Philosophy

Check-checkmate

Check-checkmate

Udharet asmana atmanam na atmanam avasadayet I

Atma eva hi atmanah bandhuh atma eva ripu atmanah II sloka 5”

 

उद्धरेत  आस्माना आत्मानं न आत्मानं अवसादयेत्  ।

आत्मा एव हि आत्मनः बन्धुः आत्मा एव रिपुः  आत्मनः ।। श्लोक ५

Translation:

“Let a man raise himself by his own self; let him not debase himself. For he is himself his friend and foe.”

 

One is oneself responsible for one’s distinction or debasement. The contributions that others make in these respects are secondary. It is but usual that one complains that one’s enemy has done havoc to one. But no one can hurt without oneself contributing to it. It is possible for a sadhaka (aspirant) to avail himself of a wrong done to him by his enemy for self – purification. Because of misunderstanding and maladjustment man paves the way for self-debasement. And by doing so, he becomes his own enemy. On the other hand, by right understanding and right conduct he elevates himself and thereby becomes his own friend.  One is one’s own arch friend or arch foe. The person who understands this fact; learns an invaluable lesson for life. 

No one courts enmity; friendship alone is sought by all. But one needs to learn to be victorious over self, first.

 

This particular shloka from Bhagwad Geeta always conjures the image of a chess board in my mind. I never really connected to or understood this shloka in its real essence, though is used be repeated very often by my dad during our growing up years. It was one of his favourite shloka. Similarly, chess also was one game I preferred to stay away from, a game my dad excelled at and challenged all his progeny to learn and master.

In retrospect today I can make the connection between the Shloka and the crafty game; both are very individual and pass on the same message to the person playing the game of chess or to the person living the shloka. A game of chess is a very individually uplifting game and tells the player every time that he/she is the sole reason for upliftment or down fall.

The whole Game of chess vests and depends on the King, protecting the king and defeating the opponent King. The king himself has very restricted mobility, yet is the most cherished piece on the board,  the sole piece on which the life and death of the game depends, it is either check or check mate depending on the King. The human nature is also much the same; heart is the king; cocooned and nestled inside the deepest recess of the human anatomy. Surrounded and protected by a plethora of other organs, playing the visibly useful role. The heart only responds if the owner is willing to listen! Else it rhythmically beats and the person is alive only as long as the heart continues to beat, any other organ collapses; life continues. The heart stops, it is game over.

The second most powerful piece on the board is the Queen; the maker or the breaker of the game, she moves with ease deftness and dexterity all over the board. She commands and marshals the other forces and aligns them in a way that she protects the King and also leads the king towards victory, step by step, listening to the king and acting in accordance to the wishes of the king. Same is the mind, the upliftment of the person or the curse which brings the downfall of the person. Mind works the way the owner controls it, controlled by heart it never goes wrong or strays but independent and dominated by its own will and by the other acting forces, external and internal, the mind plays great havoc and in no time reduces the human being to cinders. The heart is a mute spectator watching life slip away, step by step, leading up to death and decay.

Only if the Queen is balanced and powerful can the king be protected and work well with the other forces in the kingdom; march ahead and defeat the opponent. Similarly, if the mind is in the right place, well balanced the person leads a successful life in control of all the other senses. The emotions, reactions, aspirations and ambitions are balanced and lead the individual towards a victorious content filled life winning against the enemies within. And, this person successfully defeats the opponents or contenders in the outside world also.

The rest of the pieces and powers on the chess board help the queen dually, give power to the queen and also save the king from the opponent forces. The queen in turn takes their help and smoothly marshals her forces and defeats the opponent bringing victory and cheer to the king. Likewise, if one has overcome ones vices and effectively reign in the cantering mind, then the silenced mind listens to the heart. Such a person ultimately walks the path of contentment and fulfilment, unconcerned by the adversaries and competition of the world. The mind thinks with clarity and is in competition with no one on the outside. It is at peace within and without.

Thus, the person is responsible for one’s own upliftment and one’s own downfall. Till we do not overcome our own vices and convert those to virtues the chances of winning over any outside agent become negligible. The competition is always from within and the victory begins first with the victory over self and then transcends to victory over others.

Game of Life

Game of Life

As kids, the most popular game at home was Snakes and Ladders. Most of the games used to be for two players or four; Chinese checkers was the only game for 6 people. Snakes and Ladders could be played by any number; we simply improvised with the chess pieces if the players exceeded four. Apart for this, the other reason why we played snakes and ladders was that we were always more than one inching our way to the top, neck to neck, and the others used to be way below, praying that a snake bite us and we slip down to join them! It was more a play of human emotions all the time and it was weird and different to see friends become enemies, pray for their loss and be happy when a third person won, instead of the contending winners. As we grew up, studies took precedence, most of the school friends went different ways and in our busy lifestyle Snakes and ladders was lost and forgotten.

Things took a different turn after my second one, our darling daughter came along. Contrary to her brother, she loves board games of all kinds and she insists that the whole family sit and play! And to our dismay she was not an avid television fan either. Even if we did put her in front of the idiot box, she would barely sit for 10 minutes, even her favourite shows, she wanted one of us to sit and watch with her and she would be explaining the story!! None of us could endure the story of Thomas the Engine, or Oswald or Cee-Bee Bees on a consistent level. Very soon we were taking turns sitting with her and gradually we all started dreading our turn! So a new game almost every week became the new escape route for us, and that is how snakes and Ladders got reintroduced into my life.

She and I used to play for hours and she would be happy winning always, and since I was her only opponent I used to allow her to win, it made her happy and I had a chance to sneak in a few other quick chores, multi-tasking was a feasible option for me only if she won! She used to play with her brother and dad at times and both of them also quickly devised a way to let her win. They soon escaped seeking umbrage of repeated loss or that they were no match against her expertise. She grew up never being able to accept defeat and also overconfident that this was her winning game, she was victorious always.

My daughter’s sand castle crumbled when she began playing with her granny. My mother in law is a very ‘play it fair’ always, kind of a person. She plays to win, be it her grandchild or anyone else, and unlike us she was their putting her life into the game. This became a kind of a tug of war for my daughter and a deja’vu scenario for me. The first time my daughter lost she took it sportingly and hid her shock well in front of her granny; she came and cried her heart out to me saying, “Granny cheats!! She is not a good person, she does not know that in snakes and Ladders I am the only winner, she won I don’t know how!”…it was a stream of epithets and wails, engulfed by abysmal sadness due to her first ever defeat! This instance set me thinking, and I knew I could not approach my mother – in-law and ask her to lose! After all it was a child, her favourite grandchild she was playing against. And even if I did convince and coax my mother in law, what after that? How is my daughter ever going to learn to accept defeat? Is she ever going to learn to lose or will she grow up with the illusion that winning is her birth right?

Somewhere along the line I had made a mistake; in my lethargy and escapist attitude I had passed on something which my daughter may have to suffer with for the rest of her life! I was unable to really pacify my little one that day, just hugged her and kept thinking what my next course of action should be. She obviously did not go back to playing snakes and ladders with her granny, not in that trip, and in a way I was glad. It gave me a respite and time to think.

We sat down to play after a short hiatus and this time I was conscious about many things, my alertness, honesty in playing the game, win or lose accept both with equanimity, her spirit and attitude to the game! Marshalling my defences and strengths we proceeded; and at every step I started talking to her, if a snake bite her she immediately looked at me askance that would I overlook like I used to, and it broke my heart not to. But I was smilingly firm and gave her a new story for every ladder and every snake! A ladder came when she was honest, able to compete, play fair, not feel jealous, and think that this is a game and every game is to learn, enjoy, win some, and lose some too! She lost to granny and she did not like it, and similarly I lose every time I will also feel sad and may never play with anyone again! And a snake bite was when she was getting angry, ready to cry because I was winning, she wanting an extra turn so she could win or even she teasing me if she was on 98 somewhere and I was miserably stuck at some stupid 10 or so, a snake if she could not cheer my previous win and so on and so forth.

It took time, few very patient, long drawn, exceedingly intense games before it finally dawned to her that she had to learn to play, enjoy the game, win or lose a game; any game had a lesson and was fun if the lesson was learnt.

She plays all games with the same ease and grit now, to win always, but willing to roll  a quarter over to the winning side and congratulate the opponent too! Snakes and Ladders had arrived with a bang in my house, teaching my daughter and I a game of life!:)

A pinch of Salt

A pinch of Salt

In this jet paced life when we finally find some time to sit and contemplate, look back, introspect, start to write our life’s journal we begin to relive the past. There, we all have some moments of regret, some filled with pride and joy; some achievements and some failures, a few events which we would change if we stepped back in time and a few we would like to be repeated often because they brought us so much joy and cheer.

Most of this generation in the age group of 35 to 45 is kind of burnt out. We have lived too much too soon, worked too hard too fast thought of nothing but money, career, aspirations to be fulfilled and more money for new dream houses, dream cars and voyages. We all began our career graph well, with lofty dreams of one house, one car or probably for those who were born with a silver spoon dreamt of a few more cars and a few more new businesses abroad; to flourish, grow and succeed has been the pivotal point for this age group. We seem to have been raised with that dream and it is embedded in us and we are incapacitated in a way that we are unable to think of anything else. But now, after crossing 35 years of age we realise we seem to  have lost focus, we are confused more than ever now because no we are raising our children and suddenly we are very aware of the verity that this dream we grew up with has many gaps and lacunae in it!! It is not bringing joy! It is taking us away from family, it is not helping us stay together, instead; it is only piling up frustrations, health concerns and a very bad ethical foundation for the progeny! We are in that conundrum now where the road travelled so far looks pointless and the road ahead is still foggy.

Our parents are sad that we drifted away from them, chasing our dreams. A beautiful family rich with values, bonding and emotional security is today reduced to a nuclear system full of paid helping hands and zero value addition. An emotional crisis seems to be brewing independently in every room of the house and we don’t know what to expect when we reach home, tired from a hard days, dissatisfying work and more challenges to be met tomorrow. Our children are not so happy either, we are never with them! We are always on the phone, we are travelling, and we are busy impressing strangers and trying to keep them appeased because they are giving us business, money and our job vests in their hands. We don’t have a day off because Sunday’s are forcibly dedicated to family chores and pending errands and before we can catch an extra forty winks it is a working day again.

We keep snapping at the kids for no reason and then at the spouse too. We are like that calm sea which is brewing a storm beneath the surface. This age is like that lull before the storm time and when the storm hits it leaves nothing to salvage, it takes it all in its wake of anger and destructive spate. We are unable to unwind, relax, sit back and simply be. Inevitably by the time we touch 45 years we are unable to do it anymore, on the brink of a break down, and if God does take mercy on us, we wind up on the bed with some ailment. Then we are forced to stay in one place, glued to the bed; forced to remain idle, do nothing and then we finally begin to think. Some introspection and most of us may have only one question, ‘Where exactly did we miss the bus?’ So rewinding and coming back to beginning, in this jet paced life when we finally find some time to sit and contemplate…

What we seem to have missed all long is the salt in the potpourri of our life! In this rushed hectic busiest of busy lives also the one thing most of us can’t do without, is salt, right? A sequence of dishes offered on platter every day, three times a day and the one common ingredient that the cook is checking, cross checking  and ensuring that it is in the right measure, not more not less, is – Salt. We can relish a sweet dish which has less sugar and we can forgo sugar altogether too with some effort, but giving up salt in food is probably unimaginable for most of us.

The introspective time we give to one self is like the salt in the potpourri of life’s events and challenges. Without taking time out for one self, ruminate, take a deep dive within and listen to the inner voice, we are living a life bereft of self -worth and awareness. To continue with the same analogy above, in case we think our dish is lacking a little salt we tend to sprinkle some and then eat, unwilling to compromise on the taste or excuse the cook thinking he/she was preoccupied. We comment on the lack of salt and wait till someone brings salt and alters the taste to suit the palete. Yet in the mixed masala life of ours we forget the most important person altogether. We focus on everything and everyone else apart for oneself.

The more this negligence the less the salt in one’s life, and the result is a bland non inspiring confused existence, forever seeking external help and impulsive decision making. Hopefully, we can take as much interest in our own self development and give ourselves the time due in a day. This pinch of salt is the defining difference in our lives, be it busy or relaxed. Don’t you think in this rushed inconsequential existence we all deserve our pinch of salt?

Ego- does it go?

Ego- does it go?

Joining the meditation Mission was a sequence of events in my life; everything, from the first 3 sittings to attending the satsangh; Bhandara fell into my lap in a very tailor made, comfortable way for me. The complete name of the Mission, its lineage nothing was known to me when I joined this system. I was in need of a respite and in search; I received this as a divine blessing. I accepted it gratefully, followed it dutifully and read voraciously to learn more and familiarize myself with the method the Guru and the tenets of the Mission.

Being a very dedicated and disciplined student I received many compliments from my preceptor and also had wonderful experiences during meditation the first few months. I was desperate to meet Master, my Guru about who I had only read for the last one month or so.

So, within a month I visited Chennai ashram wanting to see Master in person. My seeing Master in person is also a very strange sequence of events. I had gone to Chennai with big pipe dreams, armed with the permission letter from the zonal in charge; I also had brother Bhatter’s number for reference; push and pull. I was also told by everyone that new abhyaasi need not stand in any queue. Master simply goes up to them and meets them! I was kind of envisioning a state where Master would immediately call me, I would fall at his feet, seek his blessings and Lo, Behold! I would be a transformed person! I think my feet never touched the ground, I was high up somewhere in my own self created world where Master would come to me. I was the best abhyaasi, new abhyaasi, well educated too; Master would be more than happy to meet me!

The irony of the word Ego is that it has the word ‘go’ in it and yet it never goes. It only grows and the more one lives in this illusion of ‘I’ the more predominant is the Ego.  Such was my unfortunate state of mind when I went to meet my Guru for the first time.

The verity hit me rather badly; two days down the line, I was yet to get a glimpse of Master. I had spent the whole day sitting in front of the cottage. I sent in 3 chits or more I am not sure, and I had in my own urgency and desperation made calls to brother Bhatter, brother Satbir and to Shalini too! The children were getting weary and asking me to take them out, so I had packed them off to my cousin’s place casinomilate.info and spent the whole day in front of the cottage, sitting patiently waiting for Master to call me in.  By lunch time my thoughts took a plunge from the lofty ‘calling me in to personally meet me’ to a least let Him come out and I could have a glimpse of Him! That also I think was too much or too undeserving because Master did not venture out for two whole days! Which was rather unusual was what everyone voiced. The despondency of not being able to see him for 2 days; and I was to leave that very evening, I was a bag of mixed emotions. The other abhyasis waiting outside Master’s cottage kept telling me, “tell them you are a new abhyaasi, Master immediately calls in new abhyasis.”  Shalini gave me brother Bhatter’s number, asked me to speak to him, so that he can get me permission to go inside and see Master. I think, no; I am sure, I tried all my gimmicks and stunts that I could perceive and was told by everyone else. Nothing worked, He did not want to call me inside and I never got to meet Him in person. That is it, the sad truth.  So much for my lofty thoughts and bloated ego; got punctured and guttered in a flash. Master could not be bothered by people like me.

The evening I was to leave I began to despair; ‘Master, come out once, please, I beg of you. I will not run after you, bother you, talk to you, nothing, I just want to see you in person once’.  I did not want any personal introductions, I simply wanted a glimpse of that person about whom I had been reading for the last few months and who my Guru, my spiritual Guru is;  the guide who will light my path and show me the way. I was near tears, praying fervently, sitting in front of the cottage with a singular plea, ‘Master, please come out, just for a second, please.’

Finally, He did come out in the evening; He was on his golf cart being escorted to the medical center for His regular check up. The minute the cart exited the gate we were asked to queue up on either side of the road and greet Him or seek His blessings. I did what I was asked to do and my heart swelled up with many unspoken emotions. He barely glanced at me, not even a glance really and I involuntarily ran behind the golf cart following Him all the way to the medical center. Maybe when he comes out He will look at me properly, I can wish Him, I don’t know, many thoughts went and came and I just stood there in the crowd, waiting for Him to come out. On his return trip to the cottage also I ran behind the cart with the kids in tow, introducing the children to Him! He simply looked at me and blessed the children. He said nothing to me, He smiled at the kids blessed them with his walking stick, nothing for me, not even a glance or an acknowledgement, nothing at all! I was still happy that He has seen the kids and blessed them; that fleeting glance He threw in my direction was all that was my share and I had to do much better to be able to meet Him in person. I have never been able to meet Him or get a chance to speak to me up close till date, this is a wish unfulfilled till date.

I don’t know how to put it in exact terms because I don’t have the words to correctly describe my feelings. Even that small interlude with My Master and I was happy, relieved. I had grand dreams of personal audience and a VIP treatment for the much awaited new abhyaasi; and here I was thankful that I had seen Him. My Guru is seeing me always, am I able to see Him though? My bloated ego was so full of me then; and in the years to come I realized that I never ‘saw’ Him for a very long time.  That oft repeated statement of Babuji’s, ‘Many come to see me, but no one really sees Me.’ started to make sense to me after three years in the Mission.

The mission has helped me battle my ego and keep it in check to a great extent. The mission and the method show us the mirror everyday and give chances for self improvement.  I am sure it has not gone totally; E-go will go only when I-go. My prayer to My Master is to help me use this for my good and betterment as strength.

Identity

Identity

We were taught Kabir’s Dohe somewhere in eighth or the ninth grade, when we were probably 13-14 years old. How much we understood then may very well be limited to the literal meaning as explained and illustrated by the teacher, at least such was my case. But, all of us invariably remember one or two couplets of this Great Saint till today and suddenly the true meaning or essence of the couplet seems to dawn. The simplicity of every couplet is so striking; stilling the mind totally to be able to see through, look deep inside one self and seek the meaning and answers from within. The meaning always eludes the person and seems to come only at the right time, till then the couplet makes and on and off appearance in the person’s life tantalizing the person to seek the truth, go deeper, probe further and seek. This one below came to light when spirituality and this journey of self- discovery began for me:

“jin dhunda tin payiya, gahire pani paith;

            mai bauri duban dari, rahi kinare baith.”

जिन ढूंड़ा तिन पयियाँ , गहरे पानी पैठ ,

मै भैरी डूबन डरी, रही किनारे बैठ ||

Meaning

Those who searched, by diving into the deep water, found the treasure.

I foolishly feared drowning and remained sitting on the shore.

Commentary 

One who wants to get some pearls has to dive deeply into the ocean. The person who fears drowning will not get anything. In the same way, he who wants God realization has to dive deeply in meditation, and merge completely into God’s love.

 

The above lines made sense after I joined meditation, and one year down the line I was still uneasy about myself. The fact that the system could bring no visible change in me and I was still the same egotistic, angry woman I was when I joined meditation was bothering me. This contemplative train of thought resulted in my eureka moment when this couplet popped up in my head with me as the brainless girl; I realised that I was still that scared girl, sitting on the banks of the river, afraid of drowning and yet I was expecting realisation, change and answers to my question of life, its meaning and purpose! How was this possible when I was still sitting on the shore?! If I did seek answers to a change in nature, tendencies making a U-turn; how fruitful and evolving have prayer and meditation been, how close to God Realization I am, and what is the true goal of human life; I needed to dive deep into the ocean. If there is a true craving for God realization then one has to dive deep in meditation and merge with Him in totality. Become Him and be one With Him, no dual Identity, because;

 

Prem gali ati sankari, tamein dou na samai
Jab mein tha tab hari nahi, ab hari hai mein naahi”


प्रेमगली अतिसंकरी, तामें दाऊ न समाई |
जब मैं था तब हरी नहीं, अब हरी है मैं नाहीं ||
The street of love is very narrow, two can’t pass through it at the same time
When I was, there was no God (Hari), now there is God but I am not
MEANING


To attain true love, one has to give up his ego. When the ego disappears, God appears. So the devotee must give up his ego to realize God.

Here it came again, the true meaning and essence of this couplet. My Identity was separate from His the minute I was born. When I was with Him I had no Identity at all and the second I strayed apart, ego developed and a separate identity was born. But true love is only one and in that there is no room for true identities! What separated me from Him was my Ego. This ego is at the root of all my emotions, positive or negative; He knows nothing, sees nothing but love and oneness. So to be one with Him I need to meditate, love Him. When ego disappears, God appears!

 

Like the drop that gets separated from the cloud and falls on the earth, the cloud changes to a drop of rain, it touches the earth and attains a new identity, muddied and brown it becomes a waterfall, a stream, a river, at times a pool or a puddle of stagnated water, and again is reborn as a rain drop, becoming a river and making its way to become one with the ocean, lose its identity and merge with its original parent.

Same is the case with us; we have to go back whence we came from, Him. We are born out of Him and need to merge with Him, today or tomorrow or probably many births later. And this merger is possible only through love, true eternal love for Him.

What was taught in the ninth grade finally began to crystallise bit by bit and the fog of the mind got cleaned in stages. Dive deep into the ocean of the heart, let the heart open itself wide and mute the noises of the mind and world outside. The silence of the heart shows the beloved within and love for Him grows. Meditate. Contemplate on the Divine within, love him like none else, because the road to His abode is very narrow, sinuous and tedious too. To attaint true love one cannot sit on the shore and feel scared, one has to dive deep into the ocean and seek Him. Love him, forget one self, one’s existence and merge with the Divine in complete surrender and loss of all identity.

 

 

 

 

Jab Tak Hai Jaan–

Jab Tak Hai Jaan–

All my 5+ years in Sahaj Marg the most often repeated question by most of my friends is how to maintain the focus or momentum in a spiritual life which is totally riddled and driven by material challenges, aspirations and temptations.

I joined Sahaj Marg late in life; at an age where I had practically outgrown the material temptations and I was very parched, thirsty for spiritual growth. So focus and maintaining my momentum came naturally to me. This analogy below may help my friends understand and maintain the momentum or at least figure out what exactly they are seeking from Sahaj Marg and how their results are also reciprocal to their search.

Sahaj Marg is like any Hindi movie particularly Yash Chopra’s Movies. Most of his movies have one hero two lead ladies vying for his attention or one heroine and two men wooing her and winning her over!! Sahaj Marg also has only one Hero, My beloved Master, but the distractions are too many. Husband and wife are struggling and lost in the mire of worldly distractions or trying to understand one another in real life. The larger purpose of identifying the real Goal, the true hero never seems to come or is deferred to a later date. They keep squabbling amongst themselves and the path to the hero keeps growing distant and further away. The couple between themselves become the biggest distraction and fail to focus on the Hero together! A movie is 3 hour long and Sahaj Marg is for life, so the focus invariably gets shifted from time to time and they are beginning again and again after breaks and a short hiatus. So, Sahaj Marg is like a different release, afresh and new every time they revisit this road.

Secondly, most of us go to a movie for a reason, we like the cast, the director, storyline or anything else. And human nature is such that we look and enjoy only what we like, remember what we like, focus on what appeals to us. The director is the only person who is concerned about everything in the movie, story, cast, music, screenplay, cinematography and even the name of the movie! Whereas the audience picks and chooses some part of the movie to like, recollect and enjoy. Similarly in Sahaj Marg, Sahaj Marg is the whole movie! Being directed by Master Himself and the basic 10 steps laid out, morning meditation, evening cleaning and night prayer are the cast or the essential parts of this wonderful movie! To grasp the essence of this movie and live it to the fullest the whole movie needs to be understood and lived with. If we are doing only meditation then probably we like only one the lead cast of the movie, or if we are able to follow 5 steps of the 10 laid out we have grasped the music and yet to understand the lyrics of the other songs and their purpose in the movie!

Another comparison between Yash chopra movies and Sahaj Marg is most of the audience comes out remembering only what they went in to see in the first place! Like in ‘Jab tak hai jaan’ the three of us (My husband – for one lead lady, my daughter – for the Hero and I – for the songs and cinematography) went for a different reason and believe it or not we put the whole movie together in bits and pieces, combining our memory, when we narrated it to our son! Similarly Sahaj Marg, if we are happy doing only cleaning I have noticed that the steps always seem difficult and beyond reach. In case dairy writing is something unnatural; then it is invariably postponed and the last thing on the ‘to do list’. Like there is no harm in watching / assimilating ‘Jab Tak hai Jaan’ in bits and pieces, there is no harm in understanding/imbibing Sahaj Marg in parts. The core difference though is that a movie remembered or forgotten makes no difference, but the longer an abhyasi takes to follow this unique path in its totality the more the abhyasi is likely to lose. Sahaj Marg cannot be understood in parts, one have to immerse self in the whole movie, become Sahaj Marg, Manasa, vacha, karma, not just lead lady or a song and lyric!! The whole movie is imperative.

So, Sahaj Marg is a movie to be lived day in day out, in totality and lived to the fullest, jab tak hai jaan, Sahaj Marg onlyJ.  It is a movie worth a zillion yash chopra movies and more.

 

 

Balanced Life

“There is an ancient Chinese saying, which says, “Every stick has two ends.” At first it seemed to be too simple, a mere statement of a visible fact which all can see. Who can, after all, deny that a stick has two ends? I wondered why an ancient Chinese philosopher had felt it necessary to make this statement at all. It appeared too superficial a truth to have merited any philosopher”s attention. Many years later, after several years of meditation, I realize what a profundity of meaning is hidden within those five words of that long forgotten philosopher.

First I learnt that our existence has two aspects, two areas, to it. They are the material and the spiritual realms of existence. There are not merely two sides to existence. The two sides have to be “balanced” if one is to lead a full and productive existence. This is the second lesson I learnt. All of us live, but few lives have real content, real worth in them. The bulk of humanity leads an animal existence motivated by lusts, inspired by fear and driven by lower urges and appetites unworthy of being called even remotely human. …Principles of Sahaj Marg, P.Rajagopalchari”

All the saints of yore and now have the thread of ‘Leading a Balanced Life’ culminating in a life full of love and self-realization as the common denominator. Looking at the present scenario though, balanced life seems to have lost its meaning totally; the scales are tipped heavily on one side. Before addressing the problems let us try and understand what the seers meant by leading a balanced life, and where exactly did we miss the bus.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has said, like a bird needs both its wings to soar high up in the sky, so does the human life need both its wings, the material and spiritual to lead a successful life. If any one wing is clipped or unused the flight of the bird is hampered; likewise mankind must maintain a balance between the spiritual quest and the material search in life. Mankind can reach the zenith of existence and success in all fields only by leading a balanced life.

Our country was the epitome of balanced existence up until we started aping the west. The way the role of human being was divided was a very balanced one leading the person from one stage of life to the other nurturing both the wings equally. During the days of Ramayana and Mahabharata people were very advanced scientifically, performing miraculous surgeries sans the present technology. Everyone was rich and content, adept in their skill or trade and very connected to the God within, by way of prayer and steadfast faith. From the time of birth unto death both the aspects of life were weighed equally important, more so the spiritual aspect than the material one. The Gurukul shaped the students to learn the skills of life alongside their spiritual pursuits. They lived with the Guru, ran errands for him, learnt skills and mastered scriptures. The education was all encompassing and complete.  When the students returned to the world they were very cognizant of their role and future course of life. Never did the scales tip to any side; both the roles were accomplished with equal sincerity and earnestness. Most of the vices of ambition, greed, hatred, and jealousy existed then also but the spiritual mind was so strong that the conscience never swayed towards the wrong side for very long.  A peaceful co-existence was more the norm at the cost of a little sacrifice and unbounded love in return.

The more we began to ape the west the lesser was our attention towards the spiritual side. In no time the soul was put to sleep and one wing was clipped off altogether. For some time we did postpone the use of this wing to a later date, old age or after we fulfill our responsibilities of youth and family life but very soon that casino pa natet wing was forgotten and replaced by an inanimate wing for more material gains. The flight of the bird was artificially maintained for awhile but very soon the flaws came to light and life’s journey became a very uphill task. This is how it is today, life’s journey for most of us seems to have become a Himalayan climb and we are grappling with the reason. We seem to be doing everything right, the way our forefathers did and yet we are unhappy and feel stagnated. The west has lost its glory and sheen and India unfortunately has reduced itself to a developing nation, struggling with illiteracy, unemployment and rampant corruption today! Imbalances are so many that counterbalancing them seems impossible and very daunting.

The west is looking at us now for inspiration and a way of life, learning from our scriptures and trying to lead a balanced life. One big reason why almost all the Gurus and preachers are so successful, well accepted and have amassed a huge following abroad, even though they are Indians by birth. What we lost has become their gain yet again, first the material wealth and now the spiritual elixir. The west has always looked towards East for every query, be it material or spiritual. We squandered away our spiritual wealth and looked towards them for all the wrong reasons and look at our plight today.

All we need to do is like Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved.’ Go back to our scriptures and revive the spiritual wing, begin to nurture it and start leading a balanced life. It is a verity that a successful wealthy person comes with an expiry date, material wealth at the most maybe lasts 4-5 generations if it is not nurtured with spiritual roots. On the other hand spiritual wealth well nurtured  becomes eternal and like a Banyan tree gives shade for generations to come and spreads its roots below and branches above! It brings material gains with the spiritual contentment and life reaches its zenith in one life time of balanced existence.

So, instead of teaching our children to be competitive and comparative it may be a better idea to teach them introspection and self – discovery. The youth of today has a better chance of changing this nation and creating a better world for their progeny. We adults can take the small right step of steering this youth in the direction of a balanced life, soaring high using both the wings.

Realisation Through Meditation

The final goal or desire of every spiritual aspirant is Liberation. Intense longing to be free from the bondage of delusion and ignorance by seeking self – knowledge is the ardent desire of every true seeker.

Verse #82 of Vivekachudami states thus:

Sanskrit verse:

मोक्षस्य कान्क्षा यदि वै तवास्ति

त्यजात्तिदूराद्विषयान्विषं यथा

पीयूषवत्तोषदयाक्षमार्जव-

प्रशान्तिदान्तीर्भज नित्यमादरात् ॥

 

English conversion:

mokShasya kaankShaa yadi vai tavaasti

tyajaattidUraadviShayaanviShaM yathaa

pIyUShavattoShadayaakShamArjava-

prashaanthidaantIrbhaja nityamaadaraat ||

 

Word meaning:

मोक्षस्य of liberation कान्क्षा desire यदि if वै indeed तव yours अस्ति exists/is

त्यज give upअत्तिदूरात् from a god distance विषयान् sense objects विषं poison यथा like

पीयूषवत् like nectar तोष contentment दया compassionक्षमा forgiveness आर्जवं straight forwardness

प्रशान्तिः calmness/serenity दान्तिः Self- control भज cultivate नित्यम् daily आदरात् religiously

The meaning is:

If indeed you have a craving for liberation, avoid sense-objects from a distance as if they were poison; and with respectful reverence, daily cultivate the nectarine virtues of contentment, compassion, forgiveness, straightforwardness, calmness, and self-control.

The first word or the beginning of the verse itself is with an ‘if’ questioning the true intent of the aspirant.  This makes it amply clear that the goal is very person dependent and the intensity to achieve the goal also varies accordingly. If one is content with life and the material possessions one is surrounded by then this short lived happiness linked with the wealth amassed will be good enough and the aspiration for anything further, deeper and long lasting happiness will never arise. For such a person self– realization or liberation will be a mere whim or a myth; unattainable in this life time. Thus, they will never venture on such a futile struggle nor believe in aiming for this so called goal of liberation. They will continue to pray, perform rituals and be content living the day to day life amidst the roller coaster ride of emotions, relations and ephemeral pains, pleasures of life. Hence, the operative word for self-realisation is ‘if’ the seeker so desires.  As a corollary we can also say the absence of the desire for self- realisation keeps the aspirant in the vicious circle of rituals and at the kinder garden level of spiritual path. God is a mere means to an end and incessant prayers are made and boons are sought unto death. In such a phase God becomes a means to achieving the worldly pleasures and possessions; this is not wrong at all, yet the true seeker needs to out-grow this phase and move above the kinder garden level.

The present state of the universe verily proves that most of us go through this phase only and are content living and leaving this worldly life desiring nothing more.  At times a seeker grows restless; fathoms that everything worldly either phases out or inevitably leads to pain. The inquisitive mind of such a person grows further longing to seek the permanent happiness or a state of constancy.  The true nature of everything external is that whatever comes has to depart; becomes clear to such inquisitive aspirant and the search for a permanent object leading to lasting happiness begins. The leaning towards God is now treating God as the End and He becomes the object of permanent happiness. It also becomes evident that at His feet alone can happiness be attained and that too if He so wills, by His grace alone can this happen.  This can be treated as the second phase or the under graduate school level on the spiritual path.

Gradually with time and better understanding the student learns to look beyond all this or look within for everything. The realisation that God is one, and God is in everyone begins to dawn. The Hindu philosophy says: ‘There is only God’. Look in any direction or look within, one sees God and God alone. Thus, the student now is eager to become one with Him or understanding the simple truth that God alone is, the aspirant has finally enrolled for the doctorate course on the spiritual adventure.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was once asked which stage were the best and what a seeker should aspire for to which he lucidly explained thus:  “The levels are accepted by the human mind according to the stages of development and its progress….. Finally, when the man reaches the ultimate limit of spiritual progress with the help of sadhana, he experiences the Nirguna nature of the Divine Mother and remains in oneness with Her. All the ideas, such as you and I, subject and object, bondage and liberation, vice and virtue, merit and demerit are then all merged in the One” (Tattvabodh: Insights into Vedanta)

Swami Vivekananda concludes the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna in this manner: “We have seen that it began with the Personal, the extra – cosmic god. It went from the external to the internal cosmic body, God immanent in the universe, and ended in identifying the soul itself with that God, and making one Soul, a unit of all these various manifestations in the universe. This is the last word of the Vedas. It begins with dualism, goes through a qualified monism and ends in perfect monism.”

Thus, self -realization remains the most cherished yet the most elusive real goal of human life. Look within and see Him who is inside; waiting with bated breath for the aspirant to open the doors of the heart and listen to the meek voice of the soul.   Meditation is one simple way which enables the seeker to silence the clamour on the outside and listen to oneself.  Meditation silences the outside noise, stills the mind; closes the physical eyes and opens the heart to merge with the One Divine who has been waiting patiently in the innermost recess of our heart.

Meditation is usually sought only by a seeker who has crossed the kinder garden phase explained above and so the glitter of the outside world holds little or no charm for such an aspirant who wishes to seriously practice meditation.  Having crossed the first stage the keenness to reach for the ultimate truth and realise oneself is strong and sadhana is taken up earnestly and zestfully.

Let us elucidate the advantages of constant practice of meditation and see how it inches the seeker closer to the real goal of self-realisation.  The most practical and common advantage seen with continued practice of meditation is better focus and increased concentration.  This is one key reason why meditation is being advocated in schools and colleges too nowadays. The end result of meditation for students is more focus, fewer distractions thus work less but work smart and come out with flying colours.  Continuous abhyaas or practice of meditation increases the alertness or awareness of the person.

Amongst the five sense organs, eyes play the maximum mischief and make the mind wander. The other senses seek the help of eyes and augment the sensation or the essence of the emotion attached to the sensory objects on the outside world. The fundamental change that happens with practising mediation is we close our eyes! So the outside world plays havoc only to the extent the imaginations runs riot, after that the mind is forced to look deep inside and seek what is within. With practice even the mind stills itself and begins to seek answers from the heart. The thoughts soon are like a wedding procession and the mind watches them go by, not following them or reacting to them. So they are forced to leave and fail to disturb the mind over a period of time.

Meditation done at the same time and same place daily attunes the mind and prepares it to still itself even before the online casino australia person actually sits for meditation. It is like preparing for prayer and ritualistic Puja, where the person gears up and prepares for puja. We bathe, pluck flowers, prepare the Prasad to offer to the Lord, pour oil, and place the wick to light the lamp and finally chant our daily prayers with a heart full of love and devotion. Similarly, same place and same time help the mind to prepare itself to connect with the heart, treat thoughts as uninvited guests and listen to what the heart or the Divine one within is trying to say.

Meditation practiced religiously clear the cobwebs of the mind and enables clearer thinking and discrimination. Mind is like the spider caught in its own web and the more it tries to escape the web of thoughts and confusions the more tightly it seems to get gripped in these malicious, detrimental thoughts and wishes. Meditation clears these cobwebs every day, the spidery mind is not given a chance to give strength to its web of thoughts and thinking becomes clear, practical and dispassionate over a period of time.

Meditation helps rein the cantering mind and forces it to still, observe and in a way learn to be the observer. This third party attitude imbibed over a period of time helps in becoming the seer of one self too.  The mind dispassionately sees and discriminates the right conduct and thinking of the very individual.  This develops ‘viveka’ or wisdom and the right path, action and words all begin to come naturally. Meditation begins like walking uphill through a dense fog and persistent abhyaas results in clearing the fog with the sun piercing through, spreading light enabling clear vision.

This whirlpool like mind twirls ceaselessly and drags it through unwanted mires and tendencies; glossing the heart with layers of grime and weeds entangled mercilessly. Meditation helps cut through these weeds, and still the raging ocean of thoughts and tendencies and the inner core of the heart become visible to the aspirant. The true nature can be seen and work towards change and betterment begins. Thus self- awareness starts and self-realization becomes the true goal of the seeker.

To become true individuals we practice meditation and the first step in this direction is approaching a Guru. Without mentioning the role and need for Guru the whole understanding of this spiritual quest will be incomplete. Self-Realization is impossible without the Blessings of a realized Guru. Swami Vivekananda sought umbrage under Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and never had to look elsewhere.  His guru steered him through the path that leads to enlightenment and merger with God. For self -Realisation one has to approach a Guru, because a Guru is the gateway to God. Saint Kabir himself was a realized soul at the tender age of 12, yet he needed the guidance and blessings of Guru Ramdas to finally merge with God. Self- realisation is like a Himalayan climb full of avalanches and pitfalls a slippery, sinuous and tedious uphill adventure.

Guru is the guide or Sherpa who leads you up to the summit and then let goes of your hand so that you can follow your heart and make your own road through the last leg of the journey. A Sherpa takes the mountaineer through lesser dangerous terrain, leading the way and also removing the hurdles and road blocks. When the summit comes within sight the Sherpa hands over the torch to the mountaineer and he/she has to reach the top alone. Similar is the role of a Guru in the life of a spiritual aspirant.  Every spiritual aspirant is like an unlit candle with the potential to exude light. The guru lights the candle of wisdom, dispels the darkness in the life of the aspirant, encouraging ‘viveka’ or discrimination.

During the initial stages or the formative years the guru holds the hand and leads the aspirant; spoon feeding the student. With time the seed is nurtured and as strong roots develop the tree is soon ready to stand strong on its own and also become a fruit bearing tree. Until such a time comes the presence of the Guru is imperative in the aspirant’s life.

To conclude, the willingness has to be the aspirant’s; the ardent desire to seek the inner truth and connect with oneself has to come from the aspirant. When the desire is true and strong the Guru appears automatically, lights the lamp of wisdom and leads the aspirant towards ‘viveka’ through meditation and inner search. Thus with time, diligent practice and Guru’s blessings Self – realisation becomes a verity within reach and attainable by the aspirant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Sahaj Marg- Miraculous Path

The biggest hurdle for me on joining Sahaj Marg was letting go of my beautiful and most cherished temple. I had literally created it, handpicked the small idols from different holy places I had visited over the years and almost everything in that temple had some story, memory, meaning attached to it. Even the small lamps that I used were from Kedarnath!

Apart for me amassing them with love and devotion, a few idols that came as a gift, came at very opportune or propitious moments and made their place in the temple permanent. To sum it up the temple was very miraculous and significant to me and I was loathe dismantling it or seeing it leave the house. Maybe that it is why it took me a year to give away without having any qualms or feelings of guilt, fear or shame.

The second, bigger block was the ‘miracles’ that most of my family members used to narrate to me, whenever they visited a temple or their family guru performed a Puja at their place. This bothered me much more than the temple really because in Sahaj Marg we do not have anything like ‘miracles’ and we are seriously advised NOT to look out for or seek miracles! Temple worship is treated a bit leniently in comparison to the new comer seeking miracles in Sahaj Marg, according to me.

I used to listen to my relatives with admiration and slight resentment; envy that I do not have such stories or experiences or miracles to gloat about.  My miniscule personal miracle after joining Sahaj Marg was the way “Whispers from the Brighter World” gave me answers or resolved doubts for me.  Anything that used to gnaw and tease me used to get clarified from ‘Whispers’. I at times used to get very teary, overwhelmingly emotional and rush to my husband (a cynic and a sceptic to the core!) and narrate ‘my miracle’; his non-committal comment was, “Okay, I thought you finally have joined something sensible, looks like I was mistaken. You still seem to be searching for things on the outside like the rest of them.”  Or if I was in defiant challenging mood and dared him to give a negative reply he would smile rather indulgently, shrug his shoulders and leave the place. The comment and his quick exit both used to pierce me right through, like a sharp dagger and all the bleeding finally stopped me from searching for a ‘miracle’ through whispers or any external source altogether.

I came to my next question; then what is so special or different or exclusive about Sahaj Marg? Why was I even practicing it for the last two years? And what exactly is a miracle for me that I want to gloat about to others? What did I accomplish in order to boast or call it a miracle?

Master has his own way of teaching us what we need to know, at the apt moment and in a very exacting way. I overheard my husband, who till them was a very reluctant participant, one day, “The amazing change in my wife over the last 2 years is almost miraculous to me! It is as if Sahaj Marg has waved a magic wand over her and she is a very new, different person! ”

So, there it was, the miracle, working for the last two years for others perception! My abhyas, Sahaj Marg had performed a miracle on me! Master keeps saying in almost all his speeches, “Look Within, it is all inside you and you alone!”

My husband saw the change in me and joined the mission willingly and encourages online casino others to do the same- my first miracle and the series has been never ending since then. But again these are external miracles on some else, I have changed to become a better person and improving every day, a miracle!

The last best thought that struck me came from a preceptor in Ghaziabad ashram, Sister Poonam Saxena. She was explaining the system to some new to be abhyasis and said, “Sahaj Marg is not about getting or gaining something. It is about changing and becoming something!” There it was; the miracle! A changed human being because of Sahaj Marg! Which system gives this reassurance and invites this self-enquiry? This system does.

Which Guru reposes so much confidence in another human being of no calibre and encourages him/her to become divinised or meet the Master? Sahaj Marg does exactly that, creating preceptors, giving them the responsibility to work for the Guru and in turn progress on their own spiritual path towards their real goal.

Which system never says ‘no’ to anything and yet manages to help the aspirant in saying “no” or letting go of everything that is unnecessary. The transition is so smooth one never realises that one has let go of anything at all! This wonderful mission enables this too. This mission allowed me, the stubborn egotistic me to change me and chiselled away at the jagged, chaffed ends and set me on the road to becoming a divinised being. If this is not miraculous, then what is?

I no longer despair when I listen to someone else’s miracles. I have my miracle within me, and all because of my miraculous Mission. Sahaj Marg, me in Sahaj Marg both are miracles and me living up to my Master’s expectations and becoming what He has envisioned for me, my last miracle.

Thank you Master for this miraculous Mission, your presence and blessings showered on all of us, and the miraculously effective simple method.

Prasadam – significance

Prasadam – significance

The Lord says in Bhagvad Gita, “Patram Pushpam Phalam Toyam Yo Me Bhaktya Prayacchati; Tadaham Bhaktyupahritamasanami Prayatatmanah.

Meaning: “Whoever offers a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even water with devotion, that I accept, offered as it is with a loving heart.”

Ever wonder why Prasadam invariably tastes delicious? Throughout the length and breadth of our country Prasad is made according to the cuisine of the state yet devotees from near and far, abroad too can be seen relishing the Prasadam; why so? We come back to the last line phrase of the above shloka; offered as it is with a loving heart. Prasad means that which gives peace. It is the sacred food offered first to the Lord and then shared amongst the devotees present in the temple at that time. The bhava or the attitude of the devotee offering Bhog or Prasada to the Lord makes all the difference. The attitude with which the Prasada is taken brings a change in the devotee.  The grace of the Lord descends through Prasada, brings peace and calm to the unsettled mind, resolving problems in a surprisingly simple way.

Prasad is also referred to as ‘Naivedya’; Naivedya means supplication or ‘a humble entreaty’ to the Lord offering the Naivedya and appealing for an acceptance of the same. Naivedya need not necessarily be food but is usually food which becomes Prasada and distributed to one and all. A beautiful meaning that comes to light is; we are offering our ignorance (avidya), the food symbolically represents our ignorant consciousness, which we place at the Lord’s feet for spiritual enlightenment. After HE charges or suffuses it with knowledge and breathes a new life into it, we share and partake of the same which in turn helps us become divine or move closer to divinity. When we share this Prasad we are actually sharing the divine knowledge; the Lord’s blessings thus gained with our fellow beings.

The faith of the devotee who is eating the Prasad is what makes it divine or any other edible thing. It was MiraBai’s faith alone which turned the poison to nectar; which she drank in complete remembrance of her Lord thinking of it as Prasad coming straight from her beloved Krishna.

Partaking of Prasada is considered to be a sacred act, irrespective of the quality or quantity of the Prasad. The fact that it is coming from Isvara, Lord himself changes the nature or attitude of the recipient of the Prasada. Prasada stands for Prasada buddhi, an attitude of graceful acceptance.

“Swami Tattvavidananda, in his book titled: ‘Heart is the Temple’ explains this beautifully thus: The serenity of the mind symbolised by the Prasada in the temple is eulogised by the Lord in the Bhagvad Gita as follows:

“Ragadvesaviyuktaistu visayanindriyaiscaran, atmavasyairvidheyatma prasadamadhigacchati.

Prasade sarvaduhkhanam hanirasyopajayate,  prasannacetaso hyasu buddhih paryavatisthate.” (2-64, 65)

One may interact with the objects of the world through the senses that are free from attachment and aversion, gaining mastery over them. One who has mastered the mind attains Prasada, the serenity and harmony, will be free from all sorrows. Such a person’s mind is readily absorbed (in Atman).

The Prasada buddhi helps us cultivate a mind that is equanimous in prosperity as well as in adversity out of recognition of the fact that whatever we receive, whether good or bad, is given to us by Isvara. Isvara is the Karma phala data, the giver of the results of our action. They are the outcome of Isvara’s karma niyati, the law regulating the results of the action. Isvara bestows the karma phala, the results of the action accordingly; we receive what we deserve. That is why Isvara is called as sarvagyana, the all-knowing. He does not favour one or discriminate against other. Therefore, we have to learn to treat both prosperity and adversity as Isvara’s Prasada.”

Thus, Prasada prepared, offered and partaken with the right attitude changes the person and the aspirant becomes the recipient of wonderful experiences. It is also said that Prasada should be taken exactly that little quantity which the aspirant can completely digest, and nothing leaves the body as excreta. If Prasad is also gulped and gobbled like any other food then most of it will be leaving our system before it has a chance to leave a lasting impression and good impact on us, and maximum benefit that can be derived is lost.

Prasada is panacea, if taken in the right measure with the right attitude. Prasad becomes the remedy for all ailments, emotional, spiritual and the aspirant feels light and unburdened after eating the Prasad. Prasad is the spiritual elixir, the alchemic preparation capable of bringing out one’s pure innocent self, revealing the true path to self- realization. Prasad is the Grace of the Lord Himself, a cure and an ideal sign telling the aspirant that the Lord has lifted the devotee, lifted the devotee up and going on the path of self- realization.  It is the embodiment of Shakti, energising the partaker and infusing him/her with energy and zest to walk the path of life with courage, and absolute devotion. The Lord manifests Himself in Prasada, but only to those who partake in true faith, with the correct attitude in the apt quantity. Thus, Prasadam should be taken with great faith.

The Hindus also believe that Prasadam is a mental state experienced by Gods and true seers; they bestow boons and are very spontaneously generous towards the devotee who offers Prasadam with the right attitude. It thus began with a mental state (as is mentioned in the Rig Veda)which the Lord ‘saw’ in the earnest devotee and with time changed to more materialistic forms of money, clothing, food items flowers etc. The essence nevertheless remains the same; the humble faithful offering of ‘avidya’ to the Lord to be able to peel away the ignorance and be able to walk the path of self- realisation. Prasadam teaches the aspirant acceptance, humility and tranquillity. It helps maintain equanimity in success and adverse situations of poverty and strife.