For those who cannot attend the Religion Kitchen meetings I’d like to share some topics for you to ponder at home.
Topic du Jour: Why is there a need for a Religion Kitchen group?
The Religion Kitchen participants meet to commune with other like-minded people who enjoy exploring life and thoughtfully creating our world. As we discuss our individual life paths we have the opportunity to hold each other accountable to the things we want to accomplish and to help each other see when our reflections/perspectives are distorted.
This is important because when we do not examine our beliefs and actions with intention then we are apt to merely imitate our surroundings. Discovering your true self is difficult. It is my hope that the Religion Kitchen is a compassionate environment conducive to self-exploration and self-determination.
For those of you interested in exploring further I’ve included some excerpts of material you may be interested in reading below.
From Carl Jung, “The Portable Jung,” Penguin Books, 1971, p.103.
“Human beings have one faculty which, though it is of the greatest utility for collective purposes, is most pernicious for individuation, and that is the faculty of imitation. Collective psychology cannot dispense with imitation, for without it all mass organizations, the state and the social order, are impossible. Society is organized, indeed, less by law than by the propensity to imitation, implying equally suggestibility, suggestion, and mental contagion. But we see every day how people use, or rather abuse, the mechanism of imitation for the purpose of personal differentiation: they are content to ape some eminent personality, some striking characteristic or mode of behavior, thereby achieving an outward distinction from the circle in which they move. We could almost say that as a punishment for this the uniformity of their minds with those of their neighbors, already real enough, is intensified into an unconscious, compulsive bondage to the environment. As a rule these specious attempts at individual differentiation stiffen into a pose, and the imitator remains at the same level as he always was, only several degrees more sterile than before. To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.”
From Joseph Campbell, “Myths to Live By,” Penguin Books, New York 1972, pp. 257-258.
“Mythologies and religions are great poems and, when recognized as such, point infallibly through things and events to the ubiquity of a ‘presence’ or ‘eternity’ that is whole and entire in each. In this function all mythologies, all great poetries, and all mystic traditions are in accord; and where any such inspiriting vision remains effective in a civilization, every thing and every creature within its range is alive. The first condition, therefore, that any mythology must fulfill if it is to render life to modern lives is that of cleansing the doors of perception to the wonder, at once terrible and fascinating, of ourselves and of the universe of which we are the ears and eyes and the mind. Whereas theologians, reading their revelations counter-clockwise, so to say, point to references in the past (in Merton’s words: ‘to another point on the circumference’) and Utopians offer revelations only promissory of some desired future, mythologies, having sprung from the psyche, point back to the psyche (‘the center’): and anyone seriously turning within will, in fact, rediscover their references in himself.”
Reference: Thomas Merton, “Symbolism: Communication or Communion?” in New Directions 20 (New York: New Directions, 1968), pp.11-12.
From Sri Swami Satchidananda, “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” Integral Yoga Publications, Yogaville, Virginia: 1978, p. 6-7
“3. Then the Seer [Self] abides in His own nature.
You are that true Seer. You are not the body nor the mind. You are the Knower or seer. You always see your mind and body acting in front of you. You know that the mind creates thoughts; it distinguishes and desires. The seer knows that but is not involved in it.
But to understand that eternal peaceful You, the mind must be quiet; otherwise, it seems to distort the truth. If I explain this through an analogy it will probably be easier to understand. You are the Seer who wants to see itself. How? Even in the case of our physical face, if I ask if you have ever seen it, you have to say no because it is the face that sees. The face itself is the seer or the subject. What it sees in the mirror is its image, the seen or the object. If the mirror is corrugated, curved, concave, or convex, will you be able to see your true face? No. It will appear to be awful – too big or too high or full of waves. Will you be worried seeing this? No. You will immediately know something is wrong with the mirror. You are seeing a distorted reflection. Only if the mirror is perfectly smooth and clean will it give you the true reflection. Only then can you see your face as it is.
In the same way, the Seer, or true you, reflects in the mind which is your mirror. Normally, you can’t see the true Self because your mind is colored. If the mind is dirty you say, “I am dirty.” If it’s all polished and shining: “I am beautiful.” That means you think you are your reflection in the mind. If the mind has a lot of waves like the surface of a lake, you will be seeing a distorted reflection. If the water of the mental lake is muddy or colored you see your Self as muddy or colored. To see the true reflection, see that the water is clean and calm and without ripples. When the mind ceases to create thought forms or when the chittam is completely free from vrittis, it becomes as clear as a sill lake and you see your true Self.
Hearing this analogy, you might turn around and ask me, “Does that mean the Seer misunderstands Itself or has forgotten Itself?” No. The Seer can never misunderstand nor forget Itself. But we are talking on the level of the reflection. The reflection is distorted, so the seer appears to be distorted. The true you is always the same, but you appear to be distorted or mixed up with the mind. By making the mind clean and pure, you feel you have gone back or you appear to have gone back to your original state.”
chitta = of the mind-stuff
vritti = modifications