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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

TO DEAL WITH CHALLENGES, THINK RIGHT

B.K. Shivani

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When there is a tragedy in the family, such as the loss of a loved one, many people are bewildered as to how to deal with the emotions that come up. They wonder how they can be positive in that situation. What does positive thinking mean? It is not thinking about nice things. There are times when nothing seems nice in our life. Positive thinking is thinking right. Knowing how to think right in every situation helps to keep our state of mind good. The vibrations radiating from us then create a strong, supportive environment.

Most people do not pay much attention to their thoughts. They think thoughts occur inside the mind, invisible to others, and they have no practical impact. But thoughts subtly shape our life. Our attention is usually focused on the evident aspects of life, such as physical health, relationships, work, and finances. Taking care of the mind is rarely on our list of priorities. As a result, emotional wounds accumulate in the mind. But since we cannot see them, and neither can others, we do not bother to deal with them.

Another reason why we neglect the mind is that we do not recognise its importance. We think that once everything in our life is taken care of, the mind will automatically be well, and we will be happy. We have heard the saying that one who masters his mind succeeds. But we live the other way round – we try to master everything else in the belief that it will bring us peace of mind. Our thoughts create our world; it is not the world that creates our thoughts. This is another equation we get wrong, because of which we ignore our thoughts. The Covid pandemic has taught us that we need to keep both body and mind strong. Thinking right helps not just during a pandemic, but in every situation.

We can start with thinking right about past incidents that have caused hurt, particularly if we are holding on to the pain. To have a healthy mind is essential to heal old wounds. It helps to remember that our thoughts are like seeds, and the external aspects of our life are the branches and leaves that have sprung from them. When we walk into a garden, we admire the colour and fragrance of the flowers; no one takes note of the seeds buried in the soil, away from sight. The same happens in our life. We compliment people on their looks, their job, their house, and everyone likes such appreciation. So, we too focus on what others appreciate, neglecting the seeds.

Over time, this neglect begins to tell on us. First, it shows in our health. Every thought we create triggers biochemical processes that have an effect on the body. When we hold on to past hurts, guilt, anger or hatred for someone, all that emotional energy does not remain confined to the mind. It affects our feelings, which determine our mental health. Then it impacts on our physical health. Most diseases are psychosomatic – they are caused or aggravated by mental factors such as internal conflict and stress. We may incorporate all the right things into our lifestyle, but if we do not change the way we think, speak and behave, the mental roots of disease will remain, and grow, gradually producing illness.

The third aspect of life affected by our thoughts and feelings is relationships. Each thought carries some energy, which radiates from us in the form of subtle vibrations. Others can sense the vibrations and get an idea of our thinking and feelings and they will respond to that. The right kind of thoughts create an atmosphere conducive to cordial relationships. They lay the subtle foundation for a healthy and happy life, enabling us to deal successfully with any situation and help others do the same.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

WHAT MAKES GOD HAPPY?

Dadi Janki

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God does so much, yet He is beyond the feeling of doing. He does not think, yet still you can say that He thinks. That is His wonderful personality. We cannot become God, because His part is unique. But as His children, we can become like Him. And this is all God wants us to do.

God is very happy to see us making the effort to become like Him. When we are not making this effort, He does not like it at all. This is because He is not just our Mother and Father, but He is our Teacher as well. A teacher is never happy when the students do not study well.

God has given us understanding, made us belong to Him and is sustaining us in such a way that we are becoming like Him. Of course, there is a great difference between the Supreme Soul and other souls, but still it is not difficult to become like Him.

The more we can become like God and serve, the more we can become truly accurate instruments for His task. Then we can enjoy His company even more.

God wants us to become like Him, and we want to become like God, so the desire of both parties is being fulfilled.

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Spiritually Speaking

Living life in a worthwhile way

Aruna Ladva

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“Time is saying to me: Live and make the most of every moment.”

– The late Dadi Janki

Do we know how to appreciate the things that we have in our life? How much do we take for granted?

Just stop for a moment and ask yourself: How much is your body worth? How much are you worth as a person? What is the value of your time? Do you know how much your smile is worth? When you look at all these assets that you have and that sometimes you neglect to appreciate, you will then realise that you are not poor at all.

So, when we come to measure the value of things in our life, we are the ones that will put a price tag on them, not others. How much value we put on something depends on how important that thing is to us. And if we really value something, then we will be mindful of how we use that thing and we will take care not to misuse it.

Spiritual economy is not simply about saving the pennies, but more about how we are putting to use all those pennies that we save. In other words, to put to good use all the assets that we have. Even a miser has several assets. A miser is not poor, but the difference between him and the economist is that the economist makes his assets grow for himself and others, whilst the miser keeps them safe in a locker for himself. But the irony is that, often like Scrooge, he neither gets any pleasure from that money and those assets and nor does anyone else.

Economising is not about hoarding for a rainy day. It is not about penny pinching. It is not about false economies, saving a penny and spending a pound kind of a thing. Economising is not avoidance. For example, not going to work in order to save petrol! That is really not sensible!

Economising is about waste, to have the mindset not to waste things and having that respect for Mother Nature. There are so many ways we can make an effort to make savings. It is not just a matter of money. There are the practical things such as water, food and light, fuel and electricity. But then there are also our precious assets such as time, thoughts, the energy of our mind, our breath, and our physical energy expressed through actions. Why do we need to use ten words, when we can use two? Why do we think too much when the decision can be made instantly?

The reason why we try and save our ‘energies’ is so that we can then do the things that we really want to do. So, if we save some time here, we can use it there, doing perhaps what we love to do. That is good budgeting and good economy! But if after we save the time or money or anything else, and we do not use these in a worthwhile way, then we are wasting those precious items.

We are given things in life so that we can create good karma with them. If we waste or misuse them then the karma comes back to us, and we run into a loss every time. Our lovely planet provides enough for every one of us. But how much do we use wisely and well, and how much do we waste? When we learn to be respectful and economical with the resources that we have, it will mean that everyone can live happily and harmoniously together.

As Oscar Wilde famously said, and we would do well not to forget his words and take care not to become someone who ‘…knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing….’

Courtesy of itstimetomeditate.org

Aruna Ladva is an author and the director of Rajyoga meditation centres in Kuwait and Egypt.

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Spiritually Speaking

WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE GOOD WISHES

B.K. Usha

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Having good wishes for others is one of the cornerstones of a charitable life. But it can be difficult to have good wishes for everyone, or at all times. That happens when we lack good wishes for the self. We can give others only what we have. Pure and positive thoughts are prerequisites for wishing others well. This is where spirituality comes in.

Whatever our social or economic status, if we recognise and reflect on the fact that we are souls — spiritual beings who are originally pure, peaceful, and loving — we begin to experience our innate qualities. As this experience fills the soul with purity, peace and love, we are able to share the same with others.

If we look at our circumstances and think, “I am not so good. I keep failing to meet my goals”, such thoughts weaken the soul and hold it back from realising its potential. Instead if we turn our attention inward and tap into the virtues that every soul has, positive thoughts begin to emerge.

Those who make a habit of meditating in this manner are saved from wasteful thinking. Their time is engaged in constructive thoughts, so there is no margin for other kinds of thoughts to arise. Such people automatically become well-­wishers for everyone as they are free from thinking ill of others. Since they are upright in character, they tend to see and think of everything in a sanguine way, which is why they have good wishes for everyone. Even when they notice people’s defects, they do not dwell on them or think: ‘This one is always like that anyway’. Instead, they offer them the support of their good wishes and pure feelings.

Wishing others well means giving hope to the hopeless and making the weak strong; it is not being dismissive or contemptuous towards those who have made a mistake or have some shortcoming. It is not enough to just be nice and think well of others. Do we use our resources to serve — with our attitude, feelings, words and behaviour? Or do we busy ourselves with doing a lot by the way of service and at the same time look down on those we serve? Can that be called true service?

Someone who has good wishes helps others forget their weaknesses and inspires them to become better. They would not look at anyone with dislike; they seek to uplift others. Do we serve in this way? This is something worth checking.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

TAKE A DEEP BREATH, BE CALM AND STEADY

If your mind is stiff, you are not mentally healthy. To attain a perfect state of health, one has to be mentally calm, steady, and emotionally strong.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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O nly a healthy bud can blossom. In the same way, only a healthy being can succeed. So what’s being healthy? If you are feeling rough inside, then you are not healthy; if the mind is stiff and not calm, you are not mentally healthy. When the emotions are rough, you are emotionally not healthy. To attain a perfect state of health, one has to be mentally calm, steady, and emotionally strong.

The state of healthiness has to flow from the innermost of your being to the outermost, and vice versa. That state is called Swasthya in Sanskrit. Swasthya means health. It also means being in one’s Self. Swasthya or health is not just confined to the body and the mind; it has come to you as a gift from the cosmic mind or the ‘Indra’.

Have you noticed this? When you enter a place where a very disturbed and stressed person has spent some time, you start feeling disturbed for no reason even if the stressed person is not around any longer. The same feelings, same thoughts, same emotions come to you.

 Similarly, when there is a harmonious vibration like at a place where a Satsang is happening, you feel good. You don’t know why. So feelings are not isolated in one’s body, they are all around. So is the breath. Ditto for the mind, it is in the whole environment because the mind is subtler than the five elements — the earth, water, fire, air and ether. Like if there is a fire somewhere the heat is not just in the fire, it is also radiating throughout the place. Subtler than that is air, which is all over.

 So if you are unhappy or depressed, you are not the only one who is feeling it; you are spreading it to the whole environment. A time may come in the future when people will be fined for being depressed because they are creating emotional pollution!

 But how can we control this? That is the key question and the answer lies in meditation. The main purpose of meditation, Pranayam and related practices, is that they increase prana or the subtle life energy. Prana is subtler than emotions. When you attend to the subtlest, the gross becomes all right. You handle the breath and the body gains good health. In the ancient days, the prayer has been that let this collective consciousness, the Indra, always bring health and put me back to my Self. Let it always keep me centred, joyful and happy. Let everyone whom I meet bring me back to the Self. This is important because the words that you hear from people around you affect your state of mind. They either give you peace and joy or create a disturbance.

Usually what happens is that, when people say something that creates jealousy, anger, frustration or sadness in us, we think they are responsible. No, we are responsible because we are contributing to the process. We are affected because the mind is not its Self; it is not centred. How can we gain that peace which is unshakeable? Being individually happy is not enough. Our wish should be that whomever we meet be happy and radiate happiness. A frustrated man will create frustration; a jealous person will create jealousy and so on.

You can turn every situation to your advantage. Have you ever thought of this? There are stories in the Puranas of how a saint turned an arrow that was going to hurt someone, into a garland. If somebody is shooting an arrow at you, insulting you, realise that they are doing it because they are miserable. Once you are blossomed from within, you can take any insult and turn it to your advantage.

Realise that they are simply pouring out their stress, tension and anxiety. When people shout or burst out at you, you can only feel good that all that was building up inside them is coming out. I am not saying that we should encourage this tendency or justify it. But when it happens, do not regret it. What do we normally do? We go on regretting and with regret, we commit the same mistake again.

Even when someone commits a mistake, he or she is not the culprit; the stress inside is causing him or her to make that mistake. Once we get rid of the stress inside us, there is no culprit; no one to be forgiven. Then we begin to realise that the whole thing is just a game in which there is no winners or losers. It’s just a play and fun.

The objective is to have that fun in life and make sure that the knowledge that we gain in life permeates inside us. With this, Upanishad happens and the learning process begins. As we learn more about life, the mystery of the whole creation unfolds. Then the question in the mind is, what is the meaning of life and what is its purpose. What is this world, what is love, what is knowledge and so on?

Once these questions arise in you, know that you are very fortunate. These questions need to be understood; you cannot find the answers in books. You have to live through them and witness the transformation. That is perfect health; you are transformed from within. And the bud becomes a totally blossomed flower.

 Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.

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YOU ARE NOT YOUR MATHEMATICAL COMPREHENSION

Arun Malhotra

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The human mind wreaks time. We think in terms of time. We think that time is not passing or time is passing fast. The sense of time that is ahead of us and the sense of time that we passed lend us an artificial cognition and we perceive this artificiality as the truth of life. Therefore we say that time is all-powerful and time is the truth. 

Krishna in Gita has said that I am the time to denote that the time which is human comprehension which has penetrated deep into our cognition is within Him. That which is time exists in the mind. In existence, that which is time exists like existence. Things are changing around you. Seasons birth new seasons. Seeds birth trees and trees birth flowers and seeds. Everything is changing around you. Water is gushing down fast in rivers to birth into the sea. Water is gushing fast because it wants to birth into a vapour that will birth icebergs. The human body is changing every moment. Old cells birth new cells in the colony of 90 trillion cells. Days birth nights and nights birth days. Everything is changing around you. 

The predicament of mankind is that man wants to know ‘how much’ time-change. This sense of measuring ‘how much’ time is practically useful to be more organised so you make good use of it. But it is not necessary for your existence. You simply exist and the sense of measurement of time is not necessary for living your life. You exist in existence because existence exists in you. Existence is the truth in which you exist. Measurement of time that how much do we exist has gripped us. 

We think about how much life we have. How much life is left? All this is interpretation in terms of time. This type of interpretation breeds death in us. Our mind is nothing but an interpretation of time. This body anyway is going to birth a new body. Like one lived 70 years that is only a measurement of time by human comprehension.

In fact, we live in infinity and eternity. Our sense of measurement of time lends us an understanding of ‘that much’ time we lived. We ruin our eternal life. We ruin our life that exists like existence and that is in our hands to live right now. Instead of living an eternal life that is in our hands right now we constantly live in the darkness of time. This mathematics of time is simply a mathematical artificiality. We comprehended time we invented time and we have mired ourselves in manipulability of time. Time is a piece of information. Life is not a piece of information. Life is being here and now in the being-ness of your being. Life is not a scale of time. 

The scale of time has lent humans the dimension of science and mathematics has lent us comprehend the world better. We cognise the world in a certain way. Animals don’t cognise the world in that way. The ones who evolved a better sense of listening cognise it differently whereas those who evolved a better sense of seeing cognise the world differently. When our eyes see an object, say a rectangular object, our ability to cognise that object as rectangular depends on the light thrown on that object. When we see that object, that rectangular object projects an elliptical shape on the retina in the egg-shaped eyes. How does an elliptical shape project on the retina make us assume or decipher that the object is rectangular? 

Science thinks in terms of time. Science cannot explain how does vision that according to science leads us to an assumption of the object, our mind assumes it to be rectangular. Science cannot explain how does vision that is a projection of an image on the retina leads to instant understanding. This is the biggest riddle that AI scientists face. But when one sees an object say a flower one instantly becomes one with the flower. He can dive into that flower-ness of being. No time is needed. Time is needed to calculate. 

We live timelessly and we are timeless. Our minds caused time. Mind is time. Time is mind. Mind is confronted with psychological a disease that is time. The common problem of time is anxiety. Anomalous perception of time that has deep entered into our mind has lent us the situation of neurosis. 

When you are alone, you feel more anxious. You need somebody immediately. A sense of time is necessary to organise things and activities around you. That daily you work out for an hour or you picked up a particular work for four hours. So to organise that won’t keep doing it for more, time may be utilised. 

In reality, that sense of time that is utilitarian is biologically present in your mind already. When you ask yourself that you have to do particular work for an hour, the biological clock in your pineal gland makes you stop exactly after an hour. We have invented chronological time for our utility. We have made Sundays, that is holiday and Saturdays weekend when youngsters party. We have made a day at the end of the year to say goodbye to the year and to welcome the New Year. 

In fact that we call the moment that is where the illusion begins. We generally say, ‘live in the moment’. We live in the moment. Then we say we live next moment also. That fabricates chronological time. But that we call ‘now’ is the now-ness. We live in now-ness. In Hindi the word ‘Now’ is a boat and in English ‘Now’ is also a boat that takes us beyond. We have to live in now. And keep living in now. In that now nothing comes next. Anything that comes next is psychological and the mind.

You may keep sitting for hours, days turn nights. You may keep on sitting. But we have organised our bodies as such that it sleeps in the night. It is spontaneous. The next day we wake up and go to the office. It keeps happening. This continuity has an infinite continuum. The world is ephemeral but that which is infinitely eternal is what we are. 

Time is nothing but a sense of time that is bred in us as the mind. Time is psychological. It is not anything that happens in eternity. You happen in eternity and unhappen in eternity. You are eternal and you exist in eternity. And you keep existing in eternity. And you keep living in that eternity. Your life is eternal. All else is mathematics. You are not your mathematical comprehension. You don’t exist because of your comprehension. You comprehend mathematically because of that being that infinite eternal and timeless. Time is not the truth but that which is the truth is timeless. Nanak has said Satnam — thy name is the truth that is Akal which means timeless.

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

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