Saturday, 26 April 2014

Overcome Your Soft Addictions

Many 'harmless' habits that we overindulge in like nail-biting, shopping, web-surfing, continuous texting or checking for messages, overworking, procrastinating, gossiping, watching too much television, and too many cups of tea or coffee, can become what are called "soft addictions" that limit our potential, ultimately draining us of both energy and self-respect.

Unlike hard addictions, which are usually related to a chemical substance, you don't die from soft addictions. ''But you don't really live, either,'' said Judith Wright, author of The Soft Addiction Solution, who labelled this phenomenon.

Soft addictions begin as normal, everyday, soothing activities, but can end up numbing your feelings and leaving you drained of energy. Some addictions like television zone you out; others like shopping bring temporary ease. Overeating or overusing gadgets are the adult equivalent of thumb-sucking. Though these feel like solutions to a problem, they can get in the way of leading a more fulfilling life.

They can also often have long-term consequences. Stress snacking can cause you to be constantly unhappy about how you look, how your clothes don't fit, and worse, get you to an unhealthy weight. A runaway shopping addiction can destroy your finances, or at least cause you to lie about it. Excessive caffeine intake can cause headaches, insomnia, irritability and anxiety. Too much TV on a regular basis, especially at night, makes it both hard to sleep and hard to wake up.

Thought to be patterns that begin innocuously in early life, Nathalie Anderson's fairytale take-off poem on the subject humorously yet painfully reveals the truth about soft addictions:
"…And so it's been. The prim princess royal, gifted with itty-bitty knitted booties, now acquires shoes – so many, she'll never go slipshod or round-heeled, a pair for every coloured thread in every Persian carpet…

"There's a prince who bets on ponies. There's a prince who marries showgirls. There's a princess who reads twelve mysteries whenever she's down…"

Because they seem so benign, and we even sheepishly admit them or laugh them off, often it's friends, family or colleagues who point out when this gets in the way of our work, relationships or other aspects of our lives.

If people tease you about always being late, your friends get mad when you are texting while seeming to engage with them, your husband complains that you spend more time with your online friends than him, if your wife points out you are becoming a couch potato – these are warnings of a soft addiction. Also pay attention to those little feelings of discomfort that softly but persistently nag you when you're off track.

You have to recognise that there is a deeper need or hunger under the soft addiction. You need to make the distinction between what you want and what you hunger for. As Wright said, ''You might want a new designer dress, but you're really hungry to feel good about yourself.''

The first step to beating a soft addiction requires making a commitment to higher quality of life. When we pay attention to where our soft addictions are getting in the way of our wellbeing, daily functioning, our intimacy, and ultimately our dreams, we can regain hours of wasted time, choose health-supporting options, save money wasted on comfort-shopping, and restore a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.

First Published by Marguerite Theophil on

Saturday, 19 April 2014

We are Alive - Yet Dead

The Truth is: Renunciation is Supreme Enjoyment

Greek thinker Diogenes gave up everything. Like Mahavira, he lived naked. All he kept was a begging bowl, for begging and drinking water. One day, he saw a villager drinking water by cupping his hands, so he immediately threw away his begging bowl.

The villager asked him, “What have you done?” He replied, “I never knew that one could drink water by cupping one’s hands – now why should i be deprived of such a joy? The begging bowl is only a dead thing, and when i fill it with water i feel nothing from it. When i fill my hands with water, they feel the connection with water, its coolness, its life-giving energy. My love also enters the water through my hands, and it becomes alive. So i will be drinking that too.”

The first time Diogenes cupped his hands and drank water from them, he started dancing! He said, “What a fool i was to use a dead vessel to drink water from, because it made the water dead, too. The energy from my hands, the heat, could not pass through to the water. And this was also insulting to the water.”

Our senses have become numb like his bowl. Whatever we receive through them becomes dead. Food on the plate looks beautiful; the minute it enters your mouth it becomes ordinary. Music becomes mundane when it enters your ears. Flowers lose their beauty when seen through your eyes.

We make everything ordinary – whereas everything in the world is extraordinary. The flower you see on a tree has never blossomed before. It is absolutely new. It is impossible to find another flower like it on this earth. It has never existed before, and it will never exist again in the future. Our eyes turn the existence of a unique flower into something mundane when we say, “It’s okay – we’ve seen thousands of roses like this before.” Because of the thousands you have seen, your eyes have become blind and you cannot see what is there, present, in front of you. What have those thousands of flowers got to do with this one?

Emerson has written that upon seeing a rose it came to his mind that the flower has no idea of the existence of thousands of other flowers – neither of the flowers still to come, nor of those which have gone before. This rose is present, here and now, offering itself to the divine. It is joyful because it does not compare itself with any other. But when he sees it, the thousands of others which he has seen get in the way. His vision is blurred, and the unique experience of this flower goes to waste. He doesn’t perceive its beauty; the strings of his heart are not moved, nor are his senses stirred. We live in a unique world. The divine is manifested here in so many ways all around us. But we’ve made a grave of our senses. We are only passing through life – nothing touches us. We ask, “Where is bliss, where is godliness?” – and it is present all around us! Inside, outside, there is nothing other than godliness. By abusing our senses, we kill the one who could experience it.

Renunciation is the science of supreme enjoyment. Only someone who knows how to let go is able to experience. Let go of the meaningless so that you can realise the meaningful; let go of sensations so that you can perceive the subtle.

Voice Of Silence, Osho International Foundation,

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bursting The Narcissistic Bubble

Pulkit Sharma

So many people put in huge efforts, pushing their mind and body to staggering limits to achieve success. They want boundless success in every sphere – unrivalled position at work, overflowing admiration and respect, abundant sexual pleasure, unshakable power, enormous amount of money, prolonged youth and entertainment to continuously pamper them. But they are unaware that all this success is ephemeral. Despite the best of efforts to secure such success, happiness remains elusive. Stress, depression and aggression however always threaten to burst this narcissistic bubble.

The desire for success has turned everyone into a narcissist and so they are only focussed on fulfilling their own needs and desires. Other people are seen not as fellow human beings but as targets to be persuaded and exploited. Everyone is busy thinking how they can use others to further their own agenda. Relationships are becoming full of exploitation, oppression and manoeuvring.

Desire for this kind of success stems from either low self-esteem or an experience of deprivation. People who feel weak, undesirable and insignificant within chase success in a hope to feel valued. They feel that once they become successful, the world will shower them with undivided attention. They hope that this in turn will transform the way they feel about themselves. Others want success to ensure that they will always get whatever they want and there will be no deprivation.

However, no matter how much a person achieves, these feelings of low self-esteem and deprivation persist because the person has wrongly identified these painful experiences as part of self. Until and unless the person breaks away these identifications, there is no respite.

Accomplishments can bring only a temporary relief. In my work as a clinical psychologist, i often get to see clients who seem to feel like a nobody despite doing and having a lot. They see themselves as separate from the world, a discrete entity that wants the best for itself. They live in constant dread of losing the success they have achieved. They try to deny this fear by immersing themselves once again in the web of their goals but one fine day the denial breaks down. They realise that they need a new psychology of life, something that goes beyond ephemeral success.

Everyone wishes to be happy. But we have started confusing excitement with happiness. The more you base your happiness on external feedbacks such as outstripping others, admiration, material rewards, possessions and impression management, the unhappier you become. Ephemeral success can only create excitement. Excitement is like a drug, you need a daily dose of it
to satisfy your craving. Else there is turmoil.

Real success is what brings happiness instead of just excitement. To achieve it, one needs to turn within and introspect deeply. Try to see that you have been part of a socially and culturally constructed rat race. This has led to creation of a false self. There is no escape from it until you consciously and fearlessly opt out. Once you take this crucial step new opportunities will unfold.

Different people find value and bliss in different activities. Once you find your area of liking devote yourself completely to it with one-pointed attention. Find joy in the activity itself rather than wanting the world to admire you for it. Real success always leads to real happiness, a state full of bliss, peace and permanence. This state is characterised by self-reliance, renunciation of ego needs, acceptance and expression of one's true Self.

First Published on
Aseem Seth

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Devi As Avidya And Vidya Maya

The Mother Goddess is the dynamic aspect of the supreme, transcendent Being which is infinity, eternity and ineffable peace, beyond cognizance of senses and mind. Invocation of the universal Mother leads to attainment of knowledge of Self or Atman as supported by the Yaksha Prasna in Kenopanishada. Navratri celebrates these aspects of Devi Ma and its conclusion is celebration of learning and knowledge.

The Navratri veneration of Devi is shakta worship, one among five divisions, the others being Shaivite, Vaishnava, Ganpatya and Saurya that invoke respectively Shakti, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganpati and Surya deities. Devi Mahatmya, Durga Saptashati or Chandi Patha describe the glory of the Supreme Mother in 700 verses by Rishi Medha to King Suratha and a merchant named Samadhi who were deeply intrigued and puzzled that their mind was seized of the very people who deprived and ousted them and were in fact the cause of their sorrow and grief. This reflects the attraction we feel for illusionary worldly pleasure. Devi Tattva explains that whatever we see or perceive as the phenomenal world is the outcome of supreme power of Parabrahmn, the primal force called Adi Shakti, also known as transcendental power, Parashakti and superlative power, Mahashakti. Sages say that Parabrahmn and His supreme mysterious power of world illusion that we called Maya or Devi are one and the same, like heat and fire, milk and its whiteness, snake and its zigzag motion.

The devout invoke Devi in twofold form, Avidya Maya and Vidya Maya, cause of cosmic delusion as well as cosmic deliverance! As Avidya Maya she binds down all to this illusory appearance, world play, and as Vidya Maya she releases them from bondage. Hence artists see her as a radiant goddess with a noose in one hand that binds and a sharp knife in the other hand that snaps the bondage. Being a mysterious combination of Avidya Maya and Vidya Maya, she is called imponderable and indescribable.

Durga Mahakali
As Durga Mahakali, she destroys, but to save. Mahakali is not fearful or terrible but loving and compassionate as she destroys all evils, just as a broad spectrum antibiotic kills all pathogenic microbes. This concept is found in other religions too in terms of God and Satan in Christian theology, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman in Zoroastrianism – like Mara in Buddhism, we call it ignorance, asuric forces or Avidya Maya in Hinduism. It is called Anatman or non-self in Vedantic parlance that can be overcome by knowledge of Atman.
In Saptashati we find victory over three demons – Madhu Kaitabha, gross form of lower nature of man, Mahishasura of rajo guna and Shumbha-Nishumbha representing vikshepa and avarana shakti equipped with a host of warriors including Raktabeeja symbolising human egoism.

Mother in three aspects Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati,

Venerating Mother in three aspects, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, is significant. As a play of Avidya Maya there is involution of spirit into matter, absolute into relative, one into many. The creative power of Brahma in the form of Mahasaraswati comes first, followed by the protective aspect of Vishnu as Mahalakshmi and the dissolving power of Rudra as Mahakali or Durga. A devotee seeks the Mother first as Mahakali for destroying grossness and nescience, then as Mahalakshmi for sustaining and prospering in yogic and spiritual life and finally as Mahasaraswati, the first emanation and bestower of knowledge for uniting individual jiva with Paramatma or Parabrahmn and attain universal cosmic consciousness.

Mahagauri Parvati

Inspired by teachings of Swami Chidananda Saraswati, Divine Life Society.
First published by Jayant B Dave in

The NAVARATRI's Finish Tonight - She goes back tomorrow to Her Husband - Om Namah Shivaya!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Goddess embraces Life


A prince abandons his wife and infant son to become a sage who discovers the path of liberation from suffering. The prince came to be known as the Buddha and his path came to be known as Buddhism.

The very opposite story is found in Hinduism: a sage is coaxed to marry and produce sons who provide for and protect humanity, while his wife encourages him through conversation to reveal the secret of outgrowing the human fear of invalidation. This sage is called Shiva and he is called the destroyer in Hinduism. He destroys by embracing the Goddess, addressing her as his Shakti, strength, rather than as Maya, delusion.

The opposing structure of the two stories reveals the fundamental tension in Indian thought: must we give up worldly life to be truly happy or can happiness emerge within the household itself? Despite the hold of monastic orders, it is the latter thought that finds greater favour in Indian society. Ultimately, even God has to marry. Without the Goddess he is stripped of divinity.

The Goddess plays a key role in Indic thought, most in Hinduism, quite a bit in Buddhism and to some degree in Jainism.

In the Hindu Puranas, it is the Goddess who challenges ritualism and hierarchies and notions of purification that shape Indian society, when as Sati she defies her father’s ritualistic excesses by choosing to marry a man/god, Shiva, who disregards all rituals.

Buddhism of the Buddha transforms as the centuries pass from the old Thervada school (Sri Lanka) to the later Mahayana (China/Japan) and Vajrayana (Tibet) schools. In narratives and imagery, he becomes less intellectual and more affectionate, less withdrawn and more compassionate, sprouting many hands that comfort and guide, as the concept of Bodhisattva gains ground. And this transformation is also associated with a Goddess, Tara. She softens the stern world-renouncing Buddha and makes him a savior who helps those who are unable to help themselves. Tara is a mysterious goddess who can transcend the divide of Buddhism and Hinduism. Her temples are found across Bengal, Orissa and Assam but here she is identified with Kali: very different from the Blue and Yellow and White and Green Taras of Tibetan Buddhism who are associated with Lakshmi and Saraswati as well as Durga and Kali.

In Jainism, she is Padmavati, a demi-goddess, having not quite the stature of the ascetics such as the Tirthankaras but one very popular amongst the common folk who seek material pleasures in this life, hoping to eventually outgrow their karmic hunger for wealth and power and fame, and walk the path of the Jina. Though her name associates her with a lotus and hence with Lakshmi, she is also a fighter and guardian goddess like Durga, who along with her husband, Dhararendra (Indra of the earth), protects Parshva, the 23rd supreme sage of this era. Padmavati is more popular with the Digambara Jain tradition, not the Shvetambara tradition.

Goddess is central to Tantra, a body of texts (not just Hindu) that emerged alongside Agamas and Puranas in medieval times. These texts gave great value to imagery and all things tangible over the abstract philosophies of the sages. They spoke less about delusions and more about power. They spoke less about purification and more about pollution. Tranquillity was abandoned in favour of sensory agitation.

In other words, the Goddess demands that life be affirmed, not denied.

Source: Click Here