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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happiness strings

MN Kundu, Hindustan Times

Unblemished happiness arises from wishing for others’ happiness, while unending suffering arises from wishing exclusively for our own happiness. Shantideva warned, “If you do not switch your concern from your own happiness to relieving others’ pain, you will not achieve Buddhahood and there will be no pleasure in your own cyclic existence.” Maitri bhavana or cultivating a mind of unconditional love and benevolence for all sentient beings, therefore, constitute an indispensable spiritual practice in Buddhism which culminates in identification of oneself with all beings.

While mindful meditation develops observing awareness, maître bhavana cultivates empathetic awareness. Empathy is the ability to share others’ emotions, thoughts or feelings by imaginatively stepping into their world. In doing so, we realise their concerns, fears, hopes, passions as our own, which changes our behaviour towards them. This uplifts our negative emotions transforming them into positive with loving care, concern, benevolence and well-wishing.

Maitri bhavana has three dimensions. When we are aware of others’ happiness, we experience mudita (empathetic joy without jealousy). Awareness of suffering of others is transformed into karuna (compassion with a sense of empathy, not pity). Awareness of empathetic joy and suffering of others make us probe deeper into their root cause lying in past  actions or karma, which  develops upekkha or equanimity, calm, loving, non-judgemental awareness of the flow of phenomena.

Maitri bhavana needs to be generated regularly in meditation and then practised daily. Sit down with deep relaxation. Focus on breathing. Concentrate in heart centre and cultivate maître feelings for yourself, friend, difficult person with whom you have conflict, and to all sentient beings. Send emotional vibration of love, appreciation, forgiveness, apology and good wishes through imagination or creative visualisation.

It makes us harmonious with the world transcending hatred and intolerance. It makes us magnetic and radiant with love, benevolence, serenity, warmth and calmness. It is a panacea for all the major world problems today.
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Welcome all changes

VN Chhibber, Hindustan Times

Welcome the New Year as all beginnings are good and auspicious. Change the calendar with gladness for a spiritual leader’s prophecy is that the year will  be  better: “In  2012, there will be higher awakenings; shifts in consciousness and new beginnings at all levels.”

Mark Twain had said: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the  bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your  sails. Explore, dream, discover.” He wanted us to be adventurous. And GK Chesterton felt: “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a New Year. It is that we should have a new soul.”

What Oren Arnold said about X’mas holds good for New Year too: “To your enemy, forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to a customer,  service;  to  all charity; to every child, a good example; to yourself, respect.”  Self-esteem ensures well-being. You have been gifted with a human frame  that  is His marvel of outer and inner engineering – strong exterior with tenderness within.

I  attended a spiritual workshop recently. The participants owe their ‘metamorphosis’ to it. What we learnt is that we have to repose full faith in  whom  we  believe. We  may  exercise  patience  for our prayers to be answered. Tolerance has high premium.

Travel  light to go through life’s journey – with no heavy burden on lean shoulders.  Take quick decisions, master emotions, discriminate between the real and the fake. Speak soft and sweet that is music to the ears.

In a relationship,  contact with another through a firm handshake or warm embrace. Gift-giving  is sign of intimacy of self with fellow beings. Forget,  forgive and renew contacts. Along with physical obligations, we fulfill our spiritual duties also by making sure that we are as much in contact with Him as we are with family and friends.
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