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Being a detached observer brings stability

B.K. Geeta

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Why do we get disturbed by unexpected or challenging situations? It is because we forget that the world is a vast stage on which the drama of life is being played out and we are enacting our roles in it.

The tests we face are a part of the play. If we keep this in mind, we will not be distressed instead, we will be amused. When we remember that it is a play, we will be aware that the nature and behaviour of other people is a part of the drama. This awareness helps to keep us calm and stable.

The knowledge that we are in a variety show will spare us any surprise or sorrow from encountering different personalities, attitudes and behaviours. In the cinemas and theatres, various kinds of films and plays are shown. If it is an action film showing a lot of bloodshed, we are not dismayed by the violence because we know beforehand what kind of a film it is and expect to see such scenes. For the same reason, war and horror films entertain rather than frighten us.

If we have a similar consciousness while playing our role in the drama of life, would we become angry or distraught? To remain unaffected by the multifarious scenes of life, we need to be detached observers. We can be so only when we have the realisation that we are actors in a play.

We are souls and our body is a costume, wearing which we perform our various parts. But we usually fail to remember that we are acting, and instead identify with our roles. We label everyone according to their gender, nationality, race, religion, or social status. These labels describe our costume, the body, not our true self, the soul. Imagine what would happen if a film star forgot who she was and started to believe that she was the character portrayed by her in a film? She would be laughed at and probably advised counselling.

When we forget that we are in a play, we cease to be detached observers and start experiencing distress. We then ask questions such as, “Why did this happen”, “How could they do this”.

The key to remaining stable in every situation is to know the self, the soul, and understand that all souls are playing their unique roles in the drama of life. This helps us accept people and situations without being influenced by them.

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

Spiritually Speaking

Art of being beyond words

Arun Malhotra

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Man’s life is frustrating. Life seems to always frustrate man. When one comes to this earth, he comes with eyes full of wonder and innocence; when one dies, he dies with eyes full of frustration. After living life, one dies in frustration that he could not do anything. He missed something. Scholars, scientists, poets, artists, philosophers, tycoons, laureates, politicians, people with positions those who seem to have earned name and fame among humans. Those who seem to have achieved something that others are in the race for such achievements. They also die frustrated. 

Is there something missing in life? Why this life is frustrating, is the moot question. When one is born, one is thrilled, tantalisingly overwhelmed at each moment. Then one’s ability to be full of wonder fades away when one seems to gain knowledge about things around, definitions, descriptions, complex ideas, names, vocabularies, subjects. When as a child one looked at the flower, one would just be one with its flower-ness of being. That’s the beauty of the world. But as knowledge deepens the brain, the magnificence of flower is lost. 

After gaining certain amount of knowledge the flower or a tree one would not look at it with one’s being. But a knowledge filter sets in. As knowledgeable one would say beautiful flower or would call it by its botanical name along with its characteristics. One thinks that one is so knowledgeable about the flower or the tree that one knows its botanical names also. But that knowledge created a wedge between one and the flower. That knowledge has become a bane. It looks untrue that knowledge could be a bane. But how does knowledge become a bane. Socrates says that knowledge is a virtue, the knowledge that does not make you virtuous all that knowledge is a bane. 

Albert Einstein, a wellknown scientist who shook the world with his discovery of theory of relativity, has written that if he gets a chance to live another life he would not like to be distinguished or well-known; he would rather be an ordinary man doing the job of plumber or for that matter as ordinary as that. What is the matter? Why would Einstein want to become ordinary when the entire word is rushing to become extraordinary like him? Because Einstein seems to have understood that it is worthless to become extraordinary because he has already seen that one doesn’t get anything by becoming a distinguished man. Scholars, scientists, poets, artists, philosophers, tycoons, laureates, politicians, people with positions, all the knowledgeable ones, all those who seem to have achieved something—all die frustrated; life frustrates them too. 

There must be something missing, what is that that man is missing. The moment I define something, it becomes untruth, it becomes a lie; it is said that every spoken word is a lie and definition cannot define the defined, the defined remains undefined. Why? Life is in the living. Living is now in the present. You are living. You are not living somewhere in future world. You are living in your being right now. So, there is no word that is defining the now-ness of being. Words cannot define the now-ness of being because words can define once it has happened; once it has become past then words can observe it from the future into the past and create a definition of the past. Like you feel thirsty and you are drinking water. In drinking your thirst is going away. In the very moment you are drinking you can drink only. You are experiencing drinking. 

You cannot define the state of experiencing the moment you are experiencing it but the moment you are out of it you can. You cannot define the experiencing that was in the experience that experiencer is experiencing. If you start defining it, you may say: I drink water or I drank water. The moment you define it you are already in the future explaining the experience through your eye of observation; you cannot define the now-ness of experiencing, you can only experience it. Experiencing is like rejoicing in the being. Experiencing is being in the moment right now hundred percent and no matter what you are doing in the moment. 

The moment has its own beauty in the experiencing and if you tend to describe it you lose it right away. In India it is said that truth is undefinable. Truth is beyond words. Truth is like molasses enjoyed by one who is speech-challenged. One who is devouring into the sweetness of it and enjoying it but has lost ability to speak. The scholars, philosophers, knowledgeable ones those who go on talking about the truth and the lofty ideas, rituals and what is inscribed in the scriptures. You start following the scriptures in a manner that scriptures become your bondage that frustrates you. 

Truth is not embedded on those words that you read from scriptures. All those words are glimpses of the truth the glimpse of that which is so that you get enticed to be there to get it, to get thirsty so that your dream is broken but your dreams have deepened and you have created further bigger dreams out of those words. A letter that by adding many make a word is phonetic which had no hidden meaning of its own but we have assigned them with meaning so we use them into a language by giving certain meaning. This is how all languages in the world have been created like Hindi, Chinese, English, Persian, French. 

The moment you speak or read the language is formed, the moment you write them down you are actually coding the past for future use so that these words could be deciphered. Words are the coding of human language. Whole life one writes in words. One thinks that one writes priceless knowledge. One captures them into words and keeps giving meaning to the words. The words have no meaning in them; all the meanings are assigned to them. The word that one wants to write is the truth that one wants to write and it always remains unworded and cannot be said or written. Therefore, it is said that every word is a lie. We write, we call ourselves knowledgeable, educated, literate and distinguished. 

The whole life we spend making ourselves knowledgeable and scholarly and we become distinguished. In the end we find that no matter how distinguished and literary scholar we are, something remains undefined. Something that words have no capacity to explain. Something that we missed and it is not in our hands to explain. Because truth was not hidden there in the definition that needed to be deciphered but truth is in the knowing in the now-ness of being. In the experiencing the truth is and truth is beyond words. 

The author is a spiritual coach and an independent advisor on policy, governance and leadership. He can be contacted at arunavlokitta@gmail.com.

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Navratri: A journey to the source

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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The festival of Navratri is celebrated with prayers and gaiety at the beginning of the Ashwin (autumn) and the beginning of Chaitra (spring). This period is a time for self-referral and getting back to the source. During this time of transformation, nature sheds the old and gets rejuvenated; animals hibernate and life emerges back afresh in the spring.

  ‘Ratri’ means night and night brings rejuvenation. Matter reverts to its original form to recreate itself again and again. The creation is cyclical, not linear; everything is recycled by nature — a continuous process of rejuvenation. The human mind, however, lags behind in this routine cycle of creation.  

Navratri is an occasion for one to take the mind back to its source. The seeker gets back to the true source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. It gives relief at the three levels of our existence — physical, subtle and causal. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one’s own being. 

 The inward journey nullifies our negative karmas.  Navaratri is a celebration of the spirit or prana which alone can destroy the demons — Mahsihsasura (inertia), Shumbha-Nishumbha (pride and shame) and Madhu-Kaitabh (extreme forms of craving and aversion). They are completely opposites, yet complementary. Inertia, deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions (raktabeejasura), unreasonable logics (chanda-munda) and blurred vision (dhoomralochan) can be overcome only by raising the level of prana shakti; the life-force energy.  The nine days of Navratri are also an opportunity to rejoice in the three primordial qualities that make up the universe. Though our life is governed by the three gunas, we seldom recognise and reflect on them. 

The first three days of Navaratri are attributed to tamo guna, (it leads to depression, fear and emotional instability) the second three to rajo guna (this leads to anxiety and feverishness) and the last three days to sattva guna (when Sattva dominates then we are clear, focused, peaceful and dynamic). Our consciousness sails through the tamo and rajo gunas and blossoms in the sattva guna of the last three days. The three primordial gunas are considered the feminine force of our magnificent universe. By worshiping the Mother Divine during Navaratri, we harmonise the three gunas and elevate sattva in the atmosphere. Whenever sattva dominates in life, victory follows.

 The essence of this knowledge is honoured by celebrating the tenth day as Vijaydashmi. Though Navratri is celebrated as the victory of good over evil, the actual fight is not between good and evil. From the Vedantic point of view, the victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality. In the words of the great sage, Ashtavakra, it is the poor wave which tries to keep its identity separate from the ocean, but to no avail.  The Mother Divine is recognised not just as the brilliance of intellect (buddhi), but also the confusion (bhranti); she is not just abundance (lakshmi), she is also hunger (shudha) and thirst (trishna). Realising this aspect of the Mother Divine in the entire creation leads one to a deep state of Samadhi. This gives an answer to the age-old theological struggle of the Occident. 

Through wisdom, devotion and nishkama karma, one can attain advaita siddhi or perfection in the non-dual consciousness. Kali is the most horrific manifestation of Nature. Nature symbolises beauty, yet it has a horrific form. Acknowledging the duality brings a total acceptance in the mind and puts the mind at ease.  Though the microcosm is very well within the macrocosm, its perceived separateness is the cause of conflict. For a gyani (wise), the entire creation becomes alive and he recognises life in everything in the same way children see life in everything. 

The Mother Divine or the pure consciousness itself pervades all the forms and has all the names. Recognising the one divinity in every form and every name is the celebration of Navratri. Hence, special pujas honouring all aspects of life and nature are performed during the last three days of Navratri. 

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Spiritually Speaking

Why it’s important to live in ‘here-now’

Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant
communication with other people, constant bombardment with
information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.
But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the ‘here-now’.

Prashant Solomon

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The present moment is the only reality. Everything that is happening to you is happening in the “here-now”. Being aware and centred in this current place and time is the only reality and is the true way to happiness. How much of our time have we wasted in pondering about the past or the future? The past is past and the future is not here yet and will never be. The reason that the future will never be here is because it is always something that is unreachable. When tomorrow arrives, it is no longer ‘tomorrow’ but ‘today’. Have you ever planned a vacation and during the days leading up to that vacation felt a kind of anxiety about the days leading up to it?

 If you use your present time thinking about the upcoming vacation, then you are not experiencing the present moment effectively. You may not be able to concentrate on your daily tasks because in your mind you are constantly thinking about the upcoming vacation. Eventually the time comes and you go on your vacation and before you even realise it, it is time to go back home. Instead the moments leading up to the trip should have been savoured and enjoyed for what they are. 

They are as much a part of your life as the trip itself. In other words, do not ignore or be unmindful of the present by constantly anticipating the events of the future. The “here-now” is the only reality. Time is a precious commodity which is to be cherished, each and every moment of it. Rushing through it either physically or mentally is also wasting it. Each moment is to be experienced for what it is. Even the moments of boredom. For they too shall soon pass.  Even the slower moments in life if you are completely present and immersed in them will increase your appreciation of them and relaxation in them.

 Focusing elsewhere in time and only thinking about the past or future will lead to anxiety and stress. This will also make you feel perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with yourself.  The cure of this is to constantly remain in the present or the “here-now”. But how can we do that? “Here-now” means being aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by the ruminations of the past or worries about the future but centred in the here and now. All attention is focused on the present moment.  

This is the key to being healthy and happy. It fights anxiety, cuts down on worrying and rumination and keeps you grounded and connected to yourself and everything around you.  Present moment awareness is the one sure way of having a complete experience. Our minds and thoughts are mostly in a constant state of flux moving from one time to the next—back and forth— past, future, past, past, future, future. Either we spend most of our time thinking about the past or worrying or planning our future. Very rarely is our mind on where we are and what we are doing.  In each moment of our lives is a lesson to be learned. Each moment of our lives is a hidden adventure that can be enjoyed. 

A great way to experience the “here-now” is to focus and pay attention to our breathing. The simple act of breathing in and out and observing it will bring us to the present moment. This is also the most simple and basic form of meditation and will do wonders to soothe our minds of all worry, stress and anxiety. Being “herenow” through breathing is a great way to anchor us to our reality. Also, many people in today’s world have forgotten the art of simple passive observation. Try this following experiment. While going for a walk or drive turn your brain and your consciousness into purely receiving mode. Eliminate temporarily the transmission mode. This means do not ‘think’ but simply observe. 

 Suppose you are a passenger in a car. Just look outside the window and observe. No thinking, no worrying, no phones, no communicating but just observing. You will be amazed by the result! Even your daily route to work which you may have travelled hundreds or thousands of times over the years will reveal many surprises unnoticed before. You will see new alleys, lanes, signs, trees, structures and other things never before seen.

 If done for enough time you may even hear a Divine inner voice inside you that will point out this truth to you gently. It may say, “I have led you down these paths every day, but you never noticed these things till now.” The observer then realises that though she had travelled on this route perhaps thousands of times earlier, she had never noticed so many of the things she saw that day. 

The fact that she could even hear the Divine voice talk to her could also be an indication of the same phenomenon—that sometimes the mind has to be still from the thoughts of yesterday and the hopes or worries of tomorrow and just be in the “here-now”. The Divine voice itself could be calling out to us all the time but perhaps could never be heard because of this same lack of observation of what is. Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant communication with other people, constant bombardment with information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. 

But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the “herenow”. With all this constant race and pursuit of material things, we forget the simple things. The butterflies and flowers, the leaves swaying in the trees, children playing in the park, the setting sun, the wind blowing through your hair, the joy of seeing a baby laugh or simply to sit in the rear seat of a car and observe the world as it passes by. 

There are so many things you will notice if you just look and see. It is not a ‘waste of time’, for at the end of the day, what are we really here in this world for? Sure, it is important to do things also. It is important to work and play and laugh and cry and love and hurt, but it is also very important to process all that information. It is important to feel the moment. It is important to live in the “here-now” and just be! After all, we are all human beings, not human doings. 

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi Based author and businessman

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Be stable within to overcome challenges

B.K. Shivani

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Today we have advanced treatments for diseases, and so many medicines, yet more illnesses and medical complications are emerging. Why? Because of complications in our minds. Our relationships have become complicated for the same reason. 

When we remove complications from the mind, those in the body cease to exist. Otherwise, doctors tell us that if we do not change our way of thinking and living, the complications may return. The doctor can remove the clot or blockage in the arteries, but if we do not get rid of the blockages we have created in our minds, they will continue to harm the body. 

How do we create these complications?

 We do not face major problems daily. Our habits and traits are not formed by big issues, but by the small challenges we face on a regular basis. There is heavy traffic on the roads every day, and there may be a pothole too, which we have been driving past for months. We get irritated and create negative thoughts about such things. When we do this day after day, we lose a colossal amount of mental energy.

 The traffic and the pothole are on the road, but when we think about them repeatedly, they start to exist in our mind. What happens within families? One person is tidy and keeps everything in the right place, but another is slipshod. This causes frequent arguments. Putting things back in order probably takes less time and energy than quarrelling about it, but we create a habit of getting worked up over trifles and bickering over them.

 We waste our energy in this way, and the result is that when we are confronted by a serious situation, we lack the power to deal with it. We are unable to tolerate, forgive, or put the past behind us, and instead of seeing the good in others we note their faults –these are all signs of a depleted soul. It is because of this depletion that people nowadays get upset simply because someone did not ‘like’ their social media post. They brood over it, become agitated, and end up wasting more of their mental energy. 

Our complaining, grumbling or swearing at others does not change them for the better, but it certainly damages us by draining the mind of its strength. However, we have become habituated to getting annoyed and impatient. We cannot sit calmly even during a one-minute stop at traffic lights, and start scrolling through messages on our phone. 

We need to remember that in any situation, the one thing that is in my control is my state of mind. Instead of focusing on that, we try to control the situation or the other person. Similarly, the other person tries to control us. So, we have two persons who are not in control of themselves trying to control each other, which leads to conflict. 

To communicate effectively in such situations, we need to make sure that our mind is calm, our feelings are pure, vibrations are positive, and we have respect for the other person. In the absence of any of these, our words will make no impact at all. 

B.K. Shivani is a well-known motivational speaker and Rajyoga teacher

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Spiritually Speaking

The importance of values in today’s world

B.K. Jayanti

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Wherever we look today, we see the breakdown of society, in terms of family life, religion, the environment, the economy and governance. This fragmentation and collapse of our world seems to be deeply connected with a loss of human values – a view that is becoming increasingly prevalent across the globe.

 People are now more willing than ever to explore our common human values – those qualities that elevate and unite us and which are the source of our own inner dignity and that of all others. Values are now high on the agenda of governments, schools, hospitals and businesses. However, whilst espousing and celebrating values is very important, what is essential is to be able to actually live our lives by them. That is where the challenge lies. In fact, it could be said that the greatest cause of unhappiness today is our inability to act according to our values. So, we need to understand what it is that prevents us from doing what in our hearts we want to do – what takes away our power – and how we can help ourselves to experience our own greatness. 

The original state of every human being is goodness. The discovery of this is the wonderful discovery of our own inner dignity and our own value

. As we explore the inner self, we discover the original qualities of love, peace, happiness, wisdom and purity, which are the core values of the self. We need to foster these values and use them in our lives and in our work. Relationships then become a give and take with happiness and love, rather than expectation and demand.

 We start to respect ourselves, others, the laws of the world and the laws of nature. We experience an inner contentment that frees us from the tyranny of desires and needs.

 Values give us an understanding of a different paradigm from which to operate, rather than the materialistic, consumer society. They are the agents for change within the individual which then lead to transformation in a community or country.

 So, let us work together to empower and sustain values and their practical implementation in personal, family, community and work life at this precarious time in order to create a world of unity and harmony. 

B.K. Jayanti is a senior Rajyoga teacher and the director of the Brahma Kumaris’ services in Europe.

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To experience God’s love, be detached

Dadi Janki

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God is teaching us the art of loving. He is the Bestower, He is the Ocean of Love and He is willing to give us so much. But first we have to learn the art of detachment, otherwise we will not have the right to claim His love.

 Detachment is a talent as well as an art. It is developed through soulconsciousness which, together with a deep relationship with God, will keep us from being deceived by the attraction of limited love. It means to be so centred in the consciousness of our true spiritual nature that there is a natural, automatic rejection of adverse personality traits within us and illusionary attractions around us. Detachment allows us to be unaffected by these and so able to continue cultivation the values of our spiritual personality. 

God is willing to give us all His love, but if the first condition of detachment is not met, we will not be able to receive it. Turning our eyes in any other direction will block the truth and finish our progress. It is a very strong prerequisite.

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