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Spiritually Speaking

The changing river of life & its meaning

Heraclitus said, ‘We can never step in the same river twice.’ But we shouldn’t worry as there are so many rivers to enjoy in this universe!

Prashant Solomon



One of life’s most powerful ironies is that the only constant in life is change! This is perhaps best described by the philosopher Heraclitus in the 5th century BC in the following way: “You can never step into the same river twice. Because neither the river nor you are the same.”

This indeed is one of the ironies of life and at the same time one of the greatest dynamics in the universe. There is a universal flux which exists throughout all of creation. A flux that ensures that nothing is immune to change. Even physically, we may not realise it, but we are constantly changing with each and every breath. The food that we eat becomes us and so does the air we breathe. The inhaled and exhaled breath causes quadrillions of atoms to be exchanged. So even physically like the river analogy we are always changing and never the same.

Just as we are constantly changing physically, we are also changing mentally, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. Are we the same person we were just a few years, months, weeks, days and even hours ago? Every moment that we are alive we are experiencing something new. Even if it looks like the same monotonous life, it is not. We are reborn with each new breath. Our bodies, minds and souls have evolved to some degree.

The universe is constantly moving and everything is changing. The earth is moving around the sun as the sun is moving around the centre of the galaxy as the galaxy is expanding further into the vastness of space.

But in our absorption in this space-time continuum we do not realise how far we have moved forward. In the same manner we do not realise how many things life teaches us every day. Every moment that we spend on this planet is different from any other moment in the past and is different from any other moment that will be in the future. This is the nature of change. Not only is change the only constant, everything is constantly changing.

And what exactly is the lesson we can learn from this? The fact that everything can — and does — change also implies that everything and everyone is like a variegated shade of gray. There is no purely light or dark, or black and white that lasts forever. Everything keeps changing and this applies to everything we think or hold in our minds and opinions.

There is nobody who is totally good or totally bad. Everyone is a shade of gray in these moral and ethical values as well. So, the lesson is: Never judge and be prejudiced towards anybody or anything because everything and everyone changes.

Sometimes change is for the better and sometimes for the worse. Not being judgmental and being forgiving is very important because nothing is permanent and even the worst people can and will eventually be redeemed. Sometimes the so-called “best” people can — and will — be tempted and challenged and fall from grace. And then after another cycle they will again be redeemed. And thus it goes on.

Change enables you to be the person you want to be. It is also a valuable life skill. Being able to change your approach shows a commitment to progress and confidence in your own ability. Internal changes should be made constantly to ensure that no stagnation takes place.

Some changes are beyond our control. These changes, whether good or bad, teach you something new. These make you more flexible and understanding and prepare you for the future.

Everything in life is changing all around you — technologically, politically, economically and socially. Life is more exciting, rewarding and enjoyable when things around you always change. This also keeps you in the moment and open to adapting.

Change creates new opportunities and experiences which some may consider risky. But taking risks and managing failure is what life’s all about. Some kind of a risk is necessary for progress and facing risks and moving ahead build confidence and enable progress. There are many benefits that new experiences can bring as well.

Change is a ticket out of bad situations. As long as you embrace change, you will find that your situation need not last forever. Something bigger and better is waiting. If you reject change, experiences and opportunities are likely to pass you by.

Sometimes the past can hold us back, but moving on should be a slow and steady process and not rushed. Little changes that occur every day stimulate progress and put you one step further away from the bad situation you have left behind. Don’t let your yesterday dominate and dictate your today. Personal growth happens when you look ahead and learn from the past but with the intention of making the present and future better.

Seasons change, rivers flow, technologies come and go, the years fly by and people will grow alongside you. Your life is counted by the changes you have been through and not by awards you won or money you earned. You will never forget the opportunities you embraced, the chances you took or the times you failed and picked yourself up again. Those milestones are all a part of the journey of life and are significant in their own way.

Your personal development relies on the changes that have happened in the past which have led you to where you are now. And what you learn and experience today will help to carve your future path.

The times we live in today are a great example of how quickly and definitely life can and does change. We cannot change our external situations too much but we can control our attitude and reaction towards them. We can also learn from these changes and use them to change and grow from within. Life is an eternal voyage of change and we are all eternal voyagers! As Heraclitus mentioned, “We can never step in the same river twice.” But don’t worry, there are many rivers to enjoy in this universe!

Prashant Solomon is a Delhi-based businessman and author.

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Spiritually Speaking


B.K. Shivani



There are times when some families face a situation that cannot be resolved even if they spend all their money on it. In contrast, some other families easily come through seemingly insurmountable problems, as if by a miracle. But miracles do not happen. Those families had earned a lot of goodwill and blessings from others, and these helped tide them over the difficulty.

We all get the fruit of what we have done in the past. If we have accumulated a large stock of good wishes, we receive help from unexpected quarters that takes us across tough times.

Blessings are an intangible commodity, so we underrate them. We value what is visible: wealth, achievements, personal connections. It is essential to have money, and there is no harm in earning large amounts of it, but it helps to collect some blessings as well. They are invisible but have the energy to make the impossible happen.

If we are not getting blessings from others, in all likelihood something else is coming our way. When we are warm and friendly with someone, the other person responds in kind, and we receive pure and positive energy, or what we call blessings. But if we are cold or discourteous, or harbour ill-feeling for them, their thoughts about us are unlikely to be nice. We engage in such karmic transactions every day, investing in good or bad thoughts and feelings, and getting the return of that. But we overlook this — at great cost.

Suppose we get angry with someone and shout at them for a minute. How long are they going to take to get over the bad feelings and emotional upheaval we caused? Probably a lifetime. A minute’s investment of anger brings us a lifetime of ill-feeling from the other person.

We invest money with great care, checking beforehand what the return will be, but give little thought to karmic investments and end up receiving things we had not bargained for. Then we wonder why we are not happy even though everything in our life seems to be fine. We are earning loads of money and have everything we want, but we are still not content. That empty feeling inside is the result of the harmful vibrations we have attracted by hurting others knowingly or otherwise.

Karmic investments call for more prudence than business deals. If we pay no attention to the quality of our actions, the corrosive effect of bad karma, which stems from — and reinforces — our character flaws, will corrupt our mind and the decisions it makes.

When we invest intelligently, that too brings lifelong returns, in the form of goodwill, cooperation, and friendship. Suppose someone has made a mistake and is expecting to get an earful from me, but instead of exploding with rage I just gently tell them to be more careful in future. They are going to remember my conduct for a long time, with some gratitude.

Can we always speak and act in ways that keep others happy and content? This calls for understanding, tolerance, and tact. If can we do this, the blessings will keep rolling in and we will always find ourselves in good spirits. Where there are abundant blessings, there is joy, health and loving relationships. Money cannot buy any of these.

There is another important aspect to money: the thought behind earning it. We work hard and put aside something, thinking that it will come in handy in the event of a serious illness. If we earmark money for that purpose, that is where it will most likely go, because that is the thought energy we have put into it, which will create that reality. Why not accumulate good wishes instead, which will keep us healthy?

We err in assuming that material success will help us have peace, joy and contentment. For these, we can spend some time taking care of our mind so that we know how to manage our thoughts and emotions. Once we have learnt this subtle art, life will be much easier and more enjoyable.

B.K. Shivani is a well-known motivational speaker and Rajyoga teacher.

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Spiritually Speaking


B.K. Usha



To have the mind remain stable in one thought is the highest level of concentration. If we develop this degree of focus, our attention and energies will be applied fully and accurately to any task, leading to easy success. The power of concentration automatically brings mental clarity, an elevated state of mind, and several other powers, including discernment, decision-making, and judgment. Because of this, if there is a difficult situation, even one individual with good concentration can find a solution to it.

When someone is deeply absorbed in one thought, they forget everything else and that thought is their world. Powerful concentration focuses our mental energy in such a way that we can convey our ideas to others clearly so that they can understand what we are thinking, and why. This helps to create concord and unity of purpose in a group.

It is one thing to attain such concentration by strenuous effort, and quite another to remain constantly and naturally focused. To achieve the latter stage, one needs solitude and long-term practice of focusing one’s mind. With dedicated and sustained practice one can acquire the ability to remain calm and focused even when there is commotion all around.

This ability not only helps us remain stable but also enables us to help others in times of distress. One whose mind is undisturbed and still is a source of hope and courage for those who are in the grip of anxiety, fear, confusion and depression.

Many of us think it is impossible to find time in our busy schedule to sit down and practise concentration. It is not that difficult. The key is to practise, even if for a short while, whenever we have time. When we do this repeatedly, the mind will become habituated to being focused, and concentration will gradually become easier.

Concentration power developed in this way keeps us tranquil even in a difficult situation. Furthermore, it prevents wastage of mental energy in unnecessary thinking. A focused mind is, therefore, a powerful mind that can do more in less time. Such a mind is the key to quick progress on the path of self-improvement.

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

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Spiritually Speaking


Dadi Janki



Success means reaching such a constant level of positive thoughts that pure actions happen naturally. Pure actions are like good seeds which, when planted, produce healthy, sweet fruit. “As you sow, so shall you reap”.

Concern for the quality of my actions today ensures the success of my tomorrow. Virtues are the mainstay in this because success like this requires hope, and hope, in today’s world, requires courage. It is a matter of working from the strength of your convictions which is a spiritual kind of honesty. Balance these qualities and your path will be easy. You will move forward. Your success will be assured.

Courage alone does not bring success. If there is only courage, there will be ego. It is courage plus honesty which brings God’s help and that is what guarantees success. “God is getting it done through me”, “I am simply an instrument in this task”, these are honest thoughts that elicit God’s help and protection.

Humility is the result of such honesty and courage. A life of enthusiasm, courage, honesty and humility is inspirational. It is a way of helping others become successful, too.

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Spiritually Speaking


Charlie Hogg



At this particular time, many people are asking themselves and others ‘what’s happening, what’s going on?’. Some time ago, in Australia, a radio host asked his listeners the same question and then asked them; given the calamities, diseases and conflicts in the world, did they think that it was just ‘business as usual’ or was it different. A few phoned in and said they thought it was the same as it had always been. However, a great many said, no, something is going on, there is something in the air – a deep shift in the soul of humanity – it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is, but it is palpable. There seems to be a sense of deep anxiety about the future.

However, perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Perhaps the question should not be ‘what’s going on?’ but ‘what do I need to do now?’.

The Brahma Kumaris have an understanding of what is needed now, but it is important to remember that each of us has our own journey, and we need to respect the journey of every individual because not everyone is on the same one. However, it is interesting that 80 per cent of people do believe they are more than just a body. This belief is key in understanding what is needed and what is unfolding.

We understand that there are three eternal energies. The individual soul, a point of consciousness with no dimension and completely indestructible. The Supreme Soul, who in form is exactly the same, and the material world. The whole story, from the beginning, through the middle to the end, depends on the interplay of these three eternal energies. We call this interaction, life. As things change during the interaction, we put a label on the changes, and call them, time.

Eternity is a fascinating concept and in terms of time, the only possible motion of eternity is a cycle. This is a widely held belief among ancient peoples and religions. So, what is the story of the soul through this cycle of time?

We understand that there is a ‘springtime’ of the world of matter, the earth, and of the souls who are present at that time. It is a world of truth and beauty. This is followed by a ‘summertime’, when more souls are present and still enjoy a world of peace and love. As time passes the energy of the souls gradually depletes and then they begin a search, that lasts through the next age of ‘autumn’, looking for a way to return to the perfection that has been lost. That is the era of the arrival of all religions and religious founders offering some kind of solace.

Finally, the earth enters the age of darkness, of ‘winter’, where nothing is what it seems when chaos and suffering increase as the souls become more and more lost and embedded in the world of matter, bodies, objects, creating attachment, and fear of loss.

That is the time for the Supreme Soul, God, to educate souls as to who they really are and how to return to the state of this consciousness filled with love. This is the age of the confluence of the old and the new and arrives at the time of the deepest darkness and suffering.

All the soul has to do is to recognise the truth of being eternal, and connect in yoga with the Supreme Soul to heal the self and the world. What I need to do now is to live a simple, pure life, let go of the past and prepare for the future.

Charlie Hogg, based in Sydney, is the National Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris, Australia.

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Spiritually Speaking


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar




One of the greatest illusions created in the world is wealth. There is so much disparity in the world. There is no logical reasoning or explanation as to why someone is born in Africa and suffers for a piece of bread, while there is surplus bread elsewhere and is often wasted.; why some dogs enjoy the comfort of a home while others are strays on the streets?

Wealth is something that is bestowed on you. There are eight types of wealth.

Wealth as material comfort: The first type of wealth is what we commonly understand as wealth – material wealth. Just being born in Ford’s home, somebody acquired all that wealth without any effort. Why does this happen when somebody else had to toil all his life to make money? Why do some people inherit while others do not?

Wealth as health: Just having money is not sufficient. Some people may have a lot of money but they cannot eat well. They may have diabetes or high cholesterol. That wealth is nothing. Some people do not have money, but they have enough to eat and they are healthy. Like many farmers in India: they don’t have any money but they have plenty of food with them. Anyone who goes to them is fed; they can feed the whole town. They can sleep well.

Wealth as success (Vijaya Lakshmi): Some may be born into a very wealthy family, but they face failure in whatever they do. They are never successful in whatever they undertake.

Wealth as courage: One must see life as an adventurous game and should play the game without worrying about the outcome, whether you win or lose. But if one is afraid of making mistakes or doing anything, one lacks the wealth of courage. If one lacks the wealth of courage, there is no fun in life, even if the person has a lot of money. Someone may not have any money, but if they possess courage, they reflect wealth.

Wealth as friendliness: The fifth type of wealth is friendliness, having a caring attitude, having a sense of belonging. One may have the other types of wealth, but will still feel as though they are in a tight compartment, without a sense of belonging. That is what happens at most parties. Many rich people go to a party just to show off how rich they are, but they feel out of place. You find sugar-coated misery there. Everybody is so stiff. It’s like a war field actually. Parties are like a competition ground or battlefield; everyone is carrying a shield. That is no wealth at all.

Wealth as skill: Another wealth is having different skills and talents. Some people write well, some are good in debating, some have a knack for music, some have a wonderful voice, some cook well, some are talented in bringing up a child, in administration, and still others are talented in completely different things. They put their maximum efforts to achieve what they want yet they fail to achieve their goal. Effort is not enough to achieve one’s goal.

Wealth as dignity: The world is full of lessons if only we observe it with full awareness. Be as humble as the grass. Then nothing can touch you – nothing. No one can humiliate you. In the eyes of the Divine, it is those who serve creation who are true kings and queens. Walk like a king and be a perfect servant!

Wealth as memory of the source: We only know that we were born; we don’t even know how we were born. Somewhere onwards from three or four years of age, we start understanding things around us. Our memory is very short; it appears this is our only life. We are not aware of our source. The moment we become aware of our source and our infinite past, our whole life changes. It’s just like someone suddenly realises how wealthy he or she is. Immediately our style of walking changes. This is the awareness of the source.

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Spiritually Speaking




Women today are independent, confident, exude strength and have the potential to carry out every task at its best. Proving equal ability as their male counterparts, they have now ventured out into running successful businesses. However, being a woman entrepreneur has its own set of challenges. Some quick meditation mantras can guide women in this challenging journey. At times when you feel overwhelmed with responsibilities or feel all alone amidst difficult situations, a few minutes of sitting alone with yourself can recharge and rejuvenate you more than you can ever imagine.

Besides, meditation adds many more skills to women entrepreneurs’ kitty.


Sometimes, juggling home and work can be taxing, especially for businesswomen who don’t always work in 9-5 shifts. A few minutes of meditation during the day can hone the skill to multi-task effortlessly. You will feel fresh and energized to carry out both the duties equally well and also find more time for yourself!


As a businesswoman and leader, you are a role model for your employees, so it becomes key for you to act with a cool head in all situations as well as remain approachable for your team. Meditation helps polish the intrinsic qualities of a leader: inner confidence, strength, foresight, clarity and an unbiased approach to act in the larger interest of the organization.


When you meditate regularly, see how your intuition becomes so strong that you naturally start making the right decisions that benefit people and organizations in the long run.


As a woman entrepreneur, you are sure to come across challenges at every step, but it is important to be able to find appropriate solutions, again in the larger interest of the whole company. This spontaneity is a skill which meditation helps develop. Meditation instills enthusiasm and zeal in women so that they don’t look at challenges as roadblocks and are prepared to tackle them with an open mind and fresh perspective.


Management forms an essential part of every organization – be it health (ensuring that employees are healthy and productive), financial, or employee management. But the mantra for the smooth functioning of day-to-day operations is mind management – that is extremely important for a cordial work environment. As a woman entrepreneur, meditation teaches you how to keep your mind calm, relaxed and centred, which reflects in your behaviour with others too. Only then can you inspire people to work together with you.


Being a woman entrepreneur, you may sometimes find yourself getting aggressive with your employees to get work done or make them listen to you. Meditation can teach businesswomen the skill to be polite yet assertive. You will see an innate strength develop in yourself to bring a diverse bunch of people together and move ahead as a team. You will be able to give your team a pleasant, organized and satisfying working experience.


Conflicts are natural to every organization and you have a great responsibility to resolve them. How do you negotiate win-win terms in such situations? How do you make people listen to you who are set in their own ideas of right and wrong? This requires a combination of skill and presence. Both these qualities develop naturally in women with meditation. When you meditate, you also develop the patience to listen to all parties with an open mind and make unbiased decisions.


As women, we are born compassionate and so women entrepreneurs should use this innate quality to create a harmonious and progressive society where people are happy, prosperous and contented. Meditation helps us develop this intent and work towards it. As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “The role of women today is of utmost importance. In fact, it is the only thing that determines whether a society is strong and harmonious, or otherwise. Women are the backbone of society.” (Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s wisdom talks and based on inputs by Bharathy Harish, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Teacher.)

Pritika Nair is a senior writer at The Art of Living.

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