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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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