Philosophy

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.

 

Khalil Gibran on children

Khalil Gibran on children

Khalil Gibran is my favorite poet and philosopher; this is what he writes about children:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

Your children are temporarily in your custody and you are their guardian and care taker. You have no ownership rights over them because they are owned by God and He has sent them to accomplish a goal or a purpose unique to them. Life called out for them and here they are, as your children in name and form but His children in verity. The animals and the birds seem to understand this philosophy much better than the intelligent human race. The lioness feeds the cub and simultaneously encourages the cub to fend for itself. The chicks are also urged to fly and gather twigs from a very young age. We humans keep missing this fine point somehow.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

He again says, they come from you; yes, you do give birth to them, yet they are from Him alone and not from you, which is what most parents mistakenly take claim for. The children stay with us as long as it is destined and not a single moment beyond that. They are with us but they do not belong to us; they are definitely not the personal property of parents.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

Again so true, did we, as children think like our parents? Did we not have different thoughts, dreams, aspirations and ambitions? Did we not wait for the day when we would be able to live ‘our’ life, the way we want to, without being told, what to do, what to eat, what to wear and a seamless stream of instructions? If that was generation gap then, should not the gap be more gaping and wider now? Times have changed very dramatically over the last 2 decades and with it a very tumultuous parent age has arrived. Love is scarce or showered as a return gift for something well done or withheld as punishment at times. The present day children are facing more insecure times, it is all the more important that we shower as much love as we can on them and give them the freedom of thought. Raise them such that they are free with discipline and love.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Almost every child achieves much more than what their parents did. They belong to the tomorrow and have to learn from today, whereas we belong to a yesterday, trying to adjust to today for a better tomorrow. We are yet to get a grip over the way times have changed, whereas they are already of this generation. They are planning and dreaming of a tomorrow which we may never see. Is it fair to drag them backwards in time, to our times and force them to think our way, do our way, live our way? We can be like the lamp post guiding and throwing light on the path, we cannot walk that path though. They have to walk their own path and discover their destiny.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

I initially never agreed with this line, why should the parents be like the children? My parents always wanted me to emulate either one of them and that is exactly what I have done. So why should my son (I need to remember, he is HIS son, not mine) not emulate his Dad or me? Why should we not ask him to try and become like his father or mother? The next line has the answer though; because, life has never gone backwards and time does not wait or depend on a yesterday. It is today and then tomorrow. I woke up to the fact that if I expect my son to become like his father or me, I would be asking him to move backwards, live in a yesterday. As a parent I should be asking him to look at his tomorrow, move on the road ahead and achieve his dreams. Is it fair on my part to ask him to live my unaccomplished dreams and achievements?

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The parents are the bows from which the children of God as living arrows are set forth in search of their destiny.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

The archer or God has already marked the path over which the arrow, the child, will fly. God simply wants that the Bow, parents, also to bend, yield, string themselves just so much so that the arrow, child, can reach its destined goal. It is the strength of the bow and the flexibility of the string which allows the archer to set forth the arrow swift and far.

Let you bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

So He loves also the bow that is stable.

One without the other is incomplete and God loves both equally. He has assigned us the job of taking care of His children and entrusted us with the big responsibility of raising them happily and with joy. Bend yield listen to the child and nourish them with love and joy, God does send forth His children through you and is happy to see them ascend, but He also loves the stable hand of the parent which joyfully raises its offspring.

As a child counselor by profession I am forced to read this poem to every parent because they all invariably expect me, the counselor, to change the mindset of the child. They look me at me very expectantly as if I can wave a magic wand and their errant child will start obeying them or start behaving the way they expect the child to behave.

Gratitude – towards ?

Gratitude – towards ?

One topic amongst the many enlightening talks that Sehra uncle, he comes every year from the States and spreads these pearls of Wisdom, gave was on Gratitude. All the topics are very thought provoking and introspective in nature, and uncle repeatedly encouraged us to listen, mull over and imbibe.

We used to serve snacks and tea during the little recess session that we used to have during those talks. And though the rendezvous always used be at my place any one of the sisters used to go and make tea and offer the light refreshments.  Invariably someone or the other would ask, ‘who made the tea? thank you so much, it is exactly the way I like it !’

Or ‘who made the cake? It is very delicious, thank you.’ one such question popping up was a sure shot. Uncle always used to smile, very differently, as if, I don’t know how to put it in exact words, but the smile used to convey something like, ‘I am surrounded by such simpletons! Or O’ O’ they have once begun thanking one another!’ And I always used to wonder why he used to put up that particular countenance every time we were exchanging thank you!

For almost three or four sessions uncle never voiced anything, the fourth session happened to be on gratitude. Who should we thank? Uncle asked.

We all had our own answers, ‘We thank God, of course.’ This was the common reply.

Then he asked, ‘When should we thank?’

Some of us replied, ‘when HE answers our prayers.’ Or ‘HE has helped us in some way.’ Or ‘HE has protected us, and kept us out of harm’s way.’  

So the next question was, ‘How should we thank?’

Again a few voices said, ‘mm, we pray to HIM and thank HIM, those who worship offer flowers and Prasad or offering as a thank you to GOD’

I think uncle was expecting something more than what some of us had just answered. He smiled and said, ‘Just now you said that you made tea today, yes? And everybody appreciated its taste and thanked you for offering such a refreshing drink. Just ask yourself once again, did you really make the tea all by yourself?’

We all were silent and knew there was more to this than meets the eye! Uncle continued, ‘What all goes into making this tea; Sugar, milk, tea leaves, water and the gas of course to make the tea, yes?’ We all nodded slowly, it was beginning to dawn on us ever so gently.

Uncle, ‘Now, amongst all these ingredients what did you exactly make? Contribute to in making them?’

We kept mum. We had barely thought of this in this dimension! The simplest task like making a tea also involves the effort of so many others! I never brought the milk, I had no role to play in the making of the tea leaves, nor did I have any say in the sugar that went into the tea! I simply put a few ingredients available to me and cooked it on the burner, (the existence of which is again because of someone else) and served! And here we were, lapping up all the Thank you! And gloating about our achievement in making a nice tea!

I mean, how blind or myopic are we! Why are we thanking so singularly? Should we not thank every single person who has contributed in making this tea? And do we thank them? No, we didn’t even acknowledge them till then. The magnitude of it all is a big eye opener and a blow to ones ego. Forget the human being helping each other; we never realize but every single thing in this universe works for us and helps us; the human beings. It is so over whelming and humbling at the same time. If we really want to say thank you, show our gratitude we will never know where to begin! We very courteously thank the cab driver and pay him too for taking us to our destination. He was doing his job and we are paying him for his services done, a thank you is good but we never thank our maid for doing her work well, do we? Why so? We blithely cut trees where we have been seeking shelter and whose fruit we have gorged during the season. We neither thanked the tree nor did we bat an eye lid when we cut it down. Why again?

If we really have to show our gratitude it should towards God who gave us all this, free of cost. We should thank nature for serving us, working for us incessantly without once complaining about the harm we humans have brought to it. We will fall short by a large measure if wish to show our gratitude and try and repay nature and God.

Repaying is very farfetched as of now, at least let us try keeping intact this beautiful world and stop destroying it with our insensitivity and greed; this will a small step towards repaying the immense debt we have upon us.

So, thank the Tea maker and thank God for providing us the Tea! 

God – Our Creator

God – Our Creator

My Master, spiritual Guru, always writes in his books and quotes in almost every alternate speech; what our Adi Guru Shri Lalaji Maharaj used to say ‘God has hidden Himself inside your hearts and exposed you. Hide yourselves and expose God.’ This one line sums it all up to say that God is within us. If we have to pray to God or seek God we have to imperatively begin to look within and not at the world that he created or at the different life forms in which he seems to appear in the world around us.

I am reading a very enlightening book titled ‘Inner Growth through Devotion’ By Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati. Everything is explained so simply and with such lucidity that it is very overwhelming and the truth kind of hits you. He talks about God, our creator, the paths to realizing our creator and the ways and means to achieve enlightenment. This is so like our philosophy in SRCM that I am compelled to share it with all of you. This is what is being reiterated by every true realized soul and yet we refuse to see the truth. Many of us still wage an inner war when we have to stand up to our philosophy and follow what our heart knows to be true. We fear opposition from our dearest ones and succumb to what they are following; leaving our creator within us, hidden in the dark corner of our heart. The longer we continue on this path, he further away we are from the truth.

Hinduism, today, thrives on idol worship and terms it as the ideal form of devotion to almighty. Every day we see a temple getting constructed or a ritual being performed in Hinduism. In doing so we tend to fall into the gradual habit of treating God as someone outside of self; a different person sitting somewhere else who may have to be kept happy or pleased at all points of time. If it is true devotion and we really feel immense love for the Idol , want to feed, bathe and tend to the Idol as one of the family , even then we are treating God as someone apart from oneself. But the key question is, is the creator someone else? Is the creator he or she? The Swami writes in his book, ‘According to the French philosopher Descartes, since the universe is structured so well, it must have a creator. It is said that he once visited the king in his newly constructed park. As the king showed him around, it occurred to Descartes that the entire universe was as beautifully structured as the park, and hence, should also have an architect.  We call this architect God. Thus, in this model God is external to the universe; He is in heaven.’  This is the theory which Hinduism also seems to follow, adapt and believe these days. The moment we say God, it immediately suggests a powerful gentleman sitting somewhere in heaven, who seems to be benevolent only towards some members of his flock.

Swamiji goes on to write, ‘The external God is entirely based on a belief system, which cannot become part of philosophy. That is why these religions are called faiths. Sri Krishna says in the Geeta, “This entire universe is pervaded by me (Like ornaments by gold) of unknown (and unknowable) nature.”’

This universe is the only place where life exists and life forms sustain. If God created this world then who created God? And like we humans reside on earth where does God reside? If we are worshipping outside of us; someone external, living elsewhere then how is it that, till date, no scientist has found the residential address of the Almighty?  The researchers seem to have come up with all kinds of theories and logistics but have come to a dead end when they have to answer this one question. So, is God intrinsic to the human being or extrinsic? The thought that has prevailed so far is the later assumption, which we can ascertain with certainty from the different faiths being followed world over. What surprises me though is how come we accept anything in the name of religion and faith? We rarely question this one particular field, whereas we question everything else and have a very firm stoic opinion too. How come our thinking faculties go dim in this particular aspect alone? 

This pertains to understanding about us, the God who created us and who we really are, yet we wish to believe in what has been passed on to us as part of mythology and refuse to remove the colored glasses or seek the truth. The fact that God is intrinsic has been explained by Swamiji thus, ‘Suppose, for instance, God were external to the world in the same way as the pot –maker is external to the pot. A question would then arise about the nature of the material used in this creation. Like the material needed to create a pot is given to the pot-maker. Where did Isvara / God get his material? We may have to say the material was available in heaven. One might then ask who created that heaven and that material. That would seem to require another creator. If he created heaven then where did God live before he created heaven? Therefore, the concept of an external God ‘creating’ this world is a mere belief contradicting reason.’ So, God has to be intrinsic to the universe; He must have created this universe out of Himself. Actually himself/ herself, gender is irrelevant here. God exists everywhere, in everything because this is all from him, through him, a part of him and his! It is clearly visible that this universe is an expression of God. It is like a spider that spins its web from its own self. The spider borrows no material from anywhere outside; it weaves the web from its own self. The web appears to be outside the spider but it is not so, in reality it is a part of the spider, never separate from the spider. Similarly God created his own self in the form of this universe and created this universe for us. He is in each and every one of us; we have kept him elsewhere and treat him to be outside of us. If we can see him as us, a part of us we are on our road to true inner growth and self realization. Till then the journey of self discovery would not have begun for us.

For us abhyasis our beloved Master has explained the same thing in so many simple ways with simpler illustrations. The 12 Maxims tell us how to conduct our lives ; they give us the path to walk on for self realization, for us to become one with Him, our creator.

Idol worship – good or?

Idol worship – good or?

The essence of worship or bhakti and its meaning is what I continue to see for the last 43 years all around me; my mother, when I was young, my in-laws after I got married, we were all devout people and performed Pooja everyday very religiously. SRCM, the meditation practice that I am following for the last four years, does not advocate Idol worship. In the beginning I used to be very skeptical about the SRCM philosophy, it questioned the very foundation on which Hindu religion is structured! And every Hindu performs ritualistic Pooja or rituals every day. This is what I have been sincerely doing, practicing for the last 35 odd years. It was very disconcerting to leave it all, give it the name of increased grossness and stop idol worship. I actually could not give up idol worship for almost an year after joining the Mission, call it fear of displeasing the Gods or deep rooted samskara, a diehard habit of lighting the lamp after bath, then eating food, anything, it was just too ingrained in me and I could not let go. So, I continued Idol worship and maintained my beautiful marble temple with the same love, affection and devotion.

A book I recently read, Temple the heart of worship, describes the method, the aim and the resultant effect of Idol worship very beautifully. Only if one can follow what is written in that book, holding on to that thought in our mind, with that emotion in our heart and pray to the Idol will our prayer be called a prayer and worship has the probability of bearing fruit. Every step has a significant meaning and a reason for performing that particular ritual. If we can worship exactly the way it is said in the scriptures and be able to recreate the essence every time we worship or pray, then alone can it be true idol worship.

 I quote the book, “All worship is meant to lead us to the Brahman. That is what is called Karma Yoga. The temple is a place to worship Isvara, or to perform rituals. Lord Krishna points out (Bhagvad Gita, 2-14) that Vedic rituals help a person who has a clear understanding about the ultimate goal in life, whereas those who do not have such an understanding get lost in the jungle of rituals. Therefore, the temple worship should create ‘jignyasa’ an intense desire for self – knowledge in the devotees.

We have to worship Isvara in a temple with the right attitude.  Even though there is difference in the upadhis, or titles, names, Isvara and Jiva are essentially the same; just as a stone is different from a mountain. Because of the false identification with the ‘upadhi’, the emerging individual may appear to be very insignificant vis-à-vis the universe and its creator.”

It is clear from the above that the most ancient and till date accepted, read and followed scripture, Bhagvad Gita, also says that devotion or worship has to be for self knowledge. The lord is inside, within all of us; through worship we need to delve deep inside and seek HIM there! The more we go to different temples, the more we try to see HIM in different forms on the outside, the more we are running away from HIM within. Whatever is within us, how can we possibly achieve it on the outside?

The author further writes, “The temple architecture is symbolically significant in all aspects. Space is the very first manifestation of Hiranyagarbha, the cosmic person. Every temple has four gates, representing the four directions.” This is the body of every temple, the exterior. But do the devotees flock from world over to see the architecture and go home happy with the thought that they met God? No, they wait for ‘Darshan’ a glimpse, ever so fleeting, of the lord, sitting in the heart, the sanctum sanctorum of the Temple. What is the life source of the temple? The heart, the inner most corners in the temple is where God resides!  That is what a true devotee wants to see. The author beautifully writes, “The Lord verily abides in the cave of the heart. Similarly, a figure symbolizing the Lord is installed in the cave – like Garbha Graha, the inner sanctum – sanctorum in the temple.” It is really no coincidence that even the biggest temples have a very small sanctum sanctorum. “It is just by sheer ignorance that one assumes or imagines that merit and sin accrue to Atman obtaining in the heart. Brahman can be cognized in the cave of the heart of every human being as his innermost reality.”  

To reiterate the same point, we are seeking on the outside and in a defined form what is inside and in a very subtle form. To take the analogy a little further, Even though the temple has four doors, the inner sanctum has only one door. We can take as many paths we wish to walk on the road to self realization, but to really reach HIM or merge with HIM there is only one way, through the heart with self knowledge.

I never knew that there was a reason for keeping the inner sanctum or the Lord’s abode so dark and dimly lit! The inner most corner of our Heart; the sanctum sanctorum is filled with darkness or ignorance. “The idea is that the spiritual aspirant may think of his ignorance, at least in the sacred presence of the Lord. The significance of burning the lamp round the clock is that the lamp of knowledge should ever shine in our heart.

The seers have incorporated the entire teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita in temple worship. When we visit any temple we should keep this vision in mind. Once we understand correctly the symbolism of temple worship, the temple emerges from a seat of worship to a seat of learning”

The small booklet has every single word that is thought provoking; every word has a reason and a meaning. I will also talk about the significance of an oil wick lamp, and why the now used electric lights hold no meaning. Also the meaning and essence of Prasad, the offering received after prayers in the temple.

But first let us try and ask ourselves whether we are actually worshipping the way it has been prescribed in the scriptures? If we are, then is there an increment in self- knowledge? Are we able to see the Idol sitting in front of us, within us after some time? If yes, then Idol worship is your path to self – knowledge. Does our prayer really move you to the very core of your heart? Are you changing after all these years of worship? Is the little lamp continuing to burn or is it getting snuffed and struggling to stay alive drowned with the soot of ignorance and ego? I have been visiting temples and a very diligent devotee for 35 years of my life.  Every shloka and Mantra was by heart to me. I could parrot them even in my sleep. Did I change? When I look back and assess, my honest answer is ‘no’. I never really knew or understood the essence of Idol worship. I prayed because I was supposed to and more often than not it was out of fear that I used to pray. I had never really lit the lamp of my heart. Self – knowledge was very far away. I realized that I had only grown up; I was yet to grow wise.

If we are really worshipping for years with the essence of worship, my perception is a change must be visible and the path to self knowledge must be illuminated by now. If either of these has not occurred then we are not even in the race and we really need to figure out if Idol worship is for us!  Knowing shloka and mantras may even contribute to adding to our ego, a chance to boast about our knowledge and awareness of the religious scriptures.  If no change has come till date then it is time we re-read the texts and try to understand the essence of worship once again. It is what you do, rather how you do whatever you do which is detrimental or beneficial for taking us closer to our real goal of life.

What Do We take With Us?

‘Many succeed momentarily by what they know;
Some succeed temporarily by what they do; but
Few succeed permanently by what they are.’

These three lines have always stayed with me and keep me rooted to the earth. A kind of a reminder to tell me is what you leave behind or what makes you immortal is what you are and were when you were alive, not what you possessed 
by way of wealth and reputation.  
There is a small story about a rich, stingy businessman and his only friend, a tailor. The more the wealth the stingier and meaner is the temperament of the rich may be a true curse. You have all the money which neither do you know how to spend nor are you able to give it away. Anyway, I will not to digress from the main story.
This businessman also fell ill, and his days seemed to be numbered. The tailor’s son came to pay his respects to the ailing Seth and said, ‘Master, I have a small request for you, my father is already in heaven and has forgotten to take his needle with him. He always used to dream of stitching lovely clothes for Gods up in heaven which he is unable to do because his needle is here. Could you please take this needle with you and hand it over to my father, in heaven, where you will be meeting him.’
The tailor was the miser’s only friend, so refusing was out of question. He readily obliged because the boy was not asking him to part with anything, he was foolishly asking this miser to take something with him! So, the businessman took the needle promising to take it with him to heaven the boy happily went away bowing to the miser. Now the businessman thought and thought of all the probable places where he could keep the needle so that he could take it with him whe
n he died. He began wondering about the ways in which he could take the needle with him to heaven. ‘Pin it on my shirt
? No, my clothes online casino will get burnt in the pyre and so will the needle’. Then he thought, ‘Maybe in my mouth, in the bulge of my cheek? But my whole body will be burnt to ashes, how will this small needle survive?’
Without any plausible answer to his dilemma, the Seth got very frustrated and called the little boy and shouted, ‘How can I take this needle with me. I am anyway going to be burnt when I die and reduced to ashes!’

I don’t think I need to add anything else in this article for the reader to understand what I wish to say. I will simply end this with a small poem, a favorite of mine from the book, ‘Becoming a person of influence by Jim Dornan:
The boy only smiled and looked questioningly at the businessman implying, ‘you cannot a small needle and you are hoarding all this wealth for what and to use when?’

My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done,
Leave countless marks for good or ill ere sets the evening sun,
This is the wish I always wish, the prayer I always pray;
Lord, may my life help other lives it touches by the way.’

 

Khalil Gibran on marriage

I am an ardent fan of Khalil Gibran; a poet, philosopher, visionary, saint ….I run out of eulogies when I need to describe this one person. This page is dedicated to him, In the sense I will be writing his poems and try to understand them with you all. Each of us sees the same thing with a unique individual perception. Help understand this great prophet better… He writes:

The sea between the shores of the couples souls
Aye,you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But, let there be spaces in togetherness.
                                                                                                                                  There are a lot of calories in beer and drunk homemade detox drinks in indiscriminate and you don’t individual to drinkable rattling such of it to play putting on unit.                     
Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let your love be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other”s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of lute are casino alone though they quiver with the same music. give your heart but not into each other”s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. Stand together yet not too near together. For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other”s shadow.
colorful life



Beautiful, is it not? A few lines to aptly describe the way a couple can live together and be happy too! A marriage is not about merging with each other! How can two different people merge? Lose their identity? Can an oak tree and the cypress tree be called oak tree? We need to walk hand in hand towards the same goal. Like the train tracks, each one independent yet dependent and very imperative for the smooth running of the train. Give your love to your spouse but safe guard your heart. That is for the creator! We humans forget this truth. We shower everything on each other. And breath down each other”s neck! We forget the creator ,the purpose of our lives and ourselves too. We begin trying to merge ;with unmet expectations end up on different shores with a sea of misunderstandings between us.
So simple yet so difficult!

Dream or Reality

King Janak, of Mithila, once dreamt that he was a hungry pauper and begging for food. He Went from door to door only to be turned away dejected and empty handed. He finally reached a Dharmashala where alms were given to beggars. The poor King had no bowl to receive the food and was sent away from here also unceremoniously. He further dreamt that he scavenged the bins and garbage pools in search of a bowl and finally chanced upon a broken earthen pot piece! The king hurried back with the bowl and got whatever little the bowl piece could hold.
To make matters worse for the crestfallen king he also dreamt that as he was about to put a morsel in his mouth, a bull fight began and they came charging in his direction. Sheer fright stoned the poor king and the bowl of food fell to the floor. He woke up drenched in sweat and totally unsettled. He then heard, “Wake up your majesty!” the loud gong and the sentry in the doorway.
A momentary sense of sadness loomed large over the king. Was the dream real? Or what he was living now, the wakeup call of the sentry and his kingly bed, the richness and mansion, was this real? What if he really had to face the life he dreamt of just now? Was he actually prepared to face such a reality if it were ever to occur?
Are we also not living in a surreal dream like world? All of us seem to be oscillating in a state of sleep and wakefulness. When we are prepared for an event and its eventuality we think we are awake. Because then things go our way and we can perceive or anticipate the end result. If things unexpectedly occur and we have to countenance mishaps or unfortunate losses we want to quickly erase it from our memory like a bad dream or a nightmare best forgotten.
But isn’t this entire life a series of eventualities? It is a sequence of dreams; some pleasant and some not so pleasant. Do we really have a wakeful state is the question we need to ask ourselves. A dream, asleep, last a few minutes and makes us brood over it for maybe an hour or so. This life, in real, is also a dream lasting for maybe 50-70 years encompassing many smaller dreams within dreams over the lifespan of the dreamer.