Inner Life Management.

One must remain immune to the all that happens to him/her externally. One must not let external activities influence one’s condition of mind, instead remain steadfast on his /her path and continue one’s journey in search of the truth.

A man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf, which grows in water but is never moistened by it; so a man ought to live in this world-his heart to God and hands to work”.

-Swami Vivekananda

Lord Rama. The seventh of the principal ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is the perfect exampe of one who managed his inner life perfectly! If one closely looks at his life, Rama’s life was not that of a happy-go lucky person instead his life was a tragedy. At every step he had some disastrous event or the other.

Rama was born to the King Dasharatha and Queen Kaushalya of Ayodhya. Born in the comforts of the palace, after receiving education was taken by a sage (Vishwamitra) to fight demons at a very young age.  Due to anger and hatred of a servant in the palace, his mother Kaikeyi asked some boons which landed him in the forest for 14 years. His young and newly wed wife also accompanied him. His dutiful younger brother Lakshmana went along with him to the forest to help him. His father passed away due to grief of seperation from his beloved son. They fought several demons in the forest. His wife got kidnapped by the demon king Ravan. Rama walked a lot in search of his wife before he received help from an army of bears and monkeys. He fought and defeated Ravan and took his wife back but not before a fire test (for testing his wife’s purity). He took Sita home. After sometime, due to political reasons, he had to send his pregnant wife into forest again. After several years, he fought his sons without knowing it was his sons and almost killed them. Sita returned to Earth right in front of Rama’s eyes. He had to cut all ties with his favorite brother (Lakshman) due to a promise. After ruling for many years, he returned back to heaven by entering River Sarayu.

This is the summary of what all happened in his life. No would want to take this much trouble in one life-time. But then if all this has even happened, why do people worship Rama? The answer lies in the fact that Rama has managed his inner life. Despite the facts that such events happened to him in succession, he did not crack up or give up in life instead he bravely faced all the trials and tribulations that destiny had in store for him. He did not let the emotions get the better of him no matter how depressing it was. True he felt emotions but he didn’t let them cloud his judgement. He remained the way he was, He didn’t forget the qualities he was brought up with.

Take a moment and think, if one of these incidents would happen to us in our lives, we would crack up. Several would just give up. Many would lose hope for living but Rama chose to fight on. One must take inspiration from this quality of Rama and try to find meaning and purpose to life. 

Wishing you all a Happy Rama Navami and may you all find the inner strength of your life.

Anger- The obliterator of the Self

Buddha said,

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burnt”.

Anger is an emotion we all experience almost every-day. It is a strong negative emotion that has the ability to ruin the state of mind. Anger makes one emotionally disturbed, intellectually confused, physically violent and spiritually lost. The overall effect of anger is deadly.

“Anger is an enemy with the face of a friend. Anger is like a very sharp sword. Anger destroys everything”.

Ramayana

So, when does one become angry? Or more importantly, one must ask themselves, why am I angry? Or why should I become angry. It is a question that has different answers as different people have different trigger points, temper and reason.

In Sanskrit, anger has many synonyms but in English, they mean the same. For example, some of the synonyms of anger are Cope(कोप), Krodh(क्रोध), Dwesh(द्वेष) etc however the cause of Cope, Krodh and Dwesh are not the same.  The cause of Cope is issue based. It is temporary. Cope has to be shown at times in the interest of work. It is necessary to survive in this world. Krodh on the other hand is person based. In other words it is grudge. This should not be there. If this exists, slowly this grows into Dwesh (literally translates to Dvi+visha which is double poison). And Dwesh kills you every single day. They say poison kills you once and for all but Dwesh exists till death. The feeling of Dwesh is a nasty one. The very presence of the other person physically and mentally causes you to breed hatred and resentment towards the other individual. It eats you from within and you lose your state of mind. The peace which you actually deserve is lost for the simple cause of breeding hatred, anger and all such negative thoughts in your head.

A very good example to illustrate what damage anger does to oneself can be learnt from the Ramayana. Manthara, the personal maid of Queen Kaikeyi was obsessed with Bharat occupying the throne. She hated the fact that the whole kingdom loved Rama more than Bharat. This hatred that she bore flared up when she came to know that Rama was going to be coronated as King of Ayodhya. No sooner did she hear this than she ran to Kaikeyi to give her the “bad” news. Kaikeyi was joyful upon hearing the news but then Manthara manipulated her into thinking that Rama would enslave her son and rule like a tyrant. The seed of hatred has been planted. Now the course of action. Years ago, Kaikeyi received two vows from her husband, King Dasharatha. She decided to use them – First ask for Bharat (her son) to be coronated as King and second- Banish Rama to vanvas (to live in the forest) for 14 years.

You might think what is the big deal? Now Rama was not only loved by his father and mother but was loved by all. The whole kingdom in fact had started making preparations for his coronation. No sooner did the news break out to the people they were at a loss of words. And what was the news- Dasharatha fell unconscious (because he couldn’t imagine surviving without his favourite son), Rama has given up the throne and will go to the forest for 14 years (to fulfil his duty to abide by the promise given by his father to his mother), Bharat will be King, Kaikeyi asked such boons and Manthara was the root cause. Just observe. One person bore a seed of hatred and see how catastrophic the results turned out. The events later on turned to be worse but the point is look how dangerous how anger is.

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger”.

-Buddha

BG 2.63

“From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When the memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost and when intelligence is lost one falls down into the material pool”.

In conclusion, Anger is something we must avoid as much as possible. Unless and until is required to show it, it must be kept at bay. Anger can’t be avoided entirely because it is a part of our system but it can always be kept under control. As mentioned earlier, Cope must be used but never let it transform into Krodh and dwesh therein. Anger can truly disturb our state of mind. We may not be able to control our feelings but we surely have the power to control the shape of the mind. Its ok to feel angry at times but when it turns the state of mind into that of depression or resentment, beware!! You might have taken the wrong turn.

 

 

#10 year challenge

2019 started off in a crazy way!! An egg went on to bag the highest number of likes on instagram and shortly came the “#10 year challenge” . It required an individual to post a picture of him/her in the present and 10 years ago i.e., A picture that was clicked back in 2007-2009 and a current picture of the guy/girl would have to be posted with the script : #10 year challenge to show the person’s past and present appearance. It is also called #HowHardDidAgingHityou.

But lets pause for a moment and think. True, as mortals we all age but, ask yourselves these questions-

In 10 years, How much have we appreciably evolved in the mental platform?

In 10 years, How mature have we become?

In 10 years, How has your thought process evolved ? Is it actually evolving ? Are we actually involving in something useful ?

I mean, think over it! Is it really necessary? We all age but don’t you think that if we are actually mature we would focus on improving our understanding on the grand scale rather focusing on how our body has changed. The body has to age and die out one day or the other and this is the law of nature. No amount of external make-up can change the fact. Even the external make-up is temporary. We cannot control this change but what is under our control is the directionality of our mind. It takes the slightest tap to set the mind on the wrong path. Whether we like it or not, we must see the truth as it is- External beauty is temporary. It is the character that matters.

Bruce Lee said

” Knowledge will give you power, but character respect”.

BG 2.22

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up old ones”.

BG 2.13

” As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change”.

Hence let us not worry how we looked 10 or 50 years ago- sure it will be nostalgic but it is more important to develop and control our minds. Let us strive to ameliorate our notions about the world and our psyche and see things the way they are.

Prayer- A Contemplative Conversation

Martin Luther King Jr. said

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step”.

Most of us in our times of our difficulties question our faith, beliefs as to whether God exists or no? If he does why the suffering? In such times, it is important to hold ourselves as firmly as possible. No matter how painful the situation, no matter how bad the day goes, ‘Be Strong’. Don’t forget, a diamond undergoes a lot of grinding, cutting and polishing before you see it as it is.

You may wonder, what is it that will hold me together? The answer is Optimism, Faith and Prayer.

Believe it or not, a prayer is man’s greatest power. It enables us to maintain a rapport with the Supreme. A prayer in layman terms would be “Conversation with God”. Prayer can be the unfolding of your innermost emotions, thoughts, a few verses in His glory. A prayer doesn’t change God or affect Him in anyway. It brings about a transformation in the person who has said the prayer.

A question may arise- If it’s a conversation, where’s the part where God talks to you?

The fact is God does talk to you. All you need to do is ‘listen’. There is a huge difference between listen and hear. Listening involves your mind as well whereas hearing doesn’t. In other words, you register what is being spoken to you while in hearing you do not. You always listen when you are calm and quiet. A calm mind can empower the body with tremendous energy. The best way to calm the mind down is to meditate. Meditation means to contemplate and what better way than to contemplate on the Supreme.

BG 9.22

ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.

Srimad Bhagavatham 6.1.19

“Although not having fully realized Krishna, persons who have even once surrendered completely unto His lotus feet and who have become attracted to His name, form, qualities and past-times are completely freed of all sinful reactions, for they have thus accepted the true method of atonement. Even in dreams, such surrendered souls do not see Yamaraja or his order carriers who are equipped with ropes to bind the sinful”.

It is clearly stated, one who simply surrenders to Him, has nothing to fear.

Always remember,

“God is the best listener. You don’t need to shout or cry our loud because he hears even the very silent prayer of a sincere heart”.

Clincher

The year has come to an end. Pretty much, everyone has had their share of ups and downs this year. A multitude of people would have already listed down “New Year Resolutions”. These include to improve physical and mental well being, improve finances, improve career, education, get over grudges and so on.

35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.. There can be several reasons such as – Lost track of it, Lack of will power, too many distractions and incapable of handling them, “Ahh leave it, will try it from next year”. Just as one plans ahead of any journey, similarly in the journey of life also, every individual must chalk out his/her steps. If one consults their own experience, they will understand that it is better to lay out short term goals which lead to a long term one. Many a times, people aim at the target but forget to reconsider the path. An aimless arrow is the most dangerous one.

As the year ends, I thought of putting across a few thoughtful quotes which would surely lighten the hearts of knowledge within us and take a step closer to realizing one’s self.

“Be a good person, but don’t waste time to prove it”.

“You’re the driver of your own life, don’t let anyone steal your seat”.

“Never apologize to others for their misunderstanding of who you are”.

“Be the same person, privately and publicly”.

“If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down”.

“The less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life becomes”.

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living in the present”.

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys”.

“Never get too attached to anyone, because attachments is the root of expectations and expectations lead to suffering”.

“Overthinking is the biggest cause of unhappiness”.

“Greatness in man lies in simplicity. Seeking attention only leads to disappointment”.

“Man acts according to his intelligence”.

“Remain humble no matter what your status is”.

“Never make a decision when you are in extremes of moods. Always make decisions with a calm mind”.

“Righteousness is useless unless paired with foresight”.

“Half knowledge is dangerous”.

Hope these quotes from the ancient times bring upon the light of wisdom in our life to carry on even in life’s darkest times.

Wishing you all a Happy and a Prosperous New Year. May you all find the courage even in the darkest corners of your life 🙂

The Material world

What is this material nature?

The Bhagavad Gita enlightens us about the five basic truths viz., The Jiva ( Living entity), Ishvara (Controller), Prakriti (Material Nature), Karma (Activity) and Time. This material nature is described as inferior in nature. Everything that we see around us is material in nature. The material world is characteried by its transience. Everything that is found in this world is temporary- It is bound to be destroyed or lost or replaced. For example, a house can be destroyed by natural calamities or destroyed to construct a new flat; telephones being replaced by smart phones; canons, bow and arrows replaced with heavy artillery, the list goes on. The description given by Bhagavad Gita on the material world is as follows:

BG 15.1-2:

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable Banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.

The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of the human society”.

The material world is nothing but the perverted reflection of the spiritual world. One-fourth of the creation is considered to be material and the rest is spiritual. Earth is not the only world that is created. There are 14 worlds- seven above (Bhu, Bhuvas, Svar, Mahas, Janas, Tapas, and Satya) and seven below (Vitala, Sutala, Rasātala, Talātala, Mahātala, Pātāla and Naraka). The earth is in the Bhu realm. The material world is just a mere reflection, therefore it is temporary and it isn’t real just as your image that is formed when you stand infront of the mirror.  It merely imitates your actions. Since, there is a reflection, there must be a source. This source is the spiritual world.

Then if this is the reflection, is the spiritual world just like the way we see the world? No. The spiritual world’s beauty is beyond awe!

BG 15.6

“That Supreme abode of mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world”

The spiritual world, the abode of the Supreme Lord is being described here. It doesn’t require sun/moon/fire/electrcity to light up the sky. The planets here are self-luminous. The Katha Upanishad (2.2.15) too confirms that the spiritual sky doesn’t need any of the above luminary bodies, for the whole spiritual sky is illuminated by the effulgence of the Lord. Part of this shining sky is covered by the “mahat-tattva”, the material world. Other than this, major portion of that shining sky is full of spiritual planets.

As long as the living entity is in this dark material world, he is in conditional life, but as soon as he reaches the spiritual world by cutting through the false, perverted tree of material world, he becomes liberated. In the conditioned state, the individual thinks he is the boss, but when he becomes enlightened/ realizes the ignorance he is in, he will strive to reach the spiritual realm. There he enjoys eternal bliss, life and is full of knowledge.  However, that doesn’t mean one can become detached from this material world by simply dressing in ochre clothes. He must be devoted to the Supreme Lord whole-heartedly.  This way he can surely become reach God.

Lust

One of the three gateways to hell…. The sure path to doom and devastation

BG 2.62-63

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.

It is evident from the above verses that attachment causes an individual to fall back into the material pool. It is not an instant one but it is a series of steps  which are in fact quite subtle and they may occur without our awareness.

When the senses find something that gives it pleasure, it attaches to it. This can be for any of the five senses- eyes,ears,nose,tongue and skin. For example, an ice cream which is a favorite for millions, pleasures the tongue and eyes; music pleasures the ears and so on. Once the senses attach to the objects of their desire, the senses develop a lust to obtain/attain that object.

What is Lust?

BG 3.37

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna which is born of contact with the the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.

When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his love for Krishna gets tarnished with lust i.e., due to attachment, this love which we have for the Supreme Father gets transformed to lust. Love for Krishna can be transformed to lust by modes of material nature but transforming lust to love is extremely exasperating. When lust unsatisfied, it turns into wrath which is transformed into illusion. Therefore, lust is the greatest enemy which induces the pure living entity to remain entangled in this material world. It drags us from the plane of reality and truth and drowns us in the ocean of nescience.

Where does this lust originate from? The answer is also given by Krishna:

BG 3.40

The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.

Mind is the center of all activities of the senses. Thus when we hear about the sense objects the mind generally becomes the reservoir of all ideas of sense gratification and as a result, the mind and the senses become the storehouse of lust. Intelligence is the immediate neighbor the spirit soul. Lusty intelligence influences the spirit soul to attain false ego and identify itself with matter. The spirit soul thus becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakes this as true happiness.

BG 3.41

Therefore, O Arjuna, best of Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self realization.

Thus the Supreme Lord asks us to slay this enemy in the very beginning of the spiritual journey as it hinders the entity from attaining self realization. Lust is only the perverted reflection of love of God which is natural of every living being. If one is educated during the genesis, that natural love for God cannot deteriorate. Turning lust into love is the highest perfection.

Mind- Friend or Foe?

BG 2.56

One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness and who is free from attachment,fear and anger is called a sage of steady mind.

The mind is a friend of the controlled and the enemy of the uncontrolled. The individual who masters his mind, masters his senses. Controlling the mind is the x-factor in leading a spiritual life. We are where our mind takes us. The mind is potentially the most dangerous weapon. It has the ability to destroy and individual if not controlled.

The mind can be trained and it’s energy can be channelized to do productive work. The mind must be under control at all times. This can be done in several ways however the best and the most effective method is by chanting the Lord’s name, thinking of Him, serving Him. When the mind is trained in this manner it will have no choice but to be at your service.

If the mind is not controlled, it will create absolute chaos. The uncontrolled mind leads the senses to act as they will. If the mind and senses are not controlled the results are evident from the following verses.

BG 2.60

The senses are so strong and impetuous,O Arjuna,that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavouring to control them.

BG 2.67

As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the boat,even one of the roaming sense on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.

Thus, one must engage the mind and the senses in the service of the Lord.

The soul

The real nature of the soul is described in the Bhagavad Gita as ‘INDESTRUCTIBLE’. Consciousness is spread throughout the body. It is this which differentiates between a dead and a living being. Each and every body is the embodiment of an individual soul and the symptom of the soul’s presence is perceived as individual consciousness.

According to the Mundaka Upanishad this atomic soul which is 1/10000 the size of the tip of the hair on your head is situated in the heart of every living entity. Life of an entity is due to the light of the ātma. Medical science has proven that the heart is the seat of all energies in the body.

BG 2.22

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

BG 2.25

It is said that the soul is invincible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this you should not grieve for the body.

Therefore the body itself is unimportant and we must cleanse this bodily concept of life. That is I am spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Just as how a machine is looked after by maintaining it similarly the body must be maintained to perform the prescribed duties.

Spirituality- A beginner’s point of view

Spiritual life means understanding material life is illusion driven and temporary. Practitioners have to develop the requisite knowledge and understanding to distinguish between what is spiritual and what is material. Thus they have to cautiously keep away from material allurements. Lord in Bhagavad-Gita gives a nice example of a Tortoise. Tortoise when it sees external threat withdraws it’s limbs and head into its Shell and remains quiet and peaceful until the threat disappears. Likewise a spiritual practitioner should carefully withdraw his senses and also the mind from material allurements whenever they appear. However much one may feel confident but one must understand that Maya, the illusory energy of the Lord is very difficult to overcome as Krishna Himself States in Bhagavad-Gita. For the devotee the sadhana and association of pure devotees serve as a protective Shell. Without association the Tortoise like devotee might transform into a chameleon meaning changing taste and priority in the presence of slightest distraction. A weak practitioner might behave like a chameleon changing its colors. Or one may behave like an ostrich burying its head in the Sand keeping rest of its body open to attack. Material allurements are constantly present and there is not a time when it’s not going to be there. Therefore understand and apply Bhagavad-Gita in your life diligently.

BG 2.58

One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.

BG 7.14

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.