Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. Arnold Schwarzenegger
When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready... Paulo Coelho
Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. Og Mandino
Storms make trees take deeper roots. Dolly Parton
Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down. Natalie Goldberg
Concentration is the secret of strength. R W Emerson
The best of countries and corporations are so because they have the best of budgets. It is natural, therefore, that there is so much concern about our national Budget.
If only we spent as much time worrying about our domestic budget... but we remain glued to our television sets for hours, listening carefully to the Budget speech. We spend even more time criticising it afterwards.
How many of us can say honestly that we have worked out a 'life' budget for ourselves? A life budget includes committing time to self, family, society and God. The lives of those who do this become richer not just financially, but socially and spiritually too.
Just as a country's budget must be well balanced for its economy to be healthy, life's budget, too, has to be well balanced for life to be lived fruitfully.
Many corporate executives invest all their time and effort in pursuing careers and climbing the professional ladder. When they reach the top however, most realise it wasn't really worthwhile. They discover that their victory is hollow and winning it cost their health, family and psyche.
They suffered obesity, heart disease and fatigue on the physiological front; separated spouse, estranged children and uncared for parents on the familial front; frustration, depression and stress on the physio-psychological front.
In the US, Canada, China and Japan, this phenomenon has resulted in a tragic burgeoning of suicides and cardiovascular and cancer-related deaths.
A leading bank in Canada devoted one of its monthly letters to this problem with the title, 'Let's Slow Down'. "We are victims of mounting tension", it enunciated. "We have difficulty relaxing: We are not living fully".
For many in India too, life has taken on these contours, and living it is rather like going downhill in a truck without brakes. But it is still not too late.
The World Health Organisation predicts that stress will be the Number One killer in the world by 2020. And stress is usually nothing more than an individual's failure to balance his lifestyle.
Living life in a healthy manner and living it fully means we have to maintain regular food habits and follow a sensible diet, regular exercise and rest, going out with family, working for charity and spending time in self-reflection, meditation and prayer.
There is only one way to survive overwork or burnout: Be brave and bail out. Life's rat race only produces losers. It has no winners. Even if it does, the winner is still a rat. And usually a very large one.
A great sage asked a prosperous king, "If you were about to die of thirst and starvation and someone offered you a glass of water and a loaf of bread in exchange for your wealth and kingdom, would you give them to him?" "Of course i would", replied the king. "Anybody would".
"Then why", asked the sage, "have you wasted your entire life amassing all this land and wealth when they are worth no more to you than a glass of water and a loaf of bread?"
Consider deeply the value of your life. In the US, compensation for an injured knee is approximately $200,000. Then what would be the value of say a damaged brain, injured eye, amputated leg, broken marriage or mental breakdown?
What price, then, can we put on the entire, fully functioning human body? Human life is priceless. Diversification is one of the secrets to successful investment; it is also the way to a joyous and blessed life. So budget well.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass. Their pleasures in a long immortal dream. John Keats
Shattered dreams are a hallmark of our mortal life. Martin Luther King
An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted. Arthur Miller
I have learned this at least by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. Dreams are the touchstones of our characters. Henry David Thoreau
In meditation, we are using energy to manufacture something much subtler than the physical body. Now the process of shifting life forces into a different level of manufacture, where instead of physical body cells, it begins to manufacture subtler energies, or ojas, is known as meditation.
The quality, intensity and volume of ojas make the difference between one human being and another. Why one person's presence seems to be so strong and transforming, and another's weak is simply because of the ojas he carries with him. A meditator is someone who has set up an industry of ojas.
Right now, it is quite limiting and frustrating not to allow people to go into higher states of energy and ojas simply because people don't have the necessary balance, preparedness, discipline or are unable to understand the priorities they need to allocate to different dimensions of their life. There are many things you can do to dissipate and destroy the growth of ojas in you. Various types of mental activity can do that.
Certain types of physical activity, excessive sexuality, indulgence in food, too much of stimulants and being in contaminated atmospheres can also do that. Spirituality is going into processes that can enhance one's ojas and change the very fundamentals of life; to take a person to a completely different experience, of joy within himself and a blissfulness which is not only his, which will be everybody's around him.
Your meditation is not only about yourself. If 25 people in a hall become truly meditative, the whole town, without knowing why, will become peaceful. Without having any idea about what is happening to them, there will be a certain sense of settling. The deeper one goes into it, the more of a device he becomes for everybody's well-being. It is not by mouthing good things that true peace and well-being will come. Only when people carry the right kind of energy around them, only when their ojas is such that a hundred people can sit under their shadow, and experience it, only then well-being will truly happen.
Quite a few people are experientially open and definitely capable of generating higher possibilities of energy. But modern life has made people absolutely fickle. You're simply shifting all the time, from this to that, whether it comes to jobs, priorities, education or relationships. Your energy also becomes unstable.
If all we want to teach is a simple technique of meditation, or something for your health and well-being, i can train people to do that in two to three weeks' time, maybe four weeks. We can train teachers to go on imparting meditation, kriyas and whatever little things that are necessary for one's physical and mental well-being. Out of a thousand people who come, you may find a dozen people who are capable of higher possibilities.
Only if you make yourself available to higher and higher possibilities, it's only then that grace can descend and do something that you yourself could never do. Only then this can become a very fulfilling process for an individual.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Fresh from her toilet, conscious of her beauty, She emerges visible for all to see. Dawn, Daughter of Heaven, lends us her lustre, dispersing all shadows of malignity... Bright Usha, when your rays appear, all living creatures start to stir, both four-footed and two. Rig Veda
I am a girl. I am an expression of beauty, joy, and love. I have the right, the power and the ability, to create a beautiful, joyful, and peaceful world for myself and others. I have a body, but i am not my body. I have a face, but i am not my face. I am the most important thing in the world to me. I am love in motion. I am the light of the world. I can create. I can make a mistake. I can create something beautiful in all that i do. I deserve the best. I give my best. I do my best to always take care of me. I am a girl. I am growing into a woman. I AM IT. I am the joy the world is waiting for. Iyanla Vanzant, on self-affirmation for young women
Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God. Jean Anouilh
Fifty years ago my father said that only that person has truly taken part in a funeral who has actually felt as if it is he who is being buried. This means that he should feel that at any moment his turn can come, as if the counting has reached up to the last but one, and now it is his turn. Therefore, a visit to the graveyard becomes a source of awe and acts as a reminder of death.
However, we are so involved in worldly things that we never stop to think about the day which is fast approaching us. Prophet Muhammad said: "People are asleep, they will wake up only when they die". All of a sudden, death will bring you standing face to face with God, at which time you will be held accountable for all your deeds.
That will be the moment you realise that what you were doing was one thing and that what you should have been doing was something else. Prophet Muhammad once said that on the Day of Judgment, a man's foot will not move unless he has answered four questions: Where he earned his money from, and where he spent it; how he spent his youth and how he used his knowledge.
The Creator has divided human life into two parts:the pre-death and post-death periods. The pre-death period is very short (like the tip of an iceberg) in comparison to the post-death period, which is eternal. The pre-death period is the preparatory phase in which you prepare yourself to become eligible to enter Paradise in the post-death period.
This worldly life is a "test" for everyone, whether poor or rich, powerful or powerless, strong or weak. Man is required to pass in all these tests and trials by leading a need-based life rather than a desire and greed-based life, so that in the life hereafter, God allows him to enter Paradise, to live there forever in close proximity to his Creator.
On the death of a loved one, one should not go into a state of mourning. The Qur'an gives us great hope in moments of grief and loss: It says that God will reunite all the righteous members of the family in Paradise.
Moreover, if a member of the family has reached a higher level of Para-dise, all the righteous members of that family will be "upgraded", so that they may all enjoy eternal bliss and nearness to God. This idea gives great solace and it acts as an incentive and encouragement to do good work, and lead a pious and righteous life.
The Qur'an reminds us of our parents' painstaking care in our upbringing, especially that of our mother: "We enjoined man to show kindness to his parents, for with much pain his mother bears him, and he is not weaned before he is two years of age".
Prophet Muhammad said that when a man dies, everything connected with him is cut off except three things: Continuous charity, knowledge from which benefit is derived and virtuous children who pray for him.
So, what could be a more appropriate prayer for our parents than the following: "O Lord, bestow Your mercy on them, as they raised me up when i was little".
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Though man has language as a potent means of expression, and he has the intellect also to argue his case and to convince others, yet man ultimately uses the ways of the animals who... do not have language and reason as their means to seek justice... So, the lesson i learn from history, is that man does not learn lesson from history. Raja Yogi B K Jagdish Chander
Sometimes i wonder why the sky is blue, How the sun comes every morn shining through... The answer gradually comes to my mind. It certainly was easy, not hard to find. He wants to show, how deep his love is, And for all to enjoy these moments of bliss Ruchi Goyal. Class XII
Have a place for everything and keep the things somewhere else. This is not advice, it is merely custom. Mark Twain
Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit. Henry Adams
Any kind of meditation followed by a spiritual aspirant has only one aim, namely, to speed up the fruition of his longing to be united with the Infinite.
When this union is effected, the sadhak or aspirant becomes a siddha, one who has attained the Goal. This state of union with God is described by Jesus Christ: "I and my Father are One".
Many have written about this highest state of consciousness, but it remains essentially indescribable. Though it can never be explained, it can be experienced. This is nirvikalpa samadhi.
When the mind merges totally in the Truth, it experiences the nirvikalpa state of spontaneous bliss of uninterrupted Self-know-ledge.
The aspirant loses his limited individuality to discover that he is with God, who is omnipresent. By the grace of a perfect master, the nirvikalpa state becomes the culmination of earlier forms of personal and impersonal meditation and not their product.
The entire process of attaining the nirvikalpa state consists in gradually curtailing and transcending the working of the individual mind.
The mind has to be completely merged and dissolved in the Infinite to experience nirvikalpa samadhi. Form is solidified energy; energy is an expression of mind; mind is the covered mirror of eternity or Truth that has thrown off the mask of mind.
To discard the limiting mind is not easy. The mind has to be annihilated through the mind itself. One Master told his disciple that in order to attain the highest state he has to be thrown, bound hand and foot to a plank, into a river, where he must keep his garments dry.
The disciple could not understand the meaning of this injunction. He wandered until he encountered another Master and asked him the meaning of the injunction.
This Master explained that in order to attain God he had to long intensely for union with Him as if he could not live another moment without it — and yet to have inexhaustible patience that could wait for billions of years.
It is only when there is a balance between infinite longing and infinite patience that the aspirant can ever hope to pierce through the veil of the limited mind.
To dwell in nirvikalpa samadhi is to dwell in Truth-consciousness. This God-state cannot be grasped by one whose mind is still working.
It is beyond the mind, for it dawns when the limited mind disappears in final union with the Infinite. The soul then knows itself through 'itself'and not through the mind.
The soul in nirvikalpa samadhi does not need artificial inducing of God-consciousness through repeated suggestions. It just knows itself to be God through effortless intuition.
One who experiences Nirvi-kalpa Samadhi is established in the knowledge of the Soul. This Self-knowledge does not come and go; it is permanent.
In the state of ignorance the individual soul looks upon itself as a man or woman, as the agent of limited actions and the receiver of joys and pains.
In the state of Self-knowledge it knows itself as the Soul, which is not in any way limited by these things and is untouched by them.
Once it knows its own true nature, it has this knowledge forever and never again becomes involved in ignorance. This state of God-consciousness is infinite and is characterised by unlimited understanding, purity, love and happiness. To be in nirvikalpa samadhi is the endlessness of life in Eternity.
Yesterday, February 25, was the 113th birth anniversary of Avatar Meher Baba.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Very few know that Sham Lal was well versed in Sanskritic tradition and philosophy, but he never wrote on those subjects. His critique was directed at western traditions and philosophies — but he could not critique Shankara because he felt that since Shankara's advaita was the last word, it would be foolhardy to critique it. For Shankara's Bhaja Govindam epitomises his complete surrender to achieve salvation: "Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam Moodamathe..."
I knew Sham Lal ever since his association with The Times of India. Srikant Verma and I would go to him and discuss a number of issues related to art, literature and philosophy — logical positivism, dialectical materialism, Rousseau's 'Back to Nature', and existentialism. These topics fascinated Sham Lal and we would bombard him with questions. He was equally conversant with the various literary movements like symbolists and symbolism inspired by Mallarme, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Valery, the Imagist movement of Hilda Dolittle, Black Mountain poets of Switzerland and the Telquel movement that deals with the deconstructionist theory of Derrida. These have inspired critics worldwide.
As far as Shankara's philo-sophy of non-dualism was concerned, Sham Lal always remained silent. Shankara has written commentaries on the Brahma Sutra of Badarayan, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita — the three collectively known as Prasthan Trayi in the Indic philosophic tradition. Shankara's doctrine of monism tells us that the ultimate principle is integral or unsplit, that is, abheda — this principle alone has real existence and all phenomena are illusive.
Shankara did not accept the concept of bheda or dualism. Sham Lal repeatedly said that Shankara represents the higher mark of Hindu thought; he is commentator par excellence and his commentaries on Prasthan Trayi — which are termed as Vedanta — are supreme expositions of a superb mind. Shankara founded an extremely subtle metaphysical theory.
I remember an evening when Sham Lal took me to a close-knit discussion (an 'upanishad') organised by his publisher Shanti Prasad Jain, where poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and a Jain philosopher were present. Dinkar raised a question: Wasn't Shankara basically inspired by Buddhism and Islam? So strong is the evidence of Buddhism in his over-prostration that it seems he had decided to establish a mosaic of traditional Indic thought, he said. Sham Lal intervened and said that it is basically pointless to give any kind of comment on Shankara's philosophy that the philosopher propounded as 'non-otherness'.
It is an interesting coincidence that after some 40 years of study, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has come out with a book titled The Universe is a Single Atom. Wasn't this what Shankara said more than a century ago? Little wonder that Sham Lal never ever said anything in reference to Advaita Vedanta. Which is why when he was asked if he would write for this column, he abjured the very thought.
"Hell is others", Tagore might have conceded, but he would have added, "So is Heaven". To him there would be no true love without suffering. Parvati looks all the more lovely after her great penance. Shakuntala's love finds fulfilment only after the ordeal through which she goes... May 8, 1961
Ahimsa is not an abstract ideal but a practical idea whose efficacy can be judged only by the celerity with which it goes into action. Perhaps there are saints who do not think ill of anyone and who have rid their minds of the last trace of violence. April 3, 1964
Ask: Would easier communication be of much avail when people have very little to communicate? July 28, 1984
It is modern poets, playwrights and novelists in contrast to social scientists, who are primarily concerned with existential problems and seek answers to questions which bug the more sensitive today. Sham Lal
Noted writer and literary figure Sham Lal passed away on Friday. He was at one time also editor of Times of India
Thursday, February 22, 2007
For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Vincent van Gogh
To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field of millet, only one grain will grow. Metrodorus of Chios
Man must rise above the Earth - to the top of the atmosphere and beyond - for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives. Socrates
In the year 4050, a time of bliss on earth where robots and men live as friends, a fateful event occurs... arriving from deep space a small six ounce chunk of rock and ice falls unobserved into a deep sea.
The ice inside the rock melts and releases a virus so deadly that all humans on earth die. The robots are distraught and they vow to build new humans from DNA remains.
After many failures, the first laboratory-generated human emerges, a rough hirsute brute named Neanderthal One.
Decades after, the robots, for lack of spare parts and human foresight, die out and Neanderthal One evolves into our present day human race.
A fantastic improbability, certainly, but who's to say this hasn't happened or won't happen?
Serious human thought has been given to the number of angels that might fit on the head of a pin, "better ways to cut a cake", whether or not Pluto is a planet, and it wasn't so long ago that many believed the earth was flat.
Obviously reckless ideas attract us and enter our reality to such an extent that major aspects of human life are converted by them.
E=MC2, light contained in a glass bulb, voices travelling though wire, germs as the cause of infection are all examples of improbable ideas that came to life and changed the course of human history, and we know, most assuredly, that man was not meant to fly, nor breathe underwater, nor clone himself.
Given our past, Neanderthal One appears less absurd and even possible.
Humans, however significant we think we are, we must admit that our significance, knowledge and beliefs are an inadequate means of establishing finite parameters for objective reality.
We are prisoners of the subjective, the defined, the believed. Our only real freedom, it seems, lies in the realm of the imagination, in new ideas, guessing, observing and calculating "what ifs".
What if man past, man present and man future are not equally human or even human-like? What if mankind is a self-organising system manipulated in its perception of self by dark energy, and E=MC2 reverts to M=E divided by C2 in the afterlife?
What if all we believe to be true is not true, if perspective animates matter, if memory is merely an impersonal process for storing data, if life as we perceive it is actually death as we perceive death to be?
From morphic fields, string theory and causal dynamical triangulation, to the nano realm, metaphysics, religion and God, mystery and questions abound.
But which questions deserve human attention and resolution, the speed of galactic withdrawal from the Big Bang, reconstruction of the speed of light and gravity, the origin of God?
Finding answers requires a journey over landless territories, a reach into multiple dimensions, the laws that govern them and the relationship such dimensions and laws have to our known laws and dimensions.
The trick, however, is to successfully traverse these multidimensional non-human worlds with human consciousness intact to such a degree that human identity remains observant and measurable.
Indeed, but at what point can we actually enter these dimensions? Is it now, at this point, with this word, on this page?
Behind all that has been gathered into the human consciousness and experience, there extends a veil of shadows outside the reach of imagination that attracts imagination.
Neanderthal One is not a mere improbability. We may, in fact, have come from where we are going.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Our personality is a combination of both rubbish and gold, and generally we are affected by the rubbish and we ignore the gold.
Despite having so much to give, so much to receive, and with so many positive qualities within, we identify with the negative.
The purpose of yoga is to create the awareness to separate the negative from the positive. We have to reject the negative and connect with the positive. Why do we react?
Why do we desire one thing and not another? Reactions are a result of identification with negativity and dislikes. Actions follow positivity.
Neither meditation nor performance of asanas is important. We can practise asanas only as long as we are fit. We practise meditation only as long as there is the desire.
If there is no desire to practise yoga, we give it up. If we just revolve around our likes and dislikes, actions and reactions, desires and rejections all our life, it means we have not learned the lesson to bring out the positivity.
That positivity has to be expressed in every situation whether it is an exam, a human relationship, social living or reclusive living.
This is the understanding that yoga tries to give. This understanding cannot be intellectual. It has to be an experiential understanding of the process that leads to self-development and infuses one with contentment, peace and tranquillity.
We go through various experiences, some good, some bad. Whenever we react, it is a bad experience and whenever we accept and act, it is a positive experience.
Positivity and acceptance have to be our focus if we want to succeed in life. If this focus is lost, we cannot claim to be practitioners of yoga, only practitioners of asana, or meditation.
Change has to come from within. This is not a momentary gain, but a gain of positivity in life. The satisfaction or fulfilment we experience within is due to harmony, which is both external and internal.
If we only identify with the inner experience of happiness, but react externally in our attitudes, behaviour, relationships and communication, then that experience can never be complete.
That is the true meaning of yoga. In the third sutra of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali discusses being established in one's own nature as the seer, the drashta.
To be established in one's own nature means there has to be harmony, a flow in life. This optimism and balance does not encounter nor is affected by blocks.
A river will simply flow around a large rock on the river bed and carry on with its journey. It does not come into conflict with an immovable object.
We all need to learn this lesson, because personal attain-ment is only a selfish subjective attainment, which can be lost at any time.
It is easy to attain and also easy to lose because life follows a principle of give and take. This is the flow of life with which yoga identifies.
At this stage yoga becomes a way of life, not just a practice. There is identification with and expression of nature which is balanced, positive and opti-mistic, and one attains physical health, mental health and spiritual wealth.
The writer,SWAMI NIRANJANANANDA SARASWATI, is head, Bihar School of Yoga.
Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends. Czech proverb
Friendship is not seen on a friendly face, But felt deep within a friendly heart. Thiruvalluvar, Thirukural 786
I shot an arrow into the air,/ It fell to earth, I knew not where;/ For so swiftly it flew, the sight/ Could not follow it in its flight. I breathed a song into the air,/ It fell to earth, I knew not where;/ For, who has sight so keen and strong/ That it can follow the flight of song? Long, long afterward, in an oak/ I found the arrow, still unbroke;/ And the song, from beginning to end,/ I found again in the heart of a friend. H W Longfellow
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
In the dark of night a rope is mistaken for a snake. The rope does not really become a snake; it has no other reality than the rope itself. In the same way this universe has no real existence. It is the Self: Pure Consciousness and Supreme Bliss, in which this universe, through ignorance, is seen to exist. Consciousness, which is the substratum of the universe, remains eternally pure and unaffected. We are that Consciousness. Therefore, we must cease identifying ourselves with the superimposed universe, and thus we shall be happy. Swami Nityaswarupananda
It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance. St Jerome
Ignorance once dispelled is difficult to re-establish. Laurence J Peter
The Nobel prize-winning mathe-matician John Nash who was in Delhi recently has a long history of schizophrenia, a mental condition in which the afflicted person creates a delusion of alternative reality.
Schizophrenics do this to make so-called normal life bearable for themselves. Very often, those suffering from schizo-phrenia are creative geniuses. Apart from Nash the long list includes musician Ludwig van Beethoven, painter Vincent Van Gogh, ballet dancer Vaclav Nijinsky and many others.
The life and works of gifted artists and creative geniuses show that their expanded consciousness is completely unconfined, giving rise to extraordinary potential beyond the reach of the average person. There is a tendency in the human psyche to reach for higher forms of consciousness.
Access to this state is evident though temporary in both schizophrenics and individuals who get inspired by sudden insight. Psychiatry has found no cure so far for schizophrenia and perhaps there is no cure.
For, on a deeper level, it could be said of all of us that we are indeed schizophrenics in that the 'normal' lives we lead and believe in, including getting a job, earning a livelihood, raising a family is, when seen from the plane of the spiritually enlightened, nothing but a carefully fabricated illusion very much like what the schizophrenics construct for themselves.
So how do we break out of our delusions? Not necessarily by renouncing the world and all its illusory joys and sorrows, its fictive triumphs and tragedies, but by recognising the delusional nature of this world.
When we lose ourselves in medi-tation or in the exaltation that great music or art can create, the delusional world with its myriad anxieties and griefs seems to fall away from us and we feel a sense of untrammelled freedom. Nijinsky wrote in his diaries that he was God.
This scandalised the pious Christian establishment of his time that considered such utterances as blasphemous.
However, what Nijinsky had really done was to achieve, through the discipline of dance, spiritual liberation that revealed the transcendence within.
Nijinsky's story finds a parallel with that of the sage's response to a person who had come to see him for spiritual guidance pleading that his everyday worries, cares, and daily search for meaning in life was driving him "mad".
The sage heard him out and said: "I do not know if I can cure you of your madness, but right now you are an unhappy madman and I can transform you into a blissful madman".
It should be noted however that such spiritual prescriptions are not like over-the-counter drugs that can be bought and sold at will.
True spiritual sages never offer a panacea for universal happiness as distinct from indi-vidual bliss because they know that such a thing is axiomatically impossible. It is only the individual seeker after enlightenment who can hope to ascend the spiritual escalator to an other-worldly joy.
"Unhappy madness" of which schizophrenia is a severe form is suffered by all of us who feel the constant pressures of the everyday material world. Blissful madness was what Nijinsky evinced or what the devotional Baul singers experience as do the whirling dervishes who lose themselves in a frenzy of spiritual rapture.
Perhaps that is why the form of madness we call schizophrenia or the more general form of madness called mortal existence cannot be 'cured' but it can be transformed into the inspired, ecstatic madness of spiritual awakening. The other side of madness is not so-called normalcy; it is the beatific insanity of bliss.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Nations, states, races and religions There are million ways To divide and decry But to bond There is one magic charm. Say it now, say it again: "Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!" Let the echo fill the air Let far corners reverberate Let there be peace all-round On this earth, in space, In deep oceans and environs. J Bhagyalakshmi, 'When Fortune Smiled'
Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realise how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labours of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. Albert Einstein
Equanimous thought is balanced thought. Any kind of superiority or inferiority complex results in perverted thinking. The criterion for wholesome thinking is to determine whether thought is born of equanimity or not.
Two kinds of feelings dominate your life: like and dislike; craving and aversion. Totally unconditioned thinking is rare. Someone dear to us says something and we appreciate it; but the same thing uttered by an adversary and we feel contempt or fear. Why?
All action is conditioned or motivated by passion or disgust, approbation or disapprobation, attachment or indifference, attraction or revulsion.
On the one hand operates an attachment: "This is my family, my son, my wife; may they be happy! Let there be a bigger house, more money, no lack whatsoever". On the other hand, aversions prevail. Like and dislike go together.
A man shops for the best quality food; he does not want his family to consume adulterated foodstuffs. All because he is greatly attached to them. And yet the same person sells adulterated medicines to others, because he is indifferent to their fate; because he is not attached to them.
Due to lack of affection, he indulges in corruption. This feeling of attachment or unattachment powerfully affects one’s approach and all perversions in thought and action originate from there. Without equanimity, all thought becomes shabby and the contradictions therein can never be resolved.
True meditation helps you go beyond like and dislike, craving and aversion, to awaken in you a state of dispassion. Meditation which fails to develop equanimity is no meditation.
Often, when you go out of the meditation centre, you continue as before, there is no change the same world, and the same mischiefs. This kind of meditation is sorely limited by time and space. Even a naughty child is quiet in sleep, barring some involuntary spasmodic movements. While sleeping, no one quarrels
In the state of sleep, all appear to be virtuous. Of course, the evil-doer continues to harbour evil inside, but outwardly at least he does no harm while asleep.
Meditation is meaningless if it does not bring about a complete transformation, if it does not purify your thought or alter for the better your whole approach. If, once outside the meditation centre, there is no change in your conduct, then such meditation is no more than sleep or unconsciousness.
Meditation should awaken, rousing inner consciousness. The conscious mind becomes inert, but the inward becomes so active and expands so much that it transcends all conditioning. It remains steadfast and unchanging.
If a meditator keeps tranquil enough in the meditation hall, but on returning home continues fighting and quarrelling, his family would rightly look upon such a person and his meditation with misgiving.
If religion today holds little attraction, it is because it has been divorced from meditation. Religion is no longer allied with inner consciousness. Mere outward conformity to meaningless rituals has rendered religion insignificant. Buried under ashes, the spark loses its power.
Only when the ashes are shed is the flame reignited. Meditation is a process of shedding the ashes. Light manifests itself in a man who succeeds in removing the ashes and his thinking is mature and responsible, like gold purified of all dross, imparting a glow to his whole life and conduct.
The approach is all important. And inculcating the right approach, you must go into what thought is and what transcends thought.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
The Earth laughs in flowers. R W Emerson
The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life. Jean Giraudoux
Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile, some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident, others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock. Henry Beecher
There are philosophies as varied as the flowers of the field, and some of them weeds and a few of them poisonous weeds. But they none of them create the psychological conditions in which I first saw, or desired to see, the flower. G K Chesterton
In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. Abram Urban
For this, dance needs to be portrayed in a spirit of total ecs-tasy, rising above the physical realm and parameters of the body.
Natyopasana or devotional fervour in dance wherein the dance assumes worshipful nature, leads to natyabrahmn: Realising the Universe within the individual self, a dancer uses her own personality comprising physical form and mental states as the primary vehicle in the first stage.
She then acquires the personality of the various charac-ters represented as the secondary vehicle in the second stage and unwinds shackles of personal traits as the dance level evolves and deepens.
Finally she gets elevated to the highest spiritual sphere, sringara or love. This is the first among rasas that are aesthetic flavours of dance and drama.
Sringara considered as rasa raja as its portrayal alone has the scope to touch upon other bhavas too, taking its three basic delineations as vatsalya or motherly affection, rati or union of male and female principles and bhakti or self-surrender and devotion to the Almighty.
Sringara becomes delectable in any form and offers the easiest path to be one with the ethereal world: that's natya yoga.
A dancer could be skilled and sincere too, but unless there is sublimation of ego, the dance cannot create rasanubhava, the impact of splendour.
The dancer merges in the spirit of dance, surrenders to its magnificence and spontaneously expresses a divine energy, and transports the audience to similar experiences.
Through inspiration and intuition, dance makes the audience feel divine energy. The dancer's quest is to negate egoistic tendencies by submitting herself as an instrument to experience divinity.
It is said that true movement cannot lie. True joy can be experienced through devotional love.
This cannot always be taught but can perhaps be imbibed from eminent gurus. We can assess philosophical terms like advaita, vishishta advaita and dvaita in the context of dance.
The concept of a dancer becoming one with the dance through natya yoga is holistic and advaitic, while the aesthetic representation and appreciation of manifestations of divinity incorporated in dance are examples of admitting to theosophies like vishishta advaita.
Again, the bhakti-marg or pathway to God prescribed by saints is so suffused with infectious love, humble devotion and self-surrender, that dancing to their innumerable compositions has the potency to infuse spiritual well-being.
Creating, adding form — from nirguna to saguna — and placing this divinity on the highest pedestal become tools for communication, a must for successful dramatic representation.
Advaitam, true shantam, resting in Monism can be the 'end'. Indeed where there cannot be any mundane expression but natya, in order to carry the dancer and spectators, it has to be thoroughly expressive and appear world-related.
It is multidimensional, physically externalising through movement and emotions using eyes, parts of face, neck, limbs... and also all along internalising by correlating the mind.
Witnessing all these ephemeral states is the 'mystical eye' that can make one see divine reality in dance. Hence, one can understand dance as life itself... as cosmic movement... as infinite cycle of creation, sustenance and destruction. Presented at the first international indology conference, Goa, Feb 7-10
Friday, February 16, 2007
You must render service out of spontaneous urge from within, with a heart filled with love. Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu
Our spontaneous action is always the best. You cannot, with your best deliberation and heed, come so close to any question as your spontaneous glance shall bring you. R W Emerson
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. E E Cummings
I've always been spontaneous and outgoing... I've tried lots of things so I've got some good life experiences, which is great 'cause it means I've got lots of material to work with as an actor. Leonardo DiCaprio
He is neither Hindu nor Mohammedan nor Christian nor Buddhist. He is a simple human being. His rebellion is total. He does not belong to anybody; he only belongs to himself.
He lives in a no man's land: no country is his, no religion is his, no scripture is his.
A Baul is a man always on the road. He has no house, no abode. Existence is his only abode, and the whole sky is his shelter.
He possesses nothing except a poor man's quilt, a small, handmade one-stringed ins-trument called ektara, and a small kettle-drum.
He plays with one hand on the instrument and he goes on beating the drum with the other and he dances.
Dance is his religion; singing is his worship. He does not even use the word 'God'. The Baul word for God is Adhar Manush, the essential man. He worships man.
He says, inside you and me, there is an essential being. That essential being is all. To find that Adhar Manush is the whole search.
The Baul wanders singing songs. He has nothing to preach; his whole preaching is his poetry. And his poetry is also not ordinary poetry, he sings because his heart is singing.
Poetry follows him like a shadow, hence it is tremendously beauti-ful. He's not calculating it, he's not making it. He lives his poetry. That's his passion and his very life.
His dance is almost insane. He has never been trained to dance. He dances like a madman, like a whirlwind. And he lives spontaneously, because the Baul says, "If you want to reach to the Adhar Manush, then the way goes through Sahaja Manush, the spontaneous man".
Spontaneity is the only way to reach to the essence... so he cries when he feels like crying. You can find him standing in a village street crying, for nothing. If you ask, "Why are you crying?" he will laugh.
He will say, "There is no 'why'. I felt like crying, so I cried". If he feels like laughing, he laughs; if he feels like singing, he sings — but every-thing has to come out of deep feeling.
He's not mind-oriented, not in any way controlled and disciplined. So you cannot find two Bauls that are similar; they are individuals. Their rebellion leads them to become authentic individuals.
He leaves the world to itself. He does not interfere, he does not meddle with it. He starts changing himself. His revolution is absolutely inner.
A Baul is ready to die any moment because he has lived life as deeply as it was possible to live. He has no complaint, he has no grudge against life, and he has nothing to wait for. So if death comes, he is ready to live death also. He embraces death.
A Baul dies dancing, a Baul dies singing, a Baul dies playing his ektara and his duggi. He knows how to live and how to die.
He knows how to transform sex into samadhi; he knows the secret. And what is the secret of transforming life into eternal life, time into eternity?
The secret is love. Between sex and samadhi, the bridge is love. Through love, the Bauls say, one reaches the eternal home.
So that is the only provision for the path: love. Love is their worship, love is their prayer, love is their meditation. The path of the Baul is the path of love
Thursday, February 15, 2007
A seat made of precious stones, a bath in delightfully cool water, a splendid apparel bedecked, sandalpaste perfumed with musk, jasmine and champaka flowers arranged upon Bilva leaves, incense as well as a lamp, lit...Clarified butter, milk porridge, the five-fold food, a cooling drink of milk and curds with plantains, a variety of vegetables, aromatic water and scented betel - all these offerings... have I conceived in my mind out of love and devotion; do accept them, my Lord. Adi Sankara
Thy hand holding the sacred drum has made and ordered the heavens and earth, other worlds and innumerable souls. Thy lifted hand protects... Thy creation. These worlds are transformed by Thy hand bearing fire. Thy sacred foot, planted on the ground, gives an abode to the tired soul struggling in the toils of causality. It is Thy lifted foot that grants eternal bliss to those that approach Thee. Chidambara Mummani Kovai
Shiva is a destroyer and loves the burning ground. But what does He destroy? Not merely the heavens and earth at the close of a world-cycle, but the fetters that bind each separate soul... Ananda K Coomaraswamy
Swami Sai Baba performed the greatest miracle at the conclusion of the night long bhajans. The time was about 6.40 AM (15.2. l999). Swami had gone round the darshan lines and had reached Mandir Verandah. As the Bhajan is going on, Swami all of a sudden produced a Sivalingam, from His Mouth..on..LingodbhavaMaha Shivarathri at Prashanthi NilayamFebruary 15, 1999..Later on, during the morning Discourse, Swami mentioned it as HIRANYAGARBHA Lingam, which is the origin of all creations. Swami said that it is very solid and will not break in spite of heavy impacts. He demonstrated by throwing the lingam away from Him, twice, and it was picked up by students and returned back to Swami. Earlier, at the beginning of the Akhanda Bhajan, on the 14th evening, there was a Divine Discourse. The Vice Chancellor of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning spoke and mentioned that Swami used to Produce Sivalingam earlier years and those were the lucky people and lucky ones to witness such grand miracles. Swami, in His Discourse, mentioned that He had stop the Lingodbhava (Manifestation of Linga) because of the unruly behaviour of the crowd who created chaos to witness the mirac1e, causing injuries to many other devotees. He however said that Lingaolbhava do happen on all Sivarathri days, but not in the public view. Swami said that it is the very nature of Swami to produce Lingam on this auspecious day
He moves swiftly like the whirlwind. His dance is so vibrant that the earth trembles. The whole world is electrified.
He is: "Nataraja,/ the rhythm of life,/ The pulse that sets the beats,/ The measured mathematical monitor,/ The taal that sets the pace,/ Tat-dhit-tom-nam Tat-dhit-tom-nam".
Why does Shiva dance? Today's young would probably say: "To have a blast!" Exactly! Shiva dances to enjoy himself, to play and to have a ball. He plays and dances at his own will. At his own will, again, he stops dancing and playing. So, it is all nothing but kreeda, a mere sport.
Tirumular, the author of Tirumantiram describes the dance of Shiva in verse in Tamizh or Tamil, emphasising the principles of Shaiva Sidhanta. Tirumular says when Shiva dances alone he dances in four varied states of dance:
"The Nada-Nadanta-Natana-Nadananta,/ He dances through the Vedas,/ He dances through the fire of Kundalini,/ He dances in Bodha, the pure consciousness,/ He dances in all three worlds,/ He dances with gods,/ He dances with celestial beings,/ He dances with rishi-munis,/ He dances with Parashakti,/ He dances with jivas,/ He is the supreme dancer!"
What kind of adavus or steps does he execute while dancing? He does it all. He can stamp, kick and jump. He can twist, turn and twirl. He can raise his legs at any angle.
He can assume any dancing pose. He has no barriers or boundaries. Tirumular says: "He performs the dance of Atbudha — the dance of wonder. It is also called the dance of Sadashiva. It consists of both: dance of form and dance of the formless. The form is that of guru while the formless is that of Uma, the Shakti that glows within Shiva. Shiva is incomplete without Shakti while Shakti is incomplete without Shiva. When Shivashakti dances it is Atbudha or the dance of wonder".
Tirumular was a Siddha Yogi who lived in the Himalayas. Once he made a journey to the southern regions to meet Muni Agastyar.
At Podigai Hills in Tamizhnadu, he witnessed a pitiful sight. A herd of cows was standing and crying around the dead body of the cowherd, Mulan.
Moved with compassion for the cows, Tirumular left his own body and entered the body of Mulan. When Mulan came alive, the cows were overjoyed.
Mulan then led the cows to their village. On returning to the spot where he had performed the supernormal feat, he was taken aback to see that his body was missing.
He attributed this to the grace of Shiva. Accepting his fate, he remained in the same village of Thiruvavaduthurai and became a recluse. He meditated under a Peepal tree.
People in and around the village noted the saint in samadhi. In the state of samadhi, he would utter verse in Tamil.
This was written and recorded by his followers. Thus, Tirumular during his life span uttered 3,000 verses of high philosophy and came to be known as the Tirumantiram.
Tirumular says: "Chanting 'Shivaya Namaha', again and again, will make your body red, then gold, and in time, shall behold the golden feet of the Lord and fin
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Satyagraha is a relentless search for truth and a determination to search truth. It is an attribute of the spirit within, and is designed as an effective substitute for violence.
The fight of satyagraha is for the strong in spirit, not the doubter or the timid. Satyagraha teaches us the art of living as well as dying. Satyagraha, of which civil-resistance is but a part, is to me the universal law of life.
Satyagraha does not depend on outside help, it derives all its strength from within.
A satyagrahi turns the searchlight inward relentlessly to weed out all the defects that may be lying hidden there still. A satyagrahi has infinite patience, abundant faith in others and ample hope. He has no other stay but God, and he who has any other stay or depends on any other help cannot offer satyagraha. M K Gandhi
The doctrine of satyagraha propounds vindication of truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but on oneself. Real suffering bravely borne, melts even a heart of stone.
Such is the potency of suffering. It is a means to secure cooperation of others consistently with truth and justice.
The essence of satyagraha is that it seeks to eliminate antagonisms without harming the antagonists themselves.
Satyagraha does not seek to end or destroy the relationship with opponents. Instead, it seeks to transform or purify it to a higher level.
The concept of satyagraha is built on three basic tenets — satya, ahimsa and tapasya. Satya or truth implies openness, honesty and fairness.
Each person's opinion and belief represents part of truth, and in order to see more of truth, there is need to share the truth.
Ahimsa means refusal to inflict injury on others. It follows from commitment to share truths, and is an expression of concern for respect and love for others.
Tapasya conveys willingness for self-sacrifice and patience. Endurance of suffering is a means to an end.
Martin Luther King, who followed Mahatma Gandhi's path of satyagraha during the civil rights movement in the US, described satyagraha as a silent or soul force, neither an act of cowardice nor a weapon of the weak.
King enunciated the six important principles of satyagraha. First, instead of physical aggressiveness, the mind and emotions are kept active, constantly seeking to persuade the opponent that he is mistaken.
Second, it does not humiliate the opponent but gains friendship and understanding. In the process, reconciliation is the result, not bitterness.
Third, satyagraha wages battle against the forces of evil and not individuals. Fourth, by accepting suffering, it opens up tremendous educational and transforming possibilities and becomes a powerful tool in changing the minds of opponents.
Fifth, humans have a cosmic companionship with God who is on the side of truth. Therefore, justice would occur in the future. And lastly, bitterness and hate are replaced with love.
Satyagraha is both a personal and social struggle to realise the truth, which is identified as God, the Absolute Morality. Central to satyagraha is passive love.
It is a love that is disinterested. It is a love that does not distinguish between worthy and unworthy people or friends and enemies.
It is a love that fulfils the need of another person. This love seeks to create and preserve community and is an effective instrument against the ills of society.
We are grappling in the vicious environment of competition and consumerism. Tension and conflict have become common. Community interest is largely replaced by self-interest.
The unfortunate outcomes have been that basics of humaneness are often trampled and morality has been denigrated as redundant.
It is time for us to introspect and reorient ourselves to understand and respect one another and live and let live.
It would, therefore, be meaningful to seriously reflect on the postulates of satyagraha and its philosophy. The best tribute in this centenary year of satyagraha would be to have determination for search of the truth, inculcate the principles of understanding, and internalise respect and love for others.
Satyagraha is a solution that could remove evils of present-day society and create a just society. We would then create a better world
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The True Sage Divine love, with its fusion of the personal and the impersonal aspects is infinite in being and expression. Divine love makes us true to ourselves and to others and makes us live truly and honestly. It is the solution to all our problems; it frees us from every kind of binding; purifies our hearts and glorifies our being. Avatar Meher Baba
One Love! One Heart! Let's get together and feel all right. Hear the children ,cryin' (One Love!); Hear the children cryin' (One Heart!), Sayin': give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right; Sayin': let's get together and feel all right. Bob Marley, Reggae star
Anyone can be one among the crowd. The joy of living life is in standing above the crowd, in walking a different path. It's a choice you have to make, for your LOVED Ones
Make the decision right now. Do you want to be just anybody in life or do you want to be Somebody in life? If you want to be just anybody in life, then merge with the crowd. Get lost in the crowd. However, if you want to be somebody in life, then stand up and be counted. If you live like everybody, you will become like everybody. If you don't want to be like everybody, then you have to do what nobody has done. Walk a different path and you'll create a different
destination for yourself. SPREAD LOVE
Mistakes cannot be avoided, but we can learn how to become rich by them. Unless we teach ourselves to fail wisely, we cannot succeed in life gracefully.
Our gratitude should free us; not bind us. Four people were carrying a boat on their head. Someone asked them why they were carrying it. They said, "We are grateful to the boat that helped us cross the river. Our gratitude does not allow us to abandon the boat".
Religion should set us free and not bind us. Many people use religion to hold people in bondage and so kill the spirit of religion. A man fell into a well. He did not drown, as the well was not full. He cried out for help.
A Buddhist monk passing by said to him: "Buddha's last sermon was, we should be a light unto ourselves; since you are not, you have fallen. If I save you, the darkness in you will make you fall again into the well; so create light within and that light will help you come out".
He went away without helping. A little later, a Hindu renunciate passing by said to him: "It is because of your past deeds that you have fallen.
Even if I help you now, your past deeds will make you fall again. Perform a noble act and earn divine approval. Good deeds will help you come out". He, too, walked away.
A disciple of Confucius saw the man in distress. He assured him, "I will definitely help, but first I will go and tell the village authorities how important the teaching of Confucius is.
Confucius teaches that society is more important than indivi-duals. Meanwhile, you keep screaming; it will warn others of the danger of falling into wells. Then the village authorities will ensure that every well is covered properly". He too went away.
The person who happened to come next immediately helped the man out of the well. Then he made a request, "Any time you fall into a well, please call only me and no one else.
Not only should you fall, but you should also ask others to fall. I will definitely come and help; thus doing good service to you all, I can go to heaven".
Can we serve without being selfish? Prayer without service is not prayer; Service without prayer is not service. True prayer and sincere service are the two wings of spirituality.
In the southern part of India, people plant coconut trees. There is a saying, "Water the plant for five years, reap coconuts for life".
Do good deeds, have trust and patience; the higher centre will open up in you and you will witness a miracle of life. If a cup is placed upside down, even if it rains, the cup will not fill up.
But if the cup is kept properly, it can fill up. You can really serve others only when you have compassion in your heart. A heart without compassion cannot serve.
There was an enlightened monk, and he was an embodiment of goodness. His disciples could not understand one thing about him. He used to rob, get intentionally caught, and go to jail. On being released, he would do the same.
When asked why he did that, he would say, "I have no other way to enter jail, and the prisoners need my teaching". Compassion has its own logic. Let compassion, service, goodness be your living gods.
God does not exist in temples, churches, mosques... God is in love, goodness, and service. In the name of service, do not forget yourself. In serving yourself, do not forget others.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise. They willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets. Victor Kiam
Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise, for the result is waste of time and general stagnation. Sun Tzu
Why is our free-enterprise system so strong? Not because it stands still, frozen in the past, but because it has always adapted to changing realities. Lee Iacocca
Yogis say that the medulla oblongata at the top of the neck, where it meets the skull, is the seat of ego in the body. It is the negative pole of consciousness of the higher Self.
The positive pole is located at the point between the eyebrows, the centre of higher expression of Self-consciousness.
This point is the Spiritual Eye, a reflection of energy that enters the body constantly from the surrounding universe through the medulla.
The Spiritual Eye is not imaginary. It is something one actually sees in meditation, when thoughts are stilled, and when intellect functions on its own higher, intuitive level.
Many people that I've met have told me that they've seen the Spiritual Eye in meditation some of them long before they had any idea what it was.
When the Spiritual Eye is beheld clearly, it is a golden circle of light surrounding a field of deep blue. In the centre is a white star with five points.
When the Spiritual Eye is beheld imperfectly, it is seen as a dim violet light with a faint circle around it, and an even fainter dot in the centre.
Whether or not you behold the Spiritual Eye, by meditating at that point your consciousness will gradually rise until it passes the portals of human awareness and enters the state of ecstasy, or super consciousness.
To concentrate at the point between the eyebrows, look upwards not crossing your eyes, but converging them slightly as though you were gazing at your thumbnail outstretched above you.
Your attention, not your eyes, should be focused on that point in the forehead. Don't try forcibly to bring your eyes to a focus, but gaze mentally at that point, and let the Spiritual Eye draw you into itself.
Lahiri Mahasaya, my guru's param guru, said to concentrate attention first in the region of the medulla oblongata, and from that point to gaze towards the Spiritual Eye.
People's awareness of their egos is often distributed vaguely throughout the body. By centring it consciously in its true seat, the medulla, it becomes possible to direct ego-consciousness towards its own higher octave.
Once ego-consciousness has been dissolved in super consciousness, the centre of consciousness shifts naturally from the ego to the heart. At this point, intuitive feeling takes one's consciousness upwards through the Spiritual Eye and out into Infinity.
Paramhansa Yoga-nanda told us that when he first came to his guru, Sri Yukteswar's, ashram, he would keep his mind and gaze focused at the point between the eyebrows as much as possible. This practice must be joined to, however, and supported by the heart's devotion.
Concentration at the Spiritual Eye, or ajna chakra, develops great will power, but it can also make one ruthless if it isn't combined with heart's love. When will power is combined with love, great joy is the consequence.
A steel bar becomes magnetised, not by the introduction of any new element, but simply by the realignment of its molecules.
Human magnetism, similarly, results when the "molecules" of conflicting desires are realigned unidirectionally. Limited power can be achieved, for a time, by directing them one-pointedly towards any goal.
But deeper realities of human nature, and the fact that the very way our bodies are made reflects those realities, make it impossible for us to bring all our "molecules" into alignment until we adjust them to the north-south polarity of the spine.
That is to say, all our desires and aspirations must flow upwards, towards the spiritual eye: the "doorway" to Infinity.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colours, which at every succeeding moment it presents to you, are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts. James Allen
Colours change: in the morning light, red shines out bright and clear and the blues merge into their surroundings, melting into the greens; but by evening the reds lose their piquancy, embracing a quieter tone and shifting towards the blues in the rainbow. Yellow flowers remain bright, and white ones become luminous, shining like ghostly figures against a darkening green background. Rosemary Verey
The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of colour... Hans Hoffman
Reasoning mind and intuitive mind are essentially two modes of expression of the same one-mind. Rationalists deny the existence of cosmic consciousness.
To them, the reasoning mind is a consequence of the complexity of neuro-chemical structure that constitutes the human mind.
It is accepted that reason and intuition operate at two different levels; one analyses external experience and the other has inner vision. One dominates the working of conscious state while the other is active in the quiescent state of the still mind.
Since ages, eastern philosophers have said that human senses only generate the data and one gets decisive know-ledge through consciousness.
The physical brain is said to be the hardware that operates on the software of consciousness that gets modified through memory-based experiences and habitual patterns. Intuition is treated as illusory and unreal.
Spiritualists have always asserted that there are some preconditions to be met before a conscious mind can qualify to experience intuitive reality. Shedding of individual-centric thinking is one such requirement.
This can be done only through a long practice of stilling the conscious mind. One would generally expect that unless this is done, it would be rather unfair to reject the intuitive experience as unscientific and illusionary.
Equally, sages have termed sense perception as unreliable for want of completeness, be it in spectrum of input or the conditioning of mind.
The concept of supreme consciousness is considered a pre-space time reality, independent of the human brain. To the spiritualists, it is the ultimate reality of cosmic creation.
Scientists want verifiable proof or quantifiable measurement. The spiritualists view it as a unifying concept and an experiential reality. They find the instruments and tools of scientists unsuitable and trust only their own trained minds to provide them glimpses of spiritual reality.
This lack of trust has prevented the launching of a joint effort in search of reality. However, verified knowledge of scientists and experiential wisdom of spiritualists can together enrich our lives.
The relevance of intuitive flashes in the working of the conscious mind is also not lost on some scientific thinkers. In fact, some of the breakthroughs in science are a result of these intuitive flashes. The idea is intuitive and the reasoning mind develops a mathematical structure on it.
To rise above intellect level, you need to shed ego as reason and logic are no longer relevant. The transition stage is where you disconnect with the material world and enter the intuitive one of spirit, to tune in to the universal mind.
Your desires are transcended to the universal will and your actions are always right. One essentially becomes universal in outlook and personal interests lose their importance.
The intuitive life of spiritual existence is inherently different from the life of a conditioned mind of egoistic desires.
Just as cosmic energy is the reality of a scientist's rational mind, universal consciousness is the reality of a spiritualist's intuitive mind. It is unwise to equate the two realities since they are seen at two different levels of perception.
The quest for ultimate reality has been pursued both by the reasoning mind (the scientist) and the intuitive mind (the spiritualist). This pursuit of the nature of reality is the common aim of the scientist and the spiritualist.
Only in this ultimate reality, faith and reason seem to coalesce. The reality is seen as vacuous and indescribable and yet it exists.
Friday, February 9, 2007
The Baburnama is Babur's memoirs. However, this work could also be read as a purana. The founder of the Mughal dynasty in India did not write his memoirs for self-glorification. This book, like the puranas, is meant to "assert eternal provi-dence/ And justify the ways of God to men" (Milton).
After a narration in prose, whenever Babur has to deduce and put across a lesson, he does so in verse. His spirituality derived from first-hand experience is not for a happy hereafter, but for holistic kingship here. A few instances could help illustrate this.
Babur's uncle, Sultan Mahmud Mirza, duly acceded to the throne of Samarkand. But he was a debauched tyrant. When a deeply distressed subject approached him for justice, complaining that a soldier had forcibly taken away his dear wife, the lecherous sultan coldly responded: "She's been with you for many years.
Let her be with him for a few days". Babur sees potential havoc in this injury. His verse: "Beware of festering inner wounds, for inner wounds surface in the end./ Distress no one insofar as you are able, for one cry of anguish can upset the whole world".
The sultan perished within five months. For Babur this is the inevitable play of cause and effect. "When you have done evil, be not secure from calamity, for retribution is the law of nature", he states.
Babur had the quality of ironic awareness. He was a king, ever-active to acquire new territory, yet he was aware of how vain and transitory was the nature of such pursuits.
When Khusrawshah blinds his very benefactor Sultan Masud Mirza, Babur denounces it as 'shortsightedness' to resort to such depravity "for the sake of this transitory world". He pronounces: "A hundred thousand curses upon anyone who performs or has performed such a despicable act!
Anyone who hears of this and does not curse (Khusrawshah) deserves to be cursed himself!" So convinced is Babur of the self-destructing nature of evil, that he feels maybe no force is required to quell evil. More than once he states: "Entrust to fate who does you evil, for fate is an avenging servant for you".
The driving force for Babur was his strong faith in God. His two most famous victories, the first against Sultan Ibrahim in the Battle of Panipat and the second against Rana Sanga in the Battle of Khanua, were against armies almost tenfold greater in number.
Yet, when consciously taking on such mighty forces, Babur was not being reckless. He was driven by his perception of God's ways. Battles, he says, are in truth fought on a different field; numbers in your cadres are not the decisive factor.
He says: "God grants victory both to the many and the few: no one has might in the divine court". This brings to mind the wisdom of Dharmaraj in opting for the unarmed Krishna as against the huge cadres the loser-to-be Duryodhana got to wage war at Kurukshetra.
After the Battle of Panipat, Babur glorifies God: "God... defeated such a powerful opponent and conquered a vast kingdom like Hindustan. We do not consider this good fortune to have emanated from our own strength and force but from God's grace".
People often wonder in disbelief at the celebrated story of Babur swapping his own life to save the dying Humayun. Such acts, verging on the miraculous, in fact, come naturally to anyone who has rock-strong faith in God always.
A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll
There are many tired gardeners but I’ve seldom met old gardeners. I know many elderly gardeners but the majority are young at heart. Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realised. The one absolute of gardeners is faith. Regardless of how bad past gardens have been, every gardener believes that next year’s will be better. It is easy to age when there is nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for; gardeners, however, simply refuse to grow up. Allan Armitage
Bad Gardens copy, good gardens create, great gardens transcend. What all great gardens have in common are their ability to pull the sensitive viewer out of him or herself and into the garden, so completely that the separate self-sense disappears entirely, and at least for a brief moment one is ushered into a non-dual and timeless awareness. A great garden, in other words, is mystical no matter what its actual content. Ken Wilber
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Affluence Cannot Bring Lasting HappinessSatyendra Garg
The other day I came across an interesting report that despite earning lots of money people in affluent countries are insecure and depressed.
Oliver James, a psychologist, during his research found that two-thirds of Britons believed that they cannot afford to buy everything they really need. Though the average income of a British citizen is nearly £23,000 per year, about 50 per cent of people who earned more than £35,000 and about 40 per cent of those who earned more than £50,000 per year felt that they did not have enough money to buy things they need.
The psychologist went on to say that this perception promoted selfishness and left people feeling bored, empty and lonely.
The article reminded me of the deep insight enshrined in our scriptures. In Srimad Bhagavatam we come across Yayati who was ruler of a large kingdom with all material resources at his command.
He married Devyani, daughter of a renowned sage, Sukracharya. According to legend he was cursed for his infidelity and was made prematurely old and infirm.
When he begged for forgiveness, he was told that if somebody willingly exchanged his youth with his old age he could regain his youth.
When four of his sons declined to exchange their youth for their father's old age the fifth and youngest son who was aware of the inadequacy and futility of sense enjoyment obliged Yayati and agreed to his request.
Youthful once again, Yayati continued his sense enjoyment spree for one thousand years. Still unsatisfied, he craved for more.
Fortunately for him wisdom dawned on him and he realised that if sensual enjoyment which he had continued for thousand years could not satisfy him, how was it possible that this will be able to satisfy him in future.
On reflection he realised the futility of material and sensual desires and he made up his mind to leave his kingdom and abjure sense enjoyments.
He told his wife Devyani that even if one got all the material wealth of the world — food grains, gold and precious metals, and cattle — this will not satisfy the greed of even one single person who is driven by desire for sensual cravings.
In modern parlance it could include money, electronic gadgets, land, shares and all other desirable things. So if the researcher finds that despite having £50,000 as annual income and having all modern gadgets, people are not satisfied and they feel they need more money, it is true that even if one is given the entire wealth of the world one will not be satisfied.
Yayati goes on to explain as to why this happens. He says that with every additional sense enjoyment the desire for the same becomes more.
The more you enjoy, the cravings become more. For the same level of satisfaction, you need more sense indulgence and because one gets satisfaction from every indulgence, one indulges more.
And the vicious cycle goes on. Yayati quotes the example of fire and ghee. He says that with every additional pouring of clarified butter in the form of sense enjoyment the fire of sensual desire grows fiercer and fiercer.
By indulgence one can never quench the thirst of sensual urge. Only if one realises this and gives up this insatiable sense craving, can one achieve that inner satisfaction which leads to bliss and eternal happiness.
Open yourself, create free space; release the bound one from his bonds. Like a newborn child, freed from the womb, be free to move on every path. Atharva Veda
The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3.8
Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. Leviticus 25.10
If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. Noam Chomsky
At no time is freedom of speech more precious than when a man hits his thumb with a hammer. Marshall Lumsden
The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with. Eleanor H Norton
Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. Salman Rushdie
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
He alone is wise who fears not another, nor makes others afraid. Guru Tegh Bahadur
Fear is a prison that quickly circulates through the entire system, paralysing the will, producing a queer sensation in some part or the other of the human body. Yes, fear is the cause of many diseases. Fearlessness ensures health. Do not fear, for God is near! J P Vaswani
The person who takes the vow that he will cause no fear to anyone is the person to whom nothing can cause fear anymore. The person who causes no disquiet to the world is the person who is not perturbed by the world. Manu Smriti
Fear is the main source of superstition and one of the main sources of cruelty. To overcome fear is the beginning of wisdom. Bertrand Russell
The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. R W Emerson
Fear is never a good counsellor and victory over fear is the first spiritual duty of man. Nicolas Berdyaev
--Piercing the Romantic Veil of Illusion--
What does it mean for a man and a woman to come together in a romantic and sexual relationship in the context of evolutionary enlightenment?
Enlightenment means consciousness beyond ego, and evolution means development in time. So the question is: What would it mean to embrace the romantic and sexual dimension of life in an egoless context, in a relationship that is creative and developmental?
Traditionally, when people have wanted to evolve, they have either left this particular part of life behind or they have made it the central focus of practice and development.
Some traditions have made it an integral part of their culture, but that usually involves traditional roles for men and women that most of us have outgrown.
We are trying to find a way to embrace this dimension of life that makes sense in our time and culture, and which neither avoids it nor makes it the central focus of our attention.
When men and women would enter a relationship and raise children, there was a larger cultural and historical context for the couple being together, far beyond personal happiness.
Generally, today we get together with other people because we're seeking happiness. Most of us don't need to be in a sexual relationship in order to survive.
Somehow we've gotten the idea that an ideal sexual partner is going to give us deep spiritual happiness, abiding contentment, and joy that would make life worth living.
For most of us, this is a deep illusion, that sex and romance will make me happy. I have met very few people, East or West, who have penetrated deeply into this particular illusion.
So we have to begin to think about the age-old question: Where are we really going to find happiness? We have to discover for ourselves that the promise behind the whole myth of sexual pleasure and romantic love is grossly exaggerated by our culture.
If we believe the illusion, we make a much bigger deal out of things than we need to and it inevitably creates disillusionment, craving, and suffering.
For a man and woman to be together in an authentic context of spiritual evolution, first, some of these fundamental ideas have to be looked into.
None of us will be able to succeed unless we've actually shattered some of these illusions in the deepest part of ourselves.
It's easy to have a philosophical conversation about the power of the sexual impulse and how it clouds perception, but it's something else altogether to see deeply into the nature of the illusion and to at least momentarily see through it.
If a man and a woman can each go this far, and then come together with the same ultimate purpose, there is a foundation for something different to happen.
Each individual has to be more interested in the evolution of consciousness than they're interested in being together.
If they don't want the same thing, it will never work. It's very important to prove that we can do this. If men and women can't live together, not just harmoniously but victoriously, then what does our spiritual attainment mean?
In a culture where there is such cynicism about human potential and where we imbue the romantic and sexual bond with so much significance, to be able to demonstrate an extraordinary victory in this particular area of life speaks volumes.