Being perfect means not having any defect. If there is a defect in the soul, it is a sign that one has come under the effect of some weakness. Just as the body becomes ill when it is affected by the weather or unsuitable food, the soul gets a defect when it is influenced by a weakness. As long as one comes under any kind of influence, one cannot be free of defects and become perfect. So, one must aim to become influence-proof.
To avoid any kind of effect on the soul, one has to always watch out. When summer is approaching, if one prepares for it in advance one would be called sensible, but if that is not the case, one might be affected by the hot weather and fall ill. Just as one is careful about one’s physical health, one has to look after the health of the soul.
Most people know what weakness affects their thoughts and behaviour. For some it may be ego, for others greed, attachment, or fear. In spite of knowing our main weakness, we are sometimes subordinated to it because of naivety.
We fail to discern the true nature of people and circumstances and, as a result, take the wrong decisions. Subliminally we may have the feeling that what we are going to do may be wrong, but we dismiss such misgivings and convince ourselves that we are on the right track. When the result of our action proves to be contrary to our expectation, we realise our error of judgment.
To avoid such mistakes, we need to keep our mind clear of any influence so that we can see things as they are and act accordingly. In life, that means keeping the right company and having the right diet, not just of the body but also of the soul, in terms of what we think, watch, read and listen to.
When we are constantly vigilant in this manner, we can save ourselves from coming under any kind of effect and become perfect.
B.K. Dr Savita is a senior Rajyoga teacher at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Abu Road, Rajasthan.
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How to handle kids in pandemic times
Children enjoy school, especially in their early years. Their lives revolve around the travel, friendships, eating together, sharing stories, creating things, playing, interacting with teachers, class participation, etc. There’s a lot more that children do in school other than learning.
The pandemic changed everything. Parents realised that with no clear end date in sight, children needed to quickly adapt to online schooling. But children’s initial excitement soon turned to boredom. What felt like a relief for most parents that their children could continue schooling within the safety of the home, gradually became a struggle.
Schooling from ‘home’
Unlike parents, with earlier experiences of working from home, most children had nothing to build on this novel experience. Besides, from their perspective, home and school are completely different physical structures, location and spaces. They represent different things and expectations from them are also distinct. This posed a hindrance to juxtapose life in school with schooling from home.
Earlier children had limited access to their parents’ devices. They used them judiciously for entertainment. With online classes, most children were given personal devices with the intent that they’re used exclusively for learning purposes. This shift from entertainment devices to learning devices was conflicting. Thus, parents occasionally found their children watching videos or playing games during online sessions.
Structure and discipline
Children need discipline and structure in their lives. Structure helps them understand what is expected of them, predict how adults will react to them and in turn how they should behave. Clear and consistent structure creates helpful boundaries.
Both the school and home provide these but differently. There’s flexibility at home and discipline changes form depending on each family member. At school, structures are rigorous, and they’re treated similarly based on established protocol.
Roles and responsibilities
Parents and teachers play different roles in children’s lives. Teachers prepare them to learn academic skills by creating lesson plans and assignments. Parents ensure children complete them timely and sometimes enrich their experience with tutoring and learning games. Schools were more responsible for the child’s education with parental support. Post pandemic, parental roles have increased significantly due to paucity of class timings and the need to safeguard them from excessive exposure to devices.
Children emotionally express themselves before developing the language to articulate their feelings. They quickly learn to manipulate emotions to strategically cope and manage their parents and environment. E.g., crying might work with one parent while whining works with another.
Teachers have a uniformed teaching style. Parents’ are emotionally lenient, and their personal styles are reflected when teaching. This difference confuses children so they inherently pick-up cues from teachers as they spend a significant amount of time at school. With online classes, parents have had to take the lead, while balancing work from home. This anxiety-provoking environment leads to conflict. Parenting role emphasises on being right and disagreements discourage them from giving in. This makes children feel compelled with no right to exercise their choice.
Parents equate this pandemic year as losing a year of schooling. They’re unable to demarcate between its short-term and long-term impact. Worries about the future overwhelm them and they resist sharing their fears and anxieties.
School participation and social gatherings build camaraderie and essential life skills. Children feel upset, lonely when isolated from their peers. During online sessions, their need to be heard aren’t satisfactorily met. Some push ahead while self-doubt of being judged make others apprehensive of class participation. Curiosity and experimentation help develop a thinking mindset. Also, building on each other’s competencies encourages teamwork. With restricted access to peers, children feel insecure and struggle under stress.
How can parents help? 1. Routine gives children direction and encourages independent behaviour. Parents should redefine schedules and routine. Children shouldn’t be allowed to wake up or go to bed late because they’re attending online classes. 2. Involve kids to create a comfortable and personalised desk space for school. With siblings and parents vying for room and space, children struggle to create boundary and ownership. 3. Set timings for gaming and TV. Restrictions and inability to participate in outdoor activities have forced kids to withdraw and create outlets online. 4. Children don’t think like adults. For them, gratification is mostly instantaneous. The language and tone used are important. What is said and what children hear can be very different. “Finish work now and play later,” may sound like their playtime is being restricted making the time to finish work seem longer. Be flexible and encourage children to define their future rewards. 5. When angry, parents exhibit certain patterns of behaviour or tend to repeat arguments. It’s important to choose one’s battles to retain the potency of an argument. 6. Conversations about behaviour change should happen when children are satiated, rested and attentive. It’s imperative to focus on the problem rather than being right. Too often parents believe that when children misbehave, it reflects their failure as “good” parents.
The writer is a mental health counsellor and blogger.
Parroting won’t help, incarnate your own scripture
We think we live; in fact, in thoughts we live. Thinker thinks that he lives and thought thinks that it is the thought that lives the thinker. Because thinker is the thought. Thinker is lost in the thought. It is impossible to bring both of them on table to observe. You may find when thinker is, thought is not, when thought is, thinker is not. Only thinking goes on. This is how we think we live our life in thinking.
In thinking we live. But life is far different than thinking. Thinking is old and not new. Thinking is extension of the past memory. If we wish to live, we have to die first. To die to whatever we know. To be free from the past memory. To die means that this thought that we are living has to die first. The moment this thought disappears from you. When you die now you are born to the new. It means all your past dies; you become a person who can live in the beauty of life. Death may become a moment of life. When you think that you are living so your ego thinks that it is living but it is continuation of memory. To live you have to die to everything within you.
When you die to the known, you become new. Everything becomes new to you. If you look at the moon. You look at the moon into the absolute moon-ness of being from your absolute-ness of being. When you look at a flower you look into the absolute flower-ness of being from your absolute-ness of being. That moment is the beauty of life; that is the beauty of being. Because you become one with the flower and your energy that is looking at the flower returns to you and that is the moment when it is said that observer is the observed. When you look at the clear sky it enters you and you enter in it. When you look at the vast presence into the sky-ness you find yourself one with it. In that togetherness you know that you are part of that-which-is.
When you begin to evolve the understanding in you that you are living and the body shall wither away, that is the moment when meditation begins dawning on you automatically.
When we think that we live, in that thinking we live in forgetfulness. We forget who we are and what we ought to be. We forget the code that is imprinted on our seed which has to flower into the tree of intelligence to flower into the awakening that blooms into a thousand petalled lotus of consciousness. That is the possibility that we have but we are instead living in state of deep slumber. In thinking thoughts go all around you and as thinker it is difficult for you to understand who you are because every thought takes you miles away from you-from the state of consciousness, from the state of who you are. From absolute stillness of your being, thought creates ripples in your mind and those ripples resonate creating a whirlwind sea of thoughts. Thought means your mind has taken control of your being.
When you become unhappy, miserable. In fact, you don’t get unhappy. It is the thought of unhappiness that traumatizes you. It is the dream of being unhappy in the hope of happiness makes you unhappy.
You can learn a few words by gaining the knowledge but knowing the knowledge by your being is different than learning. In fact, to know something by your being is to unlearn your knowledge because that knowledge becomes hindrance in knowing the truth. Your knowledge is your thoughts. Then you gain religious knowledge and hordes of religious thoughts. You memorise religious scriptures and may recite them with clarity and you begin thinking that you are religious and thoughts of enlightenment are bred in your mind.
You have to start unlearning and you have to die to your knowledge. In that unlearning you will tend to learn who you are and you could realise self-actualisation. When truth is bound in words, words do not convey the truth. The words are limited. Vocabulary is limited. Truth is vast. When you look at the morning sun coming out from the horizon you get mesmerised in experiencing the experience. But when you turn to write the experience, it already turns into memory. Or when you take a picture of the moment, you get a shadow of limitless enormity which remains always short of experience.
When you give meanings to your words. Everyone attaches one’s own meaning and as many meanings get created as many readers. This is what has become of our religious scripture.
The seers who saw that-which-is who saw the truth naked they spoke the truth, howsoever difficult it was to speak, which is captured in words so that these words could become guiding maps for you to reach the truth that-which-is. But seers have not created those maps for you to memorise them and repeat them daily in pursuit of some sort of ritualistic theism. These words are the milestones in your journey to reassure you that you are on the right path to know the truth. But if you cling to the milestones recite odes to milestones you tend to create knowledge that brings you back into the world of thoughts.
Life is a prayer. Life is a blessing. Life is a flow. Life is not a flight of the ego to make you addicted to the ego. You better get de-addicted from ego. The moment you leave yourself aside, God will enter right there in you. Let the flow of river take you wherever it takes you. Let you be flown into those gushes that life brings to you—that’s benediction. Don’t fall into the trap of ego that you have to win. But become the one who is not ready to win so that there is no cause left for others to make you lose.
Life is a journey to go find the maps and explore the treasure that is hidden within you. All these Vedas, Dhammapadas are expressions of experience of the self-remembering and self-actualisation. They are there to help you stimulate to take up that journey. But don’t cling to the words. Cling to the goal of self-actualisation.
One has to create one’s own Dhammapada, the Gita, the Vedas; nothing short of that will work for you. There is no shortcut to truth. There is no shortcut that you can memorise words of Buddha or Mahavira and think about enlightenment. You have to create your own scripture. Your scripture would get incarnated into your being and manifest to the world as love and compassion. When the one that-which-is is the one who is already you, the flower of self-actualisation will blossom. And you will say “Ahm-Brahsmi” (I am Brahma) or “Ana-al-Haqq” (I am the Truth I am the God).
The author is a spiritual coach and an independent advisor on policy, governance and leadership. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Prarabdha and Purushartha: Destiny depends on self-effort
The results of one’s past actions have to be experienced by them, whether they are good or bad. Thus, instead of being idle and complaining about destiny, one should make sincere efforts and handle his ‘prarabdha’ wisely.
There once was a wise sage living in a remote Indian village. His disciple was a very clever Brahmin, whom he taught very lovingly and imparted the knowledge of Brahma Gyaan (the knowledge of Truth). Guruji’s wife was a very simple and pious lady who bore him a son and a daughter. Both the times when she was with child, the sage had to set out on a pilgrimage. He left her in charge of an old lady and his wise disciple. The old lady attended when the mother was in labour, while the disciple sat guard outside.
When the time of the birth drew near, a stately man approached the cottage, desiring entrance. When stopped by the disciple, he said that he was Brahmaji himself and had to be present at any birth to write the destiny of the child on his forehead. The disciple allowed him on the condition that he must tell him what he wrote. After the birth of the son, Brahmaji divulged the secret on the condition that, if the disciple ever told anyone about it, his head would splinter into a thousand pieces. Then Brahmaji told the disciple about the future of the child. It was bleak. The son would be cheated of all the wealth that his father would leave him but would always have one buffalo and a bag of rice to live by, and that would be his prarabdha.
When the second child, a daughter, was born, the same story was repeated. Brahmaji arrived again. The disciple permitted him entry on the same condition. So, while leaving, Brahmaji, on condition of secrecy, told the disciple the future of the girl. She would earn her living as a prostitute, he said. The disciple was aghast. He wondered how such a pious couple’s children could be born with such horrible destinies! Then, as soon as his teacher arrived, he took his permission and left.
The disciple returned after 25 years to see whether those terrible destinies had actually played out. The couple had passed away and, as predicted, their son now lived in great poverty, with only one buffalo and a bag of rice. The daughter was not to be seen anywhere. The disciple was restless and wanted to help his great teacher’s son. So, he introduced himself and advised a way out of poverty. He advised the son to take the buffalo and the bag of rice to the market and sell them both, then buy whatever the family needed and eat well. But he also said that, with all the remaining money, he should feed the poor and not hoard any of it. The son was hesitant, but his wife egged him on to follow the advice. So, he took the bag of rice and the buffalo and sold them. After buying the necessities for the family, he returned and, for the first time, the family ate well. The remaining money was given away to the poor. Very worried, the poor son spent a sleepless night. He left his bed early next morning before sunrise. To his disbelief, he saw a buffalo and a bag of rice in a corner of the barn. He was overjoyed, but his father’s disciple came to him again with the same advice. With a little more confidence, the young man went and sold the buffalo and the bag of rice again. The disciple also advised him again not to keep any unused money but give it all away to the poor. The advice was followed and, to his surprise, a buffalo and a bag of rice appeared again in his barn the next day! This became a routine and the man slowly became very comfortable and happy with all his needs met daily.
Fearing the worst, the disciple slowly plucked up the courage to enquire about the whereabouts of his teacher’s daughter. The man was ashamed to tell him that hers was a pathetic plight as she earned her livelihood as a prostitute in the village nearby. The disciple was eager to help the daughter, so he took the son’s leave and reached her village. True to Brahmaji’s prediction, she lived a wretched life as a prostitute. After introducing himself, he offered to help. He said, “Listen, girl, do exactly as I tell you. Don’t open your door for any customer tonight, but spell out a condition for anyone who knocks. Say that your door will open for him alone who can bring you a bag of rare deep-sea pearls. When you do get such a customer, sell the pearls, live and eat well, but then distribute all the remaining unused money among the poor, keep not a rupee. Continue to do this every night.” The girl was apprehensive that she may lose all her customers, but the old man looked reliable, so she decided to go by his advice. All her customers were turned away that night. Finally, one arrived with a bagful of the rare deep-sea pearls that she demanded. She sold the pearls the next morning, bought all that she desperately needed, and distributed the rest of the money among the poor. The same story repeated every night. And the same man came to her with pearls night after night. The girl was very happy as she had Brahmaji himself as a loving husband who took care of more than her needs and she lived very well.
The disciple took leave of her and left the village early the next morning while it was still dark. He saw a handsome well-dressed man on his way, leading a buffalo by a rope, with a bag of rice on his head and a bag of pearls in his hand. That was the divine Brahmaji whom the disciple alone could see due to his yogic powers. “Where to, Brahmaji?” asked the disciple. Brahmaji explained his plight. Since the buffalo and the bag of rice were sold daily, and the prostitute demanded the pearls daily, he alone had to fulfil their prarabdha. That much was their due and they had to be supplied with it.
There is a divine scheme based on action and reaction. The reactions of your past actions, good or bad, have to be lived out by you alone. Those that fructify in the present life are called prarabdha. All that is happening, happens because of it. No one can stop it. If it is not yours, it will surely not come your way. Some take this theory as an excuse not to put forth any effort. But, however painful the circumstances, your intelligent handling of it can turn the same into something beneficial, aiding your growth. Put forth intelligent self-effort and play with your prarabdha, change the same to your advantage. If your prarabdha is to be speedily and helplessly floating downstream in a boat, you can change it by self-effort, by installing a motor and turning the boat’s direction upstream! Don’t idle away your life complaining about your fate and blaming your destiny, “It is my prarabdha, what can I do?” Make the Lord work to fulfil your prarabdha but you handle it wisely. He has no choice, as the prarabdha has to exhaust itself. So, He will have to bring the buffalo, the bag of rice and the pearls daily.
The writer is the president of Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.
The best way to live intelligently
No one teaches us self-awareness and self-understanding. Yet, if we do not understand our self, we cannot manage our self and, therefore, our relationships, roles and responsibilities. As a result, we learn to believe life happens to us and we live from ‘outside in’. We will often play victim. But when we realise who we really are and understand how life works, we come to know that life happens for us and we start to live from inside out. We restore our personal mastery.
Understanding exactly why this is so requires us to cultivate the four main levels of intelligence within our consciousness. We ‘think rationally’, which is a function of our rational intelligence (IQ). We can ‘feel intuitively’, which defines our intuitive intelligence (II). We can ‘know insightfully’, which is defined by our spiritual intelligence (SQ). Sabotaging all three are our ‘emotional reactions’, which can only be understood and lessened when we cultivate our emotional intelligence (EQ).
But first, what is meant by intelligence? The simplest definition—using what you know in the accurate way at the accurate moment. For example, you make a rational decision not to walk into cars as you cross the road because you know that will mean damage to your body and much physical pain (IQ). You intuit and know your friend is suffering, so you intuitively decide to listen more (II). You have had the insight that you are a spiritual being, so you knowingly decide to connect with the person who wants to insult your physical looks because you know you will remain unaffected and compassionate (SQ). They may insult your physical appearance, but you do not take it personally as you know you are a non-physical being. In each case you are creating a decision using a different level of your intelligence based on what you know.
However, when you become angry towards someone and project that anger at them, it is a demonstration of your absence of intelligence and, therefore, your ignorance. I do not mean ignorance in a derogatory sense. It just means you have not yet realised, so you do not yet know, that you are 100 per cent responsible for your emotions and emotional reactions.
This is why emotional intelligence is an oxymoron. When you are emotional, it is a sign of your lack of intelligence, simply because you are unknowingly projecting responsibility for the emotions that you create on to another. That means you have not realised you are responsible for all your emotions and you are, therefore, making your self suffer. Love, joy, happiness are not emotions. They are our natural states of being.
Emotional intelligence is knowing how to untangle our emotionally driven reactions from our consciously created responses. However, discerning the difference is only possible when we have cultivated our spiritual intelligence. In other words, SQ is when we know and are able to maintain the awareness of who I am as a spiritual being, when we know and maintain the awareness of how I function at the level of consciousness, and know why I am here in this world.
It is these three aspects of our self that no one was able to teach us formally or informally. Most of our teachers and our parents did not know. They only passed on their ignorance out of innocence.
Mike George is an author of 16 books on self-awareness, spiritual intelligence and personal undevelopment. To subscribe to Clear Thinking, go to www.relax7.com.
Moving seamlessly from fear to love
In today’s world, one of the most important needs is for stability. Most people though, are in a state of instability and insecurity based on named or unnamed fears.
Some fears are obvious and clear to us and some are hidden and only come to the surface in exceptional circumstances. For many, the enforcement of a lockdown and the abrupt cessation of a busy working life can, in the sudden abundance of time available to us, bring many fears to the surface. Fears that we may have been suppressing for a long time.
With courage and honesty and a sense of inquiry, we can begin to acknowledge, understand and accept the fear and this can lead to some kind of permanent change.
There are three questions to ask the self, if the feeling of anxiety and fear is difficult to pinpoint. Am I afraid of God? Am I afraid of others? Am I afraid of what is or is not going to happen?
Sometimes, an inherited, misplaced and unexamined feeling of a punishing God can bring up guilt and a perceived need for retribution.
If I am afraid of others, what is it that I am afraid of, rejection or punishment?
Am I afraid that I will be unable to bear or manage anything that might be on the horizon?
Sometimes, we suppress our fears to such an extent that when they do come to the surface, they have become so enormous and out of all proportion to the reality, they feel like monsters.
Research shows that very small children are not only afraid of unnamed monsters, but also of loud noises, falling and separation. So, we too often become afraid of the loud noises of fear in our heads, of falling from grace and of being separate and alone.
We need to respond like a child, with innocence; the kind of innocence that brings immediate confidence. We need to remember that whatever mistakes were made, were made in innocence of real understanding and power.
We need to put all our trust in the true Innocent Lord – who has immense benevolent love for each and every one. We need to remember that while each one of us is an individual and will ever remain so, the human family, nature and the animal world are one – there is in reality no separation.
There was a time when all was divine, and that time is to return. Let hesitation, the first step towards fear, not rob me of my right to return home to my divinity.
To feel that oneness, let me commune with God, have confidence and trust that all will be well, and contribute my powerful good wishes and pure feelings to all the souls of the world.
B.K. Veronica coordinates the activities of the Brahma Kumaris in Florida, USA.
Unlimited consciousness helps us connect with God
Until we learn how to detach ourselves from a limited consciousness, human love, with all its limitations, will attract us against our will again and again. Detachment of this sort is cultivated by reaching for God in such a way that we feel Him satisfying the needs of any and all relationships. God is the Ocean of Love, so it is possible to experience Him as our perfect father, mother, beloved, and so on, all at the same time. It is only when we expose ourselves to all the aspects of God’s love that we are then purified, that is, made full by its power. A limited consciousness will not allow us to experience such fullness.
Only by being faithful to One can we fulfil ourselves in this way. Souls have the habit of being distracted by the physical world. We have to study and look after ourselves to ensure that this does not happen to us. The only thing that will break this habit is the practice of soul-consciousness. By being introverted, by turning our attention to One, we will continue to receive light and might from God.
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