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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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