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WISDOM REKINDLED

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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True education, I believe, is that which strengthens the individual and keeps them away from sorrow. If someone criticises, one can listen to the criticism boldly, and when one has to offer criticism or a comment, one can give it with patience and confidence, without hesitation. There should be no timidity, there should be joy along with a sense of mental fulfillment—this is knowledge.

Knowledge removes the darkness of ignorance in life and makes you joyful. Without knowledge, we remain depressed in life. Whosoever is depressed, know that they lack knowledge. What is the reason for sorrow? Whatever we have received, will eventually go away, we will leave it all behind. Nothing is going to stay here; everything will change. Nothing will remain static here, neither our body nor our home, profession, prestige—we will go beyond all these one day. Then, what is the fear about?

It is extremely necessary to eradicate ignorance. In many villages, people do not send their children to school. They do not study. Educated people are scarce in the villages, in the backward regions. We need to impart education.

Similarly, in every aspect, we need to obtain knowledge. How and what we should eat—we have no knowledge of it. We eat only carbohydrates—potato, rice, rotis. Potato is starch and carbohydrate, so is rice and roti. We get only one nutrient in our diet. By adding a little bit of lentils, the meal is not balanced. That is why acidity is generated, people fall sick, they get diabetes. One should have knowledge of food.

Life is a combination of simplicity and complexity. On one side, life is very simple, on the other side, it’s very complex. While complexity makes life interesting and aids growth, simplicity gives it some breathing space—both are there at the same time. How? You ate some food and you feel that the food has digested. But if you look into the process of digestion, it is very complex. First, the carbohydrates get mixed with the saliva, then it goes into the stomach and mixes with the gastric juices, where it takes some time to digest. Then, it goes through the duodenum and later gets absorbed in the intestines, after which some goes out, some goes up. The essence of it goes into the blood.

Similarly, even in life, darkness goes and light comes; wisdom dawns and ignorance fades away—this is a simultaneous process. You are washing a soiled cloth, as you are applying soap on it, the dirt is going away and brightness is coming up, both simultaneously. In life, if knowledge has to come up and ignorance has to go away, you need a Guru; you need the Guru principle. It’s not just enough to have wisdom; wisdom also has to be put into action. It has to be useful.

If a great scientist says, “I have all the knowledge”, what is the use of having all that knowledge? Did you use it in practical life? Someone knows all about organic farming, but if they have not done any farming, what is the use? You can have the knowledge and you can die with your knowledge. Have you made use of the knowledge? Did it get utilised in society, in the world? It’s one thing to get knowledge, another thing to be able to transmit it to others and utilize it. Movement of knowledge is an important aspect as well. Okay, you use your knowledge, but what is the use if it yields no result. What is the end product? How much benefit has it produced? You had the knowledge of organic farming and you put in so much work, but later, nothing came out of it.

I want to share one incident with you. Long time ago in the late 1980s in Bangalore Ashram, a gentlemen came from England. He said, “I want to do horticulture, plant lots of trees”, and I said; “Okay!” With enthusiasm, he bought pots and we got him the seeds. Whatever he wanted we gave him. He brought the seeds and he sowed the seeds but his education was not for a tropical climate, his education was for the arctic climate.

He sowed all the seeds in the pots, gave all the nutrition it needed, everything. Seeds were sown, water was being given every day, but finally, we found not a single seed had sprouted. Not one of those 100 odd pots became a sapling. The achievement was zero. At the same time, we gave a villager living around that place, a quarter of the resources given to the educated person, he sowed some of the seeds but grew tomatoes and many other things as well. So, often we think that people have knowledge and they use their knowledge, but achievement happens with something else. Usually, we brand it as luck and leave it at that.

Two gentlemen doing the same business open shops next to each other, one shop is flourishing and the other shop fails. In such a situation, what do we usually say? It is luck. Hasn’t this been the experience? How many of you agree with me? You can see that there are people opening similar types of restaurants, one is flourishing and the other is going down. You don’t understand why this happens. This is where your eyes open to something beyond logic because we are programmed to think only in a logical way.

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Spiritually Speaking

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

B.K. Surya

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When we see the external form of religion that people practice, such as rituals, prayer, reading scriptures and going on pilgrimage, we often comment that ‘this person is very religious.’ This usually means that we consider them to be humble, polite and kind. But religion without spirituality is like the skin of a fruit, with nothing inside — it lacks power.

Spirituality is that which enriches and strengthens the soul, makes it virtuous. Religion and rules governing its practice can make one fearful — people are afraid of committing sin by doing this or that, or they worry about divine retribution for something they have done in the past. Understanding spiritual principles, on the other hand, makes one wise, strong, and fearless.

But people take more easily to religious rather than spiritual practices. The former, with their ceremony, colour, and — in some religions — song and dance, seem more appealing. Moreover, spiritual knowledge has not been propagated as widely as religion.

Religious figures preach compassion, ethics, and charity, but it is all regarded as part of recommended behaviour, and little thought is given to the spiritual truths that lend them value. Even reading the Gita, a book that contains deep spiritual truths, has become a ritual. Reading a chapter of the book every day is considered a virtuous act. People are content to just read the book, and give no thought to living by its teachings.

Religious teachings benefit us and add value to our life only when we live by them. Once we recognise the fact that we are souls, children of the Supreme Soul, and relate to God with that awareness, we no longer feel the need to seek solace in religious rituals. The fulfilment the soul experiences through a direct and heartfelt connection with God ends the search for truth.

But the plurality of faiths in the world confuses many people as to which one to follow. The proof of the right path is that it is simple, purifies and strengthens the soul, and makes life easy and happy. It puts a stop to all our doubts.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HOLY?

B.K. Usha

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What does it mean to be holy? Do vestments, ochre robes, or ash smeared over the body make one holy? What are the qualities of a holy person?

Being holy means to be pure, which in turn means to have elevated thoughts – always and for everyone. Someone with a pure mind has clarity, due to which they can tell the difference between good and bad. A clean and clear intellect enables them to discern the intentions of others and act accordingly. Yet they are not cynical or apathetic, and instead have benevolent feelings.

When we know other people’s intentions, we are not influenced by their nature or behaviour, because we know where it is coming from. Moreover, when we have a pure attitude, we see others compassionately, through the prism of their good qualities. Even when we see a not very impressive side of someone, with our benevolence we are able to show the other person a better way to be. This is purity in action. It is not just a quality to be cherished; it is of greatest value when it serves others.

There are many ways in which purity is manifested and it touches and inspires others. We have a kind vision — no matter what the other person is like, we accept and respect them, and have good wishes for them. Purity in speech means to speak gently, politely, and to the point — no gossip or idle talk. When these qualities are visible in someone, they appear special — they stand out with their friendly and reassuring vibrations and demeanour.

But to be like that we need to watch our thoughts, words and behaviour, to avoid what is ordinary or wasteful. When the intellect is pure, we hold ourselves to the highest standards and do not reason that it is alright to be a little slack as many others are so.

Our time and thoughts are wasted when we do not recognise whether something is right or wrong. We consider unnecessary or wrong activity to be right, and deceive the self by thinking that we are intelligent or strong and our judgement is correct.

A clean intellect, which is the basis of holiness, saves us from these pitfalls. Another sign of such an intellect is that it does not condemn people for their flaws. One who is truly holy, when they see a defect in someone, does not think, “This one is like that anyway”. Instead, they inspire the other person to overcome their shortcomings.

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

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Spiritually Speaking

HOW TO EMPOWER THE CAPACITY FOR SELF-HEALING

Dr Judith Kocken

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When a young child grows up in unsafe circumstances and is not fully welcome, then insecurity is normal and a child gets used to it. A young child always attaches to (a) parent(s), even when circumstances are unsafe. Then ‘unsafety’ is the comfort zone and normal for a child. An impactful event during childhood has a direct relationship with chronic diseases at a later age.

Rejection gives the greatest pain. As a result, the child is unable to access real feelings. When pain is too big to handle in an unsafe situation; when a child is unseen, unheard, not supported in their needs, this impactful situation is transferred to the subconscious mind and survival mechanisms are needed. There is a big difference between survival and living a healthy life. Human beings have three survival mechanisms: fight, flight or freeze. To prevent being rejected, the child often rejects others, becomes angry, bossy, and anxious, is fearful and feels powerless.

Chronic diseases are psychosomatic, which means that the body asks for attention to a deeper cause in the self. The body has a 24-hour relationship and communication with the soul (thinking, memory and emotions). Body and soul are the best friends when in balance, or the worst enemies when there is chronic stress or unresolved pain.

The body grows and exists in relationship with the environment: circumstances, culture, parents, teachers, friends, physical, mental and emotional food have an impact on physical health. Impactful situations break the connection and awareness of the body with the inner soul. Because of feeling rejected, the basic subconscious assumption of a child, based on what they have learned, is: ‘nobody loves me, or, I am not worthy, something is wrong with me’.

In holistic medical treatment, coming home to yourself has a central role. Recognition of the journey of survival up until now and making contact with the desire of the heart (to feel loved and safe) are the golden keys. The adult or child learns how to say ‘yes’ to the present, even if the present is painful and unpleasant. The second step is to take a risk and dare to not know certain things and learn something new. We use deep breathing and meditation to rebuild contact with old emotional pain that is stored in the body. Healing means feeling all the pain, loss, sadness and loneliness that had been stored in childhood because all that was needed so much as a child was not available.

When contact between body and soul is restored, the body begins to increase the self-healing capacity. When we heal ourselves of the old inner wounds, scars remain, which is much easier to live with than open wounds and chronic diseases.

The body possesses tremendous power and wisdom. It gives us messages through physical complaints and chronic diseases as to what is needed in our life. Learning to listen to those messages brings miracles for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. We can heal ourselves. Healing creates a healthy relationship with ourselves and with each other.

Dr Judith M. Kocken MD, PhD, is a paediatrician and a paediatric gastroenterologist. A pioneer in holistic healthcare, she studies and practises Rajyoga with the Brahma Kumaris in The Netherlands.

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SPIRITUAL DETACHMENT SAVES US FROM NEGATIVE INFLUENCES

Dadi Janki

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Let me be humble and let me harmonise and work well with all others but let me not become like them. Others may be influenced by their own arrogance, or by their own negativities, or by ordinariness in the mind, but this does not mean that I have to be.

There should be so much truth in me that others become truthful. My inner state should be such that not only am I not influenced by the negativity of others, but my very presence is a positive influence on all negativities. This is true, spiritual detachment.

It is so exhilarating to experience yourself as a spiritual being. You should never hide that sparkle on the face that comes from having come to God. Everything we used to do on the basis of ego can now be done out of love.

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Spiritually Speaking

The silent mind

B.K Meera

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They say that if you can conquer the mind, you can conquer the world. In other words, we can become masters of the self. So, it is worth taking time each day to see what the state of my mind is. It has been said that the difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer is when I talk to God, and meditation is when God talks to me. But for me to be able to listen to what God is saying, I need to have a silent mind, a quiet mind. Do I allow God to talk to me or is my mind so busy and chattering all the time about this and that, that I do not give God the chance to speak to me?

Silence of the mind is not stopping thinking or suppressing thoughts or making the mind blank. A silent mind is full, not empty – an empty vessel makes the most noise! A silent mind is not judging, commenting, criticising; there are no thoughts of attraction, desires or attachments. The image that comes to mind when I think of silence is a calm lake that has not even one ripple on the surface and yet is deep and powerful. To achieve this state of mind I need to go into the essence of being – just ‘I am’.

I am a being of peace. I, the soul, am silent. My religion is peace. I am the child of the ocean of peace and a resident of the land of peace. This consciousness of being a soul cools the sense organs. When I am in soul consciousness, the mind is calm, and the body is cool.

A silent mind does not need to overthink. Overthinking is a sickness of the mind. A silent mind will know what is the right thing to do, and when it is done there will be no further thinking.

A silent mind will be light, and that silence and light will automatically connect me to God, who is also full of light and power. I can then detach from situations and simply observe in peace and love and all actions that spring from that state of being will be powerful and successful.

I need to practise this return to the essence daily, in fact many times during the day. I need to contemplate and experience this peace and silence for many moments each day. This nourishes my mind, fills it with power, connects me to God.

B.K. Meera is director of the Brahma Kumaris’ services in Malaysia.

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Spiritually Speaking

HOW TO REMAIN CALM AT WORK

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At work, the anger we feel not only upsets us emotionally but 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 for heart disease, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, 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 their own temper. It takes one who is brave of heart to say no to anger.

If someone at work has hurt us, we can choose to forgive and forget or we can choose to retaliate. The choice is ours to make.

There is physical harm we do to ourselves when we are caught up in the opposite of forgiveness: anger, hatred, and vengeance. These feelings cause damage to the physical body.

Doctors and medical researchers are realizing that anger and hatred have detrimental effects on our bodies. Let us analyse the reason.

First, there are certain responses in the physical body designed to help protect itself to preserve the species. When a living creature senses danger, certain hormonal and chemical reactions within the body help it respond to danger. These hormones cause one to fight or take flight. They are useful for giving the body strength and quick physical responses, such as running or protecting one’s self. But if one interprets it as life-threatening problems of daily life that are not a threat to survival, then one is responding with the fight or flight hormones for no reason.

The result is that we do not see a need to flee or fight but feel threatened. This converts into anger or rage. Thus, we become angry over situations that don’t threaten our life. This causes the body to circulate hormones needed to run or protect one’s self over minor situations that are part of daily life. Because these hormones, such as cortisol, are circulating through us when we do not need them to, they end up causing damage to the physical body.

We know for example that real cortisone has side effects on the body, so doctors recommend them cautiously. However, the body’s natural cortisol when we are angry or under stress ends up circulating through us causing stress-related ailments. If one is continually in that state of fear, anger, or stress, those hormones cause a breakdown of other body tissues. This is what causes stress-related ailments such as digestive problems, headaches, heart problems, skin problems, and breathing problems.

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. A majority of the time at our jobs we are responding to minor problems with the same intensity as if our lives were threatened. Think about all the things that make us angry. How many of them threaten our lives? How many are just minor annoyances?

We can learn how to stay calm at work by practising forgiveness when someone hurts us. In this way, we can protect our bodies from the damage of hormones released because of anger. We will see a reduction in stress-related ailments.

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.

One technique to develop forgiveness so we can stay calm at work is meditation. The problems of life will not end. However, through meditation, we can focus our attention on the peace within so we can rise above life’s difficulties.

Through meditation, we are in touch with a place of calm within us that gives us the strength to forgive others, overcome anger, and stay calm at work. We cannot control others at our job, but we can control ourselves. At work, we can choose peace and calm which will help improve our physical and mental health and make for a happier life.

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

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