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Friday, November 6, 2009

Three prostrations

Thic Nhat Hanh

We surrender our so-called self to the stream of life and look deeply into our nature of interbeing. Every evening in my hermitage in France, before practising sitting meditation, I practice these three prostrations.

The first prostration: Touching the earth, I connect with the ancestors and descendents of both my spiritual and my blood families. My spiritual ancestors include, among others, my own spiritual teachers, still alive or already dead. They are present in me because they have transmitted some seeds of peace, wisdom, love and happiness. They have opened up in me my resource of understanding and compassion.
When I look at my spiritual ancestors, I see those who are perfect in the practice of the precepts, understanding, compassion and those who are still imperfect.

The second prostration: Touching the earth, I connect with all the people and all species that are alive at this moment in this world with me. I am one with the wonderful pattern of life that radiates out in all directions.
I see the close connection between myself and others, how we share happiness and suffering. I am one with those who are born disabled or who have become disabled because of war, accidents or illness. I am one with those who are caught in a situation of war or oppression. I am one with those who find no happiness in family life.

The Third prostration: Touching the earth, I let go of my idea that I am this body and my life span is limited. I see that this body, made of four elements, is not really "me" and I am not limited by this body. I am part of a stream of life of spiritual and blood ancestors that for thousands of years has been flowing into the present and flows on for thousands of years into the future.

The third prostration is represented by a circle embracing the vertical and horizontal lines of the first two prostrations. This practice is significant because it removes the idea that this body is "me" and this life span is "my life span". (Edited extracts from the author's book, `Teachings of Love')
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Envy our enemy

Babita Kejriwal

When we see someone else having all that we ever wanted to have for ourselves, we feel envious. But we are unaware that by this feeling, we are actually preventing the universe from giving those very things to us! It sounds surprising, but this is how it works.

The moment we feel jealous for someone having, say, a beautiful house, we are indirectly telling God that this person is not entitled to a good house. And that law applies to us, too; so as a result, we will never have a beautiful house.

There are many ways by which we can open the doors for ourselves so that we get what we want. The first is to bless the other person having it; this causes the blessing to knock our door too. Another way is to visualise silently that we are in possession of such a house. Also, asking God politely for it with a right that a son has over his own father, causes fortune to fall upon us. We can also do some chants to fulfil our wants.

The reason we are not getting this house, is because of our own negative karmas . To erase these karmas, we should ask God for forgiveness for our past known as well as unknown sins. Get into the path of spirituality and meditation and be of help to others in every way. Mantras also help reduce our karmas to a great extent as they have a lot of power.
The logic being that mantras help us become positive and action-oriented persons.

We must also remember that things we do not get in the karmic world, we get easily and in abundance in the spiritual world. This includes material as well as immaterial stuff such as love and care.
The loving God who is full of abundance, generosity, love and kindness is waiting to fulfil the wants and desires of His precious child who comes to His refuge.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Power of prayer can be amazing

Satish K. Sharma

On a visit to an Ashram recently, my wife and I entered the room in which the Swami was chanting mantras along with over two dozen men and women devotees. A few minutes later, the Swami opened his eyes and signaling the end of the session said in a serene voice, "Before we leave, let's pray for our sister so and so who is here and, her husband who is to undergo prostrate surgery tomorrow."

Everyone closed his or her eyes for a minute after which we dispersed. Of the entire visit, it is this last gesture that I found the most meaningful.

A friend was seriously ill.
Doctors' prognosis was depressing. His wife was distraught. She rang up a common friend who was far away and pleaded with him to come immediately. I knew it was not possible for him to come. And that's what he must have told her and yet she felt better after talking to her. Why, because he had also assured her that he would pray for her husband's recovery. The inevitable happened but in those brief moments, our friend's assurance gave strength to the lady.

Sometime ago, another friend who lives in another city, suffered a severe heart attack and was hospitalised.
I rang up his wife. She told me that the friend was now stable and a bypass surgery had been planned. Then, before I could say anything, she said, "Please pray for us."

I was touched. My wife and I did that and everything went well. I am not sure how much our prayer helped my friend, but it certainly helped my wife and me. And we were happy.

Praying is a simple but powerful act. One could say that the simplest prayer is the most sincere too. But when it is done for others, it assumes profound significance. It might not be answered but it is the easiest way to bond with others in their moment of crisis. That's why someone said, "The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer."
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Not karma alone - InnerVoice

P.P. Wangchuk

Most of us, perhaps, take the law of karma as the sole cause for our condition/fate now and hereafter.
Buddhism rejects this belief.
Karma in Buddhist philosophy is but one of the five factors that shape and determine one's fate.

The other four factors known as niyamas or orders are: utu niyama, bijia niyama, dhamma niyama and sitta niyama. They relate to the physical, natural and psychic phenomena.
These niyamas are directly governed by seasonal, organic, mental and psychic phenomena.

It is not to suggest that karma is just like any other of the five factors. The Buddhist `Compendium of Philosophy' says karma is the main basic order that influences one's life. The other four orders are mere accidental phenomena that happen by chance.

The point here is to ask if karma has anything to do with your being a victim of natural phenomenon? There is no clear explanation on this, but one understands that karma does help even in unnatural circumstances.
That is why I prefer to call it the "overruling order."

That is why Buddhism makes it clear that karma has nothing to do with fatalism or the doctrine of predestination. The argument is that not all that happens in one's life is because of one's past karma. It is also made clear that one can "reverse" one's fate with good intentions and good karma in this very life.

This is of special significance to those with bad karma and would like to "reshape" their lives for the better. The understanding is that one's karma works in various ways: there are karmas that bear fruit right in the present lifetime. And then there are karmas that "pay you dividends" in the next life or even in successive lives.

But it is important to remember that on its own, karma cannot do much. For karma to produce its best results, one needs good circumstances and factors. At times, when these auxiliary causes are missing, then one's karma, like a seed without soil and water, will remain dormant and helpless.
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Nanak was prophet of divine humanism

M.N. Kundu

The word `nanak' means `fire' and, significantly, Guru Nanak brought celestial fire to kindle the lamp of divine light in the hearts of humanity. It was the light of divine love wherefrom sprang his doctrine of holy deed before bookish creed, spiritual illumination before illusive ego and saintly life above external indications. Hence he proclaimed, "Truth is higher than everything, but higher still is true living."

Being perfectly non-sectarian, he said, "There is no Hindu and no Muslim, these are mere divisive names for masks, behind the mask is the man." His mystic communion with God dictated the language of heart beyond narrow sectarianism.

The time of his advent witnessed unending quarrel over religious trifles and deviation from the true spirit of religion. He, therefore, advised all to dwell at the feet of the Lord in love.
When the priests at Haridwar asked him about his caste, he gave a poignant reply, "My caste is the caste of wood and fire." And he advised the Muslims also to make compassion their mosque, sincerity their prayer, and justice their Holy Koran, to be a true Muslim.

Simplicity is the keynote of his teachings. He advised us to take the name of Akal Purukha (Eternal One) repeatedly with utmost devotion and live a life of service and sacrifice with sincere humility. For him, the soul is the bride and God is the bridegroom and our brief life is intended to make a union of the two.

He wanted his disciples to grow in meditation of God or `japa' which involves eightfold `sadhana' like purity, silence, concentration, realisation, patience, faith, satsanga and living the mantra in daily life. He said, "I belong to no sect and adore but one God, I see Him in earth below and heavens above, and in all directions and all are my brethren."

In other words, Nanak was born today to show us the light so that the darkness we see all around disappears and we live happily forever.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

The spirit of quest - Inner Voice

Lalit Mohan

When Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, breathed his last on Oct 30, 1883, with him may also have died the last Arya Samajist.

The seed of the Hindu reform movement of the 19th century was planted when on a Shivratri night a young boy, Mool Shanker, as he was known then, saw a mouse scampering up and down a Shiva idol, helping himself to the food offerings. This made him question the idea of an omnipotent God living within the idol.

Arya Samaj, which spread all over north India, had two principal thrusts: it challenged the veracity of orthodox religious beliefs and practices, and it pushed for social reform.

The latter crusade helped push legislation against the caste system, child marriage, priesthood and a host of other evils, and for women's rights.
The vast network of educational institutions set up by Arya Samaj is a continuation of the campaign started by the saint.

However, the other aspect, which is to question prevailing religious beliefs and practices, has been abandoned. The Swami had the intelligence and courage to do so. But his followers have given up the quest.
And this even though the essence of the Gayatri Mantra, the principal prayer of all Arya Samajists, is: let the cosmic light illumine our intellect. The light can shine through only if the mind is open.

If they are true to the spirit of his teachings, then they should question the Swami's thoughts. The saint believed that the Vedas were the source of all knowledge and found in them all that he needed to condemn the Hindu religious customs of his times.

But are the Vedas and Upanishads infallible? Should members of the Arya Samaj not critically evaluate what is written in them? Even these texts, despite their attempt at systematically analyzing the universe, start with certain assumptions.

To the extent that no follower of his has taken the Swami's spiritual quest forward in terms of questioning the tenets of the faith bequeathed to them, Dayanand Saraswati can be called the last Arya Samajist.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

A saintly woman - Inner Voice

V. N. Chhibber

Her serene picture in RK Mission temples is one of simplicity personified. Her love for humanity had no circumference. There were no barriers of colour, creed, culture, language or learning.
Her strength lay in fortitude and freedom. We are talking of Sarada Devi.

She was unlettered and had no child of her own, yet she had an innate potential that made her the `mother of all'. Her main instruction was: "don't find fault with others."

Sri Ramakrishna realised that Sarada Devi was a lady of immense capabilities with an indomitable spirit to work for the good of humankind. She wished to serve ailing humanity on the strength of her matriarchal power. He described her as Saraswati the goddess of learning. Her instruction was based on her spiritual strength.

Her attitude was always positive. She was aware that the general tendency of humans was to be negative.
The value of a thing cannot be gauged by its price. It is the love and devotion with which a thing is offered that really counts.

What a child learns owing to mother care is of tremendous value later in life. The mother-instinct is a crucial factor in the child's proper upbringing. A child's faith in the mother is whole and exclusive.

Sister Nivedita saw Sarada Devi as "Sri Ramakrishna's last word as to the ideal of Indian womanhood. Nivedita considered her as the bridge between an old order and the beginning of a new. "In her, one sees the wisdom and sweetness to which the simplest of women may attain. And yet, to myself the stateliness of her courtesy and her great open mind are almost as wonderful as her sainthood."

She felt, under the guise of protection, we have suppressed women. We have exploited about half of India's population. Women are endowed with certain rare traits that men can never acquire.

The more the scale of women's empowerment, the better for the nation. Sri Vivekananda observed that society is like a bird; it cannot fly if one of its wings is clipped.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The eternal truth - Inner Voice

Mahamati Prannath says that the term kayamat (resurrection) means awakening of the self from this dreamy existence of the cosmic illusion.

The human body is the grave from which the sleeping soul within has to rise above the body-consciousness and wake up to the true reality of the Absolute. The awakening of the soul from this slumbering mortal coil of ignorance is the day of kayamat. The Lord dwells in every heart to judge the actions of the soul and embrace her the day she awakens to her true self.

Skeptics trend to dismiss all such things written in the Bible, the Quran, and the Puran as figments of imagination. However, according to Mahamati, they all contain the esoteric meaning and hints about the events that take place at the time of the soul's awakening. It is high time that we understand their true significance and restore the scriptural language to its esoteric ken.

Man is what he is conscious of. Man's grade of evolution depends upon the pitch he has attained. A person standing upon the earth cannot enjoy the purity of the air over the top of the mountain. In order to enjoy it, he must be there. There is such a great wide gulf between the evolution of one soul and that of another. One who is conscious of his earthy origin is an earthly man; one who is conscious of his heavenly origin is a divine man.

Kayamat is such an awakening and it can never occur in one whose consciousness has cut off its permanent moorings with its earthly existence. As the soul is connected with everything in the universe, the individual resurrection is a universal resurrection. After Christ had risen from the dead, he had said, "He that believed shall be saved." The dead are those who have not realised their immortality; he rises who realises his immortality.

(Edited extracts from the book Mahamati Prannath - the Supreme Wisdom by Dr. B.P. Bajpai)
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

The magic of smile - HT Inner Voice

Vijay Joshi

What a wonderful thing is `smile'; it loosens the mental knots. One who receives it becomes wealthy, but the one who spreads it does not become poor. - Anonymous Smile is a God's gift to us.
It costs nothing, but leaves a positive impression on the other person. We all avoid short-tempered, irritating persons and always look forward for friendship with smiling and jolly ones. Smiling is also an art. Smiling with a natural look and unbiased intentions impresses others, whereas smiling for show-off could be termed as hypocrisy.
A small smile can do wonders for you as well as others.

Somebody asked a rose, "You are surrounded by such sharp and long thorns and still keep smiling, while I am bestowed with all pleasures in life but still remain worried and desperate. Can you tell me the secret of ever smiling posture so that I can also enjoy life?" The king of flowers smiled and said, "God has blessed me with three things - beauty, fragrance and juice. I never consider these things as mine and distribute them to the world without thinking of any returns. While doing this, I do not feel proud, neither do I die for name or popularity. My belief in the Almighty is firm and that is the secret of my happiness."

A poisoned mind can never present a pristine smile. First you have to purify your mind and thoughts.
The art of smiling will not only make you more affable but will also purify your inner self. An impatient and irritable person cannot create the image cast by a person who thinks well and then speaks softly with a natural smile.
Your smile can help you create an infinite friends circle and well-wishers.

That is why laughing therapy has assumed so much importance. It has been widely accepted as an art of keeping your mind and body healthy. Smiling is the way to go in life. You are not spending anything but achieving the impossible.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The philosophy of Hindu rituals - HT Inner Voice

Deepam Chatterjee

It is believed Hindus have 330 million gods and goddesses. This is yet another way of describing that gods and goddesses are states of nature, and of the mind.

Idol worship has great religious and philosophical significance among Hindus. All Hindu deities are themselves symbols of the abstract Absoloute, and point to a particular aspect of the Brahman. The ultimate reality is beyond the senses, beyond the known field of illusion.

The Sanskrit word Pooja (Puj), means to worship, to honour, and to welcome. It also means the act that is born out of fullness (Pu = fullness + uja = the act of being born.) Hindu worship encompasses a broad range of activities, including even dance and drama. It involves moortis (images), mantras (prayers) and yantras (diagrams of the universe). Central to the Hindu worship is the image, or icon, which can be worshipped either at home or in a temple.

Hindu religious rites are classified into three categories: Nitya, Naimittika and Kaamya.
Nitya rituals are performed daily and consist of offerings made at the home shrine.

Naimittika rituals are important but occur only at certain times during the year, such as celebrations of festi vals, thanksgiving and so on.

Kaamya are rituals which are `optional' but highly - desirable. Pilgrimage is one - such.
l Pilgrimage is an important s aspect of Hinduism. It is an - undertaking to `see and be - seen' by the deity. Popular pil- grimage places are rivers, - temples, mountains and other sacred sites, where the gods may have appeared or become manifest.

Worship of gods consists of a range of ritual offerings and t prayers typically performed either daily or on special days before the image of the deity, - which may be in the form of a , likeness or a symbol of the - sacred presence.
- In more developed forms, `pooja' consists of a series of - ritual stages, beginning with personal purification and invo , cation of the deity, followed by - offerings.
e (Edited extracts from the : book `The Timeless Faith, A . Dialogue with Hinduism', by Deepam Chatterjee)
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Monday, October 19, 2009

A saintly glimpse - HT inner voice

M.N. Kundu

Sometime ago, I found a photo of Shirdi Sai Baba near South Block in New Delhi. I picked it up and kept in my pocket, thinking it be a significant omen. Such a thing had never happened to me before. I thought Sai Baba might have taken some pity on me.

These led me to reading books on Sai Baba, which were full of miracles confirming super human healing and remedial powers of the saint. I was in search of some spiritual solution to the enigma of life and all-pervading suffering. But I was not spiritually inspired by reading.

And then in the World Book Fair recently, I found a glossy hard cover on Sai Baba. My eyes got stuck to the following words inside, "I do miracles to the deserving people so that their faith in the supreme power is awakened thereby and they become anchored in the Divine for deeper meaning of life." As if the lines were written as an answer to my question. I purchased the copy to find some more wonders awaiting me.

While reading I found 16 pages of the book were missing. The publisher did not promise immediate replacement. I could, however, contact the writer, a Principal of a reputed public school in Delhi on phone. She was profusely apologetic and promised me a fresh copy.

In addition, from her, I got the opportunity to know about many incredible miracles, how she was attracted to Sai Baba, being saved after a fatal accident, how she refused to write the book due to paucity of time; and subsequently an unavoidable medical leave enabled her to write etc.

During our first trip to Sai temple at Lodhi Road in New Delhi, we found no place for parking. Suddenly a beggarlike man in white clothes showed us a place. My wife took out a two- rupee coin to give it to him, but he was nowhere there. No one had seen him too! We remembered that Sai Baba sought two symbolic coins: reverence and forbearance and nothing else.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Union with God - HT Inner Voice

Harleen Kaur

We all have a basic need to be loved. If we don't get it, we feel sad and hurt. To love and to receive love is the food for our body that helps us grow well in a wholesome manner.

But what is more important is to transcend form personal love to spiritual love. From spiritual point of view, love is defined as selfexpansion.

Divine love (Bhakti) expands and enlarges itself.
There is no selfish expectation here.

It is perhaps beyond our understanding but within our experience. It is beyond our material self but within the reach of the self that is divine, and we all are part of that divine.

This love for the divine fills our inner being to the extent that we become consciously one with the universe, with the Divine, which is Truth, Light, Peace and Bliss.

The Guru Granth Sahib says that only with the grace of the supreme God can we be blessed with pure love and devotion. Devotion or Bhakti is intensity in love and this devotion is also a blessing to the few who believe, have faith and realise that all that is, is Him. He is the one who floods this world with the nectar of pure divine love.
Bhakti is a sacred, higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotee with the Lord.

Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore too had expressed similar sentiments. God loves us out of His infinite bounty, and His heart's door is always open.
Swami Sivananda says: "Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge."

Once you become a part of God, grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain stop bothering you. The union with the Almighty is the ultimate law of being. The highest truth is Absoluteness and the soul rises above through different states of consciousness until it attains Absolute Perfection when it becomes identical with God.

And this is the culmination of all aspiration and love.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Light up the self - HT inner voice

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Diwali is celebrated with lights everywhere to mark the end of darkness. Lights are lit, not just to decorate homes, but also to symbolise the light of the self. When the self awakens, then knowledge lights up and dispels the darkness within. Thus, good wins over evil and we celebrate Diwali.

We worship Goddess Lakshmi during Diwali and associate it with material wealth. This is just one of the seven types of wealth. The second is health. Having a lot of money but many diseases is no wealth. The third is when someone has little money but possesses the wealth of courage. The fourth is friendliness. Having different skills and talent is the fifth wealth. The sixth is dignity. Memory, the seventh, is the awareness of the source.

The best way for Diwali puja is to be happy and grateful. We search for the Divine everywhere except within us.
The process of worship is to lead us from the external world to within. What is Varalakshmi Puja? It is whatever you honour. Vara means gift. Honour and feel gratitude for all that the Divine has bestowed upon you.

Offer your limitations, not just money. Begin afresh with an act of kindness, a moment of reflection. The first mantra to be recited before any prayer should be - let my ears hear good things, let my eyes see good things, let me speak good words and let us all be on the Divine path.

Drop the past and move forward with enthusiasm, knowing that life is eternal.
The nature of spirit is celebration. When sanctity, prayer and service are attached to it, celebration becomes complete. Culture your consciousness to expand from `What about me?' to `What can I contribute?' Invoke the wealth of knowledge. When this element is awakened, misery in life disappears. Light the lamp of love and knowledge in your heart and spread it all over.

(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar writes every other week exclusively for HT)
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cycle of rebirth - HT Cycle of rebirth

P. P. Wangchuk

For the Dalai Lama, as Tenzin Gyatso, reincarnation means deliberately taking birth in order to succeed in what was started in a previous life.

Quoting Shantideva, the Indian Buddhist master who composed the Buddhist classic 'Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life', the Dalai Lama says: "As long as space remains, as long as suffering of sentient beings remain, I will remain in order to serve, in order to work for them."

He says he gets from these words inner strength, hope, and a defined purpose of his being.

But he quickly adds that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is a different matter.
A time may come when the institution of the Dalai Lama may no longer be beneficial and there would be no reason for it to continue.

"As far as my own rebirth is concerned, until Buddhahood is reached, I firmly believe my rebirth is always there. Even after Buddhahood, I will continue to be there in different manifestations. I am quite sure I will take rebirth. In what place, in what form, or with what name, I don't know."

About his past life, the Dalai Lama says it's difficult to recall anything at this stage. But when he was a small boy of two or three years, his mother and close friends noticed that he could remember certain things about his past life.

He says this kind of recalling past life's memories is not very unusual. He gives several instances of such cases.

And it is not just among Buddhists. The Dalai Lama recounts his studies regarding three such cases relating to Hindu kids, one in Palampur in Himachal, another in Ambala in Haryana and the third to another place (not mentioned).

He had sent his team to investigate the first two cases, but studied the third case on his own.

(This write-up is based on the dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Rajiv Mehrotra, in the book, 'The Dalai Lama on Happiness, Life, Living and Much More')
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Your future lies in your thoughts - HT inner voice

Bhushan Kachru

Do we realise that our evolution began with a thought?
Success or failure, love or hate, war or peace, reading or writing all started with a thought.

The landing of man on moon and the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai were an outcome of thought. Rarely are we sensitive to power of thought that can kill and inflict deep emotional hurt.

Thought is a primary energy and a magnetic force. It is an infectious expression of our creation or destruction and has the power to heal our body and mind. Our dreams are a reflection of our thoughts.

We begin life journey with a clean slate to write down our own karmas. But as we grow, we tend to close our lives to this inherent reality and get waylaid. Often we pollute our thoughts for small gains, revenges and greed in life.
Consciously or subconsciously, we direct inwardly thoughts (between 150 and 300 words per minute)leading to our perception, emotions, choices, and reactions.

If we realise this, then we can make significant changes in life. When thoughts change, we change our vision, inner dynamics, and choices.

Recently I met a monk sitting on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi watching silently the rising sun. "In each breath, I try to control and purify my thoughts and attempt at cleansing my subconscious mind to experience ineffable bliss.

Every thought is a seed we plant. Positive seeds in time start reaping miracles and make our dreams come true.
The most effective way of creating new images calls for changing the way we represent our thoughts. Look at the sea. It accepts both clean and muddy water, and yet maintains its serenity.

Mindful meditation helps witness how thoughts and memories arise from the depths of our mind, and then subside into it.

During meditation, observe your thoughts unbiasedly, allow these to come and go without attaching ourselves.
This helps gain control over thought process. The way to control the mind and emotions is, therefore, through thoughts.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zen is the way for a richer life - HT inner voice

Sanjeev Dheer

Is Zen a religion, meditation technique or some cult? Once a novice asked a Zen master, "Master, what is the first principle of Zen?" The master remained silent. The disciple repeated his question. The master replied with some hesitation, "If I were to explain the first principle of Zen, it would become the second principle. " Yes, indeed Zen can't be explained in words. It is the art of living. One has to live in Zen to experience Zen. It is the ultimate reach of human consciousness.

Zen was born in India, grew up and matured in China, but blossomed and flowered out in Japan.

Zen was born out of the tenets of Mahayana Buddhism, where in it is known as "dhyan", an act of meditation, contemplation, introspection. The original source dates back to the age of Gautam Buddha, who, at a gathering, started gazing at a lotus flower, was completely silent and gained a special insight.

One of the core practices of Zen is sitting in Zen meditation posture, which is known as "Zazen". Zen meditation techniques emphasise on mind watching and focusing on breath. Pay attention to your inhalation.

And while inhaling think and feel about your body, try to relax each and every part of your body, starting with facial muscles, shoulders, down to throat, to the abdomen, thighs, legs and feet.

When you breathe in, think of joy and calm. Retain your breath for some time and breath out. While exhaling, feel each and every part of your body getting relaxed and all your tensions getting absorbed and evacuated into the cosmic energy outside.

While inhaling, count four, retain with count two and exhale out, with counting of four. Repeat this moderation of exercise, by increasing your time length in the second and the third week of practice. Enjoy the bliss and tranquility seeping into our body with stillness of your mind. Zen is a quest, a missing link between your outer world and the inner self. It's a way of life one should cultivate for a richer and better life.
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JOY OF GIVING - Dr. Lakshmi Jain

Dr. Lakshmi Jain

One evening,when I was a child,I was playing in the park with a gas balloon. Suddenly, I turned around to see that a poor girl was looking at it with longing eyes. I felt her need was greater than mine as I could play with many other things which the poor girl could never dream of. I smilingly gave the balloon to her. I noticed an instant flash of gleam in her eyes and her face glowed with a smile.That was my reward! I felt I could never be happier otherwise.Service rendered in a spirit of joy is pleasure unmatched. Our motto should not be to help others out of pity,but to help and serve them in a holistic spirit and certainly not in a manner which is lacking in reverence.That would be service of God in man. In the Bhagwad Gita also, Lord Krishna enjoins upon His devotees, "I dwell in all beings.Serve Me in them with respect and devotion."
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good life, bad life - HT inner voice

P.P. Wangchuk

Is there a need to remind you that what you do has a direct effect? That could be either good or bad. Even when one happens to do something bad unintentionally, the effect is there, though not as bad as it would have been otherwise. Buddhism describes this as karmic action (cause and effect).
Karmic action involves mainly three factors: the intention that motivates one's action, the effect the doer will experience as a result of his action, and the effect others will experience.
The end result -- good or bad -- depends on the intention of the doer. If the intention is good, backed up with love and compassion and it helps those against whom the action is directed, then the action is called good action.
If the action has some negative elements like hatred, selfishness etc., and the persons against whom it is directed experience undesirable and hurting effects, then it is called bad action.
And yet, there maybe occasions when the action may appear good as well as bad.
This can normally happen when one acts with the best of intentions, but the result could be a hurting one and it may not be desirable either for the doer or the recipient.
At times, it is also possible that an action with bad intention may produce seemingly positive results. A blessing in disguise, as they say. It is here that the law of karmic action seems to be coming in conflict with the result.
Actually it is not like that. It is all because of our misjudgment of the results. Our preconceived ideas are to be blamed for this.
The results, found to be bad, may not be the outcome of the karmic action one has in mind.
The two could be entirely unrelated. One does not know for which bad action one is suffering from.
That is why a truly karmic person does the best he can as per the moral percepts, and forgets about the outcome.
He knows very well that no action with good intention will fail him in the long run.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A spirited life - HT InnerVoice

M.R. Dua

There are moments in one's life when one feels incapacitated to achieve one's cherished goal.
The possibility is that such failures may lead one into negative thinking. During such moments, one would do well to remember that no one in this world is born with qualities that keep one always in high spirit.
And, as someone had said, low self- esteem in life is like driving with the hand-brake on.

There is always a hope for those who are low-esteem victims. It could happen because of various reasons. But there is definite scope and steps to reconstruct one's wounded self-esteem. Extra emphasis on self-strengths and less on visible weaknesses is one sure way to come out of a low.

Interpersonal interaction with friends, spouse, co-workers, relatives, could also work as excellent therapy.

One can endeavour to develop and nurture high selfesteem promptly in one's budding years by a balanced sense of self-worth, namely, by furnishing equal space for work, intimate relationships, lovability, and social networking.

Rediscovering one's romantic moments offers yet another unfailing support in buoying up one's stooping spirits.

Yet another way is to recognise and identify the deficient areas of one's personality.
Perhaps it could be one's impatient nature to tackle tough situations at one's workplace, with friends, relations or in public dealings. Learn to handle such contingencies tactfully, thoughtfully and cleverly.

And keep in mind that those whom you envy today could have been once in your spot.

Any way, one must realise the truth that one can't be blessed with everything in life.
One has to do the best with what one is gifted with, and be happy. One must learn to make the optimum use of one's talents.

That alone would help one out of one's problems. Most of the great men in history were mere ordinary human beings, or even failures, initially. They earned name and fame because of their grit and determination to succeed against all kinds of odds.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Working for oneness is sure way to bliss - HT InnerVoice


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

The entire universe and our body are made up of five elements -- air, water, fire, earth and ether. The elements provide us with all our needs and it depends on our understanding and use of them; to honour, respect and take utmost care of our planet --and this will be our greatest offering to God and the universe.

We pray to the earth as mother earth, but it has been exploited by mixing poisonous fertilisers in the land, which is affecting and injuring our health. There could also be many dangers in genetically modified food.
There is an urgent need to turn to organic farming.

We have a tradition of honouring rivers -- the water element. Today, no river is fit for drinking. We are pouring so much industrial waste, sewage and garbage into the rivers. The rivers don't want you to offer flowers or fruits. This is not the way to worship.
Worship means honouring, and dumping waste into the rivers is no honour.

The fire element symbolises knowledge. It also symbolises desire. From the fire of desire, the element gets transformed into the fire of knowledge. And that is the whole aim or purpose of life.
Then there is the air element. We need to have clean energy. We have to sustain this beautiful creation.

The space element is abstract. You cannot catch space. When you save your mind from negativity, you fill space with joy, fun, confidence and coherence. If we speak negatively about all mistakes, then there is nowhere on earth you can really survive. When we try to see perfection in others, then we forget to see our own imperfection.

Human life should have humility like water, and patience like the earth. Be pure like fire which purifies everything. Serve like air, which does service to everyone but stays unseen. Space is like the soul which is omnipresent. Have a feeling of oneness with all, which leads to the God within us. (His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be writing exclusively for HT every other week)
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Looking for answers in a world beyond - HT Inner Voice

Rock Furtado

Celebrities have the luxury of living in abundance. When asked to explain their good fortune, many say they do not know why good things are happening to them! Many in fact look up to heaven while accepting their good fortune. We are used to seeing people like Sachin Tendulkar looking up at the sky whenever they achieve an extraordinary feat.
Most film stars, who have made it big, attribute their benevolence to a Higher Being, God or elders' blessings. Many in fact believe that without help from the other side, they could have hardly achieved what they achieved.
But this is noticeable only in truly successful people.
They are God-fearing, have control over their ego and are humble in their own way.
There are also examples of celebrities who have bitten the dust because their super-sized egos have been their undoing.
All this begs the question -- is there another world in our world? A world that is very much alive, kicking and able to propel or drop those it thinks need to learn lessons during this lifetime? Much of what is happening, does it have a predestined objective?.
Do N.R Narayana Murthy, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates know something that others are still trying to comprehend? Do they have an agenda, which will somehow accelerate the process of giving rather than taking? Is there a realisation that financial success, beyond a point, is not everything?
Is soul searching and wellbeing of mankind the mantra when you've made it?
Is the other world that seems to exist here somehow exercising its authority on earthlings to move from being acquisitive to a giver, in a planned manner, for the greater good.
The pattern never changes.
Some people do really well and just when the rest of the world stares jealously, they start giving it all away.
There is no doubt they have reached a stage of realisation that life is nothing until one gives back one's bounties as a thanksgiving.
They know that sharing their bounties with the needy gives a greater meaning to life.
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

A godly wonder - HT Inner Voice

Lalit Mohan


True to Albert Einstein's words, Mahatma Gandhi, born 140 years ago, keeps us all wondering. Einstein, on the day of Gandhi's death, had said: "The future generations will wonder if the kind of him ever lived in flesh and blood." A generation that shared space with him on this planet for a while is still around. But we have already started wondering ! We wonder how a frail man, with truth and non-violence as his only weapons, could overwhelm the mightiest empire on earth. We wonder how the leader of a mass movement could call his country-wide crusade off at its height, all because of an isolated incident of violence.
We wonder how just one man could bring peace to an entire province through sheer moral force, a task that an army division grappled with on the other side of the country. We wonder how a man threatened time and again by fanatics could spurn protective security. We wonder how he would have reacted to today's leaders' obsession for gun-totting security forces around them.
We wonder how, in a country where every politician is promoting his or her kith and kin in every sphere of life, ould a man reject his own on's entitlement to a schol rship because he, the father, was in some way connected with the organisation that warded it.
We wonder how a man who was dealing with issues of his oric import could take a break from vital talks to ttend to a sick goat. We wonder how a deeply religious man avoided visiting temples nd, instead, sought his God n the hearts and hovels of the owntrodden all around.
We wonder how a simple nd frail man could refuse to e overawed by the pomp and plendour of a powerful mpire and visit its king clad n nothing but his loin cloth nd khadi wrap. We wonder ow a leader venerated by milions never concealed his faults nd follies and was always eady to laugh at himself.
No wonder, the world today its up to salute him on his 40th birthday.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meditation for peace, tranquility - HT Inner Voice


One human being killing another just because he belongs to a different faith is an indicator of the hollowness within the perpetrators of violence. We all know that no religion would justify such an action. Why then does it happen?
When we are ourselves incomplete, we look for excuses outside.
Anger directed at someone else, if examined closely, is actually anger at one's own inadequacies.
If we were equanimous, negative thoughts and actions would not even rise. How does one then reach such a state?
It is through the practice of meditation.
Intrinsically, it results in the control of the mind; and at the subtle level, peace and tranquility within.
When the body is not exercised, it becomes weak and unhealthy.
Similarly, if the mind and spirit are not serviced regularly, they decay and the rot sets in.
Modern life, with all its pressure, allows us time only to watch television and that too only of the purely entertainment variety.
Consequently, great contributions of our ancestors in developing methods for nurturing our souls hardly reach us. So many different meditative techniques develop to suit varied individual temperaments have been or are in the process of getting lost.
Mostly, we are not even aware of the value of what we are losing. It follows that grossness in the society is growing.
An increasing level of insensitivity towards our fellowmen is reflected in the recent happenings all over the world.
Not a day passes when there are no killings. We are getting restless by the day and the call for peace is lost in the wilderness.
Considering that these are troubled times and there is a need for peace, we must make it a point to spend sometime every morning meditating.
If everyone doses it, the chances of seeing peace and prosperity will grow beyond our imagination. And we will have a beautiful world to live in.
(This is an edited version of an extract from the book `Chintan')
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Face the problems, don't avoid them - HT InnerVoice

Rajendra Bist

There come moments in one's life when one finds going tough because nothing goes well and difficulties disillusion him. And that makes him feel rejected and dejected.
A middle- aged villager toiled all his life to earn his livelihood. Yet he continued to face troubles that disturbed him a lot. He could not even marry for want of money. Sometimes, he had to go without his meals. He became unhappy with life and thought he was the saddest man in the world.
One day, he learnt that a Swami had arrived in the nearby jungle and that he had supernatural powers to cure people like him. He thought that the miseries troubling him would come to an end if he visited the Swami. He visited the Swami and started crying.
When asked why, he told the Swami that each day brought nothing but miseries for him and that there was no end to his deplorable plight. He implored the Swami to take pity on him as "he was the saddest person" in the world. The Swami asked him to pick up a bag lying in front of him and fill it up with pebbles equal to the number of his miseries and asked him to see him the next day with the bag.
The next day, he went to the Swami with the bag.
The Swami asked him to place the bag in the lawn where many similar bags were lying.
After sometime, the Swami asked him to pick up one of the bags which he considered to be lighter than his bag. The Swami explained to him that the weight of the bags (kept by other sad people) was equal to the miseries being faced by them.
The man checked all the bags and found that his own was the lightest. He then understood that there were people who were more miserable in this world and the remedy lied in adjusting with life and be happy. One's motto should be: "face the problems, don't avoid them."
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

God's hidden ways - ht Inner Voice

M.N. Kundu

A group of youngsters was determined to spoil my journey.
I was entrained for a visit to the famous Tarakeshwar shrine in West Bengal. I took a window seat in the train to enjoy the loving flow of morning sun over the green potato fields.

The group took exception to any visit to the deity. "Why should a young man be so superstitious in the age of science? If there is God, can't He see the unbearable suffering of man and do the remedy? If the Almighty has imposed such inequality and injustice in his creation, He does not deserve to be worshipped."

That put me off, but I was in no mood to talk to them or anyone else. I convinced myself that arguments being egocentric invariably end in futility. You can discuss with an intelligent agnostic or a sincere atheist but never with such an unreceptive group. I followed the classic route of escapism.

At the next station, I got off to search for another suitable seat. In the early morning, local trains are not crowded but I had to go far back to get a suitable seat. I was somewhat sad and unmindful.
The outside sceneries became sour due to inner remorse.
Suddenly one heard a crashing sound and the luggages started falling off the bunk following a huge jerk. The train came to a sudden halt.

A terrible accident had taken place. The first three compartments had crashed into another standing goods train. All the passengers in the three compartments were either dead or seriously injured. To my surprise, I found the compartment I left was the worst affected.

I profusely thanked God for saving me in an unexpected way. I also became grateful to the youngsters for their adverse act but for which I would not have lived to write this. Mysterious are the ways of God. But I felt very deeply for those unfortunate youngsters who could not live to get the lesson.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Live in the present - ht Inner Voice

Anuradha Gupta

The way to live life is to live in the present. Albert Einstein was once asked the secret of his success, and his answer was that when he combed his hair, he was only combing his hair and was totally engrossed in it. The essence of the answer underlines the ability of being focused and living and enjoying the present.

There is life, energy, movement and enthusiasm in the present. In the present moment only, we have the privilege to smell the fragrance of a rose, hear the chirping of restless birds going back to their nests, touch the rosy cheeks of a chubby little child, feel the freshness of wet green grass under our feet while enjoying a morning walk in a park, palpate the stillness of a dense forest.

The present is the only reality, where we can actually see and experience the whole play of existence.
But, if we contemplate on our mind, we find either it is brooding upon our past or is busy planning about future, we forget to live our present.

We forget the hard fact that all of us do have a limited life span and sooner or latter death is a reality.
Then why don't we care to find joy in small pleasures life offers? Why are we busy collecting wealth more than required for living a decent life? Why can't we take the same delight in giving and sharing as we get in receiving?
All religions tell us how to live the present happily. The whole concept of the presence of God and offering prayers to him gives us a feeling of security. The Bible tells us to love our neighbours and forgive the wrongdoers. That helps us overcome the feeling of hatred, jealousy and anger and fills our hearts with love.

The Gita too gives us the message to do your best in the present and surrender the rest to the will of God. That spares us from the pangs of all 'ifs' and `buts' and helps us in leading a happy and contented life.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The irony of fate -

Veena Gabriel

I have known this couple since childhood. They were our neighbours. Newly married, their love and closeness was a topic of discussion in our society. Time passed.
From a couple, they graduated to become proud parents of a bonny boy. Every evening the trio used to come to the society park. Their son had started taking baby steps.
Every time the little one faltered, the two pairs of hands shot out to safeguard him.
They also removed every tiny pebble to protect the delicate feet of their son.
When school time came, the father carried the heavy school bag and mother caught hold of the tiny hand, guiding him and protecting him. At noon it was the turn of the mother to carry the school bag. She also carried cold water for her son. It was like the three lived in a magical world of their own.
Time passed, the parents grew older and the son matured into an eligible bachelor. And then came his marriage and the birth of the old couple's first grandson. Every event was celebrated with great fanfare. One could see the grandparents trying to cope with the exuberance of their grandson. Their whole life was concentrated on him.
The wheel of time does not stop for anyone. I was not able to visit my maternal home for a long time, but when I paid that long overdue visit, I saw a very shocking sight. The old lady, nearly bent, could walk, albeit haltingly; but her sole companion was her walking stick, without which she was unable to take even a single step. The old man's condition was more pathetic. He could not walk at all on his own. His companion was a bored teenaged servant whose job was to take him for his evening walk from home to the bench in the nearby park and back home.
The loving pair of hands has got a lifeless stick and an indifferent stranger in exchange for a whole lifetime of selfless service. They didn't deserve this. What a tragic irony!
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Humility gives hope -

Barkha Dhar

At a time when peace and tranquility are bartered for fake emotions and material convergence, humility is our hope for change.
With work and pleasure conflicting 24/7, humility is the gateway to an inner journey. And then who can forget those primary grade lessons like "humbleness is the way to God."
Humility gives ground to fulfillment and an opportunity for one's true intent to branch out. However, our aspirations to compete and succeed have sucked out this vitality. Each day now is like the four seasons that just comes and goes away. Amidst this rush, we hardly have time to connect in and our network is often for the net worth.
It's time to ponder over our deeds. It's time to stop our emotional and spiritual erosion. We need to give time out to ourselves. This sabbatical, a peaceful introspection of our needs and deeds, could lead us back onto the road to humility.
As Swami Vivekananda once said, `be yourself, the greatest religion is to be true to your nature. Have faith in yourselves."
In a similar connotation, one can say humility is the seed of the soul. It lets you hug the `poorest of the poor' and the `deadliest of all'. It is being as `I am'; balanced with emotions that fosters equality, deference for the disabled and homeless, and service for the hospice.
Humility is infectious. It has a magical quality to endear one to all. All great men in history like Mahatama Gandhi were men of great humility. For them, nothing was more important than service to mankind.
They have shown the world that a person with humility can bring in great changes in society.
Humility starts with thoughts pure and serene and by practising the release of emotional energy to feel others' pain.
It is a step higher than sympathy. Such an act requires us to be patient, take time out for others and our conscious will to give back a lost world to those who need it most. We must get positive and be determined to usher in a bright tomorrow.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The day I had a tryst with God -

Monica Singhania

That day I shook hands with God.
On a cold winter morning as I was lying in the operation theatre in a dimly-lit room, I tried to remain neutral. I had realised that negative thoughts did nothing to help the human body.
In fact, medically, such a state of mind is extremely harmful in the sense that the body releases certain hormones which obstruct the process of healing. But it is extremely difficult to remain positive after perpetually difficult exposures in life. So, I adopted the middle path of being neutral. If the present process works, fine; if it doesn't, I shall cross the bridge as and when it comes.
At that point I noticed a team of people near me setting up the structure of the operation process ahead. My mind was absolutely blank for a few seconds then. Just then I saw him enter the OT and speak to the team covering me on all sides. In a few minutes everyone left except him. Just before he was to start his work, he came to me and asked me how I was feeling. I nodded and spontaneously my hand reached out towards him, and he caught it with both his hands. Before I could say anything, he said, "have faith, it would work out fine."
Within those fractions of seconds when we were holding hands with eye contact, the tremendous power of healing exchanged hands.
Those seconds remain immortalised in my subconscious mind, which resulted in a few things changing forever thereafter. In retrospect, I firmly believe that in that one instant my never-ending pain and agony made way for newer happiness, joy and hope. Few people in this world have the ability to irrevocably change the life of others. I just met one such person that morning.
To all those facing adverse and difficult times, I have just one thing to say. Hang on a little more. Help will come your way, even if a little late.
All that you need to do is to be optimistic and determined.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

One with nature -

Tapan Susheel
On a pilgrimage to Badrinath in the Garhwal Himalayas, I once saw an old man in tatters, struggling to squeeze through the milling throng to surge ahead as the doors to the shrine were opened at dawn. On coming face to face with the deity in the sanctum sanctorum, he folded his hands in a sort of thanksgiving, totally oblivious to the difficulties he had faced to reach there.
Muttering a silent prayer, I could see tears roll down his cheeks, and a glow on his face. I cannot fully describe his sense of joy and contentment, but it made me realise the importance of pilgrimage.
Pilgrimages serve an important purpose in our lives, they fulfill a vital need.
For the helpless poor as well as the rudderless rich, they provide a one-stop solution to all their spiritual cravings.
Pilgrimages detoxify your distressed souls. They also play an important role in promoting the prosperity of the community for they support the entire economy of the area around the shrine.
The rich may prefer to go to resorts to unwind, but going by the sheer volume of business they generate, they come nowhere near pilgrim towns. At many pilgrim places, food and stay is either free or highly subsidised. And thanks to bands of volunteers, everything is so well-organised that even first- time visitors feel at home among strangers.
Christians make a beeline to the eternal city of Jerusalem. Former Andhra chief minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, who died in a chopper crash recently, had visited Bethlehem, birth place of Jesus Christ, soon after his electoral victory a few months ago. Most Muslims aspire to go on a Haj pilgrimage to Mecca-Medina, at least once in a lifetime. So do Buddhists cherish a trip to Saranth, Bodhgaya or Lumbini, while for Sikhs Amritsar is a must destination. And for Hindus, it can be Mathura, Kashi, Amarnath or KailashMansarovar.
They all get spiritually rejuvenated and get inspiration for getting closer to god and nature. In other words, they come out better human beings.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Habit of obligation, a must for success -

Tapan Susheel

 Once a money lender was approached by a young man for loan. The money lender invited him for lunch so that he could set the deal. He arranged lunch in the courtyard of his house, where his dog and tenant were also present.
The money lender served food to his guest and sat afar in a corner of the courtyard in silence till the young man finished the food. As the lunch got over, the money lender said tersely, "I can't give you loan on any terms as I don't find you a genuine person who can repay my loan."
Baffled on the sudden change of mood of the money lender, the young man said: "What is wrong with me, sir? You have been very sympathetic about me since the first day of our meetings and you invited me today for such a delicious lunch.
Why have you suddenly changed your mind?" The moneylender told him that he didn't have the habit of obligation. On being asked how he reached that conclusion, the money lender said: "See, my dog was present during the lunch and you did not even throw a piece of bread to him while he was surely expecting it from you. If you can't give something to someone from what I gave to you then how I can expect that you will repay my loan?" The fable has a message: that the expression of obligation is a sort of habit, and the habit of obligation is a must for any success as it reflects our basic character. Obligation arises out of a sense of duty.
Through the positive development of habits we can change our destiny.
But one thing is sure here that your destiny will rely on the forms of habits, and the habits of caring, obligation and helping others are those things that make a person so wonderful no matter what faith, religion, status he belongs to.
Aristotle, too, had said somewhat like this centuries ago: "We are what we repeatedly do."
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The journey of life -

P.P. Wangchuk

The journey of life is as good or bad as one makes it to be.
All great persons have said it and proved it. My interest in writing this piece was inspired after reading a book, recently, by an old friend who, long ago, was a fine fellow journalist. A prolific writer, more of a philosophical kind, he used to write lovely essays that most of us would wait for to read.

Ashim Gill, now a fulltime writer, is the author of The philosopher's Stone that "brings to light the great mysteries of philosophy, and is an attempt to "reveal the hidden secrets that have bedeviled philosophers through the ages." It digs into the innermost workings of human soul with the help of Aristotle, Kant, Buddha, Vivekananda and the like.

The first chapter rightly starts with a lovely essay on the journey of life. The author stresses on the basic principle that all that happens during one's journey in life is because of one's karmic fate.
And hence, losses are as important as gains. After all, there has been no person who could gain without loss.

One does not "realise the importance of anything in life till it is snatched away from him..." And one's journey gets more beautiful and enjoyable if it involves a lot of struggle.

As the bard said it so beautifully, to enjoy the warmth inside, one must experience the cold outside. Similarly, in life's journey, happiness can be enjoyed only by a person who has gone through deep sorrow and struggle at every turn. Gill marshals out many such contrasts to make his point clear. "Only he knows life who knows what is death; and only he knows sanity who knows what is madness..."

Only the wise man understands the cycle of life. He rejoices neither pleasure nor is saddened by sorrow. He takes them all in his stride as if they were essential tools in the journey of life. And one who realises this, has realised the truth - happiness in layman's language.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Forgive me, Diana -

Vanita Srivastava

We all crave for love and emotional support from our family members and friends.
What we don't realise is that unselfish love can come from any quarter. We just need to acknowledge the feeling.

Diana, my Labrador, and Aditya, my son, entered my life at almost the same time.
My son was six months old when the beautiful onemonth-old breed walked into my life.

I had never been a pet lover but her innocent eyes stopped me from packing her off.

She grew up in the sprawling district collector's bungalow of my husband with an army of peons to look after her. My son had two servants at his disposal. She had five.

As she grew, her beauty blossomed. But I was never attached to her despite her `leaning' towards me.

She soon grew into her full form. Her carpet-like white hair, her big bony structure and her ferocious bark, all made her into a "beauty queen". I, however, continued to have a `cold' attitude towards her.

She would take her early morning stroll, with a host of dogs following her. I had to keep her away from all those "boyfriends." Once she disappeared in the evening and returned only the next morning. She was in an unusually high spirit.

Months later, she delivered many pups, though none survived. After years of distancing, I finally developed an emotional chord with her when she had to be operated for a tumour. I anxiously waited outside the operation theatre for almost two hours while she was fighting inside for her life.

At 14, she had become old, battling cancer of several vital organs. She couldn't move on her own and had to be lifted. And yet she, she always greeted me when I returned home. She made all the efforts to come near me as I would step out of my car.
Even my son has never greeted me as warmly.

Recently, when I passed by the place where she was laid to rest last year, I felt extremely guilty for not having acknowledged her love.
Sorry, dear Diana.
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The joys we overlook -


Shuchtita Jain

The best thing about childhood is that you are never alone. You are surrounded by so many friends. I remember having too many friends to count when I was young. It never took me more than a few minutes to make friends when I was young but then as I was growing up, I grew apart from my friends. Initially, we all tried to keep contact with each other but eventually other priorities took over.

Recently, I missed the wedding of my best friend who used to always take care of me when we were in school. It pained me later on realising how much I had really "moved on." We progressed in every sphere of our life but forgot the more beautiful and fruitful aspects of life such as spending some time with our parents and family, chatting with a loved one or reconnecting with old friends. We have become too busy to realize our own emptiness.

So one day I picked up an old diary and called up my friends. What I got exceeded my expectation -- joy, surprise and a whole lot of nostalgia. I felt as if I had done the best thing in years.

I never knew a simple phone call to your near and dear ones could give you so much happiness. There are so many simple joys in life that we often overlook. We want success, fame and money at the cost of love, family and happiness.

We sacrifice one in pursuit of another, often convincing ourselves that it is the best we could do instead of trying to find a fine balance between both. We have created a world around us where we can't even trust the people we love. Our relations have become "professional". We calculate everything - even our emotions.

Everyday life offers a million reasons to rejoice that we choose to ignore. Happiness is what one creates for oneself.
And it is possible to have success and happiness together by cherishing the little joys that life offers
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Monday, September 7, 2009

The joy of reading - HT inner voice

Pankaj Kumar

Reading books has a joy of its own. And, as S.
Radhakrishnan said, reading books leads one to not only knowledge but to acquiring wisdom as well. But the joy of reading does not come from acquiring prestigious degrees but by being one with the writer.

After we complete our formal education, we get free from the pressure of examinations and can enjoy reading all the more. In his autobiography, novelist R.K.
Narayan says, "I liked to be free to read what I pleased and not be examined at all."

Books allow us to gain from the wisdom and experience of great people. Reading a book is like being in the good company of a wise person.
He may not be with you, but you are with him.

S. Radhakrishnan said that one may acquire wisdom by studying any subject, but it comes most easily if we study literature, religion and philosophy. The study of religious books particularly makes one become more mature, helpful and kind-hearted.

If we do not have a mentor, books can guide us. Realising this fact, the Sikhs took their holy book, the Granth Sahib, as their religious teacher after the demise of their tenth guru. Religious texts like the Gita, the Ramayana, the Bible or the Koran give us guidance and the inner strength to face difficulties in life.

It's not enough to read and enjoy a good book. We should go a step further and try to be a better human beings by following the good things you have learnt from it. Only then reading makes sense.

As someone rightly and beautifully said, " the heaped up wisdom of the ages lies peacefully buried in a book and it can be yours if you have the will to pick it up.

Who can dispute that a serious reader can't get away from the influence of authors like Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Tagore.

They can bring a sea change in the attitude of the person reading their books.
read more "The joy of reading - HT inner voice"

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