Philosophy

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.

If HE let go

If HE let go

Ramayana is a very familiar scripture for every Hindu and we all have read it since our childhood, in the form of Amar Chitra Katha colored comic strip to the voluminous Ram Charitra Manas in Sanskrit and its English transliteration. I will narrate a small story which escaped me all these years even though I too have read The Ramayana many times before.

The whole army was building a bridge to cross the ocean, so that they could wage a war against Ravana and bring Seeta Devi back home to Lord Rama. Every single monkey and man would lift a small boulder to a huge rock and say aloud, ‘Jai Shree Ram!’ and throw the stone into the ocean. The stone would float and fall in place next to the previous stone and a bridge was gradually getting formed.

Lord Rama watched the proceedings for a while and with the thought of helping and speeding the process of completing the bridge he also picked a small pebble and threw it in to the ocean. To his dismay the stone simply sank into the depths of the ocean. He looked around furtively to check if anyone had seen and meekly picked another stone to give it another shot. He tried to throw the stone again and was received with the same result; the stone promptly disappeared into the depths of the ocean! This began to trouble him and he again looked around to see if anyone was watching.

Hanuman was watching the whole proceeding and smiling to himself seeing his Lord facing such a predicament. Lord Rama asked Hanuman, ‘Did you see what happened?’

Hanuman smiled and nodded.

Lord Rama, ‘How come? The rest of them are picking huge boulders and throwing them and they seem to float fall in place. Here I tried throwing this small pebble and it sinks, why Hanuman?’

Hanuman, ‘My Lord, We all are surviving or succeeding because you are with us. If you let go then what will be possible? Look at the army; each one is first saying your name and with that chant and faith that the rock will float, they throw it with all their might. You are there in each word, action and result too. Did you chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ when you threw the stone? No; then how can it float My Lord, it was fated to sink!’

Because the Lord is holding our little finger and leading us we survive and prosper. If He lets go, then what fate do we have in store? I do not think any one of us can conceive such a situation.

 

How much time do we have?

How much time do we have?

A saint, begging for alms, landed at the doorstep of a shop which looked very unkempt and asking for major repairs. Despite his poverty the poor shopkeeper warmly welcomed the saint and invited him to stay for the night at the shop keeper’s residence which was close by. The Saint looked at the shop’s condition and wondered what the shop keeper could offer him, after a bit of deliberation; decided to stay for the night.

The house was also in an equally bad shape and yet the shop keeper offered hot food, simple food freshly prepared, and treated the saint with great reverence; to the best of his abilities. The saint was pleased with the shop keeper’s hospitality and wanted to do something, help the shop keeper in some way. And the shopkeeper also wistfully wished for a boon from the saint so that he could say good bye to his bad days.

Thus the next morning just before leaving the saint thanked the host for his benevolence and said, ‘I am very pleased with your service and I really wish to do something fruitful for you. But I myself am so poor that I do not have anything to give you, so what do I offer you in return for your services?’

Shop keeper, ‘My service to you was of my own accord sir; I could do with a boon or two to be able to get rid of my poverty though.’

The saint pulled out a small gold coin from his rag bag and handing it over to the shop keeper said, ‘Okay, this is all I have. This is a magical coin. Any lead / iron substance brought in contact with this turns to Gold. I will come back after 3 months and retrieve my coin. Till then you use it and try to alleviate your poverty.’

The poor guy was overjoyed and profusely thanked the saint. He immediately set off to the largest iron foundry to test the gold coin and thus change his luck. He asked for the cost of a ton!

The price was Rs. 40/ton, the shop keeper felt the price to be beyond his reach and decided to come and check after a few days, maybe by then the price would have dipped. He came back a week later and to his dismay found that the price had further gone up and he again returned disappointed. This continued for a month and then second month also there was no change and the third month went by in the same pattern; the shop keeper was yet to use his magic coin.

On the completion of the appointed tenure the saint was again standing at the doorstep of the shop- keeper. But to his surprise he saw no betterment; rather a further dejected cloud was cast all over the shop. He walked down to the house to check the condition there and to his dismay the house also was further dilapidated and in need of urgent repairs. He began to worry thinking, ‘My magic coin failed to help the poor guy! Did it not work?’ and he called out to the shop keeper.

The shop keeper narrated the whole sequence of the last 3 months and thus his inability to use the coin or rather waiting for an opportune time to use the coin.

The saint put a hand to his head and said, ‘It is destiny that you were not able to use the coin dear. You had 3 months time to change your luck, life and build a fortune for yourself. You did not give it a chance and continued to wait for a better opportunity at an unknown future date. Time and tide wait for no man, you knew I would reclaim the coin in 3 months, yet you failed to put it to good use. Sadly, I will be unable to extend the period for you and I need my coin back’.

Needless to say what the shop keeper felt and it was too late for his realization. Time had slipped through his fingers like grains of sand and he was left in position worse than before.

Opportunity knocks only once in the life of man, the life of a human being itself is a rare gift from God. Human life is given only to those elevated souls who have a craving to realize their true goal and wish to go back to their original abode! One never knows when ‘Yama’ The Lord of Death will come and whisk away the soul from your body, that moment is a mystery to everyone. Today or the present is all we have to learn to live a balanced life and walk towards our true goal, be prepared, fearless when death does come knocking because life’s goal is accomplished and nothing is wanting still.

All the training and education we receive throughout our lives are to sharpen the mind and learn skills to earn more or progress financially. Unfortunately this is only one wing on which life is flying; the other wing is the spiritual wing which belongs to the soul, the seat of the Divine. Parmahamsa Ramakrishna used to say and Swami Vivekananda has often repeated, said “God gave us intelligence to fly high with both wings, to satisfy the goals of life, the material and the spiritual. Use the mind and see the Lord seated in your heart.”  It is a known fact that spiritually wealthy souls are wealthy materially too whereas wealthy souls are always craving for more wealth or die hankering, unhappy and poor.

The lamp we light

The lamp we light

All Hindus light the lamp in front of the deity, without which our prayers and worship remain incomplete. This is a ritual we have followed since time immemorial. We all do so with utmost devotion and dedication. The meaning of these rituals has never been asked or questioned either. Apart for the simple meaning our folks gave us, ‘you should not, and must not keep the prayer room in dark! A light must burn always.’  Which is explanation enough for us and we stick to it with complete faith. When we run out of oil or clarified butter we become creative and improvise with the small bed light. We are all following instructions and trying to be as true to them as possible. Most of us do not delve deep and try to understand or ascertain why we need to light the lamp in the first place and when we are lighting the lamp, then which lamp should it be? What significance does an oil lamp have and why the effect is nullified the minute we switch on the night light to replace the oil lamp? In the hustle-bustle of our work-home-work routine we barely manage to spare a few minutes to light the lamp every day without fail, that itself is like a big accomplishment for us.

Swami Tattvavidananda, here talks about the lamp, the oil lamp; its’ significance and meaning which clears the soot of our minds and lights up the lamp of understanding explaining ‘why only oil lamp’. ‘In the inner shrine of the temple, the darkness unremittingly tries to envelope the lamp, and the latter in return is struggling to dispel that darkness. Such struggle is constantly going on in the devotee’s heart too between the ignorance and the desire for the knowledge. This is the symbolism of the tiny lamp in a corner of the inner shrine.

The lamp in the shrine is necessarily an oil lamp. It cannot be substituted with an electric lamp, though of similar appearance, for every aspect of the oil lamp has significance. Typically, an oil lamp is lit inside the shrine. The word ‘sneha’ means the oil and also love and affection. When the aspirant settles into devotion to the Lord, he acquires equipoise of the mind. In the metaphor, that devotional state of mind serves as oil for the lamp of knowledge. Oil has two characteristics: it is very sticky, and it flow is continuous and unbroken. The devotee should acquire these two characteristics in the heart in his devotion to the Lord.’

‘The symbolism continues further. There is a varti, wick made up of cotton, that sustains the flame. It stands for proper value system in the devotee’s life, e.g. discipline in the eating habits and speech, right attitude towards others and so on.’ Even after years of worship and temple going, keeping a light burning in the temple room also change is not visible and some of us wonder why so. Our prayers are a distracted mutli -tasking duty juggling between the kitchen getting our kids ready for school and mentally worrying whether the maid is going to come or do we have to do the dishes also before leaving for work. Can we honestly remember a day when we can say that ‘yes, today we only prayed’. Without any other thought sneaking in we are barely able to light the lamp every day, praying is very farfetched.

Oil – lamp has a wide base serving as a receptacle. It holds all the oil required to fuel the flame, and also provides stability to the lamp. The mind filled with vairagya or dispassion is the base. To summarize, the seers have incorporated the entire teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita in the temple worship. Once we understand correctly the symbolism of temple worship, the temple emerges from a seat of worship to a seat of learning.’

The base, the oil, the wick and the eternally burning flame, all have their own meaning and significance and definitely cannot be replaced with anything else. The minute we start replacing anything, we are filtering or diluting the process and the essence diminishes accordingly. We on our own can put ourselves to a test and decide why after all these years of praying and temple visiting, we are yet to really get there, find peace or see a change in ourselves. One among the above steps, maybe more than one will be missing or adulterated, hence the result, or the lack of it. Maybe the change is yet to come because a few steps are wrong or bereft of the essence of worship.

Hindu religion is a highly evolved and scientifically structured religion. The Brahmins used to perform the Pooja and all the rituals because they were given this education since childhood. The Gurukul system was so prevalent and compulsory for every child because only by living with the guru, watching the guru, learning from the expert in person is the only way you can assure yourself that you have learnt it all correctly, the method, the meaning and its significance. How else can anyone replicate it and achieve the same heights that the guru attained? This may be the reason why today’s India is lacking in true realized souls, even though we have an ever increasing number of devotees and Temples. We need to be with the guru or listen to the guru with all our heart to really know, learn and imbibe. It is strange that we eagerly accept a teacher when we need to learn any subjects, like English, Math or Science but when it comes to learning about the most important thing, worship, for our personal betterment some like me think we know it all, or some of us conveniently assign the task to the temple priest and continue to light the lamp with whatever is available at home unmindful whether what we are doing is beneficial or simply a routine duty.