Fire Ceremony: celebrating Vehicles and friends

At Loka Hatha Yoga, our Fire Ceremony marks the mid-day of Spring, and honors Kamadeva.  It is a celebration of Vehicles, and friends - and especially spouses.

The Buddha Gotama said that the Agnihotra is the foremost sacrifice (Samyutta Nikaya 111, Majjhima Nikaya 92), and the Gayatri is the foremost song. We combine both these practices today through the context of Kama by studying the Fire Dharma, the Daily Fire Sacrifice, and the Gayatri.

The Gayatri
The Gayatri is a kind of song, it is the structure of words - similar to a sonnet, or haiku, or other structures.  However, it has become specially associated with one such song in particular: the praise of the Sun's light.

When Brahma first attempted the Fire Sacrifice, he could not complete it because he was not married.  He desperately sought the very first being he might find to be his wife, and Gayatri - whose structure of words is used in the Fire Sacrifice - embodied herself to be nearest to Brahma, for she also desired the completion of the sacrifice.  The two at that moment developed a pure love, and were married.  This mutual desire to complete the sacrifice for the sacrifice's sake, which is expressed in the purest love of Brahma and Gayatri, also expresses the essence of Kama, which Kamadeva espoused.

The mantra, or song, praising the Sun is from the Rig Veda 3.62.10.  It makes a play on words, a pun, between the light of the sun, and the enlightenment of the singer.  "Let us meditate on enlightenment until we are as luminous as the sun," is one approximation of translation.  The Buddha Gotama taught that while enlightenment is only one step in a very long process, it is appropriate to make it the first and foremost goal of practice: with enlightenment, freedom from distress is easier to achieve, as is all that follows.  It is for this reason the Gayatri is used at the beginning of the Brahmacharya.

The Daily Fire Sacrifice
There are five fire sacrifices which should be made daily, if one would properly perform the Vedas.

There is the fire that burns from the combustion of fuel in a hearth.  Yet the sacrifice made is by the plants - what do we give by cowering beside it?  It is the holy work of gathering the fuel that makes our sacrifice - and by doing so we may discover the best fire of all: for, in this work, we will grow warmer through the right exertion of our strength.

Discovery of this second kind of fire permits the discovery of the second kind of fuel: the food we require to exert ourselves is actually a sacrifice made by numerous kinds of beings for our health and maintenance.  What do we gain by their sacrifice, to be burned as energy for our work?  It is the work itself that makes our sacrifice; the practice of Hatha Yoga permits our learning to take exactly what is required for the maintenance of our body - and discover what is required for the maintenance of our heart.  Warming our hearts requires a third kind of fuel, and produces a third kind of fire.

The third kind of fire warms our heart by selfless service to other beings - the effort made to make the sacrifice of our food worthwhile permits us to act entirely selflessly. This Karma Yoga warms our hearts - but is not itself a sacrifice until we facilitate the growth in practice and the sacrifices of other beings as true Brahmans ought to.  Karma Yoga permits the discovery of a fourth kind of fuel, a fourth fire: this one burns cold, but emits great light.

When we use our service in a way that allows others to develop the practice of Karma Yoga, we illuminate our minds.  This illumination, this enlightenment, is the fourth kind of fire, fueled by Jnana Yoga.  Observation of this light allows us to understand the conditions which permit fire: fuel is only one of them.  A spark is required, and the fuel must be prepared. We come to understand the conditions in our own life which were prepared for our growth and success, and honor all that came before us: our parents who raised us, our ancestors who raised them, the world of beings who conditioned their success - and our own.  In doing so, we kindle a fifth flame with a new kind of fuel when we discover the limitations of our perception and understanding - there are numerous beings which cannot be seen, numerous forces which defy understanding. We gain a trust in logic, and conscience - a fifth kind of fuel.

The fifth fire leads to sacrifice to the beings which we cannot see, and a logical conscience - doing what is right regardless of pain or pleasure, acting wholly in love, for love, out of love of Love, in Bhakti Yoga.  Bhakti Yoga is the fifth fire; Bhakti Yoga allows us to understand the Dharma.

Understanding the Dharma we come to study it as often as possible, feeding a sixth fire - we study the Dharma a little at first, then more and more, then daily, then hourly, then constantly.  We come to live the Vedas.  In living the Vedas, we have performed them.  And accomplished the purpose of the Fire Sacrifices.

The Fire Dharma
Gotama was both a husband and a father.  His wife was Bhaddakaccana, or Yasodhara, his son was Rahula.  Gotama described both a daily fire sacrifice, and also the fire itself, the Dharma of the Fire. Without Yasodhara's help, Gotama might never have achieved the sacrifice.

Gotama said that he could not have achieved enlightenment without his wife.  The two shared an intimate path: both shared the same birthday, and on the same day, without telling each other, both matured their practice of Kama to take up the path of Brahmacharya. Both concluded their Brahmacharya successfully - at the same time.  In other stories of Vishnu, there is a similar bond and co-practice and co-life between Vishnu and Laxmi: just as the fire burns and purifies what is not fit for sacrifice, Laxmi prepares both for Vishnu, and Vishnu himself.  The fire itself may be sacred, but only because of its heat and light.

Gotama described the fire in this way: everything was on fire, burning with desire, aversion, delusion and suffering. He did not speak literally:

What is "everything" is not only the forms and manifestations of reality, but the are the internal and external senses of those forms, the perception of those senses, the consciousness of those perceptions, the understanding of that consciousness, the instinctual response to those understandings. The fire results in manifestations of distress. But the fire can also enlighten: by becoming disenchanted, no longer mystified by the "magic" of the forms, senses, perceptions, consciousness, instinct, etc. dispassion co-arises with logical, or rational, behavior - regardless of pain, pleasure, distress, feeling or any sensation.

One does not extinguish the sacred flame, but instead permits it to burn itself out.  This is, too, how we achieve enlightenment.  Consume the fuel that feeds the fire, and as Vishnu transforms his enemy Devadatta into his vehicle and friend, use your own desire, aversion, delusion and suffering as the means of success.

As fire can burn and hurt, it can also warm and cook food; our distress can be more properly used.

Celebration of friends and Vehicles
It is therefore appropriate, on the day of the Fire Ceremony, to celebrate our many vehicles and friends in life. And especially our spouses.  This is accomplished by describing them, consciously understanding everything about them - in the spirit of love.  Praising them, rejoicing in them.  Naming them.

Today is a day for Kama, for going forth in Brahmacharya, for understanding our path. Meditating on enlightenment, we understand our path requires us understanding our present struggles not only portend our eventual success, but are the means to it.

The Fire Altar
The fire altar need not be traditional.  Here at the Ashram, we use a barbeque: this helps us meditate better on the Fire Dharma, seeing that the fire which burns and hurts can also be hospitable.  A barbeque also presents an opportunity to share both dinner and the happy occasion for spouses, to share loving words, and reflect on both the Fire Dharma, and the Vehicles of their lives - to understand their path, and the ultimate success which they will achieve.

Practicing the Gayatri means not only reciting words in a song, but living the Vedas.  It is important, especially today, to not neglect Kama (or Artha) when seeking to perfect this Dharma.

Parashurama Jayanti - Be your own best friend

Parashurama, drawn by Nina Paley, was his own best friend.
Can you be your best friend, too?
Parashurama is one of the most complex manifestations of Vishnu, and today is celebrated his birthday.

Parashurama demonstrated duty was not inherited by birth, but by an individual's aptitude, training and necessity.

He demonstrated that what we do not control controls us, and that is the truest reward of self-control: only by self-control can a person become free and withdrawn (a Sannyasi) - we are free of anger not when we are no longer angry, but when we are in control of whether we will act on that anger.  He demonstrated against impulsivity, and instinctual reaction.

One of the episodes of the Parashurama story involves Parashurama seeking a battle axe from Shiva.  Ganesh was guarding both Shiva and Gauri, where they meditated, and would not let Parashurama approach.  Parashurama challenged Ganesh to a fight with the terms that if he won, Ganesh would let him pass: in this fight, Parashurama could have destroyed Ganesh, but merely cut off his left tusk.  At this moment, Gauri saw the injury to Ganesh and grew angry, and assuming her destructive form was about to destroy Parashurama and all the worlds - but Ganesh explained to his mother that the fight was fair, and agreed to, and this calmed her down.  Shiva had woke from his meditation when Gauri was disturbed, and perceived the true nature of Parashurama (as Vishnu), and gave his brother the axe.

Parashurama means "Rama with the Axe," the axe referenced being the weapon given to him by Shiva upon defeating Ganesh.  With this axe he personally prosecuted a 21 year war against the Kings who had abandoned their duties, to the harm of their people.  The purpose of Raja Yoga is to transcend duty, not to abandon it.

Of course, some devotees of Ganesh at this story remember there are other stories of how Ganesh lost his tusk: it was broken off to write the Mahabharata when his pen failed him, it was broken when he stumbled, and so forth.  Though there have been many Ganeshes in the many ages, each is connected through that Asana, that moment of time, space and action, of losing a tusk - the cause and effect of the lost tusk echoes against itself, reverberating through all of existence.  Not so with Parashurama, for there has been and only will be one Parashurama: he is understood to exist beyond time, but within existence.

Parashurama ("Rama with the Axe")
is also Rama with the Sandals, and
Rama with the Umbrella
Though famous for his axe, Parashurama is also famous for his sandals and umbrella.  One day, the sun was shining hot upon him as he meditated.  He got angrier and angrier at the heat!  So he shot arrows at the sun, nearly killing Surya.  Parashurama ran out of arrows, and asked his wife to get him more - so Surya focused all his heat on his wife, making her pass out.  Parashurama was horrified, and even angrier.  So Surya approached Parashurama and proposed peace, offering gifts: an umbrella and some sandals - this way, Parashurama would not be so hot.

Because Parashurama is the "immortal" manifestation of Vishnu, he has instructed every manifestation of Vishnu, and connects Vishnu with what is past, present and future, as well as what is beyond time - to prepare Vishnu for what needs to be done.  He ensures that his other manifestations have the help of their manifestation of Laxmi, and all the tools they require.  Parashurama, by Shiva's instruction, became the first to perfect Niyuddha Yoga - the Yoga of War - and prepares each of his manifestations to use it in self-defense.

He is his own best friend - and this is the greatest lesson to be learned from Parashurama.

Can you become your own best friend?  

Your environment either strengthens or harms you - can you strengthen your world so it strengthens you?  Uphold justice, defend the weak, help everyone become stronger, smarter, and as compassionate.  Self-defense means defending our friends, and all those who depend upon our strength - by defending them, and ourselves.

You are made smarter by association with the wise, and stronger by the association of the strong.  It is difficult to find wise and strong companions - can you help those in your world become smarter and stronger?

When you feel regret for your own weakness and errors, can you comfort yourself, and help yourself do better?

Can you dress appropriately for the weather - wearing sandals and using an umbrella when it is hot?  Then you can also dress appropriately for any occasion.  Find someone who can teach you style.  Dressing the part, you can learn to do your part - your duty changes with the moment, and you must be ready for anything.

Feed yourself nutritious foods when you are hungry, sleep enough to become rested, understand your physical, emotional and spiritual requirements - and provide them, through Kama, Artha and Dharma.

Anguttara Nikaya 2.125 - 2.126, Majjhima Nikaya 43

The Buddha Gotama said right view arises from two conditions: insight, and external awareness. Wrong view, similarly, arises with lack of insight, and lack of external awareness.

But right view is not the only result of insight and external awareness. To develop insight and external awareness into right view requires five factors: right or ethical conduct, learnedness, logical argument of internal or external analytical dialogue, tranquility, and understanding.

The factor by which these five factors to develop right view from insight and external awareness is the "voice from another world," the voice of Brahma. The voice of Brahma, in the world of Brahma, Brahmaloka, can be heard from a Buddha, or perceived through practices of Brahmacharya, Temple Practices, and joyful friendship. Together, these are the foundation of the monastic fellowship subsequently described by the Buddha Gotama.

Do not regret lack of intelligence or strength - Shiva Maha-Purana 2.109

Brahma said, there have been many various Ganeshas in the many Kalpas. During the Shweta Kalpa, Ganesh was born to Shiva and Parvati, when they went to Kailash Mountain shortly after their marriage.

Parvati had decided to take a bath, and instructed Nandi to let no one enter the home without her permission. During her bath, Shiva arrived by chance. Despite Nandi faithfully conveying the message, Shiva went inside anyway - for it was his home, after all. Parvati did not like this at all - for it was also her home. She realized Nandi could not actually prevent Shiva from entering, so before her next bath she took the dirt from her body and made Ganesha. She instructed Ganesha to not allow anyone in without her permission - and gave him a stick as a weapon. By chance again, Shiva again arrived during the bath - he tried to ignore Ganesha but Ganesha was able to block the door.

Shiva realized at once that Ganesh could not be his servant - for if he was, like Nandi, he could not actually prevent him from entering his own home. At the same time, he was frustrated and furious. Shiva ordered the Ganas which accompanied him to kill Ganesh - Shiva rarely went anywhere without his Ganas (perhaps you can see why Parvati would want privacy during her bath?)

The Ganas attacked Ganesha, but none were a match for him. After being defeated by Ganesha, the Ganas went to Shiva, and asked what to do? At that moment, Brahma and Vishnu, together with many Gods, noticing Shiva was home, came to visit (perhaps you can see why Parvati would want privacy during her bath?)

Brahma decided he would reason with Ganesh. But as soon as he got close enough to Ganesh, Ganesh attacked Brahma! Shiva rushed to defend his brother, and then fought Ganesha in single combat. At first, Ganesh dominated the battle, and was at the point of overcoming Shiva. Shiva realized at that moment that he could show no restraint with Ganesh - and so, with his full strength, he utterly destroyed the head of Ganesha with his Trishul.

Parvati had been admiring Ganesha, and saw his death. At the death of her valiant servant, she grew so angry that she manifested every one of the forms of Shakti, and began to destroy every world. The Gods were terrified, and sought the protection of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu - but found no refuge. So the Gods begged Shakti for mercy. Shakti said the condition of her pardon would be that Ganesha would be brought back to life - and equal to any of the Gods, equal to even Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahma.

The Gods begged Shiva to make Ganesha alive again. Shiva perceived the danger clearly, and knew there was no shame in being overmatched by Shakti's strength. But Ganesh's head had been completely destroyed! So he and sought about for a new head - and asked his brothers, and all the Gods to help him. Some offered them their own heads - but not any head would do - they would need to go north of there, and find and a head facing north. Indra commanded his vehicle, an elephant, to lay down and face north - at the same time that the Goddess Malini, drinking the the bath water of Parvati (which contained those bits of dirt that she had not removed to make Ganesh), gave birth to Parvati's desire - a reincarnated Ganesh. But this reincarnation had 5 elephant heads (because Malini had birthed him). Shiva combined the dead body with the reincarnation and the head of Indra's elephant. To confirm that Ganesh was in fact equal to anyone, all the Gods worshiped him in the way they would worship Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva or Shakti - and Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva all acknowledged him as their equal. Shakti was pacified, and retook the form of Parvati.

Ganesha had an "older" brother, Kartikeya. The two got along well, except once. Both wanted to be married first - Kartikeya said, he was eldest. But Ganesh said he was equal to Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu - and any God, and deserved the honor by right. Shiva and Parvati consulted together to find a solution to this problem: they told their two sons that whoever would return first after circumambulating every world would get married first.

Ganesh thought he was at a disadvantage, as Kartikeya's vehicle was a peacock and could fly very fast - much faster than Ganesh's mouse. After setting out, Ganesh received some help - Vishnu and Brahma helped him understand! And he found a wife, Buddhi, who also helped him become so much smarter. So Ganesh returned to his parents and asked them to sit together. He circumambulated them and said, "according to the Veda, circumambulating one's parents give virtues equivalent to that of circumambulating the whole earth. So, now you must get me married first." Shiva and Parvati were both very impressed by his intelligence. So they arranged for him to be married to Siddhi and Riddhi, the daughters of Vishwaroop Prajapati. In due course of time, they had two sons: Kshem and Labh.

Eventually Kartikeya returned from his journey, and saw Ganesh had already been married - and had sons. He felt sad, as if he had been cheated. And began to feel jealous. He greeted his whole family, then went off to Kraunch Mountain to meditate. Parvati felt the sadness of her son, and so she and Shiva went on pilgrimage to Kraunch Mountain. This is why having a Darshan of Kartikeya (studying Kartikeya) on the full moon day of Kritika Nakashatra is so auspicious, for remembering how Shiva and Parvati comforted Kartikeya destroys the regrets of lack of intelligence or strength.

[Kartikeya eventually married Devasena and Valli, and lived happily ever after, too - with Ganesh, Siddhi, Riddhi, Kshem, and Labh - but that is another story]

Some of the Avatars of Shiva - Shiva Maha-Purana 3

[The Shiva Maha Purana is organized to explore the relationship between beginning, nurturing and ending, and these three with form to permit understanding of Shiva - and explores the boundaries and interconnectedness of Shiva with Vishnu and Brahma to reveal some of the applications of Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga.  The Avatars, or manifestations, of Shiva can be studied to better understand Shiva, but also on how to better condition the manifestation Shiva, the form of form itself, through beginning, nurturing and ending: by understanding some of the ways in which Shiva has been manifested before, it is possible to manifest Shiva by emulation, or even by inspiration.]

How to Idolize Shiva
Sut said Shiva is idolized in eight ways: Sharva, Bhava, Rudra, Ugra, Bheema, Pashupati, Ishan and Mahadeva. The process of idolization is to understand the eight elements, or conditions, of beginning, nurturing and ending: these conditions are symbolized by solid, liquid, fire, gas, vacuum, boundary, light (understanding, observation), reflected light (what can be understood by inferential logic). The reason for this is that Shiva is the form of Dharma, nature, phenomenon, duty. Shiva is the form of unformed form.

Understanding the Five Most Important Manifestations of Shiva by Understanding the Less Important Manifestations of Shiva
Sut said that Shiva has been manifested many ways, but five were very important to know: Sadhojat, Namadva, Tatpurush, Aghoresh and Ishan. Understanding these is possible by understanding the less important manifestations of Shiva.

Sadhojat - manifestation by able fitness, goodness
Shiva was manifested as Sadhojat, from the excellent physique of Brahma during the 19th Kalpa. From the excellent physique of Sadhojat four disciples were manifested: Sunand, Nandan, Vishwanandan and Upanadan, each pale as if they had not seen the light before. Sadhojat, with his four disciples, gave Brahma the courage to begin again.

Namadeva - manifestation by pure exertion (exertion for exertion's sake, exertion of exertion)
Namadeva was manifested in the 20th Kalpa, Brahma exerted himself so much in meditation that he turned red. Exerting himself further, Namadeva was manifested: this Brahma recognized as a manifestation of Shiva. Namadeva later had four sons: Viraj, Viwah, Vishok and Vishwabhawan. All four had a reddish complexion, like their father.

Tatpurush - manifestation by joy in mastery
In the 21st Kalpa, Brahma wore yellow colors, and took joy that he was especially radiant. This joy in radiance manifested Tatpurush, who inspired the Shiva Gayatri: from Tatpurush, numerous entities manifested radiance, and wore yellow.

Aghor - manifestation by equanimity and non-discrimination, freedom from instinct
In the 22nd Kalpa, Brahma developed a deep meditative state. From this "black" state, Brahma manifested Aghor Shiva. Aghor Shiva manifested four black-complexioned entities: Krishna [no relation to the manifestation of Vishnu, in the Mahabharata], Krishnashikha, Krishnamukha, and Krishnakanthdhari. Each of these encouraged Brahma to begin again.

Ishan - manifestation by nameless love
During the Vishwaroop Kalpa, Ishan was manifested when Saraswati was manifested: from Brahma's love, the manifestation of Ishan then manifested Jati, Mundi, Shikhandi and Ardhamundi, each of which encouraged Brahma to begin again.

Ardhanarishwar - manifestation by interdependence
Shiva once was manifested as Ardhanarishwar ("half male half female"). Once, Brahma considered sexual reproduction was at the time impossible: there was no sexual differentiation at that time. By merely contemplating the possibility of sexual reproduction, Brahma understood that such an act would require two individuals to merge while remaining separate, and to combine force with form. Thus, Brahma manifested Shiva in a form that was a half-male, half-female: the male half was Shiva, the female half was Shakti. This transsexual manifestation of Shiva was male on his right side, and female on the left. The two halves were similar, and could merge - but were different, so they could separate into Shiva and Shakti. But when they merged, sexual reproduction did not result.

Shiva considered the matter, and both halves thought the failure was because they each required form and energy, force. So Shiva gave Shakti form, and Shakti gave Shiva force, energy. Now, when Shakti separated from Shiva, Shakti was feminine, and Shiva was masculine. Brahma was amazed at this difference: masculine and feminine. Brahma then tried to emulate them - becoming male and female.  Brahma did this by separating form from force, energy, and then combining them - as Shiva had.  When Brahma had become both male and female, Brahma explored whether the two sexes could simultaneously merge, and remain separate - and thus commenced the first sexual reproduction.

Each form of manifestation of Shiva has a corresponding energy, or power, Shakti; the former corresponding to a male, the latter as female: but these are not actually distinct. Form given to energy, or power, and power or energy given to form result in the same. The very first manifestation of Shiva was Mahakal, his Shakti was called Mahakali. The second manifestation of Shiva was Tar, his Shakti was Tara. Then Shiva was manifested as Bhuvaneshwar, his Shakti was Bhuvaneshwari. Next, Shiva was manifested as Shodash, who became known as Srividdyesh, his Shakti was Shodashi or Sri. Then, Shiva was Bhairav, whose Shakti was Bhairavi. Then Shiva was the famous Chhinamastak, his Shakti was Chhinamasta. Then, he was Dhoomvan, his Shakti was Dhoomavati. Then, he was Baglamukh, his Shakti was Baglamukhi. The ninth was famous as Matang, his Shakti was Matangi. His 10th manifestation was Kamal, his Shakti was Kamala. It is important to understand the origin of these ten manifestations was through Shakti.

Shweta - manifestation by learning
When, during the Varah Kalpa of the 7th Manvantar Vishnu illuminated all the worlds, 4 yugas repeated themselves in a cyclic way 12 times. In the first cycle, Shiva was manifested for the welfare of Brahmans - at the Kaliyuga of that cycle, Shiva was manifested as Mahamuni Shweta when Brahma sought to become a student. In the second cycle, the Sage Vyas existed as Satya, Prajapati and Shiva were manifested as Sutra, one of whose students was the famous Dundubhi. In the third cycle, Sage Vyas was manifested as Bhargava, and Shiva was manifested as Daman - who had four disciples, among whom Vishoka was very famous. In the Kali Yuga of this cycle that Shiva helped Vyas. The fourth cycle had Sage Vyas manifested as Angira, and Shiva as Suhotra - and again, as in other manifestations, Shiva had four students, one of whom was very famous (this time, Sumukh). And again, Shiva helped Vyas. In the fifth, Shiva was manifested as Kanka, who had four students, one of whom was famous. The sixth, too - and seventh. Vyas was manifested as Indra, and Shia as Jaigisatya, who had four disciples, one of whom (Saraswat) was very prominent. And in the eighth, and the ninth...

Nandi - manifestation by being one's own vehicle through joy
Sut described the manifestation of the vehicle of Shiva, Nandi. Shilad was a devotee of Shiva. Shiva gave to Shilad any gift he would ask for, and Shilad expressed his desire to have a son - just like Shiva. This manifested Shiva - as Nandi - as it was a form of Yagna. Nandi is the vehicle of Shiva, and Shakti. Shakti is Nandi's mother, and Shiva is Nandi's father. Nandi means "joy" (anand), and was brought up with great love and care - but he was incredibly apt, becoming proficient in all the scriptures within seven years. One day, two Brahmans came to Shilad, and said within the year Nandi would be no more. This made Shilad very sad. Nandi saw his father in sorrow, so he asked Shiva and Parvati for help - manifesting both Shiva and Parvati, Shilad learned from Nandi that Nandi would not die - but would nevertheless be destroyed, manifesting Shiva. Shiva then took some water from his hair and sprinkled it on Nandi, blessing Nandi - these became the five rivers known as Panchanad. Nandi was then made leader of the Ganas. Later, Parvati took Nandi under her guidance and considered him just like her own son. Nandi was married to Suyasha - the daughter of Marut, who manifested Shakti's "good achievement."

Bhairav - manifestation by freedom from regret
Once, Brahma asked Shiva to cut off one of his four heads, so that he would be able to turn away and not see everything. This manifested Bhairav, who carries the skull of Brahma in his hand like a begging bowl, begging alms to atone for the injury he caused Brahma. When Bhairav reached Vishnuloka, he was welcomed by Vishnu and Laxmi. Laxmi gave the learning by which all desires could be fulfilled in the skull begging bowl. Bhairav was thus gratified. When he received this learning, Shiva created a demoness named Brahmahatya - and told Bhairav to reach Kashi before her and leave the skull there, if he desired atonement. Bhairav rushed, arrived before Brahmahatya, and Brahmahatya could not enter Kashi - so she instead entered into a world that transected Kashi, the Patalloka. Understanding by the learning of Laxmi, and the demonstration of the demoness's transection of Kashi, Bhairav stopped carrying the skull, and letting the skull fall to the ground, liberated himself from the injury he caused to Brahma. What he had done was not right, but it was also not wrong - there never was any risk that he would not arrive in Kashi before Brahmahatya, for the demoness never could enter there. She was only able to approximate doing the "right thing," as Bhairav could. Brahma bore no ill will to him. His seeking atonement was causing him more misery than the injury itself.

Sharabha - manifestation by pacifying
When Vishnu was manifested as Narasimha, Vishnu's anger could not be subdued - even after killing Hiranyakashipu. Everyone tried to calm Vishnu down, and eventually Shiva asked Bhairav and Veerbhadra to try to calm him down too. But when Bhairav and Veerbhadra approached, Vishnu was about to pounce on them. To defend Bhairav and Veerbhadra, Shiva was manifested by them as a huge birdlion - Shiva in this form injured Narasimha, and carrying Narasimha into the sky, scared Vishnu so much that Vishnu became unconscious. When Vishnu woke up, he was much calmer - and praised Shiva. Vishnu gave Shiva the head of Narasimha to wear as a necklace, and the pelt to use as a blanket, to sit on, or dress himself in. The rest of the body was abandoned on a mountain.  This was not the first time Shiva had pacified Vishnu.  But Narasimha remains calm by the presence and efforts of his wife.

Grihapati - manifestation by interconnectedness
Once, there was a devotee of Shiva, Vishwanar, who also wanted a son just like Shiva. Shuchismati, his wife, also wanted a son like Shiva. Their son, Grihapati, manifested Shiva, as Lord of the Directions

Yaksheshwar - manifestation by humble self-sacrifice
Shiva also was manifested as Yaksheshwar, when the ocean churned hot with poison. Shiva drank the poison, rather than let it harm the universe: Shiva did not let it pass down his throat, and caught every drop that fell from his mouth in his haste to drink the liquid. But it is also true to say that Shakti prevented the liquid from passing down Shiva's throat, by throttling him; and that Nandi licked up the drops of liquid falling from Shiva's chin. This is because Shiva is equally manifested in each: he is equally his wife, and his vehicle. After the poison was drunk, the Devas and Asuras were able to continue churning - though eventually the arrogance of the devas resulted in their refusal to share the nectar with the Asuras.

Shiva was concerned at the arrogance of the Devas. So Shiva appeared in the form of a Yaksha (a demon), asking them what made them so arrogant as to not share with the Asuras? The Devas said they were arrogant because they were able to obtain nectar. Shiva then explained that they did not do this alone: the Asuras helped, Vishnu provided his back for the churning, Shiva drank the poison, and so many other beings helped too. "You aren't strong enough to even cut the grass by yourself," said Shiva, presenting them with a blade of grass. Each Deva tried then to cut the grass, but the grass bent this way and that under their various blades, escaping the slightest harm. The Devas were astounded. At that moment, Brahma said, with bodiless voice, that the Yaksha in front of them was none other than Shiva. The Devas understood the mistake of their arrogance immediately, and apologized to Shiva. When the arrogance of the Devas was destroyed, Shiva disappeared.

11 Rudras - manifestation by destruction
Once, the Devas went to sage Kashyap, the father of the Asuras, Devas, Yakshas, Dravidas, and numerous other beings - for they were tormented by the Asuras. They complained about the misdeeds of the Asuras, their step-brothers. Sage Kashyap became furious upon hearing about the misdeeds of his children. So sage Kashyap asked Shiva to help. Shiva said he would do anything to help. Sage Kashyap asked Shiva to manifest and destroy the Asuras. Shiva only said, "so be it."

Shiva then took birth in the form of 11 Rudras, whose name means "cryer, or one who makes crying," from the womb of sage Kashyap's wife, Surabhi. Their names were Kapali, Pingal, Bheem, Virupaksha, Vilohit, Shastra, Ajapaad, Ahirbudhnya, Shambhu, Chand and Bhav. And the Rudras, by many battles, made the Asuras cry. The Asuras did not know what to do at first. But eventually, the Asuras permitted themselves to be "destroyed" by manifesting Shiva. When the Asuras were destroyed, the Devas were relieved, and venerated these 11 Rudras to express their gratitude and indebtedness.

Atri - manifestation by devouring, consuming
Once, Atri, the a son born to Brahma before sexual reproduction, sat on the bank of the river Nivindhya, which flowed by the foothills of Trayakshakul Mountain. While sitting there, he manifested Shiva, in the form of devastating flames of fire from his head: having consumed his self, he began to consume the universe. The fire began to burn through every world. The Devas were terrified, and asked Brahma for help. Brahma did not know what to do, so Brahma took the Devas to Vishnu. Vishnu did not know what to do, so Vishnu took Brahma and the Devas to Shiva. Shiva knew what to do: he took Vishnu, Brahma and all the Devas to Atri. They interrupted Atri's meditation, and explained the problem, asking Atri to stop. Which he did. Atri returned home. Later, Atri's wife, Anusuya, gave birth to three sons: one manifested Brahma (as Moon), one manifested Vishnu (as Dutt) and one manifested Shiva (as Durvasa). Durvasa thought himself capable of testing the goodness of others: one day, he tested King Ambareesh, and observed that the King improperly broke his fast of Ekadashi and was about to curse the King when Sudarshan, the weapon of Vishnu, suddenly appeared to defend the King. Durvasa was endangered, and would have been destroyed except that Brahma told Sudarshan that that Durvasa was a manifestation of Shiva. This pacified Sudarshan; the King then begged forgiveness of Durvasa, who at that point had learned some humility.

Hanuman - manifestation by athleticism and service
When Vishnu was manifested in the female form Mohini, an embodiment of Kama, Mohini practiced the arts of seduction in preparation for her war against the Asuras. Mohini knew she was capable in these war skills when even Shiva was overcome by lust: if Shiva could be overcome by lust, no other could resist her! Shiva agreed to perform his duty of service, and athletically spar with his brother Vishnu (now his "sister" Mohini), by presenting his strength as a challenge to overcome.  Despite all his self-control, and his devotion to his wife who was there to help strengthen him against Mohini, Shiva unintentionally emitted semen. This semen fell to the ground, but before it touched the earth, was carried by the Wind to Anjana, an Aspara, the daughter of the Wind - who, with the permission of Shiva-Shakti, impregnated herself with it.

This pregnancy bore mighty Hanuman. Once, during his childhood Hanuman had swallowed the Sun, which he released only after the Devas prayed to him. The sun accepted him as his disciple and made him proficient in all the learnings. Hanuman started living with and serving the Monkey King Sugreeva as per the instructions of his teacher – the Sun. During the time of Rama's exile, Sugreeva developed friendship with him with the help of Hanuman. Hanuman helped Rama in finding the whereabouts of Sita, who had been abducted by the Demon King Ravana. Hanuman took a giant leap and jumped across the ocean. He went to Ashok-Vatika where Ravana had kept Sita. He gave Rama's ring to her and consoled her by saying that very soon Rama was going to arrive and release her from Ravana's captivity. He also burnt the whole Lanka by his burning tail and returned to Sri Ram to give him Sita's news. While the battle was fought between Rama and Ravana. Laxmana got seriously injured and became unconscious. Hanuman saved his life by bringing the whole of mountain, upon which the herb Sanjivani grew.

Shiva was manifested as Mahesh when Bhairav, who had been entrusted with the job of doorkeeper, became infatuated with Shiva's wife, Parvati. Bhairav would not let her go outside, and advanced upon her. So Parvati cursed Bhairav, that he would become a human for penance. He was born with the name Vetal. By Vetal's grief, and at his request for nurturing, Shiva at the time was manifested as Mahesh, and Shakti as Girija, and helped Bhairav achieve his penance, that he might grow to be a better man.

Vrishabh - manifestation by parental behavior
Vishnu's war with the Asuras, when he manifested the female form of Mohini, was prosecuted just after the churning of the oceans. Mohini manifested numerous seductive beauties to distract the Asuras, so the Devas would be able to drink the Nectar. The Asuras took these beauties away, to keep them for themselves. The Devas hesitated at first, thinking they should share the Nectar, but Mohini encouraged them: "see how the Asuras would not share these beauties I made?" Mohini revealed the treacherous nature of the Asuras as grounds for pre-emptive action in self-defense. When the Asuras returned to share the Nectar, they found it all drunk up. They immediately attacked the Devas, and a terrible ensued. Vishnu chased off the Asuras, though, and chasing them all to their hiding places, came upon those very beauties Vishnu had just made - and, ironically, was overcome by their beauty. Vishnu, and all the Asuras, were held captive by these seductive beauties a very long time.

As may be expected, Vishnu produced many children with these seductive beauties - and the Asuras. These were wicked children, and very cruel. They tormented every world. All the beings of every world asked Shiva for help - asking him to destroy the children of Vishnu, and rescue Vishnu. So Shiva was manifested in the form of an Ox (Vrishabh), and with his sharp horns tormented the children of Vishnu - each of which was "destroyed" when he manifested Shiva. Vishnu saw this harm done to his children, and his paternal instinct helped him remember his better sense, and he freed himself from the enticing snares of the seductive beauties he had made. Vishnu then sent one of his Sudarshan Chakras, one of his Weapons, to guard over these dangerous seductive beauties.

Dadhichi - manifestation by taking strength, manifestation by pride
Once, the Devas were defeated by Vrittrasur, and so they cached their weapons at the hermitage of the sage Dadhichi and sought the help of Brahma. They asked Brahma to tell them how Vrittrasur might be killed? Brahma told them that Dadhichi had manifested Shiva. Only a Vajra made from the bones of the sage Dadhichi would destroy Vrittrasur. The Devas decided among themselves that Indra would ask sage Dadhichi for his bones, so they might make a weapon of it to destroy Vrittrasur. After a while, Dadhichi was persuaded, and was proud to be of service.  He eventually, after extolling himself (as a blessing for a weapon would be made), took his own life by yogic power - this pride was necessary for the strength of the weapon. Indra directed Kamdhenu to extract the bones from the dead body of Dadhichi. These bones were given to Twashta to prepare for working. Twashta then gave the bones to Vishwakarma, who fashioned them into a Vajra. Indra killed Vrittrasur with this weapon. When Suvarcha, the wife of Dadhichi, came to know about the death of her husband, she cursed the Devas to become animals.

Aahuk - manifestation by honor
Once there were two devotees of Shiva, Aahuk and Aahuka. Shiva wanted to test the devotion of these two, and appeared before them as a Hermit. Aahuk honored his gust, and treated him well. Shiva then asked for shelter for the night. But the hut was only big enough for two people to sleep in. Aahuka, at the suggestion of his wife, would sleep outside in the warmth of his arms (he did not even have a Mblanket), as it would inappropriate to deny the hermit this simple request. Aahuk asked Aahuka to sleep in the hut, with the Hermit. Unfortunately, Aahuk was killed by a wild animal in the night, and when Shiva found Aahuk dead, he was full of grief. Aahuka consoled the Hermit, saying she was proud that her husband had died in the service of a Hermit - this was a noble cause, and honored her husband. Naturally, though, she was grieved at the death of her husband. She was so grieved, that she desired suicide. And, as they burnt the body of Aahuk, Aahuka leapt into the flames, killing herself.

Shiva no longer disguised himself, and blessed Aahuk and Aahuka, honoring them. "In your next birth, Aahuk will be born to a royal family, and become famous as Nala - Aahuka will be born as Damayanti to King Bheema of Vidarbha. I myself will appear in the form of a swan to help you both reunite. After a life of peace and pleasure, you will live in my home, as I lived in yours. When Shiva departed existence after saying this, his form remained established at that place as a Shialinga, the famous Achaleshwar linga.

Nabhag - Manifestation by sharing, and learning
King Nabhag was born as the 9th generation of Shraddhadeva, the descendant of Ikshavaku. Nabhag was the grandfather of Ambareesh. Once, when he left the Kingdom for a little while to gain his education, his brothers gathered the wealth of the kingdom and distributed it among themselves, usurping their brother. When Nabhag returned home, he demanded the return of his Kingdom. This was denied: their father had given them the wealth. He demanded an equal share of the Kingdom. He was denied again, and told to complain to his father. Nabhag then went to his father, and complained. His father asked if he had learned anything in his education? This education was his share of the inheritance.  He told Nabhag to go to sage Angiras: sage Angiras was unable to accomplish a Yagna, because of his attachments. "Help sage Angiras destroy his attachments, and accomplish his Yagna. In gratitude, the sage will offer you what you ask for: ask for the remains of the Yagna. This will become yours, and permit you to obtain your inheritance." Nabhag succeeded, and all went to plan - until Shiva was manifested in the form of Krishna Darshan, and said that the remains of the Yagna actually belonged to him, as it was his inheritance!

Nabhag denied Shiva: Shiva may have had a claim, but his father had explained that the sage in giving the remains to him made him the rightful owner. Shiva told Nabhag to ask his father what he thought about this. So, Nabhag went back to his father, and explained the situation, and his father understood his fault in giving what he had no right to give. His father said, it is best to give to Shiva what was his inheritance. So Nabhag returned and gave the remains to Shiva. Shiva was grateful, and told Nabhag he would give to him anything he wanted. Nabhag in this way obtained the help of Shiva.

Beggar - manifestation by nurturing
Once, there was a King of Vidarbha, named Satyarath. He was attacked by a neighboring King and killed in battle. His wife somehow saved her life, and took refuge in the forest - both the refuge of the trees, and the refuge of the yogic practice of forest dwelling. The Queen was pregnant at the time, and soon gave birth to a child. For a year, she nursed this child in the forest. When, one day, she was thirsty and getting water, she was killed by a crocodile. Her baby wept, for the "hunger" for his mother's nurturing. This manifested Shiva, as a beggar. The beggar united the child with a passing woman, and convinced her to adopt the orphan. The mother complained, she was so poor, she barely could feed and raise her own child, let alone another. She asked about the child, why didn't the beggar adopt the child?

Shiva revealed himself, and told her that the father of the child was King Satyarath, and of his mother's refuge in the forest. Shiva had not defended his father because his father had not asked for help. Shiva had not defended his mother because the mother had murdered her co-wife in her past life, and it was her penance to die by a crocodile in this life. As for the child, the child was a Brahman in his previous life, but never performed his duties, or achieved any honor. He abandoned his people. This abandonment was his penance. But the child had manifested Shiva by his grief for lack of nurturing. The child now needed the opportunity to devote himself to Shiva, and perform the honorable duties he neglected in his past life, and required a poor family to do this. Shiva told the woman that this was an opportunity to engage not only this child in Shiva's devotion, but her own child - who would face a similar fate as this child if she did not now ensure both children were raised properly. If she undertook the duty of raising this abandoned child, it would be well for her and for her birth-child.

The woman succeeded in feeding and instructing both her children (the nurturing of a mother is both physical and mental). Her adopted child, Satyarath's son, upon the perfection of his devotion, formed a pot full of gold for his family, and they were never again poor. He then went into the forest, for refuge and practice, where he met a Gandharva Princess that was attempting also to manifest Shiva-Shakti. The two were ultimately was married, and lived happily ever after with his mother and brother.

Upamanyu - manifestation by infantile simplicity
Upamanyu, son of the sage Vyaghrapaad, was brought up in his maternal uncle's home shortly after birth. One day, Upamanyu was very hungry: his mother could not satisfy his hunger with her milk. So she soaked wheat flour in water, and gave him this to drink - for there was no other milk in the home. But he would not eat the wheat, and cried. His mother told her baby that if he wanted milk, he should ask Shiva for milk, for Shiva was the only one able to make the milk available.

Upamanyu's mother had told him that Shiva lived in the Himalaya, and to the Himalaya his thoughts were now directed: remembering the mantra, Om Namah Shivaya, Upamanyu burned every world in profound sacrifice. Parvati and Shiva were amazed at the power of this baby, and desired to test the limits of the baby. Appearing before mother and child, disguised as Indra and Indrani, they said "we, Indra and Indrani are extremely pleased by your devotion. Stop worshiping Shiva, we will fulfill all your desires." Upamanyu would not stop; so the disguised Shiva and Parvati began to malign Shiva - Upamanyu became furious with them, and, directing himself against them, attacked who he believed was Indra and Indrani. Shiva and Parvati at this moment revealed themselves, and blessed Upamanyu, and promised Upamanyu he and Parvati would remain in the vicinity of Upamanyu's hermitage forever. This is how Shiva gained the name Sureshwar - for he appeared in the disguise of Indra.

Hunter - manifestation by seeking
When the Pandava Brothers lost their Kingdom to Duryodhan in the gamble, they went into the forest to live with their wife Draupadi. There, Krishna advised them to manifest Shiva - but they neglected that advice, and their distress increased. Later, Vyas instructed Arjuna in the Parthiva, making linga out of soil. Arjuna performed the Parthiva to honor Indra with such success that it burnt every world. Indra was asked by the beings of every world to give Arjuna whatever he wanted, to prevent the fire from consuming everything. But Indra told Arjuna he could not grant him the victory desired - for Aswatthama had partially manifested Shiva. But he would give him some of his bodyguards. Before leaving Arjuna, Indra advised Arjuna to manifest Shiva. When Arjuna stood on one leg and meditated upon the sun, at the moment he manifested Shiva, he was disturbed by a noise - a demon, named Mooka, disguised as a boar, was going to attack him! At that moment, he saw the boar chased by a hunter, who was none other than Shiva in disguise. Both Arjuna and Shiva killed the boar with their respective arrows simultaneously. Shiva sent his Ganas to retrieve the boar and his arrow - at the same time, Arjuana went to bring back his arrow and the boar. He began to argue with the Ganas, and then challenged Shiva to a duel (not knowing it was Shiva he was challenging). Shiva would not at first accept the challenge, and instead had his Ganas fight Arjuna. But Arjuna defeated them all. Shiva had to rescue his Ganas, and while fighting with Arjuna revealed himself: Arjuna immediately stopped fighting, and was ashamed he was fighting the one whose help he was seeking. Shiva consoled him, and gave his weapon, Pashupat, to Arjuna.

Manifestation by pilgrimage
Sut said there are 12 Jyotirlingas, or devotional objects of Shiva, for pilgrimage. Somnath in Saurashatra, Mallikarjuna in SriShail, Mahakal in Ujjain, Amareshwar in Omkar, Kedar in the Himalaya, Bheemashankar on the banks of the Mahakal river, Vishwanath in Varanasi, Trayambakeshwar on the banks of the Gaurtami river, Baidyanath at Chitabhumi, Nagesh between Darukvan dwarika and Bhet dwarika, Rameshwar at Betubandh, and Dhushmesh in Shivalaya. Of these, pilgrimage to Somnath can destroy the sorrow of birth, and the distress of disease. Pilgrimage to Mallikarjuna destroys desire, permitting achievement and becoming. As does Ujjain. Touching the linga of Omkar permits the nurturing of action into fruition.  The journey, the interaction, with these Jyotirlingas, understanding the location's significance, is what permits manifestation.

When Shiva was manifested for the Sixth time, at Bheema Shankar, to destroy the demon Bheema, this was at a place called Kamarupa in Assam. The Seventh manifestation was at Vishwanath at Kashi - pilgrimage here fulfills the desire of humanity. Shiva was manifested for the Eighth time on the banks of the river Gautami by the sage Gautam. Pilgrimage here to fulfil the desire of humanity. The devotee who pilgrimages to Baidyanath at Deoghar in Bihar, which King Ravana established, permits enjoyment - this is why it is also known as Kamanalinga. Devotees will carry the holy water of the Ganges from Sultanganj and the idol of Baidyanath in the months of Shravan and Bhadrapaksha.

Shiva was manifested a tenth time to destroy the demon Daruk, who lived in the Daruk forest. A devotee who pilgrimages to Nagesh never faces calamity. The eleventh manifestation was on at the Rameshwar linga, which was established by Rama while the bridge over the sea was built. The twelfth manifestation of Shiva, as Dhumeshwar, was after being pleased by Dhushma (the wife of Sumdha). Pilgrimage there permits accomplishment.

Loka Hatha Yoga receives the donation of two statues

We wish to thank K.H. for the donation of Sun Revealer Buddha and Moon Revealer Buddha for the entrance of our shrine.

A statue is used very similarly to a book, or picture: it is a tool of study, practice and teaching.  On a basic level, a statue's yoga pose may be learned by its "demonstration."  On a more subtle level, the symbolism in the art can help a person learn or remember the sutras, lilas, or other shastras associated with the moment depicted - and by reflection, whether undertaken by emulation or by meditation, understand them better.  On an even subtler level, statues can be connected with other statues or drawings, and help demonstrate connections between them.

This art of connection is a form of "temple architecture," the same theory applies to how people, or even different beings, live and work together.

Sun Revealer Buddha and Moon Revealer Buddha are portrayed as "brothers," though both are the Buddha Gotama.  They typically greet someone to a shrine or temple: however, this role of "greeter" is not limited to just these two statues.  Kamadeva and Rati, and numerous other images will sometimes greet someone to a shrine or temple; and sometimes a shrine or temple may not even have Sun Revealer Buddha or Moon Revealer Buddha.  Just as a workman may have a lot of tools, but no two workmen have all the same tools, some statues (tools) are important to particular study, practice or meditation - and there is considerable difference in the individual tools (consider the workman example again - how two hammers may be the same, but also unique).

The study of Temple Architecture indicates which direction to place a statue, or image, within a shrine, and the proper location for every shrine in a Temple, and the location for every being coming together in the Temple at the shrine.  Like an Asana, the perfection of this architecture is difficult, and often requires some modification to the existing situation, structures, landscape, and circumstances.

Samyutta Nikaya 2.10: The Buddha Gotama, seeing Surya (Sun) captured by the Asura Rahu, asked Rahu to free Surya. Gotama said, "Because the Sun desires freedom, Rahu will see the light" Rahu was terrified, and released Surya. Rahu fled to the refuge of Vepacitta, the King of Asuras. Vepacitta asked why Rahu was afraid and let free Surya? Rahu said, if I had not, I would have had no happiness or contentment so long as I lived - and I will live forever.  The truth cannot be hidden.

Samyutta Nikaya 2.09: The Buddha Gotama, seeing Candima (Moon) captured by the Asura Rahu, asked Rahu to free Candima. Gotama said, "Because the Moon desires freedom, Rahu will see the light" Rahu was terrified, and released Candima. Rahu fled to the refuge of Vepacitta, the King of Asuras. Vepacitta asked why Rahu was afraid and let free Candima? Rahu said, if I had not, I would have had no happiness or contentment so long as I lived - and I will live forever.  The truth cannot be hidden.

There was a time when Gotama "revealed" the moon and sun: after an eclipse, these two are "revealed" after being "hidden."  Reflecting on this helps with the understanding that, in fact, these two objects were there all along - just as our own Buddhi is revealed, just as our own Siddhi is revealed, just as our own Riddhi is revealed. We are all already free.  The process of our liberation is an internal one - rather than anything even a Buddha can do for us.  It is the same understanding of how "hidden" or "obscured" or "secret" knowledge is "revealed."  By growing stronger and smarter, we are able to understand more, explore further.

Rahu, too, "sees the light."  By our own actions, we come to understand that we have an interconnectedness to our world.  Our world can strengthen us, or weaken us.  But we can also, by our own interaction with our world, transform our relationship with it - we can help our world strengthen us, or weaken us.  We have the ability to ensure we are happy and content, or prevent our own happiness or contentment.  Truth, by its nature, cannot be hidden - as our own nature cannot be hidden.

Rahu subsequently became the Buddha Gotama's son (you may know him as "Rahula").  The name means "hinderance," or "obscurance" in the sense that an eclipse "hinders" the object that is "obscured."  It expresses, too, a process by which truth is revealed, despite the hindrance or obscurance of our ability to accurately perceive with our senses, or interpret those perceptions, or understand those interpretations.  By logic, we can reveal the truth.

Rahula hindered his father - that was his purpose.  His grandfather, Gotama's father, thought that by encouraging this grandchild, the Buddha would remain in a secular life.  But in reality, seeing Rahula was the catalyst for Gotama's practice which led to enlightenment, and his teaching of this practice.  The challenges we face are often the catalyst for our growth: an eclipse reveals to us the true nature of the sun and moon, and teaches us to trust in the impermanence of things - not only as a cause for distress, but as a reason to hope. For if we can come to understand not only that all things which begin mature and then end, we can come to understand the conditions for that beginning, nurturing and ending, and gain control over them.

A person undertakes Tirtha, a practice of pilgrimage, for such self-growth, self-transformation; it is appropriate they are greeted by Sun Revealer and Moon Revealer.  Ultimately, such a pilgrim may come to understand the true nature of Temple practice, the truest nature of space: space is no different than time, or action.  It is how we practice that matters as much as where, or when.

Before these two statues were donated to our Shrine, Sun Revealer was placed on a kitchen countertop to greet anyone who came to visit, revealing the Buddhist practices of the proud owner; Moon Revealer similarly welcomed people at the door.  This was appropriate, as the former owner did not undertake a temple practice, or make a shrine.  However, because we maintain a shrine, we have placed them facing the entry of the shrine, to greet anyone who visits it.

K.H. cannot physically carry these statues where he is going.  His laying down of this - and other - burdens exemplifies the perfection of his practice.  When a person is able to know when to take up rules of practice and know when let them go, they have gained mastery over the practice.  It is not necessary to carry sunlight or moonlight on a distant journey - and the Dharma, even if forgotten, can be re-learned.  We wish him well on his journey.

Hanuman Jayanti and Space Flight Day

Here, at Loka Hatha Yoga, we combine Hanuman Jayanti with Space Flight Day, commemorating humanity's first spaceflight.  As easily Hanuman leapt up to seize the sun (thinking it was a fruit), Colonel Yuri Gagarin touched the heavens - both came by similar paths to understand, truly for the first time, that all people and all beings of Earth share one planet, one life, one existence with each other and every world.

Hanuman's Logic: "Generalization" "Incrementalization"

Hanuman also demonstrated an application of Rama's logic.  Logic continues to evolve and improve through the eons: at this time, it came to be understood that some things are true, others false - and some things were partially true and partially false.  Though later, it would be understood some other things are neither true nor false, and the achievement of negatory logic was far from being imagined, this logic permits a practice called "generalization."

"Generalization" is the practice by which, under uncertainty of what is true or false, a statement may be made to become true or false.  For example, if it is unknown the year that the first human flew to space (April 12, 1961), it is nevertheless true to say that the first human flew to space in the 1960's, or the mid-20th Century, or in the 20th Century - or further generalizations may be made.  Just as it is wrong to generalize that "all such people are bad" through "prejudice."

In the Ramayana, we see many acts of this Generalization.  One of the most famous examples is when Hanuman was asked by Rama to bring an herb to save the life of Rama's brother, He did not know the herb, and could not tell if he had the true herb - or a false one.  He did know where the herb grew - on a mountain, in the Himalayas.  So he took back the entire mountain to Rama.

There are many other lessons to learn from Hanuman's logic.

Incrementalization is a technique of generalization: if A=B, and B=C, A=C.  Hanuman could not leap across the ocean all at once, but used the challenges he faced to spring forward and close the gap.  When his tail was on fire, he burnt down Lanka with it. Hanuman tore open his chest to show when we are separate and individual, we can serve - but when we are connected by friendship, we merge into one.

As the "Son of the Wind," he was the "Breath of Rama."  But he was not the voice of Rama: A=B does not mean B=C.  He did not rescue Sita, but did produce the conditions by which Rama might easily perform his duty: just as in the Udgitha, breath is understood to be one of the conditions of Om.

When humanity ventured to space, it was not done all at once.  We learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run, then to fly.  Then to soar.  Like Hanuman, by merely flexing, we can touch every star.  What then can we do with this strength when we let friendship and our work guide us?

About Hanuman

Hanuman Jayanti is the celebration of the birth of Hanuman.  Hanuman is a character in the Ramayana, based upon a real person who manifested the 11th Avatar of Shiva.  Like Vishnu, Shiva may be manifested in both major and minor forms.  As many of the other non-beings may, such as Brahma, Shakti, etc.  On Hanuman Jayanti, we celebrate both the person and the manifestation.

One of the most striking features of Hanuman is his description as a "monkey."  There are several reasons for this:

"Monkey" is not only modern American pejorative racial slang for a technologically inferior aboriginal human, it also is a term used by other cultures to describe technologically inferior aboriginal races.  But one important difference is the pejorative context in American slang: in the culture responsible for the Ramayana, technological inferiority carries none of the negativity: difference in ways of life, technology, even form is celebrated - rather than condemned.  That a society is less technologically advanced is neither respected nor despised.  However, "Monkey" references the technologically inferior tribes Rama relied upon for help.

"Monkey" also has biological implications: the Ramayana contains geographical, astronomical, biological and geological descriptions which permit a dating of the events to the ice-age, before the invention of written language: ice-age animals which at the time of the story were not yet extinct, places which were radically transformed in the global warming, and other similar references imply the age of the story.  But geographical and astronomical references are made as well - not only in the Ramayana, but in oldest Vedas that date to the same time.  For example, star descriptions may astronomically be dated to that distant time (summer solstice occurring in Ares, for example - stars "migrate" as the earth rotates on its axis, and this has not occurred since the end of the ice age).  The Puranas describe the number of years since the story, and this matches these estimates.

It was at this distant time that human civilization began to rise in prominence above those civilizations of protohuman species - and "Monkey" may be understood in this context to not only imply a technologically inferior culture, but a protohuman species.  Just as we would call a person a "Neanderthal" who is technologically inferior, or is actually biologically a Neanderthal, it is in this way "Monkey" may be read.  It is, perhaps, fruitful to speculate that this interaction with protohuman species which permitted the development of interspecies respect that still defines a Hindu perspective on the relationship between humans and non-humans, and an understanding of the evolutionary nature of our biology.  As our species evolves, so do our individuals over their lives.

But "Monkey" also has third, metaphorical implication as well: a "monkey mind" is slang for a mind that is easily distracted and governed by instinct.  Vishnu, too, manifested as monkeys on the path to enlightenment, and some of the adventures of Hanuman's monkey tribe may be seen to relate in this regard with Vishnu's own adventures.  Those who are more familiar with yoga will doubtlessly recognize other ways that "Monkey" is used to describe the "brute" strength, resourcefulness and logic which the character of Hanuman is renowned.

Shiva's full manifestations present the perfection or embodiment of various Yogas.  Hanuman embodies Bhakti Yoga through Niyuddha Yoga - Hanuman is the embodiment of the perfected warrior.  In this story, devoted to Rama, the manifestation of Vishnu.  Hanuman is humble, and does not command his tribe, but loyally serves the King of the Monkeys, Sugriva.  Hanuman's service to Sugriva solidifies the alliance and love between Sugriva and Rama.  Hanuman inspires the love and friendship which he embodies in everyone.

Practices on Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman's tribe of monkeys had red hair, and their flag was red.  On Hanuman Jayanti, it is customary to fly these red flags, and other red color, even putting on colorful face-paint of that color.  At the moment of Hanuman's birth (dawn), stop all practice of Yoga and study of Dharma. Serve a meal and develop friendship and love.  Then work.  Artha, Kama - Hanuman did not achieve his manifestation of Shiva by duty, but by friendship, and work.  His friendship and work resulted in the accomplishment of his duty.

Colonel Gagarin's spacecraft was called Vostok, the East: this was the direction of Hanuman, as well. His flag, too, by coincidence was red: he was a Soviet soldier.  When he was a child, he saw his home taken by the Nazis, and his family enslaved.  He was trained as a mechanic, and worked the docks, but by chance developed a casual interest in flying - but his piloting skills were noticed by the Air Force.  He was drafted into the Air Force, and learned science, engineering, and to fly a MIG-15.  Proving himself as one of the six best pilots of the Soviet Union, he was chosen among his peers as their best: he excelled not only in the skills of piloting, but as a scientist and engineer.

 Vishnu instructed that it is to the east we must look when considering our parents and past: just as the sun rises in the east - watching the sun rise and set, we may contemplate we, too, must become parents and come to understand the continuity of time and space that exists in our own lives.  We have been brought to this time and place by no accident, and just as our parents created the conditions of our present, we may create the conditions of our children's future.  Our destiny is what we shape it to be.

It is customary, too, today to read the story of Hanuman's life, in the Ramayana - and reflect on the human nature.  Just as birth does not make a human a superior or noble person, so too our species does not endow us with special power.  Any being may bring an end to their distress, achieve enlightenment, perfect their wisdom and become content.  Our nature is toward self-improvement, not only biologically, but mentally, spiritually and physically.  We share one world, and as any of us achieves greater heights, we all share in that victory.

Being your own friend - Udana 5.1, Samyutta Nikaya 45.2, Anguttara Nikaya 7.35, Anguttara 5.49, Theragatha 17.3

The Buddha Gotama said, why do you think I could be a friend? Because I do not harm you. Gotama repeated what King Pasenadi Kosala and Queen Mallika Kosala taught. "Of all your friends, is there one who is dearer to you than yourself? In the same way, all others are dear to themselves. If you love yourself, you will not harm the selves of others." (Udana 5.1).

When Ananda said to the Buddha Gotama that he thought dear friendship was half the holy life, Gotama corrected him: "do not say that, Ananda. Do not say that! Friendship is the whole of holy life. When a person has dear friends, they may be expected to develop and pursue the noble eightfold path. They will develop right view on seclusion, become dependent upon dispassion and cessation, dependent on relinquishment. They will develop right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. It is by My friendship that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, beings subject to death have gained release from death, beings subject to distress have gained release from distress. My friendship is no different than any other dear friendship." (Samyutta Nikaya 45.2)

What, then, is a dear friend? What is the self? A dear friend has seven qualities: a friend gives what is beautiful and difficult to give, a friend does what is hard to do and endures and forgives painful words from you, a friend endures what is hard to endure, a friend trusts you and keeps no secrets and valuables from you, you may trust a friend with your secrets and valuables too, when misfortune strikes a friend does not abandon you or look down upon you. (Anguttara Nikaya 7.35).

Separation from what is dear is distressing. And when King Pasenadi Kosala lost his dear friend, Queen Mallika Kosala, to death, the Buddha Gotama comforted him, saying, there is nothing accomplished by this distress, sorrowing or grieving except the gratification of your enemies. Remember your dignity: you are so close to attaining the goal. If you do not waiver now in the face of misfortune, you will pain your enemies. Now that you no longer have your friend, eulogize your friend, perform your family's customs and your duties - if you can see some gain in these acts. But if they do not accomplish your goal, ask yourself - as your friend would have - "what important work am I not doing right now?" Be a friend to yourself. Remember all that has a beginning must end. (Anguttara Nikaya 5.49)

And when the Buddha Gotama died, Ananda considered his duties, and whether any good would be accomplished by eulogizing his friend, or performing his family's customs. Having burned his cousin's body, as was the customs of their family, he remembered how the Buddha instructed in the worship of the directions. He was about to perform this ritual, but was overcome by grief. "Tonight, I cannot even tell which direction is which: I cannot tell what is up, or down, or north or south, east or west. None of the Buddha Gotama's teachings are clear. For one who is separated from their friend, no other friend seems to do. I long for my dear friend. All my dear friends, who I am separated from. All my old friends are now dead. I do not seem to fit in with these new and young friends I am surrounded by. So tonight I will remember Gotama alone, reflecting and musing like a bird who has gone to roost." Ananda paused as he reflected. "When He died, there was terror, my hair stood up on end! He was a virtuous, wise man - - - "

And then suddenly Ananada remembered how Gotama taught all things are impermanent. All things are always beginning and ending. He remembered all the teachings he had witnessed. He extinguished his self and becoming his own friend, became enlightened. Becoming enlightened, he perfected his wisdom, and became contented. After a long while, he spoke again to the assembly. "I had heard 82,000 teachings from the Buddha Gotama. And 2,000 more from his students. I have memorized and learned 84,000 lessons in total. Yet for all I heard I understood nothing until just now. I was like a blind man, holding a lamp." And then Ananda, inwardly collecting his mind, began to teach the 84,000 lessons he had learned. (Theragatha 17.3).

The very imperfect Rama - Celebrating Ram Navami

Rama was the seventh manifestation of Vishnu.  On Ram Navami, the birth of Rama is celebrated, and it is a time to reflect on the story of the Ramayana - the story of Rama's life.

One element of his life which is striking is his self-restraint.  Though a recurring theme, Rama repeatedly restrains himself from exercising his strength, or even defending himself, his family or his interests - when it is the duty of another to accomplish this defense.  This is echoed in how the characters about him also restrain themselves from performing the duty of another: notably, Hanuman does not rescue Sita, Rama's wife, (though Hanuman had desire, opportunity and ability to do so), Bharata refuses to rule in place of Rama during Rama's exile (to the extent of preferring installing Rama's shoes as King, rather than sit on the throne himself), Dasharatha fulfills the duty of his promise even when it is contrary to good sense to do so.  Rama tests his wife's loyalty by fire, not for any good reason, but because it is his duty to do so.

By perfectly accomplishing duty, many "wrong" things are done, resulting in numerous distresses which were avoidable. Self-restraint is by such examples, demonstrated to be a fault if taken in excess.  By so many examples, the question of when to restrain one's self from self-restraint is raised.

The answer does not lie in the Ramayana, but, when the Ramayana is taken as part of a larger story of Vishnu's several manifestations, the question's answer becomes apparent.  Vishnu subsequently manifested as Krishna.  That story, contained in the Mahabharata, echoes the several themes of the Ramayana to explore the several consequences of action, and discover that it is the intentions, means and methods by which duty is accomplished or not accomplished that matter most.  In the next subsequent manifestation, the implication of this expounded upon as Vishnu manifests the Buddha Gotama to teach the limits of duty can be discerned through reason - and logic.  By use of logic and reason, we may restore our world and our nature from the imperfections which define it so we might perform our duty perfectly.

The larger epic of Vishnu's many manifestations shows that, from beginning to end, Vishnu is playful, using play to discover and understand existence: Vishnu is unafraid to do something wrong to learn what is right, to interact with all aspects of reality to understand.  This method of learning and discovery can be contrasted with the explorations of Brahma, Shiva, Shakti, or the numerous other non-beings of non-existence, but ultimately is quite as effective as any other means of exploration.  A discovery is made of the friendship of Vishnu's "playmates," and insight made into our own role in this still uncomplete saga.

Through eight manifestations, Vishnu interacts, explores and understands, and what Vishnu discovers is eventually taught in a ninth manifestation (as the Buddha Gotama) - and acted upon by a tenth manifestation.  And though there are many reasons to find fault with Rama (even Rama finds reason to fault himself), by understanding that failure is necessary to discovering success, we may be more patient with Rama's failings - and our own.  Thus, we are encouraged to explore, discover and understand, and to play.

Reasons for practice

The Buddha Gotama said that a person may practice for their own benefit, for the benefit of others, for both the benefit of themselves and others, or neither for their own benefit nor for that of others.  However, regardless of the initial reasons for practice, a person comes by degrees to practice for the benefit of themselves and others.  Just as milk naturally separates into cream if left alone, just as butter naturally arises from churning milk, the best of a person's nature naturally arises through practice - whether that practice is undertaken selfishly and alone or for the betterment of others with others.

Matsya Jayanti

Illustration of Matsya from the very talented and sage Nina Paley
Matsya Jayanti remembers the first time that Vishnu was manifested - a kind of "birth" day. Vishnu manifested in the form of a fish. As usual, this is symbolic of many things. One connotation which should be considered today, especially, is that there is a saying, similar to the English phrase "law of the jungle" which this connotes: "law of the ocean" or "law of the fishes." (matsya nyaya = fish law) The concept of this phrase is a natural law which is brutal: a small fish must seek the protection of a large fish; might makes right; only the fittest survive. And in periods of chaos, when there is no ruler, no law, the strong devour even the weak who sought their protection - just as in periods of drought big fish eat little fish.

Vishnu's manifestation taught that a greater strength, a greater might, a greater protection is found through friendship, justice and duty. Fish Law is indeed brutal, but it is unnecessary: such periods of chaos are the result of our own negligence to duty and law, rather than a natural phenomenon. And in nature, there are many examples of social creatures which, like humans, can be utterly selfless - even in extreme crisis. Like these other highly social animals, human nature is not brutal, nor savage.

This does not mean we are inherently non-violent. Non-violence is a learned behavior, whether by the cruel tutelage of experience, or by the kind instruction of a teacher or parent. Without understanding better, we torture and enslave numerous other species for our benefit. But we have the capacity of reason and logic, which permits us to express other behaviors. It is possible for us to develop different relationships with other creatures, to tame rather than enslave, and even to tame ourselves, as well.

To what purpose do we enslave other beings? What purpose does it serve the grain remain in our fields, the cattle in our barns, the human beings who we compel by various means to work without pay or without adequate pay remain under our control? To what purpose would a person tame themselves for the performance of their duty, the obligations of friendship, or the demands of Justice? Time, Vishnu, will tell: in this first manifestation, there is introduced only the beginning of understanding. In subsequent manifestations, both major and minor, the practice permits greater understanding and perfection of practice: just as one Asana, well practiced, permits the accomplishment of many others, so too does the horizon of human understanding expand through the fundamental premise of rational and logical behavior.

Progressing from no ritual, to the horrifying rituals of sacrificing people, to the absurdity of sacrificing animals, to the sacrifice of plants, we come to understand that the true sacrifice is of ourselves - body, mind and heart. And then we come to understand the true purpose of the practice. At each moment when the horizon of understanding is reached, a subtler Dharma is discovered as Vishnu manifests again. We catch glimpses of Vishnu, swimming and playing in the ocean of Dharma.

But until we can transform our nature, no matter how long we can hold our breath or how much air we bring with us, we cannot remain under the waves like a fish forever. And there are depths to the water where no light reaches - and monsters, like horse-faced Danava, hide having stolen the Vedas. There is a barrier to human knowledge, to human understanding which even rationality and logicality cannot breach.

But thankfully, like Vishnu, by tried and true methods we may not only change our nature for a better one - to explore and play in every time and space, in every world - but manifest ourselves in ways that permit us to interact with other beings to play and learn and explore with them, too.

The method of ancestor veneration

A person should make sacrifices, among others, to fulfill the obligations their deceased ancestors are no longer able to. This practice is important, for it requires a person to first learn what the obligations of their ancestors were - to understand their ancestors, and themselves. Though commonly mistaken for a worship *of* the ancestors, the difference is important to remark upon: veneration of ancestors is the beginning of fulfilling this obligation.

A human being is, biologically, more or less equal to the combination of their mother and father. They are, also, more or less, equal to a combination of two of their four grandparents. And equally two of their eight great-grandparents. And equally two of their sixteen great-great-grandparents. (and so forth). They express the limits of their biological propensities of the two halves which have combined to form them.

The capacity to attain these biological limits of potential is an expression of the individual's strength of mind, body and heart. A person may have the propensity toward alcoholism, but need not become (or remain) an alcoholic. A person may have the propensity toward any number of diseases, but may manage or even avoid them. A person may have the propensity to be quick to anger, but may learn new behaviors.

A person explores the limits of their biological potential by the help of parents, friends, teachers, colleagues, other human beings, other non-human beings, and insight. To these, a person owes a remarkable debt. Yet by attempting to repay this debt, a person comes to discover that their ancestors shared the same debt - and the victory (or defeat) of their ancestors against these very same limits.

Yet it is possible to also exceed the limits of their biological potential. And this is accomplished by merging not only the two halves two humans, but by merging the self with other selves as well. When we are separate, we are able to serve. But when we are connected through devotion, we merge. By the veneration of heroes, human or otherwise, we are able to exceed the limitations of our biology through emulation, but also by adoption: discovering new potentialities of existence, it is possible to alter the form our bodies, minds and hearts were given by biology to achieve our goals.

All disease has a cure, all injury may be healed, all behavior may be modified or changed, the limitations of understanding have no limits. Success - not failure - is our truest birthright. And just as we may have many teachers in our lives, we may become adopted by many others - human and otherwise - to gain the noble peers and lineage we lack.

Understanding the failures - and successes - of our ancestors allows us to take what was good and leave what was bad; this discernment permits us to improve ourselves as human beings. Following in their footsteps, accomplishing their sacrifices, allows us to fulfill our own destiny - and understand their hopes for us.

Therefore, support not only your parents as they supported you, but maintain your family line and traditions, become worthy of the inheritance and sacrifices your dead ancestors made for you. This is done by restraining yourself from wrongdoing, guiding yourself toward good action, training in a profession, supporting a spouse, and preparing your children to assume your duties - and those of your ancestors.

This is how this is accomplished: by attending to your teacher's lessons, desire to learn, dutifully serving your teachers, receiving instruction from them. Training in self-discipline, learn every branch of knowledge. Respect your teacher's teachers.

This is the result of the teacher-veneration: you will honor your spouse by not disrespecting them, being faithful to them, sharing authority with them, giving gifts to them. You will be well-organized, kindly disposed to your in-laws, your household workers, being faithful and loyal, dependable, looking after the household you share, skillful and diligent in all your duties. And you will respect your friends and colleagues by generosity, kind words, acting for their welfare, by being impartial and honest with them. You will protect them when they are vulnerable, protect their wealth and what they hold dear, be a refuge for them when they are afraid, do not abandon them in misfortune, honor your friendship with all their descendants.

This is the ground on which the sacrificial fire is kindled: workers, laborers, and servants should be respected: allocate work according to their aptitude, provide fair wages and food, look after their sick, share in special treats, give reasonable time off from work. Be willing to start early and finish late when necessary, take only what is given, do work well, promote your shared good reputation.

This is where the smoke from the sacrificial fire goes: you will come to treat Brahmans with respect by kindness, generosity, hospitality, and providing for material needs. You will restrain yourself from wrongdoing, guide your actions, think compassionately, do not ignore what you ought to know, clarify your knowledge, take the path to happiness.

And what is the sacrifice made upon the fire?

Simply this: yourself, to the obligations of your lineage. Find victory where your ancestors found defeat, honor their ancient alliances. Become harmless - practice Ahimsa.

Achieving and escaping the Brahmaloka - Samyutta Nikaya 46.54

The Buddha Gotama answered the question, what is the purpose of love, kindness and friendship?

The cultivation of mindfulness as a condition for enlightenment may be undertaken with love, kindness and friendship, for they share the following conditions: curiosity, energy, enjoyment, peace, concentration and equanimity result in detachment and dispassion. Detachment and dispassion results in logical, non-instinctual behavior, a freedom from distress. This permits a person to master their perception: they can see something as beautiful or repulsive, or not beautiful or not repulsive, or somewhat beautiful and repulsive and somewhat not beautiful and not repulsive. Equanimous, mindfully and clearly aware, a person may understand that freedom from distress is truly beautiful, worthy of love, kindness and friendship. Such excellence represents the perfection of this freedom from distress: such a person, having achieved this mastery, can no longer become distressed by what is repulsive or beautiful.

Yet if a person does not achieve this excellence and proceed toward arahantship, they shall wake from this world into the Brahma world, as if from a dream. How does a person escape the distress of the Brahmaloka? How, then, does a person perfect their arahantship, having perfected their freedom from distress, and avoid the Brahmaloka (to achieve the purpose of practice directly)?

The person must apply their enlightenment to the resentment of all forms, their resentment of all sensory reactions to those forms, their disregarding of perceptions of diversity through monoism. Consider the infinitude of space, the limitations of perception, the limitations of knowledge. Achieve the perfection of the jhanas, and entering the loka of infinite space through love, kindness and friendship for the infinitude, for the limitations of knowledge, abandon sensory reactions to form, abandon all form. Formless, embody joy through enjoyment of joy; love by loving Love.

This state of love, this state of joy, is none other than the contentment that arises from the perfection of wisdom after enlightenment. Yet the work is not yet done: having embodied love and joy, pass utterly beyond consciousness. Think upon the thought of thinking, thinking upon thinking, think: "there (in this thought of thinking), there is nothing." This is the achievement of wisdom which permits the final attainment of contentment: for one who truly understands this, there can be no longer any discontentment.

Isaac Newton Day!

The Dharma on this page is usually the result of a combination of effort by the various Teachers of Loka Hatha Yoga, but because of the significance of today's holiday, we specially recognize the efforts of Gary TwoHorse Green, a Teacher of Bhakti Yoga who first instructed in the importance of venerating Sir Newton, and is the reason we celebrate this holiday. He said that the best way to venerate Sir Newton was by remembering that Sir Newton invented the doggy door.  We have also consulted with local mathematician and historian, Professor Doctor Edward Bonan Hamada of Colorado Mesa University - and encourage everyone to spend some time learning mathematics and history today from your own instructors, in honor of Isaac Newton Day.

Sir Isaac Newton began developing the method of Calculus (calculation) in 1664 when he read recent work on optics and light by Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. In repeating their observations, Newton became curious at the refraction of light by a glass prism. Inspired by the mathematical reasoning of René Descartes, he investigated – and through a series of increasingly elaborate and exact experiments, saw mathematical patterns in the phenomenon of color.

Newton discovered that white light could be “broken” into numerous colors (a “rainbow”), and then recombined into white light by the use of prisms and lenses. Measuring the composition of white light’s elemental colors, Newton understood the properties of each color were different: the same white light, being bent and slowed more or less depending on whether it went through the thick or thin part of the triangular prism, resulted in a continuous pattern of color. Continuous patterns can only be understood mathematically through calculation.

Newton realized the size of each color band in the rainbow could be algebraically predicted through a continual calculation – if the angle through which it was refracted on entering or leaving the prism was known. Soon, no matter the angle of refraction, he could anticipate the result. This concept, of holding a factor constant, and calculating the effects of variables, led to the scientific method.

Newton kept his method of mathematics (known as Calculus) hidden from all but his closest friends until 1704, when he published a book on it he titled “Opticks.” Today, we spell the word “Optics” (no “k”): over time, written English language has changed, but the words are still spoken the same way. What do you think Newton would make of our modern use of emojis and emoticons? :)

Calculation is different than simple counting: calculation is undertaken through algorithms which anticipate the outcome, rather than measure it. Series of additions and subtractions can be systematically organized through algebra. These systems contain elements (the series, and their required additions and subtractions). Understanding how each system’s elements interact permits the result to be calculated, or anticipated.

“Calculation,” or “calculus,” is the process of mathematics which enables continuous computation. “Computation” is a system of logic which permits the truthfulness of assumptions to be tested by comparing the relationship of known facts to uncertain facts under varying (variable) conditions. Computation was invented by Muḥammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, and forms the foundation of modern philosophical reasoning - an achievement which Loka Hatha Yoga also celebrates as a holiday. Continuous computation through calculation permits an observation of the interactions of elemental components which formulate the computations, even as they varied (in algebra, these elements are known as “variables” and “constants”). In short, Newton’s method of calculus permitted modern scientific method, which relies on experimentation to control the variation and constancy of these algebraic elements.

Newton was the first scientist. Though his predecessors and teachers studied natural phenomenon through al-Khwarizmi’s algebraic philosophy, Newtonian Calculation permitted people to understand how these things worked.

Newton is known not only for understanding light, but for discovering gravity – and the laws which govern force in the Universe, creating the science of Physics. He also created the science of History, beginning by publishing an edition of Geographia Generalis by the German geographer Varenius in 1672, and, after he died, his friends published his work on The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728). He also tried applying the scientific method to theology - Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John (1733) was also published after he died, and is famous for his many other achievements in science and mathematics, and his numerous inventions, one of his greatest achievements is often overlooked... the doggy door!

Newton couldn't have made such an impact on the world of mathematics through advances in optics if he hadn't been experimenting. Coincidentally, it was his experiments in optics which led to him having an impact on the pet world as well.

The story goes that during these experiments, Newton's cats kept bothering him, wanting to come in and out - as felines are apt to do. At some point, he became irritated sufficiently and altered his door so the cats could come and go as they pleased. The invention of the cat door quickly led to the invention of the doggy door.

Yet there remains no direct evidence that Newton actually invented the pet door – only stories. Did he, or didn’t he? Newton’s method of science can help us understand not only whether this story is true, but if it is false, the reason why it came to be understood as true. But this mystery will not be solved by numbers: we require a different form of science, “History.”

Newton created history as a kind of non-mathematical science. But even though no mathematics is required, history uses the same method as mathematical sciences do. To practice historical investigation requires we compare the unknown fact to known facts, just as in any scientific investigation.

In practice, a historian will take facts which were known to have happened and attempt to understand whether a third fact did happen. For example, if it is known that there were cookies in a jar, and now they are gone, and it is also known that cookies cannot leave the jar without someone taking them from that jar, a historian would acquire the knowledge that the cookies were taken from the jar. Further investigation could result in the discovery of who took the cookies.

The following statement is true – but is this proof that Newton invented the pet door? "No mention is made by Newton in any of his correspondences of any pets"

By analyzing this, we see it is not evidence that Newton either had cats or did not have cats: while it is true, not everyone writes about their pets. Maybe he just didn’t write about his pets! We need proof – one way or another – that Newton either had cats or did not. The following is also true – is it a fact? "At a meeting of the Royal Society on 24th December 1719, Newton mentioned his dog in passing: she had recently gone blind with cataracts"

This is indeed a fact – one which proves Newton had dogs. But it is not a fact which proves Newton had cats. We do know Newton kept a dog, but nothing certain about whether he kept a cat: we need additional information. Let’s continue our investigations...

What about these facts? Do they prove Newton had cats? "A biographer of Newton, Richard S. Westfall, in his book “Never at Rest” said Newton was a vegetarian because he loved animals, and could not tolerate the necessary cruelty required to kill them." "Voltaire, a contemporary of Newton, said Newton had cultivated this sentiment of humanity, and he extended it to lower animals. With Locke he was strongly convinced that God has given to them a proportion of ideas, and the same feelings which he has to us. He could not believe that God, who has made nothing in vain, would have given to them organs of feeling in order that they might have no feeling. He thought it a very frightful inconsistency to believe that animals feel and at the same time to cause them to suffer. On this point his morality was in accord with is philosophy. He yielded but only with repugnance to the barbarous custom of supporting ourselves upon the blood and flesh of beings like ourselves, whom we caress, and he never permitted in his own house the putting them to death by slow and exquisite modes of killing for the sake of making the food more delicious. This compassion, which he felt for no other animals, culminated in true charity for men. In truth, without humanity, a virtue which comprehends all virtues, the name of scientist would be little deserved."

No, while it demonstrates Newton liked animals, and had a dog, all we know is if he had cats, he would have loved them. What about this? "Newton was known to have disliked pets in the home, believing them to be dirty and troublesome."

This seems to contradict what we understood so far and may actually be not true: Newton certainly kept a dog! Who says this, and why? Do they have proof of this statement? It contradicts all the facts we have so far, and there is no reason to believe this statement: We still need proof that Newton had cats.

Is this fact evidence that Newton had cats? "John Maynard Keynes, the influential economist, who bought a large number of Newton's non-scientific papers, especially on alchemy, said in his memoirs that Newton remarked his cats were growing fat on Newton’s uneaten food (Newton worked so hard that he ignored the meals brought to him by friends concerned he was not eating)." This fact requires we take Mr. Keynes word for what those letters say – and whether we agree or disagree with his conclusions of economics, he is a scientist who is trustworthy in reporting facts truthfully. This would be proof Newton had a cat. We can compare this truth to the unknown truthfulness of the story of the cat door, and conclude:

1. Newton had cats
2. Newton liked animals enough to be responsive to their needs
3. It is likely that Newton would have damaged his door to permit his cats to come and go as they liked

However, other scientists practicing history, specifically the historians S. Brodetsky, Louis Trenchard More, and Alfred Rupert Hall say that people who knew Newton said “Newton kept neither dog nor cat in his chamber” (chamber is a fancy word for “room”). But maybe Newton simply didn’t own pets during that time? Some people will own a dog or cat, and then not own a dog or cat. So, what do you think?

Did the inventor of calculus, the first scientist, the man who discovered gravity and the fundamental laws of physics, and accomplished so many other great things, also invent the doggy door?

Science teaches us that sometimes, we don’t know for sure whether something is true or not. Newton saw this in mathematics, where the idea that the calculation of 1/x may come close to equaling zero – but never equal zero – seems to counter every day experiences. We are unused to either mathematical or practical limits to our understanding. Newton also saw this in history, and non-mathematical science. We like to think things are very certain – true or false. Yet we have seen this in trying to understand if Newton invented the doggy door. We cannot say Newton invented the doggy door, but we also cannot say that he did not invent the doggy door. We may only say it seems very likely he did. This “theory” is as reliable as Newton’s theory of gravity.

Other theories form the foundation of our modern understanding: we must function upon premises of belief, whether those beliefs are in a theory of gravity, a theory of subatomic particles, Darwin’s theory of evolution, or our own theory that Newton invented the doggy door. And sometimes, as technology improves, we are able to get definite proof: the theory of bacteria was confirmed when technology improved so that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek could actually see microscopic organisms. Newton recognized some calculations can never be computed, and that some things cannot ever be known for sure. The “limit” of understanding requires a reasonable scientist to develop confidence in their beliefs: even when we do not have positive proof and all the facts, it is possible to still make a logical conclusion - that he invented the doggy door.

An Example of Brahmacharya

Isaac Newton was engaged to be married during his teens, but never married. Instead, he took a vow of chastity – a Christian oath of virginity, to abstain from sex. Isaac Newton also practiced the Christian ritual of confession – by writing his sins in a journal, addressed to God. One of these journals remains, from his childhood: he confesses to working on the Sabbath, by washing and “making pies on Sunday night.” He also confesses to “idle discourse on Thy day and at other times”, “Peevishness at Master Clarks for a piece of bread and butter” and other childhood misdeeds, like fighting with his sister and wishing some people might die.

Newton did not continue his journal throughout his life. With time, he would adopt increasingly Humanist – and subsequently Atheist – beliefs and discontinue confession and other Christian practices. When he died, he refused the last rites of a Christian.

Indeed, with time, as he left his childhood faith behind, he learned to play cards, go bowling, and do other things Christians should not do. But he never did break his vow of chastity – and always tried to keep his word.

In recognition for his important work, Isaac Newton was Knighted by Queen Ann of England on April 16, 1705, in a ceremony conducted at Trinity College, Cambridge. At the time, that honor was usually granted to military officers and senior figures in the national and local governments, as well as to rich merchants and others with political connections. Newton made this coat of arms for himself.

Alejandro Jenkins of the University of Costa Rica (2014: Isaac Newton’s sinister heraldry, published by Cornell University: http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.7494) studied the origins and meaning of this unusual choice and, investigating Newton’s personal writings, discovered Newton was secretly a Humanist (which is a kind of non-dogmatic practice of theism which aims to improve human affairs as a form of worship). Humanism arose in reaction to the English Christian Theocracy of the 16th Century, a period of time when religious law was used to justify genocide, enslavement, despotism – and even the execution of the King and Parliament.

The left-dominance chosen by Newton suggest through symbolic signs that he was a bastard (though “bastard” means without a father, for knights like Newton, it means without inheritance, or suggesting a new lineage – only men were able to own property in ancient England).

This may speak to his belief that his scientific revolution would begin a new era. But perhaps it is also more personal: Jenkins discovered Newton’s father died before he was born, and Newton, having been born on Christmas Day without a father, was quickly abandoned by his mother to be raised an orphan before later being re-adopted by her. The choice of bones is also an important symbol. Newton looked into his family history and found a distant ancestor carried the symbol of bones during the Crusades. But Newton, may have also intended them to represent a central belief in humanism: that all humans are equal in death.

Professor Doctor Edward Bonan Hamada


I'm not so sure that Isaac Newton is someone who meets a standard of humility. It was actually Leibniz that made the calculus accessible to students.

Since you are a Hatha Yoga practitioner it might be of interest to you that the numbering system we use today originates in India and makes its way to Western Europe via the Muslim world. What is brilliant in the Hindu numbering system is the use of '0'. While some other cultures had a notion of a place holder it was the use of the symbol '0' that allowed the Hindu mathematicians to symbolize 'emptiness' and think about really large numbers like a 'palya' or 'radju'. The Greeks had long debates about whether or not one could talk about 'nothing' but little did they know that 2000 years later there could be an entire television series about 'nothing' (Seinfeld).

I suggest that you watch the series The Story of Maths with Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy. It is on Netflix and the first three episodes are well worth the time. The Story of 1 is a great starting place.

0 and 1. Yin and Yang. In Daoist energy work the higher levels of practice are looking for naturalness, emptiness and compassion. The idea of emptiness like the idea of '0' is not about nothing rather it is more closely related to the idea of space. In Zermelo - Frankel set theory the entire mathematical universe is created from the empty set (or at least we think so).

Take care. Aloha, Ed

Further resources:

Green, Gary TwoHorse: Inventor of the Doggy Door, Sir Isaac Newton 
Aczel, Amir: Finding Zero

Story of 1: PBS Home Video
Story of Maths: Athena Home Video.