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.

In Pursuit of Happiness

You are the source of your happiness. Be happy 🙂

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create”.

 – Buddha

Happiness, one of the most sought out thing in the world. But what is this happiness? And why is it that only a few have found this and not the rest? Is there a secret map? Well, the answer is – No there is no such secret map.

Happiness is a state of mind where the individual is content from within and not due to any external stimuli. People who are happy have understood that happiness derived from external sources tend to fade away sooner or later but it is the happiness from being content from within that is ever-lasting. Happiness only comes to those who appreciate what they have. A very good example to prove this statement already floats in the internet. Many of us would have seen kids in under-developed regions or slums smiling from ear-to-ear in spite of having very little material comforts and yet the upper strata of the society having much more than this aren’t. Being comfortable and being happy are not one and the same.

Even the brightest/ richest people today commit suicide!! Why??? First of all, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. There’s no guarantee that we will wake up tomorrow. If you do, there you go, you have a reason to be happy. Simply be grateful for being alive and try making your day as productive as possible. Failure is a part of life and is the nature of this world to have dualities (success-failure, cold-hot, wet-dry etc). One thing we must understand- Without sorrow we won’t know what is Happiness. This doesn’t mean we sulk and sit down waiting for happiness to come to us. Being happy is not a compulsion, it is a choice. 

Another reason why people aren’t happy because they place their happiness on people and other material objects. Which means only as long as that person or object is with them, they are happy. Once they go, so does the happiness. This is pseudo-happiness. We do not need others to keep ourselves happy.

Happiness is a contagious energy which radiates positivity all around. No one would like to hang around with someone who is pessimistic in life. Oscar Wilde said

“A flower blossoms for its own joy”.

Be like a flower. Be happy for yourself because you deserve it. Don’t do for others but for yourself because you deserve to be happy.

The question that remains unanswered: How to be remain happy? Quite an easy answer.

You are an individual, an independent one. If you are dependent on others to keep you happy, wouldn’t that make you a slave to their behavioural needs and emotions? It is ridiculous to think that somebody else or something can make you happy or unhappy. So, don’t give your remote to others. Operate it yourself.

BG 5.23-24

“Before giving up this body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and happy in this world”

“One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices every moment and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme”.

Thus, the path of spirituality too becomes easier when one is happy. Unless one is able to relish happiness from within, you cannot retire from the external engagements meant for driving superficial happiness. A happy person can therefore sit silently at any place and enjoy the activities of life from within. Such a person no longer desires external material happiness.

#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 🙂

Moksha comes with a price ( Part 1)

The ultimate aim of spiritual life.

Moksha… many spiritual practioners strive to attain moksha. Well, there are primarily four types of moksha:

  1. Saalokya Mukti (Going to same abode as per form of the Lord)
  2. Saamipya Mukti (Being close to that form of the Lord)
  3. Saarupya Mukti ( Attaining the same form of the Lord)
  4. Saayuja Mukti  ( Merging with the Supreme Lord)

To attain moksha, one must be pious- in thoughts, words and deeds. To be pious one need not bathe in the Ganges or trek the Himalayas. It all begins with the simple yet important decision of surrendering to the Almighty. It is stated in the Bhagavad Gita

BG 18.65

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo ‘si me

“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend”.

Krishna promises Arjuna that those who worship him with faith will undoubtedly reached Him. Krishna is self sufficient, He can protect and serve Himself yet He choses to be served by His devotees inorder to give them the chance to come back to Him.

The tale of Gajendra Moksha is a well known story told to kids in their early stages in order to instill the faith in them that God always hears you in whatever situation you are. In short, a king was cursed to become an elephant by the great sage Agastya. One day, the elephant was wading in the waters of the Mandara hills. A crocodile caught hold of the giant’s leg and dragged it into the water. Due to king’s pious karma, he remembered a prayer to the Lord and in its dire situation with utter devotion called out Lord Vishnu’s name. Lord Vishnu arrived at the scene and liberated both the crocodile( who was also cursed for his insolant behaviour towards a sage) and the elephant( who attained Saarupya mukti). This story truly tells us the Lord is hearing us and all we need to do is call out to Him sincerely.

In the olden days, sages and kings would perform penance for thousands for years( I am pretty sure that you would have read/heard stories at least). Their penance was not a simple one, it would be a one of utterly back-breaking(Literally). Imagine standing on one toe for 10000000…… years just to please a diety to get a boon.In todays world and current scenario, its obvious that one cannot stand one a toe for thousands of years on a hilltop with nothing but a loin. Let alone one toe, the average lifespan of humans have dropped down to 68 years( male) and 72 years for female. So what is the solution if one can’t perform such penances to please the Lord? How are we supposed to attain liberation from this cycle of birth and death?

The Answer is simple: chant His names– be it the Vishnu Sahasranamam, Achyutastakam, Hare Krishna Mantra, Narasimha Kavacham and thousand others. Even visiting temples to pray to the diety is a form of expressing your devotion. Visiting temples with devotion can indeed wash away the sins accumulated over many life times. For example, the tirupati temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, the second richest temple in the world is a must visit! Located on the Tirumala hills also known as Venkatachala hills, the literal translation is Ven meaning sins and kata meaning destroyed. According to scriptures, if one visits these hills with utmost devotion inorder to see the Lord, his/her sins are washed away.  Not only tirupati, but any temple visited with sincerity and selflessness i.e., if one goes to a temple with no other intention except to seek the Lord’s  mercy and his grace one is sure to receive His protection.

So why does Moksha come with a price? And most importantly, what is the price that one must pay inorder to get liberated from this “material world” ?

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.