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A BUD THAT IS HEALTHY WILL BLOSSOM

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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What is meant by being healthy? Healthy is being physically strong, mentally calm and steady, and emotionally soft inside. You are not healthy when you feel rough inside. You feel that you are not healthy or are sick, when you feel rough in the body. In the same way when the mind is stiff or the mind is in judgement, it is not in good health. When the emotions are rough, you are not emotionally healthy. Being healthy is that flow from the innermost to the outer, and visa-versa, from the outer to the inner.

Life has four characteristics: It exists, evolves, expresses and extinguishes. And for life to exist, evolve, express and extinguish, it depends on the five elements: earth, water, air, ether and fire. According to Ayurveda, life does not consist of rigid compartments. It is a harmonious flow. Even these five elements of which the whole universe is made up of are not tight compartments of defined objects. They flow into one another. 

Ayurveda is the study of life. Veda means knowledge, Ved to know and Ayur is life. The holistic approach of Ayurveda includes exercise, diet, breathing and meditation. 

How do you attain good health? First, by attending to the ether element, that is the mind element. If your mind is bogged with too many impressions and thoughts and it is draining you of your resistance power, then where it is preparing your body for some illness. If the mind is clear, calm, meditative and pleasant, the body’s resistance will increase and it will not allow an illness to come into it. The first remedy is calming down the mind – coming from the subtlest aspect of creation, the ether.

Next is the air element. Breathing, aromatherapy, etc, can be done for this. And then light or colour therapy. Before an illness manifests in the body, by energising our system with prana, life energy, and breath, you can prevent the illness before it starts. 

That is what yoga does. What does yoga mean? In the Yogasutras, Patanjali said that the purpose of yoga is stopping the sorrow before it arises. That is one of the most beautiful Sutras. In just one sentence he gives a formula. What is the purpose of this? To stop the sorrow before it arises, to burn the seed before it sprouts.

Next is the water element. Fasting and purifying the system with water, can bring a lot of balance in the system. And the final recourse, of course, are different herbs, medicinal herbs, medicines and surgery. All this comes in the final stage when everything else fails or when you neglect the other steps and the illness becomes inevitable. Our breath has a lot of secrets to offer us, because for every emotion in the mind, there is corresponding rhythm in the breath. And each rhythm affects certain parts of the body, physically. You only need to observe it and you can feel it. The great correlation between sensations, the level of body and moods of the mind is meditation. Attending to this and learning this, is meditation.

And then there is eating proper food. Proper food in the sense you eat only as much as is essential and that should be well-digested so that you don’t feel too heavy, even when you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning or come for meditation. The right amount of food—sweet, fresh and gently spiced.

What I would finally suggest is to take one week off every year for yourself. During that time, align yourself with nature. Wake up with the sunrise, eat proper food—just as much is necessary—do some exercises: Yoga and breathing exercises, a few minutes of singing, keeping silence and enjoying the creation. By aligning yourself with nature, your whole system gets recharged and you will feel vibrant and enthusiastic for a long time to come.

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Spiritually Speaking

CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE ULTIMATE SECURITY OF LIFE

Arun Malhotra

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On this earth whatever is done is done by consciousness. Unconsciously something is done, something else gets done. Consciousness is the centrality of life and being. Without this fundamental centrality, the earth would disintegrate. Man is also roped in the thread of consciousness. The embodiment of man is rendezvous of consciousness and matter passed through various stages of life. Man is an eternal chain of sequences set in motion by consciousness. Fuelled by the zest of billions of years, man is the epitome of rising consciousness. 

Consciousness is one same thread that immerses everything and everything immerses into it. Consciousness consumes everything to overwhelm everything and everybody. We are nothing but consciousness. But we are fast asleep as we are forgetful of our conscious being on which life orbits. Creativity is pure consciousness. Thus whatever happens on this earth is to be done consciously. That which is not done consciously has no real value. It is said that people initiate to do something and when it reaches the ground opposite gets done. If you are a good lawyer, you would live every bit of your client’s case. It is only then that you can construct your client’s case consciously. If you are reading a book, you won’t get a word of it if you are not consciously reading it. Giving 100% into any work becomes creativity, seers call it love. When you are fully conscious of what you do, creativity is birthed.  

Once you have learned something like driving, a language or a skill, doing the same thing, again and again, breeds artificiality. People get bored by doing one work so they switch jobs, businesses, spouses, cars, and brands. Boredom and monotony is bred. Creativity is always new and doesn’t let monotony breed. Once you have learnt and mastered a skill, you are skilful. Skill kills consciousness. To be skilful always, you need to use the skill as if you are doing something new. People keep doing things all life unconsciously. Without being conscious they live in thinking. Thinking breeds when you are fully unconscious. So your mind takes over and becomes the driver. You are the driver but when your mind takes control it becomes the driver. You become a robot, your life becomes robotic. You keep thinking in terms of not having enough. Because the mind is the default mode of you. So it needs you. It can only think. Thinking is not being in the being. Thinking begins when you are absent. Being absent, man thinks that man lives. Man thinks that he is living life by waking up daily and going to work and sleeping in the night. And then he laments it a life full of monotony. It brings him back to the trap of artificiality of mind. In reality, the mind lives in thinking. The mind makes us live in thoughts. Our life becomes thoughts. We become thought of our mind. We become the thinker of our thought of life. That makes us not being in the life. We are the mere thinker of our thought of life. 

When we are in life, we be in life. In being in life, we exist in life and life exists in us. When we consciously sit at the seat of our existence then we become who we are. When I am not, my embodiment, my language, and my mind disintegrate and disappear. That’s an open secret laid open on our tables. But the mind is a tool built to avoid reality—the truth.

When God immerses into you as consciousness. Existence dawns upon you when your being become wakeful of that existence and that which exists in you as you is the one. When this marriage happens existence immerses in you. 

When we do something creative we create something new. That newness is consciousness. That newness is love. Poets write poetry. Skilful poets don’t fathom the depths of oceans but play with words. Those who do not know the skill of writing but move into the heart of existence fathom the depths of thousands of oceans—the depths of the truth.

Skill is monotony. Monotony happens in the mind. Logic brings monotony that is part of the time. Logic is a set-up of mind. It lives in time and does all that it could do in time. To define logic, we say it is the opposite of illogic or insane or irrational. Both logic and illogic are two degrees of the same thing. That which cannot be written by logic if that is said to have somehow articulated within boundaries of language to express that which cannot be expressed in words and logic, then, it inspires those who are on the journey towards that which cannot be expressed by words or logic. That which is beyond words, logic and time.

Consciousness is the key to awakening. You can step on the journey of language to attain what cannot be said in the end—to be one with existence. To reach from the side of time you need to have pure intelligence of Buddha. Awakening that happened to Buddha, the awakened one, happened by walking towards the unknown through logic, language and science. 

When a child is born. He is born from the side of existence into this world. You saw small children playing with the ball. They throw far and far and play. For them, it is not the ball. The ball is the ball of whole existence in hands that they can throw far. Throwing is an expression of the unknown existence that exists in them. Existence teems in them. Existence exuberates in them.      

It begins with a child living in the joy of his being, that is, like being in the joy of existence when he is one with the existence. In that joy of being one is nothing but simply existence. Things of the world do not matter to him. But society breeds a mind that belittles his being. Society tells him you are born to be something in society. He forgets himself. The host in him on which the society and senses inhabit fades away. A societal alternative ‘mind’ takes shape. 

All this happens because we don’t believe our consciousness. We don’t believe us. We don’t believe what we are. Therefore our mind thinks of the future. What the future will be? What will happen and we make a provision that what will happen tomorrow if something wrong happens. That is our weakness that is our dilemma. We want to repeat history. Because there is security. We are running after security. Our mind is insecure.  Remember, our consciousness is the supreme security and all else is insecure. But our mind keeps thinking in terms of security. And the mind cannot create security. Consciousness is the ultimate security of life. We are born with it. Thus always be wakeful of your consciousness or be conscious of your wakefulness.

The author is a spiritual teacher.

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Spiritually Speaking

THE GLORIOUS STORY OF TULASI DEVI

If someone sows a Tulasi plant somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna. And when the Tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of the love of Godhead.

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Srimati Tulasi devi is one of the most exalted devotees of Sri Krishna. All scriptures stress on the importance of getting the mercy of Tulasi devi if one has to make progress in devotion. In the  Skanda Purana, it is said: ‘Tulasi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, touching, remembering, praying to, bowing before, hearing about or sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the Tulasi tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world.’

VRINDA DEVI 

Above this material world is the eternal spiritual world comprising millions of Vaikuntha planets. The topmost planet in Vaikuntha is Goloka presided by Sri Krishna in His original form. Here resides Vrinda devi, an intimate associate of and an expansion of Srimati Radharani. Her partial expansion is Tulasi devi in the Vaikuntha planets and they are all considered non-different from her.

Vrinda devi is the organiser of all the transcendental pastimes between Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In Goloka, everything is animate and for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. Vrinda devi is assisted by many confidential associates (which include two parrots) and with their help, she ensures everything is pleasing to Sri Krishna. MANIFEST VRINDAVANA 

Five thousand years ago when Sri Krishna descended on Earth, Vrinda devi created the proper environment for His pastimes in Vrindavana. Millions of years before the descent of Sri Krishna, Vrinda devi had appeared as the daughter of Emperor Kedera. Then she performed penances for sixty thousand years. Pleased by her penances, Lord Vishnu gave the benediction that any austerities performed in Vrindavana would be very potent. Thus Vrinda devi sanctified the place and it got the name Vrindavana. Later Vrinda devi once again descended as Tulasi devi, daughter of King Kushadvaja, to perform penances and attain perfection here.

PASTIMES OF RADHA-KRISHNA 

Vrindavana is under the control of Vrinda devi. Without her mercy, it is not possible to approach the confidential pastimes of Radha-Krishna. Even being allowed into Vrindavana dhama indicates that one has received some mercy from Vrinda devi. In Krishna lila, she appeared as a young gopi friend of Srimati Radharani. Under the instructions of Purnamasya (Yogamaya), she would arrange a secret meeting between Krishna and Radha. She would make all the material arrangements for Radha Krishna. Thus she carried on her eternal service in Goloka Vrindavana in the earthly Vrindavana. Once Srimati Radharani was so pleased by the service of Vrinda devi that with the help of the other gopis she arranged a magnificent throne and had Krishna and Vrinda devi sit on it. Lalita sakhi, acting as the priest, recited the mantras and performed the marriage ceremony of Krishna and Vrinda devi. Thus by the mercy of Srimati Radharani, Vrinda devi got Krishna. In another pastime, Vrinda devi offered all the forests of Vrindavana to Srimati Radharani. Thus Radharani is also known as Vrindavaneshwari.

TULASI DEVI BECOMES A PLANT 

Pastimes involving pure devotees are only for the benefit of conditioned souls in the material world. This pastime, given in the Padma purana and in the Brahma-vaivarta purana  involving Tulasi devi reveals this clearly. Once Tulasi devi descended as the daughter of King Kushadvaja. She was married to Jalhandara. Samudra deva, the demigod controlling the nether regions, had Lakshmi devi as a daughter (since she appeared from him at the time of the churning of the ocean) and Jalandara (one who is born from water). Jalandara was married to Tulasi devi and drew strength from her purity and chastity. So firm was her chastity that even Lord Shiva could not defeat Jalandara in battle and all the demigods went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu went to Tulasi devi assuming the form of her husband. When Tulasi devi greeted Him, thinking Him to be her husband, her chastity was momentarily broken. Taking advantage of this, the demigods killed Jalandara. When Tulasi devi understood what happened, Lord Vishnu revealed His original form. An enraged Tulasi devi cursed Lord Vishnu for His stone-hearted behaviour to become a stone. Lord Vishnu accepted this curse and promised to appear as the Saligrama shila in the Gandika river (now in Nepal). He also gave Tulsai devi the benediction that she will eternally reside with Him as His consort in Vaikuntha. He said she will assume the form of a plant which will be most auspicious for anyone performing devotional service. Thus devotees never offer anything to Krishna without a Tulasi leaf. He always adorns Himself with a Tulasi garland. Laksmi, is sometimes envious of the Tulasi leaves which are placed at the lotus feet of the Lord, for they remain fixed there and do not move, whereas Laksmi, although stationed by the chest of the Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favour. Laksmi sometimes has to go to satisfy her devotees but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord appreciates the service of the Tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.

TULASI AS THE SOURCE OF BHAKTI 

The scriptures are full of pastimes that reveal the potency of Tulasi in developing devotion for the Lord. The Srimad Bhagavatam  talks about this pastime with the four Kumaras, the sons of Lord Brahma, who were very much attached to the impersonal aspect of Godhead. ‘When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves and saffron from the lotus feet of the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead entered through the nostrils into the hearts of those sages (the Kumaras), they experienced a change in body and mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding.’ Thus by simply smelling the fragrance of the Tulasi leaves the four Kumaras became pure devotees of the Lord.

In Caitanya lila, Srila Advaita Acarya was disturbed to see the growth of irreligiosity. Thus He decided to call for Lord Krishna to descend by worshipping the Lord with tulasi leaves and the water of the Ganges. When Sri Krishna was pleased by this devotion He descended as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Haridasa Thakura, a great devotee of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, purified a prostitute who had come with the intention of seducing him with instructions to chant the holy name and worship Tulasi. She became so elevated by this service that even great Vaishnavas would come to get her mercy.

GLORIES OF TULASI DEVI 

Quoting from the Gautamiya-tantra, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa states:

tulasi-dala-matrena

jalasya culukena va

vikrinite svam atmanam

bhaktebhyo bhakta-vatsalah

‘Sri Krishna, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers merely a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.’ In the Nectar of Devotion, service to Tulasi is glorified as one of the items of devotional service. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.19), it is said that although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakesara, bakula, lily, and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by tulasi, for tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with tulasi leaves.

In the Skanda Purana, there is a statement praising the Tulasi tree: ‘Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities.’ Simply by seeing or touching this tree, one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraja. If someone sows a tulasi plant somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna. And when the tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of the love of Godhead. Gaurangasundar Das is Iskcon, Inc Communication Director and SM IT head.

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Spiritually Speaking

A PURE MIND CAN SERVE WITHOUT LIMITS

B.K. Atam Prakash

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Political leaders, religious figures, and scientists are among those generally regarded as important people. There is another class of persons who are respected, and revered, by even these VIPs. It is those with a pure heart and an elevated mind.

These are the souls people turn to for spiritual guidance, moral counsel and comfort during difficult times. Honesty, peace, and generosity are their hallmarks. Their love for service makes even difficult tasks easy for them, and with their inspired efforts they achieve what others see as impossible.

Because of their qualities, these souls, who have trust in their convictions, are able to do what more hard-headed types cannot. For this reason, on the spiritual path too they are able to come close to the Divine. This is why God is sometimes called the Innocent Lord – the innocent find Him more easily than the intellectuals given to reasoning and analysis.

Since their intellect is not bound by the deceptions of ego or limitations born of selfishness, these individuals are able to think, perceive, and accept what others cannot. This enables them to make the leap of faith and experience the rewards thereof – the stability, peace, and joy that come from feeling a closeness to God and knowing that one has His support.

They do not keep their attainments to themselves, but share their spiritual wisdom, virtues and strength by offering others help, encouragement, and inspiration with their conduct.

It is not for them to judge, criticise, or reject someone who has made a mistake. No one is too distant or too little for them. With discernment and empathy, they offer support wherever it is needed. Just as the VIPs of the world make it a point to send their good wishes if they are unable to attend a programme, these special souls extend their goodwill and pure feelings to even those who are far away. Their cooperation is not conditional on receiving acknowledgement or praise. They are just content to subtly serve in any way they can, and reap the fruit of that in the form of immense satisfaction and joy at having done something good.

This is what is called unlimited service – spreading waves of happiness, zeal and enthusiasm, offering hope to the hopeless, and giving courage and strength to those who live with fear and worry.

Service is a labour of spiritual love for these souls, and it brings them amazing returns, turning strangers into friends, critics into admirers, and life into a celebration of goodness.

B.K. Atam Prakash is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

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SPIRITUAL MEDICINE

Dadi Janki

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The mind has an influence on the body, and vice versa. The two work together; neither side can be ignored. Taking medicine is not wrong in principle; what is wrong is to attend only to the body and ignore the mind. If there is a need for medicine, then take it, but be careful that you do not let it be a support and become dependent.

When the mind is kept free from tension and worry, sleep comes naturally. Or, even if you cannot sleep, there will be such peace and calm that you will still feel refreshed.

Learn to be your own spiritual doctor. Whatever the nature of an illness – heart problems, cancer, or simply intense pain – it is through the power of remembrance of God that illness can be overcome. This will also protect you from the negative things your friends and even doctors might say about your health. Sometimes, even just hearing about another’s illness makes people worry about getting it themselves.

If there is something wrong with you, worrying about it and spreading your worry to others will only aggravate your ill health. So even if the body is sick, learn how to let the mind simply remain in the remembrance of God. If there is even a trace of worry, no cure can be effective.

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Spiritually Speaking

THE HEALING POWER OF SILENCE

Anthony Strano

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The starting point of the healing power of silence is our thoughts. Thoughts are extremely powerful; indeed, since we speak and act according to the quality of our thoughts, they create the world around us. Generally, each of us has about thirty-six thousand thoughts per day. Some days there are many more — as the day gets more and more tense, there might be thirty-six thousand thoughts an hour. How fast the mind works! It is like a machine. But we have forgotten that we are in charge of this machine; we can determine the speed with which it moves and the direction it takes.

Yes, we can decide in which direction the thoughts go, and we can determine the quality and speed of those thoughts too. Mostly, we are not aware of this and so the machine is taken over by external influences. We see or hear something or someone, and we react, forgetting that we have independence and choice. No matter what is going on outside, we can choose our thoughts, and the more we understand and practise this understanding, the easier it becomes to remain calm, understand what we need to do, and act accordingly.

This thought-control process begins with silence. When you practise silence, you can transform yourself from the ‘headless chicken’ constantly reacting inappropriately, to someone who is master of his or her thoughts. This does not take months to achieve — it can happen in the space of a day! When you master your thoughts, you can start to create beautiful, powerful and pure thoughts, and you can also create the space between those thoughts that allows you to tap into the healing power of your own inner silence.

The key to this is to ‘quarantine’ your mind with silence for twenty minutes every morning and evening. Each morning, before beginning your day, stop and become silent – fill your mind with quietness and peace, with a loving attitude. During the day this quietness and peace will transform into clarity and attentiveness. As you travel through your day, watch how your mind loses this quietness and becomes full of haste, reacting with twists, jumps and spins at any moment in any place and with anyone. When you notice your mind rebelling in this way, allow yourself to stop and replenish your quietness and peace. Do this as often as you wish or need. It may take just a second of silence for you to regain your equanimity, or it may take a minute or two. By returning to quietness and remembering your original peace, you will quickly regain your clarity and attentiveness.

The founder of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Prajapita Brahma, found this topic of the inner argument between the self and the mind absorbing. He kept a journal recounting his progress, and it reads like a manifesto for all of us setting out to live quieter and less stressed lives. One of the extracts reads…

“So, Mind, your revolutionary days are over. And, furthermore, every hour, for just a minute, I’ll check on what you are doing and where you are going”

Prajapita Brahma

The late Anthony Strano was an author and Rajyoga teacher with the Brahma Kumaris.

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How powerful thoughts lead to powerful meditation

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Who is it that is sitting in meditation? It is the soul, within the body. The soul is the living energy of light. In meditation, the soul, through thoughts, connects with the Supreme Soul, the source of all spiritual power. The Supreme Soul is incorporeal, the ocean of knowledge, purity and peace. The act of sitting in meditation in this way gives the soul power, and transformation takes place so that words, thoughts and actions become elevated.

First, the soul has to have a clear intellect. The mind needs to be pure. A clear intellect with a clear and clean mind creates stillness for a clear reflection of God’s signals. It is like the example of still water creating a perfect reflection of the moon, the sun, or nature — to the extent the water is still and clear, accordingly is the quality of the reflection. In the same way, our mind needs to be clean, still, with focused connection, without disturbance in between.

In order to make my mind clean, I have to work with thoughts. I have to clear negative thoughts and keep my mind occupied with pure thoughts. My focus should be on virtuous and powerful thoughts.

Some might experience that there is a lot of rubbish in the mind, and during meditation, many waste thoughts and weak thoughts come up. So, the intellect focuses on how much the mind is full of rubbish. Let us say there is a big garbage drum filled with rubbish. If you know that at the bottom of this drum there is a diamond, your focus will be, “I need to get to the diamond.” So, even though the rubbish is there, what are you seeing with your intellect? Are you seeing the rubbish or are you seeing the diamond? The focus has to be on pure and powerful thoughts. I focus on what is pure and powerful.

To receive power from God, The Supreme Soul, and begin to remove the rubbish of the soul and experience cleanliness and purity is to invoke God’s energy, with the determined thought that God is the purifier, the remover of sorrow, and the sun of knowledge. With this thought, you naturally begin to invoke the positive, powerful energy of God. Do not focus on the waste thoughts that come. For example, when we place a container under a running tap for cleaning, the rubbish stuck inside, and even around it, begins to come up. So, do not pay attention to any of the negative thoughts coming up, and continue with your effort.

It is not only in my thoughts that I am a pure and peaceful soul. With determination, I have to practise with a constant flow of positive energy, so that it will start working more and more on both, my thoughts and my words. These pure, powerful and positive thoughts will be expressed through my vision for myself as well as for others. It is not that I am the only pure and peaceful soul; whoever I speak to is also a pure and peaceful soul.

To make a thought a reality, you have to put it into action. It is not that we become fed up with someone and then say, “Although they have this personality, I will still have very pure and powerful thoughts for them.” Can it work that way? When there is any kind of mixture, and rubbish is coming out while we are trying to build a flow of good wishes for others, our thoughts will not be effective. This is why there is no power in the words when you say, ‘I have forgiven the person, and yet continue to feel sorrow’.

When my mind is engaged in my own weaknesses, my own situations, my own problems, there is interference, and I cannot, then, connect with God. It is the same as when clouds form: even though the sun is shining, I cannot catch the rays. So, when I begin the practice of connecting with the Supreme Soul, God, then my mind and intellect become cleaner and clearer and all my thoughts become powerful so that my life begins to change.

B.K. Sudesh is director of the Brahma Kumaris’ services in Europe.

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