Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year steps

There is a saying that "God created the tail of the goat according to its capacity" i.e. Only that kind of problem will come which is within your capacity to handle. So, when faced with difficult times, don't panic. Be Like water that overcomes all obstacles and moves on.

See your problem as small compared to others'. When a problem appears small, you are able to solve it.
Remember other people face harder times than what you are facing.

Serve others who have bigger problems. Don't prolong a problem by thinking about it all the time.

Become a part the solution. Look back and see that past problems had vanished. Invoke the valour in you and keep your mind peaceful in all situations. Everything else will be taken care of.

You are forgetting a strength in you ­ Prayer and power of your Sankalpa (positive intention). Prayer is feeling the helplessness and asking for God`s help, because the Divine belongs to the weak. That's why He is called Deenabandhuthe friend, relative and redeemer of the weak, meek, powerless and helpless.

Remember that nature loves you, God loves you; there is always an unseen hand working for you in difficult times. Have faith that whenever you are in trouble, you will always be helped.

When a farmer sifts his grain through a broad sieve, all the grains fall down to the ground while the mere husk simply flies away in the air. Similarly, if your faith is shaken quickly or often, then you are akin to the flying husk lost and anchorless. But if your love, faith, and belief are deep-rooted, then things will move on their own.

Bad times will come and go. If a room is dark for 20 years, it doesn't take another 20 years to bring light in. It just needs one connection, one switch on and the whole darkness goes away.

Establish this knowledge, "I am blessed, I can overcome" firmly in life, and surrender to the Divine. It can help you surmount any obstacle.

Try to take these steps in New Year and you will see that things are getting better and  life has suddenly became so wonderful.... HAVE A BLASTING NEW YEAR 2011 TO ALL OF YOU.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The light of good, wisdom and life

On a cold winter night, as was the custom with the little child who cuddled up next to me before sleep, my son asked me to tell him a story.

He knew of stories of the forest lions roaring, of horses racing fast in the plains, of cars moving fast in the narrow lanes, of planes flying high in the skies and whistling trains.

He wanted to know the story of Light. Many questions came into my mind but I had no answers.

Who gave light its speed and where is it going in that speed? We know of only one giant burning ball called the Sun. But who controls its switch? My son asked. I told him that, when he grows big, he will know that God is seen as Light. He will know that Light stands for knowledge, wisdom, all that is good in life, in fact life itself.

And then I paused for a while to tell him to imagine his life without light. He cannot play outside, can't go to school to sing songs, can't see his friends and can't do anything. I told him that GOD says that our eyes are the Light of the body. He says that He is the Light of the world. Light means to look bright, shine without dirt and if dirt comes, then light should shine more than dirt.

The night comes to a close and we feel happy to see the morning and the Light that comes with it. Then , he asked me but who created the Light. The divine mystery was too much for me to understand let alone explain to the Child on the Creator's games. I could see that the Child was about to enter into that innocent sleep. I paused to get an answer. In all the myriad activities of daily routines which blind us to live in darkness, it took a child to awaken the new Light that beckons us to think of the Light that controls us, before we fall asleep.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The argument guide

No relationship is smooth sailing. As much as the love exists, arguments, however petty, are bound to crop up occasionally. What's important, however, is how you deal with them — let them simmer and boil out of control or nip them in the bud. If you've had an argument with your loved one, here's how to get things back on track.

Let it go:
Once the argument has died down, keep out of each other's way for a while. Don't make snap decisions or prolong the argument.

Keep it frost-free
It can be very tempting to want to freeze the other out by staying out of his/her way for as long as possible. But remember, the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to start talking again.

Calm down
Shouting and screaming will not help. Not only will it give you a sore throat, but you're also more likely to say things you don't mean. So, stay calm.

The blame game
There are two sides to every argument. Trying to lay the blame on one person before the matter has been fully discussed is pointless and can lead to more resentment.

Don't get violent
If you think there's a chance that you or your partner are going to become violent during an argument, move out of there straight away.

Walk away
If your point isn't getting through, call a halt to the argument and give yourself some time to think over what to do next.

Take a break
If you feel your relationship is mostly made up of arguments and this is bringing you down, take a break from the relationship if that's possible. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.

Way to well-being

Every human being is interested in well-being; it is just that the scale with which people are looking at life may be different. For one person, well-being may mean just his personal well-being, for another it may mean him and his family and for somebody else it may be the whole world.

One feels well when one is happy. Even if you happen to be medically ill, if you are happy, in your experience you are still well. So, well-being essentially means a certain level of pleasantness within you. If you become pleasant in your body, we call this health; if you become very pleasant we call it pleasure. If you become pleasant in your mind, we call this peace; if you become very pleasant, we call this joy. If you become pleasant in your emotion, we call this love. If you become pleasant in your life energies, we call this bliss; if you become very pleasant we call this ecstasy. When it comes to outside pleasantness, it depends on many people and nobody can achieve this 100%; outside situations are always variable. But with the inside situation there is only one ingredient and that's you. At least within you what you want must happen. In your body, mind, emotion and life energies, if who you are is happening the way you want, you would keep yourself utterly pleasant and blissful every moment of your life. To bring about this pleasantness within you is most important because it is only when you are feeling truly blissful and absolutely pleasant within yourself that your body and mind function at their highest potential.

Your success on this planet essentially depends on your ability to use your physical body and your mind to their full potential. If your work or what you are doing is important, the first and foremost thing is, you must work upon yourself because that is the basis of everything that we do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good living norms

On fine morning as I was awaiting the thud of the newspaper, I closed my eyes and wondered at the marvel of engineering that went into the creation of species called humans.

I mused, a fool makes a simple thing complex troubling himself and others. But a genius tries to simplify a complex matter, thereby giving a positive response to a negative situation.

Life is becoming complicated and there is a lot of struggle for existence. The routine is strenuous, at times unbearable. Yet, living has to be simple, fulfilling and wholesome.

There are ways to it.

Anchoring to one's roots is essential to return to a life without hassles. A person has to have a life philosophy.

Full faith in one's deity and patience are called for. Genial family with teamwork spirit and fairness is another source of support.

Life has to be steady and not just for partying and fast club life. If we be good and do good, we look beautiful and become a pleasure to deal with. Nourishing the soul's attributes of charm, cheer and charity result in miracles.

Life is about nurturing enduring friendship for reliance and smooth sailing.
Alertness is needed for one's wellness that includes physical, mental and emotional health. The health component makes sure that you don't look your age.

Time consciousness is significant as time lost cannot be regained. At home or at work, doing something or the other all the while goes to one's credit. A busy person is a happy person and there is no room for negativity to creep in. Angularities get rounded off that ensures longevity.

“Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace“ (Bhagvad Gita 12.12). Inner and outer peace leads to prosperity.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Conversation with God

We are the luckiest. We have the biggest fortune to have been born as human beings. We have a way to commune with God. Animals cannot worship, meditate or commune with Him. Humans are endowed with all special divine qualities as love, faith, devotion and prayer. The only problem is that these qualities and the all-powerful soul are covered by veils of delusion.

The second fortune is to have a Master or guru; he, as an embodiment of God, shows us our true self, teaches us to meditate and how to commune with the Lord. If we are devoted and faithful and allow ourselves to be guided by the guru, we experience a sea change in us. He teaches us with love how to converse with our biggest friend---the Lord. We can engage ourselves in endless conversations with Him, pour our hearts out to Him; He is a patient listener and a loving one, too. He is so near us, within each cell of our body, mind and soul, He resides within the inner depths of our being and so easy to talk to.

God is so close to us, nearer than our own heartbeat, closer than anyone else in this world. When our thoughts are stilled, we are calm and peaceful, when the rigmarole of life refuses to affect us; God listens to all our prayers; whatever we say is portrayed easily and clearly to Him.

Just as the reflection of the moon is clear in still waters, whereas its image is distorted in disturbed water; similarly when we have a barrage of thoughts and endless worries in our minds, then our contact with God is faulty and broken. To renew the link with which we have been born, to re-establish our rapport with loving God, all we have to do is purely love Him. When we love only Him with all our heart and soul, He cannot stand the separation with us and He comes with His entire kingdom!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The war within

Antahkarana is a broad term used in Vedanta and includes manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta (subconscious mind), and ahamkara (egoism). Manas is that aspect of the mind which is constantly in doubt. For example, the thought whether one should buy a car or not etc.

Intellect is the faculty that sheds doubt and takes a firm decision. Chitta is the aspect of the mind which concentrates and enquires into the nature of things. The function of memory belongs to chitta.

Ahamkara is the self-arrogating principle that performs the function of abhimana or egoism. It creates mamata or mine-ness and is the root cause of all suffering.

Mind is under constant sway of three gunas or qualities of prakriti, viz. sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva represents purity or light; rajas is passion or activity; while tamas is inertia or darkness.

Preponderance of rajas results in constant kshipta or wandering of the mind that becomes a slave of various sensual objects. When the mind is filled with tamas, it abides in ignorance and becomes forgetful. Deep sleep supervenes on account of excess of tamas.

If sattva dominates the mind, thoughts of God, brahm-vichara (enquiry into truth), etc. will manifest. The seeker enters into a meditative mood spontaneously.

Significantly, sattva is always mixed with rajas and tamas and does not exist in isolation. It is important for the seeker to increase the sattvic modifications (like forgiveness, love, mercy etc.) so that he could experience joy, purity, and, ultimately, enlightenment. This can be accomplished by heating the mind in the fire of vairagya (dispassion) and atmavichara(Self-enquiry).

There is a constant internal fight among the three gunas; between good vrittis(mental modifications) and evil vrittis. This is the warfare between suras(gods) and asuras (demons)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Go beyond self

The world seems to be possessed by lust. The urge to acquire much more than what one can bite seems to have influenced us all. The farther one runs to amass material resources, the farther and more alluring they get. Recall the recent news on the plight of a poor lady, who was rushed from one hospital to another by her helpless husband, for immediate dialysis that she needed, but was turned away from every door. Our cities, today, are flooded with multi-speciality hospitals but are meant only for the rich.

But, what about charity?
The government has tried to implement the norm which says that each such institution should have beds to accommodate people who belong to below poverty line.

This helps me get connected to the concept of `Daswand', started by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th guru of the Sikhs. It says every person, in proportion to his economic status, should donate or keep aside one tenth of his earnings for philanthropic purposes. I heard about it from my grand mother and later saw my parents follow it. And now, when I have the opportunity, I have been trying to continue with it. And yet I have never faced dearth of any material resources.

Another example from the Sikh history that inspires us to believe in charity is that of Bhai Kanhaiya, who was blessed with the idea of neutral service to the mankind.
During the battle days, he would carry water and bandages to the battle ground and would equally treat the warriors from either side and serve them with love. His answer for the neutral concern was that he saw the glimpse of God in each wounded person whether a Hindu, Sikh or a Muslim.

Such ideology nourishes our soul and brings us closer to the Almighty. Let us implement such philosophy and see the blessings pour in and change the course of life.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sleep over the stress

There are few things in life that can't wait till tomorrow. Don't react immediately to a problem, sleep on it

I was very stressed out over something the other day. Much more stressed than I normally allow myself to get. There came a point, towards the end of a remarkably trying day that I conclusively felt that something I'd been working hard to achieve, was, in fact, quite worthless.

It's in that state of mind that I walked into Pappu Singh's dhaba.

As any of you who's been following this column knows, Pappu Singh is great at giving practical gyan. But surprisingly on that day, as I vented and vented about how unreasonable the situation I found myself in was, Pappu Singh silently kept doing his work without uttering a word. When I finally got ready to pay for my food and leave, he said, `Sir, one advice. Don't talk about your problems, just go home and sleep.'

I gave him a fake smile and left.

After all, how could I have expected someone like him, whose life involved frying pakoras the whole day, to understand the complexities of professional life. Of course he wouldn't know how we've always been taught that talking about a problem really helps in offloading the burden and making one feel lighter inside. Or so I thought.

When I got back home, I found a couple of friends waiting for me. One of them, a filmmaker, had been having a lot of trouble managing his crew and dealing with the tantrums of his producer. Thus began a whole new session of venting... all over again. By the end of `sharing' my troubles and listening to those of the others, over and over, I realised I was not feeling any lighter. On the contrary, it felt at that moment as if everything was wrong in our universe. The evening ended with us heaving a a collective sigh of grief for our respective troubles, and my friend saying, `let's not talk about these things anymore, we should just go home and sleep.'

The words sounded familiar.

That's exactly what Pappu Singh had said, but two hours and ten thousands expressions of stress earlier.

The point of narrating all this is simple. I, like you, have always believed that talking about our problems is healthy as it does not let negativity accumulate inside you. But sometimes, in fact many a times, repeatedly talking about things that are going wrong, especially with people who can't really do anything to help ease matters, only adds to the stress.

Another things that aggravates the feeling of stress, bigtime, is our tendency to look for immediate resolution of our problems.

We are hurt, we want to retort or take some action... right there and then. But does reacting to a negative situation at a time when stress has already overcome your ability to think rationally, help? No, it does not.

If you think carefully, you'll realise that most reactions and decisions taken in the heat of the moment, when you are anyway in an upset frame of mind, make you feel `not quite right', later.

The calmness trick?

Do what Pappu Singh said, stop talking about it, just go off to sleep. I can almost guarantee that if you are able to put the break of a peaceful night's sleep between your chain of thoughts, chances are, you'll awaken to a brighter and positive outlook in the morning, much better than how you felt in tense state of mind the evening before.

A lot of my friends who are married or in a relationship take pride in saying that they `never sleep on a fight.' `Whatever the fight or argument is about, I insist that we stay up and resolve, before we hit the bed,' says a friend. I'm not quite sure if that works for everyone. Most couples fight over matters that arise due to inherent differences in their personalities. Accepting those differences and going off to sleep quietly at the time when no solution is likely to come out of constant bickering, is also not a bad idea. The morning may bring renewed energy to understand your partner's point or situation. Nothing good comes out of flogging a tired mind anyway.

When it comes to taking important decisions in life, time and subconscious are important tools that we mostly ignore, while they are great healers and problem solvers.

Make it a rule in life -when it's late, and you are tired, confused and stressed, don't talk.

Simply go to bed. If a decision can wait till tomorrow, sleeping on it works like magic. Try it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The beauty within

Inner beauty is what matters in life. We all want it but do nothing about it. I had a few hours of thinking over inner beauty recently as I got to read a booklet on the subject.

Titled Inner Beauty, the book tells one how to rekindle one's beauty inherent in one's consciousness. Thirty qualities that could make inner beauty have been listed.
Courage, patience, serenity, contentment, cheerfulness, determination, gentleness, flexibility, humility, mercy, purity of mind and heart, simplicity, truthfulness and wisdom are some of the elements listed.

Of all these, what impressed me most was a chapter on introversion. It starts with a statement that it is the meeting point between beauty and plainness. It is when on the outside there is only love and warmth, but inside there is wisdom and perception. Outside, there are relationships with a few, but inside a relationship with the world. Similarly, outside, there is concern for the present, but inside there is awareness for the future. In other words, introversion is like the door which divides the inside from the outside.

Introversion is also total involvement with whatever one does for the good of others. It is participation in a manner that leads to progress and happiness in one's and others' lives. It is speaking with love and peace, walking with humility and showering of pure love.

Introversion begins when one, instead of staying within, chooses to venture out and see what and how one can do for the good of others.

Introversion is the point when the `night' ends and all “windows and doors are flung open“. And it is the time when privacy and individuality are thrown to the wind. It is a unique period of sharing and growing and enjoying together. A time when the virtue that introversion has protected will be poured into a common source of joy and heralds the path to heaven.

The way to meditate

Meditation aims at achieving calmness, peace and silence through a conscious psychophysical process. The process as well as the outcome takes us to the root of our existence, the essence of which is consciousness and unblemished bliss.
It is an advanced yogic method of self-realisation and it takes one through a progressive path to ultimate attainment. At each step, we undergo revelation. It involves cultivation of calmness, concentration, serenity and increasing awareness of self and surroundings beyond the din and bustle of worldly disturbances and turmoil.

Meditation adds meaning and significance to life and fights stress, but very few bother to practice it. The reasons are not very far to seek.

First, it requires strong willpower and an inner urge to meditate. Laziness and lack of determination keep us away from it. We are required to give it the requisite priority and adopt the habit of starting it now. If we postpone it for tomorrow, that tomorrow may never come. Secondly, it calls for faith or intuitive awareness of the presence of eternal cosmic principles or super power which fulfills our sincere efforts. If the same is missing one has to introspect and analyse the purpose of human life and existence. When the mind is silenced the intuition speaks and inner voice whispers. Egotism and intellectual arrogance prohibit peace and silence.

It takes time to gain any good thing in life. Hence patience is a must. We should not crave for instant result.

A beginner is always baffled as to how to start meditation. Right action and virtuous living prepares the foundation. But some practice must follow. One way is to sit comfortably in relaxed position with spine erect and breathe in and breathe out.

This develops concentration and preparation for watching the mind. When mind becomes one-pointed after continuous watch, it is withdrawn from the five senses and fixed on silence. When the body-mind complex is totally silenced with practice and divine wisdom inner peace and silence emerge from within.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Insure the inner-self

We always insure our cars, our homes and our health by taking up policies and paying regular premiums.

But when we come across an accident that stirs, shakes and hurts us deeper than what do we have to fall back upon?

Yesterday, a friend met me completely shaken by the loss of a young nephew, and pained by the trauma that the parents must be undergoing.
The child had succumbed to a viral suddenly turning into a fatal pneumonia, while the father was out of station, travelling for work.

Even though I tried to console her, I found myself a bit jittery. The situation doesn`t seem very alien, except for the final disaster. We all are used to our kids coming back home with sudden virals, breathless, needing emergency treatments.

Life can hit us anytime, anywhere. There is no bigger fear in life than for your kids who define your whole meaning to be, your physical mental and spiritual existence.

We tell our kids that people go to God`s home when they die and that we should try to be good , do good, that there is God, the supreme soul who is watching us. But do we really believe in it. As grownups, we have accumulated skills, wealth, gadgets and friends to last us perhaps more than one lifetime, but we never empowered ourselves for the most unexpected, devastating yet inevitable event. We never stopped and even tried to develop deeper until we were really faced and had to forcibly deal with it.

It is also crucial for us to visit our inner-self more often, to exist and understand life at deeper levels. It is not that will come in one day. Just like the regular premiums we are required to pay, we need to look within regularly, much before something hits us in our faces.

This is the only treasure that grows with use, is infectious, can be shared and lasts even when we are no more.

The Ladder of Stress


There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,“ said Shakespeare. Stress is a neutral emotion but it causes distress and many psycho-physical ailments when we view it negatively indulging in self pity.

But positive attitude makes it tremendously motivating and the ladder for success. There is no such thing as positive or negative stress. What really matters is how we take it. In fact, there is no problem which cannot be transformed into a stepping stone for further growth and development with right attitude.

Our altitude of success is proportionate to our inner drive which enables us to tap much more energy than we usually use. The residual reserve energy released by stress leads to better performance and resultant success. But negative emotions weaken the performance and affect our biochemical secretions inviting various ailments.

It is neither possible nor desirable to avoid stress in today's highly competitive world. A smooth sea never makes a good sailor. We must not try to remove stress. We should face the challenges with positive attitude using additional energy released by positive acceptance of stress.

The onward march of civilisation has been possible by voluntary acceptance of stress by different pioneers. Apple has been falling on the ground from time immemorial. But Newton became stressed to trace the law behind. Edison made almost ten thousand futile experiments to invent electric bulb.

Even his friends ridiculed his repeated failures and advised him to give up. But his own inner drive provided him the energy to react, “Who says I have failed? All these times I discovered how an electric bulb cannot be made.“ This positive acceptance of stress led to his phenomenal success. Even when his laboratory was burnt into ashes he took it positively, “Thank God! He has burnt my mistakes into ashes so that I can start afresh.“ Those who succumb to stress accept failure as destiny. It takes courage and positive attitude to accept stress as motivator. Those who can do it become successful.