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Spiritually Speaking

SPIRITUALITY IS FULL OF LOVE AND RESPECT

B.K. Mohini

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Spirituality means living in simplicity with a clean heart. It is good to check that I am living in this way. If I find that the heart is not clean and filled with good wishes for everyone, then I need to pay more attention to my spiritual practices.

All of us are souls, in different bodies, fulfilling the responsibilities of different relationships, just like actors inhabiting different costumes. If we see each other in that way, soul to soul, there is so much love and power.

All karmic accounts are created between souls. We create good karma when we speak and act with respect and regard for each soul. Each soul has a different and important part to play, and each soul has a different personality. Spiritual love is distinct and totally different from the kind of love that is felt when we are only aware of the body. It is when we have spiritual love that we can give respect and regard to the other. This is not an outward show of respect but emerges from deep internal feelings.

We are all souls, brothers, children of the One Father, and we all come from the same home. As we travel on this journey of lifetimes, birth after birth, we take on different costumes and take part in different relationships. The one who is my mother in this birth was someone else to me in another birth.

Spiritual love is a very important principle and when we have this deep realisation it creates a beautiful experience. With this awareness we remain truly happy and are able to have love for everyone; friends, relatives and even those we do not know. In this way, our attitude and vision become loving.

So, let us concentrate internally with honesty and respect, and have deep spiritual love for everyone.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

WHAT SOUL REMEMBERS THE MIND MAY NOT

It is only through memory that we can discern the truth. For the truth is already within us, our true spiritual identity is already within us. Enlightenment is the process of remembering who we truly are.

Prashant Solomon

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H ave you ever seen something or met someone that looks and feels very familiar although you are 100% sure that you are seeing it or meeting them for the first time? Have you ever painted something purely from imagination but when you look at your creation, it looks profoundly familiar? We have various kinds of memories. Some things we remember mentally. This means that there is a clear reference point in our minds of things that we have very consciously experienced — maybe a person we knew in childhood, a book we read, a place we visited and so on. These memories are very matter of fact and their basic nature is mental. This means that they are very cerebral and logical and may not invoke any kind of feeling or emotion in us. 

Then some memories are triggered by some form of energy, the most common being either a visual or sound energy that can instantly trigger not only one but an entire stream of memories that are generally very emotional. They are full of feelings. These are memories like nostalgia for the past and dreams for the future. Sometimes hearing just a particular sequence of music can awaken memories from an entire period of life like school, college, vacations, and so on. Sometimes this particular song or music may not even have any connection to the particular memory or memories it evokes. It is just that a particular energy unlocks something in our minds that we cannot really explain. These could be referred to as emotional or energetic memories as these are the things that trigger these sorts of memories.

Are all our memories from our mind or emotions or things that happened in this current physical life? What about memories that people have from past lives? Some people remember things, people and events from their past lives. There are many cases reported of young children who remember who they were and the people and places from their past lives and some of these children have even visited their past life families. 

For the past 20 years, Dr Jim Tucker, now the director of the Division of Perceptual Studies, has focused mainly on cases found in the United States. His book ‘Return to Life’ offers accounts of very strong American cases of young children who remember previous lives. In this book, Dr Tucker writes about the now well-known cases of James Leininger, a young boy who had verifiable past-life memories of being a WWII pilot, and Ryan Hammons, who had verifiable memories of being a Hollywood extra and talent agent.

So are our memories simply confined to our neurons or do they reside in a much vaster, eternal and non-physical web of information? Our minds are not necessarily a construct of our brain. The brain may just be a mechanism through which the eternal mind is stepped down to the level of this physical world and through which the human body is controlled. Kind of like the cockpit of an aeroplane. The cockpit is where a plane is controlled, but it is the pilot who is actually flying the plane. This pilot is not really a part of the cockpit itself but a representative of the intelligent lifeform that designed the aircraft. 

Memory has been written about for millennia. In his autobiographical account called ‘Confessions’ written in the 4th century A.D., Saint Augustine talks about the vastness and power of memory as “a spreading limitless room within me”. Memory is the seat of human self-transcendence, despite being that part of the soul where the individual is most deeply his or her individual self. “Who can reach memory’s utmost depth? Yet it is a faculty of my soul and belongs to my nature. I cannot totally grasp all that I am. The mind is not large enough to contain itself.” In both its nonmateriality and in its self-transcendence, human memory is an indwelling analogy of God. Augustine asks, how does man find God? First, he turns to God’s creation, his mighty world. God made them but is not of them. 

Having exhausted external possibilities, Augustine turns inwards, to the soul. He goes beyond the vital force which we share with other living things, past consciousness through which they and he possess sense-perception until he reaches a place uniquely human “the fields and vast palaces of memory.” Here Augustine sees that man is truly made in God’s image, for human thought, human memory is purely non-material. The memory of an object displaces no volume. Mental life, like God, is purely spiritual. Indeed the vastness and power of memory is “a spreading limitless room within me,” says Augustine. So while Augustine talks about the mental nature of thought and memory, there is another aspect of memory that is even higher and goes beyond just the pure mental nature into a sphere of higher emotion and feeling. This is the spiritual nature of memory.

As Rumi said, “The soul has been given its own ears to hear things that the mind does not understand.” Have you ever felt a oneness, a connectedness with everything? A lot of people have. Sometimes there is really no logic to this. You meet someone that you consciously know you have never met before, but yet you feel a deep familiarity and liking towards them. You go to a place where you feel like you have been before, yet you know you have not been there. You paint a picture of a place that exists only in your imagination. These are examples of what could be spiritual memories from another life or memories of the other side (where we will return after our physical incarnation is over).

We retain deep-seated memories that we are not consciously aware of. These memories may not immediately be remembered by us. In today’s world dominated by mental processes and information, there is too much noise and mental chatter. To access spiritual memories, switch off the chatter and give more attention to your feelings and emotions. Your feelings are telling you something. Maybe they give hints about your life’s true purpose or about some spiritual task that you need to do. Give more attention to your emotions as emotions are the language of the soul and can only be experienced through the heart. 

The most powerful memory which is also the most deeprooted is that memory of oneness and connectedness. It goes right to the creation itself when we were all one and together in the bosom of the creator before we began our eternal adventure. The adventure itself is to go out into the universe over multiple incarnations and learn and grow as souls as we try to return to where we came from – our Source or God. The process of returning is an adventure and memory plays an important part. It is only through memory we can discern the truth. For the truth is already within us, our true spiritual identity is already within us but we have only forgotten. Enlightenment is the process of remembering who we truly are.

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi based author and businessman.

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Spiritually Speaking

BEYOND WORDS AND LANGUAGE LIES THE TRUTH

Arun Malhotra

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A man is not miserable. But he thinks that he is miserable and surrounded by miseries. He has endowed happiness but he has been conditioned to be unhappy as he has been conditioned to succeed others in a rat race of a lifetime. To succeed and do better than what others are doing, he becomes poorer by what he seeks. He seeks to succeed, be rich, powerful, and positioned on a big seat. So he stands in a long queue all his life trying to outpace others that make him miserable as others have already reached where he wants to reach.

You are happy but if you think that somebody has built a bigger business or assumed a better position than you that can make you miserable as you still haven’t had that. You want to collect a lot of things around you and these things define you. Man lives in the world of things. Your possessions are your definitions and reflections of your own self. In fact, man lives in a dilemma. He wants to retain things because in things he finds certainty. A thing that he has now will certainly be there tomorrow. He becomes master of these things. It is said that a bird in the hand is better than the two in the bush as a bird in the hand cannot fly it is a certainty. You turn bird in hand into a thing. But birds in the bush may fly away. That’s the dilemma as man is not a thing. You turn people into things too like your spouse, family, and friends.

The moment you define something, it becomes a thing. Lao Tzu has said that every word is a lie. So every written or spoken word is essentially a lie as the definition is never defined. Even what you call things are also not dead things. Things are constantly changing. Things are utilitarian but your presence and your sense of ownership turn them into things. You call them your things. Things are independent things. Things are also beings. Buddha has said that ‘one day every stone will become a being.’ Remember things don’t endorse your slavery but you perceive them under your slavery. They are simply things in existence as free as anything or being. They are not aware of being slaves to you but you are aware of you being their ruler. Beyond words, you can turn things into independent beings that is what is meant by being one with existence. 

Humans can communicate in words spoken and written. Well-known linguist Noam Chomsky has said that ‘language structure is hardwired in a kind of universal grammar in our brains and our brain is not that blank slate on which experience writes.’ A small child with few words grows up to become a scholar not by experience but just by processing accelerated thoughts. Sigmund Freud has said that ‘people talk as they want to hide something from others.’ Language becomes a tool to hide your real self and it does not let you reveal what you actually are. In silence, you run the risk of revealing what you are. If language goes away, all your possessions will get dropped. You cognise things around you and define them in language. The human faculty of language is built up by our needs to cognise things around us for thousands of years.  

To say something, the other or opposite is needed. Human languages define everything in relation to others. Like if we say what is God, we need to define God by probably something that is anti-God or demon. In fact, language is the progenitor of lies and our miseries because to define something we have to use the opposite but things are not opposite. They are relative. For example, to define health, we say when there is no disease. Health is defined by a disease and are relative. Only a healthy can be diseased. It is two points of the same thing. Like day and night. The night is there because of day and the day is there because of night. The day comes when the night ends and the night ends when the day dawns. Happiness is defined by misery. Without misery, happiness has no meaning. Summer and winter are two points of the same thing. A child and an old man are not the opposite but the child becomes old. Sound and silence are not opposite but one relative occurrence. In sound, silence comes and in silence sound emanates. Rule and chaos are not opposite they are two points of the same thing. Language limits things rigidly, it gives definition and name to things to divide them.

Therefore, Lao Tazu calls words lies. Someone went to Sheikh Farid and asked him, “what is truth?” Farid told him that “truth cannot be said but can be felt. It can only be felt when you want to feel it.” To receive truth from the one who can escort you there without language. To know about God, language is needed. All religions call God as One. But what is One? Two is needed. Hindus, therefore, use the word advaita to talk about one which means ‘that which is not two’. 

Your whole life is just words and thoughts. Even your God is your thought. Buddha said that ‘whatever I say that I don’t say about what That-Which-Is is because that cannot be said in words.’ Further, he said that ‘I say it as at least I would be able to take you there from where you can reach a stage where you can reach nearest to the point where That-Which-Is is. So you can immerse into it and be it.’

Mind is ignorant. Words have no meaning. We have imputed meanings on words and made them loaded with meanings. Obviously, imputed meanings are not loaded with the truth. If imputed meanings are lost and we saw the truth as naked truth we will be surprised. Human languages are not that different than computer languages like words and meanings are imputed on binary digits and retrieved as an extension of human language. The human mind works as a language computer.  

Language is a mathematic comprehension that man has built through logic. Therefore, one is not able to know God by thoughts. Buddha said that ‘every thought will become a thing.’ Truth is as big as existence, and a lie is pedalled as truth. Language is a great tool to strengthen your ego because in disguise of truth it pedals lies. In fact, your self-consciousness is your ego. I am is the ego. When I-ness gets dropped and ‘am-ness’ remains that brings you to your being. Ego is a wound. You are living in a wound. This wound needs to be healed. When ‘am-ness’ dawns, you will be like oceans of this earth with no boundaries, Hindus call it Brahma. In that ‘am-ness’ you become one with existence and in that epiphany, That-Which-Is is revealed to you.

Existence is one. Existence is limitless. The universe does not end anywhere. That-Which-Is is One and not two. The universe is expanding and will always remain unknowable to man and that’s why Hindus call it Brahma.

The author is a spiritual teacher and advisor on policy, governance and leadership. He can be contacted at arunavlokitta@gmail.com

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Spiritually Speaking

WE MUST LEARN TO LET GO AND BEGIN AFRESH

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Life brings us many disappointments and challenges. It is easy to fall victim not only to others who may hurt or mistreat us but also to our own anger. When someone hurts us and we grow angry, we suffer twofold. First, we have to bear the pain that others may cause us. Second, we have to bear the pain and suffering that comes with feeling angry. Anger not only upsets us emotionally, but it has a deleterious effect on our physical body. It causes stress, which in turn contributes to stress-related ailments. This can affect us by increasing our risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, high blood cancer, and other diseases. It takes a great amount of strength to withstand the temptations to overcome anger. We may think the angry person is strong, but actually they are succumbing out of weakness to this trick of the mind. It takes one who is brave of heart to say no to anger.

Let’s trace what happens to us when we do not forgive. Each of our personal stories generally begins with something that happens to us that we do not like. Some person has wronged us in some way. Maybe someone has said something to hurt our feelings or has hurt us physically. Maybe someone we love has stopped loving us and caring for us or has cheated on us. Maybe someone has taken our power, position, or wealth or has been dishonest with us. We can safely assume that all of us go through life with some incident happening that we do not like or that hurts us. So, what happens next? We are upset, hurt, annoyed or angry. We think about what had happened. We do not like it and we cannot seem to forget it. We think about it again and again. We may speak about it repeatedly either to the person who hurt us or to others. Some person who has less control over themselves may lash out physically to the person or take out their anger physically on someone else. As the incident escalates, we find our thoughts and words occupied with how to rectify the situation. Some people will try to solve the problem peacefully by talking it over with the person who they felt has done them wrong. Sometimes they try that but the other person is not willing to listen or change. Then, we feel we have to do something drastic. This may lead to retaliation or revenge. We begin to think about ways to get back to the person who hurt us or we think about ways to get even with them. We want to see justice done. Our mind refuses to forget what had happened until we retaliate or see justice done. Thus, in response to one incident, we end up creating more scenarios and situations. The other person then may get back at us for retaliating. A cycle of action and reaction may go on and on escalating a small situation into a major problem.

What has happened in the process? We have lost our peace of mind. The initial incident may have lasted a few moments or a few hours, or a day, but we have now spent hundreds of hours and countless days replaying what happened and thinking about how to get even. In this process, the precious moments of our life have been wasted. Instead of keeping our attention on what can help us become better, happier in life, we have wasted the time replaying a bad movie. Thus, we lose more than the person to whom we are directing our anger. A Chinese proverb says that when we seek revenge, we dig two graves, one for the other person on whom we seek revenge and the other one for ourselves.

We become nothing more than a tape recording or video recording that plays the same bad scene over and over. How many of us want to see a bad movie twice, or hear a song we don’t like played again and again? How many of us want to eat the same food we don’t like again? We usually say, “This is yuck”. That is what happens when we repeat in our minds all the wrongs done to us.

The solution for protecting the body against the hormones released by hatred, anger and vengeance is simple: forgiveness. It is only through forgiveness that we can calm ourselves down and avoid the reactions of hatred and violence. What are the keys to developing the power of forgiveness? One of the keys is to let go. When we forgive and forget we are letting go of the past and what has happened. We are saying, “I forgive the person for what has happened. Then I am going to forget about it.” In this way, we are letting it go. When we let go of the past and the wrongs done by others, the gain is that we achieve peace in our life. If we want to succeed on the spiritual path we need to have a pure and clean heart and mind. The way to do this is through forgiving and forgetting, letting go, and getting God.

Let’s learn to forgive and forget. It is time to wipe the slate clean and begin anew. Let’s let go of all anger. Let’s let go of all hatred. Let’s let go of all feelings of vengefulness. Let’s let go of all animosity. Let’s devote ourselves to forgiving and forgetting, letting go and getting God. We can tell our mind that we need to forgive everyone and everything from the past and make a conscious decision to forget all the previous hurts. By sitting in meditation, free from all worldly desires and attachments, we can let go and find ourselves free to soar back to God. In this way, we can spend all our time in enjoyment, bliss, laughter, happiness, and love.

The author is the head of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.

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Spiritually Speaking

JOY AND VALUE OF MEANINGFUL COMMUNITIES, BUILT ONLINE

JUDY JOHNSON AND DAVID FLETCHER

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The time of Covid has extended beyond what any of us could have imagined. Alone in our homes, we watch the world through news headlines that scare us and push us psychologically apart. As social beings, we miss the experience of community. Many of us feel alone and lonely, even when we are living with others. Researchers indicate that meaningful involvement with others reduces burnout associated with the pandemic.

We spend much of our time online for work, school and social encounters because the online environment provides a physically safe way to come together and yet, the call to be in community is stronger than ever. How can we use the online platform to create and sustain meaningful communities?

In community and social conversation, we can support and nurture each other. A sense of belonging is created when a person is seen and heard and able to contribute to others, which builds a foundation for resilience and positive mental health.

Every day we meet with a group of people for a spiritual study session online. Although we are nourished by our practice of meditation alone in the sweet territory of silence, as social beings, there is still a pull to be in community, to feel a sense of belonging and togetherness with others.

We take it in turns to read the spiritual lesson of the day out loud. We then have a few moments of silence, after which each one shares their thoughts and reflections on what they understood. Taking time to listen to each person with caring attention has created a sweet energy and a feeling of belonging. It has given us an appreciation of the uniqueness of each of our classmates. It has also yielded priceless jewels of insights, new and marvellous, as each has come from the deep mines of a different mental terrain.

We take care to share our thoughts with love and respect for their beauty with the best words we can find in an essence-full way, so as not to demand too much of the listeners. Silence after the sharing allows us to digest the rich spiritual food with an inner smile of contentment and appreciation of our fellow learners and our learning community.

Feelings of kinship and a sense of belonging have been nourished in this online platform. Our manners, care and attention to honour each one’s contribution while offering our best input has created a culture of respect and belonging; a model for the world we wish to live in.

Judy Johnson and David Fletcher are members of the Brahma Kumaris community in Halifax, Canada.

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Spiritually Speaking

TO BE HAPPY AND STRONG, WE NEED KNOWLEDGE

B.K. Sheilu

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Millions of devout people across the world have great love for God. Few among them, however, seek to know Him as He is. Their love does bring rewards in the form of happiness, peace, and Divine love, but they are short-lived, and vanish when their feelings wane. That is not the case when we know who we are and how we can connect with God.

Recognising the truth that we are souls, children of God, is the first step of spiritual learning. Once we understand that we create our destiny by our actions and God, the Father, gives the guidance for that, we live responsibly and face life’s challenges without too much fuss. Those who love God but lack this understanding have unrealistic expectations from Him, and when those are not fulfilled, they are unhappy.

Both kinds of people—those with only love, and the better informed ones—experience the joy that faith brings, but the former are not strong. When they are full of loveful feelings, they are on cloud nine, but a small problem can shake them as they lack the power that comes with knowledge. One day you see them dancing with joy and the next day a trivial matter has them wailing: “What can I do? How can I do it? What will happen? How will it happen?”

They are like schoolchildren who love their teacher and enjoy being with him but make no effort to study. They do not understand that the teacher is there to teach, not just be nice, and unless they pay attention to his words and do as he says, they will learn little. The result is that they fail the test.

The devout but naive souls are sustained by the power of love but lack the strength to face difficulties. The informed souls, on the other hand, know that they are children of the Almighty and can be powerful like Him if they remember who they are and who their Father is. This twin awareness makes them strong. They do not ask for anything, trusting that the Father has their back and anything they need will be received at the right time. Their connection with the Divine and the strength it brings enables such individuals to easily overcome obstacles.

Becoming strong is not difficult—it is a matter of having the right awareness. When we are constantly aware, the pulls of desires and emotions and the deceptions of ego no longer affect us. Freed from all inner neediness, we are able to use our resources fully to serve others and help them become strong.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

YOU NEED NOT THINK TO UNDERSTAND GOD

Dadi Janki

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Human beings believe that in order to understand something, you have to think about it. However, to understand God, you do not have to think. When it comes to physical matters, then there is a need for thinking—you need to analyse in order to figure a thing out. But not with God.

Have you ever had a thought simply come to you ‘out of the blue’—an intuition, or a sudden inspiration – without any actual thinking? God gave you that inspiration. Did you do any thinking? In one flash, God gave you the understanding. You did not think, but suddenly the whole thing was clear to you, whereas under ordinary circumstances you would not have got the picture even if you had thought about it for years. God gave you that intuition. He touched your intellect, your heart, like light.

It is truly a wondrous thing that God can touch us in this way, while He Himself is beyond thoughts. God does not think. God does not have the need to create any thoughts. And now He is making us like Himself—beyond wasteful and ordinary thoughts, beyond thought altogether. Actually, there is no need to think. Thinking too much is just a habit.

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