If we want to be free from old habits that are possibly holding us back in life, we need to find a way to let them go. Is it an old way of thinking, is it an old attitude that does not serve us well anymore? Are we, in fact, blaming others for our problems instead of taking the initiative and finding solutions?
If someone comes into conflict with us, we can end the friction by letting go of the matter. If we think that we will be in peace only when the other person stops creating conflict, then after one conflict ends, another one will start. How long are we going to wait for others to change so that we can be free of troubles?
Obstacles and tests of various kinds confront us from time to time. In school, do we pass exams when we study well or do we pass only if the questions are easy? Similarly, in life it is up to us to pass or fail or complain. Situations will not change for our sake and it is our job to overcome them.
In the journey of self-improvement, we are sometimes attached to a person, place or object, or we lack a virtue or power. But if we are unaware of these shortcomings, we make no effort to remove them, and instead we make excuses for why we cannot progress.
The result is that we become tired of ourselves, and sometimes tired of others. We hold on to our weaknesses and expect others to do something for us, forgetting that we just need to let go. A bird cannot fly if it keeps holding on to a branch, no matter how much it flaps its wings. No one can help it fly if it does not let go of what it is holding.
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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.
How powerful thoughts lead to powerful meditation
Who is it that is sitting in meditation? It is the soul, within the body. The soul is the living energy of light. In meditation, the soul, through thoughts, connects with the Supreme Soul, the source of all spiritual power. The Supreme Soul is incorporeal, the ocean of knowledge, purity and peace. The act of sitting in meditation in this way gives the soul power, and transformation takes place so that words, thoughts and actions become elevated.
First, the soul has to have a clear intellect. The mind needs to be pure. A clear intellect with a clear and clean mind creates stillness for a clear reflection of God’s signals. It is like the example of still water creating a perfect reflection of the moon, the sun, or nature — to the extent the water is still and clear, accordingly is the quality of the reflection. In the same way, our mind needs to be clean, still, with focused connection, without disturbance in between.
In order to make my mind clean, I have to work with thoughts. I have to clear negative thoughts and keep my mind occupied with pure thoughts. My focus should be on virtuous and powerful thoughts.
Some might experience that there is a lot of rubbish in the mind, and during meditation, many waste thoughts and weak thoughts come up. So, the intellect focuses on how much the mind is full of rubbish. Let us say there is a big garbage drum filled with rubbish. If you know that at the bottom of this drum there is a diamond, your focus will be, “I need to get to the diamond.” So, even though the rubbish is there, what are you seeing with your intellect? Are you seeing the rubbish or are you seeing the diamond? The focus has to be on pure and powerful thoughts. I focus on what is pure and powerful.
To receive power from God, The Supreme Soul, and begin to remove the rubbish of the soul and experience cleanliness and purity is to invoke God’s energy, with the determined thought that God is the purifier, the remover of sorrow, and the sun of knowledge. With this thought, you naturally begin to invoke the positive, powerful energy of God. Do not focus on the waste thoughts that come. For example, when we place a container under a running tap for cleaning, the rubbish stuck inside, and even around it, begins to come up. So, do not pay attention to any of the negative thoughts coming up, and continue with your effort.
It is not only in my thoughts that I am a pure and peaceful soul. With determination, I have to practise with a constant flow of positive energy, so that it will start working more and more on both, my thoughts and my words. These pure, powerful and positive thoughts will be expressed through my vision for myself as well as for others. It is not that I am the only pure and peaceful soul; whoever I speak to is also a pure and peaceful soul.
To make a thought a reality, you have to put it into action. It is not that we become fed up with someone and then say, “Although they have this personality, I will still have very pure and powerful thoughts for them.” Can it work that way? When there is any kind of mixture, and rubbish is coming out while we are trying to build a flow of good wishes for others, our thoughts will not be effective. This is why there is no power in the words when you say, ‘I have forgiven the person, and yet continue to feel sorrow’.
When my mind is engaged in my own weaknesses, my own situations, my own problems, there is interference, and I cannot, then, connect with God. It is the same as when clouds form: even though the sun is shining, I cannot catch the rays. So, when I begin the practice of connecting with the Supreme Soul, God, then my mind and intellect become cleaner and clearer and all my thoughts become powerful so that my life begins to change.
B.K. Sudesh is director of the Brahma Kumaris’ services in Europe.
Existence is the full view of God
It is said that man is living in a bottle and wants to come out of it. But he has to come out of the bottle without breaking it. It’s the truth of life but very few reach out to it. Humanity thinks they are the bottle and identify with the label attached to the bottle. Identity becomes a dilemma. People are in a hopeless situation including the speaker as he doesn’t get what he hopes for. Every day one creates a new hope and runs after it to be hopeless.
That which is existence does not change and has never changed as it exists as existence. What we call existence is only a word to denote it. We can’t define existence as the opposite of non-existence but that-which-is. We have to use the meaning of the opposite to define the definition as to say, we have to use time and language can only be said in time. You are either that or this. But that-which-is is both this that and also not this that. It is a limitation of language. Existence has not changed from the day it was imagined to have come into existence. It does not begin nor end. It simply exists. Man exists like existence. Then why does he live in dilemma? What is this becoming something? What is this hopelessness?
The dilemma is of the time. Man thinks his life is changing. This change is a circle, man goes around and comes back to the point where he had begun. Change never happens in existence. If you are a student of existence, you would understand through existence change does not happen, change happens outside of it. Nothing changes. But if you are a student of time, you would understand change happens. Time is created by change. Time is changing, it changes as per mind. Mind is evolved due to comprehension of change. Time has evolved as a measurement of change. Mind is a physical entity and artificiality of mind is meant for measuring the unit of change that we have adopted as part of the artificiality of life. What we call second, minute, hour, day, and year are units of measurement of time that the mind thinks is happening as change.
In existence, we exist. Whatever happens as part of the body and environment, our mind takes note and measures it in terms of time. If you are walking, mind calculates the walk, say you walked for one hour. Mind is just to keep an account and can also tell you that you have a meeting after one hour but the mind is not being in existence. You walk and if you walk fully conscious of your existence, only the walking remains, you become the walking. That makes you meet to be one with existence consciously. At best time can be described as a tool. I could turn my being into a period of time or the distance travelled into words of knowledge to note down on my memory, it is not being in the being—it is utility. We hope to get something. Man is running after hope, his senses, and God that is also hope.
Existence is simple, straight, and gullible. The mind of the man is most critical and it fancies criticality and complexity. It is born to communicate. Communication bred competence. It has evolved complexities. The mind lives in complexities and doesn’t fancy simplicity. Thus, the mind has evolved into an ego. Ego wants to go to the moon, to Everest, to deep waters. Ego builds fancy houses to compete. Ego wants to do everything to look distinguished and to do all that, you need time. All those things happen in time. If you want to be what you are, then you can be right here and now. You want to be what you hope to be that won’t happen as you can be right now and not in future as existence exists. It doesn’t exist in hope of tomorrow to be. You don’t change a bit. What you were in childhood, you remain the same in youth and in old age but your body changes. Change is time so change passes you by. Time passes you by, you don’t pass time. Time simply pass by in the watch that tells chronological time or your mind that tells psychological time. Your mind is changing.
All religions teach goodness. Goodness becomes morality which is societal. If you are good, society will continue forever. All religions are divided between whether God is formless or distinct, whether God is of some virtues but existence is both good and bad. Religions are belligerent. Existence is the God. Existence is both birth and death, darkness and light, good and bad, formless and distinct. Such words that seem opposite are two points of the same thing. Existence is the sum total of all the opposites. Time is duality. Existence is one. God is as much in a good person as much in a bad person. Goodness is followed by badness, and vice-versa. Existence doesn’t follow morality preached by religion. Religion understands God in the limitation of language. Language is half-truth. ‘No’ can be defined as the opposite of ‘Yes’. If there was no ‘Yes’, ‘No’ would not have survived. If both are said together, they will have no meaning. Existence views them together. To say something to the existence, language is not needed. All religious scriptures are languages that man has accepted as maps to tread upon in the event of no hope. But hope is there. Thus, hopelessness disturbs him but doesn’t make him hopeless. To go out of the bottle: break the bottle or don’t. To come out of the bottle without breaking it, see the bottle from the side of existence and not by the side of the bottle. The choice is yours.
The author is a spiritual teacher.
The pleasures of dispassion
Dispassion or vairagya is one of the pillars of the highest knowledge. Dispassion is not apathy. Often, we think of dispassion as being totally unenthusiastic, depressed or not interested in anything. This is not . Dispassion is a lack of feverishness.
Dispassion does not take the joy away from you. Dispassion gives you joy that nothing else can give you. There is a verse in Shankaracharya’s composition Bhaja Govindam, “Kasya sukham na karoti viragaha?” which means “What pleasure cannot be given by dispassion? It gives all the pleasures because you are so totally in the moment.”
Dispassion does not divide you. In fact, it connects you to the present moment totally. When you are not dispassionate, you are linked to the past or future. So, you are not connected to the present. Therefore you are more divided.
When your mind is expecting something in the future or regretting the past, you are not in the moment. But when you are centred, you are totally in the moment. So when you are eating, you can enjoy every bite. Every look, every sight is fresh and new. Your love is like the first love. You look at everything like it is the first time.
The term ‘dispassion’ can also be misunderstood and appear so dry. People who are melancholic or sad think that they are being dispassionate. They run away from the world and say that they have renounced it. That is not renunciation.
Dispassion is something more precious, refined and more valuable in life. There are several types of dispassion. You are dispassionate because you realize the misery in the world. The events in life — the pain, the suffering one experience’s or sees — brings dispassion.
The second type of dispassion is born out of the desire to reach something higher. Some consider dispassion as a path to enlightenment. If you renounce something here you gain something out there. Those who are seeking enlightenment practice austerities and take vows for a better place in heaven.
The third type of dispassion comes out of wisdom or knowledge. A broader understanding of the transient nature of things brings a state of non-attachment to any events, objects, people or situations, that lets you remain calm and unperturbed.
Here is a story. When Alexander the Great left for India, people had told him, “If you find sanyasis there, just catch hold of them and bring them back here. They are very precious in India.” So Alexander sent word but nobody would come forward. He then sent a message threatening them: “If you don’t come, I am going chop off your heads.”
They still did not come. He threatened them further: “I am going to take away your books, the four Vedas. I’ll take all you have and your scriptures.”
The people said they would give him all the books the next evening. The pundits then called their children and made them memorise the script all night. They then took the manuscripts to Alexander and said, “You can take them, we do not need them.”
When Alexander finally came face to face with the ‘sanyasis’, he threatened to cut off their heads. The sanyasis told him he was free to do as he pleased. Alexander could not look into their eyes. He could not tolerate the power of dispassion. For the first time, he had met someone who did not care for the emperor.
When Alexander came to India, some people presented him with a plate of gold bread. He told them he was hungry but they had told him since he was an emperor he could not eat wheat bread. He told them he was starving and wanted bread. To which the people said: “Don’t you get bread in your country? Are you going all over and trying to conquer the world just to eat the same bread we are eating?” The statement shook Alexander’s world. It made him realise that what they were saying was the truth. He thought to himself: “What is the point of conquering the world? When all you want is happiness and peace.” Legend has it, Alexander then proclaimed: “When I die, leave my hands open. Let people know that Alexander, who thought he had taken everything is leaving the world with nothing.”
Dispassion is the strength in you. When you are centred and calm, you can understand that everyone who has come to this world has come to give something to this world. We have nothing to take from here.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.
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