Monthly Archives: October 2013

My epitaph

My epitaph

“To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die” – I read this line when I was probably 14 years old and it simply stuck; I could never forget it, I don’t know who coined this line, where I first read it or why I remember it even. It simply is there and keeps popping up now and then. This line has always come to me when I have a doubt or if something dissatisfactory is happening with me, around me and I am groping in the dark seeking a way out, searching for a ray of hope; light.

Most of my youth I frittered away aimlessly searching for a goal and my true calling. I joined courses thinking this is what I wanted to do, and this would be my last, I had finally arrived. And very soon boredom would sweep in and I would be searching again. Then for some time I would do job hunting take interviews and start working.  After marriage, my husband, poor soul, would be on tenterhooks whenever I used to get into one of these job hunting frenzies! He could not reason with me and I used to be like a woman possessed, just stomp off, step out and get a job.  I realise now that it took nerves of steel on his part to be able to cope and endure a spouse as crazy, wilful and dominating like I! I worked as an audit assistant for some time when my son was a toddler. My husband was on an easy timeline at that point in life and used to be home, cater to our child and see that one of us was always available for him. Probably one reason why my son dotes and idolises his dad so much till date, even though, nowadays they barely exchange a few words whereas I spend every waking minute with the kids!

When our son was 3 years or so, we both got busy with work and careers. My husband dissuaded me from getting into fulltime work; but my madness inevitably crept in and then nothing worked. One fine day I simply went, marched into a college, met the chairman and sought a demo session for the post of lecturer. I went on Friday and Monday I started working, appointment letter in hand! My poor husband said nothing at all, with great reluctance and heavy heart he agreed that our son would be dropped off at the crèche after school, and I would collect him in the evening on my way home from work.

This continued for a few months and my new job was taxing me, I was an excellent lecturer but the subject was not to my liking. Again my sense or boredom was approaching and I was getting irritated with the students, their lack of interest and easy going attitude towards the course. B.Com students are usually there just for the degree and most of them have a business waiting for them or are already pursuing MBA on the side. So this course and class, lectures are for them just a chance to have fun, be with friends and play mischief. It is very draining and discouraging teaching such a bunch. Invariably, I used to start fresh every day with a new resolve of gaining their interest and every evening my hopes would plummet. I used to be a very grouchy person when I picked up my son and in no mood to play or give him any good company. I was too full of the dismal day and simply needed a rest. Playing with my son, spending some quality time with him became rare, very rare.

One day I took an off and we spent the whole day together, just the two of us, my son and I and we were playing, happily laughing and enjoying every moment. During the course of the day he innocently made a remark, “Ma, I would always like to remember you like this only, laughing, and having fun with me.” I burst into tears that night, what had I turned into, I was not a good mom, I was so busy working that I had forgotten how to be a loving person. My son was cherishing this moment, imprinting it in his memory to remember me by! He has no good memories of me! I came home to him every day and got him what? My share of irritation, frustration, anger and spite! When did I become like this I don’t know, and that line came back to me, simply popped up – ‘To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die’. And with a sinking feeling I realised I was dead already, and my son was hanging on to some shreds of the good me, to desperately continue to love his mom, remember her with some long lost good memories.

I never went back to being a full time working woman after that night. If that line was to be my epitaph, I was long way off the mark. Many messy memories needed to be cleansed and fresh loving ones were to be reinstalled. I would have to work really hard to make that line come true. I did work and I can humbly say I have achieved success too. My son is still very close to his Dad but I am his darling mom too, and he has many things to remember me by, in case I cease to be tomorrow. I am sure he will miss me and always feel my presence whenever he may need me.  He has been such a beautiful gift from God to us that I feel totalled humbled and grateful. He has taught me many lessons and helped me become a better person in his own simple, unassuming, innocent way.

Check-checkmate

Check-checkmate

Udharet asmana atmanam na atmanam avasadayet I

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

 

उद्धरेत  आस्माना आत्मानं न आत्मानं अवसादयेत्  ।

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

Translation:

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game of Life

Game of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are the one

Last month I visited a remote village outside of Ghaziabad, UP to conduct puja. We, the other volunteer and I were delayed, trying to find our way and by the time we reached there a small group of people were already waiting for us. 

I apologized for the delay and started the puja, before and after the every session I ask a few relevant questions like when was their last sitting, or how is their meditation going on, do they have any doubts regarding the practice and so on and so forth. I followed the same path here also but the responses I got were all very different from the usual anticipated ones. In addition to answering my questions with utmost brevity all of them cited some other problem or ailment of theirs in great detail. By the time I came to the 6th or 7th person I was kind of feeling low and eager to see a young chirpy smiling face. These women and men alike were all middle aged and could only complain and crib about their life’s inconveniences. I did not know when next I would visit this place and so I certainly was incapacitated as far as helping them in any way was concerned. The feeling of helplessness was settling in and I was slumping in my chair praying for some young face, and soon.

It is true that when you fervently wish for something to happen even the God’s conspire to make it a reality. And the next two that sat in front of me were a mother and her daughter! I must have really smiled for the first time that day, out of sheer relief. So, I started talking to the daughter, asked her name and what she wanted to do and this is the small conversation we had, her mother butting in at the right places:

Me, “Namastey, what’s your name? ”

Mother, “Archana, she is studying Law! She wants to become an advocate!”

Me, looking at the daughter, “Really! That’s great! Become an advocate and do what?”

Archana, “Do something for my country, do good”

Me, “Wow! That is really cool, so you have a plan in place? I mean you wish to do something for the country, so where are you going to begin? Country is huge! ”

Mother, “She will start from here; her native place, she will start here madam! Then she will go to the city and then country!”

The daughter nodded in agreement and I was kind of beginning to have fun, finally. So, I continued, “So, to start from here also you need to be aware of the problems they are having and the wrong things that are happening in your vicinity, right?”

Again before the daughter could open her online casino mouth the mother said, ‘No, no, she knows nothing! She is busy studying always; in fact she comes here for weekends, stays with her aunt!’

I probably had a very visibly puzzled look by now because the daughter softly said, ‘No, I think I will try and correct the things that I can correct at home first, then village, and then from there probably try and bring a change and serve the nation!’

This answer pleased me and I was happy that she was narrowing it down and thinking about where and how she could bring a change. I just had to push her a little more and probably I would get the answer I was angling for from the start of this conversation.

 I said, “Wow! Good, so home is the first place you think needs to be changed is it?”

Mother, ‘Home? What is wrong at home? And what do you want to change at home?!

And before the girl could begin to explain, the mother declared, “You change yourself first! Set things right with you, your time table, dreams and goals! The rest will fall in place. Change should begin with the concerned person, right sister?”

I was too speechless with the quick reaction and exchange, but the sweet and wise girl thought for a moment and said, “Yes, sister. What my mum says is correct. I will first change and then only can I think of brining a change, here or anywhere. You please start meditation.”

I had my answer; I smiled and started the puja with a smile on my face. A few simple exchanges and both, mother and daughter had hit some home truths on realising dreams and where change should really begin from.

Globally, the youth today is full of energy, enthusiasm and fire with the burning desire to bring the change. The path nevertheless is totally hazy and they are too impatient to wait, think and chalk out the path in the first place. They have envisioned a grandiose dream and are totally in the dark as to how to realise the dream. Frustration, anger sets in fast and they become aggressive blaming the system, parents and everything else. The famous quote of Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see” is forgotten or never understood in its totality.

To close this, here is another clipping sent by a friend of mine, another true anecdote with the same message.

 WORDS FOR TEENAGERS

Northland College Principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth, “Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘what can we do, where can we go?”

My answer to this is. “Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, study your lessons, visit the sick, and after you have finished, read a book, your town does not owe you any recreational facilities, your parents do not owe you fun.

The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that now one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a back bone not a wish bone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It is too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now, and that somebody is you!”

 

 

A pinch of Salt

A pinch of Salt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ego- does it go?

Ego- does it go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identity

Identity

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

“jin dhunda tin payiya, gahire pani paith;

            mai bauri duban dari, rahi kinare baith.”

जिन ढूंड़ा तिन पयियाँ , गहरे पानी पैठ ,

मै भैरी डूबन डरी, रही किनारे बैठ ||

Meaning

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

I foolishly feared drowning and remained sitting on the shore.

Commentary 

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

 

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

 

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


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


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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Jab Tak Hai Jaan–

Jab Tak Hai Jaan–

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Balanced Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My daughter says so…

My daughter says so…

My nine years old is very argumentative, wants a reason, logic and a viable ground to work with; it can be any topic from maintaining her time-table to the reason why I learn music at my age! There are innumerable incidents in our daily life and I can easily write a book narrating her thought process and logical conclusions. Every anecdote has some learning for me and I realised that I may have imparted very little of me to the kids whereas my learning from them has been unimaginable!

Their innocent, incessant cross questioning and maddeningly hair splitting examination of every word I utter has forced me to be vigilant and weigh my words with utmost care and caution; resultantly loose talk is out of the way completely in my house! It is full of intelligent humour, and quizzical play with words and topics.

Here I am citing the latest anecdote. We are going to music class together; my daughter and I. she is an amazing singer more like a child prodigy and I am just the opposite. To be brutally honest, I really don’t know why I am still in the class, because my vocal chords still seem to be the same and my voice worse than ever. During my courtship days, I used to confidently sing for my husband and he used to never tire singing my praises and the crystal clear quality of my voice. And I always used to think I am a good singer, just in need of a little practice and of course a good tutor for formal training!

When I joined I thought I would soon improve and my teacher would definitely appreciate my hard work. But with the passage of time truth showed its ugly face and I knew that I was simply kidding myself. For some strange reason I continued to go and never thought of quitting. It is such a contrasting scene in the class, once ma’am asked us to sing a particular Raga and the teacher complimented her saying, “It is the teacher’s good fortune and good karma that they get a chance to teach such and gifted natural and exemplary student.” I was all smiles and feeling very proud when she smiling added, “Sharanya, you don’t feel bad, whatever you lack and can never achieve; God has bestowed on your daughter in a double doze!!”

I said nothing; simply smiled. My daughter chipped in on my behalf saying, “No ma’am, Mama wants to sings only for Her Master. She wants me to become a famous singer.” I was very grateful for her support and congratulated myself on raising such a loyal, devoted child, my good fortune and blessings of Almighty.

Recently, because of unprecedented guesting / hosting I was too over worked and decided to skip a few classes. The first 2 classes the teacher did not ask about my whereabouts and my daughter also never bothered to find out why I was not accompanying her. Third class the teacher asked her and she very innocently replied, “She just dropped me off and returned ma’am, don’t know why!!”

When she told me I didn’t know what to say!! What would the teacher think? I was returning from her door step the last 3 classes!! God!! This silly girl, she could have lied or made some excuses on my behalf!!

And as fate would have it I could not go for the next class either. But I carefully coached my girl and told her to ma’am, in case she asked, that I was unwell. That is why I am not attending the class.

I eagerly waited for her return that day, totally restless and praying that she would not mess up. The minute she returned I asked her if ma’am had enquired. She was very upset and took off like a rocket saying, “Please give me a complete reason next time!! What exactly has happened to you? I don’t know!”

I asked, “what exactly occurred, baby? What did ma’am ask?”

Daughter, “She asked me why you did not come and like you said I told her that you were unwell!”

I , “Then?”

“Then what! She asked what exactly happened to you! And I don’t know what is wrong with you, so what could I say?”

“Then, What did you say?”

All I could say was, I don’t know what is wrong with her, but I heard her taking an appointment with the doctor now and I know that she is going to a doctor in a while, and she continued very sweetly, Please give full details next!! I hate lyingL”

I felt very bad for her and totally ashamed that I was uselessly forcing her to lie. What was a casual habit for me, making excuses, became a grave lie for her and could not cope with it! I apologised to her and promised myself that I would never repeat anything like this again.

That incident actually brought a change in me; I am regular for class, no excuses. I practice at home with my darling and I have challenged myself that I will surely force the teacher to compliment my voice too, someday in the near futureJ. And my daughter loves my spirit and encourages me!

The change these little incidents have made in my life, the learning I receive from children, their innocence and purity is very humbling always.