Philosophy

Moodily Sweet

Moodily Sweet

‘Writing comes from you, what happens when there is no more ‘you’?’ – Dr. Paul Pearsal

I have not penned down a single line in the last two months and once again I am stumped. That’s the reason the above line springs to mind. All my writings, almost all, come from some personal experience, learning, reading or interaction with others and their experiences from which I learn. In a way, I can acknowledge that my writings are my mirror. They reflect my mood, state of mind or my level of understanding, growth and maturity.  Writing is my way of sharing my learning and also keeping myself busy. Me busy means a happy, cheerful, smiling me. A me with some purpose and a progressive goal for my tomorrows.

I have never thought of myself as the ‘author’ of my life. Author is one and one only, God. But, I can definitely be the editor of my life, and that’s what my writings help me improve; be a proactive, daily editor of my life…. Now, that brings me back to the first line! I have not written in more than a month.  Which brings me to my next question, had I stopped editing my life? Had my life become stagnant? Or had my life come to a utopian, changeless state? The answer is a big ‘NO’ to both. Neither is my life stagnant nor is my life utopian yet, so why had the editing come to a pause?! 

For every anecdote I share with you all, travelling down 4 decades of memory lane is exhausting, yet I can’t help it. Most of the baggage I am unloading now, or have started to unload in the recent past; I seem to have lugged it since ages. Like even this adjective ‘moody’; I remember wondering why I was called moody from the time I was probably 7 or 9 years old! Which is again 4 decades ago! Most of my family, friends and acquaintances described me as ‘Sweet natured’ and ‘moody’.  Sweet natured and moody seemed and still seem contradictory to me.  Moody and broody seem a likely combination. Sweet natured and smiling seemed to go together. Personally, I never thought I was moody. I was always smiling and sweet natured (that’s what I thought).

To bring a semblance to the above topic jumps; this phase of writing, not writing, lapsing into long sessions of oblivion and suddenly resurfacing and becoming very proactive; all this starkly highlighted the word ‘moody’. ‘Sweet’ was a polite addition (more to not hurt my feelings). Thus, a mature, unbiased look at the mirror did reveal a very moody and less ever- smiling pattern to me! Most of life oscillates between these two emotional states and thus it was no wonder that people described me as ‘moodily sweet’. Thus, the mystery about me unraveled itself after so many decades and I know where that adjective ‘moodily- sweet’ comes from.

No, no; I am not trying to recommend meditation yet again! (though this understanding and clarity is because of meditation). I am saying I understand myself better today and I try to change myself with a better understanding of why I need to make the change.  I now see the need to change myself for my own self and for my own mood management. Next time someone tries to describe me I aspire to be described as ‘sweet’ and not ‘moodily sweet’.

What I write comes from me; all the moodily sweet learnings make me the person I am today. In this sweet mood phase I am attempting two articles, both interconnected. I hope to explain my state of mind and also my learning. Meditation has helped me know myself and it continues to show me my true nature. I know what makes me moody and how I can temper my mood. Meditation helped me acknowledge that I am a ‘moody’ person. It is meditation alone which has enabled me to articulate myself. These writings, if they can help any one person enquire about meditation, it is half the job done for me. And the day one person joins the path to self- discovery and begins meditation, then I will consider myself a successful writer. My writings are my learnings and my teachings too.

‘It is my opinion that many really good teachers do not come from joyful households where all was easy. They come from a place of much pain and suffering, and they’ve worked through the layers to reach the place where they can now help others to become free. – Louise Hay’

Spiritual Business

Spiritual Business

I have just returned from a Heartfulness Training Workshop in Vrads Sande, Denmark. During His talks Master twice made references to ‘Spiritual Business’. My 12 year old daughter who was in the adjacent room heard the reference and later asked me why Master referred to our spiritual journey as a ‘Business’.

For her business was a give and take thing – venture which entailed profit.  Competition is integral to business, and emotions are very likely to be trifled with. To her understanding, a spiritual journey was exactly the opposite. This path is that of pure love, sacrifice and volunteer work – a zero profit venture. This is the noblest path to follow, one where emotions dictate everything. Thus, this comparison with business was a mismatch according to her opinions.

Actually, when Master first used the term ‘business’, even I felt somewhat nonplussed, because my comprehension of the word ‘business’ was exactly what my daughter had voiced. So, what was the ‘profit’ element in Spirituality? What was the transaction? What was I trading in this business? I was here for myself, to know myself and become a better human being. I was here to lose the layers of samskara I had accumulated over the years and many past lives too. This practice helped me peel the layers, become wise, and hopefully become discerning. This was all about me and me alone. If I practiced diligently, I stood to gain.  If I was lethargic, the loss too was mine, that I remained stagnant. So where was the transaction, with any outside party as such? Who was I getting into a trade with in this spirituality business? So, why did Master repeatedly refer to this as a business? Where were the profit /loss for anyone apart from the person concerned? What was the risk?

If I did consider this as His, my Master’s, spiritual business, then He stood to lose the most. This path has no entry fee. This path knocks on doors and volunteers introduce the Method free of cost.  The workshops are conducted by volunteers and are all free of cost too. Our annual congregations in India are free of cost. Apart for the travel expenses, boarding, lodging and food is free.  This is the same for every activity in India and every workshop or event we conduct; everything is free.  Even after everything being offered keeping in mind the comfort of the aspirant, there is zero guarantee that the aspirant will reap the benefit by understanding this path and what it truly has to offer. So what did the Master stand to gain? Of the innumerable seeds He has sown, scattered everywhere He set His foot, how many will He reap? Most of those seeds will die as seeds, or grow a bit and wither away. Maybe one in a hundred will become a tree and bear fruit. Would He be amongst us to see the one odd tree bear fruit? Probably not; yet He continues to sow seeds, invest His time, effort and energy in this assured loss venture. So from His side also I saw no reason for Him to call this a ‘Business’. Why would one talk about an assured loss?

So, how could I explain the term ‘Business’ to my girl? What profit was Master referring to when He said Business? Thus, with my limited understanding, I attempted to answer my daughter’s question. I tried to explain how this spiritual journey was ‘Business’ for me! What I have gained from this path, and continue to gain every day, is so crystal clear that my profit and loss statement is tilted heavily on the positive side. For me this was a sole proprietary business. I stood to gain or lose in direct proportion to my involvement, diligent learning and honest implementation of the same. So this remained an individual journey; a sole proprietary concern. That said, my next question popped up immediately.

For every aspirant at an individual level this path or any spiritual path is a sole proprietary business. The day we become wise enough to comprehend that this profit needs to be dispersed, a new business begins. The risk of being lethargic was heavy; I could lose my Self or remain ignorant about the Self.  I think I will term that as a partnership business where we share a mutual brotherhood; a sincere yearning to share our profits. This learning has to begin to reflect at home and amongst other family members.  Learning left in the locker like a fixed deposit sum fetches no interest nor does it grow. So there is a need for this sole proprietary concern to spread its wings and become a partnership. Then this spiritual business can flourish profitably. This was a funny sort of business where individual success became imperative for the whole Mission to succeed and prosper. The sole proprietary concern flourishes and aspires towards a successful partnership. It should continue to share profits and grow into a Global Mission.

Master is at the helm of the affairs and for Him the whole Mission is a sole proprietary concern! One person, one unit, one family is what we are for Him, the Mission is one. This repeated reference to spiritual business suddenly started to make sense to me!

In today’s world, profit and loss are the kind of terms we tend to comprehend faster. We are wary and reluctant to acknowledge any philanthropic work but we are all ears the minute a ‘business’ idea is talked about! The day we ‘see’ profit in ‘spirituality’ we will probably start taking it seriously. We will give it the place and priority it needs in our lives.  This is actually the most profitable business venture with the potential to make every other venture profitable eternally! But we never look at this spiritual path as a ‘business’ venture; probably because tangible profit is not visible. The risk of ‘loss of Self’ is intangible; hence we remain oblivious to this risk too. The second reason may also be that for every other venture we depend on ourselves more, our efforts are consistent and focused. We have a vision and a goal. Whereas in spiritual business because the profit is intangible we feel like we are either groping in the dark for too long or we are dependent on someone (Master) too much. And the subtle change, the inner change that is happening is met with resistance on the outside, making it worse for us. One small hurdle, clash or friction on the outside and we abandon the path or drop it like a hot brick.  We set off in search of a different venture, a more tangibly profitable one.

Only if we started thinking and considering our spiritual journey as our prime ‘business’ and repeatedly strove to maximize our profit in this ‘business’ will the purpose of this life be served, the goal be achieved.  And that is His intent. He wants us to take this spiritual ‘‘Business’ seriously. And if ‘business’ is the key, magic word, that helps us take this path seriously, so be it.

Foe to Friend

Foe to Friend

Anger- our enemy

Anger is the single most dreadful disease a human being can suffer from. This singular emotion leaves the person totally incapacitated and helpless, more like an invalid. Anger robs the person of discretion, reasoning, sanity and most importantly love. It breeds hatred, guilt and fear in the person. An angry person is afraid from within and feared by the outside world too. It is a double loss to the individual. The reasons for anger are many but the result is the same always; it gets a hold over our reasoning and wisdom. For any personal progress (physically, emotionally and spiritually) getting a grip over this vicious vice is imperative.

If we can fathom the reason for our anger; it is half the battle won. Each one has their own unique triggers and we get an intuition even before we are actually in the situation. Anger gives a premonition and tells the person that we are walking into the red alert zone. All we need to be is awake, alert and read the signs correctly. We can avoid the traps and move away from that place till the storm subsides and re-enter with a sane frame of mind. So you are proactively addressing the crisis and the chances of a positive result are enhanced instantaneously. The individual triggers need to be addressed first as compared to the events on the outside, which arouse anger in the individual. Unmet expectations is the most predominant and common cause of anger and very controllable too. Start keeping a lower bench mark and try and make it negligible over a period of time. The normal or calm state of mind stays with such people and one rarely encounters them in a ruffled state.

 

Managing anger

Self help books recommend ‘count to 10’ therapy and later have changed it to; “counting to 10 only aggravates the condition, count to 100 instead!”

I have been a victim of the dreaded disease for long. Thus, what I cite below is what has worked for me and it was not counting to 10 or 100! I needed to do a lot of learning, re learning before I could boldly write this article and state, “Yes! This works!”

Learn to be forgiving: I am mentioning this first because this is the most difficult part. Anger makes us do and say things we regret later and it becomes very tough to forgive and forget. It may be possible to forget the other person but the real test and challenge is to forgive oneself. If we are able to recall the pain of forgiving oneself then getting a hold over that anger trigger will seem an easier hurdle to overcome. Personally, this has been my toughest battle. I am totally unforgiving and very vengeful by nature. Getting angry was equivalent to raising hell and severing ties with the person totally. Am a better and more self forgiving person now, anger still comes but goes away real quick. Turning my biggest foe to become my friend, this is where I began, befriended myself and forgive myself first!

Find an acceptable outlet for yourself: Getting angry is not so abnormal, but getting out of control when you are angry is the worrisome part. If we have a reasonable, more acceptable channel to release our steam it is a safe bet to go for it. This activity or outlet must be easy and something that comes spontaneously to the person concerned. If the person has to seek an outlet which is not very close to the heart then it never pops to the mind when the person is getting angry. Like I said before; most self help books advised me to drink water, count to 10 or switch off mentally. All the three were not my cup of tea! I could never think of water or even manage counting and switching off was impossible when I was so boiling with rage! I decided what worked for me was, leave that place. Just get away and revisit it when you are calmer. I was always afraid of saying too much if I continued to stay in the same place and simmer! Instead, I stepped out or crawled within; (Needed to befriend myself urgently!) So, seek your own individual outlet, friends. Else you will get angrier at not being able to control your anger!

Go out for walks: This is the most therapeutic way of getting off the steam, and least harmful. Walking takes the person away from the place of action and also gives the person time to think, come back to a calm state, start thinking reasonably and do some introspection. This and what I am about to write further worked wonders for me.

Regular dairy writing, prayer and meditation proved to be my panacea. I did this with dedication ;( in fact I am still doing all the three), for 3 months and I could see a change in myself. I would sit and write about the situation, and what exactly caused the anger to surge in me. I realized that nine out of ten, it was something very frivolous and easily ignorable. All I had to do initially was to move away, and with time I could mentally switch off myself. At times I still used to get angry, react, and then write about it in my dairy. This worked as an introspective tool for me. I would read it through and promise to myself to put an end to this. It took me 3 months of sustained efforts and a conscious deliberate determination on my part to overcome my anger. I am not saying I have conquered this vice but I am on the right track and my foe is today a friend, not my best buddy yet; but I have successfully rendered my foe powerless.

Despite these individual differences we all are not so different really, because in the end we do get angry and are afraid of losing control. So, see what works for you and walk on the right path right away. Letting go of anger gives us an inner strength and courage like never before and we feel less burdened; in fact we may feel light enough to be able to fly maybe! Good luck and new beginnings to all of us.

 

Memories

Memories

Last two years have been a sort of transit or ’preparing for the big shift’ kind of years for us. Our son was on the threshold of ‘flying out of the nest’ and enters hostel life; join a college. And our daughter and I were to shift to a new country. So the last two years most of our conversations, (son-daughter –I) revolved around ‘memories’. What we would like to take with us and what was best forgotten, left behind.

I have always been an avid souvenir and memory collector. Any new place we visit I would insist upon  family photos, just the siblings, all together starting from having breakfast in the resort and winding up with  going back to the room and retire for the night. Everything had to be captured; pictures taken and savored for a future date; fond reminiscences for our leisurely time, old age. I collected innumerable small inconsequential trinkets of sorts, just as a ’memory’ of that place. Going shopping for such nondescript things used to be an exciting event for me and harassment for all the rest. Even photographs became a joke amongst us. We used to then travel a lot and so pictures seemed a time waste for the children. They used to get irritated and hide their face, make jokes and run away whenever I pulled out the dreaded camera. According to them I was being silly, wasting time and none of this really mattered so much. This memory thing was more of an individual fad than a collective consensus.

With time I too lost interest, stopped taking pictures and our last few trips we went and returned, with zero pictures and no souvenirs either! Finally I had succeeded in changing my mindset to suit theirs and they were happy too. Moreover, our travelling also came to a standstill the last five years. Increased studies for my son and my husband being posted abroad the room to make these trips were nullified. My husband travelled crazily because of his work and all he wanted to do at home was stay in, rest, rejuvenate and not travel again. It came to a point where presently, when we were packing up none of us had any memories. We had no recent trips, no pictures, and no souvenirs to pack and take with us to our new homes.

I gradually disposed all the old memories and had never created any new good ones and the quintessential memory of my life was missing. My son had his farewell and he took those pictures, but when it came to the house, and his family he also did not have a single family picture. He was not very concerned then. He was excited about going to hostel, making new friends and new memories were just around the corner for him.

My daughter, though, created a huge (must be a girl thing) collection of’ memories’. She took a lot of pictures with her friends, made presentations and video recorded her time with her friends. She created and gifted an album for her brother too, pictures of his cousin’s and growing up years.

It so happened that the one person who longed and cherished memories, namely me, had none to take with me, neither of the house nor of the people in the house! I, half angrily and half in an attempt at ‘emptying’; the house and the mind; had done away with photos and souvenirs. Nothing cherish able came to mind and I was more a realistic, pragmatic person packing the house and making the shift. This was in stark contrast to the emotional and sentimental fool that I used to be in the past.

Last week my son revisited the old house and messaged this to me; ‘Ma, went to our house. It was so vacant and lonely; looked totally barren. I took pictures of the empty house; my memories. I felt very sad.”  This message set me thinking, what do we human beings hang on to in the name of memories? I so fondly used to collect trinkets over the years and yet today I rely more on my memory for memories! I have nothing tangible for all those good times and yet many spring to the mind the second I close my eyes. The bad ones and the good ones alike seem to have found a permanent spot in the brain’s hardware. Unfortunately the good ones seem to have found a connection to the tangible ‘memories’ I had created for myself, whereas the bad ones somehow seem to have embedded themselves into my subconscious self.  I needed photographs to look, recollect my good days and moments whereas try as I might the sad ones became permanent residents. They had followed me to my present house too. I could not leave them in this big shift that I made. I had ‘emptied’ myself of the good and ended up paying excess baggage for garbage.

On the other hand, my son seemed to be more mature, he was enjoying his present and simultaneously collecting memories of his past. He had photographed the empty house and was taking with him his good memories. My daughter too had settled herself well in the new house and is enjoying everything. She speaks to her old friends and tries to meet new people with the same enthusiasm and gusto. Her tangible and intangible memories were the same, happy and within reach.

I, unconsciously, had developed the habit of storing unwanted memories and the attitude towards cherished good memories seemed to be very slack. I lost the habit of appreciating the small good things that were happening in my daily life. I was hanging on to memories with a very wrong attitude. My memories seemed to depend on photographs or trinkets. The good ones were dependant on tangible things whereas others (which should have been forgotten) were leaving indelible marks on my present. Memories were good or bad depending on the attitude I had towards them. The lonely house was a memory for my son, he remembered more about all the trips we made in the past. And here I was; I could recall barely anything of any place or moment.

My dear son, in his own sweet unassuming mature way had again given me a profound insight into my attitude and thinking of ‘memories’. I surely needed to press the reset button and quickly build an arsenal of beautiful memories, independent of  photographs and souvenirs.

 

100% Character

100% Character

There is a channel called UNIVERSAL Channel, here in London (where I reside these days) and I watch a few shows on that channel. Apart for the shows, which are a very apt ‘time waste strategy’ for my bored soul; the most inspiring part of that channel’s telecast is the advertisement or their tagline, if it can be called that;  they telecast in between every show.

They have different starting lines and questions; and they feature a different person, trying to share their story and inspire the audience.  Some of the questions are –“What does it take to keep your head when your heart is broken?” or “what does it take to smile and help others when your own life is a miserable mess?” Or “what does it take to speak up for those who are afraid to?” or “what does it take to win, when the world has already declared you a loser?” or “What does it take to keep your cool when you have the hottest temper?” or “What does it take to bend the line but never break it?” or “What does it take to show compassion yet be firm?” or My favorite thus far; “What does it take to find the why behind the who?” Many more such introspective questions and the answer to all of them is 100% character! This representation of character, and advertising it the way they did, touched me. The shows are all mundane, uninspiring and typical thriller or domestic dramas, and every few minutes this advertisement comes like a breath of fresh air. For me, this advertisement became the pivotal point of interest. In no time the show was a mere time pass and I looked up from my work only when I heard the background score of that advertisement. I eagerly wait for the new question and the new person they feature every time.

Many revelations have revealed themselves through these simple 100% character advertisements and there many ambassadors. To cite a few that appealed most to me; I always found jogging stupid and an activity which only mindless and jobless people indulged in! What did jogging achieve? And when that person said the exact same lines I was thrilled to the core! But what followed was the inspiring bit, instead of mindless jogging he went ahead and started a jog for a cause foundation! How creative and how honorable the gesture was. This person started delivering newspaper, milk, medicines and the basic essentials to the people in his vicinity and free of cost, on a daily basis! He became the jogger deliverer. And very soon others came forward and now the group has about 1000 joggers doing the same service in their neighborhood. He made a difference and showed 100% character, right?

Another story which is gripping is about a gymnast, who missed winning her Gold medal in her youth and has returned to claim the title after 12 years. She is past her thirties, single mother with a daughter who is 9 years old, a very improbable age to be in gymnastics let alone aspire to win a medal. But stubbornness put to good use is how she says it; “I am a stubborn person and I like to prove people wrong”. She has already won the local and state level championships and is on her way to prove her mettle during the forthcoming 2016 Olympics. When everything goes wrong and baits you to quit, yet you continue to follow your heart, it does take 100% character.

How this connects to me or what has this taught me may be the question in the reader’s mindJ.  This move to London has shown me many chinks in my own so called ‘perfect character’. I had a busy life back in India and I kept complaining to my better half about our move to this Godforsaken cold country where I knew no one and had nothing to do. I spent my first month watching the idiot box and these advertisements caught my attention. All their ambassadors have lived a life far more challenging and adverse than mine. My cribs seemed like the whines of a spoilt, luxury indulged kid when pitted against their real life battles. I did have a busy life in India, but today I am here, in London. So, there must be a reason as to why I have come to this place. I assuredly have a role to fulfill and something to accomplish too. I just have been wallowing so much in my own self pity that I have not figured it out. I am now putting an end to this self -delusion and learn the qualities of 100%character… do things I always wanted to do or chase a dream which thus far seemed out of my reach. If jogging can become purposeful, I am sure I can do also do something worthwhile and meaningful. All looks bright and chirpy again in this dreary London weather, figuring out “What does it take to find the why behind the who?” 100%Character:)

More to health

More to health

Health is not a matter of doing; it is a matter of being- Abraham Maslow.

Most of the couples I come across have one common grouse. Either the husband or the wife or both keep fighting the battle of the bulge. They longingly look at their wedding pictures and compare their weight, beauty and radiant youth and bemoan its loss with the lapse of time. Most women have the excuse of motherhood as the big reason for looking flabby and unbecoming.  Whereas, men are inclined to blame the culinary skills of the wife ,  work stress , mounting responsibilities which  lead them to health adverse habits like drinking –smoking or binge eating.  My observation has been that these natural physical discrepancies or variances become an obsession and result in mental ill health and long run psychological problems.  Women tend to get depressed and insecure and men are more prone to irritability, aggression and anger.  The package deal solution is psychiatrists, counselors  and beauty parlors on one hand and the innumerable  diet schemes, gymnasiums, aerobic centers and yoga institutions are the best business ventures to start nowadays. They flourish utmost and are eternally in peak business.

Whenever I switch on the television within a span of 30 minutes I see minimum 5 advertisements showing weight loss programs, diet plans giving quick ways to burn calories, new kinds of yoga combined with aerobics, Pilates and I don’t know what else.  All the programs talk about losing weight, looking beautiful again and being happy. The key to being happy is looking thin. The source of happiness lies in being thin. The path to success, self esteem, and confidence, everything one can envisage seem to lead into a health food store, a gymnasium or both.  We have lost touch with reality. We are so rushed for time; we are in a rush to lose weight also in a hurry. The focus is so much on losing weight the short way and effortlessly. Best results with least effort; more expensive the program more is our faith in its being effective.  The spiraling number of these programs and the ever increasing gymnasiums are a testimony to this.

Many cars are parked in the driveway of our gymnasium and people packed inside, walking on the treadmill to burn calories, with earphones plugged in playing some loud music. As if they are afraid to be alone, listen to the heart. No one has the time to meditate, sit calmly and introspect, even though it is free of cost. We are so dependent on health for everything we have forgotten how to heal internally.  Where our true happiness lies we are unsure, who we really are, we don’t know and what our true worth is, we don’t have the time to figure out. In no time visiting a psychologist or having to go for regular counseling sessions may become the trend and also the need of the hour. None of us is fit mentally and we all are running to gain physical health hoping that will bring a balance to our mental state too.  A person can be as physically fit as he/she is mentally fit. This toxic success has resulted in languishing people who live in the illusion of a superficially happy life moaning every second within.  They spend money in hope of a better tomorrow and forget to live today. They want to change the world and remain oblivious to the truth of their own insipid life. Are looks really so important; and if yes, for who?  Why has this focus on the external self become an obsession, killing the inner self?

Choosing the middle path saves us the money and mental tension too. Yet we work ourselves to the extreme. Moderation needs to be advocated instead we go to extraordinary lengths and spend on gymnasiums, diet programs and pay exorbitant fees to counselors and psychologists.  Introspect and be aware, listen to the voice within.  We rely so much on someone else, some other person on the outside, our true self lies cocooned, suffocated with all the external therapies being pumped in time and again.  Meditation imparts discipline and brings in the potential to listen to the voice within. The voice within advocates moderation, eat everything, do everything in moderation. Conclusively, meditate and stay healthy free of cost; panacea for all ailments, mental and physical.

Live- Alive

Live- Alive

Most of my introspection begins with two questions; and this is one of them- ‘Am I living or am I alive?’ The answer comes differently and from different quarters. And this is a question that keeps popping up time and again. This time the answer came from the most unexpected person and in a very surprising way, subtly telling me a lot about my attitude and human perception. We recently visited my dad’s place for summer holidays. They have a handsome Labrador and the wonderful creature taught me a lot about life, living and being alive. I wondered why what was natural to that fellow turned out to be alien to me. And what always appeared to amaze or excite him, seemed common place and dull, mundane to me. My brother takes him for a walk everyday and he is the official dad to ‘Rex’, their bundle of joy. My sister – in – law dotes on the fellow and pampers him silly. He gets away with chocolates, cakes and even rosogulla! He has a fine sweet tooth and eats papaya with equal fervor and gusto. Between the two of them the dog is the prime and most important member of the family and one lucky dude, you might add.  I looked at his life closely for the first time this trip. Despite heavy rains my brother takes him on his walks and I would think a rainy day that fellow would protest, be dragged and very reluctant to step out. But on the contrary, the minute he heard my brother’s footstep on the stairs he would make a funny gurgling sound and wait for him at the foot of the steps. Instead, he becomes impatient if my brother is delayed and growls in a very endearing way, prodding my brother to make haste. It was all very new for me the first 3 days and I also accompanied them for the walks, and I noticed that all the three days it was the same path, the same time, the same distance and yet every day (much to my frustration) the dog maintained the same enthusiasm and zest. By the time it was the third day I did not want to go, I was already bored; it was raining and smelly outside and we would anyway take the same path. But Rexy was as excited as ever, as if it was the first day and he had never been out before!  What was so exciting for him in that mundane routine which held no charm for me on the third day itself? How come he was so alive and I was not even living? I was jealous of the damn dog. Where did he get the naïve enthusiasm from? Why he was not bored? He dragged my brother all the way and kind of waited for my brother to roll out the same comments, “Slow down Rexy!” “Not that way!” “No, no! No getting cosy with street dogs!!” This bit I could at least mentally explain to myself in a rational way; probably Rex could maintain the excitement in the anticipation that maybe my brother will take him on a new route, maybe a longer path, maybe he will encounter a new friend. This anticipation was my rational explanation as to why Rexy maintained the same excitement every day.  The worse and bigger revelation was the way Rex reacted every time my dad walked into the house. My dad would have just then patted him and gone down the road to get milk. The minute Rex heard my dad’s footsteps he would start wagging his tail vigorously and bark exultantly. He would jump over my dad, as if it had been ages since he had last seen my father. Barely 10 minutes would have lapsed, yet Rexy would be overjoyed and bouncing jubilantly and lick my father’s hand. My father also indulgently pats him every time. This happened almost five to seven times a day. This bit amazed me. I mean what it was with that dog! My dad had just left barely seven minutes and this fellow behaved as if a long lost friend had returned after a year’s voyage. How did he manage to maintain this; the loyalty for my brother, the love for my father and us? It was so unconditional, spontaneous and fresh always. My dad’s irritation did not bother him; my brother’s anger did not change his attitude to my brother. Apart, for walking him my brother had no time to devote all his attention on Rex and my dad also absent mindedly patted that fellow, going out or coming back home. None of us really gave him special time. None of us spent extra time with him, we did not go out of our way to keep him happy or be in his best books. My mum fed him, my sister in law bathed and looked after his hygiene, brother took him for walks and was the disciplinarian, and my dad absent mindedly patted him coming in and going out of the house. This was all. Rexy still managed to make each one feel special and unique. All of them thought they were special for Rexy. They probably gave 5% of their time and attention to Rexy and in return got 100% of Rexy’s love and more. My brother was unwell last week and Rexy would be glued to his side, day and night. He did not seem to mind being stuck at home, with no one to take him on his adventurous walks. Try as one might, none of us could drag him away from my brother’s side. Similarly, anyone amongst them was sad or worried the dog would be able to sense it before others could. He was more alive and living a very worthwhile life, savoring every moment. Enjoying every moment as it came; unconcerned about what happened in the past and equally oblivious of what the future had in store for him. And here I was, either simmering about a bad yesterday or carrying that baggage for a prolonged period. This spoiled most of my tomorrows and also kept me in a state of anticipation and tension perpetually. These bad yesterday’s did not allow me to live my good today’s nor did they allow me to anticipate and be excited about a good future. It was as if I was barely managing to live and was never alive. I was afraid to die and I did not know what it was to be alive either. Neither good events could excite me nor the mundane did .I had forgotten to enjoy the small regular pleasure in my stupid search for a grand big excitement in future. And this dog was doing a fabulous job spontaneously, living its life to the fullest. It was alive every moment and immortalizing himself in our lives. He showed me how to be alive, not just live.  

 

Who will I make peace with?

Who will I make peace with?

Peace is such an elusive term, attempting to attain peace I always feel I have gone piece – piece!  Personal experience has taught me the same lesson every time I ventured in search of peace; peace is what you feel from within and it comes only when the resistance from within stops and I am able to get into a state of accepting what is happening around me.

Peace is something I have been trying to make peace with since childhood. So, let me trace it back as far as my memory goes and see how at each stage I made peace with and who. Also how long this peace lasted before I was off searching peace againJ!

My first memory traces back to making peace with my siblings, either because I needed something from them or because we got into a squabble and it was time to make peace; else no one to play with! This making peace was in a day in day out affair, throughout my growing up years. Peace here seemed very easy to achieve because one moment we were all angry and at each other’s throats and the next we were either crying and hugging each other or apologizing and making amends or laughing away our foolish behaviour. Our childhood has a very simple definition and meaning for peace. The ability to be happy at that moment and have what we wish to have; then peace is there.

My next advent with peace was closer to my emotions and myself, than with making peace with others and buying peace from them, being at peace with them. My college days proved a big tug of war and a very learning experience at every step. The generation gap suddenly loomed very large in front of me and everything I did went against my parent’s wishes.  Try as I might I could not make peace with them, it lasted only so long before something else triggered their displeasure!  The career option I chose was not their choice, the clothes I started to wear were displeasing to them, the amount I ate raised their eyebrows sky high, the way I spoke seemed very outspoken, ill -mannered and brazen, the way I walked on the streets was rather provocative to their taste, they would have been happier with a more demure walk! The places I visited, the company I kept, everything was questionable or changeable. Name it, everything about my lifestyle and me had a red rage, or panic button written on it. Somehow, it was a mammoth task to please them and by the end of first year I was fast wearing out. The irony was that my sisters seemed to fare well! At least, their career path was graphed by my parents and they walked on it! I noticed that a lot of leeway was given to them, coming home after an appointed time was ok for them a taboo for me! They were going for coaching; I was going to waste my time doing something they did not want me to do in the first place. They rarely had to protest so the way spoke was exemplary, the way they walked was admirable and the way they conducted their life was what I was to emulate. Clothes and food became secondary and very minor negatives. The differences and challenges were gaping wide. And I was traversing down a whirlpool, caught up in my own dreams and ambitions and also trying to save my relationship with my parents, make peace with them.

If I made them happy, made peace at home doing what they wanted; I felt very obsolete and lonely at college! I was stuck between two very different worlds and I wondered why God landed me in this particular orthodox family! How all the other friends managed to look happy, be at ease (peace – I could not define or dare ask them then). I was unhappy at both places, home and outside of home. I was unhappy on my own, I was out of place with friends, and I was an outsider at home. And for the life of me, I could not figure out why! All I knew was making others happy was not buying me lasting happiness, and at times it made me sad. And many things I was doing were only a reaction or an act of defiance, I was not very comfortable or happy doing those deeds.

This set me thinking; and my last two years of degree were more of a self-study, than academic or career studies. The more I read, sought advice from my lecturers and the more I pondered; the answer that came to me was always a singular line – “Am I happy, comfortable, at peace doing whatever I was doing?” If yes, I was able to carry it through despite protests at home. I could convince them, reason and make peace too. But if the answer from within said – “No, I am not comfortable, at ease with myself.” Then I knew I needed to rethink.

To cut a long story short; I stepped into my post graduate studies as a person who was at peace with herself.  I had my challenges; my parents were still not very happy with my life’s progress report. I lost some good friends due to misunderstandings; I made some new ones along the way and in all this I managed to maintain my peace. I had made peace with myself, with who I am, who I need to be and how I need to live my life.

It made me strike a balance between achieving my needs and wishes, at the same time manage to keep my parents feathers unruffled and also maintain a good rapport with my friends and peers. I needed to weigh them, friends and family on either side of the weighing scale and I became the pivot or the tipping point. If I could hold myself steady the balance was maintained, else the scales tipped.  My lifestyle could not be dictated totally by anyone but me. The clothes I wore, the career I chose, the company I kept all were intrinsically tied to my comfort level and adaptability. If chose to be defiant and went against my family, I could not maintain the façade for long.  Something which stayed with me till now was the clothes I was brought up in and the clothes I out of the blue decided to wear when I entered college! Similarly, the food we were used to at home throughout my growing up years and the whole new palette that opened up because of college canteen, pocket money, outings with friends. I was comfortable only for a while and then became very ill at ease, both with the clothes and the food and the so called things I was doing with my friends. 

The situation now, as a mother and the challenges I face are more of a déjà vu. And much of what I did as a youth seems to flash in front of my eyes, actions and arguments with my teenage son. Fortunately for me, I learnt and implemented my learning and can be a smart, orthodox and a modern mom all rolled in one. Making peace with myself helped me translate the same to my children also. I coached them find their space, their comfort corner. I mentored them to identify their unique qualities, make peace with their faults or inabilities and focus on their strengths. The life they lead the choices they made; the kind of friends they moved with and finally the food they were inclined to, defined their inner nature and they had to find their balance in all this! Now peace for them is no longer friends and family balancing but balancing food, clothes, ambitions, and their own natural instincts.

Similarly, peace for me is an entirely new ball game, holds a different meaning and the war I wage is also distinctive to me. The understanding that came was making peace with family, relations and a friend is a life long journey.  This realisation dawned rather late to me, and how peace was pivotal to my leading a happy and a complete life. A life which left little to seek; a life which makes its mistakes, experiments, walks down unknown path and, yet is brave enough to acknowledge, accept and accomplish peace; an inner peace with the self.  A life which can inspire every other person I come contact with, and help that person also make peace, with whoever he or she is waging a war with; thus I too continue to make peace with myself.

Thank you.

P.S:

I wrote this article a year ago, published in another magazine titled: www.radiantstreets.com

The song of Self—Last Verse

The song of Self—Last Verse

The song of Self—Last Verse

Atma Shatagam – Adi Shankaracharya  788 – 820 BC

ahaṃ nirvikalpo nirākāra rūpo

vibhutvā ca sarvatra sarvendriyāṇaṃ

na cāsangata naiva muktir na meyaḥ

cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham

 

अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकाररूपो
विभुत्वाच्च सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।
न चासङ्गतं नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥६॥

 

Meaning:

 

I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation (mukti). I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium.  I am Shiva, shivoham, shivoham. I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, the auspicious (Śivam), love and pure consciousness.

 

Further Elaboration:

All the above verses incessantly elucidate the same thing, trying to answer the single question: who am I? Since this is the last verse I am recapitulating the first five verses here below J

Mano Buddhi Ahankara Chitta Ninaham
Nacha Shrotra Jihve Na Cha Ghrana Netre
Nacha Vyoma Bhoomir Na Tejo Na Vayu
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (chitta).
I am not the five senses. I am beyond that.
I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind (the five elements).
I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.

Na Cha Prana Samjno Na Vai Pancha Vayu
Na Va Saptadhatur Na Va Pancha Koshah
Na Vak Pani Padau Na Chopastha Payu
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

Neither can I be termed as energy (prana), nor five types of breath (vayus), nor the seven material essences, nor the five coverings (pancha-kosha).  Neither am I the five instruments of elimination, procreation, motion, grasping, or speaking.

Na Me Dvesha Ragau Na Me Lobha Mohau
Mado Naiva Me Naiva Matsarya Bhavah
Na Dharmo Na Chartho Na Kamo Na Mokshah
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I have no hatred or dislike,  nor affiliation or liking,  nor greed,  nor delusion, 
nor pride or haughtiness,  nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kama),  nor even liberation (moksha).

Na Punyam Na Papam Na Saukhyam Na Dukham
Na Mantro Na Teertham Na Vedo Na Yajnaha
Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhokta
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham


I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (vice). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures (Vedas), rituals or sacrifices (yagnas). I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing,
or any object being observed or experienced


Na Me Mrityu Shanka Na Me Jati Bhedah
Pita Naiva Me Naiva Mata Na Janma
Na Bandhur Na Mitram Gurur Naiva Shishyah
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I do not have fear of death, as I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth. I am not the relative, 
nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple. 

 

All the above verses; if the reader gives them a careful reading; continuously explain what the boy ( shankaracharya ) is not! He begins saying – “He is not mind, intellect nor ego, then up until the fifth verse he is saying he is not death nor birth, since he has neither!”  Only the last verse begins with – “I am…” He is all pervasive. He is everywhere and in everything and in everyone! He is… and because He is …this world also is…” if we deny His existence then we might have to question all else too. He resides in every animate- inanimate part, particle of this universe and beyond. How can anyone not be Him when we all have Him in us? Do the broken pieces of a mirror reflect a different face in every broken piece? No! They reflect the same face; even the smallest shard has the same face, very miniscule undoubtedly, but the same reflection. Where is the doubt then? Why do we think HE is separate from us? Why this feeling of distance or separateness and differentiation? What fails to bring in the feeling of oneness in all of us?

Why do we behave thus? Why do we so doggedly distance our self from our Self? I am repeating the  introductory paragraph here:   It is a very striking point to note that when the universe began it was in such a pristine pure state; science and spirituality were one, Religion was one, and we all were one. Every householder was a saint, enlightened and achieving the real goal of life. With time ominously dark clouds started to appear, wisdom became a restricted property. Religion became Religions, and Science and spirituality parted ways. Science looked for reason and doubted everything, Spirituality became the mute spectator. We have uprooted our own culture and heritage in our greed for wealth and scientific advancement. What every householder knew then is an enigma to almost the whole nation now.

 What Jagat Guru, Adi shankaracharya could answer with such simplicity and lucidity then, in 788 – 820 BC; at the mere age of 8; we, today, are yet to decipher and capture the essence of those verses. This realized soul knew the reason, purpose, source of his existence and the role he had come to play in the short life that God had blessed him with.

 

And here we are today, with all our modern technologies and extraordinary discoveries, yet befuddled more than ever before and unable to answer the fundamental question.

During our self development classes we ask the students this question – Who am I? And my co –faculty always introduces this in a unique way: “we used to have a television show (This is during those good old B/W TV days where only one channel came) named ‘Tarang’. In that show once the teacher and the students play ’catch me if you can’ and all the children race to catch the teacher. One student catches the hand and shouts, ‘caught you, caught you!’ And the wise teacher says, ‘NO! You caught my hand! U did not catch me!’ and this goes on, one student catches the head, the shirt, the leg, all the body parts but get the same reply from the teacher!! Suddenly they all jump on the teacher together and scream in unison, ‘Now we caught you! And the wily teacher still has that huge smile on his face and says, ‘No! This is my body that you have pounced upon! Who am I!? ” Now this story always holds the audience and they all close their eyes to introspect, pause and ruminate. What is it that aptly answers this question?

If we take the example of Bruce Lee’s famous dialogue: “Be Water my friend…” Are we water? Even then one is a glass of water, the other may be a cup, then again another may be rose colored water and someone else maybe ice. These are all the attributes and clothing or coverings of water. But are we water yet? Water is, it has no taste, no form, no color, and no attributes; yet without water we cannot survive. Similarly, HE is and so I am! All the rest that differentiate us from each other are merely attributes, layers, clothing, bondages, samskara whatever name we choose to give. Thus, remove the layers and what remains is He. And the same He will be in everyone, and all becomes One, singular, no diversity nor separateness.

No wonder that a true Saint sees only a reflection of oneself in the rest of the world. And we in our stupid smallness try to see ourselves and find fault in the rest of the world. We are unique, true, but think again, is this uniqueness really such a good attribute? Why do we wish to be unique or different?

Thus, to conclude, try and see Him in yourself, to answer this question ‘ who am I?’ and to truly realize Him and be one with Him,  try and see Him in all else too. I am..Because He is…

Thank you

The song of Self – 5th verse

The song of Self – 5th verse

Atma Shatagam—Adi Shankaracharya  788-820 BC

Na Me Mrityu shanka Name jaati bedhah,

Pita naiva me naiva mata na janmah|

Na bandhur na mitram guru naiva shishyah ,

Chidananda roopah Shivoham shivoham | 5|

न् में मृत्यु शंका न् में जाती भेद:

पिता नैव् में नैव् माता न जन्म

न बन्धुर न् मित्रं गुरु नैव शिष्य:

चिदानंद रूप: शिवोहम शिवोहम |५|

Meaning:

I neither doubt death nor have I fear of death; I have no caste distinctions. I am neither the mother nor the father. I was never born and I have no kith or kin. I am no one’s friend; I am not a guru nor am I any one’s shishya. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru nor the disciple. I myself am the joy of pure consciousness; I am Shiva, shivoham, shivoham. I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.

Further Elaboration:

As a student I attended many personality development workshops. The emphasis was always on communication skills, good dressing sense and the ability to be competitive, driven; I needed to have an edge over the other students.  The focus always seemed on being aware of what the competing student was doing and do better than that person else I would end up losing my coveted spot.  Now, I never figured how someone else’s coveted spot could be mine too. And how come I was competing with that person with no idea whether I wanted to be in the race for the so called coveted spot at all! This juggling with others, trying to read their mind, probing into their life left me in such disarray about my own self, who I really wanted to be or even who I really was.

This world was in many ways always trying to confuse me and I was finding it increasingly difficult to trust my own kith and kin. Identity is the only thing I was desperately trying to hang on to; losing my identity meant losing everything.  But what is identity? Does it always remain the same? Even my given name changed with marriage and I adopt my husband’s name. From being my parent’s child I had graduated and become a parent myself, identity changes seemed to happen at every step of my life and yet here I was, searching and seeking the answer to this core question, who am I?

The answers came, gradually and one at a time, after I joined meditation.  As I sat meditating one day, something happened and I felt very anxious, worried and perturbed. I saw myself dissolving and re-emerging as a different person, same face, body and skin, but a new identity and yet I was the same, no change in me as a person as such! ‘I’ would seem to burn into cinders and again a new ‘I’ seemed to emerge, like the phoenix.  This thought bothered, and thus stayed with me awhile. I ruminated over this recurring ‘I’ with a new face. I tried to blend, merge with the daughter feeling in me, and saw myself as a wife. I tried to put both together then a new role of mother popped through a third window of my mind. This seemed very unending and nerve wrecking to me. I was one person, yet so many people depending on the time, situation, given role or duty.  Who or which identity was meditating then, all these months? And who was I searching for during these hours of meditation and contemplation? How many people was this singular I and how many more roles could this person play? What exactly was I trying to fathom?

I  sat and meditated more on this singular thought about who I am, and what was I trying to figure out, who was I trying to search for, why this recurrence of ‘I’ during mediation? Does this ever disappear? Dissolve into oblivion or merge with my creator? Is there such a possibility? Out of blue it came, only when ‘I’ was immersed in HIM did this I seem to dissolve, disappear or merge! Else it always seemed to retain its identity.  This I did not die, it was always there, in whichever form, role I chose to play or identify with. The core or the essence was always the same, I kept changing the clothing ever so often, I failed to pause and see, really see the core within.  I was so busy playing all these roles and disguises, the real I was lost and had gone silent, deep into the recesses of my heart.  I was nothing but HE, the creator, the one person from whom I came; a part of HE.

So, who and where was this I, really? No one and nowhere if seen independently, or the one person whose role I may be playing momentarily; and everywhere and everyone when merged with HIM! A mirror broken reflects the same face in that many number of pieces and when put together the same many faces magically emerge as one. Thus is my inner self too, as long as I predominance remains ‘I’ is a mere piece of the mirror, reflecting it. The minute ‘I’ realises and merges with the mirror it becomes whole again.

To conclude, who am I? I am all of this and also I am neither the mother nor the father. I was never born and I have no kith or kin. I am no one’s friend; I am not a guru nor am I any one’s shishya. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru nor the disciple. I myself am the joy of pure consciousness; I am Shiva, shivoham, shivoham. I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.