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 email@example.com.
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TAKE A DEEP BREATH, BE CALM AND STEADY
If your mind is stiff, you are not mentally healthy. To attain a perfect state of health, one has to be mentally calm, steady, and emotionally strong.
O nly a healthy bud can blossom. In the same way, only a healthy being can succeed. So what’s being healthy? If you are feeling rough inside, then you are not healthy; if the mind is stiff and not calm, you are not mentally healthy. When the emotions are rough, you are emotionally not healthy. To attain a perfect state of health, one has to be mentally calm, steady, and emotionally strong.
The state of healthiness has to flow from the innermost of your being to the outermost, and vice versa. That state is called Swasthya in Sanskrit. Swasthya means health. It also means being in one’s Self. Swasthya or health is not just confined to the body and the mind; it has come to you as a gift from the cosmic mind or the ‘Indra’.
Have you noticed this? When you enter a place where a very disturbed and stressed person has spent some time, you start feeling disturbed for no reason even if the stressed person is not around any longer. The same feelings, same thoughts, same emotions come to you.
Similarly, when there is a harmonious vibration like at a place where a Satsang is happening, you feel good. You don’t know why. So feelings are not isolated in one’s body, they are all around. So is the breath. Ditto for the mind, it is in the whole environment because the mind is subtler than the five elements — the earth, water, fire, air and ether. Like if there is a fire somewhere the heat is not just in the fire, it is also radiating throughout the place. Subtler than that is air, which is all over.
So if you are unhappy or depressed, you are not the only one who is feeling it; you are spreading it to the whole environment. A time may come in the future when people will be fined for being depressed because they are creating emotional pollution!
But how can we control this? That is the key question and the answer lies in meditation. The main purpose of meditation, Pranayam and related practices, is that they increase prana or the subtle life energy. Prana is subtler than emotions. When you attend to the subtlest, the gross becomes all right. You handle the breath and the body gains good health. In the ancient days, the prayer has been that let this collective consciousness, the Indra, always bring health and put me back to my Self. Let it always keep me centred, joyful and happy. Let everyone whom I meet bring me back to the Self. This is important because the words that you hear from people around you affect your state of mind. They either give you peace and joy or create a disturbance.
Usually what happens is that, when people say something that creates jealousy, anger, frustration or sadness in us, we think they are responsible. No, we are responsible because we are contributing to the process. We are affected because the mind is not its Self; it is not centred. How can we gain that peace which is unshakeable? Being individually happy is not enough. Our wish should be that whomever we meet be happy and radiate happiness. A frustrated man will create frustration; a jealous person will create jealousy and so on.
You can turn every situation to your advantage. Have you ever thought of this? There are stories in the Puranas of how a saint turned an arrow that was going to hurt someone, into a garland. If somebody is shooting an arrow at you, insulting you, realise that they are doing it because they are miserable. Once you are blossomed from within, you can take any insult and turn it to your advantage.
Realise that they are simply pouring out their stress, tension and anxiety. When people shout or burst out at you, you can only feel good that all that was building up inside them is coming out. I am not saying that we should encourage this tendency or justify it. But when it happens, do not regret it. What do we normally do? We go on regretting and with regret, we commit the same mistake again.
Even when someone commits a mistake, he or she is not the culprit; the stress inside is causing him or her to make that mistake. Once we get rid of the stress inside us, there is no culprit; no one to be forgiven. Then we begin to realise that the whole thing is just a game in which there is no winners or losers. It’s just a play and fun.
The objective is to have that fun in life and make sure that the knowledge that we gain in life permeates inside us. With this, Upanishad happens and the learning process begins. As we learn more about life, the mystery of the whole creation unfolds. Then the question in the mind is, what is the meaning of life and what is its purpose. What is this world, what is love, what is knowledge and so on?
Once these questions arise in you, know that you are very fortunate. These questions need to be understood; you cannot find the answers in books. You have to live through them and witness the transformation. That is perfect health; you are transformed from within. And the bud becomes a totally blossomed flower.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.
YOU ARE NOT YOUR MATHEMATICAL COMPREHENSION
The human mind wreaks time. We think in terms of time. We think that time is not passing or time is passing fast. The sense of time that is ahead of us and the sense of time that we passed lend us an artificial cognition and we perceive this artificiality as the truth of life. Therefore we say that time is all-powerful and time is the truth.
Krishna in Gita has said that I am the time to denote that the time which is human comprehension which has penetrated deep into our cognition is within Him. That which is time exists in the mind. In existence, that which is time exists like existence. Things are changing around you. Seasons birth new seasons. Seeds birth trees and trees birth flowers and seeds. Everything is changing around you. Water is gushing down fast in rivers to birth into the sea. Water is gushing fast because it wants to birth into a vapour that will birth icebergs. The human body is changing every moment. Old cells birth new cells in the colony of 90 trillion cells. Days birth nights and nights birth days. Everything is changing around you.
The predicament of mankind is that man wants to know ‘how much’ time-change. This sense of measuring ‘how much’ time is practically useful to be more organised so you make good use of it. But it is not necessary for your existence. You simply exist and the sense of measurement of time is not necessary for living your life. You exist in existence because existence exists in you. Existence is the truth in which you exist. Measurement of time that how much do we exist has gripped us.
We think about how much life we have. How much life is left? All this is interpretation in terms of time. This type of interpretation breeds death in us. Our mind is nothing but an interpretation of time. This body anyway is going to birth a new body. Like one lived 70 years that is only a measurement of time by human comprehension.
In fact, we live in infinity and eternity. Our sense of measurement of time lends us an understanding of ‘that much’ time we lived. We ruin our eternal life. We ruin our life that exists like existence and that is in our hands to live right now. Instead of living an eternal life that is in our hands right now we constantly live in the darkness of time. This mathematics of time is simply a mathematical artificiality. We comprehended time we invented time and we have mired ourselves in manipulability of time. Time is a piece of information. Life is not a piece of information. Life is being here and now in the being-ness of your being. Life is not a scale of time.
The scale of time has lent humans the dimension of science and mathematics has lent us comprehend the world better. We cognise the world in a certain way. Animals don’t cognise the world in that way. The ones who evolved a better sense of listening cognise it differently whereas those who evolved a better sense of seeing cognise the world differently. When our eyes see an object, say a rectangular object, our ability to cognise that object as rectangular depends on the light thrown on that object. When we see that object, that rectangular object projects an elliptical shape on the retina in the egg-shaped eyes. How does an elliptical shape project on the retina make us assume or decipher that the object is rectangular?
Science thinks in terms of time. Science cannot explain how does vision that according to science leads us to an assumption of the object, our mind assumes it to be rectangular. Science cannot explain how does vision that is a projection of an image on the retina leads to instant understanding. This is the biggest riddle that AI scientists face. But when one sees an object say a flower one instantly becomes one with the flower. He can dive into that flower-ness of being. No time is needed. Time is needed to calculate.
We live timelessly and we are timeless. Our minds caused time. Mind is time. Time is mind. Mind is confronted with psychological a disease that is time. The common problem of time is anxiety. Anomalous perception of time that has deep entered into our mind has lent us the situation of neurosis.
When you are alone, you feel more anxious. You need somebody immediately. A sense of time is necessary to organise things and activities around you. That daily you work out for an hour or you picked up a particular work for four hours. So to organise that won’t keep doing it for more, time may be utilised.
In reality, that sense of time that is utilitarian is biologically present in your mind already. When you ask yourself that you have to do particular work for an hour, the biological clock in your pineal gland makes you stop exactly after an hour. We have invented chronological time for our utility. We have made Sundays, that is holiday and Saturdays weekend when youngsters party. We have made a day at the end of the year to say goodbye to the year and to welcome the New Year.
In fact that we call the moment that is where the illusion begins. We generally say, ‘live in the moment’. We live in the moment. Then we say we live next moment also. That fabricates chronological time. But that we call ‘now’ is the now-ness. We live in now-ness. In Hindi the word ‘Now’ is a boat and in English ‘Now’ is also a boat that takes us beyond. We have to live in now. And keep living in now. In that now nothing comes next. Anything that comes next is psychological and the mind.
You may keep sitting for hours, days turn nights. You may keep on sitting. But we have organised our bodies as such that it sleeps in the night. It is spontaneous. The next day we wake up and go to the office. It keeps happening. This continuity has an infinite continuum. The world is ephemeral but that which is infinitely eternal is what we are.
Time is nothing but a sense of time that is bred in us as the mind. Time is psychological. It is not anything that happens in eternity. You happen in eternity and unhappen in eternity. You are eternal and you exist in eternity. And you keep existing in eternity. And you keep living in that eternity. Your life is eternal. All else is mathematics. You are not your mathematical comprehension. You don’t exist because of your comprehension. You comprehend mathematically because of that being that infinite eternal and timeless. Time is not the truth but that which is the truth is timeless. Nanak has said Satnam — thy name is the truth that is Akal which means timeless.
The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
ATTAINING PEACE THROUGH FORGIVENESS
In these troubled times, humanity is witnessing a growing hunger for peace and human unity. We are realising that our survival depends upon us recognising that we are all one family. So how can we attain peace in the world?
FORGIVE AND FORGET
The first step toward peace is forgiveness. If we are to realise peace in our world, we must learn to forget the past and forgive those who have wronged us. We must replace revenge with forgiveness and compassion. We must cleanse ourselves of anger and hatred and replace them with love and forgiveness.
How can we achieve this? I offer you a solution that has worked through the ages. Compassion, forgiveness and peace can be ours through spirituality.
SPIRITUALITY IS THE WAY
What is spirituality? Spirituality is the recognition that our true self is our soul. It is recognising that our soul is one with God. It is realising that we are not merely our body and mind, but a soul that inhabits the body.
We may think of ourselves as being a body bearing a name or that we are a citizen of a certain country. But spirituality is recognising that behind these outer names and outer labels we are all souls, a part of the one Creator.
As such, we are all members of one family. When we develop this angle of vision, we start breaking down the barriers that separate one human being from another. We start feeling like we are all connected at the level of the soul. When we experience our unity and connectedness, we start caring about each other. We want to help and serve each other. The hungry cries of our neighbour’s children will cause us as much pain as the cries of our own children. We will see the homeless man on the street as our own homeless grandfather, and we will be moved to help him. Our vision will be broadened and we will have compassion for the suffering of all human beings and will want to help them.
AWAKEN TO YOUR TRUE NATURE
How can we develop this noble vision? We can do so by awakening spiritually. We awaken to our spiritual nature through the simple technique of meditation on the inner Light and Sound of God. This process of inversion helps us wash away hatred and replace it with love and peace.
By sitting in silence and directing our attention within, we connect with our soul and are able to tap into the love, peace and bliss that is within us. As we do so, we become loving, kind, peaceful and giving human beings.
Through daily meditation, we come in contact with God and are bathed in divine love and bliss, which cleanses us of the years of habits that caused us to have hatred and anger. In its place, we are imbued with the qualities of love, forgiveness and compassion. In this state of peace and love, we are then able to develop the qualities of forgiveness and compassion for those who have hurt us.
As we become more peaceful ourselves, we begin to radiate peace to all those with whom we come in contact. Peace begins with us.
It all begins with the first step and that is forgiveness. Forgiveness will lead to inner peace, and this inner peace will blossom into outer peace in the world, enriching every heart.
The author is the head of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.
SEEKING THE INNER SILENCE
Most of us feel some emptiness within, or a neediness or discontent, and yet we do not realise that what we are hungering for is the experience of inner silence. This inner silence is able to fill and satisfy us, giving us the inner strength and ability to heal ourselves by putting us in touch with the real meaning of life.
Deep within, we all remember the meaning of life. We could think of these sketchy memories as the few remaining strands of a thread of life. Sometimes, little everyday situations – such as an unexpected moment of silence during a busy day – jerk this strand, stirring up an innate feeling that reminds us, “I am something more. I can be something else.”
This tug of the thread kindles a desire to search, to find out what that “something more…something else” is. Perhaps that is why you are reading this page. A hope stirs deep within – the thought that we are not bound by anyone or any situation. It reminds us of what we are at the core – not what we are as a parent, spouse or child or because of a job or special talent, but what we are because each of us is a self that lies beyond the social, physical and emotional realms. We might think of it as a point of eternity – a point of unique spirit within the universe, which is eternally me.
So, the inexplicable pull of that thread is accompanied by the feeling that “there is something I must reach, something I must know and (even more important) something I must be.”
Now, we ask, how can I catch hold of this thread that will guide me and enable me to clearly see the difference between the dead end of the noisy world and the open door of real life? “Simple”, a little voice whispers. “It seems difficult and laborious, but it is not; it is as easy as stopping for a moment and becoming silent.”
A PEACEFUL THOUGHT
It is not so difficult. All I have to do is to give myself permission to stop – to stop for a moment in this hectic spinning called life.
Take a moment, or two or three, and be still and silent. Sense the quietness of the moment – and slip into a place of no thinking, become completely still. In the stillness become aware of the real, true you. Let this awareness appear quietly, but brilliantly. After a few moments, as you return to your daily activities, try to retain this consciousness, this original state of being, which is serene and complete, the real you.
The late Anthony Strano was an author and Rajyoga teacher with the Brahma Kumaris.
GOD UNDERSTANDS YOU VERY WELL
Never have the thought that you do not want a part in the drama of life. That is not possible. It is good to understand these things in detail. Understanding allows you to remove the sorrow. It makes you a self-sovereign and makes others this, too.
What is needed is to prepare the self internally for whatever scenes may come. Attention to the self like this removes all worry and concern. Then, even extreme situations appear as side scenes – they will come, and they will go. Your mind will stay free, happy and powerful and this is what you will share with others.
The only thing we need to do is remember “I am a soul and around me is the game of life playing itself out.” Then, whatever role comes up for me to play I will play it very well, no longer confusing the actor with the act.
The one who remembers this is, in God’s eyes, a hero. God says, ‘Understand the part I have given you to play.’ But though I do not see myself as God sees me, I should never say ‘How?’. God is the Director and He understands me very well. Realise this clearly: God understands you very, very well.
What does it really mean to be a Rajyogi?
Rajyoga is not just practice of meditation for half an hour or an hour. To be a Rajyogi means bringing all the understanding and attainments into a complete way of life. Just as a ‘raja’, a king, behaves as a king throughout the day – in thoughts, words, actions and relationships — even when he is not sitting on his throne, so too a Rajyogi keeps a check on his or her behaviour, words, tone. A simple life and royal manners are the credo of a Rajyogi.
Yoga means connection, relationship. A Rajyogi has four principal relationships or connections. Relationship with the self, with God, with people, and with nature.
The key words for the relationship with the self are attention and awareness. Having a harmonious relationship with the self means to be constantly aware that I am an eternal being, a being of divine light, a soul. My original nature is peace, purity, love, happiness and truth. I use the body while remaining aware of my true nature.
The key words for a relationship with God are faith and love. God is love. I remember God with love and put the wisdom of God into my life for the benefit of the self and others. This makes me worthy of receiving love and respect from all.
When it comes to relationships with all others, then the key words are mutual respect and healthy communication. It is so much easier not to create any conflict with anyone, than to try to mend the damage that conflict can cause. Share only good news. Bad news and gossip spoil the atmosphere and draw others into negative, heavy energy. Be light, make big things small, be honest and transparent, and in this way we gain the trust of all.
Finally, in our relationships with nature the key word is learning. Despite all that we have done to our natural world, nature just keeps on bestowing. We need to learn from nature how to keep on bestowing with love for all and cooperate in bringing peace and benevolence into the world.
All the elements have a lesson for us:
a) Water: It has flexibility, the ability to flow around obstacles and adjust to situations. Water has coolness.
b) Earth: The earth is tolerant of all that we do, just like a mother. We need to learn to tolerate the behaviour of others, to be patient and make sure to cause no pain.
c) Air – It teaches us to be light. We must make sure to maintain the right attitude and not make the atmosphere around us heavy with negative feelings and conversations. We need to learn to uplift others by lightening the burden they are carrying in their hearts.
d) Fire: It brings warmth. Intense fire transforms. Intense fire removes the alloy from gold. We must transmit warmth with a big heart and compassion.
e) Ether – It is unlimited, vast. Let us have unlimited hearts that can accept everyone, with no exceptions. We must not limit our love and kindness to just one or two, but hold everyone as worthy of our regard and good wishes.
Rajyoga is a way of life — a life of understanding, compassion, attention and benevolence.
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