A Possible Roadmap For Happiness

Each of us wants some peace and happiness in life. Still,  happiness often evades us. “Is there a simple,  straightforward roadmap to get happiness and peace in  life,” I asked Swami Paramarthanandji in Chennai. He  replied, ‘Reducing PORT is the best way’. PORT stands for  Possessions, Obligatory Duties, Relationships and  Transactions. How to reduce these?

Happiness is a state of mind; it does not come from possessions alone. There are severe limitations of happiness sought in objects. First, deep effort and some pain are involved in acquiring objects. Many waste their entire life in pursuit of desirable objects. There is no guarantee that even after getting those objects or positions, you would be happy. You may feel ‘let-down’ after spending so much of effort. You may think, ‘this is not what I laboured for’. Also, objects of desire keep changing, and so also our goal posts. The chase continues and every new possession brings with it own burden. If someone has a house with swimming pool and ten bed rooms; imagine his plight in maintaining it. He is busy all the time cleaning, fixing, protecting. Does the house serve us, or do we serve the house? Again, objects make us dependent on them. For instance, once we are used to a particular standard of living, it is inconvenient not to have certain objects such as air conditioners in our life. Hence objects usually create bondage.

Relationships are meant to make our life happy. But do they? We have to maintain some blood relations for social cohesion, but we create other new relationships, which complicates life. Every new relationship has to be maintained. You have to remember to wish people on their birthdays and anniversaries, participate in functions like marriage and engagement, or reach out in case of sickness or loss. Also you  experience sadness or pain when the person with whom you have a relationship does not reciprocate. It is said that grief is never caused by outsiders or unknown people. It is caused by people with whom you have a relationship. Depending on your attitude, your relationships might cause you more pain than pleasure.

Every possession and every new relationship creates its own obligatory duties. You have to insure your vehicles, for example, remember to send it for regular service. Similarly we have to attend to the expectations of relationships. These add to our list of obligatory duties. We cannot avoid basic, minimum obligatory duties towards the office, business, parents, spouse or children. But our optional duties also become obligatory when you maintain too many possessions and relationships. We should also be careful in accepting new roles in life just for the sake of ego-satisfaction. If you are made President or Secretary of a Society, you may feel good, but that adds to your obligatory duties also. Performance of each of these duties becomes a transaction. This way we try to cope with large number of transactions in our life, and get exhausted at the end of the day. Where is the time to be happy?

This is not to say that you should have no objects or relationships in your life. However, the idea is to be aware of their limitations and try to strike a balance. The mind will be peaceful only if you are able to discriminate between what is necessary and what is unnecessary in your life.

Reducing Possessions, Relationships, Obligatory Duties and Transactions (PORT) is a practical way to look at life and happiness. That is the PORT of call for happiness.

Om Namah Shivay

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More Than Physical-1

In organ transplantation, besides tissue compatibility,  spiritual compatibility could also make a difference,

What are the medical and ethical aspects of organ donation and transplantation?

The main thing is that of the compatibility of  donor-receiver tissues because organs have specific  proteins and antigens that are different in different people. They evoke an immune response in the recipient which may reject the transplanted organ. More and more transplants are being done after the tissues are matched. After a certain period of immuno-suppression, the organ is  able to survive in the recipient.

As for ethics, if a person can do something to prolong the life of a fellow being it is an act of compassion and so is an ethically sound practice. Besides tissue compatibility, there is spiritual compatibility, too.

Spiritual evolution of an individual implies his rising to a higher level of consciousness — both mind and body are involved but it’s something modern medicine does not usually understand or accept. But, from a spiritual perspective, this is not difficult to comprehend because all parts of the being are manifestations of the Divine and they have consciousness. When an individual is evolving, all parts of his being are evolving and changing in consciousness. The reason why it appears to be confined to the mind is because organs like the heart, liver or kidney do not have a complex mechanism like the brain to manifest that consciousness. It means that when a person is evolving in consciousness, his cellular consciousness is also changing.

How crucial is spiritual compatibility to the recipient’s body accepting the transplanted organ? Ordinarily, it does not matter so much, since most of us are more or less at the same level of spiritual evolution. But if the donor happens to be at a much lower level of consciousness than the recipient, it can create problems because in that case the consciousness of the recipient can be ‘contaminated’ by a lower consciousness. There is a documented case of a heart recipient who would have nightmares. Later, it was found that the donor was a criminal who was executed for murder. It has also been found that in some cases, the recipient seemed to have acquired some of the habits, tastes and preferences of the donor. Clearly, consciousness affects all organs and in the case of organ transplant, it affects the recipient at the level of consciousness.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Avadhoota Gita-17

The Avadhoota Gita-1719. The external existence is the universe, the inner existence is called prakrti. One should try to know That which is more interior than the inner existence, That which is like water within the kernel of the coconut.

Prakrti-in its subtle aspects: cosmic intelligence, cosmic mind, etc.

20. Illusory knowledge relates to what is outside, correct knowledge to what is inside. Try to know That which is more interior than the inside, That which is like water within the kernel of the coconut.

21. There is only one very clear moon on the full moon night. One should perceive That (the Self) like the moon seeing duality is perversion.

22. It is indeed in this way that intelligence becomes divided and ceases to be all-comprehending. A giver attains to wisdom and is sung with millions of names.

This, etc.-by seeing duality (also, of course, plurality).

Divided-perceiving many objects separated from one another, as in ordinary experience. Intelligence should, if it is not clouded with ignorance, perceive only unity-the whole of Reality-at once.

Such perception, according to Vedanta, is the only true perception of Reality. Giver-maker of charity.

The second part of this verse, and, as a matter of fact, the whole verse, is a little obscure. Our translation of the second part is literal.

The probable meaning is: When a person gives away all attachment thereby attaining perfect renunciation, being free of all grasping he attains the knowledge of the Self. The Sanskrit data for the word “giver” also means teacher.

23. Whoever, whether he be ignorant or learned, attains to the full awareness of Truth through the grace of a teacher’s wisdom, becomes detached from the ocean of worldliness.

Ignorant-devoid of scholarship. (learned in the scriptures)

24. He who is free from attachment and hatred, devoted to the good of all beings, fixed in knowledge and steady shall attain to the supreme state.

25. As the space within a pot dissolves in the universal space when the pot is broken, so a yogi, in the absence of the body, dissolves into the supreme Self, which is his true being.

26. It has been said that the destiny of those devoted to action is the same as their thought at the end, but it has not been said that the destiny of those established in yoga is the same as their thought at the end.

End-the dying moment.

The belief in India, clearly expressed in the Bagavad Gita, is that the last thought in the mind of the dying person indicates the nature of his future existence. This is not true, however, of one who has attained to the knowledge of the Self.

Om Namah Shivay

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भगवान विष्णु के 24 अवतार-3

9- आदिराज पृथु (Prithu Avtar) :

भगवान विष्णु के एक अवतार का नाम आदिराज पृथु है। धर्म ग्रंथों के अनुसार स्वायम्भुव मनु के वंश में अंग नामक प्रजापति का विवाह मृत्यु की मानसिक पुत्री सुनीथा के साथ हुआ। उनके यहां वेन नामक पुत्र हुआ। उसने भगवान को मानने से इंकार कर दिया और स्वयं की पूजा करने के लिए कहा।

तब महर्षियों ने मंत्र पूत कुशों से उसका वध कर दिया। तब महर्षियों ने पुत्रहीन राजा वेन की भुजाओं का मंथन किया, जिससे पृथु नाम पुत्र उत्पन्न हुआ। पृथु के दाहिने हाथ में चक्र और चरणों में कमल का चिह्न देखकर ऋषियों ने बताया कि पृथु के वेष में स्वयं श्रीहरि का अंश अवतरित हुआ है।

10- मत्स्य अवतार (Matsya Avtar) :

पुराणों के अनुसार भगवान विष्णु ने सृष्टि को प्रलय से बचाने के लिए मत्स्यावतार लिया था। इसकी कथा इस प्रकार है- कृतयुग के आदि में राजा सत्यव्रत हुए। राजा सत्यव्रत एक दिन नदी में स्नान कर जलांजलि दे रहे थे। अचानक उनकी अंजलि में एक छोटी सी मछली आई। उन्होंने देखा तो सोचा वापस सागर में डाल दूं, लेकिन उस मछली ने बोला- आप मुझे सागर में मत डालिए अन्यथा बड़ी मछलियां मुझे खा जाएंगी। तब राजा सत्यव्रत ने मछली को अपने कमंडल में रख लिया। मछली और बड़ी हो गई तो राजा ने उसे अपने सरोवर में रखा, तब देखते ही देखते मछली और बड़ी हो गई।

राजा को समझ आ गया कि यह कोई साधारण जीव नहीं है। राजा ने मछली से वास्तविक स्वरूप में आने की प्रार्थना की। राजा की प्रार्थना सुन साक्षात चारभुजाधारी भगवान विष्णु प्रकट हो गए और उन्होंने कहा कि ये मेरा मत्स्यावतार है। भगवान ने सत्यव्रत से कहा- सुनो राजा सत्यव्रत! आज से सात दिन बाद प्रलय होगी। तब मेरी प्रेरणा से एक विशाल नाव तुम्हारे पास आएगी। तुम सप्त ऋषियों, औषधियों, बीजों व प्राणियों के सूक्ष्म शरीर को लेकर उसमें बैठ जाना, जब तुम्हारी नाव डगमगाने लगेगी, तब मैं मत्स्य के रूप में तुम्हारे पास आऊंगा।

उस समय तुम वासुकि नाग के द्वारा उस नाव को मेरे सींग से बांध देना। उस समय प्रश्न पूछने पर मैं तुम्हें उत्तर दूंगा, जिससे मेरी महिमा जो परब्रह्म नाम से विख्यात है, तुम्हारे ह्रदय में प्रकट हो जाएगी। तब समय आने पर मत्स्यरूपधारी भगवान विष्णु ने राजा सत्यव्रत को तत्वज्ञान का उपदेश दिया, जो मत्स्यपुराण नाम से प्रसिद्ध है।

11- कूर्म अवतार (Kurm Avtar) :

धर्म ग्रंथों के अनुसार भगवान विष्णु ने कूर्म (कछुए) का अवतार लेकर समुद्र मंथन में सहायता की थी। भगवान विष्णु के कूर्म अवतार को कच्छप अवतार भी कहते हैं। इसकी कथा इस प्रकार है- एक बार महर्षि दुर्वासा ने देवताओं के राजा इंद्र को श्राप देकर श्रीहीन कर दिया। इंद्र जब भगवान विष्णु के पास गए तो उन्होंने समुद्र मंथन करने के लिए कहा। तब इंद्र भगवान विष्णु के कहे अनुसार दैत्यों व देवताओं के साथ मिलकर समुद्र मंथन करने के लिए तैयार हो गए।

समुद्र मंथन करने के लिए मंदराचल पर्वत को मथानी एवं नागराज वासुकि को नेती बनाया गया। देवताओं और दैत्यों ने अपना मतभेद भुलाकर मंदराचल को उखाड़ा और उसे समुद्र की ओर ले चले, लेकिन वे उसे अधिक दूर तक नहीं ले जा सके। तब भगवान विष्णु ने मंदराचल को समुद्र तट पर रख दिया। देवता और दैत्यों ने मंदराचल को समुद्र में डालकर नागराज वासुकि को नेती बनाया।

किंतु मंदराचल के नीचे कोई आधार नहीं होने के कारण वह समुद्र में डूबने लगा। यह देखकर भगवान विष्णु विशाल कूर्म (कछुए) का रूप धारण कर समुद्र में मंदराचल के आधार बन गए। भगवान कूर्म की विशाल पीठ पर मंदराचल तेजी से घुमने लगा और इस प्रकार समुद्र मंथन संपन्न हुआ।

12- भगवान धन्वन्तरि (Dhanwantari Avatar) :

धर्म ग्रंथों के अनुसार जब देवताओं व दैत्यों ने मिलकर समुद्र मंथन किया तो उसमें से सबसे पहले भयंकर विष निकला जिसे भगवान शिव ने पी लिया। इसके बाद समुद्र मंथन से उच्चैश्रवा घोड़ा, देवी लक्ष्मी, ऐरावत हाथी, कल्प वृक्ष, अप्सराएं और भी बहुत से रत्न निकले। सबसे अंत में भगवान धन्वन्तरि अमृत कलश लेकर प्रकट हुए। यही धन्वन्तरि भगवान विष्णु के अवतार माने गए हैं। इन्हें औषधियों का स्वामी भी माना गया है।

Om Namah Shivay

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Scream It Out

We live in a perplexing world, often glamorized and overrated as being ideal and happy. But reality is different. Teenagers do not know whom to turn to in difficult situations. They are conditioned to behave appropriately, not share ‘wrong’ issues, and adhere to stereotypes of behaving like a good son or daughter. Where do they express their bottled-up emotions? Does one gulp down tablets or quaff drinks to drown sorrows? Teens have to battle out many factors that increase their struggle to reconcile the two worlds:

l Coping with peer pressure
l Bullying by their seniors
l Academic pressure by teachers and parents and their great expectations
l Puberty, pimples and making Peace with their changing body
l Mental and emotional problems that they do not comprehend
l Hormonal changes
l Attraction of the opposite sex, boyfriend-girlfriend issues
l Rebellion

Without proper outlet, the high teenage energy remains in a state of flux and turns into negative emotions. Teens resort to gadgets and high-adrenaline games, which may allow them to vent, but also make them reclusive and closed. And the lack of playgrounds and free play adds to a dry, structured world. As these negative energies stay bottled up, the teen shows signs of aggression, reclusion and even depression.

Teenage years are difficult for parents as well. With the advent of technology and increase in exposure avenues, children tend to mature faster.

Parents have to keep up with this pace of growth and needs. And sometimes struggle juggling the roles of parent and friend. If they approach children as parents, they are often blocked out by teens who don’t understand their own selves. Approaching children as friends often finds them being taken for granted. They find it increasingly difficult to reach out and more often than not do not know what to say. Parents try their best but fail to find a common ground to communicate with their moody children — sometimes with fatal consequences.

The need of the hour is to understand the importance of channelising and directing energies of children towards more productive and positive influences. If not harnessed, these energies can lead to destructive and negative behaviour and habits. What they need is an outlet.

Do It Loudly

Whether it is pent-up feelings or excess energy, a great way to release heaviness, negativity and anger for teenagers is to ‘Scream it out’! Screaming has been known to have a cathartic effect. A loud, shrill, intense scream gives a sense of release and leaves one feeling at peace.

Teens open their mouths wide and pierce the air with the sound of screams. They forget troubles and focus energy into releasing long, loud screams. What’s more, there is music and play, movement and freedom, as teens move out of their stiff body conditioning and experience being a free spirit in its true sense. They scream in turns, in unison and sometimes in competition till the whole exercise becomes a celebration of freedom.

Whatever the case, it leaves each one with a feeling of exhilaration and lightness. Other benefits include:

l Peace and harmony of mind and body
l More harmony with each other
l Emotional and mental detox and entrance of fresh energies
l More concentration on academics and better all-round performance
l Care and nurturing towards oneself
l Relaxation and good health in general

Emptied, these teens make way for fresh energies to enter their system, and a lighter approach to everything, transforming them into happier citizens of tomorrow.

Om Namah Shivay

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ZERO IS HERO

You can’t imagine the world of computers without the binary system, all because some ‘wild’ Indian sages conceptualised the universe and their gods in terms of zero and infinity.

If you travel to the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and visit a place called Deogarh, which literally means citadel of the gods, you will find the ruins of a Hindu temple, one of the oldest, at least 1,500 years old, built by the kings of the Gupta dynasty. On its walls, there is the image of a man reclining on the coils of a serpent with many hoods, surrounded by his wife and many warriors and sages. It’s inspired by a scene from the royal court, but it is clearly a celestial scene, visualisation of the moment when the world was created.

For Hindus, the world is created when Narayana awakens. Narayana is the god reclining on the serpent with multiple hoods. When he is in dreamless slumber, the world does not exist. When he wakes up, the world comes into being. Narayana is thus a visual representation of human consciousness, the awakening of which heralds the creation of our world. What is interesting is the serpent on whose coils, Narayana reclines. Its name is: Adi-Ananta-Sesha, which literally means primal-limitless-residue, which is numerically visualised as one-infinity-zero. For, with consciousness, we become aware of the first moment of beginnings, of limitless possibilities, and of nothingness that existed before the first moment.

The Hindu worldview has always been obsessed with infinity or everything-ness; zero or nothingness, and with the number one or the beginning. More than Hindu, it is the Indic worldview, the substratum of thought, which gave rise to three major ideas: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, all of which speak of rebirth, cyclical time, and a world sans boundaries. Buddhism came up with ideas such as nirvana or oblivion and shunya, which literally means zero. Jainism spoke of a world of endless possibilities, an-ekanta-vada.

This is in stark contrast to the Greek worldview where the world begins as chaos until the gods create order. And with order comes definitions, boundaries, certainty, and predictability. It is also different from the Abrahamic worldview where God creates the world out of nothingness, and the world he creates in seven days has a definite expiry date: the Apocalypse. The Greek and Abrahamic worldviews form what we call the western worldview today that is obsessed with organisation, and is terrified of disorder, and unpredictability, something Indians are used to, and rather comfortable with, even thriving in it.

The story goes that when Alexander the Great, after having conquered Persia, visited India, he met a sage on the banks of the river Indus, who he referred to as a gymno-sophist or naked wise man. This sage sat on a rock and spent all day staring at the sky. Alexander asked him what he was doing and the sage said, “Experiencing nothingness.” The sage asked Alexander what was he doing. Alexander said, “I am conquering the world.” Both laughed. Each one thought the other was a fool. For Alexander, the sage was wasting his life doing nothing. For the sage, Alexander was wasting his time trying to conquer a world that has no limits.

Belief in one life, which is the hallmark of Greek worldview, and later Abrahamic, has led to us valuing achievements. But belief in rebirth, hence infinite lives, which is the hallmark of Indic worldview, makes achievements meaningless, and puts the focus on wisdom and understanding.

India’ s philosophical obsession with infinity and zero led to mathematicians not just conceptualising the idea of zero, but also giving it a form, a dot, and finally using it in a decimal system. This happened around the same time that the Gupta kings built the temple in Deogarh. The mathematician Brahmagupta, 638 CE, is associated with giving form to the number zero, and formulating the first rules with its usage. The rise of the decimal system enabled the writing of vast numbers, of huge value, a practice that has been traced to even vedic texts written around 1000 BCE, values that are not seen in any other parts of the world.

The Arab sea-merchants who frequented the coasts of India, and who dominated the rich spice and textile trade then — before the European sea-farers took over in the 16th century — saw value in this system and took it with them to Arabia. The Arab mathematician Khowarizimi suggested use of a little circle for zero. This circle was called sifr, which means ‘empty’, which eventually became ‘zero’. Zero travelled from Arabia through Persia and Mesopotamia to Europe during the Crusades. In Spain, Fibonacci found it useful to do equations without using the abacus. Italian government was suspicious of this Arabic numbering system and so outlawed it. But the merchants used it secretly, which is why sifr became cipher, meaning ‘code’.

It comes as a shock to many people that the modern use of the number zero is less than thousand years old, and that it became popular less than 500 years ago. Had it not been for the arrival of zero, neither would the Cartesian coordinate system nor calculus have developed in the 16th century. Zero enabled people to conceptualise large numbers and helped in book-keeping and accounting. In the 20th century, came the binary system, which forms the foundation of modern computing. All because some ‘wild’ Indian sages conceptualised the universe and their gods in terms of zero and infinity.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Avadhoota Gita-16

11. Where there is such a natural Being, how can there be “I”, how can there be even “you”, how can there be the world? 

Natural-existing in its natural (i.e., pure) state.

12. That which has been described as being like ether is indeed Like ether.

That is Consciousness-blameless, omniscient, and perfect.

13. It does not move about on the earth or dwell in fire. It is not blown by the wind or covered by water.

14. Space is pervaded by It, but It is not pervaded by anything. It is existing within and without. It is undivided and continuous.

15. One should successively take recourse to the objects of concentration, as mentioned by the yogis, in accordance with their subtlety, invisibility, and attributelessness.

Take, etc.-In order to attain to the Absolute (or dissolution in the Absolute, as is said in the next verse), one has to reach the state of infinite and undifferentiated Consciousness by eliminating all mental differentiation or movements. The method of this elimination is to make consciousness dwell on one object continuously by obstructing its restless tendency to dwell on multifarious objects. But the object of concentration has to be chosen carefully.
The beginner chooses a gross object. When he has dwelt on it continuously for some time, his consciousness becomes subtle and steady. He then chooses a subtle object to concentrate on. Gradually he reaches a high state of concentration, but some differentiations in his consciousness still remain-there is the consciousness of himself as the concentrator, of the object on which he is concentrating, and of the process of concentration. Next even these differentiations vanish. For the object of concentration dissolves, and there remains only the pure, undifferentiated Consciousness, the Absolute.

16. When through constant practice one’s concentration becomes objectless, then, being divested of merits and demerits, one attains the state of complete dissolution in the Absolute through the dissolution of the object of concentration, but not before then.

17. For the destruction of the terrible poisonous universe, which produces the unconsciousness of delusion, there is but one infallible remedy-the nectar of naturalness.

Unconsciousness, etc.-delusion which makes one unconscious of the Divine Reality. 

Naturalness-the state of pure Existence; Divine Identity.

18. That which has form is visible to the eye, while the formless is perceived mentally. That (the Self), being beyond existence and non-existence, is called intermediate.

Intermediate-neither material nor mental, i.e., beyond both.

Om Namah Shivay

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