Friday, 25 September 2015

Universal Patriotism In A Borderless World

A world without borders is one in which people should be able to live anywhere, work anywhere and contribute anywhere ­ for the world is one. All thinking people have a beautiful dream ­ that of living in a world without borders. But for all these people, this remains a dream, as no one has ever been able to actualise it. For my part, however, i can say that i have made it a reality. I always actually live in a world without borders. According to my experience, the concept of a world without borders is quite an achievable target.

I can say that a world without physical borders may not be achievable, but a world without psychological borders is quite attainable for anyone who so desires it. There is no need for external permission for this purpose: every individual can enter into this state ­ by his own decision.

Recently, on a two-week tour to America, when i reached New York’s airport, i was asked to remove my shoes during the security checking process. I willingly started to remove my shoes. Once i had removed one shoe, the security officer said okay with a smile and told me to not remove the other shoe.

According to media reports, certain well-known personalities of India have had similar experiences during their visits to the US. They were offended at it and registered their complaints in the press. Why this difference? The reason was that i took the removing of my shoes as part of a discipline, while others took it as an instance of being insulted. This example shows that the goal of a world without borders is possible. It can be achieved only within a person’s own mindset rather than in the external world.

If you have developed universal thinking in yourself, that is, you consider entire humankind as your brothers and sisters and take the entire world as your own, then you have already achieved the goal of living in a world without borders. You will take every incident at which people usually get offended as normal and adjust to it, just as all situations, both pleasant and unpleasant, are accepted within a family. A world without borders only requires universalisation of this family culture.

Once when i went to Spain and landed at Madrid airport, i remembered the words of an Arab tourist who, after seeing the developments in Spain, recalled the days when Arabs were ruling over the country. He said with great nostalgia: “Will the previous age ever return to us?“ But when i saw the advances made in Madrid, my feelings were different. In my travelogue, i acknowledged the attainments of the people of Spain and observed that, whereas Muslims in their time had brought traditional development to Spain, the Spanish people had now brought about development according to modern scientific standards.

In the modern age, the maxim, `everything for everyone’ has been accepted as a principle. If a person takes the `passport’ and the `visa’ as parts of a normal routine, he will be able to consider every country as his own. He will happily accept these formalities.

In the modern world, nationhood is linked to the homeland. This leads to the concept of patriotism. But if a person lives by the concept of universal patriotism, he will take the whole world as his own.
A world without borders might currently seem unachievable at the physical level, but, at the psychological level, it is quite achievable for everyone.

- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

First Published on

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Art Of Fixing That Which Is Broken

Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear and tear that come with the prolonged use of an object. Keeping an object around even after it is broken, highlighting the cracks and repairs, is seen as simply an event in the life of an object, rather than considering that its usefulness ends when it becomes damaged or breaks.

Kintsugi, a Japanese term meaning `golden joinery', or Kintsukuroi, `golden repair', refers to the art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. The piece often ends up looking more beautiful than before.

A story is told to perhaps trace the origin of this process. In the 15th century, the favourite tea-bowl of the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke, and wanting to drink out of no other cup, he sent it to China for repair. Unfortunately, it came back held together with unsightly metal staples. The Shogun was very disappointed, and challenged his own Japanese craftsmen to come up with a more pleasing means of repair. The potters decided to fill the cracks with lacquered resin and powdered gold. The broken cup became a stunning work of art, valued precisely because of the exquisite way it was repaired.

Often, we try to repair broken things in such a way as to conceal the repair, and make it `as good as new', but the tea masters and potters understood that by repairing a broken bowl with the distinctive beauty of radiant gold, they could instead employ a `better than new' aesthetic.

After mending, the bowl's unique fault lines were transformed into little rivers of gold that made it even more special because the bowl was now unlike any other; completely, uniquely beautiful; a radical physical transformation from broken to newly whole, from useless to priceless.

In Japan there is a kind of reverence for the art of mending, related to the Japanese philosophy of mushin that embraces the concepts of nonattachment, recognition of change and fate as aspects of human life, of living with equanimity amid changing conditions. The philosophy invites us to recognise the history of the object ­ or person ­ and to visibly incorporate the repair instead of disguising it.

Experiencing knocks and breaks and wounds is an unavoidable part of living. It happens to all of us. Relationships break, friendships break, hopes and dreams remain unfulfilled, health and wealth suffer cracks and many times we feel incapable of repairing ourselves.
We handle the breaks in different ways. We may get stuck in the brokenness, indulging in self-pity, or becoming consumed with anger, and never heal. Or else, we pretend the brokenness never happened or we drive it into our `shadow', and as a result deny it and act against it in others without quite knowing why we do this. Sometimes, a bit wiser, we give ourselves the time and attention we need to heal those broken parts, but the resulting scars still feel painful, and remind us of the wounding. And then there are times when we give ourselves the time and attention, but also work to slowly make those places stronger than they were before.

In the throes of an event perceived as negative, it is impossible to see the good in that situation, but looking back we can see that most often, events of brokenness brought in new understanding, or our life took a different course.

It is then that our breaks and scars, as we mend from them, can seem beautiful, in the way they allow us to bring healing, and with it acceptance of the gilded beauty within us.

By Marguerite Theophil - First Published in 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

How to Stay Calm in Frustrating Situations

How to Stay Calm in Frustrating Situations

No Stress

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." ~Buddha

Uh-oh, you did it again.
You fell into the same trap as last week.
Perhaps someone was driving in front of you going 20 in a 55 mph zone, or maybe you received terrible customer service and couldn't get your refund.
So you snapped and lost your temper.
Whatever the reason for your explosive reaction, you haven't yet found a way to keep control and remain calm.
Becoming impatient and losing your temper is sort of like smoking cigarettes. Sure, one or a few hundred won't kill you.
But compounded over time it'll secretly damage you from within by alienating yourself, negatively influencing your kids, and indirectly pushing your spouse or close ones away.
Despite your situation being a big deal, you may not know where to begin to fix it.
You feel powerless to control it, so you continue sweeping it under the rug.

How I Unknowingly Inherited and Cultivated an Unwanted Trait

For most of my life and practically all stressful encounters, I'd become frustrated and lose my temper. I didn't realize I was subconsciously "practicing" negativity each time I did that.
I was acting out an unwanted behavior repeatedly, over and over to the point of mastering pessimism.
I displayed an objectionable outburst for every resented encounter.
Practice makes perfect, after all. And ultimately, I perfected being negative.
Sigh … an unwanted skill so simple to obtain.
My dad learned it from my grandpa, I learned it from my dad, and I've unintentionally passed it on to my two little daughters.
My impatience infected my family. This endless cycle needed to end.
For years, my family stuck with me no matter what, and my guilt coaxed me into trying to finally put a stop to it all.
I tried many things over the years to conquer my impatience—everything from meditation to conscious laughter—and while these methods might help others, they didn't really work for me.
So I struggled trying new tactics—until I found what worked.
Through a lot of trial and error, I've finally conquered it with the following techniques:

1. Curse if you have to.

We all know cursing is a bad habit to begin with, but we need to start somewhere, especially when reacting to situations that set us off.
The moment you instinctively curse, take that as your audible queue to immediately inhale deeply. Visualize negative energy purging from your body as you exhale.
Repeat a few more times to generate a feeling of calm and control.
It can be hard to quit cursing cold turkey, so allow yourself to curse, notice when you do, and then use breathing exercises to calm yourself down.
You're ultimately aiming to replace your expletives with calming breaths the instant a stressful situation arises.
It's advisable to curse when alone—not at others or around those who might be offended (such as parents with children).

2. Do not walk away to cool off.

Instead of walking away to cool off, do the opposite and face the stress head-on by training your brain to "visualize calm" at the moment the stress occurs.
I found that walking away is like a pause button. It only delays the inevitable but doesn't fix the root of the problem. I wasn't reprogramming my brain to react positively when the stimuli occurred.
So for me, visualizing calm was my baby daughter sleeping; for others, a waterfall may do.
When losing our cool, we snap without thinking.
By forcing yourself to visualize calm the moment the stress takes place, you are essentially diffusing it as a potential trigger.
You're nipping it in the bud before it escalates.

3. Fight stress with more stress.

Creatively think of another stressful situation that's ten times bigger than the one you have now, then juxtapose them to realize that your initial stress isn't such a big deal anymore.
These two stressors should be related to each other for this to work.
So what's worse: being late for a job interview, or getting into a mangled car wreck because you were tailgating?

4. Learn to love your enemy in under sixty seconds.

Instead of becoming irate toward the person you feel has wronged you, visualize a loving family member, a caring friend, or anyone close to you in their place instead.
Imagine for a moment that you're driving to work going the speed limit when all of a sudden someone going half your speed abruptly cuts in front of you prompting you to slam on your brakes.
If that were a stranger, you would lose your mind in a heartbeat.
But you can change the whole dynamic. If it were your mother, you would relax in a second and be thankful you didn't accidentally hurt her.
You'll feel an overwhelming sense of peace and accomplishment when you can throw your ego out the window and care about a total stranger.
And what if the person you're frustrated by is a family member? For me, this one's easy. I think of one caring act they have done for me in the past.

5. Apply the asteroid scenario test.

Simply put, if an asteroid hit Earth and life as we know it was about to end, you'd have a choice:
Would you really spend your final days stressing and worrying about something you have absolutely no control over?
Or would you be happy with your loved ones with whatever time you have left?
Extreme situation, I know, but you need to decide and move forward.
Learn to ascertain what you cannot control, and acknowledge this with unwavering acceptance. Then focus on positive steps you can control instead.

6. Accept criticism gracefully.

By accepting criticism without malice, you are neutralizing any tension and strengthening your poise under pressure. You can think of it as psychological judo by redirecting someone else's verbal attacks away from you.
Yes, you will feel hurt and angry, and you'll feel the sting afterward. That's completely normal.
But instead of retaliating impulsively and getting into a heated argument, remember that you can either leave this unstable mess as it is or you can add more fuel to the fire and make it bigger than it already is.
Choose wisely and pick the lesser of the two evils.
No matter what situation you face, know this fact:
You have the power to make a choice. Never, ever give that power away.
Don't waste your precious energy on things that accomplish absolutely nothing.

I've Finally Arrived

It's quite an achievement: I feel closer to my family than ever.
I gradually see my daughters "unlearning" how to be impatient. They followed suit without being aware of it.
It's a work in progress, but pleasing nonetheless.
It's simply amazing how others absorb your warm energy.
I communicate so much easier with my loving wife too. Of course, we do have minor quibbles here and there, but we don't have any sarcastic sharp-tongue arguments now!
Everything feels healthy and balanced.

Start Small in the Right Direction

Engaging in stress is a daily ritual all of us fall victim to with absolute ease.
Make a conscious effort to catch yourself if you falter.
Wait too long and you risk boiling it over. It's too late if you're already worked up.
And if you're dead-set on knowing you'll fail, you will. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So take a stand.
Make an effort to change for the better each instance you feel something simmering from within you.
Use perseverance as a vehicle to your destination.
Your family, everyone close to you, and your own happy life are waiting for you.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Satsang As The Means To Freedom

The question-answer format is a great way to teach and learn. Satsang is a diligent involvement on the part of the students in their quest for knowledge and an equally diligent involvement of the teacher who guides the search. So, we see Nachiketas pressing for answers from Yama in Katha Upanishad. We see the untiring Uddalaka repeating to Svetaketu about the nature of the Self. Uddalaka gives nine illustrations to show the equation between jiva and Brahmn which testifies to the kindness of vedantic teachers towards their students. Briefly then, it is this meaningful involvement on the part of the teacher and the taught that is called satsang.

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yagnavalkya expounds to Maitreyi the concept of satsang as the means to freedom. He says listening is the first step which effortlessly leads one to reflection, which, through a purified mind, resolves in the experience of oneself as the reality. Sravanam or listening, is given repeated emphasis for the reason that the mind is completely new to the way of self-contemplation and has no aptitude for such processes. It can be made contemplative through constant exposure to the teaching which involves listening.

Know reality through constant questioning and by service to the teacher who `knows' the Self. Here service implies getting involved in finding answers for all questions pertaining to the Self. It also implies remaining exposed to the teacher's benign teaching. To live the life indicated by the rishis is the greatest seva that an imperfect mortal could offer to the man-of-perfection. The word `perfection' used by Krishna implies repeated inquiry through seeking answers to questions.

By addressing one's doubts to the teacher we are opening the box of `knowledge' locked up in the master's bosom. A perfect guru immediately detects from the questions asked the false line of thinking of the students. While removing doubts the guru imperceptibly orders and reorganises the pattern of thinking of the student. It has thus been an age-old tradition among Hindus to encourage open dialogues between teacher and taught and which is rightly called satsang.

Association with the wise leads to detachment from sense-pleasures. That in turn leads to freedom from the delusion that the world is real. When the false sense of reality goes, the mind abides in the Self. This abiding state with one's Self is freedom. Satsang thus paves the path to freedom.

An Upanishad is even named Prasna Upanishad, meaning questions and answers as a means to freedom. Six great students approach the teacher Pippalada, wanting to get some doubts cleared. The teacher frees them from all inhibitions in asking questions by saying, `Ask questions as you like'. Encouraging questions is the only way to involve the students' thinking. The first question deals with the problem of creation of the pluralistic world, the second and third discuss methods of worship and the initial sadhana necessary for perfect integration of the seeker's mind and intellect before he steps on to the path of meditation in vedanta. The fourth and fifth questions are an exhaustive enquiry undertaken to study dream and sleep. In the sixth question the main problem is taken up: How to indicate by finite words the seat of the Self, in all is infinite glory and eternality?

This unique method adopted in our scriptures makes them non-dogmatic. The freedom to approach the teacher in person and freely ask questions is the right atmosphere in which the human mind grows and rises to heights of freedom.

~ Swami Chinmayananda
(362nd Geeta Gyana Vagna. Courtesy: Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Save Mother Earth - Environmental Ethos In Vedic Times

Today, the natural resources of the earth are being mindlessly exploited globally far beyond need, resulting in a poor state of their regeneration and causing irreversible damage to the planet. This year's World Environment Day theme ­`Seven billion dreams. One planet. Consume with care' ­ therefore, is highly relevant.

Starting from space, a Vedic mantra, `prithivy apah tejah vayuh akashat' depicts sequential primal appearance of the five basic gross substances, called `panch mahabhuta' ­ namely, space, air, fire or energy, water and earth ­ from which all universal matter is created.

Water has enjoyed the highest social and religious status in ancient Indic culture. Prayers in all four main Vedas refer to water as nectar, honey, source of life, protector of earth and environment, cleanser of sins, generator of prosperity, and ambrosia. Sages in Yajur Veda pray thus, "O Water, thou art the reservoir of welfare and propriety, sustain us to become strong. We look up to thee to be blessed by thy kind ambrosia on this earth. O water, we approach thee to get rid of our sins." Rivers were considered divine and worshipped as goddesses and people were ordained to use their life-sustaining waters most judiciously and with greatest reverence.

Today, we have lost sight of the fact that the resources are finite. Of all of earth's water, only 0.007% is accessible for human use. Today, globally more than 1.1 billion people have inadequate availability of water.

In Vedic cosmology, Prithvi or earth symbolises material base as mother and the Dyaus, upper sky or heaven, symbolises the unmanifested immortal source as father, which together and between them, provide paryavaran, the environment.

An Atharva Veda hymn says, "Mata bhoomih putroham prithivyaah," reminding us of our responsibility not only towards our motherland but also to Planet Earth. The mantra refers to earth differently as `bhoomi' and `prithvi' implying that while my motherland is my mother, i am also a child of Planet Earth.

The Yajur Veda addresses Prithvi as a guardian, praised for being benevolent to humankind, and is prayed to for continued protection: "O Earth! Fill up your broad heart with the vital healing air, waters and flora. May the benevolent life giving air circulate for a bountiful Earth." Another prayer says, "Pleasant be you to us, O Earth, without a thorn be our habitation. May your development grant us bliss and sustenance."

In hymns of the Rig Veda, seers seek blessings of the sun and wish every part of the earth to be prosperous and mountains, waters, and rivers to be propitious. The importance of vital healing air, fresh unpolluted waters and healthy flora on earth was recognised and wished for in the hymns of the Atharva Veda.

Nature and its seasons are governed by cosmic laws of integration and balance, called `Rit' in the vedas. Keeping an eye on Rit, human activities can be directed to global sustainable development. A hymn of the Yajur Veda says, "O learned people, fully realise your conduct towards different objects of the universe." But, in today's world we are misusing scientific and technological breakthroughs to indiscreetly and greedily exploit natural resources, thereby causing imbalances that make it difficult to maintain natural harmony.

Ancient Indic philosophy always wished for everyone to be happy and free from ailments, "Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niraamayaah" ­ Let everyone be well and happy ­ and pleaded for an all-inclusive holistic development on the planet for harmony, "Saa no bhoomirvardhayad vardhamaanaa" as in the `Bhumi Sukta' of Atharva Veda.

Written by Kamla Nath Sharma - First Published in

Saturday, 18 July 2015

There Is No Need To Believe In God

Interaction: Osho

How can one believe in a God one cannot see?
Who is telling you to believe in God? I am against all belief. Belief is irreligious, as much as disbelief is. Belief means you don't know yet you have accepted something. It is cowardly ­you have not inquired. You are pretending; you are a hypocrite. Believers don't know and yet they pretend as if they know. And the same is true about disbelief.

In the first place there is no need to believe in God. And if you believe you will never be able to know God. Belief is always a barrier. Belief means you are carrying a prejudice, and you will not be able to see that which is. You will project your own idea.

Don't carry any idea of God, for or against. Don't carry any image of God. In fact God is absolutely irrelevant ­ be meditative! And meditation means: drop all thoughts, ideologies; all knowledge. Drop the mind itself. And then when you are in a state of no mind, something unimaginable, unbelievable, unpredictable, inexpressible is experienced. You can call it godliness, truth, nirvana, or whatever you want to call it. You are free because no word describes it; hence any word is as good as any other. God is not a person, hence God cannot be seen in that sense. God is a presence.

There is no God but godliness. It is a quality, a fragrance. You experience it, you don't see it. It is not something out there as an object; it is something in here, in your heart. It is your subjectivity, your consciousness. So there is no question of belief or seeing either.

But people are brought up in all kinds of beliefs and they go on seeing through their prejudices. So anything that fits with their prejudices enters inside; anything that does not fit with their prejudice is prevented from entering.

In fact, God is not a religious but a philosophic subject. It is for those people who go on endlessly into logic-chopping and hair-splitting.

A religious person is more interested in the very source of his being, who he is: "Who am i?" That is the most fundamental religious question ­ not God, not heaven, not hell. And if you can find the truth of your own being you will have found all the truth that is necessary to know and is worth knowing. But don't make a philosophical inquiry; otherwise you will end up with a conclusion. And all conclusions are dangerous because once you conclude you become fanatical about your conclusion, you start clinging to it. You become afraid of truth ­ because who knows? Truth may disturb your conclusion, and your conclusion is so cosy and so convenient, and it has helped to give you a certain feeling of security. Your conclusion cannot be bigger than you. Your conclusion will be as high, as deep, as you are high and deep; it will only reflect you.

God is not a conclusion arrived at by logical processes ­ by believing, by discussing, by analysing, no. When all mind processes have ceased, something suddenly wells up within you. You will feel tremendously ecstatic, blissful, at home, at ease. For the first time existence will be your home. You will not be an outsider. There will be no conflict between you and existence. You will be able to bloom into thousands of flowers. That is God ­ or better, godliness.

From `Ah, This', copyright Osho International Foundation,

Saturday, 11 July 2015

We are Part Of A Living, Breathing Cosmos

Human consciousness has become so fragmented that most people have forgotten that what you consider to be your `body' is not just a piece of the planet, but much more.

Interdependence is not just a philosophical theory. It is a reality. Your physical existence is possible only because of your body's seamless ability to respond to the entire universe. Without this, you wouldn't be able to exist for a moment.

I lived on a farm for a few years. There was a man in the locality with a hearing impairment, an object of ridicule for the villagers. I employed him to help me on the farm. He was a nice companion because I wasn't particularly interested in talking, and he couldn't talk because he could not hear. So, no problem!

In those days before tractors, life on the farm was all about bullocks and ploughs. One day, suddenly, at four o'clock in the morning, I saw him preparing the plough and asked him what he was doing. He said, `It will rain today. I am preparing to plough.' I looked up. It was an absolutely clear sky. I said, `What? Where is the rain?' He said, `No, sir, it will rain.' And it did.

I sat up for days and nights after this. Why couldn't I feel what this man could feel? I sat, holding my hand in different positions, trying to feel the moisture, the temperature, trying to read the sky. I read all kinds of books on meteorology, but was up against a wall. But gradually, with careful observation of my own body and environment, I discovered the fundamental mistake that most of us make: the fact that we view the ingredients which constitute our body, like earth, water, air and food, as commodities and not as an organic part of the life process.

If it is to rain today, some change will happen in your body. Most urban-dwellers cannot feel it, but many rural folk all over the world, sense this. This is not astrology or magic, but a surmise based on the minute observation of a completely different level of the human system and its ongoing transaction with the cosmos. Most insects, birds and animals can feel it. A tree for sure knows it.
Modern physics has established that the universe is a great dance of energy, and every subatomic particle in your body is in constant dialogue with the entire cosmos. The aim of the spiritual process is to make this scientific fact an experiential reality for you.

Yoga reminds us that the physical body is just an accumulation of food ­ or what is called annamayakosha. The food that you eat is just the produce of the earth, which, in turn, is a fragment of the universe. You are a small outcrop of this planet, claiming to be an autonomous entity! But with some inner work, a dimensional shift occurs. Suddenly, the human body becomes what it was always intended to be ­an instrument of extraordinary refinement, a barometer, an antenna capable of downloading the entire cosmos. We realise that we inhabit a living cosmos

By Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev first published in

Saturday, 4 July 2015

From Relative To Absolute Consciousness

Consciousness, meaning awareness or knowledge, has two dimensions. The consciousness in normal human beings that `I am So-and-So' is a relative, objective, physical or psychological consciousness rooted in names and forms, cause and effect. Whereas absolute consciousness or pure, objectless, divine consciousness is beyond names and forms, cause and effect and is an essential attribute of the Self, Atman or Brahmn, referred to as `chit', in the phrase sat-chit-ananda.

Self is all-pervading and omnipresent. All that exists is referred to as the `sat' aspect of sat-chit-ananda. All existence can be grouped into two main entities living and non-living, sentient and inert, seer and seen, knower and known, subject and object. The Self in its `chit' aspect is vividly expressed in all living beings, particularly human beings, due to presence of mind and intellect and is dormant in non-living objects. Hence conscious beings perceive, think, analyse, discriminate and evolve whereas inert objects do not perceive and evolve ­ or, they evolve very slowly.

Relative consciousness has its merits and demerits. The obverse side is that we can perceive each and every object and being bearing a name and form and we can relate ourselves with them. It also helps express our apparent identity as body, mind, intellect (BMI) equipment bearing a particular name and identity and lead our earthly life with personal, professional and social objectives and values. The obverse side is that BMI equipment becomes a blockade in manifestation of our essential divine consciousness.

In ordinary human beings, world or physical consciousness covers God or divine consciousness like a moss covering the surface of pond water. When a spiritual aspirant follows the process of removing world consciousness ­ clearing the moss higher consciousness comes to the fore. However, when one stops the effort, world consciousness creeps in like moss on the water's surface. Spiritual process is therefore persistent and tenacious effort to gradually cease world consciousness and transform it into spiritual consciousness. What is the root cause and way out?

Avidya or ignorance of our true Self is the root cause. Avidya sprouts into ahankara, ego, that leads to raga, attachment; dvesha, likes and dislikes and abhinivesh, clinging to worldly objects. As long as these five kleshas or obstacles persist, relative consciousness and pairs of dualities like pain and pleasure persist and our true Self cannot manifest.

The irony is that this very relative consciousness helps us in reaching absolute consciousness that is not known to us as such. When antakaram or the BMI equipment is cleansed of its dirt and dross in the form of subtle impressions and tendencies and rendered still, by spiritual practices such as selfless service, devotion and meditation, the faculty of intuition is awakened, enabling the manifestation of absolute consciousness. Intuition is possible only because of interconnectedness and essential unity of all objects and beings. Intellect leads to psychological consciousness that is indirect, mediate and relative whereas intuition leads to spiritual consciousness that is direct, immediate and absolute.

Purusharthas, the three objects of human aspirations ­ dharma, artha and kama ­ are pursued when one is in a state of relative consciousness. The fourth and final aspiration of moksha, liberation, is attained when one transcends psychological consciousness and abides in spiritual consciousness. Relative consciousness is characterised by exclusivity where one beholds oneself as Dehbuddhi or BMI equipment or residing in it (jivbuddhi). Whereas absolute consciousness is characterised by inclusivity where one beholds all existence as one mass of consciousness and bliss.

By Jayant B Dave - First Published on

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Universe As Divine Play Of Diversity and Duality

Abhinavagupta tells us in his Tantraloka that "Moksha only exists when your being becomes absolutely independent." According to him, a yogi can only be said to be liberated when he possesses this absolute independence; nothing must limit him or overshadow his universal consciousness. This process begins when the yogi is experiencing the state of internal mystical awareness, relishing the fullness of his internal God consciousness. At that moment he is pulled out of the internal world into the world of external experience. His eyes open.

The yogi may experience a chair or a tree, but the experience is filled with universal God consciousness. Everywhere he looks, whatever he sees is filled with universal God consciousness.

Then again, his eyes close and he is drawn inside. And again, after a few moments, his eyes open and he is drawn outside experiencing the world filled with the oneness of God. He cannot stop this process. This is the process known as karma mudra …

This yogi experiences the fusing of his inner and outer worlds; his universal I consciousness, is diluted in consciousness of the external world. Here, the fullness of I-consciousness absorbs "this-ness", external objectivity, and produces the oneness of samadhi or internal mystical trance and vyutthana or external experience. The nature of this yogi and the external world become one, and the yogi experiences them as being completely united, one with the other. There is absolutely no difference between them.

The process of karma mudra results in absolute oneness, the state of absolute independence. The yogi, in this state, experiences that the internal world of mystical trance and the external world are absolutely the same. This independence and absolute oneness gives rise to the state of jagadananda or universal bliss.

To explain the state of jagadananda, Abhinavagupta says, "My master Sambhunatha described jagadananda as the state that is completely unencumbered, where ananda, bliss, is found shining, where it is universally strengthened by the supreme I-consciousness of God, and where the six limbs of yoga-bhavana, dharana, dhyana, pratyahara, yoga, and samadhi-are no longer used or required."

The one whose being has become absolutely independent and who possesses the state of jagadananda, is said to be a jivan mukta, one who is liberated while living. In his Bodhapancadasika, Abhinavagupta tells us that when the aspirant attains real knowledge of reality, which is the existent state of Shiva, that is final liberation. Real knowledge exists when the aspirant comes to understand that this whole objective universe of diversity and duality is just a magic trick, the play of Shiva.
That does not mean, however, that it is a trick that creates an unreal world. For the Shaiva, this objective world, being Shiva's creation, is just as real as Shiva. The trick lies in the fact that, by Shiva's play, he causes the limited individual to experience this world of diversity as the only reality. Real knowledge exists when the aspirant becomes one with universal God consciousness, which is the same as attaining perfect Self-knowledge. He knows that the world of differentiation is not actually different from Shiva, the Supreme Reality.

The cycles of bondage and liberation are both one with Lord Shiva. It is only a trick that we think that some souls are bound in ignorance while others are elevated. It is only Shiva's play that we think that this covering of diversity actually exists as a separate reality. There is not a second being or reality. His trick, therefore, is our trick, because we are Shiva. We have concealed ourselves in order to find ourselves. This is his play; also our play. (Vijnana Bhairava)

By Swami Lakshmanjoo first published on

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Is Consciousness Impersonating Us?

Scientists have for the first time separated a particle from one of its physical properties, thereby creating a `quantum Cheshire Cat'. The phenomenon is named after the curious feline in `Alice in Wonderland', who vanishes, leaving only its grin behind.

Researchers took a beam of neutrons and separated them from their magnetic moment, like passengers and their baggage getting separated at airport security.

The researchers used an experimental set-up known as an interferometer, at the Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France. A neutron beam was passed through a silicon crystal, sending it down two different paths.

By applying filters and a technique known as "post-selection", they were able to detect the physical separation of neutrons from their magnetic moment ­ as measured by the direction of their spin. "The system behaves as if the neutrons go through one beam path, while their magnetic moment travels along the other," researchers reported.

This raises serious issues about the `measurement paradox'. On the one hand we have the Lockean `realist' account, according to which perception involves the creation of an `inner reflection' of an independently existing external reality , and, on the other hand, a Kantean `anti-realist' concept of the `veil of perception'.

Separation of matter and its characteristics, attributes or qualities will be an important landmark in our understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness.

Consciousness is traditionally attributed to an emergent quality of neural networks. It is quite intriguing to note that even a single celled creature like the amoeba is conscious and takes appropriate measures to feed and avoid any hostile milieu.

Does consciousness operate necessarily through mediation by a biological matrix?

Could it be all-pervading like a magnetic field with the organic or biological substrate serving as merely a receiver and or processor?

Could consciousness be merely a form of energy that manifests in different forms by modulating its frequency and amplitude?

Can perception be merely a play of consciousness, a phenomenon that simultaneously projects and comprehends the external world as a holographic reality?

The separation and distinction of the objective world is because of external appearances. If the elementary fundamental constituent is the ubiquitous atom, then the perceived difference of the external form may just be a programme of the subject's perception. Rather than different partition. Rather than different particles carrying the information of matter and its qualities, it could be that different loci in the brain might be activated to perceive matter and its qualities simultaneously.

Monists like Spinoza adhere to the position that there is some neutral substance, of which both matter and mind are properties. The Advaita or non duality school of thought, too, believes in a non-numerical, holistic, all-pervading unity that simultaneously manifests as both the subject and the object.

The object and therefore all its qualities and attributes might just be a projection of a self-referencing subject that generates an apparition of separation as well as perception.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Taming Our Monkey Mind

Our mind, on average, has over 50,000 thoughts in a day ­ even while busy with a certain task, it is forever racing ahead with numerous other thoughts ­ of potential rewards, missed opportunities, future actions and so on. Besides, for many of us, a large proportion of these thoughts have a negative slant ­ thoughts like, "I wish i were healthier; I dislike myself for being so socially awkward; I doubt if i will ever be successful; My spouse or colleagues don't really value me; What if i don't get promoted or lose my job? I wish my children were smarter or respected me more; If only i had taken that step", are all too commonplace.

This mental chatter is no passing cloud, but a permanent `noise' in the background. Driven by our karmic imprint and our life experiences, particularly during the impressionable childhood years, the monkey mind is a result of our deep inner insecurity about our physical life form and a constant endeavour to somehow control our destiny .

While some of this noise goads us towards personal and social development, much of it is dysfunctional. It restricts us from fully enjoying the present, resulting in lower effectiveness and a diluted sense of fulfilment. The negative undertones of many of our thoughts generate heightened emotions of fear, anxiety, anger or envy, making us restless, confused and impulsive.

Here are five ideas for taming the monkey mind.

First, eliminate comparisons. We routinely judge ourselves in comparison to others.Since there's always someone who's richer, more beautiful or more knowledgeable than us, it accentuates our inner insecurity. For a quieter mind, we need to get comfortable living by our personal values and inner yardsticks of evaluation rather than any external comparisons ­ build high self-respect and recognise that only when we respect ourselves do we earn others' respect.

Second, be more grateful. In our achievement-orientated society , we get easily caught up in wanting more of everything in life, making us discontented with whatever we have. We experience a sense of lack because we are constantly thinking about what we don't have rather than be grateful for all that we do. Focussing on the numerous gifts we are blessed with strengthens our sense of inner security.

Third, realise our wholeness. At a deeper level, slowing down the restless mind involves realising how whole and complete we already are, even if our mental models, steeped in the physical and material world, make us believe otherwise. We can break a glass container into as many pieces as we want, but the innate nature of each of those pieces remains the same. Each of us is one of those pieces of the perfect universe.

Fourth, trust the universe. We need to let go of our incessant desire to control all our outcomes ­ this requires trusting the universe and its flawless evolution. The sun rises and sets, the clouds turn into rain, and plants are born ­ some to become trees and others to die early as they need to. Trusting the universe and accepting that whatever happens, happens for our highest good, slows down our thought-patterns and helps us experience greater peace.

Fifth, practise mindfulness. Mindfulness entails trusting the present moment to be as precious as any other and valuing where we are, and whatever we are engaged with in the moment, over anywhere else that our mind makes us feel we could or rather be. Practising mindfulness stills the mind, deepens our clarity and calms our anxieties ­ thereby enhancing confidence and reducing the number of our thoughts.

By Rajiv Vij first published in

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Architecture of Fear

Why do we buy things we really don't need? Why do we seek control over things and people? Why do we seek predictability in business? Why do we love brands? If wish to answer this 'why' we have to move into the realm of psychology and understand the origins of fear. The more acceptable for fear in the corporate world is 'stress'.

Every Hindu god and goddess raises his or her palm in a gesture which means 'do not be afraid' (a-bhaya), indicating that ancients knew the role of fear in day-to-day life. If there was no fear (bhaya), there would be no hunger or desire (bhook), hence no desire to consume (bhoga). Our desire to consume results in a heavy toll on resources (bali) for which we have to pay a price (karma). Thus fear is the seed of all issues we face in the business world from demand to supply, from transparency to governance. It is fear that shapes our relationship with consumers, auditors, authorities, bosses, processes. Yet, this is not part of business school curriculum. Perhaps because we are over reliant on human reason and forget that humans are essentially not reasonable but rather insecure and frightened. The word fear does not go well with the corporate image of a valorous confident warrior, dressed in a smart black suit, tablet in hand.

Stress or fear can be traced to the first life form (sajiva). Unlike inanimate objects (ajiva) it was determined to survive, fight for its life, avoid death, by seeking nutrition from the earth around. As more life forms emerged, everyone competed for food. Mutation took place and diversity emerged to improve chances of survival. The greatest mutation was the split between life-forms that move (chara) and life-forms that do not move (achara), meaning animals and plants. A plant grows towards food, but it cannot run from predators that feed on it. An animal can run towards food and away from predators. In animals we see the fear inherent in the food chain: the fear of the prey of being hunted and the fear of the predator of starvation. The other fear that is superimposed is that of the pecking order: who will be alpha and hence get access to most food and most mates. The one at the bottom of the pyramid is at a disadvantage, especially the male, who gets least food and probably no mate. Can this be the reason for the aggression seen in men? But humans are the most unique life-form. We have a mind that can imagine (manas) and so we imagine who we are and wonder if others imagine ourselves the same way. This creates anxiety, fear of invalidation. We seek status and justification and most importantly meaning (artha). We seek nourishment for our self-image, and constantly protecting this self-image from rivals and predators. This constitutes our architecture of fear.

It is significant that the word artha-shastra simultaneously means economics (do we generate and distribute enough wealth, income, revenue?), politics (do we get enough power to compete, catch prey, shun predators?), and philosophy (do we know who we really are? do we live meaningful lives?). This was a holistic approach to business and management, restricted not just to making ourselves efficient money-making businesses but locating business in society, and even the cosmos. This is missing in students one finds emerging from the best universities in the world. They are skilled warriors but clueless what are they fighting for. And this cluelessness results in strange, even dangerous behaviour.

Let us take three examples of behaviour found in the corporate world to demonstrate the key role of the fear-seed in business activities:

• Consumers and vendors constantly seek deals and discounts. It makes them feel powerful. Shopping becomes retail therapy, a chance to feel significant in a world that does not care for you. Service providers realise the value of making a customer feeling valuable. Fear is intensified by creating hierarchies amongst customers: you are level 1 customer, level 2 customer or level 3 customer. Depending on the hierarchy you get a different level of service. Your waiting time is less, if you are more loyal.

• A senior manager finds himself, or herself, being continuously judged. The auditors judge the processes he follows. The bosses judge his performance. He is constantly told what he has not achieved and how he is not adequately aligned. He discovers his compensation is never good enough, always lesser than his rivals, and this poor compensation is always rationalised and justified during appraisal time. He is repeatedly told, in quarter after quarter, he has to be better, run faster. He has to stay the ever-hungry predator who is never allowed to rest and play to satisfy the insatiable hunger of the anonymous institutional shareholder.

• A very successful investment banker wonders if people he meets knows how smart. So he buys the best car, the best house, throws the best parties, goes on the finest holidays, brags how he just works for an hour a day, or maybe an hour a week, constantly positioning his brilliance, and even doing charity, because he wants to succeed even in social responsibility. Finally, he starts seeing value in possessing a bathtub made of gold. Or gets a kick in getting freebees like celebrities.

A knowledge of fear is critical in management if one accepts that humans are animals with imagination, who cannot be domesticated using reason. Desire, greed, ambition, control, success, compliance all impact the everyone's architecture of fear. We look at institutions to raise their palm and display the symbol of a-bhaya. Instead their massive size, steel and glass coldness, impersonal business processes, swipe cards and closed circuit TVs only amplify the bhaya.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

20 Things to Start doing in your Relationships

Family isn't always blood.  They're the people in your life who appreciate having you in theirs – the ones who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways, and who not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be.  These people – your real family – are the ones who truly matter.

Here are twenty tips to help you find and foster these special relationships.

Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.  Relationships should help you, not hurt you.  Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  When you free yourself from negative people, you free yourself to be YOU – and being YOU is the only way to truly live.

The sad truth is that there are some people who will only be there for you as long as you have something they need.  When you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will leave.  The good news is, if you tough it out, you'll eventually weed these people out of your life and be left with some great people you can count on.  We rarely lose friends and lovers, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are.  So when people walk away from you, let them go.   Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you.  It doesn't mean they are bad people; it just means that their part in your story is over.

When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story.  Everyone hasgone through something that has changed them, and forced them to grow.  Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.  We meet no ordinary people in our lives.  If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer.  So appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work.  Trust your judgment.  Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory.  Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.

Treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.  There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected.  Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your baby brother.  People will notice your kindness.

In most cases it's impossible to change them anyway, and it's rude to try.  So save yourself from needless stress.  Instead of trying to change others, give them your support and lead by example.

Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places.  So be happy for those who are making progress.  Cheer for their victories.  Be thankful for their blessings, openly.  What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you're cheering for will start cheering for you.

In this crazy world that's trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.  Be your imperfectly perfect self around them.  We are not perfect for everyone, we are only perfect for those select few people that really take the time to get to know us and love us for who we really are.  And to those select few, being our imperfectly perfect self is what they love about us.

Don't live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, "What you did to me is okay."  It is saying, "I'm not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever."  Forgiveness is the remedy.  It doesn't mean you're erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you're letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.  Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you'll have to love the people who love you.

Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.  You can't be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people.  Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty.

As we grow up, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.  Remember, life is kind of like a party.  You invite a lot of people, some leave early, some stay all night, some laugh with you, some laugh at you, and some show up really late.  But in the end, after the fun, there are a few who stay to help you clean up the mess.  And most of the time, they aren't even the ones who made the mess.  These people are your real friends in life.  They are the ones who matter most.

True love and real friendship aren't about being inseparable. These relationships are about two people being true to each other even when they are separated.  When it comes to relationships, remaining faithful is never an option, but a priority.  Loyalty is everything.

In human relationships distance is not measured in miles, but in affection.  Two people can be right next to each other, yet miles apart.  So don't ignore someone you care about, because lack of concern hurts more than angry words.  Stay in touch with those who matter to you.  Not because it's convenient, but because they're worth the extra effort.  Remember, you don't need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.  Paying attention to these people is a priority.

If you say you're going to do something, DO IT!  If you say you're going to be somewhere, BE THERE!  If you say you feel something, MEAN IT!  If you can't, won't, and don't, then DON'T LIE.  It's always better to tell people the truth up front.  Don't play games with people's heads and hearts.  Don't tell half-truths and expect people to trust you when the full truth comes out; half-truths are no better than lies.  Remember, love and friendship don't hurt.  Lying, cheating and screwing with people's feelings and emotions hurts.  Never mess with someone's feelings just because you're unsure of yours.  Always be open and honest.

Don't expect what you are not willing to give.  Start practicing the golden rule.  If you want love, give love.  If you want friends, be friendly.  If you want money, provide value.  It works.  It really is this simple.

Give the people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable.  Information is the grease that keeps the engine of communication functioning.  Start communicating clearly.  Don't try to read other people's minds, and don't make other people try to read yours.  Most problems, big and small, within a family, friendship, or business relationships, start with bad communication.

Do not judge others by your own past.  They are living a different life than you are.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person's life for the better.  Allow people to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.

Less advice is often the best advice.  People don't need lots of advice, they need a listening ear and some positive reinforcement.  What they want to know is often already somewhere inside of them.  They just need time to think, be and breathe, and continue to explore the undirected journeys that will eventually help them find their direction.

Someone else doesn't have to be wrong for you to be right.  There are many roads to what's right.  And most of the time it just doesn't matter that much.

No one has the right to judge you.  They might have heard your stories, but they didn't feel what you were going through.  No matter what you do, there will always be someone who thinks differently.  So concentrate on doing what you know in your heart is right.  What most people think and say about you isn't all that important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.

One of the most painful things in life is losing yourself in the process of loving others too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  When was the last time someone told you that they loved you just the way you are, and that what you think and how you feel matters?  When was the last time someone told you that you did a good job, or took you someplace, simply because they know you feel happy when you're there?  When was the last time that 'someone' was YOU?


Sunday, 10 May 2015

I Am That - Advaita's Pointing Illustrated

The Five Prerequisites
The first prerequisite:
Shut up.
Be quiet.
Stop debating.
Stop arguing.
Stop trying to prove a point.
Even if someone knows something that you don’t, whether they share it with you or not, makes no difference, for you have to come up with your own truth.
There’s really no one in this universe that can hand you realization on a silver platter.
The second prerequisite: You have to let go.
You have to let go so completely that it becomes scary.
You have to totally let go mentally.
You have to stop depending on person, place or thing for your self-worth.
You have to start depending on the infinite invisible, on what you cannot see, taste, touch, or smell or feel.
The third prerequisite: You must look at the world but never react to anything.
You must watch your feelings and your emotions, observe them, and as they come into contact with you, you must become the witness, realizing that you are not those emotions.
You are not your bad temper.
You are not the depression.
You are nothing that goes on in this world.
The fourth prerequisite: You must develop a tremendous humility, a stupendous humility.
This is more important than anything else.
If someone tells you something that you don’t like to hear you do not become upset.
You do not hold it in.
You let it go through you and it dissipates, for it has no energy except the energy you give it.
You are responsible to yourself.
If you fool yourself you’re just going to get disgusted in the end and give up all spiritual life, for you’ll say you’ve gotten nowhere, nothing has happened, it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t exist.
I suppose this is the reason I am with you.
To tell you,
“Yes, there is an invisible realm of perfection beyond this world, interpenetrating this world, that makes this world look like kindergarten”.
Yet you must be able to see it yourself.
The fifth prerequisite: You have to want it so much that you don’t want it.
You have to have such a strong desire to be free that all desire stops.
When all desire stops there is a quietness, a stillness, that takes place within you.
It is only when this stillness, this quietness, comes when you’re able to see clearly, not with your physical eyes, but with your spiritual eye, not with your little ‘I’, not with the ‘I-thought’, but with the ‘I-am’.
And you will see in all directions.
You will see up, you will see down, you will see sideways, you will see backwards.
The only thing you will see is total perfection which is another name for pure awareness.
You have to take this thing seriously and you’re not to be serious about this thing at all.
You have to reject everything yet you also have to accept everything.
You have to surrender and you have to realize that you are the Self.
There is something inside of you that knows how to do all this.
You can help by becoming quiet, by becoming still, by not making a lot of noise, not making a big commotion.
Let the world do what it will, yet you become silent and peaceful, compassionate, have humility.
Just watch, look, observe, quiet the mind.

~ Robert Adams

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