No attachments

It is said that when Buddha inducted bhikkhunis (Pali term for ordained Buddhist nuns), he was met with considerable resistance, for he had moved away from the norm and offered women an equal place as their male counterparts. Some objected and asked him to reconsider. It was not prudent to have women in such close proximity to Buddha, they argued. Unchained by the petty views of the world, Buddha, however, did what he thought was right. The number of female followers grew rapidly in his sangha and wherever he traveled, many bhikkhunis traveled with him. This did not sit well with a lot of people and rumors spread like thoughts in a restless mind.

During one of his sojourns in a village, a small group of rowdy people hurled abuses at Buddha forcing him to cut short his discourse. They were mad at him for breaking the tradition and all that. They called him names, accused him of impiety and impropriety. Unable to bear the insult, a number of sangha members rose to their feet to confront the offenders.

“Wait!” Buddha forbade the monks raising his hand. “They are behaving like this because they don’t know me.”

He looked at the faces of his spiritual children red with anger and hurt. Buddha let a few moments roll before he said, “But, you do. Therefore, follow the path of ahimsa and sit down.”

Everyone has a whole world of thoughts, emotions, desires (mostly unfulfilled), opinions, ideas and so on in their head. What comes out of anybody’s mouth is simply a glimpse of what’s in their mind. Good and loving words tumble out from a calm and compassionate mind. Gossip and harsh words from a restless and jealous mind. It’s no rocket science. Besides,  everyone is entitled to an opinion about you. Let them.

“Does that mean, Guruji,” someone asked me, “that we just listen to their blabbering? Doesn’t being silent imply that we are not just accepting but encouraging them?”

It’s a good point but I’m not suggesting that you can only choose between silence and anger. When you are dealing with a rumormonger or a criticizer, if you are going to get angry then how are you any better though? Does that kind of behavior suit you? If anything, it’ll only ruin your own peace. As I say, under all circumstances, act in a manner that befits you. It takes patience, resolve, mindfulness and compassion to do that but, it is entirely possible. At any rate, beyond silence and hostility, there’s a third option. A better one. It’s called the Three Filters Test by Socrates.

“I’ve something important to tell you,” an acquaintance of Socrates said to him while he passed through the markets. “It’s about your friend. He—”

“Stop!” Socrates reacted. “Let me run the three filters to ascertain if I want to know it.”

The man looked somewhat confounded as Socrates continued, “First is the filter of truth. Whatever you want to tell me, have you seen or witnessed it firsthand?”

“Umm… I heard it from someone,” the man replied, “but, it is from a trusted source. I’ve observed—”

“Maybe. That does not pass my first test though,” Socrates said cutting him off, “since you don’t know whether it’s true.”

“Second is the filter of goodness. Is that a good statement you want to make about my friend?”

“Not really. That’s the reason I wanted—”

“So, you want to tell me something bad about someone but don’t know if it’s true.”

“The last is the filter of utility,” Socrates added. “Your statement about my friend, will that be useful to me?”

“Probably not, I just wanted to share…”

“Well, if the information is not necessarily true, not good, and of no use,” Socrates concluded, “I don’t want to know it.” With that the Greek philosopher walked away.

This is also my way of dealing with excessive information in the present age. Mindfully, I ask myself before indulging in a conversation: do I want to know it? Will this information fill my mind with good thoughts? Would it matter if I did or didn’t have this piece of information? After all, anyone who knows you or doesn’t know you will have an opinion about you. And, it’s perfectly fine.

What people see is what they want to see. And if they don’t see what they aspire, they’ll create it. That’s the definition of a rumor. That’s how an overactive mind imagines.

Social media has fueled our appetite for gossip. It is counterproductive and unnecessary. We waste a lot of time peeking into others’ lives. One little Nemo in the vast ocean of information. At least, I should not be a contributor on social media.

A disciple asked, “Master, is it okay for a monk to use emails?”

“Yes, son,” the guru quipped, “as long as there are no attachments.”

Om Namah Shivay

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भगवान् सबके हैं और सबमें हैं

भगवान् सबके हैं और सबमें हैं, पर मनुष्य उनसे विमुख हो गया है । संसार रात-दिन नष्ट होता जा रहा है, फिर भी वह उसको अपना मानता है और समझता है कि मेरे को संसार मिल गया । भगवान् कभी बिछुड़ते हैं ही नहीं, पर उनके लिये कहता है कि वे हैं ही नहीं, मिलते हैं ही नहीं ; भगवान्से मिलना तो बहुत कठिन है, पर भगवान् तो सदा मिले हुए ही रहते हैं । भाई ! आप अपनी दृष्टि उधर डालते ही नहीं, उधर देखते ही नहीं । जहाँ-जहाँ आप देखते हो , वहाँ-वहाँ भगवान् मौजूद हैं । अगर यह बात स्वीकार कर लो, मान लो कि सब देश में, सब काल में, सब वस्तुओं में, सम्पूर्ण घटनाओं में, सम्पूर्ण परिस्थितियों में, सम्पूर्ण क्रियाओं में भगवान् हैं, तो भगवान् दीखने लग जायेंगे ।दृढ़तासे मानोगे तो दीखेंगे, संदेह होगा तो नहीं दीखेंगे । जितना मानोगे, उतना लाभ जरूर होगा । दृढ़ता से मान लो तो छिप ही नहीं सकते भगवान् ! क्योंकि‒

यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति ।
तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि स च मे न प्रणश्यति ॥
(गीता ६ । ३०)

‘जो सब में मेरे को देखता है और सब को मेरे अन्तर्गत देखता है, मैं उसके लिये अदृश्य नहीं होता और वह मेरे लिये अदृश्य नहीं होता ।’

जहाँ देखें, जब देखें, जिस देश में देखें, वहीं भगवान् हैं । परन्तु जहाँ राग-द्वेष होंगे, वहाँ भगवान् नहीं दीखेंगे ।भगवान् के दीखने में राग-द्वेष ही बाधक हैं । जहाँ अनुकूलता मान लेंगे, वहाँ राग हो जायगा और जहाँ प्रतिकूलता मान लेंगे, वहाँ द्वेष हो जायगा । एक आदमी की दो बेटियों थीं । दोनों बेटियाँ पास-पास गाँव में ब्याही गयी थीं । एक बेटी वालों का खेती का काम था और एक का कुम्हार का काम था । वह आदमी उस बेटी के यहाँ गया, जो खेतीका काम करती थी और उससे पूछा कि क्या ढंग है बेटी ? उसने कहा ‒ पिताजी ! अगर पाँच-सात दिनों में वर्षा नहीं हुई तो खेती सूख जायगी, कुछ नहीं होगा । अब वह दूसरी बेटीके यहाँ गया और उससे पूछा कि क्या ढंग है ? तो वह बोली ‒ पिताजी ! अगर पाँच-सात दिनों में वर्षा आ गयी तो कुछ नहीं होगा; क्यों कि मिट्टीके घड़े धूप में रखे हैं और कच्चे घड़ों पर यदि वर्षा हो जायगी तो सब मिट्टी हो जायगी ! अब आप लोग बतायें कि भगवान् वर्षा करें या न करें ! दोनों एक आदमी की बेटियों हैं । माता-पिता सदा बेटी का भला चाहते हैं । अब करें क्या ? एक ने वर्षा होना अनुकूल मान लिया और एक ने वर्षा होना प्रतिकूल मान लिया । एक ने वर्षा न होना अनुकूल मान लिया और एक ने वर्षा न होना प्रतिकूल मान लिया । उन्होंने वर्षा होने को ठीक – बेठीक मान लिया । परन्तु वर्षा न ठीक है न बेठीक है । वर्षा होने वाली होगी तो होगी ही । अगर कोई वर्षा होने को ठीक मानता है तो उसका वर्षा में ‘राग’ हो गया और वर्षा होने को ठीक नहीं मानता तो उसका वर्षा में ‘द्वेष’ हो गया । ऐसे ही यह संसार तो एक – सा है, पर इस में ठीक और बेठीक‒ये दो मान्यताएँ कर लीं तो फँस गये !

Om Namah Shivay

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The Journey of Life-3

Like other emotions, contentment has to be cultivated in our consciousness. Anytime you step out, you will find people with better homes, cars, bodies, talents and wealth. They are all around you. When you see them, you may feel jealous, envious or inspired. Either way, it makes your present look lackluster. I’m not saying that anyone should sit idle and twiddle their thumbs. Each one of us is free to chase whatever matters to us. Having said that, every pursuit has a cost.

Contentment sprouts from mindful living, a sense that I don’t have to do something just because others are doing it. If you are not able to live in the present moment and find beauty in it, future is not going to be any better. For future is nothing more than present moments unfolding. My past in the afternoon was my future in the morning.

Life is like a river, ever changing, ever flowing. You can step into it again and again, thinking you are bathing in the same river. It is anything but true. The water that was there earlier is no longer there. Every time you take a dip, it is in new water. No two moments are alike. It is ignorant to cling to your past or a future. Life runs its own course. The river may be muddy in monsoons or cold in winter. It may be pleasantly warm on some days and crystal clear on other. At any rate, as long as the source does not dry up, it will continue flowing. Much like life.

Since we are already on the journey of life, we may as well walk with grace, with contentment. Whoever would roam, whoever would stay…

Flow if you want to merge in the ocean.

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We should have this deep faith that there is someone who loves us totally and will take care of everything for us. Then we can be free of all our worries and difficulties.

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It seems the harder I work, the more luck I have.

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Make a goal to arrive at work 10 minutes early.

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The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.

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Take time to be grateful for the opportunity to work, especially when you feel like complaining.

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Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

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Find what you love doing, and put your whole heart into it.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.

Om Namah Shivay

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राग-द्वेषका त्याग-3

अच्छा और बुरा लगता है, ठीक और बेठीक लगता है‒यह राग-द्वेष है । इसके वशमें न होना क्या है ? इसको तमाशेकी तरह देखे कि क्या अच्छा है और क्या मन्दा है ! न सुख रहनेवाला है, न दुःख रहनेवाला है । न बीमारी रहनेवाली है, न स्वस्थता रहनेवाली है । कुछ भी रहनेवाला नहीं है । इन सबका वियोग होने वाला है । बहुत दिनों तक संयोग रहने पर भी एक दिन वियोग जरूर होगा‒‘अवश्यं यातारश्चिरतरमुषित्वाऽपि विषयाः ।’ अतः सज्जनो ! इस बातको पहलेसे ही समझ लो कि एक दिन इन सबका वियोग होगा । लड़का जन्मे, तभी यह समझ लेना चाहिये कि यह मरेगा जरूर ! यह बड़ा होगा कि नहीं होगा, पढ़ेगा कि नहीं पढ़ेगा, इसका विवाह होगा कि नहीं होगा, इसके लड़का-लड़की होंगे कि नहीं‒इसमें सन्देह है; परन्तु यह मरेगा कि नहीं मरेगा‒इसमें कोई सन्देह है क्या ? जन्म हुआ है तो खास काम मरना ही है, और कोई खास काम नहीं है । अब इसमें राजी और नाराज क्या हों । अपने तो मौजसे भगवान्की तरफ चलते रहें । जो वैराग्यवान् होते हैं, विवेकी होते हैं, भगवान्के प्रेमी भक्त होते हैं, वे इन आने-जानेवाले पदार्थोंकी तरफ दृष्टि रखते ही नहीं । वे करने में सावधान और होने में सदा प्रसन्न रहते हैं ।

रज्जब रोवे कौन को, हँसे सो कौन विचार ।
गये सो आवन के नहीं रहे सो जावनहार ॥

सब जानेवाला है, मरनेवाला है तो क्या हँसें ! जो मर चुके, उनको कितना ही रोयें, वे आनेके हैं नहीं तो क्या रोयें ! यह विचार स्थायी कर लो । फिर राग-द्वेष मिट जायँगे ।

राग-द्वेषको सह लो अर्थात् प्रियकी प्राप्ति होनेपर हर्षित न हों और अप्रियकी प्राप्ति होनेपर उद्विग्न न हों । फिर आप जन्म-मरणसे रहित हो जाओगे । सन्तोंने कहा है‒‘अब हम अमर भये न मरेंगे ।’ अब क्यों मरेंगे ? मरनेवाले तो ये राग-द्वेष ही हैं । इन दोनोंको नाशवान् और पतन करनेवाले समझो । चाहे तो ऐसा समझकर इनसे अलग हो जाओ, नहीं तो भगवान्को पुकारो कि ‘हे नाथ ! हे नाथ !! रक्षा करो !’जैसे, मोटर खराब हो जाय तो खुद ठीक कर लो । खुद ठीक न कर सको तो कारखाने में भेज दो ! ऐसे ही राग-द्वेषसे अलग न हो सको तो भगवान्की शरणमें चले जाओ । भगवान्ने गीताके अन्तमें कहा कि ‘तू मेरी शरणमें आ जा’‘मामेकं शरणं व्रज’ (गीता १८ । ६६) ।

एक ब्राह्मण देवताकी कन्या बड़ी हो गयी । उसने एक धर्मात्मा सेठके पास जाकर कहा‒‘सेठजी ! कन्या बड़ी हो गयी, क्या करूँ ?’ सेठने कहा‒‘आप वर ढूँढ़ो, तैयारी करो, चिन्ता क्यों करते हो ?’ इसका अर्थ यह नहीं है कि सेठ ही आकर वर ढूँढ़ेंगे, विवाह करायेंगे, प्रत्युत इसका अर्थ है कि चिन्ता मत करो; धन हम दे देंगे, काम तुम करो । इसी तरह भगवान् कहते हैं कि ‘तुम अपना काम करो, चिन्ता मत करो । तुम्हें जो अभाव होगा, उसे मैं पूरा करूँगा ।’

Om Namah Shivay

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The Journey of Life-2

Past the fake, or illusory, Facebook smiles most people live through a silent despair life brings with dawn every day. As if each one of us is carrying a weight inside us. It’s not always the weight of emotions. Sometimes, you are not angry, jealous, envious or discontent and yet you are not happy either. You don’t feel okay, fulfilled or complete.

Some days you may feel that life is perfect but it’s not a long lasting feeling. Almost everyone I know longs for a somewhat different life. Something different ought to happen, we feel. This fond longing quickly turns into a kind of melancholy. Consequently, feeling that our present life is inadequate and incomplete, we increasingly harbor regrets and grudges and go on to make dumb choices hoping it would erase the sadness within. All of this springs from just one perspective, one emotion: discontentment.

Arjuna once asked Krishna, “Who is a true yogi, Lord?”

“The one who finds contentment in the present moment and knows the way of moderation is the greatest yogi.”

Krishna did not call a meditator a true yogi, he did not call his devotee a yogi. He did not say that those who follow a certain belief system or practice rituals are yogis. Instead, he just simplified it. If you are content and tranquil, you are a yogi.

It is so easy to be obsessed about a pursuit. With a self-centered attitude, our obsessions lead to a sort of blindness. You fail to see the good around you. And this in turn creates frustration which ultimately brews anger. Clearly, you can’t be at peace or think clearly when angry. In such a state, it’s impossible to shed our maniac tendencies or find contentment in the present moment.

Gau dhan gaj dhan vaaji dhan aur ratan dhan khan,

Jab aave santosh dhan, sab dhan dhoori saman. (Saint Kabir)

IAST: godhana gajadhana vajidhana, aura ratanadhana khāna,

jaba āvai saṃtoṣadhana, saba dhana dhūrī samāna.

Your possession of cows, elephants, steeds, even a whole mine of precious stones is worthless compared to the wealth of contentment.

In my view, on the journey of life, contentment is the greatest blessing. By using the word blessing, however, I’m not suggesting that some of us are born with it and some others aren’t. Or that it is bestowed upon us by some external force. By blessing, I simply mean it’s the most divine emotion you can have. When you are truly content, you are compassionate and giving naturally. You spread happiness, goodness and kindness.

Om Namah Shivay

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Four Aspects of Mindful Parenting-2

Time (Samaya)

The most important question is do you have time for parenting? Luxuries, best education, gadgets do not make up for time. Good parenting requires that you give your children time. I know it’s demanding at work and you come home tired and have no energy to even utter a word, but to make a “good parent” you have to give “good time”.

This may mean cutting down on your TV or other activities and spending more time with your child(ren). Or it could be that you curtail your professional ambitions and put your family higher on the priority list. A family doesn’t need to be in a million-dollar home to be happy. You don’t have to take out that big mortgage or have a premium car. Millions of people communicate comfortably without an iPhone. You get the idea.

It’s not just true for parenting but everything. Whatever you want to nurture, you have to devote it time. Give time to angry thoughts and anger grows. Give your time to loving thoughts and love grows and so on. Want to learn anything, give it time.

Friendship (Maitri)

Ordinarily, maitri is referred to as loving-kindness. Its literal meaning is friendship. Anything coming from or given by a friend or even belonging to a friend is maitri. With friends, we can pour our heart out without being judged. If your children can come home and share their pains and sorrows without the fear of reprisal or penalties, the tree of friendship will take deep roots.

And, it’s true not just for a parent-child but all relationships. Friendship is the fuel. Lack of maitri, where two people are more focused on keeping things from each other than sharing them, gives rise to permanent undercurrents of tension and discomfort. As I have written many a time earlier that being a friend doesn’t mean you always say yes. On the contrary, it means to be able to say No in a positive way. It is to disagree while maintaining a healthy relationship. It is not as hard as it may sound in a sincere relationship.

Joy (Mudita)

Mudita is a simple word with a straightforward meaning: joy. Even if you have compassion and you are devoting time to parenting and there’s a degree of friendship but your relationship lacks joy, it’ll get very difficult very quickly. The joy of celebrating victories, the joy of having a family, the joy of laughing away at the pranks of life. The heart to live through failures. The courage to forgive and seek forgiveness. A sort of openness and honesty allows you to be comfortable with those around you.

If most conversations with your kids revolve around lecturing them, however soft or positive you may sound, even as friends, joy in your relationship with them will evaporate in no time. They’ll start avoiding you. Most parents have this strong tendency to keep showering advice on their children. Of course, it’s done with the right intention but would you feel joyous being with a “friendly” boss who keeps telling you how to become better? Sometimes, no advice is the best advice.

 

Om Namah Shivay

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The Journey of Life-1

The other day I chanced upon a beautiful poem by Corey Mohler illustrated on his website. Although it was titled Two Brothers, it could have been easily called The Truth of Human Existence. I found the poem so profound that for a moment, I even contemplated on just sharing it as my post today sans all the commentary or my own thoughts. Without further ado, here it is:

Two sons were born beneath the old tree.

They grew together, both loved and free.

They travelled the fields, they roamed the hill.

They crossed the river, explored the mill.

They fought with dragons and giants tall.

Mighty warriors—they conquered all.

At each day’s end, they slept safe at night.

A loving father tucked them in at night.

The father aged and then he died.

The eldest wept and the youngest cried.

The farm, of course, would be run alone.

So the youngest left, to find his own.

They looked into each other’s eyes.

Beneath the old tree, they said goodbyes.

The eldest tilled fields, beneath the sun.

With his sweat and work, the farm was run.

A wife soon came to his warm, safe home.

He was always loved, but would not roam.

Each day, he dreamt of his brother free.

Always regretting that it was not he.

Years flew by, at last they met again.

Beneath the old tree stood two old men.

He told his brother of farming life:

No adventures — only work and strife.

Oh, how he dreamt of the open road

And how he felt trapped in his abode.

The brother told of the life he led,

Of the long and weary road, he said:

Many lonely nights in driving rain,

It was a single thought that kept me sane.

That my brother was home, safe and warm.

A loving home, far from rain and storm.

Hard work I could stand, but this I swear:

The days alone were too much to bear.

His heart grew sad as he bowed his head,

And to his brother, the elder said:

What a tragic tale then, for us two:

That you had not my place, and I you.

His brother sighed, then smiled wide,

Thought for a moment, before he replied:

You’ve missed the point of this little tale.

For I’ll tell you, brother, without fail:

Whoever would roam, whoever would stay,

We both would regret it, either way.

(Do visit Corey Mohler’s Existential Comics if you wish to see the poem depicted as beautifully as its words are.)

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!

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