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Spiritually Adorned By Earrings

December 27, 2010 on 11:00 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: Can you recommend an unusual earring that is both potentially spiritual and beautiful? Ginny M., Atlanta, GA


Kundalini Spiral Earring

Dear Ginny: I have at Ma’s India just what you are looking for. Beautiful, spiritually evocative and unusual within one earring: Kundalini Spiral Earrings in sterling silver with amethyst. I find it interesting that this kundalini earring, symbolizing spiritual energy rising from the bottom of the spine or the first chakra to the seventh chakra, has as its accompanying stone, the amethyst, a stone full of spiritual significance.

Earrings, some beautiful, some ugly, some spiritual and some profane, from time immemorial have been used by women and men to adorn their ears. From the peacock that preens its feathers or other birds that brush their coats to a luster, the art of adornment is common to both human and animal species. I have to admit however that I have never seen an animal wearing an earring although I’ll bet that some animal lovers who dress their dogs would love to do so.

Some people like clip-on earrings; some like earrings that require a piercing of the ear. In all cultures, babies have peered ears. Ear piercing is one of the oldest known forms of body modifications. Early evidence of earrings worn by men can be seen in archaeological evidence from Persia. Images of soldiers from the Persian Empire actually showed them wearing an earring. Other evidence of wearing earrings can be seen in Exodus 32:1-4. When Moses was up at Mt. Sinai, the Israelites demanded that Aaron make a graven image of a god for them and he then commanded them to bring their son’s and daughter’s earrings to him. Unfortunately, as was reported, that’s when Moses, in a fit of anger, threw down the Ten Commandments. For this show of anger, he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. I have always thought that unfair since I am sure he repented of his anger.

Among sailors, a pierced earlobe was a symbol that the wearer had sailed around the world or had crossed the equator. It is commonly held that a gold earring was worn by sailors in payment for a proper burial in the event that they might drown at sea. Should their bodies have been washed up on shore, it was hoped that the earring would serve as payment for “a proper Christian burial.”

Who knew so many stories could be told of earrings? Do you have one you’d like to share? I’d be glad to publish them.

Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

Malas: A Best Friend for a Meditator

December 24, 2010 on 11:00 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I am starting out on my spiritual life and somebody told me I should get a mala. What do you think? Jeff P., Tulsa, OK


Sandalwood Mala

Dear Jeff: When you agree to wear a mala, you are doing more than starting out on your spiritual life. A mala is a great indicator of not only an attempt to bring spirituality into your life, but to identify yourself as somebody who has made a spiritual choice in their lives.

I particularly adore a Sandalwood Mala when it has large  beads. It is because it is long enough to be worn both as a mala and jewelry piece. Sandalwood is known to have a very high energy field and both the scent and the bead are considered to be the most popular in both Tibetan and Hindu cultures. The scent is of a high spiritual vibration and has been the best wood for japa and meditation malas for many centuries. Used by the Aborigines to the Zoroastrians, Hindus, Tibetans and Buddhist, sandalwood is far and above the best mala to have.

A Japa mala has 108 beads used for keeping count while reciting, chanting or mentally repeating a manta or the name or names of a deity. This practice is called japa mala. When one repeats a mantra and does not want to lose count of their repetitions, one uses a mala so that one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra. One repetition is usually said for each bead while turning the thumb clockwise around each bead. In some traditions or practices, doing a mala may call for counterclockwise motion. When arriving at the head bead or Guru Bead, one can then turn the mala around and start saying mantra in the opposing direction. The Guru bead is the 109th bead on a mala and counting begins again with the bead next to it.

If more than 108 repetitions are to be done, then sometimes in Tibetan traditions, grains of rice are counted out before the chanting begins and one grain is placed in a bowl for each 108 repetitions. Each time a full mala of repetitions has been completed; one grain of rice is removed from the bowl. Often, practitioners add extra counters to their malas, usually in strings of ten. These may be positioned differently depending on the tradition; for example some traditions place these strings after every 10th bead. This is an alternative way to keep track of large numbers, sometimes going into the hundreds of thousands, and even millions.

Malas can become your best friend, always there when you need to still and quiet your mind. What a gift!

Thanks for writing. Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

Thich Nhat Hanh: A Living Monument to Non-Violence and Peace

December 22, 2010 on 11:00 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: How old is Thich Nhat Hanh? Is he still writing? Reba M., Chattahoochee, TN


Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Reba: Thich Nhat Hanh is 84 years old and he is not only continuing writing, but he is also recording. I am speaking specifically about his latest Drops of Emptiness, a CD full of chants that bring you into a place of silence and peace.

I think that one of the more noteworthy things about Thich Nhat Hanh is that for a man who has lived an involved, complicated and full life, his teachings are so simple and direct. Thich Nhat Hanh’s method of expression brings one into a space of peace and emptiness. In his  CD Drops of Emptiness, arranged by Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Kjong with monks and nuns of Plum Village, he has compiled songs, chants and poetry from Plum Village. I think that is how one can differentiate those who teach about peace and spirituality and those who actually live it. One has only to hear Thich Nhat Hanh’s chants or read his prose to know that Thich Nhat Hanh is a true spiritual teacher, who walks his walk and talks his talk.


Drops of Emptiness

Thich Nhat Hahn joined a Zen monastery in Vietnam at the age of 16 and was fully ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1949. Thich Nhat Hanh was part of a grassroots relief organization which rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools, established medical centers and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. When Thich Nhat Hanh came to the U.S. to study and lecture at both Princeton and Cornell, his focus at that time was to urge the U.S. to withdraw from Vietnam and he was influential in urging Martin Luther King to also publicly oppose the war. In 1973 the Vietnamese government denied Thich Nhat Hanh permission to return to Vietnam and he went into exile in France. As of 2007 Thich Nhat Hanh has been based at the Plum Village Monastery in the South of France, giving lectures and talks. Many people from all over the world come to Plum Village to partake of the talks and seminars of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh has published over 100 books and continues to be active in the peace movement promoting non-violent solutions to conflict. Thich Nhat Hanh’s own biographical material wherein he admits to enduring and overcoming his own reactions to his struggle are very inspiring.

A tiny man with a huge impact upon the spiritual world, Thich Nhat Hanh continues to amaze us through his simplicity and his never-ending stance of non-violence.

Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

2011 Tibetan Art Calendar

December 20, 2010 on 11:00 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I just saw the 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar. It is so rich in Tibetan imagery. I am in love with it. Jules P., Lancaster, PA


2011 Tibetan Art Calendar

Dear Jules: So am I. It’s on my “what a deal” list also. There are twelve extraordinary full color reproductions of paintings from the Indo-Tibetan thangka tradition in this 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar. These are sacred spiritual paintings or thangkas by Tibet’s master painters replicating deities, mandalas, icons and other sacred and esoteric symbols.

For those not in the “know,” thangkas are visual expressions of the philosophy and psychology of Buddhism painted on cotton or linen canvases that are rolled up when not on display. They often depict scriptures and scenes from the lives of saints. Buddhist residents in Tibet have long been creating these thangkas since the 15th century. This current 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar contains thangkas from the 16th Century on. Every one of these thangkas contains a special teaching.

Wutun Village in Tibet is a sort of artist’s colony for thangka painting. The Tibetan artists study as monks from childhood and when they reach young adulthood they can choose to remain monks or stay in the colony as lay artists.

One of the reasons I am so favorably disposed to this 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar is that, after a full year of gazing at each month, you can take each one of these Tibetan thangkas in 2012 and use them as laminated thangkas either in your home or give them as individualized gifts, suitably framed of course. That’s what I have done each year after I have used the 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar. Well, you have just made me admit that the 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar is my favorite after all. I am just so impressed with these extraordinary replications and the teachings that emanate from it and the spiritual feelings evoked by gazing at this 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar. We have Dr. Olaf Dzaja to thank for this 2011 Tibetan Art Calendar.

Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

Healing with Deepak Chopra

December 9, 2010 on 11:00 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I used to hear a lot about Deepak Chopra, but not so much anymore. Julie S., Atlanta, GA


Soul of Healing Vol 1 by Deepak Chopra

Dear Julie: It’s hard to keep a good man down, especially Deepak Chopra, who is still around and bursting forth with new insights of healing. A practicing doctor himself, he has done more for mind-body medicine combining it with spiritual insight than almost any of the New Age doctors. In fact, he has been a long-standing pioneer. I am particularly loving Deepak Chopra’s  DVDs Soul of Healing, Volumes 1 and Volume 2. What I love about Deepak Chopra’s healing DVDs and his books is that they not written from some highfalutin scientific place, but in a very down to earth, common-sensical and realistic point of view. When you read Deepak Chopra’s books and watch his DVDs, it is as if he is telling you things you already knew, but they were in the back of your mind. Dr. Deepak Chopra is able to bring to the common spiritual mind the necessity of good health and foremostly a radical way in which to heal what has become dis-eased. As with many Ayurvedic teachers, Deepak Chopra cannot stress enough the interrelationship and intermingling of how society practices and rituals touch upon us as individuals in this earth body. We are not individual, discrete figures in a solipsistic world; we are globally and interconnected as bodies and souls with each other.


Soul of Healing Vol 2 by Deepak Chopra

Dr. Deepak Chopra has been the author of more than 55 books, including 14 bestsellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality and peace. Dr. Deepak Chopra’s books have been published in more than 85 languages. Before establishing the Chopra center, Deepak Chopra served as chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center. Deepak Chopra is like a modern Renaissance man, conjoining both the right and brain centers of the body, producing the ultimate man (woman), meaning he or she who is able to access both sides of their brains with both spirituality and rationality. It is almost as if Deepak Chopra’s vision has borne the new paradigm of man/woman.

In these DVDs Deepak Chopra brings to life the premise that healing, wholeness and that which is holy are but the multi-layer expressions of a single underlying reality. He offers a framework for the healing process as well as instructions for meditation stress relief and how to invoke your inner pharmacy using the five senses. A bonus audio CD comes with the DVD.

Let us honor and respect this man who has had a formidable contribution to the elevation of humanity and healing!

Thank you for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

Dancing Ganesh, True Son of his Father, Dancing Shiva

December 7, 2010 on 11:00 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I love some of the statues I have seen of Ganesh dancing. It seems strange that this formidable figure, which sometimes looks ungainly with his pot belly, is portrayed as a dancing Ganesh. Can you speak about this? George P., Duquesne, PA


Dancing Ganesh 12″ (Resing

Dear George: First you must remember that these Hindu gods and goddesses are the masters of disguise and mischievousness. You will remember that Kali takes on the form of a fearsome and ugly goddess to hide her beauty, and some have said that Dancing Ganesh, while adopting the form of a clumsy and awkward deity, when he’s actually dancing, can be very graceful in his subtlety and movements.

Most of us know of Ganesh’s father, Shiva and we have certainly heard of his dancing. It is thought that when Shiva dances, that if he were to allow his left leg to come down, the world might be destroyed. He has been called the father or God of Destruction and Regeneration. While that sounds frightening and he has been unfavorably compared to Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the preserver, Shiva’s dance actually sets the rhythm of life and death that orders the universe. Shiva’s destruction is not negative, but a positive, nourishing and constructive destruction that builds and transforms life and energy of the welfare of the world and the beings that inhabit it.

One of Ganeshes roles is to entertain his parents, which he does by dancing. Shiva, Ganesha, and all the dwarfish ganas love to dance because the act of dancing is spiritually significant in Hinduism. It is related to the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction, called samsara, that defines the universe and from which humans seek to escape. Yet, when Ganesha dances for his parents, he is in a comic aspect. One can imagine Ganesh’s oversized ears, his long trunk, and expanded stomach bouncing gently as the god moves his arms and legs. But even though Ganesh’s form appears bulky, Ganesh’s movements seem to have a certain grace about them. Ganesh is often shown stepping to the right or left with one foot and thrusting the opposite hip outward, creating a strong sense of action. In this image, his dancing seems to be less sure, with his right leg dragging behind the left. Perhaps this slightly clumsy dance was meant to be a comic figure invented by Ganesh, especially delighting his parents.

Ganesh is not only a comic figure, but he is a protector and god of wisdom. Ganesh holds special significance among the Hindu deities because elephants have long held a popular place in Indian culture. From the earliest civilization in the Indus valley, elephants always had auspicious associations. As member of the Calvary, kings often fought from the backs of elephants. They are also famous for their remarkable memory and intelligence and associated with clouds, probably due to their large, round gray shape and the way they spray water from their trunks. As clouds, they symbolize rainfall, fertility of crops, and prosperity.

I particularly like the story of the rat that appears as Ganesh’s vehicle hanging around at the base of his statue. Apparently, this rat was once a wicked demon upon whom Ganesh stomped his large heavy foot, turning him into a lowly rat. However, Ganesh who is known to be very kind, took pity on the rat and made him his transport. Although two different physical types, they actually work well as a team. As the remover of obstacles Ganesh clears obstacles from the path and his rat squirms into places where Ganesh would never fit and removes the obstacles that he sees. I love Ganesh; he makes me laugh. But I have also heard he is very formidable! Beware. Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question you would like to ask, send me your question. Ask The Spiritual Explorer

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