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BE FREE FROM YOUR MISTAKES

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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In Srimad Bhagwatam there is a story of king Ajamila. He had many vices. When he was on his deathbed he called his son who was named ‘Narayan’. And when he uttered Divine’s name, he got liberated. This story builds trust in people that however their past has been there is no need to waste time in repenting or being guilty. Even at the last moment if you chant the Divine’s name, you have a chance to be liberated. The story teaches you not to be guilty of the mistakes you have committed in your past.

Knowledge of a mistake comes, when you are innocent and in the present moment. When you are innocent and in the present moment then you are out of the mistake already. Instead of brooding over the past, just wake up and acknowledge it. Move forward and don’t get stuck in blaming yourself or others. It is like you are sitting with a garbage can and ready to throw it on someone. But they return it back to you. It is like a volleyball.

You throw the ball, and the ball comes back to you again. This game goes on. If you want to get out of this game, acknowledge the mistake.

What generally has been practiced is to justify our mistakes so that the guilt is not felt. It doesn’t work that way. Whatever justification you give, the guilt lingers on. You resist the guilt and it continues and then distorts your behavior deep inside. You have all the right to feel miserable for the mistake you have done. Remain totally miserable for one whole moment, ten minutes or twenty-five minutes, not more. And then, you will be out of it.

Acknowledge a mistake without justifying it. This does not remove the guilt as the justification is superficial. It makes you feel even more guilty. Be one hundred percent with the guilt and that pain will become like a meditation and relieve you from the guilt, bringing in freedom.

Now, how do you deal with a person who has committed a mistake? Do not tell a person a mistake he already knows and make them feel guilty, defensive or resentful. As this will only create more distance. You should only point out the mistake of a person who is ignorant about it but would want to know. Often people are aware of the mistakes they have committed, but they do not want anyone to point it out to them. Before pointing out the mistake of a person, see whether your comment in any way will help to improve the situation, foster love or bring harmony.

Also, don’t see intention behind other’s mistakes. When somebody does something wrong, often we think they did it intentionally. When we see from a broader perspective, every culprit is also a victim. They may be a victim of lack of education or information, too much stress and narrow-mindedness. All these would cause someone to make a mistake.

A wise man, if he sees mistakes in others, helps them to come out of it in a compassionate manner. But a fool is happy if someone else does a mistake and takes pride in it and announces to the world. A wise man always praises others. Wisdom is uplifting the spirit. When you are centered, you always uplift everybody around you.

Save your mind. When the mind is established, you cannot make mistakes even if you want. With the knowledge of the self, all negative emotions like fear, guilt, anger and sorrow disappear.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.

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Spiritually Speaking

AVOIDING A TRAFFIC JAM OF THOUGHTS

B.K. Mruthyunjaya

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Traffic jams are a fact of life in most cities. Almost everyone who has lived in a city or visited one has experienced being stuck in the middle of vehicles inching along at a snail’s pace.

How do we feel in a traffic jam? We are powerless to get out of it or move as fast as we would like to. The helplessness causes impatience, irritation, frustration or despair, espe-cially if we are going to an important meeting or to catch a train or a flight.

A common reaction to such a situation is to blame others. We may blame the government for not building wider roads, dismiss the traffic police as incompetent for letting the jam occur or even wonder why the other motorists do not use public transport. We may also rue having taken that route or chosen that hour to travel. The result of all this is upheaval in the mind.

Something similar happens when we experience a traffic jam in our minds. Such a jam occurs when we think too much and have little control over our thoughts. The thoughts come fast and the mind is swept along in their flow, seemingly incapable of stopping the thoughts or changing their direction. When this ordeal ends, much time and mental ener-gy have been lost and we feel exhausted.

A traffic jam in the mind occurs when we have waste or negative thoughts. One example of this is worrying about the future. We start creating all sorts of negative scenarios we might possibly face, and get stressed by merely thinking about them. When the mind is mired in such thoughts, we feel as if one is actually experiencing those negative situations even though they are just a figment of the imagination.

Even in the face of a difficult situation in real life, if one gets overwhelmed by it, one may get drawn into a whirlpool of negative thinking that will rob one of the ability to dis-cern correctly, think rationally, and arrive at the right judgment. One would be left con-fused, weak, angry or despondent.

What is needed at such times is the ability to see things as they are, decide on the best course of action, and take the necessary steps calmly, without being upset or upsetting others. Faced properly, no situation can really cause distress. It is when we get on the track of negative thinking that we are carried away by our thoughts and make matters worse. Positive thoughts, by their very nature, are slow, few in number, and empowering.

To avoid creating a traffic jam of thoughts, we need to learn the art of positive thinking, which will steer us away from the mental track that leads to negativity.

Rajyoga meditation teaches us to create healthy thoughts and channel our mental energies in the right direction. The basis of Rajyoga is remembering that we are spiritual beings or souls, not bodies. All souls are children of the Supreme Soul, who is supremely peaceful, loving, benevolent, and almighty. As His children, we have a claim on His powers and virtues. When we remember Him with the awareness of who we are and our relationship with Him, we are able to connect with Him mentally. Through this mental link flow His love, peace, purity, and power, cleansing and empowering the soul. Regular practice of Rajyoga makes the soul capable of facing anything undauntedly, without creating a traf-fic jam in the mind.

B.K. Mruthyunjaya is Executive Secretary of the Brahma Kumaris.

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Spiritually Speaking

SEIZING THE REINS OF YOUR LIFE

NEVILLE HODGKINSON

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In today’s world, most of us are led to think of ourselves as material, physical beings, with no soul. Science has claimed to explain how everything—even the utter miracle of a single living cell of our bodies, which is like a city in its complexity—arrived here through chance events taking place over billions of years. I used to subscribe to this belief myself.

Even most people with a spiritual or religious practice, such as meditation or prayer, think of themselves in primarily physical terms. There may be an idea of some kind of afterlife, but it is often rather vague and does not protect against the fear of death.

I went to church as a child, but in my teenage years came to the view that religion did not make much sense. Although not a scientist, I felt for many years that science offered our best hope for a better future.

Now I see things very differently. I have come to the conclusion that materialistic science, which purports to explain everything in physical terms, is deeply unscientific. It misses out on the most important creative energy of all, which is spirit or consciousness.

A few years ago, the author and spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra co-authored an article with a Harvard medical school professor complaining that although we live in a golden age of brain research, 99% of neuroscientists believe we are our brains.

They wrote: “In this scheme, the brain is in charge, having evolved to control certain fixed behaviours. We are flooded with articles and books reinforcing the same assumption: the brain is using you, not the other way round.” The real glory of human existence is the mind, they said, and not the brain that serves it.

But what is the mind, if not a product of the brain?

An answer emerging at the frontiers in science is that behind the physical world, constantly putting it in place, there lies a consciousness of almost infinite power and complexity.

We can call it the mind of nature. It is a living, non-physical energy that creates and shapes the reality in which we live.

It contains within it the blueprints for everything we see in the world around us including our own being. It is as though each individual human self or soul splits away from the universal mind in order to enact its own part on the stage of the world, but ultimately all are connected in this web of life. And we are immortal.

This understanding is empowering. If the mind itself shapes material reality including the brain, it means we do not have to submit to negative patterns imprinted within our brain cir-cuits linked with such conditions as depression, addictions, and phobias.

We can identify these patterns, reflect on them, and remove them. We can reprogramme as-pects of instinctive behaviour that we are finding unhelpful including habits such as being gloomy and judgmental.

In my own experience, the practice of positive mental states can bring quick and useful re-sults. But sustaining them over time is not so simple.

I think this is largely related to the degree to which we really make the shift into knowing the inner being as a soul or spirit. This awareness allows you to seize the reins of your life, instead of being pushed here and there by factors outside of you. It carries an intrinsic power because the human soul has intrinsic virtues—love, peace, happiness, wisdom—which illuminates your life when you become more soul-conscious.

In my case, because of my previous materialistic beliefs, getting this deep awareness and the power to change that comes with it has involved a long spiritual pilgrimage.

A breakthrough came when I realised that not only am I at the root of my being a peaceful soul but that I can also connect my mind to a Supreme Being. I understand this Supreme Soul as being an ever-pure source of all that is highest in me.

I am now learning to keep that One with me in everything I do, and this is allowing me to move faster on my spiritual journey.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

Be free from worry and illness

inside

Dadi Janki

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Whenever we speak of the mind and body, it is the mind that comes first. If we suppress the mind, it causes mischief. The mind cannot bear to be suppressed. Being suppressed, subservient or dependent are habits that have developed in the mind and do not allow us to see inside and who we are. Become free of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. The feelings of ego and attachments, the ego of ‘I’ and attachment of ‘mine’ both have a big effect on the body.

There are various illnesses of the mind, yet these are the main ones that affect the mind and body a great deal. Ego is false pride in everything in the materialistic world. It does not allow me to stay in awareness of what is real. With attachment, we hold on to situations and things. It is a subtle and deep feeling within to become free of ego and attachment.

For example, do not think what is going to happen to everyone around me if I die? Learn to meditate and create a beautiful atmosphere in the home. Develop courage. Meditation helps us to face situations. Anything can happen suddenly, so remain ever-ready in such situations. It is possible to go beyond worry, fear and sorrow. I may not be ill but if we have these three habits then I cannot help anyone in any way.

Honesty, faith and courage are the antidotes. Look at your purpose in life. I should have so much truth, faith and courage in the self that I am able to empower those that come in front of me. Remain free of tension and instead have total attention. Have good wishes and pure feelings for all. Go deep inside and see what type of feelings there are. Remove any negative ones. With good wishes, we can help others as these works from deep inside. Good wishes really empower and encourage people and they feel that they are OK.

What medicines are not able to do, courage and faith can achieve, and Inner strength develops. Illnesses develop due to disheartenment. So do not allow the self to become hopeless in any situation and do not allow others to become disheartened. The main reason for illnesses arising is due to the ill-feeling inside. So free the self from these and then you will be able to help others too. When there is tiredness inside this also does not help. In today’s world, young and old will say they are tired. If a car has a tyre puncture, imagine the condition of the car. In the same way, when human beings get ‘tyred’, what is our condition? We do not work very well. If someone realises the reasons for the illness and removes these reasons they will become well again.

Take three tablets each morning—patience, peace and love—and the whole day will be empowered. When there is the pain of the body, I the soul can still remain free from sorrow. Then we are able to move through it. Have patience and it will go away. To make a big thing into something small is the act of someone who has sense. When we make something big from small, there is no cure. Do not give sorrow to anyone or take it. Do not accept sorrow from anyone. Another cause of illness is from taking and giving sorrow. Constantly remain smiling and you will find nothing is difficult. Rehearse this and see. The situations are external, so feel the power of the smile inside. Let go of everything and move forward. God is my companion and in playing my role I am a hero actor. The Almighty Authority is my father, teacher and true guide and He tells me, do not worry.

The late Dadi Janki was the Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris.

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Spiritually Speaking

HOW TO BRING LIGHT INTO YOUR LIFE

Wherever there is light, there can be no darkness. Whenever we feel we are in a dark spell of our life, we need only to tap into the light of our soul.

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C hallenges are a part of life. Sometimes we let them get the better of us, and find ourselves succumbing to them. However, there is always hope to bring light into the dark spells that come our way. We just have to know where to look for it.

In life, we are faced with numerous challenges. We may have illnesses, financial or relationship problems or loss of our reputation. We may experience some dark patches. But we do not have to be blinded by the darkness. The following anecdote has an instructive message to help us through the dark spells.

There was once a cave that lived underground, as most caves do. Since it spent its entire life in darkness, it had never seen any light. One day, a voice talked to the cave, and said, “Come up i nt o t h e l i ght . C o m e and enjoy the sunlight.” The cave replied, “I do not know what you mean by light. All I have ever known is darkness.” “Come and see for yourself,” said the voice.

The cave mustered up enough courage and climbed slowly up from the depths of the earth. Suddenly, it reached the top of the earth and was surrounded by magnificent light, the likes of which the cave had never seen in its life.

“This is beautiful,” said the cave.

After enjoying the light for a while, the cave said to the sunlight, “Now it is your turn to come with me and see the darkness.”

 “What is darkness?” asked the sunlight.

The cave answered, “Come and see for yourself.”

The sunlight decided to visit the cave’s home. As the sunlight entered the cave, it said, “Now show me your darkness.” But with the sunlight there, there was no darkness to be found.

What this anecdote illustrates is the power of light. Wherever there is light, there can be no darkness. Whenever we feel we are in a dark spell of our life, we need to only tap into the light of our soul. We are light. Our soul is light. Our true nature is light. If we would only identify with our true nature, we would find there is no darkness. If we would also bring our own innate goodness and light into our daily life, we would never be overcome by the darkness of life again.

Each one of us has the light of the soul within us. But we are not aware of it because we identify ourselves with the outer world of darkness and illusion. If we would invert our attention within through meditation, we would discover this illuminating light. Whenever the dark spells of life threaten to bring us down, we could invert, find the light within, and bring it forth into the darkness to dispel it.

Whenever we find we are faced with sickness, financial problems, ignominy, or loss, we can remember that these are but passing clouds in the brilliant sunlit sky. Our true reality is light and love. When we associate with the temporary illusions of this world, we feel pain. But when we realise that the outer events are but a dream existence, a passing show that is but temporary, we can rise above the pain and disappointment. When we find sadness in life, let us maintain our inner harmony. When we find misfortune, let us count the numerous times we have experienced good fortune. When we fail, take that as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and try again. When we find ourselves in darkness, let us close our eyes and focus within until we see the light. That light will bring with it peace, joy, and love. It will comfort us and give us the strength to carry on. If we bring that light into our life, then we too, like the cave, will find that there is no more darkness. If we sit in meditation, we can experience the light waiting for us within. Let us not be distracted by the darkness of thought, but instead, sit in stillness and wait lovingly for the light within to shine upon us.

The author is the head of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.

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Spiritually Speaking

THE ARTIFICIALITY OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE: HOW TO LEARN ALGORITHM OF YOUR LIFE

Arun Malhotra

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Do we have to learn to live life or do we have to live to learn life? Do we have to learn to live and to die? How do we learn? Doctors say when a person is in a vegetative state, his brain cannot order motor functions, but the mind may think. Thoughts go back and forth in the mind but the brain doesn’t control the body. The physical body of the mind is called the brain. The brain is an information processor that is evolved to process information to pass it on to the body. To live everyday life, information is generated that is needed to be stored, retrieved and acted upon for survival that’s how the brain evolved.

If the brain could learn and collect information and not evolve its memory and processing capacity, it would crash. Like a computer that cannot handle memory processing more than memory storage it has.

Learning happens with intelligence because understanding beholds intelligence and the beholder follows understanding. Is intelligence is the goal of existence? Has the existence made humans more intelligent to make kind of progress humans have made on this earth? Whether one-celled amoeba had any intelligence? In fact, one-celled amoeba from the beginning is equally intelligent as man. It has one body. If it has a body, its sense of being would be embedded in it. To live it has to learn the sense that detects food. Like humans have a sense of vision, smell and taste. One-celled has the body. One-celled would simply sit over food to consume it. One-celled would split into two to make two daughter cells. Intelligence to detect food and to make copies is the basic intelligence. One-celled amoeba has that intelligence to evolve in circumstances.

Darwin proposed the theory of ‘evolution by natural selection’. What Darwin calls ‘natural selection’ is the principle on which the faculty of biology is founded. Darwin has said that humans are from apes, and birds derive their wings from fish fins and so on. That’s what Darwin calls ‘natural selection’ does not take us far because biological science invariably tries to give all answers within the ambit of this overarching definition.

How do organisms shape up? How does the brain evolve?

How does the brain perceive thoughts? Science has one answer—‘natural selection’. Therefore, ‘natural selection’ has to be defined into that one order of intelligence that is rooted in existence. Existence endows intelligence to every living being. Existence endows absolute freedom to living beings. That is the algorithm that existence endows us with. One-celled is endowed with that algorithm too. One-celled sensed food and consumed it too, it did not need a vision but one-celled had the vision needed for survival. Are humans any different from one-celled amoeba which is evolved to produce stable copies of descendants? Humans have 90 trillion cells and each cell knows how to get food and make copies.

One has absolute freedom to select one’s destiny. We find all living shaped up to have distinct identities and traits. Our eyes are the sense of vision that is evolved as a backlash to light. Colours evolved as a backlash of absorption of types of light particles. The Sense of hearing is evolved as a backlash to the sound.

Every cell of our body has cause and effect. A bird flying thousands of miles in a season and returning next season following celestial pole and constellations, in fact, is guided by the algorithm that bird learns for months by looking up at the night sky. Bees have an intrinsic learning algorithm by which they learn the location of flowers. Ants reach the spot of origin every day after navigating for miles and hours. Spiders use spinning algorithms to create marvellous webs. Bats use the Doppler sonar algorithm for hunting. Hunting lent species special skills and instincts that shaped up bodies and intelligence. Humans also learnt survival skills from hunting.

But the language was a big game-changer for complex intelligence. The basic language is stored into symbols to attach meanings to things and events around us. That’s what ‘Artificial Intelligence’ does to computers today. Because we use words in the form of computer symbols defined in codes. Words are invented to denote symbols that we further employ to communicate their meanings in action. Complex languages represent words that denote symbols in our brain when their assigned meanings are decoded.

A typical Artificial Intelligence coding program is no different from the language that one learns to speak. Artificial Intelligence Coding is the same—it guides perception and action. A computation machine like a computer may learn many languages and translate them without having to understand meanings. We think that someone who has translated would know the language for sure. In the same way, all intelligence is a way to denote certain things. In that parlance, human intelligence and Artificial Intelligence both are the same. Both write codes and symbols to denote something that it means to convey or do when decoded.

Every living being is absolutely free to shape up what it wants it to be shaped into. Everything has evolved from everything else. It means we all are born out of one same thing. Our brains are trained to make algorithms. Man learns to write algorithms all life and walks past them to write new ones. That’s the code of life.

A race between computational thinking and neurological evolution is sharpening human intelligence and shaping neurological networks to new levels. It is going to create special brain areas in the human brain. Man is creating destiny for himself. Man is in deep dialogue. Man thinks. Man thinks that he is alive because he is thinking. If he stops thinking he will be dead. Man is free to think and create heaven or wildfire of hell on this earth. Existence can create and destroy anything or everything in a matter of split seconds. Existence has endowed beautiful earth to man. But man is hypnotised by the artificiality of his intelligence. Man has passed over all such worries that man had during hunter-gatherer ‘fight or flight’ times. But the man keeps on multiplying worries by thinking.

Thinking is not life; thinking is worrying about the future. Thinking is not being here. Thinking makes you artificially intelligent. Life is beating every moment. So stop thinking about life. Begin feeling, begin sensing life. Become the beat of life. Begin to taste the sweetness of life. Begin to revel in the coldness of life. Begin to be lulled by the warmth of life. Begin to soar into the vastness of life. Begin to fathom the depth of life. Begin to dance like a honeybee and to sing the song of your life.

Don’t think about God. You don’t have to go anywhere to get the grace of God showered on you. God has already held you. God has already surrounded you. Thinking creates the gap between you and God. You don’t have to learn to live or try to become who you are not. But you have to be what you are. That’s the real intelligence. You don’t have to learn to write your algorithm by thinking or by intelligence. You have to learn to be one with the algorithm of your life. Being Buddha means being the awakened one, awakened from the artificiality of human intelligence.

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

Thinking creates the gap between you and God. You don’t have to learn to live or try to become who you are not. But you have to be what you are. That’s the real intelligence.

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Spiritually Speaking

FINDING THE COURAGE TO BE

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One thing that the pandemic has engendered for many people is a shift in focus from what I have or own, that is material things, to what I value in terms of relationships. They were put in the spotlight because everyone was cocooned with those relationships. For a smaller number perhaps, what came into even sharper focus was the primary relationship with the self. We discovered what resources we had to deal with a completely unprecedented set of circumstances. For some it heightened levels of stress, for others it highlighted abilities that had not been called on before. But for most, it required varying degrees of courage.

Courage is a quality of spirit and not a skill. It is easy to be courageous when I have wealth at my disposal, or a strong team of people around me, thinking in the same way. Real courage is the ability to face the self, deeply understand the self, which is the only way to be able to relate well with others. Without this knowledge of the self, we have expectations, demands, and a wish to control situations or other people, which is very violent energy. We need the courage to look at our attitude and see that the blame game is only a reflection of the pain we are feeling. We have to let go of the stories we tell ourselves to try and out-think and intellec-tualise what hurts us. The stories make us feel better for a time, but ultimately the stories will break down one day and we will have to face the uncertainty and instability at the root. Those stories are not who I am.

The first act of real courage is to open the door to the awareness of who I really am. To understand who I am at the core of my being. I am the extremely subtle, fluid life force, the soul. This is the energy that supports the functioning of the body. The more I meditate and experience the stream of this life force the more I experience the extremely subtle effect on my thinking. Thoughts are a component of the life force. The mind is only a function of the deeper life force of who I am. Real courage is to arrive at this quiet sense of consciousness. Such a soul is happier in their being, more relaxed and can conduct the affairs of their lives with no edge to their behaviour, no pushiness and with a quiet internal trust that makes things work out. It is like coming back home inside. Home in the sense of knowing the self, where there is clean stability, clear determination. Determination brings a sense of conviction to what I do, and that brings with it a successful conclusion. The more we meditate regularly, the simpler the journey becomes, until it is not a journey anymore. I am in that space, operat-ing from that space and then my life fundamentally changes — I am living from the inside out.

Gopi Patel is a Rajyoga teacher based at the Brahma Kumaris National Coordinating Office, London.

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