EASY AND SIMPLE STEPS FOR A HEALTHIER WAY OF LIFE - The Daily Guardian
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EASY AND SIMPLE STEPS FOR A HEALTHIER WAY OF LIFE

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Each of us has the power to stay healthy. The choices we make today impact our physical, mental, and spiritual health tomorrow, whether months or years from now. Our choices also impact our family. What we choose today regarding the care of our body, mind, and spirit will determine what our future health will be. If we would realise that everything we do is building a foundation for our own lives and those of our family and children, we might think and act differently.

Medical research is pointing to two ways we can be proactive in increasing our wellness. One is meditation and the other is a vegetarian diet.

Meditation can increase our health and well-being physically, mentally, and spiritually. It keeps our body and mind calm and reduces our chances of contracting stress-related illnesses.

Research by medical practitioners and doctors is proving that meditation benefits the body and mind. It has been humorously said that we can counter the effects of ill, pill, and bill by being still. We can reduce the risks of getting ill, needing pills, and paying medical bills by being still. Being still refers to sitting in meditation. This increased interest and popularity of meditation has grown as scientific studies verify what has been known in the East for centuries: Through meditation, we still the body and mind and increase our well-being. It keeps us healthy, minimises the risk of getting a disease, and speeds up our recovery if we do get ill.

Here are simple steps to staying healthy:

STEP 1: MEDITATION

Be still. We know that our parents had the solution for us when we were children. When we were rambunctious and naughty, they had five words for us: “Sit down and be still.” These words are a precursor for a healthy lifestyle. Being still is another word for meditation.

When we meditate, we slow our heart rate and breathing to a point where we are calm. When we are agitated and upset, the body produces fight or flight hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which may be useful when in danger to help us defend ourselves or run, but not useful when the simple problems of life upset us. We do not need cortisol and adrenaline to kick in when our spouse or children leave the toothpaste cap off or someone cuts us off on the highway. We have been so conditioned to become upset about things that are not life-threatening that we produce stress hormones that react to our body in a way that can break down our organs and bodily systems.

Meditation helps us sit in a calm, relaxed state so that we can ward off the effects of daily life challenges. When we remain calm, our body is not producing hormones that can lead to stress-related ailments such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, headaches, digestive and skin problems. When we meditate we also keep our mind calm. We not only suffer physical illness from stress, but we create emotional and mental difficulties when we are not calm. This can lead to emotional and relationship problems or other stress-related mental disorders. Through meditation, we can keep a calm and peaceful mind to help us lead happier lives.

Meditation also helps us develop concentration, which we need for school or our jobs. When we are stressed out, our performance level is not as high as we need it to be. When we concentrate we can get better grades, which reduce our stress as students. Our stress as employees or professionals is reduced because we can perform better at work.

How can we prove the spiritual benefits of being still and meditating? This is one area where meditation fits the scientific model. It is based on experimentation leading to proof. Those who have tried the experiment have discovered that meditation leads to wellness not only of the body and mind but of the soul.

In meditation, we close our eyes, gaze within, and still our mind of thoughts. When the reflecting pool of our mind is still, we see what lies within us. We see Light within, hear celestial Music, and can soar to regions of Light. Through meditation, we thus achieve physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.

STEP 2: VEGETARIAN DIET

Another key to a healthy lifestyle is living on a vegetarian diet. Doctors have proven that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of many diseases such as stroke, heart attack, diabetes, digestive disorders, and even some cancers, among other illnesses. By cutting out meat, and even fish, fowl, and eggs we can reduce the risk of many ailments.

Vegetarianism also has benefits to our state of mind and our spiritual well-being. Think of the state of the animals when slaughtered. Hormones of fear and stress run through them at the time of their captivity and slaughter. It has been said that we are what we eat. All that was a part of the animal becomes part of us when we eat it. This means we are ingesting their fear and panic hormones, which can contribute to our own state of fear and anxiety when it becomes a part of our body.

We also are taking into our body anything the animal ate. For example, antibiotics fed to the animal become part of us, and if we have too much it can cause bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. If animals are fed hormones to make them grow faster, they too become a part of us which can lead to problems because now those hormones are in our body. We also are taking into our body any diseases that the animal may have contracted.

There are moral benefits to a vegetarian diet. Most cultures believe in the law that “thou shalt not kill.” There is recognition in many cultures that even animals have a soul in them. Thus, when we take the life of a creature, we are taking the life of a being who has a soul in it. Those who ascribe to a spiritual way of life and meditate have even witnessed that the same Light of the Divine in us also shines in all other human beings and all creatures. Thus, a thread of divine connection knits all life together. All are created by one creative power, and as such we are all one family. When we recognise this, we begin to love all and treat all as one family. Just as we would not want to harm our family members, similarly, we would not want to take the life of any creature as we recognise they are our younger brothers and sisters in the one Creator.

Today, there are numerous delicious and nutritious vegetarian, plant-based foods we can eat. Besides a growing number of vegetarian restaurants, most restaurants now offer a wider variety of vegetarian dishes. Mainstream supermarkets have many vegetarian options for customers. Even places where it was hard to get vegetarian foods, such as school cafeterias, hospitals, cruise ships, conferences, and venues for professional gatherings, offer vegetarian choices.

A growing number of companies now produce foods that look and have the texture of meat-type products but are made of plant-based foods for those who still want the look and feel of food with which they used to eat before becoming vegetarian. There are vegetarian options that appeal to people of all ages to encourage them to eat healthier while still enjoying the delicious taste of food.

It is now easier than ever to be vegetarian and the benefits are enormous. One can try the experiment of incorporating meditation and a vegetarian diet into one’s life. Then, you can see for yourself the benefits you will experience. If you can track the changes these two choices make and find that you are healthier, physically, mentally, and spiritually, you will have proven for yourself the benefits of meditation and a vegetarian diet. May each of you make choices to experience the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for your body, mind, and soul.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

THE BEST WAY TO MAKE LIFE EASY

B.K. Surya

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An easy-going nature and living life in a relaxed manner bring several benefits. One who is equable is free and light in their behaviour, and this is reflected in their relationships; their physical ailments are easily managed; their problems are not complicated; and since they are not much distracted or stressed, they have better mental focus.

Living life easily is an art. Some people become flustered every time they have an important task on hand, and their mind goes into overdrive. Being relaxed means being patient. This makes our speech and actions more mature and wise. It slows down the speed of our thoughts from the normal level of 25 a minute to 15-20 a minute, which increases our efficiency, enabling us to finish tasks faster.

Those who are relaxed enjoy their work as they do not feel burdened by it. In the absence of stress created by worry and overthinking, they also make fewer mistakes.

How does a laid-back attitude help during illness? Some people are alarmed by a minor ailment: they keep thinking and talking about it and end up feeling worse. Our state of mind affects the body — fear, anxiety and agitation sap our energy and reduce our immunity, making us more susceptible to disease and slowing our recovery. Remaining calm and positive, on the other hand, provides a psychological boost that moderates the force of the illness.

The same happens when we are faced with a difficulty. Instead of getting disturbed, if we quietly consider our situation, focusing on the possible solutions rather than the problem, we will find a way out of it.

Being easy and light makes for harmonious relationships. Such a person readily cooperates and adjusts to different kinds of people and circumstances. Because of their accommodativeness they make fewer demands, which also helps them get along with others. Even in a difficult relationship, a relaxed attitude helps us take harsh words or behaviour from others in our stride. Otherwise we can react immediately and make matters worse.

An easy-going nature, thus, makes our whole life easy, and brings success without any seeming effort.

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

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IT’S TIME TO TAKE A SPIRITUAL BREATH OF LIFE

Aruna Ladva

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Yoga and meditation have many principles in common. Yoga tends to deal with exercises that stretch and strengthen the body, and meditation focuses more on the spiritual aspects of life, and strengthening the soul. For each modality to be successful, one has to learn how to control the mind.

TAKING THE BREATH

We talk about the breath of life… and yes, this works on a physical level… without breathing there is no life! But what is the breath of mind? At a spiritual level the breath of mind relates to the quality of our thoughts and therefore our experience of life. Inhale positive and powerful energy, and breathe in love and peace. As we generate those high-vibration thoughts, we are more easily able to exhale and expel negative and stressful thoughts and emotions. We definitely do not want those toxins to linger in our body or mind in any form.

Breathing is a recognition of the presence of the life force… the soul…the being… and that ‘I am the soul’, the one who is experiencing life through matter, through this body. But what does it mean to breathe spiritually? It means to take in every moment that we spend with quality thoughts like love, appreciation and gratitude as these will be both powerful and energising for the soul.

Only that which we take in with love will be nourishing for the soul, just as with the food that we eat. Both the body and soul can more easily digest that which is both wholesome and healthy; this enables us to grow and flourish.

Anything toxic that we take into ourselves will only damage us. It is very important for us to spiritually breathe with our soul lungs, just as we breathe with the physical lungs. Therefore, we have to be very mindful to maintain our good health in body, mind and spirit.

LEARNING TO SIT IN SILENCE

The poses of hatha yoga are there to make the body physically flexible and adaptable… malleable…. These postures help us to build up our muscles; to tone the body and increase our overall stamina. Likewise, meditation makes the mind strong and healthy and makes us tolerant and adjustable. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to both, our diet for the body and our mind.

The power of silence enables the soul to take time out; to re-adjust and become re-centred; and to find our natural poise and balance. Just as with physical yoga, many postures require the soul to have great focus, and to concentrate the mind with determination. These are admirable qualities used to balance the body and mind.

KEEPING THE THIRD EYE OPEN

This is the inner eye of understanding, where we are looking from deep within, from the dimension of spirit. As we become familiar with our inner wisdom, then we will begin to live more naturally from this spiritual place.

When we appreciate and value the practice of meditation, the yoga of the mind, it means that we will be careful to pay attention to the nature and quality of our thoughts throughout the day. We will check and change those thoughts when necessary, because our aim in life is to maintain clarity and balance. Ultimately, we have a desire to be peaceful, healthy and happy.

From a spiritual perspective, and as a spiritual being, I know that innate virtues and specialities form the foundation of ‘who I am’. When I practice affirmations, it is like I am breathing life back into these virtues. When I remember my original nature of the ‘self’ as a spiritual being, as pure energy and light, then I can experience some of these eternal truths.

I am love…. I am light… I am peace… I am happy… I am joy… I am wise… I am strong… and eternally… I am…. Om Shanti… I am a peaceful soul….

Courtesy of itstimetomeditate.org

Aruna Ladva is an author and the director of Rajyoga meditation centres in Kuwait and Egypt.

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GOD’S ROLE IN THE DRAMA OF LIFE

Dadi Janki

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We leave our original home (the soul world), come into the drama of life and eventually we forget the plot. God never comes into the drama, and therefore does not ever forget the plot. Thus, it is He alone who can give us an understanding of the whole play.

Only God possesses such knowledge; only He can come and give it. This is why He is the Supreme Soul. He is beyond, He is different; He is unique. He is the Father, and He gives us new life.

God is wonderful, you know. Even though He is not in the drama, He has the complete knowledge of the drama. He does not have to experience it to know it. He does not have eyes, but He sees our experiences. He gives us recognition so that we can ‘see’ and know Him.

Just as a generator sits in one place, continuously sending out an electric current, so the Almighty Father keeps sending us spiritual power. And we receive it — if, that is, we are linked properly and have taken care that no part has blown its fuse.

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What does spiritual freedom mean?

Charlie Hogg

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In the world there are so many movements for the cause of freedom. Freedom is a deep need of each one of us. True freedom though is spiritual and means identifying and taking support from that which is permanent, that which always exists, that which is eternal.

I can only have and understand spiritual ability and power when I lay the foundation of my life on that which always exists — this is the way to deep spiritual freedom. If I hold on to anything temporary in this world, then that which I am dependent on will ultimately cause me suffering and sorrow in some form.

Spiritual power is lost through the network of ‘I’ and ‘my’ that we create and try to depend on. I look outside and depend on those things that give me temporary support. The ‘I’ of ego and the ‘my’ of dependency is like a sticky spider’s web and the paradox is, that the emptier and more insecure I feel, the more dependent I am on those things outside of me in the web, then the more trapped I feel. It is then that I call out to God to liberate me.

There are pulls, attractions and influences that I am dependent on. One is that I become dependent on a belief that I have of myself; that I am not really loveable, for example. Then even if I am shown love, I cannot really accept it because of the deep belief, on which I have come to depend, that I am not loveable.

God, though, sees the eternal reality of the soul. So, I have to break down these rigid, deeply held beliefs about my own limitations and take the support of One God only. This web, this creation and network I have created, has to be let go of. A spiritual journey is all about letting go. This needs a lot of courage. The intrinsic state of the soul is peace and freedom. This letting go of gross, subtle and refined dependence is the ultimate spiritual journey.

When I turn to God, then the gross dependence is easy to let go of, those things outside of me. It is the first big step. The next step is to become of service to others and become fully involved in serving, but this can also form another, more subtle form of dependence on the new relationships and activities. I begin to depend on this new image of myself, my role or position. To protect this new attractive image, I may begin to feel anger or jealousy. Because I value what I am doing, I fear it may be taken away from me. I may become defensive and territorial. I can tell if this is happening, because I will notice that I am not really happy.

Letting go and turning within I see that my mind is a sacred place, a still state of being, clean. I must not allow anything I see or hear, to penetrate this place and drive my thinking. Because this is also a dependence — to be under the influence of the power of the senses, of what the world is showing me. A true yogi sits in the sacred space of the mind and sees everything and hears everything and yet lets nothing enter or disturb that sacred space. They have become free of the dependence on the sense organs. Their mind is filled only with stillness and thoughts of what is eternal, permanent and always exists—God.

Charlie Hogg, based in Sydney, is the National Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris, Australia.

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Spiritually Speaking

WHAT SOUL REMEMBERS THE MIND MAY NOT

It is only through memory that we can discern the truth. For the truth is already within us, our true spiritual identity is already within us. Enlightenment is the process of remembering who we truly are.

Prashant Solomon

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H ave you ever seen something or met someone that looks and feels very familiar although you are 100% sure that you are seeing it or meeting them for the first time? Have you ever painted something purely from imagination but when you look at your creation, it looks profoundly familiar? We have various kinds of memories. Some things we remember mentally. This means that there is a clear reference point in our minds of things that we have very consciously experienced — maybe a person we knew in childhood, a book we read, a place we visited and so on. These memories are very matter of fact and their basic nature is mental. This means that they are very cerebral and logical and may not invoke any kind of feeling or emotion in us. 

Then some memories are triggered by some form of energy, the most common being either a visual or sound energy that can instantly trigger not only one but an entire stream of memories that are generally very emotional. They are full of feelings. These are memories like nostalgia for the past and dreams for the future. Sometimes hearing just a particular sequence of music can awaken memories from an entire period of life like school, college, vacations, and so on. Sometimes this particular song or music may not even have any connection to the particular memory or memories it evokes. It is just that a particular energy unlocks something in our minds that we cannot really explain. These could be referred to as emotional or energetic memories as these are the things that trigger these sorts of memories.

Are all our memories from our mind or emotions or things that happened in this current physical life? What about memories that people have from past lives? Some people remember things, people and events from their past lives. There are many cases reported of young children who remember who they were and the people and places from their past lives and some of these children have even visited their past life families. 

For the past 20 years, Dr Jim Tucker, now the director of the Division of Perceptual Studies, has focused mainly on cases found in the United States. His book ‘Return to Life’ offers accounts of very strong American cases of young children who remember previous lives. In this book, Dr Tucker writes about the now well-known cases of James Leininger, a young boy who had verifiable past-life memories of being a WWII pilot, and Ryan Hammons, who had verifiable memories of being a Hollywood extra and talent agent.

So are our memories simply confined to our neurons or do they reside in a much vaster, eternal and non-physical web of information? Our minds are not necessarily a construct of our brain. The brain may just be a mechanism through which the eternal mind is stepped down to the level of this physical world and through which the human body is controlled. Kind of like the cockpit of an aeroplane. The cockpit is where a plane is controlled, but it is the pilot who is actually flying the plane. This pilot is not really a part of the cockpit itself but a representative of the intelligent lifeform that designed the aircraft. 

Memory has been written about for millennia. In his autobiographical account called ‘Confessions’ written in the 4th century A.D., Saint Augustine talks about the vastness and power of memory as “a spreading limitless room within me”. Memory is the seat of human self-transcendence, despite being that part of the soul where the individual is most deeply his or her individual self. “Who can reach memory’s utmost depth? Yet it is a faculty of my soul and belongs to my nature. I cannot totally grasp all that I am. The mind is not large enough to contain itself.” In both its nonmateriality and in its self-transcendence, human memory is an indwelling analogy of God. Augustine asks, how does man find God? First, he turns to God’s creation, his mighty world. God made them but is not of them. 

Having exhausted external possibilities, Augustine turns inwards, to the soul. He goes beyond the vital force which we share with other living things, past consciousness through which they and he possess sense-perception until he reaches a place uniquely human “the fields and vast palaces of memory.” Here Augustine sees that man is truly made in God’s image, for human thought, human memory is purely non-material. The memory of an object displaces no volume. Mental life, like God, is purely spiritual. Indeed the vastness and power of memory is “a spreading limitless room within me,” says Augustine. So while Augustine talks about the mental nature of thought and memory, there is another aspect of memory that is even higher and goes beyond just the pure mental nature into a sphere of higher emotion and feeling. This is the spiritual nature of memory.

As Rumi said, “The soul has been given its own ears to hear things that the mind does not understand.” Have you ever felt a oneness, a connectedness with everything? A lot of people have. Sometimes there is really no logic to this. You meet someone that you consciously know you have never met before, but yet you feel a deep familiarity and liking towards them. You go to a place where you feel like you have been before, yet you know you have not been there. You paint a picture of a place that exists only in your imagination. These are examples of what could be spiritual memories from another life or memories of the other side (where we will return after our physical incarnation is over).

We retain deep-seated memories that we are not consciously aware of. These memories may not immediately be remembered by us. In today’s world dominated by mental processes and information, there is too much noise and mental chatter. To access spiritual memories, switch off the chatter and give more attention to your feelings and emotions. Your feelings are telling you something. Maybe they give hints about your life’s true purpose or about some spiritual task that you need to do. Give more attention to your emotions as emotions are the language of the soul and can only be experienced through the heart. 

The most powerful memory which is also the most deeprooted is that memory of oneness and connectedness. It goes right to the creation itself when we were all one and together in the bosom of the creator before we began our eternal adventure. The adventure itself is to go out into the universe over multiple incarnations and learn and grow as souls as we try to return to where we came from – our Source or God. The process of returning is an adventure and memory plays an important part. It is only through memory we can discern the truth. For the truth is already within us, our true spiritual identity is already within us but we have only forgotten. Enlightenment is the process of remembering who we truly are.

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi based author and businessman.

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BEYOND WORDS AND LANGUAGE LIES THE TRUTH

Arun Malhotra

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A man is not miserable. But he thinks that he is miserable and surrounded by miseries. He has endowed happiness but he has been conditioned to be unhappy as he has been conditioned to succeed others in a rat race of a lifetime. To succeed and do better than what others are doing, he becomes poorer by what he seeks. He seeks to succeed, be rich, powerful, and positioned on a big seat. So he stands in a long queue all his life trying to outpace others that make him miserable as others have already reached where he wants to reach.

You are happy but if you think that somebody has built a bigger business or assumed a better position than you that can make you miserable as you still haven’t had that. You want to collect a lot of things around you and these things define you. Man lives in the world of things. Your possessions are your definitions and reflections of your own self. In fact, man lives in a dilemma. He wants to retain things because in things he finds certainty. A thing that he has now will certainly be there tomorrow. He becomes master of these things. It is said that a bird in the hand is better than the two in the bush as a bird in the hand cannot fly it is a certainty. You turn bird in hand into a thing. But birds in the bush may fly away. That’s the dilemma as man is not a thing. You turn people into things too like your spouse, family, and friends.

The moment you define something, it becomes a thing. Lao Tzu has said that every word is a lie. So every written or spoken word is essentially a lie as the definition is never defined. Even what you call things are also not dead things. Things are constantly changing. Things are utilitarian but your presence and your sense of ownership turn them into things. You call them your things. Things are independent things. Things are also beings. Buddha has said that ‘one day every stone will become a being.’ Remember things don’t endorse your slavery but you perceive them under your slavery. They are simply things in existence as free as anything or being. They are not aware of being slaves to you but you are aware of you being their ruler. Beyond words, you can turn things into independent beings that is what is meant by being one with existence. 

Humans can communicate in words spoken and written. Well-known linguist Noam Chomsky has said that ‘language structure is hardwired in a kind of universal grammar in our brains and our brain is not that blank slate on which experience writes.’ A small child with few words grows up to become a scholar not by experience but just by processing accelerated thoughts. Sigmund Freud has said that ‘people talk as they want to hide something from others.’ Language becomes a tool to hide your real self and it does not let you reveal what you actually are. In silence, you run the risk of revealing what you are. If language goes away, all your possessions will get dropped. You cognise things around you and define them in language. The human faculty of language is built up by our needs to cognise things around us for thousands of years.  

To say something, the other or opposite is needed. Human languages define everything in relation to others. Like if we say what is God, we need to define God by probably something that is anti-God or demon. In fact, language is the progenitor of lies and our miseries because to define something we have to use the opposite but things are not opposite. They are relative. For example, to define health, we say when there is no disease. Health is defined by a disease and are relative. Only a healthy can be diseased. It is two points of the same thing. Like day and night. The night is there because of day and the day is there because of night. The day comes when the night ends and the night ends when the day dawns. Happiness is defined by misery. Without misery, happiness has no meaning. Summer and winter are two points of the same thing. A child and an old man are not the opposite but the child becomes old. Sound and silence are not opposite but one relative occurrence. In sound, silence comes and in silence sound emanates. Rule and chaos are not opposite they are two points of the same thing. Language limits things rigidly, it gives definition and name to things to divide them.

Therefore, Lao Tazu calls words lies. Someone went to Sheikh Farid and asked him, “what is truth?” Farid told him that “truth cannot be said but can be felt. It can only be felt when you want to feel it.” To receive truth from the one who can escort you there without language. To know about God, language is needed. All religions call God as One. But what is One? Two is needed. Hindus, therefore, use the word advaita to talk about one which means ‘that which is not two’. 

Your whole life is just words and thoughts. Even your God is your thought. Buddha said that ‘whatever I say that I don’t say about what That-Which-Is is because that cannot be said in words.’ Further, he said that ‘I say it as at least I would be able to take you there from where you can reach a stage where you can reach nearest to the point where That-Which-Is is. So you can immerse into it and be it.’

Mind is ignorant. Words have no meaning. We have imputed meanings on words and made them loaded with meanings. Obviously, imputed meanings are not loaded with the truth. If imputed meanings are lost and we saw the truth as naked truth we will be surprised. Human languages are not that different than computer languages like words and meanings are imputed on binary digits and retrieved as an extension of human language. The human mind works as a language computer.  

Language is a mathematic comprehension that man has built through logic. Therefore, one is not able to know God by thoughts. Buddha said that ‘every thought will become a thing.’ Truth is as big as existence, and a lie is pedalled as truth. Language is a great tool to strengthen your ego because in disguise of truth it pedals lies. In fact, your self-consciousness is your ego. I am is the ego. When I-ness gets dropped and ‘am-ness’ remains that brings you to your being. Ego is a wound. You are living in a wound. This wound needs to be healed. When ‘am-ness’ dawns, you will be like oceans of this earth with no boundaries, Hindus call it Brahma. In that ‘am-ness’ you become one with existence and in that epiphany, That-Which-Is is revealed to you.

Existence is one. Existence is limitless. The universe does not end anywhere. That-Which-Is is One and not two. The universe is expanding and will always remain unknowable to man and that’s why Hindus call it Brahma.

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

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