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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The joy of giving

MN Kundu, Hindustan Times

Unconditional  giving  is  a  natural  principle  and evident everywhere in nature.  Earth  gives  us  solids, liquids and minerals. Water gives itself away  for  our  agriculture  and other uses. Trees give flowers, fruits and wood. Air gives us the very life-breath and the sun gives us light of life.

Even the animals give us their milk, eggs, meat, skin and various services. But what we humans contribute to the cosmos in return?

Isn’t  our role predominantly selfish and destructive? We expand civilisation to disturb ecological balance, spread pollution in fresh natural atmosphere, indulge in ruthless deforestation, kill animals even for sport and consume all natural resources for our own selfish interest.

Law of karma is a natural law whereby we are paid back in the same coin. We have added much for our comforts but we have not been able to attain peace and tranquility. We are constantly haunted by excessive greed for grabbing which is severely disturbing peaceful coexistence. We rarely do what we can for preservation of nature and even our own fellowmen. We have not moved much from the primitive selfish mentality where self-preservation was the law for survival.

What can we give back to the cosmos? We humans are predominantly gifted with mind and intellect. These are very sharp instruments indeed which can be used as surgeon’s knife for healing or as an instrument for killing. Instead of nurturing anger, jealousy, hatred, selfishness and animosity, we can spread love, care, kindness and benevolence to all and thereby transform the earthly vibration into heavenly one. If not anything else, we can at least pray for the happiness and wellbeing of all.

We are here in the image of God. We have divine inheritance of love, wisdom and self-transformation. We may resolve to be engaged in divine enjoyment of nature and God’s creation with love. Jesus said, “Those that give shall receive.” Instead of being always at the receiving end, let us abide by the principle of giving by all means and see how things change for humanity at large.
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The power of aura

Yukti Sehgal, Hindustan Times

The depth of the soul is immeasurable. Not even the human ego can identify with it. It transcends logic and rationale, to speak through the cosmic realm of consciousness. Human attributes of pride, pretentiousness and arrogance nullify in the face of the spirit. The language of the soul pierces through the physical body. Its interaction is through senses which in spiritual terms are deemed as clairvoyance (sight), clairaudience (hearing/ listening), claircognizance (knowing), clairsentience (feeling/touching), clairalience (smelling). Our five senses have the potential to cover the entire topography of the universe including that of the planets other than earth.

The human aura can expand to thousands of kms, increasing its attraction towards other species like animals, minerals and plants. Lord Buddha’s aura was believed to expand through 3,500 kms from where he stood. Indira Gandhi’s compassed more than 1,000 kms of a region.

As the body moves, so does its aura. They are two bodies but one. In the esoteric science of spirituality, the human aura consists of multiple colours like, pink, green, violet, red and blue. Each colour represents a component of virtue like love, anger, spiritual consciousness, humility, suppression and so on.

One who has an active clairvoyance --- the faculty to see through the Third Eye --- can perceive which colour is in high percentage and which is in lower degree. Spiritual seekers practice for years and decades the art of meditation to create the tones that work to balance their mind, body and soul.

Through the art of gemology it is possible to increase and decrease the level of emotions and mental vibrations in the body. For example, emerald, which is green in colour, stands for dedication, mental perseverance, heightened communication and intense concentration power. Similarly, other stones in different colours too have their own specific properties and power.

Hence, by knowing the properties of each stone, one can learn to keep the scales of one’s consciousness in right harmony and balance. This in turn holistically influences our actions in the professional and personal spheres of life as well.
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Seize the present

PP Wangchuk, Hindustan Times

Life is living in the present. It is for enjoyment and fulfilment here and now. For that, one must have the presence of mind for the present. In other words, one has to take care of the present in order to take care of the future.
Blessed is he who can seize the present and can make the best use of it. Ajit Kumar Bishnoi, in his book, Spiritual Sense – The Truths, has a lovely story that stresses the importance of the present and how to take care of it instead of brooding over the glories of the past and the uncertainties of the future.

An injured man is given shelter in a family not known to him. The kind members of the family nurse him back to good health. There is a lovely girl in the family and the man falls in love with her.

She too likes him but her strong family attachment forbids her from accompanying the man when he seeks her hand. She says she will live with the pleasant memories they had together. The man reacts, "The moment I leave this house without you, I shall forget all about you. I would love to live with you, and not with your memories. I believe in enjoying my present and I know only one thing --- my present." Hearing this, the girl loses no time to give her consent.

Living in the present or enjoying the present does not mean one should live to eat and enjoy like animals do. One has to, while taking care of the present, plan for a bright future too. Oscar Wilde had said no man is rich enough to buy back his past. But you can buy your tomorrow with your investments today. You would be, as US author David Gerrold says, a fool if you try to store your past in the future!

Moral: Caution yourself that only a fool can afford to bask in his 'glorious past'; the wise can’t thrive in its shadow.
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How to overcome anger

VN Chhibber, Hindustan Times

Whenever you are angry, before uttering a word, say to yourself, “I’ll get angry  tomorrow.”  So said Atmamaya Raja, and added, “Postponing undesired things reduce their intensity and give you time to reflect on the situation.” To which Swami Atmananda added, “Humans have the freedom to break free of any conditioning and conversely create an entirely new one. So potent is our capacity of self-consciousness.”

You’ll find negative and frustrated people all over. They make innocent people the target of their anger, and become self-centred, irresponsible and nagging.

Habitual complainers may turn out to be workaholics and achievers as they feel forced to prove to themselves that they are ‘superior’; what others think of them is of no import. What will you like to be to others: pleasant, open and receptive to new ideas, one to whom others flock; or ‘self-righteous’, angry, and absolutely non-attractive?

The significant issue is how to rise above the other person’s bitterness and make sure that you do not get influenced because otherwise, you would begin to resemble that very person; you will feel angry and frustrated. You can’t reform the other person, you can only change yourself. Keeping peace is the remedy.

There is love — a powerful emotion that can make you transcend anger in your interaction with the bitter person. This may seem difficult at first, but a start has to be made by refusing to be in the negative wavelength of the other person.

Anger is just a thought wave which we identify and respond to. So if this weakening thought wave can be controlled and changed, the response also will be calm instead of an angry stance. Bhanumathi Narasimhan’s words come to mind, “It is important that we connect to the inner-net and not just the internet. Go out and explore nature and don’t lose the human touch.”
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cultivate awareness


Everybody makes a choice, but a choice made in unawareness is compulsion. Let us say you get angry. It is your choice to be angry. You believe that is the way to handle the situation, but the choice is made in such unawareness that it is a compulsion.

One must shift into making a conscious choice. Even a simple act, like when you  wake up in the morning, he unconscious choice is that you do not want to  wake  up.  This is the unconscious choice. Your physical body wants to remain in the bed for some more time.

There are so many limitations in your experience of life that in many ways, unconsciously, you are not really looking forward to the day. Let us say tomorrow,  you  have  planned to go on a picnic. Do you see, before the sun rises you will wake up on that  day? Consciously, you had decided the previous day; you are now looking forward to tomorrow.

Why ascetic paths were set is simply because of this: you start doing things that are naturally not comfortable for you; you do it but you do not like it. Things that you like, you can do compulsively.

Things that you do not like, you can only do it consciously; there is no other way. When you are hungry, the natural urge is to grab food and eat. Now you make a  conscious  choice, ‘I am very hungry, but I am not eating.’ To stay away from food, there is no other choice except being conscious about it.

Maybe,  initially your awareness is only for half-an-hour a day, but gradually you are bringing it into various aspects. The idea of cultivating awareness is to make it seep into your life.
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Be not slave to habits

P P Wangchuk, Hindustan Times

Ambrose Bierce, American writer, had said, “In each human heart is a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.”

Let us remind ourselves that this “unequal activity” depends entirely on circumstances; and different traits come to the fore in different individuals. Man, when born, comes with no habits and behaviour pattern. It is all the “goings-on” around him that influence him and he becomes a product of his circumstances.

That makes one feel sure that we are all victims of our habits and circumstances. While circumstances lead us to our developing particular habits and a behavioural pattern, habits form an important factor in changing circumstances.

No wonder, Shakespeare too had this on his mind when he said that circumstances could change one into anything — One could become courteous or quarrelsome, a liar or truthful, an ass or a nightingale — all depending on one's circumstances.

Do you think Gandhi would have become the Gandhi we know today but for the British  rule? And similarly, but for the circumstances you were in, you would have been quite another person, different from what you are today.

English poet William Hazlitt had said that man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.

That drives us to the point that your habits, over a period of time, blunt this much-desired trait of making sense of what is good and what is bad for you and for your society. Chances are greater that your habits are well-trained to judge what is good for yourself but may not be necessarily good for others.

So the moral: You have become selfish and your behaviour and habits are the very antithesis of the concept of the greater good of all. Pause for a moment and ponder over how to acquire habits that will make you more humane and loving. Let's give a lie to ‘Old habits don’t die’.
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Love, revere nature

Dharminder Singh Ubha, Hindustan Times

Nature is peerless in vastness, bounties and beauties. It is the richest treasure mankind has. Man can benefit from it, learn from it and enjoy it in countless ways. No other single source can educate his mind and sublimate his soul like nature does.

Wordsworth, while asserting that "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her" declares that nature is our best teacher and guide: "One touch from a vernal wood/May teach you more of man / Of moral evil and of good /Than all the sages can."

In yet another poem, he laments that in man's blind craze for material comfort, he has drifted from nature, as a consequence of which, he has lost spiritual depth and peace of mind.

Our own sages and saints have said nature has a lot to give and teach us, and if we want to put an end to the miseries of our life, we should go back to the lovely lap of our benign mother, nature.

Today's man is unhappy and discontented because he has gone away from nature and started attaching too much importance to worldly things. This attitude has made him greedy, selfish and narrow-minded.

The great lesson from nature is that it never discriminates between the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the young and the old. It treats  all alike and distributes its bounties freely to whosoever approaches it. It inspires us to do good, to be kind to everybody and to add to the beauty of the world.

How bad that in his greed for more and more material comforts, man has started playing havoc with nature that sustains him, feeds him, soothes his heart and sublimates his soul, which gives him endless joy, and elates his spirit by making him forget the rough and tumble of this world! To conclude in Guru Nanak's words, "I am a sacrifice to Your almighty creative power which is pervading everywhere. Your limits cannot be known."

Isn't it time for us to think and be kind with nature?
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Think differently

Rajendra Bist, Hindustan Times

It is a godly act that all men do not think alike. Therefore, it has rightly been said that when all men think alike, no one thinks much. The process of thinking is such that greater the thinking, the greater the possibility of achieving excellent results. And the entire innovative process owes its existence to men who had the courage to think differently.

Shiv Khera is right when he says that great men do not do different things, they do them differently. It is a blessing in disguise that men of letters are engaged in the process of thinking which is not intelligible to the men of ordinary prudence.

The result is obviously a great literary work, a great improvement in the existing scientific discoveries - a visible leap towards a great future.

To illustrate my point, I would say that when I was a schoolboy, I used to go to the Boat Club (India Gate) and could never imagine that in the days (or rather years to come) there would be palatial buildings like the Rail Bhawan, Vigyan Bhawan and the National Museum etc.  The Delhi Rail Metro system was just unthinkable then.

These are example of architectural excellence achieved by some of our great engineers and architects. They just thought differently and got the desired results that we see today in awe.

These differently-thinking persons have given us a different and beautiful world to live in and enjoy. But for them, life could have been poorer and boring.

Let us, therefore, understand that the thinking process is a continuous process for there is nothing so good that can't be made better. And, what is good today may be considered ugly in the distant future. A collective, cogent and constructive thinking preceded the concerted efforts of the men engaged in these ventures.

Excellence in any field could be achieved if. the people in that area think of possible ways to improve the existing status. As nothing remains perfect forever, one must be ‘on the go’ all the time.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

God’s Sense of Humour

With the doctrine of rebirth, each person can understand that his happiness and misery, greatness and smallness and absence of virtue are the results of his own karma (actions) in the previous birth.
The incident I am going to narrate disturbed all my long held beliefs in God. 

Last summer, it was the month of May round about 12 O’clock It was too hot to stay out. The sun was red hot, a merciless incendiary. A young boy of about22 years was crawling at the door of  the temple where every day I used to go. The boy was trying to stand on his own and his attendant  was helping him. I too gave him the support. He bowed in front of the deity at the temple and as he turned back, I saw his face and recognized  him. His father was well known to me and had lost his wife, the mother of the boy, one year back. A few months after that  the father and the boy had met with horrible road accident in which the boy’s spinal chord was fractured. This accident left his lower portion parallelized. Seeing him and remembering all this, I was shocked, shaken and deeply disturbed.

If the boy had died on the spot, it would have been better for him and for his father also, I thought. This trauma was worse than death and this was my personal feelings. I ask Him, “O God. You are supremely compassionate; your mercy descends not only on the deserving, but even on the most undeserving, I know, no one can reach your sense of humor – or is it his strange sense of ‘justice’.

No one can understand the mystery of this universe and the reason of endless sufferings awaiting us in this short fugitive life. I was thinking of those who repose all their trust in Him and  God , Who     betrayed that trust.             
And yet who have faith, continue to believe.
Based on a Real Incident

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Inner Voice

Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj, Hindustan Times

“Man is an architect of his own destiny.” A deep thinking is required to understand this phrase. Over the years, we have created many superstitions and rituals around luck like the cat crossing our path, wearing the lucky charm on our wrist etc. We actually invest a lot of our time in these beliefs, hoping that they will change our luck…But!! 

Do these beliefs or superstitions have any connection with our luck or destiny? Not really! If you think you are stuck up in life, then accept it and move on to find a way out!

The most practical way is that we can become unstuck and invoke luck just by changing our attitude and outlook towards whatever it is that we are stuck into. Find the opportunity within the scenario that you are in. However bleak it may seem there is atleast an opportunity to learn something new about you, to grow and  enrich your life.

We can make our life full and worthwhile by seeing the opportunities, rather then obstacles.  

A lucky person is one who sees the opportunities in front of them, for this we need to practise being present and engaging with the present.

We create our own limits (blockages) and become stuck in our comfort zones. Never judge or compare your luck with others, rather see and appreciate the opportunities and fortune that you have. We currently use so little of our potential!

Each of us has our own uniqueness (specialities). When we understand our true potential , we can see our fortune i.e. what we can become. Within everyone of us there is a hidden treasure, it is just about getting through the mud and debris to the beauty within us & evoke our luck.
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Mahavir and his ways

Devendra K Kaushik

Mahavir Jayanti is an important religious day for Jains. On this day in 599 B.C. a boy was born in a royal family in Vaisali district, near Patna.  He was named Vardhman. Because of his display of extra-ordinary courage during his childhood, he was known as Mahavir.

At 30, he renounced his kingdom, family and all material possessions. He wandered in jungles like an ascetic, meditating for most of the time for over 12 years, and received enlightenment.

Thereafter, he was on the move to different parts of the country, preaching and spreading his message of peace and harmony. Though, he was the 24thand the last ‘tiranthkar’ (saint of highest order), he was a social reformer and propagator of an already existing religion.  He said, “There is nothing so small and subtle as the atom; nor any element so vast as space. Likewise, there is no quality of soul more subtle than ‘ahimsa’ and no virtue of spirit greater than reverence of life.” Thus, ahimsa or non-injury to other living beings including animals and plants was emphasized.

Mahavir said there is no knowledge without right path; no conduct is possible without proper knowledge; without conduct there is no liberation of the soul; and without liberation, no deliverance can be accomplished.

Similarly, a strong desire for happiness is the root cause of unhappiness and hence, the rejection of material desires and comforts is the only way to get rid of human suffering. His other teachings include refraining from speaking untruth, stealing, material acquisition and adultery.

Bhagwan Mahavir said one should always set reasonable limits to one’s needs and whatever surplus remains should be disposed to the needy. That is why on this day his followers collect donations for charity purposes. Food is distributed to the poor and the destitute.

Mahavir, though born into a royal family, had adopted a simple life of destitute, not possessing even clothes. He taught us to lead a most-purposeful life of dedication to society. Let us come together to emulate his teachings for a healthy society.
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God’s own man

Bhartendu Sood, PTS

This incident happened sometime ago on my way to Badrinath. As the evening set in, I felt tired. Spotting a place to rest, I got off the  bus I was traveling in.

On an enchanting meadow, I was about to open my packed food box, when I heard someone calling, “Gentleman, why don’t you come and take your food here. It will be more comfortable for you.”

As I turned, I saw an old man waiving his hand. Soon I was in his room. He made me feel comfortable, heated my food and served me water and tea. After relaxing for some time, as I got up to take leave, he said,” You should go in the morning. Day journey will enable you to enjoy the scenic beauty. You can share this room.” I agreed gratefully.

Next morning when I got up, he was already free from his morning chores and had kept tea and hot water ready for me. I had a wonderful stay and before saying good-bye, I thanked him profusely and put some money on the table.

“Hey, what are you doing? I’m a retired professor and all my children are highly placed. I am staying here because I want to pass the twilight years of my life away from my kin.”

Then he took me to the adjoining room which gave the look of a class room with benches and tables.

 “See, here I conduct coaching classes for the students of the nearby villages so that they can compete with the privileged lot for cities. Since I’ve much more money than what I need, sometimes I help the needy in their higher education.

Villagers also take care of me. The food what I served you in the night was brought from there and this is a packed food for your journey. And, thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity.”

I didn’t know how to thank him but the kindness and love shown by him is etched on my mind. Here was a ‘karmyogi’ who was ascetic and yet always looking for an opportunity to help others without expecting anything in return.
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Life beyond religion

PP Wangchuk, Hindustan Times

An atheist or an agnostic can be as good and eligible for ‘qualifying’ for realisation as a deeply religious person. What does that convey? That religion is not a must for ‘nirvana’ but only one of the ways.

The Dalai Lama’s latest book, ‘Beyond Religion: Ethics for a whole World’, says one can be a good, kind and compassionate person without being religious. But be sure nowhere does he say that one should not be religious. To be religious is a great thing; but not to be religious too can be a great happening.
The book attempts to discover life and happiness beyond religion. It goes into the search for a new religion that would produce more than religious persons in terms of human values and acceptable to all kinds of people - religious, atheists or agnostics.

The author says in today’s globalised world, sticking to one’s particular religious thoughts could create a hell of a world in which there could be nothing but disputes; and our hope for peace and harmony would go for a toss. Only a religion of humanism will be capable of burying the issues of ‘us’ and them’ once for all. You would be very right if you ask how can one be good and loving towards one’s enemies and the so-called complete strangers. The answer is that the feeling that someone is your enemy comes up only when you nurture such a thought in your mind. If you change that or replace that kind of feeling or thought in your mind, your enemy will cease to be there. He /she is then left out there as a mere reflection of your self.

True, it is not going to be that easy. But given the will, you can always find ways to make it happen. Regular meditation is one way. It has the magic of moulding your mind into a state that you will see nothing but good and beauty in everything around you.
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Miraculous ways of God

Shama Rana, Hindustan Times

God is not my co-pilot; He is always in full control. This sums up my relationship with God. The wonders that the Almighty can do cannot be expressed; it is only for the heart to feel. I too have been blessed on many occasions to witness divine encounters, which may be rubbished aside as coincidence by many. But, to me, it is all His manifestation.

In the beginning, it was just a belief, which has over a period of time blossomed into unswerving faith in Shirdi Sai Baba. Here I would like to relate an encounter with the Baba. It all happened on the day of my job interview, in 2008. As there was only a single vacancy, the opportunity seemed bleak and I was sceptical. I had worried myself sick over the thoughts of impending examination scheduled the next day. I was sitting beside the usher outside the interview board room.

From where I was seated, I could clearly hear the commotion wafting from the interview room and my nerves were getting frayed by the minute. I closed my eyes and asked Sai Baba for help. I opened my eyes and glanced towards the usher who was reading a newspaper.

To my pleasant surprise, the newspaper had Sai Baba's picture on it. I vaguely remembered that it was in connection with some news pertaining to the proposed airport at Shirdi; but it was a message loud and clear from Him to me!

I knew the Baba was with me and he will steer me out of this situation successfully. I rose from my seat, I felt as if my soul had been released and I was flying. While sitting across the interviewers, I knew nothing of fear.

The next day, when the results were out, it was no less than what I had expected. Sai Baba

got the job for me. God manifests his 'Swaroopa' to plant a seed of faith but we have to make it sure that it is solely our duty to see it grow. And then you can see wonders happening in your life.
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Go with the flow

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Hindustan Times

It  is  important to know what keeps and what really disturbs interpersonal relationships. The relationship gets disturbed when disagreement begins. 
Just  look  at  yourself. You had some idea yesterday; today you may have a different idea. Five years ago, you had other ideas that do not necessarily agree with the ideas that you have today. So, when you have disagreement with yourself, why should it not happen with someone  else?  The  ‘someone’  you  have  a  disagreement  with  is just a photocopy  of  your old or the new self. So you need to take a look at your own  thought patterns and emotional patterns; there is a rhythm in them and in the consciousness.

We need to find harmony between all these rhythms within us and that’s what is  called  spirituality.  For maintaining interpersonal relationships, you have  to  first  have  a relationship with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is called integrity.

Secondly,  being informal keeps your interpersonal relationship strong, for it  gives space for mistakes to happen. You cannot expect perfection in any relationship or situation. Today one of the biggest problems with the world is  emotional  instability.  When we create an informal outlook and cordial environment  around us, we grease the friction and become the master of our environment and not feel helpless about what is happening around us.

Life  is very complex. There is no set formula. When you think that you are very  honest  and  righteous, you become a little stiff inside without even realizing  it. When you recognise that there are flaws in you, you are then able to accommodate the flaws in other persons.

It  is  not  only your vices or bad qualities that will harm you, even your good  qualities  can make you stiff, rude and angry. That is why you should surrender both bad and good qualities. Take life as it comes. Sometimes you are  upset  or  angry;  it  is OK. Relax and let go. Life does not stop for anything;     it     moves.  Just move with    the flow. 

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