1. Remember to offer kindness

Cruel comments, sarcasm and harsh criticism never make anyone’s day better. And being ignored can come off as the worst sort of mean. Being mindful of others’ feelings is critical for a great leader to build a productive environment. The team will build a culture that follows the leader’s demeanor. Treated them with care and consideration, even when they screw up. Then they will remember to do the same.

2. Remember to offer respect.

People on the team need to feel that you value their skills and knowledge. If you treat them like children, they will act like children, or worse. Great leaders remember to let their teams know they are valued, because words, tone and gestures will show it. Everyone from the cleaning person to the top executive deserves certain basic courtesies, including a cordial greeting, a present moment of your attention and the acknowledgement of their efforts.

3. Remember to offer patience.

Great leaders maintain their own sanity and that of others by managing impatience, especially their own. This is the era of instant gratification, and most people want things done as quickly as possible. But an immediate response or solution is not always available. Recognize that many aspects of a project will take time to develop, or that an answer may take 24 hours or more to find. Set an agreed upon plan with reasonable expectations even when pressured. It’s ok to stay in touch while waiting, but avoid pestering others, berating them or getting in the way.

4. Remember to offer humor.

When all else fails, we have laughter. Laughing can relieve a lot of tension and do a great deal to help people who are ready to give up. People value leaders who can make the negatives seem less daunting with a joke. Laughter is not a substitute for persistence and hard work, of course. But the judicious use of humor can do a lot to put things in perspective. Oh yeah, and lots of humor makes work more fun as well.

5. Remember to offer truth.

No one is served by quiet politeness, or outright lies. It’s hard to hear the truth sometimes especially when you are emotionally invested in a project that is off track. But great leaders know how to deliver truth in a straightforward way that helps people move forward. You can be frank without being mean, petty or harsh. And the detriments of avoidable failure due to silence or candy coating far outweigh the harshness and pain of learning the truth.

6. Remember to offer encouragement.

Nothing saps energy like the feeling of being lost or out of options. When people are running out of energy or feeling down, great leaders take notice and remember how to get people back on track. You can describe what you like/admire about them. Remind them of the strengths and skills they can bring to the table. If cheerleading isn’t enough, roll up your sleeves and get into problem solving with them.

7. Remember to offer gratitude.

People feed on acknowledgement. Just saying “thank you” when someone holds the door can affirm that positive behavior. And when you hold the door yourself…it tells the other person that you value them and want to meet their needs. Great leaders remember to be grateful for the efforts others make on their behalf. Be watching for opportunities to do small, thoughtful things for others that demonstrate how much you appreciate their efforts.

8. Remember to offer hope.

When times seem harsh and bleak, great leaders remember that they are great leaders and it is their responsibility to offer the path forward. During the worst times, people want to believe that life will get better, that everything will improve, and that growth/progress/success is in their grasp. Let people know that you believe in them, that your expectations are high and that they should keep trying.

Om Namah Shivay

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How to Bring the Spouse on the Path

That is a big test.

Do you know why your spouse opposes your path? Let us analyze this! Let’s think about this.

Maybe your spouse is very attached to you and wants all your attention, and when your attention is elsewhere, they don’t like it. So if you praise anything, whether it is a course, or a person, they get upset.

The psychology is what? ‘I want my spouse all to myself. She or he must praise me all the time’. If you like something, or praise something, they take a stand so that they cut you out from that and you give all your attention back to them. So, don’t go on praising something beyond a certain limit.

Is this correct? How many of you say this is correct? That is a general psychology.

Maybe it is out of insecurity.

Sometimes, if you like something so much, your spouse starts thinking that you may leave the house and go away. This insecurity bugs your spouse, and so they oppose the path.

Could be an ego issue.

Your spouse does not like being told what they should be doing. They may take it from their friend, but they would not like to take it when it comes from you.

If their close friend tells them, ‘Hey, there is a course on mediation which is very nice, why don’t you come with me!’ They will say, ‘Okay, I will come with you’. But when you say the same thing, they would like to say no because saying no makes them feel more powerful. They feel, ‘I can do what I want, and I don’t have to do what my spouse is telling me to do’.

So it could be a power game, to show one-upmanship they refuse to walk on the path.

Money could be the fourth reason.

When the mind is into something, then money is not a problem, one would spend double the money. So it is not mainly the money, but it appears to be time and money. It is just the mind.

(From the audience): Could be jealousy of the spouse’s happiness!

Yes, it is strange but true! Jealousy of the spouse’s happiness; can’t see the wife or the husband being happy. Generally, a spouse does everything to make the other happy. A husband works to make his wife happy. A wife does all the house work to make the husband happy. Yet if one of them is happy, it makes the other uncomfortable, because if someone is happy you cannot control them. Whom can you control? One who is unhappy; then you have some control. It is a subtle psychological thing.

When someone is happy they are also free. They find some sort of freedom inside and this is what some people cannot digest. They think freedom means the other is moving away from them and not involving them.

Isn’t it strange? Why they don’t want to see the husband or the wife happy is because happiness implies freedom, and they cannot tolerate freedom. They feel they are losing control.

(From the audience): Low self-esteem.

Yes! The spouse feels low self-esteem, that is why they want to control the other.

So what you need to do is, in very measured way, you should tell your spouse when they are in a good mood, ‘You know, I want a gift from you. I want you also to come with me and do a course. Let us both do it together?’

In ancient Vedic times, they would always say that if you are married both of you must come. In any spiritual practice, a single person (of a couple) was not even allowed because it would cause an imbalance; one would grow while the other would not grow. When both husband and wife have come, they both grow together. Otherwise, if one is fulfilled and the other is not fulfilled, there will be conflict in marital life. So they made it a rule, that both the partners should come.

I usually say, if you partner tells you, ‘Don’t do meditation’, then don’t mediate for few days and be very nasty. Then they will realize that when you meditate you are nice, and when you don’t meditate, you are nasty . They will tell you, ‘Oh, please go and meditate now’. That is a secret clue .

Om Namah Shivay

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The Eternal Truth

The other day, my eyes were tired from continuously looking at the screen for several hours at a straight stretch. I had been busy editing my upcoming memoir and replying to numerous emails. I could stare at the screen no longer as the words were beginning to swim in front of me. To give my eyes some rest, I drew the curtain and looked outside. It was a beautiful scene. The river was flowing gently, the mountains were green, at a distance a farmer was tilling his land, on a rock a shepherd was resting while his cattle were roaming around, the sky was clear and up in that blue expanse was a bird circling about.

My gaze followed the bird as it soared high in the sky, still flying around in circles, it came down at a much lower altitude and flew high again. This went on for a good few minutes before it eventually disappeared behind a giant mountain. I looked elsewhere through my window and couldn’t spot another bird but right at one corner of the glass was a cobweb and a spider was waiting at the edge of the web. It was quiet and still. Just outside the window some butterflies were flitting about.

I closed my laptop for the screen looked extremely unappealing now. An aphorism by a lesser known saint, Maluk Das, came to my mind:

Ajgar kare na chakri, panchi kare na kam,
das maulak keh gaye, sabke data ram.

A python doesn’t serve any master and a bird doesn’t go looking for work. Maluk says that one God provides for everyone.

But, I think there’s more to our world than this simple, albeit soulful, statement. I sat there reflecting on the eternal truth of our existence. Whether it was the bird flying in the sky or the fluttering butterflies, the working farmer or the resting shepherd, there was one thing common. Hunger. Hunger is the eternal truth of all living entities. Other than humans or perhaps the animals tamed by us, most species rarely get to eat to their heart’s content. Every morning billions of creatures step out of the safety and comfort of their shelter in search of food. They must find food or perish.

Hunger is also our truth; there’s only one key difference between ours and theirs. No, it’s not greed. Like us, animals can be greedy too. On many occasions I’ve seen dogs, cats and other animals devour food with insatiable desire. But, their hunger is basic, it’s elementary whereas ours is more evolved. They need to eat when famished and they need to mate when in heat. Our race, however, is starving for many other things.

Just look around and see how people are hungry for different reasons. Most are yearning for more money, many are craving for love, others are hungry for power, some for status, name and fame and so forth. Our hunger keeps us on our toes, it keeps us going, it motivates us and also makes us feel important and adequate. But, what we want in life often arises from a sense of lacking, even insecurity. As you crave for food when your body lacks it, you long for fulfillment when life fails to provide it. In seeking that fulfillment we set goals and constantly strive and struggle to reach them, only to set more upon their attainment. This hunger is eternal.

When, however, you feel complete within, you don’t feel starved but full. And when you are full, the urge to be more or have more disappears. The circling around stops. In the words of the noted Austrian psychologist, Alfred Adler:

One motive is common to all forms of vanity. The vain individual has created a goal that cannot be attained in this life. He wants to be more important and successful than anyone else in the world, and this goal is the direct result of his feeling of inadequacy.

This is a gem. If you reflect on it, you’ll discover that once we start to believe we lack something, we begin to work towards it automatically. Most of our goals are truly determined by a sense of inadequacy. This is not good or bad or a pessimistic view but simply the naked truth. The sad part is we are not born this way but we have been subtly, even if unintentionally, conditioned this way. That we are not sufficient, that we must always strive for more. It needn’t be like this. Before placating your hunger, take a moment to question if you are actually hungry or is it a false alarm.

Mulla Nasrudin was on cruise and he shared the table with a French gentleman. At the dinner, the Frenchman said, “Bon appétit!”

“Mulla Nasrudin!” said Mulla. The French fellow nodded politely. The same pleasantries were exchanged at the next meal.

This went on for five days when Mulla could not take it anymore and told another traveler: “Before every meal he tells me his name is Bon Appétit and I tell him mine. I don’t understand this guy. Why does he announce his name every time?”

The fellow traveler laughed and explained to Mulla that bon appétit was a greeting that meant “enjoy your meal.”

Nasrudin was very happy to have solved the mystery and eagerly awaited the next meal. Surely enough, they met at dinner again. Mulla welcomed him with a big smile, and said, “Bon appétit!”

The French traveler smiled gently and said, “Mulla Nasrudin.”

The world is looking at you and trying to copy you thinking you have it figured out and you are doing the same looking at them. There is no real hunger beneath, just artificially fueled fire based on superficial and arbitrary observations.

Yes, we need to survive, we need to live, we need to be comfortable and safe, but we don’t have to be crazy. The carrot of desires is forever hanging in front and we are vainly chasing it. Snip the cord and eat the carrot. You can then sit under the shade and enjoy life for what it is — a beautiful gift. This is also an eternal truth: it’s a beautiful life.

Om Namah Shivay

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It’s Hope That Keeps Us Going

Hope literary means “expectation and desires combined“, or “feeling of trust“. Hope, though deceitful, carries us pleasantly to the end of life because it is hope that keeps us alive. We all hope and reaffirm our faith in situations when we are distressed or disappointed and even though some like to say that hope is merely disappointment deferred. A hopeful man always sees success rather than failure, the sunrise rather than sunset, and hope is the pillar that holds up the world and allows us to cherish our dreams.

Life is full of surprises and life is not always fair. We can never predict with certainty what is going to happen. Therefore, one should not become depressed at the unexpected and get dismayed when things don’t go according to plan. Nothing ever remains the same. In Judaism, hope is the highest act of faith. Despair is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. Hope is internal whereas wish and desire are external factors.

Desires and aspirations for attaining or possessing something can lead to disappointments. We often mistake a desire of the body for a yearning of the soul. We ought to consider our wishes in life to determine which are ephemeral and which are truly worthwhile.

Hope is also an expectation though it is said a person who expects nothing shall never be disappointed. It is true that one should not have expectations or else one will be disappointed if one’s hopes are not fulfilled ­ yet, you are advised to live with hope. Expectation is something reciprocal and invective whereas hope is sufficient unto itself. It is said that there is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful.

We keep our hopes alive via faith and vision. Because we have faith, we have a future. Jews survived because they are optimistic. No obstacles stopped them. No crisis dismayed them. No catastrophe crushed them.They swallowed the bitterness of life and pursed the sweetness thereof because hope and faith in the Almighty kept them alive.

God gives us strength, courage, patience and hope, renewing our spiritual resources. We hope for serenity, tranquility of mind and a peaceful, joyous, harmonious and healthy, successful life without fear, worry or tension.We must learn to have confidence in ourselves so that we can face the future unafraid and help make our lives as long and fulfilling as possible.

Hope and imagination are always linked together because imagination can be a source of fear. Worry and fear are destructive and suck away energy. The only thing we have to fear is fear.

If we have faith nothing is impossible in this world. Faith is an inner conviction whereas prayers are premised on faith in divinity within.Rituals are only aids to help us find ourselves. Prayer may not end all suffering but it can certainly help us to endure well what cannot be cured. However, we need to remember that faith alone can never be a substitute for executing one’s responsibilities in life. A pragmatic approach is necessary .

Life is not always easy, comfortable or simple. Life is very complex with its unexpected twists and turns. There will always be tensions, worries, problems ­ perhaps in differing degrees or intensity ­ because each one of us has special desires, hopes, expectations, beliefs and attitude. Therefore, philosophy teaches us to hope and we attain salvation through good deeds.

Om Namah Shivay

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Let The Light Within Illumine Your Life

Diwali is the darkest night of the year and also the most powerful night to break away from darkness into light, signifying that only when it is the darkest night you yearn for light. The journey from darkness to light is the journey from mooladhar to the agya, from the bottom to the topmost, to the centre of the forehead, in the human body. Mooladhar is the seat of Ganesha, the deity of physical creation and agya is that of Shiva, who takes you beyond.

On the night of Diwali diyas are lit and placed in front of the idols of Ganesha and Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi rides an owl and Ganesha is seated on a mushak, mouse. Both owl and mouse stay in darkness.

A being who is at the level of moolsthan, is like an owl that is tied to maya or a mouse that runs after physical pleasures, away from light into darkness as all physical pleasures are temporary, all relationships, physical desires, the human body, they are all temporary. We all know this will go, but we are not prepared to accept it, that is darkness. This is where the journey, as detailed in Sanatan Kriya, begins, the mooladhar being represented by the tip of the nose.

Physical satisfaction is the first experience of a practitioner.

In the initial stages of Sanatan Kriya, experience of a practitioner.There is nothing wrong with the physical, the body is for the experience of physical only . It is the attachment to the physical which ties one to the cycle of pleasure and pain leading to disease and aging. The physical is temporary , it brings with it immense pleasure and leaves with pain… and leave it will, for sure. You can either be attached to it, the path to darkness or stay detached, which leads to light.

In the initial stages of Sanatan Kriya, a practitioner meditates on the tip of the nose (kaki mudra), for he desires the experiences of the physical or material. The kundalini shakti which lies coiled up at the moolsthan in a semi-dormant state gets consumed in the day-to-day indulgence for such a person. As the person progresses in sadhana, the guru gradually transforms his desires, granting him the experiences of higher chakras.

When kundalini rises, then excessive heat, movements and pulsations are felt in the body, at times uncontrollable…at all times, away from light into darkness, the urge becomes very strong. But a sadhak has to depend on and refer to experiences he has had and hold on, and lo and behold, the light will dawn.

Focussing your eyes at the agya is most difficult because it requires stilling of thoughts, and stillness of eyes is vital because the thought process wastes your energy. Energy, which is capable of creating light within you, gets depleted when you think very intently about something. These thoughts are your desires that come to you when you sit in dhyan. You think about your problems, your wants, about the darkness that you are in and that you are trying to get out of.

Each time you think, there occurs a vibration in the neurons of the brain which leads to sensation through the nerves and your focus gets disturbed and experience evades you.

For an experience to happen, seeing the light is very important. For seeing the light, it is important to have a guru who will show you the light. On Diwali, when we light a diya, it is to see the light in darkness. 

Om Namah Shivay

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The Dark Night Of The Soul

As the seeker moves on the path of the Spirit, there are periods when he feels utterly depressed and despondent. He feels that he belongs neither here nor there. It is as though he is passing through a parched desert.

Nothing appeals to him: Everything appears dull, dark, profoundly pessimistic… Some of the early mystics have called this phase `the dark night of the soul’.

In fact, in the first chapter of the Gita is a section on Arjuna’s feeling of despair and depression ­ Arjuna Vishada Yoga. Indeed, the first step in spiritual life is vishada ­ darkness of the soul.

Anyone who has ever set out in quest of the spiritual will tell you this: they pass through this period characterized as `the dark night of the soul’. We cry out in sorrow, “What is the meaning of life? What does it all mean? Why are we here? Whither do we go from here?“ All of us must pass through a period of loneliness and internal conflict before we can enter into Self-knowledge, true awareness of the Self. It is in this loneliness that we can shed our ego, and realise that we are not alone. Even the brave warrior-hero Arjuna stands confounded on the field at Kurukshetra.

“My limbs fail, my mouth is parched, my body quivers, my hair stands on end. My Gandiva bow slips from my hand and my skin burns all over; I am not able to stand steady; my brain is reeling,“ says the sad and lonely Arjuna. His mind is agitated; his consciousness is clouded. This hero of a hundred fights suddenly begins to suffer from nervous fright. It is not the possibility of defeat or victory that agitates Arjuna. His mind is torn by doubts, fears and anxieties.

However, Duryodhana is not bothered by such worries. Never, ever does he reflect upon the injustice of his cause as he does not differentiate between good and evil. But then, the Gita is not addressed to Duryodhana. It is addressed to Arjuna, who, in this great war between good and evil, stands firmly on the side of dharma. He has made the choice between good and evil long ago ­ but now, he is torn asunder by a seemingly irresolvable conflict.

Arjuna, like so many of us, is bewildered by the choice he has to make. He is in the grip of uncertainty. He faces the classic dilemma ­ to act or not to act. It is only honest, conscientious people who agonize over such perplexing situations. As for selfish, unscrupulous men, they are guided and motivated only by their own desires and narrow interests.

The `battle’ here is not a fight between armies, but a war within a soul. The chariot symbolises the body , in which the mind (Arjuna) is seated, along with Krishna, the Atman, Self. The horses represent the five senses that we need to rein in.

And Kurukshetra is the plane of action, the plane of friction, the world of strife and contradictions that we inhabit.

The implication is that life on earth is a battle, and all of us must fight the good fight, for the just cause.

The message of the Bhagwad Gita is the message of courage, heroism, and atma shakti. With shakti or inner energy and power, we can overcome despair, doubt and pessimism, and progress on the spiritual path.

Om Namah Shivay

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हाथी और छह अंधे व्यक्ति

बहुत समय पहले की बात है , किसी गावं में 6 अंधे आदमी रहते थे. एक दिन गाँव वालों ने उन्हें बताया , ” अरे , आज गावँ में हाथी आया है.” उन्होंने आज तक बस हाथियों के बारे में सुना था पर कभी छू कर महसूस नहीं किया था. उन्होंने निश्चय किया, ” भले ही हम हाथी को देख नहीं सकते , पर आज हम सब चल कर उसे महसूस तो कर सकते हैं ना?” और फिर वो सब उस जगह की तरफ बढ़ चले जहाँ हाथी आया हुआ था. सभी ने हाथी को छूना शुरू किया. 

“मैं समझ गया, हाथी एक खम्भे की तरह होता है”, पहले व्यक्ति ने हाथी का पैर छूते हुए कहा.

“अरे नहीं, हाथी तो रस्सी की तरह होता है.” दूसरे व्यक्ति ने पूँछ पकड़ते हुए कहा. 

“मैं बताता हूँ, ये तो पेड़ के तने की तरह है.”,तीसरे व्यक्ति ने सूंढ़ पकड़ते हुए कहा. 

“तुम लोग क्या बात कर रहे हो, हाथी एक बड़े हाथ के पंखे की तरह होता है.” , चौथे व्यक्ति ने कान छूते हुए सभी को समझाया. 

“नहीं-नहीं , ये तो एक दीवार की तरह है.”, पांचवे व्यक्ति ने पेट पर हाथ रखते हुए कहा. 

“ऐसा नहीं है , हाथी तो एक कठोर नली की तरह होता है.”, छठे व्यक्ति ने अपनी बात रखी. और फिर बारी बारी से उन्होंने अपनी बात उस व्यक्ति को समझाई. 

बुद्धिमान व्यक्ति ने सभी की बात शांति से सुनी और बोला ,” तुम सब अपनी-अपनी जगह सही हो. तुम्हारे वर्णन में अंतर इसलिए है क्योंकि तुम सबने हाथी के अलग-अलग भाग छुए हैं, पर देखा जाए तो तुम लोगो ने जो कुछ भी बताया वो सभी बाते हाथी के वर्णन के लिए सही बैठती हैं.” 

“अच्छा !! ऐसा है.” सभी ने एक साथ उत्तर दिया . उसके बाद कोई विवाद नहीं हुआ ,और सभी खुश हो गए कि वो सभी सच कह रहे थे. दोस्तों, कई बार ऐसा होता है कि हम अपनी बात को लेकर अड़ जाते हैं कि हम ही सही हैं और बाकी सब गलत है. लेकिन यह संभव है कि हमें सिक्के का एक ही पहलु दिख रहा हो और उसके आलावा भी कुछ ऐसे तथ्य हों जो सही हों.

इसलिए हमें अपनी बात तो रखनी चाहिए पर दूसरों की बात भी सब्र से सुननी चाहिए , और कभी भी बेकार की बहस में नहीं पड़ना चाहिए. वेदों में भी कहा गया है कि एक सत्य को कई तरीके से बताया जा सकता है. तो , जब अगली बार आप ऐसी किसी बहस में पड़ें तो याद कर लीजियेगा कि कहीं ऐसा तो नहीं कि आपके हाथ में सिर्फ पूँछ है और बाकी हिस्से किसी और के पास हैं….

Om Namah Shivay

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