Monday, September 19, 2011

Daily ways to NIRVANA

           There may be no easy route to success. Yet, everyday life offers us a hundred different chances to attain a higher level of consciousness. At home ,in office and else where are plenty of opportunities to empathize ,forgive & evolve.
           Take those who are rude & mean or nasty towards you. There are two choices facing a person who has to deal with malice, jealousy and bickering, daily. You can either respond in the same manner as your antagonist does ,or take the opportunity to rise above him.
         "You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger," said the Buddha.
The Buddhist Bodhidharma texts classify jealousy as part of hostility. They define it as " a disturbing emotion that focuses on other peoples accomplishments and is the inability to bear their accomplishments."
           It’s a fact of life that those who harness others are quite miserable themselves. They are blinded by rage, jealousy & resentment & knowingly walk into the abyss of self-destruction.
          Buddhist monk Mittavinda harassed another 'perfect' monk and had to repent for 1000 lifetimes, thereby acquiring 'The Curse of Mittavinda'. The Jataka Tales narrate how this monk ,once happy with his simple village life, did not realize how lucky he was and let jealousy consume him ,literally.
         When Christ said, "Father, forgive them ,for they, know not what they do," he meant that the cross of forgiveness and magnanimity had to be carried by the humbler, more evolved person. He meant that although the easy way out was to react, the humane approach was to rein in your response.
        For, in the end, the wheels of life come a full circle & teach us all the lessons that we need to learn, in this life & in the next. These immortal lines from Magna est  VERITAS put it well: "for want of me, the worlds course will not fail; when all its work is done, the lie shall prevail, when none cares whether it prevails or not."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Be Good To Be Good

                    Last Sunday ,I read all over again all the interesting SMSes that I had received over the last 1 year.
And lived for some time in a world far removed from the reality of the present. If I was thrilled to read some of them ,there were others that reminded  me how cruel the world we live in is. And yet some others reminded me of some great virtues of life ,which ,if applied in life ,could make our existence on this planet much more meaningful & enjoyable.
                     One of them was this: God asked a young girl ,"What is forgiveness?"  The girl replied ,"It’s the wonderful fragrance given to us by a flower when crushed. Or the lasting auspicious color those mehendi leaves give us when  ground to pulp."
                     It is difficult to be a Gandhi or a Christ & follow them. But it is not impossible. One who understands the nature of life & its ultimate aim can very well see reasons good enough to be a Gandhi or a Christ. And if you deliberate on the pros & cons of forgiveness, you will realize  that your victory lies in showing the other cheek.
                       I m a fan of Robert Browning . He is one who give you gems of lessons for living a good & a purposeful life . Reflect on these words," It's good to forgive ,best to forget". By forgiving someone who has wronged  you or harmed you, you rise to the level of gods. That is why Peter Von Winter, the great German opera composer, had said," It is mankind to punish, but godlike to forgive".
                       The best and the most sublime enjoyment of life can be only tasted after forgiving your enemy. You will realize that you have not done anything good to your enemy but to yourself because, as Winston Churchill said, nothing is more costly, nothing more sterile than vengeance. One has to be necessarily kind & loving because only kindness gives birth to kindness. Remember this truth that you cant be good until you are good to others!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Total Surrender

 It would not be an exaggeration to say that almost  half of our life are spent in trying to understand what life really means and what should be the best means to charter it in the right direction. It is not possible to say a final word on the subject, given the mysteries & complexities of life.
     I am reminded of an Urdu couplet 'um-er Dara maang Ker layee they char din, do arzoo Mein beet Gaye do intzar Mein'.
      These were the words of the last Emperor of Hindustan, Bahadur shah Zafar, meaning " God gave us four days: Two days were spent in nurturing great expectations &  the rest two in waiting for their fulfillment."
      Despite the craving for material gains & all that, we do realize that there is an eternal truth about life that it cannot be led to our complete satisfaction. That is why we find people crowding places where religious discourses are being delivered. I happened to come in close touch with a senior officer whom I met in a temple. I was greatly moved by his ideas  &  simplicity. He always advised me to leave everything 2 god - total surrender. Every morning, he would stop for a few minutes & tell me something which I find difficult to forget. He used to often discuss epics like Ramayana & Mahabharata. We used to debate on many points like the genesis of 'total surrender'. It owes its genesis to Bhagwad gita. Lord Krishna told Arjuna not to be disturbed by the big question about God's existence but leave everything to Him.
      Things do not go the way u want to u have to learn to reconcile to the situation u are in. Greta Garbo went to the extent of saying," there seems a law that governs all over actions so I make plans". However ,this does not mean renunciation of action. We have to play our role in the best manner we can, & leave the rest to Him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Live life with compassion

Compassion is not an attribute of any one religion. It is a universal principle for happiness and peace. In a world torn by conflicts and strife, where violence and not love dictates peoples actions, what every person, at every level, of every age needs to learn is the art of nurturing compassion within. Be it a homemaker fulfilling the many needs of her family, an entrepreneur meeting people and clinching deals  for her company, a politician passing bills in the legislature that can change the destiny of millions or an auto rickshaw driver bargaining for higher rates with his passenger - whoever you may be, u need compassion. Compassion should no more lie in the ideologies of philosophers, or in the lucrative rewards of theologians ( in the afterlife). The voice of compassion needs to be heard in every household, educational institution,office,business unit,shop,mall and theater, besides other places and circumstances.
For centuries now we have reserved compassion to be a prerogative of a chosen few, like a Christ or a Buddha. We have also conceptually dismissed the possibility of someone living and embodying such a quality in the hurry-burly or everyday life. Is it so difficult to live compassionately?  Or are we so incapable that we cannot raise ourselves to those standards?
Compassion begins with empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel for another. Those who are sensitive to the motions of life, to the experiences of pain and pleasure, are capable of empathy. Those who have watched the movements of their thoughts, the burden of unnecessary thinking, and the pain of conflicting thoughts know it well. Those who have paid attention to their emotional upsurges, the unintelligent ways of anger, hurt or hate, the irrationality of fear, feel empathy for another who is going through a similar emotion. Hence , compassion begins with attention to one's own life experiences, be it physical or emotional.
Empathy and compassion thus born would naturally blossom into acts of kindness to reach out to others. Well-being of the other is the highest priority for a compassionate person; hence her actions would reflect tremendous intelligence, fortitude and discretion. It could also be gentle words of love  and strength or a heartfelt prayer for divine help.
Compassion is not the armor of the weak; it is the weapon of the strong. It is irresponsible to think, believe and preach that anger and violence can solve our problems. Problems at micro as well as macro level arise because of lack of understanding and love between the people. Problems that are situation-based are very less compared to those that are emotion-based. Situation-based problems need better strategy and skill to  solve them but emotion-based problems need people who are involved in moving out of those negative emotions that are causing them.
That is why any constructive change can never be effected through anger and violence. Compassion is the answer.
Let us nurture the noble virtue of compassion consciously with dedication. Let us see the faces of people who walk into our world with smiles, tears, affection and wrath. Let us meditate on their feelings 2 let compassion blossom

Monday, September 12, 2011

Conflict Necessary For Creativity

When MK Gandhi was thrown out of a train in south Africa he had a choice 2 make- either 2 ignore the event & live in peace or enter into a conflict & face harassment, hardship & the possibility of getting physically hurt. He chose da latter. Why? Did he not have a guru who had taught him that living in peace & tranquility was the ultimate objective of life & the best way to achieve this objective was 2 avoid situations of conflict? Why did he not walk away?
The Dalai Lama chose 2 live in exile rather than live in peace in Tibet. He is a spiritual master himself. He preaches peace around the world. Does he not know that living in peace requires avoiding situations  of conflict?
Aung San Suu Kyi did not have 2 stay in jail. Winston Churchill did not have 2 join the world war. Nelson Mandela did not have 2 suffer in solitary confinement. Julius Nyerere did not have 2 fight a war with Idi Amin. There is a long list of people who have embraced conflict despite standing 4 peace, otherwise. They had the courage 2 stand up against repression rather than submit 2 it.
Both Ramayana & Mahabharata, revered Indic epics, are stories of war, not peace. Krishna did not tell the Pandavas 2 ignore the incident of Draupadi's humiliation in court. He encourage them 2 go to war. The Gita says engaging in war 2 uphold truth is not a matter of choice for a warrior; it is his duty. Islam says participation in jihad is the duty of a Muslim when the fight is to uphold justice when challenged by oppression, as a way of self-defense.
Most of us are confused between conflict & the method of resolving a conflict. We assume, incorrectly, that Gandhi, as a peace loving person, must have avoided situations of conflict. On the other hand, he faced conflict head-on. Bhagat Singh & Gandhi were both gearing themselves 2 deal with conflict, except that Gandhi tried 2 employ peaceful means while Bhagat Singh chose aggression.
The duty of a scientist ,artist or professor is also 2 engage in conflict against repressive regimes of knowledge. Any kind of limited knowledge is a form of bondage. Albert Einstein advanced the boundaries of scientific knowledge. James Joyce did the same in the field of literature. He flouted rules of writing as he saw them as restrictions on creativity. Picasso & M F Husain, for example, explored realms beyond accepted rules of visual art. Mother Teresa redefined the concept of caring, Every 1 of them faced criticism & controversy, yet they remained convinced of the nature of their work and the methods they used 2 fulfill their vision. They remained engaged.
One can only conclude from this that the people we admire & even those we worship have all rejected the existing as being adequate and have chosen 2 engage in conflict 2 extend the existing. They have redefined the purpose of our life.
The purpose of our life is not 2 live in passive acceptance but 2 engage with conflict in order 2 b creative.    Creativity is the purpose of life. The purpose is 2 advance an individual soul & the collective Consciousness. The only word of caution here is that we must first settle ourselves spiritually so that we know whether a conflict is justified or not.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Transcend All Identities

If we human beings are mortal, then how is it that we desire eternal existence, knowledge and bliss? Human beings devoid of the attributes of existence, knowledge and bliss,logically cannot express the desire to live in the world eternally , to attain complete knowledge and complete bliss.
Beyond the existence of the physical body, u can directly feel the existence of mind, intellect and perverted ego. As we are of a finite nature, our mental and intellectual capacities are also finite. The existence of perverted ego can be perceived by the presence of specific thoughts such as thinking that one belongs to this or that country; this or that religion; that one speaks this or that language or belongs to this or that group - whatever it may be. It may be questioned whether after death of the physical body there is the existence of any such nationalist, religious or language groups- in fact, it may be pertinent 2 ask whether everything is destroyed or if there is the existence of a subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence and perverted ego or even beyond that, the existence of an eternal entity.
Human birth is best due to endowment of the special quality of power of discrimination between good and bad and eternal and non-eternal. Physical bodies are in the grip of numerous births and deaths, ad are subject 2 many other drawbacks. This renders the physical body 2 being non-eternal. If this physical body is non-eternal then he body's sense organs must be non-eternal. Therefore, if there should be any eternal entity, it must exist beyond the comprehension of human material non-eternal sense organs.
In the Mahabharata,Arjuna was blessed with divine eyes, so that he may witness the vishwarupa of Krishna, a dazzling sight. Thousands were present at Kurukshetra when Krishna revealed His Virat form, yet Arjuna was the only one 2 see Him like that, why?
The supreme God is infinite; everything about his is infinite. He has created countless species 2 a plan. If one accepts that human beings can determine their own cause by means of material senses, mind or intellect, then that will be a mentally or intellectually concocted thing. That will not be Reality. If Reality is in fact reality, then He must always exist. What is the Truth? Why do we wish 2 be eternal? Why are we eager 2 learn and 2 experience bliss? We are a part of the supreme - so we are like the Supreme in some respects. He is Sacchidananda and so are we. Sat in Sanskrit means eternal life, chit is eternal knowledge and ananda is eternal bliss. Soul is Sacchidananda.
We were given this limited body 2 know our true identity. Our duty is not 2 hanker after temporary bliss, but 2 have eternal bliss. We  have 2 find ways 2 realize our true identity 2 become servants of Sacchidananda. Since we are part of the supreme Lord, it is our primary task 2 serve Him or to act in a way that pleases Him. Once we realize Him, we will also realize other eternal truths, and know that not only He, but His Associates, too, do not take birth, but descend.