’t forget the children. They belong in school.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “That is a good cause.”

“I’m not saying people cannot work long hours. What I am saying is they should be paid for all of them. An employee staying over for three hours at no pay simply because the management intentionally overschedules the amount of work is not acceptable. Nor shall it be permitted if my legislation is passed.”

“Once again, I agree sir,” I said as I recorded his words. Still, I considered the irony of his position.

“What of the wages of those supplying us with imported goods?” I asked him, testing for a reaction. “Can we stand for such principles when we consume sugar produced by almost slave labor? What about the banana boat worker that gets less than the factory workers? What about rice? The farmers in those countries make pennies per day.

“They are animals!” Wilson’s fist hit the paper tablet on the table in front of him. Our drinks shook. “Those are not civilized persons such as we are! Just look at them. Why you can even smell some of them.”

“But isn’t your platform for the poor? You almost don’t seem to like them.”

“Of course, it is.” Wilson Answered. “My platform is to help them, but I do not have to like them.”

“I see. We support those who exploit workers in other lands while campaigning to protect our own?”

“What goes on in other places is not our responsibility.”

“What about here, in our own country? We both go to Manhattan. Didn’t we purchase Manhattan for less than the price of a poor man’s city block from the Indians?”

“That was not us. That was the Dutch! And what does it matter?”

His shaking eyes met mine. His skin flushed pink against his brown beard and mustache. I feared he might ask me to leave.

“Wait,” he said. Slowly he smiled. “That is brilliant! You are brilliant Mr. Thompson.”

“How is that?” I asked. Although puzzled, I admit I enjoyed the compliment.

“My platform! I can use those things as examples of the exploitation I am fighting!” He scribbled some notes onto his tablet with a pencil, then slid it off to the left.

“But you just said you didn’t care.”

“Well maybe not, but I can act so publicly,” Wilson said. “It will appear more caring and compassionate.”

“That it will.”

“Certainly, you will not report that? You will not mention all I just said.”
Man with beard photo man-beard_zpsyct6ur01.jpg

“No, sir. My job is to report the facts of what you intend to do. I present both sides of the issues objectively. I am not a hack that resorts to trickery and character assassinations. Nor do I attempt to direct the outcomes of any events I cover.”

“Excellent, I knew you could be trusted with off the record remarks. You have an excellent reputation for discretion. Ironic for a newspaper reporter, isn’t it?” Wilson smiled.
“Please continue.”

“Schools need to be improved,” Wilson said. “Government schools need to be established. It is 1972 and the entire world has made little industrial or social progress in the past one hundred and forty years.”

“It is true Mr. Wilson. The French have hardly been leaders.”

“Still, we must admire Napoleon, and credit the French for their contribution,” Wilson said.

Wilson admired Napoleon, the way he defeated the Duke of Wellington and the Prussians. They were no match for his genius. Napoleon could not defeat them at sea, however. Instead, the naval battles went on for almost 20 years until a truce was declared. Both countries were too financially drained to continue.

“It is the plague that destroyed our progress.” Wilson said.

Shortly after the war, came the fifty-year plague. Starting in Europe and spreading to Africa and the Mideast, it was not long before it crossed the Atlantic. Half the world’s population died in the first 20 years. Industry came to a standstill. By the end, two-thirds of the global population had fallen throwing the entire world into a medieval existence.

“Had the French not held the power, who knows what would have happened?” Wilson said. “We might all be speaking Japanese.”

The Japanese aggression started shortly after the plague. They were not as affected by the outbreak as Europe had been. With their superior gunned steam ships and almost endless fuel supply from their conquered lands, they had the world in panic for almost fifteen years. It was the French under Napoleon II who finally defeated them at sea. Next, he conquered their major cities, destroying their technology and stealing the plans.

“The world needs strong resolute leaders,” Wilson continued. “It needs strong iron-clad rules that all must follow. Regulations is the word I mean.”

“But surely Sir, aren’t emperors, kings, and too many regulations a recipe for disaster? Aren’t they a hindrance to freedom?”

“I’m not so sure.” He shook his head and smiled. “Consider the masses. Do you really think they can do anything for themselves?”

“Excuse me?”

“What I mean is, they need to be told what to do. In fact, Mr. Thompson, they want to be told. Most of them tremble at the thought of making a real decision. They need leaders to decide for them. We can make them think they are smart for following us, and they will.

“I suppose you are referring to the laborers and the poor?”

“Oh yes! Especially those, Mr. Thompson. It is up to us, the educated and elite, to plan for them, to influence them, to herd them, to help them get what they need to survive. It is we who know best.”

“I suppose you do not think they are capable on their own? Given a better environment that is.”

“Certainly not! The average one of them is an idiot. Listen to them talk. They are not fit to be more than peasants in a modern feudal society.” Wilson said. “Chattel is what they are, the whole lot of them.”

“Then what is the point of education?” I asked.

“We can convince them it is valuable, convince them it leads to prosperity, that it helps their children. As it will to some degree. Education will also provide an administrative type class to do our bidding and enforce our order, among other things.”

“Such as…”

“Such as a tool to influence them. Years of indoctrination will mold them into what we need from them. In time, they will imagine no other way of life but what government education has taught them. Don’t you see the beauty?”

“Beauty sir?” I asked.

“Education will make them more profitable and productive. Productivity allows us to both profit more and to pay them more. More income allows them to purchase more things. That means even more profit. We can even tax them more. As for the ones left behind, the ones we must carry and support, the worthless despicable ones per say, they will support us with their votes in an exchange for what we provide from the worker’s taxes. Everyone has more goods and we have more power. It’s beautiful!”

“Won’t people see through this eventually?”

“Of course not! We won’t give them the same education as the rich, but rather one more suited for their intellect and our needs. In time, Mr. Thompson, they will defend us and fight for us. They will want us to provide even more education. They will willingly punish their children for disobeying us. It’s in their simple nature.” He raised his arm and extended his hand toward his library’s psychology section.

I looked at the shelves. I wondered what all those great authors might think knowing their work would be used in such a sinister manner. Wilson paused and poured us more scotch.

“Even if they did see through it,” Wilson continued. “They are too disorganized, unsophisticated, and quarrel among themselves too much to ever change things.”

“Are you certain?”

“In my view history proves it. We must save the mongrels from themselves. Such riff-raff need a champion. It is us.”

“Riff-raff sir?”

“Well, they certainly aren’t as educated and astute as we are. Just look at the despicable creatures. They need help and it will benefit everyone. And we, the elite of both parties, will rightfully reign over them.”

“But sir, don’t you see this as a bit like slavery or indentured servitude?”

“Of Course, not!” Wilson hit the table again, this time with the flat of his palm. “Look at them now! Look at the long hours they work and the filth that surrounds them. If we don’t save them, some tyrant will trick them with false promises. Then where will the animals be? Worse off than they are now!”

My interview continued late into the night.

 

As Wilson’s driver took me home, I reflected on the evening. What are the things that motivate men such as Bennett Wilson to be reformers? Is it moral balance – a need to compensate for their evil, crass, or self-serving actions by doing something good? Is it an inferiority complex masked as a superiority complex, the need to manipulate and dominate others to feel any self-worth at all? Is it easier to see the problems on the outside than to have to courage to look within oneself first? Could it sometimes be an attempt to resolve in inner problem externally? Is it simply a deceptive tactic to accumulate wealth? Or is it simply hunger for power, attention, praise, or fame?

As we passed by the bars and factories, I stared at the hazy glow of the smog surrounding the kerosene street lamps. Only a few workers heading home from the bars were still on the streets. Their faces were still dirty from the grime and coal of the factories, but they seemed to be smiling after a night of drinking.

At least they had souls. They did not hide behind a clean or pious façade, or the name of proper society, to manipulate and benefit from the lives of others.
The brown-eyed woman I saw earlier was gone. I remembered a recent book by J Krishnamurti. He wrote that all a reformer ever really does is to redecorate the prison walls. The problems they create are often worse than the ones they try to solve. Few people ever escape the prison.

Men like Bennett Wilson will always be in power.

Are You an Eternal Being?

If truth is permanent, non-changing, unabated, immutable, and perhaps even beyond time, then life as we are taught, ever-changing, temporary, and doomed for death must not be truth. If it does not carry the essences of not truth, it by default must be non-truth, deception, or illusory.

For life to not be illusory, it by default has to be something else other than what most of us have been taught it to be or presently perceive it to be. For how can something that will end be truth, once it longer exists? Surely non-existence cannot be truth.

Another option for solving this puzzle would be to change truth’s definition, after which truth would no longer be, except for perhaps another concept in this seemingly unstable and ever changing world.

Perhaps this is part of the reasoning behind all the world religions that state that we are eternal beings. If we are not eternal, then we do not truly exist, as we have proven that if not eternal or beyond time, it is not truth and must, therefore, be of an illusory nature, or merely the result of fluctuations in an ever-changing world based on causation.

So, when we ask, “what is life?” – perhaps that is why we get a thousand different answers, further proving that life is either a.) An illusion or, b.) We don’t know as much as we say or think we know. There must be something more to it that we do not see.

One could argue that perhaps something else that I have left out or something that we have not yet discovered may yield a more complete and definite answer on life. Still, for that thing to be truth, it too would need to have a nature pointing to permanence, timelessness, or that which is beyond time as well.

Yet, if I were to say you do not exist, or that you are an illusion, based on the same arguments, you would think me to be rather mad, and perhaps rightfully so. Since you do seem to exist and you believe that your existence is truth, despite your slowly changing form and fluctuating states of mind, your true essence, as opposed to your fluctuating mass must, therefore, be eternal or beyond time itself. Otherwise, you are illusory or a simple result of temporary causation at best. So, for the essence or your existence to be truth you must be, like it or not, an eternal being, entity, form, or energy.

If we are not eternal, or beyond time, we are illusory or merely phenomenon based on causation or more simply stated non-truth and illusion. So, if we truly exist, logic dictates that what we are at our truest essence does not actually die or is eternal and or is beyond time, because any apparent truth that can cease to be is not truth.

Could We Already Be Dead?

“Could we already be dead?”

“Of course not!”

“How do you know? “

So often we fool ourselves when looking at life.

“I have fourteen years of experience in this field,” the applicant said. He was proud and smiling.

Does he really? Does he have fourteen years of experience, or is it the same first year fourteen times over? Perhaps his job was a bit more complicated and he has two years of experience seven times over. Perhaps there were a few procedural changes every couple of years and some occasional training to help promote the illusion of more experience. That is what happens to most of us.

This applicant might be in a rut. The same is probably true for the person giving the interview. We go to work and do the same thing every day. Some people may fool themselves into believing every day is different. Good for them. But it’s only the faces, outer appearances, and circumstances that change. It’s all for the same goal, all to the same end. Sugar and flour combine into many appearances, such as doughnuts, cookies, muffins, and cakes, but underneath it is still sugar and flour.

At best, it is nine to five. Many do not have it so easy. Many salaried workers do considerably more than forty hours.We get up in the morning, commute to work. Lunch is at about the same time every day. We work more, then commute home. Now we have a few hours of personal time spent mostly on other things needed for survival. Sleep and repeat. Pass “Go” on Friday and get the paycheck deposited to the bank.1

Some may protest. “Well, that is your life. Mine is different!” Others will say, “You got a bad attitude, you can change that situation. A person can move up or change jobs.”

Great. I’m glad you brought that up. What the above means is that if a person jumps through the right hoops, they get a different plot on the same farm.

“What to you mean? I work for a different company now!” Someone protests.

Look at the facts. 1% of the world’s population owns 50% of the wealth and the top 10 % controls 85% of the world’s wealth.2 In the US the top .01% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%.2 So, who are you fooling? The same group owns both plots, It’s the same farm.

“But I own my own business!” Good for you! Now we are getting somewhere. Congratulations, you may be smarter than the rest. Still, let’s ask a few things.

Are you working longer hours? Are you still taking problems home with you? Does the business affect your marriage or relationship with the kids? Are you truly Man in hamster wheelhappy? Do you feel satisfaction or has it become something you have to do? Do you suffer from anxiety? Is it affecting your health? Do you sleep well? Do you love what you do? If you pass this test, you are among the few who have truly succeeded. That, however, is a very small percentage of the world. Even being a business owner does not guarantee happiness. Divorce, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, addictions, suicide, and violence hit all social groups.

Most of us simply fool ourselves as the system has trained us to do. We may convince others we are happy and even believe it ourselves most of the time. We put on a mask that all is well, but deep inside something just is not so perfect. Something inside knows it isn’t happy.

Masking things is our way. It is how we were taught, domesticated, indoctrinated, or educated. Education prepares us to be cogs in this huge piece of the machine which is often a sham of a life. We pursue ideas given to us and programmed into us by others. We accept these things as our own values.

It wasn’t our fault. We were young children conforming so we could be loved. Then we were corrupted and exploited, our dreams hijacked and exchanged for an insane world’s ideas of success, security, and conformity.

When the coroner signs our death certificates, often it is just a formality. Most of us died long ago. We are living out a lie, living our programming, but not our lives. Like robots on autopilot, we did as the world instructed and expected.

We were never free. Our overlords told us when we were allowed to take a vacation and for how long. They even dictated what time we could have lunch, and for how long. In some jobs, they even limited when we could use the toilet and how often. Even after work, our lives were controlled by laws, governments, traditions, expectations, insurance stipulations, our employer’s policies, our customers’ expectations, and society’s conventions. They called it freedom, but it was only a myth.3

The solutions are not easy and vary person to person. Once cast into a hole, there are only two things you can do. The first is to put on blinders and keep digging yourself deeper. The second is to dig smartly and build a ramp to get out.  Until we admit to the problem, however, it will never be solved.

We can start with small steps. We become aware and then examine our simpler values first. Is mowing the lawn more important than spending time with your child if he wants to play? Is getting the house spotless so important that it is worth ignoring your spouse and children or fighting with them? Are you really too busy to spend some time with the dog after you feed him? What is it that is so important that you cannot? Why? Why do you have the dog? By the way, if he is tied outside, why don’t you bring him inside the house? Don’t you realize your pets can be the most loyal, loving and accepting companions you will ever have?

Is serving society’s implied expectations really more important than your family and pets? What about you? Is what you think you are expected to sacrifice worth living a life full of things you don’t want to do? Why are you trying to impress people you do not know, or do not like, with your status or image?

Keep asking questions. What is important to you? Why is it important? Who told you it is important? Was it your original idea? Or was the idea placed in your mind by parents, teachers, and society? Is the idea serving you or helping you? Does the idea or value bring you peace and joy, or is it draining you of energy, making you edgy or anxious? 4

Finally: What do you want? Have you answered that? Truly answered it? Do you even know? The real answer may surprise you. What do you really want? 5

Question everything you were taught; beliefs, preferences, values, and thoughts. Rethink them for yourself. Perhaps you can’t change most of it, but you can rearrange your perceptions. You can become more aware of what you are doing, more aware of when you are a robot and when you are truly living. You can develop a better outlook and happier life, maybe even actually live! Remember the words of Albert Einstein “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Start slowly. Don’t do anything drastic, but start. Quit redecorating the prison. Find the way out of the prison instead.6 Live your own life, not the world’s idea of what it should be.

Footnotes:

1 “Go” is a reference to an American Board game called Monopoly. Every time you circle the board past the initial starting point you are paid $200.

The Wealth Inequality figures quoted are backed up by the following:
Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2014/01/23/the-85-richest-people-in-the-world-have-as-much-wealth-as-the-3-5-billion-poorest/#3e50643b1753
http://newatlas.com/go/6571/
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/13/us-wealth-inequality-top-01-worth-as-much-as-the-bottom-90
Washington post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/01/22/10-startling-facts-about-global-wealth-inequality/?utm_term=.8b7c6664212f

3Refernces from Chögyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom 1976

4 Some of these questions posed in the book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms, by Vishen Lakhiani

5 Question posed by Gangaji in chapter 5 of The Diamond in Your Pocket, 2005

6 Refence to J. Krishnamuriti – Reformers and changers often do nothing but redecorate the prison, often arriving at solution that is worse than the original problem. Think on These Things, 1964

Related Articles:
Gangaji – what do you want?

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Caring for Your Dying Pet

Pets are our best friends and often become family. Their love is generally unconditional. They love us so much we can’t help but love them back. They are almost more human than some people we meet.

The last days of your pet’s life are hard. One day you notice things are changing. Your friend or companion is not as strong as before. He can’t move as fast. There is weight loss and perhaps blindness. You know the inevitable is coming. Still there is time.

Veterinary costs can often be a full day’s wages. For some people, it is three or four day’s wages, for a single visit. It is worth it, but not everyone can afford it. Don’t blame yourself if you can’t. Medicine can only prolong the life that must end anyway. If veterinarian visits are out of the question, just be there for your pet and keep them as comfortable as possible. Give them extra time and love. Cut out unnecessary activities, so you have more time at home.

If you can afford the veterinarian, you have taken your pet several times over the years. Maybe she needs medicine or a prescription diet. The cost of prescription food is considerable. Even worse, if you have other animals, they may want to eat it too. Maybe your sick friend still prefers the old food. It’s definitely a challenge sorting that out.

Tired 20-year-old cat
A 20-year-old cat, that looks tired because of its advanced age.
Time passes. Maybe something happens, or the veterinarian gives you the news. Your pet is now in the advanced stage of an irreversible terminal disease. The reality hits hard. Your eyes swell with tears. You now know time is short. You can already feel the loss.

Many people can’t face this sorrow and try to avoid it. When the owners can’t face the pain, the pet is left alone or ignored. It dies lonely, on its own, with food and water provided, but with little human companionship. This is a big mistake. This is when your companion needs you the most. Don’t neglect her now. Your pet has served you and loved you for years and you need to reward her for her love and service.

You only have a limited amount of precious time left. You need to talk to her more, pet her more, and tell her she is still beautiful to you, no matter how sickly she may look. Tell your pet how glad you are they came into your life and how you would never change it. Some pets will understand. They will in the least feel your love for them. Again, this is the time to cut out unnecessary activities. You need to be home more with your beloved. Some animals as they get closer to death will cling to you more and more. Give them the time and attention.

The last days are a time of both joy and sorrow. The joy is knowing you have them for another day. There is joy in seeing they are still eating and still drinking.  You find joy in seeing they can still move around. The sorrow is knowing things could change suddenly. Any day things could turn worse. There is sorrow knowing they are eating less. The worst sorrow is you know they will soon die. But again, don’t punish your pet because of how hard it is for you. You need to face the pain and be there for them. Give them your time. Give them your love. Hug them. Hold them. Lie down beside them. You won’t regret it.

We all wish the best for them. We wish they would pass peacefully in their sleep from old age before any suffering starts. How happy that would make us. Often that is not the case. Sometimes it seems your pet is hanging onto life only because he loves you so much and does not want to leave you. Still, you must make a decision – natural death vs. euthanizing. Depending on your philosophy, religion, and culture you will choose. Even not choosing is a choice.

In countries such as the U.S., many believe in not letting the animal suffer. Many say euthanizing a pet before they suffer, “is the last best thing you can do for them.” Other cultures have different views.

What is best – I don’t know. Either way is heartbreaking.  Still, either way, whatever your view, just be there for them and keep them as comfortable as possible until the edog-1691421_220nd. The best gifts you can give to your dying pet is your time, your attention, and your love. You will never regret it if you do. If you give them time, attention, and love, you will never experience the guilt of “I wish I had done more.”

A pet’s last days teaches us much. Similar to when a loved one or a  family member is dying, we consider what is important in life. We realize some of the things we valued, are not as important as we thought. We see how selfish we have been with our time, how we may have ignored our pet in the past, and also ignored our loved ones. We remember our loved ones who have died. We realize we too will die. We realize the loved ones we ignore because we are so busy in our daily struggles will die also.

Our dying pets help us realize what truly matters – other beings and how we treat each other. In a world of thoughtless and cruel people, our pets are often the ones to show forgiveness and unconditional love beyond what any person we ever meet will show us. They teach us that we should be more like them. They show us what is more important in life. It is other beings and how we relate to each other that is more important than the material things we slave for our entire lives. They show us where we need to change. We need to give up our petty quests. We need to quit judging others. We need to love others and our loved ones more.

If you believe in reincarnation, you may wonder if you and your pet were together in a past life. You may wish that if you both have more lives, you will be together again. You may wish that someday you both be liberated and can clearly remember the present relationship and laugh and share the joy again. If you don’t believe in reincarnation, you may wish you could be rejoined in the afterlife as human and pet. It’s alright to think silly things. Your pet loves you just as much.

Your pet is dying. Now is the time to be strong.  Be there for your loyal friend. Make sure they are loved and as comfortable as possible. Do what is in your heart and know they loved you and that you loved them back as best you could. There is no better way to honor your special friend than to give them the extra time, attention, and love they want in their dying days. Be strong and honor them. Comfort them and know you did your best. Your pet is worth it. Make her last days as good as you can for her. Give her the love she deserves.

[Attribution: Main Photo at top of article – By Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA (Sad Dog) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Author does not necessary support this work.]




The Life of Sri Ramakrishna

A fast look at the life of Ramakrishna – February 16, 1836, to August 16, 1886

Early Life

Gadadhar Chatterjee was born in a remote village named Kāmārpukur in West Bengal. It was an area of rice-fields, banyans, palms, a few lakes, and a nearby mango orchard. A road passed through the village to the great temple of Jagannāth at Puri traveled by workers, farmers, holy men, and pilgrims.

As a child, Gadadhar Chatterjee loved listening to stories from Hindu mythology and the epics. Afterward, he could recite them from memory. This brought great joy to the villagers. He also enjoyed painting and molding images of the gods and goddesses. Mathematics was his greatest dislike.

At the age of six or seven Gadādhar had his first experience of spiritual ecstasy while walking between the rice fields. He fell unconscious during the vision and some villagers that found him carried him home.

Gadadhar’s parents were poor Brahmins, the highest rank in the Hindu caste system. He received a simple village education and was a mischievous child, eventually shunning his education. Gadadhar’s father died when he was only seven years old.

Growing up Gadadhar became interested in the wandering monks and pilgrims who stopped at his village on the way to the temple at Puri. At sixteen Gadadhar traveled to Calcutta to assist his eldest brother, Ramkumar, in his duties as a priest. His brother hoped to encourage Gadadhar to complete his education.

The Temple at Dakshineshwar

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Kali Temple, Dakshineshwar, Kolkata Photo by By Wiki-uk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Within a few years, Ramkumar served at the new temple in the nearby village of Dakshineshwar, a few miles outside of Calcutta, now called Kolkata. Ramkumar became a priest at the temple of Kali, known as the Divine Mother. The temple is still located along the banks of the east bank of the Ganges River or to be technical the distributary known as the Hooghly River.

The temple grounds were purchased by a rich widow named Rani Rasmani. She created a temple garden and constructed the temple of Radhakanta, the Twelve Siva Temples, and the main temple dedicated to Kali, the Divine Mother. The dedication ceremony took place on May 31, 1855.

When Ramkumar died in 1856, Gadadhar assumed the role of the priest to the Divine Mother Kali. He spent long periods of time in meditation, sometimes neglecting his formal duties while lost in ecstatic singing before the temple image of Kali.

Gadadhar also spent whole nights in meditation in the deep jungle north of the temples. The area was thick with underbrush and at one time used as a burial ground. The locals shunned the area, even during daylight, for fear of ghosts. He would stay all night returning to his room in the morning with his eyes swollen from weeping.

It soon became impossible for him to perform his temple duties. The temple manager relieved him of his duties and gave him use of every facility for his spiritual quest. The temple manager was the son in law of Rani Rasmani, who had developed great respect and admiration for Gadadhar.

It was from that setting, the garden at the temple and his solitary spot in the jungle, that Gadadhar Chatterjee transformed into the loved and revered God-loving master known as Sri Ramakrishna.

In 1859 Gadadhar’s mother arranged a marriage for him, hoping to bring him back to an earthlier existence. It did not work. When the bride became of age to join her husband at the temple he remained celibate, eventually worshiping her as a symbol of the deity Kali. Ramakrishna viewed all women as a manifestation of the Divine Mother. His wife was Ma Sarada.

In 1861 a woman Master of Tantra declared Ramakrishna an avatar. The local religious authorities investigated and accepted her claim. Mahendra Gupta quotes the nameless woman as having said to Ramakrishna “My son, everyone in this world is mad. Some are mad for money, some for creature comforts, some for name and fame; and you are mad for God.” Although Mahendra Gupta does not appear to name the women, from the book “The Sayings of Ramakrishna,” I believe her name was Bhairavi Brahmana as the stories from both books converge in 1861.

Over the next few years, he worshiped Rama and Krishna as the formless Brahman of the Vedanta branch of Hinduism. He went on to also find God through Islam, and later by Jesus Christ. His gospel was the gospel of unity and diversity. Ramakrishna is recognized worldwide for his message that all religions are paths to the truth. He taught that The Ultimate Reality is one, but it is personal as well as impersonal and is indicated by different names in different religions This view is known as Pluralism.

Gradually Ramakrishna attracted more public attention as devotees, and visitors flocked to his room in the temple garden overlooking the Ganges River. He attracted a diverse mixture of people including scholars of Sanskrit, educated intellectuals, shop owners, landowners, educators, and common people. Among those who gathered, was also Ramakrishna’s most beloved disciple, Swami Vivekananda.

About the Book – The Gospel of Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna was a simple villager and produced no writings. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna was written in Bengali by Mahendra Gupta, who was a high school headmaster from Calcutta. Mahendra Gupta wrote under the name M. Whenever you are reading of Ramakrishna and see M either speaking or being asked a question, know that is referring to Mahendra Gupta.

It is interesting to note that Mahendra Gupta was also a teacher to the well-known Paramahansa Yogananda, who spoke and wrote quite fondly of M.

The Gospel of Ramakrishnan is an eyewitness account of the Master’s conversations with visitors, devotees, and disciples during the years 1882 -1886. The book is hailed as one of the greatest spiritual classics of the twentieth century, as it was translated into English almost six decades later.

The unabridged book starts chapter one with Mahendra Gupta’s first meeting with Ramakrishna in February of 1882.

The Setting

By this time, the 1800s had already brought the Battle of Waterloo, the first photographs, the California Gold Rush, and the invention of the Typewriter.

Within two years, the Taiping rebellion in China would end with 20 million people dead. The American Civil War was only in its third year. Queen Victoria was on the throne and steamboats had been crossing the Atlantic for nearly 45 years. The Transcontinental Railroad in the United States was still five years from completion.

The Austro-Prussian War was four years away. Cash registers and incandescent light bulbs were not yet in use. There were no telephones. There were no radios. The first commercial movie film wouldn’t debut for another 30 years. The first home refrigerators would not appear for  47 years.

Ramakrishna trance 1879
Ramakrishna in samadhi supported by his nephew Hriday and surrounded by Brahmo devotees. Photograph taken on Sunday, September 21, 1879 at the house of Keshab Chandra Sen, Calcutta.
In this world backdrop, M takes us to what seems like an almost magical time and place in the beautiful gardens at the temples along the Ganges River. It was a different and distant world, in a far more peaceful time. It was as a flower that can never be replicated. The nearby jungle has since been cleared and replaced by a modern city. Nowadays Highway 2 runs practically next door to the temple.

It was on a Sunday in the spring of 1880, that M first arrived at the Dakshineshwar Temple. He and his companion Sidhu arrived at dusk while visiting gardens at Baranagore. They found Ramakrishna sitting on a wooden couch facing east. He smiled as he talked about God to a room full of people totally absorbed in his words.

M was speechless and did not want to leave. Sill, he thought, “Let me see this place first.” Leaving the room, they could hear the music from the temple service, the gongs, bells, and cymbals. He could also hear the music at the south end of the garden. A spring wind blew carrying the fragrance of the flowers and the moon had just appeared.

After visiting the temples, they returned to Sri Ramakrishna’s room finding him alone. The master requested they sit. He asked them “Where do you live? What is your occupation? Why did you come to visit Baranagore?” After some conversation, M saluted the Master to leave.

“Come again,” Sri Ramakrishna said.

It was from this meeting that the book known as The Gospel of Ramakrishna started. Much of what we know of him and his teachings, including his biography, is contained in this book.

(It is interesting to note that early in the book M crosses paths with devotee named Narendranath Datta. Narendranath went on to become Swami Vivekananda.)

 

A Fast Glimpse at Ramakrishna’s Message

Lex Hixon wrote, “Ramakrishna in not a quaint person from and ancient culture, representing a particular religious background, but and Einstein of the planetary civilization of the near future, a greenhouse for the future evolution of humanity.”

Some of Ramakrishna’s teachings include that the goal of human life is the realization of the Ultimate Reality, God, which the only thing that can give man true fulfillment and everlasting peace.

He believed that God, or the Ultimate Reality, can be realized through various paths and that all religions are true in so long as they lead to the same ultimate Goal.

He thought that God dwells in all people but the manifestation of God varies from person to person. In saintly people, there is a greater manifestation of God than in others.

He strongly believed that Women are special manifestations of Divine Mother of the Universe, and so are to be treated with respect.

Helping the needy should be done not out of compassion but rather as humble service to God

God realization is possible for all. The householders need not renounce the world, but they should pray sincerely. God listens to sincere prayer. Intense longing is the secret of success in spiritual life.  Trough spiritual practices, man can overcome his evil tendencies, and divine grace can redeem even the worst sinner.

The Gospel of Ramakrishna Translated

The first English translation was published in 1942 by Swami Nikhilananda. Swami Nikhilananda also produced and abridged version, so keep this in mind if you ever research or purchase.

Both books are long and difficult for those not familiar with either Ramakrishna or any aspects of Hinduism. The best thing for a beginner to do is to get a condensed and annotated version.

I researched and found the Skylight Illumination version as a starting point. I found it easy to read and like all Skylight Illumination books, all foreign words and concepts are annotated in an easy to follow manner. The title is Selections from the Gospel of Ramakrishna. It also includes and index.

Free Links for Ramakrishna Material

Biography only – from The Gospel of Ramakrishna  http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/introduction.htm/

Read or search The Gospel of Ramakrishna free online http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/

Full the text version of The Gospel of Ramakrishna https://archive.org/stream/GospelOfSriRamakrishnaTheMahendranathGupta/TheGospelOfSriRamakrishna_djvu.txt

The Gospel of Ramakrishna  PDF http://www.wearesentience.com/uploads/7/2/9/3/7293936/gospel_srk.pdf

Sayings of Ramakrishna PDF http://estudantedavedanta.net/Sayings%20of%20Sri%20Ramakrishna.pdf

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