Marriage is an institution of patience, sacrifice, caring for each other, and sharing. Our ancient people spoke about saptapadi—the seven steps one takes in life. The hallmarks of a happy marriage are a sense of commitment, co-operation, compassion, caring and less ego. The relationship can bring us strength or weakness depending on the mind. If the mind is strong then relationships are a gift to us, but if the mind is weak and not in control, then relationships can feel like bondage. If you hold each other’s necks, it will feel like bondage. If you walk together, shoulder-to-shoulder with each other, it will serve as a support. So be a support each other, be a companion and move forward.
In marriage you should consider the other person as your own part—like your arm, or leg. It’s two bodies, one mind, one soul. So, whatever your spouse desires, you make it your own desire. Your spouse’s taste, consider it as your own taste. The conflict arises when your tastes start moving apart. You should start saying your taste is my taste; your pleasure is my pleasure. I am here for you, rather than, what can you do for me? When we approach the relationship with ‘What can you do for me?’, then both partners become unhappy. In a happy marriage each couple resolves “I’m here for you, come what may, happy times or unhappy times! In life sometimes there are disappointments, sometimes there is success. In either case, ‘I’m with you.”
Let us address some common issues.
Possessiveness: Many times it could be the way your own mind functions because of possessiveness. Whether it’s before or after marriage, if you are too possessive, the other person will run away. Trying to control or possess somebody may not be a very intelligent idea. When you are possessive, the whole chain of negative thoughts is triggered.
Appease yourself: Often you like to be pleased, appeased and cajoled. So you put up a tough, upset face and act difficult to please. Lovers often do this. They expend a lot of energy in cajoling and this brings down the joy and celebration of the moment. People who keep a long face and expect others to cajole and appease them make others run away. It is okay for you to show your upset mood or tendency once in a while, but doing it over and over again is taxing for you and the people you love. If you feel down, appease and please yourself. Your need to be appeased by someone else is a sign of grossness. If you want attention, all you get is tension.
Horoscope matching: If you feel like matching horoscopes, then get it done. Otherwise, you will always have a doubt in mind whether it will match or not. Now, suppose you like the other person in all ways but just something doesn’t match in the horoscope, then there is a solution to it. Meditate, pray, and do havan (fire rituals) and everything will be sorted out. It is not difficult to please all the planets. Chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and it is done.
Misunderstandings/mistakes: There is a proverb which says, ‘It is only through words that conflicts begin. It is only through words that people have fun. It is only through words that people gain wealth. So, words should be used sparingly.’ Usually, when people have some misunderstanding, they say, ‘Let us talk it out.’ This does not work at all. Just move on. Don’t sit and discuss or ask any explanation about the past. When a mistake happens, it happens, that’s it. Move on. Just imagine yourself in a position where you do a mistake and someone keeps asking for an explanation about it. It is such a burden to explain or to justify oneself. Never make the other person feel guilty. The bond of friendship gets loosened. There is a skill in making a person aware of his mistake without making him feel guilty. If one is upset, the other partner should keep quiet and wait for his/her turn to get upset. If both get upset at the same time, then there is a problem! And in front of kids, one should be civilised. Know that ‘Oh, my spouse is upset! Okay.’ Give him or her the time to be upset. Don’t question ‘Why are you so upset?’ If someone is upset, the other gets angry and expects them not to be upset. This is a big mistake! Someone is upset, give them that space.
Never doubt their love: Do not question their love. If you find that they are not being loving, instead of accusing them, ‘You do not love me’, ask them, ‘Why do you love me so much?’ Just imagine, if someone keeps accusing you, saying you are not kind to them, you are not pleasant with them, you are not friendly, you feel nagged. Nobody wants to be in the company of a person who complains all the time. Does anybody want to be in the company of a person who nags you, and to whom you have to explain and give proof of your love all the time? No! It is such a burden, such boredom! A good company is one who always uplifts the spirit. If somebody is not in a good mood, they say, ‘Hey, come on! Forget about it. Let’s move on.’ Someone who has enthusiasm, someone who always pushes you forward is good company. Someone who asks for explanations, doubts and questions you is not good company. So never doubt someone’s love for you. Never question or complain all the time. Demand destroys love. Never demand love from your spouse. Take it for granted they love you, but that’s it, finished, you know! So when we start demanding and policing our spouse, we get into a mess.
Just be yourself: Be natural and be simple. Relationships develop naturally. If you try to build a relationship that is when you become a little artificial. Then your behaviour becomes artificial which is not natural. Just imagine someone is trying to impress you, don’t you notice that? If someone is trying to impress you, what do you do? You move away. See what you like, that is what others like as well. You like someone to be very honest, open, natural, unassuming with you, correct?! That is exactly what others also want from you. Don’t try hard to impress them. Then everything goes bad. Best is to be yourself, to be natural, to be forgiving and to be in the present moment. It makes a big difference.
As time passes in a relationship, a couple witnesses that expectations and attitudes change. The relationship can become better with more yoga and meditation practice. We can learn how to communicate better in the relationship, to be more patient and forgiving. Again and again, the cycle rotates from rosy and glorious bliss to momentary shakiness. Commitment is what holds it together, when you decide not to fall. Spirituality is what gives the strength to see it through.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.
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EVERYONE’S ADDICTED TO OVERTHINKING
Overthinking means obsessing over the details and nuances that have occurred in our interactions with others, and in the situations we find ourselves in. We are usually thinking about the past, even just this morning, or overthinking about what is to happen; all our emails, our ‘to do’ list. Each of us generates 35,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day and most of those are the same thoughts that we had yesterday or even a year ago. Yet each of us is longing for peace. But because we have created these deep grooves or patterns of thinking, these neural pathways, because we have allowed ourselves to just think any old thing, we are now reaping the repercussions of an uncontrolled mind.
In fact, the greatest work any of us can do to bring benefit to the world around us, is to stop this overthinking. We need to create new, powerful pathways and patterns. Because each thought we have has its own energy. The first person to feel the impact of that energy is us. We can all feel the difference of holding a happy thought and holding a jealous, critical thought. The contrast of lightness and joy and the heavy, sluggish feeling of meanness. There is no easy, quick fix. But every step towards creating new grooves of peaceful thought patterns is beneficial to me and everyone around me.
There are three ways in which we overthink. The first is about the self—self-talk. The second is about the behaviour and character of others, and the third is about the situations in our life. When we talk to the self, we need to have self-empowering thoughts that bring inner strength. What usually happens is that because of low self-esteem, we think in an arrogant way and exhibit controlling behaviour, or we obsess over our most vulnerable weak points, and pile on the guilt and criticism. We need to understand that our thinking mind has been programmed by our family, culture, education system, workplace and society in general. We need to step back and see that behind this thinking mind is an inner space of peace that is me. As we learn to do this the mind begins to quieten down.
When we identify with this ‘me’ that is behind the mind, we can feel the intrinsic peace there, and can operate from that place of peace. We can learn to become more aware of the things we are telling ourselves, and make sure it is kind and supportive, the way we would talk to our friends. The starting point is, ‘I am a peaceful being.’
In thinking about others, we can see that we expect everyone to think the way we do, behave the way we believe is the right way to behave. Once we understand that we have our own unhelpful thought patterns, we will be able to accept other people just as they are. It is an act of graciousness. When we feel ‘upset’ by another, the reaction is to blame them for how we are feeling. This is an illusion. It is my own thoughts that are creating the pain. The other is not responsible. It takes great courage to recognise this and stop projecting and take responsibility for each thought I create.
Situations are the same. Some of us can cope with all the big dramatic happenings in life, but trip over the trivia. But the small things have long tentacles reaching back into a long-forgotten past. The most common questions that arise in an uncomfortable, or sudden situation, are ‘what?’ and ‘why?’. We need to work with an acceptance of what is happening and who is involved. Otherwise, we are in overdrive, overthinking, responding from anxiety or irrationality. When we move from, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ to ‘What do I have to learn from this?’ everything shifts—we go from the external to the internal and then we can see how to contribute in a very beautiful way, with deep good wishes. Then we can let it all melt into the past, the place where it belongs.
Taking this inner journey and connecting to the Divine, the Higher Source, God—the One behind all the scenes, who is the source of all power and peace, is the way to change the self, and subsequently, the world.
Margaret Barron has a BA in Adult Education and Training and helps co-ordinate the Education Department at the Brahma Kumaris International centre in London.
THE MIND CREATES OUR WORLD
Our body, work, home, and circumstances, all comprise our external world. I am the energy that we call consciousness, or the soul. Everything else is outside us. Our outer world is important to us, but we need to understand how this world is created. Often, when a situation, health issue or a conflict in relationships arises, we think, ‘Why did this happen’? Then we think about what we need to do. We usually start looking around us to find a solution. We try to resolve the conflict, or heal the body, or sort out things at work; we want the outer world to be perfect.
But when things do not work out the way we want in spite of our efforts, we need to look at the connection between our outer and inner worlds.
We are conditioned from childhood to think that our feelings, memories and thoughts are dependent on the outer world. We can check if we have been conditioned this way. Some signs of it are thoughts such as, ‘I am upset because of what they said…’, ‘I am disturbed by what is happening to the planet…’.
Such thoughts strengthen our conditioning, which tells us that whatever is going on in the mind is the result of what is happening outside. Since things outside are not entirely in our control, we end up creating stress, worry, fear, depression, and panic. We tell ourselves that the world is in a mess, so obviously I cannot be happy. This is why, during the first two years of the Covid pandemic, which is a physical health issue, there was a marked rise in reported cases of mental health issues.
But when we change the equation, recognising how our outer world is being created by our thoughts, we gain control over our life. We can test this. Just create a thought and see if the thought just remains in the mind or does it affect my life. If we think, ‘It has been a beautiful day today’, we feel nice. But if we think, ‘The day has been terrible’, how do we feel? Our feelings are the first to be affected by our thoughts. But we tend to focus on our feelings, ‘I am feeling good today…’, ‘I am not feeling well…’. We do not recognise that our thoughts have created those feelings.
Our thoughts also radiate vibrations, which affect the body. Medical science tells us that the majority of diseases are psychosomatic — caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress. What we call lifestyle diseases are not caused just by our diet, level of physical activity, and sleep patterns. We may be eating the healthiest foods and exercising regularly, but if we create the wrong kind of thoughts, their effect on the body will eventually show in the form of an illness.
Then, our thoughts shape our relationships. We may be on our best behaviour with someone and say all the right things, but if we have critical or judgmental thoughts about them every day, they will catch that from our vibrations.
We also worry about people we love – ‘What if something happens to them…’. This will deplete our energy as well as theirs. It is much better to care for others, which nourishes and empowers them.
Our work gets similarly affected by our thoughts. I may be working sincerely and hard, but if I am jealous, comparing myself with others, trying to outdo them, I will not be happy.
The same applies to the environment, and the planet. Just as the atmosphere of a house is created by the vibes of those who live there, the current state of the planet is the result of the thinking of all those living on it.
So, to fix our outer world, we can start by putting our inner world in order.
B.K. Shivani is a well-known motivational speaker and Rajyoga teacher.
How to keep a cool head
Meditation is a wonderful instrument for developing this state of mind, but even those well on the way to such stability can sometimes be knocked off balance.
The India-born author and poet Rudyard Kipling famously described emotional stability in his poem If: A Father’s Advice to His Son. The poem begins: ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs – and blaming it on you.’
The poem contains much timeless wisdom, but to many of us today it would seem like an impossible ideal.
When we meet an emotionally stable person, however, they do seem to have an enviable aura of calm around them. We feel they are in balance, and that if we present them with any kind of problem, they will give carefully considered answers towards a solution.
People like this are good to have around in a family or a workplace. They appear slightly detached from the ‘goings on’, and yet sympathetic and warm.
Meditation is a wonderful instrument for developing this state of mind, but even those well on the way to such stability can sometimes be knocked off balance. Overwork can do it, brought on by an inability to delegate when needed, or feelings of anxiety when a huge ‘to do’ list seems never to be completed.
In a desperate attempt to regain our composure, we sometimes start to dwell on negative emotions, finding a strange kind of security in that because of the response it brings – sympathy, a kindly ear, or words of encouragement. But we cannot play that card too often, or people will get fed up with us.
Sometimes, a little trigger can cause a big reaction. That ‘little’ thing may be a catalyst for unravelling a whole ribbon of deeper issues that really need our attention. When we feel desperate to help another, or have many negative thoughts and ideas circulating in the mind about others, it is time to put things into perspective. We cannot fight everyone’s battles, but we can regain our composure.
It may start with sitting quietly, relaxing, maybe with a cup of tea, stepping back a little and deliberately tuning into a different, peaceful frame of mind. If it is within our ability to help the person or situation, then we can resolve to do so, but if it is beyond our ability to help directly we need to recognise that. At least by regaining our composure, we can use the mind to transmit powerful feelings of benevolence and goodwill.
A truly emotionally stable person has learned the art of mastering thoughts and feelings. When the power to do this is missing, it can be regained through connecting our own mind to the mind of the Supreme Being, the pure and bodiless one from whom we all came, and to whom we will all one day return. This is the essence of Rajyoga meditation.
Becoming emotionally out of control is unappealing, and can destroy relationships. One of the most beautiful qualities of an emotionally stable person is their dignity. Once regained, it feels a very precious quality to have, to be maintained and protected with calm composure, love, empathy, and determination.
Maureen Goodman is the Programme Director for the Brahma Kumaris UK, and BK NGO representative to the United Nations in Vienna.
Reboot the hacked mind to uninstall malware
Human brain is a physical entity. Brain has 85 billion neurons. Together all these neurons implement a mind in the brain. Human mind cannot know the mind itself. Human mind can know the brain. Human mind can observe the mind of someone else. Mind cannot observe one’s own mind.
A conscious mind is not conscious of itself. To be a mind one has to be the being first. And the one who is the being is the one who is the conscious being. A Conscious being is the one on whose canvas of consciousness a mind is conceived and operated.
Mind is operated on the body of the brain by application of 85 billion neurons that implement a mind. But no mind can operate itself. Mind is like an operating system and the brain hardware. Human body conceives a brain to birth a mind. Perception and memory are data that neurons carry back and forth that are processed in the mind. But mind cannot process data without theories and concepts. To run thoughts, memory, logic, decisions and cognising, theories and concepts are needed. Perception becomes thought and memory to breed concepts and theories. Therefore software is needed to run all that. Mind auto-creates dynamic software of theories and concepts within mind to implement the mind.
When you see, touch, hear, and feel perception is created. When you saw a flower for the first time perception is created. Next time you might call it a flower because perception birthed the thought that accompanies it. A flower becomes data. Now you do need a mind to cognise the flower but you may see it unconsciously to let neurons use data.
Neurons are conscious because of the consciousness in us. Neurons on their own are not conscious. Cognition happens because of consciousness. Cognition could either be conscious or unconscious cognition. In actuality, when you are conscious being, you may also look at the flower in the flower-ness of its being fully conscious. When accompanied by thought it reduces to data, a name.
Human body is a device. We use the body as a device. But we don’t consider body as a device. We consider that we are the body. We use mind as the mind. But we consider that we are the mind.
In fact, mind is made of senses. Existence has a mind of its own. Consciousness is the sum of all senses manifested and invisible in existence. Mind is divided into functional parts one which can store information, one for pleasure, one for optical vision, one for cognition, one for measurement, one for hearing, one for feeling, one for language, one for fear, one for enjoyment ecstasy and so on.
In aeons of existence, human mind has become a repository of huge data. Therefore, a dangerous situation is created, man is talking, dreaming, and desiring unconsciously during day and night. And one has become one’s thought. You are not your thought. But you think you are your thought. I am not my own thought. An ego is created by thought.
Ego is like malware which has hacked your mind. Now, your mind not only creates illusion but mind has become an illusion. It keeps making you unhappy.
Mind is not a reality. When you dream in thoughts during the day, reality confronts you and your dream is under dreamt. In sleep, your dream is fully dreamt because actual reality is not there to confront the dream. Dreams and thoughts are data-led.
We are living a life we have assumed as a pre-assumption, a thought. A life driven on pre-assumption is a data-driven life, a kind of black magic that is cast on you. You are captivated to think as if you are the mind. But you are not the mind.
All senses are auto-hypnotic. We get captivated first by body then mind then ego then culture society and so on. Our Society is built on the artificiality of ego and society and culture are lost to the malware.
Mind is hacked by the ego which disguises as mind and makes your mind think that you are the mind. You are not the mind. It lends you an artificial life. It creates a world. You live in your own world of ego. No one else lives in it. Everyone has created a world to live in. ‘One World’ is a utopian dream. Everyone lives in a different world captivated by the malware.
Seers say ego is a wound. But ego is a magnet. It lures happiness. Because ego in the first place is unhappiness. The unhappiness of ego feels you unhappy. It breeds desire for happiness. Ego wants to fulfil the desire. If a desire is fulfilled ego instantly desires a bigger desire than the one fulfilled. That makes you greatly unhappy like never before.
Even God cannot remove this malware from your operating system. You have to reboot your operating system. Because your mind creates it and lets your body and mind be taken by it. Let’s meet this malware eye to eye. You desire happiness for that you run after money to lose your money and assets in the end. Life loots you. Life cheats your money wealth assets relations. In the first place it was the ego that takes over you making you unhappy because you never meet it eye to eye in the first place.
You call yourself a body. You call yourself a mind. Then you are mesmerised by your ego and you forget who you are. You live like the one under a spell.
Obsessed under the spell you stay unfulfilled. Because malware creates a gap. Ego is a gap. It creates a gap between you and fulfilment. Desire is a gap between you and fulfilment. So far the desire would be there you will always be unfulfilled. So ego wants you to be happy. Understand the magic spell that corrupts your operating system. Ego wants you to be happy and creates a desire for making you happy. Desire is a gap between you and fulfilment. So by desiring you will never be happy. If you look at it with penetrating eyes, it means that you want to be happy again. You want to end up exactly there where you began from. Because you were never unhappy in the first place. Understand the spell. That you are not happy is the trick of the ego to enchant you.
You are born blissful. Thoughts are data-driven and mind is like a camera that keeps shooting. Camera cannot shoot its own picture. Therefore, mind cannot be conscious of the mind. Your being has to be conscious of your mind. Living in a world of data-driven thoughts, mind ensures that you stay unconscious to let your life be in the hands of your ego. Because when you are not conscious of your being, by default mind will ensure that all that you do is data-led. The whole journey of mind and ego lead you to be unconscious continuously in your life to make you fully unconscious when you are dead.
To reboot your operating system, be conscious in the now-ness of your being. Data-driven thoughts are perishable. In wakefulness, they perish when your system no more needs them. Therefore, go see the flower in the flower-ness of its being. Sit in the now-ness of your being. Don’t die unconsciously live consciously.
The author is a spiritual teacher. He can be reached at email@example.com
Navadha Bhakti: The nine ways of connecting with Shri Krishna
Here are the nine ways in which we can relate to God. We are free to select the particular connection with God which suits our personal temperament.
Bhakti is the foundation of all spiritual practice. It is both a means and an end in itself.
What is the nature of Bhakti?
The Narada Bhakti Sutras say: ‘It is of the nature of supreme love towards Shri Krishna’ (2nd Sutra).
How does this love towards the divine manifest itself? The Srimad Bhagavatam (7.5.23), delineates the nine ways (Navadha Bhakti) in which we can lovingly connect with Shri Krishna:
1 Hearing about God (Shravana)
2 Chanting His Name and Glory (Kirtana)
3 Remembering Him (Smarana)
4. Serving His Lotus Feet (Pada Sevana)
5. Worshipping Him as per the Scriptures (Archana)
6. Prostrating before Him (Vandana)
7. Being His Servant (Dasya)
8. Befriending Him (Sakhya)
9. Offering Oneself to Him (Atma Nivedana)
1). Shravana: Listening to His divine name, His divine form, His Qualities, Actions, Mysteries etc., and getting lost in His glorious Lila is known as Shravana. From where should we hear about God? Shri Krishna says in the Gita:
“You can get that knowledge by humbly inquiring before the Guru.” (4.34). Therefore, the first step in Shravana is to take recourse at the feet of a Guru.
The Shravana aspect of Bhakti is exemplified most completely in King Parikshit, who listened to the Srimad Bhagavatam from the great sage Shukadeva. What effect did this listening have on Parikshit?
At the end, he said:
“Respected Shukadeva Ji, you have made me experience the highest, fearless state. As a consequence, I am now totally at peace. I am not afraid of death; let it come to me in any form now. I am totally fearless (Abhaya).” (12.6.7).
2. Kirtana: Kirtana consists of chanting aloud God’s divine name and glories of His form, His qualities, mysteries, and leelas; and, in the process of chanting, experiencing extreme thrill culminating in tears and a lightening of the heart.
The very embodiment of Kirtana is the revered sage Narada. In fact, so engrossed is Narada in the act of Kirtana that he was actually happy when a curse was placed on him that he would not be able to stay in one place and would have to roam around the three worlds. Instead of lamenting this curse, he welcomed it saying that it would enable him to spread the Lord’s name and glory all over the three worlds.
3). Remembering Him (Smarana): Smarana means the constant remembrance of God. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:
“The one who sees me in everything and everything in me, I am always present for him and he is always present for me.” (6.30).
“Therefore, always keep me in mind and then enter the battle of life. Undoubtedly, you will attain unto me.” (8.7-8).
“The one who does not ruminate on anything else but constantly remembers me only, he finds it easy to reach me” (8.14).
As per the Srimad Bhagavatam:
“The mind which thinks of material objects becomes attached to those very objects. However, the mind which constantly remembers me, merges into me” (11.14.27).
An inspiring example of Smarana is Prahlada, who due to his constant remembrance of God was able to perceive Him everywhere. In fact, when his evil father ridiculed him saying that if God was everywhere, why did He not show up in the pillar in front of them? The father then kicked the pillar, out of which sprang Lord Narasimha, validating the truth of Prahlada’s conviction..
4). Serving His Lotus Feet (Pada Sevana): The Srimad Bhagavatam says:
“Only till we have not taken recourse to the lotus feet of the Lord is there any cause of concern from money, family etc, which otherwise are a cause of fear and Dukha.” (3.9.6).
The obvious example of this kind of Bhakti is our mother goddess Lakshmi, who is seen in constant service of Lord Vishnu’s lotus feet.
5). Worshipping Him as per the Scriptures (Archana): Archana consists of the physical worship of God in the form of an idol etc, using the correct rituals (upacharas) as prescribed in the scriptures. These rituals consist of procedures such as bathing and clothing the Deity, and also offering Him scents, food etc. An essential requirement of Archana is the presence of faith (Shraddha) in the devotee. As Shri Krishna puts it in the Gita: “Whatever is offered to me, whether it be a leaf, flower, fruit or water if it is done with Bhakti, I accept it.” (9.26).
An example of Archana Bhakti is that of King Prithu in the Srimad Bhagavatam, who satisfied Shri Vishnu with the selfless Vedic sacrifices he performed, so much so that the Lord presented Himself in person before the king (4.20).
6). Prostrating before Him (Vandana): Vandana means prostrating oneself before the Lord.
An illuminating example of this Bhakti is Akrura, another great personality in the Srimad Bhagavatam. The great Bhakta Akrura could not contain himself when he entered Vrindavana. He was overcome with emotion and the consequent surge of affection for Krishna made his hair stand on its end and the overflowing eyes began to shed tears.
Akrura jumped onto the land of Vrindavana and rolled around on the earth saying:
“Oh! This is the dust touched by the feet of my beloved Lord.” (10.38.26).
On going further, he saw Krishna milking the cows. The physical beauty of the Lord overwhelmed Akrura so much that he rushed down and prostrated himself at the feet of Krishna.
“Understanding Akrura’s mental state, Krishna helped him to his feet, drew him to His heart and then embraced His beloved devotee.” (10.38.34).
7). Being His Servant (Dasya): Being in selfless service of God, fulfilling His intentions and unquestioningly obeying all His orders is known as Dasya. The most powerful embodiment of this kind of Bhakti is undoubtedly Shri Hanuman, who as soon as he caught a glimpse of Shri Rama, declared himself to be the latter’s servant.
Being a servant of God means leaving aside one’s most important work to respectfully do the Lord’s bidding; leaving all of one’s own desires to fulfil His desire; considering even the greatest effort done for Him to be minuscule; thinking His ownership over our body to be greater than even our own; understanding that our wealth, life, body etc is useful only as long as it is in the use of God and so on.
Hanuman had all these qualities, and no wonder that Shri Rama embraced him saying:
“You are more dear to me than even Lakshmana.”
8). Befriending Him (Sakhya): Sakhya means personal friendship with God, a friendship in which there is a constant desire to stay in His company, and one enjoys conversations only with Him, and becomes extremely pleased at the mere mention of one’s friend from a third person.
Krishna Himself tells us who His friend is:
“O Arjuna, you are both my friend and Bhakta.” (Gita 4.3).
Stories about the friendship of Krishna and Arjuna abound in the Mahabharata and Bhagavatam. Narratives show how they indulged in light banter, sports etc, which provide us with ample glimpses into the nature of their mutual friendship.
9). Offering Oneself to Him (Atma Nivedana): Offering oneself wholly, including all of one’s material possessions, with firm conviction, is known as Atmanivedana. An example of such surrender is king Bali, who was asked by an adolescent Brahmin for a piece of land equivalent to the distance measured by the latter’s three footsteps. The Brahmin, who was none other than the Vamana Avatara of Lord Vishnu, measured out all the worlds with only two of His steps and finally there remained nowhere to place the promised third.
Seeing that there was no place left for Vamana’s last step, Bali, bowing before Him, requested Him to place it on his head. In the end, after having thus given up everything, did the king feel any remorse or bitterness? No. In fact, this is what he said:
“Thank you God for your grace. Indeed, when we become blind with pride due to our wealth, you, by taking away our money, give us back our eyes.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.22.5).
This was the glorious Bali who gave up his all to the Lord.
These are the nine ways in which we can relate to God. We are free to select the particular connection with God which suits our personal temperament.
However, remember that all these nine qualities existed together in the Bhaktas mentioned above. Did Arjuna not have Pada Sevana, Smarana etc? Of course, he did.
For us, this means that once we have imbibed even one of these virtues properly, all others will follow suit, and the person becomes a Shuddha Bhakta, one whose each and every action can be deemed as Bhakti.
Gaurangasundar Das is Iskcon, Inc Communication Director and SM IT head.
HUMILITY CAN TRANSFORM RELATIONSHIPS
You will always know if you have met someone with true humility because you will feel respected, valued and accepted and the feeling will linger for a long time later.
This kind of humility is a deep spiritual strength and even though it is often displayed by those who have achieved great things in their lives, who have fame and regard, it is not derived from those worldly acquisitions—it is grounded in a deep respect of others.
If they were to base their attitude on their roles and positions or wealth, then although they may command outer regard and obedience, they would not win any hearts. They would be controlling and bossy with those who have achieved less and be dismissive and offhand. These same people would show respect and be on their best behaviour with those they consider ‘superior’ to them or who have more power over them. So, if I connect only with the position or the role that I and others play, then it is more than confusing, it can be very damaging, especially to relationships.
If I am able to have the awareness that I am totally separate from the roles I have acquired throughout my life, and retain the awareness that I am really a spiritual being, a soul, who is deeply and intrinsically full of loving kindness and peace, then that vibration reaches everyone I meet and interact with. Yes, not everyone will behave as I think they should, but when I understand that others are merely different, not wrong, then I can accept their behaviour without getting disturbed. If I become disturbed, I give away my power. This does not mean that I can be taken for granted or abused, because my humility is also born of a deep self-respect, so I can make my feelings and thoughts known, without becoming disturbed.
A true leader (in any sphere) who is humble, will never try to control but will gently influence, encourage, support and empower others, and for this they will be greatly loved. Truly humble people seem to find that others want to be around them and help out in any task that needs doing. If I am able to see things from each one’s perspective, then I will be working with an understanding that can get things done, not necessarily my way, but who is to say that my way is always ‘right’? If I make myself right, and you wrong, that can only cause conflict. If I see myself as right and you as right, but different, then there is an opportunity to explore different approaches, and work with everyone feeling accepted, respected and valued.
So, relationships become harmonious if I first understand that everyone is different, then their behaviour cannot disturb me. Then I accept, but not necessarily agree, with their point of view. Finally, have no expectations but a lot of patience and good wishes, then this attitude of faith and humility can transform others. Staying in this kind of stability, not getting disturbed, no matter what, and having good wishes empowers others. The opposite, frightening others with anger and trying to control them, is suffocating and fractures relationships.
True spiritual humility is born of the awareness of the soul, and takes a little time to establish. I can take a little time in the early morning and a little more during the day, and again in the evening, to go within and recognise who I really am, devoid of all worldly labels, and connect to the Supreme Soul, who is full of love, peace, gentleness and humility. Then slowly I am able to develop the awareness of the whole of humanity as a family of spiritual beings, taking part in an eternal theatre production. I can then recognise that each one has a part to play, each one with a different part, then true humility shines through my every thought, and my words and actions reflect the same. This is the strength of humility.
B.K. Shreya is a Brahma Kumaris Rajyoga teacher based in Mumbai.
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