ONE WAY TO STOP OVERTHINKING - The Daily Guardian
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Spiritually Speaking

ONE WAY TO STOP OVERTHINKING

B.K. Shivani

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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.

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Spiritually Speaking

THE UNKNOWN POWER OF HUMILITY

Charlie Hogg

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One of the most profound ways of describing a spiritual journey is to say that it is ultimately the dismantling of the ego. This dismantling finally reveals the natural and original qualities of the soul, one of which is the huge, and perhaps unrecognised, power of humility.

In a world where what appears to be true is often false, what appears to be false is often true, what seems like a strength can be a weakness and what is perceived as a weakness is actually a force of power, it is easy to see how the quality of humility could be misunderstood. Humility is a huge power. It is based on self-respect. When someone is truly humble, they radiate a beautiful, gentle quality and strength. They are rarely offended or feel insulted or hurt by anything. One who is humble can respect everyone and everyone will respect them. When we meet someone who is truly humble, a rare thing in this world, our hearts automatically go out to them.

However, it is a quality greatly misunderstood. People fear that being humble will mean that others will walk all over them. In fact, a truly humble person will stand up for themselves and will not permit anyone to abuse them or push them around. Humility does not mean bowing down to everyone. One with humility will deal with all the different situations in life in a gentle, loving, kind and considerate way. They will never blame or accuse others and therefore they win real love from the hearts of others.

There are three ways that the quality of humility is misunderstood. First, there is a religious or devotional humility which is more subservience than humility; a bowing down to everyone and the suppressing the real self. Secondly, there is humble obedience, but that is based on fear; fear of losing the respect, attention, or admiration of someone. So, there is obedience to everything that person wants. The third misunderstanding is that of being submissive. We all have opinions and yet we feel that supressing those opinions, especially in a gathering, is humility. Sometimes we may be bursting with things to say, and yet feel we are being humble if we suppress them all. All of this is because we want others to like us and fear that our opinions may alienate them.

However, true humility is born of the understanding of who I really am. I am a spiritual being of light, occupying the body on this field of action. I have forgotten this and therefore I identify with the body and consequently have two shadows hanging over me. One is the shadow of ego, a feeling of superiority and arrogance and the other is of inferiority, a lack of self-respect. I know if I am being truly humble when I am not internally criticising those around me, when I do not see others as far beneath me or see myself as hopelessly inadequate. If I am hurt by anyone then I know I am operating from ego.

Every day, on our spiritual journey, we constantly revisit the consciousness of being the soul, separate from the body and all its labels and roles, a pure being of light. Then our natural and original qualities emerge, one of which is ‘egolessness’, a real and honest humility.

Charlie Hogg, based in Sydney, is the National Co-ordinator, Brahma Kumaris, Australia.

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Spiritually Speaking

WHY WE NEED TO BE MERCIFUL

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When we talk of compassion or mercy, some people ask if it is possible to practice compassion in a world of cut-throat competition. In the business world everyone has their vested interest, so where is the space for mercy? But when we recognise that the whole world is one family, we are all interconnected and dependent on each other in many ways, we recognise the need to care about our fellow human beings. Without compassion we would not share our resources, time, and energy to solve common problems.

In a competitive world, people, companies, and countries are unwilling to share their resources. This is where spirituality comes in. When the soul is full of virtues such as peace, love, and purity, has the strength to tolerate and accommodate, and understands its role as a member of the human family, sharing comes naturally.

But there are some obstacles to being merciful. Ego blocks compassion in different ways. It breeds indifference and callousness. Then there is a defeatist attitude. When a problem is too big, we may think, ‘What can I do about it?’, ‘What difference will it make if I change?’ Such thinking comes from lack of courage, and not recognising that I can set an example for others and become an instrument to bring about change.

Attachment limits our compassion to people and places we feel close to, and we ignore those we do not know. We can check what our feelings are for people we know and like, those we do not know, and those who have hurt us at some time. Detachment from such experiences is necessary in order to be compassionate towards everyone. If someone has hurt us, the experience need not limit our kindness, instead it can inspire us to rise above the limitations of negative feelings, with the recognition that like us, every other soul is a child of God and deserves mercy.

Compassion brings rewards in the form of a sense of fulfilment, and what researchers have called the ‘helper’s high’. The feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing something for others without expecting any return produces biochemical changes in the body, boosting its immune system. It has been found that those who help and care for others live longer, happier and more stable and productive lives.

On the other hand, when we are selfish and uncaring, we fail to appreciate even the good in others. Such appreciation is also a form of mercy. It boosts the other person’s sense of self-worth. But sometimes we may be too lazy to do even that. Laziness makes us uncaring: ‘Why bother about them?’

On the spiritual path, the effort that we make towards self-improvement brings various insights as we progress. The insights make our effort more subtle and take us closer to our goal of becoming perfect – free from defects and full of virtues. But spiritual growth is not just about personal development. Keeping our knowledge and wisdom to ourselves limits us and hinders our growth. Sharing what we have learnt is part of the journey of self-improvement. That also counts as mercy. Being compassionate is natural to the human soul, and when we give expression to this quality, we flourish, creating happy relationships and earning the blessings of others.

Dr. Pratap Midha is Medical Director of the Global Hospital and Research Centre in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

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Spiritually Speaking

Mustering courage to be yourself

B.K. Jayanti

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In a world where no-one seems to know what is going to happen next, one of the biggest issues, for both men and women, is the escalation of an inner insecurity. This insecurity manifests in the very unpleasant behaviour of trying to control whatever is happening close to home. It can be trying to control the people around us or situations, but if we look closely, is that really possible? Look at the world, look at our own households – the rapidly rising bills and food prices, or even the weather – we have no control at all. But the one thing we do have control over is ourselves, our own inner world and whatever is going on there.

When I know myself really well, I can have faith and trust in myself. I will be able to go through any situation and also fly above it all and reach my own highest destination. However, very few people really know themselves. It takes great courage and endless patience to really understand the self. Each of us has two sides. One side to my personality may be beautiful, charismatic, and lovely. On the other side, the dark side, maybe there is a bad temper that is hidden away, or a critical fault-finding tendency, which I do not have the courage to express, but it is constantly festering. This will certainly have implications on my physical and mental health. I need to be able to see both sides – the dark as well as the light.

A very interesting exercise to begin the process is to write down what is bright within us and what is dark. The beauty I see within, will help me to see with courage the parts of me that need attention. When I begin to recognise what is within, and have a true desire to make the changes I need to make for a happy and fulfilling life, that is the beginning of a spiritual journey.

My own spiritual journey began based on the experience of being a soul, within the body, and of experiencing the love of God. Everyone is a soul, seated in the centre of the forehead and the soul sparkles once it reawakens to this awareness. In this awareness, it is very easy and natural to feel the presence of the Divine, the Supreme Soul, God.

If one takes the time to look throughout history every religion has spoken of God as light, not a physical light, but a spiritual light who is the source of all goodness and who radiates immense, powerful energy.

All souls look the same, if they were visible to the physical eye; they are concentrated light, in the form of a point. God looks exactly the same. The difference only lies in the qualities, with God’s qualities being supreme. In meditation, in connection with this source of all spiritual light and power, it feels like sunshine washing over me and all my own beautiful, intrinsic, original qualities of goodness and beauty begin to blossom. This inner journey gives me the trust and understanding that there is goodness within me, but of course, I need to remain in this awareness for it to manifest in my life and actions. As soon as I begin this journey, I can say yes, this is what I once was and what I can be again. The courage that comes from this, is from deep in the heart because I want it to be there all the time.

The courage to be yourself means to have the courage to come back to the original beauty of your highest potential – to feel it and see it, and keep moving forward to be able to express and manifest it. That is the journey.

B.K. Jayanti is Additional Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris.

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Spiritually Speaking

Haridwar gets two new Swagat Dwars as tourists click selfies with the brand new murals

In July 2020 due to incessant rains, a major part of the boundary wall in Haridwar built, in 1935, came crashing. At present, walking along the sacred Har ki Pauri (translates to ‘footsteps of the Lord’) ghat is a visual delight. The two new Swagat Dwars depicting the origins of Mother Ganga through the lens of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions are bound to grab your attention.

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In July 2020 due to incessant rains, a major part of the boundary wall in Haridwar built, in 1935, came crashing. At present, walking along the sacred Har ki Pauri (translates to ‘footsteps of the Lord’) ghat is a visual delight. The two new Swagat Dwars depicting the origins of Mother Ganga through the lens of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions are bound to grab your attention.

Har ki Pauri after natural disaster.Har ki Pauri after natural calamity.Old photograph of Har ki Pauri walls.Present status of Har ki Pauri after beautification.Past photograph of site where L.E.D screen was installed.Photograph of Har ki Pauri wall after placing murals.

Current status of L.E.D. screen at Har ki Pauri

The Har ki Pauri Development Project was undertaken by Sony India and The Art of Living, with guidance and authorisation from Shri Ganga Sabha. And if you spot high-tech LED screens displaying the sacred aarti the credit goes to this project. The requirement had been felt to redevelop and rebuild the place for devotees and pilgrims to have an unforgettable experience in Haridwar. 

“The Art of Living’s tremendous experience in social projects and Sony’s technical expertise were both combined to create a team which could execute this project smoothly. Sony India and the Art of Living signed an agreement for this project wherein the responsibilities for execution and approvals were mutually defined,” said Sanjay Bhatnagar, director, CHRO, Sony India Pvt. Ltd. 

Since time immemorial the Ganges at Haridwar (gateway to the Lord) holds a special significance in the hearts of Indians and is deeply interwoven with the culture and philosophy of over 1.2 billion Hindus all over the world. Haridwar holds a central place in the Hindu cultural identity and is closely associated with the idea of Moksha. 

Haridwar is one of the four sites along with Ujjain, Nashik and Prayagraj, where drops of amrita, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilt over from a kumbha (pitcher) while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda during the samudra manthan, or churning of the ocean of milk. Brahma Kund, the spot where the nectar fell, is located at Har ki Pauri (literally “footsteps of the Lord”) and is one of the most sacred ghats of Haridwar.

Har ki Pauri, famously known for its Kumbha Mela, holds a record for the maximum number of devotees that congregate together at one place to take a holy dip in the Ganga.  

The project aimed at carrying out development and beautification works at the Har ki Pauri ghat for enhancing the experience of devotees and pilgrims visiting every year. It is keeping this centrality and sacredness of Haridwar in mind that the Har ki Pauri Development Project was conceived.

The project scope included:

Two Swagat Dwars, to mark the formal boundary of the ghat while providing the visitor entering the ghat with a first look worthy of the stature of the place and the rich cultural heritage.

LED Screen, to allow the thousands that gather each evening for the divine Ganga aarti a chance to see the proceedings from a distance and hence reduce the overcrowding just in front of the ghat

Murals of the origins of Ganga, depicting the importance of Ganga and Haridwar in both the Shaivite and Vaishavite traditions

A shoe stall, that is befitting the sacred ambience of the place. 

Renovation of Shri Ganga Sabha room and installation of BRAVIA OLED television and home theatre.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living and Bhatnagar dedicated the project to the public formally.

The project was officially inaugurated on 7th April 2022, in a ceremony on the Ghat and the various developments were handed over to Shri Ganga Sabha for them to continue to ensure comfort and seamless experience for the pilgrims and devotees. 

Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami expressed his gratitude for the project. Dhami said, “Sony India along with Shri Ganga Sabha and The Art of Living has completed a successful project despite the many Covid-19 restrictions. Today, we are honoured to support the Har-Ki-Pauri project by providing the best environment for all pilgrims and devotees.”

In the entire process from ideation to execution, the project traversed through many challenges including a two-year long pandemic, approvals and discussions while looking at an ambitious deadline. The LED Screen was installed at the site and the construction of shoe stalls, both Swagat Dwars, Murals and Shri Ganga Sabha office were completed as per the proposed timeline and were handed over to Shri Ganga Sabha on 10th April 2021 before the commencement of Kumbh Mela 2021. 

“A formal ceremony could not be carried out because of the pandemic restrictions at this time but the project was put to work so that the pilgrims coming for the Kumbh Mela could derive the benefits of this endeavour.”

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Spiritually Speaking

The art of flowering in love

You are bound to become the flower of love. Inside you dawns the calmest and deep serenity submerged in deep love. Go there embrace it.

Arun Malhotra

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Who are we and where are we? We are in a world that is around us. The world is made of love. This world is an extension of love. We are born into this world because of our love and we live in this world because of love. All this happens because of love. Trees love flowers. Flowers love flowering. Flowering emit fragrances and colours. Bees and bugs love flowers. Swirling rounds of birds around the garden. Seeds enter the womb of mother earth. Immortality of seed births again. This universe is in deep love with birds, animals, trees, water, air, blue sky, sun, moon, planets and you. 

Man is also born of love. Man is the seed of love. Man lives on love. Without love, man has no existence. Love only makes him live. Love lends a feeling of his being. A feeling of being loved and not being neglected. Man lives in love. This earth is in deep love. Man who has touched new dimensions and fathomed deep seas of love does not drown in them. 

This world is the fountain of love. Love springs out of this fountain of love. Love is what we call life. Life is the fountain of love. But man constantly works against love. He seizes to be a man to be a devil. 

In this world, suffering and conflicts are caused in the absence of love. I am that I am which I am in deep love with myself with my being and being is in deep love with existence. And in this existence, the being of existence is the part of the being who exists as part of the existence. This being-ness of the being is the love between the two. This love is the oneness. This earth depends on the oneness of all. Disparities and divisions abound and they make the world loving and beautiful. Because in the gap of divisions, beauty is manifested.

The man continues to deny his being. He wants to be someone he is not. There he begins to sow seeds of hatred against his being. There he breeds regression and aggression. You don’t want to be that which you are but you want to be that which you think you should be. There he seeds a deep division. There he harvests desires and hopes to ensure continuity of pleasure derived from accumulated memories.  

Memories that you have accumulated in the mind. You are the whole book of mankind’s history. You look at your life from rear glass vision i.e. memories to drive forward the motor car of your life. You become a bad driver. In the artificiality of the human mind, the whole history of mankind is reflected. Man’s mind is the accumulated history of mankind. If the story of mankind is to be read one can read it word by word through one’s mind. It is embedded there. You are the book of the history of mankind. All your senses are a reproduction of the history of mankind. 

But love is a new direction. It has its direction. It does not come from the memories. It comes from the newness of your being. Any direction will land you into blindness. Love lends eyes to see. Your pleasures lend you to the direction of wars. Love lends you life. Therefore, love is so important. Love ends the hatred, war, miseries and conflicts. Love is directionless.

Loneliness or despair is bred in absence of love. You may be lost in the world. You may go after money, fame or power. But you are lost. Love brings you home.

You are bound to breed conflict. Because you are observing from behind the parameter of time. Chronological time and psychological time are like glancing through your present life from the chapters of history embedded in your mind. And projecting chapters of memories into the future of life. Destroying the present for a desire of an oasis in the desert of life to cash in the pleasures of memories.

To understand love remember that you have a state of your mind which has hatred, jealousy, fear and war that are synonyms of love. Mind is divided by history, cultures, ethnicities, religions, languages etc. Therefore, your love becomes religion, god, country, nationality, race, and ethnicity. Quite shamelessly, wars are also fought in the name of love. 

When melancholy is associated with love it becomes self-pity. Self-pity is the person begging for love. Therefore you think that you love but you love your thought. You have a concern about yourself that you dub love.

Humanity is not prepared to look at life face to face. What is humanity? Humanity is the perception of the mind. Humanity is not ready to perceive the mind’s avoidance of reality. Avoiding reality is prolonging the sense of staring at reality face to face. Your mind breeds fears. Fears of insecurity, loneliness and being hurt. But in love, fears, insecurities, and loneliness disappear.

When you are face to face with the reality that you are, you will find yourself looking at yourself. As if the whole existence is looking at you and as if you are the existence and the existence is looking at you. That deep love will awaken your life and will flower your life to make you the flame of life.

The flame of love will be lit when you become the flower of love. You are the loving flower in the flowerbed of existence and you are to flower into the flowering of yourself into attaining the flowering of your being. You are already that which is flowered in you.  

Your being is the ultimate source of love and joy. Your being is the fountain of love. Your being is a source of love that does not deplete. Hatred, aggression, and violence have covered up the source which is buried underneath them. That source of love is the source of life. Love is life. Rumi says love is light. Love is the ultimate treasure that you have that will give you happiness and joy worth more than all wealth and fame of the world. 

What you love hurts you when you make love a possession. You make your beloved into a slave and commodity when you call him or her yours. He or she is not yours. Beloved is an independent source of love. What a beautiful thing when two independent sources of love come together and between them, something mystical happens. We denote that by the word love. In this mystical event, the two perish and a mystical union is born. God takes over. God loves you. In front of your eyes, God is already there. God is touching your whole body and you are in it already. This existence is loving you every moment. But you keep denying it by bringing up your hatred and violence by desiring. Love is the canvas on which hatred, violence, aggression and suffering happen by desiring.

Understand the sutra, when you will love the love then you become the love. You will not be there. The two cannot pass through the narrow alley of love. Two have to become one. You have to go to the ocean of love to drown in the ocean of love to be able to love and be afloat.

That which is love is the ultimate mystery and a driving force in this universe. Buddha’s compassion is love. By being with the beloved by sitting by his or her side you bring the God by your side that’s the beginning of love. Jesus says Love is God. Jesus is flowered out of love. Buddha is flowered out of love. Mahavira is flowered out of love. Krishna is flowered out of love. You are bound to become the flower of love. Inside you dawns the calmest and deep serenity submerged in deep love. Go there embrace it.

The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be reached at arunavlokitta@gmail.com

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ACCEPTANCE IS BETTER THAN TOLERANCE

B.K. Geeta

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Tolerance is defined as the ability or willingness to allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of something that one dislikes or disagrees with, without interfering or being judgmental.

It implies the exercise of patient self-control, restraint and endurance. It is considered one of the marks of a civilized society where people can express varying opinions and practise different beliefs without fear of discrimination, violence or persecution.

But when we tolerate something, there is a subtle undercurrent of resistance or rejection, mixed with a feeling of dislike. We feel under pressure because we are having to do something we do not really like but feel compelled to do in order to conform to social norms, live up to our behavioural or moral standards, or be politically correct.

Because of this we do not feel at ease when we have to tolerate a situation or a person’s behaviour, and wish that they would end or go away.

In such a situation, our state of mind is not positive. We make a show of tolerance but are unhappy inside, and our feelings are negative. Consequently, such tolerance does not foster harmonious relationships, or provide the best solution to difficult situations.

If a person has to tolerate something for long and feels that there is no escape from such a fate, or thinks that others do not understand what they are going through, they are likely to become angry or resentful. They may even turn aggressive and refuse to put up with the situation anymore. In either case they are not going to be happy.

Some resignedly tell themselves that they are doomed to tolerate someone or something all their life. Others turn to dark humour and try to laugh away the blues. None of these attitudes will bring lasting peace or joy.

Faced with anything that we do not like or approve of, it is much better to practice acceptance. When we accept a person or situation, we are at peace with them and they do not disturb our mind.

But to be able to accept something that is not to our liking we need to have some understanding of why it is that way.

It is easy to get angry with someone who is habitually rude or careless, but if I talk to the person to get to know them better, and find out that they are that way because of their present or past circumstances, or because no one has ever pointed out their faults to them, I will find it easier to accept them.

I also need to understand that almost everyone faces challenges in life, goes through tough times, and we all have our faults. When I focus on others’ weaknesses, I may lose sight of my own; while I may not have the same faults as others, I might have other defects that people around me have to put up with.

Acceptance does not mean acquiescing to something wrong, but understanding why it is happening, and not getting upset by it, even as we take steps to protect ourselves from harm, or to remedy the situation if we can.

Acceptance is also necessary if we want to help others. If I just tolerate someone, it will show in my behaviour and language, and the other person will sense the subtle vibrations of rejection or dislike emanating from me. But when I accept them, it puts them at ease and brings them closer to me, enabling a frank yet friendly exchange of views. Friendly advice is more likely to help others than a critical comment or a stern lecture.

Thus, a little introspection, compassion, broad-mindedness and common sense can help me live in peace with different and difficult people and circumstances and even change things for the better.

B.K. Geeta is a Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan.

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