Claudia Ghetu WELLness

The Wisdom of Ancient Science for Advanced Healing and Transformation


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The Greatest Love of All

“There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away. Because we escape, we keep missing being right here, being right on the dot… Only to the degree that we’ve gotten to know our own personal pain, only to the degree that we’ve related to pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough, and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others.” – P. Chödrön

It is often impossible to love ourselves with the same unconditional ability and fullness of heart that we are capable of extending towards loving other people. It is equally far more difficult to forgive ourselves, by comparison to our innate ability to forgive others.  Usually the anger we feel towards other people has a beginning, middle, and end. The anger or disappointment we tend to carry towards ourselves, however, seems to fester and persist beyond chronological borders, sometimes spanning the course of a lifetime.  Indeed, beyond all the self-denial and armored resistance, it may be possible that we are in fact the hardest people to love, accept, and forgive.

To fully realize and accept such a harsh universal truth, I believe we must arrive at a point of absolute stillness, a stripped-down-to-the-bone self-awareness – to the point where we can milk and digest everything that is raw and excruciatingly honest about ourselves, with a painstaking clarity that transcends ego and self-denial. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche asks the most poignant question of all:

‘Have we ever unmasked, stripping out of our suit of armor and our shirt and skin and flesh and veins, right down to the heart?’

And Pema Chödrön, perhaps the most outspoken writer and teacher on the topic of cultivating self-love, forgiveness, and self-healing, writes that this journey to face ourselves, “(as) embarrassing and painful (as it is), it is very healing to stop hiding from yourself.”  Simply put, healing comes from not hiding from oneself — from being able to face the truth about who we are, as imperfect as we may be, despite all the flaws and embarrassing mistakes we’ve swept under the rug.  Ironically, it seems that the things we elusively seek from other people are the things we are not fully capable of giving to ourselves: love, forgiveness, and acceptance.  In fact, the harder it is to love, accept and forgive others, the harder it is to turn and face the mirror and turn those sentiments towards ourselves.  How can we be loving and compassionate towards the world if we cannot overcome our punishing preoccupation with our own imperfections, self-scrutiny, and relentless self-blame?

“When we hear about compassion, it naturally brings up working with others, caring for others. The reason we’re not often there for others – whether for our child or our mother or someone who is insulting us or someone who frightens us – is that we’re not there for ourselves.” – P. Chödrön

The founding pillar of Buddhist philosophy is unconditional love, which is the natural precursor to compassion – beginning with love for the ‘self’ and extending to love for all living beings. The Dharma strongly stresses the importance of not judging ourselves too harshly, and treating ourselves with the compassion and respect that we ought to show others. The ability to maintain a ‘soft heart’ towards oneself has been translated by the venerable Chogyam Trungpa Ringpoche as ‘unconditional friendliness to oneself,’ or maitri.  It goes without saying that one can only love another insofar as one can love oneself.  Everything begins with the Self – and it is only within the self that we can begin to cultivate the greatest love of all, not only for our benefit, but also for the benefit of the greater world at large. So, during this period of renewal, on the onset of a new year pregnant with the possibility of rebirth – I invite us all to sit for a moment and reflect on everything that is good, worthy, and lovable about Our Selves. At the root of this effort lies the very seed destined to sprout the most priceless gift – a gift valuable far beyond scrutiny and doubt, a gift worth cultivating and preserving above all others.  The gift of maitri.

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 “We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement.  All these trips we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” – P. Chödrön


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Ahimsa: Preserving the Sanctity and Beauty of Life

‘Ahimsa’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘non’-injury’ or non-harm.  It is the foremost honored and emphasized ethical principle in the Hindu, Jainist, and Buddhist traditions – often translated as ‘non-violence,’ honoring the sacredness of life in all of its forms.  May we all embody the spirit of ‘ahimsa’ while we honor our own traditions and loved ones during the holy days of winter celebrations.

I live in a place nurtured by the vastness of the ocean, the rich soil of lovingly harvested farmlands and vineyards, and the abundant serenity of nature brought to life with the breath and foot step of every animal that blesses this earth with its noble presence. We are so extremely fortunate to live in such a place, on this borrowed land of our ancestors – where animal spirits merge with the ghosts of the native American Indians who honored this soil without desecrating it. Nothing belongs to us, and nothing lasts forever. We are entitled to nothing, yet we convince ourselves that we are owed something which we ought to claim at all costs. This breeds violence and greed. It mocks life and disturbs the delicate balance of nature.

Many times as I drive home, I see the graceful silhouette of a herd of deer, lately enveloped by the crisp rolling winter fog embracing the landscape. Each time I pass these majestic creatures, thousands upon thousands of times over the years now, I never cease to pause in sheer awe of their beauty. I always feel touched by something divine when I gaze upon them manifesting as they often do out of thin air. I send them white light and love and pray for their well-being, blessing and thanking them at once for gracing me with their presence. During the cold months these serene, gentle animals look for shelter and food. They not only seek an escape from the brutality of the frigid weather beating down on their sheen coats, but have to contend with the hunters that scour the woods looking for a good shot – the echo of death penetrating the chill of early winter mornings.

On the eve of the sacred holidays I wish that everyone pause for a moment and reflect on what is most dear to them, and how they can spread more love and compassion into the world. I want to believe that at their core every human being who has a conscience believes that life is worth preserving rather than destroying. In the end we are part of everything we destroy, and we reap the consequences of those actions. The Buddhists believe in karma – reaping the consequences of our actions for generations or reincarnations to come. The Dharma, compiling the sacred ethical and esoteric teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, places non-violence or Ahimsa above all things – making it interchangeable with compassion. I believe our beautiful land should not be stained with the blood of thousands of deer that the local government officials have petitioned to round-up for slaughter due to ‘over population.’ Those animals that will escape hunters will certainly not escape this ‘stealth plan,’ of mass extermination.  At least when hearing a gun fired by a hunter I can pray for the possibility of a missed shot and an innocent soul’s escape. Beyond that there is little hope. We are part of the ebb of life. Whatever we destroy will in the end destroy us. Animals are part of nature, like the leaves of trees are part of a greater forest, and we are inextricably connected to this intricate living landscape.

Please sign THIS PETITION to prevent the cruel death of 5,000 deer which will soon be rounded for a mass slaughter near my home on Eastern Long Island, and bless the earth with your compassion during this season when we all have the choice to be re-born and sanctify our actions as we welcome the new year.

Namaste

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http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-long-island-farm-bureau-usda-stealth-plan-to-brutally-slaughter-5-000-east-end-deer?share_id=TxKFMrJoJr&utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_true#


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Celebrating Christ Consciousness

Who is Jesus? Would it be more accurate to refer to him as Cosmic Christ or Christ Consciousness, rather than Jesus Christ? After all, Jesus does not embody nor represent only Christianity or the Catholic church. He is a multi-faith world revered prophet, much like The Buddha himself.

Many spiritual sages like Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the greatest Indian yogi emissary to the West, believes that the honorific title of “Jesus the Christ,” is prophetically more accurate as it denotes God’s universal intelligence immanent in creation. This universal intelligence is sometimes referred to as the Infinite Christ or Cosmic Christ, and it is used in reference to other ‘ascended masters’ who have attained oneness with that divine consciousness. Why is it that he is celebrated and invoked worldwide as an ‘Ascended Master’ and a being of Higher Divine Consciousness, but is not traditionally seen as such by those who worship him according to traditional Christian dogma?

If we are to be completely unbiased and put our religious beliefs and differences aside, it is impossible to put an accurate date on Jesus’ birthday. Yet there is no better day than December 25th, that we can rejoice, give thanks, and celebrate the birth of one of the most important men, prophets, or sages that have ever lived. Like Buddha, Krishna, Abraham, Moses, and other enlightened human beings, Jesus was without doubt one of the many ‘sons of God’ that lived and taught on this planet, and had an open channel of communication with his Divine Source, or Divine Consciousness. The Hindus call this omnipresent divine source Brahman, or the Supreme Being, the Christians call it God The Father. The Yoga Sutras were devised to give one the tools to tap into his higher consciousness and become one with Brahman; just like the Torah and Biblical scriptures are a source of sacred knowledge if studied and interpreted accurately and on a more esoteric level. So, we always have at our disposal the tools and knowledge imparted to us by the great masters to connect to our source. We always have the free will to seek out the truth, to pursue better paths, to be more giving and to live from a place of love rather than a place of fear.

Whatever it is called, this divine spark is inherent in all of us from the moment of our birth, and if acknowledged and invoked, allows us direct communication with our divine source, enabling us all to become Christ-like and Buddha-like. As a matter of fact those who study the Dharma and cultivate Buddhist dogma become Bodhisattvas or Spiritual Warriors, and ultimately they become Buddhas. There is a whole hierarchy of enlightened Buddhas sitting next the lotus throne of Buddha Shakyamuni.  Buddhism does not discriminate on who can or cannot become a Buddha. Unfortunately, indoctrinated religions tell us that we are sinful creatures and inferior to our maker and our divine source – and that is why we suffer and must repent.  Yet, if we can be open-minded enough to admit that it is impossible to know Jesus’ exact birth date, I think we are enlightened enough to realize that we are all intrinsically ‘Christs.’ We are all the sons/daughters of God, just like He was. We are all seeds of this infinite universal source of higher and divine consciousness, no matter what we choose to call it. Let’s call it Christ Consciousness, that which Yogananda himself called a ‘projected consciousness of God immanent in all creation.”

On that note, Merry Christ Consciousness.


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Yoga: The Ultimate Quest for Inner Self

When asked ‘what is yoga’ most might define it as a type of physical activity or even a form of exercise that strengthens or relaxes the body.  More advanced practitioners might speak about the kind of regular commitment and discipline yoga entails, and the emphasis on breath, yet still equate the mastery of challenging poses to a successful practice. These interpretations, however, disproportionately emphasize the physical aspects of yoga and falsely portray an ideology that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yoga is in fact about the mastery of the mind – not of the physical body.  As I came to learn during my yoga training, it is only through the mastery of the mind that we can master our bodies, and beyond that even more importantly release ourselves from pain and suffering. So can yoga actually alter our minds and liberate us from hurtful experiences? Pantanjali, the original yogi master and author of the revered ancient texts comprising the Yoga Sutra, outlines in great detail all the rituals and steps involved in the pursuit of self-transformation, the ultimate goal being: to liberate ourselves from the shackles of a meaningless existence and the trappings of samsara. Yoga derives from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to bind or join, and its very mastery enables one to bind with or attain communion with Brahman, or the Supreme Being – or God.

Yoga teaches us how to contain our mind, and outlines the methods by which we can begin to purify our thoughts and actions by escaping the trappings of delusion, attachment, and diversion – and in that process purify and strengthen our bodies.  It has little to do with exercise and nothing to do with athletic prowess. The emphasis is the total commitment towards the study and practice of the higher moral principles outlined in detail in the Eight Limbs of Yoga, through the application of which one can work towards purifying his mind and his spirit.  One of the branches, which comprise the Eight Limbs, is Yama(s), translated as Ethical Principles or Restraint(s) from: violence, stealing, lying, sexual irresponsibility, and hoarding. This is just the tip of the iceberg. One could spend an entire lifetime just focusing on mastering just one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, like cultivating santosa or contentment. There are millions of people daily who practice yoga but who never look deeper or even have an understanding of the sacred and profound wisdom behind this ancient practice.  That is because yoga has become diluted and manipulated in Western society to fit our fixated competitive ideas of ‘how to achieve perfection’ – and that ideal is grounded on the physical rather than the spiritual realm. Inasmuch as it has been preserved in its original content, Yoga has taken on the guise of an evolving trend, promoting inventive derivatives and namesake variants, and that evolution has placed a primary emphasis on physical results, forcing one into the trappings of ego and competitiveness. As long as we keep believing that beauty and worldly satisfaction is something we can achieve by altering our bodies and other external factors, rather than altering or rather, awakening our inner state of consciousness, we will never get to anywhere close to what true reality is.  Yoga is not a competitive sport – although in time we might see it become that.  But there will always be those of us who will strive to peer deeper, and who will remain true to the source in its pure and original form.

The ultimate goal is to attain enlightenment and free ourselves from the chains that bind us to the physical world – our uncontrolled inner world that deludes our senses and keeps us stuck in a state of unresolved conflicts, and painful attachments. Buddhism and Yoga have the same scope. It is all about the training of the mind to overcome samsara, or cyclical suffering. Whereas Buddhism is more focused on the practice of deep meditation in its own sacred rituals, yogis use meditation in conjunction with breath control or pranayama and also engage the body to fully express and translate into physical practice the Yoga Sutra principles. According to theBhagavad Gita, the most important text on yoga philosophy, “When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfillment. Then he knows the joy eternal, which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. This is the real meaning of Yoga: a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” Yoga teaches us how to transcend the trappings of a self-induced false reality, and pursue the one true path that will liberate us from this unawakened state, which keeps us in a perpetual state of neurosis and dissatisfaction.  The ultimate goal of yoga has little to do with how long one can hold an impeccably composed asana or pose. It is about freeing our minds to attain the ultimate goal: the union with our divine source, and that ever-present teacher within.  In the words of Iyengar: “The yogi does not look heavenward to find God. He knows that He is within, being known as the Antaratma (The Inner Self)…By profound meditation the knower, the knowledge and the known become one. The seer, the sight, and the seen have no separate existence from each other. It is like a great musician becoming one with his instrument. Then, the yogi stands in his own nature and realizes his self (Atman), the part of the Supreme Soul within himself.”

What is Yoga? Yoga is ultimately the art of mastering going within. It is the sacred knowledge by which we can discover the deepest of truths, attain the liberation of our mind, and spirit, and dissolve into perfect communion with our Divine Self.