Man’s life is like a dream. Man thinks that he is living, but in fact, he is only dreaming of living – like everyone else. But is life in reality just a dream of life? Why does Buddha ask us to be wakeful and Nanak ask us not to be forgetful?
The mind is constantly engaged in thought. We can call our thoughts fancier names like ‘the future’, ‘plans’ or ‘our vision’, but they are all just thoughts. The mind keeps jumping from one thought to the other, in an unending chain of thought. This chain of thought is what we call life. This chain eventually breaks one day when life ends.
Our mind monkeys around the whole day, even when we sleep at night – in dreams. This state of dreaming then continues in our waking state too. Dreaming goes on uninterrupted during the day. So, our minds are caught in a web of thoughts. If we decide to stop and witness the thoughts come and go, we would be surprised to realise the senselessness and uselessness of these thoughts and dreams.
We value our bouquet of thoughts greatly, attaching fancy names to them. But this is life for life’s sake — a life wasted in dreaming.
Thoughts begin in our minds for security. They are meant for a purpose, to be used by us. But, man ends up living in his mind. So, how do we get away from the mind and move into our inner being? First, understand that the mind is not us. The mind and body are not two things; they embody one and the same thing. When you entered the womb of your mother, there was neither body nor mind, but you were. So, the mind is a later phenomenon that came with the body. But today you are driven by your thoughts and your mind has become your master. But you have to have the whip in your hand.
Thoughts make you daydream — while walking, talking, seeing and hearing. The moment the mind, your master, picks up the whip, things are organised the way they ought to be. It is not that your senses or your mind have made you dream. You are in deep sleep. You are unconscious. So how can you expect your senses to keep you in a state of consciousness? It is like you have handed over your whip to the horses of the cart on which you are sitting. These horses are bound to make you go crazy.
The mind is momentary, ephemeral. It is fleeting in thought. It breeds sleep. Even if you are thinking of God, no light will dawn upon you. In the Diamond Sutra, Buddha says that if you look at your mind as it is, you will know that it is simple. Then why is man asleep? Are you aware of your own being? If you are aware of yourself, then who are you? The mind is like a mirror that reflects everything but it cannot reflect you. It is like an organic computer where you can feed information and make use of it, but it cannot be aware of the user. Scientists are toying with the idea of singularity. The human ego is the shadow of your real self. To be you, you have to be what you are. You have to be aware. This is also called self-remembering or self-actualization. It is to remember who you are, in whatever way you are living. Just remember that you are. Just remember who is living.
Life happens on the canvas of being. Being means the one who is in the present. There is no future of the being, there is no past of the being. Being is in newness and newness occurs in timelessness. Contrarily, man wants to find happiness in dreams of tomorrow. But life is here and will happen on the canvas of being. Dreams are bound to happen when you are not there in the being. You are living a false life with your ego and your ego is not the real you. It is a shadow in which you are trapped, in that gap between the real and unreal. This is how the world is made up of your dreams.
There are two ways of going beyond dreams. You have to practise dreamlessness. At night when you sleep, you should make a firm resolve that you will see the dream. And by and by, one day you will see the dream and you will realise that it is different from reality and you are just an observer of the dream. That would be your first step into the realm of wakefulness. In wakefulness you would be able to observe your ego, that it is just a tool with which you live in society, but you would not be captivated by it.
Another way you can attain dreamlessness is just by being. Just be. Ask yourself, ‘who am I?’ Ask this question and don’t answer in words. Let the answer emerge on its own, beyond words, as a feeling of ‘who I am’. That’s the answer that emerges from your feelings, not the thoughts imported from your mind. And when the answer emerges, embody it. Immerse yourself in that feeling of being. Do it repeatedly. The answer will come from your being and the whole being would be revealed to you. Then take a walk with it, see the world with it. Then while walking, talking, sitting, seeing and doing, remember that you are, remember who you are and who is walking and engaged in activity. Over time, by self-remembering you will attain your real self and the state of dreaming will disappear. You will meet real life in all its colours.
The author is a spiritual teacher and an advisor on policy, governance and leadership. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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DISCOVER YOUR INNER FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
As we become older and start worrying about ageing, many in today’s world try to keep their youth through many means. They may do physical exercises, eat healthier, or undergo medical procedures to reverse the signs of ageing on their face or body. Can meditation help us stay young?
Medical research is exploring ways to help us live longer and enhance our life. People are looking for a magic pill that would help us live another ten, twenty, or more years. Why? Because people feel that youth is the time of great power, beauty, strength, and courage. Our youth is a time in which we feel we can do practically anything that we want.
As we get older, we start to realise, “Oh, I can’t run as fast as I used to,” or “I’m not able to lift the same amount of weights as before!” All of a sudden we realise we can no longer do what we used to do.
In our youth, even if something cannot be done, we exercise and work hard to try to do it anyway. That is the time of strength. When we see our ability and strength passing away, it becomes difficult. That is the crisis most people have in their forties, fifties, sixties, or seventies. They wonder what is happening to them.
This stage comes to everyone because the ageing process is a part of life that each will one day experience. It is not only for one person. We are all going to hit the forties, the fifties, the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, or the hundreds, and the physical body is going to start to deteriorate. We need to be able to deal with this situation in the best possible manner.
Today, we may find through advances in medicine and technology that life seems to be a little easier than it used to be for the people who came one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred or more years ago. The human life span is also increasing due to better medications, our improved knowledge of what to eat, and the right way of living. We are learning how to live a more fulfilling, happier, and longer life. Yet still, we must ultimately reach the golden years of our life.
Can You Rejuvenate Your Youth?
Is there a way to rejuvenate our youth? While doctors are struggling to find a magic pill to do this by chemical means, there is a natural means of restoring new life. We can find this magic potion to prolong life, add vitality, and bring bubbling joy to our years.
Each wants to feel buoyant at all times. We do not want to be depressed, in sorrow or in pain. We want to be happy and blissful. There is a way out of all the sorrow in which we find ourselves.
Meditation Can Help You Discover Your Inner Fountain of Youth
There is a fountain of youth within us that can be found through meditation. When we take a dip in the inner fountain, we find that who we are inside, as soul, is eternal. The soul is always youthful and everlasting. Souls do not age. Thus, we are transformed and begin to identify not only with our physical body, which is subject to age but with our spiritual self that is ageless.
Whether we are middle-aged or aged, we are transformed through the power of meditation. It leads us to find our true self as a soul, which is ageless and forever young.
We will not need to depend on scientists to find the magic pill to bring youth into our life. Through meditation, we will find ourselves evergreen, and we can live in a perpetual state of happiness and joy
The author is the head of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE ULTIMATE SECURITY OF LIFE
On this earth whatever is done is done by consciousness. Unconsciously something is done, something else gets done. Consciousness is the centrality of life and being. Without this fundamental centrality, the earth would disintegrate. Man is also roped in the thread of consciousness. The embodiment of man is rendezvous of consciousness and matter passed through various stages of life. Man is an eternal chain of sequences set in motion by consciousness. Fuelled by the zest of billions of years, man is the epitome of rising consciousness.
Consciousness is one same thread that immerses everything and everything immerses into it. Consciousness consumes everything to overwhelm everything and everybody. We are nothing but consciousness. But we are fast asleep as we are forgetful of our conscious being on which life orbits. Creativity is pure consciousness. Thus whatever happens on this earth is to be done consciously. That which is not done consciously has no real value. It is said that people initiate to do something and when it reaches the ground opposite gets done. If you are a good lawyer, you would live every bit of your client’s case. It is only then that you can construct your client’s case consciously. If you are reading a book, you won’t get a word of it if you are not consciously reading it. Giving 100% into any work becomes creativity, seers call it love. When you are fully conscious of what you do, creativity is birthed.
Once you have learned something like driving, a language or a skill, doing the same thing, again and again, breeds artificiality. People get bored by doing one work so they switch jobs, businesses, spouses, cars, and brands. Boredom and monotony is bred. Creativity is always new and doesn’t let monotony breed. Once you have learnt and mastered a skill, you are skilful. Skill kills consciousness. To be skilful always, you need to use the skill as if you are doing something new. People keep doing things all life unconsciously. Without being conscious they live in thinking. Thinking breeds when you are fully unconscious. So your mind takes over and becomes the driver. You are the driver but when your mind takes control it becomes the driver. You become a robot, your life becomes robotic. You keep thinking in terms of not having enough. Because the mind is the default mode of you. So it needs you. It can only think. Thinking is not being in the being. Thinking begins when you are absent. Being absent, man thinks that man lives. Man thinks that he is living life by waking up daily and going to work and sleeping in the night. And then he laments it a life full of monotony. It brings him back to the trap of artificiality of mind. In reality, the mind lives in thinking. The mind makes us live in thoughts. Our life becomes thoughts. We become thought of our mind. We become the thinker of our thought of life. That makes us not being in the life. We are the mere thinker of our thought of life.
When we are in life, we be in life. In being in life, we exist in life and life exists in us. When we consciously sit at the seat of our existence then we become who we are. When I am not, my embodiment, my language, and my mind disintegrate and disappear. That’s an open secret laid open on our tables. But the mind is a tool built to avoid reality—the truth.
When God immerses into you as consciousness. Existence dawns upon you when your being become wakeful of that existence and that which exists in you as you is the one. When this marriage happens existence immerses in you.
When we do something creative we create something new. That newness is consciousness. That newness is love. Poets write poetry. Skilful poets don’t fathom the depths of oceans but play with words. Those who do not know the skill of writing but move into the heart of existence fathom the depths of thousands of oceans—the depths of the truth.
Skill is monotony. Monotony happens in the mind. Logic brings monotony that is part of the time. Logic is a set-up of mind. It lives in time and does all that it could do in time. To define logic, we say it is the opposite of illogic or insane or irrational. Both logic and illogic are two degrees of the same thing. That which cannot be written by logic if that is said to have somehow articulated within boundaries of language to express that which cannot be expressed in words and logic, then, it inspires those who are on the journey towards that which cannot be expressed by words or logic. That which is beyond words, logic and time.
Consciousness is the key to awakening. You can step on the journey of language to attain what cannot be said in the end—to be one with existence. To reach from the side of time you need to have pure intelligence of Buddha. Awakening that happened to Buddha, the awakened one, happened by walking towards the unknown through logic, language and science.
When a child is born. He is born from the side of existence into this world. You saw small children playing with the ball. They throw far and far and play. For them, it is not the ball. The ball is the ball of whole existence in hands that they can throw far. Throwing is an expression of the unknown existence that exists in them. Existence teems in them. Existence exuberates in them.
It begins with a child living in the joy of his being, that is, like being in the joy of existence when he is one with the existence. In that joy of being one is nothing but simply existence. Things of the world do not matter to him. But society breeds a mind that belittles his being. Society tells him you are born to be something in society. He forgets himself. The host in him on which the society and senses inhabit fades away. A societal alternative ‘mind’ takes shape.
All this happens because we don’t believe our consciousness. We don’t believe us. We don’t believe what we are. Therefore our mind thinks of the future. What the future will be? What will happen and we make a provision that what will happen tomorrow if something wrong happens. That is our weakness that is our dilemma. We want to repeat history. Because there is security. We are running after security. Our mind is insecure. Remember, our consciousness is the supreme security and all else is insecure. But our mind keeps thinking in terms of security. And the mind cannot create security. Consciousness is the ultimate security of life. We are born with it. Thus always be wakeful of your consciousness or be conscious of your wakefulness.
The author is a spiritual teacher.
THE GLORIOUS STORY OF TULASI DEVI
If someone sows a Tulasi plant somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna. And when the Tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of the love of Godhead.
Srimati Tulasi devi is one of the most exalted devotees of Sri Krishna. All scriptures stress on the importance of getting the mercy of Tulasi devi if one has to make progress in devotion. In the Skanda Purana, it is said: ‘Tulasi is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, touching, remembering, praying to, bowing before, hearing about or sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the Tulasi tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuntha world.’
Above this material world is the eternal spiritual world comprising millions of Vaikuntha planets. The topmost planet in Vaikuntha is Goloka presided by Sri Krishna in His original form. Here resides Vrinda devi, an intimate associate of and an expansion of Srimati Radharani. Her partial expansion is Tulasi devi in the Vaikuntha planets and they are all considered non-different from her.
Vrinda devi is the organiser of all the transcendental pastimes between Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. In Goloka, everything is animate and for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. Vrinda devi is assisted by many confidential associates (which include two parrots) and with their help, she ensures everything is pleasing to Sri Krishna. MANIFEST VRINDAVANA
Five thousand years ago when Sri Krishna descended on Earth, Vrinda devi created the proper environment for His pastimes in Vrindavana. Millions of years before the descent of Sri Krishna, Vrinda devi had appeared as the daughter of Emperor Kedera. Then she performed penances for sixty thousand years. Pleased by her penances, Lord Vishnu gave the benediction that any austerities performed in Vrindavana would be very potent. Thus Vrinda devi sanctified the place and it got the name Vrindavana. Later Vrinda devi once again descended as Tulasi devi, daughter of King Kushadvaja, to perform penances and attain perfection here.
PASTIMES OF RADHA-KRISHNA
Vrindavana is under the control of Vrinda devi. Without her mercy, it is not possible to approach the confidential pastimes of Radha-Krishna. Even being allowed into Vrindavana dhama indicates that one has received some mercy from Vrinda devi. In Krishna lila, she appeared as a young gopi friend of Srimati Radharani. Under the instructions of Purnamasya (Yogamaya), she would arrange a secret meeting between Krishna and Radha. She would make all the material arrangements for Radha Krishna. Thus she carried on her eternal service in Goloka Vrindavana in the earthly Vrindavana. Once Srimati Radharani was so pleased by the service of Vrinda devi that with the help of the other gopis she arranged a magnificent throne and had Krishna and Vrinda devi sit on it. Lalita sakhi, acting as the priest, recited the mantras and performed the marriage ceremony of Krishna and Vrinda devi. Thus by the mercy of Srimati Radharani, Vrinda devi got Krishna. In another pastime, Vrinda devi offered all the forests of Vrindavana to Srimati Radharani. Thus Radharani is also known as Vrindavaneshwari.
TULASI DEVI BECOMES A PLANT
Pastimes involving pure devotees are only for the benefit of conditioned souls in the material world. This pastime, given in the Padma purana and in the Brahma-vaivarta purana involving Tulasi devi reveals this clearly. Once Tulasi devi descended as the daughter of King Kushadvaja. She was married to Jalhandara. Samudra deva, the demigod controlling the nether regions, had Lakshmi devi as a daughter (since she appeared from him at the time of the churning of the ocean) and Jalandara (one who is born from water). Jalandara was married to Tulasi devi and drew strength from her purity and chastity. So firm was her chastity that even Lord Shiva could not defeat Jalandara in battle and all the demigods went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu went to Tulasi devi assuming the form of her husband. When Tulasi devi greeted Him, thinking Him to be her husband, her chastity was momentarily broken. Taking advantage of this, the demigods killed Jalandara. When Tulasi devi understood what happened, Lord Vishnu revealed His original form. An enraged Tulasi devi cursed Lord Vishnu for His stone-hearted behaviour to become a stone. Lord Vishnu accepted this curse and promised to appear as the Saligrama shila in the Gandika river (now in Nepal). He also gave Tulsai devi the benediction that she will eternally reside with Him as His consort in Vaikuntha. He said she will assume the form of a plant which will be most auspicious for anyone performing devotional service. Thus devotees never offer anything to Krishna without a Tulasi leaf. He always adorns Himself with a Tulasi garland. Laksmi, is sometimes envious of the Tulasi leaves which are placed at the lotus feet of the Lord, for they remain fixed there and do not move, whereas Laksmi, although stationed by the chest of the Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favour. Laksmi sometimes has to go to satisfy her devotees but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord appreciates the service of the Tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.
TULASI AS THE SOURCE OF BHAKTI
The scriptures are full of pastimes that reveal the potency of Tulasi in developing devotion for the Lord. The Srimad Bhagavatam talks about this pastime with the four Kumaras, the sons of Lord Brahma, who were very much attached to the impersonal aspect of Godhead. ‘When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves and saffron from the lotus feet of the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead entered through the nostrils into the hearts of those sages (the Kumaras), they experienced a change in body and mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding.’ Thus by simply smelling the fragrance of the Tulasi leaves the four Kumaras became pure devotees of the Lord.
In Caitanya lila, Srila Advaita Acarya was disturbed to see the growth of irreligiosity. Thus He decided to call for Lord Krishna to descend by worshipping the Lord with tulasi leaves and the water of the Ganges. When Sri Krishna was pleased by this devotion He descended as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Haridasa Thakura, a great devotee of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, purified a prostitute who had come with the intention of seducing him with instructions to chant the holy name and worship Tulasi. She became so elevated by this service that even great Vaishnavas would come to get her mercy.
GLORIES OF TULASI DEVI
Quoting from the Gautamiya-tantra, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa states:
jalasya culukena va
vikrinite svam atmanam
‘Sri Krishna, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers merely a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.’ In the Nectar of Devotion, service to Tulasi is glorified as one of the items of devotional service. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.19), it is said that although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakesara, bakula, lily, and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by tulasi, for tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with tulasi leaves.
In the Skanda Purana, there is a statement praising the Tulasi tree: ‘Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities.’ Simply by seeing or touching this tree, one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraja. If someone sows a tulasi plant somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna. And when the tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of the love of Godhead. Gaurangasundar Das is Iskcon, Inc Communication Director and SM IT head.
A PURE MIND CAN SERVE WITHOUT LIMITS
Political leaders, religious figures, and scientists are among those generally regarded as important people. There is another class of persons who are respected, and revered, by even these VIPs. It is those with a pure heart and an elevated mind.
These are the souls people turn to for spiritual guidance, moral counsel and comfort during difficult times. Honesty, peace, and generosity are their hallmarks. Their love for service makes even difficult tasks easy for them, and with their inspired efforts they achieve what others see as impossible.
Because of their qualities, these souls, who have trust in their convictions, are able to do what more hard-headed types cannot. For this reason, on the spiritual path too they are able to come close to the Divine. This is why God is sometimes called the Innocent Lord – the innocent find Him more easily than the intellectuals given to reasoning and analysis.
Since their intellect is not bound by the deceptions of ego or limitations born of selfishness, these individuals are able to think, perceive, and accept what others cannot. This enables them to make the leap of faith and experience the rewards thereof – the stability, peace, and joy that come from feeling a closeness to God and knowing that one has His support.
They do not keep their attainments to themselves, but share their spiritual wisdom, virtues and strength by offering others help, encouragement, and inspiration with their conduct.
It is not for them to judge, criticise, or reject someone who has made a mistake. No one is too distant or too little for them. With discernment and empathy, they offer support wherever it is needed. Just as the VIPs of the world make it a point to send their good wishes if they are unable to attend a programme, these special souls extend their goodwill and pure feelings to even those who are far away. Their cooperation is not conditional on receiving acknowledgement or praise. They are just content to subtly serve in any way they can, and reap the fruit of that in the form of immense satisfaction and joy at having done something good.
This is what is called unlimited service – spreading waves of happiness, zeal and enthusiasm, offering hope to the hopeless, and giving courage and strength to those who live with fear and worry.
Service is a labour of spiritual love for these souls, and it brings them amazing returns, turning strangers into friends, critics into admirers, and life into a celebration of goodness.
B.K. Atam Prakash is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.
The mind has an influence on the body, and vice versa. The two work together; neither side can be ignored. Taking medicine is not wrong in principle; what is wrong is to attend only to the body and ignore the mind. If there is a need for medicine, then take it, but be careful that you do not let it be a support and become dependent.
When the mind is kept free from tension and worry, sleep comes naturally. Or, even if you cannot sleep, there will be such peace and calm that you will still feel refreshed.
Learn to be your own spiritual doctor. Whatever the nature of an illness – heart problems, cancer, or simply intense pain – it is through the power of remembrance of God that illness can be overcome. This will also protect you from the negative things your friends and even doctors might say about your health. Sometimes, even just hearing about another’s illness makes people worry about getting it themselves.
If there is something wrong with you, worrying about it and spreading your worry to others will only aggravate your ill health. So even if the body is sick, learn how to let the mind simply remain in the remembrance of God. If there is even a trace of worry, no cure can be effective.
THE HEALING POWER OF SILENCE
The starting point of the healing power of silence is our thoughts. Thoughts are extremely powerful; indeed, since we speak and act according to the quality of our thoughts, they create the world around us. Generally, each of us has about thirty-six thousand thoughts per day. Some days there are many more — as the day gets more and more tense, there might be thirty-six thousand thoughts an hour. How fast the mind works! It is like a machine. But we have forgotten that we are in charge of this machine; we can determine the speed with which it moves and the direction it takes.
Yes, we can decide in which direction the thoughts go, and we can determine the quality and speed of those thoughts too. Mostly, we are not aware of this and so the machine is taken over by external influences. We see or hear something or someone, and we react, forgetting that we have independence and choice. No matter what is going on outside, we can choose our thoughts, and the more we understand and practise this understanding, the easier it becomes to remain calm, understand what we need to do, and act accordingly.
This thought-control process begins with silence. When you practise silence, you can transform yourself from the ‘headless chicken’ constantly reacting inappropriately, to someone who is master of his or her thoughts. This does not take months to achieve — it can happen in the space of a day! When you master your thoughts, you can start to create beautiful, powerful and pure thoughts, and you can also create the space between those thoughts that allows you to tap into the healing power of your own inner silence.
The key to this is to ‘quarantine’ your mind with silence for twenty minutes every morning and evening. Each morning, before beginning your day, stop and become silent – fill your mind with quietness and peace, with a loving attitude. During the day this quietness and peace will transform into clarity and attentiveness. As you travel through your day, watch how your mind loses this quietness and becomes full of haste, reacting with twists, jumps and spins at any moment in any place and with anyone. When you notice your mind rebelling in this way, allow yourself to stop and replenish your quietness and peace. Do this as often as you wish or need. It may take just a second of silence for you to regain your equanimity, or it may take a minute or two. By returning to quietness and remembering your original peace, you will quickly regain your clarity and attentiveness.
The founder of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Prajapita Brahma, found this topic of the inner argument between the self and the mind absorbing. He kept a journal recounting his progress, and it reads like a manifesto for all of us setting out to live quieter and less stressed lives. One of the extracts reads…
“So, Mind, your revolutionary days are over. And, furthermore, every hour, for just a minute, I’ll check on what you are doing and where you are going”
The late Anthony Strano was an author and Rajyoga teacher with the Brahma Kumaris.
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