In human society, if one kills a man he has to be hanged [or punished]. That is the law of the state. Because of ignorance people do not perceive that there is a complete state controlled by the Supreme Lord. Every living creature is the son of the Supreme Lord, and He does not tolerate even an ant’s being killed. One has to pay for it.
—Srila Prabhupada, Iskcon Inc founder and achraya
Capital punishment is the state’s ultimate act of reprisal, and no sacrifice surpasses offering one’s life for the sake of others. But although we seemingly attach great value to life, each year all over the world hundreds of millions of defenceless animals are butchered. This wholesale slaughter of animals is not necessary to prevent us from starving. Moreover, it is economically extravagant and ethically reprehensible. Most seriously, however, animal killing violates the universal law of karma, which is similar to the modern scientific principle of action and reaction.
Scientists clearly understand how the physical law of action and reaction (“for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”) applies to material objects, but most are unaware of the more subtle laws of action and reaction in the realm of consciousness. Nevertheless, we do have a kind of instinctive awareness that somehow we all create our own happiness and distress. This realisation dawns upon us when in response to some mishap we reflect, “Well, maybe I had that coming to me.”
In fact, we sometimes find people jokingly attributing unfortunate occurrences in their lives to “bad karma”. But the law of karma ensures that those who cause violence and suffering to other living beings must themselves experience equivalent violence and suffering—immediately or in the future.
Karma, as many in the West now know, is intimately related with the principle of reincarnation. In India’s greatest spiritual classic, Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the soul as the source of consciousness and the active principle that animates the body of every living being. This vital force, which is of the same spiritual quality in all beings, is distinct from and superior to the matter comprising the temporary material form. At the time of death, the indestructible soul transmigrates into another physical body, just as one changes clothing. All living beings (not just a few select individuals) undergo this process of reincarnation, lifetime after lifetime. The Bhagavad Gita states, “As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.”
THE JOURNEY OF THE SOUL
The Vedas explain that the soul, known as the atma, may inhabit any of 8,400,000 general species of material bodies. The physical forms vary in complexity, beginning with the primitive microbes and amoebas, continuing on through the aquatic, plant, insect, reptile, bird, and animal species, and culminating in human beings and demigods. In consequence of its own desires to enjoy matter, the atma continually journeys through these various bodies, on an endless voyage of births and deaths.
The action of the mind is the prime force compelling the living entity to transmigrate from one body to another. The Gita explains, “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state of being he will attain without fail.” Our minds are constantly recording all of our thoughts and desires, and the totality of these memories floods our consciousness in the last moments of life. The nature of our thoughts at this critical juncture propels us into the appropriate physical body. Thus, the body we now occupy is an accurate physical projection of our state of mind at the time of our last death.
The Bhagavad Gita explains, “The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of eye, ear, tongue, nose, and sense of touch, which are grouped around the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects.”
According to the Vedas, a soul in a form lower than human automatically evolves to the next-higher species, ultimately arriving at the human form. But because the human being possesses freedom to choose between matter and spirit, there is a chance that the soul will descend again into the lower species. The laws of karma are so arranged that if a human lives and dies with the animalistic mentality of a creature such as a dog, then in the next life he will be able to fulfill his doglike desires through the senses and organs of a dog. This is certainly an unfortunate occurrence, but such a fate is a definite possibility for a person immersed in ignorance. The Gita declares, “When he dies in the mode of ignorance, he takes birth in the animal kingdom.”
So, the soul in the body of an animal may once have inhabited a human form and vice versa. Although a soul may successively occupy plant, animal, and human bodies, its intrinsic nature remains the same. Because the soul is pure spiritual energy, it cannot be altered in any way by matter. Bhagavad Gita explains that the soul is “immutable and unchangeable.” It is only the bodily covering, with its particular combination of mind and senses, that temporarily restricts or releases the conscious energy of the soul.
THE EQUALITY OF ALL LIVING THINGS
The basic and transcendental equality of all conscious entities is not an abstract notion but is obvious to everyday sense perception—if only we look beyond the superficial differences in the varieties of material bodies. Anyone who has ever had a pet or visited the zoo has experienced that animals behave much like humans as they search for food, protect their young, play, sleep, and fight. The outstanding difference is that their intelligence and emotions are less developed, but this distinction is insufficient to discount the far more numerous and significant similarities in thinking, feeling, and willingness that clearly point towards the universal equality of the consciousness within all bodies.
In nonhuman species, the living being is stringently controlled by his natural instincts. He is deprived of freedom of choice in eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, being compelled by bodily demands to follow rigid behavioral patterns. For this reason, the atma dwelling within forms of life lower than humans is not responsible for its actions and thus does not generate new karma. A similar principle operates within our everyday experience—a dog chasing a cat across the roadway is immune from any traffic citations. Animals are not expected to understand or obey a sophisticated set of laws. On the other hand, in both the social order and the universal order, a human being is obligated to be informed and obedient.
Therefore, when a human unnecessarily takes the life of another entity, especially under conditions of great pain and suffering, this act of overt aggression produces a severe karmic reaction. And, if year after year millions of animals are mercilessly butchered in huge, mechanised slaughterhouses, the accumulated negative karma produced by all those participating is almost unfathomable.
In his Bhagavad Gita commentary, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada sternly warns about the karmic danger of animal slaughter. “In human society, if one kills a man he has to be hanged. That is the law of the state. Because of ignorance people do not perceive that there is a complete state controlled by the Supreme Lord. Every living creature is the son of the Supreme Lord, and He does not tolerate even an ant’s being killed. One has to pay for it.”
‘DO UNTO OTHERS…’
This same instruction is present in all religious teachings. The Bible emphatically states, “Thou shall not kill,” and Lord Jesus Christ, who always displayed deep compassion for all living beings, stated, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Lord Buddha also taught the principle of ahimsa, nonviolence, specifically to protect innocent creatures from being slaughtered.
People who find that personally killing an animal is too gruesome tend to believe that merely eating flesh does not implicate them in violence. But this opinion is shortsighted and unsupported by any valid spiritual authority. According to the law of karma, all those who are connected to the killing of an animal are liable—the person who gives permission for the killing, the person who kills, the person who helps, the person who purchases the meat, the person who cooks the flesh, and the person who eats it. In a court of law all those who conspire in a murder are considered responsible, especially the party who purchases the assassin’s services.
Psychological and emotional growth are essential to a progressive life, and all our thoughts and actions influence our character development. The Bible explains, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” And the subtle laws of karma inform us that negative personality traits such as hostility, cruelty, depression, arrogance, apathy, insensitivity, anxiety, and envy are the psychological harvest of those who directly or indirectly make killing a regular feature in their life. When someone adopts a vegetarian diet, it is much easier for him to remain peaceful, happy, productive, and concerned for the welfare of others.
As the brilliant physicist Albert Einstein said, “The vegetarian manner of living, by it’s purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” But when human consciousness is polluted by the effects of the negative karma resulting from destructive and injurious actions, its good qualities become covered.
THE CAUSE OF VIOLENCE
At present, despite impressive progress in science and technology, the world is faced with a crisis of unremitting violence in the shape of wars, terrorism, murder, vandalism, child abuse, and abortion. More than 140 wars have been fought since the United Nations was formed in 1945. With social and political solutions conspicuously failing, perhaps it’s time to analyse the problem from a different perspective—the law of karma. The callous and brutal slaughter of countless helpless animals must be considered as a powerful causative factor in this wave of uncheckable violence.
In his purports to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada has pointed out how the widespread violence among humans is a karmic reaction to animal slaughter. “In this age the propensity for mercy is almost nil. Consequently, there is always fighting and wars between men and nations. Men do not understand that because they unrestrictedly kill so many animals, they must also be slaughtered like animals in big wars. This is very much evident in the Western countries. In the West, slaughterhouses are maintained without restriction, and therefore every fifth or tenth year there is a big war in which countless people are slaughtered even more cruelly than the animals. Sometimes during war, soldiers keep their enemies in concentration camps and kill them in very cruel ways. These are reactions brought about by unrestricted animal-killing in the slaughterhouse and by hunters in the forest.”
The question is sometimes raised that if the atma (soul) is completely transcendental to the material body, why should killing, if great pain is avoided, be considered wrongful violence? Even the Bhagavad Gita states, “For the soul there is neither birth nor death. He is not slain when the body is slain.” In his Srimad-Bhagavatam purports, Srila Prabhupada addresses this question. “All living entities have to fulfill a certain duration for being engaged in a particular type of material body. They have to finish the duration allotted in a particular body before being promoted or evolved to another body. Killing an animal or any other living being simply places an impediment in the way of his completing his term of imprisonment in a certain body. One should therefore not kill bodies for one’s sense gratification, for this will implicate one in sinful activity.” In short, killing an animal interrupts its progressive evolution through the species.
We can also appreciate the unjustness of animal-killing by seeing that the body is a dwelling place for the atma residing within. An individual unexpectedly driven out of his comfortable home suffers great inconvenience and distress. Such merciless and unjustified action is undoubtedly criminal. Furthermore, in order to receive his next material body, the living being must suffer extended pre-birth tribulations. For the human being this involves months of being tightly packed in the darkness of the womb, where one is constantly disturbed by infections, acid fluids burning the skin, jarring motions, and discomforts resulting from the eating and drinking habits of the mother.
IS KILLING VEGETABLES WRONG?
Another common metaphysical question is, “If all living entities are spiritually equal, then why is it acceptable to eat grains, vegetables, etc., and not meat? Aren’t vegetarians guilty of killing vegetables? In response, it may be pointed out that vegetarian foods such as fruits, nuts, milk, and grain do not require any killing. But even in those cases where a plant’s life is taken, the pain involved is much less than when an animal is slaughtered, because the plant’s nervous system is less developed. Clearly there is a vast difference between pulling a carrot out of the ground and killing a lamb. But still, one must undoubtedly suffer karmic reactions even for killing plants.
For this reason, Lord Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Gita that not only should man eat only vegetarian foods, but he should also offer these eatables to Him. If we follow this process of sacrifice, the Supreme Lord, Krishna, protects us from any karmic reactions resulting from the killing of plants. Otherwise, according to the law of karma, we are personally responsible. The Gita states, “The devotees of the Lord are released from all sins because they eat food that is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”
Srila Prabhupada elaborates on this principle of spiritual vegetarianism. “Human beings are provided with food grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk by the grace of the Lord, but it is the duty of human beings to acknowledge the mercy of the Lord. As a matter of gratitude, they should feel obliged to the Lord for their supply of foodstuff, and they must first offer Him food in sacrifice and then partake of the remnants.” By eating such sanctified food (prasadam) one is protected from karmic reactions and advances spiritually.
Gauranga Sundar Das is Iskcon Inc Communication Director and SM IT Head.
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Being original with the truth that you are
In the beginning, before existence existed the truth. The truth began the Creation. Creation happened on the canvas of the truth. Creation submerged in the truth. In submergence, creation discovered the truth. The truth was pure and it was the truth on which life happened.
Existence is existing on the canvas of the truth. Life exists on the canvas of the truth. Only the truth is inescapable. Only the truth is universal. The universe is happening in that actuality of the truth. The earth moves in that actuality of the truth. Life on the earth is teeming in that actuality of the truth. In fact, truth is actuality.
Manifestation of the truth is love. Love and the truth are one. All else are poor copies and absence of the truth. Love is life. Life cannot exist if it goes out of the truth. A mother looking into the eyes of a newborn baby pours love. New-born understands the truth. The truth travels beyond. The truth is the only communication. That communicates silently.
Truth knows no language barriers. Therefore, love crosses all barriers of communication. A reader reading a book is able to become one with the truth. A little baby who is yet to understand words communicates the truth better than those well-versed in the language.
We are all born in the truth. Our birth is the birth of the truth and we die in the truth. But we try to lend myriad names to the truth. And we are part of that same truth of which we are formed. In fact, we are that truth. Being here in the being-ness of our being we are being that which is the truth. Hindus say the truth is that which has not been created by anybody. That which is not created is the truth. That which is the creator of the whole creation. That which is the truth. That which is the one truth. Nanak calls it Sat Nam (True Name). That Sat Nam is the truth. We are born in that True Name.
One has to become the true name, Sat Nam. You have to be that thy name that is the truth because thy name is the truth. When we come to this world, when we descend on earth, when we come out of the womb of our mother, we see the vast vibrant exuberant world full of colour light and wonder. We meet the vastness of the truth. The truth that is immersed in every speck and particle.
Names that you are lent on the earth are not your names. Thy name is the truth and you are that truth. You are that Sat Nam (true name). You are being in that being-ness that is the truth. You are thy truth.
Why we don’t understand the truth is because there is a distance in knowing. Knowledge creates distance from the truth. We need distance to know. What we can know by knowledge is in fact information. Information is always about something else.
The truth is not the information that you use to hide your ignorance with. Knowledge is that information that you use to hide your ignorance with. That which is the truth lives in you as the truth because you are the truth. And to know the truth that you are no distance is needed. You don’t need to observe the truth to know the truth, but you have to be the truth to know the truth. Therefore the truth does not create any distance.
All that is knowledge is information that creates distance. Information is of the senses. Senses need information. Senses sense information and bring it to the mind to process. When you be the truth you know the truth. All that knowledge that mankind has gathered so far is the house of cards. Knowledge is based on ignorance. Knowledge of science is also based on ignorance of knowledge. What science discovered yesterday is falsified by today’s science. Science itself is discovering the ignorance of science. Senses are evolved to create distance. And knowledge keeps expanding that distance.
The ones who found the truth. The ones who become one with the truth. Those ones who became the truth. Even to attain the truth is not an effort to search for the truth. It is an effortless effort that springs when you become free of effort. You become one with yourself. You become one with the truth because you are the truth. You become the truth because you are the truth. It is a thin veil that needs to be lifted.
If you are the truth and you are manifested as the truth in this life then the question arises what is untruth? In fact absence of the truth is called the untruth. And we keep on moving in the untruth. Whole life we keep oscillating from truth to untruth and from untruth to the truth. This neither lets us stand up nor fall.
That which is the truth is to be known. I am to know the truth when the truth is there. But the truth is there all the time and you don’t know. When will you know the truth? You are the truth yourself. You don’t have to chant Satyamev Jayate. You are the truth. You are to hail your own truth as the Satyamev Jayate. You are the blazing illuminating example of that Satya that you hail.
A beautiful greeting is used by the Sikhs, ‘Sat Sri Akal’, which means let’s hail the truth that is manifested in you and is timeless beyond the time and the ages.
Untruth is the absence of the truth. To live life only the truth is needed. But the truth is a prerequisite. Untruth is fake truth. To pedal fakery, we need to disguise it as the original. Hitler and Gandhi were experimenting with their own versions of untruth faking it as truth.
Understand yourself. What are you doing with your truth? Are you faking the truth that you are born with that you have in your hands now or not?
Listen to the birds singing the songs of truth. The truth is a celebration. Life becomes a celebration when you are one with the truth. Therefore love births out of the truth. Jesus has said ‘Love is God’. If there is love, it will be God. If there is the truth it will be the love. Love does not come from somewhere outside of you. You exist in that godliness of love in your being. You are the glimmering example of love and the truth. The entire existence is in deep celebration of the godliness of love and the truth. And that which is one truth is the basic thread of life that one needs to know.
The author is a spiritual teacher and he can be contacted at email@example.com
ARE WE USING OUR TIME WISELY?
Time is ticking away.
No matter who we are or where we live, at the beginning of each day, we are each given twenty-four hours that we can use in any way that we wish. Of this total, we may allot a certain number of hours to sleep, a few hours to tend to the needs of our bodies, and several hours to fulfil our commitments and obligations to family, society, and the globe.
Every moment of every day, time is just ticking away. We need to spend our time wisely. The time invested only in worldly activities will only yield gains that are fleeting or will remain here after we depart this world.
If we wish to uncover the luminosity and riches of our soul, spending some time daily in meditation can help us reach that goal. The more time we can put in for this quest, the better. When we focus our attention on the inner worlds, we open ourselves up to the permanent. When we take the time to go within, through the process of meditation, we connect with the love and light of God. This connection puts us in a state of bliss, joy, and happiness. We realise our connection with God and experience God’s presence in our lives. Happiness, peace, and joy overtake our being and begin to ooze out from us to all we meet.
As we go about our day, we certainly need to discharge our obligations to our families, friends, coworkers, neighbourhoods, communities, cities, countries, and the world. At the same time, we also need to prioritise our spiritual progress and dedicate time each day to focus on our spiritual practices. We need to fix a time to build the habit of meditation. The more time we spend in meditation, the happier we will be, and we will find that we begin to live the kind of life that helps us fulfil the purpose for which we are here.
The author is the head of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.
Why do we need contentment?
We must be first self-satisfied and satisfied by Lord, in order to lead a contented life. Then we receive the blessings of happiness naturally from all.
Contentment is the most important attribute of virtues and the most fundamental of all virtues. Where there is contentment, the remaining divine virtues will be there themselves. Contentment is the cornerstone of happiness. Contentment is one of the most essential needs in today’s competitive world. We must be first self-satisfied and satisfied by Lord, in order to lead a contented life. Then we receive the blessings of happiness naturally from all.
We can make a big list of the causes for unhappiness in our lives: sickness, money shortages, emotional distress, workflow, unemployment, and so on. Even though there are many such reasons for unhappiness and discontentment, when we take a serious look at calm mindedness, the root cause of all these is expectations, desires, failures, and dependence.
“Remember your good fortune and forget which will not come, this is the secret of happiest life,” said one of the great Kannada poets. Today, there is one or another problem or shortage in everyone’s life. For some, it’s feeling deprived even though they have everything. If the deficiency is complete, we will also not be satisfied. Instead, there is a need for more or new deficits may arise. Happiness or contentment is not restrained on glory money available to us, property, floor, physical equipment or person. Not all the rich are happy. Happiness, peace, contentment, and pleasure cannot be bought on the basis of money. Money is most necessary for life, but not everything. Today in this diverse world, be it the poor or the rich the list of demands in everyone’s lives continues to grow. In life, desires or expectations are like following our own shadow, which we cannot catch. That means we are not satisfied. Contentment is not about pursuing something. Instead, recognise our good fortune and find satisfaction in it.
When we are expecting something from someone, if we do not get it, we feel unhappy. It is not wrong to expect from others. But desires, expectations, and dependence all the time on others will cheat us on time. Then we become more depressed and unhappy. The habit of becoming self-sufficient is better in life.
Stress is very common in today’s competitive life, from the youngest to the oldest. Stress, resentment, and dissatisfaction, a psychotic disorder is rapidly increasingly and common today. In all situations, our minds always expect an appropriate positive response that is right for us. But situations, not all conditions are the same. While walking various steps of our life’s journey we need to cross many stages. When coming with many groups, organisations, contact with people, we need to face a different situation each time. The influence of many people’s nature and culture may affect as positive or negative. Sometimes even if we are right, the situation is the opposite. At such times, our minds drift uncontrollably. As you begin the battle of thoughts in mind, the chain of waste thoughts will start unhindered by one another. This is where the mind starts to get heavier and the psychological pressure begins. Then we are often displeased with the situation or the inferiority of our own selves. Although some people instinctively cross such conditions on the basis of negative sidewalks, it is not reasonable to follow such methods to the minds of good-hearted people.
Such a new situation, which is encountered once a day, we cannot afford to change this whole society of people with their own different natures, cultures at once, but it is only our minds that is in our leverage. We are able to control only our minds. Whatever the conditions or situations, the angle at which we view it must be positive. What matters is how we will be considered and accept it. To control the gallop of the mind’s resolutions, the positive instant answer must be ready immediately in us. When we always have a stock of positive knowledge that is right for our minds, we are able to have a positive outlook on negativity and develop better thinking. This may not be as easy as we think, but it is also not impossible. Although developing such a mentality is difficult in the beginning, gradually it will become normal while constantly practising it.
We should consider this whole creation as a theatre. In this, everyone has their own role. Here, the hero, the villain, the father, the mother, the brother, and the sister all play their own particular role. Here, we need to know ourselves as a hero. Why is the villain evil? That is not a question to ask. He is just as committed to his role. The protagonist (hero) will face more testing conditions. But is it not the villain who wins at the end of the play.
In Bhagavata, it is said that ‘what happened was good, that what is happening is also good and what will happen is also very good’. Although the circumstances are unpleasant for the moment, if we wait and look forward, we feel it will be good. From this positive, virtuous basis, we feel everything is good when viewed from a positive perspective. But there must also be some patience and courage. On the basis of self-contentment, when we satisfy the Lord and by pleasing everyone, it is possible for to us lead a happy and satisfying life.
The author is a spiritual writer and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We can make a big list of the causes for unhappiness in our lives: sickness, money shortages, emotional distress, workflow, unemployment, and so on. Even though there are many such reasons for unhappiness and discontentment, when we take a serious look at calm mindedness, the root cause of all these is expectations, desires, failures, and dependence.
ARE YOU A MASTER OF YOUR MIND?
Most of us are now aware of the mind-body connection. Think ‘tense thoughts’ and you will feel it physically in places like your shoulder muscles or perhaps an ache in the head. Think ‘worry thoughts’, and your stomach will send you a message asking you to stop. Think ‘fearful thoughts’ and you will notice ‘the pump’ in your chest, otherwise known as your heart, start to work overtime. So, it’s obvious that our minds need some attention. It is unfortunate for most of us that no one ever taught us how to think. The mind’s first requirement is a benevolent master (that is you) to help it to change the speed, quantity and the quality of thinking.
TEN PRACTICES TO MASTER YOUR MIND
Here are some ideas which may help you be a better master, guide and friend for your mind.
Over the next ten weeks take one practice and… practise!
1 THINK SLOWLY
Sit quietly and watch your self using your mind to think. Watch your self thinking. Watch thoughts arising. Now see if you can transfer your attention to the small spaces between your thoughts. As you do you will notice the spaces expand and the speed of your thinking will slow down. You will also start to ‘feel’ a profound inner peace.
2 THINK BRIGHTLY
Just as you turn up or down the brightness on your TV screen, see if you can do that with what you create on the screen of your mind. Turn up the brightness one moment then, in the next moment, let the thought fade away. But watch it all the way to ‘fade’! Notice your mind becoming quieter as it does.
3 THINK FOR THE BEST
It is almost impossible to halt the habit of thinking about the future. Besides, everyone else around us seems to be doing it almost all the time. So go with the flow of your thinking but practise turning any thoughts of a catastrophic future, in whatever context, into thoughts that are ‘anastrophic’. That means catch your self thinking ‘worry’ thoughts and practise replacing them with ideas and images that envision the best possible outcome. Cancel the old/unwanted and replace with a new vision! Do not just ‘want it’, just ‘think it’… without desire!
4 THINK RELEVANT
When you ‘think relevant’ you are thinking only about what you need to think about at any moment in whatever situation you are in. In other words, practise noticing when you become distracted by anything outside or inside, in the past or about the future. Gently return and start your mental focus on what is in front of you ‘in this moment’… again.
5 THINK HAPPY
What is a happy thought? Take a moment to reflect. Is it you forcing your self to believe you are happy and then creating thoughts out of that belief? It is not a bad experiment. Some say that with such a practice, over time, the ‘feelings’ of happiness start to arise naturally and all thoughts become imbued with a natural… happiness! It is a practice that, if nothing else, will help you to become more aware of the quality of your thinking. You will also start to see the thoughts that you are using to make your self feel unhappy! Clue? Watch out for external and internal influences on your thinking.
This is Part 1 of the article, the other five coming next week in Part 2.
Mike George is an author of 16 books on self-awareness, spiritual intelligence and personal undevelopment.
ONE WAY TO STOP OVERTHINKING
Overthinking has become a habit with a large number of people. How do we change it? We know the answers: see the good in others, not their faults; remain happy; do not speak ill of anyone; accept others as they are.
We need to practice just one of these to be free from overthinking. That is because they are all interconnected—start one practice and the others will naturally follow. For example, if we focus on the good qualities of other people and ignore their shortcomings, our mind will remain clean. When we do not see and think about anyone’s defects, the mind will not be coloured, or stained, by them. It is negative thoughts that cause overthinking. When we do not see other people’s weaknesses, there will be no reason to be angry, critical or judgmental about them. Acceptance will become easy, and we will have good wishes for them. When everything is good and positive, there will be nothing to forgive or forget. All these corollary benefits accrue from focusing on the good in others. We can start with one practice that we find easy and the others will follow without any extra effort on our part.
But how do we not see defects in others when they are clearly visible? The eyes see everything—the flaws of those we live and work with, and, through the phone and the television, the mistakes people across the world are making. None of that, however, should taint the mind and pollute our thoughts and feelings.
We can do an experiment —choose one conspicuous weakness in one person. Suppose someone you work with is unreliable and dishonest. You know they are like that but you have to work with them. It is one thing to know their defect and figure out a way to deal with them, but quite another to keep thinking about it —“What a dodgy character”, “He keeps lying….”
It is the nature of the human mind that negative thoughts cause overthinking. When we dwell on someone’s good qualities, the mind remains calm and there are few thoughts. But think about something you do not like in someone and there will be a long train of thoughts. That changes our perception and attitude towards them.
The more we think about another’s faults, the more negativity accumulates in the mind, and that depletes the soul’s power. The negative thoughts and feelings are reinforced when they are expressed in speech and behaviour. As the soul becomes weaker, overthinking and stress increase, irritation and jealousy are experienced more often. Imagine the harm we do to ourselves. The defect is someone else’s, but by repeatedly thinking about it we poison our mind, behaviour and personality and become weaker.
We are also not helping the other person by sending them unfriendly vibrations. The vibes will certainly not strengthen them, but instead make them weaker and prone to making more mistakes. Then we complain that the other person is getting worse, unaware of our role in bringing that about.
The solution is to have positive thoughts and send like vibrations. If someone is habitually careless, we can create the thought that they are responsible and accurate in their work, and see them with this positive attitude. The thought is not true at that point of time, but when sustained it will do wonders. First, it will protect us from negativity. Then it will send good vibes to the other person, giving them the energy and courage to get over their weakness. When people in a family or organisation create such supportive thoughts instead of focusing on others’ defects, they really bless each other, and the energy of blessings can uplift people and transform situations. The choice is ours: do we want to see defects and become weaker, or think and see only good in order to empower the self and others?
B.K. Shivani is a well-known motivational speaker and Rajyoga teacher.
One problem, one solution
Do you believe that the mountain-high pile of troubles that besets the world now, has one root cause, and even more, that there is one, simple solution—a solution that could reduce the whole mountain to the size of a molehill?
Something has gone missing in our man-made formulas for well-being. Something has slipped through the cracks, taking with it what is needed for the peaceful, happy existence we want for ourselves and the world. What is it that has gone missing? In my experience it is the loss of connection. Connection is what is missing. Disconnection is the problem; connection is the solution.
I am not talking about the connection between us. Although that has become problematic, it is not primary. Primary is the connection between myself and my inner world. Through the practice of Rajyoga meditation, as taught by the Brahma Kumaris, I discovered a ‘me’ that was permanently beyond all influences; a ‘me’ that danced in joy, peace, love, and power, always, whenever I connected with that ‘me’.
When we are disconnected from that part of ourselves — our spiritual identity—what is meaningful and important for life becomes less a practical experience and more an ideal, or an intellectual pursuit. When we remain disconnected in this way, we do not know, with the certainty of experience, the independent beauty that lies deep within. We research and talk a lot about such things, but it gets harder and harder to live accordingly. In this way we become careless and negligent of our own divinity. We disrespect our own goodness and godliness. So, it withers, like flowers in a garden that no one is tending to—eaten by the bugs of ego or parched through a drought of true self-love.
A recent sociological study says that our current state of social isolation – so damaging to the human spirit—did not begin with the pandemic. Being disconnected from our innermost selves and disrespecting the godliness within makes it very difficult to connect, or truly respect anyone else. It becomes a self-imposed isolation that is driving communities and even families further and further apart.
This internal negligence and disregard for the divinity of human nature has carried over to our relationships with Mother Nature as well. We act as if we are the only species on the planet and in our attempts to acquire, possess and control we have violated her basic laws. In return, we have the unprecedented state of environmental crises we are facing today.
So, what to do? We have to once again align ourselves with the great truths that go beyond what our physical senses can grasp. We need to understand these times of challenge as an invitation to connect to ourselves in new ways, a connection that can make blossom the seeds of divinity within each of us, as children of God.
We need to connect to God in new ways. God’s love, devoid of any neediness, is altruistic and the ultimate in respect and feelings of belonging, and is like water to the parched soul-garden. We need to experience God’s light of love, peace and joy, so that we can come back to our pure state of natural well-being.
Connecting is the first step. Second is the courage to come out of our comfort zones and transfer the beauty deep within into our everyday thinking, speaking and doing. We need to become givers, from the genuine abundance that is our Godly inheritance, and stop being takers. This will put a whole new vibration into the energy that keeps this planet spinning. This will move us all forward, out of humanity’s long night of winter, and into the dawn of its new day.
It is time to do something new; it is time to do something different. To realise the magic of love—love for ourselves, for God and then, for all our brothers and sisters—the whole world. This gives birth to hope. We truly are standing at a new beginning.
Sharona Stillerman coordinates the activities of the Brahma Kumaris in Israel.
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