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Ajmer Sharif: Abode of Peace

The 810th annual Urs Mubarak is going to be held from 2 February to 11 February 2022.

Haji Syed Salman Chishty

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Love towards All, Malice towards None

Hz. Khawaja Gharib Nawaz(ra), the Patron Sufi of Indian Sub-Continent and Beyond

Tera dayar hai Darussalam ya Khawaja..

Tajalliya hai nai Subho Sham ya Khawaja..

Na fikr mein Na gham e jam Tere Masto ko..

Teri ek Nigah se Chalta hai Kaam ya Khawaja….

Your Abode is the Abode of Peace O Khawaja

Every moment day and night there is Divine Light O Khawaja

There are no worries nor any sorrow upon

those who are content with your Love O Khawaja

My Life goes on just by your Loving glance O Khawaja

The 8th of March 2022 (6th Rajab) this year marks the 810th (Hijri) annual Sheb e Urs or Passing on to the Divine realm anniversary of the greatest and most humble mystic saint of the Indian sub-continent —Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty(ra) who is in a unique way known as Khawaja Gharib Nawaz—KGN among the masses across South Asia. Devotees and pilgrims from all over the world converge at the Dargah Sharif in Ajmer Sharif to pay their respect.

Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty is one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Islamic Sufi mysticism. He was born in Sejistan, around 533 H / 1138 A.D to Khawaja Ghayasuddin and Syeda Bibi Ummalwara (alias Bibi Mahe-Noor) who were the direct descendents of Hazrat Ali through his sons Hazrat Imam Hassan and Hazrat Imam Hussian. As a young child Khwaja Gharib Nawaz was drawn to Sufi mystics and began visiting seminaries in Samarkand and Bukhara which were then important centers of Islamic learning. On the way to Iraq at Harvan, he met Khawaja Uthman e Harooni and joined the circle of his disciples.

The Chishty Sufi order derives its name from a Chist-e-Sharif, a village near Herat in Afghanistan where the founder of the order Hazrat Abu Ishq Shami of Syria had settled.

Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty brought the Chishty Sufi order in to Indian Sub Continent at the close of the 11th century A.D. and established its center in Ajmer Sharif from where it spread all over South Asia. Khawaja Gharib Nawaz brought the message of universal Love, Peace and Brotherhood. He chose the way of non-compulsion in the true spirit of the Holy Quran, which says, “Let there be no compulsion in religion. A Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah hearth and Knoweth all things.” (Quran 2:256)

Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty is a shining luminary from the family of Holy Prophet Muhammed(saw). The light of his personality has dispelled darkness, and has illuminated thousands of hearts throughout the world. He is not only respected, esteemed, honored, implored, but in fact is the focus of attention, and a center of hope to myriads of people, belonging as they do to different castes, creed, religions and nationalities.

In Khwaja’s presence commoners and the kings stood in line to receive his blessings.

The Mogul emperors like Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan presented themselves in Khawaja Saheb’s Court. Sufi Princess Jahan-Ara cleansed and swept the blessed tomb with her eyelids. Saints would come here and dedicate their lives in his service and devotion. Today the Dargah Sharif at Ajmer continues to draw people irrespective of caste and creed and nobody goes back deprived of blessings.

“He indeed is a true devotee blessed with the love of God who is gifted with the following three tributes –

River like Generosity

Sun like Bounty

Earth like Hospitality”

—Khawaja Gharib Nawaz

The spiritual descendants of Gharib Nawaz are to be found in the Qutbis, Faridis, the Nizamis the Sabiris and other Sufi orders which owe existence to the patron Sufi Master and remain the torch-bearers of his message of universal love.

Chishty Sufism is both an experience and a memory. It is the experience of remembering God so intensely that the heart burnt, the soul is destroyed. It is also the memory of those who remembered God, those who were devoted to discipline and prayer but above all, to remember, wheather they recited the Divine name (Zikr) or evoked His presence through music (Sama).

“The heart of a lover (the true devotee of God) constantly burns with the fire of Love so much so that whatever (passion) intrudes upon its sanctity is burnt to ashes” —Khawaja Gharib Nawaz.

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Sheb e Urs is celebrated every year in the first week of Rajab al Muabrak, on new moon sighting of Rajab, the seventh month of the Islamic calendar, drums are beaten to herald the commencement of the annual ceremony. The permanent Shahi Chauki (troupe) of qawwals Sufi musicians arrive, and after Maghrib (sunset prayers) sit in front of the Shrine and sing the following verses:

“Bartui mehfil-shahana-mubarak-bashad

Saqia-badao-paimana mubarak bashad”

(Felicitation to thee for this blessed and majestic assembly; salutation, ‘Oh Saqi for your bountiful goblet of sacred wine).

And,

“Ilahi ta-abd-astana-i-yar-rahe

Yeh-asra-hai-gharibon-ka-barqarar rahe”

(Oh God, may this Shrine of the beloved exist till the last day, may this refuge of the poor remain forever!)

The word Sheb e Urs has been derived from “Aros” which means “ultimate meeting of an individual with God” it is said that Khawaja Gharib Nawaz spent last six days of his life in Seclusion in a cell and the 6th day of Rajab which known as annual Chatti Sharif, his noble soul left the corporeal body.

Although Sheb e Urs held for the first six days of Rajab month. Yet the 6th day (Chatti Sharif) is regarded to be the most special and auspicious. It is celebrated on the 6th Rajab between 10:00 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Inside the Mazar Sharif, Shijra Khawani is read by respected Khuddam e Khawaja Gharib Nawaz popularly known as Gaddi Nashins Khadims then Fariyad (Prayers) start for people present at the Dargah Sharif and for the Country and its people for the peace and prosperity and also those who are not present but have sent Nazar-o-Niyaz to the Khadims to mark their presence for their welfare and for the promotion of brotherhood amongst them. The Gaddi Nashin Khadims tie small turbans on each other’s head and present Nazar (offerings in cash) to the ones who tie the turbans among themselves. Just before the Qul Ceremony where Quranic Verses are recited (conclusion of 6th Rajab Chhati Sharif)— Bhadawa is sung at the main entrance of the Shrine by Shahi Qawwals which literally means a poem or verses in praise of Allah, His Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) or famous Sufis (Auliyas). Bhadawa is the only recitation which is accompanied by talis (clapping) only, and no other instrument is played. It was composed by Khawaja Behlol Chishty, one of the ancestors of Gaddi Nashin Khadims. After its recitation, the ceremony of the Qul comes to an end and Fatiha is recited. The ceremony is marked closed by firing a cannon at 1:30 P.M. in afternoon.

After this Gaddi Nashins Khadim Hazrets distribute Tabarruk (sacred gifts) amongst the people present and post them for those who are not present, but have sent Nazar-o-Niyaz to the Khadims Sahibans. The Mazar Sharif is washed by rose water by elders Gaddi Nashin Khadims at night for six days from 1st Rajab to 6th Rajab during Sheb e Urs period. On 9th Rajab at 9:00 A.M. the Mazar Sharif is washed with rose water by Gaddi Nashin Khadims. Finally, the Sheb e Urs Mubarak is marked closed.

Undoubtedly, the Gaddi Nashin Khadims, who have been attached to the Shrine since its inception, played a key role in the smooth functioning and in keeping strict discipline in the performances of these rituals and ceremonies. As a result, sometimes they invite the ill-will and wrath of some unaccustomed pilgrims and other newly appointed officials who are not aware of proper Adab’s and customs of the Dargah Sharif.

But their genuine concern and enforcement of established customs and rituals, showing strict adherence to the humanitarian approach of the Sufi Saint himself, was always upheld in high esteem by the respected pilgrims and authorities all the time.

The remarkable system of Baridari/Kalidbardari (Key Holders) at Dargah Ajmer Sharif settled the issue that only Gaddi Nashins Khadims are the real custodians of the Mazar-e-Aqdas (Shrine’s sanctum sanctorum) as they perform all rituals, and do Khidmat, kept the keys of the Shrine, open and close the Mazar Sharif, receive pilgrims and guide them in performance of Ziyarat as their Vakil and thus have sole right to collect all Nazar offered by them.

It appears that the system of Haft Baridar is based on the Haft Chowki pattern of the Mughals, by which every important noble was given a day of the week to look after the place and patrol around it at night.

Certainly, it was due to the extra ordinary grassroots work of the ancestors of the hereditary Gaddi Nashin Khadims who carried the humanitarian mission of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz at his Sufi Shrine, vigorously, against all odds, that they are still attached to the Shrine and are held in high esteem by pilgrims, duly respected and offered Nazar o Niyaz(offering).

People all over the world respect the Gaddi Nashin Khadims because of their Nizbat to Huzoor Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. Whatever we eat & wear whatsoever privilege we enjoy are the spiritual gifts of our Aaqa (master) Huzoor Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.

‘Agar har-mui-tan gardad zubanam’

Adai shukr-i-o-ke-me-tavanam.”

If every hair of my body were given voice,

yet I won’t be able to express my thanks for my Khwaja

These ceremonies are attended by members of all creeds, communities without the distinction of rank, region or religion and thereby subscribe to the ideals of universal love that Khawaja Moinudeen Chishty had preached and practised in his life time. This creates a sense of unity in that thinking which tends to break social and religious barriers and paves the way for unique emotional as well as humanitarian integration.

Chishty principles of Love towards All is seen among the Muslims and non-Muslim South Asians who appreciate and also appropriate Chishty spiritual experience. Hazrat Baba Farid is highly respected by Sikh Traditions as by having incorporated the Punjabi verses in holy scripture, the sacred Guru Granth Sahib. Similarly, Hindus and Muslims both flock in great numbers to the blessed Shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty at his annual Urs festival.

The Chishtys were spiritual adepts with a flexible creative humanitarian mission. Initially the Chishty message was directed to South Asia but has now become a diverse global phenomenon upon which many feel free to draw, whether within the framework of traditional South Asian Islam or beyond that framework.

Chishty ethos will continue to resonate, whoever sings, whoever listens.

Besides being a great Sufi mystic, Khawaja Gharib Nawaz was an erudite scholar and poet. He left a collection of his poems in Persian. I leave the readers with a translation of a very beautiful verse which I often hear while walking through the blessed lanes of Ajmer Sharif…

Sare Hind mein Bas ek Awaz, Ya Gharib Nawaz, Ya Gharib Nawaz.

“The clouds of mercy have spread out ecstatically

For spring has arrived in the garden of Chisht .

Friends, get a ticket to Ajmer

For Khwajah’s festival has arrived.

The soul acquires peace in Ajmer

Life smiles in Ajmer…

A treasure of mercies lies in Ajmer.

Khawaja’s tale took place in Ajmer…

Why do you hesitate?

Pay heed to what I say

Once this opportunity slips away it will not return

Friends, get a ticket to Ajmer.”

Haji Syed Salman Chishty is Gaddi Nashin, Dargah Ajmer Sharif; Chairman, Chishty Foundation, Ajmer Sharif; a humble Gaddi Nashin Khadim of Hz. Khawaja Gharib Nawaz (ra), Ajmer Sharif. Haji Syed Salman Chishty, is born and raised among the family of Gaddi Nashin Khadim Chishty Sufi Community serving at Ajmer Dargah Sharif—who are the hereditary custodian of the 11th century Sufi Shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty (r.a). His family has been serving at the Dargah Ajmer Sharif from last 800 years as the Keys of the blessed Sufi Shrine have been passed on among their family from generation to generations. He is engaged in a research study on World Sufi Traditions and their impact on different Countries and their culture and traditions and vice versa. His study has enabled him to travel extensively and represent Ajmer Dargah Sharif globally. You can connect with the writer via email: salmanchishty@hotmail.com; Twitter handle: @sufimusafir

Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty brought the Chishty Sufi order to te Indian Subcontinent at the close of the 11 th century AD and established its centre in Ajmer Sharif from where it spread all over South Asia.

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Spiritually Speaking

Haridwar gets two new Swagat Dwars as tourists click selfies with the brand new murals

In July 2020 due to incessant rains, a major part of the boundary wall in Haridwar built, in 1935, came crashing. At present, walking along the sacred Har ki Pauri (translates to ‘footsteps of the Lord’) ghat is a visual delight. The two new Swagat Dwars depicting the origins of Mother Ganga through the lens of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions are bound to grab your attention.

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In July 2020 due to incessant rains, a major part of the boundary wall in Haridwar built, in 1935, came crashing. At present, walking along the sacred Har ki Pauri (translates to ‘footsteps of the Lord’) ghat is a visual delight. The two new Swagat Dwars depicting the origins of Mother Ganga through the lens of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions are bound to grab your attention.

Har ki Pauri after natural disaster.Har ki Pauri after natural calamity.Old photograph of Har ki Pauri walls.Present status of Har ki Pauri after beautification.Past photograph of site where L.E.D screen was installed.Photograph of Har ki Pauri wall after placing murals.

Current status of L.E.D. screen at Har ki Pauri

The Har ki Pauri Development Project was undertaken by Sony India and The Art of Living, with guidance and authorisation from Shri Ganga Sabha. And if you spot high-tech LED screens displaying the sacred aarti the credit goes to this project. The requirement had been felt to redevelop and rebuild the place for devotees and pilgrims to have an unforgettable experience in Haridwar. 

“The Art of Living’s tremendous experience in social projects and Sony’s technical expertise were both combined to create a team which could execute this project smoothly. Sony India and the Art of Living signed an agreement for this project wherein the responsibilities for execution and approvals were mutually defined,” said Sanjay Bhatnagar, director, CHRO, Sony India Pvt. Ltd. 

Since time immemorial the Ganges at Haridwar (gateway to the Lord) holds a special significance in the hearts of Indians and is deeply interwoven with the culture and philosophy of over 1.2 billion Hindus all over the world. Haridwar holds a central place in the Hindu cultural identity and is closely associated with the idea of Moksha. 

Haridwar is one of the four sites along with Ujjain, Nashik and Prayagraj, where drops of amrita, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilt over from a kumbha (pitcher) while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda during the samudra manthan, or churning of the ocean of milk. Brahma Kund, the spot where the nectar fell, is located at Har ki Pauri (literally “footsteps of the Lord”) and is one of the most sacred ghats of Haridwar.

Har ki Pauri, famously known for its Kumbha Mela, holds a record for the maximum number of devotees that congregate together at one place to take a holy dip in the Ganga.  

The project aimed at carrying out development and beautification works at the Har ki Pauri ghat for enhancing the experience of devotees and pilgrims visiting every year. It is keeping this centrality and sacredness of Haridwar in mind that the Har ki Pauri Development Project was conceived.

The project scope included:

Two Swagat Dwars, to mark the formal boundary of the ghat while providing the visitor entering the ghat with a first look worthy of the stature of the place and the rich cultural heritage.

LED Screen, to allow the thousands that gather each evening for the divine Ganga aarti a chance to see the proceedings from a distance and hence reduce the overcrowding just in front of the ghat

Murals of the origins of Ganga, depicting the importance of Ganga and Haridwar in both the Shaivite and Vaishavite traditions

A shoe stall, that is befitting the sacred ambience of the place. 

Renovation of Shri Ganga Sabha room and installation of BRAVIA OLED television and home theatre.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living and Bhatnagar dedicated the project to the public formally.

The project was officially inaugurated on 7th April 2022, in a ceremony on the Ghat and the various developments were handed over to Shri Ganga Sabha for them to continue to ensure comfort and seamless experience for the pilgrims and devotees. 

Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami expressed his gratitude for the project. Dhami said, “Sony India along with Shri Ganga Sabha and The Art of Living has completed a successful project despite the many Covid-19 restrictions. Today, we are honoured to support the Har-Ki-Pauri project by providing the best environment for all pilgrims and devotees.”

In the entire process from ideation to execution, the project traversed through many challenges including a two-year long pandemic, approvals and discussions while looking at an ambitious deadline. The LED Screen was installed at the site and the construction of shoe stalls, both Swagat Dwars, Murals and Shri Ganga Sabha office were completed as per the proposed timeline and were handed over to Shri Ganga Sabha on 10th April 2021 before the commencement of Kumbh Mela 2021. 

“A formal ceremony could not be carried out because of the pandemic restrictions at this time but the project was put to work so that the pilgrims coming for the Kumbh Mela could derive the benefits of this endeavour.”

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The art of flowering in love

You are bound to become the flower of love. Inside you dawns the calmest and deep serenity submerged in deep love. Go there embrace it.

Arun Malhotra

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Who are we and where are we? We are in a world that is around us. The world is made of love. This world is an extension of love. We are born into this world because of our love and we live in this world because of love. All this happens because of love. Trees love flowers. Flowers love flowering. Flowering emit fragrances and colours. Bees and bugs love flowers. Swirling rounds of birds around the garden. Seeds enter the womb of mother earth. Immortality of seed births again. This universe is in deep love with birds, animals, trees, water, air, blue sky, sun, moon, planets and you. 

Man is also born of love. Man is the seed of love. Man lives on love. Without love, man has no existence. Love only makes him live. Love lends a feeling of his being. A feeling of being loved and not being neglected. Man lives in love. This earth is in deep love. Man who has touched new dimensions and fathomed deep seas of love does not drown in them. 

This world is the fountain of love. Love springs out of this fountain of love. Love is what we call life. Life is the fountain of love. But man constantly works against love. He seizes to be a man to be a devil. 

In this world, suffering and conflicts are caused in the absence of love. I am that I am which I am in deep love with myself with my being and being is in deep love with existence. And in this existence, the being of existence is the part of the being who exists as part of the existence. This being-ness of the being is the love between the two. This love is the oneness. This earth depends on the oneness of all. Disparities and divisions abound and they make the world loving and beautiful. Because in the gap of divisions, beauty is manifested.

The man continues to deny his being. He wants to be someone he is not. There he begins to sow seeds of hatred against his being. There he breeds regression and aggression. You don’t want to be that which you are but you want to be that which you think you should be. There he seeds a deep division. There he harvests desires and hopes to ensure continuity of pleasure derived from accumulated memories.  

Memories that you have accumulated in the mind. You are the whole book of mankind’s history. You look at your life from rear glass vision i.e. memories to drive forward the motor car of your life. You become a bad driver. In the artificiality of the human mind, the whole history of mankind is reflected. Man’s mind is the accumulated history of mankind. If the story of mankind is to be read one can read it word by word through one’s mind. It is embedded there. You are the book of the history of mankind. All your senses are a reproduction of the history of mankind. 

But love is a new direction. It has its direction. It does not come from the memories. It comes from the newness of your being. Any direction will land you into blindness. Love lends eyes to see. Your pleasures lend you to the direction of wars. Love lends you life. Therefore, love is so important. Love ends the hatred, war, miseries and conflicts. Love is directionless.

Loneliness or despair is bred in absence of love. You may be lost in the world. You may go after money, fame or power. But you are lost. Love brings you home.

You are bound to breed conflict. Because you are observing from behind the parameter of time. Chronological time and psychological time are like glancing through your present life from the chapters of history embedded in your mind. And projecting chapters of memories into the future of life. Destroying the present for a desire of an oasis in the desert of life to cash in the pleasures of memories.

To understand love remember that you have a state of your mind which has hatred, jealousy, fear and war that are synonyms of love. Mind is divided by history, cultures, ethnicities, religions, languages etc. Therefore, your love becomes religion, god, country, nationality, race, and ethnicity. Quite shamelessly, wars are also fought in the name of love. 

When melancholy is associated with love it becomes self-pity. Self-pity is the person begging for love. Therefore you think that you love but you love your thought. You have a concern about yourself that you dub love.

Humanity is not prepared to look at life face to face. What is humanity? Humanity is the perception of the mind. Humanity is not ready to perceive the mind’s avoidance of reality. Avoiding reality is prolonging the sense of staring at reality face to face. Your mind breeds fears. Fears of insecurity, loneliness and being hurt. But in love, fears, insecurities, and loneliness disappear.

When you are face to face with the reality that you are, you will find yourself looking at yourself. As if the whole existence is looking at you and as if you are the existence and the existence is looking at you. That deep love will awaken your life and will flower your life to make you the flame of life.

The flame of love will be lit when you become the flower of love. You are the loving flower in the flowerbed of existence and you are to flower into the flowering of yourself into attaining the flowering of your being. You are already that which is flowered in you.  

Your being is the ultimate source of love and joy. Your being is the fountain of love. Your being is a source of love that does not deplete. Hatred, aggression, and violence have covered up the source which is buried underneath them. That source of love is the source of life. Love is life. Rumi says love is light. Love is the ultimate treasure that you have that will give you happiness and joy worth more than all wealth and fame of the world. 

What you love hurts you when you make love a possession. You make your beloved into a slave and commodity when you call him or her yours. He or she is not yours. Beloved is an independent source of love. What a beautiful thing when two independent sources of love come together and between them, something mystical happens. We denote that by the word love. In this mystical event, the two perish and a mystical union is born. God takes over. God loves you. In front of your eyes, God is already there. God is touching your whole body and you are in it already. This existence is loving you every moment. But you keep denying it by bringing up your hatred and violence by desiring. Love is the canvas on which hatred, violence, aggression and suffering happen by desiring.

Understand the sutra, when you will love the love then you become the love. You will not be there. The two cannot pass through the narrow alley of love. Two have to become one. You have to go to the ocean of love to drown in the ocean of love to be able to love and be afloat.

That which is love is the ultimate mystery and a driving force in this universe. Buddha’s compassion is love. By being with the beloved by sitting by his or her side you bring the God by your side that’s the beginning of love. Jesus says Love is God. Jesus is flowered out of love. Buddha is flowered out of love. Mahavira is flowered out of love. Krishna is flowered out of love. You are bound to become the flower of love. Inside you dawns the calmest and deep serenity submerged in deep love. Go there embrace it.

The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be reached at arunavlokitta@gmail.com

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ACCEPTANCE IS BETTER THAN TOLERANCE

B.K. Geeta

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Tolerance is defined as the ability or willingness to allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of something that one dislikes or disagrees with, without interfering or being judgmental.

It implies the exercise of patient self-control, restraint and endurance. It is considered one of the marks of a civilized society where people can express varying opinions and practise different beliefs without fear of discrimination, violence or persecution.

But when we tolerate something, there is a subtle undercurrent of resistance or rejection, mixed with a feeling of dislike. We feel under pressure because we are having to do something we do not really like but feel compelled to do in order to conform to social norms, live up to our behavioural or moral standards, or be politically correct.

Because of this we do not feel at ease when we have to tolerate a situation or a person’s behaviour, and wish that they would end or go away.

In such a situation, our state of mind is not positive. We make a show of tolerance but are unhappy inside, and our feelings are negative. Consequently, such tolerance does not foster harmonious relationships, or provide the best solution to difficult situations.

If a person has to tolerate something for long and feels that there is no escape from such a fate, or thinks that others do not understand what they are going through, they are likely to become angry or resentful. They may even turn aggressive and refuse to put up with the situation anymore. In either case they are not going to be happy.

Some resignedly tell themselves that they are doomed to tolerate someone or something all their life. Others turn to dark humour and try to laugh away the blues. None of these attitudes will bring lasting peace or joy.

Faced with anything that we do not like or approve of, it is much better to practice acceptance. When we accept a person or situation, we are at peace with them and they do not disturb our mind.

But to be able to accept something that is not to our liking we need to have some understanding of why it is that way.

It is easy to get angry with someone who is habitually rude or careless, but if I talk to the person to get to know them better, and find out that they are that way because of their present or past circumstances, or because no one has ever pointed out their faults to them, I will find it easier to accept them.

I also need to understand that almost everyone faces challenges in life, goes through tough times, and we all have our faults. When I focus on others’ weaknesses, I may lose sight of my own; while I may not have the same faults as others, I might have other defects that people around me have to put up with.

Acceptance does not mean acquiescing to something wrong, but understanding why it is happening, and not getting upset by it, even as we take steps to protect ourselves from harm, or to remedy the situation if we can.

Acceptance is also necessary if we want to help others. If I just tolerate someone, it will show in my behaviour and language, and the other person will sense the subtle vibrations of rejection or dislike emanating from me. But when I accept them, it puts them at ease and brings them closer to me, enabling a frank yet friendly exchange of views. Friendly advice is more likely to help others than a critical comment or a stern lecture.

Thus, a little introspection, compassion, broad-mindedness and common sense can help me live in peace with different and difficult people and circumstances and even change things for the better.

B.K. Geeta is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan.

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OUR THOUGHTS CREATE OUR ENVIRONMENT

Chirya Yvonne Risely

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We now realise how the quality and power of our thoughts impact us at every moment and create our world. Thought affects not only our health and every cell of our body, but also animals, plants, trees, the environment and atmosphere. For example, research for several years on yogic farming in India is proving that when seeds and seedlings are planted with peaceful and loving thoughts, and nourished with meditation, the quality continues to improve and the harvest yield increases.

The amazing discovery by Japanese professor, Dr. Masaru Emoto, opened this deeper understanding of the power of thoughts and words. One of his books “The Miracle of Water”, describes his experiments. Emoto visibly proved that ‘our thoughts create the quality of our world.’ His photographs show how water forms crystals, either beautiful or ugly, according to whatever positive or negative words and thoughts they have been exposed to. Positive thoughts that are life-affirming, such as love, appreciation and hope, created beautifully-shaped snowflake crystals. Negative thoughts, anger or words such as hate and hopelessness formed ugly, disfigured-looking forms. Since our bodies are 70 per cent water, imagine what the water crystals in our bodies would look like when exposed to negative thoughts and words instead of positive ones.

However, mankind’s mental pollution and its effect on the physical world are increasing every year and place us all at risk, rich and poor alike. As the quality of our thoughts continues to deteriorate, just as the rust accumulated on iron can destroy it, our own mindset can destroy us and the planet. However, to stop fretting about things beyond our immediate control, we need to pause, unplug our mind from everything and everyone for a few minutes. Slow down. Allocate time each day for spaces of stillness and meditation. Check within. Quieten the mind and then change the quality of our thoughts. Nurturing the inner being like this, helps us continue to enjoy our responsibilities and to be giving, without depleting ourselves. When we focus on creating optimistic and kind thoughts, others feel safe and supported. Positive thinking, resilience and compassion create our feelings and reach the person we are thinking about.

Connect and communicate with the Supreme Being, who is only a thought away. God, the Father, always sees us at our best. This pure love recharges and refreshes the soul, and creates newness by removing waste and negative thoughts, tiredness, and heaviness of desires. When our minds and hearts are clean and unpolluted, the air, water and elements would again become clean, free from pollution and disease. Because when I change, the world changes. We remember our original brotherly love and the respect we had for each other, and our relationships, and nature will once again become beautiful, peaceful, happy, abundant and heavenly.

Chirya Yvonne Risely is a Rajyoga meditation teacher, based at the Brahma Kumaris Peace Village Retreat Center, USA.

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How can I regain true self-respect?

NEVILLE HODGKINSON

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It is quite a revelation when we begin to notice that other people tend to put the same value on us, as we put on ourselves. When we have self-respect, that conveys itself to others through our body language, words and actions, and others will respect us in return.

When we feel good inside, it is as if the sun shines on us from outside as well. People smile more readily. Even nature looks more beautiful. When we feel on top of the world, our faces and actions speak to others of that and they receive a lift from our happiness. Their happiness then feeds back into our own sense of well-being, increasing it further. In contrast, when we feel worthless, others tend to react towards us in ways that confirm we really are not good to know.

Changes in our mental states alter the way we interpret what is going on around us, including how we respond to other people. The world will of course look different, when we see it through different lenses. But does it really change, depending on the way we see it?

Modern physics tells us that there is an informational component to the entire physical world. What we call matter is really energy, wrapped up into particles and objects according to a kind of matrix of instructions that give material form to the world. Physicists do not yet know how that matrix comes into being, or where the instructions come from. But they are certain it is there.

It seems that nature has a mind of her own, a kind of universal consciousness. This has within it laws that give constancy to the world we experience in time and space, but there is also continuous change. Ups and downs, light and dark, tragedies and triumphs, are all part of the show put on by this universal mind. All living things have individual parts within this overall scheme.

Religious-minded people have often felt that God is love, and that when our own actions are loving, happiness follows and self-respect stays strong. It is true that a divine law of benevolence is at work. When we follow that law with our thoughts and actions, the universe subtly supports us, bringing lasting success. When we go against that law, our conscience bites and self-respect tumbles down. For example, when we criticise others, we are going against the law of universal love and our happiness diminishes.

Sometimes, through creating a false sense of self-worth, we find it hard to distinguish right from wrong. We fool ourselves into thinking we are ok because we have lots of money, or a high position, or power over other people. Such ego-based self-aggrandisements are dangerous and illusory because they are never fulfilling. We know perfectly well, consciously or subconsciously, that they are delusional and therefore we always need more and more accolades to prop up our self-respect. The result is to further blunt the conscience, depleting our humanity and leading to a vicious circle of decline.

We cannot just fake self-respect, and expect to receive true regard in return. To the extent that our actions are mean and selfish, others will see that, no matter how much we may try to think well of ourselves.

What then can be done if we have lost our sense of true self-respect, how can we reclaim it? This is where God comes to the rescue. As a Supreme Being who always remains a reservoir of truth, God not only recognises the innate dignity in each one, but His light enables us to see that our real, original, nature, underneath the mistakes, is eternally good.

This holds true for all humans. And because the core of goodness is always there, in every one of us, there is always the possibility of regaining it.

The method of doing so that I have learned is called Rajyoga. It entails withdrawing my sense of who I am from the brain and body, which may carry many needy tendencies, and considering myself instead to be a soul or spirit. In that non-physical, internal awareness, I become better able to access my original, pure consciousness—my original goodness. I become better aligned with God’s energy of truth, and gain the strength to overcome my insufficiencies and act from my higher nature.

It is then that true self-respect gradually returns and everywhere I go and whatever I do, the world starts to respect me too!

Neville Hodgkinson is a UK-based author and journalist, and a long-time student of Rajyoga.

Rajyoga entails withdrawing my sense of who I am from the brain and body, which may carry many needy tendencies, and

considering myself instead to be a soul or spirit.

Religious-minded people have often felt that God is love, and that when our own actions are loving, happiness follows and self-respect stays strong. It is true that a divine law of

benevolence is at work. When we follow that law with our thoughts and actions, the

universe subtly supports us, bringing lasting success.

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Spiritually Speaking

What’s wrong with humanity?

Arun Malhotra

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Man has benevolently lent himself a tag of beautiful word ‘humanity’. But deep down man is a brutal animal who is insensitive, brutish, and ruthless. Man is worse than wild beast. But he considers himself much higher in evolution than animals. Even to equate men with animals will be a cruelty to animals. Animals are innocent and godly. Man is cunning, clever and deceptive. Animals don’t make wars and exterminate their own species. Man has created nuclear bombs to wipe out humanity and the living from the earth. Why man is so restless, agonised, fearful and insecure. Animals don’t make laws to prevent themselves from killing their own species as only a few carnivores kill for eating that too after weeks of fasting. Animals breed as per natural order. Man thinks of sexuality all the time twenty-four hours year-round. In reality, man is suffering from, neurosis, pain, anxieties, agony, anger, violence, conflicts and fears. It seems something is wrong with humanity.

Animal has fear anger and aggression. Man has fear anger and aggression too. Animals when confronted or attacked by others will be aggressive or fearful. Man is aggressive and fearful simply by running through stored memories without having confronted real aggression.

Mind is bred to be secure and protected. Human mind has been burdened to collect all kinds of securities but in the end, there will be insecurities. Therefore, when the mind confronts fear, anxiety, greed, or violence, it registers it forever in the memory. The memory trap will always make him fearful without the threat being there.

That is when the man has started to suffer. Man is frightened by the insecurities that are making him insecure. Insecurities that have not even been bred might hurt him in future because humanity is frightened of humanity. Animals have vulnerabilities and they accept them and go beyond them. Man doesn’t. Some 10000 years ago man was fearful of the wild beast. Scientists say that fight or flight mode was born then. Either he fought or ran away. Back then 99% was wildlife and man was less than 1% in the population. Today man along the animal man eats is 99% and wildlife is reduced to 1%. But man is frightened even more. Today man’s mind is searching to get over his artificial insecurities which are psychological sufferings. He lives in cities, away from wildlife but is frightened like never before.

Man has been living against nature. Man is living against his biological nature. Man’s society has bred a state of being which does not allow him to live naturally. Humanity has bred a complex society that has built complex habitats that do not let him live naturally on the earth. Animals live naturally. Therefore they are innocent, gullible, saintly and godly. Man is burdened by the conditioning that is destined to make him someone else than his natural being—not himself. Society has bred deep neurosis of comparisons that has bred a rat race and man is running for something that is not there.

Man did not want to be hurt or eaten by the wild beast. But today the wild beasts are not there but taken over by bosses, spouses, parents, teachers, and peers. Man has created an artificial perception of hurt which is not real. Adolf Hitler thought himself to be hurt and wrought havoc on humanity. Therefore, man wants to grab power so that others may not hurt him which means he can hurt others.

Psychological sufferings are caused by the conditioning that mind has begotten for thousands of years. Conditioning is when you have begotten a system of life to follow without learning from life. Mind has been conditioned by cultures, civilisations, religions, Gods, regions, nationalities, and ethnicities. Therefore, you feel hurt when someone speaks against your culture, religion, region, nationality or against your conditioned appearance that you have created by your thoughts. Conditioning becomes your appearance which is not the real appearance but it hurts psychologically.

You belong to a big reputed family of an ethnicity. You may believe in a God that is described in Hebrew, English, German, Sanskrit, Chinese or Japanese. You may have beliefs in a set of religions or a region or another set of religions or a region. You may come from a background and environment. Your mind considers yourself far more superior as it is conditioned by factors that form your appearance in your mind. When someone talks against your beliefs, you feel hurt. All such divisions have led humanity to wars. As you think that you are your conditioning. Not that you know that you are your conditioning. But you are an accumulation of your thoughts. Your thoughts drive out of your memories. Thoughts of what you think of yourself are the thoughts that are what you think you are. Thus you often do self-pity and feel victimised psychologically. You have built a centre with your thoughts that you have been assigned a name. You believe in that thought of belief. The thought of belief in your name is your ego and you have knit your world around it. The self-image that you have created is attacked and you are hurt. Sufferings are there as we have created a centre which is outside us and it is a borrowed centre. Like you are living on an artificially assigned image of yourself that world identifies you with. And when the image is not accepted by others it pains you psychologically.

Different cultures assign names of Gods to newborns to build their self-image and man is known by that image. Society lends him a character and he creates the self-image of that character the type of boundaries that he is distinctly higher than others and conducts himself within the boundaries of the character. Thus he suffers psychologically. Although everyone is unique and no two humans or animals are similar but conditioning is a kind of software that blinds him by blind practices that does not let man learn from his fears, agony, anger, and anxieties to be able to transcend them.

Society wants him to become someone higher. His family wants him to become someone higher and he invests a lifetime into it to become what he is not and suffers. Society is a kind of escape from yourself when you are not able to learn from your observations so society rules and perceptions take over you. As many divisions of region, religion, ethnicity, gods, and nationalities as many wars, conflicts and violence would wreak on earth as mind wants division. Man is bred by division as mind is searching for security and division is security.

Animals don’t register as hurt and why do men register as hurt. Buddha had said, ‘there are sufferings and there is a way to go out of it.’ One has to learn to observe fears, agonies, anxieties and conflicts to be out of them. Hurts get accumulated as we don’t learn from them but follow them blindfolded which makes us suffer a lifetime. Whenever you are stuck in memories or beliefs or images or society you will be suffering tremendously.

Don’t invest in your self-image. Your self-image is not you and is artificial. You may need a code to be identified in the society that is good enough. But begin to learn and don’t throw your fears into dark corners. Buddha says to use your awareness like a guard to learn from every abnormality that enters you and that is the way to be out of that. That is the way not to be hurt.

The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be reached at arunavlokitta@gmail.com

Don’t invest in your self-image. Your self-image is not you and is artificial. You may need a code to be identified in the society that is good enough. But begin to learn and don’t throw your fears into dark corners. Buddha says to use your awareness like a guard to learn from every abnormality that enters you and that is the way to be out of that. That is the way not to be hurt.

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