Life is a movement, and change is programmed into it. Change is not like trees wishing to be rocks or vice versa—change is like walking two miles to get to childhood, four miles to become youthful and another four miles till you meet old age and then four more miles later, death. Change goes on. If you have lived your life in the ‘being’, you will meet death blissfully, accepting it as any other change in life. But if you have lived life by not being there, death will make you wonder who lived your life in your place.
Your mind keeps on thinking: What is life? It wants to define life. It says, life is a mystery or like a lake, a cliff or an ocean. The mind wants to hang on to words so it can find a definition. The mind keeps arguing about such definitions so it can go about blindfolded. But life does not have a definition and it is never defined. Life cannot be held captive in a painting by an artist or be embodied as the lyrics of a poet. You were there before you were in the womb, you were there from the cradle to the pyre, and you are going to be there after your body dies. You are the watcher of your body and mind. You are the experiencer of the experience that you are. You are the experience yourself, and you can know it only by experiencing it, not by reading any scriptures.
Who is man and what does he want? These questions keep on springing inside the mind of the man. If we sum up what man seeks on earth, we can say that man seeks ‘change’. Man wants to bring change by bringing about a revolution. He wants to live the change that will come through revolution. He wants to create and raise something new. In fact, man wants to bring about revolution to acquire something from which he thinks he is deprived of: something that will change him or make him happy or make him immortal. In most cases, one wishes to bring change by getting wealth, because they think that by getting wealth they will get all that can be gotten, like God’s paradise will be theirs. Money is a utility for living life, for making a habitat out of consumption, but money by itself is not the essence of that by getting which everything is gotten.
So, remember, if your revolutionary change is towards worldly possessions, that you think will bring change in your life, you will be unfounded. This way you turn change towards wrong directions, like the revolution to change a regime or system will only beget another regime without any real change, because the revolution is being used by the same mindset. Anyone who is out of power calls for change, and when in power, dubs revolution as anarchy. This is how revolutions never beget change but only precede further revolutions.
What then is change and what is revolutionary change in life? It is that which is to be revolutionized and changed. In fact, that which cannot be changed by revolution has to be changed. Understand it like this: the mind wants to change that which cannot be changed by revolution, so the ultimate freedom is when you know by experience that what you wish to change cannot be changed. That is a revolution. That which cannot be changed and remains unchangeable is the door to freedom. Removing the falsehoods from life is freedom and that is the unchangeable change. You are unchanged, and you realise it not by believing but by knowing. In India, when a person dies, everyone chants, “Ram Naam Satya Hai”. But by knowing that ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’, you bring about change by revolution in your being.
Keeping aside our own selves, we want to acquire it all in the world, lay our hands on everything but ourselves. But that which is ours—our being—acquiring that is like begetting our being. If we get to ourselves and beget it, we would realise that we had never lost it. We beget the same being that we already have, that we never disowned or quit its ownership or that there is no way that we can abandon it. So, there is no point in being a beggar. Declare that you are the titleholder of your being, not the slave of your mind, and you will be the master of your being. Let the lion roar.
When you walk on the ground, you think of the past. When you speak, you observe. While listening, you judge. While eating, you don’t eat, you plan things. While singing, you also listen. While crying, you lament and pity. In laughing, you show supremacy. While thinking, you rage. You think that you would be far from here, somewhere in the seventh sky, where God will come and bless you as the chosen one and give you everything that you wish for, and then you will be happy, but you don’t know what it is. Once you possess the possessions, they become fears. You begin to run the risk of losing them. You don’t feel those possessions give you a feeling of joy, the joy of being. There is nothing up there in the seventh sky—it is all here. The joy of being is here. So, if you are here, be here. Be here. Sit down. If you want to take a walk, then take a walk in a way that you do not simply walk, you become the walk.
Change is wakefulness. It is waking up from the deception of staying asleep and unconscious. The moment you wake up, change happens by revolution, and that which had been unchangeably unchanged, you find it in front of you, totally wakeful, staring right into you and through you. That is the moment you realise that you have come home and that you have become the axis on which revolve not only your body and mind, but the very changing universe around us.
The writer is a spiritual coach and an independent advisor on policy, governance and leadership. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE MERCIFUL?
All religions have their own beliefs and principles, but they have one thing in common — their adherents seek compassion or blessings.
Compassion is regarded as the essence of every religion. If someone is lacking in kindness, or is not compassionate, they are not considered religious. Religion is equated with compassion.
The foremost quality of a spiritual or religious person is kindness — towards the self, the people they come in contact with, and the world at large. We need to ask ourselves if we are always kind and merciful with everyone, or does our kindness vary from person to person.
Who needs kindness? One who is weak, deprived, or in some kind of bondage. Such persons wish to be treated kindly and mercifully, and even if they have no such desire, a generous person will have good wishes for them.
A kind and charitable attitude can melt even a stone-hearted person. It can turn enemies into friends. But for that one must have compassion, a quality that is very much in need today.
The sign of a compassionate soul is that they will be virtuous and humble. They will also be generous. Being kind and merciful with others when they need it can resolve many interpersonal issues.
Those who are magnanimous do not expect anything from others; they give love and respect unconditionally. They do not count how many times they have been nice to someone. “They were rude to me, so I responded in kind”, “They did this, that is why I reacted that way” — these are not the words of a large-hearted soul.
Being merciful means to be kind to everyone regardless of what they are like or how they speak or behave.
B.K. Geeta is a senior Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan
MAHA SHIVRATRI: THE MOST MOMENTOUS DAY IN THE CALENDAR
Festivals of all kinds are days of celebration. However, religious festivals are also memorials. They are a reminder and a celebration of greatness, be that of an event or a person. To someone from the west, India seems like the very land of festivals! A cornucopia of colour, joy, music and even reverence and sometimes solemnity. However, to the discerning eye, one festival shines like a beacon above all of the others, Maha Shivratri.
It is a festival of hope. It is a festival bringing the promise of light and the end of darkness, the beginning of spring, and renewal.
Most cultures across the world have some way of welcoming spring after the desolation of winter, but in India it is very different. This particular festival is celebrated by Hindu communities, wherever they may be, but the memorial is of Shiva, the Supreme Father of all souls, first making Himself known in Bharat. Perhaps those who grow up celebrating this day never question the wonder of that. To someone from the west it is astonishing, because it means that this incorporeal Father Shiva, the Supreme Benefactor Soul, the Father of all of us souls, must have definitely come at some point, or this memorial would not exist.
This Supreme Soul must have actually appeared here on Earth, and that too in India, to bring an end to a world of darkness, of suffering, of sorrow, of confusion, and bring forth a world of peace and beauty.
The world we live in now could hardly be darker than it is or hold more suffering than it does. There could be no time more in need of the reappearance of such a Divine Being.
It could be said that this festival has been celebrated since ‘time immemorial’, that it began so long ago that no one can remember how it began. Of course, if time is linear, then casting the mind back to recall an event of this magnitude would be almost, if not certainly, impossible. However, if time is cyclical, the end will reach the beginning, and scenes that have only been remembered will actually be witnessed again.
Could it not be, that it is now that the most significant and powerful event in the whole wonderful story of humanity is re-enacted? It seems like a very good time to consider that possibility.
Jane Kay is a university teaching fellow in the UK, and a Rajyoga teacher.
TRUTH, COURAGE BRING THE POWER TO FACE CHALLENGES
There are so many things we have to face in our lives each day. Situations which feel insurmountable and beyond our control, fear of what might happen, attacks and insults. Then there is the inner weakening – feeling a lack of self-worth, and doubt in the self’s ability to deal with things. Yet when we invoke, awaken and develop the power to face, then no situation becomes too fearsome to handle.
The power to face sees the emergence of the feeling that, no matter what, I will be able to overcome this and transform through this. It can be called faith, and behind it is courage and truth. Courage is a close companion of truth. If there is truth, I can sustain a high level of courage. If there is no truth, there is no courage; if there is no courage, there is no power to face and then I become overwhelmed with worry, stress, anxiety. Eventually, illness develops.
The challenges that we have to face in life are, in fact, tests of our resolve, our limits and the boundaries of our capabilities. For external situations there are skills we can develop to handle them; ‘hard skills’ or ‘sub-skills’ and ‘soft skills’ as they are often referred to.
However, these skills are also rooted in how we feel about ourselves. This is where one of the most difficult terrains to negotiate lies; that of the internal. If I do not recognise that my feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt and self-criticism are weaknesses, then they will rob me of my dreams.
I need to understand that challenges are like test papers at school — and when I pass the exams, I graduate. So, I need to reframe the context of life; understand that everything is accurate, the cards I am dealt are the cards that I have.
So, where is the truth? What is the meaning within what is happening right now?
These are tough, important questions to ask the self and it needs the power to face. The power to face also has a companionship with many other powers; it cannot work alone. For example, if I do not have the power to discern, I cannot see what is true and what is not true. If I cannot see what is true, then I cannot employ the power to face. Cultivating the other spiritual powers enhances the capacity to face.
This is why meditation is so important. Meditation gives us deep understanding of the self and is often referred to as a kind of fire. This fire ignites the faith to be able to bring the answers to those questions out into the open so they can be looked at with compassion and honesty and can be cleaned and transformed.
It is in this fire of courage and truth that dark can become light and alloy become gold. I will also be able to see my weaknesses and strengths. Recognising these strengths will help me resolve the weaknesses.
Meditation helps us to build reserves of patience, tolerance, compassion and mercy that allow transformation to happen safely and quietly. It gives insights and helps the soul to fully understand the eternal.
I am a soul having a human experience, and the more this becomes a fully realised truth, the more I experience deep stability, and fear finishes. The fear created by the false ego, the identification of the self as a physical body, disappears, because it is not real.
I need to practise this awareness of being an eternal being of light in meditation every day, and at various times during the day. This practice of silence will bring honesty, and a loving and compassionate heart to be able to exercise my power to face.
Gopi Patel is a spiritual educator and senior Rajyogi meditator with the Brahma Kumaris, specialising in spiritual pragmatism in all areas of life.
WE GET RESPECT ACCORDING TO OUR BEHAVIOUR
People like to be shown respect; many believe it to be a right. However, as in the case of most rights, there is responsibility attached to it. This responsibility needs to be understood in order for us to become worthy of respect.
True respect does not come from what we do, as much as how we do it. This means that we are shown respect according to the virtues and qualities revealed though our behaviour.
Respect is not a matter of supply and demand. On the contrary, if people pick up that we are even slightly in need of respect, they will usually turn away from us completely. This is because the need to be respected indicates a gap somewhere in our sense of self — and most people are so busy trying to fill their own gaps, they get annoyed at the prospect of having to fill someone else’s.
Be suspicious of any desire on your part for respect. Indeed, such thoughts are a sure sign that no one is going to give it to you anyway. The very act of trying to get respect from others proves you to be unworthy of it.
Spiritual growth depends on awareness
Spiritual growth is a journey, and it is dependent on the experiences, either momentary or prolonged, of spiritual awareness, or it could be called enlightenment. These experiences are essential for growth and yet sometimes we do not even acknowledge them, or they pass us by, unexplored. Sometimes of course, they have an extraordinary impact, and instantly move us forward on our journey.
Spiritual enlightenment has a purpose; it is for the introduction to the soul, the real being, the loving and peaceful self. It is also for the union of the soul with the Supreme Soul. In this connection the soul is free from fear, darkness and pain. Finally, it is for the realisation of the role I play on this world stage, the drama of the circle of life.
So, we need to make ourselves open to and aware of the moments of spiritual enlightenment that come our way, often based on the efforts we make, but often like a powerful gift and message, unasked for.
When we are open and become aware of these moments, or even the sustained experiences in meditation, we need to be curious about what is happening. We need to explore the experience, initially on the level of thought.
For example, there may be the thought that I am experiencing deep peace of a kind different from that which I have been aware of before. Then I can absorb this thought into a deep feeling of peace and let it emanate from me, as this is what I really am. I become that experience.
Once the soul begins to have experiences of this kind and becomes aware of its own light and power, then there is a growing understanding of the source of all spiritual energy, the Supreme Soul, God.
This awareness deepens the connection, in meditation, with that being, the Parent, the Teacher, the Guide, and the deeper and more frequent the connection, the more the experiences of enlightenment and the more the spiritual growth.
Experiences of enlightenment then, bring the realisation of the soul, of God, the Supreme Soul, and the further, the understanding of the role the soul plays. I realise I am an actor on this world stage. The body is the costume, and the director is the Supreme Soul. Then I become a true star of light and peace.
Gayatri Naraine represents the Brahma Kumaris at the United Nations in New York.
GREED BEGETS MORE GREED AND ONLY LEADS TO TROUBLES IN LIFE
Greed makes man run after profits in life but end up only with a sense of loss each time. In order to truly earn riches and live to the fullest, we must learn from Buddha and not be motivated by greed in life.
When man is born, he is born in the fullness of his own being. Size does not matter because it changes with time. But the very reason that man is born is because he lacks something. His desire wants him to live. His birth lends him the opportunity to accomplish what he yearns for. But most men end up creating more unfulfilled desires which keep on lending them new births, making them go in circles. Eventually, most men die unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
However, Buddha was different. Buddha was born to the wealthiest family in the land. His parents were warned that the boy would become an ascetic and all precautions were observed accordingly. But when Sidhartha Gautam saw an old, diseased man and a dead man, he left the kingdom in search of the truth and went on to be blessed with all that man desires.
Desires lead to thoughts. You become part of the rat race. You want money so you can fulfil desires in the future instantly, so that poverty does not create a gap between desire and its fulfilment. This makes you greedy. Greed becomes an innate state of the mind. One begins to look at everything in life with greed. Life becomes a game of profit and loss. You start thinking that life would be easy when your desires are fulfilled instantly, but this only aggravates your worries and suffering, causing a sense of loss. Thus, your greed will always land you in losses.
Greed is an obsessive and excessive longing for the undesirable desire for money, power, fame, etc. The world has enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but our greed is what is making the world fall short of things now. A sense of saving up in a time of scarcity and spending in a state of abundance is natural. But the kind of greed which makes you feel like you can never have enough has become the biggest problem in the world. Humans have not learnt when to hit the pause button and that is taking a toll on our environment, their air and water around us, and everything else that is priceless, including our life. Greed is the reason for other problems in the world too, like climate change, poverty, resource gap, racism, discrimination, inflation, power struggle, corporate empires, high interest rates and terror.
A sense of greed is like a permanent sense of loss because one has already assumed profits in everything he does. The profits you earn out of greed will also run you into losses. And when you want to get rid of greed, you actually want to get rid of the sense of loss because greed has taught you to loathe loss. It is a very delicate situation. If greed had given you great peace and not worries, would you have wanted to give it up? But because of greed, which makes you fear losses, you end up never ridding yourself greed, instead clutching it firmly.
firmly. Greed can show you big dreams. It can create a dream world. But it can give you neither loss nor profit. You have to wake up to your greed. It is nothing but a state of intoxication, which leads to chaos. In greed you make new friends, family, bonds and networks which take a toll on existing friendships, family and social order. Greed thus brings only a sense of loss in life.
When you do some work or business, the obvious result is either profit or loss. It is natural. But your greed does not let that happen – it turns all profits into losses. In fact, a sense of greed cannot make you wealthier, more popular or more powerful. It can make you neither poor nor rich. It yields no profits or losses. It is an empty word.
In business, there is a motive of earning profit and reducing loss, but businesses should be run without being greedy. If you do it right, profit is likely to come. But greed has no place in business. Profits or losses do not come by greed—in fact, chances are that your worries will actually lead you to make more mistakes. And since greed is an assumption of profit earned in advance, chances of experiencing loss are the highest.
The greedy mind then wishes to change the definition of success. If in this momentary world, the greedy mind looks up to building permanent assets in the heavens, remember that those heavens will only be a creation of this greed.
A sense of greed indicates the absence of your being. Your arrival into your being should prompt the departure of greed. Greed is like darkness and the moment the light of your sense of being is lit, that darkness disappears.
But greed is precious to you. To understand greed, you have to look at greed in its naked state. Don’t think of ridding yourself of greed from the vision of avoiding losses or suffering. Greed does not give you worries—you are worried because of your thoughts which make you greedy. Greed itself is an empty shell. It cannot kill your ego. Your ego will keep on postponing life for tomorrow in the guise of greed. Then death will come to cut your long story short and you will blame it on greed. But it was not greed which wanted to win, it was your mind and your own ego.
So, don’t look at life with greed. It can deliver neither profit nor loss. It is an impotent desire. Understand that greed is nothing. Don’t give it any importance. If you do that, greed will change directions. Just accept greed for what it is. It is there—don’t fight it. See greed wakefully. One day when wakefulness emerges, you will find that greed was nothing but unconsciousness. Remember life is not made of greed. We should plan to earn as much as is required for us to lead a life as per our free will and learn to sense the danger of greed and hit pause.
The author is a spiritual teacher and an independent advisor on policy, governance and leadership. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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